"I'll let you in on a secret. Senior Brother Jin is challenging the seventh idol today, and he gets beat up black and blue every time, haha. Even though it's a world of caeli, you can feel pain as long as you don't wake up," Liu Wanwan whispered.
"Ahem!" Jin cleared his throat ahead of them, causing her to shut up and wink at Tianming.
"I have another question. Aren't there only a hundred ancient idols? Why are so many people lining up for them?" Tianming asked.
"Of course there aren't only a hundred. There’s only a hundred different classes of idols, but there are many in each class. Defeating any of them in a class will earn you a battle art as a reward. For instance, the first idols are classified under the first level. There are tens of thousands of level one idols alone. The higher the level, the fewer idols there are. Naturally, you can only pick one among idols of the same level and can't change them later. The legacy of the Violetglory Sovereign is the level hundred ancient idol, and there's only a single one. The fact that it still exists means nobody’s succeeded in defeating it yet."
In conclusion, there were a hundred different levels, and defeating an ancient idol would earn him a battle art. Tianming could only challenge the level one idols for now.
Soon, it was their turn to enter. They entered in batches of five, so Tianming and the other two joined Liu Wanwan and her senior brother. As Jin and Liu Wanwan were challenging the idols they were working on countless times, they no longer had to pick which one. Tianming and the other two were first timers, however, so they had to pick one level one idol to challenge from a sea of tens of thousands. Even so, they all looked identical, like a bipedal golden ape.
"To challenge an idol is the same as challenging the reward you chose. For instance, I picked the ancient idol that rewards the technique called Celestial Astral Punch. So, the idol will use that technique to fight me."
Those were probably divine-grade battle arts. As Tianming only wanted to give it a test, he picked the same idol with that technique. After he finished choosing, he stepped into a glowing circle in the hall.
Then he vanished, only to reappear somewhere else. It was a well-illuminated circular arena about ten thousand meters in diameter, sealed off on all sides. "The ancient idol will soon descend. Prepare yourself, challenger!"
The first thing on his mind was letting Ying Huo and the rest out. When he willed it, the tattoos on his body came off and turned into his lifebound beasts. He then drew the Grand-Orient Sword and manifested his four cardinal godswords. Xian Xian spread out across the battlefield, while Ying Huo, Meow Meow, and Lan Huang got used to their bodies in the dreamscape.
"I'm guessing the Greenspark Tower won't work here," Ying Huo said.
The scanning capabilities of the wondersky realm were wondrous, but they left something to be desired. Within this world, Tianming would be slightly weaker than he usually was.
The ancient idol finally descended. It was a golden ape that stood twenty meters in height. It really did look more like an inanimate idol or statue than a living being, but it could move. Due to Tianming's choice, its fists seemed enlarged and shining. Then the idol moved like a natural-born pugilist.
Liu Wanwan said that the idol had been challenged millions of times, and used the technique many more times than that, allowing it to reach peak mastery. Before it even attacked, Tianming could tell that its punches could kill. The only good news was that it had the same amount of power that Tianming had. The more strength Tianming used, the more strength it would react with. The only way to defeat the idols was to supersede them in aspects other than power.
"No wonder they’re hard to defeat." However, Tianming definitely had an advantage with his lifebound beasts and totems.
"The challenge shall commence!" the voice announced, and the ape immediately made its move. It charged straight like a beam of light and came furiously with a flurry of punches. The power of each punch seemed to be instilled with the power of the stars, causing them to cluster and burst with a great sound. They came fast and ferocious.
The idol picked Lan Huang to attack, probably due to its large size. Lan Huang could barely react in time and tried to brute force a response by using its Kilofold Rings, only for the mysterious punches to go through Lan Huang's defenses and rain down on it like a meteor shower, sending it slamming into the walls of the arena almost instantly.
