Translated by Rikko of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
After whizzing through their entire journey on top of their swords, the crowd of cultivators reached the palace of the demonic lord on the second midnight they set foot into the northern wilderness.
A setting sun as crimson as blood and whistles from violent gusts of wind haunted the boundless icy plains. Amid it rose a lone palace, which gave off an arbitrarily lonely vibe.
Gu XuanYan and Zhong Yan stood in front of the palace gates, their robes fluttering with the wind.
Gu XuanYan eyed the group in front of him, his voice calm and monotonous.
“Hello, all. I have been expecting all of you.”
Never did the party of cultivators expect the two to be waiting outside the palace.
Li Yue took the lead in confronting as he bellowed, “You fiend! Surrender yourself right now for your heinous acts!”
Gu XuanYan hiked up his eyebrows, “Is that so? What heinous acts did I do?”
Li Yue snorted, “Are you still going to deny your destruction of my disciples’ cultivation bases?”
“Does Sect Leader Li accuse without checking the whole context?”
With his brows raised, Zhong Yan continued, “Those three disciples of yours are so ruthless, they even tried attacking behind our backs. But unfortunately for them, they are weaker than my Junior Brother, so he disciplined them. If you don’t believe me, just tell them to cross-examine with me. ”
Due to the clarity and loudness of Zhong Yan’s rebuttal, everyone had varied changes in their expressions; it wasn’t clear how many of them actually believed him.
Among the group was Tong Ling, who opted to speak out, “Sect Leader Li, since both of you claim a different story, why not bring in your disciples to cross-examine?”
Colours drained away from Li Yue’s face. No way did he have no idea of the circumstances; after all the three buffoons had told him everything upon being rescued.
Li Yue had only come over and got on Gu XuanYan’s back due to, firstly, his sect’s reputation, and secondly, the rage within him that he couldn’t swallow down.
Gu XuanYan had been crowned as the Demonic Lord anyway. Seeing that the relationship between the Taoist sects and the Demonic cult had always been relatively poor ever since ancient times, won’t everyone be standing on his side?
At the thought of that, Li Yue asserted clearly, the boulder weighing on crumbling away, “My three disciples are currently reduced to mere civilians. How can they withstand the bitterly cold of Northern Wilderness? Even with this matter aside, Gu XuanYan and Qin MingXi had turned to the demonic path despite previously being Daoist cultivators. Isn’t this a betrayal of the Heavenly Way and Patriarch Lü ?”
The expression of Green Summit Sect Leader, who remained silent the entire time, chilled at once.
After all, Gu XuanYan used to be Green Summit’s chief disciple; it was understandable that Sect Leader Li XunJi couldn’t maintain his composure.
One of the disciples behind him couldn’t help but whisper, “Senior Gu did so for a reason. Perhaps the merciful Patriarch Lü might not blame him…”
Li XunJi swivelled over and hollered, “Shut up!”
In an instant, all disciples fell as silent as a cicada in winter.
Zhong Yan, of course, caught the disciple’s whisper. A shred of amusement seeped in his heart.
Tong Ling did tell the truth; some of them actually find Gu XuanYan’s actions excusable. This is quite a bit better than the original ending of the story, where everyone found him utterly despicable.
Still, I have no idea if they would still side with Gu XuanYan after witnessing the conversation following this.
According to the original webnovel, Green Summit’s members would be asking about Li YunJi’s death.
As expected, after scolding the disciple, Sect Leader Li XunJi turned to Gu XuanYan, his voice deep, “A question for you; since you have become the Demonic Lord, have you found out the cause of your Master’s death?”
Gu XuanYan asked, “Is Sect Leader asking about Li YunJi?”
A short pause later, he continued, “Then may I ask if Sect Leader knows there was once a family of cultivators living at Mount Straying Mist outside Long River City?”
Despite frowning, Sect Leader Li XunJi still answered, “Yes, I do. Rumours had it that the Demonic cult vied for their cultivation bases and ended up wiping out their clan with trickery.”
“Sect leader isn’t quite right.” Gu XuanYan shifted his gaze to Li XunJi and gave a light chuckle, yet not a hint of joy was present in his eyes.
“Besides demonic cultivators, both Li YunJi and Chun Qin were involved in the massacre of my parents and clansmen. They conspired with the demonic cultivators, murdering others for their cores to attain longevity.”
Although Gu XuanYan’s voice was not all that loud, his revelation was as shocking as a lightning in a clear blue sky.
Li XunJi was the first to have a change in expression, yelling, “Impossible!”
Disregarding the expressions on everyone’s faces, Gu XuanYan continued, “The room Li YunJi died in had demonic aura scattered in every single corner while a bone whistle, demonic cultivators’ communication tool, was found in Chun Qin’s body. These were all because they had practised demonic cultivation. Of course, the dead cannot bear witness; you can take all of that as utter nonsense.”
