AIP - Chapter 5: A Karmic Debt Is Hard to Resolve
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
A gravestone was set up in front of Little River Village.
This was a grave for the whole population of Little River Village. All that was written on it was: 'The 138 villagers of Little River Village are buried here.'
There were no names, for Tang Jie was not a member of Little River Village. He could not write down the names, for he should not have known them!
Standing in front of the grave, Tang Jie was emotionless.
No—there was a sliver of sympathy and rage. These were emotions that any normal person would feel after experiencing such a tragedy, but these were not emotions one who belonged to Little River Village would have.
Tang Jie utilized his anger well to mask his pain.
Thus, no matter how closely Xu Muyang looked, he wouldn't see the expected sorrow on Tang Jie's face.
There was no way a twelve-year-old boy could conceal his emotions. Xu Muyang had to give up on this fantasy.
After glancing one last time at Yaya's grave, Tang Jie turned around. "Let's go."
Tang Jie set off first, and while Xu Muyang was still behind him, he took the chance to silently cry… It was a distance of more than one hundred li between Little River Village and Anyang Prefecture.
At Xu Muyang's usual speed, he could have reached it easily, but he wasn't fully recovered and had the 'burden' of Tang Jie, so they could only walk.
Fortunately, Tang Jie managed to find a few horses out in the fields that had originally belonged to the bandits. He then found a flatbed cart in the village and attached the horses to them, thus making a flatbed carriage that the two of them could sit on.
Tang Jie tied a few more horses to the back of the cart and loaded them with some of the better weapons, claiming that they could sell them once they got to Anyang Prefecture.
Though Immortals did not lack for supplies, Tang Jie clearly had no intention of relying on Xu Muyang for food and drink, but was intending to rely on himself.
Since they were traveling, they had to occasionally converse, deepening their understanding of each other.
Tang Jie fabricated a background, saying he had come from Sunward Village on the other side of Jade Orchid Mountain, and he was heading to Anyang Prefecture to look for work. Though he was only twelve, in this world, a twelve-year-old boy could already do some work, and it wasn't rare to see them working alone. As for Sunward Village, Tang Jie had been there before, so if Xu Muyang interrogated him, he could answer any questions. However, Xu Muyang didn't ask any more questions, completely believing Tang Jie's story.
However, Xu Muyang kept his own background mysterious, only saying that he was a cultivator who had long ago forgotten about mortal affairs and was no longer willing to bring them up. As for the address of 'Honored Immortal', Tang Jie was asked to no longer use it and to instead call him 'True Person'.
He didn't want to say much, but Tang Jie had a variety of questions.
"Why should I address you as 'True Person' and not 'Honored Immortal'?"
"Because I am not an Immortal. Only someone who has mounted the Immortal Platform can even be considered a semi-Immortal."
"What is the Immortal Platform?"
The Immortal Platform is the fifth realm of cultivation."
"And what does 'fifth realm' mean?"
"Cultivation consists of five major realms: Spirit Platform, Mortal Shedding, Celestial Heart, Violet Palace, and Immortal Platform. At the fifth realm, one can convert spiritual energy into Immortal Essence, thus becoming an Earth Immortal."
"Then what are the Spirit Platform, Mortal Shedding, Celestial Heart, and Violet Palace? And what is an Earth Immortal?"
The more Xu Muyang answered, the more questions Tang Jie asked.
His first impression of Tang Jie was that this boy was very talented, someone who was capable despite his young age. But now, he felt that a child was still a child, still innocent and ignorant.
The ignorance was real, but the innocence was naturally faked.
Tang Jie had been born with the ability to act cute and ignorant. The immature feared nothing, and no question was off limits.
Xu Muyang felt helpless, and while he answered a few at first, he decided to just feign deafness after that.
Even so, Tang Jie managed to learn a lot.
Cultivation was divided into five realms. In the first four realms, one was considered a cultivator or an immortal aspirant. Only in the last realm could one be considered to have entered the Immortal path and earn the appellation of Immortal.
In the first realm, the Spirit Platform Realm, one could be called a cultivator disciple, but to be called a spirit master would be overstepping one's bounds.
