After Hei retracted his chains, the audience took note of Xiulan, who had been calmly eating bread the entire time.
They got the feeling that she was above the trivialities of the world.
The matriarch was especially interested in Xiulan. She had finally seen the mother of the childish sages and felt that she had an understanding of how Hei became the way he was.
Seeing Xiulan’s calm demeanour reminded her of Hei’s usual state. Of how he strived to maintain his cool. But since he was still a child, he was unable to maintain it at all times like Xiulan.
He would experience anger and grief like any other child, but he was clearly trying to be like his mother.
She wondered what exactly this Shao Clan was, and how she would fit in as a part of it.
Having gotten what he wanted, Hei lost interest in Wu Dong and returned to the Fang Clan’s section of the stands.
He happened to end up in the seat next to the matriarch, and Mei hurriedly sat to his other side.
Bai was a little too slow and puffed out her cheeks as she sat next to Mei, with Tianlan sitting beside her.
After Hei sad down, the rebound of Heavenly Revocation kicked in, and he felt extremely tired. His hand also began to shake uncontrollably.
He looked down to his hand and used his other hand to try to stabilise it, as he was thinking of a training programme to reduce these kinds of effects in the future.
This was the truth of the matter, but to the matriarch and Mei, Hei was suffering from trauma after what he had just done.
As she looked at Hei’s forlorn expression as he looked to the hand he had raised against his father, the matriarch felt something in her heart.
She placed her hand on Hei’s back and stroked it gently.
Surprised by the random back rub, Hei turned to the matriarch with a confused expression.
But to the matriarch, he looked despondent. Almost as if he had lost his path.
“I know it wasn’t easy, but I believe you made the correct decision.”
After the matriarch’s words, Mei took Hei’s shaking hand and also spoke.
“That’s right, Darling. I-”
“I also think you made the right choice.”
Hei was thoroughly confused by these two women. What was all of this about? Did he ever doubt that he had made the right choice?
He spoke as he pulled his hand back and turned his attention to the stage.
He tried to calm his hand down by clenching it into a fist, but he unknowingly gripped his robe tightly into his hand which was still shaking.
Seeing this, there were fluctuations in the matriarch’s and Mei’s eyes. They could tell that he was trying to be strong so that they wouldn’t have to worry.
Bai and Tianlan looked at these two in confusion.
They had been there when Hei had come up with these plans and had seen the excited faces he made as he described the visuals in vivid detail.
He especially emphasised that Wu Dong had to be on all fours as he sought forgiveness, such that he had Tianlan break his legs.
He even had the idea to send a Chain Dragon over to the Wu Clan and blow the whole thing to smithereens. It was only after Bai dissuaded him that he gave up on it.
Given all of that, why would he need to be comforted?
After the four left the stage, there were only the people of the Wu Clan left.
The whole place was silent.
After a while, Hei turned to the matriarch and asked her a question.
“Miss Matriarch. Why are those people on the stage? It’s slightly disrespectful to the 5-sect summit don’t you think?”
Hearing these words, the audience was shocked. How shameless could a person be?
Tianlan added on:
“Maybe someone should tell them that registration is on the way in. No exceptions.”
The audience turned to the middle-aged man, who was almost shedding tears.
The members of the Wu Clan glared angrily at Tianlan but flinched when they saw his eyes that said he was ready to play some more.
They carried Wu Dong, as they headed to the Wu Clan’s section.
After a while of awkward silence, another representative spoke.
It was another middle-aged man.
“Ahem. Welcome to the 5-sect summit.”
He allowed the audience to turn their attention to him before he continued.
“We are pleased to see so many talented juniors here for this selection. And a few old fellows who came to mess around.”
He glanced to the Fang Clan’s section before continuing.
“This time’s summit will be similar to the previous ones. It will consist of four rounds. The striking force measuring round, the age verification round, the talent measuring round, and the combat round.”
Hearing these words, Hei turned to the matriarch.
“Mm. They will measure the spirit roots of the participants and give them scores according to the number of elements and the grade.”
Hei turned to his siblings and they gave each other awkward looks.
He then turned back to the matriarch.
“Why didn’t you tell us about this before?”
“Wasn’t it obvious? Is there a problem?”
“Hehe. I guess this will be interesting then.”
Hei didn’t bother explaining that they had no spirit roots. He was rather interested in what the 5-sects would do about it. Instead, he asked about the grade the matriarch mentioned.
“You said something about grade. What is that referring to?”
“The measuring tools of the 5 sects are more advanced than the ones found in the city. Not only are they able to detect what kind of spirit roots a cultivator has, but they are also able to further divide them between low-grade, medium-grade and high-grade roots.”
