The Ten Thousand Medicine Pavilion was one of the most popular places in Scented Cloud Mountain and was frequented by outer sect disciples almost every day. Part of the reason was the ten stone steles located there, and another was the Ten Thousand Medicine Pavilion itself. Centred between the steles, outer sect disciples could exchange contribution points and herbs or medicine pills there.
Moreover, on fixed days, this place even had promotional examinations to become Medicine Apprentices where medicine pills that they refined were reclaimed by the sect. Hence, due to various reasons, this place was always noisy.
With the passage of time, the popularity of this place also caused it to become a secondary information center where disciples traded information regarding their experiences. It started from simple discussions about herbalism, then eventually grew to a place where people gossiped and chatted about the events happening within the sect, both big and small.
When Bai Xiaochun arrived at the Ten Thousand Medicine Pavilion, many outer sect disciples could be seen either walking in and out or chatting with hushed voices in groups of three to five. In front of the surrounding stone steles, many disciples were also lining up to challenge the rankings.
After a long time spent squeezing past the crowds, Bai Xiaochun finally neared the second stele. Just as he was going over to the stele, he noticed the three outer sect disciples in front of him having a conversation, and apparently, it was about Bai Xiaochun himself.
“Did you guys hear? Something weird has been happening recently regarding Elder Li’s spirit tailed chickens. It’s said that more than a hundred of those chickens have disappeared.”
“Not just more than a hundred. From what I have heard, Elder Li might as well have no chickens left. A disciple looking after the chickens has caught the culprit already - the chicken thief is going to be cut into pieces and fed to the chickens. How cruel.”
“First a mysterious turtle appears, then this great chicken thief? What’s with Scented Cloud Mountain these days?”
Bai Xiaochun unconsciously withdrew his neck, feeling guilty. Wasn’t it just some chickens? How did it turn out to be such a big deal? From the looks of it, everyone knew about the chicken disappearances.
And after hearing that the chickens belonged to Elder Li, Bai Xiaochun was even more frightened.
“I didn’t steal that many…” Bai Xiaochun felt wronged, and was thinking of how he could change the Great Chicken Thief’s image when he heard some noise from behind him.
“Little girl! Why the hell are you shoving? Are you in such a rush for your next life?”
“So what if I’m shoving? Get out of here if you’re afraid of a little squeezing, you should be honored that it’s me who’s shoving you.”
Bai Xiaochun thought the voice seemed familiar, so he turned around to take a look. It was a lady with soft white skin, her chest was puffed up and a hand was on her hip. She was proudly arguing with a huge man.
“Hou Xiaomei?” Bai Xiaochun blinked.
Upon hearing her name, Hou Xiaomei turned and saw Bai Xiaochun, her expression changing from prideful to surprised.
“Big bro Xiaochun! It’s you!” Hou Xiaomei twisted her hip and hurriedly rushed towards Bai Xiaochun’s direction. Her kind demeanor made it seem like she was warm and pure.
“Ah, Lil’ Sis Xiaomei.” As Bai Xiaochun looked at the energetic girl before him, he thought that she was extremely cute.
“You’re so mean, teasing me and all. Brother Xiaochun, I’m called Hou Xiaomei!” Hearing her words, Bai Xiaochun blushed a little at her innocent cuteness.
When she said this, this girl who was filled with energy from the start became even more alluring, attracting the glances of many of the surrounding outer sect disciples. The big man from before instead felt his his skin covered with goosebumps. He felt that the change in attitude of this girl was too drastic, the shift from anger to happiness was unnatural.
“Big Bro Xiaochun, my brother hasn’t returned from his trip away from the mountain, and it’s my first time here. Where should I go if I want to exchange my first bamboo scroll for the second?” Hou Xiaomei asked. It was indeed her first time here, after all, it had always been her brother who did these things for her. Fortunately, she found Bai Xiaochun just when she didn’t know what to do.
Bai Xiaochun smiled and introduced the basics to her, speaking in precise detail. She kept nodding throughout his explanation and by the time he finished explaining, felt that Bai Xiaochun was not only kind, but was also very knowledgeable.
After explaining the basics, Bai Xiaochun glanced at Hou Xiaomei. Unable to control himself, he raised his right hand and pointed at the first stone stele, putting on an air of nonchalance.
“See that stone stele over there? People who manage to leave their names there are the pride and joy of the entire sect. Anyone whose symbol is on it will attain achievements that will shake the whole world.”
“Forget about everyone else, let me tell you about the person who is in second place. Look at that Aquarius symbol, that’s the pride of our Scented Cloud Mountain - Zhou Xinqi!”
