After passing the exam, each of the people forming the All But In Blood Alliance headed their own way but promised to meet up two days from then to formally join the Outer Sect together: Fan Lai would go back to his clan to report the events and to free Solomon, Liang Ran went back to his homeland while everyone else also had a place to go back to or people to visit.
Even Lu Fang had matters to attend to, such as training himself, meet some people and search for his daughter.
Only Cheng Hao and Xiao Wu stayed in the grounds of the Sect, so they were also the first to notice the letters sent to them. To sum it up, it was just of formalities and informing the owner/s of the huts would have leave the wooden houses to come live in the fifth ring.
After a day of resting and cultivating, Xiao Wu and Cheng Hao woke up early (although Cheng Hao knew that neither of them truly slept much anyways) on the second day to put all their belongings in their Heaven&Earth pouches to carry them over to their new house.
“Yeah, I will definitely miss this place!” Cheng Hao threw himself on the comfy bed and happily laid down. Xiao Wu pouted and then reprimanded “I won’t! I nearly died died a few times in here, you know?”
The girl put her cosmetics in the pouch and proceeded to clean the rest of her room “Also, if you have other apprentices I don’t know of, please tell me now!”
Cheng Hao chuckled “I’m sorry for not telling you about Fu Yin and the other guys, but man, that entrance, it was so worth it! I was so cool back there, wasn’t I?”
The girl sighed and then began packing her stuff “C’mon brother, we need to leave this place soon! We have got our new home in the fifth ring!”
Cheng Hao nodded and looked at the ceiling ‘It’s all going so smoothly… Everything is just so easy, it seems like it’s going to be smooth sailing from now on…
Ok, I admit it, I just want to fight and am really bored, so I raised a death flag, ok!’
“Brother, where is your dimensional pouch?” Hearing the girl’s voice, Cheng Hao looked around and then said “It’s on that shelf, above the Qi: its mysteries and its secrets tome” “Found it, thanks bro!”
Some time passed and Cheng Hao sighed. That ceiling under which he had met new people and gained new allies would soon turn into another one, an unfamiliar ceiling, in the Outer Sect…
“Now then…” Cheng Hao gets up and pats his clothes “Time to go! Thanks for packing my things as well sis!” “Oh, please! If I hadn’t you would not have moved from that spot! You are no genius, you are just a lazy bum!”
Cheng Hao acted as if he didn’t hear and shouted “On we go! To the Outer Sect!” The two stepped out of the house and they bid a last farewell to hut #5742 before heading towards the walls.
They were in no hurry and happily looked around at the sceneries they would probably not see unless it was by chance, as there would no need to go back here!
They walked for a bit, chatting and listening to Cheng Hao’s stories, when someone called them over. “Sister Wu! Master Hao! Over here!” Fu Yin waved as he grinned happily, his blue eyes squinted and his mouth smiled from one ear to the other. He almost didn’t seem human and looked kind of like a certain anime character with whisker marks on his cheeks…
Xiao Wu still found him handsome though: he just seemed to have that kind of charm that made him beautiful no matter the situation he was in.
Behind him were also Fan Lai, Da Bing, Baba, Yan Rui, Tai Long, and pretty much everyone else from the All But In Blood Alliance except for Solomon. Fan Lai had told Cheng Hao when he had come back in the evening of the first day that he had been freed but still needed to rest for a couple of days.
“Brother Fu Yin! We are coming!” Xiao Wu grabbed Cheng Hao by the collar of the robe and dashed towards the white haired boy, dragging the young boy around like a drag. They reached the small group of nine in a flash.
“Xiao Wu, couldn’t you, by any chance, act a bit more like a woman? A woman doesn’t grab someone still in the middle of a one sided conversation with a patch of grass and drags them for tens of meters without showing any kind of effort…” Cheng Hao dodged to the side “Oh! That’s a nice blush! Good job!”
“Ahah, still as cheerful as ever!” Fan Lai approached and bowed to the two martial siblings “It is all thanks to you that we are able to stand here now! Thank you for everything, Xiao Wu and Cheng Hao. I, Fan Lai, would now formally want to invite you to join the All But In Blood Alliance!”
Both Cheng Hao and Xiao Wu frowned “Leader!” Said the girl “Did you go ahead and register yourselves without waiting for us?” The girl glared at the boy but the youth just smiled and shook his head “I did not. Apparently, someone already registered all of us. Only brother Cheng Hao was left out!”
