Chapter 139 – Creative
“Okay then! Next!”Pausing, Zuo Qiu Ming then focused his attention towards the participants.
A total of eleven candidates passed the first round. All nine of them who took the test after Ye Wei and Zhang Han performed well. Therefore, round two took more than an hour.
Only five out of eleven passed the second round in the end, including Ye Wei, and Lu Feng achieved the best result at six mirages.
Lu Feng’s talent intimidated Ye Wei. Although six years younger, he inwardly competed against him. Ye Wei couldn’t help compare himself with his nemesis.
Though Ye Wei expanded his knowledge on runes only years ago, his emotions blinded him from the fact that Lu Feng had began training and taught runic knowledge by Master Mu longer than Wei had even lived! There was no way he could outshine Lu Feng just yet.
“You may take an hour break before we start the third test – the final part of the exam.! Passing gains you a place in our union and the title Runemaster!” Zuo Qiu Ming looked at Ye Wei, Lu Feng and the other three who passed round two. He solemnly announced this only after the failed candidates had exited the side hall.
The third task was the most dreaded. All the previous effort would be wasted if they failed the third round. These were the reasons why Zuo Qiu Ming decided to give the candidate an hour to prepare for the most important part of the exam. Thus, in order for them to tackle the arduous finale he decided they should be in their best condition.
“Stance creation is not something I’d deem difficult.” Smiling arrogantly, Lu Feng muttered to himself while disdainfully glancing at the agitated faces around him.
His confidence originated from his experience of creating a mid-level Spirit stance in just twelve hours and knowing he only had to compose a low-level Spirit stance.
“Creating a stance…” Ye Wei slowly took a few deep breaths. He appeared slightly anxious as he was on the verge of tackling a difficult challenge he had never faced before. Unlike the first two challenges that Master Yi touched on while training, stance creation depended on understanding and being in a creative process.
Ye Wei’s heightened senses heard what Lu Feng mumbled a few meters away, and thought ‘Lu Feng looks way too confident! I will have to pass this test too, I can’t stand still while he is just getting stronger and more influential…’ Ye Wei clenched his fist, haunted by the idea of Lu Feng possibly using his powers to overtake the Ye family again.
‘I have to use my time well, being upset does not allow me a better position to pass the last round.’ He stopped looking at Lu Feng, cleared his mind and began to use the Falling Star form to maximize his condition.
Apart from the two youngsters, the other three older candidates also had their eyes closed, optimizing their minds and bodies for the task ahead.
“I have been supervising this entry test for three years now, and I have seen more failing candidates than the stars in the sky, most of which failed in the third finale.” Zuo Qiu Ming murmured.
‘I kind of like today’s participants; I hope they’ll work something out. It’s tiring seeing people’s efforts wasted everyday! Especially the young ones, we haven’t had young blood entering the union for a while now…’ He sighed and thought to himself.
An hour quickly passed as the candidates focused on preparing themselves.
“This is it. If you pass this test, you will become dragons. All of you are aspiring Runemasters, you know how important this is!”
“My advice? Relax. Let your experience and intuition guide you through.”
“It’s okay. If you fail, do not despair. We have thousands of candidates enter every year, and only two or three get through. We’ve had years when nobody passed the entry exam, so do not despair if your fears come true.” Zuo Qiu Ming looked at the five potential Runemasters’ slightly nervous faces, speaking calmly.
“You have twenty-four hours to create a low-level Spirit stance. Furthermore, if you can create a mid-level Spirit stance, you will directly become a two-star Runemaster, creating a high-level Spirit stance will make you a three-star Runemaster!”
“Attitude is everything. It is normal to make mistakes, the most important thing is to learn from those mistakes and use them as a point of reference instead of them affecting your mood!”
Zuo Qiu Ming’s advice sounded loud and clear in the candidates’ ears. He made a few hand seals then three hundred and thirty-six shining runes appeared in front of him.
“These are the only runes you are allowed to use. As much as we would like, we can not learn every rune in the world. See this is your first lesson: using limited runes is what you need to be prepared to do. There will always be limitations when you create something!”
“You may begin now!” An hourglass appeared in Zuo Qiu Ming’s hand. He tipped it upside down as he spoke.
All five candidates without delay focused their attention, trying to remember all the runes they were given. Without knowing the runes, they would never be able to begin the test.
Zuo Qiu Ming waved his arm, summoning pillars of white light. Five pillars fell on each of the candidates, encapsulating them to ensure they couldn’t talk to each other, and they won’t be disturbed from occurrences in the hall.
“These are all basic runes…” Ye Wei sat himself in the lotus position; with his eyes closed, the three hundred and thirty-six runes appeared in his mind.
The energy flow and structure of runes can be similar, but they are never identical. Both runes positioning and sequence order are, therefore, very important for Runemasters. Their rune consonance will allow them to manipulate runes better than ordinary cultivators. Additionally, Runemaster’s rune knowledge will give them better insights to each runes’ structure and energy flow, and their soul sensitivity will allow them to actually feel the macro energy flow in the sequence as they try to put the runes together.
The fact that all five candidates were able to get this far proved that they excelled in these three categories. Their main challenge would find the creativity to construct these runes together in a unique working order.
