Lord Yue faced everyone and announced, “Everyone listen up. Move forward into the bamboo forest and the path will take you to the Seven Mysteries Sect’s Bone Refining Cliff. The first section of the road is the bamboo forest, a wall cliff comes after that, and then you will arrive at the Bone Refining Cliff. Whoever can reach the peak of the cliff will be able to join the Seven Mysteries Sect. If you are not able to by the afternoon, you can still become an unofficial secret disciple as long as you display a remarkable amount of prowess.
While Han Li didn’t understand the meaning of a “secret disciple”, he just knew that he had to climb a cliff. Looking some distance away, the cliff did not look very intimidating, and with the bamboo being so thin, navigating through it would surely be easy!
Looking at the other children, Han Li wasn’t willing to lose to them. Even though they were just children, the atmosphere was nerve wracking.
Lord Yue looked towards the sun and said, “The time is almost here. Be prepared to move out! Don’t worry be too cautious, as your senior disciples will be behind you to protect you from any danger.”
Han Li looked behind himself at the group of people who were apparently senior disciples. They must be the disciples from the previous examination. If they were able to join the sect, then would he be able to wear the same type of clothing as they were?!
Just as he was pondering, Han Li suddenly realized that the other children had already scrambled into the bamboo forests. With this shocking realization, he promptly ran into the forest as well.
The bamboo forest was unusually large that the moment the 30 children ran in, they all scattered off into different directions. Behind Han Li was a slim looking senior disciple with a cold look on his face that followed Han Li without saying a word. Because of intimidating appearance, Han Li was a little fearful of him and began to increase his pace to scale the bamboo forest slope.
This bamboo forest gave off an eerie sensation, but after walking through the forest for so long he began to feel extremely tired. As he walked, his legs grew heavier and heavier and soon he had to use his hands to grasp at the bamboo and pull himself up in order to put less pressure on his legs.
After persevering in such a way for a period of time, Han Li was feeling unbearably tired. He quickly found a nicely sized dirt mound and sat down to catch his breath..
With nothing else to do, Han Li turned his head back to observe the slender senior disciple. While the ground was still fairly steep, the senior disciple had still continued to stand there. There was not a single speck of dust to be seen on him, and he stood tall like the bamboo around him. From above Han Li, the senior disciple looked down at him.
Han Li saw the senior disciple’s cold look, and he became slightly afraid. Han Li quickly turned his head around and listened for the others, and soon he heard quick and heavy panting in front of him. He then realized he would have to try even harder to catch up with the rest of the children. Han Li rested for a few more moments before quickly moving up to catch up with the others.
The slope was getting even more difficult now, and Han Li’s energy was rapidly depleting. In order to maintain a decent pace, Han Li began to stoop down and continue on his hands and legs. It was then that his clothes were brutally tattered while his limbs were scratched up.
Though he was relentlessly approaching the end of the dense bamboo forest, Han Li grew worried that this road would only become more and more difficult. On the ground he began to see more and more rocks while the bamboo shoots appeared much less frequently.
Finally, Han Li could go no further by relying on the bamboo, and the final part of the slope could only be traveled a meter at a time.
The moment he made it out of the bamboo forest, an incomparably large mountain stone greeted his eyes. On the stone wall, many different children were slowly and carefully scaling it. Behind each one of them was a senior disciple. Han Li didn’t hesitate and hurriedly ran to the stone wall to climb it.
This stone wall had several layers of overlapping rocks due to the overwhelming eroding power of the wind. Some of the parts of the cliff looked dangerously fragile, but of course there were still plenty of firm footholds. Although Han Li had exceptional perception, the task seemed impossible when considering that his pitiful appearance. He had not eaten in awhile, his skin was terribly cut in numerous places, and his clothes were tattered to pieces and torn open in some places. Despite the wounds being tiny, some broken gravel had made its way inside, causing his wounds to hurt even more.
