143 The Eight Heavenly Dragon Generals
Yi Ping was dumbfounded by the sight that was in front of him as he stepped forth from the shimmering portal!
Ahead of him were lush meadows and rolling grasslands with lofty mountains behind.
It was a sight that he had not seen for a long time and it reminded him of the lower realm.
But still there were obvious differences!
One was that the entire heaven was white with lofty clouds covering it and not a single blue sky could be seen!
Two was that dozens of floating islands dotted the heavens above!
Yi Ping murmured, "I thought that we are in the Stellar Sanctuary? Isn't this supposed to be the eleventh floor of the Stellar Sanctuary?"
Yi Ping was not the only one who was astonished.
Shi Shi, Jing'Er, Yang Min, Yixian, Lele, Lie Qing, Youxue and the Celeste Wind Maiden were gasping breathlessly at the grandeur view!
Lele asked, "Where are we?"
Lie Qing was also asking, "Are we still in the Stellar Sanctuary?"
Lingfeng the Heaveness laughed softly, "Of course we are still in the Stellar Sanctuary. We have never left it in the first place!"
The Goddess Aiel smiled mysteriously at them as she said, "Welcome to the Immortal Realm!"
Her sweeping statement immediately stunned everyone except for Lingfeng, the Universal Old Man, Han Lin and the Goddess Isa!
The Universal Old Man laughed jovially as he patted his pot belly, "Or rather a glimpse of the Immortal Realm!"
Yi Ping stammered, "This is the Stellar Sanctuary as well as the Immortal Realm? But how do we reach the twelfth floor if um…there are no floors here?"
He was actually horrified even though the entire scene looked entirely tranquil.
He knew that he had only one target in sight; that was to reach the top of the Stellar Sanctuary.
Why did he have to do so?
Was it because the very last time that he had seen Maiden Ziyan, he had noticed her woeful look and ever since then it had been etched deeply into his memory?
That night she had said to him, "If you know who I am then we may not be friends and things may not be the same again."
Or was it because she had hinted to him that he was the one that had almost driven her to end her life?
He shook his head in disbelief, "But I don't understand. What is the reason that you want to take away your own life?"
He seemed to hit the crux of her heart; she stumbled slightly backward with blank expressions while muttering, "That is because…"
She inhaled deeply, "…I have promised someone. If someone can awaken the Celestial Alice then I will destroy the Astronomic Stellar Formation on my own accord…."
He clenched his fists and his eyes were burning with fury, "That someone! He is too cruel to ask you to do such a thing! You have almost perished inside because of that!"
She turned around while muttering, "Is that so? I don't think so."
She had turned around and was looking quietly at him, "That is because he is right here now."
Was he that cruel someone that she was mentioning?
Or was it because of what she had said, "If you want to find me, you must ascend the Stellar Sanctuary or look for me in the Immortal Realm of the Ninth Heavens. I will be at the Eternal City that is beyond time reckoning. You must come…"
Or was it because she had pleaded with him as she made a tearful dash out of the room, "Even if I wait for you for a thousand years, you must come…You mustn't forget about me and must come!"
Yi Ping muttered to himself, "The Eternal City that is beyond time reckoning…"
His thoughts were interrupted by the maidens who had never been to the Stellar Sanctuary that were behind him as they too were startled by what they were seeing.
Lele gasped, "This is the Stellar Sanctuary? Or rather, are we still in the Stellar Sanctuary?"
Shi Shi was stumped by what she was seeing, "How do we reach the next level then?"
Yang Min despite her intelligence was too dazed for words as she looked around her as she muttered, "There are so many floating islands in the skies…"
Shi Shi was muttering, "It is so beautiful especially the waterfalls that are on top of some of these floating islands…"
Jing'Er murmured, "Why won't these floating islands fall…where are we?"
Lingfeng smiled, "You will soon know…"
All of a sudden there was brilliant light in the heavens above!
A shimmer in the lofty skies above could be seen that was shaped like a towering figure of a man in a meditating pose and there was a stunning light that was behind him!
This towering figure that hovered in the skies seemed to be shaped by shimmering grey clouds which made his apparition seemed all too real!
Yi Ping was stunned by the sight as he muttered, "What is that?"
He was in awe but he was not the only one.
There seemed to be an invisible emanation that seemed to cause everyone to develop a compelling fascination with the apparition!
