When a Larger Harvest Results in Greater Poverty
For hundreds of years, the Spirit Blade Sect did not hold a Celestial Gathering. Thus, when it finally opened its gates once again, it gained a shockingly large number of new disciples.
From the Garden of Peaches, a total of seventeen challengers embarked on the final trial’s last stretch. And thanks to Wang Lu, fifteen of those seventeen challengers succeeded in overcoming the trial. Other than the two unlucky challengers who gave up too soon, the rest of them all made it successfully to the end, including Hai Yun Fan, Zhu Qin and Wang Zhong’s group. After the tremors in the earth and tears in the fabric of space had ceased, they made a pathetic limp to the finish line.
With only a single swing, Wang Lu had pierced a path through all four remaining trials. The entire Immortal Path had been torn apart, which meant that all the remaining applicants could pass unhindered.
This pleasant surprise left all the applicants in absolute awe, though in the Spirit Blade Sect, things were… a little different. Internally, the entire sect was in chaos and complete disarray. The unexpected gain of so many disciples was a matter that could not be ignored. Even the Ethereal Peak Elder could not decide on how to deal with this matter, and had to bring it up with the Head Elder, who resided at the Stellar Peak.
Within the small cottage located at the top of Stellar Peak where the Head Elder discussed matters of the sect, all nine of the (current) Elders from the Heavenly Sword Hall were present.
The Head Elder, Immortal Feng Yin, current Master of the Sect, sat at the head of the council. Despite the noisy racket around him, the Head Elder remained silent and appeared to be resting. On the other hand, Second Elder Liu Xian was staging an outrage.
“I TOLD YOU BEFORE, we shouldn’t have allowed THAT fool to mess around with the trials!” Elder Liu Xian roared, slamming his hands on the table. “That woman is crazy! Yet you all still allowed her to have her way and took to her nonsense of having some what was it? Humanistic Innovation! Now look what happened! Look at the mess we’re in now, and tell me: How do you all intend to deal with this?!”
All the other elders had different expressions, but unanimously, none of them wanted to take responsibility for dealing with the matter.
Only one bubbly and lively girl seated at the end responded to calm him down. “Second Senior Brother, don’t get so angry. After all, you are the teacher of disciples from the Inner Court. Don’t forget that you are their role model, so you must maintain your composure as best as you can (smile). Anyways, we won’t be able to solve anything by blaming Fifth Senior Sister.”
Looking at the pretty face smiling at him, Liu Xian also shied away from replying harshly to the youngest junior sister. All he could do was shake his head and continued with his rant. “Junior Sister Yun Hua, that’s easy for you to say. After all, you are not the one dealing with this headache now…”
The girl giggled, “Hehe, who asked you to be the Ethereal Peak Elder. I’m just the Serenity Peak Elder! If it were me, I’d simply take them all in! Our sect has been lacking in new talents in recent years anyway, so what’s wrong with having fifteen new disciples? Having fifteen more people around would make things livelier too!”
Elder Liu Xian frowned and glared back. “You certainly know how to jest! Even with the Ethereal Peak’s long and extensive history, the Inner Court has never been filled with more than thirty-four disciples! To have an additional fifteen disciples now would throw the Inner Court into disarray! Initially, we planned for there to be at most ten odd applicants who made it to the end, and to perhaps select the best three to five from that group…. And now look at what’s happened! Thanks to THAT woman, we can’t even settle the Celestial Gathering!”
Sixth Elder Lu Li who had been quiet all this time suddenly spoke, “With all things considered, our sect lacks the resources to have another fifteen disciples in the Inner Sect. Our sect may be relatively well-off, but that is still no reason to be so wasteful with our resources.”
Elder Liu Xian eagerly nodded his head in agreement, and added to Elder Lu Li’s remarks. “Even Brother Lu Li is saying that. Junior Sister, what other opinions do you have on this matter?”
