When Yi Ping regained his consciousness, he found himself in what seemed to be a dimly lit cave. His first thoughts were that he had already died and he was in hell. But when he saw that his wounds had already been dressed and that he was aching painfully, he knew that somehow he was still alive.
That was because a dead man would never feel pain.
Then he noticed there was a small bonfire in the cave which kept the cave warm.
He tried to sit up and that took all his efforts. As he looked in front of him, all of a sudden, he saw the young and extremely beautiful maiden that he had seen earlier. She appeared to be mediating but before he could say anything, the maiden moved her small alluring lips and spoke, "You should rest more. Your wounds are extremely severe and you may lose your life because of that."
Yi Ping stared at her dreamily. He could not imagine it was real!
The alluring maiden soon flushed deeply as she interrupted gently, "Why are you staring at me? Don't you know that is a rude gesture to stare? And who are you?"
Yi Ping was snapped of his trance and he quickly bowed with his hands, "Maiden, I thank you for saving my life from The Three Evils! I, Yi Ping am in your debts! May I know my benefactor name?"
The alluring young maiden said coolly, "They are not the Three Evils of the West. They are imposters and their martial skills are mediocre. Or else even with your Icy Heavenly Tears Energy protecting you, you will still die."
Yi Ping was bewildered and asked, "What Icy Heavenly Tears Energy?"
The alluring young maiden was silence for some time before she said, "You can call me Maiden Xian. Let me ask you. Who is your protégé master? Why did you come to the Heavenly Mountains?"
Yi Ping replied, "I have no protégé master. All my skills are self-taught…"
Maiden Xian opened her eyes and interrupted angrily, "Nonsense! I have examined your pulses earlier and your pulses emitted the Icy Heavenly Tears Energy Pulses. That is what is protecting your heart from harm. Or else even if you have ten lives, you still will not survive!"
Yi Ping was astonished and puzzled, "Maiden…this is the first time that I have heard of that name…"
Maiden Xian looked intently at him for a few moments before she said, "Do you know Shui Yichi?"
Yi Ping said, "Maiden, I do not want to lie to you. She is my late mother!"
Maiden Xian was momentarily stunned as she was heard saying in a low voice, "She is no longer in this world?" She seemed to be shaken by the news before she asked, "How long was that?"
Yi Ping was curious as he said, "She passed away when I was little…" His eyes were teething with tears as he recalled his sad childhood. "Maiden Xian, you know my late mother?"
Then he paused and almost punched himself. How could she possible know his late mother? She looked younger than twenty. Even he himself, was older than her!
Just as he was recovering from his foolhardy words, she gave him another shocker.
"Indeed! She was my protégé sister. She left the Eternal Ice Palace twenty-years ago because of one man. She must have imparted all her martial energy to you…that explains why I can find our sect intricate energy in your body meridians…"
Just as he wanted to ask her who she really was, a wicked laughter filled the cave; a large bulky man with red beard had just barged into sight.
The red beard man laughed, "If it isn't for this bonfire here, I would never find this place! What have we here? A couple?"
Maiden Xian said, "He is Huo Fu the Flaming Fist, the sect leader of the Fire Tablet Sect. He must be here to look for an opportunity to loot the Eternal Ice Palace."
The red beard man laughed, "I didn't know I am so famous that even junior pugilists can identify me. Don't we all have the same motives? I am getting cold and this fire is just nice!" But all of a sudden, he took a second look at the dress of Maiden Xian and said, "You are from the Eternal Ice Palace?"
Maiden Xian looked at him hatefully and replied coldly, "That's right!"
Huo Fu laughed, "Good, good! You have two options. Either you show me the way to the Eternal Ice Palace or be subjected to my merciless torture. I can assure you that I won't let you die so easily." He took a deep breath before laughing out again, "After all, I can see that you are a rare beauty and I won't let you die so easily."
Yi Ping was shocked as he stood up, "The Fire Tablet Sect may not be an orthodox clan but they do have some repute in the martial fraternity. How can you say such a thing?"
