Every year there would be tens of thousands of disciples competing for the limited amount of spots for the sect entrance. Recruitment would increase or decrease depending on the future agenda of the sect. As a sect known for choosing quality over quantity, Starfall Mountain would recruit only a small number of disciples even when they were preparing for war. This year, like the past 100 years or so, they've chosen to accept only 1000 disciples.
Starfall Mountain Sect's disciple acceptance ceremony was a simple affair. Selections would be held by minor elders over a month. The selected 1000 would don the sect colors and line up so that the core elders could choose them as disciples if they desired. Although the venue was magnificent, and many roads connected to it signifying its importance, it was a ceremony out of tradition, rather than being a grand affair.
Sitting in luxurious looking chairs, looking at the venue from above, yellow-robed elders of the Starfall Mountain were watching over the children as they lined up.
"Quality of this year's disciple is even worse than last year. If it wasn't for the Meng and Lin family children it would have been a disgrace" *Sigh*
"Elder Xiao speaks the truth. I fear the overall quality of the new generations has been getting worse over the past few decades."
All of the elders started nodding with grave faces. Everyone knew what the significance of new disciples meant to a sect.
"That little Lin brat, his talent is quite good, but his temperament needs some work. Any takers on him?"
This smiling elder was Ju Yang. He was respected by disciples but was a bit of an oddball among elders. Every year he would take a few new disciples without exception. His teaching methods were considered a bit unorthodox, but due to their effectiveness, no one would dare to say anything. Even as a cultivator, he would consider himself a teacher first.
Hearing his words, an elder with a magnificent mustache smiled. "Elder Yang, are you aiming for his fire roots? I would've thought you would aim for that little guy with the decent contrasting roots"
"Contrasting roots are interesting Elder Yan as you said. However this year I am more interested in special bloodlines. As you know I specifically didn't select any disciples with special bloodlines for the past 20 years as I have accumulated new ideas. Now I feel the time is ripe for some experiments!"
*Cough* *Cough* "Ehm, Elder Yang always have profound ideas, I'm sur…"
Elder Xiao was trying to change the subject he saw something unexpected outside. An elder has their own dignity. They seldom allow expression of surprise to appear in their faces, or allow it to affect their actions. Puzzled by the interruption other elders took a peek at what he looked at with their spiritual senses.
What they saw was the youngest elder in their sect history, and although they would never say it out loud, but also perhaps the most arrogant one, son of the current sect master, Elder De was walking towards the ceremony venue with a fast-talking grey-robed disciple while listening and occasionally nodding. Although as dignified elders they wouldn't listen in on their conversation, they could still hear surrounding disciples' conversations with their powerful spiritual senses.
"I-is that Elder De?"
"W-what is he doing with the grey robe? How could that guy offend him this much?"
"What an idiot, even if you want to seek death don't seek it from Elder De…"
"Young Mast... I mean Elder De seems to be heading somewhere?"
"The way they are headed towards is the disciple ceremony, that can't be right?"
Although everyone was trying to act like they haven't seen anything and trying to go far away as inconspicuously as they could knowing Elder De's temperament, they couldn't help but keep an eye on them. If you are being chased by a beast, you have to know where the beast is to know where to run.
Han De couldn't figure out the situation he was in. He wasn't using his spiritual sense, as he thought it would be an invasion of privacy if he listened in to others' conversations without their consent. That didn't prevent him from noticing their gaze, however. Everywhere they went, he felt the eyes of the disciples on him. Since he was trying to learn how to act like old Han De, he would occasionally try to slowly look in the direction of the stares, but whenever he did that the only thing saw was people going on about their business. He couldn't make quick enough head movements in fear of breaking his character and image.
