Heaven's Shadow - Chapter 111
On the Stone Plate Mountain of the Kunlun Sect, behind the majestic and ancient hall, there is a quiet hall built under the pine and cypress trees. Yan Luo, a golden core cultivator, often practices meditation here in her free time. Few people visit this place, and beneath the green pines and cypresses, the hall appears exceptionally tranquil. The shadows of the trees reflect on the ground, swaying gently with the wind. Occasionally, the clear chirping of birds from the distant forest adds a touch of otherworldly charm.
Inside the hall, besides the youthful-looking Yan Luo, Yi Xin is also kneeling, carefully brewing tea. The fragrance fills the air.
After a while, the tea is ready. Yi Xin places the cup in front of Yan Luo and says, “Senior, please enjoy the tea.”
The tea cup is pure white, crystal clear like freshly fallen snow. The tea inside is clear, with a delightful aroma. A single whiff reveals it to be a precious and renowned tea.
Yan Luo lifts the tea cup, takes a sip, nods slightly, and smiles at Yi Xin, “You, little girl, may not have reached a high cultivation level, but your tea-making skills are impressive.”
Yi Xin chuckles and says, “Our family has a long history of cultivating spirit tea. Across generations, we’ve inherited not only the art of tea cultivation but also the skill of brewing. I may not boast about other things, but I’m confident in my tea-making abilities.”
Yan Luo nods and remarks, “Indeed, your ancestor, Master Yi Yu, was known as the Tea Immortal of Kunlun. His expertise in growing, evaluating, and brewing tea was unparalleled. That legacy has brought forth the renowned ‘Little Crane’ tea from your Yi family, which is still famous to this day. It’s no wonder you have a deep understanding of the way of tea.”
Yi Xin blinks, leans closer to Yan Luo, and whispers, “Senior, if you like the ‘Little Crane’ tea, how about I secretly bring you some next year during the tea harvest season?”
Yan Luo laughs and scolds, “You mischievous girl! Why not this year?”
Yi Xin pouts, “Senior, you know the cultivation of ‘Little Crane’ tea is delicate. Even with extraordinary abilities, I can’t get it outside the annual allocation. We, Kunlun Sect, reserve the majority for customary hospitality and gifts to other senior cultivators, not to mention several Nascent Soul cultivators. It’s impossible to obtain extra, even for me.”
She shrugs, “So, when the new tea comes out next year, I plan to sneak home during the night and gather some from the tea fields.”
As she speaks, her eyes carry a hint of innocent pleading as she gazes at Yan Luo.
Yan Luo laughs and playfully taps Yi Xin’s head, saying, “Alright, alright, just teasing you.” Suddenly, her gaze catches a faint scar on Yi Xin’s beautiful face, about an inch long, slightly reddish, and seemingly out of place. Yan Luo’s expression darkens slightly, and her fingers slide down to gently touch Yi Xin’s cheek. Yi Xin, sensing something, subtly recoils.
Yan Luo snorts, saying, “A perfectly lovely face almost ruined. Thinking about what happened with He Gang, I should have killed him on the spot.”
Yi Xin lowers her head briefly but quickly lifts it with a smile, “It’s in the past, Senior. Please don’t be angry.”
Yan Luo’s eyes soften with a hint of pity, “You, a young girl, inexplicably suffered such a great injustice. It’s truly hard for you.” Her expression then turns cold again, “As you mentioned earlier, in these many years, your Yi family has supplied famous tea and gained numerous connections. Yet, when you faced difficulties, not a single person stood up for you. It’s truly disappointing.”
Yi Xin sighs, “I did ask my father about this, but he said it’s not others’ fault.”
Yan Luo, slightly surprised, asks, “What did he say?”
Yi Xin said, “My father mentioned that although our Yi family’s tea is good, it’s ultimately just a beverage that people can do without. It’s enjoyed when one likes, and not drinking it doesn’t matter much. But on the day of the incident, He Yi, Senior Brother He, is a rare talent with a bright future ahead. His master, True Man Kongsong, not only is a Nascent Soul cultivator with vast magical powers but also the head of the Tianbing Hall, highly esteemed within the Kunlun Sect. Even the Sect Master values him greatly. In such a situation, no one would risk opposing them for a bit of spirit tea.”
“My father said it’s hard to blame others for this. He also said that our family’s biggest fault is being too weak.”
Yan Luo remained silent for a while, then sighed and chuckled self-mockingly, “So, it seems I’m the foolish one?”
