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Plundering The Heavens - Chapter 69

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Chapter 69: The Grand Hall of Promotions

Translator: Myriea Editor: Nou

The Peak of the Flying Stone was located on the west side of the Qing-Yun Sect, and its Qi was so abundant that it ranked among the top three for amount. On top of the peak stood the Grand Hall of Promotions, a hall that was used for the sole purpose of measuring the capabilities of an outer court disciple after they had satisfied the minimum requirement of Spirit Stage tier four.

A disciple would only be accepted into the inner court if they passed the assessment process, where an inner court elder would usually question the disciple's background and evaluate their strength. The disciple then had to stand before the Qing-Yun Sect's ancestral memorial and vow to follow the Three Rules and Twelve Admonitions, before finally placing their very own Soul Lantern in front of it. Only then could they become a recognized disciple of the Qing-Yun.

With his hands folded comfortably against his back, Fang Xing arrived at the Peak of the Flying Stone at last. The path had been a tough journey on its own;branches and thorny vines had long since overrun it, as only a handful of disciples traveled on it every ten years. The trek had been an exact mirror to the very first words of wisdom the sect gave to its disciples: the path of cultivation is long and arduous.

As it was for any sect, it was not the thousand-plus outer court disciples that made or broke the entire sect, but those of the inner court. The Qing-Yun Sect had merely a hundred inner court disciples, and when these hundred or so disciples had grown, they would be the ones to either become a new generation of elders or be tasked with improving the sect's profits and image, be it indirectly at its various branches and spirit mines, or directly through the slaying of beasts and demons.

The thousand or so outer court disciples would usually return home or create their own clans and help generate prestige and wealth for the Qing-Yun Sect from within the mortal realm. Of course, there was always a large number of them that would die in the course of a Duty Talisman mission.

In front of the Grand Hall was a massive drum the size of a large house with its shape stretching a hundred feet above the ground. A Foundation Stage Jiaolong[1] was painted on the front of the drum, and a single strike against it could send the sound traveling hundreds of miles into the distance. It was called the ’’Drum of Awakening’’.

Next to the drum was its stick. Legend said that it had been made from the longest bone of a Golden Core Stage[2] Nine-Headed Lion King that had been slain by the Qing-Yun Sect's great grand elder Yang Huayu, some thousand years ago. It was called the ’’Mallet of Quivering Heaven’’.

Using this particular drum and stick together as a pair would send out a message that could reach even the mortal realm. It was a message that declared a new disciple had joined the inner court and that the Qing-Yun Sect's name would forever live on through the new generations of cultivators.

There were not many people at the Grand Hall of Promotions, and it was solemnly peaceful. Only a couple of daotong could be seen sweeping its front steps, and once they saw Fang Xing, they all began to show curious glances.

’’Dear Shixiong, please return back down. A person cannot enter the Grand Hall of Promotions as they please,’’ a small daotong advised Fang Xing in a kindly manner. Only those outer court disciples in the fourth tier were eligible to come to the Grand Hall, and Fang Xing didn't look much older than they were;no matter which way they looked, he did not look like somebody who had already achieved tier four.

Fang Xing laughed. ’’Well said! Here's your reward!’’ He then threw three Spirit Stones to them, one for each of the daotong.

The three all looked at each other, confused by his words and unaware that what they had just spoken filled Fang Xing with great joy. It was a given that the Grand Hall could not be entered as anybody pleased;only people like himself a genius could do so. What the daotong said was not incorrect and they thusly deserved a reward.

As the small daotong was about to continue his warning, Fang Xing began to ignore him completely. He jumped up and used both of his hands to grab the pillar-like stick beside the drum before with a loud howl he slammed it right against the drum's center.

DOOON

The sound was low and heavy like that of thunder, and it reverberated out across the entire sect. Fang Xing was so excited that he couldn't stop. Note after note, it was as though a thunderstorm was forming right in front of the Grand Hall.

All three daotong had their eyes wide open in amazement. The drum could only be rung by those with a minimum of Spirit Stage tier four, yet this boy who seemed to be of a similar age as them was able to sound it out nonstop. It was obvious now that he had reached tier four.

The nonstop thunderclaps interrupted many of those who had been immersed in their Qi fluctuations and practice. ’’Someone is going to become an inner court disciple? Who is it?’’ Many had been practicing hard to claim the distinction of being the first new disciple to join the inner court, yet it seemed someone else had taken that spot.

’’It's been less than a year, yet someone is already ready to become an inner court disciple? I wonder if it's someone from the previous batch or if it's a new recruit.’’ Numerous elders had also been surprised and they all looked towards the Peak of the Flying Stone with curiosity.

The plump Taoist was still filled with tears of joy, for he knew that it was Fang Xing who had banged the drum.

Meng Xuanzhao, on the other hand, was filled with anger during the process of begging with his stern-faced uncle.

Within the black bamboo forest, both the yellow-dressed female and the dark-faced man heard the drum sound as well. The dark-faced man smiled with bitterness before speaking, ’’Can't believe we made a bet to see which one of us would become the first new inner court disciple. Who would have thought that the first person would be that boy with no background or wealth? This is truly embarrassing for all of us. What do you think, Shijie Qin?’’

