Translator: Flying Lines
"Hey! You fool. There's no way we could pass the test. Why don't you stop?"
"Bro, have some rest. Don't struggle any more. It's useless."
"Do you want to die? If you do not quit now, it will cost your limbs and even your life!"
The other candidates came to notice Shiao Chen, a weak weirdo who kept moving and caught up to those who had given up one by one in spite of all the difficulties. The sneer that had crept upon their lips was gradually replaced with admiration.
The words came out of their mouths, no matter what, had little effect on Shiao Chen. He just looked down on the channel and climbed up inch by inch, emotionless.
"Oh! I win! I pass the test!" A surprising shout was heard from the finishing line. The victory belonged to a robust boy. He straightened up from the channel, proud of himself, even though the icy water had turned his wounds to black and purple.
Right now, Shiao Chen had just covered more than half of the distance. The faster current, the colder water and the bigger pieces of ice made him as slow as possible, but he showed little sign of flinching, just like a little junk struggling in the sea which could always get to the shore safe no matter how raging the sea was.
Every other while since then a surprising shout would give out on the top, and every one of them were either in good physical fitness or had learnt Ku Fu before. The Dao Seeking Fall may badly injure them, yet was not difficult enough to stop them from reaching the end line.
Shiao Chen, comparing to them, was like a tiny little loach trapped in a muddle. No matter how hard he tried, he would still embarrass himself.
Yet at some point, he had attracted enough attention with admiration from both the candidates who had quit the test halfway and the winners.
"Time is up!" The cultivator in charge of timing at the bottom of the slope gave out a shout, sighing secretly.
"Finally it's over!"
"What a pity! He tried so hard, yet he still failed."
"I have told him it's useless, but he would not listen. In the end he is no better than us."
"He is the most persistent guy I have ever met. The failure today will certainly not stop him from get successful in the future."
Both the winners and those who failed felt great relief and a bit of sorry for Shiao Chen when they heard that the test was over. They all wondered would he ever climb to the top if he was given more time.
But time was up and the test was finished.
"Go get them down from the channel. Take those who passed the test to the Chief Steward of the lay disciples and send those who failed back to their rooms and later back to their homes in 15 days." Elder Hu frowned, showing a bit of impatience. He had been preparing to break through to the next level these days, so he had no intention to waste more time on those candidates who failed two tests.
"Aye!" More than 10 cultivators summoned their flying swords and flew to get those teenagers who were still in the channel. Soon only one figure was still climbing towards the top inch by inch.
"Elder Hu, what do we do now?" One of the cultivators hesitated and landed to ask for instructions.
"Hum! No need to ask me. The test is over. Do you expect me to waste my time here? Get him back and treat his injuries. We don't want any trouble if he get disabled because of this." Elder Hu got more impatient, waving his hand irritably.
"Aye!" The cultivator dared not to disobey, so he got on his sword and was about to fly.
"Wait!" At this moment, a laugh came near from afar.
In the meanwhile, a green light came across the sky and stopped at the bottom of the slope. When the light disappeared, Elder Hu was surprised to find Alchemy Taoist standing there. He asked in a respectful tone of voice. "Senior, what brings you here?"
Alchemy Taoist, the fifth disciple of the last Chief Master whose cultivation reached the Complete Phase of the Foundation Establishment and a third-class alchemist as well, held a far more important position than Elder Hu in Luoyun Valley, so the latter looked cautious and respectful even a bit of ingratiating in the face of the former.
"Uncle Master!" The other disciples greeted Alchemy Taoist with respectful bows.
Alchemy Taoist waved his hands and smiled. "He is persistent. I am intrigued to find out if he can climb to the top or not."
"Senior, if that's what you want, I'll give an order not to interrupt him." Elder Hu smiled as well. He was only an Elder in the Valley. How could he dare to reject such a small request from Alchemy Taoist, who was not only a good alchemist but also was likely to upgrade to the Gold Core in the future.
Thus a weird scene appeared before the Dao Seeking Fall, where dozens of cultivators stood and watched a boy climbing against the icy water inch by inch.
