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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]

Practitioners who had reached the Spirit Sovereign Realm could become elders or peak leaders in large sects, allowing them to become real powerhouses.[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 Spirit Sovereign.

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).

Fourth to Fifth Tribulation

Traditional Tribulation

After the 5 + 1 Heavenly Tribulation, the traditional tribulation ceased to exist and was replaced with modernised tribulation.

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.[4]

Closing Up Meditation

Its normal for a Spirit Sovereign practitioner to enter a closing up meditation for several years at a time.[5]

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.[6]

Minor Realms

The Fifth Stage Realm was a heavenly moat, and the Gold Core decides the Great Way. The gold core was the core of a practitioner, and it would transform all of their innate true essence into ‘spirit power’. In this realm, the practitioner had transcended the need to eat or sleep. The Body of Spirit Sovereign was the biggest watershed between practitioners and ordinary people.[7]

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.[8]

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.

After advancing to the Fifth Stage Realm, practitioners would condense a gold core in the dantian, building the foundation that would make them step on the Great Way.[7]

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]

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 Spirit Sovereign Realm.[11] Many practitioners purposely stayed in Fourth Stage Inborn in order to ensure the maximum number of dragon marks possible.

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 Spirit Sovereign
  • This is the lowest number of dragon mark a practitioner will obtain.
[11][14][16][17]
2
3
Medium 4 True Monarch
  • This is the minimum number of dragon marks required to be promoted naturally to Sixth Stage.
[11][14][17]
5 Spirit Venerable
  • This is the minimum number of dragon marks required to be promoted naturally to Seventh Stage.
[11][14][17]
6
High 7 Profound Saint

Profound Demon

[11][18][14]
8 Tribulation Immortal
  • 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
  • This is the theoretical highest number of dragom marks a practitioner can obtain.
  • 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.
[7]
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]

Increasing the Dragon Marks

Are you a Heavenly Way?
An annoyed White Two replying to Song Shuhang


There are two known method to increase the number of dragon marks after a gold core was formed. However, both methods need the authority of Heavenly Way to be performed.

The two methods are:

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.[25]

Usually a drawing is based on the practitioner’s experience, or aspiration in cultivating. As every practitioner had different experience and or aspiration, even for those who cultivated the same technique, the composition they had would be completely different, and the strength of their gold core would vary in the future.[25]

Although there was no basis for this belief, most practitioners believed that the more complex a drawing is, will represent the path is further than a less complicated drawing.[25] The more complex the Gold Core Composition was, the larger the structure it would have when it materialized as a lake soul during the Sixth Stage Realm.[26]

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][25]

Glazed Gold Core

Paint a dragon and dot in the eye[27]
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.[28]

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.[29]

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.[30]

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. According to some female monsters, the process of condensing a monster core is very similar to being pregnant.[31] Instead of dragon marks to denote their quality, monster cores have colours on it, the more the better.[32]

Some monster cultivators who were adopted by human cultivators when they were young grew to practice cultivation techniques that were originally made for humans. As such, when their golden core formed, core marks similar to ‘dragon marks’ would also appear on their monster core.[32]

Monster core have the same stages as gold core.

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.[33]

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.[34]

Special Abilities

Transformation

The difference between a Fifth Stage practitioner and an ordinary person was not too obvious in human practitioners. However, it could be clearly seen in monster cultivators as they would experience a major change in this realm. A Fifth Stage Great Monster would be able to finally change their form.[7]

Upon successfully condensing their monster cores, monster cultivators will have a chance to transform their physical bodies into any form of their own choosing.[31] 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.[35]

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%.[35]

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.[36][37]

Trivia

Spirit Sovereign was the second cultivation level mentioned in the novel.[38]

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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