3:5 – Zhan Clan
The nameless man… now called Sifu Guilao, stood off against Zhan Long, Xinxin’s father and the leader of the Zhan Clan. Despite the spiritual pressure emanating from Zhan Long, Guilao simply smiled.
Xinxin had a terrible premonition. The moment her father attacked would be his end. Sifu might have held back against Uncle Hu and Uncle Wei, but that was because they were third parties. Since Xinxin’s father was the source of her issues…
Xinxin wracked her mind on how to resolve the issue. Sifu said to leave it to him, but if she did then, judging from the look in Sifu’s eyes, her father would die.
Zhan Long stared at Guilao and said, “You know my name. Tell me yours.”
Guilao laughed. “My name? Of all the things to ask about, you ask that? Not whether your daughter is fine, why she left, or anything else?”
Zhan Long didn’t respond.
Seeing that, Guilao’s expression darkened. “Hmph. If you insist, you can call me ‘Guilao’ like your daughter has.”
“A ghost person? No, a foreigner devil?” Zhan Long frowned.
Seeing her chance, Xinxin quickly stepped back in front of her Sifu and father. “Stop! There’s no need for you two to fight!”
Zhan Long narrowed his eyes. “Daughter. We will talk later. But for now, step aside unless you want to get hurt.”
Xinxin shook her head and then turned to Guilao. “Sifu!”
“He asked for this.” With those words, Guilao pushed Xinxin to the side.
The beautiful young girl stumbled, landing on the ground.
An instant later, Zhan Long lunged, thrusting his spear like a bolt of emerald lightning.
Dark miasma formed around Guilao and he grinned, slowly raising his left hand.
Seeing that, Xinxin screamed. “Stop it!”
A vortex of spiritual energy erupted in the surroundings with Xinxin as the center.
“What?!” Zhan Long stopped his attack and then turned towards Xinxin. His eyes widened and he muttered, “Late Foundation Establishment? But that’s impossible!”
Guilao turned towards his disciple and sighed. “…Well, I suppose this works too.”
Xinxin stood up, panting with exertion. She didn’t know what she just did, but she knew that it was enough to get them both to listen. “Father… no, Daddy. Stop. Please. Sifu doesn’t want to hurt anybody.”
Xinxin glared at her Sifu.
Guilao rolled his eyes and became quiet.
Xinxin turned back to her father and said, “Sifu accepted me as his disciple after I helped him when he was unconscious. That’s all.”
Zhan Long frowned and shifted his gaze towards Guilao. “Is that true?”
Zhan Long’s frown deepened.
“A-Anyway,” Xinxin said. “Can we go back now, Daddy? I’m tired, hungry, and dirty.”
Zhan Long didn’t respond and kept staring at Guilao.
Xinxin’s Sifu shrugged. “She has a point. Besides, isn’t it inappropriate for the Zhan Clan Leader to leave the grounds just to accost a rogue cultivator?”
“…Very well. Xinxin, follow me.” Zhan Long turned around and started walking. “Brother Hu and Brother Wei. Show our… guest to the Emerald Pavillion.”
The two guards saluted Zhan Long and then gestured for Guilao to follow them.
Xinxin looked to her Sifu, but on seeing him wave her off, she quickly headed after her father.
The Zhan Clan manor. It was a typical oriental style building. Vast, but one level, it served as the living quarters for the clan leader and his immediate family, along with a few other important members of the clan.
Zhan Long led the way when inside, taking Xinxin directly to her room in the northwest corner of the manor. Once outside the door, he slid it open and gestured for Xinxin to walk inside.
Xinxin hesitated after seeing her father’s stony face, but she took a deep breath and stepped inside her room.
For a young girl, Xinxin’s room was relatively bare. A simple bed with silk sheets, a wardrobe with various clothing, and a few jeweled hairpins and combs along with a bronze mirror were all she had.
It looked like everything was still where Xinxin had left them. But before she had the time to think about it, her father stepped into the room and slid the door shut.
Immediately after, a dense spiritual sense covered the room, preventing anyone from eavesdropping.
Zhan Long stared at his daughter for a few moments before saying, “What were you thinking, Xinxin? Do you know how worried the clan was? How worried I was?”
Xinxin crossed her arms. “Hmph. You just don’t know what excuse to make if you don’t have me to marry off.”
Zhan Long pinched his nose. “Are you still talking about that? You know that marriage is for the best.”
