The Golden Core Realm cultivators lined up to be assessed. The first candidate was at Golden Core Realm’s Second Layer. He knelt down, eager and respectful. Reverend Jiuhua, sitting leisurely in his red jade throne, placed a hand on the cultivator’s head, enveloping him in golden light. The pressure from the light forced his eyes shut. He clenched his teeth and tried to conceal the pain. Once Reverend Jiuhua removed his hand, the cultivator looked tired and was drenched in his own sweat. With a nod, Reverend Jiuhua directed, “Go stand on the left. Your body meets my requirements.”
The delighted cultivator bowed to give his gratitude before moving over to Reverend Jiuhua’s left-hand side.
Nobody could tell what Reverend Jiuhua tested, but the applicants smiled when someone only at the realm’s second layer qualified. Notwithstanding the process appearing to include a degree of pain and fatigue due to the golden light from the ring he wore, there was no visible damage. In the end, it was worth it.
“You don’t qualify,” Reverend Jiuhua told the second applicant, who was at the fifth layer.
The second applicant left with his head drooping down.
Mu Yu: “Unbelievable, he’s having them kneel for the test. He might as well paint his face with gold. I wonder what he’s testing.”
“Not sure. He’s probably helping Ghost Gate find someone.”
“Who might that be?”
After over forty applicants took the test, only ten applicants of varying ages had qualified; their cultivation levels also varied. As such, there was no recurring data to decipher what Reverend Jiuhua was after.
Elder Chilong stepped forth and bowed. “Greetings, Your Eminence.”
A grin surfaced on Reverend Jiuhua’s face. “Elder Chilong? It is out of character for you to be here.”
Those unaware of the story between Reverend Jiuhua and Elder Chilong were baffled as to why Reverend Jiuhua suddenly adopted a different tone. Elder Chilong obviously didn’t think kindly of it. Those who were informed of their history, however, grinned as they looked forward to the entertainment.
“You are putting this old one in a predicament, Your Eminence. The hierarchy in the world of cultivation is based on cultivation. This one is underserving of you calling him ‘Elder’. This old one hopes to contribute his Golden Core Realm Ninth Layer cultivation to your noble cause for humanity,” Elder Chilong calmly replied, emphasising his level.
It didn’t take a genius to realise Reverend Jiuhua wouldn’t personally shoulder the mundane work. Thus, having someone of Elder Chilong’s calibre labour for him was perfect. Reverend Jiuhua stroked his white beard and answered, “I do not regret asking you to be my shifu as a young man after hearing that.”
“This one lacked foresight, therefore was unable to see your potential. Please forgive this old one.”
With a smile, Reverend Jiuhua suggested, “In that case, let me give you an examination.”
Mistaken he’d get a free pass, Elder Chilong pursed his lips. Undertaking the test mean the head to kneel at Reverend Jiuhua’s feet. Despite the mockery, despite the pointing and despite his pride, Elder Chilong swallowed it all and went down on his knees. “Yes, Your Eminence.”
Unable to wipe his grin off his face, Reverend Jiuhua proceeded with the test. Moments later, he shook his head. “It is a pity, but your body does not qualify.”
Elder Chilong flicked his head up after snapping out of his dumbfounded moment. “What do you mean, Your Eminence? Do you mean to say I am inferior to a junior at Golden Core Realm’s first layer?”
“I require candidates with bodies sufficiently sturdy. Else, they will not be able to withstand the cleansing process. I am not picking on you by any means.”
Elder Chilong anticipated some form of humiliation, but public humiliation went beyond what he expected. Nevertheless, he prostrated himself again. “Please let this humble one make up for his past mistake with his loyalty.”
“I am not heartless. Should you wish to catch up with me, come see me at the city lord’s manor. Next.”
With a mere flick of his sleeve, Reverend Jiuhua shifted Elder Chilong off the platform without the latter being able to put up any form of resistance. Humiliation set Elder Chilong’s face ablaze, but he was powerless in the face of superior might. Elder Chilong briskly vanished into the crowd.
Tian Ran: “Not even Elder Chilong? He could keep Elder Chilong for his power even if he doesn’t meet the conditions. Golden Core Realm’s Ninth Layer cultivators are venerated here, aren’t they?”
“Did you forget Elder Chilong doesn’t have much longer? Reverend Jiuhua can’t extend his lifespan. His imminent death is unstoppable even if Reverend Jiuhua takes him in. People would suspect Reverend Jiuhua’s lifespan extension claim if Elder Chilong dies not long after joining them. “
In the end, all applicants at Golden Core Realm’s Eight and Ninth Layers – barring Elder Chilong – were accepted. The total number of accepted applicants was fifty-six. Elder Jiuhua said he would eliminate another seven, so there was no time to breathe yet.
Mu Yu: “What differentiates the fifty-six from the others?”
Xiaoshuai, who woke up at some unknown point in time, answered, “Can’t you tell forty-seven of them possess particularly potent spiritual soul energy?”
“Spiritual soul energy?!” Tian Ran exclaimed.
All the pieces finally clicked together.