Across the hall before the wall shadow, Mu Xiao watched the gradually setting sun. Feeling the gentle warm from the sunset afterglow that sprinkled over his body, he could not help but feel languid.
It was another leisure day for him. In about half an hour, it was time for him to get off work. If not for the sect's harsh rule, Mu Xiao would really follow his impulse to leave early.
He had been working at the Heavenly Policy Hall for about three years. Three years ago, his Master had entrusted him to be responsible for answering the sect's official affairs in the Heavenly Policy Hall every ten days for each month and eight hours per day. Actually, the work itself was not difficult; he just have to inspect and register the applicant's information and deal with a few knotty problem. However, this official working hours would inevitably delay his cultivation time. Three years ago, regardless of his Master, Martial Uncles or Aunts, Senior or Junior Brothers or Sisters, all thought that he got the short end of the stick, especially his Master. Thus, overtly or covertly, he would get a lot of compensation. For example, occasionally, he would get make-up classes or would be granted various kinds of gifts and subsidies according to the sect regulations...
Thus, Mu Xiao was quite satisfied with his job. Moreover, for three years, he had reaped unexpected benefit - the signboard of the Heavenly Policy Hall was signed by the Sect Leader. With this sign, he was no longer just a Xudan Stage disciple, but an official who represent the sect management. This identity brought him a lot of benefits.
In fact, if not for the sect restriction on the amount of time the disciple could work as officials, Mu Xiao really wanted to continue doing this—delayed cultivation was not that big of a deal. He started cultivating thirty-seven years ago, and now he has reached the Xudan Stage, his lifespan was nearly three hundred years. Moreover, within the next thirty years, with his spirit root qualification, he fully expected to reach the Jindan Stage. Thus, he still has much time, so why would he need to hurry? His position in the Heavenly Policy Hall could only be discovered but not sought.
Although Mu Xiao enjoyed his life in this Heavenly Policy Hall and wished that he could work overtime everyday, for the last few days, he had always been punctual when it was time to get off work, never tarried a moment longer, as if he had a guilty conscience.
In fact, Mu Xiao indeed slightly felt guilty, specifically about the dispute that happened four days ago.
At that time, he and Wang Lu had a quarrel, made a commotion in the office and set a high stake gamble. At that time, he was so angered by Wang Lu; he thought that people from the Non-Phase Peak simply has no brain. How could a mere Body Refining Stage disciple dare to take the experiential learning challenge at Small Clear Sky Peak? It was simply "vulgar claptrap to please the crowd"; he was as irritating as his disgrace of a Master. As for their bet of five hundred challenge points, no matter how Mu Xiao thought, it was impossible to earn that much points.
However, that evening, Mu Xiao felt uneasy. So, while he had nothing but free time, he looked for the sect historical text and flipped through Wang Lu's detailed record on his Immortal Gathering two years ago. Two years ago during the Immortal Gathering, he was in the middle of seclusion practice, so he failed to witness the event. After the end of the Immortal Gathering, when he returned to work, the enthusiasm to discuss the Immortal Gathering had cooled down, so he knew only about the results, and not so much about the process, nor did he care.
However, this time, when he flipped through the record, what he found stunned him and caused him to gasp a mouthful of cold air.
Unexpectedly, Wang Lu, whom he thought as a grandstanding-kind of person, was actually so fierce and vigorous! If not for the quality of his spirit root that was a pain in the ass, by virtue of his character and perception, he was fully qualified to be the Sect Leader's Successor Disciple! Even more frightening was that, in the Peach Blossom Village, he got a such a terrifying score that the score counter almost got data overflow! Other people could not be compared to him at all!
Mu Xiao could not help but sigh with emotion, thinking, "All the test is probably just a game for Wang Lu."
"Damn it! This experiential learning is not a game! If it is, then it's a fatal game!"
Then, he thought about his bet with Wang Lu, "Five hundred challenge points is the base and one hundred spirit stones for each point differ from that. I initially thought that, at most, he would get one or two hundred points and will owe me tens of thousands of spirit stones. But now, it seems…"
A few years ago, his Master Liu Xian had imparted meaningful and heartfelt words toward a few black and white disciples at the small class inside the Inner Court's hall.
