After a good night’s sleep, the three woke up and prepared themselves for the day.
Bai and Mei changed from their pyjamas back into their regular clothing. Hei decided to stay in his pyjamas.
He had nothing to do today, so he had no need to change.
Thinking about the trip they would soon be taking back home, Hei asked his sisters if they were still continuing in their baking training.
They both gave affirmative responses. And of course, Hei had also been keeping up with his training.
Before they left to join the other new apprentices in their activities, Hei showed his sisters the kitchen he had created for their residence.
The kitchen had actually been the room he had worked on the most and the room he took the most care in creating.
He had put in five ovens, all with stoves on top, the type that used heated plates rather than gas, because he had access to heating formations and had no need for open flames.
All the surfaces were glossy black stone he had created out of the mountain’s materials. There was an island and plenty of storage space for ingredients.
He even added a fridge/freezer that wasn’t strictly necessary, but since it was the kitchen, he decided to put it in anyway.
Seeing this kitchen, both Bai and Mei had sparkly eyes. They could see how practical it was for baking bread.
The fact that there were five ovens, meant that five different people would be able to bake bread at the same time, or one person could bake multiple batches simultaneously.
These ovens, unlike the ovens that they had used previously, had temperature dials and timers.
This meant they would be able to leave the bread unattended and come back when it was fully cooked.
They weren’t sure how Xiulan and Shao Chen would take this particular feature, as they enjoyed paying close attention to the bread as it was baked.
They may never even use this feature.
After having shown his sisters the kitchen, Hei had them go to the main sect where most of the activities took place.
With nothing else to do, Hei recreated his original room, where he would be staying most of the time.
He then went over to Jingfei and helped her in her formation practice.
The new goal was to have her become a two-star array master. This would be done by having her pass the second advancement assessment.
Since they had already purchased all of the one-star array master books, the process didn’t take too long. Within a few days, Jingfei was ready to take the assessment.
In that same time, Qiuyue had shown up a few times to exchange tips on formations and alchemy. She also joined Jingfei for the advancement assessment.
Both of them passed the assessment without issue and became the youngest two-star array masters in the sect. The news spread out quickly and before long, everyone in the sect knew about it.
Those who had been there at the competition knew that it was likely the Shao Clan’s technique which was the cause of this.
This caused a lot of juniors to become interested and start thinking of how they could also gain access to the Shao Clan’s formation techniques.
If one had to put it simply, the Shao Clan’s formation techniques were far above the Radiant Jade Sect’s techniques. It wouldn’t even be a fair competition if one were to compare the two.
That was made painfully obvious by Jingfei’s sudden rise in proficiency.
As a result, Bai and Mei received no small number of requests for assistance, which they happily complied with.
They made sure to always mention how their brother, being the hero he is, decided to let all who wanted to learn be accepted.
This was part of their plan to help Hei become a hero in the hearts of the disciples.
Other than that, Bai and Mei were constantly working on Qiuyue. By Bai’s calculations, it was only a matter of time before she cracked.
Because Jingfei was now a two-star array master, she was able to purchase the two-star books, which she did.
But the cost of these was quite high. In order to purchase all of them, she used 50,000 merit points. Taking quite the chunk out of her assets.
But that wasn’t a problem, because she knew she was using the merit points wisely.
With the new books Jingfei had brought over, Hei created the two-star manuals.
He waited for the end of the week, where Bai and Mei came back for the day. That was the day he had decided to return home to the bakery.
As they were leaving the sect, they were stopped by the guards and warned that leaving the sect was ill-advised.
Of course, they ignored this warning. They couldn’t really see there being any real threats that could affect them. And if there were, then the sect wasn’t safe anyway.
With that, Hei summoned a dragon and all three stood on it and flew back to Spring Leaf City, which they hadn’t been to for 2 weeks now.
It wasn’t a very long time, but it was the first time Bai had been away from Xiulan. She had always been with her mother, never without.
Even though Xiulan wasn’t exactly the most doting of parents, she had a special place in all of her children’s hearts. There was just something about her.
When they got home, instead of being warmly greeted, Xiulan and Shao Chen looked at them with stern expressions and had them bake for them.
They had already decided that if their baking skills had diminished in the slightest, they would be pulling them out of the sect.
