You're Liu Zhu, a 14 year-old cultivator who's struggling to become the next patriarch of your family. Recently you went to train with the Yu family, and after your return found out that your older brother had gotten engaged and was winning the succession race. Shortly after this an assassin targeted you, forcing you to go into hiding before you left for the Northern Wastes in disguise to undergo training.Right now you're in the Northern Wastes with Feng Jun, a newfound friend of yours, and you're going to investigate the cause of a beast horde. Cultivation Levels: https://pastebin.com/Dnc66S6L Archived Threads: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Second%20Patriarch
"Haa... haa..." You're breathing deeply as sweat rolls down your body in large beads. This is because you're currently trying to dodge an avalanche of blows from Feng Jun. As your group made their way towards the cause of the beast horde there's been some downtime, so Feng Jun has been helping you practice your dodging. At first you got hit a lot, and... well, you still get hit a lot, but you're making progress. By the time you return home you'll definitely have made great progress in the movement technique Zhu Chao gave you.After both you and Feng Jun are exhausted you sit down to rest, your torso covered in quickly healing bruises. "Thanks for the help practicing Senior Brother Feng." "Mm, don't mention it." Feng Jun stuffs some tobacco into a pipe and lights it up as he rests against a tree. You've noticed that he does this pretty often, and can only make vague guesses at how much tobacco must be stuffed into his pack. Well, you guess most people have at least one vice. Your brother has at least three or four, so it could be much worse.A few minutes later the two of you join up with the rest of the group, who have just started moving again. Its been a few days since you left the tribe and you're now in the vicinity of where the beast horde originated. There are quite a few groups searching the area, but nothing has been found yet. That's until you hear someone yell about several separate groups gathering in the distance. Your group moves towards the other ones, and you find that they're all gathered around a large hill. You can't see the top due to the way it curves, and oddly enough no one has climbed it. There are at least 20 or 30 people climbing the hill, but they're doing it... very slowly. This is odd. You...>ask the surrounding groups what's going on, something's off.>try to climb the hill, the best way to figure out what's going on is to experience it for yourself.>Other
>>3612416>ask the surrounding groups what's going on, something's off.Something bad might happen if we do it ourselves.
>>3612416>>ask the surrounding groups what's going on, something's off.
Well, you guess you should investigate first. This is weird and you're better on safe than sorry. You approach a few people at the edge of the hill and while a few are as confused as you, you do find someone who knows what's going on. Apparently his group got here first and tried to climb the hill. When they did they felt a pressure come over them and they were all stopped in their tracks. The weakest cultivators could only take a few steps, while their leader could make it a tenth of the way up the hill. You glance at the hill for comparison and see that the furthest someone has claimed is an eight of a way up the hill. This is weird, but he's probably telling the truth.You cautiously approach the hill to see if the man was telling the proof. When you reach the bottom you feel a light pressure cover you, but it's barely noticeable. You take a few steps upward to see if it intensifies, and it does, but it still doesn't affect you at all. You wonder if the pressure isn't affect you, but you consider that it might still be very light and climb a bit higher. You slowly walk forward, catching up with some of the weaker cultivators. They seem to be under great pressure, while you can still walk completely normally. This confirms your guess that this pressure doesn't seem to affect you. Still, why isn't it affecting you? You can't think of any aspect besides vitality that you exceed everyone here in, so unless it's related to that it doesn't make any sense. Maybe it's the seed near your heart?You step away from the hill and consider your options before...>walking up the hill, a few people will probably be shocked but that doesn't matter, you're just curious what's at the top.>pretending to very slowly and laboriously walk up the hill. It will still get people's attention, but you can pretend it at least takes a lot of effort.>trying to find a part of the hill without people and climbing it from there. If someone sees you walk up the hill when others can't then whenever you leave you're probably going to be harassed for whatever "lucky chance" they assumed was there.>leaving to cultivate, you can come back tonight and climb the hill when it's harder for others to notice. Hopefully no one else can reach the top by then.>Other
>>3613247>pretending to very slowly and laboriously walk up the hill. It will still get people's attention, but you can pretend it at least takes a lot of effort.>trying to find a part of the hill without people and climbing it from there. If someone sees you walk up the hill when others can't then whenever you leave you're probably going to be harassed for whatever "lucky chance" they assumed was there.
>>3613247Catched up last thread finally.>trying to find a part of the hill without people and climbing it from there. If someone sees you walk up the hill when others can't then whenever you leave you're probably going to be harassed for whatever "lucky chance" they assumed was there.
You think your best bet would be to try and find a part of the hill that's unoccupied. If you can get up there without anyone seeing you it'd be ideal. You're not sure if there's any "lucky chance" up there at all, but either way people may assume there is. That means that if someone sees you reaching the top then you'll likely be confronted or killed over a lucky chance that may or may not exist. You need to stay hidden.You go around the hill twice and find an area near the back where none of the groups have gathered. You slowly climb up the blind spot, pretending to be struggling just in case someone sees you, but once you're far enough up the worry becomes reaching the top quickly since no one could get up there anyway. As you break into a run you quickly reach the top of the hill, although you feel the pressure the others were feeling bear down upon you. You can still resist it, but it slows your speed down from a run to a walk as you reach the top. Once you reach the top of the hill you find that it's completely flat on top, with no trees or rocks scattered about. The only thing of note is that the center of the hill has a large piece of stone set into it with extremely complex carvings covering it. You approach it and feel an odd feeling welling up within you. You hesitantly touch it and the seed near your heart shakes about violently before flooding your body with vitality. If the vitality filling your body was amazing before, now it's feels like enough to make your body explode. Suddenly though vitality goes from your body into the piece of stone, filling up the carvings in the stone with what looks like green blood. Over the next few breaths this blood slowly flows through each and every carving in the stone and the seed continues sending massive amounts of vitality pouring through your body. Once every carving is full an extremely loud rumbling noises comes from the rock and the vitality is sent flooding back into your body. The seed absorbs it and the stone begins separating in the middle, causing you fall.You fall for 20 feet before landing against something extremely hard. You look around but can only see blackness. As you wait for your eyes to adjust light suddenly floods your vision, coming from some sort of crystal a few feet away. You look around and see that the crystal is at the center of the room, and that the room is completely circular. The floor is made of something even harder than stone and all of the walls have elaborate murals carved into them. On the other side of the room you can see a pedestal with a small pearl and a jade slip placed on it. You...>grab the crystal in the center of the room, maybe you can carry it around for better lighting.>examine the murals, it might give you some insight into what this place is.>go to the pedestal and look at what's on it, is it some sort of treasure?>jump upwards and see if it's still possible for you to leave, you don't want to be trapped in here.>Other
>>3613595>>Other>examine floor you don't want to trigger any trap>examine the murals, it might give you some insight into what this place is.
>>3613595>>examine the murals, it might give you some insight into what this place is.>>go to the pedestal and look at what's on it, is it some sort of treasure?
Before you move from where you landed you carefully check the ground around you for traps, but the only thing you find are more intricate carvings. You carefully examine the carvings on the ground as you move around the room, and it seems to be a picture of a gigantic beast. It has three heads and a pair of massive wings. You look closely to see if there are any secrets, but it's just a very intricately detailed carving of the beast. Still, you can't believe something like this would exist. It looks horrifyingly powerful, and with the scale of this carving probably would have to be hundreds of feet tall at the least. Are there really vicious beasts that large?Next you go to examine the murals along the walls, and you see that it depicts several vicious beasts. All of them are terrifying, and they vary greatly in most aspects. The only consistent thing is that in each drawing the beast is shown being worshiped by figures that look like humans. This... does that mean some time long ago humans used to worship beasts? That only makes sense if these beasts were so powerful they could destroy a village, or maybe even the nation behind them. Beyond that, this implies that they'd have to be intelligent enough to accept the worship and not just kill people for food. You've never heard of a vicious beast possessing enough intelligence to do that, so this sounds ridiculous to you. Still, that's what these carvings are implying. You can only wonder how ancient these are to depict such a foreign world. They couldn't just be fictional depictions, right? The beasts all look so realistic that it's hard to imagine this would be made up- why would someone leave lies in a tomb anyways.
You back away from the murals after looking at them as closely as possible and slowly approach the pedestal. After you reach it you see that the jade slip you saw is several times larger than a normal one and is colored in a dark red. The small pearl doesn't seem to stand out, and you could mistake it for something that accidentally rolled off a necklace. As you stare at the two objects you hear a faint sound, but you can't identify the source. It's almost as if it's coming from within your head. You pay attention to it, and eventually it seems to make out words, but you can't seem to understand any of them. After half a minute it switches from the odd words into something coherent. It's not in any language you know, but it's like the intent behind the message is being translated into something you can understand."...whoever accessed here may not be intelligent enough to understand my language, or they may possibly be of a different bloodline. That's why I've also left this message, so that even non-sentient beasts might understand. Eat the pearl. The seal on this place only comes undone if a creature with a strong enough vitality approaches, so whatever beast came in here should be able to absorb it without dying. Consuming the pearl will allow one to rise to sentience, becoming equal to the other races such as the humans, the deep-sea races, and the fey. With that power you can rules over millions and help reform our civilization. Eat it. Please. Eat it." After that the voice disappears from your mind, but what you just heard has left you shaken. ...Rising to sentience?! The item in front of you can make a beast become sentient if it's powerful enough?! And beyond that, what did it mean by deep-sea races and fey?! Did this message just imply that sentient races other than humans existed at some point, or possibly that they exist even now? This... this is ridiculous. Still, for now you'll accept it as the truth. You have no choice to given this place- no one would go this far just for a prank.You stare at the items before you and...>put them in your pack, you need to leave before that noises draws too much attention.>examine the jade slip and put the pearl away, you have no use for it now. Maybe eventually you could raise some sort of sentient contract beast with it though.>eat the pearl, maybe it will be beneficial? You probably won't die if vitality is the requirement to consume it.>Other
>>3613852>>eat the pearl, maybe it will be beneficial? You probably won't die if vitality is the requirement to consume it.YOLO
>>3613852>>eat the pearl, maybe it will be beneficial? You probably won't die if vitality is the requirement to consume it. May increase our talent to our brothers. Helping us understand martial arts faster and an overall upgrade? >:o>Risks
>>3613852>eat the pearl, maybe it will be beneficial? You probably won't die if vitality is the requirement to consume it.It will probably knock us out for a couple of days.
It's meant for beasts, but... if it can make a beast that's strong enough sentient, then what benefits could it have for you? You... probably won't die if you eat it. The thought of using it to raise a powerful contract beast or something is tempting, but you'll never have a beast with enough vitality to eat this. It'd have to be at least as strong as a Soul Foundation cultivator, wouldn't it? You hesitantly bring the pearl up to your mouth before swallowing it. Hm, you feel fine. Maybe it went bad?As you're thinking this you feel a burning feeling spread throughout your stomach before it begins flowing through your veins. Oh? It's taking effect? You stand there as the feeling slowly intensifies. You're forced to lie down before long as the burning feeling turns into a scorching pain rampaging throughout your body. Your meridians are torn open and your vitality is strained to its max trying to keep you alive. The seed near your heart then sends vitality to every corner of your body. It keeps you alive, but it doesn't keep you from feeling the pain. The immense, unimaginable pain spreading throughout every single inch of your body. You open your eyes and see that your body is covered in endless tears and scratches that are healing ridiculously fast, only to immediately tear open again. Blood covers your body and the ground around you. Clearly this energy is far too much for you to absorb, but despite that the vitality from the seed keeps you clinging onto life.All you feel is pain as you stick to the floor, covered in a mix of dried and wet blood, and the energy continues splitting open every part of your body. The energy slowly makes its way towards your brain and seems to sink into it. It feels like needles are being constantly stabbed into your skull, but you grit your teeth and wait it out. Or to put it more truthfully, you have no choice but to grit your teeth and wait it out. You can't die right now, and you aren't passing out from the pain for some reason, so the only option is to constantly bear with it. After an unknown period of time the pain begins fading, but it takes a long time before it's completely gone.
Once the pain is gone you try to get up. You're stopped, however, but the endless amount of dried blood stuck to your body. After exerting some force you get off the ground, although some of your skin doesn't come with you, sticking to the dried blood. You look around and see that the formerly majestic chamber you landed in is now covered in blood. It coats the nearby walls and has spread across the entire ground, even reaching the opposite side of the room. The crystal providing light is covered in blood, slightly dimming the entire room. You take a look at your body and see that every inch of it is covered in scars, although they're slowly healing. You should be able to come out in a day or two without looking like some sort of terrifying monster.Lastly you examine your head. You honestly don't feel like anything has changed within you, but the energy from the pearl went somewhere. It didn't all dissipate, did it? If you survived that endless pain for nothing and wasted a precious treasure then regret won't be enough. Well, hopefully you'll see some effects soon. You turn around to the now blood-covered jade slip on the pedestal and examine it. It seems to contain some sort of body transformation technique, but it's designed for beasts. You think you can still cultivate it, but... it requires a great amount of heavenly materials. It's worth pursuing, but you can only lament the amount of funds it will take.Over the next couple of days your physical condition recovers, but you feel ridiculously hungry. You had some food within your pack, but after however long you were lying there in pain it all went bad. After trying to find an exit for half an hour you jump upwards and manage to open up the entrance again with the vitality within the seed. You hang onto the stone as it opens and pull your away up to the top of the hill. Looking around you you see the same serene scenery that was here whenever you arrived. You...>go to find some food and wash all this blood off your body, you're desperate.>wait until night falls and leave. You're not sure how long has passed, but if someone sees you it could be bad.>Other
>>3614041>>wait until night falls and leave. You're not sure how long has passed, but if someone sees you it could be bad.
You're currently covered in dried blood and have no idea how long you were in there, so it's probably best to wait until night falls before leaving. If its been a week or two then hopefully the groups investigating this hill will have left by now. You have no idea if they could hear when you opened the door, but hopefully they didn't. Weird noises around a strange hill would have just aroused their curiosity more.The day wastes away as you glance at the jade slip you retrieved from the ruins. You honestly don't need to study it- the only real bottleneck on practicing it isn't the amount of materials you have- but it's better than nothing. Eventually night falls and you put the slip away before carefully making your way down the hill. You notice a couple of people near the bottom, but avoid letting them see you and manage to escape through a blind spot. Once you reach the bottom of the hill you quickly enter into the woods and find a river. You get the massive amounts of caked blood off of your body in the river and then murder a couple of animals. You make a crude fire and excitedly cook them, waiting for your first meal in a while.The meat tastes terrible, but given how hungry you are you don't mind. You finish off a deer and a rabbit before getting ready to rest and...>speak to the people still near the hill in the morning. You're curious how long its been and if you can find Feng Jun.>prepare to go to the nearest tribe. You're still in need of work and a place to get your bearings.>prepare to return to Border City and get proper work there. The tribes might have something for you, but their influence can't be compared to the city's.>head into the woods to look for any plants or animals that look valuable. It'll be dangerous alone, but you should be fine.>Other
>>3614763>>speak to the people still near the hill in the morning. You're curious how long its been and if you can find Feng Jun.Practice with him has been helping it may be a good test to see how we may have changed.
>>3614763>>speak to the people still near the hill in the morning. You're curious how long its been and if you can find Feng Jun.>>3614811Yeah
>>3614763>speak to the people still near the hill in the morning. You're curious how long its been and if you can find Feng Jun.We've already agreed to come with him,why turn back now ?
>>3614763>speak to the people still near the hill in the morning. You're curious how long its been and if you can find Feng Jun.>can we also take the crystal?
