Bai Xiaochun looked around at his Elder Brothers, who were staring at him with eyes that glittered like spirit stones. Big Fatty Zhang's eyes looked like they were about to erupt with flames. Bai Xiaochun cleared his throat, feeling more than a little bit proud of himself.
"Elder Brother, check this out. The three mountain peaks of the Spirit Stream Sect all have a trial by fire every month, giving us servants a chance to become like the fish that leaped over the dragon gate, right? Bai Xiaochun glanced around at everyone, looking like the picture of charm and innocence.
Big Fatty Zhang nodded in response.
"However, the sect only wants the best of the best. Therefore, no matter how many people participate in the trial by fire, only the top three disciples per mountain peak get picked. Am I right?" He licked his lips, and his eyes were beginning to shine. Big Fatty Zhang listened thoughtfully.
A ruminative expression could also be seen on Third Fatty Hei's face, although everyone else seemed confused.
Big Fatty Zhang looked at Bai Xiaochun, and his eyes also began to shine. "Do you mean...."
"Considering the levels of your cultivation bases, Elder Brothers, and mine, it would be easy to sweep the trials by fire of all three mountains...." Bai Xiaochun looked around at his Elder Brothers. All of them had cultivation bases at the third level of Qi Condensation; Big Fatty Zhang and Third Fatty Hei were actually at the peak of the third level. Were it not for the fact that they didn't want to leave the Ovens, and thus kept their cultivation bases suppressed, they could have broken through to the next level long ago.
"Therefore," Bai Xiaochun continued, speaking very quickly, "all we have to do is get to the peak of the mountains as quickly as possible, and hold the top three spots. Then, we can... sell them to whoever comes along after us!" He stopped and looked at Big Fatty Zhang and the others.
Big Fatty Zhang was trembling.
"So low down...." he said. Then he took a deep breath and slapped his thigh. An unprecedentedly bright glow appeared in his eyes. The method described by Bai Xiaochun wasn't very complicated at all, and was in fact quite simple. It was merely a different way of thinking that, after being spoken out loud, was easy to understand. However, before being explained, it was actually the opposite of what everyone would have thought the idea to be.
Big Fatty Zhang seemed to be in the midst of spiritual enlightenment. It was as if a door had been opened, leading to a brand new type of life. He couldn't hold back from laughing heartily.
Third Fatty Hei stamped an excited foot, face flushed from either embarrassment or excitement. "This couldn't be any more low down! Hahaha!"
As the other fatties understood, they started getting excited. Panting, they couldn't help but stare at Bai Xiaochun with more admiration than ever.
"Great idea! Let's do it!"
"Fudge! That bunch of bastards from the Supervisor's Department have persecuted us into poverty for years now. Thankfully, Ninth Junior Brother is here now. Let's do it!" Then, they began to excitedly discuss the details of how to carry out such a plan.
After they were sure that there was nothing they had overlooked, they decided to try out their scheme in the following month's trials by fire. Big Fatty Zhang slapped his thigh in delight.
"Tonight is snack night!"
Excited conversations filled the Ovens. The following month was one of extreme enthusiasm. In fact, just to play it safe, everyone took time to practice cultivation, which was a rare occurrence. In the end, everyone was waiting impatiently for the day of the trial by fire to arrive.
Finally, it did.
The sun shone brightly in the morning sky. Beneath the three mountain peaks on the south shore of the Spirit Stream Sect, an unprecedented scene was playing out. There at the entrance to each of the trails leading up the mountains, shockingly, three black woks appeared.
A closer look revealed that underneath those black woks were extraordinarily formidable fatties. The sight was truly impressive.
These were the nine members of the Ovens, and this was, in fact, their first time attending the trials by fire held for servants at the three Mountain Peaks. Just as they had planned, three of their number went to each of the three mountain peaks.
Large groups of servants were hurrying toward the mountain peaks from all directions, cracking their knuckles and looking very excited. Many of these servants had attempted the trials by fire on numerous occasions, only to fail in the end. For others, it was their first time attending. Everyone was both excited and nervous, and hoped that they could be like a galloping divine steed and make a meteoric rise to become an Outer Sect disciple.
As they neared the various mountain peaks, they caught sight of the fatties from the Ovens.
"The Ovens? What are they doing here?"
"I've been a servant for nine years already, and I've participated in the trials by fire thirty times. This is the first time I've ever seen anyone from the Ovens here...." The other servants were shocked, and began to spread word. Soon, everyone was talking about the fact that all three of the mountains had people from the Ovens waiting there for the trials by fire.
"This is big! I can't believe the Ovens people all are going to vie for a spot in the Outer Sect. What's going on...?"
Bai Xiaochun, Big Fatty Zhang and Third Fatty Hei were all waiting at the bottom of the third peak. When they heard the shocked exclamations of the other servants, they didn't react at all. In fact, their faces were so calm that it almost seemed they were away on astral journeys and were completely oblivious to all of the conversations around them.
They were completely and utterly focused on the trial by fire starting line. To them, this was not the path of a trial by fire; instead, it was a glittering, glowing road to spirit stones.
Bai Xiaochun looked especially solemn, with his eyes turned up in thought.
Soon, a figure could be seen floating down from the three mountains. The person to land by Bai Xiaochun and the others was a middle-aged man who had the demeanor of a transcendent being. The first thing he noticed as he alighted next to the starting line was the mountain of flesh that was Big Fatty Zhang.
Then he looked over at Bai Xiaochun and Third Fatty Hei. This man was the Honor Guard in charge of the trial by fire, and currently, his heart was filled with astonishment.
