"What I want are spirit beasts."
This was Hei's answer to the sect leader's question. He didn't ask for other manuals or pills or other rare resources, he simply asked for spirit beasts.
This request silenced those present who were wondering between themselves the reason behind his decision.
Beast tamers were usually martial artists with little ability in melee or weapons combat, so they relied on their spirit beasts to fight.
Even though they knew that Hei was a beast tamer as he could command a beast like the albino buffalo, after today's matches, in their eyes, he was a martial artist talented in both hand to hand combat and in using his weapon.
If rejecting the proposal to become one of the sect elders' personal disciples was in itself inconceivable, to ask for spirit beasts as compensation for it was even more absurd.
With his talent, he should have to concentrate on himself. Why he was asking for spirit beasts when he could fight perfectly alone?
But if it seemed for everyone a crazy choice to do, one that stretched the limits of believability, for Hei it wasn't so.
Thanks to the inheritance of his parents, he had techniques not inferior to that belonging to the sect and his unique method of cultivation allowed him to improve steadily.
With the spirit vein restored, he could instead grow his spirit grain and other resources to support his cultivation; he also planned to create a special facility for planting rare spirit flowers that would earn him additional points of contribution. With those, he would buy every kind of resource he needed that were pills, weapons or other valuables.
Therefore he really had no desire to ask those things. He knew he had the means to earn them for himself and he wanted to see if he really could. However, spirit beasts were another story.
Growing up in a forest accompanied by animals and spirit beasts, Hei felt more at ease in their company. Over the years, he had learned to know more about human beings and had made friends with some of them. He had also accepted Lian as a member of his family. Still, he couldn't help but find it more comforting to stay out of people's eyes.
Being with animals and spirit beasts didn't give him the same awkward feeling that he had while being with humans. He didn't like spending time only with his two sisters and his mother who were his family; he also loved spending a lot of time with the buffaloes by taking long walks with them on Shui's back. From time to time, he helped them wash and dry themselves as he did with Ye and Xing.
Therefore, he wanted to take other spirit beasts with him and make them live with him. But it wasn't just a desire to look for new companions, but it was instead the first step towards realizing the promise he had made to his mother - creating a home for spirit beasts in which their family could live peacefully.
Due to the matter with Shui and the other buffaloes, Hei had learned that not all people were friendly with such creatures. He also knew that many spirit beasts were captured and auctioned to the highest bidders.
Of course, many ended up falling into good hands and placed in a quiet and pleasant environment, where they could put their skills into use; yet many still ended up being brutally abused and died alone, forgotten by everyone.
Since he couldn't change things with his current strength, he could at least buy as many spirit beasts as possible and make them live with him. With his mother watching over the whole situation, there was no danger of them arguing with each other.
Lastly, having more spirit beasts and therefore more allies, was a preventive measure for the future. Many spirit beasts ended up victims of other spirit beasts or martial artists. If he gave them a place to grow quietly, he would have a considerable fighting force. Of course, he didn't plan to force them to fight, but he wanted at least that they could protect themselves and their home.
"Spirit beasts? Can I ask the reason for your choice?" The sect leader asked on behalf of all the other elders.
Although it would have been stupid before the tournament, it was now a more than legitimate question. Initially, they wanted to recruit him for his young age and his ability as a beast tamer, never had they ever imagined he was so brought into combat.
In their eyes, it was better if he completely forgot the path of beast tamer and concentrated only on improving his fighting skills. After all, it was inconceivable for them that someone would risk their future for some spirit beasts.
"Yes, I am extremely sure. I have no other wishes but that. But I don't want you to go and catch spirit beasts for me, I want the ones that have already been captured and are waiting to be sold at auction. I don't know how many spirit beasts are equivalent to becoming a personal disciple, so I refer to the judgment of the sect leader." that said, Hei bowed again.
With this he indirectly implicated to the sect leader and the elders that they had to buy spirit beasts with the sect's money and it had to be a reasonable quantity, based on the present and future value that meant being a personal disciple.
The other elders who understood his intentions couldn't help but creased their eyebrows.
All of them had surpassed the rank of spirit apprentice and reached the spirit soldier rank. They were at the top of the power reachable on the Rainbow Island. Only their peers had the qualifications to speak to them so, yet now Hei was speaking to them as if by equal.
His words still maintained a certain degree of respect but were more of a formality. Furthermore, his tone implied that it was in their interest not to play jokes on the matter. Not to mention that it was a request made in the eyes of many witnesses.
This was really surprising for a boy still in the second stage, and some of them wanted to ask him further questions about it; but they were stopped by the sect leader who sent them a mental message through spirit power.
The content was simple - don't ask questions about it at the moment and do as the boy said.
The third, fourth, fifth and sixth elders who weren't present at the incident last month were surprised at these words, but they did as requested while the rest, already more or less aware of the situation, remained silent.
Sighing between herself, the sect leader thought that she couldn't hide the fact there was a terrifying presence at Hei's side, and then she hastened to answer him.
"Of course a fair calculation will be made, don't worry. We will then convert your prize into a suitable amount of spirit stones, and with them we will buy as many spirit beasts at an auction. Be assured. However, it isn't possible to predict the exact value of these spirit beasts in an auction, so it is advisable that you come in person and choose yourself. Is this okay for you?"
