A flash of light appeared, revealing a heavily breathing girl. She had appeared in a large courtyard, directly in front of a towering castle. The caste was red, black, and purple, and towered several thousand yards into the sky. It was grand enough to rival the Heavenly Lightning Palace.
It omitted an incredibly ominous and foreboding aura, as if it would swallow whole whoever entered and never spit them back out. Guards were seen patrolling the outside of the castle, each emanating a powerful and slightly dark aura.
Space twisted, and a person suddenly appeared in front of the girl.
"Azalea, why have you returned so soon, and in defeat, it appears?" the man before her asked with a cold voice.
Azalea felt a shiver creep up his spine as she bowed to the man before her.
"Sect Leader Allfiend!"
The man's face remained emotionless. "Speak, what happened within the lands you entered?"
All of the Four Great Sects were curious as to what existed in the forbidden lands. If their disciples could obtain powerful artifacts for them, then that would be greatly beneficial for their ascendance to the top of the Yuan Continent.
Azalea paused for a moment, before beginning to describe her journey through the mysterious lands. She knew she couldn't lie, as if Allfiend detected that she had lied to him, her fate would be miserable.
Azalea detailed the various things she encountered, and eventually got to the massive temple at the center of the ancient city.
Sect Leader Allfiend stood there in silence, listening to her story with an emotionless face. Azalea eventually got to the arch trials, and detailed what happened within. Sect Leader Allfiend slightly raised his eyebrows at this part, coming to a conclusion about the ancient city and its trials within.
After revealing the trials, she paused, unsure of how to continue. Allfiend noticed this, and frowned.
"Speak. What happened next?"
Azalea grit her teeth, and began to speak once more. She detailed what happened when they all left the arch trials, and her battle with John, Kirii, and Miko. However, she left out the cultivation level of John, as she knew Allfiend would most likely severely punish her for losing to someone with such a low cultivation.
Allfiend, assuming that John was in the Late Core Formation Realm as well, did not ask for his cultivation. The cultivation world knew jumping realms was incredibly difficult, and killing above ones realm nearly impossible.
Azalea breathed a slight sigh of relief when Allfiend did not ask for clarification on John's cultivation. However, a completely displeased look appeared on Allfiend's face as the end of Azalea's story.
"So, you allowed Damon and Culein to die before you, and all you could do was flee?" Allfiend asked in a cold and displeased voice.
A panicked expression appeared on Azalea's face, but all she could do was nod.
"In that case, take yourself to the dungeons. You'll spend the next month within!" Allfiend replied.
Fear washed over Azalea's face, but all she could do was nod. She began to leave, dreading the next month of pain and torture.
Sect Leader Allfiend frowned, and a dark expression appeared on his face after Azalea had left.
"It seems both the Heavenly Lightning Sect and Divine Soul Sect have found themselves some incredible new prodigies. It seems we'll have to trim some weeds soon!"
"When I entered the trial, I was transported to an empty room," Miko began to explain what happened when he entered the fourth arch.
"A strange energy washed over me, at which a shadow figure appeared before me. They began demonstrating a soul technique, at which I first thought was to attack me. Only after watching for a while did I realize I needed to study the technique and emulate it.
I figured out the technique after a while, at which point the shadow figure disappeared, and an image of a boy around my age appeared. His cultivation was at the Half-Step Core Formation Realm, while I was at the Early Core Formation Realm. I thought he was real at first, but quickly realized it was a formation," Miko explained.
The crowds of youths that had been watching the battle had slightly calmed down, and began to enter the arch trials once more. As they passed by the seated group of John, Miko, Adam, and Kirii, they looked at them with a mixture of awe and fear.
Miko took a sip of water before continuing....
"Despite my opponent being below my cultivation, he was actually quite strong. It took some effort, even from me, to defeat him."
John raised his eyebrows at this information. Miko's battle prowess was terrifying, and someone with a weaker cultivation giving him trouble was surprising. However, since it was just a formation, and not a real cultivator, John didn't know if the power of that youth was truly accurate.
