Chapter 9 – Taking the Road Less Traveled, Acting Cool without Explanation
**Originally translated by Incarneous, with edits
The group explored the Sealing Dragon Abyss, travelling for some time. When they stopped for rest, Yan Zhaoge immediately sat down cross-legged and began to meditate.
Amongst the group, Ye Jing’s gaze focused on Yan Zhaoge.
“There will eventually be a day when I will defeat you. When that time comes, let’s see if you can maintain your loftiness, your disdain, and that prideful look on your face…”
Other than his old grudge, the current Ye Jing felt a strange emotion that could not be described when faced with Yan Zhaoge.
It was somewhat like the mutual appreciation between geniuses, but there was more a sense of awkwardness and annoyance.
It was almost like they were natural adversaries, as he subconsciously felt like he was being suppressed, further leading to him feeling out of sorts.
“Strangely, the seed of Li Flame True Fire he mentioned back in the Assignment Hall should be extremely useful for me as well,” Ye Jing thought within his mind, “If it falls into his hands and is used for his purposes, that would truly be a waste…”
Just as Ye Jing was thinking thus, his eyes suddenly widened and progressively widened some more.
Sikong Qing and the others now also discovered that something unusual was currently taking place. Yan Zhaoge was currently cycling the dreaded black mist avoided by everyone into his body.
This act in their eyes was just like suicide by poison.
Yan Zhaoge did not care about what bystanders would think. Looking inside his body, chaotic streams of baleful qi could be seen gathering under the control of the secret technique as it formed something similar to a grinding wheel. Then, affected by surging aura-qi, it began spinning incessantly.
As it spun, the aura-qi inside Yan Zhaoge’s body became increasingly sharp like a blade being polished, and he could faintly detect his qi starting to penetrate its way out of his body.
“Excellent. Compared to normal cultivation, the efficiency is three to five times higher, perhaps even more. Even though it’s only applicable for training from the inner aura to the outer aura stage, it can still save me a large amount of time. The outer aura Martial Scholar realm is now close at hand.”
Yan Zhaoge nodded in satisfaction. His cultivation session having reaped him sufficient benefits, he stopped his cultivation for now. As he opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was a bunch of his shocked fellow disciples staring dazedly at him.
“It’s really easy to attract the eyes of others when one deviates off the usual path…” Yan Zhaoge thought to himself as he grinned, “This bro’s cool existence, truly needs no explanation.”
The eyes of the young disciples flashed with sudden understanding, “Due to the abnormalities in the Sealing Dragon Abyss, the black mist is more turbulent than before. These changes which have never been seen before are bizarre and cannot be explained. Senior apprentice-brother Yan took the mist into his body in order to better analyze these changes, right? But this type of method is far too dangerous.”
Yan Zhaoge was surprised for a bit, as he was slightly speechless at people’s ability to make up nonsense regarding things they didn’t understand.
Everyone responded with a sudden realization. They nodded their heads, having been convinced, “So that’s how it was.”
Ye Jing still had some doubts as his finger subconsciously stroked the dark red ring he wore.
Seeing Ye Jing, Yan Zhaoge couldn’t help but roll his eyes even though he did it so fast that no one else could perceive it, “He actually does have a ring…”
While he probably had his own fortunate encounters, secret methods, and other things Yan Zhaoge didn’t know about, Ye Jing’s quick rise, speedy cultivation, and, more importantly, outstanding abilities that were a notch above the rest, were obviously a result that stemmed from this ring.
However, Yan Zhaoge did not care about that ring at all.
At this time, everyone else was shouting his praise and proclaiming their admiration, “Even if a Martial Scholar had a cultivation higher than senior apprentice-brother Yan, they still would not dare to directly take the black mist into their body, right?”
To them, the black mist was something that could take their life at any time, whereas Yan Zhaoge seemed completely indifferent to it.
“Anyway, this isn’t something you should rashly imitate. Otherwise, it would be like opening the door for a thief or letting a wolf into your room; inadvisable.” Yan Zhaoge said.
He stood up and brushed the dust off his clothes.Then, he took the lead and started walking once more. The others hurried to catch up.
At this time, a tall figure sped towards them from behind group and caught up with Yan Zhaoge. This person was Ah Hu.
Yan Zhaoge did not stop. His pace continued undisturbed, neither slow nor fast. When Ah Hu came up beside him, he sent a sound transmission, “Young Master, we have the information. While we haven’t been able to verify anything for certain, rumors say that Ye Jing has attracted the discerning eyes of Elder Shi after the new disciple youth competition.”
Yan Zhaoge turned and gave Ah Hu a look after hearing this news.
