Chapter 123: A Transfer Order
Translator: Novel Saga Editor: Novel Saga
Shi Mu was occupied with the drawing of magic charms in his room when he heard a knock on his door.
He raised his eyebrows, and stood-up to open the door. He was surprised to see the person standing outside.
He had expected to see a disciple with a request for refining magic charms. However, he saw a tall and sturdy man standing at his door. It was none other than Jin Chen.
"How did Brother Jin get the time to visit his younger brother?" Shi Mu asked in a suspicious tone. Then, he led him inside his room.
Jin Chen looked around, and fixed his gaze on the stone table. There was a stack of charm papers, a bottle of ink, a magic brush and other stuff lying on the table in a disorderly manner. A few finished magic charms were also kept on the table.
"Brother Shi is extremely hard-working. You're working even while recuperating from wounds. You should take rest," Jin Chen smiled. He didn't mention the reason behind his visit.
"Senior, you're mocking me. I'm just recuperating; it's really boring. So, I chose to refine a few magic charms to kill time," Shi Mu replied with a faint smile.
Jin Chen picked-up some paper charms, and started to observe them.
"Brother Shi, your drawing technique is extremely smooth. Moreover, your magic charms seem to be full of spirit power. Going by your success ratio... it really seems that you've got the knack for making paper charms... I've seen many Charm Magicians of the Spirit Rank. But, none of them can achieve a success rate such as yours. Unfortunately, our stronghold can't enjoy your presence any longer," Jin Chen sighed and spoke in a tone filled with regret.
"What does Brother Jin mean?" Shi Mu's expression changed.
"Hehe... I've just received a transfer order from the union. They want you to be transferred to the north-east stronghold. I had nothing to do today. So, I thought to deliver this news to you in-person," Jin Chen chuckled softly. He then took out a jade slip from his shirt, and passed it over to Shi Mu.
Shi Mu was startled. He received the jade slip, and examined it with his spirit power.
It was a transfer order... duly signed by the union. They wanted him to rush to a secret stronghold in the Xuan Ling Mountains. He had to report there within ten days. The map of that place was attached to the slip. The surrounding terrain of the stronghold was also marked on it.
Shi Mu felt delighted as he saw the map.
The indicated stronghold seemed to be quite far from the battlefront according to the map. So, it was supposed to be relatively safer than his present stronghold.
However, the jade slip didn't specify any reason for Shi Mu's sudden transfer. But, it was never a bad thing to be transferred to the rear area.
"Sorry for giving you so much trouble, Senior Jin. I'll comply with the union's order... and set out within two days." Shi Mu put away the jade slip. Then, he cupped his hands against his chest and said respectfully.
"May I ask Brother Shi for a little favor before he leaves?" Jin Chen hesitated for a while. He then asked in an embarrassed tone.
"Brother Jin, if you've something to say... then please feel free to say it. I'll do everything I can to help you," Shi Mu replied without thinking even once.
"Good! First of all, I would like to express a genuine gratitude to you on behalf of all disciples of this stronghold. Brother Shi can also see that the war at the front is getting intense with each passing day. So, it requires a huge supply of magic charms. I hope Brother Shi can refine some magic charms for us before he leaves. To be honest, I wanted to put forward this matter after your full recovery. But now... that this order has been issued... it'll be too late if I don't ask you now... I've already brought the detailed list of the magic charms along with the materials needed to refine them. The feat points for this task will be fifty percent more than usual," Jin Chen clasped his hands in obeisance as he said. Then, he took out another jade slip from his bosom, and placed it on the table. He also placed a pile of magic papers along with several spirit stones.
"You can rest assured, Brother Jin. I'll finish this task on time," Shi Mu smiled and spoke in a confident manner.
Shi Mu held a favorable impression of Jin Chen in his heart. Jin Chen was a calm and sensible leader of the stronghold. He had always been fair to his fellow disciples. Moreover, this task could earn Shi Mu extra feat points. He would also get a good opportunity to hone his refining skills. So, he couldn't turn down this offer.
