Late at night, two wardens got together in a small courtyard.
One said gloomily, “What should we do now? Looking at the situation, Jing… ahem… Laozu’s reputation within the inner gates has skyrocketed. If the modified energy gathering array really works, he’d win more supporters and make things even more difficult for us.”
The other person said, “Nowadays, the Noble faction dare not do anything, while the new measurements are most beneficial to the Civilian faction, so they won’t meddle in such affairs as well.”
“But Shizun has already indicated…”
“No other Zhenren dares to defy Laozu, so isn’t Shizun being too bold? If anything happens, we can’t afford the consequences!”
Gloomy-face became gloomier. “But what can be done? Both of us have come under his tutelage, if we disobey the teacher’s orders, we don’t have to wait for things to happen before we get into trouble. You can’t expose the master and destroy the relationship, can you?”
“Erk…” Of course he dared not. Besides, they do not have any evidence.
Gloomy-face continued, “What’s more, you are aware of Shizun’s situation too. His cultivation has been stagnant for many years and he has been searching for cultivation resources everywhere. Although the Primary faction gave him very few resources, it’s still better than nothing, so how can he bear to give it up?”
His companion said, “We can only leave our fates to the heavens then.”
Gloomy-face, “Anyway, Shizun just doesn’t want Laozu to interfere with the factional interests. It’s not like he plans to harm him. As long as the matter is carried out carefully, the higher-ups won’t spend too much time investigating. Even if they did, there are people to take the blame, so I don’t think there’s a problem.”
The two comforted each other but their expressions were still full of worry.
For a long while after that, the Communication Hall became the main attraction of Frostcloud Sect.
Not only the disciples of the inner gates, but core disciples, and also some Golden Core Zhenren learned in the arts of formation and even Amethyst Abode elders came to study the formation method on the jade wall.
Some courageous disciples even set up the array on the spot and attempted the breakthrough in the Communication Hall.
In just a month, the number of people who broke through the Inception levels was several times the previous number.
The other measures proposed by Jing Yue also allowed more disciples to practice without distraction thus speeding up the progress more than ever.
At the same time, Jing Yue received a transmitted message—it turned out that the inner gates selection process was about to begin, and elder Yu, who was in charge of the outer gates, wanted to invite him to chair it.
The disciples of the outer gates were mostly at the Body Forging or below level-3 Qi Refining stages. The inner gates selection process that was held once every ten years was their only chance to advance as inner gates disciples.
According to past practice, in order to ensure fairness and impartiality during the selection process, all the elders, wardens and enforcers from the outer gates were not allowed to participate in the process, and everything would be fully managed by the inner gates.
As an elder of the inner gates, of course Jing Yue was responsible.
He was just about to reply when the blue phoenix, who had been gallivanting outside all day, suddenly swooped in. “Jing-jing! Have you heard? The inner gates selection process is about to begin. Can you bring Ji-ji along to see it? Please!”
Blue phoenix’s wings were folded together at the front in a begging posture. If it could bend its knees, it would have knelt already.
One could not find the slightest bit of dignity of a divine beast from this creature.
Jing Yue teased, “I’ll give you five minutes to convince me.”
Blue phoenix was so anxious that its mouth fired away rapidly, “This sort of competition is the big climax in the novel. Through the selection process, do you know how many protagonists have made the cannon fodder kneel down, let passersby bow down, and shock all the mighty forces? This is their first step towards the pinnacle of life and marrying the fair maiden!”
Jing Yue: ???
He regretted it. He shouldn't have asked.
On the same day, Jing Yue specifically inquired about the rules of the inner gates selection.
During the event, all outer gates disciples at Qi Refining stage were eligible to enter the Mini-mountain Hidden Realm for two days and one night.
The Mini-mountain hidden realm originated from the fragments of the Ninth Heavens, accidentally discovered by Jing Yue in his past life during his travels. At that time, Jing Yue saw the strange flowers and weeds in the realm and liked it very much, so he assimilated the hidden realm, brought it back to Frostcloud Sect, and placed it in the back mountain.
Unexpectedly, it had now become the trial ground for the outer gates disciples.
There was nothing too dangerous in this realm. Even the ferocious beasts were level-2 at the most. Therefore, during the selection period, disciples were not allowed to leave the hidden realm. When the selection was over, the teleportation array would activate automatically.
While in the hidden realm, all disciples were prohibited from using pills, talismans, formations, magical items, or any other external assistance, unless those items were produced within the hidden realm.
Finally, the group of strongest disciples who managed to hunt the highest number of ferocious beasts would be selected to enter the inner gates.
Jing Yue already had a plan in mind so he made arrangements immediately.
In a blink of an eye, it was already the selection day.
Nearly ten thousand disciples from the outer gates gathered in front of the Mini-mountain hidden realm teleportation array.
Zhao Feichen was with a few buddies, chatting about some of the interesting things that had happened during the past selection process, but after a while, the topic turned to the new patriarch of Frostcloud Sect.
“I heard that Jing-laozu is in charge of the selection process this time.”
“Jing-laozu has taken over the duties of the inner gates, so of course he’s in charge of the selection process this time. During the ceremony last time, I was too far away and couldn’t see his appearance clearly. This time, I finally got my wish.”
