Meng Hao was flabbergasted. And it wasn’t just him. The group from the Zhang Clan were also shocked. In fact, everyone who had come to Saint’s Island with the hope of joining the Footloose Clan were completely astonished.
The day for disciple recruitment was clearly ten days away, but then suddenly, the date was moved up. Many people began to feel nervous and alarmed, as if something incredible was about to happen.
An enormous event like disciple recruitment was no child’s game. As such, even if the date were moved up, it shouldn’t have been changed to earlier than the next day. There definitely should never have been a situation in which… it began that very day.
After all, it was already noontime….
Most importantly, there were many people who were still out at sea, hurrying on their way.
There were many speculations and inquiries, of course. Even the Footloose Sect disciples were complaining. They had no idea what major event was underway; all they could do was carry out matters according to the orders from the Sect.
Therefore, the Footloose Sect dispatched large numbers of disciples to begin to gather together all the prospective new disciples and bring them to the main gate of the Footloose Sect.
Before the Zhang Clan left the tavern, Zhang Wenfang hesitated, then invited Meng Hao to proceed along ahead with her. Meng Hao muttered inwardly for a moment, but then he saw the anticipation on Nan’er’s face, and he couldn’t refuse. He joined the Zhang Clan as they went to be teleported to the Footloose Sect.
When they arrived near the main gate, a hubbub of voices could be heard. Already, more than a thousand people could be seen, although only about three hundred were actually there to join the Footloose Sect. The rest were just along as escorts.
Among the crowd was the Xu Clan, who, when they caught sight of the Zhang Clan, gave cold, contemptuous laughs.
The Zhang Clan had arrived somewhat late, and so were forced to wait at the end of the very long line. In the Footloose Clan’s disciple recruitment, there were three trials by fire, each one of which could only have three participants.
Of course, in addition to the members of the various Clans present, there were also quite a few Footloose Sect disciples, there to maintain order. They acted very courteously, but it was also impossible for them to hide the pride they felt in their bones.
In the crowds, everyone was talking about the goings on.
“Three trials by fire. The first tests willpower, the second tests latent talent, and the third tests powers of insight. In every stage, you can earn first, second, third, or fourth rate marks…. anyone who gets three first place marks is worthy of the title Chosen.”
“Yeah, that’s right. In all the years, I don’t think anyone ever got three first place marks. At the most, there may have been some people who got two.”
“Furthermore, the Footloose Sect is very strict in its requirements for recruiting disciples. You have to get at least full third rate marks to get into the Sect. Even one fourth rate mark means that you’re out.”
Back at the end of the very long line, Meng Hao yawned as he listened to the conversations around him. According to his calculations, it would take at least two or three days for the Zhang Clan to get to the front of the line.
Nan’er was extremely nervous. Zhang Wenfang stood next to him, offering quiet words of encouragement. Meng Hao looked around, and even sent out his Divine Sense to sweep over the Footloose Sect.
“This Sect is a bit odd,” he murmured to himself, his gaze flickering. “It’s made up of nine valleys.”
At the same time, Patriarch Reliance sat in his palace, wearing a worried face.
“This is taking too long…. The little bastard is escorting someone to join the Sect, but, hey, couldn’t you go to the front of the line, huh?! Why did you run to the back!? What do you think you’re doing?!” Patriarch Reliance clenched his teeth, then sent his Divine Sense out to cover over the whole Footloose Sect. Eventually, it came to rest on a disciple near Meng Hao and the others.
The disciple was currently looking coldly out at the crowds, inwardly confused about why the Sect suddenly moved up the date for recruiting disciples. Even in the midst of his contemplation, his body suddenly trembled, and then his eyes began to grow brightly.
As of this moment, he was no longer himself. Instead, he had become a clone of Patriarch Reliance. He began to walk forward, eyeing Meng Hao and shivering a bit. Then he turned toward the Zhang Wenfang and Nan’er.
“Are you the Zhang Clan from the Outer Sea?” asked the Patriarch Reliance-controlled Footloose Sect disciple. His voice was cheerful as he stepped forward to examine Zhang Wenfang and the other members of the Zhang Clan.
Zhang Wenfang was taken aback, as were the other Clan members around her. In fact, the members of other Clans that were lined up ahead of them couldn’t help but turn around to look.
“Yes, we’re the Zhang Clan,” replied Zhang Wenfang as quickly as she could.
“Wonderful, wonderful. The descendant of an old friend is here!”
The Footloose Sect disciple sighed emotionally. “Years ago, I used to be very close to your husband, and even owed him a favor. To be able to see all of you here today is nothing less than fate. Come, let me escort up to the front.” With that, he quickly grabbed Nan’er and began to walk forward.
Zhang Wenfang stared in shock, wracking her brain to try to remember what past incident the man must be referring to. The other Clan members were also astonished. Even after thinking for some time, they truly couldn’t recall their previous Clan Leader having a close relationship with any Footloose Sect disciples.
“This….” Zhang Wenfang hesitated for a moment, but seeing that the disciple had already begun to pull her son away, she quickly followed. The other members of the Zhang Clan also went along. Meng Hao watched everything happening, and then joined them.
The group made their way from the very back of the line toward the front, which instantly attracted the attention of everyone who was waiting. That was especially true of the Xu Clan, who watched on in astonishment as everything happened.
