In the eyes of the crowd of Hua Sect disciples, Sect Leader Hua Zhaoting hadn’t touched his sword for a very long time.
After the fall of the Immortal Capital, the cultivators who were closest to ascending became the most powerful individuals in the human realm.
One could not afford to be their enemy.
Although devils have been rampaging about recently, growing more savage and fearless each year, every devil extermination attempt has always relied on the force of an assembly of multiple sects.
Occasions that actually required Hua Zhaoting to seriously draw his sword were extremely rare.
The last time Hua Zhaoting drew his sword was a long, long time ago in the Jiaming Wilderness.
Hua Zhaoting cultivated the path of the sword.
Although he was normally dignified and courteous when he spoke, polite and accommodating, that was only because he had been a sect leader for too long.
His temperament was a result of spending all day dealing with matters among sects.
Anyone who has seen him attack knows that his sword cultivation carried a natural elation and aggression that pierced through the heavens.
Among those who were close to ascension, although he wasn’t the most powerful, he was truly extremely hard to provoke.
And at this moment, when the golden ray of sword pierced through the clouds, the disciples of Hua Sect heard a loud, metallic clang.
The sound rang across the entire Peach Blossom Island — Hua Zhaoting had drawn his sword!
Immediately, the disciples could feel their blood boiling.
Those who were at the Jiaming Wilderness back then still remembered the sword’s astounding elegance and his imposing manner.
To be able to witness it for a second time was truly a blessing.
Thus, all the disciples present flicked their wrists, instantly drawing out countless flying swords! Together with Hua Zhaoting, they all pointed their swords towards the giant golden sword coming from above.
But the second they sent their swords flying, the disciples’ expressions suddenly changed!
Because they saw Hua Zhaoting’s sword…
This sword isn’t right!
This thought flashed across everyone’s mind.
The cool and bright sword aura surrounding his sword was nowhere to be found, and instead, what covered him was red spider-like silk, from the sword handle to the rest of his body.
The people who were standing close to him could even smell a fishy sweet odor coming from his sword.
In addition, the second he drew his sword, all the skin bags, heads, and leftover parts of the devils underground all went into an uproar.
Something’s not right!
It’s seriously not right!
There’s something wrong with the sword!
Tumbling waves crashed in the crowd’s hearts, but immediately after, another thought arose in their heads—
What if the problem doesn’t lie in the sword?
What if… the Sect Leader that had led them this entire night in pursuit to catch the devils wasn’t really planning to exterminate them, but was instead on a pilgrimage, like the rest of the devils and Mr.
For the past twenty-five years, all of the disciples on Peach Blossom Island would go to the Punishment Hall in the morning and evening of every day.
This was done to prevent anyone possessed by a devil from mingling with them.
Even the Punishment Hall Elder himself was no exception to getting tested.
But this order was issued by the Sect Leader, and only two people have never been checked.
One was the feeble Yi Wusheng, who often cultivated in solitude, and the other was Sect Leader Hua Zhaoting himself.
The disciples could feel their skulls going numb! However, everything was already too late.
They only had time to lift their heads—
Only to see that before the countless flying swords could even approach the golden light, they had already been shredded into pieces.
Like a disappearing cloud, the pieces dispersed in an instant.
The disciples trembled with fear.
As if their spirits were pulled out of their bodies, they couldn’t feel anything except for the numbness in their hands, holding their sword sheaths.
In an instant, nearly a thousand people all lost their spiritual weapons.
They could only open their eyes wide and stare at Hua Zhaoting’s bloody red sword, which was covered with devilish energy.
The sword was pointed to the sky, slamming directly into the golden light.
The crash created a dazzling light, forcing everyone to close their eyes.
Then, they heard a loud clang.
Trying hard to force their eyes open, the disciples saw that the giant golden sword clashed with the tip of Hua Zhaoting’s sword.
But it was as if Hua Zhaoting’s sword didn’t exist at all.
The golden sword continued to fall down without its force and power decreasing by the slightest.
Hua Zhaoting was stunned by the shock.
He never expected that there would be anything that his sword couldn’t block.
At this moment, his expression turned indescribably unpleasant.
Then he realized, that not only wasn’t his sword able to stop the giant golden sword, but under that golden light’s extreme sharpness, his sword seemed to be a child’s toy.
As the golden sword continued to come down, his sword started to show cracks in it. Slowly but surely, his sword was slowly becoming shattered.
Finally, Hua Zhaoting let go of the sword.
The hilt fell onto the ground, and his feet sank deep into the ground below him, and he spat out a mouthful of black blood.
The disciples all looked in awe.
They never expected that the clash would end in such a result.
The uneasiness in their hearts intensified.
“Exactly what kind of person is inside Qiwu Pavilion?”
More precisely, they should be asking, “Who exactly were the two guests who disappeared from the guest room in the middle of the night?”
Between Young Master Cheng and his puppet, one of them must be a devil under human skin.
