What was with this kid? The third tier he had thrown at Bao bi collapsed to the ground dead. Bao bi was covered in wounds and bruises, but he was still standing. This was an opponent in the third realm, an entire realm greater than Bao bi, and he had managed to achieve victory. Such a gap was difficult for the administrator to fathom. In all of his years administering tests, he had never seen such an exaggerated gap in his life. In comparison, the elites were usually only able to defeat 3-4 tiers above their own. Anything more than a middle class against an upper class was impossible. The most impressive he had seen was a 2nd realm top tier able to defeat this same 3rd tier, but he also died in the process.
Bao bi was 9 tiers lower than that kid, and he had managed to keep his life. He was barely standing on his feet, but he was alive. Such a brutal battle had left the administrator frozen. He was hesitant about what to do. The woman who had come before had seemingly wanted him to test Bao bi severely. He had done so, eventually going exactly as hard as she had wanted, but he had been doing it with the idea of crushing Bao bi’s spirit.
Now that he saw just how strong the kid was, his previous discretion when he had first entered the pagoda was forgotten, and the administrator didn’t know what to say. Between Liao An and Bao bi, the Xaoi sect had been placed at the center of something, but he just wanted able to see what it was.
“Should… I give him that test?”
Programmed within the pagoda was a series of tests, and while they were seemingly the same for all of the disciples, the administrator did have the ability to manipulate them to some effect. This pagoda had another function beyond the basic selection process. Should a certain individual come in that showed exceptional progress, there was one more test to throw at him. This was something that most of the sect didn’t know about, and in the entire existence of the One Thousand Demons Formation, he had never tested a single student.
The test was rather simple. Of the 1000 heroes who used a piece of their soul to create this testing formation, one of them was special and had never actually been used. That was none other than the sect’s founder, Elder Xaoi. He was not the current sect leader, but an ancestor of him. He had come from the Xaoi clan and was so powerful that he was able to create this sect later in his life. It wasn’t clear how high his cultivation had gotten, but he had also contributed to this formation, and the administrator was able to summon a teenage version of Elder Xaoi.
This clone possessed the knowledge and cultivation of Elder Xaoi when he was fifteen. It should be noted that compared to the sect, those in the clan had better resources and began at earlier ages. It would be surprising if Elder Xaoi wasn’t in the third realm at least at that age.
Should someone be able to defeat Elder Xaoi, there was a gift that would be provided, something that only Elder Xaoi knew. The item was hidden in a jade box, and even the intelligence had never laid eyes on it. After realizing he was delaying, the administrator let out a sigh and left his little room.
Bao bi had just defeated the third realm opponent. That guy had been really tough, and he had only just managed somehow. He was fearing when the next ones would come. They’d be even more powerful than the last. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to take down two. Had he finally come to his end? He was considering giving up, but then he thought about the other kids who were doing this and didn’t give up. How could he keep his head held high knowing he couldn’t even compete with children?
That’s when an old man in a white elder’s robe appeared in front of him. At first, Bao bi feared his opponent had suddenly increased in age, but he quickly realized the man wasn’t acting aggressively.
“Bao bi, you have done well so far.” The man remarkably praised him, causing Bao bi a bit of surprise. “I will offer you a choice. You may continue to fight and earn points, or you can leave with the points you’ve earned and attempt a more difficult battle.”
“A choice?” Bao bi relaxed for a moment. “I guess I’ll keep earning points.”
The administrator jerked, certain that Bao bi would take the more difficult path. “What was that?”
“I mean, the goal of this is admittance to the school, right? I can’t risk my chance. My mother… I’ll just say there are reasons I must succeed. I don’t know how many points I’ve earned, but given how much difficulty I’ve had, I worry they won’t be enough points to progress. I don’t know if I’ll fall the next battle or the battle after that, but if I was even a single point behind and failed as a result, I’d never forgive myself.”
It was true that his points weren’t that great, but that was only because the opponents he was forced to fight didn’t match the points he was supposed to earn with them. The administrator could go back and fix that, but he did still worry about upsetting the powerful woman from before. However, that was one thing, and this was another.
“You don’t seem to understand.” He responded through gritted teeth. “If you succeed and win, you will be granted a prize.”
He frowned. “A prize? What kind of prize?”
“Something great!” The administrator declared with a laugh, realizing that he had jumped too early without providing proper bait for a young cultivator. “Something no one has ever earned in the history of this contest. If you succeed, you’ll be the first and only one to win! What do you say?”
The administrator nearly spat out blood. “What? What do you mean, no thanks?”
“You can’t even tell me what the prize is? That sounds extremely suspicious.”
“Suspicious! This is a prize left by this sect’s ancestor. It could be a sword, or a technique, or some cultivation medicine? It has to be something you’d desire!”
