The personalities of the young lords began to surface now that they were forced to make a choice. Those prudent and cautious chose to give up the challenge. They would stay and cultivate. Those focused on improvement continued to stride forward. The majority chose to continue, including those at the bottom of the ranks. Almost everyone at the top of the ranks chose to continue as well.
They were obviously enticed by the Six Palaces of Heritage. Why would any of the geniuses from the Ranking of Young Lords think that they were inferior to others? The top ten were the biggest proponents of this mindset. All of them believed that they were favored by the gods, and that their potential was limitless. For all they knew, they might be the destined genius.
In the world of martial dao, there wasn’t a single genius who lacked confidence. Moreover, there were all kinds of fortuitous encounters, so one could never know if they would eventually have the last laugh. A head start wasn’t everything. After all, it’d been the turtle that won the race in the end. It didn’t matter if they failed to enter the top three or even the top five ranks. Throughout the history of Divine Abyss Continent, there had been many top geniuses who were nameless at the start. They only gained success in the later parts of their lives. Very few geniuses had a smooth journey to the top. Because of this, they weren’t too perturbed about their low rankings. Their confidence remained high.
Jiang Chen and Ji San walked through the wide open Veluriyam Square and headed towards the fourth obelisk. They found an inconspicuous spot and sat down. The other geniuses slowly made their way towards their own chosen spots as well.
“It seems like you have made your decisions. Geniuses under the fourth obelisk, I must commend you for taking the smart choice. However, this is a decision in which risk and opportunity dwell alike. Some of you will be disqualified on the fifteenth day, but there will also be those who succeed. Remember, you’re not allowed to exchange any information through your consciousness, voice, or any other means. You should rely on your own talent and wisdom. Cheaters will be ejected from the premises immediately.”
Geniuses from the same factions who’d planned on working together smiled wryly. The Veluriyam Pagoda was extremely strict and meticulous. They wouldn’t have the chance to cheat. Jiang Chen wasn’t too surprised. If cheating was allowed, only one person would need to comprehend the test for all to pass. The test would lose its meaning.
He threw Ji San a glance of encouragement, and started to focus on his own preparations. With his understanding from the previous obelisk tests, even if the difficulty was raised, he was confident that he could solve the fourth one. He held his breath and concentrated deeply while he waited for the fourth image to appear.
The place was so silent that one could hear a pin drop. Everyone was self aware and did nothing to harm the atmosphere, or break the silence and disrupt everyone’s concentration. They wouldn’t be ejected from the palace if they made some noise, but they would certainly be drowned by the spit of others. Doing so wouldn’t bring them any benefit. They should focus on the image instead. This time, a formation appeared. To be more specific, it was a trap formation.
“Right now, you are trapped within the formation before your eyes, and you must decipher it within your consciousness. Doing so within fifteen days is proof that you’ve comprehended the fourth obelisk.”
Deciphering a formation wasn’t a rare sight. This formation itself however, was. Making heads or tails of it was the biggest difficulty for everyone. Jiang Chen remained calm as he was already quite proficient with this art. He hadn’t seen this exact one in “The Heart of Formations”, but formations often shared similar foundations and profound mysteries. He was able to cut right into the heart of it all by combining his knowledge of formations from his previous life and the knowledge from that tome.
Reading, analyzing, and deciphering formations was a very specific set of skills. Of course, if one was powerful enough, one could use brute force or some kind of heaven defying treasure to break one’s way through a formation. But this time, the task was to decipher the formation in their consciousness. This meant that they would have to fully comprehend the formation and identify the correct way to decipher it. This test assessed the foundations of their knowledge and comprehension of formations. A true genius would need to have the ability to handle all kinds of unexpected situations and problems. Being trapped within a formation was something they would all eventually face on their journey to the top. It was impossible that a cultivator could reach the top while being completely ignorant of them. Nobody was immune to formations in the path of martial dao.
