Translator: Amber.es | Editor: Bubbles | Proofreader: musk
Five days later, the quarterly exams officially started.
From chen shi17-9am to noon, the disciples were faced with the Daoism scripture test in the classroom.
Ji Chaoyun was diligent and eager to learn, and he had long been familiar with the Daoism that Yellow-ranked disciples needed to be proficient in. This assessment was not at all difficult for him. After the literacy test, everyone took a break and went to the Swordplay Arena for the secret realm assessment.
In the past where areas for practicing swordsmanship were divided out, it was now replaced by a teleportation circle.
The assessment time had not yet arrived, and the teleportation circle were still unopened, but many disciples waiting for its beginning were already gathered around.
“I have never heard of the last two exam questions before!”
“If I had known, I would have memorised more. I can’t pass the exam now.”
“What is this, at least you have me gracing the bottom. I don’t know how many times I left them blank.”
The sounds of wails echoed among the disciples. In contrast, Ye Chenxing was as cheerful as a spring breeze. He lowered his voice, saying, “Chaoyun, you’re really too good. You taught me more than half of the exam’s questions. I should have no problem with this assessment.”
Ji Chaoyun smiled. “A coincidence.”
“What coincidence? This is strength.” Ye Chenxing hooked an arm around Ji Chaoyun’s shoulders and grinned. “After tomorrow’s quarterly exam, there’ll be a break. Let’s go to the lower realm and have a good time, how about that?”
“This…” Ji Chaoyun was about to answer, when he suddenly felt a chill from his back.
He raised his head. Feng Qi was walking quickly from the front, staring at them intently.
Ye Chenxing decisively let go of Ji Chaoyun, and quickly explained, “I suddenly remembered that Chen shixiong of the Black level wanted to find me for something. I’ll head there first!”
Bei Ran: “Wait, I will go too!”
“You both wait—” Before Ji Chaoyun could finish speaking, the two ran fast, and soon disappeared.
He gathered his confidence turned around. Feng Qi raised his brows slightly, his eyes flashing with a victorious smile.
“Why were you looking for me?” Ji Chaoyun asked, standing beside the pine forest surrounding Swordplay Arena.
Feng Qi moved forward half a step, dropped his head, and lowered his voice as he told Ji Chaoyun, “I will give you a final chance. You’re really not reading the cheats I’m giving you? The secret trial is not as simple as you think.”
Feng Qi ‘tsk’-ed. “Stubborn.”
Although he said so, his face showed no anger. Feng Qi lowered his eyes to look at the person close at hand, and couldn’t hold back; he raised his hand and squeezed that face. “Want to help you, yet you give me no chance. Really too… Why is your face so hot?”
Ji Chaoyun turned his head and avoided his hand. “Don’t touch me so casually.”
Ji Chaoyun’s body temperature was lower than that of normal people, and even if there was some abnormal warmth on his body, it was still much lower compared to others. Though his temperature change was not obvious, Feng Qi still noticed it.
Feng Qi rubbed his fingertips, and smiled. “I’m being too close to you. Shy?”
From some distance, Immortal Lord Kaiyang—who was in charge of supervision—arrived, which meant that the assessment was about to begin. Ji Chaoyun turned to leave.
“Wait, I haven’t finished speaking.” Feng Qi raised his hand and pressed onto Ji Chaoyun’s shoulder, but the latter avoided him. However, in that instance, a tiny glow emerging from the tip of Feng Qi’s fingertips concealed itself into Ji Chaoyun’s hair bun. This spiritual power was too weak, so the latter did not notice it.
Turning serious, Feng Qi warned, “There are many traps in the secret realm. Once you get caught in one, it is difficult to get out, and very easy to get injured. You have to be careful.”
Seeing his good intentions, Ji Chaoyun nodded. “I understand. Thank you.”
Ji Chaoyun returned to Swordplay Arena. Immortal Lord Kaiyang announced the start of the assessment, and everyone split up, entering the secret realm at the same time.
He opened his eyes. They were teleported within a stone forest. 2石林. Image:
Rugged stone pillars and pinnacles stood before them. The three of them looked at each other and stepped into the centre cautiously.
The so-called stone formation was naturally not as simple as defeating a stone man. There were thousands of strange rocks in this stone forest, which unpredictably changed and it was easy to get lost within. Yet, the real stone man was hidden amongst all that, which meant they had to decipher between real and fake.
It was silent until Ji Chaoyun suddenly stepped on a loose stone slab. His heart was startled. “Beware!”
He dragged the other two back a few steps, as when he’d stepped on that area, the stones were dislodged. Rubble rolled down, and they were blown to pieces by the hidden weapons in the deep pit.
Ye Chenxing looked down at the pit and swallowed. “This, this secret realm… shouldn’t really cause deaths, right?”
