On a certain misty mountain.
Zhou Yuan was seated on the water and fire tempering dragon stage. His body was currently drenched in sweat as it faintly tembled without end. It was obvious that he had just endured another session of the fire and water Genesis Qi.
The fight with Wu Hai had long been thrown to the back of Zhou Yuan’s mind. He paid no attention to the ripples it caused, and instead buried himself in his training deep within the mountains.
The chief disciple selection was getting nearer and nearer, and he could no longer afford to relax.
Groaned Zhou Yuan. His body had grown much stronger after reaching the jade skin stage, causing the first level of water and fire Qi to become much less effective.
Hence, Zhou Yuan had gritted his teeth and moved straight to the second level.
Though the tempering effect would be more effective, the pain he had to endure would also far surpass the first level.
Zhou Yuan got to his feet with some difficulty, and leaped onto the cliff before falling back down on his butt.
However, he did not take a rest, but instead retrieved a mottled tree scale from his clothes. Rich Yimu Qi spread from it, causing him to feel a surge of energy.
The day before, he had managed to chop off over twenty more tree scales with old Xuan’s help. Due to the heavy consumption of vital energy during his body tempering sessions, the single Taiyi Green Wood Markk in Zhou Yuan’s body had been pretty exhausted by his recent training. If he did not replenish it, it would have likely disintegrated.
Without the Tiayi Green Wood Mark, Zhou Yuan obviously could no longer undergo such intense daily physical tempering. If that happened, his cultivation progress would slow to a crawl.
Zhou Yuan closed his eyes as the scale began to float between his palms. Strand after strand of dark green energy rose from it and streamed into his body.
Dark green specks of light glimmered faintly in his flesh, as a somewhat faded ancient pattern started absorbing the light, slowly recovering its shine.
Bit by bit, vigorous vital energy and life force surged once again in Zhou Yuan’s body.
His originally somewhat pale complexion gradually returned to a healthy red, while the intense pain from earlier also stealthily faded away...
Two hours later.
Zhou Yuan opened his eyes as the tree bark between his palms turned to dust. The Yimu Qi within it had already been completely absorbed.
As he felt the replenished vital energy in his body, Zhou Yuan spat out a deep breath.
“There’s only slightly over twenty days till the chief disciple selection.”
His eyes narrowed as a look of thought flitted across them. At his current strength, there was no longer any need to fear an opponent on the level of Wu Hai. Even so, it was still clearly not enough.
Because the most troublesome opponent was Yuan Hong.
In their brief encounter previously, Zhou Yuan had felt a dangerous aura from Yuan Hong. He was most definitely going to be the biggest obstacle in the upcoming selection.
Even though he had achieved the jade skin stage of the little Mythic Saint Body, it was still not enough according to Zhou Yuan’s estimates. He would only feel confident if he managed to progress in the little Mythic Saint Body again and reach the silver bone stage.
However, it clearly won’t be easy to reach the silver bone stage.
It was already amazing for him to have mastered the jade skin stage in a month, while the silver bone stage was obviously going to be a much higher mountain to climb.
In fact, even though he had raised the water and fire Genesis Qi to the second level, his bones still showed no indication of transforming.
While Zhou Yuan was lost in thought, old Xuan’s voice sounded from the side, “Kid, hurry up and continue training since you’re done resting, what are you wasting time?”
In the broken stone pavilion beside him, old Xuan was grinding leaf tobacco into powder between his fingers and pouring it into his pipe. He lit the pipe and puffed, causing smoke to rise, while his murky eyes seemed to pierce through the smoke and lazily look towards Zhou Yuan.
Zhou Yuan’s gaze faintly flickered in thought. A hint of struggle could be seen for a moment, before quickly being replaced by determination.
He raised his head, looked towards old Xuan and said, “Elder, I plan to raise the water and fire Qi to the third level.”
