Li Rong's hasty exit surprised the three faction leaders, but there was nothing they could do about it. After they stayed behind to make a bit more small talk, Wang Aolin and Fang Suyu took their leave. The place was now left with only Mo Yuluo and Gu Suihan.
"You must keep your promise to not use any underhanded means." Mo Yuluo flicked her fingers slightly and threw a magic storage bag to Gu Suihan. She stared into Gu Suihan's eyes and said very seriously, "Otherwise, you won't be just offending the internal and external disciples anymore."
"I know what to do. I don't need you to teach me," he replied lazily. He caught the magic storage bag from her and leaped out of the window without even saying goodbye. He disappeared from her sight in no time.
"What an unexpected windfall." Gu Suihan smirked as he weighed the few thousand Spiritual Stones he had received.
Actually, he hadn't even planned to do anything before the selection day. But he could see where the faction leaders were coming from.
The sect had rules against killing another disciple without any good reason, but that didn't stop them from pulling other evil tricks that would incapacitate another person without killing them.
You could damage someone's dantian severely so that they wouldn't be able to cultivate for some time. You could snap someone's main tendons, or better still, just chop a limb off. That person would be disadvantaged for life.
There were other even more insidious methods. You could also slip aphrodisiacs into one's food the day before so that they would end up having way too much libido and feel unusually tired the next day.
The most formidable external disciples who did not have any powerful backers were Wang Xianxian, Feng Ran, and Gu Suihan. The rest of the external disciples were either completely hopeless, or the three factions had forced them to withdraw, threatened them, or bribed them into giving way to their disciples.
In any case, the three factions wanted to ensure that the 36 names were filled with mostly their people. As for the internal disciple duel round, their external disciples who made it could just choose to fight those internal disciples who were at Beginner Foundation Establishment and had very little money on themselves. Their external disciples could easily defeat such internal disciples with the use of spiritual weapons and magic weapons provided for by their faction.
But Gu Suihan had no idea why the three factions were so insistent on this arrangement. However, he could sense that there was some grander scheme behind this. Judging from their change in attitude as well as how the sect allowed them to just do as they liked, it was clear that even though the sect supposedly despised the external disciples, he was sure that all of this was happening only because the ones in power allowed it to.
Since the three factions had been implicitly given the go-ahead, there must be something that these leaders had to accomplish.
Unfortunately for them, Gu Suihan had turned up and ruined their plans. Not only had he and other formidable external disciples escaped death, even though the three leaders had been sure they would die, but Gu Suihan had also killed nearly 20 of their best newbies. That was nearly half the batch of newbies that made it to the East Compound.
He narrowed his eyes and leaned back in his chair as he tapped his finger rapidly against the armrest. "This internal selection is going to be chaos. I wonder what role the Peak Leaders play in all this."
For some reason, Gu Suihan suddenly thought about the question that Li Rong had asked him earlier and how he had hastily left with that angry and venomous look in his eyes.
"He wanted to know how to prevent someone from taking over his body? Who's trying to do that? Why would you not do anything to protest if you knew about it? You should be taking action and not just waiting to die."
Gu Suihan's eyes suddenly flew open and lit up. "The one who can take over Li Rong's body yet make him feel so much hatred must be someone he knows. Someone who's close to him, who is very powerful and can go against or ignore the sect rules. That's…"
Gu Suihan got up with a start and there was a smile in his eyes. But there were other questions left unanswered. Why did Li Rong want to get close to him in the first place? It definitely wasn't because it was fated, since that was simply a lousy excuse, and he didn't think it was because Li Rong really wanted to turn him into his personal jiangshi, even though Li Rong had claimed that was his reason.
A new idea popped up in Gu Suihan's head.
What if the person that Xiexin zhenren wanted to take over was himself?
If that was the case, then everything else would make sense. Back then, Xiexin zhenren must have somehow found out through divination that there was someone out there who had a high level of aptitude and fit all his requirements. His method of divination wasn't powerful enough, so he wasn't able to find out exactly who it was but he knew roughly where this person was, so he got Li Rong to look for this person within that area. Li Rong eventually discovered Gu Suihan and through several tests, found out that Gu Suihan was very likely to be the person whom Xiexin zhenren was looking for.
Li Rong was very happy to find Gu Suihan because Gu Suihan was more gifted than he was. If Xiexin zhenren chose to take over Gu Suihan's body instead, Li Rong would no longer be a candidate for his father. But surviving this ordeal wasn't enough, so he thought of something else. He could first make Gu Suihan a living corpse.
