Zhao Dongmei’s Heavenly Plum League casually walked into the gathering grounds. Above the crowd floated the nine Hierarchs of the Hidden Cloud Sect. In front of her stood Liu Jin Hai and his Cloud Wave Path. If he wasn’t against her, she’d admit this was a formidable force. However, her entire league were Martial Ancestors. Each possessed frightening special talents and were devoted to die for her. Although his men were loyal, she doubted they would give up their lives for him. Jin Hai spotted her entering. “Chou Hua, you showed up.” Dongmei waved the thought off. Her Heavenly Plums gathering on stage behind her. She could see the anxiety in the faces of the men who stood behind Jin Hai. They themselves did not want to fight. Duan Jian’s Heavenly Wings and Demon Lord’s Demonic Path entered next. They stayed off the stage, but stood behind her group. It was known to the entire Sect that both leagues were part of her force. Lastly, Li Xingyun and Gu Lan entered with their Sky Origin Clan guards. Dongmei bowed. “Meihua Xiannu greets esteemed Hierarchs. Many thanks for allowing her to participate.” The Hierarchs all laughed. Many of them had begged Dongmei to become Sect Mast before she said out loud she had always intended too. Jin Hai glared at her. “Shall we begin.” Dongmei stepped forward. “Young Master Jin Hai, I propose a direct challenge. We shall compete in martial fitness and spiritual fitness. The winner decided from that. Why burden our followers with injuries when we can keep them strong for the sake of our Hidden Cloud Sect.” Xingyun and Xiao Lan looked at each other with understanding. Not only was she providing him with some face like his father wanted, but she destroyed the entire fighting spirit Jin Hai’s forces had managed to sum up. His Cloud Wave Path had already known that the forces they faced would consume them. Jin Hai realizing that he had been backed into a corner. A good leader and brother would defend his followers. He knew that his forces would probably not take down Dongmei’s. However, he had battle plans to overcome that. Now, all of those plans were useless. He knew his four fate Martial Ancestor realm would not be strong enough to compete with her cultivation. However, still she wanted to give him face. This is why he hated flowers. Jin Hai stepped forward nodding. “Agreed, but it seems fair our Right and Left Hands fight as well. They are also our extensions.” Dongmei nodded. Jianjun and Xiaoqing naturally stepping out. Xinyun looked at the man and woman who stepped forward for Jin Hai. They were also Martial Ancestor realms. Jianhui had been told to stay behind and explain things to them. He leaned over to whisper. “Jin Hai’s Right Hand is Song Nianzu. He is a commoner taken in by Jin Hai. His Left Hand is his younger sister Jin Ai.” Xiao Lan looked at him confused. “Why do neither of them look or sound like Chenguang?” Jianhui looked over at the beautiful flame haired girl. He had an interest in her. “Chenguang is illegitimate. Furthermore, her mother died in childbirth. She has received the lowest of the low from her family. For the exception of Sect Master who adores her more then her siblings.” The two turned their attention back to the stage and nodded. Xingyun understanding the feeling. It was natural then that she placed loyalty in Dongmei over her family. The two paid attention to the match. Jianjun had walked up to Song Nianzu. Both were fighting with sticks. Xiaoqing had engaged with Jin Ai. Xiaoqing was different than her opponent. She had chosen to use two small knives. It was clear from the exchanges that both were giving their two opponents face. The skill level very far apart. Jin Hai and Dongmei had agreed to exchange blows with their hands and not with a weapon. The advantage should have been given to Jin Hai; However, Dongmei’s open palm technique served not only as an absolute defense, but as an affective form of offense. Jin Hai couldn’t land a solid hit on her. She evaded him with ease. Her sleeves lingering past his face. When he overcame that, Dongmei simply knocked him off balance and pushed him towards the floor. When he tried to low kick, she was already prepared to jump up. It was a true exhibit of how skilled both were. The match continued in this manner for a few minutes. Then Dongmei turned to look at her Hands. “Jun, Qing.” The two Hands suddenly became more aggressive. Jianjun twirling his staff aroud and hitting Nianzu in the side. The force sent him far off the right. Xiaoqing held her knives backwards, parrying blows and landing