Slowly, the contours of a man vaguely appeared from behind the slope. His footsteps were of an even pace, as if he was taking a leisurely stroll.
He was only twenty meters away from them, but they noticed that they couldn’t tell how that person was moving, and how his body looked like. All they knew was that he was approaching.
When this young man finally arrived in front of them, they finally saw his face which was held a friendly smile. He had scattered, long, black hair, and wore a green, long robe. His appearance was rather similar to that of Daoist Yu Jizi from Kunlun Sect, but more casual looking.
The man was a little taller than 170 centimeters. He had an elegant temperament and style; although he was smiling, the intent behind it was lost to those present. All they felt was the mystery behind the man and his origin.
“Your Mightiness is…” Yu Jizi was the first one to speak. It wasn’t because he wanted attention, but he felt that there was something about his clothes and looks that held a sense familiarity to them.
It couldn’t be seen if the man was smiling or not. Looking at Yu Jizi from head to toe, he said, “Woah, I didn’t expect to see the Little Jizi back then to be wearing an elder’s robe from Kunlun Sect. What is it? Why have you failed to recognize your sect uncle?”
Yu Jizi looked astonished, as if he was reminded of something. He took two steps back and started to observe the man more carefully. When he came to a realization, he revealed a face full of astonishment.
The man laughed. “I still remember when you first came to the mountains and knew nothing about our practices. You would always seek me for any questions about cultivation you had. When I asked why didn’t you ask your master, my senior brother, instead, you would tell me, ‘Master is too fierce. Sect Uncle wouldn’t scold me.’ I had had high expectations for your future. I knew you would be exceptional after growing up, as you were able to come up with other solutions to your problems, unlike the other disciples who had endured scolding from their master without asking other sect uncles. Unfortunately, I believe I failed to check on your progress. It’s been more than eighty years, why are you still stuck on the early stages of Xiantian?”
Being watched by everyone, Yu Jizi suddenly kneeled down and banged his head on the ground before yelling, “Nice to see you again, Sect Uncle Ling Xuzi!!!”
“Sect Uncle Ling Xuzi?!”
Abbess Yun Miao who had been standing aside seemed to have noticed something as well, while Lin Zhiguo and Gray Robe were still a little clueless.
Yang Chen and Cai Ning, on the other hand, had no idea what was going on. Who’s Ling Xuzi?
The man mentioned ‘eighty years ago’, and was referred to as ‘Sect Uncle’ by Yu Jizi. If that was the case, this man would need to be at least a hundred years old. However, he looked closer to Yang Chen, a twenty-four-year-old, than a man who was a hundred years old.
Ling Xuzi sighed, “No wonder you haven’t managed to break through to the Xiantian realm. You must’ve been wrongly taught by my stubborn senior brother. Stop doing unnecessary stuff like this. I’m not Buddha, you don’t need to kneel before me. Little Yuzi, if you truly hold filial piety for Sect Uncle, it’s more practical to just send me money. I’ve been wandering around in Zhonghai for the past few days. There are so many good restaurants that I want to dine in, but my travel budget doesn’t account for it. My mouth has been watering for so long.”
[TL note: In Confucian philosophy, filial piety (孝) is a virtue of respect for one's parents, elders, and ancestors.]
Yu Jizi looked bitter. Earlier, he was dumbstruck at Ling Xuji’s arrival. However, after listening to Ling Xuzi, he said gloomily, “Se—sect Uncle, I, oh, no, Little Jizi also doesn’t have money with him.”
Yu Jizi’s face reddened as his young sect uncle called him ‘Little Jizi’ in front of the others. Yang Chen even had the urge to burst into laughter.
“Sigh, forget about it. I’ll go back after dealing with tonight’s matters anyway.” Ling Xuzi turned his attention to Lin Zhiguo. Smiling, he said, “Being the general of the Yellow Flame Iron Brigade, you must’ve realized who I am by now, haven’t you?”
Lin Zhiguo smiled bitterly. He felt that fate was playing a huge joke and he was the fool. Sighing, he said, “Senior must be someone from ‘Hongmeng’, am I right?”
“That’s correct. I’ve been the ‘Hongmeng Messenger’ for the past five years. This year happened to be my last, but I didn’t expect you to bring me such a trouble in the final few months of the year,” Ling Xuzi sighed as he shook his head.
Hongmeng? Hongmeng Messenger?
What are those?
Everyone except Lin Zhiguo had this question in their mind
Lin Zhiguo shut his eyes. “Why is this happening? So many warriors from the Yellow Flame Iron Brigade have died in the past. When we were facing despair, Hongmeng had always been a legend, traceless as ever. When I finally choose to make a decision, Hongmeng decides to appear before me?”
Ling Xuzi smiled faintly. “Do you still not understand? Hongmeng has never given up on this land. It was your Thinking that has changed.”
Lin Zhiguo looked miserable as he remained silent.
