Han Li faintly smiled when he heard Kui Huan and calmly said, “The only thing that we have together is a business interest in the demon fox. What else would bring you here?”
When Kui Huan heard this, he opened his mouth but was left at a loss for words. At his side, Senior Martial Brother Wang sighed and said, “Junior Martial Brother Han is clearly an intelligent person. It is true that something has gone wrong with the Snowcloud Fox. We wished to sell the demon fox as soon as possible and headed straight to a market city when we departed. But not long after we left, I grew somewhat ill at ease and had Junior Martial Brother Kui open the bag to let me examine the fox. As a result...”
With that said, Senior Martial Brother Wang paused, revealing a strange expression.
Vexed, Kui Huan hurriedly finished for him, “As a result, we discovered that the demon fox had somehow managed to escape without a trace. It was truly inconceivable.”
“It disappeared without a trace?” Han Li frowned as if he was wondering about the truth behind those words.
When Senior Martial Brother Wang saw Han Li’s expression, he inwardly cursed without end.
Although Han Li’s cultivation wasn't high, he was skilled in talisman refinement and possessed a powerful magic tool. With that in mind, Senior Martial Brother Wang had planned on properly forming a relationship with him. However, he didn't anticipate such an embarrassing affair to occur before he could formally establish a friendship.
It would be fine if he were wealthy. He’d be able to easily solve this by just using his own spirit stones and leave a good impression with Han Li. But as it so happened, he along with his fellow group members were lacking spirit stones making it extremely difficult to win Han Li over.
With that thought, Senior Martial Brother Wang forcefully mustered himself out of his dejection saying, “I know that this matter is hard to believe, but it really did happen. Regardless of how it’s said, Junior Martial Brother did personally hand over the demon fox to us, but now I must take responsibility for its disappearance. I’ve already sent my Junior Martial Brothers to sell off the Huangjing to repay the spirit stones we borrowed from you, and we’ll have that for you soon. As for Junior Martial Brother’s rightful share of spirit stones, we will make up for it as soon as we can.”
Just as soon as Kui Huan heard this, his expression changed and he nervously said, “Senior Martial Brother, that is no small sum of spirit stones. Even if we were to pool together all we have, it would take at least three years to gather together that many spirit stones. It will slow down our cultivation if we cannot purchase any medicine pills during that time.”
Senior Martial Brother Wang shook his head and was about to say something when Han Li interrupted him with a smile, “There is no need for Senior Martial Brother to be like this! I believe you. The Snowcloud Fox was rather proficient in movement techniques so it’s no surprise that it was able to escape from the leather bag magic tool. I had originally thought to give a word of warning to Brother Kui, but at the time I found it to be somewhat inappropriate and stayed quiet. As for my share of the spirit stones, let’s just drop it. It’ll be fine if you just return the spirit stones that you borrowed. With that I won’t consider myself to have suffered a loss.”
When Kui Huan heard that he didn't have to give any spirit stones, he was greatly delighted and slapped his hands together saying, “I knew that Junior Martial Brother Han was a magnanimous person. Although it was our fault, we truly don’t possess the spirit stones to compensate you. And with Junior Martial Brother’s wealth, he shouldn’t mind such a small amount too greatly. I, Kui Huan, will always look upon you as a friend.”
When Senior Martial Brother Wang heard Han Li, he revealed some hesitation. A moment later, he helplessly smiled and said, “On behalf of my Junior Martial Brothers, I accept Junior Martial Brother Han’s generosity despite our shameful display. If you ever require any assistance in the future, please don’t hesitate to find us. So long as it is possible, I will not refuse you.”
Senior Martial Brother Wang felt that while Han Li’s words were polite, he feared that Han Li harbored different thoughts entirely. As a result, he strived his hardest to choose his words carefully to leave behind the best impression possible. Having said that, he then particularly paid attention to Han Li’s expression.
However, Senior Martial Brother Wang inwardly frowned since he wasn’t able to make out any of Han Li’s emotions.
The three had a chat outside the garden, but soon the other two Qi Condensation cultivators in their party arrived with the spirit stones they had acquired from reselling the Huangjing.
