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 Chapter 1: Warm Inn Woodshed

Translator: Subudai11 Editor: Chrissy

Prologue

The Blue River Region terrain stood tall and erect with its continuous mountain range. However, if anyone asked about the highest mountain, people would eventually point to a certain place.

A sword-like towering mountain that pierced through the clouds on the plateau. On this mountain, there was a sect named Spirit Sword Sect, one of the leading prestigious great sects in the cultivation world, which dominated the Blue River Region. Hence, this mountain was also named Spirit Sword Mountain.

Spirit Sword Mountain summit. In an exquisite small bamboo chamber, an old man wearing a sword-type hairpin was looking at the clear sky. His hands were holding a silver sword. The sword reflected the starlight, and the delicate and complex symbols slowly rose along the sword like the flow of water. But halfway through, the flow abruptly stopped.

The old man's eyebrows wrinkled, his heart secretly thought that this was a bad omen.

"The sword's light has been interrupted; this means premature death. Sect Leader Senior Martial Brother, are you reading your own fortune?" As the voice came from behind him, a white-robed barefooted woman carrying a yellow wine gourd in one hand and a green bamboo sword in the other, along with the smell of smoke and alcohol that reeked from her body, appeared behind the star-gazing old man.

The star-gazing old man's deduction was interrupted, so he had no choice but to control his breathing to stop what he was doing. Soon, he breathed out a foul air from his mouth.

"Fifth Martial Sister, next time, remember to knock on the door."

"I knocked when I went out of my room."

"I mean my door, not your door."

The Sect Leader sighed, "Why are you looking for me?"

"To borrow money."

"... If I remember correctly, you still owe me twenty thousand spirit stones," the Sect Leader said, his expression serious and his eyes solemn.

The woman very bitterly said, "Ai, it's all because our Spirit Sword Sect is too poor. I, the magnificent Fifth Elder, the number two expert in our sect, unexpectedly only has five hundred spirit stones as salary each month, how can I pay off my debt? Martial brother, how about you abdicate your position and give it to me, I can then embezzle the public's money to pay back my debt..."

"Martial Sister, if you really want this sect leader position, then..."

"Then you will give it to me? Martial Brother, sure enough, you are really benevolent and righteous!"

"I want to say, if you want to be the sect leader, first you have to give up the bad habit of getting drunk and cultivating in seclusion for five years. When you reach the Yuanying Stage, then you can talk to me again."

The woman in white immediately pretended that nothing has happened. "Martial Brother, lend me some money."

"..."

"... For whom did you just do your divination for that to result in premature death?"

The Sect Leader Martial Brother said in a sinking voice, "Spirit Sword Sect."

The Fifth Martial Sister's complexion changed as she immediately sobered from the alcohol and argued, "You're joking, right!? Spirit Sword Sect will meet extinction?"

"It's more than just Spirit Sword Sect; I am afraid this sword's light is pointing at the whole cultivation world. Do you remember the legend about the end of time... Alas, this sword's light broke one-third of its way, I am afraid the days of peace in the cultivation world will only last for several years. Could it be that we really need to produce one billion spirit stones to sponsor the Union of Ten Thousand Immortals to repair those five prehistoric divine boats?"

"Spirit Sword Sect's Big Stars Diffraction Technique is among the very few deduction method in the cultivation world, and martial brother is a person of outstanding talent, so it is unlikely for you to make an error. But just now, when Martial Brother used the immortal sword, it is seemingly not the 'Year' sword."

The Sect Leader Martial Brother was stunned. "Not the 'Year' sword?" He hastily bowed in order to take a closer look; the character on the hilt of the sword was really not "Year", but...

The next moment, this awe-inspiring expert whose name shook a whole nation uttered a cry of horror, "Why is this a tea sword!? Does it mean that only a few tea time is left before our end?"

The Fifth Martial Sister was scared silly, and the wine gourd in her hand fell to the ground with a bang; the golden liquor gurgled out, but she completely ignored it.

"Sect Leader Martial Brother, how many times have I told you that you are nearsighted and you should honestly wear eyeglasses, you can't even tell the difference between 'Tea' and 'Sword'...Forget it, since we only have a few cups of tea before the end of time, Martial Brother, hurry up and abdicate your position to me, let me die in that position."

