Chapter 17 – A Tree Destined to Reach the Clouds

Master Su was about to practice martial arts in front of them!

Xiao Tianque and Zi Jin glanced at each other.
Despite themselves, they were curious, and they watched with rapt attention. 

Su Yi’s movements were smooth and unhurried, but with every shift of his hands and feet, he emanated a unique, mysterious charm.

Zi Jin could faintly discern an immortal crane spreading its wings amidst the nine heavens, soaring through the sea of clouds, free and and at ease as it wandered the skies. 

Suddenly, the scene changed.
The crane became a towering, ancient tree, like the majestic backbone of its era, supporting heaven and earth with all their mountain and rivers, vast without limit!

Zi Jin unwittingly found herself fixated.
Her heart shook. This… What level of Martial Dao cultivation method is this?

“Hm?” At the same time, Xiao Tianque’s pupils constricted slightly.

He could sense that as Su Yi’s energy revolved, the spiritual energy around the mulberry grove was forming wisps and flowing towards Su Yi, like rivers flowing into the sea.

What fist technique is this? It can actually draw spiritual power into his body?! Xiao Tianque was stunned.

His cultivation was at the third level of the Inner Furnace Realm.
Within the Great Zhou, he was a Grandmaster of the Martial Dao.
His name shook the nation, and his position was so lofty, the masses could only gaze at him from afar.

Even so, this was his first time witnessing such a mysterious technique!

It has the charm of the pine and crane, as well as an innate, transcendent truth! With every breath he takes, he pulls spiritual energy into him to refine his body.
Could this be an ‘Origin Realm Secret Art’?

 Xiao Tianque’s gaze was uncertain.
He suddenly recalled a certain secret: rumor had it that when your cultivation broke past the Four Realms of the Martial Dao, after stepping onto the path of the Origin Dao, you could master the incredible secret ‘Origin Arts’!

At that level of power, a single movement could cut down mountains or sever a river.
You could breathe thunder and soar through the skies, like an immortal god. 

Experts of this level were called “Earthly Immortals”! 

And the secret arts of the Origin Realm were known as “Origin Arts!”

They were miraculous inheritances that shook the old and illuminated the new, techniques that skillfully wrested control over fortune!

Xiao Tianque was a Grandmaster of the Martial Dao, and he’d once been fortunate enough to witness the bearing of a Earthly Immortal.

As such, he could confirm that Origin Secret Arts really existed!

When Su Yi finished practicing, Xiao Tianque reacted as if awakening from a dream.
When he next looked at Su Yi, there was a subtle difference to his gaze.

“Master Su, what level of cultivation technique are you practicing? It actually… It actually made me hallucinate,” exclaimed Zi Jin.
Her thoughts were nowhere near as complicated as her grandfather’s; she just thought this secret art was unbelievable.

“It’s just a foundational technique,” said Su Yi casually.

Although the Pine and Crane Body Refining Technique was arguably the top foundational technique of the Nine Provinces of the Wilds, it was still just a foundational technique.
It was only used to temper the body during the Four Realms of the Martial Dao.

“A foundational technique….” Zi Jin was stunned, and a bit baffled. Can mere foundational techniques really be that mysterious?

Su Yi didn’t explain any further.
His gaze turned towards Xiao Tianque.
“There are two ways to treat the root of your injuries.
First, I can write you another prescription.
Within ten days, your injuries will clear up completely.

“However, if I do so, you’ll remain at your current level for the rest of your life.
You will never make any further breakthroughs in the Martial Dao.”

Xiao Tianque’s heart clenched.
He couldn’t help but ask, “Might I ask what the second option is?”

The second option is simple,” said Su Yi casually.
“All you have to do is tell me the cultivation method you’re using.”

“Ah?” Zi Jin cried out; she’d obviously been caught off guard.

Her grandfather, Xiao Tianque, practiced the “Golden Billows Incantation.” It was a secret art, an ancestral inheritance of the Lanling Xiao Family.
Only disciples of the direct line of descent were qualified to cultivate it!

How could they reveal it so easily?

