125 Chapter 125
Half a day before the Patriarch of the Zhang Clan returned, his family members were all packed and ready to leave. They were slowly boarding the large flying vessel. This flying ship wasn't the same one that they used when going to the secret ground, it was a new and improved version with more space and better defensive formations.
This one looked like an elongated galleon, the characteristic dragon head was at the bow of the ship. This flying contraption also lacked any forms of sails and was propelled thanks to spiritual energy and something called a floating stone that was placed in the middle of the ship as its core. The various formations etched into the spirit wood would propel it forward while placing the cultivators inside in a thin membrane. The membrane was more of a shield that kept the winds out during a fast flight, it was even strong enough to repel cannon fire. Though there was a limit on how much damage it could take and would give out under prolonged bombardment.
There were cannons lined up on the side, the crew knew well how to use them in the times of battle. The middle part of the ship still had a steering wheel, but this flying galleon wasn't made for fast maneuvers as it was mostly designed to go forward in a straight line.
At this time Zhang Xue and Liu were sighing, they were expecting their master to come back to Moonlight City and come on this trip with them. The two of them didn't get to see their master all that often, most of the time he handed them a new technique here and there, with his teaching method they could learn the basics of the new techniques in a flash.
He was a very busy man though, they didn't get too see him often and he vary rarely gave them practical lessons. Most of them consisted of them waiting for him to show up and then getting left with a splitting headache during the transfer of knowledge via his index finger. They were quite grateful that they gained so much knowledge, but the two wanted to get closer to their uncle never having time to just chat or repay him in any shape or form.
This was why they were looking forward to the Dao Festival in Jade Grass City, it was held every five years and it was more or less a spot to show of your young disciples to the world. They wanted to make him proud by winning it, or at least making it into the top ten. There were no age brackets, so a sixteen-year-old could be facing someone five years older, that was quite the difference in experience.
The two had quite a high opinion of their Patriarch's skills. This was confirmed when they fought against their peers that were sticking to the water-based Zhang Clan techniques. Those techniques didn't stand a chance against theirs, even though they were also refined by their Patriarch.
"Wish Master wasn't always so busy all the time..."
Zhang Xue pouted a bit while looking at some people that were carrying provisions onto the ship, her brother standing next to her the two youths looking quite different than they used to.
"Don't be like that sister, he is the clan head, we are lucky that he even agreed to teach us."
Zhang Liu replied but he wasn't that convinced in his own words, longing to be praised by his Master that was the strongest person in the clan.
The youth changed through these two years, mostly due to practicing that special body refining skill. His frame changed and he gained quite the attractive jawline and muscular body shape that quite a lot of ladies were found of.
On the other hand, the Sylph physique that Zhang Xue was practicing turned her into an otherworldly beauty, her features turned from cute ones to more refined ones, her figure got enhanced quite a bit too boot. Whenever she walked she would make the men and boys crane their necks in her direction, but luckily most knew who her Master was and were far too scared to approach her or try something funny.
The two were quite popular in their home city, but neither of them showed an interest in the opposite sex. The two just were quite the cultivation junkies and their Master was just feeding them more and more skills just to get them to leave him alone while he himself immersed himself in his own cultivation and crafting.
"I heard that Master was going to be returning today, but he must have been held up by something..."
"What, are you not happy with me coming in his stead?"
Zhang Jin made his appearance, the old man seemed invigorated he had broken into the middle stage of core formation and the late stage wasn't a dream anymore. The improved cultivation techniques that his grandson gave him were working wonders on his old bones. The downside of his recent boost in vigor was his attempts in courting more women, due to this the men of the family looked at this elder with awe while the women held him in contempt.
"It's not like that grandpa..."
The two smiled at the older man who just moved onto the ship, his arrival indicated that they would be taking off quite soon. The two nodded and headed inside, they weren't the only promising youths from the Zhang Clan that were on board there were other participants even some of their old friends from the 9th Platoon, but people like Zhang Ai and Zhang Teng wouldn't be making it as they were busy with their police work at this time.
Zhang Jin moved to his cabin before liftoff, Zhang Dong's female retainer Zhang Ya was waiting for him just to check up some things before they all left.
"Grand Elder, are you sure that it's wise to keep the nature of the Dao Festival a secret from the Patriarch, he doesn't seem to be informed about it that well."
The old man looked at the lovely retainer and rubbed his chin before replying.
"Yes, this will be for the best."
He paused for a moment before continuing with his answer.
"Dong'er isn't that good with politics and he doesn't seem to care much about face... It will be better if he doesn't go to that city..."
"I'm afraid that his kind heart could be his undoing..."
"Don't worry, I'll be there nothing bad will happen or my name isn't Zhang Jin!"
