Record of the Great Chong, May, early summer.
The final test of the Divine Warrior Examination that was held once every four years, the court examination, was finally underway.
The location of the court examination was held near Chang’an at a place called Great Chong Island. Three thousand six hundred jinshi from thirty-six provinces followed the imperial carriage to arrive at Great Chong Island.
At the center of the island was an enormous basin approximately a hundred square kilometers in size. Inside was dense vegetation, with trees concealing the sky. This depression was called “Pagoda Basin.” In the middle of the Pagoda Basin, there was a pagoda that towered into the heavens. It was visible even from a few kilometers away, as if it was a sword stuck into the center of the island.
From this point, Chen Mo clearly sensed the faint spiritual power.
This pagoda was named the “Seven Treasures Pagoda.”
Last night, Chen Mo learned from his elder sister some of the things in the Divine Warrior Examination’s final assessment.
This “Seven Treasures Pagoda” was a Vast Desolation Spirit Treasure. It was said that it was created to model the universe’s Spirit Treasure, “Twelve Story Pagoda.” Star World’s treasures were numerous, mostly split into Astral Treasure, Magic Treasure,1 Ancient Treasure, and Spirit Treasures. The first three all required Star Energy, magic energy, or True Qi to operate. Ancient Treasures were passed on from antiquity and had many peculiar restriction, but of these, only Spirit Treasures could be used by everyone in Star World.
Heaven created all things, and all things created spirit. All living beings held latent spiritual power. What differed was that spiritual power would become even stronger following cultivation. Spirit Treasures relied on this kind of spiritual power to be used. Even a commoner without any cultivation could step into the heavens with a single bound should they be able to obtain one.
Spiritual power was divided into “Dark Yellow Level,”2 “Heaven Earth Level,”3 “Vast Desolation Level”4 and “Universe Eternity Level.”5 Universe Eternity Level spirit treasures were said to be existences even older than Star World itself, capable of splitting Heaven and Earth apart, treasures that dominated the Three Thousand Worlds. Of course, the Outer Star Fields understood too little about first-rate treasures like these, however, this “Seven Treasures Pagoda” in front of them was indeed was a genuine Vast Desolation Spirit Treasure. This treasure had already been here for tens of thousands of years. It was said that a Buddhist monk left it here after he received it.
Over the years, many Human Sovereigns attempted to take the Seven Treasures Pagoda for themselves, but not a single person was able to. On the contrary, assaulting the pagoda left them heavily injured, their cultivations devastated. Since then, no one dared to have such an idea.
Afterwards, the Great Chong Dynasty was established, and the Great Ancestor Emperor set forth rules to exploit the Seven Treasures Pagoda’s special nature to become the grounds for the Divine Warrior Examination’s final court examinations.
Chen Mo clearly sensed that when he spotted that Seven Treasure Pagoda, his Astral Stone’s “Bodhi Treasure Karma”6 shudder. He wondered what kind of relationship this thing that he received from the Bodhi Cliff had with the Seven Treasure Pagoda.
While Chen Mo pondered, several explosions boomed in the sky.
Then, he saw Emperor Tang and several others appear on a platform in the Pagoda Basin. Alongside them were civil and military officials. Of course, this included the Two Lords, and behind them were also all the major noble families in a strict hierarchy.
Chen Luan followed her father’s appearance at the court examination. Chen Mo immediately spotted her.
When Third Sister caught sight of Chen Mo, she shot him an encouraging look.
“Long live Your Imperial Majesty!!”
Everyone saluted at the same time, their voice like a roll of thunder, shaking the heavens.
“Ladies and gentlemen, at ease.”
Everyone stood up at the same time. Emperor Tang was a majestic presence, his might invigorating.
When everyone rose, according to convention was a recitation of the imperial order for the “Divine Warrior Examination’s Court Examination.” The Divine Warrior Examination was a national affair that all the major aristocratic families poured their careers into, naturally to curry every favor and reward with the imperial family.
All of the families of jinshi entering the court examination were able to earn tax exemption for four years, and all jinshi were able to enter the army, receiving experience as well as an official post. The top five hundred warriors were conferred Rank Eight, “Commandant Of Announcements;”7 the top three hundred would be conferred Rank Seven, “Commandant Of Flying Colors;”8 the top hundred were Rank Six, “Commandant Of Exemplary Arms;”9 the top fifty would be Rank Five, “General For Pacifying Distant Lands;”10 the first ten were Rank Four, “General Of Loyal Arms.”11 And the final three, the tanhua, bangyan, and zhuangyuan were conferred, in order, General of Chariots and Cavalry, General of Agile Cavalry, and Supreme General. Those holding posts in the dynasty’s army had authority over their own military forces.
