Translated by ethidda of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The downpour continued. It was another year’s day to choose immortals at JinQue. It was overcrowded outside the JinQue Jade Pass. Rather than choosing immortals, it seemed like a market.
There were some men and women present who even put on makeup. Their cheeks were vibrant with blush. This was what had been popular for the last century, the azure dragon palette that started from the water species and then spread to all the other species. But it had changed over the last century and was no longer as eye-catching as the original water species creation, with two circles of deep red. Now, everybody put on the red lightly, and it made them look to be in great health.
Because of the battle between the dragon and the phoenix a hundred years ago, the Yuling Sect’s reputation improved even more. And because Luo Pin died, with his cultivation dispersed, the heaven and earth needed to reach a new balance. Many creatures with excellent cultivation roots had emerged in the last hundred years.
If one wanted to embark on the path of cultivation, their first choice would no doubt be the Yuling Sect. Even if they did not have enough talent, they would still experience Yuling, and only after, switch to be under another place.
Zhao MengYang was a mortal from the Rong Empire. Because he had the roots of wisdom 1 , he was brought to Yuling to participate in the Imperial Palace’s Recruitment of the Immortals.
Around him were also friends he made on the way here. In the end, not everybody could be chosen to enter JinQue and see real Yuling. But even just being outside of Yuling was enough to make them excited.
“Look, that should be an image of Yu Zhao XianJun!” 2
Someone pointed at the stone statue at the top of Jade Pass Cliff in the distance.
Even though they couldn’t see the details, everybody still exclaimed their excitement appropriately.
Especially Zhao MengYang. He was from the capital of Rong!
The battle between the dragon and phoenix back then had taken place at the capital city of Rong Empire. He grew up with the stories of Yuling Sect and the azure dragon. Yu Zhao also took up quite a few chapters in the stories. Now, at the entrance to the city of Rong, there was a bronze statue of Yu Zhao, and it was cast according to the memories of the craftsmen who had been present. The families collected the bronze themselves. It had originally stood by the street, but later the emperor personally decreed that it should be moved to where Yu Zhao had stood.
Zhao MengYang’s great grandparent had been an official in the palace at that time, serving RongWu Emperor, who was the son of god.
Speaking of this, later generations found RongWu Emperor quite controversial. They thought that on the day he was enthroned, the dragon and the phoenix appeared but had a great battle, and this was also a portent. RongWu Emperor had been in power for over 40 years, but he did not get his throne righteously, so people criticized. But he expanded the territory of Rong Empire unprecedentedly fast. Moreover, he was merciless towards corrupt officials, even to the point of cruelty, where he targeted corrupt officials for torture. It had terrified all the officials in his court, afraid of even doing the justified things.
Zhao MengYang’s thoughts wandered. Then he turned to see the examiner this time — Yuan Gang. It was said that this was the azure dragon His Highness Shen’s disciple, that he had also been present at the dragon and phoenix battle. But he still looked like a youth in his twenties.
This is what it means to be a cultivator… Zhao MengYang thought to himself. A hundred years passed for him like the snap of a finger. Several generations of mortals have come and gone, but he was still as young as ever.
“There are plain theurgy techniques and there are miraculous theurgy techniques. Remember, the choices you make will very likely determine your way in the future!” Yuan Gang’s exam used illusion techniques. Instantly, the hundred years seemed like a dream. When he woke up again, Zhao MengYang had already passed the Imperial Palace’s Recruitment of the Immortals and became a Yuling disciple.
Zhao MengYang suppressed his joy, and worked hard to be calm. He entered JinQue along with those new peers around him, who may have been truly calm or just faking it like he was.
The new disciples were brought to Xiamo Pavilion. Here, they took the first step on the path to cultivation.
The manager at Xiamo Pavilion started giving the first lesson to the new disciples. He stood in front of everyone with his hands behind his back, and asked, “Everybody, do you know what is the most important thing, as a cultivator, especially a Yuling Sect cultivator?”
He asked this question to the newly accepted Yuling Sect disciples? Everybody gave their own answers, whether something they made up or something they heard.
“No.” The manager shook his head. “It’s to always pay back your debts.”
