The Lantis Republic. Celestial Island.
Long ago, in an era before the first humans roamed the land, the landmasses of the world were split into multiple continents. Separated by the great bodies of oceans that spanned thousands of kilometres wide, the lifeforms of each region had little chance of ever interacting with each other. However, over millions of years of tectonic movement and catastrophic natural disasters, the vast array of landmasses found a way to stitch itself together, forming the Terre Continent that paved the way for humans to come to being.
Nonetheless, not everything from the ancient age had been moulded into the immense continent. A series of islands managed to break free from the tectonic movements and soon became the sole archipelago of the entire world. Of the hundreds of islands that floated away from the main body of the Terre Continent, there were nine which had been the most prominent.
Sizes and resources varied from island to island, but there was only one enclave that took the crown as the largest landmass outside of the Terre Continent, and that was the Lantis Republic’s Celestial Island. Rumoured to be the former resting ground of the revered Celestial Dragon, the first travellers that landed on the shores of the island held the region with high esteem, almost to the point of fanatical worship, and that wasn’t the only reason why the enclave was so prized.
Boasting an array of mountains, valleys, rivers and even a rainforest, Celestial Island without question the most valuable region that the Lantis Republic had. It was estimated to be about a quarter of the size of the Uncharted Wilderness, and it countless of precious resources that boosted civilisation to greater heights.
When the Eight Ancient Clans of Water first came to the archipelago, they each claimed one of the nine main islands but had serious questions on what they should do with the most valuable one. In the beginning, they split Celestial Island into nine equal parts. However, it soon became apparent that it was utterly useless. Greed soon took over the minds of the leaders, and they waged war just to claim another inch into their brother’s land.
It took them thousands of years to finally realise their folly and eventually, the Eight Ancient Clans merged to form the Lantis Republic, which Celestial Island becoming the main island where the government, universities, commercial hubs, and entertainment complex all reside. Currently, the home to over a hundred million residents, Celestial Island was the most densely populated region in the entire world, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life made it increasingly apparent.
The day-star hung over the empyrean sky, bringing forth resplendent rays of sunshine onto the merry Celestial Island. Sounds of men clinking their glasses together to chug down a pint of beer dominated the bustling isles, while the foodies inhaled mouthfuls of decadent noodles down their throat.
“Ying’er, have you heard about the upcoming Summit?” Amid the busy noodle restaurant, a young man was looking at his partner with an inquisitive gaze.
The sky-blue haired girl didn’t even pivot her head to look at the boy as she answered. “What about it?”
“Are you going?” The boy bit his lip in frustration. Even though he knew the answer, he couldn’t help but feel powerless about the outcome.
“Of course. My Meijing Clan lacks any talented enough cultivators to represent us on the international stage. Although I have some sisters and brothers that are already in the Spirit Adept realm, they just barely made it before twenty-five. If they went, the Meijing Clan would become a laughing stock of the world.”
Meijing Bingying moved her mouth in annoyance as she thought about the lack of talent in her clan’s younger generation. Among the Eight Ancient Clans, a specific hierarchy existed. The four top entities were the Jingyu Clan, Shenshe Clan, Heigui Clan and the Longyu Clan. Each one of these clans had a Spirit Saint seated at the top, and the Jingyu Clan even had many talents in the upper brass of the government.
As compared to the big four, the Meijing Clan’s influence had been slowly eroding throughout the years. They didn’t have any Spirit Saints, their Spirit Venerate count was becoming smaller and smaller, and worst of all, the talent pool in the younger generation had become increasingly thin. If nothing was done, perhaps in a few decades, the Eight Ancient Clans could be narrowed down to seven.
Fortunately, the heavens didn’t abandon the Meijing Clan. Just before demise was imminent, a baby girl was born. Using her tremendous comprehension ability, the young girl bulldozed through the clan’s records and became the youngest cultivator in the history of their clan to break through into the Spirit Spectre realm.
Some knew her as Meijing Bingying. However, the world knew her as the Pearl in the East.
“Do you think that I stand a chance in attending?”
“Don’t be stupid Huanyuan! Those who are participating in the Summit are the best of the best! Qilong Hu, Jingyu Taiyi, Longyu Linji! Those monsters are all going! Even your Clan’s own Xunyu Feifei is going! Huanyuan, you’re already twenty-five, and you’re not even in the Spirit Adept realm yet! Do you honestly think that you could contend against them?” Meijing Bingying chided Xunyu Huanyuan.
“I…” The man could only swallow his words back.