Shao Chen and Xiulan had seen their wife and mother fall down the same path. One day, all of a sudden, she was hit by the cultivation bug and forgot all about her baking.
They wouldn’t be letting the same thing happened to the kids.
Even though this was a very strange welcome, it didn’t feel odd to the three at all.
They smiled as they entered the kitchen and baked their bread, presenting them proudly for Xiulan and Shao Chen to try.
Hei’s and Bai’s breads were, as usual, tasty, and Mei’s bread was… not as bad as it was before.
Having seen that the three were not slacking in their training, Xiulan and Shao Chen gave them the warm welcome.
After spending some time talking to their mother and grandfather, the three set up the defence formations that Hei had prepared in advance.
These formations were enough to stop several minute realm cultivators, which should have been the highest level of enemy they could make during this part of their adventure.
If any enemies did attack, Hei would be notified by the formations and would rush over to handle the issue.
As they moved up, or if they gained new knowledge of formations, they would come back to reinforce the formations, making sure to keep their family safe at all times.
They didn’t really have to worry about Shao Chen and Xiulan leaving the bakery, because they were self-sufficient.
They had no need to leave unless it was some social thing, which didn’t seem to be part of the usual routine of either of them.
Even so, Hei had warned them that they may get some unwanted trouble and advised them to stay within the bakery. But even if they were to leave, Hei trusted that Liling would be able to protect them.
That was because he could feel her spiritual perception activate when he and his sisters neared the city. It intensified and he could feel warning signals as they approached the bakery.
It wasn’t until he informed her that it was him that she stopped her observation. Evidently, she was taking her task seriously.
Hei decided to reward her later.
Having achieved their goal, the three flew back to the sect where they had another round of sleepover shenanigans and went to sleep.
From there, there were two weeks left until the sect initiation, which would be when Bai and Mei gained more access to the sect, and Hei would get his identity token, which he still didn’t have.
Apparently, male disciples needed to go through initiation first before they could be given an identity token.
This meant Hei was unable to buy anything or really do anything within the sect without Jingfei or one of his sisters there to purchase things for him.
So, for the next two weeks, he worked on his communication system.
After asking Jingfei to get some information on communication jades, he began his plan, which would let him communicate with his siblings no matter where they were.
Other than that, he helped Jingfei with her alchemy every now and then.
Qiuyue would sometimes show up to exchange some information on formations.
Bai and Mei would come every week and they would have some fun.
Despite working on his communication system, Hei had a lot of free time on his hands, which he used to practice his baking or stare out of his room into the scenery.
He didn’t realise that he was becoming more and more like Xiulan.
Before he knew it, the day for the sect initiation came.
The initiation was held at a large venue.
In the morning, Bai and Mei had already come to the Man Peak so that they could go with their brother.
Since Jingfei was not a new disciple, she stayed at the Man Peak and did her daily activities. She had even started practising baking in her free time.
She wondered why the Shao Clan emphasised baking so much, so she wanted to give a try and see what happened.
For the most part, she couldn’t really see any benefit.
But there had to be something about it, right?
When they got there, Bai and Mei were swarmed by a bunch of young ladies.
They all turned to Hei.
“Is this the ‘Hero Hei’ you keep talking about?”
Similar questions were asked by a lot of them.
Hearing this, Hei hid his face in his collar and moved behind Mei, who was as tall as he was.
“No. I-I’m not a hero.”
Hei was trying to create a contrast between what Bai and Mei were saying, and what he actually displayed.
He thought it would be extra impactful if he pretended to be a timid person, but when the time came, he would be the first one to put himself in harm’s way.
If Jingfei were to see the way Hei was acting right now, her eyes would be opened wide. Since when had he been so reserved?
Before Mei could continue, Bai sent her a private message.
Even Bai and Mei were surprised by Hei’s behaviour, but Bai could tell he was doing this on purpose, so she decided to play along with his ruse.
She turned to the young ladies.
“Brother can be quite shy around new people…”
Bai didn’t think what Hei was doing was a good idea. In her eyes, the way he was was the best. To put on an act like this…
She decided to give him some wiggle room to change his act later.
This would have been fine had they not all been there at the competition that took place a few weeks ago.
When had Hei been shy?
This was even more so for the Fang Clan juniors among them.
They had all taken Hei’s Qi manipulation classes. Where was his shyness when he was insulting them?