Always pay back your debts? Everybody considered deeply what this meant. Did this mean that one must not rush on the way to cultivation? That if you succeeded by a shortcut today, you would pay the price for it tomorrow? That one must not have the intention to harm others, and if you did harm others, you would definitely have karmic retribution?
The manager said loudly, “Our Yuling Sect is heavily in debt. The debt owner is His Majesty the Azure Dragon Shen. All Yuling disciples are like brothers and sisters, and are all responsible for helping repay the debt! Congratulations, everyone, when you enter Yuling today, you will have this identity in common. After today, whether your cultivation level is high or low, it’s strong or weak, whichever Master you study under, you need to remember that there is no free water at Yuling. Our debt owner is His Majesty Xiaoshen.”
The manager finished his eloquent speech, which was strangely motivating, and sounded like he had recited it many times. Now the manager very quickly changed his expression, as if everything just now was a figment of their imagination. He said, as if fluttering along with immortal energy, “Five thousand years ago, Grandmaster Fang Cun said timelessly: ‘When a man cultivates, he cultivates his nature and refines his fate. He uses his heart to understand the Dao. His heart is the tool of the Dao…’”
Leisurely, he gave a speech of thousands of words, a very profound speech. Who in the group still cared that they suddenly had a shared debt to repay? They hurried to memorize every word.
Finally, the manager held up one finger. “Also, the number one rule for entering the mountain — Do not disturb the submerged dragon!”
Do not disturb the submerged dragon. What exactly did that mean?
Zhao MengYang thought a lot about this sentence without understanding it. In the entire Yuling Sect, His Majesty Xiaoshen should be the only dragon. But didn’t hehave his own palace? And wasn’t he in isolation? So why was it necessary to say not to disturb him? It should be the case that nobody could disturb him. Then would it be necessary to say not to disturb His Highness who was in the water?
On the other hand, as a Yuling disciple, even though they were heavily in debt the moment they entered the sect, they actually received a great advantage that outsiders couldn’t get. That was that they could go work at the Dragon King’s Palace to do chores!
This counted as a way for the new disciples to cultivate, actually. In other sects, they would be normal low level workers. If you could not climb your way up, then you would be stuck in this painful situation. But at Yuling, this was a great opportunity to see His Highness the Azure Dragon.
In the entire human realm, who didn’t know that His Highness Xiaoshen had used the pinnacle of illusion techniques, known as the so-called transcendent branch of water techniques, and played with Luo Pin as if in the palm of his hands. It could even be said that his Way gave new understanding to the essence of water techniques. It served and used the blue clouds to send off an immortal, allowing Yu Zhao to ascend. His actions, even if he was not born to the dragon species, would still be spoken of through ages.
Naturally, Xiaoshen normally spent the most time in his palace on land. It was unusual to catch sight of him elsewhere. Many of the disciples who had risen in rank actually did not want to give up this work. At Yuling, there was an endless parade of people who were nostalgic about first entering the palace, but not properly appreciating it.
Zhao MengYang had already entered the sect for half a year when he got his first chance to have an up close meeting with His Highness Xiaoshen. Amongst the disciples who had entered at the same time as him, many had already spoken with His Highness Xiaoshen. After they returned, they would be so excited that they would not sleep for three days and three nights, and only spend that time on cultivating.
—Speaking of this, Xiamo Pavilion had a record of a disciple who after the first time being inquired by His Highness, was so excited that he broke through to the next ranking that very night. He also became the fastest disciple to break through the Yingning (first) Stage. Unfortunately after that, he was sent away from the palace and it became very difficult for him to see His Highness.
Zhao MengYang suddenly saw His Highness Xiaoshen. He had been attending to the palace, planting spiritual plants. He suddenly discovered that the water next to him had moments and waves. An azure dragon came out from underneath, splashing water everywhere, getting Zhao MengYang completely wet. But he didn’t feel it at all. He just stared at that dragon.
To humans, it was an enormous body, every scale glimmered with light. The severe dragon eyes, the sharply lifting dragon horns… It was completely exactly how Zhao MengYang had imagined countless times how a dragon was.
