Plundering The Heavens - Chapter 7
Chapter 7: The Bell That Ends All
Translator: Actias-Myriea Editor: Nou
Tens of thousands of daotong were recruited each year to help maintain the two thousand acres of fields owned by the Qing-Yun Sect, and each of them received a [Qing-Yun's Qi Formation] manual upon recruitment. They wouldn't be given any teachings or help, but there was always one or two that would manage to cultivate traces of Qi either through their wits or simply through sheer luck.
To the rest of the daotong, these people were considered geniuses favored by the gods.
’’My dear brothers, I'm off! Let's drink again when I come back for a visit!’’
In the early morning, Fang Xing had already packed his cloth-bundle and could be seen saying goodbye to everyone at their C-Ranked herb field.
All five of them Wang, Freckle-Boy, Ghost-Face, Mousy, and Bowlegs stood quietly in admiration at the front of the wooden cabin. It had been beyond their wildest imaginations that this child they once thought cruel beyond his years would soon become an outer court disciple, and all within a matter of months.
They had seen how Fang Xing worked so hard in meditating and practicing the manual, but this was considered normal: a phase of enthusiasm. They would eventually accept their fate and give up their fantasies of becoming a Spirit Cultivator to settle down as an ordinary person.
No one had known that Fang Xing had already achieved the first tier of the Spirit Stage until he announced the night before that he would be ringing the Samsara Bell.
’’Laoda! I knew you weren't some ordinary person like us! When you do become an outer court disciple... please don't forget us, your brothers,’’ Wang said sincerely, struggling not to cry. Freckle-Boy, on the other hand, had already burst out into tears.
’’Stop being such a crybaby! Your laoda isn't dying, I'm just getting a promotion for god's sake! You dumbasses just remember what I told you last night about the weed;I worked hard on figuring this all out so you better keep it a secret. As long as you do as I've told you, I'll be your laoda again when you come and join me in the outer court!’’
’’But it's... well, the method you told us... it's a bit... bizarre. But we'll remember it!’’ All of them expressed disbelief and hesitation when the Hwa'jin method was mentioned.
Fang Xing smiled. He had already told them everything he had figured out about using the energy from Jing to transform and guide Qi into the meridians and step into Spirit Stage;whether they believed it or not was up to them.
’’Alright, my brothers, I'm off now! See all of you later!’’ After waving his hands, Fang Xing turned his back and walked towards the paved paths leading into the depths of the back mountain.
’’Best wishes to you Laoda Fang Xing!’’ All of the boys had emotional expressions, each of them seeming saddened by Fang Xing's departure. As Fang Xing's silhouette disappeared into the distance, however, all of the daotong straightened up their backs in relief, wiping off their tears as they looked to each other. A sigh rang out almost in unison:
’’That monster is finally gone!’’
’’I haven't had a good sleep in the past few months he's been here...’’
’’Thank you, my lord! Maybe our lives can finally go back to normal again...’’
Completely unaware of what the daotong were saying about him behind his back, Fang Xing walked along the path towards the back mountain of the sect. It was also from here that one could truly appreciate just how vast the Qing-Yun Sect really was;mystical fogs cascaded along the mountain in a slow manner, but with a gentle blow of wind the fogs would disappear and beautiful temples could be seen.
The fields only went as far as the foot of the mountain, while pine trees and stone stairs led up to the quaint pavilion at its peak. Inside was a large bronze bell covered by moss, and as Fang Xing approached the top of the pavilion, he saw a plaque:
Upon the bell's toll
A life ends to start anew
Soar up high and far
’’I wonder if this is it?’’ Fang Xing muttered to himself, walking up to the pavilion before gently stroking the moss-covered bell. ’’So this must be the Samsara Bell I need to ring in order to become an outer court disciple.’’
As soon as Fang Xing confirmed that it was the right place, he gave the bell a push.
'Samsara Bell. Low-Grade Spirit Tool. Can only be activated through Qi. The sound of its ring will extend over three miles...'
Confused, Fang Xing had concentrated on the bell, activating his [Book of Revelation].
’’I see how it is now. Qing-Yun and immortality, here I come! And Xiao Jianmin, you better watch out;the tenth bandit of the Guiyan Valley is finally here!’’ Taking a deep breath, Fang Xing circulated some Qi into his dantian before releasing it all in one go towards the bell.
The bronze bell rang out with a low and deep sound, startling a flock of birds and causing them to fly off.
Three chimes later, Fang Xing quietly stood to the side, waiting patiently for someone to come and fetch him.
