The sun rose from the east, and a cold wind blew.
Two individuals sat at a table in the middle of a long street, a pot of tea steeping.
The strange looks trained their way gradually faded from existence as a group of men in red clothes approached.
Swish, Swish, Swish
The Night Guardian led a squad of Red Coats to the table.
Xiao Wanfeng felt a change in the air with the disappearance of all ambient sound.
It was as if he had been transported to another world.
“A domain…” Xiao Wanfeng murmured.
The Red Coats had surrounded them in a domain.
Young Master Xu was their target, it seemed.
It could only mean one thing: they viewed Young Master Xu as a suspect.
“Xiao Wanfeng, dont just stand there! Hurry up and prepare the tea for our esteemed seniors.” Xu Xiaoshou inclined his head with a smile.
Xu Xiaoshous devilish smile brought him back to his senses.
Quickly, he counted the number of cups he needed for Young Master Xus guests.
“Theres no need.”
The Night Guardian grabbed Xiao Wanfengs arm, stopping him.
He was not there to drink tea.
The faint smile Xu Xiaoshou wore remained in place.
Not standing on ceremony, Xu Xiaoshou pushed his teacup forward, signalling Xiao Wanfeng to refill his cup.
“If the freshly brewed tea isnt to the esteemed Night Guardians liking, would he prefer the tea that has cooled instead” Xiao Wanfeng asked.
“I hope Senior doesnt mind.
I havent drunk from it.” Xu Xiaoshou extended his hand as he spoke, inviting the Red Coats around the Night Guardian to drink some tea and relieve their fatigue.
The Night Guardian merely glanced at the tea, getting straight to the point.
“Young Master Xu, do you know why this old man has come looking for you”
“I dont know.”
Xu Xiaoshou took his seat, his eyes signalling the Night Guardian to do the same.
Only then did he say, “Ever since Senior appeared at the trade fair, youve been paying close attention to me.
Im not blind, so how could I not notice Ive been waiting for you.”
Of course, it was all smoke and mirrors.
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[If he did not act as if he believes that the night guardian suspects himself to be at the fair, he would not pay more attention.]
Sure enough, the Night Guardian did not answer, as if yielding that point, he sat down and said coldly, “Lets get down to business!”
“Young Master Xus First Pavilion in the Sky is under suspicion for colluding with the ghosts, beasts, and the forces of darkness.
Young Master Xu, please give me an explanation!” The Night Guardian laid the charge at Xu Xiaoshous feet with a loudBang!
The Night Guardians fist slammed against the table.
The sudden action caused Xiao Wanfengs hand to tremble and almost spilt the tea he was pouring onto Xu Xiaoshou.
Xu Xiaoshou frowned.
He admonished Wanfeng, “Be careful! Dont lose your composure in front of Senior.”
Xiao Wanfeng was quaking in his boots.
The accusation levelled by the Red Coats against the First Pavilion in the Sky was serious! Who would not be nervous
Perhaps only Young Master Xu could remain so calm.
Then again, Young Master Xu was one of a kind, and common sense could not be applied to him.
“The Red Coats suspect the First Pavilion in the Sky”
Xu Xiaoshou regarded the Night Guardian solemnly.
“Senior, do the Red Coats have proof or are they mere suspicions” He asked, taking a sip from his cup.
The Night Guardians words implied they lacked evidence; therefore, their high-handed tactics.
The Night Guardians expression dipped, growing colder by the second.
He stared at the unfamiliar face seated opposite him, trying to find flaws in Xu Xiaoshous words and body language.
“The Red Coats are asking the questions, not you, Young Master Xu.
You answer to us, not the other way around!” The Night Guardian brought his fist down against the table, his tone carrying a threatening edge.
Xiao Wanfeng silently retreated a few steps and stood behind Young Master Xu.
No sooner had he done so than an inexplicable weight bore down on him, freezing him in place.
He had no choice but to allow Young Master Xu to handle the situation.
