36 The Secrets of the Celestial Palace
Ding Yun was already waiting for Yi Ping with two swords in her hands. One was a fine long sword while the other was a soft and thin sword.
Yi Ping was looking flustered as he made his way to her but looking at her right now, made him his heart raced even faster. He tried hard to control his heartbeat through the Divine Revelation Heart Intricacy Skill.
It was because Ding Yun had her hair braided into bun and a long left pony. Even though Ding Yun was not the most beautiful maiden that he had known but her quiet demeanor and her refined mannerism always sent his heart racing very hard.
In the past when he had suspected that she was Yixian's killer, he was obsessed in searching for her to avenge for Yixian. However, he knew now that he was actually attracted to her for his heart never ceases to stop beating fast whenever he was with her. He had actually remembered all her little small gestures and expressions by heart.
He was really afraid to look into her dull expressionless eyes for it seemed to have a magical power that seemed to drawn him to her. He could not believe that he had actually had the tenacity to ask her to be his wife in a moment of anxiety to calm down her suicide tendency.
He sighed in his heart, "Lingfeng, Youxue, I am so sorry…There is still Meijian and Yujian. Alas, Yi Ping, what is wrong with you? You are just a heartless and unfaithful person, unfit to be a hero like your father. How am I going to explain to your father?"
But when he looked at Ding Yun again, his mind became flutter again and he thought, "Yi Ping, you are so lucky to be acquainted with her. As long as she doesn't end her life prematurely and have calmed down in the future, you mustn't hurt her and seriously take her as your wife or you will really be hurting her. Yixian now I know you are alive, I will surely look for you."
Among all the maidens that he had known, only Shui Yixian was the only person that he had really feel strongly for and she was also his sanctioned wife since they had gone through the sacred marriage vows. And he had intended to keep his vows for her and looked for her as soon as possible for he had missed her sorely.
He had not expected that after he had left the Heavenly Mountains, he would have bumped into so many things. He had met Ji Lingfeng, his father and so many others. But his biggest headache was actually Lele. He did not really know how to explain to Yixian. Should he leave Yixian for her own good instead?
Yi Ping sighed again. He did not blame Yixian for hiding her own death from him. After all, she probably had her own difficulties and the Yixian that he had known, was a tender maiden and that she was probably doing it for his own good as well.
But he had instead betrayed her trust in him and had violated Shui Yujian and Meijian in his drunken stupor.
All of a sudden he thought, "What if Yixian knows what I did to Yu'Er and Mei'Er? Maybe that is why she doesn't even want to see me…I am so sinful. Alas! Yixian, what have I done. You will never forgive me now. You have tried to wish me happiness and even appointed me as the protégé leader of the Eternal Ice Palace so that my daily needs can be taken care of. But I have betrayed your trust…"
Ding Yun looked keenly at him before she interrupted quietly, "You are late for practice. Where is Lele?"
Yi Ping stammered, "I…Lele, she is still washing by the pool."
This ravine had many pools and streams.
He added quickly, "She says that the water here is miraculous and she did not want to leave any scar behind so she wants to dip in the pool a little longer."
Ding Yun beamed gently, "The two of you seem to be enjoying frolicking in the pools every morning."
Yi Ping turned completed red as he stammered with embarrassment, "She…she…"
Every morning, Lele would secretly grabbed Yi Ping and took him to an isolated spot.
In the wee morning while Yi Ping was still sleeping in the cave, Lele had woke him up by whispering to him, "Ping, I think I have found a way out. Can you come with me quietly?"
Yi Ping asked, "I go wake Yun'Er, wait for me…"
Lele smiled mysteriously, "No need. We just take a quick look first. There a huge rock blocking the path. I need your help to push the boulder aside. Come."
Yi Ping yawned sleepily as he followed her.
Lele took him to an isolated place far from the cave as she eyed him nervously.
Yi Ping looked around the place as he asked, "Where is the boulder?"
Lele said softly, "There is only a pig here."
Yi Ping was startled as he drew his long sword, "Where is the pig? That will make a fine meal."
Lele was so agitated that she scolded him, "You are the pig, silly!"
Yi Ping was startled, "I am a pig?"
Lele said, "If you are not a pig, then who is?"
Yi Ping was surprised as he asked, "Lele, surely you are not asking me to come here just to call me a pig?"
Lele sighed, "You silly piggy. You don't even know what I want?"
Yi Ping blinked his eyes as he exclaimed, "I'm sorry but the way out isn't obvious to me. Yes, I am a pig but can you show me the boulder?"
