Another month passed, and Bruiser’s behavior only continued to get worse. The male disciples that had provoked Bai Xiaochun in the past were all going crazy, and yet, were completely incapable of doing anything about the situation.
That was around the time that Bai Xiaochun’s cultivation base eventually entered the great circle of the tenth level of Qi Condensation. Apparently, he had reached a barrier that would be very difficult to pass.
“The only thing left is Foundation Establishment!” he thought, taking a deep breath, his eyes shining with anticipation. Foundation Establishment was divided into a few different types: Mortalstring, Earthstring, and the legendary Heavenstring, all of which added different amounts of longevity, to be specific, 100 years, 200 years, and 500 years respectively.
Bai Xiaochun had never even considered the possibility of reaching Heavenstring Foundation Establishment, considering there was almost no chance of it happening. In the entire 10,000 year history of the Spirit Stream Sect, only a handful of people had ever reached Heavenstring Foundation Establishment, and had only done so by randomly acquiring some heavenstring energy.
“Generally speaking, most people reach Mortalstring, which requires a Foundation Establishment Pill. Earthstring Foundation Establishment requires earthstring energy…. Of course, even Earthstring Foundation Establishment is divided up into strong and weak. It all depends on the very moment of reaching Foundation Establishment, and how many Tideflows occur within one’s spiritual sea! At the very least there will be one, and at the most, nine!
“And then there’s my fleshly body power. I’m already at the point of being able to make contact with the first shackle. Whether I make a breakthrough with my Undying Gold Skin, or use the power of the Dragon Mammoth Sea-Forming Scripture, I should be able to break through that shackle. If I break through with both of those methods, who knows how powerful I’ll be!?” From what Bai Xiaochun remembered, Foundation Establishment Pills could be purchased with merit points from the sect. They came at a hefty price, but considering how much he had saved up, he could afford them if he wanted. But he wasn’t willing to do such a thing. After all, Mortalstring Foundation Establishment, also known as Mortal-Dao, only added 100 years of longevity.
After some more thought, Bai Xiaochun produced a transmission jade slip and then sent a message to Li Qinghou asking for some more information about earthstring energy.
It didn’t take long before the jade slip lit up with soft light as Li Qinghou returned his message. Bai Xiaochun immediately sent some spiritual power into the jade slip, whereupon Li Qinghou’s voice began to echo in his mind.
“I’d originally planned to wait a bit longer before telling you this, but in three months, 150 people from the north bank and 100 people from the south bank, all of them Inner Sect disciples in the tenth level of Qi Condensation, will gather at the grand hall on Mount Daoseed.
“The reason is that the three Foundation Establishment Holy Lands will be opened. As for you, you will be going to the Fallen Sword Abyss, where you will compete with everyone else to acquire earthstring energy, and then use it to reach Earthstring Foundation Establishment. If you succeed, you will acquire an additional 200 years of longevity. That will be a major step for you as you pursue your dream of living forever!”
A tremor ran through Bai Xiaochun as he looked at the jade slip, panting.
“Earthstring Foundation Establishment can add 200 years of longevity!!” His eyes glittered with longing for a moment, but then he hesitated. “Competing with everyone else will definitely involve fierce fighting….
“But that’s 200 years we’re talking about!” He continued to struggle with the matter, his obsession with being able to live forever causing his eyes to rapidly become bloodshot.
Bai Xiaochun wasn’t the only Chosen to be given advance notice about what was to come, so soon, the news about the three Foundation Establishment Holy Lands being opened spread throughout the north and south banks.
The three Foundation Establishment Holy Lands were the Fallen Sword Abyss, the Lone Hell Pocket Realm, and the Primordial Spirit Hollow. Once per sixty-year-cycle, they would be simultaneously opened, and that time was now at hand.
Of course, the Spirit Stream Sect wasn’t the only sect qualified to send people into the three Holy Lands. All four of the strongest sects in the cultivation world of the eastern Lower Reaches would send disciples. The Spirit Stream Sect was only one of those four major sects.
The Fallen Sword Abyss was considered the best of the three Holy Lands, with the Lone Hell Pocket Realm and the Primordial Spirit Hollow being secondary. The reason for the Holy Lands being ranked in that way was that, according to the legends, the Fallen Sword Abyss contained a strand of heavenstring energy.
