As soon as the party reacted the stone gate, the yellow-clothed cultivator’s command medallion dimmed and the passageway completely disappeared.
Facing the group, he indifferently said, “Follow,” before turning around and forming various hand incantations with his fingers. He then raised his arms and shot out a scarlet and yellow light from his hands towards the huge stone gate.
Suddenly, talisman characters on the tightly-shut stone gate began to stir and it began to release a series of low-hums. The gate slowly opened to reveal a long passageway.
The yellow-clothed cultivator wordlessly stepped through the passage and the others glanced at each other before closely following after him.
Han Li stood at the center of the disciples and seemed to be staring forward with great intensity. But in actuality, he was sweeping his spiritual sense across everything nearby.
This rectangular passageway was a man-made tunnel that lead into the heart of the mountain. Not only were the walls smooth, but there were a few profound talisman characters every couple of steps. Although Han Li couldn’t study them for the time being, he was certain they weren’t only there for decoration.
After walking for only about three hundred meters, their surroundings brightened and they arrived at a tidy stone hall that was about two hundred meters wide and eighty meters tall.
The center of the stone hall had a meter high limestone platform with ten lines perpendicularly intersecting from each side. From the sets of black and white pieces arranged on the platform, it appeared to be a chess game during a crucial moment.
There was an old man and a young boy sitting cross legged across from each other on the platform. The old man appeared to be in his late fifties while the young boy appeared to be less than ten years old. From his flawless appearance, it appeared as if this were a perfect child that had reincarnated.
“Martial Uncle Lan! What is Senior doing here?” When Cultivator Bai saw the child, he suddenly shouted in surprise and hastily saluted him.
“Martial Uncle Lan?”
The grey-robed old man and the Hundred Possibilities Pavilion cultivator were initially surprised to see the child there. But after hearing Cultivator Bai address him by name, their expressions greatly changed. Once they saw the boy’s ponytail, bare feet, and the golden band on his arm, they suddenly recalled the name of a legendary Senior.
“Juniors Du Bei and Yu Shan’an pay their respects to Senior Lan!” In their alarm, the two rushed to salute him.
“Stand. Didn’t you notice that I am at a crucial point in my game with Martial Nephew Hu? Let’s talk after I’ve finished.” The boy’s voice was as young as his appearance, but each of his words carried an aged tone filled with poise.
“As you command!” Cultivator Bai and the other two Core Formation cultivators instantly acknowledged him and silently loitered nearby, not daring to appear sullen in the slightest.
As for the old man playing chess with the boy, he wryly smiled at the three but remained silent. As for the yellow-robed cultivator, he respectfully stood behind the boy as if he were differentially waiting upon him.
When the young cultivators heard their three martial ancestors suddenly call out to the boy as Martial Uncle, they became restless. They instantly realized what this meant and stared at the boy with anxious hearts.
In the instant Han Li saw the boy, he felt his heart drop. This was a genuine early Nascent Soul cultivator. Why had he appeared here?
However, he soon recovered his calm. While he wasn’t currently an opponent for an early Nascent Soul cultivator, it wouldn’t be any problem for him to escape. Additionally, he was confident that the Nascent Soul cultivator wasn’t here for him.
With that in mind, Han Li began to plan for any contingencies that may occur.
In the end, the boy and the Old Man played for another quarter hour before the old man stepped back from the chessboard and respectfully said, “Senior Lan’s chess skills are excellent. This disciple concedes!”
A trace of happiness appeared on the boy’s face, but his gaze soon turned and he doubtfully said, “Martial Nephew Hu, you didn’t deliberately lose to me, right? We agreed that you wouldn’t hold back against me.”
When the old man heard this, his face appeared to have grown longer and he hurriedly said, “Junior wouldn’t dare to deceive Senior. It is just that Senior’s chess skills have made massive improvements.”
The boy smiled and said, “Hehe, I also feel that my chess skills have made quite the improvement from before. It seems that it was quite worth it to practice against those mortal chess masters.”