Jiang Chen observed the formation meticulously and slowly deconstructed it in his mind. It didn’t take long before he caught a lead. The formation was actually much simpler than it seemed. It was likely an earth rank formation. It was meant to be used against emperor realm geniuses and didn’t actually pose a danger as it was only meant to be used as a test.
Jiang Chen finished studying the formation within two hours and began to decipher it. He was able to find the perfect answer after a series of conjectures in his head. This time, he didn’t choose to hide his abilities. He submitted his answer with his mind.
“Success. You are the first to decipher the formation.” The obelisk had turned cyan yet again.
“Number 8 has passed the test. You may take your leave.” The obelisk pinpointed his number and told him to make his exit.
Jiang Chen immediately stood up without any pretentiousness. He glanced at Ji San and gave him a look of encouragement before he left. His actions caused quite a bit of commotion. It hasn’t even been six hours yet right? He was able to comprehend the fourth obelisk in such a short amount of time? Has he seen this one before?
Many found this difficult to accept. Even the top geniuses were affected by how long Jiang Chen had taken to comprehend the fourth obelisk. A ripple appeared within their dao hearts. However, Ji San only felt encouragement when he saw Jiang Chen dominate the test. The warm look from his brother only gave him more confidence. While some delighted and others fretted, the young lords quickly suppressed the commotion within their hearts and continued to study the formation.
“Surely not? He… grasped the fourth obelisk already? Number 8? It’s young lord Zhen again?”
“It’s only been six hours! Can this be yet another coincidence? Daoist Peafowl, your Sacred Peafowl Mountain has truly picked up a monster!” All seven emperors were astounded by Jiang Chen’s heaven defying speed.
Emperor Peafowl smiled wryly. “Don’t look at me like that. He must’ve solved a question similar to the one from the fourth obelisk before. Otherwise, there’s no way he would’ve solved it in such a short time.”
It was the only logical explanation for this situation. There was nothing he could do about it if others chose not to believe him. However, their expressions suggested that they believed every word. After all, it was the only logical answer to this. Even if he was much talented than the others, there shouldn’t be such a big discrepancy between them. These were all young lords of Veluriyam Capital after all. They were some of the most talented geniuses throughout the Upper Eight Regions.
“Will young lord Zhen challenge the fifth obelisk? If my memory serves me right, you are awarded with three more months if you beat the fifth obelisk.”
“He will get half a year if he beats the sixth obelisk too.”
“I remember that there are nine obelisks in total. If he grasps all of them, he will gain another six to seven years. If you add in the two years he was originally given, won’t he be in there for almost ten years?
“Comprehending the ninth obelisk is easier said than done. The furthest anyone has ever gotten in the past few thousand years was the eighth obelisk.”
“Mm. And he failed at the eighth one too. That was over five thousand years ago.”
“Didn’t Daoist Peafowl make it to the seventh obelisk and was a hair way from fully understanding it?”
The crowd turned with looks of curiousity. The emperor laughed gently. “That is indeed the case. I was young and full of vigor back then. I tried to do everything in one go, failing to realize the importance of pacing myself. If I had paced myself a little, I might’ve made it to the eighth obelisk. It’s really a pity that we only get one chance at it.”
The emperors already knew this, but they couldn’t help but feel admiration. After all, the other emperors hadn’t even gone as far as he had. Emperor Shura and Emperor Petalpluck had progressed the furthest among the six other emperors. They were able to make it to the sixth obelisk, but failed to comprehend it in the end.
“By the way, how far do you think young lord Zhen will go?” Emperor Mountaincrush suddenly asked. This drew everyone’s attention.
“Daoist Peafowl, since he is the heir of Sacred Peafowl Mountain, how far do you reckon he will go?” Emperor Vastsea asked.
Emperor Peafowl smiled in response. “Hard to say. It depends on how well he can pace himself. He has already made it through the fourth obelisk, and did it with much more ease than any of us. This is proof that he has the potential to make it to the seventh obelisk, or maybe even the eighth one. But to make it to that point, he will have to pace himself well and take many other variables into account.”