Lele smiled bitterly as she sighed, "Why you….you are not romantic at all. Have you forgotten what we did last night?"
Yi Ping was flushing red as he stammered, "I…remember…"
Lele suddenly kissed him as she said, "So do you know what I want now?"
Normally Lele would not be so bold. It was because she had used the Bewitching Soul Seizing Skill on Yi Ping. While this skill had a powerful influence on others, this skill was actually a life and death contest between willpowers of the victim and the practitioner. So it was not to be used lightly. Even Lie Qing dared not used it beyond the initial probing.
But Lele had took the skill a step further as she was afraid of losing Yi Ping and letting herself be hurt. She was confident that a young man like Yi Ping would never have the state of divinity to resist the Bewitching Soul Seizing Skill. She was wrong and the skill backfired on her; instead of causing Yi Ping to be hopelessly smitten by her, she was smitten instead.
Of course, the very reason that she had dared to use the Bewitching Soul Seizing Skill to charm Yi Ping was that she genuinely liked Yi Ping in the first place.
Luckily, her state of divinity was strong enough to resist her own skill and the only negative effect was that it weakened her natural resistance, emboldening her fondness for Yi Ping.
Yi Ping was naturally a shy young man. He was electrified when Lele had suddenly kissed him lightly and his heartbeat raced nervously when he touched her soft body. He thought of pushing her away but it seemed that all his strength had departed from him and he was feeling awkwardly hot.
The fact that Lele was an extraordinary beauty weakened his resolute. She was not only glamorous but her dedicated softness caused him to be in a daze. And her fragrance was so delightful that it seemed to have a spell on him.
Yi Ping had never had this sensation and feeling before. He tried very hard to remember if he had this feeling with Yu'Er and Mei'Er before but the memory always eluded him. He had been dead drunk and could not remember a thing!
Before he had even realized it, he had seized Lele as they were kissing, rolling on the ground and undressing one another. He looked at Lele who was now blushing with shyness as he caressed her soft silken body. Her shyness was very obvious for she was very fair, as fair as Yixian, Yu'Er and Mei'Er.
Even though Yi Ping had met many beautiful maidens but this was the first time he had been consumed by lust and for the time being, there was nothing in his mind except for Lele.
Yi Ping was a sentimental person who felt strongly for kinship and friendship with a strong sense of righteousness. He would never take the first initiative to court Lele. But a series of extraordinary encounters and coincidences brought them together.
What they did not know was that they had lost their first time to one another too.
That was why they were now clumsily entangled in each other's embrace as they learnt and experienced new sensations together.
Lele said softly, "You clumsy pig…"
Yi Ping said, "I never done this sort of thing before…"
Lele bit him on his shoulder hard as she said, "You're obviously a liar. You have so many maidens around you. Alas, why must I fall into your hands…"
Yi Ping smiled bitterly, "I should be the one that should say that…"
He was interrupted by another painful bite by Lele as she said softly, "Liar, liar! We should try to do it every day…"
And it was what they had been secretly doing every morning…
However, their actions did not go unnoticed by Maiden Ding Yun as she said in a low whisper, "Both of you are getting too out of hand and getting noisier. Didn't you realize that I can hear your echoes in this valley…"
Yi Ping had suddenly frozen in embarrassment.
Just when Yi Ping did not know what to say, Lele had suddenly appeared as she whispered shyly, "Good sister, let me spar with Yi Ping first!"
Yi Ping was relieved that Lele had arrived in a nick of time to save him from the awkward questioning.
Lele averted her eyes from Ding Yun. She thought shyly, "What a terrible embarrassment! Sister Ding Yun has overheard us. Now I need a hole to hide in…"
Lele raised her dark scythe as she leapt towards Yi Ping, making three rapid thrust in mid-air! This swung technique was her 'Rapid Mirage Bursts'.
Yi Ping mustered his martial power to steady himself even as he raised his white emerald sword as the silence windforce of Lele's attacks threatened to sweep him off his feet!
The most terrifying thing about Lele's attacks was its unbelievable speed. Even though her dark scythe looked unwieldy, many careless opponents were actually fooled to charge headlong into her and hence lost their lives as they lost their footings when the silent windforce caught them by surprise.
Even standing on their ground to exchange strokes with her was not an option for her dark scythe was extremely heavy and it was physical draining to parry it.
Yi Ping's internal strength was not weak. In fact, due to many fortunate coincidences, his internal strength and martial power had increased so tremendously in the past year that most pugilists in their entire lifetime could not even dreamt of.
