Chapter 21 - Conflict

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It was noon on a cloudless day.

The sleepy young man in charge of the Cultivating Rooms had fallen asleep at his station. But perhaps he had heard Gu Suihan’s heavy and tired footsteps, so he opened his bleary eyes and mumbled, “Oh, you’re exactly on time. Return the jade token to me.”

He took the jade token from Gu Suihan, then threw Gu Suihan’s disciple token back at him.

“Young Master, you’re back!” Taohua brightened up and quickly ran over to help carry the little bag that Gu Suihan was holding, then followed behind him and said, “You must be exhausted after cultivating for so long. I have prepared some warm water. Would you like to take a bath?”

“Yes,” replied Gu Suihan instinctively. He had already calmed back down.

Taohua stood by the bathtub and said, “Young Master, Li Xianlong came to the East Compound yesterday to officially challenge you to a duel. He wants you to go to the black fighting arena in the middle of the mountain in three days’ time.”

“The challenge invitation has arrived, huh.” Gu Suihan shut his eyes and tapped his finger slowly against the side of the tub. “What are the stakes?”

“It’s a mid-grade magic weapon, I think it’s a spear. He’s also thrown in 100 Spiritual Stones and three bottles of Core Refining Pills,” Lihua quickly replied as her eyes shone with envy. Spiritual Stones were worth at least a hundred pieces of gold after all.

“Taohua, go to the West Compound tomorrow and tell Li Xianlong that besides Spiritual Stones, I won’t accept anything else,” said Gu Suihan with a scoff after thinking about it for a moment.

“But Young Master, that’s a mid-grade magic weapon. Apparently, that spear has six magic formations inside it, as well as two attack spells,” protested Lihua as she blinked her large eyes.

“That’s exactly what Li Xianlong is trying to do.” Gu Suihan adjusted his position. “Some other person might be tempted by the mid-grade magic weapon since it sounds pretty promising. I suppose most would want the spells, but they don’t realize that spells require a lot of magic energy to execute. At this stage, disciples would always feel that they have insufficient magic energy. They’d wish they could break one point of energy into half and make them two points instead.”

He ate a grape that Taohua fed him and continued in a slightly garbled voice, “And when the spells fail, Li Xianlong would increase his chances of winning by at least 20%. He knows that I’m good at using anything with a blade, yet he wants to give me a spear. What a cautious man.”

“What are we going to do then?” Taohua began to panic.

To maidservants like Taohua and Lihua, once they completed their training, the next thing they hoped for was to get a good employer. Gu Suihan had been a fairly good employer so far. He hardly enforced any rules on them, never shouted at them and while he teased them from time to time, he never went too far.

All of this made the two frightened, unsure maids feel that Gu Suihan was actually one of the nicest people in the world.

But at the same time, if anything untoward happened to Gu Suihan, then the best-case scenario would be that they would be allowed to return to their families. However, if an enemy decided to seize this chance to take revenge, the two girls wouldn’t be able to defend themselves at all. They would be at the mercy of others.

“Don’t worry.” Gu Suihan casually patted Taohua’s delicate hand and said flatly, “I’ve even dared to offend the Way Seekers Alliance, so why should I be afraid of one Li Xianlong? Psh.”

“Young Master, you’ve offended the Way Seekers Alliance?” Lihua paled instantly.

“Yes.” Gu Suihan nodded nonchalantly and said, “You don’t have to worry. If I didn’t say so, you wouldn’t have known either because nothing bad has happened, isn’t it? It’s fine.”

“I believe in you, Young Master.” Taohua raised her fair little face and nodded vigorously as she looked admiringly at Gu Suihan.

At night, Gu Suihan quietly got out of bed. He glanced emotionlessly at the maids sleeping soundly in the next room and a disdainful smile spread across his lips.

He leaped out of the window and ran swiftly but silently to the West Compound.

Once he got there, he located the residence he was looking for and sniggered to himself as he stood in front of the door.

He didn’t bother concealing himself in any way and pushed the wooden door open.

