Chapter 7: The Six Martial Hall (1)
Lu Qingyun had been in confinement for almost a month and Qin Keqin had not visited him since.
He was looking forward to see her again but she had not appeared since the last visit. He thought, “Is it because she had been discovered by the elders for visiting me in secret and she had been confined?”
This day, a petite protégé had suddenly opened the door to his cell and said to him, “It is time for the grand selection. I’m going to take you to the inner hall now.”
He was startled. This was the day that he had been looking eagerly to.
He quickly put away the manuals and said, “Senior Sister, I’ve read that there are six martial halls in the Heavens Ridge Villa. May I know which martial hall Celestial Qin Keqin is in?”
The petite protégé took a second glance at him and was immediately flustered. After all, Lu Qingyun was quite handsome. She replied, “Please do not call me senior sister yet. If you manage to get into one of the six martial halls then you will be a core protégé. When that happens, I have to address you as senior brother instead.” She paused ruefully, “I am just an ordinary protégé.”
Then she smiled shyly, “Hm, I do not know any Celestial Qin Keqin. Are you sure you got the name correctly?”
Lu Qingyun was stunned. This protégé did not know any Celestial Qin Keqin? How was it possible? Did Qin Keqin lie to him? But did she not say that she was the one that had asked Elder Ouyang to allow him to be a protégé of the Heavens Ridge Villa?”
The petite protégé pondered for a while before she said, “There are three Celestials that I know of. They are Celestial Shi Guanyin from the Red Heaven Sword Hall, Celestial Kong Guxin from the Green Fields Martial Hall and Celestial Bai Laoxiong from the White Spirit Hall.”
Lu Qingyun stammered, “There is really no such person?”
The petite protégé smiled weakly, “I’ve only been here for a year and is new too. Maybe she is a master that is in seclusion. Moreover, I’m only an ordinary protégé and not a core protégé. My knowledge of the sect is actually quite limited.”
This was only a small comfort to Lu Qingyun.
He had been looking forward to seeing Qin Keqin again and he was curious to know which martial halls that she had belonged to. He had wanted to join the same martial hall as her…
She was a golden celestial. How could she not be known?
He had really found this a little hard to believe.
Soon he had reached the grand hall and saw there were several hundreds that had already gathered. More than half was like him and he was told to go to the middle and wait for the grand elders to arrive.
As he joined the crowd, he bumped into a familiar face and was surprised to see that it was Tang Bufan.
Tang Bufan was equally surprised to see him, “You actually got selected?” Then he asked with a smile, “I am so surprise to see you here.”
Lu Qingyun smiled weakly. He had almost forgotten about this young master who was a Third Realm Expert. From the look of it, this young master had the highest potential among the candidates.
Tang Bufan smiled with cold sarcasm, “Remember that my name is Tang Bufan. I will definitely become one of the core protégés. As for you, I wish you the best of luck.”
Although he appeared to be polite but he was full of disdain for Lu Qingyun. This did not escape Lu Qingyun’s notice. Even if he was an idiot, he would still be able to tell.
Lucky for Lu Qingyun, he did not need to be bothered with Tang Bufan for too long. There were soon hurried shouts calling for everyone to get into lines and be quiet.
Dozens of newcomers had entered the hall now and from the look of it, they were the elders and grand elders of the six martial halls.
There were three celestials that had golden eyes so it was obvious that they were three golden celestials of the Heavens Ridge Villa. The three of them were the main pillar of strength in the Heavens Ridge Villa and they were also the highest ranking celestials in the Heavens Ridge Villa.
The Heavens Ridge Villa was actually ruled by the six grand elders who formed the leadership council. Although Great Saintess Yuhuan was the founder of the clan, she was rarely seen and had hardly intervened in the affairs of the Heavens Ridge Villa. No one really knows if she was even alive or not.
Celestial Shi Guanyin was very beautiful and was graceful. Immediately many of the candidates were secretly savouring her wondrous beauty and secretly hoping to join her Red Heaven Sword Hall.
When Lu Qingyun took a look at her, he had a bitter smile. Although she was very beautiful but he was not drawn to her. It was because she was not the Qin Keqin that he had hoped to see…
An elder began to speak and Lu Qingyun had recognized that he was Elder Ouyang who he had first met when he took his aptitude test. He said with his old voice, “It is time for the grand selection. We have over a hundred candidates this time round and the result is quite a surprise to us. However the criterion remains as strict as ever. Only one core protégé will be selected for each of the martial hall. Therefore only six protégés in total will be selected as core protégés.”
Everyone was startled. There were almost two hundred of them but only six would be selected as core protégés?!
The standard was really too high!
“If we can’t join one of the six martial halls then we will be consigned as an ordinary protégé…”
“This is really too difficult…”
“I wonder what the grand elders’ standards are?”
Lu Qingyun was smiling weakly. He was not prepared to be selected anyway. Now that he had failed to find Qin Keqin, he had already lost his interest to join any of the six martial halls.
Elder Ouyang smiled when he saw the incessant muttering among the candidates. This was not new to him and this was an expected reaction.
He then added, “Due to the large number of candidates, I want everyone to line up in six lines and choose the martial hall that you think you have the highest chance to succeed. Then according to the best of your abilities that are demonstrated, it shall be determined if you are selected by the grand elders or not.”
Everyone was muttering as they looked at the six grand elders that were presented.
