Chapter 49 – Bright Buddha Plucks the Lotus
“What a strong soul force.” Lin Ming thought with a hint of shock. Even Muyi’s soul force was inferior to this old man in terms of precision. Muyi was certainly someone who focused the majority of his life’s efforts on cultivating the martial path; being an inscription master was only an occupation he had on the side. But this old man was a professional inscription master. To a true lifelong inscription master, cultivating on the martial path was only a means to extend their lifespan and give them more time to study the infinite mysteries of inscription techniques. Such a person is truly awe inspiring in the achievements that they would accomplish in inscription.
Lin Ming stopped watching after a while and turned around to see Lin Xiaodong unblinkingly staring at the young girl. What a piggy little brother! Lin Ming felt a big headache coming as he saw Lin Xiaodong’s enraptured appearance. He immediately elbowed Lin Xiaodong. Lin Xiaodong was startled with some embarrassment. He was clever but had a slow mind, and scratched his head innocently.
By now Lin Ming had noticed a change in the fluctuations of the young girl’s soul force; there was a glimmer of volatility. The brilliant overlapping inscription symbols in front of her began to spark and smoke. It suddenly exploded into a cascade of colorful lights that shot out everywhere.
The young girl looked spent, and she said with a frustrated sigh, “Grandpa, I failed again.”
The old man who had been sitting peacefully as if he were meditating opened his eyes and said with a smile, “Yuhan, you already did very well. If this continues, after another few months or a year, you will be able to attain the certificate to become an inscription master. Before, grandfather here had attained his certificate when he was 18 years old. You will probably be 16, or 17 years old at the latest.
This girl was the Inscription Association’s talented inscription genius, Wang Yuhan, and the old man was her grandfather, the President of the Inscription Association, Wang Xuanji.
“Mmm… but compared to Qin Xingxuan, she is half a year younger than me and yet is already equally matched in inscription techniques with me. Also in these past few months there has been a significant reduction in the speed of my inscription progress and I don’t know why.”
Geniuses and talents would always end up comparing themselves with each other. Wang Yuhan admitted that there was no way she could pass Qin Xingxuan in terms of martial arts cultivation, but inscription was her main occupation and she did not want to lose to her in this.
Seeing Wang Yuhan and Wang Xuanji talking, the reception elder sister respectfully walked over and said, “Association President.”
“Mm? What’s the matter?”
The reception elder sister hesitated before he turned to Lin Ming and said, “This young man would like to participate in the inscription master examination.”
“What’s your name? How old are you?” Wang Xuanji asked.
Lin Ming hesitated a moment. He had not thought that this old man would be the Inscription Association’s president. In his capacity as president of the Inscription Association, it was unlikely that he would covet anything of Lin Ming’s. As long as he didn’t reveal his knowledge of medicinal inscription or body inscription that the Sky Fortune Kingdom did not possess, then he should have no problems.
Lin Ming was wary against the gangsters and criminals who would covet possessing him over a few tens of thousands of gold taels. As for Wang Xuanji and Muyi and other characters like them, they would only see Lin Ming as a talented inscription genius of the younger generation.
Thinking this, Lin Ming truthfully said, “Lin Ming, 15 years old.”
Hearing 15 years of age, Wang Yuhan’s eyes widened as she looked over Lin Ming up and down several times. Was this young boy also a genius? His age was younger than herself and his cultivation was not high; was this young boy just whiling away his time for some entertainment?
However the Inscription Association did not provide the materials or the rare treasure, and people who looked to mess around would not come here, as it would take several thousand gold taels. If they did then they would have to have some serious brain damage.
“You will need to provide your own materials and rare treasure, do you know this?”
“Mm. I know. I would like to purchase them from the Inscription Association.” Lin Ming took out a piece of paper with a small list of materials as he said this.
Lin Mind had decided upon the ‘Overwhelming Rune’, actually a simplified version. The simplified version did not need Sky Worm Silk and was naturally much easier. However, its effect was a bit weaker and it did not have an inscription technique in it.
His goal was only to pass the examination; there was no need to create a scene and shock everyone. The ‘Overwhelming Rune’ also contained some inscription techniques that had been lost in the Sky Fortune Kingdom, and Lin Ming did not want to expose these.
“If I could purchase these materials, thank you.” Lin Ming handed the detailed list to the reception elder sister.
The reception elder sister took the list in hand and received a nod of confirmation from Wang Xuanji. She said, “Very well. May I ask what sort of rare treasure you will use?”
“I want to use a sword. Yes, would the rare treasure belong to me after I place an inscription symbol on it?”
“Certainly. The treasure and the material are originally purchased by you for the examination. Please come and choose a sword with me.”
As Lin Ming left, Wang Yuhan was still looking at his back until he vanished, and she muttered, “Grandfather, this youth is only 15 years old and wants to test as an inscription master. If he passes the examination, then I will lose out not only to Qin Xingxuan but to him.”
Wang Xuanji replied with a smile, “The examination to be an inscription master is not some easy test. Since this young boy dares to take the test as an inscription master, then he must have his own unique ability, and is probably not someone from the Sky Fortune Kingdom. He might be a disciple of some reclusive master. Since his natural talent is outstanding and he practices diligently, he wishes to take the inscription master examination at 15 years of age and sweep away the younger generation of Sky Fortune City’s inscription talent, and create his own legacy and fame. Haha, but this is not that easy.”
As Wang Xuanji said this, he lit a sound transmitting talisman and passed a message to the two inscription masters who were usually responsible for the inscription examination, and bid them to come together.
Wang Yuhan bit her lip and whispered, “Mm, I will not lose to him. I will not lose to Qin Xingxuan.”