"After I defeated him, another youth, a girl this time, showed up. She was the same cultivation as me, and radiated an incredibly strong soul aura, nearly equal to my own. I fought her, and the battle was quite intense, but I won out. Lastly, another boy showed up, and his power was shocking. His cultivation was the same as me, and his soul was nearly on par with my own. While I had a stronger soul power, his battle arts were far more profound than what I had.
The battle raged on for quite some time, and I barely managed to win over him. After I won, a strange energy washed over me once again, and I found both my dantian and soul power rose a level, sending me directly to the Middle Core Formation Realm," Miko elaborated.
John sat there silently, listening to the whole ordeal. It was surprising that someone as powerful as Miko struggled like that, but when John thought about the fact that his enemies were just formations, it made more sense. The formation could make the enemies as strong as they wanted, regardless of cultivation level.
Based on Miko's description, John was not surprised that the other youths that entered the fourth arch had all perished. If Miko struggled within, then there was no hope for the other youths.
'These ancient people were quite brutal. Making trials with either victory or death as the conditions.'
"Not only that, but I was rewarded with choosing some weapons and items, and I chose this sword," Miko stated as he raised his sword in front of him. It was incredibly powerful, and radiated an ancient aura.
John inspected the sword, and nodded his head in approval. It was truly an impressive weapon, and would serve Miko well even through the Meridian Forging Realm. In fact, it was so incredible, that he could maybe use it through the Heaven Tribulation Realm.
Normal weapons increased in weight as they went higher grades, making them impossible to wield for weaker cultivators. However, Miko's weapon specialized in speed, and was incredibly light and sharp. Not only that, but it was made of a special material that amplified soul power, revealing just how incredible it was.
John and Miko continued to talk about the trial Miko experienced, while John also focused on recovery. Nearly half a day later, with the help of many healing pills and Qi Recovery pills, John finally managed to heal himself back to full strength.
However, his blood essence reserves were incredibly low due to his recent battle. By John's estimate, he had slightly less than a minute of using his Immortal Asura Transformation Art before running out of blood essence, and therefore running out of body Qi.
'While it's amazing when I have the blood essence reserves, as I can replenish my reserves at my whim, only being able to make body Qi from blood essence is quite troublesome when I don't have any blood essence left.'
John did have the blood essence of the Bloodfiend youths he had recently slain, but using such precious human blood essence for Qi reserves, instead of raising his body cultivation was an extreme waste. John only used beast blood essence for replenishing Qi reserves, as it could not raise his cultivation.
An idea suddenly came to John, and he looked back to Miko.
"Miko, do you have any beast corpses? Preferably ones in the Core Formation Realm?" John asked. The higher the beast cultivation, the better the blood would be for replenishing his Qi.
Miko found the question quite strange, but nodded his head. "I killed several beasts on my way over here. I think I have three Core Formation beast corpses," Miko replied.
John's eyes lit up, and he gave Miko a storage ring with a hundred thousand spirit crystals. His wealth, after having found that spirit crystal mine, was immense.
"Can I buy them off you?" John asked. Miko inspected the ring, and frowned.
"You expect me to accept this shit?" Miko feigned anger.
He tossed back John's spatial ring, which John quickly accepted and inspected. The corpses of two Core Formation beasts laid inside, as well as the spirit crystals.
John smiled at Miko's antics. "Thanks."
Miko nodded his head in approval. "That's more like it."
Confidence once again welled within John.
'With these two corpses, it should add several minutes to my time at which I can use my Immortal Asura Transformation Art...in that case.'
John's eyes trailed towards the fourth arch, and paused for a moment before looking towards the fifth arch. An extremely dreadful and terrifying aura emanated from the arch, as if all those who entered were destined for death.
Based on the aura alone, all the youths in the area had assumed that the arch was just a death arch, with no trial within. Surely no trail could have such a dreadful power within. However, based on the words on the top of the arch, John knew otherwise.
'Divine...The talent needed to pass the trial is Divine. I wonder what level of talent that is?'