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The Dragon

The Dragon By Oct 14, 2023 3 Comments
Table of Contents
Previous: Chapter 5
Next: Chapter 7

Chapter 6

Xian Luo

Gu Fuyou rested her chin on the pillow, lying motionless on the bed like a dead fish. She asked, “Si Miao, do I have a strange smell on me?”

Si Miao couldn’t take it anymore and threw a pill bottle at her, “You’ve asked hundreds of times already! I’ve told you, no!”

Gu Fuyou pondered, “You think it could be because I formed a pact with her, our relationship has changed, so she can smell something others can’t?”

“There’s no precedent for that,” Si Miao replied.

Gu Fuyou pouted and said, “Every time I approach her, she stays at least a step away from me.”

She thought about directly confronting Zhong Michu to clear things up, but if it turned out to be a terrible smell, it would be quite embarrassing to know. She didn’t have the courage to face that reality.

Si Miao glanced at her skeptically, “Didn’t you used to dislike her being rigid. Why have you been visiting her so often lately?”

Gu Fuyou explained, “You don’t get it. I’m just trying to familiarize myself with her. Even if Senior Sister Zhong doesn’t like me, if I ever need help, she might come to my aid out of this little bond we share.”

Plus, Zhong Michu’s place was so peaceful!

After giving the “New Interpretations of Array Formations” to Zhong Michu, Gu Fuyou received a directive from Liuhe, instructing her to assist Zhong Michu with any questions.

To outsiders, the idea of her helping Zhong Michu might seem absurd. However, Liuhe had seen the original text. The handwriting was so wild and scrawled that it would be challenging for even ghosts and gods to decipher. He wasn’t worried about Zhong Michu understanding the content; his concern was whether Zhong Michu could read Gu Fuyou’s handwriting at all.

From then on, Gu Fuyou felt free, gleefully spending her time leisurely at Gushen Peak.

She no longer had to endure the constant nagging from the old-fashioned elders, who would repetitively preach, “Without rules, there’s no order.”

Nor did she have to bear the disdainful looks from fellow disciples. Gu Fuyou worried, half-jokingly, that their eyes might actually roll right out of their sockets one day.

With Elder Liuhe’s permission, Gu Fuyou visited Gushen Peak several times, and the guards stopped hindering her, although she preferred the route through the rear peak.

Zhong Michu lived in a residence named Hechen Pavilion, a serene and quiet place with spacious grounds and few people.

Gu Fuyou initially thought Zhong Michu lived alone. Although that wasn’t the case, since there was another person who was currently in seclusion, it felt as if there was no difference.

At first, Zhong Michu tried to send her away, but Gu Fuyou boldly claimed she was sent by Elder Liuhe, so Zhong Michu no longer insisted on her leaving, merely treating her like air, staying far away from her.

Being naturally reticent, Zhong Michu barely acknowledged Gu Fuyou, often going an entire day without a word to her.

But that was still better than those who were sarcastically subtle in their mockery. And having such a good-looking person around, even just sitting beside her, was a pleasure to the eye.

Most importantly, Zhong Michu’s place was a treasure trove of books, a truly wonderful place.

Previously, whenever Gu Fuyou thought of skipping the elder’s lecture, she would run to Elder Liuhe’s Xiyi Peak. Now, she thought of skipping classes and ran to Zhong Michu’s Gushen Peak and Hechen Pavilion.

As time passed, autumn gave way to winter, with red maples replaced by white snow.

One day, Gu Fuyou ran up the mountain and called over the courtyard wall, “Senior Sister Zhong!”

The main door was open, still draped with the lake green wind curtains used in summer.

After a good while, Zhong Michu walked out and stood by the door. Her slender fingers lifted the curtain, revealing half her body, her light eyes looking towards Gu Fuyou.

Gu Fuyou asked, “Next spring, when Xian Luo opens, and all the disciples are signing up to travel there, I saw the list posted in front of the main hall, why isn’t your name on it?”

This Xian Luo was a small world naturally born of heaven and earth, said to be the source of spiritual energy nurturing the cultivators between heaven and earth..

When immortals perished, their bodies would fall into this realm, returning their physical essence and fully merging their spiritual energy with this small world. The various magical treasures on their immortal bodies would also scatter within it for the use of the new generation of cultivators.

This cycle continues, ensuring the eternal flow of life and energy.

Because of this, the small world earned a name, called the Xian Luo.

It opens once every seven hundred years.

Within Xian Luo, spirit beasts roamed freely, exotic flowers and rare herbs blossomed across the mountains, and celestial treasures were abundant.