Jin Chen felt exhilarated as he heard Shi Mu's positive reply. He thanked him profusely, and then bid his farewell.
After ten days.... deep in the Xuan Ling Mountains...
A young man stood at the foot of a several thousand feet high mountain peak. The youth wore a short black jacket. He was a tall youth, and had a well-built stature. He stood on top of a huge stone. He was observing the surrounding area; his eyebrows were slightly creased.
It was none other than Shi Mu.
He had found this place by following the map he had received with the jade slip. He had been wandering around this area for a while. But, no one had showed-up to receive him.
"The entrance to the stronghold must've been concealed by a magic formula. They might be expecting me to find it myself..." Shi Mu was speechless.
He had only a superficial knowledge of the Formula Magic. Therefore, it wasn't easy for him to see through an illusionary formula set-up by someone else.
However, he had his own ways.
He jumped down from the huge stone. His pupils narrowed and turned golden. He then focused his eyes on the ground, and observed it closely.
He squatted down near a patch of grass after a while. A blurred footprint could be seen on the ground. The footprint was either too old or had been washed away by the rain. This had made it invisible to ordinary eyes.
Shi Mu's lips creased into a smile.
The footprint was quite shallow. But, it couldn't escape his extraordinary eyesight. The footprint looked like a clear mark left by a huge elephant in Shi Mu's eyes.
Shi Mu stood-up, and started to walk in the direction of the footprints. Many other human traces also appeared as he continued to walk.
Most of the traces were left on either some rocks or solid ground. So, they were very shallow, and couldn't be recognized easily. But, Shi Mu had found the right direction.
The marks grew clearer as he continued to advance forward. Moreover, all the traces were leading him in the same direction. This boosted his confidence.
He stood in front of a mountain wall a moment later. He noticed that all traces had converged and vanished there.
His pupils became golden once again. He examined the stone wall closely. Then, he gently rested his hand on the surface of the wall. Suddenly, his hand sank into the stone.
"That's it..." Shi Mu nodded and retracted his arm.
Suddenly, a hole split open on the stone wall with a flash of a white light. A green-robed man stood at the entrance right in front of him.
"You must be Shi Mu of the Black Demon Sect. Welcome to the Rat's Nest. I'm Qing Feng - a disciple of the Tian Yin Sect." The man smiled and looked at Shi Mu from head-to-toe. Then, he introduced himself.
"Yes... I'm Shi Mu. Thank you for welcoming me, Brother Qing." Shi Mu took out the identity token of the union and the jade slip that contained the transfer order.
"Come in..." Qing Feng didn't stretch out his hand to receive the token and the transfer order. Instead, he stepped aside, and invited Shi Mu inside.
Shi Mu withdrew his hand without even batting an eye. Then, he advanced forward and stepped in.
Suddenly, he felt a flash of light in front of his eyes. Then, he found himself standing in front of a spacious passageway; it led to an underground place. The green-robed man stood beside him.
Shi Mu focused his eyes, but couldn't see anything. A pitch-black darkness was spread throughout the passageway. Shi Mu couldn't figure out the length of the passageway owing to the darkness.
"Brother Shi could find this place all by himself. It's very unusual. You indeed deserve Elder Jin's recommendation," Qing Feng chuckled as he said.
"Recommendation? Elder Jin?" Shi Mu was taken aback; so much so that his feet froze.
Qing Feng also stopped walking as he noticed Shi Mu's startled expression. So, he asked in a puzzled tone, "What's wrong? Can it be that Brother Shi doesn't know anything about this place?"
"That's right... I just received the union's transfer order... asking me to report to this stronghold within ten days. I don't have any idea what this place is all about," Shi Mu replied with honesty.
"It seems that Brother Shi really doesn't know anything. Well, I'll explain it to you. This isn't an ordinary stronghold. It was especially formed to draw magic Charms for the union." Qing Feng looked at Shi Mu with a surprised look on his face. He pondered for a while, and then said.
