Li Chengfeng’s face changed immediately. He kicked the ground under his feet, backing up as far as he could. This magical beast, Grim Stork, chased Li Chengfeng as it tried to tear and bite him to pieces. Li Chengfeng ran for his life, swearing in his mind, ‘Is this an illusion? But this illusion doesn’t make sense! How can such a beautiful woman just turn into a Grim Stork in an instance?! How will I view beautiful women from now on? Also, why didn’t they give me a weapon? How could they possibly ask me to fight with this beast with just my fists?’
Just as he was thinking, he suddenly felt something in his hands. As he looked down, he realised he was unknowingly holding the sharp bone spear he had previously gotten from the Grim Stork.
Li Chengfeng was elated! ‘With a celestial weapon that slices through metal like butter, you think I’d still be afraid of a magical beast?’ he thought to himself.
Li Chengfeng felt a gush of wind behind him. As if he had eyes on the back of his head, his feet immediately jumped off from the ground. His body propelled up to the sky like a human cannonball. He somersaulted in the middle of the air and dodged the Grim Stork’s claws just by a hair’s breadth. While he somersaulted, both of his legs perfectly landed on the firm and thick forelimbs of the Grim Stork. Using his martial arts skills that he had been practising since childhood, Chengfeng twisted his body and jumped on top of the beast’s forelimbs with his legs. Utilising the momentum to climb up the body of the creature.
With little effort, Li Chengfeng successfully climbed onto the Grim Stork’s back. He held up his sharp bone spear and slammed it down into its spinal cord. The Grim Stork let out a painful shriek as its spine started gushing out with blood. Li Chengfeng continuously stabbed the Grim Stork non-stop as he screamed, “How dare you hit my father! How dare you kill people from my family! I let you get away last time, but this time, I’ll make sure I take your last breath!”
Li Chengfeng stabbed it three times more, and the Grim Stork fell onto the ground, its body trembling all over. Just as Li Chengfeng was about to deliver his final blow, the gigantic Grim Stork suddenly shrunk smaller and smaller. It morphed into Li Chengfeng’s own mother – Madam Xie!
“My dear son, please, don’t kill me!” Madam Xie begged as she was covered in blood.
Li Chengfeng had not expected this. He was so shocked that all he could do was stand and stare. He knew that this was fake, but she looked just like his dear mother. How could he possibly kill this creature that looked like an exact replica of his mother?!
Using Li Chengfeng’s distraction to its advantage, the morphed Madam Xie’s face suddenly turned menacing. Her fingers twisted into long sharp claws and her arms grew tremendously larger. In a split second, she managed to pierce through Li Chengfeng’s heart. Blood immediately came spewing out of Li Chengfeng’s mouth, splattering across Madam Xie’s face, a horrifying sight to behold.
Li Chengfeng let out a scream in agony. He grabbed Madam Xie’s arm, and frantically tried to pull out her claws as hard as he could. But at this moment, Li Chengfeng had already let his guard down. In front of his eyes, Madam Xie’s form started to morph rapidly, turning more massive and enormous, until it morphed into the Grim Stork once more. It opened its mouth wide and devoured Li Chengfeng in one gulp.
Li Chengfeng’s body had disappeared into the mouth of the Grim Stork. This enormous magical beast held its head up and grunted as its throat swallowed him whole. After it was sure that Li Chengfeng had been consumed in its stomach, it glanced up and made a deafening roar.
The roar was so loud that even the earth shook!
Su Yuehan, who was just outside the third test, was resting in the spacious court with the crowd when she suddenly felt her body tremble. A glimmer of shock flashed by her eyes. She cautiously looked left and right and quietly changed the location she was resting at, carefully merging herself into the crowd to hide. Then, she laid by the stone column in the Court and closed her eyes, as if she had drifted to sleep.
Meanwhile at the top of Ling Bridge, increasing cries of agony resonated through the skies as more people fell from the clouds. The clouds were so thick they blurred any sight after only ten meters. It wouldn’t matter where one was in the crowd when they heard those screams of pain, it would no doubt freeze them to their cores. But the more they feared, the weaker and unsteady their hearts became, hence many had fallen from the clouds.
Those who had fallen from the clouds were caught one by one by flying cultivators mid-air and brought safely back to land. Most of them were bawling their eyes out, while some of them were scared sh*tless and some were just glad they were still alive.
