Chapter Five: With those words, shock spread throughout the crowd!
Translated by Jouissance of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
When DanTai ZiYan arrived, there were already quite a lot of people in the great hall. Half of the elites of the ShangYuan Sect were gathered, and many others from other sects in the QingBo Higher Realm had also arrived to give their blessings.
To these elite cultivators, a junior reaching Foundation Establishment was insignificant, but because of DanTai ZiYan’s position, this was different.
Originally, it should be mostly Foundation Establishment core disciples and Golden Core deacons that came to celebrate his advancement, saving the date and getting there early to wait. However, no one had expected that DanTai ZiYan’s talent was in fact far beyond what they had thought, managing to craft a high-level artefact at Foundation Establishment. His value had already far surpassed that of an heir to the Artificer Patriarch, and many cultivators didn’t wait to bring the news back.
There were teleportation arrays between large sects, so soon enough, it was the elders that were here to celebrate instead of those juniors. The gifts they brought were more expensive as well, so when DanTai ZiYan arrived, the place was decorated lavishly, and all the powerful cultivators were gathered and prepared.
The Nascent Soul Elder from the Chu Clan had been settled in a position only second to the Five Great Sects, making the members of the other sects red-eyed with jealousy.
To them, the Chu Clan was just a small clan from a middle realm. They were good enough to unite with the DanTai family in marriage, but the ShangYuan Sect? They shouldn’t even dream of it! They should count it the highest honor for one of Chu Clan’s main family disciples to marry ShangYuan Sect’s young patriarch as even a concubine.
“Congratulations on advancing, Shixiong, and your success at crafting a high-level artefact at Foundation Establishment. I don’t doubt that within three days the Celestial Artificer Guild will send a representative to record such an incredible act, immortalizing it into your legacy.” A young, white-robed man stepped forth from the main table, his androgynous features clean and beautiful. His dark hair curled around his face, eyes lit up with a smile, yet at the same time holding a sensual temptation that was hard to describe, drawing people into the depth of his gaze. He looked extremely young, but his cultivation level had already reached Peak Foundation Establishment Stage, and he had hints of a Golden Core Stage cultivator’s aura about him.
“Who is he?”
“He called the heir to ShangYuan Sect’s Artificer Patriarch Shixiong.”
“Have you been living under a rock? I can’t believe you don’t know Xiao Yan. He’s the son of the ShangYuan Sect’s Sect Leader and the inheriting disciple of the Spirit Cultivation Linage’s Patriarch. He managed to rank on the Golden Core WenXian Rankings despite only being at Foundation Establishment. Now, he’s already at Peak Foundation Establishment Stage. The Divine Realm’s Recordkeepers have foretold that once Xiao Yan forms his core, he’s certain to become one of the top hundred on the WenXian Rankings.”
“So what? Compared to Xiao Yan’s strength, he’s far more well known for his beauty. It’s one of the four great beauties of the QingBo Realm, with countless suitors. However, Xiao Yan’s never shown any interest in them; his heart is set on DanTai ZiYan. The Chu Clan’s representative is here today as well. Things sure are about to get interesting.”
The few Foundation Establishment cultivators from some unimportant sects sat in the corner of the great hall, thinking that their telepathic conversation was well hidden and inaudible. In reality, their exchange had fallen into the ears of all the Nascent Soul Elders sitting above.
Hmph, interesting? Did they think the Chu Clan was good enough to compete against the Xiao Family?
DanTai ZiYan shook his head slightly, smiling humbly. “It wasn’t anything so special, Shidi, just a high-level artefact. I even had to borrow Divine Forces to do so. It wasn’t truly my own achievement, so it really isn’t anything worthy of so much praise. When I’m able to craft transcendent level artifacts on my own, then I’ll be truly worthy of the Celestial Artificer Guild.”
These words sounded humble, but they were actually filled with lofty pride. Even Nascent Soul cultivators would have great difficulty using Divine Forces to craft artifacts, and only the most talented of artificer master would be recognized by the Celestial Artificer Guild, hailed for centuries to come! The sheer confidence he had in his own abilities was unbelievable.
If any normal genius said such arrogant words, it would only arouse displeasure, but when DanTai ZiYan said them, it seemed perfectly reasonable.
DanTai ZiYan made a motion of acknowledgement to the visitors before summoning a jade box to his hand. It looked to hold the high-level artefact he had crafted moments ago.
The Nascent Soul elders who had been watching on, relaxed, grew solemn. Many artificers with talent and background would auction off their first crafted artefact. This auction was less of a way to do business and more of a signal to others that they now had the ability to craft artifacts, as to establish their brand, so to speak.
Half of these visitors had been sent here on express orders by their faction to do everything in their power to win the bid if DanTai ZiYan was putting up his artefact for auction, thus establishing foundations for a cooperative and amiable relationship with DanTai ZiYan.
A Golden Core Stage elder from a mid-tier sect impatiently spoke up, “DanTai Xianshi’s (1) auction today is certain to become the topic of the season and set records for worth in spirit stones. This elder’s sect might be small, but we’re willing to provide whatever support we can.” After he finished speaking, he was filled with pride at being the first to give his support. He was sure to be remembered.
