Library of Heaven is Path
1286 Ruoxin, Here I Come!
Amidst a furious gale, an aerial saint beast soared swiftly through the sky, leaving behind white streak in its trail.
In the room on the back of the aerial saint beast, Zhang Xuan looked at the young man sitting before him and nodded in satisfaction.
Due to the results of the secondary selection being voided, it was decided that all of the candidates would head to the Sanctum of Sages together to undergo the final selection.
While the other candidates would shoot Zhang Xuan looks of hostility from time to time, they didn't conduct any acts of aggression toward him during the trip.
Along the way, Zhang Xuan imparted the Three Swords of Lingxu and his comprehension of swordsmanship to Zhang Jiuxiao.
And as expected of a genius from the Zhang Clan, Zhang Jiuxiao's ability to absorb new knowledge was not too bad. In just half a month, he managed to raise his comprehension of swordsmanship up to the level of Half-Quintessence. While it was still a long way off from comparing to up to Zhang Xuan, his mastery of swordsmanship could be said to be unmatched against the other sword practitioners amongst the candidates.
Not only so, he also managed to advance his cultivation to Primordial Spirit realm pinnacle. With his current strength and superior comprehension of swordsmanship, he would be a match for even Brother Sun and Ma Minghai.
From someone who was barely able to clear the selections of the Sanctum of Sages, Zhang Jiuxiao had grown to become one of the strongest candidates in the running.
Upon reaching a certain bottleneck, one's fighting prowess would begin to stagnate, improving at a rate much slower than before. To make an analogy, this was just like how it was relatively easier to improve one's timing in a 100 meters sprint from 13.0 seconds to 12.0 seconds. However, to improve it from, let's say, 10.3 seconds to 10.2 seconds, was no easy feat at all. This was because one was already nearing his physical limits and talent, so it would take a lot of effort and time in order to make any visible improvement, if possible at all.
This was the situation which Zhang Jiuxiao was facing. Even though he possessed considerable talent and a unique cultivation technique, he was already nearing his bottleneck. Under such circumstances, it would usually take significant time and effort for him to just raise his fighting prowess by a visible level. And yet, within half a month, he actually managed to achieve such a huge breakthrough. If this were to be known to others, it would definitely shock many speechless.
This could almost be said to be a mean which only 9-star master teachers were capable of!
"Finally, I have reached the Unbounded Voyager 2-dan!"
While offering guidance to Zhang Jiuxiao, Zhang Xuan hadn't been slacking off on his training either. In half a month, he fused the movement techniques he had learned together with the Unbounded Voyager and perfected the Unbounded Voyager 2-dan to the level of Heaven's Path. Naturally, he didn't waste any time learning it too.
It was a pity that he was currently on the back of an aerial saint beast and it wasn't convenient for him to try out the technique, so he wasn't sure how the effects were.
On top of that, he had also fully reinforced his Primordial Spirit realm pinnacle cultivation as well. The Primordial Spirit in his body was pulsating with power, ready to make the breakthrough to Half-Leaving Aperture realm at any moment.
However, Zhang Xuan's greatest breakthrough still lay in his swordsmanship.
After comprehending Sword Quintessence and learning the Three Swords of Lingxu, his understanding of swordsmanship had advanced by leaps and bounds. Putting aside the Lingxu Sword, even if he only had the Glacier Rain Sword in hand, he would still be able to bring forth strength far beyond imagination.
In the past, he would only be barely a match for a Grand Dominion realm primary stage even if he were to utilize all of his means. But now, as long as he had a sword in hand, he would be able to crush any Grand Dominion realm primary stage cultivator with ease.
The most important thing I have to do right now is to gather more sword art manual and perfect the Three Swords of Lingxu. If I could perfect them into Heaven's Path battle techniques too, I would be able to bring my fighting prowess to greater heights once more! Zhang Xuan thought as he got to his feet.
There was no doubt that the Three Swords of Lingxu wielded tremendous might, but it was unfortunately plagued with far too many flaws. For a perfectionist like Zhang Xuan, it was simply much too bitter of a pill to swallow.
Fortunately, considering that the Sanctum of Sages was the highest master teacher training institution on the continent, there should be plenty of sword art manuals there for him to perfect the Three Swords of Lingxu.
While Zhang Xuan and Zhang Jiuxiao were cultivating diligently, Ma Minghai, Brother Sun, and the other candidates weren't idling around either. In fact, perhaps due to the setbacks they had suffered during the secondary selection, they were more tenacious than ever in their training.
