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Chapter 0960: The City Lord’s Banquet

“You don’t have to worry too much about that; with your alchemy skills, it’s not difficult to get the True Extreme Dao Fruit from Le Jiesheng’s hands.” Sheng Huotian said with a smile.

Without waiting for Ning Cheng to ask the reason, he carefully explained. “Every time before the Alchemy Discourse, influential experts from all sides come to Heaven Essence Sacred City after accepting Le Jiesheng’s invitation. It’s not because of his influence or power, but primarily because of his dao fruits. It’s all because Le Jiesheng’s clan oversees the Illusionary Fruit Orchard. A place that contains countless dao fruits, with the True Extreme Dao Fruit being one of them. That’s why I said that you don’t need to worry about the True Extreme Dao Fruit.”

Ning Cheng became even more puzzled. “Brother Huotian, dao fruits are already extremely precious commodities, even the most common ones. Yet, Heaven Essence Sacred City’s City Lord can still own such an orchard?”

The Grand Essence Domain had plenty of experts and powerful forces. So even if Le Jiesheng was an exceptionally powerful cultivator, he was still just one person. Not to mention other sects, even the Pill Union wouldn’t let go of the Illusory Fruit Orchard, right?

Sheng Huotian showed a sly smile. “Don’t underestimate Le Jiesheng. He’s an absolute monster at the peak of the Dao Essence Realm, just one step away from reaching the Dao Fusion Realm. Besides, that Illusionary Fruit Orchard would be the same in anyone’s hands. Even if it falls in your hands, you might not be able to get in. After all, one simply can’t go inside and pick the dao fruits at whim.”

Ning Cheng had only heard about Le Jiesheng’s banquet and the many experts and alchemists participating in it through Jian Sanshan. It’s just that he wasn’t clear about why he did such a thing.

“The Illusionary Fruit Orchard can’t be opened using force. Rather, to open it, one must be at the Dao Sculpting Pill Deity or above level. Moreover, the Illusionary Fruit Orchard is divided into multiple levels with different gardens on each level. But to open the gates to those levels, you need to refine pills of corresponding grades.”

“Can’t you use an already refined pill to enter the levels?” This was the first time Ning Cheng had heard of such a thing.

Sheng Huotian shook his head. “The gardens at the first level contain Dao Sculpting-level spirit grasses and only have twelve entrances, each with twelve pill recesses on them. Only the alchemist who refines twelve exceptional Dao Sculpting Spirit Pills and places them in the recesses can open that gate.”

“So, once the gate is opened, can’t everyone enter?” Ning Cheng asked.

“Of course not. Only the alchemist who made those pills can enter; no second person can enter through that gate. Once you enter the first level, you can proceed to the next level containing Dao Raising-level spirit herbs using the same method. However, you need to refine a batch of Dao Raising Spirit Pills to open the gate to that level. Again, all of them have to be top-quality spirit pills.” Sheng Huotian explained.

Ning Cheng finally understood why Jian Sanshan hadn’t told him this. Most likely, Jian Sanshan felt that neither of them had a chance, so why bother talking about it. A Dao Transformation Pill Deity would find it almost impossible to refine a furnace of top-quality Dao Raising Spirit Pills. Much less within a specific time frame.

Sheng Huotian continued, “I heard that the Illusionary Fruit Orchard has a total of six levels, each with its own specific number of entrances. The first level has twelve, the second level has nine, the third level has six, the fourth level has three, the fifth level has two, and the sixth level should have only one gate.”

Ning Cheng immediately grasped onto something Sheng Huotian said. “Brother Huotian, what do you mean when you say that the sixth level should have only one entrance?”

Sheng Huotian sighed before speaking. “By logical progression, the sixth level should contain Dao Transformation Dao Fruits. However, ever since the Illusionary Fruit Orchard appeared, no one had ever been able to enter the sixth level. Plus, a single door means that only one person can enter. The prerequisite, this person refining twelve top-quality Dao Transformation Dao Pills. However, in the entire Grand Essence Realm, no one has ever been able to refine a batch of top-quality Dao Transformation Dao Pills, at least not in recorded history.”

“Doesn’t this mean that even for the first level, only twelve people can enter?” Ning Cheng immediately thought back to the many alchemists who had come to Heaven Essence Sacred City. Didn’t it mean that only the twelve fastest alchemists can enter the first level?

