Xiao Chen looked at his surroundings and guessed that it was very possible that everyone had left. Thinking of what Yue Ying said, he guessed that the people of Qizi County had received news and would end this trial early.
When he was about to leave, he suddenly felt a sense of danger. He released his Spiritual Sense, and he discovered a cultivator hiding in a tree to the left, about twenty meters high.
This cultivator had withdrawn all his aura, and was glaring at Xiao Chen. He was waiting for an opportunity to kill Xiao Chen.
Xiao Chen controlled his Spiritual Sense, and after he saw him clearly, he could not help but laugh in his heart. The person was a Martial Grand Master of the Zhang Clan. He should have arrived together with the two elders of the Tang Clan. He just did not know how this person managed to avoid being killed by Ye Chenzhou.
However, his aura seemed to be quite weak. Due to avoiding Ye Chenzhou for the past few days, he had exhausted a significant amount of Essence. It was obvious that he had not managed to get any decent rest.
In his current state, he actually did not leave early. Instead, he even wanted to kill me. This goes to show how much the Zhang Clan hates me, Xiao Chen thought to himself.
With this man’s current state he was, at best, only at half his usual strength. Xiao Chen did not wish to escape. To him, this was a suitable trial for him. This was much more interesting than a Demonic Beast.
He immediately went for the first move. A lightning bolt flashed by, and Xiao Chen suddenly appeared behind the man. The Lunar Shadow Saber flashed with a brilliant light, and the boundless might of the Rank 6 Demonic Core pervaded the surroundings.
The man turned his head around to see Xiao Chen’s smiling face. The look of amazement was clear on his face; he had no idea how Xiao Chen knew he was hiding there.
Outside Gloomy Forest, the sun hung high in the sky, bathing everything in sunlight.
“Father, why did you call us back? Cousin Xiao Chen has not come out yet,” Xiao Yulan said to Xiao Qiang with clear dissatisfaction.
Shortly after Xiao Chen left, Xiao Qiang brought four of the Xiao Clan’s Martial Grand Masters to the Xiao Clan campsite. He said that the trial was ending early, and then brought everyone out of the forest immediately.
Xiao Qiang frowned, “Aside from a Martial Grand Master who escaped, all the experts that the Qizi County sent to the core of Gloomy Forest died; even the Martial Saint expert they sent died as well.”
The crowd behind inhaled sharply, “Even a Martial Saint expert died?! Are the Demonic Beasts of Gloomy Forest so terrifying?”
“He was killed by humans, not at the hands of Demonic Beasts. Furthermore, the way he died was extremely horrifying. Qizi County already reported this matter to the imperial household. This is not something that we can solve by having us to help. Thus, the trial has been canceled.” Xiao Qiang explained.
Xiao Yulan’s face changed slightly and she said anxiously, “Then wouldn't that mean that Cousin Xiao Chen is in grave danger? I have to go in and look for him.”
“Preposterous!” Xiao Qiang shouted sternly, “Do you remember what happened at Seven Horn Mountain? Do you think that Xiao Chen will die so easily? If he wishes to escape, even a Martial Saint would not be able to catch him. If you go in, you will just be a burden to him.”
Xiao Yulan’s eyes turned red, but she did not say anything.
“Elder Xiao, what are you doing? Scolding someone? That’s not good,” the Tang Clan head brought a group of people along as he walked over, “Where is the Second Young Master of your clan? How come I don’t see him? Did the Demonic Beasts eat him up?”
Xiao Qiang looked at Tang Tian coldly and sneered, “Don’t think that I do not know about what you have done in Gloomy Forest. Too bad that the heavens have eyes, and you lost two elder leveled people for nothing.”
Tang’s complexion changed, and then he smiled, “I do not understand what Elder Xiao is talking about. However, although this trial has ended early, we still have to compare the results of our three clans. I wonder how many Demonic Cores the Xiao Clan managed to collect?”
“Later, when the City Lord arrives, I will report it to him personally. When that happens, I hope that the number that the Tang Clan reports is not too low.”
The Xiao Clan managed to obtain a total of 180 Rank 2 Demonic Cores. Xiao Qiang was very satisfied with them achieving such a result despite having only three days. Thus he was not afraid of Tang Tian’s mockings.
Not much later, the City Lord Dugu Feng called the people of the three clans over. He had a relaxed expression on his face, as though the matters of Gloomy Forest did not involve him.
