1870 I Will Take Responsibility
Profound Literature grotto-heaven.
A warship with five decks was moving on a large river flowing towards the east.
"The jade river spans across the land, reflecting the red jade heart of people! It is hard to imagine the unrivaled talent of Emperor Gu Wen. He could actually write such a verse when he was just seven years old." Su Qi Han sighed while gazing at the vast river.
She was the current imperial minister's daughter. She was graceful, beautiful, cultured, and elegant. Besides her beauty, she was most praised for her literary talent. Her mind was filled with poems and had a good knowledge of the historical records, putting most men to shame.
"Young miss, wind has started blowing, you need to be careful of catching a cold. How about we return to the room." Her maid urged.
Su Qi Han sighed but still stood behind the ship railings and watched the flowing river.
The maid persisted: "Young miss, are you worried about the journey? Wasn't that thief forced away by you? We have already selected eight of the ten great scholars, can't we just choose the next two casually?"
Su Qi Han shook her head: "You don't understand. Choosing the ten great scholars is not just an imperial edict but also concerns my Su clan's prosperity."
The maid curled her lips: "Young miss, I don't understand these imperial laws but you must take your medicine now."
Su Qi Han smiled bitterly: "What effect can common herbal medicine have on my injuries? It is just to comfort myself, it doesn't matter even if I drink it."
The maid stomped her foot: "Young miss, don't try to deceive me. This herbal medicine has no effect on your injuries, but you've always been weak to the cold since you were a child, if you do not drink this warm medicine, your lungs might get damaged. So, you must drink this medicine."
"Alright, alright, bring it over." Su Qi Han was helpless against her personal maid, she took the bowl and finished it all.
She had just finished drinking when she heard a wild laugh.
Soon after, a figure jumped out of the water and landed on the deck.
"Who is it?"
"That thief again!"
The ship guards moved immediately and surrounded the person.
But this person was very strong, after a chaotic battle, the guards ended up lying on the ground.
"You are not his match, retreat for now." Su Qi Han's expression was solemn as she moved to the front and prepared to fight.
The person had an ugly and ferocious-looking face, he had a large and broad body with his skin having a color of bluish black like a shark, this was the result of using shark skin Gu.
"Miss Su." He greeted with a wide smile, revealing his sharp teeth which made him look even more ferocious.
Su Qi Han smiled coldly: "Shark Bandit, you lost to me not long ago, was that lesson not enough? You still dare to come back!"
Shark Bandit laughed sinisterly: "Lady Su, I am not your match but that was before you drank that medicine. Don't you feel your limbs becoming numb?"
Su Qi Han's expression changed immediately.
"The medicine was tampered with?!" She looked towards her personal maid.
The maid quickly shook her head, her face pale as paper: "Impossible! The medicine had always been in my sight. Young miss, you must believe me."
"The medicine… cough cough, has no issue. Cough, cough… but the herbs have… cough, been tampered with." Right at this moment, an uninvited guest climbed the ship rails and stepped on the deck.
Su Qi Han's brows furrowed tightly, her heart sinking to rock bottom: "Medicine Demon, you are still alive!"
Medicine Demon looked like an elderly man but he was actually only in his twenties. He cultivated poison path and blindly pursued strength, causing him to suffer a backlash which made his whole body aged, internally and externally.
Medicine Demon's eyes showed deep hatred: "All thanks to your elder cousin, I won't live for long. But being able to have a taste of Lady Su's body before I die will be worth it."
Su Qi Han's expression paled as she took a step back: "What drug did you give me?"
She felt her whole body beginning to turn numb.
Medicine Demon laughed loudly: "Naturally — the strongest aphrodisiac! It can make the most chaste girl into the most lewd and obscene slut!"
Before he even finished speaking, Shark Bandit pounced forward.
Boom boom boom!
Sounds of explosions rang as Su Qi Han was forced to retreat again and again.
"Young miss, leave quickly, I will hold them back!" At the crucial moment, the maid stood out and sacrificed herself to stall for time for Su Qi Han.
Su Qi Han fell into deep hesitation.
"Young miss, leave quickly!" The maid activated a forbidden technique, her battle strength rose explosively but the outcome would be her certain death.
Su Qi Han cried as she jumped out and ran across the water: "Shark Bandit, Medicine Demon, I will never forgive you. The Imperial Court will also execute your nine generations!"
In a pavilion by the river.
There were two people.
One was Fang Yuan's clone Li Xiao Bai, the other was his master, Teacher Jiang.
Teacher Jiang gazed at the scene of the river in the night and said to Li Xiao Bai: "Come, write a poem and recite it to me. You have ten steps of time."
The ten steps referred to the time taken by a normal person to walk ten steps.
Li Xiao Bai's talent was not as good as the main body's, but through this period of painstaking effort and training, there was huge progress and he was able to immediately recite two lines.
After a while of thinking, he added another two lines.
