Along with the dull alarm sound from the summit of the Stellar Star Peak, the Spirit Sword Sect's once-in-a-decade official experiential learning for the new entry disciples finally began.
All the disciples, up to the Foundation Establishment Stage, were kicked down the mountain by the Elders; no exception, no matter what special circumstances they were currently in. Be it they were feeling unwell, be it they were in the critical period in their cultivation, all were treated equally. The Elders even put up a restriction seal on each of the disciple's bedroom; no one was allowed to stay.
As for the disciples themselves, some of them were elated, some were eager, and some wallowed in helplessness. However, all in all, by next year, they have to be self-reliant.
During the month-long preparation period, most of them have done the necessary homework. Although the Blue River Region was relatively a remote and impoverished place in the Nine Regions, but with respect to a group of novice Qi Cultivating Stage, it was still a vast and boundless place. The number of large and small countries even reached a hundred. Of which, the larger one, such as the ancient Ordinary Country, with a population of nearly a billion, accounted for a twentieth of the region; while a relatively small one such as the White Moon Country also has millions of people. As for the number of cultivators, it maintained a ratio of one in a thousand ordinary mortals—of course, most of which were cultivators with man-made spirit root. For cultivators with natural spirit root, a ratio of one in ten thousand ordinary mortals would have been a very generous estimate.
For those newcomers to the Immortal Cultivation, the mortal world still has countless of wonderful things, which would dazzle them once they descended the mountain.
However, the Senior Brothers and Elders in the Heavenly Policy Hall have taken a great care for that. For each participating disciples, they have made the experiential learning guidance handbook. Not only did it show them some general knowledge on doing the experiential learning, it also had an instruction map, which filled with a list of places that were recommended as the location for the experiential learning: the White Moon Country, where a scandal concerning the Shengjing Sect had erupted a while ago, or a recent rumor that a magical treasure had been born in the Desolate Country… All of them were locations with unstable situations and filled with opportunities, but because it was a localized incident, it was difficult to attract high-level cultivators, thus, it was suitable for the new entry disciples.
A year was really quite a short time to do the experiential learning, because, counting on the back and forth journey between two or three locations, at most, each of them could handle two or three affairs… However, the amount of locations on the list in the guidance map was over a thousand, which could overwhelm any of the disciples.
Most of the disciples took this map very seriously. During the month-long preparation, almost half of the time was used to analyze the map, choosing the best locations, and so on… Because after a year, the measure of the experiential learning result not only based on their cultivation progress, it was also based on that pain-in-the-ass experiential learning report. However, the score of the report would be determined by people in the Heavenly Policy Hall, so how could they dare to ignore the guidance handbook produced by the Heavenly Policy Hall?
Wang Lu dared.
Still on the same day they descended the mountain, Wang Lu threw that map to the side and, alone, went straight to Wang Family Village northeast of the Dog Ear Mountain in the Marquis County of the Eastern Way Prefecture in the Great Ming Country.
Of course, a backward mountain village like the Wang Family Village would never be listed on the map. Over a thousand locations of important significance in the Blue River Region were listed on the guide map, but none of them were the Wang Family Village. To this, Wang Lu could only lament that the people in the Heavenly Policy Hall have eyes but unable to see; how could Wang Family Village, where the current possessor of the Void Spirit Root originated, not be in any way significant!? In the future, the village would become a tourist attraction because of this, which would make the real estate in the village appreciate. And the richest individual, Master Wang, who was Wang Lu's father with a net worth of millions, has the largest real estate in the village. Thus, along with the appreciation of the land, Master Wang would have to change his name into Millionaire Wang, or even Billionaire Wang, and should be given much respect!
Although the Heavenly Policy Hall might be blind, he surely wasn't. In this one short year, if necessary, he must spend it all on his family, because this was such a rare occasion. Experiential learning could be done at any time. As for the report, using his imagination would suffice!