Cheng Hao’s eyes widened before calming down and he began to ponder ‘Why would that be… It is easy to figure out how and why someone would register them, to gain a favor, as registering takes up a pretty long time. As for who, it would need to be at least an Inner Sect Elder, or… The Exam Supervisor!’
Having reached that conclusion, Cheng Hao couldn’t help but furrow his brows “But why… Why did he not register me? He either knows or does not know of my strength. If he knows, he either chose not to register me for some reason or it was a mistake. If he does not know of my strength…’
Cheng Hao lifted his head and whispered “Someone is hiding me from those Sect Elders’ eyes…”
Goldy that had been hovering a short distance away approached after hearing those words and he nodded “You’ve come to my same conclusion, I see that great minds truly do think alike… And I think we both know who and why would do this”
Cheng Hao nodded ‘It was most likely that Reverend stage cultivator, as for the reason…’ He smiled coldly It would be because he wants me all for himself ‘I don’t mind, as long as that old guy helps and protects me, I am willing to pay this kind of price!’
After coming to his conclusion, the boy shook his hands in front of him “It is no problem, no problem at all! We can just go and do it now can’t we? As for joining the alliance…” Cheng Hao eyed Xiao Wu and seeing her moving her head up and down frenetically, he also nodded “We accept!”
Fan Lai laughed “Ahaha, great! Let’s go registering you and then we will formally have you join the sect!” He turned towards the guys behind him “Let’s go!”
Fan Lai dashed towards the doors leading to the Outer Sect’s fifth ring and was soon followed by the former members of his group plus Xiao Wu and Cheng Hao.
They came to a stop by the door where an old man was sitting in a chair inside a stall, he was not wearing any set of clothes from the sect, which would put him in quite a bit of trouble if he were to do that any deeper than the fifth ring.
Still, the man’s golden eyes followed the group as he sat on the chair with his hands joined on top of the table. Behind him were clothes and keys of all sizes and shapes.
‘This scene looks awfully familiar…’ Cheng Hao lifted his head and then his complexion changed ‘It is really him!’
Xiao Wu also cried out in shock “Senior! Is this Senior, by any chance, the Elder acting as the gatekeeper of the sixth ring?”
The old man looked over and he was also surprised “Oh, those two polite children! You are so fast, to think you have actually gotten through the exam for the Outer Ring at your first try! This old man wonders what kind of cultivation you children have now. I won’t ask of course, but I am sure I would be pretty shocked”
The old man chuckled for a bit and then eyed Cheng Hao who also smiled grimly ‘Pretty words. Of course you don’t need to ask, for an expert that is currently using his Reverend Will to look at our cultivation, why should he ask for something he already knows?’
“Anyways, I guess you have come here to register yourselves and to get the sect robes as well as the keys to the huts, right?” The old man asked. Fan Lai stepped forwards and bowed “Senior-” the old man interrupted him by waving his hands in front of him.
“Ohoh, you juniors need not treat me with respect, just call me old man Lao. I am just a gatekeeper, speak your mind! It will also become easier for me that way!”
Fan Lai straightened and then asked again “Elder Lao, I have a request. We apparently have already been registered, only our little brother here needs to register, could you please take care of that? As for the sect robes, on the contrary, we need them as well.”
Elder Lao nodded as if he had expected such a situation to happen and then held up his hand “Wait a moment” before taking a few clothes of varying sizes and offering them to the youths in front of him. After they all changed their previous robes into the new ones, Cheng Hao exchanged a glance with Elder Lao.
Seeing that he needed to tell him something, Cheng Hao nodded. Seeing the child had understood his intentions, the old man asked Fan Lai “May I please have a word with this child over here, alone?”
Cheng Hao also smiled at the group “Everyone, the registration will still take a few minutes to do, so don’t wait for me, I will catch up to you soon!”
Hearing his words, Xiao Wu frowned but nodded: she was sure that Cheng Hao had his reasons to do that “Alright! Brothers, let’s go directly to our new hut! We will wait for big brother Hao there!” The girl turned towards the old man “Elder Lao, will it be the same as last time? With us two living together?”
The old man shook his head, leaving Xiao Wu confused. Fan Lai smiled and explained “Since we are now an Alliance, we have our own building just for our Alliance members. I already have the key” the youth turned towards Cheng Hao “Junior Hao, we will be waiting at our Alliance building. It should be pretty easy to find and easy to remember, its number is #1000. We will walk so you should have no problem catching up anyway”
Cheng Hao nodded “Don’t worry, I will try to wrap it up fast!” The group of ten all nodded and waved at him.
“See you later, cutie!”
