After half a month, Wang Lu and Wen Bao (with thick faces) continued to live in the Ru Family Inn at ease, engaging in writing their report.
After many of her protests had gone invalid, the Lady Boss was too lazy to care anymore. Everyday, she just boiled them some radish cabbage to feed these two useless literati to fulfill her obligation as a teammate.
During this half a month, the other Spirit Sword Sect disciples gradually trickled up the mountain from all over the Blue River Region. And because the Spirit Creek Town was a transit point where people have to go through to get to the mountain, these disciples unavoidably bumped into each other.
Compared to one year ago, these returning disciples were like being reborn. Most people have followed the instruction manual issued by the Elders, gained rare experience, and subsequently, quickly matured. And after this year's rapid growth, the self-confidence of these disciples was also multiplied; when they greeted each other, it was hard for them not to show their edge, and thus produce a little bit of friction. Of course, in the foot of the Spirit Sword Mountain, they wouldn't resort to fighting. However, occasional quarrel when one of them would turn red face after being humiliated was inevitable. After all, almost everyone has their own rare adventure in the past year, thus the previous "pecking order" when they were still on the mountain has already long been shuffled. Therefore, it was a good time to determine the order again, to see who would submit to whom.
Spirit Sword Sect was not a hierarchical kind of place, however, each disciple would have a vague sense of where their position was, who was stronger than them, or who was weaker, and the corresponding attitude on how they should treat them… Almost all of them knew where their position was. Although the Spirit Sword Sect didn't advocate this, it was probably a concept that was already carved in Nine Region's people's bones and could not be reversed.
In the past half a month, Wang Lu had been watching the countless quarrels of these little brats with great interest.
Of course, this quarrel was nothing more than boasting and putting each other down. Some said they defeated a top level Foundation Establishment demon from a devil sect, and some said they killed a monster with an inner core… Some also said they were taken fancy by a Xudan Stage female cultivator and had a romance with her.
This story competition was really marvelous. Wang Lu himself just silently listened to them from inside the inn. On the other hand, Wen Bao, who was determined to write a unique and shocking-the-world report, tweaked his ears and scratched his cheek in delight, repeatedly sighing again and again as he listened to those stories, thinking that, sure enough, wisdom was within the people. While he let himself feel worried about how to write that ruthless mad tyrant story, unexpectedly, as he sipped tea in the Inn hall, he could hear those...
Of course, besides those quarrels, they also heard many stories about the other disciples' gain. After one year of experience, these disciples have also exchanged each other many information. For example, there were a Senior Brother and a Senior Sister who had a surprising adventure somewhere, making one feel ashamed of one's inferiority. There was also a Junior Brother who had nearly fell into a trap in the remains of an ancient tomb. Luckily, heaven helped the worthy, so he didn't fell and die prematurely...
The rest of their talk was filled with story comparison. Most of these disciples were bursting with self-confidence, thus they always looked unconvinced with other people's stories. However, as they kept hearing those stories, through the constant comparison between each others' stories, in time, they formed a consensus. Which was, in the past year, there were few amongst them whose gain were indeed far better than the others. In short, these were the exceptionals. Although the rest of them felt confident when compared against each other, they were sure that they have no chance of winning against these exceptionals.
For example, a certain Successor Disciple who were quietly working on his reports in the inn. Although he seemed friendly and looked like there was nothing special about him, moreover, he spent most of the time scribbling rapidly over the desk, however, somehow, as soon as one got a little closer to him, they would immediately feel that their breath has become stagnant, making it hard for them to gasp their breath, causing them to unconsciously lower their head.
Fortunately, these disciples have also gained a lot of insights in the past year. After discussing it among themselves, they drew a conclusion: this was the so-called leader temperament. In the previous year, many of them have seen high ranking people with similar makings such as Emperors, leaders of big sects and so on. Therefore, people began to make a guess on what kind of organization that Wang Lu did manage in the past year. However, no one could guess that before he returned to the mountain, Wang Lu already has millions of followers, and nearly the entire grassroots level in the Great Ming Country have fallen into his control.