Even though Yi Ping had parried Lele's 'Rapid Mirage Bursts' umpteen of times with his 'Improved Horizon Swordplay' that was improvised with the aid of Ding Yun, it was still a terrifying and physically draining experience for him. It required his full concentration and he dared not be careless.
The Improved Horizon Swordplay was an improvised new swordplay that was inspired by Maiden Ding Yun to absorb the impact of the opponents' attacks and weakened the opponent strength by using the sword as a shield.
Even as three burst of bright lights and shrieking impact could be seen and heard, Lele had already followed up with another three quick attacks!
Yi Ping immediately followed up with another three strokes to counter her.
In less than a few seconds, they had exchanged more than twenty strokes!
Lele smiled, "Very good. You are improving. You used to unable to even handle even my first ten strokes in the past."
Yi Ping shouted, "Lele, you are not focusing and is careless…"
He had dashed headlong into Lele with his sword when she had just missed him and was talking to him. But to his utter disbelief, Lele had suddenly retracted her dark scythe, turning it aside and crashed it like a heavy pole onto his shoulder!
Yi Ping's reaction was not slow as he had parried with his long sword but the sheer weight and force of her dark scythe was too much for him to bear as he collapsed on the ground!
Yi Ping was stunned as he said, "Lele, what manner of attack is this? You are using your weapon as a pole!?"
Lele laughed softly, "You are dead. I have won again."
She pretended to yawn as she said gently, "No one says my weapon is just a pole-arm. If you exploit the deliberate front opening, then my weapon will be a pole. Do you understand me? In a fight, you ought to be caution and avoid unnecessary gambit. Sometimes the opening that you have seen is just a feint. "
Yi Ping nodded as he sighed, "I have mustered all my martial power with the Aspire Invocations. I just do not understand why I can't block your attack. It is as though your weapon has suddenly become extremely heavy and I can sense a great suffocating weight that crashes on me. Why is that so?"
Lele extended her dark scythe with one hand as she said coolly, "See if you can snatch my weapon from me."
Yi Ping rubbed his palms before he tried to pull the dark scythe from her. But no matter how hard he pulled with both hands, he could not wrestle it from her! It was as though she had cast a spell on it. He simply could not believe that even with two hands, he could not pull the dark scythe one inch from her even though Lele was just gripping it with one hand!
Yi Ping was astonished, "This…this is impossible! This is not just internal strength alone…it is a supernatural feat…"
Ding Yun who was watching the scene, laughed softly. "Yi Ping, this is not a supernatural feat. This is the 'Thousand Weight Feat'. She is able to increase the weight of the weapon and even herself tens of times heavier with her martial power. That is why you do not see her exuding any martial power."
Yi Ping was startled, "There is such a wondrous feat in this fraternity? Lele, can you teach me this skill?"
Lele smiled shyly, "You are my husband. Of course I am willing to teach you. But first you have to start with the basics first. You can try to start by carrying my scythe and climb that tree over there a hundred times daily."
As Yi Ping turned and saw the towering tree, he was stunned for he knew how heavy Lele's scythe was. He secretly thought, "So that is why she always carrying this wicked looking scythe around so that she can practice her internal strength all the time?"
Ding Yun said gently, "Lele is only teasing you. With your present cultivation in internal strength, it will be easy for you. Don't you know?"
Yi Ping smiled bitterly, "I really did not know!"
Lele laughed merrily, "Sister Yun, you should have let him suffer for a while."
Ding Yun smiled shyly, "He…he is my…our…husband. We shouldn't lie to him even if it is a jest."
Yi Ping clapped his hands as he said, "No wonder every time I fight with the both of you and Yuan Hao, I can feel an irresistible overwhelming force…"
Lele said, "That is because you are too focused on martial power and not your internal strength. What if you miss with your martial power, you will only be wasting your physical strength. Even though our weapon techniques looked ordinary, weak and tedious to train, we may not lose to you in a long run."
Yi Ping said, "Lele, you carry such an unwieldy scythe around? Don't you feel it is too inconvenient and tiring?"
Lele smiled mysteriously.
All of a sudden, she unhooked the double wicked blades of the scythe from the dark pole and folded it into a circular shape and inserted it into her straw hat! So expert was her dismantling movements that it took her only a blink of an eye to do so.
Yi Ping was stunned as he muttered, "It becomes a real pole now…"
Lele laughed gently, "That's right."
Yi Ping said, "No wonder, you seem so expert with the pole too."
Ding Yun said, "Not just with the pole, she is an expert swordsman too."
