Just as Xiao Wu entered the meditative state, Cheng Hao sat down as well. However, he couldn’t help but cast a gaze at the snake resting on the table. He opened his mouth and spoke “Goldy… Could you…”
The golden snake sighed, “I will take care of your sister just fine Stupid Hao. Just go.”
After assuring that the snake would help the young girl, Cheng Hao finally relaxed and threw himself on the ground, summoning the Martial Way in front of him.
As soon as he sat down, Cheng Hao closed his eyes, grabbed the Immortal Ascension Tower and projected his consciousness into it: he only put a small part of his power in the heavenly treasure, yet he felt a strong suction force warping him somewhere else…
As soon as the suction force appeared, the scenery surrounding him changed. The small hut suddenly vanished and he found himself suspended in a vacuum.
In front of him was a majestic tower, thousands of meters tall made of bronze, silver and gold.
The fifteen floors where all divided by golden rings in between, each ring brighter than the floor bellow’s. The Dazzling sight was enough to bewilder anyone. Anyone except Cheng Hao.
Suddenly, the first ring cracked and it became a stream of light particles that merged with Cheng Hao’s body. He passed directly from the Qi sensing phase to the absorption phase… As for his sensed Qi, even he did not understand it completely.
In fact, he only knew it was related to that weird spark that had brought him back from the dead.
The light stream suddenly divided into fifteen and, upon Cheng Hao’s command, these streams started to slowly flow towards his consciousness and turned first into the Qi sea then into the Cheng Hao’s Pseudo-Core.
Here, he did not have the golden dragon to block berserk streams nor did he use the Martial Way to ease the condensation process… And yet, even then, both the actions were completed effortlessly and smoothly: he was way faster than Xiao Wu had been and he easily finished condensing the Pseudo-Core before she had even began the absorption phase.
The golden Pseudo-Core wasn’t completely see-through but was just a bit denser, showing the vast amount of energy he had absorbed from the ring of light. It was at the very limit of what an Inferior stage cultivator could bear.
The moment he had finished condensing, he had officially become an Inferior stage cultivator.
The tall tower was his treasure.
He had used the golden spark in his consciousness to build it, using up so much energy that it could have helped him break into multiple stages and even Realms consecutively. However, he knew better than anyone how detrimental that would have been.
His body would have burst into flames and, even if he was so lucky that he survived, his soul would have been damaged and he would have become a cripple!
That is why he had built this tower.
This was a tower that wasn’t meant to be climbed. Inside though, it housed countless treasures and mysteries that would help him in his cultivation, sealed within the same level they would be usable at.
The rings made of Martial Energy was one of them. They had just the maximum amount of energy a body could hold without side effects at the peak of each stage, energy that would help him every time he wanted to breakthrough a stage.
However, if he wanted to breakthrough using the rings of light and had already gathered some excess energy by himself, those rings would disperse some of their Martial Power so that it wouldn’t harm him. This would also allow him to have great strength after a breakthrough, unlike other cultivators who would need to stabilize their cultivation bases.
Him, on the other hand, would also receive a temporary boost from the excess energy, a boost that could possibly help him overcome gaps of whole stages. These rings however weren’t under his control. He couldn’t use them freely, instead, it was as if a mysterious law governed their actions: giving Cheng Hao their power when he needed to breakthrough, keeping it from him when that was not the case.
Cheng Hao’s sudden breakthrough would already be enough to make those so-called geniuses spit blood from the envy, as even the shortest of breakthroughs would need a few minutes to complete. Him however, only needed a few breaths!
But that wasn’t all.
As soon as he finished condensing the Pseudo-Core, the projection of his consciousness became more definite: although his face wasn’t visible, his limbs were while he had previously only resembled a gaseous mass. His figure finally resembled that of a human as it grew in clarity with each moment that passed.
The boy also felt two familiar powers in both his hands as well as in his left and right eyes. Smiling in reminiscence, the hazy Cheng Hao lifted his head towards the first gate.
Hundreds of locks, thousands of chains, tons of seals and everything that could be thought of to keep something imprisoned, it was there, just to keep that one door closed… And Cheng Hao only knew why!
He looked at the restriction on top of the doors and his magnified voice came out “You did well. Rest in peace” one of the seals suddenly grew opaque and shattered.
Following it were one more, and another one, and another one, and another one, until every single seal had shattered. They then turned into energy, floating towards Cheng Hao, whom used it to feed the Pseudo-Core more energy, making his cultivation even more similar to a true Advanced stage expert’s.
Following that, were the chains and the locks. One by one, the rings shattered and turned into energy until the first floor’s gate was held together only by a single golden blade.
It was embedded where the two doors’ frames met and it looked quite fragile.
The blade was completely made out of condensed golden energy, while the hilt was made of bronze and looked like a key.
*Thump! Thump! Thump!* suddenly, something began hammering the gate from the inside.
Judging from the sound, it likely was a being with an incredibly massive body and the whole first floor trembled from the beast’s roars.
The beautiful bronze blade adorned with the designs of crosses and suns bent dangerously but, when it was on the verge of snapping, the gates suddenly stopped their advance and swung backwards!
The sword also suddenly flung back into its original position as the gate also trembled back to its former appearance.
