On the second day when it was just daybreak, Yang Junshan departed with mulberry bow on his shoulder and cold-light dagger stuffed besides his waist. Two quivers of Iron Feather Arrows were hung on the little packhorse. Yang Junshan walked behind his father. Han Xiumei, his second brother and his little sister sent them off outside the villiage.
Other teenagers, whose spiritual acupoints were detected, also planned to visit Pehchao Mountain to seek spiritual articles. Their parents sent them outside the village for gathering. Seeing Yang Junshan coming, they hailed to him in distance.
Obviously, Yang Junshan’s arrival was out of everyone’s expectation. It was not a secret that Yang Tiangang came from Yang Family in Qingshi Town of Chenyu County. In villagers’ eyes, Yang Family was a distinguished family, so they wouldn’t value the remaining spiritual articles in Pehchao Mountain which had undergone plunders twice.
Some Tuqiu villagers made eye contact with one another, wondering whether the rumor from Chengyu County was true. It was said that Yang Tiangang and other family members weren’t respected in Yang Family, so even as a direct descendant of Yang Family, Yang Junshan hadn’t received any spiritual article. Was it true?
This doubt occurred to everyone present. But all of them appeared to show great respect to Yang Tiangang, the village head. After all, Yang Tiangang established his status by his strength three years ago in the village. He was influential in recent years, but he dealt with issues fairly, which made more people acknowledge his ability. This was why Yang Family, as outsiders, could settle down quickly in Tuqiu village.
Three teenagers who were on the same trip to Pehchao Mountain were at Yang Junshan’s age. All of them knew him well. The stocky boy on the left, who was a head shorter than Yang Junshan, was Hao Zhuang. He used to be one of the followers of Zhang Huzi, but now he was kind of scared when he looked at Yang Junshan. Obviously, he knew the day before yesterday that Yang Junshan and his brothers had defeated Zhang Huzi
Another girl called Xu Jing was a thirteen-year-old descendant of Xu Family. It was said that she had great intelligence and three spiritual acupoints, which was considered as the third-level intelligence for cultivation like Zhang Huzi. But the remarkable difference was that one of her acupoints was located behind her ear.
The number of spiritual acupoints in the body determined one’s intelligence for cultivation. However, their locations also influenced one’s possibility of possessing inborn gifts, among which the acupoints in five sense organs were of higher possibility.
And because of this, this girl was very arrogant in the village and thought little of Yang Junshan, the son of village head, and also Zhang Huzi, the descendant of Master in Warrior Realm. Even Xu Lei, the eldest son of Xu’s patriarch, gave in to her, sometimes.
What’s more, the rumor went that because of Xu Jing’s prominent intelligence, the head of Xu Family, Xu Sanniang, had decided the marriage between her son and Xu Jing, which would be organized as soon as they grew up.
Although Xu Sanniang was the only Master of Warrior Realm in Xu Family and was very prestigious, her husband was an outsider. And as a result, her only child, Xu Lei, didn’t receive much fondness from the elders. Xu Sanniang wanted to pave the way for him to take charge of Xu Family. So Xu Jing, owning the blood of Xu and prominent intelligence, was chosen as the most suitable wife for her son.
Yang Junshan knew clearly about this. Besides, he knew that Xu Jing was more ambitious and arrogant than Xu Sanniang had expected. In spite of the engagement to Xu Lei, she would catch the attention of a cultivator of Heaven-shocking Sect after the trip to Pehchao Mountain. By then, the whole Xu Family would count for nothing to her.
The third boy looked older than the others. Yang Junshan recognized him. He was called Su Baozhang, three years older than him.
According to his age, Su Baozhang had missed the optimal time to awaken his acupoints. Yang Junshan knew that Su Baozhang was too poor to participate in the opening of Pehchao Mountain three years ago. He didn’t know how many jade coins Su Baozhang had saved for obtaining the qualification to visit Pehchao Mountain.
In fact, this sort of thing was very common. Although Su Baozhang was delayed for three years, he got the opportunity in the end, which was extremely desirable for many people, let alone those who had no chance of attaining spiritual article even if they had good intelligence. These people could only accumulate nimbus inside their body little by little with simple martial practice. Usually, it could cost much time before they awakened acupoints successfully.
In Tuqiu village, there were one thousand families and five or six thousand or so villagers. Definitely, apart from these four teenagers, there were many teenagers at the age of 12 to 15. But the majority of them didn’t have intelligence for cultivation after being tested. Even if some had the intelligence, they couldn’t afford the runaway price for the admission to the Paddock.
