The Sky Peng Sect elder reddened after saying his piece; there was nothing he could do. It seemed increasingly unlikely that any of them here would get the Blood Ganoderma.
Xi Yingchen’s swift display of force was intimidating enough by itself, but Lu Yun’s subsequent bounty to scare off Donglin Taihuang had only added fuel to their mental flames.
None of the powerhouses congregated here were brave enough to strike.
They were in Destiny City. Xi Yingchen was the senior disciple of the city lord and a peak arcane dao expert in his own right. Despite the potential opposition arrayed against him, he remained perfectly calm.
Moreover, Lu Yun’s exposure of Yi Tianling’s crimes backed them into a corner. If any of them made a misstep, they could very well become a target for the rest.
Qing Han was still in the process of breaking through. Her body remained in the bloody cocoon, but her nascent spirit had risen over Lu Yun’s formations. Energy gathered from the land, flowing to her in an enlightening stream of power and knowledge.
Perceiving the void meant understanding creation’s secrets. The Blood Ganoderma couldn’t help her with this part; she could rely on only her own talents.
She had many factors on her side: her cosmic constitution, the starstones she carried, the Dao Flower’s blessing, and the multitude of connate spirit roots within her. On paper, her talent was greater than Lu Yun’s.
The formations around Jadeite Manor lit up upon activation. A dense web of runes and lines wrapped all around the estate in a protective barrier. By the time the onlookers reacted, it was already too late for the hostile powerhouses to do anything.
“We shall see what happens at the Sovereign Ranking battles.” With a final glance at Qing Han, the experts retreated one by one with sneers on their faces.
The factions they hailed from had no shortage of talented geniuses, and most of the world treated the past tournament in Dusk Province as a joke. Five Youth Sovereigns? What were they worth?
This time, many more geniuses hidden behind the scenes would rise to the challenge, and their strength could very well match the two cultivators here today.
Xi Yingchen nodded to Lu Yun upon the departure of the threatening powerhouses, then disappeared as well.
Chu Yingxin glared at Jadeite Manor with a brooding look.
“You dare oppose me, Xi Yingchen? I see you haven’t taken second senior brother’s death to heart.” His expression grew colder as he passed over the kneeling Leng Che.
A guardian expert like Xi Yingchen was a superb deterrent to any and all would-be troublemakers. Furthermore, the river of a hundred billion premium crystals still hung over the manor as a stark reminder that the bounty against Donglin Taihuang was yet valid. Anyone who could kill him and bring his spirit to Jadeite Manor would collect a princely sum!
Barely anyone in the world would be brave enough to do so, of course. Killing the Donglin Clan’s number one genius was a surefire way to have one’s entire faction razed off the face of the world.
Qing Han took an entire day to finish her breakthrough. Reaching perceived void seemed to enhance her lightness and purity; the filthy disguise she had on was having a hard time hiding that part of her. Whenever she moved, heaven and earth focused on her.
She’d finished just in time, as well—the Sovereign Ranking would begin today.
An enormous scroll rolled out across Destiny City’s skyline, covering the entirety of its firmament.
The Sovereign Ranking!
Three golden words were emblazoned upon it.
“So there really is such a thing after all!” Everyone lucky enough to see it for themselves was astounded by its glory.
“The immortal dao is a path for the living, and intimately connected to all life. When living creatures require a Sovereign Ranking, the immortal dao will respond to that need.” Within Jadeite Manor, Lu Yun and Qing Han exchanged knowing smiles.
The scroll contained more than just its own name. It was densely packed with the names of all kinds of cultivators… at least thirty million of them! Everyone who’d come to participate was recorded, albeit, only the ones still alive.
Countless experts from all over the world opened their eyes in unison, looking toward Destiny City.
North Sea, Levitating Island.
“Although humanity created the dao of immortals, it belongs to all living things. It is different from the human dao of the past.” A golden ape stood upon a cliff, overlooking the sea below. Its keen, glowing eyes were directed at the Sovereign Ranking above, just like everyone else.
Once upon a time, Scarlet Ape had cultivated the human dao of the Primeval Era. At some point, it would’ve needed to take human form to continue walking the path. However, it’d reached its peak only after the Primeval Era, in the age of immortal dao.
In that tumultuous age, every race vied for dominance throughout the momentous events of the times. With the creation of the immortal dao however, humanity had scaled the peaks once more and regained its status as lord over all creation.
A number of things had happened afterward that led to the demise of human rule. The ape had experienced it rather personally, as a human expert had sealed it into a dragon nest to act as its curse’s source.