"... Even if I die, I will not shame our Spirit Sword Sect."

"I don't want to die with a monthly salary of five hundred spirit stones! I will die unable to close my eyes!"

As they argued, time flew by, and the few cups of tea time quietly slipped away.

At the Spirit Sword Mountain summit, the bright starry sky was especially dazzling. The stars in the sky were slowly but firmly up and running; each star flurriedly trembled, like pollen particles in water being observed in detail under microscopic observation. It was a never-before-seen occurrence in the Nine Regions for thousands of years.

Seeing this, the martial brother and sister's hearts were shocked.

The Big Stars Diffraction Technique was not false; the herald of the end of time casually came to the land to prepare for the merciless extermination of the cultivation world.

At the last moment, the Sect Leader Martial Brother, with a trace of paleness in his face, said...

"Martial Sister, there is one thing I would like to say over a century ago, but never had the opportunity to say it, since now the end is within sight..."

As the Sect Leader sent his firm yet magnetic voice, his brimming-with-truth words entered the opposite party's ears as the trembling of the stars continuously intensified.

"I think it is time to tell you the truth."

In these last minutes, time once again flew as the starlight vigorously burst like blooming flowers; the night sky was bright as day. A broom-like shooting sky pierced through the sky.

That was the legendary herald of the end of time, the Halley Comet. When the comet fell, the world's vital energy dried up, and the end of time arrived...The summit of the Spirit Sword Mountain trembled under this "heavenly wind", as though the sky was about to collapse.

The white-clothed woman's bright eyes swept around; a trace of the reverse image of the golden light was reflected in her frantic eyes. She lazily dragged her bamboo sword upward to cover her eyes from the light in the sky, as if she wanted to hold the falling sky.

However, the sky did not change, the shooting star flew past the land, and after that, the trembling stars and everything else went into silence.

The Fifth Martial Sister bewilderedly swung the bamboo sword around like a tentacle to sense the change in the world's vital energy.

"It seems... all right?"

The woman turned her head towards her Sect Leader Martial Brother for confirmation; her martial brother's cultivation was two realms higher than her - although she was not afraid to fight, but regarding this change in the heaven and earth, she still looked up to someone with authority.

The Sect Leader Martial Brother's face was desolate. "At least this is not the end of time."

"Oh, so the Big Stars Diffraction Technique is wrong? But that's okay. Martial Brother, why do you look so disappointed?"

"It's nothing."

"It is rare for us to avoid such a doom, let us celebrate by relieving my debt."

"..."

The doomsday crisis went past, remembering the surging desire to surrender to his passion just now, the Sect Leader inwardly heaved a long sigh. In addition, he became more puzzled.

The Big Stars Diffraction Technique was not absolute, but his earlier premonition was not wrong. Just now, the doomsday event really brushed past the continent.

Regarding this suddenly arrived and suddenly left crisis, the Sect Leader was at a loss.

But there was something that could be determined with certainty; it only had a meager impact on the continent.

The old man looked up at the vast galaxy, sighed, and once again fiddled with the immortal sword in his hand. After thinking for a long time, he said, "After escaping the calamity, there must be a blessing. The aftermath of this crisis will likely usher a golden age of the cultivation world... By the way, when was the last time we had an Immortal Gathering?"

The Fifth Martial Sister widened her eyes. "Raw, raw and fresh general assembly?" While talking, she almost began to drool. [1]

The old man ignored her as he pinched his finger to count. "At the very least, it has been more than a hundred years. Let's do it again in twelve years. When the time comes, the change in heaven and earth should somewhat appear. I am not asking too much; as long as the golden age a hundred years ago appears again, then our Spirit Sword Sect's revival is to follow."

Hearing about the sect's revival, the Fifth Martial Sister withdrew her smile and took a long yawn. Regarding this, the old man could only smile wryly.

"We missed the golden age one hundred years ago, from all the golden generation that time, there are only ten of us left, this time, no matter..."

After that yawn, the fifth martial sister coldly humphed, turned and walked away.

Meanwhile, below the Spirit Sword Mountain, at the unnamed corner of the Blue River Region, with a loud cry, a baby was born to the world.

