Translator: StarveCleric Editor: StarveCleric
The many poison masters stared at one another, unable to process what they had just heard.
"That's right. As long as you all become combat masters, you will be able to walk through the streets of Qingyuan City openly without fear, and you wouldn't have to fear anyone confronting you or causing you any trouble just because you practice poison arts. And more importantly, you need not fear the Master Teacher Pavilion anymore!" Zhang Xuan said with a light chuckle.
"This…" Hearing those words, the faces of the poison masters reddened, and they clenched their fists in agitation.
As poison masters, they had lived in the shadows for far too long. For the longest time, their greatest wish had been to stand in the light as themselves without being snubbed or shunned by others... If Elder Sun Qiang could really make this come true for them, that would be as good as granting them a second life!
"But... we aren't master teachers, are we truly qualified to become combat masters? Will the other combat masters really welcome us into their ranks? After all, we are poison masters…" Elder Xu asked apprehensively.
The other poison masters nodded in agreement as well, clearly harboring the same concerns.
The Combat Master Hall was a subsidiary of the Master Teacher Pavilion, and typically speaking, combat masters were talented individuals chosen amongst the master teachers. On the other hand, they were only a bunch of poison masters...
"It's true that most combat masters are master teachers as well, but from time to time, the Combat Master Hall would also recruit talents of other fields into their ranks to widen their scope. While we poison masters have a bad reputation, our fighting prowess with poison is exceptional too! The Combat Master Hall would surely welcome you into their ranks gladly! As long as you were to join the Combat Master Hall as one of their members, even if just as a reserve member, under their cover, no one would dare to say the slightest thing about you!" Zhang Xuan nodded with a smile.
The Combat Master Hall did have special rules when it came to recruiting top-notch talent, but those only applied to talents of around Zheng Yang's caliber. To be honest, Elder Xu and the others were still quite lacking.
Nevertheless, even if they couldn't become an official member of the Combat Master Hall, becoming a reserve member was still possible. It wouldn't be too late for them to apply to become an official member once they achieve some merit.
"That would truly be for the best. However... would our cultivation technique and means be rejected by the master teachers? They might accept us at the start, but as time passes... would they start to repulse and shun us?" Elder Xu asked in concern.
"I understand your concerns, but don't worry, the founder has already made preparations for this. Here are some cultivation technique manuals which the founder has prepared for you all. As long as you all were to cultivate accordingly to it, not only will the rate of advancement in your cultivation be faster than ever, you won't have to resort to unorthodox means anymore too!" Zhang Xuan said as he flicked his wrist and passed a few manuals over.
Those manuals contained the simplified versions of the Heaven's Path Poison Art.
Back then, he had written them down shortly after browsing through the books of the Poison Hall in hopes that he would be able to impart them to those of the Poison Hall.
Elder Xu and the others took the books doubtfully, but after flipping through a few pages, their faces swiftly flushed in agitation, and their breathing couldn't help but hasten.
Every single one of them here had at least devoted a hundred years of their life into the study of poison, so their eye of discernment in the field of poison was superb. The poison cultivation technique manuals Elder Sun Qiang had passed to them weren't too thick, and the words on them numbered fewer than a typical manual as well. Yet, every single word written on them was deeply meaningful, directing them towards the very essence of poison art itself!
If they were to cultivate according to it, it could be foreseen that both their mastery of poison and cultivation would swiftly improve, granting them far greater prowess than before!
Even without achieving a breakthrough, their fighting prowess would soar by at least two or three times easily!
"Thank you, founder, for bestowing us with these cultivation techniques!" Agitated, the poison masters began kneeling on the floor and kowtowing deeply to Elder Sun Qiang.
With these cultivation techniques, they would no longer have to go through the trouble to search for all kinds of venomous worms and lethal poison, or even commit depraved acts against their conscience!
"It's out of the kindness of Hall Master Xing's heart that you all are allowed to join the Combat Master Hall, so I hope that you will heed his commands in the future. Don't let your emotions get the better of you when it comes to dealing with official matters, or else, even I won't be able to save you!" Zhang Xuan said with a stern expression on his face.
The crowd nodded.
As formidable as poison masters were in group battles, they were still insufficient to go up against the powerful combat masters.
Not only did combat masters wield extraordinary fighting prowess, more importantly, they had also tempered their physical bodies in many ways, granting them considerably immunity to most forces of nature, and this included poison as well... If a poison master were to face a combat master of the same cultivation realm, it was likely that the poison master would be killed even before he had a chance to utilize his poison.
