“Congratulations young ones; you two surprised me!”
“I am fortunate to have taken part in this exam, and I know your names will echo through the ages!” All three of the elderly cultivators who failed the test were content with their failure and paid respect to whom they were both jealous of and admired.
Rather than feeling remorse, they’d rather try to seek inspiration from these talented youngsters so they too could one day reach their goal of becoming a Runemaster; something they had tried to achieve for half their lives.
“Thank you for the kind gesture.” Ye Wei bowed and said humbly.
Lu Feng could see that every in the side hall were more impressed by Ye Wei than by him. This caused his face to turn ashen as he heard the flattering words directed towards Ye Wei. He was supposed to become the youngest Runemaster in Qing state, and in fact, he was still one of the ten youngest Runemasters in the region, but his flair was now completely drowned out because of Ye Wei’s existence.
Being the prideful youngster, he was Lu Feng was extremely unpleased that someone six years his junior, a mere teenager, was able to outshine him on something he took great pride in. Apart from that, his plan to recruit Ye Wei was not likely as Ye Wei would soon be under the spotlight as the newest and greatest rising talent. Having a three-star Runemaster with a moldable young mind on their side would be a dream come true for many powerful organizations.
All these negative thoughts came crashing into Lu Feng’s mind.
Zuo Qiu Ming looked down at the recommendation letters, and rose his head and smiled. “Today we have two new Runemasters who both came from Green Moon City! Congratulations to Lu Feng and Ye Wei!”
Zuo Qiu Ming read Ye Wei’s letter of recommendation again and frowned. He knew that Master Yi was a ten-star Runemaster who relocated to Green Moon City from the capital, but even so, it did not quite explain the level of rune mastery Ye Wei displayed.
“Ye Wei!?” Lu Feng’s eyes widened and a chill went down his spine.
Ye Wei realized immediately that Lu Feng now knew exactly who he was and their eyes crossed full of hostility.
‘I should have realized if anyone was be able to produce an apprentice of this caliber in this region, it would be Master Yi…’ The puzzle pieces came together in Lu Feng’s head. ‘My men told me that Master Yi’s apprentice had a red Sentient…. How can trash like that grow so strong so quickly!? It’s only been three years!’
Ye Wei knew the time would come when Lu Feng figure out who he was, therefore, he was able to keep his cool. Now because of his three-star Runemaster status, Ye Wei was no longer scared but confident.
‘Your move…’ Thought Ye Wei while staring at Lu Feng.
“Okay, now may I ask the candidates who failed the exam to leave the hall?” Zuo Qiu Ming said politely while he briefly looked at Lu Feng before his appreciative gaze was once again set on Ye Wei.
It became more and more apparent that even the supposedly neutral official was becoming fond of Ye Wei.
“You should both know how important the ritual is, correct?” Zuo Qiu Ming kindly looked at Ye Wei and said in a serious tone.
“Yeah!” Ye Wei nodded. Master Yi had explained to him in the past the importance of the ritual.
No matter how strong one’s will-force was, how high one’s rune consonance, or how sharp one’s soul sensitivity nobody was born a Runemaster.
Only through the ritual could one’s Sentient be imbued by the Combat Master. The holy presence of the Combat master affects one’s will-force and transforms a Runemasters’ will-force into a more effective tool to use against humanity’s enemies; the demons and wild beasts.
Due to their natural body strength demons and wild beasts were born stronger than human beings, and this allowed them to easily defeat humans on the same level as them, and sometimes even ones with higher cultivation. But this ritual allowed Runemasters to be excluded from this pattern. Castle of Black Iron After the ritual Runemasters could easily beat demons and beast of the same cultivation and posed a threat to counterparts with higher cultivation all because of the holy presence in their Sentient.
After passing the Runemaster entrance exams, the candidates were to be guided through the ritual during which their will-force would actually be guided by the Combat Master and flow in the shape of the holy conservatory.
The conservatory was built by the Combat Master himself following runic principles. Those principles were translated to runic patterns which were essentially where the power of the holy presence came from, and this was precisely what demons and beasts were weak against.
The stronger a Runemasters became, the more their will-force follow the conservatory’s flow pattern, ultimately making their will-force many times more effective against demons and beasts. This is the reason why Runemasters were seen as assets of mankind.
“Remember, you need to stay pious and pure during the ritual having clouded mind is very dangerous!” Zuo Qiu Ming looked at Ye Wei and Lu Feng and said solemnly.
“Sacred statue!” Zuo Qiu Ming grunted as he summoned the Combat Master’s image again.
Knowing the importance of the ritual, Lu Feng shook his head to put the grudge out of his mind. He switched his attention from Ye Wei to the statue; his mind became clear and pure.
Ye Wei took a deep breath to relax and turned his face towards the statue.
