Bai Qi was stuck back at sorting beads.
This time, however, it wasn't so bad for him, sorting had become somewhat instinctive. Just taking the beads in his hand, he could tell what type it was in a split second. He had become much more sensitive to the unique auras of each bead and could tell them apart without having to expend too much effort.
He started to fly through the beads, taking a few at a time and throwing them into their respective basket. He was finally making a dent, as the level of the beads were slowly going down.
Meanwhile, Elder Mu and Elder Xing watched on from their lounge, as they chatted about the daily upkeep of the mage sect.
With each passing day, the tension between them grew, Invisible sparks started to fly, as Elder Mu started to feel a big headache coming on.
Edler Mu started to sweat a bit from the buildup, though he seemed a bit embarrassed, glancing at the counter for Bai Qi's beads from time to time.
After a while of tension building up, Elder Mu couldn't take it anymore.
"Say, Xing, you didn't really mean to hold me to the bet did you?"
"What bet," Elder Xing asked innocently. "I've placed so many with you."
Elder Mu grimaced. "It's only been ten days Xing."
"Since Bai Qi appeared," Xing asked, grinning as he pretended to not know what Elder Mu was talking about. "Why yes, it has, 10 short days. They passed by so quickly. Must be our age, eh, time flies by. Whoosh, another week gone."
"He's already reached the halfway point, and he hasn't eaten breakfast yet."
"Mhmm," Elder Xing nodded, still pretending to be oblivious. "150k beads sorted, perfectly, in less than two weeks. It makes you wonder, doesn't it? Youngsters."
"Enough with the charade, Xing. You don't really mean to clean me out, do you?"
"Of course not," Elder Xing said with a poker face. "I haven't gotten the chance to dip into your reserve savings yet."
Elder Mu scowled and looked away.
"If anything, you haven't lost the bet yet. Sure he's reached a semblance of the control required for grade 6, but he hasn't been tested yet."
"Don't jest with me," Mu replied. "He's a freak, nothing more to it."
"Glad you've come to your senses. With that being said, we need to talk to Da Lao about extending his stay. He's an extremely rare talent that needs to be nurtured in the right environment."
Elder Mu leaned forward and clasped his hands. "Da Lao is a stubborn old goat. He won't give up Bai Qi."
"He's younger than you by a wide margin, and just as strong," Xing replied.
"Pish posh. I say we steal him. Tell Da Lao there were circumstances that came up, and Bai Qi won't be able to join him."
"He's going to raze the mage sect down if he doesn't get what he wants."
"Oh, you're exaggerating."
"Mu, you know as well as I do that if Da Lao sets his target on something, he'll burn everything down around it to get it. We can't kidnap Bai Qi."
"Then trade for him. Tell Da Lao he has a constitution that we're looking for, and that he's so so in his mage powers, but we feel as if we can use that to our advantage, and we'll send over a few of our mages instead."
"He'll say that a little army training and life death experiences will make anyone a good mage and insist to get Bai Qi."
"Xing, get a bit of backbone here."
"Then you tell him that we won't hand over Bai Qi."
"I think we should just tell the truth, and that we'd like to keep Bai Qi here. A talent like him would do much better here with specialized training. If anything, let's offer a joint treaty, 6 months at a training camp, 6 months with us."
Elder Mu nodded. "Best to make a deal with the devil than to oppose it."
As they chatted away, Bai Qi got closer and closer to finishing the basket of beads.
He reached further and further inside, until, on the 12'th day, he finally reached the bottom of the basket.
And before lunch on the same day, he put the final bead into the earth basket.
"Finally," Bai Qi said in excitement. "I can finally get out of this hole."
As soon as the bead dropped into the basket, a door started to shimmer and form in front of the baskets. Out walked both Elder Xing and Elder Mu.
"Congratulations," Elder Mu said dryly. "You managed to finish a task that would have taken other people over a year in just a week."