He was a mere mortal with no special talents to his name.
Serving tea and refreshments were just about the only things he could do and earn a living.
The matters of the First Pavilion in the Sky had nothing to do with him.
Xu Xiaoshou, on the other hand, remained unphased by the crushing presence exuded by the Night Guardian.
Now, he was almost certain that the Night Guardian did not possess any evidence to convict him.
Otherwise, the Red Coats would have arrested him on the spot and hauled him away for interrogation.
Since they did not have anything on him, it was fine if he used his persona, Xu Dechong, the successor of the But since there is no evidence, he is not Xu Xiaoshou now, but Xu Dechong, the successor of the Demi-saint to resolve the issue.
As long as he did not reveal any obvious signs of weakness, he could go through the motions relatively unscathed.
It was just another day in his life.
Xu Xiaoshou ignored the Night Guardians oppressive aura and casually said, “Senior, you go too far!”
“The Red Coats may have the power to put ordinary people on trial for no reason, but you cant do the same to this Young Master!” Xu Xiaoshous tone resonated with righteous indignation.
He even knocked the table askew in his little act, using his identity as a descendant of a Demi-saint family to deal with the Night Guardian.
Unsurprisingly, the Night Guardian was stunned into silence.
The Red Coats behind him shifted uncomfortably.
They had not known Xu Xiaoshous lineage.
If not, they would not have approached him as they had done.
Interrogating ordinary people was fine, but the same method could not be applied in practice for a Demi-saint familys descendant.
However, the Night Guardian was the team leader, not Lan Ling or the others.
The group followed the Night Guardians lead and not the other way around.
They moved with one will, suppressing the urge to voice their complaints.
It would not do to act rashly in a delicate situation like this.
As the saying goes, the person in charge is the one to be held accountable when things go wrong: Mea culpa.
“Ha!” The Night Guardian refused to acknowledge Young Master Xus rebuttal.
Sneering, he said, “Young Master Xu, do you think that just because your background is that of a Demi-saints, you can suppress the Red Coats and White-clothed Two of the most powerful organisations”
It was yet another mess.
Xiao Wanfeng staggered when he heard the Night Guardians words.
It took a great force of will to keep himself upright.
He was just an aide to the Young Master, serving him and pouring tea as expected.
Why did he have to face these awful situations over and over again
This months 10,000 spirit crystals was not easy to earn!
Xu Xiaoshou ignored the Night Guardians brazen words in favour of his cup of hot tea.
Taking slow sips, he said, ”
“Elder Night Guardian, your words are truly impressive.
I have barely said anything, but youve already decided on my guilt.
Are you trying to put me to death”
Xu Xiaoshou paused, his expression morphing into a picture of solemnity.
He brought his teacup down forcefully, eliciting a bang.
“Let me make things clear, once and for all!”
“This Young Master hasnt stuck a toe out of line since he entered the imperial city.
If Senior has proof that the First Pavilion in the Sky has committed a crime, I shall accept punishment willingly!” He continued after a short pause.
“But if you insist on pinning a crime on me, convicting me as you would a commoner without proof, I will not go quietly!”
Xu Xiaoshous words were firm and unbending.
Xiao Wanfeng stared at Young Master Xu with his mouth agape.
He knew Young Master Xu was steadfast, but he never expected him to remain so unyielding before the Red Coats.
Sometimes, being too inflexible is not a good thing.
If the Night Guardian grew agitated and pulled out a sword to behead the Young Master, would they do the same to him
Xiao Wanfengs mind buzzed with a thousand different thoughts, his imagination running wild.
Xu Xiaoshous ability to conduct himself under pressure was outside Night Guardians expectations.
Yet, he did not reach the point of being unreasonable.
A descendant of Demi-saints could not be a coward.
He could not force the young man into submission without proof of his misdeeds.
After a moment of silence, the Night Guardian decided to change his approach and asked, “Is your surname Xu”
The question sounded like a joke.