Junior Sister Hua Yun stuck out her tongue and said. “What can I still say? Even the one who’s in charge of the Sect’s finances and resources has voiced his thoughts. I must still depend on him for my Peak’s finances! If I annoyed him, he would simply cut my budget for the year!”
Annoyed yet amused, Lu Li replied, “Junior Sister Hua Yun, when have I ever said that I will cut your budget? When have I ever refused you when you asked?”
“When I wanted to buy the Celestial Lights Diamond?”
“…… How can you use official funds to buy your accessories?!”
At this point, the Head Elder could no longer stand the racket.
“That’s enough from all of you. This matter is definitely one that cannot be trivially dismissed, but resolving it will still require careful deliberation. We still need a practical plan to resolve it. As you have said, Brother Lu Li, we cannot possibly take in all of them into The Ethereal Peak as part of the Inner Court. I completely agree with that. That said, what should we do next? No matter what we say, we still need to devise a way to resolve this.”
The elders looked at each other uneasily. Everyone had plenty of ideas, but to come up with one that could appeal to everyone present was a task none of them could confidently claim.
In the end, it was Sixth Elder Lu Li, who spoke up. “Well, from my calculations, it is definitely impossible for us to allow all fifteen of them to enter the Ethereal Peak. However, if they were to join the Serenity Peak, then the sect could definitely afford it.”
Regardless of sects, the difference in treatment received by the disciples of the Inner Court and the Outer Court was glaringly obvious. After all, it was more important for the sect to focus on growing those with greater potential when faced with a talent crunch. A simple comparison of the number of disciples in each Court shows a telling tale: over two hundred Outer Court disciples, but just thirty-four Inner Court disciples. However, the Ethereal Peak disciples received up to ten times more funding!
Although the sect would be able to afford the expenses of fifteen more Outer Court disciples, a certain Junior Sister became furious.
“Hey! You smelly sixth in line, what are you trying to imply with that? What do you think my Serenity Peak is, a dump?!”
Lu Li denied rather hastily. “I am just coming up with a solution based on resource allocations! Junior Sister Hua Yun, please don’t take it to heart!”
Junior Sister Hua Yun sat down, still pissed. “…we haven’t successfully recruited anyone through the Celestial Gathering for over a hundred years anyway. Why not just kick these guys out? There. Problem solved.”
Having just annoyed Hua Yun, Lu Li went along with what Hua Yun said. “True, that would definitely save us plenty of resources.”
“Can you all stop coming up with these bad ideas? Kick them all out? Based on what reason? How will we justify it? Based on the rules, they have already succeeded in completing the trials.”
The Disciplinary Elder Fang He pointed at Hua Yun and Lu Li. “If we were some unorthodox or insignificant sect, those ideas of you two would do. But we are the Spirit Blade Sect! For the Spirit Blade Sect to do something so disgraceful would bring shame upon our founding teacher!”
Hua Yun stuck her tongue out as she dared not offend the Disciplinary Elder, whose authority was second only to the Head Elder. However, after a while she tilted her head, and whispered, “Bigot. Destined to be single for life. ”
Fang He fumed.
Luckily the Head Elder quickly injected. “So what do we do then? We cannot keep them, but neither can we allow them into the Inner Court. Any ideas?”
In reply, Second Elder Liu Xian gave a blunt response. “Ultimately, this is still a result of Eldest Brother’s excessive pampering of Fifth Junior Sister. Since it’s your responsibility, you can come up with a solution!”
“If it’s a solution you want, I might just have one that’s appropriate. We can always screen them again and kick away those who does not reach our criteria.”
Disciplinary Elder Fang He frowned. “Head Elder, that would be circumventing the rules. By all accords, they have already passed the trials and we should not make matters wors–
“Rules are made by men. The way I see it, these fifteen applicants did not even pass the trials! After all, the last segments were torn apart by an unstoppable force. They could not even finish their trials!” The Head Elder gave a sly smile.