One person lowered his voice. “Since Jing-laozu became the elder of the inner gates, the task assignments were directly reduced by more than half. Once I got more time to practice, I’ve finally succeeded in entering level-2 Qi Refining stage. I really hope that I can be promoted to the inner gates and listen to Laozu’s teachings.”
“Yes, Jing-laozu even created a formation that is useful for breaking through the inception level. I heard that the formation is carved on the jade wall of the Communication Hall. I really wish I can see it.”
“Also, in the networking event on Frond Island, I heard that the artifacts sold by the Refining Hall only costs 998!”
Zhao Feichen did not interrupt but listened attentively.
He vowed in his heart that he must perform well this time and capture the attention of Jing-laozu. He was quite confident about this. Although he had a three-element spiritual root, he had already achieved level-2 Qi Refining in his early twenties. The degree of this cultivation level was comparable to the disciples of the inner gates and was also highly admired in the outer gates.
Suddenly, he saw a young boy leading a group of wardens approaching from a distance. The boy was eleven or twelve at the most, his appearance would cheer people up immensely at first glance and his cultivation base already level-4 Qi Refining!
That must be him!
While Zhao Feichen was excited, he could not help being ashamed of himself.
Laozu was much younger than him but his cultivation level much higher. With that contrast, the little pride left in his heart was immediately wiped out. Regardless of status or aptitude, Laozu was beyond his reach.
Following that, several wardens explained the precautions before they activated the teleportation array.
Zhao Feichen followed his companions and entered one by one, only to feel a white light flashing through his eyes. His mind was dizzy for a moment before a tranquil sight appeared before his eyes.
In the hidden realm, flowers and plants were abundant, beasts roared and birds sang, the sound of gurgling water came from a clear stream that extended to the horizon and met the skyline.
Zhao Feichen took a deep breath and sighed, “So beautiful.”
A thin girl beside him said, “Of course! This Mini-mountain hidden realm was brought back to Frostcloud Sect after being assimilated by Grandmaster Jing Yuan. To be able to do this, Grandmaster Jing Yuan is indeed a legend of the cultivation world.”
Zhao Feichen, “A-li, you’ve said this many times.”
Liu Li smiled. “I'm not tired of saying that even after so many times. I grew up listening to the story of Grandmaster Jing Yuan. Besides, you are allowed to talk about Fairy Suhua and Fairy Biling but I’m not allowed to mention the grandmaster?”
She turned her head and said to the round-faced girl beside her, “Right, Qing’er?”
Yuan Qing’er quickly nodded in assent.
“Stop chatting. Time is limited.”
A guy who had not spoken before gave a reminder.
Zhao Feichen glanced at Wang Xiu and groused secretly: False pretense!
He was friends with Liu Li, Yuan Qing'er, and Wang Xiu, but his feelings for Wang Xiu were more complicated.
The two of them had similar aptitude but the other party’s cultivation base outperformed him, making him the most hopeful among them of being promoted to the inner gates.
Therefore, he occasionally felt some jealousy in his heart, but his mind was not affected by that emotion. At least, he truly regarded Wang Xiu as a friend.
Zhao Feichen touched the memory stone on his waist. It could record everything he had experienced in the hidden realm and also an important basis for the inner gates assessment.
This time, he must work hard and not allow Wang Xiu to leave him behind!
Since level-2 ferocious beasts were concentrated in the depths of the hidden realm, they did not discuss but moved directly along the stream to the center of the realm.
Along the way, Liu Li and Yuan Qing’er kept talking about the situation in the hidden realm, such as the types of ferocious beasts and distribution of spiritual herbs. Zhao Feichen would occasionally say a few words. Only Wang Xiu remained silent.
They had long been accustomed to his stoic and dull character, so they did not take it to heart.
“Feichen, watch out!”
Suddenly, Wang Xiu roared.
Zhao Feichen turned his head subconsciously and saw a sword glare firing towards him. He was so frightened that he froze on the spot.
The sword glare landed on the ground less than a foot away from his feet, and the grass and soil blasted into the air, causing him to sneeze, only to realize that the head and body of a Shelled Beast had been severed in two.
Zhao Feichen’s legs turned to jelly as his back was drenched in a cold sweat.
The shelled outer skin of the beast was similar to a stone and it was adept to use camouflage to kill its prey. Once bitten by the beast, his leg would be paralyzed immediately, and he could forget about entering the inner gates.
He was just about to thank Wang Xiu for saving him.
Suddenly, the severed body part of the Shelled Beast pounced on him!
Author’s Notes: Mini-theater
Ji-ji with chest puffed and head raised: Many people in the comments think I’m the Gong^.
Jing-jing: Who are you attacking^?
Ji-ji’s befuddled face: There’s a crane behind Whitefog Summit that’s quite good-looking, but it always ignores me. Ji-ji doesn’t like the game of playing hard to get, so I don’t want it. There’s a white ape on Jadedew Summit that’s very gentle, but the size is too big, and we can’t love each other because of different species. There’s a spirit fowl on Bluecloud Summit that’s barely a match in all aspects…
Jing-jing: The wind is too loud, I can’t hear clearly…
(TN: Gong攻 = refers to the top, but can also mean attack. Shou 受 = refers to the bottom)