Everyone was shocked.
Xu Xiaoshou was about to retort when he felt a sudden chill run down his spine.
Realising that something was amiss, he squinted, a smile framing his cheeks, “Senior, surely you jest If my surname isnt Xu, what else could it be”
Night Guardian fell silent.
That was not what he wanted to hear.
The Night Guardian expected the opposite party to retort by asking if Night Guardians surname wasGuardian.
It was one of Xu Xiaoshous tells.
If the young man had responded like the Night Guardian thought he would, the Night Guardian would have struck down thisYoung Master Xu where he stood.
Even if he had cut down the wrong person by some stroke of fate, he would have admitted his mistake and taken on the blame.
The only other trait thisYoung Master Xu shared with Xu Xiaoshou was his unyielding attitude.
That was all.
It could hardly weigh in as evidence.
Night Guardians eyes widened when a thought struck him, “Young Master Xu must have always been at the trade fair.
I presume that you have seen him – the Saint Servant”
Xu Xiaoshou nodded.
With a slight frown, he asked, “Senior, could it be that just because Xu Xiaoshou and I share the same surname, you thought we came from the same family”
“Yes.” The Night Guardian nodded.
Such absurd speculation made Xu Xiaoshou angry, and he almost cursed out loud.
However, he quickly got a hold of himself, realising how the other party was toying with his emotions.
A mocking smile bloomed.
“I dont believe Senior would be so irrational to arrive at such a conclusion.
Could you tell me what it is, Senior suspects”
Xu Xiaoshous response was well-organised and carried no faults, leaving the Night Guardian no room to continue his assault.
Ticking things off on his fingers, he said, “Xu Xiaoshou is a master swordsman and elixir maker, and so are you, Young Master Xu.”
“Xu Xiaoshou is aggressive and perverse, and his words are cruel; Young Master Xu has acted in a high-profile, grandstanding manner ever since you entered the imperial city, and you even share similar manners of speech.”
“I do not mean to cast doubt upon you, but you and Xu Xiaoshou are all but carved from the same mould!”
The Night Guardians gaze burned with a servant light.
He wanted to see how Young Master Xu would respond to his conjecture.
Even Xu Xiaoshou, the man in question, felt it hard to believe how well the Night Guardian knew him.
Without knowing it, he tapped on the table, pondering his next move.
Once he arrived at an appropriate response, he adopted a dumbfounded look as if speechlessness had struck him mute.
Hesitating, he said, “I dont know Xu Xiaoshous way of doing things, but Im curious to know if this person truly bears such striking similarities as this Young Master.”
The Night Guardian observed Young Master Xus every reaction and movement with the eyes of a hawk.
Still, he came up empty-handed.
Nothing suggested Xu Xiaoshou and Young Master Xu was the same person.
Xu Xiaoshou reacted just like any other person who found out that someone very similar to him existed out there.
He, too, found it quite the curious coincidence.
A moment later, Xu Xiaoshou looked like he had thought of an answer.
“Senior, there are many who share similarities in this world, but it doesnt mean they are the same person.
Dont you think so”
“Moreover, this Young Masters alchemical skill is not as amazing as Senior imagines.”
“I only handle the transaction of the business between the First Pavilion in the Sky and the gold market; I do not refine the elixir myself.”
Night Guardian stared knowingly.
This Young Master Xu had just dug his own grave while trying to clarify himself.
Indifferently, he said, “Xu Xiaoshous alchemical skills are also subpar!”
Young Master Xu nearly choked on his tea.
The corner of his lips trembled as he spoke with an air of embarrassment, “At the moment, I can hardly be called an Elixir Master; I can only make Grade Seven elixirs.
What grade is this Xu Xiaoshou”
“What grade is that”
“Grade Ten…” Night Guardian sighed.
Even if the man was a fake, he was a very good one!
