Chapter 15 - The Stone Tablets
"That building over there is the cafeteria for Outer Court disciples like me. The Inner Court disciples eat at a separate building." Mo Zhou explained as he guided Yuan around the Flying Sword Sect.
"Un. Un." Yuan nodded his head in excitement.
"Do you see that open area over there? That is where disciples go for lectures from Sect Elders once a week."
"That tall building is where disciples train to sharpen their sword techniques," said Mo Zhou as he pointed to the pagoda that was in the distance.
"What a unique shape for a building…" Yuan silently admired the elegant tower.
"Do you think I can go inside for a closer look?" he then asked Mo Zhou, who quickly shook his head in an apologetic manner.
"I'm sorry, Daoist Yuan, but visitors are not allowed inside any building with a ceiling…"
"Che. What a stinky place. How will you attract new disciples if you block off everything?" Yuan shook his head in pity.
"Uhh…" Mo Zhou didn't know how to refute his ignorant statement and could only smile awkwardly. Because normally, one wouldn't tour around a Sect before deciding whether they want to join or not.
"Forget it." Yuan suddenly said. "Let's continue with the tour."
Mo Zhou heaved a sigh of relief when Yuan didn't continue the topic.
"Okay, then let me show you what disciples of the Flying Sword Sect deem as the most important thing in this Sect!"
Hearing his words, Yuan instantly became curious about this place.
After walking for a few minutes, they stopped in front of three tall stone tablets sitting beside each other.
These three stone tablets were perfectly rectangular and had dozens of names engraved on it, resembling a memorial for the dead. However, unlike the other two, the middle stone tablet only had a few names on it, and they were much bigger and sharper than the rest.
"What's this? A memorial for the dead?" Yuan opened his mouth to ask without thinking.
"Wha—" Mo Zhou looked at him with a scared look. He then looked around to see if anybody was there to hear his words.
After seeing that the place was empty, Mo Zhou heaved another sigh of relief.
"Daoist Yuan, even though I am aware of your ignorance about Sects, what you'd just said had greatly offended not only me but also every disciple in this Sect!"
"What?" Yuan looked at him with a baffled expression.
"This is not a memorial for the dead but a ranking for the entire Sect! Every name on these three tablets represents a genius within the Sect, and they are all respected by the thousands of disciples in this Sect! If others besides me had heard your words, they would've jumped at you with their swords raised, as that was extremely disrespectful to the individuals that have poured their sweat and blood just to be on that ranking!"
"I-Is that right? I had no idea, but I will still apologize for my rude remarks... Sorry." Yuan said in an apologetic tone.
Seeing his sincere apology, Mo Zhou nodded with an approving smile. "It's fine. I know you didn't mean it."
He then turned to the three stone tablets again and said: "Every stone tablet except the middle one holds forty-five names, with the middle having only ten, adding up to a total of one hundred names."
"These hundred names are the names of the strongest disciples within the Flying Sword Sect— not including the Sect Elders and the Sect Leader. And every single one of them receives the Sect's full backing, allowing them to enjoy almost an unlimited amount of resources provided by the Sect. Ah... and everybody in the middle stone tablets is given the title 'Core Disciple'."
Mo Zhou's eyes sparkled with admiration as he stared at the three stone tablets, especially when his gaze met with the middle one, seemingly mesmerized.
"Every disciple in this Sect— including me— desires to have our own names engraved on the stone tablet."
Suddenly, as Mo Zhou ended his words, the last name on the third stone tablet disappeared. And a few seconds later, another name engraved itself on the very same spot.
When Mo Zhou saw this, his eyes flickered with excitement.
"Look! Someone just replaced the 100th name!"
"Eh? How did the names on the tablet change itself? Aren't they engraved into it?" Yuan was more curious about the phenomenon than the event itself.
After staring at the stone tablet for a few moments, Yuan suddenly noticed the name 'Ren Fuchen'.
He pointed to the first stone tablet and asked Mo Zhou in a curious tone: "Hey, that Ren Fuchen… is he the same as the Ren that you had offended?"
When Yuan mentioned Ren Fuchen, Mo Zhou's complexion noticeably paled.
He then nodded in a dispirited motion, confirming Yuan's curiosity.
"His name is ranked… 14th. He's the 14th strongest disciple in this place?"
Mo Zhou nodded again but even slower this time.
"What about the girl you were courting? Is she also on the ranking?"
Hearing his question, Mo Zhou silently pointed to the last name engraved on the middle stone tablet.
"Xing Aiying… ranked 10th…" Yuan then turned to look at Mo Zhou with a surprised look. "You actually courted someone that has her name on the ranking — the middle one, no less? How bold and aspiring!"
Mo Zhou could only smile bitterly at Yuan's words that were seemingly filled with admiration and praise.
"Anyway, this is pretty much all there is to see, for guests like you at least," Mo Zhou said.
"Now I have to give this Fiery Lizard monster core to senior apprentice-brother Ren…" Mo Zhou sighed in a dejected manner.