His family and Bingying’s family had a long history, spanning back to the days before the Lantis Republic was formed. Hence, even though they were from different clans, the two had been playing together since their childhood. In fact, the only reason why Huanyuan could even invite the notorious Pearl of the East out for dinner was due to their childhood relations.
“Don’t beat yourself up too much. Your talent is good and compared to the general public, you’re already a genius.” As his long-time friend, Bingying could tell what was troubling him. He was twenty-five-years-old and was only at Rank 29. Of course, if he were a commoner, he would be an unpolished gem that would have garnered everyone’s attention. However, as a member of the Eight Ancient Clans, being stuck at Rank 29 even when he had the resources of his family backing him was completely unacceptable. At best, Huanyuan would be an average cultivator in the clan.
“You don’t have to console me. I know what my prospects are.” Huanyuan sighed. He had already given up on furthering his cultivation to the maximum and was now focused on learning how to manage his family’s business. Nonetheless, it still hurts when he realised that he could never stand beside the woman he loved. “Just stay safe. The Black Masks destroyed the Land of Dreams once, I’m sure they could do it again.”
“Haha, you don’t have to worry about that!” Meijing Bingying laughed off her friend’s warning. “If the Black Masks are really that stupid to strike again, the Saint of Time will decimate them completely!”
“The Saint of Time is going?!” Xunyu Huanyuan cried out. Thankfully, the duo had chosen to eat in a private room. Otherwise, the other diners would have definitely looked weirdly at the man’s agitated appearance.
“That’s right! If it’s the Saint of Time, even a thousand Tier 9 Spirit Beasts won’t be able to touch a single hair on our bodies.”
Longyu Tian may not be the Spirit Saint with the highest cultivation among her peers, and neither did she have the most destructive abilities. However, her survivability was perhaps the best among all the Spirit Saints in the world. Having the capability of slowing down time, if there was any form of danger, Longyu Tian could gather up all of the members from the Lantis Republic and forcibly eject them back into the safety of the archipelago.
“I’ve also heard that Senior Zhangyu Yaoguai is representing us in the talks.”
“The head of the Zhangyu Clan is going?!”
“Yeah… That’s how seriously they’re taking this matter of the Black Masks.” Meijing Bingying bit on her lip to control the overwhelming anger that was bubbling out from the pits of her stomach. “Usually, a minister or a vice-head would be attending, yet Senior Zhangyu Yaoguai has been nominated to lead the talks.”
To dispatch a Clan Head was no laughing matter. Even though Zhangyu Yaoguai was a Rank 85 Spirit Venerate, his protection was still increasingly important. After all, should he die on foreign land, the Zhangyu Clan would fall into turmoil almost instantly. Thus, to protect the Clan Head, there would be eight Spirit Venerates, one from each clan, serving as Zhangyu Yaoguai’s personal bodyguards.
“That’s amazing… History is really about to be made huh?”
‘Lantis, Himmel and Kori… They’re all finally coming together to face one common enemy. Is this God’s plan?’ Meijing Bingying thought to herself. There was never an instance in history where all of humanity was united. Yet, the Summit that was just in a few weeks did precisely that. ‘I wonder what else I would see there?’
The Kori Federation. The Sahara Desert.
Millions of years ago, when the Terre Continent first came to be. Thousands of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and hurricanes plagued the land, making it completely uninhabitable for living beings to thrive. Fortunately, as the dust settled, the world began to cool down, and climates stabilised, bringing about flourishing regions, in which the Kori Federation in the north commanded the most diverse set of.
At the upper side of the Kori Federation, some lands never saw the end of snow. Near the south, there were bountiful grasslands and forests. In the east, there were coastal cities where it rained nearly three-quarters of the year. And finally, in the west, they had the best natural barrier against the Spirit Beasts of the Uncharted Wilderness. The vast and dry Sahara Desert.
Almost uninhabitable for a normal life, the Sahara desert had become a complete wasteland. Even though many Spirit Beasts were well-equipped to deal with the immense heat, the vast majority would succumb to the pressure and die out almost instantaneously. Fortunately, humans were an adaptable bunch. Where most animals found death and destruction, ancient men found opportunity.
The Tuareg Sect, one part of the Master Sects of the Kori Federation, had their ancestry from the antiquated nomadic tribes of old and had been thriving in this barren desert for millennia. Many of them had even reached the Spirit Venerate realm, in a place where life was hard and resources were scarce, and a significant reason why was due to how well the Tuareg Sect disciplined their next generation.