The Goddess Isa had turned completely ashen as she fell upon her knees as she gasped with trembling voice, "The Great God Pangu!"
The Goddess Aiel laughed softly, "Don't worry, that is not real. That is what I have thought too when I have first come here in the past."
The Goddess Isa muttered softly, "Really?"
The Goddess Aiel nodded as she said firmly, "Yes, it is only a mirage. Nothing else."
All of a sudden, the apparition in the skies above reverberated aloud, "Welcome to the Inner Stellar Sanctuary…"
The Goddess Isa was even more startled as she gasped, "The Great God Pangu can speak! He is real…"
Han Lin laughed jovially, "He is not real. He is always repeating the same thing to anyone that has reached to this point. I can almost recite what he is going to say next!"
The Goddess Aiel laughed gently as she said, "This mirage only exists in the minds of those that first reach here. How that can possibly happens, I do not know."
The apparition reverberated, "Only the enlightened ones will be able to reach this place so that they may grasp the secrets of the divine. This realm is the recreation of the Eternal Realm. Blessed are those that are able to catch a glimpse of it!"
Lie Qing, Lele, Jing'Er, Yang Min, Yixian, Youxue and Shi Shi were gasping in astonishments!
Youxue gasped, "The Immortal Realm? So that is how it looks like?"
The apparition had paused for a while before resuming, "Surely you must be wondering who I am. I am the Great God Pangu!"
The apparition added with a laugh, "You must be wondering where the next level is. It is the mountains that are just beyond the plain. The pain that is beyond is called the World's End. But beware there are many mountains out there. How do you know which is the true mountain that will lead you to the true Eternal Realm?"
The Universal Old Man muttered, "I don't want to find the Eternal Realm. I just want to find the immortal practice and the way to the Immortal Realm…"
He looked at the Goddess Aiel and the Goddess Isa as he thought, "Why am I in the Stellar Sanctuary and risking my life? We have two immortal practitioners here. Isn't it simpler to ask them for the immortal practice instead…but one question still remains; where is the Immortal Realm and how to reach it?"
Lingfeng was also secretly looking at the Goddess Aiel and the Goddess Isa as she thought, "All along, we have thought that the forbidden Eternal Realm is the Immortal Realm that we are thriving for. How wrong we are! It seems that there is an even higher realm that the Immortal Realm…"
As though the Goddess Isa seemed to have heard their thoughts, she smirked softly. "The Eternal Realm of Beyond is above the Immortal Realm. You are all incapable of fathoming its existence…"
But she quietly kept mum and looked at the apparition with renewed interest…
Han Lin yawned softly, "The highest mountain peak naturally…"
The apparition laughed, "The highest mountain peak naturally will lead you to the true Eternal Realm…"
Han Lin continued, "And it is located in the center of the World's End."
The apparition laughed, "And it is located in the center of the World's End!"
Yi Ping turned to the look at the mountains in the horizon and he was startled to see that these mountains had no peaks! It was because these mountains were so lofty high that it had reached into the misty canopies that were above!
The apparition turned solemn, "It is up to you to reach the World's End and to find the gate to the Eternal Realm. Naturally, the extreme difficulties that you will have encountered and the more powerful guardians that you will encounter along the way is the indication that you are near to the end…"
Han Lin yawned, "He is stating only the obvious. While you may be seeing a multitude of mountains that can be approach from many sides but there are only one straight path. The mountains will get higher and higher as we approach the middle."
The apparition began to shimmer and start to flicker, "…the Forbidden is lifted for those that have reached this realm. Use whatever means you can without restrictions without fear of the Divine Wraths for there are none in this realm."
Han Lin said aloud, "No more. He is about to vanish soon and that is when our true journey starts!"
The Goddess Aiel said, "That is the end of his message."
Lingfeng nodded as she gave a soft sigh, "From this point onward, the Forbidden is lifted. We can freely discuss about the forbidden without any repercussions. But be warned, you are not to discuss about anything that you have seen or heard when we have made it out of here or you will surely die…"
The Universal Old Man nodded, "That is right. Let us be on our way…"
All of a sudden the vanishing faint blue apparition above flickered again as it turned golden as the apparition resonated, "You have finally come! My long wait is worth it! Good!"
