“Each and everyone of you have been personally selected by the elders of the inner sect as those who stand above your peers so walk with your backs straight and your chests proud as you represent our sect in the tournament. In order to help strengthen your cultivation and prepare you for the tournament all of you will receive one hundred essence supplement pills, ten mid grade demon cores, ten low grade lightning talismans and a single channel nourishment pill. All of these items are only for your use as chosen and a spell has been placed onto them so that only the first people who touch them are able to use them or else they’ll explode. The tournament begins in six months but since our sect is located too far from the Crimson Sky Sect we will be setting out at the break of dawn tomorrow. So if you have anything you need to do, I suggest you get it down and prepare for our journey” Elder Jong said as he waved his hand causing thousands of rays of light to soar through the air and arrive in front of each of the chosen.
“They explode?” Zhang mumbled as he grabbed the things that were floating in front of him and looked at them.
“Normally the lightning talismans already explode.” Cai Cao laughed as he pocketed the items that were given out.
“How big of an explosion.” Zhang asked.
“Those lightning talismans can probably bathe our entire courtyard in lighting for a few minutes. Although they are low grade talismans they pack enough power to turn early fragment realm cultivators to a char and can probably heavily injure those in the later stages” Cai Cao replied.
With a gulp Zhang carefully tucked the talismans and other various things into his robes, causing Cai Cao to chuckle.
“They won’t go off unless you inject your essence into them and splash some blood on them.” Cai Cao laughed as he watched how carefully Zhang was while putting away the talismans.
“Thank goodness… I thought these things might go off on me if I wasn’t careful.” He said with a sigh.
Thus the gathering concluded and the elders took shot into the skies and disappeared into the mountains. Within the Misty Mountain Sect there were generally two types of elders, those who stay in the vicinity of the gathering halls and manage the various facilities of the sect and then there are those who do closed off training in the mountains that only appear when there was a task that needed to be done.
Once the elders left the gathering concluded and the one thousand chosen departed from the gathering hall with wide smiles on each of their faces. To be selected from the many thousands of outer sect disciples was an honor in itself and on top of that before even taking part in the tournament they had already received a large reward.
“Let’s go sell off that demonic core. We can use the essence stones when we leave the sect and now that we both received low grade demonic cores from the sect we won’t have to worry about lacking cultivation materials.” Cai Cao said to Zhang as they made their way out of the hall.
“I wonder how much we can get for this thing.” Zhang said as he patted the large sack that he had been carrying.
“It should be at least a mid grade core so I’m guessing if we directly sold it then we’d be able to get about ten thousand essence stones? If we auction it then there's a chance of getting about thirteen thousand?” Cai Cao replied with some estimates.
“Ten thousand essence stones with each essence stone worth around five hundred gold coins, so a total of fi-five million gold coins!” Zhang said as money signs appeared in his eyes. Although Zhang’s family had been really well off and five million gold coins was something that he had seen before, it had been a long standing belief in his clan that if there was money to be made then there was no such thing as enough money.
This belief had spawned from their ancestor and had been passed down from generation to generation, prompting ever member of the Zhou clan to be hoarders. Of course this did not mean they were stingy, the ancestor also taught that one must not let money control one’s actions, but the more money one had the more one could do.
So while they would be filled with glee from even picking up a single copper coin from the ground, the members of Zhou clan would still spend lavishly if they wished.
Soon after walking out of the gathering hall a sea of people could be seen. Everyone was waiting to have a closer look at the one thousand chosen who would represent the sect. Some gazes were filled with admiration while others were filled with envy as the one thousand chosen made their way outside.
Squeezing their way through the crowd, Zhang and Cai Cao headed to a place to sell their large demonic core. It did not take long for them to locate the outer sect’s auction house and made their way inside. This auction house was entirely ran by the sect and made it possible for rarer items such as Zhang and Cai Cao’s demonic core to be sold.
Regular stores would not have enough gold or essence stones to make large purchases such as these so to help sellers find the proper buyer the auction house was constructed. Of course the sect would take a small portion of the proceeds as a service fee but when dealing in such large transactions having sect’s supervision was safest.
“We would like to place something up for auction.” Cai Cao said after he and Zhang arrived at a service counter.
“Welcome to the Misty Mountain Sect Auction House. The next auction will take place in three days at the end of the week, you can drop off your items now for inspection if you’d like.” A young man who was working the counter said politely.
“I guess we will have to auction if off after we get back since we have to set out tomorrow.” Zhang said to Cai Cao.
“If we drop off the item we want to sell here, would it be possible for you to transfer the funds into a crystal card for us?” Cai Cao asked.
“Of course we can.” The clerk said with a smile.
“Here have the funds split between these two cards.” Cai Cao said as he placed two thin crystal cards onto the counter.
After scanning the crystal cards with another crystal card the clerk returned the cards to Cai Cao and the demonic core was deposited.
“Here take a card.” Cai Cao said as he handed Zhang a crystal card.