Yi Ping was startled, "Lele, you know how to use the sword? Why don't you use the sword when you are fighting Yuan Hao? You may not lose…"
Lele sighed, "Don't remind me. It is just that I didn't have the opportunity to draw my swords yet."
Yi Ping looked intently at her before he asked, "Where are your swords?"
Lele smiled shyly, "Stop looking at me like this."
She took out the circular double blade from her straw hat and separated it into two sickles as she whirled the sickles ambidextrously in front of her!
Yi Ping could feel the wicked slices of the double sickles as he trembled fearfully even though he was not entirely within reach of Lele's sickles.
He was astonished as he quickly said, "Lele, this is the feeling that I have with Yuan Shao. Quickly, let's us fight again."
Lele laughed shyly, "No way! I have never seen anyone that courts death like the way you do."
Yi Ping said awkwardly, "Of course I fear death but if I let fear overcomes me, how do I hope to defeat the Honor Manor and the Virtuous Palace in the future?"
Ding Yun said coolly, "That is what you say but the truth is, you didn't even bother to think of the consequences."
After spending time with Yi Ping, Ding Yun had realized Yi Ping was a fearless fighter who would not hesitate even if his opponent was many times more powerful than him.
Yi Ping blushed as he stammered, "That's not the point. Lele, let's fight with your swords again."
Lele said firmly, "Unless you can hold at least sixty strokes against my scythe's techniques, it is far too dangerous for us to even try. Even with my state of divinity, it will be hard for me to gauge when to stop."
Yi Ping protested, "But Lele, if I…"
Ding Yun interrupted, "You seem to forget that we have not practiced yet."
Ding Yun had drawn out her precious sword and her foldable sword at the same time.
Against Ding Yun's Virtuous Swordplay, after several days of practice and improving the Horizon Swordplay, he had come up with the Improved Horizon Swordplay that he had picked up from Lele's weapon techniques.
Yi Ping was not discouraged as he said, "I think I have a way to defeat Yuan Shao and you now."
Ding Yun had virtually taught him the entire stances and strokes of the Virtuous Swordplay in the past few days. She said gently, "Even though you know my strokes by now but breaking it is another matter entirely."
Against Ding Yun's Virtuous Swordplay, Yi Ping attacked rapidly and disengaged quickly at the same time!
In an instant, Yi Ping had exchanged dozens of strokes against Maiden Ding Yun's double swords techniques.
No matter how hard he had tried, he just could not breech through her double swords defenses. The feeling that Ding Yun had given him was that of an impregnable defense. She had parried with her long sword and attacked him with her soft long sword at the same time!
Every time, Lele watched their duel, she was still filled with awe. Yi Ping had certainly improved by leap and bounds as he could now hold on his own against Maiden Ding Yun. But Yi Ping had not found a way to break the profound changes of the Virtuous Swordplay yet!
She knew that Maiden Ding Yun was also showing her a way to break Yuan Shao's swordplay too.
All of a sudden, Yi Ping changed his attacking direction from left to right as he kept attacking Ding Yun's left side! The foldable sword that was on her left side was unsuitable to block against his powerful Horizon Swordplay!
Yi Ping shouted, "Yun'Er, I know your weak point now!"
Ding Yun smiled sweetly, "What takes you so long to realize it?"
All of a sudden, she whirled her foldable sword and hurled it into a flying sword at Yi Ping as she shouted, "Watch out!"
Yi Ping immediately raised his sword to block it but he was forced to take several steps backward even as the flying sword spins back into Maiden Ding Yun's hand.
Even before Yi Ping could react, she had dropped her foldable sword to the ground and charged with her long sword against him as she said coolly, "I can do a double flying sword if the soft sword gets back into my hand and charge at you. So what will you do?"
Of course, she did not and was deliberately only extending her long sword at Yi Ping.
Yi Ping recovered in time and he had suddenly discovered that Ding Yun was now on the offensive! Her sword techniques were now similar to Yuan Shao but did not have the fearsome aura that Yuan Hao had possessed!
They were now exchanging sword strokes so fast and rapidly that the entire valley began to echo with their attacks!
Lele held her breath excitedly as she thought, "The two of them are the new generation of the super exponents of the fraternity? How is it possible for them to have such remarkable swordplay at their age?"
It was because swordplay had too many changes. The only way to improve one's swordplay was to keep on using it in a real fight, training the practitioner ability to react and their natural instinct for exploiting openings.
The Horizon Swordplay was a swordplay that utilizes speed and martial power. Combined with Lele's Mirage Speed Technique, Yi Ping had nearly doubled his attacking speed!
