Li Chengfeng saw what he believed to be a lush green meadow, but only upon walking some distance after regaining some of his strength did he realise that it was not a meadow, but a floating platform. Looking straight ahead, all he could see was a sea of clouds that seemed to stretch infinitely. Around him, stone stairs were hidden beneath the mountains. Surrounding him was fog that seemed to stretch infinitely as well. It looked just like an isolated island in the middle of the sea.
While Chengfeng wandered around the meadow, he found a rock and threw it into the sea of clouds. It was immediately swallowed by dense clouds but the rock made no sound, not even a sign that it landed anywhere. There was no saying where the rock had gone.
Li Chengfeng carefully poked his leg into the clouds and realised that the dense cloud actually had some elasticity to it! As if the clouds could be stood on. Li Chengfeng hadn’t found out what the purpose of this odd phenomenon was. Hence, he did not want to make any careless moves.
So, did this mean he passed the first challenge? What challenge would he be facing right now?
After Li Chengfeng daydreamed for some time, he came to his senses and sat down by the side of the meadow. Eating the last of his food and water.
He slightly hesitated before he was about to finish off the last bits of his food and water. He had only completed the first test out of the three, and he had already finished all of his consumables. Not to mention, his body’s strength was waning. How could he finish the other two challenges in such a state?
He thought for a while, and in the end decided to finish the last of his food and water. Though this decision would jeopardize his situation in the future, he thought if he did not eat now, who was to say that he would have any energy left to clear the second challenge later?
After Chengfeng swallowed the last piece of dried meat slices and his last mouthful of water, he closed his eyes and began meditating. About three hours later, part of Chengfeng’s physical strength had been replenished, coincidentally some nearby activity could be heard as well.
Li Chengfeng turned his head to see what it was. Turned out, another person had appeared on top of the stone stairs. He took a better look only to find out that this person wasn’t just anyone, but Zhan Qisheng!
Li Chengfeng was astonished to see Zhan Qisheng as the second person to clear the first challenge. Zhan Qisheng looked as beat up and unruly as he did, but his clothes were still considerably cleaner. Though his face was now much sharper, and his eyes sunk into their sockets, he looked just like a starving refugee! The arrogant, rich young master’s demeanour that he used to possess was gone!
Although Qisheng arrived three hours later than him, Li Chengfeng still felt surprised and slightly intimidated by Zhan Qisheng’s speed. This was because in his eyes, Zhang Qisheng was nothing but an arrogant and rich playboy. Li Chengfeng thought that he was similar to the saying of being gold and jade on the outside, with only rot and decay on the inside. Yet what he did not expect was him to be the second one to complete the challenge of the heavenly stairs!
Unless... Could it be that he brought some sort of secret magical item to aid him?
When Li Chengfeng saw Zhan Qisheng, he was shocked and cautious. But when Zhan Qisheng saw that Chengfeng was the first to arrive on the platform, Zhan Qisheng felt even more nervous compared to him.
Although he knew that Li Chengfeng had some impressive martial arts in his arsenal, not to mention some incomparable skill conceived as well which subsequently allowed him to harm his entourage, Uncle Sun, severely, Zhan Qisheng still paid no mind to Li Chengfeng. He was not bothered even if he did survive under the deadly claws of the Grim Stork, or if he possessed the golden invite.
Because Qisheng knew, the distance between him and Li Chengfeng was just like the distance between the Northwest to Cheng’ an— They’re thousands of kilometres apart!
Cultivation was not a route that any ordinary person could take. It definitely wasn’t something as easy as receiving literary education and taking a national exam every three years. Nor was it as simple as having persevered ten years in one’s studies despite hardships, and maybe, just maybe, one day they might enter the ranks and become respected scholars.
It didn’t matter how poor one household was. If they were willing to work hard and buy the required textbooks or enter a private scholarly institution, that would do as well. And if they were gifted in studies, those from private institutions would even waive the scholar’s tuition fees!
But cultivation was nothing like this at all!
The poor study to become scholars, the rich train to become martial artists: If one were to cultivate, an entire household could be saved — This was a famous saying whose essence is truth itself! Even if it was an extremely wealthy family, once someone from the household had a cultivator, the family name was basically set for life! It took ten years to learn the foundations of cultivation, and a hundred to cultivate a golden body. This was the path of an ordinary cultivator, and on the long journey to cultivate, one would definitely need to spend their wealth. Describing the expenditure as a mountain of gold and a sea of silver would not be too far off.
The endeavour required tens, hundreds and even thousands of people to support just one cultivator!
On this long journey ahead, even if it was a slightly skilled young man from a declining household with a little bit of money could never be able to surpass him on the journey to cultivation!
But today, Zhan Qisheng finally felt threatened!
Because he knew on the journey to cultivation, one’s family status may boost one’s background; wealth may boost one’s performance, but there was one thing that was the most crucial of them all… and that was talent!