Your first order of business should be looping back around to the hill in the morning. There you can figure out exactly how long you were writhing on the floor in pain. Plus, if Feng Jun is still here you can get in touch with him. You make the most comfortable bed you can in a nearby tree (sleeping on the ground alone leaves you at risk of being attacked by vicious beasts during the night) and go to sleep for the night. The next morning you make you sure you have everything, eat breakfast, and then head back towards the hill.As you approach the hill you see that the people still there at extremely scattered. On top of that, there aren't many of them. There are maybe 20 people in total either walking up the hill or guarding the sides. You approach one of them and ask how long they've been there, and they tell you they've been there a month. Apparently some ridiculously loud noise came from the hill on their first day there and they decided to stake the place out in case in meant something important was happening. They were thinking of leaving soon, but yesterday they heard the noise again so they figured they'd stick around for a little while. So that means you were in there for a month? Damn, eating that pearl better have been worth it.After figuring out how long you were in there you see if anyone here is acquainted with Feng Jun, but nobody is familiar with him. That's until you get halfway through the people and find one man who has done a few jobs with him. He's surprised to hear you mention Feng Jun, and he tells you that he left the hill about two weeks ago. Apparently he was going to do a couple of jobs for nearby tribes on his way back to Border City. Well, you guess it's only natural that he wouldn't wait a whole month. Maybe he thought you left without him.When you're done gathering information you...>prepare to go to the nearest tribe. You're still in need of work and a place to get your bearings.>prepare to return to Border City and get proper work there. The tribes might have something for you, but their influence can't be compared to the city's. You might arrive in time to catch Feng Jun if you're lucky.>head into the woods to look for any plants or animals that look valuable. It'll be dangerous alone, but you should be fine.>Other
>>3616347>>prepare to go to the nearest tribe. You're still in need of work and a place to get your bearings.
>>3616347>>prepare to go to the nearest tribe. You're still in need of work and a place to get your bearings.Let's see if we can find him on our way back.
Guess you'll head to the closest tribe for now. You want a chance to regain your bearings and to find some work, so it's the easiest chance to do so. Sure you could head all the way back to Border City, but that would take nearly a week. You leave the hill and spend the rest of the day trying to find your way to a tribe. Luckily you're able to get to a nearby village before nightfall with the help of your map.The tribe is small, with only one or two thousand residents. There's a single inn for travelers, and outside a few "merchants" sell handmade carvings and trinkets. You book a room for the night and it comes with a rather peculiar tasting stew for dinner. You eat your meal in a nearly empty inn before you...>get directions to somewhere bigger, this tribe is pretty out of the way and the odds are you won't get much worthwhile work here.>try to get an audience with the village's chief, I'm sure he has some work for travelers passing through. It might not be anything glorious, but work is work.>take a look at the trinkets people are selling outside, you've never really paid attention to these tribes' culture and it might be interesting.>Other
>>3616562>>take a look at the trinkets people are selling outside, you've never really paid attention to these tribes' culture and it might be interesting.
>>3616562>>take a look at the trinkets people are selling outside, you've never really paid attention to these tribes' culture and it might be interesting.We should just get a rough idea about prices for things. And with out little studying g of plants. We may find plants rare to back home out here. And sell our plants for a premium if were lucky. But we have to know prices roughly. We can ask around.
>>3616562>take a look at the trinkets people are selling outside, you've never really paid attention to these tribes' culture and it might be interesting.I wonder how rare is the necklace Zhu Chao gave us,it seems quite usefull.
Well, you have some time. Guess you'll check out all of the people selling trinkets and such in front of the inn. You go outside and see that there are a few people still there, staring at you. You glance around before approaching an old man smoking a cheap-looking pipe. He's sitting on a roughly woven blanket with some random plants and what look like handmade carvings sitting in front of him.As you approach him his face lights up and he takes the pipe out of his mouth. "Please, please, take a look young hero! Maybe you need herbs? This Grey Root, you can buy it for 2 gold and 3 silver from me and resell it for at least 3 gold in Border City! It's a good deal! Or maybe you're interested in one of my carvings." You pay some attention to the man's attempt to market his goods, but mostly just stare at what he has on display. You recognize a couple of the herbs from the guide you read, and they're all the cheapest and most common types. The Grey Root he spoke of is probably more expensive than most of the things he has.You turn your attention to the carvings and start closely examining them. A couple are six-inch tall statuettes of people, and a few are of trees or normal animals. The rest, numbering eight, are carvings of vicious beasts. You recognize a few of these from the beast horde, they aren't bad depictions. After you finish looking at the carvings you notice that there's one more right next to the old man. As you look more closely at it, you're shocked! The carving has a close resemblance to one of the beasts carved on the walls of that chamber you fell into. This carving doesn't look nearly as fierce, but it can't just be a coincidence.You suppress your surprise and pick the carving up. "I like this carving. What is it?" The old man smiles and begins going on about the carving. "That is the a carving of one of the descendants of The Winged God. I've never seen one in person, as they're few and far between, but I've seen many depictions of them." "What's The Winged God?" "Oh, you're new to The Wastes?" You nod in response and the old man continues. "The Winged God is one of the Nine God Beasts. Legend says that some time in the ancient past there were nine gods in the form of beasts who watched over us. We worshiped them, and in exchange they protected us. The gods slowly dwindled from nine to four, and in the end disappeared completely. Still, there are some who left their descendants in the Northern Wastes, and they are reversed as holy beasts. If anyone kills one, outsider or not, then the faithful would hunt them down."
The old man takes a puff from his pipe and sighs. "That's the gist of it. I'm a follower of The Winged God, but it's in name only. This old man has never bought into the legends much. This carving was intended to be sold to another tribesman for use as an offering, but I don't mind letting you have it for a few gold coins." You take three gold coins out of your coinpurse and in return you get a wide grin as he cackles and passes the carving to you. "Ooh hoo, thanks for the business!"After that you check out the other stalls and try to get some more information about the "Nine God Beasts" they mentioned, but all you figure out is that many tribesmen here worship The Winged God, and that they have for generations upon generations. You go to sleep for the night, figuring that you'll find some work tomorrow.You wake up in the middle of the night. That's odd, you usually sleep fine, why'd you wake up tonight? Something feels... off. You quietly leave the inn, but don't find anything out of the ordinary. Just the full moon shining down on the narrow dirt streets of the village. As you're about to head back into the inn you feel a burst of pain as...>two wings covered in scales burst out of your back.>your hands morph into a leathery, sharp claws.>you clutch at your chest, scales appearing near your eyes and gills near your throat.>a massive pair of antlers shoot out from your forehead>>3616826You can make a profit ferrying herbs from here to Border City, or even further to home, but not much unless you go to a bigger tribe.>>3617427You're not sure, you've certainly never seen anyone else your age who owns a defensive artifact that powerful. The Five Families would probably have something like it though.
>>3617990>a massive pair of antlers shoot out from your forehead
>>3617990>>a massive pair of antlers shoot out from your foreheadOh boi beast dreams
>>3617990>>a massive pair of antlers shoot out from your forehead
>>3617990>you clutch at your chest, scales appearing near your eyes and gills near your throat.This vote probably won't matter,but I'd like to meet the sea people and maybe fight some monsters there. Also I wonder how powerfull are the descendants are and if they're sentient or not,if not the pearl could've helped.
>>3618149I'a I'a sea dudes ftaghn.
Updating in an hour or two, need to take care of something first. Voting window is open until then.
>>3617990>>two wings covered in scales burst out of your back
Antlers burst through your forehead, slowly growing and twisting until they're several feet long. You tentatively touch the antlers, and they retreat inward, leaving two patches of blood on your forehead. Confused, you head back inside, and as you're about to go to sleep the antlers begin growing again. Seconds later they shrink. As things are, you can't really control them. Eventually you decide to go to sleep, and by the morning they've stopped moving in and out of your skull, instead disappearing. You're guessing this is some side effect from eating that pearl, but this isn't what you expected from something that would give powerful beasts sentience. Wouldn't that affect your mind, not your body?You wait until the two bloody spots on your forehead heal before buying breakfast. Over breakfast you carefully examine your forehead, and the only thing you can feel that's out of the ordinary are two small bumps. They're so small they aren't noticeable, but they're there.After finishing breakfast you...>get directions to somewhere bigger, this tribe is pretty out of the way and the odds are you won't get much worthwhile work here.>try to get an audience with the village's chief, I'm sure he has some work for travelers passing through. It might not be anything glorious, but work is work.>Other
>>3619160>>get directions to somewhere bigger, this tribe is pretty out of the way and the odds are you won't get much worthwhile work here.
>>3619160>get directions It can't be that healthy getting so much mystical shit in ourselves
For the time being you should make your way to a larger tribe. You might be able to find work here, but whatever it is will probably only be some errands the village needs done. Slaying a few weak beasts for pelts, delivering letters, finding some herbs, things like that. You look at your map and find that the nearest "large" tribe is a couple days away from here. You check among the tribesmen here first to get more exact directions and to make sure that the tribe you're going to is, in fact, as big as the map says it is before leaving.You start your trek to a nearby tribe and along the way take some breaks to practice the technique you picked up at Border City and 72 Desires. You notice that your progress is notably faster than before, which you guess is from the pearl. Could it have improved your perception? Still... there's what happened last night. Clearly improving your perception isn't what the majority of the energy went towards. As you mull over this the first day of travelling passes and you go to sleep for the night. That night the antlers grow out of your head again, although the movements are less erratic. You can't control them well, but if you think about making them disappear the antlers slowly disappear. If you think about them appearing, they slowly appear. You can't help by being annoyed though- antlers aren't a lucky chance, they're a hunting trophy.The next day you continue travelling and training, and along the way you hunt a couple of beasts. You're making good progress and should reach the tribe tomorrow morning. That night you suffer the same struggle, but your control over the antlers continues improving. If you want them to enter or exit your body it takes about 10 breaths. You feel uncomfortable if they're left inside you for too long, so you leave them out for a couple of hours before going back to sleep.In the morning you try to control the ability again, but you cause the antlers to burst out. For better or worse you're only able to manifest those antlers at night right now. You wonder if the full moon had anything to do with these antlers appearing, but since you have no way of knowing for the time being you put aside the thought. After a couple hours of walking you reach a large, bustling tribe. You enter and...>ask the merchants for work. They're always looking for escorts or materials.>see if you can get some jobs from the tribe's leaders. Maybe there are problems that cropped up they need help with.>look for anyone else who isn't a native and see if they need a helping hand. They're more likely to do you a favor.>ask around about the "Nine Gods" a bit more, your interest has been piqued, what with these antlers shooting out of your head every night because of you eating something from an ancient ruin related to them.>Other
>>3619706>>ask around about the "Nine Gods" a bit more, your interest has been piqued, what with these antlers shooting out of your head every night because of you eating something from an ancient ruin related to them.lets try and get more knowledge about which beast we got an aspect from. Satet, goddess of the hunt, was shown with the horns of a deer, and sometimes a deer's face. and other places have them for other things so let us see how the dicegods have fated our blessings.
>>3619706>ask about the nine godsAre we a were-stag?
>>3619706>>ask around about the "Nine Gods" a bit more, your interest has been piqued, what with these antlers shooting out of your head every night because of you eating something from an ancient ruin related to them.
First you'll go around the city and find out all you can about the Nine God Beasts. While you don't believe in gods, you do believe in people, beasts, and other things powerful enough to easily murder you. These Nine God Beasts were probably something on this level of power, and since you've gotten involved with them you should research them.You visit several temples scattered throughout the tribe and visit a few merchants as well. What you can piece together is that some time long, long ago there were Nine God Beasts. Then, after some event that has been lost to history, the Nine God Beasts dwindled and were reduced to four. After that they disappeared completely, but based on what you're being told there was at least a few hundred years between their disappearance and the disappearance of the first five.You've heard these beasts described as "gods incarnated as beasts", "humans with the strength of beasts", and "beasts with the intelligence of humans". The first description is just superstition, while the last one probably refers to the fact that they're sentient. If that's the case, then could the second one be similar to the effect the pearl had on you? Since you were already sentient, then it focused most of its energies on improving your body instead of your mind. Maybe it's supposed to bring the elements of beast and man into balance or something like that.During your research you manage to figure out the names of all four of the last "God Beasts" to remain, although the first five are shrouded in mystery. The last four are referred to as "The Winged God", "The Clawed God", "The Finned God", and "The Horned God". The Winged God wandered the skies above the wastes. The Clawed God ran across the plains. The Finned God swam through the rivers and lakes. The Horned God patrolled the forests. At least according to the legends and gospel you're being told. There are some sculptures of all of these four "god beasts", and they resemble carvings you saw in that chamber. The only one with antlers among the nine carvings you remember is "The Horned God", so the pearl you ate is probably related to him. Either that or it changes your body based on your constitution or some other outside factor.After you finish your research you...>ask the merchants for work. They're always looking for escorts or materials.>see if you can get some jobs from the tribe's leaders. Maybe there are problems that cropped up they need help with.>look for anyone else who isn't a native and see if they need a helping hand. They're more likely to do you a favor.>prepare to head into the forests nearby and see if you can get anything valuable to resell at Border City.>Other
>>3620172>>ask the merchants for work. They're always looking for escorts or materials.We should get the lay of the land. And get a better idea for prices and rarity of herbs. We could chat with a merchant and learn more about herbs and prices of things around.
>>3620172>>ask the merchants for work. They're always looking for escorts or materials.
>>3620172>ask the merchants for work. They're always looking for escorts or materials.I'm sure the "prepare to head into the forest" option is to contact the horned god,but let's see what this pearl's power is by fighting.
The merchants should have some profitable work waiting for you. Whether it's work escorting traders or gathering goods in the forest in order to be resold, you should make a tidy profit and get to learn more about the Northern Wastes while you're at it. You head to the trading area of the city and decide to take the simplest approach and approach the merchants there directly, asking if they have any work.While some people don't appreciate your inquiries and shoo you off to make space for more customers, you are able to get quite a few offers for work once you tell people your battle strength is equal to Late Bone and Marrow Tempering. You get a couple offers to transport small caravans deeper into the wastes, one to escort some locals while they gather herbs, and another about joining a hunting party. You think over the offers and...>accept one of the jobs escorting caravans, you can talk to the traders about prices and such along the way while getting deeper into the wastes. The further into the wastes you are the fiercer the beasts can be, so it will be a good opportunity to see what the place has to offer.>take the job escorting herb gatherers. It'll be a decent chance to see how the sort out herbs, and you'll get a local's look at the forest.>join the hunting party. Killing animals is straightforward enough and it will give you a better lay of the land.>Other
>>3621284>>take the job escorting herb gatherers. It'll be a decent chance to see how the sort out herbs, and you'll get a local's look at the forest.
>>3621284>take the job escorting herb gatherers. It'll be a decent chance to see how the sort out herbs, and you'll get a local's look at the forest.
You think you'll take the job escorting herb-gatherers. It gives you a good look at the forest with the locals as guides and you'll be able to see how they gather herbs. You won't pick up their skills in one trip, but it will still be useful. After deciding on the job you'll be taking you make your way back to the merchant who offered it. She's a woman in her 50s or 60s whose cultivation is just barely at Strength Rendering. She could kill any normal thieves or burglars, but beyond her training serves little use. As she sees you approach she waves over to you and speaks in a quiet voice. "Did you decide to take me up on the offer?" "Yes, I'd like to take the job." The woman grunts in response before taking out a ledger of some sort and marking a few things down. "Alright then, for your services I can offer you a bit over 100 gold coins. This may vary slightly depending on the haul, and if any of my gatherers die under your supervision there will be a penalty." "Fair enough. When do we set out?" "Meet me here tomorrow at half past nine. The expedition will be between four and seven days in total." "Alright then, thank you for the work. I'll see you tomorrow." The woman grunts again in response before putting her ledger away and attending to something at her stand.Well, you guess you have work for the time being. You spend the rest of the day looking through the market, and while you buy a few cheap herbs you don't do much else. At most you spent 60 gold coins, so you've made no real dent in your funds today. There are a few treasures that you have some interest in, but they're certainly not must buy items, they're a bit overpriced, and most importantly you don't want to risk dying here by pulling out tens of thousands of gold coins at once. You'd be fine if you were within Yutian Country proper, but in the wastes it's far more lawless. The government doesn't even come here for their taxes, so it also serves as a safe haven for low-level criminals. There are a few wanted posters scattered about, but the presence of some bounty hunters isn't going to save you. The best case scenario is that they'd kill whoever killed you.The next morning you wake up, have breakfast, and go to meet up with the merchant. She greets you and introduces you to a group of five herb-gatherers in their 30s and 40s. They're strong, muscular men, but none of them are cultivators. You get briefed further in detail about the plants they're looking for (namely the Many-Petaled Gamgoria, the Ji Vine, and Serpent Fennel) and the route the men will be taking to find them.Your group leaves the city and...>you stick close to the men and get what information about the area and herb-gathering you can from them. It will be useful later.>patrol the area around them from the nearby trees to make sure any vicious beasts can't get too close. It'd be nice to talk to them, but you can do it when they set down camp tonight.>Other
>>3621912>>you stick close to the men and get what information about the area and herb-gathering you can from them. It will be useful later.Learn and we can still protect them if shit hits the fan
>>3621912>>you stick close to the men and get what information about the area and herb-gathering you can from them. It will be useful later.
