The day of the Xaoi Sect Disciple Selection arrived, and the city was nearly bursting. People had come from far and wide to see who would be the newest disciples entering the Xaoi Sect. Across numerous countries, the Xaoi sect was the absolute power in the land. Who was able to become a disciple of an immortal sect could rearrange the power structure of an entire area. A family could rise or fall, businesses flourish or collapse, and people live or die based on these results.
The actual selection wasn’t held in the city but a trial area built by the Xaoi sect. A massive amphitheater capable of holding the millions of mortals that had come here. Of course, the country of Demishire couldn’t support such a massive population. The Xaoi Sect, on the other hand, was able to provide food, lodging, and space for all. What were immortals if not amazing?
The most amazing part was that this entire setup appeared overnight. A day before, this entire area had been an unsettled wilderness. However, cultivators displaying strength that defied belief managed to clear and flatten the land and then construct structures needed to contain and view the various competitions that would occur on this day. One would think that they would have a stand-alone area set up for this test since it was performed early, but this was merely one way to show their power.
Of course, Demishire benefited from these constructed areas. They tamed the land, making it ideal for settlement once the crowds had all left. It was just one more way this nation that sat closest to the immortal realm was able to exist at a place that left all of the other mortal countries gnashing their teeth with jealousy.
Although the mortals didn’t know this, there were two different stands. The mortals sat below, where large screens used profound energy to display the going-on during the competition. Meanwhile, up above, there sat a hidden stand which was where any immortals who were interested came. In general, there weren’t too many that showed much interest. After all, this competition was at the lowest level.
These were fledging cultivators seeking to gain the privilege to learn Xaoi sect techniques. Many of them only had a few simple profound techniques that their families had managed to acquire and were passed down from generation to generation to any family member who managed to learn them. Compared to those born within the sect, they were mostly trash. Why did the Xaoi sect even bother? Once every few years, there might come a mortal with real potential. Furthermore, this trash could still become the servants, punching bags, cultivation furnaces, and stepping stones for all of the Xaoi sect disciples to come.
This reality was a little-known fact. Every mortal had high hopes of getting into the Xaoi sect, but success was only the beginning. The vast majority would never grow to be comparable to those who had grown up under the Xaoi sect’s care and had the privilege of selecting from and learning the Xaoi sect’s techniques from the beginning. Truly, Xaoi Yun being kicked from the sect had been a very cruel act, which was the equivalent of casting him down to the realm of the mortals with almost no chance of ever returning.
Yet, only a single generation later, Xaoi Yun’s son had stood up with the chance of becoming a disciple once again. Certain dark forces were gnashing their teeth as they saw the boy standing in the crowds. From the moment Xaoi Lan was taken forcefully, Xaoi Bao bi was supposed to be kept from this competition. Over the last week, numerous loose cultivators were sent to kill him, and they all disappeared without a trace.
While Bao bi was breaking through, Midnight watched over him. Liao An’s body might be small and weak, but in Midnight’s hand, there was nothing too challenging. That didn’t even factor in the fact that Midnight and Tigra were nearby, hiding in an invisible palace. Midnight had specifically taken that palace because it was extremely good at hiding. It could completely block its signature, making it so no one could feel or know the presence of Midnight or Tigra. Without it, they’d have to remain much farther from the planet, or even do something like Tigra had originally done and used Liao An as an avatar.
Thus, time passed by, and those that had moved against Xaoi Bao bi had completely failed. Not only was he alive, but he was stronger than ever. Of course, he still used the necklace which made him appear lower level. He had chosen to appear as a 1st realm 9th tier. Liao An had suggested he do this until the time was right. It was best that your enemies underestimated you.
Although there were eyes on Bao bi, that was because they were specifically looking for him, and had even ordered the people admitting contestants to point him out when he entered. On Bao bi’s side, he was completely lost within a sea of challengers. There were nearly 100,000 contestants. Of them, only a small number would be selected. That showed just how stringent and difficult this competition would be.
Bao bi didn’t know where Liao An was, let alone the prince and princess. He had wanted to come to this thing with everyone as a group, but he was told that such a thing wasn’t possible. This was because the king was coming to this event too, and would be bringing his children with him. Bao bi wouldn’t fit in such a procession, so he had arrived alone.
That suited him fine because he was filled with anger. His mother was taken by someone in the sect, and he had every intention of getting her back. At the moment, his mind was filled with a determination he hadn’t had before. Tigra was amazed at how much he had changed over the last week. With someone he cared about in trouble… the only other time she had seen him like this was when she had allowed herself to be endangered by those shadow clan disciples.
Sitting up in the immortal stage overlooking the proceeding, an old man walked down the steps and then sat next to a more youthful man with a bold chin and eyebrows like swords. The man nodded to his elder, but it was clear that he saw the older man as an equal.
