Chapter 0877: Participating in the mystic realm
“Brother Nian, sorry for the disturbance.” A man greeted Ning Cheng with cupped fists and spoke up immediately before Ning Cheng could speak.
Ning Cheng chuckled, “It turned out to be Brother Xiong. Brother Xiong, please come in.”
Ning Cheng knew this person. He was one of the rogue cultivators selected by the Seven Star Sacred Shrine together with him, named Xiong Cang. Moreover, his cultivation had also exceeded him, at the late-stage Eternal Realm. The strength this person displayed neared what he had revealed. That is, the celestial essence scale had reached the seventh marking, and even the spiritual consciousness scale had broken through six.
Xiong Cang’s appearance was quite similar to his name, with a burly figure and a broad face. One could even say that almost perfect squares made up this person’s body.
After Xiong Cang came in and sat down, Ning Cheng casually activated the restrictions and spoke up with a smile. “Since Brother Xiong came to me, there must be something important to discuss.”
“Brother Ning, have you ever thought about staying in Seven Star Sacred Shrine and entering the inner sect?” Xiong Cang listened to Ning Cheng’s question and asked without beating around the bush.
“Enter the Seven Star Sacred Shrine’s inner sect?” Ning Cheng asked suspiciously. He knew that the Seven Star Sacred Shrine would most likely use them as cannon fodders. How could it possibly let them enter the inner sect?
Xiong Cang spoke up in a low tone. “Brother Ning, you’re also a rogue cultivator. You should already know the many difficulties a rogue cultivator has to face to reach Dao Sculpting. Even if we obtained Dao Fruits, I’m afraid that the chance of reaching Dao Sculpting wouldn’t improve by much. Without any Dao Sermons to listen to, we have to rely on ourselves without access to spirit technique pavilions or even cultivation method halls. But even if we rogue cultivators have heaven-defying talents, we all lack a guiding direction. Therefore, if us rogue cultivators want to go further, we can only do so by joining a sect….”
Ning Cheng remained silent. He wouldn’t join Seven Star Sacred Shrine even if he had a connection to it; plus, he also disagreed with Xiong Cang’s words. Only when having low cultivation would a guiding direction be necessary. But once a rogue cultivator’s cultivation reached the Eternal Realm by themselves, it meant that this person obtained it entirely on their understanding of the laws of heaven and earth. Even if a powerful master decided to guide at that point, it would have a limited effect.
But Xiong Cang’s words about Dao Sermons piqued Ning Cheng’s interest. Dao Sermons were places for powerful Dao Confirming cultivators to conduct dao discussions. If one could listen in on it, it would significantly benefit one’s understanding of Dao Laws. Plus, every sect here had its own Dao Sermons. Cultivators considered them as one of the most famous Grand Essence Dao Sermons in the Grand Essence Realm. However, rogue cultivators would find it impossible to get in on such events and listen in on them.
Seeing Ning Cheng looking at him in silence, Xiong Cang thought Ning Cheng also agreed. Bolstered with such a positive sign, he continued, “The Seven Star Sacred Shrine has two Dao Fusion powerhouses. Plus, the sect’s spirit technique pavilion has numerous powerful spirit techniques.”
“Then, how does Brother Xiong plan on joining the Seven Star Sacred Shrine?” Ning Cheng asked.
Xiong Cang nodded, “That’s exactly why I came here to talk to Brother Ning about. Brother Ning should already be aware that I will enter the Grand Essence Mystic Realm Competition this time. Although the chance of falling inside is very high, there is also a high chance that we could reach the sky in one step. Suppose we can collect enough divine grasses from the mystic realm, get ranked in the top ten. In that case, we could have the opportunity to represent the Seven Star Sacred Shrine in the Grand Essence Great Meet….”
“Wait-wait….” Ning Cheng immediately interrupted Xiong Cang’s words. “Brother Xiong. You said only the Grand Essence Mystic Realm Competition’s top ten would participate in the Grand Essence Great Meet? If so, then why did I hear that the Grand Essence Great Meet is for the top 100?”
Xiong Cang laughed when he heard Ning Cheng’s words. “Brother Ning, you’re too naive. One hundred people would indeed get to participate in the Great Essence Great Meet. However, only the top ten from the Grand Essence Mystic Realm Competition would have the opportunity to participate in it. As for the remaining ninety people, all those spots belong to the major sects. How could Brother Ning not know about it? The Grand Essence Mystic Realm Competition only gathers divine grasses and some top-grade heavenly woods and earthly treasures for the sects. In essence, us rogue cultivators risk our lives just to serve these major sects.”