For the time being you'll stick close to these guys. You won't be able to cover them all at once as effectively as if you were doing so from the trees, but it should be fine. You're just in the forest, not in a pit of vicious beasts. Your goal here was to learn, so you'll take the slight risk in spending your time talking with them."So, how long have you guys been doing this?" "Mm, most of our lives. Our coming of age is at 15, so most of us choose one career then, keep at it for the rest of our lives. Only one of us switched over from another career, and that's because he was injured as a warrior." Well, that means they're experienced. "Any tips you can give me on spotting herbs, navigating the wilderness, stuff like that? I just arrived in the wastes recently, I don't know much." "Some of what we know are 'tribe secrets', but sure. You see the base of that tree over there?" "The tall, reddish one?" "Yup, base of the Redwood trees. If you spot one of those you can stop and search if you want. The soil is usually fertile around those so there's a decent amount of plants in the soil nearby. Some are buried underground, but we usually only check a couple of inches. Past the topsoil it's not worth it. There are some pretty rare birds up that live in those trees too, but since they're so tall we don't bother. Too much risk of falling and dying. You'd be fine doing it though. The eggs make a damn good breakfast, so I'll buy em off you if you want."The man continues speaking for a wild, going on about how certain areas near tribes are fertile grounds due to the waste from people living nearby. They're usually picked clean due to how many people live nearby, but it's good for growing crops and medicinal herbs. These spots make for a few great harvests before the nutrients in the soil go back to a normal level, so it's where most farmers would choose to start up if they don't have a plot passed down in their family. After that he goes on about Shy Rosemary and how it can be found hidden in the topsoil near certain lakes. He clearly takes pride in his knowledge, and so you have no trouble getting him to go on and on as your group continues walking.
The first day of the expedition doesn't have much happen. You slay a few weak vicious beasts that get too close to the group and the men stop a few times to get decently priced herbs, even though it's not what they're looking for. In a couple days they're supposed to reach their destination and stop there to gather plants for a while, so they won't be stopped much until then. As they stop for the you quickly break off a few limbs from a nearby trees and use them as a base for a fire after you get some more sticks and leaves. While you take care of that the gathers stick nearby and gather some ingredients as part of a 'traditional' stew.First the men pull out a large pot and fill it with water and a few dashes of some liquid you don't recognize. As you watch them cook they throw in a few strips of dried meat; fruits, berries, nuts, and roots they found nearby; and few pinches of seasoning from their packs. With the odd combination of ingredients you weren't hopeful about the taste, but it smells pretty good. You're given a couple bowls and it tastes... unique to say the least, but it's not bad. It's oddly sweet though.Dinner finishes up and the men turn to telling tall tales around the fire. You're not able to get any useful info out of them right now, so guess you'll have to give up on weaseling out more herbal knowledge right now. You...>go cultivate nearby, it's not good to get rusty.>look for herbs for a bit, it's getting dark but maybe you can put some of what you heard today to use.>hunt a couple of animals, you're sure they'd always appreciate more meat. You offered to let them eat the vicious beasts but they said that it was considered bad luck in their tribe.>stay here and listen to them talk, it's mostly banal stuff but it's better than nothing.>Other
>>3622197>>stay here and listen to them talk, it's mostly banal stuff but it's better than nothing.and ask some questions we aren't sure about. and get some advice. I am done with being a refiner
>>3622197>>go cultivate nearby, it's not good to get rusty.
I'll wait 50 minutes before breaking the tie with RNG.
Rolled 1 (1d2)>>3622321>>3622205And so fate decides
May as well sit around the fire and listen to these guys tell stories. It's not of much use, but maybe it'll be entertaining. If you're lucky you might be able to clarify some of your doubts about what you were being told earlier, but that's only if you can get a word in edgewise.The men sit around the fire, telling tales that are increasingly ridiculous to each other. From their expressions you can tell that they've all heard these stories countless times, but they're new to you at least. "So, I was drinking when this stout man came up to me, at least six foot. Slapped my woman's ass and he expected me to take it sitting down. When I dig into the bastard he tells me he's not a cultivator but that he practices martial arts. So I walk away, grab a chair, smash it over the fucker's head. Who gives a shit about how well you can fight when there are splinters of wood in your skull. Never bothered me again."Another man chimes in, picking up immediately after the first one finishes. "That's nothin'. Have I told you guys about the time I was out picking Mock Clover and a wolf approached me? I was only a few dozen meters away from a farm, so once it spotted me it was a mad dash to the barn. If it caught me I was dead, but if I got to the barn first then I'd have a weapon. So I ran and ran and in the end jumped just out of reach of its claws and grabbed a scythe. It'd just been sharpened for the harvest, so that furry little shit didn't stand a chance. I struck out with the thing and in a stroke of luck it cut through its throat. I kept it at bay as it bled out and now the pelt is in my living room. Real men kill for their furniture, am I right?" As he finishes the circle laughs and one of the youngest men interjects. "Didn't you buy that pelt from that fat tanner only a few months ago? We were both out shopping that day." The man who told the story glares at the person who revealed his lies before muttering "Whatever, like you have a cooler story."This continues for a couple of hours until the group heads to bed. You decide it's time to turn in for the night and...>sleep near the men where it's easier to protect them.>sleep a short distance away, if you have another incident with antlers bursting out of your skull you don't know how you're going to explain it.>Other
>>3622205>not being a refiner>not just doing both>not just doing everything the setting allowsIt seems you haven't read enough Xianxia yet although unless you make it your goal in life I don't think we'll get to the last part, multi-tasking two occupations seems possible though
>>3622605>>sleep near the men where it's easier to protect them
>>3622605>>sleep near the men where it's easier to protect them.
You'll sleep with the herb-gatherers tonight. Sure, there might be a risk of another incident with antlers shooting out of your head while you're sleeping, but that's a risk you're willing to take. You'd rather not have a vicious beast murder these guys while you're sleeping 20 feet away.You go to sleep near the edge of the group, but during the night you wake up. You don't have full grown antlers, luckily, but they're poking an inch or two out of your head. You force them inwards and prepare to go back to sleep when you notice a man staring at you from about five feet away. He was probably trying to take a piss, but, uh, seems he got more than he bargained for. Well, they were barely out of your head, he probably couldn't make it out well in the dark, right? If he says anything you'll just blow it off, if you don't take it seriously nobody will believe him. You ignore him after your glance and go back to sleep, hoping that this won't become an incident.Morning comes and the man from last night warily stares at you over breakfast, but he doesn't say anything. You guess he must be doubting what he saw, so you should be in the clear. Your group resumes travelling and you're enlightened on the grades of Mock Clover and their habitats, common healing herbs, and a several hours long diatribe about how Grey Roots are not grey, the origin of the name, and what this tribesman thinks the named should be changed to. He apparently cares very strongly about this issue, and despite your repeated attempts to change the topic of conversation, he is not deterred. At one point most of the group joins in, and they are heavily divided on the issue. There's a side supporting the name for reasons such as "tradition", "people will be confused if we changed it", and "it doesn't fucking matter". The other side's argument is mostly "it's not fucking grey". Many expletives are thrown at each other, and at one point you leave to kill a few vicious beasts lurking nearby. They are still continuing the argument when you return, albiet halfheartedly.Eventually the topic of conversation changes and you manage to learn a bit more. Dinner resumes, and with it the many tall tales of the tribesmen. You listen through it for the night and another day passes without much eventful happening.During the night you're woken by odd noises. You look around and see that there are a pack of wolves lurking near the camp. Only a few of them are vicious beasts, but there's still a real risk of one of them wounding someone if you don't handle this properly. You can only kill so many at once after all. You...>pretend to be asleep and wait until one of them attacks before sneak attacking. If you catch them off-guard it'll be easier.>jump up and start killing the weakest first in order to deplete their numbers faster.>jump up and kill the strongest first since the herb-gatherers will last longer against a normal wolf.>Other
>>3622899>>jump up and kill the strongest first since the herb-gatherers will last longer against a normal wolf.
>>3622899>>jump up and kill the strongest first since the herb-gatherers will last longer against a normal wolf.This isn't their first time out here. If we get rid on the strongest ones first. We should greatly limit them.
>>3622899>jump up and kill the strongest first since the herb-gatherers will last longer against a normal wolf.They've been doing this since they're 15,plus it's just a big wolf,we'll have time to take on the weaker ones right after.
>>3622899>the strongest Off the alpha, the others will either rout or be thrown in disarray as they are pack hunters. The weak ones are also not as dangerous.
You'll go after the strongest wolves first and then move onto the weakest. These guys should be able to hold out against wolves for a little while, they've been doing this for ages after all. You jump up and charge towards the strongest one first. Quickly grabbing your weapon you send it flying away in a single strike. The rest of the wolves move forward, but at least half of them are dashing towards you.You ignore the wolves heading towards you and aim towards the strongest that are heading towards the herb gatherers. This only gathers more fury towards you as a pack of wolves begins to follow you around as you kill them one by one. By this point the other men have woken up and are watching this with a mix of amusement and fear. They do have to fight a couple wolves while half-asleep, but you kill them before they can do much damage. As you continue killing the wolves the rest of them scatter, sadly yelping as they run away. You kill a few more, but a few successfully run away. You aren't going to go on an extended chase just for a wolf, so they can live unless they do something dumb again. After confirming that nobody got any major wounds everyone goes back to sleep.In the morning you wash some dried wolf blood off your body, make sure that the two light bites that the wolves left behind on the others aren't infected, and then get back to travelling. After making certain that Grey Root won't be mentioned again you continue trying to get some information out of the herb-gatherers.In the late afternoon you're told to stop by the leader of the herb-gatherers. Apparently this is the destination for this trip, and their main goal is to look for Many-Petaled Gamgoria and Ji Vine. They'll take a different route on the way back in order to gather Serpent Fennel. Everyone spreads out to gather and you're left at the center of them in order to protect them in case something goes wrong. You...>stand here and wait, you should just be on high alert to make sure nothing happens.>look around for herbs while you're here, you have nothing better to do.>cultivate for a little bit, you're eyeing a tree that looks like a good practice target.>Other
>>3624627>look for herbsMight as well, just don't lose too much focus. We also need to cultivate more, we're slipping on training.
>>3624627>>cultivate for a little bit, you're eyeing a tree that looks like a good practice target.
My electricity has been out for 40+ minutes so updates will be delayed until it's back.
>>3624713Yeah, I agree. Which is why I choose to cultivate now.
At some point you should put your new herb knowledge to work, but this is neither the place nor time. It might distract you too much, and you should practice a bit first before you try it in the deep forest. For now you should cultivate. You haven't done so in a few days after all.You remember being told that the species of tree next to you had iron tough enough to resist blows against someone with your cultivation, so you use it as a target. It probably won't stand up against your strength, but it should last for a little while. You grab your guandao and practice the skill you bought at Border City, quickly getting the hang of it with your newly increased perception. In response to your blows the tree shakes, bits of wood and bark shooting off everywhere. You're not done yet though, and you grab your guandao. "I have a feeling I can pull this off... 5 Desires!" Your guandao flashes in midair as it unleashes five consecutive strikes on the tree. The tree trembles as massive chunks of wood fall off of it, slowly tilting in the opposite direction before falling. Your arms burn with an intense pain and you drop your weapon on the ground, but you managed to do it! Beyond this point it will definitely be your strength limiting your ability with 72 Desires, but you're sure there's still some room to improve either your technique with the guandao or your accuracy with the move.After checking to make sure nothing got crushed under that tree you resume practicing, trying to improve your dodging now that your arms are shot for now. It's not easy without someone to attack you, but it's better than nothing. Several hours later night falls and you feel annoyed by your forehead again. Keeping the antlers in feels more uncomfortable than usual for some reason. Sighing you move slightly, make sure that no one is around, and let the antlers grow. You go back to practicing, keeping your perception on full to make sure you aren't spotted, and soon you notice that something is off. Isn't it dark out? Why is still so bright? After turning your focus to things other than if there's someone nearby you realize that your sense of smell has improved. Dozens of scents are mingling around in your nose, although you have no idea what each one of them is. ...Maybe it's the antlers? It would make sense (and be a good thing for you) if they had another purpose. You draw them inwards and as you do the forest grows darker and the smells disappear.
Why didn't you notice that before? You think you would've noticed by now if it happened every time those antlers grew, so you think the only reasonable explanations were that your body needed to take awhile to adapt or that these abilities needed energy to be triggered, and that cultivating with the antlers out was able to do that. Well, you don't need to know the specifics. Either way, this is beneficial. As you mull over this you return your original camp and help cook dinner. You go back to cultivating after dinner, and in the morning you return to cultivating again. Luckily you take it easy, as you're forced to take several breaks to kill vicious beasts lurking nearby. They must be looking for a meal now that your group has been here for a full day. Eventually night falls, and once it's night you...>continue cultivating normally, it's too risky to be releasing your antlers around here. If someone spots you it will probably be bad.>let your antlers grow and then practice with your sense of smell. Maybe it could help in hunting or finding herbs.>let your antlers go and then cultivate some more. Maybe you missed something else yesterday.>Other
>>3625410>>let your antlers go and then cultivate some more. Maybe you missed something else yesterday.
>>3625410>let your antlers go and then cultivate some more. Maybe you missed something else yesterday
>>3625448>>3625435Agreed.Let's see what's up. Keep cultivating let's see if it helps train our techniques even faster with em out.
>>3625410>let your antlers go and then cultivate some more. Maybe you missed something else yesterday.Always good to know our full force. Since we can use our antlers whenever we want to,we should only use it when we're alone/in a difficult fight.
You'll find some place more secluded and cultivate with your antlers out. You're still not able to use them during the day and you're not sure you understand the full abilities behind the pearl you ate, so you should keep trying to understand it further through practice. Once you find a place where you shouldn't be spotted you let your antlers grow out and then run through the trees. You launch occasional blows at nearby trees to test your strength and accuracy while moving, but you aren't noticing much different other than your sense of smell and your ability to see in the dark. A few minutes after you start practicing though, you do finally touch upon something else that's different. Your legs feel... odd. It's like the structure of muscles there is slightly different than usual. It's by so little that it's hard to notice, but it has to be causing some sort of difference, right?You pay close attention to your legs and movements after discovering this discrepancy and figure out that you are moving slightly faster. It's not a lot, maybe ten or twenty percent, but it's enough to make a difference during a fight. You guess you can use this for a trump card if you feel safe in letting people see these antlers. You definitely don't want to do that while you're in the Northern Wastes, but once you're back home it could be safer.As you're about to return to camp you spot a cave in the forest. It normally wouldn't draw much attention, but you can smell a large amount of vicious beasts coming from inside the cave. You're also overwhelmed with the acrid scent of their droppings nearby. There must be a pack of beasts living there. You...>ignore the cave and return to camp, you shouldn't stir up trouble. Maybe they'll just ignore your group.>head into the cave and kill whatever's there, it's safer to get rid of them ahead of time.>Other
>head into the cave and kill whatever's there, it's safer to get rid of them ahead of time.
>>3626478>head into the cave and kill whatever's there, it's safer to get rid of them ahead of time.
