What his heart told him?
Jiang Chen smiled. His heart had never changed. He wanted to challenge all nine of the caves. If the ninth cave was far more difficult than he could imagine or bear, he would forfeit voluntarily.
If there was a chance he could succeed though, he would instantly take it. Currently, he needed most to make his reputation.
Passing the eighth cave would create a rush about him in the sacred land. It sounded good enough, but he wanted a longer-lasting moniker. If he could conquer the ninth cave, he would be the first genius in the Eternal Sacred Land to ever do so.
All men were ambitious; Jiang Chen was no different.
Right now, he needed to make his name known in the entire sacred land.
Jiang Chen hadn’t forgotten about Ziju Min’s earlier advice. If he could exhibit enough talent for the sacred land to want to keep him regardless of cost, it would offer undivided support in his bid to wed Huang’er.
In other words, he wanted the Eternal Sacred Land to be fine with offending House Xiahou on his behalf. That would mean the success of this entire endeavor.
In theory, House Xiahou didn’t dare disobey the Eternal Sacred Land’s decrees.
However, the sacred land typically also had its own principles. Perhaps they could use rules and circumspect methods to limit and quash other factions, but they definitely refrained from openly declaring war on any single faction.
Fighting with cloak and dagger was drastically different from an open brawl in the streets.
These thoughts caused him to draw a sharp breath, then enunciate aloud. “Honorable seniors, I have decided to attempt the ninth cave.”
Ziju Min was entirely unsurprised. He sighed softly. “I knew you wouldn’t stop here. If that’s your decision, then give it your all. If you can break through the ninth cave, your name will be written down in the Eternal Sacred Land’s history – you’ll leave a deep flourish here!”
The three primes smiled and nodded as well. They found the young man more and more interesting. They admired his ability and daring a great deal; he hadn’t even reached empyrean realm yet!
“Tsk, tsk. Where did this Shao Yuan come from, this monster of a man? He passed the eighth trial, and now he’s going for the ninth? Has… has this happened before?”
“There was once another. Will Shao Yuan follow in his footsteps, or will he break the record by succeeding in the ninth? Why do I hope that he will do the latter?”
“Daoist Ziju has found a treasure beyond compare this time for the sacred land. His martial dao talent is absolutely brilliant, and he is skilled in pill dao as well. Heavens, wouldn’t all the young female cultivators all go crazy for him?” Everyone roared with laughter at that.
Jiang Chen moved with a steadfast step towards the ninth cave. The area containing it was grander and larger than any previous cave’s.
Here I will either achieve lasting fame or need to bide my time. I’m giving it everything I’ve got!
Heroism flared in Jiang Chen’s heart. As the final cave in the Nine Winding Caves, the ninth was surely a showstopper. He was prepared for whatever difficult task it threw at him.
As soon as he entered, a teleportation formation transported him into the cave’s core.
A light hurtled toward him immediately upon landing. He evaded to the side just in time. A large, razor-sharp air blade had swept right into him. If he hadn’t dodged, it would have cut him clean in half.
The air blade didn't relent in its forcefulness, cutting into two stone pillars to the side.
There was a resounding crash as the pillars collapsed into ruin.
Without a moment’s reprieve, Jiang Chen was assailed from every direction by a hail of arrows. They seemed to lock down every conceivable avenue of escape. Even the best escape method didn’t have enough room to slip away.
“How can this be?” Jiang Chen was shocked.
However, his consciousness spun rapidly on the spot. As soon as he realized he couldn’t handle the volley on his own, he conjured his magnetic golden mountain.
It displaced the surrounding air with an explosive boom. A powerful magnetic field instantly altered the course of the onslaught of missiles.
Jiang Chen hadn’t hoped for the golden mountain to absorb all the arrows. Its magnetic force was very attractive indeed, but that wasn’t always enough to draw away especially powerful attacks.
But altering the courses of these arrows wasn’t particularly difficult. As long as their trajectories were diverted, Jiang Chen’s agility made a chance at life infinitely larger. His scrambling reaction had allowed him to survive in the end.
From this, it could be seen that his combat reflexes were extremely good. If Yan Qingsang were here, he would’ve fallen prey to the attacks. Because he’d been assaulted successively, Jiang Chen didn’t dare let down his guard.
“The ninth cave should have a combination of challenges. It doesn’t need to limit itself to a specific style,” he speculated.
Because of the smattering of odd attacks, Jiang Chen didn't put away his magnetic golden mountain. He floated it above his palm, looking like he was holding an aureate tower.
The magnetic golden mountain gleamed with scintillating light. It evoked a rather magnificent appearance just by staying still.
A few more steps forward, Jiang Chen suddenly stumbled. The earth below him was caving in on itself.
Dirt transformed into sand, dwindling into emptiness below.
“Quicksand?” Jiang Chen marveled at what he was seeing. If he was within a vortex of quicksand, he’d be in big trouble.
Flight was forbidden here. He could only move on foot. If there was quicksand restricting his movements as well, that would be quite frightening. Dangerous quicksand could reap lives with ease.
The yellowish ground all around had turned into a sandy desert. Jiang Chen wanted to complain loudly. He wasn’t worried about the desert, but the quicksand didn’t look natural at all. There had to be someone – or something – controlling it.
Jiang Chen was on thin ice even though he was relying on his powers of prediction. Thankfully, his consciousness was fine enough that he could pick up the smallest of oddities. The sands threatened him heavily, but he wasn’t yet mired in them
He walked a while before suddenly turning around. His footsteps in the yellow sand had disappeared.
The sand itself was an ochre carpet that was being rapidly pulled away. Within moments, it was gone. A scarier abyss of a swamp had replaced it.