Estranged - Chapter 42

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Chapter 42. The sky was about to change

Proofread by P. & Snake & Lucia

It started half a month ago.

Xu Jingxian knew that it was Xu Fenglin of the five elders who dispatched people to find Changming.

She wanted to go with them, but they refused to take her, so she had to stay at the inn and wait for news.

She waited and waited, unable to fall asleep, and decided that it was better to visit her neighbour, Chen Ting. But, strangely, not a trace of him was to be seen.

Night fell, and the world outside plunged into darkness. Following the hearsays, the whole nest of vultures came out. Although the night was moonless and dark, Xu Jingxian could feel them occupy a large part of the sky, and heard their flapping wings clearly from inside her room.

Many years of schemes in the Jianxue Clan taught her to nip her curiosity in the bud. Xu Jingxian stayed in the room for the whole night calmly. After making sure that the vultures could not break in, she fell asleep to the sounds of fighting and terrifying screams in the distance.

Only the next morning, she received the earth-shattering news: Xu Fenglin was dead.

That person who appeared out of nowhere, entered the Nine Layers of the Abyss, defeated many demons at Seven Star Rivers, and fought his way through to Heavenly City to become one of the five elders, Xu Fenglin, died in the Yunding Tower.

It was said that he was killed and thrown down to the lake to be devoured by vultures completely, and his remains were too appalling to look at.

Innumerable people died in the Nine Layers of the Abyss every day.

Many people were powerful enough to command the winds and the clouds outside the Nine Layers of the Abyss, but upon entering this place their spiritual powers were restricted and they could no longer summon rains or call storms; many were trapped in a moment of carelessness.

But geniuses like Xu Fenglin from the Donghai Sect, unless something unforeseen happened, could leave the Nine Layers of the Abyss and almost certainly become sect masters in some time; yet he met such an absurd death.

The rumors did not mention Changming at all since they had only reached Heavenly City a day before this happened, but Xu Jingxian was sure that Xu Fenglin’s death had a connection with Changming.

Neither the man, nor his corpse were found.

And that Chen Ting had disappeared without a trace as well.

Xu Jingxian could only continue moving on slowly on her own.

The food and lodging were expensive in this place. She had almost spent all the money she had. The only way to raise money quickly was to participate in the Yunding Tower competition.

Originally, Xu Jingxian did not want to use this method.

It was easy to draw attention being in the limelight, which might bring a disaster upon herself.

She wanted to make Changming participate, but now that he had vanished, she could only settle for the second best option and do it herself.

Her opponents were not hard to defeat.

Exactly because high-level cultivators had spiritual powers that others did not have, they looked down on the common people.

But, having lost them, cultivators did not always triumph against common people in pure martial arts.

Xu Jingxian’s skills were more than enough to overwhelm these people.

But her performance attracted the attention of a person very soon.

This person was Guan Xiachang.

Guan Xiachang was fully aware of Heavenly City’s rules.

In a place with no spiritual powers women like her were reduced to being playthings under others’ control unless they found a very strong person to rely on.

And so, paying no attention to others’ opinions, she quickly threw away her cultivator’s dignity and latched onto one of the five elders, becoming his new favourite.

But one favourite is enough.

Guan Xiachang did not want Xu Jingxian to become the same.

If she wanted to use her charming techniques of a Demonic sect disciple, she had a bigger chance of catching the eye of an elder than Guan Xiachang.

So, after learning that Xu Jingxian was participating in the competition, Guan Xiachang used a trick to make one of Elder Hou’s attendants participate and compete against Xu Jingxian.

This person thought highly of himself, and Elder Hou valued him as well, but Jianghu rumors had it that they shared some kind of an unspeakable relationship.

Elder Hou being a cut sleeve was an open secret: he had not a single female attendant, but all his guardians were very powerful and talented.

Competitions at the Yunding Tower were always battles to the last gasp. Xu Jingxian’s skills were slightly better, and she was pressing her enemy until she finally killed him.

According to the rules, Xu Jingxian was supposed to advance to the next round and compete with the next opponent and fight in the final battle.

But how could Elder Hou put up with his treasured attendant’s death? He entered the stage himself immediately, intending to kill Xu Jingxian to avenge his lover.

The strong were revered in Heavenly City. Even though Elder Hou openly disregarded the rules, even the other elders said nothing; how could others object?

Xu Jingxian had not even healed her wounds and recovered from her last match, how could she fight against one of the five elders? She was retreating from each of his attacks, and had no strength to retaliate.

But Elder Hou did not just want her to lose, he wanted her life.

His palm attacks were fierce, like rolling thunder, and his silhouette leaped up, like a big hawk spreading its wings, blocking all the ways for Xu Jingxian to turn her defence into an attack.