>>3626478>head into the cave and kill whatever's there, it's safer to get rid of them ahead of time.I mean no one will see us in the cave,so antler practice ?
>>3626478>>head into the cave and kill whatever's there, it's safer to get rid of them ahead of time.
You may as well head into the cave, if the beasts decide that your group has been staying here for too long and attack all at once then it will be too late for regrets. You jump down from the trees and slowly approach the cave. In the back of the cave you see furry animals that are six feet long and a couple feet high. Their tails are nearly as long as their bodies and they have sharp, black claws that have left scratches all over the cave. You heard of this creature in Border City, but now that you've seen it you can't really respect its strength- it just looks like giant gerbil.When you reach the edge of the cave the beasts stir about and you see that there at least 10 of them. In the center of the pack is a much larger one which must be the alpha. Once you set foot into the cave it dashes towards you, striking out at your chest with its claw. You block the claw with your guandao and sending it flying back several feet. In response the entire pack swarms towards you. You hit a few of the creatures with your guandao while your antlers block the charge of another, piercing through its flesh. You estimate that they're just as good a weapon as your guandao. The beasts nearly swarm over you, but you unleash 4 Desires and your full physical ability in order to tear through them before they can deal any major wounds to you. Within a couple minutes the cave is full of corpses covered in various slash and stab wounds. You're lightly wounded as well, but with your ability to recover none of the wounds will be a problem for one. You tear the claws off of all of the beasts, take a quick look around the cave to make sure you didn't miss anything, and then return to the camp.When you return dinner is ready and you listen to third argument so far about Grey Root and whether the name should be changed. You're really getting tired of this.The next day the group leaves their current location, determining that both too many vicious beasts are gathering around and that they should have picked everything that was easy to find. The next two days you walk through the forest as the men continue to pick herbs. During that time you slay various beasts, vicious or otherwise, and split your time between getting information out of the herb-gatherers, practicing picking herbs at night with your improved sense of smell, and cultivating. You get back to the tribe without incident and the merchant happily pays you your wage. After you reach the tribe you...>go out and look for herbs yourself, you have a bit of knowledge and so you should practice the practical skills more.>take on a few more of these jobs, before you do anything regarding the plants here you should get a decent base of knowledge.>head towards the center of the Northern Wastes. The strongest vicious beasts lurk there, but there are also the most powerful herbs and cultivators there.>return to Border City, it's a good place to get jobs and trade info. Feng Jun might be there as well.>Other
>>3626601>head towards the center of the Northern Wastes. The strongest vicious beasts lurk there, but there are also the most powerful herbs and cultivators there.
>>3626601>>take on a few more of these jobs, before you do anything regarding the plants here you should get a decent base of knowledge.>>3626615I think we should head there with a friend like Feng jun. Who knows the lay of the land. And is knowledgeable if we do decide to go there.
>>3626601>>take on a few more of these jobs, before you do anything regarding the plants here you should get a decent base of knowledge.I'm sure we could practice and pick up some stuff. Before we leave this town we should sell all of our old herbs. We have had them for quite a while. Dont want space to become an issue.
>>3626601>>take on a few more of these jobs, before you do anything regarding the plants here you should get a decent base of knowledge.
Next update will be tomorrow morning, slow day because I had all of my relatives over and now I'm exhausted.
You want to take on a few more jobs of a similar nature in this tribe and gain experience for the next few weeks. By the point you should be much more familiar with the landscape of the Northern Wastes, and you'll know the animals and plants of the area better. After making you decision you immediately go out to find another job to take on.You ignore the level of pay, taking on jobs that allow you to learn about the flora and fauna of the area. Your main duty is simply killing beasts, and it's not particuarly dangerous given the jobs you're taking on. There are groups heading into more dangerous areas, but you're unable to take on the jobs even if you wanted to- the groups heading there have strict requirements on the number and strength of their guardians. If you really tried you may be able to sign on as a helper for those groups, but considering the danger and your priorities you stick to escorting groups through the forest. As you do so you search for herbs, cultivate, and most importantly, learn about the area.A few weeks pass as you do this, and you come out of it with a heavier coinpurse from your latest batch of plants aged with your blood and more experience. Without your knowledge though, several developments that will affect your future have happened while you were gaining experience...get ready for a lot of posts, 1/4
Near a hill in the Northern Wastes... A few men stand next to a hill, seemingly guarding it. The men suddenly stand up at attention as a massive elk dashes out of the forest. On the back of the elk is a teenage boy and an old man. The men standing near the hill bow, greeting the two newcomers. "Low Protector greets the Highblood and High Protector!"The boy waves his hand and the three stand up. "This is the site where the ruin may be?" One of the men steps forward and nods in response the boy's question. "Yes, this is where the ruin should be. There's a force stopping us from reaching the top of the hill so we can't confirm, but given the odd phenomena and our records, it's almost certain the first patriarch left a ruin behind here."The boy simply nods in response and begins walking up the hill with the old man. They reach the midpoint of the hill without much trouble, but as they advance further the two begin sweating and straining. Suddenly the old man's feet leave an imprint in the ground and the he seems to stop struggling, resuming his advance forward. Not to be shown up the boy grunts and two small antlers begin growing from his head. They grow to a length of half a foot before stopping, and the boy walks up the hill unimpeded. The two quickly reach the top of the hill and stare at a carved piece of stone set into the ground. The boy glances at the old man and hesitantly asks a question. "This... it's the symbols of the Horned God, right?" In response the old man carefully examines the piece of stone, even going so far as to rub his hands over it. After several minutes he nods. "Yes, these are the exact symbols. This is definitely a ruin left behind by the first patriarch. We should just need to stimulate our vitality and bloodlines to open it. Hopefully the two of us are enough, or else we'll be forced to share our harvest with the Lowbloods."The two place their hands against the stone, and after several minutes the stone begins slowly parting with a great rumbling noise. The two enter into the chamber, and seconds later let out joyous laughter. The boy excitedly exclaims "These carvings! This is beyond my wildest expectations! This means this is one of the chambers where the first patriarch left a Bloodline Core!" The old man responds with a similar excitement. "Yes, yes, that's right. The clan hasn't had a Bloodline Core in time immemorial. Since the first patriarch refined them from the monster core of the Horned God, there should only be a few left. If we can use it both of us should have bloodlines purer than countless generations of Highbloods, and with what's left we can nurture the future generations!"The two look around, a mix of joy and greed in their eyes. After several minutes their joy turns into a mix of confusion, frustration, and anger. As the search continues veins pop out of the old man's head and he looks furious.
"The Bloodline Core... it's not here. Nothing is here! I... someone must have came here before us. The ruin only surfaced a couple of months ago, so they probably entered when that rumbling phenomenoa was noted. I didn't think much about it before, but that was probably the door being unsealed."The two stand there silently, processing the situation, before the old man continues. "There are two possibilities. The first is that a peerless expert who practices body transformation techniques took the Bloodline Core. Only they'd have enough vitality to open this place without being a part of our clan. If this happened then we have no choice but to suck up this insult and to speak of this to no one. The second possibility is that someone else from our bloodline came here first. They could be from a rival faction of the clan, or they could be someone who left the clan generations ago. Either way their bloodline would need to be powerful enough to unseal the door alone. This second case means we have a chance of getting the Bloodline Core back, but only if we can find them. If we find them, we need to eliminate them- with a bloodline that powerful they'd replace you as Highblood and take control of the clan."The boy regulates his breathing and closes his eyes, calming down. After that he turns towards the old man, a cold look in his eyes. "We'll assume it's the second option. Do everything you can to track them down." At the Liu family estate An elder approaches the estate's gate, bowing lightly and greeting your brother and his fiancee, Ji Quxin. "Young Master Ji, Young Master Liu, we didn't expect that the two of you would be coming. Please, come in. How was your time at the Ji family Young Master Liu?" Your older brother and the elder make small talk as his fiancee looks around. "So, your younger brother is here, right Xuan'er?" Your older brother looks at his fiancee and nods. "Yes, he should be in seclusion right now. I'm not sure what happened, but he has made a lot of progress recently." "Mmm... Xuan'er, it'd be rude not to greet him. Would he mind being disturbed for a moment?" "Probably not, but I don't know where he's holed up. You'd have to ask Grand Elder Zhu, he's the one who sent out the message." Ji Quxin stops the conversation there, simply gritting her teeth and continuing to walk.Later that night Ji Quxin walks into her guest room, vacantly staring at the furniture before slamming her fist against the desk. "He can't even come out of seclusion for a damn meal... shit, how am I supposed to do anything like this. Food is given to his 'quarters' twice a day, maybe I can bribe the cook. No, just get rid of the maid and send my own. Wait... urgh, how will I cover that up. Dammit!" Ji Quxin runs her fingers through her hair violently, as if she's trying to pull an idea out of her skull. Nothing comes though, so she simply sits there, a violent expression on her face.
After several weeks of gaining experience you're ready to stop and do something practical. You weigh the pros and cons of each option before...>deciding to find a suitable place to practice gathering herbs yourself.>heading towards the center of the Northern Wastes. The strongest vicious beasts lurk there, but there are also the most powerful herbs and cultivators there.>returning to Border City, it's a good place to get jobs and trade info. Feng Jun might be there as well.>Other
>>3628600>heading towards the center of the Northern Wastes. The strongest vicious beasts lurk there, but there are also the most powerful herbs and cultivators there.It's time to do something practical.
>>3628600>>returning to Border City, it's a good place to get jobs and trade info. Feng Jun might be there as well.
>>3628618I think we should find our one friend in the area. And move around with him. It gives us someone to practice our techniques with. We now know enough about herbs to pick up things we find anywhere we go in the northern wastes. SO money will be as simple as walking from town to town picking up herbs as we see fit. SO money not being an issue, I am sure we could convince Feng to travel towards the center with us and pick up a bunch of jobs doing more hunting missions with him as our leader. And if we don't find him I am sure we could find some of our squad possibly convince them. And we practice 1v3 with them while we take jobs and travel to the center. The center being more prosperous is where we should spend our boat loads of money.
>>3628714This sounds good.>returning to Border City, it's a good place to get jobs and trade info. Feng Jun might be there as well.Seems like it wouldn't hurt traveling in a larger group/stronger cultivators. While in the northern wastes. Seems like Ji doesn't want the best for us..we should really focus on getting stronger.Thankfully we still have the protection talisman and bead right OP?Once we get to the center we should buy some higher quality cloth armor too. And restock on cultivation supplies from that city. That way we can break through faster.
>>3628600>returning to Border City, it's a good place to get jobs and trade info. Feng Jun might be there as well.We need to get stronger real quick,I suppose going bounty hunting is out of the question so might as well fight some strong beasts and train with our boy.
>>3628600>>returning to Border City, it's a good place to get jobs and trade info. Feng Jun might be there as well.Wow, we need to start training and cultivating like crazy. Everyone wants a piece of us. Hopefully we make a breakthrough before we leave here
>>3628600>heading towards the center of the Northern Wastes. The strongest vicious beasts lurk there, but there are also the most powerful herbs and cultivators there.I still think that "solo excursions" are supposed to be "solo". Given our awesome Horn-power we should avoid company for a while until we have complete mastery.
You're going to make your way back to Border City and prepare before you try to head towards the center of the Northern Wastes. It'd be beneficial to travel with stronger cultivators if you try to go there, as your current strength isn't terrible, but it's still slightly lacking.You say goodbye to the merchants who helped you find work, stock up on supplies for the road, purchase a new horse (your old one disappeared when you spent a month absorbing the energy from that pearl- hopefully it's alright), and set out for Border City. Before you reach Border City your cultivation makes a small breakthrough and you advance to Middle Bone and Marrow Tempering. Maybe with your increased strength you'll be able to fight on even grounds with an Early Blood and Viscera Tempering cultivator, but you're not sure.After several days of travel you see the high walls of Border City in the distance. You reach the walls, pay your entrance fee, and stable your horse. After that you head to the organization in charge of job listings. Feng Jun probably knows quite a few people there given how outgoing he seems, so that'd be the easiest place to look for him. If you find him then good, if not then you can go from there and either search more or give up and look for other cultivators who are willing to travel with you.You reach the center of the city and enter the work organization's building. A receptionist politely greets you, and you ask them if they know if Feng Jun is in the city right now, apologizing for coming here for something unrelated to their business. The receptionist pauses before hesitantly telling you that they do recognize Feng Jun since he comes here a lot, and as far as they know he's still in the city. You try to get an address out of her but she says that's all the information she can give you and you leave without anything more.You spend the next hour speaking to various cultivators in taverns before figuring out where Feng Jun is. Apparently he has a home in the city, and he spends most of his time there if he's not in the wastes. You make your way to the outer edge of the city to a small, wooden house. You knock on the door and after a short delay the door opens and Feng Jun appears. After he sees you he smiles and ushers you in. "I didn't expect to see Junior Brother Zuo, it's been a couple of months, hasn't it? You disappeared from the group after we went to that hill, what happened?" Well, you certainly can't tell him what actually happened. He seems like a trustworthy guy, but you don't know him that well. You...>ignore the question and redirect the conversation, he should have the tact to not delve further.>tell him that you were summoned by your sect, with a cultivation at Middle Bone and Marrow Tempering this young most people would assume you're part of a family or sect anyways.>tell him you got lost in the woods and eventually stumbled upon a tribe where you got some work. It makes you sound dumb, but it's plausible.>Other
>>3629038>>tell him that you were summoned by your sect, with a cultivation at Middle Bone and Marrow Tempering this young most people would assume you're part of a family or sect anyways.
>>3629038>tell him that you were summoned by your sect, with a cultivation at Middle Bone and Marrow Tempering this young most people would assume you're part of a family or sect anyways.
>>3629038>>tell him that you were summoned by your sect, with a cultivation at Middle Bone and Marrow Tempering this young most people would assume you're part of a family or sect anyways.Seems like the most reasonable. We can chat shoot the shit, catch up. And then explain that we want to go to the center and see if he is interested so we can earn some cash together. And as a late blood and viscera cultivator in his late 20's that is likely above avg for his age. We can chat with him and practice since 1 level and 1 stage above us. plenty of room for him to practice with us on the road. What kind of weapon does he use?We could possibly get him something from "our sect" as a thanks for the training in the future. So long as that's not terribly out of character for the setting.
Quick, you need to think of an excuse. Er... he probably assumes you have some background, so you should be able to say you were called back to your sect. That should also distance you further from your family clan, since he won't even think you're part of a family. He may think you're from Hiqiu Sect to the west, and while your father did fight against them, they never committed any atrocities as far as you know. It was just a war over resources, so you don't mind being associated with them."I was called back to my sect over some urgent business. I apologize for not informing Senior Brother Feng ahead of time, but I needed to hurry back." "Ah, I see. It's fine, I was just curious. I'll prepare some tea, take a seat." You take a seat at a rough wooden table and soon Feng Jun returns with a simple tea set. He pours a glass for each of you and you begin talking while he talks about the city. Apparently Border City has been really lively recently so he hasn't taken any jobs right now in hope of striking up a friendship with a visiting expert.You try to get to the roots of what caused everything to become so lively in the city, and he says that there are three main causes.First, a major trading caravan from the center of the Northern Wastes arrives. This happens every so often, and apparently this time they brought more goods than usual due to especially good growing conditions recently. This led to more merchants entering the city as well as representatives from various forces hoping to broker trade deals. Normally this wouldn't be a huge deal in itself, but a couple weeks ago an expert refiner came out of seclusion in the wastes and returned to Border City. He was immediately swarmed with requests, and announced that he'd only be taking them until the first of the next month. Once the first came he would ignore any requests and be selecting a single apprentice from among anyone under the age of 20 who shows talent as a refiner. It's half a week until the first of next month now, and many aspiring juniors have shown up in the city. There are a couple from the Ki Family, one of five families and the one which has the most control over Border City. There are several juniors from the Hi and Kinzoku families coming. These families are the members of the five families that correspond to fire and metal. They have many juniors who want to become skilled refiners, so it's only natural that they send a few people out here. They aren't the most skilled of their family (the most talented would learn from refiners within the family), but they're likely skilled enough to be one of the front-runners for the position.