Hei was slightly interested in this. To the four, spirit roots didn’t mean much, but most of his subordinates would have them, so it was good to know.
He also wondered what grade of spirit roots were formed when he created temporary ones, and also the ones sitting in his storage space.
After the man finished his explanation, he brought out a giant strength measuring pillar.
“This pillar can withstand up to 500,000 jin of force, so feel free to use your full strength as you strike it.”
After that, another young man came up and started reading names from a list.
As the names were called, cultivators went up to the measuring pillars to strike at them.
The values ranged between 5,000 jin and 50,000 jin, which were roughly equivalent to the beginning of the externalisation realm, to the beginning of the internalisation realm.
Only a few cultivators were able to exceed 50,000 jin of striking force, and those were mostly from the big clans. The rogue cultivators didn’t display too much exceptional striking force.
This left the 5 sects somewhat disappointed.
Sure, clan cultivators were well groomed, but most of them would leave the sects and climb higher once they had taken all they could.
It was the rogue cultivators who were more likely to stay behind as elders and boost the strength of the sect.
Then the Wu Clan’s names started to be called.
The results of the Wu Clan were quite interesting. They were concentrated at the extremes, with many cultivators at the low end of 5,000 jin, but also a good number of cultivators at the high end of 50,000 jin and above. Wu Ning’s score was particularly impressive at over 150,000 jin.
Everyone understood why this was. It was common knowledge that the Wu Clan took resources from the juniors and gave them to the elders.
They were trying to make a big splash in this 5-sect summit, and they would have succeeded had it not been for the childish sages.
When the Fang Clan’s names began to be called, the results were entirely different. If one were to list out the striking force values, one would see more of the Fang Clan juniors as the values went up.
A pyramid turned upside down.
There were a few results similar to Wu Ning. And to cap it all off, was Fang Ren’s score, which was above 200,000 jin, making her second only to transcendent realm cultivators.
Seeing this, the representatives of the 5 sects were left stunned into silence. The audience was in the same situation. What was happening at the 5-sect summit this year?
The Fang Clan knew that it was all thanks to the childish sages, and their respectful gazes reflected this.
The time came for the four to go up, and the young man reading the names was apprehensive. He was unsure whether the pillar would be able to handle them.
He called Tianlan’s name with a shaky voice.
As Tianlan stood up to go the stage, the young ladies in the audience noticed him.
“I didn’t notice it when they were fighting with the Wu Clan, but isn’t Sage Tianlan handsome?”
“That’s right. I wonder what kind of score he will get.”
“It has to be the highest. Did you see how he kicked the Wu Clan’s patriarch around?”
As Tianlan walked up to the stage, the people were anticipating his result.
He stepped up, and with lightning speed struck the pillar.
When the audience saw the result, their jaws dropped to the floor.
The young man was also perplexed as he relayed the value.
“50,000 jin… How-”
His words were cut off by the enraged young ladies.
“The pillar is obviously defective!”
“That’s right! How could Sage Tianlan only score 50,000 jin?”
“This whole thing is stupid! Come, Sage Tianlan. My clan also has a measuring pillar…”
“In your dreams! My clan also has a measuring pillar, Sage Tianlan. We’ll let you measure your strength properly.”
Tianlan just smiled as he went back to his seat.
He was greeted by the wide eyes of the Fang Clan’s juniors.
Seeing that Tianlan had no interest in taking another measurement, the young ladies quietened down.
“Then… Shao Hei. Please come to measure your strength.”
Hei stood up and the audience became silent. They knew that this result would be spectacular. After all, Hei was able to affect the weather.
The audience got exactly what they expected. A spectacular result.
The young man was having a hard time believing what he was seeing.
He even went to casually strike the pillar himself and easily got a score of over 300,000 jin, so it wasn’t the pillar that was defective.
After shaking his head, he decided to just continue calling out the last two names.
Bai went up, and again 50,000 jin.
At this point, the audience were numb to the incomprehensible results. Were these the same children that were throwing the Wu Clan around like rag dolls?
Finally, it was Mei’s turn.
She walked up to the pillar and hesitated for a moment before she launched a casual fist attack.
Her fist tore through the pillar as if it were made of paper.
Flustered, she turned to Hei, who shouted in an annoyed voice:
“We agreed on 50,000 jin! What are you doing?”
Before coming here, Hei had told his siblings how important it was to be low key…
He told them that it would be troublesome if they were recruited as core disciples or something similar, as it usually meant they would be taken to some secluded place to cultivate.
This wasn’t what they were looking for. They wanted to scan the libraries of the sects to take their knowledge. They couldn’t care less about things like cultivation resources and holy lands.
Mei seemed wronged as she shouted back:
“I lightly tapped it! How was I supposed to know 50,000 jin was so low?”
