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 Chapter 67 - Refused

"Brother Xiao, we, the Blood Dragons, also have two adepts[A], whom you can work with to increase your skills! Plus, any Adept in our group gets a free monthly ration of pills, and this Spirit-Strengthening Pill is one of them." Seeing that Xiao Ming was somehow moved by Jin Huan's persuasion, Qu Kun hurriedly threw in a more tantalizing bonus.

"Brother Xiao, this monthly ration of free pills is nothing, I didn't mention it because I consider it a trifling gift. It would be shameful to go around talking about it! Who would do such a thing to a really talented brother? We have a better offer: a manuscript by a Spirit-Grade Adept from many years ago, telling us about his practice and skills. It is sure to be more helpful than a few pills. As long as you join us then you can, at any time, just come and read the script. You wouldn't believe the progress you can make after reading it just once!" Jin Huan continued to speak with eloquence, his eyes radiating with pride.

The sight of two major associations fighting over Xiao Ming made the other disciples jealous. However, Stone Bai stood beside his friend with a genuine smile. He truly felt happy for his talented friend, forgetting that he had been the hero of this match.

"A manuscript by a Spirit-Grade Adept!" Xiao Ming was elated, turning his head, he sought support from his friend Stone Bai, who silently gave him an encouraging smile.

This exasperated Qu Kun, but before he could say anything, Xiao Ming's spoke with an unwavering voice, "Since senior Jin has invited me so earnestly, I shall not turn down his goodwill. Would senior Jin receive me as a member of his honorable Holy Spirit Association?"

The golden-haired youth was overjoyed to hear so, "A most sensible decision! You won't regret it! May I ask if brother Bai would also think of joining us?" Jin Huan laughed delightedly, trying his luck if he could get one more promising guy into his gang today.

"Since my good friend brother Xiao has joined your respectful group, I shall follow him gladly." Stone Bai replied with a bright smile.

The golden-haired youth thought he had got the first prize today.

Qu Kun was now in a most awkward situation, losing face in front of so many junior disciples, most of whom had been bullied by him. He would have trembled with fury had it not been for the large crowd watching. The last thing that he wanted was to be laughed at. Suppressing his anger, he caught a glimpse of Blue Phoenix talking with another girl, and his eyes brightened a bit. He did not believe that he would fail twice in one day. Raising his eyebrows, he managed to put on a face filled with interest as he walked up to Blue Phoenix, "Miss Blue, I haven't seen you in ages! How did you manage that breath-taking performance? I must say I am really quite impressed with your excellent bloodline."

"Your flatter me, senior Qu," Blue Phoenix turned her head and smiled charmingly.

"Miss Blue is a real elite, and must rank at the top of the new disciples. By the way, have you considered my offer? Would you like to join our Blood Dragon?" Qu Kun pursued his topic.

"Well,that..." Blue Phoenix rolled her eyeballs, giving a vague answer as if she still had not made up her mind.

"Miss Blue, I've got a piece of advice for you. The new disciples won't differ much in strength, so if you got help from someone more experienced, you would progress much faster. Practicing all by yourself won't get you far." Qu Kun said in a serious tone.

Blue Phoenix's beautiful eyes blinked. Casting a sidelong glance at Stone Bai and Xiao Ming, she sank deep into thought. Finally, after several minutes, she nodded her head gently and said, "Since senior Qu has invited me twice, turning down such a genuine offer would be disrespectful."

"Awesome! Sister Blue, it must be a really lucky day. The leader of our Blood Dragon happens to be in the valley today, let's go meet him. Our leader is a heroic and generous one, he would be delighted to have you, a talented bloodline warrior, join our group!" Qu Kun made the invitation in a joyful manner.

Blue Phoenix did not hesitate this time, and, after a few words with the girl she had been talking with, she turned to follow Qu Kun into the valley.

Seeing Qu Kun's figure moving in the distance, Jin Huan snorted with contempt, then turned to continue his conversation with Stone Bai and Xiao Ming.