Teacher Jiang was silent for a while before shaking his head: "Little Bai, you have made huge progress during this time, but with your talent, you are still lacking to fight for the position of a great scholar."
"Teacher, I know poem composition within ten steps is Emperor Gu Wen's test. Emperor Gu Wen created the scholar selection test, the Imperial Court will choose ten great scholars every twenty years. This poem composition within ten steps is the first test for the scholar selection. I have already passed it, teacher, why do you not recommend me to participate in the selection?" Li Xiao Bai asked in confusion.
Teacher Jiang turned around and looked at his favorite student, speaking with a smile: "Little Bai, you don't know the whole situation. The ten great scholars selection looks like a glorious competition on the surface, but it is in actuality a competition to cultivate future Imperial Court officials."
"Teacher, you are talking about immortal ascension?" Li Xiao Bai was astonished.
Li Xiao Bai was only acting, naturally. In fact, he already knew about everything.
Fang Yuan's heaven form killer move was a powerful method to inspect grotto-heavens, even if Profound Literature grotto-heaven had a rank eight Gu Immortal guarding it, it was helpless against the constant inspection by heaven form from outside the grotto-heaven.
In this Profound Literature grotto-heaven, information path was the main path, every time a Gu Master wrote a great literary piece, they would be rewarded by the grotto-heaven.
Originally, this grotto-heaven was filled with many individual forces, with Gu Immortals establishing independent territories. But later, someone called Emperor Gu Wen appeared. This person's natural aptitude was extremely high and had unsurpassed talent, he became a Gu Immortal at a frightening speed. Later, he made a move against other Gu Immortals, either killing them or making them submit. He created the Imperial Court and put the whole grotto-heaven under his rule.
In his latter years, he created ten great scholars selection to choose the most outstanding talents in the whole world, giving them honor and titles.
The Imperial Court selected suitable people among these scholars and recruited them, giving them resources and raising them to Gu Immortals, before appointing them as officials.
As such, the Imperial Court was the strongest super force in Profound Literature grotto-heaven. Every high ranking official was a Gu Immortal with no exception.
The current emperor naturally was also a Gu Immortal. And the rank eight Gu Immortal guarding this grotto-heaven was the retired emperor from three generations ago.
As it involved the chance of becoming an immortal, the ten great scholar selection looked like a beautiful competition, but the hidden undercurrents reeked with blood.
Every force contended and fought using all kinds of connections and relations, they tried to get the position by hook or by crook.
"Great Scholar Shen who competed against Teacher Jiang was one of the ten great scholars in one of the selections. But his political talent is not outstanding, or maybe, he doesn't have a powerful background, so he is still at rank five peak stage."
"This teacher of mine is also the same. He had once been one of the ten great scholars, but was not recruited to be an official."
"My talent barely meets the standard of the selection. Moreover, I am my teacher's disciple and have his influence, the Imperial Court won't like this, even if I am selected, I probably won't be a high-ranking official. At most, I will only be a junior official who will have to work hard for the Imperial Court and this will delay my cultivation. I have no one to back me up so my cultivation will keep on being delayed my whole life."
"Teacher Jiang and Great Scholar Shen probably saw this future, so they were not willing to become officials and wandered outside the Imperial Court. One opened a private school while the other roamed everywhere."
Li Xiao Bai was clear in his mind.
It could not be said Teacher Jiang and Great Scholar Shen did not have a future. If they could solve the mystery of immortal ascension and successfully pass the tribulation, they would also become Gu Immortals.
But this Profound Literature grotto-heaven was small when compared to the five regions, and had very limited resources. Moreover, the colossal Imperial Court controlled almost all the immortal materials, it was extremely difficult and almost hopeless for people like Teacher Jiang and Great Scholar Shen to become Gu Immortals.
Teacher Jiang invited Li Xiao Bai alone to the riverside and conversed with him to persuade this student to give up on the current ten great scholars selection. He was actually showing deep concern.
He knew Li Xiao Bai's strength was low, although it fulfilled the minimum standard, there was simply no hope.
The ten great scholars selection was a whirlpool which had killed many young scholars. Teacher Jiang had made painstaking efforts to teach and guide Li Xiao Bai, he did not want this student to be implicated and die a miserable death.
However, he did not know Li Xiao Bai was aware of everything, he was even clear of how to become an immortal.
But the show still had to be performed.
Li Xiao Bai asked questions first which was then followed by him expressing his regrets and unwillingness to give up. Finally, he solemnly thanked Teacher Jiang and said he was willing to give up on this selection, and even give up on the future selections.
"This child is worth teaching!" Teacher Jiang felt huge relief and left with a relaxed heart.
Li Xiao Bai moved along the riverside towards the way back home.
"I can become an immortal by myself. But if I rashly undergo immortal ascension at such a fast speed, it will definitely make that rank eight Gu Immortal vigilant. He will definitely investigate and if he finds any clues or even has only a trace of doubt, I will be in a fatal danger."