Gu XuanYan curled the corner of his lips, revealing a hint of a smile.
“Since I killed both of them.”
Shock pierced through the minds of everyone, perhaps due to how convoluted Gu XuanYan’s backstory was, or the fact that the two respected elders of Daoist cultivation were suspected of massacring a clan.
A thick blanket of dark, sullen clouds shrouded Li XunJi, as though droplets of glum would be raining on him at any moment.
He remained silent; who knew what was running through his head.
A lengthy silence fell over the group before Sage Liao Wu took a step forward and chanted.
“Amitabha, killing is never a good solution.”
Gu XuanYan’s voice was gentle, “Well said, Sage. I used to think that all deeds, good or evil, will pay off. But what a pity, neither did the Heavenly Way care about this nor did the gods look into this. So I guess I can only take charge of it myself. ”
Liao Wu heaved a long sigh. As the matter involved cause and effect of past actions, it wasn’t appropriate to persuade further. He changed the subject, his question tactful, “May I know if the relics of my Buddhist hall are with Patron Gu?”
Gu XuanYan was in the wrong for stealing after all, so he greeted, answering with a much softer tone.
“That’s right. I did take the relics and extract their spiritual air for my demonic cultivation.”
“Because of Patron Qin?”
Gu XuanYan smiled without a reply. Zhong Yan joined in the conversation, “Yes, my Junior Brother should not have taken the relics of your Buddhist hall, but he was forced to do so to save me. Ultimately, it’s my fault. If there’s any discontentment, please come at me instead.”
No one could have expected Zhong Yan, who was just in the Leaving Aperture stage, to have the courage of saying so to the abbot of Amoghavajra Buddhist hall.
Such actions were akin to a tiny mantis trying to stop a chariot in anyone’s eyes.
However, Zhong Yan said so with utmost seriousness, not a shred of arrogance or insolence within him.
The only reason he did so was to help take on some of Gu XuanYan’s burdens, even if the opponent in front of him was way more powerful; even if his chance of winning was slim to none.
Understanding the meaning of Zhong Yan’s declaration, Gu XuanYan turned over to look at Zhong Yan, delight contained in his eyes.
Sage Liao Wu shook his head, “Fate ceases upon emerging, vanishing upon birth. All sentiments, be it love or hate, are mere illusion. Why the persistence?”
Zhong Yan lifted his line of sight to Liao Wu, cool as a cucumber as he asserted, “A vulgar man as I am can’t understand Sage’s Buddhist verses. What I only know is that I like him, so I must be with him for my entire lifetime. ”
If not for the current situation they were in, Gu XuanYan would most likely give Zhong Yan a kiss. However, he merely curved his lips at the moment, his voice slow, “I stole the relics of Sage’s Buddhist hall, so I will take all responsibility upon myself. If a fight erupts later on, I’m willing to receive a palm strike from Sage head-on.”
Waves of shock washed over the crowd.
Sage Liao Wu had entered the lotus throne stage of Buddhist cultivation, akin to the Greater Vehicle stage of Daoist cultivation.
Although Gu XuanYan did have a chance of winning against the sage, if he received a palm strike head on, he might not be able to come out of the fight unscathed.
Not expecting that from Gu XuanYan, Zhong Yan spun his head over to Gu XuanYan, just to see the latter offering a seemingly placating smile.
Li Yue sneered, “Getting all carried away by your talent, huh? Let’s save the trouble and just resolve my sect’s grudge all together then.”
Li Yue was planning on teaming up with Liao Wu but, naturally, Zhong Yan will not let him have his way.
Zhong Yan cut in before Gu XuanYan could reply, “I’m the reason why my Junior Brother injured your disciples. If there’s any discontentment, Sect Leader Li may have a match with me first.”
Li Yue snickered, “How dare you, someone who’s only in the Leaving Aperture stage and hasn’t even formed a golden core, have the guts to wield your sword in front of others?
“Of course I do.” Zhong Yan raised his eyebrows, surprise plastered all over his face.
“No matter how low one’s cultivation base is, one would always have their sword wield in front of others. Or perhaps Dark Mountain sect has been teaching members to wield swords behind opponents’ backs?
Even a fool could detect Zhong Yan’s sarcasm regarding Dark Mountain’s disciples attacking behind his back.
With his face darkened into an angry glower, Li Yue barked in a fury, “The only thing rascals like you have are sharp tongues!”
He had his sword drawn before the echoes of his shout faded, lunging straight at Zhong Yan!
Instead of dodging, Zhong Yan wielded his sword to engage the oncoming blow.
Accompanied by sword auras, both blades clashed against each other, a shrilling clank ringing throughout the icy plains upon impact.
After contesting Li Yue’s cultivation base unyieldingly, Zhong Yan withdrew his sword in an instant before launching an attack again!