Having a person with this kind of making, how could their cultivation level be compared to that? Let alone Wang Lu has always been known as the experiential learning expert. Whether his feat at that year in the Immortal Gathering, or later on when he broke the record in the Small Clear Sky Peak, all of these past achievements made people believe that in this past year's experiential learning, his harvest was absolutely enormous and likely to break the limit of people's imagination… Even though there was a controversy when he entered the mountain, in any case, he was now a genuine Successor Disciple; they, as the inner and outer court disciples, should not look for trouble on him.
However, even Wang Lu wasn't recognized as the first in the list of exceptionals by the other disciples.
"The first place should belong to Successor Disciple Liu Li."
In the past half a month, this was the sentence that Wang Lu heard the most.
As for why the girl nicknamed little Liu Li  has such an impressive achievement...
"Why? Because she single-handedly slew the twelve Blood Cloud Demons at the Blood Cloud Gorge. Those twelve demonic monsters were all peak Foundation Establishment, and some of them were even Xudan Stage characters. Yet, they were beaten by a young girl who nearly reached the Foundation Establishment Stage until they wail like ghosts and howl like wolves; they didn't even have the strength to fight back… It is said that even the Shengjing Sect was surprised by this battle."
"Yes, that's right. A few years ago, there was also a beautiful low-level Foundation Establishment female cultivator name Qiong Hua from the Shengjing Sect who was able to defeat her enemy, a Xudan Stage cultivator. Then, immensely proud of herself, she announced that result to the world, as if she was the leading figure among the young generation. But now, it seems like it was nothing."
"Alas, how exactly is a Foundation Establishment able to defeat a Xudan…"
While these disciples were talking, Wang Lu quietly listened to their conversation from the side with amusement.
He thought, "A mere Xudan, is there something to boast about that? My Wisdom Sect can easily send out several Xudan Stage Elders. When I slapped them because I found their work is not to my liking, who among them dared to defect to the other sect? They just sighed with emotion as they felt that they've received grace from their superior and then still continued to follow my order."
Nine Regions was too vast that even in the relatively remote Blue River Region, there were countless Qi Cultivating Stage and Foundation Establishment cultivators. The cultivators in this piece of land were too numerous, some of them have Heavenly Spirit Root, some Earthly Spirit Root, with various level of intelligence, perception, core cultivation method, and treasures… Even if two cultivators were in the same cultivation stage, their strengths could be ten times or hundred times different, there was simply no reference value.
For the same Xudan Stage, a Spirit Sword Sect's Xudan Stage disciple, even the most good-for-nothing one, could easily flatten more than ten Ye Chuchen! If nothing else, take a certain official Mu Xiao  for example. He was a standard Xudan Stage cultivator; his strength was neither strong nor weak, yet it was impossible for that Sheng Jing Sect's Foundation Establishment female cultivator to contend against him.
Cultivation stage could not be used to accurately represent the strength, however, apart from this, there was no other common standard that could succinctly determine the difference in the strength between cultivators. This problem existed widely in all of the discussions of the Spirit Sword Sect disciples; their quarrel over this often turned into chaos, such as...
"Last month, I defeated a high-level Foundation Establishment devil cultivator, what qualifications do you have to be so rampant in front of me?"
"What's so great about high-level Foundation Establishment? Junior Zhao Youxin and I collaborated to defeat four high-level Foundation Establishment cultivators, aren't we two times better than you?"
"The quality of your high-level Foundation Establishment is trash, yet you have the nerve to show it off? The one that I defeated is a famous devil cultivator!"
"My opponents are not weak. Even if their cultivation is slightly less, their magical tools are genuine goods at fair prices!"
"My devil cultivator opponent is not weak too…"
"Mine is two against four!"
"Nonsense, as long as we properly use our Spirit Sword Sect's Heaven and Earth Sword Array, not only our strength would be more than doubled, each of those crooked paths and sinister heart cultivators' strength would be less than one in ten, therefore, your so called two against four is actually only two against two times a fifth!"
"Less than one in ten your ass!"
Then the two sides' argument quickly turned from a debate to a personal attack. And when the personal attack was about to turn into a full blown fight, the Lady Boss picked them up by the collar and threw them out one by one.
After they desperately got up and came back, they found Wang Lu, who was sitting in the corner doing his report, stood up.
"The way I see it."
