“Hmm…” Ling Ji lazily chuckled, his robe sleeve swaying. “Brother Yan, are you saying that Jingyuetian will intervene to guarantee the safety of the person my Duankong Sect is seeking?”
“It’s not Jingyuetian, it’s me,” Yan Shunbei’s tone remained calm. His demeanor appeared unchanged, and not even his gaze shifted, but there was a subtle shift in the atmosphere within the grand hall.
“I’ve known Brother Yan for seventy years, starting back when we were merely two Golden Core fledglings, and we’ve sparred more than any of us could count,” Ling Ji continued to smile. “Golden Core, Nascent Soul… back then, I was not your match, but after I reached the Spirit Severing stage and refined my natal sword, I have had no defeats.” He lazily looked at Yan Shunbei. “Now that both you and I have reached the Comprehending Perfection stage and haven’t had a chance to spar for many years, why don’t we give it a try today?”
Upon hearing this, Meng Qi took another step back. When two Comprehending Perfection powerhouses clashed, there was no room for others to intervene. Thankfully, they were right in the middle of Jingyuetian’s territory now. Even if Sect Leader Yan couldn’t match Ling Ji, there shouldn’t be any real danger. She quickly realized this and retreated a few more steps.
“Oh, well, let’s forget it.” Before Yan Shunbei could react, Ling Ji had lazily continued, “We’ve fought so many times before, it doesn’t seem very meaningful to fight again.” He raised an eyebrow, looking at Yan Shunbei. “Besides, I know you were injured in your earlier years. Although it may seem like you’ve fully recovered, it might have affected your foundation. I don’t want to win unfairly.”
“Then…” Ling Ji spoke slowly, “How about we try something different?” His tone was relaxed, indicating a close familiarity with Yan Shunbei.
“How do you suggest we proceed?” The other party also appeared well-used to the behavior of his old rival.
“This is my disciple, Qiao Ran,” Ling Ji suddenly patted the shoulder of the young man beside him. “Although he may not be as outstanding as your son, he’s diligent and has recently entered the Void Comprehending stage.”
Meng Qi glanced at the young man. He appeared to be around twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old, and it was surprising to learn that he was already a Void Comprehending cultivator. However, she knew that many talented individuals emerged from the major sects, so it wasn’t entirely unexpected.
“Greetings, Sect Leader Yan,” Qiao Ran quickly stepped forward and bowed politely.
Yan Shunbei nodded slightly but still didn’t grasp Ling Ji’s intentions.
“The Ten Absolutes Mountains are about to reopen, we might as well make a bet,” Ling Ji suggested with an air of nonchalance. He crossed his arms lazily, looking even more relaxed than before. He turned to give Meng Qi a fleeting glance before addressing Yan Shunbei again. “As per our agreement from years ago, this Ten Absolutes Mountains reopening occurs once every century. The top four sects can each send one representative, but only Void Comprehending cultivators are allowed.”
“That’s correct,” Yan Shunbei resumed his seat. With Ling Ji refrained from making a move against Meng Qi, his expression had once again become serene and he reverted to being a genial elder. Even when dealing with Ling Ji, who had shown up uninvited and initially seemed hostile, Yan Shunbei remained friendly. “So, you’re suggesting that you want to send your disciple as the representative for the Duankong Sect?”
“Yes,” Ling Ji confirmed.
“Alright,” Yan Shunbei nodded lightly. “Following tradition, each of the top ten sects in the four realms is allowed to select three disciples. They will then compete to determine the strongest disciple before entering the Ten Absolutes Mountains.”
“Now I have the final say in Duankong,” Ling Ji interjected, cutting off Yan Shunbei before the other could finish. He waved his hand dismissively, showing no concern. “Otherwise, what would be the point of me working so hard to seize the sect leader’s seat?”
Even Meng Qi couldn’t help but suppress a faint smile. This Sect Leader Ling Ji did indeed resemble Ji Wujiong in some ways.
As for Ling Ji’s disciple Qiao Ran, he lowered his head awkwardly, feeling somewhat uneasy about Yan Shunbei’s reaction. How could Master speak so openly about snatching the sect leader’s position in front of the leader of another sect?!
“Why are you laughing, young lady?” Ling Ji had sharp eyes and caught the brief smile that crossed Meng Qi’s face. “Do you think I shouldn’t have taken the position of the Duankong Sect Leader?”
“How you conduct yourself, Senior, is not my concern,” Meng Qi replied politely.
“Heh,” Ling Ji brushed his sleeve, not dwelling on it further. “You can send three representatives from the Jingyuetian. This young lady counts as one, so you can still send two more disciples. With your numbers, you have the advantage, but I can afford this little loss. So, let’s make a wager. After the Ten Absolutes Mountains close, we’ll see whose disciple climbs higher. How about it?”
“Agreed,” Yan Shunbei replied calmly.
“Then it’s settled. After the Ten Absolutes Mountains close, the one whose disciple climbs the highest wins,” Ling Ji declared. “The young lady here will belong to the winning side, and the other party shall not interfere.”
“Agreed,” Yan Shunbei nodded once more.
“Excuse me, Senior.” Meng Qi took a deep breath and suddenly asked, “What if I come out on top?”
“Hehe,” Ling Ji chuckled lightly, turning to look at Meng Qi, sizing her up several times from head to toe. “What’s this? The young lady wants to make a bet with me, too?”
“Both of you are betting on me. While I am willing to participate, it would be rather pitiful if I were only treated as a wager,” Meng Qi replied calmly, showing no fear as she locked eyes with Ling Ji. If the Duankong Sect were truly determined to trouble her, she wouldn’t be able to escape their pursuit, even with Ji Wujiong’s help. Ling Ji alone was more than enough to handle both of them, but fortunately, he didn’t seem intent on taking her life immediately. Since this was the case, she had a chance to take a gamble.
“Very well,” Ling Ji’s eyes twinkled with amusement, and he asked with interest, “What do you want to bet?”
“I hope that Senior and your sect won’t trouble me before I advance to the Void Comprehending stage,” Meng Qi said.
“Sure,” Ling Ji consented without hesitation.
His agreement came too swiftly, causing Meng Qi to feel a bit uneasy. The Duankong Sect had gone to such lengths to find her, with even the new sect leader personally involved. Why would they be so accommodating all of a sudden?
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