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Chapter 123 - An Order of Transfer

One day, when Shi Mu was absorbed in drawing charms in his stone room when he heard someone knocking at his door. He raised his eyebrows and stood up to open it. He had expected another disciple coming for charms, but it was Jin Chen’s tall figure standing at his door, which surprised him a little.

“What has brought Brother Jin here?” Shi Mu led him in and asked, some doubt in his voice.

Jin Chen did not answer immediately, but scanned the room and then rested his eyes on the table. There was some magic paper lying disorderly on it alongside a bottle of ink and a writing brush. Several charms had already been finished.

“Brother Shi is so hard-working. Why not take some time and rest? You’ve just come back from a mission.” Jin Chen laughed uneasily and did not mention his reason for coming.

“Senior, you are joking. I just feel dull doing nothing, so drawing charms serves to kill time.” Shi Mu smiled.

Jin Chen picked up the charms Shi Mu had just finished and studied them for a while.

“Brother Shi is really smart - I think I’d even call him a genius - your strokes are smooth, and the charms are full of spirit power. Moreover, you’ve got quite the knack for it. I can tell from the charms themselves. I’ve seen other Adepts drawing charms, including some Adepts of the Spirit Rank, but even they cannot beat you in your success rate. The more I think of your skills, the more I felt it a pity that our stronghold can’t enjoy your presence any longer.” Jin Chen sighed genuinely and spoke in a regretful tone.

“What does Brother Jin mean? Why can’t I stay here?” Shi Mu was taken unprepared, asking with a wary expression on his face.

“Well, I have just received an order of transfer from the union, saying that Brother Shi should be transferred to the Northeast stronghold. I’ve got nothing in hand today, so I thought, ‘why not pay Shi Mu a visit’. And now I’m here.” Jin Chen uttered another laugh and fished out a jade slip from his shirt, passing it to Shi Mu.

Shi Mu was dazed by this sudden news, and, with a blank look, he received the jade slip and read it. It turned out that this was really an order of transfer signed by the union. It says that he should come and report for duty in a secret stronghold in the Xuan Ling Mountains within ten days. The location was noted in a map that indicated the surrounding terrain of the stronghold.

Shi Mu was quite delighted to see the order. As the map showed, the indicated stronghold was quite far from battlefront, and it must be much safer than here. Though the jade slip did not specify the reason why he was transferred, it is never a bad thing to be transferred to the rear.

“Sorry for giving senior Jin so much trouble. I will follow the order of the union and set out immediately.” Shi Mu put away the jade slip and cupped his hands to Jin Chen.

“May I ask brother Shi for a favor before you leave?” Jin Chen ventured the words in an embarrassed voice, after having hesitated for a short while.

“Just speak, brother Jin. I’ll do everything I can to help you.” Shi Mu answered without thinking.

“Thank you very much, brother Shi. On behalf of all the disciples in this stronghold, I express my genuine gratitude to you. You know the war is rough and the consumption of charms is always more than we can supply. I hope brother Shi can draw some charms for us before he leaves. To be frank, when you came back I intended to ask you after you had fully recovered, but now that this order has come... It’d be too late if I didn’t ask you now. I have listed the materials and the required charms here, and the reward of feat points for these charms will be fifty percent more than usual.” Jin Chen cupped his hands and then took out a jade slip, along with a pile of magic papers, from his sleeves, putting them on the table, then carefully handing Shi Mu several heavenly stones.

“Rest assured, brother Jin, I will finish the task on time.” Shi Mu smiled and promised with an easy heart. He had quite a good opinion of the commander of this stronghold, who was always peaceful and fair to his fellow disciples. This task, though urgent, could bring him more feat points, as well as the opportunity of practicing charms, so he would not decline the offer.

Seeing Shi Mu’s radiating face, Jin Chen let out a sigh of relief, and happily thanked him for another minute before he left Shi Mu to his business.


Ten days later, deep in the Xuan Ling Mountains. At the foot of the mountain which soared thousands of meters skyward, a young man, strongly built, and clad in a black short jacket, was standing on a huge stone, scanning his environment. The space between his eyebrows contorted slightly. He was none other than Shi Mu, who had made his way here as told by the map, but strangely, no one came out to welcome hims after he had wandered around the area for a while.

“The door must have been covered by a formula. Maybe they expect me to find it myself?” Shi Mu wondered in doubt. He was still new to formula arts, so it was not easy for him to see through a formula set by others. [TL: Does our author really mean this? I think Shi Mu is quite skilful in formulas, isn't he?] But, still, he had his own ways.

Shi Mu jumped down from the huge stone and narrowed his eyes, his pupils becoming golden, then he observed the ground closely. After a while, he squatted down near a patch of grass where a blurred footprint could be distinctly seen. The footprint was either not fresh or had been washed by the rain, which made it indiscernible to ordinary eyes. However, Shi Mu smiled with a hint of pride. Though quite shallow, the footprint could not elude his eyes, under which it looked like a mark left by a huge prehistoric elephant trampling the grass.

Shi Mu stood up to follow the direction of the footprints. Ahead of it, many traces followed, though some were left on raw stones or solid ground and thus were very swallow and hard to be recognized. He still found the right direction to track along. The marks grew clearer as he went ahead, all leading in the same direction, which boosted Shi Mu’s confidence even more.

After a while, he arrived at the front of a cliff where all the traces converged and disappeared. The golden light in his eyes faded, and he stared at the cliff closely before gently rested his hand the surface, feeling for its texture. Suddenly, the stone felt softened, and before he knew it his hand sank into the cliff, as if it was made of some liquid.

“That’s it…” Shi Mu nodded and took back his arm.

Just then the cliff shined and cracked a slit, where a man in green was standing with an inscrutable smile.

“You must be Shi Mu from the Black Demon Sect. Welcome to the Rat’s Nest, I am called Mountain Green, from the Ethereal Phoenix Sect.” The man ran his sharp eyes over Shi Mu and said with the same smile.

“Yes, this is Shi Mu. Thank you for welcoming me, Brother Green.” Shi Mu took out the identity token of the union and the jade slip containing the order of transfer.

“Come in!” Mountain Green did not receive the stuff but stepped aside to invite Shi Mu in.

[ED: Yet another thing that I have not read. ^.^; {Added to “To Read” list}]

After a while, they arrived at a stately stone door again.

“The hall you just saw is where the workers make charm paper, and here is the place for the elite Charm Adepts to draw charms. You are new here, so don’t hesitate to ask others for advice whenever you feel the need.” Mountain Green said this amiably - showing a very different attitude than the one he had shown the workers earlier - He pulled out the white jade again, and, again, opened a large stone door.

There was another huge hall inside the door. The ceiling was shaped like an arch vault, dotted with white chandeliers every ten meters, which illuminated the entire space. There were many stone desks laid in a very orderly manner throughout the hall, and all the nations’ blank charm papers, magic brushes, and ink seemed to have convened. There were almost thirty of these desks, each occupied by men who were either sitting there thinking, engaged in drawing formulas, or discussing having soft, yet serious, discussions with their neighbors.

There were some other individual rooms around the desks, all of which were tightly shut, except the one nearest to the exit.

On the other side of the hall towered a huge jade wall, and lines of characters were glittering on it, looking like missions distributed to the Adepts.

Most of the people inside saw them come in, but they only gave a quick glance before they bent their heads again to focus on their tasks. Only a few nodded to Mountain Green briefly before going back to their own business.

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