The examination finished quickly and Lu Ping was naturally not worried about failing at all.
In the last month, three more disciples had broken through to the Sixth Layer, making a total of 34 Sixth Layer Blood Refining Realm disciples in Group 7.
However, judging by the expression on Master Immortal Liu’s face, Lu Ping strongly suspected that the three may have consumed a large number of medicinal pellets and spirit stones. They did so without regard to the medicinal toxicity and also the durability of their bloodlines, just to achieve a breakthrough.
Although the sect would not look down on them or disqualify their status, doing such a thing would leave serious and indiscernible damage to their body and cultivation base. This would make their progression into the Late Blood Refining Realm much more difficult compared to the rest.
The number of Seventh Layer disciples remained at twelve, which didn’t bring any surprise to Master Immortal Liu. However, Sixth Senior Martial Brother’s progression into the Eighth Layer earned him two-hour private tutoring sessions with Master Immortal Liu for three days.
Lu Ping remembered seeing Sixth Senior Martial Brother in the market the other day; he was there for the copper mirror mystic instrument. Perhaps after his recent breakthrough, he was looking for a suitable mystic instrument to better prepare himself for the upcoming competition. However, Lu Ping didn’t know if he found another mystic instrument of his own after missing out on the copper mirror.
Today, Master Immortal Liu appeared punctually on the stone stage as usual. He looked at the twelve disciples that were qualified to compete in the competition and said, “The sect has decided to increase the prizes in the competition this year. Every Grade 2 disciple in the Late Blood Refining Realm will be given 20 spirit stones; the top sixty-four will get 40 spirit stones; the top thirty-two will be given another 20 cultivation-increment medicinal pellets; the top sixteen will receive a low-grade mystic instrument each; and lastly, not only will the top eight be given the status of inner disciples, they will also receive a Blood Condensing Pellet each!”
“Blood Condensing Pellet!”
“Blood Condensing Pellet!? That medicinal pellet they say can increase the chances of advancement into the Blood Condensation Realm?”
“Those are usually given to the top four!”
“The rumor is true! The sect really upped the rewards this year!”
After dropping the bomb, Master Immortal Liu was content to see the disciples’ reactions as if he was the one that made the bomb. He cleared his throat, and after confirming the disciples’ attention had turned back to him, he continued, “That’s not all. If you enter the top four, you will get a mid-grade mystic instrument; the top two can enter the Pavilion of Books and select a secret art of their choice; and lastly, the champion of the competition will be rewarded with a talisman forged by the Core Forging Realm Enlightened Master!”
Talisman, the talisman!
The disciples looked at one another but none of them could squeeze a word out of their mouths—they were all stunned with shock. But among them all, perhaps only First Senior Martial Brother and Second Senior Martial Brother who were in the Ninth Blood Refining Realm had a chance to fight for it!
On the other hand, First Senior Martial Brother Yao Yong and Second Senior Martial Brother Du Feng were both wide-eyed and shining with excitement; they couldn’t wait for the competition anymore.
It seemed like Master Immortal Liu had already foreseen their reactions. He couldn’t help but recall the days when he was also just a Zhen Ling Side Hall disciple. Then, he thought about the goal of the competition this year and held mixed feelings in his heart!
Lu Ping was also fighting hard to contain his excitement when he looked at the lively disciples around him, but at the same time, he couldn’t help but ponder why the sect had not only extended the number of disciples eligible for the rewards but also increased the prizes.
Lu Ping looked at Master Immortal Liu and noticed the latter’s momentary absentmindedness, followed by doubt filling his eyes. It was clear that although Master Immortal Liu knew something about the sect’s plan, he still didn’t have the full picture.
Even though Lu Ping was excited, he kept a cool mind, not letting the prizes mess with his judgment. There were twenty groups among the Grade 2 disciples: those who were in the Late Blood Refining Realm in addition to those who, although were not Late Blood Refining Realm cultivators, were strong enough to stand up as one of the top ten in their own respective groups. These disciples would total up to more than 200 in number.