To survive in such a harsh environment, it takes a specific type of warrior. One that never gives up in the face of adversity and one that always look out from their common man. There was a saying in the Kori Federation. You could mess with the toughest Spirit Beast in the world, but never ever cross the line with a member from the Tuareg Sect. Their ferociousness was legendary, and they would not stop until they had gotten their justice.
“Venerate Ammon. Lukman is seeking an audience.” In a transcendental palace that was an uncommon sight in a barren sand wasteland, a tanned man was enjoying his imported grapes with a gorgeous woman by his side when a maid came in and broke the atmosphere.
“He’s here already? I thought I had just asked for him this morning.” Thankfully, the man wasn’t that disturbed that someone broke his luxurious fancy time.
“Yes, he had heard about the Summit long before you called for him and he rode day and night to come to the palace.”
“Haha! That does sound like him! Alright, bring him to the audience chambers! I’ll be there in a minute” The tanned man dismissed the woman that was in his arms and quickly found a change of clothes. Although he was a Spirit Venerate, the young man that was seeking an audience with him was the future of the Tuareg Sect. Not only did he trigger a natural phenomenon when he first awakened his Spirit, but he was also the youngest person to complete the Trial of Sand, Trial of Desert, and Trial of Mirage.
At the age of twenty-three, Lukman surpassed everyone’s expectations and broke through the first barrier of mortality, and entered the Spirit Spectre realm. If Spirit Venerate Ammon was the present of the Tuareg Sect, then Lukman was the future. If the young man continued to progress at this rate, he would most likely become the very first Spirit Saint in the Sect’s history, bringing them to the top of the Master Sects of the Federation.
“Lukman greets the Venerate!”
As Ammon entered into the audience hall with his sapphire robes, he was greeted by a tall brown-skinned young man. His jet black hair and sculptured facial tone made all of the maids take a second glance before returning back to attend their master. However, no matter how hard they tried to look away, they would still take short glimpses at handsome youth who was said to be the future of their people.
“Haha, dispense with the formalities! I think that I’ve told you that before!”
“I can’t do that. My family is indebted to your graciousness. Giving you the proper respect is the least that I could do.”
“Fine, fine!” The more he looked at the man, the more Ammon found himself liking him. Not only was he a talent to be nurtured, but it was also evident that Lukman was in his faction, and his loyalty still remained strong even after all these years. “Come, take a seat! I have bought some of the finest wines from Sunfall Valley. I’m sure that you’ll find them quite delicious.”
“Venerate is too kind.” Lukman took a seat opposite of Ammon and enjoyed the wine that the maid had poured for him. “It is indeed delicious.”
“See? My taste buds don’t lie!”
After a series of back and forths, the two Tuareg Sect members finally got to the meat of their meeting.
“Venerate, about the Summit…”
“Yeah, the council had said that each Master Sect was only allowed to send one Spirit Emperor or higher, and five of the most talented members from the younger generation. That’s to prevent congesting the entire Summit.” Ammon nonchalantly explained. Compared to the Himmel Empire or the Lantis Republic, the Kori Federation had approximately thirty Master Sects. If each one of them had an unlimited number of slots, they would end up flooding the entire Summit, which would look bad on them diplomatically.
“Just to confirm… Am I?”
“Of course you are! Lukman, you’re the most talented cultivator in the sect! If you’re not attending, who else could?”
Hearing the Venerate’s confirmation, Lukman was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. As a lifetime warrior, what he strove towards was becoming as strong as he possibly could. For him to accomplish that, Lukman had to face the best of the best, and he had already risen to the top of the food chain within the Sahara Desert. Occasionally, he had a chance to spar with talents from the other Master Sects, but they were merely light skirmishes. Thus, when Lukman first heard of the international Summit, his heart nearly leapt out of his chest.
Instead of travelling to individually challenge geniuses from other nations, they were now all gathered at one spot!
“It’s good that you’re pumped up about it, but let me warn you.” Seeing how elated this talented junior of his was, Ammon decided to douse his excitement with a little bit of truth water. “Almost all of those attending are monsters among monsters. Just like you, there will be cultivators that had reached the Spirit Spectre realm before twenty-five. If you underestimate them even just by the slightest bit, it will come back to haunt you.”
“I understand, Venerate.” Lukman bowed his head at Ammon before gulping down the entirety of his wine cup. Now that he had finished his objective, it was time to return back to training. Standing up from the chair, the black-haired man walked towards the exit. However, before he left, Lukman turned his head over his shoulder and left the Spirit Venerate with some parting words.
“Nonetheless, I will prove to the world that the Tuareg Sect is the strongest!”