When Xiao Chen reached halfway, he used his Divine Sense to sweep backward and noticed that Xiao Wan'er dared not to step on the chain. He shook his head and sighed. He went back, held her slim waist with his arm, and then smoothly went to the other end.
"How can he do this?! This is cheating! His score must be deducted!" The crowd clamored again.
The disciple on the ground coughed and said, "They are a group, so this is not cheating."
A moment later, Xiao Chen landed on the opposite cliff. Xiao Han looked at them coldly and said, "You're so slow. I thought that you fell off."
Xiao Chen smiled gently and put Xiao Wan'er down. She blushed and lowered her head, saying, "Cousin Xiao Chen, thank you..."
She had never expected that she had to ask a favor from a man who she used to look down on.
Four hours later, every participant had reached to the other cliff. Without a doubt, Xiao Chen and the other two people scored 10 points each. Xiao Chen looked down to the abyss and whispered to himself, "I hope that Ghoulish Woman fell off and additionally, that disciple failed to catch her..."
Just as his voice fell, a voice as crisp as a silver bell rose behind him. "Xiao Chen! Are you talking about me again?"
Xiao Chen was startled upon hearing this. He then turned around and forced a smile, saying, "Hi! Miss Shangguan, long time no see!"
Shangguan Yan giggled and her eyes twinkled, saying, "Don't be so courteous. We will soon be fellow brothers and sisters. Rest assured, I, your senior sister, will be on your back."
"Fellow brothers and sisters..." Xiao Chen felt as if a dark cloud had been moving toward him.
The Shangguan Family was also a martial arts family and as famous as the Xiao Family. However, hundreds of years ago, an expert from south-west taught the Shangguan Family some notorious Poisonous Witchcraft.
Shangguan Fei, Shangguan Yan's father, and Xiao Chen's father were most intimate friends. But when Xiao Chen was young, Shangguan Yan summoned a black centipede to bite him, and this childhood shadow had followed Xiao Chen until now.
At this moment, in a small pavilion on the top of the Lingtai Mountain, four people sat on futons. A big mirror at the center of them was presenting live about the situation down the mountain.
One of them was a young woman in white, and she was the one who flew into this pavilion before. She was Bai Ying, the Third Elder. Beside her was the Second Elder, who held an astrolabe in his hand. The other two were the Forth Elder and the Fifth Elder.
The Second Elder stroked his beard and said, "Alas, it seems that the participants this time are mediocre as well..."
The Third Elder, Bai Ying, said casually, "Don't hurry. This is just the first round. Besides, some of them looked like they've practiced martial arts. At least they're above the Body Refining Realm."
"I agree, but it eventually depends on how many Spiritual Meridians they have..."
Half an hour later, other two disciples arrived in front of the crowd. One of them carried a bundle of bamboo slips. He opened it and said, "Okay, now comes the second round. The subject of the second round is... Hum? zither, chess, calligraphy, and painting?" He rubbed his eyes at the end of the announcement to make sure that he had not read it wrong.
"What?! What are you doing? Zither, chess, calligraphy, and painting? What's next round about? The Four Books and Five Classics?" The crowd booed.
The disciple glared at the junior brother beside him and said, "Idiot! Have you taken the wrong slips?"
The junior brother said with a bitter face, "No... It seems that the Second Elder added this round to make the test more difficult and to enhance the average cultural quality of the disciples..."
Xiao Han and Xiao Waner frowned tightly, while Xiao Chen remained silent and smiled. He was exactly expert at this subject. Since young, he had practiced calligraphy and painting with his mother and learned to play chess from his grandpa. As for the zither, which ranked the top of the four arts, he could claim that he was the best zither player in this world, second to none.
Back then, Ling Yin, who was known as the Immortal Miaoyin, personally taught him zither techniques. In those days, Ling Yin played the flute and Xiao Chen played the zither by her side, and they had suppressed countless monsters and demons in this way.
When the crowd was about to fall into chaos, a disciple stepped forth and said with a cough, "Everyone, relax. This subject is not about its literal meaning. It's about four dreamlands. Even if you can't do zither, chess, calligraphy, or painting, you may be able to do them in dreamlands. Everyone gets to choose a dreamland. Let this round begin now."
After finishing his words, he waved his arm backward as the clouds and fog dispersed, revealing four caves. Each cave was covered by a formation. A Jade Zither was on the first curtain; a chess board was on the second; a calligraphy paper was on the third, and a magnificent landscape painting was on the forth. In this painting, numerous mountains pierced through the clouds, and all kinds of rare animals whistled in the woods. It looked so lively as if it had been alive.
