7 Fear the Worm

After collecting the fallen disciples' ill-gained spirit stones, Xinzi joined his hands in a succession of mudras. Why did he use the Jewel Box to lure in his fellow disciples? Simple, he needed sacrificial souls. To extract the Frigid Flame Heart he came for, Xinzi had to trap hundreds of ice and fire beasts in his Evil-Sealing pot. As resourceful as he was, there was no way he could hunt them all down, beast by beast. Instead, he could use an Evil Summoning Array at the Ice-Fire border to attract all he needed.

Unfortunately, the Clear Heart monastery, White Immortal sect, or any reputable faction for that matter, didn't teach the Evil Summoning Array. This forced Xinzi to come up with a make-do replacement. By combining the traditional Evil Repelling Array with a Reversed Potential Formation, Xinzi could hijack his own formation to lure in the beasts. And for an extra layer of safety, he had to sacrifice Wailing Ghosts.

Upon getting played to death like a blind old donkey, Hao Min's soul was so full of grievances that it could easily turn into a Wailing Ghost. Chanting the Entrapment Mantra Lianist monks used to restrain malevolent ghosts, Xinzi suppressed the rogue leader's soul—forcefully turning him into a Wailing Ghost.

If Abbot Qingxin of the Clear Heart monastery saw his beloved disciple at work, his heart would likely snap. The thought twisted Xinzi's face and upset his mind. But collecting himself, he dispelled the distraction, summoned a bronze pot and aimed it at Hao Min's Wailing Ghost. It flew right in—thereby falling into Xinzi's immoral clutches.

Taking one last glance at the mangled corpses, Xinzi was pleased by the steadiness of his heart. Of the three C of Lianism—Clarity, Control, Communion—he mastered the first and last, but occasionally struggled with the second. But as he took his gaze off the corpses, his master's face replaced theirs, and again his heart skipped a beat.

'Xinzi, once you leave the monastery, you better be a good boy! Otherwise, my face will rise from your misdeeds to curse you with diarrhea!'

Perhaps only his master could make him doubt himself. Perhaps that was the true reason why he had to leave the monastery. Putting Abbot Qingxin at the back of his mind, Xinzi pressed on. Along the road he confronted five other ambushes, but only managed to get four Wailing Ghosts out of them.

Nearing the Ice-Fire border, Xinzi stopped at a high vantage point, concealed his presence with a Cloaking Talisman, and watched three groups of five disciples cooperate to mine sky-blue jade stones: Stainless Soul Jades. Immortal cultivation is a resource-burning path. Without resources or good fortune, even Single-Element Root chosen would struggle to reach the Nascent Soul stage. That being the case, one could imagine the daily struggles of commoner-born disciples, who had to provide for their own cultivation needs by accomplishing missions for the sect or fetching resources in treacherous environments. The Stainless Soul Jade was one such resource. One egg-sized piece could clear the cultivator's mind from distractions, increase Soul Force, and improve cultivation speed by 10%.

Typically, such treasures triggered instant bloodbaths. But occasionally, some clear-headed disciples would rather cooperate for a larger loot, thereby establishing trust for future endeavors. As a Lianist monk, Xinzi wondered what set those disciples apart from the others? Intelligence? Wisdom? Kindness? He could never say for sure.

Was it not cleverer to backstab the group and keep the massive haul for oneself? Was it not wiser to avoid mingling with so many disciples of unknown hearts and backgrounds? What about putting oneself at the mercy of others' righteousness? No matter how he pondered the issue, Xinzi couldn't come up with a satisfying answer, yet felt that once he settled on one, he'd not only master another Lianist Word, but get closer to forming his Law.

"Heavens, an Ice-Glazed Lichen!" As he dug out a piece of Stainless Soul Jade, a mining disciple stumbled on a flowerless cyan plant protruding from the walls. His eyes widened, his lips trembled, and the pickaxe he wielded with extreme care dropped an inch away from his foot.

Ignoring the waves of cold air undulating the plant, the disciple reached out for it. His teammates' eyes sparkled with various degrees of awe, and even Xinzi's brows arched up. "What a stroke of bad luck. The Ice-Glazed Lichen is indeed a scarce marrow-cleansing oddity. By refining it, most cultivators can replace their spiritual root with a Mutant Ice variant—granting them better talent than the traditional Single-Element Root owner. Unfortunately…"

As Xinzi's words trailed off, the already chilling atmosphere dropped to an abysmal level. Shivering under the abrupt drop, the disciples, whose strongest experts had only reached the peak of the Qi Refinement stage, all pulled out fire orbs and gathered to strengthen their effect.

Meanwhile, loud crawling sounds spread from the cave wall. The temperature grew colder still—making all the fire orbs freeze instantly. Alarmed, the 15 disciples cast anxious glances at the screeching walls, trembling as they sought the origin of these changes.

"The Ice-Glazed Lichen isn't a Self-Born Oddity. Its birth stems from a colony of Ice Beasts occupying the land for centuries or millennia." The words had barely left Xinzi's lips that 10 odious heads rose from behind the walls. Shaped like elephant-sized moss piglets, the chalky-white beasts loomed over the 15 outer disciples. Several saw their knees buckle under the beasts' auras, while the bravest cursed heaven, earth and their mothers for letting them fall in these dire straits.

"Arctic Bearworms...it's over," the disciple who found the Ice-Glazed Lichen said. Mutant Elements such as ice were several times more powerful than the traditional five. A rank-one Arctic Bearworm could single-handedly crush the average group of outer disciples. But now, they had 10 standing over them. Don't even mention fighting back. It would be a miracle if they managed to move a finger.

The three leaders were the most aggrieved. Each came with a teleportation talisman specifically meant for situations like these. But under the pressure of the Bearworms' freezing aura, they became as mobile as buried coffins.

The Bearworms' gaping maws opened wide, condensing orbs of ice-cold qi that aimed at the helpless disciples. But as sure death stared the 15 men down, a booming voice rocked their eardrums, dulling their panic with a spark of hope.

"Foul beasts, who gave you the nerve?!"

One dazzling sword beam tore through the air, a great white boa coiled up the blade, hissing at the 10 bearworms with boundless killing intent. Recognizing a lethal threat, the Arctic Bearworms shifted their ice orbs at the lone strike and fired at will!


Blast upon blast, sword and snake pierced through the Bearworms' offensive, riding an irresistible momentum as they raced at the beast's lives. Alarmed, the Bearworms condensed barrages of sturdy ice walls, but before that single strike, all crumbled instantly! The sword curved into a circular arc, and in one move, split the 10 Bearworms into bloody halves!

"The Lesser Spirit Snake Sword? She's here?" Xinzi, who kept his presence concealed, recognized the move—no—the sword, instantly.

Rong Suishan may rank first in the outer court, but that was only because the true leaders didn't bother with petty rankings. If they did, he'd instantly drop to the fifth spot.

And here came the most lawless of that list, ranked fourth in the outer court's shadow ranking, the sect masters' golden daughter: Dong Ling.

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