"Why should I stand down? The selection held by the Martial Ancestor Tower this time is open for all the ordinary disciples of the Blue Cloud Sect, and of course, that includes me as well!" Mike Qin stood on the high platform, facing a beautiful yet indifferent female elder. However, his insistence was refuted by her cold gaze along with the scattered waves of laughter coming from below the platform.
"Don't embarrass yourself. Stand down now," the elder uttered somberly for the third time.
"I will take the first round of the examination! Please, Master Clare." Neither haughty nor servile, Mike wasn't bothered by the crowd's judging stares at all.
"What an ingrate!" The elder, Clare Chu, snorted coldly. As she raised her hand, a massive martial aura surrounded Mike. It was as if a boulder of a hundred jins had descended from the sky and landed heavily on him. Jin was a unit of force used in the martial world; each jin was equivalent to a pound.
Standing in the middle of the platform, Mike groaned and resisted the force tenaciously. He glanced at the altar, not far away from where an incense stick was burning. As long as he could hold on until half of the incense stick was burned, he would pass the first round. Then, he would be able to participate in the next round and fight for one of the thirty places of the Martial Ancestor Tower.
Clare exerted more force with a blank face, and the aura she released was layered on top of each other. After a while, the force on Mike had accumulated up to 300 jin.
Mike clenched his teeth and persevered stubbornly. He did not move an inch despite the unbearable weight.
At this moment, the sneers of those under the platform gradually turned into gasps of surprise. They were taken aback, for Mike seemed to be able to hold it.
Meanwhile, Clare looked at Mike indifferently. The aura she released grew stronger and stronger by each passing second, as though enormous rocks were continuously smashing onto Mike.
It went from 300 jin to 400 jin, 500 jin, 600 jin...
Nonetheless, Mike stood on his feet firmly and was unyielding. He stared straight ahead at Clare, but when the force that enclosed him was at 800 jin, his body began to tremble. His eyes began to turn red, and blood oozed from the corner of his mouth.
"This is your fate," Clare spoke contemptuously, and she was ready to end this farce.
"You have no say in that." Just then, a bright red air current flowed from Mike's figure and brought up all the dust beneath his feet. His legs were quivering, as was his body. Following the impact of the air current, an electric arc suddenly burst forth from his body.
"Is he manifesting his Spiritual Power?" The audience was flabbergasted at this sight. Countless disciples covered their mouths in shock.
"To be able to manifest Spiritual Power, it means that he has entered the next stage. Did he actually break through the Spiritual Tempering Realm?"
One of the girls squealed, "Is that thunder? Oh my, he can concentrate his Spiritual Power into thunder!"
"Good lad, his talent is indeed amazing!"
In the distance, the elite disciples were all stupefied by Mike, and their eyes were filled with astonishment. This was incredible! However, looking at unwavering Mike, they shook their heads regretfully. What was the point of this? Mike clearly knew that he wouldn't be able to pass this test and that he shouldn't be bringing shame upon himself. This was his fate, and he could not change it.
The youngsters below the platform also shook their heads silently. The test conducted on this day was meant for the ordinary disciples of the sect to earn the places for the Martial Ancestor Tower. They were now at the sacred ground of the Blue Cloud Sect, a place that possessed various kinds of martial arts manual and skills. It was usually open only to elite disciples, but ordinary disciples were allowed to enter once every six months. This was a rare opportunity for them, and thousands of people were fighting to secure a spot for themselves.
Everyone wanted to fight for such a precious opportunity. Yet, such a golden chance could not be bestowed on Mike, for he was a sinner's son.
Mike was an exceptional disciple and was more excellent than most of his peers.
Nevertheless, it didn't matter because he was the son of a sinner. To others, he was here not to gain experience but to suffer.
Clare gazed at Mike with sympathy and regret, but her eyes were shrouded with even more coldness. She stated, "I will ask you one last time. Will you stand down?"
