It was midnight, and the sky of the desert were extremely clear. The giant stars dangled down from the blue-black sky like countless glittering diamonds, giving the feeling that one could pluck them out of the sky if they stood up on their tiptoes.
Li Yao and Ding Lingdang walked to the depths of the desert, hand in hand.
Their palms were somewhat wet, indicating the anxiety on their mind.
It was because they were paying a visit to Iron God Yan Ba, a Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator as well as one of the strongest men in the Heaven's Origin Sector.
The previous morning, after they successfully won the final competition, they went through thorough physical examinations and treatment to further consolidate the fruits of their training.
Then, they refreshed themselves in the deep sleep capsule and took in a lot of high-nutrition drugs.
After that, the time had come to select the spiritual seeds of Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators, the most alluring benefit of the trip to Ultimacy.
Threatened by the Blood Demon Sector, the Cultivators of the Heaven's Origin Sector were more united than ever. Almost every Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator had provided a spiritual seed. Many battle-type Cultivators even condensed more than one, trying to bring the Building Foundation Stage Cultivators to the best state, even at the risk of injuring themselves.
The spiritual seeds of the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators had different abilities and triggering conditions. Not only did they depend on the level of the user, the ideology of the user would also need to befit the provider's. At least, their understandings about the path of Cultivation couldn't be contradictory.
Otherwise, the success rate of spiritual seed explosion would be greatly undermined, and the odds of derangement would soar.
Therefore, one had to think very carefully about which spiritual seeds to select, because their choice concerned their own life.
The selection of spiritual seeds would proceed according to the rank of kills in the final competition. Li Yao and Ding Lingdang were both in the top 10. Their range of choices were fairly large. Yet, they studied them for a long time, only to be notified by a worker that Iron God Yan Ba, the king of body fundamentalists, would like to meet them.
Naturally, they dared not to hesitate now that a Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator wanted to see them. Guided by their mini crystal processors, they returned to the ground and reached the desert outside of the valley.
On the sandhill in front of them, a man was sitting there alone. Brilliant stars were shining around him, casting a gentle halo above him.
There was not the tiniest spiritual energy leaking out of Iron God Yan Ba. He had become one with the stars over his head and sand beneath his feet, as if he were part of the splendid nature.
Exchanging a look, Li Yao and Ding Lingdang strode forward with their heads held high.
"For the trip to Ultimacy, I spent a lot of time and efforts over the past year condensing two spiritual seeds."
Iron God Yan Ba didn't act mysteriously. Hearing their breaths, he turned around slowly and smiled at them like a friendly next-door neighbor. "Li Yao, Ding Lingdang, are you interested in my spiritual seeds?"
Although knowing that the purpose of Yan Ba's invitation would probably be about spiritual seeds, Li Yao was still somewhat surprised to hear it with his own ears. He raised his eyebrow and hesitated.
"Senior Yuan, it is reasonable for Ding Lingdang to accept your spiritual seed since she is a body practitioner. But I'm a refiner who's strongest using magical equipment. May I ask why you turned to me even though you are a body fundamentalist?"
He had been considering Yan Ba's spiritual seed for a long time, but he didn't understand why Yan Ba would talk to him in person.
Yan Ba smiled, seeming somewhat lonely.
"Body fundamentalists are the living fossils among the Cultivators. Not just body fundamentalists, even the total number of body practitioners has plunged in recent years. Except for the Combat Department of the Grand Desolate War Institution which has been raising body practitioners, they are rarely seen elsewhere.
"Of the thirty eligible Orb Patrollers that are chosen through all the trouble, there are only two body practitioners. As for a pure body fundamentalist who doesn't resort to any magical equipment, there is not one.
"Although the two of you are not disciples of the Marvelous Fist Sect, the Grand Desolate War Institution has always been a close friend to the Marvelous Fist Sect, as they are both natives of the Grand Desolate Plateau. If I have to make a choice, naturally, I want to bequeath my spiritual seeds to Cultivators from the Grand Desolate Plateau.
"We all know Ding Lingdang. She is the best body practitioner among the thirty Orb Patrollers. But you, Vulture Li Yao, have an equally sturdy body despite the fact that you are a refiner, which is even more impressive than the bodies of many common body practitioners. I do wonder how you built up your body like this.
"Triggering my spiritual seed is an agonizing, dangerous process. Only those with strong bodies, such as Ding Lingdang and yourself, have a chance at handling the pain."
Li Yao was dazed for a moment. He didn't anticipate that the reason Yan Ba picked him was because of his endurance of pain. His face turned quite odd.
Thinking for a moment, he replied frankly, "Senior Yan, I considered taking your spiritual seeds before. But I am a refiner, and magical equipment always comes at the top in my path of Cultivation!
"I've absorbed quite a few of your memory pieces and admired the enormous primordial strength that you activated. But I cannot acknowledge the idea that 'bare-handed is better than fully-armed'. This might be what we call a disagreement about the right path of Cultivation.
