Chapter 54: The Parrot
Translator: Novel Saga Editor: Maggie
Shi Mu entered the vicinity of the stone houses. He started to look for a relatively remote house. He then pushed open the door of the house he had chosen, and went inside.
There was a stone bed, a stone table, two stone stools and an oil lamp inside that room. There were no other basic amenities apart from these things.
Shi Mu knitted his eyebrows at this sight. He closed the door and threw his package on the bed. He then fell into a deep slumber.
He woke up early the next morning. His stomach was rumbling with hunger. He sat up on the bed and fished out two dry rations from his bosom. He quickly ate them. Then, he decided to untie his package.
It wasn't a small package. It contained clean black robes. Shi Mu swept his fingers on the fabric of the cloth. It felt exceptionally smooth and comfortable. However, it was tenacious and light weight at the same time.
The package also contained three white bottles, twelve red tokens and a thick book. Each of these red tokens was as thick as a finger, and the book was as big as a person's palm.
Shi Mu picked up the bottles, opened their lids one-by-one, and sniffed their contents.
According to Wild Zhou, the pills in these bottles were called Blood-Strengthening Pills. These pills were used to strengthen the blood to support one's Real Qi. They were best suitable for beginners as they hadn't started to practice Real Qi. These pills could increase one's practicing speed by many-folds within a day. This basic resource was rationed to every primary grade disciple for free. Every disciple would receive three pills each month.
Shi Mu hadn't yet started the practice of any Cultivation Art to tone up his Real Qi. Therefore, he couldn't use these pills rashly. He carefully tried to remember the scent of the pills. Then, he put the bottles away. After that, he picked up a token and started to look at it closely.
As per Wild Zhou, these red tokens were Flaming Demon Tokens; the most significant of the rations.
These tokens were the only thing that could be exchanged to learn any kind of martial or cultivation art. Moreover, the means to obtain this token were quite limited.
The surface of the token was engraved with a black-fiery-cloud decorative pattern. It gave a feeling of warmth as Shi Mu held it in his hand. The material used for making this token was special; it couldn't be imitated.
Shi Mu fiddled with the tokens for a while. Then, he put them aside and picked up the thick book. He started to read it carefully.
He spent some time on it and got a general understanding of everything recorded in the book. He also memorized the map of the Black Demon Sect illustrated on the last page of the book.
A plethora of rules and regulation were recorded in this book. However, Shi Mu found nothing else except rules to encourage competition among the disciples. This whole process seemed similar to weeding out a venomous insect - by filtering out the most genuine and promising candidates from the crowd. The candidate who was filtered out was supposed to possess the ability to step into the Xian Tian level.
According to this book, the junior disciples received thrice as much as the monthly resources of the primary disciples. Similarly, the senior disciples received thrice as much as the junior disciples.
Furthermore, there was a provision for astonishing rewards for disciples who would perform well and obtain higher ranks in the annual competition; this was one of the ways to obtain the Flaming Demon Tokens.
Shi Mu exhaled a long breath. He flipped through the book until some of the important rules had been engraved on his mind; he would later inquire about these rules with other people. Then, he tossed the book on his bed. After that, he changed into the Black Demon Sect's clothes.
He noticed that a red flame-like mark was printed on his cuffs. A pale silver-colored "primary" pattern was printed in the center of that flame.
Shi Mu shook his head as he saw this. Then, he grabbed his long blade and left the stone house. He proceeded towards the intersection.
He came across a few primary disciples on his way. They were walking hurriedly and looked badly beat-up.
Shi Mu was shocked to see this. He inquired one of the disciples.
Then, he finally understood the whole scenario. This had happened because of Qu Kun - the older disciple whom Shi Mu had confronted the previous day. Shi Mu came to know that Qu Kun had lost his mind later. He had punched five or six new disciples. Many new disciples were badly injured even though they had joined hands to attack the older disciples. Then, each of them had to pay a Flaming Demon Token to enter the vicinity of the stone houses to recuperate.
