Xiahou Lian speechlessly stared at the green jade pendant in her hand. This senior-apprentice brother was truly straightforward, ah.
(The black-clothed man was extremely angry. If he wasn’t straightforward, what else could he do? Had he not lost enough face?)
In the forest, hunting and being hunted could happen anywhere. At the same time, the relationship between a hunter and prey could quickly change.
Between candidates and between a candidate and a black-clothed cultivator, at every moment in time, there were people who lost their jade pendants. In addition, there were people who, after losing their pendants, refused to give up. Thus, they would make plans to steal the jade pendants of other people.
A sneaky man very carefully pressed himself to the side of the mountain as he followed the path and used the mountain to cover his own figure. He was precisely that poor chump who had gotten robbed by Wei Qing when he was halfway to Liu Guang Sect. Although he had lost four jade pendants, including his own, this sneaky man hadn’t become discouraged. Instead, he patiently concealed himself in the forest and waited for an opportunity to strike.
Perhaps the Heavens really rewarded the diligent. Unexpectedly, at midnight, the sneaky man found two candidates that had knocked each other out at the same time. When he saw the two candidates who had fainted, the sneaky man felt extremely happy. After he carefully confirmed that they hadn’t set any traps, he took away their jade pendants with no trace of politeness.
A similar situation happened again. In the end, the sneaky man took advantage of his agility and managed to scrape together six red jade pendants.
As he stared at the jade pendants in his hand, the sneaky man——who was precisely the man named Yu Hao who would be known as ‘rat’ in the future, looked at his palm with a gloomy face. In normal circumstances, if someone had collected enough jade pendants to pass, they ought to be very happy. Yet, when Yu Hao remembered the deity guarding the river valley, he only felt a terrible headache.
His concealing technique was very good. However, he really wasn’t sure that he could make his way through the river valley under Wei Qing’s nose. In addition, if he was blocked by Wei Qing again, he would lose all of his jade pendants. But if he continued to hide in the forest, he wouldn’t be able to make it to Liu Guang Sect within three days. In that case, the result would be the same as getting caught again.
The miserable-looking Yu Hao was practically anxious enough to scratch the wall. With Wei Qing guarding the river valley, he really couldn’t think of anyone who could successfully make their way through…… Oh, perhaps Xiahou Lian could. Hu TianYu ought to be able to find an opportunity to make it across as well. Ah, right, that person with the surname Xu… Xu something probably had a chance too. However, if Wei Qing wasn’t intent on fighting to the death with those stronger people, and instead wanted to just intercept the ‘weak and puny’ candidates like him, that would be very troublesome.
Just as Yu Hao was fretting over his choices, his ears suddenly perked up. Then, he immediately climbed onto a tall tree using a few moves before concealing himself. One couldn’t help but say that his skill at concealing was extremely good. If the cheating Xu ZiRong wasn’t here, Xu ZiYan wouldn’t have been able to discover him no matter what.
“Big brother,” Xu ZiRong abruptly spoke up. Xu ZiYan turned his head to look at him when he suddenly felt his little brother lightly stroke his palm a few times.
Xu ZiYan immediately understood. His finger also lightly scratched the hollow of Xu ZiRong’s palm a few times to tell him that he understood. However, he still asked him, “What’s the matter, ZiRong? Are you tired?”
Xu ZiRong’s eyes flashed once before he shook his head. When he had felt that slightly rough finger on his palm, his heart felt as though it got scratched by a little kitten.
Xu ZiYan smiled a bit. He held onto Xu ZiRong’s hand and continued to lead him forward, but in reality he had already become very alert. A small and thin strand of purple lightning began swirling between his fingers, as if it was a tiny, travelling dragon playing around. However, this seemingly unremarkable dragon was able to produce tenfold the strength in just a short instant, sending out astonishing destructive power.
The two of them deliberately chose not to avoid that hidden person, and instead walked forward toward Liu Guang Sect, their original destination. Xu ZiYan wasn’t worried that this person would sneak attack them. According to the secret signal Xu ZiRong made, this person’s strength was merely at the ninth layer of Qi Condensation Stage. Unless they were assured they could defeat both Xu ZiYan and Xu ZiRong in a short period of time, nobody would make things difficult for the two brothers.
