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The elder opened his eyes again and let out a dry laugh. "Hehehe. I'll tell you why they won't. They don't want to invest into disciples that would leave the sect when they turn 16 that's why. Only the best among those that remain after 16 will receive full attention. Those are called the inner disciples."

 

"But doesn't this hinder disciple development?" Han Lingyun retorted.

"Listen here little brat. If you're not good enough to raise the money to buy my stuff here, you better get out fast." Elder Guguai stopped paying attention to Han Lingyun and closed his eyes again.

Han Lingyun continued to browse the items. With his business scheme starting, those prices didn't seem that impossible to reach anymore. But what did he need urgently? A quick rise in cultivation? A body improvement? A slightly better talent? A new affinity? He made his mind to ask some advice from Elder Wen but he realized he found the 1st year's treasure vault!

 

Han Lingyun also realized that at 16 years old, a big opportunity might be in store for the best disciples of the sect. One so big that the disciples didn't mind to leave their sect and friends behind. Perhaps they would repay the sect later but the White Tiger Sect probably still preferred to rely on its own strength rather than wealth and reputation from disciples that moved on, in order to grow and maintain its footing.

 

After another hour of looking at all the articles present, Han Lingyun left under the menacing gaze of Elder Guguai and headed for the Array pavilion.

 

 

"Elder Wen left the sect 2 days ago to attend a meeting for array and formation masters." The bony disciple behind the desk answered honestly.

Han Lingyun looked dismayed. How was he so unlucky? "Senior, can I leave a message for Elder Wen? Also how was he for this last month?"

The bony disciple looked at Han Lingyun with a hint of suspicion. "Yes, I'll transfer your message when he comes back. But Elder Wen has been in a… irregular… state for the last few weeks. I believe he received some bad news as he looked terrible for 2 weeks straight. Then he gradually lightened up. I have never seen him in such a joyful state than during the last week or so."

Han Lingyun was taken aback by this revelation. He wasn't quite sure if any of it had a link with his bet with elder Wen though. He quickly scribbled a letter with the material on the desk and passed it to the disciple before leaving.

It would soon be time to meet Lei Weimin and go back to his house to train. He had learned a lot today!

 

 

Meanwhile, some 10 000 km away in the middle of nowhere, core formation masters were gathering for a once in a decade meeting. This was the traditional Edera array meet.

Edera was the continent's name. Apparently, there was once a Edera empire that unified and ruled over the entire continent a long time ago. The continent name had always stuck since.

In the present day, the Sun empire and the Sun alliance nearly occupied half of the continent's area. The rest was divided between dozens of kingdoms. There was one reason why the sun alliance didn't become the overlords of the Edera continent too. The continent also housed two huge sects: the Puppet Sect and the Sword Union.

This Sword Union was at its origin only a gathering of sword cultivators, but it gradually transformed into the usual sect structure: recruiting young disciples and making them grow under a common banner.

As for the Puppet Sect? It was a peculiar one. Starting at qi condensation, their disciples nearly only fought by using puppets. This was a hugely expensive method and it wasn't quite clear how the puppet sect managed its finances. Rumor had it that disciples from the puppet sect also used their puppet to cultivate after reaching qi condensation.

It was believed that individually, one sect of the sun's alliance might be defeated by one of the two sects if they ever went to war. Those two sects also had trump cards that guaranteed the status quo.

This situation also kept the Sun's alliance from breaking apart. Their alliance would end only after having conquered the continent.

 

The continent had another, more hidden actor too: the Black Skull sect. This sect was a gathering of madmen that had the common principle of being ready to do anything for cultivation. It just so happened that those cultivators believed that blood and murder was the best way to temper the heart and to advance faster.

This sect nearly went extinct on several occasions as they are generally considered everyone's enemy whenever they appear. However, they had become very proficient in the arts of stealth and assassinations over the years, making the task to destroy the sect's foundation extremely hard and costly. This sect would probably live on as long as there was not a continent overlord to wipe them out.

 

And today, masters from all parts of the continent were gathering! They all had a common interest in arrays and formations but that wouldn't be enough to appease this heteroclite bunch of core formation experts, forget their conflicts for a time and make them work together.

However, everything changes if the organizer is an independent cultivator at a cultivation realm above the core formation level. Not to mention that this mysterious expert was willing to give personal advice to those that provide him novel ideas at the condition that the core formation expert presented his findings to the crowd of core formation experts as well! And this master had greater knowledge in that field than anyone else in the continent. The teachings of such a master!!

If there was one thing that core cultivators were willing to do anything for, it was to get a chance to reach the next step. For these array masters, the Edera Array Meet was such an opportunity. It wouldn't be surprising if 90% of core cultivators decided to betray everyone they ever knew if someone presented them with a great chance at reaching the next step.

Of course, a couple of words from a senior shouldn't be enough, but this advice could save decades of laborious work.

Very few could receive this honor however. Most came to profit from the others new ideas, to meet cultivators of the same profession and perhaps build ties, and finally to exchange rare materials or knowledge with their equals.

 

A dozen cultivators came from the White Tiger Sect, and elder Wen was one of them. This time, about 300 cultivators were already waiting around a dome of fog.

Suddenly the fog receded and a majestic tower came into view. Many rushed forward to reach the entrance.

Today, elder Wen was confident that his recent ideas could warrant him advice from the master. He didn't mind sharing his findings with others too. He was convinced that no one in the assembly would understand more than him the possible ramifications of his ideas. Well, except for that mysterious senior. Also, he didn't mind the additional prestige that the cultivators that received the approval from that senior gain.

His position in the sect would increase drastically, his work would be valued higher and he would generally benefit greatly.

All this was still only wishful thinking for now. He still had to present his ideas to that senior.

All around, there was nearly no tension in the air at all. The cultivators attending this event were all passionate about their profession, had accumulated at least a small amount of prestige among their peers and were all excited to learn more. Not to mention, those that started a fight would immediately be automatically punished and thrown away by the invisible formations covering a large area stretching kilometers around the tower.

Some had already started to mix with different sects; others even started to sell rare materials: a great way to make connections.

 

About 1/5 of the cultivators waited in line in front of a closed door, where they would enter one at a time to present their research to the senior.

When elder Wen's turn finally came, he entered a small room in which an old man was seated on the ground in a lotus position. This man emitted no qi fluctuations whatsoever, making it that in elder Wen's eyes he looked no different from an ordinary mortal.

However elder Wen knew very well his place. To give an analogy with Han Lingyun's previous life, the man was a sleeping hydrogen bomb.

Elder Wen silently clasped his hands, bowed then took a lotus position in front of the senior. The old man was looking at him with a fatherly interest.

Elder Wen understood that it was his turn to expose his findings. "Junior Wen from White Tiger Sect has seen the senior.

I would like to start off with a little story. Around one month ago, I found a quite interesting new disciple. Brilliant in math. I decided to play a little game with him by giving him some problems. Then we decided to make a little bet. He gave me the hardest problem he could think of, but still comprehensible by another disciple that didn't specialize in math.

The discoveries I made in this last month trumps all my progress of the last decade! It all started by the problem he gave me."

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