Out of the six grand elders, three of them were golden celestials while three were immortal celestials. A golden celestial was a Fifth Realm Expert while immortal celestial was a Fourth Realm Expert. Therefore it was not wrong to say that it was a lot more prestigious to join a martial hall that had a golden celestial but it was also a lot more difficult. After all, the grand elders who were golden celestials may have a higher standard.
These were the six martial halls of the Heavens Ridge Villa, the Red Heaven Sword Hall, the Blue Lake Sword Hall, the Green Fields Martial Hall, the Yellow Hills Martial Hall, the White Spirit Hall and the Crystal Cloud Spirit Hall.
These six martial halls were the two sword, two martial and two spirit martial halls of the Heavens Ridge Villa.
The Sword Halls focused on swordplay, the Martial Halls focused on body training while the Spirit Hall focused on the energy cultivation of the cultivator.
It was difficult to know which of the martial halls was the more superior of the six. However it was also not difficult to see that the martial halls with the golden celestials were the more prestigious.
Therefore the more ambitious of the candidates were already evaluating the options of joining either the Red Heaven Sword Hall, the Green Fields Martial Hall and the White Spirit Hall where the grand elders were golden celestials.
Tang Bufan already had a lecherous look at the beautiful Celestial Shi Guanyin so naturally he had already joined the queue for the Red Heaven Sword Hall.
As for Lu Qingyun, he did not think that he was good with the sword or with any energies cultivation so he had joined the queue for the Yellow Hills Martial Hall.
Tang Bufan saw his choice and was amused. This fellow had chosen the Yellow Hills Martial Hall that was led by an immortal celestial grand elder. He did not even dare to dream of picking the three more superior martial halls.
When everyone was in their respective queues, Elder Ouyang old voice was heard loudly once more. “Good! Let the selection begins!”
Lu Qingyun took a quick glance around him and saw that besides the almost two hundred candidates that were presented, there were actually hundreds of curious protégés that were in the hall as well.
Many of the protégés were heard saying, “I wonder who will be the six new core protégés that will be selected.”
Tang Bufan lit a sly smile. It was inconceivable to him that he would not be selected as a core protégé!
Everyone was also curious to know what the examination would be in order to be selected as a core protégé.
Celestial Shi Guanyin was the first of the grand elders to speak, “Alright then. We shall start with the first candidate on my side, alright?”
The rest of the grand elders nodded and they had no issue with that.
She gave a faint smile as she looked at the candidates, “During the choosing, you are actually free to switch the queues so don’t be shy if you think that you are unable to perform better in a particular queue.”
When she had said that, there were quite a number of candidates that had already regretted that they were among the first to be queued.
“Of course,” she smiled all of a sudden. “Once a candidate has already been chosen, the rest of the candidates in the queue won’t be eligible anymore and must join the other queues.”
Her voice was pleasant and had clarity. Many of the candidates were now paying close heeds to her words and some had switched queue to line up for her Red Heaven Sword Hall. These candidates had thought that it may be a good idea after all to choose a master that was pleasant and beautiful.
Celestial Shi Guanyin smiled alluringly, “The grand elders of the six martial halls will take our turn to test the candidate. I am Celestial Shi, the grand elder of the Red Heaven Sword Hall. My martial hall specialized in swordplay. It is not to say that we are weaker in martial or energies techniques. Almost all the new protégés are actually trained in the outer courts of the sword hall for their foundational swordplay. To be a core protégé of the Red Heaven Sword Hall means that you get to train in the inner courts for the more advance swordplay as befitting a core protégé. In the future, you may be an elder or even a master of one of the martial halls. Therefore, we are absolutely serious in only choosing the best candidate among you.”
With that, she pointed at the first candidate and said. “Show me a few strokes of the sword.”
The first candidate was a lean and young man. He eagerly unsheathed his sword and as soon as he had stepped forward, Celestial Shi Guanyin said with a lazy look. “Out you go. You’ve failed.”
The first candidate was shocked beyond words, “But I haven’t even started…” He was almost in tears.
All the candidates who were watching the first candidate were also shocked with disbelief.
“What?! He has failed even before he has started?”
Hundreds of protégés that were watching the selection were all laughing aloud. It was because they were all expecting it to happen. It was really not easy to be selected as a core protégé!
What the candidates did not know was that Celestial Shi Guanyin and many of the grand elders had not selected a core protégé for several decades. Unless a suitable candidate could be found, there was really no point in wasting valuable clan resources to groom one.
The first candidate mustered the courage to say unhappily, “I ought to know the reason why I’ve failed, am I right?”
Celestial Shi Guanyin stared at him with her golden eyes, “The way you have unsheathed your sword is too clumsy. Moreover your potential is too limited. You can never advance to a Fourth Realm Expert and that is the minimum criteria that I am looking for.”
The first candidate immediate hung his head low in shame, not daring to say a word more.
Elder Ouyang said sternly, “Those who have failed, come over this side.”
Celestial Shi Guanyin smiled at Celestial Kong Guxin from the Green Fields Martial Hall, “I believe that it is your turn now.”
Celestial Kong Guxin was a young looking man with a heavy build. He looked at the remaining candidates with a wryly smile, “Those who want to switch their queues can still do so.”
Many of the candidates were now freaked out by the selection and Lu Qingyun suddenly saw that there were many candidates that had suddenly joined his queue.
He was muttering weakly, “Actually, I don’t mind becoming an ordinary protégé.”