"A stronghold for drawing magic charms?"
Shi Mu was dumbstruck.
"The battles have become extremely intense these days. So, the union has temporarily formed this place in order to cope-up with the huge demand for low-grade charms on the battlefront. The union has gathered the elite Charm Magicians of various Sects to fulfil this goal. Brother Shi's charm-making skills seemed to have left a profound impression on some high-level elders. In addition, Elder Jin Xiao Chai of your Sect had strongly recommended you to the union. So, you've been sent here," Qing Feng continued to lead him as he explained.
Shi Mu's eyebrows wrinkled as he heard these words.
He had met Jin Xiao Chai only once at the time of joining the Sect. He had never seen her after that. It baffled him to think that a Xian Tian Warrior had paid so much attention to him. He didn't know whether it was a blessing or a misfortune.
A few disturbing thoughts swarmed-up in his mind. But, he continued to follow Qing Feng in silence.
They continued to walk for some time. Then, they arrived at the end of the passageway. There was a stone door in front of them.
Qing Feng flipped his hand, and took out a white jade piece; it was as big as a human palm. A few charm characters were carved on it. He shook it gently. Then, a beam of white light shot out and sank into the stone door.
The two doors opened, and revealed what was inside...
A huge hall appeared in front of their eyes. It was almost a hundred feet in radius. More than a hundred people were walking back-and-forth inside the hall. Dazzling lights could often be seen soaring towards the sky.
A number of stove-like red furnaces were set-up in the hall. They were spouting raging flames in a continuous manner. Two or three people stood beside each of the furnaces. They were inserting various kinds of ores, animal furs, bones and other materials into the burning stoves from time-to-time.
Shi Mu was familiar with these sort of stoves. These red furnaces weren't used for refining pills... but for making charm papers.
A burly man stood beside one of the burning furnaces. He occasionally poured a little amount of thick green liquid into a square mold that was kept beside the stove.
The liquid would quickly cool down. Then, it would condense into a piece of green charm paper. It was then carefully picked-up, and put away by another fellow who stood nearby.
There were more than forty similar stoves in the hall. They were being used for making various kinds of charm papers.
"Keep moving." Qing Feng waited for a moment to allow Shi Mu to observe. He then started to advance towards the other side of the hall.
The workers who stood beside the stoves seemed respectful towards Qing Feng. They bowed to him as they saw him, and cast a curious look towards Shi Mu.
However, Qing Feng didn't pay attention to these people. He led Shi Mu out of the hall. Then, they entered another long passageway.
A few stone doors could be seen along the passageway; they were tightly-closed. Shi Mu couldn't understand the purpose of the closed doors.
They arrived before another huge stone door after a while.
"The hall that you just saw was formed only for the workers. They've been assigned here to make charm papers. But, this place is especially made for making magic charms. Several elite Charm Magicians of various Sects work in this hall. You're new here. So, you can take help from others... whenever you need," Qing Feng said. He then pulled out the white jade once again. A beam of white light fled from the jade, and submerged into the stone door. The door started to open slowly.
There was another huge hall on the other side of the door. It had a circular arc-shaped ceiling. Several white chandeliers were hung at every few feet. The entire hall was illuminated by them.
There were several stone desks in the hall. They were piled-up with various kinds of charm papers, magic brushes, magic ink and other materials.
There were twenty or thirty of such stone tables. Almost all of them were occupied by at least one disciple. Some of the disciples looked fully absorbed in drawing magic charms; some others were discussing something in low voices.
There were also a few independent rooms around the hall. All of them were closed; except for the one nearest to the exit.
Moreover, there was a huge white jade wall on the other side of the hall. Several rows of characters were inscribed on its surface. They seemed to be the missions assigned to these disciples.
Most of the people noticed the two individuals who had just arrived. But, they just glanced at them. Only a couple of people nodded to Qing Feng; they then resumed their work.