That is why only a few primary disciples could be seen outside; these were the only people who weren't severely wounded, and hence the only ones who could get out of their beds.
Shi Mu was dumbfounded. However, his facial expression remained the same.
The new disciples would have readily surrendered a Flaming Demon Token in the beginning if they had been aware of the situation since they wouldn't have had to endure this suffering.
Shi Mu started to walk away from the intersection. He couldn't help but look at the Peak of Black Demon that stood not far away.
According to the book-map, this peak was the thirteenth Peaks of Black Demon. This Peak along with the eleventh and the twelfth peak were reserved for primary disciples. Similarly, the eighth, ninth and tenth peaks were reserved for junior disciples. There were only ten senior disciples. However, they occupied the entire of the fifth, sixth and seventh peaks.
The second, third and fourth peaks were entirely reserved for Sect's heads and elders.
The first Peak of Black Demon was a forbidden area. Nobody could approach this forbidden peak without the permission of the Sect's chief elders.
Shi Mu gazed at the mountain peak for a moment. He then retracted his vision. Suddenly, his eyes fell on a small bluestone building. The building was situated at the bottom of the valley.
This was the General Library! Primary disciples had access to his place.
Shi Mu had already acquired Qi-sensing. Therefore, he could exchange his Flaming Demon Tokens for a cultivation art to practice Real Qi.
Shi Mu realized that it was possible for him to become a true Hou Tian warrior. This thought set his heart on fire with excitement. He strode towards the bottom of the valley.
"Well, it's Brother Shi! You're late. Brother Xiao and I have already chosen our Cultivation arts. Now I understand why Brother Zhou had said that the Flaming Demon Token was the most significant thing in this Sect. It seems that I didn't risk my life in vain yesterday." Shi Mu bumped into Bai Shi, the youngster with long hair, as soon as he entered the building's door. Bai Shi appeared to be in high spirits.
Xiao Ming - the youngster with curly hair and wide mouth - stood beside him. He had a dejected look on his face.
"Oh, it's you guys! What's wrong? Did Brother Xiao lose a token yesterday?" Shi Mu was surprised as he saw Xiao Ming's expressions. He then asked in a straightforward manner.
"Yes. And I'm regretting it now. I should've put myself at risk to save my token. It wouldn't have been a problem even if I had gotten bedridden for a fortnight over it. I could've used my Lost-Steps Art," Xiao Ming snorted as he replied.
"Oh! Why's that? The Flaming Demon Tokens are scarce. But, they might not be as valuable as you think they are," Shi Mu was startled.
"Brother Shi, it would be inappropriate for you to comment on that subject. You go inside. You'll come to know why Brother Xiao has spoken in this manner," Xiao Ming was about to reply when Bai Shi interrupted him. He spoke with an enigmatic expression on his face.
This made Shi Mu even more curious. He quickly bid his farewell and hurriedly advanced towards the nearby stairs.
A cold voice resounded as he reached the second floor, "Cultivation arts are in the middle; Martial arts are on the left side; and Magic arts are on the right side."
Shi Mu was startled as he gazed towards the source of the voice.
He saw three book shelves. Each of these book shelves were more than thirty meters tall. Various kinds of ancient books were stacked inside them. Their contents included a few thick ordinary books and a big bundle of rolled-up bamboo slips. There were a few broken slates and large hide-patches as well.
A square table lay in front of these bookshelves. A huge golden cage was placed on top of the table. The cage seemed to be several feet high. There was a giant parrot inside the cage. The feathers of this parrot were exceptionally beautiful. The parrot looked coldly at Shi Mu, and then shook its head.
The grading of the disciples is done as: Primary < Junior < Senior.
Alternately: Third Grade < Second Grade < First Grade.
And: Grade C < Grade B < Grade A.
The author uses them interchangeably.