Even if the poison master were to set up a trap in advance, it was also likely that the combat master would be able to push himself to slay the poison master before succumbing to the poison.
"Alright. After memorizing the content on the manuals, burn them. I'm sure that you understand the significance of these cultivation techniques, so I hope that they won't be passed them down to anyone else without my permission." Zhang Xuan instructed.
"Yes!" The crowd nodded.
Even though it was just a simplified version of the Heaven's Path Poison Art, it was still an astounding power to behold.
While Zhang Xuan was still busy convincing the poison masters, Hall Master Xing and Wu shi were standing outside the underground prison.
"Wu shi, how do you intend to account the matter of the Combat Master Hall accepting the poison masters to the Master Teacher Pavilion?" Hall Master Xing asked with a frown.
He had never intended to accept the request, but since Wu shi had spoken up in the stead of the poison masters, he eventually relented.
While his fighting prowess far surpassed the other party, admittedly, his ability to assess situations was still lacking as compared to the latter. After all, their responsibilities differed significantly from one another.
As the head of the Combat Master Hall, his responsibility lay in training combat masters and preparing them for war whereas Wu shi, as the vice head of the Master Teacher Pavilion, was in charge of maintaining the regional security and order.
And for that purpose, Wu shi had to be keen in assessing situations.
"Do you feel that Principal Zhang is bringing trouble to your Combat Master Hall?" Hearing Hall Master Xing's question, Wu shi shook his head and turned to him.
"This…" Having his thoughts pointed out so directly, Hall Master Xing couldn't help but shake his head awkwardly.
Those were indeed his thoughts.
Poison masters were known to be an individualistic and eccentric bunch, and it went without saying that it wouldn't be easy to manage such a group. If they were to join the Combat Master Hall, wouldn't it just erode the order he had established with great difficulty in the Combat Master Hall?
"It looks like you didn't understand Principal Zhang's true intentions! He's doing this for the sake of the Combat Master Hall and mankind!" Wu shi shook his head and sighed deeply.
"He's doing this for the sake of the Combat Master Hall and mankind?" A confused expression surfaced on Hall Master Xing's face. Wu shi's words were too deep for him to comprehend.
Those fellows were nothing but a huge trouble, so how could this be for the welfare of the Combat Master Hall?
"Hai, I knew that you wouldn't understand." A helpless smile flashed across Wu shi's face as he looked meaningfully into the distance, reminiscent of a wise elder who had seen through the world. "Let me ask you this then. How do you intend to deal with those poison masters? Will you imprison them, or will you kill them?"
"This…" Hall Master Xing was caught off guard by the question. He had to take a moment to contemplate over the matter before he was able to respond, "Those poison masters haven't erred or harmed anyone, so why do we have to imprison or kill them?"
The Master Teacher Pavilion aimed to lead mankind through virtue, not through tyranny. Naturally, they couldn't just punish an innocent bunch just because of their affiliation to the Poison Hall.
Not to mention, in the very first place, the poison masters were the victims of this incident as well! Given such, how could they possibly still harden their hearts to imprison or kill them? That would truly be going against their conscience!
"Indeed. We can't imprison or kill them. But their Poison Hall branch has been exposed and destroyed, so they can't return to it anymore. Are you certain that it would be safe to have so many powerful poison masters scattered throughout Qingyuan Empire?" Wu shi asked.
"This…" Hall Master Xing fell silent at those words.
It was easy to deal with the poison masters when they were gathered together as a group, but once they were to disperse and blend in with the countless civilians of Qingyuan Empire, it would be nigh impossible to find them anymore.
If those poison masters were to choose to harm others, their incredible mastery in poison would make it extremely difficult to trace the case to them. And even if they were to find the murderer later on, many lives would have already been lost then.
"If we could bring them into the Combat Master Hall, that would be effectively limiting their area of activity and preventing a catastrophe from happening. In essence, this is similar to a house arrest, but with a much better sounding name. Not only is it not detrimental to our reputation, it'll also display the magnanimity of the Master Teacher Pavilion. Truly two birds with a stone!"
"This…" Hall Master Xing widened his eyes in astonishment, unable to speak a word.
Upon hearing the other party's analysis, he realized that that was indeed the case.