Though the Immortal Domain seemed very messy, it was actually very strictly regulated. Those of the Spirit Platform Realm were called Spirit Disciples, those of the Mortal Shedding Realm called Spirit Masters, those of the Celestial Heart Realm called True Persons, those of the Violet Palace Realm called True Lords or Celestial Sovereigns, and those of the Immortal Platform Realm called Immortals.
The common people knew nothing of this and called all cultivators Immortals. The Immortals did not make a fuss over this, but among themselves, they were very clear about the differences.
Anyone who dared to call themselves a True Person while not at the Celestial Heart Realm would be asking for trouble.
As for Xu Muyang, he was a True Person of the Celestial Heart Realm.
Tang Jie was astonished to hear that this Celestial Heart Realm True Person who had flattened a mountaintop was only in the 'middle of the pack'. What sort of abilities would someone at the Violet Palace Realm or Immortal Platform Realm have, then?
It was a good thing that he didn't say it out loud, or else Xu Muyang might have given him a good thrashing.
Middle of the pack?
Did he know how difficult cultivation was?
In the Rosecloud Domain, the Celestial Heart Realm, while not top-class, was still high in the ranks.
As for the Violet Palace Realm, those were existences who could found their own sects. Immortal Platform Realm cultivators were legendary existences. At this level, cultivators could breach the protective stellar winds and wander around the world beyond.
For this reason, Celestial Heart Realm cultivators could be described as the backbone of the Rosecloud Domain's cultivator strength.
And it was precisely because he was a Celestial Heart True Person that he could use Divine Sense to kill people without leaving a mark. It was just that his heavy injuries had even damaged his Divine Sense, causing his attack range to shrink.
Besides this, Tang Jie learned that Xu Muyang was not a native of the Sageheart Kingdom.
He was from the Nadir Hill Kingdom.
Rosecloud was home to beasts with the appearance of tapirs. They were born with three eyes, could move as fast as lightning, had vicious personalities, and made cries akin to a wailing infant. Killing was second nature for them.
In the 733rd year of Tianjing, the Guangfa Celestial Sovereign battled one of these vicious, three-eyed tapirs on an island in the far west. After three days of battle, he slew the tapir and turned it into a spirit hill that joined the island to the continent. This hill was called Tapir Hill, and was later known as Nadir Hill.
This was the origin story of the Nadir Hill Kingdom.
Sageheart was in the far east, and Nadir Hill was in the far west. Xu Muyang had come all the way from the west to east, and Tang Jie would never believe it if he said that he had just come to sightsee. Given what had happened before, the answer was obvious.
He had come here fleeing for his life.
Put bluntly, this was an Immortal in dire straits.
An Immortal in dire straits was still an Immortal, so Tang Jie privately told himself, I can't shun him.
With the cart, they could cover more than one hundred li in a day. Tang Jie drove the cart, while Xu Muyang didn't need to do anything except stay in the back and care for his wounds. In this time, Tang Jie even helped Xu Muyang apply some more medicine, ensuring that Xu Muyang had nothing to worry about.
At dusk, the two of them arrived at Anyang Prefecture.
Xu Muyang wanted to quickly resolve this karmic debt, so he took Tang Jie to the finest establishment in the city, Phoenix Pavilion.
Although resolving karmic debt with a fine meal was rather cheap, it was much better than burdening himself like this.
Frankly speaking, resolving karmic debt was merely a matter of doing something that one would not regret. It was impossible for one to not feel any regret or remorse in one's life, but at least one could reduce or minimize these things. A minor trifle like this was naturally nothing at all.
With this thought in mind, Xu Muyang only ordered the most expensive foods, not the tastiest, and the two of them enjoyed themselves.
But when the time came to settle the bill, Xu Muyang flipped through his belongings and realized that he didn't have any money!
Xu Muyang's wealth had been destroyed in the last battle, and even his storage bag had been lost. At the time, he had only managed to save the most important medicines and treasures. But when it came to money, he had not taken a single coin.
