Chapter 19: Choice

“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.”

Zhang Donggua’s eyebrows immediately rose in delight.

“But as you can see, I’m only in the Initial Stage of Qi Refining. I have more talismans than others, but no matter how many they are, when confronting real difficulties, it will be beyond my power.” Actually, it’s only enough to bully you… This sentence was too hurtful, so Yu Qiu didn’t say it.

“Whether it can or not, Daxia ought to test them so you can know their capacity,” said Zhang Donggua.

“I will consider it again,” said Yu Qiu. “There are still three months left, and I will do my best to make preparations and try to break through to the Middle Stage within these three months. I hope you won’t change your mind by that time.”

Although Zang Donggua was a bit regretful, it was still a good result. He immediately put on a smile and said, “Then I will wait for Daxia.”

Yu Qiu nodded then said he would like to go shopping.

Zhang Donggua eagerly sent him out.

Right after walking from the back hall to the lobby, Yu Qiu unexpectedly found an acquaintance standing not far from the door.

It was Zhao Tu, staring at the talisman stall.

Seeing Zhao Tu, Yu Qiu sighed. The Qingtou Gang could be regarded as the first group of friends Yu Qiu made after his rebirth, but now they were like this… But of course, sighing didn’t necessarily mean regret. Gu Qing couldn’t tell what was good for him and was short-sighted. Although his character didn’t seem bad, he couldn’t make a deep friendship with him. It’s a pity for the other members of the Qingtou Gang.

Most of the people in the market had gathered around to watch the spectacle of Yu Qiu scaring the shit out of Zhang Donggua. However, Zhang Donggua had built up power and influence for a long time. Even though he had lost face for a while, others dared not be loose-tongued about it. Only Zhao Tu recently arrived. He didn’t stand in the circle to watch and he also didn’t know. So when he saw Yu Qiu and Zhang Donggua coming out together, he was quite surprised.

Yu Qiu nodded at him, considering it a greeting, and said, “What are you looking at?”

Zhao Tu lowered his head and when he looked at the talisman stall beside him, he seemed a bit embarrassed.

“Want to buy talismans?” Yu Qiu was surprised. Based on his understanding of the Qingtou Gang’s economic situation, he didn’t think they could afford a talisman.

“No…” Zhao Tu scratched his head for a while. Then he gritted his teeth, suddenly making up his mind regarding Yu Qiu’s Dao.  “Dage, I beg you to look at something for me.”

Yu Qiu frowned. As he was about to tell him to no longer call him Dage, Zhao Tu took out a few sheets of papers and handed them over.

The image on the paper was that of the Rejuvenation talisman!

In the beginning, Yu Qiu had borrowed Zhao Tu’s hand in order to draw a Rejuvenation talisman despite being on the second level of Qi Refining. Unexpectedly, Zhao Tu wrote down the pattern, imitating it!

Yu Qiu took the sheet of papers and looked through them several times. In his heart, he couldn’t help sighing. These imitated Rejuvenation talismans were, naturally, very crude. There were no pauses in the places that should have a pause, and pauses in the places that should have been done smoothly. Many places had even directly drawn wrong lines. However, as a young cultivator who had never been in contact with talismans before, this kind of heart was already very rare.

After sighing, Yu Qiu carefully pointed these things out. Zhao Tu listened very seriously, and his face was full of gratitude.

Yu Qiu noticed it from the corner of his eyes and said to himself: This one is actually a good seedling. What a pity…

“Do you have to follow Gu Qing?” Yu Qiu suddenly asked.

Zhao Tu was stunned for a while, and then said firmly: “Laoda once saved my life.”

Yu Qiu nodded. He told him some things he needed to pay attention to, then he returned the sheets of paper in his hand to him and said goodbye.

Zhao Tu gripped the sheets of paper hard as he stood in place, unmoving. He looked like he was reflecting on it.

After walking for a while, Yu Qiu left this unavoidable regret behind and began to carefully check the roadside stalls.

The first thing to buy were, naturally, the materials. It cost him approximately over twenty low-grade spirit stones to get them. Yu Qiu finally had dozens of white deer paper, and the whole person was in an ocean of happiness.

The second thing he should buy… Yu Qiu continued to look around as he said in his mind: Sword manual, sword manual, sword manual…

He took it very seriously. After strolling around for half a shichen, he had roughly memorized in his heart the three or four sword manuals he got. He carefully compared them and continued to check if there was anything else more suitable. To be honest, none of the manuals he got were very satisfactory. It was just that Xiao Chunmian had no better choice right now. It was better than nothing.

Yu Qiu shook his head and sighed, walking past a stall.

Wait, what’s this?

Yu Qiu hurriedly walked backwards and carefully looked at the sharp and deep blue sword he had passed by several times.

The stall owner glanced at him and didn’t say anything. He continued to lazily lean on his chair.

“How much is this sword?” Yu Qiu asked. He had almost forgotten that Xiao Chunmian’s sword was also broken. He had to buy him a usable flying sword.

The stall owner raised his eyelids and said, “Two hundred twenty low-grade spirit stones.”

Two hundred and twenty!

Yu Qiu didn’t think it was too expensive. He knew what was good and bad. This flying sword was worth the price. That was just how it was! After buying the flying sword, there were only ten low-grade spirit stones left in his pocket. He couldn’t even afford the worst sword manual.

Flying sword and sword manual, flying sword and sword manual… Yu Qiu suddenly fell into a dilemma.

[……]

The system finally couldn’t help but make a noise in his mind.

–Don’t be noisy. I’m thinking about something.

[… Have you forgotten that I could upgrade…]

–What does that have to do with the current situation…Yu Qiu complained, but then suddenly patted his thigh. Yes, after the system upgrade, it definitely wouldn’t be as useless as it is now. Maybe it can solve the current problem!


**✿❀ translated by Lizonka ❀✿**
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