Zhong Xiu and Shi Mu gasped in shock! The fifth master, an intermediate Houtian Warrior, had been turned into an ice crystal in the blink of an eye. Their savior sighed before turning and removing her hat, revealing herself to be a beautiful woman. Although she looked around forty years old, her aura gave her a graceful bearing that made her as beautiful as any youthful girl. Raising her eyebrows, she seemed as cold as ice. However, her eyes, gazing at Zhong Xiu, were alight with excitement.
“Who would believe, that on an easy errand for old Sun I would come across such a talent! Young miss, may I ask your name? And where are you from?” The woman first muttered something to herself, then turned her face to Zhong Xiu, asking in the most affectionate voice. As for Shi Mu, she did not even cast a cursory glance at him.
“Senior, my name is Xiu Er, I lived with big brother Shi in Feng City until several days ago. We are on the run because we have offended the Jin family" Hearing the woman’s sweet words, Zhong Xiu relaxed and offered the fact.
“The Jin family? Humph, an insignificant clan in an insignificant city. Answer me, would like you to join our Tian Yin Sect, the Ethereal Phoenix Sect? We are one of the three strongest Sects in the Qi Heaven Country, with countless followers. We also have many Secret Arts. Have you ever heard of the Art of Ethereal Resonances? It is the strongest art and the namesake of our clan. Once you reach the Consummate Stage in this art you will be able to reach the Earth Grade, that legendary grade that only elites can reach.” Her voice growing more sincere, the woman spoke persuasively, looking deep into Zhong Xiu’s eyes.
“One of the three strongest sects...The Ethereal Phoenix Sect......May I have a second to think about this? Ah senior! Could you please take look at my big brother Shi’s wounds?” The dazzling names and titles mentioned by the woman confused the girl, and she only gave a vague answer. But she soon remembered Shi Mu's wounds. Her eyes became focused and immediately began to earnestly plea.
“That boy has a strong body, besides none of his wounds are too serious, just a pair of broken arms. His strength will recover in time. Wait. The wounds caused by that palm attack are actually not that easy to heal... Hmmm. You really are lucky this time. Here, take this Blood-Qi Pill.” Zhong Xiu’s entreaty made the woman pause for a moment. Having a brief look at Shi Mu she gently waved her arm and a small white bottle flew out of her sleeve and landed in Shi Mu’s hands. Though she gave him medicine, the young man's wounds were the last thing on her mind at the moment.
However Shi Mu was overjoyed. He tried to lift the bottle but the exertion made him blanch in pain, beads of sweat oozing from his forehead. The pain was not difficult to imagine: who could lift an item, even a small one, with two broken arms without quivering in agonizing pain? The sight hurt Zhong Xiu’s heart. She walked over to Shi Mu and opened the bottle for him, pouring out a fragrant red pill which she handed to Shi Mu as carefully as possible.
Shi Mu opened his mouth and swallowed the pill. Instantly a warm qi streamed within his body, travelling at an amazing speed throughout his body, taking away the numbness and pain of his wounded arms. His spirits were lifted, and Shi Mu directed his eyes in wonder to Wu Tong encased in ice. He could only guess which stage the woman was in. At the same time, Zhong Xiu was still gazing at Shi Mu with a concerned look, which attracted the straw-hatted woman’s attention. She faintly sensed something from the girl's anxious eyes. She glanced at Shi Mu and Zhong Xiu and an idea flashed across her mind. She hastily concealed her excitement to speak in an unhurried manner,
“That Blood-Qi pill is a secret medicine of our sect. It has wondrous healing powers and will help you make great progress in the future.”
“Thank you so much, senior!” Seeing that Shi Mu’s face was regaining a more healthy colour, Zhong Xiu cried out in happiness.
“In return, Xiu Er, let me test your bloodline. It’s highly likely that your bloodline is quite special, but let us test it with official instruments, just in case. “ The straw-hatted woman saw a chance and took it.
“Sure, I will do whatever tests you need, senior.” Another look at Shi Mu and her mind was resolved.
“Good. It is quite fortunate that I’m carrying a Blood Ruyi  with me. With one just one drop of blood, I can accurately determine your blood line! It is by far one of the most sensitive instrument.” Zhong Xiu’s approval delighted the straw-hatted woman greatly. Without delay, she took a white-coloured ruyi out from her sleeve.
Zhong Xiu walked up, biting one of her fingers until it bled, and dripped one drop of blood on the instrument. Immediately, a faint layer of shimmering golden light emerged, floating above the Ruyi. A pleasant melodious sound, like the singing of a phoenix, came from the light. Moreover, some strange unknown white characters began to rise from the surface of the Ruyi.
After reading the white characters briefly, the straw-hatted woman excitedly claimed, “I knew I was right! Your bloodline is exactly the same as the founder of our sect! Only this bloodline can fully display the full potential of the Art of Ethereal Resonances!“
“I have the Grade Three, First Level bloodline, the Bloodline of Phoenix Song?” Zhong Xiu was stunned and slightly confused with the unexpected result. However, the straw-hatted woman could not contain her excitement anymore. She once more pressured Zhong Xiu to join her sect with a serious face and severe tone, “Xiu Er, to tell you the truth, I am Ye HongYao, also known as The Red Herb, and the current leader of The Misty Pavilion in The Ethereal Phoenix Sect. Now, on behalf of my teacher, the leader of the whole sect, I am asking you officially, will you or will you not join The Ethereal Phoenix Sect? If you answer yes, you will enjoy the same status as I do as soon as you enter our sect, which means you will have the highest place among all the young scholars in our sect.”
Zhong Xiu blushed, somewhat tempted by the prospect. She could not help but ask, “If I become a student of your teacher, could I be as strong as you in the future?”
“If you could practice the Art of Ethereal Resonances, even if you only halfway finish it, you’ll be strong enough to defeat any Xiantian warrior, and by then, how could I compare with you?” the Red Herb answered without hesitation.
“This sounds... I really don't have a better place to go to... What do you think big brother Shi?” The girl was apparently moved by the offer, but, after some contemplation, still she deemed it sensible to seek Shi Mu’s advice.
“Are you a Xiantian Sant, senior?” After a brief thought, Shi Mu finally expressed the doubt in his heart.
“You are quite perceptive! I am indeed a Xiantian Saint.” Though she was surprised at Shi Mu’s correct guess, she still answered in an unyielding, proud voice.
“But I’ve heard that there are not even ten Xiantian Saints throughout the Qi Heaven Country?” Now it was Shi Mu’s turn to be surprised.
“For common people, that’s true. The well-known Xiantian Saints are all so-called National Guardians whose title is conferred by the Qi court. But those of us in the Sects are not included, which means we don’t have those official titles. We don’t have business to do with the court, and only send some help when the country is faced with mortal enemies. Actually, you might not believe this, but the Qi court was originally established by our three Sects to achieve a balance among us. If the court dares to offend us, any one sect can annihilate them.” the Red Herb answered with much contempt, the title of National Guardian raising nothing but disdain from her voice.
“So, I take it that all the strong warriors are in Sects!” Shi Mu could not help but blurt out this shocking news.
“Certainly. That is also true with the other two Sects. Considering Xiu Er’s talent, if she enters our sect, becoming a Xiantian Saintis only a matter of time.” Red Herb answered without thinking.
“If so, The Ethereal Phoenix Sect is the best place for you. Miss Zhong, you should go with Senior Ye.” After exhaling a long breath, Shi Mu said this to the girl in a very serious tone of voice.
 ruyi: an S-shaped ornamental object, usually made of jade, formerly a symbol of good luck.