Speaking of this, Xiong Cang showed a self-deprecating smile. “It also means that we rogue cultivators are not even equal to the divine grasses we harvest for big sects in the mystic realm. Despite the desperate struggles we have to go through against everyone, to the eyes of those from the big sects, our life and death is nothing more than a source of amusement. They just wait for us to give them the spiritual divine grassed for which we risked our lives.”
Ning Cheng’s heart sank when he heard those words; even his face had an ugly expression over it. One of the reasons he wanted to enter the mystic realm was to search for divine grasses. He needed a lot of divine grasses to improve his alchemy. But more importantly, he also wanted to participate in the Grand Essence Great Meet. Although many cultivators would enter the mystic realm, Ning Cheng still felt confident in entering the top hundred. But top ten, he felt a little uncertain. From the looks of it, that rogue cultivator from before also had no idea about these things.
Those sect geniuses with earthly treasures might not be stronger than him. But they could make it up for it and even surpass him with the opportunities gained through their backgrounds.
Xiong Cang had no idea about Ning Cheng’s thoughts and continued. “We can join forces. As long as we can enter the top ten, we could get two places to participate in the Grand Essence Great Meet. At that time, if we donate the two spots to the sect, we would then be able to join the sect.”
Ning Cheng calmed down and asked, “Brother Xiong, how many cultivators entering the mystic realm to find treasures can claim themselves as geniuses? I believe Brother Xiong already knows the answer to it, so Brother Xiong, do you have a way to enter the top ten?”
Xiong Cang chuckled, “If Brother Ning is willing to join me, then I’ll naturally share my methods with you.”
Ning Cheng suddenly showed a smile, “Brother Xiong, please leave. I just like to be and act alone. I only want to go in and find a Dao Fruit. I don’t have much hope of joining the sacred shrine.”
As soon as Ning Cheng heard Xiong Cang’s words, he understood what Xiong Cang meant. Xiong Cang most likely excelled in stealth attacks. Plus, the only way to reach the top ten without looking for divine grasses was to kill other cultivators in the mystic realm and grab their divine grasses. This kind of robbery went against Ning Cheng’s moral bottom line. Therefore, he naturally wouldn’t join forces with Xiong Cang.
Hearing what Ning Cheng said, Xiong Cang’s eyes flashed with disappointment. After a while, he stood up and cupped his fists towards Ning Cheng and said, “If that is the case, then I will take my leave.”
Ning Cheng waited for Xiong Cang to leave and then immediately activated the room’s restriction. Xiong Cang’s proposal reminded him that since Xiong Can could think of obtaining divine grasses through pillaging, other cultivators might also come up with similar thoughts.
From the looks of it, he not only had to remain on guard against Man Jiuren but also against these rogue cultivators.
For the next few months, Ning Cheng didn’t go anywhere. Apart from refining several spirit artefacts for himself, he also refined a fake Five-coloured Star Splitter Arrow. This arrow’s power couldn’t compare to the real Five-coloured Star Splitter Arrow. But Ning Cheng wanted it to stimulate the same effects as the real Five-coloured Star Splitter Arrow. In any case, Ning Cheng couldn’t craft the real Five-coloured Star Splitter Arrow, which meant that his creations would always have lower power. Even if that was the case, its power could easily exceed that of ordinary middle-grade spirit artefact arrows once this arrow shot out.
Regardless, Ning Cheng refined this arrow not for power but to deal with Man Jiuren’s schemes.
In addition to these artefacts, Ning Cheng also refined a large number of array discs. His proficiency in the Dao of Arrays had already far surpassed his cultivation. Therefore, if he didn’t make use of it, it truly would have been a waste of time learning and pursuing the Dao of Arrays for so long. The power unleashed by an array disc couldn’t compare to a fully-deployed array formation. But facing experts from all sides, even a slight advantage could drastically change a fight’s outcome.
Five months passed by quickly. When Ning Cheng finished refining another Trap and Kill Array Disc, his jade card immediately received an assembly call.
By the time Ning Cheng had put away his things and came out, Xiong Cang also arrived at the public square. When Ning Cheng saw him standing with another rogue cultivator, he understood that Xiong Cang had successfully found a companion.