As there was not much left to see, the other disciples around the ring felt bored and left with despondent hearts, bemoaning their lost chance. Shi Mu also intended to leave and he bid goodbye to Stone Bai and Xiao Ming. But something crossed Stone Bai's mind, and his eyes shone with excitement at the thought. "Wait a sec, brother Shi!" He stopped Shi Mu and turned to whisper something into the golden-haired youth's ears. Then the golden-haired youth heard the information and his eyes glimmered.

"So I believe this is brother Shi Mu? I heard from brother Bai that you are also a very promising warrior, moreover, one with a bloodline. Did you counter a punch from that Qu Kun guy? Well done! You are also welcome to join our Holy Spirit Association," the golden-haired youth said generously. [B]

Shi Mu was not expecting this. In an instant, many thoughts flashed through his mind as he tried to make a decision. At last, he smiled gently, clasped his hands and said, "I am undeserving of this compliment by senior Jin! I was only born with great physical strength and have learned a physical art that made my skin rather tough. That's why I managed to take senior Qu's fist. But actually I've got no talent at all and I don't want to shame your honorable association with my poor strength." This said he gave Jin Huan an apologetic smile.

A trace of suspicion flashed across Jin Huan's face, but he did not get angry at Shi Mu's refusal. Unexpectedly, he nodded approvingly and said, "It is fine that you have your own pursuits. There is nothing wrong with that." The reason he did not persist was self-evident: a low-grade bloodline warrior was not worth his time.

Stone Bai was somehow disappointed, knowing that Shi Mu would not join them, but he was not in the position to refuse. To hide his embarrassment, he averted his face, taking up a conversation with Jin Huan. Shi Mu was left standing alone, and the sight of the three in a heated conversation pained him, reminding him what a lonely road he had chosen. With a heavy heart, he turned himself around and walked away[C].

After a few steps, a familiar voice reached him from behind, "Hold on, brother Shi, it's me."

Shi Mu turned and saw the craggy-faced Huo Mao approaching him.

"Senior Huo, I never thought you were a part of the Holy Spirit Association." Shi Mu smiled as he greeted Huo Mao. He was easy to get along with.

"Nothing to brag about, I don't do much in the group, just a bit of running around." Huo Mao waved the topic off.

Shi Mu was surprised, but before he made any comment, Huo Mao sighed and continued to speak. He looked around and then spoke in a hushed tone, "Actually, I think you made a wise decision. You just entered so it's natural you don't know this, but both the Holy Spirit Association and Blood Dragon are really powerful groups in our sect, without real strength you wouldn't get anything from them! They'll just use you as a servant, some may even bully you or push you out. Better to stay clear of the groups and practice by yourself, you will have more freedom to grow that way!"

"Really? You made me feel much better about my choice." Shi Mu nodded and sighed with relief. Huo Mao had just confirmed his estimation: the reason he refused Jin Huan's invitation was that, on one hand, his sense of self-respect would not let him accept this condescending help. On the other, it was exactly for fear of being used as a servant in a group full of strong guys. After all, affected by his waste bloodline, his speed of practicing was severely limited. He could not afford to waste time and energy in groups' struggles, which would only hinder his progress.

"Senior Huo, please excuse me, I've got other errands to run today. We should meet in the future and get something to drink." Having a quick look in the direction of the square, he said with an apologetic tone.

"Hey, aren't you going to buy pills? I was thinking of buying some myself! Plus I've got to do other things in that area. Why not go together?" Huo Mao laughed heartily.

So the two walked to the square, chatting along the way.

"Brother Shi, I haven't asked you where you come from? The price of pills used for practicing the Heavenly Elephant Art are quite expensive! Could it be that brother Shi is from a wealthy family?" Huo Mao finally asked the question that had long made him curious.

Notes:

[A] - I am changing magician to Adept. (Yes, capitalized. That way it stands out more.) Magician is TOO western sounding to me. I will go back and change all the previous chapters soon.

[B] - There was a line here like "The golden haired youth's hair caught the sunlight and glimmered" and I was like. "WTF, This isn't Twilight!" DELETED.

[C] - Sad walking away music: ://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOUhIphxUu0

:P

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