In the jianghu of the Shattered Star Continent, there was a certain location that was both revered and feared by cultivators, righteous and devil alike. By the name of Crag’s Pass, there existed a specific region of land in Great Yan that seemed shrouded in mystery and blood.
Since its discovery, numerous legends and myths had surrounded the region of land, prompting many cultivators from all directions to seek its territories.
Afterwards, the discoveries and tragedies of the cultivators who had ventured into Crag’s Pass had propagated further rumors and legends, prompting a never-ending cycle to begin.
Located at the eastern extremity of Great Yan, Crag’s Pass was a unique landmark. It was not a mountain pass or a trail that snaked through a valley’s interior, but a unique settlement entirely.
It was situated atop of a small plateau, with withered trees standing as solemn guards and poisoned flowers along the secondary trails that led to Crag’s Pass. The withered branches swatted at those who dared trespass the boundary, and the flowers induced lethal hallucinations onto those who were brave enough to survive past the onslaught of the trees.
The withered branches were rumored to possess the fully unleashed combat ability of a practitioner of the Core Formation Realm, and the hallucinatory effect of the wildflowers could not be forcefully dispelled by even those of the Nascent Soul Realm.
When they arrived at the edge of Crag’s Pass, it was rumored that there existed a massive taiji engraving on the ground, one that spanned a few kilometers in radius. The engraving had a depth of several meters, enough to fully trap a grown human if they dared make a misstep.
The channels were filled to the brim with a congealed substance not unlike blood, and a dense metallic scent hovered within the vicinity of the diagram.
Many had speculated that the landmark was once an ancient sacrificial ceremonial grounds for the devil factions, hence the bloody scent and obscene liquid that closely resembled human blood.
But the most fear-inducing and legendary aspect was that the taiji diagram in Crag’s Pass possessed a mysterious function towards cultivators who dared venture into the boundary. It was the sole reason why cultivators dared venture into the dangerous landmark in the first place, much less brave the hallucinatory torture inflicted by the flowers.
It was stated that winning a duel on the taiji diagram on Crag’s Pass could directly increase a practitioner’s chances of obtaining the Nascent Soul Realm in their lifetime.
Moreover, the rumor was directly supported by the instantaneous benefits one obtained by simply obtaining a victory, much less a kill.
Those who managed to defeat their enemy on the taiji diagram discovered their cultivation states increasing to the peak of their current Realm. On the other hand, those who dared to kill their opponent received a successful breakthrough into the next cultivation Realm, as well as a cleansing effect that removed any detriments in their meridians and dantian.
For the cultivators of the Shattered Star Continent who relied greatly upon the effects of spiritual medicines, herbs, and arrays to accelerate their speed of cultivation, the cleansing of their meridians was a gift bestowed by heaven.
Each medicine a practitioner consumed, or an array that they received the benefits from, or a herb that they extracted spiritual qi from, there existed detrimental residue on their meridians that could not be removed via cultivation or martial arts techniques. The residue resonated with the spiritual essence flowing through the practitioner’s body at destructive frequencies, reducing the effects of martial arts techniques, ingested spiritual medicines, or even their cultivation technique.
With repeated consumption, even spiritual panaceas lost their effect due to the interference imposed by the detriment.
If their meridians could be completely cleansed of any detriments, it meant that the spiritual panaceas that once lost their effects, could instill their mystical properties at full force for a second course.
For cultivators, such a benefit was of greater value than even the most sophisticated cultivation or martial arts technique that was handwritten by a saint.
Saints could prolong their life to a greater extent than others of their caliber, and bestow certain spiritual qualities onto those who had just begun their journey of cultivation to elevate their potential prospects.
The blessing of a saint could transform a peasant into an emperor in the jianghu, but the blessing of a saint could not cleanse a practitioner’s meridians of detrimental residue.
As such, the duels upon Crag’s Pass were exceptionally bloody and violent, particularly for those who were already at or nearing the Core Formation Realm. For those who wished to attain the pinnacle of the Shattered Star Continent’s legacy of cultivation and were just a step away, the temptation was far too powerful.
Even more so for those considered “true geniuses” of the Three Great Sects, for their reputation carried forth a heavenly oppressive responsibility…
“Senior Brother Sima! Heaven’s Childe Wei! Y-you… you killed him!?”
