“That’s true, they rarely take in male candidates. But you’ll probably pass with a reference letter from a Xiantian Saint.” The girl blinked her eyes, making a suggestion.
“I doubt it. That Phoenix Sect senior thought that the Black Tortoise Sect fit me better... But you seem rather well informed of the sects matter.” Shi Mu asked in a cool voice, concealing the little surprise in his heart.
“Not that well informed. One of my ancestors used to be a Black Tortoise disciple before he retired to the secular world to build our family. In fact, everyone here has in one form or another a connection to the sect. By the way, if I recall correctly, your name is Shi Mu, right? Mine is Han Xiang Xiu.” The girl broke into a bright smile after saying so. Despite her young age, her little breasts were already round and shapely, as ample as could be, tantalizing as fragrant fruits on a tree within reach. Her body had been curved enough to draw the avaricious eyes of men of all ages. The sight of Han Xiang Xiu talking pleasantly with Shi Mu had definitely angered some of the male candidates, who were casting hostile, jealous gazes on this lucky young man. If it was not for Shi Mu’s stature and his tough appearance, some may have already ventured to teach him a lesson on how one is supposed to treat a beautiful girl.
Shi Mu, however, did not show any interest in this female beauty. He only gave a few cursory answers before closing his eyes to save energy.
Time went by slowly. The feeling of camaraderie had wanned after the young candidates had ran out of things to talk about. Gradually they grew bored and listless, they were mere teenagers after all. It was not before long when many started to imitate Shi Mu, quietly resting with their eyes closed. Eventually, some grey-robed men appeared with warm, delicious-looking food which was quickly eaten up by starving young boys and girls. Only Shi Mu remained at his spot, taking out two rock-hard steamed buns and eating unhurriedly by himself without a word, which drew more unfriendly looks from the other candidates. Seeing that Shi Mu did not care the least about others’ opinions, Han XiangXiu grew even more curious of him, inquiring frequently about all kinds of things, from questions about the sects to questions of personal matters. Shi Mu was not ready to waste his time thinking out answers to all her questions, so he politely gave the most minimal answers possible.
After the meal, all the candidates felt drowsy, and soon the whole room was fast asleep. Then the grey-robed men again entered the rooms to clear up the dishes and left silently, not forgetting to lock each door with a heavy iron lock.
In Shi Mu’s room, someone who had been lying on the ground slowly started to sit up. After a glance at the tightly locked door, he turned to look around and questioned with a serious face,
“I am Ma Fei Yun, to anyone who is awake, please get up, you don’t need to fake sleep anymore.”
“I’m awake. I didn’t actually touch the food.”
“I also didn’t eat the food. I knew there was something wrong at first glance. Everything seemed different from what my parents told me.”
“Humph, I ate some, but how could such weak sleep powder affect me?”
The ground, which should have been covered with the sleeping teenagers was now stirred by two boys and one girl who had sat up. And the girl was none other than Han Xiang Xiu. As for Shi Mu, who had been leaning against the wall the entire time, he was also awake. Opening his eyes, he did not utter a word, and simply sat there, waiting. The first speaker was a young man with refined features. His keen eyes looked over the candidates who were awake. It was obvious he was annoyed that Shi Mu was one of the ones was stayed awake. In a solemn voice he made a speech,
“I assume we all can agree that these men are not the Black Tortoise disciples that should have picked us up at the port? This knowledge makes it easier for us to plan our next steps. If we stay here we will probably end up being killed and buried where no one can find us. Now that they think they’ve put all of us into sleep, they must have grown slack, so this should be our best chance to flee. I’m ready to leave now, are any of you coming with me?”
“I couldn’t agree more. If they are not Black Tortoise disciples, then they must be one of the Black Tortoise Sect’s enemies. I’m all in for getting out of here as soon as possible.” Han Xiang Xiu was the first to nod her approval.
The other two male candidates, one with big mouth and the other long hair, both nodded seriously.
“Brother Shi, why not come with us?” Han Xiang Xiu asked Shi Mu.
“No need. I feel quite comfortable right here. Oh, a small bit of advice, you’d better stay here for a little while longer.” Shi Mu’s eyes flashed as he answered with a stony face.
“What makes you say that?” Hearing this Han Xiang Xiu was startled. She hurriedly asked, her face somewhat pale. The other two candidates also showed expression of hesitation.
However, Shi Mu only shook his head and would not explain any further.
“Humph! You coward! Stay if you like! Sister Han, let’s go together.” Ma Yun Fei snorted in contempt and encouraged Han Xiang Xiu in a coaxing voice.
“Brother Ma, I also think we should wait a little longer and see what happens.” Han Xiang Xiu gave Shi mu’s recommendation some thought before she answered with a forced smile.
Ma Yun Fei’s face changed, disappointed that she was not as timid as he thought she was. Turning his head to look at the other two candidates, all he could find was silence and lowered heads. After stomping with anger he said, “Well, then I shall leave first. Sister, hopefully your confidence returns soon.” As soon as he finished the good-bye, he took out a silver-handled dagger, with sharp edges, and stabbed into the floor with all his strength. “Peng!” To his surprise, a loud noise, like that of metal clanging, resounded as the dagger collided with the floor. Ma Yun Fei quickly scraped the floor, and was even more surprised to find some dark metal glowing beneath the surface.
“This is Iron Wood, found exclusively in the Iron Thistles Island in the Eastern Sea, moreover, it is at least a hundred years old!”
Ma Fei Yun sucked in a cold breath, his expression complex. Before he knew it, he found himself scraping the floor wildly in the room, and all the places he tried to cut resounded with metallic clangs.
Just then a cold voice came from the door. “Stop wasting your strength. This entire vessel is built from one hundred year old Iron Wood. You wouldn’t find a single crevice even if you scraped every patch of the floor.”
The candidates were all astonished to find the large blue-robed man standing with his arms crossed at the door, and nobody had heard the door open. He was looking at Ma Fei Yun like one looks at a dead animal.
“Senior, no, I’m not......” Ma Yun Fei was frightened out of his wits, his face blanching in fear. Just as he tried to hide the dagger behind his back, the large man lifted his hand and struck at him with his palm.
“Thud!” The hapless boy let out a heart-rending cry as he was sent flying through the air from the strength of the blow. He body thudded to the ground, his mouth and nose bleeding, his chest struck sunken into his body. Obviously he was beyond the power of medicine now.
“Haven’t I warned you? Anyone who dares to challenge me will be given a lesson! Servants, come throw this boy’s body into water! The fishes will have a good meal tonight.” The large man lowered his arm and made the order in a brutal voice.
Instantly two grey-robed servants came and carried the still breathing Ma Fei Yun out of the room.
The large man swept the room with fierce eyes once more. Then he sneered and left the room.
The door was once again locked.