"You are all well qualified to be called genius in cultivation, but the Nine Regions is vast and full of wonders, so people more genius than you do exist. And, the gap between geniuses is, perhaps, far beyond your imagination."
At that time, he and several of his fellow disciples humbly listened but thought that those remarks referred to the few freak Successor Disciples that the Elders recently accepted.
But now, he realized that Wang Lu was the kind of people who's a genius far beyond his imagination. Thus, Mu Xiao was naturally anxious; for several days, everyday at work, he was always afraid that the guy would come to him with four digit challenge points and demand the money from him.
Although even those freak Successor Disciples would logically find it impossible to earn five hundred challenge points, much less more, but if it was Wang Lu...
While he was pondering, the half hour quietly slipped away. Looking at the scarlet setting sun outside the Hall, making him feel secretly relieved. He was ready to get up and leave, but at this time, a burst of footsteps came from outside the hall.
"Damn! Are you kidding me! Is he going to claim his bet now!?"
Mu Xiao could not help but be startled as cold sweat quickly poured out from his body. However, his Primordial Spirit was moved; he sensed that the situation was not as what he imagined—the person who came was not Wang Lu.
"Sorry to disturb you, Senior Brother Mu Xiao."
With a gentle and courteous greeting, a disciple in black and white slowly walked to the front of the hall and cupped his fists towards Mu Xiao. Mu Xiao was stunned, he recognized the other person was Junior Brother Yue Yun. Although this Junior Brother only possessed third rate spirit root, he has gentle and generous personality, with excellent perception. His future cultivation wasn't going to be inferior to him. Recently, he often honed himself with actual combat, so his cultivation progress was very fast.
Following behind Yue Yun were several inner and outer court disciples who entered the sect the same time as Wang Lu two years ago. These few people were covered with dirt, yet they could not contain their joy.
Seeing this scene, Mu Xiao immediately understood; he said with a smile, "Junior Brother Yue Yun, you guys have concluded your experiential learning?"
Yue Yun nodded. "That's right! Because of all sorts of accidents, we couldn't complete the previous experiential learning, so… I took the initiative to propose that everyone redo the experiential learning to make up for the previous shortcomings. Fortunately, several Junior Brothers and Sisters were very supportive, so we soon put together the team. And this time's performance is really amazing."
Indeed, just a week ago, Yue Yun had brought a stack of information to the Heavenly Policy Hall to apply for another experiential learning. Because this application was not referred by an Elder, Mu Xiao thus asked several questions. After knowing the reasons, Mu Xiao praised Yue Yun and his team member's ambition. Now, seeing their happy faces, it was clear that their experiential learning was a great success.
"Congratulations Junior Brothers and Sisters, I will register your results, please wait a moment."
Yue Yun cupped his hands. "Thank you for the hard work, Senior Brother… We are too reckless for coming here as you are going to get off work."
"Hehe, it's nothing, I'm just going to write several characters, that's all… Was your traveling schedule the same as what you declared last week?"
Yue Yun said, "It's the same. We go through the primary route, from the Full Moon Valley toward the Azure Dragon Gorge and finally returned through the Lotus Pond. From the planned six days, we did it in five… Moreover, I was the sole leader, Junior Sister Huo Ying had to do some other things, so she couldn't travel together."
Mu Xiao continued to nod as he recorded their reports. "Not bad. Based on your average cultivation level and a single team leader, this achievement is really good."
Yue Yun smiled. "Speaking of which, we were really quite lucky; this time's experiential learning, from start to finish, we rarely encountered particularly powerful monsters. Especially around the Full Moon Valley, where the monsters would constantly harass us; it seemed like someone had done a clean-up in advance, so our journey there was quite easy."
Mu Xiao laughed. "Luck is also part of the strength. Junior Brother Yue Yun, no need to be modest. Being able to avoid monsters encounter, you got the credit for choosing the right path."
While speaking, Mu Xiao had finished recording and was about to close the book when he heard Yue Yun suddenly said, "Senior Brother, please hold on, this time, several Junior Brothers and Sisters got some challenge points."