Xu Jingxian could only withdraw.

But she realized that all ways of retreat were already sealed by her enemy.

Elder Hou was using a whip.

Not many males used a whip as a weapon, and whips were rarely used by cultivators outside the Nine Layers of the Abyss, only some female cultivators enjoyed using it.

But the iron whip in his hand was dancing powerfully like a sword, both gentle and harsh at the same time, straight as a ruler one moment, or as soft as silk another.

And Xu Jingxian’s silk was damaged when she entered the Nine Layers of the Abyss. At this moment, its power was halved, and she was unable to cope with the opponent’s whip. She could only use her thin silk to block his attack, but that exposed a gap in her defense, and Elder Hou hit her chest with a palm. Xu Jingxian heard a creaking sound—her bones seemed to be broken, and she retreated, running into a pillar behind her and spitting out a mouthful of blood.

“I finally understand!”

She was utterly furious, but her smile was only getting more coquettish and sentimental.

“Ah, as it turns out, Elder Hou made his toy-boy come here and then came out himself just to take advantage of this girl!”

Elder Hou snorted coldly, paying no attention to her nonsense. The shadow of his whip lashed at her again.

Even if she survived this attack, her face would have been ruined, skin torn and flesh cut.

Xu Jingxian could not dodge it, so she did not even try.

In the corner of her eye, she saw Guan Xiachang leaning close to Elder Liu, and several other people from the alliance formed at the Rainbow Bridge.

They all chose to remain bystanders in the crowd.

This was not surprising. Who would risk their life to help a total stranger?

They could shut their eyes to their fellow disciples’ and daoist partners’ deaths, why would they care about a temptress from a Demonic sect?

At that moment, Xu Jingxian’s mind was as calm as still water.

She did not expect anyone to drop from the sky to rescue her.

In all these years, she never imagined herself in such a situation.

It is—

All Changming’s fault.

If it was not for him, she would not have entered the Nine Layers of the Abyss, and would have never faced such a situation.

Changming you bastard, when I turn into a ghost, I won’t let you go!

I: self-address for a woman while she is swearing was used. She uses it from time to time

The sun was blinding.

Xu Jingxian’s eyes stung.

She squinted.

But the whip did not land on her.

She thought that her eyes were stinging so much that she hallucinated.

Because she saw Changming all of a sudden.

That man, holding his longsword in his hand, descended from the sky right behind Elder Hou, like a deity.

The sword was raised!

It was brilliant as a rainbow, and swift as a bolt of thunder.

Elder Hou felt an oppressive force strong enough to crumble mountains, but, before he could turn around, the sword had already pierced him.

“Ah!!!”

Ever since he took over the position, Elder Hou had been living in clover, and had many subordinates, so he did not have to confront anything at all himself, especially such mortal dangers.

That is to say, the way Xu Jingxian had just been treated was just a play for him where he was sure of his victory. At this moment, the deep cut on his back aroused his murderous intent.

He growled, turned around and attacked with his whip, leaped on a pavilion and rushed at his opponent.

Xu Jingxian had not come to her senses at first, but now she finally reacted.

If she was not dreaming, this scumbag had actually shown up.

She wanted to break out into curses, but did not have the strength, and could only rest leaning on the column.

No one paid attention to her.

Everyone was looking at the lake near the Yunding Tower.

Changming was fighting Elder Hou there.

Many exotic plants were grown there, being Elder Lu’s favorite things. Xu Jingxian’s desired Yangzhen Grass was there as well.

Elder Lu was so distressed that he leaned on the rails of the Yunding Tower, and shouted loudly at the two of them to go fight elsewhere.

Changming and Elder Hou turned a deaf ear to him.

They were lightly landing on the leaves of the plants, jumping over the surface of the lake. Elder Hou had surprisingly little advantage over Changming, in fact he was losing in every aspect.

Powerful people with high skills in martial arts could see that Changming was not even trying his best to fight Elder Hou.

What did it mean?

Obviously, Elder Hou’s fate was sealed, and Heavenly City would get a new elder soon.

Guan Xiachang also did not expect that sickly man from the Second Layer of the Abyss to have such an advanced technique in martial arts.

Maybe, he was not all that strong elsewhere, but here, in a place where spiritual powers were restricted, he was at an advantage.

If only she had known this beforehand…

If she knew this beforehand, she would have followed them, and would not have given herself to this old Elder Liu of wretched appearance!

Elder Hou was helpless.

He was wounded all over, tripped and fell right into the water, but the assaulting energy of his enemy’s sword made him get back to his feet and fly to the Yunding Tower.

It seemed that he was fleeing in a panic.

“Why are you just standing there, attack!”

He was venting his anger on his subordinates, seeking help from the other elders at the same time.