Last but not least, as people came into the city the arena become busier. Two weeks ago a warrior came out of nowhere and entered the arena. He was only a normal Bone and Marrow Tempering cultivator so people weren't expecting much, but he had an inborn strength that has led him to a massive winstreak. Now he's won 20 matches in a row, one of them against a Late Blood and Viscera Cultivator. There are rumors that some major families are thinking of recruiting him, and even more young warriors have entered the city in hopes of either challenging him or seeing him fight.After getting a rundown on all of the city's latest news you explain your plan of forming a group and heading towards the center of the Northern Wastes as you do odd jobs. Feng Jun considers it for a moment before accepting. He says he wanted to head there soon anyways, so the timing is good. You discuss the situation further and you tell him...>you're fine leaving as soon as possible, the city is lively but it has little to do with you.>you'd like to stay here for a while, you're interesting in the city's going-ons.>you want to stay here for at least a couple weeks, you'd like to look into these incidents, stock up, and get a better idea of the city. It also gives more time to form a proper group.>Other>>3629100I don't think I ever established a weapon so he uses a sword, that's what I had in my head. You don't know him too well so it'd be slightly odd, but you could gift him a sword if you wanted. It wouldn't seem ridiculous at least.
>>3629310>>you're fine leaving as soon as possible, the city is lively but it has little to do with you.Let's get swol in the forest like Russians
>>3629310>>you're fine leaving as soon as possible, the city is lively but it has little to do with you.I wouldn't mind staying. But ot would be to just buy new techniques. And what not. I'm sure we would be better off getting them from the source(large city) and while we travel we can keep working on 72 desires and our movement getting better at those. We could look for something specific to our weapon in a large city like that as well.
>>3629634I'm really just excited to get home with all our herbal knowledge and breakthroughs in martial arts and cultivating
You want to leave Border City as quickly as possible. What's going on is interesting, but it doesn't have much to do with you. You're not going to be better at refining than juniors from the five families, even if you have several years of experience. The arena sounds interesting but you're not going to be the one to end that madman's winstreak with your level of strength. You guess you could check out the market if a bunch of goods arrived, but you're not sure if they'll be helpful to you. Either way, it won't take long.You express your preference to Feng Jun and he nods in response. "Alright, we'll need to get a few people on our level, someone at Meridian Opening to lead the way, and plenty of supplies. All in all it will take three to five days. Tell me where you're staying and I'll update you as we finish. It shouldn't be long." Well, alright then. You feel a bit bad for rushing Feng Jun, but he doesn't seem to mind so it's alright. You tell where you stayed before and then leave to book a room there.After booking a room you get a decent meal and walk around the city a bit. Upon closer inspection you can tell that the streets are even more packed than usual, so Feng Jun wasn't really exaggerating. As you examine the city you...>go to the market to offload the cheap herbs you found and look at whatever came from the centers of the wastes. You have plenty of money, so you can at least browse.>look around the city and see where the juniors from other families are. You can't let your identity leak now, but it's still a good idea to make friends in among the other aspiring juniors of the country.>find somewhere and cultivate, it won't have much effect, but it's a good way to kill time.>Other
>>3630444>>go to the market to offload the cheap herbs you found and look at whatever came from the centers of the wastes. You have plenty of money, so you can at least browse.
>>3630444>go to the market to offload the cheap herbs you found and look at whatever came from the centers of the wastes. You have plenty of money, so you can at least browse.Then>find somewhere and cultivate, it won't have much effect, but it's a good way to kill time.If we still have time to do it.
>>3630444>look around the city and see where the juniors from other families are. You can't let your identity leak now, but it's still a good idea to make friends in among the other aspiring juniors of the country
You'll head to the market for the time being. You're currently flush with cash, so it wouldn't hurt to look around now that they have more than usual available, maybe you'll find something worth buying.You walk to the market and see that it's far more crowded than before. Finely dressed men and women walk to and fro, brokering deals with fat merchants. Most of the stores and stands are selling herbs and parts from animals. You decide to just offload your items for now and only purchase a few herbs that you can age with your blood or eat in an emergency. You don't have a place to practice refining something from the animal hides and such right now, and you're not an apothecary so you have no use for most of the herbs besides selling them.As you look around you see a crowd gathered around a heavily-guarded storefront. You push through the crowd, curious, and see that there's an odd fruit displayed through the window. The fruit is half a foot across and is colored in a deep purple. Green patterns similar to vines cover the surface. Under the fruit is a piece of paper saying "300 Year Purple-Wood Fruit. Discuss offers with manager. Fradulent or joke offers will not be tolerated." Purple-Wood Fruit? You haven't heard of this before. You turn to the person next to you and inquire about it. Apparently it's a valuable wood-elemental plant that can be eaten without being refined into a pill. The Ki family has been trying to purchase it, but due to some sort of enmity with the owner of the fruit they haven't been able to purchase it. Now a bunch of representatives from other major families are trying to purchase it, leading to the crowd of people waiting outside the store now.Well, that's interesting, but you don't have the funds to purchase it. It will probably sell for a few hundred thousand gold coins at minimum, although you're unsure of the exact price. You leave the crowd and look around some more. After looking around you...Funds: 61k gold>purchase some pills, you won't want to use too many to avoid an unstable foundation, but you have plenty of time to cleanse your body of pill toxins while you're in the Northern Wastes. (give amount to spend)>look for a useful technique to practice, you have a couple of good finishing moves, but you could use more. (tell me what general type you want to practice and a range of cash and I will list options.)>purchase some utility items like short range sound transmission talismans and poison testing kits. You may not get a chance to use them on the road, but they could be worth having. They'll take up a bit of space in your pack though. (600 gold)>look for some sort of item that you can add to your lifesaving means. You couldn't purchase anything as useful as what Zhu Chao gave you, but you should have enough to find something. (this option will take essentially all of your funds)>buy nothing, you should just save your money for now. Maybe something will interest you later.>Other
>>3631509>>purchase some pills, you won't want to use too many to avoid an unstable foundation, but you have plenty of time to cleanse your body of pill toxins while you're in the Northern Wastes. (give amount to spend)>>look for a useful technique to practice, you have a couple of good finishing moves, but you could use more. (tell me what general type you want to practice and a range of cash and I will list options.)Around 20k on pills, you want the good stuff, the rest can be spent on a technique
>>3631519Oh and for the technique we should look for some kind of sweeping attack for all these packs of animals we fight.
>>3631519Support.I'd say at least 5K on a technique that we could use more than 72 desires,maybe one to get to more advantageous positions during fights
>>3631519Agreed. Buy the best pills we can get for our money. And buy a speed technique for general travel and boosting fighting speed.Are their not tiers for techniques we can choose?
>>3631784You wouldn't be surprised if somewhere someone has split cultivation techniques and battle techniques into formal tiers, but there's nothing that exact here. If you really wanted to separate things into tiers you could say that the Five Families, the government, and a few other major families would have control of most of the country's top-tier techniques. Below that would be the main techniques other relatively large families, such as your family. (This would be where 72 Desires and your cultivation technique are) Below this are normal battle techniques possessed by minor clans and wandering cultivators. (This is where the technique you purchased a Border City during your last visit would go. Your movement technique for dodging would likely be somewhere between this "tier" and the one above.)
Alright, just got done with tabletop so I can update. If there's some sort of decision as to what type of technique is preferred I can update then, or if there isn't I can figure something out in a bit.
>>3631535I think the we should get the best movement boost technique we can find. Helps in fights for instantaneous speed. And could help us travel/run when needed. And easy to train since you know we walk..
>>3631509>look for a useful technique to practice, you have a couple of good finishing moves, but you could use more. (tell me what general type you want to practice and a range of cash and I will list options.)We need a movement technique, or failing that, an escape technique.An AoE would also be cool.
Rolled 2 (1d2)alright then1: AoE attack used for fighting large numbers of enemies2: Movement technique for mid to long distances.
You'll pick up some high quality pills to assist with your cultivation and then look for another technique. You go around the market and try to stay low-key as you buy a few pills one at a time. They're relatively high quality and by taking a few you can advance in cultivation without endangering your foundation much. This takes 20,000 gold coins in bills out of your funds, becoming an expense that would normally be nearly two years of saving for you. You don't think juniors outside of the Five Families or forces with a similar level of power could normally spend this much without feeling the pinch.After purchasing your pills you make sure no one is following you and then look at techniques. Despite your increased movement speed and your dodging technique, you are missing a movement technique that actually allows you to, well, move faster. It's not your strong suit, but picking up some sort of technique will help offset that. You look around at a few of the fancier shops before finding a technique that fits your specifications. It doesn't require any special cultivation methods and it's able to be practiced by people with a low level of cultivation. You purchase it for 16,000 gold and leave the shop, satisfied with your purchase. Your funds have diminished significantly, but considering that you're making more than 10,000 gold coins a month after you average the sales of your herbs, you'll earn it all back eventually.You cultivate for a couple of hours outside the city before going to sleep for the night. In the morning you resist your desire to contact Feng Jun and see how everything is going. You are anxious to go, but you don't want to bother him. He said it will be three to four days, so you'll still be here for at least a couple of days. You get out of bed and...>look around the city and see where the juniors from other families are. You can't let your identity leak now, but it's still a good idea to make friends in among the other aspiring juniors of the country.>head to the arena, you can have a few fights there to practice. You've been lacking real combat lately.>head to arena, you'd like to watch some fights now that the quality of them has supposedly gone up.>start practicing your new technique, you'll have plenty of time to practice it on the road but it couldn't hurt to start early.>Other
>>3632340>>head to the arena, you can have a few fights there to practice. You've been lacking real combat lately.
>>3632340>>head to the arena, you can have a few fights there to practice. You've been lacking real combat lately
>>3632340Are we allowed to bet on our selves? We should do something like 3,000. That should be something we could have saved ourselves.
>>3632485People are allowed to bet on themselves, but the betting limit is 500 gold coins. This is to avoid a hypothetical situation where someone the arena underestimates bets some amount of money, increases it greatly through winning, puts all the money back in as his bet, wins another game with terrible odds against him, and eventually takes away a large amount of money. This may sound outlandish, but if someone was strong enough they could do it without much trouble. The only question is if the money they could win would motivate them enough. It does discourage extremely rich gamblers from coming here, and as a result the arena is targeted towards normal cultivators.Besides bets, warriors are also paid a very small portion of all bets as compensation, but only if they won. Anyways, update shortly.
You want to head over to the arena today. You haven't had to chance to practice in real combat and test your strength out to the fullest yet, so you'll fight in a few matches there and see where your limits are now. You're just itching to fight something that can actually challenge you instead of another pack of weak vicious beasts.You head to the arena and enter a small side entrance marked "Competitor Entrance". A fat man with several scars sits at a counter and jots down information for every contestant. "Zuo Shi. 14 years old. Middle Bone and Marrow Tempering. Combat strength between Late Bone and Marrow Tempering and Early Blood and Viscera Altering." The man scribbles all this information down and then just says "You're number 12. Your first matches will be against vicious beasts, depending on how you do we may invite you to fight other contestants. This is partially based on how many bets are placed when you're fighting and not just your strength. They correlate though, so it should be fine." The man then waves you away and you sit down on a nearby bench. As you wait you place a bet of 500 gold coins on yourself, hoping to make a bit of cash.After half an hour your number is called and someone at Late Blood and Viscera Tempering leads you through a tunnel and to a massive entrance made of iron. Once you're there he says nothing until you hear your name being called, the sound made louder by some sort of minor formation or treasure. Or maybe the announcer is just a cultivator with great lung strength? Either way the iron gate in front of you begins to creak open, and the man who lead you here simply wishes you good luck. You enter into the arena and hear screaming surround you from every angle. Hundreds of feet of rock and dirt surrounds you, and at the opposite side of the arena you can something that looks similar to a lion. It growls at you, and as the announcer continues speaking it charges.Once the lion charges you ready your guandao to counter it. It jumps into the air, trying to pounce onto you, when you...>try to dodge and then blind it when it lands. No need to exhaust more energy than needed.>launch a powerful blow at its underside aiming to make it die quickly. An overwhelming victory means you'll get better opponents.>Other
>>3633132>>try to dodge and then blind it when it lands. No need to exhaust more energy than needed.Get as much practice as we can in the arena. With our current techniques.
>>3633132>>try to dodge and then blind it when it lands. No need to exhaust more energy than needed.
You'll dodge this blow and then try to disable the lion with your counterattack. It uses up less energy than the alternative, although you do want to take advantage of the beast's open stance right now. You move to the side, trying to get out from under the lion before it lands. It quickly approaches the ground, and you barely manage to dodge it. After landing it immediately sends a claw shooting out at you, and you tilt back a few inches to dodge it. The claw ends up cutting through your outershirt and revealing the light armor beneath. Below that it injures you slightly, but since it's mainly a grazing blow you'll be fine.You prepare your counterattack and rush towards the lion's head. It sends two more blows at you. The first you dodge by dropping to the ground, letting the attack pass over your head. The next one you jump over. It gets excited, planning to bite at you now that you're in midair,but you manage to injure both of its eyes with 2 Desires before it can get to you. It screeches in pain as you fall towards the ground, landing a few feet away. The lion lets out a load roar, charging in your general direction, but now that it has its vision disabled it's not a match for you. You dodge its reckless blows, wounding it in the side every time it tries to attack you. Still, now that it doesn't know where you are the attacks are less predictable. You're hit by one more small blow fighting the beast. As it loses blood it slows down, and eventually you finish it off with a heavy blow to the skull. The severely injured lion is taken away, probably doomed to a future as someone's coat.You leave and are given 1200 gold coins from your bet of 500 gold coins. You're told your next battle will be in half an hour and given time to restore yourself to your best condition. You're not particuarly tired, so you should be fine in that regard. You...>sit there and patiently wait for your next match.>speak to the other people competing here.>Other
>>3633303>>speak to the other people competing here.
>>3633303>speak to the other people competing here.Better than doing nothing.
>>3633303>speak to the other people competing here.
Well, there shouldn't be any harm in talking to the other competitors while you're here. You're not injured much so you don't need to put all your focus towards recovering your strength. You turn the person next to you and try to strike up a conversation, and... they ignore you. This scene repeats several times until a well-dressed teenager with cultivation slightly above your own approaches you. "The people here aren't very friendly, are they?" "Maybe they're nervous about their matches." "Could be. Anyways, I'm Peng Zan of the Peng Family. You are...?" "I'm Zuo Shi." Peng Zan nods in response and the two of you spend the rest of your time waiting chatting about the country and the city. Several people sitting around glare at you, and while you're talking a woman in her 20s mutters something, assumedly at you. "Too carefree... learn what it's like to make a living here and then try to have fun." Peng Zan doesn't look like he heard it and you ignore it, realizing that it's not the sort of thing you're meant to respond too.Peng Zan's turn comes first, and you're immediately after him. He manages to draw against a vicious beast with strength at Early Blood and Viscera Tempering, injuring it while it injures him. After him it's your turn, and they send out a massive snake that's as thick as your torso and at least 50 feet long. After you enter the arena it shoots towards you at a speed far faster than your own, and you have no choice but to raise your guandao and launch an all-out blow against it before it thinks to dodge. It shoots towards you, mouth wide open, as your guandao hits it in the side. "5 Desires!" You don't hesitate to use your strongest move now that you can still fight after using it once. If you let this snake get away now you're not sure when the next chance you'll have to hit it is. The snake hisses in pain as five deep cuts spread across its side. Blood shoots out from the wounds as you tear away a piece of flesh with the blow.The snake goes into full retreat, giving you the chance to launch two more attacks in its retreat. You would be worried if it had continued to attack head-on, but after taking your strongest blow it's afraid of you. Sadly, after that it keeps away from you, continually backing away. After a couple minutes of this the crowd seems angry, but around this point the snake gathers up its courage and shoots towards you once again, its injury on the side opposite from you. You slash out with the guandao, but the pain of one strike is ignored as it tries to coil around you. Panicked, you jump upwards to avoid the trap. Once you're in the air the snake shoots towards you, trying to swallow you in one gulp. In response you push your guandao forwards, hoping to use the force of the impact to avoid being eaten. As the guandao hits the snake you are sent flying away from its mouth, but the force is enough to slam you against the ground. The impact feels like a hammer hitting your chest.