These legends had been around for a long time, but on all the occasions in which the Fallen Sword Abyss had been opened, never once had anyone acquired any heavenstring energy.
The competition for earthstring energy would be a blood-soaked fight in which only the fittest survived!
The discussions about the three Foundation Establishment Holy Lands spread far and wide on both the north and south banks. All of the Inner Sect disciples in the tenth level of Qi Condensation were talking about it with complete and utter excitement.
“It’s definitely going to be bloody carnage in there. Of the people who qualify to compete for Earthstring Foundation Establishment, quite a few die…. By the way, I heard that for the first time, the four sects are all going to be formally competing against each other. The number of people from a given sect who succeed in reaching Earthstring Foundation Establishment will affect how many people get sent in the next time.”
“Ah, this isn’t fair! The difference between Mortalstring and Earthstring is huge. Earthstring Foundation Establishment can totally crush Mortalstring. They’re on completely different levels.”
Of course, there were some who got nervous because of the stories about the violent and bloody fighting which went on inside. Some of them prefered the safety of Mortal-Dao Foundation Establishment over the additional hundreds of years of longevity, and the glory of being able to crush people below them.
Three months later at dawn, the solemn tolling of bells could be heard on Mount Daoseed. The seven peak lords of the mountain peaks flew through the air with dignified expressions on their faces, each one of them followed by dozens of disciples.
Everywhere else in the sect, disciples looked up to watch the people flying through the air toward Mount Daoseed. All of those people were so well-known that the other disciples could identify them by name.
From the north bank came Beihan Lie, Xu Song, Gongsun Wan’er, Beihan Feng, Gongsun Yun, and in the lead position, surrounded by swirling black mist, Ghostfang….
A similar scene could be seen on the south bank, as the disciples of Green Crest Peak, Fragrant Cloud Peak, and Violet Cauldron Peak all looked excitedly up into the air. Xu Baocai was among them, eagerly clutching a notebook to record everything that was happening.
Shangguan Tianyou was clearly more powerful than he had been in the past. He looked like an unsheathed sword, glittering with blinding light as he flew along. Zhou Xinqi was surrounded by a swirling blue glow and a powerful life force.
There was also Lu Tianlei, who was like a thunderbolt that could rip apart the heavens. In addition to them were other long time Inner Sect disciples, all of whom wore solemn expressions as they followed the three south bank peak lords.
The elders of both banks, as well as other qualified disciples, were all discussing the matter.
“The north bank gets 150 people and the south bank gets 100. I wonder how many of them will rise to the top in the fighting with the other three sects, and eventually reach Earthstring Foundation Establishment? Of course, some of them will never return…. The path of cultivation is soaked with blood, and is ruled by the law of the jungle.”
“I heard one of the Senior members of my clan say that whenever the three Foundation Establishment Holy Lands are opened, there’s always blood and carnage. To some people, the main point isn’t reaching Foundation Establishment, it’s killing the members of the other three sects. It’s like a war between the Four Great Sects that comes around once every sixty-year-cycle!”
“But why are we just sending our Chosen to be killed? I know that earthstring energy can’t be stored up and used later, but Mortal-Dao Foundation Establishment is so much safer. It might be weaker, but at least there wouldn’t be so many deaths….”
“Hmph. If you have one generation filled with weaklings, then everyone after them will also be weaklings. If that happened, the Spirit Stream Sect would definitely be wiped out sooner or later!”
“None of the Four Great Sects will avoid the fighting, not as long as they have even one disciple who they think can reach Earthstring Foundation Establishment. If one generation of disciples is weak, then the sect’s power in the area will weaken, and outer forces would become a big threat. It would cause a huge headache!”
“A perfect example is the Pill Stream Sect. Long ago, they avoided the fighting three times in a row. But then their overall battle prowess dropped. After that, powerful warlords rose up in the sect’s territory and started establishing their own little fiefdoms. Our Spirit Stream Sect even managed to occupy about twenty percent of their former territory. Their hand was forced, and after joining the fighting again, they managed to get some Earthstring Foundation Establishment disciples. Of course, a lot of other disciples died in the process, but at least they were able to get things back to the status quo.”
