“Hello, Young Daoist Meng,” the middle-aged man, who was Jingyuetian’s sect leader Yan Shunbei, said with a faint smile. “And welcome, Fellow Daoist Ji.”
“Greetings, Senior,” Meng Qi bowed respectfully and gave a polite greeting. She and Ji Wujiong were close in age, but the difference in their addresses was purely because of their level of cultivation. As a Void Comprehending cultivator, Ji Wujiong had already reached the height where age was no longer important — his strength spoke for himself.
“I’ve heard from the disciples about the feats the two of you performed in the Apricot Forest trial.” Yan Shunbei continued. He stood up and looked at Meng Qi with a gentle smile. “Particularly you, Young Daoist Meng… you’ve not only passed the trial but also gained the recognition and inheritance of the ancient great healer Lin Yan. Congratulations.”
“Thank you, Senior,” Meng Qi replied modestly. “I was merely lucky.”
“Lucky…” Yan Shunbei smiled again. “Among the countless cultivators in the Three Realms, each and every one must pass through layers upon layers of trials and tribulations in their pursuit of Dao. The higher one advances, the greater the challenges. One cannot pass them with luck alone. Young Daoist, there is no need for you to be overly modest.”
Seeing Yan Shunbei’s courteousness toward her, Meng Qi had a fairly good idea of his intention. In fact, there was no need for him to be so careful. After the sacrifice Jingyuetian’s young master had made for the sake of Three Thousand Worlds, Meng Qi would do all she could to cure him, regardless.
“If my son hadn’t been seriously injured, he would have been in the Apricot Forest as well and witnessed your success,” Yan Shunbei continued. His tone remained calm as he talked about his injured son, the talented young master of Jingyuetian, and he didn’t display any emotional fluctuations.
Meng Qi was a bit surprised by his straightforwardness.
“Since you’ve come to Jingyuetian, you must have come for my son, a friend of Lin Yan.”
Meng Qi hesitated to answer. There was little one could do when it came to the difference in cultivation base, and at her current level, she had no way of healing Jingyuetian’s young master. Despite being seriously injured and having his strength fall to the Qi Condensation stage, the young master was originally a powerful Void Comprehending cultivator. Someone who had just advanced to the Nascent Soul stage wouldn’t be able to restore his inner core, regardless of the level of her medical cultivation.
Just as she was about to explain, Ji Wujiong spoke up first. “Indeed, we have come for your son.”
Yan Shunbei smiled in response. “My son’s inner core has been damaged, and his current cultivation level is that of a Qi Condensation cultivator. To be honest, I am the sect leader of Jingyuetian, and I have some connections with the heads of other major medical sects. After my son’s injury, my old friends have visited many times to treat him, but…” Yan Shunbei’s gaze dimmed momentarily, but he quickly smiled again and looked at Meng Qi. “If you can heal him, a mere Comprehending Perfection cultivator like me will spare no effort to fulfill any request you have.”
It turned out he was a Comprehending Perfection cultivator, which explained why she couldn’t sense his aura. Meng Qi understood what he was getting at. Yan Shunbei undoubtedly hoped that she could heal his son. The young master was not only Yan Shunbei’s only son, but he was also a rare genius. Throughout the history of Three Thousand Worlds, only a handful of people had managed to reach the Void Comprehending stage in their twenties. Whether as a father or Jingyuetian’s head, Yan Shunbei would never want to see his son’s talent end here.
Yan Shunbei made it clear that he would do his best to repay Meng Qi should she succeed. However, that promise was only about Yan Shunbei as an individual and did not include Jingyuetian. Despite the gentle and courteous attitude he showed so far, he clearly was wary of them.
In the end, Meng Qi decided to remain silent. She had agreed to follow Ji Wujiong’s lead when they were in Jingyuetian, and she trusted him to handle the situation appropriately.
Sensing Meng Qi’s gaze, Ji Wujiong opened his mouth and said. “She’s only at the Nascent Soul stage, with fourth-rank medical cultivation. She can’t save your son.” His tone was nonchalant, and his expression casual. Rather than a powerful cultivator, he looked more like a lazy idler.
“…” Yan Shunbei remained silent.
Meng Qi also stayed quiet, curious about what Ji Wujiong would say next.
“Unless,” Ji Wujiong spoke slowly, emphasizing each word, “you let her ascend the Ten Absolutes Mountain.”
“Oh?” Yan Shunbei seemed unsurprised. He smiled faintly. “So, both of you came here for the Ten Absolutes Mountain.” He returned to his seat on the high platform, gazing calmly at the two people below. “Do you know that once you enter the Ten Absolutes Mountain, life and death are your own responsibility? I, the sect leader of Jingyuetian, won’t guarantee your safety. She’s just at the Nascent Soul stage, and her future is boundless. Are you truly willing to let her go?”
“No need to worry about that,” Ji Wujiong said lazily, grinning. “We have our ways.”
“Okay!” Yan Shunbei only hesitated for a moment before nodding. He sighed lightly. “The Ten Absolutes Mountain opens only once every ten years, and people often assume that Jingyuetian does not welcome outsiders’ participation. Little do they know, it’s not that I don’t welcome it, but my ‘not welcome’ is not the same as their ‘not welcome.'”
Yan Shunbei maintained his gentle demeanor and addressed Meng Qi, “Within the Ten Absolutes Mountain, there are no prohibitions on killing. Once you leave, all memories will be sealed, and no one will know what happened inside. Stronger cultivators can do things they wouldn’t dare in Three Thousand Worlds. Even if you die inside, no one will know who did it or what occurred before your death. This isn’t a game or a trial. Once you enter, there’s no way to stop until someone reaches the summit or the Ten Absolutes Mountain closes after forty-nine days. So…”
Yan Shunbei continued slowly, “It’s the cruelest and most unforgiving battlefield, a real purgatory on earth. Are you really willing to go?”
His tone remained as calm and gentle as when Meng Qi and Ji Wujiong had first arrived as if he were kindly advising younger generations.
But Meng Qi felt a chill run down her spine. She glanced at Ji Wujiong, hesitated. The Ten Absolutes Mountain, if she could reach the summit, would allow her to break through into the Spirit Severing stage in one jump. Even if she failed, simply surviving and advancing a few minor realms would be worth it.
However, as the Jingyuetian sect leader had described, the Ten Absolutes Mountain were the cruelest and coldest of battlefields. What if she couldn’t make it out alive? She wanted to live; there were still important tasks that she had to fulfill. This perilous place might be a true purgatory for a mere Nascent Soul cultivator like her. Once she stepped inside, who could guarantee that she would return alive?
As Meng Qi hesitated, the doors of the hall opened once more. A disciple of Jingyuetian entered and respectfully reported, “Excuse me, Sir. The new sect leader of Duankong Sect, Ling Ji, has arrived in person.”
“Oh?” Yan Shunbei’s expression remained calm. “Please invite them in.”
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