...

[1] TL: The words said by the sect leader are -Sheng Xian, meaning "Immortal ascension" or "Immortal" which is a homonym to the words "raw and fresh".

----

Warm Inn Woodshed

Time flew by as the Halley Comet event became an anecdote in the entire Nine Regions. Few people knew that their world was once very close to annihilation.

The people in the Blue River Region only cared about one thing, the Immortal Gathering. It was last held one hundred years ago, and next month, it would once again be held. No one knew from where a talented hero would come to the fray.

This so-called Immortal Gathering was the immortal cultivation sects' recruitment event. After entering the sect, they would begin their cultivation path, which would then lead them straight towards the main path to becoming an immortal. However, only the five great sects in the Immortal Cultivation World can call their recruitment as Immortal Gathering.

The number one great sect in the cultivation world was the Shengjing Immortal Sect within the Central Region; the well-known origin of the Immortal Cultivation, the Kunlun Immortal Sect; the number one repository of Immortal Records, the Ten Thousand Arts Sect referred to as the Immortal Cultivation Museum; the Nine Regions' number one sect in terms of strength, the Royal Soldier Sect. There was also the disciple-less, money-less, inheritance-less, god-knows-why-they're-included-in-the-list-of-the-five-great-sects-by-the-union-of-ten-thousand-immortals Spirit Sword Sect.

The Spirit Sword Sect's disciples were few, and their affairs were low key. Regarding the sect's influence, they were even somewhat inferior to the normal first-rate sects, much less to the other four great sects. But the glittering advertisement from one of the five great sects made people unable to look straight. Moreover, it has been long since the Immortal Cultivation World held an Immortal Gathering.

The message of the Immortal Gathering from the Spirit Sword Sect spread around the Nine Regions three years ago. Anyone at the age of twelve or less, regardless of condition, could participate. In comparison, the other sects would sometimes require a background check of one's eighteen generations of ancestors which was simply unbelievable. Thus, as soon as they heard this news, it galvanized the ambitious youths all over the continent, the villagers in remote mountain villages, the sons of the wealthy and powerful families, and even princes... The temptation of entering the Immortal Path was simply too strong; the mortal world was relatively too boring.

At this time, it was still more than a week away from the gathering, yet the Spirit Creek Town under the Spirit Sword Mountain was already packed with people. This Spirit Creek Town was the transit gate between the Spirit Sword Mountain and the mortal world. The number of local residents was only several hundreds of people, but now the population of the newcomers has almost reached ten thousand people. At this point, the handful of inns were all full, people even built tents next to the public toilets as a temporary solution.

With these many people and so little space, it was inevitable that people would clash, especially at the famous Ru Family Inn; the rooms in that inn was a hotly contested spot.

Bang!

In front of the main door of the inn, the shadow of three people flew out and rolled into balls on the ground. The tallest two among them had bleeding noses as they scolded.

"Hey, little lady, our master is the honorable teacher of the state from the Azure Billow Country, how dare you be so rude to us!?"

However, the one being supported by the two, whose height was a head shorter and has a brown curly hair, was obviously a youngster with a less prestigious identity. With blood dripping down from his nose, he looked at the sneering Lady Boss inside the main door of the inn with his incredibly dull eyes.

Since young, the boy, Wen Bao, was never hit by anyone, not even his father. Unexpectedly, he took a big slap from the Lady Boss of this inn!

The Lady Boss was not old, she was seemingly around fourteen or fifteen years old only. She wore a coarse cloth robe and greasy apron, yet she looked proud like a princess.

"So what if your master is the teacher of the country? Even if your emperor is here, the result will still be the same! I told you, it's fully booked here, don't you understand human words!? Now even the Prince of the Great Ming Empire is obediently squatting in the firewood room, yet your tiny country wants to use force to live in the main building!? And you don't think you deserve those slaps!? Is there no family education in the Azure Billow Country?"

Wen Bao was a man who has a great national pride; feeling angry, he loudly roared, "How dare you insult our Azure Billow Country!? Don't think that just because you live in this Spirit Creek Town, we're already afraid of you! You..."

