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Ryu didn’t hesitate. He felt a keen sense of trust in Ailsa.

In his lifetime, he had only had a few friends. Among them, the only ones he considered friend outside of his immediate family circle were Nuri and Elena. It was a sad reality, but in Ryu’s mind, his best friends were his parents and grandparents, this was how close they were.

If others knew of Ryu’s mindset, maybe they wouldn’t know whether they should laugh or cry. After all, what youth considered their parents friends? They would love them and respect them, but friendship? It sounded a bit odd.

Still, this was Ryu’s reality.

However, Ryu couldn’t help but warm up to Ailsa. Although he went out of his way to not read her thoughts, sometimes some of her emotions would breakthrough to him. One such instant was in the moment before she spoke just now.

Ryu felt Ailsa’s inner turmoil, and he also felt that she hadn’t made this decision lightly. So, Ryu decided to reward her with his trust, a fact that couldn’t help but warm Ailsa’s heart.

Manipulating Essence was near impossible. One could only use it for the purpose the Heavens gifted you it for and nothing else. For example, when Ryu evoked Essence after comprehending the Tatsuya Saintly Weapons to the Impose Realm, he had only been able to fill his Fire Dragon bloodline, reason being the Tatsuya Clan was effectively the Fire Dragon Clan.

Back then, the excess Essence had spilled over into Ryu’s Fire Phoenix bloodline as well, however, this once again didn’t break these fundamental rules. Both bloodlines were of a keen fire attribute, thus the conversion was allowed.

However, when Ryu awakened his first two flames to the Impose Realm, he could only helplessly watch the excess Essence dissipate. Although the Fire Phoenix and Ice Phoenix were both Phoenix bloodlines, their separation was incredibly important to the Heavens as each overlooked a fundamental aspect of existence. One life, and the other reincarnation. As such, the conversion was not allowed.

What did this all mean? Simply put, evoking Essence by awakening his Life Flame could only be used for filling his Ice Phoenix bloodline to the very peak of the Pulse Tempering Realm. Using it to form a Qi Blade was borderline testing the dignity of the Heavens.

Still, Ryu followed through with Ailsa’s request. Not only was this because he trusted her, but it was also because he had seen Ailsa manipulate Essence to her will before!

Faeries were a branch race of evolved humans who were far more in tune with the Heavens than the other branches of their race. This connection was what allowed Ailsa to see the limits of one’s potential with just a single glance. However, even among Faeries, the Cultus Clan was a special case.

They didn’t have the high combat strength of the other top tier Faerie Clans, but they more than made up for this with their strengths.

Ryu suddenly felt a fiercer mental connection with Ailsa. This wasn’t because their intimacy had deepened, but rather something Ailsa had forcibly done artificially. If Ryu rejected her now, not only would it cause severe backlash to her, but her foundation would be irreparably harmed.

This one act alone allowed Ryu to understand just how deep Ailsa’s resolve was. How could he bear to reject her now? No matter how cold he was, he would never be cold to such an extent.

The instant he accepted, he felt his control of Essence skyrocket. What once was an energy that removed to budge no matter how he pleaded, though he hadn’t suddenly become capable of manipulating it at will, had at least become malleable.

Ryu felt as though he was lifting something at the very edge of his limit. The strain was almost unbearable.

‘Press on Ryu! Don’t allow it to collapse!’

When one formed your Qi Blade, it was necessary to gather up all the qi in your meridians and pulses and expel it. Once it was expelled, one must control this qi and form it into a sharp Qi Blade. The deeper one’s foundations, the clearer, more defined, and larger the Qi Blade was.

When he accepted Ailsa’s request, Ryu hadn’t hesitated to expel all of his qi. In fact, the ceiling of the underground cave he had hidden in completely shattered, pulverized into fine dust particles as he was exposed to the air.

Simply put, if one failed their First Severing, they would fall back to the initial stages of the Qi Refinement Realm! Ryu couldn’t afford to fail!

For Ryu, controlling his qi, even outside his body this way was easy. Usually this was a tough hurdle all Qi Refiners had to leap over and this was a key reason why only Spiritual Severing Realm experts could send out qi from their body, Ryu had spent the last several months practicing [Demonic Strings], the Earth Grade technique he chose from the Awoken Moon Sect.

