41 Yin-Yang Smelting Trial

Typically, it was in moments like these that jaws fell, eyes widened and overexcited crowds spiraled out of control. However, following Xinzi's entrance, the audience split into a clean two: the White Immortal sect's female disciples...and the others.

"Impressive! We White Immortal sect disciples really have a thing for scandalous entrances. Why did no one tell me that our ancestors invented audacity? If in Qi Refinement they're already this ostentatious, I dare not imagine how bold they will become in the Golden Core stage!"

"Well said! The man was here all along, but waited for the last second to show up? What is he taking us for? We should petition the elders to have him caned and imprisoned at once!" Indulging in glitter and bluster is often not a popular move with the masses—except for those that hope to emulate the lifestyle. Following Xia Hu's "riding the wind" stunt, the spectators expected a more...sober finale. Xinzi crushed that with a questionable swagger.

That said, swagger alone couldn't explain why Xinzi's male peers gnawed their teeth at the mere mention of his name. As it was often the case with men, the answer came down to a single word: ladies.

Many of the White Immortal sect's outer and inner ladies paid regular visits to Xinzi's Liberation Temple, donating their hard-earned Spirit Stones for rocking sessions of enlightenment. Naturally, the month they spent without our monk's blessed hands and divine pole left them empty, lost and in need of...raw stuffing. Yep, turns out White Immortal sect ladies like their meat raw and will not have it any other way.

On the other side of the spectrum, as the ladies lamented the seclusion of their dear Liberation Abbot, the male disciples grew increasingly more resentful—making Xinzi's image in the sect's yang circles suffer a harsh decline.

"Xinzi, I want your holy babies!" said an overzealous donor. Lines like these didn't help, further ruining Xinzi's image among the males, White Immortal sect disciple or not. They believed that with such blatant temptation greeting him daily, Xinzi was doomed to exploit some of their girls. Little did they know that he exploited them already.

"Sluts! Sluts! Starry-eyed sluts, the whole lot of them! How dare they covet my man?!" Dong Ling threw a fit. If Xia Hu's appearance only drew a small sigh of relief from her dainty lips, Xinzi's effects on the sect gals commanded her fury.

It was bad enough that Chun Xu's eyes refused to ignore her man, but now she even had to worry about the random harlots on the street. From the moment she welcomed Xinzi into her honeypot, Dong Ling treated him as her husband. Unofficial, yes, but husband all the same. Anyone that stood in the way of their inevitable wedding was guilty of homewrecking and deserved to die—a matter for another time.

Talking about Chun Xu, her eyes sparkled with an odd blend of shame and expectations. Expectations because Xinzi...oh Xinzi had never looked more attractive. Shame because she dared not look Xia Hu in the eyes. Perhaps then it was Heaven's will that he hid his face behind a mask—sparing her the agony of that undesired eye contact. Conflicting emotions blended with self-loathing to hamper the Sword Fairy's mental stability. Shutting her eyes close, Chun Xu entered meditation.

'Strange, I thought I'd cultivated a decent image over the years. Why do I receive so much animosity from the fellas? Oh well, we should probably double down on the ladies and make them put in good words for me. Yeah, that's a plan that can't go wrong.' As he pictured all the moves he could use to make his donors polish his...image, Xinzi's thoughts went wild—as they often did. In the meantime, little did our criminal cleric know that among the bamboo hat wearing monks, one observed him with scrutiny.

"Junior brother has gone rogue, and of monk only has the garb. Abbot, your nefarious influence has completely ruined our junior brother. Shame on you!" said a Clear Heart monastery senior disciple as he watched Xinzi wave at his beloved donors.

"What do you know? This is good! Very good! If Xinzi had let that half-baked bratty bitch of a swordsman steal his shine, I would be the first to beat him senseless!" Abbot Qingxin didn't mince his words, and lowered his hat so that his disciples wouldn't notice the smile stretching his lips.

