OMF V2C9 A Tough Question

The two Elders blinked and stared at the heap the hut was reduced to. Elder Suo felt cold sweat running down his back.
This … What was this boy thinking?! That was Elder Kong’s hut! How dare he! Was he really expecting to become a disciple of the inner sect like this?!
Elder Kong needed a moment longer for his thoughts to catch up. After all, this had been his home for several decades. Standing before its ruins wasn’t that easy to cope with. But in the end, he just sighed lightly. He was a practitioner, so he felt like he shouldn’t be too attached to such things. The most important thing should always be the sword arts.
Before he had completely gotten used to the idea of not having a roof above his head anymore and, even worse, of having to go to the sect master to request a new dwelling, the two Elders got another shock:
A seemingly young man was flying toward them on a sword. It wasn’t so much the fact that he was flying that shocked them because every practitioner would be able to do that as soon as he attained a certain mastery over the art of the sword. It was rather the fact that this seemingly young man looked a bit familiar.
Indeed, it was just a bit familiar because this man was obviously Grandmaster Zhangsun who only ever stepped out of his palace and came to see people when there was some grand occasion. Had they remembered the wrong year? Was it already time for the Gathering of practitioners that was held every seven years? But it seemed that had only been two years ago? Maybe they had identified the wrong person after all? But no. That was the same perpetual frown they had seen for a short moment two years back.
Zhangsun Xun Yi landed on the ground before them but ignored Elder Suo and Elder Kong. Instead, he turned toward Qiu Ling and sized him up.
When in his palace he had felt a formidable sword energy, something that most people would never manage to develop. The only regrettable thing about it was that he had felt quite the sinister aura alongside it. It was something like killing intent just stronger. Extremely unsettling.
“You. Was this your doing?”
Qiu Ling looked at the hut, then at the Grandmaster in front of him. He couldn’t confess, right? Then that guy would never take him in. “Uh … no. It collapsed all on its own.”
Zhangsun Xun Yi frowned even deeper.
Qiu Ling coughed. It seemed his future master wasn’t satisfied with that answer? “Uh … Maybe I had a teeny-tiny bit to do with it. Actually, those two Elders asked me to demonstrate some sword moves. It might have been that … some … stray … strike somehow lead to … this.” He looked in the other direction, just one step away from whistling a tune. It definitely wasn’t him! Don’t look at him like that!
Grandmaster Zhangsun nodded. “How old are you?”
Qiu Ling felt like breaking out in cold sweat. What was it with that ruthless question? His age was a sensitive issue, alright?!
Mn, what should he say? He couldn’t really remember anyway. It seemed like … it had been some ten thousand years since he took over the throne? No, wait, that might already be more than a hundred thousand years. Or …
In all honesty, Qiu Ling had not even the slightest idea how old he was exactly. He just knew he was older than Jing He by a large margin. Though he always thought that a mature partner was good for someone as insecure as Jing He, he still would have liked it if they were slightly closer in age. Well, that wasn’t the point now.
“Uh …” Maybe he should just estimate it? But that also didn’t sound that good in front of two mortals. Who knew if he took a number that was outside of a mortals life expectancy? Then how about guessing how old he looked?
“Twenty-ni— seven.” Qiu Ling frowned a little. For someone as vain as him guessing his own age based on his appearance was an even harder task than recalling his true age.
It couldn’t be too high or he’d feel like he looked old. Neither could it be too low or he’d feel like he didn’t look mature enough. No, a man should be somewhere in between: Mature but not old. It had to be just right.
Thinking of that … Jing He, of course, was also older than a normal mortal could ever hope to become. Especially since the gods aged slower than the dragons before they hit maturity. But appraising him from a mortal’s perspective he seemed quite young, probably around twenty-three or twenty-four years of age. Mn, having three or four years between us sounds good. That should make us a little closer, shouldn’t it?
Qiu Ling had once again forgotten that his beloved was a child at this moment. And that they would be separated by nearly twenty years if he really was twenty-seven. Not, that that would be a problem for someone who cultivated. Twenty years was next to nothing for these people.
Grandmaster Zhangsun nodded again, not caring in the slightest that the young man in front of him didn’t seem too sure.
Mn, good, he’s still young. There is still enough time to make sure he won’t stray from the right path.
“What’s your name?”
Qiu Ling nearly sighed in relief. Now the questions were getting easier! “Qiu Ling.”
Zhangsun Xun Yi nodded again. “Qiu Ling, I want to take you in as my disciple. Are you willing?”
Qiu Ling blinked. Huh? Just like that? He hadn’t even done anything! Why had that guy flown over on his own accord and asked to take him in?
Mn, maybe that’s my personal charm? “Uh … Why not?”
The two Elders next to them were appalled. That is Grandmaster Zhangsun asking if you want to become his disciple and you dare to say ‘Why not’?! Ungrateful brat! Of course, they wouldn’t dare to openly insult the new disciple of the Grandmaster even if you gave them a hundred guts, thus they could only gnash their teeth in anger and curse him in their thoughts.
Grandmaster Zhangsun didn’t care anyway. Even though that new disciple of his didn’t sound that enthusiastic he had at least said yes. That was all he cared about. “Come on then.” He took out his sword again, levitated and waited for Qiu Ling in the air. He somehow just assumed that Qiu Ling could do the same.
Indeed, Qiu Ling could. Flying was an innate ability of all dragons. They actually felt better in the air than on the ground oftentimes. It was just … How did one fly on a sword?
Qiu Ling eyed his own treasured weapon and then just lifted it. Never mind. If one could fly standing on a sword, then one could fly holding a sword, too. It seemed he had guessed right because the Grandmaster once again said nothing and just led the way.
Qiu Ling followed him silently, happy that he had already achieved his goal. Now, it wouldn’t take long before he could see his —
“We’ve arrived.” Grandmaster Zhangsun halted in the air and pointed down at a formation half hidden at the back of the peak he inhabited.
“This is …?” Qiu Ling wasn’t putting on a show of being a good disciple by asking this question. He really didn’t understand.
“Mn.” Grandmaster Zhangsun turned around toward him, still frowning as usual, though his expression seemed even grimmer. “When you were demonstrating your sword skills to the Elders just now I noticed some unstable energy that is leaning toward a sinister side. It is of utmost importance to curb this now while it hasn’t gotten out of hand. Thus, I want you to enter this formation. It leads to a special dimension tied to the Long mountain range and is a great place for you to gain experience and adjust your mental state.”
Qiu Ling looked at the formation with a wry smile. That Grandmaster was surprisingly perceptive. He was indeed not of a stable mind since Jing He had left the nine heavens. “How do I know how long I should stay inside?”
“You’ll naturally know.” Grandmaster Zhangsun motioned at the formation again.
Qiu Ling sighed. He had achieved his goal of becoming this Grandmaster’s disciple but that also meant that he’d need to follow his arrangements for the time being. And unfortunately, that guy was even right. If he didn’t go, this might get out of hand and then he’d cause trouble for Jing He. He certainly didn’t want that.
Qiu Ling looked back at where the outer sect was situated. He could faintly feel the mark he had left behind on Jing Yi’s brow. I’ll return as soon as possible. Just let me do this first.
With that thought, Qiu Ling stepped through the formation into the Yun Zou sect’s special dimension.

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