All of a sudden Lingfeng, the Goddess Aiel, Han Lin and the Universal Old Man who thought that they knew it all had suddenly turned ashen for they had heard it too!
Jing'Er stammered out after noticing their expressions, "Isn't the mirage supposed to disappear already?"
Yang Min stole a glance at Yi Ping before chuckling, "Maybe this Great God Pangu is getting senile and getting long winded!"
All of a sudden there was a sudden freak of blue lightning bolt that struck the ground in front of her!
Yang Min immediately turned ashen as she fell upon her knees as she cried out in fright, "Great God Pangu, forgive me…"
Yi Ping had drawn out the Celestial Alice as he stared at the apparition, "What are you?! Don't you harm Maiden Yang!"
The Goddess Aiel, the Universal Old Man, Lingfeng, Han Lin and even the Goddess Isa were all panicky trying to calm him down by urging softly, "Be respectful!"
The apparition seemed to stare at Yi Ping while saying, "You dare to be disrespectful to me?"
Immediately everyone could feel a terrifying presence that was threatening to overwhelm them and they were all trembling with fear!
Lingfeng was stunned, "This isn't supposed to be happening. It is all just in the mind…"
The Goddess Aiel murmured softly, "But we are all in Stellar Sanctuary as well. What if we are all in the Great God Pangu mind as well…"
The Goddess Isa was pleading, "Yi Ping…you got to restraint yourself…we are in the presence of an entity that is above us…"
Yixian said, "Ping'Er, you must stay calm. Focus yourself with the Emotionless Rhythm that I have taught you. Perhaps this Great God Pangu is able to sense the emotions of the mind."
But Yi Ping said defiantly, "If anyone wants to get any of my acquaintances then I will fight them. Great God or not."
The apparition seemed to laugh silently before vanishing out of sight all of a sudden to the utter surprise of everyone!
"You have finally come! Good, good, good! Perhaps this time round you will finally be able to succeed. As promise, this is what I have owed you." That was the last words of the apparition before it completely vanished but not before striking Yi Ping with a white streak of lightning!
Everyone was startled!
But that white streak of lightning seemed to have disappeared as soon as it struck Yi Ping.
Yi Ping was grasping his chest but he had felt nothing extraordinary while muttering, "Where did he go?"
As he turned around and was about to ask the rest for answers, he was startled to see Lingfeng, the Goddess Aiel, the Goddess Isa, Han Lin and the rest looking at him weirdly.
The Goddess Aiel was next to Yi Ping in the next instant as she whispered politely, "Can I examine your pulse?"
Yi Ping nodded weakly, "Yes…"
The Goddess Aiel did not waste any time to examine his pulses earnestly before she stammered out, "I think…I am going to faint. I feel a strong intricate energy in his pulse…"
The Goddess Isa immediately reached out to feel Yi Ping's pulse as well as she helpfully offered a suggestion, "Is it the Pangu Intricate Energy?"
The Goddess Aiel turned pale immediately as she murmured, "I do not know for sure…"
The Goddess Isa was smiling, "The Goddess Theocracy has a forbidden legend…"
The Goddess Aiel looked blankly at the Goddess Isa as she interrupted softly, "Do you think he is the one?"
Han Lin asked curiously, "What are the two of you exchanging? Quick share it or I will be mad!"
The Goddess Aiel said quietly, "I cannot tell you. This is one of the forbidden secrets of the Goddess Theocracy. If I reveal it to you then I am afraid that the Goddess Isa will not spare you."
The Goddess Isa added, "Trust me I surely will."
Han Lin said unhappily, "The two of you are the outcasts of the Goddess Theocracy. What is wrong with the two of you? To think that you are still keeping the secrets for the Goddess Theocracy. What do you think Yi Ping?"
Yi Ping was startled that Han Lin was suddenly asking for his opinion. Now that he had reached the Great Emptiness Translucence, he could see the affections within her eyes for him. This was something that he was most afraid of!
Lele growled softly, "When did Yi Ping becomes your friend?"
Even the quiet Celeste Wind Maiden could not resist adding a snide remark, "Alas! It seems that she has forgotten about Jing'Er and me already!"
Han Lin began to fluster as she protested weakly, "Isn't it obvious that the Great God Pangu is referring to Yi Ping?"
