Meanwhile, the Hao branch strongly opposed the citadel lord’s proposal. They were quite adamant in this regard.
The Hao branch was a powerful family in the Heavenvine Citadel. They had an ancient and powerful bloodline, especially their main disciple, Hao Yuzhen. Hao Yuzhen had an old regal bloodline. Both their background and bloodline were extremely noble.
The reason was very simple. Hao Yuzhen and Teng Jiwen were evenly-matched and both were competitors for the seat of the citadel lord.
At the same time, the current citadel lord and Teng Jiwen were from a different branch. Though this competition between the two branches had yet to escalate to a life-and-death level, it has never ceased.
In particular, the rivalry between Hao Yuzhen and Teng Jiwen was quite fierce. The old regal bloodline of Hao Yuzhen made their cultivation quite strong. On the other hand, Teng Jiwen had his wooden eyes, so he was equally powerful. Both of them had the potential to become the new lord.
Thus, the Hao branch naturally wouldn’t agree with this matter. If Li Qiye could actually cure the ancestral vine, this would result in a great merit for Teng Jiwen.
“He is only a charlatan of unknown origin, why should we trust his words?” An ancestor from the Hao branch was certain that Li Qiye was here for the calabash: “If our ancestral vine’s calamity was really as grave as he says, we would have felt it already. Even our forefathers don’t seem to think so. The calamity is clearly sealed, he is just trying to get attention.”
Many ancestors outside of the Hao branch agreed as well. After all, there were no negative signs coming from their ancestral vine.
If it was on the verge of collapse, the citadel would have felt it by now. There should at least be some ominous signs, but none were to be found. This was indicative of the vine’s current status. Moreover, their seal was completely untouched as well.
“I don’t think so.” The citadel lord went against the crowd: “If Mister Li was a liar, he should know that there would be no place for him to stay at the Heaven Spirit World after tricking us. However, if he is confident enough about his own strength to deal with us, then does he need to lie in the first place?”
With that, he glanced at each ancestor and said: “Moreover, he knows more than even our imagination, secrets unknown to outsiders. How could a mere charlatan be privy to these things?”
The Hao Ancestor coldly retorted: “Some things will be found out if people try hard enough to learn about them. Plus, who dares to say with certainty that no one else has leaked the secret?”
The lord ignored him and focused on the other ancestors instead: “Let us take a step back and assume that Mister Li is simply exaggerating. Our ancestral vine was indeed inflicted by this calamity. Because of this, we have been trying to find treatments from one generation to another, yet we still haven’t found an alchemist capable of doing so. But now, Mister Li is confident in his ability to cure our ancestral vine — this is a once-in-myriad-generations opportunity for us.” 1
The Hao Ancestor asserted: “What if he is just bragging in order to scheme for the Heavenvine Calabash?”
The citadel lord looked at him and flatly said: “Gentlemen, all of our ancestors are here. Do you think a single junior can deceive all of us? If Mister Li is able to cure our ancestral vine, it will finally resolve this timeless agony. Even if he doesn’t, what do we have to lose? If we don’t even have the courage to try, we will never be able to cure our ancestral vine.”
These words were quite logical. The ancestors here gandered at each other and thought that how could a junior possibly trick all of them?
“We can indeed let Mister Li try.” An ancient ancestor finally spoke: “It would be great if he can actually succeed, but he is asking for too much. You should know that the Heavenvine Calabash cannot be traded.”
“That’s right!” The Hao Ancestor immediately parroted: “Do you know what it means to not have the calabash for our citadel? We have too many ancestors relying on it to renew their lifespans!”
Many ancestors fell silent about this topic. At this moment, they had several heaven-defying ancestors that needed the calabash to prolong their lives. Without it, they would have fallen long ago. One could even say that without it, it would be a huge loss for the citadel in the near future.
The citadel lord contemplated quietly for a second. In fact, he meticulously considered this problem before the meeting and had made up his mind.
He stood up to look at the ancestors and raised his voice: “Ancestors, apologies for the upcoming disrespectful words from this junior. Even though the calabash is very important to us, what is more important than the ancestral vine…”
“… Without the ancestral vine, the citadel will cease to exist. Upon its collapse, what will be left of this place? Only a few islands scattering about at sea! This alone cannot help us reach the pinnacle in the Heaven Spirit World! Without the ancestral vine, our children will have to leave their home! Please ask yourselves, is the calabash more important than the ancestral vine?!” He was very solemn in his speech.