Thanks to the Fourth Floor of the crystalline jade, Ryu had already reached the Great Success stage. For a Qi Refinement expert to reach such a level in an Earth Grade technique only Divine Vessel and Connecting Heaven Realm experts were meant to be capable of using… Ryu’s talent was undeniable!

Yet, Ryu felt his body trembling as he tried to form his Qi Blade. It wasn’t because of his own qi, because he manipulated that with ease. But it was because of the Essence he was trying to incorporate into his Qi Blade!

Ailsa felt a wave of despair overcome her as she watched Ryu’s body tremble.

Was she wrong? Had she pushed Ryu down a road of no return? With Ryu’s talent, recultivating from the Lower Qi Refinement Realm wasn’t that big of a deal, but if he fell now, what of The Selection?

To make matters worse, after failing one’s First Severing, one’s body would be completely devoid of qi. The commotion Ryu caused when he initialized his Qi Blade was already massive.

The size of one’s Qi Blade followed the same principle as one’s Spiritual Foundation. A common practitioner would only form a Qi Blade of one-half meter in length for their First Severing, but an absolute genius would form one of five meters for their first.

Yet, Ryu’s Qi Blade, even without incorporating Essence, was fifteen meters tall!

Usually, a Qi Blade formed of neutral qi would be bland and uninteresting. But Ryu’s trembled with a majestic purity, even the skies seemed eager to shatter under its presence.

This fifteen-meter-tall Qi Blade was the product of Ryu practicing three Six Star techniques at once! But even this Qi Blade wasn’t enough to sever the third strongest material in all of existence, even if the target was its weakest point. Without the help of Essence, it was completely hopeless…

‘Ryu…’ Ailsa bit her lip. She was regretting her impulsiveness. Even if they were going to try this, she should have chosen a safer environment for him. She was a failure as a Cultus Faerie.

“No...” Ryu’s resolute voice range out as his Qi Blade began to slowly grow in size. He could already sense that many had already sensed his attempted breakthrough, and not all of them were beasts.

No one would dare to approach while one had formed their Qi Blade. Even the Qi Blade of the weakest Qi Refinement expert could threaten the life of a Connecting Heaven Realm expert. It was just that the price of failing a Severing was incomparably heavy, so no one used it to attack. Such a thing would be foolish.

However, everyone knew the consequences… So while Ryu was struggling for his life and they didn’t dare to approach now, many were looking on with a sinister light in their eyes.

They all knew that there was only one human here with Qi Refinement Realm cultivation, and that human was once first place. Even after a few days of being idle, he was still ranked top twenty. If they could kill him and take his points…

However, even as they were thinking this, their hearts continued to tremble. Though they could sense Ryu attempting to breakthrough, no one saw the size of his blade. After all, compared to the massive size of a Small Realm, a mere fifteen meters wasn’t tall enough to be seen from every corner.

Still, the momentum of this breakthrough… Just how sturdy were his foundations?!

Ryu though, didn’t care about the thoughts of others. He was completely focused on his task.

“… I can feel that your method… is correct… I have too few chances to elicit Essence to descend… I must take advantage of this!”

Even if he failed, Ryu wouldn’t regret it.

Essence slowly began to incorporate itself into his Qi Blade. The once solid edge as white as snow began to turn golden. However, the more golden it became, the more fog seemed to surround the blade, making its once distinct edges grow faint.

Ryu grit his teeth, connecting with the Incubator and throwing three Silver Vein Lilies into his mouth. In one sweep, he entered the Breath of World stage.

It was then that the fading blade began to solidify once more.

Sixteen meters… Seventeen meters… Eighteen meters…

A sharp SHIIING sound reverberated through the skies. Countless trees around Ryu were sliced in half as a formless torrential blade qi swept through the forest. In an instant, the fifty-meter radius around Ryu was completely cleared, leaving nothing but scarred ground.

Nineteen meters… Twenty meters… Twenty-five meters… Thirty meters!

It was now or never. Ryu felt that if he made it any larger, he would completely lose the ability to control.

‘No, Ryu, it must be larger! This isn’t enough!’ Ailsa’s instincts screamed at her once more. She knew this much wasn’t enough.

A thirty-meter-tall Qi Blade… This was already never for a normal expert to enter the Half-Step Divine Vessel Realm. Yet for Ryu, it still wasn’t enough for even the first stage!

Ryu felt completely helpless. When one swung their Qi Blade, they had to emphasize the utmost control. If this wasn’t done, it was even possible for a cultivator to die under their own Qi Blade! Ryu could feel that if he made his any larger, he wouldn’t be able to guarantee that he would strike true.