The creaking of the door was especially loud in the middle of the quiet night.

“Who is it?” hissed the person who was supposed to be asleep in the room. At the same time, a gleam shone brightly as it made its way towards Gu Suihan’s face.

“You’re Li Xianlong?” Gu Suihan’s voice was so clear and calm, he didn’t sound like someone who was getting attacked.

Another gleam lit up the room as Gu Suihan’s blade met with Li Xianlong’s, creating a clanging noise.

With the help of the moonlight, Li Xianlong finally realized who was in his room and exclaimed, “You…you’re Gu Suihan?”

“Hoho.” Gu Suihan kept his sword away and sat down slowly at the table in the room. “Brother Li, relax. Why don’t you take a seat? Let’s have a chat.”

“Alright.” Li Xianlong’s expression was solemn and was rather surprised at how calm Gu Suihan was, but Li Xianlong didn’t panic. Instead, he sat down confidently across from Gu Suihan, stared at his visitor for a while, then lit a candle and waited for Gu Suihan to state his business.

Both parties were silent for a long time.

It was as if they were using the flickering of the candlelight to observe each other and predict what the other was thinking about.

After some time, Gu Suihan leisurely poured himself a cup of tea that had already gone cold and said flatly, “If my guess is correct, someone came to look for you before this.”

“People come in and out of the West Compound every day. I’m not sure exactly which person you’re referring to,” said Li Xianlong in a low voice as he raised an eyebrow.

“I’m talking about…” Gu Suihan suddenly leaned forward and whispered, “a person who wants me dead.”

“I have no idea who you are talking about.” Li Xianlong remained tight-lipped.

“What do you think of the duel we’re going to have in a few days?” Gu Suihan switched the topic and didn’t pursue the question further.

Li Xianlong’s expression finally shifted slightly. He went into deep thought for a moment, then said, “I was 80% confident, but now, I’m only 70% confident.” After the exchange earlier, he looked at Gu Suihan in a slightly different light. Gu Suihan had used a thin sword to block the attack from his heavy sword, yet Gu Suihan blocked it with such ease and the impact had pushed Li Xianlong back. Gu Suihan didn’t even look like he had used any effort. As a result, Li Xianlong thought a little more highly of Gu Suihan now. Just a little.

“Then…what about now?” Gu Suihan’s eyes suddenly gleamed as he scanned Li Xianlong.

Li Xianlong was instantly taken aback. He felt all his hair stand on end and felt as though Gu Suihan could see right through him. His first reaction was to place his heavy sword in front of him to protect himself.

“You’ve actually awakened your Qi absorption abilities.” When Li Xianlong finally realized what just happened, he was even more flabbergasted.

“You possess a high level of aptitude, but you’ve only been here for less than three months. Where did you get so many Spiritual Stones from?” Li Xianlong slowly put his weapon down, sat up straight again, and accepted the cold tea that Gu Suihan offered him.

Gu Suihan just smiled and didn’t say anything.

“I came back a few days ago to find that my older brother had died. The Way Seekers Alliance said that you might have killed him.” Li Xianlong decided to come clean.

“I’m very curious. You know that this is not possible. So why are you still doing this?” asked Gu Suihan quietly.

After a moment of silence, Li Xianlong murmured, “I need closure with this case so that I can be accountable to the family.”

“How much?” Gu Suihan suddenly asked from nowhere.

“200 Spiritual…” Li Xianlong blurted out a response halfway and suddenly realized what was happening and stopped himself quickly. He spat, “You tricked me.”

At the same time, he was really astonished at how sensitive Gu Suihan was. It only took such a short exchange for the latter to guess that the Way Seekers Alliance was involved in this. Gu Suihan was more intelligent than most, so he quickly realized that he wasn’t as confident in winning over Gu Suihan as before.

But actually, Gu Suihan was also marveling at how quickly Li Xianlong had reacted. Gu Suihan had secretly used a spell on Li Xianlong just now. Any ordinary person affected by this spell would become terrified and spill the beans on anything he asked. But Li Xianlong was more aware of such things than Gu Suihan had expected, so his plan had failed. At the same time, Li Xianlong had let slip enough for him to confirm his guess about the Way Seekers Alliance’s involvement.

