Chapter 355 – Entering the Sect
The youth who spoke was named Zhan Yunjian, and he was a disciple from Storm Valley. He was 19 years old, and his cultivation had just reached the top of the early Houtian realm, just a step away from reaching the middle Houtian realm.
This youth and Yan Fuhong were old acquaintances. After they had ‘accidently met’, Yan Fuhong had struck up a conversation, and during it, he had mentioned Mu Qianyu’s high evaluation of Lin Ming. He wanted to stir up Zhan Yunjian’s arrogance, and have him ruin Lin Ming’s prestige at the birthday banquet.
To teach Lin Ming a lesson was a matter that was only suited to outer court disciples. The so-called competitions that happened at the banquet would be an extremely casual affair. Whoever wanted to compete with whoever would only have to call a name or jump up onstage to declare a duel. Sometimes they might not even compare just martial arts fighting skills. They might compare fire skills, secret techniques, martial skills, Concept comprehensions, and so forth.
In short, there were many ways to show off one’s skills. And these competitions usually had an unspoken rule that disciples of the same sect couldn’t challenge each other. Since Yan Fuhong and Lin Ming were from the same sect, it was naturally an inappropriate affair.
As Zhan Yunjian heard Yan Fuhong speak of Lin Ming, someone who was highly thought of by the Saint rank talent Mu Qianyu, he began to pay attention to Lin Ming’s cultivation.
“Mm? He’s only at the late Pulse Condensation period; it’s hard to believe that someone of that cultivation is thought of so highly by Fairy Maiden Mu. How old is he?”
“16 years old.”
“Really now? A 16 year old with a late Pulse Condensation cultivation is about satisfactory. If his strength is also outstanding, then he deserves to be thought of highly by Fairy Maiden Mu.” Zhang Yunjian casually evaluated Lin Ming with a few words then began to walk away.
Yan Fuhong anxiously said, “Brother Yun, aren’t you interested in him?”
“Interested?” Zhan Yunjian’s footsteps paused, and he faintly smiled at Yan Fuhong, his hand still peeling pine nuts. “It looks like you have some problems with this Lin Ming kid. I am interested, but I also don’t have the qualifications to move against him. He’s three years younger than me, and his cultivation is also lower by a great deal. How could I possibly compare anything with him like this? If he were three years older, then I might be interested in having a little match with him.”
Zhan Yunjian was a character who was ranked among the top disciples of Storm Valley, and was equal to the Sunfire Sect’s Sunfire Princess, or the Thundercrest Sect’s Thunderclap. He was someone who liked to challenge those at higher levels, especially those that were older or had a higher cultivation. But, Lin Ming was only a young little 16 year old boy, and his cultivation was also only at the late Pulse Condensation period. At the banquet, he would almost be the same as a little child. If Zhan Yunjian challenged Lin Ming, even if he didn’t fight Lin Ming, he would be laughed to death by others.
If he really fought with Lin Ming, it would still be a useless endeavor. There was no glory in winning, nor would it be fantastic. Zhan Yunjian didn’t want to participate in such a thankless and unflattering event.
Yan Fuhong wasn’t willing to let this go. He tried to urge further and said, “Brother Yun shouldn’t look down on him. Even though his cultivation isn’t high, he’s quite strong, otherwise there’s no way he would have entered the discerning eye of the Saintess. He’s only 16 this year, and he defeated many aspiring heroes and elites to win first place at the Seven Profound Valleys’ Total Faction Martial Meeting…”
“Seven Profound Valleys? Is that a third-grade sect in your Divine Phoenix Province? Haha, Brother Fuhong, there’s no need to even mention this matter. A third-grade sect’s Total Faction Martial Meeting champion simply doesn’t count for anything. When I was 15 years old I challenged the chief disciple of a third-grade sect under Storm Valley and defeated him in less than 10 moves.”
Zhan Yunjian casually said this, obviously not placing much importance on this memory. He saw Yan Fuhong’s hesitant appearance and said, “Well, Brother Fuhong, it seems that you are also forced. It seems this little fellow will be divvying up a great part of your resources. So be it then. I’ll ask a few of my younger junior-apprentice brothers to go up and frustrate him a bit. What is he best at?”