Every cultivator sought to join this lively event, hoping for a chance encounter that could propel them to new heights. Even if they found no such fortune, the experience alone was a valuable trial.

Any member of a sect can enter Xian Luo, but they must register their names in advance. This is to account for any casualties. Those who don’t register are considered uninterested, and latecomers are not allowed entry.

Gu Fuyou planned to explore, thinking that even if she didn’t find any extraordinary treasures, scavenging even the slightest leftovers was worthwhile.

She assumed Zhong Michu would certainly go. With Zhong Michu’s talents, a trip to Xian Luo would undoubtedly boost her cultivation.

But to her surprise, after checking the list at the front of the main hall several times, Zhong Michu’s name was nowhere to be found. That’s why she had run up the mountain to ask, worried that Zhong Michu might have forgotten to register.

On her way up, Gu Fuyou realized the absurdity of her thoughts and chuckled to herself.

After all, who is Zhong Michu? Even if she forgot, would the sect leader forget? Would the senior elders forget? She was just overthinking.

Zhong Michu replied, “The sect leader said my cultivation level isn’t sufficient.”

It turned out she wasn’t planning to go at all.

Gu Fuyou pursed her lips, feeling a bit disappointed.

She figured the sect leader must think Xian Luo was too dangerous and unpredictable, and was afraid that Zhong Michu would have some mishap.

Indeed, Xian Luo was fraught with dangers; a misstep could mean death.

Zhong Michu is still growing, so it makes sense to protect such a talent, ensuring steady progress rather than rapid advancement.

But saying that Zhong Michu’s cultivation was insufficient seemed too harsh. If Zhong Michu wasn’t qualified for Xian Luo, what did that make her, Gu Fuyou? Was she just marching to her demise?

“I plan to explore Xian Luo when it opens in the spring, and I need some time to prepare, so I won’t be able to disturb you at Gushen Peak anymore, Senior Sister Zhong. Take care,” Gu Fuyou said, leaning against the wall with a smile.

With Zhong Michu not going, this inquiry turned into a farewell.

Zhong Michu simply replied, “Safe travels,” with no further words.

After saying goodbye, Gu Fuyou indeed did not visit Gushen Peak for quite some time, as she had said.

Zhong Michu continued her usual routine, yet she always felt something was missing.

Gushen Peak was always peaceful until Gu Fuyou’s boisterous presence disrupted it. Zhong Michu wasn’t used to the noise.

Now that Gu Fuyou no longer came, the peak had returned to its usual quiet—only the sound of the wind, the music of a zither, and the falling snow. Yet, she wasn’t used to that either.

Zhong Michu’s fingers lifted, pausing the zither music as she stood up to set down the instrument and prepare to go outside.

She walked unconsciously toward the back courtyard. Just as she stepped outside, she heard a sound, her eyes briefly lighting up as she turned towards it, only to see that it wasn’t someone arriving, but a pile of snow falling from a ginkgo branch.

Zhong Michu stood still for a moment, staring at the gloomy sky as snow fluttered down like torn cotton. She shook her head with a soft sigh and turned back inside.

As the white snow melted and the warmth of spring arrived in the third month, it was time for the Xian Luo to open.

Located at the boundary between Zhongzhou and Nanzhou, Xian Luo was named Linghua, meaning “mirror,” because each time the entrance to Xian Luo appeared, it hung in the sky like a mirror, reflecting the earthly mountains and rivers, hence the name.

The land of Linghua was an expansive wilderness, where the green grass carpeted the ground as far as the eye could see.

By the time Gu Fuyou and others arrived, cultivators from all five continents and four seas had already gathered. The grass and the hillsides were crowded with people; those who couldn’t find a spot on the ground floated in the air on their swords or spirit beasts.

The crowd was bustling with anticipation, eagerly waiting for Xian Luo to open.

As usual, the forefront was occupied by the disciples of the Four Immortal Sects, their presence grand and imposing. It was unclear whether the many high-level experts among them were there to protect the younger disciples or to hunt for treasures, or perhaps both.

At precisely the third quarter of noon, as a unified shout rose from the crowd, Xian Luo opened on schedule.

Above the wilderness, a point of light emerged, which gradually expanded into a circle of light.

Within the circle, a blue sky and lush green land could be seen.

On the hillside, a Daoist priest holding a long whip cracked it three times towards the sky. The snapping sound was clearly audible on the noisy wilderness.

In ancient times, three whip cracks in the spring symbolized the beginning of the planting season.

Now, the three whip cracks signified the opening of Xian Luo. For the cultivators, it was a time to cultivate their spiritual power, akin to tilling their own spiritual fields.

The disciples of the Four Immortal Sects led the way into Xian Luo, followed closely by other cultivators.

