Chapter 172: Choice
At the northern region of the Jian Province, at some desert mountain at the border of the State of Yue and the State of Yuan Wu, stood several tens of yellow-clothed people of various height. Their clothes were fluttering with the wind, and their ages had nothing in common; there were some who were old and gray-haired with a face full of wrinkles, near the end of their lives, as well as smooth-skinned, white-teethed and red-lipped juveniles who had yet to enter adulthood. They all stood silently in rows.
At the front was naturally an imposing old man. With his hands behind his back, he motionlessly looked toward the sky, lost in thought. There were four men and one woman behind him, each with a respectful bearing. Among them was that Martial Uncle Wang who had brought Han Li to enter the sect. He currently had a solemn expression.
Behind those five people, there were two orderly rows of yellow-clothed disciples, all with different expressions. A few were nervous, others were either ill at ease, unconcerned, or even glancing all around. There were a few smiling silently, not showing their true intentions.
At the end of the last row, there was a common dark-skinned youth with lowered eyes. He had been looking at the edge of his feet from the very beginning. He didn’t dare to shift his gaze in the slightest, seeming unusually shy.
However, none of these people knew that this yellow boy was silently cursing with resentment.
This youth who was different from the others was Han Li. The group of yellow-clothed individuals were the Yellow Maple Valley’s disciples who were about to join the Trial by Blood and Fire.
Han Li ultimately decided to participate in this almost certain-death excursion. The matter of the two Foundation Establishment Pills was a hapless joke.
A month before, after Han Li found the method to take the Foundation Establishment Pill from Wu Feng, he was greatly shocked.
It turned out that those taking the Foundation Establishment Pill must enter seclusion for three months and must use up all of the medicinal power before exiting. Otherwise, the medicinal power would scatter,greatly reducing the pill’s efficacy. That was why finding out whether or not one succeeded in reaching Foundation Establishment required several months.
Having to wait for such a long time greatly discouraged Han Li.
His original plan after acquiring the two Foundation Establishment Pills was to first take the pills and then see whether or not he had to participate in the Trial by Fire. If he were lucky enough to reach Foundation Establishment, then he definitely wouldn’t go to such a dangerous region. After all, only one in four survived; it was truly too frightening.
If he failed after taking the pills, then it would be imperative that he would enter the Forbidden Area. If two or three Foundation Establishment Pills wouldn’t do, then he would refine three, four or even more pills. He was convinced that his aptitude was far too lacking, and only by taking several Foundation Establishment Pills would he be certain to enter Foundation Establishment.
However with the restriction that he must be secluded for three months after taking the pill, Han Li’s plan was thrown into disarray, causing him to face an awkward situation where he couldn’t get everything he wanted.
(TL: ”鱼与熊掌不可兼得”; literal meaning: you can’t have both the fish and the bear’s paw)
Now, he had to either take the Foundation Establishment Pill and completely give up on entering the Forbidden Area, or he could temporarily put away the Foundation Establishment Pill and wait until after the Trial by Blood and Fire to consume the pills. It was impossible to have the best of both worlds.
After pondering this for almost half a month, Han Li felt that with regards to his terrible aptitude, even if he were to consume both of the Foundation Establishment Pills, his chances of entering Foundation Establishment were still quite low, so he could not give up on the Trial by Blood and Fire.
Actually, it wasn’t like Han Li hadn’t considered waiting five more years to participate in the next Trial by Blood and Fire. At that time, even if he failed to enter Foundation Establishment, his Eternal Spring Arts would have definitely reached its peak. As such, he would have a much greater ability to defend himself.
However, not long after Han Li thought of this, the Yellow Maple Valley’s upper echelon made a declaration that greatly shocked the cultivation world of the State of Yue, causing this idea of his to vanish into thin air.
The details were: five years from now, the Forbidden Area of the Trial of Blood and Fire would be placed under a temporarily sixty-year seal. During this time, the Seven Great Sects would work together and forbid anyone from entering and gathering medicine.
Sealing the Forbidden Area temporarily was not a rare affair. Almost every three to four hundred years, the Seven Great Sects would do this.
Because the Forbidden Area was often opened, the Spiritual Qi within would leak in great quantities. The appearance and growth of spiritual medicines would also suffer as a result. This temporarily seal was to allow the density of Spiritual Qi to return to normal levels.
