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Chapter Thirty: Anomaly
There were enormous cross-shaped stairs above the large mountain. These stone stairs would only appear when the snowstorms stopped, and to people, their appearance was like a miracle.
Most people in Donghu treated this snowy mountain as a divine mountain, not because of the mountain’s appearance, but because there were many ascetic monks living in the stone caves of this mountain.
Ever since that old monk walked out of this snowy mountain, killing his way into the Donghu Imperial Palace just by himself, and causing a great change in Donghu, this mountain became extraordinary in the eyes of the Donghu people.
The old monk had returned to this mountain after killing the Donghu Emperor, Yelu Zhenying. At this time, he was still sitting at the end of his cave. He was motionless, and his body seemed to be the same as the stone statues carved on the walls. Even his features started to become blurry in the dim light.
Li Xixing walked into the stone cave. This old monk opened his eyes, and smiled at the Changling youth. Then he swiped below his purple-red bedding. A gold light appeared in front of Li Xixing.
This was a pure gold mask. It seemed to also have gathered some kind of primal energies of the universe on it that caused it to shine with sunlight in the darkness. There were many unique seal scripts that looked like tear drops flowing from the two sides of the face down to the chin. Glowing light moved through the seal scripts like souls trapped like fireflies in a gold cage.
Li Xixing took the mask and his eyes widened. He said, “This is Wanyan Honghua’s mask.”
The old monk smiled and said, “The wood token that person had you bring me told me the true meaning of cultivation, for me to give up the prosperity and only take what is true. Wanyan Hong Hua should be one of the people who oppose Yelu Canglang becoming the new emperor the most. So before I came back, I stopped by the Donghu border army along the way, and knocked him dead.”
“I stopped at the Donghu border army along the way, and knocked him dead.”
Hearing these words, Li Xixing was speechless. The words were simple, but the Donghu border army was actually full of experts, and it was more difficult to go there than to the Donghu Imperial Palace.
“In terms of cultivation, in terms of killing, how do you rank in the world?” Li Xixing could not help but looked at the compassionate looking old monk and asked.
This old monk clearly killed people more easily than other people cutting grass, but he seemed to be very childish right now. But after he spoke, he inexplicably grew serious and said, “At least third.”
Li Xixing was speechless again. He looked at the mask in his hand and said, “What is this, a gift for me?”
The old monk grinned, very happy. Then he became serious. “Cultivation is all about opportunity. You came with news. You and I have fate, and you are an interesting Changling person to start with. In these few days that I did not see you, you should have refined a lifebond item. This mask is called the Tianliang Tear. Your lifebond item should have come from Tian Liang. These two things had a connection to begin with.”
Li Xixing stilled. He could sense that the mask in his hands contained great energy, but had not thought that it came from the past Tianliang.
“I need to hide my identity, so this mask is very suitable for me.” He hesitated, stated his thanks and then said, “We went into the Tianliang ancestral lands before this. What I refined came from there.”
The old monk did not seem to care for the ancestral lands and said, “This is fate.”
“You came to see me now, what other fate did you bring me?” Then he looked at the mask-wearing Li Xixing and asked.
“Someone is looking for you,” Li Xixing said, “the person who asked me to bring the item to you will pass by here.”
The old monk was stunned. The light in the cave seemed to be confused for a moment. He grew excited and said in a trembling voice, “Where is he now?”
Li Xixing said, “Based on the time, he should only be a few hundred miles away from here.”
“Take me there.” The old monk grew anxious and stood up from his bedding. He started to run in the direction that Li Xixing pointed.
This was a terrifying cultivation. There did not seem to be any vibration of energy in the world, or maybe all the vibrations had gathered into his body. There were no anomalies on his body. He did not look any different from any ordinary person walking. But with a step, he crossed hundreds of feet. It was like the distance of the world shrank under his feet. His eyes were full of zeal. It was like the first time he understood his teacher’s lessons, the first time he felt the primal energies of the universe.
Even Li Xixing could not understand his emotions right now.
This really was the emotions of a beginner cultivator meeting his teacher. Only those who had gone to Changling and truly experienced that battle knew just how far that person had gone off the path of cultivation. Only they would understand just how terrifying an understanding that person had of the sword and the primal energies of the universe. Cultivation methods could be passed down, but cultivation state could not be replaced.
So when he saw the wood that could guide his cultivation passed to his hands, he knew who that person was. Because he was so excited, he even did not notice the loss of vital energy from his body. This was a frightening thing in the world of cultivators, but he did not sense it. He just headed straight in the direction that Li Xixing pointed out, until he sensed the wolf pack, and the presence even colder than ice and snow.
He sensed that the extremely cold presence had been released deliberately so he would know. He knew that person had come. He was excited. He knelt in the snow, his head to the ground.
This invincible cultivator in the Donghu knelt deeply to the cart pulled by the wolves, motionless, the snow above his head.
The wolves stopped, afraid.
Ding Ning got off the cart, and returned a bow to the kneeling old monk.
The old monk stood up, his hair and eyebrows covered in snow. He was excited as he looked at Ding Ning’s calm face like he saw a miracle. He said in joy, “I had not expected you to be alive.”
Ding Ning’s expression did not change. He looked at the monk and said calmly, “Life and death is hard to define.”
The old monk was stunned and then said sincerely, “This is a realm that other cultivators cannot reach.”
Ding Ning said, “I have something to ask of you.”
The old monk said simply, “I will agree to anything.”
“You really are an anomaly.” Ding Ning looked at him and smiled. He saw the old monk’s smile contained a joy that ordinary people could not understand.
The old monk stood respectfully like a junior and said, “I want to ask Guru a question that has puzzled me a long time.”
Ding Ning said, “You can ask.”
The old monk said, “Back then in Changling, you completely let go. No expert in the world could stop your attacks. There were many experts stronger than me back then. You just looked at me in the distance, and saw my flaw. But why did you let me live?”
“I just said, you are an anomaly.” Ding Ning looked at him and said seriously, “The cultivators all gathered in Changling, fearing that a person is too strong. They came together to kill him. But you were different. You were stuck in your cultivation. You truly wanted to see that realm that you could not reach. You had no regrets after a glance, and you wanted to see the path even if it led to death. This is just for cultivation. You wanted to see a higher realm, I did, but why must you die for that.”
“I was originally a child from an ordinary herder family in Donghu. Because we were too poor, I was adopted by the monks. Through my gurus, I learned cultivation, to sense the primal energies of the universe, and then my life had meaning. They led me onto the mountain, raised me, and started me on cultivation. You let me live in Changling, and let me see a cultivation realm I had never seen before. These kindnesses are equal.”
The old monk looked at Ding Ning. “So I treat you as a guru.”
“I am going to the glaciers in the northwest of Donghu, to obtain a sword there that I will make my lifebond sword.” Ding Ning looked at the old monk and said, “While I guided you through your cultivation block, so you are just half a step away from realm eight, the profoundness of this half step is the key. It cannot be said, and you have to realize it on your own. There are many secrets in realm eight and nine that even I cannot fully understand. Going with you there to obtain the sword is in hope that it will be our opportunity, and we will both get something.”