As he was walking and listening to the grey-robed disciples increasingly fast speech, he saw an absent-minded girl walking towards them. Just as they were about to pass each other the girl raised her head and made eye contact with Han De. Being in character, Han De just faintly smiled and even more faintly nodded to her and casually moved passed her. As he was being proud of himself for handling the situation well, he caught a glimpse of the girl's expression. Her face was completely drained of blood and she looked as if she had eaten a bug.
Searching through his memory and failing to find any sort of relationship with that girl, Han De suddenly realized something. He hadn't looked in a mirror ever since he had arrived in this world! He had even sat for 6 long boring hours to cultivate, but he hadn't even looked in a mirror once to inspect his new body! He quickly found some memories about previous Yan De looking in a mirror, although he looked nice, he realized something else! He was actually Asian! Back on Earth, he would visit China town every so often since it was close to where he lived, so he didn't really find it strange to see so many people of Asian descent. Now that he thought about it, it really made sense for him to be Asian as well in this world. He thought his blood was going cold as he made another discovery.
'Shit! Although everyone looks Asian, I grew up in Pennsylvania, I was a white dude! Some of these disciples look like they are the same person! Coupled with the fact that this is a whole nother world, could it be that my aesthetic senses are skewed? Could this Han De be actually a legendary ugly face?! Everyone dotes on him, can they actually tell him he looks ugly? God! Why did I transmigrate into this guy! At least give me an average looking face #$^%$#'
Han De looked absolutely peaceful as he cursed at his luck with everything he got.
Meanwhile, just after Han De passed the unassuming girl, everyone at ground zero was holding their breath.
"Youn... Elder De doesn't look at just any passing disciple… Let alone smile…"
"Did Elder De just…"
"Brother, he did"
The girl with the pale face dazedly looked at the 5 boys making a ruckus. She quickly realized they were the infamous Tan family quintuples. They were a sticky bunch, she and her friends had suffered from their persistent behavior for a while. When 5 boys saw the girl looking at them they flinched.
"S-sister. N-no! E-elder Sister! How do you do!
"Elder sister please forgive these idiots, they are not worth your attention, I will discipline them when we get back, you don't have to worry"
"Yes, now that Elder De claimed you as his woman, you don't have to worry about being bullied or anything."
"Yes, fear not elder sister, for we have the tightest lips in the sect"
"Of course, who would seek death by angering Elder De's woman"
The Tan brothers agreed with each other with profound expressions and quickly left. Other disciples that saw this knew that the news would soon be known far and wide. A while after everyone left, the girl finally caught up to the Tan brothers' conversion meaning. Her pale blood drained face was now a deep shade of crimson as she looked towards where Han De went.
Elders inside the venue all had dark faces after inadvertently witnessing this commotion.
"Maybe we should decrease the number of disciples we take."
"Perhaps 500 would be fine for this year?"
"No, we already made the decision for 1000, if we go back we would just lose face"
"Then we can reduce it starting next year, we should bring the matter forward at the meeting"
"If it is next year then I think even 500 is too much, perhaps 250, maybe a 100…"
Elder Yan was silent, however, his liver was in pain. He saw the grey robe servant collapse after Han De enter the venue. He knew about the Han De's disposition on getting a disciple, but as he was the sect leader's only son he still had to give him face by sending an invite to him. He just ordered a low ranking servant to deliver it because he was busy with the ceremony work. Did this brat really need to get offended by that and take it out on the grey robe? Is he planning on interfering with the ceremony as well? Elder Yan started to think whether or not he should appease Han De.
Although his confidence was a little shaken, Han De decided not to take it to the heart. He convinced himself by saying he didn't have any evidence. Although previous Han De didn't seem to have any lovers, searching through his memories he couldn't really find any evidence of him being treated as ugly. Granted the guy was a cultivation maniac so there weren't a lot of interactions, but still, it was enough to keep hope.
As Han De was walking towards the lounge with his best carefree attitude, a yellow-robed middle-aged man with a mustache that Han De could only call 'wuxia mustache' stood up to greet him.
