Ye Futian nodded and smiled. While they were many who attended the event this time, he knew well that they were only there to experience the event. While it was difficult for them to be able to do much in the Nine State Forum, it would serve them well to get to know the world better.
"Li Futu, I assume your current level of training means you're about to break into Sage Plane?" Ye Futian looked at Li Futu of Fire Emperor Palace. They had fought before. He was extremely renowned in the western regions surrounding Alchemy City. He was the most famous after Di Gang. However, Di Gang was dragged down by the case of his father Di Kai allying with Zhisheng Cliffs, and no one knew how he had been as of late. You Chi was the one in charge of affairs at Alchemy City, and Ye Futian did not ask much about it.
Li Futu looked at Ye Futian and felt quite a lot going on in his mind. He then replied, "I'm working to look for a way to break into the next plane. I've come to develop comprehension of some power of rules."
"Yeah, break into the next plane as soon as possible." Ye Futian nodded and added, "I think all of you are exhausted traveling here all the way from the Barren State. Get some rest while I go get someone to ask about rules pertaining to the forum this time. I'll inform you all when I get more information."
"Alright." Everyone nodded.
The Nine State Forum attracted many from all over the nine states and it was anyone's guess how many cultivators actually turned up. It was naturally impossible for everyone present to take part. Every single forum had its own unique rules for selecting worthy geniuses through the qualifying rounds.
As the time of the forum's opening got closer, Huatian City got increasingly lively. The mighty ones from other states had also, like the ones from the Barren State, arrived one after another.
At that moment, there were already some who were looking into who would have been the most powerful nobles of the respective nine states, preparing to pick a bunch with the most potential.
At the same time, news was released by Xihua Sacred Mountain saying that those who wanted to earn the right to participate in the forum were required to sound the Law Bell beneath the mountain. Those who were incapable of doing so were required to participate in a battle to climb the sky stairwell, held seven days prior to the Nine State Forum. The top 3,000 would then earn a token to participate in the forum.
Countless geniuses gathered below Xihua Sacred Mountain where the people of the sacred ground had placed the Law Bell. Xihua Sacred Mountain was a tall mountain shooting into the skies, yet the place beneath the mountain was a vast plaza capable of housing countless. At that moment, untold numbers of cultivators gathered there.
Ye Futian and his party had arrived as well. They looked up at Xihua Sacred Mountain and felt themselves shaking inside.
The sacred ground, Xihua Sacred Mountain, was a place where the tall, regal buildings melded with the body of the mountain as one. It was a work of art like none other, emanating an imposing aura, looking incredibly holy and solemn. One was required to climb 3,000 steps before reaching the gates of Xihua Sacred Mountain. Looking up from the steps, the sacred ground seemed to be connected with the heavens, looking impressively sacred.
A huge ancient bell was placed above the 3,000 steps. This was the Law Bell. The bell was guarded by mighty ones from Xihua Sacred Mountain. Many were thinking of trying to sound the bell and earning the right to participate in the forum right away.
"So this is the Law Bell that Xihua Sacred Mountain uses to inspect their own students then?" Many looked at the ancient bell. They heard stories about the bell. It was something forged by the ancestors of Xihua Sacred Mountain and was capable of telling apart the power of rules. Only those who had developed comprehension of matured power of rules would b able to sound the bell. One would not be able to sound the bell otherwise, regardless of how powerful one's training had become.
Furthermore, the Law Bell had a mystical trait: the sound made by the bell was an indication if the strength of the power of rules of the one ringing it. One would be able to tell the level of the comprehended power of rules from the sound produced by the Law Bell.
The sound was accompanied by nine images that portrayed the five elements: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth, as well as dragon, tiger, the vermillion bird, and the black turtle. If the power of rules comprehended belonged to only a single element, regardless of the strength of said power of rules, one would be able to light up an image, even if one was able to produce a deafening sound with the bell.
Those who were capable of comprehending exceptional power of rules, by merging their own talents, Life Spirits, and other abilities, would be able to light up multiple images with their produced sounds. The most powerful rules would make the Law Bell produce sounds resembling roars of tigers and dragons while lighting up multiple images at the same time. As such, the Law Bell itself served Xihua Sacred Mountain well in the inspection of the level of power of rules of their students.
"Many geniuses from all over the nine states came to participate in the Nine State Forum, having developed comprehension of powerful power of rules. They were all to be tested with the bell. First, it fits the meaning of the forum itself, and second, it allows for the topmost geniuses to pass, earning the right to participate in the event without having to participate in the mixed battles first," someone said.
"Indeed. All of those proud sons and daughters from sacred grounds all over the nine states will definitely be very proud. It would be rather discourteous to have them participate in the mixed battles, but if they were to simply be allowed to participate in the forum proper, it wouldn't seem fair for the others. As such, it's best to leave the Law Bell where it is now."
"In this way, we will be able to tell how far those top-notch geniuses from all over the nine states have come with their talents," someone said, smiling. Those geniuses from the sacred grounds throughout the nine states came at their own will to sound the Law Bell.
A group of people walked down from the steps. Many lifted their heads to look at the leader of that group of people and said, "That's Liu Zong. What would it be like if he were to sound the bell?"
