Standing in the expansive courtyard of his sky palace, Wei Wuyin was dressed in loose shorts and a white shirt. He had learned his lesson from the previous set of tribulations, allowing enough space for ease of movement of his…little buddy. Furthermore, he was fully ready to experience whatever came. Be it him or some other odd experience.
”… ” He could hear the hopelessly failing sound of stifled laughter from Kratos and the openly uproarious laughter of Ori. King was characteristically silent, alongside Eden, but he felt their mocking thoughts. For a moment, he felt as if he was being pranked and his expression darkened. They couldn ’t have done that on purpose, right?
As he continued thinking about it, his suspicions grew.
Unfortunately, the four didn ’t allow him to ruminate on the circumstances too deeply as Orianna took the first step. He felt the subtle rumbling of his Divine Elemental Astral Core. This rumbling quickly escalated until it became exceptionally prominent.
The Sky-World Lightning Tribulation was unlike the Mortal Star Formation Tribulation as it was exceptionally swift by normal standards. In fact, it was the quickest Astral Tribulation amongst the nine. It was accompanied by a single lightning bolt.
Normally, this lightning bolt was unavoidable. You can either withstand it with your physical body as it coursed through your meridians, flesh, and blood, and survive or perish in the midst of it. There were no other options.
But he knew now that the Astral Tribulations were mostly beneficial to a cultivator. Likely, only the Realm World, Temporal Eye, and Star Core Astral Tribulations were purely destructive. According to the records recorded during the King of Everlore ’s era, only by unquestionably conquering these trials could one ascend. Withstanding it merely led to an endless bombardment that would lead to inevitable death.
It was this very reason why the Realm World Phase was considered an obstacle no expert wished to face. Even during the Mortal Star Formation Tribulation, you can escape. If you did, you ’d keep your life but remain unable to fully advance. As for the other Astral Tribulations, withstanding it to your limits was acceptable as long as you survived.
This was especially so for the Soul Idol and Spatial Resonance Astral Tribulations. They were divided into nine levels, and a cultivator could cancel them at any time after the first level ’s success. Of course, they had to withstand the tribulation entirely if they chose to face the next level. But it was a choice of their own making. Whether they lived or died was dependent on whether they had a solid understanding of their innate potential and strength.
In fact, each set of dual tribulations from one and two, three and four, five and six, as well as seven, eight, and nine might have calculated themes. He found it interesting how the Third and Fourth Astral Tribulations were reflections of one ’s Spiritual Potential and Innate Compatibility with Spatial Energies.
There was no such thing for any other tribulation, so it was quite out of the ordinary. It was probably these two tribulations results that were the most crucial when conquering the Seventh Astral Tribulation. Regardless, he now faced the Sky-World Lightning Tribulation!
Instantly, he was once again graced with a familiar feeling. It was as if he had returned to the Myriad Yore Continent, at the strange coup d ’état event that was also a supposedly forced wedding. There, the world went silent and everyone could feel this looming pressure and force exert on their thoughts and bodies. They would forcibly have their attention dragged away and lifted to the skies.
Even now, his head lifted. But before he saw nothing, now he saw the ambient mana twist into a cloud-like existence. It was dense and chaotically surged about as if it was brewing an unfathomable existence. The color of this cloud was black, jet-black like night, eye-snatching to behold, and the size of a continental flat earth. It was still growing but never infringed on the planet ’s atmospheric layer. It remained within the Dark Void.
It loomed at the edges of the outermost Sky Layer, seemingly intending to crash down and crush everything. The sound of its continuous and endless growth was heart-palpitating.
Wei Wuyin ’s eyes narrowed as he heard the sounds of crackling and golden lightning bolts moving within the cloud, like slithering serpents. The overwhelming pressure facing this trial was fundamentally different than being an unassuming spectator of an unseen event.