It was true. They had never had Mei measure her strength before, so she didn’t know how to calculate her strength in jin. Furthermore, she had an unnatural strength in the first place.
If she weren’t using her Berserk Aura which dissipated her force, it would be easy for her to punch a hole through a pillar like this one.
“You’re right. It’s not your fault.”
Hei had to admit this. He shouldn’t have expected Mei, who had lived in the forest for 8 years, to know how to control her strength in human measurements her first time.
Hearing this, Mei happily skipped back to her place next to Hei.
The young man and the audience looked at this with wide eyes. Then one young lady realised something.
“Sage Hei said they agreed on 50,000 jin. Sage Tianlan was just holding back. He didn’t want the juniors to be discouraged.”
“Mm. Sage Tianlan is so compassionate.”
‘The heck? How did it turn into this?’
Hei turned over to Tianlan, who had a smile on his face. It was a very annoying smile to Hei. Especially since the whole 50,000 jin thing had been his idea.
The representatives latched onto something else, however. And that was Mei’s words of ‘How was I supposed to know 50,000 jin was so low?’.
This suggested that she really accidentally broke the pillar that could withstand 500,000 jin of force…
The middle-aged man who had been kicked by Mei earlier was wondering how he was still in one piece.
Now that the strength measuring test was over, the summit took a short pause while the mess Mei had created was cleaned up.
“So, how old do you think the childish sages are?”
“Are we assuming that they are juniors?”
“This… I don’t know. They look like juniors, and they decided to participate in the selection so…”
“But my parents told me that there were some eccentric cultivators who did all sorts of strange things.”
“But what about that whole thing with the Wu clan? And they are Turn-down Shao’s grandchildren.”
“This… Then they really are juniors? Then they must all be close to 20 right?”
“Mm. They have to be. It’s just, why do they walk around in little children’s bodies? All except for Sage Tianlan, that is.”
“That’s right. Sage Tianlan is just my size.”
“Get lost old hag! Who do you think wants a 23-year-old? My 20-year-old self is a much better match for Sage Tianlan.”
“The both of you are fossils. I just turned 19 years and 11 months. Clearly, I am the better choice.”
Hei hummed a nice tune in his head. He couldn’t hear any voices of any young ladies. He was just fine. Not jealous at all.
After the clean-up was complete, the summit continued.
“A lot of you will be familiar with measuring stones like this one. All you need to do is place your palms on it and it will display your age.”
The second stage went fairly smoothly.
Every now and then there would be a cultivator who was over 20 years old, who would need to go through an evaluation process.
They needed to be at least the average level for sect cultivators of their age if they were to be accepted, making it much more difficult for them to pass.
Hei was curious about this, so he asked the matriarch.
“Why do they set the age limit at 20 years of age and then hold the summit every 20 years? Surely there will be cultivators who were born just before a summit and would be too old for the next one.”
“I’m not too sure why that is. When we asked, their response was that we should plan our children around the summit rather than increasing the age limit. As a result, you see the birth rate decrease as the summit approaches, and then an explosive increase immediately after the summit.”
‘Population control? That has to be a side quest.’
Hei decided he wouldn’t touch this thing with a 10-foot pole. It would be trouble for nothing.
The time came for Tianlan to have his measurement, and the result was 15 years.
“Ah! Sage Tianlan is the same age as me. It must be fate.”
One of the young ladies in the audience became excited, but soon after, all of the 15-year-old young ladies of the Fang Clan turned sharp gazes to her.
The young lady didn’t back down in the face of the Fang Clan.
“So what? You think you are impressive because you’re from the Fang Clan? Does Sage Tianlan belong to you? Why don’t I see any of you sitting next to him? Obviously, you are lacking as women.”
One of the Fang Clan’s young ladies stood up. She was wearing a red robe, which signified that she practised yang techniques.
She let off a fiery aura as she spoke.
“Humph. Do you dare say that to my face?”
“You think I’m scared? Bring your face here!”
These two sparked a larger conflict between the young ladies of the various clans.
This annoyed Hei to no end.
He sent out some chains to wrap Tianlan in and pulled him back to his seat.
“Let’s just get on with the summit!”
After he spoke, Hei could feel the sharp gazes of the young ladies turn to him.
But Mei was ready to clash with all of those young ladies.
Her irises turned white and her sclerae turned red. It was as if her red irises were bleeding into their surroundings, only to be replaced by a cold white.
Her hair switched to red with a white streak as she stood up from her seat and stared down the young ladies.
“Who are you looking at?”
She spoke with heavy bloodlust. Her nature as a spirit beast was leaking out, causing all of the young ladies to flinch in fright.
‘As if that helps!’
Hei was helpless as Mei scared all of the young ladies away.