Soon, the disciples from both banks were landing outside the grand hall on Mount Daoseed, led by their respective peak lords. Everyone had very solemn expressions on their faces.
All of the disciples were aware that their next destination would be one filled with both opportunity, and bloodshed!
They looked around at each other, measuring each other up. Soon, everyone was shocked to find that one certain person was missing.
“Bai Xiaochun isn’t coming?”
They weren’t the only ones to be surprised. The seven peak lords stood there thoughtfully, looking in the direction of the Beast Conservatory on the north bank. Li Qinghou’s expression was the same as ever. He was confident in his analysis of Bai Xiaochun, and was sure that although he was naughty, mischievous, and fearful of death, his obsession with living forever would win out in the end.
In the Beast Conservatory, Bai Xiaochun sat there listening to the bells ringing. After a long moment of thought, he gritted his teeth and rose to his feet. During the past three months, he had focused completely on cultivation. He had spent massive amounts of merit points to get over a thousand paper amulets, leaving him armed to the teeth. He had also worked hard to achieve a breakthrough with his Undying Silver Skin; unfortunately, although he made some progress, he never achieved the breakthrough.
His bags were packed, and he was ready to go. He refused to allow Bruiser to come along, as he wasn’t ready for such an event. Stepping onto the Golden Crow Sword, he shot through the air toward Mount Daoseed. On the way, he stopped by the Spirit Stone Pavilion, where he spent some more merit points on earthflame crystals, which he could use as a substitute for actual earthflame, and be able to concoct medicine anywhere he wanted.
At the moment, his eyes were completely bloodshot. Although he had made his decision quite some time ago, he always liked to be absolutely prepared. Therefore, he had spent a lot of time pouring through the ancient records, and had learned about how brutal and bloody the Foundation Establishment Holy Lands were. He also knew that it was a chance for the sects to show off their might to the others.
The more he came to understand the whole thing, the more his heart trembled. That was especially true when he read about how 800 years ago, only about ten disciples returned to the Spirit Stream Sect from the Fallen Sword Abyss. The brutality of that event left Bai Xiaochun completely shaken.
Of course, that was an isolated incident. According to the records, the barbarity of that instance 800 years in the past was because a terrifying Chosen rose up from the Blood Stream Sect. He was known as Master Limitless, and he crushed everything in his path. It wasn’t just the Spirit Stream Sect who suffered heavy casualties; all of the other three sects did. Virtually all of the disciples of that generation in the other three sects were wiped out, and that was how the Blood Stream Sect had surpassed the Profound Stream Sect to become the top force among the Four Great Sects.
As for that Master Limitless, he was now known as Patriarch Limitless of the Blood Stream Sect.
On the other occasions in which the three Foundation Establishment Holy Lands were opened, the casualties weren’t so horrific. At the very most, half of the disciples might die. Even for those who didn’t reach Earthstring Foundation Establishment, as long as they were careful, it was possible to make it out alive.
Even still, a casualty rate of fifty percent left Bai Xiaochun shaking in fear. He really wanted to pass up the opportunity, and simply settle for the safe bet of Mortal-Dao Foundation Establishment and its extra hundred years of longevity.
However, his dream was not to live for an extra hundred years. He wanted… to live forever!!
“I want more than a hundred years. I want forever!” After looking through the ancient records, he left with bloodshot eyes, even more clear about how Foundation Establishment worked. The most telling factor was that from ancient times until now, not a single Mortal-Dao Foundation Establishment cultivator had ever reached the Gold Core stage!
If he wanted to cultivate all the way to Gold Core, he had to reach Earthstring Foundation Establishment!
Even the lowest level of the Gold Core stage added far more longevity than Foundation Establishment. Obviously, the higher one’s cultivation base, the greater one’s chances of living forever.
“I could avoid this situation, but a hundred years later… how could I possibly avoid dying? At that time, wouldn’t I regret not taking the chance to reach Earthstring Foundation Establishment?” During the past three months, Bai Xiaochun had wrestled with the problem over and over again. In the end, he reached a state of bedeviled madness. Gritting his teeth, he finally made his decision.
“I’ll do anything to be able to live forever!!” he shouted as he stepped onto the Golden Crow Sword and shot toward Mount Daoseed. Shortly after the other disciples converged, he appeared.