646 Climbing the Stairway
There were more than 120 genius organizations in Division 1 alone and more than 80 in Division 2. Although there were lesser in Division 3, there were still more than 40 of them. Meanwhile, the remaining nine divisions outside the core zones had a total of 12 genius organizations. There were a total of 268 genius organizations in the Genius Union.
The Sweep Alliance ranked No. 183 due to two main reasons. One was their low number of members. Half of the 268 genius organizations had more than 100 members while the Sweep Alliance only had 36 members. They ranked No. 240 based on their number of members, coming in at almost the last 20. Another reason was that the did not have a really powerful member. Huangfu Lin was the only one in the Sweep Alliance that could kill imperial-levels. Her combat level was only on immortal-level rank-7. Immortal-level rank-9 supreme geniuses led the top-ranking organizations, and they even had more than one immortal-level rank-9 supreme geniuses.
Lin Huang understood where the Sweep Alliance stood after hearing Yao Lan's explanation. She was picky when it came to picking members while Huangfu Lin did not bother about that at all. Among the 36 members, besides some of them that had been recruited by Huangfu Hao, most of them joined on their own. Some of them joined before Yao Lan did and they had yet to retire.
However, due to the war that was coming within five years, the Genius Union would need more resources. She had lowered her criteria in recruiting to get more members for the Sweep Alliance. Besides personal rewards for higher positions, there were also rewards for team ranking. The benefits were definitely attractive. After completing the basic explanation, Yao Lan brought Lin Huang to the Stairway Tree.
"You can start climbing today if you're not too busy. Rewards will be given 20 days later, and your result will be added to the points for the month." Yao Lan sounded impatient.
"Alright, I shall warm up today." Lin Huang nodded and summoned a golden-haired ape.
It was one of the Monster Cards that he had obtained after killing the Triheaded Ape earlier. After Xiao Hei's amendment, the apes' genetic issues had been solved. Besides that, one of them obtained an ancient Mighty Ape's bloodline during its triple mutation while another obtained the bloodline of an ancient Frost Flame Ape.
The golden-haired ape was the one that had obtained the Mighty Ape's bloodline. It was more than 200 meters tall like a little mountain. Many people exclaimed when they saw it.
"That's a triple mutated ancient monster's bloodline!" Yao Lan was stunned when she saw the golden-haired ape. Some of the people who were climbing mid-way and those ready to climb looked enviously at the ape. None of them planned to capture it as the Mighty Ape's aura was an immortal-level. Besides, from its size alone, it seemed like a bad idea to offend it.
"Let's go!" Lin Huang waved at Yao Lan and hopped onto the Mighty Ape's shoulder.
"Herculean King, let's climb trees today!" The Mighty Ape (the ape only had the bloodline of the Mighty Ape, but not a genuine one as it was just a temporary name) that was summoned by Lin Huang was excited as it was its first time being summoned. It pounded its chest after hearing his instruction and roared into the sky before climbing.
Although the branches of the Stairway Tree were as thick as a wall, the barks were not as smooth as the surface of a wall. The cracks in the barks were the best climbing points of the tree. Although the Mighty Ape was huge, its ape instinct still made it much agiler than the people who were having a hard time climbing. Because of its massive size, in less than one minute, it had climbed thousands of meters high and disappeared into the clouds.
The people below were envious as they watched the ape disappear. Yao Lan, who was watching at the bottom of the tree, smiled and she shook her head.
"At this speed, he should face his first challenge soon."
There would be checkpoints every 10,000 meters on the Stairway Tree. The higher it was, the more difficult it was to go through the checkpoint. Besides abilities, most of the checkpoints would require specific skills or strategies to be exact. The lower checkpoints were public whereby everybody knew the usual modus operandi, but up to a certain level, the strategies were kept private by the organizations and would not be leaked to other organizations. Some of the organizations would sell the strategies at a high price, but only some of the top organizations had the strategies to the more difficult checkpoints. They were not lacking points and did not wish to be on par with other organizations.
The first checkpoint that was 10,000 meters above ground was the Fog Cloud level. It was the layer of white clouds that Lin Huang had seen when he was at the bottom of the tree. The cloud was thousands of meters thick. Entering the cloud was like entering fog that made everything poorly visible. Most importantly, the fog had an intense hallucinogenic effect that penetrated directly into human bodies and could not be avoided.
Those who were not aware and breathed normally would accelerate the hallucinogenic effect once the fog was in the lungs. In the fog, let alone holy fire-level human, an immortal-level person would be affected if they stayed. It was easy to get lost in the thick fog, and with the hallucinogenic effect, many holy fire-level humans would be stuck on this level.
Yao Lan had planned to give the strategy to Lin Huang, but he did not ask for it. He even refused to hear anything about the checkpoint. He thought it would be more exciting and new that way. He wanted to know how far he could go with his own ability and without any strategies that were told by someone else.
As soon as he entered the clouds, Lin Huang sensed something odd in the fog. As a psychic, his sense was much more powerful than the average person. He could sense clearly that there was an odd energy in the fog that was trying to penetrate his body.
"This hallucinogenic cloud should be the first checkpoint. It will definitely affect those who have weak spirits. Normal people should be slower than me if they're not riding a summoning monster as I do. The longer one stays in this cloud, the more one will be lost," Lin Huang analyzed the complication of the checkpoint.
Before he could analyze further, the Mighty Ape had gotten out of the clouds and climbed further up. Clearly, the hallucinogenic effect could do little to no harm to immortal-level humans in such a short period of time.
"I wonder what the second checkpoint is going to be..." Lin Huang stopped looking at the clouds beneath and looked up into the sky. There was a layer of dark clouds on top of his head. Suddenly, it was snowing…