If the poison masters were to join the Combat Master Hall, they would be bound by its rules as well. Naturally, they wouldn't be able to maintain the carefree lifestyle that they had previously. That would effectively limit their area of activity to Qingyuan City, thus preventing them from committing any harm out there.
"This is only the first aim behind Principal Zhang's suggestion. As for the second, I can tell you with certainty that he's doing it with the welfare of your Combat Master Hall in mind!" Wu shi said.
"You should still remember the fight against the Otherworldly Demonic Tribe twenty years ago, right?"
"Of course!" Hall Master Xing replied gravely.
Back then, the Qingtian Lineage had dispatched all of their forces to encircle the Combat Master Hall, and a bitter fight ensued. The Combat Master Hall had suffered great casualties in that battle, and even Hall Master Xing himself had nearly lost his life.
If not for Elder Qi, he wouldn't have been around anymore.
"Even though the Otherworldly Demons sprung a surprise attack, their forces were still insufficient to deal with the powerful forces of the Combat Master Hall. Yet, the Combat Master Hall still ended up being nearly forced into a corner... The reason for it should still be fresh in your mind." Recalling the tragedy back then, Wu shi's face turned grim as well.
The Otherworldly Demons had come prepared, but the defenses Combat Master Hall had never fallen lax. They were well-prepared to face the Otherworldly Demons, and under normal circumstances, even if the Otherworldly Demons had dispatched all of their elites into the assault, with the incredible might wielded by the combat masters, the battle should have still ended in an easy victory for the combat masters. There wasn't even any need for the Master Teacher Pavilion and the Qingyuan Empire's military to come into the picture...
And yet, despite the three powers making a move, the outcome was still a narrow and tragic victory!
It was due to that battle that Qingyuan Empire declined to become the weakest one of the Eight Great Conferred Empire. Even twenty years weren't sufficient for it to recover from the impact back then.
"It's due to the Supreme Scattering Breeze Powder!" Hall Master Xing clenched his fists tightly together.
Back then, their combat masters were unknowingly afflicted with a potent poison known as the Supreme Scattering Breeze Powder, and the poison depleted their combat masters of their fighting prowess. This opened up a huge opening for the Otherworldly Demons to strike!
Even he wasn't spared from the effects of the Supreme Scattering Breeze Powder.
This matter had been a huge thorn in his heart, and even the passing of twenty years wasn't sufficient for him to let go of it.
"Indeed. That poison drifted with the wind, and odorless and colorless, it was inevitable that no one noticed a thing. Even I hadn't expected them to have such a hand either. It was thanks to the keen-eyed Vice Pavilion Master Tian noticing it that the losses of the Master Teacher Pavilion were minimized. Due to that matter, he gained great prestige in the Master Teacher Pavilion and soared through the ranks!" Wu shi nodded.
"It's probably due to the matter that Principal Zhang wishes to bring the poison masters into the Combat Master Hall. Firstly, with the sharp senses of the poison masters to poison, they would be able to uncover any poison used by the enemy ahead of time, thus preventing such tragedy from happening again. Secondly, the creation of a Poison Division could also serve to further temper the combat master's immunity to poison. This way, even if the Otherworldly Demons were to resort to the same means once more, the Combat Master Hall wouldn't be as helpless as it was back then…"
"This…" Hall Master Xing was taken aback.
With the inclusion of poison masters into their ranks, even if they were to encounter the same matter as they did twenty years ago, they wouldn't be as powerless as they were back then.
Hall Master Xing contemplated for a while, and the more he thought about it, the more convinced he was that there was no drawback from bringing the poison masters into the Combat Master Hall. Swallowing a mouthful of saliva, he turned to Wu shi, and it took him a brief moment of hesitation before he could bring himself to ask, "Did Principal Zhang... really see this far ahead?"
These were all factors that he had never considered before. Despite the other party's severely injured state, he still managed to analyze so deeply into this matter... Was this for real?
"Principal Zhang's wisdom is not something the likes of us can fathom. It also took me a long moment of contemplation after hearing his request before realization struck me!" Wu shi replied meaningfully.
Initially, he also didn't think that the matter was really feasible either. However, when he tried to analyze deeper into the matter, he astonishingly realized that the potential benefits severely outweighed the drawbacks. This was truly a decision that only those of great wisdom would be able to come up with!
Hall Master Xing ran through the situation in his head once more, and his admiration for Principal Zhang couldn't help but deepen further. Impressed, he remarked, "Principal Zhang is truly a living sage!"