xLi Chengfeng peered closer to see a man in long, flowing grey robes. He sat majestically at the front of the hall and was sipping tea. His face could not be seen clearly.
Madam Xie heard movement from the door and looked up to see Li Chengfeng and Zhao Xiaobao standing at the door. She glared and signalled with a look for Li Chengfeng to enter and kneel by her side.
Li Chengfeng wasn’t afraid of anyone except his mother, so he immediately ran to his mother, lowered his head and knelt by her side.
His father, Li Chun, looked happy as he said loudly, “Master, this is my son! Look at him! When my son was born years ago…”
Madam Xie pinched him hard at his waist. He yelped in pain immediately as Madam Xie smiled apologetically, “Master, why don’t you take a look at him? Is my son what the Spiritual Mountain Sect is looking for?”
What? The Spiritual Mountain Sect?
When he heard these three words, Li Chengfeng was scared out of his wits, he was very close to leaping up and dashing out of the door.
He forced himself to calm down despite his racing heart and gave Xiaobao a look- but Xiaobao was already shaking like a leaf!
After a moment, the man on the seat finally demanded coldly, “Chin up!”
How would Li Chengfeng dare look up?!
He shook his head as hard as a rattle, saying, “I wouldn’t dare offend your magnificence by doing that, Master!”
Madam Xie huffed, irritated, “Just look up when you’re told to, the master needs to check you out!”
Li Chengfeng looked up fearfully. The man on the seat was stout. His glare was deadly, his features fierce- this was Sun Boren, the man who fell into the pool of human waste because of him!
And as if proving this point, the handmaiden serving him by the side seemed to be instinctively looking away. She was trying to avoid the subtle smell coming off him!
Li Chengfeng’s heart sank. He could not tell anyone how awful he felt. What did I do to deserve today? Dear god, why are you doing this to me?!
When Sun Boren saw Li Chengfeng, he thought Chengfeng’s physique looked very familiar and his temper flared up instantly. However, when Li Chengfeng looked up, he merely saw two bright eyes, eyebrows as thick as ink, a slanting hairline and a tall nose. This was a handsome man, completely different from the disgusting idiot he met previously.
Sun Boren did not think such a coincidence would be possible so his anger dissipated quickly. He said mildly, “The Grand Ceremony of Spiritual Mountain Sect occurs only once a decade, why do you think you… deserve this opportunity?”
Madam Xie’s face changed. Suppressing her surprise and anger, she smiled awkwardly, “Master, our Li family has not missed our offering payments even once. We’ve served the Spiritual Mountain Sect for ten years now, even if we haven’t contributed anything significant, at least…”
Sun Boren looked arrogant. He snickered and interrupted Madam Xie, “Cheng’an City has twelve families, and they have served the Spiritual Mountain Sect longer than the Li family. Forget about the rest, the Sun family from the southern region of the city has served the sect for 53 years and they’ve never been invited! The Zhao family of the west has brought offerings of money and grains three times yours, so tell me, why would I choose the Li family?”
Madam Xie, still kneeling, was trembling slightly. Her fingers dug hard into the stone bricks in the ground, bearing the humiliation and anger she felt. Almost begging, she said, “Master Lingyun promised me years ago that as long as we paid ten years’ worth of offerings, we’ll be able to anter the Spiritual Mountain Sect! That was what Master Lingyun promised me!”
Sun Boren laughed. “Master Lingyun? Who? Why haven’t I heard of him?”
She looked up in panic. “What?”
Li Chengfeng listened solemnly, not bold enough to speak. He had never understood why his mother was so frugal all the time. He was forced to be frugal since young, and he had no choice but to make a living for himself at a very young age. When she realised he could keep himself alive, she also forced him to contribute to the family earnings.
As he grew older, he devised even more ways to earn money and got increasingly bolder. He earned huge sums from swindling, cheating and lying but most of the time, all the money would disappear imemdiately after he brought it home. Their house had never been renovated nor their servants paid a copper more. If it weren’t for Madam Xie’s responsibility, their simple diet and her likability, this household would’ve collapsed a long time ago.
Li Chengfeng finally realised that his mother had been so stingy- so stingy she would’ve broken a copper into half if she could- all so that he could enter the Spiritual Mountain Sect and become a member of the top caste of society-- a first-class cultivator!
One could rely on intense studying, training and cultivation to enter the scholar and warrior classes but being a cultivator was fate!
In the past century, extremely few people had been able to cross from the second, third, even commoner’s class up to the first.
However, the more difficult it was, the more desperate people became because they knew that when they could become a cultivator, their hard work would be repaid by thousand-fold. Being a cultivator brought prosperity to the family, they would be promoted to godlike status in society hence every family worked to achieve it even at the cost of their own lives!
There were many families who became little kings of different regions only because one member became a cultivator. Then now they did not need to take any crap from anyone!
The path to cultivator-ship could very well ruin families!
Li Chengfeng often heard of this but now he sincerely felt the suffering and humiliation in this saying!
Madam Xie scrambled forward frantically, kowtowing fervently. Her head knocked loudly on the hard stone floor. It struck twice and her forehead was already purple-green; on the third time, fresh blood could be seen but Madam Xie did not seem to notice. She kowtowed vigorously as she said, “Show mercy, Master! Show mercy, Master!”
Li Chengfeng felt a surge of humiliation and anger, his chest almost exploding with suppressed emotions. His eyes reddened instantly as he felt a gush of rage. Chengfeng bellowed, “Mother! Our Li family…”
After arriving in this world for so many years, they had both forged a deep relationship with spending so much time together. Li Chengfeng had long recognised the Li family as his own, taking this stern but loving Madam Xie as his own biological mother.
When she saw Li Chengfeng about to explode, Madam Xie turned around immediately with the deadliest of glares. Blood dripped down her forehead as she scolded sternly, “Shut your mouth!”
Li Chengfeng was stunned. He just felt a deep pain in his throat, his voice stuck.
In the past, he had always secretly found cultivation repulsive. The reason was simple- five generations of Li patriarchs had suddenly gone insane from cultivation. Would he be any different if he did the same? If it weren’t for this, which modern human wouldn’t want to cultivate upon arriving in an ancient world?
But what was the probability of a Li heir going insane? A hundred percent! All of the patriarchs who attempted breakthrough went insane!
Wouldn’t you be terrified too?
Li Chengfeng didn’t know if other people in this position would be afraid, but he was. Even a stubborn man like him could make a decisive conclusion like this! He did not want to be a crazy old man like his father. His father sometimes couldn’t control his bowel movements too.
But… at this moment, he could deeply feel the oppression from being in a lower class.
He couldn’t believe Sun Boren, a man of the lowest rank in the Spiritual Mountain Sect, could effortlessly hold the Li family’s fate in his hands!