Hearing about the challenge points, Mu Xiao suddenly turned serious. "Please elaborate and show me the proof."
"It's like this: when we approached the Azure Dragon Gorge, we encountered a category two second rank monster. Properly speaking, as their team leader, I should be the one responsible for chasing it away. But Junior Brothers and Sisters proposed to take care of it themselves, so I just watched them from the side and guarded them with restriction array, ready to intervene if something unexpected happened. However, they were really good; their coordination is far better than what I anticipated; they're very skilled with their spells and sword arts, and they won without my help at all."
"Category two second rank monster defeated by the few of you?"
Mu Xiao turned his gaze and looked at the several younger disciples in surprised; the highest cultivator among them was only at the eighth level of Qi Cultivating Stage. But by relying on coordination, they were actually able to contend against category two second rank monster. Furthermore, considering that they still lacked combat experience, this result was indeed a surprise! In accordance with the rules, they were eligible to obtain challenge points.
Although the entire battle was restricted by the array, since Yue Yun said he didn't participate in it, the challenge points couldn't be deducted too severely… After doing some mental arithmetic, Mu Xiao concluded that they should be awarded almost ten points.
Although that number seemed trivial, compared to him who accumulated three hundred points in thirty years, these people could theoretically catch up to him in one year if they went all out!
While thinking, Mu Xiao cast his gaze and sized up this batch of newcomers. Among these young faces, Mu Xiao only knew the two Misty Peak's Inner Court disciples. One was Zhu Qin, and the other one was… Wang Zhong?
Seeing Mu Xiao's slightly puzzled face, Yue Yun laughed. "Senior Brother is unfamiliar with Junior Brother Wang Zhong's face? This is not unusual. Since he entered the sect two years ago, Junior Brother Wang Zhong has always been low key; he is shy as a girl. Thus, a lot of Martial Brothers and Sisters in the Misty Peak are not familiar with him. However, his basic skills are solid. And in this time's experiential learning, I ask him to come with us as a substitute for Senior Brother Wang Lu. His performance is outstanding, not the least bit inferior to Junior Brother Zhu Qin and Junior Sister Yue Xinyao."
At this time, Zhu Qin also came over and patted the youth's shoulder. "That's right; if not for Junior Brother Wang Zhong's timely support, I would have no time to launch the fire in my palm."
Being pushed into the limelight, Wang Zhong looked a bit nervous. "How could I? I merely launched my Empty Palm Technique to help Senior Brother dodge the attack. Senior Brother was the one who gave the fatal blow with your Raging Flame Dragon Subduing Palm."
Zhu Qin burst out laughing. "Still, I should also give thanks to Junior Sister Yue for releasing the water shield at the critical time to help me block the claw. Otherwise, I would've been mortally wounded."
"Oh, you flatter me Senior Brother, I also got help from Junior Sister Wen Yin for taking turns with me in casting that water shield…"
Between these exchanges, Mu Xiao understood the general overview of the whole battle. Zhu Qin was their main attacker with the strongest attack, and the rest were there to assist him. But in this process, the prominent characters were, without a doubt, Zhu Qin and Wang Zhong, the two Inner Court disciples.
Zhu Qin was the best rookie among the batch of disciples that entered two years ago. Although his spirit root attribute was not too good, he has a strong perception and good character, especially in making friends—or perhaps in recruiting "little brothers".
He had to admit that, in this world, there was this kind of people, who possessed a natural charisma that even if they had no overwhelming superiority in strength, it was easy for them to become the focus of everyone and attract others to follow. And this Zhu Qin probably possessed such qualities. Although he was obviously still immature, he had the knack to place himself at the center and become the focus of attention.
As for Wang Zhong, although Mu Xiao only had a vague memory of him, he was still without a doubt was also a talented person. However, for him to willingly follow Zhu Qin like he was his "little brother"... It seemed to be a confirmation to Zhu Qin's skill.