In comparison, as someone just in the late Seventh Layer, he would most likely make it into the list of top 64. If he took into account the blood charms, his two mystic instruments, and his skill mastery that was in the state of Technique, he might be able to fight for a spot in the top 16.
Of course, this would only be possible if he didn’t get matched with a Ninth Layer disciple in the early matches.
But the top eight, the Blood Condensing Pellet! That was the biggest factor driving Lu Ping’s motivation!
It might be true that he was a little wealthy now, but he definitely wasn’t on the same level as the Ninth Layer disciples. As far as he knew, Yao Yong and Du Feng had two mystic instruments each. Furthermore, their mystic instruments might even be mid-grade.
Whereas Fourth Senior Martial Sister Shi Lingling came from a wealthy family of cultivators; she also had two mystic instruments in her hands. So although Lu Ping knew nothing about the other senior martial siblings, he wouldn’t dare to look down on them.
Furthermore, this was just Group 7 alone!
If he entered the Eighth Layer, there might be a chance for him. But it was a fact that he’d just entered the Seventh Layer three months ago. Although he somehow achieved late-stage Seventh Layer, he never had the extravagant hope of advancing into the Eighth Layer so soon.
Even First Senior Martial Brother Yao Yong, who was praised by Master Immortal Liu as a talent, took two and a half years to break through to the Eighth Layer. Fourth Senior Martial Sister Shi Lingling achieved the Seventh Layer at the age of 13 and spent another two years to breakthrough to the Eighth Layer. She was now at the late-stage of Eighth Layer at the age of 17. However, she was still far from advancing into the Ninth Layer.
Could he really advance into the Eighth Layer before the competition? Lu Ping shook his head and decided not to think about it!
The first light of dawn full of vim and vigor shattered the dark sky, mirroring the smiles on the faces of the side hall disciples!
The competition of the Grade 2 disciples would be happening in the side hall’s plaza.
Nine arenas were raised in the center of the plaza. Eight were smaller arenas that centered around the bigger main arena in the plaza center.
Below the center arena, more than 200 disciples lined up in twenty rows according to their groups. Each group was led by a Blood Condensation Realm master immortal and had a different number of disciples; some had fifteen in total and some fourteen, even the smallest groups had at least ten disciples.
Meanwhile, the rings outside of the eight smaller arenas were also filled with people. They were either the Grade 2 disciples that were not qualified for the competition or the Grade 1 and Grade 3 disciples who were not involved in the competition, and there were also some outer disciples. There were more than ten thousand disciples watching the competition with anticipation.
Amid the crowd’s noisy clamor, a loud and penetrating voice commanded, “Disciples, silence!”
Immediately, the plaza turned silent. A middle-aged master immortal trod the air and walked to the center arena. The disciples were abuzz once again after seeing the master immortal’s entrance.
Lu Ping recognized the master immortal as Group 1’s Master Immortal Wang, the leader of the master immortals in charge of the Grade 2 disciples. It was said that he was already a Late Blood Condensation Realm cultivator and this was his last year leading the Grade 2 disciples. Next year onwards, he would be in charge of the Grade 3 disciples.
Master Immortal Wang had a strict and stern face. He walked to the arena and glanced across the crowd, then he shouted, “Master immortals, come to the stage! We and the disciples greet and welcome the Dean Enlightened Master!”
Master Immortal Liu and nineteen other master immortals flew up to the center arena and they bowed in respect with the disciples, all shouting in unison, “Welcome, Dean Enlightened Master!”
“Hahaha…” A burst of laughter could be heard from afar. It wasn’t loud, but everyone could hear it clearly in their ears.
“I’m a little embarrassed to make you all wait every time we hold the five-year promotional competition of the Grade 2 disciples!”
When the laughter just started, the dean was still nowhere to be seen. But when he started talking, three jade lights were caught flashing out from the horizon onto the center arena. By the time he finished talking, an old man was already standing in the middle of the arena, followed by two other middle-aged cultivators behind him.
From the start to the end, the volume of his voice didn’t change at all. If they hadn’t clearly seen the old man flying into the side hall from afar, they’d have thought he was talking from the center arena the entire time!
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