After half a day had passed, Xiao Hong wearily returned to their lodgings. Her footsteps echoed in the unusually silent Hall as she walked down it.
Upon reaching the main Hall of the Palace, Xiao Hong was stunned by the sight in front of her.
Numerous disciples from the Purple Spirit Sect had gathered together in the Hall and at the front of them was Bai Hao. As soon as she noticed him, he also noticed her. He briskly walked towards her.
Just as the wary Xiao Hong’s muscles tensed, Bai Hao cupped his fist, bowed slightly, and spoke in a solemn tone, “Junior Sister Xiao, I whole-heartedly apologise for the reprehensible conduct of Inner Disciple Bai Heng and all the distress and humiliation he has caused you!”
He bowed deeper still, “I apologise as the Heir of the Bai Family that you had to face such disrespect from a member of my family!
Xiao Hong was rather stunned for a bit before she shook her head sadly, tears appearing at the corner of her eyes that couldn’t look up from the floor. With a weak and quivering tone, she spoke woefully, “I… It’s alright, Senior Brother Bai. It is neither your fault nor the Bai family’s.” A delicate sniffle escaped her as squeezed out a watery smile. “I-It’s my fault for not being strong enough to control my fate…”
Bai Hao’s heart ached upon seeing the desolate figure of the young girl. How humiliating it must be to be traded like a commodity? By your own sect mate no less? Anger surged within his heart and he really wished he could go over and slash Bai Heng a few hundred times!
The other disciples also felt a righteous anger blazing inside their chests! They too wanted to have Bai Heng punished immediately!
However, there was nothing they could do. They were too weak! Attacking a Fusion Realm? Forget it! Even if their strengths doubled and numbers quadrupled, it would take a few breaths for the weakest Fusion Realm Being to turn them to dust! They were utterly helpless in front of Bai Heng. The difference in Cultivation Realms was so ingrained in their minds that the idea of resisting together did not occur to them at all.
A pained expression crossed the disciples’ faces, as they imagined the bleak future of this Junior Sister. Even if it was a single night, it would forever remain a stain on her honour.
Contrary to her desolate appearance, though, were Xiao Hong’s internal thoughts, ‘Inner Disciple, huh? So what if you have a high, unreachable status? Let’s see you deal with public opinion! Let’s see if you are truly untouchable!’ Xiao Hong’s lowered eyes flashed with a cold light.
One Outer disciple clamouring would mean nothing, two disciples would also mean nothing. Ten Outer Disciples clamouring would not cause a ripple. But hundreds of Outer Disciples? Ones that are the best of the best and are the leaders of the Outer Sect? And among whom the majority are scions of powerful Cultivation Families? Add on to that the most talented Alchemists?
Even the Inner Elders would not be able to ignore something like this! These Outer Disciples were seedlings for the Sect after all!
Just as she was about to make herself seem even more pitiful, Bai Hao spoke, his voice face filled with determination, “Since it was a bet, we just have to win! As long as we win, Junior Sister Xiao will not have to bear such humiliation! As long as we win, everything will be alright!” His voice grew louder as he spoke, “As long as we win, justice will be served!”
“... Senior Brother Bai is right! As long as we win, Junior Sister Xiao will be fine!”
“Win we shall!”
A chorus of disciples exclaimed loudly with intense determination, startling Xiao Hong.
“It doesn’t matter who we are, as long as we protest unitedly, not even an Inner Disciple will come out unscathed!” Jun Meiling’s eyes glowed with a chilly light, she was utterly disgusted with the conduct of this Inner Disciple. She walked over to Xiao Hong and somewhat awkwardly patted her head, before embracing her just as awkwardly. She then said softly, “Whether we win or lose, I will ensure nothing happens to you! I’d like to see if Yuan Feng or that trash Bai Heng can do anything to you with me around!”
Jun Meiling really did have the status to say those words. She might not be the Heiress of the Jun Family of the Seven Great Families, but she was still the great-granddaughter of an Elder. Moreover, she was quite doted on!
Her status was no weaker than Bai Hao’s - but she just liked to keep a low profile. It was just that this matter had really infuriated her.
