Ice formed a seal over the Frozen Plains.

There was only white as far as the eye could see. In a hidden crevice, a fox devil [1] poked her pair of white ears out. Only after looking around cautiously did she dart away.

The closer she got, the more intense the scent of immortal cultivation became. She swallowed back her saliva and turned to see that, as expected, an arctic wolf was near where the practitioner was situated.

“Hmph, he can’t even give me a heads up when he leaves, some friend he is.” muttered the fox devil quietly. She found a secluded spot above the cave and began to meditate.

As time passed by, more and more devils came here. In the last century, they gradually came to understand Jiang Yinghe’s temperament and learned that he did not mind them borrowing the spiritual energy he radiated to cultivate. The only time he chased two little devils away was when their incorporeal forms entangled to fight for a spot that was closer to him.

And in these one hundred years, many devils who obtained a human form thanks to the cultivator left their most prized trinkets in front of the cave out of gratitude before setting off. That person never made a move to retrieve any of it, so a small mountain of treasure had formed.

There was a ripple of energy through the air. A butterfly made of ice flew next to the fox devil and spoke in a familiar voice.

“You’ve siphoned energy for several decades already, Xue Qianqian, so why are your ears still out?”

Xue Qianqian rolled her eyes, “I’m dumb and not smart like you, happy?”

The ice butterfly laughed and looked in the direction of the cave before turning back to Xue Qianqian. “I’ve heard an interesting rumour, little fox, are you interested?”

Xue Qianqian knew that she was the type of person that couldn’t go to sleep at night without gossiping a bit first, so of course she wanted to know. “Just tell me or go, you’re delaying my cultivation.”

The butterfly got closer to her ear and whispered consiparatively, “I heard my clan elders say that an archdevil will reawaken here soon.”

“An archdevil?” Xue Qianqian jeered, “That’s the same load of crap I hear every year. Is it so easy to revive them? Right now the devil race is weak, we only have the Devil Barons Jiuying and Hundun to hold down the fort. An archdevil is an existence above even them that only appears once every few thousand years. Stop daydreaming already.” [2]

Offended by her skepticism, the butterfly pulled at her sleeve and hissed, “I’m being serious right now!”

Xue Qianqian shook off her hand and adjusted her posture, “Are you living in the past? Ever since the Devil God and King Tianhou fell one after the other…”

Before she finished talking, the normally calm waves of energy emanating from the cave stopped. Dark clouds began to gather above the alcove, with purple lighting brewing inside. A terrifying pressure descended from above.

Just as the assembled little devils began to panic, a warm gust of wind cascaded out of the cave and blew everyone several kilometers away.

Xue Qianqian and the ice butterfly tumbled many times before coming to a stop. Before they had even regained their bearings, an earth-shattering lightning bolt struck the cave. Bits of debris flew through the air accompanied by a blinding flash of light.

If it wasn’t for the cultivator’s burst of energy just now, all of the devils present would have been vapourized.

Xue Qianqian felt the blood drain from her face as she held her thumping chest. The butterfly beside her stammered several times before getting out, “So this...this purple lightning means...there’s a Xianjun at the Hollowed Cave stage inside!”

Hollowed Cave stage, huh… Xue Qianqian swallowed with some difficulty, “Xian, Xianjun? Is it his first or second tribulation?”

Those at the Hollowed Cave stage need to endure three lightning tribulations and five tests of their dedication to the Dao before they could be referred to as a half-step from a bonafide Golden Immortal. In the entire cultivation world, there were only two Xianjuns at present. One was Xuan Wei Xianjun Jiang Yinghe from Peng Lai sect and the other was Hun Yuan Xianjun Tong Guiyu from He Huan sect.

Only someone who was ice and snow incarnate like Jiang Yinghe would choose to receive their tribulation in a place like this.

Not just these two, all the devils of the Frozen Plains were reflecting on this near brush with death. Everyone’s eyes were glued to the ongoing tribulation. This was a rare chance to improve their cultivation drastically!

“It is said that Jiang Xianjun has a cool temperament, but I think that’s just a front to hide his warm nature. Where else would you find someone that would care to remember the likes of us at a time like this?” The butterfly sighed, “Why don’t you try to ask him to take you as a disciple? Then you would be set for life.”

Xue Qianqian huffed. “Are you trying to get me killed?”

Their banter slowly died down. The rolling clouds occasionally revealed the magenta sky above. The sheer quantity of charge that was present was deeply disorienting. Yet no one was able to look away.

The sounds of the lightning tribulation lasted about half a day and left the devils with a migraine. When they were almost at their limit, the layers of clouds began to drift away. The scent of spiritual energy in the air became richer until it made some of them dizzy with desire.

Just as the devils nearby were about to succumb, a man’s cold and distant voice could be heard from within.

“Do not approach.”

Just three words from Xuan Wei Xianjun stopped even the most courageous devils in their tracks. They all kneeled and paid their respects as if to a teacher [3] in the direction of the ice-encrusted cave.

“Those who have not been taught by me need not kneel this way.” Jiang Yinghe said lightly, “Leave this place.”

The voice was clear and melodious. Xue Qianqian felt her body move away despite her wanting to stay just a little while longer.

All the devils soon scattered.

Footnotes

  1. ^ 狐妖 - technically could be translated as a 'fox spirit/demon’, but since there are already ghosts and demons involved in the story I’m going to use 'devil' instead
  2. ^ 九婴 and 混沌 - lit. 'Nine babies' and 'Chaos'. Only one sounds like a cool name for a devil baron, which is why I left it in pinyin
  3. ^ 半师之礼 - lit. 'half teacher salutation'