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A Gold Core decides the Great Way
A famous saying in the Cultivation World[1]

Spirit Sovereign (灵皇; Líng Huáng) is the fifth stage in cultivation. In ancient times, prior to the Ancient Antiquity Era, this stage was only known as the Gold Core Realm (金丹境界; Jīn Dān Jìngjiè), and it was considered as the threshold that would put one in contact with the Great Way.[1] Only since the Ancient Antiquity Era this stage was known as the ‘Fifth Stage’.[2]

After advancing to the Fifth Stage Realm, cultivators would condense a gold core in the dantian, building the foundation that would make them step on the Great Way.

Terminology: Sovereign vs Emperor

According to the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors (三皇五帝; Sān Huáng Wǔ Dì), 皇 (Huáng) is translated as sovereign while 帝 () is translated as emperor.

Moreover, 帝 is used distinctly in certain characters’ name or title such as Heavenly Emperor (天帝; Tiān Dì) and the Four Directional Great Emperors (四方大帝; Sì Fāng Dà Dì).

Position in Cultivation World

In major schools and sects, a Fifth Stage Spirit Sovereign would be an elder or peak leaders.[3] Even in major schools and sects, it’s rare for their disciples to be able to listen to a once a month sermon by a Fifth Stage Spirit Sovereign.

Fourth to Fifth Tribulation

Second Heavenly Moat

Fifth Stage is widely known to be the second Heavenly Moat in cultivation.[4] Many cultivators purposely stayed in Fourth Stage Inborn in order to ensure the maximum number of dragon marks possible.

When condensing the Gold Core, there was no room for regret. After all, once the Gold Core was formed, the number of dragon marks on it would forever stay the same... and the number of the dragon marks was closely related to the future of the cultivator.[1]

Using 100 years from the Fourth Stage to Fifth Stage is considered as fast and can be considered as genius speed. This speed was used by the Demons of the Nine Serenities to entice Beast Realm’s cultivators to degenerate into demons.[5]

Modernised Tribulation

The modernised tribulation for the Fifth Stage was speculated to be an army of elite soldiers. The soldiers would probably use things like guns, landmines, and RPGs.[6]

Closing Up Meditation

Its normal for a Fifth Stage Spirit Sovereign practitioner to enter a closing up meditation for several years at a time.[7]

Resurrection

Method of resurrection of Fifth Stage Spirit Sovereign level is not easy to be obtained. Even the elites of many large-scale schools do not have method of resurrection. It is even harder for loose practitioners to obtain a method of resurrection.[8]

Minor Realms

Fifth Stage Spirit Sovereign is divided into three minor realms.[1]

  1. Solid Gold Core
  2. Purple Gold Core
  3. Glazed Gold Core

However, those with super ultra-high grade gold core will skip the the second and third minor realms. Their gold core will start spurting living spring water until it became a spirit lake.[9][10]

Solid Gold Core

Solid Gold Core (实金丹; shí jīn dān) minor realm is the formation of the gold core from Fourth Stage’s Void Core. A normal gold core is four times the size of a normal void core.

Only if a practitioner had built a solid foundation during the previous four stages would they be able to condense a Gold Core with numerous dragon patterns after advancing to the Fifth Stage Spirit Sovereign Realm.[11]

Spirit Power

After the formation of the Gold Core, the true qi (真气; zhēn qì) inside a practitioner’s body would change into spirit power (灵力; líng lì).[12]

Although spirit power and true qi stemmed from the same root, but spirit power held an overwhelming advantage over true qi. If the two type of energies were compared, it would be like comparing a sword made of wood to a sharp sword made iron.[12]

Grades of Gold Core

Each Gold Core has a certain number of dragon marks. Normally speaking, the lowest number was one and the highest was nine dragon marks.[13]

The Gold Core Realm was divided into low, medium and high grades, based on the numbers of dragon marks. The higher the number of dragon marks, the higher the rank of the Gold Core. And the more dragon marks one had, the further would they be able to walk on the path of cultivation.[11][14]

Grade Dragon Marks Maximum Stage[15] Notes References
Low 1 – 3 Fifth Stage
  • Practitioners with one to three dragon marks Gold Core, without any fortuitous encounter, they would remain a Fifth Stage Spirit Sovereign for the rest of their life.
[11][14][16][17]
Medium 4 Sixth Stage
  • This is the minimum number of dragon marks required to be promoted naturally to Sixth Stage.
[11][14][17]
5 – 6 Seventh Stage [11][14][17]
High 7 Eighth Stage [11][18][14]
8 Ninth Stage
  • Vying for Eight while Securing Seven is the objective of many cultivators.
  • The number of members of the Nine Provinces (1) Group with this number of dragon marks didn’t exceed ten.
  • Demon Emperor Hezhi is the most notable practitioner with this number of dragon marks.
[19][20][21]
9 Eternal Life Being
  • Cultivators with nine dragon marks are rare, almost to the point of unheard of.
  • More than 99% Eternal Life Beings have this number of dragon marks during their youth.
[21]
Ultra High 10
  • Only one known individual in the entire history have this type of gold core.
[4]
Super Ultra High 0
  • Only three known individuals in the entire history have this type of gold core.
  • All three of them became Heavenly Ways
[22][23][10]

