Chapter 849: Creativity
On the Ancient Road of the Nascent Soul, everything was normal. The cultivators on the Ancient Road of Spirit Severing had made incredible progress. These three stages of talent, cultivation, and age assessments tested one’s foundation, and as such, were of great importance to the various sects and clans. There were already quite a few people from both the Ancient Road of the Nascent Soul and Spirit Severing whose names had been recorded by the sects. As long as they continued to perform well in the following stages, their future good fortune was essentially guaranteed.
Chen Fan was just such a person!
Unfortunately, Fatty and the others had not yet made it onto any of the lists.
In contrast, the Ancient Road of Dao Seeking was in complete chaos. It wasn’t that the proceedings themselves were chaotic, but rather, there was a feeling of unpredictability because nobody was paying attention to who would take first place in the assessments of talent, cultivation and age.
All sorts of conversations were playing out throughout the Ninth Mountain and Sea.
“Just what kind of latent talent does Fang Mu have? And what cultivation base? How old is he?!”
“I can’t believe the stone steles didn’t work! They even changed steles several times. There’s obviously something special about Fang Mu!”
“Oh right, who took first in the talent and cultivation assessments?”
“I wasn’t really paying attention. I’m just wondering whether the age-assessing stone stele will be effective on Fang Mu!”
Back on the Ancient Road of Dao Seeking, Meng Hao was like an unwelcome guest whose style and actions took the wind out of everyone’s sails. He was now, once again, the focus of all attention.
Although he wasn’t in first place… the current first place competitor was being completely ignored.
More and more sects were becoming interested in Meng Hao, and in fact, his name had already been recorded by all of the Three Churches and Six Sects. Furthermore, it was in first place on all of those lists!
Meng Hao bashfully placed his hand on the ‘age’ stone stele, sucked in the energy, solidifying his Immortal meridian to forty percent.
He felt that it was quite a pity that Ling Yunzi was so stingy. Sighing wistfully to himself, he thought of yelling out another complaint about how unfair it all was, but managed to keep his mouth shut. He said nothing, but rather, stood there gauging the other competitors’ columns of light. No matter how high any of those columns were, everyone’s faces were extremely unsightly.
“The age-assessing stage is concluded!” announced Ling Yunzi with the flick of a sleeve. Everyone except for Meng Hao vanished and reappeared on altars further off in the distance.
Meng Hao had now gone from first place to dead last.
This development caused everyone who was competing in the trial by fire on the Ancient Road of Dao Seeking to be very agitated. Virtually, all of them turned to glare back at Meng Hao, inwardly musing about how benevolent Ling Yunzi was. In their minds, someone like Meng Hao should obviously have been disqualified immediately.
“He obviously just doesn’t have enough latent talent, so he used some insidious technique to disable the stone steles. How shameless!”
“There must be something weird about his cultivation base that he doesn’t want anyone to know about. To use such methods to skirt the issue is really detestable. You know, he should be disqualified! Merely getting sent to last place is really showing him mercy!”
“Punish him to sate our anger!”
Everyone on the Ancient Road of Dao Seeking was furious at Meng Hao, especially those who hadn’t made a name for themselves in the previous two stages. Those who had excelled in the assessments of talent, cultivation, and age were especially angry.
“This isn’t fair!” yelled Meng Hao.
“Not fair?” replied Ling Yunzi, glaring back at him. “You didn’t earn any marks in the last three stages, you wasted several stone steles, and even depleted some of the valuable resources of the Ruins of Immortality! You’re lucky to not be disqualified! I dare you to keep yapping!”
Anyone else who was in Meng Hao’s position that received such words and such a gaze from Ling Yunzi would instantly be filled with awe, fear, and concern over the consequences of their words. However, as far as Meng Hao was concerned, he hadn’t come here to join any sect.
“Oh great and powerful senior,” he said, “I know that I was in the wrong. Listen, how about this. Just give me three more stone steles to try out. If they don’t work, then junior will resign himself to his fate.”
Ling Yunzi gaped at Meng Hao, so angry that he almost felt like laughing. Were it not for Meng Hao’s previous performance having attracted the attention of all the spectators outside, he would definitely disqualify him immediately. Meng Hao was turning into a real headache. In the end, Ling Yunzi just pretended he didn’t hear him.
“The sixth, seventh, and eighth stages will assess your divine sense, willpower, and intuition!”
In response to Ling Yunzi’s words, Meng Hao blinked. Inwardly, he vowed that the next time he saw Fan Dong’er, he would definitely show her who was boss, and vent his anger toward Ling Yunzi on her.
“You will pass through these three stages simultaneously. Each of you will find yourself in your own world, filled with unique and strange phenomena, which you will use to create your own divine ability!
“Depending on the results of your creation, you will be presented with a certain number of….” At this point, Ling Yunzi faltered for a moment before speaking the final two words.
“… stone steles!”
When Meng Hao heard the words ‘stone steles,’ his heart began to thump, and his eyes shone brightly.
Ling Yunzi waved his hand, causing all of the altars began to tremble; massive amounts of fog began to accumulate, covering over everyone present. Then, the power of teleportation spread out, and everyone disappeared.
Outside in the Ninth Mountain and Sea, everyone settled their qi and calmed their minds, then focused on the scenes playing out on the vortex screens. It could be said that the first two stages tested fighting, and the third through fifth stages tested the foundation. In that case, the sixth, seventh and eighth stages tested creativity!
For cultivators, creativity required divine sense, willpower, and of course intuition.
