Chapter 6 - The Bird that Stands Out Gets Shot First

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The title means that the bird that stands out gets shot first.

This Chinese phrase is similar to “the nail that sticks out gets hammered first”, but this also means someone who goes first or starts something first will often meet with failure.


The second problem people had in reaching the Foundation Establishment stage was the problem of aptitude, because this was something you had to be born with. To illustrate, a good Spiritual Root was like an engine, while a technique to activate it was like its fuel. You could have really high-quality fuel, but if your engine isn’t very good, your car can only go so far.

Later on, some people eventually thought of using something external to increase the efficiency of the engine, which was the Foundation Establishment Pill. After consuming the pill, the engine would run at a speed above its normal limits for a period of time and help the car to go even further.

As for any talk about sheer willpower, Gu Suihan could confidently state that among cultivators, there were some who were afraid to die and some who were timid, but most of them weren’t going to be the type to pull out at the last minute or hesitate for too long. Why? The answer was simple. Cultivation was like a single wooden log bridge over water. A bottomless abyss was below it and you could only move forward. There was no chance for you to back out or even hesitate for too long. And even if you didn’t want to move along, someone would start pushing you from behind until you died.

“Is it very hard to reach the Foundation Establishment stage?” Gu Suihan finally had to ask.

“Is it hard?” Li Rong made a face, then replied, “Actually, it’s not very hard if you are someone like us, gifted, with someone powerful to fall back on, and not lacking in resources. But, for those who have average aptitudes and below, it’s very hard.”

As he spoke, he patted Gu Suihan’s shoulder and said, “We’re here.”

Gu Suihan looked up and saw that the city center, which was usually bustling with activity, was now under very strict control. There were at least a few hundred soldiers on guard in the area. And from what he could see, there were a lot of people, but they were more or less divided into four camps. Why four? Because the three biggest sects took one area each, and the fourth area was for the smaller four.

This was enough for one to see that even though there were supposedly seven major sects, the smaller four had squeezed themselves into the ranking and should not have been there.

But just as Li Rong was about to pull Gu Suihan excitedly towards Seven Kill Sect’s camp, Gu Suihan tapped his shoulder gently and whispered, “I’m not part of Seven Kill Sect right now. There are many people from the other sects watching, so it’s against the rules to go over like that.”

Li Rong looked like he had just been enlightened and slapped his forehead as he said with a smile, “I totally forgot about that! Go wait over there then, I’ll go back first.” Then Li Rong ran towards Seven Kill Sect without even turning back, and he seemed to look a little sad.

Gu Suihan looked towards Li Rong’s back and a mocking smile faintly crossed his lips before fading almost immediately after that. If he had allowed Li Rong to drag him to Seven Kill Sect’s area, he would be labelled as a someone with connections to the sect. If he eventually ended up in Seven Kill Sect, there would be no repercussions. But if he ended up elsewhere, he wouldn’t be welcome.

In the real world, nobody was stupid. Everyone was clever in their own way. There was no such thing as becoming instant friends or being as close as brothers. That was ridiculous. Even ordinary folk didn’t behave like this, what more of cultivators, who could be killed at any moment along their cultivation journey?

Gu Suihan sat down at the area meant for those who had passed the first two stages with an aloof expression on his face. The whole area was empty except for him. Not everyone was as lucky as him to have gone through the back door after all.

Since he had nothing to do, he closed his eyes and started sensing his own body condition. He had already firmed up his physical body to its maximum, so he had spent most of his time over the past few years trying to repair his extremely damaged soul. Unfortunately, its foundation had been damaged and while the damage wasn’t permanent, it was going to take a few hundred years to get it back to where it was. That is unless he got his hands on a ton of Spiritual elixirs, pills and herbs to carefully recalibrate everything again, and either way it was going to be very hard to do this.

Perhaps…he ought to do something crazy, like rob a bank or kidnap a rich man’s kid.

Gu Suihan was a little hesitant. He wasn’t the type who was good at creating wealth, because he had no patience for accumulating a little at a time. Besides, it was quite risky too.

I’ll look out for a chance then, he thought to himself as he glanced about at the people from the major sects around him discreetly.

As time slowly went by, the number of people in the area he was in began to fill up, but everyone was fairly quiet. Then again, so many people from the major sects were observing their every move, so it made sense that the ones who passed had to watch what sort of impression they gave.

Only Gu Suihan went about eating and drinking and doing absolutely whatever he liked to entertain himself without worrying.

There were nearly a thousand people within the area now and even though they were all speaking in low voices, the accumulation of their voices eventually made the place become more and more noisy. Their voices eventually started sounding like the buzzing of mosquitoes.

At that moment, an old man stood up and coughed twice quietly. His gaze slowly swept across the entire area. His coughing wasn’t loud, but it sounded like he was coughing right next to everyone’s ears. His authoritative gaze was so pressuring that everyone in the area instantly fell silent.

The old man nodded slowly, then smiled faintly and said, “Firstly, congratulations on making it through the first two rounds. Regardless of what happens in the third round, all of you will at least qualify as Outer Disciples.”

Immediately after he said that the entire area went into an uproar. It was hard for young people to hold their excitement in, and their first reaction was to talk excitedly to the people around them after hearing such words.

“Silence!” yelled the old man with a frown. His voice boomed like thunder, causing the poor young ones who had yet to start their cultivation journey feel giddy and weak in the knees.