Ah Hu nodded, “It is rumored that Elder Shi admires how he constantly strove to improve himself in order to get to this point and his persevering disposition. He is prepared to observe Ye Jing for a while and should no problems arise, he intends to accept Ye Jing as his direct disciple.”
Yan Zhaoge revealed a sneer, “No wonder…”
This Elder was not like those other Elders. Elder Shi could not be compared to the Elder Cui from before, and also not the Principal Elder overseeing Eastern Tang Kingdom. None of them was anywhere close to his level.
Elder Cui was only a normal Assignment Hall elder; furthermore, he was the type that had slowly achieved his position through countless years of accumulation.
The Acting Elder of the Eastern Tang Kingdom was a Principal Elder, but above him, there was still the Eastern Region’s Disciplinary Elder who watched over the entire East Heaven Region.
Far from those two, Elder Shi was the Chief Elder of the Punishment hall of the entire clan, someone who wielded the power to enforce all the rules and punishments. In terms of rank, he was equal to the Eastern Region’s Disciplinary Elder, but in terms of authority and power, he was far stronger.
He was also Yan Zhaoge’s eldest apprentice-uncle, and Broad Creed Mountain’s current Clan Chief’s eldest direct disciple.
This man was upright and outspoken. He considered himself less talented than Yan Zhaoge’s father as well as his second apprentice-uncle, and had thus publicly announced his withdrawal from the candidacy for the successor for the position of Clan Chief early on. He was willing to support whoever won the race, because everything was for the sake of developing the clan.
In truth, while Elder Shi considered himself as less capable than his two junior apprentice-brothers, his actual ability was actually comparable to the two. Moreover, he was a veteran Martial Grandmaster, one of Broad Creed Mountain’s renowned peak experts. In the entire Eight Extremities World, his prowess was known far and wide.
While not participating in the race to be successor of the clan, his opinion weighed very heavily nonetheless. Even the current Clan Chief regarded his opinion very highly.
No matter who would become the next Clan Chief, he would continue to occupy the position of the Punishment Hall’s Chief Elder. He was a super big shot of the clan, not just in name but also in reality, .
At the present time, this eldest apprentice-uncle had remained neutral in the competition between Yan Zhaoge’s father and his second apprentice-uncle.
Considering Ye Jing’s attitude towards Yan Zhaoge, should Ye Jing be killed for what seemed to be the jealousy of a love rival, Elder Shi’s reaction could easily be imagined.
Even if there was no evidence, only suspicion, it could still affect the opposite party’s perception of him and, by extension, their side.
Ah Hu continued, “About this matter, Ye Jing himself is probably not in the know. Elder Shi desires to observe him for a while longer.”
He looked at Yan Zhaoge again and said irritably, “Young Master, this time, I’m afraid you might really need to look after that Ye Jing. Otherwise, if he dies in the Sealing Dragon Abyss, even if you didn’t do it, all the blame will still fall on you.”
Yan Zhaoge twitched his lips and thought to himself, “As if. How can someone possessing the Main Character halo die so easily?”
“After I enter the Sealing Dragon Abyss, you will be responsible for maintaining the link between us and the outside world. Thank you for your trouble; you might have to make rather many trips.”
The expedition proceeded along the path with the green smoke lanterns that led to the Sealing Dragon Abyss. Quickly, they reached the end of this path.
Yan Zhaoge stopped walking. He took out a special compass, which served to prevent disorientation and stabilize their path, as well as a green-coloured candle. After lighting the candle, he brandished it and walked into the heavy black mist. Everyone else performed the same action, carefully following behind Yan Zhaoge.
Leaving the lantern’s suppressive seal, the black mist of the surroundings immediately grew more violent and turbulent, like enormous raging waves charging at the group.
If not for Yan Zhaoge and Ah Hu shielding everyone from the front, the rest of the group would only be able to remain in this black mist for a short while even with their candles lit.
“As expected, the chaotic streams of baleful qi are much thicker, with the airflow far faster than before. There is clearly something causing this disturbance.” Yan Zhaoge’s eyes looked around as his gaze pierced through the heavy black mist.
With the field conditions such that a person would not be able to see his fingers even after having stretched out his hands, even Yan Zhaoge’s eyes could only see the objects nearby.
An indistinct red light quickly flashed past like lightning in the night. This type of phenomenon was something that not been seen in the Sealing Dragon Abyss prior to this.
Without needing Yan Zhaoge’s instructions, Ah Hu stretched out his hand and grabbed at the light.
When his hand returned, a piece of something red could be seen in his palm. In the dark, it faintly glowed as though it were alive, thrashing about continuously almost like it wanted to enter Ah Hu’s flesh.
“Something from the outside…” Yan Zhaoge said after shooting it a glance.
His eyes immediately narrowed into slits, “As I thought, this isn’t a natural anomaly, but, rather, something that’s caused by humans.”