Lu Yun was a slick and tactful man, especially when it came to tricky situations. He knew well that no matter the winner of the provincial seal, the other factions would find an excuse to complain and create conflict.
Because of this, he kept their opportunities to do so to a bare minimum throughout the competition. His duels had largely been friendly affairs, as free from bloodshed as possible. At the same time, he wouldn’t easily let off anyone who threatened his life, either.
Anyone interested in the identity of the old man in gray could find out by visiting the Skandha Range.
Although Lu Yun had conquered that place, in a sense, nobody would possibly believe that such an influential faction in the wider world would so easily obey him. Even Yuchi Hanxing, who’d witnessed it with her own eyes, was no exception. In her eyes, the Skandha Range had sworn fealty to the dragon princess, not Lu Yun. However, she was hardly going to spread rumors about it; the Skandha Range was too influential, and the dragon princess was too sensitive a topic.
The other immortals were content to take Lu Yun’s explanation as fact. He was still Dusk Province’s governor, at the moment, so there was no reason for him to lie in front of countless immortals from all over the world. The absence of Nephrite Major’s Lu Clan was evidence enough, in any case.
“I don’t think there’s a need for a hundred wins.” A spear-wielding youth in silver armor rose into the air. “You’re extraordinarily strong, senior brother Lu. Despite your origin core cultivation, you clearly have immeasurable potential. The rest of these ants aren’t qualified to challenge you.”
“That’s Wu Tulong from the Enlightened Major’s Immortal Martial School!”
“The cultivator who can beat a dao immortal?”
There was a small commotion as soon as he showed himself. Wu Tulong was a common household name; his defeat of a dao immortal had shown that he had more potential than his opponent. As such, he was often acclaimed as the future celestial emperor of his major.
“Most cultivators here are ploddingly mundane. Fighting them is a waste of senior brother’s time.” Wu Tulong ignored his fans below, the silver armor he wore glittering nobly under the sun.
“Well said, senior brother Wu. The weak here can’t touch senior brother Lu unless they conspire to tire him out.” Another youth flew up. His hair and robes were both the purest white and he flared with fighting spirit.
“Dongfang Hao of the Primus Major. Well met, senior brother Lu.”
“Dongfang Hao is here too! Another prodigious genius has shown himself!” Another disturbance rustled through the crowd. They simply couldn’t understand what these geniuses wanted to do.
“Zi Chen of the Thundergale Major. Greetings, senior brother Lu!”
“Mo Qitian of Lazuli Major!” Two more youths flew to the stage, standing at the four corners of the Coretrial Arena with Dongfang Hao and Wu Tulong. Lu Yun remained in the center, surrounded.
The five youths shone with confidence and poise, naturally drawing the eyes of the rest. They stood like five sovereigns, loftily surveying the rest of creation from their magnificent thrones.
Wu Tulong, Dongfang Hao, Zi Chen, Mo Qitian, and Lu Yun. Together, this quintet exuded a collective aura that imparted a sense of humility to almost every other cultivator present, taking away their courage to ascend to the stage.
“Shall we challenge senior brother Lu in place of the useless masses? Forget about the hundred wins. If you can win against us four, you deserve the ancient lord’s heritage!” Dongfang Hao called out.
“I’d like to correct you just a little, senior brother Dongfang.” Lu Yun saluted the four youths, then rose into the air himself. “This competition was arranged by His Majesty the Celestial Emperor of Nephrite Immortal. The ancient lord’s heritage isn’t the focus—gathering the heroes of the realm is. Only by trading exchanges with each other can we improve ourselves and find a brighter future for our world!”
Carrying himself with confidence, he addressed his audience with sonorous speech. “A hundred thousand years ago, a great war between the ancient immortals cut off the path of cultivation itself. Our forebears were indeed powerful, but they have been discarded by time and progress!”
“The ancient lord and his heritage are dead, but everyone here is very much alive!” His words stunned the listeners below. “Elites from a hundred factions are gathered here today, the best the world has to offer. The collective wisdom is far greater than any one of us can muster alone.
“There’s always something we can learn from one another. There are no weak cultivators, only weak wills! If we, as cultivators, become strong, so does our world—the world of immortals! Competing here will help many, many of you realize your talents and unlock your potential. Truly, that’s the most valuable part of all of this.”
As Lu Yun’s words sounded out, a great stream of goodwill came rushing from every direction, gathering in his body.
Viridian light glittered upon the Sal Tree of Life and Death and powerful internal energy spun around within him with almost transformative speed.
There was something holding it back, but he would surely reach the nascent spirit realm upon leaving the Coretrial Arena. The tree’s sprout was about the size of his palm now.
“The Dusk governor is very much correct. The ancient lord and his heritage are dead, but we cultivators are alive! There’s no reason we should automatically think our wisdom is inferior to the ancients!” Qing Han was the first to add his opinion and his crisp voice echoed through the air.
“All of you have the right to fight me, and in doing so, teach me as well!” Lu Yun continued.
“Well said! We can always learn from one another.” The hearts of the other four youths trembled as they looked at Lu Yun. Dongfang Hao was the first to incline his head. “We cannot match your great heart, senior brother Lu. Nevertheless, we shall certainly not fall behind your example!”
A heroic air suddenly gripped Mo Qitian and he announced, “Come, fetch the Mo Clan’s Lifetrial Arena. Today, I shall accept any and all challenges from the heroes of the world!”
Much like the Coretrial Arena sealed a cultivator to the core realm, a Lifetrial Arena limited its entrants to the qi realm.
Cheering broke out among the assembly. As one of the brightest geniuses in the world of immortals, Mo Qitian was of the same caliber as Wu Tulong. Having the chance to fight him would be an excellent learning experience, even if the challenger lost.
Moreover, Lu Yun had clearly said just now that this was to be instructional sparring, a communication between cultivators.
The hostility seething around the arena shifted away. Innumerable cultivators sized each other up for friendly matches and traded experiences with one another. A lot of them had come here to do that in the first place anyway.
“Sounds nice enough, but the ancient lord’s heritage is still yours in the end,” a discordant voice cut through the harmony.
Lu Yun’s momentum was poised to garner the goodwill of cultivators from all over the world. That was a very bad thing for the Exalted Immortal Sect. Therefore, Zhao Tiefeng was forced to interject, despite his discomfort.
“Your own pettiness prevents you from seeing the kindness of others!” Crown Prince Zhao Changkong stood up before Lu Yun could reply. “If Nephrite Major really wanted to keep the heritage to ourselves, we would’ve taken it long ago. None of you would even be sitting here!”
The Nephrite crown prince finally understood his father’s true intentions.
After the fall of the ancient immortals a hundred thousand years ago, the new world had flourished for eighty millennia, yet, for all its archaeology, it had barely developed beyond the ancients.
The peak of the dao immortal realm remained the strongest level one could attain. No one had yet been able to enter a higher realm.
One of the fundamental reasons for this was the various factions’ insular natures. Thus, the Nephrite celestial emperor had taken this opportunity to break down the walls between them.
“No wonder father set his sights on Lu Yun. Their styles are very similar!” Zhao Changkong murmured to himself.