136 Chapter 136
The First test came to an end and the day came to a close. The first test was mostly there to get rid of contestants at the lower spectrum. There was no place for people that weren't at a base foundation establishment level. The second trial would test the practitioner's bravery and resilience. The youths would gather in a room with a special treasure. This treasure would give out a menacing killing intent that would be akin to a demonic beast at the middle stage of foundation establishment. The task was quite rudimentary, the contenders would have to receive the killing intent and move forward. If they could move past the placed treasure they would make it into the next round of testing.
This sounded quite easy, even easier than the first test that you had to actually present some bodily strength. In reality, killing intent from demonic beasts was quite invasive. It would cause a person to freeze up and pass out, the demonic aura invading your body and soul. Most early foundation establishment cultivators would find it troublesome. Thus this test was mostly in place to weed out people with a shaky foundation. Badly flawed pillars didn't give a warrior enough protection against this type of mental attack. But there were specialized techniques that blocked killing intent from affecting the practitioner's mind.
"How many of them passed again?"
"All of them passed..."
The person that was responsible for test the earlier day asked about the results of that Zhang Clan. They had made a good impression in the first one, so he was curious about their results which were quite shocking.
"How can they all have passed... resisting such a high amount of demonic killing intent isn't even easy for more battle-hardened warriors!"
There was one standard way that people got used to killing intent. It was quite easy, you just had to face off against many demonic beasts or cultivators, or take part in battles. You would steadily get used to fighting and build up a strong mind that would block things like killing intent from even stronger beings than you. But these were young kids from a middle-sized clan, did they lock them away in some demonic beast infested woods or something, was what this person was thinking.
"Can you tell me how it happened, exactly?"
"Sure brother... it was quite astonishing"
The person responsible for the second test explained everything from his point of view. The rooms that were used for the tests were quite large and could house up to a hundred cultivators at a time. This was mostly due to the treasure that produced the killing intent having a wide range.
The Zhang Clan participants gathered all together. They weren't the only people in the testing chamber though, with them were two other clans that each had twenty-five people. The Zhang Clan had close to fifty participants. The treasure that was giving off the ominous aura was placed at the other side of the chamber, with the cultivators opposite it in a straight line.
The treasure in question looked like a small statue of a demonic beast, inside of it was a demon beast core and it was fashioned in a way to release the killing intent. The man that was responsible for the test didn't think much about the whole thing. The only thing out of the ordinary was the number of people from the Zhang Clan, that were still participating. Normally it would be about half of that, just like the other clans that had twenty-five people with them.
The item was activated and the test started. The juniors were supposed to each the other end of the room where the treasure stood and just walk out of the door behind it. This would indicate that they passed, the whole test also had a time limit of thirty minutes. The man recalled seeing the participants from the other clans. Their faces sunk and they started looking quite pale after getting hit by the demonic aura. They sluggishly moved forward, one step at a time, some of them were even barely dragging their feet forward while resisting the killing intent.
"But those Zhang people were strange... they looked fine but they weren't moving forward... I thought that they had passed out while standing at first. To my surprise, they started walking nonchalantly... they looked fine... like the demonic aura wasn't affecting them at all..."
This was all thanks to Tranquil Mind, which was an already widespread technique around the whole clan. It had zero drawbacks and allowed everyone to think calmly under pressure. It also mitigated killing intent that wasn't over a certain degree, making this test a cakewalk for everyone involved.
"Some of them struggled at the end... but they all made it out within the first ten minutes, the best person from the other clans only managed to leave after a full fifteen minutes!"
The man that asked about the information rubbed his chin, trying to digest the information.
"This Zhang Clan is strange... think we should keep an eye on them. Even people from out Dark Palm sect would have trouble with this test..."
The man was slowly getting curious about this small clan, this wasn't anything serious from his standpoint just yet though. There were more tests after this one, it was still up to debate if more of those Zhang Clan juniors made the cut. The next one would actually test their battle prowess and was also the one that weeded out most of the junior practitioners from the tournament.
The next test was named 'The corridor of puppets' and the name kind of said it all. The participant would walk into the corridor that was quite lengthy and wide. In the said corridor, he or she would find multiple puppets that were similar in power to cultivators in the early and middle stages of foundation establishment. He or she was then supposed to get through this wide passage while being attacked by the angry automatons.
