Chapter 200: Come and Have a Game of Chess With Me!
They stared at one another, their eyes full of shock.
Spiritual cultivators werent true deities.
Of those whod gained enlightenment on the path and advanced to the Sovereign Stage, thus extending their lifespans, few had been able to live past two hundred years old.
The highest level of cultivation that a Sovereign Stage cultivator might achieve during such a finite lifespan was known as their “path level.”
All five of them were at the Sovereign Stage in their path level.
What they competed against the others on was the depth of their enlightenment, the strength of their enlightened path, and the level of adeptness they achieved upon the path.
The two founding elders had stumbled upon ordinary paths of enlightenment that had allowed no opportunity to develop further mastery or expertise.
That might very well be the height of their achievement in cultivation.
In fact, they might reach the end of their lifespan soon and pass on.
But levels beyond the path level afforded a drastically different future.
Sovereign Stage cultivators who gained a deep understanding of the path, successfully cleaved it, and advanced to the Cutting Path Level would not only gain a drastic boost to their cultivation, but would extend their lifespans by almost tenfold.
The old man before them had called the two founding elders young fellows.
Could he be a Sovereign Stage cultivator whod attained the Cutting Path Level
Jiang Bianyan eyed the old mans pole before casting a glance at the small axe hanging from the old mans waist.
He swallowed hard.
“Is the venerable seniors last name by any chance Cen” he asked tentatively after appearing to have arrived at some conclusion.
He instinctively addressed the old man respectfully, even though the latter was clearly an enemy.
Jiang Bianyans deference revealed the shock that he was probably reeling from.
The old mans eyes instantly lit up.
“I cant believe it! You know who I am”
The other four cultivators appeared bewildered.
They turned their eyes to Jiang Bianyan and gave him looks of confusion.
“Who is he”
Jiang Bianyan took a deep breath, as if he were trying to calm the waves of shock and disbelief swelling inside him.
The old man nodded approvingly without denying it in the slightest.
The other four cultivators froze momentarily before a look of sheer incredulity filled their eyes.
Qiao Qianzhi instinctively glanced at the axe hanging from the old mans waist and already knew the answer to his question.
“Is he the legendary Woodsman Qiao Fu, Cen Qiaofu” he asked.
He was unsurprised to see Jiang Bianyan nod.
Waves of shock swelled inside him.
There were numerous powerful spiritual cultivators in the world, but few whod transcended to become legends remembered by everyone else.
Woodsman Qiao Fu was one of them.
According to the legends, Woodsman Qiao Fu was an ordinary man whod spent his life traveling between his home and the woods to make a living.
His daily work had consisted of chopping wood and ferrying buckets of water.
For more than a hundred years, hed lived such a life.
Then, the old man stumbled upon enlightenment at an age when he shouldve passed on.
Within a single night, he cleaved the path and entered the Sovereign Stage.
From that day, he went on to make a name for himself with his axe and pole and caused an uproar that reverberated across the world.
The spiritual cultivator would explain that the culmination of experience that hed gathered during his entire lifetime had led him to his eventual enlightenment.
And, with a little cultivation, hed then reached the peak of his cultivation.
True geniuses were few and far between.
The Eighth Sword Deity was one of them.
As for this old man, his entry to the path was undoubtedly unique.
Helplessness colored the eyes of the four cultivators when they realized who the old man was.
They couldnt possibly fight this man!
He was a legend hundreds of years ago.
That made him a dinosaur that predated all of them.
Even if they were to have twice their numbers now, they wouldnt be able to take down this dinosaur.
“Senior Cen, didnt you retreat to the mountains as a hermit Why have you appeared before the gates of the Spirit Palace” asked Jiang Bianyan.
Cen Qiaofu burst into laughter.
But I was no match against conniving youngsters and their unscrupulous means.
They used trickery and deception and lured me into joining their venture.”
“Are you saying… that the masked man got you out of retirement”
Jiang Bianyan fell silent.
Itd suddenly dawned on him that this was why Ye Xiaotian had looked so sullen when hed brought only two young cultivators with him.
When hed received the letter requesting aid, hed thought he would be showing the greatest respect to the Spirit Palace by turning up personally to help them.
But he hadnt expected the Spirit Palace to be faced with such powerful foes.
His arrogance had not only resulted in him overestimating his own abilities, but it had caused him humiliation as well!
He couldve had ten of him here and still wouldnt have felt confident of his chances against this old man!
An obstinate streak in Jiang Bianyan compelled him to ask the old man, “Has the venerable senior really joined the Holy Vassal”
“Young fellow, you may cease your questions.
Return to the Holy Divine Palace alive and let them have this news as soon as possible.
I might be paying your headquarters a visit sometime soon.”
