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Chapter 133: You, As Expected
The enormous star disk covered the entire courtyard. The star light that came down carried strange power that separated the people in the courtyard from everyone else.
“This is the inherited talisman of Moon Star Sect, the Heaven Inquiring Star Disk.” Huan Zhong detected that Hong Yan was not quite right. Ignoring what Spirit Master Qiu Shuang would think of him, he reached out to hold Kong Hou’s hand. “When Heaven Inquiring appears, the world changes.”
From daring to using the name “Heaven Inquiring,” its extraordinary nature could be seen.
“Hong Yan.” Yuan Chen saw Hong Yan activate the Heaven Inquiring Star Disk and the sorrow and benevolence on his face turned to shock. “Don’t!”
Hong Yan ignored him. She cut her palm. The blood merged with the enormous star disk in the sky. The beautiful star disk changed to a blood red color. This was no longer a starry sky, but a sea of blood.
Kong Hou frowned. She felt anxious at the sudden change of the star disk.
“What is Spirit Master Hong Yan… doing?” When she spoke, Kong Hou found she had a difficult time talking. Her body seemed to be restrained by something. She struggled to move. She managed to turn to look at Grand Shishu and Huan Zhong. Their expressions were normal, as though they were not affected by the star disk.
“She used heart’s blood to activate this star disk with the paths of heavens to restrain the evil cultivator lord here.” Huan Zhong looked down at her. “Don’t be afraid. I will let you walk out of here safely.”
Kong Hou shook her head. “I am not afraid.”
She finally understood why Spirit Master Hong Yan would have such a gaze. She saw through everything in the world. She did not fear death or hardship. She didn’t need any feelings.
“Didn’t you love me to the point of killing my shimei—how about going to die together with me?” Hong Yan laughed out loud. Her red robes flew in the wind and her smile looked mad.
“You are insane!” Jiu Su, who had taken on the name Chi Si, quickly grew dark in expression. He wanted to get closer to Hong Yan, but the star disk seemed to be intelligent and a red mist stopped his steps. He looked down at his feet. This was not a mist, but countless intangible hands that grabbed onto his feet.
“She has cultivated a forbidden art.” Looking at the small courtyard shrouded in red mist, Huan Zhong did not put away the Dragon Roar sword. He was in a highly wary state. “To cultivate such a forbidden art, one has to throw away their emotions, and nurture the star disk with their blood daily to use the star disk.”
Kong Hou frowned. This kind of spell did not seem like a tactic of an orthodox sect. Why would Hong Yan, the sect master of Moon Star Sect, cultivate such a spell?
“I met you when I was eighteen, at the most innocent and ignorant age.” Her black hair turned white. Hong Yan carelessly touched her white hair. When she spoke of the past, she had no emotions. “My shimei died an unclear death. So I chose to return to the sect and became the next sect master of Moon Star Sect. Maybe if you hadn’t killed them, I would have left with you.”
Jiu Su looked at the white-haired woman. Hearing her say “I would have left with you,” his expression changed slightly.
“I didn’t leave with you in the past—how about you leave with me today?” Hong Yan’s smile grew madder. She turned to look at Kong Hou next to her. This young girl was very like her former self. She spun around and around for love, but in the end, she went to live in the desolate and cold Moon Domain Palace. What she assumed was her rescue chose to rescue the people of the world, and abandoned her only.
“Hong Yan, put away the star disk. I can spare these people.” Jiu Su’s change only lasted for a moment. The fan in his hand turned into a sword that carried death and fiendish energy. “Isn’t the ascension opportunity of the cultivation world on Zhong Xi? You want to die with me because you want to protect him?”
Hong Yan smiled. She turned to look at Yuan Chen. “Grand Master, you want to help the people of the world pass; now you need to pass the hope of the cultivator ascension. How can you stand by?”
“Amitabha.” Yuan Chen murmured. He took off his kasaya to reveal his blue monk robes before he walked slowly to Hong Yan’s side. His steps were elegant, and his fat body could not conceal his former handsomeness.
