Chapter 22: Don't Worry, Elder Sister!
"Look at the second stone stele! That little turtle... it's showed up again!!"
"It's in first place again! Just who is this little turtle? Whoever it is has taken two first place spots in a row!"
"Now Elder Sister Zhou doesn't have eight first place spots, she only has seven!"
The Outer Sect disciples were in a complete uproar, and countless cries of alarm could be heard ringing about. However, there was one voice in the crowd, a girl, who was crying out excitedly.
"Go, little turtle, go!" That young woman was none other than Hou Xiaomei. Thanks to Bai Xiaochun's earlier prodding, she was now a huge fan of the little turtle. Now that she suddenly saw the little turtle take two first place spots, her sense of adoration increased rapidly. In fact, the little turtle had now surpassed Zhou Xinqi's place in her heart.
The sound of commotion rolled in waves, until everyone was shouting out. After all, the little turtle really was very famous, and now it had once again proven by its actions that whoever it represented was qualified to challenge Zhou Xinqi.
In fact, there were even some people who were starting to anticipate the scene of the little turtle surpassing Zhou Xinqi in all ten stone steles.
Bai Xiaochun was there in the crowd, still a bit depressed, but also secretly felt pleased with himself. He was only a bit regretful that nobody knew who he was.
"Hmph. One of these days, I'm going to reveal that I'm Lord Turtle in front of an even bigger crowd!" he promised himself.
Despite his oath, he wasn't ready to give up just yet. He next began to participate in all the shouting. Occasionally, a piercing voice would ring out, drawing the crowd into further commotion.
"Heavens! Who could it be!? I love this guy!"
"The idol of the masses! Lord Turtle is invincible!"
Thanks to Bai Xiaochun's piercing cries, the Outer Sect disciples' discussions grew even more feverish. However, it was in that instant that a cold snort rang out, and a figure leapt out of the crowd to stand atop one of the log cabins.
It was a young man with a cold, grim expression on his face. His icy voice rang out across the crowd as he said, "I better not find out who that damned little turtle is. If I do, he'll regret ever having stolen the limelight from Junior Sister Zhou!"
"Same here! The little turtle is probably hiding in the crowd right now. I'm gonna find him!" The second voice belonged to that of another young man, who also flew up to the roof of the log cabin and looked around coldly at the crowd. Apparently he had his eye on Bai Xiaochun, not because he thought that he was the little turtle, but because Bai Xiaochun's shouting earlier had been quite blatant, and irritated the young man.
Soon, more people began to say similar things, seven or eight of them. Furthermore, when they unleashed the incredible power of their cultivation bases, it was obvious that the strongest among their number was in the seventh level of Qi Condensation.
These people were obviously fans of Zhou Xinqi, and famous ones at that. Their appearance on the scene caused the crowd to immediately quiet down and stop discussing the matter. However, inwardly, most people were irritated at what was happening, and loathed the young men more than ever.
Although everyone liked Zhou Xinqi, she was only a single person. The disciples present weren't stupid, and actually admired someone who could challenge Zhou Xinqi based on individual merit.
When Bai Xiaochun found himself the subject of the young man's glare, he didn't feel very confident. However, after considering that there were so many bystanders who the young man didn't dare to offend, Bai Xiaochun glared back with a look that said, "If you dare to do something to me, I'll fight back to the death."
At this point in the standoff, a beam of light shot through the air in the direction of the 10,000 Medicines Pavilion, within which a graceful figure could be seen. It was none other than Zhou Xinqi.
"It's Elder Sister Zhou."
"Elder Sister Zhou is coming." The standoff ended. As soon as the Outer Sect disciples caught sight of Zhou Xinqi, smiles broke out on their faces.
The seven or eight young men who were her fans quickly retracted their cultivation bases. Looking completely confident and at ease, they clasped hands to Zhou Xinqi.
Zhou Xinqi had come because first, she had already heard about the change to the ranking list on the second stone stele, and second, she had another matter to attend to. After glancing around, she easily guessed what had caused the standoff. She looked over at the eight fans, her eyes flickering with displeasure and even disgust.
"The affairs of Zhou Xinqi have not reached the level where others need to interfere," she said coldly. "Besides, if a new Chosen disciple has appeared on Fragrant Cloud Peak, that's something fortunate for the sect as a whole. If you people let something like this happen again, then don't blame your Junior Sister for losing her temper." Her voice cut with the sharpness of a sword, and the eight fans looked angry. However, they didn't dare to say a word.
Zhou Xinqi looked up at the little turtle on the second stone stele, and her heart filled with an unyielding spirit. She looked out over the crowd and said in a cool, arrogant voice, "Whichever Junior Brother it was who happened to surpass me on the stones steles for the first and second volumes of plants and vegetation, if you're still scuttling around in the crowd and don't feel like showing your true face, then so be it. Do as you wish."
The surrounding Outer Sect disciple cheered in response. For most of them, Zhou Xinqi was the true Chosen of Fragrant Cloud Peak.
Bai Xiaochun stood there in the crowd, musing that Zhou Xingqi definitely deserved to be Chosen. Her words just now had been marvelously spoken. He looked up for a moment in thought. He could clearly hear the haughtiness in her words, and what caused him to sigh the most was not that he didn't want to reveal himself. No, it was the killing intent flickering in the eyes of her adoring fans.
Zhou Xinqi's expression was calm as she coolly addressed the crowd as a whole. "Ladies and gentlemen, I came here for another reason today, and I hope I can have the support of each and every one of you."
