Chapter 9 - Sheer Audacity

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There were a few reasons why Disciplinarian Zhang was unhappy. It wasn’t so much because Nan Xingyuan had accused Gu Suihan of cheating, but that an ordinary young woman had spoken up so loudly and angrily in front of cultivators. That alone was very rude of her.

But the bigger reason why he was unhappy was that by claiming that Gu Suihan had cheated, that was saying that he, as the creator of the secret realm, had failed in his job.

If not for the fact that she was the daughter of the city castellan, he would have killed her with one slap. He wouldn’t bother wasting time on her.

One is usually the boldest when young. Nan Xingyuan got excited that Disciplinarian Zhang was willing to listen to her and completely ignored her father’s warning look as she quickly replied, “All of us are hurt or suffered some damage in one way or another, but he’s come out completely unscathed. That doesn’t make sense.”

“Perhaps he is well versed in martial arts?” Disciplinarian Zhang’s voice sounded unfriendly now and the smile on his face had disappeared.

“And why didn’t we see him when we went through the first two rounds? Is this fellow…”

Before she could finish her sentence, Nan Yuntian shouted, “Enough! Yuan’er, you’re being very rude! Apologize to Disciplinarian Zhang right now!”

“No! I refuse!” Nan Xingyuan became even more indignant as she continued in a loud voice, “I know this fellow. He’s the third son of the city’s rice seller, Mr. Gu. He’s reeked of herbs and medicine since he was a child, so everyone knows this fellow has a weak body and falls ill all the time. Plus, he coops himself up at home and never goes out. How could he be well versed in martial arts? Also, as far as I’ve heard, this fellow suddenly left the Gu family a few days ago and even severed ties with the entire clan. He’s even wiped his name out from the family genealogy.”

After that, Nan Xingyuan marched over to Gu Suihan and stood arrogantly in front of him as she scoffed. “On top of all that, I heard he gave his family a few thousand gold pieces before leaving, and nobody knows where that money is from. I suspect that he has something to do with the ship that was ferrying our taxes to the government a few years back that got robbed.”

“Are you done talking?” asked Disciplinarian Zhang emotionlessly. His expression was frosty.

Nan Xingyuan finally realized that Disciplinarian Zhang’s attitude towards her wasn’t quite what she expected, and she answered a little fearfully, “Yes, I’m done.”

“Would you like to defend yourself?” Disciplinarian Zhang turned to ask Gu Suihan.

“No. She suspects that I bought my way in, so you can just test me again and we’ll know if I did that or not. As for the ship robbery, how could you say such things without any evidence? You don’t even know for sure if I really gave the Gu family those gold pieces.” Gu Suihan’s expression remained calm, but there was a mocking in his eyes as he glanced at Nan Xingyuan.

“Ho! What confidence you have! I have a witness who can testify that the gold was indeed found in your room. I’ll call him over if you don’t believe me,” said Nan Xingyuan as she narrowed her eyes and smiled frostily at him.

“Just like how we need to eat our rice mouthful by mouthful, we should settle one matter at a time.” Nan Yuntian felt a little more assured when he saw how confidently his daughter was accusing Gu Suihan. If she was this confident, then she probably wasn’t too far from the truth.

Arresting Gu Suihan and finding the missing gold from that ship would earn him a lot of credit. Nan Yuntian was very tempted by that thought, so he said, “Let’s see how gifted he is first.” In his mind, Gu Suihan might be well versed in martial arts, but he might not really have the aptitude for it. There was no other reason why he would have bought his way through the first two rounds. As for why Gu Suihan still looked so calm, Nan Yuntian just assumed that Gu Suihan was putting on a strong front.

“I’ll have to trouble you, Elder,” Nan Yuntian said to an old man from Falling Star Sect with a nod.

The old man shrugged, glanced at Nan Yuntian a little sympathetically, then pulled out his Spiritual Compass and walked towards Gu Suihan.

Nan Yuntian was a little confused as to why the old man had looked at him like that. He had no idea that Gu Suihan already had his Spiritual Root tested before all the representatives from the various sects, including this particular elder. And worse still, Gu Suihan’s Spiritual Root had turned out to be much better than Nan Xingyuan’s.

“Hello, young man. I hope you don’t mind going through the test again,” said the Falling Star Sect Elder to Gu Suihan with a hearty laugh.

“Of course not. I’m sorry that I have to trouble you again,” said Gu Suihan with a smile. But he didn’t look apologetic about it at all.

The old man pressed his fingers together and filled the Spiritual Compass with Qi, which made the Spiritual Compass float in the air. The old man then used his other hand to gently brush past Gu Suihan’s back, then pinched something and placed it on the floating Spiritual Compass.

A blinding flash of gold instantly shot out from the Spiritual Compass. One section of the Compass was divided into the five elements, and the part that represented the gold element sparkled very brightly. The rim of the Compass had several slots to indicate the level of aptitude and the first five slots were filled up very quickly. It slowed down after that, but everyone could still see that the next one was being filled up, and then the next. It finally stopped at the eighth slot and the whirring sound of the Compass slowly became softer and softer.

“Ooh…” Many people in the crowd gasped.

It was clear that Gu Suihan was very gifted. The maximum was nine slots, and every three slots was a separate classification. Gu Suihan was an Eight Gold. One could even call him a genius.

Nan Xingyuan was also considered a genius at Seven Fire. Gu Suihan was only one slot higher than her, but the difference was significant.

“He might be gifted, but it’s too bad that his morals are poor, and his character is questionable. How could such a person become a cultivator? Are all cultivators like him?” Nan Xingyuan was a little embarrassed that Gu Suihan had turned out to be gifted, but she still tried her best to stand her ground.