Yi Xin rose from her seat, walked to Yan Luo, and knelt down, bowing her head to the ground. She said in a low voice, “Senior, you showed kindness in rescuing me from danger. Yi family is deeply grateful. In the future, if Senior has any instructions, I will do my best, regardless…”
Yan Luo waved her hand, stopping the continuation of Yi Xin’s words, then pulled her up. Her eyes softened with a hint of affection as she said, “Just take care of yourself. Moreover, the outcome of that matter wasn’t solely my doing.”
Yi Xin’s expression shifted slightly. She suddenly remembered what Lu Chen had told her before. There was a brief moment of distraction, but she quickly recovered, smiling at Yan Luo, “But, Senior, you did save me. So, Senior, rest assured, next year I will definitely bring you some ‘Little Crane’ tea.”
Yan Luo laughed, pulled Yi Xin to sit beside her, and sighed, “Speaking of which, blame that Master Dongfang for your troubles. He’s still in seclusion, unable to come out even though he hasn’t fully recovered, leaving you alone at Bai Cao Tang to be bullied.”
Yi Xin shook her head, “It’s not like that. My master has been exceptionally kind to me. Without him, I wouldn’t have entered Kunlun.”
“Humph!” Yan Luo spat disdainfully, saying, “That eccentric old man never does anything serious. If it weren’t for him insisting on taking you as his disciple, I could have guided you up the mountain.”
Yi Xin exclaimed, “Ah, really?”
Yan Luo glared at her, saying, “Nonsense! Do you think I’m that foolish? Without any reason, I would have confronted True Man Kongsong and his talented disciple? It’s just that I couldn’t stand it.”
“Oh, thank you so much!” Yi Xin held Yan Luo’s hand, smiling, “Unfortunately, Kunlun Sect doesn’t allow disciples to have multiple masters; otherwise, I would have chosen you.”
“You flatter me!” Yan Luo scolded with a smile, then continued, “But that old man Dongfang Tao, I’ve known him for many years. In terms of cultivation, he’s much stronger than me. If he hadn’t insisted on taking you as a disciple and went into seclusion to heal, those people wouldn’t dare to bully you.”
Yi Xin was surprised and asked, “Healing? My master is just in seclusion to recover, right?”
Yan Luo snorted, her eyes revealing a complex expression, “If it were just healing, he would have come out long ago. It’s been dragging on for so long; there must be a problem.”
Yi Xin became more and more astonished, “What kind of problem?”
Yan Luo raised two fingers, saying, “Two possibilities. First, Dongfang old man’s injuries are even more severe than we know, perhaps even beyond his endurance, and he might be close to death. Second…” She shook her head, lowered her voice, and said to Yi Xin, “He might have found an opportunity and is planning to break through to the Nascent Soul realm.”
Yi Xin stood up abruptly, exclaiming, “Nascent…”
Before she could finish, Yan Luo’s hand covered her mouth, pulling her back, giving her a stern look, and said, “Keep it quiet.”
Yi Xin’s face was filled with an incredulous expression, showing excitement and nervousness. Her whole body trembled slightly. She nodded repeatedly, and Yan Luo finally released her, but Yi Xin immediately covered her mouth again, as if only that could keep the secret.
After a long while, she seemed to calm down a bit. Still, her hands remained firmly on her mouth, and through the gaps, she tremulously asked Yan Luo, “Senior, is this true?”
Yan Luo snorted, saying, “I told you, it’s just my speculation. But I’ve known Dongfang for decades, and I can tell his character… If that old guy is lucky enough to break through the perilous life-and-death barrier, advance to the Nascent Soul realm, your good days will be coming.”
A Nascent Soul cultivator, commanding the wind and rain, moving mountains and filling seas, possessing vast magical powers beyond comprehension, has always been one of the top figures in the human cultivation world. However, achieving this realm is extremely rare, with only a tiny fraction of cultivators succeeding throughout thousands of years. This is due to the extremely perilous life-and-death barrier that must be crossed when advancing from the Golden Core stage to the Nascent Soul stage. Breaking through requires extraordinary perseverance, formidable spiritual strength, or the support of strong destiny. Moreover, it involves great risks and uncertainties, including the intrusion of extraterritorial demons.
“How wonderful!” Yi Xin was excited for a while but then became worried. She clasped her hands together, closed her eyes, and prayed to the heavens, saying, “I beg the heavens to bless my master with smooth progress and a safe journey.”
Yan Luo gazed outside the hall through the pine and cypress trees. The distant mountains were vaguely visible, surrounded by auspicious clouds and mist, but it was unclear who might be hidden deep in the mountains.
After a while, Yi Xin’s voice suddenly came from beside Yan Luo, “Senior, there’s something I’d like to ask you about.”
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