Translated by Rikko of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The crowd within the training grounds erupted into a clamor once Zhong Yan’s confession reached their ears. The grim-faced Li XuanJi was the first to holler in rage, “So it really is you!”
Zhong Yan dropped with a thud onto his knees towards the Sect Leader, Li XunJi, “The demonic cultivator Cang Luan had forced a blood oath upon this disciple during the kidnapping in the Northern Wilderness, resulting in the demonic aura. Sect Elder YunJi’s death truly has no relations to this disciple. This disciple beseeches Sect Leader to look into this matter.”
While the Sect Leader kept his silence, the Sect Elder beside him, Li XuanJi snorted coldly, “Dead man tells no tales, so you can spin whatever tales you want now.”
All of a sudden, a voice rang out among the crowd, “Reporting to the Sect Leader, I was the one who treated Senior Qin after his narrowly escaped death at the night of Sect Elder YunJi’s demise. At that time, there was indeed no demonic aura within Senior Brother. Moreover, just a few days ago, Senior Brother had asked me questions regarding blood oaths. I beseech Sect Leader to look into this matter!”
Zhong Yan lifted his head and sure enough, it was from Qing You, whose face was blanketed with worry and anxiety as he looked over at Zhong Yan. A friend in need is a friend indeed, but this wasn’t the time to speak out. Zhong Yan wrinkled his brows slightly before hinting him with a glance, signalling him to keep mum.
As expected, Qing You’s protest ignited a fierier rage in the Sect Leader, “Disciples in the grounds are not to interrupt during Sect Leader and Elders’ conference!”
Being imbued with the Sect Leader’s cultivation base, the thunderous speech resounded throughout the entire training grounds, muting every disciple instantly.
Only then did the Sect Leader turn towards Zhong Yan, “A disciple in his Essence Condensation stage can somehow flee from the killer of a Sect Elder in his Golden Core stage and yet forget the appearance of the killer? How could there be such a coincidence?”
Knowing what Zhong Yan’s signalling meant, Qing You clenched his teeth and kept his mouth shut, planning to retreat away from the crowd instead. Zhong Yan figured out what was on Qing You’s mind the moment Qing You moved away, yelling out, “Qing You!”
When Qing You hesitated and returned to his spot, Zhong Yan mumbled out in a low voice, “Don’t you go looking for anyone.”
As the elders of the sect were some distance away from him, Zhong Yan’s interaction with Qing You went unnoticed. Sect Elder WenJi raised his hands to calm the Li XuanJi beside him before rising to his feet, “Qin MingXi, here is your chance to talk. Neither are you a sect elder nor a chief disciple, so explain why Cang Luan wanted to form a blood oath with you.”
Unfortunately for Zhong Yan, this particular question was his Achilles’ heel.
Never would Zhong Yan spill the beans about Cang Luan viewing him as Gu XuanYan’s Dao partner in front of the hundreds of disciples and the three elders of the sect.
Besides, Gu XuanYan was highly reputable in the sect and favored among the elders of the sect. Who knew what chaos would unleash nor how Gu XuanYan’s reputation would be affected if the truth was revealed.
Moreover, although TongLing had not appeared in any scene ever since she popped out some time ago when Gu XuanYan and Zhong Yan were in the forest, she was still Gu XuanYan’s de facto lover in the story. Won’t her fated romance with Gu XuanYan be reduced into shambles if such nonsensical rumors of the two leaked out?
The moment such a thought crossed Zhong Yan’s mind, discomfort began growing in his heart.
The peculiar discomfort came out of nowhere, as though a pool of water rumbling up in him.
It’s probably because I was fed blood due to them ridiculously viewing me as Gu XuanYan’s Dao partner and then was made a scapegoat. And yet, I still need to take Gu XuanYan’s reputation into account. What a martyr I am.
Nonetheless, the lengthy silence was the very proof of Zhong Yan’s guilt in the eyes of everyone else.
Li XuanJi sneered, “How are we supposed to believe you when here you are, remaining silent even when given a chance to explain? With just your side of the story?”
Zhong Yan kowtowed with a thud once more, “I swear upon Patriarch Lü that Sect Elder YunJi’s death had nothing to do with me, nor have I conspired with the demonic cultivators. If not, my cultivation base will be utterly destroyed and I will never ascend.”
The oath stirred up an uproar among the crowd of disciples. Some scoffed in disdain, “How dare he swear when the evidence is this damning? Does he have no shame?”
Meanwhile, some began hesitating, “He did have the courage to swear in the name of Patriarch Lü after all, so maybe there seriously is more to this matter than meets the eye.”
In no time, the cacophony of whispers rang out incessantly. After the elders of the sects exchanged gazes among themselves, the Sect Leader, Li XunJi, took a step forward, “Silence, disciples.”
Everyone in the grounds muted instantly.
Looking at Zhong Yan, he declared, “Since you have sworn in the name of Patriarch Lü, let’s have Patriarch Lü make a judgement. The Mist-like Sword exterminates evil and upholds justice, so if you are able to pass its test, this will naturally serve as a proof of Patriarch Lü’s blessing. If not, this shows that you have already fallen into the path of demonic cultivation, so the ways of heaven should not be violated.”
The momentarily stunned Zhong Yan understood what he meant immediately. Since we don’t know if you are innocent, we’ll just let Mist-like Sword stab you seven times. If you survive, that means you are innocent. If you die, well, you deserve it.
How can he say that in such a justified, righteous manner? Zhong Yan let out a mocking laugh out of anger, “Sect leader, in that case, there is no need to get the sword. Just straight up kill me and let me serve Patriarch Lü.”
With a darkened expression, the Sect Leader bellowed, “Bring in the sword!”