‘Maybe I should have her do this for Tianlan.’
He was thinking it would be nice to have Mei act as a scarecrow for the young ladies. Then he wouldn’t have to suffer the psychological attacks.
After things calmed down, Mei returned to normal and sat back down next to Hei.
The young man called Hei’s name and he walked up to the stage in a grumpy mood.
“These darn young ladies, always looking at Tianlan. I’m also here you know? Not that I care. I really don’t.”
He slapped the stone and turned to walk away while still grumbling.
As he was walking away, the number 10 surfaced on the measuring stone.
The audience exploded into shocked discussion.
“10-years-old? Are we still alive? This can’t be real!”
“But it is.”
“But… But he. What?”
Even the representatives were shocked silly. Since when had 10-year-olds been this powerful?
They looked at each other and discussed quietly.
“Do you think they are from the middle continent?”
“Middle continent? Isn’t that a little…”
“No. Think about it. Innate Shadow Physique.”
“That’s right. I’ve never heard of an Innate Shadow Physique outside of the middle continent.”
“But the question then becomes, what are they doing here?”
“Do you think they are some juniors who came to play around?”
“But to play around in the lower continent. Wouldn’t they have at least chosen the upper continent.”
“Stop, stop. I heard someone mention that this Shao Hei may be the child of Wu Dong.”
“That… It doesn’t have to be they who are from the middle continent. It could be that they have ties to someone who is. All they would need are the resources and instruction.”
“This… You’re right. It could be like that.”
Oblivious to the discussions happening in the stands, Hei returned to his seat, and soon after, Bai was called up.
Her result shocked the audience even further.
At this point, they couldn’t even speak anymore.
They just stared at the number 8 that was displayed by the stone.
The silence continued as Mei’s name wasn’t even called. She had to walk up on her own initiative.
The audience became anxious as she walked up. They couldn’t bear to see an even lower number.
“10! Haha, it’s 10! Finally something normal!”
The audience mistakenly took Mei’s result of 10 to be normal after having suffered the tremendous shocks from Hei’s and Bai’s results.
They failed to notice that her result was the same as Hei’s.
“L-let us move on to the talent measuring.”
Sure that there couldn’t be any surprises at the talent measuring portion, the announcer relaxed a little.
And things were going just as expected. Most of the cultivators had low-grade mixed roots, while a few of them had medium grade roots. Wu Ning wowed the audience with his high-grade wind element spirit roots.
Things started to change after that because it was the Fang Clan’s turn.
“High-grade dual elements spirit roots.”
“High-grade four elements spirit roots.”
“High-grade… water element spirit roots.”
Every junior of the Fang Clan had high-grade spirit roots, no matter their element combination.
This was an unheard-of occurrence. Even in their own sects, there were only a handful of cultivators with high-grade spirit roots. For the whole clan to be like this…
The 5 sects may have been confused, but the Fang Clan knew that it was all thanks to the elemental foundations that the childish sages had given them.
The matriarch looked to them with feelings of gratitude.
Thinking back to the moment she heard Hei tell her that she didn’t have to become his maid if she didn’t want to, she couldn’t help thinking she made the right choice.
The Fang Clan she was looking at now was completely different from the Fang Clan of old. Better in every way. She had tried hard to improve it through her own efforts, but she would never have been able to do this much.
When the time came for Tianlan’s turn, instead of releasing him from the chains, Hei pushed him over to the stage, only opening up slits for his eyes and allowing him to move his hand onto the measuring stone.
After a long time, there was no reaction from the stone.
“This… No talent? How-”
The young man stopped his words when Hei pulled Tianlan back into his seat.
Oddly enough, the audience had no reaction, as if they expected as much.
Knowing that this meant that they didn’t disagree with the result, the young man continued.
“Then, Shao Hei, please come up.”
Hei walked to the measuring stone and placed his hand on it.
After a while, nothing happened.
Hei ignored the dumbstruck young man and walked back to his seat.
He was followed by Bai, who similarly showed no result.
Then it was Mei’s turn.
As she walked up to the stage, the audience stared at her intently.
They were sure that the childish sages had pulled some trick and that Mei was going to reveal the answer.
They had come to look to her for sense in this senseless world.
They watched as Mei placed her hand on the stone.
At first, there was no reaction, but then, all of a sudden, nothing in particular happened.
“This… How can this be?”
The young man watched as Mei skipped back to her seat next to Hei.
He turned to the four and asked.
“You all don’t have spirit roots?”
Everyone in the audience, the representatives included, all turned to the four.
The matriarch and the rest of the Fang Clan were also looking at them with wide eyes.
Noticing this, Hei had a bright smile as he spoke.
“That’s right. We are what you would call trashes.”