Chapter 86 - Fighting for Charms
Editor Note: I was going to try to explain our slower releases, that we have been experiencing lately, but the TL makes a large post about it in chapter 87, so I'll just let him talk there XD.
Half a year later. In front of Shi Mu's residence.
The yard was filled with an oppressive silence. The air had a sharp edge to it, enough to make anyone feel awkward. Eight black-robed young men stood motionlessly in front of the door, their expressions cold and firm.
Judging by their uniforms, these young men were all primary disciples of the Black Demon Sect. The leader was a golden-haired youth with keen, blue eyes - Bright Jin of the Holy Spirit Association. Apart from his gang, around 10 newer disciples had gathered near Shi Mu's house, whispering to each other. It seemed they had gotten wind of an event worth witnessing.
"Brother Jin, it seems that brother Shi has gone out and probably won't be back for a while. I'll stay and watch. You should be free to go about your day." Huo Mao had been standing beside Bright Jin when he eagerly offered his suggestion. All signs showed that Shi Mu was out for some business: his stone door tightly shut and locked and his windows were closed. But Bright Jin shook off the kind offer and answered in an unhurried tone, "No need. I've got nothing important to do today, and it wouldn't hurt to wait a little longer. After all, these charms are too important, so we can't afford to lose this chance. I must see brother Shi, himself, and ask him in person."
Hearing this, Huo Mao nodded and said no more.
Stone Bai and Xiao Ming were also standing beside Huo Mao, only it was difficult to read their faces. Both harbored their respective emotions behind poker-faces. Stone Bai first broke the embarrassing silence by blurting out something that had been simmering in his heart, "Back then, I knew that brother Shi was no ordinary warrior, but who would have thought he would, not only, have a great gift for magic but also be a genius at making charms! Here he is, less than half a year later, making elementary charms as if he was drinking water from a straw! Can you imagine that?" As he finished speaking, Stone Bai could not help but reveal a trace of admiration, and a little bit of jealousy.
Hearing this, Bright Jin and Huo Mao nodded their agreement, smiling, but the former's smile was a little forced.
The thing is, just half a year ago, without warning, Shi Mu suddenly showed his talent in charm-making, which not only amazed his peers but also astonished many older disciples. The reason was clear and simple: there are not that many registered Adepts in the Black Demon Sect, and those who can make charms are even rarer - the number could be counted on one hand. Therefore, although Shi Mu was still at the first stage, where he could only make some basic charms of the five elements, this rare and difficult skill had already made the older disciples flinch from offending Shi Mu in any way. Moreover, among all the charm Adepts in the sect, Shi Mu's chance of making a charm successfully was, undoubtedly, the highest, far surpassing his other fellow Adepts.
More and more disciples had been coming to Shi Mu, requesting that he make charms for them. So many of them, in fact, that Shi Mu had to decline some, and that is why Bright Jin had personally come all the way to Shi Mu's door.
Indeed, Bright Jin could not help but feel remorseful and angry. Shi Mu's sudden jump to fame was the last thing he could have predicted. If he had predicted it, he would have pulled him into their group, no matter what the cost. They would have bathed him with compliments and given him whatever resources he wanted. But now that Shi Mu's reputation had traveled so far that it even reached the sect elders' ears, how could it be simple to make him a part of his group? The gloomy prospect made him sigh.
Xiao Ming was also in a somber mood. He had been in the Holy Spirit Association for over half a year, but all his charm making efforts had proved fruitless. Worse, he was still at the beginning stage of studying the magic characters, of which he had only managed to master two.
Just then, a commotion outside interrupted Xiao Ming's introspection. He turned around and looked toward the source of the noise. At the gate, people were hurriedly making way for another group of older disciples, who marched into the yard with an arrogant air. Bright Jin raised his eyes and looked at the incoming gang, which was none other than the Blood Dragons, led by Qu Kun.
At the sight of Bright Jin and his men, waiting at Shi Mu's door, crestfallen, Qu Kun arrogantly sneer. He loudly hailed Bright Jin, "Brother Jin, I never thought that a famous leader, like you, would wait at a primary disciple's door? That's news to me! Hehe!"
"Aren't you here with the same purpose? Aren't you a famous leader too, brother Qu?" Bright Jin adopted his usual sarcastic tone.
"Brother Shi has skills, which I would like to see with my own eyes. So I'm here." Qu Kun ignored Bright Jin's sardonic questions, faking an innocent smile.