“This symbol shows her talent for herbs, and she has already been taken in as a disciple by an ancestor. She’s destined to become the main sect’s Zhou Mistress!” Hou Xiaomei’s eyes shined brightly as she raised her head to look at the Aquarius symbol, her expression full of respect. She heard Hou Yunfei mention Zhou Xinqi’s name multiple times, which filled her with respect and admiration for Zhou Xinqi. With Bai Xiaochun’s praise, she only felt even more admiration for Zhou Xinqi.
Bai Xiaochun continued acting nonchalant. He stood there for quite a while before realizing that she was still staring at the Aquarius symbol, completely oblivious to the turtle above it. He was instantly irritated. After all, wasn’t the point of his introduction to move onto this topic and discuss the beautifully drawn turtle?
“Hey hey, this Zhou Xinqi is indeed extraordinary to place second on the first stone stele!” He emphasized on the word second, reminding her that there was one more person above her.
Hou Xiaomei perked her head and took a closer look, frowning.
“Second place? Who’s that turtle above her, it sure is an ugly symbol.”
Hearing this, Bai Xiaochun only felt even more irritated. Feeling a strong urge to educate this little girl before him, Bai Xiaochun put on a serious face, and spoke solemnly.
“This is where you’re wrong. Xiaomei, you should know that this beautiful turtle represents the greatest, most mysterious, and most extraordinary disciple of the main sect.”
“There are many rumors about this person. Every time he appears, he would attract cheers and stares from the disciples, envied by all, cheered for by all.”
“Ah?” Being the innocent girl she was, Hou Xiaomei stood there stunned, doubting the words Bai Xiaochun spoke.
“You should know that this guy is a legend born from thin air only two months ago. He snatched away Zhou Xinqi’s first place, shattering her dreams!”
“You should know that this person, after appearing, instantly snatched away first place with great ease.”
“You should know that when Zhou Xinqi witnessed this with her own eyes, she couldn’t sleep for seven days straight. She took the examination multiple times but placed second in all of them. She was completely defeated.”
“You should know, I, Bai Xiaochun… heh.” Bai Xiaochun got more and more excited with every word, almost spitting out the fact that he was the great turtle. He took control of himself, remembering his dream to reveal his identity before a vast audience, and not in front of a single little girl. To achieve that dream, he had to wait.
“Really?” Hou Xiaomei’s eyes shone like stars at night, staring intently at the turtle, her cheeks were red and her face was full of respect once again.
“Of course.” Bai Xiaochun was pleased. He was convinced that he did something good; guiding the lost girl to the right path. With a sense of success, Bai Xiaochun flourished his sleeves as he walked to the second stone stele, leaving her behind.
Squeezing past the crowd, he waited for a vacant wooden hut before disappearing into it with proud strides.
The hut was old. Bai Xiaochun sat in front of the stone stele, drawing the turtle once again. His vision blurred as a roaring sound echoed in his ears. He appeared in a familiar imaginary space, but this time, without the ice-cold voice; just endless herb fragments.
Bai Xiaochun was very confident. His eyes shone and his two hands moved with great speed. Within the blink of an eye, he finished assembling the tufts of spirit herbs.
In the time it took for an incense stick to finish burning, less than five thousand fragments were left in front of him. This was a considerably better result than his first examination.
But unfortunately, time was up. His vision blurred and he was once again inside the wooden hut. Even so, he was filled with confidence. Picking up the third scroll, his heart started beating faster in anticipation as he pushed open the doors of the wooden hut.
Looking at the outer sect disciples who were still oblivious of the change in the rankings, Bai Xiaochun felt proud.
“This time I’m going to shock the entire sect. I’ll tell them all that I, Bai Xiaochun, am the great master turtle!” Bai Xiaochun was already picturing the scene of having ten thousand people worshipping him, especially the image of Hou Xiaomei’s shocked face.
While imagining the scene, Bai Xiaochun chuckled a bit, before holding up his right hand to give a big yell, taking the initiative to reveal to everyone that he was that great turtle…
But just then, he heard the outer sect disciples queuing up outside.
“You think that turtle who took Zhou Xinqi’s first place will dare show himself again?”
“Probably not. Zhou Xinqi’s admirers are all over the place looking for him in the entire southern river bank. They’re all so angry, it’s crazy. They even said that they’d skin him alive if they found him.”
“Yeah, I heard that too. Even inner sect disciples are involved.”
Bai Xiaochun had just raised his right hand when he heard these words. His heart skipped a beat, especially when he heard that inner sect disciples were also looking for him. Cold sweat appeared on his forehead as he pulled his hand back to his face, and acted as if nothing happened, before quickly putting it down. He was furious, his face bitter as he sighed. He squeezed into the crowd.
“This is too much, it’s just absurd! All I did was acquire first place, is all of this really necessary? Even inner sect disciples are looking for me.” His expression this time was genuine.
Just as he walked into the crowd, someone noticed the change in the rankings on the second stone stele, and sounds of disbelief filled the air as the news spread throughout the outer sect disciples in the Ten Thousand Medicines Pavilion.