Perhaps it was because he was stimulated by He Huan’s past, but this time He Ku really did work hard. As long as he was awake, he would be practicing. He Huan had worried in the beginning that his young nature would develop some sort of issues from being so serious, so from time to time, he would tease him with a few jokes. But seeing him remain whole-heartedly dedicated to practicing his sword forms, he couldn’t help but sigh. It seems that this bone-deep dedication really did stem from his soul.
He Ku was suddenly enlightened after seeing a Xuanmen disciple perform the technique firsthand. Apparently, he didn’t need to rigidly perform one stance after the other, like in the manual. Instead, he could use his own movements to flow from each move to the next. He Huan’s body was already extremely familiar with the Heaven’s Transcension Sword Technique; with this understanding, He Ku improved at an astounding rate.
In this way, he secluded himself for more than half a month, after which He Ku was unexpectedly successful and reached the Foundation Building Stage. He Huan finally called for him to stop when he had clearly cultivated until his spiritual energy was full, but he just couldn’t step through the gate that was the Golden Core Stage.
Although his body was a special case, having already experienced the most dangerous lightning tribulation, entering into the Golden Core Stage required the cultivator’s heart and technique to unitedly build a single Dao. He Huan was powerless to help him with this, because the Dao Bu QingYun built back then was unsuitable for the current He Ku. In the end, it depended on He Ku himself to obtain his own Dao heart.
Seeing that He Ku had at least some self-preservation abilities, He Huan could finally put down his worries and return to his dantian for seclusion. Because he forcefully left in the middle of healing, he had been dealt a small amount of damage to his spiritual consciousness. Moreover, in order to accompany He Ku these past few days, he also hadn’t had any time to heal. A rough estimate landed him at 3 days of seclusion. After walking He Ku through dealing with the palace affairs, he returned to the body.
Knowing that the damage from the tribulation was not a laughing matter, and that He Huan was already at his limit for holding it off for this long, He Ku didn’t stop him. Although he didn’t have any experience being a Demonic Palace’s Master, in the end, he still left QingYun Hall.
And so, the disciples of the Palace of Bliss were finally able to see their secluded Palace Master, even though the one that came out was still the qi-deviated one.
The order on the demonic side had always been quite loose, so when He Huan was there he didn’t do much either. It was just that He Huan’s current condition was special. Seeing his exit, the three Enforcers immediately dashed up to the roof to secretly observe for a bit before Xiu Niang worriedly asked, “Which Palace Master is the one that came out?”
After his talk with He Huan, He Ku didn’t continue to wear the Xuanmen uniform to stimulate him anymore. He only ordered some disciples to tailor a few new clothes that made movement easier, though the colours were still mainly either dyed white or blue according to a young person’s aesthetic tastes.
Currently, he was wearing a loose white patterned robe and his hair was styled in He Huan’s usual half-updo with a hair stick poking out. Perhaps it was because he had made up his mind, but his footsteps had become more confident. For a moment, they couldn’t determine who it was based on his outer appearance.
After appraising him for a bit, You Jiang hesitantly guessed, “I think it’s the real Palace Master.”
“Just ask.” Seeing the two still hesitating, Qian Ren was unexpectedly decisive. Leaping off the roof, he was the first to arrive in front of He Ku.
The Palace of Bliss’ environment was arranged extremely well. He Ku was currently glaring at a hanging flower basket in the hallway when a man dressed in all black suddenly appeared beside him, making him jump.
His hand had already reflexively grabbed his sword hilt before he carefully looked at the other person. Although this man could not be considered handsome, there was a threatening hint of danger lurking within his eyes. He had a brace of daggers strapped to his waist and legs, his hair cleanly tied into a ponytail. Wasn’t this the head enforcer that he’d had the luck of meeting once in the Main Hall?
Right behind him, a handsome young man soundlessly stepped to the ground like a swallow in the woods. Surprisingly, it was Second Enforcer You Jiang.
Previously, He Ku didn’t dare to look at him carefully because of the bloodlust he was emitting, but now that he had a chance, this You Jiang didn’t look half bad. He was just a bit below He Huan in terms of attractiveness.
You Jiang’s strength and technique were the best within the palace aside from He Huan’s. After he landed, a woman in pink followed with butterfly-like grace. She had a pair of beautiful almond eyes, red-violet lips, and skin whiter than snow, but her clothes were extremely revealing. With one look, you could tell that she wasn’t some noble lady. Especially with her waving around a red scarf and swaying her hips practically every step. The first impression anyone would have when seeing her was that she was a brothel owner.
The moment he saw her join the other two, He Ku knew that she must be the rumoured Xiu Niang who was slightly older than even He Huan.