Gu Fuyou watched as the cultivators, riding their swords on the wind, streamed into Xian Luo like a school of fish crossing a river.

Gu Fuyou laughed and said, “In ancient times, fish leaped through the Dragon Gate; today, people enter Xian Luo.”

A mocking laugh came from behind her. Turning around, she found Yuan Changsui looking at her with a strange expression.

She clicked her tongue in annoyance, feeling a twinge of pain in her head.

Ever since she had summoned Zhong Michu back at Jiansu Peak, and the disciples who witnessed it believed that her spirit beast was indeed Zhong Michu, others in the sect had shifted from disbelief to skepticism.

Yuan Changsui had become more reserved after being doused with tea by Zhong Michu. He stopped pestering Gu Fuyou outright but now often cast dark, lingering glances at her from a distance.

Gu Fuyou was worried that one day she might be stabbed in the back; she actually preferred the previous overt antagonism.

As the last of the cultivators entered Xian Luo, Gu Fuyou couldn’t bother with Yuan Changsu anymore. She climbed onto Si Miao’s spirit beast, while Gu Huaiyou controlled his sword, and the three of them entered Xian Luo together.

Si Miao’s spirit beast was a three-legged crow, its entire body aflame with burning feathers.

Among the three, only the spirit beast summoned by Gu Huaiyou, a leopard cat, seemed normal.

Si Miao choosing the three-legged crow as her spirit beast was even more unusual than Gu Fuyou’s choice. Not because the crow was a rare creature, but because of an old legend suggesting that those who bond with this bird would eventually be consumed by its flames.

Many believe in the saying “playing with fire” in this context.

Cultivators tend to heed such superstitions, opting to err on the side of caution, hence the three-legged crow was seen as an ominous creature. Even if one managed to summon it, they would usually avoid forming a contract with it.

Yet, Si Miao didn’t care about such tales and was quite fond of the beast.

She possessed dual spiritual roots of fire and wood, making this fire-element beast a perfect complement for her. It was particularly useful in pill refining, which led her to bond with it without hesitation.

As Gu Fuyou and Si Miao entered Xian Luo on the three-legged crow, passing cultivators gave them sidelong glances, murmuring in astonishment.

“In this day and age, there truly are those who fearlessly choose the three-legged crow as their spirit beast.”

Once they passed through the central light circle, they entered a new realm—clear blue skies as far as the eye could see, with both the sun and moon visible, and the wilderness still beneath their feet.

The grass reached up to their waists, lush and swaying with the breeze, rustling softly.

Inside Xian Luo, the spiritual energy was abundant. Every breath they took felt rejuvenating.

This realm, untouched by humans for seven hundred years, was home to many spirit beasts unafraid of people, who paused and looked around curiously.

Some of these beasts possessed inner cores that could aid in cultivation, others had bodies that could be used to forge magical artifacts or refine medicines, and at the very least, they could be sold at the market for spiritual stones.

The cultivators readied themselves eagerly to capture these treasures.

Unexpectedly, a thunderous explosion erupted from the flatlands, followed by a series of loud bangs, like fireworks during the New Year, ceaselessly shattering the tranquility.

Gu Fuyou looked towards the source of the noise and saw countless black dots falling from the sky, upon closer inspection, they were spiked iron balls.

Gu Fuyou remarked with a cold smile, “Man Tian Xing.”

These explosive sounds came from a magical artifact called “Man Tian Xing.” Initially, it was a palm-sized iron ball, but when thrown, it would split and scatter countless smaller spiky balls, exploding with bright sparks and deafening noise.

This artifact was originally intended for ‘beating the grass to startle the snakes’, to awaken and drive away spirit beasts that are either dormant or hiding. Therefore, this magical artifact is also named “Jing Zhe”.”

Now, it’s been modified to be much more lethal, not only loud but also powerful. It’s a common tool used by the disciples of Xu Ling Sect to hunt beasts.

The ground was repeatedly blasted, breaking the tranquility. Many spirit beasts were killed, while the rest were startled and scattered in panic.

Moreover, some cultivators below were too slow to avoid the blasts and got injured, which immediately sparked furious protests, “Who’s the blind fool who didn’t aim properly? You hurt me…”

Looking up into the sky, they nearly bit their tongues in shock.

In the sky appeared a luxurious carriage drawn by four flying horses. At the front of the carriage stood a young man with rosy lips and white teeth. He was dressed in a purple robe, wore a jade crown, and had a precious sword hanging at his waist, continuously throwing Man Tian Xing.

This man was named Zuo Tianlang, the beloved grandson of the Xu Ling Sect’s leader.

