Chapter 7: The Bell That Ends All
The mighty [Qing-Yun Sect]. It has nearly two thousand acres of fields with tens and tens of thousands of Daotongs who were recruited for the sole sake of maintaining it. As payment, each of these Daotongs were given the initials chapters of [Qing-Yun Sect’s Qi Formation]. Albeit extremely rare, each year they would find a Daotong or two who was gifted enough to learn Qi fluctuation and transcend into the world of cultivation.
To the rest of the Daotongs, these individuals were considered to be geniues favored by the gods.
“My dear brothers, I’m off! Let’s drink again when I come back for a visit”
Early in the morning, Fang-Xing had already packed his cloth-bundle and said his goodbye to the Daotongs he had lived with in the past months.
All five of them: Wang, Freckle-Boy, Ghost-Face, Mousy and Bowlegs, all stood quietly as they stared in admiration in front of Fang-Xing’s wood cabin. To them, it was beyond their wildest imagination that the boy standing in front of them would soon become an Outer Sect Disciple.
At first, they didn’t pay attention to Fang Xing’s diligence as it was a common sight for newcomers. The newcomers believed themselves to be favored by Gods, but, with time, they would eventually accept their Zi’Zhi and give up on the fantasies of becoming a Spirit Cultivator.
So it was no surprise that no one expected Fang-Xing to have already achieved Tier One until he announced it the night before he rang the bell to become an Outer Sect Disciple.
“Laoda, I knew you were different from the likes of us. When you do become an Outer Sect Disciple, please don’t forget us, your brothers,” Wang said sincerely as he fought the urge to not cry. Freckle-Boy, on the other hand, had already bursted into tears.
“Stop being a crybaby! Your Laoda, me, is not dying. I’m just getting a promotion. You dumbasses remember what I told you last night about the weeds.
I worked hard on figuring this out so you all better keep it a secret. As long as you ALL DO as I said, I’ll gladly be your Laoda again when you all join me in the Outer Sect!”
“It’s… it’s kind of bizarre. The method you told us. But don’t worry! We’ll do it,” one of them spoke.
Fang-Xing smiled. ‘Whether you guys believe it or not, it’s up to you guys.’
“Anyways, my brothers, I’ll be going now. See you all later!” Waving his hand, Fang-Xing turned his back to the [Herb Field] and walked towards the mountain peak.
“Best wishes to you, Laoda Fang-Xing!”
As soon as Fang-Xing’s silhouette disappeared into the distance, the five Daotongs straightened up their backs, wiped off their tears, and sighed almost in unison:
‘The monster is FINALLY gone!”
“I haven’t had a good night sleep in the past months’
‘Thank the lord! Our lives can be finally normal again”
Unaware of what the Daotongs were thinking behind his back, Fang-Xing arrived at the border of the mountain peak. This place was special even for the [Qing-Yun Sect] as one could truly appreciate its beauty and sheer vastness. The mystical fogs cascaded the mountain slope, but with a gentle blow of wind, the fogs would disappear and beautiful temples could be seen.
At the foot of the mountain, there were rows and rows stone stairs leading up to a quaint pavilion. Inside it was a large bronze bell, a timeless treasure of the [Qing-Yun Sect]. As Fang-Xing approached the top of the pavilion, he saw a plaque:
At the time of chime
A life ends but starts anew
Fly high and afar
‘I wonder if this is it?’ Thinking to himself, Fang-Xing gently stroked the bronze bell, “This must be the bell that I have to ring to become an Outer Sect Disciple.”
As soon as Fang-Xing confirmed that he was in the right place, he gave the bell a slight push.
Confused, Fang-Xing activated the [Book of Revelation] and concentrated on the bell.
‘Samsara Bell. Low Grade Magic Tool. Cannot be rung with ordinary wood. Must be sounded with Qi. The sound of its bell will be heard over three miles…”
“I see how it is…. Hmph! [Qing-Yun Sect] and immortal life, here I come!
And Xiao Jianmin, you better watch out. The tenth band of [Guiyan Valley] is finally here.”
Fang-Xing, taking a deep breath, circulated his Qi into his [Dantian] and released all of it towards the Samsara Bell.
The bronze bell rang, sending a low and deep sound into the fog covered mountain peaks within the sect.
After three chimes later, Fang-Xing stood quietly aside and waited patiently for someone to come and fetch him.
“The bell chimed again. Has another Daotong managed to cultivate Qi?”