Of course, some teenagers like Zhang Huzi and Xu Lei, whose parents had prepared spiritual articles for them, didn’t need to search in Pehchao Mountain. Initially, Yang Junshan didn’t have to go there. But the medium-grade Khaki Spiritual Stone hadn’t lived up to his standard in his prelife. So did it now.
In his prelife, Yang Junshan went with these companions to Pehchao Mountain on the same journey, but they parted randomly when arriving at the mountain. In the end, Yang Junshan returned to the village like a drowned mouse. Except from Xu Jing, who gained somethings, Su Baozhang was worse than him, and Hao Zhuang even escaped from the mountain narrowly.
Seeing everyone heading for Pehchao Mountain was here, Yang Tiangang nodded and then said, “We should get started, or it will be too late.”
There were six counties in Yu Prefecture, and each of them had a paddock raising spiritual articles by Heaven-shocking Sect. The paddocks opened every three years and the disciples of Heaven-shocking Sect were always the first to harvest the best spiritual articles that had been fostered for three years.
After that, other sects and wealthy clans in Yu Prefecture would start the second plunder. When all of them finished, it was the third group’s turn to enter the paddock. The third group consisted of the teenagers under 15 years old in every county who had the good intelligence for cultivation. Yang Junshan and the others were included.
The spiritual articles left in the paddock were very few after two rounds of plunder. Most of them were low-grade articles abandoned by the former marauders. It would be very lucky to get a medium-grade spiritual article.
However, the competition over the admission to the paddock was still fierce in Yu Prefecture. Although the third group’s members were exclusive to the suitable cultivators in the county, the Heaven-shocking Sect secretly imposed another restriction on the number of the cultivators who were qualified to enter the paddock in the name of the rareness of spiritual articles. They assigned a certain quota for every town and village. But the rest was set aside for those people who payed jade coins as an exchange. The highest bidders obtained the rest quota.
Tuqui village was one case of them. In the beginning, the assigned quota was three. Apart from Yang Junshan, Hao Zhuang and Xu Jing, who represented the other two powers in village, got the qualification respectively.
So Su Baozhang had to use Jade coins to buy the qualification in town. Yang Junshan knew that having sufficient money didn’t mean obtaining the admission, especially for Su Baozhang who came from a poor family. But Yang Junshan felt pity for Su Baozhang, a 15-year-old boy who had saved enough jade coins through thrifty but had no opportunity. He sought the chance for Su Baozhang in town, so Su Baozhang got the admission.
In Yang’s prelife, out of gratitude, Su Baozhang wanted to follow him in search of spiritual articles but was rejected by him firmly. At last, Yang Junshan got a low-grade spiritual article and was very upset, while Su Baozhang was quite satisfied with his low-grade article.
Pehchao Mountain was about 100km away from Tuqiu village. It only took an hour for packhorse to get there. But since there were merely two packhorses in Yang Family in the village, it would take at least four hours for the journey to Pehchao Mountain even though the other three fellows’ parents rented a big carriage pulled by a packhorse in the town.
Yang Tiangang and his son slowed their pace so that the carriage could catch up with them. But for the passengers, the trip wasn’t comfortable. The driver was very skillful, but after 100km’ commute, people in the carriage all got exhausted even if they were at a certain level of cultivation. Fortunately, the opening of Pehchao Mountain Paddock was to be held in the afternoon, so there was some time left for rest.
The group travelled as fast as they could. They came across several groups of cultivators from other villages who were also heading for Pehchao Mountain. Yang Tiangang was familiar with most of them, so they went together during the journey.
The paddock had a diameter of 15 kilometers, centering on Pehchao Mountain. Within the paddock, the hills of diverse heights wound their ways through deep forests and serene valleys. Fierce beasts dwelled in them. Poisonous plants and animals scattered. Usually, it was covered with the formation set up by Heaven-shocking Sect. Seen from the top of the mountain, the hills were immersed in the clouds and mists. Only when the formation vanished could the paddock be observed clearly. The cultivators of Heaven-shocking Sect guarded it every day and night. They opened the paddock three times every three years, allowing cultivators to enter it in three rounds.
Mengyu County had five towns, consisting of 25 villages. Each of them had 4 or 5 cultivators whose ages were within 12 to 15 years old. Considering the underhand quota, there were about 200 or so cultivators who were qualified for the admission to paddock in the third round.
They gathered at the foot of Pehchao Mountain. It was almost 400 people there, counting in their parents and the heads from each village as well. Horses and carriages rested alongside people. It became boisterous at once.
After reaching the destination, everyone hurried to have a rest except Yang Junshan, who cast eyes on the grand carved bow hanging on his father’s packhorse instead.