The genial expression on Cen Qiaofus face belied the terrifying words hed just uttered.
The looks on the five cultivators faces instantly darkened.
This was terrible news!
The Holy Vassal had drastically expanded its influence right under their nose, and theyd even managed to get someone as powerful as Cen Qiaofu out of retirement to fight for their cause!
The old man stopped joking around with them and smacked the tip of his pole against the ground again.
The Spirit Palaces array rippled and flared violently.
“Honestly, I dont really kill these days.
Why dont we play a game instead”
The five cultivators eyed the old man with trepidation.
They could feel all the hairs stand on end and their bodies tense up.
Hypervigilance had them noticing every blade stirring in the slightest breeze.
If Cen Qiaofu decided to fight, he could maim half their numbers in a single blow.
The old man smiled and shrugged when he caught the look on their faces.
“Dont get so uptight!
“I harbor no ill will toward anyone.
But I have my mission, which means that all five of you and any other Sovereign Stage cultivator who turns up…
“…will be stuck with me.”
The rest of them froze momentarily.
Was he simply a diversion
Qiao Qianzhi and Xiao Qixiu exchanged looks.
This was terrible.
If the old man was simply the diversion, who was the main force of the attack
The answer was as clear as day.
It was the masked man!
“Everybody, come on, take a seat.”
Cen Qiaofu pulled out a mahogany chessboard and two boxes of chess pieces and started to reminisce.
“I made these in my younger days.
You could gain enlightenment just by playing a single round of chess.
We dont have anything better to do anyway.
Why dont we have a friendly chat over a game of chess”
He propped his walking stick up and began thinking.
“Hmm… were missing something.”
His eyes lit up shortly.
“Do you have nuts”
Everyone fell silent.
Was he seriously suggesting that they nibble on nuts while playing a game of chess The Spirit Palace was in the midst of a crisis.
No one could afford the luxury of playing a game of chess with the old man!
The two hot-tempered founding elders couldnt take it any longer.
They would rather be killed in battle than suffer insult.
Their enemy had appeared at their gates and openly provoked them.
Who could take that lying down
The founding elders exchanged a look with each other, then unleashed their spiritual source.
The next instant, they appeared on either side of Cen Qiaofu.
The battle with the masked man had led the founding elders to a realization—their strength was limited.
Yet, they didnt care if they burned like moths that had thrown themselves into the flames.
They would do anything to win any shred of hope for the future of the Spirit Palace!
As long as they could injure Cen Qiaofu, Xiao Qixiu would definitely be able to swoop in with his Sovereign Stage swordsmanship, overpower the more powerful foe, and kill the latter…
Cen Qiaofu whipped out his pole, sent one of the founding elders into the air and another straight into the ground, then sighed.
“Such hot-blooded young men…”
The sight sent the eyelids of the law enforcers twitching violently.
Did he just take the founding elders down with a single attack
How the h*ll were they supposed to fight this man Was he a monster
The founding elders and the Cen Qiaofu might not share the same sub-level, but they were all Sovereign Stage cultivators.
Shouldnt he have given them the chance to unleash their spiritual source in respect to their dignity
But hed struck them dumb with that pole.
Cen Qiaofu slammed his pole into the ground and once again sent the Spirit Palaces array quavering violently.
His hits were getting increasingly more powerful.
The next one might just shatter the array.
Qiao Qianzhis face darkened.
Repairing such an array was no easy feat.
“Senior, didnt you promise not to attack the Spirit Palace The array…”
Cen Qiaofu shrugged and said casually, “Its just a warning.
I wont break that array of yours.
“But I have to let the rest know that theres a fight going on here somehow and that its getting more intense.
Otherwise, no one will come to your aid, am I right”
The cultivators were stupefied.
Was that why hed kept up with his occasional attacks on the array
Qiao Qianzhi grimaced inwardly and prayed fervently that no more reinforcements would arrive.
Otherwise, all of them would be trapped in a fight with this old man.
At that precise moment, a small figure suddenly appeared.
Power emanated from the slight form as his snowy white hair drifted in the wind.
“Who dares trespass upon our grounds!”
Ye Xiaotian was feeling extremely displeased.
He couldnt believe that hed failed to take down a mere Master Stage swordsman.
Unless the intruder whod appeared at the Spirit Palaces gates was the masked man, he swore he was going to teach him a good lesson!
No one seemed happy to see him, though.
The light in their eyes had dimmed with sorrow.
Ye Xiaotian was perplexed.
Had their morale been beaten out of them
He surveyed the area and found no traces of any huge fight that had taken place…
“Whats going on”
“Another Sovereign Stage cultivator” Cen Qiaofu was elated.
He stuck his pole into the ground, grabbed his chessboard, and squatted down.
“Come and have a game of chess with me!”