As the three were walking, they would hear people discussing the Fang Clan every now and then.
“Did you hear? It looks like the Fang Clan is recruiting rogue cultivators to participate in the 5-sect summit under their name.”
“Mm. I also heard that. Apparently, the Fang Clan doesn’t have any talents to match Wu Ning, so they are looking for outside help.”
“Heh. Do you actually believe that? I’m pretty sure the Fang Clan will be fine on their own. I heard the 5 sects give big clans like the Fang Clan and the Wu Clan quotas for external cultivators. The better the performance of those external cultivators, the more resources the clan will receive.”
“Sounds about right. You can’t underestimate the Fang Clan’s Dual Polarities. I heard they have been keeping a tight lid on information about the real talents.”
“So, are you going to participate?”
“Me? Are you crazy? I would have no chance against some of the people coming out to participate.”
The three were getting quite a bit of information about the Fang Clan through overhearing conversations.
Hei was pleased with what he heard.
“It looks like the doors are open. It shouldn’t be too much trouble to get inside.”
Bai added on.
“Mm. It looks like we’ll be able to test the waters.”
As they approached the Fang Clan, they saw a line of people waiting to enter. It seemed to be popular today.
Hei walked over to a passer-by and asked:
“Is it always like this?”
He pointed to the line as he said this.
The passer-by was surprised at Hei’s appearance, but he quickly answered.
“Pretty much. Ever since the Fang Clan announced that it would be selecting rogue cultivators to receive training and participate in the 5-sect summit, there has been a line like this every day.”
Hei said this as he turned away from the passer-by.
“We’ll have to pull something. It would be bad if we waited in line.”
Tianlan was confused.
“Why would that be bad?”
“We are trying to create the illusion that we’re already acquainted with the Fang Clan.”
“Ah. So, what do we do?”
Tianlan now understood. It would be strange if they had to wait in line, even though they were already in collaboration with the Fang Clan. This would weaken the effect of their deception.
“Ok. You see that doorman over there?”
Hei was pointing towards a young man, who was talking to the people in line and registering them.
“Activate your creepy powers and see if there’s any problem in his cultivation paths.”
Tianlan was not too pleased with the return of this joke. It had been a few months without it.
He decided to ignore it and get Hei back later. After activating his eyes, the doorman flinched and looked around, trying to find the cause of the feeling he was having.
Seeing this, Hei said:
“You know, Tianlan. We need to find a way for you to do this stealthily. It’s way too inconvenient for people to be able to feel when you activate your ability.”
“I’ll leave it to you, Little Bai.”
After observing for a moment, Tianlan had found what he was looking for.
“There are multiple problems.”
As Tianlan described the problems, Bai came up with solutions.
After this was done, Hei spoke.
“Alright. Time to overwhelm a youngster.”
The three had been moving at an uninterrupted pace the entire time. The only time they stopped was to speak to the passer-by.
They walked over to the doorman, skipping the line.
“Stop right there. You’ll have to wait in line if you want to register for the selection.”
The doorman stepped forward and blocked their path as they were walking.
“Eh? Why are you acting like we’re strangers?”
“What are you…”
“Now now. Don’t tell me just because I changed my appearance, you don’t recognise me?”
Bai stepped in.
“That’s right. We don’t show our faces for a little while, and it’s like you never even knew us. How rude.”
The doorman was confused.
“Do I know you?”
“Does this mean anything to you?”
As he said this, he pushed multiple places on the doorman’s body with his finger. He then continued.
“It looks like you still haven’t fixed this little problem. Sigh. I thought you would be able to figure it out on your own.”
The doorman was shocked. Every place Tianlan pushed, was a place he was having difficulty in his cultivation. He would feel his Qi clog up and end up flowing slowly.
“This. Forgive me for not recognising you, honoured guests.”
Even though the doorman still didn’t know who these three were, he knew that before such experts who could see through his cultivation issues, at first sight, rudeness was not allowed.
Hei casually waved his hand and said:
“You can’t be blamed. It is we who have been too secretive. We shouldn’t have expected you to remember us after having only met once.”
Bai steeped in.
“Mm. As for your little problem, it’s easy to resolve. You have disturbed the natural proportions of yin and yang in your body, which resulted in blocking several points in your circulation paths. If you spend two hours a day cultivating at 80% speed and a further half an hour at 110% speed, your issue should be resolved within a week.”
