Nine Astra Skies

Mad Snail

201 The Tianlu Cauldron

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After a moment, the divine light emitting from Little Tanuki's eyes was withdrawn."Little Tanuki, how was it?" Ye Chen saw that Little Tanuki had resumed her usual appearance and questioned her eagerly.

Little Tanuki wore a delighted look. Her eight tails swayed gently as she "squeaked" a few times.

"Big Sister Little Tanuki said that she had already merged with the Illusory Pearl. The Illusory Pearl had stored the consciousness of the tanuki clan's ancestors. They appointed Big Sister Little Tanuki as the new Chief to lead the entire tanuki clan. Moreover, Big Sister Little Tanuki's Astral Body will soon reach Heavenly Adept Rank," Little Wingsy reported joyfully at one side. When he learned that the Illusory Pearl was a treasure that could help Big Sister Little Tanuki, he was jumping with joy too.

"The Chief of the tanuki clan?" Ye Chen was momentarily stunned. "Does that mean the tanuki clan of Emerald Cloud Mountain?" The tanuki clan of Emerald Cloud Mountain had three Heavenly Adepts but other than Little Tanuki's grandaunt, the rest might not comply with Little Tanuki. Ye Chen and Little Wingsy could not keep pretending to be Daemon Kings too, for their ruse would be up sooner or later. Little Tanuki would only be able to make the tanuki clan of Emerald Cloud Mountain yield to her if her strength had reached the Mystique Adept Rank or higher.

Little Tanuki grinned and shook her head, saying a few more lines.

"Big Sister Little Tanuki said that the tanuki clan of Emerald Cloud Mountain is only one branch of the tanuki clan. The entire Great Eastern Continent has over two hundred branches of the tanuki clan in total. There are several million tanukis in this clan, with tens of thousands of tanukis above the Earthly Adept Rank, and hundreds above the Mystique Adept Rank."

Ye Chen was bowled over by shock. He did not imagine that the tanuki clan would be so ma.s.sive. Little Tanuki was now the Chief of all these tanukis? No, with her current capabilities, she was only the Chief in name. Those tanuki Celestial Beasts might not accept her unless she had the power to command such a colossal clan!

Ye Chen would do his best to help Little Tanuki on her cultivation journey but one day, when she had became the Chief of the tanuki clan, would she leave him? After all, that was her true clan whereas Ye Chen was a human. When he thought about this, Ye Chen felt a surge of sorrow in his heart. All good things must come to an end.

"Squeak squeak." Little Tanuki's Astral Body had perceived Ye Chen's emotions and she nuzzled her head against his neck.

Ye Chen held Little Tanuki tenderly. If Little Tanuki were to leave him to lead her clan, Ye Chen would not stop her. After all, everyone had their calling and responsibilities, just like how Ye Chen had the Ye Clan. He would appreciate each day he had with Little Tanuki.

In this world, each being is pulled forward by their mysterious fate. To live freely without constraints, even if one would not blindly follow their fate, one would also not struggle against it pointlessly. This was the philosophy that was closest to the Dao.

Ye Chen had gained a new appreciation of life.

As if sensing the chi flow of his body, the Nine Astra had changed how they revolve. Their abstruse workings seemed to bear a trace of mysterious fate. After they started to revolve in this manner, the Celestial Chi in Ye Chen's body seemed to gradually transform. Not even Ye Chen himself noticed these changes.

On the main road, the figures of Ye Chen, Little Tanuki, and Little Wingsy drew further away. Between two distant mountains, a round, scarlet sun slowly rose. After a moment, its rays had illuminated the depths of this world. The main road was soon filled with hustle and bustle.

At the Imperial Palace of the Nanman Kingdom, all of the buildings were constructed with ma.s.sive stone blocks and were dozens of meters high. Each ma.s.sive stone block was covered in carvings of fierce mystical beasts. Under the direct rays of the sun, they looked incomparably magnificent.

The Imperial Palace sprawled over hundreds of miles like an ancient shrine. A tall tower stood erect at the center. It was a few kilometers tall and soared into the clouds. A staircase without railings spiraled up and around the tower, and there was a platform at the tip of the tower. A st.u.r.dy, bare-chested man who wore shorts made from animal hide was sitting cross-legged, breathing in and out World Celestial Chi. His entire body was like a red-hot ember that radiated scorching heat.

Although the man was more than fifty years old, he still looked the same as a thirty-year-old youth. Two long locks of hair danced in the wind. His body muscles were bulging, covered in various sinister scars. Although he was just sitting silently, he exuded a calm, imposing presence.