"Stop making a scene in front of my inn!"

Before Wen Bao finished his words, he saw the Lady Boss frown, her figure was like a wind as her foot swept out. The two bodyguards, who were experts in martial arts, were too late to react; they could only stare blankly as their young master was kicked like a punching bag and rolled down the ramp.

The Lady Boss was a businesswoman, a businesswoman was of the service of others, not of treating people with the extreme method. Although this kick seemed heroic, it was soft and flexible. Wen Bao did not feel particularly painful, but his whole body tingled and numbed; he was unable to move on his own, and he could only roll away down the narrow ramp outside the inn...

--

Wen Bao, helped by his bodyguard, returned to the front of the inn, bruised and battered. Though his heart wished to hack the Lady Boss into pieces, he kept his silence, signifying his admittance of defeat.

He cannot afford not to.

Spirit Creek Town was the transit gate between the Spirit Sword Mountain and the mortal world; it received the blessing from the Spirit Sword Sect so that no outsiders could cause damage to its grass or wood, much less the Lady Boss. These days, it was not like no one had ever thought of anything evil. The head bodyguard of the Yan Country's crown prince created a disturbance after drinking, but when a Spirit Sword Sect's cultivator passed by, that bodyguard's head was swiftly chopped, and his crown prince was blacklisted from the assembly and kicked back to his country. Compared to the Yan Country who occupied half of the "You" Region, the Azure Billow Country was indeed small, let alone the son of the teacher of the state, which was far from the status of a country's crown prince.

In his heart, Wen Bao felt hate and regret. Originally, he had known the rules of the Spirit Creek Town before he came; the first leg of the gathering would begin in this Spirit Creek Town. Family members were restricted to accompany the participants, the numbers of bodyguard should not exceed two, and then... they must comply with all the rules in town.

If it was not for the tiredness brought by the long journey, causing them to become somewhat ignorant, in addition to the rather uncultured peasant look of the Lady Boss, they wouldn't have made a disturbance. But now, although they had no idea whether the Spirit Sword Mountain Gate already discovered what happened, it would still cast a shadow for them in the future.

The two bodyguards were about to speak but hesitated. Wen Bao inwardly sighed, he knew that they wanted to advise him to apologize. He was the respected son of the teacher of the state, and in Azure Billow Country, his status was even higher than the crown prince. But currently, he unexpectedly had to bow down in front of a peasant girl, that was tough for him to accept!

Standing in front of the inn, Wen Bao took a few deep breaths, and his mood gradually calmed. He was no longer thinking about his humiliation, and he also didn't care about those malicious and mocking eyes - These noble teenagers usually put up a sophisticated look in their homes, however, because there were no elders that could discipline them, they had now become like a group of enemies who spared no effort to fight against their competitors.

When Wen Bao walked into the inn, a smile was plastered on his face, however, that smile only lasted a breath's time.

At the counter, the Lady Boss was similarly smiling like him, but her smiling face was even more sincere than his. That smile seemed to be directed at a similar eleven or twelve years old ordinary dressed teenager.

"Great, one best room. Please wait a moment; I will get people to tidy it up."

Wen Bao immediately felt grief and indignation from being betrayed. One best room!? Didn't she just say that it was full to the extent where the crown prince of the Great Ming Empire had to live in the firewood room? How could the best room suddenly appear now?

But this time, without waiting for Wen Bao to protest, other people at the lobby also became indignant. "Lady Boss! What do you mean by this!?"

"Didn't you say there is no room left? This Young Master took a thousand liang of silver, but I can't even stay in the firewood room, what qualification does he have to be able to stay in the best room!?"

"Even if this is Spirit Sword Sect's area, you ought to be reasonable, right?"

"Lady Boss, give us an explanation!"

Listening to the noisy crowd in the lobby, the professional smile of the Lady Boss suddenly turned icy cold. "So what? If you don't want to stay here, then get lost! Do you think I am willing to serve a group of waste like you?"

The Lady Boss's bad attitude immediately caused an outrage. Seeing the mob incident that was about to happen, the well-meaning local passers-by on the street pointed at the sign on the door. "You bunch of outsiders, are you guys blind? Look at this."