“Help me kill him, and I will grant you all of my secret techniques!”

Elder Hou used to collect treasures, and some of them were rare and precious. His words shook many people.

If Elder Hou died, this man would have all his treasures to himself, and would hardly give them away.

But, if Elder Hou and this man both died, all these things would be theirs.

The three of them looked at each other, and the elders who were at first only watching from the side, finally moved.

Excluding the dead Xu Fenglin, Heavenly City had four elders.

All of them were martial arts masters.

Elder Hou could not defeat Changming by himself, but the three of them were more than enough to take care of him.

Changming was standing in the middle of the lake. The elders were pressing from three sides.

Two of them were holding longswords.

One had a spear.

They reached Changming in the blink of an eye.

The swords and the spear were unstoppable like a shot arrow.

Three people were coming from three directions.

Like meteors catching up with the moon, like floating clouds and ceaseless winds.

Floating clouds and ceaseless winds: image of an immortal in the eyes of a commoner, a line from a poem called《二十四诗品》.

Three bright rays fell onto the same place like shooting stars.

No matter how one looked at this situation, Changming had no way to escape.

If he could not fly up, there was only the lake beneath him.

The three people surrounded him, and their weapons formed a three-layer qi barrier, giving him no chance to flee.

Xu Jingxian knew that Changming was proficient in the Art of conferring spirit, and even reached perfection in it to the point neither spirits nor devils could attain.

She thought that he would certainly replace himself with a puppet, confuse everyone and suddenly get through the siege, then swing round and catch his enemies off guard.

Unexpectedly, Changming did not.

The rays were getting very close, but he just stood there motionless, as if he was petrified.

Though the emperor isn’t worried, his eunuchs are; Xu Jingxian was so anxious that her forehead was sweating.

Though the emperor isn’t worried, his eunuchs are: observers are more worried than the person involved

Changming was not moving.

But the weapons could not advance any further.

They were quite close, but they just could not reduce the distance.

The expressions on Elder Liu and the others’ faces changed slightly. They all tried to close the gap in silent agreement.

A strong force shot at them, and all three of them could not help but fly dozens of steps back, almost falling into the water.

The black sword left Changming’s hands and flew straight towards Elder Liu!

That was the final thing that he saw in his life.

Elder Liu never knew how he died.

But the others saw.

Especially the two other elders, who saw it very clearly. The black longsword pierced him.

The sword moved extremely fast, and it was almost impossible to keep track of it, as if it appeared in front of Elder Liu in one moment.

Elder Liu’s neck was cut, and his body fell into the water.

The body sank, but the blood came to the surface, quickly painting the lake red.

Everyone was stupefied.

The two elders were strongly affected.

No one expected the famed and outstanding Elder Liu who stirred up troubles in Heavenly City for many years to face such a death.

Maybe because he had been indulging in drinking and earthly pleasures for many years, he had his subordinates deal with many things. Others could not figure out his motives, so they would not dare go against him, and Changming killing him was quite convenient for them.

But this scene actually made many people tremble in fear.

Xu Jingxian noticed that Guan Xiachang was leaving quietly.

The woman saw Elder Liu’s death. Her patron was defeated, so she wanted to slip away at once.

Xu Jingxian snorted coldly, and rushed to block her way.

As soon as the thin silk came, Guan Xiachang raised her hand subconsciously, but her sword had long been taken away by Elder Liu, so she was grabbing nothing. She moaned, and flesh and blood started flowing in a gush.

She took a step back, staggering, and fell to the ground, but no one caught her.

Beauties were only playthings and were easy to obtain in Heavenly City.

If you had enough strength, you had the power to obtain the beauty you wanted.

Guan Xianchang was Elder Liu’s beloved plaything.

But only a plaything.

The situation was chaotic.

Three out of five elders were neutralized, and everyone was restless in their hearts, ready to break the reins and run away.

“Kill all the elders, and we will be in charge! To hell with being enslaved by them!”

No one knew who shouted first, but soon everyone followed, throwing themselves at the two elders.

No one here was born untalented, they were all monks with abilities and reputation, otherwise, how would they have dared to run into the Nine Layers of the Abyss?

It’s just that Heavenly City restricted spiritual power, and most of the people were not as skilled as the elders, so they could only swallow their anger and let the five elders exploit them. But they have long been dissatisfied.

When Changming appeared and killed two elders, it was like igniting a fuse, lighting up the rage of oppressed people.

Elder Lu turned pale with fright.

Even though his skills were sharp, he could not withstand such a tight encirclement.

“Ning Han, come up with something, quick!”

Elder Lu called for his companion.

Human beings die in pursuit of wealth, just as birds die in pursuit of food; no matter how loyal a subordinate was, when enticed with such tempting benefits, only some people like Ning Han could be relied on.

