“The last prize was Fortuity Profound Elixir. The one before it was a high-grade magik artifact.”
Xu Yangyi’s expression finally became serious.
Fortuity Profound Elixir didn’t have any other efficacies. It was dark-green like water, hazy like smoke and fog, and could be injected into the vein via syringe… Perhaps great Foundation Establishment and Core Formation cultivators would remain unmoved, but to initial-stage and middle-stage Qi Condensation cultivators, it was enough to go wild for!
It also had another name… known as Spirit Cleansing Elixir.
The elixir didn’t have any other effect. It only had one and that was to thoroughly wash away a cultivator’s flesh of impurities. It was a genuine ‘shedding of the mortal body and change of bones’! It could transform one’s constitution into one most suitable for cultivating!
Cultivation’s development to the present had proved long ago that qi was like the root of power and the body was a machine. If a comparison had to be made, wasn’t it similar to the movement that MMORPGs brought to computers during the year 2000?
Xu Yangyi was tempted, however the root of his temptation wasn’t because he could shed his body and make his bones anew, cleanse his meridians and rake his marrow. Instead… it was because of his qi sea!
His qi sea was in the middle of slowly expanding at a rate invisible to the naked eye. This matter was related to the small mysterious box that he was unable to discuss with anyone under any circumstances. If the Fortuity Profound Elixir was capable of resolving this problem, then things couldn’t be better!
In nearly a flash, he made his decision. If he’d heard about the Qualifier before, then he would’ve still been indifferent to it, but at this moment he resolved himself to put all of his strength into winning!
At long last, the lion had decided to tear away its sheepskin disguise. Even if it wasn’t the Fortuity Profound Elixir but some other prize, there was no question that it would be another prize on the same level!
“There’s not a single person who isn’t looking forward to a true arcane effort… right? Yuyang City’s champion?” Chu Zhaonan said and looked at Xu Yangyi’s expression.
“Contestants are divided into 369 ranks, but only the truly most powerful is capable of seizing a Core Formation master’s prize!” Chu Zhaonan straightened his figure and his entire bodily might erupted outwards like a volcano. He said heavily, word for word, “I, Chu Zhaonan, with the status as Tianfeng City’s champion, challenge you!”
Xu Yangyi looked at him calmly and nodded after ages. “I hope you can keep on standing until the end.”
“Good…” Chu Zhaonan narrowed his eyes and used his thumb to forcefully slash over his throat, licking his lips. “That really does bring me no end of excitement…”
Their voices were quite low, so low that none of the others could hear them. Xu Yangyi didn’t ask Chu Zhaonan why he knew about things that the school wouldn’t teach; this was a question that would go without answer.
Zuo Lun didn’t let them wait for too long. After their initial astonishment, he fished out a black paper crane from his jacket pocket and flicked it away with his finger. The paper crane flew away with a swagger.
Less than two minutes later, the paper crane flew back. As Zuo Lun received it, his brows suddenly jumped. He immediately took a step back and couldn’t help but bow at the waist, watching the paper crane incredulously.
The paper crane wasn’t black.
Instead… it was red!
“This… This is…” His distraction lasted for less than a second, and he quickly turned his head back excitedly, his throat moving in glee as he said hoarsely, “Rookies, listen well, you’re in luck! There’s a Foundation Establishment Senior showing up! This is your goddamn, heaven-sent golden opportunity to rise to the top!”
In this instant, he we unable to stop the heaving of his chest, and his eyes somewhat reddened. After he finished speaking, he couldn’t restrain himself from quietly cursing, “Fuck… This luck… How come I didn’t hear about a Foundation Establishment senior observing my ceremony when I was graduating?!”
Foundation Establishment Senior!
In a split second, not only them, but almost everyone’s eyes held fanaticism as they looked at the red paper crane that could even be said to be cute.
Cautious, Xu Yangyi waited with rapt attention, and Chu Zhaonan was heavy like water. However, the audible sound of rough breathing was a total irregularity coming from a cultivator’s body! These three words brought extreme admiration in their hearts!