Atop Crag’s Pass, a youth clad in green and yellow scholarly robes spluttered, pointing his fingers towards another young man standing at the center of the mysterious taiji diagram.
The emblem of the Violet Jade Pavilion was inscribed on the back portion of the robes, serving as the indignance that propelled his anger and fear towards the young man clad in white.
His Brother and Sister disciples were equally besotted by the same sentiments, their souls trembling in a turbulent sea of emotions.
Wei Chang Luo shook the jian grasped in his hands, shaking the blood off of the leaf-like razors on the blade. The young man glanced towards the disciples of the Violet Jade Pavilion, his utterly handsome countenance apathetic and cold.
“Where are we, again? Is this not the Crag’s Pass of legends?”
His words were short and concise, but they rang true within the hearts of everyone present. As they glanced towards the solitary youth standing at the center of the taiji diagram, the chorus of fear and awe echoed loudly throughout Crag’s Pass.
Crag’s Pass was a landmark of the jianghu that was eternally stained by blood and spilled sentiments, hopes, and dreams. Throughout the thousands of years of its legends, countless cultivators had watered the soil and plowed the flowers to the extent that the engraving’s channels were filled to the brim with millennial-old blood.
As such, there could be nothing said regarding the topless youth laying face-first on the ground, a pool of blood surrounding his body with a broken staff scattered across his limbs.
The disciple of the Violet Jade Pavilion stepped back in acceptance, but quickly regain his momentum as a realization struck his mind.
“This is indeed Crag’s Pass. However, who you’ve just killed was our Senior Brother Sima!” he shouted in desperation and anger.
“Sima Gun! The Heaven’s Childe of our Violet Jade Pavilion! By killing him, you are provoking war with our Violet Jade Pavilion – have you no righteousness, Heaven’s Childe Wei!?”
Wei Chang Luo opened his mouth in surprise, his eyebrows uplifting to follow the spluttering youth’s statements. Nonetheless, what struck the entirety of Crag’s Pass was still the same apathetic voice that stung harsher than one filled with sardonic derision.
“So Sima Gun was the Heaven’s Childe of the Violet Jade Pavilion. I’m also the Heaven’s Childe of Han Lin Academy; isn’t that an equal status? Why must I be afraid?” Wei Chang Luo sheathed his sword in a smooth movement.
“Moreover, have you forgotten the rules imposed by the jianghu regarding Crag’s Pass? External influences and affiliation of any sect are forbidden to be utilized by those who dare enter to witness the boundary. Why even bother?”
The numerous cultivators of the various sects and schools felt their lips twitch in demur, but ultimately remained silent. They wished for someone to step up and defeat the Han Lin Academy’s genius, yet nobody dared to muster the courage.
There was a nasty rumor regarding the Heaven’s Childe of Han Lin Academy, that swords… were not his forte.
Nobody wished to become the experiment to test that statement’s validity, at least not at Crag’s Pass.
The young man of Han Lin Academy glanced down onto the ground, his eyes expecting a change in the expansive taiji diagram that swallowed his figure whole.
And as the youth wished, there was indeed a change. But it was not the change of a legend-bestowing baptism, or a cleansing of the meridians.
With a deafening crack, the earth split, chunks of dirt and congealed blood scattering throughout the air as an invisible sword cleaved across the surface of the ground. The trees howled in thunderous rage as they rapidly swung their branches, and the flowers screamed in pain as their roots were severed from within.
The taiji diagram suffered an additional set of deep engravings that expanded across the entire surface. However, these diagrams were foreign to its original nature.
When he had traced the entire set of engravings slashed onto the ground, Wei Chang Luo’s brows furrowed in suspicion. The youth tried to piece together the collection of horizontal and vertical lines scouring through the earth, and his lips silently uttered a single word.
Who was that referring to?
Before the youth of Han Lin Academy could ponder on the perplexing matter for even a single moment, the taiji diagram below his feet erupted into a mixture of white and black light. The bastion of light enveloped Wei Chang Luo’s senses, and Crag’s Pass quivered with a foreign, awe-striking fluctuation of divine essence.
At the same time, a young girl in the city of Goeun lowered her brush.
She glanced across the busy afternoon street and towards an inconspicuous yet clean inn, in which An Fei currently sat berating and being berated by Wen Jiu for her “political misdoing”.