The Virtuous Swordplay utilizes speed, internal strength to steady it and was also a counter-attacking swordplay.
No matter how many dozens of Illusional strokes Yi Ping made against her, Ding Yun always lightly parried with a wide arc stroke and counter-attack with a series of fast strokes too.
Lele shouted excitedly, "It is a draw!"
All of a sudden, Ding Yun raised her left hand and stabbed towards Yi Ping!
Yi Ping raised his powerful left palm and blocked it effortlessly.
However, even as Ding Yun stabbed him with her left hand, she had withdrawn instantly and continuous to thrust her left hand at his left palm, causing him to hastily withdraw his palm!
He grasped, "The Penetrating hands?! You know this skill too?"
But before he could ask further, Ding Yun had thrown her long sword and it had landed with thunderous impact between his legs!
She said quietly, "You are dead."
Yi Ping had turned pale immediately as he muttered, "I keep forgetting that the most powerful techniques of the Virtuous Palace are not its swordplay but its extraordinary unarmed techniques…"
Ding Yun said, "Indeed. While swordplay can kill fast without expending much effort but the best martial skills of the Virtuous Palace are actually their Eighteen Unbreakable Hands, Penetrating Hands and the Soul Stealer Finger."
Lele interrupted as she turned pale, "The Soul Stealer Finger and the Eighteen Unbreakable Hands?! The Virtuous Palace actually possesses these two martial skills?"
Ding Yun said, "These are legacy skills inherited when the Xiao Clan takes over the Virtuous Palace from the Red Eye Clan. Xiao Shuai is the only one that knows the Eighteen Unbreakable Hands. As for the Soul Stealer Finger, Xiao Shuai and Yuan Shao are the only ones that know this skill."
Lele asked, "The Red Eye Clan? There are others like me?"
Ding Yun said, "They are dead a long time ago."
Lele sighed, "What a pity. Or else…"
She did not continue.
Yi Ping asked, "Or else what?"
Lele said, "Nothing at all."
Yi Ping asked curiously, "Really nothing at all?"
Lele ignored Yi Ping as she asked Ding Yun, "Good sister, how is that your wounds are able to heal so fast and without a single scar?"
Ding Yun replied, "I have been practicing the Divine Virtuous Force and this skill has a healing effect."
Lele exclaimed in surprise, "What an amazing skill. To think that this divine epitome skill exists. Good sister, will you teach me?"
Ding Yun smiled, "I can teach you but is it risky for you? What if the intricate force of the skill is not compatible with yours?"
Lele laughed softly, "Teach me first and I see about it…"
Yi Ping said solemnly, "Better don't teach her that. It may be far too dangerous. The Divine Virtuous Force, like my Aspire Invocation emphasis on martial power. Lele, your intricate force is similar to the Icy Heavenly Tears that emphasis more on internal energies. It is way too dangerous for you."
Ding Yun said, "I agree. Youxue's mother died because she thought that she can merge the Icy Heavenly Tears and the Divine Virtuous Force together. It ended up in tragedy."
Lele smiled, "I don't believe that my Celestial Force is not able to merge the skills together."
Yi Ping scolded her, "You may end up losing your life and worse still end up with a permanent disability. So what even if you have succeeded? All your martial skills will end up deteriorating and you will end up spending decades to regain it. It is not worth the risk."
Lele was irritated, "I have plenty of time."
Yi Ping was trembling.
Both Ding Yun and Lele were startled to see that his face was tearful.
Lele softened her stance as she said panicky, "Alright then. I promise you I won't try to learn this skill. Don't cry. Real man only shed blood and not tears."
Ding Yun asked Yi Ping, "Ping, what is wrong?"
Yi Ping wiped away his silent tears as he muttered, "Nothing. It is just that…it is just that I am thinking of my mother and Yixian…"
Lele was startled, "What have this have to do with your mother?"
Yi Ping said, "My mother and Yixian are protégé sisters. In order to avert the Divine Calamity, they practiced and meditated endlessly. In the end, they are not able to enjoy life as it should be. I don't think it is worth it…"
Lele rebuked him gently, "It is because you have not reached the proper divinity yet and has not yet received the visions. At the very top, it is a realm that you cannot possibly imagine. Without the Divine Calamity, I…I would never possibly have met you. Do you think that is not destiny?"
Yi Ping asked, "Lele, you have really experienced the Divine Calamity? What is it? Can you help Yixian to overcome the Divine Calamity?"
Lele looked at Ding Yun and Yi Ping slowly before she said slowly, "I really do not want to reveal anything to others for it is the most sacred secret of the Celestial Palace."