You stumble as you stand up and the snake dashes towards you once again, confidence regained. You sidestep the assault and manage to get on the injured side of the snake again. As it tries to swallow you up, you immediately aim 4 Desires at its injury. The guandao embeds itself in the injured piece of flesh and flashes in multiple directions, nearly decapitating the snake as it's feet away from biting you. As you pull out the guandao the snake is barely moving, and you're declared the victor.You return to the waiting room and are given 2000 gold coins for your bet of 500 gold coins... were the odds that bad? You go to talk to Peng Zan, who watched your fight, and he seems... surprised. "Good job! That vicious beast could kill some Early Blood and Viscera Tempering cultivators! I think I could've beaten it, but it would have be a similarly exhausting battle. Anyways, I'll be leaving for now, what about you?" You...>respond that you'll be resting for a bit and then coming back here. Now that you've found the edge of your strength you should push yourself.>tell him that you'll watch a few matches.>tell him you're going home and go practice your new technique.>tell him that you'll be looking for where the important juniors visiting the city are hanging out, maybe he'll know.>ask him where he's going, you may as well go along.>Other
>>3636014>>respond that you'll be resting for a bit and then coming back here. Now that you've found the edge of your strength you should push yourself.Honestly we should talk to important juniors seeing as that's the biggest thing we are behind our brother in that being allies and socially beneficial love interests,but I honestly want to triple down on being an amazing cultivator and martial artist.
>>3636014>tell him that you'll be looking for where the important juniors visiting the city are hanging out, maybe he'll know.We have to trigger some conflicts, some face-slapping, and some damsels to hit on. What are we cultivating for if we don't stir up chaos?
>>3636133I'll change my vote to agree with this boi
"I was going to look around and speak to the other prominent juniors currently in the city. That being said, I'm not sure where they're hanging out right now." Peng Zan smiles in response. "Ah, it's good you ran into me then. I was going to head to the Butterfly Loft after this, that's where most of the other young masters visiting the city are. It has places to relax and chat for some, and for others it has.. young maidens. Anyways, follow me, I'll show you there." You follow Peng Zan and he leads you to a large building with multiple floors. A signboard in the shape of butterfly says "Butterfly Loft" on it and hangs over the entrance.The two of you approach the entrance, where an old man in a suit is standing next to doors made of dark, aged wood. He looks at the two of you and respectfully asks for the names of the two of you. You provide your fake name and Peng Zan gives his name and family. The old man nods and strokes his beard. "The Peng family meets the mark, you may enter. As for you... well, your cultivation is satisfactory and you're friends with Young Master Peng. You may enter." The old man opens the doors and inside you see dozens of people sitting around and chatting. Beautiful women are serving tea while these juniors chat, and in a few rooms in the back you can hear faint sounds of the guqin. As you look around you hear someone suddenly stand up, and then you look towards the sound. That's when you see someone you recognize- Yu Fu, the second son of the Yu family. He reaches you before you think to say anything and greets you. "Brother Liu, I didn't expect to see you here! We have to catch up, I see you made some leaps in cultivation since you left the Yu family, come, meet my older brother."Well, shit, you were trying to keep a low profile. Still, it's unlikely whatever force wanted you dead is here. There's no one else you recognize besides Yu Fu after all. You...>act confused and ask Yu Fu who Liu is referring to. You're ZUO SHI after all.>go along with Yu Fu, you should be fine and if you hide your identity here then any friends you make may not be useful in the future anyways. As long as you tell him not to talk about meeting here it'll be fine.>Other
>>3636466>>go along with Yu Fu, you should be fine and if you hide your identity here then any friends you make may not be useful in the future anyways. As long as you tell him not to talk about meeting here it'll be fine.We cant insult our friend but this will also send assassins after us.
>>3636466>>go along with Yu Fu, you should be fine and if you hide your identity here then any friends you make may not be useful in the future anyways. As long as you tell him not to talk about meeting here it'll be fine.fuck it. It sucks but the jig is up..
You follow after Yu Fu as Peng Zan looks at you, confused. Yu Fu leads you towards a seat in the corner where you see two men who are 16 or 17 as well as a woman in her early 20s. You, Peng Zan, and Yu Fu sit down as the three there look at you. Yu Fu turns towards one of the young men before introducing you."Older brother, this is Liu Zhu, the boy who visited the Liu family while you were training there. Liu Zhu, this is Yu Bai, my older brother." Yu Bai stands up and shakes your hand. The two of you then exchange a couple of compliments as you're introduced to the others.Apparently the other man is first son of a powerful merchant in the capital, and the woman is a member of the Ki family. Surprised, you inquire into how Yu Bai knows her, and he explains that she once gave him some instruction on refining armor after they met at the Yutian Martial Conference. "The Yutian Martial Conference? I didn't expect the Yu family to have a slot there, my family has never been able to send anyone." Yu Bai freezes up for a moment, as if he's confused, before awkwardly continuing the conversation. "Er... I know for a fact that the Liu family has had a slot, at least for the past few years. It's easy to overlook it since they never send anyone, but there is a list of families and the amount of juniors they can send available." Wait, what? That... well, you're surprised but you can think of an explanation. The Yutian Martial Conference is a chance for all of the most powerful juniors in the realm to show off their strength, so anyone who's too weak risks getting injured. You were far too weak before your recent increases in strength, and your brother may have met the mark but Zhu Chao was probably afraid of him causing an incident. If he could send the both of you together it would've solved the problem, but you only had one slot.You move pass that awkward bit of conversation and begin talking. The woman from the Ki family leaves after speaking to Yu Bai for a bit, and she doesn't seem interested in interacting with any of you. The merchant's son is rather friendly, but his strength isn't particularly notable. He leaves after a while to enjoy some of the other services the Butterfly Pavilion has to offer, and Peng Zan goes to speak to someone else. You decline his offer to come with him and take the chance to make sure Yu Fu and Yu Bai don't tell anyone you're in the Northern Wastes. They take the warning to heart, and after making sure that danger is gone you...>try to speak to some of the juniors of the Five Families that are here, it'll be difficult but they're the most influential. If you could strike up a friendship with one of them it'd be greatly beneficial.>speak to people around your own level or a bit more influential, it'll be far easier than trying to interact with anyone from the Five Families.>catch up with Peng Zan now that you have this dealt with, you haven't heard of the Peng Family but he seemed pleasant enough.>Other
>>3636751>>speak to people around your own level or a bit more influential, it'll be far easier than trying to interact with anyone from the Five Families.
>>3636751>>speak to people around your own level or a bit more influential, it'll be far easier than trying to interact with anyone from the Five Families.We want friends we can actually stand together with. Not someone who will look down on us, or have any misgivings.
>>3636751>speak to people around your own level or a bit more influential, it'll be far easier than trying to interact with anyone from the Five Families.We'll always have time to talk to Peng Zan later and I've got the feeling that the juniors of the Five Families are a bunch of little bitches.
>>3636751>>>speak to people around your own level or a bit more influential, it'll be far easier than trying to interact with anyone from the Five Families.
You'll avoid the juniors from the Five Families for now and try to talk to people closer to your own level. It'd be great to make a friend in high places, but if you try to make friends with someone in a higher position than you there's always the risk of either offending them or being seen as a lackey, among other things. You look around and approach a group of three young men and two women, hoping to make friends among them...The women are from relatively large families local to Border City, while the men are from a few families you've vaguely heard of from the Eastern Region of the country. You introduce yourself and manage to strike up a few conversations. First your group discusses the recent going-ons in the city before moving onto poetry and politics. After at least an hour you're all in a jovial mood and the group has grown by several members. You're not sure if you'll make a connection with most of these people, but there a few of them you'd like to speak further with- they seem like good enough people, they know how to have a good time but don't go overboard.As you're speaking you excuse yourself to go the bathroom, and as you're about to reach it you come across a boy who's 16 or 17 speaking to another youth his age. You wouldn't normally take notice of it, but from what the others were saying this man is Chang Yijun, an important figure in a major family. After a moment you take your eyes off of him, heading to the bathroom, but then you happen to overhear the two speaking. "So, Hu Chi, have you thought over my offer?" A hesitant voice responds "Th-that... no... I'm not taking you up on it. I keep telling you... I really can't trade this sword." What follows is a yelp of pain. You glance towards the sound and see that Chang Yijun is tightly gripping Hu Chi's shoulder. He's at Middle Blood and Viscera Tempering, while Hu Chi is only at Late Bone and Marrow Tempering, so it's impossible for Hu Chi to retaliate. As you're considering intervening, their conversation continues. "Look, don't make this so hard for me Brother Hu. We're good friends, so I definitely won't wrong you on this deal. Just give me your sword and in exchange you can have mine- my sword was forged by an excellent craftsman from my family who put all their blood and soul into it. It certainly won't be inferior to your family's treasure sword."
You watch Chang Yijun takes out a long sword with a red hilt. You estimate that it's slightly higher in quality than your guandao. After unsheathing it he grabs for the sword at Hu Chi's waist. In response Hu Chi dodges back before pulling unsheathing a sharp, glimmering sword. It's clearly a step higher in quality than the other person's sword, which makes the situation obvious. Chang Yijun is trying to use his influence to steal away Hu Chi's sword. This is ridiculously unjust, but you're not sure if anyone is going to do anything about this. You...>step forward and try to help Hu Chi, if you talk this out you should get him to back down for now. You doubt the Butterfly Pavilion will allow Chang Yijun to do this on their property if it escalates too much after all.>ignore the situation and go to the bathroom. You'd love to intervene, but you have your own problems and are lacking in strength. You doubt Chang Yijun could permanently injure you given your insane recovery, but you probably couldn't hurt him.>take out your guandao and point it at Chang Yijun. "If you want to trade weapons, what about me?" This is a clear act of provocation, but it should shift the attention off of Hu Chi and allow you to defuse the situation more easily.>Other
>>3638031>>step forward and try to help Hu Chi, if you talk this out you should get him to back down for now. You doubt the Butterfly Pavilion will allow Chang Yijun to do this on their property if it escalates too much after all.What's the point of having strength if you don't use it justly?
>>3638031>step forward and try to help Hu Chi, if you talk this out you should get him to back down for now. You doubt the Butterfly Pavilion will allow Chang Yijun to do this on their property if it escalates too much after all.And if he doesn't listen,beat him up since we took out a vicious beast with the strength of an early blood and viscera tempering pretty easily.
You're not just going to stand by and let this happen. Of course there's some risk in getting involved, but the Butterfly Pavilion should intervene if things get serious. That's actually what you're aiming for- you may not be able to get Chang Yujin to back down yourself, but with everyone's eyes on him, he won't dare make a move.Before the incident between Hu Chi and Chang Yujin can evolve further, you approach the two. "Chang Yujin, Brother Hu simply doesn't have the authority to trade his sword away, no matter how good the weapon you're offering is. He said he can't trade it, which means he can't get approval from the Hu Family- I'm sure the sword is valuable to them after all. I'm afraid you'll have to give it up." Chang Yujin looks towards you, annoyed, and takes a couple of steps towards you. "Are you one of Hu Chi's friends? I appreciate your concern, but this matter only concerns the two of us. Leave." Well, it looks like he isn't going to back down immediately. You frown before continuing. "Chang Yujin, a no means a no. I don't mind causing an incident."Chang Yujin's look turns to a deep scowl as he approaches the two of you further. He sends out a punch towards you gut, and without the time to dodge you brace your abdominal muscles. You feel the fist heavily impact your chest and you shake slightly, spitting up from the blow. Still, you're able to stand here and take it fine. You look into Chang Yujin's eyes, not backing down, and before things can escalate further a man who's in his late teens or early 20s approaches. You didn't notice him before, and it's almost like he appeared out of nowhere. You can't sense his cultivation either, so he must have reached Meridian Opening already.
The man smiles at Chang Yujin and grabs his arm. "Brother Chang, don't you think this is a bit unseemly? You should apologize for causing an incident, right?" Chang Yujin's face pales as he sees the person, and he immediately turns towards you and Hu Chi. He begins stuttering out a fearful apology as the newcomer (and many of the surrounding people) stare at him. "I-I-I'm sorry about w-what happened. I shouldn't ha-have kept pushing the matter when Hu Chi refused. I regret resorting to violence and in-intimidation." He looks towards the person who helped you, almost like he's waiting for a signal to leave, but the man shakes his head in response. "I don't think that's sincere enough Brother Chang. Try harder." Veins appear on Chang Yujin's face, but he simply turns towards you and Hu Chi again and gets on the ground, kneeling. "I'm sincerely, sincerely sorry about my mistakes today. I was a bully and tried to coerce Hu Chi into an unfair trade for his family's treasure sword. I swear on my heart of martial arts that I'll never do such an evil act again." After a few seconds he goes to get off the ground, looking towards the man who helped you. "Almost. Slap yourself." Chang Yujin's face is smiling, but you can tell that he's infuriated right now. Still, apparently this person is enough to strike intense fear into him, as he slaps himself once across the face and leaves the Butterfly Pavilion without a word. The room is silent as at one point everyone started watching the spectacle, but after a few moments everything returns to normal. You thank the man who helped you and he says not to worry about it and leaves, and you and Hu Chi go to hang out with the people you were speaking to earlier. As you speak to them you...>continue the talk from before, small talk is the best way to build a friendship.>try to figure out exactly who that was, Chang Yujin seemed deathly afraid of him.>indirectly try to get more information about Chang Yujin, he ran away today but he might try something in the future.>Other
>>3638618>>continue the talk from before, small talk is the best way to build a friendship.
>>3638618>>continue the talk from before, small talk is the best way to build a friendship
>>3638618Care not about your enemies, focus on becoming a forest hobo cultivator.It worked till now didn't it?
>>3638618>>indirectly try to get more information about Chang Yujin, he ran away today but he might try something in the future.
>>3638618>continue the talk from before, small talk is the best way to build a friendship.We'll need a bunch of allies,Yujin wasn't that strong anyway and I doubt he would send someone else to beat us up seeing that the other guy doesn't like these kinds of things.
>>3638618>continue the talk from before, small talk is the best way to build a friendship.
>>3638618>indirectly try to get more information about Chang Yujin, he ran away today but he might try something in the future.We're probably gonna get attacked by this dumb Young Master, so let's see what he can hit us with.
You'll focus your attention away from that incident and continue trying to make small talks and friends. You're not particularly concerned about Chang Yujin coming after you given how afraid he seemed, and even if he does he's not that much stronger than you. He could beat you in a fight, but if you really needed to you could just use the necklace Zhu Chao gave you and then hide from him in a public place. He may be influential, but he's not influential enough to murder you in the middle of the city.You continue to talk for the rest of the day, and part with the others on good terms. The group you're talking to invites you out in a couple of days, but given that you'll be leaving the city either tomorrow night or the day after, you decline their offer. The few of you exchange goodbyes and tell each other to say hi if you're ever in the area, and you return to your lodgings. You may not have made powerful friends today, but now you know a couple of people in border city and a few others you can contact if you're ever in the Eastern Region of the country.You get up early the next morning, and the city is extremely busy, even moreso than in the past few days. Today is the day the refining master will be holding his test to find a disciple, and it's the reason many of the juniors here came to the city. You aren't terribly interested given that you definitely won't pass the test and you're leaving soon anyways, but you still would like to go. On the other hand, you could continue off from yesterday in the arena. After some deliberation you...>decide to join the others who are taking the refining master's test. You won't succeed, but it will broaden your horizons. Maybe you could even see a true master at work.>decide to watch some fights at the arena. You'd like to see that infamous youth continue his unassailable winstreak.>decide to have another fight or two at the arena. You were pushed to your limit in yesterday's fight, and you'd like to try that again.>OtherSorry about the lack of updates yesterday, I went to take a short nap and woke up 11 hours later.
