Time passed by, and the Xaoi Sect Disciple Selection was coming increasingly closer. It was now the talk of the city, and even Bao bi started to feel a bit of the buzz. Although the selection occurred every year, this year had widened the ages for the first time in known history. It was going to be the largest selection to date.
“Hey, Bao bi! Are you going to register?” Jiang Bo called out as Bao bi walked down the stairway in the main foyer of our home.
Bao bi was wearing a typical loose-fitting shirt and slacks that were common for low-tier cultivators. This was distinctly different from the fine-cut wear that the prince and princess wore, which included an insignia that showed they represented the Jiang Province. Technically, Bao bi’s family could afford the finest cuts mortals could make, but his outfit was far more practical. As for the prince and princess, they dressed up because they had the honor of their nation to withhold. Their success during the upcoming selection was also the success of their country.
Although the pair would never be part of the mortal world again, their entry into the sect guaranteed the Jiang Dynasty would remain strong for years to come. After all, when their brother ascended to the throne, he could always ask for assistance from them if trouble arose, and by that point, either one would be worth a thousand normal men, maybe even more. At the very least, it was a deterrent that kept would-be usurpers from making a move.
That didn’t stop some from trying to snuff out the pair before they could get into the Xaoi sect, which was exactly what Bao bi had stumbled into all those months ago. Since then, he had unexpectedly become friends with the pair, and they often came to his mansion. Jiang Bo would come to train, while his sister would often watch and cultivate on her own. They had brought some of their palace resources over, and although it still wasn’t at the level of the mysterious cultivation cave that Bao bi had discovered, he honestly preferred cultivating with them, as the dark cave could feel a bit stuffy and lonely.
Of course, he still had Liao An, but she had always been a bit cold and distant. Although the pair could be a bit prideful and snooty at times, they were considerably more amiable than the aloof girl who he called his childhood friend. They also were a lot more mature than their ages, and while they had bouts of childishness, they also could have adult conversations not much worse than he would have had with Liao An. He reasoned that this was simply a world where people matured quickly.
Bao bi found that the two siblings weren’t the only ones waiting for them. There were two others as well. Both of them appeared to be in the second great realm, the Mortal Origin realm. The younger one was in the 3rd tier, while the older was in the 9th tier. To date, this man would be the strongest that Bao bi had ever seen. Liao An had said that he might be able to fight this level on equal terms. If anyone else said they believed someone could fight another an entire great realm over them, it would be considered a joke. Even fighting the younger one in the 3rd tier would only be possible when comparing an inner core sect disciple who grew up breathing martial arts with a common loose cultivator.
Just from a glance at how they held themselves around the prince and princess, Bao bi could tell that the older man was something of a guardian or bodyguard, while the younger one he was still unsure about. The pair picked up on his questioning look, and Jiang Bo stepped forward to answer.
“This man is an outer disciple from the Xaoi sect and a close cousin, Jiang Wenyan.” He gestured to the older man, who merely gave a nod. “And the other is our acquaintance, Xiong Mengyao. He’ll be in the disciple selection this year and he comes from a family with a close relationship with the Jiang family.”
The boy pushed forward, shooting Bao bi a glare. “So, you’re the one Jiang Ying Yue was talking about?”
The hostility in his voice was exceptionally clear. Bao bi could even feel the faintest traces of killing intent. Liao An had warned him about such a thing. He wasn’t good at being able to notice it, but it was basically a cultivator’s sixth sense, and by perfecting it, they could save their life many times. Few people could kill without giving off killing intent as a warning, and if someone gave off killing intent toward you, they were to be considered an enemy. Bao bi didn’t even know this guy, but he was already an enemy. The world of cultivation was truly brutal.
At his impoliteness, Jiang Ying Yue burst into a blush. “Ah… it’s not like… I don’t speak about… all the time…”
Before Bao bi could question anything else, Jiang Bo grabbed his arm and whispered in his ear. “This guy fancies little sister. Father may have implied that they would make a good match. He desires to make her his wife and dual cultivation partner. He heard about her giving you the ring. Watch out for him, he’s tough.”
Jiang Bo’s warnings seemed genuine, and it was clear from his voice he did not like Xiong Mengyao but had to be nice to him because of their fathers. It looked like those pleasantries didn’t carry onto their children’s friends.
