Unsheathed - C.283 (2): Rising Incense Smoke


C.283 (2): Rising Incense Smoke

There was a family of three sitting on an intercontinental ship and traveling from south to north. After a long time, they finally arrived at their destination in Complete Reed Continent, an immortal sect called the Lion Peak.

There was an additional pair of young people with the family now, a master and his servant. The young master was a bookish young man, while his servant was a young scholarly attendant. The latter was helping to lead a horse right now, one that had the officially forged golden and silver saddle unique to the Tail Feather Empire on its back.

However, it appeared as if the scholarly attendant was quite unwilling to be here, and his expression was sour the entire time. Yet, he couldn't complain or say anything because his young master was the one who had insisted on leading the way for those people.

The family of three spoke and acted like country bumpkins, and more importantly, they weren't understanding at all. Even though the extremely crude husband and wife had raised a fairly decent daughter, how could she possibly be worthy of his young master, regardless of how beautiful she was?

The Tail Feather Empire was one of the largest empires in Complete Reed Continent. Even though the emperor's surname was Han, who wasn't aware that half of the officials in the imperial court had the same surname as his young master?

Moreover, even though his young master wasn't the only child in the clan, there were only two descendants in their generation; the young master and his older brother. However, the older brother was an illegitimate child, while the young master was a direct descendant. Thus, his young master would be wronged even if he were to marry a princess. That being the case, how could he waste his time with an illiterate girl from the wilderness?

This was just a family from the measly Eastern Treasured Vial Continent, so his young master truly didn't need to be so polite and attentive.

The young scholarly attendant was so angry that he almost shed tears several times during their journey. However, his young master would at most console him for a bit before continuing to hurry to the Lion Peak with the family of three.

The master of the Lion Peak was a fairly famous immortal, but what did this matter?

Didn't he also need to act with his tail between his legs when seeing the young master's grandfather?

He was only a scholarly attendant, a study companion for his young master, yet he had already seen a few elusive terrestrial sword immortal thanks to the influential status of his young master.

Even though this young scholarly attendant with extremely high standards had indeed seen many powerful sword immortals before, he was still, in fact, underestimating the power of the Lion Peak's mountain master. Even though the mountain master was only a 10th tier Nascent Tier earth immortal, earth immortals were a very valuable commodity in Complete Reed Continent.

Apart from itinerant immortals willing to lead carefree lives, it was actually very difficult for immortals to gain a solid foothold if they didn't possess some true power or abilities.

The mountain master of the Lion Peak was a good example of this. He was a genuine outsider, yet he had relied almost solely on his own strength to pummel a sect-level force in the Tail Feather Empire and force them to yield in just two short centuries. This was proof enough of his outstanding combat power.

Moreover, Complete Reed Continent was known for producing powerful individuals, strange individuals, unreasonable individuals, as well as individuals who possessed all of these three qualities.

Thus, forces in Complete Reed Continent were extremely susceptible to unexpected disasters.

There were often powerful cultivators who would target and attack a force simply because they felt like it was an eyesore. They would run away if they were weaker, and they would pulverize the force's main plaque if they were stronger.

This was Northern Complete Reed Continent, a continent that had forcefully snatched the prefix "Northern" from Pure White Continent. There was a culture of toughness, and the entire imperial court promoted martial arts rather than scholarly study. Not only were they good at fighting, but they also enjoyed fighting.

In fact, many descendants and disciples from immortal clans and forces liked to leave the mountains to train by themselves. After leaving the mountains, they would purposely disguise themselves as itinerant cultivators or vagrant cultivators so that they could fight to their heart's content.

Here, there was an abundance of sword cultivators.

Some top-notch sword practitioners renowned throughout the cultivation world even possessed divine sword skills that allowed them to challenge earth immortals from the mountains.

Due to these reasons, the sages who watched over the three Confucian academies in Complete Reed Continent all had extremely high combat power compared to the Confucian sages in the other continents. As for whether their knowledge was profound... This could take a back seat. After all, they needed to make their audience listen to them first.