The Inscription Association had rare treasures they specifically kept to use in the examinations. Lin Ming looked at his options until he selected a very good long sword and said, “This one.”
This sword was valued at 3600 gold taels and was one of the more expensive treasures in the storehouse. The reception elder sister was a bit surprised; generally those that participated in the inscription master examination would choose a more modest and less expensive treasure. This young boy actually chose something so expensive; it must be that his family was ridiculously wealthy or he was confident in himself.
Lin Ming had his own ideas. Since he had to choose a rare treasure to use, he could not naturally choose something that would be wasted. It was best to choose a superior quality treasure to combine with a good inscription symbol to sell at a high price.
“Our treasures, once sold, cannot be exchanged.” The reception elder sister said. She did not want Lin Ming to feel as if he would be cheated, and wanted to make sure that this sword was the one he wanted.
Lin Ming took out four gold banknotes and said with a shy smile, “This I certainly know.”
“Mm. Then come along with me.”
After the payment had concluded, the reception elder sister brought Lin Ming to return to the examination room before she left.
After re-entering the inscription room, Lin Ming saw that two other people were in the room who looked to be about 40-50 years of age. One was a middle-aged man wearing a long green robe, and the other was a smiling man, who looked somewhat like a perpetually happy, very kind and very fat old man.
These two were the examination officials of the Inscription Association that were responsible for the inscription master examination. Wang Xuanji usually did not join these examinations, but this time had had some interest in staying and observing.
“Are you ready?” Wang Xuanji asked.
“Mm.” Lin Ming nodded. He placed the long sword on the inscription stone platform. The materials for this symbol began to unfold one at a time. The Inscription Associations materials had already been processed quite well, and did not require Lin Ming to grind, purify, melt, or do anything else to them.
The middle-aged man who wore a long green gown gave Lin Ming a blank look and said, “The time limit for this examination is two hours. If you have three consecutive failures then you will fail. If the end product has less than a 20% increase in strength, then that is also a fail.”
“Good. You may begin.” The middle-aged man turned over an hour glass, and the sand within began to silently pass.
Lin Ming sat in repose with his eyes closed for a moment. He revolved the true essence in his body until it reached an optimal condition, and then placed his hands outwards. A few small drops of blue colored juice jumped to his palm as if they were under Lin Ming’s control.
This was only a simple gesture, but the people present were able to feel the young man wrap the blue colored juice in a strong soul force.
“This soul force… I’m afraid this young man might be a fifth-grade talent.” Wang Xuanji said with surprise.
“No wonder he dares to take the test at only 15 years of age, he has some ability.” The middle-aged man said as he slowly nodded.
Wang Yuhan pursed her lips. She naturally also noted Li Ming’s soul force and she muttered in her heart. “Fifth-grade soul talent!? That’s the same as me. Before now the only rival I had was that Qin Xingxuan, now there is another!”
Fifth-grade talent was very rare. Generally speaking, a martial artist’s soul talent and martial talent did not have too large of a difference, but the soul talent was usually lower than the martial talent. Therefore a high grade soul talent was especially rare. If a fifth-grade martial talent was only seen once every decade, then a fifth-grade soul talent would be seen once every two, or even three decades.
Wang Yuhan’s martial talent was only fourth-grade, but her soul talent was actually higher than her martial talent. This was likely something that she inherited from her grandfather.
Wang Yuhan’s medium fifth-grade talent was absolutely the top tier of inscription talents that was only seen once every several dozen years. In addition, Wang Xuanji had been gently guiding Wang Yuhan since childhood. Now in terms of inscription techniques and talent, she was similar to Qin Xingxuan, but she was also older.
Lin Ming did not have a fifth-grade soul talent, but the soul law formula that he used was the ‘Overbearing Soul Tactic’, which originated from the Realm of the Gods. Therefore he was able to congeal his soul force well and give the impression that his arms had strings on them.
If that initial movement of Lin Ming’s had made Wang Xuanji feel startled, then the following movement made everyone doubt its possibility.
When the blue colored drops reached Lin Ming’s fingertips, his fingers moved in a series of movements like a blur. The droplets were gently pulled apart with the stretches of his fingers like they were glimmering azure meteors in the night sky. Faint afterimages followed each movement, like the tails of glistening meteors as they traced through the air.
In the time of a few blinks, a complex symbol had already been completed.
Wang Xuanji inhaled a sharp breath, and the smiling old man’s smile also froze.
“Bright Buddha Plucking the Lotus!”
A layman would only watch for fun, but an expert would see the way. Lin Ming’s hand movement was like the passing clouds and flowing rivers. There was a special term for this among inscription masters, called the ‘Bright Buddha Plucking the Lotus’. The Bright Buddha was an myth of ancient times called the Thousand Finger Buddha. The fable said that the Buddha had ten hands, each with a thousand fingers. Every year in the Bright Buddha’s garden, the water lotuses would bloom and he would collect the seeds. In a single move, the Bright Buddha was able to pick out hundreds of water lotus seeds. Therefore the ancient religious texts described this as ‘Bright Buddha Plucks the Lotus’, and the inscription masters co-opted this word to describe peerless great masters of inscription who would draw inscription symbols so speedily that there would be shadows left behind.
Certainly if they discussed only the speed of drawing, then some inscription masters with a higher cultivation in martial arts would be quicker, but if they wanted to maintain their soul force at such a high speed and not lose any stability or accuracy, then that would be more difficult than ascending to heaven. This sort of shadow that was created, one would only be able to practice it with heaven defying perception and painstaking effort!
This young boy was how old? Even if he started to practice inscription techniques from within his mother’s womb, he would not be so adept at such finger speed!