This test may look straightforward and dull, but in all honesty, it was dangerous and terrifying. Once your heart’s defences had been destroyed by the illusions— the best-case scenario would be to fall from the clouds, the worst-case scenario would have your heart’s defences forever broken, to be left with an everlasting trauma forever. And in turn, it becomes a weakness. In the future, if this weakness had been found out during combat, the enemy could exploit and violently attack it! Then the consequences would be unimaginable!
But worst of all, once immersed in the illusion the contestant would have to face their inner demons and engage in a vicious fight. If the contestant could not defeat nor be defeated by the illusion, then they would ascend into the second level of the illusion’s cycle. This would eventually descend anyone into madness!
Li Chengfeng was currently stuck in such a terrifying state. He had been devoured by the monster he feared deep down in his heart, yet he was still giving his all to fight back! But the process of fighting back seemed endless, he did not know when he would ever break free. And thus, the cycle continued, and Li Chengfeng fell into deeper depths of the illusion.
Li Chengfeng felt his body afloat in a void of pitch-black nothingness, his body unable to move. It even felt as if his entire face had disappeared into the void as well. The only thing he could feel was his consciousness and his drive to live. Just as he was struggling to break free, he suddenly felt a small beam of blue light — similar to a firefly, at the end of the dark void. Li Chengfeng froze, then proceeded to wriggle towards the tiny blue light. While struggling, he made a discovery. He realised the more he wiggled and moved, the closer he came towards the light.
If anyone had paid close attention to Li Chengfeng in the sea of clouds, they would realise that his body was currently floating peculiarly in the middle of the dense clouds. The surrounding clouds seemed to have thin gossamer threads restricting his limbs and body. Li Chengfeng’s eyes were closed shut, and on his forehead shone a faint blue light. But it would quickly go unnoticed due to it being seemingly hidden underneath his hair.
Two people gazed upon the contestants of Lingyun bridge. Sun Boyi felt a sense of schadenfreude as he watched these small fries wallow in pain. Ouyang Xiu remained cold and distant, almost like she did not care whether the participants would live or die.
Ouyang Xiu said casually, “Sun Boyi, now that you have a cushy job, it seems that your head had gotten bigger as well! You dare defy the orders of your Grand Senior Sister?”
Sun Boyi exclaimed for the injustice he faced, “You’ve mistaken, Senior Sister! I would never disrespect you like that! Even if I ate the heart of a lion or the guts of a leopard, I would never refuse to follow the orders of Senior Sister Ouyang!”
This Senior Sister named Ouyang Xiu gave him a smirk, “Hmph, don’t you for a second think that just because we from the Hidden Beauty Court have no bone to pick with you… and we may not have the power to command you, that you could do as you wish. Don’t forget, in two months there shall be an evaluation exam, and I, your Senior Sister, would be the main examiner. You dare betray us? Just you wait! I’ll make you fail the exam and drop your ranking!”
In the world of cultivation, ranked classes were well fortified. Every cultivating sect had their own strict ways to differentiate each class. In which case, cultivators from each class would receive different privileges. Naturally, the manpower and resources provided for each class differed drastically.
The cultivation path requires a large amount of physical and material strength. If one were to experience a drop in their ranks, it would result in them being reassigned and heavily deprived of their original resources. This will inevitably lead to significant delays in the progression of their cultivating practice. Hence, this was why any cultivator with ambition would never want this to ever happen to them.
They knew very well that the road of cultivation was a slow and agonising path.
There was a change in Sun Boyi’s facial expression, he bitterly smiled as he cried, “Senior Sister Ouyang, it really was not because I, your Junior Brother refused to help. I had already tried to sabotage him by letting him go on a huge detour, but who would’ve guessed that the others would be such good-for-nothings! Losing to him and letting him take first place even though he was in such disadvantage!”
Ouyang Xiu smirked, “Now that this nuisance has already received first place during the first challenge, I wonder how you will keep your word but still be able to kick him out legally.”
Sun Boyi let out a laugh “Senior Ouyang, please relax. Rest assured, he definitely would not be able to pass the second challenge!”
Ouyang Xiu leered at him as she replied, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Junior Sun Boyi…. If he does get number one in the second challenge, you’ll be in deep trouble!”
Sun Boyi laughed with much confidence, “Of course not! Senior Sister Ouyang, you have underestimated my illusion skills! If we were to talk about illusory techniques among the younger generations of disciples from the Spiritual Mountain Sect, if I were to call myself second best, no one would dare to call themselves first!”