AIP - Chapter 14: The Basking Moon Sect
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The vicious winds finally died down.
The spiritual energy had vanished from Xu Muyang's body, which thudded to the ground.
Once the light was gone, a downpour of spiritual rain descended. This was all of the spiritual energy that Xu Muyang had absorbed, now returning to nature.
When an Immortal passed, a hundred spirits were born.
When an Immortal was born, a hundred spirits vanished.
This was an unchanging principle of the cultivation world.
The relationship between the cultivation world and the natural world was like that between night and day, in a constant cycle of creation and destruction.
When a cultivator died, it would mean that a pure land of spiritual light would be born. Similarly, when a powerful cultivator emerged, a large amount of resources would be consumed, and perhaps even countless mountains and rivers would disappear.
But to Xu Ruogu, while spiritual energy was cyclical, there was no getting back a lost life. Spiritual rain fell on his body, shoulders, and face, turning into tears.
"Little Brother…" Xu Ruogu silently wept.
"Bastard!" Shi Wunian furiously roared.
Xu Muyang had detonated his Celestial Heart, and while the Heaven Earth Barrier had prevented him from taking too much physical damage, his dignity had been severely damaged. This was no different from a vicious slap to the face.
What did it matter that he was a Violet Palace True Lord?
Xu Muyang had still left him with nothing.
He Chong charged out and searched Xu Muyang's body, but he found nothing.
His face ghastly pale, he turned to Shi Wunian and said in a trembling voice, "Aspirational Lord… The Martial Mirror isn't on him… "
Shi Wunian gasped.
He had come on this trip precisely to get back the Profound Martial Mirror, never imagining that Xu Muyang might not have it.
After all, it was a rare treasure that was the key to opening the formation. Anyone who got it would be unwilling to part ways with it. Only now that he recalled Xu Muyang's words did he realize that he might have made a grave mistake.
Xu Muyang had not been lying. Half a year was enough time for him to do many things!
"Search! This is the foundation of Godhead Palace's prosperity! Even if you have to search the heavens and the earth, you will get the Martial Mirror back!" Shi Wunian lost his bearing as he chillingly spoke, his savage visage infused with an indescribable terror.
As he called out, He Chong rushed into the ruins and began to search through them.
Though he was a True Person of the Celestial Heart Realm, he now acted like a mole, though he seemingly did not care about his appearance. But despite his best efforts, he found nothing.
After seeing He Chong search through the ruins and come up with nothing, Shi Wunian's eyes filled with killing intent.
He angrily glared at Xu Ruogu. "Your fine third brother!"
Xu Ruogu was stunned. Realizing that Xu Muyang had thoroughly enraged Aspirational Lord Wunian, he hastily dropped his head. "O wise Aspirational Lord, this matter has nothing to do with the Xu Clan! Xu Ruogu, as a representative of the Xu Clan, will mobilize all our men to seek out this Martial Mirror!"
"Find it? How?"
Xu Ruogu took in a deep breath and answered, "I understand my third brother. Since he said that he had a plan, the Martial Mirror probably isn't here. But when we arrived, I found that the courtyard was very clean, as if someone was frequently cleaning the place. My third brother has never cared about his appearance, was too lazy to care about anything besides his clothes, and in his difficult straits, he certainly wouldn't have been in the mood to keep the courtyard clean. Someone else must have been responsible for this. In addition, I got a look at that stone table and saw that there were several small appetizers on it. Third Brother has never been fond of mortal food and drinks. With this food and wine on the table, it must mean that he was enjoying them with someone else. Although he's put away the bowls and chopsticks, I can still see that he was not alone here."
"He must have given the Martial Mirror to someone else!" Xu Ruogu firmly declared. "So long as we find this person, we can find the Martial Mirror. Since the wine and food were still warm, this person hasn't been gone for long. If we find out who they are, we will be able to get back Godhead Palace's possession…"
Shi Wunian's eyes brightened. "He Chong, immediately investigate who was staying together with Xu Muyang."
Xu Ruogu sighed in relief upon obtaining Shi Wunian's acknowledgment. Little Brother, in the end, I had to let you down.