To this, the faces of many inner members became ugly. Like any respectable sect, the Flower Sect had a remarkable heritage, and each year it would participate in the auction run by the kingdom in which they would sell the products generated during the year and buy what they needed. On those occasions, the sect leader took part, accompanied by the first and second elders, together with their personal disciples.
Even after rejecting the offer to become a personal disciple, Hei had managed to secure one of the most coveted privileges. It was also possible that something would be bought for him on that occasion depending on his inner member ranking result.
The auctions were in fact a special occasion in which objects that were normally difficult to find would be put up for sale and the only requirement to buy them was your own spirit stones' capacity. No matter which your background or your social position was, only those with the largest wallet would win.
"It's fine for me, I also prefer to be able to choose them personally," Hei said briefly.
If he went in person, he could assess more accurately than any other buyer. Although it seemed bad to have to make a selection, Hei wasn't so naive as to believe he could save all of them. Therefore, he could concentrate only on those who could present more usefulness in the realization of a habitat of their own.
With his officially started proposal, Hei again greeted the elders and was given permission to leave. Picking up his stuff on the floor, he returned to the waiting room.
The sect leader, before sending him away, sent him a mental message telling him to wait there after everyone had gone and she would send Lian to the waiting room. When the audience left, he would be accompanied by a team of guards from the regulation division who would take him to his home.
Hei accepted the proposal more than pleasantly as he had attracted a lot of attention during the tournament. It was likely that he would be surrounded by the amount of people present. It was better to go quietly later.
Originally, the sect leader intended to accompany them in person, but after today's events, she had some things to discuss with other elders about the future of the sect.
Now that Hei's combat potential was established, they had to decide how best to use it but taking care not to overdo their impositions.
Shortly after Hei had arrived in the waiting room, Lian went inside and stopped in front of Hei not knowing what to do. Hei beckoned her to sit beside him as he asked the guards to leave them alone.
Since they had been ordered only to accompany them home, they did as he had asked and left the two youths with some privacy.
At that point, Ye and Xing came out of Lian's clothes. For some strange reason they had lurked on her bosom and they hadn't moved from there. His mother was still on Lian's head and she came out gracefully, returning to Hei's head again.
'You fought well today, my son.'
'Yes, you were very good, big brother.' (Xing)
'If I were you I would have given further blows to those ugly guys.' (Ye)
Even Lian, without saying a word, expressed her compliments by moving her head slightly up and down as if she wanted to agree with had been already said.
"Thanks to all of you, but I could have done better. Especially the second match, I let myself get carried away. I risked consuming all my energy and compromising the third match," Hei said disconsolately.
It was true. In the second match of the final phase, he had lost his temper. If he hadn't maintained a touch of lucidity as he did, the consequences would have been very serious. Not only about the tournament but its very permanence in the sect.
They had come a long way to get here and have a quiet place to reside. And instead he had risked ruining everything.
Seeing her disconsolate son, Bao Bei tried to cheer him up.
'It's true, you exaggerated in the second match. But it's not something you have to distress about. Everyone makes mistakes, it's the natural course of events. However, the real question lies in whether you are aware of this mistake and how you intend to remedy in the future. Furthermore you managed to contain yourself and nothing serious happened.'
Indeed, the worst hadn't happened and the punishment received from Hei wasn't so bad for them.
'Lastly, I'm not angry at all for your mistake. I know why you did it and I thank you my little one.' Bao Bei thanked affectionately while she gently scratched Hei's head.
Hei, cheered up by his mother's words, took courage and smiled. His mother was right, the important thing was to understand how not to make that mistake in the future.
While he was talking to his mother, Ye and Xing had completely come out of Lian's clothes and went to explore the room. Unfortunately, there was nothing interesting there. Because they had to wait for an indefinite period of time, they began to get bored quickly.
"How about playing a bit while we are waiting?" He proposed Hei with a smiling face.
It was actually a bit boring to wait for who knows how long inside that room where there was nothing to do.
'Yup! Let's play!' The two little spirit beasts exclaimed joyfully.
Even after all these years, they still retained their usual love for games. From the point of view of divine beasts, they were still cubs after all.
Thus, began the game of catch using all the room. Being the big brother, Hei would be the one chasing, while Ye and Xing would have to run away from him. Lian instead preferred to enjoy the scene on a quiet side of the room with Bao Bei.
Soon there were noises of fast footsteps and things hitting the ground. Caught as they were in their game, they paid no attention to the objects in the room. The various chairs prepared for the participants, were being dropped one by one without leaving one intact.
The guards were alerted by the noise and entered, but seeing the sight of a boy chasing a small spider and a small snake, they decided not to intervene. From today's performance, besides the fact that Hei was a talented individual, they were sure that he was also very strange. Obviously, Hei didn't care at all; they could think anything for what he cared about.
But when they had been playing for a while now, the three were interrupted by their mother who had them gathered around her to make them rest a little.
'Hei, there's another thing I didn't tell you before. Even if I don't want you to sacrifice yourself, I can't help but be proud of your decision.' Bao Bei proudly stated.
'Rest assured mother, this won't slow me down in my training.' Hei assured her with a broad smile on his face.
'In any case, I have to say that it happens right on time. It looks like we'll have a new companion today.'
At those words, Bao Bei resumed her 1 meter size and took a small egg out of her dimensional pocket. This was the egg recovered by Hei while he attacked the merchant's residence who kept Lian imprisoned along with Shui and the other buffaloes.
In the egg, it could be clearly seen signs of rippling, a sign that it was now close to opening.
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