The banquet matches were not for the purpose of defeating one’s opponent, but for showing off one’s skills. Zhan Yunjian asked what Lin Ming was most skilled at because he wanted to suppress him in whatever he excelled at. This would be the most rewarding method of punishing Lin Ming.
Yan Fuhong was instantly happy. He said, “That boy is best at controlling thunder!”
“Controlling thunder? That’s the domain of the Thundercrest Sect. I just happen to know a young junior-apprentice sister from the Thundercrest Sect who is around 17 years old. For her to compare a bit with him sounds about right.”
“17 years old?” Yan Fuhong frowned. Although he didn’t think that Lin Ming was too strong, he didn’t doubt Lin Ming’s talent. How could his talent be poor if he was someone that Mu Qianyu valued? “She’s young. Do you have confidence she’ll win?”
“Haha, don’t underestimate her. In another one or two years, she’ll be able to enter the second rank.”
In the absence of a monstrous talent like a Saint rank character, the second rank would be the top; there weren’t too many of these talents in a sect. This let Yan Fuhong feel at ease. This young girl was also a year older than Lin Ming.
“Many thanks Brother Yun. Today’s my treat. Let’s go to Over Mountain Hall!”
“Over Mountain Hall? That’s a good place! I heard that it takes a medium-grade true essence stone to eat there, and a meal there is the same as a common martial artist’s hard earned cultivation for a whole year; how could I miss this opportunity, haha!”
The Parasol Tree Pavilion had a total of 360 buildings, and most of these buildings were empty. The Vermillion Bird Faction only had a mere 20 core disciples, so most of the buildings were empty spares used for other events. For instance, for the exalted Tianguang Revered Master’s 400th birthday banquet, the young heroes and elites would be staying at the Parasol Tree Pavilion.
Lin Ming lived in the 22nd building. The one who lived across from him was the red-robed youth who had led him through the mountain gate, Senior-apprentice Brother Zhang. These days, Lin Ming had become much more familiar with him, and even knew his name – Zhang Zhen.
The small building he was supplied had its own courtyard. For cultivation, Lin Ming would practice in the early morning when the eastern sun first rose, and the courtyard would fill with heaven and earth origin energy. The origin energy of Divine Phoenix Island was much richer than the Seven Profound Valleys’, and cultivating here was like soaking in a sea of heaven and earth origin energy; it was an incomparably pleasant and luxurious feeling.
Parasol Tree Pavilion had been very noise and bustling with activity these days. There had been too many disciples that had come in, and many of them had unique skills and were itching to do something. Unable to wait for the banquet to start, they had already gone to the open areas of the parasol tree forest to compete with each other in a test of skills. When these individuals began to compare skills, it would often attract a great deal of onlookers.
Lin Ming stayed in his small building for three days, and nobody bothered paying attention to him. The people of Divine Phoenix Island were extremely busy preparing for the smelting trials of the Divine Phoenix Mystic Realm, and also the birthday banquet of Tianguang Revered Master.
In the afternoon of the fourth day, a young maid spoke at Lin Ming’s door. “Sir Lin, Her Highness the Saintess requests your presence at the Back Palace.”
The maids of Divine Phoenix Island were similar to the janitor disciples of the Seven Profound Valleys. If they served the Saintess or other elders, their rank might become a little higher. Although this young maid was around Lin Ming’s age, she had a Bone Forging stage cultivation.
“Then I’ll have to bother Miss to guide me there.” Lin Ming respectfully said.
The little maid shyly giggled and led Lin Ming to the Back Palace of the Parasol Tree Pavilion. This was not the mountain gate or the palace entrance, so one could fly here.
The peaks of Divine Phoenix Island stretched without end, and there were a variety of peaks that showcased the splendors of the land, even dangerous peaks that seemed sculpted from the greenest jade. Divine Phoenix Mountains’ Back Palace was located at the summit of an extremely high and wondrous mountain that was blanketed by endless green parasol trees. A dense fog wound around the entire mountain, forming a haze green illusion.