The azure dragon lowered his head and then saw the tiny human. “Hey, I accidentally got you wet. Are you ok?”
His voice was clear, with a bit of a foreign accent, but very charming.
Zhao MengYang blushed. “It’s… it’s fine.”
After a moment, he added, “Your Highness.”
Actually privately, everybody did as the patriarch did, calling His Highness Xiaoshen “Debt holder” this and “Debt holder” that. They thought it was funny. But they didn’t dare to call him that to Xiaoshen’s face.
“Haha.” Xiaoshen chuckled twice. He shrunk down into his cultivation form, which was a beautiful youth dressed in green. It was unlike how people would normally imagine him, which was an imposing middle aged man, but from Zhao MengYang’s perspective, didn’t he cut a more romantic figure to defeat evil with the body of a youth?
Xiaoshen came to pick some immortal grass. So this showed Zhao MengYang his approachable side, that he came to pick the grass himself.
Zhao MengYang had finished his work. Next, he had to return.
He didn’t dare to drag it out and stay a bit longer. Zhao MengYang reluctantly walked back. But because he was still secretly watching His Highness Xiaoshen, he accidentally fell in the water!
Zhao MengYang was still a young disciple who had just started on the path of immortality. It would be honest to say that he was no different than a mere human. And embarrassingly, he did not know how to swim at all. He immediately started splashing around on the water and held onto the plants on the bank. But the water flowed quickly, he bobbed up and down, and drank quite a few gulps of water. He was just about to yell for help—
Xiaoshen said, “Don’t be afraid! Hold on!”
Zhao MengYang was so excited he was about to cry. His Highness Xiaoshen is coming to save me!
In that moment, he was not scared at all. He held tightly onto the water plants that were about to slip out of his hands. Soon, soon, he would be able to see His Highness Xiaoshen manipulate the water. His Highness had such fine control of water!
Yet, he only saw His Highness stand up tall, with a serious expression. Then he said loudly, “Somebody! Help! Hurry!”
Zhao MengYang, “?????”
Zhao MengYang was shocked. Was His Highness yelling for help just now? He was yelling for help, right?
Why is it that when I fall into the water in front of a dragon, that the dragon would still have to yell for help? This really wasn’t some completely novel theurgy technique chant!
The wet and slippery water grass was no longer enough for Zhao MengYang to hold onto. He started randomly clawing with his hands, and felt his body sink. Very quickly, he hit something solid. He looked down and it was a huge fat headed fish, who came when the azure dragon yelled for help… or rather when, he was called on. It supported Zhao MengYang.
The fat headed fish carried Zhao MengYang. It spat out a string of bubbles. “What is going on with you, kid? You almost had to have His Highness rescue you. Don’t disturb the submerged dragon, don’t you know?
Zhao MengYang, “…huh?”
The fat headed fish said with a bad attitude, “Whenever His Highness is in the water or next the water, you must not pull and push with him.”
“It’s not actually that strict.” Xiaoshen said with his hands behind his back. He looked into the distance. “It’s just that I really stopped doing this kind of thing a long time ago.”
Zhao MengYang’s expression was full of confusion. What exactly was ‘this kind of thing’? Saving people? ‘Don’t disturb the submerged dragon’ meant this?
The fat headed fish cast a look of envy. His Highness and the consort truly had a deep and affectionate relationship.
For things like His Highness’s personal life, everybody only dared to talk about it in secret. The fat headed fish had only been at Yuling for ten years. He had heard the other water species say that His Highness had been a player in his earlier years. Just at Yuling, he had over a hundred concubines, including today’s Library Master Wei Yu, CangLan Peak Manager Shu Feng, etc.
Later, he cut them off completely, because he made a connection with the consort in the water. So he would never again pick up another one from the water.
As for the consort…
The fat headed fish had to say that even though the consort was the mortal form of LanYu Lake, he was still in a human body.
—It’s not that he was jealous! He was definitely not jealous! Of course it’s great that he was water, but the physical appearance of the consort… still left something to be desired.
The yao races 3 had their own aesthetic for judging the mortal form.
