Chapter 10: “Master, you wish to accept them as disciples?”
Shocked, Zhuang Xiao Er’s jaw had dropped so much, he nearly lost it. “That that that that that……isn’t that too arrogant?”
Wen Yuan sighed and said, “Second junior-apprentice brother, aren’t you aware of the Shang Qing Immortal Sect disciples’ behaviour? Each and every one of them are very overbearing, and they never take the disciples of other sects seriously. At that time, I was also full of anger, but I didn’t dare to do anything. Hua Che’s punch really relieved my annoyance. Regardless of anything, I deeply admire him.”
Zhuang Xiao Er: “Even if you admire him, how is that useful? Is it good to offend the Shang Qing Immortal Sect? Is it easy to push around Zuo Qi’s Master? That Hua Che stabbed a hornet’s nest!”
Zhuang Xiao Er looked at Zhuang Tian and said, “Master, Hua Che offended Shang Qing, so I’m afraid he won’t have a good life in the future. Even though Shang Qing poses as a prestigious righteous sect on the surface and won’t make a big fuss over it, it’s inevitable that they would make life difficult for Hua Che in the future. If you accept him as a disciple, I’m afraid it’ll implicate the entire Ling Xiao Temple.”
“Second junior-apprentice brother, do you mean we shouldn’t take care of Hua Che anymore?” Wen Yuan’s forehead furrowed.
Zhuang Xiao Er: “It’s not that I don’t want to care about him, it’s that there’s no way we can care! Shang Qing Immortal Sect has so much power, but take a look at our Ling Xiao Temple’s situation. If something really happens, don’t talk about not being able to protect one little disciple. Even our entire sect will suffer a calamity!”
Wen Yuan replied seriously, “But if Hua Che doesn’t have a sect to depend on, wouldn’t it be easier for other people to trample him? Shang Qing Immortal Sect would be able to do whatever they want to him. After all, who would care about the life and death of a wandering cultivator?”
Zhuang Xiao Er: “Master.”
Wen Yuan: “Master!”
Zhuang Tian lay paralyzed on the rocking chair. He didn’t want to move at all.
Could this be the Will of Heaven?
Letting his imagination run wild, Zhuang Tian stared at the ceiling. From the very first day it was established, Ling Xiao Temple never had one day of splendor.
But suddenly, three people that were difficult to handle dropped down from the sky. Two had prestigious families, while the last was young and spirited, unafraid of both threats and violence.
“In addition,” Zhuang Xiao Er said, “Both Yuntian Shuijing and Feng Ming Valley are completely on another level compared to our Ling Xiao Temple. How can Master control Chu Tianyu or Mu Zhaoyao? If you’re softhearted right now, you wouldn’t be taking in three disciples, but three thunderbolts instead!”
Zhuang Xiao Er continued to say, “Besides, if Sect Leader Chu and Valley Master Mu come to find us, what could Master say?”
“Say what?” Zhuang Tian straightened his body, before continuing in an unyielding voice. “They’re my disciples. What do they want to do, steal them away?”
Zhuang Xiao Er blanked out.
Wen Yuan rejoiced. “Master, you wish to accept them as disciples?”
Zhuang Tian: “They travelled from afar to come to our Ling Xiao Peak, and also passed our examination. How could I not accept them ah? One is Yuntian’s Young Master, the other is Feng Ming’s Young Master. If I don’t even want people like them, then I really can’t differentiate good from bad!”
Zhuang Xiao Er: “Then, Hua Che……”
“He isn’t afraid of power, with the guts of a chivalrous hero and the courage of a righteous man. I really like him ah! Besides, if we let him leave, he’ll be bitterly alone with no one to depend on, with little strength and power. Such a small child going against the Shang Qing Immortal Sect, wouldn’t that be like hitting a stone with an egg? If he can come here to my Ling Xiao Temple, it means us Master and disciple have a predestined fate. I ought to shelter him, and let the entire Ling Xiao Temple be his support.”
Zhuang Tian relaxed before chuckling. “This Master doesn’t have many strong points, but I will protect my children.”
Other than Wen Yuan, Zhuang Tian’s other four disciples were all orphans he had picked up. According to when they were taken in, they were called Zhuang Xiao Er, Zhuang Xiao San, Zhuang Xiao Si, and Zhuang Xiao Wu1.
The immortal crane was called Lucky, and it was Zhuang Tian’s spiritual pet. Zhuang Tian was a spiritual beast tamer.
The apprenticeship ceremony was very simple. The teenagers only had to kneel and kowtow three times before offering Zhuang Tian a cup of tea.
