Someone passed Jing Jiu and walked straight ahead.
That person's body had rigid lines, as if carved out with a chisel and hammer. He looked very powerful and seemed to be impossible to break, as if he were made of the strongest steel.
Jing Jiu knew that he was none other than Bai Qianjun.
He was the Immortal Bai's nephew, and had been cultivating in a remote valley on the Cloud-Dream Mountain.
Like Zuo Rusui, who had been behind closed doors on Tianguang Peak, he was highly expected by his sect.
Yet, the whole world knew that Zuo Rusui had stayed behind closed doors for over twenty years; few people were aware of Bai Qianjun's existence, and so he was even more mysterious due to his low profile.
Judging by his powerful energy, his prowess had probably surpassed Luo Huainan; he should be in the Yuanying State now.
Soon afterwards, Xiang Wanshu, Tong Yan, Bai Zao and a few other names were formed by the birds on the cliff wall one after the other.
There were seven Center Sect disciples, including Bai Qianjun who walked ahead of everybody else, on their way to the entrance of the valley.
Seeing this scene, the Cultivation practitioners couldn't help but discuss the matter. Here was the Cloud-Dream Mountain, and the Fairy Book was offered by the Center Sect; so they didn't have too much to complain about. Besides, even if the Center Sect hadn't limited the spots for other sects, those Cultivation sects couldn't send that many talented disciples anyway.
The Green Mountain Sect was the only exception.
Guo Nanshan, Gu Han, Jian Ruyun and the others stayed put in the same spots, as Zuo Rusui headed toward the entrance of the valley.
He folded his arms with the drooping eyelids, looking like he hadn't had a good sleep last night. His whole body exuded a cold intent, making others feel as if it were impossible to approach him.
The participant from the Fruit Formation Temple was a young monk with a Buddhist nickname "Thatched Cottage". This young monk had his hair and beard shaved, so nobody could recognize him as He Zhan.
Sese's Cultivation state was not high enough to participate in the competition. No one from the Great Marsh participated in the competition either. The West Ocean Sword Sect hadn't sent anyone to the event because they didn't want to place themselves in an awkward situation.
The competitor selected by the Kunlun Sect was a middle-aged man who disguised himself as a scholar waving a fan. His demeanor was truly boring, but he considered it to be quite the attention grabber.
The competitor from the One-Cottage House was a true young scholar. He wore plain cotton clothing, and didn't hold a fan in his hand, but a scroll.
As they saw this young scholar, many people remembered that he was one of the strong competitors in the Dao Competition.
He was the personal disciple of the One-Cottage House Master, Bu Qiuxiao. He had studied diligently for over twenty years. It was said that he was recognized by one of the guarding magic treasures as its master. Was it the scroll in his hand?
Que Niang, as one of the winners during the last Plum Meeting, also obtained a spot in the competition.
Another winner in the last Plum Meeting was a free-traveling practitioner.
It was an extraordinary achievement that he could win in the Plum Meeting without the support of any Cultivation sect or the guidance of any master.
As the free-traveling practitioner walked to the entrance of the valley and took a look at He Zhan, he couldn't help but let out a chuckle while shaking his head.
It was apparent that the two of them knew each other, and they perhaps even knew each other very well.
It was not a surprise, since He Zhan had made many friends when he had traveled in the world as a free-traveling practitioner.
The last one to come out was a disciple from the No-Mercy Sect. The Cultivation practitioners didn't expect this.
This No-Mercy Sect disciple was very young, thin and dark-skinned. Seeing him, people tended to think that he was naïve and inexperienced.
Mister Pei was defeated by the Godly Swordsman of West Ocean again and died as a result. Didn't the No-Mercy Sect follow his orders to shut down the mountain?
Why did the No-Mercy Sect send this many disciples to the event, even someone to participate in the Dao Competition?
More than forty young Cultivation practitioners stood outside the Huiyin Valley.
Apart from Guo Nanshan and the others from the Green Mountain Sect, almost all of the best young practitioners were gathered here.
Countless gazes were fixed on these young practitioners participating in the competition; but whom would these participants fix their gazes on?
A couple with ruffling white cloth and dress was ahead of them.