The yellow-dressed female's reply was calm, ’’May as well befriend him instead of being friends with Meng Xuanzhao. I'll definitely befriend him if there's a chance.’’

’’Indeed. It's lucky we haven't gotten ourselves on his bad side this time!’’ the dark-faced man agreed and continued with his bitter smile.

On the Qing-Yun Sect's main peak the Peak of divine Epoch was a black-haired elder and a white-haired youth seated beneath an ancient giant pine tree. Their game of Weiqi had finally reached its final stages, and the black-haired elder was visibly frowning at the state of the board while holding a stone piece in his hand. It had been ten days since the last stone had been placed on the Weiqi board, and the white-haired youth in contrast had a slight smile on his face.

At the sound of the drum, the white-haired youth spread his Spirit Sense[3], and he was left slightly surprised after it swept across the Grand Hall of Promotions. ’’Hmph? The kid is joining the inner court already? Although that's about right, timewise....’’

After three strikes of the [Drum of Awakening], three elderly men floated out of the Grand Hall of Promotions. The leftmost man had a thin face with eagle-sharp eyes, a small brush of beard, and an imposing aura about his body. The man in the middle was pale-faced and aged, yet his gaze was warm and restrained. The man on the right was the shortest of the three and wore a long black robe with a bald head. Fang Xing could not make out any of their specific cultivation levels.

With Fang Xing's current level and the aid of his [Book of Revelation], a single glance would allow him to identify another person's cultivation tier as long as they were within Spirit Stage. Being unable to see theirs meant they were all within the Foundation Stage at the very least.

Once all three of them had appeared, the bearded elder bellowed, ’’Who sounded the Drum of Awakening?’’

Fang Xing kneeled on one knee and responded with a clear call, ’’Outer court disciple Fang Xing! I have broken through into tier four and wish to join the inner court to continue my studies of cultivation!’’

The bearded elder took a glance at Fang Xing, his face showing surprise at seeing someone so young. Typically, young saplings with great potential or zi'zhi would be recruited personally by one of the four chief elders immediately after appearing within a certain distance of the sect. An example of this could be seen in what happened with Xiao Mahn;she had been recruited by Danxia Valley's Chief Elder Qin'nyao and given a direct pass to the inner court due to the properties of her special elemental blood. It was therefore a rare sight for someone as young as Fang Xing to move their way from the outer court to the inner court.

However, the bearded elder did not question it any further and simply nodded. ’’Come with me!’’

All three elders guided Fang Xing into the Grand Hall of Promotions. Its inner pass was extremely spacious four hundred yards wide and over two hundred yards long and in its center was a giant stone pillar that supported its arched ceiling. At the end of the pass hung a grand portrait of a blue-robed elderly Taoist: the founder of the Qing-Yun Sect from three thousand years ago Yun Youzi.

Beneath the portrait was a copper table filled with five thick manuals, the five signature techniques of the Qing-Yun. Under the first table was a smaller table with a copper lantern, currently unlit.

In front of the grand portrait, the three elders bowed to their founder Yun Youzi before turning to face Fang Xing. ’’Fang Xing, where are you from? What are your roots?’’ The leftmost elder asked. His voice sounded deep and distant, as though it was piercing right into Fang Xing's heart and forcing his consciousness to speak nothing but truth.

Even though this was perhaps useful in the mortal realm, even though Fang Xing wasn't very old, his mind was strong and his will determined. At the elder's questioning, he responded with a background he had fabricated a long time ago, ’’I was born in the town of Yuchao, of the Qinliu county, on the west side of the Chufung Kingdom. When the entire town was being murdered by the Drought Demon, I was able to escape death by hiding inside the memorial hall of our ancestors. I was then left wandering by myself until I found myself here today....’’

What Fang Xing spoke of was a town close to the Guiyan Valley, and there had indeed been a Drought Demon that had murdered everyone within. A rogue cultivator[4] had been passing by and decided to uphold justice by finishing off the Drought Demon, and it became an incident that was somewhat well-known throughout the entire Chufung Kingdom.

Fang Xing had actually fabricated this story even before joining the sect as a daotong. If he was ever asked, this was his background.

The elder nodded. He couldn't feel anything wrong or unusual about either Fang Xing's words or emotions, and so looked to the next person.

’’Fang Xing, since you would like to join the inner court, would you be able to uphold the Three Rules and Twelve Admonitions?’’

’’I would!’’

’’Good! Recite after me.’’

’’Yes, sir!’’

’’I, Qing-Yun Sect Disciple Fang Xing, am willing to uphold the Three Rules and Twelve Admonitions. The first rule is to never betray the sect...’’

NOTES

[1]Jiaolong: An aquatic dragon in Chinese mythology that could take on many different forms (this term first appeared in Chapter 30: Bait).

[2]Golden Core Stage: The cultivation stage reached after the full mastery of Foundation Stage (Spirit Stage >Foundation Stage >Golden Core Stage).

[3]Spirit Sense: Formed by Qi, and can be used to see things beyond one's physical location.

[4]rogue cultivator: An independent cultivator that isn't associated with a sect, clan, or organization. They usually practice cultivation without restrictions.



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