While they failed to make a significant breakthrough in their fighting prowess, the experience did temper their state of mind, making them far more resilient than before.
An uncarved jade will never become a treasure. As top geniuses from their own region, they have been accustomed to being at the top. The experience of being outdone by another will be beneficial to their future growth… Taking this scene into sight, Zhao Xingmo nodded in approval.
The candidates who had cleared his preliminary selections were all the greatest of geniuses, so it was inevitable that there would be some complacency in them. The indignance at their defeat against Zhang Xuan would drive out the complacency within them, pushing them to work harder than ever in hopes that they would be able to return the humiliation in the future.
While Zhao Xingmo was looking at the candidates contemplatively, a master teacher suddenly stepped forward and asked, "Zhao shi, what will the format of the final selection in the Sanctum Sages be? Would it another battle?"
The one who had asked the question was Brother Sun.
Upon hearing those words, the other candidates also halted their cultivation and turned their heads over in curiosity.
They were about to reach the Sanctum of Sages very soon, so they were rather curious about how the final selection would be like. After all, it was the final hurdle standing between them and the Sanctum of Sages.
"The final selection will be far more difficult than the preliminary selection and secondary selection. It won't be just a battle…" At this point, Zhao Xingmo hesitated for a moment, seemingly trying to find a term for it, before replying, "To be more exact, it would be like an overall evaluation!"
The crowd was intrigued.
"The Sanctum of Sages is the highest master teacher training institution on the Master Teacher Continent, and those who wish to enter it must display qualities far surpassing an ordinary man, be it in terms of strength, wisdom, adaptability, magnanimity, courage, and such. The final selection serves to conduct an overall evaluation of all of these qualities to determine whether a candidate is qualified to become a student of the Sanctum of Sages. Naturally, its difficulty will also be far greater than the previous two rounds of selections!"
At this point, Zhao Xingmo paused for another moment before continuing on, "Based on past experiences, there is a great chance that the final selection would be... challenging the Mountain Gate!"
"Challenging the Mountain Gate?"
"That's right. The Mountain Gate is an examination ground which the Master Teacher Pavilion has spent a great deal of effort to set up. It serves to assess a cultivator's state of mind and strength by putting him through a series of tests, each with a pre-allocated amount of time. The shorter the duration one takes each test, the higher one's score will be... And those who are unable to clear the tests within the preallocated period of time would be eliminated!" Zhao Xingmo explained grimly.
This was the standard selection trial used to assess candidates seeking to join the Sanctum of Sages, so revealing it in advance wasn't an infringement of the rules.
Zhao Xingmo gestured to the two young men who had assisted him in conducting the preliminary selections and said, "The two of them have also challenged the Mountain Gate in the past, but they failed to clear it. Nevertheless, as they had achieved decent results in it, they were offered the opportunity to become listening in students in the Sanctum of Sages."
"Doesn't that mean that they are geniuses who have cleared the preliminary and secondary selections as well?"
The crowd was astonished.
Only those who had cleared the preliminary and secondary selections would be qualified to take the final selection... Even though all of them were allowed to take the final selection this time around, it was due to the Sanctum of Sages granting them a special exception. Otherwise, thirteen of them wouldn't be standing here at this very moment.
"You're right. They did manage to clear the preliminary and secondary selections, but they failed to clear the Mountain Gate, so they were eliminated in the final selection." Zhao Xingmo nodded.
"Zhao shi, based on your previous experience as a guide, how many of us do you think will be able to clear the Mountain Gate?" Ma Minghai couldn't help but ask.
"Your talents and strength are decent, but in the final selection, you will be pitted against top-notch geniuses from the most powerful clans and organizations all over the Master Teacher Continent. Based on my previous experience, if you are lucky, ten of you might be able to clear the Mountain Gate. Otherwise, there would only be one or two of you, or perhaps, even none at all!" Zhao Xingmo replied.
The challenge of the Mountain Gate wasn't just a selection exercise amongst the thirty of them. There would also be other candidates from the Empire Alliance, Sage Clans, and major powers all over the continent. The geniuses from those powers had access to superior cultivation resources, especially top-notch cultivation techniques and battle techniques, and some even possessed unique bloodlines...
While individual prowess was important in clearing the final selection, luck also played a crucial role as well. As talented as the thirty or so of them were, the vast difference in their background would make it rather hard for them to match up to the other candidates from the Empire Alliance, Sage Clans, and other major powers. If they were lucky, they might still be able to vie ten slots or so over. Otherwise, they might find themselves without even a single slot at the end of the final selection.