“The Heavens are in plain sight, their righteousness boundless…” Zuo Qiu Ming began to recite the passages left by the Sages while Ye Wei and Lu Feng followed.
While the spoken words echoed the hall, the statue began to emit waves of rippling energy that rushed into Ye Wei and Lu Feng’s Sentients transforming their will-force.
“Bang! Bang! Bang!”
Their invisible will-force were drawn out by statue’s energy and began to take physical form. Their will-force took the shape of mysterious and magnificent structures accompanied by a series of awe-inspiring bell tolls.
The images of spectral buildings were clearer above Ye Wei’s head than they were above Lu Feng due to the difference between their runic capabilities.
‘Little one!’ When Ye Wei’s will-force completed the outline of all seventy-two buildings of the conservatory, a familiar, powerful presence visited his Sentient again and a deep voice sounded.
‘Your Grace!’ Ye Wei greeted as the middle-aged scholar’s figure became clear.
‘I knew you were special but I did not expect to meet again so soon! Now I am sure you will become someone important, therefore, I have a special gift for you…’ The Combat Master said with a smile while lifting his finger. Pressing it to Ye Wei’s forehead, a mark that resembled a golden lotus appeared between Ye Wei’s eyebrows.
‘Little one, keep cultivating and training hard!’ The Combat Master’s voice began to fade as if the source of the sound was moving further away from Ye Wei.
‘A gift?’ Ye Wei blinked quickly confused as the image in his Sentient disappeared without any more explanation about the mark. ‘I know the Combat Master won’t lie to me but I honestly don’t feel any different…’
Ye Wei could not feel the mark and its color faded, melting into his skin without a trace.
The Combat Master had ways to make anything host his consciousness, objects, man, beasts, and even demons. If it was not for the black scale, his consciousness would have never actively gone into Ye Wei’s Sentient; he would almost never pay any Runemasters a visit like he did with Ye Wei.
It was both by chance and destiny that Ye Wei bonded with the Combat Master, and it was Ye Wei’s fortune to have received two gifts from one of the founding Sages.
“Finished!” Zou Qiu Ming grunted as the energy around the statue disappeared. Both Ye Wei and Lu Feng had their will-force enchanted and they were now Runemasters! Chapter 142 – Runic Badge
After the ritual’s ending, Zuo Qiu Ming allotted Ye Wei and Lu Feng each a badge.
“Finally, I am a Runemaster…” Ye Wei tightly grasped the badge, whispered to himself ecstatically.
When Green Moon City learned that Ye Wei had become a Runemaster, the three biggest martial families, and the City Lord now realized how much respect was due to Ye Wei. Upon meeting him, they would have to bow, and anything else required to honor a Runemaster.
“Ye Wei, do you have time to talk?”
Zuo Qiu Ming patted Ye Wei’s shoulder; he welcomed the newly qualified Runemaster with a soft, amicable smile. He desired to speak about the Seven New Runes.
If Ye decided to enlist as a part of the Seven New Runes, authorities in the whole Qing state would have to treat him decorously. As well, he would be bestowed with countless privileges. These incentives were very persuasive, and Ye Wei didn’t even need any encouragement from Mister Zuo.
“Mister Zuo, you don’t even have to ask, I will gratefully oblige!” Ye Wei elatedly smiled as he replied and nodded politely. Then thought to himself, ‘you, an official from the Runemaster Union’s Ning City branch, clearly want to befriend me… Why would I say no?’
“Hahaha! Little boy, you surely present yourself well! Follow me to the second floor please.” Zuo Qiu Ming led Ye Wei out of the side hall towards the staircase. Lu Feng was completely forgotten about; they even left without acknowledging him by not saying goodbye.
Wins Hands Down Zuo Qiu Ming had sensed the change between Ye Wei and Lu Feng. He understood with Ye Wei being a Runemaster and at the same standing as Lu Feng, the equanimity between them before was erased, now they were enemies. Nonetheless, he instantly chose to affiliate himself with Ye Wei. Lu Feng was good, but not extraordinary; this young boy would one day become an influential figure.
Lu Feng stood all alone in the grand but empty hall. As Ye Wei and Zuo Qiu Ming walked away, his eyes vengefully glared at them. Hate was growing in his heart; revenge was brewing. For now, Lu Feng could only grudgeful glare at the new superstar, his new enemy.
“Very well, Ye Wei, just you wait!” Lu Feng’s hand trembled. He squeezed the badge tightly as his eyes widened. He flicked his sleeve, impatiently turned, and angrily strode out, each step echoing in the vastness with no one to hear them.
Zuo Qiu Ming led Ye Wei into an elegant sitting room upstairs and sat down.
“So, Ye Wei, it seems you and Lu Feng don’t get along well, am I correct?” Zuo Qiu Ming poured Ye Wei a cup of tea while casually questioning him.