“Isn’t he a bit old?” Bao bi whispered back.
This guy looked like he was eighteen. Lusting after a twelve-year-old girl, it seemed a bit perverted. Was he another pedophile? If he was, Bao bi wouldn’t feel much guilt crushing him.
“He’s fifteen. He’s one of those who waited for the last year to maximize his strength.” He hissed. “He’s already in the 2nd realm. Just be careful around him. “
Bao bi nodded over his words. He was another guy who looked older than he appeared. Bao bi could sympathize because everyone was still under the impression he was twelve. If they learned that today was his tenth birthday, then they would assuredly be shocked to death. Plus, he was still only appearing as a 7th tier. This was actually worthy of a great deal of praise. Even Jiang Bo who was thirteen was miraculous for being such a high tier. However, it seemed this year contained many geniuses, and Bao bi only appeared as good, not great.
Most people outside of a sect didn’t reach the Mortal Origin realm until they were at least eighteen. Compared to the Mortal Purification realm, there was no comparison, and he’d be able to wipe the floor with just about anyone. Although it seemed like only a single step from 9th tier Mortal Purification to 1st Tier Mortal Origin, the distance between two great realms was much greater than the distance between a low and high tier within the same realm.
Only other Mortal Origins would be able to compete on Xiong Mengyao’s level, and even in this competition with tens of thousands of disciples, you could count the number of Mortal Origin artists on a single hand. This meant that he was guaranteed to be in the top 10 and since he was already 3rd tier, likely the top 3 of the entire event! The top three of each year would be made inner disciples. Based on cultivation alone, Xiong Mengyao was guaranteed a place as an inner disciple of the Xaoi Sect and even had a chance of reaching core disciple.
It was no wonder that the King’s family was sucking up to him now, pushing the prince and princess to interact with him, and even suggesting that the princess would make a good match. Even Bao bi felt a bit impressed looking at the guy. It was a shame the guy seemed to think nothing of Bao bi, or possibly even considered him an enemy. As for his interest in Jiang Ying Yue, he had no opinion. Politics were a complicated thing, and he didn’t want to be involved in them. Naturally, if Jiang Ying Yue knew of his opinion, she’d be extremely dismayed.
At the moment, she looked anxiously between Bao bi and Xiong Mengyao. Between the two, she naturally had already placed Bao bi in her heart, and she worried the other man, who she found to be a bit arrogant, would hurt Bao bi because of her; that was something she wouldn’t be able to stand in her heart.
After Jiang bo had whispered a warning to Bao bi and he had reasoned this all out, he chose to lean on politeness. After all, a fifteen-year-old was still a kid. It was a little weird that he sought to marry a twelve-year-old, but that seemed like one of those things nobles did. Putting his fist in his hand, he gave a bow befitting a young disciple toward an older disciple.
“I am Bao bi. It is a pleasure.”
“Good. Good.” He nodded with a dark smile on his face. “At least you understand your proper place!”
Jiang Bo kept his head low, but he flushed slightly. As for Bao bi, he didn’t care in any way whatsoever. However, the next moment, the older man Jiang Wenyan unexpectedly stepped forward.
“Xaoi Bao bi?” He frowned.
“Hmph… so, you are Xaoi Yun’s son? Your father is trash. For you to cling to my family in hopes of gaining recognition, it is truly deplorable!”
“Jiang Wenyan!” Jiang Bo cried out.
He wouldn’t say anything regarding Xiong Mengyao, but Jiang Wenyan was family. Bao bi was his friend, so after coming to his home, he felt embarrassed that his people insulted his friend. Jiang Wenyan merely snorted and stepped back. At his level of strength, he didn’t care about insulting Bao bi. He was an outer disciple that had already investigated Bao bi on behalf of the King. He had barely had enough credit that the King allowed his son to continue their friendship, but in Jiang Wenyan’s mind, his entire family was trash. He was very clear about their relationship in the sect, as well as their fall from grace. Although it seemed like their family should have some respect due to their relationship to Bao bi’s great grandfather, in this world, power meant everything, and their family line was weak and pathetic!