These young practitioners were fully aware that the winner of the Dao Competition would be one of these two.
Jing Jiu had the strongest Cultivation state.
But in the Illusionary Realm of the Cloud-Dream, it was not necessary for the strongest to be the ultimate victor.
There were seven participants from the Center Sect, including Tong Yan, Bai Qianjun and others; they would do their best to help Bai Zao.
Bai Zao perceived those gazes, and also knew most of them were fixed on Jing Jiu.
She felt proud…and also a bit worried. She glanced at Jing Jiu from the corner of her eyes.
The first parts of the Dao Competition should be easy enough for Jing Jiu; but he might encounter problems when he was in the Illusionary Realm.
She thought that Jing Jiu was quite capable of learning how to use schemes and deception, but he might not like such trickery.
Anyhow, she could not give the Fairy Book to him, because it was passed down by her ancestors, so it was her responsibility to keep it on the Cloud-Dream Mountain.
She looked at Jing Jiu and said with a sweet smile, "When we are in the Illusionary Realm, I may not recognize you."
This statement had a few meanings.
"When I meet you, I will be able to recognize you," said Jing Jiu.
Bai Zao smiled softly, musing that Jing Jiu actually knew how to use sweet words.
There was a building in the deep end of the Huiyin Valley. It was like a grand hall, with a large space inside the hall, enough to contain one thousand people.
Fifty Cultivation practitioners stood in the hall, but it didn't feel crowded.
There were many chairs scattered in the building. All sorts of peculiar mountain fruits and tea were placed on the tables. No caretakers or servants were around to serve them, so the participants helped themselves.
Some of the participants walked to the tables to pick up the teacups to drink and talk to each other in a low voice, either because they had a calm temperament, or because they tried to conceal their nervousness.
And many of them were truly nervous. They stood in the same spots, not knowing what to do.
As Jing Jiu was about to take out his bamboo chair, he suddenly remembered the advice given by Zhao Layue back in the chess tournament of the Plum Meeting, so he dragged a chair at random to a corner and sat on it.
Zhuo Rusui moved as well. He followed Jing Jiu to the corner, and stood against a door.
His eyelids still drooped; but he was not drowsy at the moment. He glanced at Jing Jiu from time to time.
If Jing Jiu were somebody else, he would ask why the other person was looking at him a few times, and they would start a conversation.
Yet, Jing Jiu didn't pay attention to Zhuo Rusui. If he wanted to look, go ahead. The morning sun over the mountains was observed by a great many people; so what?
Though Jing Jiu didn't pay any attention to Zhuo Rusui, someone else was.
That thin and dark No-Mercy Sect disciple also came to the corner for some reason. He stared at Zhuo Rusui straight on without even blinking his eyes, both full of alert expression.
The others had noticed the movements in that corner, and started discussion in hushed voices.
Tong Yan looked at them coolly. He didn't care what they were talking about, but he paid close attention to their emotions and demeanor.
In comparison to the Plum Meetings, the participants in the Dao Competition were much stronger. To ensure that his Young Sister would obtain the Fairy Book, he had to do some preparation work in advance.
It was advantageous to be able to recognize the participants after entering the Illusionary Realm of the Cloud-Dream. It was impossible to recognize the other participants through their appearances and magic treasures, so he had to recognize them by their established habits, like how many fingers one used to hold a teacup, their standing posture, the hairstyle…
Xiang Wanshu and other disciples of the Center Sect didn't know what their Big Brother Tong Yan was doing, but they exchanged looks to ensure that they remembered the hand signals to be used in the Illusionary Realm to recognize each other.
Bai Qianjun had a nonchalant expression on his face as he gazed at a spot in the distant Empty Realm, deep in thought.
They suddenly heard the sounds of birds fluttering their wings outside the building.
The crowd looked at the outside of the building.
The fluttering sounds grew increasingly more frequent; there must be more and more birds coming.
The sounds of birds fluttering their wings traveled back and forth inside and outside the building; it was deafening.
Countless birds flew over from the outside of the valley. They were so many in number that they seemed to have covered heaven and earth and blocked out the sun. It was a formidable scene.
