The sect definitely would not allow one person to win first place three times in a row continuously. It was the Spiritual Mountain Sect's hidden rule! The first and second challenge could be manipulated by the examiners, but the third challenge could not.
Hence, if they were to manipulate the rankings, it could only be done during the first and second challenges. However, although the tests may vary in the first and second challenge, the tests’ primary value and direction would be the same. For instance, the first challenge was to test a cultivator's body strength and perseverance; those whose body and determination was stronger would rank at the top. In the second challenge, the main goal was to test a cultivator's mental strength and motivation; the more determined and firm one is, the higher their ranking.
But these two categories of assessment could easily lead to a particular type of person standing out. These people were referred to as warriors.
Those who had trained in martial arts since young had conditioned their bodies to withstand severe training since childhood. They had been enduring harsh training during the cold and bitter winters and the scorching hot summers. As months and years passed, it was a given that they would be able to quickly hone a strong physical body and superior mental strength.
Hence, the stronger the warrior, the easier it would be for them to achieve higher rankings during the first and second challenges. It would be easy for these warriors to continuously achieve first place in both challenges.
This brings us back to why only the first and second challenge's rankings can be regulated and manipulated. Lest the challenger that had won the first two challenges was also extremely promising and gifted, then the Spiritual Mountain Sect would be tantamount to initiating and handing over their power to the champion. And if the winner were to say, "The Spiritual Mountain Sect was not as strong as I expected, I'm out of here!"
What would happen to the Spiritual Mountain Sect's reputation then?!
Sun Boyi did not even care if anyone saw him trying to sabotage the challenge because if he were to succeed in manipulating the rankings, it would be guaranteed that no one would be able to rank first three times in a row. This was what had to be done! Compared to his elder brother Sun Boren who was weaker than him in terms of cultivation, Sun Boyi was a gifted cultivator. Especially in the skill of illusion, where he had a unique talent for. Amongst the cultivators from this generation, he was not to be underestimated.
Sun Boyi was so full of confidence that naturally, Ouyang Xiu had nothing more to say.
Sun Boyi pointed at Li Chengfeng, who was a distance away within the sea of clouds and said, "See for yourself, I’d only meddled a little with his illusion, and he’s already engulfed by the illusion of his inner demons! He'll fall off the clouds in no time! From what I can tell, he definitely won’t pass the second challenge. When he fails the second challenge, I'll find another excuse to make sure he does not participate in the third challenge as well! Then everything will go according to plan. No one will be blamed when we chase him out!"
Senior Sister Ouyang watched as Li Chengfeng's silhouette slowly sank into the sea of clouds and nodded softly, "Though I never would have guessed that this pipsqueak would have such strong mental strength to have lasted this long."
Sun Boyi smirked, "It's just a matter of time."
Senior Sister Ouyang then shifted her focus towards another challenger as she asked, "So, this is the Fourth Young Master from the Zhan family?"
Zhan Qisheng, too had used some cloth to blindfold his eyes and plug in his ears as he slowly walked forward, step by step. Although his speed was relatively slow, his strides and his silhouette were much more stable than the others. The most he experienced was a little wobble every time he took a new step, but stabling himself shortly after.
Senior Sister Ouyang was impressed as she observed him, "As expected from a descendant of a prestigious family, his mental strength is solid. Much more so than the average person, amazing!"
Sun Boyi grinned, "This is just the 'pig' from the 'Dragon Phoenix Dog Pig' quartet, and he is already so impressive. One can only imagine how much stronger and talented the 'Dragon' and 'Phoenix' would be.”
Sister Ouyang replied softly, "The Zhan Family has dominated the Northwest for hundreds of years. As their roots run deep, naturally, all their generations aren't one to wait and be idle."
"Does Senior Sister Ouyang think that this Fourth Young Master from the Zhan Family will be the champion for the second challenge?" asked Boyi with a smile.
Sister Ouyang answered with a slight nod, "It seems so. He's currently the one closest to the finishing line."
While the two conversed, they had not noticed that something peculiar was happening to Li Chengfeng as he was trapped inside his illusion!
Inside the illusion,
The Grim Stork that had swallowed Chengfeng let out a piercing screech that shook the heavens. A ray of golden light had suddenly erupted from the inside of its stomach.
The Grim Stork looked down to observe as it howled, frantically using its two front claws to claw at its own stomach. However, the golden ray of light kept growing more extensive as it continuously shone out of the Grim Stork's stomach. In a flash, the Grim Stork was split into two by the golden light, its blood and bones splattered everywhere before it turned to dust. Within its stomach was a man's figure painted in glowing gold. This person's entire being was bursting in a blinding golden light that could cover the world as a whole. This man stood in the light; his facial features blurred by the brightness, only the golden vertical eye on his forehead that was bursting with light was visible.
The golden vertical eye was slowly closing. Just as it fully shut, so did the golden light. When the golden light had entirely dissipated, this young man's facial features could finally be seen. It was Li Chengfeng.
Chengfeng opened his eyes. His expression on his face was somewhat confused. He looked left and right, only to find that neither the beautiful maiden in white, the Grim Stork, his mother's projection, nor the back garden filled with flora and fauna was in sight. At that moment, all he could see was only a giant gate emitting a faint white light a distance away.
Li Chengfeng walked towards the gate with ease. There were no obstacles to slow him down this time. After walking for about five minutes, he swiftly arrived. The gate had no doors, only a giant frame that stood on its own, not touching the sea of clouds surrounding it. Contained within the gate was a white light that seemed to ripple within the entrance. He reached out his hand to touch it, only to find that it felt just like touching the water.
After some thought, Chengfeng took a giant stride and walked into the gate, disappearing into it.
Just as he walked through it, he immediately felt like he had stepped on nothing and his entire body started to fall! Chengfeng was terrified! Yet before he could react, he had already fallen onto the ground.
The second Chengfeng fell onto solid ground, Sun Boyi and Ouyang Xiu who were on top of the clouds, immediately heard a crisp ringing coming from the bell. Their expressions darkened immediately.
"Did someone reach the finish line already?" Senior Sister Ouyang asked, her eyes wide with shock. "That's impossible! The Zhan family's fourth young master is still right here!" she cried out loud.
Both of them looked at each other puzzled. "Unless… Did we miss anyone else?" questioned Senior Sister Ouyang.
Sun Boyi unconsciously looked towards the direction of where Chengfeng once stood. Upon seeing that it was empty, he smiled, "Well, it couldn't have been that kid!"
"It seems like we have some pretty qualified participants this year! I wonder who won first place in the second challenge," said Senior Sister Ouyang.
In which Boyi replied, "Come with me and you’ll see for yourself!"
The two of them disappeared into thin air with a flash. When they re-appeared, they were already standing in the middle of a humongous stone house.
This stone house was circular in shape. In the middle of the room were five stone pillars that faced east. The stone pillar in the middle stood the tallest, and on top of it sat a chair that gave off an aura of authority. The two sides of the most towering stone pillar were two shorter stone pillars on each with a chair on top. Though each platform had a seat, the one in the middle was far more extravagant and massive than the rest.
At the bottom of these stone platforms were steps made from stone. Each of the pillars was circled with seven steps each, it's tiers pronounced.
Underneath the pillars was a circular field. In the middle of the area was a large ding cauldron with a circumference large enough for three men to hug around it. In the furnace, nine incense sticks of different heights were placed in the middle.
Sun Boyi and Senior Sister Ouyang Xiu took a glance, and both of them were stunned.
Who was it, if it couldn’t be Li Chengfeng?