“So, which one are you from?” Gu Suihan suddenly asked Li Rong.
“Me?” Li Rong was a little taken aback by this question. He scoffed and said, “Why should I be part of any of them?”
Gu Suihan suddenly stopped in his footsteps, looked straight into Li Rong’s eyes and said calmly, “To choose a side.”
“Hoho,” Li Rong laughed like he didn’t mind going either way. “Sometimes, it’s good not to take sides.” He said this with a shocking amount of confidence.
Gu Suihan stared hard at him, then continued walking. “Do you think I need to choose a side?”
“I don’t know,” Li Rong replied without hesitation.
“Hoho,” Gu Suihan responded with a faint laugh and didn’t ask any more questions. He looked in front and said, “I think we’re here.”
After everyone had walked down a long and narrow path, the path took a sudden turn and opened up to a much larger area. The first thing they saw was a colossal stage made from black metal. There were a lot of dents and craters on the surface, and one could even see some drops of dried blood.
The stage put an invisible pressure on everyone. If one used Spiritual Sense to check the stage, they would realize that a faint black mist was swirling around the sides of the stage, and one could even vaguely make out shrieks of despair and pitiful cries.
Gulp! Everyone couldn’t help but gulp as they stared at the metal stage and the people on it fearfully.
The stage had been split into four sections and a group of people each took up a section. A clear line was drawn between each section and the situation was so tense, it felt like the people on stage might fight each other if they were even just slightly provoked.
There’s something off about this metal stage. Gu Suihan had a grim look in his eyes. Anybody who stays here for too long will definitely fall severely ill. If your health is already weak, it wouldn’t be strange if you ended up dying right here.
Gu Suihan’s soul had been badly damaged, so in order to avoid unnecessary trouble, he had hidden 99% of his soul inside his consciousness so that it could recuperate in peace. This made him seem like an ordinary person with a slightly more powerful soul, and there were some things that he couldn’t see even though it would be very obvious to a cultivator, so he could only guess based on his experience.
“I’ll go over there first, you take care of yourself,” whispered Li Rong. It was hard to tell what he was thinking about.
“Since everyone is here, then…Lord Fang and Senior Brother Wang, both of you should talk about what’s going on today,” a light and pleasant voice tinged with some ennui and charm rang in everyone’s ears.
Gu Suihan’s gaze flickered as he looked for where the voice had come from. A small and simple pavilion had been erected on the left side of the metal stage with thin see-through curtains hanging from all four sides. Through the sheer muslin, he could see a blurry figure in a semi-reclining position on a wide chair made from white jade. The corners of the curtains flew up a little when the breeze blew past and seemed to tempt one to keep looking.
Is that the Miss the young lady earlier was referring to? As Gu Suihan thought about this question, his eyes casually caught sight of a familiar figure next to the pavilion. It was the young lady who had gotten into an argument with that young man named Qingyuan earlier.
“We’ve changed the rules this time. Surely you know about that, right?” A young man in fitting robes laughed heartily as he leaned against a large sword. “The Sect Leader has given instructions, so the rest of us have to listen to what our elders have instructed us to do. I hope you can understand, Miss Mo.”
“Lord Fang is right. We didn’t have a choice at all,” said an elegant man on the other side as he smiled brightly.
“Humph!” Miss Mo frowned slightly as a frosty look shone in her watery eyes. “We’ll compete based on our abilities then.”
“Alright now, since you’re done discussing, let’s take a look at the evaluation book first, then proceed with what we need to do.” An elder sat in the fourth area, which was where Li Rong was. The elder narrowed his eyes, coughed quietly, then said, “According to the rules of the sect, new disciples will be allocated to one of the four Compounds based on how far along you are.”
“The four Compounds are split into North, South, East, and West. The East Compound will be for those with high levels of aptitude and have reached the Perfect Physical Realm. The West Compound will be for those with high levels of aptitude but have not reached Perfect Physical Realm. The South Compound will be for those with mid-levels of aptitude and the North Compound for those with low levels.”
After he finished speaking, he wrapped the table lightly with his knuckles, closed his eyes and said no more.
Li Rong took his cue from there. He took a step forward and said in a loud voice, “Hurry up and stand according to the four categories as described. Make sure you stand in the correct area. If anybody is found to be pretending to be what you’re not, we will break your Spiritual Root so that you can never cultivate again, and you will remain here as a servant.”
There were indeed some disciples who had thought of pretending to be at a higher level than they really were in order to gain access to better resources, but once they heard what Li Rong said, they shuddered and threw that thought out before quietly moving to stand where they ought to.
After 15 minutes, nearly a thousand of them finally got themselves in place. While getting into place, heckling, pushing, mocking and nasty words were exchanged.