“And what about what I think? How I feel?”
The air suddenly grew heavy, the power of a Core Formation stage cultivator filling the room.
“…Perhaps I have been too lenient with you after your mother died. But this is your duty as my daughter. And besides that… what are you so concerned about? I am sure that Wang Tian-“
“Don’t talk to me about that… that jerk!”
“He is your future husband.”
Xinxin huffed and crossed her arms. “There are still two years, father! You promised!”
Zhan Long groaned and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Just what did I, Zhan Long, do in my past life to earn such a child?”
Xinxin huffed and jumped onto her bed.
“Your clothes are dirty, Xinxin.”
“Xiao Mei is going to have more work to do now cleaning up after you.”
Xinxin blushed at that and then got off her bed, slowly brushing the dirt off.
Zhan Long sighed and leaned against a wall. “You have no chance, Xinxin. Wang Tian has already broken through to the Core realm. While I don’t know what heaven-defying technique your ‘Sifu’ used to bring you to Late Foundation Establishment, two years will not be enough for you to clash against Wang Tian.”
“Two years is a lot of time, father!”
“Not enough to prepare for and then transcend your divine tribulation, Xinxin. Even our founder took a whole decade to make ample preparations before reaching Core realm, and he had been cultivating since a child. You, Xinxin… you only have average talent and aptitude.”
Xinxin pursed her lips and turned her head away.
Zhan Long stared long and hard at his daughter and then sighed. “You foolish girl. But if you’re that determined, then so be it.” He reached into this shirt and placed a manual on the table. “Here. Don’t let anyone else know that you have it.”
Xinxin took the book and flipped through it. “This is-“
“I don’t know what your Sifu has taught you, and I don’t trust him, but as a member of the Zhan Clan that has stepped onto the path of immortality, it’s your right to learn the techniques of our family.”
Zhan Long shook his head. “This is the only thing I can do for you as a father, Xinxin. From this point onwards, whether you can seize your fate is up to the heavens. But if you fail, I hope that you will accept the role you are given.”
With that Zhan Long left.
The moment he did, the air distorted and another figure appeared in the room. “Some father he is.”
Xinxin cursed and dropped the book onto the ground. “Sifu! You can’t just-! No, how are you even here?”
Guilao picked up the book and idly flipped through it. “Don’t underestimate me, girl.”
“Give that back!”
Before Guilao could look at any more, Xinxin jumped off her bed and snatched the book back.
Guilao let her and held up his hands. “Fine, fine. It’s not like your clan’s techniques are anything special. I can already use most of them anyway.”
Xinxin froze. “…You can?”
“Of course. It’s just channeling some wood nature energy into your body and reinforcing it through the meridians. Basic stuff.”
“What is it girl?”
Xinxin frowned and stared at her Sifu before saying, “Who… no, what exactly are you?”
“I already told you, girl. Just a nameless ghost that somehow cheated life and death… but now what was this bet I heard your worthless father talk about?
“Don’t call him that.”
Guilao raised an eyebrow. “Why not, girl? He’s selling you off to a man as an ornament and the only thing he can do for you is give you a book?” He shook his head. “I take it back. He’s not worthless, he’s trash.”
“Am I wrong? I bet that he didn’t even watch you grow up, too busy with his ‘clan duties’.”
That time, Xinxin didn’t respond. Her Sifu was right.
At that time, someone knocked at the door. “Lady Xinxin? Your father sent me to help you clean up.”
That was Xiaomei!
Xinxin’s eyes widened. “In a moment!”
She gestured for her Sifu to hide, but he just rolled his eyes.
“Sifu!” Xinxin whispered.
Guilao walked towards Xinxin and said, “I’ll see you later, girl. Rest easy until I get back.” After saying those words, he vanished into thin air.
The moment he did, the door opened and a young woman in a plain brown robe walked in while rolling a cart carrying a tub of warm water. She wasn’t as beautiful as Xinxin, but she could still be considered fairly attractive.
Xiaomei took a look around the room and frowned. “Are you alright, Lady Xinxin? I thought I heard another voice-“
“It’s nothing! I was just… talking to myself, Xiaomei!”
The young woman stared at Xinxin.
Xinxin smiled, doing her best to keep her cool.
After a while, Xiaomei nodded. “…Of course, Lady Xinxin. Now, your father told me that you needed to bathe…”