a well aimed kick to her opponents side. Liu Jin Ai flying the left. Chenguang screaming in the crowd. When that was done, Dongmei suddenly rushed forward. Unlike her previous techniques, she did not stay passive. When Jin Hai launched himself forward she blocked his arm and kicked her leg up. Jin Hai receiving the kick with his chin. The same leg hooking around his neck and using the momentum of his own weight to throw him to the ground. When Jin Hai unconsciously reached out for her remaining leg she twisted her body around. Dongmei gracefully landing on his back facing the opposite direction. She stretched one of her legs to push down his neck. Her other stayed down, pushing his body towards the ground. When he went to grab her ankles she arched her back and pushed her outstretched arms from the ground. Jin Hai was thrown over her and across the stage. Dongmei catching herself in a handstand and pushing herself back up to a standing position. She waited for Jin Hai to stand. He got up slowly. Jin Hai covering his mouth to hide the blood. Dongmei took a step back. Everyone noticing her change of stance. There was no hint of defense. There were no open palms. She stood balanced and ready. Hands locked like a tigers. Dongmei was intending to strike with force. Jin Hai ran forward. He was shouting. The crowd watched Dongmei stay still. The second before he arrives she kicked off the ground over his head, elbowing him in the back. The stance before was just for show. As he fell forwards her other hand came around and back fisted him in the face. Again he went sliding. Again he stood up. Dongmei sighing. “Jin Hai, your martial prowess is indeed formidable, but you do not have the flexibility to face me yet. Let us move on to the next competition.” Jin Hai’s head had been bent. Now it was facing up and glaring at her. “You think I’m an idiot. Chou Hua! I know I am no match for you in that as well. Martial techniques was the only plane we could fight at a closer level. Do not disrespect my motivation.” The crowd erupted in praise for Jin Hai. Previously, the crowd had assumed Jin Hai was an arrogant noble. Now, they saw him as a determined cultivator. This was a battle for pride. Dongmei looked up at Sect Master Suncloud. He nodded his head to continue. The Hierarch recognized his son’s will to change and grow. How could he stop him from learning the importance of being a true man. Dongmei herself had grown more respect for the arrogant noble. “Liu Jin Hai listen well. I will only say this once. I do not mistreat your motivation. I am very aware of how hard you worked to be capable to lead the Hidden Cloud Sect to glory. Your principles are second to none. Even today, you come here and remind me that you do not fight for your tittle, but for your honor as a cultivator of the Hidden Cloud Sect. That is the reason why I pushed you to come here today. To see that you can be all of that and not hold an unimportant tittle like Sect Master. Liu Jin Hai, if I win this battle will you accept the position of Head.” Jin Hai looked at her in shock. A Head? Dongmei turned to the nine Hierarchs. “Esteemed Hierarchs, I know our Sect only has Right and Left Hands, but as a potential Sect Master I believe a leader must also have other parts. Liu Jin Hai is a stubborn Sect member, but he has always fought for the glory of our Sect. Even in distaste of me, he agreed to help rid the Sect of Demon Sect spies. My respect for him has always been around. May the winner of this match ask the loser to be their Head?” She bowed her head at them. The crowd looking at each other in shock. Everyone was silent. Demon Lord breaking the silence by laughing. “Xiao Hua, how many sworn enemies do you want to become sworn brothers?” The entire crowd cracking up behind him. Jin Hai looked at her even more confused. “Why are you pitying me?” Dongmei walked over to him. She was smiling. When she reached him she stuck out her hand. “Liu Jin Hai, you are not someone to pity. If you were none of your followers would have come up here with you. You are a strong cultivator and someone who understands the Hidden Cloud Sect very well. My wish has always been to work together with you. I believe you are necessary to make our Sect strong.” The members of the Hidden Cloud Sect errupted in cheers. “Meihua Xiannu! Liu Jin Hai! Divine pairing!” Jin Hai looked at the entire crowd. He had never been this well received. Jin Hai turned back to her and laughed. He had completely lost to her on all accounts. “Meihua, it seems you have beaten me on