It was unknown when, but Chu Zhaonan had already shut his eyes to rest. However, no one paid attention to him. Nobody saw that the veins on his hand were completely revealed, and the corner of his mouth was faintly trembling.
He was also a champion, but the disparity was surprisingly so great!
Just from the kick moments ago, he knew that Xu Yangyi absolutely couldn’t be trifled with. He had acknowledged the other, but it had gone beyond his expectations that ten minutes later, he, a champion, would actually serve to become another’s foil!
The women kept on going on about the two champions, but it was self-evident who was number one and who was number two. He was practically the same as a tacked-on freebie!
“Seniors.” A voice suddenly rang out. Xu Yangyi flipped through the documents and said calmly, “I still haven’t graduated.”
“It’s not important that you haven’t graduated. As they say in the movies: ‘It’s the twenty-first century, talent is the most important’.” Lilac pulled on Xu Yangyi’s and Chu Zhaonan’s hands. “Won’t Student Chu and Student Xu agree to give me, Big Sis Lilac, the honor? The CSIB won’t treat you two unfairly in the slightest way.”
Chu Zhaonan wordlessly shook off her hand. Lilac smiled but paid no mind. Xu Yangyi had broken off from her as well, but she held onto him in perseverance.
“The Featherwood Guard won’t mistreat you, either!” The difference between the silver bell and the barbell was that of unequal timbre and volume. It was evident Hibiscus’s voice was growing louder without stop. “If you sign the contract now, we can give you an arcane effort in advance!” 
“Huff…” A gasp came out from someone’s mouth. A fervent expression appeared on every person’s face. Only Chu Zhaonan’s cheek muscles twitched. An arcane effort… This was the source of establishing oneself!
Everyone had heard that it was difficult to obtain an arcane effort. It wasn’t until one had amassed enough resources and been assessed could they be considered for it and go make the exchange. But now, with this one arcane effort that didn’t even require testing, some people had already pledged their futures.
Clap clap clap… At this time, the sound of applause was suddenly heard. A man wearing western-style clothes and gold-rimmed glasses walked in slowly, his footsteps neither tense nor slow, as if they brought a calming mystic power. He bowed courteously. “Have I come late? Why are things so lively?”
“Hello, students. Everyone may call me C-Vulture. I am Vulture of the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion.”
The Bountiful Treasures Pavilion… The name suddenly caused everyone to make a complicated expression. Even Xu Yangyi couldn’t help but spare a couple glances at the man.
This name… was truly one where the more you loved it, the more you hated it. It was the cultivation world’s greatest megamart and largest shopping platform, and of course, it also had the most expensive prices!
With their limited internet access, Heavens Law students could only dedicate a large majority of their monthly allowance to the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion.
“This student speaks well.” As if Vulture hadn’t seen it, he smiled towards Xu Yangyi and nodded. “Since you still haven’t graduated, why should recruitment fighting be so severe?”
“Presently, all of the students haven’t even left the branch training base yet, but everyone understands the information on the internet. Everyone knows that every year, right before graduation, there will be famous companies recruiting from each prestigious institution, but only to recruit the true crème de la crème… Perhaps all of you believe right now that your own cultivations are quite low. However…” He sighed leisurely, “the base number of cultivators is even lower…”
“There are approximately a million cultivators in China. Once every five years, the number of graduates might number a thousand.” He laughed, “It might be a bit unpleasant to listen to, but this pittance of people isn’t even enough to fill the gap between teeth.”
“The difficulty of the graduation exam isn’t high, and it’s not that tough. It’s remarkable that as long as you can get into this segment, you’re a cultivator. As long as you’re a cultivator, the Featherwood Guard, CSIB, and Bountiful Treasures Pavilion won’t turn their backs to you in any way. I’ll give everyone a mathematical figure…”
He coughed lightly, and his smile vanished. A similarly formidable spiritual pressure flared within the airplane.
Late Qi Condensation!
Xu Yangyi gently raised a brow. He hadn’t even graduated, but three late Qi Condensation cultivators had come here to recruit him…
In the cultivation world, such a person was already considered a figure capable of ruling over an undeveloped city. For example, if Lilac, Hibiscus, and Vulture went to Sanshui City, they would’ve undoubtedly put the region into peace without even turning over ocean spray.
Although he held a faint understanding that qi was sparse during the End of Days, leading to a pitiful few cultivators, he absolutely hadn’t expected it would be THIS small!
