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Chapter 0522: Imperial Concubine Xuan Yu’s Invitation
Ning Cheng had already checked things out, the first trial merely involved Celestial Essence resistance and simple arithmetic. This level of calculation posed no difficulty for Ning Cheng, looking at the pattern inscribed on the hall’s floor; first, one had to find the correct landing position by searching for the proper permutation. Then, when he or she landed in the right spot, they would immediately experience a strong Celestial Essence drag, which they would have to resist. This Celestial Essence drag would not pose many problems even for a normal Celestial Novice Cultivator; as such, it would not pose any threat to him.
Nearing the hall’s wall, one would then see a permutation-related calculation. Inscribing the result of that calculation on the wall will immediately open a gate over one of the hall’s wall, signifying the entrance to the second level.
The first level was just too simple. Ning Cheng estimated that there should only be a very few people who cannot pass through this level; therefore, he did not need to spoon-feed them.
Over at the 9-Step Obscure Array’s first level, some cultivators quickly popped out, once again appearing on the Orchid Borough Public Square.
Ning Cheng, however, had quickly made his way to the second level, finding that the second level was a deserted canyon. Ning Cheng had just come in when a powerful force pushed at him. If one did not pay attention to this invisible force, he or she would have inadvertently taken a step back. As soon as one took a step back, the formation would immediately teleport them out to the Lucky Heave City’s Public Square.
In addition to the force, there was a stone tablet at his feet, which also contained a complicated pattern inscribed over it. Armed with the experience from the first level, Ning Cheng knew that this stone tablet was the key to deducing the correct way of passing through this second level.
Moreover, under this gradually increasing force that bore down on the participants in this level, using Spiritual Consciousness to try to infer the correct walking path would prove even more difficult. As such, only those blessed with the advantage of a powerful Spiritual Consciousness gained through a systematic evolution could use it to calculate the correct walking path. Under normal circumstances, as long one had sufficient time, even an ordinary Celestial Novice Cultivator could figure out the right walking route.
However, the longer one stayed in this place, the longer one spent trying to extrapolate the correct path, the higher the force that one had to withstand, as the force bearing down would gradually strengthen. As such, there was no way for a cultivator to exploit the loophole of time to extrapolate the correct route.
Ning Cheng quickly calculated the correct route. However, he did not immediately move ahead and patiently waited for Jing Wuming, Lan Ya and Shi Yulan.
Ning Cheng had to wait for almost an hour before three of the participating geniuses appeared one after another within the range of his Spiritual Consciousness, each in another canyon.
The force bearing down on Ning Cheng was also starting to grow larger and larger. As such, he did not let the three people try to calculate the correct walking route. Ning Cheng quickly figured out the exact path for the three and passed it to the three of them through his Spiritual Consciousness.
The Jing Wuming trio felt pleasantly surprised as they discovered that Ning Cheng had already proceeded to the third level while the three of them had barely passed through the first.
The third level consisted of only six steps, and each step had a similar force bearing down on it. Every step forward would increase the pressure bearing down by several multitudes.
However, Ning Cheng quickly discovered that he could use his Spiritual Consciousness to block a part of this force, which made it a lot easier for him on the steps. Walking through these six steps not only tested one’s Celestial Essence but also was a test of Spiritual Consciousness. The more powerful one’s Spiritual Consciousness, the smaller would the force bearing down on him or her.
If Ning Cheng had to walk through these six steps alone, he most likely would not have to struggle much. However, Ning Cheng could perceive through his Spiritual Consciousness that Jing Wuming and Shi Yulan could not hold on for long, even Lan Ya did not look that good. At the same time, he also felt that to guarantee a spot to reach the Striking Order Starry Skies, one must pass through the third level.
Ning Cheng’s Spiritual Consciousness immediately spread out, helping the three of them to ward off some of the pressure. At this time, Ning Cheng had to bear several times more load than usual, if not for the formidable tenacity of his Starry Skies’ Sea of Consciousness, Ning Cheng might have already quit.
Ning Cheng slowly walked over the steps, one step at a time, aided by his strong Spiritual Consciousness. At the same time, because Ning Cheng was also helping the Jing Wuming trio, each step forward compounded the pressure bearing down on him.
