Inside the Painting of the Nine Immortals was a scene of peace and quiet, magnificent tree that touched the clouds were supported by miles of green and vibrant colors of nature.
Liao Cang Qiong was dressed in white, floating inside a ghostly sh.e.l.l and suspended between earth and cloud.
Ling Xian's outward excitement hit a nerve with Liao Cang Qiong, who uttered bitterly, "A beauty female is indeed more alluring than an old fellow. You were nowhere near this excited when I announced my ident.i.ty."
Ling Xian stared at him blankly for a moment, then found his voice again, "No, no, of course not. When you announced yourself to me, and I realized you were the Almighty Master of Alchemy, my heart nearly jumped out of my chest."
"Oh stop with the act, who'd believe that story?" Liao Cang Qiong threw a stern glance in Ling Xian's direction and said, "Back then I wanted to make you my disciple, who knew you'd think that I was trying to rob you of talent, do I come across an evil sorcerer?"
"Impossible! Never! Master, you are the most just, most divine, like a reincarnated immortal, how can one ever mistake you for an evil sorcerer," Ling Xian continued with determination, desperately trying to rock his solid stance.
"What do you mean 'like a reincarnated immortal', I am an Immortal." Liao Cang Qiong pretended to fume at the ears but betrayed his pretense with a detectable smile. He continued, mockingly, "Overall, you have a good pair of eyes, you can see right through my just aura, ha ha ha."
"Of course, you, my Master, is just and divine. Anyone who lays an eye on you can tell instantly," Ling Xian continued chanting nonsensically. Secretly, he breathed a sigh of relief. Perhaps it was time to summon the Xuan Ming Snake back to his side, they shared a lot in common.
The thought of the Xuan Ming Snake led him to remember the secret location of the hidden treasure. "Master, I heard a rumor. There is this secret place, inside, the place is surrounded by a magical aura, spectra of nine bright shades of pink, neon, gold… and the Qi of Yin and Yang. The moment one steps inside, he would feel thousands of tons of magical powers effectuate him, and he would be unable to take a step."
Digging deeper into his memory, Liao Cang Xiong suddenly lit up. He muttered excitedly, "Fortune favors the brave, you are indeed my disciple."
Ling Xian's expectations were instantly re-ignited. Filtering out the latter part of the statement, he pursued, "Master, there's actually treasure hidden there?"
"I wouldn't say 'treasure', but what you'll find there will be more valuable to you than any earthly material, especially to you." Liao Cang Xiong brushed against his beard and sighed. "Unbelievable, a tiny, unremarkable Yellow Territory could produce a Territory within a Territory, written in the stars!"
"A Territory within a Territory?" Ling Xian picked out the most intriguing term.
"Correct." Liao Cang Qiong nodded. Sensing Ling Xian's confusion, he explained, "It's exactly as it sounds, there is a smaller Hidden Territory within this bigger one, the smaller one being the rarer and more powerful."
"A smaller Hidden Territory inside this one? Incredible," Ling Xian exclaimed, shocked, intrigued, and humbled.
"The world is filled with wonders beyond one's imagination. After you've traveled the universe, you'll understand the Taoism Community is not something you can possibly visualize with your mind." Liao Cang Qiong smiled softly and continued, "If the place is truly as you have described it, then I congratulate you. You will experience a magical ride, and receive a handsome reward."
"You must understand, the chance of encountering a Hidden Territory inside another Hidden Territory is slim to none, especially within this unremarkable yellow-grade Territory. In my entire life, I've only encountered this scenario three times. I can't even begin to describe how fortunate you are. If it weren't for your mark, I would hasten to guess that you are the Star of his Generation," Liao Cang Xiong proclaimed.
"Almighty Master, you exaggerate. I wasn't able to practice alchemy as a child, and for that, I've experienced too much pain. I am no Star of any Generation." Ling Xian shook head in disagreement.
"You crossing path with me is a fate you were destined for. Still a mortal, you were fortunate to have one, no, almost two, perhaps three, or even nine Immortals as your Master. You don't believe that's fate?" Liao Cang Xiong laughed.
"Well… I guess it is." Ling Xian returned a smile. Indeed, chancing upon the Painting of the Nine Immortals, becoming a disciple of the Almighty Master of Alchemy, possibly meeting and learning from the other eight Immortals. How many can do the same?"
Those are the ultimate Immortals, and not one, but all nine!
Within the Taoism Community, no one had been immortalized for over 30,000 years. Immortality had become a myth, an unattainable dream.
Having a Grand Master who is capable and guiding and protecting of one's disciple is a crucial factor in succeeding on this journey to immortality.