Things progressed as he had expected. Indeed, the guy who had concealed himself didn’t make any moves against them. Xu ZiYan didn’t pay that guy any attention. His goal was becoming this examination’s top candidate, so naturally he wouldn’t attach much significance to those ‘worthless’ red jade pendants. Xu ZiYan’s targets were those black-clothed cultivators. Just thinking about going into Liu Guang Sect and handing over a bag that contained only green jade pendants made him excited! Ah, how beautiful would that scene be?
After the two brothers left, Yu Hao jumped down from the tall tree where he had stayed hidden. He stared at the direction the two siblings had disappeared in. Although he hesitated for a moment, in the end, he still decided to chase after them.
“Big brother, that person is following us,” Xu ZiRong said without batting an eyelid.
“Hm?” Xu ZiYan was a bit surprised. When other candidates saw the two of them and didn’t get robbed of their jade pendants, they were usually happy enough to thank the heavens. Could it be possible that the person chasing after them was actually quite strong, and was now planning to attack them?
After reading the questions in his big brother’s gaze, Xu ZiRong shook his head. “He’s only following us from very far away. It doesn’t seem like he wants to make a move against me.”
Xu ZiYan frowned. Although he had the confidence to take out a cultivator at the ninth layer of Qi Condensation Stage, just allowing the other to follow them wasn’t his style.
If by some chance a black-clothed cultivator got the better of them and he allowed the person who was following them to pick up a readily available bargain, then that really would be too stupid.
“Alright, let’s take care of them,” Xu ZiYan said in a whisper as he leaned by Xu ZiRong’s ear.
Feeling uncomfortable, Xu ZiRong moved a bit. The warm air Xu ZiYan breathed out had hit his ear, making it a bit itchy. He was extremely unused to this kind of feeling.
However, Xu ZiRong quickly threw that thought into the back of his mind. As they continued to walk forward, he began setting up some traps made out of vines.
Yu Hao cautiously followed the two brothers from the Xu family. He carefully concealed his figure in fear of revealing anything. After meeting Wei Qing and experiencing what it was like to fight against him, he now understood that his original notion about the small difference between the ninth layer of Qi Condensation Stage and cultivating the whole Qi Condensation Stage was utter nonsense. Wei Qing didn’t even spend much effort to completely crush him.
Of course, Xu ZiYan couldn’t hope to compare himself against Wei Qing. Wei Qing possessed genuine dragon blood and his family background was much stronger than Xu ZiYan’s as well. However, Xu ZiYan had his little brother by his side, and his little brother was already at the eighth layer of Qi Condensation Stage. It would be easy-peasy for these two brothers to take him out.
Completely unaware that he had already been discovered by others, Yu Hao was still perfecting his plan inside his head. He could tell that the Xu family brothers’ concealing abilities were far worse compared to his own. In other words, it was certain that Wei Qing would discover them—— That is, if Wei Qing was still guarding the river valley.
If they really met, then his best chance to cross the river valley would be when the Xu family brothers fought against Wei Qing. Yu Hao had the confidence that as long as they gave him a small head start, even Wei Qing wouldn’t be able to catch up to him.
Yu Hao began happily imagining how he could become the first person to reached Liu Guang Sect. Just as he started fantasizing about how he would get the Elders’ and even the Sect Leader’s favour as they began insisting that they receive him as their disciple, he suddenly felt something tighten under his feet. Immediately following that, the ground he was stepping on turned into an immense net made out of vines. It wrapped around him before hanging him in the air.
Yu Hao quickly snapped out of his daze and took out a dagger. He began attempting to cut those thin vines that made up the net. However, before he managed to do much, he suddenly sensed the Xu family brothers making their way to his position. Before he could even think of escaping, Xu ZiYan was already smiling at him under the net.