"The ones behind Liu Zong are the nine students of the Chess Saint. Among the students of the Chess Saint, the eldest student, Yang Xiao, is a mighty one ranked on the Sage Ranking of the Sage and Saint Ranking. Yet, he now stands behind Liu Zong. What does this mean?" Many felt awed at the scene. They did not know the truth. The nine students of the Chess Saint were not following Liu Zong simply because he had broken the Celestial Dragon Chess Game and had earned the lineage of the Chess Saint. They were also doing so to help save the Chess Saint.
Liu Zong walked near the side of the Law Bell. He looked at the crowd while standing on the steps and said, "The Law Bell of the Sacred Mountain is here today not only to test those who are interested in participating in the forum. Even sages, if you're willing, are also welcomed to test the Law Bell and see how far your power of rules have come."
The elders who were guarding the Law Bell on both sides did not say anything, acknowledging Liu Zong's words in silence. Liu Zong's status in Xihua Sacred Mountain was supreme. Everyone else but the three saints had to be courteous to him. Liu Zong now had the nine students of the Chess Saint escorting him as well, which made him look rather legendary.
Although the crowd beneath the steps was huge, the number of people who went sounding the bell was but a handful. Those capable of developing matured power of rules while still being in Noble Plane were top-notch geniuses themselves. Geniuses like this were always few, whatever state they might have emerged from. Those people would have also been the most dazzling in the Nine State Forum.
At that moment, a figure walked up the stairs and headed for the Law Bell. Many looked at that figure and there was someone who recognized him, saying, "That is Shi Tong, incredibly powerful and at the pinnacle of Noble Plane. He will participate in the Nine State Forum."
"I've heard that Shi Tong has developed some power of rules. I wonder if he will be able to sound the bell if that power of rules were to be coupled with that immense strength of his."
Shi Tong walked in front of the bell and lifted his arms. His huge fists crashed onto the bell. A huge god-of-war-like shadow was seen in the air. The thunderous sound from his fists pierced the air, and a thin sound was heard. The sound was stifled and the Law Bell wavered. However, only a stifling sound was heard produced by his fist landing on the bell. The produced sound was so soft that it sounded as if no sound was made instead.
"Well..." Many shuddered. It was a surprise that such immense power had proved inadequate at sounding the bell. Things were indeed like the rumors said.
The Law Bell would only sound when attacked using the power of rules. Furthermore, it had to be matured power of rules. If one only comprehended a sliver of rules, the Law Bell would react like how it just had, with only a soft, stifled sound. The clashing sound between the fist and bell had been covered entirely.
Shi Tong was extremely angered, and his expression turned ferocious. He shouted, and a storm whipped up around him while his body turned rock-solid. A huge shadow of a stone ape was seen. He stepped forward, steadying himself, then threw his arm at the bell. Another violent clash was seen, yet the stifling sound produced was still not that of the bell.
The Law Bell wavered as if to tease in a brutally sarcastic manner. Shi Tong's face turned red as he clenched his fists, feeling frustrated. He thought himself to be powerful enough to earn the right to participate in the forum by sounding the bell.
"I'll have a go," a voice said from the air. Many turned their heads up and saw a carriage making a flashy entrance. A woman was seen standing in front of the carriage, looking sharp and dashing.
"The princess of the Great Zhou Sacred Dynasty. It seems like people of the sacred dynasty are here," someone said.
The one who had said she wanted to try was none other than Zhou Ziyi. She walked down and came in front of the bell, smiling at Liu Zong. She said, "Liu Zong, we meet again."
"So you'll be participating in the Nine State Forum as well, Princess Ziyi?" Liu Zong asked. Zhou Ziyi's plane was currently at the pinnacle of the Noble Plane.
"Yeah." Zhou Ziyi nodded. Her talents were exceptional and she had developed matured power of rules. As such, she saw it fit to participate in the forum. It was not just her; many from the sacred dynasty were participating in this forum with her as well.
"Let's try then," Liu Zong said. Zhou Ziyi looked at the Law Bell, gathering a powerful might about her and unleashing it. Her dress billowed and a holy golden fire was showered on her in an instant. A golden divine bird appeared, and it was an incredibly rare golden phoenix. Its wings glittered with golden colors, and at that moment, she looked incredibly regal, pure, and divine.
She extended her slim hand and then struck the Law Bell with one finger. That dazzling golden phoenix sounded the bell right there and then. A crisp sound was heard from the bell and powerful air of rules even emanated from the sound of the Law Bell itself, which was none other than her own power of rules.
Two images lit up on the Law Bell.
"Not bad. You're actually capable of that much despite being a noble," Liu Zong smiled and said. A beaming smile was seen on her face as she was praised by Liu Zong. She looked up to him with infatuated eyes.
"Princess, here is the token for the Nine State Forum." An elder at the side of the Law Bell handed her an ancient token. Being able to sound the bell meant that she had earned her right to participate in the forum.
"Thank you, senior," Zhou Ziyi said with a smile. She was regal and she held her manners well. The elder nodded in approval.
"Will there be anyone else attempting to sound the bell?" Liu Zong turned his eyes at the massive crowd. All from throughout the nine states should be here. What are you all waiting for?
The very reason Xihua Sacred Mountain chose to use the Law Bell as a selection tool was to see how capable people the people of the nine states actually were!
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