The Back Palace was hundreds of feet high, and covered several miles of land, the entire structure made of exquisite blue stone. As Lin Ming walked in, he saw a woman in a red robe sitting in a high chair made of the purest green jade. Although the woman had silver hair, she didn’t seem old, and still seemed to be in the glorious and magnificent prime of her life. At the woman’s right sat another elegant woman. This woman was Mu Qianyu.
Without a doubt, that silver-haired woman was a master of a generation. Lin Ming respectfully bowed and said, “Junior Lin Ming greets Senior.”
“Lin Ming, this old woman has heard of Yu’er mentioning you.”
The beautiful woman kindly smiled, her eyes containing a lingering charm that befuddled the eyes as she glanced over Lin Ming. “The truth is that since you are part of the joint talent training program, you could cultivate here at Divine Phoenix Island even if you don’t join my sect, and also enjoy the treatment of a core disciple. But, I heard from Yu’er that she has already passed on the first layer of the ‘Vermillion Bird Forbidden Divine Chronicle’ cultivation method to you, and that you also intend to further study this cultivation method. However, this cultivation method is a strict legacy of my Divine Phoenix Island that cannot be passed to outsiders. Thus, this old woman would like to ask you: do you want to join my Divine Phoenix Island as a core disciple?”
Lin Ming’s voice caught in his throat, he didn’t immediately respond.
The beautiful woman smiled and said, “I see that you are a man of honor, and that you’re also reluctant because of the Seven Profound Valleys. Haha, a true man knows graciousness and pays his debts. This old woman is already aware of the matter between you and the Seven Profound Valleys. As this old woman understands, you are not an official disciple of the Seven Profound Valleys, and the Seven Profound Valleys also hasn’t put forth any effort in cultivating you. If you choose to enter Divine Phoenix Island, there won’t be any problems. Also, concerning Shi Zongtian, this old woman has already discussed this matter with him, and he has agreed that after you enter Divine Phoenix Island, you may also be considered half a Seven Profound Valleys disciple.
This beautiful woman said this all casually and plainly, but the truth was that Divine Phoenix Island had made many concessions in order to appease the Seven Profound Valleys.
Lin Ming hesitated; entering into a sect was a life-changing decision that would concern his entire future. Initially, when he was at the Seven Profound Valleys, he hadn’t truly entered the sect. As he was considering, he saw that Mu Qianyu was winking at him, hinting for him to quickly agree.
“Senior, this junior has a question. What sort of duties does a Divine Phoenix Island core disciple have?”
The beautiful woman was stunned. She meaningfully looked at Lin Ming and smiled, “You want to discuss conditions with this old woman? The young are truly brave! To think of all the young heroes and elites that have stepped over each other and struggled so furiously to become a core disciple of my Divine Phoenix Island, and yet you are asking of conditions. Truly confident!”
The beautiful woman’s words seemed like praise, but they were filled with a sense of dissatisfaction. To her, Lin Ming’s words were a bit insolent.
Mu Qianyu was secretly worried on the side.
Lin Ming slowly and calmly said, “Senior, I am a man who has full faith in the commitments and promises that he makes. The ancients have a saying – a master for a day, a master for life. If I enter into a sect, then then this truth is also similar. Since this is a commitment that I will have for my entire life, naturally I must consider it twice and not easily answer. Senior mentioned that there are many young geniuses that rush over each other to enter Divine Phoenix Island, but aren’t these people coming just for Divine Phoenix Island’s resources? The world is splendid, and there are advantages to be found everywhere. In this world, there are countless people that go crazy for their personal benefit, but those that are crazy for righteousness and honor are rare. Those that are the first to rush to become a disciple of Divine Phoenix Island, won’t they also be the first rushing to escape when Divine Phoenix Island suffers a calamity? That is what I believe.”
Lin Ming’s words were neither haughty nor weak, and they resounded in the hall. The beautiful woman had a surprised look; she didn’t think that a 16 year old boy would say such words. Even Mu Qianyu was slightly shocked.
After a period of silence, the beautiful woman suddenly smiled. “Good! Well said! Righteous and crazy! As long as your talent and abilities are to this old woman’s satisfaction, then you may enter my Divine Phoenix Island without any obligation, as long as you have honor and conscience!”