And then there was the 5-sect summit, which was whole other level of not being shy.
“To tell you the truth, the reason Brother uses illusions is to hide his-”
Before Bai could continue, she felt a tugging at her sleeve.
She turned around to Hei, who was giving her a pleading look. She placed her hand on his head and stroked it gently.
“There, there, Brother. We’re all friends here.”
Hei nodded his head slightly, as he peaked over Mei’s shoulder.
The young ladies were confused. What was all this?
“I would like to ask you all to help him break out of his shell.”
They could only laugh at the ridiculousness of the whole thing.
And so, Hei, Bai and Mei entered the venue surrounded by a very positive atmosphere. These young ladies didn’t seem to have even the slightest reservations when it came to Hei.
Evidently, they hadn’t been influenced by the sect yet.
When they entered the venue, they all sat together, surrounded by the fellow apprentice sisters.
“Didn’t they call you the Dark-Skinned Con Man? Or is it Hero Hei now? Which one is the truth?”
“Mm. I also want to know.”
This young lady poked Hei’s cheek with a mischievous smile.
“Are you trying to trick us with illusions?”
Hei again pulled his head into his collar.
“I’m not either one of those things. I’m just a regular person. Another fellow disciple.”
He then started moving his legs, trying to look uncomfortable.
Seeing that he was so shy, the young ladies continued to tease him.
“Hey, Hero Hei.”
“My Hero, the con man.”
“There, there, fellow apprentice brother Hei. We’re all friends here. Pft.”
Those who didn’t know Hei were enjoying themselves.
The Fang Clan Juniors and those who had been at the summit held in Spring Leaf City, not so much.
They just wondered what planet they had landed on.
After a while, an elder entered the venue and stood on stage.
She got the juniors to quiet down before proceeding to explain how the initiation would proceed.
Apparently, it was split into two sections. First would be an introductory lecture where the juniors would learn of their responsibilities. The second was a tournament for the new juniors.
New juniors were all classified as outer disciples, regardless of their cultivation. So, even transcendent realm cultivators were still classified as outer disciples.
The sect cared more for growth rather than current ability.
After explaining these things, she began the lecture.
The lecture didn’t contain any of the extreme teachings Hei had expected.
It was about general safety precautions and the elder was giving reasonable advice.
For example, the elder had said there is strength in numbers, more specifically there is safety in numbers.
She described how if one were to go to an unknown place, going there with trusted companions would reduce the risk of being the target of ill intent.
Another thing she mentioned was to avoid meeting strangers in private places.
After giving the disciples some safety precautions, the elders started to speak about how the sect functioned and all of the facilities it had.
She then described the sect’s expectations for disciples and the consequences of failing to meet those expectations.
After she had finished her lecture, she gave the disciples the opportunity to return home and continue with their lives unaffiliated with the sect.
Any who chose to remain would be bound by the sect’s terms and would be punished accordingly should they violate them.
No one decided to leave, and so it was time to hand out the uniforms for the disciples.
These uniforms were similar to the robes Jingfei and Qiuyue wore. There they were purple robes with a second layer of pink flowers.
When Hei got up to collect his own, the elder clicked her tongue and gave him his robe along with his identity token.
It seemed they had hoped he would choose to go home, but unfortunately for them, that was not the case.
After taking a look at his robe, Hei’s eyebrows twitched. He didn’t feel like wearing this thing at all, so he made his own version using similar design concepts.
He made himself a long dark-purple jacket, decorated with flowers. But his flowers were golden rather than pink. He also created a matching set of clothes, making sure to add gold to the hems.
After living in this world for a while, Hei realised that they didn’t know how cool long jackets and cloaks were. So, he took this opportunity to be the originator.
Sure, it would be a liability in battle, but it would be undeniably cool.
After that was settled, the elder led the disciples to the venue of the tournament that was to be taking place.
When they got there, the disciples were split into cultivation groups and were given numbers that decided their positions within the tournament brackets.
Each cultivation realm had its own tournament and the top placing juniors within each tournament would be given special privileges and more resources by the sect.
Apparently, there would be an inner disciple selection assessment not too long later, where juniors would be given the chance to advance to inner disciples.
Hei wasn’t interested in this competition. The results were obvious. He and his sisters were going to sweep the whole thing.
“First round, first match. Shao Hei against Shao Bai.”