Those participants who had a weaker mental power changed their countenance, as they looked around reflexively.
For most of the participants, they thought that this was one of the tests of the Dao Competition, so they stayed put even if they were curious.
Bai Zao thought that they had guessed it right. This was the first test of the Dao Competition, though it was not intended to test those birds.
The birds had eventually dispersed.
A tiny girl appeared in the building.
She was really tiny, about five inches tall; she could easily fit on the palm of an adult.
The girl was very pretty, like the demon woman in the Alien Land. She seemed to be made from glass, as she seemed transparent.
Yet, her energy was extremely light, lighter than wind, and purer than water. If one closed their eyes, they wouldn't be able to sense her existence.
There were two transparent wings behind her that were fluttering constantly, causing many gusts of gentle wind. The onlookers felt thrilled to see her flying.
"What is this?"
Some practitioners became alert as they looked at the tiny girl fluttering her wings in midair.
Here was the Cloud-Dream Mountain, so they wouldn't do anything recklessly; but what did the Dao Competition try to test them for this time?
"She is the spirit of the Green Sky Mirror."
Bai Zao nodded to greet the little girl who was as transparent as she was nonexistent, and then turned to the crowd, "You can call her the Green Girl."
The others were startled. Even Jing Jiu took a look at the tiny girl.
Only the Heavenly Treasure could develop the true spirit!
It was said that some true spirits of Heavenly Treasures emerged in ancient times; some of them ascended along with the ancient immortals, and some disappeared into the long river of time.
In present-day Chaotian, it had been a long time since anybody had heard of the existence of any true spirit of Heavenly Treasure.
Though they knew that they would enter the Illusionary Realm of Cloud-Dream through the Green Sky Mirror during the Dao Competition, they hadn't expected that the Green Sky Mirror was a magic treasure of the Heavenly State, and it had a tangible spirit!
"The Illusionary Realm of Cloud-Dream is a world created by the Green Sky Mirror. Though it's not dangerous in there, the spiritual souls of the Cultivation practitioners will draw some mortal cause-and-effect after having stayed there for a certain period of time, which will affect their future Cultivation; the worst result is that the affected Cultivation practitioner may go mad. As such, the Green Girl will ask you some questions later on to ensure you are fit to enter the Illusionary Realm of the Cloud-Dream," Bai Zao continued after the crowd had calmed down.
They were all the most talented practitioners in the Cultivation world, so it was easy for them to understand it.
The scholarly disciple of the Kunlun Sect took a few steps forward and said to Bai Zao, "Thanks for reminding us, Fairy Lady Bai."
He said it sincerely, but what he said was obviously intended to flatter her.
Bai Zao responded with a small smile; but she said nothing in response.
Some of them displayed a mocking expression on their faces, as they thought that Fairy Lady Bai focused all of her affection on Jing Jiu, so why would she pay any attention to this man?
The Green Girl flew to the front of Bai Zao, and said candidly, "I seldom see so many people. I'm a bit scared."
Before Bai Zao could say something, the scholarly disciple of the Kunlun Sect cut in, "Master Spirit, don't be scared. We will…"
It was evident that he intended to please the spirit.
The Green Girl suddenly clapped her hands.
The clapping sound was very brusque.
Immediately, countless residual movements occurred around her, as if thousands of hands were clapping to respond to her action.
Pah!!! Pah!!! Pah!!! Pah!!!
The loud clapping sounds rang out like the rainstorm, echoing in the whole building and also in the valley. The clapping sounds grew louder and louder, like the ocean waves piling up.
The scholarly disciple of the Kunlun Sect didn't have time to finish his sentence. Some of them felt dizzy since their Cultivation state was not high enough and their Dao Heart was not sufficiently steady.
Clapping hands could generate such a formidable energy.
Nobody thought she was lovely anymore when they looked at her again; they instead felt she was rather frightful.
Jing Jiu couldn't help but to look at her one more time. He found that she was indeed a true spirit, except that she was still not perfect yet.
Still, she was much better than the Lone Sword.
He had nurtured the Lone Sword for so many years, but it hadn't truly become intelligent, let alone an intelligent spirit.
The Thoughtless Sword was in worse condition.