Regarding the three Enforcers, He Ku knew that Xiu Niang was the palace’s old resident. After He Huan killed the previous Palace Master, she followed him. And although she was old, she didn’t really care for cultivating to increase her lifespan, so she stayed at late-stage Golden Core.
You Jiang was currently the most talented of the younger generation. He was only twenty-five when he successfully reached mid-stage Nascent Soul. It could be said that he was a heaven-blessed genius; everyone believed that with another 100, he would be the next He Huan.
As for Qian Ren, although his talent was ordinary, under He Huan’s tutelage he was also able to successfully enter the Nascent Soul stage. Moreover, with his arsenal of poisonous techniques and his ability to kill people without them even seeing he was there, even the people who had a higher level of cultivation than him didn’t dare to offend him.
Xiu Niang’s job was mainly to manage the business of brothels in various regions and to scout for information, while the internal affairs were left to You Jiang and Qian Ren to deal with. As for He Huan himself, he really didn’t do anything other than eat and play.
He Huan didn’t say much about them, only telling He Ku that it would be sufficient to just interact with them however he desired.
He Ku thought to himself that since He Huan gave them so much authority within the palace, then they should be trustworthy. Seeing that they all arrived, He Ku put on a smile and nodded to them, counting that as enough of a greeting.
However, he soon understood He Huan’s intention. He watched as You Jiang took one look at his face and exploded into joy, “This expression of mystery and this evil smile that causes people to tremble in fear the moment they see it. Sure enough, it is the real Palace Master.”
This… although he didn’t mind being taken for He Huan, what were these adjectives about? Is this how you regularly view your Palace Master?
Speechlessly staring at him, just as He Ku wanted to clear up the misunderstanding, Qian Ren firmly cut in, “No, he’s the fake one.”
Upon hearing this, You Jiang was puzzled. “How can you tell?”
“I just looked at his cultivation.” Silently sweeping his gaze over him, Qian Ren was very calm. Though to be fair, he hadn’t expected that the Palace Master would allow his Yuan Ying to cultivate a righteous technique, having opposing energies dwell in the same body. Was his undignified shifu not scared of death by explosion?
Seeing this situation, He Ku also understood that there was no need to pretend in front of these three. But since everyone was still more or less strangers, he could only put on a smile and greet, “Um… Hey guys.”
As he said this, he saw that Xiu Niang still seemed a little frightened and quickly added, “Don’t worry, I’m not Bu QingYun. He Huan hadn’t left me any Xuanmen memories.”
The three enforcers suddenly realised the degree of trust He Huan placed in his 18-year-old self, seeing that he had expressionlessly spoken those taboo words. After exchanging glances at each other, in the end it was Qian Ren who spoke first. “From afar, I saw that Palace Master was troubled by something. Was there anything that dissatisfied you?”
Ever since He Ku reached late-stage Foundation Building, he wasn’t able to progress any further, and all He Huan said was that he had to use his heart to find his Dao. As for any specifics on how to find it, all he said was to rely on his feelings. How was he supposed to understand something as unreliable as feelings? And so, he had pondered this issue the entire way without making any progress.
Knowing that they had seen his expression of frustration regarding cultivation, He Ku thought since they were all experienced experts, perhaps they would be able to give him some advice. So he immediately asked, “How did you guys enter Golden Core stage?”
They didn’t expect him to ask such a question and all three hesitated. One’s Dao heart concerned the cultivator’s life. If it were to ever waver, the consequences were between death and grievous injuries. This was why demonic cultivators don’t typically discuss things about the Dao, but now that their Palace Master had asked, should they say this or not?
If they said it, they were afraid Bu QingYun would disapprove of their Dao, since he came from righteous origins. But if they didn’t, even if the Palace Master’s age changed, he was still the Palace Master, what would they do if He Huan returned and wasn’t happy with them?
Seeing that her colleagues were stuck, it was Xiu Niang who went up first to explain, “Palace Master, a Dao heart is something that will affect your entire life, a mission and belief you will use your life to fulfill. How could it be easy to decide on something like that? If you were in a normal sect, the elders would wait until the disciples were mature enough to even let them begin to attempt forming a Golden Core. It’s just that the demonic side is too unpredictable, so many of us don’t have the time to slowly ponder the future when the future isn’t even secure.”
He Ku didn’t really mind that she just skimmed over the topic, only continuing to fret, “But I don’t even have a proper direction.”
After he said this, Qian Ren remembered what He Huan had once told him. In his past, he was only able to realize his Dao heart after he went out and joined a killing organization. It seems that the environment was also pretty important, so he added, “Perhaps Palace Master can try to slowly explore your technique. Doing so in a more suitable environment should make it at least a little easier.”