"I don't know if it is suitable or not for me to accept your spiritual seeds because of our different beliefs.
"It is the same for Ding Lingdang. Although she is a body practitioner, she does not reject magical equipment. If she has the chance to fight in a crystal suit, she won't do it bare-handed.
"Please be aware of that, Senior Yan."
"Correct," agreed Ding Lingdang, who then continued solemnly. "Senior Yan, you are the king of body fundamentalists, and you've been my idol since I was a kid. I hesitated a long time when I was deciding which spiritual seed I was going to take, because I doubted that I could accept the principle of zero reliance on magical equipment. So, I don't know whether or not I'm qualified to accept your spiritual seed.
Iron God Yan Ba smiled and said, "So, you think magical equipment is better than empty hands Everybody knows that!"
Li Yao and Ding Lingdang were both dumbfounded.
Yan Ban eyed them as if they were two idiots, before he opened his mouth again.
"Even a three-year-old knows that magical equipment is better than empty hands! The transition between apes to human beings cannot be completed without the usage of tools, can it? There is no reason why we should abandon tools which have changed from the simple stoneware to delicate magical equipment and just resort to two empty hands."
Li Yao and Ding Lingdang failed to understand what was going on.
Yan Ba's words would have been more than convincing, if they were from someone else's mouth.
But Yan Ba was a body practitioner monk who discarded all kinds of magical equipment and weapons. As a body fundamentalist, he would fight against an overwhelming beast tide with absolutely nothing but his bare hands!
"Are you curious as to why I would say that even though I'm a body practitioner, and why I never resorted to any magical equipment if I felt that it was better than empty hands?
"The truth is, the principle of the body fundamentalists is not what you've considered it to be.
"Body fundamentalist is the most ancient profession in the modern Cultivation world. Not 'one of'.
"During the Great Dark Age forty thousand years ago, the demon race dominated the sea of stars and established a giant, hierarchical Demon Beast Empire. They slew the Cultivators and suppressed the ordinary humans in tyranny, eliminating any possibility of the usage of magical equipment.
"During the thirty thousand years of darkness, we had no jade chips to store Cultivation arts, no flying swords to fight against the oppressors, and no Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures to build up our bodies. If someone was discovered to have been secretly hiding a piece of magical equipment, their family and friends would all be murdered mercilessly by the demon race!
"But even faced with such tremendous pressure, we never gave up our hopes of cultivating. Without jade chips, flying swords, and Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures, the only thing that we could count on was this."
Yan Ban lifted his thumb and pointed at his somewhat dry chest, then he continued speaking calmly. "The only thing that mankind could count on was our own flesh and blood, our veins, nerves, muscles, heart, cells, as well as the power hidden deep inside us that had been passed on by our ancestors and predecessors during times of great trouble after countless apocalypses.
"The power was sealed in the deepest part of our cells. Once we tore off the seals and released the power, it was the start of the rebellion against the reign of the demon race.
"Hence the oldest profession in the modern Cultivation world, the body fundamentalists.
"Body fundamentalists are never too obstinate to learn the advantages of magical equipment and weapons. We never use them because none of the human beings had any access to magical equipment when the profession was created!
"But even without magical equipment, we would fight against the demon race until the last breath with our fists, fingernails, and teeth!"
Li Yao and Ding Lingdang were greatly touched.
Li Yao couldn't help but ask, "But it was thirty thousand years ago. Right now, the human race has regained control over the sea of stars. Magical equipment is more useful than ever, why"
Yan Ba smiled.
"Although the human race is divided and scattered in different worlds, there is no doubt that we are the dominators of our respective worlds, and it's quite convenient to get a piece of magical equipment.
"But, what if the demon race comes back again? What if demonic Cultivators, or even foreign species that are stronger than all others, or an unprecedented apocalypse, come knocking at our door?
"If the threats wipe out the mankind's ability to refine and use magical equipment and we are forced to fight bare-handed again, body fundamentalists will have to step up and lead the rebellion. They will show everyone how to fight a battle with nothing but their hands, feet, and teeth!
"Yes, everybody knows that it is very unlikely that such events will ever occur. But the sea of stars is boundless; who knows what kinds of dangers are lurking in the darkness?
"Therefore, body fundamentalists are never insignificant. We are like a tiny fuse.
"If one day, humanity falls into darkness again and loses all the magical equipment, wethe body fundamentalistswill be the last defense line of our civilization!
"This is the reason why I chose to become a body fundamentalist.
"Maybe my spiritual seeds are not as impressive as others' will be when they explode. But no one can say for sure what will happen in Ultimacy. In the worst-case scenario where your magical equipment is all damaged and your weapons lost, my spiritual seeds might be able to save your lives, and also rekindle the fire of hope for the federation and the Heaven's Origin Sector!"