another account.” He steeped forward and shook her hand. The nine Hierarchs’ smiling. Sect Master Suncloud standing up. “As of today the Hidden Cloud Sect will be under the watch of Sect Master Meihua Xiannu. Her most trusted officials shall consist of Huang Jianjun, Wu Xiaoqing and Liu Jin Hai. May the Hidden Cloud Sect soar to new heights!” The entire Sect knelt. “Greets Sect Master Meihua Xiannu.” Dongmei turned around to the crowd and bowed. “Sect Master greets Sect. Wishes to start our growth.” Xingyun and Xiao Lan looked at each other. Everything that happened reminded them so much of how Nie Li became their Sect Master. Zhao Dongmei may be the only person they met who could rival Nie Li on every field. Duan Jian walked onto the stage over to her. He took her hand. Dongmei leaned into him. Demon Lord joined them on the stage. He stood next to her other side. The entire Sect calling their names.
Ten days passed and Xingyun and Xiao Lan had just returned to the Sect. Everyone waiting in the hall to meet them. When they entered the main hall Lu Piao ran over excited. “How was the Hidden Cloud Sect! How was Xiao Mei?” Xingyun and Xiao Lan both shook their heads. After all of the excitement they felt weary. Both taking turns to explain what had happened. Everyone in the room grew shocked. They had no idea that Dongmei had held such power in the group. The entire room turning to face Nie Li. He wore a complicated expression. “Do you two see any ill intent?” Both shook their heads no. “When we arrived every Hidden Cloud Sect member we met was aware they would be losing to us in the upcoming tournament. All extremely faithful to Xiao Mei’s idea of a partnership. Liu Jin Hai even accepted being her sworn brother at the end.” He stood up. “And the reports of how many Martial Ancestors they have?” Xiao Lan shook her head wearily. “Completely true. Xiao Mei serves interesting cultivation teas. Very powerful, but completely different feeling then yours. Both of us increase one rank the eleven days we were there.” The whole room let out a huuuuh noise. Nie Li returning to sit down in his seat. “Xiao Mei is even more complex then we all thought. She will either be our Sect’s greatest ally, or greatest foe. The strength she has is more then the Demon Sect.” Everyone in the room seemed skeptical, until they saw Xingyun and Xiao Lan nod. “Nie Li, the devotion her Sect places in her may even surmount the devotion our Sect has to you. Under her watch all sworn enemies, became sworn brothers and sisters. All large families became close friends and common families grew equal to noble ones. Your sworn brother Duan Jian, although no way friendly towards Demon Lord, can sit at same table and plan to fight others together. Both threatening to harm us if we did anything to Xiao Mei.” Xiao Lan shaking her head in agreement. “It was unnatural. They regarded her as a god. She even possessed two spirits. One a divine spirit from Tiny World and the other was the Celestial Frost Feathered Phoenix Heart.” Gu Bei looked at his sister in confusion. “Although that spirit is powerful, it is not capable to integrate with. It freezes the heart of the cultivator solid.” Xingyun sighed. “Indeed. We all saw her frozen heart. I even faced it in a challenge. Xiao Mei had found a way to integrate with one and live. Her martial prowess even as shocking.” Nie Li looked at Xiao Lan. “And her other spirit?” Xiao Lan sighed. “Twin Divine spirits called Dreameater Sakura Blossom and Dreamseeker Plum Blossom.” Lu Piao fell to the floor in shock. “I have never seen anyone from Glory City posses those twin spirits. Too much pressure on soul force.” Nie Li narrowed his eyes. “How strong is she and her force comparative.” Xingyun looked up at Nie Li very serious. “Her force equal to ours. Maybe even a little stronger in terms of number of Martial Ancestors currently. Did not see much special skills other then advanced martial techniques. However, Xiao Mei may only be challenged by you. ” Everyone looked at him in shock. Xiao Mei was only a one fate Martial Ancestor. Xiao Lan stepped forward. “Something is wrong with Xiao Mei though. Duan Jian always takes her away after a fight. Never does she go all out. I believe she is sick. Possibly knows of impending death.” Nie Li looked at Xiao Lan in shock. Could she possesses a technique that alerts her presence to the Sage Emperor, or could this be what impeded her from becoming strong enough to face him in the first place? Now, he knew why Duan Jian was asking for the right of marriage. “It seems we