Legends from the world of mortals speak of cultivators living free and unfettered lives. The reality, however, was that this is not always the case; this applied to only two specific kinds of cultivators.
One type had an abundance of cultivation resources and wealth. On top of practicing their Qi fluctuations and spiritual skills, each day was filled with exchanging pleasantries between friends, brewing wine and tea, and enjoying the day's sunrise and sunset. This type was exempt from any worldly worries.
The other included those who had given up while on the path of immortality. For them, resources were extremely hard to find and they fully understood that there was no way they could advance any further.
They would either waste their days sleeping or wander into the forests and mountains, hoping to find caves filled with treasures or a master cultivator who could take them in as a disciple -- all so they could continue to live their lives freely into old age.
Aside from these two types of cultivators who had such leisurely days, everyone's life at the sect was intense and busy.
Resources were everything in the beginning stages of cultivation. With them, it was possible to advance by leaps and bounds; without them, a cultivator would be forever stuck, unable to move even an inch forward.
The plump Taoist Yu never gave up on hope. He would run errands all day long just to earn the pittance of Spirit Stones offered to him, but to Yu this was his way of life. He enjoyed having his days filled with purpose, even if at the end of the day it would have made no real difference.
Fang Xing evaluated and came to understand this about Yu.
Whatever Yu's purpose was, Fang Xing would not challenge his delusions of one day achieving something noteworthy; without Yu's imaginary bubble -- without any glimpse of hope -- who knew what would become of him?
Once he had befriended Fang Xing, Yu -- of all people -- had become extremely warm-hearted and zealous. He would voluntarily pay the silvers required for Fang Xing's meals every month, and he always patiently reminded Fang Xing not to waste his days lazing about.
"On top of some silvers, there are other benefits too. Where do you think I get the money for your meals each month? Of course, most importantly, you can earn another Spirit Stone every three months! That is practically double the income of a regular D-Ranked disciple! Shidi Fang, are you sure you're not moved by this? Don't block your ears…."
As they drank, Yu talked endlessly in an effort to convince Fang Xing to join him at the Miscellaneous Department. In Yu's mind, Fang Xing had already become a loafer by sleeping and eating all day long.
"Say it again and I can't promise I won't kick you out.…" Fang Xing covered his ears, itching to send Yu flying again.
'I have more than thirty Spirit Stones all to myself; why should I run errands for them? Now, if only there were more hours in a day so I could practice more…' Of course, no one else needed to know any of this.
"Fine, I'll stop…" Yu relented with a concerned expression, "but what are you going to do about your resources?"
Fang Xing just rolled his eyes. "Isn't it almost time to get another Spirit Stone from the sect's distributions?"
"One Stone every three months, how could that be enough! Plus, who knows whose hands it'll actually end up in…"
'So having two every three months would be enough?' Fang Xing thought to himself, giving Yu a withering glance.
Seeing that Yu still had more to say, Fang Xing interrupted. "Ok. That's enough. I don't want to go to your Miscellaneous Department. Remember the last time you treated them to wine? Remember how they acted all holier-than-thou? None of them even had a decent cultivation level, either! I'm not going to lick their boots like you do; the only reason I would go there would be to smash that place into pieces!"
Despite Fang Xing's young age, his temper was not to be taken lightly; unable to try to reason with him further, Yu's only option was to agree. However, he was still reluctant to give up on Fang Xing, causing him to mumble to himself, "Yeah, but you still need to earn some Spirit Stones somehow…"
Fang Xing gave a secretive laugh after overhearing Yu's final remark. "I'll show you how I earn Spirit Stones one of these days!"
The day that all the disciples had been waiting for had finally arrived: the day of the Spirit Stone distribution. This time in particular included the D-Ranked disciples that were finally allowed to receive their Stone after their three-month wait.
The C-Ranked disciples received one Stone every second month, B-Ranked would receive one every month, and the A-Ranked would be given two every month. The outer court was divided into these four kinds of disciples based on their zi'zhi, and although the distribution occurred on the fifteenth day of each month, only those of the eligible rank would be allowed to collect.
"Shidi Fang, are you awake yet?" Yu arrived in front of Fang Xing's cottage in the early morning, planning to take him to collect their Spirit Stone from the sect.
"Argh! What's with all this noise so early in the morning!" Still half asleep, Fang Xing was clearly in a bad mood. He had only just now gone to bed after a long night practicing Qi and breathing exercises.