The doorman was surprised at how simple the solution was. He had asked a few elders in the clan how he could resolve his problem, but they hadn’t come up with a solution.
“Thank you for your generosity, honoured guests.”
Hei stepped in. He walked up to the doorman and placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Honoured guests? No. It is we who are honoured to be friends with the great Fang Clan.”
This made the doorman quite proud. Even such experts treated him with respect thanks to the Fang Clan. It really was fortunate to be born into the number one clan of Spring Leaf City.
The three then started walking. Surprisingly, the doorman stepped out of the way.
This left the people in line stunned. Who were these three kids?
As they were about to enter, Hei seemed like he had realised something.
“Ah. Since we’re here, we might as well play around a little. Sign us up, Brother.”
He had turned back to the doorman who quickly completed the registration process.
The three entered the Fang Clan without issue.
Hei then turned to Tianlan.
“That worked quite well, didn’t it?”
“Indeed. I didn’t think it would work.”
Bai stepped in.
“Stroking his pride was a nice touch, Brother.”
“So it was the Fang Clan after all.”
“This is bad news.”
“Very bad news. We need to report this ASAP.”
“Mm. I’ll go. The rest of you continue observing them.”
“Mm. But this damn line is too long. Who do these Fang Clan bastards think they are? Our clan also has quotas, but you don’t see these many people.”
“Calm down. If we want to get in, we have to wait in line.”
“Damn them! Look at how they just strolled in after saying a few words. How deep is this thing anyway?”
“That’s what we’re here to find out.”
After the three entered the Fang Clan territory, they took a look at the information on the selection trials. The doorman had given them tokens which had the basic information.
“It looks like the preliminary assessment won’t be for a while. We can’t just head over and wait. We might as well explore a little.”
Bai and Tianlan agreed, so the three picked a random direction and walked casually as if they had seen everything here a hundred times already.
As they walked, they noticed something curious.
It seemed that in the Fang Clan, all the boys wore red, and the girls wore white.
Hei couldn’t help asking someone who was walking by.
“Excuse me, Sister. May I ask you something?”
“Mm? Sure, ask anything you like.”
The young girl was surprised at Hei’s appearance for a moment, but she still responded happily.
“Why is it that the boys are wearing red and the girls are wearing white?”
“Ah. That’s because of our Fang Clan’s profound yin and yang techniques. The robes are not coloured based on whether one is a boy or a girl, it is actually based on which cultivation techniques one is more suited for.”
“Generally speaking, boys are more suited for yang cultivation whereas girls are more suited for yin cultivation. This is why you came to that conclusion.”
Bai stepped in.
“Yin and yang? Does that mean everyone can cultivate the Fang Clan’s techniques?”
The girl was surprised at Bai’s question. She looked very young. The girl decided she must have been practising some youth preserving technique.
In this world, many people would hide their age by practising a technique that would alter their appearance. It was just that she had never heard of someone doing it to such extremes. Most would choose to be a young adult, not a small child.
“That’s right. Our techniques can be practised no matter which kind of spirit roots a cultivator has. But the yang techniques are amplified by fire element and the yin techniques are amplified by water element.”
Seeing that the three were genuinely interested, the girl became quite happy.
“Since you guys are new here, why don’t I show you around?”
The three looked at each other before Hei spoke.
“Don’t you have anything better to do? You would take the time to guide three strangers?”
The girl jolted a little. The truth was, she really didn’t have anything better to do. She had been stuck at the peak of body refining for a while now and a breakthrough didn’t seem very close.
“It is my honour to display our Fang Clan to those who have a genuine interest. It wouldn’t be a waste of time at all.”
She said this with a smile, but the three noticed a slight awkwardness in her tone.
“Then please show us the way, Sister.”
“Mm. By the way, my name is Fang Ren. What are yours?”
Fang Ren had not had many friends ever since she got stuck at the peak of body refining. All of her friends had already broken through to the externalisation realm, but she was left behind.
As a result of this, the conversation topics shifted to things she couldn’t relate to, and they slowly drifted apart.
She wanted to grasp any opportunity to make friends that she could.
If these three could pass the selection trials and obtain quotas, she could have three new friends.
“I’m Shao Hei.”
“I am Shao Bai.”
“And I am Shao Tianlan.”
The three introduced themselves.
“Shao? Are all of you related?”
