Saint Qing Xiao shook his head and said, “I’ve heard a little about this, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. Can people like the Nine Emperors be cultivated simply by accumulating resources?
“Furthermore, the powerful families have started contending with one another, through both open and covert means. They would all like to have an Heir of Kunlun’s Field. Even Taiji Sect, Thousand Buddhas Sect, and Confucian Sect now send their best disciples into the world to vie for a seat. This secret trend has overwhelmed the entire Kunlun’s Field. No one can say if it’s a good thing.”
Elder Xuanji said, “The fact that you see this point proves you have really matured. You can indeed hold your own. However, even within Saint Academy such infighting isn’t unusual!”
Saint Qing Xiao understood Elder Xuanji’s intentions at once. “Could it be… that Master wants our junior fellow apprentice to fight for a seat?”
Elder Xuanji nodded and smiled. “Once he becomes an Heir of Kunlun Field, he will have vast quantities of practice resources. He might even become the Empress’s personal disciple and succeed her to the throne. He can be the Dominator of Kunlun’s Field! Such an opportunity cannot be missed. There may never be another chance!
“Besides, your junior fellow apprentice has just reached the Ultimate Realm of the Heaven Realm. This is easily the best moment to strike. Even if he doesn’t vie for the seat, someone would ask him to.”
Saint Qing Xiao’s expression turned rather grave. “Concerning our junior fellow apprentice, I have one more thing to report.”
“What is it?” asked Elder Xuanji.
Saint Qing Xiao replied. “The altar of the Wood Spirit Primitive World was wrecked by heretic Half-saint Tongxu. I thought the matter was closed, but intelligence from the Ministry of War revealed something more after the investigation. At the time the altar was wrecked, our junior fellow apprentice was visiting the Wood Spirit Primitive World. He had visited the Primitive World’s altar, too.
“The specifics have been recorded in a top secret file by the Imperial History Board. I can’t claim to know the details well. The file has already been dispatched to Kunlun’s Field, to our sovereign.”
The words made Elder Xuanji assume a solemn expression. He pondered for some time, and then said, “Your junior fellow apprentice has already been carefully investigated by Saint Academy. His background is utterly clean. He can’t be a spy from the heresy. You don’t have to worry about this.
“Besides, given his cultivation level back then, it was unlikely that he could destroy the Primitive World’s altar.
“One more thing. Even if this has something to do with him, the Empress would most likely not punish him over this trivial matter. Your junior fellow apprentice is elevated in status now. By dealing with him harshly, the Empress would displease the Saint Academy and East Region Saint Mansions. Weighing the pros and cons, I’m sure she would make the correct decision.”
Saint Qing Xiao remained rather cautious and said, “Shouldn’t we question him about the details? In that way, we can prepare ourselves for the possible ire of the Empress.”
Elder Xuanji thought about it and then shook his head. “Better not. It might give him unnecessary pressure.”
Saint Qing Xiao and Elder Xuanji continued to discuss other important matters before leaving the meteorite and returning to Qinghe Palace.
Qinghe Palace was the personal palace of Eldest Senior Brother apprentice Saint Qing Xiao. It was also a manpower and administrative headquarters of the Ministry of War. Therefore, after the gathering, Zhang Ruochen and his senior fellow apprentices took up lodging at Ten Thousand Fields Tavern instead.
Upon reaching his room, Zhang Ruochen immediately took out the Yin Yang Wooden Graph and entered its inner world.
The Yin Yang Wooden Graph looked like an ordinary scroll painting on the wall. No one would guess it contained an independent inner world.
Under Blackie’s leadership, the first city within the Scroll World had already taken shape, facilitated by the three Fish-dragon Realm Monks’ hard labor.
The Monks of the Fish-dragon Realm were indeed excellent workers. They were exceptionally efficient laborers. One could match several hundred ordinary workers.
The entire city was constructed from huge rocks stacked to form palaces, streets, and towers. Inside lofty mountains with plenty of Spiritual Qi, so many abodes of fairies and immortals were created. Nearby streams were drawn in to form a waterfall about 100 meters high.
Blackie had planned to build first a small city that could accommodate 50,000 people. It wasn’t that big a project.
Currently, it was just beginning to take shape. To truly construct a city would require lots of time to buff the place up, sculpt, and embellish.
Zhang Ruochen had some doubts. He asked, “Blackie, I’m curious. Why are you constructing a city within the Scroll World? Do you want many people to practice here?”
Blackie looked cheerfully enthusiastic but didn’t give any reason. He simply smirked. “We aren’t just building a city. We need to build other edifices too. And, oh! I forged two armors out of the scales of the Black Skeleton Flood-dragon King and gave them to the two girls.”
Blackie pointed his paw forward.
In the direction of its claws, Ao Xinyan and Orange Star Emissary were each seen clad in a scarlet Flood dragon armor. They soared across and descended to the foot of the city.
Both had completely recovered from their injuries.
Zhang Ruochen stroked his chin and smiled. “Why did you only forge armors for the two of them?”
Blackie replied. “Because they need to accompany me to the Battlefield of Primitive World. You and your fiancee are returning to Kunlun’s Field. You two won’t need an armor.”
Zhang Ruochen asked, “Are the three of you going to the Battlefield of Primitive World?”