"Oh my, wake up now, Shidi Fang Xing! The earlier we go, the less likely things are going to happen." After throwing Fang Xing's robe over his head, Yu dragged the tired boy out the door.
The monthly Spirit Stone distributions were conducted at the Qing-Mu Hall around three miles away and -- although the sun had yet to rise -- the path to the hall was already filled with people heading towards the same destination.
Long queues could be seen at the Qing-Mu Hall even at this time of day. There were four lines, with only the leftmost -- the line for the A-Ranked disciples -- nearly empty. Within the thousands of outer court disciples, only a dozen were of the highest rank and they did not need to come early at all. Inside a small pavilion, an elderly, silver-haired man was speaking to an A-Ranked disciple while slowly fanning his palm-leaf fan.
The second line from the left was for the B-Ranked disciples. There was only a handful of them present at the moment, and all of them were in rather high spirits. In comparison to the A-Rank, the B-Rank had a good hundred disciples, and though they might have been inferior to the highest of ranks, they were no doubt extremely talented when compared against those in the C and D ranks.
The C-Ranked disciples had been allocated to the third line and several dozen had already queued up for their Spirit Stones with more still eagerly joining. Though they all appeared to be less arrogant than the B-Ranked disciples overall, the looks they gave towards the rightmost line were filled with contempt and ridicule.
Naturally, the D-Rank was the worst one within the sect. With over one hundred of the total six hundred disciples already present in the hall, their queue stretched all the way down to the stone staircases. Each and every one of these people also appeared to be excited, bobbing their heads up and down to see if their place in line had moved forward or not.
No one in this queue had the guts to look back at the C-Ranked disciples sneering their way; it was obvious that the D-Ranked disciples felt a sense of inferiority towards them.
Essentially, the higher ranks looked down on the lower ranks. A-Ranked disciples looked down on everyone, B-Ranked disciples looked down on the C and D ranks, C-Ranked disciples looked down on the D-Ranks, and those within the D-Rank... looked down on themselves.
Of course, as was the case with everything in this world, there were exceptions. Disciples with a wealthy clan would have enough money to buy their own Spirit Stones, and some of them may even be better off than those in the A-Rank were.
Those exceptionally wealthy disciples were the least likely to be here early, especially for the sake of only a Spirit Stone or two. To them, it didn't make much of a difference at all.
Feeling bored, Fang Xing stood lazily in the line with the other D-Ranked disciples until he noticed someone sneering at him from the C-Ranked queue. "If you keep staring this way, I'll dig out your eyes!"
The disciple was of a feeble stature and looked more like a scholar than a disciple of the sect. After seeing Fang Xing being squeezed between all of these tall people -- particularly behind a rather plump man that made the boy seem even smaller -- the man couldn't help but find the sight amusing.
Who would have thought that this little brat had such a temperament? With only one look, Fang Xing began to verbally lash out at him like a shrew.
Though the C-Ranked disciple was indeed frail, he had always looked down on those in the D-Rank. He might have allowed this to slide if it was from someone else, but a kid in a lower rank than himself? There was no way he was going to let this go. "Humph! A D-Ranked disciple. How impetuous, such poor manners!"
"Hey you sissy, what did you say?" A loud shout drew everyone's attention. Fang Xing had always had a dislike for people like this.
"Who did you just call a sissy?" the feeble disciple angrily asked, his face growing red.
"Who do you think? Sissy! You d*ckless eunuch!"
"You're a sect disciple, too; why would you use such vulgar words?" the feeble disciple questioned again, growing uneasy.
"Vulgar like your mom! Sissy!"
The feeble disciple stomped his foot, pointing his finger at Fang Xing. "Such... disrespect!"
Fang Xing's cursing and scolding skills may have even surpassed two of those matchmakers in the countryside combined. Back in Guiyan Valley, Fang Xing had once climbed to the top of a tree before splashing his verbal attacks on four brothers until they were unable to respond. It had enraged the brothers so much that they were determined to cut down the tree in order to get at Fang Xing.
Faced with a man as inarticulate as this, Fang Xing found this as easy as drinking a glass of water.
 Matchmakers: Chinese matchmakers are stereotyped in Chinese culture to be loud, nosy and very straight forward in their language usage. This is in particular true for those from the countryside due to a lack of education.