The wooden sword landed in the pot, but there didn’t seem to be any special changes. Bai Xiaochun hummed softly under his breath as he expectantly opened his eyes wide, his watchful gaze fixed on the sword.
But even after waiting for a long time, in the end, there was still nothing strange that happened. Bai Xiaochun thought for a while, glancing at the patterns on the back of the turtle-shell pot before gazing at the wooden cinders in the stove. He seemed to suddenly have an epiphany, as he turned and left the room. Soon after, he returned with a few blocks of the wood that he had previously used, clasped in his hands.
In the Burning Stoves Kitchen, this wood could not be considered anything special, but he still went to find Zhang Fatso One to ask for some.
As he lit the wooden blocks, Bai Xiaochun instantly saw the first line of pattern on the turtleshell pot begin to glow brilliantly again.The hearthfire burned furiously before slowly starting to extinguish. Bai Xiaochun started to ponder other ideas when suddenly, the wooden sword inside the pot began to shine with a blinding silver light.
Bai Xiaochun retreated a few steps. Before long, the blinding light died down, and he could immediately feel a powerful energy wafting out from within the pot.
He took a deep breath, and cautiously crept closer. He saw that on the wooden sword, within the pot, streaks of blindingly bright silver lines had appeared, just like on the Spirit Rice. Those lines slowly darkened, before finally fading away into a dark silver colour.
The entire body of the sword felt slightly different from before. Although the material was still wood, it seemed to radiate with a sharpness characteristic of metallic gold. Bai Xiaochun’s eyes lit up as he bent forward and carefully picked up the wooden sword. It felt slightly heavier. When he brought it closer, he could even feel a sharp coldness emanating from the blade.
“Success! This wooden sword has successfully been refined once.” Bai Xiaochun was wildly gleeful, as he clasped the wooden sword tightly; so in love with it he couldn’t bear to let go. He looked at that pot again as he thought about how he could hide the item, before finally deciding that he should just leave it where it was. The more casually he treated it, the less people would be likely to notice.
For the spirit rice, that problem was easily solved by eating it. But since this wooden sword would be easily seen by other people, Bai Xiaochun contemplated about covering it up under some miscellaneous items, which would hopefully weaken the brilliant rays of the spirit lines.
After he made his decision, he got up and groomed himself before walking out of the straw hut, acting as though nothing had happened. Some days later, as night fell, he brushed the multicoloured secretions that he had collected from the Burning Stove Kitchen over the past few days onto the wooden sword, turning it into an ugly splatter of colour. As he messed around with the substances, he noticed that the glowing spirit lines had indeed largely been covered up and were no longer immediately obvious. Only then did he nod his head in satisfaction.
In the following days, Bai Xiaochun had adapted to the life in the Burning Stoves Kitchen like a fish to water. He had become very close with his senior Brothers, and was now completely familiar with the kitchen chores, especially with the different flames that were needed to cook different types of spirit food. He could even separate the flames by their colour so he now understood that previously, the wood beneath his turtleshell pot had been fire of Colour One.
In particular, because Zhang Fatso One liked Bai Xiaochun a lot, he took good care of the youngster. In a few months, just like Zhang Fatso One had promised before, Bai Xiaochun’s life in the kitchen had slowly fattened him up.
Currently, he was no longer the stick-like figure who had entered the Sect. His whole body had gained several layers of fat and his complexion had turned even more fair, giving him an even deeper impression of being harmless, as though he was inching closer towards the name “Bai Fatso Nine”.
With regards to the added supper, till today he had experienced it a few more times. But what troubled Bai Xiaochun was that although his weight had inflated rapidly, his cultivation had begun to slow down. In the end, he had decided to simply not think about it and spent day after day eating and drinking with his Brothers. It was a life of glorious freedom. From Zhang Fatso One he had heard plenty of stories of the incidents happening within the Sect over these few months, and had gained a certain degree of understanding towards the members of the Spirit River Sect.
He knew that the Sect was divided into disciples of the Inner Sect and disciples of the Outer Sect. Those in the Handyman Department that were able to train until the third level of Qi Condensation, were able to pass a mountain peak’s entrance cultivation test. If they were able to succeed further, then they could enter the realm of cultivation and become disciples of the Outer Sect. Only those who were successfully able to enter the Outer Sect could be considered to have stepped into the gates of the Spirit River Sect.