This was not the outcome Li Xiao Bai and Fang Yuan's main body wanted to see.
Fang Yuan had used soul replacement and secretly arranged this clone, Li Xiao Bai, to save time and let the clone open the way, and even gain control of this Profound Literature grotto-heaven alone.
Although this was only a small move, if it succeeds, it would definitely save a lot of Fang Yuan's time and energy.
Naturally, there was also a backup plan.
When Li Xiao Bai grows to a certain stage, he could cooperate with the main body outside to scheme against the rank eight Gu Immortal.
"But it is too early for that."
"I can be considered as having established my footing because of Teacher Jiang. I studied hard in this period of time and have gained some fame. But this environment is not enough to continue my progress."
"If I can be selected as a great scholar, it will definitely be a springboard for me. Unfortunately, I have no power or background, and only have a teacher. I will definitely not have a good ending if I participate in the selection."
"Actually, joining the Imperial Court is the best cultivation path. The Imperial Court controls most of the immortal materials, even if I become an immortal in the future, it will be hard to achieve anything further without these cultivation resources."
Li Xiao Bai was lamenting inwardly when his steps paused.
He saw a person lying on a bush in the riverside.
"Miss, what's the matter with you?" After confirming the surrounding condition, Li Xiao Bai went to help the girl.
When he carried the unconscious girl to the shore, he shockingly discovered this person was actually Su Qi Han!
"This Su Qi Han is the current high ranking official Chancellor Su's daughter, and is in charge of this current ten great scholars selection competition. She was actually injured to the point she was unconscious!"
"Chancellor Su is a rank six Gu Immortal, Su Qi Han is also a predetermined future official of the Imperial Court, she definitely has immortal methods to protect her. But she actually fell into such a predicament, this ten great scholars selection's hidden undercurrents are truly too deep."
Inside Profound Literature grotto-heaven, men and women could become immortals without discrimination, both could become officials as well, naturally. Many women were even more talented than men.
A large number of all-girls private schools and institutes were spread all over Profound Literature grotto-heaven.
And the ten great scholars naturally were not only males and also included women.
Just as he was thinking, Su Qi Han woke up with a light sound.
"You saved me?" She looked at Li Xiao Bai with a heated look.
Li Xiao Bai thought: "Why is there something wrong with this gaze?"
He nodded his head and was just about to speak.
Su Qi Han covered his lips and turned around suddenly, pressing Li Xiao Bai to the ground.
"This, what is she trying to do?" Li Xiao Bai's body tensed up, he was a little muddled, what was she playing at?
Su Qi Han sat on his body and began to remove his clothes in a hurry.
Li Xiao Bai was bewildered and said while stammering: "Miss Su, Miss Su, please behave yourself!"
Su Qi Han's movements paused as her eyes narrowed: "You know me?"
Li Xiao Bai gulped his saliva, his forehead filled with cold sweat: "Miss Su, you are selecting the ten great scholars, of course I know you. Miss Su, I am Teacher Jiang's student and had parted with Teacher Jiang just earlier."
Li Xiao Bai was truly afraid, Su Qi Han had rank five peak stage cultivation, he was not her match.
At present, there were only the two of them at the riverside. Su Qi Han was in a strange state, Li Xiao Bai mentioned Teacher Jiang to prevent himself from being harmed.
Su Qi Han took a deep gaze at Li Xiao Bai, an unnatural blush floated on her face as she gave a deep sigh: "It's too late, your teacher is already far away. Right now, within ten li of distance, there is only you and me."
"What are you trying to do? Ah!" Li Xiao Bai was struck gently by Su Qi Han and fell into a daze.
This was absolutely not something he wanted.
According to his plan, he could grow stably. But now, he was like meat on the chopping board, others could do whatever they wanted.
If his secret were to be discovered, that would be extremely bad!
Li Xiao Bai wanted to remain clear-headed, but Su Qi Han's methods were unique. He used all his strength to struggle but could not even budge.
In his dazed state, he felt like he had landed in an icy cave, next, it was like he had fallen into raging waves, moving up and down.
Then, the cave became warmer like a gentle wind had brushed past his face, light rain drizzled as it became more warm and moist.
Finally, he felt like he had turned into a waterfall, with a torrential explosion, he fainted in pleasure.
Who knew how long passed, he woke up slowly.
He was extremely exhausted and a trace of weakness surged in his body.
He quickly inspected the situation and saw his clothes were already torn completely and he was lying inside a cave.
Su Qi Han was in the midst of dressing herself beside him.
"Miss… Miss Su…" Li Xiao Bai barely opened his mouth, he did not even have the strength to speak much.
Su Qi Han continued to put on her clothes without looking at him, her voice was calm: "It has already been three days and three nights since we met."
"Relax, I…" She paused as she was finally unable to hide the turbulence in her heart, her voice even shaking a little: "I will take responsibility."