“Among 500 people, approximately five to six have the hope of entering Foundation Establishment. But in these five to six people, it’s possible that a Core Formation master won’t appear.” The man surveyed the crowd and said monotonously, “However, all organizations—not just to mention China, but the entire world, England, and Japan—are all like this… composed of 80% Qi Condensation cultivators, 19% Foundation Establishment cultivators, and 1% Core Formation cultivators. Each one of China’s Big Three has their own distant origin. They cannot possibly ignore the circumstances of cultivators in any way.”
“Each of us has something we’re good at. Were only looking out for everyone's desires.” He swept his eyes over Lilac and Hibiscus. “Doesn’t everyone think such marketing tactics are too slovenly?”
“I sent a letter; one every day. But the school didn’t get back to me.” Lilac twirled her hair and said regretfully.
Everyone understood and looked at Xu Yangyi at the same time, with Chu Zhaonan’s expression being even more complicated. Especially the gaze he looked at Xu Yangyi with. It was silent, already wrought with admiration and jealousy.
This was something everyone else was betting on.
The present conditions shouldn’t have been the greatest. If the women had made a gamble, then they had used a relatively cheap contract to bind two potential prospects. Especially, since the two of them were both the best of their branches! The probability that the greatness of their future successes wouldn’t be considered minor could be bet on!
“Fucking hell…” A student could no longer contain his bitter laugh. “Way to really make a guy so damn angry…”
“This is the reality.” Vulture smiled. “If you’re going to walk it, then this is the only realistic path. In cultivation, your own strength is number one. The myriad living things are all nothing but crickets and ants… Forget about it, you’ll naturally come to understand later on.”
Vulture continued, “As long as your strength is enough, there’s no way that you won’t go unseen by high-level powers. Moreover, they’ll hold no grudge in grooming you. Power has always been the proportion of Core Formation masters, the invisible contrast of strength between countries. If… you reach Foundation Establishment, even so far as to Core Formation, not to speak of commanding wind at your grasp and rain at your fancy, I guarantee that 90% of your requests will go through without hesitation! I’ve cultivated for 62 years to this day, and I’ve seen many, many things like this.”
“Strength. Strength is the reason all of you can keep on standing and talking. It’s the reason why others can invest in you. However it is not…” His glasses flashed with a cold glint. “the reason that brings you to your knees, and obey.”
62 years? Quite a few people looked at Vulture in amazement; he appeared not a day over thirty.
“After cultivating, it’s extremely easy to return to your youth…” Just as Vulture was about to say something, he suddenly saw Lilac’s oppressive gaze, and coughed dryly just as he opened his mouth.
Hibiscus said coldly, “Propaganda is propaganda. I won’t block you from spreading it, but what are you yammering for?”
Xu Yangyi didn’t speak. He was all in favor of Vulture’s words.
His mortal enemy… even now, he didn’t know what Its rank was, however, It was also of true strength! He was absolutely, categorically unwilling to need an organization’s assistance to kill It.
“Alright, I’m done talking. This is our Bountiful Treasures Pavilion’s recruitment materials. I want to remind all of you while I’m at it that Heavens Law enrolls new students every ten years and has a graduation once every five. Every graduation ceremony is taken as a grand provincial ceremony by the cultivation world. When the time comes, not only will we be there, but Foundation Establishment Seniors will be there, as well. Furthermore, the assistants and secretaries of Core Formation masters will come to select people. Everyone, I hope by then we’ll be able to obtain a satisfying answer.”
Lilac sighed, a nameless rage emanating within her heart. The heck? What the hell was this?!
All of the Big Three was unable to shift their eyes away as they waited for the Heavens Law graduation. There was a demand for people everywhere! There was a shortage of people everywhere! Those that hadn’t graduated didn’t know how scarce elite cultivators were! On graduation day, who among China’s organizations wouldn’t be waiting with wide eyes?
The result was that No. 9310 had directly revealed this game. It had been ten years, but there was a new cultivator that had slayed an anomaly during their graduation exam! She hadn’t even slept as she ran over here. But the outcome?
Lilac glanced hatefully at the representatives of the Featherwood Guard and the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion. She clenched her teeth and spoke no longer.
Presently, she had wanted to take advantage of Xu Yangyi on the aircraft before he made contact with the true world, but the meddling thoughts of others had already prevented that. She could only wait to recruit on site. However, by that time, her opponents wouldn’t only be the heritage organizations, but the assistants, private secretaries, and personal disciples of Dao Masters. Their origin was their prestige!
“Goddamn it…” With nowhere to give vent to her belly full of anger, she said nothing and walked back towards the fore hold.
