Chapter 136 – The Jade Quest Walls
Ye Wei slowly rose his head and stepped through the doors at the statue’s feet. At the exact moment his toes touched the jade tile, he was stopped by an impressionable young lady.
“Sir, you’re in the Runemaster Union. If you are not a Runemaster or have not been referred here by a Runemaster then I am afraid you must leave the premises,” Li Xue worked at the Ning City branch for a while, and with just a casual glance she could tell that Ye Wei was not an official.
She politely and professionally dismissed Ye Wei from this sacred ground. She knew from experience that many student cultivators who participated in the tournament paid their branch a visit during their free time. That being the assumption, she did not realize Ye Wei was a student of a Runemaster. Furthermore, Li Xue ruled out the possibilities of Ye Wei carrying a letter of recommendation with him, considering his young age.
“I am here to participate in the Runemaster qualification exam!” Ye Wei replied with a friendly smile and a look of acknowledgment, knowing his right to be there.
“Participate in the exam?!” Li Xue looked closer at Ye Wei; she was astonished to hear the words that came out of this boy who looked no more than sixteen years old. ‘I have worked here for three years as an attendant, and I have seen more talents who were sent here by their masters than you can ever imagine; you are just too young even to make the joke funny!!’
“This is not a place for silly jokes brat!” Li Xue, losing her temper, refused even to consider the possibilities of Ye Wei’s words being real. Her voice deepened as she became angered by what she thought was a prank.
“No really! I am here to participate in the exam. Here is my letter of recommendation.” Ye Wei reached inside his bag for the letter. He then respectfully handed it over to Li Xue.
“This is a letter from… Master Yi!?” Li Xue opened the scroll; her eyes followed the flowing runes and widened as they recognized a scrappy signature that was well known.
Master Yi was one of the few powerful Runemasters looking to become a grand-Runemaster. His name and reputation had crossed the wall of Green Moon City long ago.
“I understand now; I apologize for my attitude, please follow me this way,” Li Xue carefully handed the letter back over to Ye Wei. It was unimaginable for her that this child in front of her was recommended by such a famous figure in the region.
“It’s okay! Don’t worry!” Ye Wei nodded and followed Li Xue deeper into the statue.
Once Ye Wei exited the entrance room, a spacious hall appeared before his eyes. There was a handful of white-haired but baby-faced elderly standing in the middle of the hall chattering.
Towards the front of the hall, there were seventy-two large jade walls. Each of them was around two meters tall and six meters wide. Their surfaces were engraved with thousands of tiny shining letters.
All of the elderly were well-established Runemasters who focused their attention at the jade walls, pondering.
“May I ask what these are?” Ye Wei pointed at the walls, curious and confused.
“These are the jade walls of answers!” Li Xue whispered near Ye Wei’s ears, afraid that she would disturb the elders’ thought processes.
“The Runemaster Union spans across the continent, even across borders, and is spread throughout the mainland; but at the same time, we want our members to be unified and connected. All the union members can access this wall in their local branch. They can pay a small fee to have a question they need to be answered listed on one of them.”
Ye Wei saw the similarities of runic flow between the statues’ energy and these walls,’ fascinated, he thought that Xiang Xian must have helped setting up the union when they build the communication system.
Informative information spilled out of Li Xiu, “when a member answers any of these questions; they will gain contribution tokens. This currency is technically a hundred times more valuable than silver or gold! Members can use these tokens to buy powerful stances, specialized rune manifestos or even demon blood, beast bones, enchanted scrolls and other ingredients needed to craft mystic scrolls and arms.”
“Answering these questions on the walls is one of the main ways for members to gain these tokens. The questions further away from the ground are harder than the ones near the ground. Solving the harder questions reaps more reward for the elderly. Nonetheless, each reward equals the difficultness of the answer..” Li Xue tried to compensate her previous rudeness to Master Yi’s apprentice by acting as professional as she could.
“Okay, I see now, thanks for the information.” Ye Wei answered gratefully. He appreciated Li Xue’s friendliness and professionalism. He then glimpsed at the questions lower down on the wall, seeing if he could answer a few of them.
“These issues are too hard for you. As well, they are not what you are here for, so let’s just leave them with the experienced and wise. The exam you will attend is going to occur in one of the side halls. We have a daily quota of only twenty-two candidates; however, you are lucky that you arrived this early. If you had come an hour later, then you would have to visit again earlier tomorrow. ,” the pair quickly walked through the hallways towards the exam venue.
“Here we are, is there anything else I can help you with before I take my leave?”
Ye Wei shook his head, “No, I am fine. Thank you though for your help.”
“If you need any more information you know where to find me.” Li Xue smiled, bowed and then returned to her post.
Inside the sidehall, a small crowd had gathered and chatted away. They turned and looked briefly at Ye Wei as he walked in. In their minds, they thought he was just a waterboy and of no consequence. His age made him appear lesser than he truly was. They did not heed Ye Wei and returned to chatting about the exam.