"Do you really have to give it to him? You didn't do anything wrong, so there's no reason for you to listen to his nonsense," said Yuan.
Mo Zhou shook his head and said, "You don't understand, Daoist Yuan. This is a world where the strong makes the rules and the weak obey their rules, even if such rules are unreasonable and full of nonsense."
"And I'm telling you that only an idiot would follow such rules," Yuan shrugged. "You are the one who doesn't understand here."
"A-An idiot?" Mo Zhou looked at him, who'd unknowingly called everybody in this world an idiot, with a weird expression on his face.
"How about I come with you to meet this Ren guy?" Yuan suddenly said, dumbfounding him.
"It's fine," Mo Zhou said a moment later with a bitter smile, "This is my own problem, I cannot drag you into it, especially not after all that you've done for me already."
Yuan turned silent and looked at him with a calm expression.
"Is that so? Then—"
Suddenly, a loud voice resounded from the distance.
"Hey, isn't that the kid who tried to court senior apprentice-sister Xing and ended up offending you?"
Both Yuan and Mo Zhou turned to look in the direction of the voice, and Mo Zhou's face paled the instant he saw the two handsome young men in the distance looking at him.
"S-Senior apprentice-brother Ren! Senior apprentice-brother Zhen!"
When Yuan saw how Mo Zhou's legs were shaking like jello, he knew just how fearful he was towards these two individuals.
"Mo Zhou, you bastard! How dare you make me walk to your living quarters to look for you!" The handsome young man on the right approached Mo Zhou with an angry expression, his hands grasped tightly into fists.
"Where have you been hiding? Didn't I say that today was the last day for you to bring me a monster core from a Fiery Lizard or else—?!"
"I have it! I have a Fiery Lizard monster core with me! Here you go!"
Mo Zhou pulled out a small red crystal from his robe pockets and showed it to Ren Fuchen.
'That brat really managed to obtain a Fiery Lizard monster core!' Ren Fuchen's eyes widened upon seeing the crystal. He did not think that someone as weak as Mo Zhou would have the ability to slay a powerful beast like the Fiery Lizard, yet there was its monster core in his grasp.
"How did you get it? Don't tell me you bought it?"
"It doesn't matter how I obtained it! I have gotten what you asked, so leave me alone from now on!"
"Hahahaha!" Hearing his words, Ren Fuchen burst out laughing. "You really are an idiot! You really think that I'd leave you alone just because you somehow managed to obtain the monster core? That was only an excuse for me to beat you up!"
"What?!" At this point, Mo Zhou's heart was filled with bitterness. "You promised that you'd forget about me courting senior apprentice-sister Xing if I give you the Fiery Lizard monster core!"
"Of course, I will honor my words and forget about your disgraceful act of courting senior apprentice-sister Xing. However, after you give me the Fiery Lizard, it will no longer be about that. How dare a lowly trash such as yourself have feelings for senior apprentice-sister Xing! Just your feelings are enough for you to get beaten!"
Mo Zhou trembled uncontrollably upon hearing those words. Just his love for his senior apprentice-sister Xing is enough to get beaten? Where is the justice in that? But alas, he was weak and Ren Fuchen was a Chosen — their status in this world was simply too far apart.
"Wow, what a statement!" Yuan suddenly said loudly, causing Mo Zhou's body to mysteriously stop trembling. "Beating someone up just because they love the same person as you? What a messed up personality you have there." Yuan laughed out loud, almost like he was watching a funny movie.
"And who the fuck are you? You are clearly not a disciple of this Sect, so how did you get in here?" Ren Fuchen finally noticed Yuan and Xiao Hua standing by the side.
"Who am I? I am the person who gave him that Fiery Lizard monster core," said Yuan, his expression calm.
"Daoist Yuan!" Mo Zhou looked at him with wide eyes.
"Hoh? So you are the one…" Ren Fuchen looked at Yuan with narrowed eyes.
"Why did you give him something as precious as the Fiery Lizard monster core? What did he offer in return?" he asked.
"He didn't give me anything, nor do I want anything from him. I gave him it simply because I felt like it," Yuan casually replied.
Although he didn't know who Yuan was, Ren Fuchen was wary of him. After all, what kind of normal individual would give away something as valuable as a Fiery Lizard monster core for free?
"And? What do you want?"
"I'd appreciate it if you stop bullying him," said Yuan with a smile.
"And what if I said no?" While Ren Fuchen didn't want to offend someone as mysterious as him, he wasn't afraid of him. Not only is he a Chosen but they are still inside the Flying Sword Sect, where he has protection in every direction.
"Of course, you will refuse…." Yuan turned to look at Mo Zhou and said, "I have already saved his life once, it won't be weird if I do it again, right?"
"You…" Ren Fuchen instantly frowned at his words.
"Daoist Yuan!" As for Mo Zhou, he looked at Yuan with tears in his eyes, his gaze filled with admiration, and his heart filled with gratitude.