Vulture laughed and also walked back. However, just as he left and placed his hand on the cabin door, he suddenly recalled something, turning his head and chuckling, “I’d like to mention something in passing.”
“Our Bountiful Treasures Pavilion has reached a deal of the greatest capacity and highest monetary sum with Ali Baba’s entire system. It’s not comparable with those messy small fries by any conceivable measure. We specialize in all kinds of ‘side doors’, for example, alchemy, artificing, talismans, and so on. It can be said that every weapon in the cultivation world bears the mark of the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion. Even if it’s not of our assembly, the components surely are. Such as the Beretta 92F at this student’s waist.” 
Vulture glanced at Chu Zhaonan, who had his eyes hung low, making it unknown what the handsome youth was thinking. At Chu Zhaonan’s waist, there was a holstered pistol. Whether the pistol was real was unknown, only a small part of the butt was revealed. On it, a few mysterious runes could be seen.
Lilac paused in step, and Hibiscus stopped as well.
“If some students have a talent in respect to alchemy, artificing, or talismans…”
Before his voice even fell, Lilac and Hibiscus had already roared out eagerly, “We’re willing to dish out five times the hiring price for those students that join our organizations!”
“Ten times.” Vulture’s smile was splendid like spring wind, but his voice was terrifyingly icy. “Ten times the price. A treatment of ten times for ordinary students. The Bountiful Treasures Pavilion recruits talents with Elysial Bestowments from all kinds of fields to join our organization.” 
He looked deeply at Xu Yangyi and Chu Zhaonan. “If… by chance it is the two champions, we are willing to…”
“Twenty times!” Lilac’s voice was fairly sharp.
“Thirty times.” Vulture laughed and stuck up two fingers.
Lilac and Hibiscus gaped, sensibly pausing at the ridiculous financial expense of the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion. In their hearts, they were itching to trample this sleazebag to death. 
“Isn’t it quite lacking?” Seemingly unmoved by external objects, Chu Zhaonan finally spoke.
“How is it lacking…” Lilac laughed wryly, “How many people does the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion have? Don’t they just have a hundred? While they don’t have a single Core Formation cultivator, they’re the wealthiest organization among the Big Three. They’re the organization with the most superior equipment… No one is willing to offend an alchemist, an artificer, or a talismancer… If any of you have an Elysial Bestowment, I guarantee that even if you failed your graduation exam, your treatment won’t differ in the slightest compared to a champion’s!”
“That’s incorrect. While refiners and formationists currently still have Dao inheritances, the alchemists’ heritage died out long ago.” Vulture sighed. “Too many things have been lost to history’s grand river. Modern alchemists are actually just glorified medicinalist… because even if they are grand medicinalist, they’re unable to create pills. Medicinal potency leakage is fundamentally unavoidable. They can only put pill elixir within a syringe.”
Xu Yangyi didn’t understand these words and asked curiously, “What is an Elysial Bestowment?”
“It’s a kind of… very profound feeling.” Hibiscus thought it over and answered his question. “There are some things that science is unable to validate through experimentation. If you really want to put it in scientific terms, there are approximately 10 billion neurons in the brain. People who awaken Elysial Bestowments can attain 20 billion, even as much as 30 billion. It’s a kind of exceptional sensitivity towards all outer stimulus. While cultivating, one can truly grasp onto every crucial moment, each brush mark, and the scope of qi utilization. Such a person…”
Thump… Xu Yangyi’s heart softly trembled. After he’d left the hospital, he was already starting to become accustomed to the increased acuity of his senses. A life as if the world had been disrobed from a layer of cotton.
Even though he was concealing a ticking-time bomb within his qi sea, his life still had to go on.
“So your five sense become even sharper?” he asked calmly, pushing down on the faint palpitations of his heart.
1. 功法 - this is how I decided to translate this. Arcane Effort. Anyone who has tried to translate this term knows how vague the idea behind these two characters are. It can often be thought of as a “mystical ability achieved through continuous labor/effort” etc. Depending on what translations you’ve read, you might see this translated as a bunch of different things with the one that pops out at me being “merit law” Based on the story’s background (modern day with some scientific elements) I decided to give it this name. I really wanted to stress the time + labor put into learning this skill as well as giving it a strong name based on the esotericism.
3. 天赋 - Elysial Bestowment - learners of Chinese may realize it was just “talent”, “innate skill”, “gift”. This word is referred to in a specific way that makes it more of a “thing”/”concept”. In this novel, it's a pretty clear distinction that it’s not something that's run of the mill. It is an idea that one has been blessed by the heavens to be good at everything/something.