Purple Gold Core

In this Purple Gold Core (紫金丹; zǐ jīn dān) minor realm, the practitioner will start the Gold Core Composition (金丹构图; jīn dān gòutú), where the gold core will be the canvas, while the dragon marks will be the ‘pigment’ or ‘ink’. The drawing will be drawn without regret, which means it can’t be erased. Therefore, a practitioner must think and plan really carefully before starting to draw.

Usually a drawing is based on the practitioner’s experience, or aspiration in cultivating. The more complex a drawing is, will represent the path is further than a less complicated drawing.

After finishing the ‘Gold Core Composition’, the ‘Solid Gold Core’ inside one’s body would be further polished, becoming even sturdier. At that point, the colour of the Gold Core would also change, becoming purple gold. This stage was known as the second minor realm of the Fifth Stage—the Purple Gold Core realm.[1]

Glazed Gold Core

Paint a dragon and dot in the eye[24]
Chinese idiom

The final and the most critical step, Completion of Gold Core Drawing or the final stroke of the brush on the Gold Core Composition. This step could take hundreds of years and only come for a short time. Miss that chance, the cultivator might need to wait for another hundreds of years for another chance to come, that if he is lucky. There is a possibility the chance won’t come again for the rest of his life.[25]

A lot of cultivators would get stuck when they had to add the finishing touch to the composition on their Gold Core. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to draw, the problem was that they didn’t know where to start. They lacked that final piece of inspiration and enlightenment to complete the work.[1] Moreover, 50% of Fifth Stage cultivators unable to be promoted, stuck on Gold Core Composition’s final stroke.[26]

Upon completion of the drawing, the Purple Gold Core will change into Glazed Gold Core (琉璃金丹; liúlí jīn dān). Once a cultivator entered this minor realm, he must start preparing to transcend the Fifth Promotes Sixth Heavenly Tribulation.[27]

A lot of Fifth Stage Spirit Sovereigns that didn’t have a sufficient number of dragon patterns on their Gold Cores would be stranded in the Glazed Gold Core realm for all their lives, unable to advance even a little bit.[1]

Monster Core

Monster core (妖丹; yāo dān) are cores condensed by monster cultivators. Instead of dragon marks to denote their quality, monster cores have colours on it, the more the better.

According to some female monsters, the process of condensing a monster core is very similar to being pregnant.[28]

Monster core have the same stages as gold core.

Dragon Showing Pearl

A dragon using its core to attack

Monster core can be ‘spitted out’ as an attack method.

Ancient Witch Blood

Ancient witches will condense Witch blood (巫血; wū xuè) instead of Gold Core during the Fifth Stage.[29]

Celestials

Celestials are unable to condense gold core or any of its equivalent when they are promoted to Fifth Stage. Due to this, they developed an obsession to hunt Fifth Stage cultivators and collect their cores as trophies.[30]

Special Abilities

Transformation

Upon successfully condensing their monster cores, monster cultivators will have a chance to transform their physical bodies into any form of their own choosing.[28] This chance can be used only once.

Mysterious Lights

The energy of a Gold Core can be gathered and turned into mysterious lights of different colours that materialised above the head of the cultivator. The number of these coloured mysterious lights will be the same as the number of the dragon marks on that cultivator’s Gold Core.[31]

The mysterious lights above the heads of Gold Core cultivators weren’t there only for show. Each coloured light could increase the strength of the magecrafts and attacks of the owner by 10%.[31]

Walk on the Sky

Fifth Stage cultivators can walk on the sky without using any magical treasure as if the sky is a solid ground.[32][33]

Trivia

Fifth Stage Spirit Sovereign was the second cultivation level mentioned in the novel.[34] 

Links and References

e d v
Disciple Foundation BuildingFirst Stage Beyond MortalSecond Stage True MasterThird Stage Battle King
Expert Fourth Stage InbornFifth Stage Spirit Sovereign
Senior Sixth Stage True MonarchSeventh Stage Spirit Venerable
Big Shot Eighth Stage SaintNinth Stage Tribulation ImmortalEternal Life Being
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