Translator: Novel Saga Editor: Novel Saga
The purple-robed bald youth was still making a ruckus when he noticed that the echoes of the surrounding disciples had died down. He turned around to find Master Fang Shang and Jin Xiao Chai standing in front of him. He immediately closed his mouth, but he still looked resentful.
"What’s the matter? It seems that you’ve finished your assignment… as you’ve so much free time to waste in an unnecessary quarrel," Master Fang Shang spoke in a dignified tone.
"Master Fang Shang, the matter is..." Qing Feng looked helpless. He quickly arrived at Master Fang Shang’s side, and recounted the whole matter in a low voice.
It turned out that Shi Mu was the reason behind this uproar. He had started to receive preferential treatment right after he had set his foot in the stronghold. He had been assigned to an independent stone room. This had triggered a feeling of resentment and dissatisfaction among all the other Charm Magicians. The bald man’s reaction was the most intense. He had taken the lead to cause this commotion.
Master Fang Shang turned around and shot a glance at Jin Xiao Chai. But, Jin Xiao Chai had a glittering smile on her face. She seemed unconcerned about the matter.
"Qiu Ming, it seems that you have an objection to my decision. Do you think that Shi Mu doesn’t have the qualifications to occupy an independent room?" Master Fang Shang’s complexion sank as he said.
"This disciple will never dare to oppose you. But, Brother Shi has just joined our stronghold. He hasn’t even made any contribution. But, he’s still getting the best treatment. The other fellow disciples won’t say anything. But, they’re also dissatisfied," the bald youth bowed and replied in a respectful tone.
Qiu Ming was a tall youth with a thin stature. He was slightly taller than Shi Mu. He was a mediocre-looking person with no attractive features. He shot a sidelong glance at Shi Mu as he spoke. There was a hint of contempt in his eyes.
He was attired in an elaborate purple gown with embroidered work. It was the uniform of the Yin Fu Palace. This Sect was situated in the Great Huang Country.
The Yin Fu Palace wasn’t as formidable as the seven big Sects. However, it was pretty famous for its Charm Magic and Formula Magic. Therefore, it claimed to be a leading Sect in Charm Magic, and considered itself far superior to the seven big Sects in this regard. Most of the disciples of this Sect were proficient Charm Magicians.
More than thirty percent of the total disciples of this stronghold belonged to the Yin Fu Palace.
Master Fang Shang looked at the surrounding disciples. The disciples lowered their heads. But, a reluctant look could be seen on their gloomy faces.
It seemed that Shi Mu receiving an independent room right after he entered the stronghold had broken some kind of a taboo.
This made Master Fang Shang to wrinkle his eyebrows.
Suddenly, the bald youth looked at Master Fang Shang and said, "Master, I want to make a suggestion. I don’t know whether I should say it or not?"
"It’s ok. Feel free to share your views," Master Fang Shang said with an expressionless face.
"The union’s missions have become increasingly intense these days. So, it would be inappropriate to keep the independent room idle. So, I think that it would be reasonable to let the best Charm Magician take the room. We’ll never dare to say anything again if Brother Shi can convince us." The bald youth felt confident after he had received Master Fang Shang’s permission. He explained his views in a self-assured manner.
Master Fang Shang’s eyebrows gathered in a frown. There was a thoughtful expression on his face.
He could easily press down this matter by the virtue of his authority. However, it would be unfair to the other disciples. This action would bitterly disappoint them.
Master Fang Shang glanced at Jin Xiao Chai with pleading eyes. But, she only flashed a smile as if she couldn’t see through his meaningful glance.
"You’re the most proficient Charm Magician among all the Magician Apprentices of this stronghold. So, I can allow a competition between you and Shi Mu. The independent room will be allotted to the winner." Master Fang Shang’s heart sank. He secretly cursed Jin Xiao Chai in his heart, [Sly little fox]. He then announced his decision in a non-committal tone.