The Celeste Wind Maiden smiled coldly, "Oh that I really do not know. He could be referring to the Celestial Fairy, the Heavenly Temptress or even the Goddess Isa. After all, the Goddess Isa seems to recognize him!"
The Goddess Isa smiled weakly, "That is because the Great God Pangu is the High God of the Pangu Race and I am his priestess…"
Yang Min suddenly asked, "Huh? You mean that the Goddess Theocracy is actually the Priestess Order of the Great God Pangu?"
Just as the Goddess Aiel was about to say something, she had suddenly noticed that the Goddess Isa had unsheathed her divine sword!
The Goddess Aiel was startled as she stammered fearfully, "I…I didn't say anything!"
Even Yi Ping was panicky, "Isa, hold!"
But the Goddess Isa was looking at her surroundings as she shifted her eyes around her, "I am too careless. There are actually three super exponents in this vicinity and I have failed to notice them!"
Everyone was startled as they quickly turned around to scan the surroundings!
But to the visible eyes, there were no one!
But Yi Ping suddenly said, "I sense that there are five others in this vicinity…"
The Goddess Isa resonated with her Thousand Miles Divine Skill as her crystal clear voice echoed gently, "I know that you are there. Why don't you show yourself up?"
Three shadows began to leap into view from the horizon of the terrain.
In a blink of an eye, three old monks had quietly walked into view!
The old monk in the middle was garbed in a yellow robe while the other two old monks were garbed in a black robe.
The old monk in the middle was carrying a long scepter which immediately caught everyone's attention; judging by the divine aura of the long scepter, it was a divine weapon and a potent one!
But everyone was trembling slightly when they had caught sight of them; Not only were their eyes were a deep golden in color but their foreheads all had a red dot!
The Universal Old Man had immediately stepped in front of Yi Ping as he raised his palm, "Be wary! They are not to be underestimated!"
Yi Ping was startled for he had never seen his protégé master been this serious before!
The Goddess Isa shot them the same warning as she gasped, "On your guard! They are no ordinary foes! They are all at least in the Greater Stellar Position and above!"
Yi Ping immediately pointed his sword at them as he raised his voice, "Who are you?"
The Goddess Aiel hummed coldly at them, "I am really surprise!"
The old monk in the middle laughed, "We want to be discreet but unfortunately we got found out. What have we here? So it is the Goddess Isa and the Goddess Aiel! Why are you in the company of the mortals?"
The Goddess Isa hummed coldly, "You shouldn't be here at all. This place is forbidden to you."
The old monk in the middle laughed again, "What is forbidden and what is not forbidden? Is there to draw a line so precisely?"
The old monk on the left said coldly as he looked at them one by one, "I am really surprise at the number of divine weapons that are in your group. Unfortunately, it seems that we are three and you are only one."
The Goddess Isa hummed coldly, "Even though there are three of you, do you think I am afraid of you?"
Lele was fuming as she interrupted, "So in your eyes, the rest of us are invisible?!"
The old monk on the right said coldly, "That is right! While the lot of you have divine weapons and some of you have even managed to open your Heaven's Eyes but I can't say for your state of divinity. Alright then! To prevent further bloodshed and to aid you to cultivate your immature state of divinity further, we just have to take away your heavenly relics and your divine swords!"
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Immediately Lele answered back coldly, "Insolent! You dare? Just who are you?!"
The old monk on the right raised his palm as he said quietly, "You have to be polite when addressing me or you be burned in the furies of hell!"
All of a sudden a powerful palm force exploded forcefully outward as he raised his palm!
Immediately everyone could feel that the entire air seemed to be collapsing upon them with a suffocating pressure and that the entire ground seemed to be moving as well!
Yi Ping immediately shouted as he raised right palm forward as he displayed the Ultrapowerful Force, "The Big Dipper Hands! Everyone back!"
The Universal Old Man raised both his palms forward to display the Ultrapowerful Force too while the Goddess Isa swung her Divine Constellation Sword to deflect the incoming earthshaking force!
Immediately there were several thunderous claps of impact as the Universal Old Man was forced back several steps back while Yi Ping was forced to take three steps backward!
The ground below Yi Ping and the Universal Old Man had exploded with a thunderous impact for each step backward that they had taken!
Immediately the Universal Old Man began to wobble before coughing out blood!
Yi Ping was panicky, "Protégé master!"