“As long as we are within the southern region essence stones can be sent and stored within these cards magically.” Cai Cao said, giving Zhang a brief explanation of how the crystal cards work. Basically, essence stones could be sent directly to an account attached to the cards and stored in the Southern Region’s central bank. This made it so that large transactions could be easily processed without the need to transport essence stones out in the open.
So with the demonic core deposited, Zhang and Cai Cao headed back to their courtyard. Once they returned home they began to absorb the demonic cores that they had received.
As Zhang and Cai Cao each sat atop a large boulder within their courtyard and refined one demonic core after another, Zhang could slowly feel his body become stronger. It was not until he had absorbed three demonic core did Zhang feel a sudden change in his body.
He could feel an unexplainable strength coursing through his body, much like the time that Cai Cao had forcefully opened all of his essence points.
“Congrats on stepping into the fragmented realm.” Cai Cao said as he noticed Zhang’s body was undergoing a transformation that happens to everyone when they first enter into the fragmented realm.
Within Zhang’s body, something that was similar to a demonic core was slowly forming, dozens of crystal like shards began condensing within his body. Thanks to the transformation that he was undergoing, Zhang’s skin became clearer as the toxins within his body began cleared up. While his muscles and bones would slowly grow stronger until the transformational ended.
The reason as to why the fragment realm was called the fragment realm was because of the countless crystallized shards of essence that would form within the cultivators body. The moment these shards come together and bind with one another the cultivator would have entered the elementary realm. As more of these shards form and bind together, they’ll eventually form into a core which would symbolize a cultivator’s ascent into the core realm.
Once someone stepped into the core realm only then could they call themselves true cultivators simply because the difference between a elementary realm cultivator and a core cultivator was as far as distance between the heavens and earth.
Sadly although Zhang had reached the fragmented realm, battle prowess wise he was still deemed inferior to his peers because some of his essence points were still blocked.
“To celebrate I’ll cook you something good after we finish absorbing all of these cores and take the channel nourishment pill.” Cai Cao laughed as he continued to refine the demonic cores laid out in front of him.
Like it’s name states the channel nourishment pill is used to help enlarge and nourish essence channels which would allow cultivators to circulate more essence. Such pills although not rare are very pricey and usually only have miniscule effects, but nonetheless they are still helpful.
So after the demonic cores were refined, the channel nourishment pill was taken, dinner was eaten and Little Blue and Little Red were fed, Zhang and Cai Cao crawled into bed in preparation for the long day that was to come tomorrow.
Early in the morning both Zhang and Cai Cao were up and about. After packing away some clothes they ran out of front door with Little Blue and Little Red following behind. They had decided to take the two pups with them because they did not know how long they would be gone and there would be no one to take care of the pups in their absence
So as Zhang, Cai Cao and their pups descended the mountain they spotted the other chosen moving together in large groups. It seemed that many of the chosen had banded together unlike Zhang and Cai Cao who kind of isolated themselves from the rest of the sect.
Unlike the first time he descended the mountain, Zhang now felt invigorated as he made long strides through the rocky and densely covered terrain.
Once they arrived at the Outer Sect Gathering Hall, an extravagant and majestic looking boat came into the view. But unlike any other boat, this one was floating in the air.
“We will board the airship once everyone arrives and is accounted for.” Elder Jong’s voice could be heard as he appeared out of nowhere amidst the crowd of chosen.
As people began to show up one after the other, the airship began to lower its elevation until it landed on the ground. Once everyone was accounted for, the chosen began to descend the airship.
Everyone was assigned a separate room for the long journey to the Crimson Sky Sect. Although the airship moved at high speeds through the air, due to the distance from the Misty Mountain Sect to the Crimson Sky Sect the trip would take roughly five months.
Over the next five months besides stopping to restock on supplies the airship would not stop or else the delays may cause them to miss the start date of the tournament.
Thus after everyone had stepped aboard the airship took to the skies. Zhang looked down in awe as they flew further and further away from the sect. He had never thought he would get the opportunity to fly unless he somehow broke through to the core realm and was able to obtain an operational flying sword.
The airship pierced through the shroud of mist that blanketed the mountains year round until finally it was outside the boundaries of the sect. Once they were outside of the sect, an abundance of warmth showered down from above. Since there was no more mist to hinder the sun, it was free to bathe everyone in it’s warmth.
“This is wonderful.” Zhang thought as the sun’s warm rays enveloped him and the cool breeze blew against his face while he took in the breathtaking view in front of him.
“Hey quit daydreaming, let’s go check out our lodgings and get the pups settled.” Cai Cao laughed as he placed his hand on Zhang’s shoulder.
Before long they made their way into the lower decks and to their surprise they found out that their rooms were right next to each other. Along the way they passed through dozens of beautifully decorated halls that offered a serene feeling to those that walked through them.
“Well this sure is convenient, now I won’t have to go look for you.” Zhang laughed as he pushed open a set of wooden doors that led into a small room that would be his home for the next five months.
It was decided that Zhang would take care of Little Red while Cai Cao would take care of Little Blue for the trip since it would end up being too crowded if either of them took care of both of the wolves at the same time due to home small their rooms were.
Thus began a new adventure, an adventure that will lead to new beginnings.