"Ah, forget it, let these young people sort it out themselves." Mu Xiao shook his head and then suddenly remembered something; he asked, "Speaking of which, while you were in the Small Clear Sky Peak doing the experiential learning, did you encounter other disciples who were doing the same experiential learning?"
Yue Yun and the rest looked at each other. "No, we didn't. For several days, it seemed like there were only us in the Small Clear Sky Peak."
Mu Xiao suddenly felt relieved, thinking, "It looks like someone is not as brave and invincible as he claimed. I thought he dared to set off to the Small Clear Sky Peak with just two people, but it appears that I have overestimated him…"
"But this is good, I don't have to feel nervous and fear anymore." As his mood turned for the better, Mu Xiao finally finished filling the report form and handed the information back to Yue Yun; he was especially warm towards them.
"About the challenge points, I have filled them in the documents. However, the end results still need to be submitted to the Elder for approval. The results would then be published perhaps in three days. However, you have detailed information, and they are recorded in the Sincerity Paper, so there shouldn't be any issue. So… I, on behalf of the Heavenly Policy Hall, would like to say, congratulations to you, Junior Brothers and Sisters, for earning this valuable challenge points. Although it doesn't seem like much, if you keep adding them up, it would soon reach a hundred, or even a thousand."
Yue Yun laughed. "Then I, on behalf of my Junior Brothers and Sisters, would say thank you, Senior Brother, for your kind words. Uh, this thing has dragged on for quite a while, I am really sorry for making Senior Brother work overtime. How about we eat dinner together, my treat?"
Mu Xiao was stunned and then laughed. "Hahaha, it's rare for someone to invite others to dinner. Very well, I won't be polite then. These past few days, because of this official work, I have to eat at the Misty Peak cafeteria every day. Ugh, the food there…"
Zhu Qin concurred. "This time, I must give my thanks to Brothers and Sisters. If not for everyone giving their best, I would never find a reason to eat together with Senior Brother Mu Xiao; this is really a rare opportunity."
Everyone burst out laughing, the atmosphere was very warmth, and even the perpetually "shy" Wang Zhong revealed a heartfelt smile.
Two years ago, the little errand boy believed that the cultivation in the Immortal Path would make him independent, and thus he decided to come out of the closet as Wang Zhong. However, after two years, even if his cultivation was not the least bit inferior to others, and even though he didn't have a young master who told him to do something anymore, he was never able to get rid of someone else's shadow. Even if that person never said something about how he abandoned him two years ago, and when they inadvertently met in the Teng Cloud Hall or other places, that someone always took the initiative to warmly greet him… But all of these only made Wang Zhong feel sad and restless instead.
He didn't know the specific reason, but for two years, he always felt depressed; he would usually do everything as low key as possible and didn't dare to meet with Wang Lu. At the previous experiential learning, he had wanted to participate like the other Inner Court Disciples, but when he heard that Wang Lu had also joined, he hastily made an excuse to decline. He would rather miss out on a valuable training opportunity than to directly meet with Wang Lu.
Fortunately, not long ago, Senior Brother Yue Yun looked for him and invited him to participate in the second experiential learning. And this time, without Wang Lu in sight. As if wanting to vent out his two years of resentment, his performance was exceptionally outstanding.
"Perhaps, this is the start of a true independence?" While everyone was merrily laughing, Wang Zhong could not help but think so.
However, just when everyone was ready to go to the Carefree Peak cafeteria, they heard a burst of footsteps approaching from the outside. Along with the sound of footsteps, they also heard an exchange between two Junior Disciples.
"S-senior Brother, I think the Heavenly Policy Hall has already closed for quite a while, why don't we get back in the morning?"
"You don't understand, Senior Brother Mu Xiao is diligent; he will certainly work overtime until dawn. If we come back tomorrow morning, wouldn't we force him to work around the clock? That's inhumane…"
"Senior Brother, I think you just can't wait and want to try your luck."
"Nonsense… Ha! See, the light inside the hall is still on. Like I said, it's overtime…"
While talking, the two finally passed through the outside gate and came face to face with the happy crowd.
"Yo, so many acquaintances, eh…"
In everybody's astonished eyes, Wang Lu revealed a very sincere smile.