The dolls were quite merciless in their defense, they would quickly surround you delivering punches and kicks. It was quite brutal so the festival organizers had a team of medics on standby. There were numerous of those automatons around which made slipping past them hard. This wasn't all though, there were various traps placed around the area as well. They were mostly there to hinder anyone from just running past the automatons, this wasn't supposed to be just a test of evasion and speed. The participants had to dodge, block and even attack to somehow manage through.
"This should eliminate at least half of those Zhang Clan brats... maybe even more..."
The man smirked, the day of the test had arrived and it was now close to the end. He went inside the building that his companions were grading everyone. He quickly spotted someone that he was familiar with, this man would fill him in on the results of that clan that he was interested in.
"Brother, could I have a moment of your time!"
He went over, giving a standard greeting and then explained everything to the man.
"Hm... the Zhang Clan?... wait... you mean 'that' Zhang Clan?"
The man's tone changed when he was talking about that family in question, the curious man was even more intrigued
"Oh, did something happen? Don't keep me waiting brother, now you got me interested!"
The man responsible for the third test of the aforementioned 'Corridor of Puppets' recounted the events that transpired. The other junior participants were more or less doing the same, the higher-rated clan's had more passing while the lower-rated ones barely managed. Then this Zhang Clan came along, they had the most participants still in the run. Most of the others had from ten to twenty members still in it at most.
This was quite normal as even though each clan helped their junior members out, they mostly focused their resources on a small number of elites. These elite junior members would end up victorious while the lesser ones would stay behind. The Zhang Clan was different in the way, that all of their participants were well rounded. They had their top members with Zhang Tai, Xue and Liu but the rest weren't slouches either. If you compared them to the rest, they were in the elite category and they were many of them.
So, the test started with a bang. A white-haired youth just bulldozed through the corridor without letting any of the puppets even touch him once. He evaded all of the traps and probably set a new record if there was one being kept. Afterward, they continued, no one could match the youth that was first but they still did their best. The later members didn't come out unscathed, leaving with bruises and disheveled hair but all of them managed to power through this test as well. The weaker members had it rough, some of them had to be carried off for healing. Still, all of them made it through, making them have the largest group of people left for the last trial.
This was the second to last testing ground, after this one would come an area that was a mix of all the previous tests. The number of people that the Zhang Clan had put them at quite the advantage though. The last trial was a close of space, a secret ground of sorts. It was a giant maze area where everyone would be put in. It encompassed the entire city and was built right under it.
Every participant would receive a small token. This token represented his life, the purpose of this test was for the junior members to battle it out, with their tokens on the line. You needed at least three of those tokens to pass, if you managed to procure enough you would get marked. The tokens would start giving off a sort of marker aura, that would alert everyone to your location.
The people with enough tokens could then move on to the exit while trying to evade the other participants that would block their way. So even if you lost your token you could still recover everything from another person. Like with the other trials this also had a time limit. You could win by getting three tokens and waiting it out to the end. A reasonable tactic was to wait close to an exit and just steal the tokens from the person that was trying to get out.
"With so many of those Zhang Clan juniors, they have a clear advantage..."
The last test was a battle royale, but people could form groups. Due to the number of practitioners that made it through the previous tests, this clan had a strong advantage over the rest.
"Still, the other clans and sects can also form a bigger group to go against them."
This would probably be the thing that would happen. The names of participants and to what faction they belonged to would be hung out in front of the trial ground. It would open a few days later, leaving enough time for other clans to make some deals. This was also something that was advised and approved by the people that were hosting this tournament. Being able to form alliances was also a measure of strength so it was all fine.
The curious man decided to see how it turned out, but in secret, he went to place a bet on the clan that in his opinion had quite the potential. The number of people that were left after the preliminary rounds at the end, mostly came up to about a hundred. There were close to five hundred participants left, so you'd think that about 160 of them could make it through.
That was a naive way of thinking though. Even though you only needed three tokens, most of the participants would take more than the minimum amount required. There were even times where the contestant count dropped below fifty, when some strong clans with a couple of geniuses made a pact. The next trial would be beginning soon, the ones that made it out, in the end, would be hailed as the big winners and the future elite. The rest only to be forgotten and used as stepping stones for the new wave of young masters.