Yang Chen’s eyes brightened up but kept his face unchanged when he heard those words.
So it really is the hidden clans! he thought.
On the other hand, Lin Ruoxi was as confused as ever but chose not to ask when she turned and saw Yang Chen’s stern expression. After all, asking him to explain it later was still an option for her.
Yang Chen said to Xiao Zhiqing, “Relax. Just tell me everything and spare no detail.”
Xiao Zhiqing was slightly taken aback to see Yang Chen so serious but she nodded and began to tell her story.
Ever since the battle between the great ancient cultivators and the gods had ended, things had been particularly rough for the gods. Zeus was trapped in an formation, Athena could barely help herself, let alone the rest of the god race. The worst part was, they weren’t able to produce offspring which meant that they were on the verge of extinction.
The great ancient cultivators were no exception. They too began to die out alongside the gods.
But the stronger cultivators were an exception. They had inherited the armours from the ancestors who had ascended to become immortals which made their descendants stronger than other cultivators.
With the great ancient cultivators gone, their descendants formed the great ancient clan. They remained hidden from plain sight, only focusing on their cultivation journey to ascension, and were detached from society, causing them to become a hidden clan.
However, as time passed, most of the hidden clans began to die out.
The weaker clans chose to return to society and some clans were taken over by the stronger ones due to lack of leadership.
At last, only three hidden clans remained in China, which was the Luo clan, the Ning clan, and the Xiao clan.
These three clans survived under the harsh environment and conditions, and in the end, were able to expand. Not only did they own scriptures from ancient times, but they also possessed artifacts and medicine which could be passed down from generation to generation. In addition to that, they had really powerful elders to watch over their clans.
In contrast, Hongmeng was just a group of unaffiliated cultivators. They might be ahead of the hidden clans in numbers, but they lacked the kind of elites found in those three clans.
Plus, cultivators of the Soul Forming stage and above would be able to use the artifacts due to the presence of True Yuan, thus giving the great ancient clans an even greater advantage.
All this while, Hongmeng had been protecting the great ancient formation and also the root of China. They managed to keep a balance with the great ancient clans by not getting involved with each other.
Xiao Zhiqing came from the Xiao clan.
She was the daughter of Xiao Mozheng, the second son of the head of the Xiao clan, Xiao Mengyu.
Xiao Mozheng had two sons and Xiao Zhiqing was his only daughter.
But, Xiao Zhiqing was born with the Nine Yin Meridian.
A person born with the Nine Yin Meridian would not be able to cultivate at all. Because of the strong Yin, her body would be unable to take up any form of energy, thus the energy would then avoid her body.
Treating such a sickness required a technique lost to time.
In a hidden clan, any clan member who was unable to cultivate till the Soul Forming stage would be deemed useless. They would be treated as an outsider regardless of which family they came from, powerful or not.
Things weren’t any better for Xiao Zhiqing, being a girl who was unable to cultivate. She was born into a fate worse than death.
Even so, the other characteristic of Nine Yin Meridian made them changed their opinion towards her, she was unaffected by any kind of poison!
The Nine Yin Meridian could restrict all entries of poison. The human body might show symptoms but because of the strong Yin, she would still be alive for years even after being poisoned.

Each hidden clan had different attributes. The Luo clan had lots of scriptures and strong cultivators, whereas the Ning clan had lots of artifacts and cultivators too. They might not be as elite as the Luo clan, but they were still considerably strong.
The Xiao clan, on the other hand, relied on artifacts and medicine.
Making medicine was their forte.   
In the past, no one would know if their medicine was fully functional as they were not as proficient as their ancestors before them. It did not help that their recipes were not a hundred percent accurate.
So being able to test the effects of their medicine was of utmost importance.
Most of the medicine that they produced had hidden side effects which could range anywhere from internal bleeding to damaging their organs. Some side effects could even lead to damaging their cultivation progress!
The Xiao clan couldn’t just kidnap someone to test the medicine. Firstly, an ordinary human couldn’t bear the effects and secondly, every clan member is precious!
Therefore, the birth of Xiao Zhiqing was like a godsend!
Xiao Zhiqing might not be able to cultivate but the Nine Yin Meridian filled her body with Yin energy. If she was poisoned, she wouldn’t die right away!
This made her the perfect guinea pig!
From the earliest reaches of Xiao Zhiqing’s memory, she had been through countless amounts of tests. If she showed any symptoms of being poisoned, they would try to find the reason behind it and if there was none, it meant that the medicine was working fine.
“Is this why you had so much poison in your body?” Yang Chen couldn’t help but frown.
Xiao Zhiqing’s eyes were red. Years of torment did not mean that she was used to it.
She nodded her head and said, “They knew that if they wanted to suppress the poisons from the Nine Yin Meridian in my body, it would take up lots of time and medicinal herbs. I might suffer but I wouldn’t die. Till now, I still can’t believe that you were able to purge the poison out of my body which had stuck with me for almost twenty years.”
“Almost twenty years?” Yang Chen was surprised to hear this. “You're not twenty years old yet?”

Xiao Zhiqing blushed. “I… Of course I’m not…”
Lin Ruoxi quickly interjected. “You’re still bothered by her age?! How could her own family treat her like that? Even if they didn’t want to save her, there’s no reason to treat her as such!”
Xiao Zhiqing looked at her gratefully, happy to hear that Lin Ruoxi cared for her.
“Miss Lin, you might not know this but in a hidden clan, power is all that matters. For a girl like me who’s unable to cultivate, I'm lucky that I wasn’t disowned the moment they found out. In my family, not even my father would look at me…” Xiao Zhiqing snickered, her eyes filled with disdain.
Yang Chen started to understand how she got to become so cruel.
With a family like that, morals and empathy were probably non essentials.
Yang Chen couldn’t help but feel bad for her. They had lived similar lives, but she was more deeply hurt than him.
The atmosphere in the study was heavy for a while until Lin Ruoxi spoke up. “Oh ya, you haven’t mentioned this. Where are the great ancient clans located? Wouldn’t they get found out, now that the technology has improved so much?”
Xiao Zhiqing smiled and shook her head. “No one will find them. Their location is similar to that of Hongmeng, revolving around the great ancient formation. To normal people, the place would be treated as a no man’s land, but once you crack the outer formation, you’ll realize it’s a whole other world.”
“No man’s land?” Yang Chen racked through the map in his brain. “Are you saying they’re at Kekexili, north of the Kunlun Mountain?”
Xiao Zhiqing nodded. “Kekexili is what the public sees. But it is just an illusion. If one does not have the pass meant for the formation, they will never see it for what it truly is. The great ancient ancestors opened up the area and it’s actually rather vast.”

“But the distance between Kekexili and Zhonghai is so far apart. Besides, we met in Los Angeles. How did you manage to run that far? Based on what you have described, you wouldn’t have the ability to escape from home.” Yang Chen was suspicious of her.