Fang Ren noticed this detail. She could see Bai and Tianlan being related, but Hei?
“Mm. We’re siblings. I’m the eldest, kind of, and Hei here is the middle child, that leaves Little Bai as the youngest.”
“I see. Well, it’s nice to meet you. Come. I’ll show you to the alchemy hall.”
Fang Ren started walking.
The three followed behind her and Bai couldn’t help asking:
“Mm. It’s where we practice pill forging.”
Seeing the blank looks on the three’s faces, Fang Ren explained further.
“The art of alchemy is to refine medicinal herbs into more useful and concentrated forms, usually pills. This allows us to remove unnecessary components and have a pure, targeted, and uniform cultivation resource.”
Bai asked a question.
“Is that better than just consuming all of the resources?”
Fang Ren remembered asking the same thing herself a while back.
“Mm. First of all, you save space by removing water and unwanted components from the herbs, which allows us to store more in the same amount of space.”
“Secondly, the refined resources require less maintenance. Herbs have to be cared for, but refined resources can be stored and forgotten about.”
“Lastly, alchemy allows us to combine several different herbs to amplify and reduce certain effects. These are changes that would not occur just by consuming the resources together.”
“I see. That really does sound useful. Does the Wu Clan also have an alchemy hall?”
Hearing all of these things, the three could understand the benefit. Hei already had a notion of alchemy from the web novels he had read, but he wanted to hear the details from this world.
Bai didn’t remember hearing about anything like an alchemy hall in the Wu Clan, so she asked Fang Ren if there was one.
“The Wu Clan? How could those barbarians have one? Our alchemy hall was granted to us by the 5-sects in hopes that we could produce some talented alchemists, given our high rate of fire element cultivators.”
Fang Ren had a face of disgust as she talked about the Wu Clan.
Hearing this, Hei couldn’t help asking:
“Barbarians? Why do you say that?”
He had known of a conflict between the Wu Clan and the Fang Clan, but he was unaware of the details.
The three weren’t bothered about her degrading the Wu Clan but were curious as to why she had such a strong disliking towards them.
Fang Ren answered in an angry tone.
“In the past, a little over 15 years ago, the Mountain Splitting Sword Saint’s inheritance was revealed in the Spring Leaf Forest. The inheritance limited participants to those in the externalisation realm or below.”
The three would have asked for further information about the Mountain Splitting Sword Saint, but that wasn’t the point right now.
“All of the clans in the city decided to allow the younger generation to compete fairly, and no matter who was victorious, there would be no hard feelings.”
At this point, Fang Ren paused for a moment.
“But those Wu Clan barbarians, they snuck some elders in who had suppressed their cultivations. When our Fang Clan found out, we sent our own elders to stop them, but we were too late. The Wu Clan’s elders had already injured the youths from the other clans.”
The three could see that Fang Ren was quite indignant for her clan. They agreed that the Wu Clan’s behaviour was quite atrocious.
“When our elders got there, they fought with the Wu Clan’s elders but as a result, their cultivations were revealed, and they were trapped inside the inheritance. To this day, they are still there, and it would take a powerful expert to set them free.”
Seeing a pause in Fang Ren’s description, Hei asked:
“So, what happened in the end?”
“The Wu Clan’s Wu Dong obtained the Mountain Splitting Sword. With it, he took over as the Wu Clan’s patriarch, because the previous patriarch is stuck in the inheritance. He also started pushing the Wu Clan to get stronger for the coming 5-sect summit.”
The three were aware of this point, they had experienced it first-hand.
“But this Wu Clan. They shamelessly took resources from juniors and redistributed them to their elders, trying to increase their strength.”
Hei was curious about this.
“What do you mean by that? Isn’t it the clan who provides the resources anyway? How could one say that they are taking them away from the juniors?”
“That isn’t the case at all. Most of the resources aren’t gathered by the clans themselves. It is actually the 5 sects who give resources to the clans in order to nurture the younger generation as potential sect members. So, when the Wu Clan denies the juniors their resources, they are going against the wishes of the 5 sects.”
“So that’s how it is.”
Hei had always thought that the Wu Clan had procured the resources on their own, and as such, there was no problem in them deciding how to distribute them.
‘It seems we’re owed some cultivation resources. This is a nice little card to play.’
Hei was thinking about how he would use this information later.
