Even in the palace, there were still a few cold gasps, so low that they went unheard, that rang out. Ancientpine’s gaze was deep and profound like the ocean. He was very understanding of Xu Yangyi’s talents. If he didn’t even understand his own subordinates’ talents, then he would be titled as ancestor in vain.
Five years ago, in the shocking Vermilion Snow Massacre, several thousand cultivators had jointly resisted a half-step Core Formation, and eight Foundation Establishment cultivators had died in battle, yet Xu Yangyi had come out alive.
Ancientpine had even read a part of the internal data. That day in the Unrivaled Beneath the Heavens Arena, Xu Yangyi had assailed the middle stage of Qi Condensation but had been forcefully interrupted by Chu Tianyi. Now… just as he probed Xu Yangyi’s cultivation, he found that this child had already crossed half of the middle stage of Qi Condensation!
Such speed… could be rated as godly fast! In twenty years, Xu Yangyi was on the verge of approaching late Qi Condensation! Even supposing he entered Foundation Establishment in forty-four to forty-five years, he was still bound to be envied by countless people! The name of genius was absolutely not lost to escape!
However, what truly caused Ancientpine to stir with this thought wasn’t merely cultivation and talent. He had lived for a very long time and witnessed too many so-called geniuses. A true genius was the kind to survive until the end and possess talent to surpass their generation! They were then regarded as a genius among geniuses!
The rest were only bones and burial mounds.
He studied Xu Yangyi deeply. After ages, he finally directed his first remark to Xu Yangyi, “I have three questions. The answerer and the answer have nothing in common with each other. Today, I too want to hear your answer.”
“Yes!” Xu Yangyi cupped his hands and replied. Upon guessing the notion bubbling in Ancientpine’s heart, Xu Yangyi forced down the fiery passion of his thoughts.
“The first question. What is strength?”
Xu Yangyi hadn’t foresaw this question, and it somewhat went against the grain of his expectations. Nevertheless, he had long since had his own answer to this question. Whether or not it would cater to Ancientpine’s delight he didn’t know. He only understood that he believed this was his best answer.
“Strength is a general reference to realm. The higher one’s realm, the greater one’s might. However, Junior believes strength is not only realm. It is also just not power.”
He glanced imperceptibly at Daomaster Ancientpine, yet the other was peaceful like a lake and devoid of the least bit expression. Simply, the faces of all the Foundation Establishment cultivators in his surroundings were incomparably cautious.
“The present is Cultivation Civilization. True, Core Formation Dao Masters are powerful, yet in this world there are likewise all kinds of restrictions. For example… a kind of item under each province.”
Ancientpine’s gaze suddenly sparked, and he looked at Xu Yangyi with some surprise. Emperor Armament… he actually knows of Emperor Armaments?
Not even in his dreams did it occur to Ancientpine that Xu Yangyi had an Animus Armament on his person. This was the reason Floatingcloud had spared nothing to act against Xu Yangyi. However, he didn’t bear it too much to mind. To those below Core Formation, this was indeed an absolute secret, but to him, it had early on become business as usual.
“In addition, there is the Cultivation Court. Rumor has it that Heavens Law also possess five ultimate weapons. These are all restrictions. In the era of Cultivation Civilization, if one wants to truly become a powerhouse, what is needed is not just realm but also courage and wisdom.”
Ancientpine still hadn’t declared any standing.
“Without courage, one dares not enter a secret realm to seek destiny. Without courage, one has no heart to kill. Not daring to contend or plunder. As for modern resources, to use a fraction is one fraction less. By the day, qi growers thinner. Junior believes that one without courage is not enough to be called a cultivator. They can only be called all-capable.”
“Without wisdom, under the present circumstances, perhaps the sun of Foundation Establishment would simply be unseen. Even if one’s talents are unhindered in breadth and dimension. So, Junior believes that strength isn’t only one thing. It is the sum of wisdom, courage, and realm. The higher one’s realm, the more important the other two are.”
Daomaster Ancientpine nodded unhurriedly yet still didn’t reveal any opinion. “Second question. What is a cultivator?”