Emperor Tang’s repeated obstructions of Chen Mo obtaining zhuangyuan were precisely out of fear that Chen Mo would hold military authority. The previous Divine Warrior Examination already placed Chen Luan as Supreme General, one in charge of a portion of the imperial family’s “Great Victory Battalion.” Should Chen Mo also obtain zhuangyuan, that would thoroughly tip the balance of power. Emperor Tang could not change rules set by his predecessors, and this is what caused him difficulty. If Lord Jiangnan’s Jiang Yanyu received zhuangyuan, that actually would be fine, for the existence of the Two Lords meant that balance could be preserved, at least.
For one family to dominate over all others, he could not rest easy.
Other than military ranks, there were also many other rewards, large and small.12
The rewards for zhuangyuan, bangyan, and tanhua were even more plentiful, including secret books, magic treasures, spirit medicines, and more.
This also stimulated the hot blood of all jinshi.
Chen Mo nevertheless remained unmoved. Given his level, these prizes were insufficient. Chang’an Mansion was full of stuff like this.
“Your Highness, we will definitely help Your Highness obtain zhuangyuan this time.” A girl’s voice came from behind him.
The area Chen Mo stood in was for Chuan Province. Without looking, Chen Mo knew they were the Xi Siblings. “Just look after yourselves.” Chen Mo did not need their help at all.
“Xi Wen likes Your Highness’ spirit. Following Your Highness was not the wrong choice.” Xi Wen softly laughed.
“Little Sister, Your Highness is right. Many experts have come to this Divine Warrior Examination.” XI Wu said.
The three thousand six hundred jinshi who entered the court examination gathered in a circle, standing along the edge of the cliff. Chen Mo used Divine Hawk Eyesight to examine the area. The warriors in the area under His Imperial Majesty Emperor Tang clearly were the strongest. The one hundred warriors able to stand above the others in Chang’an were all dressed in yellow brocade. Regardless of gender or personality, they all possessed a sense of lethality.
These jinshi were also called the “Chang’an Warriors,” for they all were trained in the military since they were little, receiving focused care, revealing their outstanding talents in a battle over the position of heir in the family. Each and every person stood out exceptionally.
One young man among them was quite attention-worthy to Chen Mo.
That young man’s eyes were like icy blades, full of a malicious chill.
Yesterday, Big Sister told him before that a genius from the imperial family was participating in this Divine Warrior Examination. He had been training in the Four Great Imperial Guard’s most mysterious Azure Dragon Imperial Guard up until now. Reportedly, he also possessed a military rank and was known in the guard as a first-rate genius.
He seemed to be named Tang Yunshen.13 This man must be him. According to the rumors, this Tang Yunshen received the direct teaching of imperial family’s country-protecting treasure, the “Black Turtle Seven Changes”14 and already trained it to at least the “Five Changes” level. His cultivation was also at least Lesser Thunder Tribulation.
There were at least ten jinshi participating in the court examination who had gone through the first layer of Thunder Tribulation. However, Chen Mo was a Three Flowered Gathered Overhead Saint Of War. If they were only First or Second Layer Thunder Tribulation, they would pose an actual threat. A Saint Of War’s punch-intent and sword-intent were both considerably frightening techniques. The reason why Jiang Yanyu was known as the Great Chong’s current number one genius was that she comprehended a sword-intent that was even more profound than punch-intent. A Thunder Tribulation cultivator’s sword chant was nothing special in front of her.
There was another explosion in the air above.
Then, a eunuch announced the rules of this court examination.
The rules were very simple. All jinshi would enter the Pagoda Basin at the same time to search for Buddhism’s Seven Treasures in this enormous valley. These seven treasures were split into tridacna, agate, crystal, coral, amber, pearl, and colored glass. These seven treasures were valued at one to seven points, in order. The jinshi were required to search for four among these and enter the Seven Treasure Pagoda before sunset, otherwise, they would be considered to have lost their qualifications.
The jinshi who entered the Seven Treasures Pagoda would proceed to the second phase of the assessment.