Xiao Hong who was still somewhat dumbfounded by all this, felt a warm current wash over her heart. And the shattered goodwill towards the Purple Spirit Sect rejuvenated.
‘Yeah, just because there is one trash doesn't mean the whole sect is trash!’ It was somewhat unfair of her to hold distaste towards the entire Sect because of the action of one idiot. So, she decided to give the Sect a chance.
But, at the same time, deep in her heart, she did not forget her determination! The unity induced by the situation might have worked this time, but she was sure it would not work every time.
The next day.
In an expansive clearing, three massive groups of disciples stood together.
Xiao Hong stood at the forefront of one of those groups along with the other Alchemists and the Mission Leaders and Vice Mission Leaders.
“We’ve been here for two hours already! When are the Inner Disciples gonna come?!” He Ping was utterly bored. As a hyper-active Shounen Protagonist, he simply couldn’t sit still. Xiao Hong truly wondered how he ever reached Earth Disaster at all.
Just as He Ping was about to continue complaining, two suffocating aurae billowed over, silencing all the disciples present.
Xiao Hong looked up at the sky with the other disciples. She saw two figures flying over from different directions. As they grew closer, Xiao Hong immediately noticed one of her newest enemies: Bai Heng. Unlike the last time she saw him, where he simply walked on the Void, this time around, an illusion of a titanic White Dragon surrounded him. With every step of his, the Dragon let out deafening roars causing the surroundings to tremble as though there was an earthquake!
Winding Dragon Steps! One of the more powerful movement Techniques in the Sect - it was a mid-Heaven Rank movement Technique. The fact that he could display the illusory White Dragon meant that he had cultivated it to a Small Accomplishment.
At the same time, an ear-splitting cry nearly tore through the disciples' eardrums, forcing them to cover their ears! The other figure also expanded quickly, turning into the form of a gargantuan red Roc. On top of its head sat a handsome-looking man with a casual smirk on his face. It was the second one of her newest enemies: Yuan Feng!
To Xiao Hong, who had cultivated several fire-attributed Spell Arts to Perfection, she recognised it as a completely ordinary Fireball spell!
So, how did this Spell Art, which was supposed to be weak, turn into an overpowered Roc?
Well, when a cultivator reaches Perfection in their Technique, they can use the full power of the Technique flawlessly. But beyond Perfection, there was another realm - called the Myriad Transformations Mastery! It allowed the cultivator to use their Technique as they pleased - they could shape their Technique into almost any form. A fireball could become a fire arrow, a flame spear, or even a firebird.
Beyond that was the Instinctive Control level! At this level, one could control their Techniques like their limbs, like an extension of themselves! Yuan Feng’s Roc, for example, was a Yellow Rank Fireball Spell that had reached the Instinctive Control level. He could control it however he wanted!
Myriad Transformations was a level Xiao Hong had no hope of reaching. Why? Because her system stopped at Perfection. The system could only learn for her when there is a clear path ahead with enough information. It required one to go beyond the Technique and turn it into your own ability.
It could not make something out of nothing. That was impossible. Though, Xiao Hong did believe there was a way to cultivate Techniques beyond Perfection using the system. What it needed was information. As long as she could give it that information, it could cultivate the Technique for her.
She shook her head; now was not the time for thinking about all that.
In a matter of moments, they had crossed several miles and were already floating over their respective groups of disciples!
Xiao Hong marvelled at their insane speed. When she compared it to the speed of her Earth Burrow… She had no illusions that she could escape. It was simply an exercise in futility.
“Where’s Shi Yingjun?” Bai Heng glanced towards the Adamantine Fist Sect Disciples.
“He’s coming.” Yuan Feng replied casually looking into the distance.
Just as the disciples below were feeling confused, the ground shook.
The ground continued to rumble to repeat every few seconds, getting stronger each time. It was as if an enormous Prehistoric Beast was stomping its way towards them.
The various disciples turned to look in the direction Yuan Feng did. Immediately they noticed a trail of dust rising into the sky. At the front of it was a man that was more than two metres tall, rushing over.