This time, the group’s leader changed to an older man with a white beard and white hair. Ning Cheng couldn’t see the cultivation of this older man, but he could feel that this old man had monstrous strength. Ning Cheng even suspected that this person was an expert who reached the second step of Dao Confirming.
Ning Cheng also noticed that apart from the twenty newly-recruited rogue cultivators, the public square now consisted of many Seven Star Sacred Shrine’s disciples. Among these disciples, Ning Cheng saw Yan Xishuang, but he still didn’t see Ying Yongxuan.
In a few moments, a huge black airship landed in the middle of the public square. The white-haired old man landed on the bow of the airship. He spoke to the cultivators on the public square, “This time, from our Seven Star Sacred Shrine, a total of seventy people will enter the Grand Essence Mystic Realm. Everybody better pay attention to it. Disciples originally belonging to the Seven Star Sacred Shrine can exchange for the sect’s mission points through divine grasses and other treasures found in the mystic realm. You can even exchange them for spirit pills or even spirit techniques. If you can contribute a lot, you can even exchange your contributions for dao fruits and even dao pills.”
“As for those who recently joined my Seven Star Sacred Shrine, you can also exchange the divine grasses for spirit pills, spirit techniques, or even cultivation methods. If you obtain enough, you can also exchange for dao fruits and dao pills. If you get in the top ten, you would also gain a chance to join the Seven Star Sacred Shrine’s inner sect formally. It also includes privileges like entering and exiting my Seven Star Sacred Shrine’s Dao Sermons, Spirit Technique Pavilion….”
No wonder the cultivators here weren’t bothered about keeping things private. Even if a rogue cultivator obtained an extensive collection of divine grasses, what’s the use of hiding it? At most, they could only exchange them for other things or points in merchant houses. How could a rogue cultivator get help from someone who can refine spirit pills? As for finding someone to refine dao pills, they couldn’t even dream about it.
Speaking about exchanging dao fruits, Ning Cheng thought back to how Kong Ning had spent more than 400,000 points to exchange for a Falling Scar Fruit. It showed that dao fruits weren’t readily available. Besides, not every cultivator was like him, who could already compare to a Dao Sculpting Pill Deity.
Maybe obtaining many divine grasses and then turning them to the sect in exchange for cultivation resources might be the best option for a rogue cultivator. But it might not be the best option for him.
“Of course, there is one thing to keep in mind, especially for those twenty disciples who recently joined my Seven Star Sacred Sect. Of the divine grasses you obtain, after the rankings conclude, you must first hand over one-fifth of them to the sect before you can exchange the rest. Moreover, if you obtain less than 100 divine grasses, you have to hand over half of it to the sect…..”
When Ning Cheng heard of this, he immediately confirmed his previous speculations. Sure enough, the Seven Star Sacred Shrine’s true disciples didn’t need to turn in even a bit of their harvest. Only the rogue cultivators that joined later must pay a part of their spoils to enjoy the same treatment as the Seven Star Sacred Shrine’s true disciples.
Ning Cheng, however, didn’t feel surprised about it. If the Seven Star Sacred Shrine didn’t do this, it would have raised a few alarm bells in people’s mind. Since the Seven Star Sacred Shrine provided them with an opportunity to enter the mystic realm, it was only reasonable and natural to charge some taxes.
“If you don’t have any questions, get on the boat, and we’ll leave for the Grand Essence Mystic Realm.” After the white-haired old man finished speaking, the cultivators waiting on the public square flew onto the airship.
The rogue cultivators immediately lowered their stances and started to form relationships with the Seven Star Sacred Shrine’s true disciples. However, Ning Cheng didn’t come forward and talk too much. It would only create unnecessary problems for him. With the Dragon Emperor still looking for him, it would be better not to speak too much nonsense. Regardless, Ning Cheng came to know that the white-haired old man who led the group was called Fan Mu from the surrounding discussions. He truly was a second-step Dao Confirming expert, more specifically, a Dao Essence powerhouse.
One day later, the Seven Star Sacred Shrine’s airship finally stopped. Ning Cheng observed from the deck that the place where the airship stopped wasn’t in the starry sky but rather on an empty wasteland. However, he could also see many temporary living structures arranged all around the wasteland. From the looks of it, some of the sects had already reached this place before them.