Even the Goddess Aiel panicky cried out, "Old Man!" But so great was the martial windforce that she was flung more than ten steps back!
Lingfeng tried to step forward to aid the Universal Old Man but she too, was not able to resist the martial windforce and was pushed back!
The Universal Old Man fell upon his knees as he muttered, "I am alright! I won't die just yet!"
Only the Goddess Isa remained where she was!
Lele, Lie Qing, Yixian, the Celeste Wind Maiden, Shi Shi, Jing'Er, Yang Min, Han Lin and the Goddess Aiel were all forced to stumble backward by the earthshaking shockwave even though they were sheltered by the Goddess Isa, Yi Ping and the Universal Old Man!
The Celeste Wind Maiden stared blankly at the old monk that had just raised his palm. He had continued to stand casually on the same spot and had made no further move.
She thought fearfully, "What is going on? Why is it that I have such a loathsome feeling in my heart? I didn't even have this feeling earlier…if they had attacked at the same time then how are we going to stand against them?"
The old monk that had just attacked said coolly, "You must know that I have already restrained myself and have given you my mercy just as Heaven is merciful to us all. I know that most of you are already drained by earlier battles and I didn't want to take advantage of your pitiful straits. So don't force me."
He turned to Yi Ping to say, "It seems that you are much stronger than your protégé master. However, it is still futile to resist us. But how did you know our Big Dipper Hands? You have seen it before?"
Yi Ping hummed coldly and refused to divulge a single word!
The old monk continued, "It seems that the whole lot of you is really pitiful. If you have known who we are, you won't be so impolite!"
The Goddess Isa interrupted coldly, "Don't forget that it is us that have won supremacy over the Immortal Realm and not you."
The old monk laughed, "You have won? The truth is that we have gone into retreat to further our attainments and to avoid worldly conflicts."
The Goddess Isa interrupted coldly, "The truth is that you have lost and we have won. Today none of you will be allowed to leave here alive!"
The old monk on the left laughed jovially, "Shouldn't that be the opposite?"
Yi Ping stepped forward as he managed a weak smile, "Old Seniors, why don't you enlighten us who you are first?"
He turned to the Goddess Isa to say, "Isa, calm down first. Perhaps they didn't mean us any harm. Why don't we talk over it first?"
The Goddess Isa said quietly, "Maybe they won't harm you but they won't let me off."
The Goddess Aiel said quietly, "The same goes to me too."
Yi Ping said, "Maybe not…"
The old monk in the middle said coolly, "She is right. We won't let them off. They have to come with us or they will have to face the consequences!"
Yi Ping was startled as he said angrily, "What feuds do you have? You are monks! Surely you can't be so unreasonable?!"
The old monk in the middle replied, "What feuds do we have with them? They have killed hundreds of us!"
Yi Ping was startled as he looked at the Goddess Isa, "Is that true?"
The Goddess Isa nodded quietly before saying, "That is right. But Yi Ping, you don't understand. We have no other choice."
Yi Ping muttered, "No other choice?"
The old monk in the middle stared coldly at them before saying, "It seems that you did not know anything about what happens in the past. But I don't fault you at all. Of course the Zen Practitioners did not want you to know their dark history at all!"
Yi Ping was startled, "The Zen Practitioners?"
The old monk nodded slowly, "In the past, there exist two groups of immortal practitioners in the Immortal Realm; the Zen Practitioners and the Arhat Practitioners."
Lingfeng was startled, "So you are the Arhat Practitioners?"
That was not exactly a question.
It was because this was the first time that she had heard that the immortal practitioners were actually divided into two main groups!
The old monk in the middle raised his long silver scepter at the Goddess Isa before saying, "The Zen Practitioners and the Arhat Practitioners have been fighting each other for thousands of years without gaining an advantage over each other. However none of the conflicts actually develop into a full conflict between the two groups. The Zen and Arhat Practitioners are in turn grouped into many different clans. There are numerous conflicts among the Zen Practitioners and for the Arhat Practitioners as well. However one day…"
The Goddess Isa interrupted coldly, "However one day, the Arhat Practitioners decide that they want to seize the Stellar Sanctuary for themselves! Of course we won't allow that to happen!"
The old man slammed his long silver scepter to the ground with a thunderous impact as he said furiously, "Rubbish! The Stellar Sanctuary is an artefect from the Great God Fan Tian. Just because it appears in your domain, it does not mean that you are the rightful owner!"