>>3641619>decide to join the others who are taking the refining master's test. You won't succeed, but it will broaden your horizons. Maybe you could even see a true master at work.I doubt we'll learn much just by fighting stong monsters,and if we wanted to watch pros let's watch the biggest of them.
You guess you'll head over to that test and try to broaden your horizons in regards to refining. You didn't know where the test was being held beforehand, but given how large of an incident this is you have no trouble finding the location. After a short walk you reach a large mansion on the edge of the city. Several guards with a cultivation you can't sense are in front of the gate, sorting through people. Anyone who's just there to rubberneck is immediately turned away. You approach the gate and the guard asks for your name, age, and confirmation that you actually have experience with refining or blacksmithing. After some deliberation you give your real name, figuring that several people you met yesterday could be here and not wanting to draw attention to your name by changing it.You're led into a pavilion in the front yard where there are several hundred people. Some of them are well-dressed, while others are tanned and dressed in wornout clothes. A quarter of an hour passes as you take a good look at everyone. Eventually a man in a suit approaches the group and clears his throat so loudly it could drown a scream. "Refiner Long will be entering now." Everyone goes silent as an old man exits the mansion and approaches the pavilion. He's wearing simple clothes covered in grime, and a sweaty shirt is slung over his shoulder. He must have been forging something up until now. As you keep staring at him you notice that while he's clearly old, he's full of life and covered in tanned, bulging muscles.He stands there for a moment and he looks over the hundreds of excited juniors. The first thing he says immediately kills most of that excitement. "If I find out any of you are lying about being under 20 or don't have experience in refining, don't blame this old man for getting nasty. These muscles aren't just for making things- they can also break them." After that he pauses again and says "I'll give a minute for anyone who needs to leave to do so. After that the grace period is over." Refiner Long closes his eyes and you notice that dozens of people are hurridly making their way to the gate. Most of them look either older or poorer than most.When the minute is over Refiner Long glances over those who are left and continues. "That makes... 328 people left then. That's more than I'd like. I would invite you all inside, but that's too many. I'd like... 30 left at most?" Refiner Hong sighs and then turns to his servant. "Give them the written test. I wouldn't have to resort this if only those who were able came, but an event like this is certain to attract plenty of the inexperienced dreaming for a miracle. Still, this is honestly less than I expected. It looks like this old man isn't well known anymore."
The servant nods in response and takes a stack of papers out from his pocket as Refiner Hong returns to the mansion. "The test will be 10 questions. If you get a question wrong, you will be eliminated. If you forget your name, you are eliminated. If you cheat in any way, I will find out, and I will deal with you."Several more servants exit the mansion who lead everyone to separate areas throughout the yard before handing out the tests, inksticks, inkstones, and quills. After getting everything you're told that the time limit is 60 minutes, but that has to be overkill. This is only 10 questions, right? You glance at the first question and immediately realize your mistake. This is an incredibly complex question regarding purifying iron and the required purity before being used in several different alloys. You should be able to answer it correctly, but it will take at least a few minutes. You glance at the rest of the questions and... they're harder. You... you might run out of time. You immediately focus and start writing as quickly as you can think of the answers. Time passes as a blur, and during the test at least 100 people leave, knowing they won't be able to answer the questions correctly. You finish early and have about five minutes left to look over your work. Once you're done checking your answers you hear someone yell "Time!" before a servant moves to take your paper."183 people left during the test, leaving 145 tests to be graded. You're free to enjoy some refreshments, speak to each other, or wander the yard as the results are graded. As soon as one of your questions is graded as incorrect we will call out your name and you must vacate the premises." After the chief servant finishes talking he heads into the mansion, a stack of papers in hand.Well, that was stressful but you think you passed. You didn't realize just the preliminary round would be this difficult. There were probably 500 people here before that old man came out, and now there aren't even 150 left before the preliminaries are over. Anyways, you do have some free time for now. You...>look for those refreshments that were mentioned, anything he's serving can't be bad, right? An expert refiner should be rather wealthy after all.>chat with some of the other people who seem confident in their results. You'd lose a lot of face if you were kicked out during your conversation, but oh well.>look around the estate, you were just given free reign to wander the yard.>Other
>look for those refreshments that were mentioned, anything he's serving can't be bad, right? An expert refiner should be rather wealthy after all.
>>3642227>>look for those refreshments that were mentioned, anything he's serving can't be bad, right? An expert refiner should be rather wealthy after all.
The servant said there were refreshments, so you guess you'll check those out. It's a bit awkward to talk right now and you are peckish. After glancing around you see a few tables set up in the pavilion everyone initially gathered at. You approach the tables, curious what a figure like this will leave out as snacks, and are... surprised to say the least. There's water, lemonade, and what looks to be some greasy snacks bought from a food stall. You aren't particuarly offended, but this does send out a statement- Refinger Long isn't interested in wasting time or money on people without ability. You suppose he could just be cheap or like food like this, but given what happened earlier this seems like the safest assumption to make.You sit down, drinking lemonade and devouring your way through a couple of kebabs, names being called out in the background all the while. Within 15 minutes there are less than 100 people, and within half an hour this number has dwindled to below 70. In the meantime you just find a place to lie down, eat some food, and think about things while staring up at the sky. You normally don't spend downtime doing anything that can't promote your battle strength or your connections, so it's an interesting change of pace. After nearly an hour you hear a servant yell "Everyone has failed has had their name called out. The 28 people remaining may enter the foyer." That means you passed then? Well, that proves something about your ability. You're not amazingly talented, but you put quite a bit of effort towards refining- if you were knocked out that quickly, it'd be shameful.You're led into the foyer and see that it's a relatively bare room. Still, the furniture that is in the room looks nice, similar to what's in your family's estate. A chandelier filled with lamps provides lighting, and at the other end of the room you see Refiner Long sitting down, now in an expensive looking robe. You enter the room and immediately sitting down, figuring that there won't be enough space for everyone. Soon everyone is in the room (some sitting on the floor), and the chief servant goes to the center of the room.
"I will now announce the rankings among those who passed. All of you got the questions correct, but due things such as speed and how in-depth your answers are your ranks may vary. All of you are scored on a scale of 1 to 100. 1st, Hi Min, 80 points. 2nd, Kinzoku Qin, 78 points. 3rd, Ki Xinya, 71 points. 4th, Ki Cai and Hi Qinyue, 70 points." The list goes on, and, unsurprisingly, the first eight people are all members of the Five Families. You eagerly wait for your name, and you end up hearing it earlier than you expect. "12th, Liu Zhu, 58 points." Immediately after that, you're greeted by another surprise. "13th, Yu Bai, 56 points." Yu Bai is here?! You didn't notice him. You look around the room and manage to find him at the corner of the room, also throwing a glance at you. Well, at least you know someone here, even if you did only meet him yesterday.The announcements end without much adieu, the final person dropping down to 28 points, the same as his position. Refiner Long gets up when the announcements are done, gesturing for everyone to follow him. The group follows along, snaking through the mansion and eventually exiting into its backyard. He stops in front of a simple looking stone hut with no windows and a door made of iron. "This is the site of the first real test. I'll give you all a lump of metal varying based on your age- if your cultivation is too low to use it, that's your problem. Your job will be to refine it into a brick. Nothing fancy, just make me a brick. Simple, right? Now, who wants to go first?" You...>stay silent, you may as well let someone else be the sacrifice. You doubt this is as simple as it sounds.>volunteer, if you go now there'll be more time to rest between now and the next test- if you make it that far.>Other
>>3642628>>volunteer, if you go now there'll be more time to rest between now and the next test- if you make it that far.
>>3642628>stay silent, you may as well let someone else be the sacrifice. You doubt this is as simple as it sounds.There's probably a catch. Older ginger is the spiciest after all.
>>3642628>>volunteer, if you go now there'll be more time to rest between now and the next test- if you make it that far.Might as well get it out of the way. We are here to kill time, and who is to say we wont get some slack for being the first and one of the youngest. Also I'm sure he appreciates people who dont waste their time and are willing to try.
This probably isn't as simple as it looks, but there's no harm in going first- it will give you more time to rest if you pass this challenge, and he would probably appreciate it if he didn't have to waste time waiting for someone to volunteer. You step out from the group and volunteer yourself. Refiner Long nods in response before asking for your age. "14 years, 2 months." "Mmm... alright then, take this." He hands you a large, unrefined chunk of ore. You take it from him and one thing immediately strikes you- this is heavy! You'll probably need to hit this with a massive amount of force in order to smelt and shape it! Luckily you excel in that regard, but still.As you're looking at the piece of ore you hear Refiner Long continue. "You'll have a few minutes to study it. After that you have as long as you can last to turn it into a brick." Alright, you should examine it immediately then. The color, the luster, the fine particles that you can get of it- you have to use every piece of information you can to figure out what kind of ore this is. After a couple of minutes you reach your answer- this is Etrium Ore. This is a low-quality strain, but there's no mistaking it. This requires a very high temperature to properly smelt, and the force required is even more than you imagined. Someone would either need great technique or unyielding strength and endurance in order to properly shape this into a weapon at your level. While you don't excel in the former, you don't think anyone with your cultivation is stronger or has more stamina than you- you can do this.
"Are you ready?" You nod in response to Refiner Long's question, and he opens the iron door the shack and ushers you in. What you immediately notice is the heat. It's so hot you think a glass of water would boil if you brought it in here. In the center of the room is a well full of brightly burning flames, and next to it a rack full of well-maintained refiner's tools and an anvil. There's also a barrel full of water that's not boiling despite the ridiculous temperature in here. As you pause after entering, Refiner Long smiles at you. "Hot, isn't it? You'll need it to smelt the ore." That's right- the melting point of Etrium, even low-quality Etrium, is very high. It's only natural for it to be this hot. You make your way over to the anvil, grab a hammer, and begin the process of smelting the ore. You use all of the power of your body to thoroughly smash your hammer against the ore, doing all you can to remove the impurities within it. Beads of sweat begin flooding down from your forehead, burning away on their way down.Despite the high temperature of the fire, you don't think you can get all of the impurities out of the ore. Not like this. You could ask for a higher temperature, but you may not be able to last long enough to finish shaping it if you do that- it would be heavily taxing on your strength. Your other option will be to use all your stamina to beat the ore over and over and over, removing all impurities you can at this temperature. There will inevitably be some left, but the ones you can remove will be almost completely gone. You...>ask for Refiner Long to raise the temperature.>keep smelting the ore over a long period of time.>Other
>>3642840>>ask for Refiner Long to raise the temperature.Got to sacrifice for pure materials, he proply doesn't like half assed jobs.
>>3642840>>ask for Refiner Long to raise the temperature.
>>3642858We've got the stamina let us see if we have the pure will power.
>>3642833>>ask for Refiner Long to raise the temperature.
>>3642840>ask for Refiner Long to raise the temperature.
You need to ask him to raise the temperature. You're not sure if you can last that long if he does, but you should try and bank on your endurance and get this ore into as pure a state as you can. You stop hammering and look towards Refiner Long, who's staring at you from the other side of the room. "Refiner Long, I can't smelt out all the impurities from this Etrium Ore with this temperature. Could you raise it?" When Refiner Long hears your question he seems surprised and then breaks into a loud fit of laughter. "Raise the temperature? Sure kid, if you can handle it. You have balls, so best of luck- if you pass out then I'll get you."Refiner Long grabs something similar to a bellows from the corner of the room, inserts the thin end into a small hole in the bottom of the well full of fire, and then grabs a pinch of red powder from his pocket. He inserts the powder through a tiny hole on the thick end of the bellows before forcing that end down with a slam of his foot. A burst of air fuels the fire and whatever that powder was causes the flames to explode in heat, making the burning feeling all around become even worse. "Ehehe, it's toasty, just how I like it! Anyways, that should be enough for that ore." Refiner Long takes his bellows and put them back, leaving you to your work.You ignore the burning feeling surrounding you and carefully grab what's left of your ore with the tongs. You dip it into the fire, watching as it gradually becomes more molten and malleable. You need to be careful with this step. If you don't wait long enough you won't be able to remove the impurities, but if you wait too long then you'll start losing the Etrium. You closely stare at the chunk of ore within the bright flames, the hairs on your arm occassionally burning away. You clear your mind, trying not to focus on anything else: the only thing in your vision is this chunk of ore. Eventually you determine that the ore has reached the perfect temperature and immediately draw it back, placing it onto the anvil within a second. Next you grab your hammer again, roughly hammering the Etrium with all of your force. You'll need to do this a few times to make sure it's pure, and if you took it out too early you'll just have to smelt it again.Several minutes pass as your arms grow tired and your body weary. Still, that's not enough to stop you. You press on, and determine that you took the ore out at nearly the perfect time. Now you have a block of pure Etrium, meaing that you just need to quench this, shape it, and then put on the finishing touches. It will be even harder to properly shape it after making the Etrium harder through quenching, but you're making a brick here- the user doesn't need it to be flexible, so the only requirement is that it's a strong block made of metal. That means quenching is ideal, even if it's draining on your strength.
You begin quenching the metal, heating it back up to an extreme temperature while barely resisting the heat, and then submerging it in the barrel of water near the anvil. Every round of quenching requires you to hold a heavy chunk of metal and a pair of tongs for several minutes while resisting heat and steam, but this is nothing. Even if your body screams out in pain, you can do this. After three rounds of quenching the benefit from more would be minor, and more importantly you don't think you'd be able to properly shape it after one more- you wouldn't have enough strength left. You move into the final portion of making the brick, shaping it. You slowly hammer away at the now extremely hard metal, forcing it into a block. This carries on for an undetermined amount of time, the only thing existing in your mind being you, the hammer, and the brick. Eventually you break into a smile, seeing that you managed to shape the Etrium into a brick before you ran out of strength. Still, you're not done- there are finishing touches left.You grab an extremely strong piece of paper similar to sandpaper and run it along the side of the brick with all your force. This will make the exterior smooth and eliminate all the bumps that would make it hard to fit bricks together. This is necessary in refining most treasures, but it can generally be done at any time before the item is sold or used. Still, it doesn't seem like the old man is going to give you the luxury of leaving the room, resting, and then taking care of this- it's forging a brick in one go. Minutes drag on as your legs tremble and your breathing becomes ragged, but eventually the brick is smooth and shiny, to your satisfaction. You turn towards Refiner Long, exhausted but satisfied, and hold your brick up in there. "I-I'm done." Refiner Long nods in satisfaction and you exit the room, following him.Upon exiting you're greeted by the sight of the other refiners taking the test, who seem amazed upon seeing you. Refiner Long laughs at their expressions and pokes some fun at them. "What, did you all think it'd be easy? A walk in the park? There wouldn't be any meaning to it then, would there. Anyways, whoever wants to go next can, I don't have all day. Oh, by the way- if you aren't good enough then I'll eliminate you during the forging. It saves time after all."You stumble over to a tree after giving Refiner Long your brick, missing most of the strength you usually feel in your body. Your strength and endurance are your strong points, but you took them to the extreme back there. Etrium, even low-quality Etrium, is not an ore you should be able to forge like that with your level of strength. As you look towards the door of the shack you...>fall asleep, you're tired. You need to rest.>call over Yu Bai to chat and see how the others' final results are. Naturally you won't be able to tell exactly just by looking at the brick, but it will give you some hints.>Other
>>3643978>fall asleep, you're tired. You need to rest.Honestly,friends are nice and all but we both need to rest for the next challenge.
>>3643978>>fall asleep, you're tired. You need to rest.