"Stop the rubbish! Half a month ago, you Blood Dragons deliberately offered to pay him more then asked Shi Mu to make dozens of charms! Did we, of the Holy Spirit Association, interfere? So now it's our turn, please step aside and show us the same respect!" Bright Jin reasoned in a cold voice.
"Higher price, better service. That's always been the rule! Or are you brother Shi's manager, helping him decide his clientele? How much does brother Shi pay you?" After dealing this vigorous counter-blow, Qu Kun could not be more proud of himself. In this battle of words, he had made Bright Jin lose. Bitterly insulted, for a moment all Bright Jin could feel was rage, and could only glower at Qu Kun. The air filled with the fury of war. Sensing death in the air, the onlookers all stepped back, so as not to get caught up in the coming conflict. But everyone had looks of irresistible excitement on their faces, looking forward to the upcoming fighting.
Bright Jin's face grew increasingly fierce, his eyes as cold as ice. He snapped sharp looks at Qu Kun, and, somehow, his shirt began to sway, though there was not a trace of wind.
"Wow, does brother Jin want to teach me a lesson here?" Qu Kun thumped his massive chest and asked in a proud voice.
"I heard that brother Qu had just acquired a sword art. Wolf and Moon, is that the name? Could you please show me how this mean wolf crawls under the bright moon? Let's say that the loser must leave brother Shi alone." Bright Jin again used his rhetoric eloquence to attack his opponent, meanwhile, he silently admired his own intelligence.[A]
"Haha, brother Jin, forget about the wolf and the moon. They've got nothing to do with our business today. We both have come here to ask brother Shi to do something for us, so why all these speeches? If you really want to make speeches, the annual competition is just around the corner, and you'll have plenty of matches in which to display your brilliant abilities." Qu Kun continued to dodge Bright Jin's verbal attack.
"Is brother Qu afraid of fighting me? If so, I'll let you go intact. But only under the condition that you Blood Dragons leave brother Shi's place as soon as possible!" Bright Jin snorted, but inwardly he had begun to feel that he was at his wits' end. Their group had failed a task, previously, which led them to severe financial loss, so, temporarily, it would be impossible for them to beat the Blood Dragons. Therefore, to entrap Qu Kun in a challenge, which he himself was quite confident he could win, would be his last chance to protect his group.
Just as Bright Jin finished his words, his men began to smile, throwing disdainful looks at the Blood Dragons.
"Humph! I never thought brother Jin would be so fearless! Good, it's been a long time since my sword tasted blood." Qu Kan scanned his surroundings and replied with a vicious smile, simultaneously tightening his grip on the sword's handle. He was clear that the challenge would be to his disadvantage since Bright Jin ranked a little higher than himself among the primary disciples. But under the eyes of so many, he could not just refuse and walk away. That would ruin his group's reputation. So he had no choice but to try his luck. Besides, he had been progressing steadily these past few months, and, even though he could not defeat Bright Jin, a draw would not be impossible.
Bright Jin smirked, knowing that his trap had worked. He gestured his men to back off. Qu Kun's men also stepped back to make an open area for their leader.
Without delay, Qu Kun's sword whistled out of its sheath with a piercing sound. The sword was half an inch longer than ordinary ones, and the edge glowed faintly with red light. It had probably tasted too much human blood, since it kept giving off a nauseating smell. On the other side, Bright Jin's arms sat at rest alongside his body, their owner not intending to use weapons at all.
This was definitely another humiliation to Qu Kun. He shouted loudly, his voice quivering a little, due to anger, then he twisted his sword once before thrusting it toward Bright Jin, with the momentum of a mighty river. The sword pierced the air, emitting a sickening sound like ghosts whining.
Bright Jin's eyes were as clear and firm as before. He stomped abruptly on the ground, and a boom resounded as a powerful energy rushed out of his body. The next moment his figure flashed once before he disappeared.
Consequently, Qu Kun's sword missed its target. Immediately Qu Kun sensed something ominous. Before he knew it, the air surrounding him exploded, and a streak of golden light struck out at him, as if the whole milky way had plummeted. Qu Kun's countenance changed, and, by reflex, he wielded his sword wildly, producing red shadows to protect himself from the attack. The shadows faintly formed a shape of a giant wolf.
[A] - What is it with this novel and people being surprised-by/admiring their own intelligence?