In Xu Muyang's eyes, no one in Godhead Palace was worth trusting. While Shi Wunian had been saying that he had never meant to silence him through death, who could say if he was telling the truth? Perhaps it had merely been a means of winning over the Xu Clan. Once he had the Martial Mirror, he might have started killing everyone. Since the Xu Clan had been brought into the mix, then even if they didn't know the entire truth, they would know that this was an extremely important matter and thus be silenced anyway.
But if Godhead Palace couldn't get the mirror, there was no point in silencing witnesses, and with the additional threat of leaking information, the Xu Clan was safe.
But this was only Xu Muyang's opinion. The only people he had interacted with were the members of Godhead Palace harboring ill intentions while he was working on the formation. His viewpoint determined that he would never be able to trust anyone from Godhead Palace.
Xu Ruogu did not think this way.
It had to be said that the Xu Clan was still one of the four great clans of Nadir Hill, boasting high status and prestige and a network that spanned the kingdom. If Godhead Palace destroyed the Xu Clan, it would trigger massive unrest in Nadir Hill, with such broad and far-reaching effects that it might even cause internal discord within the sect. While Godhead Palace was powerful, it was still rooted in the lands of Nadir Hill and relied on mortals and numerous ordinary cultivators for its extraordinary status. It would not take such a chaos-causing move lightly. Killing Xu Muyang would only affect the Xu Clan. Destroying the Xu Clan would affect the entire kingdom. Their meanings were completely different.
Thus, Xu Ruogu firmly believed that even if Godhead Palace got back the Martial Mirror, it would not truly destroy the Xu Clan. On the contrary, it might use the opportunity to ingratiate itself and share some of the goods with the Xu Clan, thus burying the hatchet between the two.
This was not out of the realm of possibility. After all, Godhead Palace had not killed Xu Muyang. He had committed suicide, making it somewhat easier for the Xu Clan to accept.
But on the other hand, if they didn't get back the mirror, there was a high chance that Godhead Palace would remember this grudge and secretly work to suppress the Xu Clan, causing it to fall from its peak status. At the very least, this chance was higher than that of the Xu Clan being annihilated.
The dead only thought about survival, but the living had to consider how to live even better and to continue the glory of the clan.
Thus, he was more willing to help Shi Wunian get back the Martial Mirror to seek forgiveness.
While brothers, they had two completely different opinions.
Xu Muyang had a rather extreme personality, while Xu Ruogu was very steady and earnest. But Xu Muyang understood the importance of the Martial Mirror, while Xu Ruogu knew nothing.
It was impossible to say who was more right until something happened.
As they were thinking, a loud cry came from the horizon. "Who dares to release spiritual might in this land, alarming the common people and acting as if my Basking Moon Sect does not exist?"
"The Basking Moon Sect's people are here!" He Chong shouted.
Shi Wunian coldly grunted. "He Chong, get to work. Xu Ruogu, come with me to welcome them. I really wonder: what can the Basking Moon Sect do to us?"
Qiong Province was remote, so even if the Basking Moon Sect had sent people to manage this place, it could not be anyone too important. So long as it wasn't an elder of the Basking Moon Sect, who could think about stopping Shi Wunian?
Several figures flew over from the distance, their leader wearing a black robe and sporting a long beard. He had a lively light in his eyes and a large sword slung across his back.
Upon seeing Shi Wunian, he was just about to shout orders when he suddenly shivered, rubbed his eyes, and took a second look. Seemingly frightened, he descended from the air, then immediately put his hands together and bowed. "Nan Baicheng of the Basking Moon Sect pays respects to Aspirational Lord Wunian. I did not know that the Aspirational Lord was gracing this land with your presence, so please forgive me!"
Shi Wunian glanced at this Nan Baicheng and noted, "Kid, you have some experience."
Nan Baicheng smiled. "Aspirational Lord is a celestial being. This one is Nan Baicheng, assigned as the branch manager of Anyang Prefecture. This one is fortunate enough to possess a Myriad Immortal Register, where he saw Aspirational Lord's image, so this one knows not to offend you."
The so-called Myriad Immortal Register was really a sort of protective talisman in the cultivation world.
There were all kinds of eccentric personalities in the cultivation world, those who lacked tact and loved to play around in the mortal world. If some unaware and unlucky individual ran into one of these high masters, they would truly be seeking death.