Unlike any ordinary cultivator, Ling Xian had learned both from the mightiest and most revered Immortals ever lived. His fortunate was unsurpa.s.sed by anyone of his generation.
"Be satisfied with what you've been given." Liao Cang Qiong insisted sternly. "There is a smaller Hidden Territory waiting to be discovered as we speak. You have the fortunes of a hundred cultivators. Even I am a touch jealous of your prospects."
"As you say, I am indeed fortunate." Ling Xian touched his nose and continued, "Master, then tell me, what ought I expect from this type of Hidden Territory?"
"It is difficult to predict," Liao Cang Xiong reflected. Pausing a moment to recall memories from the depth of his soul, he went on, "the only thing these types of territories have in common is that only one person may enter at a time. After that, it disappears. Due to the unpredictable environment inside which the smaller Territory exists, the environment of one smaller Territory naturally differs from others. But one thing is for certain. The danger that exists inside a small Territory is far beyond that of the large Territory."
Ling Xian frowned. "What did you experience during your times inside?"
"The first time I arrived at a wasteland, it was occupied by terrible beasts that had long since become extinct. Danger lurked everywhere. I lingered on the brink of death the entire time, but I survived and grew immensely powerful as a result." Liao Cang Xiong then turned his attention to the second encounter. "The second time I was inside an Earth-grade Hidden Territory. I nearly died inside. My Dan heart spared my life."
He paused to stare at Ling Xian, as if waiting for something.
Ling Xian laughed bitter and shook his head, understanding his motive. He was creating drama for Ling Xian's sake. "Master, please continue, I am beyond curious."
"Ha ha, you've been well taught." Liao Cang Xiong nodded in satisfaction and continued, "It was a fantasyland, capable of reading your thoughts and desires. It would make your deepest and darkest desires come to life, lure you into a world of fiction and forever trap you inside. I fell for the spell and was only saved by the heart at a critical moment."
"If I had been an ordinary cultivator, my death would not have mattered, but I was an Immortal. If I had perished, this world would descend into chaos. My safe return guaranteed the progress of our world." Liao Cang Xiong was so deeply moved by his own declaration of greatness that he failed to observe the impatient expression Ling Xian was trying to hide.
Filtering out Liao Cang Xiong's inspirational proclamation of his self-importance, Ling Xian attempted to bring his Master back into reality. He said, half-jokingly, "Master, what is your deepest desire? It nearly killed you, it must have been the most powerful allure."
"Ah, ahem, well…" Liao Cang Xiong blushed. Sensing half a joke hidden inside this question, he purposely lowered his gaze and replied angrily, "You don't need to know. You only need to remember that the sub-Territory is the most precarious and treacherous place you will ever encounter. If you don't survive it, I simply must cut my losses and find a new student."
"Don't curse me, Master," Ling Xian responded with a laugh. Understanding the purpose of the threat was to halt his line of questioning, Ling Xian did not wish to persist. But how could he waste such a precious opportunity to lure some humanity out of this Immortal?
"You don't have to tell me. But as you said, your weakest quality is your vanity, and you value most the path to the Dan. On that path, there is a giant obstacle in the form of a mountain, the legendary Founder of the Dan, therefore…" Ling Xian saw the color drain from Liao Cang Xiong's face, and knew he was not far off, in a fit of laughter, he finished his thought.
"The image you saw must have been a scene where you stepped up to the peak of that mountain, defeating the legendary G.o.d of Dan with your will. Then you immersed yourself into that imaginary scene, being applauded for your bravery, slowly losing your mind."
"Ha ha, you are correct. Perfect, in fact." Liao Cang Xiong's face was a dense shade of charcoal. Confronted with a proud expression from Ling Xian, he let out a sneer.
Ling Xian had begun to realize his mistake, an unfortunate feeling surged.
"When I was inside this sub-Hidden Territory, I was unable to summon my powers and defend myself. I never said I couldn't do that inside the Painting of the Nine Immortals. You have a habit of misplacing your wit." Liao Cang Xiong sighed heavily. Without lightening up his face, he swung his arm and in an instant bounded Ling Xian where he stood and with a flick of his hand, smacked Ling Xian on his rear end.
"You stink! You dare to expose your Master's history. Had I not taught you respect? I guess I hadn't. I'll do that today!"
"I…I just said I respect… don't twist my words, Master!"
From inside the Painting of the Nine Immortals, noises of howls and screams echoed in and out of the curious realm.
The relations.h.i.+p between Master and his beloved disciple grew stronger.