Chapter 90 Surging Waves

There were only five days left until the district exam. Lin Xun continued his daily training routine: polishing martial dao in the day and working on aeth power cultivation, spirit cultivation, and rune studies at night.

He did not make any adjustments to his schedule due to the upcoming district exam and was the picture of calm and confidence.

Ever since she woke from her heavy injuries, Xia Zhi slept in the day as she did in the past and went out alone at night. Lin Xun did not need to guess where she went. An unlucky gang in the slums would be destroyed every time the lass went out.

All in all, life was as normal as it could be at the 49th residence. In contrast, Donglin City experienced numerous big events that shook the entire city.

First and foremost, Yao Tuohai had finally arrived in Donglin City to oversee the forthcoming district exam as an examiner.

Due to Yao Tuohai’s arrival, the number of participating cultivators this year exploded and more than 8000 people had already registered!

Only half of those were local Donglin City cultivators. The other half were cultivators that had rushed over from other cities due to Yao Tuohai’s fame.

This made Donglin City far busier than before. The entire city was abuzz with conversations about Yao Tuohai, discussing why he had come to Donglin City.

Meanwhile, news of a squad of Steel-Blood Army soldiers escorting a mysterious youngster to Donglin City created another big splash in the city which was already buzzing with gossip.

The Steel-Blood Army!

An elite army that was renowned in the empire and was commanded by the Steel-Blood King Ning Bugui!

Ning Bugui was one of the empire’s legendary experts, and his Steel-Blood Army was equally as legendary amongst the empire’s armies. As such, it was easy to imagine how big of a commotion resulted when people heard that a squad of Steel-Blood Army soldiers had escorted a youngster to Donglin City.

Why had soldiers from the Steel-Blood Army appeared in the city?

Who was the youngster they were escorting and why were they escorting him here?

Everyone made guesses and engaged in discussion but no one could give a proper answer.

Even the various well-informed Donglin City factions did not know what to make of this.

Although Yao Tuohao was officially here to oversee the district exam, everyone knew that his true motive would not be so simple.

The Steel-Blood guards had escorted a youngster here, but no one knew what they were up to.

A layer of mystery was cast over Donglin City, causing the city’s atmosphere to turn somewhat strange.

    ……

Stone Cauldron Alms.

Mu Wansu was blankly staring into space, her brows tightly furrowed as if something was weighing heavily on her mind.

In her hand was an urgent message which had arrived several hours ago. It was sent from the Stone Cauldron Alms’ headquarters in the Forbidden City and contained an unexplained message― “A bigshot will arrive in Donglin City during this period, please be careful!”

The message made Mu Wansu uneasy. Who is this bigshot? What could have alarmed headquarters so much that they would send such a message?

Why did they not dare to put the bigshot’s name or give any hints?

Mu Wansu’s intuition told her that this was no simple matter!

She suddenly thought of Yao Tuohai and the youngster escorted by Steel-Blood soldiers. 

Were they here because of the bigshot?

This possibility made Mu Wansu gasp. Yao Tuohai was already someone of amazing status and there was only one person in the entire southwest province who could stand shoulder to shoulder to him: the southwest city governor, Liu Wudiao.

The Steel-Blood youngster was likely even more extraordinary. The Steel-Blood guards accompanying him belonged to the Tiger Wolf Division under Ning Bugui! How could someone who could obtain the escort of these guards be an ordinary person?

If they had indeed come because of the unknown bigshot, wouldn’t the bigshot’s identity be even more shocking?

Moreover, why was this bigshot coming to Donglin City?

The more Mu Wansu thought, the more uneasy she grew. For the first time, she felt that she could no longer properly judge the situation in Donglin City.

    ……

In the morning four days later.

Lin Xun ate his breakfast but did not begin training today. He had sensed that his physique cultivation had hit a bottleneck and planned to make a trip to Donglin Martial Training Hall in order to test the current power level of his physique.

Lin Xun left the slums and walked into the bustling streets. He could feel a clear difference in Donglin City. Cultivators could be seen everywhere, and everyone was talking about the district exam.

Because tomorrow morning marked the start of the district exam!

Lin Xun was not worried about the exam. He had already done his preparations and only needed to wait for it to begin.