On the other hand, Elder Xing's face was lively. "We can finally start your practical training,' he said, "now that you've built up control."
'I will be teaching you about guiding energy movement." Elder Mu said. "Xing will be teaching you about casting and other things like that."
"Energy movement?" Bai Qi asked.
"The essence of energy, the applications outside non-combat use, and general control over it. Your first class is with me, as I've already discussed with Elder Xing."
Elder Xing nodded. He waved his hand, and the basket, as well as the furniture, disappeared. A door leading to a staircase appeared. "It's time we let you out of here. I'll be taking my leave now. Mu, try not to kill Bai Qi, else Da Lao will probably get mad."
Bai Qi was stupefied. Elder Xing just grinned with a knowing smile and left.
Elder Mu motioned Bai Qi to follow him down the stairs.
Bai Qi obliged, and they left the main mage tower. Bai Qi couldn't help but gasp as he walked out of the building, as the colors popped out at him. The air smelled sweet and fresh, and the ground under him had texture, bumps, and gave away with each step he took. The breeze on his face, the warmth of the sun's rays, even the sounds of the bustling sect rushed him as if he was a prisoner who had been set free after years of solitary confinement in a dark cell.
"Yeah yeah," Elder Mu said. "Feel's great, doesn't it. The last disciple we put under that test had a seizure from leaving the tower. He was stuck in there for maybe two years before he finally finished."
"Two years?? It took him that long to finish?"
"Yeah, a normal person would break before a few months are up, and demand to be let out by refusing to sort the beads. Those that finish have to be both strong-willed and possess incredible magic control, though the training got banned because of how dangerous to one's psyche it was."
" … "
"I'm pretty sure Elder Xing wanted to use you as a guinea pig to see how he could make his training method less deadly."
" … "
They walked for an hour mostly in silence.
Slowly they walked around the entire mage sect, following the cobbled stone paths that riddled the grounds. The sect was much bigger than Bai Qi had first expected, taking up a few miles of space. He could see land much further in the distance that seemed to be part of the sect, including an area that seemed to just be open plain ground, stretching out as far as the eye could see. When he turned to ask Elder Mu how the sect could take up that much space in the middle of a city, Mu just said, 'Space compressing formations lining the entire sect.
Their walk around the inner section of the sect made a complete circle around the mage tower, ending with them walking back towards the tower, where a garden was located.
The garden was a bit on the small size when compared to the rest of the sect, though the size of the garden didn't seem to limit it in any way. Lining the garden were trees, bearing various fruits of different sizes, shapes, and colors. The cobblestone road ended and merged into a simple dirt road. A simple wooden fence lined the path, and trees of different colors leaned over, with enticing fruits hanging on the low branches. Flowers riddled the side of the roads, specks of color dancing alongside the lush green grass.
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Bai Qi walked up to a tree with light green and blue leaves, which had dark purple fruits that looked somewhat like apples. He stepped forward and touched the fruit, the skin of the fruit feeling a bit leathery.
"Don't break the skin," Elder Mu warned. "It's poisonous enough to kill Elder Xing several times over."
Bai Qi quickly took steps backward out of fear and resumed following Elder Mu, not taking any more chances. He decided that it was enough to see the beauty of the garden from a safe distance.
Eder Mu quietly walked towards a bench in the middle of the garden and sat down. He motioned Bai Qi to sit down next to him.
As of writing this right now, the novel is located at the 170'th position of the original power stones rankings, with a solid 18 power stones.
If we keep these rankings, the next chapter will drop on Tuesday, with a chapter every 2 days for a total of 6 days.
I welcome those that are on the fence to vote, as if 13 more people gave 2 power stones each, we would reach our intended target of top 100 of original novels. If 21 more people had voted by now, we would have reached our top goal, the top 200 of all novels in power stone rankings.
I will adjust rewards accordingly, so vote, every stone matters.
May the voting commence.
Best of luck.
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