Library of Heaven is Path
1299 End of the Examination
Over the past several ten thousand years, he had assessed eight candidates possessing the Eye of Insight, and every single one of them expressed deep reverence toward him, not daring to show the slightest disrespect.
Their wonderment and awe only served to deepen when they saw the manual of the Divine Eyes of the Ninth Netherworld. Every single one of them swore to cultivate strictly to the manual, and some even feared that their lack of talent would taint such a brilliant optic art.
Yet, this fellow actually managed to stump him after a swift look at the manual, and as if that wasn't enough... he actually went to sleep right before him!
You are obviously biting tightly onto the fact that I won't be able to answer your questions!
Deeply stifled, Sage Kui shook his head before sitting helplessly onto the ground. Staring at the optic art manual before him, he eventually began to reanalyze it once more.
Even though he felt a little unhappy about the young man's casual attitude before him, he knew that the young man's words rang true. Just the fact that the young man could pose those questions to him meant that the young man's comprehension of the Divine Eyes of the Ninth Netherworld had already reached a level on par with his.
If a cultivator were to find flaws in the technique he practiced, it went without saying that he would have to find ways to resolve them.
Otherwise, if he were to harbor doubts about the capability of the battle technique he practiced, how could he possibly charge valiantly toward the top?
Some time later, Zhang Xuan stretched his back lazily and opened his eyes.
Ever since he arrived at Qianchong Empire, he had been constantly preoccupied with various matters. Even on the way to the Sanctum of Sages, he was completely absorbed into studying, raising his cultivation, and guiding Zhang Jiuxiao along. As a result, a great deal of mental fatigue had been building up in him for some time now.
Perhaps in view of the fact that they were currently in the Mountain Gate examination, and Sage Kui was looking after him, Zhang Xuan instinctively realized that there wouldn't be any problem regarding his safety here. As such, he was able to release whatever wariness he had toward his surroundings and slept rather sweetly.
"It has been almost three days?" Standing up and stretching his back lazily, Zhang Xuan did a rough calculation of the time he had been out, and he couldn't help but leap in shock.
He thought that he would only sleep for a day at most, but who could have thought that he would end up being knocked out for three days straight. Just the thought of it left him deeply embarrassed.
Perhaps it was the great stress he had been under recently, he hadn't been able to get a good rest. As such, when his tension finally loosened, his mind took this opportunity to rest as much as it could without any concern about time.
"Has Sage Kui resolved the problems which I have posed to him yet?" Zhang Xuan suddenly recalled what happened prior to his sleep, and he turned his gaze toward Sage Kui.
To his shock, he found that the old man's body had already turned significantly less corporeal, as if he would dissipate at any moment. On top of that, his eyes were crimson, and there was an indescribably aged look on his face. It was as if he had depleted all of his vitality, spirit, and energy in the past three days.
"What's wrong with you?" Zhang Xuan was horrified by the sight before him.
Before he went to his sleep, Sage Kui was still doing perfectly fine. Why would he suddenly change so much after a short span of three days?
"You are finally awake…" Turning his gaze to Zhang Xuan, Sage Kui's face unwittingly reddened in embarrassment. With a distressed and helpless look in his eyes, he said, "I have pondered over the questions you have asked for three days... and I really can't find an answer to them!"
He thought that he should at least resolve one of the questions posed within the next three days so as to preserve his honor, but... it seemed like he had overestimated himself.
The deeper he pondered over those questions, the less confidence he found that he had in the optic art. At this point, he was already severely doubting if the way he had chosen was wrong right from the very start.
Zhang Xuan was still wondering what kind of earth-shattering incident had occurred while he was in his sleep when he heard those words. Heaving a sigh of relief, he consoled, "It's fine that you can't find an answer to them, there's no need to take it to heart! It'll do as long as you keep a lookout for these problems when you practice the technique in the future…"
"..." Sage Kui felt even more stifled inside.
Why did it feel like he was the student here?
"The duration of the examination is three days, so is it about time for me to leave now?" Zhang Xuan swiftly glanced at his surroundings and noted that he was still in the folded space.
Then, a thought suddenly struck him, and he looked at Sage Kui in alarm, "What about my points?"
While the other candidates were busy trying to get as many points as they could, he actually slept through all three days! Was he going to fail the examination because of that?
"... Wait a moment, I'll get you some points now." Sage Kui replied awkwardly.
He had been too busy pondering over the young man's question that he forgot about this matter...
It would really be the greatest joke of the world If the future sanctum head couldn't even qualify as a student in the Sanctum of Sages!