The higher he got, the slower he climbed. Cutting wounds covered all over his body and some of them swelled due to blood lost and cold water.
Admiration flashed across Alchemy Taoist's eyes. Shiao Chen's tenacity and strong will would have made him a rare talent for cultivation. What a pity that he had no spiritual root at all.
6 hours had passed, and darkness fell in the valley. Now Shiao Chen was only one step from success.
Finally, a bloody hand reached at the end line and grasped a rock, trying to pull its owner up. Slowly he got to his feet and straightened up in the astonishing eyes of all the audience. He stood at the top of the channel, swaying back and forth, as if a breeze could blow him down.
He opened his eyes, trying to force a smile on his face, but all of a sudden he fell backward. The unyielding will that had supported him all the way to the last vanished when he finally stood at the top, and his strength diminished along with it.
A gentle force held up his body before he fell to the ground. Alchemy Taoist had come to his side at some point. He looked at the boy with a faint smile on his face, frowning.
"You have the will and determination for cultivation, unfortunately not the spiritual root! Luckily you have met me! I will keep you by my side, and your future lies in your own hands.
"Elder Hu, I will take him in as a nominal disciple. Please send his jade ID tablet to my residence." After this, Alchemy Taoist flew away like a beam of light, leaving the other teenagers full of admiration.
Herb Valley, Alchemy Taoist's residence, was an important place in Luoyun Valley because its owner was not only a powerful cultivator who had great hope to level up to the Gold Core but also a third-class alchemist.
It was several kilometers long, planted with countless rare spiritual herbs which gave off strong fragrance. In one of a dozen stone rooms, a young lay on the bed with his brows furrowed.
"Did I pass the test or not? Where is this place?" Shiao Chen opened his eyes and examined the room with great care.
It was a small room, clean and simply decorated. Sunlight spread through the window and shone on an unknown green plant.
He remembered he had been climbing the Dao Seeking Fall but not a clue what had happened next. It seemed he had passed out.
Then did he pass the test?
At that moment, the door was pushed open from outside and a pretty figure walked in.
She had an exceptional face with curved brows, a high nose and a small mouth, noble and otherworldly. Her skin was white and smooth, and her black hair curtaining to her waist, elegant and graceful.
She was Ji Yuewu!
She froze a bit when she saw Shiao Chen was awake, but soon she regained her calmness and said plainly. "Master has left an order that you drink this bowl of medicine when you wake up and then find him in the Herb Valley." She put down the bowl and turned away.
Her eyes had never looked at Shiao Chen through the whole length.
He did not notice her indifference toward him. Even if he had, he would not take it personal. She was a gifted talent with a spiritual root beyond compare, and naturally she would be more proud than others. Besides, he was anxious about his own fate right now. It appeared he had passed the test, or how to explain a direct disciple was asked to bring him medicine? Still he was restless before anything was certain.
He gulped down the medicine, stretched a bit and then walked out of the room. He noticed that he seemed to be stronger and full of energy that would never ran out. He gave a thought about it and concluded that no need to be so surprised since Luoyun Valley was such a prestigious school.
Anxiously he walked through the yard and felt the jealous stares from the lay disciples taking care of the herbs. When he caught a sight of the figure not far way, he stopped and kneeled with respect and caution. "Immortal, Shiao Chen is here to thank you for your grace of rebirth!" Though he had been out of consciousness that day, he remembered how badly he had been injured. Now he was completely recovered, it was not hard to guess who treated him.
Alchemy Taoist turned his head and smiled. With a basket full of herbs on his back and soil on his hands, he was no different than an ordinary old man who was picking herbs in the mortal world.
Yet Shiao Chen's respect for him did not lessened.
"Rise to your feet, young boy. I take you have accept me as your master. This is your jade ID tablet. From now one you will be a nominal disciple of mine." Alchemy Taoist put the tablet on Shiao Chen's hands, and couldn't help but feel sorry for this young boy, who unfortunately had no spiritual root or else would be a perfect candidate to inherit his legacy.
As haughty as him, if he had not moved by his unyielding will and determination, he would never have taken a disciple with no spiritual root.
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