Shangguan Ce paused for a moment with a grave face. His voice sounded hoarse, too.
"The two rules were established by the Cultivators of the Heaven's Origin Sector at the cost of thousands of people's blood.
"Hundreds of years ago, when the human beings of the Heaven's Origin Sector first started exploring the Occult Orbs on a large scale, the federation nearly collapsed because of the looting of the secret treasures.
"The flourishing and doom of Red Dragon Legion had a lot do with the Occult Orbs, too.
"So, we decided not to reveal all the information of the Occult Orbs to the public. Even many Cultivators knew little about them.
"Occult Orbs, secret treasures, ancient arts They can be catalysts to push our civilization forward, and they can also be tinder that burns our civilization to the ground."
Li Yao knew exactly what Shangguan Ce was talking about.
Legends about 'treasures' were the most alluring stories among human beings all the time.
However, every legend of a treasure had always been concerned with bloody fights.
Li Yao could imagine how his predecessors were grasped by desire and greed and ended up being killing machines after they entered the Occult Orbs and discovered powerful secret treasures.
It might not be a bad idea to let Occult Orbs Fellowship stay on the top of everything.
Shangguan Ce sighed and continued, "It's exactly because the Occult Orbs are so addictive that Occult Orbs Fellowship has a very high standard for its members.
"But it's not the sole reason why Occult Orbs Fellowship is unwilling to set the Occult Orbs to the public and permit all the Cultivators and even ordinary people to explore and excavate them. There are another two reasons.
"Firstly, it is very difficult to send someone into an Occult Orb.
"Different from ordinary world fragments, Occult Orbs often have enormous barriers or blockades. Some of them are far from the Heaven's Origin Sector, with countless turbulent spiritual tides in between.
"To teleport a Cultivator to an Occult Orb and bring them back safely, the cost can be astronomical.
"For the Occult Orb furthest away from us with the strongest barriers, the cost to teleport someone into it is enough to build up a crystal warship!
"Because of the huge cost, it's understandable that we can't teleport a random Cultivator to the Occult Orbs easily."
Li Yao nodded his head.
It was quite acceptable. The same rule applied to the selection of astronauts. Since the journey was too expensive, it was not very likely that an ordinary person would be picked as a candidate.
Shangguan Ce continued, "Secondly, the Occult Orbs are full of perils, with a very high death rate. Common Cultivators would merely be committing suicide if they were to enter them."
Li Yao asked in surprise, "What are the dangers in the Occult Orbs?"
Shangguan Ce explained, "There are three dangers in the Occult Orbs.
"The first danger is that the natural laws the Occult Orbs abide by can be on the opposite of those in the Heaven's Origin Sector.
"The gravity of some Occult Orbs is dozens of times more powerful than here; some randomly switch from a frigid hell of minus a few hundred degrees to a blistering furnace of thousands of degrees; some have strongly corrosive raging wind which can tear your flesh and blood off your bones effortlessly; some look peaceful, but there are mysterious soul swirls on them which will consume you and lock you in the most horrible nightmare forever once you step inside.
"These are just the differences of natural laws, which are easier to cope with.
"But as I mentioned just now, many Occult Orbs are ancient battlefields from bloody wars over the past 40,000 years. Naturally, a lot of magical equipment, rune arrays, and weapons have been left on them. Such items might still be in an active state even though tens of thousands of years have passed.
"If one enters an ancient battlefield recklessly, the ancient magical equipment may take them for its enemy and annihilate them in no time!
"If the Occult Orb in question is the ancient research center of secret arts, or the cemetery of a legendary Cultivator, or the last shelter of some ancient forces, there will be even more barriers, snares and traps.
"Even the most cautious explorer risks stepping into one of them, and if so, not only will his body be blown to pieces, his soul might also be ripped apart. He will be doomed forever with no way to turn back!
"But the two dangers above are not the most frightening ones.
"The scariest danger is the risk of meeting other species who are exploring the Occult Orbs just like us.
"Besides demons and demonic Cultivators, human Cultivators from other worlds must be paid close attention to.
"Under the savage of harsh environment and the temptation of powerful secret treasures, even blood brothers may turn against each other. Cultivators from other worlds might be the brutalist enemies!"
Li Yao was somewhat shocked. He blurted out, "There are other species in the Occult Orbs?"
Shangguan Ce nodded.
"Occult Orbs are the legacies of all civilizations over the past 40,000 years. Of course, all the species in the cosmos are interested in them.
"You should know that the Heaven's Origin Sector and the Blood Demon Sector are very close to each other from the four-dimensional point of view. We're 'twins' and a 'dual world system'. The development level of the two civilizations are very close.
"Therefore, the Occult Orbs that we find are mostly in the Blood Demon Sector's eyesight, too.
"Besides, many Occult Orbs are the remnants of battlefields of the Blood Demon Sector after more than ten times of alternation of dynasties, or the tombs of the strong demons. There are many secret arts in the Blood Demon Sector that allow them to detect, discover, and reach those Occult Orbs.
"Therefore, it's perfectly normal that you come across strong demons in the Occult Orbs."
Li Yao was surprised.
"Then what do we do if we meet experts of the demon clan in the Occult Orbs?"
Shangguan Ce smiled in response.
