It didn't take long for the Eternal Celestial Capital to set their plan in stone.
A dark silhouette shot across the sky. Jiang Chen flew past like a shooting star.
Whoosh whoosh whoosh! Jiang Chen flew across the sky repeatedly, each successive attempt quicker than the previous. I've yet to reach my limits. I can go faster! He mused deeply and shot through the sky again. He was a meteor in a race with the moon.
It had been four months since he first started cultivating the Kunpeng Meteoric Escape. He'd improved immensely within the period of time. His execution of the art was even more perfect, and with a much greater speed than before after he'd combined it with the Featherflight Wings. He'd broken through his limit yet again.
Tsk tsk. This is truly an incredible art. My current speed is likely beyond that of some high level emperor realm experts. Jiang Chen was innately quick. However, his speed had improved by leaps and bounds after he cultivated the Featherflight Wings in tandem with the Kunpeng Meteoric Escape. He was also incredibly surprised by the immense improvement in speed.
Cultivators of the same level will no longer be a match for me in terms of both absolute and relative speed. In fact, most emperor realm cultivators will not be faster than me. With so much improvement to my absolute speed, I'm certain that I can now escape an emperor's domain with speed alone!
The only art without counter was speed. Speed was in itself an advantage. The faster one was, the more advantage one had. Speed was by nature, powerful. It amplified and enhanced the power of an attack. It wasn't a mere tool to use in escape. It was incredibly useful in real battle, where speed often gave overwhelming advantages. It didn't matter if one was on the offense or defense, the one with the fastest speed had the greatest chance of winning. After all, defending against a faster enemy was no easy task.
The first palace challenge was gradually approaching with each passing day. Jiang Chen already had good mastery over the Kunpeng Meteoric Escape, but due to his perfectionist nature, he didn't slack off even in the slightest for the remaining days. He continued to dedicate himself to the cultivation of the art. Even the Featherflight Tactics paled in comparison to this particular art. The Featherflight Tactics was more dedicated to the art of escape. Most of its specialty was meant for escaping. It was a very useful survival art. Emperor Featherflight had often relied on it to escape from desperate situations.
Even then, it was still no match for the Kunpeng Meteoric Escape. This art didn't just share many advantages that the Featherflight Tactics had; it was also superior in many different ways. For example, it gave him much more relative speed in battle, allowed for much more nimble and agile movements, and also improved his response time. It was an art that trained one's speed for all situations.
Moreover, this art also contained innate destructive powers. When the Kunpeng Meteoric Escape was brought to the extreme limit, it would give rise to very powerful heat energy and a formidable severing light. Many opponents were instantly killed by the sharp severing light. Even if they somehow evaded it, they would be consumed by the large amount of heat generated. It was an art that gave rise to offense while on the defensive, and vise versa. It was a truly formidable art. Jiang Chen was impressed by it even though he had studied arts from the heavenly planes.
The more he learned about the art, the more extraordinary it became. His admiration for Master P'eng only grew as time went on. Half a month later, his half year time limit was finally up.
Master P'eng's voice was heard yet again.
"Jiang Chen, half a year's time has passed. You should enter the testing grounds. If you pass the challenge, it means you've passed the Skykun Palace. Even though you are given one retry in each round, I truly hope that you won't use it here. In fact, it'd be better if you never have to use it."
Jiang Chen could sense the encouragement within Master P'eng's voice. Warmth filled his heart. He yelled loudly, "Esteemed elder, don't worry! I've comprehended the art very well, and my cultivation has gone perfectly! If the challenge only tests for potential and not cultivation level, then I have full confidence for success!"
This was absolute confidence. The old man laughed. "Hehe! Good lad! I like your confidence! Based on my observations from these past months, I can only say say that I'm truly stunned by your potential. The gates to the testing grounds are already open. There will be a formation outside the gates to adjust the difficulty according to your cultivation level. You may go in."
