Chapter 243 - Radiant Moon, Ninefold Disasters
"In other words, while it's really hard to make it through the three levels of the tower to become a prime disciple, the treasures in the first two levels alone are much more enticing, right?" Tianming asked, going deep into the details.
"That's right. After all, the elders decided that each generation shall have no more than four prime disciples. There’s already four now, so if you can climb up Prime Tower, you’ll only instigate another fight," Ye Shaoqing said.
"We'll talk about it when you stand a chance."
"Master, will we go straight to Prime Tower in five days? I recall that three years back, there was a fight at the First Grand-Orient Battlefield before that." Qingyu said.
"That's right. Only seventeen will be allowed to enter Prime Tower. According to the rules of the previous years, sixty-six direct disciples will be sent to the First Grand-Orient Battlefield for two rounds of elimination fights. The first round will select thirty-three, one of whom will automatically gain qualification based on their performance. The remaining thirty-two will fight for the sixteen remaining slots. Seventeen in total will be allowed in the tower for another round of fighting. That’s the complete Prime Struggle."
It all clicked together in Tianming's head. The rules didn't sound too complicated.
"Based on our current capabilities, it'll be hard to gain that honor, huh?" Tianming said, fully aware of the extent of his skills. In this struggle, he would be fighting everyone beneath the rank of prime disciple, most of whom were kin of the elders, and had started cultivating at the age of three. They were sure to be near the peak of Unity in power, far stronger than the likes of Li Xuanchen and Gu Yu.
"Of course. I'm only sending you there as a bet. As long as you don't lose too badly at the First Grand-Orient Battlefield, that's fine. After all, only two will be able to gain those treasures, or maybe even only one," Ye Shaoqing said.
It seemed that he had taken it for granted that there would be no new prime disciples this generation. After all, he was quite familiar with every one of the sixty-six candidates.
"Alright. We'll do our best to not embarrass Azure Dragon Sword Mountain in the battles," Tianming said.
"Tianming you're only sixteen. You'll have another chance three years from now. Given your talent, you’ll stand a far better chance of becoming a prime disciple in the next selection. I'll make sure you're well prepared by then. This time around, just participate to experience it for yourself. It would already be lucky if you reach the Prime Tower stage."
It wasn't that Ye Shaoqing underestimated his disciple, Tianming merely had trained for too short a time. Five days later, the Prime Struggle would take place. Given Tianming's track record of having only beaten a sixth-level Unity beastmaster, he was considered below average among the sixty-six, while Qingyu was ranked even lower.
"Three years?" Tianming was stunned. Given the rate he was aging, he would look fifty in three years' time. Appearance-wise, he would look more like Ye Shaoqing's master. There would be no chance for him to win the Prime Struggle then.
"You've been improving way too fast lately, but you're still at Unity. For each level you break through, it'll get even harder. It isn't likely you'll be able to maintain this rate of improvement. Given your talent, I believe you'll be able to catch up to the four prime disciples, or perhaps even supersede Yuwen Shendu. You only need three years!"
Ye Shaoqing was quite confident in Tianming, though he didn't know that Tianming didn't have three years' time.
"Thanks, Master. I will do my best," Tianming said. He wouldn't admit defeat. Now that he had a chance, he would give it his best. "Master, do the selection battles at First Grand-Orient Battlefield and the Prime Tower challenge take place one after another?"
"No. The first round of the selection battles to choose the first thirty-three takes place five days from now. After that, there's half a month's time for rest and recovery before the second round. These battles are only warmups for the Prime Struggle. There's enough time to prepare for it. A month after the selection battles, the Prime Tower challenge will take place, but this time, it’ll be held in one go, lasting several days in total," he explained.
"I see." Tianming made some estimations. In other words, the true Prime Tower challenge would start a month and a half from now. That was when he would get a chance to get those treasures, and perhaps even ascend to the third floor of the tower. Given his rate of cultivation, he felt he at least had a chance. He would see the Prime Struggle through to the end, though he didn't tell his master of his intentions.
On the path of cultivation, vain ambitions and elaborate plans weren’t conducive to success. What one should focus on was taking it one step at a time, and the first step he would be taking was the first round of selection battles to take place in five days.
"If it works out, I'll be a prime disciple the next time I meet Elysian Long." Tianming wondered what her face would look like when the nobody she hadn’t taken seriously back then suddenly came back to her as a prime disciple with equal standing to her.
For an outsider like him, the rank of prime disciple was far too important. If the title of junior sect master of the Grand-Orient Sect was mocked by even the outer disciples, the prime disciple rank was its complete opposite—every disciple aspired to become one. Even Exalted Masters and Mountain Chiefs had to treat them respectfully.