When he had slammed his long silver scepter into the ground, the shockwaves were so tremendous that everyone could feel the depth of the old monk's internal strength.
Yi Ping was startled that the long silver scepter had actually sunk deep into the ground as he thought, "His internal strength is so strong. Will I be able to win him if a fight breaks out later?"
The Goddess Isa hummed coldly, "What a joke. Don't tell it is yours? What Great God Fan Tian? It is obviously an artefact from the Great God Pangu!"
The Goddess Aiel whispered to the rest as she offered to clear some of their confusion, "It is an endless debate that continues to this day between the Zen Practitioners and the Arhat Practitioners. The Great God Pangu and the Great God Fan Tian refers to the same divine entity."
The old monk with the long silver scepter said coldly, "The ten millennium years are up and you have wasted ten millennium years without finding out the true purpose of the Stellar Sanctuary. For ten millennium years, you have subjected the mortals to endless suffering and prevent many from seeking enlightenment."
The Goddess Isa replied coldly, "You are twisting the facts, ain't you? Those people that are behind me used to be mortals and now they are celestial practitioners. Did you not see how we have repopulated the Celestial Realm with them and prepare them to be immortal practitioners?"
The old monk hummed coldly, "You are saying that the dark celestial practitioners are also part of your plan? And even the mortals are living in the Celestial Realm now? One word, the Zen Practitioners have screwed up everything. Now it is time for the Arhat Practitioners to take your place."
The Goddess Isa answered coldly, "I am really surprise that the renowned Lord Tian Zhong, one of the eight Heavenly Dragon Generals is actually capable of such a crude language!"
Lord Tian Zhong hummed coldly, "I am already polite to you but you are simply asking for it!"
Yi Ping was only playing scant attention. It was because he was looking at his surroundings. It was because earlier he had detected the presence of two others. But it seemed that the other two seemed to know that they had been detected by him and had taken further steps to remain invisible!
Or maybe he had been mistaken? It seemed strange that he was the only one that had detected them…
Are they friends or foes?
All of a sudden Lord Tian Zhong said malevolently, "Today the Goddess Isa and the Goddess Aiel must come with us!"
Without giving any warning Lord Tian Zhong had raised his long silver scepter against the Goddess Isa!
The Goddess Isa was not slow to react as she raised her Divine Constellation Sword as she said aloud, "Everyone back! This is not your fight!"
Immediately there was a beaming bright clash that exploded thunderous as the two divine weapons struck at the same time!
The imploding shockwaves were so great that almost everyone was forced to take hastily steps backward or forced to exercise their martial skills to defend against it!
At the same time the Goddess Isa and Lord Tian Zhong had coughed a bout of blood!
It was because their first strike was also their most powerful strike and they had exercised all their martial power as well as all their internal strength into it!
But Yi Ping had raised the Celestial Alice and displayed the Horizon Swordplay immediately to dissipate the exploding martial shockwave and at the same time he was shouting angrily as he intercepted Lord Tian Zhong and the Goddess Isa , "If you want to fight us then ask the other two to come out of their hiding places instead of sneaking around like tortoises!"
Lord Tian Zhong was a little startled that Yi Ping could dissipate their martial shockwaves without any ill-effects.
As he stepped back hastily when he was intercepted by Yi Ping, he shouted angrily. "Rubbish! There are only the three of us. Do you think we need to resort to any tricks to bring your exhausted party down? You have no idea who you are talking to and who I am!"
The Goddess Isa however was looking at her surroundings even as she exclaimed weakly, "There are two others in the vicinity? I didn't sense any. Yi Ping, are you mistaken?"
Yi Ping was startled, "You didn't sense them?"
Lord Tian Zhong hummed coldly as he halted the other two old monks, "Hold. I don't need any help to bring the two of them down."
He proceeded to say coldly to Yi Ping and the Goddess Isa, "If you want to fight me together or even your whole party, on the account that you are all not fully rested I don't mind giving you an advantage. But you don't have to resort to any tricks and should fight me with honor!"
The Goddess Isa whispered softly to Yi Ping, "Even though Lord Tian Zhong is a hateful person but he isn't the type to lie…"
Yi Ping was startled, "I am mistaken?"