Zhan Qishen was known across the world as the most unnoteworthy among his other three siblings in the famous ‘Dragon-Phoenix-Dog-Pig” quartet, of which he was the ‘pig’.
However, only he knew that he was a bastard son, he was an outsider that had infiltrated the insiders. His eldest brother was a legendary gifted man that the world had not seen in centuries, everyone in the Zhan Family knew by default that he was going to be the next heir to the household name. He would be the future Champion Marquis. He may be young, but his reputation as the Military God is known throughout every household in the Northwest as he was currently in charge of overlooking the Zhan Family’s military.
As for his second sister, she was a phoenix who soared high above the clouds. If one were to talk about looks, even though Zhan Qisheng had yet to see all the beauties in the world, he had no doubt that no woman would ever surpass his second sister in beauty. If one were to talk about talent in cultivation, from what he had heard, the only one who could be on par with his sister’s capability would be the reincarnated immortal from the royal palace — Zhao Feiyue!
At times he even felt that if his sister was not born a woman, she would most definitely become the head of the household in the future instead. But alas, she was born a female. Hence, she concentrated all her focus on cultivation. Without a doubt, the most powerful cultivator in the Zhan Family was his second sister.
And as for his third brother… Although he’s been viewed as the family’ watchdog’, Zhan Qisheng knew that his third brother’s strength should never be overlooked. Just seeing that the Champion Marquis was at ease with letting his third brother take care of their entire Zhan family’s finances, there’s no need to even question his capabilities!
Having such high-achieving older siblings, how could Zhan Qisheng possibly be useless? And how could he possibly be alright with being the useless one among the group? The most crucial part was when he accidentally found out the truth in the past, which resulted in his own birth mother being chased out of the Zhan family. She then became a humble servant but was still being abused by others to this day. And on that very day, he vowed to make those who bullied his mother, and those that looked down on him pay for their misdeeds!
To achieve his goal, he worked hard to portray himself as a useless piece of garbage, he acted like a mad man and a pig! But in secret, he had been training hard like a madman every day. Pushing himself to his limits as much as he can! And what was this all for?
It was all for this very day. So that he could complete the three challenges and shock the entire world!
Yet what he never expected was to lose the first challenge to someone he so despised!
Chengfeng must have surpassed him when he was resting at the last leg! It must be!
Zhan Qisheng’s expression was filled with immense regret!
Zhan Qisheng stared at Li Chengfeng, his fist clenched tighter and tighter. His eyes were filled red with rage!
Should he… Kill him right then and there?
The killing intent in Zhan Qisheng’s eyes flowed out little by little. However, on the other side, Li Chengfeng was doing just the same!
What kind of unlucky day was this? He was unexpectedly stronger than he thought… Didn’t they say he was the ‘pig’ in “Dragon Phoenix Dog Pig”? Unless... He’s *posing as a pig to eat the tiger?!
[*T/L note: This is a Chinese expression that basically means “A wolf in sheep’s clothing”]
As the thought went through Li Chengfeng’s mind, his heart immediately sank.
To have a pig-like opponent was not scary at all. Only when pigs fly, specifically, only when this ‘pig’ in particular was flying right now, that Li Chengfeng knew one day he would also be able to soar through the nine skies as well. He must persevere, only then can he be extraordinary. Which is why, as long as the opponent was a pig, there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Not only did his opponent prove to be more than a ‘pig’ — He was a monster!
Li Chengfeng knew very clearly how the journey to climb up the heavenly stairs was like. How much pain and challenges he had to endure, how much physical strength and energy it needed, and how intense the level of perseverance one needed to continue this journey!
Although he may be called Young Master by others, only he knew the true hardships of his own household. A child from an ordinary family wouldn’t have to go out into the world thinking of ways to earn money at the young age of ten, and definitely would not have to mix with people on the streets to swindle and scam during their teenage years.
The two of them were overflowing with killing intent, yet none of them moved an inch. Even though the two of them believed that once they fight, their opponent must die. One believed in his remarkable skill in martial arts, the other believed in his magical weapons hidden in his robes.
But what really stopped them from killing each other was their worry. How would the Spiritual Moon Sect react if one of them had killed the other?
‘Cross the monument and dismount one’s horse, cross the border and stop the war.’ This saying was most definitely not a joke!
Once someone had violated the Sect’s rules, even if they’re not severely punished, they would most definitely be dismissed from the Sect! This was definitely not an ending that either Li Chengfeng and Zhan Qisheng could accept.
To kill or to tolerate?
This was the challenge faced by these two men right now!
Both of them want to kill each other, yet both of them are afraid of the consequences. But seeing the situation as it is right now, none of them was willing to back down. They looked like two beasts trapped in a small alley, glaring at each other with the intent to harm! Their killing intent surged as they stared each other down like prey to be hunted.
In unison, their minds screamed, “KILL HIM!”