Bao bi did frown at the insult, but when had he ever been moved by anything so shallow? He was more aware of his own precarious situation than anyone. The two who knew the least about Bao bi’s decline were the prince and princess, who remained embarrassed by Wenyan’s rude interjection, and tried to give apologetic looks. However, Bao bi wouldn’t mind such things.
“Ah! That’s right, is Liao An coming?” Jiang Bo asked immediately.
Jiang Yang Yue’s expression immediately darkened as she heard the name. She had never met the girl. Actually, once Liao An knew about Jiang Bo, she always left before he arrived. She seemed to have a 6th sense about such a thing, and would always excuse herself and leave about fifteen minutes before the pair showed up. As a result, Jiang Yang Yue had only heard about this supposedly skilled little girl who hung out with Bao bi and had been cultivating together with him since childhood.
How could she not desire to compare herself with the other woman, and if she seemed to be a threat to Jiang Yang Yue’s pursuit of Bao bi, crush her completely! The heart of a young maiden was truly a frightening thing. Yet, regardless of what she did, she had never even caught a hair on that little girl’s head. She only knew of her based on a few casual lines from Bao bi, who never went out of his way to speak about her, and what she was able to force out of her brother, who had only met her once and had no strong impression on her except that she was quiet and said strange things to Bao bi. In Jiang Yang Yue’s overactive young mind, saying strange things said that she must have some close relationship with Bao bi and that the pair had their own way of speaking to each other.
When Jiang Bo asked about her, Jiang Wenyan also listened. Like everyone else, he hadn’t been able to find much about Liao An. He was able to discover that she came from mortal parents. If she was truly as skilled as Jiang Bo suggested, then she would make an except dual cultivation partner for someone in the Xaoi sect. In the end, without any family connections, that was the best a mortal turned cultivator could hope for: to be used by some genius to advance his cultivation, and perhaps even gain his favor and have a belly full of his children. If Liao An was around and knew his thoughts, Jiang Wenyan would find himself dead by the end of the day.
“Regrettably, she said she’d meet me there.” Bao bi explained simply.
He didn’t really get it, but he knew that Liao An didn’t desire their friendship, and wasn’t interested in being around them. Thus, he didn’t ask questions or try to get her to hang out. He was perfectly fine respecting her distance. After all, the pair had been close for many years now, and he found himself trusting her completely.
“Where is Xaoi Yun, anyway?” Jiang Wenyan spoke up. “To register, you must have the permission of a guardian. I’ve been given that right for them, but I will not stand witness for you.”
His voice was still filled with an arrogance that completely dismissed Bao bi.
Bao bi shrugged helplessly. Regrettably, my father is out of town. Instead, I’ll be bringing my mother today.” As Bao bi spoke, he looked toward the stairway.
He had already sensed his mother’s approach, and she was walking down the stairway now. She had recently cleaned up. Although she had been depressed lately, today was Bao bi’s birthday, so she pulled herself out of it and dressed up as beautifully as she could. In the past, she had always hidden in cloaks and kept a low profile. Today, she didn’t pull back at all and displayed her full beauty.
Bao bi would be joining the Xaoi sect in ten days. This meant this was the last time she’d be able to go out and celebrate with her special man. Her heart belonged to only two men, and she cried twice the number of tears knowing Bao bi would leave her than her husband, who had to often leave on his quest to grow stronger. She respected this, though. She had known this would be her life when she married a cultivator. That didn’t necessarily make it any less difficult.
She loved Bao bi, and seeing him grow up was both a source of intense pride and a source of intense happiness. She wanted to celebrate today with him. If what her husband told her was true, then after Bao bi was placed into the Xaoi sect, their days of dishonor would be gone. She’d have nothing to fear, as the Xaoi sect had strict rules and could not violate them. Thus, she had resigned herself to being the proud mother as her son signed up, and spend a last birthday with him. It was only ten short years, and he was already grown up and leaving. She smiled gently, her eyes on him.
While her eyes were only on Bao bi, everyone else’s eyes were on her, and their mouths fell open. Xaoi Lan was a stunning beauty. In the last few years, she had managed to break into the 7th tier of the Mortal Purification realm, making her technically the same cultivation level as her son was pretending to be. As to how she had advanced so quickly, it was because Bao bi had given her the repaired versions of the Xaoi sect’s cultivation techniques tweaked by Liao An, and also made medicines with his alchemy and mixed spirit ingredients that Liao An obtained into their food. Although she didn’t train hard like her two men, she also didn’t have the restriction of their family curse to hold her back.