The current sage of the Great Cormorant Academy was initially a relatively unknown scholar who largely stayed in the academy without venturing out. In the eyes of native-born cultivators, rulers, and officials in Complete Reed Continent, this sage was also someone who liked to show off his knowledge. Thus, he wasn't particularly liked.

However, cornered rabbits would eventually bite.

This sage had been bestowed the words "Curb Your Anger" by his master before setting off from the academy in Middle Earth Divine Continent. Yet in the end, there was eventually one time when he was cornered...and he bit.

One day, someone surprisingly exclaimed in public that this sage's knowledge and virtuous teachings were stale and stinky, like a fart trapped in a small room. While saying this, the person was in very close proximity to the Great Cormorant Academy. Afterward, he swaggered away with a smug expression. Moreover, many immortal clans and forces in Complete Reed Continent agreed with his accusations.

The academy remained silent for a long time. In the end, however, there came a day when the sage left the academy and pummeled two Nascent Tier cultivators as well as an Unpolished Jade Tier cultivator black and blue within the span of one month. In all all three cases, the Confucian sage had continually knocked their heads with his knuckles while loudly asking, "Is it still stale and stinky? Have things been cleared up now?"

The three people naturally had no option but to reply, "Yes, it's all clear now."

Yet, the sage had offered the same response every single time — "You're as clear as fart!"

This eventually became a widespread joke.

Meanwhile, the mountain master of the Lion Peak was one of the rare few earth immortals whom the Confucian sage from the Great Cormorant Academy didn't find an eyesore.

However, the measly scholarly attendant was naturally unable to engage with such top-level secrets.

When they arrived in front of the mountain gate of the Lion Peak located at the foot of the mountain, the scholarly attendant thought that they should at least go inside for a cup of tea since they had already come here. However, his young master showed his stubbornness again, saying to the couple and their daughter, "Seeing friends off for a thousand li, all journeys eventually end in farewell."

He then turned around to leave. The young scholarly attendant felt so aggrieved that he almost shed tears again.

After wandering around for almost half a year in the outside world, it was indeed good to finally return home. However, their trip hadn't been satisfying or impressive at all!

When they reached the top of the mountain, the woman quietly chattered with her daughter and offered many of her thoughts. These were nothing more than her opinions on how the wealthy young master was a fairly good person. He was friendly toward others, and his appearance was also very handsome. Compared to the half-baked knowledge of Lin Shouyi and Dong Shuijing, he was seemingly more knowledgeable as well.

However, it was a shame that her daughter neither nodded nor shook her head. The woman angrily poked her daughter and scolded her with a smile, "Silly and blockheaded girl!"

The young girl — in fact, she probably couldn't be considered a young girl anymore — responded with a soft smile. She had always been like this, ever since a very young age.

She never became angry, and never roared with laughter either. Apart from her little brother, Li Huai, she didn't care much about anyone else.

The woman often called her a lump of soft dough that anyone could squeeze and bully. When she got married in the future, she would definitely suffer immensely if she didn't change.

Of course, the woman's main point was that her daughter would most certainly be unable to run the home and suppress her husband in the future if she remained so soft and malleable. That being the case, how would she help her little brother?

The woman never concealed her bias.

Fortunately, the woman's husband — the unsophisticated man called Li Er — never favored males over females. He doted on his son and daughter equally.

However, it was a pity that he had the lowest status in the family. His opinions were the most worthless.

Meanwhile, it was possible that Li Liu was someone who was innately resigned to adversity. Thus, she didn't feel like there was anything wrong with this.

This time, the woman was told that the mountain master of this Lion Peak or whatnot had some kind of relationship with her husband's good-for-nothing master. Her husband promised that their family of three definitely wouldn't need to worry about food or drink after arriving here. Only after hearing this did the travel-worn woman, who had seen a couple of continents and seas by now, curse Old Man Yang a little less than she usually did.

She felt like there was finally a teeny bit of pay-off to Li Er being his disciple for so many years. Otherwise, she would have definitely blocked the door of the medicine shop's backyard every day after returning home. She would have scolded that undying old fart so much that he could never have washed his face anymore.