The Thing behind the door kept hammering constantly, each blow more powerful than the others. The sword even cracked a few times but repaired itself right away whenever the frames resisted the blow.
Yes. No matter how much the door moved and all the effort that something put into breaking free, those two doors always held on by a breath. Cheng Hao smiled and slowly approached the gate.
Step by step, walking on thin air… No, stepping on literally nothing, he slowly got closer and closer to the titanic golden gate…
Feeling someone approaching, the Thing inside stopped his attempts of escaping.
Cheng Hao took the hilt of the sword in his hands and slowly… Extracted it from where it was embedded.
He took the golden sword in his hands and its blade, as if liberated, turned back into energy which the youth absorbed and would then proceed to feed to his newly formed Pseudo-Core. What remained in his hands was a bronze key. It was extremely exquisite, it resembled a long black snake coiled around a tall mountain.
Cheng Hao clapped his hands together and his hands began to make hand seals, moving so fast that the eye could not discern the movements. The key slowly expanded and soon grew to be hundreds of times its previous size, even bigger than Cheng Hao’s projection. He lifted one of his hands and made another mysterious hand sign as the key flew towards a key-hole that had materialized when the sword had been removed.
The bronze key entered the key-hole and, when it fit in completely, Cheng Hao’s hands moved again and, with a *click*, the door frames opened. The key lost its physical body and also flew towards Cheng Hao as a stream of energy.
The massive gate slowly opened until a single, gigantic, golden eye could be seen inside. A rasping voice could suddenly be heard talking… It wasn’t emitted from a mouth, no.
The being was speaking directly into Cheng Hao’s mind!
“Who… Who are you, human child?”
The eye looked around and seeing the empty space behind Cheng Hao it had no choice but stare at the blurry projection or not look at all… The projection now was clear enough to discern the apparent age of the boy but not enough to clearly see his face.
“I am Cheng Hao, and I am the Master of this Tower. I am the Tower’s creator as well as its gatekeeper. I will not hide it, you are being held in here because of me. I built this tower to aid my own cultivation and you are a simple stepping stone that I will use to fly higher in the sky!”
With that, the eye widened in surprise as he heard the youth’s claims.
“A stepping stone, uh?” The rasping voice seemed really tired.
“Now, I shall make a contract with you. When I am in need of your help, you shall wait no time to help me and you will also act like my servant!” That cheerful and warm Cheng Hao that Xiao Wu had interacted with was no longer there.
In its place was a cold and fearless King amongst men, a being superior to anyone else. His whole presence had changed. His hair fluttered, his eyes turned completely golden and became the only thing visible of the consciousness’ true appearance…
The consciousness started emitting the Golden Aura that spread around him, making him look like some descended War God.
“You… Are you the one who imprisoned me here?” There was no trace of anger or rage in the eye’s expression, just surprise and interest.
“Indeed. And I also plan to use you to get stronger faster. To do that I need your power!” The boy’s voice reverberated into the previously silent vacuum, as if there truly was air in there.
Suddenly, a sharp glint appeared in the depths of the eye’s pupils.
“If you are this tower’s master then you must be really powerful. If you are already so powerful that you were able to build this tower, why do you need to use such methods to gain even more power? Oh, you are still an Inferior stage cultivator… Child, where did you find this power?”
The eye closed as a thunderous laugh sounded in Cheng Hao’s ears “AHAHAHAHAH!”
“Very well… I won’t ask, but I don’t want to become one’s servant just like that… How about we play a game? I shall be your pet for a thousand years if you win but if I win…” The eye blinked “I shall be free and I will become this tower’s new master! You will be imprisoned in my place for ten thousand years! After that period, I will free you and leave this place! How about it?”
Cheng Hao stared emotionless at the gigantic figure whose only thing that could be seen was its eye. Cheng Hao was actually laughing loudly in his mind ‘Oh, you will so regret this Little Black… No, from now on, I shall call you Blacky!’
The child stayed silent for a few moments as if he were pondering, but in the end he sighed and asked “What game?”
“It is simple. I want to get out, you want to keep me in, right? If you can keep me from coming out of this floor for at least twenty breaths, you win!” The eye blinked and the pupil glowed. It turned green for a bit and a hexagram appeared within.
A glittering contract appeared in front of Cheng Hao, the terms the same as the figure had just recited. The youth nodded and then exclaimed:
“I, Cheng Hao, Master of The Immortal Ascension Tower, accept your terms and declare that the game may begin!”
Then he yelled “I now allow the creature residing within the first floor to pass the First Floor’s gates!” following that, the two gigantic frames that made up the golden gate opened wide. Even then, the monster was not visible, as if the darkness was intentionally hiding its features.
Hearing the child’s voice, the previous calm appearance of the Thing turned into a raging anger “You Mother F***** dare to f****** imprison me here??? Today I shall feast on your flesh! I said I will make you take my place but who said you will be alive then!”
Author’s Note: Gigantic golden eye is gigantic. And angry. Gigantic golden eye is angry. Really angry. Gigantic golden eye smash. Aaaargh!
Also yeah, does the number fifteen, in the fifteen floors of the Immortal Ascension Tower, ring a bell? If so good! If not go back at reading the summary and look at how many stages are there in total… oh well, guess you won’t need to do that now, would you? I’m such a party pooper…
Please forgive me…