Dugu Feng smiled, “Although there were some problems with this trial and we had to end it early, we will still follow the old rules. The competition between your three clans will continue. I wonder if there is anyone who managed to surpass the Xiao Clan; they have been first for the past few times.
“Let us start with the Zhang Clan. I wonder how many Demonic Cores they obtained?”
The Zhang Clan Head’s complexion turned extremely unsightly when he heard this. This time, the strongest disciple of their Zhang Clan did not show up due to he and his Martial Spirit being injured. They did not manage to obtain many cores. However, since the City Lord asked, they had to report it.
“The Zhang Clan managed to obtain a total of 50 Rank 2 Demonic Cores on this trip,” the Zhang Clan Head said.
Dugu Feng was not surprised at this result. Smiling gently, he said, “It’s fine. Zhang He did not come, so it is pretty good for you to obtain such results already.”
“Next up, let’s have the Tang Clan report their numbers. I still have a certain amount of expectations for the Tang Clan.”
Tang Tian smiled indifferently, “City Lord speaks too highly of us. This time, the Tang Clan obtained a total of 100 Rank 2 Demonic Cores.”
After Tang Tian finished, he looked at Xiao Qiang, the meaning in his eyes obvious: it is time for you to report your numbers.
Xiao Qiang breathed out in relief when he heard the Tang Clan’s report. Seeing the glance the City Lord was casting at him, Xiao Qiang said, “In this trial, the Xiao Clan has obtained… a total of 180 Rank 2 Demonic Cores.”
Dugu Feng laughed loudly when he heard this, “Looks like the Xiao Clan has a deep foundation. Congratulations, it seems that the Xiao Clan won the trial again.”
Tang Tian revealed a deep smile, “City Lord, don't be in sure a hurry to congratulate them. Tang Feng, show your spoils to the City Lord.”
Tang Feng walked up when he heard this and took out six Demonic Cores, placing them in front of the City Lord. The glow of these six Demonic Cores was incredibly deep. It was clearly different from the Rank 2 Demonic Cores.
Someone beside him exclaimed out in surprise, “These are Rank 3 Demonic Cores.”
“Indeed, they are really Rank 3 Demonic Cores!” said one of the people beside as he picked up one of the Demonic Cores and examined it closely.
A Rank 3 Demonic Beast had a strength equivalent to a Martial Grand Master. This Tang Feng was actually able to take out six Rank 3 Demonic Beasts; it was truly unbelievable.
“Mohe City has held so many trials, yet I have never heard that there was anyone who managed to obtain Rank 3 Demonic Cores in the past. It seems that the Tang Clan will be first this time, surpassing the Xiao Clan!”
“Indeed, the even more astonishing thing is that he is only a Superior Grade Martial Disciple. With this level of strength now, if he advanced, there would be no one who could beat him in the following Promise of Ten Years.”
Dugu Feng looked carefully at the Rank 3 Demonic Cores Tang Feng handed over. In the end, he said gently, “Seems that the Xiao Clan is not able to retain the first place this time. The value of these Rank 3 Demonic Cores is equivalent to 100 Rank 2 Demonic Cores.”
Tang Tian had a smug look on his face as he looked at Xiao Qiang, “Elder Xiao, my apologies. Seems like the first place for this trial belongs to my Tang Clan.”
After suppressing the Xiao Clan in this trial, and if they were able to defeat the Xiao Clan in the Promise of Ten Years, the prestige of the Xiao Clan would hit rock bottom.
All those who had business or an alliance with the Xiao Clan would see the situation and break off contact with them. When that happens, the Xiao Clan will be in dire straits.
Xiao Qiang’s complexion was very unsightly. He originally thought that it was a sure win situation, yet, he was ruthlessly slapped in the face. Tang Tian’s move was too vicious.
All the Xiao Clan disciples had a very unsightly complexion too. This trial represented the clan’s reputation. They all felt responsible for not obtaining the first place. Even the normally eccentric Xiao Ling`er was biting her lips with a depressed expression.
At this time, Xiao Jian stepped out from the crowd and slowly walked to the City Lord. He took out five Demonic Cores and said indifferently, “I have also obtained five Rank 3 Demonic Cores. City Lord, please verify it.”
After he said that, he walked to the back without saying anything else. His expression was as calm as still water, resulting in others not being able to guess what he was thinking.
“It’s Xiao Jian; could it be that he obtained Rank 3 Demonic Cores too?”