"Never! I can hold on until the incense stick burns into half and I'll pass the test! When I pass the test, I'll be able to enter the second round." Mike was resolute to endure the heavy force released by Clare, and the dazzling electric arcs were swarming all over his body. He glanced at the incense stick in the middle of the arena again and realized it would soon be the time.
Clare suddenly clenched her right hand before a clear wave of air blast emerged. The vast pressure was like a mountain collapsing on Mike's body.
Instantly, blood spewed out from Mike's mouth as he fell heavily onto the ground. His face was flushed while his Qi and blood were churning within his body.
"You have failed the test!"
Clare looked at the beaten Mike and declared his fate.
"You..." Mike lay on the ground, gasping heavily.
According to the rules, an elder who was also an examiner was required to release their aura to suppress challengers. Normally, Clare would use around twenty percent of her aura to examine the challenger's potential and perseverance. On the other hand, the challenger only needed to hold on for half of the burning time of an incense stick to pass the test. However, in the blink of an eye, she had released at least seventy to eighty percent of her aura earlier.
Clare, a martial artist of the Earth Martial Realm, had browbeaten Mike, who was merely a disciple of the Spiritual Martial Realm.
The cultivation of martial arts was divided into the Spiritual Martial Realm, the Xuan Martial Realm, the Earth Martial Realm, the Holy Martial Realm, the Heaven Martial Realm, the Yellow Martial Realm, the Immortal Martial Realm, and so on. Before entering the Spiritual Martial Realm, one needed to experience a long period of spiritual tempering phase. Only after completing this phase could they condense their Spiritual Bodies and enter the Spiritual Martial Realm.
Each realm was vastly different, and there was a gap between each that was difficult to cross. For children like Mike who was barely fifteen years of age, being able to withstand the aura of a martial artist from the Earth Martial Realm like Clare until the incense stick burned into half was already his maximum limit. However, Clare had actually forcefully made Mike lose the challenge. It was clear that she didn't want to give him any chance.
"Accept your fate. You shouldn't eye for the things that don't belong to you, and you shouldn't have come to places that you don't belong. If you don't pass the first round, you won't have the chance to fight in the second round. Go back and be the servant as you will always be." After saying this, Clare turned around and was about to leave.
All of a sudden, the crowd cried out in surprise. Mike had abruptly jumped onto his feet and threw a punch at Clare with his clenched right fist. He bellowed, "I want a rematch! Take this!"
To everyone's surprise, all the lightning arcs had gathered on his fist and were shining brightly. This was definitely not something a newbie martial artist of the Spiritual Martial Realm could have accomplished.
Clare swiftly turned around and brushed past Mike. Then she reached out her palm and hit Mike on his abdomen.
As her palm collided into his body, Mike spat out more blood and flew backward, falling off the platform and landing on the ground. His body only came to a stop after rolling three to five times.
"Could it be that Mike is at the second stage of the Spiritual Martial Realm?" Many disciples discussed amongst themselves and speculated on Mike's strength. It was impossible for a martial artist at the first stage to concentrate his Spiritual Power to such a powerful level. At this time, they all thought that Mike was indeed a genius. He had been relying on his own to reach this level. The other disciples were even wondering how powerful Mike would be if he was not the son of a sinner and was carefully trained by the Blue Cloud Sect. Unfortunately, he was born into the wrong family.
Mike struggled to stand up before he spat out a mouthful of blood once again. He was on the verge of collapsing. There was a burning pain in his abdomen from the momentous force he had just received.
The surrounding crowd dispersed, and no one came forward to help him up. On the other side, a few teenagers stared at Mike as they started jeering.
"Oh, what an interesting show Young Master Mike has just performed for us. Come on, let's applaud him. His performance was quite good."
One of them chuckled while commenting, "In your face. I can't believe you're bold enough to sneak attack an elder."
"You're too arrogant! You deserve it!"
Another hissed, "You were being so prideful and so full of yourself. Why can't you even stand now? Would you like me to help you?"