“Brother Li, it seems like you’re not very well versed in obscure magic techniques,” said Gu Suihan with a smile.

“And so what?” said Li Xianlong sullenly.

“So…I wonder which senior helped to search the memories of Li Xianming’s soul for you.”

“Are you saying that…” Li Xianlong was about to fly into a rage when his eyes flickered and he slammed the table. “Do you mean that the Way Seekers Alliance is behind this? How are you so sure? Are you trying to push the blame to someone else?” His words were nasty and sounded like he was pushing Gu Suihan into a corner, but he was already beginning to believe Gu Suihan’s side of the story.

“I’ve only just joined the Seven Kill Sect, and that’s the only enemy I have here.” Gu Suihan looked down at his teacup.

“But if my older brother managed to look me up, I would have taught you a lesson anyway. Why would they want to kill you?”

Gu Suihan looked up at Li Xianlong’s murderous stare and said flatly, “If your older brother had told you to teach me a lesson, that’s all you would have done. You wouldn’t have tried to kill me either. I possess a high level of aptitude and I stand a chance of reaching the Origin Core Stage. Nobody would want to offend such a person for no good reason.”

“No, wait, there’s another problem.” Li Xianlong shook his head and said, “If the Way Seekers Alliance wanted you dead, they could have bribed someone else from the West Compound. There are others who are stronger than I am. Why would they want me to do this?”

“Because you’re the only one who would go all out to do it. Li Xianming is the son of the official wife. You’re the son of the concubine. That’s why.”

“Why are you here then? Are you here to beg me for mercy?” Li Xianlong glared furiously at Gu Suihan’s mocking smile and yelled, “It’s too late!”

Gu Suihan merely gave Li Xianlong a withering look and got up. “I’m just here to tell you that even if you do end up killing me, you’re still going to die. Besides, do you even have any confidence that you can kill me? Hahaha!”

His laughter was calm and controlled, but the sound of it still struck terror in Li Xianlong’s heart.

He gripped his sword tightly and thought of brandishing it several times. But each time, he would realize how lacking he was and decide against it. He watched as Gu Suihan walked out of the room and didn’t say anything.

As he watched Gu Suihan’s smile fade as he walked away, a voice suddenly seemed to say to him, “And now, how confident are you?”

Three days after Gu Suihan paid Li Xianlong a visit.

It was the day of the fight. Somehow or another, the entire mountain of external disciples had found out about the fight.

The story about how Gu Suihan had planned the murder of Li Xianming quickly went from rumor to truth. Before he knew it, Gu Suihan had already become known as a very scheming and vicious young man.

Of course, this was the Way Seekers Alliance’s way of taking revenge. As the rumors spread, it also resulted in making everyone ostracize Gu Suihan. Everyone either chose to stay far away from Gu Suihan or would remain on high alert if they had to be around him.

Unlike how Gu Suihan took his time with everything, Li Xianlong arrived at the Black Arena very early. He closed his eyes and held his sword up without moving at all, like a large spear that could pierce the skies.

“It’s already past 11 am. Why isn’t Gu Suihan here yet?” The crowd waiting to watch the duel started whispering among themselves.

Nasty opinions and doubtful voices arose from the crowd from time to time. Those were obviously people planted by the Way Seekers Alliance to stir up trouble.

“I think that Gu Suihan has gotten scared. His Spiritual Root is considered a really good one, but he hasn’t had that much time to cultivate, so he can’t possibly be a match for Li Xianlong,” said one of them loudly.

“But he HAS to come, right? If he doesn’t come, he will automatically be considered the loser and will be transferred down to the West Compound. I don’t think he’d be able to accept that,” someone else disagreed.

“What do you know?” The first person scoffed and said, “Even if he comes for the duel, will he be able to win? If he doesn’t come, at least he’d keep his life. If he comes, he’s dead meat.”

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