As she walked, the woman involuntarily thought of her son, whom no one was looking after. Indeed, her precious son was definitely tired and suffering hardships right now. The woman immediately became angry, and she pinched her daughter's arm and said, "What's wrong with that young master who has a strange surname? Have you never considered the fact that after marrying him, we won't need to subject ourselves to the whims of the people on this Lion Peak or whatnot?

"After that young master with the surname Situ brings you home in a sedan carried by eight men and marries you, we can all move to his place and quickly bring Li Huai over as well. At that time, our family will finally be reunited again."

Li Liu smiled, causing her eyebrows to curve slightly. It was as if she were admitting to her mistake and asking for forgiveness, yet at the same time pouting and acting cute to get out of trouble.

The woman was weakest against this facial expression. She immediately cooled her anger and pinched Li Liu's arm again. However, she was gentler this time, and she scolded, "You heartless girl. Don't you know to care for your little brother? I've raised you for nothing for all these years..."

The capricious woman started to laugh happily after saying this, and she reached over to pinch her daughter's cheek as she said, "Naughty girl, your appearance truly takes after mine. Just take a look at that beautiful little face. It's so soft and smooth."

Li Er, who was carrying a large luggage bag, cracked a wide grin when he heard this.

However, there was a hint of sadness in the woman's voice as she continued, "It was very difficult, but we finally made it until the day that the old woman from Apricot Blossom Alley died. That vixen from Clay Vase Alley also moved away. How good would it have been if we didn't need to leave the small town? There was already no one who could beat me in an argument."

The woman had been extremely cautious and fearful during the entire journey to the north. She possessed so many masterful skills, yet she felt like she was completely unable to use any of them. It was an utter shame.

Li Liu's charming appearance didn't necessarily take after her mother's.

However, Li Huai's aggressiveness toward friends and family definitely did.

Atop the Lion Peak, the mountain master was accompanying an obese old man who looked like a very wealthy individual. The latter looked spirited and awake, and if he weren't sitting in this place, and his earth immortal subordinate standing there in a respectful manner, people would most likely mistake him for a shopkeeper of some small shop in a town outside the mountains. Or perhaps they would mistake him for a wanton and oppressive old squire.

There was an emerald green rope tied around the waist of the obese old man, and he clicked his tongue in wonder and remarked, "Old Man Yang is truly an open-minded and magnanimous person. If it were me, such a loudmouthed woman would have already reincarnated a thousand times."

The old man beside the obese and wealthy-looking individual appeared dignified and transcendent. His appearance aligned with the impression that commoners had of immortals from the mountains. He didn't respond to his guest's joking remark, and he simply put on a faint and courteous smile.

The obese old man smiled with squinted eyes and asked, "Ignoring trash Golden Core Tier cultivators and only focusing on earth immortals like you, approximately how many have walked out from Jewel Small World in the past thousand years? The two of us are allies now, so there's no need to hide something as small as this, right?"

The old immortal bowed slightly and replied in an apologetic voice, "Please forgive me, Great Sword Immortal Cao, but I can't say anything regarding this matter."

As it turned out, this wealthy-looking individual was none other than Southern Whirl Continent's Sword Immortal Cao Xi. He had come here to act as Li Liu's Dao guardian, according to the agreement.

"Why is that Li Liu still unwilling to cultivate? What's the reason behind this?" Cao Xi asked.

The old immortal, the mountain master of the Lion Peak, replied in a helpless voice, "You can ask the founder about this yourself."

Cao Xi faltered for a moment before remarking, "She's actually the reincarnation of your branch's founder? The Lion Peak's lineage has only existed for a few years, so how did you people manage to find her?"

The old immortal hesitated briefly, and it was as if he had received permission from someone. After weighing things up for a short moment, he replied in a careful voice, "We naturally have our secret techniques. Moreover, this isn't limited to just my branch's founder."

Cao Xi cut straight to the most important point. "Is Li Liu aware?"

