As the grand elder’s words echoed out, the clan members gathered by the shrine hall all looked on with thoughtful expressions. Apparently, a lot of consideration had been put into how this assessment would be carried out....
There was no set answer. Rather, each response would be based on each person’s varied experiences and skill sets in spirit enhancement. As such, it would be a true test of each individual’s level of enlightenment.
The question also touched upon matters of flame conjuring and soul medicine. Although the other two were different branches of study, one’s abilities in those regards would affect one's understanding of spirit enhancement. Therefore, although the question seemed simple, it was actually extraordinarily complex!
Furthermore, it was exactly as the grand elder had said; if one did not dare to contemplate certain matters, then it would be impossible to make them a reality. In some ways, his question actually pertained to each person’s Dao!
It wasn’t just the ordinary members of the Bai Clan who were suddenly looking very thoughtful. The clan elders and the clan chief all seemed to be pondering the question as well.
Even the representatives from the other two clans and the emissary from Giant Ghost City were all sitting there in quiet contemplation. Furthermore, from the nature of the question, it was possible to see that the grand elder from the Hall of Justice had extremely profound skill in spirit enhancement.
No one responded to the question. The area outside the stone gate was completely silent, to the point where it would have been possible to hear a pin drop. Everyone was considering the assessment question. This type of assessment was a custom during the ceremony of ancestral sacrifice in the Bai Clan. Theoretically speaking, the question was addressed to everyone, but the reality was that only a few people would actually speak up and answer it.
Usually, the chosen from any given bloodline would represent that bloodline to speak out in answer. As could be imagined, the competition between the various bloodlines in this matter was fierce.
Of course, the elders of the clan were aware of that, and actually encouraged the competition. As long as such competition was kept under control, it was a way to ensure that the blood of the clan pumped strong and hard in the veins of the clan members.
Bai Xiaochun rolled his eyes. To others, this question would be a difficult one to answer, especially because there was no way to prove whether one was right or wrong. But to Bai Xiaochun... it was far too simple.
After all, in the trial by fire in the labyrinth, he had personally performed spirit enhancements well beyond the twentyfold level. Although he hadn’t reached the thirtieth level, he had seen the clues pointing to the outcome.
Clearing his throat, he thought, “If I answer this question, it really would be cheating....”
Although he was itching to give a response and see what happened, he believed himself to be a straightforward and upright person. Furthermore, despite the fact that he could cheat if necessary, in this case, it wouldn’t be very helpful, and in fact, could cause more suspicion to be cast on him.
With such thoughts on his mind, he yawned and pretended that he wasn’t even listening.
After a long moment, the grand elder from the Hall of Justice looked around at the gathered members of the clan, smiled, and said, “Who would like to answer first?”
After a long moment of silence, one of the young men seated next to Bai Qi, who was also a member of the direct bloodline, rose to his feet with glittering eyes.
“Senior, I am Bai Li, and I wish to answer the question.” Instantly, all of the other clan members present looked over. When they identified who it was that had spoken, it was possible to see expressions of scorn, jealousy, coldness, and other various emotions.
As for the clan elders, some seemed bored, whereas others were nodding in encouragement. The clan chief gave a slight nod.
Bai Xiaochun looked at the young man out of the corner of his eye, curious as to what he would say.
Bai Li was very excited to be the center of so much attention, and was already glad he had spoken up first. At the least, he would garner a bit more attention from the Senior generation. Clearing his throat and putting a very solemn expression onto his face, he said, “Senior, based on my understanding, if you perform a thirtyfold spirit enhancement on that feather, it will most likely transform into a precious treasure. In fact, to call it a precious treasure would probably be an understatement!”
With that, the young man looked nervously at the grand elder from the Hall of Justice.
However, before the grand elder could even say anything, ripples of laughter spread out through the audience. Many shaking heads could be seen, as well as chuckles of scorn.
“What a load of garbage.”
“Even a complete moron could guess that an ordinary object that receives a thirtyfold spirit enhancement would become a precious treasure.”
A strange expression could be seen on Bai Xiaochun’s face as he looked at Bai Li. As for Bai Li, he could hear what people around him were saying, and the laughter, and immediately, his face turned scarlet.
“It was a brave thing to speak first,” said the grand elder, smiling. Instead of offering an assessment, he looked around and said, “Would anyone else like to give an answer?”
Bai Li sat down, looking extremely embarrassed. However, despite the fact that his answer had mostly been a cheap trick, his goal had been to get some attention, and from what he could tell, it had worked. When he thought about that, his mood perked up, and he even felt quite pleased.
