The vast and boundless sea, a desolate heavenly road. Gatherings and partings in the mortal realm are as fleeting as floating duckweed. Tang Zhenren’s beloved belt had a hole, but she didn’t bother to mend it. At this moment, it fluttered on the sea, leaking wind so intensely that Yan Zhengming’s disheveled hair whipped his face like a whip. He felt that this place was filled with the stench of blood and turbulent waves, and he couldn’t see the end in sight.

Shui Kong had fallen asleep in Zhe Shi’s arms. Han Yuan sat quietly on the side, too exhausted to stay awake. Li Jun couldn’t help but ask in a low voice, “Senior, where should we go from here?”

Yan Zhengming took a deep breath upon hearing the question and pinched his brow forcefully. His eyes were filled with weariness and darkness. In fact, he was even more confused than Li Jun.

Everyone came to ask him, but who should he turn to for answers?

Yan Zhengming felt that he was truly unworthy of the Sect Master emblem on his chest. Perhaps he wasn’t cut out to be a Sect Master. Reflecting on the past twenty years, he had either gone with the flow or been forced to move forward. If no one pushed or pulled him, he wouldn’t know where to go.

Seeing his troubled expression, Li Jun pulled him gently. “Senior?”

“Let’s rest for now,” Yan Zhengming regained his composure and comforted in a soft voice. “It’s alright, don’t worry… If we really have nowhere to go, you can temporarily stay with me at the Yan family.”

After saying that, Cheng Qian also turned around.

For Cheng Qian, as long as it wasn’t returning to Fu Yao Mountain, staying at the Yan family as a guest or wandering the world begging for food didn’t make much difference. Originally, he had no objections, but now he had to speak up. If something happened to Xue Qing, it was highly likely that Xiao Yue and the others had been intercepted on the way. In that case, would the mighty Yan family with its grand goals and ambitions still exist?

Cheng Qian hesitated for a moment and spoke, “Senior…”

He looked at Yan Zhengming’s expression and struggled with his words, which was rare for him.

On one hand, Cheng Qian knew that he couldn’t keep this matter from his senior brother, but when he saw his exhausted appearance, the words circled in his mouth, and he hesitated to speak.

Yan Zhengming stiffened his expression and pretended to be nonchalant as he asked, “What’s wrong, Little Copper Coin?”

Cheng Qian cautiously glanced at him, his gaze somewhat evasive.

Yan Zhengming felt warmth in his heart from Cheng Qian’s rarely gentle gaze, but suddenly realized that something was amiss. A sense of foreboding surged within him.

Sure enough, the next moment, Cheng Qian spoke in a submissive tone, “I have something to tell you, but please don’t be too heartbroken, okay?”

Cheng Qian’s politeness was rare, and Yan Zhengming’s heart raced.

Cheng Qian gritted his teeth and mustered his courage. He quickly said, “I broke Xue Qing’s puppet talisman.”

Zhe Shi’s hand trembled, nearly dropping Shui Kong. Han Yuan looked up with a bewildered expression, while Li Jun gasped in shock.

Yan Zhengming, however, stared blankly at Cheng Qian for a long time without saying a word.

Fearing that he might not be able to handle it, Cheng Qian hurriedly added, “It doesn’t necessarily mean that something bad happened. Don’t jump to conclusions yet.”

Even Cheng Qian felt guilty after saying that. Unable to find the right words, he stumbled awkwardly, “Perhaps he accidentally lost it himself, or maybe it broke in someone else’s hands…”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Yan Zhengming seemed to snap back to reality. He forced a smile and smoothly continued Cheng Qian’s words, “Perhaps there was a storm at sea. Maybe your puppet talisman saved his life… Um…”

He suddenly shivered violently, then seemed choked by the sea breeze, covering his mouth and coughing.

