AGM 330 - Nine Remaining
On the 15th step, Qin Wentian finally stopped. The crowd gazed at his back which emanated his determination, and their hearts shivered when they came upon a sudden realization.Was Qin Wentian's talent sufficient to match up to the record holder of these past ten years? He only needed three more steps to accomplish that.
For Situ Po, his three Mandates were all exceedingly terrifying. How could he avoid this? He too, advanced forward, his conviction and belief in himself would never waver.He, Situ Po, couldn't afford to lose, and so he couldn't lose.
In the blink of an eye, Situ Po mirrored what Qin Wentian had done, he successfully stepped onto the 15th step.
How could Ouyang Zheng, Zang Leng Feng and the other rankers on the Heavenly Fate Ranking lose out to a bunch of juniors? They successfully became rankers on the Heavenly Fate Ranking first and although the Heavenly Stele Steps test were open to all because of the dispute between Situ Po and Qin Wentian, what of it? Now that they'd already arrived here, how could they lose to two juniors?
They were people on the Heavenly Fate Ranking, gazing disdainfully down from their lofty positions. Similarly, they couldn't afford to lose.
This battle, wasn't merely a battle of talent, it was also a battle of their conviction.
All of them wanted to break that record, surpassing the 18th step. If they could truly do so, the experience gained would undoubtedly prove to be of great benefit in regards to their future path of cultivation.
Over there in the direction of the Mystic Maiden Palace, Li Shiyu had already been blasted down from the steps. The only two remaining were the two with princess statuses, Xuan Yan and Xuan Xin.
Duan Qingshan, was still persevering.
Ouyang Kuangsheng, Fan Le and Chu Mang, were still on the steps as well.
There was also one person that caused people to be surprised. Wang Xiao had actually stepped onto the 13th step, his powerful will dueling with that ancient will of the three-sided Heavenly Stele.
"All these people are undoubtedly the most powerful within the junior generations. To think there'd still be so many cultivators still remaining, and they're not even ranked upon the Heavenly Fate Rankings.
"However, both Situ Po and Qin Wentian halted on the 15th step. Apparently, the difficulty of the next step is beyond incredible."
Qin Wentian's eyes were currently shut. At this moment, the ancient will of the Heavenly Stele rumbled his sea of consciousness. Inside, an evil demonic being suddenly manifested, intent on tearing him apart. That apparition wasn't an illusion. It was a real existence! At the same time, Qin Wentian felt the will of Dreamsleep creeping up onto him, causing him to feel a bout of drowsiness.
For the first time, Qin Wentian's own Mandate was used against him. His will from the Mandate of Dreams was subjugated by that ancient will, which used it to wipe out his memories.
At this moment, Qin Wentian was alone in a separate dimension that was created by his Mandate's will. He was currently sitting cross-legged while three silhouettes that resembled himself, created by the Heavenly Stele, floated above him. They were his thoughts of evil, malice and hatred.
And at this moment, his consciousness, was defending against three of himself.
"Ancient Will of Force, Ancient Will of Dreams, Ancient Will of Demons"
Inside that dimension, these three silhouettes were blocking his path, and seemed impossible to overcome.
"If you take another step upwards, your will of Mandate shall be exterminated, your consciousness shall be eradicated, your life shall be annihilated," that Ancient Will of Demons spoke, exuding a terrifying demonic aura. He was threatening Qin Wentian.
Qin Wentian could feel the truth of what was said. For every step he climbed upwards, the stronger the Ancient Will became. If he continued upwards, he didn't know to what degree the strength of that Ancient Will would be magnified by.
Qin Wentian's eyes were still closed, sitting there cross-legged, appearing at peace. He didn't bother acknowledging the words of the will coming from each 'perverted' form of his three Mandates.
After several moments, his eyes abruptly snapped open. His determination manifested into a palpable aura that skyrocketed up to the clouds. With an explosive boom, a massive wind kicked up, yet Qin Wentian's body remained motionless. In that dimension, the Ancient Will of Force grew stronger and when it reached its ultimate form, it transformed into a gigantic mountain and a piece of sky that began to press down on Qin Wentian.