Ji Chaoyun: “…Best to be careful.”
As Feng Qi had warned him, there were many traps in the stone forest. The three of them were avoiding the traps while looking for the stone men, and their progress was extremely slow.
Ji Chaoyun stopped. He raised his hand and touched his forehead, and the unusual heat caused his brows to slightly frown. At the same time, another imperceptible warm sensation was faintly radiating from his body.
…It shouldn’t be so coincidental ba?
“Chaoyun, what’s wrong with you, are you uncomfortable?” Ye Chenxing asked.
Ji Chaoyun shook his head. “Nothing.”
He raised his head and looked into the air. Hanging above their heads, the glowing number was still ‘Seventeen’.
This represented the seventeen teams that had already entered the stone formation.
This place was not the true secret realm. Only when the stone formation was broken would it transport the team to the place where the real assessment was located. And the sequence of breaking the stone formation would determine the order of entering the secret realm.
There were a total of 1,500 evil spirits in the secret realm. Each victory against one evil spirit was worth one point, and the beings would not be reborn. That was to say, the later they entered the secret realm, the more disadvantaged their situation would be.
If Ji Chaoyun’s assessment results this time fell to the bottom five in the Yellow level, he would be kicked out of the academy.
His two companions noticed Ji Chaoyun’s worry, and Bei Ran asked, “Ji dage, what should we do now?”
Ji Chaoyun pondered for a moment. “You go to the stone’s summit. Follow our plan.”
The two nodded, leaping up and down towards the top of two pinnacles, one east and one west. Ji Chaoyun retrieved some talisman paper from his sleeves. He whispered the incantations and raised his hand, several talisman papers soaring out to stick to the center of the stone wall.
“Break!” Ji Chaoyun retreated quickly. Almost at the same time, several stone summits in front of him exploded.
As he backed up, he continued to take the talisman papers from his sleeve. In a blink of an eye, he blew up everything in the vicinity. The rocks splashed across the stone forest, and amidst the billowing dust waves, there was a very unusual movement.
“Chaoyun, I saw it. North-west!”
Ye Chenxing called out loudly, and the three of them rushed north-west all at once. After the billowing dust dissipated, the three of them surrounded a stone pillar. The stone pillars that were originally dead suddenly twisted and changed, and the rugged stone walls continued to grow and elevate, eventually forming a tall stone figure.
Simultaneously, the number on the screen finally changed.
Two teams had entered the secret realm.
Ji Chaoyun only glanced at the number without paying much attention.
Participating in the secret realm assessment were the Black and Yellow disciples at the same time. More than half of them were not entering the secret realm for the first time. Hence, the speed of breaking through the formation was naturally quicker than their own.
He glanced at the two beside him, nodded to them, and together they raised their swords and rushed towards the target.
Outside the secret realm, several high-level disciples surrounded Swordplay Arena.
Every time the assessment day came, the academy would give a day off. However, most disciples used to only care about quiet cultivation, and even during their rest time, they had nowhere to go, so they could only come to watch the battle and join in the fun.
In Swordplay Arena, several light mirrors floated in the air in a semi-arc shape, projecting the situation in the secret realm. At this moment, there were only two teams left inside, both of which were Yellow-ranked disciples.
From the distance, Feng Qi sat leaning on a branch, looking at the light screens from a distance with a slight frown on his face.
Unsure why, he felt a little uneasy today, but he couldn’t tell exactly where this anxiety came from.
Nothing was going to happen, right?
Feng Qi leaned on the branch, vexed. He closed his eyes to regain his composure. A voice rang from under the tree. “I guessed that His Second Highness Feng would come. Why, can’t rest assured?”
Feng Qi opened his eyes, and said with dissatisfaction, “Song Zhifei, why aren’t you accompanying Jiang Cheng to oversee the exam and instead came here to find me?”
Song Zhifei replied, “Jiang Cheng fell ill today and did not participate in the examination.”
Feng Qi had been worrying all day and he really didn’t notice whether Jiang Cheng had come. He snorted. “He simply doesn’t want to see Ji Chaoyun.”
Song Zhifei smiled. “I like that little dragon’s temperament very much. It’s no wonder that Your Highness cares for him, but such a pity he doesn’t seem to understand Your Highness’ deep consideration.”
“Deep consideration?” Feng Qi’s eyes wavered and he asked, “What makes you think I have deep consideration for him?”
Song Zhifei: “It doesn’t matter how I feel. The important thing is whether Your Highness is aware of your feelings.”
Feng Qi’s breathing stagnated. His heart seemed to be tapped lightly by something, and the subtle and unspoken emotions were revealed to the sky without warning.
