Chapter 241 Prime Struggle
The next day, the siblings set off for Azure Dragon Sword Mountain, arriving early in the morning. The mountain was straight and steep, like a long sword piercing the sky. A monstrous sword intent was contained within the rocks and soil of Azure Dragon Sword Mountain. On the highest peak stood Azure Dragon Sword Hall, the residence of Elder Ye Shaoqing and the core of the mountain.
In fact, just the day before, the mountain and hall weren’t known by their present titles. As for what they used to be called, that was no longer important. From this day forth, as long as Ye Shaoqing remained a sect elder, Azure Dragon Sword Mountain would remain so.
In Azure Dragon Sword Hall, the ten great hall prefects, numerous exalted masters, and inner disciples of excellent talent were gathered. They had been left behind by the previous elder and now belonged to Ye Shaoqing.
For several years, the peak had had no master. However, today was the day a new elder took over and officially met them. It was also the day Ye Shaoqing would accept his new disciples. After the death of the previous elder, Azure Dragon Sword Mountain had no longer accepted direct disciples.
Tianming and Qingyu stood side by side in the hall. On the high seat above them sat Ye Shaoqing. When a new elder succeeded to the position, he must set rules and impose strict penalties to convince the masses.
Ye Shaoqing had performed well in this matter. Although he had taken over from someone else, the overall situation was set and his position well-cemented. Few would dare disobey him, at least on the surface.
"Is Hall Prefect Yuan Huitian at odds with our master?" Scanning the crowd below, Tianming focused on a tall man in black.
"Yes, Yuan Huitian is the youngest hall prefect here, and also a direct disciple of the previous elder. There are many people here who wanted him to succeed as the elder. However, Master is stronger and younger than him. In the final election, Master defeated Yuan Huitian in three moves, gaining the votes of the other elders."
Qingyu had both respect and admiration for Ye Shaoqing. Although they had just assumed a master-disciple relationship, Ye Shaoqing had often guided her over the years.
If Yuan Huitian hadn’t suffered defeat at the hands of Ye Shaoqing, he would certainly challenge him today. After all, having grown up on the mountain, it was what the masses expected of him.
"There’s one last thing I’d like to say. Although I’m new to Azure Dragon Sword Mountain, I’ll be responsible for everything here in the future." Ye Shaoqing rose to his feet.
Since Ye Shaoqing’s position had been determined, Yuan Huitian acted appropriately, bowing along with the other nine hall prefects. When Ye shaoqing defeated him in three moves, whatever reluctance he’d had had fizzled out. With the support of the prefects, Ye Shaoqing sat firmly as elder of Azure Dragon Sword Mountain.
Pleased with the progress, Ye Shaoqing smiled and waved at Tianming and Qingyu. Next up was the disciple ceremony.
"In honor of today’s occasion, I shall accept two direct disciples. Henceforth, let the entire sect know that Li Tianming is my senior disciple and Li Qingyu my second disciple." Announcing it on Azure Dragon Sword Mountain was tantamount to announcing it to the entire Grand-Orient Sect.
From now on, Tianming and Qingyu’s statuses were superior to all disciples in the hall.
"Take out your Azure Immortal Mountain disciple token," said Ye Shaoqing.
Putting aside the old token, Ye Shaoqing handed them a new direct disciple token created from a high-tier spirit ore.
"Keep these safe. These are the first and second direct disciple token from Azure Dragon Sword Mountain," said a smiling Ye Shaoqing.
Naturally, the siblings would take good care of their tokens, which were symbols of their identities. Even the position of Grand-Orient sect master garnered no such politeness from the disciples. However, every disciple of the sect revered the direct disciples, who were only inferior to the four prime disciples.
"Elder, I refuse to accept this! Of your two direct disciples, one is merely at Unity, while the other is mediocre and lazy. What qualifications could they possibly have to be worthy of their positions?"
A discordant voice rang through the hall. Beside Yuan Huitian stood a thin boy dressed in black. Despite his small stature, the young man’s eyes gleamed, his temperament overbearing and features powerful. Among all the disciples of the mountain, he was the most conspicuous.
Known as Gu Yu, the black-robed young man was a disciple of Yuan Huitian. Merely fifteen this year, he had cultivated to sixth-level Unity and was comparable to Qingyu. He was originally waiting for the day his master became elder, so he could be promoted to a direct disciple. His talent and strength were certainly worthy of that position.
Unfortunately, Ye Shaoqing had messed up his plans.
"Gu Yu, silence!" reprimanded Yuan Huitian.
Forced to bow his head in hatred, Gu Yu’s dissatisfaction was evident by his clenched fists. From within the hall came a cacophony.
"What a pity for Gu Yu. He could’ve been a direct disciple.”
“If only the new elder was willing to accept him as his disciple. But even so, I doubt Gu Yu would be willing. He’s one who respects his master and is set on Hall Prefect Yuan.”