“Mm. Look at me. I have 5 elements mixed roots, the worst of the worst, but I still get my share of cultivation resources. Unlike the Wu Clan where I wouldn’t get a single scrap.”
“So the Fang Clan distributes resources regardless of talent?”
Hei didn’t think this was the best idea. Surely it is better to nurture the talented.
“Not exactly. The more talented disciples receive more, but there is always a road for those of us who aren’t as fortunate. As long as we can show our hard work and improvement, the clan will give us resources to help us grow.”
“Mm. That sounds about right.”
“Right. Most clans operate in a similar way, but the Wu Clan is so voracious in their pursuit of strength that they let the juniors without as much talent starve to death. It is really deplorable.”
“What’s worse is that the 5 sects give plenty of resources such that all of the juniors will have enough. Even if you were to give more resources to the more talented, it wouldn’t affect the less talented, because they wouldn’t be able to make use of those resources anyway. But to give them nothing at all…”
“You’re right. The Wu Clan sucks!”
Bai stepped in.
“That’s right. I didn’t know they were so bad.”
Tianlan also had something to say.
“Well, they’ll get what they deserve.”
The three remembered how there was a large disparity between the Wu Clan juniors. They were surprised to see the less talented cultivators performing extremely poorly, even though it was common knowledge that cultivators with more elements in their spirit roots were often stronger at lower cultivation realms.
They now understood that it was the Wu Clan placing severe limitations on their cultivation resources.
Fang Ren was happy when she found out that they all shared the same sentiment towards the Wu Clan.
“In our Fang Clan, the elders let us know exactly how the resources are being allocated, and any disagreements we have will be heard and dealt with appropriately. So if I were to think I deserved more resources, I could make an appeal, and if I can display adequate results, I would get the resources.”
Hearing this, the three had to admit that they liked the way the Fang Clan did things. It seemed that they deserved to be the number one clan in Spring Leaf City.
After asking more about the alchemy hall, the three found out that in the world there are various occupations, apart from cultivation, that people practice. All of these occupations have branches, where people can qualify and advance through the ranks.
The three were intrigued by this, but Fang Ren told them that Spring Leaf city was too low ranking to have any of these branches.
They were disappointed to hear this, but Fang Ren told them that the 5 sects that would be holding the summit, all had branches of these occupations.
This caused the three to become more interested in the 5-sect summit.
“By the way, what cultivation realms are the three of you in?”
Fang Ren was curious. The three looked so young, that she was hopeful that they were also in the body refining realm.
“We’re all in the body refining realm.”
“Oh? So am I.”
Fang Ren was very happy to hear this. If things went well, she would have three new friends by the end of the day.
Then she realised something.
“Ah. If you’re in the body refining realm, it may be difficult to obtain a quota. Most of the people here are at least in the externalisation realm.”
To this, Bai responded with a smile.
“Our Shao Clan’s body refining method is unmatched in the world.”
Fang Ren clearly didn’t place too much weight on Bai’s words. How could some clan no one’s heard of have the world’s best body refining technique?
“Then I hope you all do well.”
Fang Ren lead the three around the Fang Clan, showing them the sights and telling them the good things about the Fang Clan.
“It’s about time for the preliminary assessment. I’ll take you there.”
Hearing this, Tianlan asked:
“So, what does the preliminary assessment involve?”
“That’s simple. It is a strength assessment. You will strike measuring pillars and if your striking force is over 2,000 jin, you will pass.”
“Eh? That’s all?”
“Well, of course, the higher the number, the better. Just passing will mean you will have to do really well in the other assessments, but if your score is high, say 20,000 jin, your chances of being selected grow exponentially.”
Hearing this, the three turned to each other and Hei asked Fang Ren:
“So if we hit 20,000 jin, that’s good?”
“If you could hit that much you would be halfway there already.”
Fang Ren didn’t take the time to consider Hei’s meaning.
“Then this won’t be very hard. Let’s see what the average level of participants is.”
“It looks like those damn brats are planning to participate in the selection.”
“Hmph. It seems they weren’t so closely tied to the Fang Clan after all. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have to do this.”
“And it looked like that girl was leading them around. Would they need an escort if they were collaborating with the Fang Clan?”
“It’s possible that they have noticed our presence and are doing these things to mislead us.”
“Mm. We should report this as well. I’ll do it.”
“We’ll keep watch.”