“Yes, you are right.” Ye Wei acknowledged. He thought about Lu Feng’s scheme three years ago, and how he pulled some strings, used the Du family, a general who worked for the City Lord, and a merchant guild’s president to attempt taking over the Ye family’s land. ‘He would have killed us all if it wasn’t for Master Yi…’
“Lu Feng and his master Mu Kun are people you shouldn’t worry about.” Zuo Qiu Ming frowned as he saw Ye Wei growing agitated, but he continued in a wary tone, “however his mother is from a big family, who have influence all across Qing state. I think he came to take the entrance exam mainly for recognition from his mother’s family. Now, that he is a two-star Runemaster, I am pretty sure he will have no problem getting approved and will soon become a part of the Lu family.”
“On the other hand, if the Lu family does not like you then you might be in trouble. They are one of the four biggest martial families in Qing state. Furthermore, multiple returned prime Warriors minister them. Most important, though, they are related to one of the royal families. This is the worst part.” Zuo Qiu Ming looked at Ye Wei and tried to sound as collected as he could, “my advice for you, boy, is to avoid direct conflict with him. Don’t give him and them any reasons to start fights with your family. You have limitless potential; but, only when you have reached a certain status, which is made from connections, then can you sort out your dispute with him! This is my advice for you Ye Wei; I hope you will heed it.”
Working as an official in the Ning City branch had broadened Zuo Qiu Ming’s understanding on the political games the influential and powerful played to get what they wanted. Idealism had no chance in the cut-throat arena of the royals. Zuo Qiu Ming told his opinions as a whole without leaving out any details. He truly hoped the best for Ye Wei and wanted him to do well, but as well remain good.
“Thank you for your sincere advice, Zuo Qiu Ming. I appreciate your kindness.” Ye Wei recognized Zuo Qiu Ming’s sympathetic intentions, and he nodded gratefully.
‘So, for now, I don’t have to worry about Lu Feng, as long as I don’t cross the Lu family, they wouldn’t be so trusting to support their new addition yet…’ although now a three-star Runemaster, Ye Wei humbly understood he was not ready to take on the Lu’s.
“That’s not all I wanted to say. If you are listed as one of the Seven New Runes, even the Lu family won’t be able to touch you!” Zuo Qiu Ming mirthfully smiled, switching the topic to what he truly wanted to speak about.
“Qing State’s Seven New Runes?!” Master Yi had mentioned about them before. So, Ye Wei knew what Zuo Qiu Ming was talking about.
Every state was responsible for protecting their young talents within the sovereignty. The God’s Seven and the Seven New Runes were much more than just titles; they were created so the state and the Runemaster Union could send forces to where the fourteen youngsters were located to keep an eye on them. Humanity could not afford to lose any talented future leaders.
Not only do the God’s Seven and the Seven New Runes protect the youngsters from demons and beasts, if any man threatens both groups of seven, in any way, the offenders will be punished and their whole family killed.
“With your talent, definitely the Seven New Runes will enlist you without any problem!” Zuo Qiu Ming chuckled, “the regional president, strong as he is, passed the entrance exam at the age of eighteen, and you at the age sixteen. By far, you broke his record! If we can’t put you, a sixteen year old three-star Runemaster, on the list I don’t think anyone would deserve to be on it.”
“Are you sure?” Ye Wei felt relief, realizing he might not even have to worry about the Lu’s.
“Of course!” Zuo Qiu Ming earnestly stated. He wanted to reassure Ye Wei, “just fill in the form here; I will make sure the president sends your application to the headquarter as soon as possible. That way we will quickly obtain the result. It will take up to a month for the finalization of the paperwork. In the end, the headquarter will have to send the information to the holy conservatory and the Runemaster board always has something to process…”
“Understood.” Ye Wei grabbed hold of the form Zuo Qiu Ming gave him. He immediately filled it out.
“I will notify the regional president so that he will send the form out immediately. Meanwhile, please take a look at the runic badge.” Zuo Qiu Ming said while looking.
Ye Wei’s mind wandered as he watched Zuo Qiu Ming leave the room, ‘I hope it will turn out okay! Grandpa worked very hard rebuilding the family after what happened three years ago,’ the Ye family grounded and stabilized Ye Wei like a root. He was willing to do anything to make sure its safety.
“Runic badge?” Ye Wei lowered his head, looking at the badge made of mysterious material. The badge represented a Runemaster’s status, and the three stars on it meant that Ye Wei was a three-star Runemaster.
The holy conservatory made the runic badges. Their magic superseded what ordinary cultivators could understand; however, Ye Wei had seen this object before in the hands of Master Yi.
Ye Wei lifted his finger, channeled his will-force, and gently placed his finger onto the badge. A mysterious mist burst out and became a hologram of a young woman.
