Immortal Ascension Tower
Book 1: Reborn
First Arc: The Child And The Dragon
Chapter 18 – Entering Cultivation
Was Cheng Hao done with the Immortal Ascension Tower for today?
Obviously not: he had barely started, the only reason it had taken so long was due to the info dump. He, during this whole time, had barely done anything.
As soon as the child finished condensing the Pseudo-Core, the projection of his consciousness had become more definite: although his face and features weren’t fully visible, his limbs were. While he had previously only resembled a gaseous mass, his figure now finally resembled that of a human as it grew in clarity with each moment that passed, as he stabilized the power he had just acquired. He felt the Spiritual Energy and the Qi flow in his meridians and, when they completed a full cycle, Cheng Hao’s appearance could finally be discerned.
The boy also felt two familiar powers in both his hands as well as in his left eye… His left palm released a slight chill while his right began to emit slightly perceptible warmth. His left pupil, on the other hand, began to grow darker as the faint outline of a fanged mouth devoid of a body stood out from the surrounding ‘lighter’ black.
Smiling in reminiscence, as he clenched his fists and felt the opposite attributes of cold and hot spread to his fingertips, the hazy Cheng Hao lifted his head towards the first gate. The gate itself was pretty impressive, being ten thousands or so feet tall, and from it one could only begin to imagine just how many tens, hundreds of thousands of feet tall the tower actually was… and how much energy must have been used to create an object of such incredible proportions.
Hundreds of locks, thousands of chains, tons of seals and everything that could be thought of as even barely useful to keep something imprisoned; all of it was there. And all was just to keep that one door closed… And Cheng Hao alone knew why.
He looked at the restriction on top of the doors and his magnified voice came out, “You did well. Rest in peace.” Following those words, 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 Spiritual Energy, floating towards Cheng Hao, whom used it to feed the Pseudo-Core more energy, making his cultivation advance by leap and bounds. Yes, he also had some extra Spiritual Energy piled up, but the amount was still too small to call it heaven-defying. Most high-end Clans would probably be able to bring out elixirs and pills of even higher potency if they wished to, but this much energy was enough for the child to fully stabilize his cultivation base. Were he to fight an Advanced stage cultivator right there and then, he would be able to win without too much of an effort. Then again, the one he was about to face was much, much stronger than the mere Advanced stage, being on another entire Realm… not the Ageless Realm, no, the ‘thing’ trapped on the first floor… was a powerhouse at the Immortal Realm!
Following the glowing symbols and the talismans, were the chains and the locks. One by one, the rings shattered and turned into Spiritual 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 it somewhat resembled a key.
BANG! Suddenly, something began hammering the gate from the inside! Judging from the sound, it likely was a being with an incredibly massive body, so much so that the whole first floor trembled from the beast’s roars alone!
The beautiful bronze blade bent dangerously but, just as 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 and repaired itself until there wasn’t even a scratch left on its surface.
The Thing behind the door kept hammering constantly, each blow more powerful than the others. The sword even cracked a few times but, it would repair itself right away whenever the frames resisted the blow and it had the chance to flung back into its original stage.
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, and that breath was more than enough to prevent the thing sealed inside from breaking free. Clearly, the bronze sword was no simple object. Cheng Hao smiled at the situation unfolding in front of him and then slowly approached the gate.
Step by step, walking on thin air he slowly got closer and closer to the titanic golden gate…
Feeling someone approaching, the Thing inside stopped his attempts of escaping. The silence had a tinge of wonder, almost as if a big question mark had appeared in midair. Cheng Hao took the hilt of the sword in his hands and slowly… took it out from where it was embedded. The blade was shockingly long. The child spent more than five breaths before he could extract it fully. He grasped the golden sword in his hands and its blade, as if liberated, turned back into energy, which the youth gladly absorbed and then proceeded to feed to his newly formed Pseudo-Core. What remained in his hands was only the handle of the sword: a bronze key.