Huo Fu had a wicked smile on his face, "Who do not covet after the martial secrets of the Eternal Ice Palace? Now that the Celestial Fairy had passed away, countless legions of pugilists have already been making their way here. Among them, are several supposedly heroes from the orthodox clans. Naturally, they did not dare to use their real names. Some did not even dare to travel boldly and travel under a disguise for they are men of high repute in the fraternity! When it is time for them to strike, they will make all sorts of excuses like passing by and claiming that they are righting the wrongdoings of evil men!"
Yi Ping hummed coldly.
Huo Fu looked at him, sensing his hostilities. "I thought you are on my side. The Eternal Ice Palace is a forbidden ground for men. Surely, you can't be from the Eternal Ice Palace too?"
Then Huo Fu clapped his right fist on his left palm as he said, "The intrigue of the martial fraternity is not to be underestimate!"
He pointed his finger at Yi Ping and said, "You must be trying to seduce this young maiden here and almost on the verge of succeeding. You are trying to be the first to sneak into the Eternal Ice Palace, am I right?"
Yi Ping was speechless. He replied coldly, "Senior, you think too much!"
Maiden Xian looked away. Her cheeks were momentarily flushed from his audacity.
Huo Fu laughed, "The young uses their wits while the old uses their strength!"
Yi Ping was indignant and he raised both his palms to attack Huo Fu, "Senior, be prepared for my attack!"
Huo Fu suddenly smiled as he raised both his palms and there was a thunderous clap when both palms impacted together. Yi Ping was thrown off and sent flying backward, knocking against the wall of the cave and crushing into it!
Maiden Xian got up as she cried out, "Hold!"
But it was too late! It happened too fast! She could see that this Huo Fu was an experienced exponent. He had purposely provoked Yi Ping into attacking him so that he could see what stance his opponent would use. As Yi Ping was with her, and was still wary of the martial of the Eternal Ice Palace therefore he had used a ruse.
Huo Fu laughed, "Such simpleton! I was expecting some forms of secret projectiles. Despite knowing that I am the sect leader of the Fire Tablet Sect, he still dares to receive my Fiery Palms. When he attacks me, I already know the depth of his martial strength!"
He looked intently at Maiden Xian, "You seem to be smarter than him but unfortunately, your reaction is too slow. That speaks volumes of our martial strength differences. If your martial skill is to be on par with me, you will be able to intercept him."
This Huo Fu, even though he was big and bulky, seemed to be clumsy and slow wit but he was actually a cunning and experienced exponent! If he was not, how will he be able to survive in the treacherous martial fraternity? He would have died a hundred times over!
Maiden Xian had no choice but to nod slowly. Even though she looked composed, she was extremely upset now.
Huo Fu laughed aloud, "Now maiden, will you choose to tell me the location of the Eternal Ice Palace on your own accord or will you choose to die a slow death?"
Maiden Xian full name was Shui Yixian. Shui Yixian was none other than the Celestial Fairy and the sectarian leader of the Eternal Ice Palace.
But why was she here? She was supposed to have passed away already? Was she not a ninety- year old woman?
The Icy Heavenly Tears Divine Skill was a secret martial skill of the Eternal Ice Palace. When the practitioner reached the ninth and the last stage, they would cease to age. Unfortunately, every thirty-six years after reaching the last stage, the practitioner martial power would be lost for thirty-six days. In order to regain the lost martial power, the practitioner would have to relearn the intricate formula of the Icy Heavenly Tears again.
She had attained the ninth stage of the Icy Heavenly Tears when she was eighteen years old. That was why she had ceased aging and looked like eighteen! She was considered a martial prodigy. For hundreds of years, none of the past practitioners had ever reached the ninth stage of the Icy Heavenly Tears before they were fifty and half of them did not even reach the seventh stage of the divine skill. Even her martial protégé mistress attained the ninth stage of the Icy Heavenly Tears when she was only fifty-five.
There were only two exceptions. One was her and the other was her oldest protégé sister.
Her protégé mistress had two other direct protégés. She was in fact the youngest. The oldest protégé sister was Shui Yichi and her second protégé sister was Shui Yisi. Shui Yichi was also a martial prodigy. She had attained the ninth stage of the Icy Heaven Tears when she was thirty. At that time, she was only fourteen year old and had looked up to her.