A century for Foundation Establishment. To these newcomers who had just graduated, Foundation Establishment represented countless riches! A legend that light firearms were almost completely ineffective against! A whole 200 years of life!
In other words, a Foundation Establishment cultivator... was a human-shaped monster!
These beings had always been figures only found in books. The headmaster of an academy branch was at most only late Qi Condensation. To these students, Foundation Establishment was a familiar yet strange word. They didn’t expect that their graduation ceremony would surprisingly have a Foundation Establishment cultivator in attendance!
If they were picked by one...
If they were received by one as a disciple...
For a moment, no one spoke. There was only the sound of fairly rushed breathing, betraying the state of everyone’s minds.
Xu Yangyi quietly clenched his fists. A Foundation Establishment cultivator would be observing the Qualifier… The graduation ceremony’s sequence of events hadn’t been relayed; this stroke of good fortune had been surprisingly concealed!
“If you’re accepted into a Foundation Establishment senior’s faction, it can be said that your path of cultivation has already opened up by a half. Seize this chance properly, recruits.” Zuo Lun sucked in deeply and waved his hand. The red paper crane flew over to his finger, and a sentence was clearly transmitted into his mind afterwards.
A person per room. Let the assignment be to themselves.
At the same time, inside a gigantic room, a slender hand with a platinum ring on its forefinger gently set down a coffee cup that had been held up to a mouth. A pair of long and narrow eyes calmly swept over a tremendous widescreen.
Altogether, there were ten lattices. On the lower right side were the students’ numbers, and on the left side, there was a person in each frame. In front of the display screen, there were about five or six people sitting down. Behind them were ten-odd people standing up.
At the very most center, there was a middle-aged man wearing a tunic suit. He had tiny eyes, long and narrow, and his hair was styled in a short buzz. He wasn’t tall or short, and he wore a platinum ring on his right hand. His skin was frighteningly white, as if he was a vampire in broad daylight.
His lanky fingers laid criss-crossed over his chest, and he sunk himself entirely in a cozy, wide chair. In the room, apart from his soft chair that took up no less than half a meter of space, the other chairs were all the size of a small toilet seat.
At his left, there was a youth, twenty-three to twenty-four years of age, sitting down in a western suit, with his back ramrod straight. On his right, there was an old man with a full head and beard of white hair who was wearing a smile on his face.
The room was silent, without fanfare or chatter. The only thing that remained was the faint, inaudible sound of breathing. The middle-aged man closed his eyes, and from time to time the light sound that came from stroking the ring on his finger was heard.
The old man on the right side smiled faintly. “Shadowslay, you still have many years of your life. Do you have a seed you fancy this time? Wouldn’t it be better to let this old one pick first?”
Shadowslay didn’t respond, slowly caressing his ring. After a while, he glanced at Xu Yangyi’s window and said indifferently. “I do.”
“The kid that killed that berserker?” Firecloud followed his glance and smiled thinly. “Nothin’ but pecking between two spring chickens… but to be able to move the heart of the chief of the southern four provinces, Shadowslay, is also his destined fortune.”
“It’s just that…” He paused unhurriedly and took a sip of the cup of coffee he was holding. “I am interested in him, as well.”
The youth at the side raised his lips.
Shadowslay seemed to be a block of wood, his face without a shred of an expression. He said nothing. The youth behind him who was dressed in a full western suit and wearing gold-rimmed spectacles immediately stepped forward. He bowed respectfully at nearly a right angle and laughed, “Your Excellency Firecloud, His Excellency Shadowslay doesn’t have a single disciple…”
Firecloud smiled and nodded, a splendid smile on his plump face. His hand holding his cup of coffee paused, and he laughed willfully. “So it’s like that… I understand. Five years a graduation… Our first graduation wait was pretty painful. Our faction is lacking people… Hehe, so it’s finally time for blockhead to take on a disciple, huh…”
He seemed to sigh somewhat ruefully. “However…”
“Who allowed you to speak?” His laughter swept over the widescreen display. He didn’t even glance at the youth, and pounded his armrest rhythmically with his finger, his smile even worse. “Who gave you the right? A mortal?”