Such a situation did happen in history before.
"Jiuxiao, you are from the Zhang Clan too, so you should know quite a bit about the final selection too, right?" Seeing the looks of disbelief from the candidates around him, Zhao Xingmo turned to Zhang Jiuxiao and asked.
"Yes. From what I heard, the competition there is extremely rife. Even for the Zhang Clan, there are years where over half of the candidates they have sent would fail the final selection…" Zhang Jiuxiao nodded.
Even though he was from a side family in the Zhang Clan, he was still rather informed about the situation concerning the Sanctum of Sages, as well as the difficulty of the final selection.
The Zhang Clan had no lack of offspring, and there were plenty who were stronger and more talented than him. Yet, every year, many of them would challenge the Mountain Gate and fail tragically. From this, it could be seen how difficult the trial was.
"There's a genius from the same side family as me named Zhang Yunqi. He was twenty-eight last year, and he has already cleared his first lightning tribulation, successfully making the breakthrough to Leaving Aperture realm primary stage. In our group, he can already be considered to be a nigh invincible existence, and yet, he still failed the final selection…" Zhang Jiuxiao explained.
"Even a Leaving Aperture realm primary stage cultivator had failed the final selection?"
The crowd was stunned.
Currently, even the strongest of them all was only at Quasi Leaving Aperture ream. If even a True Leaving Aperture realm expert had failed the final selection, didn't that practically mean that none of them stood a chance at all?
"Indeed. However, the final selection isn't based solely on one's cultivation realm. Zhang Yunqi's younger brother was only at Primordial Spirit realm advanced stage, but he managed to clear the final selection in the end... To be honest, I can't really tell what the criteria to clear the Mountain Gate is!" Zhang Jiuxiao said with a bitter smile.
Plenty of geniuses from the Zhang Clan would challenge the Mountain Gate each year, but there was no specific pattern to be observed by those who managed to clear it. Sometimes, a clan member with high cultivation realm could challenge the Mountain Gate for multiple years, only to fail each time. Sometimes, a clan member whom others didn't bear much hope for would clear the Mountain Gate with flying colors at the first attempt.
"There are many variations to the tests of the Mountain Gate. Even those who were participating in the same final selection could find themselves facing different trials. As such, there's no way to train or prepare for it in advance. One can only enter with a flexible mind and adapt to the circumstances." Zhao Xingmo explained.
The crowd fell silent.
They had asked about the format of the final selection in hopes that they would be able to make preparations for it so as to boost their chances of clearing it. However, after hearing the details, they realized that things were far more complicated than they had thought it out to be.
However, that was to be expected. If it was that easy to enter the highest master teacher training institution, wouldn't it be flooding with students by now?
"My advice is for you all not to get too worried about the matter. After entering the Mountain Gate, just complete the tests to the best of your abilities. Even if you can't clear the final selection, you will still have plenty of opportunities as long as you can make it as a listening in student. As a listening in student, you will have the opportunity to take the final examination again in subsequent years!" Noticing the apprehension and nervousness on the faces all around, Zhao Xingmo advised with a smile.
While the Sanctum of Sages was very strict in the selection of its students, it did offer other avenues for candidates who were reluctant to give up. As long as one's results in the final selection weren't too bad, one could always opt to become a listening in student and challenge the Mountain Gate in subsequent years.
But of course, as one who was challenging the Mountain Gate for the second time, they would be judged far stricter than other candidates. Nevertheless, in order to raise the spirits of the crowd, Zhao Xingmo chose to bottle that up in his heart. Otherwise, their nervousness could very well affect their performance in the final selection.
"I see. That's a relief to hear…" Hearing that there would still be a chance for them even if they were to fail the final selection, the crowd heaved a sigh of relief.
"Alright, we should be arriving at the Sanctum of Sages very soon, so make some preparations. If nothing goes wrong, the final selection should be held within the next three days!"
After chatting for a while more, Zhao Xingmo suddenly pointed to the area ahead and announced.
Everyone hurriedly looked forward, and soon, a massive city came into sight. Located in the middle of a mountain range, it seemed to be shrouded by a massive Spirit Gathering Formation, drawing the spiritual energy in a radius of several hundred thousand li into the area. Even before landing in the area, the rich spiritual energy in the air had already left them feeling deeply refreshed.
"That's the Sanctum of Sages?" Abruptly getting to his feet, Zhang Xuan clenched his fists tightly in agitation.
"Ruoxin, here I come!"