Already, Yang Qi was getting a much better understanding of the situation in the Hanging Mountain, including some aspects which were not public knowledge.
As it turned out, the Hanging Mountain took orders, not just from a single immortal world, but from many. And the immortal worlds’ goal was to gain power from the will and faith of the people below them.
Unfortunately, there were powerful Great Sages and Demi-Immortals who didn’t wish to put their faith in others. They knew that cultivation was about independence and freedom. The focus was the self, and the proper attitude was: I am heaven, I am earth, I am the ultimate sovereign.
Putting faith in others could never lead to the ultimate heights of cultivation. That said, it was still necessary to follow the orders of the immortal worlds.
“Wait. You mean the Hanging Mountain takes orders from the immortal worlds, but doesn't exercise faith in them? How many immortal worlds are there in the universe?”
“We're not sure how many there are,” Father Leviathan said. “Perhaps as many as the grains of sand in the sea. Or maybe they exist without end. As for the Hanging Mountain, we are led by the Holy Mother and the August Patriarch. Beneath them are various elders, arhats, chiefs, majordomos and the like. It’s very much like a royal dynasty from the mortal world. For example, I'm like a feudal viceroy, with control over the Plateau of the Leviathan.”
“What about the lower-ranking disciples?” Yang Qi asked. “Is it like the Demi-Immortal Institute? Back there, the ranking went freshman, outer campus, inner campus, elite, conclave, and finally, at the top, the holy neophytes.”
“Well, that’s sort of complicated,” Snake Nine-Yangs replied. “There actually isn’t a set ranking system. It depends on which organization or faction you’re talking about. Normally speaking, the Hanging Mountain isn’t really united unless there’s a training competition organized by the immortal worlds, or perhaps some special activity that involves the mountain as a whole.
“In ancient times, the rules here were very strict, but things have loosened up in modern times. That’s amplified by the fact that there isn’t a single hegemon in charge of the entire mountain. The Holy Mother and the August Patriarch are always at odds, and that's not to mention the infighting between various factions and cliques.”
“What’s this training competition I've heard about?” Yang Qi asked. He had heard about the matter first from Emissary Red Lotus, and then from Yan Wubing. “Why are the immortal worlds recruiting from lower planes?”
“In this case," Father Leviathan said, "the competition is held by the immortal world which directly oversees us. Every so often, they have a training competition to look for new disciples, in the hope of finding promising individuals who will be loyal to them, and give them faith. Usually, the people who come out on the top of the competition are from the higher echelons in the Hanging Mountain.
“However, this competition is different from the others. Some of the winners will receive the title Child of Immortals, and will be directly imbued with power from the immortal world above. They’ll also be given a gift of godly-grade spirit stones, or perhaps immortal stones!”
“Godly-grade spirit stones!? Immortal stones!?” Yang Qi was completely taken aback. He had seen heavenly-grade spirit stones before, but never godly-grade. And that was not even to mention immortal stones.
Spirit stones were classified into low-, mid-, high-, supreme-, royal-, imperial-, sovereign-, sagely-, heavenly-, and godly-grades.
As for immortal stones, they also had their own classification system. But even the lowest-grade immortal stones were of much higher quality than godly-grade spirit stones. After all, immortal stones were normally used for cultivation purposes by immortals.
If Yang Qi could get godly-grade spirit stones and immortal stones, just how quickly could he advance? He was already virtually drooling over the possibilities.
“Senior Leviathan, how exactly does the competition work?” Yang Qi asked. “Martial arts duels? Free-for-all? And how many winners will there be?”
“Oh, no, it’s not like that,” Tiger Overlord replied. “It’s called a training competition, but the truth is it’s not an organized competition in the normal sense. The immortal world will create a passageway to a location where the competitors will slaughter fiend-devils. Of course, the higher-level fiend-devils are worth a lot more. The scores of each competitor will be magically inscribed onto a ranking chart which will be visible to everyone in the Hanging Mountain. At the end of the competition, whoever has the most points will be the ultimate winner.
“This time, the immortal world will open a passageway to a true hell, which is unusual. In the past, it was always a plane near to a hell, but not an actual hell. The top geniuses and talents from the Hanging Mountain will be participating, people like that Mammoth Force, so you’ll definitely need to be careful if you go. Of course, the unusual nature of the competition means that the prizes will be extraordinary. That’s one of the reasons the Holy Mother brought you here from the Rich-Lush Continent, for the express purpose of joining the competition. Hopefully, you can acquire that power from the immortal world, and live up to the Holy Mother’s expectations.”
‘So, that's how the whole thing works,’ Yang Qi thought.
As far as he was concerned, going to hell and killing a bunch of fiend-devils would be a simple task.
It was almost as if it was a competition designed specifically for him.