Because Bai Li had dared to speak up, more of the clan members in the audience began to do the same.
“Grand Elder, I think that after performing a thirtyfold spirit enhancement on the feather, it would become enormous! It would probably be big enough to blot out the sun and the moon!”
“Grand Elder, my bet is that the feather would transform into a fan! A feathered fan that could rock heaven and earth!”
“Grand Elder, in my judgement, if that fan got a thirtyfold enhancement, it would probably become a feather sword that could dominate everything!”
“Not necessarily! Grand Elder, I think that the feathered fan would become a sealing mark that you could use to grow wings!”
Answers and explanations of all sorts filled the air. The clan elders smiled and listened, nodding occasionally, but mostly just sitting there quietly.
As for the grand elder from the Hall of Justice, his expression was the same as ever the entire time. He seemed to be pondering all of the answers given, but not taking any of them too seriously.
Bai Xiaochun, on the other hand, had to hold back from jumping in to correct people. Considering how amazing he was, this was an amazing opportunity to show off, which was one of his favorite pastimes. However, he suppressed that urge with every answer that he heard.
“I have to just bite my tongue,” he told himself. “There’s no point in jumping into the conversation. No point at all!” Eventually, one of the two rising stars of the clan, Bai Lei, shot to his feet.
Immediately, everyone went quiet, and all gazes came to be fixed upon him. Even Bai Qi looked over, his eyes narrowed.
The representatives from the other two clans and the emissary from Giant Ghost City were all aware of Bai Lei’s reputation in the clan, and were also very interested to see what he would say.
“Grand Elder, Junior isn't very skilled at spirit enhancement. Based on what I know, it’s hard for me to guess what a thirtyfold spirit enhanced feather would become. However, I can well imagine that after the thirtieth enhancement, the feather might become some sort of spirit. There are flame spirits and wood spirits in the world, so perhaps there are also feather spirits!” Bai Lei’s words caused many in the audience to look either shocked or moved.
The elders’ eyes glittered, and many smiles could be seen on their faces. As for the grand elder from the Hall of Justice, he actually nodded for the first time!
That nod provoked quite a response from the various members of the Bai Clan, and discussions immediately broke out in the crowd.
Bai Xiaochun looked over at Bai Lei curiously. Although the ‘feather spirit’ answer wasn’t completely correct, it was actually more in line with the truth than any of the other answers so far.
As the audience talked about what Bai Lei had just said, a few more clan members spoke up to give answers of their own. However, none of them could compare to Bai Lei’s, and many were obviously just variations of what he had said. The clan elders were all shrewd people, and realized this instantly.
Eventually, the fifth young lady rose, bowed, and then gave a simple answer that attracted a lot of attention.
“Grand Elder, I think... that it would become a rainbow. I know that feathers and rainbows aren’t necessarily related to each other, but I still think that a rainbow is the answer.” As she sat back down, the grand elder nodded, and for the first time, provided some feedback.
“Anything and everything is possible. Not a bad answer.” At this point, the grand elder’s eyes came to rest on Bai Qi. Clearly, he was curious what the number one chosen in the Bai Clan would say as his answer.
Actually, he wasn’t the only one looking at Bai Qi. The other clan elders, as well as many other ordinary clan members, were all waiting for his answer. Considering how many other people had spoken up so far, it was definitely time for him to speak.
Seeing how so many eyes had come to rest on him, Bai Qi smiled faintly and then rose to his feet. After bowing to the grand elder from the Hall of Justice, he looked up, eyes sparkling with the utmost self-confidence.
A proud gleam could be seen in Madam Cai’s eyes, and anticipation was even visible in the clan chief’s expression. From the soft look in the clan chief’s eyes, it was obvious that he viewed Bai Qi differently than the others.
“Fifth Junior Sis and Junior Brother Lei both provided part of the answer. Perhaps it was a bit misleading for me to wait so long to give my answer, I hope you can all forgive me. Spirit enhancement is one of the foundations of cultivation in the Wildlands, and can manifest countless variations. After a twentyfold enhancement, it would indeed be possible for the feather to become a rainbow or a feather spirit. However, there is more to a thirtyfold enhancement than that!” Bai Qi appeared to be in extremely high spirits, and seemed thoroughly captivating as he stood there, single-handedly surpassing all of the other clan members in his generation.
“It is impossible to say for sure what will happen after a thirtyfold enhancement. However, I am eighty percent sure that the feather will become a true, living bird, a phoenix that could dance in the highest heavens, the foremost among all birds in the world!”