This test would be a risky endeavor indeed. Tianming's eyes burned with ambition. Back then, he hadn’t managed to break through in time, so he’d fared a little worse in his fight against Li Xuanchen. Fortunately, the battle had allowed him to catch up considerably. From now on, he would advance at full speed with every ounce of talent he had.
"From now on, you can't sleep for fifty days straight. You can't even take naps."
"Huh?" Meow Meow was stunned, then it threw a tantrum and rolled around on the ground. It was almost as if it had been neutered. The little chick watched and relished in the schadenfreude.
"Meow Meow, since you look so pitiful, I'll give you the Saintbeast War-Soul this low-level mount of ours just received," Ying Huo said.
"I don't want it! I just wanna sleep! I wanna sleep, damn it!"
To be frank, Tianming couldn't wait to see what his new Saintbeast War-Soul was.
Qingyu and he got new residences on Azure Dragon Sword Mountain. Every need a direct disciple had was catered to there. The siblings were assigned quarters next to each other. Tianming had a hole opened in the wall that separated their quarters, so Feiling could freely move about.
Most of the time, however, Tianming would be at the Li Mausoleum. As for Qingyu, she wouldn't have to go home every day, since she would mostly be training under Ye Shaoqing's guidance. Jingyu wouldn't be bored either, since she could visit her grandchildren at Azure Dragon Sword Mountain or Li Wudi at Fatepath Peak. Since Qingyu's marriage matters were settled, she could finally relax. Nowadays, she sang and danced at Fatepath Peak, scaring the fish in the rivers, beasts in the forests, and birds in the skies.
"Ying Huo, have you really decided to hand the Saintbeast War-Soul to Meow Meow?" Tianming asked.
"Of course! I keep my word. Since my little brother is a little weak and only relies on brute force, I want to make sure it stays alive. Don't worry about me," it said.
"What little brother? Meow Meow's my little brother," Tianming said.
"In your dreams. You're my little brother, too. Can't you tell? All you can use is battle arts, while Meow Meow only uses spiritsource abilities. I, however, can use both, so I'm the boss." His logic was surprisingly impeccable.
Even though Meow Meow had the Regal Chaosfiend War-Soul, the three of them were actually one unit. If Meow Meow, being the main tank, got stronger, the amount of punishment the three of them could take would increase. For instance, in the fight against Li Xuanchen, Meow Meow took the full brunt of the Sixteen-winged Gold Kunpeng’s attacks, which was the key to Tianming's victory.
Since Ying Huo was so generous and didn't care about items like war-souls, choosing to focus instead on training beastial arts, Tianming didn't hesitate to give the Siantbeast War-Soul to Meow Meow to refine. On the wooden box was the name of the Saintbeast War-Soul: 'Ninefold Disasters'. He wondered if Meow Meow could break another one of his bloodline shackles and get a new ability.
"What's Qingyu's Saintbeast War-Soul called?" Tianming asked, seeing Feiling come his way. It appeared that Qingyu had begun to help her kunpeng refine the Saintbeast War-Soul.
"It's called Radiant Moon. It fits her to a tee. Perhaps your master prepared it for her specifically," Feiling said.
"It's that good?" Tianming felt a little overwhelmed by Ye Shaoqing's generosity.
"I think so too."
"Perhaps it's because he once had some ties with Li Wudi. The people of the Ye clan, Ye Ziyi aside, are rather decent."
Meow Meow had begun refining the Saintbeast War-Soul. Since Qingyu would be staying back to train, Tianming wanted to try bringing Feiling into the Li Mausoleum. He later found that when Feiling was attached to him, the Bloodbane Barrier couldn't tell. They were easily able to enter the mausoleum.
"It feels really wondrous here, as if your ancestors are alive," she said with a bit of fear. Her unique eyes allowed her to see what most people missed.
"That's right. While all people must die, the strongest of wills won't be extinguished."
They eventually made their way to Li Shenxiao's tombstone.
"Tianming, my son, you're going a little too far. Come here to train if you must, but why bring your little wifey here?" Li Wudi said drunkenly.
"How did you know?" Tianming asked, shocked. Nobody had been able to detect Feiling in her spirit form before. As Tianming approached him, Li Wudi fell to the ground snoring once more.
"Your godfather is more than meets the eye," Feiling said.
"I can feel that his body is enduring a really terrifying force."
"Is that so? I wonder why I can't tell at all." No matter how Tianming scrutinized him, Li Wudi looked no different from a lazy pig. But it didn’t matter.
Tianming needed to charge ahead and prepare for his battle in five days.