Riotous, feverish sentiment continued to grow. Unperturbed by the crowd around him, Jiang Chen became more cool-headed despite the heated atmosphere. He’d always followed his own heart and done things at his own tempo.
Rank and wealth weren’t why he’d decided to participate. A two million sky spirit stones stipend and a fancy title? None of that was of any consequence. His only goal was to get closer to the city lord manor so that he might grasp more vital information in order to escape Winterdraw. He had no desire to be involved in anything else.
After a long wait, the day of the selection finally arrived. It took place in a wide, spacious area.
The place was jam-packed with candidates, yet their numbers were dwarfed by the ocean of spectators.
The intense promotional campaign launched through various channels had raised the event to new heights and galvanized the entire city. It had been a great success and attracted many geniuses.
Standing in the candidate area, Jiang Chen stayed immersed in his own world, turning a deaf ear to the outside noise.
City Lord Xie Wushang appeared in a presiding tribune, accompanied by his advisors. Forbidding guards maintained the order, clad in their distinctive armor.
Cheers rose as soon as the crowd spotted him. He was rather popular in Sin City, and the spectators were delighted to witness his glory in person.
“City Lord Xie, City Lord Xie!” Wave after wave of jubilation crashed atop one another. With a slight smile, the city lord waved back.
A piercing glint shone in Jiang Chen’s eyes as he gazed at the city lord. The man wasn’t very tall, yet his average stature brimmed with the bearing unique to those with great authority. His aura immediately dominated the scene.
He can’t be much weaker than the Savages’ Forefather Bamboo.
Worthy of Myriad Abyss fame, the leader of a simple island of exile was as strong as the forefather of an entire tribe on Divine Abyss Continent. It was a sign of the enormous gap between the two areas in this respect.
Jiang Chen closed his eyes after stealing a quick glance.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please be quiet so I can say a few simple words.” The city lord gestured for silence with both his hands. As if petrified, the crowd turned deathly still. Not even loud breathing was audible. It was as if the myriad of people had become air.
Jiang Chen’s eyes narrowed. Xie Wushang had silenced the spectators with a simple hand gesture and one sentence, a sure sign of his considerable authority.
“Our city ranks as one of the three great powers on Winterdraw. Why is that so? Is it thanks to my individual strength?
“Of course not! I’m only doing my duty. You are our greatest boon and support. Nothing can stop us when we work as one! Today, as is our city’s wont, I’ve set high standards so the greatest talents may shine brightest! Isn’t that what we’re all here for?
“To all the young talents here today, I hope you can set aside all burden and display your gifts to the fullest! Remember that those qualified will become the city lord manor’s future pillars and will receive a treatment to match!”
Skilled as he was at agitating the masses, he’d inflamed the atmosphere with a short yet rousing speech. Many of participants were champing at the bit, eager to prove themselves.
Winterdraw boasted of a high population. Case in point, when Jiang Chen had first arrived on the island, the area had been extremely remote, yet still inhabited. And on top of the high population density, almost every local was a cultivator. That made for a high average cultivation level, leading to many prodigies being overlooked.
Today’s selection was a chance for these forgotten geniuses to shine and stand out.
There were many factions on the island, but none as celebrated as the three major ones. For any young prospects, joining the city lord manor would be a dream.
On Winterdraw, a faction’s backing was always desirable. Almost every lone soul who went it alone truly ended up becoming a departed soul, hence why today’s occasion had garnered such attention. For many, it was an occasion to turn their fortunes for the better.
“Alright, I don’t like to be long winded. You’re the stars today, so show me what you’ve got.” True to his word, he cut the speech short and left the rest to the supervisor.
Said supervisor proclaimed loudly, “Ladies and gentlemen, in the name of the city lord, I’ll be presiding over today’s selection. It will be split into qualifiers and an elite round. You can join the city lord’s banner as long as you pass the qualifiers, while those who pass the elite round will be granted a dignitary title and an annual salary of two million sky spirit stones.”
A qualifying round and an elite round? Were many going to be chosen then?
Sensing the crowd’s bafflement, the supervisor smiled. “Don’t think it’ll be easy simply because there are only two rounds. In fact, the first one alone will be a challenge. At a guess, less than five hundred will pass, and no more than ten will remain after the elite round.”
The crowd gasped. The elimination rate was too high! More than ten thousand had registered, yet no more than five hundred would qualify?
And no more than ten would successfully pass the elite examination?
Even Jiang Chen was surprised. But he immediately composed himself. Since the standards had been set so high this time, harsh trials were to be expected. On the contrary, a casual examination wouldn’t be worthy of a grand occasion.
“Alright, everyone please prepare yourselves. Remember, the elimination phase will start as soon as we begin. So I hope you’ve prepared yourselves properly. You only have yourselves to blame if you’re out,” the supervisor warned sternly.
“The first round is comprised of three different tests. The first is a martial trial of fighting. Failure means disqualification! As for the specifics, you’ll find out very soon.
“All of you have a registration number. You’ll form groups of one hundred based on your number. Remember to keep to the order. First group, number one to number one hundred. The others wait here!”
Jiang Chen’s number was three thousand something, so he had a while to wait. But he wasn’t anxious. He closed his eyes, patiently saving his energy. There was little pressure on him, especially after he’d seen the preconditions of participation. Empyrean realm cultivators and above were excluded.
He was confident no one under empyrean realm was his match. In fact, even first or second level empyrean didn’t scare him.
So the proceedings were a mere formality for him. If not, he should forget about going to the Eternal Divine Nation and just return to Veluriyam.
Xing Tong and her father were in the crowd. They’d arrived early in the morning, worried as they were for Jiang Chen. They were two spectators drowning in an ocean of people.
“Daddy, do you think Big Brother Jiang will succeed?” The anxiety in Xing Tong’s pure eyes betrayed her worries and innocent hope.
Xing Hui chuckled. “Of course he will.”
He was strangely confident in the young man. With his experience, he could see Jiang Chen was an uncommon man who would shock the crowd if he were to let loose his enormous power. The gentleman was certain to pass with flying colors despite the harsh requirements.
“That’s right, he will definitely succeed.” Her father’s reassurance renewed Xing Tong’s faith.
The first trial seemed to proceed very quickly. A group was called away every quarter hour. Jiang Chen’s turn came merely four hours later.
Along with his group, Jiang Chen followed the stewards to a restricted area. They soon arrived at a training field.
“Everyone, the first test will take place here. You’ll face numerous great emperor mechanical constructs with destructive power and sturdy defenses. You have to stay on your feet for a quarter hour. If you’re defeated, you’ve failed and will be sent away on the spot!
“Those who pass this test will be escorted to the second!”
It was a most primitive way to fight. The rules were simple enough. Of course, martial prowess wasn’t the only factor, but also personal judgment. The field would turn into a chaotic battlefield when everyone waded in, putting many aspects of a candidate to the test!