49 Guardians of the Holy Chapter
Yi Ping was looking at the stunning view of the Holy Amalgamate Mountains. After an arduous journey, they had all finally reached their destination, encountering only a few minor difficulties along the way.
They had avoided taking the main road and were guided by Lingfeng through the many mountains and valleys.
Lingfeng had explained, "Even though we are near the clan territories of the Holy Hex Clan and her allies, the number of unfriendly clans that were gathering at the foot of the Holy Amalgamate were in the hundreds and their protégés in the thousands. It is best that we totally avoid the main road altogether."
She looked at Yi Ping keenly and asked, "What's wrong, Yi Ping? You seem unhappy. Is it because we are not interested in the Celestial Star Formation?"
Yi Ping was startled, "Lingfeng, you are not interested in the Celestial Star Formation?"
Lingfeng quickly said, "Not that. Why do you look so depress lately? That is so unlike the Yi Ping that I have known who is undaunted by any difficulties."
Yi Ping secretly shared in his worries with her, "Lingfeng, in the past…I lead a simple life and carefree life. I didn't know the fraternity at large and didn't even know what life is in the fraternity. After I have fought with that old man, I have suddenly known fear. It's not that I am really fearful of him but…I don't want to lose anyone of you. I don't want to lose you, Lingfeng. I am really afraid now."
Lingfeng's alluring eyes were watery, "It's alright Yi Ping. You have already done your best. You know you don't have to accompany me back to the Holy Amalgamate Mountains…"
Yi Ping said, "It's not that, Lingfeng. I…want to protect you. I want to become strong now. I…I also can't afford to lose Youxue, Ding Yun, Yu'Er and Mei'Er. If any of you comes to harm, I will be heartbroken. I know that I shouldn't say that but I…really don't even know my heart anymore…"
Lingfeng said softly, "Yi Ping, you don't have to say anymore…I do understand. Just follow your heart…"
Yi Ping smiled bitterly, "I can't even trust my heart anymore. A part of me is telling me to leave clandestinely and forget about the burdens of the heart…maybe it is the Emptiness Translucence that is playing a trick on me…"
Lingfeng said quietly, "Hmph, what Emptiness Translucence…If you do that, I will kill myself in front of you…"
Yi Ping was startled.
Unknown to Yi Ping, Youxue, Yu'Er, Mei'Er and Ding Yun were standing and listening tearfully out of his sight…
Back to the present…
When Gongsun Jing looked at the breathtaking misty mountains and valleys of the Holy Amalgamate Mountains, he said sadly. "The entire mountain slopes are treacherous. This is really a place that is easy to defend and hard to assault."
He asked Ding Yun, "Maiden Ding, are you alright? You are quiet along the way…"
Ding Yun said demurely, "I have always been quiet. It's not strange."
Gongsun Jing gave a soft sigh, "Is that so?"
Qiu Wufeng said, "I have thought that the Heavenly Mountains are grand enough but this is simply too breathtaking."
Yu'Er disagreed with a soft sigh, "This is not a truly accurate way to say it. For me, I prefer the snow and ice of the Heavenly Mountains."
Qiu Wufeng smiled bitterly, "Yes, yes. You're right." But he was secretly thinking. "The Heavenly Mountains is such a cold and desolate place; I'll never want to go there again…"
Mei'Er added enchanting, "Oh? Why is that what you are saying and what you are thinking seems different?"
Qiu Wufeng protested, "That's not the truth. I swear!"
He quickly tried to divert attention from himself by saying, "How come Brother Nangong is so quiet today?"
Nangong Le smiled dreamily, "I'm admiring the view…"
Yu'Er flushed as she interrupted with a disdain look in her eyes, "He is lying. He is filled with dirty thoughts!"
Nangong Le forced out a weak smile, "That's not true, Yu'Er. You are also so beautiful today. Your astonishing beauty is like a rainbow. I am just appreciating the rainbows here…"
Yi Ping was turning his head as he looked at the surroundings, "Brother Nangong, you really have sharp eyes. I don't see any rainbows…"
Lingfeng almost fainted as she admonished Yi Ping silently, "You are so dense…I give up on you…!"