Gu Suihan obviously stood in the area for the East Compound. He looked around him and realized that there were barely a hundred people in his area. On the contrary, at least four or five hundred stood in the North Compound area.
Shortly after everyone took their places, the young man named Lord Fang lightly picked up his huge sword and set it down on the floor again.
BAAANG! A deafening boom resounded in everyone’s ears and made everyone fall silent immediately. A few moments later, the echo from that boom finally faded. Lord Fang chuckled and looked at where Miss Mo and Senior Brother Wang were before saying with a smile, “I’m sure you’ve finished looking through the evaluation book. What do you two think?”
“Hoho,” Senior Brother Wang chuckled. “Junior Brother, this is something we ought to take more time to settle. I just did a count. We’ve taken in 972 disciples this time. Nine of them have a level Seven gift, four of them have a level Eight gift, two of them had a special type of Spiritual Root. That makes 15 of them. How about five each for the three of us?”
“Psh,” a scoff came from behind the sheer curtains of the pavilion. “Senior Brother, what amazing math skills you have. And exactly which five are we talking about?”
Senior Brother Wang’s expression stiffened but he said in a nonchalant voice, “The Way Seekers Alliance has the greatest number of women, so your group is more well versed in the cultivation methods suitable for women. There are three girls at level Seven, so it’s best that they all join your Alliance.”
“Haha, I agree with Senior Brother!” said Lord Fang with a hearty laugh. “According to the evaluation book, there are two among the level Eights who are very strong and the moves they used during the test were filled with big movements, so I think they’re most suitable for the Nobles Clan. What do the rest think?”
Miss Mo glared hard at Senior Brother Wang from behind the curtains and said in a mocking voice, “Humph. You make it sound like it’s already cast in stone. I’ve got the most ladies, so if these young men here are looking for a partner, I can introduce someone to them. Does that mean all of them should join my Alliance?”
The elder who had had his eyes closed all this time suddenly coughed, perhaps because the three leaders were going too far in their arguments or perhaps because waiting for them to settle this was just taking too long.
When everyone had fallen silent, the elder sat up and said calmly, “There is no point in talking so much. It depends on where the disciples wish to go. Tell you what. Each of you shall make an offer or use some other method to persuade these children. Even if you manage to persuade all of them to join you, nobody will be able to complain about that. Quarreling like this in broad daylight is so unbecoming. What’s happened to the authoritativeness and prestige of being a disciple of the Seven Kill Sect?”
“Yes, Elder.” All three of them instinctively glared at one another and responded with a bow while sighing inwardly.
If it were some other elder, they could have completely ignored his opinion, but they couldn’t ignore this one. This elder was the one who was in charge of the library, which also meant that he held great power in the sect. Nobody knew why the Sect Leader had put him in charge of the new disciple selection this time around.
Dangg! Lord Fang tapped a finger on his huge sword to catch everyone’s attention, then said with a smile, “Greetings, junior brothers and sisters! If you join the Nobles Clan, level Sevens get five Spiritual Stones a month, level Eights get 15 Stones a month. I also have connections to the disciplinarians of this sect, so I can provide some benefit in that area as well. You could even get a discount on the number of contributions you need to make in exchange for cultivation techniques.”
After he finished his speech, he smiled and walked back to where the rest of his group was standing.
“The Four Directions Court will give six Stones to level Sevens and 16 Stones to level Eights. The rest is about the same as what Lord Fang offered. But we also have a secret realm that can save everyone some cultivating time and resources.” Senior Brother Wang beamed from ear to ear as he looked at the slightly annoyed looking Lord Fang. This secret realm was the Four Directions Court’s trump card and was also a big reason why the Four Directions Court had become so powerful.
“How petty.” A chuckle came from behind the sheer curtains. Suddenly, the pavilion disappeared, and everyone could see a woman wearing a chiffon cape semi-reclining on a wide chair as the long train of her dress reached the floor. Her sleeves had been rolled back to reveal two fair and smooth arms. The breeze blew at the corners of her skirt from time to time, making her cheeky feet play peek-a-boo shyly.
Her long hair was tied into a high ponytail with some stray strands in front tucked simply behind her ear, giving her an air of lazy elegance. A sly and intelligent glint flashed in her watery eyes now and then. Her lips parted slightly as she said, “Greetings, my new junior brothers and sisters. My offer is simple. The Way Seekers Alliance will give you twice the number of Spiritual Stones the other two have offered. You will get to use the Cultivation Room within the sect one additional time per month. On top of that, I can introduce you to someone nice too.”
After she finished saying that, both Senior Brother Wang and Lord Fang couldn’t help but exchange a sad smile. Never in their lives would they have imagined that Miss Mo would use her beauty and feminine charm to get new disciples to join her team. Neither of them was able to do such a thing, after all.
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