Hearing Ning Cheng’s concern, Sheng Huotian laughed. “Brother Ning, you can rest assured about that. These twelve gates are more than enough. Besides, how could it be simple to find twelve alchemists who could refine twelve top-quality Dao Sculpting Spirit Pills in the first furnace? I can confidently say that you, Brother Ning, not only can enter the first level, you even have a good chance of entering the fifth level. Just don’t forget about me when you enter.”

“You should now understand why those experts and sect masters eagerly wait for the City Lord’s invitation, right? It’s not to give some face to Le Jiesheng. In fact, most don’t even give a damn about him or his clan. However, everyone does care about the rare spirit grasses and dao fruits coming out of the Illusionary Fruit Orchard. If you find high-grade spirit herbs[1] inside, it would be an unimaginable harvest even if you chose not to exchange them.”

Ning Cheng understood what Sheng Huotian meant. The fifth level of the Illusionary Fruit Orchid contained Dao Raising-level Dao Fruits. Whether it was the Dao Sculpting, Dao Raising or the Dao Transformation Dao Pills he refined, all were top-grade dao pills. At least if you didn’t look at the first batches. In other words, as long as he had the required materials, he even had a chance to enter the sixth level.

After explaining all this to Ning Cheng, Sheng Huotian showed a warm smile. “In any case, the Le Clan doesn’t own the Illusionary Fruit Orchard but rather acts as its guardian. As such, it doesn’t have any control over the entry restrictions. However, as the orchard’s guardians, they do have some rules that everyone has to follow. Besides, even in that case, with your alchemy attainments, you will definitely reap great rewards. If you enter the fourth level, you might even have a good chance of finding the Exquisite Star Golden Hidden Leaf.”

Ning Cheng felt overjoyed on hearing those words. As long as no unexpected things happened, he felt confident about entering the fourth level. However, Ning Cheng still wondered why the Illusionary Fruit Garden only had six levels, with Dao Transformation Dao Fruits being the highest level. Regardless, he didn’t bother to ask Sheng Huotian about it. Sheng Huotian was a first-step pill sage, so he most likely couldn’t refine a second-step dao pill. So, asking him would be pointless[2].

“Many thanks, Brother Huotian, for telling me this. I will take my leave now and will see you the day after tomorrow at the City Lord’s mansion.” Ning Cheng stood up and said his goodbyes. He believed that Sheng Huotian would definitely come to the City Lord’s mansion.

“Good, see you the day after tomorrow then.” Sheng Huotian laughed and raised his hand, and a golden staircase suddenly appeared in front of Ning Cheng.

When Ning Cheng walked down the staircase, he saw the female cultivator who led her here still waiting at the side.

“Senior, are you done already?” When the female cultivator who led the way saw Ning Cheng come out, she hurriedly went forward and bowed in greeting. Truth be told, she had never brought anyone to take the pill sage’s assessment before. Plus, Ning Cheng didn’t even have a Dao Sculpting Pill Deity’s qualification token. In other words, Ning Cheng technically wasn’t qualified to take any of the pill sage’s assessments.

No one had told her about this because one, she was a relatively new recruit and second, she wasn’t qualified to bring people to the pill sage’s assessment. After all, those coming for the pill sage’s evaluation were all at least Dao Transformation Pill Deities. A newcomer like her simply wasn’t qualified to lead a Dao Transformation Pill Deity at all. Plus, the prospective candidates for the evaluation would all enter through the VIP hall instead of using the common entrance. But despite the confusion, and because of the lack of knowledge, she had unintentionally brought such a person here.

Ning Cheng took out a bottle of pills and handed it to this female cultivator. “Thank you for leading the way. The two pills inside are for you. I’m going to find my friend now, so you don’t need to stay with me.”

The female cultivator leading the way didn’t dare say no and hurriedly bowed in respect and fear. “Many thanks, senior.”

Seeing Ning Cheng walk down the corridor, she couldn’t help but feel a bit of contempt. Generally, alchemists were the wealthiest group of people. Don’t look at her as someone who just led the way for him; even average alchemists gave her at least a storage bag. Typically, the storage bags contained at least a few bottles of good pills, and some even had a bunch of spirit crystals. As such, she had never seen a cheapskate like Ning Cheng, who only gave her two pills.

However, even if Ning Cheng didn’t give her anything, she wouldn’t dare say a single word. Nor would she dare to even show it on her face.

Besides, it was also a good thing this alchemist didn’t keep her waiting for long. A few hours weren’t much of a loss for her.

Nonetheless, she opened the jade bottle to have a look at the pills. But when the jade bottle opened and the dao rhythm of the two pills flowed out, it almost shocked the female cultivator to death.