The people ahead of him had already climbed far ahead of him, but remembering the words of his family and third uncle, Han Li could only bite his lips and urge himself forward.
His father, mother, and third uncle had all warned him how brutally difficult the entrance examinations were. If one didn’t have perseverance, then they would not be able to join the Seven Mysteries sect. At this moment, however, Han Li didn’t care about joining the Seven Mysteries Sect. In his heart, all he wanted to do was to give it his all and beat the others.
Han Li tilted his head upwards to look at the climbing Wu Yan. Wu Yan was older than Han Li and had practiced martial arts before, so it was for certain that his body was in a better shape than Han Li. Climbing this cliff wasn’t too hard for him.
Han Li turned his head back to see many more of the children just behind him. Letting out a deep breath, he continued onwards.
Even with all of his strength and determination, Han Li wasn’t anywhere close to the forerunners. His body was getting heavier and heavier while the sun was gradually climbing higher into the sky. Wu Yan was also nearing the end of the cliff.
The cliff was virtually vertical, and was roughly one hundred meters high. From the apex of the cliff there were several dozen ropes hanging, reaching all the way to the base of the cliff. Each flax rope was sturdy and and had a firm fist sized knot. Wu Yan was the first to grab onto the rope and started to slowly pull himself up.
Han Li looked and tried to find Wu Yan, but when he found him he started to lose confidence. He knew that it would be impossible for him to catch up to those at the front at this point because there was simply not enough time.
While having these thoughts, he suddenly realized that his elbow and his knees had been decimated from his ordeal. The pain in both areas had abruptly hit him at the same time and a searing pain flooded his limbs. His arms and legs no longer responded to his commands and he panicked, clinging onto a rock for support. He was quivering and his body started to slowly slip down. Han Li was terrified and his heart pounded. He hugged the rock tightly and did not dare to move a single muscle.
After a while the pain subsided, and he reached out and grabbed a rock that was jutting out the side of the cliff. As he pulled on it slowly and lowered himself down to sit on a another particularly large rock, he began to feel relief.
Han Li turned his head around and saw a senior disciple standing there with his arms wide, prepared to catch Han Li should he fall. Seeing this Han Li was reassured and he started to slowly stand back up.
Han Li was truly grateful, as he understood that, if it weren’t for that senior disciple, he would drop to his death the instant he ran out of energy. Grabbing onto the flax rope, he slowly began to pull himself up.
Han Li finally reached one of the hemp ropes, but the sun was almost already in the middle of the sky and there was only an hour left before it was midday. At this same moment, Wu Yan had reached the top of the cliff and looked back down just in time to see Han Li reach the bottom of the rope. By coincidence Han Li had met his eyes, only to see him raise up his hand, extend his pinky, and bend it twice as an insult to the children still climbing below. With a fierce laugh, he departed from the area.
At this Han Li grew irritated and returned to climbing.
But Han Li was utterly exhausted and now he couldn’t even grab the knot firmly.
He drove himself past his limit to climb up the first knot, and then he sat back down, his body feeling soft and weak with no energy at all. He couldn’t even lift a single finger and turning his head was an ordeal. He looked to the top of the rampart and saw a few children sitting at the top, stuffing their mouths with food. He looked up at them and panted, utterly tired.
Han Li could only force himself to laugh as he realized he had gravely underestimated this test. Luckily, he at least wasn’t in the last place. He turned his head to look behind him and was startled when he saw the senior disciple coldly glaring at him. Han Li hesitated for a moment and then decided to start climbing up once again. He only moved up a little bit, as, although there was still time left before noonday, he understood that there was no way he would be able to finish. But how could he stay motionless? Wasn’t that too unsightly!
Han Li let out a little laugh and then stretched out his stiff arms. This movement caused them to regain some feeling. He then started to climb up again, but at this point his arms no longer listened to him. He could only lightly grasp at the rope but never hold it firmly. Nothing he did was effective.