Chapter 459: Trek
Zenith Yin didn't grow angry, instead replying with a roll of his eyes and a chuckle, "My junior disciple's cultivation is too shallow. As his master, it is only natural that I look after him. Although the White Rhino Emblem could be considered precious, I plan on taking the path of profound ice so this item will be useless to me. If I am not mistaken, Brother Man also has a Glacial Ice Pearl. Why not lend it to my disciple? Surely Fellow Daoist doesn't wish for my junior disciple to encounter any mishaps before he enters the Inner Halls!"
"Humph! I cannot allow that youngster to easily die before the Heavenvoid Cauldron is secured. I acquired this Glacial Ice Pearl from a Glacial Carp during my early years. How lucky for you, youngster." With that said, Man Huzi took out a thumb-sized misty white pearl and tossed it at Han Li.
Han Li felt joyful and gave many words of thanks after receiving the item. Although he knew these treasures were only given to him because of his Bloodjade Spider, they would allow him to go through the path of molten rock safely. It was exactly what he had wanted.
Although the Glacial Ice Pearl shone with white light similar to the White Rhino Emblem, it was far colder to the touch, causing his hand to tremble from its penetrating chill. He hastily placed it in his storage pouch, as it appeared to be the more valuable of the two.
When Layman Qing Yi saw this, he chuckled and entered the path of profound ice with a blur. When the other cultivators saw this, they started to successively enter the canyons that they had previously chosen.
After only a short moment, a majority of the cultivators had already entered the canyons.
Zenith Yin glanced at Han Li and amiably said, "Han Li, how about you set off? We'll meet again at the end in a few days."
Han Li saw no reason to disagree and headed towards the path of molten rock. As he was walking forward, he swept his gaze around with a calm expression, resulting in a feeling of anxiousness.
'That old devil, Bone Sage, still hasn't appeared. Could it be that he had changed his mind and slipped away by himself?' Han Li couldn't help but assume the worst.
After all, human hearts were unpredictable. He could've changed his might after seeing the great might of Zenith Yin. If the Bone Sage truly abandoned him, Han Li would bluntly use the Bone Sage's information as a bargaining chip with Zenith Yin to guarantee his life. An ominous glint shone from Han Li's eyes as he thought this.
This movement had caught the attention of others. While Han Li felt slight regret at this, the Bone Sage's voice had suddenly entered his ear, "Don't glance around. I am concealed nearby and have yet to reveal myself. Do your best! I will meet you again after the path of ice and fire is cleared."
Han Li felt some relief after recovering from his surprise and walked towards the passage with large steps.
Hot winds blew past Han Li just as he stepped into the passage, causing him to feel a scorching heat on his body. Han Li frowned and attentively looked forward.
The passage was six meters wide and couldn't be considered very tall. However, the way forward was glowing with blinding red light, placing apprehension in the hearts of those that see it.
Han LI licked his dried lips and glared at it for a moment before moving forward. Each step he took felt as if the temperature was rising. After thirty steps, Han Li was no longer capable of moving forward. The hot winds that occasionally blew past him and the already hot temperatures of his surroundings caused his body to feel pain.
After a moment of hesitation, Han Li covered his body in the water attribute barrier. The deep blue brilliance immediately alleviated the scorching heat.
He then patted his storage pouch and a streak of blue light flew out into his hand, the Fire Repulsing Robes.
Han Li immediately donned robes without much thought and suddenly felt a chill from his body. With roused spirits, Han Li continued forward.
After a dozen steps, he saw a sudden flash of light. A wall of red light was blocking his path.
After glancing at the wall of light, he walked in head first. He could hear footsteps echoing from behind him. He had no interest in meeting with other cultivators.
After a series of dizzying fluctuations from within the blinding red light, the disappeared heat reappeared in a vicious, overbearing counterattack. His blue light barrier was unable to endure and started flickering as if it were about to collapse.
Having yet to recover from his dizziness, Han Li grew greatly frightened and hastily circulated spiritual power throughout his body. After stabilizing his barrier, he examined his surroundings.