She was an Eternal cultivator, but that didn’t mean that she didn’t have insight. Working at the Pill Union, she naturally had a good idea about the different grades of pills. As such, she recognised that these two pills were, in fact, two dao pills. Two dao pills. Just one dao pill was much more valuable than the corresponding dao fruit, and here she was, holding two of them.

The female cultivator’s heart thumped wildly. She quickly returned to her senses and closed the lid on the jade bottle. She even looked all around her to see if anyone noticed.

With these two dao pills, she could definitely exchange them for a large batch of cultivation resources, even if she didn’t use them herself. These two dao pills had greatly improved the chances of becoming a Dao Sculpting Holy Emperor.

What a generous alchemist. She had never seen or even heard of an alchemist who gave away two dao pills at once. This alchemist was definitely not stingy as she previously thought. In fact, he was generous beyond generous. Would an alchemist who failed the examination take out such precious dao pills and give them away casually?

Thinking that Ning Cheng might have succeeded in his Dao Transformation Pill Sage assessment, the female cultivator leading the way started to tremble with excitement. Not all alchemists who came for the examination were as indifferent as Ning Cheng. Plus, all the female cultivators leading such alchemists had much higher and better achievements than her.

What would happen if word got out that she led the way for such a highly accomplished alchemist? If word got out that she had led the way for a Dao Transformation Pill Sage, her fame within the Pill Union would simply shoot through the roof. If that indeed happened, would she still have to worry about cultivation resources?

The truth was, Ning Cheng had far too many Burst Spirit Pills on him and simply had no use for so many. Plus, Ning Cheng also appreciated the female cultivator who patiently led the way for him. As such, he decided to casually give two of them to her.

As soon as Ning Cheng walked out to where Jian Sanshan waited for him, Jian Sanshan quickly stepped up and looked at Ning Cheng with a smile. “Brother Ning, out so soon? You should have passed the examination, right?”

Ning Cheng nodded, “With a bit of luck, I did manage to pass. Let’s go, let’s head to the City Lord’s mansion the day after tomorrow.”


Two days passed in a flash. On the banquet day, Ning Cheng entrusted Yan Ji to Xin Xiu and went with Jian Sanshan to the Heaven Essence Sacred City’s City Lord’s mansion.

Seeing the defensive formation outside Lord’s mansion, Ning Cheng understood that Le Jiesheng wasn’t an ordinary City Lord.

Regardless of Le Jiesheng’s cultivation level, Ning Cheng wouldn’t be able to break open this defensive formation. He was an Array Dao Master, but according to the Grand Essence Realm’s classification, he was still only a Basic Grade Spirit Array Master. However, because of his dao enlightenment, his mastery over array formations far exceeded that of an ordinary Basic Grade Spirit Array Master. Unfortunately, it still wouldn’t be enough to break or bypass this defensive formation.

When Jian Sanshan saw Ning Cheng frowning, he understood that Ning Cheng was using his spiritual consciousness to probe around. Understanding this, he quickly spoke up from the side, “Brother Ning, don’t try to probe using your spiritual consciousness. Else, we both might end up dead.”

Ning Cheng smiled, “I understand. Don’t worry about it.”

If it was before the Dao Transformation Pill Sage’s assessment, Ning Cheng definitely wouldn’t dare to probe around like this. Jian Sanshan’s words were indeed correct in that scenario. If the City Lord became angry, the two would be nothing more than ants in front of him. But now, it was different. Not to mention that he was a Dao Transformation Pill Sage himself, Le Jiesheng wouldn’t dare mess with Sheng Huotian’s ‘brother’, no matter his power.

By the time Ning Cheng followed Jian Sanshan and entered the guest hall, led by an attendant from the City Lord’s mansion, over a hundred people had long since come here. Not only that, but people still kept pouring in from the outside. From this, Ning Cheng understood that the City Lord had invited quite a few people this time.

As soon as Jian Sanshan entered, many cultivators stood up to greet him, showing that Jian Sanshan had a relatively high status. Yet, even in that case, Jian Sanshan didn’t dare be negligent and greeted everyone personally.

It didn’t take long after the two sat down when another hundred or so people to walk into the guest hall.

When he saw Shi Tianhe of the 9-Revolutions Sacred Dao Pond and a few other women walk in amongst the crowd, Ning Cheng’s expressions sank, and he even gave out a cold snort.

[1] ‘Spirit herbs’ here is a short representation of ‘spirit grasses and dao fruits.’

[2] Going by the context from earlier, I assume only second-step pill sages can refine twelve top-grade Dao Transformation Dao Pills in the first batch.

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