“Is there anyone of interest this year, my friend?” The elder asked.
“There are a few talents this year.” The other man replied. “There is Dian Ai…”
“Changing the rules of entry this year for one girl…” The elder made a face. “This is just unnecessary. She could have waited two years.”
“Waiting longer would have stifled her growth.” The other man responded. “You and I both know the mortal realm is ill-suited for cultivators. The fact that she had reached the 2nd realm at such an age proves she should be in the sect.”
The old man raised an eyebrow mischievously. “Are you really that concerned about some random mortal? There are dozens of geniuses in our sect that reached the 2nd realm before the age of twelve. This may be common for mortals, but for Xaoi disciples, it’s only expected.”
“That’s the point. She is a mortal, yet she already made it so far.”
The old man made a face. “Do you think I would believe such weak reasoning?”
The man’s face flushed. “That… very well, if you insist on knowing, she’s been selected for Xiao Weizhe’s disciple.”
“Jin Longwei?” The old man finally sighed. “So, it’s like that. She’ll be a dual cultivation partner.”
“I know you don’t favor the process, but this is the fate of all women. They only exist to give themselves to men. There is hope that Jin Longwei will one day surpass Grand Master Xaoi one day and be able to enter the Xaoi Clan proper. The Xaoi tournament is only in three years. I believe we can get her to the third realm by that time, and then her vital yin can be taken by Jin Longwei, allowing him to break into the Mortal Condensation stage. We can keep from being last again!”
The elder shook his head bitterly. “Wasting such a promising youth just to win some tournament.”
“Some tournament? They only have one every 10 years. It is only eligible to those who reach the Mortal Maturation realm before the age of 18. If we can get a Mortal Condensation stage in there, we can guarantee at least in the top 10. That means more resources and the potential to send some disciples to the clan proper. Do you know we haven’t managed to get a single disciple into the clan proper in one hundred years!”
“I’m very well aware of that!” The old man growled. “Grand Master Xaoi paid a heavy price once by rushing things.”
“You speak of the fallen clan line.”
The old man nodded. “Xaoi Ren, his own son, was on his way to surpassing Grand Master Xaoi. However, he rushed his training, and in the end, his veins became injured, and his injuries were so bad that even his child Xaoi Yun was a nobody who had to be ejected from the clan.”
“That fate may be changing.” The younger man spoke mysterious, rubbing his chin.
He was mostly looking to get this elder off the subject of Dian Ai. When he saw the opportunity, he immediately took it.
“What does that mean?”
“Xaoi Yun had a child, and that child happens to be in the crowds down there.”
For the first time, the elder’s tired appearance perked up a bit. “What is that? Great Elder’s great-grandson?”
The younger man nodded, relieved that his distraction had successfully caught the old man’s attention. “Xaoi Bao bi registered this year. Like Dian Ai, he is only ten years old. He’s also in the upper tiers of the first realm. Ah! Elder?”
The old man looked a lot more shaken than he had expected. He quickly wiped tears forming in his eyes and then gave a rough cough.
“That is interesting. It seems like the damage didn’t last long. At that level, he has a strong chance of regaining a position in the Xaoi sect. His father must be proud.”
Only the old man knew this, but just over ten years ago, when Xaoi Yun was kicked out of the sect, it was this old man that had assisted him. If Xaoi Yun saw him personally, he wouldn’t recognize the man at all. However, this elder was close friends with Xaoi Ren, his father. When Xaoi Ren had become injured, he felt he had lost his best friend. He continued to rise while his companion collapsed and lost everything. It was tragic when they finally decided to boot his son out. He could only watch helplessly as his son left the sect with his pregnant wife.
However, by that point, this old man was in a better position within the sect. He used his power and was able to help Xaoi Yun smuggle out some technique scrolls as he left. This would have been impossible without the elder’s assistance. He might have been caught or faced even worse crimes. The reason the elder did it was naturally to honor the love for his old friend.
He had been able to do nothing else, so he thought of giving them the possibility that their family could one day return using techniques most mortal families could only dream of. He never expected such a seed to bear fruit so quickly. Only ten years later, and Bao bi had already grown so powerful. The old man found himself far more interested in the competition now. He had only come previously because of boredom, but now he had someone he wanted to root for.
“Show me how far you can go, Xaoi Bao bi…” He whispered under his breath.
“What was that?” the younger man had been busy checking something and didn’t hear him.
“Nothing, let’s see what the competition will be like this year!”
“Bao bi!” Down below, against all odds, Ying Yue had managed to find Bao bi and excitedly ran toward him.