should carry on with our agreement.” A few around him shaking their heads in agreement. If Xiao Mei was really going to die soon then all of this made much more sense. Nie Li turned to look at Xingyun and Xiao Lan. The two had a very different atmosphere then normal. “Xiao Lan, did Xingyun treat you right in your travels?” Her face turned bright red. Gu Bei freaking out. Lu Piao restraining him as he shouted, “Xingyun! What did you do to my sister. You fiend!” Nie Li and the others cracked up laughing. Li Xingyun and Gu Lan were a very well matched pair. Xingyun smiled at Nie Li. “Nie Li, you would never believe how charming our Xiao Lan is. Never have I seen her as other then crippled cultivator or your sworn ally. On our travels we spend much time together talking. I am afraid to admit she is more beautiful then I imagined.” Lu Piao, Long Yuyin and the rest had smirks on their faces. Gu Bei continuing to rant. Nie Li looked at Xiao Lan. “Xiao Lan, do you feel the same?” Xiao Lan looked at Nie Li nervously. “I do not know.” Gu Bei’s shouting stopped. He looked at them in shock. Nie Li smiled at the two of them. “I believe now is a moment we have a chance to breathe. If their is someone you like you should go for it. When Xiao Lan says she likes Xingyun too it is natural we will all hold a wedding and celebrate the two of them.” Gu Bei turned to Nie Li. “Traitor. My sworn brother is a traitor.” The room laughed. Nie Li winking at a blushing Long Yuyin. Those had been her words he stole. Lu Piao hit Gu Bei’s arm. “Gu Bei, no need to worry. There’s no way I will let those two marry before we do. My Xiao Xue is a long way from that.” Gu Bei smiled at his good brother, but Nie Li just turned around and smiled smugly at them. “But Lu Piao, earlier this week I send Xiao Xue my blessings in your marriage when gate to Tiny World opens again. Tell her that future is short and small moments must be utilized.” Lu Piao’s face turned red. “You said what!?!?!” He stood up smiling. “In fact, her letter came to my room today. Haven’t had the chance to read. Shall we see if Xiao Xue still intends to marry you?” Lu Piao ran at Nie Li. He side stepped and caught Lu Piao in a head lock. Everyone laughing. Even Gu Bei forgot his annoyance at Xingyun. Nie Li turning to the elites that were in the hall. “Divine Feathers Sect beauties, any here willing to marry foolish brother Lu Piao? He has an honest heart.” Everyone of them looked to the floor. Lu Piao giving up his struggle. “Nie Li! Why you damage your brother’s reputation.” Nie Li let him go. “Idiot. I did no such thing.” Yuyin laughing. “You did it on your own.” A few of them taking the chance to enjoy her laugh. It was so rare of her. Nie Li snapped his fingers and the doors opened to a large dinning table. Tonight, they would all feast and calm their hearts.
The doors to the Heavenly Note Sect opened. A small party of people entered the doors and bowed in greetings to the Sect Master. The Sect Master was newly appointed. She nervously told them all too stand and introduce themselves. A girl besides her looking with interest at one of the men in the small party. A young woman stepped forward. “I am called Zhao Dongmei. Now, named Sect Master Meihua Xiannu of the Hidden Cloud Sect.” Everyone in the hall looked at each other in shock. The new Sect Master was visiting them. The new Sect Master was the Tiny World cultivator of the Heavenly Plum League. The power of Tiny World cultivators was too strong. Every Sect seemed to have an outstanding genius. Even theirs was now led by Tiny World cultivators. The girl besides the Heavenly Note Sect Master narrowed her eyes. “We know who you are.” Dongmei chuckled into her sleeve. “My apologies, Xiao Ning’er, Sect Master Ziyun. I am friends with your brother Duan Jian and have met your brother Nie Li.” One of the Heavenly Note Sect members turned to look at Ning’er. Nie Li was the person she met when she visited the Divine Feathers Sect. He was extremely capable. More so if he had ties to the Heavenly Plum League of the Hidden Cloud Sect. Ziyun straightened herself in the large throne. “Sect Master Meihua, why have you come to our Heavenly Note Sect?” Dongmei looked at everyone in the crowd before answering. “Because you know that all other Sects will lose the tournament to the Divine Feathers Sect.” The crowd started to whisper to each other. Was this true? Ning’er stepped forward. “Do you intend to get our help to destroy their sect!” Dongmei shook her head no. Everyone confused on what she was here for. “I believe us