While none dared to make a commotion, those who held the qualifications to participate became restless as they watched the incense stick burn.
When the incense stick burned halfway, Silvermoon saw that Han Li wore an aloof expression and couldn't help but ask, "Will Brother Han be participating?"
"Why wouldn't I? With the other disciples all stirring in excitement, it would draw quite a bit of attention if I didn't."
With that said, Silvermoon grew silent.
A short moment later, the incense stick had completely burned away and the mountain lord opened his eyes.
"Those that don't meet the conditions or are unwilling to join may now leave."
"As you bid, Martial Ancestor!" A majority of the present disciples then bowed and slowly left the hall.
Apart from the Foundation Establishment cultivators, there were only about forty young disciples left in the room.
When the middle-aged man examined the group, he nodded his head with satisfaction, "Good, all the disciples present fulfill the conditions. I am quite happy. Even if none of you are selected to participate, your horizons will be greatly widened as you fight against your Martial Brothers from the other mountains. It will provide great benefits to your future cultivation. Your Martial Uncle will now explain some important points about the competition. As for Martial Ancestor Yu and I, we have matters to attend to and will be departing first."
With that said, Mountain Lord Xin and Deputy Mountain Lord Yun departed from the hall.
With a sickly appearance, the youth surnamed Miao coughed several times before calmly speaking to the Qi Condensation cultivators, "Since the Mountain Lord has handed over this matter to me, please listen carefully, Martial Nephews. After all, this competition will be a test of skill against your fellow sect members and there are things that must be avoided."
"First of all, vicious and deadly techniques and magic tools are disallowed in the contest. Otherwise, you will be expelled from the sect and will have your cultivation scattered. Also..."
A quarter hour later, Han Li and the rest of the disciples in the hall walked out. Most of them flew off with expressions of excitement.
Han Li glanced at their departing figures and shook his head before taking to the skies and flying back to his cave residence. The journey back was smooth and uneventful.
Inside his cave residence, he began his preparations for the sect contest. Since he couldn't display too much power in his pursuit for one of the twenty-four positions, he had to make use of talismans and several magic tools that he hadn't touched in countless years.
Top grade magic tools were more than plentiful. He had plundered tens of them from the Core Formation cultivators that he had personally slain. But in order to draw less attention to himself, he had to carefully select only a few of them. And since he didn't intend on using these magic tools in the sect selection, he also began to refine large quantities of mid level elementary talismans. He planned on using these talismans to crush his low grade opponents in a single blow.
Of course, he wouldn't be able to make it through on talismans alone. Han Li especially refreshed his knowledge on the "Flame Handling Arts" he had acquired all those years ago from an old Daoist in the prince's mansion of the State of Yue . Although it wouldn't prove particularly useful to high grade cultivators, it will prove more than effective in duping Qi Condensation and Foundation Establishment cultivators.
When Han Li had first acquired the Flame Handling Arts all those years ago, he had gained many insights from it. But with his current cultivation as a late Core Formation cultivator, it had little value to him. As a result of only a few days of effort, he grasped the entirety of the methods of transforming flames. He had even acquired subtle understandings that exceeded what had been recorded in the Flame Handling Arts.
For the rest of these days, Han Li wholeheartedly spent his time refining various talismans.
During that time, his gold-silver Gold Devouring Beetles had already begun to cannibalize one another, much to his joy. He was sure that while the Gold Devouring Beetles were still far away from complete evolution, they were growing quite close to the legendary all-devouring stage.
However, the Weeping Soul Beast in the neighboring room was proving quite troublesome for Han Li. It had remained soundly asleep this entire time without any sign of awakening. Fortunately, with the Weeping Soul Pearl refined within his body, he knew that there was nothing wrong with the beast. However, he couldn't help but feel worried. After all, it was taking too long to complete its transformation....
A month later, the Drifting Cloud Sect's main mountain was bustling with exceptional liveliness. Cultivators began to unceasingly gather at the top of the mountain, with several thousands cultivators that came to observe the contest. It appeared everyone that was off duty had come.
While they weren't participating the battle, watching other cultivators battle in a contest of skill was a vastly enriching experience.
The contest was being held on three large, flat stages near the top of the mountain. Each of the stages were surrounded by spell formations over three hundred meters wide. They all raised a huge dome of light around the stage to prevent the spectators from receiving any injuries.
There were three late Foundation Establishment cultivators acting as judges to prevent any deaths from occuring.
The sect selection was now undergoing its third day. The past two days had resulted in many cultivators being sadly defeated.
In total, the selection contest was being conducted between five hundred cultivators. Although there were three stages to conduct battles, this process would take many days given the large number of participants.
That being said, the forty cultivators of Dayspring Mountain had been among the smaller factions. They paled in comparison to the number from Firecloud Mountain which had over a hundred disciples participating.
There were only four Foundation Establishment cultivators in the contest, but they weren't required to fight until the final round. Although they weren't among those that were chosen by the mountain lords, they had still managed to reach Foundation Establishment before the age of thirty. Since they were undoubtedly talented individuals, they would be given a position with just a single victory against a Qi Condensation cultivator.
At that moment, Han Li silently stood among several Dayspring Mountain cultivators. They were all watching a battle occur inside a light barrier between a cultivator of Dayspring Mountain and White Phoenix Mountain.
White Phoenix was a peculiar existence amongst the six mountains. Not only did the mountain have two female Core Formation mountain lords, they primarily relied on female disciples. As a result, their mountain possessed few disciples and only a dozen female cultivators were participating in the battle.
The Dayspring Mountain disciple that was fighting appeared somewhat aged, but he was actually in his late twenties. Although he was an external affair disciple, he was born in a reputable cultivation clan in the State of Xi. That was why he possessed a high grade magic tool of considerable power, a white gold dagger-axe. Although the young female cultivator from white Phoenix Mountain was being pushed back, her eyes were full of hope.
The Dayspring Mountain cultivators beside Han Li were clearly good friends with the male cultivator and cheered him on with excitement.
But just as the man's white dagger-axe was about to chop down, the woman raised her brow and shout a ball of azure light from her hand, blocking the white streak. The woman's body then blurred and she disappeared without a trace.
When the man saw this, he hurriedly formed an incantation seal with his hands as his expression vastly changed. Just as he thought to force back the woman with a magic technique, a red mist suddenly enveloped him from behind.
Then with a flop, the Dayspring Mountain disciple fell to the ground.
The lanky cultivator that was floating above the stage announced, "White Phoenix Mountain's Jin Rong is victorious."
When the female cultivator heard this, she respectfully saluted the judge and took out a small bottle from her storage pouch. After she placed it next to the nose of the unconscious cultivator, he began to slowly regain consciousness.
Once he realized what had happened, the Dayspring Mountain cultivator walked from the stage with a deep red expression. Afterwards, the female cultivator flew out from the spell formation with a proud appearance. The nearby female cultivators immediately surrounded her and showered her with praise, attracting the attention of a few nearby male cultivators.
Above the dome of light, the lanky cultivator expressionlessly announced, "The next battle will be between Dayspring Mountain's Han Li and Firecloud Mountain's Xun Tong!" Although his voice wasn't loud, the nearby cultivators heard him clearly.
When Han Li heard this, he smiled and slowly walked into the spell formation.
Not long after, a handsome, white-clothed cultivator entered from the other side. As soon as this person entered, an uproar was raised amongst the nearby spectators.
 In Chapter 294, Han Li acquired an interesting book from an old Qi Condensation cultivator that was surprisingly useful.