Jiang Chen no longer hesitated and walked towards the gate with big strides. There was nothing left for him to worry about at this point. He was as calm as still water. The thought of losing never even crossed his mind. He was dedicated to only one thought: Conquer the challenge!
A sealed door was slowly opening on the right side of Skykun Palace. A beam of light appeared from within the gaps and ensconced Jiang Chen's body. The light scanned his body and confirmed that his cultivation was at the ninth level sage realm. The formation began to pulse, and Jiang Chen soon disappeared within the bright light.
When the bright light subsided, he realized that he had been teleported into the testing grounds. There was a wide river before him. Its waters were as blue as the Milky Way, making it seem like a blue meandering ribbon. The opposite bank was shrouded by fog.
"The first round is a test of absolute speed. Do you see the river? You must reach the opposite bank with the Kunpeng Meteoric Escape before the first wave crashes and before the second rises. If a drop of water lands on you at any given time, you'll have failed. Remember, it isn't just a test of absolute speed. It's also a test of your agility and response time."
Jiang Chen took a deep breath while looking at the blue river. Its waves were rising and crashing at very quick speeds. There was almost no time interval between the two motions. It was quick and smooth, like walking. The right leg naturally followed the stride of the left leg. To complete this challenge, one would need an extremely quick response time and a full comprehension of the situation. There was only a breath's time between the two wave motions. One had to make their move within that instance.
All efforts would go down the drain if one mistimed it by even a fraction of a second. A drop of water landing meant immediate failure. Jiang Chen noticed a very powerful barrier between the two banks. The maximum height that he could reach with the Kunpeng Meteoric Escape was around ten feet above the river. This meant that if he failed to catch the correct timing between the two wave motions, he would be splashed by the water from the rise of the second wave.
Jiang Chen took in another deep breath and stared at the river. He fully immersed himself in the river's rhythm. He suddenly made his move. The Kunpeng Wings expanded and contracted behind him. A golden silhouette shot through the air, leaving afterimages in the shape of an arc above the river. As the silhouette landed on the opposite bank, a wave rose and crashed into the afterimage.
Jiang Chen was already on the opposite bank. He had executed the art flawlessly, timed it immaculately, and achieved the perfect speed. There wasn't even a drop of water on his body. He had completed the challenge with grace and finesse.
"Congratulations, you've passed the first round. The next round is a test of relative speed."
There were three rounds of testing in the Skykun Palace challenge. The first round tested for absolute speed, the second round tested for relative speed, and the last round tested for his comprehension of the art.
The testing grounds for the second round were in a secret chamber. Jiang Chen could feel an odd pressure within the chamber. There was an aura within the chamber that gave the occupants a certain feeling of oppression.
"The second round is a test of relative speed and also response time. You'll be attacked at random from all sides of the room. It's up to you to respond to these attacks and evade them. Remember, you're not allowed to return any hits. You can only evade by relying on your art. The test will last for fifteen minutes."
Upon hearing those words, Jiang Chen immediately expanded his consciousness and fully activated Psychic's Head. He had entered a state of apprehension. Every corner of the room, every detail, and every inch of moving air was now within his grasp. Even the hair on his body was now a sensor.
He suddenly heard an abnormally quick movement of air with his ears. He immediately executed the art and moved away slightly. A fast arrow shot past his body, narrowly missing him. He kept the light speed art activated and continued to dodge left, right, and center.
Arrows were being shot at him from all sides like torrential rain. They weren't just fast, but also extremely sharp. He was truly besieged from all directions. However, he had already experienced a similar attack in his earlier years. Back when he was in the Eastern Kingdom, he faced a similar barrage of sword intent. However, the difference in difficulty was as clear as night and day.
He couldn't even afford to make a millimeter of mistake due to the intense speed. An arrow would strike him if he made even the slightest mistake. Fifteen minutes wasn't really that long. But an attack of this intensity, density, and speed would absolutely be a test for anyone.
After all, one was only allowed to dodge and couldn't even return any hits. This round of testing required much more accuracy than the one prior. Beads of sweat were dripping from the tip of his nose.