On the Ancient Road of the Nascent Soul, glittering light rose up. Fatty stared blankly at the stone stele in front of him; the beam of light that rose up was only 90 meters tall, although there were still quite a few others that weren’t as tall as his.
“Fudge!” he thought, his eyes blazing with fury. “Why the hell isn’t my latent talent the best? That doesn’t make sense! All those years ago the Golden Frost Sect told me that my latent talent was unequalled in the whole world!” He was especially depressed when he looked over and saw that Wang Youcai’s column of light was 150 meters tall.
Then he looked over at Chen Fan, and Fatty’s eyes went wide with disbelief. Chen Fan’s beam of light… was actually among the 300-meter columns!
Li Shiqi’s wasn’t quite 300 meters tall, but was still tall enough at 250 meters.
On the Ancient Road of Dao Seeking, as the competitors placed their hands on the stone steles, radiant light shot up, filling the area with scintillating brightness. Only Meng Hao’s stone stele was completely without any light whatsoever. He smiled wryly.
It was impossible for the stone stele to emit any light whatsoever, because the gentle power that was the source of the light never returned from Meng Hao’s body into the stele. Instead, it had been swallowed up by the ethereal Immortal meridian inside of him.
Right now, the audiences in the outside world were all abuzz. Much importance was attached to the latent talent stage of the event. After all, latent talent was an important foundation for cultivators, and all sects paid close attention to it. As for the cultivators who displayed unusual amounts of latent talent, they were immediately taken note of.
There were quite a few people who looked over at Meng Hao. He had taken first place in the previous two stages, which put him directly in the limelight. Many people were waiting in anticipation to see if he would take first place in the third stage as well. Of course, there were also others who looked on with cold smiles, just waiting to ridicule him.
By now, all of the stone steles were lit up, be they on the Ancient Roads of the Nascent Soul or Spirit Severing, or the Ancient Road of Dao Seeking. Now, all attention was focused on Meng Hao….
This was especially the case because, after taking first in the first two stages, he was now ahead of everyone on the Ancient Road. There weren’t even any other cultivators around him, which made his position even more conspicuous.
“What is Fang Mu up to?”
“Eee? There’s no light coming from the stone stele at all! What’s wrong? He can’t possibly be completely devoid of latent talent. Even if it’s poor, there would still be some light, right?”
“Maybe he didn’t actually start the analysis yet. But hold on, his hand is clearly resting on the stele!”
Soon, everyone on the outside was looking over at the image of Meng Hao on the vortex screens, and were astonished.
The powerful experts from the various sects were also watching, as was everyone in the palace up the starry sky. Everyone from the Three Churches and Six Sects, the Five Great Holy Lands, the Four Great Clans, and even the Three Great Daoist Socities, was now looking at Meng Hao and his lightless stone stele.
“What crafty scheme is that little bastard pulling off?” thought Patriarch Reliance, his face twisted with fury. Although he had a complex relationship with Meng Hao, Meng Hao was the sole Inner Sect disciple from the Reliance sect. Therefore, the scene that was playing out right now left Patriarch Reliance feeling quite disgraced.
Back in the vast Eastern Lands, Fang Xiufeng and Meng Li were also staring in shock. They knew exactly what kind of latent talent Meng Hao had. Although he’d experienced the Seventh Year Tribulation, he was also the first person in the entire Fang Clan in years to actually experience a second and even a third lifetime.
Because of that, they knew that his bloodline ran especially strong. A cultivator’s bloodline was one of the aspects of their latent talent, so they couldn’t understand why the stone stele in front of Meng Hao did not shine with light.
Meng Hao cleared his throat and looked around at all the other people and their columns of light. Feeling all the eyes boring down into his back, he slowly lifted his hand up and then pressed it down again onto the stone stele.
The gentle power appeared once again, but just like the last time, the Immortal meridian swallowed it up. It was at this point that Meng Hao noticed that after absorbing the power, the Immortal meridian was a bit different.
He casually lifted his hand up again and then pushed it down, causing more of the gentle energy to spread out inside him. The spectators looked on in shock as Meng Hao continuously attempted to activate the light.
After trying seven or eight times, he realized that the Immortal meridian had absorbed too much of the gentle power, and now there wasn’t any emanating out from the stone stele at all. However, the Immortal meridian inside of him had changed from it’s previous illusory state. About ten percent of it had solidified.
This development caused Meng Hao’s heart to pound with wild joy and excitement. He knew that the moment the Immortal Meridian was complete, he would step into true Immortality.
Suppressing his excitement, he plastered an expression of surprise onto his face and then pushed his hand down onto the stele a few more times experimentally. He glanced around, then looked up, apparently frustrated, and called out into the void: “Senior Ling Yunzi, are you there!? This stone stele is broken! Can I have another?
“Actually, sir, it would be best to bring out several, just in case there are any other broken ones. That will save you some frustration in the long run.” He gazed up into the starry sky, an expression of eager anticipation on his face.
Everything was silent. The other cultivators on the Ancient Road of Dao Seeking all looked on silently.
In the starry sky palace, the Patriarchs from the various sects were all frowning. However, they knew that the Ruins of Immortality were veiled in mystery. Even though the Three Great Daoist Societies held control of the three Ancient Roads, there were many things about them that they didn’t understand.
After a long moment, the Patriarch of the Nine Seas God World said, “Fellow Daoist Ling Yunzi, give him another.”