Fang He was speechless. “This is simply unreasonable!”
Liu Xian on the other hand earnestly agreed with the Head Elder’s proposal. “How is that unreasonable? That’s the best words of advice I’ve heard today! This time, the Immortal Path had been repeatedly altered. It’s already generous that the Head Elder has not made them redo all the trials.”
With the top two people in power among the 10 elders of the Sky Sword Hall (at present just nine) coming into agreement, there was nothing the rest could say. Thus, this brought an end to the council meeting.
Half a day later, the elders of the Heavenly Sword Hall gathered at The Ethereal Peak to judge the fifteen applicants who had technically passed the trials.
Among the fifteen applicants who had gathered at the Mystical Cloud Hall at the Ethereal Peak, the predominant emotion was outrage and frustration.
Having happily thought that the gates to Immortality had been opened to them, to be suddenly notified that there will be an additional trial was a bolt out of the blue. What’s more, the odds of succeeding in the eliminations were looking grim considering the panel of judges. Imagine this: It’s your wedding night and you’re all ready for some tender consummation. The Grand Slam. Sheathing your spear. Unable to wait, you’ve taken off your pants already. You see your beautiful wife seated at the edge of the bed, waiting for you. When you go to take a closer inspection, it’s not your wife! Instead, it’s your father-in-law smiling at you hysterically and asking for a large gift. Such injustice! Such immorality! No wonder everyone was mad.
No matter how unjust things were, it was the reality. Even the one who should be the angriest remained silent. In comparison, it would just make anyone else who complained seem childish and their complaints appear unjustified.
Wang Lu’s silence made it hard for many of them to make a fuss out of the matter. After all, this additional trial was the most unfair to him as he was the only one who really made his way through all the trials. All the rest just got here thanks to him. However, he was also included in the additional trial. This left everyone puzzled: perhaps the Spirit Blade Sect never intended to recruit anyone?
Regardless of what the Spirit Blade Sect was thinking, Wang Lu was not sure and neither could he be bothered. For someone like him who was brimming with confidence, more trials and more difficult trials would only make his eventual victory ever more brilliant. After all, with the Heaven Spirit Base, who would dare to challenge him?
Thus, when the rest of them gathered at the square outside of the Mystical Cloud Hall, one could see groups gathered together to discuss their strategies. However, Wang Lu remained on his own under a tree and ignored the rest. With the Hall unopened and the details of the trial left uncertain, it was impossible for even a professional adventurer such as him to make sense of it all. In such a case, what could be gained from discussing with one another?
However, a gut feeling remained in him, one that sensed that the road ahead would be filled with twists and turns. Who knew? Perhaps more unexpected things were up ahead?
As the youth standing before the hall was busy daydreaming away, time continued to pass. Yet, the Mystical Cloud Hall still did not open, leaving all of them to just wait outside without a clue.
Unbeknownst to them, they were not the only ones feeling nervous. At the same time, the elders of the Heavenly Sword Hall were also anxiously waiting. While most of them had arrived and began to wait for the additional trial to begin, one key person was missing: The Head Elder!
Although it was commonplace for those of importance to be fashionably late, Immortal Feng Yin was never one to be nonsensical. In fact, he was well known for being extremely punctual (especially when meeting the ex-fifth elder of the Heavenly Sword Hall). He was more than an hour late, which greatly puzzled everyone.
Fourth Elder Zhou Ming, who was rather impatient, swiftly instructed his close disciple. “Liu Li, go see what the Head Elder is doing and tell him to come over.”
The female disciple beside Elder Zhou Ming nodded her head in acknowledgement, and swiftly flew off.
A few minutes later, the female disciple flew back. “Reporting, teacher! I could not find the Head Elder!”
“…… Tell me, where did you search?”
“No idea. You did not mention any places earlier, teacher.”
“What……” Zhou Min was at a loss for words. Alas, he simply shook his head. “Forget it, just sit.”