"Elder De, I didn't think you would attend the ceremony this year. Are you perhaps thinking about getting a disciple after all? Your self created Heaven Defying Tyrannical Sword is legendary, I'm sure any of these initiates would jump at the chance of becoming the first disciple of such a dashing figure!"
Han De looked relaxed on the outside. 'Who is this wuxia uncle?! Heaven Defying Tyrannical Sword is legendary?! Didn't the System say it was trash? Or is this that system trope to call everything trash where even godly arts end up as passable? I really need to test it as soon as possible after this ceremony! Wait, dashing figure? Did this wuxia mustache shit just throw some shade at me?!'
"Although this elder reached the mid Core Formation stage, this elder still needs some time to grasp more of the great Dao. Still, it is never a bad idea to check what the next generation is doing as I'm sure Elder Yan would agree"
For just a tiny sliver of a moment, Elder Yan had a look of disdain. Seemingly remembering something he quickly switched to a benign smile "You don't need to be humble yourself Elder De, you are the youngest elder in our long history, and your Sword Dao is among the strongest! But please, let us take a seat! It would be my honor to sit beside a dashing young figure like yours! Haha!"
Han De was at first gleeful inside. 'ALRIGHT! Haha! I knew reading so many Xianxia novels would come in handy someday! I can bullshit my way through with this! It works! All I have to do is to put that stupid faint smile on my face haha!'
'... What the hell? 'Dashing figure' again. What did I do to this uncle? Do you have to insult me to my face in every sentence?' Han De couldn't help but frown a little. He was thoroughly confused at the conflicting feedback he's been getting.
Elder Yan didn't miss this chance and sighed inside but ultimately ignored it. He gave him enough face, he had no idea what he was getting offended by.
According to tradition, elders that didn't have any disciples can choose one before anyone else. The highest priority goes to an elder that never had taken any disciples before. Usually, something like this wouldn't happen since many elders take disciples before they even reach the Core Formation stage. These minor elders have the lowest priority but with thousands of disciples every year it isn't hard to get one if they wanted. Han De himself was also aware of this rule and decided to abuse it as soon as he found a disciple that fit the quest criteria.
Now that all the new disciples are in place, the discussion between the elders that was interrupted before started anew.
"That kid with the scar doesn't seem that bad, he seems to have a type of Giant bloodline…"
"Oooh, I might get that, never had a Giant bloodline before"
"If you really want bloodlines you should look at that little girl with Fairy bloodline, her talent is pretty good too"
"Fairy bloodline interferes with sword-based cultivations, it wouldn't be good for Elder Yang as he favors sword Dao, her Fairy bloodline isn't thin either"
"Elder Xiao, are you looking for a disciple this year?"
"Perhaps if I could find the right one. I'm looking for a pure elemental root, but contrasting or compound ones might be acceptable but their quality must be rather high"
"Then it means you are eyeing the Meng family heir are you not?"
Elder Xiao smiled profoundly "Perhaps, we shall see…"
Listening to the conversations Han De was a little shaken. 'How are you people even telling who has what bloodline?! Do all of you have a supermarket brochure in front of you or something? Why do I not have one?'
By now, he had only spent about 8 hours in this world, 6 of them were spent in bitter cultivation, so he wasn't used to how people used their spiritual sense. Which actions were acceptable, which would offend people, he had no idea. He needed to take a look at his memories regarding this and experiment with it when alone. He thought about the quest and its requirements of 30 potential points. Remembering that, the System would surely have a status check function right? He looked at the girl that had the Fairy bloodline.
[Name: Hung An]
[Race: Human (99.4%) / Spirit Butterfly (0.6%)]
[Cultivation: Qi Condensation (2/13) (31.12%)]
[Bloodline: Minor Wood Fairy (false) - Concentration (27.5%)]
[Roots: Wood (26.1%) / Wind (14.7%)]
[Potential Points (Total: 10)]
Cannot be accepted as a disciple.