Upon recognizing him as the instigator, everyone immediately held their tongues.

They thought, “Well, it’s better to let it go. We can’t afford to offend him.”

In this world, apart from Zhongzhou and the Four Seas which were governed by the Azure Phoenix and Dragon clans, the rest—East, South, West, and North—were effectively under the dominion of the Four Immortal Sects.

Thousands of years ago, when the Four Immortal Sects were in their peak, they were merely one of many sects. Each sect was independent.

However, over time, weaker sects began to seek protection from the more powerful ones, offering spiritual stones in exchange.

The Four Immortal Sects seized this opportunity to subtly control the affairs of these sects, absorbing their power. Now, each of them dominates a continent, overshadowing all other sects.

Even so, it was tolerable.

In the three continents of the east, west, and north, the leaders of the Three Immortal Sects were wise and benevolent, promoting capable individuals to lead.

However, the Xu Ling Sect of Nanzhou was different. It was a hereditary sect entirely controlled by the Zuo family.

Such a family was inevitably riddled with power struggles. Instead of focusing on cultivation, they were more interested in power and prestige, leading to frequent infighting.

Yet, the Zuo family’s Xu Ling Sect was the most powerful among the Four Immortal Sects. One reason was that the Zuo family would choose women with exceptional potential to continue their lineage, ensuring that most of their descendants had high aptitudes.

The Zuo family exerted control over most of the Nanzhou, excluding the Xiaoyao City led by Gu Wanpeng and the Xuan Miao Sect controlled by Ji Chaoling. Every other sect and city were under the Zuo family’s influence.

Considering the vast resources available in this continent, all at the disposal of the Zuo family, it’s no wonder they wielded such immense power. This was another reason for their dominance.

In Nanzhou, the Zuo family was akin to the emperors of ancient times.

Their pampered descendants acted without restraint, competitive and boisterous. Now entering Xian Luo, they were undoubtedly out to make a spectacle.

Everyone feared the Xu Ling Sect of the Zuo family, angry but unable to speak out, nor daring to compete with them for spirit beasts, quietly distancing themselves from the area.

Zuo Tianlang kicked a person beside him and lazily said, “Beard Slave, why haven’t you cast the net to hunt the beasts? If we lose to the side branches of our family this time, I’ll skin you alive.”

The man, standing at eight feet tall with a broad back and a slender waist, nodded obediently. Heeding the order, he jumped off the luxurious carriage, disregarding the exploding Man Tian Xing and went on to capture the beasts with a net.

Not far away, Gu Fuyou witnessed this scene, and it left a bitter taste in her heart.

That “Beard Slave” was a slave. The existence of slaves originated from the Xu Ling Sect and has a history spanning over a thousand years. Although other sects used to openly criticize the Xu Ling Sect for being inhumane, they have since recognized the benefits of having slaves. The criticisms have faded, and these sects have begun purchasing slaves from the Xu Ling Sect.

The Xu Ling Sect had established Bailu City specifically for training slaves.

Once trained, these slaves would serve in noble families. The weaker ones wouldn’t even have names, and their masters would use the product numbers assigned to them in Bailu City, like “Eleven” or “Twelve.” The stronger ones, to show some semblance of respect, would be given new names, but these names would always end with the word “slave” to signify their status.

These slaves couldn’t really be considered as people anymore. They were bound by contracts and were deemed inferior for life.

In the eyes of many, a slave’s life was not valued, which is why Zuo Tianlang could unblinkingly send Beard Slave into the dangerous fields of Jing Zhe.

In Gu Fuyou’s mind, an image of Zhong Michu appeared — exquisitely beautiful and unparalleled in grace.

Regarding the contract she had established with Zhong Michu, Gu Fuyou was torn between guilt and joy.

In a moment of rash decision that day, she hadn’t considered the consequences, nor had she expected the contract to actually form…

Technically, Zhong Michu couldn’t be categorized as a slave. However, when one thinks of people bound by contracts, the word “slave” often comes to mind.

Feeling unsettled, Gu Fuyou silently made a resolution — from now on, she would treat Zhong Michu with kindness and care!

Translation note:
Jing Zhe – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jingzhe

Table of Contents
Previous: Chapter 5
Next: Chapter 7

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dadin
dadin
8 months ago

a chapter worth of avnice brief explanation pertaining to this world

Khriss
Khriss
6 months ago

Wow that suddenly took a turn. Well things like this make alternative histories and stuff more interesting, I wonder how the author will handle this or if it will address it at all. I know if this was a US author it would certainly have some sort of perspective to comment on for this issue.

Hatimo
Hatimo
22 days ago

I wonder what will await Gu Fuyou in this new realm