The voice echoed out into the Ancient Road of Dao Seeking, and Ling Yunzi materialized out of the void. He looked down indifferently at Meng Hao, then waved his sleeve, causing the stone stele in front of him to vanish as if had been teleported away. Moments later, it was replaced by another stone stele.
Meng Hao’s eyes gleamed as he quickly reached his hand out and pushed it down onto the stone stele.
“SHINE!” he bellowed. The gentle power once again entered his body and began to flow about. At the same time, an imperceptible flicker appeared in Meng Hao’s eyes as he used both the meat jelly and the black feather to conceal anything that was happening inside of him.
The Immortal meridian quickly sucked in every last bit of the power, although it didn’t seem to have a very drastic effect on the meridian itself. Meng Hao blinked. Then, as Ling Yunzi looked on wide-eyed, he dramatically inspected the stone stele and tried to place his hand onto it several times. Soon, all the power from the stele was sucked away by the Immortal Meridian.
Ling Yunzi wasn’t the only person who was paying close attention to what was happening. The people in the starry sky palace were also observing closely, and their frowns deepend.
“There’s something wrong!”
“The stone stele isn’t defective. Even though everything seems normal, there’s actually something strange going on inside of his body.”
“He must cultivate some unique Daoist magic….”
As the discussions buzzed in the palace, an old man wearing a long crimson gown suddenly rose to his feet.
“There’s no need for any testing,” he said. “Ladies and Gentleman, Mount Sun would be happy to dispel any doubts for you. I will recruit him to join Mount Sun, and then all disputes will be resolved.” Laughing heartily, he began to walk forward, but then his path was suddenly obstructed.
“There’s no need for the Holy Land of Mount Sun to go to that trouble! The Burning Incense Stick Society is more than willing to take the risk of recruiting him.”
In the blink of an eye, the atmosphere in the palace was completely astir. As they verbally sparred over the matter, Meng Hao stood on his altar on the Ancient Road of Dao Seeking. Sighing, he looked up at the grim-faced Ling Yunzi.
“Senior, this… this one’s broken too! Why don’t you give me a few more…?”
Ling Yunzi stared at him silently for a moment, then waved his hand. Rumbling echoed out as four stone steles with the character ‘talent’ inscribed on them suddenly appeared.
Meng Hao’s heart thumped, and he coughed lightly again and began the assessment.
“Hm, this one’s broken.
“Eee? This one’s broken too! Dammit!
“Heavens! Who would have thought that this one would also be broken!
“I… I can’t believe it! This one’s broken too!” Meng Hao looked up with a sheepish, pained expression, as if the Heavens were playing a cruel joke on him. Ling Yunzi looked back with an extremely unsightly expression.
Of course, inwardly, Meng Hao was extremely excited. Although the five stone steles from just now had not been incredibly effective, they had pushed his Immortal meridian from being ten percent solid to twenty percent.
Of course, all of the crowds looking on in the Ninth Mountain and Sea weren’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Although Meng Hao was no longer in first place, he was actually even more a center of attention than before, when he had placed first.
“Senior, why don’t you give me another ten,” Meng Hao said expectantly.
Ling Yunzi’s eyelids twitched. With a cold harrumph, he waved his hand, then apathetically announced the first place winner of the third stage.
After that he said, “The next stage assesses cultivation base! Let the assessment begin!”
As his words rang out, the ‘talent’ stone steles vanished.
The first place winner of the third stage glared at Meng Hao in frustration, but could do nothing except wallow in anger.
“Senior!” Meng Hao cried out in distress. “Hey, senior! I’m not done with the assessment! This isn’t fair!”
Ling Yunzi completely ignored Meng Hao, and in fact, vanished into thin air.
Nobody paid any attention to Meng Hao’s complaints whatsoever. At the same time, everyone else on the Ancient Road of Dao Seeking stepped forward toward the ‘cultivation’ stone steles. The Patriarchs in the starry sky palace up above looked on with glittering eyes. Although they had been bickering moments ago, it was all in accord with the various plans they had.
As for the crowds in the Ninth Sea, they had originally had high expectations for the third stage, but after what had happened with Fang Mu, the mood… was completely different.
“This is so unfair!” grumbled Meng Hao. He walked forward to the ‘cultivation’ stone stele, reached out his right hand, and was delighted to find that the gentle power, although somewhat different than the power from before, was actually slightly more powerful. As soon as it entered his body and began to circulate around, the Immortal meridian trembled and then thirstily spread out to absorb all of it.
“Dammit! How could this one be broken too?” exclaimed Meng Hao, seemingly furious. As all of the other stone steles around him shone with bright light, Meng Hao continued to attempt to get his to work, looking as though he refused to believe it wouldn’t. After the seventh or eighth attempt, he had absorbed enough power from the stone stele to solidify his Immortal meridian to thirty percent.
His cultivation base, with its eighty percent of the power of a true Immortal, actually experienced some advancement.
Licking his lips, Meng Hao once again called out loudly. “This really isn’t fair! Senior Ling Yunzi, please, let me switch steles!”
Ling Yunzi materialized and, his expression dark, looked at Meng Hao and waved his arm. The ‘cultivation’ stone steles vanished, and then Ling Yunzi’s annoyed voice echoed out.
“Pipe down! Any more chatter from you and you’ll be disqualified! Next stage, the age assessment!”
Meng Hao blinked. Feeling slightly guilty, he proceeded toward the ‘age’ stone stele and pushed his hand down onto it.