Finally, those who reached the highest floor of the Seven Treasures Pagoda would obtain tokens representing zhuangyuan, bangyan, and tanhua depending on order. Of course, the full score of the court examination was one hundred points. To reach the highest floor, a jinshi must first obtain a total of at least 90 points, otherwise, they would lose their qualifications. If a jinshi wanted to receive the highest recognition, then they must do all that they can to receive the highest score.
However, the Seven Treasures Pagoda’s trial came from the world of Vast Desolation Spirit Treasures, so it was extremely challenging. Even the previous genius Chen Luan only received ninety-five points. In the test’s history, there were practically no jinshi who attained full marks. The highest was Chen Zhangtian himself at ninety-nine points.
Then, the harsh demands of the court examination were read. Due to this Pagoda Island being the location of a Vast Desolation Spirit Treasure, powerful Demon Beasts and mechanisms were located inside. Any jinshi that participated in the court examination was responsible for their own death or injuries. If anyone was unable to continue or felt the situation too dangerous, they were allowed to leave the court examination.
Following a string of jargon, it was finally time to begin the preparation phase of the court examination.
“Your Highness Chen Mo, I heard you want to defeat Princess Yanyu this time. Heh, heh, this is honestly a bold statement.”
Along the edge of their platform, some warriors began to hoot and provoke Chen Mo.
“Your Highness Mo, they say you were just a cripple unable to circulate Qi-blood a few months ago. Is that true, huh? Are you really so abnormal?”
“Ha, ha, we have to see for ourselves.”
“But Your Highness bolted before the contest in the court banquet, is that true?”
Because Chen Mo was honestly too famous in Chang’an, many warriors were jealous. Once in the court examination, there was no need to mind things like rank or etiquette, so they spared no effort in starting to beat Chen Mo down. In the court examination’s first phase of finding the Seven Treasures, warriors were allowed to form alliances. It was hard to say if the imperial family’s forces were egging on an alliance against him.
“Your Highness, leave the small fry to us.”
The Xi Siblings smiled.
Chen Mo grunted and looked over the edge.
The drop from this ledge to the basin below was almost five hundred to six hundred meters, which could be said to be unfathomable. Jumping down was the first trial for all the jinshi. In the past, there were many warriors who had accidents or trained insufficiently; they fell to their deaths.
Compared to the provocations Chen Mo received, another focal character was Jiang Yanyu, who from the start was refined and elegant. No one dared provoke her.
Jiang Yanyu’s Little Thousand Misty Rain Sword Intent alone stood at the top. Everyone was aware of her power, and Chen Mo’s name spread through Chang’an without displaying any powerful martial arts. Even when he defeated a Lesser Thunder Tribulation, they had only heard of it. On the contrary, it was his absence in the end from the pre-examination banquet that made these originally very eager jinshi somewhat inwardly furious.
Provocations went back and forth along the edge.
Jiang Yanyu’s appearance was calm, one hand toying with a lock of black hair that had fallen over her chest. The girl lowered her head, muttering to herself: “These short-sighted commonfolk,15 without ever having entered the Inner Star Fields, they are so far from realizing how insignificant they really are.”
“Chen Mo, you also would not know what This Princess has seen…” Jiang Yanyu strangely smiled.
Bang, bang, bang!
Boom, boom, boom!
Following the simultaneous discharge of a hundred cannons, the court examination finally began.
Chen Mo’s figure jumped, leaping off the edge. At the same time, the other thousand warriors threw themselves like tired birds into the forest, casting themselves into verdant sea of trees.
“Your Imperial Majesty, the court examination has begun.” Supervisor Yin said.
Emperor Tang lowered his voice: “Are all the preparations finished?”
“Be at ease, Your Imperial majesty, everything is ready.”
- Previously translated in 108 MOD and here up to this point as “magic weapon.” ↩
- 玄黃級 ↩
- 天地級 ↩
- 洪荒級, so I used to translate this as “Prehistoric.” Will be using “Vast Desolation” going forward. ↩
- 宇宙級 ↩
- 菩提寶業 Really ambiguous here since 業 also can mean “leaf” ↩
- 宣節校尉 ↩
- 翊麾校尉 ↩
- 昭武校尉 ↩
- 定遠將軍 ↩
- 忠武將軍 ↩
- Yes, the raws talked about the rewards of the examination, digressed to political intrigue, then went back to the exam. Talk about staying on topic… ↩
- 唐云深 ↩
- 玄武七變 ↩
- Though she says “commonfolk,” she is actually referring to her peers, the same ones who keep harping praise upon her. ↩