He saw scarlet red stone, yellow soil, plants that emitted red light, and a blurry, deep red sky. Everything was tainted with the color of fire.
Even while protected by his barrier and the Fire Repulsing Robes, he could clearly feel the scorching air.
Han Li took a deep breath with a sullen expression. Under these temperatures, he would only be able to endure for five hours. He had thought he wouldn't have to make use of any treasures and could easily make it through. But according to what Fairy Violet Spirit had said, in the second trial – the path of fire and ice – cultivators couldn't fly and could only slowly tread forward on foot.
As such, those that were teleported farther away would have to spent several days of restless walking before arriving at the end of the canyon. This wasn't something that could be done while relying solely on one's cultivation. It would require the use of treasures that blocked the respective elements of each path.
In addition, the path wasn't the sole danger that the cultivators encountered on the path. The canyon gathered demon spirits of their respective elements which were the greatest hinderance in the trial. During each occurrence of this trial, about half of the resulting deaths were caused by these demon spirits.
In addition to this, there may be cultivators lying in ambush along the path, aiming to rob the treasures of others. This was something that had always occurred. After all, the closer one grew to the end of the canyon, the more likely one would encounter other cultivators.Their odds of survival would greatly increase after robbing the others of their elemental resistance treasures. Odds were that a few cultivators that found it too difficult to continue would attack without any hesitation.
Han Li stood in his original place without movement, examining his surroundings with narrow eyes and pondering over the information he had.
After the time it took to finish a cup of tea, Han Li's expression stirred. He then took out the White Rhino Emblem and hung it at his waist. He then replaced his blue light barrier with the jade emblem's white light.
He couldn't afford to squander any of his magic power. Staying still to recover his magic power was a suicidal action.
He then turn his head to the sky. After identifying the direction of the blurry red sun with great difficulty, he set off without any further delay.
Apart from a pile of rocks and a strange, perfectly straight tree, he didn't see anything else on the path as he slowly staggered onward.
After a short moment of walking through the searing air, Han Li encountered a large patch of vegetation blocking his path that glowed with a strange, fiery light.
Han Li frowned after looking at the strange plants and immediately shot a ball of glowing blue water towards it. Upon impact, the ball of water sizzled and turned to steam.
Han Li's expression slightly changed. He looked to the side of the plants but saw no other way past the strange vegetation.
After some hesitation, Han Li gritted his teeth and tried stepping through it
Upon walking through, Han Li came to know the fearsomeness of the path of molten rock. Wild plants? These were closer to swords of flame. Their incredible sharpness and heat caused him no small amount of pain.
Although he didn't suffer much damage due to the protection of the White Rhino Emblem and Fire Repulsing Robes, he still felt continuous stabs of pain from below his thigh as he painstakingly forced himself through.
After walking through only ten meters, Han Li was forced to redeploy his water attribute light barrier. Although this would quickly consume his magic power, it allowed Han Li to quickly escape from the blistering underbrush. Making full use of his Shifting Smoke Steps, he turned into a blue ghost that occasionally appeared within the dazzling red light. With each appearance, it had grown farther away.
Bu Wu was a cultivator with earth and fire spiritual roots. He managed to acquire his current cultivation in less three hundred years, resulting in resounding fame in the local sea territories. Those that were close to him even thought that he was among those that had the highest chance to ascend to the Nascent Soul stage in the next hundred years.
Bu Wu greatly enjoyed the admirations and praise of others along with their envious gazes.
However, Bu Wu clearly understood his own circumstances.
Were it not for the the ancient "Essence Split Pill" that he had found in the stomach of a grade four demon beast he had slain while traveling, he would likely still be lingering at the Foundation Establishment Stage.
That medicine pill had caused him to feel the sweetness of ancient spirit medicines, saving him a hundred years of bitter cultivation. As such, he had made plans for this journey to Heavenvoid Hall and had purchased a fire dragon worm at great price. He planned to brave the Inner Halls during a moment of distraction and use the worm to acquire the top grade mysterious treasure renowned throughout the Scattered Star Seas, the Heavenvoid Cauldron. With the many treasures contained in the Heavenvoid Cauldron and the rumored Heavenmend Pill, breaking through to Nascent Soul Stage would only be a step away.
