The scenery changed, and a boundless prairie appeared in front of Chen Mo. There was sunlight, a gentle breeze, it was simply another world. As expected, the Vast Desolation Spirit Treasure was extraordinary to be able to surprisingly create something like a Sumeru world.1
Three to four hundred of the successful warriors were on the grasslands, staring at one another.
The prairie was vast and expansive. There was no killing intent at all. Nobody knew how to pass this first floor.
Old Monk Seven Treasures appeared out of thin air. Then, he clapped his hands.
The earth jolted.
Hundreds upon thousands of stone steles suddenly burst out from the grassland. These steles were about two meters high, and their colors were all different.
The first floor’s trial was “ink meaning.”2
All jinshi were required to use True Qi or magic energy to engrave a character onto the stele. The steles were all split into seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and purple. Points would be earned for each color engraved. The later in the sequence, the more magic energy or True Qi was required to carve into the stone stele. Warriors could renounce any of the steles, but so long as their final point total reached thirty points, they were able to enter the second floor.
Of course, there was a time limit to carve the ink character.
Another point to take note of was that any one stele could have only one character, and each stele must have a different character. Warriors were required to form a sentence from the seven stele characters they carved in order to receive full marks. Otherwise, even if all seven were carved, only eleven points would be awarded.
The first floor “ink meaning” had fourteen points in total. Red, orange, and yellow steles were worth three points altogether, and the remaining colors were each worth two points. In total, these four colors were worth eight points. Completing a seven character phrase was worth three points for a full score of fourteen.
When Chen Mo heard about this, he thought this test was quite interesting. He had never heard of this one before.
The warriors were wringing their hands, eager to try.
Monk Seven Treasures’ intent moved the first dharma. All the gold leaves on the warriors began to glow. The first floor ink meaning assessment had begun!
This assessment tested a warrior’s mobility, judgment, and the robustness of their True Qi or magic energy. After the assessment started, practically all the warriors fell over each other in their eagerness to reach a stele. The first thing to do was to use True Qi to carve and seize time.
But there were still a few warriors who were not in a rush. They merely observed. Surprisingly among these were Fang Xi and Jiang Yanyu. They were not impatient like the other warriors. Although ink meaning appeared to examine the number of stele characters that a warrior carved, the most important point was still a seven word Zen hymn.
Each stone stele’s character had to be different. Rather than find them randomly, it was better to first find the Zen verse one wanted to carve. This would actually save a lot of time.
Chen Mo used Divine Hawk Eyesight, taking in a panoramic view of the stele inscriptions, but it was impossible to look carefully given the sheer quantity. After a general sweep and formulating a Zen chant, he went to the first stone stele. Chen Mo used Cool Breeze Bright Moon Escape and reached a red stele.
Jiang Yanyu and Fang Xi followed closely, each searching for their own target.
Chen Mo stood in front of a stele. This stele was about three zhang high and completely red in color. On the center of the stele was a “trees” character.3
Some people could not help but jeer when they saw Chen Mo unexpectedly stop in front of that inscription with varied strokes.
The ink meaning assessment also had a shortcut. When using True Qi to engrave a character, the greater the number of strokes, the greater the ordeal for the warrior and the more time wasted. The majority of warriors first looked for characters that were simple to carve.
Chen Mo paid no attention to their ridicule. He stared at this stele and gathered True Qi into his finger, following along the inscription as he carved.
The first red stone stele was not considered very solid, almost like marble in texture, but with Chen Mo’s Three Flowers Gathered Overhead strength and his blade-like True Qi, the stone stele was like tofu. A “trees” character was very quickly and profoundly inscribed.
His points on the gold leaf immediately went from 28 to 29.
Chen Mo then moved to the next stone stele.
The first three steles were very simple. It was easy to use True Qi to write, and Chen Mo did not waste too much time. The fourth green stele gradually increased the thickness.
As he carved the “longs” character, Chen Mo clearly sensed that his True Qi carving was beginning to grow more difficult. Each stroke expended enormous True Qi just to make a single light mark, completely engraving a clear depth.
The other warriors were also feeling the strain, using much longer times on the fourth stele compared to before. Those like Qi Flower Early Stage warriors were practically already without the strength to carve.
Chen Mo finally finished carving the fourth stele. He looked and saw that Jiang Yanyu and Fang Xi were currently writing their fifth steles.
Chen Mo did not dare delay and promptly found a blue stele.
The blue stele was a “peace” character.
Blue light covered the stele, and normal True Qi was already unable to penetrate inot the stele. It was basically impossible to carve. Most of the Three Flowers Warriors were already powerless and could only rely on willpower and staunch patience, using their fingers to inscribe little by little.
Chen Mo saw he had no choice if this continued on and recalled the Dark Yang Finger.
His finger tapped, and Yang qi burst like a flame on his fingertip, immediately piercing through the sheathe of blue light. The Dark Yang Finger was itself a first-rate martial art. The warrior imbued power into their fingertip and concentrated it into a point for use. Compared to the True Qi instillment of an average warrior, it was far stronger. With the addition of the martial art, Chen Mo was instantly much more relaxed with this carving.
“Dark Yang Finger.”
“You’re actually capable of the Dark Yang Finger.”
A warrior of Chang’an beside him saw Chen Mo’s relaxed writing. Every stroke was like a branding iron, etched deep into the stele. He was suddenly very envious.
That young warrior’s head was dripping with sweat. The simple few strokes on his stele were surprisingly unable to be completed. All the True Qi in his body was activated, but he surprisingly could only carve a mere inch.
The blue light of this stele surpassed any jade. Just writing this “peace” character wasted musch of Chen Mo’s strength, let alone what this young man had.