Every time the Three Great Daoist Societies held a recruitment event, shocking and peerless individuals would create divine abilities in these three stages that would become incredibly famous.
Everyone was watching with keen anticipation.
In the starry sky palace, the Patriarchs were no longer squabbling, but instead, were watching with rapt attention. The Five Holy Lands, the Three Great Daoist Societies, all of them were closely examining the screens, and the cultivators on the Ancient Roads of the Nascent Soul, Spirit Severing and Dao Seeking.
The people who had ended up on the name lists of the various sects were the subject of special scrutiny. As long as they maintained good positions during these three stages, then there was no question about whether or not they would eventually be recruited.
As for the rest of the people who hadn’t made it onto the name lists, if they performed spectacularly in these three stages, they would surely be noticed and their names would be added to the lists.
Up in the palace among the stars, everyone was sighing emotionally.
“Creating a divine ability is not a simple thing! It’s very difficult…. I can’t wait to see what stunning divine abilities we will see!”
“In any other place, it would probably be easier to find a phoenix feather or a qilin horn than to find someone in this group who could create a divine ability. However, the Ruins of Immortality are a special place, with a unique power. There are astonishing things here that would normally be very rare, or even nonexistent in the outside world, things that can inspire the competitors, and influence them inwardly.”
“That’s right, on the Ancient Roads, it will be much easier for them to create divine abilities. If they can’t make one here, it shows that their future path will not stretch very far.”
“Divine abilities must be created, a process that stems from the intuition of the creator. Willpower could be considered part of intuition, whereas divine will acts as a Dao Protector. In the final analysis, the same objects and the same source of inspiration will be viewed differently by different people, and can lead to different forms of enlightenment.”
“From ancient times until now, the Daoist Societies have held this trial by fire on several occasions. The most powerful person to ever participate was Sir Fan from the Nine Seas God World. When he created his divine ability that year, he caused nineteen stone steles to appear, which is a record that stands to this day!”
“He created The Mortal Sea Becomes Immortal, which was eventually developed into a Daoist magic, one of the most powerful ever!” 1
Meanwhile, as the people in the starry sky palace were sighing in emotional reminiscence, all of the people being teleported opened their eyes as the scenery around them became clear.
A tremor ran through Meng Hao as he looked around at completely unfamiliar lands. Everything around him was a mass of black soil that stretched out as far as the eye could see.
It was blazingly hot, and nine suns could be seen high up in the sky, almost like nine mighty Immortals looking out across the lands.
This place was a wasteland!
Scattered structures were visible off in the distance, half sunken into the soil; those that remained above the surface were in a state of collapse. However, carvings of auspicious beasts could be seen on their surfaces, harkening back to their former glory.
A moaning wind blew through the land, brushing against the black soil, causing what sounded like a sad melody to spring up. It filled one with the desire to go searching for whoever might have listened to such a song in the past, but as it floated across the land, it seemed to be drifting through countless ages of time, and ancient memories.
Meng Hao stood there, completely alone in this vast stretch of land.
The only thing to accompany him was the murmuring wind, the black soil that stretched out in all directions, and the ruins that could be seen off in the distance.
Being in such a location caused Meng Hao’s mood to sink, and his eyes flickered with a strange light.
“So, this place can influence the emotions,” he thought, sending his divine sense spreading out. It swept the area, and in addition to everything he had already seen, he could now sense a faint pressure weighing down on him.
If he hadn’t sent his divine sense out, he would have never detected it…. Furthermore, he was only aware of it within the range of his divine sense.
Meng Hao’s expression slowly changed as he carefully examined his surroundings using divine sense. Now he could sense that there were actually different ranges of pressures, some strong, some weak, coming from all the various ruins lying about!
It was at this point that Ling Yunzi’s voice echoed out to everyone on the Ancient Road of Dao Seeking. It almost sounded like it was coming from a different world that overlapped with this one.
“Sixth stage, divine sense.
“Seventh stage, willpower.
“Eighth stage, intuition.
“The world you are in contains 99 ruins, as well as a virtually intact Immortal pavilion. The pressure is different in each area, and you will find different forms of enlightenment in each location. The more powerful your divine sense is, the more Immortal ruins you will be able to sense, and the greater your enlightenment will be.
“After you find each Immortal ruin, your willpower will determine whether or not you can stand up to the pressure there.
“Your intuition will decide your final type of enlightenment, and how it becomes a divine ability!” Ling Yunzi’s archaic voice echoed about in the wasteland; it almost sounded like he was a figure from ancient times, that his voice was being affected by the agedness of the ruins and then transmitted through time into the ears of the competitors.
The wind whimpered, and the land looked as ancient as ever. Meng Hao’s eyes glittered as he sent his divine sense out and found that it was impossible to cover the entire world. He could only see seven sets of ruins.
The nearest was about three thousand meters away, and it appeared to be a dried up well, surrounded by a broken-down wall.
Meng Hao strolled over, and when he was about three hundred meters away from the well, he could sense pressure pushing down on him. It was powerful, like a windstorm.
The windstorm bore down on him, accompanied by a voice that, when compared to Ling Yunzi, truly did seem to come from ancient times.
“Whenever I see it, I think of you….
“To anyone who hears my voice in the future: Have you felt the same way as I do? Do you also have an object that makes you think of someone?”
- Sir Fan’s surname in Chinese is 凡 fán, a surname shared by Fan Dong’er, which means “ordinary” or “mortal.” In the divine ability he created, the word “mortal” is the same character, a play on words. ↩