DanTai ZiYan frowned slightly, his gaze ghosting over the Golden Core Stage elder’s face nonchalantly. He had only just established his foundation, yet his glance had the Golden Core Stage elder feeling a chill envelop him. Had he misspoken?
“This artefact is for my beloved wife. I do not plan on auctioning it.” DanTai ZiYan walked up to the Chu Clan Elder amidst the surprised gazes and quiet intakes of breath. “Elder, could you please pass this on the A-Qing?”
Ever since the Chu Clan Nascent Soul Elder took his seat in the hall, he had felt an anger building in his lungs. The Chu Clan was a powerful, immense family in the AnYang Realm, yet all these people here looked down on them. If it was just them, then they would let it go, but these people were also looking down on their WuQing. In terms of talent, Chu WuQing was a single root cultivator, second only to aberrant root cultivators. In terms of beauty, this Xiao Yan wasn’t even good enough to lick their WuQing’s boots. It was never the Chu Clan who pandered to the ShangYuan Sect, wanting to unite with them in marriage, but DanTai ZiYan who refused to let go of Chu WuQing.
Originally, the two had thought that the Clan Head’s decision to break off the engagement was too rushed, only coming over because they didn’t dare disobey, but now, anger building inside, their habitual protectiveness of WuQing had them eyeing DanTai ZiYan with distaste. WuQing would only end up being bullied by a person like this if they ever became cultivation partners. This engagement couldn’t be kept!
“No need. The Chu Clan respectfully congratulates DanTai Xianshi for your success at crafting a high-level artefact.” The Chu Clan elder said softly. “We too have come here on the orders of our Clan Head to ShangYuan Sect to break off the engagement between our Clan Head’s son, Chu WuQing and DanTai Xianshi.”
With those words, shock spread throughout the crowd!
Everyone thought the Chu Clan was barking mad. Had they really heard that right? Right now, no one didn’t want to try and get on DanTai ZiYan’s good side, yet the Chu Clan had decided to throw away their advantage and break off the engagement between those two?
Plus, they even announced it in front of all these people, not at all caring about saving DanTai ZiYan, the ShangYuan Sect or the Artificer linage’s face.
The entire hall fell into silence. Everyone’s gazes were on the Chu Clan representatives and DanTai ZiYan, some shocked, some disdainful, some amused, but mostly angered, coming from the disciples of the ShangYuan Sect.
How dare the Chu Clan!
“Break off the engagement? It should be broken. An insignificant main family disciple of the Chu Clan isn’t good enough to be Shixiong’s concubine even as a human cauldron. Our ShangYuan Sect doesn’t need a second-rate human cauldron like that.” Xiao Yan’s words broke the silence, and after he finished speaking, he looked up at DanTai ZiYan, eyes filled with adoration.
Xiao Yan’s words had the entire atmosphere shifting. To them, the Chu Clan breaking off the engagement was unimaginable, but the ShangYuan Sect breaking off the engagement was perfectly reasonable.
What ugly toad would think lowly of a swan? It should be the swan trampling the toad underfoot (2). Plus, with a peerless beauty like Xiao Yan, why would DanTai ZiYan even care about a cultivation partner he got engaged to when he was young?
It was obvious that the Chu Clan was only striking first out of fear that they would be humiliated when the ShangYuan Sect inevitably broke off the engagement.
“I don’t agree to this.” DanTai ZiYan’s expression hadn’t even twitched, his prideful smile still present on his lips. “When we got engaged, our two sects swore oaths to unite. It’s not something that can be broken just like that. No one can change the fact that Chu WuQing is DanTai ZiYan’s, that he is my future wife. A-Qing won’t agree either.”
These words were like a slap to Xiao Yan’s face, as well as those who thought that the Chu Clan were just pandering to DanTai ZiYan. However, DanTai ZiYan didn’t care, acting like these people and their feelings were insignificant.
This was when they realized that DanTai ZiYan wasn’t lying about Chu WuQing being his beloved wife. That high-level artefact really was crafted for Chu WuQing.
“DanTai Xianshi, just accept it. It was WuQing who requested the clan head to break off this engagement. Do you think anyone can force the Chu Clan into doing what they don’t want to do?” The Chu Clan Elder sighed in lament, “We truly are sorry for your refusal.”
The Chu Clan’s hard attitude was completely unexpected. Though they all thought the Chu Clan was crazy, they couldn’t help but feel somewhat impressed. It seemed that they really weren’t afraid of making an enemy out of the ShangYuan Sect at all, breaking off an engagement like this.
Meanwhile, those who were too afraid to be jealous of DanTai ZiYan due to his lofty position started delighting in his misfortune at this series of events. People often took malicious pleasure in seeing prodigies fail. And, that high level artefact, crafted with a shocking, incredible method, no matter what kind of reputation it would give DanTai ZiYan, it would always be accompanied by the mockery of rejection. DanTai ZiYan, rejected by a weak, small family during his advancement celebration. It would become the hottest joke of the cultivation world, a blemish to his name he’d never be rid of.
