“Xuanyang Sect’s entrance exam.” Zhang Donggua explained.
Yu Qiu forced a smile. He certainly knew that it was the Xuanyang Sect entrance exam. And it was precisely because of the three characters1Xuanyang Sect is written with the characters 玄阳宗 “Xuan yang sect” that the wording looked particularly unpleasant.
That place was stained with too many memories of his past life, and Yu Qiu didn’t like it.
“This favor is not troublesome, not troublesome at all.” Zhang Donggua anxiously looked at Yu Qiu. Afraid that he’d refuse, he pushed the spirit stones forward. “You take these spirit stones first, Daxia. When the time comes, you don’t have to worry too much. As long as you remember to look after me a bit, even if it’s just a little bit, I will be endlessly grateful.
This condition was quite lenient. Yu Qiu couldn’t help but watch him for a while. “Xuanyang Sect’s entrance exam… You think you could pass as long as you do this?”
Zhang Donggua swallowed.
“To be honest,” said Yu Qiu. “Don’t say just looking after you a little, even if I were to give it my best, I can’t guarantee that you’ll pass.”
“Yu Qiu Daxia… Thank you for being outspoken, but how could I possibly not understand those words?” Zhang Donggua said with a wry smile. “I’ve been squatting here for five years now. If it were so easy to get into Xuanyang Sect, how could I have been squatting for five years?”
Yu Qiu fell silent. Every year, Xuanyang Sect would hold an entrance exam to select a new group of disciples–from rogue cultivators across the world, to cultivators from great clans, and even to children with potential. And because Xuanyang Sect’s dojo was very large, there was no second cultivation school a thousand miles around. The competition in the Fire Refining entrance exam would be very fierce every year. What Zhang Donggua was saying was that he had participated in five entrance exams and had failed to be chosen for five times. He naturally had a deep understanding of the difficulties.
“A wise person does not speak in the dark2明人不说暗话 – A straightforward person does not resort to insinuations. I’m taking out these hundreds of spirit stones, but in fact, I’m not really seeking for a guarantee. Just buying some peace of mind and nothing more.” Zhang Donggua continued, “Daxia, please take it.”
Yu Qiu looked at the spirit stones on the table. “So, I’m not the only one who’s been entrusted with this?”
“Truly a daxia.” Zhang Donggua did not intend to hide it. “To tell the truth, anyone with real strength here in Fangshanji has taken my spirit stones.”
So apparently, taking this pile of spirit stones would have no psychological burden.
But Yu Qiu forced himself to move his eyes away from the spirit stones, and he shook his head.
“Daxia!” Zhang Donggua was anxious.
He really wanted Yu Qiu to accept the money. Passing Xuanyang Sect’s entrance exam had been Zhang Donggua’s dream for many years. Think about it, in this small Fangshanji, how many people in the late stage of Qi Refining had come and gone, and why would Zhang Donggua yield to them? Wasn’t it because this group of people in the late stage of Qi Refining later got into Xuanyang Sect! The title of Fangshanji Tyrant sounded so awe-inspiring and looked so brilliant, but in fact, all that was pressed underneath it was nothing more but layers of sadness.
And of course, Zhang Donggua was a really patient and cunning person3狡兔三窟 (idiom) Literally, “the wily hare has three holes to his burrow.”. No matter how much he wanted to join Xuanyang Sect, he wouldn’t put everything on the off-chance that he could pass this year.
He took out the money and came up with a deal that looked like a big loss to him, when in fact, he just wanted an excuse to let Yu Qiu take the money, using the spirit stones to build an as-clear-as-noonday relationship in the name of goodness. If Yu Qiu would help him with all his strength during the entrance exam, then good. But whether Yu Qiu did his best or not to help him, he couldn’t just let him go without establishing such a relationship. In the future, as long as Zhang Donggua wouldn’t take the other party’s money and wouldn’t do anything to displease him, Yu Qiu would always treat him better than others.
Thinking of this, Zhang Donggua wanted to continue persuading him. Yu Qiu said, “If I also intend to participate in this exam and could help you in passing, then I would. I could even get this many spirit stones, so naturally, I wouldn’t refuse. But if you want me to take part in this test especially to help you… this money is not enough.”
“You don’t plan to participate?” Zhang Donggua’s eyes widened.
Cultivators within a thousand miles only wanted to join Xuanyang Sect. Where can they say that they don’t want to join? Upon hearing this from Yu Qiu, Zhang Donggua was really surprised.
“Daxia, you have to think clearly.” Zhang Donggua said in earnest. “Maybe now you don’t think it’s so bad to be a rogue cultivator, but once you reach the Middle Stage of Qi Refining, advancing to the Later Stage would be like phoenix feathers and unicorn horns4extremely rare for a rogue cultivator. In contrast, when you enter a sect, building a foundation is nothing special. The power difference, the low spiritual qi, no pills and elixirs–being a rogue cultivator is difficult ah!”
Yu Qiu wasn’t a person who couldn’t tell chalk from cheese5cannot tell good from bad. He understood that these were the heartfelt words of a rogue cultivator head. The benefits of joining a sect were not unknown to Yu Qiu, but Xuanyang Sect…
At first, Yu Qiu instinctively rejected those three characters, but now, he couldn’t help but fall into contemplation.
What was wrong with Xuanyang Sect, and why would Yu Qiu be repelled? After all was said and done, it was only because of these two characters–Xu Hong.
Yu Qiu’s experience in his previous life had made him abhor those two characters. It wasn’t the kind of hate where he’d want to oppress bones and toss ashes6挫骨扬灰 – My translation here is very literal, but the idiom simply refers to extreme hate, where, even after that hated person’s death, you’d still want to crush their bones into ashes and then scatter the ashes., but rather the type where he loathed to be involved with him in this life for even the slightest. Like the filthiest filth in the world. Don’t even talk about going to his door just to step on him. The more one looked at it, listened to it, or thought more about it in their heart, the more one would feel an overwhelming stench.
But even if it was such a stinky piece of filth, was it enough to have it change Yu Qiu’s path in the cultivation world? Was it enough to let Yu Qiu abandon the obvious benefits inside a sect? What a joke! There was a road before him. Why the fuck should he make a special detour for a piece of filth!
“You’re right.” After thinking it through, Yu Qiu nodded his head and said, “I naturally want to enter this Xuanyang Sect.”