losing to the Divine Feathers Sect is a good thing in terms of future stability. All human Sects know that a group of sworn brothers and sisters from Tiny World have come to the Draconic Ruins Realm as unmatched geniuses within their respective Sects. Nie Li is the suspected teacher of all of you. For the first time in our history, I believe we have a chance to stand united against bigger more threatening enemies.” Ziyun stood up. Every Heavenly Note Sect member shrinking back except for Ning’er. “What do you intend for our Heavenly Note Sect to do.” Dongmei smiled. “Sect Master Ziyun, please put away your suspicions. I come here not to take control, but to discuss strategy. You must prepare your Sect to lose and have no resentment. Humans are facing a much larger enemy. We must stand united. My entire Sect is prepared to fight for as much glory as they can within the tournament. Yet, they are also prepared to lose to the Divine Feathers Sect. There the Divine Feathers Sect New Sect Master will make an announcement about a common enemy we have. If everyone resolves major disputes before we can move on smoothly.” Ziyun and Ning’er looked at each other. Nie Li had always talked about a larger enemy. Could she know what it was? Duan Jian walked forward and knelt in front of Ziyun and Ning’er. “Sect Master Ziyun is faithful wife of my master. Ning’er is faithful love of my master. Trust in what master has started.” The two girls looked down at Duan Jian in shock. He did not talk this much. He was normally serious by Nie Li’s side. Dongmei put her hand on his shoulder and he stood up. They observed how his expression softened around her. Duan Jian was in love! He had captured the heart of the strongest cultivator in the Hidden Cloud Sect. Ziyun looked past them at the small group of Hidden Cloud Sect masters that came with them. All talented and well known. The sight of Liu Jin Hai shocking her. The animosity between the two Sect members were very well known. “I am indeed Divine Feathers Sect Master Nie Li’s wife. However, only people in this room and a few in the Divine Feathers Sect know of this. Why come here and try to expose a secret that could be misunderstood.” Dongmei bowed her head. “My apologies. Did not mean to try and make the situation hazy. I only want to arrange everything in order before tournament. I believe Sect Master Nie Li is best person to lead our Sects through this next large battle. A commander needs generals that are well organized and skilled. All five Sects have been is disarray. All Nie Li’s friends create small powerful groups that enact positive change. Only wish to make sure I can help.” Ziyun looked down at Ning’er. She turned to look at Duan Jian. “Duan Jian, you would never allow anything to happen to your master, correct?” He nodded his head yes immediately. Ning’er turned to the elites of the Heavenly Note Sect. Most had been hers or Ziyun’s forces. “Sect members, what are your thoughts?” One Sect member came forward. “When Divine Feathers Sect closed their doors many Sects looked down on them. Gemini Twin Masters explain to us that it will be incorrect thinking. Then they started to purchase a large amount of goods. Afterwards, rumors of the Tiny World party started to surface in every Sect. All top elites knew you were connected. Yet, no one can prove how. I believe the apprehension we had about you destroying each Sect has turned into you being here to help. Many of us believed that we would not win the upcoming tournament, but that you encouraged us to help push our cultivation.” Ziyun smiled at the girl. “Chunhua, you speak better then when we first met.” The girl’s face blushed. Another girl, named Biyu, stepped out and faced Ning’er. “Ning’er, we agree with that line of thinking as well. You have consistently warned us that if we do not change all of our Sects will collapse. I can understand why Hidden Cloud Sect Master Meihua Xiannu wants to ensure everyone is in agreement before we act. It is not just her life on the line, but all of ours.” Dongmei turned look at Jianjun. He stepped forward with a tray of drinks. A few Heavenly Plum League members following. “This is the Hidden Cloud Sect’s Plum Tea. It is an aid in cultivation. In addition tastes good. Try some. We will leave many behind so you can all increase your cultivation. Further, our Sect excels in Martial techniques. Any one who wishes to learn and grow may travel between the two Sects. However, until the tournament is over we request they be dressed as outsiders or merchants.” Jianjun handed