“Even if Gu Yu doesn’t become a direct disciple, I don’t think we’re all convinced about Li Tianming and Li Qingyu’s strength.”
“The junior sect master has just recently emerged. He’s Li Wudi’s illegitimate child. Apparently, he defeated the ninth elder’s disciple, Li Xuanchen, shocking many onlookers."
"Well, I’ve got nothing to say about him. After all, he’s a pentabane. But Qingyu, on the other hand, is at fifth-level Unity, yet a year older than Gu Yu. If you look at it that way, Gu Yu is better than her.”
"But then again, many elders accept their descendants as disciples, even those whose talents are far inferior compared to Li Qingyu. I think the main reason Gu Yu failed to become a direct disciple is his own unwillingness to worship another master."
"Well, there’s no way out of that."
Though the words were whispered, they echoed through the hall. They represented the thoughts of most of the Azure Dragon Sword Mountain disciples.
In the face of such confusion, Ye Shaoqing smiled, his gaze fixed upon Gu Yu. "Do you think they aren’t qualified to become direct disciples because they’re inferior to you?"
Gu Yu glanced at Yuan Huitian, who didn’t seem to stop him from speaking. Plucking up his courage, he said, "Yes, Elder"
"You’ve never fought them. How are you certain they aren’t as strong as you?" asked Ye Shaoqing.
"That’s why I’m pleading for a chance to prove myself," replied Gu Yu.
"If you defeat them, will you worship me as master instead of Hall Prefect Yuan Huitian?" added Ye Shaoqing.
After a moment’s struggle, Gu Yu was well aware the new elder had given him an opportunity to become a direct disciple. However, one glance at Yuan Huitian reminded him of the unforgettable grace and kindness he had been shown over the long years.
"No. Once a teacher, always a father. Even if my master isn’t an elder, he is my master for life!" As soon as he said that, appreciative gazes fell upon him.
It took courage to express gratitude and remain loyal to one’s master.
"You don't want me as master, yet you’d like to prove that you’re better than them. Isn't it meaningless? If you defeat them, you’ll only prove my weakness in vision. What good does it bring you?" chuckled Ye Shaoqing.
"Um...." This time, Gu Yu was speechless. He was still a little nervous in the face of an elder.
Ye Shaoqing waved his hands and said, "Young man, don't worry. I also appreciate your show of backbone. You’re a good disciple, which makes me envy Hall Prefect Yuan. However, I won't grant you the opportunity to provoke my disciples today, not because I have no confidence in them, but because it’s meaningless. Believe me, you’ll see clearly in the future. When that happens, you’ll apologize to them on your own accord. Do you understand, Gu Yu?”
Ye Shaoqing’s lighthearted reply had gone against the norm. The others in the hall assumed he would have disciples defeat Gu Yu, simply to justify his vision. However, the opposite was true.
"I shall wait for that day, Elder.” Gu Yu gritted his teeth.
"It won't be long. The Prime Tower will soon be opened. As my direct disciples, they’ll both participate in the Prime Struggle five days from now. When the time comes, just watch. Gu Yu, you’re not their opponent." Ye Shaoqing's words stirred a bout of whispers and discussion among the crowd.
The Prime Struggle? Prior to this, Tianming had never heard of it. He looked at Ye Shaoqing in confusion.
"Elder, have you decided just like that?" asked Hall Prefect Yuan.
"What else could it be? The participants of the Prime Struggle must be direct disciples. Every elder is allocated two places, and I just so happen to have two direct disciples. Is there any reason for me to forfeit? Besides, Gu Yu isn’t willing to become my disciple and challenge Prime Tower."
"As you wish." There was little Yuan Huitian could do. Suggesting he worship a different master went against Gu Yu’s one-track mind. With Gu Yu’s mediocre talent, even if he participated in the Prime Struggle, he might not gain anything.
"Having said that, I hope they won’t perform too poorly and embarrass Azure Dragon Sword Mountain," said Yuan Huitian.
His words reflected the concerns of the newly-formed Azure Dragon Sword Mountain. The elders of the other thirty-three main peaks had direct disciples who had received their guidance over many years, all of them peerless geniuses.
Never mind if Tianming and Qingyu failed to reap any benefits, but bringing shame to Azure Dragon Sword Mountain was something they feared.
"Yes, the Prime Struggle is a well-recognized event.”
Whispers, like flies, resounded in the Azure Dragon Sword Hall, proving one thing: time would be required for Ye Shaoqing to completely subdue this group of people.
Since Ye Shaoqing was impeccable, the only weaknesses that could be exploited were his disciples. Whatever Tianming and Qingyu did would be magnified under the intense scrutiny. One mistake was all it would take to invite criticism. Although they couldn’t get rid of Ye Shaoqing, these people knew exactly how to give him a hard time.
As long as Ye Shaoqing was unhappy, they were delighted.