Yu Xian breathed out the final bit of turbid Qi that remained from his forceful breakthrough. According to old traditions, he was now truly on the path of cultivation. Once again.
Throughout the night he had used the miraculous medicine and combined its effects with a heaven-defying scripture. His muscles, internal organs, meridians, were all repaired and improved. His marrows were purified, his bones were cleansed and reinforced. Yu Xian sighed with emotion.
'I did not expect the Shattered Veil Scripture to be this profound! In my previous life, I would've survived that last attack had I used this scripture as my foundation...'
The scripture came to Yu Xian's hand only a few decades ago. Although he studied it at length, his previous cultivation was completely incompatible with it. Still, studying and learning the profound mysteries within eventually allowed him to take one step into the Celestial Realm that had eluded him for centuries.
Mere hints had shown him the way to a new realm! What would happen if he were to cultivate the scripture from scratch? That was a question Yu Xian often asked himself. He never could've imagined his idle curiosity would be satisfied this way.
Yu Xian ignored the overwhelming stench and the slimy black mucus that was covering him from head to toe. It had been a while since he felt the touch of impurities on his body. Mentally it was an old sensation, but physically it was completely new. The mismatch was still vexing but it was a lot more tolerable now.
With his state of the mind being temporarily stable, Yu Xian focused on the questions he purposefully avoided before. The reason for his fall. It was an absurd situation for a god-king, but Yu Xian truly never saw it coming. That's why he was so thoroughly defeated, and his soul was almost destroyed.
He had a few hunches, but there was nothing concrete.
The vaults of his palace were full of countless treasures. Pills, cultivation methods, artifacts from the ancient era, and even a few primordial artifacts too. The most important of them all was naturally his own creations. Even when his cultivation was stagnating, his craft never stopped reaching new heights.
Despite the enormous wealth he possessed, Yu Xian rejected greed as the cause of betrayal. Simple-minded lords could be convinced with spirit stones, but riches alone could not explain the scale of the assault.
The next classic reason would be related to cultivation. Strange arts were out of the question because his body was destroyed so completely that not a speck of dust was left. The attack on his soul carried the same level of ruthlessness. In short, they weren't planning to refine his body or soul.
'Only a few of my vassals knew about the Shattered Veil Scripture. Even if they knew, they would deem it worthless. It is an extreme scripture with many unreasonable demands.
I did not possess any other external techniques, and none of my own were ever recorded. Even the scriptures in my treasure aren't worth that level of effort...'
It wasn't just mercenaries, enemy sects, and dynasties. His old sect, allies, vassals, and even his own wives colluded together and killed him. Yu Xian loved every one of them and had trusted them with his life. If he wasn't so busy with dying, the pure hatred his wives displayed would've shocked him.
Despite all odds, he wasn't dead yet. He did fit the definition of death in some sects, but those sects had different points of view on many things. They weren't called insane for nothing.
"Hmph. Since when, I, the God-King Yu Xian, became so blind? How could I not sense anything until it was too late? No matter, once I restore my cultivation, I shall extract the truth…"
Remembering all those faces that were filled with hatred and malice was giving him a heartache. Not long ago those same faces were filled with love and admiration.
Past had to be digested and accepted if one wanted to walk in the path of cultivation. Yu Xian had done that before and knew why it was necessary. He knew about it, but that didn't prevent his body from shaking from sheer anger. The burden was simply too much for this young body to handle. If Yu Xian were to force it, those memories were sure to become a knot in his heart. Slow digestion was the only way.
Yu Xian slowly opened his eyes. While waiting for his eyes to get used to the sunlight, he realized the location he chose to recuperate was in the middle of grasslands, with no water in sight. At the same time, he remembered the mysterious cultivator. He looked around, but only saw a bathtub and a clean grey robe next to it.
The timber had become a boat already. At this point, Yu Xian could only gracefully accept the 'kindness' of this stranger. He disrobed and started washing his body while gathering his thoughts about the 'kind' stranger.
At the Qiu family compound, Yu Xian's first estimate of the mysterious cultivator was the Core Formation realm. Riding a sword was the dead giveaway. Most cultivators stopped using a flight instrument as early as the Nascent Soul realm. Some never quit and instead increased the sophistication of their instruments. They were rare, but Yu Xian knew a few sword sects like that. It seemed that this stranger was one of them.
This was good news for Yu Xian. The previous Yu Xian's memories contained so little cultivation information, the current Yu Xian had become suspicious of this world's cultivation level. Even basic half-spiritual herbs that could be found in mortal lands were missing. The existence of a cultivator higher than the Core Formation realm proved his worries wrong. The embryonic spiritual sense that he just formed further proved that the spiritual density of this world was high.
'Though the Qin Empire thinks it is the greatest civilization of this world, they are but mere bottom-feeding mortals. And yet, the surrounding area is so rich in spiritual power, even my embryonic spiritual sense can detect it.
There should've been a few small sects ruling this continent, but the only sects that the pitiful child knew about are mortal warrior sects. Is this area so poor that not even a Nascent Soul whelp wants to start a new sect here?
This world may not be simple.'