Even though they all shared the same surname of Shui, they were not related for they were orphans who did not even know who their parents were. It was customary for the direct protégé disciples of the Eternal Ice Palace to use the clan surname of Shui.
But when she had attained the ninth stage of the Icy Heavenly Tears through sheer hard work and self-cultivation, her second protégé sister was envious and she began to plot against her protégé mistress and her eldest protégé sister. Fortunately, her plot was discovered by her protégé mistress. Her second protégé sister had her martial skills disabled and was driven out of the Eternal Ice Palace!
So this powerful enemy of hers knew that she would lose all her martial power during this period. Who else but her second protégé sister knew the timing of her martial weakness? Who else but her would spread rumors of her death and stirred up the passions of the pugilists in the fraternity of the glorious martial secrets of the Eternal Ice Palace?
Fearing for her life and in need of a secular place to regain her lost martial power, she picked a cave away from the Eternal Ice Palace to meditate as the location of the Eternal Ice Palace was known to her nemesis. In turn, she left the Eternal Ice Palace to her two protégé disciples, Beautiful Sword Fairy Shui Meijian and Jade Sword Fairy Shui Yujian to be in charge.
Unfortunately, her two young protégé disciples were not as highly gifted in martial skills. She was hoping that nothing would go wrong till she returned. But she knew that even if she returned, she would still have to battle countless number of pugilists who would not give up at this point.
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The throngs of pugilists that seek to traverse the Heavenly Mountains did not know the exact location of the Eternal Ice Palace therefore they were randomly combing the mountains for clues and a route up to the mysterious Heavenly Mountains. Unfortunately, one group of pugilists found her and she was forced to flee. And that was when she had first encountered Yi Ping.
She had only ten days more before she could fully regain her martial power but that day would not come. While Huo Fu was talking to her, she had already forcefully started to channel all her internal energies into her fingers. In this way, she would temporary regain half of her martial power but afterwards, she would surely die from the forceful exertion!
And she was already preparing to die!
When Huo Fu had just stopped speaking, she had attacked him with both her fingers! Her speed and the windforce that accompanied her fingers thoroughly caught Huo Fu by surprise as he quickly raised his Fiery Palms in retaliation!
There was a huge thunderclap sound as Maiden Xian's fingers impacted upon Huo Fu's palms.
Huo Fu could not believe his eyes as his large bulky body was sent flying backward and out of the cave! He simply could not believe that this young maiden here could be capable of such tremendous force!
Maiden Xian coughed out blood but her focus was still on her enemy. She staggered out of the cave to look for Huo Fu. But he had already escaped very far. She could see his large and bulky figure in the distance as he ran in a stagger manner; for he had been badly injured.
It was said that the swiftness movement skill of the Fire Tablet Sect, the Fiery Chaser was one of the epitome movement skills of the martial fraternity. Its claim was definitely not a boast. If Huo Fu was not injured, she might not even caught sight of him given the head start that he had.
As she had no strength left to pursue him therefore she returned to the cave.
She was now staggering. She had forcefully gathered her internal energy and expended her vital force. Voided of internal energy, it was only a matter of time before she died!
Her eyes were one of sorrows. She cared not that she died. But if she died, the lives of more than a hundred protégés of the Eternal Ice Palace would perish as well! Why was fate so cruel to her?
She staggered to the collapsed wall which Yi Ping had fallen.
When she had reached him, he was convulsing with blood in his mouth. She straightened him and put her palm onto the back of his head. She started to use the last of her vital energies in an attempt to clear his injured channels of any blood clogs.
Even though Yi Ping was severely injured and in a daze, he could see that this young maiden had sustained internal injuries and from the looks of it, her condition was gravely critical. She was very pale now. If she attempted to treat his internal injuries now, she would surely lose her life!
And that was something that Yi Ping did not want to see!
Looking at her, he had forgotten about Huo Fu. He could only remember after he got hit, he had lost consciousness for a while. When he regained his conscious, she was beside him.
Yi Ping said weakly, "Maiden, don't expend your vital energies for me. It is futile. You and I are both dying. I don't wish to see you die before me! Even if you expend all your vital energies for me, my injuries are really far too severe."