Thus, she had a great deal of purity in her, leaving her even more beautiful. She was easily the most beautiful woman in this city, and perhaps she’d be one of the top beauties of the Xaoi sect. What was most shocking was that no one had ever seen or heard of her. Her beauty should have been known throughout the city, but instead, she was a beautiful gem seemingly hidden in the mud. That was the impression of Jiang Wenyan and Xiong Mengyao, who didn’t respect Bao bi or his father in the slightest.
They swallowed hard, working moisture back into their mouths as they looked on at her with desire. Even Jiang Bo was affected. He had met her before, but she always went out of her way to dress down and hide herself. Now that she appeared in all her glory, he couldn’t believe he had never noticed how beautiful Bao bi’s mom was. Jiang Yang Yue also looked at her with bright eyes. To her, this was a woman whose good graces she had to get in. To find her to be such a formidable beauty, it made her both nervous and confident that she had made the right decision in pursuing Bao bi.
Bao bi gave his mother a bow, but his mouth twitched awkwardly as he could read the expressions on the others. They weren’t hiding gawking at his mother at all. He knew she was a beauty, but he had grown up with her by him. She had crawled into his bed at night and held him while she cried over missing her husband or how Bao bi was going to leave her more times than he cared to admit. He had even had to fend off her advances as she had perverted dreams while sleeping and holding him and couldn’t differentiate him from his father. Thus, her charms did not affect him. That wasn’t to say he didn’t love his mother dearly, but there was a reason incest was a fantasy in porn, and rarely a reality. He had no desire to make that fantasy a reality, no matter how many past lives he remembered!
“Can you please stop slobbering over my mom?” He hissed to Jiang Bo.
The young prince jumped like he had been goosed. “I-I wasn’t…”
He looked away, but the blush on his face gave everything away. The other two men weren’t nearly as polite and continued to look at her like eye candy until Bao bi considered slapping them both. If he didn’t want to avoid an incident with the Kingdom, he’d have considered it. He wasn’t frightened of either man.
Jiang Wenyan put on an oily grin and stepped forward, holding out his hand. “My lady. I never imagined I’d come across such a beauty as you. You are in the mortal purification realm? That is truly commendable. Perhaps, we can exchange pointers at some point.”
“I am honored, good sir.” She curtsied rather than took his hand. “But I’m afraid I would be lost against a Mortal Origin expert. If I were to exchange pointers, they would be with my son.”
As if to accentuate her point, she grabbed Bao bi’s arm, and then pulled herself toward him, her chest pressing against Bao bi’s arm in a way that left all of the men gnashing their teeth in jealousy. It was extremely affectionate, even for a mother to her child. This was firstly because, as a mortal woman, his mother was naturally raised to be more affectionate. Normal cultivatior mothers, while they loved their children dearly, were much more reserved and trained to keep their children at a distance. Second, she had often depended on Bao bi as her emotional support during her husband’s frequent absences. And third, she was already an extremely loving and affectionate woman toward Bao bi.
To the ones she loved, her affection bordered on scary, and to everyone else, she was dismissive. That’s why she seemingly dismissed Xiong Mengyao without a look, her eyes solely for her son. However, in her dismissiveness, she hadn’t noticed the lewd suggestion he had implied when he said he wanted to exchange pointers with her. When she said she wanted to exchange pointers with her son, to the two men, they couldn’t believe their ears. They didn’t have such a weird relationship, did they?
Worst of all, Bao bi who was used to his mother clinging to him, and used to beautiful porn actresses clinging to him from a lifetime of being a celebrity pornstar, seemed completely comfortable with this. Had he at least struggled or looked uncomfortable, they would have felt it was just a mom being willful, but his attitude only further caused them to feel complex emotions. No one present had more complex feelings than Jiang Yang Yue, who had initially admired his mother and sought her approval.
However, now that she saw such a beautiful woman holding her man so naturally, she started to wonder if she had found even more competition!
“Perhaps, it’s time we should go.” Bao bi cleared his throat, wanting to move things along.