“Child, approach!” The elder shot Bao bi a stern look.
Bao bi jumped when the elder turned to him. He had mostly just been watching everything unfold without personally getting involved. Now, the elder had called out to him. He approached the table with the encouragement of his mother. The elder only glanced at mom a single time. Typically, as women increased in cultivation, so did their beauty. This elder was at a level where her beauty was only one of many. Xaoi Lan might have been a transcendent beauty in this city, but that was only this city. Every city had its beauties, and there were millions of cities in countries controlled by the Xaoi sect alone. Until she was a higher cultivation, her true beauty had yet to shine. At least, that was his brief assessment of the woman.
“You are the guardian?” He asked simply.
“Yes, his mother!” Xaoi Lan jumped as much as her son.
“Very well, your son will now have his cultivation and age measured. This will ensure he is qualified. From ages 10-12, someone must reach the lower tiers of the Mortal Purification realm. If they are 13, they must be in the middle tiers of the Mortal Purification. 14-15 years must be in the top tiers of the Mortal Purification. If he is 16 or older, he will not be permitted to complete the examination. If your son does not meet these requirements, then he will not be allowed to complete the examination. Do you understand?”
Since the elder was present, he decided to just do the entire registration process himself. It seemed like Xaoi Wang had some kind of dispute with this boy. While that was potentially disadvantageous to the boy, it shouldn’t keep him from being able to go through the examination. By doing it himself, he’d ensure no funny business occurred like his information being accidentally lost. It would end up being embarrassing for the Xaoi sect and lose their face. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust the top outer disciple, but it was better to be thorough.
“I do!” Xaoi Lan nodded, her hand tightening on Bao bi’s arm with anxiousness.
“Registration does not guarantee success. The disciple trials are difficult. Some have died during them. Although we strive to ensure this doesn’t happen, and the risk is exceptionally low, accidents do happen. Do you recognize the risks involved?”
Xaoi Lan hesitated with those words. Of course, the path of a cultivator was fraught with dangers. Once someone went down this path, the chance of dying through some grisly fate was extremely high. If one stopped now, they could expect to live may a bit over the lifespan of a mortal. 150 years would be the upper limit. However, if they kept progressing, their lifespan would grow, and soon they’d be able to live hundreds if not thousands of years. However, the vast majority who start down that path never make it that far.
It was extremely common to die young, murdered by another cultivator for your resources. Furthermore, some accidents happened during cultivation. If you didn’t have the resources necessary to jump into the next realm, failures could happen, and especially in the higher realms, those failures could result in death. Even among the geniuses, only a small percentage would ever make it anywhere within the Xaoi sect.
Xaoi Lan looked at her son with distress in her eyes, but she ultimately knew that she had to allow Xaoi Bao bi to travel his own path. It was simply that he was so young that it caused her such heartache. Why couldn’t they start this dangerous journey at sixteen? The day she had married a cultivator, she had planned for this fate. With a sigh, she gave the elder a nod.
This reluctance surprised the elder a bit. Similar scenes were playing out across dozens of tables. Some parents proudly sent off their children, expecting them to give great honor to their household and help their families grow. Even a single child in the outer sect can completely change the course of a declining family. This was only normal. That wasn’t to say there weren’t women like Xaoi Lan also. The shocking thing came from the fact she was a cultivator.
The elder could see she was a tier seven cultivator. However, she still had the mannerisms of a mortal woman. Most cultivators were much more restrained than this woman, especially when it came to their children. It was a bit of a shame too. She might be a good fit for the Xaoi sect. While she was far too old to join the disciple trials, she had started at a young enough age and seemed to have some skill. Her purification was especially stable and clear, which was difficult for a mortal woman to achieve.
Of course, this was thanks to Bao bi giving her improved cultivation methods and the best medicines he could conjure. In reality, she had experienced better resources in the last seven years than most inner disciples would have gotten. It naturally showed in the quality of her cultivation, although only someone as experienced as this elder could notice such a thing with a glance. To others, she was just a level 7 tier past her prime. Yet, some late bloomers still managed to obtain some success with cultivation – or at the very least, as dual cultivation partners.
With her talent, they could get her to progress a few realms and then match her up with some of the disciples in their bottlenecks. Although it would be best if she was a virgin, she was still a fairy who had only slept with one man her entire life. This meant she still could give other men a hundred strokes and benefit their cultivation. It may seem harsh that even the elder saw her in this light, but in a world as resource-poor as this one, even people were seen as cultivation resources. When it came to the dark arts, that sometimes included literally turning people into pills.
However, today wasn’t about recruiting new dual cultivation resources. If the boy managed to join the sect, doing something like that to his family would be strictly forbidden. Who would join a sect that immediately took advantage of them and preyed on their family? Thus, before any decision regarding Xaoi Lan could be decided, they first needed to check on Bao bi’s status.