Mu Rongsa strived to be the first, so he became Ling Xiao Temple’s sixth senior-apprentice brother. Chu Binghuan was next, Hua Che came after him, and Lin Yan was the last one.
Lin Yan succeeded in worshipping a sect, so he was extremely excited. Respectfully starting from Mu Rongsa, he yelled, “Sixth senior-apprentice brother, seventh senior-apprentice brother, eight senior-apprentice brother.”
Chuckling, Hua Che rubbed Lin Yan’s little head. “So obedient, ninth junior-apprentice brother.”
Then, he looked at Chu Binghuan. In their past lives, they were from the same sect. In this life, they now had the same Master. It felt as if they had gotten a bit closer.
On the first day after they worshipped the sect, the teenagers didn’t practice swordsmanship, nor did they read books and study. Instead……they cleaned.
It was because the sect had declined into a miserable state, but Zhuang Tian felt that accepting new disciples was something worth celebrating. So Zhuang Tian asked his disciples to work as one and—fix the house!
It was a walk in the park for Hua Che to get on the roof and take off the tiles. He thought, Young Master Chu lived like a prince ever since he was born. The other boy probably never did heavy manual work like this before!
Just as expected, Chu Binghuan stood below the house with an extremely complicated expression.
Seeing him like this, Hua Che had an urge to laugh. After Chu Binghuan leapt onto the roof, Hua Che took two ceramic shingles and demonstrated, “Just spread it out like this and stack them together. Do you understand now?”
Dressed in white robes, Chu Binghuan looked incomparably pure and majestic. His entire figure looked frosty and uncontaminated, as if he had withdrawn from worldly affairs, with an immortal aura floating about. He looked completely incompatible with mud or sandy soil like this.
However, Chu Binghuan listened very seriously to Hua Che’s instructions. Picking up two ceramic shingles, he copied the other boy’s actions in a strict manner, imitating his technique to the finest detail.
Although Chu Binghuan was the precious Young Master of a powerful sect, he had never been afraid of bearing hardships.
Hua Che smiled cheerfully.
On the other hand, Young Master Mu was a true, hedonistic son with rich parents. Don’t talk about doing rough labour; normally, he even had people helping him put food into his bowl when he ate, and other people helping him undress when it was time to sleep.
Right now, both his eyes had darkened with confusion. He didn’t know how to do anything, nor did he even want to learn.
On the same day, Mu Rongsa had used a spiritual seal to send a letter. Calling over all the subordinates who took care of him since young, he made them lay bricks to build the wall. Mu Rongsa himself ran around in circles to direct them all.
But the one best at all of this was actually Lin Yan. He put quicklime into a big, iron cooking pot. Adding water and boiling it, he made lime paste. Even Wen Yuan and the others had to come and ask him for instructions when they didn’t know how to do something.
Zhuang Xiao Wu: “Not bad ah, ninth junior-apprentice brother. To be so proficient in all kinds of skills.”
Lin Yan replied with a smile, “My family’s clay house breaks down a lot, and I fix it regularly.”
Sitting in the courtyard, Mu Rongsa drank tea and ate fruits. He stared at the roof and didn’t seem very satisfied. “Ceramic shingles look too unpresentable, glazed roof tiles are better! There’s nothing great about this limestone flooring either, we ought to use mutton fat jade instead!”
Hua Che, who was standing on the roof, nearly tumbled down head first. “To use mutton fat jade as flooring, you’re so extravagant ah!”
Mu Rongsa didn’t think it was a waste at all. On the contrary, he thought it was a matter of course and something expected. Turning his head, Mu Rongsa looked at Zhuang Tian and said, “Master, is our Ling Xiao Temple really poor to this extent? Even if there aren’t uniforms for the disciple, we won’t be gnawing on bread for every meal, right?”
In order to look like an orthodox righteous sect, immortal sects gave their disciples a uniform so they would all dress the same. However, Ling Xiao Temple was too poor, so they couldn’t provide them with any clothing.
Fanning himself with a banana leaf, Zhuang Tian replied with a smile. “How could that be possible? Even if we’re lacking things, we must be responsible for your stomachs. So every ten days, we’ll eat meat. Hahaha, isn’t this Master so good to you guys?”
Mu Rongsa: “……”
Hua Che: “……”
Chu Binghuan was getting more and more better at tiling the roof. Finding some time to spare, he spoke up, “In historical records, when the founder of the Ling Xiao Temple established the sect, he brought over countless treasures from the imperial palace along with the deed to farmland.”