The old hand holding the pipe shook as rarely seen astonishment appeared in old Xuan’s eyes. “Do you not value your life? The second level is already very unbearable to your current self, and yet you still dare to challenge the third level?”
He stared at Zhou Yuan, under the impression that this was just some whimsical request. However, he was only met with Zhou Yuan’s determined gaze.
“Are you for real?” Old Xuan was a little in disbelief.
Challenging the third level was an act that required a tremendous amount of courage.
Zhou Yuan slowly nodded his head. Wasn’t all the tough training he had racked up over the past year for the sake of the impending chief disciple selection? If he failed, he would have no choice but to wait for next year...
But he clearly did not have that much time to wait.
Therefore, he needed to use the most extreme of methods to force out all of his latent potential… even if it would be rather cruel.
At the end of the day, one needed to have the courage to boldly advance on the path of cultivation.
Back then in the Great Zhou Empire, his eight meridian channels had not appeared, making it impossible for him to begin cultivation. At that time, if he had given up inside, there would not have been today.
He had not given up back then… and it was even more impossible for him to give up now.
Old Xuan pulled in a deep breath from his pipe. Smoke rose into the air as he stood up and looked at Zhou Yuan with a solemn expression. “Kid, the third level is a little too strong for the current you. If you insist on going through with this, you have to be prepared for a tremendous amount of pain.”
He placed extra emphasis on the words ‘tremendous amount of pain’, clearly trying to tell Zhou Yuan that this was not going to be child's play.
Zhou Yuan merely smiled in response. His figure moved, appearing on the stone stage, before looking straight at old Xuan. Zhou Yuan had already conveyed his answer through his actions.
Old Xuan was a little taken aback, as he gave a slight nod, while deep admiration seemed to surge out from the depths of his murky eyes.
The road of cultivation was filled with countless difficulties and obstacles, and would never be a smooth journey. He had seen amazingly talented geniuses over the years, but at times, willpower and courage were more important than any talent.
Old Xuan did not say anything else, merely gently waving the broom in his hand as a Genesis Qi ripple pulsed.
Moments later, the third scale on the two stone dragon heads gradually brightened.
The entire land seemed to shake at this moment as high temperature and intense cold quietly spread, filling half the horizon.
In the end, the two stone dragons opened their gigantic mouths as vast torrents of water and fire burst out.
On the stone stage, Zhou Yuan’s seated figure was instantly engulfed. Half of the stage turned burning red, while the other half was covered in frost.
At the same time, a desperately suppressed howl of pain hysterically rang out from the torrential water and fire.
An incense stick of time later.
When the water and fire torrents finally began to wane, old Xuan hastily cast his gaze over, only to find a figure emitting steam from every inch of his body. All of Zhou Yuan’s skin had split open, as if he had been badly flayed. It was an exceedingly pitiful and torturous sight.
However, his eyes were tenaciously kept open as a very faint breathing sound was emitted from his nose.
His expression was extremely tense, finally reaching his limit when the water and fire stopped, and his body fell from the stage.
He had evidently fallen unconscious.
A stream of Genesis Qi surged over, wrapping around Zhou Yuan’s falling body. It lifted him up and gently placed him on the edge of the cliff.
Old Xuan gazed at the unconscious Zhou Yuan. The former could see faint dark green patterns emerging from under his skin, pulsing with vital energy that sustained Zhou Yuan’s life force as his skin gradually began to heal at a rate that could be seen by the naked eye.
Old Xuan’s gaze seemed to penetrate through Zhou Yuan flesh and blood, seeing a sliver of silver light flash past.
Old Xuan wet his lips as he sighed inside, feeling a little admiration at the kid.
“What a crazy little lunatic…”
While Zhou Yuan began his crazed training on the water and fire tempering dragon stage, time quietly passed in the Cangxuan Sect as the date of the chief disciple selection grew ever nearer.
The atmosphere that had been brewing over the sect grew more and more volatile, as every gaze in the entire sect converged towards the most major yearly event.
The chief disciple selection was fast approaching.