That was the only explanation for the pilgrimage, which attracted all of the island’s devils.
But a being that even Elder Yi Wusheng and Sect Leader Hua Zhaoting couldn’t resist? How powerful could that devil be?
Thinking about it this way made them truly terrified.
All the disciples all thought of the exact same thing: the rumors that came this early morning: the Northern Frontiers perished, the Devil Lord Wu Xingxue locked there might still be alive, and he might have come out already!
The disciples looked at each other.
With countless possibilities forming in their heads, their faces turned pale.
But the next moment, they became dumbfounded again.
Because after shattering Hua Zhaoting’s blade, the gigantic sword jabbed ferociously into the ground, its prowess lingering and vibrating with a buzz.
When the golden light had dissipated, the word on the giant phantom sword became visible.
It wrote the word “Mian”.
Just as the crowd was immersed in shock, Hua Zhaoting, after the unsuccessful counterattack, turned around and transformed into a black shadow, instantly disappearing into the night sky.
The oppression had a devastating effect on his soul.
He almost instinctively rushed back to his Jianhua Hall.
However, as soon as he appeared back in his room, another ray of golden light pierced straight through his back shoulder, nailing him to the floor.
The sharp sword aura sent a shock wave, bringing the inside of the room to ruins.
The desks and chairs were flipped over, the bed had collapsed, and the flowerpots next to the wall had all shattered into pieces as well.
When Wu Xingxue and the others followed into the room, this was the scene that they saw.
“He–” Yi Wusheng held the golden paper and walked over to Hua Zhaoting’s side.
His hand that was reaching out to him was trembling.
Before he even touched his forehead to check his spirits, another person had already spoken, “He’s alive.”
Yi Wusheng turned around and saw Xiao Fuxuan coming over.
When the giant sword smashed down, Yi Wusheng was far away and couldn’t see the golden sword clearly.
He was standing right next to Xiao Fuxuan himself, trying to scream, “You absolutely must not!” Before he was able to finish his sentence, however, he already saw the word “Mian” on Xiao Fuxuan’s sword sheath.
This caused his voice to crack on his last word.
Afterward, he found out that the piece of paper he was grabbing on to also had the word “Mian” on it.
It was in the corner and looked as if it was printed from something dipped in red mud.
It was impossible to make out without looking carefully.
Yi Wusheng: “……”
At that time, he gripped the paper tightly, looking toward the person who had just released his sword in both alarm and suspicion.
After a bit, he asked, “Your honorable surname?”
Apparently, there must be something funny in his question, as “Young Master Cheng” beside him suddenly started to laugh.
The person who was holding the sword with the word “Mian” glanced at Young Master Cheng, and then looked at Yi Wusheng expressionlessly.
His lips moved, “Xiao.”
Yi Wusheng: “……”
Anyway, after hearing him say “Xiao”, Yi Wusheng, who had his mouth sealed, hadn’t said a single word, until they followed Hua Zhaoting to Jianhua Hall and saw Hua Zhaoting on the floor.
It would be a lie to say that he was unmoved.
At the age of fourteen, Yi Wusheng had already entered the Hua Sect.
He met the seventeen-year-old Hua Zhaoting and the eleven-year-old Hua Zhaotai.
From then on, he cultivated in the same fall as this pair of brothers and sisters from the Hua Family.
It had already been more than a hundred years.
For mortals, a hundred years is more than enough for an entire lifetime.
Back then, in the Disciples’ Hall of the Hua Sect, he would often sleep late due to fiddling with medicine.
While listening to their teacher lecture on the way of the sword, he would doze off with his head propped on his hand.
The brother and sister who sat behind him would then poke him awake.
That experience of being suddenly startled awake still felt clear, like it was just from yesterday.
Surprisingly, it happened over a century ago.
That girl, who loved to laugh, had already been buried in the peach blossom grove for over twenty-five years.
The other person, who used to be the most annoyed by rules as a teenager, had become the biggest rule of the Hua Sect, and was now lying pitifully on the ground before them.
His soul had been consumed by the devils, a poor friend who had suffered the same miseries.
So at this time, the only thing that he really wanted to know was whether or not this person before him, who may or may not still have some vestigial soul, had died.
Xiao Fuxuan said lightly, “I didn’t kill him, I’m just forcefully suppressing that devil inside of him from taking over.”
“Okay, okay.” Yi Wusheng nodded and repeated softly.
He was scared, but his fingers still approached Hua Zhaoting’s forehead to check.
Hua Zhaoting was in a worse state than he was, and he was barely able to feel any soul left.
Yi Wusheng lowered his hand.
Wu Xingxue stood aside and watched silently for a while.
He noticed that Hua Zhaoting was clenching his fingers, but his eyes were staring at a certain place.
They all said that the moment people realize that they’re about to die, they would always subconsciously reveal some secrets—they would look towards the place where something was hidden, and gaze at those who knew things that couldn’t be said.