At this moment, Yu Jizi couldn’t help but ask, “Sect Uncle, didn’t you… didn’t… why did you…”
“Aye, say what you must. Why are you stammering? What do you want?” Ling Xuzi asked in dissatisfaction.
“Alright, alright…” Yu Jizi asked carefully, “When I was only twenty years old back then, didn’t you, Sect Uncle, get ambushed… and… that happened? Why did you…”
“Are you trying to say I was supposed to have died in that event, but instead, I’m still standing in front of you, looking so handsome and young?” Ling Xuzi suppressed his laughter.
Yu Jizi nodded forcefully.
“I don’t want to tell you,” Ling Xuzi said in elation.
Everyone got speechless. Although they were immensely shocked, they refused to believe that the young man was really Yu Jizi’s sect uncle.
Abbess Yun Miao finally thought of who the person was. Surprised, she exclaimed, “I’ve figured it out! Ling Xuzi from Kunlun Sect! You are… you are the genius from Kunlun Sect who would work from the shadows most of the time, Ling Xuzi?!”
“Oh?” Ling Xuzi said. “Little Girl, you are aware of who I am as well?”
Yun Miao swallowed her saliva audibly. “When I was young, my sect uncle once told me about Senior. Senior was the first person for the past thousands of years who had managed to train the Kunlun-exclusive technique ‘Qianyuan Unlimited Technique’ to Xiantian Full Cycle. However, you were ambushed by an enemy sect and had died in that ambush. How would… Also, wasn’t Senior reaching the ripe age of 50 back then?”
“Judging from your internal energy, you should be a descendent of Shushan. Your sect uncle should be the bald guy Mo Daoran, am I right?” Ling Xuzi pouted. “Why must he tell so many stories, when he hasn’t broken through the realm of Xiantian himself yet?”
“So, Sect Uncle, you have… had a breakthrough of Xiantian, and had set foot on the legendary level?!” Yu Jizi asked, dumbfounded. “No wonder… no wonder Sect Uncle looks so young.”
Ling Xuzi smiled in acknowledgement. He said to Lin Zhiguo, “Come with me. It is not in your fate that you remain here any more.”
Lin Zhiguo shut his eyes in agony. He asked, “Senior, can you tell me why you only decided to show up when us at the Yellow Flame Iron Brigade were at our worst, instead of lending us a hand when we were facing difficulties during the battle? The legend of Hongmeng was passed down by the late, former general. It’s a name that was almost forgotten; even I started to doubt its existence. Why? You guys have been here all along. Why were you unwilling to protect the country when it was facing great dangers?”
The smile on Ling Xuzi’s face slowly vanished. Strictly, he said, “Lin Zhiguo, don’t you get it yet? The one who are in danger is not the country, but your own greed. Does it seem like the end of an era to you? Do you really think our history of more than five thousand years will end just like that?”
Without waiting for Lin Zhiguo’s reply, Ling Xuzi continued, “If a truly strong nation wants to develop and grow, it can’t rely on the protection of a few people. If a few of you young people at the Yellow Flame Iron Brigade died and faced struggles, and we decide to show ourselves to offer help, everyone would have this idea—it doesn’t matter if we lose or retreat, there will be others to clean up our problems for us…
“This wrong thinking would set the progress of this country backward.
“A true master must go through life-and-death experiences, wander around the edge death, before he can hope to have a breakthrough on his limits.
“The culture of our country, amongst countless others, is the only one which hasn’t been cut off before. It doesn’t rely on the existence of us at Hongmeng, but their undying spirit down to protect the pride of their bloodline.
“Only by repeatedly going through the trials of blood and fire can a nation continue to progress with each generation.
“Being the general of Yellow Flame Iron Brigade, not only did you fail to believe in yourself, you also have no faith in your subordinates. All you can think about is yourself, and the dissatisfaction towards your Lin clan, as if every Chinese citizen in the world owes you something...
“How foolish! What do you think the dead warriors of the Yellow Flame Iron Brigade died for?! What do you think they have put their lives on the line for?!
“Even when they knew they would die, they still stood in front of you without hesitation. Your task is only to provide orders, but you’re also the first one to lose focus… Have you lived up to the trust the former general had given you? Have you lived up to the spirit of your young subordinates?”
After Ling Xuzi finished speaking, Cai Ning, Abbess Yun Miao and the others looked mournful. At the same time, they were perturbed and the revelations.
Lin Zhiguo, on the other hand, looked pale and aggrieved, as if his soul had left his body. He couldn’t say a single word anymore.
“Alright, that’s enough of that. I have responsibilities to fulfil and this is one of them, which is to bring you away,” Ling Xuzi said before walking towards Lin Zhiguo.
However, Gray Robe who had remained silent leaped in front of Lin Zhiguo. Grief filled his heavily wrinkled face. “If you want to leave with him, it will have to be over my dead body.”