Yi Ping was disappointed and it shown on his face.
Lele said, "But you are my husband and Ding Yun is my good sister now. Promise me you won't reveal it to anyone?"
Yi Ping said hastily, "I swear to the Heavens and Earth that I won't reveal to anyone without your permission or else lightning…"
Lele interrupted, "That's enough."
Ding Yun was curious about the Divine Calamity too. She knew from Xiao Shuai that Yuan Hao had been preparing for the Divine Calamity and the Virtuous Palace had been quietly working towards this objective for many decades. That was why the Virtuous Palace had always been reluctant to get involved in the affairs of the martial fraternity and even feared injuries.
So she did not hesitate at all as she said, "Heavens and the Earth is my witness, I swear that I will not reveal what Sister Lele has revealed to me today."
Lele seemed to have lost the glow on her face as her eyes seemed to stare blankly.
She said dispiritedly, "The truth is I don't even know what the Divine Calamity is. It can come in many forms and is a natural phenomenon that is so terrifying that it can kill."
Yi Ping breathed in deeply as he listened attentively.
Lele said, "It occurs when a practitioner reached the highest state of divinity or is nearly immortal when they are nearing a hundred and twenty. After that, the Divine Calamity will give prior warning for seven days before it occur."
Yi Ping asked, "Can't it be avoided or averted?"
Lele shook her head, "It can't but it can be made to prematurely occur."
Yi Ping said, "My father told me that the last stance of the Divine Horizon Hands can trigger the Divine Calamity and warned me never to use the last stance even when I can in the future."
Lele was startled, "The Divine Horizon Hands can trigger the Divine Calamity? It…must be a powerful stance that is beyond human limitations."
Yi Ping smiled bitterly, "And it is also an impossible stance. I have only just started the Divine Revelation and have no time for mediation. I'll be better off practicing the Aspire Invocations instead. At least, I get into a fight daily."
Lele said, "You are just lazy and impatient. Sooner or later, either you will be killed in the martial fraternity or the Divine Calamity will kill you off."
Yi Ping smiled bitterly as he said, "Is the Divine Calamity this simple? What is the secret behind it?"
Lele seemed to hesitate for a while before she finally said, "There is only two persons that I know that had ever succeed in surviving the Divine Calamity. One is the Sage King and the other is the founder of the Celestial Palace, the Jade Emperor."
Yi Ping was startled for he had heard of the Sage King before as he asked, "The Sage King, is he the one that makes the 'Great Rejuvenate Golden Pills?"
Lele nodded, "You know of his pills? We have been searching for it for a long time too…"
Yi Ping smiled bitterly as he said, "Youxue, she gave it to me when I was once grievously injured."
Lele was stunned as she muttered, "Maybe it is fate…we have been searching for it for centuries…"
Yi Ping was startled, "What do you mean you have been searching for it for centuries? How old are you Lele?"
Lele looked at Yi Ping and looked at Ding Yun as she sighed, "Make a guess…"
Yi Ping said, "Twenty?"
Lele said something but Yi Ping could not hear.
Yi Ping asked again, "Lele, your voice is too soft. I cannot hear."
Lele stared miserably at Yi Ping before she sighed softly, "I…I am four centuries old."
Ding Yun and Yi Ping were both stunned.
Ding Yun asked, "How is it possible? No one can live that long without turning old or dying."
Yi Ping stared at Lele…
Lele averted her eyes as she said softly, "So now you know. You must be despising me now because of my age…"
Yi Ping caught hold of her hands as he said, "No, Lele I am not. I am just surprised that you don't look at all past twenty-five."
Lele said, "That is because I have survived the Divine Calamity at that age and can't age anymore."
Yi Ping asked, "But you just said there are only two persons that have survived the Divine Calamity. You are the Jade Emperor?!"
Lele shook her head as she said, "That is because we have cheated death using an unorthodox means. Because of that, we may have survived the Divine Calamity but we didn't really achieve the new state of divinity and in fact, cannot advance further. My hair turned silver and my eyes turned red overnight…"
All of a sudden, she broke into tears as she begun to tremble. "Once every hundred years, the Divine Calamity revisited us and our numbers began to reduce further. Many of the original survivors are dead now…"
Ding Yun asked, "Why do you need the 'Great Rejuvenated Golden Pills' for?"
Lele nodded slowly, "The Jade Emperor has exhausted his strength fighting the Divine Calamity for us. Without him, we will surely perish. That is why we have been searching for the 'Great Rejuvenated Golden Pills'."
