Nine Heavens

Nine Heavens

Chapter 2 - Chapter 2

Madam Ji had been waiting at the courtyard entrance early, looking forward to seeing two figures, one big and one small, one in front and one behind. Only then did she reveal a smile, and went to greet them, wanting to pick up the child. However, He Lian dodged and refused to be held. His little mouth, soaked in cold river water, was tightly pursed, and his fair face showed a solemnity that was completely inconsistent with his age, but it was not intimidating and instead made people want to laugh.

Madam Ji indeed burst out laughing, seeing that both of them were dripping wet. She then put on a stern face: "Eldest, you took your younger brother to play in the water again?"

Zhou Da scratched his head, not wanting to say that his baby brother had run into the middle of the waterfall by himself, for fear of giving Madam Ji a big scare. But he couldn't come up with a lie either, and could only stammer. Instead, it was He Lian who spoke up: "I went to catch fish, for an extra meal in the evening."

Madam Ji saw the carp in Zhou Da's hand, and then looked at the water droplets on her younger son's face, feeling even more distressed. She grabbed his hand without a word and walked back: "Quickly come back with Mom to change clothes. Eldest, you come in too!"

He Lian couldn't break free, so he had to let her, and his eyes, which had no fluctuations, inevitably showed a hint of helplessness.

In his previous life, he was an orphan. Later, by chance, he embarked on the path of cultivation and became a demonic cultivator. Since then, his emotions had become even more indifferent.

Thousands of years seemed long, but for cultivators, they had to travel through mountains and rivers to find magic treasures suitable for them, fight against fellow disciples, deal with provocations and conspiracies from righteous cultivators. Most importantly, they had to enter seclusion from time to time to comprehend the Dao. Once they entered seclusion, they would be oblivious to the outside world. Often, when they left seclusion, decades or even a hundred years had passed.

Therefore, in He Lian's view, not to mention love between men and women, even familial affection and friendship were very superfluous things that were of no benefit to oneself and would instead hinder cultivation. This was because not everyone in this world had the aptitude for cultivation. Cultivators were one in a million. Once one was determined to embark on the path to immortality, one had to give up everything in the mortal world.

A hundred years passed in a flash. When you were still young, your relatives had already turned gray-haired. So unless they were dual cultivation partners, cultivators generally did not invest too much emotion in others.

He Lian was naturally no exception.

It's just that he never thought he would have a day when he could have parents and relatives again.

One day, the woman holding his hand would slowly grow old, her black hair turning gray, and eventually turn into a handful of yellow soil.

The mother and two sons entered the house. The head of the Zhou family, Zhou Chai, came out to greet them with a smile. Regardless of He Lian being wet, he picked him up and kissed him. Seeing his son's face instantly turn black, he laughed loudly.

"Did our little Bao'er go to play in the river again?"

Madam Ji said with a frown, "Hurry up and put him down, let them go change clothes. If you hold him any longer, you'll get wet too."

Zhou Chai laughed, "What's there to be afraid of? I'm in good health and won't get sick!" With that, he put He Lian down and patted his head. "Eldest, take Bao'er inside to change clothes."

Zhou Da responded and walked into the inner room with He Lian.

Madam Ji's smile faded, and she frowned slightly, "Have you decided where Eldest and Bao'er will go?"

Zhou Chai also stopped smiling and sat down, nodding heavily, "According to the village chief, an immortal master will come here to accept disciples in a few days. I want to let Eldest and Bao'er both go take a look. If they can be accepted as disciples, that would be a blessing cultivated through three lifetimes!"

There are generally several ways for mortals to embark on the path of cultivation.

One is that there are many people with outstanding aptitude in the family, passing it down from generation to generation, forming a cultivation family. Naturally, the younger generation of the family also has many more opportunities to come into contact with the cultivation world that others may not see in their entire lives. However, such families are extremely rare, with only a handful on the entire continent.

The second is that as a mortal, one encounters some opportunity and begins to get a glimpse of the path. He Lian back then was like this. He didn't have a master, but by chance obtained a secret technique left behind by a demonic cultivator predecessor. Coupled with his own outstanding aptitude, he gradually achieved the legend that followed.

