AST 166 -Soft spot for Goddesses? Becoming a Protector
“You rascal, what nonsense are you spewing?! You’re asking for a beating!” Yiye Jiange rarely spoke in this tone of voice.
“Master, you were such a great help that time, so let me present you these gifts,” Qing Shui handed over the Strength-Enhancing Fruit, Agility-Enhancing Fruit, and two Small Revitalizing Pellets that he prepared.
“Eh…? The 100-Year Fiery Power Fruit and the Clear Wind Fruit. How did you get these valuable items?” Yiye Jiange asked in amazement.
“These are homemade…if you don’t mind…”
Yiye Jiange was tickled by Qing Shui’s words and broke into soft, clear laughter that sounded truly divine. Qing Shui felt a sense of unexplainable elation when he had heard her laughter.
“You glib-tongue. You’re saying that you made fruits that could ripen only after a hundred years? What’s this?” Yiye Jiange pointed at the small ceramic bottle that contained two Small Revitalizing Pellets. She knew that Qing Shui would explain what they were if he wanted to, and decided not to press on.
“I studied some alchemy and cultivated a cauldron of medicinal pills. These are two pills that I left especially for you, Respected One.” Qing Shui gave a wink as he replied earnestly.
Yiye Jiange smiled and looked at Qing Shui without a word.
Qing Shui could not withstand her sharp, discerning scrutiny and confessed, “These Small Revitalizing Pellets are what I recently cultivated. They can augment your cultivation by twenty percent.”
Once again, a smile spread across Yiye Jiange’s face. Qing Shui felt a tinge of surprise and confusion.
“It’s the thought that counts; you should save these for yourself. Don’t you have plans in mind for the future? These should be of great help to your skills. Also, stop implying that I’m old. I’m not even thirty yet.”
Qing Shui was dumbfounded for a moment before answering, “A person can only consume a maximum of 2 pills. It would be a waste of my extra supplies. I’ve already had mine, and their effects and tastes are quite good. I kept these especially for you, but there aren’t much left now. I will send a portion of the pills to the Old Master later in the evening. I don’t even have enough for the other elders.”
Yiye Jiange did not find it strange that Qing Shui could cultivate medicinal pills. She knew that he was an extraordinary disciple, and indeed an enigma.
Yiye Jiange brought Qing Shui around the Cloud Mist Peak for a leisurely stroll. During their walk, both the goddess-like Yiye Jiange and Cloud Mist Peak exuded an air of ethereal poise. Qing Shui couldn’t help but ask, “Master, do you eat everyday?”
Baffled, Yiye Jiange looked at Qing Shui who asked in genuine earnesty. The Master laughed. “I’m actually also human, so of course I eat. Is there anything wrong with that?”
“Eating seems too mundane for my Master. Everyone who sees Master imagines you to be an otherworldly goddess, a deity who can sustain herself on immortal fruits in the deep mountains or forest,” Qing Shui rubbed his nose, slightly embarrassed.
“Deity? That sounds more like a barbarian. Should I take it as a compliment that I don’t seem like a human? As your punishment, you will prepare dinner tonight. It must be more exquisite than what I had at the Qing Clan before,” Yiye Jiange grinned.
“Not a problem!”
The Qing Shui before was always obedient, full of gratitude, and void of impiety. It would be a lie to say that he had no personal motive – who wouldn’t yearn for such a divine deity? Qing Shui always had a thing for older women and goddesses, but this interest was infeasible for now.
That night, Qing Shui made use of his Drunken Fragrance Fruit to whip up a table full of sumptuous delicacies. This made Yiye Jiange deeply impressed as she had thought nothing of Qing Shui’s culinary skills before. The feast at Qing Clan had been prepared by his mother; she did not think that this little chap could do the same. Judging by the aroma, his abilities seemed to be of an even higher standard.
At night, Qing Shui found a random room to stay in. It surprised Qing Shui to see pots and pans at Cloud Mist Peak. He was suddenly curious to see the goddess-like Master cooking.
On the second day, as Qing Shui completed his morning training, a bell in the Great Hall sounded thrice! The sound was melodious but depressing and piercing! It could be heard tens of miles away, but not deafening enough if you were right under the bell.
“Qing Shui, let’s go. Sect Master is preparing a formal inauguration for you and Wu-Shuang, and a ceremony for your nominations as Protectors!” Yiye Jiange informed Qing Shui who was next to her.
“Wouldn’t I have to rely on Master every time I enter?” Qing Shui asked as they mounted the Snow White Crane.
“Yes, so be obedient from now on or I’ll leave you alone bawling on Cloud Mist Peak.”
Qing Shui listened to the divine voice reprovingly lecturing him on what could have been a casual topic. He felt soothed and liberated. He knew that many were envious of him becoming Yiye Jiange’s disciple. They coveted not just the martial arts, but also the daily conversations with a goddess-like presence. One could derive great pleasure from hearing her heavenly voice every day.
When they arrived, there already was an orderly crowd assembled in front of the Great Hall. It did not seem as congested as when it was viewed in the front of the spacious Great Hall. As people were lined up in rows, Qing Shui scanned the crowd. There were ninety people per row with ninety rows total, which made up an audience of eight thousand and one hundred people.
All eyes were on the stunned Qing Shui. They were speculating Qing Shui’s identity, but there was not a murmur as he descended down with Yiye Jiange. Qing Shui was quietly in awe of the strict discipline in Skysword Sect.
Qing Shui stared at the sea of people. They stood in accordance to their ranks with yellow shirts occupying the very last row and red shirts in the front. He spotted Baili Wufeng among the red shirts, and grinned at the aloof youth who actually responded with a rare smile.
The remaining Protectors were dressed in purple, and were lined up on the side. Each had his own silvery-white, three-foot Indigo Sword and did not stand among the rows of people.
In a minute, they all arrived one after another with Baili Jingwei showing up just in time!
“Zhu Qing and Jiange. Let the two of them pay their respects to the Grand Master before announcing their nominations as Protectors!” Gongsun Sanqian said solemnly.
Their masters’ respects to the Grand Master in the Inner Great Hall signaled Qing Shui and Wu-Shuang’s formal entrance into the Skysword Sect. Qing Shui did not have a chance to take a look at the Great Hall before, so he only knew of its width and spaciousness. Now that he had the opportunity, it was enormous with its dimensions measuring in hundreds of miles, and contained various majestic sculptures.
Zhu Qing smiled charmingly, “Both of you better be prepared for a challenge; your roles as Protectors will be replaced once you are defeated by non-Protectors.”
“I’m not afraid of that, heh heh!” Qing Shui smirked at the comely and gorgeous-looking Zhu Qing.
Gasps could be heard from the crowd below as Qing Shui and Wu-Shuang were announced as the ninety-ninth and one-hundredth Protectors.
Following their announcements, two people came up each holding a purple shirt, a silver sword, and a bottle of Tiger Vitality Pill. The 4 levels of the Skysword Sect Library were thus open to them! These were exclusive privileges of a Protector with the admission to the Library being the most coveted privilege.
As though in a daze, Qing Shui stiffly followed what was commanded, but only realized that the ceremony was over when he saw that the crowd had dispersed.
“Master, didn’t you promise me a big gift when I would become part of the Skysword Sect? Why haven’t I received it yet, especially since the day is almost over? I can’t bear to leave without it, “ Qing Shui looked at the purple shirt, silver sword, and bottle of Tiger Vitality Pill in his hands. He recalled what Yiye Jiange had mentioned before.