Along the way to his home village, Wang Lu's heart was filled with emotion. Two and a half years ago, a mountain village savage with inexplicable confidence and two thousand taels of bank note bravely rushed to the Spirit Sword Mountain. Two and a half years later, that savage has become a brilliant rising star in the Immortal Cultivation World; what a change that was! Although his cultivation level was still low—with him at the beginning of of the path of Immortal Cultivation—he already possessed an eighth rank spiritual treasure—although it has nine layers of seal—and a lot of Spirit Sword Sect's priceless challenge points. In regards to wealth, he was not inferior to ordinary Spirit Sword Sect's Jindan Stage disciples. At the same time, as a disciple of one of the five top sects in the Union of Ten Thousand Immortals, he has a bright future ahead of him. Thus, this time he went back home, he came with riches and honors!
The only regretful thing was… two and a half years ago, there were two people who came to the Spirit Sword Mountain, but this time, only Wang Lu was the one who came back. Wang Zhong, that kid, not only chose to hang out with Zhu Qin and other people without him, he didn't even want to come back home with Wang Lu, like a young married woman who was being difficult… However, it did save a lot of trouble. Although he had routinely sent letters to his home in these two years, in which he had already explained the situation, but it was obviously difficult for a diligent, low-key and pragmatic Master Wang to accept someone that he had always knew as an errand boy to walk on the Path to Immortality. If the two of them met, it would be really awkward, so they might as well not see each other anymore.
However, excluding this issue, Wang Lu very much looked forward to coming back home. He hasn't seen his parents for more than two years; even as a professional adventurer, he could not help but miss them, and he was very eager to meet them. Unlike the way of thinking of the other Immortal Cultivators, Wang Lu has never bothered with the saying of Immortal Cultivators walk on a different path than that of mortals and the issue of parting forever. His parents were his parents, so why would he need to think about mortals and Immortal Cultivators with them? Even though he came to his parents via that magical comet, thus they were more like adoptive parents, but by their kindness, they had nurtured him for more than ten years; there was nothing fake at all about their feelings towards him! Master Wang and Madame Sui Shi were simple, honest, and sincere people, yet they never lack the wisdom of life. For more than ten years, besides growing up under their care and kindness, Wang Lu had a very enjoyable life.
He remembered that when he was a kid, his father exhausted his thought and ingenuity just for several hundred taels of silver, and his mother busied herself in the kitchen the night before the New Year because his family produced special food to be sold on New Year. Although those details in life were simply negligible, they did invoke a certain feeling in him.
Regarding the different paths between mortals and Immortal Cultivators… right now, he was still a fourteen years old teenager; although his parents were mortals, they have healthy bodies and could live at least thirty more years. Let alone at Spirit Sword Sect, he could get elixirs for them so that they could live a couple of hundred years more—it was just that, it might not be necessarily good for mortals to have a too long lifespan. In short, it would be dozens of years later before he would worry about that.
In addition to that, although Wang Family Village was just a remote mountain village, he has lived there for more than ten years. Among the hundreds of household in the village, Wang Lu could name every single one of them. For example, his father's old enemy, their neighbor Wang Dafu, who was set on surpassing their family's wealth but was never able to. There was also an old Doctor who was trained in traditional medicine that could treat all kinds of hard-to-treat cases—Doctor Wang… Amongst the billions upon billions of people in the Nine Regions, they were just ordinary people, but in Wang Lu's more than ten years of life, each of them played an important role.
The first twelve years of his life was simple and honest. As a professional adventurer, that life was boring. In fact, before he left his home two and a half years ago for the Spirit Sword Mountain, he had to-kind-of escape from his gilded cage. But after more than two years of cultivation life, inevitably, he missed the simplicity of the Wang Family Village.
After being accustomed to playing with a mature lady, one would inevitably miss a loli.