The third is that cultivation sects will go to the mortal world to select disciples every once in a while, and then classify them according to their aptitude. Those with good aptitude will be accepted as personal disciples by important elders, while those with average aptitude may be arranged to the outer sect for observation first, and so on. For mortals, these cultivators are the immortals in their hearts. Therefore, from the common people to the royal nobles, they all feel honored to be selected by famous sects.

And the third way is what Zhou Chai just mentioned.

Madam Ji hesitated, "Didn't we say before that we wanted to send our eldest to study? I have a distant cousin on my mother's side who I heard was accepted as a disciple by an immortal master from Jinghai Sect many years ago and never returned since then. If our eldest and Bao'er also... then, then..."

She couldn't continue and lowered her head to wipe away tears.

Zhou Chai sighed, "How could I not want them to go learn the way of sages and worthies? Who knows, maybe the old Zhou family can produce two scholarly talents in the future. But now the world is in such chaos. I heard that the troops of Dongyue have already reached Anyang..."

Madam Ji was shocked, "When did this happen? When I returned to my maiden home a while ago, didn't I hear from my brothers that the Emperor didn't want to fight and wanted to negotiate peace?"

Madam Ji's maiden family was in the county town and had been in business for generations, with some surplus wealth. She was born before all the boys, so she was doted on by her parents and elder brothers since childhood. So much so that when she later married into the Zhou family, it caused quite a stir. However, after a few years, the Ji family saw that the couple was loving and devoted to each other, so their doubts dissipated.

"How can we country folks understand the thoughts of the high officials in the court? I'm just afraid that once the war starts, the children will be in the county town and we won't be able to take care of them. We'll still have to worry. It's better to send them to learn the Dao. Maybe they can even become immortals..."

Madam Ji said with tears, "That's easy to say, but how can I bear to let the children go to such a faraway place? Bao'er is still young, and our eldest is not even fifteen!"

"If you can't bear it, do you think I can? Don't cry anymore. If the children come out and see it, it won't be good..." Zhou Chai softly persuaded her.

The couple spoke in low voices, but the house had poor sound insulation. Zhou Da and He Lian in the inner room had already heard everything clearly.

Zhou Da half-understood what his parents meant by cultivation, but he could also tell that his parents were discussing a big matter concerning their fate and future.

"Eldest, Bao'er, come out when you're done changing clothes!" Zhou Chai's voice came from outside.

The two walked out of the inner room. Zhou Chai pondered for a while and briefly told the two the result of the couple's discussion just now. Madam Ji hurriedly got up to cook, actually using it as an excuse to secretly wipe away her tears.

Zhou Chai looked at the confused Zhou Da and the cold-faced younger son, and sighed, "Your father originally wanted to send you to study, but now it seems impossible. However, if you can be chosen by the immortal masters, you will be blessed with great fortune. I hope you won't blame your father."

He Lian thought to himself, with his aptitude, if people from a top-tier sect came, they would surely not choose him. On the contrary, Zhou Da had a high chance of being selected.

Zhou Chai continued, "In the past, there weren't so many rules in the village. Now, if we are to send you out, we can't just casually call you 'Eldest' or 'Bao'er. We should give you proper names."

As soon as he finished speaking, He Lian said, "Yin."

"What?" Zhou Chai was stunned.

"Zhou Yin, as in the 'yin' of seal," He Lian had completely given up hope on Zhou Chai's naming ability. Rather than walking around with a name like Zhou Bao'er or Zhou Bei'er, he might as well directly use his name from his previous life.

He Lian's full name was He Lianyin, but few people knew this name. Throughout his life, no one called him that. The world only knew him as He Lian, and even thought his surname was He and given name was Lian.

Zhou Chai knew this younger son was precocious since birth, and his appearance fully inherited the advantages of the Ji family - refined, lovely, and composed, unlike ordinary rural children. But he didn't expect he could name himself.

"Bao'er, why do you want to be called this name?"

He Lian closed his mouth again.

Zhou Chai had always been helpless with him. He patted his head and didn't ask further, "Alright, then you'll be called Zhou Yin."

He turned to Zhou Da, "Eldest son, then you'll be called Zhou Zhang*."

T/N: Zhou Yin is the 'yin' of seal. The full word for seal is 'Yin Zhang'.

He Lian: "..."

He suddenly became a little curious about what names this "father" originally wanted to give them.