The bald youth beamed with exultation as he heard these words. He immediately expressed his gratitude to the Master. Then, he shot a provocative look at Shi Mu and spoke in a haughty manner, "Brother Shi, let’s have a competition of drawing paper charms."
"Well… since Senior Brother wants to compete with me… I’ll surely accompany him till the end," Shi Mu smiled and replied without any hesitation.
"Then, let’s fix the time limit of an hour. We’ll have to refine as many Body-Lifting Charms as possible in this time period. The winner will be the one who draws more number of charms. What do you say?" the bald youth said bluntly.
The surrounding disciples broke into heated discussions in low voices. Most of them looked towards Shi Mu as they waited for his response.
These people were well-aware of this situation. Qiu Ming was a renowned Magician of Wind-Style. Moreover, he had gained expertise in drawing the Body-Lifting Charms even though they were extremely difficult to make.
Feng Li also stood in the crowd. He shook his head as he looked at Shi Mu.
"Well, it’s settled then." Shi Mu acted as if he hadn’t noticed Feng Li’s gesture. He smiled and looked at the bald youth. Then, he replied with a nod.
The surrounding disciples burst into whispers as they heard Shi Mu’s reply. Many people revealed a delightful look on their faces; they seemed to be taking pleasure in other’s misfortune.
The bald youth also seemed to be in high spirits. He cupped his hands in obeisance, and expressed his gratitude to the surrounding people. There was a confident look in his eyes; as if he was already a winner.
A few people arranged a couple of stone desks. They placed all the required stuff on those desks – like a bottle of magic ink, magic brushes, charm papers, a spirit stone of wind element and a sandglass.
Then, Shi Mu and the bald youth occupied their respective desks.
"The competition begins!"
The arrogant look vanished from the bald man’s face as soon as Master Fang Shan made the announcement. He took a deep breath, and stabilized his state of mind. Then, he grasped a spirit stone in one hand, and a brush in the other. He dipped the brush in the magic ink, and started to draw characters at a steady and moderate pace.
A green charm character appeared on his paper after a while. He hadn’t made even the slightest mistake.
However, Shi Mu didn’t begin to draw the character immediately. Instead, he closed his eyes and sat quietly for some time to adjust his breathing.
He kept his eyes closed for almost a quarter-of-an-hour. Then, he slowly opened his eyes.
The surrounding audience seemed to be absorbed in a discussion; they were talking in whispering tones.
All of these people were Charm Magicians. So, they knew the importance of time. They knew that one needed a long time to draw the Body-Lifting Charm. The period of one hour was too less. But, Shi Mu had chosen to sit idle, and adjust his breathing for such a long period of time. His casual approach had made him the center of everyone’s criticism.
Ten charm characters had already appeared on the bald man’s paper by this time. He was currently drawing the eleventh character with rapt attention.
Shi Mu bore a serene expression on his face. His face was as calm as the wave-less surface of a pond. He picked up a piece of paper in a casual manner. Then, he held a brush and dipped it in the magic ink. His movements looked natural and skilled.
The surrounding people started to press down the contemptuous thoughts as they saw Shi Mu’s movements.
Shi Mu’s pupils shrank as he narrowed his eyes. However, he didn’t use the extraordinary power of his golden pupils. Instead, he instilled his spirit power in the tip of his brush.
He then lowered the brush on the paper, and gripped the spirit stone in his other hand. After that, he started to draw the first character.
The Body-Lifting Charm was a low-grade magic charm. It was considered to be the most complex low-grade wind-attribute magic charm as it consisted of several charm characters and patterns. However, Shi Mu’s facial expression looked calm. His brush moved smoothly on the paper; like a snake’s body.
Several twisted and intricate characters started to emerge on his paper. Shi Mu’s skillful movements had rendered a graceful feeling to the surrounding people. Each of his strokes was clear and steady. There was no sluggishness in his drawing.