The young disciple who was supposed to be administering the age and cultivation checks ended up handing the test stones to the elder. The elder carefully handed a stone to Bao bi, who took it without any fanfare.
While this was happening, Xiong Menyao’s mood only grew increasingly sour. This was supposed to be the start of his time to shine. He was a rising star within the sect. Everyone had even told him so. First, his attention was taken away by some inexplicable beauty traveling on another man’s arm. Then, the infamous top outer disciple had savagely critiqued his life choices. Now, a boy he had only happened to be traveling with was receiving the personal attention of the elder.
This was a man that any mortal could only dream of encountering, yet now he was here and personally admitting Bao bi. This naturally didn’t go unnoticed by all of those in the city. Innumerable eyes were on this table, wondering just who that mysterious boy was that he’d garner even the elder’s interest. Those that weren’t seeing it were already hearing about it as rumors flew across the city.
“Who is that?”
“That’s an elder of the Xaoi sect, right?”
“That boy must be someone of status.”
Such words were spreading out with them as the epicenter. It caused Menyao to gnash his teeth as he bore this nobody receiving unwanted attention. It wouldn’t be long before everyone heard the name of Bao bi. Once many people had his name though, they wouldn’t bother to ask too many more questions. After all, he was Xaoi Bao bi. That means he was related directly to the founders of the Xaoi sect. Even if he was only an extended family, that name still had power.
Knowing he was a Xaoi, it was less surprising that he was administered by an elder, and more surprising that he wasn’t already in the sect. He should have been accepted at birth! A few managed to get the whole story about the disgraced family line starting with his father, but few chose to explore it beyond that. Bao bi didn’t come off as abnormally impressive. He was simply a man with the right name at the right time to receive such attention. A few felt jealousy over his luck, but most didn’t have the surname Xaoi.
“Now, boy, you likely aren’t familiar with profound energy yet. Although you cannot store it, with some concentration you should be able to move it. Move some through your body and… ah! It works.”
While the elder was still explaining, the gem lit up almost the second Bao bi took it. That was normal for an experienced cultivator who used these frequently, but for someone from the mortal world who wasn’t in the sect, it was extremely common for them to not understand how to move energy. Bao bi was naturally different. A normal cultivator couldn’t move profound energy until they reached the 2nd realm. At that point, they create a dantian and began to collect energy into their bodies. However, Bao bi’s unique disposition which made his body extremely pure of toxins had allowed him to store profound energy outside his dantian within the individual cells of his body.
Although he was still in the final stage of the body purification realm, a mere half-step from entering the 2nd great realm, he already had enough stored profound power to equal mid-tier Mortal Origin cultivator. As for Liao An’s belief, he could face a high-tier Mortal Origin expert, which had to do with his fighting experience delivered by her as well as the profound nature of the techniques she taught him.
“Hmm… 7th level. A high-tier Mortal Purification expert. Not bad. It looks like assuming you’re under the age of 16, you’ll be able to participate regardless.” The man spoke up.
Xaoi Wang jerked when he heard this news. The first time he had ever faced Bao bi, Bao bi hadn’t even taken the first step yet. He had defeated Xaoi Wang with an overbearing mortal body. In the last seven years, he had made seven levels. This didn’t seem like much. After all, Xaoi Wang had leaped two great realms over the last seven years. However, 12-18 were often considered the best years for cultivation. Xaoi Wang was nearly at the end of his best years, where Bao bi was only just starting!
When Xaoi Wang was twelve, he only just reached the mid-tiers of the 1st great realm. Bao bi, meanwhile, was already stably in the upper-tiers. Didn’t that make this guy more skilled than him? In the future, he’d be an inner disciple, and would be able to completely suppress Xaoi Wang! As he thought of such eventualities, his mood darkened as well. Although this news was shocking to him, everyone else present had already known this much. Had Xaoi Wang bothered to check his competition, he would have already known this as well, but he was a somewhat impulsive guy and not too bright. Had he been smarter, he’d have managed to be an inner disciple by now. For the elder, this was neither exemplary nor bad. It was above most and made it highly likely he’d join the sect. This only reassured the elder about his decision to personally admit this person.
If anyone was to said to be truly surprised though, it would have been Bao bi himself. After all, Bao bi wasn’t in the 7th tier. He was a half-step Mortal Origin. He was still in the 1st realm, but only just. Bao bi was still wearing the item that faked his cultivation level given to him by Liao An. The artifact used to measure his cultivation couldn’t be fooled. That was something the Xaoi sect attested to. If it was being fooled, that meant that the jewelry that Liao An had given him was somehow more powerful than the equipment used to verify people.