A heavy sound echoed in midair. As if two invisible, gigantic hands collided together in the air, the surrounding air congealed in an instant!
Kaboom… Kaboom… The echoing of heavy sounds ceased. Surprisingly, everything around was slightly trembling!
It was a mystery when but Shadowslay was already looking towards the old man. In kind, the old man smiled and looked at him.
Besides the youth on the left, the surrounding people’s complexions were drained to a ghastly pallor. The formless atmosphere between the two men caused their hearts to stop beating. The present scene held a death-like silence.
“P-P-Please forgive my offence…” After a momentary silence, the youth who had spoken was trembling from head to toe, his forehead slick with cold sweat. Without the least bit hesitation, he kneeled, his body trembling like sifting chaff. He yelled hoarsely, “Your Excellency! I beg your forgiveness! I’m sorry! Ten thousand apologies!”
“Scram, you will receive ten lashes. If you do not die, you shall come to serve This Throne again.” Shadowslay’s voice was somewhat raspy. He looked at the old man and said with a complicated tinge in his voice, “You actually broke through to middle Foundation Establishment?”
“I am no heaven-blessed hero like you. It was merely nothing more than my hard work to make up for my inadequacies.” Firecloud restrained his smile and leaned forward. His gaze swept over the number one at the lower left of Xu Yangyi’s and Chu Zhaonan’s portraits. “I scheduled these two in advance. Besides the paragon of the Qualifier, can you not let them come to me?”
Shadowslay raised a brow.
“Outside of any unexpected mishaps, that young Xu from Nantong Province has a 70% possibility of rising to the top.” Firecloud said softly, “I said three people, but I actually only want two. How about it?”
Shadowslay was silent. Several seconds later, he dimly said, “It’s not that there are no geniuses in these graduations, but it’s hard to meet a fiend like Sunnihilator even once in a century.”
“Nevertheless, it must be tried.” Firecloud laughed, “I’ll allow a small branch of your minerals company in Zhaoxue City. What do you say?”
After three minutes of silence, Shadowslay said faintly, “You may.”
“Tch…” At this time, the constantly silent youth at Shadowslay’s side surprisingly smiled. Yet Shadowslay and Firecloud didn’t have the least bit intention of interrupting.
“I’m much obliged.” Firecloud laughed and cupped his hands towards Shadowslay. He looked at the smiling youth at the side. “Mr. Fang, send my regards to the provincial governor on my behalf. What matter has brought your laughter?”
Fang Tansheng sipped at his coffee leisurely. “How can I dare laugh at the two Seniors? It’s just what Lord Firecloud said about this Xu… Xu Yangyi having a 70% chance of becoming the paragon. In my humble opinion, he doesn’t even have a 1% chance.”
“Oh?” Firecloud’s gaze flickered. “It seems there is some inside scoop I am unaware of?”
“It can’t be considered an inside scoop. It’s been nothing more than a decade. You two Immortal Masters are enthralled with cultivation; it’s normal that the both of you aren’t as versed regarding the world of ordinary mortals.” Fang Tansheng laughed and propped his hand on his chin. He looked complicatedly at the computer screen displaying Chu Zhaonan and smiled. “Immortal Masters, do you remember the strange tale in Mingshui Province’s capital, Panshan City, from fifteen years ago, ‘The Sunlit 10,000 Li Journey’ of the provincial governor's madam?” 
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Extended Note: These Foundation Establishment guys refer to themselves as 本座 literally “this seat”. I translate this as “this throne” because seat makes me think about a crappy seat on a bus. Refers to 本 - oneself and 座 - one’s own high ranking. Used in antiquity to denote nobility.
I want to include here the title of the chapter in Chinese because it will become relevant later: