Duanmu Xingling looked as if she were 14 or 15. She had a slender figure with full breasts, a tiny waist, and exquisite features. Her large glittering eyes were framed by thick, upturned lashes. She seemed forever paused at a youthful age.
She held her hands behind her back, and her red lips turned upwards in a slight smile. She looked at him charmingly and said, “It’s only been a month since I last saw you. How come I can sense a coldness in you?”
Duanmu Xingling possessed an icing cold physical quality that she was very sensitive to.
Although Zhang Ruochen had refined the Icing Meridians Pill, he had not yet completely absorbed the icing cold Qi into his Genuine Qi, and so Duanmu Xingling was able to sense it.
Zhang Ruochen did not answer. Instead, he looked at her closely and said, “Senior sister apprentice Duanmu, seems like you’ve made some improvements in your cultivation during the period when you left the School of the Martial Market.”
“You are very observant!”
Duanmu Xingling rolled her eyes and laughed, “My cultivation exercises have broken through to a new level and have reached a more mysterious realm. My cultivation has indeed improved a lot. Given my current abilities, even though I’m incomparable to Sister Chen in speed, I won’t lose to her in battling power.”
Suddenly, Duanmu Xingling’s eyes brightened. She stared at Zhang Ruochen and teased. “I heard that you’ve recently been to Qianshui Commandery, that you defeated numerous talented swordsmen, and became the first at the Sword Technique Conference. I also heard that you are now engaged to Qianshui Commandery’s beautiful Commandery Princess Yanchen?”
Zhang Ruochen smiled slightly and did not hide the truth from her. He related to her the entire incident.
Hearing the end of Zhang Ruochen’s story, Duanmu Xingling nodded lightly. “Ah, it sounds like you didn’t have much choice either. As long as you become an internal disciple of the School, even Qianshui Commandery Prince would not kill you without great consideration beforehand. Besides, Yanchen is considered a great beauty. If you could marry her, that is no loss at all.”
“Now, all the students at the School know about this, many of them admire you. Of course, most of them are jealous of you and are planning to kill you.”
Zhang Ruochen appeared nonplussed. “Who wants to kill me?”
Duanmu Xingling smiled widely and said, “Xun Guihai has already said that if you dare to participate in the Intermediate Relic Exploration exam, he will definitely kill you. Xun Guihai has already prepared a gift to ask Qianshui Commandery Prince for marrying Princess Yanchen. Yet, you were one step ahead. Do you know he’s almost mad with rage?”
Zhang Ruochen replied, “I expected Xun Guihai to hate me. After all, senior sister apprentice Huang purposely used me as an excuse for the marriage. Given my situation at the time, I had no choice but to follow through.”
Duanmu Xingling’s face became serious. She said, “Xun Guihai ranks the 14th on the Profound Board. He is much stronger than you think so never underestimate him.”
“It’s said that he once killed a Chief of the Moon Worship Demonic Sect who was at the Mid Stage of the Earth Realm. It was that battle that fame him and made him a famous figure in the external school. Given his abilities, he would only need one move if he wanted to kill you.”
“There is always a solution to a problem. I can’t refuse to join the Intermediate Relic Exploration exam just because of what he said,” Zhang Ruochen said.
Zhang Ruochen thought for a while and continued, “Senior sister apprentice Duanmu, you’ve prepared for the Intermediate Relic Exploration exam for a long time. You know more about it than I. Can you tell me what I need to prepare before going in?”
Duanmu Xingling blinked her eyes and stepped closer to Zhang Ruochen. “Hasn’t Sister Chen told you already?”
Zhang Ruochen said, “Senior sister apprentice and I are engaged nominally. But in fact, we are not as close as other people think. At least for me, I think I am closer to you than her.”
It was clear that Zhang Ruochen’s words just now were effective. After hearing them, Duanmu Xingling smiled happily and said, “What a smooth talker you are! I thought you had forgotten about me after having a fiancée. Well. I’ll tell you from the beginning. First, you need to understand the history of the relics.”
“Kunlun’s Field has hundreds of millions of years of history. At first, there was the Wasteland Age, then there was a Great Age, the Distant Age, the Mid Age, and the New Age. Through the endless flow of time, countless great heroes have been fostered, great and bloody battles have been fought, and great miracles have been splendor.