If her father could see her in the crowd waving and running in a very unprincess-like manner, he would truly be horrified. However, after what Bao bi had seen unintentionally on a certain day, Jiang Ying Yue had put aside a lot of her reservations, and decided to pursue Bao bi more aggressively. Once they were both in the sect, she believed that more girls would start to pursue him, and if she didn’t stake her claim now, she would lose out. There was also a certain pressure hovering over her like a mountain, although she’d never admit it. Liao An already had a strange relationship with Bao bi that made her feel extremely anxious. Therefore, she would act more willfully from now on.
This new attitude also seemed to cause Jiang Bo no shortage of headaches. He was chasing behind her as she ran toward Bao bi, dodging through the crowds and even earning a few curses as she ran up to him like a puppy wagging her tail. Bao bi smiled at her, genuinely glad to see someone he recognized, but to Jiang Ying Yue’s excitable and youthful mind, it naturally meant and promised more.
“Jiang Ying Yue… you’ve advanced?” Bao bi’s eyes widened. “Midtier?”
“Mm!” She nodded. “That medicine you made us was amazing, Bao bi. I advanced by three tiers. Such a thing must have been extremely valuable.”
“Oh, I didn’t make-” Bao bi’s eyes landed on her brother behind her, who was moving his hand in a slice at his throat and desperately shaking his head ‘no’. “Ah… what I mean to say is that I made it for myself and those were just extras.”
It seemed that Jiang Bo had said Bao bi made the pills rather than Liao An. Bao bi didn’t know why he did this, but Jiang Bo feared that his sister would hold some kind of resentment or flat out refuse to take the pill if she knew. When the pair took the pill, they hadn’t been prepared for how savage and brutal it was. Jiang Ying Yue was acting fine now, but at the time, the pill had violently torn through her system. Both of them had ended up in the care of a skilled doctor, who hadn’t done anything to help them, even though he charged quite a lot and acted like he had helped.
What really had helped was their determination. Jiang Bo was determined to keep up with Bao bi. As for Jiang Ying Yue, she had similar desires. Thus, they had braved through it and recovered after a week. Then, they were yelled at by their father for being so reckless and taking some random medicine they bought from a vagabond (the excuse they used). Then, when he saw their new levels, his attitude changed to excitement. The stronger his children were, the stronger his position became.
“Even so… I never imagined I’d be able to accomplish much.” She blushed. “I am younger than all of the other contestants. They were telling me to just wait until I was a higher level since I would be more likely to be 1st next year, but that would mean I’d need to leave brother and… ah… you…”
When she said Bao bi, her blush grew even grander, and she looked down shyly.
“I’m also a higher level. I’m the same as you. A 1st realm, 9th tier! That’s two tiers!” Jiang Bo decided to rescue his sister who was growing more embarrassed by the moment.
“Ah, congratulations!” Bao bi didn’t know what Jiang Bo would say if he realized he was already in the 2nd realm, but he was happy that Jiang Bo had reached the peak. “Just remember, when forcing up your cultivation so suddenly, it will cause some instability. You’ll need some time before you start pushing to progress some more.”
“Of course!” Jiang Bo said this like it was obvious.
Bao bi was just repeating what Liao An had told him. He reckoned that he was the adult here, so he should take the opportunity to encourage safety first. Liao An had told him that his progress into the 1st tier was extremely stable. This had to do with how long he had remained in the 1st tier. He ended up breaking into the 2nd tier in an extremely complete way. It hadn’t been easy, but that was attributed to his odd cultivation. Thankfully, Liao An had figured out what was going wrong and they were able to fix it. Otherwise, Bao bi might have died.
This only confirmed to Bao bi once again how insane cultivation was. The general point was to live forever, but the very process of getting them involved putting your life at risk. That’s like saying if you did extreme sports that were exceedingly likely to kill you, you’d live ten more years. Sure, it’d be nice to live ten years longer, but the overall life expectancy probably didn’t improve due to how many died early deaths.
As Bao bi was having such irrelevant thoughts, a voice came booming out. There was a man on a platform that appeared to be hovering, and he caught the eyes of everyone present. He looked rather young, perhaps only eighteen. Other than a fewtthe secret observers, most of the people who ran this would be disciples like Xaoi Wang. The man standing on stage was an inner disciple, and it wasn’t clear how strong he was.
“Mortals! If you are on this stage, it is because you have decided to participate in the trials with the hopes of becoming a Xaoi disciple. Know that while there are nearly 100,000 participants who have come from every corner of the Xaoi sect lands, only 100 of you will be allowed entry as outer disciples. Of those 100, only 10 have the potential of becoming inner disciples. These trials will not be easy. In fact, you must put your life on the line. However, if you succeed, then you will have taken the first true step toward becoming an immortal!”
Cheering burst out across the watching crowds. The selection had begun.