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"Elder Gu, I haven't been in the Eternal Sacred Land for long, so please excuse my potential coarseness and ineptitude in advance. I would appreciate your guidance in many things, and I'm here to seek it today. I was wondering if you could teach me about the contribution points system?" Jiang Chen responded to the politeness shown with courtesy in kind.

"Hahaha, young man! I don't know what the others think, but I for one find your victory over the Nine Winding Caves respectably significant. We cultivators have no need to hide our prowess. This goes double for youngsters like you! If you have a hundred percent talent, why show only fifty or sixty of it? There's no need for that at all! Well done on the caves."

Gu Yunjin chuckled before continuing. "I suppose that's past us now. Let's talk about how the contribution points work. If the venerated forefather has orders to assist, what can I do but obey?"

In Eternal Sacred Land, the first prime was the supreme leader. Her orders were not to be defied. Meanwhile, the venerated forefather was the faction's psychological support and sole divine cultivator. His will was even more inviolate.

Gu Yunjin gave Jiang Chen plenty of face by going on a personal tour. With Ziju Min's accompaniment, the elder introduced the Hall of Merit's details to the young man.

The Hall of Merit was the place where every faction member's contribution was tallied, both income and expenditure. It set the standards thereof almost entirely by itself. Aside from the venerated forefather and the three primes, everyone else received a report of their contribution points at year-end.

Anyone who failed to meet his quota for three years in a row was at risk of demotion. For example, an upper elder may very well be demoted to a lower elder. Similarly, a personal disciple may be downgraded to a core one. Core disciples would be bumped down to normal disciples.

The contribution system prevented laziness by pushing everyone forward. No unproductive people could exist here.

Jiang Chen actually appreciated a system like this quite a bit. It guaranteed that the Eternal Sacred Land would always brim with vigor. Each person's contribution score would be display whether he had done poorly or well.

Moreover, demotion occurred only when the target was not reached for several years in a row. This mitigated the possibility that someone would be affected by an unlucky year in particular.

"In the lower area, the contribution scores vary between one and five hundred. In fact, they might go even lower than that. Normal disciples tend to dwell around here.

"This is the medium area, and you can see that most of the missions for this area are between five hundred and two thousand. There's a lot of variety in missions placed here."

"This is the upper area. Missions here are between two to ten thousand.

"Above the upper area is the elite area. The elite area has a baseline contribution of ten thousand and an upper bound of thirty.

"And above that… well, that's the crown area. Only the best of the best get to be here, between thirty to a hundred thousand.

"Past that many points is the sovereign area. If you reach this place, you'll be at the top of the Eternal Sacred Land. You'll be held in equal regard with the likes of Elder Ziju. Daoist Ziju, you don't mind that comparison, do you?"

Ziju Min smiled faintly. "As long as it's easy to understand, why would I mind?"

"Haha, the explanation is indeed easy to understand." After seeing each area in person, Jiang Chen had a rudimentary understanding of their respective qualities.

Both the plan and the layout of the Hall of Merit were very well done. The hierarchy of value in contributions was more than clear. Jiang Chen stopped in the sovereign area.

"The missions posted here are all pretty terrifying, hmm?" He smiled. "Do people usually come by to request them?"

Gu Yunjin smiled as well. "Not many usually come, but it's not out of the question. We have a strict set of rules. Requesting a mission from the sovereign area requires you to have completed a mission from the crown area within this year."

"So, I can't just skip ahead to the sovereign missions?" Jiang Chen was a bit disappointed at hearing that.

"Not necessarily. Completing a crown mission first means that you are absolutely permitted to take on a sovereign mission. Moreover, even if you fail to complete it, you won't suffer any penalties. But if you request a sovereign mission right off the bat without having done that, you'll have to pay a price if you fail."

"What price?"

"A tenth of the points you would've earned from succeeding at the mission." Gu Yunjin smiled.

This rule helped avoid the sovereign area's missions from being swarmed. That would only spell disaster if it ever came to pass.