But Ning Han turned around silently and fled, leaving Elder Lu to sink into the crowd that was full of resentment.

Facing countless pairs of red eyes brimming with hatred, he understood that he would be unable to get away this time.

Guan Xiachang was lying on the ground, and Xu Jingxian did not care whether she was dead or alive. She was looking at the surface of the lake.

The numerous rare and precious flowers planted by Elder Lu were almost destroyed, and only that plant that looked like Yangzhen Grass was glowing and floating above the surface of the lake.

Many people were ignorant of this treasure laying in front of their eyes, as they were focused on the elders; some who got the news early hurried to the elders’ residences, in the hope of finding some kind of rare treasure.

Xu Jingxian looked around merrily. She could not help it anymore and got up, rushing to the center of the lake.

The Yangzhen Grass was inconspicuous in the sunlight.

But, if one looked closely, they would notice golden veins on its leaves, truly nature’s embroidery.

These golden veins seemed to follow graceful patterns that resembled layers and layers of heavenly constellations. The whirlpool of lines led humans’ minds astray.

Someone grabbed Xu Jingxian’s arm, returning her to her senses.

She realised that she had already entered the water without noticing, and almost drowned.

She came round quickly, and water poured in through her mouth, nose, eyes and ears. She was dragged out of the water and started coughing.

“That thing…”

“Is the Yangzhen Grass indeed,” Changming said. “This thing can confuse minds well. The one who takes the Yangzhen Grass should be more determined than others. You almost lost your way.”

Then Xu Jingxian did this.

Without a second word, she stuffed all the Yangzhen Grass in her mouth, and started chewing it with her cheeks bulging, trying to swallow it several times.

Changming: ?!!

He had seen many things through the years, but Xu Jingxian’s action shocked him. For some time, it was hard for him to say anything.

“It should be refined into a pill, how could you just…”

Swallow it?!

Xu Jingxian: “Will eating it kill a person?”

Changming: “…Haven’t heard of it.”

People who actually got the Yangzhen Grass were seldom mentioned in records.

This plant of the Nine Layers of the Abyss was not grown by Elder Lu, but rather created by mysterious spiritual qi of the Sacred Mountain Wan; it was the result of an extremely rare set of circumstances.

But people often could not tell good from bad. Elder Lu loved looking for exotic plants and collecting them, but even he thought this grass to be just a rare plant. After all, people could not use spiritual powers here, so no one expected it to be a treasure capable of raising cultivation level.

Xu Jingxian said softly: “Nights are long, dreams are many; no one can take it from my mouth. In order to get this Yangzhen Grass, I almost lost my life. And you!”

Nights are long, dreams are many: while you are delaying things, the situation can change for the worse

She wanted to scold Changming for dumping her and disappearing, but recalled the scene when his powerful sword attack killed Elder Liu, and suddenly gave him a bewitching smile. She got closer and kissed Changming.

Changming wanted to avoid her subconsciously, but the water restricted his movement, slowing his reaction, and her red lips brushed against his cheek.

“Since Ming-lang came to my rescue, your feelings for me must be so deep and genuine that you couldn’t bear to leave me. Let the sky be our matchmaker, and the water be our bed, and proceed to the good stuff!”

While her mouth was blabbering all kinds of nonsense, her hands actually started pulling Changming’s collar.

Changming smiled spuriously, not the least bit embarrassed.

“Haven’t you realized how hot you feel right now?”

How could Xu Jingxian not realize?

After she had swallowed the Yangzhen Grass, all the vital organs of her body and her throat turned ice-cold, and immediately started burning. No matter how hard she tried to suppress it, her mouth and tongue were dry and she was blushing, a fire of lust consuming her body.

Xu Jingxian felt like crying but had no tears.

“What on earth happened!”

“You idiot.”

Changming let her calm down in the water by herself, jumped onto the shore and looked into the distance.

Thick sunset clouds glowed with the last ray of the setting sun.

The vultures will be out soon.

And Yun Hai’s plans are probably already underway.

Just as he was thinking about it, the ground was beginning to shake.

The quake intensified quickly, eventually forming cracks on the surface.

Some people were taken by surprise, and fell into the fissures.

Heavenly City was lit by fires, and was now filled with panicking shouts.

The sky was about to change.

The author has something to say:

A small scene with no connection with the main plot:

Yun Hai: Why is your face red?

Changming (reaching out his hand): Oh, Xu Jingxian smeared it just now.

Yun Hai: Smeared?

Changming (indifferently): She kissed me.

Yun Hai turned around, wiped off the lipstick, leaned forward and kissed this cheek many times.

Yun Hai: Eh? I slipped accidentally, did I smear you?

Changming: …

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