Ye Wei sat on one of the chairs near the hall’s entrance. Waiting patiently, he sat cultivating until a keyword caught his attention.
“Brother Lu, you have the exam in your pocket, right?”
A youngster was surrounded by three cultivators in their thirties, showered by words of flattery.
“Yeah, Lu Feng, you are only twenty-two, but if you pass the exam, you will be the record-holder for the youngest cultivator ever qualified to become a Runemaster in the outer region! None of the cultivators in the thirty-six cities has qualified younger than the age of twenty-five!”
Lu Feng was handsome in a conventional way. He wore a discreet, yet wicked smile. His faded gold robe that he was wearing made him look even taller and slimmer than he actually was. In his hand, he held a folding fan gripped with his long and slender fingers. His hair was styled in a high and tidy bun. Regarding appearance, he was the kind of person that attracted and pulled in the opposite gender’s attention; nevertheless, his cockiness and wittiness, at the same, turned them off.
“Lu Feng…” Ye Wei frowned. He recognized the name from the conversations which occurred three years ago between his family and the Du family. He examined Lu Feng, giving the evil figure who schemed against his family a face. The man who put his family in danger, ‘ this person is the villain behind the Du’s plan to take over our ancestral land!’ Ye Wei was furious. He remembered why he should be grateful for his Master for the rest of his life. If the Runemaster had not intervened, his family would have existed today.
After the incidence at Ye family’s arena, Ye Wei did research on Lu Feng during his free time. He learned that Lu Feng was the legacy apprentice of one of the three active Runemasters in Green Moon City. Who was also rumored to be the result of an affair between Master Mu and a woman with a powerful background. Concerning cultivation, Lu Feng was very gifted. He was already a four-star condensed prime Warrior at the age of only twenty-two, and he was ahead of a lot of older cultivators that were his senior.
“Lu Feng, don’t forget about us when you pass the exam! We will even work for you!”
“Only if you are willing to be led by me. Then, of course, yeah! There is always strength in numbers, and I’m sure we can work something together!” Lu Feng smugly laughed. He enjoyed having his ego stroked; the attention he received raised his eyebrows up showcasing his pride.
Now, contrary to grovelers, none of these three flatterers were weak. They were all talented individuals from influential martial families. Additionally, their masters were no weaker than Master Mu. They were only trying to make a connection to his mother’s family.
How come? Lu Feng’s mother was a family member of the Qing State. The Lu’s not only one of the four biggest families in the state were also related to one of the dynasty’s three royal families. There were a handful of returned prime Warriors in the Lu family.
The Lu family did not approve of Lu Feng’s identity not just because he was a product of an illicit affair but that his mother was a part of the family. However, the family officials decided if Lu Feng could prove himself worthy by passing the Runemaster exam, they would include him in their clan.
Once the Lu family recognized Lu Feng, his status would change dramatically. Knowing that information and his talents, the three cultivators, were trying every trick in the book just to get themselves on this future star’s side.
Near Lu Feng, a few middle-aged cultivators were standing close together avidly discussing something.
“I don’t think my rune consonance is good enough for refining and creating stances; I never thought it would be this hard to pass the exam. This is my sixth time here!” one of the participants, an older man who looked sixty years of age complained to his friends.
Besides Ye Wei and Lu Feng, there were around twenty people in the sidehall. Most of them were more than forty years of age and had taken the exam in the past.
“It is what it is. I think that the tests are rather simple, especially, when it comes to refinement and soul sensitivity, creating stances are hard but only in a relative sense. I was fiddling with a few runes a couple days ago and made a mid-level Spirit stance in twelve hours,” Lu Feng leisurely stated. He had been training with Master Mu to become a Runemaster ever since he was young. This time he confidently came to Ning City to pass the exam only in one try.
All of the faces in the side hall shown bewilderment at what they just heard. Lu Feng managed to create a mid-level spirit stance!? Impossible! A stance creation was the third and last task of the entrance exam which most of the returning participants could not accomplish. They found it incredulous to believe that a man half their age was capable of such a feat and they were not.
Most stances are made of runes; the process of creating stances is mentally and physically demanding. Therefore, it is usually imperfect. Creating a stance required a space for improvement, just like the stances Ye Wei helped his cousin and Cao Ning perfect.
To refine a stance, one must first learn how the stance works. Ye Wei had understood five out of seven of the Glacial Emperor’s Selenic stances. Because the stances were a creation of a genius, he was having problems finding defects in the Emperor’s creations.
Moreover, when it came to creating stances, it was even harder than refinement. To create an original stance, one needs to have great understanding in individual runes and the mental capacity to incorporate runes together as a whole. One needs to know how to make them hold the users’ Qi as well as amplify the energy as it flows through the rune sequence.
‘I must do better than Lu Feng!’ Ye Wei was finally feeling a pressure he had never felt before. He clenched his fist as he stared at the cocky acting man. The same man who plotted against his family three years ago.