The level of technique displayed by his mysterious savior also supported this conjecture. The healing spell was fast and efficient. All of the internal impact wounds were healed within seconds without any side effects. Healing a mortal was easy, but healing a mortal in this particular way was difficult. Yu Xian's discerning eye could tell the difference. That wasn't just a random one-off spell.
It was a shame Yu Xian couldn't observe the healing process properly. Maybe he could've determined the origin of that person if he could. At the time he ignored the divination performance due to many things happening in quick succession, but he didn't forget about it.
'He looked for the starlight while performing the divination. There was a reclusive sect that used the same medium, but they never interfered in the earthly matters.'
They called themselves Immortal Sentinels but they were divided among many small sects. Yu Xian simply called them the Immortal Sentinel Sect since they all seemed to be fixated on becoming an Immortal Sentinel as they called it. Quite a shame that they were wiped out in the end.
The final technique the mysterious cultivator displayed was the sword energy. It was a pity that Yu Xian's senses were so dull, the only thing he could discern was that the aura was sharp! The control displayed was easily above those that would call themselves grandmasters.
'His techniques are all over the place. His sword seemed to be made from an exotic metal that I've never seen. His clothes looked like they belonged to a young master. Doesn't have muscles but still practices a sword scripture to this degree. His features are both beautiful and handsome at the same time. He could be anything from a local sect master to a wandering poet!...'
Figuring out the origins of the mysterious cultivator would provide a clue to their intentions. The help Yu Xian received was too on point for it to be a coincidence. It was obvious that the man had an ulterior motive, but there were no clues as to what that was.
'If my cultivation wasn't so weak I wouldn't have to give this much thought to this matter…'
Yu Xian sighed with complex emotions. Without any resources, his choices were limited regardless of his benefactor's true intentions. He started to formulate a plan to gain more information as he was changing into the grey robes he found.
Being a blacksmith god wasn't Yu Xian's only expertise. Like many of his peers, he had practiced many kinds of arts. Unlike his peers though, Yu Xian had the heart of a true craftsman. The amount of effort he put into his craftsmanship even slowed down his cultivation sometimes. But to him, it was worth it.
His godly skills weren't lost when he entered his new body. He was powerless and his senses were dull to the point of blindness, but he could still tell the grey robe he was given wasn't normal.
'Is it from a seven-colored silkworm? No… It should be a mutant, seven-colored silk cannot be interwoven with fine metal thread like that. The design is simple but quite effective for passive protection. Metal fibers are made out of the same material as that sword...'
Yu Xian's appraisal came from his mortal senses rather than his fragile embryonic spiritual sense. Stabilization was far more important than satisfying his curiosity. He knew that and stopped himself, but at the same time, he felt a faint pressure deep inside of him. It was a response to Yu Xian's desire to know.
Suddenly, Yu Xian became aware of the metal threads within the grey robe. Each metal fiber was woven into a thread with a deliberate design. Each metal thread was carefully interlaced with the silk so that an ordinary person wouldn't notice them if they weren't deliberately searching for them.
When the pattern came together the grey robe transformed into a passive formation that protected the wearer. The formation could be powered by the wearer's residual energy, or by any energy that is trying to penetrate the robe.
Yu Xian realized the origin of this pseudo spiritual sense. It was from the little hammer deep within his soul. The entire model of the grey robe was transferred to his mind in an instant. If he had a cultivation base he wouldn't even need to touch the object. A simple glance would suffice! He did not know how, but he instinctively knew this was one of the lesser powers of the little hammer.
Unfortunately, Yu Xian's cultivation was too low, and the link between him and the little hammer was too weak. Discovering the profound mysteries of the little hammer had to be done another time. He stopped after 'appraising' the robe.
Although this unexpected ability was a dream come true for all blacksmiths, Yu Xian couldn't feel any excitement at the moment. He was able to appraise the properties of the unknown metal, and was able to see the hidden insignia written with the primal gold essence. A frown started to form as he fully deciphered formations within the grey robe.
From the eyes of a mortal, it was just a stylish robe. Only an Immortal Realm disciple could detect the hint of formations. If a Transcendent spiritual sense were to touch the fabric, the hidden insignia would activate and display the character of Han. The protective formations were adjusted so that even a Qi Condensation disciple would be able to unconsciously provide spiritual power.
Contrary to Yu Xian's expectations, the robe did not contain any sealing formations or any other formations that would interfere with the wearer. Everything was designed in such a way that the wearer would never know if they weren't actively looking.
'As long as I wear this I will be reasonably protected. If I had this robe I could've killed the Qiu family patriarch in 20 moves...
But... As long as I wear this robe, I will be branded with the Han character...'
Yu Xian's eyes turned cold. He was rather sensitive towards betrayals and manipulations at the moment.
'If that's how it is going to be, then I shall make use of you as well.'
In his youth, Yu Xian had joined and promptly ruined quite a few sects. Not all of them were on purpose, of course. He would never destroy a sect that genuinely tried to improve the lives of its disciples. Those that dared to calculate against him though, were a fair game.