As soon as Wang Lu opened his mouth, the inn hall immediately quieted down. Although he was not the number one on the list of exceptionals, no doubt he was the most famous one at present, moreover, the makings of a leader in him also deterred people from being disobedient.
"Don't you guys think that you're stupid? Knowing perfectly well that cultivation stage is not reliable in measuring strength, yet every time you discuss who's stronger than who, you always use cultivation stage as the comparison."
Being questioned by Wang Lu, the other disciples suddenly didn't know how to answer. However, after a while, someone finally whispered, "What else could we use? Besides cultivation stage, other qualifications are even more unreliable; right now, there's simply no reasonable standard to measure strength."
Wang Lu grunted. "Idiot, if there's no standard, then create it, what's so difficult about it?"
The other disciples looked at each other, thinking that Wang Lu's suggestion was ingenious, but also absurd.
"H-How to create this standard?"
Wang Lu sighed, cast a despised look at the useless fellow who asked that question, then walked to the center of the hall, found a table, and took out a paper and pen.
"It's very easy. Let's set the standard value first."
"Standard value?" The disciples curiously asked as they quickly gathered around him.
Wang Lu nodded and then explained, "We first set a cultivator whose all aspects are mediocre and with the low cultivation stage. For example…"
Wang Lu said and then drew a little person on the paper.
The disciples wondered, "Who is this?"
"This is Xiao Ming."
"... Xiao Ming?"
"Xiao Ming is a common cultivator that you can find anywhere in the Immortal Cultivation World. His cultivation stage is level nine Foundation Establishment, his spirit root is seventh rank Triple Element Mix Spirit Root. He also has a low-rank Core Immortal Cultivation Method, three pieces of middle-rank magical tools, as well as ten low-rank elixirs… In general, this kind of cultivator is probably the most common in the Nine Regions, right?"
The nearby disciples talked a bit and nodded.
Indeed. Although Xiao Ming was quite poor compared with the disciples of the Spirit Sword Sect, these disciples, who have seen and been accustomed to the pain and difficulties of the common folks, have realized that poverty was a widespread condition in the Immortal Cultivation World. Although Xiao Ming looked down and out, there were actually a lot of people that were poorer than him. These cultivators barely reached the Foundation Establishment Stage and would, for their lifetime, remained there because of their poor spirit root quality. They were far from the young cultivator that Wang Lu drew on the paper. In addition, although middle-rank magical treasure was not uncommon, having three of them could already be considered as good, and possessing ten low-rank elixirs was more like the icing on the cake...
Wang Lu said, "We then set Xiao Ming as the standard for the level nine Foundation Establishment Cultivator. And then, we set another cultivator; for example, this is Xiao Gang."
With that, Wang Lu drew another person which was ninety percent similar to Xiao Ming.
"Xiao Gang is another common mediocre cultivator that can be found anywhere in the Nine Regions. However, he is different from Xiao Ming; in that he is level eight Foundation Establishment… As for his Core Cultivation Method and equipment, I'm not going to list them in detail; let's just say that they have the same basis. So, if Xiao Ming and Xiao Gang fight, basically, Xiao Gang has eighty percent chance of winning; we can agree to this, right?"
Although the difference in their level was just one, a seemingly small disparity, but since the other conditions remained constant, the difference in level became very noticeable. Taking into account various random factors, Xiao Gang would have eighty percent chance of winning.
Wang Lu smiled and then took up his pen and changed some of the information on top of Xiao Ming's picture. "Then let us assume that Xiao Ming doesn't posses middle-rank magical tools but high-rank magical tools. What would be the outcome then?"
The disciples, where this question was aimed at, froze for a moment. They then discussed among themselves, and the result of that discussion was...
"Then the odd is probably fifty-fifty."
Wang Lu nodded. "In other words, Xiao Ming, with a high-rank magical tool, have the qualification to challenge another cultivator with one cultivation level above him. Then…"
Wang Lu picked up his pen, wrote additional information on Xiao Ming's information box, which changed it into ninth Foundation Establishment + 1.
With that, Wang Lu put down the pen and then smiled. "This is the basic principle. I don't need to explain the rest of it, right?"
 Literal meaning is "Glazed Tile"
 See Chapter 46