Xiao Tianque was clearly hesitant.
Revealing their secret art was no small matter; it would affect the entire clan.
Even though he was a Grandmaster of the Martial Dao, he had to think this over carefully.

But soon, he grit his teeth and said, “I choose the second option.”

Zi Jin was obviously frantic, but Xiao Tianque shook his head, indicating that she needn’t speak.

Su Yi nodded.
“A smart choice.”

Xiao Tianque then repeated the “Golden Billows Incantion” for him on the spot.

Listening from the sidelines, Zi Jin realized that her grandfather hadn’t hidden anything at all.
Her heart shook.

This is our clan’s ultimate technique, passed down over generations!

He revealed it, just like that?

If the family found out about this, even Grandpa would be subject to immense criticism and pressure!

It’s even possible that they’d do everything in their power to kill and silence Master Su!

As Zi Jin’s thoughst raced, Su Yi said, “Indeed, it’s as I suspected.
Your cultivation technique is deeply flawed.
If you relied on it to reach the third level of the Inner Furnace Realm, I’m afraid you must have overcome potentially fatal danger on multiple occasions.”

“Flaws?” Zi Jin’s lustrous eyes widened with disbelief. 

This is the inheritance Lanling’s Xiao Family has used to protect itself for generations.
It’s been passed down for over a thousand years.
It’s a breathing technique publically recognized at top class! 

How could it possibly be flawed?

Xiao Tianque, however, was recalling episodes from his past.
He broke out into cold sweats, and his expression changed.
“It’s as you say, Master Su.
This old man has encountered three potential fatal dangers on his path of cultivation.
The first was when I advanced from the Qi Accumulation Realm to the Inner Furnace Realm.
The other two instances were both within the Inner Furnace Realm.”

“That sounds about right,” said Su Yi.
“That means that if I used the first method I proposed to heal you, even if you made a complete recovery, so long as you continued using the Golden Billows Incantation, it would be difficult to advance in the slightest.
Trying might even lead to fatal danger.”

Xiao Tianque could no longer remain calm.
He said anxiously, “Then what about the second method?”

Su Yi laughed.
“This Golden Billows Incantation has significant flaws, but not enough to pose a problem for me.
I’ve already helped you improve it.
Use this enhanced version, and you won’t just heal completely from your injuries; you might even be able to proceed further down the Martial Dao.” 

As he spoke, he reached up and broke off a mulberry branch, then started writing on the ground.

Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh~!

One character after another appeared in the sandy dirt.
The characters were grandiose and unrestrained, with big swoops and swirls, and the branch darted smoothly back and forth at top speed.

Xiao Tianque unwittingly found himself transfixed.
Before long, shock rose on his face.
The more he saw, the more shocked he felt.
By the end, his face was a mask of utter disbelief.

Zi Jin looked too, but her insufficient cultivation limited her, and she couldn’t fully fathom its profundities.

Only when Su Yi finished writing did he toss the branch aside and say, “Only by writing it down can I ensure that you’ll remember each and every character, without the slightest deviation.
This will prevent misunderstandings.”

Xiao Tianque closed his eyes and thought for a long time.
Finally, he let out a long breath, then bowed solemnly to Su Yi.
“You’re like a limitless celestial, standing above the Martial Dao.
You’ve transformed something rotten into something magical; this is a complete, flawless secret art.
Having it will bring my Lanling Xiao Family limitless benefit.
Please, accept this bow!”

Every word was solemn and sonorant.
His voice contained excitement, respect, and also deep-rooted shock, all of it straight from the heart.

Zi Jin found herself at a loss.
She just stood there in a daze. This….

Su Yi calmly accepted Xiao Tianque’s bow, then waved his hand.
This matter is already resolved, and I ought to head back.”

With that, he turned to leave.

“Please, wait up!” Xiao Tianque hurried after him, then took out a jade medallion and passed it to Su Yi with both hands.
“Sir, this is the insignia of the Lanling Xiao Family.
Please, accept it.”

Su Yi’s brows shot up.
“What do you mean by this?”

Xiao Tianque hurriedly explained, “I am well aware that you’re extraordinary, but if you walk in the world of the mundane, you’ll almost invariably encounter mundane troubles and trivial inconveniences.
Given your temperament, I’m sure you dislike such petty matters disturbing you.