Some people immediately ran out from the crowd and saw that next to the three words Ru Family Inn inscription, there was the impressively written name of a man, Feng Yin.

Feng Yin alone was just a plain literary noun, but if the two words Daoist Master were added at the front, then that would be the name of a well-known exceptional person with high status in the cultivation world.

How high? This Spirit Sword Mountain was already so high, but at the summit of the Spirit Sword Mountain lived the Sect Leader of the Spirit Sword Sect. That sect leader was exactly that Daoist Master Feng Yin.

With the protection from this inscription of the Sect Leader of the Spirit Sword Sect, the various crown princes were immediately reduced to losers; this group of people quickly became dejected and depressed, and they no longer had the courage to show their displeasure openly.

However, their pent-up anger was hard to subside, so they took this opportunity to shift their focus of resentment on that youth's back; the one that was registering on the counter. As if sensing their gaze, the youth turned his head back. They saw that he has a delicate feature and a down to earth temperament. He was wearing a silk gown, and although it was not luxurious, it was still neat and tidy, which complemented him well.

However, regarding temperament, how could these princes be inferior to him? After a brief shock, their anger boiled up once again.

Seeing that the atmosphere turned tense, the youth raised his eyebrows and then loudly coughed.

"Things are not as you think."

After a pause, he continued.

"I have no affair with the Lady Boss."

Hearing such a remark, everyone's mind immediately had the same thought: Don't tell me that this guy has an affair with the Lady Boss!?

At this time, the princes' anger dissipated a little, because, since this was an affair, there was nothing they could do about it.

It was just that, behind the counter, the Lady Boss's cheeks were bright red, and soon it was very likely that she would explode from anger.

Fortunately, the youth promptly changed the subject.

"As the host of the Immortal Gathering, the Spirit Creek Town has rewards for guests' activities. One such reward is the lodging ticket in the Ru Family Inn."

At this point, the Lady Boss also confirmed, "That's right, he won the ticket fair and square, so you, this group of waste, just needs to shut up."

After that, the lobby was quiet for a moment, and then someone got up to raise an objection.

"The activities in the Spirit Creek Town are clearly written on the leaflets by the town gate. I have seen it, but it never mentioned anything about an inn ticket."

Another voice also echoed out, "We all got the rewards that you mentioned. They are nothing more than some souvenirs like wood carvings, talismans and the like, but we have never heard of an inn ticket. There are hundreds of people in this lobby, why is it that only he can get the ticket?"

The Lady Boss simply ignored this issue. She tilted her head and revealed a contemptuous smile towards that guy's insufficient scheme.

That youth patiently explained, "Because this reward is hidden, it will not be seen directly by you."

That crown prince who filed a complaint just now coldly sneered, "Then tell us, how can we get that reward?"

"Oh, the process of obtaining it is like this: at the town gate, have a dialogue with the man who distributes the flyers. He will tell you the story of the town and inform you about the various facilities in this town, including the restaurant, inn, grocery store, etc... You have to listen to this carefully in order to trigger the next step."

Hearing this, the princes in the lobby were astounded. When they met the old man at the town gate, they dismissed him as a rambling old man. He needed to spend half an hour just to tell the story about the town gate, how could they have the time to listen to him telling the story about the whole town!?

However, it was useless to feel regret about it now.

"At that time, I also listened to the end," someone suddenly said.

All the princes turned around and looked; a lot of people drew a cold breath because they recognize him as the second prince of the Grand Cloud Empire in the Cloud Region, Hai Yunfan

Grand Cloud Empire was one of the largest power in the Nine Regions. When Hai Yunfan was still a ten-year-old youth, he was already the most outstanding among many of the Grand Cloud Emperor's offsprings. People believed that one day, he would kick off his brother from being the crown prince.

Who knew that this second prince had actually left the empire and had come here to seek for immortality!

Hai Yunfan's eyes were awe-inspiring. "I listened to the story of that old man, but I never encountered the next step."

Hearing this, the youth actually laughed, "How could he directly tell you about the next step? You need to be aware. When the old man finished telling the story, he will cough a few times and say he is thirsty. This time, he will tell you to bring him water to drink."

However, Hai Yunfan shook his head. "At that time, I also gave him water."