There was no telling when one might run into such an individual, so someone established the Myriad Immortal Register, upon which were drawn the images and distinguishing characteristics of all those at or above the Celestial Heart Realm, the True Persons and True Lords.
Of course, not all great powers could be found in the Myriad Immortal Register, and some experts were skilled in changing their appearance, but it was still better than nothing.
Later on, a new function was developed for the Myriad Immortal Register. These were rankings. There were rankings for new talents, rankings for True Lords… It was essentially a strength differentiator.
There was no ranking for the Immortal Platform Realm. Firstly, there were very few people in this realm. Secondly, Immortals were not people that could be recklessly ranked by mortals. Accidentally irking some Immortal would result in an unjust death.
Shi Wunian was one of the Four Divine Lords of Godhead Palace, and he had made his name early on and was renowned throughout the cultivation world. Thus, his appearance was recorded on the Myriad Immortal Register. Besides that, he had a proud personality and refused to do something as lowly as changing his face. Thus, Nan Baicheng had almost instantly recognized him.
As for Xu Ruogu and He Chong, while they were on the Myriad Immortal Register, they were ranked very low, and their drawings had been done crudely, so Nan Baicheng was not guaranteed to recognize them. Of course, even if he had, he wouldn't have cared, given that the mighty Shi Wunian was present.
Nan Baicheng was the manager for Anyang Prefecture and its surroundings, and though he did not hold any government position, as a Spirit Master of the Mortal Shedding Realm, he had the respect of all the officials and cultivators in the area, who all addressed him as Spirit Master.
But in front of Shi Wunian, he was like a mouse who had seen a cat, not even daring to fart. He was so frightened that those behind him also fell silent, not knowing where this man had come from.
They didn't even have the right to see the Myriad Immortal Register.
Nan Baicheng came forward and bowed. "For what reason has Aspirational Lord Wunian graced the meager lands of Qiong Province? If there is something you need, Aspirational Lord need only say the word. This one will do everything in his power to serve."
Shi Wunian grunted, "No need. We have business here, so just leave."
Nan Baicheng's expression immediately turned awkward.
But after some thought, Nan Baicheng raised his hands in a salute and said, "Aspirational Lord is incorrect. This Anyang Prefecture is under the administration of my Basking Moon Sect, and we are the masters of this place. While Aspirational Lord is a Violet Palace True Lord, you are still a guest, and is there such a thing as a guest having the master leave?"
"What did you say?" Shi Wunian's eyes unleashed divine light as he glared at Nan Baicheng. Invisible spiritual pressure immediately came down on Nan Baicheng, and he felt like there was a mountain on his shoulders, rendering him immobile.
He endured the pressure and said with some difficulty, "If Aspirational Lord has business, Nan Baicheng will naturally not stop you, but as the supervisor appointed by the sect, this one cannot just leave. Please forgive me for this offense, Aspirational Lord."
When he first saw Shi Wunian, he had been overcome with terror, but he had quickly composed himself, and he was now throwing caution to the wind.
Before getting here, he had seen spiritual energy shoot into the sky with an astonishing aura, and he knew then that this was probably not a problem he could deal with. Thus, he had long ago shattered his messenger talisman, sending a notification to the sect. And when he saw that Aspirational Lord Wunian had come personally, he had shattered an emergency token. Not only could this emergency token request aid, it could also contain a small amount of information. As time was short, he only had time to write in his sleeve that the Aspirational Lord had come. Though it was rather vague, it was probably enough for the Basking Moon Sect to understand.
The Basking Moon Sect's men were already on the way, so all he needed to do was keep these people here until then.
If the reinforcements from the sect saw Shi Wunian driving him away with a single sentence, he could end any hopes he had of further advancement in the sect.
But if he could resist Shi Wunian's pressure until the sect's reinforcements arrived, he would have made a major contribution.
He knew that he couldn't hold Shi Wunian for even a second, but this was still the Basking Moon Sect's territory. If Shi Wunian dared to kill a member of the sect here, he would be essentially slapping the Basking Moon Sect in the face. This was not something he would do unless he had gone completely mad.
Nan Baicheng was also taking a gamble!
There had always been many people in the cultivation world who were willing to gamble their lives for the sake of advancement.
"So you insist on observing me?"