Each of his footfalls caused the entire ground beneath him to crater - each of them was more than 10 times the size Xiao Hong made when she was venting her anger on the ground! ‘Well, it is to be expected! He is a Martial Artist after all!’ Xiao Hong mused, feeling the horrible torture the ground was undergoing.
Yes! This Xianxia world also had Martial Arts. And Martial Path wasn’t in any way inferior to the Immortal Path. The fact that the Adamantine Fist Sect could stand on equal ground with the Purple Spirit Sect and the Mystic Sky Sect was proof enough.
“Haha Brother Yuan! I haven’t seen you in a long time!” a deep baritone reverberated through the disciple's chests. “Let’s spar!”
Yuan Feng’s polite face immediately disappeared and his eye twitched rapidly. “Brother Shi, we have more important things to do, let’s spar later! Since Brother Bai is also here, we should do our jobs!” Yuan Feng tried to divert his attention to Bai Feng instead.
Shi Yingjun looked at Bai Heng and a contemptuous sneer appeared on his face as he snorted, “Heh!”
Bai Heng immediately flew into a rage! “Shi Yingjun, what do you mean?!” He had already been in a bad mood ever since the word of him betting on the dignity of a sect member got out. Now there was this musclehead who dared to mock him!
The sneer on Shi Yingjun’s face widened, “What do I mean? Of fucking course I want to show my contempt for you - a trash who would trade away the dignity of his Sect member for a measly pill!”
Then Shi Yingjun turned away from Bai Heng, completely ignoring his existence and turned straight to Xiao Hong, who was utterly baffled, and pointed straight at her, “Say, girl, how about you come to our Sect? As long as you return to the Adamantine Fist Sect with me, I will guarantee that the best resources will be reserved for you! And you will also be under my protection.” He slapped his broad chest, “As long as I’m alive, no one can force you into anything! As long as I’m alive, I will not allow a single person to harm you!”
Xiao Hong: “???”
What? Where am I? Who am I? What am I doing?
‘Also, why does this sound like a confession?!’ Xiao Hong was confused.
However, despite her confusion, she still replied while giving him a bow to show her gratitude, “Thank you, Senior, for your kind intentions. Xiao Hong will be ever grateful to you. But Xiao Hong’s heart will always be with the Purple Spirit Sect - it would be a gross disservice to betray the love and affection of my Martial Siblings.”
The surrounding disciples felt a warmth in their hearts. Despite being offered such great conditions, she would still refuse the Inner Disciple for them! She would risk offending an Inner Disciple of the Adamantine Fist Sect for them!
Suddenly, the image of Xiao Hong in their hearts changed. Before she was only a very talented and beautiful girl; but now she was a true companion! Her refusal of an Inner Disciple’s generous offer for a Sect that had betrayed her trust… That was true loyalty! Their hearts were moved and many resolved to protect her with all their might!
Actually, while Shi Yingjun might seem a little straightforward, he had a motive for trying to poach Xiao Hong. He’d noticed the way the other Alchemists seemed to gather just slightly behind her - as if they acknowledged her skill in Alchemy as the best among them! This was rather astonishing since Alchemists - especially genius Alchemists - were very proud, they would never acknowledge someone who hadn’t thoroughly defeated them in Alchemy! Such a talent was worthy of poaching!
Plus, as Martial Artists did not have Zhenqi, they found refining pills incredibly hard and had to trade with the other Sects. If they could nurture a prodigious Alchemist, they could largely alleviate this dependency!
So, he decided that, now, when the feelings Xiao Hong had for her Sect were at their lowest, he could poach her. However low the chance might be, it was still a chance!
Sadly, it failed.
“Such loyalty is truly… Truly commendable! To think that you have to bear with such trash-” Shi Yunjing looked at her with admiration.
“Enough! This is the matter of the Purple Spirit Sect! Do not overstep your bounds, Shi Yunjing!” Bai Heng was truly enraged. This bastard really dared to poach a member of his Sect from right under his nose while stepping on it!
“Oh, what are you going to do about it?! I don’t think you can even take a single punch of mine with your lacking strength!
“Ah! The Space is syncing.” interrupted by Yuan Feng. Shi Yunjing and Bai Heng glared at each other for a bit before turning to a spot in the wide blue sky.