Her words instantly got everyone excited, and everyone waited respectfully to see what she had to say next.
"The tranquility of Fragrant Cloud Peak has been disturbed of late. My Master, Li Qinghou, has had quite a few Spirit Tail Chickens go missing. He is currently out of the sect, and most likely doesn't care too much about the matter. However, as his apprentice, I have a responsibility to do something about it. I sincerely hope that all my fellow disciples will work hard to catch this chicken thief. If anyone manages to apprehend him, I will personally reward that person with a treasured jade pendant!" Even as she spoke, Zhou Xinqi pulled out a green jade pendant from inside her robe. It let off a gentle glow that made it obvious it was an extraordinary item.
"This is an item I came across some years ago that contains potent defensive power." As her voice echoed out, the numerous Outer Sect disciples looked at the jade pendant, and excited expressions could be seen on many of their faces. Some even began to call out various promises.
"Don't worry, Elder Sister Zhou. That chicken thief won't have a place to hide!
"How dare he steal the Peak Lord's chickens! This chicken thief is daring to the extreme. We'll definitely be paying close attention to the matter!" Soon, almost everyone in the crowd had cried out assurances that they would help, especially Zhou Xinqi's fans, whose eyes burned passionately as they cried out louder than everyone else.
Bai Xiaochun stood in the middle of the crowd, somewhat stunned. The surrounding disciples were getting worked up into a frenzy, and he felt like a cold wind was blowing down his spine.
However, he still wasn't willing to give up. Even just thinking about the hunger caused from cultivating the Undying Live Forever Technique caused sweat to bead up on his forehead. His mind raced as he tried to come up with ideas, and a moment later, his eyes lit up. Suddenly, he slapped his chest and projected his voice through the crowd.
"Elder Sister Zhou, I, Bai Xiaochun, will definitely accomplish this mission, even if I have to climb a mountain of blades or swim to the bottom of a vat of boiling oil. I will catch this chicken thief!" His piercing voice couldn't be missed, and as he spoke, he shouldered his way forward to stand at the front of the crowd.
The way he made his entrance caused numerous eyes to fall upon him, as did the way he loudly slapped his own chest. Even Zhou Xinqi's fans felt a bit overwhelmed, and Zhou Xinqi herself couldn't help but look over at him.
Seeing how much her fellow disciples supported her caused a smile to break out on Zhou Xinqi's face. She nodded slightly, and was just turning to leave when all of a sudden, Bai Xiaochun's piercing voice once again weighed down onto the crowd.
"Elder Sister Zhou, I have a suggestion. Why don't we form a chicken thief task force? If we work together, it will make it much easier to catch this vile traitor, and protect the Peak Lord's Spirit Tail Chickens!" From the righteous tone of Bai Xiaochun's voice, it seemed that he was willing to spare no effort to accomplish the mission set forth by Elder Sister Zhou.
Zhou Xinqi stared in shock. As for the rest of the crowd, quite a few of them thought it was a good idea and began to voice their approval.
"Good idea," someone said. "However, cultivation is still our main priority, so the matter must be voluntary." Zhou Xinqi looked over at Bai Xiaochun once more. In her opinion, this Junior Brother of hers was not only fair and pure, he seemed inherently charming. Furthermore, he appeared to be piously devoted to her, which left her with a very favorable impression. Nodding, she gave him a smile.
"Since the idea was put forth by this zealous Junior Brother, I suggest that he form the chicken thief task force. Take these ten silk bands to use as tokens of identification for the task force members." With that, she produced ten bands of blue silk from within her bag of holding. With the wave of a hand, she sent them flying toward Bai Xiaochun, where they landed in his hand.
"Don't worry, Elder Sister, I'll handle everything!" He stood there with silk bands in hand, looking prouder than ever. In fact, he looked like he would yield to no one when it came to the Peak Lord's chickens, and would even be willing to sacrifice his life for the cause.
Zhou Xinqi's eyes glowed with admiration, and she couldn't help but muse that there were very few responsible Junior Brothers like this in the sect. Taking one last look at Bai Xiaochun's charming appearance, she turned and left.
Zhou Xinqi's fans were not happy to suddenly see her and Bai Xiaochun on good terms. Furthermore, they also regretted not winning her favor in such a fawning way themselves.
After Zhou Xinqi left, the disciples from the spirit fowl farm also left, thanking the crowd profusely in the process. They especially expressed thanks to Bai Xiaochun, who stood there, chest puffed up as he cursed the chicken thief. Then, he organized the chicken thief task force, filling it with other disciples whose cultivation bases did not exceed his.
Finally, Bai Xiaochun hurried away, wiping the sweat from his brow. Sighing, he thought,
"That was a close one. I almost lost access to my food source. It's a good thing you're so clever and quick-witted, Bai Xiaochun. Heh heh." Having reached this point in his train of thought, Bai Xiaochun felt very pleased with himself. Humming a little tune, he headed once again in the direction of his courtyard residence. Back in the courtyard, the Spiritwinter Bamboo in the spirit field was growing frighteningly high. It was now three meters high, thicker than his calf, and shocking in appearance.
That night, when dark clouds filled the sky and everything was pitch black, Bai Xiaochun sat there with his eyes wide open, licking his lips.
"The night is dark, and I'm feeling hungry yet again...."
Note from Deathblade: As luck would have it, just a couple days ago, Er Gen released a new depiction of Zhou Xingqi. Here it is: