125 Special Pendan
Similar to the entrance exam, men and women were split up from each other. Xiao Fang was confident that the exam on the men's side would be much harder, but there was nothing he could do about it. This was the way the sect did things, if he didn't like it he'd have no choice but to leave.
When the gates finally opened, the female disciples all ran into the left entrance of the cave while the men ran into the right. Once inside, they all followed the path underground.
10 meters, 50 meters, 100 meters, the path led them deeper and deeper underground without any end in sight.
At this point, Xiao Fang had already created a large gap between himself and the rest of the group. He was currently more than a kilometer underground and could see two large doors in the distance.
Just as Xiao Fang approached the door, he saw an elder wearing inner court robes standing in front of it. To Xiao Fang's surprise, she didn't seem like an illusion.
Seeing Xiao Fang arrive, the elder became a bit confused.
'Didn't the exam just start?'
At first the elder thought she was just losing track of time, but she noticed that no one else was even close to catching up to Xiao Fang.
'It seems there is some talent in the men's side this year,' she thought.
Xiao Fang stopped when he reached the elder. The elder noticed the blindfold over his eyes but didn't comment on it.
"You're a fast one. What's your name?"
Xiao Fang was a bit confused as to why she'd be asking for his name. He didn't want people knowing who he was, but he couldn't be impolite to an inner court elder either. So Xiao Fang just said the first name that popped into his name.
'Dammit. Why did I say that,' Xiao Fang thought.
He knew he sucked at improvising, but he really felt like beating himself up this time.
"Well, I have high expectations for you, Long Wang," the inner court elder said while handing him a pendant.
"This is the first part of your exam. Behind me is a vast cave hidden deep beneath the sect. Inside you will face many dangers. Your objective is to defeat the beasts and collect as much spirit energy as you can. Once the pendant shines red then you may proceed to the next part of your exam. You should've already been given a quick run down on how the pendant works, so I won't waste your time," she said while opening the large doors for him.
The elder at the start of the exam only instructed the disciples to wear the pendant around their necks when they reached this stage, so Xiao Fang did just that.
The pendant that hangs off of the necklace was palm-sized, white, circular, and there seemed to be special inscriptions written on it, but Xiao Fang couldn't understand what it meant.
As far as Xiao Fang knew, even the weakest inscriptions were hard to come by, and they were usually used to enhance rather the strength, defense, agility, durability, or spirit power of weapons or armor. To find one inscribed on an amulet/pendant was extremely unusual.
Xiao Fang finally walked through the door that the elder held open. The moment Xiao Fang stepped through, he gasped.
"It's huge!" Xiao Fang's voice echoed out, alerting every living thing of his presence.
Although Xiao Fang was being unnecessarily loud, he really felt like he was walking into a separate world.
'There's no way something this big was created by the sect. The sect was probably built on top of it,' Xiao Fang thought.
To get a better look at it, Xiao Fang lifted his blindfold, letting it rest on his forehead.
Despite being more than a kilometers underground, there were several beautiful lights illuminating the dense, lush forest below. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
Not wanting to waste any more time, Xiao Fang quickly ran into the forest. Almost immediately after he ran in he could already sense the presence of several tiered beasts ranging from the 3rd tier to the 4th tiered beasts. Unless the men behind him grouped up into pairs of 2s or 3s, they could easily lose their life in this forest.
The first beast Xiao Fang encountered was in the 3rd tier. It had a large rock head, it was proportioned like a komodo dragon, but it had a longer neck and a shoulder height of nearly 1.5 meters high.
Xiao Fang moved quickly.
[ No Sword Style: Cutting Iron ]
The beast split into two, then Xiao Fang collected its core. However, the moment Xiao Fang took the core out of its body he noticed something strange about it. The core wasn't black, it was white.
'If I remember correctly, the colours were: Black(Ordinary), Blue(Saint), Purple(Demon), Red (Legendary), Gold(Celestial),' Xiao Fang thought.
Before Xiao Fang could analyze it, it suddenly began to transform into pure spirit qi before getting sucked into the pendant around his neck.
Once the beast core was gone, Xiao Fang noticed that the pendant was starting to glow a dim blue light.
'I see. So that's how this works.'
Xiao Fang quickly hunted down several more tiered beasts. The higher the tier of the beast the more spirit qi the pendant gained from absorbing it.
An hour later, Xiao Fang had hunted over thirty 3rd tiered beasts and five 4th tiered beasts. Before he knew it, the pendant around his neck was shining a bright red.
Xiao Fang didn't even break a sweat.
'Hmm, it seems that I'm already done.'
Looking down at the pendant, he started to notice something strange about it. He sat down on the grass then sent his consciousness into the pendant. The first thing Xiao Fang noticed was that the spirit qi the pendant absorbed had completely changed its nature.
The reason why something like this was incredible was because this was something only cultivators could do with their own qi. To see an inanimate object convert the nature of qi to something else was something he had never seen before. However, considering his background, there were many things about the spirit cultivation world he had no knowledge about.
'The nature of the qi is different, but why does it feel familiar?'
After a moment's thought, Xiao crossed his legs into the proper meditative position then took a strand of qi out of the pendant. He let it circulate through his body, before allowing it to enter his dantian. What he discovered was astounding.
Changing the nature of one's own qi took up a large part of cultivating any cultivation method. To have it already converted into cultivatable qi would reduce the time it takes to cultivate a cultivation method by more than 50%, and since he wouldn't be using up his own qi, he would be able to train for much longer too.
Xiao Fang felt like he had struck gold. This had to be the most incredible item he had ever seen. He knew that he needed to give the pendant back to the elder at the end of the exam, so Xiao Fang planned to use it as much as he could before that time came.
Xiao Fang didn't bother trying to find a safe place to cultivate, one of the benefits of having a strong swordsmen instinct is that he would be able to detect danger even if he was in deep sleep. Should a troublesome situation arise, he was confident that he would be able to handle it.
After taking a few calming breaths, he sent his consciousness back into the pendant then started cultivating more of the refined illusory qi.
Meanwhile on the women's side of the exam, Xiao Hei wanted to blend in with the other disciples so she stayed within the crowd, but as they ran down the narrow cave, 22 disciples were able to create a gap ahead of the rest. Xiao Hei followed the 22 girls as the gap between them and the rest of the disciples got larger and larger. If Xiao Fang were here, he'd recognize the 22 girls that were far in the lead. Especially Zhao Pan and Bai Fan who seemed to be creating a gap even ahead of the other 20.
Seeing Xiao Hei catch up, the 22nd fastest disciples started trying to get Xiao Hei's attention.
"Hey little girl, is this your first time taking this exam?" The girl whispered to Xiao Hei.
Xiao Hei found it strange that someone was talking to her, but she still nodded to her question.
"If you're new then you probably don't know."
"Don't know what?" Xiao Hei got curious.
"The first part of the exam is probably the hardest part of the exam, so disciples need to make temporary alliances to pass it."
Xiao Hei blinked her big eyes as she waited for the girl to explain. The girl assumed her planned to scare Xiao Hei was working, but then Xiao Hei's next words nearly made her vomit blood.
"You want me to protect you?"
After regaining her composure, the female disciple replied, "Sure, we can protect each other."
"Forget it, I don't need your help."
The woman tried to make Xiao Hei change her mind, but Xiao Hei ignored her.
After listening to the elder explain the first part of the exam, Xiao Hei, and the 22 other disciples in front of her, each received a pendant before proceeding through the large doors.
'Hm? Isn't this...'
Unlike Xiao Fang, Xiao Hei was familiar with the inscription pattern written on the pendant. The quality of the inscription wasn't too remarkable, but she was still surprised to find one in this country.
A few minutes later, Xiao Hei had killed enough beasts to make the pendant around her neck shine red. Since she knew that finishing the first part of the exam so soon would raise a few eyebrows, she decided to hang out.
However, before she could get comfortable, she suddenly heard a scream.