Immediately, people began to call out questions.
“Fellow Daoist of the Footloose Clan, dare I ask why they get to go from the back of the line to the front?”
“Yeah! They were in the back! They can’t just randomly cut in line! How come they can so brazenly go all the way to the front!?”
Now even more people were paying attention. As soon as they saw what was happening, they were shocked, and couldn’t understand why the Footloose Sect, which normally paid such close attention to rules and regulations, would allow something like this to happen.
Meanwhile, there were other Footloose Sect disciples who saw what was happening. One of them happened to be a Core Formation Cultivator who was in charge of maintaining order in the area. When he saw what was happening, he frowned.
“Zhao Han!” he shouted, a dignified expression on his face. That was the name of the Footloose Sect disciple who Patriarch Reliance was controlling with his Divine Sense. “What are you doing? It doesn’t matter if you’re longtime friends with these Zhang people, you…” Before the Core Formation Cultivator could finish speaking, Patriarch Reliance up in the palace gave a cold snort, and sent out more Divine Sense.
A virtually imperceptible tremor ran through the Core Formation Cultivator, and then his eyes glittered brightly.
“Wait, these guests are the Zhang Clan from the Outer Sea?” His expression one of excitement, he immediately stepped forward to glance over the group from the Zhang Clan.
This scene caused all the surrounding Footloose Sect disciples as well as the visiting Clan members to exchange astonished looks.
“The Heavens finally take notice, and allow me to see you members of the Zhang Clan!” said the Core Formation Cultivator, looking very excited. “The descendant of an old friend is here….
“Years ago, I was close friends with your Zhang Clan, and even benefited from a great kindness on the part of the Clan. Come come, I’ll take you to the first place in line!” With that, he took gaping Nan’er from Zhao Han without any further explanation, and headed off toward the front of the line.
Zhang Wenfang stared in astonishment once more. She felt as if her mind was spinning. She looked back at her other fellow Clan members, but they had looks as blank as hers. No matter how they wracked their memories, they couldn’t think of any time in which their Patriarch had any close friends at all.
The rest of the Clans who were here to join the Footloose Sect all watched on in astonishment, especially the Xu Clan. Their eyes were widest of all, and filled with disbelief.
It was in this manner that, under the leadership of the Core Formation Cultivator, the Zhang Clan continued on from the back of the line directly toward the front. The entire time, the Cultivators of the Zhang Clan almost couldn’t believe what was happening.
However, their expressions of confusion quickly turned into excitement.
Right now, more than half of the Outer Sea Cultivator Clans had come. There were even some Clans from the Fourth Ring. As of this moment, everyone now took note of the Zhang Clan, and many people began to discuss the matter in hushed tones. Many people glanced over at them with admiration and envy.
The Xu Clan members all had faces pale and filled with disbelief.
“This… this is impossible!!”
By the time Nan’er arrived in the very first place in line, Meng Hao’s shock at the sudden change of events caused him to feel that something fishy was going on.
Meanwhile, back in the Saint’s Island palace, Patriarch Reliance looked quite proud of himself.
“Humph. The Patriarch prevails again! The only thing to do is to get the little bastard out of here as quickly as possible. I don’t care what price I have to pay!
“Wait. No. I need to speed things up. The best thing would be to settle things within ten breaths of time. I need to make sure he has no reason at all to stay here. That way he’ll screw off as quickly as possible!” Again, Patriarch Reliance sent Divine Sense out to cover the Footloose Sect.
In the blink of an eye, the Divine Sense split into dozens of streams that all settled into different individuals.
Suddenly, an old man flew out from within the Footloose Sect. He obviously had a Core Formation Cultivation base, and as soon as he appeared, he laid eyes on Zhan Wenfang. “The Zhang Clan is here?! The Zhang Clan from the Outer Sea?”
The Clan members in the line immediately gaped.
“That’s Honor Guard Han!”
“Honor Guard Han is one of the most powerful experts in the Footloose Sect. He has an incredibly high position!”
“Don’t tell me… that he also owes a favor to the Zhang Clan?”
The old man quickly approached. “So, it really is the Zhang Clan. Excellent, excellent! The descendant of an old friend is here! I will definitely take advantage of this day to pay back the favor I owe to the Zhang Clan!”
However, before he could even get close, before the crowds in line could digest what was happening, while the Zhang Clan members were all still in a daze, roaring shouts could be heard from within the Sect.
“The Zhang Clan is here?!”
“So, it really is the Zhang Clan! They actually made it to the Footloose Sect!”
“The benefactor is here! I, Tu Dahai, must go to pay my respects!”
Shockingly, ten figures appeared from within the Footloose Sect. Each and every one was of the late Core Formation stage, and they actually comprised more than half of all the Core Formation Cultivators in the Clan.
As they flew out, a buzz could be heard from within the crowds in line. All of the Cultivators from the Outer Sea Clans were trembling in astonishment. The Fourth Ring Cultivators were even more dumbstruck as their gazes followed those of the ten Core Formation Cultivators to fall onto the Zhang Clan.
Zhang Wenfang stood there dully, as did the other Zhang Clan Cultivators.
They were even starting to get a bit frightened. They had never heard anything about their deceased Patriarch having so many friends….
Meng Hao’s eyes were wide as he watched on. What was happening really was far too strange….