“Master, Jiang Bo is here to see you!” A maid nearly burst in Bao bi’s room while he was in the middle of changing.
She ended up getting more than eyeful of his body and subsequently turned beet red. Bao bi only had the body of a 13-year-old. She was in her twenties. She definitely shouldn’t be looking at a young boy like that. Bao bi knew she was only a mortal and he was a cultivator, and cultivators had ever-increasing beauty the farther along they cultivated, but a child was a child! What was with this world that seemed to spawn so many perverts?
“Who is Jiang Bo?” Bao bi asked, cocking his head.
“M-master! Jiang Bo!” She repeated the name as if it should have been obvious. “Th-the prince?”
Bao bi blinked. When did Bao bi have any connections with any princes? Ah… well, there were those two he saved in the alley a few weeks prior. Bao bi thought he remembered them claiming they were royalty. He had already accepted the gift the princess had given him. It was sitting in a drawer somewhere now. Did he perhaps want to give Bao bi another gift? Perhaps, he had finally accepted how desperate his situation was and how much Bao bi helped. Jiang Bo was just a kid, after all, and kids often acted impetuously, only to come to apologize later. Maybe it was an apology for trying to attack Bao bi.
Bao bi was curious how Jiang Bo had found him, but if someone asked the mortals in the city, they weren’t that inconspicuous. Bao Bi’s family was pretty easy to locate. No one knew them as cultivators, but if you knew what signs to look for, a mysteriously beautiful and rich reclusive family that seemingly held no positions of power, you’d either find cultivators or vampires. The only reason they hadn’t been found was that the sect was too high and mighty to lower themselves to asking mortals for help. They would never think they were living amongst mortals. To many of them, that alone would be an insult, even if those mortals were their own family.
“Alright, I’ll come to meet him in the study.” Bao bi interrupted the maid’s flustered actions and sent her on her way quickly.
Bao bi finished getting dressed and then he left the room, heading down the stairway. The house was quite large, and Bao bi never really felt like he wanted for anything. Then again, in his old life, while Bao bi wouldn’t say he was rich, he was successful, so this kind of living didn’t bother him at all. Bao bi had a big place, although he afforded it by buying out in the country where the property was cheap. Bao bi supposed owning a place this big in a city was probably like having a beachfront property in LA. It was kind of silly that the sect had never discovered their presence considering.
When Bao bi saw the young boy waiting in the study, he immediately recalled their previous encounter. Jiang Bo was a fellow cultivator, and he even had a close cultivation level to Bao bi. That meant that Bao bi should treat him with respect. After encountering the nobles, he had inquired about proper etiquette as a cultivator, and Liao An had drilled in his head a sense of acting his place in society. She had repeated many times that when it came to mortals, even nobility, they were nothing in the eyes of a cultivator. They should treat him with respect, and if he tried the other way, he’d be dishonoring the immortal way.
Thankfully, he was a fellow cultivator, so Bao bi didn’t have to struggle with the dilemma of acting snobbishly to a prince. Although despite all that, he was just a kid, so Bao Bi politeness was only at the level of an adult acting with responsibility. Thus, with his hands in his sleeves, he gave a nod that gave just the right amount of respect, so even Liao An would be proud. The kid immediately stood up as soon as he saw Bao bi.
“I challenge you to a fight!” He cried out.
“What, why?” Bao bi asked in reply, feeling very confused.
Had his bow been that bad? He had even practiced it for when he joined the Xaoi sect.
“This is for honor! My sister’s ring?”
“Huh? Didn’t you give me that ring?”
“Ah!” He cried out, his face turning red. “That may be so… but I will win it back!”
“If you want the ring, I can give it back to you. I have it in a drawer somewhere.” Bao bi responded helplessly, pointing behind him with his thumb.
“You dare! That ring is extremely important and you just shove it in a drawer?”
“What’s so important about it?”
“Don’t act like you don’t know!”
“You can have it!”
“I don’t want it!”