It wasn’t until then that DanTai ZiYan’s self-confident expression began to crack, but he still didn’t lose his composure nor show any signs of abjection. Instead, his smile widened, “Is that so? A-Qing no longer loves me? But so what? I’m the young Patriarch of the ShangYuan Sect’s Artificer linage, our union was formally approved by my Shizun, Gan Yun Xianzun (3). It’s not something you can break off just like this. Perhaps you might think that these words sound like a threat,” DanTai ZiYan was wholly unaffected by the anger that radiated from the Chu Clan Elder, leaking into his aura. He could even continue caressing the jade box in his hands, like he was caressing a lover’s face, looking down with a smile. “This threat is in no way implied. I am threatening you, right here right now. What are you going to do about it, hm?”
Bang! The long table in front of the Chu Clan Elder crumbled under the power of his aura.
Though DanTai ZiYan’s tone was arrogant and extremely rude, the Chu Clan Elder didn’t rebuke him, and he couldn’t kill the other for it either. If they dared touch a hair on DanTai ZiYan’s head, they could forget about leaving in one piece. They had no choice was to accept the humiliation. However, they were here on the Clan Head’s orders. The ShangYuan Sect was terrifying, but their clan head was equally so. The two could only light up a high-level messaging talisman in front of everyone and report back.
Soon enough, the two received a reply and broadcasted the message as the Clan Head ordered.
As the talisman burned, a young man’s voice spoke from it. “WuQing is very sorry for pulling you into this, elders. DanTai ZiYan, our engagement is something between the two of us, why do you have to drag others into it? If you disagree, then we’ll go according to the rules, and engage in a clan war. After I establish my foundation, I’ll come to ShangYuan Sect to duel to the death. Even if I have to die in the arena, I won’t marry someone like you.”
DanTai YiYan’s entire demeanour wilted as he listened to the young man’s words, the gleam of certain victory in his eyes vanishing, leaving behind emptiness…
“A-Qing…” He murmured, his voice full of emotion, like it had taken all his energy to speak. All that was left on his face was an expression of utter exhaustion.
The jade box slipped from his fingers, it’s contents escaping it’s protection in mid-air and crashing onto the floor.
Though it was a high-level artefact, it followed it’s master’s will, becoming as fragile as mortal glass, shattering when it hit the ground!
Everyone here had basically came here for the high-level artefact. Seeing it break before their eyes was like a punch to the heart. Though what broke was merely a delicately stylish men’s hairpin, every curve and groove had been crafted with the crafter’s deep love.
Yet, this artefact which was destined to go down in history, had been destroyed with its master’s heart.
DanTai ZiYan lowered his head mechanically to gaze at the shattered hairpin on the ground, absently. After a moment, he seemed to come back to reality and grabbed the messaging talisman that WuQing had used, rubbing his fingers over it.
A duel to the death? Very well.
Then he’ll just have to cripple A-Qing’s limbs and Spiritual Root in said duel. Without arms, he would bring A-Qing whatever he wanted. Without legs, he would take A-Qing wherever A-Qing wanted to go. Without a Spiritual Root to absorb spiritual energy, he would transfer his spiritual energy to A-Qing through constant dual cultivation.
At this thought, DanTai ZiYan felt the blood in his veins roaring, his eyes gleaming with an unreadable emotion. What should he do? He was suddenly looking forward to this duel to the death.
A-Qing, are you touched by how much I love you? How could you not love me back?
Chu WuQing was on his flying jade boat, heading to the XianQi Pavillion Auction when suddenly he felt a chill spread across his body, making him shiver, like something had licked the back of his neck with an icy cold tongue.
He felt cold to the bone, like someone was stalking him. It was a feeling he had only ever felt once in his past life, when Lin Yi had used a blood curse to prevent his arms from ever growing back.
“Is DanTai ZiYan cursing me?” Chu WuQing wondered coldly, yet there was a gentle amusement in his eyes. “Duelling to the death is merely paying you back for what you did in that past life and you already can’t take it? Too bad for you, this is just the beginning.” He paused, the smile on his face growing. “I’ll make sure to treasure you.”
So long as the people he didn’t like weren’t happy, then he was happy.
This duel to the death wasn’t just to humiliate the other. Once he got what he needed in the lower realm, his potential would improve further. In his past life he had reached Nascent Soul Stage. With his experience from his past life, he could utilize his currently weak cultivation to the fullest.
DanTai ZiYan was such a proud person. If he could crush that pride on the duelling arena, destroy her Spiritual Resolve with Lin Yi watching, unable to do anything… How amusing that would be.
(1) Xianshi, comprised of the characters 仙 (divine/immortal) and 师 (master) is a title for a respected cultivator, usually a master or rising star of a particular craft or style.
(2) An ugly toad wanting to eat swan meat is a saying in China meaning someone lowly or unworthy wanting something or (usually) someone way out of their league, with the ugly toad as the “lowly” one and the swan as what they covet.
(3) Xianzun, comprised of the characters 仙 (divine/immortal) and 尊 (respected/honoured, also used to mean greatest/most or more senior/one with the most power). A title for a very respected cultivator, usually extremely powerful, well-known and revered with a very high position