140 Chapter 140
The five hundred or so people were led to a large hall where they stood and waited. Everyone was keeping to themselves in the previously created groups, only a couple of people could be seen alone without any factions backing them up. This hall was mostly empty with torches lined up on the walls that shone brightly.
The trial participants had walked down into the unknown for quite some time before arriving here. The place they were led to was apparently deep underground under the city. The hall was quite immense and the ceiling was at least twenty meters tall. There were large square pillars holding it up with bright-lit torches that seemed to be burning without the need for oil.
There were several men standing on the other end of this hall, they wore a familiar set of robes that these junior participants were already familiar with as they belonged to the people responsible for the testing process. Everyone looked to them as it was time for the last test to start, a lot of the youths feeling those butterflies in their stomachs.
"Welcome, you have managed to best your peers but now the real trial begins!"
There was something like a large gate close to where the testing personnel was standing at. The strange thing about this gate was that it wasn't leading anywhere. There were wide stairs leading up to it but nothing behind it, not a tunnel or anything of the sort. The youths looked at each other while the people that worked for the dark palm sect chuckled on the inside, laughing at these backwater cultivator's lack of knowledge.
Suddenly the large circular shaped gate that was embedded into the wall started vibrating. Everyone could feel massive spiritual energy radiation coming off of it. Some Chinese symbols started appearing on the rocky surface of that gate, a burst of energy making the whole thing light up in one go. Suddenly something that looked like water exploded forward startling the young contestants.
"W-what is that..."
"It looks like a pond of water but on the wall..."
This was what some people called a 'portal' it was shining with deep blue light, the surface looked like a pound which was waving around. While the young people were gazing at the strange phenomenon the people in the room spoke out.
"This is what we call a transfer gate, you will walk through this treasure and be placed inside the last trial ground. As you might have heard, the place you will be transported to will be unknown, if you're lucky you might even appear near a treasure!"
The youths looked at the strange-looking treasure that looked like a teleportation gate. It looked a lot different than the teleportation array that was located in the secret ground. The senior member picked up a rock for a presentation and threw it inside the watery like surface. The item that was thrown vanish inside and the surface just rippled like it was made from water.
"As you can see, you just need to go through it, so don't be afraid."
The man laughed a bit after seeing how these young cultivators reacted, most of them never having seen a teleportation treasure like this. Something like this was a well-kept secret among powerful clans, being able to teleport was a big advantage if it came to battle. Mostly due to logistics, you could easily transport resources to your warriors and army without having to leave your well-protected fortress. You didn't need to worry about enemy attacks hitting your transport line either.
This wasn't something widely spread though, even this place only allowed people to teleport within the trial grounds and at a random fashion to boot. The dark palm sect possessed the knowledge to build teleportation gates like this, but there were very few of them around as they just used up way too many resources. This one was only valid for the trial period as it couldn't be used for long-range teleportation between cities. The sect only had the teleportation treasures situated in their core cities and strongholds.
"Please proceed to the gate in an orderly fashion, but don't go in, all at once."
A line was formed and the youths started vanishing while the teleportation gate rippled as if something splashed inside of it. In time everyone found themselves alone in various sections of the large trial ground, it consisted mostly of wide corridors with faint light but some were pitch dark. The less fortunate people ended up in the middle of traps or around automated dolls that started chasing them the moment they got a glimpse of the enemy.
One of those unlucky people was the Zhang Clan prodigy, Zhang Tai. At first, he thought he hit the jackpot, ending up close to some spiritual herbs that were just growing to the side. The herb that he spotted was giving off some strong spiritual energies and had a nice mint smell to it. Was this the fabled seven-star sage? he thought before moving up to it, hoping to pocket it with him. Spatial rings were forbidden in this area, the cultivators could only bring as much as they could carry with them.
But just as he was about to pluck the herb from the ground, he noticed something staring at him. After he pushed some spiritual energy into his eyes to get a better look he saw quite the army of wooden dolls. They weren't the humanoid looking ones that were at the corridor though. Those didn't have sickles for arms and swords for legs, these here were clearly enhanced to kill. He quickly grabbed the herb and bolted away, not really keen on finding out if he was able to handle these automatons on his own. The moment he snatched the treasure though, the group of battle puppets chased after him.
Zhang Liu, on the other hand, was dropped off in an unsuspecting corridor with nothing in particular around him. After traveling for some minutes, hoping to find something he noticed some strange fluctuations right above him. Before he could react to the strange phenomenon he saw a large posterior right in front of his face. Bewildered by the display he didn't react in time and got hit by it and tumbled to the ground. He started wiggling around and could hear the person on top of him gasp, with a rather cute voice.