For example, the fat headed fish felt that eyes should not be like the too-serious black. They would be best like His Highness’s dark green eyes, or even blues ones. Eyes should be big and round. Hair should be thick. The cheeks should have a slight blush…
Sigh, but if His Highness himself had such preferences, then that was the most important.
Xiaoshen watched the fat headed fish carry that newcomer away. Then he entered the water along with the plants that he had picked. This time entering the water, he felt the currents surround him and then pull him entirely to the bottom of the water.
At some point, Shang Jiyu appeared at the bottom of the water. He reached out and the currents engulfed Xiaoshen and took him towards him.
Xiaoshen also relaxed and plunged into his embrace, coiling around him tightly.
Shang Jiyu held Xiaoshen’s face. His ink colored eyes brimmed with security and affection. Even though his souls had already merged, he still constantly yearned Xiaoshen, maybe even more strongly. In this, it would not change even after ten thousand years.
Xiaoshen could feel that after Shang Jiyu had merged, he was still gentle and introverted normally, but he also was even more inseparable from him, and sometimes showed a bit of stubborness. If he was at the bottom of the water, it was still mostly fine, they could feel each other at all times. But once out of the water, Shang Jiyu would come find him every hour or less.
But Xiaoshen also finally understood completely, to understand Shang Jiyu as a body of water. Even though the waves on the surface may seem slow and gentle, peaceful and quiet, everybody knew to not take it lightly. They could always create huge waves that reached into the sky.
The currents are unpredictable. Only a dragon could direct its moments.
“My badge! I left my badge at the medicinal garden!”
Zhao MengYang suddenly remembered and started shouting. He asked the fat headed fish, “Fat Shishu 4 , can you carry me back to get my badge back?”
“Are you crazy? Call me Fish Shishu. I’m not fat! It’s just that my head is a bit big. Young people these days… they can even forget their badge…” The fat headed fish grumbled. He turned and swam back. “Do you think I’m a boat, and expect me to swim back and forth?”
Zhao MengYang said with sahem, “Sorry for bothering Fish Shishu.”
When they got back to the medicinal garden, of course His Highness Xiaoshen was long gone. Zhao MengYang hurriedly retrieved the badge. Then his hand slipped and the badge fell into the water.
The fat headed fish glared at Zhao MengYang. Zhao MengYang was at a loss. Yet, Fish Shishu only looked at the bottom of the water and said, “It’s entangled in the water plants. You can untangle it yourself!”
Sigh. His body was already wet anyway. Zhao MengYang got onto the back of the fish, grabbed on very tightly, and took a breath. “Alright.”
The fat headed fish dove into the water one zhang 5 . The badge really was entangled in the water plants. Zhao MengYang opened his eyes and felt ok. He pulled the badge out with one trembling hand, the other hand holding onto Fat Shishu tightly. His legs were also clamped tightly, to avoid his entire body from floating. He did not know how to dive.
Zhao MengYang turned around inadvertently, but in the deep green water, His Highness Xiaoshen was actually here, too. And he was embracing and entwined with a man in white. Even their lips were touching each other. His Highness Xiaoshen seemed almost to be hanging off of the other person’s body. He was so engaged that he did not notice Zhao MengYang. Around their bodies, the water surged in currents, as fiercely as their movements.
Zhao MengYang started blushing at what he was seeing. He couldn’t take his eyes away, and was very embarrassed. He could only swallow drily. He even forgot that he was underwater and choked on water.
Then he saw them look over with unhappy gazes. Then he hurried back to the surface without waiting for the fat headed fish. It felt as if they were thrown ashore by a current of water.
The fat headed fish moved a few times on the ground. His fish mouth opened and closed. “You child got me in trouble. They always say don’t disturbed the submerged ragon. Don’t disturb the submerged dragon!”
Zhao MengYang, “……”
Sigh. No wonder the manager didn’t explain in detail. There… There was really too much to the situation that should not be disturbed!
- T/N: Meaning that his body is suited for cultivation
- T/N: Xian = Immortal, Jun = honorific.
- T/N: yao = living things like animals or plants that have started on the path of cultivation
- T/N: Pang = fat, shishu = “uncle-master”, aka a disciple who studied under your master’s master
- T/N: about 3.3 meters or 11 feet