The silent confrontation between the two of them persisted for some time. Yet, the longer Li Chengfeng and Zhan Qisheng glared at each other, the bigger their scruple and wariness towards each other became!
The logic was very simple. What was scarier than an opponent that was much stronger than oneself? It’s to be much calmer and more patient than your opponent!
Nothing came from the confrontation. As the third person reached the floating island, Li Chengfeng and Zhan Qisheng simultaneously took a breath of relief as they took one last glare at each other.
‘Such an enemy must be eradicated as soon as possible!’ Chengfeng and Qisheng thought to themselves in unison.
The third to reach was a man with a body of average build. He too did not expect to find two others reaching before him, his troubled expression was filled with regret as he thought to himself, ‘Maybe if I had slept less or persevered a bit more, I could’ve been number one!’
Although Sun Boyi never indicated any particular benefits for their rankings, these hot-blooded young men could not help but want to fight to be number one! Why should they settle for any less?
Only the first, second and third place wanted to decide who was the winner among them, but the fourth and fifth person to complete the challenge were much calmer. Since they couldn’t even get third place, there’s no point for them to get upset over it.
Some reached the meadow and sat down immediately, their faces looked like death itself. Some were even worse, collapsing onto the soft earth of the lush meadow immediately upon reaching while they panted heavily like dogs.
After around 15 hours, more and more people have started to arrive. Chengfeng counted them one by one and realised almost a hundred people had completed the climb! The numbers continued to increase with time, Huang Nishang was among them as well.
Chengfeng noticed something peculiar while he was observing, he noticed that while there was light shining through from the sea of clouds, no sun could be seen in the middle sky. The intensity of the light rays that shone through the clouds also had not changed since he arrived.
Just as he felt puzzled from his observation, a small patterned array suddenly flashed onto an empty space in the meadow. Sun Boyi suddenly appeared from thin air, his feet standing on top of the same small array. The pattern of the array looked as if it was burning, emitting a faint glow before it quickly dissipated.
Sun Boyi observed the scene as he smiled, “Wow! I had not expected that there would be so many people here! Not bad! Not bad!”
Upon hearing and seeing Sun Boyi, the challengers on the meadow immediately scrambled up to their feet. Some of them started to sway after standing and proceeded to fall face-first back onto the ground.
Sun Boyi grinned once more. He pinched the tips of his fingers and burnt a fulu seal he had held with his hand. When the fulu seal had burnt completely, the pattern of the seal continued to emit a glow as it remained floating in mid-air. In a blink of an eye, the floating pattern burst into tiny ember fragments, scattered around its surroundings and immediately ignited circles and circles of the patterned flame in the areas it had landed. One by one, countless of small arrays had formed, flying those who had failed the challenge up onto the island. Suddenly, the once vast and lush meadow was filled with people. Some of them were lying down, others were sitting and some of them were more indecent as they laid face-first on the grass. The once quiet meadow was now filled with echoes of wailing from those who had failed.
Sun Boyi observed the crowd once more, “During the first challenge, some had passed while others had not. Those who have passed, don’t be so giddy so soon. Those who have failed, please, do not give up.” He encouraged them.
“Those who have cultivated in my generation did not care whether they came first or last. No matter the time, we listened before we achieved, we achieved before we became aware. These are normal processes that one would go through. Bi Gengsheng from the Profound Life Clan solidified his foundation of cultivation at the age 17, by the age of 27 he had already achieved the immortal golden body state of the seventh heavenly stage. However, from that point onwards, he could not improve any further!”
“Ouyang Qiu from the Phoenix Hibiscus Court completed her foundation training for cultivation at the age of 43, only by the age of 66 where she fully mastered all her skills. When she reached her dying age of 163, she had not even completed her cultivation to achieve the golden body. Yet when she was on her deathbed, she suddenly had an epiphany. Not only was she resurrected from the dead, but she had also rejuvenated her body back to her younger years. Ever since then, she continued to journey the path of cultivation.”
The challengers who stood by the meadow listened to these stories of legendary cultivators told by Boyi in awe.
Those who had not done well during the first challenge were suddenly filled with motivation. One by one, their confidence had been restored!
That’s right! The path of cultivation is slow and long. We can’t give up now!