a drink to Ziyun. Xiaoqing handed a drink to Ning’er. Both took a drink. Their eyes lit up with shock. This was powerful medicinal tea. Similar in strength to Nie Li’s, but completely different feeling. They turned to see trunks being brought forward. Thousands of teabags being left at their feet. If anyone tried to attain this outside the Hidden Cloud Sect before they would risk the threat of death. Now, Dongmei simply left it at their feet. All those in the room had tried a glass of chilled Plum Tea looked at their Sect Master in shock. Who would give a gift like this to another Sect. Dongmei gestured to Jianjun and Xiaoqing. “Sect Master Ziyun, Huang Jianjun is my Right Hand and Wu Xiaoqing is my Left Hand. I request both be allowed to stay in the Heavenly Note Sect for ten days instructing those who are willing in Martial Techniques. Both excel.” All the elites turned to their Sect Master in greater shock. What was happening! Ziyun shook her head. “Sect Master Ziyun understands how important a Right Hand and Left Hand are in the Hidden Cloud Sect. All stay four days. We can learn from each other and plan our next course of action.” Jianjun and Xiaoqing bowed gratefully at Ziyun. “Many Thanks, Sect Master Ziyun.” Dongmei smiled. “Wonderful. We, the Hidden Cloud Sect, naturally agree. Some of the Sect members return to inform our Sect of course of action. Rest stay here in the company of beautiful Sect Master Ziyun and beautiful Gemini Ning’er.” Ziyun’s face turned a pale red. She had been defeated by Dongmei. Ning’er on the other hand was much more skeptical of her. Ziyun nodded her head. Half of the Hidden Cloud Sect members bowing and departing the room. Duan Jian took Dongmei’s hand. “Many thanks Sect Master Ziyun and Gemini Ning’er.” The two girls exchanged another glance. The two of them seemed like an odd pairing. Ning’er decided to test Dongmei herself. “Biyu, let us see how strong the Hidden Cloud New Sect Master is.” Biyu nodded and stepped out. Duan Jian’s grip on Dongmei’s hand grew tighter, but she pulled her hand free. “If it pleases Sect Master Ziyun I gratefully accept chance to show strength of Hidden Cloud Sect.” Jianjun stepped forward and took the coat she had been wearing. Duan Jian stepping back reluctantly. Biyu merged with her integrated spirit, Divine Jade Blizzard Scorpion. Dongmei looked at Ning’er. She must of gotten this spirit from Nie Li for her. It was too rare at this level. Dongmei bowed towards Biyu before integrating with her spirit. The entire room, outside of her Hidden Cloud Sect, gasped. They had never seen anyone integrated with the Celestial Frost Feathered Phoenix Heart. Biyu narrowed her eyes. “Your spirit is worthy of a Sect Master.” Dongmei smiled at the girl. “Yours is well nurtured as well. Shall we begin?” Biyu rushed forward. Dongmei intent on having the girl save face did not grab her heart. She matched the girl blow for blow, avoiding the strong scorpion tail. She could feel Duan Jian’s worried eyes on her. She could not have Biyu save that much face. When the girl’s tail zoomed past her she ran arm next to it to grab Biyu’s arm. She pulled the girl forward and jumped over her. When she landed, Dongmei back kicked her and sent the girl flying forward. When Biyu’s tail wrapped around her arm to pull her with her, Dongmei used it as a rope to pull her up into a strong kick. The girl was sent flying back. Duan Jian returning to her side. Jianjun putting the coat she had worn back on her. Dongmei bowing to Ziyun. “Many thanks, Sect Master Ziyun. I saw how strong the cultivators you have nurtured. Biyu is an amazingly talented genius. If I had not had my level of martial technique I would have probably lost.” Biyu sat up. That wasn’t entirely true. No matter what Biyu would have lost. The Celestial Frost Feathered Phoenix Heart had too many frightening abilities. It was capable of matching those many levels higher then the cultivator. Duan Jian bowed. “Sect Master Ziyun, may we be taken to our quarters now. I wish to have our Sect members rest before we begin serious talks and martial instructions.” Ziyun nodded her head and the Hidden Cloud Sect members were escorted out of the room. Ning’er turning to Ziyun. “Nie Li may have gotten the correct information.” Ziyun nodded. She turned to Chunhua. “Chunhua, watch them from the side.” The girl nodded. She was one of the Sect Master’s closest allies. Similar to Biyu and Ning’er. She would not disappoint her. After all, she was the reason Chunhua had gotten this far. Ye Ziyun had been her sponsor.