The man was the Grandruler of Nanman, Tuoba Hongye. According to rumors, he was a Beginner Mystique Venerable One, but in truth, he was already a mid-Mystique Venerable fighter, almost about to become a top Mystique Venerable One. During his reign, the Nanman Kingdom's territory had grown by three times and he was worshipped by various clans of the Nanman Kingdom as Grandruler Tuoba.

As Grandruler Tuoba stood at the top of the tower, he kept watch with the eyes of a Mystique Venerable Rank powerhouse. All of this was the Nanman Kingdom's territory! The Nanman Kingdom's Tuoba Clan had also reached its glorious peak thanks to Tuoba Hongye.

Among the surrounding countries, there was only the Xiwu Empire that was barely hanging on. After Tuoba Hongye had conquered the Xiwu Empire and obtained its resources, his next goal was to bring the Tuoba Clan into the Central Empire. Although the Tuoba Clan would not even be considered a second-rate family in that country that was br.i.m.m.i.n.g with combatants, Tuoba Hongye harbored great ambitions.

Just as Tuoba Hongye was breathing in and out, a general wearing dark green armor came onto the platform.

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The general stopped when he was five, six meters away from Tuoba Hongye and got down on one knee. He said respectfully, "Your Majesty."

Ye Chen, Little Tanuki, and Little Wingsy had finally returned. On their journey, though they had searched through quite a few mountains and canyons, Ye Chen did not find a satisfactory flying mount. Thus, he could only purchase another Nightwind in a town on the way and rode the Nightwind back here.

Ye Chen wondered if Master Apothecary Xuanyi and Senior Brother Li were here. His Astral Body soon extended outward.

Master Apothecary Xuanyi and Senior Brother Li were in the alchemy room. Master Apothecary Xuanyi was sitting upright at the top while Senior Brother Li was sitting on the cattail ha.s.sock, listening respectfully.

"Li Xu, lately, you've improved considerably in your alchemy. That's worthy of celebration." Master Apothecary Xuanyi stroked his beard and smiled.

"Thank you, Master, for your praise." Li Xu was not excited at all. His progress was too far off compared to Ye Chen.

Seeing that Master Apothecary Xuanyi and Li Xu were chatting, it did not seem polite to eavesdrop. Just as Ye Chen was about to withdraw his Astral Body, he heard Master Apothecary Xuanyi and Li Xu mentioning him, and he paused.

"Li Xu, Ye Chen's talent is truly astonishing and outstanding. He's undoubtedly the best candidate to inherit the 'Tianlu Cauldron[1]'. Surely you won't form any prejudice against Ye Chen because of this?" Master Apothecary Xuanyi asked worriedly. The Tianlu Cauldron was a treasure pa.s.sed on to Master Apothecary Xuanyi by his master. In the past, Lei Yi, Hao Feng, and Yan Cheng had tried to kick out Li Xu, partly because Master Apothecary Xuanyi regarded Li Xu most highly. Once Master Apothecary Xuanyi pa.s.sed away, the Tianlu Cauldron would be pa.s.sed on to Li Xu. Due to this, they were unhappy, thus causing a rift between the senior and junior brothers.

"The Tianlu Cauldron?" Ye Chen mumbled to himself. He had never thought about getting anything from Master Apothecary Xuanyi. Master Apothecary Xuanyi had selflessly pa.s.sed on his alchemy knowledge, which was already an immense kindness. Li Xu had recommended for Ye Chen to study under Master Apothecary Xuanyi, for which Ye Chen was grateful as well. How could he s.n.a.t.c.h the Tianlu Cauldron from Li Xu? Was that not being an ingrate?

However, Li Xu chuckled and appeared unconcerned. "Master, if you think that I'll be distressed over who the Tianlu Cauldron will go to, you may rest a.s.sured. The Tianlu Cauldron is ultimately a tool. You have achieved the Great Master Attainment Level in alchemy, yet you're unable to activate the Tianlu Cauldron. And I am too far from that attainment level. I've been doing my utmost lately because of Junior Brother Ye Chen's rapid improvement in alchemy. As his senior brother, my talent cannot compare to his. If in terms of diligence, I can't compare to him either, that would be extremely shameful. If I still don't work hard, I'll become a laughingstock." Li Xu was endlessly rueful. 

Ye Chen who was standing outside the gates was moved by Li Xu's sincere words. He had never imagined that he had become such a source of pressure to Li Xu nor had he imagined that Master Apothecary Xuanyi and Li Xu would be so selfless. Ye Chen would not take the Tianlu Cauldron. Senior Brother Li had followed Master Apothecary Xuanyi for over a decade, so the cauldron should go to him. Ye Chen would forever remember the kindness that Master Apothecary Xuanyi and Senior Brother Li had shown him.

[1] Tianlu refers to the male Pixiu, a Chinese mythical hybrid creature that resembles a winged lion, believed to attract wealth. To read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixiu

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