The boy’s smile then faded away as he changed topics, “Alright, let’s put the chess pieces away. There is business to attend to.”
He turned turned around to face the cultivators that were waiting on him. After sweeping his gaze over the Core Formation cultivators, it finally settled onto the scholarly man’s face.
The boy leisurely asked, “Martial Nephew Bai, how many years has it been since you entered the Ancient Sword Sect?”
Cultivator Bai’s face revealed slight puzzlement, but he sincerely answered, “This Junior entered the sect over a hundred years ago.”
A strange expression flickered within the boy’s eyes and he sighed, “A hundred years! It must’ve been quite tough for you.”
The scholarly man’s expression changed and he forced a smile, “Martial Uncle, what do you mean?”
The boy stared at the scholarly man and said with an icy tone, “What do I mean? As the successor of the Righteous Dao’s Overwhelming Pavilion Sect Master, your esteemed self has maintained you cover in the Ancient Sword Sect for quite the while. Haven’t you had any thoughts of visiting your master?”
When Cultivator Bai heard the boy, his complexion instantly paled.
The other two Core Formation cultivators revealed shock in their eyes and unconsciously took several steps back from Cultivator Bai.
“Fellow Daoist Bai, is Senior Lan speaking the truth?” The middle-aged cultivator asked in disbelief.
Cultivator Bai’s face fluctuated between red and white, unable to give an excuse. After wearing an unsightly expression, the scholarly man said, “Since Martial Uncle has already fully investigated me, there is no use in denying this. However, I will not idly stand by and allow myself to be captured!”
As soon as he said that, his body flashed with white light and he shot towards the disciples behind him. His glowing white hand was reaching out towards the black-clothed Meng Di who possessed the Ninesword Spirit Constitution!
“What are you doing?!” The two Core Formation cultivators furiously shouted. Their bodies flickered with light and they moved to rescue Meng Di, but they were clearly too late.
However, Meng Di managed to react in his alarm, and he raised his hand to fiercely release a dense strike of sword Qi.
Unfortunately, there was too great a difference in their cultivations. The sword Qi wasn’t even able to injure Cultivator Bai in the slightest and was dissipated in an instant. But before Meng Di was captured by him, Cultivator Bai’s body suddenly trembled and he fell flat on the ground. The light shining from his hand had disappeared without a trace.
Meng Di couldn’t help but blankly stand in place at a completely loss.
The young boy expressionlessly rubbed his small hands and snorted, “Your sect’s Grand Qi Hand has been well refined. But you forget that I didn’t come here only to play chess.”
Apart from Han Li, no one else in the room noticed how the boy had restrained the scholarly man.
Han Li narrowed his eyes as he watched the scholarly man fall to the floor and then looked at the boy with an odd expression in his eyes.
In the same moment Cultivator Bai took action, Han Li was astonished to discover that a red string had suddenly shot out from the boy. The string suddenly shot into the scholarly man’s body and he promptly collapsed.
Han Li had initially believed the string to be a flying needle magic treasure, but under his spiritual sense, he was astonished to discover that the red string was made of a dense, icy Qi. Much to Han Li’s amazement, this string was actually refined from an icy sword Qi!
He recalled having heard that once talented sword cultivators reached a certain stage of cultivation, they were able to transform their sword Qi into a string as they desired, turning it into a battle-deciding attack! This was the first time he had witnessed this, and it was unfathomable to him just how sword Qi was able to reach this stage.
The boy turned to the old man he was playing chess with and said, “Martial Nephew Hu, lock him up in the dragon cave. Keep him alive. Your Seniors still have a use for him!”
The long-faced old man felt his heart tremble before he acknowledged his instructions. He stepped over to the fallen cultivator Bai and carried him to the side of the room before disappearing without a trace.
Han Li’s gaze then turned to look at Du Dong. He noticed that his expression appeared calm, but under closer scrutiny, Han Li noticed that he was clenching his hands into fists.
When Han Li saw this, he faintly smiled and paid him no more attention.