Without rules in place, the system wouldn't be much more than a joke. If everyone sought to complete sovereign missions that were too far above their sphere, what order would be left then?

Thus, the Sacred Land encouraged incremental challenge by waiving the penalty for failing.

Jiang Chen didn't have any time to climb up the mission ranks though. If he did that, who knew when he'd get a hundred thousand points?

Now that he knew the rules, he wasn't in a hurry to request any missions. His highest priority was still to break through to empyrean realm within half a year. This was also what he was currently most enthused about.

He could think about how to get contribution points later.

With that overview in mind, Jiang Chen felt that it wouldn't be too hard to get a hundred thousand points in a year. As long as he could finish one sovereign mission, that would be enough.

"Thank you for enlightening me in so much detail, Elder Gu. I'll be sure to revisit after a while." Jiang Chen made his farewell.

"You're welcome anytime." Gu Yunjin smiled back.

After the duo departed from the Hall of Merit, Ziju Min smiled in inquiry, "How was it? Are you confident?"

"Yes, I think so." Jiang Chen didn't want to show any weakness.

"Good, good. It's good for a young man to live with vigor," Ziju Min sighed, then clapped Jiang Chen's shoulder. "You should prepare over the next few days. When you're ready, I'll take you to the Eternal River."

After sending Ziju Min off, Jiang Chen looked about his residence carefully. His new home was very spacious and excellently designed. The senior who'd built it had clearly put a lot of his mastery into it.

He was well pleased with such living quarters. Now that it was his private residence, he needed to secure the premises a little. He began to set up formations around the perimeter.

From this day forth, this residence would be his base of operations. Therefore, Jiang Chen had an obligation to keep it tidy and accident-free. He didn't want his cultivation to be interrupted by any unwelcome guests.

A little setup rendered the residence a well-defended piece of property. Restrictions and formations were both in place to declare his ownership of it.

He rested two days, stabilizing his peak great emperor level in the process.

In truth, he had received tremendous benefit from his adventures in the Nine Winding Caves. Without it, he wouldn't be able to claim certain breakthrough in the next six months.

A few more days of living in the quarters only increased his satisfaction with his rooms. The plentiful spirit energy aside, it was also very quiet and peaceful - making it perfect for cultivation. In this way, Jiang Chen had been swiftly won over by his new residence. 

With his cultivation level solidified and no new progress in sight, he decided to depart tomorrow to take in the heavenly dao on the banks of the Eternal River.

Time waited for no man. His heart became much more serene because of the decision.

"Daoist Shao Yuan, this is Gan Ning. I am a true disciple of the Eternal Sacred Land."

A guest outside? This was his first. Jiang Chen had seen Gan Ning's name in the documents detailing his fellow geniuses. This was one of the Five Great Gentlemen of the Eternal Sacred Land, a rather standout character among his peers here.

Jiang Chen couldn't remain silent to the greeting outside. He hadn't come here to make enemies. It was a good idea to remain on good terms with his neighbors, at least.

He disabled his restrictions and walked out. A handsome young man with rosy lips and ivory teeth awaited him. He was clad in a silk brocade robe, giving off the dashing air of a free spirit.

This was Gan Ning, one of the Five Great Gentlemen in the sacred land. He had chiseled features that were accentuated by his aquiline nose, which served to add some roguishness to his style.

"You must be Daoist Shao Yuan. Once again, my name is Gan Ning."

"Sir Gan Ning of the Five Great Gentlemen? Excuse me for not coming to greet you sooner." Jiang Chen smiled in polite acknowledgment.

"Haha, I live pretty close by. The news of a genius newcomer prompted me to visit."

"Not at all," Jiang Chen smiled. "I would've visited you instead, but alas I'm still familiarizing myself with my new surroundings. I didn't dare impose in the interim." His words were gracious and well-mannered.

Gan Ning nodded, apparently not taking Jiang Chen's response too seriously. His brow unfurled as he smiled. "I've invited several of the young geniuses of the sacred land to tea at my residence today. They've all heard about you and are quite curious. They wanted me to come invite you. Perhaps we can go together?"

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