"It really hurts!" Lan Huang cried. During its stupor, the ancient idol rampaged across the circular arena to hunt the rest down, punching everyone with the same technique. Even though they were in a dream, they could feel the sheer impact from the punches.
"Hold on!" If they continued getting punched, they would end up black and blue. Tianming grit his teeth and went on a full assault. Though it wasn't completely accurate, they still managed to use their abilities.
Tianming also used Empyrean Reincarnation with all four cardinal godswords with a power akin to the strike he used to kill Huiyue Hai. Ying Huo and the rest harassed and surprise attacked the ancient idol at the same time, eventually breaking it.
"The ancient idol actually had enough power to match me, my beasts, and totems combined. However, our coordination and techniques were enough to take it down."
Tianming felt like it was a trial of talent. The higher he rose through the levels, the more geniuses who didn't have enough talent would be disqualified. Before he had come in, he was informed by the fairy that ancient idols could only be challenged once every ten days regardless of success or failure. After all, there were a limited number of them.
"You have obtained the Celestial Astral Punch. This has been registered in the wondersky realm. If the technique leaks, you’ll be held accountable. You may challenge the second ancient idol next time."
As for how to get the obtained technique, the wondersky fairy would recite the methods.
"Weird, how could they know if I was the one who leaked a technique if I’m not even an actual Violetglory Disciple?" He felt that there was a loophole. For instance, if he taught Xuanyuan Dao the technique, how would those from Violetglory Star know that Xuanyuan Dao was using it on the Flameyellow Continent? It must have been an accidental twist of fate that caused the wondersky gate in the spirit core to end up in Tianming's hands.
After finishing his challenge, Tianming reappeared on Perplexity Island. Feiling and Lin Xiaoxiao hadn't returned yet, so he had the wondersky fairy recite the battle art to him. With his current talent and thanks to his vita and the insights he had obtained from seeing the ancient idol use the technique, it didn't feel that hard to him. No surprise, for it was among the lowest-level techniques on the island. He felt like he could still take on idols a few levels above him with his level of power.
"I wonder if I'll forget the technique mantra after awakening from the dream." If he didn't, then access to the wondersky realm would be truly precious to him.
At that moment, the other two returned at the same time. Tianming couldn't help but laugh when he saw them; they were both visibly beaten up, with bruises and swelling.
"It hurts..." Feiling said, rubbing her face.
"What kind of place is this? They don't even show mercy to pretty girls," Tianming consoled.
"That's right! I'm not coming anymore!" she said.
"So the two of you lost?"
"Yes!" They nodded at the same time.
"I just wasn't ready. I'll beat it up next time," Feiling said.
"Big Brother, did you succeed?"
"I did. Let's see if I remember the technique after waking up."
Waking up was a simple matter of wanting to. Sometimes, even changes in the real world could cause one to inadvertently awaken from regular sleep, let alone a seemingly lucid dream like this.
Tianming took a deep breath and opened his eyes, finding himself back in the Flameyellow Continent. It was already daytime. He stepped out of the heavenly locus formation and stretched refreshingly.
"Big Brother, do you still recall the technique you got?" Feiling asked nervously.
"Let me try." Tianming clenched his black fist tight and struck, causing the power of the stars to make waves in Xuanyuan Lake. Though the Celestial Astral Punch, being an average divine-grade battle art, couldn't compare to the Hexapath Samsara Sword, the fact that Tianming could recall and use it meant that a new avenue of cultivation had opened up to him.
"Looks like I have heaven on my side." Tianming turned and passionately looked at the moon. "It's about time I sent Huiyue Jie on to the next life, huh...."
Meanwhile, at Huiyue City....
"Quickly go in! My brother has something to ask you!" Huiye Yin said, harshly kicking Huiye Shi.
"Sister Yin, why’re you being so hard on a fellow woman?" Huiye Shi complained.
"Just get in!" she snapped.
Huiye Shi kept quiet and entered the courtyard. Then her shriek echoed through the sky.