For the past eight sanctum head candidates, while the candidates were busy studying and comprehending the Divine Eyes of the Ninth Netherworld, he would gradually add their points so as to ensure that no one would be able to notice that something was amiss with their results. However, the overwhelming trauma he had suffered this time around had caused him to completely forget about this matter.
He quickly tapped his finger, and a moment later, he said, "Alright. You should have enough points to enter the Elite Division now!"
"Thank you." Hearing those words, Zhang Xuan heaved a sigh of relief.
At this point, he had also roughly realized what was going on here. While the previous sanctum head candidates wouldn't sleep through the three days like he did, they would still be preoccupied with studying the Divine Eyes of the Ninth Netherworld, so they wouldn't have any time to head out to earn points either.
Most likely, they were only able to become official students of the Sanctum of Sages due to Sage Kui tampering with their points.
Considering how the latter was the creator of the Mountain Gate examination, it wouldn't pose any difficulty for him to add points to a candidate!
"Good luck and work hard. Try to break the seals on the Sanctum Head Token as soon as possible so that you can become the next official head of the Sanctum of Sages. I'll be entrusting the responsibility of passing down Kong shi's ideology and my teacher's heritage to the later generations into your hands then!" Despite Sage Kui's solemn voice, the expectant gleam in his eyes showed that he thought highly of the young man before him.
There was something really different about the young man as compared to the other sanctum head candidates he had assessed. Perhaps, he might just be able to walk out a path different from the rest of them.
As difficult as the task was, he had a feeling that the young man might just be able to resolve the flaws in the Divine Eyes of the Ninth Netherworld and perfect his teacher's heritage.
"Rest assured." Zhang Xuan replied.
The position of the sanctum head meant a lot to him as an individual as well. It would prove to become an important chip for vying for Luo Ruoxin's hand in marriage, and it would also grant him the resources he would need to push for a breakthrough to 9-star master teacher before reaching his thirties.
No matter what, he was determined to obtain it.
"Un." Sage Kui nodded in satisfaction before waving his hand.
In the next moment, Zhang Xuan abruptly felt a jolt in his body, and the surroundings before him warped into nothing more than a myriad of colors.
With another jolt, he suddenly found a large gate towering before him. He instinctively took a step forward, and before he knew it, he was already standing in the midst of the square before.
"I have returned?" Blinking his eyes in confusion, Zhang Xuan scanned his surroundings.
At this point, the students who had fought to enter the examination grounds three days ago seemed to have mostly returned. There were vastly different expressions on their faces; some were lit up in delight, some were dim with dejection.
The results were only reflected on the Jade Tablet of Trials, so they were still unaware of whether they were qualified as candidates in the Sanctum of Sages or not. Nevertheless, they were able to make a gauge based on their performance, so most of them already had a rough idea of their own results.
Zhang Xuan swiftly searched the surroundings for the group he had entered the Mountain Gate with. Coincidentally, in this moment, the gate behind him suddenly lit up once more, and a figure walked out—Zhang Jiuxiao.
"How did you fare for the examination?"
"I'm not too sure either, but I think I shouldn't have a problem with clearing the examination!" Zhang Jiuxiao said with a hint of excitement in his eyes.
"Oh? What's your test?"
To be able to remain confident despite the strong competition, just what could Zhang Jiuxiao's test be?
"Swordsmanship! I have already achieved the level of Half-Quintessence, and I have also grasped the basics of the Three Swords of Lingxu too. While it's still a little lacking at the moment, I think that there shouldn't be too many candidates who would be able to match my level of proficiency." Zhang Jiuxiao replied confidently.
On their journey from Qianchong Empire to the Sanctum of Sages, Zhang Xuan had imparted him the essence of swordsmanship, inducing a massive leap in his comprehension of the sword, and he successfully made a breakthrough to Half-Quintessence.
Together with his grasp over the Three Swords of Lingxu, even Ma Minghai, who was famed for superior mastery in swordsmanship, wouldn't be a match for him. Given so, it was indeed not too difficult for him to stand out from the other candidates in the field of swordsmanship.
"That's good." Zhang Xuan nodded in approval.
He had spent quite a lot of effort guiding Zhang Jiuxiao along in hopes that he would be able to clear the examination, and he had seen how hard Zhang Jiuxiao had worked during this period of time as well. It was truly heartening to see that his efforts had paid off.
"My results should be enough for me to become a student at the Sanctum of Sages, but it doesn't seem too likely that I'll be able to get into the Elite Division." Zhang Jiuxiao continued.