“The immortal dao is inclusive of all things. Monster spirit, demon, human, divine… I wonder how those wretched divines managed to destroy it and establish their own in the first place.” Muttering to itself, Scarlet Ape glanced toward Dusk Province to where the Skandha Range was.
“The desolate willow… a great power who existed in the era of human dao. I did not expect it to have forgotten the past as well… The Skandha Extinction Tomb is a devilish curse indeed. No wonder there are barely any divines left, and they have all absented themselves from the world’s stage.”
The ape inhaled deeply. “In the era of human dao, the divines betrayed humanity alongside the dragons, phoenixes, qilins, and turtles. The humans forgave them in the next era, the one of immortal dao, only for them to betray their friends once again. Such inconstant, ungrateful allies are not worth having.”
A golden path appeared in the sky. One end was attached to the sky over Destiny City, but the other end was too far away to be seen. Thirty million Life Glyphs lit up in unison all around the city. The cultivators who’d obtained them were forcibly turned into streaks of light, sucked up by the endless path.
“That’s the prized possession of the Nephrite court: the Path of Ingress!” A cultivator from Nephrite court immediately recognized the path.
This wasn’t just any path, either; it was the original. The small splinter Lu Yun carried could hardly compare.
No one knew how long or wide the path was. Even after the thirty million cultivators had come to rest upon it, there was still plenty of room to spare. As soon as Lu Yun and Qing Han landed, they split up.
“The first round of the Sovereign Ranking… begins!” the voice of a great will boomed through the land. “Those who successfully tread the path in three days will move on to the second round. The rest will be eliminated!”
As soon as this was said, the entire path shook with a deafening rumble. Something had changed in the golden boulevard. Everyone felt their bodies sink downward and many were forced to the ground under a great weight.
“What happened?!” a cultivator screamed fearfully. “I’m a peak spirit realm cultivator. Why do I only have an initial golden core cultivation now?!”
Although he’d managed to remain standing, he was unable to take a step forward. His body wasn’t the only thing that had grown heavy; his true spirit within was laden with lead as well.
Images of all thirty million cultivators on the path were projected down by the Sovereign Ranking, granting immortals and cultivators both inside and outside Destiny City an excellent view of the proceedings. Despite how numerous the competitors were, the observers miraculously found themselves able to follow the action of each individual.
“Their cultivation is limited to the core realm? Then we should’ve gone in there, too.” A group of core realm cultivators pounded their chests in regret.
“You want to get in there? Then make a mark on the Sovereign Stele. Where’s your Life Glyph, huh?” snickered a true immortal nearby, causing the first group to redden.
Yes, the stone stele had a name now: The Sovereign Stele. Anyone who could leave their mark upon it was at least in the spirit realm. In other words, core realm cultivators weren’t eligible to participate in the Sovereign Meet this year.
The more capable cultivators had already begun to sprint, as the Path of Ingress had repressed both their cultivation and any techniques that could help them move along. Therefore, the only things they could count on were their bodies and their leaden spirits.
Three days was too short! No end to the path was in sight.
“Is this a competition… or a test?” Lu Yun shook his head slightly and strode along the path with steadfast steps.
“You’re Qing Yu’s Sidekick, aren’t ya?” A sinister voice sounded at his ear.
A rough gust of wind blew by, accompanied by a broad, overhead swing. A thick, metal staff descended upon him at full speed.
“Die!” The surprise attack had come from a silverback gorilla with a vicious smirk. It’d put everything it had into the blow.
“Hmm?” Lu Yun turned his head and saw his assailant. Leaning slightly to the side, he casually avoided the iron rod. “Oho! I see who it is.” An amused smile crept over his face.
“You’ve got fast reflexes, kid!” the gorilla sneered. “That Qing Yu lorded his cultivation over me in the city, but now that we’re the same level… you’re dead for sure!”
Despite its nascent spirit realm cultivation, it possessed immense physical strength. Even a transformed spirit cultivator would be no problem for its staff. Against an opponent of the same level, it was practically invincible. This golden opportunity wouldn’t pass it by!
Missing the first swing was no discouragement at all; it promptly came back around for a repeat smash. Ordinary cultivators had a hard time just moving on the path, but the silverback gorilla could easily wave around an eighty ton staff. Such was proof of its physical prowess.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
So the timeline goes Primordial Era > Primeval Era > Ancient Times > Modern Times. Human dao > Immortal dao > Divine dao > Immortal dao (again)