Three days later, the village head indeed had all the villagers bring their children to gather at the village entrance. When Zhou Yin and Zhou Zhang arrived with Zhou Chai, they saw more than ten people dressed in green robes, with jade hairpins in their hair and long swords on their backs, standing there. The village head was accompanying them at the side, looking extremely respectful.

Among those people, the oldest was the Taoist priest in the middle, who had a mustache on his lips and looked to be in his thirties. The several young men and women behind him were about eighteen or nineteen years old. However, once a cultivator formed their golden core, their appearance would remain as it was before, forever young.

He Lian only glanced at them before withdrawing his gaze. Although he had lost all his cultivation, his discerning eye remained. These people were obviously not at the golden core stage yet. That middle-aged Taoist priest should be at the foundation establishment stage, while the others were at most at the fifth or sixth level of Qi refining.

Even so, such a group of outstanding people standing tall among the villagers of Zhou Family Village were already seen as immortals by the villagers. The village men and women were trembling with respect, wishing they could kowtow on the spot.

The other party was obviously very satisfied with this result. The middle-aged Taoist priest could still maintain a solemn expression, but the young men and women behind him could no longer hold back the curve of their lips, looking proud and confident.

The middle-aged Taoist priest said a few words to the village head, who nodded repeatedly and turned to the crowd, shouting, "These few are immortal masters from Jinting Sect, here to recruit disciples. Each family, bring your children over and let the immortal masters examine their aptitude."

This Jinting Sect was very unfamiliar to Zhou Yin. It seemed it did not exist 5,000 years ago. Even if it did exist, it was not some major sect. Otherwise, it would not come to this kind of place to select disciples.

The people came forward one by one as instructed. The middle-aged Taoist priest placed his hand on the children's heads to examine the spiritual root attributes inside each person's body. Naturally, the children from a remote mountain village did not look very promising. So when the people of Jinting Sect saw Zhou Yin, their eyes couldn't help but light up.

"What is this child's name?" The middle-aged Taoist priest unexpectedly opened his mouth to ask, making Zhou Chai beside him somewhat excited.

"In response to the immortal master, his name is Zhou Yin."

The Taoist priest nodded. Like before, he placed his hand on top of Zhou Yin's head and slowly injected spiritual power, but very quickly revealed a disappointed expression.


Zhou Chai was startled and hurriedly asked, "Immortal master, is this child no good?"

The Taoist priest glanced at him, seeming to feel that even if he explained, Zhou Chai wouldn't understand. He paused, then simply said, "The spiritual roots on his body are very sparse, unsuitable for cultivation."

This answer was within Zhou Yin's expectations. His expression was calm. He stood to the side as before, not bouncing around restlessly like other children his age. This made the middle-aged Taoist priest feel even more regretful. A steady and precocious temperament was originally the most suitable for cultivation. Unfortunately, his innate talent was lacking, making everything else just a foil.

Zhou Chai was anxious and was about to say something when he suddenly saw Zhou Yin tugging at the corner of his clothes.

"There's still elder brother."

Zhou Chai came to a realization and hurriedly pushed Zhou Zhang over as well. "Oh right, immortal master, please also take a look at my eldest son!"

The middle-aged Taoist priest was a bit impatient. He had spent several hours here and only picked out a few barely satisfactory candidates. He thought to himself that next time he should go to a bigger place. As expected, it was very difficult for any talent to emerge from this kind of small mountain village.

Although he thought this way, the task still had to be completed. He reached out and placed his hand on top of the eldest son of the Zhou family's head. After a moment, his expression gradually changed.

"How is it?" Zhou Chai was extremely nervous.

The middle-aged Taoist priest let go, taking a long sigh, "This child has outstanding aptitude and is a moldable talent."

Even the young men and women behind him were greatly surprised. Hearing this, they hurriedly asked, "Shishu, what attribute spiritual root does he have?"

The middle-aged Taoist priest looked at the eldest son of the Zhou family as if looking at a treasure, his eyes softening, "He has an ice spiritual root. His meridians are abundant with spiritual energy. He is a natural talent for cultivation."

Zhou Chai was filled with both worry and joy. He was happy that his eldest son was chosen, but worried that his younger son was eliminated. According to the immortal master, he had no affinity with the path of immortality in this life. But if that was the case, did he really have to send his precious child to study?

There were no more children with outstanding aptitude after that. But with a treasure like Zhou Zhang, Jinting Sect could be considered to have achieved a great success. They let the seven selected children first return home to bid farewell to their parents and relatives before leaving together with them.