The young woman wore a white silk dress, wrapped in ribbons. Ye Wei almost mistook her for a fairy. Her beautiful facial features, slim figure, and the way she levitated in the air all resembled the tiny elfish creature.
“Dear Runemaster Ye Wei, hello! I bid you welcome to the Runemaster Union!” The hologram said smiling. An air of surprise shortly followed. ‘He looks young! And, already he’s a Runemaster! Impressive!’
Runemasters’ information were sent to the conservatory and confirmed during the ritual process. Moreover, it contained the top will-force signature recognition security system, allowing nobody else than only areal Runemaster to use the badge.
“Master Ye, since this is your first time using the runic badge, let me introduce you to its diverse functions.”
“First off, the amount of contribution tokens you have is registered here. You exchange the tokens for mystic arms, stances, formulas, pills and herbs. Apart from those, you can also buy blank scrolls, demon blood, demon bones, runic carriages and other rare goods. You may also buy intel and apply to use the Union’s army with this device.”
“You can get anything you need as a Runemaster from this channel if you have enough tokens. Once your order has been placed, we will ensure your order is delivered to you within twenty-four hours as long as you are on this planet,” the hologram continued.
“If you have problems or questions regarding runes and cultivation, for a price, you may list them on the jade walls where they can be answered by other union members. For a higher price, you can hire other Runemasters and even Grand-Runemasters to guide you!”
“I need to add that there are rank requirements to some of the purchases. For example, if you would like to use a squad of the union’s forces, you will have to be a ten-star Runemaster as well as having a hundred thousand tokens in your account.”
Ye Wei had seen the badge glued to Master Yi’s hands in the past, but never had he paid attention to what his master did with the device. The girl’s voice was soft and clear, which helped Ye Wei pay attention to the important information.
“There are many ways to earn contribution tokens, and I will go through the three most effective methods with you right now!”
“Method one, answer the questions listed on the jade walls which you can have access to through the device in your hand, you will be paid a reward if the information you submitted was useful.”
“Method two, submit stances you refined and created. If you are willing to contribute to the Union’s archive, the Union will pay you a handsome price for your refined stances and your creations, considering you don’t mind them being published at some point.”
“Lastly, method three, hunt wild beasts and demons. The union sells processed demon blood, beast bones, and skins…” the hologram explained to Ye Wei the information on how he should prepare the materials, and how they should be packed before he should send them to the Union.
Although the introduction was long, the shocking functions of the badge kept Ye Wei entertained.
“…and the badge can read who you are because unlike normal cultivators, Runemasters’ will-force carries a different Soul Presence that is how we identify, locate, and allow our members to talk to one another using the badge.”
Ye Wei’s was stunned. He browsed the Union’s inventory and slowly realized why all cultivators secretly wanted to become a Runemaster. A Runemaster’s position was not just the valorous duty of protecting humanity at the frontline; it also represented the rewards of such risk. The riches one could be rewarded was unprecedented.
“Runemasters cultivate, and for a Runemaster, there is nothing more important than stances and physical weapons. Specifically their Soul Weapons. They are not normal weapons nor are they mystic arms, but instead, self-customized weapons that can carry runes and stances created by yourself.”
“Mystic arms are powerful; however, they are set. They have no space for improvement and refinement Runemasters should always use the advantage of your mastery on runes and make yourself a soul weapon!”
“The information within the badge is broad and wide. We have a list of free volumes on runic information that all of our members can access. If you wish to dig deeper, you can spend some tokens to gain archive access.” Chapter 143 – Sky Stance, Zodiac Sword
The recently required information broadened Ye Wei’s horizons; he started to think about concepts and ideas regarding cultivation as he had never imagined before.
“Master Ye, the conservatory has a tradition of giving newly-titled Runemasters a random stance. This traditional lottery is their reward for passing the entry exam!” The sweet, enthusiastic voice said.
That’s how Master Yi learned his healing stance, the Green Mizzle…’
The stances gifted to new Runemasters did not guarantee to be high-grade stances, but they were always rare stances. The Green Mizzle given to Master Yi was only a low-level Myst stance; nonetheless, if he ever decided to sell it at the black market, it would fetch a high-level Myst stance’s price.
“When Master Yi was accepted into the union, he was randomly given a very practical stance. I hope I will get something functional as well.” Ye Wei’s face shone with glimpses of hope and expectation.
Even though the stance distribution was randomized, the conservatory selected stances according to each Runemaster’s will-force properties.
Ye Wei and Lu Feng did not just end the dry spell, they finished with style, breaking many records! Lu Feng being one of the quickest ever to finish the stance creation challenge, and Ye Wei being the youngest candidate to pass the exam in the whole of Qing state much less creating a high-level Spirit stance. Any Runemaster Union member, or official, could only dream of witnessing the birth of such a talent.
“Congratulations young ones; you two surprised me!”