“Then why do you want to fight?”
“For the ring! I want a duel!” he declared with a straight face.
Yeah, Bao bi had no clue what he was talking about, but he was shouting quite loudly now, and everyone in the mansion could hear. To the maids who knew he was the prince, they were nearly shaking in their boots. They likely suspected their masters were immortals, but the Xaoi family hadn’t exactly advertised this fact. Even still, without understanding the power dynamics of those above them, it was pretty scary.
Just as Bao bi was going to try to get to the bottom of this situation, his father walked into the room. He had gotten home last night, which was one of the reasons Bao bi had slept in so late this morning since it had been loud the previous night while his mom unleashed her stress. Even now, his dad was wearing a robe with his chest exposed, looking a bit haggard. Bao bi feel for him, but as someone who had become celibate for the last decade, and knew he wouldn’t be getting any for at least another six years, Bao bi kind of wanted to kick him for showing off.
“My son, you’ve been issued a challenge. It’s something you must accept.” Rather than worried, his father almost seemed nostalgic.
Bao Bi’s mom came out, and thankfully she had put her dress back on, or maybe she had never taken it off. Either way, she wrapped her arms around her husband and kissed his shoulder, looking satisfied, but like she was ready for another round. Thankfully, Jiang Bo had knocked on the door and interrupted the tenth round of their activities.
“My son is fighting in a duel? So soon?’ She looked just a bit anxious.
His dad chuckled. “I remember my first duel. I barely survived, but it made me into the man I am today.”
Jiang Bo, who had been pointing at me angrily, jumped when my parents entered the room. He immediately dropped his hand and then bowed far more respectfully than I had bowed for him.
“Cultivator Jiang Bo greets senior!” He cried out.
“Ah… and a polite boy too!” Mother smiled, causing the boy to blush.
She was an extremely beautiful woman. It looked like even a young boy wasn’t immune to her charms. Thankfully, Bao bi had the charm of growing up and having her as family to dull any of his desires.
“I-I’m sorry, I’ll be fighting your son…!” He declared, while still bowing.
Xaoi Yun’s expression turned a bit more serious. “You’re determined to carry out this challenge? I am only in the 2nd great realm, so I’m limited in how I can protect the pair of you in the fight. There is a possibility you might get hurt.”
“I don’t care!” he responded, “I need to win this duel!”
Bao bi ignored him, caught more off guard by what his father said. Checking his dad’s spiritual energy and seeing that he indeed was in the 2nd realm, he made a noise of surprise. When he left a few months ago, he had been still stuck in the mid-tier of the 1st realm, and Bao bi hadn’t seen him the previous night as his mom dragged him into her room quickly.
“That’s right, son!” Xaoi Yun declared proudly, “Your father has finally blasted past his roadblocks. In the future, our family will be returning to a place of glory!”
“Will you be rejoining the Xaoi sect?” Bao bi asked curiously.
Xaoi Yun shook his head. “No… I’ll be needing to take another journey soon. I must find certain ingredients, and I won’t be able to find them in the mortal world, so I will be heading to the immortal world. Rejoining the Xaoi sect and regaining the honor we lost, that will be your job.”
Bao bi felt like his dad was dumping all responsibility on him and taking off, but he thought it wise not to say anything.
“I see you also reached the highest tier of the 1st realm. I am proud of you son. That is why I’m encouraging you to duel this boy. I can tell that he has also just reached the 7th tier. Both of you must stabilize your realms, and the best way to do that is through battle. It will be good for your cultivation to fight him.”
Bao bi had moved the ring that controlled his spiritual aura up to 7th tier after that fight. After running into Jiang Bo, he thought he could afford to pass off as a 7th tier, especially after hearing about the ten-year-old in the second realm. Thus, he appeared as an upper-tier first realm to anyone looking.
“Y-you just reached the 7th realm as well? I thought you were higher!” Jiang Bo said in surprise. “Ah… that’s why you’re not confident in the upcoming Xaoi Sect Disciple Selection.”