The woman waited for a moment before cupping her fists and walking away, being the Patriarch's personal retainer she didn't like keeping secrets from him. But deep inside she too thought that the new clan head was a bit too soft. He very rarely showed off his superiority, if he did it felt kind of forced. You wouldn't notice it normally but if you stayed around him for a prolonged time, his act would start to fall apart.
The two parted, the ship started floating up and everyone outside of it was ordered to step back, the close families came to the dock area to wave at the promising youths that would be taking part in the friendly exchange. Though this was a friendly competition, some rivalities came to be during it, things could even turn bloody.
Sometimes deaths occurred, the cultivators in this word took things like honor and respect very seriously. If someone was defeated by a person that was seen as someone weaker or of lower status it would be quite a hit to the face of the defeated cultivator and their whole family. Sometimes disputes broke out outside the ring, even the seniors fought sometimes with each other when their pupils suffered an embarrassing defeat.
The Zhang Clan wasn't afraid though, they had gained some fame lately mostly thanks to their Patriarch. They also had some backing now in the form of the Huo and Feng clan, so anyone from the clan's there would think twice before trying to start anything with them.
The people cheered at the youths that just waved from the flying ship that was leaving.
"Show them what the Zhang Clan is made of!"
"Make us proud!"
"Be a Zhang!"
People kept shouting while the junior clan members held their noses up high, they were the elite members of their generation heading off to battle the other strong families. They were in high spirits, their techniques were all overhauled by their new clan head and they reached new heights.
The ship's speed wasn't all that great, at maximum, it could go at the speed of a core formation middle stage cultivator if you overheated the engines it could reach the late stage. It would take a couple of days to reach the destination, Jade Grass City city was located a bit further away than Moonlight City was and it was a neutral zone not ruled by any particular clan.
There was a reason for that, it was under the control of the ruling sect in the area, the Dark Palm sect in particular. This was mostly the reason that it was picked as the gathering spot, as the weaker clans felt that the stronger clans wouldn't do something overbearing if they were being watched by the sect overlords that ruled the land.
The Dark Palm sect members stationed there weren't really the core members though, they were mostly composed of outer sect disciples that didn't really have any pull in it. Due to this, the sect people acted a lot more snobby as they had an inferiority complex that came from the fact that they were outer sect disciples. Because of this they always found a reason to show of, or act as if they had something stuck up their posterior. But they were still part of the large sect, so the people that were exposed to this behavior had to always give them face.
There was about a week till the competition started, but it was advised to arrive a couple of days early. There were some procedures that every clan had to go through, each competitor had to get a number assigned to them and there would be a preliminary test heald before the fighting started.
The tests were quite easy, there were various treasures that measured the cultivator's strength, Qi amount and there was even a course to measure your agility. This was a must as if they let just anyone participate in the competitions they could spend a month or more. This world was large and the number of cultivators was immense. The number of small clans was quite immense and everyone could participate if they made it through the preliminary round.
This was a big chance for the smaller clans to shine. The large sect had their members stationed there and even though they were just outer sect disciples, there were some sect elders with some pull. If a junior member showed some promise it wasn't odd for them to get picked as a disciple by one of the elders. If they were exceptionally talented they would be sent to the main sect area to train, the ender that the disciple belonged too would be praised and rewarded accordingly for finding a talented person for the sect.
While the clans and their contestants were slowly gathering into their flying vessels a peculiar scene was playing out in the city that the Dao Festival would be taking place.
A particular elder with the Dark Palm insignia on his robe was pacing back and forth. He was a man that looked to be in his fifties, he had dark hair and quite the long crooked nose. It bent upwards and then made a sharp turn to the left, giving the man a peculiar look.
"No good, no good... why is that person coming... this is just a small festival for those clan trashes..."
He was holding a communication device, he had just received word that an important person from the main sect area would be arriving to take part in this year's festival. The man didn't know why, but one thing was clear he couldn't offend this scary cultivator, if he did his life would probably be over.
"We must get everything in order... damn is there enough time to prepare everything for his arrival?"
The man activated the communication device and started calling his underlings, he had to prepare a grand welcoming party for this important visitor. They needed to get the best food ready, the best lodgings the best everything that they had. The problem were these random clans that would be swarming the city in a couple of days, they were a random factor any one of those people could end up offending the important people from the main sect.
"Be sure to assign as many people as you can to our special visitor, we can't let anything happen, I don't care if anything happens to those useless clans, you have my permission to get rid of anyone!"
The man put the communication device to the side, this was quite a big problem but also could be a blessing in disguise. This was a high ranking member from the main sect, if he made a good impression on him he might get a promotion. He was a big fish in a small pond now, but he longed for better cultivation manuals and an even higher position. This was all attainable at the main sect area, it boasted the largest Qi condensation and had a vast library of knowledge.
"If everything goes right, I might finally be able to leave this backwater sinkhole!"