After Perfected Yun left, Wang Erguan feigned some consolation.
“Don’t be disheartened,” he said.
‘That black-eyed chicken doesn’t know its place.
Besides, we’re human beings.
When did we start letting mere beasts dictate to us?”

“I’m not disheartened,” Lin Shouxi replied.

On the contrary, he was growing more curious about his own origins.
He knew that the fear in the white sparrow’s pupils stemmed from the sword scripture within him.
The black phoenix… what connection did it have with the white phoenix of legend?

Xiao He couldn’t stand Wang Erguan’s dismissive attitude anymore.
With a determined look, she walked over to Lin Shouxi and grabbed his sleeve.
“Let’s go,” she said firmly.
“We don’t need to listen to a mere beast dictate to us.”

Wang Erguan’s face reddened as he glared at the others.
“You!” he exclaimed, then muttered to himself, “Hmph, you must be jealous because I performed the best today.
But arguing with you won’t change anything, so I’m not in the mood to waste my time.”

The assessment for today had ended.
Though that sudden thunderbolt at the end had scared everyone, Perfected Yun had passed it off as a coincidence after failing to calculate its origin.

But before he left, he wrote down several cultivation methods on the courtyard walls in order of importance.

In everyone’s eyes, Lin Shouxi, who couldn’t make the white sparrow speak, had performed the worst.
But Xiao He still liked to stick to him.

“Xiao He is really loyal,” Ji Luoyang said with a smile.

“Hmph, I think that girl is just shallow.
Watch me, I’ll look better than him once I lose weight!” Wang Erguan said angrily.

Ji Luoyang’s smile faded.
“Lin Shouxi is not just some pretty boy.
He has solid martial arts skills.”

“It sounds like the two of you have gotten pretty close,” Wang Erguan said, narrowing his eyes.

“The divine inheritance is drawing near.
He has extraordinary talent but suffers from serious injuries that won’t heal.
Yet he doesn’t wallow in self-pity.
He’s a very decent person,” Ji Luoyang said.

“Heh, I think he’s just putting up a front.
Who knows, when he’s alone in his room, he might be crying.”

Despite Wang Erguan’s strong opinion about Lin Shouxi, he had witnessed his impressive martial arts skills during a spar with Ji Luoyang.
Wang Erguan shamelessly asked Lin Shouxi for guidance, but he only received a one-word reply: “Forgot.” 

This left Wang Erguan feeling resentful and angry for a long time. 

However, Lin Shouxi had not lied to him.
The moment he began studying the White Pupil Black Phoenix Sword Scripture, he had forgotten everything he had previously learned.
All his previous martial arts skills had dissolved into his instinct, refined by the sword scripture.

Following that conversation, the next few days went by with everyone working hard on the core method left behind by Perfected Yun.

This core method, which was the most fundamental and effective one, consisted of three parts: refined body, tempered soul, and transcendent consciousness.
It allowed practitioners to strengthen their physical and mental capacities while enhancing their perception.

In addition to this core method, Perfected Yun had also left behind three small spells that were of little use to them, intended only to relieve boredom.
These three spells were cold expulsion, water repulsion, and taunt.

While cold expulsion’s ability to dispel cold was self-explanatory, it was currently summertime and unbearably hot, making it impossible to dispel any cold.
Similarly, water repulsion was easy to understand, but the ancient courtyard was surrounded by steep cliffs, and the nearby lake had dried up, making it difficult to find any water to repel.

Taunt, on the other hand, was used to release hostility, causing nearby enemies to have a desire to attack oneself.
However, as they were still relatively new to cultivation and barely able to protect themselves, they couldn’t see any situation in which they would ever use the provocation spell.

In general, the three spells were not very useful, yet they proved to be challenging to master.
According to Perfected Yun, their purpose was to assess the disciples’ aptitude for learning while they worked on building a solid foundation.

After the core method was introduced, Lin Shouxi only read through the techniques once on the first day and never looked at them again.

Xiao He accompanied Lin Shouxi in his leisurely activities.
Meanwhile, Ji Luoyang and Wang Erguan seemed to be secretly competing with each other.

“Why do you keep looking at this Cold Expulsion Technique? What use is this useless skill? Learning it is just a waste of time,” Wang Erguan asked Ji Luoyang curiously.

“There must be a deeper meaning to it since the Perfected One left it here for us to learn,” Ji Luoyang replied.

“What deeper meaning?”

“It wouldn’t be a deeper meaning if it could be easily understood?”

“Hmm… makes sense,” Wang Erguan muttered to himself.
“But now that it’s so hot, just seeing the words ‘cold expulsion’ makes me feel irritable.
Practicing this type of spell is difficult, and its usefulness is limited.
It’s really not that meaningful.
It’s not too late to practice it during the winter season.”

“Whether you practice it or not is up to you,” Ji Luoyang said nonchalantly.

That night, Wang Erguan couldn’t sleep, so he came to the wall and began to practice the Cold Expulsion Technique.

Two days later, he ran to Ji Luoyang, sweating profusely and said proudly, “Hahaha, this Cold Expulsion Technique is nothing.
I have already mastered it! Come on, let’s compare!”

“Oh, I didn’t practice it,” Ji Luoyang said.

“What?!” Wang Erguan was shocked.
“Then why were you looking at it?”

“Trying to see if I can learn anything from it,” Ji Luoyang said.
“I never said I was practicing it.”

“What have you been doing the past two days?” Wang Erguan demanded.