The moment the four of them reached the sixth step, they immediately passed into the fourth level. However, Ning Cheng also felt a sharp pain from his Sea of Consciousness. By the time he recovered, his Spiritual Consciousness could no longer penetrate through the surroundings. At the same time, Ning Cheng could only observe the situation in front of him.
Ning Cheng realised that the Shi Yulan trio must have already exited. As such, he was now alone inside. Although passing through the fourth level alone would not pose many problems, there was still the fact that Ning Cheng was just a Celestial Novice Cultivator. If he showed off too much, it would definitely attract a lot of attention. Thinking of it, Ning Cheng deliberately took a step back as if affected by the pressure bearing down on him.
The next moment, Ning Cheng felt a warm light wrap around him that immediately sent him out.
“Ning Cheng…..” Lan Ya quickly rushed towards Ning Cheng. Seeing Ning Cheng’s pale face, she immediately knew what must have happened.
“Are you alright?” Jing Wuming also anxiously walked over. If not for Ning Cheng’s help, not to mention entering the fourth level, they would have found it difficult to pass through the second level.
“How’s our ranking?” Ning Cheng quickly asked.
Shi Yulan’s voice arrived, “We are all in the top hundred.”
Ning Cheng felt pleasantly surprised in his heart. Was it too much? Four of them entering the top hundred at the same time, was it good? Seeing that Jing Wuming wanted to talk, Ning Cheng quickly spoke up, “Don’t immediately leave. Let’s take a look at other’s rankings.”
Jing Wuming, who seemed to want to talk, immediately shut up. Just like Lan Ya and Shi Yulan, he also felt shocked by the power of Ning Cheng’s Spiritual Consciousness; however, he knew that this was not a place to talk.
Ning Cheng looked at the rankings over the Array Formation Displays, and his tense heart slowly started to calm down. In just a short time, the rankings of several people dropped from the top hundred to hundreds. Moreover, the rankings of many people were still falling. Ning Cheng knew that this was due to his relatively short clearance time. Furthermore, not a lot of people could compare to him when it came to computing ability.
People continually poured out into the public square, and the ranking of Ning Cheng and the others had dropped down significantly.
“Huh, how are your rankings so high?” Ruan Mingshu, who had just come out, immediately arrived by Ning Cheng’s side and spoke out in amazement. Shortly after that, she felt even more shocked to see the rankings of the three people accompanying Ning Cheng. She found that the four’s rankings were neither were very far apart nor were they low. Although the rankings of the four of them were not as high like her, it still stood out.
Ruan Mingshu did not pry into the matter; she affirmed that this matter was not simple as it looked on the surface. Moreover, she vaguely felt that this matter should have something to do with Ning Cheng. If that was the case, was it a good thing, or a bad thing?
Ning Cheng had never witnessed such a quick selection process. More than a million people filtered down to the top 10,000 in just a single day.
Moreover, the top-ranked cultivator was already close to the seventh level, while the 10,000th ranked cultivator had just reached the third level. Ning Cheng’s quartet now ranked somewhere around 3000, while Ruan Mingshu ranked in the upper half of the 500s.
Ning Cheng felt relieved at this, ranked in the 3000s and ranked in the top hundred were two entirely different concepts. Among the more than a million contestants, obtaining a ranking in the high hundreds would mean a lot of attention from all around.
Even the Orchid Borough Celestial River King looked very happy. A cultivator in the Celestial Scryer Realm reaching the seventh level in the 9-Step Obscure Array was indeed a remarkable feat.
He stood up and spoke, “I’ll personally give out the rewards for the top ten of our Orchid Borough Celestial River’s experts, the first place Helian Pengbo….”
The Orchid Borough Celestial River’s top thousand would receive a variety of rewards; however, only the top ten could enjoy the privilege of the Orchid Borough Celestial River King personally rewarding them.
Ning Cheng also paid particular attention to Helian Pengbo. This cultivator looked very young, with a medium-sized build and a slightly yellow complexion. However, this fellow had almost managed to enter the seventh level, resulting in such a high evaluation score. No wonder the Orchid Borough Celestial River King felt happy.
