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Han Lingyun cultivated diligently and followed the schedule prescribed by teacher Xian. And the effects were rapidly showing themselves.

On the mornings, he would go to the training area where some instructors always pushed the 1st years until they were dead lying on the ground.

It was always an efficient way in order to improve quickly though. Next, he would do one cultivation session. Cultivating after physical exercises was a great way to recuperate at the same time. Then lunch and classes came as a break.

For the afternoon physical session, Han Lingyun either tried familiarizing himself to the blackbird martial art, working on his endurance by running greater distances, or learning the basics of weapon wielding with some other instructors at the training grounds.

For now, his progress on the blackbird art was minimal but he didn't dally too much on the issue. He realized that the higher his cultivation advanced, the easier it was to learn the martial art. He was still at 1st stage of Body strengthening so it would be more efficient time wise to wait for his first breakthroughs.

On another note, by running a bit further each time, he realized that the sect was on a way larger area than he previously thought. He hadn't reached the living quarters of the disciples from previous years. During his exploration, he found some peaks that harbored beautiful pavilions, while others that seemed to be isolated by formations as they were permanently hidden in a dense fog.

 

There were two areas where Han Lingyun was making rapid improvements. First his physical condition. Adding the effects of cultivation, his intense physical training, with an excellent diet provided him with improvements on a day-to-day basis. It was truly satisfying to see your efforts get rewarded so quickly.

He also progressed fast in combat. Han Lingyun was always a fast learner: the instructor only needed to demonstrate once for Han Lingyun to replicate the movements accurately. This meant that his technique which was nonexistent days prior made rapid strides to catching up to disciples that already had years of martial arts training under their belts. He still mostly lost in mock combats though.

Well, that didn't come as a surprise: Han Lingyun always tried to spar with those proficient in a certain weapon or style and beat them at their own games. He found this was a great way to learn what his opponents were doing better. Beside his technique still being inferior to the specialists, he also lacked some battle sense: instinctive reactions, reflexes or movements to respond to any situation and create favorable conditions.

As of yet, Han Lingyun hadn't found any weapon he wanted to focus on. So, he learned a bit of everything. A random disciple would have never been able to accomplish that, you would need a good brain, memory and coordination to switch between that many weapons.

The downside was that even with his great learning capabilities, Han Lingyun would never master any style with this method. However, it wasn't a waste of time. His reasoning was simple, if you want to understand a weapon or a style of fist fighting to beat it, there is no better way than to learn it.

All in all, Han Lingyun made sure to have a strong foundation.

He also had gotten his revenge on Shen Lin. Well, they beat each other up to be exact, before laughing it off.

 

On this day, the two were coming back to their houses after the afternoon class to prepare for another session of physical training.

"Brother Lin, have you seen the poster on display? Next week, different instructors will be presenting their weapons during the afternoon classes." Han Lingyun pointed out.

"That's cool. I don't like weapons though; I prefer my fists. I feel like weapons are a short cut but will later on affect negatively my cultivation. It is just an external help to me; I don't want to rely on them." Shen Lin had a strong opinion on that one.

Most of the time in cultivation, it is a good idea to follow one's own heart.

"Maybe that's why you hear Instructor Dima about being one with the sword or something." Han Lingyun tried to rationalize.

"I know that it won't suit me. What about you brother Lingyun, have you not decided on a weapon yet?" Shen Lin poked one of Han Lingyun sore spots.

"Not really. I wish there was more range weapons but they are not used much." Han Lingyun grimaced.

"Probably because after the qi condensation realm, you can control objects from a certain distance." Shen Lin proposed.

"I don't know, it still not the same though. And the distance of control is still quite short at the qi condensation realm." Han Lingyun was a bit frustrated.

 

They soon arrived at the front of their little houses, were an unexpected surprise greeted Han Lingyun.

"Hello my little minor how are you doing?" Lan Ruoxi skipped to the pair.

"Hehe have fun brother Lingyun, but please don't make too much noise at night." Shen Lin waved as he entered his house.

Han Lingyun decided to ignore him. "Hi miss Lan, what brings you here?"

"Can I not visit my minor?" she pinched his cheek. "Looks like you are working hard Lingyun! You already seem bulkier."

"Hehe." Han Lingyun raised his nose to the sky.

"But guess who reached qi condensation yesterday?" Lan Ruoxi beamed.

"You did? Congratulations major Lan! But isn't that a bit fast? I thought that with grade 4, it would take another 6 months to reach that threshold." Han Lingyun remarked.

Lan Ruoxi couldn't hide her pride. "Hihi, no need to stress my little minor, new resources and opportunities throughout the year will increase your progress.

