Face twitching, Huangpu Tianyuan clenched his fists and felt a sudden, totally understandable, urge to deck the old man, “High Priest, haven’t you always preached that no life is by accident? That heaven has decreed everything? Even if a mistake happens, it is only a fork in the road that is fate. Aren’t you the one mistaken then? Why is it that when it comes to Qingtian’s turn, it’s an accident?”
“One’s path is impermanent, heaven ever shifting, and of the world’s myriad creatures, no one can escape their destiny. With how the world has eight gates – opening, torpor, life, harm, impediment, spectacle, shock, death – to enter the gate of life is to be alive; to enter the gate of death is to die; to enter the gate of torpor is to lag in lethargy and be in a slur; to enter the Gate of spectacle is to have a bright future. But in any case, it always revolves around taking one of the eight gates, never outside them. Thus one can’t escape their destiny.”
Yun Xuanji took a deep breath. After speaking of how mysteries had intricacies and intricacies had mysteries, he sighed, “However, as there are myriads of living beings, an anomaly is bound to appear. There comes a time when a singular man stands outside heaven’s control…”
Huangpu Tianyuan’s eyes twitched, clueless where he was going with this rant. Leng Wuchang, however, did get it, “You mean to say… Zhuo Fan isn’t part of heaven’s schedule?”
Huangpu Tianyuan snapped his stunned eyes on Leng Wuchang.
[What does that mean?]
Yun Xuanji never elaborated, resuming after a long pregnant pause, “We shall stop here. I have spoken too much already. You are now on your own. Show yourselves out.”
[This coot’s kicking his guests out!]
Huangpu Tianyuan choked, and a blazing fire scorched his heart. He really wanted to thrash this geezer. Not making a word of sense and now he was giving them the boot? The two’s minds went out of commission for a second there.
Leng Wuchang was the first to act though, stopping his lord’s assault on the defenseless old man and bowing, “Thank you, High Priest, for your counsel. I understand fully and we shall now take our leave. We shall come again another time.”
“Hey, Sir Leng, understand what? I didn’t get anything out of that rant!” Huangpu Tianyuan roared.
Leng Wuchang waved, “Estate Lord, let’s go. The High Priest has already given us clear advice. Zhuo Fan is an anomaly, neither friend nor foe. He has nothing to do with us.”
“You’re calling all that nothing? He has killed so many of our people! And you want to just forget about revenge?” Huangpu Tianyuan watched Leng Wuchang in shock.
[Why is Sir Leng speaking in riddles like this coot?]
Leng Wuchang merely pulled him outside, “Estate Lord, I will explain everything when we get back…”
Leng Wuchang opened the door only to bump into the peeping tom. He cried, “Zhuo Fan! W-what are you doing here?”
“A total coincidence. Ha-ha-ha, just like you came to ask how to deal with me, I’ve also come to High Priest for pointers on what’s the best way to get rid of you guys.”
Zhuo Fan taunted with a snicker, “Though, isn’t it funny how we both visit the same person for our problems?”
“Humph, ignorant whelp, Parish has stood tall for a thousand years, above mundane affairs. And they won’t start doing it now for a measly conflict. They are merely here to point out our path and clarify our purpose.”
Leng Wuchang put on a cold smile, “Besides, now that I fully understand our circumstances, Luo clan may be evolving day by day but it will be at the heart of chaos. Attack us and both our houses will fall, leaving others to reap the benefits. Intellectuals like you and me aren’t dumb enough to chose this path.”
Zhuo Fan gave him a deep look and nodded, “Right on. But understand this, who was it that kept backing off in front of the Imperial Palace?”
Shuddering, Leng Wuchang clenched his fists.
It was the greatest humiliation of his life to be pushed around by Zhuo Fan.
“Ha-ha-ha, Sir Leng, you know you can’t beat me, yet you are also scared to face me. It must be…” Zhuo Fan snickered, his finger pointing at his heart, “Here is where you fall short. You… don’t have my drive, just a mere counselor unable to achieve anything noteworthy, ha-ha-ha…”
The mockery was jarring to Leng Wuchang’s ears. His eyes bloodshot, his fingers digging into his palms, unable to hold himself back from trembling.
It was a naked taunt and scorn.
But all he could do was bear with it. They couldn’t face Zhuo Fan as he was now, he was too strong. Besides the fact that he was now one of the big players in the grand scheme of things. They were not about to throw caution into the wind over this little hiccup.
The kneeling child was stumped.
