Chapter 10: Penniless
The name of the mask was not recorded down and, as such, none of the three guardians knew of its true name. Usually, in cases like these, the items would be just recorded as ‘low-grade magic tool’.
The rule of the pavilion stated that once the record was made, it was all set in stone.
The moustached guardian said emotionlessly, “Good, all done now. Congratulations on your new magic tool. Scram now.”
Still acting as if unsure, Fang-Xing asked again, “You’re sure that this is worth it? What if–?”
“Nonsense! You’ve already chosen and it’s been recorded. There are no take-backsies.”
“But… you just said that I could come back and swap it for something else if it’s no good,” pretending to be in shock, Fang-Xing continued to mock the guardians.
“Swap?” Laughed the moustached guardian, “it CAN be done. Just depends on what you’re willing to pay.”
This was a common occurrence between the lower ranked disciples as they were always unsure about their items. Usually, most of the disciples that weren’t willing to pay the Spirit Stones in the start would come back, regretfully, and pay an even higher price for a new magic tool.
Through these schemes, the three guardians had amassed a large savings of precious gems and rare items. But they knew that they could rip-off Fang-Xing a bit more than the others as Fang-Xing’s mask’s name was not known and could not be traced back by the Sect.
“Okay. What’s done is done!” As if finally convinced, Fang-Xing took the mask into this arms and walked off.
As soon as Fang-Xing left the Pavilion, the three guardians burst into laughter, “that idiot actually chose the mask! He thinks it’s worth something, hahaha!”
“Blame his Zi’Zhi that he was too stupid in offending us.”
“Hah! If — no — WHEN he comes back for an exchange, I’m going to burn a hole in his wallet!”
Looking worried, Yu ran towards Fang-Xing as he saw Fang-Xing walking out of the pavilion. Asking hastily what Fang-Xing had ended up choosing, “What did you find?”
Yu started to carefully examine the old and tattered mask, and finally, confused, asked, “What is this?”
“What do you mean? This mask is A-MA-ZING!” Fang-Xing offended, replied back, “take me to where I’m sleeping tonight.”
Yu, seeing Fang-Xing’s confidence, quieted down and led Fang-Xing to his new living quarters.
Having worked at the [Zasi] department for years, Yu knew quite a bit of gossip, despite not being very popular, as he usually ran the unwanted errands for every other department. “Take a look at this side, this place is known as [Qing-Yin Valley]1, where all the female disciples live. There’s a large pool of crystal-clear spring water running outside of the valley and the female disciples usually take their baths there. Apparently, to prevent any male disciples from peeping into the pool, the elders placed a smog spell all around it. They claim that it’s impenetrable all year round, BUT there was a Shixiong who claimed that he managed to see them bathing. He even bragged about it for months after!”
“Now, I direct your gaze towards this cliff. This is where a legendary Elder named Gu Song holds his classes. He is extremely powerful and knowledgeable, yet is one of the few elders that are friendly and easygoing. Even for someone like us — born with bad Zi’Zhi — if you ask him a question, any question, he would greet you with a smile and patiently answer you. There’s also Elder Song Yan, who comes to our sect on every 9th day of the 9th month to speak about the ways of cultivations or give hints and tips for using spells. It’s guaranteed to be packed, popular even amongst the Core Disciples.
That place over there is known as [Xixia Range]. All the disciples there are dedicated to studying the path of alchemy. Not one, not a single disciple of [Xixia Range] has a good temper, all arrogant assholes. But, everyone needs their help in making medicinal pills and elixirs, so it’s best to stay away from their bad side. On the other hand, the ladies of [Xixia Range]… oh, haha. They are quite the pleasure on the eyes, so maybe when you’re a bit older, we’ll try to find you a wife there. It should really beneficial to your cultivation.”
The Outer Sect Disciples lived in a place called [Yunyin Summit], and it was known for being quite small. It only took Yu and Fang-Xing four hours until they had reached the summit. However, it was as long as Yu was talking for. To others, Yu could be seen as a bother, but Fang-Xing took this opportunity to learn and find out as much gossip and information about the Sect as possible.
“This is your room. Mine won’t be too far away from yours so if you need anything, let me know!” The summit itself was covered by a thick, white fog, and from afar, only a few hundred little cottages could be seen. [Yunyin Summit], despite its small size, was quite homely and picturesque due to its beautiful waterfall that ran through the valley. Often times during the day, a gentle breeze would send the nearby bamboo forest rustling with soft sounds.
This time of the year in the land of [Chufung Kingdom], it was already late fall. Within [Qing-Yun Sect], however, due to its Qi fluctuation, it was still brimming with spring blossoms.
According to Yu, [Yunyin Summit] was merely one of the ten different locations for the Outer Sect Disciples. In fact, all Outer Sect Disciples lived in a small cottage like Fang-Xing’s. The only difference was that when inducted into an Inner Sect Disciple, one could move into of the other valleys or summits that had a lot more Qi fluctuations. And when a disciple achieved Tier Seven, they would automatically become one of the Core Disciples of the Sect. The Core Disciples had the right to own a summit or a valley for themselves. This was pretty much the same treatment the Sect would give towards the elders.
As the pair arrived at Fang-Xing’s new cottage, a man came outside and approached them. The man was only in Tier Two and had the job of assigning rooms to new disciples. After the man assigned Fang-Xing to a room next to a spring well, he asked if Fang-Xing would be dining at the [Shansi Department] 2.
“If you wish to dine there, you will have to pay 100 silver taels per month,” reminded Yu.
Surprised, Fang-Xing smiled bitterly. He tapped Yu on the shoulder and said, “In that case, lend me 100 silver taels, I’ll pay it back soon.”
Even more surprised, Yu asked, “What? You don’t even have 100 silver taels?!”
Unwilling to admit that he was penniless, Fang-Xing lied, “No, I just don’t have it on me right now.”
Yu, unfortunately, did not bring money with him so he asked the man if they could pay him tomorrow. Luckily, the man agreed without much of a fuss, but it was obvious the man looked down on Fang-Xing.
‘Cultivation, without excellent Zi’Zhi, will require a lot of resources, yet, this boy has none. Not even a mere 100 silver taels. It’s almost guaranteed that nothing will come of him,’ thought the man.
As Fang-Xing headed back to his cottage, he noticed that it was very simple: plain yet decorated with pine wood, known for its ability to repel mosquitoes. Inside the room was a bed, a table, chairs, but all came with a cost.
Of course, all these again would be coming from Yu’s own pocket.
Since Yu had already decided to pay for Fang-Xing’s meal plan, there was no point in being stingy and holding back from paying a bit more. It was, after all, Yu’s bad Zi’Zhi that he ended up befriending this monstrous boy.
- TL Note: Qing-Yin Valley: Not to be confused with Qing-Yun, the valley is of course located inside the Sect. It lit. means Valley of soft/light sound/voices. ↩
- TL Note: Shansi Department: the same idea with the Yaosi and Zasi department. It lit. means 膳司监 (meal management department), in other words, this would be equivalent of a dining hall. ↩