From the moment the girl opened her lips to read the names on the list, she constantly kept that bright smile on her face.
However, all the participants standing within the hall were taken aback by the sudden development.
Everyone made a guess on who will make it onto the qualifying list. Wang Lu would definitely have been first, followed by Hai Yun Fan and then either Zhu Qin or Wang Zhong. But for the expected top two candidates to fail was a shocker.
The two on the list, Zhu Qin and Wang Zhong, were not smiling. Instead, one was intensely pinching his arm, while the other abandoned all sense of sanity and just head-butted the tree, leaving the leaves and branches rattling.
Only Wen Bao, who was the first to be selected, naive and childlike still, suddenly clapped and laughed. “Well, I qualified!”
And then, failing to catch his breath, fainted.
Everyone else felt puzzled and curious, even the elders in the Mystic Cloud Hall. The qualifying list seemed too unreasonable and hard to believe. They thought that perhaps this was not the real list, and was another part of the additional trial? To test mental strength and endurance?
In an unfortunate twist of fate, and with a dash of luck, Wang Zhong somehow won the favour of the Head Elder! The elders all had equal status, so even if one or two elders showed special preference, it would not be significant. But if the Head Elder made a decision, and says that he sees great potential in Wang Zhong, it came as no surprise as to why he qualified.
Of course, the people outside of the hall knew nothing about the biased viewpoints held by the Spirit Blade Sect higher ups. They were still being troubled by whether the list was real or fake.
Of course, there were some who was not so naïve.
“Wang Lu, what do you make of it?”
Hai Yun Fan’s face became sullen as he raised his question.
The others may have thought that this was all a fluke, and that there was still hope. But Hai Yun Fan’s intuition told him that the list was real.
Wang Lu was equally baffled by this result.
“What is with this plot?! With such a rich story setup, but such an ending of tragedy for the main lead… have those elders gone senile?!”
Hearing his tone, Hai Yun Fan’s heart felt even heavier. Wang Lu’s words, no doubt confirmed his own intuition.
“Do I need to raise a formal complaint to protest, Brother Wang Lu? ”
“Not just protest, we should raise a military operation and get the media to publicise the whole incident and sway the minds of the public into a single force to crush this stupid sect! As the head of Anonymous, I shall point all 40 million followers to nag and badmouth it to death!”
” Wang Lu, calm down a little bit will you? ”
“Oh come on, it was just a joke,” Wang Lu gave Hai Yun Fan a calm smile,” You know, this is just right.”
“Little Hai, the scene we’re in right now is the climax of my tragic story. We are the leads in this tragic hero story. The more miserable we are now, the brighter our future! Not just failing this Celestial Gathering, when we went home, we will find our entire family killed, the family ancestral graves dug up, the women of the house gang raped! If that is the case, you and I am certainly bound for immortality and greatness!”
“Dear lord! Wang Lu, come to your senses!”
A sigh came from their side.
“This is really pitiful to see, Brother Wang Lu. With your carefree ways, you should not be so taken aback by this.”
Amused, Wang Lu turned and looked. “And you are? ”
“Da Ming Empire, Zhu Qin,” the young man introduced himself. “I was once taken care of by you in the Garden of Peaches.”
“Oh, I remember. You were the one who got his ass kicked by me back then.”
Zhu Qin was left tongue-tied. At that time, he befriended Wang Zhong, encouraging him to search his own route, though it was not quite moral to convince him to betray his former young master. But at that time, Wang Lu was at the very top, and way out of his league. Thus, he had to use Wang Zhong.
“I owe it completely to you that we were able to make it past the Frozen Wind Valley. I must truly thank you for all my accomplishments so far.”
Wang Lu chuckled.
“During the trial, everyone, including me, was only able to glance at your shadow, as we tried to keep up. Brother Wang Lu, to be honest, there is a lot of jealousy for you. Both of us came from the same Empire. I am the Crown Prince, and you are just a peasant, but during the trial, I could not compare to you at all.”
Wang Lu continued to chuckle.