There was a position in the north part of the star disk that was the only weakness of the star disk. Hong Yan knew this, and so did Yuan Chen. He looked calmly at Hong Yan. “This humble monk has helped many people pass, but cannot reach enlightenment.” Today, he took off his kasaya and would pass on a person for himself.
Hong Yan met his gaze. Her eyes were stunningly bright but did not hold Yuan Chen.
Yuan Chen looked down and walked seven steps towards the north. He put his palms together, murmured amitabha, and then sat down cross-legged.
The moment Yuan Chen sat down, the star disk shook. The star mansions on the disk were lit up. The wind rose and thunder roared.
Kong Hou felt that everything around her was split apart. She looked down at her empty hand. Huan Zhong had disappeared. Her grand shishu and Sect Master Jin Yue also disappeared. Underneath her feet was not the earth but deep blue water. Above her head was the endless starry sky.
“Before the star disk is defeated, you can never leave.” In the red mist, Hong Yan appeared. With her red robes, her hair looked even more white, and almost transparent. Kong Hou had thought that Spirit Master Hong Yan did not like her. But all the madness and determination seemed to have faded from the Spirit Master Hong Yan standing not far from her. The other looked at her calmly.
“The seven stars, all of us are the stars. You are the only exception.” Hong Yan lifted her white hand and pointed at the Big Dipper in the sky. “The heavens will not allow cultivators to ascend, but left a hope for us.”
“I do not understand.” Kong Hou looked at Hong Yan. “Why am I the exception?”
Hong Yan, Chi Si, Huan Zhong, Sect Master Jin Yue, Grand Shishu, Hong Mian, Grandmaster Yuan Chen. Coincidentally seven people. Was her arrival an accident?
Hong Yan gave a smile. Her smile looked beautiful, like the arrival of spring rains with warmth and sweetness. She was a completely different person from her madness previously.
“Because you are the exception to the cultivation world.” Hong Yan was pale. Her eyes brightened as she looked at Kong Hou. “Love is merely a worldly possession. Are you willing to give up?”
Kong Hou shook her head. “Spirit Master, I am not like Spirit Master.” She already guessed that there had been love conflicts between Spirit Master Hong Yan, Chi Si and Grandmaster Yuan Chen. But there were many things in the world. A person would only know if something was sweet or bitter if they experienced it for themselves.
“If you can ascend if you abandon love, will you still persist?” Hong Yan looked at the young girl in front of her. Her gaze was clear, her smile innocent, and she had none of the weariness of time or the grief at the eternal separation between life and death.
A girl like this was too beautiful, so beautiful that Hong Yan couldn’t help but think of the past.
“Spirit Master, love is not a weakness to cultivation.” Kong Hou detected that Hong Yan’s emotions were not quite right, but at this time, she still chose to refuse. “This junior cultivates a path of doing as one wishes. Love is love, joy is joy; I do not want to give them up.”
Hong Yan looked at her for a long time. “I understand.”
Kong Hou sighed in relief. It appeared this Spirit Master Hong Yan was not a difficult person to talk to.
Just as this thought appeared, she suddenly saw Spirit Master Hong Yan spread her hands. She summoned together all the stars in the sky to form an enormous door of light. Hong Yan grabbed her and shoved her through the door.
The powerful force behind the door caused Kong Hou to fall down. However, she could not scream when she opened her mouth.
Maybe it was that the wind of the star door was too strong or that she had an illusion due to fear, but she saw Spirit Master Hong Yan stand at the doorway and bow deeply towards her.
Her silver-white hair and red robes wrapped together like light and blood. Kong Hou felt suffocated and fainted.
Hong Yan looked at Kong Hou who disappeared through the door and threw up a mouthful of blood as she covered her chest. Hearing footsteps behind her, she waved a hand to put away the star door and turned.
“Spirit Master, may I ask where you sent Kong Hou?” Huan Zhong had once given Kong Hou a ribbon with a thread of his consciousness. But now he discovered that his thread of consciousness had disappeared.
Hong Yan glanced at him. She covered her mouth and laughed softly. “Spirit Master Zhong Xi, did you know that Moon Star Sect has a secret method to use the power of stars to create a small world? During the time you talk to me, maybe a year has already passed in the small world.”
