Three days after the bloody incident in Zong Village, a shocking piece of news spread through the sect, taking many people, disciples and elders alike, by surprise.
Great Elder Wan had taken on a disciple!
Who was this mysterious disciple exactly? The details were unclear, but it was rumoured that Great Elder Wans new disciple was a six year old mortal child! It was also rumoured that this child was found in the very same village which was recently destroyed by a violent demonic beast.
The fact that a demonic beast had attacked Zong Village, killing over one hundred mortals and even an inner sect disciple, was big news in the sect. Naturally, this fabricated tale was far from the truth, but it was the story propagated by Great Elder Wan. Almost nobody would even think to doubt such an esteemed character.
However, Great Elder Wan taking on a personal disciple was even bigger news! It should be known that Great Elder Wan joined the Heavenly Path Sect at a young age, he had been with the sect ever since his childhood. He was taken in as a mortal child, and had been nurtured by the sect until he reached his current height, yet this was the first time that he had ever taken on a personal disciple!
This led to many discussions breaking out amongst the sect members. What exactly was so special about this boy?
Unfortunately, nobody had even seen this rumoured disciple yet. He was still fast asleep, apparently extremely fatigued after fighting off the demonic beast.
Great Elder Wan was not required to explain his actions to anyone, but he chose to do so anyway in order to remove suspicion.
"He only has moderate talent, but he possesses a rare constitution which will improve the strength of his fleshly body alongside his cultivation. Most importantly, this childs heart is wilful enough that he dared to fight against a demonic beast as a mere mortal."
This was the excuse that Great Elder Wan used to pacify the other great elders and sect lord at the follow-up meeting to the Zong Village incident. Since there were no witnesses left to tell the tale, they could only accept his brief explanation. Nobody wanted to make an enemy of Great Elder Wan, so they wouldn question him on this matter, even if they did suspect that certain things surrounding this incident were unusual.
If this massacre of over one hundred disciples had occurred within the inner sect, things would be different, but it was merely the outer sect. It wasn known to those living in the outer sect, but it was no secret amongst the inner and core sect disciples and elders that the outer sect members were not true members of the sect.
The Heavenly Path Sect actually treated its real members fairly well. At the very least, killing a fellow sect member was completely forbidden, the punishment being death in almost all cases. Exceptions to this rule were only made in cases of self defence, and accidental injury which resulted during sparing.
Those in the outer sect were basically pawns, they were tools used to harvest resources. They could only hope to ascend beyond their lowly positions if their talent, determination and luck were all at high enough levels. The outer sect served only two purposes: To use the kidnapped children for their labor, whilst simultaneously filtering out the trash from those who showed actual potential. The fact that these two agendas could be used to benefit one another was simply convenient.
There was one more reason for the outer sect members being used for their labor…mortals who possessed talent in Qi refining cultivation could survive in extremely harsh conditions. They were able to eat very little without starving to death, because the atmospheric Spiritual Energy at the base of Heavenly Path Mountain supplemented their bodys energy levels. In essence, they could be used as cheap labor.
As such, anyone with a low or moderate talent would begin in the outer sect. Only those who were able to survive until adulthood, whilst cultivating into the Qi Gathering Realm, would be permitted entry into the true ranks of the sect.
Two days later, Yaan awoke from his rest. The first person he saw after waking up, was Great Elder Wan. The old man was painting silently beside the bed, but he stopped what he was doing and turned to the side when he saw that Yaan was awake. He smiled at Yaan warmly, making Yaan feel extremely bewildered.
Yaans eyes cautiously darted around the room. What he saw left him feeling shocked.
This room was so luxurious! He had never seen such a luxurious place before! He was lying on a soft mattress, adorned with silk covers and fluffy feather pillows. The carpet and paintings on the wall all matched the same red colour scheme, seeming to be emphasised by the stable candle light that shone through the hanging lantern. There were even fine oak desks and cupboards in this spacious room…just where exactly was he? He had never seen such luxury in his life!
"This is a temple in the core sect. Do you like it? This will be your new home, Yaan."
Yaan slowly turned back towards the unfamiliar man and examined him carefully. From his expensive looking robe and well kept long black hair, which remained soft and thick despite his apparent age, Yaan could easily tell that he was a powerful cultivator. Unlike the other cultivators whom he had met in the past, this old man kept his aura completely restrained, giving him a withdrawn presence that made Yaan look at him uncertainly.
That said, whilst Great Elder Wans aura was restrained to the level of a mortals, his demeanour and gaze were far from ordinary.
"What happened…why am I here?" Yaan asked carefully. No matter how much he tried to remember, it was all a blur. All he could recall was a hazy red dream…it was simply a nightmare, wherein he slaughtered wantonly, taking sick pleasure in the act of killing, despite his actions causing him to feel a torturous pain that stemmed from the depths of his heart.
"You lost control after absorbing too much Slaughter Aura…you killed 88 people. Don worry, I provided an appropriate cover story. I will also keep your Fiend Transformation Technique a secret from the sect."
Yaan sat up straight suddenly, then grimaced and clutched his arm in pain. He only now realised that his clothes had been removed and bandages were wrapped around various parts of his body.
"Don push yourself right now, you need to rest some more." The elder said gently, lightly placing one hand on Yaans shoulder and carefully pushing him back down.
"You…how do you know about the Fiend Transformation, and what nonsense are you talking about me killing 88 people?!" In his confused state, Yaan almost shouted, forgetting that he was talking to an unfamiliar cultivator who possessed an unknown level of strength for a moment.
When he realised that he had spoken out of place, he raised his guard and prepared himself to flee incase the situation escalated. Yaans heartbeat rapidly accelerated and he broke out in cold sweat, knowing, but refusing to acknowledge, that he had no chance of escaping from this old man.
Contrary to his expectations, the elder just laughed lightly in response to his outburst.
"I have witnessed this technique once before, so naturally I can recognise the fiend foundation within your body. As for the killing of the mortals from the outer sect, I suppose your memory must be hazy, since you lost control over your bloodlust."
Yaan became silent, observing this eloquent man closely.
If he judged this man from his face and demeanour, Great Elder Wan truly appeared to be a gentle person with no ill will towards him. Yaan wasn the naive child he had once been though, he would definitely doubt this person, especially given that he was now hiding something important from his own sect.
"I see that you have your doubts." Great Elder Wan shrugged helplessly. "I understand that you have been through a lot, but you should know that I am your ally. In fact, I have already announced to the sect that I will be taking you on as my personal disciple. From now on, you are a core disciple of the Heavenly Path Sect."
Hearing this, Yaans eyes went round. The personal disciple of a core sect elder?! Just what was going on exactly, what was this old man hoping to achieve…?
"The Fiend Transformation Technique left a deep impression on me when I saw it in the past, hence, I did my research and learned some things later on. It is a technique which can turn a human into a true fiend, a demonic race with the ability to surpass the concept of alent. Naturally I must gain a disciple with such a bright future for myself." The old man laughed and rubbed his nose, as if embarrassed by his own greed.
Yaan still felt suspicious, but he calmed down slightly after realising that at the very least, this person didn intend to harm him right now. Seeing the tension leave his body, Great Elder Wan felt satisfied.
This child must have been through a lot, to be so suspicious and doubtful towards me. I suppose it should be expected that a fiend candidate is not ordinary, though. He thought to himself.
Great Elder Wan did feel some understanding towards Yaan, but he wouldn change his plans just for this. As someone who had cultivated for over 250 years, he had experienced too much for his heart to soften just because of the struggles of a single mortal child.