Everyone chose a dreamland that they were familiar with. Xiao Wan'er clenched her fists and hesitated for a long time before she entered the painting dreamland. Xiao Han kicked a stone which then bounced here and there and finally stopped in front of the calligraphy dreamland. He shook his head and entered the calligraphy dreamland.
Xiao Chen played the zither the best among the other three arts; hence he entered the zither dreamland. As soon as he stepped into the curtain, the surroundings suddenly changed. He was on the edge of a cliff, and cold smoke suffused around him as if it had been a fairyland. Countless isles and palaces were floating in the air as cranes flew by from time to time. Also, numerous rare birds and animals rambled in the mountains down below.
His eyes got moist because this was exactly the Violet-night Peak where he and his master lived back in those days. There were seven peaks in the Mystic Cyan Sect, and the Violet-night Peak was one of them.
All of a sudden, a zither sound rose. Xiao Chen looked in the direction it came from and found a youth that looked exactly like him sitting on the ground. The youth wore pure white clothes with a red jade badge hanging on his waist. In front of him was the Jade Zither, which glowed colorful lights and had complicated carvings such as roaring dragons and phoenixes. The seven strings seemed to be both virtual and real just like illusions.
All of a sudden, the sea of clouds churned up and rushed to opposite sides. A figure appeared in a beautiful stance. It was a fairy in teal clothes riding on a sword.
"Master, you are here," said the youth in white.
The teal-clothed fairy nodded slightly and said, "Your destiny is riddled with puzzles that I cannot solve. Have you made any progress these days?"
The youth shook his head and smiled bitterly. "The Zither Spirit of this Fuxi Zither was born conceited. He said that I'm too weak... He was so angry and he hasn't said anything to me over the past days."
The teal-clothed fairy nodded and said, "Chen'er, don't be discouraged. Evernight is an ancient spirit. It's really hard to be approved by him. Play another song for me."
"Okay!" As his voice fell, he reached out his hands as the wind blew into his sleeves and made his hair dance. His fingers then moved miraculously as the music floated to the end of heaven and earth. The zither sound was long-standing and resounded for a long time.
This song seemed to have lasted for thousands of years.
Xiao Chen's eyes gradually turned red. He wanted to scream but he could not make a sound at all. At this moment, he was so close to his master, but it seemed that they were so far away and couldn't reach each other.
All of a sudden, the Jade Zither appeared in front of him. Although he knew that he just needed to casually play some notes to pass this round, he just wanted to look at his master, even only for 30 minutes.
Finally, time was up, and he was teleported out of the dreamland.
Many participants had already come out. Xiao Wan'er picked the painting dreamland and narrowly scored five points. Xiao Han met his luck and scored seven points. As for Xiao Chen, he lingered in the zither dreamland and was counted as fail with zero points.
Xiao Wan'er saw Xiao Chen's red eyelids and asked in a low voice, "What's wrong? Aren't you good at zither?"
Xiao Chen didn't say anything. Xiao Han smiled coldly and said, "The illusions in there were generated from people's hearts. Maybe he has seen something that he wants to see forever."
A disciple in charge of the test said loudly, "Okay. Quiet. You've done well in this round about the burden within. It seems that you haven't carried many burdens in your hearts. In the next round, please be careful because you might get hurt. The next round has 30 points in total." He waved his arm, and then eight dark caves appeared on the cliff.
"You have to go through the cave in 90 minutes. You can enter the caves at the same time, but you're not able to see or listen from each other inside the caves. One more thing. If you fail this round, you're out, and you have to wait for the next entrance test."
The crowd immediately started to chatter upon hearing this. The disciple's words meant that they either pass the caves or go home. After 90 minutes, half of them might get eliminated. Many participants rushed into the caves.
Xiao Wan'er clenched her fists and said anxiously, "What now? If we fail this round, we won't have another chance!"
Xiao Han snorted coldly and walked to the third cave, when Xiao Chen said, "That one is a dead-end. I recommend the fifth cave."
The disciples looked a bit shocked upon hearing this.
Xiao Chen collected himself and then walked to the fifth cave with a smile. Xiao Wan'er said, "Wait!" And she caught up with him. Xiao Han hesitated for a while and also walked to the fifth cave.
The rest of the participants hesitated for a while and rushed to the fifth cave.
After everyone had entered the caves, a disciple shook his head and said with a smile, "Running fast won't help. This Qimen Dunjia Formation is not about the speed you're at."
Another disciple said with a smile, "Speaking of which, you narrowly passed the cave when the three incense sticks almost burned out."
"Humph! You're no better than me last time. Shall we have a race riding the sword? Let's see who gets to the other side first?"
"Why not? The loser will serve the winner for three months!"
As his voice fell, they rode on two rows of sword radiance, one went to the left and one went to the right, heading to the other side of this mountain.