“Why are you doing this?” Huan Zhong raised the Dragon Roar sword. The dragon on the sword was almost tangible. He felt murderousness form.
With Hong Yan’s cultivation, she could naturally feel Huan Zhong’s murderousness. She laughed softly. “As expected of a sword cultivator—you are different in conduct from a Buddhist cultivator.”
“I am not the Buddha, I will not ferry through all the people—I just want one.” His powerful sword essence rose. Huan Zhong’s expression was cold. “Open the door. I want to find her.”
“Spirit Master Zhong Xi is joking. If the star fate door can be opened so easily, why would Moon Star Sect be so careful each time we divine the heavens?” Hong Yan suddenly laughed. “Love, till death do us part—what is the good in these useless things? Better to advance in cultivation and ascend.”
Huan Zhong’s expression grew better as he detected from Hong Yan’s speech that Kong Hou was not in danger. “You prepared to send your apprentice to me not because it would help me avoid my ordeal, correct?”
“You are wrong. I raised her originally to help you avoid the great ordeal in your life.” Hong Yan shook her head. “But I found later it was useless.”
Zhong Xi looked at her.
Hong Yan laughed madly and disappeared in front of Huan Zhong.
Huan Zhong looked at the empty surroundings. He didn’t chase after Hong Yan but sat down and attempted to connect with Kong Hou’s consciousness.
Kong Hou felt that Spirit Master Hong Yan must really dislike love. Since she woke up, she became one pitiful woman after another. Poisoned, plotted against, abandoned, neglected. These men either had power, handsome appearances, or the shrewdness to conquer the world. But no matter how they were, they treated the women around them like nothing.
After being pushed off the carriage once again, Kong Hou climbed back up and sighed as she looked at the calvary chasing her. “These men are really not good.”
The words seemed to be the key to untying this illusion. Kong Hou no longer changed into a pitiful woman abandoned by a man. She stood in front of the pagoda. There was no one in front of the pagoda, just two rows of strange beasts. Kong Hou had seen these beasts in books before. They were divine beasts who had disappeared long ago.
The surroundings were pitch black, with only one path to the pagoda. She had no other choice.
She opened the door to the first level of the pagoda. Carved into the wall were the words “Twinkling Brilliance.”
While Kong Hou was not skilled in star divination, she knew that “Twinkling Divination” was also “Military Breaking.”
This pagoda looked ordinary, but when Kong Hou stepped in, she landed in a strange formation. Inside were killing copper people, handsome men, and all kinds of secret cultivation methods and pill medicines.
There were all kinds of formations in the world, and different methods to defeat them. In order to defeat the formation, Kong Hou worked like a dog. She even ignored what dress she wore and what hairstyle she had.
When she left one formation, she landed in another. Kong Hou finally understood why the disciples of Moon Star Sect were so obedient. If she encountered a master like Spirit Master Hong Yan, she would also become obedient. This kind of torment tactic was a bloodless one.
She didn’t know how many formations she defeated or how long she took. Kong Hou dizzily climbed out of the latest formation and heard the sound of the door opening.
She looked and saw the door between the first and second levels was open. But she felt no happiness and lay back on the stairs despairingly.
As a disciple of Splendid Cloud Sect, how could she persist in cultivating without slacking, eating or drinking? She did not want to abandon the virtues of her sect. But this pagoda did not spoil her like her sect elders. She just looked at herself in the mirror and ate two spirit fruits before she was pushed into the second level by the wind.
Holding her head that had hit something, Kong Hou dizzily stood up. She took out a mirror to look at her reflection and sighed in relief.
Good, she hadn’t been disfigured.
Shoving the mirror back into her storage ring, Kong Hou said to the empty surroundings, “Next time, could we be more gentle and not hit the face?”
The empty tower did not respond.
“Hiss.” Kong Hou rubbed the bruise on her head. She looked at the two words on the wall: “Star Opener.”
Among the seven fate stars, Star Opener was called the Martial Tune Star. Kong Hou thought of this and then she saw the surroundings change. A row of armored soldiers stood in front of her. These people held different weapons and were all higher in cultivation than Kong Hou.