The old immortal smiled and didn't say anything.

This was already an answer in and of itself.

"I've found myself a treasure," Cao Xi clicked his tongue and said in wonder.

Afterward, Li Er and his family of three settled down in the Lion Peak. They were attended to by an old steward from the peak, supposedly a distant relative of Old Man Yang. He was responsible for attending to the chores in the Lion Peak.

After finding a place for the family of three to stay, he didn't give them anything to do for the moment. He simply asked them to wait for a few days until the results came out. There were strict rules in the Lion Peak, and people were prohibited from disturbing the esteemed immortals while they were cultivating. One wasn't allowed to wander around either. If they caused any trouble, the old steward would also be unable to help them.

The woman had a nagging feeling that these words were targeting her. Thus, she couldn't help but feel extremely uneasy.

Of course, she naturally didn't know that the elder from the Lion Peak hurriedly wiped the cold sweat from his brows after leaving their room. The mountain master had truly given him a difficult and hair-raising task. In fact, the old man hadn't even dared to take an extra glance at Li Liu.

After a few days, the woman was unable to suppress her boredom any longer. She said that she wanted to find something to do in the small town beside the Lion Peak. Hearing this, Li Er borrowed some money from someone and planned to open a shop in the small town. Afterward, some esteemed immortal from the Lion Peak "coincidentally" discovered Li Liu's cultivation aptitude. Thus, Li Liu stayed in the mountain by herself to cultivate.

The woman was a short-sighted person who lacked knowledge, so she always felt like her daughter's greatest fortune would be to marry into a wealthy family. As a result, she was quite displeased with this outcome. After all, what if Li Liu truly became an immortal? She would disappear for years or decades at a time, so how could she still help Li Huai?

In the end, however, the woman still followed Li Er to the small town. They rented a house and wandered around to look for a suitable location for their shop. They planned to settle down here.

A short while ago, Li Liu had stood at the foot of the mountain and farewelled her parents. After the two of them vanished into the distance, all of the Nascent Tier and Golden Core Tier cultivators from the Lion Peak, including the mountain master, had appeared behind her and stood there in utmost respect. They hadn't even dared to breathe too loudly.

Following the mountain master's lead, they all said in unison, "Welcome back, Esteemed Founder."

Li Liu paid no heed to them. Not allowing anyone to follow her, she ascended the Lion Peak by herself and arrived before a cave that had already been sealed for a long time. She then strode inside.

There were layers of restrictions that even earth immortals would find difficult to break, yet Li Liu didn't take them seriously at all. Or perhaps it was better to say that they didn't obstruct her at all.

When she walked out from the cave again, there was a golden lion seal hanging by her waist.

Cao Xi had stood at the entrance and waited for a long time already. There was a short sword that looked more like a dagger in his hand, and he raised his arm with the green rope and chuckled, "Before refining a river to create my bonded flying sword, this short sword accompanied me in battle for 300 years. Afterward, I continued to nurture and accumulate its sword qi. You'll be able to freely wield it once you advance to the Middle Five Tiers.

"You can unleash ten strikes, and each strike will be powerful enough to rival the full-power strike of an Unpolished Jade Tier sword immortal. If you wait until you reach the Golden Core Tier or Nascent Tier, you can unleash all of the sword qi at once and rival the strike of an Immortal Tier sword immortal."

Li Liu smiled softly and raised a hand, causing the short sword to fly into her palm. She then casually drew the sword and gently slashed downward.

A brilliant ray of sword qi roared forward, appearing mighty enough to split open heaven and earth. All of the cultivators of the Lion Peak were stunned into silence.

Li Liu, who had mysteriously ascended to the heavens and advanced to the Middle Five Tiers in a single step, nodded and replied, "It's just as you said."

"Good heavens," Cao Xi sighed with emotion.

In a rare situation, Cao Xi remembered his unfilial descendant, Cao Jun. Right now, Cao Jun was mingling with the marching army of the Great Li Empire.

Ah... Look at other people's children, and then look at my own descendants. How infuriating...

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