When Huang Nishang saw him feasting on the stone steps, she yelled, “Hey, you look like you’re enjoying yourself! We’re all suffering here and you look like you’re on vacation!”
Then, she sat down near him and rubbed her knees and heels, staring at his dried meat and water intently.
He smiled and continued eating.
She continued to stare and coughed drily, as if to say, please help this damsel in distress.
He looked at her pitifully. “Doesn’t it smell so good?”
She did her best to look gentle as she gulped, though maintaining a look of contempt. “I can’t smell it.”
He grinned. “Then I’ll eat another piece so you can smell it.” Then, he ate another piece and deliberately chewed with his mouth open.
Huang Nishang raised her eyebrows with rage but held herself back. “It smells so bad! I hate it.”
He laughed privately and continued to eat. “You didn’t prepare your own food and water?”
She whined, “How would I know the test would involve climbing steps?!”
“Are the tests different every time?”
“The tests are different every time for each sect. This is to prevent cheating and prior preparations.”
Chengfeng nodded, took out a piece of dried meat and held it out. She was about to grab it when he retracted his arm and glared, “What are you doing?!”
She glared back. “What are YOU doing? Wasn’t that for me?”
“You’re shameless! You said it didn’t smell good! I was just going to let you smell it!”
Huang Nishang was furious but she forced a smile and bent slightly to accentuate her hips. Gazing at him gently, she asked in a seductive voice, “Brother Li, do you think I’m pretty?”
He looked at her solemnly. “Hmm, if only you could cover two imperfections on your face, then you would be perfect.”
No girl would joke around about matters regarding their face. “Where?”
“The left half of your face, and the right half of your face.”
She raised her eyebrows in rage, “Li Chengfeng, I will fight you!”
He shook the dried meat in front of her and chuckled, “Want some?”
She was furious. Now she must make a choice between her dignity and food!
She gritted her teeth and extended her arm. “Give it to me!”
He put it in her hand and she smirked as if she had won. See, you’re still giving it to me in the end.
However, he quickly snatched the meat out of her hand again and tossed it into his mouth.
When she looked down, she realised in her palm was a twig instead of dried meat!
She was about to rage away when Chengfeng spoke up as he chewed, “You did not even react in time, how are you a match for me? I can kill you effortlessly!”
She shuddered and took a step back cautiously. “No unregulated fights are allowed within Spiritual Mountain! You’ll be stripped of your titles and kicked out!”
He laughed and swallowed, then took a gulp of water. “I’m leaving! Work hard!” With tears in her eyes, she stared at him stubbornly as he walked away.
Then, she gritted her teeth and muttered, “I hope you fall to your death!”
However, her stomach growled again and her anger dissipated. She sat down pathetically and started crying.
An object suddenly fell down from amongst the clouds. Catching it on instinct, she realised it was a small cloth pouch. Chengfeng’s voice rang, “Hey, five thousand silvers! You owe me five thousand silvers!”
She raged, “I hope you die! Five thousand for this?! I won’t pay!”
But Chengfeng did not reply. She was not sure if he even heard her.
She opened the pouch to see seven strips of meat. Her eyes teared up and tears dripped on the meet. She took one viciously and chewed as she cursed, “That jerk, how dare he charge me five thousand silvers for stupid dried meat! I won’t pay you! Do you know how many people line up just to buy me food in Songshan?!”
Rejuvenated, Li Chengfeng continued climbing the steps. After another five thousand steps, he had already left behind tens of people. His clothes were all drenched in sweat. He frowned at his water pouch, realising that water was running out.
He looked up and realised that it was late. Through the mist and the clouds, he could see the sun setting on the horizon. The blood-red sun would disappear any moment now.
However, he still could not see the top of the staircase!
He sighed. Looks like I’ll be spending the night on this mountain! I’m fine with camping but what will I do without water?
Just as he grew worried, there was a rumble in the sky and a storm suddenly poured without any warning signs at all. He immediately opened the cover and filled up his water pouch. When it was full, he laughed heartily, “The heavens will not give me a dead end!”
And when he finished speaking, the rain suddenly stopped as if the storm never happened!
He realised that it was not a coincidence at all. The sect masters might have wanted to prevent dehydration in the candidates.
He thought for a moment then used the remaining light to hurry up a thousand steps. When the skies were completely dark, his clothes were already completely dry. Curling up into a ball, he sat on the side of the steps and fell into a fitful nap.
The stone steps were rough and hard, he slept for about five hours before shooting up abruptly.
Although it was not a long time, he still felt aching all over his body. Even his well-trained body could not take it.
He stretched his limbs and started to climb up in the moonlight.
In the race against the rabbit, the tortoise soldiered on while the rabbit napped. Although the tortoise was a hundred times slower than the rabbit, he still won in the end. This was the importance of willpower.
Even better, Li Chengfeng was not the tortoise in this situation, he was the rabbit!
Although he was the last to climb, he had maintained a constant speed and managed his energy well. When the sky brightened, he caught up to another batch of candidates in front. At this point, he was officially one of the few candidates ahead of everyone else.
Chengfeng found it interesting that the higher he climbed, the wider the steps got until he arrived at a fork!
He sighed when he arrived at the first fork. What did this mean? Are they testing our ability to make choices or our ability to stay calm? If we pick the wrong path, will it still lead back to the endpoint?