Before she could react, one soldier attacked her. She hurriedly used the Water Frost sword to block. The powerful force caused her to retreat several steps and almost fall down. In this moment, she regretted that she had not practiced her swordsmanship well because she was a sound cultivator. In single close-combat battle like this, sound cultivators like her were fragile. If she took out Phoenix Head, she feared she would be crushed by the other’s mace before she could even play a note.
Seeing the mace about to fall again, Kong Hou hurriedly dodged. A sword move that Huan Zhong practiced daily flashed through her mind. She managed to dodge again, flew behind the soldier with the mace, and stabbed.
The Water Frost sword could not penetrate the gold armor of the enemy.
The mace hit Kong Hou. She rolled several times on the ground. She cast a spell with her hand and Water Frost shone brightly. It flew in front of the soldier wielding the mace and used fancy swordsmanship to affect the soldier’s movements.
“I dare to swear on the eighteen generations of the Ji family ancestors that this soldier definitely had no grace in life.” Taking advantage of this opportunity, Kong Hou took Phoenix Head. She quickly plucked the chords, and countless rays of golden light trapped the soldier in a cage of light. She had learned this move from Qiu Shuang shishu. She originally planned on using it to trap small animals and such. She hadn’t expected to use it like this.
It could be seen there was no end to learning. Even the smallest bit of knowledge had great use.
“Damn!” Just after defeating the soldier with the mace, a soldier with a nine segment chain whip suddenly moved and whipped towards Kong Hou. If Kong Hou had not reacted in time, she would have taken the blow head-on.
Phoenix Head and Water Frost sword had no advantages against the whip. No matter how quick Kong Hou was, she received several blows.
Of all martial arts in the world, only speed was invincible. In order to avoid the attacks of the nine segment whip, she flew faster, and had the time to use spells to make trouble for the general with the nine segment whip. After fighting a day and night with the soldier with the nine segment chain whip, she used a spirit art to manifest a bow. An arrow with spirit energy pierced the other’s heart before they stopped.
In her entire life, Kong Hou had never been beaten so badly. Fortunately, these soldiers did not have intentions of killing her. Every attack would avoid her fatal points. When she won over everyone
and stood up, breathing weakly, Kong Hou found the wall was uneven as she shoved two vital energy pills into her mouth. She turned to look closer. Carved into the wall were the histories of these generals.
They had given their lives to protect the people. Some returned with honor to their homes, others died on the battlefield, and some died horrible deaths due to the suspicions of emperors. But each of these people were famed generals that protected their countries and homes. The soldier puppets in this tower had been made to copy the abilities of these generals.
Kong Hou changed into clean clothing. Then she took a few steps back and bowed to the list of names on the wall, and then bowed to the puppets. While these soldier puppets were not gentle in beating her, the brave souls that protected their countries were worthy of respect regardless of where they were.
After Kong Hou bowed, these puppets seemed to come alive and returned her bow. The sound of hooves sounded. A wild wind rushed at her. Kong Hou was forced to close her eyes. When she opened her eyes again, there were no puppets, only the door between the second and third levels.
Pusing open the door carved with stars, Kong Hou saw the characters on the wall.
Jade Sighting Tube.
Jade Sighting Tube, Honest and Loyal Star.
Kong Hou thought she would be beaten up again but this level was empty. She sat here for a long time. She raged, she complained about Hong Yan, she missed Huan Zhong and the other members of Splendid Cloud Sect. When the door opened, her heart was already as serene as water.
They said that the Honest and Loyal Star was irritable and easy to anger. Its personality was both good and evil, hard to control. Was she trapped here for so long to wear down her temper?
After realizing this, Kong Hou’s heart grew calm. She only wanted to take Huan Zhong along and beat up Spirit Master Hong Yan after she left here.
The next level was Celestial Balance, the Literary Art Star.
The Literary Art Star was famed in the mortal realm. The scholars admired him, the writers revered him, the people liked using the Literary Art Star to praise the officials with artistic talents.
Kong Hou was not beaten in this level nor had to face an empty space. But she had to copy books. There was an unknown amount of books that had accumulated over millennia. There were cultivation methods, spells and even novels.