This was difficult for many of these ancestors. Of course, the ancestral vine was the most important for them. However, those who don’t put themselves first would be scorned by the heaven and earth. This was especially true for the dying ancestors. They would be doomed without the calabash! Moreover, they still thought that there was room to delay the treatment since they had ample time! 2
“Collapse — this matter is still too far away from us.” The Hao Ancestor coldly said: “We have plenty of time to find an alchemist who can heal it. We don’t necessarily have to rely on this Junior Li!”
The citadel lord uttered clearly: “It might be far away and we might have enough time to find the right alchemist, but one thing is certain. For many generations, we have never been able to find one!”
The ancestors here found themselves in a dilemma. If Li Qiye could actually cure the ancestral vine, it meant that they must pay a great price! Not everyone would be willing to do so.
“On this matter, I will have to consult some of the older ancestors.” The oldest ancestor here made his decision.
The citadel lord and the younger ancestors could only agree. They would make a final call after the ancient ancestors have made up their minds.
Regardless of whether they would employ his service, the great hospitality did not go away. Li Qiye was still treated as an esteemed guest.
He stared at the vast sea above his room on top of the giant leaf. His eyes then focused on the distant horizon.
The truth was that he didn’t care for the ancestors’ decision. Regardless of the result, he must obtain the Heavenvine Calabash with or without their consent.
A sweet breeze blew by. A woman suddenly floated closer and stood by his side.
She was very beautiful and emitted a fresh aura like a pearl placed on top of a green leaf.
She looked at him and asked: “Are you the alchemist invited by Senior Brother Teng?”
He looked at her and faintly smiled: “Yes, that’s me.”
She said: “I am a Heavenvine disciple. Senior Brother Teng asked me to come here to tell you to leave right away!”
Li Qiye laughed in response: “Leave? Why should I have to leave?”
“Sir, you might be unaware of this, but the situation is quite unfavorable for you.” She explained: “The ancestors think that you want to steal our calabash, so they want to imprison you…”
Li Qiye burst out in laughter before she could finish as if he had just heard the funniest thing in his life.
“Why do you laugh?” She didn’t understand.
Li Qiye observed her for a bit before leisurely replying: “An ancient regal bloodline flows within you. At the Heavenvine City, only the Hao branch has this old treant bloodline!”
“There are two main branches, Hao and Teng. For millions of years, sometimes the citadel lord would have someone from a different last name, but the majority of the time, this position would be taken by one of these two branches.” Li Qiye smiled and looked at the girl: “Teng Jiwen has wooden pupils, so he is qualified to be the citadel lord. Your regal bloodline could keep up with him, but barely. When his wooden pupils reach the peak, it could sentence one’s life and death!”
The girl was startled and had to stagger back after hearing this. She stared at Li Qiye as if he was a ghost. Not even in her dreams would she expect for this seemingly insignificant person to reveal her identity.
“You’re only a junior yet you still dare to scheme before me? You don’t know your own limits.” Li Qiye lazily sneered: “You just want to scare me away before telling everyone that I have escaped from being found out. Then you would put the blame on Teng Jiwen in order to smear him. This little trick is not enough to get into my sight.”
The girl’s complexion turned white then green in a short period of time. Her tricks were exposed in such a humiliating manner!
1. Once in a lifetime sounds so much better but it has been used recently. This phrase sounds silly in English, but it does elevate the scale and stay true to the raw 2. This is a common idiom that has a twisted meaning in this particular usage. The original intent is: those who don’t cultivate themselves would be scorned by the heaven and earth. Cultivating oneself is one step to benefit society and others, not just for the self. However, the new meaning in literature is: those who don’t put themselves first would be scorned by the heaven and earth. It is a justification for selfishness. Everyone is selfish, so you have to be as well in order to survive. Of course, there are other interpretations of this idiom. Another one is: those who don’t better themselves (by taking action) will be scorned by the heaven and earth. One must be active and work for improvement or the heavens will not help you.