Blackie nodded, and said, “Do you remember the altar we discovered at the Wood Spirit Primitive World? That altar is weakly connected with other Primitive Worlds. It’s an important matter. I need to get to the bottom of it.”
Zhang Ruochen said, “Let me go too!”
“No need. You are now in the limelight. The major forces are all paying attention to you. If you come along, you will give us unnecessary trouble.” Blackie continued. “I am taking them along to help them gain experience in the Battlefield of Primitive World.”
Zhang Ruochen fixed his gaze on Orange Star Emissary. He asked, slightly worried, “Are you sure you can keep them under control?”
“Are you worried about that Black Market girl? Don’t worry. I’ve already taken her in as my disciple. I am teaching her some ancient unique techniques. I’m quite sure she will bear with me at least until she has mastered the techniques. She will not fall out with me.”
Zhang Ruochen said, “Very well! Since you know what you are doing, I shan’t say more. When are you leaving?”
“Right now,” said Blackie.
Blackie, Ao Xinyan and Orange Star Emissary walked out of the Scroll World and entered the Battlefield of Primitive World that very day.
Huang Yanchen had already regained consciousness. She had largely recovered from her injuries. Now, she strolled out of Scroll World with Zhang Ruochen.
On that same day, the three seniors Zhu Hongtao, Wan Ke and Ling Shu, led by Elder Xuanji, boarded a Primitive World shuttle together with Zhang Ruochen and Huang Yanchen. All six left through a wormhole for the East Region Saint City.
They would naturally head for the Saint Academy upon arriving at East Region Saint City.
At the heart of Saint Academy was the lofty Saint Mountain.
The Saint Mountain wasn’t isolated but was part of a mountain chain with dozens of fantastic peaks and deep valleys. Only someone of the Half-Saint realm could take up abode in the Saint Mountain.
Elder Xuanji’s abode was situated at the Spiritual Crane Pear Garden, in Saint Mountain.
In the garden were 3,600 Spiritual Crane Pear trees.
It was the season of full bloom. With the cool breeze came a sighing sound as white petals fluttered to the ground like snowflakes.
And of course, crystalline Spiritual Crane Pears were growing on many trees, giving off a seductive fragrance.
At this moment, only Zhang Ruochen and Elder Xuanji were in the Spiritual Crane Pear Garden.
The old man and the young man sat facing each other.
Elder Xuanji looked at something nearly six meters away. A Spiritual Crane Pear tree with a diameter of three embracing men stood there. Seven green Spiritual Crane Pears were on that tree.
All of a sudden, one of the Spiritual Crane Pears seemed to come alive. It began absorbing the Heaven and Earth Spiritual Qi, and gradually took on a rich golden hue. An even stronger fragrance wafted from the fruit.
“Ha ha! So a Spiritual Crane Pear has ripened today.”
Elder Xuanji chuckled. Raising an arm, he grabbed into the air.
The next moment, a ripe Spiritual Crane Pear appeared in his hand.
Elder Xuanji spread out his hand and handed the Spiritual Crane Pear to Zhang Ruochen. He said, “The Spiritual Crane Pear tree blossoms once every 300 years, bears fruit for another 300 years, and its fruits take 300 years more to ripen. One Spiritual Crane Pear can help raise your cultivation, improve your spiritual intelligence, and extend a Monk’s life expectancy by 30 years.
“I might not give one, even to a Half-Saint looking to extend his life. But today you’re lucky! Take this, and enjoy its taste.”
The Spiritual Crane Pear, so named because it resembled a spiritual crane, had a long, curvaceous neck, and a full belly. On closer examination, one could make out its wings, beak, eyes and legs.
Without even tasting, just the smell was enough to make one salivate. The air was filled with its sweet scent.
The fact that it prolonged life for another 30 years was a good indication of how valuable it was. This was aside from its other benefits. No wonder even a Half-Saint would desire one.
Zhang Ruochen took one good look and then stretched out both hands, receiving the Spiritual Crane Pear from Elder Xuanji’s hands.
Then, he placed the Spiritual Crane Pear gingerly in a jade casket. He covered its lid to prevent the essence from escaping.
Elder Xuanji was slightly surprised and asked, “Your Second Senior Brother would often steal a Spiritual Crane Pear to eat after they ripened. Why aren’t you tasting it now?”
Zhang Ruochen lifted his head and smiled. “I would like to bring it back for my mother.”
It suddenly dawned on Elder Xuanji. This boy, he said to himself, was dutiful.
Since Zhang Ruochen’s mother hadn’t unlocked her Sacred Mark, she was an ordinary person. Eating a Spiritual Crane Pear would do her incalculable good.
Although it might seem wasteful to let ordinary people take a Spiritual Crane Pear, such filial piety was priceless.
From Elder Xuanji’s eyes came a look of admiration. He now held this youngest disciple in higher regard. He asked, “Why do you think I wished to see you alone?”
Zhang Ruochen said, “Your disciple does not know.”
Elder Xuanji stood up, gazing at the pear blossoms in full bloom. “I’ve heard you are practicing a very formidable sword technique, the ‘Swift and Neat.’ Could you demonstrate your technique to me?”
Startled, Zhang Ruochen was momentarily at a loss.
Swift and Neat was the Sword of Time integrating a Time Mark – it represented the power of time.
Others might not be aware of the power of time. But Elder Xuanji was no mean superior. Even the most minuscule fluctuation of time couldn’t escape his eyes.