Feng Qi did not refute, nor did he show the slightest peculiarity. He stared at the person beneath the tree for a long time, and meaningfully said, “Song Zhifei, you really deserve to be the first disciple in the academy, and a mortal ascending to the Heaven-level. Regardless of how one cultivates, when it comes to doing things for people, Jiang Cheng is incomparable to you.”
“Thank you for your compliment,” Song Zhifei said. “I’ll stop here. I’ll head back to supervise the examination.”
He turned to leave before suddenly hearing Feng Qi speak softly, “I heard that Jiang Cheng will go back to succeed as the Master of the Island once the school year is over. If you have nowhere to go, you’re welcome to Dengyun Building.”
Song Zhifei paused, and said politely and respectfully, “This person is doing well at the Supervisory Hall. I am grateful for your kindness, Your Highness.”
Feng Qi gave a cold snort in response, its meaning unknown, and said nothing as he leaned back against the tree trunk.
In the Stone Forest, Ji Chaoyun and his party were still dealing with the Stone Man.
The stone men in this formal assessment were several times stronger than the ones they had encountered before. Even though the three of them cooperated tacitly, the challenge was still difficult. With the loss of spiritual power, Ji Chaoyun’s discomfort became clearer, and even his reaction speed was much slower.
“Chaoyun, beware!” Ye Chenxing shouted. Ji Chaoyun had yet to react when he suddenly saw a figure rushing towards him.
Ye Chenxing stood in front of Ji Chaoyun, and received a punch from the stone man in the back. He groaned, and the two staggered back, rolling into a piece of rubble.
The side of Ji Chaoyun’s face was pierced by a stone, but he didn’t care about it. He quickly threw out two talisman papers to restrain the movement of the stone man, and lifted Ye Chenxing up. “How are you feeling?”
Ye Chenxing’s face was pale, and he silently cursed before making a sound. “…This thing’s actions are just too ruthless. Fortunately, I resisted it.”
“Ji dage!” Bei Ran called out loudly in the distance. “We can’t go on like this. What should we do?!”
The two looked at the light screen above their heads at the same time. The number on it had become an ‘Eight’.
The teams participating in the assessment this time had eight Black-level teams and nine Yellow-level teams. That was to say, at least one team of yellow-level disciples had entered the secret realm.
“There must be another way…” Ji Chaoyun whispered.
How did Feng Qi do it when he was first assessed?
Freshmen were required to participate in the assessment three months after enrollment. Feng Qi enrolled late at the beginning of the year, and it was less than a month before the quarterly exam. Immortal Elder had originally intended to put him on hold for a few months, but Feng Qi had been arrogant and decided to participate in the assessment either way, easily winning first place in the test.
Ji Chaoyun originally thought that he might be able to force a breakthrough by relying on his advanced cultivation. But not long ago, Feng Qi had wanted to tell him the secret of the stone formation.
Was there really another solution?
The three of them stood in a stalemate, and the number of light screens above their heads gradually decreased, and the speed was getting faster and faster. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three.
There were only three teams left.
Physical discomfort and time constraints cleared Ji Chaoyun’s thoughts. He calmed down and looked around. In the past three months, he had thoroughly studied the stone man. If there were other solutions, it would only be in this stone forest.
Strange rocks in the stone forest. The roads, rough and difficult to walk. Even having countless traps hidden around…
“There are many traps in the secret realm. Once you fall into it, it is difficult to get out, and it is very easy to get injured. You have to be careful.”
Ji Chaoyun suddenly remembered what Feng Qi had told him before entering the secret realm.
It was as if a beam of light broke through the clouds. Enlightened, Ji Chaoyun said loudly, “It’s the trap! Lead it into the trap, use the terrain to jam it, and trigger the hidden weapon mechanism to deal with it!”
An incense stick had passed and the number on the light screen above the stone forest returned to zero. The last three teams entered the secret realm at the same time.
The contiguous towering cedar trees hid the sky, and the moisture in the forest compensated for it, leaving it extremely cold.
A ray of light shone in between the foliage of the trees, and Ji Chaoyun stepped out of the teleportation circle, a thin layer of sweat on his forehead. In the distance, water gurgled, and a winding creek ran through the forest. Ji Chaoyun walked over slowly, half-kneeled on the ground, and washed his face with the water.
Upon closer inspection, his fingers were already trembling slightly.
Ji Chaoyun wiped off the water droplets on his face, and raised his hand to unfold a light screen.
On the light screen, there were two scoring lists, which recorded the current rankings of the Black-level and Yellow-level disciples respectively. The first disciple of the Yellow-level now had seven points.
Of the three teams that finally entered the secret realm, a total of 13 people, at the moment had a zero next to their names.
Ji Chaoyun stared at his name at the end of the leaderboard. He gave a light laugh and closed the scoreboard, got up and walked towards the forest.
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