John landed next to Naelia and Zuri. Naelia gave him a beaming smile, then congratulated him on making the top sixteen.

"And to think the Ancient Blessings of the Three Dao's is a reward for the winner this year," Naelia exclaimed excitedly, her fists balled before her chest. "I never imagined I would see the day."

"What exactly is the Ancient Blessing?" John asked curiously.

"You don't kno- Ah, right," Naelia caught herself, remembering that John seemed to know very little of this tournament and the world around it. She always found that odd for one so powerful, but kept her questions surrounding that to herself. She cleared her throat and puffed out her chest proudly, clearly happy to be the 'experienced' one of the group when it came to the tournament. Being able to answer these questions filled her with a sense of value and purpose, which she enjoyed.

"The Ancient Blessings of the Three Dao's is the ultimate reward for the Dao Transformation tournament, and also the rarest," she started explaining. "It's so rare that the last time it was offered as a reward was over four thousand years ago!"

"That long!" John couldn't help but reply with surprise.

'No wonder it stirred up such a commotion,' he thought, remembering the crowd's overwhelming reaction, and the other participants' look of envy and desire on their faces, Ji'Han included.

Naelia nodded her head. "That long! From what I know, it's an ancient temple of some sorts, created so long ago that I don't even know the details of it. Most of the details are kept secret, but what I do know is that the one who enters it is blessed with an enormous amount of stored Qi, which allows them to raise their cultivation quickly."

"How does that work?" John asked, slightly skeptical. If absorbing Qi was the only requirement to cultivate, he would be doing it nonstop. There was a physical limit of Qi that the body could absorb at once, and so even if one was blessed with unlimited Qi to cultivate with, it would still take a long time to steadily absorb the Qi and integrate it into one's dantian.

"I'm not exactly sure," Naelia frowned, trying to recall everything she knew about the Ancient Blessing. "I think there's a time-altering factor to it, but I'm not entirely sure. All I know is that from stories I've heard, those who entered the temple left it a week later with their cultivations at least two minor realms higher than when they entered."

John fell silent for a while, then thanked Naelia and walked past her towards the tunnel leading to the stadiums interior hallways.

"Ah, where are you going?" she asked, hastily turning around. "Aren't you going to watch the fights? It's the top sixteen, and any one of these fights could become your opponent in the next round."

"I'm going to continue my training," John said without turning around.

Naelia huffed and then rushed up to him, blocking his way. She gave him a glare while he returned a questioning look.

"You need to relax occasionally," she said. "You push yourself too hard. You'll end up causing more harm than good that way."

"I don't have the luxury of time to relax," John replied, moving to step around her.

"Why?" Naelia asked. "You're already so talented, surely you can relax here and there. Why are you pushing yourself so hard? Even Ji'Han stays to watch the fights sometimes, so why can't you?"

"There are two aspects to cultivation," John replied calmly. "Talent, and effort. A talented cultivator will beat an untalented cultivator with the same effort put in, while an untalented cultivator could beat a talented one if they put in more effort. Both are equally important when it comes to cultivation, and I refuse to lose to anyone when it comes to either."

He then walked past her, while Naelia ruminate over what he said.

"With what faces me in the future," John said over his shoulder. "Even training one hundred percent of the time might not be enough. My life isn't so simple as these pampered geniuses like Ji'Han. If I don't train like my life depends on it, I die, it's as simple as that."

John turned the corner, leaving Naelia and Zuri behind. Zuri patted Naelia on the shoulder, then followed John to resume their training, which helped not only him, but her as well.

Naelia watched them disappear, a blank look on her face. She thought over John's words for a while, then clenched her fists, feeling his words reach to her very core. She clenched her fists as she felt a wave of motivation surge through her.

She was a talented cultivator, talented enough to join a pinnacle sect like the Yang-Dao Sect. And yet without realizing it, she had become complacent and unmotivated in recent years. John's words cut through that complacency like a sharp knife, reigniting the youthful passion for cultivation that had allowed her to join a sect like the Yang-Dao Sect.

After clearing her thoughts for some time, she hastily rushed after them. She arrived at the Prime Shadow's room, then sat on the ground before the door, assuming a meditative position. A moment later, Qi started to swirl like a tempest towards her as she resumed her cultivation.

In a distant land, a figure shrouded in black robes floated in the air above a coastal city. The city, Soaring Sun City, was neither small nor large for a city on the Human Continent, with approximately one million people living within its borders. The nearby ocean and the picturesque mountains in the distance gave the city a rather tranquil feeling, one that would be perfect for a cultivator retiring from the life of battle and death.

Marble white buildings made up one side of the city, while fire red buildings made up the other half. The two were divided right down the middle, making the city look quite unique. This was due to the city being controlled by two opposite sects. The marble white side was controlled by the Soaring Sword Sect, a Tier Three subsect of the Sword-Dao Sect.

The red side of the city was controlled by the Rising Sun Sect, a Tier Three Subsect of the Yang-Dao Sect.

Grandmaster Darkcloud studied the city for a moment, then descended towards it. Despite the formations protecting the city and guards surveilling the area, he entered it without anyone's notice.

After making his way through the city, he arrived before the entrance to the Soaring-Sword Sect. The place where Azurae started her cultivation journey.