Hehe, now that I have bought my flying sword, I can traverse the sect much faster! Would you like to visit? It's custom in the shu family for the major to take their minor on a little tour of the sect once he reached qi condensation. Oh, I could bring you to the school's market road if you are interested!"

Han Lingyun was indeed very tempted. He still had some reservations though. "Are you sure you can take me on your flying sword. I mean are you confident we won't crash?"

"Aaah… yes?"Lan Ruoxi didn't seem that certain either.

"It's true that I have yet to master the control of my flying sword but don't worry, even if we crash down, I'll cushion the fall for you." She vowed with great solemnity.

Han Lingyun was going to refuse but Lan Ruoxi grabbed him and took off before he could.

 

 

In a forest of the White Tiger School, terrible sounds scared the nearby birds.

*Burp* *Buuurgh* *Burp. *

A young girl had a disapproving look:

"Come on, I know my handling can sometimes be a little hazardous, but you don't need to vomit that much to make a point, right?" She harrumphed.

A pale ghost looked back, with eyes containing nothing but terror. "Miss Lan please, no more." This was none other than Han Lingyun.

"Humph, we are not far from the market it doesn't matter anyway. Let's run the rest of the way."

"Thank you for your grace, Miss Lan, I will be eternally grateful!" Han Lingyun cried.

Lan Ruoxi shot him a glare.

 

Shortly after, the minor and major pair made it to a road bursting with activity. Stands were placed on each side of the large road with disciples eying the products as they walked past. Heated bargaining gave the whole scene a very lively atmosphere.

At the end of the road, Han Lingyun was rooted in place, amazed at the activity in stark contrast with most of the sect. Around him, disciples were coming and going, taking off on their flying treasures or landing gracefully in front of the gates, which delimitated a no-fly zone.

"Come on let's take a look, the market road has many cool things!" Lan Ruoxi pulled Han Lingyun's hand.

As the two weaved their way through the crowd. They sometimes stopped in front of stands to take a peek.

Lan Ruoxi took the role of a guide. "Everything is exchanged either by barter or using sect points called Ps. After your 1st month of acclimatation to the sect, the Elders will introduce the sect points to the 1st years, it's the only true currency here and its value doesn't change much. That's because many training grounds and resources can only be used with sect points."

Han Lingyun glanced at the stand in front of him. It was selling some talismans. Indeed, every type of talisman had a price tag in Ps.

Lan Ruoxi continued her explanation "You can find everything in those side road stands. From special parts of magic beasts, to pills, talismans, magic treasures, unknown objects and more. Most of them are of little value though, but sometimes you can find a bargain. Some of my major's friends specialize in this but I think it's mostly a waste of time. All the stand owners are disciples. Many try to sell their finds or are apprentices selling their craft. But the better ones are still sold at the official buildings. Oh and the reason there is so much activity and stands here is because Market road is the only place in the sect where disciples can directly exchange Ps between each other."

 

Shortly after, the pair noticed a stand garnering a lot of attention, with a small crowd around it so they decided to stop to see what the fuss was all about. A chubby disciple was haranguing the crowd with big movements.

"Come closer! Come closer! Here is my new batch of stones. I guarantee at least one precious crystalized herb in every batches! Last week disciple Cheng of the sword association found two rare materials: Blue Thousand Leaf herb and a drop of purple vine juice! Come try your luck for only 10 Ps. Like disciple Cheng, you might make a big profit!"

Many discussions were taking place. "That disciple Cheng? How come he came here?"

"Ah! Fatty San and his antics once again."

"Hehe why not gamble a bit, I can afford 10Ps for a little fun."

One disciple paid the fee and proceeded to take one of the bigger stones. "I've got a good hunch about this one."

The excitement was growing as all the watchers were burning to find out if this was a lucky winner. The disciple, full of expectation, used his qi to gently open the stone.

Empty. His smile vanished with his 10 Ps going down the drain.

"My turn, I feel lucky today!"

"Hehe let's make a little bet brother Sun."

Soon others wanted to join the fun, for the pleasure of disciple San. Either way, today he would be making some Ps!

Lan Ruoxi pulled Han Lingyun away. "Let's go, this is just gambling. There are many other things to see at the higher end of market road."

Han Lingyun was pensive, with new money schemes in mind. "Is gambling allowed in the sect?"

Lan Ruoxi shook her head. "Gambling houses are banned, but you can't stop disciples from betting a little. That stand might be taken down with a small fine if a disciple of the judiciary hall passes by, but there isn't much harm being done as long as the stakes remain low. However, the sect has strictly forbidden any bets on combats and duels, there have been too many abuses."

As the pair continued there walk up the road, the stands soon made way for buildings and shops.

"This is the high market."

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