Nangong Le said to Mei'Er and Yu'Er, "You know. We have so many things in common like music, swordplay, fine appreciation of the arts…"
Mei'Er hummed with an icy tone, "Not again…You can save your efforts, Young Master Nangong."
Nangong Le smiled secretly to himself, "One of these days, I will melt your heart…"
Youxue walked quietly besides Nangong Le, whispering in an almost inaudible voice in his ears. "I will blind you if you dare to take another look at me. And don't think I do not know you have been peeking at us all the time in the quiet along the way."
Nangong Le broke into a cold sweat.
When Yi Ping saw that Lingfeng had put on an annoyed look, he quickly said to her, "Lingfeng! We have finally reached the Holy Amalgamate Mountains. The scenery here is so beautiful. You have grown up here?"
Lingfeng nodded tenderly at Yi Ping, "Yes, I have grown up here."
She pointed at the yellow mountains range in the far horizon, "Do you see those yellow mountains in the horizon?"
Yi Ping said, "It is beautiful, isn't it? Maybe we can stay there in the future…"
Lingfeng smiled weakly, "You…you…don't want to go there! The mountains there are called the Nirvana Mountains. It is said that the Celestial Palace is somewhere in those mountains. No one returns from that place. But we are able to see the Nirvana Mountains from here."
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Mei'Er asked her, "Sister Lingfeng, why are your heart filled with sorrow? Shouldn't you be happy that you are now home?"
Lingfeng sighed softly, "I am…"
Yi Ping said, "Lingfeng, don't you worry. I'll protect you no matter how difficult it is."
Lingfeng looked alluringly at Yi Ping…
Yi Ping began to flush.
He quickly turned around and walked hurriedly, "We have better hurry. We're almost there…"
All of a sudden, he had frozen in his tracks!
It was because Yi Ping had caught sight of an appalling sight!
The mountain slope on the other side of the mountain was covered with the charred bodies of hundreds of fallen exponents. Their weapons and their martial banners were littered everywhere!
Lingfeng gasped, "The orthodox clans had already made their way to the top?"
Yi Ping said quietly, "So many dead. Is it worth to throw their lives just like that? For what cause?"
Ding Yun calmed Lingfeng, "From the attire and banners of the dead, it seems that they are mostly from the orthodox clans. This could be just a minor skirmish. I see no banners of the major orthodox clans or the Honor Manor."
Youxue said, "I can now understand why it is so difficult to assault the Holy Hex Sect and why the Honor Manor is mustering almost the entire fraternity."
Everyone was looking at Youxue.
Yi Ping asked, "Why?"
Youxue said coolly, "The wind directions are always moving down the slope. It is easy to utilize fire attacks. It does seem that these smaller clans are cannon fodders for the major orthodox clans to exhaust the combustible materials of the Holy Hex Sect before they make their final move."
She paused for a while before she said, "Even as we speak, there are dozens of fighters approaching us from the mountain top…Lingfeng, you have better explained that we are on your side or we be burnt alive."
Ding Yun smiled, "Or be crushed by boulders…"
Yujian had readied her fingers while Mei'Er was waving the Divine Emerald Skill as they giggled, "Or arrows…"
Yi Ping immediately shouted, "Heyyyyyy…we are allies and not foes!!! We are the friends of your Holy Maiden!!!"
His martial shout was extraordinary powerful and immediately there were echoes of his shouts coming back from all directions!
Ding Yun said quietly, "Yi Ping…I don't think you should do that…"
Lingfeng immediately stepped on his foot, "Heavens, they haven't even appeared yet…you don't have to shout like that…you really want the whole world to know…"
Yi Ping said panicky, "Lingfeng, by the time they have seen us…we may have become roasted pigs. It is better that we announce ourselves first…"
Gongsun Jing immediately said, "Brother Yi Ping, brilliant! Well said!"
Qiu Wufeng was equally impressive, "Even I have overlooked it. Brother Yi Ping, you may have saved us from a lot of unnecessary troubles!"
