That was the stele for the fourth volume of spirit beasts, and also the ninth stele that had the Aquarius symbol appear in first place.
Countless cheering and shouting sound suddenly resounded throughout the crowd.
“Haha! Sister Zhou did it, I told you that Sister Zhou was going to become an unprecedented champion on the steles!”
“Zhou Xinqi truly is a talented girl who possesses the flora spirit pulse! I bet she will have a limitless future!”
“Sister Zhou, we’re expecting that next time, you will be the first one to achieve the top-ranking on ten steles, and sound the Spirit River Bell, shocking the entire sect!”
The surrounding outer sect disciples in the Ten Thousand Medicine Pavilion let out cheers one after another. Even though there were those who spread rude remarks while wearing unsightly expressions, their voices were drowned out by the others. In the eyes of these outer sect disciples, Zhou Xinqi’s status was like the sun during daytime. All of Scented Cloud Peak’s outer sect disciples were now seeing her as the representative of the Scented Cloud Mountain.
Zhou Xinqi faintly smiled. Although she had always been cold and detached, seeing all these outer sect disciples cheering for her, she couldn’t help but feel proud of herself. Seeing her smile, all the outer sect disciples cheered even louder.
Bai Xiaochun was also standing in the crowd and looking at Zhou Xinqi with admiration. He silently sighed, then raised his head and took a glance at the stele for the first volume of herbs. After which, he suddenly widened his eyes. After being stunned for a while, he hurriedly took out the jade tablet of the first volume of herbs, and took a closer look at it. He found that apart from the ten thousand herbs of the first volume, there were another ten thousand herbs. He stuck his chest out and raised his head in surprise, his face filled with pride.
He was stunned because he saw that on the stele for the first volume of herbs, a good-looking turtle was now positioned right above the Aquarius symbol. No matter how he looked at the stele, Bai Xiaochun felt extremely satisfied.
Earlier, he intended to leave. However, he now stood in the crowd, trying very hard to hold in his excitement, prepararing for the surrounding people to cheer and hail him. Sadly, after waiting for a while, everyone’s attention was still on Zhou Xinqi. No one noticed the change on the stele for the first volume of herbs, even when the people surrounding Zhou Xinqi were starting to to disperse.
Seeing this, Bai Xiaochun was overcome by anxiety and suddenly shouted.
“Look! First place on the first volume of herbs’ stele is no longer Sister Zhou’s anymore! Somebody else took it! So strange. Such a beautiful turtle, who drew it?!”
Despite the sounds of cheering and hailing, Bai Xiaochun’s shrill and high-pitched voice was easily heard. Especially because of its shocking content, many people subconsciously looked at the stele. Soon after, all of their expressions changed, and they immediately exclaimed.
Thus, more and more people heard the exclamations and looked at the stele. All of them instantly quivered when they saw the stele and showed disbelieving expressions. Soon, everyone who was on the scene had noticed the change on the stele for the first volume of herbs.
“The…the… the first stele…, someone has actually surpassed Sister Zhou on the first stele!”
“How can this be?! My God! There’s actually someone who could surpass Sister Zhou! That turtle is incomparably ugly! Who is this person?!”
“Surprisingly, there are people who can compete with Sister Zhou on the subject of herbs. Something big has happened! This time, Sister Zhou was unable to achieve the top-ranking on nine steles. She is still only the first for eight!”
The surrounding people instantly fell into an uproar. Their discussions were even louder than the cheers from before. After all, no one could have predicted this, so everyone found this extremely shocking.
In the crowd, Bai Xiaochun was so proud of himself that a smile almost bloomed. However, he was worried that if he admitted to beating Zhou Xinqi, no one would believe him. Therefore, he did his best to keep himself from laughing out loud. However, he shouted out in shock like the others from time to time. His voice especially noticeable.
Even Bai Xiaochun himself had never thought that he would achieve first place.
At this moment, Zhou Xinqi, who was turning around and preparing to leave, suddenly stopped when she heard the cries of the surrounding people. She then turned around and saw the stele for the first volume of herbs, as well as the turtle which was now positioned at the top.
She slightly frowned before relaxing her eyebrows again, seemingly disinterested in this change. In her thoughts, the top place on the stele for the first volume of herbs was achieved when she had just become an outer disciple; she hadn’t given her all for this spot back then, not to mention that right now, she was completely different from years ago.
“Good, it seems that a talented disciple has emerged from our sect.” she said lightly in a condescending voice as her body suddenly flashed, darting towards the stele for the first volume of herbs.
She thought that she had just barely been surpassed, and all she need to do to regain that position was simply put in a little more effort.
Once she moved, all of the surrounding outer sect disciples grew excited. They turned around and fixed their eyes on her. When they saw that Zhou Xinqi walk into the cabin under the stele for the first volume of herbs, their eyes were instantly filled with anticipation.
“Sister Zhou is going to take her first place back. The young Brother who has drawn the turtle is good, but, it’s such a shame that he can only hold the first place for the time it takes a stick of incense to burn.
“That’s true. This young Brother can definitely be considered as genius in herbs, but he just had to encounter Sister Zhou. It can only be considered his bad luck.”
Hearing the words of the surrounding disciples, Bai Xiaochun became nervous. On one hand, he didn’t have enough time to match all the pieces together. On the other hand, Zhou Xinqi was so famous, that even he himself, felt that he belonged in second place.
“It’s fine, I’ll just take the second place. Men shouldn’t fight against women.” Bai Xiaochun consoled himself and thought about leaving. However, he was unwilling to leave like this, so he stood still, anxiously waiting for what was about to happen next.