The person on top of him quickly jumped off his face, he groaned as he felt a foot hitting his stomach as the female to who the posterior belonged to jumped away. He gasped yet again, the moment he saw who the person was that landed on him.
This was the small Feng Nuana, that was blushing slightly while holding her short skirt from her robe down. She had apparently been teleported in the same place that Zhang Liu did, as her clan was the one next in line right after the Zhang clan.
This place was quite large as it covered the underground area under the whole city that housed millions of people in it. There were many corridors and the chances off meeting at the start were slim. The whole test had a time limit of a week, so the contestants had the incentive to find others and strip them of their tokens. After this, they could either wait out the whole extent of the trial or try to find one of the exit teleportation gates that were scattered around the large maze-like area. But you wouldn't find more than a handful of those, so waiting it out was quite a valid strategy.
The test finally started, the young adults inside started looking for their allies and enemies alike. They all had some baggage in the form of food and weapons with them. This would be a true test of their survival skills. While everything was unfolding a certain white-haired man was sitting with his legs crossed, staring at a scroll.
"Well... think I got all that I need now... let me just got through this one last time..."
This was, of course, the glorious Zhang Clan Patriarch, Zhang Dong. He had written down the whole cultivation process on the paper, with pointers on how to go through into the Nascent soul. He had managed to fashion a small formation to help him with controlling the spiritual energy in his own body. He also produced a helpful pill that would boost his vitality and concentration during the task. There wasn't really more that he could do, being already a step through the door he just needed to take the next one further in.
"Okay, this is it... time to become one with the world and one with myself..."
This would be quite the quality change for him as he would be gaining something called a nascent soul. This would fully awaken something called the Spiritual Sense. At first, he thought this was something similar to the aura detection technique that he used before, but it wasn't quite that. If he understood it correctly, it would push him towards being one with himself and one with the world around him. Making him able to sense other energies and truths that the world of cultivation had to offer, and not just other cultivators.
"Here goes nothing... wonder what gramps will say when he finds out..."
He chuckled to himself, he knew that no one expected him to reach this level so soon. If he succeeded he would be the youngest Nascent soul practitioner in the world. From what he knew, the world record wasn't even under the hundred-year mark. People at the great circle of core formation would prepare for years before attempting a breakthrough.
'Guess maxing out your cultivation level wasn't all that easy... But I guess the techniques they use are also faulty and have more restrictions than mine.'
He smacked both his cheeks with his palms to pump himself up and sat down in a traditional lotus position. Golden lightning crackled around him and his body started radiating a massive amount of spiritual energy. The space around him warped and he slowly started floating off the ground.
The lightning that was coming of his body collided with the ground, some strange patterns emerging from under his floating form. The area shined brightly as the electricity was absorbed and then redistributed back into the man floating above. This was the formation that was working to help with Matt's spiritual energy usage, pushing it back into him so that not much of it was wasted on the surroundings.
His cultivation was fully utilized as he felt his power rising and rising. He could feel his golden lightning core shaking as it got bathed in his divine lightning energies. His foundation pillars also reacted, humming together as they resonated with his cultivation core that began expanding in size. His core took in his divine lightning energies while his whole body surged with power.
Matt could feel his body changing, his core got bigger and bigger and he knew that the moment it shattered it would unearth a soul underneath. He wasn't hasty though, making sure to follow his battle plan and slowly perform this procedure like a surgeon doing and operation. The time for action came soon enough, the man opened up his eyes which were noting more than golden saucers filled with lightning energy.
He tossed his head upwards and shouted out, the last surge of Qi ventured forth through his meridians and invaded his core shattering it into pieces in one go. The process wasn't painful but it wasn't anything enjoyable either as sweat run down his forehead. He could suddenly feel it, there was something deep inside of him. He tried looking at the thing that was now there, the 'soul' that was formed looked at him back and he felt like he was looking at himself from withing.
"So... this is my nascent soul..."
The soul looked like a tiny person, a small version of himself. The odd thing about the tiny person living inside of him was, that he wasn't one hundred percent similar to his current appearance. From what Matt could tell, the soul living inside of him had features that he possessed in his old life, like his eye color. It was as if his old persona had mixed with his current one to form this strange-looking nascent soul. Still, he had broken through, power was surging through his entire body, power like he had never felt before.
He grasped his hand, the surrounding space contorted to his might as his golden lightning energies burst forth. Massive winds were produced by this simple hand gesture that didn't really have his full force behind it. He was feeling rather peculiar, he could feel it... he could feel everything around him, it was as if he was one with the world.