“At least within the nineteen cities of Cloudriver Prefecture, this command medallion should be enough to make those mundane problems melt away.
Take it as… Take is a token of the Lanling Xiao Family’s good will.

With that, he added, “Of course, what you’ve done for us today is far more than a mere command medallion can repay.
Going forward, if you run into problems, anything at all, we won’t refuse any request!”

Su Yi accepted the token.
“This display of good will is a bit surprising.

Even as he spoke, he was already turning around to leave.

Xiao Tianque clasped his fist and watched him leave.
Only after Su Yi disappeared from view did he relax.
A smile rose on his gaunt face. I finally…..
Established a bit of a connection with Master Su!

“Grandpa, is Master Su’s revised Golden Billows Incantation really… Is it really that incredible?” Zi Jin had watched all of this play out, and it waves through her heart.
She could no longer hold back from voicing her questions.

Xiao Tianque sighed with emotion, “He merely heard me describe the Golden Billows Incantation once, but that was enough for him to determine the near-fatal dangers I’ve encountered on my road of cultivation.
Then, in less than an instant, he revised the incantation and eliminated its flaws.
How could something like that merely be ‘incredible’? It’s no different from turning stone to gold or garbage to treasure with a single touch!”

As he spoke, he turned to Zi Jin, a broad smile on his face.
“Lass, you’re still young, and you don’t understand.
After undergoing Master Su’s revisions, our clan’s inheritance, the Golden Billows Incantation, has completely changed.
Going forward, our Xiao Family….
Is certain to see Grandmasters spring up in far greater numbers!”

Zi Jin was finally starting to understand, and she couldn’t help but get excited.
That’s wonderful!”

“Do you dare say even now that Master Su is nothing but the Wen Family’s live-in son-in-law?” asked Xiao Tianque with a smile.

Zi Jin was instantly shamefaced.
She said awkwardly, “Grandpa, I really didn’t see the bigger picture earlier.
I was ignorant and narrow-minded.”

Xiao Tianque looked at his transcendently beautiful granddaughter and said amiably, “Ordinary men cannot determine which trees will one day soar into the clouds.
Only after a tree breaks through the canopy and towers over the rest of the forest do they realize its magnificence.
Su Yi is still young, and he’s hidden himself within the mundane world.
He is just like a tree destined to reach the clouds.
We were fortunate enough to encounter someone of his level, so we ought to do everything we can to build a relationship with him!”

“Grandpa,” said Zi Jin, “Are you trying to rope Master Su in?”

“Rope him in?” Xiao Tianque laughed.
“How could someone so distinguished serve beneath another? A Grandmaster of the Martial Dao can only look up to someone of his skill.
Only Earthly Immortals are qualified to discuss the Dao with him as equals?”

Only Earthly Immortals were qualified to compare themselves to Su Yi? The more Zi Jin heard, the more surprised she felt. 

“Besides, Master Su is still a young man.
The heights of his future accomplishments are sure to be beyond our imagination!” Xiao Tianque’s eyes flashed like fire.
“If we’re to build an amiable relationship with someone like him, we have to treat him with the utmost sincerity!

“We’ve already established a line of communication with him.
All I can say is, this is an enormous stroke of fortune, both for me, and for our entire Xiao Family!”

A tidal wave of emotion swept over Zi Jin, and quite some time passed before she calmed down.

After a while, the dazed look in her eyes gave way to determination, and she said softly, “Grandpa, please be at ease.
I’ll be certain to seize this opportunity!” 

Seth's Thoughts

The title of this chapter, as well as the line of dialogue it references, come from a poem by Tang Dynasty poet Du Xunhe.
The poem is “Xiao Song” or “Little Pine”, and the line in question is “时人不识凌云木,直待凌云始道高.” 

I did some digging, but the only translations I found seemed overly literal for my needs, so I did my own, taking some minor liberties for flow and clarity. 

Erudite_Birdy did some further digging on my behalf and posted it in the comments.
If you're interested, check it out! 


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