“Yan Rui, stop flirting! Brother Hao, would you mind testing your knifes on me? You see, I’d make a pretty good targe-”
” Sigh, let’s go!”
Fan Lai interrupted Su Tan and Yan Rui and then began to walk towards the fifth ring.
They all followed him and soon vanished from sight. Cheng Hao sighed and the turned to face the old man “Elder Lao, what exactly did you want to speak to me about?”
The old man’s previous bright and cheerful face turned cold “Disciple Cheng Hao, I will ask you to do one thing. It will sound pretty strange, but if you do it, I promise that I will reward you deeply for it” old Lao looked at the boy in the eye.
The child already had an idea of what the old man would ask, it was probably related to him hiding his strength while in public. Still, he asked anyways “What is Elder’s request? If I can, junior will carry it out!”
Elder Lao smiled and then placed his fingers on top of Cheng Hao’s forehead. The boy didn’t react in time and felt something bind his cultivation down ‘Crap! He actually dares to do something like this!’
The child was about to struggle free when the bit of rationality in his head told him not to. He wouldn’t be able to react in time anyway and it would only make Elder Lao more suspicious if he could get away either way…
The child gritted his teeth as he felt a seal forming in his sea of consciousness: the old man had sealed his cultivation base!
“I am sorry for doing this so suddenly… But I must ask you one thing: do not reveal your talent. You will act as if you have only made it this far by relying on your companions. Do that, and I will owe you a great debt”
He shook his head in apology “I cannot answer your questions now. You only need to know that this concern both my interests and your well being! Don’t worry, in the future, everything will become clear. Please…” The old man bowed to the child in front of him “… Trust this old man just this once!”
Cheng Hao was a bit shocked as his cultivation regressed back into the Basic stage, Inferior stage and until he became a person whose cultivation was nonexistent: he had become a puny mortal, a piece of trash!
Cheng Hao swallowed the urge to break free of his seal and punch the man in the face but then calmed down: if someone at Elder Lao’s level of power insisted on doing something like this he must have had his reasons.
The child inhaled slowly and then exhaled “Fine. I will trust you elder” he smiled as much as he could to give the impression of a kind hearted person who would gladly put his faith into others.
Elder Lao nodded happily and then pointed to the doors “From the moment you pass those doors, you become a new person: the strength you displayed was actually all because of a forbidden medicine that allowed you to enhance your strength through horrifying methods, but you didn’t know of the aftereffects that would wipe away your cultivation. Here, eat this!”
Elder Lao offered him a pill. When he took the pill in his hand, Cheng Hao could feel that the medicinal pill was pretty strange. He lifted his head questioningly and the old man answered “This is a fake Forbidden Pill. You will call this pill the Last Piece Has Been Set, remember this name! If somebody asks you about about it, tell him that!”
“It has the same aura as a true Forbidden Pill, but has no effect whatsoever. This way, when you meet somebody that is suspicious of your story, he will just have to look in your Dantian (Note: Yes, Dantian, this is not the Core, it’s something else, see the note at the end) to find the remains of this strange aura”
Cheng Hao nodded once again and swallowed the pill: it didn’t taste of anything, it was just like drinking water. He soon felt the fake aura from the pill reaching his stomach then moving towards the Dantian and stopping there. He gasped in admiration at the old man’s methods and also cursed him in his mind.
“Now go. And remember, you are no genius. You are a piece of trash, the scum that would use his comrades to step even a bit closer to the top!” The old man nodded “Yes, you are trash! From now on, you are the worst, am I clear?”
Cheng Hao looked silently at the old man in front of him before picking up his clothes. He annoyingly said “What are you doing old man? Give me my clothes and disappear from my sight! A puny gatekeeper wishes to speak with me? Dream on!” The old man backed away at the sudden change in attitude, before smiling excitedly: this kid truly was a good actor, it even startled him!
To do this, not only would he need to know how to change his expressions and manners at will, he would have to hold great knowledge about how to speak and such… Truly, a genius!
“If it is him… We might win!”Elder Lao nodded and smiled looking at the sky above him “Let’s break free!”
The child wore his robe and headed towards the fifth ring “You wanna play a game, old man! Oh, I’ll show you how this game is played! Turning into trash? Nice game, I praise you for that, but I make the rules, not you! I will show you what human scum truly looks like!”
Author’s Note: Ok, I have introduced the Dantian (Already did in the past, however I will focus on it a bit now). While the Core is the ‘requirement’ for stepping in the Advanced stage, the Dantian is located in an area five centimeters below the navel (distance may vary according to the person) and is a pill-like object that cultivators use to refine resources.