Meanwhile, the fight between Liao Wu and Gu XuanYan began as well.
With his hands joined, Liao Wu shut his eyes and recited the Scripture. Amidst the low-pitched chanting of sutras, a golden light shaped in the form of the Buddha radiated out from his body, transforming him into an arhat covered in gold. As his chants blasted out, he lifted his line of sight towards Gu XuanYan, reciting a spell inwardly.
I will attain Buddhahood in a moment of complete benevolence.
In a flash, he turned his palms over, lunging towards Gu XuanYan!
Liao Wu’s palm strike was as swift as lightning, able to capture the fastest of wind. In the twinkling of an eye, it had already reached Gu XuanYan.
Nonetheless, Gu XuanYan didn’t dodge but instead, and received it head-on.
The quake from the strike almost shattered his heart meridians.
Instantly, blood started gushing out the corner of Gu XuanYan’s lips.
After a step back. Gu XuanYan raised his gaze towards Liao Wu, his voice hoarse, “Thank you for showing mercy.”
Liao Wu put his hands together and recited Buddha’s name before striking yet again, his attack supersonic fast.
At that very moment, a lotus imprint began blanketing the sky.
Buddhist cultivators’ attacks were as light as clouds and ever-changing.
This time around, Gu XuanYan unsheathed his sword and hacked right down at the Buddhist imprint in front of him, the strike dissipating the golden buddha-shaped light.
Li Yue wanted to take the advantage to kill Gu XuanYan, but once again, Zhong Yan wielded his sword in front of him, blocking his path.
A murderous desire sprouted immediately in the short-tempered Li Yue’s heart, prompting him to launch more aggressive blows.
Unexpectedly, Zhong Yan did not even take a step back but instead took on Li Yue’s concentrated deadly strikes with clenched teeth.
Except for the four engaged in a fight, everyone else stood outside their battlefield and looked on, different opinions in their minds.
Since the spiritual cultivators bore no resentment for Gu XuanYan and Zhong Yan, plus Tong Ling had been putting on a good word for them, they were no longer willing to get involved in the mayhem.
Ji Changyun looked upon the situation with his sword by him. After a careful glance at Ji ChangYun, who seemingly wasn’t planning on joining in, Liang Zheng felt rather relieved.
At the same time, Liao Wu’s third palm strike was launched.
A Buddhist cultivation method, that particular palm strike was known as Five Aggregates1 It was derived from the idea of five aggregates concealed inside oneself, the mindset that all things were unreal, hollow and imaginary.
Gu XuanYan lifted his hands which were empty of his sword, his demonic aura surging out everywhere.
Leaping up, he flipped his hand over, catching the attack as his palm met Liao Wu’s.
Light quakes began spreading throughout the entire icy plains upon their contact.
Liao Wu opted to retreat instead by leaping backwards, chanting Buddha’s name once his feet reached the ground.
“Patron Gu had taken three relics of my Buddhist hall, while I have returned the favour with three palm strikes. With that, the matter is resolved; there’s no need for a fight to death.”
Gu XuanYan nodded, “Thank you very much, Sage.”
After forcing Zhong Yan back with a swing of his sword, Li Yue bellowed, “Is Sage going to just let this fiend off?!”
Liao Wu placed his hands together, lowering his head with his eyes shut, “Everything is done and dusted. There’s nothing to speak of about letting him off.”
Li Yue, who held the conference under the name of Amoghavajra Buddhist hall, had been hoping Liao Wu would kill Gu XuanYan. Now that Liao Wu had dropped the matter, others in the group would all the more so not join in the battle. Flames of fury blazed all over him as he turned to Li XunJi.
“Is Sect Leader Li not going to discipline the Demonic Lord your Green Summit raised? The very disciple who dares to murder his Master?”
A mixture of shock and fury intertwined within the momentarily speechless Li Yue as he noticed Gu XuanYan, with his sword in hand, shifted his line of sight to him.
Rambling spewed out of him right then, “If Sect Leader Li doesn’t kill him now, the entire world will catch wind that one of your Sect Elders conspired with the demonic cultivators. Your Green Summit’s centuries of fame will be utterly ruined when that happens!”
Zhong Yan let out an exasperated laugh, “Huh. Is ignoring of mistakes and assigning of blame the only things every one of you learn after all those years of cultivation?”
Only then did the silent Sect Leader Li XunJi finally made a move.
After a series of changes in his expression, he unsheathed his sword.
He stared at Gu XuanYan, his voice as resonant as a temple bell.
“You deplorable disciple has completely disregarded the care your sect provided you. Not only did you murder your Master but also spread rumours in ill will and walked the demonic path. Today, I’ll eliminate evil and uphold the sect’s principles!”
To clarify, a portion of the descriptions involving Buddhist cultivation methods are drawn upon from ShaoLin’s skill set of Sword Heroes Fate Series III