Even the devils were no exception.
And at this moment, what Hua Zhaoting was facing was none other than the flowerpots that he would stand and stare at for a bit every day.
A few top-quality short peach blossom trees grew in those flowerpots.
They were taken care of extremely well; even in the heavy winter, they showed no sign of withering, still harboring tender branches and green leaves.
One tree had even sprouted some new flower buds.
The flowerpots were shattered into pieces, and the small trees tipped onto the ground.
Wet soil and flowers scattered all over the floor, revealing the sand beneath the soil in the pots.
Why would one plant peach blossom trees in sand?
Wu Xingxue thought for a moment then walked over to the flowerpots.
He lifted his robe and squatted down, running his finger through the wet soil and sand.
He pushed away some broken pottery with his pointer finger, making some clanging noises.
“What are you looking for?” Xiao Fuxuan’s voice fell from above his head.
Wu Xingxue tilted his head to look at him, then continued to dig through the sand.
After a moment, he said, “Weren’t you looking for something earlier? Like… something that was stolen then later returned?”
He stood up, patted off the soil and sand on his hands, then wiped his hands on a clean cloth from a nearby shelf, “I see him staring at this place, so I thought I’d take a look for you.”
Hearing this, Yi Wusheng, still holding his slip of paper, also came.
He dug his hand through the sand and suddenly paused.
Then his movements became more eager.
They discovered several random weird artifacts buried in the dirt from one of the flowerpots, including wooden hairpins, disciples’ waist tokens, hair ties, and the brocade bags used to transmit Hua Sect decrees.
There were many items of all sorts.
Judging by age, they didn’t seem to be the used items of the same person.
It seemed like they each came from different people and were all buried here by Hua Zhaoting.
“Who could these people be?” Wu Xingxue held the waist token and studied it.
Yi Wusheng’s body froze, then after a while, he finally replied, “Disciples.”
These were miscellaneous items that the disciples of the Hua Sect would carry around.
It wasn’t uncommon for these to go missing, so even if they did, people wouldn’t find it strange.
Wu Xingxue suddenly remembered what the disciple at the guest rooms had said before.
Even though everyone had to go through the Punishment Hall in the morning and afternoon every day to check for devils, a few disciples would still lose their lives every month.
Now it seems… the reason for their deaths could be explained.
But this was truly quite conflicting.
He then remembered the things he had heard in Chunfan City before arriving at the Hua Sect.
They said that the Hua Sect alone protected the river, taking over Peach Blossom Island and not letting any common people inhabit the region.
They said that Peach Blossom Island’s location was strategic and very easy for devils to invade.
If ordinary people went, it would be like a sheep walking into a tiger’s den.
At the time, he had reasoned that since they were the biggest sect in Chunfan City and had so many disciples, even if they relocated the common people to a suitable location, it still wouldn’t be completely impossible to protect them.
If other sects could do it, then why not Hua Sect? It was truly questionable.
Looking at it in retrospect…
On one hand, Hua Zhaoting couldn’t resist devouring disciples every month until he was full, but on the other hand, he was deathly afraid of ordinary people coming near him.
Wu Xingxue held the old waist token in his hands and was lost in thought for a while.
A moment later, he suddenly heard a low cry from Yi Wusheng.
He dug out a small container with countless tiny holes on the lid.
By opening the lid, one could see that the inside was completely filled with pills.
No one knew how long those pills had been buried in the flower pots, but the pills still had a touch of warm spiritual light, indicating that they had been carefully maintained.
Yi Wusheng swallowed hard, then said slowly, “Dreamless Pills……”
No wonder Hua Zhaoting watered the flowerpots every day.
Logically, those top-grade peach blossom trees shouldn’t be looked after in this way.
Unless he was subconsciously looking after another thing that he thought was useful.
Those were the Dreamless Pills.
The pills that could save one’s life if used within a month after first being infected.
After he was possessed by a devil, how long did he take to realize this? Had he also swallowed big handfuls of Dreamless Pills? Had he also tried to struggle? Did he temporarily regain consciousness when he gave the order to not let any disciples approach Jianhua Hall?
In that deep night, when I stumbled and tripped to go find him, did he still have any vestigial soul remaining?
He could feel his body getting colder and colder as he thought.
The pieces of the flowerpot cut his finger, but no blood came out.
Only a stark white wound remained, looking quite scary.
He didn’t think twice about it though, as he immediately went to dig through the last flowerpot.
This time, he dug out a box.
The moment he opened the box, Xiao Fuxuan turned to look.
He smelled a hint of lingering celestial energy.
He saw a round recess inside the box.
The recess held a tiny little bell made of white jade, inlaid with a silver rim.
If he wasn’t mistaken, this was something he knew.
It was called the “Dream Bell.”
After shaking it nine times in different directions, it could create an extensive dream for an individual.
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