”Why is it growing? ” Wei Wuyin had met the Mortal Star Formation Tribulation and its size was unimaginably inconsistent. It seemed as if it was far, far, far away, and then as close as possible. It confused him and even overtook his visual perception entirely at one point.
When he grasped the coinciding Intent relating to the Mortal Star that formed, he could manipulate its size freely and even itself. But this cloud seemed to be composed of mana from the Dark Void, condensing into a jet-black mass that would horrify children.
”I ’m controlling it! Yeah! Yeah! ” Ori was energetic, fearless before the trial as it excitedly exclaimed. Wei Wuyin instantly started. Controlling it? It could control the tribulation?
”What are you controlling? Its size? Why? ” Wei Wuyin bombarded it with three questions, his heart filled with curiosity. He looked up and found that the size of the mass had already expanded to the size of two average continental flat earths. It was still growing.
”Bigger the cloud, bigger the benefits! Benefits! Benefits! ” Ori ’s Astral Core was constantly rumbling, obviously an action to prod the tribulation.
’Benefits? ’ Wei Wuyin ’s eyes brightened. He recalled the records mentioned of the Astral Core Realm ’s Second Stage, the Sky Ruler Phase. He didn ’t know what that meant. He knew that the Astral Core would be refined by the resulting lightning, and so would the innate energies within, but he didn ’t know that the Second Astral Tribulation varied in difficulty.
While he pondered, he hadn ’t realized that this wasn ’t a solo effort. The other three Astral Core ’s were connected and played a faint trick on the tribulation to up its difficulties. There were no differences in difficulty between cultivators or additional benefits normally within the Second Astral Tribulation, but that didn ’t mean it couldn ’t be manipulated.
Before he could find out an answer, the cloud had grown to four times the size of an average continental flat earth. When he observed the cloud, there wasn ’t a hint of fear in his heart, but he felt as if this manipulation or so-called ’benefits ’ was about to change his identity as a cultivator. That he was about to break the fundamental conventions of cultivation with this.
These Astral Souls of his…they were taking their cultivation path with incomparable seriousness.
When the jet-black mana cloud stopped growing, the sound of lightning crackling ceased as the lightning that was as thick as mountains started to uniformly gather at the center. Just as he was about to externalize, Ori immediately responded with: ”No need! No need! ” As if reading his mind.
He stayed still and remained quiet, curiosity and interest seething within his heart. Looking towards the center of this unfathomably large cloud that seemed to be gathering and concentrating a bolt of lightning, he still felt no fear.
Then, it happened.
Without prior indication, without any form of warning, a lightning bolt as thin as a man descended from the cloud and traversed the vast space between them before he could blink. No, before he could process a hint of movement. He was struck.
But he didn ’t feel numb or pain from this lightning bolt. He found that the lightning bolt that was as golden and gave off a mystical feeling as if it contained the quintessence of the world itself was condensed into a golden pellet by a seven-colored light and halted at his glabella.
It was merely a millimeter away from touching his forehead.
When he finally caught up, all he saw was the golden pellet that seemed to contain endless lightning within it. It was surrounded by alchemical force, having been instantly contained and transformed into a pellet.
”Huh? ” The looming cloud above dissipated as if it expended all its energies. ”What is that? ” He questioned Ori, but he got no response. As he asked again, he felt a rumbling once more from his dantian, but it wasn ’t Ori. It was King.
He had immediately started his Astral Tribulation at this moment. He lifted his eyes and once more saw the jet-black cloud seemingly reappear, slowly growing until it became as large as three times an average continental flat earth. It was one size smaller than before. He came to realize that Ori had gone completely silent, entirely unresponsive.
He frowned, questioning King.
”Tch. ” Was his only reply.
In the end, he just decided to let them do whatever they wanted. While they needed him for comprehension, execution, and as a host, they were sentient existences that had their own thoughts; he had to accept this fact.
For now, he simply wanted to survive the Calamities of Hell. They could handle their own cultivation.