“Continue, ah. Why don’t you continue cutting those vines?” The purple thread of lightning began frolicking around the tip of Xu ZiYan’s fingers. There was a kind smile on his face. However, to Yu Hao, this was a threat.
Yu Hao helplessly raised both his hands to indicate that he had given up his intention to resist. However, he couldn’t help but curse in his heart. Why was he so unlucky? This time, he wouldn’t be able to keep the jade pendants he had painstakingly gathered.
“He he, dear friend. What noble errand requires you to chase after us?” Xu ZiYan asked with a smile. But before Yu Hao could open his mouth, he added another sentence. “And don’t say it’s just a coincidence. You’ve already followed us for perhaps half a shichen1.”
Yu Hao looked expressionless, but in reality he already wanted to curse without restraint. The hell, was this batch of candidates all f*cking monsters???!!! One Wei Qing was already too excessive. Now even this Xu ZiYan could see through his concealing technique??!!
Forcefully squeezing out a smile, Yu Hao began speaking in a laborious manner. “Ha ha, brother Xu cracked a funny joke. I bear you no ill will.”
Xu ZiYan continued smiling. “Yeah, you aren’t malicious. Then what do you want to do by following us two brothers?”
Xu ZiRong had been standing to the side. When he heard Xu ZiYan’s words, he snapped his fingers and made the net made out of vines immediately tighten. As a result, Yu Hao became wrapped up like a sausage.
Xu ZiRong spoke in a cold tone, “My big brother is asking you something. Don’t speak nonsense.”
Yu Hao began raging in his heart. The hell! Forget about the cultivators who had completed the whole Qi Condensation Stage being like a monster, why was a cultivator at the eighth layer of Qi Condensation Stage this scary too??!!
Yu Hao’s complexion was unsightly as his expression collapsed. Though it was hard to determine Xu ZiYan’s personality, it was a different case for Xu ZiRong. This Xu ZiRong was a genuine, murdering star. Yu Hao could feel the same dangerous aura from Xu ZiRong that had been surrounding Wei Qing. That was an aura that told others that this person disregarded the lives of others.
Yu Hao believed that, had this examination not forbade killing others, perhaps to Wei Qing and Xu ZiRong, he was already a dead person.
Gently swallowing his saliva, Yu Hao quickly adapted to the new circumstances and began explaining his entire plan to cross the river valley. In any case, the worst scenario was handing over his jade pendants. He had already lost them once to Wei Qing. Losing them again to the Xu family brothers didn’t make much of a difference……
“Wei Qing, huh…?” Xu ZiYan’s eyes flashed. The original Xu ZiYan did have memories of this. However, they weren’t personal memories. At that time, the original Xu ZiYan had only been at the eighth layer of the Qi Condensation Stage. He had completely depended on how lightning spiritual veins had very high destructive power to snatch away enough jade pendants from his fellow candidates. By the time the original Xu ZiYan had made it to the river valley, Wei Qing had long left, so of course he hadn’t been robbed of his jade pendants. He had only heard of this happening from other disciples, but the original Xu ZiYan hadn’t cared about it at all.
“Big brother, do you want to take out that Wei Qing?” Xu ZiRong asked.
Yu Hao mentally rolled his eyes. He wanted his brother to take out Wei Qing? This kid was over-exaggerating so much, his tongue was going to grow so heavy it would be sprained when the wind blew. After all, Wei Qing was most likely this examination’s strongest candidate. Just escaping from him was pretty amazing, much less taking him out……
Xu ZiYan pondered for a bit. With his strength, even if he couldn’t take out Wei Qing, their fight should at least result in a draw. One had to know, because of that BL novel, Xu ZiYan had worked much harder than the original Xu ZiYan. Exceptionally good talent added onto diligent practice, plus his extremely strong lightning spiritual martial arts, the difference between him and the original Xu ZiYan couldn’t be described with the simple explanation of, ‘just a difference of two layers of the Qi Condensation Stage’.
In addition, even if Xu ZiYan was unable to defeat Wei Qing, well, wasn’t there still Xu ZiRong? ╮(╯▽╰)╭