But Zhou Zhang was unwilling. Zhou Da, who had just gotten a formal name, was reluctant to leave home and even more unwilling to leave his parents and younger brother. He couldn't understand. His parents were getting older and his younger brother was still young. It was the time for him to go up the mountain to chop firewood, do chores, and take on household duties.

But now he had to go learn some Tao and cultivate immortality for no reason. Could his younger brother have new clothes to wear and good food to eat just because he became an immortal?

Returning home, Zhou Chai and Madam Ji tried to persuade him to no avail. Zhou Zhang hugged Zhou Yin and refused to let go no matter what.

Zhou Yin was born beautiful and adorable. Although he was usually quiet and spoke little, unlike ordinary children, he was the treasure of the whole family. Zhou Zhang naturally loved this younger brother to the extreme. Now, he would rather stay at home to help his parents and live a diligent life like his ancestors, rather than pursue the immortal path that others wanted to enter but could not.

Seeing this, Madam Ji wept and said, "Since our eldest is unwilling to go, then let him stay."

Zhou Chai stamped his feet, "Long hair but short insight*! Do you think I'm willing? Isn't it all for the sake of the children!"

*T/N: Long hair is traditionally associated with wisdom.

The family cried and pulled at each other, unable to decide for a long time. Zhou Yin slightly frowned and suddenly spoke, "You become an immortal and come back to protect us."

If it were Zhou Yin's previous life, as long as he moved his fingers, he could protect them completely. What difficulty would there be? But times are different now. He has no power to truss a chicken and can only plan a steady way out for them. It would be best if Zhou Zhang could enter a sect.

Zhou Yin thought, regardless of the scale of Jinting Sect, with Zhou Zhang's talent, once he enters, he will definitely be valued. If he is unhappy, he can wait until he regains his original strength and take him out. At that time, whether he wants to stay in Jinting Sect or follow him, it's up to him to choose.

Zhou Chai nodded repeatedly, "Eldest, you see how sensible your younger brother is. You go learn skills and come back. If a war reaches here, you can lead our whole family to escape!"

Hearing this, Zhou Zhang's heart, which was originally firmly unwilling to go, began to waver, "Then can younger brother go with me?"

"Nonsense, the immortal elder only favored you and didn't say he could take your younger brother. After you leave, your father will send your younger brother to the county school and entrust your mother's uncle to take care of him. Nothing will happen."

After much persuasion, Zhou Zhang finally nodded in agreement, but he hugged Zhou Yin and refused to let go, repeatedly telling Bao'er to wait for his brother to return before leaving with Zhou Chai, looking back every three steps.

The following days were not peaceful. News of the war kept coming. Anyang was just a small country. The emperor was mediocre and incompetent, content with the status quo. The army was in disarray throughout the country. Dongyue had been plotting for a long time and suddenly sent troops. Comparing the two, the outcome was clear. In less than two months, Anyang's territory was continuously lost. The Anyang emperor was in a panic and moved the capital from Yunzhou to Songzhou.

This news was relayed from the county to the Zhou family's village. Zhou Chai immediately decided to take his wife and children to the county to seek refuge with his wife's uncle. At this time, another group of people came to the village, claiming to be from Jinghai Sword Sect, saying they were here to select outer sect disciples.

Jinghai Sword Sect was located on the nearby Jinghai Mountain. Zhou Yin had never heard of Jinting Sect, but he had heard of this Jinghai Sect. Only because it was considered a major sect a few thousand years ago. Unfortunately, with the changes of time and people, it had now fallen to a third-rate small sword sect. His gaze settled on the Jinghai Sect disciples' clothes, which were obviously not as luxurious as Jinting Sect's, and an idea arose in his mind.

Even though they didn't expect to find good seedlings in such a place, after hearing the village chief say that Jinting Sect had already been here, their faces still turned cold. They had even less interest in selecting the 'crooked melons and cracked dates' left over by others. After casually looking at the children of a few families, their eyes fell on Zhou Yin.

"What's your name?"


Hello! I'm Echo, and I've always been fascinated by how stories can connect us across different worlds. When I'm not translating, I'm probably playing guitar or experimenting in the kitchen. I hope my translations resonate with you, just like a good melody

Give me feedback at moc.ebircssutol@ohce.