"Did the sun rise from the west today?" he thought. "Usually the people from the Ovens would rather die than become Outer Sect disciples. What's going on?"
After blinking a few times to make sure he wasn't seeing things, an expression of encouragement appeared on the man's face. He flicked his sleeve and began to speak, his voice echoing out in all directions.
"Let the trial by fire for promotion to the Outer Sect... begin!" As soon as the words left his mouth, bells began to toll throughout the sect. At the same time, the starting lines to the trials by fire lit up, indicating that the event had begun.
Instantly, Big Fatty Zhang shot forward, an expression of extreme focus on his face. He kicked up a huge wind as he ran toward the stone steps leading up the mountain, moving so fast you might think he was being chased by a ravenous beast.
Third Fatty Hei also leapt into motion behind Big Fatty Zhang, a brutal gleam in his eyes that seemed to indicate that anyone who tried to overtake him on the path was threatening his life.
In third place was Bai Xiaochun, who leapt onto the path as quickly as a rabbit, thinking about nothing else but the Age-Prolonging Longevity-Enhancing Pill. In the blink of an eye, the three of them were dashing madly up the path.
All of that happened so quickly that the other servants barely had time to react. Their faces immediately fell and, gritting their teeth, they scrambled onto the path and began to climb toward the peak.
Similar scenes played out on the other two mountains, with the fatties from the Ovens instantly taking the lead.
The third mountain peak was known as Fragrant Cloud Peak, and currently Bai Xiaochun and his companions were flying along the trial by fire path, far ahead of everyone else. However, it didn't take long before they felt increasing pressure weighing down on them, forcing them to slow their pace.
Bai Xiaochun looked around and realized that seven or eight people were closing in behind him. Suddenly, he was filled with a feeling of anxiety; it was as if these people were on the verge of stealing his Age-Prolonging Longevity-Enhancing Pill.
"Taking away my Age-Prolonging Longevity-Enhancing Pill is the same as taking away my life!" He suddenly held his breath, causing his face to turn scarlet. Then he sent spiritual energy streaming out into his body, which formed into a powerful, surging force. All of a sudden, he charged forward like wild boar whose tail had just been stepped on. In the blink of an eye, his speed more than doubled, and he had passed Third Fatty Hei and even Big Fatty Zhang.
Third Fatty Hei let out a roar, and then used some unknown technique to similarly increase his speed and suddenly pass up Big Fatty Zhang and race closer to Bai Xiaochun. Seeing that he had just been passed by his two companions, Big Fatty Zhang started getting anxious.
He took a deep breath and then, all of a sudden, his rolls of fat seemed to shrink. It was almost as if he was burning his fat in exchange for a burst of speed. Rumbling sounds could be heard as he closed the distance between himself and Third Fatty Hei. Soon, all three of them were speeding along rapidly.
When the servants behind them saw what was happening, their jaws dropped in shock. Looks of despair appeared on their faces, and yet, they weren't willing to give up so easily, and pushed onward with all the strength they could muster. Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do to catch up with Bai Xiaochun and the others. Their tempers having reached the limit, they began to cry out curses.
"Dammit! Are they high on aphrodisiacs or something? How could they be so fast!"
Soon, enough time had passed for an incense stick to burn, and Bai Xiaochun had already reached the top of the mountain. In fact, he could even see two Outer Sect disciples standing just beyond the finish line, waiting there to receive the servants.
As soon as the two Outer Sect disciples caught sight of Bai Xiaochun, they smiled slightly, and one of them said, "Congratulations, Junior Br-"
However, before he could even finish speaking, his eyes went wide with shock.
Bai Xiaochun barreled along a few more paces, but then screeched to a halt a mere step in front of the finish line.
He stood there looking at the Outer Sect disciples, and they looked back at him. Then, he gave them a charming smile, and spun to face the other direction.
"Stop!" he roared, throwing his hands up into the air. Instantly, Third Fatty Hei and Big Fatty Zhang wheezed to a stop next to him. The three of them stood there looking at each other, breathing heavily. Then, they broke out into laughter.
The two Outer Sect disciples exchanged dismayed glances, unsure of what exactly was happening. The fact that these three suddenly stopped running at this point seemed to indicate that they were crazy.
"Junior Brothers," one of the Outer Sect disciples said cautiously, "the three of you are the first to arrive at the finish line. Just step on over, and you will be promoted into the Outer Sect."
"Outer Sect disciples?" Big Fatty Zhang said, waving his hand dismissively. "Who wants to become Outer Sect disciples?" He continued to stand there along with Third Fatty Hei, two mountains of flesh who completely blocked the exit gate.
Bai Xiaochun sat down in front of them, jaw tilted up as he waited, lofty and proud.
The two Outer Sect disciples didn't seem pleased. "Huh? If you don't want to be Outer Sect disciples, then what are you doing here? Are you people crazy or something?!"
Big Fatty Zhang, Third Fatty Hei and Bai Xiaochun pretended not to have heard, and kept their eyes focused further on down the mountain.
Soon, enough time had passed for an incense stick to burn. Finally, a long-faced servant struggled up the path, gasping and wheezing. When he saw Bai Xiaochun and the others, he immediately sighed. However, his eyes burned with an unyielding light. This was his ninth time participating in the trial by fire, and this was the first time he'd even come close to winning. But then, along came the people from the Ovens.
Looking furious, he was just about to turn to leave when Bai Xiaochun shot to his feet and yelled, "Elder Brother, don't go! Come, come. You know what? I just can't bear to leave the Ovens. All of a sudden, I don't want to be an Outer Sect disciple after all. Maybe I should give my spot up...."
The long-faced servant stared in shock for a moment, and then his eyes began to shine.