This made some sense to He Ku, but the problem was that no matter how he thought about it, the type of environment a righteous technique was suited to should be a prestigious sect like Xuanmen. There were absolutely no similarities between that and where he currently was.
Wait a second. Hadn’t He Huan also said that his heart still had some longing for the scenery of his past? Then why not do something that would completely flip the Palace of Bliss upside down, flip it into something both he and He Huan liked? Yes, the first step would be to change this unorthodox sounding name!
His heart moved. Raising his head, He Ku faced the three enforcers and asked, “What do you say to changing our sect name from the Palace of Bliss?”
The moment he said this, You Jiang also became excited. It was just that their excitement went completely in the opposite direction. “Palace Master, I’ve had this idea for a long time. The name ‘Palace of Bliss’ doesn’t contain any of our demonic overbearance, simply unworthy of our station! Say, do you want to change it to the ‘Manor of Doom’ or ‘League of Invincible Heaven Defying Demons’?”
What kind of chuuni names are those? Second Enforcer, can’t you be more reliable?
The moment these two names were said, He Ku’s mouth twitched. He hadn’t even been able to react yet when Xiu Niang rejected it disdainfully, “Such an embarrassing name, I wouldn’t even want to say it on the Jianghu. Master, how about the ‘House of Green Delights1 怡红院 – lit. Red Pleasure Garden, but the original translator for “A Dream of Red Mansions” translated it as the House of Green Delights, either way, it’s a very common brothel name. ’?”
He Ku was completely unable to see how this name used by countless brothels was better than the two above. However, Qian Ren quickly gave him an even more arbitrary answer, “Why do we need to be so complicated? Can’t we just call it ‘Demonic Palace’?”
Fine, it seemed that the three enforcers weren’t too attached to the name ‘Palace of Bliss’ either. It was just that He Ku couldn’t accept these names. With a bitter face, he asked, “Do you guys have any suggestions that at least sound serious?”
“Fuck The Sky Cult?” Without hesitation, You Jiang showed his personality.
“Spring House?” It seemed that Xiu Niang’s determination to change the sect into a brothel was also very strong.
“Whatever, I wouldn’t care if Palace Master decided to just call it ‘Sect’.” The great mercenary expressed his indifference to things as trivial as names.
Engulfed by the waves of apathy, He Ku first lamented that these were definitely He Huan’s enforcers. They all weren’t what could be called ‘serious people’. But after hearing what Qian Ren said, he was suddenly struck with inspiration. Not caring for any of their misgivings, he decided right then and there. “I got it! From henceforth, we will be known as the Mingmen Righteous Sect2 Mingmen literally means ‘righteous’ or ‘prestigious’ so imagine calling you sect, the Righteous Righteous Sect !”
“What?” Slack-jawed, You Jiang was doubting that his ears were wrong.
But who would have thought that the more He Ku thought about it, the more he liked it. Already coming to a decision, he satisfiedly declared, “Mingmen Righteous Sect, where in the world can you find a more righteous sounding name? Just hearing it sounds infinitely better than ‘Palace of Bliss’.”
So long as he didn’t hinder He Huan, Qian Ren’s attitude towards the Palace Master was already one where he would be free to play however he liked. On top of that, he didn’t have an interest in discussing this matter, so he immediately agreed, “Good, You Jiang can inform the disciples to make a new plaque and hang it across the Main Entrance tomorrow.”
Seeing the two highest people in the palace so arbitrarily change their name, You Jiang lowered his head and looked at himself, still unable to accept this change. “Us? Mingmen Righteous Sect?”
Similarly speechless, Xiu Niang looked at her outfit and also sighed. “Those Jianghu righteous folk would probably puke blood if they hear this, right?”
“Really? Then I’m not exactly opposed to disgusting them a bit.”
Unexpectedly, after hearing this, You Jiang’s spirits lifted. He loved doing anything that would cause the righteous side to puke blood. Just thinking of that bunch of hypocrites fuming when they saw this name, he instantly forgot his displeasure at the new palace name and gave his approval.
End of Chapter 16
THISBRO: Hey guys, updates might become a bit more sporadic (though still within the same week) since I’m starting my university applications~
- 1怡红院 – lit. Red Pleasure Garden, but the original translator for “A Dream of Red Mansions” translated it as the House of Green Delights, either way, it’s a very common brothel name.
- 2Mingmen literally means ‘righteous’ or ‘prestigious’ so imagine calling you sect, the Righteous Righteous Sect