But this was equivalent to a mere fish trying to jump through a dragon’s gate. Because each peak’s entrance examination only admitted the top three scorers every month, the number of people who could successfully test into the Outer Sect were fixed.
This day, it had originally been Fatso Seven who was supposed to go down the mountain to search for materials, but he had been delayed due to various circumstances so with a wave of his hand, Zhang Fatso One ordered Bai Xiaochun to climb down in his stead. Bai Xiaochun hesitated briefly -- it had been several months since he had last seen Xu Baocai so it should probably be quite safe to go out now. But still, in a fit of nervousness, he retrieved six vegetable knives and put on five layers of leather coats. He looked entirely like a walking ball.
Still feeling unsafe, Bai Xiaochun found a sturdy pot and strapped it onto his back. Only now was he confident in his safety, as he swaggered out of the Burning Stoves Kitchen and waddled down the mountain.
As he wandered along the quartz-paved road of the Sect, Bai Xiaochun gazed at the beautiful and exquisite buildings surrounding him. A deep sense of superiority filled him as his spirits soared.
“The days fly by, my life is like a dream. I, Bai Xiaochun, from birth till now, have cultivated for numerous months. Reminiscing at the distant memories of my village back then, I am filled with rue...” he lamented to himself. His hands were clasped behind his back, seven to eight vegetable knives hung at his waist, a black pot carried on his back and his body swathed in several layers of leather. He looked like a ragged leather ball. As he walked, he passed by plenty of handymen who shot him questioning sidelong glances.
In particular, there were a few female disciples who after seeing Bai Xiaochun, were so tickled by his appearance they covered their mouths to giggle softly. Their laughter was like the sound of bells, clear and musical.
Bai Xiaochun’s round face turned slightly red, as he felt rather mighty. He coughed drily, puffed out his chest and continued onwards.
Not long after that, before he had even walked out of the Handyman District of the third peak, he suddenly saw quite a number of handymen in the distance with excited looks on their faces, quickly running in one direction. That was where the mountain trail of the third peak was located, usually a favourite spot of the Outer Sect disciples.
Slowly, more and more handymen started excitedly rushing in that direction. Bai Xiaochun stood there, momentarily shocked before he hurriedly grabbed a frail youngster from the crowd who was passing by.
“Fellow Disciple, what’s happening? Why’s everyone running over there?” Bai Xiaochun asked curiously.
An annoyed expression had appeared on the face of the youth whom he had grabbed. But when he saw the large black pot strapped on Bai Xiaochun’s back, admiration could be seen in his eyes as his expression softened.
“Oh, so it’s a Disciple of the Burning Stoves Kitchen. You should also go have a look. I’ve heard that the pride of the outer sect, Zhou Yu and Zhang Yide are battling each other at the training ground down the mountain. The two of them seem to have some personal vendetta against each other, and I’ve heard that both are already at the sixth level of Qi-condensation. This kind of event is something I have to see no matter what. Maybe I can learn something which will be to my advantage.” The youngster explained before he hurried off, afraid that he would miss the show if he were to be late.
Feeling very curious, Bai Xiaochun also ran in that direction with large steps, following the crowd. It wasn’t long before he exited the Handyman District, arriving at the foot of the third mountain peak. There, he saw an enormous towering stage.
This tall stage was about a thousand feet wide. Around the stage congregated numerous handymen. There were even a number of figures amidst the surrounding mountains, dressed in elaborate attire; these were the Outer Sect disciples who had also come to spectate.
On the stage, there stood two youths who wore equally intricately designed robes. One youth’s face was scarred while the other was as pale as jade. Their figures intersected each other multiple times, as loud rumbles like rolling thunder swept outwards.
These two people were both cloaked in a mystical flashing light. In front of the scarred youth was a small flag, which fluttered despite the lack of wind. As though it was being manipulated by an invisible hand, it formed a fog-tiger that roared loudly, the sheer volume shaking the ground.
TL: What if I lost my life? I’ve heard that people die when they are killed.