Nan Baicheng smiled and answered, "Aspirational Lord misunderstands. Aspirational Lord is a guest from afar, so this one only wishes to do his utmost in his role as the host. As the branch leader of Anyang, I can be considered a local expert, so if Aspirational Lord needs something done, you need only ask. Nan Baicheng is willing to lead his subordinates in serving you."
The cultivators at his side were sharp, and immediately saluted. "We are willing to serve the Aspirational Lord!"
Shi Wunian could not possibly have them help him find Tang Jie. Once Tang Jie was found, they would probably interrogate him first.
Any matter that required a True Lord was not a small concern!
Just when Shi Wunian was about to say 'no need', Nan Baicheng glanced at the nearby ruins and sternly said, "Qi Nan, can you find out who was living here?"
Shi Wunian immediately felt an ill foreboding. The Basking Moon Sect was familiar with the area and would probably find out everything soon. He immediately thought about silencing witnesses, but then he realized that Nan Baicheng had undoubtedly already reported back, and this was the incident site. He might have been able to kill the person, but there was no silencing the words.
He inwardly fumed, cursing Xu Muyang for giving him such trouble right before he died.
There were many ways of committing suicide, but he had chosen to detonate his Celestial Heart, probably precisely so that he could bring in the Basking Moon Sect.
Nan Baicheng had no idea how many times the death god had circled over the heads of him and his subordinates. A cultivator at his side quickly withdrew, and a few moments later, he returned with a booklet. After flipping through it, he said, "Found it. Half a year ago, this house was sold. The buyer was some youth not local to the area."
"Not a local?" Shi Wunian's eyes flashed. "What was his name?"
The cultivator was just about to answer when Nan Baicheng snatched the book and instantly destroyed it.
"You…" Shi Wunian was enraged. Just when he was about to strike, Nan Baicheng placed his hands on that cultivator's face, building up spiritual energy as he loudly said, "Aspirational Lord, since you have come here, how could you just leave? If it were to be known that my Basking Moon Sect treated Aspirational Lord so rudely, we would lose all face. As for information on the owner of this house, it is but a minor concern. So long as Aspirational Lord is willing to stay, the Basking Moon Sect will offer the information with both hands."
It appeared that if Shi Wunian did not agree, Nan Baicheng would unleash his spiritual energy and destroy that cultivator's head. This was a decision that Nan Baicheng had made on the spot.
Shi Wunian angrily smiled. "Do you really think that will work on me?"
"Of course not. A Violet Palace True Lord can send their Divine Will through the world and create ten thousand arts with a single chant. How could a few little tricks from me possibly stop a True Lord?" Nan Baicheng smiled.
With these words, his subordinates finally understood that they were facing a master of the Violet Palace Realm, leaving them scared out of their wits.
But Nan Baicheng continued, "But while it is easy for Aspirational Lord to kill me, it is not easy to stop me. And I presume that Aspirational Lord came from afar to do more than kill members of my Basking Moon Sect, yes?"
Shi Wunian froze.
The six major sects did not coexist in harmony. They had many quarrels with each other, but these conflicts were not in the open and were instead prosecuted in the shadows. Going up to the door and slapping the other party in the face was not something people of this sort did lightly. Provoking one's opponent normally had few advantages.
Nan Baicheng continued, "Aspirational Lord, please hold a while."
Shi Wunian coldly snorted, "Brat! It has been many, many years since I've met such an audacious junior. It seems that the Basking Moon Sect has been producing a lot of talents as of late. But, unfortunately, it seems like they lack experience."
Shi Wunian slightly raised his hand.
Nan Baicheng turned pale. Was Shi Wunian really going to risk a grudge with the Basking Moon Sect to kill him?
But to his surprise, Shi Wunian pointed at an empty area in front of him, upon which the destroyed book began to come back together. Once it had reformed, it flew into his hands, even on the same page number it had been when it was destroyed.
"This… The Art of Origin Return?" Nan Baicheng cried out in alarm.
"No, it is the Dao Will of Time. While the Art of Origin Return can return things back to their original shape, it requires sufficient understanding of the object in question. But the Dao Will of Time is different. It only has the target return to what it was at a certain point in time," Shi Wunian answered with a smile.
"Dao Will… A Dao-controlling Celestial Sovereign?" Nan Baicheng said in shock.