But once she said that many of the cultivators who weren’t concerned with this matter at all started to look a little upset. Nan Xingyuan’s words were too much of a sweeping statement. Even though the world of cultivators often said that they believed in the survival of the fittest and didn’t care for the weak, the reality was that these same cultivators also paid a lot of attention to how ordinary people viewed them.

For example, the Seven Kill Sect was actually a sect that practiced dark arts, but ordinary people viewed the sect as an even more upright and just sect than the Vast Sky Sect, which was a sect that valued good morals and proper techniques in their cultivation.

“Humph! How dare this young woman spout such audacious words,” said a middle-aged cultivator from Vast Sky Sect flatly as he narrowed his eyes at Nan Xingyuan. A young cultivator standing next to him suddenly whispered into the older man’s ears and the older man’s furrowed brows relaxed. Then he declared, “But she’s right. The Vast Sky Sect will not take in such a person.”

Gu Suihan had noticed their interaction. In fact, that young cultivator was the same one he ran into at the restaurant that day who argued with Li Rong. This fellow had probably gone to investigate Gu Suihan and was now trying to trip Gu Suihan over.

“Sir, this is the gold that was found in Gu Suihan’s room.” Several city guards walked in with a number of large copper chests, which clinked loudly as the chests swung in tempo with the guards’ footsteps.

Gu Suihan’s expression shifted a little, not because he was guilty and afraid, but because he was getting angry. He finally understood why Nan Xingyuan was suddenly trying to make things difficult for him for no reason and why the gold had been brought in at such impeccable timing.

“Excellent. A job well done, all of you.” Gu Suihan’s expression slowly calmed back down again. He looked down so that his eyelids would cover the frosty and murderous look he had in his eyes.

Nan Xingyuan had spotted the change in Gu Suihan’s expression earlier, so she scoffed smugly, “I’ve got both the criminal AND the loot here. Do you have anything else to say for yourself?”

“So, what if I did it? And so, what if I didn’t?” Gu Suihan looked up and gave her a nonchalant smile.

“Humph! If you did it, then you can forget about becoming a cultivator! You’ll just go straight to jail!” Nan Xingyuan stared at his smile and continued in a gleeful tone, “And so what if you didn’t do it? That’s impossible. I’ve even got a witness here. Why do you want to see him?”

“No need.” Gu Suihan shook his head and said calmly, “I admit that I did it. But so what? Don’t forget, my Spiritual Root is better than yours, so there will be sects that would want to take me in.” Gu Suihan raised his chin. “Besides, by doing this, you’re actually bringing harm to the city castellan.” His last sentence was filled with mocking. That tone and that unbothered smile on his face could really piss someone off.

“Haha! Young man, do you really think that’s how the court works here?” Nan Yuntian let out a hearty laugh. “Do you really think that this entire world belongs to cultivators?” His laughter was filled with glee.

But of course it was. He had been stuck in this awful city for years, and now, he had finally found a way to get a promotion. Of course he was happy.

“Does the court have the power to strike fear in the hearts of cultivators?” This time, Gu Suihan was really puzzled. He had always thought that cultivators were the leaders of this world. But according to what Nan Yuntian said, there was something greater than the cultivators. Was there some other power that he didn’t know about?

“A demon tribe? The celestial palace? Or something else?” muttered Gu Suihan to himself as he narrowed his eyes at Nan Yuntian.

“Why do you want to know?” Nan Yuntian noticed Gu Suihan’s puzzled expression and laughed. “There’s more than just Qi in this world. There’s also faith, destiny and karma. These are things you will never understand.”

“For us who cultivate in the Truth, we focus on cultivating the heart and mind. If our heart and mind become damaged, then all the cultivation we’ve done before will be destroyed overnight,” Li Rong whispered into Gu Suihan’s ear. “But there are some cultivators who believe that strengthening themselves and becoming capable of things beyond what is humanly possible is the way to surpass oneself. Most of such cultivators focus on cultivating their physical bodies.”

“Isn’t that just physical cultivation?” Gu Suihan still didn’t understand. There weren’t a lot of cultivators that focused on cultivating their physical bodies, but there were still quite a number of them.

Li Rong’s gaze became a little shifty upon hearing Gu Suihan’s question, then he continued, “It’s not the same as physical cultivation. After physical cultivation, your body might be strong enough to hold up against magic weapons and spiritual weapons, but those at high levels of physical cultivation will still have to end up focusing on the cultivation of their souls.”

When he got to this point, Li Rong seemed to have thought of something and suddenly shuddered. There was a look of disgust in his eyes as he said, “Nan Yuntian is referring to the type of physical cultivator who doesn’t mind cultivating their own soul into their bodies to become one. And by doing this, one would need to consume a large number of precious treasures and resources, and even snatch Qi from others to maintain their bodies. And when they finally reach the stage that is almost equivalent to our Origin Core stage, they would also need countless amounts of Vow Power1 to feed their bodies. Most of the time, such cultivators end up with a lot of bad karma. They might be successful in their cultivation, but it is at the expense of the fortunes of countless others. He will be invincible amongst others who are at the same level as he is, but they will need to consume a lot of things. Their biggest weakness is their lifespan.”

The Clacker’s Temple Trinkets

Today’s snack recommendation: Kappa Ebisen Another Calbee favorite. There’s a less salt version, BUT WHY WOULD YOU DO SUCH A THING. MSG: *****

  1. Vow Power. In Buddhism, avedha-vasa literally means Power of a Vow. So, you’ve made a vow/promise/wish and now you’re going to fulfil it. That motivation and determination to do everything it takes to fulfil it is Vow Power. ↩️

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