Snake Nine-Yangs shook his head. “Ai. Usually, it’s August Patriarch Mammoth Heaven’s people who have the advantage in the competitions. After all, they have the blood of the ancient megamammoths in them, and megamammoths are descended from godmammoths. Godmammoths are mythological entities even in the immortal worlds, as they were created specifically to crush hells. Fiend-devils are instinctively frightened of the aura of the Mammothfolk, and don't dare to attack them. If there is a fight, a megamammoth will always win against a fiend-devil of the same cultivation level.
“The Mammothfolk really are favored by heaven. They’re beyond demons, and almost like gods. That’s one reason why Mammoth Heaven is the August Patriarch. Even in the immortal world, megamammoths are considered the best of the best.
“There are plenty of other experts from Mammoth Heaven’s people who will be participating. In addition to Mammoth Force, outstanding individuals like Mammoth Mountain, Mammoth Spirit, Mammoth Cosmosking, and others. Even Mammoth Manyvoids will be there. All of them are stronger than Mammoth Force, and are currently in secluded meditation preparing for the competition.”
“The competition isn't far off, Yang Qi, so you need to get ready. It's going to be a gathering of top experts from all over the Hanging Mountain, and when the time comes, we won’t be able to help you. You’ll have only yourself to rely on. Going into seclusion here would be the best.”
“I understand,” Yang Qi said.
“Yang Qi,” Father Leviathan said, “in the depths of the Plateau of the Leviathan is a sea where you can practice cultivation. It contains the purest essence of the plane, and will be the perfect place to test out your strength.”
He waved his hand, and the spot Yang Qi was sitting on sank in.
In the blink of an eye, an unimaginably deep sea appeared, filled with endless waves. Within it swam fierce leviathans, sharks, and even fish-dragons.
As Yang Qi sank into the depths of the water, he ran into an aggressive leviathan.
The beast opened its mouth wide to swallow him, and yet he didn’t even look at it. Instead, he reached out with his hand, causing space to shrink rapidly, provoking an agonized shriek from the leviathan. Then, the sea around the leviathan transformed into crystal, which shrank down into a tiny sphere in the palm of Yang Qi’s hand.
This was still only the earliest manifestation of the Hand of the One God, but it was enough for this situation.
A moment later, the leviathan exploded, and all of its vital energy poured into Yang Qi.
The vital energy had a very strange effect on him, and almost immediately, he felt the particles inside him stirring as if with thirst.
‘Great!’ he thought.
About the same time, Father Leviathan’s voice rang down from above. “Not bad, Yang Qi. This is the Sea of Illusions, an incarnation of the essence of the Plateau of the Leviathan. And that leviathan you just crushed to death was equivalent to a Great Sage. I have to say, I'm quite surprised. Now I understand the true extent of your fighting power. Go ahead and fight to your heart's content. The essence power of the Plateau of the Leviathan is endless, and the more leviathans you kill there, the more of it you can get. It should be able to push you into the Never-Dying Transformation. Once you gain understanding of the ultimate meaning of that transformation, you’ll be closer than ever to the Great Sage level. In fact, you might be able to completely skip the Half Sage level.”
“Many thanks,” Yang Qi said. “After I become a Great Sage, I won’t forget the kindness you’ve shown me today.”
With that, he sank further into the depths of the Sea of Illusions.
The place seemed to be both real and an illusion, all at the same time. The leviathans and other sea beasts in it were manifestations of the essence of the Plateau of the Leviathan, and were fierce to the extreme. They contained aspects of the will of the expert whose fallen corpse had created this plane to begin with. Any who entered the Sea of Illusions and was killed, would have their essence absorbed to strengthen the continent. Conversely, taking the essence of the lands by killing the leviathans was an excellent way to grow power.
In some ways, the Plateau of the Leviathan was like the Rich-Lush Continent, in that it was a continent that hoped to become a planet.
Father Leviathan had long since acquired the approval of the plane, and eventually hoped to not only push it into planethood, but also, use the resulting energy surge to reach the Demi-Immortal level.
Although Father Leviathan wasn't quite as strong as Yan Wubing, he did have ultimate control of the Plateau of the Leviathan.
And now, he was using the power of the lands around him to help Yang Qi and his cultivation.
The Never-Dying Transformation was profoundly connected to the magical laws of life and death. Upon reaching it, one's fleshly body would undergo drastic changes, and even if it were chopped up into tiny pieces, could still be put back together.
In fact, even if such a person were killed, they could be resurrected.
Hua Tianxiong was a good example. If he hadn’t been in the Never-Dying Transformation, it would have been almost impossible for Ghost Emperor Yama to reform his soul.
Back when Yang Qi had reached the Astral-Star Transformation, he had gained the ability to sense the magnetic fields within heaven and earth. And now, he would use that power, and the power of the stars, to gain enlightenment about what it meant to be ‘never dying’.Previous Chapter Next Chapter