“The first challenge was to test your physical strength, mental strength and… your decision-making skills.” Said Sun Boyi as he gazed into the sea of clouds. “As for what we will test you on in the second challenge, well… it won’t hurt to tell you all right now. This second challenge is called the Lingyun Bridge! When you step into this sea of clouds, there will be some places that you can step onto, whereas some places look like they could be stepped on, but once you do, you’ll fall from a great height! While some other places would be fine when you first step on it but it does not mean it will be for long.”
Upon hearing such an announcement, many within the crowd started to feel anxious. One young man asked in a tremble, “W-what would happen if we fall?”
Sun Boyi boomed with laughter. “Well, ask yourself how high have you climbed from the bottom of the mountain, once you fall from the sea of clouds, that’s how high you’ll drop! HA! HA! HA!”
Many faces from the crowd immediately changed. In a blink of an eye, the meadow had turned into a screaming mess!
“We came to the Spiritual Mountain to cultivate! Not to kill ourselves!!”
“If I really were to fall to my death, will you people from the Spiritual Moon Sect be able to take responsibility?!?!?!”
“Mom!! Dad!! I want to go home!!”
The crowd was in total chaos. Many were swearing, most were crying, and a lot of them were screaming.
Li Chengfeng furrowed his brows as he stared at the sea of clouds hesitantly. If someone were to fall from such a high place, they would be dead for sure. But… would the Spiritual Mountain Sect really be able to take responsibility for so many deaths?
Sun Boyi looked at the frenzied crowd in disdain as he said “Let me tell you something, the first challenge is similar to what you all must go through during your journey to cultivation in the future. That is the most basic quality to build your foundation! The journey to building your foundation is hard and challenging, and I believe you all had already experienced it during the first challenge. But, even if you did manage to successfully complete your foundation, you are all still situated within this vast sea of clouds. What lies ahead seems endless, you may be able to stand your ground at this very moment, but one misstep and you will fall from high ground, crashing and destroying everything you’ve worked so hard to build!”
The crowd grew silent.
Boyi continued coldly, “Did all of you really think that the journey of cultivation only consisted of going through hardships and exhaustion? Does any one of you realise that many cultivators had died halfway through their journey? Just how many cultivators had passed away from fighting other opponents? The second challenge, first of all, is to test your mental strength and the strength of your motives. Secondly, it is to tell you that during your cultivation path, there might be a chance where you would fall from great heights and fall to your death in a blink of an eye.”
“Now, who will cross the Lingyun Bridge?” asked Boyi slowly.
The crowd stood still, the atmosphere was pin-drop silence.
Not long after, a young man who was wearing a scholar’s robe walked out from the crowd. His face was filled with fear, and his body trembled. His two hands were balled into tight fists, yet his eyes were filled with strong determination. He muttered to himself while he walked towards the dense clouds, “ I must pass, I must pass! My parents are waiting for me! I will definitely pass this test!”
Under the gaze of the crowd, he neared the edge of the clouds and carefully took his first step. After a bit of testing, he stepped into the tak.
Everyone at the scene held their breath as they watched his silhouette stand on top of the clouds. Although his body swayed a little at first, he finally made a stable step in the end. Upon seeing this, everyone started to cheer.
This scholar too was glad, tears started streaming down his face as he exclaimed, “Father! Mother! I will definitely succeed!” While he continued to take careful steps ahead.
The crowd watched him walk further and further into the sea of clouds. Seeing that nothing alarming had happened the past fifteen or so metres, they started to sigh in relief.
“As I said, if we were to fall to our deaths, how would the Spiritual Mountain Sect continue to recruit disciples?”
“In the end, they’re just doing this to scare us!”
“Let us go and follow his steps!”
Having seen the scholar approach the sea of clouds with no harm, those who were courageous started to walk towards it. But in the distance, Li Chengfeng had not moved an inch. He was still busy observing the scene that was unfolding before him. While doing so, he noticed that Zhan Qisheng was calmly monitoring the situation as well.
Just as others prepared to step into the sea of clouds, the silhouette of the scholar that took the first step suddenly swayed, it seemed as if he had taken a wrong step! His feet immediately sank and his body soon followed. The scholar had fallen from the clouds. What accompanied his fall was a loud scream that seemed to stretch for ages. His desperate wails went softer and softer as he fell farther down, eventually disappearing.
The faces of those who were prepared to step onto the clouds paled with fear, their bodies trembled uncontrollably. Some of them were so petrified they fell to the ground and crawled back into the crowd.
The crowd went back to its chaotic state, many of them screaming in rage. Sun Boyi watched them as he laughed, delighted with their sufferings, mocking them with laughter.