Cheng Qian opened his mouth but didn’t know what to say. Tentatively, he reached out to pat Yan Zhengming’s shoulder, feeling a faint warmth emanating from his senior brother. However, before he could make contact, it was blown away by the sea breeze. Sometimes, Cheng Qian would think of the first time he met his senior brother, his bear-like appearance, and he would always think of him as a lazy prodigal son in a gentle and affectionate paradise.

Back then, he had no calluses on his hands and no worries in his heart. How good it was…

Why did he have to bear the pain and helplessness of being a stranger in a foreign land?

This day was destined to be filled with troubles. Before Cheng Qian could finish feeling sorry, the situation on the sea suddenly changed.

The entire sea seemed to tremble as if the earth was shaking. A huge wave, seemingly from nowhere, surged up like a water wall, reaching a height of five or six Zhang. It relentlessly rushed towards them.

The previously gentle sea breeze turned into a fierce gale. Tang Wanqiu’s belt, with its hole, swayed violently. It tried to fly higher, but seemed to lack the strength. In the middle of its ascent, a tearing sound could be heard as the belt ripped into two halves from the hole!

2 / 2

The torn part happened to be under Cheng Qian’s foot. He stepped into the void and fell straight down from the belt. This time, Yan Zhengming reacted quickly. He reached out and grabbed Cheng Qian’s arm, wiping away the bloodstains that he had coughed up and hidden in the palm of his hand.

Cheng Qian instinctively tightened his grip on the Frostblade Sword and subconsciously activated his true essence. In this critical moment, the sword made a faint “clang” sound, although it was drowned out by the sound of the waves. Cheng Qian still caught it. He was unsure whether to cry or laugh—it was clearly a focused response!

Cheng Qian: “Let go, Senior Brother!”

Yan Zhengming ignored his words. His mind had just been filled with grief, and at this moment, he was almost possessed by a demon. His only thought was that he couldn’t let go of Cheng Qian.

Cheng Qian, in his urgency, had no time to argue with him. He quickly recited the mantra for focusing and controlling the sword. Perhaps it was due to the urgency of the situation, or perhaps it was the danger pressing in, but for a moment, he skipped the intermediate stages between focusing and controlling, causing the Frostblade Sword to hover unsteadily in mid-air.

Yan Zhengming’s grip loosened at the slight movement. He finally came to his senses and calmed his mind. He quickly released his hold to avoid interfering with Cheng Qian. “No… Don’t be reckless. Come closer slowly, take it slow. You can’t fly steadily now, so slower.”

Cheng Qian, of course, didn’t dare to be careless. The feeling of focusing on the sword was akin to transforming the sword in his hand into a part of his body. Even if a person stood firmly on the ground, growing an extra leg out of nowhere would still cause them to stumble a few times, let alone the Frostblade Sword, which was not easy for him to fully control.

Steadily, Cheng Qian controlled his true essence without getting distracted. He slowly approached Tang Wanqiu’s belt with the Frostblade Sword. However, just as Yan Zhengming was about to reach out and protect him, a sudden change occurred.

A water column suddenly appeared out of thin air on the sea surface, generating a massive wave in an instant. As it came crashing down from above, the seawater seemed to carry an indescribable force. Cheng Qian’s chest felt tight, and he couldn’t catch his breath. The Frostblade Sword lost control and he, along with the sword, was swept to the side.

The cries around him were instantly drowned out, and Cheng Qian only managed to grab the hilt of the sword before being thrown into the sea. Then, he was struck by a wave falling from above, losing all sense of awareness.

Fortunately, he instinctively held onto the sword hilt tightly. The scabbard of the Frostblade Sword was nowhere to be seen, and the blade, with its hair-splitting sharpness, collided with Cheng Qian’s leg, opening a bloody wound. The saltwater poured into the wound, causing Cheng Qian to feel the pain and regain consciousness.

He coughed up several mouthfuls of water and desperately held his breath, struggling with all his strength.