Ideas come and go, Runemasters would travel distances just to have fresh points of view, to take themselves out of familiar surroundings to gain inspiration, and some even risked their lives by observing wild beasts’ ways in close proximity. They empower their bodies to mimic, interpret and make stances out of what they saw from the world around them.
Another way for richer Runemasters to conceive innovative and new stances was to study rare runes that naturally grew on wild beasts’ bones.
But in the sidehall, the candidates did not have access to any of those sources of inspiration. They would have to try and adjust their ideas from their errors. They would fail a hundred times to achieve that one successful time.
Stance creation was a lot about experience and practise, without either, Runemasters would not be able to make stances as they would struggle to know where they should start. That was precisely why Lu Feng and Zuo Qiu Ming did not see Ye Wei passing the exam at his age. He had no accumulation of experience regardless of the level of talent he displayed in the first two rounds.
Ye Wei remembered the three hundred and thirty-six runes rather effortlessly. He was familiar with the properties and style of each of the runes given, but he was stuck. His mind wandered, struggling to find a starting point.
“Okay now what!?” Ye Wei grumbled to himself, “Wwhy didn’t I try making something up when I had the time to…”
He had seen Master Yi struggle in creating stances and naturally knew that it was not a repeatable process. Sometimes Master Yi would suddenly stop in the middle of eating a meal. He would then go to the training room to finish or even start creating a stance.
Ye Wei scratched his head, dabbled for two hours trying to put runes together. Yet, even assembling five runes together had proven to be a challenge for Ye Wei. Without experience, he direly needed inspiration, or else he would never be able to start creating a stance. Only if his soul sensitivity was ten times stronger could he create a stance without accumulated experience, but Ye Wei didn’t have that either. This would make it possible for him to quickly and continuously reassemble the runes and discover which of the combinations were developable and which were not.
With Ye Wei’s current soul sensitivity, putting five runes together at a time was his limit, a far cry from thirty-six, which was the minimum amount of runes to make a low-level Spirit stance.
Ye Wei gazed upon the other candidates, apart from Lu Feng who was calmly and methodically putting runes together with his eyes closed, the older candidates were obviously struggling too.
It was no secret that Lu Feng came prepared. Master Mu briefed him. On the other hand, Master Yi did not give Ye Wei any information regarding the exam as he wanted Ye Wei to learn from improvising.
“No, I can’t let myself spiral!” Ye Wei bit his lips hard, intimidated by Lu Feng’s smug face and calm posture.
As time slowly passed by, Ye Wei became increasingly anxious.
‘Hahaha! Are you stuck kid?’ A demonic voice sounded in Ye Wei’s mind, the gloating laughter caused him to completely lose focus.
‘Not now! Shut up!’ Ye Wei felt extremely anxious. He feared that if Lu Feng passed and he didn’t, the Ye family would more than likely lose their ancestral land at North Hill Bay.
‘Your temper reflects your age well. I was going to help you but never mind!’ The Black Scale Progenitor’s evil chuckle filled Ye Wei’s mind.
‘Help? From you? I am not five years old; you will need to be more creative if you want to trick me.’ Ye Wei said coldly.
‘What will I get from you? You are just a one-star condensed prime Warrior!’ The Progenitor grunted, ‘I, on the other hand, am just bored, and I kind of pity you. You have the Mystic Mountain, but you don’t even know how to use it! Hahaha! It’s so comical! Kid, the scale in your possession contains my energy. If you are able to infuse the energy flow within the scale, there is a chance you can create something strong as a Heaven stance.’
‘It should be effortless for you to create a Spirit stance out of it, maybe a Myst stance if you are not completely stupid!’ the Progenitor chuckled. He knew that if Ye Wei began to practice demon techniques, it would only be a matter of time before Ye Wei would become his puppet.
‘Shut up, I will not fall for your traps and tricks!’ Ye Wei frowned. Although desperate for help, he learned from his experience dealing with the Progenitor to act cautiously.
Half of the sand reached the bottom of the hourglass. Ye Wei became increasingly anxious as he struggled to put anything together. Large drops of sweat appeared on his forehead as he watched the grains of sand fall down.
“Done!” Lu Feng flicked his sleeves and slowly stood up.
The moment Lu Feng completed his stance, a soft pillar of light descended from the sky. All the pores on his skin loosened up and expanded. Because it was not his first time creating a mid-level Spirit stance, he did not receive a whole lot of comic energy; his cultivation only improved slightly from it.
“Mid-level Spirit stance, very nice!” Zuo Qiu Ming smiled while looking at the stance in front of Lu Feng. He was satisfied being the supervisor who witnessed the first Runemaster to pass the entry exam this year.
He continued as he patted Lu Feng’s shoulder, “when the exam is over, there will be a pilgrimage ceremony, after which, you may call yourself a two-star Runemaster!”
“Thank you!” Lu Feng’s lips curled into a smile, ecstatic to become a part of the Lu family, ‘I would love to see if Master Yi would dare to interfere in the Lu’s business. It took me three years, but the land next to North Hill Bay is finally within my reach again!’
Opposite to Lu Feng, Ye Wei clenched his fist in the light pillar, his veins bulged as he saw his family’s enemy finishing the challenge ahead of time.
‘Haha! You only have twelve hours left kid. Time is running out on you!’ The Progenitor’s laugh resounded inside Ye Wei’s head, the sinister laugh and offer was inescapable.