"Alas! And that is why he's ruined! At least before, junior brother pretended to be a good monk. Now he candidly gangs up with women of low virtue and flaunts his harem in broad daylight! Past today, how can our Clear Heart monastery still stand as a beacon of morality?"

"Shut up! I can criticize him, but you can't!"

"I'm criticizing you!"

Meanwhile, Lord Hanxing sent Xia Hu back to the yang platform, blamed the incident on a rune malfunctioning and personally crossed out Xia Hu's name. "Look at that. The little bastard is more popular than you. Then again, that shouldn't surprise me. Yao'er is the unfortunate one in this story. Were she born at a different time, she could have had a Xinzi. Instead, she'll have to settle for...you. Hey, Yao'er, if you could go back in time and choose between Xinzi and Guang Fanghu, who would you choose?" Upon returning to the leaders' floating platform, Lord Hanxing threw his darling nephew a vicious jab.

"You're going too far!" Guang Fanghu couldn't take it any longer and leaped from his seat. As the number one sect master of Dongli, why did he still have to endure the jeers of that odious uncle? As if that wasn't enough, Guang Fanghu grew up under his clansmen's constant reminder that, character-wise, he reassembled Hanxing than his biological father—another reason why he'd gone half-mad at only 500.

The Dong clan's men and their nephews had some unusual dynamics—dynamics that made the vassal masters shake at the realization that they were hearing things that they should not. Perhaps it would have been better for them to occupy less prominent seats. All vassal masters hoped that, as usual, Zi Yao would ignore the commotion and not set off Hanxing's bomb. Alas, Zi Yao tilted her head to the right, casting a sidelong glance at her husband.

"Should I answer that?" In female vernacular, these words translated as, "Don't make me say it." A pity that Guang Fanghu was never particularly skilled at grasping the opposite gender's thoughts—to his credit, not many are.

Shocked by the mere fact that Zi Yao opened her mouth, Guang Fanghu believed that, for once he could get a compliment out of his beloved wife, and rushed to her side. "Of course A'Yao, go ahead."

"Xinzi. The 18 years old him beats the 18 years old you in all major statistical categories. Of course, I'd pick him. Now lead the event you are supposed to before it spirals into utter chaos."

The words hit like a loose chariot barreling across a packed street. Guang Fanghu staggered, nearly puking. Even Hanxing felt bad for him and shook his head to no end—wondering why he even threw the bomb in the first place. Demoralized by his ice queen's words, Guang Fanghu lowered his head and floated towards the ground. "I tried so hard and got so far, but in the end, it doesn't even matter," he thought.

Drifting down the air, Guang Fanghu stopped several meters above the gap between the yang and yin platform. The patriarch's descent stopped the incessant chatter and focus returned to the candidates' eyes. Pulling in a deep breath, Guang Fanghu suppressed his grief, replacing his dejected grimace with the authoritative look of a sect master.

"Most of you have reached the peak of Qi Refinement—that, or you're not far from it. By achieving that before your forties, you've proved that you belong to the elite of our Dongli state. I am blessed to preside over such an outstanding generation," Guang Fanghu said, using eye contact to keep the disciples' attention.

"However, the cultivation road is heartless. Without major opportunities, most of you will not exceed Pulse Condensation. Some will settle for low-end cores—becoming trash all the same. Thankfully, you are disciples of the White Immortal sect. A sect with 6,000 years of history. A sect with enough resources and opportunities to train you into a generation of powerhouses." Guang Fanghu's words stirred the White Immortal disciples' heartstrings while bashing the vassal sect and clans. Some grumbled, others clenched their fists, but none dared to cause a fuss.

Stretching out his hands, Guang Fanghu aimed at the yin and yang stele. Fiery blue and orange beams shot out, slamming into the platforms and activating the formations laid out underneath. Instantly, male and female disciples could see the world around them change as the formations altered their environment to force them into their respective smelting trials.

For the males, a volcanic world of geysering magma, scalding red mountains and stifling brimstone. For the females, a narrow pit of ice with an abysmal temperature that gnawed at the ladies' bones.

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