As expected, they did.
King ’s tribulation acted the same, and the golden lightning that descended was gathered into a pellet and absorbed by the other, becoming a larger pellet with what seemed to be seven times the Astral Tribulation ’s Sky-World Lightning. King soon became quiet too, then Kratos acted. A cloud two times the size of an average continental flat earth was created. It was followed by the same event.
Wei Wuyin couldn ’t even react or see the lightning descend. He imagined this was the case for everyone else at his cultivation level. They likely had to withstand the lightning within their bodies as their Astral Core slowly absorbed it, allowing it to refine them. If they survived the lightning and refinement, they would ascend into the Second Stage of the Astral Core Realm, becoming a Sky Ruler.
The last to initiate their tribulation was Eden, who kept the lightning pellet that contained nine times the normal lightning within. This time it was a normal-sized cloud, and its lightning flashed at the same speed as before. Ten times the golden Sky-World Lightning was contained and transformed into a pellet.
Eden seemed to be undergoing the same unresponsive situation as the rest. Before it did, it said: ”This will hurt. ” Then the golden pellet smashed into his glabella before he could react. His entire sky palace flared with endless golden light that others couldn ’t see or perceive with any of their senses. It was as if he was drowned in, his figure vanishing within.
The lightning coursed through his meridians, blood, bones, flesh, and muscles. All of his vital organs, his sea of consciousness, and even his teeth were infused with this lightning. There wasn ’t an inch on his body that wasn ’t touched by this lightning. It affected his nerves and caused what should ’ve been mind-destroying pain.
The pain, if given to man hardened by war, death, and battles, might cause them to surrender their lives for the peacefulness of death. They would beg for its sweet embrace.
But Wei Wuyin…
He stood quietly, engulfed in this lightning, and feeling the pain coursing through his body. Lifting his trembling arms and hands, he felt the pain stab into every aspect of his existence. He casually shrugged his shoulders, ”Not even a tenth as painful as I thought. ”
He ’s suffered Heaven-stabbing pain before, for nearly an entire day, and was burned alive. He felt the pain of the entire world ’s information penetrate his thoughts. This pain? It felt like a tickle by a pickle.
As he waited, his Astral Cores finally started to revolve and evenly absorb the golden lightning into them, refining themselves. As Wei Wuyin saw the lightning retreat away from his body, his silver eyes were brightly lit as he noticed that his fleshy body could freely interact with the world ’s ambient mana at will. With a push of his arm, the world ’s ambient mana similarly moved alongside it. It was as if he had finally jumped into a pool on the other side.
This was the lightning granted the physical body, an unprecedented connection with the world ’s ambient mana. This was a Sky Ruler. With a thought, the world ’s ambient mana moved alongside him. This wasn ’t an exertion of his astral force, spiritual force, or any type of force, but purely his mental thoughts. Clenching his hand into a fist, he felt the ambient mana harden around it.
”If I wanted, I could use Sky Pressure and crush someone to death with a thought. ” He now fully knew why Wu Jiao could cause Long Chen ’s allies to explode with a wave and a glance. How exceptional!
While it wasn ’t strong to the point of invincibility, Wei Wuyin felt that ordinary Qi Condensation realm cultivators, regardless of their stage, could be killed with a single thought. If he pushed his limits, even Astral Core Realm experts at the First Stage might be turned into bloody mush.
He inspected his Astral Cores. They were golden, and their four-millimeter sizes hadn ’t changed. ”Why did you guys need lightning equivalent to ten tribulations? ” This meant they were experiencing at least two and a half tribulations each of refinement. This was obviously beneficial to him, so he had no disagreements with their path.
”Wait… ” It wasn ’t that simple. As he looked closer, he realized they were linked and constantly sharing their energies.
”What are you guys trying to do? ” The more he asked himself this, the more he felt that his cultivation path was about to defy common sense. After a full hour, he found out why!
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