As much as you'd like to see the results of the others, you need to rest. Your body is exhausted, and if you're to be ready for whatever comes next then you'll have to sleep. You close your eyes as your body falls against the tree, slowly sliding downwards. In what seems like a moment you're out, and then suddenly you're awake again. Your body feels refreshed, and looking around you see that around half of the people participating are gone. Did the results for this trial already finish? Did you pass?You get up and ask Yu Bai about what's going on now. He looks at you, and shakes his head, clearly exhausted. "Refiner Long is with the last person now. Those who aren't here were kicked out partway through the forging process. I barely managed to get through the forging, but I'll likely fail here." Well, it seems Refiner Long is as picky as he was with the last round of selection. Only 9% of the people here passed the written test, so you wouldn't be completely surprised if only 3 or 4 people pass this. Still, maybe he'll be more lenient now that the worst have been filtered out.After a few minutes of waiting Refiner Long exits the shack with an exhausted looking girl. "That makes the last of you. I've already come up with my results, so I'll announce them now." Everyone silently stares at Refiner Long, nervous, as he begins to announce the results. "The cutoff is 60 points. 1st, Cai Fang, 90 points." Cai Fang... he's...? You look around to find a tanned boy in simple clothes- you vaguely remember him from the last round's announcement. You think he was close to the last place. How did he score so well in this round?! Before you can process this, Refiner Long continues. "2nd, Kinzoku Qin, 83 points. 3rd, Liu Zhu, 80 points. 4th, Hi Min, 79 points." The numbers rapidly drop after the four of you, reaching the cutoff of 60 points at the 8th person. Of the eight people from the Five Families, two of are eliminated.The announcement is finished off with "14th, Yu Bai, 43 points." You feel bad for him, but on the bright side, this does mean he placed better than half of the group- they didn't even get to finish forging something. "The eight who passed can rest until just past dinner at the latest. When they decide to take the next test, they will have a time limit of one hour. This will be the final test, and the one I use to determine my direct disciple. Depending on one's showing, I may take in someone else as a normal disciple, so do your best." Refiner Long goes to leave after saying this, but suddenly stops. "Oh, and I forgot something. The eight of you passed, so you do deserve a reward. As a show of good will, you can keep your bricks. They are made of good metal after all. Maybe you can use them to beat someone sense into someone." As Refiner Long returns to his mansion the eight of you reluctantly retrieve your bricks, your tickets to the final test.
Well, you're full of energy now, so if you want you can get the final test over with now. On the other hand, everyone here is a talented refiner- this could be a good chance to exchange pointers with those more talented with you. You're aware that based solely on your skill and knowledge, you're below these people. Your great showing in the last test was mostly due to your strength and endurance. These are traits that make good refiners, but skill is just as important. You...>take this chance to speak to the others and exchange pointers, it's a good chance to learn while they recuperate.>go to take the final test, you can talk with them afterwards.>Other
>>3644825>go to take the final test, you can talk with them afterwards.They're not going to tell us anything, and I worry that Master Long will look down upon us for trying to collude with the others...
>>3644825>>go to take the final test, you can talk with them afterwards.Might as well, this is were we lose, but a brick of worthwhile metal and a bunch of people seeing were a pretty good refiner is nice. Also we are most likely going to have assassins sent after us if we do good here.
>>3644825>go to take the final test, you can talk with them afterwards.Also I agree to keeping the brick,just pulling it out of nowhere in the middle of a fight and beating the ennemy with it sounds pretty usefull.
>>3644881>tfw someone tries to stab us unawares in the back>the blade bounces off of a brick of hardened metal in our pack
>halfway done writing the update>realize I have to go to the dentist you will receive your blacksmith porn after I get my teeth cleaned
You may as well just take the test now. Given the competitive atmosphere right now it's doubtful whether you can really peacefully discuss refining with the others and be friends. Unexpectedly, as you're leaving the group to enter the mansion, Cai Fang approaches you. "Are you going to do the final test now?" You nod in response, and smiles back to you. "I'll join you then, I went right after you so I'm well-rested." The two of you head into the mansion, and a servant leads you to Refiner Long."The two of you can't give me any rest, can you? Oh well, follow me." Refiner Long leads the two of you out of the mansion and to a relatively large building on the edge of the mansion's grounds. The building is made entirely out of wood, and the inside is separated into two rooms. The main room has several long, metal tables with sets of tools scattered about. A smaller sideroom has piles of metal ingots, ores, spare tools, and both finished and unfinished armor and weapons. "This is where you'll take the second test. Here I have two identical rings. You'll have five minutes to examine them, and then you'll have to engrave as much of the pattern on them as you can into two normal, bland rings."Refiner Long takes two golden looking rings out of his pocket and hands one to each of you. Once again, your first impression is that this is heavy. Not only will this require precision, but you'll need to put quite a bit of strength into your carving if the other rings are made out of the same metal. You look at the ring closely and see that hundreds of complex, thin lines and shapes are spread across its surface. There's now way you could do all of this even if you had several hours, but you'll do your best. You determine which section to start from and begin familiarizing yourself with it. Five minutes later Refiner Long says to start and gestures at stools in front of the tables. "I'll be back in an hour." Refiner Long leaves the room after saying this, leaving the two of you to your struggles.
You gather a few burins from around the table and a tool for stippling and get to work. You slowly carve thin, intricate lines into the surface of the ring by applying massive amounts of force into the burin. This is an extremely delicate task, and you're not sure if your focus will hold out for an hour. The shapes you have to carve are extremely delicate, and a moment's distraction could cause you to error in carving them. On top of that, the amount of strength used needs to be carefully managed. If you use too much strength you could mess up the line you're carving or go too deep into the ring, but if you don't use enough then the carving will be too faint.Keeping this in mind you continue carving lines and stippling dots into the ring, keeping all of your focus on the task. As time drags on you get a headache and your focus begins to wane, but you pinch yourself, take a moment to refocus, and then resume your task. Eventually you've finished around a fifth of the carvings, and just as you're about to tackle the next portion you hear the door behind you open. "Its been an hour. Time is up." Damn, you thought you could go further. Still, this was good practice. You were able to temper your will and practice carefully using your strength. As you get up you throw a glance at Cai Fang's ring, and are surprised to say the least. The carvings are all extremely neat and nearly identical to the original ring. On top of that, he finished at least a third of them. His knowledge might be lacking based on his results from the first test, but his skill certainly isn't.Refiner Long says to be here tonight for the final results and then leaves the two of you to your business. You get ready to leave the mansion, but before you can Cai Fang approaches you. "Liu Zhu! I was about to grab lunch, do you want to go together?" Oh, he's pretty outgoing. You...>accept, he'll probably be the winner here the way things are going, and you'd like to discuss refining with him.>decline, you want to go cultivate.>decline, you want to watch some fights at the arena before you leave the city.>Other
>accept, he'll probably be the winner here the way things are going, and you'd like to discuss refining with him.
>>3645312>>accept, he'll probably be the winner here the way things are going, and you'd like to discuss refining with him.
Well, if he's the one asking you you may as well accept. You accept his offer and follow Cai Fang throughout the streets of Border City as he goes on about each shop and building in sight. "The old missus runs the fruit stall over there. Always has the best apples. Oh, that stall over there, I used to buy wood from there. Good, sturdy planks- not that termite-eaten crap. Not that I'm much of a carpenter, I've just made a few pieces of furniture. Do you see that statue over there? Do you know who that statue is modeled after?" You let him go on until you reach your destination, a small restaurant in a sleepy corner of the city."So, I suppose you've lived in Border City for a long time?" You strike up some small talk as Cang Fai orders the food, guaranteeing you that he'll get something good- according to him, everything here is good. "Yup, all my life. I've spent a lot of time wandering these streets, talking to the people, so it's pretty dear to me. When I was a kid I always wanted to be the City Lord, but eventually I settled on just being the best blacksmith in the city. Eventually I started cultivating and that turned into becoming a refiner, leading me to where I am today. What about you?" You talk about yourself in vague strokes, not wanting to give too much information about yourself given the risk of assassination. The conversation eventually shifts to talking about refining. Cai Fang gives you more practical pointers, while you tell him about some more obscure facts regarding refining that he didn't know. You're lacking in skill while he's lacking in knowledge, so it's a good match.Your food arrives and you begin eating. The food is all simple, but it's better than you expected. It's filling as well, even though you're a cultivator. You've certainly eaten better, but not from a mortal restaurant. While eating you...>ask him why he approached you, and not someone from the Five Families. Was it really just because you were both going to take the final test at the same time?>ask him if he has any hobbies other than refining.>talk about the Northern Wastes in general, he can be considered a native so maybe he knows something.>Other
>>3645913>>ask him why he approached you, and not someone from the Five Families. Was it really just because you were both going to take the final test at the same time?
>>3645913>ask him why he approached you, and not someone from the Five Families. Was it really just because you were both going to take the final test at the same time?Might as well
>>3645913>ask him why he approached you, and not someone from the Five Families. Was it really just because you were both going to take the final test at the same time?He seems like a nice enough guy,at least now we have some connections in the northen waste.
You are enjoying this conversation, but why did Cai Fang approach you? It could simply be because you were going to take the final test at the same time, but you feel like more thought was put into it than that. "Cai Fang, why'd you approach me earlier? Wouldn't it be more beneficial to strike up a friendship with someone from the Five Families?" Cai Fang looks at you, confused for a moment, before he laughs. "I mean, I suppose it would be, but I don't understand the rich and influential very well. As a commoner, they make me a bit nervous. I approached you since your clothes weren't as expensive as the others. I may have been mistaken about you being a commoner like me, but it was a decent bet to make."Well, that makes sense. The disguise you're wearing is supposed to make you blend in, so while it doesn't look terrible, you don't look like you come from an influental family at first sight. Your curiosities answered, the two of you resume your conversation and meal. At one point you inquire as to how Cai Fang reached such a high level of cultivation at a young age when he comes from a common family, and he tells you that when he was younger he managed to come across an extremely rare plant in the forest. It almost cost him his life, but he held onto it and sold it at an auction house in Border City, earning enough money to fund his cultivation and dream to become a great refiner. The money has recently been running out, but now he can supplement it with earnings from weapons he makes so it's not a problem.After the two of you finish eating you part ways. You leave the city to cultivate, practicing your new movement technique. It's not amazing, but it will certainly help you offset your disadvantage of speed. Combined with your mastery over using the least amount of movement to dodge and your new bloodline, soon it won't be much of a shortcoming.
The sun begins to set and you return to the city and Refiner Long's mansion. The servants recognize you and usher you in, leading you to Refiner Long. He nods at you as you enter. "Good timing. The last few taking the test will be out in a few minutes." You take a seat and help yourself to some tea a servant must have prepared. Soon Refiner Long leaves the room and returns with the last three juniors. "Alright, give me a moment to examine these last rings and I'll announce the results. The overall winner will be my current direct disciple, and anyone else who I appreciate can become an in-name disciple of mine if you want. There weren't as many people as I expected, but there were more interesting talents. Maybe it's a good age for refiners in this country."Refiner Long puts down the rings after a minute and then announces the last test's results. "1st, Cai Fang, 88 points. 2nd, Kinzoku Qin, 81 points. 3rd, Hi Min, 80 points. 4th, Ki Xinya, 72 points. 5th, Ki Cai, 68 points. 6th, Hi Qinyue, 65 points. 7th, Liu Zhu, 60 points. 8th, Kinzoku Yun, 58 points. Coming in 26th, 1st, and 1st, Cai Fang will be my next direct disciple. Besides that, I need to speak to Kinzoku Qin, Hi Min, and Liu Zhu. The rest may now leave." Refiner Long clears his throat after finishing and has a servant open the door, leaving no room for anyone to refuse. You're about to get up and leave, but... wait, he said you can stay? Overall you did worse than most of the people he's having leave- why would he want you to stay here? Despite your confusion, you remain seated as the others leave."None of you succeeded in becoming my direct disciple, but I am interested in your future. Kinzoku Qin, Hi Min, both of you are good talents all-round. You may not be spectacular enough to get focus from your families, but while you remain in Border City then you're free to become a normal disciple. Liu Zhu, I'm offering the same to you. You're not at the level of skill or talent I would normally pay attention to, but your strength and endurance for your level of cultivation are far beyond the norm. These are important traits for refiners, and I'm interested in seeing what it could produce when combined with enough knowledge and skill. Becoming a normal disciple means I won't pass down my core skills or technique, but you would still receive some pointers from me. In addition, I'd allow you to use my forge and some materials. What do the three of you think about this offer?" You...>say that while you're leaving Border City for the time being, you'll accept the offer. You'll be in the Northern Wastes for a while, and it would be a waste to throw this chance away.>decline the offer, you don't plan on remaining in Border City for any extended length of time while you're in the Northern Wastes.>Other
>>3647994>say that while you're leaving Border City for the time being, you'll accept the offer. You'll be in the Northern Wastes for a while, and it would be a waste to throw this chance away.I mean,the dude is obviously pretty fucking stron and talented and we still lack knowledge,the best way to learn is with a teacher.Also we should congratulate Cai for making it.
>>3647994I know some anons wanted to pursue herbology, and I know we have a trip in a couple days, but I think this is a great opportunity. Do we have that water-infused metal from before with us?>acceptWe're on page 9 btw OP
>>3648021We can always do both,we'll see refining with teachers and do herbology by ourself.
>>3647994>>say that while you're leaving Border City for the time being, you'll accept the offer. You'll be in the Northern Wastes for a while, and it would be a waste to throw this chance away.
>>3648021We can do both, if we want to beat brother we need to clearly just be better then him. He might have a high status wife but we will be a great refiner, cultivator, and herbalist with a better personality and diligence
You should accept this offer, it's a good chance. You'll have to make time to stay in Border City during your time in the Northern Wastes, but that's not a problem if it benefits you. Both you and Kinzoku Qin accept the offer, while Hi Min says that he'll have to think about it. If you recall correctly the Hi family is quite a ways away from Border City, which is probably the reason behind his hesitation. "Alright then, from this point on Cai Fang is my direct disciple, while Kinzoku Qin and Liu Zhu are normal disciples. My full name is Long Shi, but you can just refer to me as Master Long. Liu Zhu, Kinzoku Qin is your senior. Both of you, there are around a dozen others I've taught, so if you run into them show them respect. Unless they've forgotten to take care of their juniors, in which case you have the freedom to be as rude as you'd like."After going over a few more things, Long Shi hands you a small emblem. Apparently certain forces in the Northern Wastes will recognize it, but if you ever use it to commit acts of evil or arrogance you'll no longer be his disciple. Cai Fang is given a similar, but more intricate one. The difference in designs must indicate that he's a direct disciple. At that point Refiner Long doesn't have anything left to tell you, but tells Cai Fang to meet with him in half an hour. You congratulate Cai Fang on being accepted as Master Long's direct disciple and say goodbye to Senior Apprentice Brother Kinzoku before returning to your lodgings.When you get back you see that Feng Jun is in the inn downstairs. He tells you that he managed to get a few other people in Blood and Viscera Tempering and one friend of his at Middle Meridian Opening to join the two of you in heading towards the center of the Northern Wastes. Everyone will probably take a month to get there, a good portion of that time taking on jobs, hunting beasts, and searching for herbs. If you went there yourself it would be maybe half that time or slightly less, but given the dangers at the center of the Northern Wastes you're glad for the company.In the morning your group meets at one of the city gates and you take a close look at everyone else. Most of them seem to be in their 30s or 40s, and the person in charge of the group is slightly graying. Luckily most of them are pleasant, and a couple of them say they'll make sure you don't get into any trouble. Given your age it's normal that they treat you like a kid, but you don't mind it. They realize you're a cultivator, so it's not disrespectul as much as it is jokingly worrying.Your group leaves the city and...>prepares to head through the forests until partway through the wastes, you have beasts to hunt.>take the roads, dragging a cart behind them. You have some goods to bring to villages further into the wastes.>Other>>3648021Yup, I was planning to make the new thread after we leave the city. AKA after this vote.
>>3648110>>prepares to head through the forests until partway through the wastes, you have beasts to hunt.Fuck money get swol
>>3648110>prepares to head through the forests until partway through the wastes, you have beasts to hunt.Honestly the second option seems like we're going to learn about the people of the northen waste and put our emblem to good use but we might have to kill some bandits and I don't want to stain our hands just yet.
>>3648110>>prepares to head through the forests until partway through the wastes, you have beasts to hunt.
A new thread is up>>3648291>>3648291>>3648291