Nangong Le seize the opportunity to flatter Yi Ping, "I am about to praise the wisdom and foresight of Brother Yi Ping but Brother Gongsun, you have snatched my lines first instead."
Yi Ping laughed uncomfortable as he said, "That's nothing. Anyone would have thought of that too. I just happened to be the one who had shouted first."
Nangong Le was laughing, "That's true. Even if Brother Yi Ping did not shout a moment ago, I'm afraid that the next one to shout would be me, Haha."
Qiu Wufeng agreed, "True, true! I would be next too!"
Gongsun Jing smiled, "It is our duty to protect the damsels. Leave this crude shouting to us!"
All of a sudden, more than thirty men in black and with a white blue insignia appeared from all sides of the mountain slope!
In their hands were crossbows, spears and long swords!
Leading them was a refined man with a scholarly look.
As soon as Lingfeng saw him, she said excitedly. "Qian Fan! It is you!"
She turned around and said to her companions, "He is Qian Fan. He's one of the Six Guardians of the Holy Chapters and is also an elder of the Holy Hex Sect."
Qian Fan walked to her excitedly, "Lingfeng! At first when our scouts have reported that they have caught sight of you, I still cannot believe my ears! But then, who else but you knows this secret path? Do you know that we have been waiting for weeks here for your return? Finally, you have returned! Your brother is worried sick for your safety."
He paused for a moment before asking, "These are your friends?"
Lingfeng nodded, "They are all my friends and have come to aid us."
Qian Fan said, "Nowadays we must be extra caution. Friends will betray friends for their own personal ambitions and gains. Even though they claimed to be your friends but their actions may prove otherwise."
He turned and looked at Nangong Le, Gongsun Jing, Yi Ping and Qiu Wufeng before saying, "Who's the idiot that is shouting so loudly just now? Do you want the scouts of the orthodox clans to know that there are other paths up to the Holy Hex Sect?"
Yi Ping had turned completely red while Gongsun Jing, Nangong Le and Qiu Wufeng were looking at one another awkwardly and with great embarrassment.
Yi Ping said, "I…I…"
Lingfeng laughed alluringly, "There are scouts at the top and they can spot us from miles above. That is what Yun is trying to tell you. There is no hole here for you to hide. Why don't you roll down the mountain slope instead? It is way much faster." And she gave Yi Ping a surprise push by displaying the Divine Horizon Hands!
"Lingfeng! You are for real! You…really trying to push me down the mountains!"
"Serve you right for trying to be smart!"
"Lingfeng, I don't remember my father has ever taught you the Divine Horizon Hands. Where are my secret manuals?"
"After I have seen you using it numerous times, I have also picked up some moves. You are joking right? You must have lost it somewhere. Don't try to tell your father that I have stolen it when you have carelessly lost it!"
"Quickly return my secret manuals to me…! You must have stolen it when you…Kiss…"
"What…? Shameless! You dare to utter such impudence things in broad daylight! I like to see if your father will help me or you…Hmph!"
Yu'Er and Mei'Er were glancing at one another in subtle embarrassment. It was because before they could praise Yi Ping, the protégés of the Holy Hex Sect had appeared…
Qian Fan was startled. He had never seen Lingfeng this jovial before. She was always careful in maintaining her bearing and adhering to the proper etiquette. As Holy Maiden, her very words were the laws and her very conduct was the symbolic representation of the Holy Hex Sect!
He was jealous and envy of this young man all of a sudden. He asked Lingfeng, "These friends of yours, their names are?"
Lingfeng said coolly, "Yi Ping, Nangong Le, Gongsun Jing, Qiu Wufeng…"
Qian Fan hummed coldly, "I know them alright. They are all wanted by the Honor Manor."
Lingfeng said, "That's right."
Qian Fan had suddenly drawn out his long sword, startling everyone!
Lingfeng chided him, "What are you doing? They are my friends, are you trying to disobey me?"
Qian Fan said, "I dare not. But these men are too notorious and it will be dangerous for the Holy Maiden to be too close to them. I will rather we not have them as allies. We don't need outsiders to meddle in our sect's affairs."