"We do what we must. Should we come across demons or demonic Cultivators, just kill them all! It is also the biggest battleground between the Blood Demon Sector and us. Whoever discovers more Occult Orbs and retrieves more secret treasures, secret arts and Cultivation systems will be more likely to evolve into a stronger civilization and win the war between the two Sectors!
"But it's a pity when it comes to the human beings from other worlds.
"Over the hundreds of years of exploration, we've met humans from other worlds a couple of times. But every single time, we failed to trust each other. Even if we were forced to cooperate under the outside pressure, we always went against each other after the secret treasures were dug out. The human civilizations of different worlds have never truly cooperated so far.
"It seems that not every human civilization values the ethics of human beings, nor do they want to enlighten the cosmos with the wisdom of human beings.
"Maybe, during the thousands of years of bloody battles after the Armageddon Rebellion, such human civilizations have developed a whole different set of survival strategies."
Li Yao thought for a moment and asked, "Does the quasi-membership card mean that I'm a candidate of Occult Orbs Fellowship now, and that I will become an eligible member to enter the Occult Orbs to retrieve secret treasures and inherit the ancient knowledge after I break into the Building Foundation Stage?"
Shangguan Ce said, "Correct.
"Sometimes, when the actual situation of an Occult Orb or the purpose of a mission dictates, Occult Orbs Fellowship will invite non-member Cultivators to the world fragment.
"That's because the natural laws of the Occult Orbs can be really weird. In some Occult Orbs, all the magical equipment will lose functionality because of the barriers on them.
"In such cases, we'll invite strong body practitioners to explore them bare-handed.
"In some other Occult Orbs, it requires music to crack the barriers enclosing them. This will be the time when culture-type Cultivators get useful.
"However, such non-member Cultivators are only allowed to enter certain kinds of Occult Orbs. For the sake of their own safety, we do not recommend them to explore more Occult Orbs.
"Only after one passes the tests of the 'Occult Orbs Card' and becomes an official member of Occult Orbs Fellowship can one cruise among stars freely and explore the myths of Occult Orbs!
"By the way, Occult Orbs Cards are themselves secret treasures excavated from Occult Orbs. I believe you've discovered the mysteries of it."
Li Yao's eyes were beaming in eagerness. He clenched his fists and said, "After I break into the Building Foundation Stage and unveil the mysteries regarding the Occult Orbs Card, I will be permitted to join Occult Orbs Fellowship?"
"Cracking the mysteries of the Occult Orbs Card is just a beginning. After you join Occult Orbs Fellowship, you'll be allowed to enter some low-level Occult Orbs where you can travel or Cultivate. Your Cultivation speed when you're inside of them will be more than ten times higher than outside!
"However, I need to remind you that even the Occult Orbs at the bottom level still entails all kinds of hazards that may have been overlooked or not fully resolved yet. You may encounter strong demons and demonic Cultivators at any time.
"So, it eventually depends on you, whether or not to enter the Occult Orbs."
Li Yao licked his lips. Flames seemed to be bursting out of his eyes and he muttered, "Ancient battlefields of the past 40,000 years? Cemeteries and research centers of legendary Cultivators? You bet I'm interested in visiting such places!"
Shangguan Ce squinted and put on a mysterious smile.
"If you really think so, please try harder to Cultivate in the coming year, Li Yao.
"Gauged in the standard of the Heaven's Origin Sector, you are an outstanding, or even exceptional, Cultivator of the younger generation.
"However, the essence of the Cultivators of the Heaven's Origin Sector lies not in the Heaven's Origin Sector, but in the Occult Orbs!
"Many geniuses who are naturally gifted in Cultivating have been sent to Occult Orbs Fellowship to educate.
"Their parents are often high-level Cultivators. They are born with unparalleled, powerful veins and nerves. Some of them even boast mutated spiritual roots that are entirely different from those of the ordinary Cultivators!
"Not only are they talented, they are also nurtured by all kinds of secret arts and treasures. When they are three to five years old, they'll be teleported to some special Occult Orbs and grow up in the challenging environment there.
"They are the super elites brought up by Cultivators of the Heaven's Origin Sector for the purpose of exploring more Occult Orbs, known as 'Children of the Occult Orbs'!
"When you are lucky, or unlucky, enough to encounter a Child of the Occult Orbs, you will know that the brilliant, extraordinary experts that you've met before are merely mediocre Cultivators."
His words fully triggered Li Yao's competitiveness.
"Super elites, Children of the Occult Orbs?
"Strong Cultivators as parents, with unparalleled veins and nerves?
"Nurtured by secret arts and treasures since young, growing up in special Occult Orbs?
"Interesting. Very interesting!"
Even though a lieutenant general of the federal army was standing in front of him, Li Yao did not suppress his defiance at all.
As a result, in Shangguan Ce's vision, a brutal vulture seemed to be taking shape in Li Yao's shadow, which opened its dark gold wings wreathed in black fog and sprang to the sky in a heaven-splitting shriek!
Shangguan Ce smiled.
He had met several Children of the Occult Orbs before.
Growing up in an enclosed environment, the geniuses were all haughty and eccentric. They dwelled in their own world and considered themselves to be the hopes of the Heaven's Origin Sector. Cultivators of the outside world were nothing but jokes for them.
If this 'Vulture Li Yao' were to encounter a Child of the Occult Orbs one day, what kind of dazzling sparkles would burst out?