It was extremely exquisite, and the carving of a long, vicious-looking snake coiling around a cage was depicted at the handle. Cheng Hao clapped his hands together and his hands began to make hand seals, moving so fast that the naked eye of a human would be unable to discern the exact movements. Following the strange hand seals, the key slowly expanded and soon grew to be hundreds of times its previous size, way bigger than Cheng Hao’s projection. When it reached this point, Cheng Hao lifted one of his hands and made another mysterious hand sign; immediately afterwards, the key flew towards a keyhole that had materialized when the sword had been removed.
The bronze key entered the keyhole and, when it fit in completely, Cheng Hao’s hands moved again. With a loud Clack, 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 vaguely be seen inside, sticking out from its dark surroundings. 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…” it started, but found no one to talk to. The eye looked around and seeing the empty space behind Cheng Hao its gaze finally fell on the youth with golden eyes… The projection now was clear enough to discern the apparent age of the boy but not enough to clearly see his face. “Who are you, human child?”
“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.” Cheng Hao’s voice was as calm as it could get, and the shocking sentences had all been delivered with a monotone and bland tone.
Hearing this, the eye widened in surprise as it processed the information contained amongst the youth’s claims. “A stepping stone, uh? Did I perhaps mishear or misunderstand? It’s been quite a few hundred years since I last exchanged words with a human, did you people’s language, as old as your species and remained unmodified since time immemorial… change all of a sudden?” The rasping voice seemed really tired as it sighed with feeling.
“Nope, all’s as usual. You also heard me correctly and clearly did not misunderstand. With that cleared up… I’ll go ahead and make a contract with you. I’m in need of a servant, you’re the first to come to mind when I built this tower, so the duty’s fallen upon you.”
Cheng Hao had disappeared. In his place was an arrogant 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… That cheerful and warm Cheng Hao that Xiao Wu had interacted with was no longer there, replaced by a lofty, lazy persona that the gigantic eye couldn’t help but twitch at: why did he find that voice so annoying to hear?
“You… Are you really 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! Told you once, and now confirmed it to you twice, don’t ask again or I’ll get annoyed.” The boy’s voice reverberated into the first floor of the Immortal Ascension Tower.
Suddenly, a sharp glint appeared in the depths of the gigantic 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?” The eye suddenly seemed to notice something, “Oh, you are still an Inferior stage cultivator… My mistake. Child, where did you find this power?”
The eye closed as a thunderous laugh sounded in Cheng Hao’s ears: the thing had suddenly burst out laughing seemingly without a reason, “WAHAHAHAHAH!”
“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 and gleamed strangely, “I shall be free and I will become this tower’s new master! You will be imprisoned in my place until I completely use up this Tower’s energy to increase my own strength… after all, we are both cultivators, even I would greatly benefit from this! After that period, I will free you and leave this place! This way, it’s fair for the both of us. How about it?”
Cheng Hao stared emotionlessly 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! Wait… Goldy, Blacky… I’m starting to see a pattern here. Am I really that bad at giving names? Why did nobody tell me? Sigh…
The child stayed silent for a few moments as if he were deeply pondering about the advantages and shortcomings of such a bet, but in the end he sighed and nodded, “What game?”
“It is pretty simple, actually: I want to get out, you want to keep me in, right? If you can keep me from coming out of this floor for, let’s say, twenty breaths, you win and I become a servant for a thousand years! I win, the tower becomes mine, you’ll take my place here.” The eye blinked and the pupil glowed. It turned green for a bit and a hexagram appeared within as a strange law took place. In the following moment, a glittering contract appeared in front of Cheng Hao, the terms the same as the figure had just recited.
The youth nodded and exclaimed: “I, Cheng Hao, Master of The Immortal Ascension Tower, accept your terms and declare that the game may begin!” Immediately afterwards, he yelled “I now allow the creature residing within the first floor to pass the First Floor’s gates!”
Following that command, the two gigantic frames that made up the bronze gates of the first floor 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 and fury!
“You Mother Fucker dare to fucking imprison me here??? Today, I shall feast on your flesh and pleasure myself with your blood! I said I will make you take my place but I never said you will still be alive by then!”