“I wonder if it’s someone with really good Zi’Zhi or dumb luck…”
As the bell rang across the [Qing-Yun Sect], naps were disturbed; some showed interest; some laughed in disdain; others ignored it and went back to their nap.
Within minutes, a shadow flew towards the pavilion. It was a thin man with fair skin, donning the cyan robes of [Qing-Yun Sect]. His hair was neatly arranged with a wooden hair clasp, making him look rather dashing. However, his face remained expressionless.
The thin man came up to Fang-Xing and coldly checked him from head to cold. He asked, “So you’re the one who rang the bell? What’s your name?”
“Dear Shixiong, I’m known as Fang-Xing. Pleased to meet you,” unlike his usual self, Fang-Xing answered politely as he saw that the thin man had already achieved Tier Four of [Spirit Stage].
“Good,” satisfied by Fang-Xing’s manner, the thin man grabbed him by the arm and walked towards a different peak, “come with me.”
The speed was so fast that all Fang-Xing could only feel the chilly wind cutting his skin as the thin man pulled him.
‘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.
As Fang-Xing used his Qi, he could finally see again. They were traveling at exceptional speed towards one of [Qing-Yun Sect]’s seven tallest mountain peaks.
“Elder Gao, he’s here.” Finally reaching to a halt, the thin man folded his hands as he politely stood in front of a garret room.
“Let him in,” ordered an aged voice as the door opened. The thin man gave Fang-Xing a slightly push, sending him tumbling into the room.
“Fuck! How dare you push me–” Unconsciously, Fang-Xing let out a loud curse. Immediately, the aged voice interrupted, pounding into Fang-Xing’s brain, “How did you manage to cultivate Qi?”
Fang-Xing turned around to see an ordinary old man with wrinkles all over his face. The old man’s white hair laid neatly on either side of his shoulders. But as the shadow hid half of the old man’s face, it made Fang-Xing look at him mysteriously. The old man’s eyes were unfitting of a man his age as they were extremely bright, almost as if it had the abilities to see through every lie.
‘Hmm?? I can’t see his cultivation stage,’ Fang-Xing sneakily tried to gauge the old man but the [Book of Revelation] couldn’t get any information out of him.
When Fang-Xing uses the [Book of Revelation] for appraisals, particularly on people, a small amount of Qi is required. The higher the cultivation stage, the more Qi is required. And in this case, even if Fang-Xing were to use all of the Qi he had accumulated, it would still not be enough to appraise the old man. In other words, this old man was way beyond what Fang-Xing could even comprehend.
“I… I ate the Hwa’Jin weed,” Fang-Xing decided to tell the truth as he assumed that the old man could see through his lies.
“Another one,” sighed the old man, disappointed, “Well, I guess it must be fate that you discovered the usage of the weed. You are now an Outer Sect Disciple. Take this token as proof of your status to [Qing-Mu Hall] and someone will be there to help you with your accommodation.”
After the old man asked for Fang-Xing’s name, he used a drop of Fang-Xing’s blood to fuse a small, dark wooden block. As the old man threw the wooden block to Fang-Xing, he asked Fang-Xing to leave.
‘Eh? That’s it?!” Fang-Xing stood in disbelief as the door closed shut behind him.
He never assumed that becoming an Outer Sect Disciple would be so easy.
‘What he said… Does that mean a lot of people know the usage of Hwa’Jin already?’ Still confused, Fang-Xing flipped his wooden block. On the back of the wooden block, it read:
‘Whatever this means, it can’t be too good.’ Even the [Herb Field]s were graded in the same system. Fang-Xing’s [Herb Field] was considered to be ‘Bing’2, which mean that it was third best, in the quality of herbs planted.
What Fang-Xing did not know was that the Hwa’Jin weed was widely researched by the Elders of the Sect. However, none of the Daotongs knew anything about it as the Elders did not want an influx of disciples with poor Zi’Zhi.
After all, even if these people did manage to step into [Spirit Stage], they would at best remain the lower tiers till their death. Despite this, the Elders also believed in fate. If someone was able to discover the properties of Hwa’Jin weed by themselves, they would be considered either extremely lucky or highly intelligent who could persevere through hardship. These common yet necessary qualities required to become stronger in the world of cultivation was the reason that the Elders were not against Fang-Xing or any other Daotongs that used the Hwa’Jin weed to step into [Spirit Stage] in becoming an Outer Sect Disciple.