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The next day, when the Head Priest was facing the Archers Guild’s representative, he spoke one indifferent phrase: problems between youths are best handled by youths.
Thin clouds and a light breeze.
This kind of thing spread through the upper echelons very quickly. The temple was being unusually forceful and aroused an amount of suspicion that wasn’t small.
To the Engraving Masters Guild President Sa Mu Andun and the Magistrate Sa La, such disturbance was a good thing, as the temple had been far too crazy lately.
“Tuo Ma Si’s advancement to the Red-Robed Head Priest has been destroyed,” Sa Mu Andun said in a very pleased manner.
Sa La was the same, as no Magistrate would wish for there to be a Red-Robed Head Priest with a strong influence. “What Tuo Ma Si is doing has the flavour of smashing a broken pot[1. 破罐子破摔 meaning to not fix up an error and instead making it worse].”
“Everyone’s disappointment is inevitable, and since we are all friends we should empathize a bit.”
“Hehe, that’s true, and it is rumored that they are tossing some kind of Spring Festival thing where they are spending money and strength. They have even sent out pamphlets.”
“Speaking truthfully, that fellow Tuo Ma Si is also an honest person, and seeing that this time’s provocation was not small, the amount of money they had won this time perhaps will need to be thrown out,” Sa Mu Andun said, his voice holding regret.
“The temple’s power has decayed too much. Everything needs to be done through a person’s own qualifications. When people rely on connections, it encourages struggle between the factions, so it is no wonder that talents are being suppressed,” Sa La sighed.
Just a short time ago, the temple had unified everyone under the heavens, yet now they could not stand atop a third of the world. In name, they were the highest representative, but in reality the name remained while the truth was gone. This was especially so when it came to taxes, as many powers were more willing to give to the Magistrate rather than contribute it to the temple; at best the temple received some out of only a bit of goodwill since the temple’s subordinate industries were bad for numerous reasons. They were struggling at death’s door: they had no money, their words held little weight, and in this day and age if The Pope wished to reward someone, there were very few tangible rewards and they could only bestow some glory or something similar.
“Balance is the most important. Sire Magistrate can actually advise President Si Danfu to calm down for now and let the business between children be sorted out by children.”
“This is also true. For an adult to appear on the stage of a child’s fight is too out of place.”
Although the two’s mood seemed rather good, in actuality, the one with the best mood was Sa La now that Tuo Ma Si could not become the Red-Robed Head Priest anymore and would not be able to influence him much. Sa Mu Andun, however, still had a bit of a headache, as the potential of the Ye Lu Samo Theocratic Engraving Method was limitless. That grand occasion of lining up was something that was never seen before and—even though the Spirit Engraving Masters Guild entrance was not desolate—in his heart he was still jealous to death. But Sa La took Sa Mu Andun’s face into account and did not provoke him.
This had also become Ye Lu Samo’s focus for ridicule. Originally, the Archers Guild wanted to use this to increase their prestige and threaten the temple a bit, but who would have thought that after such an event had occurred, the first response from those that upheld justice—the Magistrate and the Spirit Engraving Masters Guild—would be to just stand by and watch the fires burn?
Si Tanfu could only accept it; alone, the Archers Guild did not truly dare to challenge the temple. Si Tanfu had actually added his own schemes to the situation and had hoped to obtain some kind of Engraving benefits from the temple, but who would have thought that his plans would go up in smoke[2. 碰一鼻子灰 to end up with their nose covered in soot]?
However, what the three powers did not know was that ever-small and contradictory mistake they made would create a subtle change in the hearts of people.
The temple that seemed neither amicable nor angry had such a firm face.
Ye Lu Samo Temple’s Spirit Engraving was as prosperous as before. Including the lessons that had been taught through this period, Ma Lu and a few more outstanding Priests could already start Engraving the little buckler, and when the little buckler made its appearance again, it had once more invited a tide of people to line up for Engraving.
Even though it only had 1~5 attribute value, this was still enough to make the warriors unceasingly emotionally stirred. For normal equipment, this was already counted as full attributes, and even for 2~6, it was a miracle and not something that could be seen often. A single outstanding Engraving would take a lot out of an Engraving Priest, and it was rumored that even Head Priest Tuo Ma Si had not fully recovered.
The three people who were in possession of the little buckler once again greatly incensed the Engraving Masters Guild. The guild was also researching it, but they currently did not have a sample. There were even people from the Engraving Masters Guild lining up, since if they could obtain a sample, they could then make a copy.