Lingfeng hummed coldly, "Put away your sword. They are framed by the Honor Manor and are good men."
Qian Fan said, "There is no smoke without a fire. Lately, I have heard many bad rumors about them. Everywhere that they have gone to, they have kidnapped innocent maidens and even violated them in the most despicable manner. Their notoriety did not end there. They are even in league with this so call 'Righteous Axioms Clan' and had even killed Xiao Da, the young master of the Virtuous Palace in a despicable and cold hearted ambush. Before Xiao Da died, it seemed that he was put through to a horrifying and agonizing ordeal. I even heard that there is a Maiden Ding Yun from the Virtuous Palace that has been humiliated by that Yi Ping and forced to be with him…"
Youxue was startled as she thought, "We have only used the 'Righteous Axioms Clan' only once and that was in an encounter with a Chi Zhengqi. Don't tell me he is the one that been spreading those rumors?!"
Lingfeng cursed Chi Zhengqi in her heart, "It must be that guy from the Five Element Clan! I'm going to wipe out your entire clan!"
Ding Yun said with a shaking voice, "Shut up…don't say anymore…"
Yi Ping shouted angrily, "Shut up!" He quickly caught hold of Ding Yun's hand and comforted her. "Yun…are you alright? These are just rumors…"
Lingfeng added coldly, "These are all rumors. I repeat. I don't want to hear a word from anyone about these rumors in the Holy Hex Sect. Do you understand me? Or else I will invoke the clan punishment for direct disobedience of my Holy Laws."
Qian Fan sighed, "I obey your wishes, Holy Maiden. But still, Lingfeng you ought to take precautions…"
Lingfeng interrupted with a cold demeanor, "The Holy Maiden."
Qian Fan was startled. His little protégé sister Lingfeng had never spoken to him in this manner before. And she was the one that gave him permission to use her name…
Qian Fan sighed, "I have two things to report. Four of our Elders from the Holy Chapter…they have perished not long ago in a battle with the orthodox martial clans…Elder Wang, Elder Shen, Elder Youlong , Elder Di…alas…"
Lingfeng turned ashen immediately as she quickly asked, "Who…who has the ability to take their lives?"
Qian Fan looked sorrowful, "They are the 'Three Sages' of the orthodox martial clans; Sword Sage of the Aegis Sword Clan, Martial Sage of the Ironclad Clan and the Element Sage of the Five Element Clan."
Yi Ping, Nangong Le, Qiu Wufeng, Gongsun Jing, Youxue, Yu'Er, Mei'Er…were startled to hear the name of the Five Element Clan being mentioned! Chi Zhengqi was from that martial clan too…
Lingfeng tried hard to hold back her tears as she said softly, putting on a brave front. "Is that so? The Three Sages are all super martial exponents and have lived in solitary for decades. It is not dishonorable to be killed by them."
Only one of the Sages was from the Seven Major Orthodox Sword Clans. The Three Sages had all disappeared from the martial fraternity for the past three to five decades; their legacies became the myth of the martial fraternity and were retold many times till today!
The Ironclad Clan did not attend the congregation held by Gongsun Bai. If it were other clans that dare to reject the invitation of the Honor Clan, then that clan will risk extermination but not the Ironclad Clan. The Ironclad Clan was too influential and the legacy of the Martial Sage was still exerting an invisible hand in the affairs of the martial fraternity!
Yi Ping had been with Lingfeng for a long time. From her subtle expression, he knew that she was dispirited and was grief-stricken.
Qian Fan said quietly, "Holy Maiden, where is the Celestial Envoy that is with you?"
Lingfeng said quietly, "She won't be coming anymore. She has something important to settle."
Qian Fan said, "What's a pity. There is another Celestial Envoy that has just arrived today. He says he is her friend and says that he's a Prime Celestial of the Celestial Palace. If we have two Celestials from the Celestial Palace to aid us, then we have nothing to fear from the Three Sages…"
Lingfeng was startled, "What did you say? Quick! Let's hurry back to the Holy Chapter Hall immediately! The Holy Hex Sect is in grave peril!"