Chapter 17: Interogation
The group landed at the gate's entrance, and soon came a horse carriage, only the horse had six legs instead of four and the carriage seemed to be floating instead of having wheels. There was no one to drive the horse so it seemed to be able to know what it was doing.
"Get on, Shen." Duan Lin said.
He opened the carriage's door and sat down, there was place for only two people and I was the second, I sat in front of him in the well-decorated, and definitely much more comfortable carriage than the sword.
"What about the others?" I asked.
"Don't worry, they will go first and report the matter to a sect elder, then we'll arrive once the elder is ready to receive you."
"Right, that would do well," I replied and relaxed myself.
The carriage began moving along the garden. Plants and flowers, so many of them were there, most I saw in Lucid Spring, but there were other flowers and exotic roses and plants that I never saw before in my life, this one or the last one.
The smell was wonderful, and it gave my old self a soothing sense of security and calmness.
"I could live here for the rest of my life," I said.
"Oh, why so?" asked Duan Lin.
"Well, this smell, this serenity, I admire it. I should have made a garden such as this myself. Well, I guess it's too late for that."
"You speak as if you used to be someone important, especially since seeing your lack of fear in the presence of foreign and stronger forces."
"Son, I've lived long enough to know when someone wants me harm, and I see that you and your sect are decent and wise people. Also, I used to be a city head before I touched upon the surface of cultivation. But it appears that I have done so when I became too old."
"Huh, a mortal city head that became a cultivator. Still, I doubt that the way of cultivation is limited by age. Though starting young is the best due to the momentum, aspiration, and hope of youth, starting late is not so bad, wisdom is also a good factor in cultivation."
"Thank you for your encouraging words, you sound pretty wise yourself despite your age."
"How old do you think I am?" asked Duan Lin.
I took a scrutinizing look at him and said, "Not a day over 20."
Duan Lin laughed and said, "Thank you, but I'm eighty-five years old."
"Holy h.e.l.l! I'm younger than you then!"
"Well, technically you are, that's why it felt awkward when you called me son."
I laughed at how carefree this man was. Though he looked h.e.l.la young his appearance was deceiving. Well, it doesn't matter. The real ordeal will start soon.
And as I have predicted, the carriage stopped, we had already climbed one of the mountains while we were speaking and I didn't notice it one bit. The carriage worked against the inclination of the mountain and for some reason, the pull of the horse never wavered or change, it felt like we were moving in a straight line at a steady speed.
This is an amazing application of force and gravity, I need to study this further.
I shook my head, my engineer self was resurfacing, this was not the time or place.
"Let's get down, the elder is waiting for us," Duan Lin said.
I nodded and left the carriage after him.
Once I was down, I noticed a huge amount of kids, children even, young of age, between fourteen to eighteen approximately, all doing various ch.o.r.es and tasks.
A group on my right was training all together following the movement of a man who seemed to be doing martial arts.
Another batch of kids was hurrying, carrying logs that easily weighed several dozen times their weight as if they were made of plastic foam. And the latter group of kids was either sweeping the dirt with steel brooms that looked to be as heavy as MT Tai due to the difficulty of every sweep, or cleaning the magnificent and gigantic palace in front of me from dirt and sc.u.m.
There were dozens of kids running around all doing a different ch.o.r.e, and none of them were loitering or being too lazy. This place was the place of hard work.
In front of us, at the entrance of this palace that was designed like a Chinese castle from the forbidden city, there was a long red carpet and a chair where an old man with a white beard reached his stomach and a bald head. Even his eyebrows were quite bushy and long-reaching to his cheeks.
"Duan Lin, is this the suspect?"
"Junior greets elder!" Duan Lin said as he cupped his fists.
That's the second time I saw this practice, the first time was when that kid from the sword mountain did that to me, thinking I was stronger than him.
"Greetings," I said as I cupped my fists at the man.
"That's a dry welcome," the old man replied.
"Yes master, but I'm not from your sect, and it would be rude to call myself your junior in this case."
"Good, at least you have a brain on that head of yours. So tell me what were you doing in our backyard forest."