Soon, the time it took to burn a stick of incense had passed, but the ranking on the stele didn’t change. Bai Xiaochun’s turtle was still on top. Zhou Xinqi walked out of the cabin with an indifferent face. She was hundred percent confident about taking the first place back. This time, she had used eighty percent of her abilities and completed a whole four thousand herbs amongst the ten thousand.
In her eyes, this was more than enough to surpass that unknown talented disciple.
However, when she walked out of the cabin, she didn’t hear a thing. When she looked at the crowd, she found that they had strange expressions on their faces, and quite a lot of them were staring in disbelief.
Zhou Xinqi stopped, abruptly raised her head, and looked at the stele. She saw that her Aquarius symbol was still beneath the turtle, which looked uglier the more she stared at it.
The entire area was dead silent and every disciple, including Bai Xiaochun was stunned. Soon after, Bai Xiaochun looked at Zhou Xinqi in surprise, then felt that this girl was not only pretty, but also…not as frightening as he thought.
Zhou Xinqi’s pupils shrank slightly, before quickly returning to normal.
“This person is indeed talented with herbs. I’m now a bit curious about him.” said Zhou Xinqi as she turned her body around in a flash and under everyone’s stares, unexpectedly walked into the cabin once again.
This time, Bai Xiaochun did not even consider leaving. He stood in the crowd eagerly awaiting the results. As for the other outer sect disciples, they had stopped talking loudly, instead, they had started discussing in hushed tones. Everyone who saw this unprecedented occurrence could not believe their eyes.
As they looked at the turtle, they began to feel that it was mysterious. After the time it took for a stick of incense to burn, this sense of mystery intensified as they saw Zhou Xinqi walk out of the cabin again.
The turtle…was still on the top!
“My god! Who is this?!” Bai Xiaochun widely popped out his eyes and shouted, his shrill voice immediately intensified the surrounding disciple’s excitement.
“Sister Zhou failed to surpass this person twice, how is this possible?! How many herbs did this person complete?!”
“Did anyone see which Brother went in and took the assessment?”
The silent crowd was finally unable to supress their excitement, and flew into a frenzy. Zhou Xinqi stood under the stele with a frown on her face. She had done her best just now and completed nearly six thousand herbs. However, she never thought that even after this, she would still be below that turtle.
She narrowed her eyes, coldly snorted, then turned around and walked into that cabin once again, her eyes filled with determination.
After the time it took for an incense stick to burn, Zhou Xinqi walked out with an extremely serious expression. She then turned around and walked in again. Another stick of incense later, she walked out once more, her face was pale but still filled with diligence and competitiveness. Then, she turned around again.
One time, two times, three times, four times…
All the other cultivators' breaths grew heavier with each of Zhou Xinqi’s continuous assessments, until finally, the crowd fell completely silent again.
Simply because, the meaning of this scene was too terrifying. They couldn’t even imagine how many herbs the person, who had drawn the turtle, had completed, that Zhou Xinqi couldn’t surpass him no matter how hard she tried.
At this moment, the turtle had left an extremely strong impression on the mind of everyone watching this.
Especially when they saw Zhou Xinqi walk out again, her pretty eyes filled with streaks of blood. Everyone couldn’t help but deeply gasp in shock.
In the crowd, Bai Xiaochun could only cough dryly. He couldn’t tell anyone that he was the one who took the first place. He felt like a cat had been scratching inside his heart, and could only silently cheer in his head.
(Ed note: “...felt like a cat had been scratching inside his heart…’ means that Bai Xiaochun really wanted to do something but knows that he shouldn't)
“No, I can’t stand this. One day, I will find a chance to have the attentions of hundreds of thousands of people, and to tell everyone that the first place of the stele for the first volume of herb is I, Bai Xiaochun!” Bai Xiaochun murmured. He lazily yawned, looked at the sky which was turning dark, and then made a lonely master look.
“I, Bai Xiaochun, can make Zhou Xinqi vanish with only a flick of my finger…” said Bai Xiaochun while waving his sleeve. Afterwards, he turned around and proudly walked out of the crowd, before gradually disappearing.
While Bai Xiaochun walked away, Zhou Xinqi stood under the stele, gritted her teeth and walked into the cabin again. She was very determined…
Zhou Xinqi kept trying until the bright moon rose. Her face was full of exhaustion as she stared at the turtle; she never thought that this kind of thing would happen to her. Then, she walked away in silence.
After she left, the surrounding people followed suit. That night, the legend of the turtle swept through the entire Scented Cloud Peak.
Everyone thought that the matter had concluded. However, after the sun rose on the next day, the disciples in the Ten Thousand Medicine Pavilion saw, to their surprise, Zhou Xinqi continuously challenging the record. She kept rushing into the cabin under the first stele, coming out, failing, and challenging it once again.
One day, two days, three days… for three whole days, Zhou Xinqi continued in this manner. This pushed the discussions about the mysterious turtle in Scented Cloud Mountain to new heights.
Everyone had heard about the mysterious turtle and Zhou Xinqi’s assessments, even some inner sect disciples.
Seven days later, Zhou Xinqi silently stood under the stele staring at the turtle, her eyes dim for the very first time. During the past seven days, she had challenged the record with everything that she had, performing even better than what she had previously expected, reaching seventy thousand herbs. However, she still failed to surpass this mysterious disciple.
“Who the hell are you?!” Zhou Xinqi murmured. She took a deep breath, gnashed her teeth, turned around, and stopped challenging the test. That turtle had deeply engraved itself in her mind, so much that she couldn’t stop thinking about it.