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The Cloud Stairs were like the half of a huge overpass. The staircase was over a thousand feet wide, and it was said that there were a total of eighteen thousand steps on it. The Cloud Steps began at the center of the plaza, and its highest point was connected to a vast platform, which hovered in the sky through the effects of a spell formation. It was known as the Cloud Scaling Platform, and it was linked to the peaks of the five mountains via floating passageways, creating a truly spectacular sight to behold.
There were many people flying around in the air atop beasts, as well as some Spirit Martial Stage warriors who took to the skies before descending onto the plaza, one after the other.
There were a lot of people on the plaza; some of them were just there to spectate, but there was a group of young people who were waiting in a special area.
‘The queue looks quite long…’
Feng Hemu stood within the crowd in his chainmail armor, and looked up with a slightly dazed expression into the clouds. He had finally made it to the capital after much difficulty, and had since reunited with a few acquaintances.
“Brother Tian, it looks like pretty much everyone from the Celestial River County is here.” Feng Hemu turned to Tian Shou and said.
“Indeed. I was staying at the same inn as Sun Changyu of the Sun family on the way here, so he should arrive soon as well… In addition to the eight people we have here, that makes nine.”
“Which means we’re only missing…”
The eight people present looked at one another, and nothing more needed to be said.
The only one missing was Qi Ying. No one had heard any information about Qi Ying for an entire month. They were all from the same county with no one to rely on in the capital, so it was always nice to have more companions.
Furthermore, even though all of them had competed with one another during the youth tournament, they didn’t actually hold any personal grudge toward Qi Ying.
In the Yun Xiao Academy, aptitude was paramount, and cultivation base came second. All of them knew that Qi Ying was going to ascend to far greater heights than them in the future.
After seeing some of the other Yun Xiao Academy disciples, they felt like it would be difficult for them to even make it into the Crimson Class. The upper limit of their cultivation base would probably cap off at around the Third Spirit Martial Stage, which placed them in the dead-bottom Jade Class.
If they could establish closer relations with a prodigy like Qi Ying, it would be greatly beneficial to them in the future!
They were thinking that with Qi Ying’s aptitude, he would at least be able to make it into the Crimson Class. If he could get into the Green Class, then that would give them even more reason to try and get closer to him!
Even though banding together for strength in numbers wasn’t as glamorous as running solo, it was necessary for survival in harsh environments!
In comparison to the other prodigies, they were simply far too pitiful!
At that moment, An Shaoping suddenly said, “Look, Sun Changyu is here!”
Their group immediately strode over to Sun Changyu’s horse-drawn carriage, and they gathered to make some small talk.
All of a sudden, one of them noticed something in the sky and exclaimed, “Isn’t that the the Black Mystical Beast from our Celestial River County Colosseum? I’ve seen it once before!”
Everyone looked up to find a griffin-like beast descending from the sky, landing not too far away from them. Two people jumped down from the Black Mystical Beast, and one of them immediately drew their attention.
Elation appeared in their eyes upon seeing him.
It was Qi Ying!
“Go on, I’ll wait for you at the plaza.”
Qi Ying bade farewell to Master Thirteen, and made his way over to the waiting area designated for disciples. However, he only took a few steps before suddenly being surrounded by a bunch of people.
“Young Master Qi, you’re finally here!”
“Young Master Qi, we’ve been waiting for you for a long time… You rode the Black Mystical Beast here, right? That’s so badass!”
“Of course! Young Master Qi is not inferior to any of the prodigies in the capital, so he naturally deserves the best steed!”
Qi Ying looked at the people around him with a dumbstruck expression.
‘What’s going on?’
Those were all people who were trying to kill him a month ago, but they had all suddenly become very enthusiastic toward him, as if they were old friends who had finally been reunited.
The last time that he saw them, they were still trying to hunt him down for his badges… So what could have resulted in their drastic change in attitude toward him?
Little did Qi Ying know that among all of the rumors about him circulating in the Celestial River County, the most commonly-accepted one was that he was Master Thirteen’s b*stard child, while Master Thirteen hailed from one of the seven major families, the Yan family!
In the Yun Xiao Kingdom, anyone who could draw any connection between themselves and one of the seven major families—even if they were merely servants there—would be different from normal people.
Thus, everyone saw Qi Ying in a different light.
Even Sun Changyu seemed to have forgotten that Qi Ying was the one who had killed Sun Zhixing. In fact, he was displaying more enthusiasm toward Qi Ying than anyone else, as if he were afraid that the latter would hold a grudge against him.
“Come with us, Young Master Qi, the Cloud Steps Trial is going to commence in half an hour! We’ll take you to register first!”
Qi Ying was feeling extremely uncomfortable from the special treatment he was receiving, but he still allowed himself to be led to the registration venue. After filling out some simple forms, he received a green jade badge, upon which one side was inscribed with his name, while the other was divided into five even segments.
One of the people from the Celestial River County—whom Qi Ying didn’t even know the name of—launched into an eager explanation, “Young Master Qi, the five segments on the badge represents the five sections of the trial. After passing through each section, the corresponding segment on the badge will change color. There are five colors; white represented the lowest aptitude, and after that in ascending order comes red, green, purple, and black! After the trial, we’ll be split up into different classes based on the colors on our badges!”
Qi Ying nodded and asked, “Oh… so what do the colors have to do with the classes?”
“Ahem…” Feng Hemu cut off the person who had made the initial introduction, and continued in his stead, “Young Master Qi, white, red, green, purple, and black are all representative colors! If all three or more of the segments end up being white, then that person would definitely be assigned to the Jade Class. If it’s two whites and three reds, then it’s possible to get into the Crimson Class, while two whites, two reds, and a green will guarantee a spot in the Crimson Class… Similarly, two greens and three reds gives one a very high chance of entering the Green Class… In any case, the darker the color of the segments, the better!”
“I get it now.”
‘As expected of the academy where all of the top prodigies in the kingdom gather. The five trials can determine one’s aptitude in different areas, thereby determining the upper limit on their future progression. On top of that, the academy can also then tailor curriculums to fit different disciples based on their talents, thus resulting in a more efficient distribution of cultivation resources.’
‘In terms of aptitude, I have a special bloodline, and Master Thirteen says my basal properties are quite exceptional. I also have outstanding affinity toward vital energy of heaven and earth… so I should be able to get into the Green Class at least!’
No matter how he thought about it, he was well set to enter a very high-level class!
Qi Ying gripped his jade badge tightly in his hand, and his eyes shimmered with excitement as he said to everyone, “Let’s all go together! I can already see some people on the Cloud Steps!”
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