Chapter 4 - Spatial Disturbance
Tens of thousands of kilometres away from Wu Lim city stood a sky-piercing mountain surrounded by hundreds of smaller mountains. Hidden within a mystifying fog, a paradise exists filled with the cries of beasts, enchanting fragrance of spirit herbs, and dense clouds of spirit qi.
On the smaller mountains one could see thousands of disciples moving about. Some were training on the fields, some selling precious materials, pills, and weapons in the market, and some silently cultivating in their pavilions.
This place was the biggest sect in the Great Zhou Empire, having millions of disciples and an area bigger than that of any country in the Empire. Even the Grand Capital being ten times smaller than it. It was also one of the only few sects in the Great Zhou Empire that had Dao Treading Realm elders cultivating within, and was also rumoured to have an Immortal Ascension stage ancestor living in seclusion.
On the tallest peak of the sect stood an elegant palace decorated with auspicious statues, gilded gates, and beautiful ponds filled with charming carps dancing within them. This was the grand palace of the sect, where the sect patriarch and the top elders lived and pondered upon the matters of the sect.
Within an enormous hall sat a middle-aged man clad in a white Daoist robe. His long hair was held up with a silver pin, beard well groomed and straight. The man had a calm demeanour, yet his eyes held an imposing presence. Within his left hand he held a jade seal, while in his right he held a scroll. This man was engrossed in reading when the doors of the hall opened and a black robed elder walked in.
The black-robed elder was old, having long white hair and a similarly long white beard; yet not a single wrinkle present on his face. The sleeves of his black robe had gold etchings denoting his rank of a head elder. The elder walked towards the sect patriarch who was reading a scroll and waited for fifteen minutes until the patriarch finished reading it.
Once the patriarch finished reading the scroll, he held up the jade seal and waves of intense spirit qi erupted from it. Then the patriarch pressed the jade seal upon the scroll, whereupon the waves stopped and on the scroll was left with a golden seal mark made of pure condensed qi.
The Sect Patriarch rolled the scroll and placed it on a table beside him, where six more scrolls lied. Looking towards the black-robed elder, he asked:
"What did you have to report, elder Han Something important I presume, otherwise you would have just sent the regular report with a disciple instead of coming in person."
The Black robed elder named Han with a slight smile on his face replied,
"The Patriarch is as perceptive as always... indeed I do have something to report, which I believe you may find intriguing. The common reports are within the scroll, while I wanted to tell you about two matters. The first being the crown prince breaking through to the core condensation realm at the age of 20 years old, becoming the youngest person to break through to the core condensation realm in all the countries of the Great Zhou Empire; of course not counting the core disciples of the top three sects. In celebration of this, the Emperor is organising a grand festival and has sent invitations to all the noble families and the top sects of the empire."
With an unimpressed look, the patriarch spoke;
"Hmm, that is indeed a cause for celebration for the emperor, especially after the first prince gave up his claim to the title of the crown prince all those years ago; letting the second prince become the crown prince instead. Now that the second prince has achieved this, his position as the crown prince is more secure. I wonder what price the Empress paid to let her son reach the core condensation realm this fast."
Elder Han gazed at the middle-aged patriarch thinking to himself Its been over 30 years since he became the sect patriarch and yet he still has his youthful inquisitiveness left, it was a right decision the previous sect patriarch made in choosing him over the other candidates, then spoke,
"The disciples from the shadow pavilion reported that the empress had some dealings with the Rainbow Pill Sect. The exact nature of which is unknown. If you would like, I could ask the shadow pavilion disciples to investigate more into it. Also, theres going to be a tournament held during the festival for the youths to demonstrate their skills."
The Sect Patriarch now looking slightly interested said,
"Yes, ask the shadow pavilion to investigate more into it. Also, choose some suitable disciples and send an elder as the representative of our sect to take part in the festival as well as the tournament."
Taking a momentary pause, the patriarch continued:
"And the second matter, what about it"
Now Elder Han had a serious look in his eyes, and with a stern face replied,
"The Star catching peak detected spatial disturbances coming from the Empire."
Having a calm look, the patriarch replied,
"That is indeed uncommon, but I dont understand how its a cause for concern. Meteors fall every year randomly all over the empire. Even when the star catching formation is active, it cant attract all of them with the formation."
Elder Han answered,
"It would not matter if it was just a meteor, but we do not know what, or who, this was. It caused a spatial disturbance, but it never even touched the world boundary; just passing through it as if it did not even exist. We also could not detect where it fell."
The Sect Patriarch now had a shocked look in his eyes as he knew what it meant if the world boundary was never breached yet there were still spatial disturbances detected. It would be fine if it was just a precious material or perhaps even a treasure, but if it was a person, then the situation would become a hundred times more complex.
"Elder Han, you know what this could mean, right If it does turn out to be as serious as were thinking, we will have to inform the other sects and the Emperor. Things have only become calm in recent years. We do not want the unrest this could bring or we would have to cancel a lot of our long-term plans." The Patriarch spoke.
The black-robed elder heard him with an understanding look and then continued,
"That would be true, lets hope it does not come to that. In the meantime, Ill ask some elders from the star catching peak to personally investigate the spatial disturbance, as we still do not know where it fell to."
Just as Elder Han spoke this, he felt the communication jade hanging on his waist buzz. Holding it in his hand, he listened to the message and then spoke to the Patriarch.
"The disciples at the star catching peak just detected another spatial disturbance. It was much fainter than previously and we dont know if it was caused by the same thing as before, but we now know that it came from the Northern lands."
After listening to what Elder Han had to say, the sect patriarch pondered for a minute before answering,
"Send an elder and some disciples to the Northern lands to investigate the disturbance. Also send a report about this to the external elders, located in all the regions, and ask them to keep an eye out for such a disturbance in their designated areas; in case the spatial disturbance in the Northern lands was an isolated incident, and the actual anomaly that caused it is located somewhere else."
Cupping his hands, Elder Han replied,
"As you command, Patriarch. Should I also issue a common mission to all the disciples of the sect to inform us about any spatial disturbance or anomaly they hear about or observe"
"Yes, do that too. We may find information about it from some mundane or obscure lead that a disciple may find while they are out of the sect."
Still cupping his hands, Elder Han continued,
"Maybe we should also inform our allied sects to keep an ear out for any rumours they may hear"
Now with a tired look the Sect Patriarch said,
"No, dont inform them just yet. Not at least until we have some more substantial information about it. We must not muddy the waters when there is nothing to gain from it."
Elder Han nodded and turned around to leave when the patriarch spoke once more with a gloomy tone:
"Just in case, tell all the disciples that are going for investigation to leave a wisp of their qi in the Hall of souls, and issue all the disciples with two distress talismans: one a common distress talisman, while the other the sect alerting talisman. If it comes to it, at least we will know what kind of situation we are up against."
Elder Han had an understanding look in his eyes, knowing that if a situation as bad as they thought occurs, these measures may be the only way of knowing it; as it could be likely that the disciples and the elders may never return.
"As you wish, Patriarch. It will be done as you said."
Elder Han strode out of the Hall towards the Missions pavilion to select which disciples to send for investigations, and also inform the star catching peak on how to proceed.
As the doors of the great hall closed, the sect patriarch placed his hand upon his chin and closed his eyes to think of all possibilities that he could; for he knew that even the smallest of events could bring about a great change. Change could harm his sect, which he wished to avoid, so could keep his promise to the previous patriarch when he was appointed.