It didn't take too long for the disciples to learn from their friends that remained what transpired.
What the new arrivals heard shook them to no end.
Apparently, the violence had escalated even further in the village during the last week. After Wei Muchen's breakthrough, his lackeys had broken limit after limit.
Most of the still neutral disciples had by now either joined a camp or stayed hidden in the woods. However, Wei Muchen's side grew more as a result of his recent dominant showing at the rankings and his breakthrough to the 3rd stage of body strengthening.
One day, that group learned that Yu Tao had been brought out of the 1st year's village by an elder to cultivate.
It was enough to launch an all-out war. This sudden and total attack of hundreds of disciples completely overwhelmed the Collective of Order. They were caught unprepared. Moreover, how could they try to arrest every other disciple? The only ones that could have stopped this whole situation, the elders, didn't appear too.
As a result, hundreds of disciples fought each other, houses were robbed and burned down, many were beaten down and badly injured.
Those that had killed, be it knowingly or by accident, had disappeared. Rumor had it that they were used as test subjects in some secret part of the sect.
Yu Tao's protector's militia had mostly crumbled. Some of its leaders had been made captive for a time before the Collective of order found the site and punished those found at the place.
The protector's members, now an outmatched minority laid low since the big fight. Nearly all the resources they had accumulated had been lost.
Now the group of Muchen supporters changed their name from 'The new fighters' to 'The new rulers'. They paraded the streets with their head high and tried to sweep the forest for other disciples.
They imposed a new rule. Pay 10 crystals every month or be beaten every day.
They had soon faced a problem though. Most of the disciples still at the village were of the same group, their own. The New Rulers thus separated themselves into different ranks of different privileges.
However, because Wei Muchen only stayed in contact with a couple of his lackeys, the group soon had some intense internal conflicts.
And now 400 disciples just came back.
Some members of the self-proclaimed 'new rulers' saw it as golden geese ready to lay eggs and cement the new rulers back. Others thought it was a collective threat.
The disciples grouped around the sword maidens, Wang Yimo and the trio. Will they present a united front against the new rulers?
"I think we have an important responsibility here. We can't cultivate with those punks bossing everyone around." Yang Haoyu stated.
"It seems that our warnings have been forgotten." Qin Mei added.
"I can't believe some went so far. It's disturbing to think back at how some harmless brothers transformed so rapidly."
"This madness can't go on. There have even been deaths!" Shen Lin agreed.
"I'll take care of it." A gentle voice interrupted the discussion.
Everyone stopped and turned towards Wang Yimo.
"I'll just beat all of them up. I won't be punished if I slip up anyway and Wei Muchen won't be able to do anything. In fact, I will take good care to break all his so called 'followers' arms and legs.
I will just need some disciples to transport those troublemakers after I passed by. Let's attach each one to a tree.
Let's hope this will reform them because I will be doing this again once every week or so to recalcitrant from now on."
The New Rulers were not ready for what was about to befall on them. Maybe they had forgotten that Wei Muchen wasn't the only 5th grade talent. Perhaps they weren't clever enough to realize that Wei Muchen never spoke about Wang Yimo because he feared her to some extent. Wei Muchen knew that she could probably take 1st place in the rankings if she wanted to and his teacher had warned him to not start a conflict with her.
Wang Yimo's teacher had a greater voice in the sect than Wei Muchen's own, and it was her that demanded to only rank Wang Yimo in 2nd on the day of the sect entrance.
That day, 2 months and 3 weeks after the 1st years entrance to the sect, would be long remembered for its absolute brutality. The cries of anguish still resonating through the village to this day.
One cute looking disciple had morphed into a vicious monster and had broken the bones of a hundred, then ordered others to tie them up to some trees.
They would be released and healed if they swore to never repeat those actions, and rebuilt the broken houses of the village. Only a handful had managed to escape into the woods with their bones still intact. Wang Yimo was still only one person after all, it was an impossible task to catch everyone of them if they focused on fleeing.
Throughout the events, Wei Muchen didn't make a single apparition.
In fact, remnants from the militia and unbridled members of the collective were not spared either.