Cheng Qian considered himself fearless of life and death, but he didn’t want to die meaninglessly in the sea. Unfortunately, he wasn’t adept at swimming. Even in the small ditches on the ground, he could paddle for a while, but in these raging waves, he was completely helpless.

Trembling, Cheng Qian clumsily formed an unfamiliar hand seal. A thin bubble floated up around him, trembling as it contained him. However, this bubble was continuously broken by the seawater. Each time it shattered, Cheng Qian would gulp down several mouthfuls of seawater. Gradually, his consciousness became alternately clear and blurry. Rising and falling, he didn’t know how long it lasted. In the end, he was almost in a state of chaos, unable to struggle any longer.

Cheng Qian only felt cold.

The sword was cold, the water was cold, freezing him to the point of losing sensation.

Cheng Qian couldn’t help but think of the funeral he saw in the village when he was young—that seemed like a thing from a previous life. The old lady sewed a thick shroud for the old man and stuffed all the cotton she had saved for over two years into it. Since then, Cheng Qian had his first impression of death.

He thought that death must be extremely cold.

But this time, Cheng Qian didn’t die.

When he opened his eyes again, the sun had already set for another day.

Cheng Qian abruptly sat up, feeling a sharp pain in his lower back. He almost lay back down but then realized that he was on a large reef. The sword wound on his calf was soaked by seawater, turning pale and gruesome as it split open on both sides. A layer of white frost had formed on the exposed skin.

He heard someone behind him say, “Still alive?”

Cheng Qian turned around and saw a “wild man” meditating behind him.

The person looked even more disheveled than him, with tattered clothes that barely covered his body. Only his eyes were visible, shooting a piercing gaze at Cheng Qian. At first, Cheng Qian felt a sense of familiarity when looking at this person, and after a long recognition, he exclaimed in shock, “You’re… Master Wenya?”

Wenya gave him a stern look and angrily said, “Are you blind or have you lost your memory? Why are you calling me a ghost?”

Cheng Qian felt a throbbing pain in his temple. Seeing an old acquaintance, a thousand words almost rushed to his lips—about his master, senior brother, island lord, Tang Zhenren… But just a moment later, he cleared away the unnecessary vulnerability in his heart and regained his composure.

Cheng Qian tightly contained those words, swallowing them back along with the salty bitterness of the seawater. He respectfully bowed to Master Wenya and then silently placed the Frostblade Sword aside, sitting down to adjust his breath and restore his depleted true essence as quickly as possible.

Wenya observed him for a moment, and a hint of appreciation and admiration appeared on his face. He thought to himself, “Xiaochun mentioned that this child might be the reincarnation of his master, and it seems to be true.”

Silently guarding Cheng Qian, he spent the entire night. The countless stars adorned the sky above the vast sea, and as the tide receded slightly, the majority of the reefs were exposed.

Just as Cheng Qian finished his cultivation, he suddenly heard Master Wenya whisper in his ear, “The ‘Wretched Sword of Unfortunate Death’ is not so easily subdued by reason and logic. I believe you have already sensed that.”

Cheng Qian was momentarily stunned, then quickly responded, “Was it you who left this sword in my room, Senior?”

Wenya sneered, “Of course. Thanks to your miserable sect, I couldn’t even keep that shabby inn by the seaside anymore. I was pursued by a group of bastards all the way here. I planned to return the things your sect entrusted to me, find another place to hide until the situation subsided, but who would have thought that I arrived early and just in time for the grand drama of Qinglong Island.”

Cheng Qian asked, “Is this sword my master’s?”

Wenya scoffed, “Nonsense! With your master being a lump of dough, how could he handle such a vicious weapon? This belongs to your master’s master. Many years ago, it happened to fall into my hands by chance. Your sect was in ruins at the time, and there was no one capable to entrust it to. So, I have been keeping it on behalf of your sect. If the wielder possesses an unyielding heart, it can kill enemies in all directions. But if they are slightly weak, it will backfire. It is the epitome of preying on the weak and fearing the strong. Your sect is nothing more than ‘rats fearing the weasel,’ and the current generation is even worse. In a den of dwarves, you can barely put up a fight against it.”