What is a cultivator? By these words, eight silhouettes immediately emerged in Xu Yangyi’s heart. Heroic spirits who had confronted the Greater Demon Vermilion Snow in a battle to the death without retreat, defending several thousand lives. That battle enlightened him as to what was a cultivator.
“That which is responsibility is that which is shouldered!” Xu Yangyi raised his head without the slightest hesitation. He enunciated each word and said resolutely, his voice could chop nails and slice iron.
“Good!” Unexpectedly, these words caused Ancientpine to suddenly slap the armrest of his throne. He made a deep sigh. “A good ‘that which is responsibility is that which is shouldered’!”
The subjects each realm was able to touch upon were wholly different. Only at Core Formation did Ancientpine understand how heavy the burden was on his shoulders! He seemed to be somewhat bestirred with emotion and looked to an unknown place. “How many people believe… that the Core Formation ancestors enjoy all in the world to the utmost limit. They all think that Core Formation is the summit of life… Unfortunately, who can understand such a feeling of loneliness at the top…”
“A flight of birds soar to ends unseen… A lonely cloud drifts away at leisure…” he finished murmuring and looked towards Xu Yangyi. “Ten years ago, I had forty-two disciples, but now I only have thirteen…” 
“I can also tell you that at the beginning of the Nation’s Founding, there existed twenty-seven at Core Formation. Now, only eighteen remain.”
Xu Yangyi’s heart suddenly paused for half a beat. Eighteen people? Not… twelve? There are six other Core Formation? In these past several decades, nine ancestors have actually fallen? Where did they meet their demise?
“Once you reach Foundation Establishment, you will naturally know. That… is a realm completely different from Qi Condensation.” Ancientpine restrained a wistful sigh. “Third question…”
“What is cultivation?”
Xu Yangyi was silent. After a long time, he then faced towards Ancestor Ancientpine and cupped his fist. “Solitary.”
A word’s emergence brought thirteen voices to all sigh incomparably. A lone remark to hit target!
“Perhaps…” To Xu Yangyi’s surprise, Ancestor Ancientpine smiled faintly. “You think you’re able to endure this loneliness?”
“As you someday ascend the peak and as you face the eight directions, you will discover as you survey the world that there is actually none who you are familiar with. White clouds turn to the grayness of dogs, and the things of the world transform. The street back then where you were born has already become a tall building, and your school of then is soon filled with unfamiliar faces in a familiar setting. How will you handle a heart tribulation of this level?”
Silence once more. After a few minutes passed, Xu Yangyi clasped his hands and said solemnly, “I’ll still rely on this heart.”
Serenity continued. After a brief period, Ancientpine laughed. “Still rely on this heart, not bad… It is merely good and evil, but it is that and nothing more.”
“Jadesun.” He shut his eyes. “Invite your Sixteenth Junior Apprentice-Brother out.”
“Yes.” Jadesun nodded and followed with a wave of his hand. Instantly, a shadow array took shape. After a few seconds, a youth wearing headphones and reading a comic book appeared in the middle of the array, his unfathomable eyes wide open.
He was approximately 1.75 meters tall, and his skin was suntanned. He had a square face and two strong brows, yet the muscles on his entire body were exceptionally robust. He wasn’t inferior to a bodybuilder on television by the slightest margin.
However, as soon as he clearly recognized everything in his surroundings, he immediately kneeled on the ground, his brows beaded with sweat. “G-Greetings, Master-Ancestor! M-Master-Ancestor, I-I…”
In haste, he placed the comic book behind him.
“Fang Cheng,” Ancientpine’s voice conveyed a fair bit of annoyance. “Tell Teacher how many times I have told you. Even if your talents are great in width and height, if you don’t cultivate with great effort you’ll remain a carp along the river. For all eternity, you will be incapable of being the carp that leaps over the Dragon’s Gate. Do you take Teacher’s words as wind passing the ears!”
“I have seen many, many geniuses with talent, but few who survived to half-step Core Formation!”
“D-Disciple dares not…”
“Hmph!” Ancientpine glanced at him disappointedly for not meeting his expectations, hating iron for not transforming into steel. He quelled his anger. “Everyone else, withdraw for now. Fang Cheng, after you finish competing with this young friend, immediately return to cultivation!”