Hua Che was extremely shocked. “Master, you squandered all of the founder’s wealth?”
“Squander wealth? What nonsense!” Slightly embarrassed, Zhuang Tian used his banana leaf to cover his face. With a helpless smile, he explained, “We indeed have farmland and its deed. However, we rented the farmland to the villagers living under the mountain, and haven’t been able to receive any rent.”
The moment he heard this, Mu Rongsa became anxious. “How could this be justified?! They’re owing us money ah!”
A large store can bully its customers, while powerful slaves can oppress their masters. When mortals became haughty, they could even bully immortal cultivators.
In a nutshell, what happened was basically—
Ling Xiao Temple rented its land out to peasant households. In their agreement, whenever they collected rent, they would also ask the villagers to send them enough food for the entire sect.
However, everyone knew what circumstances the Ling Xiao Temple was in. The first year, a few large peasant families banded together and reneged on their rent. Zhuang Tian empathized with the suffering of the common people, knowing their lives weren’t easy.
The second year they reneged on their debt, Zhuang Tian showed understanding because there had been a drought that year, so the harvest wasn’t good.
After three years, four years……the peasant households simply continued reneging on their debt and never returned it. Every year, they would be able to think up all kinds of different excuses. In any case, they just wouldn’t pay Ling Xiao Temple any money, and it wasn’t like the disciples could do anything to them.
After all, a majestic immortal righteous sect couldn’t use force to oppress the common folk, right?
Since making a fuss would be harmful to the sect’s reputation, they just let it be.
The landlord lived on the mountain in a house that had leaks, experiencing poverty and the hardships of life. Meanwhile, peasant families living under the mountain had new houses made out of bricks and tiles. They were able to eat exotic delicacies from distant locations, until each of them had big heads and fat bellies.
Hearing this, Hua Che smiled. This was truly a case where benevolent people got bullied, just like how virtuous horses got ridden ah!
But before Hua Che could do anything, Mu Rongsa became angered first. Calling over his subordinates, he immediately rushed down the mountain. Without saying anything at all, Mu Rongsa directly surrounded a few districts and set up barriers around every house. If someone didn’t want to hand over the owed money, they wouldn’t need to think about leaving their front door for the rest of their lives.
Mu Rongsa made so much movement, many villagers were frightened by him. However, since they had been sucking Ling Xiao Temple’s blood for so many years, they were absolutely unafraid of bantering or being unreasonable. Crying loudly, the villagers began shouting—saying how cultivators were making a move to hit mortals, saying how Ling Xiao Temple were taking advantage of their power to bully people.
But was Mu Rongsa a person who would be afraid of people being arrogant and despotic? He immediately stood at the entrance of the village, before yelling with momentum that could swallow the mountains and rivers:
“Do you guys know who I am? Do you know who my dad is?”
Reportedly, when Mu Rongsa reported his Feng Ming Valley’s famous name, all the peasant households had been scared silly. Afterwards, Mu Rongsa pushed a chariot filled with gold, silver, and jewels up the mountain, along with a basket full of poultry.
Hua Che was extremely satisfied. Tonight, they would have meat to eat!
At the dining table, Zhuang Xiao Er, San, Si and Wu—who hadn’t touched meat and fish in months—practically had tears dripping down their faces. They were so moved, they couldn’t even speak.
Watching his nine disciples wolf down their food, Zhuang Tian stroked his immortal crane’s feathers with satisfaction.
Living in peace while working happily, this kind of simple life was so beautiful ah!
“Little six, little seven, little eight, little nine, tell me what you guys like.” Zhuang Tian randomly gave them a nickname. He thought, as the Master of newly accepted disciples, he had to at least give them a meeting gift.
Hua Che pushed around his rice, before sincerely saying, “Walking cats and teasing dogs, eating, drinking, and being happy.”
“……” Zhuang Tian felt a bit embarrassed and awkward.
Chu Binghuan set down his bowl and chopsticks. Taking out a handkerchief, he wiped the corner of his mouth and said, “Practicing medicine to save people.”
“……” Zhuang Tian felt a little bit powerless.
Lin Yan seriously thought for a moment before saying, “Children.”
“……” Zhuang Tian felt he was on the verge of collapse.
Mu Rongsa spat out a chicken bone. Taking off his gold robes, made with natural silk, that had been stained with oil and throwing them away, he said, “Spending money!”
“……” Zhuang Tian vomited three liters of blood.
Alright then, he can’t give something to any of them.