“But the results are in, and while the results are truly unexpected, it just goes to show that the path to immortality is always filled with uncertainty. However, Wang Lu, in my mind, your brilliance is not dimmed in any way by this. So take it easy, victories and defeats are bread and butter in any fight. With your talent, is there a place where you cannot shine? Beyond the Spirit Blade Sect, there are countless other sects. This does not mean the end of our common path towards immortality. ”
Wang Lu continued to laugh like a maniac.
Zhu Qin really gave his all in his performance, but Wang Lu had seen thousands of shitty actors who could give a better performance than his.
“These are my humble words, just my own takeaways as a fellow participant in these trials. Brother Wang Lu, I hope you don’t get me wrong. ”
Wang Lu nodded. “The means justify the ends, eh? Don’t worry, I understand. ”
Zhu Qin frowned. He couldn’t help but reply, “Well, Brother Wang Lu, if you are unable to proceed along the Immortal Path in the future, why not consider a future as a court official? I hear you are highly educated as a scholar. Although I cannot inherit the throne in the future, but in matters like these, I could weigh in with my recommendation.”
Wang Lu smiled. “Are you trying to recruit subordinates? Oh, and if you could share your Dao Companion [TLN: similar to husband and wife, but with the cultivation aspect] with me, it would certainly appear more sincere. When that happens, I won’t mind working for you. How about it? Let me take a ride with your wife- it doesn’t matter if you’re too young for one now, I’ll just make a reservation for later then.”
Zhu Qin felt like he had been shit upon.
Just as all the attention were focused on the fiery exchange between Wang Lu and Zhu Qin, the young lady before the hall suddenly turned her head. She appeared to be listening to some whispers from the elders for a while and after replying “yes” a few times, she turned to Wang Lu and Hai Yun Fan.
“Urm … My teacher asked me to explain the reason for not selecting the two of you. Although the Spirit Blade Sect is not required to explain its decision, you are two very special. First, is his Royal Highness Hai Yun Fan. According to the elders’ analysis, your spirit base belongs to the Mellow Winds and Waters, a third-grade spirit base. Based on qualifications alone, you have already met the requirements of the Ethereal Peak, and your temperament and perception are far better tha–”
Hai Yunfan interjected, “If that is the case, then why did I get disqualified?! Was it because the others are better than me? Or there is a lack of space within the Sect? ”
The girl hesitated, and then simply got angry and stamped her feet. “Don’t interrupt me! It was so hard to remember what my master said! Now I forgot what he said! I’ll leave you to guess the rest of what I’m going to say.”
“I’m sorry. Please continue,” he swiftly apologized.
The girl was clearly unhappy. Pouting, her ears moved slightly, as if to tune in to the whispers coming from the hall.
“Oh, I get it now. The main reason you were disqualified was because your spirit base properties are not compatible with the Spirit Blade Sect’s teachings. Your spirit base’s composite properties belong to the more extreme Yin type, and the Spirit Blade Sect does not have particularly suitable teachings to match it. ”
“It’s not that you won’t be able to train here at all, but even with the Spirit Blade Sect’s most compatible teachings, you will only be able to reach 80% of your true potential. That would be too much of a waste for you.”
Hai Yun Fan bitterly smiled, “I really don’t mind waste… ”
The girl put on a serious look. “In all seriousness, a third-grade spirit base is barely enough to achieve ascension. But with 80% of your true potential, your prospects of reaching ascension is very grim.”
Hai Yun Fan frowned, “I agree, the purpose of cultivating is to achieve ascension. But honestly, has anyone really done so? ”
“Ever since the end of the last Age of Chaos, no one has been able to achieve ascension. Even if the path to ascension is theoretically possible with a third-grade spirit base, it would be a long and arduous path, with countless obstacles along the way. Even with a Heavenly Spirit Base, there has been no precedent so far. ”
This made Hai Yun Fan want to laugh even more. “If that’s the case, why are you so hard up about it? ”
“This is the Celestial Gathering, and the Spirit Blade Sect is a sect that seeks ascension. What is the point in taking in someone who does not possess that potential? To do the chores? Even if for the past thousands of years there has been no success, we do not and will not lower our standards, goals and ambitions. This is what differentiates us from those third-rate sects. We may be small, but our ambitions are larger than all of us. ”
Everyone was taken aback by her stirring speech. Who would have thought that the Spirit Blade Sect, a sect that was viewed by many as mediocre, thought itself to be so great?
