Qiu Ling followed the Elder with a bright smile. Each step took him closer to his beloved. Ah … It wouldn’t be much longer until they could see each other again. Just a little bit. He only had to attract that Grandmaster Zhangsun.
The Elder turned to Qiu Ling while they walked through the outer sect. “Boy, how much do you know about our Yun Zou Sect?”
“Haha. It’s good to be self-assured when young.” Elder Suo laughed and patted his shoulder. “Have you heard of Elder Kong?”
Qiu Ling contemplated if he could get away with a lie but finally dismissed the idea. It was better to be straightforward and maybe use this opportunity to make his intentions clear. “No. But I’ve heard of Grandmaster Zhangsun.”
The Elder choked. He vigorously patted it to calm down his breath. Youngsters these days! Having self-confidence was a good thing but wasn’t this a little too much? What did he concern himself with the Grandmaster? Even the Elder himself couldn’t see that man whenever he wanted. In fact, he had never seen him outside of the assemblies the righteous sects held once in a while.
But, well, he also couldn’t fault that youngster. Even though most people had never seen Grandmaster Zhangsun he was still widely known. If not for him, their sect wouldn’t even be a first tier sect. Holding someone like that in high regard was normal.
Elder Suo patted Qiu Ling’s shoulder once again. “Grandmaster Zhangsun sure is famous. It’s no wonder you have heard of him. But for you, Elder Kong is the more important person.”
Qiu Ling frowned. “Why that?”
“Well, just as I am in charge of the practitioners here in the outer sect, Elder Kong supervises the practitioners in the inner sect. I can recommend for you to be taken into the inner sect but it will depend on Elder Kong if you’ll indeed get a place there. After all, you already missed the time when we normally take in our disciples. He would be doing you a favor.”
“Mn, I understand.” I won’t accept it though! As if he would settle for being in the inner sect. He had to become that Grandmaster’s disciple! There was no way around it.
“Alright. Then I’ll take you to the inner sect now. Please remember: Elder Kong is very strict. You’ll have to make a good first impression if you want him to acknowledge you.”
Qiu Ling nodded. It couldn’t be that hard to make some mortal recognize his might, could it?
The Elder smiled and turned back to the front. Silently, the two made their way up one of the mountains.
Qiu Ling observed his surroundings more closely: The sect consisted of a valley and a few peaks surrounding it. The valley had been quite crude with just a few houses and some people around that were doing chores. None of them looked more powerful than the normal people in the capital.
Now, on the road leading up the mountain, he saw disciples in white, embroidered robes that practiced the sword and were giving off a faint aura of power. It seemed these were the inner sect disciples Fu Min had told him about. It was peculiar though, there were fewer disciples here than in the outer sect. Shouldn’t the sect try to take in as many talents as they could?
With his limited knowledge about cultivation sects, Qiu Ling didn’t understand but in fact, this was to be expected. After all, the outer sect had cultivators and practitioners mixed together while they were distributed to the individual peaks in the inner sect. If one tallied up all the disciples of the inner sect, there would be more than one of the peaks would let a person assume.
Furthermore, it wasn’t that easy to find talents either. Especially since the Yun Zou Sect wasn’t their best choice. Those disciples with great aptitude, wouldn’t they go somewhere better? They certainly would. The reason for that was splendidly displayed when Qiu Ling and the Elder finally arrived at the top of the mountain.
A magnificent palace … was what Qiu Ling had expected. Instead, he found a run-down house. Yeah, the Yun Zou Sect wasn’t the best sect. And one of the reasons for that was that it lacked resources.
Qiu Ling’s brows twitched with disdain. For Heaven’s sake! What was this supposed to be?! An important Elder was actually living in such a hut?!
Qiu Ling wasn’t one to judge based on appearances but … No, wait. He definitely was someone who judged based on appearances and this was the bottom of the barrel! What a lousy … building. It reminded him of that … thing his father had dared to call their ‘home’ back when he was a child. Ah, as soon as those two were … uh … Anyway, he had ground that thing to dust and left. He wouldn’t have wanted to live another day in that.
Mn, come to think of it, that was the one thing he liked about his predecessor: He had great aesthetics! Even though he still didn’t get what the dragon race liked about golden hair and golden eyes so much, the king’s palace was a sanctuary of good taste. Qiu Ling hadn’t even felt the slightest wish to modify anything.
And now he was confronted with such a shabby … hut. Did this deity sect want to kid him?! How was he supposed to live here? Please, tell him that that Grandmaster Zhangsun had better taste and was living in one of those decent palaces he had seen on his way!
The Elder cupped his fists and bowed in front of the house. “Elder Kong, Elder Suo came with a possible recruit for the inner sect.”
Inside the house, fabric rustled and then the door opened. Another old man with graying hair stepped outside and took a look at Qiu Ling before turning back to Elder Suo.
“Elder Suo, how nice of you to come by.” His eyes lit up when he saw who had come to visit him. Elder Suo had never been wrong before in regard to possible talents. He had even managed to find one or two geniuses the sect relied on heavily. “Isn’t it a little late for bringing over a new recruit?”
Elder Suo coughed. Maybe he should pretend to have only seen Qiu Ling’s talent now? But in the end, he didn’t dare to lie. “Actually, I only found this young man today.”
Elder Kong raised his brows and examined Qiu Ling again. The chap was tall with a good physique, suited to become a practitioner, and he didn’t seem overly excited, which was a good characteristic to have. Mn, maybe it would have been better if he hadn’t such a face …
Elder Kong didn’t like these sort of pretty faces. He always felt that people looking like this were paying too much attention to appearances and would neglect the way of the sword over it. Well, he might not be totally wrong. At least not in regard to Qiu Ling. He really did pay more attention to his appearance than he would do practicing the sword but … What reason was there to be concerned? He was stronger than any of the human practitioners anyway.
Elder Kong shelved the thought for now. “Well, let’s see how good you are. Why don’t you demonstrate some sword moves for me, young man?”
Qiu Ling looked at the Elder, then at his sword. Finally, his gaze landed on the house. Demonstrate a bit? Alright.
He lifted the sword and concentrated. The blade swished through the air and sword energy leaked out, drawing lines in the air that traveled farther than the sword itself.
Qiu Ling sheathed his sword and looked on. The sword energy hit the ugly hut and the wooden beams creaked. Slowly, the roof slid to the side and crashed down while the rest of the building collapsed on itself.
Qiu Ling turned toward Elder Kong with a happy expression.
See that? I’m even helping you renovate! Now take me to your Grandmaster!
The Elders didn’t have to comply with that wish though because in the actually decent-looking palace on top of the highest peak of the inner sect, a man that had been in deep meditation until now opened his eyes and looked in the direction of the peak where Elder Kong’s house stood. Well, where it had stood. And then, the said man stood up and left his palace for the first time in several years.