“This person was once the number one youth in Mohe City. Did he really obtain Rank 3 Demonic Cores?”
“I heard that after he got humiliated by Zhang He, he shut himself in. To think that he was able to surprise us like this. I wonder if he could pull the Xiao Clan out of defeat.”
“It would be difficult. After he only took out five Rank 3 Demonic Cores; Tang Feng took out six.”
The people beside the City Lord all broke out in discussion. No one had expected the results of this trial would surprise them, not once, but twice now.
Dugu Feng muttered to himself for a moment before saying, “These five Demonic Cores are indeed Rank 3. The Tang Clan had one more Rank 3 than the Xiao Clan, but the Xiao Clan had 80 more Rank 2 Demonic Core than the Tang Clan. After deliberating about it, I feel that we should call it a draw. What do you think?”
Xiao Qiang smiled gently to show that this result was acceptable to him. He originally thought that they would lose, but who knew they could turn things around? It was already pretty good for them to obtain a draw.
Tang Tian was now in a very bad mood. He said with some dissatisfaction, “I’m not sure how much higher is the value of a Rank 3 Demonic Core compared to a Rank 2, but in my opinion, it would definitely be at least worth 100 Rank 2 Demonic Cores.”
Xiao Qiang ridiculed him, “Are they worth 100 just because you say they are worth 100? Who do you think you are? The Pavillion Master of Linlang Pavilion? In your opinion? Well, in my opinion, they are only worth 50; what can you do about that?”
Tang Tian said angrily, “In any case, I am not accepting a draw. After we return, I will be declaring and publicizing that the Tang Clan obtained first in this trial.”
Dugu Feng was not in a tight spot. With such a result, he was not sure how to many an accurate judgement. After all, he was not an expert on appraising the value of Demonic Cores.
“Well I am of the opinion that it is indeed not a draw, but the one losing is you, the Tang Clan.”
Who was it that spoke that? His tone was full of arrogance.
The crowd turned their heads to take a look, but all they saw was the figure of a youth slowly walking from the entrance of Gloomy Forest. They squinted their eyes, but a blinding bright light appeared suddenly.
He was carrying a round package behind his bag. The sun was shining on his face, making that almost handsome face look radiant. His voice was not loud, but everyone heard him clearly.
“Cousin Xiao Chen, you are finally back.”
“Elder Brother Xiao Chen, come quickly and help Ling`er take revenge.”
[TL note: I believe the above dialogue was by Xiao Ling`er herself. She sometimes refer to herself in the third person.]
The Xiao Clan disciples who had followed him all ran over joyfully, and Xiao Chen greeted them. He walked to the front of Tang Tian with a smiling face, staring at him without fear.
“Since you do not want a draw, then I will make you accept your defeat wholeheartedly.”
With a wave of his hand, Xiao Chen took out three Demonic Cores, “These are the Demonic Cores from the Rank Three Demonic Beast, Patterned Demonic Panther. There is a total of three.”
“These are the Demonic Cores of the Rank 3 Demonic Beast, Demonic Lunar Blood Monkey, there are also three of them.”
“These are the Demonic Cores of the Rank 3 Demonic Beast, Sword-Tailed Dragon. There is a total of four.”
Every time Xiao Chen read out a Demonic Beast’s name, the surrounding people would let out a cry of surprise. In the end, Xiao Chen took out Demonic Cores from eight different Demonic Beasts; there were at least three of each kind.
“What else would you like to say? Tang Tian, your Tang Clan will never surpass the Xiao Clan. If you wish to be first, you have to ask me to see if I would allow that to happen first,” Xiao Chen said coldly as he looked at the stunned Tang Tian.
The people from the Xiao Clan felt relieved. As they looked at Tang Tian’s speechless face, they felt great in their hearts.
Xiao Chen said indifferently, “If you are still not convinced of your loss, the package behind me is worth another 100 Rank 2 Demonic Cores.
Xiao Chen opened up that round package after that statement. He then threw it onto the floor, and a round head rolled on the floor. His eyes were open, and it was clear that he died with a remaining grievance.
“That is an elder from the Zhang Clan. How was he killed by Xiao Chen? According to the rules, he should not even be in Gloomy Forest,” the surrounding people all took a deep breath.
Tang Tian and the Zhang Clan head exclaimed in surprise at the same time, and their expressions changed drastically. There was fear in their eyes as they looked at Xiao Chen.