Maiden Xian said gently as she looked curiously at him, "If it weren't for me, you will not get yourself injured and be in such a sorry state. Even if you cannot be saved, let fate decide alright? As for me, I am already dying. Nothing in this world can save me now. As for you, young hero, you still have a chance to live. So, don't let it gone to waste…"
Yi Ping was shaking all over and his eyes were in tears, "I don't want you to die! Why should a kind maiden like you die while I live? I don't want to live if you died!"
Shui Yixian's tears flowed down her cheeks as she smiled weakly, "Silly boy! You sound as though we are a…" Her cheeks began to redden for a quick moment as she added, "couple."
She added quickly, "If you only know how old I am, you will not want me. Moreover, the only reason why I am saving you is because you are the son of my eldest protégé sister…."
Yi Ping turned and looked at her gently, "You are you. I like you when I first look at you."
That came from the bottom of his heart and was his honest thoughts.
When a person was dying and in a daze, they tended to speak only the truths. At this moment, Yi Ping had already casted away the painful severity of his injuries and was speaking from the bottom of his heart.
Shui Yixian looked at his eyes with a thousand affections. She burst into tears again as she cried, "Yi Ping…" All of a sudden, she began to cast away her iron shell, forgetting that she was the sect leader of the renowned Eternal Ice Palace. She was now a young maiden again, undoing her years of emotionless cultivation that had made her cold and emotionless! To her protégés, she was always the stern protégé mistress.
How could she forget how touched and grateful she had been when Yi Ping saved her from the three wicked men? Just when she thought that she had escaped from an evil fate, another one had suddenly befall her?
Yi Ping grabbed her hands and said gently, "Since we are both dying, why don't we be man and wife here?"
Yixian nodded without hesitation as she wiped the tears in her eyes with her sleeve, "My husband…"
Yi Ping said gently, "My wife…"
Yi Ping held her hand as he bowed onto the ground, "Heavens above, I, Yi Ping, is willing to take Maiden Xian as my wife, be it through joys or woes, she will always be in my heart!"
Shui Yixian bowed onto the ground too and said, "Heavens above, I, Shui Yixian, is willing to be Yi Ping's wife, be it through joys or woes, through all crisis, I am forever his wife!"
They bowed again onto the ground three more times after they said together, "Heavens and Earth be our witness!" Then they collapsed into embrace together.
Even though they did not exchange a word more, they knew that they were now the most blissful couple and were content to die in one another embrace.
All of a sudden, Yi Ping pointed to the same carvings and drawings of the wall, "What are those?"
Shui Yixian opened her eyes and she began to look at the wall that Yi Ping had indicated. There were many words and drawings on the wall just as Yi Ping had said.
Shui Yixian's eyes shone as she gasped, "These are the intricate formulas of our sect Icy Heaven Tears and the Divine Emerald Skill. Someone must have carved it into the walls of this cave and then sealed it afterwards. And we have accidentally barged into this sealed section."
That sealed wall section was revealed earlier when Huo Fu had sent Yi Ping crashing into it.
Yixian used all her efforts to stagger to the wall as she examined it, "This ninth stage of the Icy Heavens Tears is slightly different from what I have practiced…This one, this one…" Her eyes were beaming with tears.
Yi Ping was curious as he asked weakly, "Something is amiss?"
Shui Yixian nodded, "This one version is more polish than the one that I have been practicing and it seems that someone from our sect have rewritten the intricate formula here." She immediately pointed to the carving and words on the wall for Yi Ping.
Yi Ping could not understand the meanings of the carvings of the wall therefore he replied wryly, "We are dying now. Even if there is a divine skill in front of us, we don't have the lives to practice it."
Shui Yixian said gently, "Others maybe can't but I can!"
While speaking, she had already memorized and organized all the minute details of the intricate formula in her mind. Normally it would take years of dedicated efforts to even grasp the intricate formula and put it into use but she had effortlessly did it.
She had immediately identified the true essence of the intricate formula and found a solution to her loss of martial power state. She immediately proceeded to sit down in a mediation pose and soon there was three wisp of smoke arising from her head.
She opened her eyes once more and wiped away her beads of perspiration before saying, "Yi Ping, I have recovered half of my internal strength. Let me lend you a hand first!"
Before Yi Ping could protest, she had flown to his back and was channeling her vital energies into his body!
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