"BOOM!" Qin Wentian's sea of consciousness shook, he'd just received an attack from that Ancient Will of Dreams. Such an attack actually made Qin Wentian feel an overwhelming impulse to fall asleep.
The Ancient Wills attacked again. Qin Wentian withstood their attacks impassively, his eyes slowly opened as a earth-shattering roar echoed out of his throat. He stepped forward, with an aura as immovable as the gigantic mountains. The threats of the Ancient Will couldn't triumph over his heart.
16th step, succeeded.
"He stabilised his footing." The hearts of the crowd trembled, Qin Wentian had stepped onto the 16th step. The only ones before him were Ouyang Zheng, Zang Lengfeng and Situ Po.
"That's as far as you amount to," Situ Po faintly stated without emotion.
As the sound of his voice faded, Situ Po stepped on the 17th step.
The hearts of the crowd shuddered, Situ Po had already arrived on the 17th step. He only needed one more step before catching up with the previous record.
"I think Situ Po will definitely be ranked as one of the top rankers on the Heavenly Fate Rankings at the end of this year. With his strength, as long as he breaks through to the ninth level of Yuanfu, he will surely be among the top ten."
Situ Po indeed lived up to his reputation as the most monstrous genius among the younger generations belonging to the Sword Extinction Sect, ranking supreme among their Yuanfu Realm cultivators overall.
After which, Ouyang Zheng similarly stepped onto the 17th step.
Zang Lengfeng wasn't willing to appear weak. He unleashed his Mandates to their limits. As a Heaven's Chosen, how could his innate talent not be comparable to the others?
Qin Wentian also moved towards the 17th step. But the instant his feet came into contact with the 17th step, his body froze, as though he were locked in that position. He remained in that stance, even his breath appeared to have stopped.
"What's going on?" The countenances of the crowd froze. Why did Qin Wentian's appearance seem 'dead'? The others before him weren't like this.
Two hours passed, another four hours passed by. Qin Wentian remained in that stance.
And after persisting for a day, Wang Xiao was finally blasted down the Heavenly Stele Steps. Duan Qingshan similarly failed when he tried to step on the 18th step. Both of them suffered serious injuries from the force of the rebound.
As for Qin Wentian, he still remained there motionless.
The people on the Heavenly Stele Steps were getting fewer and fewer. Each blazing sun representative of their generation had been blasted down again and again. Only those lights that shone the brightest of all, still remained.
And what's more, all of them had managed to match the ten-year record.
In the past ten years, the Heavenly Stele Steps had been open to the public three times, and the 18th step was the record. However, more than one person had succeeded in stepping on the 18th step. But, for everyone who did, they were unable to advance any further.
Eighteen, was made from two-nines. The second variation came after the 18th step."I'm going down." Xuan Xin had a bitter expression on her face. She could feel that she was already at her limits. If she continued onwards to the 18th step, she would either break through her limits or suffer grievous injuries.
She could also feel that the latter possibility was higher. To Xuan Xin, her determination and resolution had yet to be sufficiently tempered. After all, she was still just a young girl.
After speaking, Xuan Xin pushed forth with her palms as a powerful rebound pushed back at her.
She landed on the ground safely, unharmed after retreating several steps backwards. This was a voluntary exit, different from being blasted down.
"The little princess from the Mystic Maiden Palace is already extremely outstanding, she reached the 17th step!"
"Fan Le, Qin Wentian, Chu Mang and Ouyang Kuangsheng, they're all stuck at the 17th step. It seems impossible for them to advance further."
"Xuan Yan has already stepped onto the 18th step. Her Mandates should all be at the Perfection Boundary, she's incomparably powerful." The spectators gazed at Xuan Yan's silhouette before turning their glances onto Fan Le. They were afraid that the result had already been determined; Qin Wentian's good friend Fan Le, would lose to Xuan Yan, a Heaven's Chosen from the Azure Continent ranked 17th on the Heavenly Fate Rankings.
"BREAK!" A heaven-shaking howl of rage thundered out. The crowd abruptly started, only to see a herculean figure beside Fan Le opening his eyes. Within Chu Mang's eyes, arrows fired forth penetrating that Heavenly Stele, while a gigantic axe cleaved apart the Heavens and Earth. He decisively stepped on that 18th step as the fearsome fluctuations of his Mandate burst out.