“How could I know? There are so many cultivators and cultivation styles. I fight barehanded most of the time. If it was a weapon, it’d be almost useless to me. What if the technique didn’t match what I was currently using? It’d only throw off my entire fighting style! If it’s some medicine, how long has it been sitting there? How can anyone guarantee the efficacy of a medicine left sitting for hundreds if not thousands of years? That sounds like a bad risk!”
“Y-you… I will absolutely be something worth it!”
“Even if it is something worth it, didn’t you say that it involves another test more difficult than what I’m already doing? I’ve only just managed to hold on. There is no guarantee I can win! You’ve said no one has ever one, so isn’t this entire test rigged? A few more points could help my rank and ensure my place in the Xaoi sect, while this item can’t do that. It’s risking my future for basically nothing!”
The administrator’s eyebrow was now twitching. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and he was offering it. Who cared if Bao bi failed? Just the chance to go head-to-head against the founder was an honor! He’d learn more in that fight, even if he had to retake the exam next year. Besides, this kid was in the youngest age group, and he wasn’t even twelve yet, so he would have countless new opportunities to join the sect, even if he failed here.
“You’re making a big mistake here.” He barely kept himself from growling. “I would highly suggest you take this opportunity.”
“I decline!” Bao bi nodded.
He had to close his mouth. Kids these days had no respect for their elders!
“Fine… then, don’t regret your choice!” He disappeared in a blink.
Bao bi thought the entire exchange was strange, but he wondered if he had made the right choice. The entire event had the feel of an old man offering a child candy. A strange man approaches you offering you special and mysterious rewards? Wasn’t he currently already working toward a reward? Martial arts required extreme focus. You couldn’t be side-tracked my unimportant side things.
Liao An had taught him that. For example, someone might want to be good at everything, chasing after every cool technique, but that would just leave him a disciple of many paths, and a master of none. Bao bi nodded having convinced himself that this might be part of the path, trying to trick people into giving away points. Bao bi was too clever for that, but he hoped that other kids didn’t fall into such an obvious trap.
If the administrator knew at that moment what Bao bi was thinking, he might have flipped over the entire pagoda. Instead, he sent two third-realm enemies at Bao bi at once. They were at the same ability as the last one he defeated, but that had some benefits. Bao bi had already felt them out for their skills and had developed counters for many of their attacks. The two opponents acted independently of each other, so Bao bi didn’t face anything he hadn’t seen before. Furthermore, he had gotten a small break. Even a few breaths to recollect yourself could mean the difference between life and death to a cultivator.
As he brought the second disciple down, he wasn’t given a break as a new group of three appeared. Three disciples at a tier above his own existed at a level that would even take out a third realm disciple in this competition. They all grinned as they looked at the bruised and battered Bao bi. Gritting his teeth covered in blood, he lunged forward and attacked. At this point, the last of the contestants had left the pagoda and the administrator had all of his attention on Bao bi, mostly looking forward to his failure.
Thus, with his attention on that, he didn’t notice some movements behind him. A form seemed to appear as if from nowhere. It wasn’t Liao An, but a young youth of only fifteen. He walked over the screen and watched the fight between a 2nd realm and three third realms unfold. Bao bi was mostly on the defensive, blocking strike after strike.
“Xiao Heavenly Punch!”
“Xaoi Heavenly Kick!”
“Xaoi Heavenly Chop!”
“Sticking Xaoi Heavenly in front of everything doesn’t make it cooler!” Bao bi shouted in exasperation.
He was doing his best to hold on, doing as Liao An had taught him and waiting for an opening. At that exact moment, he saw it. He realized that there was no way he’d be able to be victorious if he remained unharmed. He was going to have to give up some of himself.
“People don’t want to feel pain.” Liao An had once explained. “True sacrifice involves losing something. If you find no other avenue for victory, you too must one day choose to lose of yourself. As long as your life is maintained, anything else can potentially be sacrificed. You must outlive your opponent. The idea that you do it in one piece is merely a limiter we put on ourselves.”
Bao bi took in a deep breath, and then he moved forward. “Wind Phantasmal Palm!”
He pulled on his palm technique and threw out a powerful attack beyond his current body conditioning level. He knew as through as he hit that his arm shattered, but the enemy he had fought didn’t realize until he attacked that this attack had more behind it. His defenses were blown through and his chest was crushed. As he stumbled back, coughing up blood, the other two tried to take advantage of Bao bi’s weakness. He depended on the Wind Symphony to avoid being struck. He was only just able to resist with the Shadow Armor of the Midnight Reign.
He usually didn’t depend on his skills so rapidly, stretching it out and only using them when he had to. This was the first time he had combined all three skills simultaneously and used them past their limit.