The seven swords that were the Mist-like sword were held in the same chest, which was merely an arm’s wide due to how long and thin the swords were. In half the time taken to drink a cup of tea 1, a disciple carried over the sword dutifully.
The moment the seven swords came into contact with the sunlight after the Sect Leader opened the chest, they began to detect the weak demonic aura within Zhong Yan.
Instantaneously, they trembled softly before whizzing loudly towards Zhong Yan in sequence!
Zhong Yan leaped up with his sword in hand, respect for the elders chucked out of his mind. After cutting down the first sword darting towards his face, he pulled himself back swiftly to dodge the second sword.
Li XuanJi thundered, “Qin MingXi, how dare you draw your sword in front of us sect elders?!”
Busy with hacking away yet another sword, Zhong Yan wasn’t aware a sword had just reached his back. As he couldn’t dodge in time, the sword pierced right through his right shoulder.
Possessing an aura especially effective in subduing evil, the strike from the mist-like sword triggered the demonic aura within Zhong Yan to begin surging in waves and clashing with Zhong Yan’s cultivation base. The collision forced out his vital energy and blood, resulting in a mouthful of blood seeping out of the corners of his mouth.
A groan escaped Zhong Yan. Only after chopping down another oncoming sword did he wipe away the bloodstains near his mouth, “This disciple does not wish to end in an unjustified end, so naturally, going all out is a must.”
The fury within Li XuanJi blazed up upon hearing the reply. He turned his palm towards the remaining three swords and directed a palm strike to them, attempting to use his cultivation base to manoeuvre them.
Following which, three swords let out shrilling hums that blared throughout every corner of the world before speeding towards Zhong Yan in unison!
Previously, Zhong Yan still had a fighting chance when dealing with the swords. However, Li XuanJi’s vital energy being incorporated into them was akin to them gaining thunderous might.
After trying his very best to slash one of the swords away, Zhong Yan drew back his hands to strike again, but it was too late.
In a blink of an eye, the last two swords had already closed in on him!
At the eleventh hour, a long sword whished over, its sword hum ringing out clearly across the horizon.
It caught the eyes of everyone straight away. A cry could be heard from the crowd, “It’s Senior Gu’s sword! Senior Gu has exited seclusion!”
Zhong Yan froze for a moment. Accompanied by its azure sword energy, the sword bolted towards the two Mist-like swords! Shockingly, Gu XuanYan’s fiercely imposing sword disintegrated Li XuanJi’s vital energy in an instant. As the swords smashed into one another, sparks splattered all over. The two Mist-like swords broke off upon impact, reduced into pieces in front of Zhong Yan.
Sailing across the wind, Gu XuanYan flew in and stood beside Zhong Yan.
At a loss, Zhong Yan had his eyes on him, stammering, “Why-why are you here? Isn’t tomorrow your…”
Gu XuanYan’s reply was concise, “I broke through ahead of time.” Once he noticed rivulets of blood spewing profusely from Zhong Yan’s right shoulder, his overwhelming pressure started coursing all over.
Pressure from a cultivator in his Lesser Vehicle stage was a terrifying force to be reckoned with. Every disciple groaned while taking steps back, almost losing their footing.
Yet, Gu XuanYan lifted his eyes towards the elders on the stage, as if unaware what his pressure caused.
The Sect Leader, Li XunJi, took a look at Gu XuanYan, his tone much friendlier than the one before, “XuanYan has reached the Lesser Vehicle stage, I see? Congratulations to you.”
Instead of thanking his elder, Gu XuanYan threw a question at him, “What are you all doing?”
Not only was his tone empty of its usual gentle politeness, but also, he had shown great disrespect to the sect elders by not addressing them with their proper title.
Li XuanJi roared, “The nerve of you! Even if you are a chief disciple, you are not to interfere when the Sect Leader is disciplining traitors.”
Gu XuanYan let out a chuckle, “Isn’t it obvious for me to inquire when Sect Leader is disciplining my Dao partner?”
Despite not being loud, his reply was as astounding as a sudden clap of thunder. Even Zhong Yan was dumbfounded beyond belief, let alone all of the disciples present, whose faces were coloured with bewilderment.
Zhong Yan tugged on Gu XuanYan’s sleeves, asking, “What did you say?!”
Coincidentally, the Sect Leader hollered the exact same question, “What did you say?!”
Gu XuanYan fastened his eyes on the Sect Leader, his gaze neither aggressive nor yielding, “Demonic Lord Cang Luan coerced Senior Brother to form a blood oath with him so as to threaten me. All of this is brought about by me. if Sect Leader wishes to impose punishment, let me in on it too.”
A hush fell over the entire training grounds as every single gaze focused on the two.
The Sect Leader’s expression was utterly blackened. Only after being shrouded in silence for quite some time did he declare, “Since there is a reason behind this, I can pardon the matter regarding the blood oath. However, since Qin MingXi has demonic aura within him, he can no longer be considered a disciple of Daoist cultivation. He is to exit the mountains today and no longer be associated with us Green Summit.”
A moment of silence later, Gu XuanYan replied, “Rightfully so, Sect Leader.”
Zhong Yan’s heart sank at once, his mind as blank as a white sheet. However, a thought ran through his mind right after. It makes sense. Gu XuanYan isn’t obligated to speak up for me.
The status of Green Summit’s chief disciple will provide him with much help. Seeing how intelligent he is, of course he will pick the option that is the most beneficial to him.
Only then did the excruciating pain on his right shoulder start to register in Zhong Yan’s mind. Zhong Yan gave a frantic answer, completely forgetting to bow due to the pain, “I’ll go on and pack my stuff then…”
Gu XuanYan knitted his brows lightly and held Zhong Yan’s hand, his tone gentle, “Senior Brother, wait for me.”