The awarding ceremony went even longer than the selections. At the same time, Ruan Mingshu, ranking in the top half of the 500s, also received significant rewards.
After the completion of the award ceremony, the Orchid Borough Celestial River King spoke up, “Three days from now, the top 10,000 will once again gather in the Orchid Borough Public Square, from where we will head to the Striking Order Starry Skies. This time, I will personally escort and lead the group…..”
“Now you can purchase the things you need freely.” Ning Cheng spoke to the Lan Ya trio. Even if that Celestial Lord Miao Pu obtained ten times the courage, he would not dare to make a move on Lan Ya.
These 10,000 selected contestants were the ones who would represent the Orchid Borough Celestial River, in other words, they were no different from Orchid Borough Celestial River King’s personally chosen candidates. If someone dared to make a move on any one of these 10,000 contestants, they would only be looking for death.
Shi Yulan and Lan Ya knew that there were many things left unsaid. However, even if they asked Ning Cheng, they felt that Ning Cheng would not say anything about it. As such, they chose not to talk about it. Saying their goodbyes to Ning Cheng, they immediately headed to buy the things that they needed. Although they had also signed up for the tryouts, they did not have much confidence in the examinations. Since they ended up selected now, they could not help but feel excited about it.
Jing Wuming patted Ning Cheng’s shoulder and was about to leave when he saw Ning Cheng’s expression suddenly change. Seeing that, Jing Wuming immediately stopped. Although he did not ask Ning Cheng about what happened, he also decided not to leave.
A moment later, Ning Cheng sent him a sound transmission, “The Orchid Borough Celestial River King’s Imperial Concubine Xuan Yu sent me a sound transmission, asking me to see her at the Revolving Jade Mountain tonight? Wonder what this is all about?”
Hearing Ning Cheng’s words, Jing Wuming’s face immediately changed. This was not a small matter, no matter what reason did Imperial Concubine Xuan Wu had for inviting Ning Cheng; it definitely was not a good thing. Once the Orchid Borough Celestial River King heard of this, Ning Cheng was as good as dead.
“Can you refuse?” Jing Wuming looked at Ning Cheng and carefully sent out a sound transmission.
Ning Cheng calmed down and tried to think about the reason why Imperial Concubine Xuan Wu sent him a sound transmission. Such a matter did not make any sense. He had no connection to the Imperial Concubine Xuan Wu at all; moreover, one was at the level of a Celestial River King while he was just a Celestial Novice Cultivator.
“I have to go, otherwise, not to mention heading to the Striking Order Starry Skies to participate in the tryouts, we might not even get out of the Revolving Jade City.” Ning Cheng sucked in a deep breath and sent a sound transmission to Jing Wuming.
Jing Wuming was also thinking of any way that led to a desirable solution; however, he had yet to come up with an idea. Without any hesitation, he spoke up, “I will come with you.”
Seeing Ning Cheng somewhat hesitate, Jing Wuming turned even more determined, “Us two brothers are brothers for life, death is just death. What is there to hesitate about? Let’s go!”
Ning Cheng nodded, “Good, let’s go together then.”
The Revolving Jade Mountain was one of the three mountains within the Revolving Jade City. Every inch within the Revolving Jade City was worth its weight in gold and full of bustle; however, it was a different matter when it came to this mountain, which sat right in the middle of the most bustling area of the city.
The Revolving Jade Mountain ignored this rule because it was where the Imperial Concubine Xuan Yu lived.
The two fellows, Ning Cheng and Jing Wuming, had walked all the way to the Revolving Jade Palace at the top of the Revolving Jade Mountain without anyone hindering them. From the looks of it, the people here had already received their orders from the Imperial Concubine Xuan Yu.
The more Ning Cheng tread forward, the more he could feel the starry skies’ Essence Qi growing in richness. The starry skies’ Essence Qi in this place was not only rich; it was also gentle, free from any traces of artificial gatherings.
This was a perfect place; Ning Cheng and Jing Wuming both gave out a sigh within their hearts.
“Ning Cheng, you are just a minor Celestial Novice Cultivator; yet, you have such huge courage.” A crisp and melodious womanly voice passed through Ning Cheng’s ears.
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