If he managed to have control over Gu Suihan without allowing his body to rot, then once Xiexin zhenren really took over Gu Suihan's body, Li Rong could trap Xiexin zhenren inside by turning Gu Suihan into his personal jiangshi. This personal jiangshi would not only be even more powerful because it carried the spiritual aspects of Xiexin zhenren's soul, but it would also eliminate the threat that had been looming over him all these years.
That's why Gu Suihan had received that pill that day when his maids helped to collect his monthly portion. It had come precisely when he was still recovering from severe injuries. If the three factions hadn't suddenly come up with a plan to send him and four others into the woods that night, Li Rong would probably have come for him. If Gu Suihan were an ordinary person, he would have been incapacitated by that pill and Li Rong would have easily turned him into a living corpse without anybody noticing anything.
Unfortunately for Li Rong, the plan to send them into the woods came at exactly the same time.
But now, Gu Suihan had admitted that he was actually someone more powerful who had taken over a weaker body. In that case, Xiexin zhenren would probably choose not to take over Gu Suihan anymore. The next best candidate was Li Rong, and that's why Li Rong looked so hateful.
Now that the three leaders knew that Gu Suihan was actually a transmigrated soul in a weaker body, they weren't going to keep it to themselves. They were definitely going to report it to their backers and Xiexin zhenren would eventually find out about it. That would explain Li Rong's expression when he left.
"Gosh! What a complicated plan!"
Gu Suihan's eyes reflected the stars in the sky as he sighed. He wasn't surprised that Li Rong and his father were essentially plotting to kill each other, but more surprised that he was really just very unlucky. This was a disaster that he hadn't caused, after all.
"If that's really what's happening, then based on Li Rong's personality, he won't give up." Gu Suihan fell into deep thought as he tried to predict what Li Rong would do next.
"He's most likely to try and push me into a direct conflict with Xiexin zhenren, sit back and watch us fight, then pick up the pieces after that. But if he wants to do that, he has to make that happen before the three leaders spread the word about me."
"Hoho!" Gu Suihan laughed as his eyes glinted brightly. "It will happen over the period before the internal disciple selection. If he's really going to do this, he will come looking for me soon."
He frowned as he realized he was going to have to prepare some things beforehand. There was no way he could fight with an Origin Core cultivator right now. He could not afford to use Suihan's soul for the time being because it was already very badly damaged and covered in cracks. If he did that, Suihan's soul would immediately fall apart.
The fact that he couldn't make use of this trump card of his really annoyed him. He had revealed his true identity as a transmigrated soul, so he was quite sure that the higher-ups in the sect would definitely take action. No matter whether their actions benefitted him or not, he had to find a way to make sure he could get out of this unscathed.
His expression was extremely serious now. More serious than it had ever been before.
"Father." Li Rong bowed deeply, then stood next to Xiexin zhenren with his head bowed.
Xiexin zhenren was still sitting by himself at the top of the peak. The cold winds felt like knives against one's skin. "How did it go?"
"Gu Suihan has increased in cultivation level too quickly ever since he joined the sect. It's as if he knew how to do all this already. After some questioning, I found out that he's actually a cultivator who took over another person's body and restarted his cultivation journey. If that's the case, then don't you think our plan is moving a little too slowly?"
"You're too impatient." Xiexin zhenren slowly poured some tea into a cup and gave it to Li Rong. "You shouldn't keep swinging between being close to him and being his enemy. Being so unpredictable will make him suspicious."
"Sorry, Father. I was wrong. What do I do next?"
"Give him some benefits. Give him whatever he's lacking in." Xiexin zhenren's expression remained calm, but there was a glint in his eye.
Li Rong was a little surprised as he asked, "But why? He's already suspicious of us, so if we give him more benefits, he would only become extra wary."
"That is correct." Xiexin zhenren narrowed his eyes. As he looked into the distance, his voice gradually became lower and lower. "That's exactly what I want. Since he already doesn't trust us, then we shall use benefits to tempt him. Li Rong, you must understand one thing. When a benefit is enough to tempt someone, that person would eventually become tempted and do something to get it. There are no exceptions."
Xiexin zhenren looked at Li Rong and said in a stern voice, "I will not forget how your mother died, and I hope you will not forget either. Your father doesn't have many more years to live and I've already spent nearly a hundred years preparing for this. Now, all the stars have aligned and Gu Suihan is an excellent pawn. I don't want anything to go wrong."
Li Rong shuddered, then nodded fiercely as his eyes reddened.
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