Han Li received the pouch of spirit stones and casually swept his spiritual sense through it before calmly putting it away.
After seeing Han Li receive the spirit stones, Senior Martial Brother Wang suddenly recalled something and asked, “Ah, that’s right. Junior Martial Brother’s magic tool is rather impressive. Will you be taking part in the Sword Trial Assembly later this year?”
Han Li couldn’t help but reply with an odd expression, “The Sword Trial Assembly?”
“What? Does Junior Martial Brother Han not know of it?”
Not only was Senior Martial Brother Wang surprised, but the other three seemed to find this hard to believe as well.
Han Li inwardly muttered to himself and calmly replied, “Is it strange that I don’t know of it?”
Kui Huan blinked and suddenly recalled something, “Of course it is. Oh, that’s right. This is Junior Martial Brother’s first year in the sect and he was staying in the medicine garden all this time. It makes sense that you don’t know of the Sword Trial Assembly.”
When the others heard this, they glanced at one another and nodded their heads, accepting this as the truth.
Senior Martial Brother Wang wore a strange expression and said, “We were greatly shocked when we heard that Junior Martial Brother Han didn’t know about the Sword Trial Assembly. After all, it is starting soon and all disciples within the sect are talking about, even the external affair disciples. Those that wish to prove their mettle are eagerly waiting in anticipation.”
The short, stout youth glanced at Senior Martial Brother Wang with admiration and said, “With that said, the only one in our group to participate in the contest of might will be Senior Martial Brother Wang. However, it is a pity that while Senior Martial Brother may prevail against external affair disciples, he will eventually be defeated when facing inner sect disciples. But even with this, Senior Martial Brother should still receive a mid grade magic tool as a reward.”
When Han Li heard this, he wore a curious expression and said, “Oh, so it is a contest of superiority within the sect. It seems that it is quite unordinary. Could Senior Martial Brother explain a few of the finer details?”
Senior Martial Brother Wang glanced at Han Li and slowly said, “Of course. The Sword Trial Assembly is actually for showing off newly joined disciples. Regardless of one’s identity, so long as they are a newly accepted disciple that isn’t over the age of thirty, one can participate. As for you, Junior Martial Brother Han, you still appear to be in your mid twenties and you’ve just entered the sect. You happen to meet the requirements.”
Han Li rubbed his chin and slowly said, “Is that so? It seems that there aren’t many disciples that can partake in the contest.”
“Junior Martial Brother’s words hold somewhat true, but the Sword Trial Assembly actually has much to do with a sacred tree that the three sects are overseeing.”
“A sacred tree?” When Han Li heard this, he was stunned and realized that they were talking about Dreamcloud Mountain’s spirit well tree. His initially careless expression was quickly replaced with a solemn one.
Han Li seriously asked, “What does the Sword Trial Assembly have to do with the sacred tree?”
“The Sword Trial Assembly takes place several days before sacred tree starts to shed Wine Nectar. The three sects use this competition to decide who receives half of the shedded Wine Nectar, leaving the remaining half to be split between the two other sects. As a result, while this assembly can only be participated by young, new disciples, it is viewed with great importance among the three sects. If one achieves great merits in the assembly, one will attract the attention of the sect elders and acquire countless benefits.”
Senior Martial Brother Wang sighed and paused for a moment before solemnly continuing, “Of course, beside those benefits, one is also heavily rewarded at the end for how many other disciples they are able to suppress. Not only were many disciples rewarded with top grade magic tools in the past, there were also a few disciples that were rewarded with a Spirit Tempering Pill. Although this medicine pill isn’t very useful for low grade disciples, there are many Core Formation experts that are more than willing to exchange them for at least four top grade magic tools. However, this assembly has almost always been dominated by the Ancient Sword Sect, leaving our sect and the Hundred Possibilities Sect to take second and third place. However, this comes as no surprise. With their incisive magic tools and techniques, the disciples of the Ancient Sword Sect make for incredibly difficult opponents for cultivators of the same grade.”
Senior Martial Brother Wang’s final words seemed to be full of both admiration and complaints.