“However, given that you have excelled in all other aspects, it would be a great tragedy if you were to lose your chance to pursue immortality because of a minor drawback. Hence, we intend to write a recommendation letter for you to the Ten Thousand Arts Sect, which has the most extensive library of all immortal arts amongst all sects. No matter how rare your spirit base is, you will be able to receive appropriate training. They don’t really have any morals and aren’t picky in their selection too, which makes it far more suitable for you than us.”
“Ten Thousand… Arts Sect?” Hai Yunfan muttered to himself, and quickly weighed the pros and cons.
If the Spirit Blade Sect’s recommendation letter was effective, then going to the Ten Thousand Arts Sect would be a far superior choice. Although it could not be compared to the Sheng Jing Sect, it was still ranked second or third amongst the top five sects, and a sect that was also comparable with the Kunlun Sect. He could also maximise his potential there, rather than 80% from the Spirit Blade Sect.
The course of action was obvious, but deep inside there was still a trace of hesitation in Hai Yun Fan.
So, Hai Yun Fan subconsciously looked towards Wang Lu for an answer.
” Wang Lu, if you …”
Before Wang Lu could answer him, the girl continued to speak. “As for you, Wang Lu, your results were simply impeccable. Far better than Hai Yun Fan’s results and as for your spirit base properties, you have a Heavenly Spirit Base.”
Heaven Grade Spirit Base?!
The girl smile beamed wider. “On top of that, it is the rarest and most elusive Heavenly Spirit Base – the Void Spirit Base. ”
Void Spirit Base? Who knew such a spirit base type existed?
“I’ve never heard of it myself either. My master just told me about it. The Void Spirit Base was the same type of spirit base as that of the legendary First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, and Revered Ancestor Desheng. The First Emperor Qin Shi Huang unified the land, while Revered Ancestor Desheng single-handedly saved the continent, leading us to victory in the battle of Immortals and Demons.”
If Wang Lu’s spirit base rivalled these two great immortals, and if his abilities were ‘impeccable’, why did he lose out? They couldn’t possibly be recommending him to the Sheng Jing Sect, right?
“No, this… is so troublesome to explain…” the girl complained, somewhat embarrassed, “Master, I can’t explain this, you tell them! ”
Then the girl suddenly hugged her head, as if she was in a lot of pain. “Ok, ok. Don’t yell at me!”
“In simple terms, your situation is similar to Hai Yun Fan’s. There is very limited training out there for some spirit bases nowadays. Even more so with an extremely rare spirit base like yours. Not only that, but there is also a very specific and narrow range of things you can learn and practice. For example, for a heavenly spirit base of the fire type, it is almost impossible to practice water based skills. Even if you were able to acquire the skill, its effectiveness or efficacy would be largely attenuated, which would make you unable to complete the Foundation Establishment stage. In addition, one would need a lot of resources to train someone with such a spirit base. Thus, only the top sects are able to train someone with such a spirit base.”
“But that would be the case for common types of heavenly spirit bases. Ever since the end of the Age of Chaos, many teachings were lost or abandoned due to the change in the surrounding spiritual energy. Some spirit base cultivation methods have been completely lost or impossible to replicate. For example, Elder Dugu from the Shen Jing Sect has the rare Disaster Spirit Base, but due to various restrictions, he was still unable to break through to the Deity stage after 300 years. His spirit base is more common than yours, yet he wasn’t able to reach the Deity stage. Even before the end of the Age of Chaos, there was no teaching available that was compatible with the Void Spirit Base. Legends say the First Emperor Qin Shi Huang and Revered Ancestor Desheng were only able to start on the road of cultivation after the methods were handed down to them from the Celestial Realm. Revered Ancestor Desheng even went to the Kunlun Sect to cultivate, but over ten years, he had tried all available methods, but was still unable to direct spirit energy into his body.”
After a moment’s pause, the girl gave Wang Lu the cold, hard truth. “It’s not just the Spirit Blade Sect that is unable to train you, but all the sects. The Void Spirit Base, in this day and age, is just a rare antique.”