Chapter 460: The Path of Life and Death
When Bu Xu entered the Heavenvoid Hall and saw so many Nascent Soul eccentrics appear, he felt as if he had been drenched in cold water.
Any Nascent Soul cultivator that arrived here would naturally go hunt for treasures in the Inner Halls. The Heavenvoid Cauldron was certain to be the most important among them. Although Nascent Soul cultivators had also attended previous openings of the Heavenvoid Hall, there would only be about four of them. But now, there were actually eight Nascent Soul cultivators, causing his hopes to grow very faint.
But since he had already arrived, he was unwilling to cowardly return. As such, he entered the path of molten rock, holding a slight sliver of hope that it would prove to be as smooth as it had been with the ghost mist.
To tell the truth, he did hold some fear towards the ghost mist and a later trial, the Fantastical Boundary of Illusion. However, he didn't hold much regard for the path of ice and fire and never doubted whether or not he could pass it. This was because he cultivated a cultivation art well known amongst the Scattered Star Seas, the Tranquil Yang Art.
This cultivation art had forcefully inserted itself among the top ten mental cultivation arts among fire cultivation techniques. He had lost count of how many enemies he had exterminated, turning them entirely to ash with his Tranquil Yang True Fire. As such, he held complete confidence towards treading the path of molten rock and resisting the heat with complete ease.
Naturally, given his many years of cultivation, he wouldn't arrogantly think of treading the path of molten rock without any hesitation. He had also prepared two fire protection magic tools, but it wasn't that he didn't want to prepare more. It was just that purchasing the Fire Dragon Worm had left him nearly destitute.
With the assistance of two magic tools and his Tranquil Yang Art, he felt that he would be able to traverse the path of molten rock without problem. But now, Bu Xu felt a deep regret churning in his guts.
After a short time on the path, he unexpectedly discovered that despite the wondrous fire resistant effects of his Tranquil Yang Arts, he was forced to continuously use his Tranquil Yang Arts at full strength in order to resist the scorching heat that surrounded him. His original thought of ignoring this hostile environment was impossible as his magic power was being depleted far faster than he had anticipated.
Outside the Heavenvoid Hall, he ordinarily only had to make use of the Tranquil Yang Arts in order to resist scorching flames.
It was clear that the heat emitted by the path of molten rock was completely different from common flames on the outside. There were certain to be restrictions put in place that suppressed fire attribute cultivation arts.
As for his two fire resistant magic tools, they had a very limited effect in this strange environment, much to the dismay of Bu Xu.
In his six hours of walking the path, his magic power had been drained at a visible rate despite having continuously replenished his spiritual Qi with spirit stones. He'd only be able to persist for a day more before his magic power was exhausted, allowing the heat to turn his body to ash.
Bu Xu naturally didn't wish to fall here. He nervously rushed forward while sweeping his gaze in every direction. However, his surroundings were quiet and was completely absent of any others. This caused his thoughts of plundering the fire resistant magic treasures of others to prematurely perish.
The further he rushed forward, the more intensely Bu Xu felt despair. After a quarter hour later, Bu Xu eventually stopped with apprehension contained in his eyes.
Although he had both skilled techniques and magic power, he didn't have any hope of arriving at the canyon's end at this pace. In addition, if he were to encounter any other cultivators in his rush forward, his magic power would be in a sorry state. Forget about him attacking others, he would likely be preyed upon himself once they saw how weak he was.
Bu Xu anxiously paced back and forth. As time passed, thoughts began to bubble from his mind, looking for a method of survival.
Suddenly, he raised his head towards the deep red sky with fluctuating expressions.
After a determined expression momentarily appeared on his face, his body flashed with yellow light and started to float. His eyes were unblinking and his face appeared cautious.
After he rose up to ten meters in the air, he was extremely joyful to discover that nothing had happened. At this altitude, he could make use of his techniques to fly and reach the canyon's end after only a short time.