The youth then said, "Then the old man would say, 'I've drunk the water, but I feel hungry instead'."

Hai Yunfan said, "Yes, that's why I let my servant gave him my share of dry rations."

The youth replied, "He would say thank you, but apparently, he was still unhappy while eating."

Hai Yunfan frowned, "... And then what?"

"And then I asked him, 'why are you still unhappy'? The old man would say, 'not unhappy, I just suddenly thought of Dong Liu's thousand layer cake'."

"And then... after you bought the thousand layer cake for him, he gave you the inn ticket?"

"How could it be that simple? After going to Dong Liu's dessert shop, the shopkeeper will tell you that the thousand layer cake has been sold out. After you inquired further, you will be told that the teahouse boss has bought the thousand layer cake for ten people. When you go to the teahouse, the boss will be busy playing chess with the guest. This time, you should not bother him with the thousand layer cake, but help him win in secret instead. After which, you will get a free thousand layer cake. Take this cake to the old man at the Town Gate. The old man will then give you a letter of recommendation. Take this letter of recommendation to the mayor. The mayor will want you to gather material... After going to the tailor shop... And then outside village... then afterwards ... Finally, after you give the copper ring to the old man at the Town Gate, you will be able to get the inn ticket."

...

When he finished, the lobby was quiet, leaving only the sound of rapid heartbeats of the princes.

People came from distant place, yet they all have high statuses; though small in age, they have already listened to a lot of things. But hearing the youth's story about the origin of the inn ticket, they felt incredible.

If the Spirit Creek Town deliberately designed these inn ticket tasks, then the designer must be stupid; at the very least, that person must have a mental illness. Who can get the ticket if someone has to go through such an elaborate making-one's-blood-boil procedure? Someone as attentive and bright as Hai Yunfan could only follow to the second step. But behind it, there were still more than ten steps waiting to be completed! Each step was more bizarre than the previous step!

But that youth could not possibly have a normal human brain. For this inn ticket, he must have run all over the town all day long! Let alone from the beginning to the end, no one told him that he would get a reward at the end! Why would he do that?

Even Hai Yunfan couldn't help but ask, "Do you know all of these in advance?"

The youth raised his eyebrows. "Who needs to know in advance? Seeing a huge chain of tasks lies ahead, any qualified adventurer will go all the way to the end!"

With that, he turned around and followed the waiter to the second floor. His back inexplicably looked confident and at ease.

Hai Yunfan frowned, the youth's tone of voice was like someone talking about something that was a matter of fact, as if only a mentally-handicapped person could not understand. However... it was indeed true that he didn't understand.

But it didn't matter, a lodging ticket for the best room was not that important. More importantly, who was this youth?

At this time, among the talented youths that gathered in this Spirit Creek Town, as long as someone has a bit of fame or a special skill, Hai Yunfan would have their information in his brain. But he had never heard of this youth, yet his bizarre reasoning alone was not something an obscure person could have... Thinking up to this, Hai Yunfan increasingly felt that this person was deep and immeasurable. Rumor has it that among the people gathered in this town, besides the sons of the influential people from the mortal world, there were also children of Immortal Cultivators' families. Could it be...?

Hai Yunfan was not far from the counter. His eyes quietly glanced at the register in order to see that youth's name.

"Wang Lu...? Never heard of it."

"Wang Lu?"

There were quite many princes and sons of officials in the lobby, so the name Wang Lu soon spread around in whispers.

"Could he be a Wang family member from the Southern Ridge Region? I heard that the Wang family members are a bunch of weirdos, that fits him well."

"That's impossible, I heard that Southern Ridge Region and Spirit Sword Sect hate each other, they will not let that region's descendants become a member of the Spirit Sword Sect."

"Or is he from the Wang family in Shengjing?"

"Then he can go to Shengjing Immortal Sect, why would he want to become a disciple of the Spirit Sword Sect? Although Shengjing Immortal Sect hasn't held the Immortal Gathering for years, if the descendants of the Wang Family really want to join the sect, it should not be too difficult for them to arrange a back entrance."

"Ai, you guys are talking about wishful thinking, you don't even know if that is his real name or not."

"..."

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