“How interesting…” A voice came from behind the Administrator, causing him to nearly jump out of his chair.
“E-elder Xaoi! You’ve awakened?”
He recognized the soul that spoke immediately, but his soul had never awakened in the many years he had been in control of the pagoda. He would have awoken him to begin the trial, but after he was rejected, he had put it out of his mind. He never expected the soul to awaken on his own.
“Those techniques he is using are incredible.” The elder was staring fixated on the screen instead of speaking to the Administrator.
“Is it so impressive?” The Administrator asked. “He’s powerful for sure, but only just…”
The truth of it was that Bao bi’s attacks weren’t all that impressive looking. While they were effective, they felt somewhat basic. The Administrator had watched disciples use methods far more impressive than Bao bi’s. He had a lot to say about Bao bi, but impressive wasn’t one of those things.
“You don’t see that profound thought that goes into every thought and movement? His technique outshines even the my Xaoi heavenly series.”
“The heavenly series? But you-you’re the one who created it!”
“Yes, but I ultimately created it as the best I could do at a level a sect disciple could grasp. More complicated skillsets exist. If anyone here ever came to the clan, they would be introduced to the Xaoi Holy Canon. It’s the more advanced version of this method, but I can’t say if even it would be as complex as what he’s showing.”
“A-as you say…”
The Administrator wanted to give him a dubious look, but this was the embodiment of the sect’s founder. How could he doubt his words?
At this point, Bao bi had just managed to take down the last of the third realm. At this rate, his only choice would be to send out, 3rd realm in the mid-tier range. At this point, Bao bi would be destroyed in the next fight. Just to win this one, he had to decimate one arm and take a fairly severe blow to the stomach. Had this been a real battle and not a simulation, he might have crippled his cultivation for good.
This level of battle had once again impressed the Administrator. Few people as young as Bao bi could truly reach the stage of self-sacrifice. Well, it was a stage that could be considered dangerous for someone so young. To fight until the point you damage your cultivation was a death sentence for any new cultivator. It wasn’t surprising that few children from 10-15 would have mastered such a skill. Battling to the death was completely different from willingly accepting damage in exchange for more damage to your opponent.
“Don’t send the next.” The elder held up his hand. “I’ll be his next opponent.”
It turned out that even though Bao bi had refused to do the test, he was still having the test thrust upon him. AT this point, Bao bi had already decided to surrender. He only remained long enough to see who his next opponent was. When a person appeared who was at the cultivation level 3rd realm, 7th tier, he was immediately done.
“Pass… I give up.”
The boy let out a gentle laugh. “I’m sorry, at this point, I’m not going to allow that.”
Bao bi frowned. Not only had he not been teleported out of the competition as he expected, but his opponent had talked. Other than the old man who had appeared before his last fight, this was the second person who had talked to him.
“Who are you?”
“I was hoping to learn that about you.”
“I’m Xaoi Bao bi.” I declared.
“You’re a Xaoi?” He seemed slightly surprised. “Why is a Xaoi needing to fight for an entry to the Xaoi sect?”
“My father, Xaoi Yun, was kicked from the Xaoi sect as his father sustained an injury.”
“Your great grandfather wouldn’t by chance be the current Xaoi sect leader, would he?”
“He is…” Bao bi responded, but he couldn’t help but keep a bit of bite into it.
He didn’t consider the man his family. What man would eject his blood and then allow them to continue to be bullied and brought down? To Bao bi, he was a cruel man, and one Bao bi hoped to never meet. The only reason he was in the Xaoi sect was because of his mother. Sure, he had wanted to join before out of curiosity and to help his father obtain his ambitions, but that was before someone had conspired against him and taken his mother. Now, he only felt scorn for those higher up in the Xaoi sect.
“Then, I suppose that would make me your great great great grandfather.” He let out a laugh. “To think it was a descendent of my blood who would one day challenge me, this pleases me greatly.”
“I haven’t challenged anyone.” Bao bi shot back. “I’m just trying to protect the ones that matter to me.”
He nodded. “It always starts that way, but I believe that one day you will achieve great things. One day, you may even be able to complete what I failed at.”
“What’s that?” Bao bi asked.
“Oh, before I offer you my legacy, first, you must be able to defeat me.”
Bao bi let out a pained grunt, nearly laughing as he looked down at his shattered arm and the hole in his chest that was openly bleeding out. He’d be dead in a few hours if he didn’t try to treat it anyway. The Elder lifted his hand and snapped. Bao bi shook as his body was immediately restored to its peak state. Even his exhaustion melted away like it had been a lie. In a few seconds, he was as good as when he first entered the pagoda.
The young teen gestured with his hand. “I will restrict my cultivation to your realm. Defeat me, and I will grant you my legacy!”