“Strengthening my foundation,” Ji Luoyang said calmly.

Wang Erguan felt a tightness in his chest.
“Are you crazy?” he exclaimed.

In contrast to the diligent cultivation inside the house, there was heavy fog and tranquility outside the courtyard.
Lin Shouxi still sat at the cliff’s edge with Xiao He, looking out at the hazy, endless dried-up lake, silent.

After a while, Xiao He spoke, and her first words startled Lin Shouxi.

“That bird from the other day, it was afraid of you, wasn’t it?” Xiao He said.
“It may have had the blood of the white phoenix, but it was too scared to speak up.”

“… ” Lin Shouxi thought for a moment before saying, “You must be mistaken.”

“I’m not mistaken,” Xiao He replied.
“I grew up in the mountains and was close to birds.
Although we were far away from it, I could sense the bird’s emotions.”

“What do you think then?” Lin Shouxi asked.

“I don’t know,” Xiao He shook her head.
“Although I don’t know your background, at the least, I know you’re special.”

“You are special too,” Lin Shouxi replied.

“I… am not,” Xiao He protested, closing her eyes.

Lin Shouxi looked down at the steep cliff beneath them and asked, “Aren’t you scared?”

“I am,” Xiao He admitted timidly.

“Then why do you come here every day to keep me company?” Lin Shouxi asked.

“Because you’re here,” Xiao He replied simply.

Lin Shouxi fell silent, and Xiao He leaned against his shoulder and slowly drifted off to sleep.

In her dreams, her slender shoulders trembled lightly, her thin lips slightly opened, and she murmured, “Aunt… it’s cold.”

Lin Shouxi lightly tapped the void with his fingers, using the Cold Expulsion Technique to chase away the cold for her.
Then he took off his Taoist robe and draped it over her.

As if a soft part of his heart had been touched, Lin Shouxi looked at her and, for once, stopped his cultivation.

The girl’s slender body under her cotton skirt was as beautiful as a cluster of clouds.
He couldn’t help but think of a young lotus floating in a pond, decorating the snow.

“Was it really me that you saw in your vision that day?” Lin Shouxi asked the girl softly, but she was already asleep and couldn’t hear him.

Lin Shouxi suddenly felt that it would be nice to have this little girl as his companion.

Three days had passed unnoticed.

Perfected Yun returned after three days to inspect everyone’s progress, and found that Wang Erguan had made the most rapid improvement.
He took Wang Erguan aside and the latter knew that Perfected Yun was going to focus on nurturing him.
He followed behind Perfected Yun, appearing humble but in reality, he was ecstatic.

Perfected Yun took Wang Erguan away from the steep cliffs and led him to an outer mansion belonging to the Wu family.
The mansion was shrouded in a sinister atmosphere, with a huge roof resembling a hat, casting a large shadow.
Several birdcages were suspended under the eaves, housing red-eyed sparrows.

“Choose a magic tool or a secret manual,” Perfected Yun said.

“Can I choose anything?” Wang Erguan asked.

“This is the Wu family’s treasure vault, and even I cannot control the real treasures inside.
If you have the ability, take whatever you want,” Perfected Yun said coldly.

“If even the Perfected One, whose methods span heaven cannot control them, how could I dare be so presumptuous?” Wang Erguan flattered.

Perfected Yun remained silent and drew a talisman on the door with his finger.

The door opened.

What came was not the sparkle of treasures, but a suffocating sense of oppression.

Wang Erguan walked in carefully and felt as if something had grabbed his heart.
The deeper he went, the heavier the feeling became.
He was sure that if he dared to go further, his heart would burst and he would die.

Wang Erguan wandered around inside for quite some time.
He realized that his skills in swordsmanship and martial arts were inadequate, and even if he took a famous sword or knife, it would only be a decoration.
If he chose a magic technique, he would have to spend time practicing it, which would not be worth it.

So he decided to pick a magic treasure that wouldn’t be a loss.

After browsing through countless items, he finally chose a ring with a red gemstone on it.
When activated with mana, it could shoot out rockets unexpectedly.

Wang Erguan wanted to take a few more small magic treasures, but as soon as the thought came to him, he felt as if his heart was being twisted by a knife.

He quickly dismissed the idea.

Finally, he walked out of the vault and saw an old man with a hunched back standing in front of Perfected Yun.

“What’s the matter now?” Perfected Yun asked.

“The Diviner… died last night,” the old dwarf said cautiously.

The Diviner was a type of sorcerer whose duty was to predict the future.

“So what? That old woman went crazy fifteen years ago and has been babbling nonsense ever since.
It’s better that she died earlier and brought peace,”Perfected Yun said indifferently.
“She didn’t say anything crazy before she died, did she?”

“Before the Diviner died, she did predict something.
She asked me to…” the old dwarf hesitated.

“She asked you to pass on a message to me?” Perfected Yun asked.

“Perfected One is extremely intelligent.”

“What did she say?”

The old slave looked at Wang Erguan and hesitated to speak.

“He is the future divine servant of the first young master.
You can speak in front of him,” Perfected Yun said.

With those words, Wang Erguan finally knew who Perfected Yun had been preparing him for.
And since he had a first in his title, he most likely held the highest position among his siblings…

As he was pondering this, the old slave suddenly imitated the crazy Diviner’s appearance before she died.
His pupils dilated, his irises trembling like a buzzing fly, and he spoke in a hoarse, unpleasant voice like a dying crow:

“Death comes for you, Perfected Yun.
I await you in the underworld.”

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