While he was indulging in flights of fancy, Wang Lu's footsteps had became increasingly quick. When he first came to the Spirit Sword Mountain, he first had to take two days of on foot journey from the Wang Family Village to the Marquis County, and then he also took a horse-drawn carriage from there for ten days before he arrived at the foot of the Spirit Sword Mountain. This was all thanks to the close distance between the Great Ming Country and the Spirit Sword Mountain. However, when he came home this time, Wang Lu spent the whole journey on foot, and in just three days of travelling day and night, Wang Lu had already seen the familiar silhouette of the Dog Ear Mountain.
This was one of the perks of being a cultivator. Even if he was just a novice seventh level Qi Cultivating Stage disciple without any Immortal Cultivator's lightness skill in the Spirit Sword Sect, but in the mortal world, he was a top martial arts grandmaster; his pace was faster than a galloping horse.
When he reached the foot of the Dog Ear Mountain, Wang Lu couldn't help but stop.
He thought, "What should I do next? How should I appear in front of the village people after being away for more than two and a half years?"
"Should I put on an aloof Immortal Cultivator persona, or like a visiting Emperor? Or should I be approachable, kind, and take my time to greet all the villagers I meet along the way?" This was not a vanity issue, but involved a lot of practical factors; Wang Lu, as a cultivator with high EQ, has no alternative but to plan ahead.
However, before he could consider an answer, a sight that was caught by his eyes made him deeply wrinkle his brows.
The change in the surrounding spiritual energy was somewhat abnormal… As a possessor of Void Spirit Root, Wang Lu's keen sense of the surrounding spiritual energy was far beyond than that of ordinary cultivators. Consequently, in his more than two years of life in the sect, when he has nothing to do, he learned one of the sect's miscellaneous skill: Energy Gazing Method.
There were many factors influencing the change in the surrounding spiritual energy; in which, the behavior of the living things was the overwhelming majority, especially humans… The change in the surrounding spiritual energy would be more complicated in a place filled with people than that of a desolate place. The most important part in the so-called Energy Gazing Method was the ability to deduce what caused the change in the surrounding spiritual energy.
Two and a half years ago, as one of the most remote mountain village in the Nine Regions, the spiritual energy on the Wang Family Village was quite active but not intense, just like a pretty daughter in a humble family. If one wanted to describe it in color, it would be light green. However, right now, his eyes could see that it was infected with a trace of withered yellow. Although he was not able to meticulously analyze further with his current cultivation level, but based on this trace of yellow, Wang Lu was able to make a preliminary judgment.
There were many possibilities. One of them was a year-long drought, causing the vitality to wither. However, looking at the greenery-filled Dog Ear Mountain, that possibility was highly unlikely!
Another possibility was the passing of an important figure in the village. However, based on the situation in the Wang Family Village, even if the one who passed away was the Village Head or the richest man, Master Wang, it would not so drastically influence the change in the spiritual energy on the mountain. In Wang Family Village, besides Wang Lu and Wang Zhong, these two people, the rest were all ordinary people, and since the village structure was simple and strong, if it were just one people missing, it would cause no disturbance.
The last possibility—demonic people spreading evil influence.
Thinking to this, Wang Lu discarded any practical question and quickly hasten his pace, rushing straight up the mountain.
After crossing the tallest peak of the Dog Ear Mountain, Wang Lu finally saw the Wang Family Village again. The village seemed like it didn't change much in these two and a half years. With his now amazing eyesight, Wang Lu could clearly see those who were busy working on the field, the happy smile of the hardworking farmers, someone scolding a naughty kid, an annoyed spoiled woman… However, the area was filled with withered yellow aura, which made it look like a solemn place that was hard to forget.
With his observation to no avail even after looking over from the top of the hill, Wang Lu thought, "I might as well go talk to dad. It's not as if this is a dangerous place. I am a grand Immortal Cultivator, so why should I be afraid of the slightest thing?"
Thereupon, without putting on any air, and with a face filled with the windblown dust of non-stop journey, Wang Lu walked into the Wang Family Village, straight towards the eastern part of the village on that spacious house that was his home.