Wildly delighted at having found a way out of danger, Bu Xu formed an incantation gesture and turned into a ball of yellow light, disappearing with a blur.
BANG! Just as Bu Xu flew about hundred meters, a silver bolt of lightning struck from the deep red sky. With a miserable scream, his body scattered into ash while two items then silently fell into the shrubbery below.
Somewhere on the path of molten rock, a gorgeous, thirty-year-old woman wearing brilliant blue muslin looked hesitantly at the river of molten rock. Apart from a foot wide stone pillar, there was no other way for the woman to cross the scarlet red river that spanned over a hundred fifty meters.
The gorgeous woman frowned as she felt the overpowering heat radiating from the river of lava. After a moment of hesitation, she carefully set foot on the red stone pillar.
When the gorgeous woman stepped foot on the pillar, she immediately wore a pained expression. It was clear that the stone pillar was extremely hot. Even with the protection of the blue muslin, she still felt quite a bit of pain.
However, this woman was someone who possessed unwavering determination. After gritting her teeth, she slowly walked forward on the stone pillar cautiously.
At the start, it went quite smoothly. She ended up walking through about halfway unscathed. But as she approached the pillar's center, she suddenly heard rumblings in the distance.
The gorgeous woman was stunned and she couldn't help but turn her head in the direction of the river upstream. Her face then became deathly pale and panic stricken.
A violent maelstrom rushed down the river and transformed into a huge grey dragon. With bared fangs and claws, it arrived in front of the stone pillar in an instant and wrapped around the female cultivator who had just taken flight.
Then with a shriek of despair, the female cultivator disappeared without a trace.
A short moment later, a sparkling blue item sunk to the bottom of the lava.
Near an icy mountain on the path of profound crystal, a middle-aged man was back to back with an old man as they faced over ten crystal beasts. Red and white radiance flashed in every direction, but the battle soon came to an end. The crystal beasts stayed for a moment more before dispersing in different directions, leaving behind two badly damaged corpses.
At another location on the path of profound crystal, Zenith Yin was leisurely taking a walk along the path of ice. His body was sparkling with black light and didn't possess the slightest trace of cold. While the crystal beasts would occasionally unburrow from the snow and attempt to ambush Zenith Yin, they would be easily split in two with a flash of black light.
Afterwards, he would then continue on his way as if nothing had happened.
On a hill, Han Li blankly stared ahead of him with a trace of hesitation.
After rushing through the fiery overgrowth by making full use of the Shifting Smoke Steps, he had returned to his original speed. After all, the Shifting Smoke Steps put too much strain on his body. Even with the resilient body of a Core Formation cultivator, he couldn't persist in using it for long. Naturally, he could make use of it far longer than when he was at Foundation Establishment.
After this, he encountered an extremely dangerous swamp of lava. In fact, it appeared more like a pit of lava. Even a person of resilient mind such as Han Li felt cold sweat line his back.
Were it not for the protection provided by the Glacial Ice Bead that Man Huzi had given him, he would've suffered blistering skin and roasted flesh, had he managed to survive it.
As for the series of strange trees and three flame spirits he later encountered, they forced Han Li to expend a bit of effort before he could safely continue on his way.
But now Han Li was left stunned by something he had never seen before, an endless black desert with black sand and dunes.
This strange scene caused Han Li to feel uneasy and unwilling to walk into it.
However, taking an alternative route was impossible. The expanse of black desert was far too large. If he wanted to make a detour, it would take at least two days. According to the accounts of cultivators that came before him, this trial must be cleared within five days; else, the transportation formation would be sealed, leaving the rest to die.
As for Han Li, he reckoned that he had only managed to reach the center of the canyon. He didn't have the time to waste even if he didn't want to brave this danger. Who knew what monsters laid in wait beneath the black sands?
Han Li tightly creased his brow and gazed at the scene before him, pondering about what strange dangers laid hidden within. At that moment, Han Li's heart stirred, and he disappeared with a blur.
Sounds soon came from behind where he originally was.