This was the second time Zhang Xuan was hearing this term. He couldn't help but direct a perplexed gaze toward Zhang Jiuxiao.
"The Elite Division is the class which only the most talented students of each intake would be able to enter, and all in all, there are only fifty slots for it!" Zhang Jiuxiao explained as a gleam of anticipation flickered across his eyes.
"Only fifty?" Zhang Xuan was astonished.
With an intake of fifty, it would mean that only the top 10% of the candidates who had cleared the entrance examination would be able to enter the Elite Division.
Considering how strict the selection was, it could be seen how outstanding those who were able to get into the Elite Division were.
'Indeed. Most of those who were able to get into the Elite Division eventually went on to take up leadership roles in their own affiliated organizations. If I could get into the Elite Division too, there's a good chance that my standing in the Zhang Clan would rise beyond Zhang Qian!" Zhang Jiuxiao said in agitation.
"Isn't the offspring of Sage Clans ranked by the purity of their bloodlines?" Zhang Xuan asked in wonder.
"To a large degree, yes. However, it isn't the only criterion that is assessed. There are some geniuses from the side family who, despite the lacking purity in their bloodlines, achieved spectacular accomplishments as well, and they were highly-regarded in the Zhang Clan too!" Zhang Jiuxiao explained.
"There's nothing more to say about the standing of the Sanctum of Sages in the Master Teacher Continent. Putting aside how much the students in the Elite Division would accomplish in the future, just the connections that they could build there were already sufficient to reinforce their standing in the world!"
"That's true." Zhang Xuan nodded.
Those who were able to enter the Elite Division were mostly highly-regarded geniuses from top-notch powers. Even if they failed to become the heads of their affiliated organization in the future, even at the very worst, they would still at least be able to qualify as elders!
And being in the same class as those figures would allow one to forge connections with them, thus establishing a powerful network of contacts.
In contrast, the Ordinary Division was comparatively weaker.
"Right, Zhang shi, how many points do you think that you have received? Were you able to calculate it? Do you think that you'll be able to get into the Elite Division?" Zhang Jiuxiao asked curiously.
He had spent a considerable amount of time with the young man so far, and if the young man were to use his full strength in the examination, there was really a good chance that he might be able to get into the Elite Division.
But again, it was hard to say for sure.
The most outstanding young geniuses of the Master Teacher Continent were all gathered on this square, and to emerge above them all was no easy feat at all.
"This…" A bitter smile surfaced on Zhang Xuan's lips as he shook his head. "To be honest, I'm not too sure either."
Even though Sage Kui said that he had given him sufficient points to enter the Elite Division, he still wasn't too sure how many points he had obtained.
"You aren't too sure?" Guessing that Zhang Xuan might be reluctant to reveal his results, Zhang Jiuxiao decided not to press the issue any further. With a chuckle, he said, "It's fine. Our scores are being tabulated at the moment, so we should know the results of the examination very soon!"
If nothing went wrong, they should be able to find out whether they had managed to make it into the Sanctum of Sages by today.
"Un." Zhang Xuan nodded.
The duo swiftly found Ma Minghai and the others and made their way over.
Judging from the composure on Ma Minghai and Brother Sun's face, it seemed like they should have performed not too bad. As for the others, their complexion looked a little awful, and their fidgety body posture reflected their anxiety and worry, so it was apparent that they didn't have too much confidence in their performance.
It was no wonder why they would feel this way. They might be the cream of the crop in their respective clans or empires, but against the many experts from the various occupations, Sage Clans, and Empire Alliance, their halo as geniuses inevitably dimmed in comparison.
"I wonder how many of them will be able to get into the Sanctum of Sages…" Zhang Xuan wondered as he glanced at the worried faces before him.
The competition to reach the top was never easy, let alone in somewhere like the Sanctum of Sages. To make a metaphor, it was like thousands of cavalry charging to get across a narrow plank of wood to get to the other side.
Inevitably, some might find themselves being crushed by the hordes behind or pushed down the cliff, thus being eliminated from the race.
Just taking himself as an example, if not for how outstanding he was, he would have never been able to rise up through the ranks from Tianxuan Kingdom, reaching where he was at the moment.
Before long, all of the candidates had finally stepped out from the gates, and the rankboard reflecting the scores of the top five hundred candidates on the Jade Token of Trials was refreshed for the very last time.
Many nervous guides stood before the grayish-emerald tablet with their eyes fixated on it.