When that youth saw he was powerless to write, he turned pale. When he saw Chen Mo would soon finish writing this character, he suddenly had wicked thoughts. If I can’t carve, then I’ll waste your time.
With this thought in mind, he threw a punch.
He was a warrior on the imperial family’s side, and his cultivation was Spirit Flower Early Stage. In this Divine Warrior Examination, all factions under the imperial family realized that Chen Mo was their greatest foe, and the Seven Treasures Pagoda assessment did not have any other rules.
The young man’s punch was like a tiger, becoming a tiger-like pounce on Chen Mo.
Chen Mo coldly glanced at him. His thoughts moved, and a ray of Divine Intent immediately deterred the young man. Chen Mo waved his left hand and flung the man away.
The final stroke was completed, and Chen Mo moved to a indigo stone stele.
Warriors at the group of indigo steles were much more sparse. Of the approximately four hundred warriors, not even half had the qualifications to enter this area.
The indigo steles were different from the others. Chen Mo had only just clearly saw a “for” character when a dense indigo mist came out from the stele, surprisingly encasing this one completely, obscuring its form.
“Fuck, they’d actually use this kind of trick.” Chen Mo cursed to himself.
Not only did this stele test a warrior’s strength, it also assessed a warrior’s patience and judgment. The engraved character could not be messy, otherwise, the warrior would similarly fail.4
The indigo mist surrounded the stele. Chen Mo was unable to see through it even while using the Divine Hawk Eyesight, however, this was not able to deter him. With the Bodhi Soul Technique, Chen Mo had a photographic memory. He shut his eyes, and that stone stele’s body appeared in his mind. The Dark Yang Finger pressed in.
Chen Mo grunted. This fog surprisingly dispersed his Dark Yang Finger.
It appeared that this mist was not simple.
Chen Mo released the Nose Locking Art, gathered his True Qi, and his finger continued to press.
A red light finally pierced into the fog. Chen Mo’s fingertip began to write, a silver hook to an iron canvas, his brushstrokes moving like serpents, an impressive calligraphic style.
But the brushstrokes for this “for” were too numerous. Each one was very challenging and taxing on his energy.
At this time, the majority of warriors had all given up and were watching others engrave their inscriptions.
“Princess Yanyu, so formidable. Her calligraphy is like a sword, and she is like an immortal.”
“Too beautiful, to be able to receive a glance from the princess, I can die without regrets.”
“As expected of the number one genius, this zhuangyuan must absolutely be her!”
“That Wanshou Temple monk is also amazing. The finger technique is Buddhism’s ‘Great Blade Vajra Finger.’ It is simple and robust, graceful and beautiful, brandishing the brush unhindered. It actually has Zen intent.”
“Amazing, too amazing.”
“This is the magic energy of a Thunder Tribulation cultivator.”
“Eh…Isn’t that His Highness Mo?”
“Eh, he’s using the Dark Yang Finger, and he’s surprisingly made major progress with it.”
“Vigorous touches and fine strokes is another good way to describe it…But…”
“Isn’t he using too much time. The princess and the monk are already writing their last stele, but he is still there.”
“Hmph, and he even dared to shamelessly boast that he could compete against the princess. I feel that even that Wanshou Temple monk cannot compare.”
“Ha, ha, looks like writing is very tiring for His Highness.”
“The princess will definitely be first this time.”
Everyone nitpicked him, discussing spiritedly, even boisterously. They watched the great cultivators write freely and easily, each word like a fluid serpent, extremely envious of them.
Chen Mo finally completed the indigo stele’s “for” character, leaking a bit of sweat, which made Xi Wen and the others very worried.
The last purple stone stele was enshrouded in a purple clouds, brilliantly glowing with purple light.
Purple steles were very few in number, only one hundred in total.
Which meant that only one hundred warriors were able to receive a full score on the first floor’s Ink Meaning. When Chen Mo saw the low numbers, he tapped his foot and soared over. The purple stone steles were blank. Any cultivator could write what they pleased without restriction.
Chen Mo had just started to write when suddenly, a bone-chilling killing intent came from the side.
Chen Mo immediately dodged. It was a blade-type magic treasure.
“This stele is mine. I ask Your Highness look somewhere else.” A man in a long robe sneered. This man was one of the few Lesser Thunder Tribulation cultivators present. He wore black robes, and his eyes were sinister.
This man carried a Thunder Tribulation cultivator’s arrogance. He wanted to steal this purple stone stele, to repel Chen Mo in front of thousands of staring eyes.
The spectating warriors made a racket.
To be defeated in front of everyone’s eyes, this was a significant loss of face, let alone that Chen Mo was the focus of these stares.
Xi Wen brought out the Locust Repeating Crossbow and was about to go help.
Immediately, she was pulled back by her big brother. “Little Sister, you can’t be impulsive.”
Zongzheng Ying also said: “This is the Ink Meaning test. We cannot interfere. Otherwise, everyone will ridicule him.”
“But His Highness won’t have time to go write.” Xi Wen yelled.
“That is a Thunder Tribulation cultivator, what can you help His Highness with.” Xi Wu rebuked. This little sister’s concerns were misprioritized.
Xi Wen was taken aback, finally recalling the power gap.
“And you need to have faith in His Highness.”
“The Zen mantra Chen Mo is carving, ‘winds,’ ‘for,’ ‘never,’ ‘peace,’ ‘long,’ ‘trees.’ The last word should be ‘cease.'” Qing Wan said.
Trees long for peace, winds never cease!
Everyone knew this mantra. Although the “cease” word consisted of only four strokes,5 to write it into the purple stele was very challenging, and there were only a few minutes of time left. Now that he was also obstructed by a Thunder Tribulation cultivator, perhaps it would be very difficult to complete.
The other warriors apparently realized this point and immediately decided to watch a good show.