"So this is the royal sacred ground. Rumor has it that the ones who can't become the emperor or the king aren't allowed to participate in the court. The majority would be banished here to excavate the place." The seventh prince was the oldest but he has never been here before. He had only heard of certain things about it.
Four white eagles flew by with wings spanning for more than ten meters. They brought the four towards the closest continent of the royal clan.
"Boom!" The eagles rushed through invisible walls on the sky of this continent.
The initially empty world has just gotten excited.
Dangerous mountain ranges filled the place with an illusory sea of clouds. Among the majestic peaks and ravines were echoing bells, as if this was the dwelling of immortals.
Certain peaks were up in the clouds with gold-cladded palaces on top and connecting bridges. One could suddenly see a beautiful girl dressed in an immortal robe riding her flying sword and disappearing into the horizon.
This was a great spectacle. The princes who were here the first time became quite shocked.
It was one of the continents excavated by the royal clan, named "Dragon King's Third Continent."
Just like its name, it was the third excavated by the clan for two thousand years now. The entire place was surrounded by a grand formation. It had its own oceans and lakes with vegetation and wild beasts. There was also a prenatal spirit vein underground, producing thicker spirit energy than the outside world.
An old man was riding on a cloud with golden boots; his robe had the same dazzling color. He landed on the highest peak of this continent and looked at the four approaching eagles. He swept his sleeve and a red wave came over. The four suddenly disappeared from the eagles' back and turned up again in front of the old man.
"This is the royal sacred ground, Dragon King's Third Continent, the place where the old sages of the royal clan researched the holy techniques such as the Dragon King's Saber Art, Extreme Agility, Nine Reincarnation Cycles Destruction, and others... The majority of the supreme arts and secrets from the clan were created here and tested by many before confirming their value. Next, they would be recorded down for future generations."
This old man brought the four down from the mountain. They went inside an old path with steps. There were carvings on the walls of mysterious and secret laws of the royal clan on top of supreme techniques of the other sects.
Feiyun looked up and saw the training method of the first three slashes of the Dragon King's Saber Art. Later on, he saw the research process of the fourth and fifth slashes as well. They were different from his current version.
The one he had was perfected without any potential backlash. The ones on these walls were full of holes. Cultivating them could result in physical harm.
"In order to become the Divine King, one must have higher comprehension and intelligence than ordinary people." The old man stopped and said: "Thus, your first examination will be one of comprehension and intelligence. This path spans for three hundred miles with countless merit laws carved on the walls. However, they are incomplete and dangerous, potentially causing qi deviation, loss of lifespan, or even the destruction of the dantian."
"All of you need to pick one among these merit laws and within three days, find the flaws within and improve it, making it into a correct cultivation method. Speed and quality matter for points. I will send the exact rules into your mind."
The old man sent four golden rays into their forehead. The rules appeared in their mind.
The first round of examination: Intelligence and comprehension.
Three steps in total.
The first, picking an uncultivated law on the path and fix it in the fastest time. Hand the new version over to a testing ancestor. If given a green light, move on to the next step.
Second, find a youth with no experience in cultivating, can't be older than ten. Pass down this merit law to him. This is also a test of one's vision to find good cultivators. The more talented, the greater the cultivation speed.
The third step, bring the youths back to the mountain for a competition. The one who trained the strongest youth will be the winner.
It is a comprehensive examination, testing everything within three days.
"Begins, don't waste time." The old man stared at the four youths. Though they were all prodigies, he didn't think that any of them could perfect a merit law in just three days.
Every several hundred years or so, the dynasty would pick a new successor for the Divine King's position. However, the majority of the candidates could only complete the first step within three days. No one had enough time to do the second and third step. Thus, normally, the decision was made with the achievement in the first step.
So normally, only one's "comprehension" and "intelligence" were tested.
Feiyun used his Swift Samsara to look through the ancient path.
"I have trained in the Dragon King's Saber Art and surely this is well known by the examiners, I can't pick it again. In order to make my disciple strong, I must pick out a powerful merit law, the strongest of them all. With my closeness to the heavenly dao, I will only need half a day at most to fix the flaws." Feiyun thought to himself.
He was completely confident that he had a greater advantage than the other three princes. Thus, he wasn't in a rush to pick a merit law, only wanting the strongest one.
After two hours, he finally found one that exceeded the Dragon King's Saber Art.
This was a heavenly scripture that more than ten ancestors of the clan spent hundreds of years on. In the end, they only got a preliminary sketch with one simple framework.
In order to perfect this merit law, several tens of thousand subjects died. Their body all exploded after cultivating it. Ultimately, they couldn't fix the downsides of this merit law and had to give up.
Its name was "Devil Art Of Death."
The devil art had been extinct in the Jin Dynasty but the royal clan managed to save three old, incomplete scriptures. The Devil Art of Death was derived from these three incomplete texts.
The ancestors were certain that the extreme limits of the body would come before death. This would be an extraordinary strength.
The fundamental belief was - from death comes life for extreme sorrow shall turn to joy.
This was the basis of the Devil Art Of Death. After the cultivator died once, their strength would increase by countless times. The second death would boost this even more.
The one that grasps the power of death shall be the strongest in this world.
Alas, it didn't work this way in reality. The cultivators training in this technique indeed died during the process. Some woke up from death with extraordinary power. However, the moment they channeled their death energy in a fight, their body would instantly explode.
Because of this, the royal ancestors gave up on researching this method and focused on the Nine Reincarnation Cycles Destruction and Dragon King's Saber Art instead. Alas, these methods were far weaker in terms of power.
Feiyun also became interested in this death art because it was similar to a phoenix's rebirth, just a different path. Perhaps one could start with the logic behind a phoenix's rebirth to find a breakthrough.
"I have perfected the Boneshift Profound Power to its limit, please have a look, ancestor."
However, when Feiyun finished selecting his technique, the seventy-second prince had already found and perfected one.
Only two hours have passed.
Even if Feiyun's closeness with the heavenly dao was ten thousand times better than them, he couldn't guarantee perfecting a profound art in just two hours. Of course, this would be another story if he still had the cultivation of a demon phoenix clan master. He would have the capabilities to instantly understand the mysteries of a merit law.
The Boneshift Profound Power was slightly inferior to the Dragon King's Saber Art but it was still a top-level merit law. With his current cultivation, Feiyun still couldn't fix it within two hours. He needed to derive and analyze it for a while before finding and fixing the flaws.
It was impossible for the seventy-second prince to have a stronger comprehension of the dao than him.
There was only one possible explanation - he had already known the content of the first examination. Someone else had helped him fix this merit law; he only needed to memorize it.
"Amazing, you are indeed a dragon among men. The royal clan shall rise again, just needing two hours to nearly perfect this art. There are still three minors flaws but they do not affect cultivation." The golden-robed old man was moved.
The prince humbly bowed in response: "Tianhan is foolish, it is all because the ancestors knew how to teach." [Ref] His name is Tianhan[/ref]
He was sneering in his mind, 'I got the Grand Chancellor backing me up. His Excellency has already given me the Boneshift Profound Power a month ago for this examination.'
"I have fixed the Grand Universe Palm to the limit, please have a read, ancestor." The seventh prince was right behind him.
"I have fixed the Thunderbolt Art, please have a read, ancestor." The eighteenth prince also handed over a newly-written scroll.
The old man was completely astonished. These candidates have quite a frightening comprehension, finishing the first step in just two hours. They could now leave the mountain to find a disciple.
On the other hand, the highly-praised Feng Feiyun, the rumored best prodigy in the dynasty, had only found a merit law. He was far behind these princes.