Song Ci felt a roaring in his ears as he looked at the statue, spellbound.
In the faraway lands of Xi Liang, there was a gentle and happy-go-lucky Ninth Prince of the Imperial Wen Clan, also known as Wen Chan.
He was Song Ci’s only good friend in the capital, although they have not met for several years.
Perhaps this was just someone else with the same name.
Song Ci silently withdrew his gaze. It had been so many years since this immortal had ascended into immortality, so what relationship could he even have with the Ninth Prince?
No one noticed that Song Ci’s temporary distraction; they were all listening with rapt attention as Zhu Yishu spoke about Immortal Wen Chan’s cultivation process in Mo Yao.
“I’ve heard of this Immortal Wen Chan.” Wen Changchu1 quietly tipped his head over. Although he was talking to Song Ci, his eyes were still staring warily at Zhu Yishu.
“This matter took place about two or three hundred years ago. It caused quite a stir when this mortal ascended and became an immortal. The Realm of the Immortals prepared a banquet to welcome him. It was so boisterous the Six Realms all knew about it.”
Song Ci wondered, “Why?”
“The Realm of Immortal had suffered heavy casualties before. Hundreds and thousands of immortals were either dead or wounded, and the Realm was no longer as flourishing as they once used to be. To revive the Immortal Realm, the Immortal Lord sent someone to the Human Realm to establish an Immortal Cultivation Sect, which we now know as Mo Yao. Since its establishment many years ago, Wen Chan was the first and only one to ascend to Heaven.” Wen Changchu said. “How could they not exalt him?”
“Seems like this Immortal Wen Chan is quite formidable.” Song Ci sighed in admiration. He was evidently more impressive than the Ninth Prince. The Ninth Prince was infamous for being incompetent in both literary pursuits and martial arts. There was no lack of people calling him a good-for-nothing behind his back.
“But then I heard that something happened to that immortal in the Immortal Realm. And now, there is no further news of him.” Wen Changchu muttered softly.
Wen Changchu was clearly curious about this matter too. But it was unlikely for Wen Changchu to be able to scout news from the Immortal Realm, so he did not know what happened after.
After listening to Immortal Wen Chan’s story, everyone all heaved sighs of admiration and swore to work hard in their cultivation. Amid such high-spirited discussion, even Song Ci could not help being swept along by the exuberance of the youths.
They had breakfast right after, and then it was time for their first lesson – learning how to use their thoughts to control objects.
It was through trial and error these four years since he became a demon that Song Ci learned by himself how to summon and retract the scimitar. That was all he knew. However, the scimitar had been snatched away by Rong Bai. He might as well make use of this opportunity to learn something.
He sat beside Rong Bai, leaned close to his ear and whispered, “Master Rong, if I learn these spells, does it mean that I accept that demon blood in my body?”
Rong Bai saw through his mind and gave a slight nod.
“Then are there any repercussions when I turn back into a human?” Song Ci asked again.
Rong Bai’s eyes curved in a slight smile. “No.”
But when Wen Changchu heard this, he cut in. “If others hear you, they will probably vomit blood in anger.2 Others hanker after it in vain, and yet you avoid it like the plague.”
“To each his own.” Song Ci replied vaguely, “It’s none of your business. Just learn your stuff.”
Wen Changchu let out a chuckle. “Would I still need to learn this kind of low-level spell? I already knew it the moment I was born.”
Zhu Yishu happened to hear him and said with a warm smile, “Wen Changchu, since you already know it, why don’t you demonstrate it to everyone?”
Wen Changchu was caught unaware when his name was mentioned. Alarmed, he trembled slightly then continued to say with a smile, “What I know are just trifle tricks. Zhu shizhang, if I don’t do it well, please don’t punish me and make me copy the sect regulations.”
Zhu Yishu’s voice was gentle. “Alright.”
There was a small stone the size of a thumb on each person’s table. Wen Changchu lowered his head to look at that piece of stone, then reached out to point a finger at it. The small stone floated into the air shakily until it reached Wen Changchu’s nose before it fell with a thud.
The youths started praising him when they saw that he had really lifted the small stone into the air. Even Zhu Yishu smiled. “You are talented. Stop being so playful and study hard.”
Watching beside him, Song Ci secretly marveled at how Wen Changchu still had enough brains to know how to dispel Zhu Yishu’s misgivings.
Using the mind to control objects was a low-level skill for beginners. But it was difficult when it came to learning it. It was like a heavy door. The abundance of gold and treasures behind it were within easy reach as long as they could open the door. But the problem was, how do they open that door?
At the end of the day, only a few people could move the pebble. Song Ci was not even able to move a fraction of it; he could not help but feel disheartened.
The youths were still chattering with enthusiasm on their way back from class. When Wen Changchu was about to leave, Zhu Yishu called out to him. Wen Changchu threw Song Ci a look as if asking for help, but in the end, he followed Zhu Yishu with a bitter laugh. Song Ci was quiet as they walked back and kept thinking about what he had done wrong.
Song Ci knew he was dumb. Since he was a child, he had always studied hard and earnestly no matter what the subject was. He grew up with books of virtuous and learned men for company, so he did not turn into a laughing stock. But now, those books were useless here. If he did not learn how to be stronger, he could end up killed at any time.
Even as he was feeling despondent, Song Ci did not forget to keep attempting the spell taught by Zhu Yishu earlier. He muttered to himself repeatedly, taking only a short break during dinner.
When it was time to sleep at night, Song Ci was still sitting on his bed murmuring to himself as he faced the window. Although he did not make a sound, it still seemed to bother Rong Bai, who was lying on the bed.
Rong Bai sat up and grabbed Song Ci by the wrist. Startled, Song Ci turned to stare at him. Rong Bai asked, “What are you reciting?”
“I, I was just reviewing what Zhu Yishu taught us today…” Song Ci thought he was finished. He had been too engrossed in trying to learn the incantation that he had failed to notice that he had disturbed Rong Bai. He hastily said, “If you want to sleep, I’ll stop reciting. I’m sorry.”
Several youths sharing the same bed were looking at them, as if curious about what had happened between them.
Rong Bai hesitated for a moment, then pulled Song Ci by the wrist and stood up. “Come with me.”
It was easy for Rong Bai to drag Song Ci up. Song Ci hurriedly got off the bed to get dressed, not even daring to ask where they were going.
A nosy youth said, “The night bell is about to ring. You can’t go out. It’s against the sect regulations.”
Rong Bai cast a light glance at him, and the youth was frightened into silence. He saw a pretty, white as porcelain youth smiling back at him. “We will be back soon. There’s no need to worry. You go ahead and sleep.”
As soon as Rong Bai spoke, all the youths in the room suddenly felt sleepy. No one paid any notice to the two youths leaving the room.
Once they were out of the door, Rong Bai took Song Ci to a remote corner. There were trees all around them, and there was no light or buildings, only the clear, bright moonlight.
After Rong Bai came to a stop, he extended his right hand. There was a flash of white light, and the black scimitar that Song Ci was obsessed with appeared in his palm. He handed it over to Song Ci.
Song Ci could not understand what Rong Bai was trying to do, but he reached out to take it. “Why are you giving me the blade?”
“Didn’t you want to learn to manipulate objects through thoughts?” The dim moonlight reflected in Rong Bai’s bright eyes were sparkling like stars. He continued. “I’ll teach you.”