However, the strange thing was, all the villagers that he encountered along the way looked at him with a strange vision as if watching an endangered strange beast, curious with a hint of pity. Even the greetings were awkward. Several times, Wang Lu had tried to warmly greet them, but all were met with awkward or even lukewarm feedback.
"Sh*t! What the hell is happening here?" Wang Lu thought as his brows wrinkled even tighter. His intuition about the change in the village seemed thornier than what he imagined. "All these years, I never once missed sending letters here. Although I don't know why I never received any reply, at least the villagers should know of my Immortal Cultivator identity… In the past, that idiot Wang Xiaohu made the villagers envy just because he had been cheated into paying a hundred thousand spirit stones to enter Seven Stars Sect, yet now all of them when looking at me, a Successor Disciple of one of the top five sects, have pity in their eyes, instead of looking looking at me as if I am the Heavenly General who descended on earth. It's as if there was something about me that needs to be pitied about? Their subtle hostility is even more bewildering."
"Why are they hostile to a cultivator that could flatten their mountain village in just half a day? Were their brains eaten by maggots?"
While he was still thinking, he suddenly heard a nearby person greeting him.
"Aren't you Wang Fugui's son?"
Wang Fugui was the name of Wang Lu's father. It was just that since he became the village's richest man and have dealings with the head of the county, people politely called him Master Wang. Even the second richest man, Wang Dafu, had to politely called him brother Wang… But there was one person who still called him directly by name.
The old Village Head of the Wang Family Village, Wang Qinian.
Wang Lu turned around and saw, sure enough, the graying beard and kindly face of an old man. In his impression, while he was still in the village, this old Village Head was a really nice guy. He had a generous personality and no shortage of wisdom; he was indeed worthy to be a respected Village Head. Wang Lu had even brought him a special souvenir when he descended the mountain...
"Ai, come with me."
The old man sighed and beckoned at him. Although he was filled with doubts, Wang Lu still followed him. Before long, they came to the village head house.
"Please come in and take a seat."
After sitting in the room, before Wang Lu even had the chance to speak, the village head lovingly patted his head.
"It's been two years since you've gone, you've grown up now."
Hearing this emotional well wishes, Wang Lu laughed. "I'm in my puberty."
"Wandering outside for more than two years… it must be hard on you?"
"Yes, but it's not too hard."
"That's good, that's good…" Wang Qinian nodded approvingly. And then he heaved a sigh. "These past few years, a lot has happened in our village."
Aware that the conversation would focus on the meat of the problem, Wang Lu leaned forward a bit and asked with a serious look. "I can already see it. There must be evil doers running rampant here."
In Wang Lu's view, that was a probing remark. Though it was slightly aggressive, considering his past relationship with the Village Head, it was nothing. The reason why the Village Head invited him to his house was definitely to discuss this very topic. If he, as an Immortal Cultivator from a famous sect, just beat around the bush, it would instead drop his status. So, he might as well went straight to the point.
However, upon hearing this, Wang Qinian's countenance greatly changed. "H-how could you dare say such a thing!? If those Daoist Immortals hear you, it would not end well!"
Wang Lu was immediately startled. "Where would there be such Daoist Immortals? Since the end of the Age of Chaos six thousand years ago, no one has ever soared to immortality… Even in the Age of Fantasy, the existence of Immortals is only a legend."
Wang Qinian shook his head. "I don't know what you mean by the end of the Age of Chaos and so on, but.. .alas, it was indeed just like that child Xiaohu said, you've been deceived by other people too deep in these past two years!"
"F*ck me! What the hell is this? Do you even know who Wang Xiaohu is? Where did this word 'been deceived' even come from? Was it because I've been cheated out by that no-moral-integrity Wang Wu quite a few times? If so, how could this old Village Head know the internal affair of the Spirit Sword Sect? I've never talked about my Master in all of my letters; I never talked behind her back because I always spray it directly on her face!"