Even the best novels would become boring after a time. She felt she would tremble if she heard the words Literary Art Star in the future.
None of the levels were dangerous to Kong Hou’s life. When she finally passed out of Celestial Pivot level, the pagoda disappeared. Under her feet were the paths of the seven star mansions. On an altar ahead of her was a red wooden box.
The wooden box was carved finely, and seemed to be written with “open me” all over it.
But Kong Hou did not take it, and instead took several steps back.
Master and the shixiong had told her she could not take items of unknown origins that were tempting.
She took another step back. The altar moved a step towards her. Kong Hou continued to retreat. The altar continued to follow. Even though there was no one else here, Kong Hou still felt the atmosphere was slightly awkward.
“Why do you not take it?” Hong Yan suddenly appeared and looked on as Kong Hou continued to retreat. “Do you know what is inside?”
“What is it?” Kong Hou did not dare to take the strange box, but the deep rooted-curiosity as a Splendid Cloud Sect disciple caused her to speak.
“The space behind the star mansion door was created by past generations of Moon Star Sect masters using spirit energy. My ancestors divined that the cultivation world would have a danger where no one could ascend so they left this behind.” Hong Yan looked down, her tone emotional and filled with sorrow. “The meaning of Moon Star Sect’s existence is to guide the cultivation world. The cultivation world has not had anyone ascend in a thousand years. If no one else ascends, our Lingyou World will be abandoned by the heavenly path and have no more opportunities to ascend.”
She looked sorrowfully at Kong Hou. “When each of us is born, we all have our fates and responsibilities. No one is an exception.”
Kong Hou bit her lower lip. “We cannot resist?”
“You can.” Hong Yan looked down. “If you are able to abandon everything. Your loved ones, your friends, your sect fellows…”
“What is Spirit Master’s fate?” Kong Hou asked.
“To guide the cultivation world, to find the opportunity for Lingyou World.” Hong Yan’s figure blurred. “I was once discontent, I hated, I resisted.”
But she was the female sect master of Moon Star Sect even now. Kong Hou knew she chose her fate and responsibilities in the end.
“Open it.” Hong Yan looked at Kong Hou and gave a smile. “This is the only thing that Moon Star Sect can do for Lingyou World.”
Kong Hou noticed that Hong Yan’s figure was blurring and Hong Yan’s consciousness was fading. She looked up at the sky. How long would this Heaven Inquiring Star Disk last?
She looked down at the box in front of her and slowly opened it.
Inside were seven balls of silver light. Kong Hou stilled. Phoenix Head suddenly cried from her hair, turning into an intangible phoenix shadow that swallowed these balls of light.
Oh, no. She didn’t know that her lifebond weapon was so gluttonous. What should she tell Spirit Master Hong Yan?
She looked guiltily at Hong Yan. “Apologies…”
“As expected.” Hong Yan laughed joyously. She was only a shadow now. “It really is you…”
“Spirit Master?” Watching as Spirit Master Hong Yan disappeared, Kong Hou took down the Phoenix Head hairpin. The light on it was brighter, and seemed to have an ethereal aura.
Suddenly, her body felt heavy. When she opened her eyes again, there was bottomless water under her feet, and Huan Zhong sitting less than ten steps away from her.
Before she could speak, Huan Zhong opened his eyes.
“Kong Hou.” Huan Zhong flashed in front of Kong Hou and gripped her hand. “How are you?”
Kong Hou looked dazedly at Huan Zhong. She didn’t know how long had passed on the outside, but she felt that she had not seen him for a decade. Her longing finally ended when he held her hand.
She fell into Huan Zhong’s arms. “Huan Zhong, I was tormented so badly.”
No matter what, act spoiled first.
The moment Kong Hou fell into Huan Zhong’s arms, the illusion disappeared. Huan Zhong hugged Kong Hou. He met Spirit Master Qiu Shuang’s gaze. The night wind blew.
Woosh, woosh, woosh.
Huan Zhong took a step back, holding Kong Hou. He docilely put away the Dragon Roar sword.
Translator Ramblings: Poor Hong Yan …
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