However, although the Seven Great Sects adopted this measure, the spiritual medicines of the Forbidden Area were still sparse year after year and were increasingly difficult to find. Those particular spiritual medicines required to refine pills were especially rare.
According to a deduction of some knowledgeable expert from the Seven Great Sects, if one truly wanted to restore the spiritual medicines within the Forbidden Area to regular quantities, they must seal the area for no less than a full millennium. This temporarily seal was nothing more than a postponement of the eventual exhaustion of the Forbidden Area’s spiritual medicines. After all, the growth of spiritual medicines wasn’t a matter of merely one or two days.
Despite the actual circumstances within the Forbidden Area, nobody was able to deny or confirm this conjecture. However, the leaders of the Seven Great Sects were incapable of such a painful decision.
The quantity of Foundation Establishment Pills was closely related to the rise and fall of their sects.
If there was a shortage of these pills lasting fifty to sixty years, the Seven Great Sects would merely suffer some superficial damage. However, if several hundred or even a thousand years passed without Foundation Establishment Pills, then not just the Seven Great Sects, but also the entire cultivation world of the State of Yue would be confronted with a life or death crisis.
After all, an area without Foundation Establishment cultivators, could that be still be called a “cultivation world”? If the time came, the cultivation clans and rogue cultivators would all depart the State of Yue and look to survive elsewhere. At that time, the Seven Great Sects would not be an exception.
As a result, although they knew that frequently opening the Forbidden Area was a folly equivalent to killing the chicken that laid the eggs, the Seven Great Sects could not help but do so.
They could only hope that before the spiritual medicines of the Forbidden Area were truly extinguished, they could produce other spiritual medicines to replace them.
This caused the Great Sects’ Core Formation experts, even those Nascent Soul eccentrics, to go out of their way to look for another source of spiritual medicines or to find another solution to prevent their respective sects from falling.
Naturally, Han Li could not have known this. But with this new information, there was no way Han Li would dare to wait five more years for the next Trial by Blood and Fire.
Even slow-minded individuals would realize that when the Forbidden Area opened in five years, it would unconditionally be a storm of blood. Each of the Great Sects’ elite disciples would be put forth in order to scavenge for the last time before the Forbidden Area was sealed away. If Han Li did not participate in this Trial by Fire, then he would be bringing about his own destruction.
Even if this announcement caused the upcoming trip to the Forbidden Area to have greater troubles and more desperate battles, regardless of this, the next was certain to be even more bloody.
As for the folly of participating in the Trial by Blood and Fire fifty years later, he didn’t even think of it.
By then he would have passed optimal age to enter Foundation Establishment. Even if he were able to barely enter Foundation Establishment, he would certainly not be able to tread the path of cultivation for much longer. This was not the outcome Han Li desired.
With that way in mind, Han Li enlisted to participate in the medicine-gathering group and waived his life away. Unexpectedly, the appearance of that Martial Uncle Wang caused Han Li to feel greatly surprised and somewhat regretful.
When Martial Uncle Wang saw Han Li, he was even more surprised.
On one hand, he was greatly astonished that this new disciple would participate in the Trial by Blood and Fire. On the other hand, he almost couldn’t believe how far Han LI’s cultivation had advanced. With Han Li’s aptitudes, how could he progress with his cultivation from the ninth layer to the eleventh layer within such a short period of time? This was far too shocking.
If Han Li were an outstandingly talented disciple, then it wouldn’t be strange; it would be more strange if he hadn’t reached the eleventh layer by now. However, he had personally tested Han Li’s false spiritual roots. How could he have cultivated so fast?
With regards to his spiritual roots, for Han Li to enter the sect at the ninth layer was already extraordinary.
Usually, only by being bestowed magic power by an Elder and frequently consuming a few spiritual medicines, along with diligent and bitter cultivation, could someone be able to achieve this. However, with Han Li currently standing before him with a cultivation base at the eleventh layer, he was incomparably shocked.
Since Martial Uncle Wang was doubtful, he impolitely pulled Han Li to the side and tested his attributes once more. The result was the same as before and stomped any suspicions of mutated spiritual roots.
This caused Martial Uncle Wang to be at a loss.