He soon arrived at Donglin Martial Training Hall and was respectfully led into a martial practice room after paying ten silver coins.

The martial practice room was extremely big; it resembled a small-scale plaza which was filled with copper skin puppets.

Copper skin puppets were aeth tools with mechanical parts. The puppet’s body was first forged from hard ores before a rune master would be commissioned to carve special rune arrays on the interior. The end product utilized a combination of mechanisms and an aeth power source to move.

Some formidable copper skin puppets were even able to engage in battle like real cultivators!

However, the Donglin Martial Training Hall puppets were ordinary products that could only execute simple movements. Their greatest function was to measure a cultivator’s martial power.

    ……

When Lin Xun entered Donglin Martial Training Hall, a bizarre procession suddenly appeared in the sky several thousand miles away deep in the Three Thousand Great Mountains.

A group of men dressed in the empire’s ceremonial palace attire led the procession. However, their clothes were not light purple but deep night-black.

There were a total of sixteen men who were split into two rows. They maintained a solemn and dignified air as they marched in the sky, making sure their movements were coordinated and perfect to the tee.

It was as if they were not walking on air but on a wide, solid road. Every step and every minute movement they made followed a unique rhythm, neat and orderly as if they were of one mind!

Only Spirit Sea stage cultivators could fly in the sky, but not all Spirit Sea stage cultivators had the control and power needed to walk in the air.

Even if there were cultivators who could, they might not be able to move at the same speed while maintaining a precise distance between them like the sixteen men in black ceremonial attire!

Although these sixteen men had clearly reached the Spirit Sea stage and possessed terrifying power, they were merely vanguards in the procession.

There was a single carriage behind them.

The entire carriage was black and made from some unknown material. Numerous cryptic rune arrays were carved upon its surface, densely packed together like a vast sea. Under the blue dome of heaven, the carriage seemed to be covered in a layer of eternal night-black.

The carriage was pulled by six black horses. The horses' eyes seemed to glow a bluish-jade as if ghost fire burned within them. A single horn rose from their heads like the legendary unicorns. However, unicorns were white while these horses were pure-black, making them look like netherworld ghost horses that had escaped from hell!

The sudden appearance of such a procession amidst the wilderness was shocking to say the least, and anyone who witnessed it would definitely doubt their eyes.

Liiiiii!

The piercing cry of a bird sounded from far away, rippling the clouds. A black shadow flew towards the procession in a flash and arrived beside the carriage.

It was a strange black bird that had four claws, pitch-black steel-like wings, and glowing golden eyes. Although it was on the smaller side, it gave off a terrifying aura of savagery.

However, the strange black bird suddenly exploded, turning into a tall and imposing old man. The old man was also dressed in black ceremonial attire and his long hair was perfectly combed such that not a single strand was out of place!

“My Lady, I’ve searched for a long time but did not find a single clue. It is likely that someone has intentionally erased all traces. We might have arrived a little too late.”

The elder bowed slightly, his voice strong and rich. His bearing and mannerisms were refined and courteous, so perfect that there was nothing to nitpick.

“Mmm.” A uniquely magnetic and husky feminine voice sounded from the black carriage, “It is within expectation. I’m honestly surprised they waited so long to act.”

The elder was silent.

After a long time, the husky voice sounded from the carriage again, “The Heavenly Seer said that an amazing treasure will appear in the Three Thousand Great Mountains. Have you heard of this?”

The elder bowed, “I have. I’ve also heard that the Little Sword Lord Xie Yutang has already proved that it does not exist.”

“Oh? The little fellow from the Forbidden City’s Black Cloth Alley Xie Clan?”

“Correct.”

“He’s a lucky boy.” The husky voice suddenly paused. Soon after, the carriage window opened as a beautiful fair hand reached out.

The hand was slender and flawless. On her perfect dainty little finger was a strange black gemstone ring which looked like an open eye, a sight that would make anyone shiver inside.

The beautiful finger pointed forward, “What lies ahead of us?”

The elder answered, “My Lady, to our front, lies Donglin City, which is one of our planned stopovers. At our current speed, we should arrive in six hours.”

“Donglin City…how interesting…”

The husky voice seemed to quiver as if sensing something but was near impossible to read.

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