With his heart of steel, there was nothing he could not break.
Chu Mang's objectives had always been simple. He only wanted power, powerful enough to be the shield Chu Wuwei needed. Powerful enough to protect Chu Wuwei from aging and death.
The might of that Ancient Will shuddered Chu Mang's mind. His eyes were bloodshot as he stood there, roaring at the Heavens. With sufficient determination, what was a mere Heavenly Stele? It wasn't enough to slay him!
An explosive will that originated from the Mandate of Arrows transformed into countless resplendent streams of light, blasting right at that Stele.
He used the now Perfection Boundary Mandate of Arrows to break the suppression of the Ancient Will restricting him.
The Ancient Will's strength depended on the strength of each individual. They would either have to possess sufficient resolution and determination to surpass it, or they had to breakthrough from their previous limits and forcefully suppress it. If they failed, their endings would be extremely dire, if Chu Mang failed then, his mind would have been completely erased by that pressure.
"He stabilised his footing, Chu Mang is now on par with that previous record-holder!"
"I won't lose." At this moment, Fan Le grinned, the look in his eyes extremely clear. It was as though he could see the pure face of Xuan Xin when he glanced up at that Heavenly Stele.
Fan Le was usually a happy-go-lucky person who loved to crack jokes, but he knew that his looks were only ordinary. Yet, Xuan Xin had chosen him, so how could he still let her down? If he failed, castigation and the derisive mockery of the others would drag Xuan Xin down with him. He had always pretended to be free-spirited about it, laughing all the while with not a care in the world. In reality, he truly cared about this matter.
He was fine being the target of mockery, but he didn't want Xuan Xin to suffer the same fate as him.
He wanted to prove to others that Xuan Xin had not made the wrong decision in choosing him.
He was extremely talented, his name was Fan Le.
Stepping out, a golden light enveloping his body as his blood boiled. A terrifying temperature scorched the air as he placed his foot onto that 18th step of the Heavenly Stele Step.
"BZZZ!" That golden light crackled as ember flames covered his entire body. His aura climbed upwards continuously, as the will of his three Mandates sublimated another level in the terrifying flames.
He was Fan Le, the Fatty Fan Le, the Genius Fan Le.
He bathed in that sea of golden flames, standing tall upon the 18th step of the Heavenly Stele Steps.
"HAHA, how satisfying!" Ouyang Kuangsheng howled. His long hair fluttered in the wind as he punched his fist up in the air. Fan Le and Chu Mang had already succeeded, how then could he be left behind? He rushed up as well.
If he failed, so what if his body was riddled with grievous injuries? If his path of cultivation was severed, was death even anything to fear? If he cowered, he would no longer be Ouyang Kuangsheng!
Ouyang Kuangsheng had also stepped on the 18th step, his results matching the all-time high record within the past ten years.
The crowd all sighed in their hearts. At this moment, there were only a few remaining on top of the Heavenly Stele Steps. Ouyang Zheng, Zang Lengfeng, Xuan Yan, Yue Bufan. These four were all Heaven's Chosen that ranked within the top thirty-six in the Heavenly Fate Rankings. Not on the rankings themselves, Situ Po, Fan Le, Chu Mang, Ouyang Kuangsheng and Qin Wentian were the remaining five.
The nine of them all stepped atop on the 18th step. Only Qin Wentian was still at the 17th step, in a motionless state.
"Amazing, truly amazing. We don't need to talk about the four Heaven's Chosen, Situ Po or Qin Wentian. But Chu Mang, Fan Le and Ouyang Kuangsheng were all grouped with Qin Wentian and to think that they were this powerful. I'm sure after today, other than Ouyang Kuangsheng, there will be several transcendent powers waiting to recruit them."But, defeat and victory had yet to be determined.
The dispute between Situ Po and Qin Wentian; the competition between Xuan Yan and Fan Le; the contest between Ouyang Zheng and Zang Lengfeng. They all had no clear victors yet.
And following this, all of them with the exception of Qin Wentian, would break the ten-year record with but a single step!
Who would be the one left standing in the end?
Would Qin Wentian, who was still on the 17th step, be able to surpass Situ Po?!