“Huh?” Xaoi Yun cocked his head. “Ah… no, you see, our son here is only going to turn te- I mean, he’ll just be twelve!”
He suddenly changed what he was going to say, giving Bao bi a helpless look when Bao bi shot him a wry one. After all, Xaoi Yun was lying to a kid. However, it’s not like Bao bi didn’t understand. If he knew that Bao bi was only nine turning ten, it might cripple his drive. For a while, Bao bi had worried his father would crumble too knowing his son was stronger than him. Thankfully, he had a sudden increase in strength.
To Bao bi, cultivation must work like growth spurts, with people rising quickly. Taking Bao Bi himself, his rise to the top of the 1st realm was extremely swift, but he had spent years bottlenecked. It’d take another growth spurt before he ended up in the 2nd tier. Of course, this reasoning was nonsense, and Liao An would be angry if she heard these thoughts. His father’s growth was extremely abnormal, and his secret, but Bao bi didn’t have many examples to go on. Xaoi Yun was still considered trash for his current age, so he had a long way to go.
“T-twelve!… not, turning twelve… you’re younger than me! You’re the same age as my sister!” Even with their attempt at being sensitive, it was clear the young boy faced an emotional blow.
If he knew Bao bi was only 9, even younger than his sister, he would have a fit. If he then found out that Bao Bi was actually at the peak of the 9th tier, he would probably faint from shock. That was the main reason that Bao Bi wasn’t eager about fighting a duel. It not only wouldn’t help him, but it felt a bit like bullying. He was two tiers greater than Xaoi Yun, so it wouldn’t be a fair fight at all. The ring, at that moment, felt a bit like he was cheating.
“So, you see… my son could not join this year.” Xaoi Yun finished his thought.
“N-not true!” Jiang Bo cried out. “They’ve dropped the age limit to ten! He can participate!”
It was Xaoi Yun’s time to look surprised. He gave Bao bi an interested look, and Bao Bi responded with a slight nod. Bao Bi had already investigated the truth of this and was only confirming it. Since he had confirmed it properly, Xaoi Yun accept it as truth and nodded as well. He hadn’t just fudged Bao bi’s age, but his birthdate. He’d be turning ten the day before the competition, so Bao Bi just made the cutoff. His father just learned that he might be able to start regaining their family honor before they originally planned. Bao Bi’s Mother behind him looked worried as if she wanted to say something, but she kept her mouth shut. Although she was technically a cultivator, she was the lowest level, and all but a mortal, so she tried to keep out of it as best she could.
“Then, since you’re both similar age and similar ability, then I will approve this duel. Let us find a spot where you can fight safely.”
That turned out to be the courtyard behind their house. Bao bi noticed his father never offered him a chance to refuse the duel. Bao bi guessed it was a matter of family pride. Bao bi had to fight him if he was challenged. Bao bi wasn’t afraid though. His biggest worry was actually that he’d be bullying him.
Xaoi Yun had the staff clear out the area, and Bao bi ended up standing across from Jiang Bo. The other boy had on an extremely serious look like he was ready to fight to the death. Xaoi Lan was watching from the sideline, holding her hands together and watching as her son fought anxiously.
“You seem confident. Are you sure you can handle this?” Xaoi Yun asked me quietly so no one could hear.
“I’m fine,” I responded.
Xaoi Yun thought that Bao bi’s seemingly relaxed posture was just a front and that he was freaking out inside. He was only nine, after all, so it made sense that he’d had issues with his first duel. The thing was, this wasn’t his first duel. He had fought thousands of duels against Liao An, who was… Liao An. There was no defining her. She was ruthless however in a way a child like Jiang Bo couldn’t imagine.
“Go!” Thus, when Xaoi Yun dropped his hand and started the battle, Bao bi responded immediately.
