the House of Prosperity’s ninth-floor Mountain and River Palace, he couldn’t help but lament.
“I wonder, just which member of the Xiao Family has such keen eyes? They actually beat me to the punch.

Madam Cuiyun’s heart shook.
“Just now, Young Lord Su said it was Xiao Tianque who gave him that command token.” 

Zhou Zhili’s gaze was suddenly more serious.
“So it was Elder Xiao! That sounds about right.
Only someone as wise as him could tell just how exceptional Su Yi is.” 

“Xiao Tianque….” Even Mu Zhongting couldn’t help but be stunned.

This was the former “Lanling Marquis.” He’d once waged war across the land, achieving enormous military merit.
His name was famous throughout the empire!

Regret coursed through Madam Cuiyun.
The funny part was, she and Elder Li thought Su Yi was lying.

But now it seemed highly likely that Xian Tianque had in fact given him the Purple Jade Token!

The implications of this were terrifying!

“Su Yi just said that you’re a clever sort.
I naturally won’t make this hard on you,” said Zhou Zhili, his tone casual.
“But still, we have to resolve tonight’s incident properly.
At the very least, I can’t disappoint Su Yi.
What do you think?”

Madam Cuiyun said in a low voice, “Everything will be as you say, Young Lord.” 

Zhou Zhili smiled faintly, then glanced at Mu Zhongting.
“Your Lordship, my status isn’t quite appropriate for this.
How about you take this particular trouble upon yourself?

Mu Zhongting smiled.
“That’s but a trifle.
I’m the governor of the Harmony Prefecture.
No matter who wants revenge, they’re welcome to come and try me.”

Zhou Zhili nodded, then turned to Madam Cuiyun.
“You got that, right? The person who killed the two of them tonight was His Lordship, Mu Zhongting.
As for his motives? You come up with something yourself.” 

Madam Cuiyun was inwardly shaken.
She nodded repeatedly.

Even someone as influential as Mu Zhongtong could only obey Zhou Zhili’s orders; there was no way she’d miss how terrifyingly lofty Zhou Zhili’s status was.
When she thought back to how Su Yi had treated Zhou Zhili, Madam Cuiyun felt a bitter taste in her mouth.

“These people….” Zhou Zhili glanced at Chen Jinlong and the others.

Zhang Duo’s expression was dark and imposing as he suggested, “Just kill them and be done with it.
The fewer people who know about this, the better.
It’s the best solution.”

Chen Jinlong and company were so scared, they practically fainted.
They all started begging for mercy.

“Indiscriminately killing the innocent is no good.” Zhou Zhili paused, then said with a smile, “Instead, record each of their backgrounds.
Make sure to get clear answers about both their friends and family.
Then, if word of this incident gets out, regardless of which of them leaked it, eliminate all of them, as well as their extended families.”

The punishment for loose lips would extend to their entire families! This was undoubtedly the most cold-blooded, heart-hearted approach.
It even had some of the callousness of an emperor

But at least this gave Chen Jinlong and the others a chance at survival. 

Once he said this, Zhou Zhili rose and left with Mu Zhongting. He left the rest to Zhang Duo and the guards. 

By now, Madam Cuiyun didn’t know whether she ought to be happy or depressed.
She felt deeply conflicted. 

The Vast Desert Palace.

“Is everything settled?” When they arrived, Qing Jin was leaning against the balcony and staring off into the distance.
She turned to look at Zhou Zhili and Mu Zhongting.

“It’s settled,” said Zhou Zhili with a sigh.
“Unfortunately, this incident was too small.
It was nowhere near enough for me to show my stuff.
Otherwise, I might very well have moved Su Yi with my sincerity and convinced him to work for me.”

Qing Jin snickered.
“Even if you hadn’t gone, someone like him could have resolved this on his own.
I even suspect that your arrival was as unnecessary as drawing legs on a snake.”

Zhou Zhili grimaced.
“Master Aunt, don’t hurt me like that, okay?”

“I’m serious.
I’m just trying to remind you that someone like Su Yi isn’t going to care about your paltry bit of authority.
His goals are likely the same as mine: cultivating the limitless Grand Dao, the path to true eternal life.”

When she recalled her interactions with Su Yi, Qing Jin’s gaze was somewhat uncertain.

“Eternal life? Does this level of attainment in the Grand Dao truly exist?” Mu Zhongting couldn’t help but ask.

“It does!” said Qing Jin without so much as pausing to think.

Then, she shook her head, turned, and looked out the window, gazing down at the scenery below once more.
She sighed lightly, “Alas, throughout its history, the Great Zhou has at most given rise to Earthly Immortals.
No peerless expert capable of wandering freely through the heavens has appeared….
Perhaps… That’s what it means to be a true immortal?”

Mu Zhongting found himself unwittingly fascinated. 

He knew about Earthly Immortals, but what about the immortals of the heavens? How impressive were they?

No one knew!

It was then that Qing Jin caught sight of Su Yi’s party leaving the House of Prosperity. 

Qing Jin stared at Su Yi’s lean silhouette.
He seemed solitary and detached.

She muttered to herself, “He really does have the bearing of a fallen immortal, except he’s too arrogant.”

Seth's Thoughts

I think it’s come up a few times already, but have we talked about the term “fallen immortal”? 

This is a term with a long history.
The idea is that immortals generally live far removed from ordinary people, alongside other immortals, but that sometimes they commit crimes and get exiled, or otherwise have to leave and return to the mortal world.
Such “banished” or “fallen” immortals may or may not retain their immortal magics, but they still have their knowledge, giving them abilities that seem impossible for a normal person to have.

Historically, the best example of this is the poet Li Bai.
I’m not saying that he was literally an immortal among men, but he was called that with some regularity.
He was just that good at poetry, I guess. 

In modern pop culture… You see this concept the super-cool (but unfortunately untranslated) food Donghua, “食神魂” or “Soul of the Food God”, as well as in the popular BL/Danmei series “Heaven Official’s Blessing”. 

(The link to Soul of the Food God is to the full series, on a Chinese site.
You have to wait like a full minute to skip the ad.
It’s in the upper right corner.
In the bottom, a bit to the right of the download button, there’s an option to turn off the floating comments.
ALTERNATIVELY you can just watch the 30 second opening here.
The ending features Chinese food and at least one “anime” cat girl if you’re into either of those things, haha.)

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