’’The bell chimes again, has another daotong managed to cultivate Qi?’’
’’I wonder if it's someone with really good zi'zhi or just another one with dumb luck.’’
The bell could be heard across the Qing-Yun Sect. Naps were disturbed, some showed interest, others laughed in disdain, and others ignored it altogether to go back to their sleep.
Within seconds, a shadow could be seen flying towards the pavilion: a thin man with fair skin donning the cyan robes of the sect. His hair was neatly arranged with a wooden hair clasp, giving him a dashing appearance at odds with his expressionless face.
The young man came up to Fang Xing, checking him from top to bottom before coldly speaking, ’’So you're the one that rang the bell? What is your name?’’
’’Dear Shixiong, my name is Fang Xin. I'm a daotong from the C-Rank herb fields, and I am pleased to meet you.’’ Fang Xing answered politely unlike his usual self;he'd seen that the man had already achieved tier four of the Spirit Stage through his [Book of Revelation].
’’Good. Come with me.’’ The young man satisfied with Fang Xing's manners nodded before grabbing his arm, storming towards another peak.
The speed was so fast that all Fang Xing could feel was the frigid wind cutting at his skin while the thin man pulled him along.
'What is this? Trying to show off ' as Fang Xing thought to himself, he suddenly remembered that he, too, could use Qi to fend off the wind.
After Fang Xing utilized his Qi, he could finally open his eyes again. They were traveling at an exceptional speed towards one of the sect's seven tallest mountain peaks.
’’Elder Gao, he's here.’’ The thin man finally came to a halt, his hands folded as he moved to politely stand in front of a garret room.
’’Let him in,’’ an aged voice ordered as the door opened. The thin man gave Fang Xing a slight push, sending him tumbling into the room.
’’Sh*t! How dare you push me ’’ Fang Xing had unconsciously released a loud curse before feeling the gaze of another on him.
’’How did you manage to cultivate Qi?’’ that same aged voice sounded again, though this time the voice was as if it was pounding directly into his brain.
Fang Xing turned around to see an ordinary man with wrinkles all over his face, his white hair laid neatly on either side of his shoulders. A shadow hid half of the aged man's face deepening his mystery as Fang Xing looked at him and his eyes were unfitting of a man his age: they were extremely bright, almost as if they had the ability to see through every lie.
'Eh? I can't see his cultivation stage,' Fang Xing had sneakily tried to gauge the old man only to find out that the [Book of Revelation] couldn't get any information out of him.
When the [Book of Revelation] was activated for appraisals, a small amount of Qi was required, especially for people. The higher the cultivation stage, the higher the amount of Qi needed. In this case, even if Fang Xing were to use all the Qi he had accumulated, it would still not be enough to appraise the old man;in other words, this old man was well beyond what Fang Xing could even comprehend.
’’I... I ate the Hwa'jin weed.’’ Fang Xing decided to tell the truth, assuming that the old man would see through him if he lied.
’’Another one,’’ the old man sighed out, disappointed. ’’Well, I guess it must be fate that you discovered the usage of the weed. You are now an outer court disciple;take this token as proof of your status to Qing-Mu Hall and someone will be there to help you with your accommodations.’’
Seeming disappointed, the old man threw a small, dark wooden block towards Fang Xing after telling him to leave. A drop of Fang Xing's blood was fused into the block with a few words carved into the wood.
’’That's it?’’ Fang Xing stood in disbelief outside of the garret, the door closing shut behind him. He hadn't thought it would be that easy.
'What he said... does that mean a lot of people already know about the usage of Hwa'jin?' Fang Xing wondered confusedly before flipping his wooden block. Carved on the back in bold was a single letter: D.
Whatever this meant, it couldn't be good. Even the herb fields were graded in the same system, with Fang Xing's herb field ranked 'C'. With only four total ranks in the sect, it had been the second worst quality.
As for the Hwa'jin, what Fang Xing didn't know was that its usage had been well-researched and was common knowledge among the elders of the sect. However, the reason no one else of the lower ranks knew anything about it was because the elders had purposefully not allowed it to spread;they didn't want an influx of disciples with very poor zi'zhi.
After all, even if those people did manage to step into the Spirit Stage, they would most likely remain in the lower tiers to the day they died.
Despite this, the elders also believed in fate. If someone was able to discover this secret by themselves, they might be either an extremely lucky or highly intelligent individual who could persevere through hardship: common qualities for those who tended to go further in the world of cultivation.