As the sun was setting, tens of disciples were rebuilding houses, others were celebrating the end of the dark times, and Wang Yimo was starting a cultivation session.
She sat in a lotus position at the edge of the forest eyes closed. In front of her, hundreds of disciples were attached to one tree each, crying and sobbing through the pain. They didn't dare to look at the monster. She couldn't be beautiful; she was an ice or death goddess perhaps.
From afar, Liao Shao was observing this spectacle. He wanted to take a step forward but his foot was hesitating. The hand of teacher Xian stopped him in place.
"There is no need to oppose this. Remember well, when common sense and rules are not enough, only absolute strength will do the job."
Liao Shao nodded slowly; a bit dazed.
"So, teacher, are you saying that the missions of the punishment hall are useless?"
Teacher Xian shook his head. "No. You failed because you were too weak. Be stronger, be smarter and there won't be another time where you lose control."
"I understand, teacher. I will focus on cultivation even more from now on."
Teacher Xian nodded. "Do you know why we, the elders, have permitted this chaos?"
Liao Shao thought for a moment but still shook his head in the end.
"Because that's how the cultivation world works. The strong don't want to waste resources protecting the ones at the bottom of the cultivation world and everyone is preying on the weaker ones. Now work hard little one, perhaps one day you will have a say."
Liao Shao clenched his fists. "I will!"
Two days later, all disciples were summoned through their badge to the plaza. The elders even picked up some still cowering in the woods.
"From now on, playtime is over. Fights are now forbidden and the elders will be enforcing the rule. If you have a grudge with someone, you can head to the punishment hall where an elder will supervise the battle at the arena. The rules of the duel have to be discussed and accepted by both parties. Those matches won't affect rankings.
If the grudge cannot be resolved and has reached a certain point of no return, the disciples can have a life and death battle. Once again, that is only if both disciples agree. A gong will announce every life and death match.
That is all."
Some frictions still remained. After violent fights and even 7 deaths, some grudges between factions had become quite deep.
However, the 1st years village soon went back to its original state, at least in appearance. The disciples came back to their homes, and the classes regained their usual attendance. But all this felt very different for most of the 1st year disciples.
In the end, as days passed, cultivation began occupying everyone's mind once again.
This was exacerbated by a string of breakthroughs. Just two days after coming back, Qin Mei became the first 4th grade talent to reach the 3rd stage of body strengthening.
Most of the 4th grade talents would breakthrough in the following week.
Han Lingyun had broken through one day after Qin Mei. Two days prior, he had taken another trip to market road to buy the rainbow pills for the first two stages. He still remembered how he had to face Elder Guguai when purchasing the pills.
"Where did you get all those Ps?"
Han Lingyun remained stoic. He started to circulate his blackbird art to the maximum and responded calmly. "By my own means."
Elder Guguai observed him closely for a moment. Then silently pocketed the Ps and went back to his usual posture, eyes closed.
Han Lingyun had remembered that this Elder had a thing for "elites". He had to show his worth if he wanted those pills.
This 10 000 Ps loss strained his finances somewhat. He only had 3000 Ps left on his badge. The 610 Ps he had obtained collecting herbs weren't totally useless after all.
That was just Han Lingyun being Han Lingyun with his rich problems though. He was now pocketing at least 6000 Ps per week through missions. And his true net worth was higher if you remember that 10 000 of his Ps were currently blocked as mission rewards!
Anyway, Han Lingyun consumed the first rainbow pill as soon as he got back into his number 5 house. The pill had a mild effect: it melted in his mouth and felt as if someone was caressing his skin from all sides.
Han Lingyun waited to be at the point where he sensed his breakthrough coming to eat the second rainbow pill.
This one felt absolutely wonderful. Just like the description stated, he felt as if he was breathing the purest air there was. He also felt once again the caresses on his skin. For a moment, Han Lingyun felt like he just discovered what breathing truly meant and he had been blind to it all along.
Just like for his first breakthrough, the second one went without a hitch. Well, that's if you don't mention the putrid black gu that oozed of his pores once again.
Han Lingyun felt the boundless strength of the 3rd step calling him, his muscles twitching with excitement after the first qi baptism.
Making progress was probably the best feeling in the world!