Why would he dig his own grave
If Young Master Xu was who he thought it was, shouldnt he have tried to distance himself from the real Xu Xiaoshou by saying he was an extremely accomplished Elixir Master It seemed like common sense to him.
Yet, this fellow had not done as he had thought.
“Elder Night Guardian.”
At this moment, a Red Coat at the back could see that the Night Guardian was getting nowhere with Young Master Xu and stepped forward to advise him.
After all, in the eyes of the Red Coats around, Xu Xiaoshou was already at the Master (Stage) while Young Master Xu was only at the Innate (Stage) of cultivation.
The fundamental difference in cultivation could not be ignored.
“Sir, hes only at the Innate (Stage)…”
However, before Red Coat could complete his sentence, the Night Guardian glared at him and said, “Shut up!”
If it was Xu Xiaoshou on the other side, how could he have dared to set up a table and wait for him without any preparation
Outsiders did not know how powerful Xu Xiaoshou was, but as the Night Guardian, he was very clear of that rascals true capabilities.
Ones cultivation alone was not enough to determine truth from falsehood.
The Night Guardian remembered the innumerable treasures Xu Xiaoshou kept on his person; any one of those strange artefacts could easily fool most people.
“Young Master Xu.”
The Night Guardian turned to Xu Xiaoshou and asked with a smile, “Young Master Xu, do you have a method to hide your cultivation level”
Xu Xiaoshou frowned and had a bad premonition.
How should he answer the Night Guardian
The Night Guardian was practically an esper!
This sly fox was an adept manipulator and easily hid his true intentions.
Xu Xiaoshou considered his options seriously.
Gesturing Xiao Wanfeng to refill his teacup, he decided to go with the truth.
The contrary to a contrary wouldnt easily be found out, now, would it “Of course, I do.”
The Night Guardian smiled and nodded in understanding.
“If there is, then the issue can be resolved quite easily! Although Xu Xiaoshou has broken through to become a Master (Stage) cultivator, he hasnt had time to consolidate his realm.
it isnt unthinkable for him to fall back to the Innate (Stage).”
“If Young Master Xu has learned a method to conceal his cultivation level, its possible he would be a match…” A Red coat muttered in the background.
“How about this, if Young Master Xu is not averse to me probing his spiritual sea, we can clear you of all suspicion immediately.”
“The result of this test will be sufficient.
On my word, I shall guarantee that the Red Coats will not pursue the First Pavilion in the Sky hereafter should the results be as we both believe it will be.”
The Night Guardian smiled.
Xu Xiaoshou strung curses in his heart.
That sly old fox!
How could he allow the Night Guardian to touch his body
The Infernal Fire Seed, Three Days Frozen Calamity, and Sword Cognition were still in his spiritual sea!
The Night Guardian did not wait for an answer.
His hands moved in a flash, reaching for Young Master Xus hands.
Xu Xiaoshous eyes widened as he quickly jumped out of reach.
A fight was brewing.
The Night Guardians expression instantly became tense.
The Red Coats also realised something was wrong.
Young Master Xu was attempting to resist!
Xu Xiaoshous expression sank, but he did not retreat a second time.
Instead, he advanced on the squad of Red Coats.
“Did I agree to let you touch me” He hissed angrily.
Xu Xiaoshous words defused the building tension and knocked the Red Coats back to their senses.
Young Master Xu was a Demi-saints descendant.
There was no telling what kind of secrets his body held.
How could he let others touch him so easily
Moreover, the Night Guardian wanted to probe his spiritual sea.
The spiritual sea concealed many secrets, and not just anyone could touch it.
The Night Guardian did not care about the thoughts of his subordinates.
He demanded, “Young Master Xu, are you not going to cooperate”
Xu Xiaoshou laughed coldly, replying in a venomous hiss, “Normally, I would cooperate..
However, Senior wants to explore my spiritual sea and discern the secrets of the sacred physique bestowed upon my Demi-saint Xu clan.
How dare you covet and attempt to defile this Young Masters most saintly body!”