While True Lords and Celestial Sovereign were both at the Violet Palace Realm, there was a difference between them.
Spells, arts, divine connections, and Daos—these were the four major abilities of cultivators, and only those who controlled a Dao could be called Celestial Sovereigns.
Without control over a Dao, even if one entered the Violet Palace, one could only call themselves a True Lord.
Shi Wunian regretfully shook his head. "Only a minor Dao. This cannot be considered true control over a Dao, as it can only be used on inanimate objects. The Great Dao is boundless, and who can say that they can control it? Even Celestial Sovereigns can't compare to Earth Immortals…"
As he spoke, he began to read through the book, and he quickly found the information he sought.
"Tang Jiye, twelve years old…" Shi Wunian read out the name.
At this time, He Chong ran over. Just when he was about to say something, Shi Wunian waved his hand and said, "I already know who this person is. Let's go."
Nan Baicheng panicked and said, "Aspirational Lord, please hold. My sect's third senior uncle has heard of Aspirational Lord's arrival and is already on his way to welcome you, and he has ordered this lowly one to keep Aspirational Lord here no matter what. His venerable self will soon be here…"
"That madman Xiao Biehan is coming?" Shi Wunian scowled at this name, angrily saying, "This old man has no time to see him!"
Basking Moon Sword Fanatic Xiao Biehan was a renowned martial maniac who loved fighting with others the most in life. This fellow clearly wanted to find him for a duel, regardless of anything else.
Shi Wunian naturally wasn't afraid of him, but he had an important mission and no time for Xiao Biehan.
But though he didn't want to fight, the other party might not be willing to let him go.
He had barely spoken when a long whistle could suddenly be heard from the distance, after which a beam of sword energy pierced through the clouds and erupted with light. There was even more power in this sword energy than in Xu Muyang's detonation of his Celestial Heart, and sharp sword intent swept through the world. Even though it was far on the horizon, Shi Wunian and Xu Ruogu could still sense that vicious fighting intent.
"Bastard!" Shi Wunian cursed.
Xiao Biehan had come so quickly that it was obvious that he had used a teleportation formation.
All of the six kingdoms had teleportation formations to make movement convenient so that any stricken area could be swiftly reinforced. But teleportation formations of one kingdom were not normally linked to teleportation formations of another, and one would have to cross the border the old-fashioned way. Besides that, using them required a vast amount of spirit stones, so they were only used for important occasions.
Shi Wunian had not imagined that Xiao Biehan would be so insane as to use a teleportation formation to come over and duel him.
A frigid sword flew out from the distance. At first glance, it was far on the horizon, and a moment later, it was right in front of them.
An illusory sword sliced at Shi Wunian as a brash voice resounded in the air. "Shi Wunian, you came at the perfect time! Come and fight me!"
"Xiao Biehan, this one is searching for a traitor to the sect. It has nothing to do with your Basking Moon Sect!" Shi Wunian pointed his hand at the air and thrust, causing that sword to disappear.
"So long as it happened within my Basking Moon Sect's territory, how could my Basking Moon Sect not be involved? Cut the chatter! Let's fight first!"
With this bellow, a tall and muscular middle-aged man with long hair appeared out of the clouds. He swung his arm, and another sharp light sword slashed at the ground.
"He Chong, Ruogu, go after that person. Leave this fellow to me!" Shi Wunian roared. Golden armor appeared on his body—the same kind of golden armor that Tang Jie had seen at Jade Orchid Mountain, though radiating even brighter golden light. He punched, instantly creating spiritual pressure that made everyone back away, their feet shivering in fear.
But Xiao Biehan was unsatisfied, brashly declaring, "Don't try and fool me with your Godhead Armor! Hurry up and use your Great Aspiration divine connection!"
Each slash more frenzied than the last, Xiao Beihan filled the sky with innumerable swords, imbued with so much power that they cut down hills into flat land. The aftershocks of sword energy alone were enough to send cultivators scattering.
"Bastard! Bastard! Bastard!" Shi Wunian was infuriated beyond words. He knew that there was no way he could go after Tang Jiye with this fellow dragging him down. His only option was to try and defeat him first.
A moment later, he flew into the sky and began to chant, "I declare my great aspiration: to destroy all conditioned existences in this world…"