It was only when he appeared in front of Jiang Bo and noticed that he wasn’t reacting, that he realized he had moved too fast. He saw Jiang Bo’s face morph as Jiang Bo realized Bao bi was already upon him and then launched an attack almost like it was in slow motion. Bao bi jumped back, avoiding the kick with ease.
“Don’t be afraid to attack!” Xaoi Lan called out to me.
He probably wasn’t supposed to offer advice during a duel, but seeing as it was Jiang Bo who issued it and this was their property, one could say they had home advantage. Plus, although Xaoi Lan didn’t show it, he was anxious for his son as well. He had interpreted his son running up and then jumping back to be him afraid to hit the other boy. He wasn’t completely wrong. Bao bi was afraid to hit him, but only because Jiang Bo was a kid and he didn’t like the idea of hitting children.
After dodge Jiang Bo a few more times, he could see anger on the kid’s face, and his father looked slightly embarrassed. It seemed that in his attempt to avoid hitting Jiang Bo, he ended up looking cowardly and afraid. Trying to fight in this way was troublesome, and Bao bi felt a headache coming on. Changing tactics, he waited as Jiang Bo threw out a punch. He then grabbed his arm and did a simple throw.
Liao An hadn’t taught him any throws. This came from that self-defense course all those years ago. The result was that Jiang Bo was tossed across the room, slamming into the floor. Bao bi instantly made a cringing face as he held out his hand. He must have thrown a bit hard. Jiang Bo jumped back to his feet, and he was bleeding from his head. Bao Bi was expecting him to break into tears and cry, so he was shocked when Jiang Bo lunged at him again. This time, his fist landed directly on the unprepared Bao bi. It then proceeded to bounce back off. Bao bi barely felt it.
His cultivation was already two levels beyond Jiang Bo. That alone meant that it would be exceedingly difficult to fight him. However, on top of that, he had body conditioning techniques that made his constitution unimaginable. In short, Jiang Bo truly was a child. He could punch and kick him all day and not do any damage. If Xaoi Yun, who was now a 2nd realm, attacked Bao bi, he’d probably be likely to lose as well. Bao bi couldn’t be measured by common sense metrics of this world.
Of course, Jiang Bo couldn’t know that and had assumed Bao Bi had used some last line body hardening technique to deflect his fist. Even Xaoi Yun who was watching this fight thought something similar. There was just no way a punch like that could be so thoroughly defeated.
“I’ve got you now!” The boy cried out, “Falcon Slice!”
“Wait!” Xaoi Lan cried as he used a technique on Bao Bi.
Xaoi Yun even took a step forward, ready to stop it if the attack landed. Bao bi sidestepped the attack entirely, swept out Jiang Bo’s foot, and then punched him into the ground as he floated horizontally. He tried to use just enough force to knock him out. He was worried if this kept going on, Jiang Bo would seriously hurt himself. Only with a knockout would he be able to stop this match. Jiang Bo slammed into the ground, creating a small crater around him.
A few hours later, Jiang Bo jerked out of an unfamiliar bed. “Did I win?”
Bao Bi shook his head. “No, you lost. We spent a good deal of money getting some medicine to heal you. We decided if we took you back to the palace in that state, we might get in trouble.”
Jiang Bo’s face turned red as he leaped out of bed. “I won’t accept this! We are enemies for life! I’ll train and become stronger! Next time, I’ll defeat you!”
“Next time?” Bao Bi sighed.
With that, Jiang Bo turned and ran from the mansion. As he fled, he ran past Xaoi Yun.
“What happened?” Xaoi Yun asked as he entered the room where Bao bi was still sitting.
“Ah… he declared us mortal enemies and then ran away.”
Xaoi Lan entered the room behind her husband. “I saw him running away. It’s good to see the medicine worked and he’s up and healthy. A cultivator’s body is truly amazing. What happened?
“Bao bi has made his first childhood friend.” Xaoi Yun announced proudly.
Bao bi’s mouth fell open at his father’s proclamation. His common sense when it came to this world still needed refining.