Cheng Qian listened, feeling a subtle sensation. He thought that this senior was quite adept at conversation. He immediately stood up and bid farewell, “Thank you for saving me, Senior. I still need to find my senior brothers. I won’t take up any more of your time.”

“Hold on,” Wenya called out to him. “Do you know where they are?”

Cheng Qian roughly knew that this area of the East Sea had only a small cluster of islands, and Yan Zhengming and the others were probably nearby. Although he wasn’t very skilled, he could already control the sword with his mind. Taking advantage of the calm sea, it shouldn’t be too difficult to search the nearby waters from above.

However, in the next moment, he was shocked to hear Wenya say, “Let me tell you, they are on a deserted island less than five li away from here. If you fly there, it will only take a moment. But I advise you not to go—because Zhou Han is also on that island.”

Cheng Qian froze in place.

Wenya continued, “Last night, there was a great upheaval in the East Sea, and even you were affected. It signifies the fall of a powerful being. Gu Yanxue… sigh, that guy named Zhou Han probably took the opportunity to escape. He’s fast, I’ll give him that.”

Initially, Cheng Qian wasn’t in such a hurry. But after hearing Wenya’s words, he couldn’t suppress his urgency any longer. Before Wenya’s words had even finished, he had already taken flight with the Frostblade Sword.

Wenya hadn’t anticipated his impetuousness. He muttered in a low voice and flicked his finger, releasing a green light that turned into a binding immortal cord, catching up to Cheng Qian and firmly pulling him back to the reef.

Wenya angrily said, “Are you insane? Are you looking to die? Who told you that you’re the reincarnation of that old devil? Is he blind?”

The words seemed to have no connection, but Cheng Qian surprisingly understood. He struggled violently and said, “I’m not the one. It was a mistake by my master. Senior, Zhou Han has an evil heart, and he may harm my senior brothers. I implore you to let me go.”

Wenya replied, “…”

He really couldn’t understand how Han Muchen raised Cheng Qian, this brat. Not only did he lack the slightest reverence for those stronger than him, but he also displayed audacious cruelty!

2 / 2

Cheng Qian’s heart was beginning to ignite, but out of respect for Wenya’s long-standing friendship with Mu Chun, he refrained from confronting him directly. He patiently said, “Senior Wenya!”

“The sect…” Wenya suddenly sighed deeply. “Kid, with just a few of you children, you can’t support the Fu Yao Sect.”

Cheng Qian didn’t understand why Wenya insisted on belittling the Fu Yao Sect. However, considering this person hadn’t said many good things about his master either, he felt relieved. He didn’t argue about it and stubbornly met Wenya’s gaze for a moment, secretly studying the Binding Immortal Cord on his body, planning to find an opportunity to free himself.

Unexpectedly, in the next moment, he felt his body loosen, and Wenya retracted the Binding Immortal Cord.

Wenya said, “At your age, to have reached the stage of sword control is quite remarkable. I have had a long association with your master and don’t want to see you throw your life away. So, here’s the deal—”

Before he could finish speaking, several figures suddenly appeared on the reef. Wenya released three avatars.

“If you can break through my three avatars,” Wenya said, “I won’t stop you. But there are rules. I don’t want to see those fancy and flashy sword techniques of the Fu Yao Sect. You are only allowed to choose one move, and you can only repeat that one move. As long as you can defeat my avatars, you are free to plot against whoever you want.”

Only allowed to use the same sword move? Wasn’t that a test of true essence?

Cheng Qian almost couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity. It seemed that Senior Wenya was a bit disrespectful, actually proposing to compete in true essence with him. What’s the difference between an adult competing in arm wrestling with a four or five-year-old child?

It was truly shameless.