"First of all, all of that forest is your backyard? d.a.m.n! That's a huge flex!"
"I have no knowledge of what Flex is, but from your reaction it must be something good," the old man said as he twirled his beard.
"Yea, really good. I'm impressed, this sect must be amazing."
The old man laughed and said, "Your knowledge of a cultivation world is really low. To be honest we are one of the weakest sects in the Zhou Country."
"Zhou country? Aren't we in Longxian county"?
"Oh, you have really low knowledge, but it is understandable if you were a mortal. The Longxian county is a small part of the Zhou Country, it is the smallest part even. And we're the sect controlling it and the county next to it, Long Yu"
"Right, thank you for your teaching," I said as I cupped my fists again at the man.
"Now, we are at a slight impa.s.se here." The old man said and his humorous expression changed to that of a more serious toned one.
"A couple of spies have entered my backyard and took something from it. I wish to know if you have any knowledge of it?"
Now, this is difficult, if I were to answer wrongly, it will be my head that will roll. Now I could easily deny what he said, but there is always a chance of someone seeing me with those two from before, or even worse, if they were captured and admitted seeing me, which I wouldn't be too difficult to describe, an old man with ugly tumors all over his body, easiest lineup recognition of all times.
"No sir, I have explained to the others before, excuse my lack of knowledge because I can't address them as brothers due to my incompetence in the martial arts and cultivation world as it would shame them. But I have not seen anyone in the forest, and have survived there due to sheer dumb luck."
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"Well, I already know that, but we need to make sure."
"Ah, the man indeed! You seem to have knowledge and knowledge that I wish to extract."
The old man said as he approached me, "Buuuut. Nope, not gonna do it."
"What?!" came the reply of the Hall Elder Hu Tian. "Why not?"
"From the look of it, this idiot will probably not last more than a year. He is inflicted with the Bone and Body Grinding Poison."
The moment he spoke those words, my heart shuddered, I felt like I was about to die right there and then. How does he know of it?
"The Bone and Body Grinding Poison? How unlucky. But, shouldn't he be dead already? I could have realized that he was inflicted with poison, but no one had ever survived and reached such a state."
"I also don't know how come he is still alive, but believe me, torture will not work on someone who is in constant pain. The state of his body right now is so messed up that all of his nerves are fried from pain, the only thing that would feel painful to this man is a stab through the heart."
"Yes, just let him walk, if he has nothing to say there is no way for us to make him talk, and you don't want to use soul search do you?"
"Nah, I'm not that merciless, also they only killed a few Level Three and level four beasts. It's not worth putting so much on my conscious for just that." The hall elder replied while shaking his head.
"Good then, old man, what's your name?" Elder Tian addressed me.
"I'm Shen Bao."
"So, Shen Bao, since you're pretty much dead, how about you make yourself useful to the Sect?"
"I'll give you an outer disciple's position, in the meantime, you could prove to be useful and get some merit points, this way, you'll probably be able to increase your cultivation and probably have better tolerance to the Bone and Body Grinding poison."
"I-I'd honestly like that."
"Very good, then welcome to the purple cloud sect. here," said the old man and threw me a token.
"Take this and head down, find a deacon that will show you your lodging and give you your daily tasks. Though they'll probably be difficult for you to achieve due to your old age and current condition, you'll have to figure out how to do so yourself."
"I've relied on myself since I was born, I doubt I will need help."
"Suit yourself," the old man shrugged and walked away.
Once he left, hall elder Hu Tian sighed and said, "You got a new lease on life, but make sure you use it well. We don't exactly know if you could beat the Bone and Body Grinding poison by reaching a higher cultivation level, but it could slow down the deterioration of your body. I'll leave word with the Pavilion Elder so he could hand you a copy of the Purple Cloud movement technique."
"Junior thanks Elder" I cupped my hand at the old man and grinned.
"Good! Smart. Now off you go," the elder shooed me away. And I left.
Surprisingly this ended well in my favor, thank G.o.d I remembered some of that stuff written in those stories about Dao, it ended up being helpful. Now, off to get my first manual." I said to myself as I went out of the palace.
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