“This is the descendant of a close friend.” Jadesun faced towards Xu Yangyi and said with indirect meaning, “Ancestor Ancientpine personally spends effort on his disciples and looks after them strictly.”
“Him?” Hearing the word “compete”, Fang Cheng looked at Xu Yangyi suspiciously and gave him a twice-over. “What… if I beat him to death?”
Daomaster Ancientpine was met with annoyance and chuckled, “You won’t. Use your strongest move.”
“Yes…” Fang Cheng glanced at Xu Yangyi, still unconvinced. In the wake of Daomaster Ancientpine’s hand wave, everyone else resembled shadows and all drifted away in the air. Moreover, the duo surprisingly arrived at a countryside location.
The moon and stars were watery, and black magpies flew to the south. Xu Yangyi looked at everything in his surroundings with astonishment. Once more, he was bewitched by the Core Formation realm’s might. 
Raising a hand to change heaven and earth… There would inevitably be a day… where he too would reach this step!
The wind rustled through everyone’s clothes, causing their clothing to softly float upwards. Ancientpine looked at the starry heavens. Amidst the infinite silence, only his proud and solitary voice remained. “The Featherwood Guard’s Xingtian Legion Commander Xu Yangyi, hear and obey.”
“Junior is here.”
Ancientpine didn’t speak. Eventually, he said unhurriedly, “Already, I haven’t accepted a disciple in twenty years…”
“Are you willing to become This Dao Master’s seventeenth disciple today?”
“If you are unwilling, you need not compete with Fang Cheng. Someone will escort you back to the Featherwood Guard.”
“Junior is willing!” Without hardly any hesitation! Xu Yangyi immediately answered! At this instant, the final piddling afterimage of Ancestor Floatingcloud’s Damocles Sword above his head scattered into smoke and ash!
Dao-Master Disciple! Even though the status of a Qi Condensation cultivator with the same cultivation was different, it still couldn’t be mentioned in the same breath at all! In the vast and unbounded China, how many people had become Dao-Master Disciples in total? And which one of them wasn’t a fiend lacking in weaving talents, courage, and wisdom?
He wasn’t unaware of how many geniuses there were like him. He only knew that at this moment, a type of feeling known as approval brimmed his heart in full. Henceforth, he was free. The endless ocean allowed fish to leap without restraint, and the unlimited sky allowed birds to soar in liberty! 
Because of his disciple, Daomaster Titanspirit had instantly fallen out with Daomaster Yue. Even if Daomaster Floatingcloud was even more fearless, he still absolutely wouldn’t dare to set his hand towards another Dao Master’s disciple!
Daomaster Ancientpine laughed faintly, “Begin.”
“Be ready to welcome me, Fellow Daoist.” Fang Cheng also appeared to be very excited. At this instant, Xu Yangyi sensed that the other was at the middle stage of Qi Condensation, as well!
Swooooosh! With the fall of his voice, Fang Cheng’s bodily aura increased dramatically! One by one, his clothes transformed into tatters and fell down, yet there was actually a strange black array on his body!
At the same time, his build began to swiftly grow taller and bigger. Ultimately, he became a full 2.3 to 2.4 meters tall! The black array on his body seemed to come alive, and a myriad serpents appeared to twist rapidly to cover his entire body! His forehead surprisingly split open and grew a blood-red eye!
“Demonization!” Fang Cheng’s present aura was totally different from that of the simple and honest youth from moments ago, instead filled with a murderous aura. He faced Xu Yangyi and laughed heartily, “My body is half-human and half-demon. It bears an Elephant-Dragon’s bloodline. Fellow Daoist, receive my move!”
His whole body’s qi shortly converged in his two hands. As for this qi, it was shadow qi. In a twinkling, his hands seemed to don a layer of black armor. The fingers were set with solid-like barbs, and under the moonlight, the pieces of armor radiated a heart-palpitating brilliance.
At this very moment, the qi of Xu Yangyi’s whole body was already beginning to fully mobilize. His senses were telling him that the other’s move was in no way normal!