The downside was that the little buckler had already made a disturbance throughout the Holy Province, and if the Engraving Masters Guild really did create it, it would be easy to tell it was an imitation. Unless it was unavoidable, they would not want to go through such an embarrassing thing; to imitate someone was to admit that you were not good enough. The Engraving Masters Guild wanted to use the other’s small shield as the foundation to create an even better one.
Zou Liang’s preparations for the Spring Festival celebration were progressing like a wildfire. Ai Wei Er’s side was definitely participating, and at the same time they tossed in funds to lighten a portion of the temple’s burden.
In truth, Zou Liang understood very well that the results would definitely be better than imagined and Ai Wei Er would definitely earn big. Since they were his people, Zou Liang would not bicker about this, and only Ai Wei Er had this kind of farsightedness.
It was like Shi Yuzhu[3. A person famous for a scandal in real life] with his sleeping pills[4. At least I think they were. They are called 脑白金 in Chinese if you want to search it up]. He had tricked thousands and even up to ten thousands of people, and all it had relied on was a mass bombardment of advertisements. In this generation without any advertising, any random kind would have unimaginable results.
The large plaza in front of the temple also had a dance stage being constructed. This kind of thing that was new and strange would cause the beastmen to have great curiosity, as they did not know what the temple was planning.
To take the next step and attract visitors, a week after Zou Liang had sent out the announcement he also threw out another large bomb: in the Spring Festival, they would pick out one fortunate person who would receive a free opportunity for Spirit Engraving that lasted for a year but was limited to the winner.
This again caused a large tremor, and at the temple’s entrance appeared a few batches of the occupations lining up. Since Engraving Masters—especially those that were creating the little buckler—could not work if they were too tired, hearing that they could only do one Engraving every three days increased the scarcity even more.
Zou Liang was very pleased by the current degree of enthusiasm, but it was still impossible to directly convert it into income. If they wanted the superiors to view it as important, merely increasing the contributions was not enough and; it had to be more than the other cities, especially the one of the bastard that had been preselected, and only if the others were exceeded by a great amount would it work. No matter what advantage the preselected candidate had, it remained to be seen how these people would deal with this, and this wasn’t even factoring in that Zou Liang’s cheap master held pretty good standings with Sibalu and how when it came to the preselection, Sibalu was a bit embarrassed since Tuo Ma Si was one of his own. As soon as there was something good, Tuo Ma Si had hurried over from thousands of miles which was a reflection of good faith; if it hadn’t simply been that there wasn’t any chance for success, Sibalu would not have desired to cool his followers’ hearts.
What they needed now was “influence”!
“Ma Lu, which tribe right now has contributed the most?”
“The Rui Bo Te tribe, but their advantage is not great. Second place is the Lan Di family, and third place is the Ke Te family, however the distance has not separated them far from the places behind them.”
“Hehe, that kid Lan Di sure is tactful.”
But Zou Liang’s main concern was not them, as he wanted to heavily excavate the other powers’ money. Nannies of bears, a person couldn’t fill their pockets with their own people’s money.
“How is the Shadow Hunters Guild?”
“They’re at eighth place.”
“F**k, that old man Leinuo really does not have enough power! He wants us to look after him with only this much? Go, send people to tell them that if the Shadow Hunters Guild cannot enter the top three, then their predetermined place will be gone!”
Tuo Ma Si and Leinuo had an initial agreement to give the Shadow Hunters Guild a few predetermined places, which would assist in improving the Shadow Hunters Guild prestige. There was no need to line up, and this would be a massive benefit for Shadow Hunters, not to mention that it would be a glory in itself.
“Priest Ya Se, this…… probably isn’t too good.” Ma Lu was a bit hesitant, as the temple had never been so “imposing” before and was scared of offending others.
“Ma Lu, don’t be scared of these weeds blowing in the wind. It’s said that after a passing a village, there will no longer be the same shops, and these people are all like donkeys; they’re too stubborn to follow your lead and only do so after being whipped.”
It could be said that Zou Liang had sussed everything out. The temple’s stature had declined through these years, and coupled with the fact The People’s tactics had been mainly to retain balance, the result was that the temple had grown more and more vulnerable. When a person was kind, they would be cheated, and how could one be lenient when in battle!
“Okay, I will go soon.”
“You don’t need to go, as you’re also an influential Priest and a future High Priest, so this kind of thing can be settled by sending others. You need to be callous, indifferent, and after throwing down your matter, you leave; you cannot give them face!”
Ma Lu’s spine also straightened. As a believer of the Beast God, he had always conducted himself with his head bowed, and it was a seldom opportunity that he could have his head raised and chest out. How could he not be overjoyed?