A pale-yellow light was wrapped around the tip of his brush. The finished characters were sparkling in a miraculous manner. There wasn’t the slightest sign of unsteadiness in the flow of his magic power.
The surrounding people’s complexion was changing with each passing minute. They started to discuss in whispers.
Shi Mu completed the last character of the charm with a flick of his wrist after a while.
The completed charm on the paper radiated a faint glory. The luminescence then faded away, and the characters started to exude a vague green light.
The Body-Lifting Charm was finally completed.
Master Fang Shang’s eyes glinted in astonishment. Only a couple of minutes had passed. The bald youth had just finished one copy, and had barely started to draw the second charm by this time. He was so absorbed in his drawing that he didn’t notice that Shi Mu had also completed the first magic charm.
All the disciples were left stupefied.
But, Shi Mu’s facial expression remained unchanged; as if he wasn’t aware of the surrounding people’s reaction. He put the completed paper charm aside, and picked-up another piece of paper. Then, he started to draw again.
The exceedingly abstruse and complicated charm characters seemed to have become extremely simple to draw. They started to emerge on Shi Mu’s paper in quick succession.
The second charm took even lesser time. Now, the third charm was in progress…
The surrounding people were quiet. There were no murmuring voices in the hall anymore.
Shi Mu still had an expressionless look on his face. He looked similar to a precision machine that could easily draw complex paper charms.
Jin Xiao Chai’s expression changed as she gazed at Shi Mu’s serene facial expression; his face looked as calm as water. An incisive look appeared in her eyes.
Suddenly, she turned around and walked towards the exit of the hall; she didn’t look back even once.
Nobody noticed her sudden departure; except for Master Fang Shang. But, she had been extremely quick. She had covered a great distance just in a blink of an eye.
Master Fang Shang shook his head. Then, he stuck his gaze at Shi Mu’s movements. A gleam of astonishment started to float in his eyes once again.
He hadn’t seen a miraculous Charm Magician like Shi Mu since ages. He was himself a Star-Grade magician. So, he could see that Shi Mu’s Charm-making skills had reached a proficient level. There were only a handful of Spirit-Grade Magicians who had achieved this level.
Shi Mu put down his brush with a sparkle of green light. He then looked at the sandglass, and realized that the time was nearly over.
Five Body-Lifting Charms lay on his table. An abundant wind-attribute spirit power was infused in them. After all, they were the wind-element magic charms.
The facial expression of the surrounding people had frozen. They looked at Shi Mu as if he was a monster.
The bald youth also put down his brush on the desk. There were only three copies of Body-Lifting Charms on his table.
He nodded in satisfaction as he could draw three paper charms in the given time. His present performance had far surpassed his own expectations. He had beaten his own record by finishing three charms in an hour.
He was delighted. He knew that it was rare to find a Charm Magician of Magician Apprentice level who could complete even one charm in an hour.
He raised his head with a smile on his face. However, he was left thunderstruck.
Shi Mu’s desk was surrounded by almost all the disciples. However, only a handful of people stood by his desk; they had an embarrassed expression on their faces.
Master Fang Shang’s voice resounded. The people surrounding Shi Mu’s desk immediately stepped back.
The bald man looked at Shi Mu’s table. He saw five sparkling paper charms emitting a green light. His entire body started to shake. He couldn’t believe his eyes.
"The winner is Shi Mu. So, the independent room goes to Shi Mu. No one should raise any objection from now on." Master Fang Shang bowed to Shi Mu to express his appreciation. He then turned around and whispered something in Qing Feng’s ears. After that, he made an announcement and left the hall.
Suddenly, the surrounding people were awakened from their stupefied state. They started to praise and congratulate Shi Mu. The crowd finally dispersed after some time. And, everyone resumed their work as if nothing had happened.
They had already wasted a substantial amount of their precious time to watch the competition between Shi Mu and the bald youth.
The bald youth glared at Shi Mu with piercing eyes. His complexion looked unsightly. He then shook his sleeves, and returned to his desk.
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