The remaining six swords had no chance of becoming intelligent spirits. In his opinion, the iron sword on his back even had a better chance than them.
He was not sure when the Lone Sword would become intelligent, but wished that it could improve its spiritual energy with Liu Shisui.
He heard that the Young Zen Master had written a letter to the One-Cottage House, and as a result, Liu Shisui should be going there soon.
As he was thinking of these matters, the Green Girl finally stopped clapping.
All those hands retrieved back to her body.
The thunderous clapping sounds faded away and the wind stopped.
Looking at the practitioners below her, she said with a small smile, "I believe we can concentrate now. Who wants to be the first?"
Though she would merely ask some questions, those who were judged by her as being unqualified would be unable to enter the Illusionary Realm of the Cloud-Dream and would be disqualified.
Someone asked, "I'd like to ask Master Spirit, how will you test us?"
The Green Girl said, "It's very simple. You must give the answer within one minute; otherwise, you are disqualified. After you give an answer, it's up to me to determine whether it is correct or not."
The rules were simple enough; but nobody came out.
Anyone could figure out that it was definitely not as simple as answering a few questions.
The disciple of the No-Mercy Sect pulled away his gaze from Zhuo Rusui, and stared at Jing Jiu once.
Jing Jiu was rather baffled because the expression in his eyes showed an intent to ask for permission; but Jing Jiu nodded nonetheless.
"Let me give it a try."
The disciple of the No-Mercy Sect came to the crowd and raised his right hand.
"What is one plus one?" the Green Girl asked.
Upon hearing this question, everybody was stunned.
The question was so simple that it must have some deep meaning; what was the answer then?
It was nevertheless the Dao Competition; the questions might seem very simple, but they were in fact hard to answer…
Unexpectedly, the disciple of the No-Mercy Sect gave his answer without a second thought.
There was an uproar.
Some of them almost laughed out.
But the Green Girl looked at the disciple of the No-Mercy Sect with an approving expression, saying, "Not bad, you can enter now."
It was quiet again in the building; the disciples were eying each other, speechless, wondering why this answer was acceptable.
"Who is the second?" the Green Girl asked.
The crowd looked at each other, but no one came out.
These disciples participating in the Dao Competition had attained the last stage of the Undefeated State or the initial state of the Free Travel, or the Golden Pill State, and had a chance of developing their Yuanying in twenty or thirty years.
They might have some personality issues like the scholarly disciple of the Kunlun Sect, but their intelligence was definitely sound.
It must be the case that the Spirit appreciated the honesty and truthfulness of the No-Mercy Sect disciple and let him pass.
In case the next question was a difficult one, or it was as simple as one plus one, but it required a different answer; what should they do then?
Many disciples felt regretful, thinking that they should go first.
"Let me try it."
The second disciple to come out was the Monk Thatched Cottage of the Fruit Formation Temple, or He Zhan. He was utterly disappointed in the world, and had no desire for the Fairy Book, or any other thing. He came here just to take a look. He even had an intention to self-destruct. As such, he didn't care if he would be eliminated.
The Green Girl asked, "What does one plus four equal to?"
He Zhan answered right away, "Fourteen."
"It's an interesting answer. You can enter as well."
Seeing the depressed expression on He Zhan's face, the Green Girl asked, "Why do you look so sad?"
He Zhan was taken aback at first, and then said, "It's maybe because the barbecued fish on the Cloud-Dream Mountain doesn't taste so good."
The Green Girl was a bit upset after hearing this, and said, "If I asked this question, I wouldn't have let you pass."
In the corner.
Zhuo Rusui yawned before saying, "This is a joke."
Jing Jiu didn't heed him.
Zhuo Rusui said, "If I were asked for the advice by the Center Sect, I would suggest eliminating both of us in this test."
Jing Jiu thought that the two of them would be able to pass the test for this very reason.
Otherwise, the Center Sect would be derided for hundreds of years.
Seeing Jing Jiu's expression, Zhuo Rusui figured out what was on his mind. All of a sudden, Zhuo Rusui felt upbeat, and said after rubbing his face a few times, "In this case, I'm entering it now."
"I'll come after I sit here a bit longer," said Jing Jiu.
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