Yi Ping asked, "Since you have all the time in the world, can't you train to fight against the Divine Calamity? Can't the Jade Emperor show you the way to survive it?"
Lele smiled bitterly, "That is what you think? We are supposed to gain the revelation of the Celestial Skill by overcoming the Divine Calamity. Because we have cheated, we are cursed forever and our level of cultivation have remain as it is before the Divine Calamity. Without advancing to the Jade Emperor level of cultivation, we have no hope whatever so of surviving it."
Yi Ping was bewildered as he asked, "What do you mean? If the level of cultivation is basic, surely it is just so easy to grasp it given the time that you have?"
Lele seemed terrified as she said nervously, "That is the secret of the Divine Calamity! We are supposed to attain a new understanding in our state of divinity first before we can advance. Anyone that forcefully tries to attain a new state of divinity after the Divine Calamity will trigger the deadly Celestial Wrath. No one will be able to survive that."
Yi Ping was startled, "There exists a Celestial Wrath?!"
Lele nodded, "That is our last chance now. If we can survive the Celestial Wrath, we can break away from the curse of the Divine Calamity."
Yi Ping asked, "What curse?"
Lele said, "Each time the Divine Calamity occurs or if we expend our internal energy, we cannot recover it unless we drink the blood of top exponents and eat their hearts…"
Yi Ping was stunned as he asked, "Lele, did you really do that?"
Lele said slowly, "I don't want to lie to you. I have done so on numerous times."
Yi Ping clenched his fists as he begun to walk away.
Lele's eyes were now watery as she thought, "I have lost him forever now. No one will forgive me what I have done…"
Even Ding Yun was grasping, stunned at Lele's revelations as she thought, "She…really is a blood drinker…"
It was because she had suddenly remembered the scary tales of the Red Eye Clan and she had thought that they were stories meant to frighten children.
Yi Ping had walked three steps before he turned back, "According to my father, my great grandfather is killed by the blood drinkers. Are you one of them?"
Lele asked, "Where is your great grandfather at that time?"
Yi Ping said, "I don't know the exact location but it is in the Central Fraternity."
Lele said, "Then it is not me. I have never stepped outside the Western Fraternity."
Yi Ping sighed with relief. He looked stoned. If Lele had the blood of his clan in her hands, would he still have the heart to kill her? Just like if Youxue had the blood of Yixian in her hands, would he still have the heart to kill her? He dare not think of the implications!
Lele said, "Actually you don't have to worry too much. The people that we have killed are all almost at the end of their lives…"
Yi Ping interrupted, "A life is still a life!"
Lele smiled alluring, ignoring his remarks. "Also, most of the time we need to sleep because mere blood alone cannot replenish our strength. Sometimes I need to sleep for decades. In fact, I have just waked up after a span of forty years."
Yi Ping was startled, "You need to sleep for this long?!"
Lele smiled bitterly, "That is why it is our curse. If we do not sleep for extended period of time, our strength will falter and drained away. But even then, when we are awakened, we will still need at least a few years of time to completely regain our martial skills. It is a vicious cycle with no ending."
Yi Ping asked gently, "Is there a way to cure your condition?"
Lele said, "Only a miracle pill like the Great Rejuvenate Golden Pill or something miraculous can alleviate this disorder. That is why we have been searching for it all this while."
Yi Ping said wryly, "It doesn't seem you are making a great deal of effort to look for it, from someone that never left the western fraternity."
Lele chuckled, "We are not that foolish to look for a needle in the ocean. It is just not practicable to look for something that is almost a myth. But should it really exist in the fraternity, there bound to be people fighting over it. When that occurs, we will naturally know."
Yi Ping asked, "How do you know?"
Lele said, "We have secret emissaries that are scattered throughout the fraternity. That is important especially since we are sleeping most of the time."
Ding Yun asked, "How do you ensure their loyalty?"
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Lele smiled mysterious, "I am the Joyful Goddess. Naturally, I will promise them eternal joyous life and a chance to gain entry to the Celestial Palace if they serve us well."
Yi Ping growled, "Lele, that is deceiving the ignorant masses. Now I remember. There is a Joyful Cult in the fraternity. Don't tell me you are their leader?"
Lele blinked at him, "It is not that hard to figure it out. So there, you have guessed it. I am the Goddess that they have worshipped."
Yi Ping mocked gently, "It is more like a pathetic Goddess that spends a lot of time sleeping like a pig."
Lele said unhappily, "Yi Ping, are you too weary of living already? In the past, if any one insults me like that, they will be dead in the next instant."
Yi Ping smiled, "So the Joyful Goddess will actually be upset?"