‘I can only…’ Ryu took a deep breath.

He was already completely devoid of qi. All of it had already been expelled in order to form the foundation of his Qi Blade. Even if he wanted to perform a technique, it would be impossible.

However, Ryu knew there was only one way to succeed. Ailsa had already projected the method into his mind… He had to use [Demonic Strings]… But how could he use a qi-based technique without any qi?!

A roar escaped Ryu’s lips.

One Impose Barrier. Two Impose Barriers. Three Impose Barriers. Four. Five. Six!

Ryu unleashed his everything. The core essence of entering the Impose Realm was to gain the ability to Impose one’s will upon reality. If Ryu wanted to, no one below the Connecting Heaven Realm could even dream of standing before him unless they too had comprehended an Inheritance to the Impose Realm.

Yet, Ryu wasn’t attempting to pressure a mere Divine Vessel Realm expert… He was trying to Impose his Will upon the Heavens themselves!

‘Your Essence… Give it to me!’

Life Flame, Impose Realm. Rage Flame, Impose Realm. Rebirth Flame, Impose Realm. Tatsuya Glaive, Impose Realm. Tatsuya Spear, Impose Realm. Tatsuya Halberd, Impose Realm!

Six barriers layers one atop of each other. For others, this was an absolutely impossible feat, but for the inheritor of the Ice Jade Crystal Body, it was possible!

Ryu didn’t have mind to notice, but Glove of Order trembled with excitement. It too called out to the Heavens, as though telling it to pipe down.

Thunder clouds rolled. Ryu signing a beast contract with a beast who had awoken a Sin Bloodline Talent was already bad enough. Yet now he was actually trying to snatch its Essence for himself?!

Even under the rage of the Heavens, Ryu didn’t let up.

Forty meters… Fifty meters…

The Essence was suddenly pulled into Ryu’s control. Golden lines as thin as a spider’s silk began to form. Normally, these [Demonic Strings] would be invisible, but Ryu had purposely made them as thick as he could for the purpose of controlling his Qi Blade.

Sixty meters… Eighty meters…

At this point, the Qi Blade had grown too large. What once was impossible to see from a distance had suddenly begun to creep up on the horizons of many who hadn’t dared to approach too closely.

“That can’t…” The geniuses of the Core Region mumbled to themselves. They had to be seeing things.

Fortunately, Ailsa who realized the Qi Blade had grown large enough to be seen from kilometers away, immediately took action, using the rolling clouds in clouds to confuse their vision.

However, this was only the good news. The bad news was…

“There must be a supreme treasure over there!” The sharp-eyed young man’s eyes turned red with greed. He still didn’t dare to approach until Ryu’s breakthrough either failed or succeeded, but he had already made up his mind. Whatever it was, he had to have it!

He wasn’t the only one who came to this conclusion. All eighteen Connecting Heaven Realm geniuses who had come this time around felt their hearts tremble. Tribulation Clouds were incredibly rare in the martial world… Even if they were sentenced to death, they would never change their minds… There had to be something beyond their imaginings over there!

Unfortunately for them, the momentum of Ryu’s breakthrough was so fierce that they hadn’t sentence the layering of six Impose Barriers. Maybe if they had, they wouldn’t have made such a reckless decision.

One hundred meters… One hundred twenty meters…. One hundred fifty meters!

In that moment, Ryu heard a shattering barrier. Under the strain of having to control his [Demonic Strings] with Essence, he shattered the final barrier, entering the Great Circle of Perfection!

“Cleave!” Ryu roared. There was no hesitation in eyes, not an ounce of fear could be found.

He was a Tatsuya. Even if death stared him in the face, he wouldn’t take a single step back.

The blade fell from the skies, swinging downward with blinding speed. No one could deny it, before this blade, even a Peak Connecting Heaven Realm expert could only die!

“Now!” The sharp-eyed youth surged forward. Though he was several dozen kilometers away, with his cultivation, just a few minutes would be enough to close the distance, if that.

The moment he sensed Ryu’s Qi Blade cleave downward, he shot forward without hesitation.

However, when he reached Ryu’s vicinity, he could only look on in horror.  

A blade scar ran ten kilometers from point to point, the depth of which was impossible to see.  

At one of its points, a bloodied young man lay sprawled the ground, a ghastly wound oozing crimson across his chest, his life and death unknown.