Bao bi had a complicated feeling when he heard this. He had anticipated that the truth about his abilities would come out today, but it seemed like he had underestimated the strength of an artifact from Liao An. Then again, he didn’t know these artifacts came from the heavenly realm. Even a device many tiers higher than this one wouldn’t be able to see through Bao bi’s necklace. Only the top cultivators of the mortal realm might be able to detect that something was off. Those would be people far beyond the scope of the Xaoi sect, unreachable existences that Bao bi didn’t even have the right to know the name of.
“Then,” The elder recovered the first of anyone, pulling the stone from Bao bi’s hand and giving him another device that looked like a handle. “This next device will determine your skeletal age. Simply squeeze it for a few seconds. Good… now let’s see…”
If it was tied to strength, Bao bi was truly worried that it might overestimate his age. He already felt awkward having the body of a thirteen-year-old even though he was only ten. If it suddenly declared he was sixteen, he didn’t know what he would do. Liao An had warned him that once he reached the second realm, his body would resemble that of a sixteen-year-old, where it would remain until he reached twenty. Based on how long it took him to cultivate into the high realms would ultimately affect how he would look from then on. The faster one cultivated in their youth, the longer they’d maintain that youth. It was feasible to resemble a seventeen-year-old boy for thousands of years given the right conditions.
All of Bao bi’s concerns seemed to disappear when the man took the handle and looked at it. Noone but the disciples knew what he was doing, but Bao bi had a vague grasp that he was reading a resonance being pulled off from the device. When he got the information, he froze. Everyone stared at him as he stared at the device, a dumbfounded expression on his face.
“Te?” Xaoi Wang, who had the least patience, leaned forward.
“Skeletal age… of ten!” The elder’s voice sounded a bit odd.
The elder had been prepared for him to be twelve. If that was true, he’d be an outstanding individual. He thought it much more likely he was thirteen. Some mother’s fudged the ages of their children’s birth, thinking that if they say it is so, their child would be considered a few months or even a year younger. It was pretty easy for a child to genuinely think they were 12, only to find out they were 13 and missed the cutoff. These mothers also tended to be the most indignant and loudest when they found out their precious son was denied entry into the sect. Every year, dozens of moms had to be escorted off the premises followed by their confused and dumfounded sons who had all of their hopes dashed away.
It was easy to believe that Bao bi had fallen into this group. As a thirteen-year-old, he still would have been above average, with a high likelihood of acceptance. Then, there was the potential he was truly older and flat out lying to impress his peers. This happened from time to time too. They always thought they could somehow fool the Xaoi sect when the time came. Some even tried to bribe disciples to fudge the information. These types were immediately put on a list and ejected from the premises without any consideration.
However, Bao bi didn’t look old enough to be in the latter group. Thus, the elder had been prepared to see a 12 or 13-year-old with some skill. To see someone of the age of ten already in the upper-tiers, that was something difficult for even personal disciples of the Xaoi sect raised by great elders at birth! Although they had dropped the age limit of joining to ten, there were extremely few mortals who would dare even try at that age.
Jiang Ying Yue was a rare exception, and that was because she was eleven and would be twelve in a few months. The age limit had been dropped for a very particular rising star, but no one else was so foolish to even try. It should be noted most mortals didn’t even start cultivation until twelve, although that number was sooner the more resources one could acquire. To find a ten-year-old already in the 1st tier of the mortal purification realm was an oddity, never mind the 7th.
As this news was released, everyone stared at Bao bi with dumbfounded looks. His mother was the only one who knew this to be accurate. She squeezed his arm again in worry, wondering if she should confirm the truth of this or just allow it to play out. The Jiang family all had their mouths open. Jiang Bo had considered Bao bi his peer, but Bao bi was actually younger than his sister! Nevermind Jiang Ying Yue, who just found out her crush was a little boy even younger than herself. If this age was true, it’d shock the entire sect.
“That’s impossible!” Xaoi Wang bellowed out.
He had been convinced that he had encountered an 8-year-old back then. He had every expectation that Bao bi would be either fifteen or at worse, fourteen. Despite Bao bi’s small appearance, he had always been a small boy, so what if he looked thirteen? If Bao bi was only 10, then that meant seven years ago he was three! Xaoi Wang, at age 11, had bullied a toddler… and then was defeated by that toddler in a single punch! That was something he was completely unwilling to accept. How could a seventeen-year-old accept that his greatest rival, someone that had motivated him for nearly seven years to nearly kill himself training, was now only ten! It was the greatest joke in the world!
The elder looked down at the device in his hand and then looked over at the dumbfounded disciple. “Get another one. I think this one is broken.”