Lele smiled, "You think that I am really upset? I won't fall into your trick. You just want to spar with me. You are such a bully!"
Yi Ping and Ding Yun laughed.
All of a sudden, Yi Ping said excitedly, "Since the Sage King has also survived the Divine Calamity, why don't you look for him to make another 'Great Rejuvenate Golden Pill'?"
Lele smiled bitterly, "That is because he has died centuries ago."
Yi Ping was startled, "I can imagine he is a formidable exponent as well. Who on earth can actually has the means to kill him?"
Lele said, "From what I know, he barely survived his first Divine Calamity and knows that he won't survive his second Divine Calamity. Therefore, he expended all his efforts to create eight wondrous golden rejuvenation pills and hid it in a secret location."
Lele added coldly after a pause, "That is his wickedness and also his stratagem. Because he knew that he was going to die, he wants the majority of the top exponents to die along with him and deliberating spread the news of his creations. Anyone that wants to obtain it had to find his underground palace to locate it first."
Ding Yun asked, "What if the Sage King had lied about the Great Rejuvenation Golden Pills?"
Lele shook her head, "The Sage King won't lie or else he won't reach his level of divinity. He has another purpose of course. At that time he was aware of us too and that our clan requires the hearts of the top exponents. By causing a division and causing them to die prematurely, he had actually caused many of us to succumb to the Divine Calamity."
Lele looked forlornly into the sky and she seemed to be thinking of something.
Yi Ping knew what she had been through. The loss of her kin and friends were a loss that was hard to bear.
Ding Yun said, "It seemed that the Virtuous Palace had eventually located it. Xiao Shuai found it but it was stolen by Xiao Youxue and one of the pills was given to Yi Ping."
Yi Ping interrupted as a thought struck him, "Why didn't the Sage King pass it to his descendants?"
Lele smiled, "He is an old priest and did not have any kin. It does seem like that we are the only survivors of the Divine Calamity now."
Ding Yun said quietly, "There is one survivor from the Red Eye Clan, good sister."
Lele was startled, "There is someone else? Thought you have just said earlier there are none?"
Ding Yun said, "She is supposed to be dead too…"
Yi Ping nodded as he said, "Her name is Lie Qing. When I found her, she is as good as dead. But I had tried to revive her with the Divine Dragon Pill and I had managed to save her life."
Lele looked at Yi Ping in utter disbelief as she took a few unsteady steps backward. After a while, she said with trembling voice, "You actually have the Divine Dragon Pill? Do you know how many times more precious that pill is over the Great Rejuvenation Golden Pill and you give it away just like that?"
Yi Ping scratched his head in puzzlement, "I know that is one of the seven treasures of the Martial Fraternity…"
Lele interrupted unhappily, "You know nothing at all! That Divine Dragon Pill…alas…that Lie Qing is really so lucky. I…I can't believe that you actually give it away. You should at least keep for yourself."
She wanted to say, "I want to drink her blood and eat her heart." But halfway through, she decided to keep mum.
Lele asked Yi Ping melancholy, "Who is this Lie Qing to you that you can give her something this precious?"
She was alarmed with this Lie Qing. This was the second time that she had heard of her name. The first time her name was mentioned was when Ding Yun had mentioned that she had attempted to save a maiden's life with her Invincible Divine Force.
Somehow, Lie Qing's name sounded all too familiar to her but she could not remember who she was. As for the Invincible Divine Force, she only knew it too well…
She silently thought, "No matter who you are, it will be interesting to fight with you. The Celestial Force and the Invincible Divine Force are the two most epitome martial force in the entire fraternity. If you have really survived the Divine Calamity, then all I have to do is to defeat you and exchange your intricate energy with my Celestial Force, then my state of divinity can be raised…"
Yi Ping smiled bitterly, "I swear I have nothing to do with her…"
Lele said unhappily, "Do you think that I will believe you…"
Ding Yun suddenly said, "I know why the Virtuous Palace is attacking the Holy Hex Sect now."
Yi Ping was startled, "Why?"
Ding Yun said, "That is because Xiao Shuai had once given one Great Rejuvenation Golden Pill to Ji Wuzheng to save his sister life."
Yi Ping immediately turned pale as he said, "Then Lingfeng is in grave danger. Xiao Shuai will really eat her alive just like he wants to eat Youxue alive…"
He hastily said, "We must find a way out immediately! Let's us go now." And Yi Ping had already stormed off in a hurry!
Lele was left grasping her hands to her heart as she muttered melancholy, "Lingfeng…the Holy Maiden…"