Yu Xian checked his belongings. Besides the bracelet from his 'mother' there was also a pair of golden rings. The previous Yu Xian was actually madly in love with his fiancé to the point of spending his entire fortune to buy a pair of solid gold rings. Unfortunately, the gold was only a thin plating, and the subject of his one-sided love eventually killed him.
Pathetic was the word that came to current Yu Xian's mind. That boy had endured humiliation for years for the sake of his love and only realized the truth while taking his last breath. Even then, the boy's grievance was only a vague feeling of anger, nothing more.
After he awakened, Yu Xian was incapable of noticing this subtle detail because he subconsciously overlaid the last moment of his life to the boy's last moments. The dissonance between his mind and body was affecting his emotional stability more than he initially thought. Thankfully, the mysterious cultivator helped regain some of his senses before he could indulge in the foolishness of the pathetic boy.
He had accepted the karma of this body, but that didn't mean he would turn into a slave in pursuit of it.
Yu Xian started walking towards the north to get further away from the Qiu family compound. Aside from fulfilling the dead's filial duties, he had no interest in other trivialities of this world.
Walking towards the north direction was only a symbolic action, because he knew that cultivator would find him after some time. His intuition was proven correct after an hour of walking.
In the distance, a gray-robed cultivator appeared and arrived near Yu Xian with leisurely steps. Being in the careful observation mode, Yu Xian naturally tried to deduce the footwork technique's origins, but as he expected, he failed. Relying on his nearly blind visual senses produced no result.
Many footwork methods used similar principles, especially the lower-level ones. The arrival of the person took mere seconds, but that was exceedingly slow when compared to similar techniques. Either the method was low quality, or the cultivation of the person was around the Foundation Establishment level.
Naturally, neither was probable. The sword technique that Yu Xian saw yesterday night required precision, comprehension, and extensive experience. Even an untalented sword cultivator could see that with their naked eyes. Unless the person was reincarnated or otherwise recultivating from scratch, such disparity wasn't possible.
A third possibility, over-reliance on yang methods, was ruled out by the man's appearance. Many young cultivators relied on their vital yang energy to cultivate. Once they feel regret, such cultivators would slowly try to switch their cultivation methods to those that didn't require celibacy. About two-thirds would usually fail, and the rest would enjoy a small degree of success.
That wasn't the case here. Strong masculine features always accompanied extreme yang arts. This man looked positively beautiful instead. Not extreme yin arts beautiful, but enough so that the extreme yang arts would be ruled out in an instant.
Yu Xian's educated guess was near Transcendent Ream at minimum. Riding on a sword, or using a low-speed footwork technique were just covers. The very robes he was wearing right now further supported his theory.
They both wore the same type of robes from a casual glance. For a Qi Condensation disciple, this was a subtle message that emphasized the importance of the disciple. They were wearing the same type of robes! It instantly evoked a sense of camaraderie in a world where one could die at any minute. In reality, Yu Xian was sure that the contents of the robes would be anything but similar. Which self-respecting Transcendent Realm cultivator would willingly wear branding on his robes? No ordinary disciple was worth losing that much face!
That ridiculous speed of the sword flight was also a giveaway. The speed of the flight was at least a couple major realms higher than what a Core Formation realm.
'Perhaps he isn't experienced in these calculative matters because of a long-term seclusion, which explains the shoddy acting as well. But the shoddy acting could be by design to throw me off, and make himself more approachable.'
The mysterious cultivator nearly dropped his facade at the Qiu family compound. Naturally, Yu Xian couldn't miss such an obvious mistake. After putting together everything, he became sure that it was a deliberate act.
Yu Xian sneered from inside. Which Transcendent Realm disciple could be so isolated from the word that their minds would be dulled to this extent? No one. No one that neared the end of the second step could make such a blunder.
The crack in the facade was the crucial step to convince idiots who thought they were cunning. They would think they held an advantage where there was none!
This also put Yu Xian's blunder during sword light into question. At the time, he was emotionally compromised, and his body was weak. Just as his emotions reached the highest point, the sword had picked up speed, and caused an adverse reaction from his mortal body. Obviously, that was a deliberate move by the 'kind' senior. Would Yu Xian believe that the 'kind' senior momentarily destabilized the Sword Qi surrounding the sword? Of course not.
The result was Yu Xian's humiliation! But right when he was about to mentally recover, the 'kind' stranger gave him a miraculous healing pill as an apology. Ultimately the pill helped his meridians recover, and allowed Yu Xian to do a few years' worth of healing in just one night.
The question was why? Was it the little hammer, Yu Xian's heaven-defying treasure? After some thought, he refused this possibility. No one could detect the hammer, otherwise, he would be dead already!
However, the mysterious cultivator's ploy was undone by his own actions. He kept 'helping' Yu Xian, he kept showing his abilities. Impressing the young talents was the deciding factor for voluntarily letting them offer themselves as disciples.
Yes, this person, for whatever purpose, was desperately trying to make Yu Xian into his disciple. How absurd!
Though Yu Xian's thoughts took a bit of time to describe, it all happened in only a split second! By the time the mysterious cultivator took the last step and appeared beside him, Yu Xian's mind was as calm as still waters.