“In the history of Kunlun’s Field, who knows how many Half-Saints and Saints have been born, but now, they are all gone, and left only the relics and the places they once lived.
“The Martial Market Bank has an intelligence network across the entire Kunlun’s Field. They have recorded all the relics of Half-Saints and Saints in history in ‘The Shrine’.
“Depending on how dangerous the relic reflects and the opportunity of finding treasure, the relics have been divided into a few categories.
“Given the cultivation of external students of the school, even experience at the Elementary Ruin could be life-threatening. So, the School of the Martial Market only allows the top ten students of the four campuses to enter into the Intermediate Relic Exploration. It is only the exploration they are allowed to take, not experience. Do I make myself clear?”
Zhang Ruochen asked, “What is the difference between exploration and experience?”
Duanmu Xingling smiled. “Exploration means we only need to take a look at the middle-level heritage and search for treasure. If we run into something we can’t defeat, we can run. But, if it was an experience, we have to complete the task assigned by the school. It would be more dangerous. Usually, only the masters of the internal school will voluntarily go to the middle-level heritage and experience.”
Duanmu Xingling added, “In the entire region of the 36 commanderies of Omen Ridge, there are only two middle-level heritages. One of which is in the depths of Omen Ridge called ‘Chikong Secret Mansion’. Rumor has it that the Mansion is deep in the earth and once was the holy residence of the Four-winged Earth Dragon, the Lord of Omen Ridge.”
“The cultivation of the Four-winged Earth Dragon surpasses that of the human Saints. While it was alive, it was unbelievably savage. It claimed a territory of 50,000 kilometers in surrounding area. Every time it ate, it had to eat the entire city of humans.
“Even a superior class commandery like Qianshui Commandery offered tributes each year to the Dragon like Spiritual Crystals, silver coins, Pills, and blood. Each year, Qianshui Commandery would send millions of slaves to Omen Ridge to feed the Dragon. If they didn’t send any, more people from Qianshui Commandery would die.
“500 years ago, the arrogant Four-winged Earth Dragon irritated the newly enthroned Empress Chi Yao. Empress Chi Yao demanded the army of the First Central Empire to surround Omen Ridge and kill the Dragon.
“In order to kill the Dragon and other strong savage beasts inside Omen Ridge, there was a world-shaking battle provoked at Chikong Secret Mansion by the First Central Empire.
“In that battle, the human clan lost two Half-Saints, and yet seven beasts of Half-Saint Class had been killed. Even the Four-winged Earth Dragon died inside the Mansion. After all beasts above the Half-Saint Class were killed, the area once filled with death became far more peaceful.
“Afterwards, the School of the Martial Market moved into Omen Ridge and assisted the First Central Empire in compressing the savage beasts. At the same time, those who lived at the edges of Omen Ridge began to take over the territory the beasts once held. After hundreds of years of development, they became countries. Your ancestor, the founder of Yunwu Commandery rose up at this time where it has been created.”
Zhang Ruochen said, “Which means that the territory of the 36 commanderies in Omen Ridge was a wasteland 500 years ago and was ruled over by savage beasts and the Four-wing Earth Dragon. After 500 years of development, the humans have turned this wasteland and villages into the 36 commanderies surrounding Omen Ridge.”
Duanmu Xingling nodded and smiled. “If we combined the territories of the 36 commanderies, it is only one-fifth of the territory of Omen Ridge.” “Afterwards, the Martial Market School moved into Omen Ridge and assisted the First Central Empire in compressing the savage beasts. At the same time, those human who lived at the edges of Omen Ridge began to take over the territory the beasts once held. After hundreds of years of development, they became countries. Your ancestor, the founder of the Yunwu Commandery rose up at this time where it has been created.”
Zhang Ruochen asked, “Other than Chikong Secret Mansion, where is the other middle-level heritage?”
Duanmu Xingling replied, “The other one is at the bottom of the Tongming River. I’ve heard that the Four-winged Earth Dragon built a Dragon Palace on the bottom of the river. As the Dragon set up a defense system around the boundary of the Palace, only warriors below the Heaven Realm can enter the Palace. If you want to force your way through the protections, the Dragon Palace will be destroyed.
“In hundreds of years, many warriors have gone to investigate. Unfortunately, ten have gone in and only two or three of them made it out. The danger of the Underwater Dragon Palace is far above that of the Chikong Secret Mansion.”