“Right now, you still have the chance to back out. The third round will test your heart for the Way, and it is difficult for ordinary folk. If you’re not careful, you might lose your lives. Even though passing this round would be extremely beneficial to yourselves, you have to be very cautious, or you might find yourself in Huangquan.”1(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diyu#Alternative_names)
Or, one of the 22 ways the Chinese refer to Hell, or the world where souls go after they die before they are reincarnated.]

A fairly intelligent looking young man instantly widened his eyes and declared loudly, “We’re all on a journey to cultivate the Way and we’re going against the will of heaven in the first place. There’s only going forward and no going backwards – we wouldn’t back out now!”

Before he could continue, another young man with a pretty face and a brocade robe snorted and threw the first man a mocking glance. He said flatly, “What ignorance. One needs to decide when to move forward and when to move backward rationally on the journey of cultivation. Not being rash or impatient is the way to go.”

Their argument made everyone start to worry about things they didn’t worry about earlier. They were just ordinary folks after all, so they didn’t really know anything about cultivation, and even those with some influence only knew a little more than the others. The arguments on both sides sounded reasonable, which made the entire area start to hesitate on whether to continue this journey or not.

“Cultivating the Truth, cultivating the Way. What you’re cultivating is yourself and the rules. These are all your own choices. There’s no such thing as ‘only forward and no going back’ or ‘one needs to decide rationally on whether to move forward or backward’.” Gu Suihan got up and looked calmly at the two young men whose faces and ears were already red from arguing.

Gu Suihan turned and asked the old man, “Sir, please tell us how this round works.”

The old man looked up at Gu Suihan and smiled. “It’s simple. Go in from the entrance behind me and walk all the way to the end and you’re done.”

“The entrance behind you?” Gu Suihan looked at the translucent whirlpool illusion behind the old man and mumbled to himself, “It’s just a manmade secret realm. Why the need to make it sound so mysterious?”

He hadn’t activated his Spiritual Root yet, so he couldn’t sense any Qi. The only thing behind the old man earlier was a wall but now, it was an entrance to a secret area.

Gu Suihan immediately realized that the old man must have used some illusion spell to make everyone think there was a wall, but had now removed the spell. Clearly, this old man had purposely created such an impressive looking illusion in order to show how mighty a cultivator was.

The old man was still smiling as he said emotionlessly, “All of you have the right to choose whether you want to go ahead or not. It is your own choice.” After saying that, he flew back to his own seat and closed his eyes to rest.

Gu Suihan stared at the entrance, gripped his long sword tightly, then started walking towards it slowly.

When he was still about a couple of meters2 away from the entrance, someone ran past Gu Suihan and dashed into the entrance, as if he were afraid that if he wasn’t the first one in, he would lose out on some benefits.

But just a moment later, that same person screamed in agony and came flying out of the entrance again, nearly knocking into Gu Suihan in the process.

Pfft! Immediately after he flew out, he landed on his face, sprayed a mouthful of blood out and promptly fainted.

Everyone finally recovered from their initial shock and looked more carefully at the person who was now lying unconscious on the ground. His previously undamaged clothing was now covered with slits and the skin they could see through the slits were covered with bruises.

Gu Suihan was just next to him, so he could also see the man’s horrified expression. There were bruises on his face as well and his face looked slightly distorted too.

“Tsk.” Gu Suihan made a face but didn’t look like he was going to help at all. And because this fellow’s body was in his way, he kicked his body aside and didn’t even give the poor fellow a second glance.

At the same time, he scanned the cultivators among the spectators very quickly from the corner of his eye. He realized that most of them either looked unaffected or looked like they had expected this. A few of them were frowning or had their eyes closed, but he knew that these weren’t expressions of pity. These were a display of disgust and disdain.

“Looks like it takes a skill or two to get through this secret realm,” he mumbled as he took a step into the entrance as if nothing had happened at all just now.

“I see,” said Gu Suihan to himself as he looked at the completely different world before him.

The secret realm he had walked into was not some fancy fairyland or desert oasis sort of place, like some might imagine. This place was spacious but sinister and had no signs of life at all. Any plants and animals that might have once existed were nothing but piles of bones and dried leaves.

There was a narrow path ahead where he couldn’t see the end of, and a chilly breeze blew from time to time, rattling the bones and making eerie noises that made one’s hair stand on end.

“Gosh, this all looks pretty real.” Gu Suihan wasn’t the least fearful and even looked around freely, moving the bones on the ground aside as he liked.

“Oh look, there’s really a plaque here.” After exploring the area near the entrance for a long time, he discovered the bottom half of a plaque hidden under a small pile of stones.

He could tell that there were some ancient words written on it with odd accents on them. Unfortunately, the upper half of the plaque had been shattered to smithereens by an unknown power.


The Clacker’s Shaman Store

Today’s snack recommendation: Umaibō Corn flavored deep fried thing that’s all flavoring, MSG, oil and air. Also very cheap. MSG: ****

  1. Huangquan<br/>[Diyu Alternative Names ↩️

  2. A few meters.<br/>In the original text, it uses the word 丈 (zhang4) which is an ancient unit of measurement that has changed over the years. When it was first introduced in the Shang dynasty, it represented about 169.5cm, and since it was the average male’s height, a husband came to be called 丈夫, or literally “one zhang man”.<br/>But I find it hilarious because this unit of measurement got longer and longer as time went by, and the current standard is about 303 cm (Taiwan) and 333 cm (China). Good luck finding a husband. ↩️

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