"Admit it, you are here simply as a sacrifice and redemption for your parents. You're just here to gain atonement for the 200 thousand citizens of Ancient City of Lightning." They poured scorn on Mike mercilessly.
Mike suddenly raised his head and glared at them with his reddened eyes.
A shiver went up the few disciples' spines, and they shut their mouths immediately, averting their gazes away from Mike. They often fought with Mike, but most of the time, they were on the losing side and would get beaten up into pulps. Hence, they were afraid of Mike.
At this time, Clare marched down from the test platform and stood face to face with Mike. Her voice was as callous and impassive as her expression. "Get out of here. Return to the warehouse and be the servant you ought to be. It's impossible for the Blue Cloud Sect to take you in and train you. You'd better not participate in any other tests in the future."
After catching his breath for a while, Mike patted off the dust on his body and grinned. He looked carefree, but his mouth was stained with blood, which only made his appearance all the scarier and more intimidating. He replied, "There will come a day when I win the spot I deserve in the Blue Cloud Sect. I will become better than all of you, just so you wait and see."
Clare patted Mike on his shoulder and said, "If you are truly smart, you should understand the reality and do what you should do to atone for your parents' sins."
Mike shook off her hand and left with large strides. He looked extremely terrifying with his bloody mouth. The frightened crowd moved and made way for him. However, soon after that, a few noble young men and women walked over to him.
The leader of the group was a handsome but proud young man. His name was Liam Zhao, and he had a very high status amongst the ordinary disciples. He was also Clare's personal disciple, but it was not because he was outstanding but because his sister was Clare's beloved disciple.
Clare was the examiner of the selection of Martial Ancestor Tower this year, so Liam would definitely be able to pass the test and earn a place out of the thirty spots.
"Hey, aren't you Young Master Mike? Are you also here to participate in the test?"
Liam stood in front of Mike as he looked at the latter with a hint of concern. However, it could not hide the mockery in his eyes. He had been beaten up by Mike many times before, but from now onwards, their fates were finally about to change. Liam would enter the Martial Ancestor Tower to learn the powerful martial arts and become the personal disciple of an elder. His future would be limitless. Whereas for Mike, he would continue to stay in the warehouse and be a puny servant.
Mike didn't want to talk to Liam, so he continued to walk forward.
Liam reached out and stopped Mike, saying, "Young Master Mike, are you in a bad mood? But why? I'm in such high spirits..."
Before he could finish his words, Mike suddenly whirled his head around and raised his hand as though he was about to throw a punch at Liam. He looked incredibly fierce with his mouth full of blood.
Liam was slightly shocked at it, and he took a few steps back in while being watched by the crowd.
However, Mike had only raised his hand to wipe the blood from the corner of his mouth. He sneered contemptuously and said, "You call yourself a personal disciple? How timid. Get out of my way."
Clare frowned when she witnessed this. It was clear that she was unhappy with Liam for being startled so easily.
Of course, Liam noticed Clare's disapproving expression. His cheeks flushed in embarrassment and he nearly wanted to go and pick a fight with Mike. Nonetheless, he was pulled back by the surrounding people. The test was more important. There were thousands of disciples present, and it would be better for him to deal with Mike next time.
Liam held in his fury and hatred as he watched Mike leave. This was a perfect opportunity for him to show off, but he had embarrassed himself instead. Secretly, Liam snorted disdainfully and swore to vanquish Mike later.
Mike left the exam hall and headed toward the warehouse of the Blue Cloud Sect.
Along the way, many disciples of the Blue Cloud Sect laughed at Mike as they walked past him. They were used to his bloodstained appearance and his disheveled state. Some of them ignored him; some sympathized with him; some others shook their heads. There were also some people who mocked him from afar, telling him to be an obedient servant as any sinner should be. Mike had been stirring up trouble frequently, and the others found it to be a miracle that he could survive to this day.
Not only that, but they also mocked him for his name that sounded ridiculous to their ears, for the word 'Mike' rhymed with the word 'fate' in their language. Indeed, what a pitiful fate Mike had!