Living his whole life in the Parish, all he had ever met were respectful and courteous people, even if hypocritical.
In other words, this child had only seen the light of the world, and never its black and foul darkness.
Today was the day when he got exposed to humanity’s most morbid side. Zhuo Fan hardly needed lengthy speeches to poke at Leng Wuchang, those few words contained more than enough unbridled malice that he would appear to be like a hellhound out for blood. And each word shocked the poor child’s naive heart more than the last.
He was afraid.
[So this is the corruptive darkness that courses through outsiders’ veins!]
Yun Xuanji sighed with his eyes closed…
Leng Wuchang took long breaths to calm down somewhat. He refrained from talking back and instead pulled an enraged Huangpu Tianyuan, “Estate Lord, let’s go.”
Zhuo Fan watched them leave with a grin, then turned to the dumbstruck kid, patting his shoulder with a snicker, “Sonny, see that? Look how those guys left bleak and despondent before yours truly. Am I cool or what?”
The child was too shocked to speak.
“Steward Zhuo, please refrain from corrupting my disciple.” High Priest finally opened his deep eyes.
With a casual shrug, Zhuo Fan grinned, pinching the kid’s cheek again before going in.
After that peeping fiasco, he was rid of all respect he ever had for High Priest, thinking, [Just a hustler.] And since he was a mere peak Profound Heaven expert, he had lost all interest too.
Sprawling in his seat and drumming the table, Zhuo Fan said, “So, why did the High Priest call me over?”
Looking at him for a long fifteen minutes, Yun Xuanji nodded, “As I suspected, Steward Zhuo is a man among men.”
“Stuff it. If I’d been any more normal, I’d be dead. Now why did you invite me?”
Zhuo Fan slapped the table with a scoff. He shot to his feet, heading for the door, “If you’re all out of shticks to convince me, then see ya. And don’t try that fate stuff with me. It won’t work, nor can I understand it. Do us both a favor and save it.”
Zhuo Fan left with a sneer. Yun Xuanji only spoke as he was about to take the first step outside, “You… should be dead!”
Zhuo Fan froze with his leg in the air. His eyes filled with shock.
Yun Xuanji cut into him quickly.
He did die once already. Be it Luo clan’s servant, Zhuo Fan, or Sacred Domain’s Demonic Emperor, Zhuo Yifan, they had both died.
Zhuo Fan was the Demonic Emperor’s resentment, borrowing this servant’s body to be reborn. He still had the case of identity disorder. Was he Zhuo Yifan or Zhuo Fan?
Through the use of Nine Serenities Secret Records, out of two deaths, a life was born.
This was his greatest secret, so how did the old coot figure him out in a glance?
Creaking his head back, Zhuo Fan frowned. He now noticed the abyss in the old man’s eyes hiding a faint flicker of light, like the night’s furthest star.
[Are the rumors true? Yun clan’s Clan Heads have eyes that can pierce one’s fate?]
[T-this is out of this world!]
[Not even Sacred Domain’s Emperors can train in such a mystical art!]
[More importantly, is this world dominated by fate?]
Zhuo Fan was a stubborn skeptic when it came to anything remotely sounding of fate, but now, he was forced to give it a second thought…
Swallowing dryly, Zhuo Fan looked heavily at him, “Just who are you? Where does the Yun clan come from?”
He refused to believe that the mortal domain housed such an unimaginable clan. [He’s a branch of the Sheng clan. He has to be!]
Yun Xuanji had a puzzled look, “Steward Zhuo, what are you saying? Yun clan has always lived in seclusion, being weak at fighting. At the founding of Tianyu we were asked to come out of obscurity and have been treated as its Parish ever since. To answer your question of where we come from, I can only reply with Tianyu!”
Zhuo Fan was thrown in a loop now. [Can a clan of such incredible skill have such bland origins? Or have they lived for so long that they forgot about their own history?]
Zhuo Fan had a faint smile on and shamelessly plopped back in his seat, “High Priest, please don’t mind my previous outburst. So, where were we? Ah, it’s been ages since I had such a refreshing chat with someone, ha-ha-ha…”
Yun Xuanji’s face twitched and he laughed to himself, “Steward Zhuo, your reputation precedes you. Flexible, knowing no shame, and quite like myself back in the day.”
“High Priest, are you patronizing me, or mocking yourself?” Zhuo Fan felt awkward.
High Priest shook his head, “We’ve all been young once. But now, at my age, this seat is different from how I saw it then. So I wished to have a talk with Steward Zhuo, giving our all for a better tomorrow…”