945 Soul Talent 2
Back within the trial arena, the crowd had begun to gain its fire back. With the arrangement of the 5 branch peaks finished, it was time for the selections to begin.
For as long as anyone could remember, the Soul Rending Peak selections were all the same.
The first round begun with a test for age. No one above the age of 250 was allowed to participate. This was not only to mitigate cheating, it was also a small gauge of talent. As everyone knew, simply stepping into the peak of the foundation stage – meaning fully tempering your body with essence energy – gave one a lifespan of 500 years, while stepping into the meridian formation stage didn't add any years to one's lifespan.
Knowing this, if one couldn't become strong enough to join Soul Rending Peak within half of that time, they weren't worthy of joining to begin with.
The second round was a test of talent. This round might seem redundant in the face of what the third round would be, however, it had two purposes.
The first was to ensure that no one with high soul talent joined their school. This was a major taboo of their quadrant and could not be allowed.
Unfortunately, the instances of those with high soul talent being ostracized wasn't new, nor was it rare. Almost every selection there would be a handful of youths with high aspirations, not even knowing of their soul talent, who would be shocked by the result.
Because of this, the second round was the most stressful time for many first timers and was also the time where the higher ups of the Soul Rending Peak would finally show up to oversee the proceedings.
The second reason for this test of talent was to appropriately organize the groups for the third round. While this was a selection exam, it was also used by The Cathedral to raise public morale by providing entertainment for the masses. If two powerful candidates met early on, it would ruin this. So, in order to provide the best entertainment possible, the groups were selected in order to separate the most powerful and build up the anticipation.
As for the third round, it was where the true fighting began. The participants would be split into groups to decide a winner that would continue on to the final elimination round.
In truth, it was only a requirement to become a core disciple of a branch sect if you weren't a resident of this planet. Planet Cathedral allowed all of its residents three opportunities to join Soul Rending Peak. So, while there were only 26 branch sect participants, there were well over 5000 total participants.
There were three levels of acceptance into Soul Rending Peak. The first was to become an outer disciple. The second was to become an inner disciple. And the last was to become a core disciple.
To become an outer disciple, only must finish in the top 100. To become an inner disciple, it was necessary to finish in the top 10. While only the top 1 placement could earn the right to become a core disciple.
As a result of these rules, many of the participants who were from well established families in Cathedral City, who could have directly earned a letter of recommendation from an elder to enter Soul Rending Peak, chose not to. This was because, to them, this was by far the easiest way to become an Inner Disciple.
Just like that, a judge wearing golden robes descended from the skies and onto the center arena, taking out three crystal spheres and allowing them to float before him before he began to speak in a clearly bored voice.
"There's been a change to the rules this year."
The moment these words were said, the crowd began to clamour. Such a thing hadn't happened in thousands of years, what was going on?
"The first three rounds will remain nearly identical. However, the second round will include a test of your title. In addition, after the fourth round is completed and the rankings have been decided, whether you are accepted or not will depend on a fifth round where you spar with a disciple matching to the status you are trying to gain.
"If you are ranked 100th to 91st you will spar with an outer disciple. If you are ranked 90th to 2nd you will spar with an inner disciple. As for ranking first, you will spar with a core disciple."
When the elder said this, the ramblings of the crowd erupted even further. In fact, it wasn't just the crowd anymore, even the participants couldn't hold back any longer.
"Elder!" A brave soul called out. "Will we have to win this spar in order to be admitted?"
The elder only continued with his same bland voice. "Winning is not necessary. You only have to gain the acknowledgement of the judge overseeing your match. If you are up to our standards, then you can join. If not, then you can forget it.
"However, the top ten participants also have a right, should they fail, to then challenge an outer, or inner disciple, depending on their ranking, to join my Soul Rending Peak at a lower tier."
Hearing this, the participants sighed a breath of relief. If they had to win, it would be far too unfair.
At a minimum, these disciples had already spent a year within Soul Rending Peak, likely even more. Whether it be their techniques, guidance, or resources, they were all at ridiculous levels compared to the outside world. It wasn't as though they all were like the Caedes family and could rival the sect with their personal wealth.
With that, the selections began.