For mortals, money was a number-one priority that could never be forgotten, but in the eyes of cultivators like Xu Muyang, money was a worthless thing that was hardly worth the trouble. Moreover, he normally brought spirit foods, so he had no expenses to speak of. As a result, he had momentarily forgotten about this matter.
This matter still shouldn't have presented a problem to him. When he normally walked the mortal world, he would only need to reveal his identity to have rich merchants, officials, and local figureheads falling over themselves to give him money.
Even the King of Sageheart would be polite to him, and so long as he didn't come to find trouble, even the official sect of the Sageheart Kingdom, the Basking Moon Sect, would treat him with respect.
Gifts of money? Any money gifted to me would be trying to humiliate me!
But things were different now. He was being pursued by someone and needed to be inconspicuous. Exposing himself at Jade Orchid Mountain didn't matter, but now that he had left the mountain, he could no longer be so obvious.
Since he couldn't reveal his identity, he suddenly realized that he had no means of getting money.
Would he have to study the way of those lowly thieves and steal from others?
Or would he have to do some dine-and-dashing?
That was just too humiliating.
Tang Jie could see how conflicted he was, and said, "Eat. There's no need to worry. When I went out just now, I spoke with the manager. We can pay for this meal with a horse."
Xu Muyang's face went red. "How did you know that I didn't have any money?"
"Did you forget that I already searched your body?" Tang Jie answered.
After dinner, Tang Jie really did hand off a horse to the manager.
The horses ridden by these bandits differed in quality, and not all of them had been excellent steeds. However, the ones Tang Jie had selected were the best, and each one could be exchanged for forty taels of silver.
In this world, a single tael of silver had the purchasing power of one thousand yuan back in his original world.
Xu Muyang's dinner had cost forty thousand yuan—a truly extravagant feast.
After this was done, Tang Jie said, "If we keep this up, we'll end up broke after a few meals. Let's be a little more conservative after this."
Xu Muyang's face reddened, and he could only nod.
He was a mighty cultivator, a Celestial Heart Realm True Person. No matter where he went, he would be a first-rate individual, but now, he was being taught lessons by a little boy. This was truly absurd.
Tang Jie had brought six horses, and he still had five left. He sold them all to a merchant, exchanging them for 180 taels of silver.
Tang Jie had also taken the money off the bodies of the dead bandits, but alas, the bandits were all poor, with their weapons being their greatest assets. The bodies of a hundred-some bandits had only turned up ten taels of silver. But after selling off their weapons, he was able to scrape together two hundred taels of silver, a considerable sum.
Since Xu Muyang didn't have money, Tang Jie naturally had to pay for the lodgings as well.
Staying in the room that Tang Jie had rented for him, Xu Muyang grew even more miserable.
He had believed that once they were at Anyang Prefecture, Tang Jie would have to rely on him for his livelihood, but the opposite turned out to be true.
Knowing that he was dependent on Tang Jie for food and lodging while Tang Jie depended on him for nothing left Xu Muyang with an extremely unpleasant feeling.
How was it that he had not only failed to repay the favor, but now owed even more?
Xu Muyang felt very vexed by his situation.
He normally spent every night quietly meditating, harmonizing his breathing and treating his injuries.
But tonight, alone in his room, he could sense that his emotions were restless, unsuitable for meditation. Thus, he went out to the yard to practice the Visceral Manifestation Classic.
The Visceral Manifestation Classic was a cultivation mantra that he had come upon, and it was precisely this incident that had forced him to flee for his life.
As he was circulating his energy, he saw Tang Jie walk out of his room to stand nearby and watch.
To watch a cultivator cultivate was the greatest taboo.
Xu Muyang wanted to rebuke him, but when he thought about how this boy was young and didn't understand these rules, and also how Tang Jie had looked after him, he felt that driving him away would be too ungrateful. Unable to tell him to leave, Xu Muyang just let Tang Jie watch, thinking to himself that since this boy lacked the foundation or the corresponding cultivation arts, he wouldn't be able to get anything from the experience.
At this time, he was utilizing his supreme self-consoling art.