The thunder boy, having not appeared for a while, once again emerged amidst the silver space.
He still retained the appearance of Zi Chen, but when he appeared this time, his body did not have the same domineering aura that belonged to a king. Instead, he gave off an illusory, almost unreal feeling full of indistinction.
Zi Chen stood across from the thunder boy, staring at the opposite party unblinkingly.
The thunder and lightning around the thunder boy’s body suddenly surged as he moved like passing clouds and flowing water. His footsteps flashed time and time again, seeming unreal and making others unable to discern where he would appear next.
Rank three movement technique, Flowing Cloud Step.
Zi Chen had already seen it before: the style, the movement, he had memorized it all. The moment he saw the thunder boy use it, however, he finally understood the gap between them.
He had already seen this move many times, but every time he observed it, he still couldn’t comprehend it. Unexpectedly, a trivial rank three movement technique made Zi Chen feel such mysterious profoundness.
It had already been several days, yet he still had not reached the threshold.
Even after careful observation and painstaking attempts to understand the move, Zi Chen still could not reach that threshold of comprehension.
In the meantime, Zi Chen finished eating a third of the enormous ice bear. He had stayed in the valley for more than 10 days before he was able to locate the presence of the other bear.
“Let’s try again.”
Zi Chen stood up and walked towards a valley several miles away.
In the valley, the ice bear immediately spotted Zi Chen. As if it had seen a great enemy, its eyes were burning with fury. Amidst the bear’s fervent roaring, its paws struck out toward Zi Chen, accompanied by a strong wind.
Zi Chen didn’t take the initiative to attack this time, choosing to dodge using Flowing Cloud Step instead.
A faint sound came from Zi Chen’s clothes and a scratch mark appeared.
In a moment of carelessness, Zi Chen was hit by the Ice Bear’s paw, causing his body to be blown away.
All that painstaking time he spent learning and comprehending the Flowing Cloud Step empowered the current Zi Chen and allowed him to gain further insight. Not only did using this skill require a certain proficiency, it also involved strenuous effort.
That day, after ending up empty handed yet again, Zi Chen finally chose to retreat.
The Ice Bear was unable to catch Zi Chen and could only utter howls of anger. It had no choice but to return to the valley.
Time passed, and another five days had flown by.
Within the silver space, Zi Chen stared with wide eyes, observing as the thunder boy executed Flowing Cloud Step. But after all this time, he hadn’t progressed at all. His skill with the Flowing Cloud Step had instead regressed, getting increasingly harder to use.
A feeling of anxiety surfaced in his heart; Zi Chen was in a very bad mood. He was angry as well, especially after seeing the thunder boy’s footwork unceasingly shift and transform. That kind of speed only worsened Zi Chen’s mood as he became incredibly frustrated.
An angry feeling boiled up within Zi Chen’s unsettled heart. He issued a tiger roar as he sent out a fist toward the thunder boy, the strongest move of the Fierce Tiger Fist. It was the very same move Zi Chen used that day – the one that had killed the first ice bear.
In his imagination, the thunder boy would certainly be blown apart by this fist. However, the moment the attack reached the opposite party, the thunder boy’s figure suddenly flashed, unexpectedly avoiding his fist by a hair’s breadth.
Zi Chen attempted another strike after his attack missed, the fierce tiger’s roar rousing the wind and stirring a large amount of silver energy.
However, the thunder boy evaded his strike by a hair’s breadth once again.
Zi Chen continued to send out four to five punches in succession, yet they never even scratched the opponent’s clothing, always missing by a hair’s breadth. Despite his attacks, the thunder boy seemed exceptionally relaxed when evading them, making it seem as if he still had more energy to spare.
Zi Chen’s eyes brightened as he continued his onslaught. He had already woken up from the previous bout of anger and, although he was still attacking, could actually sense the thunder boy’s shifting footwork.
He discovered that between each and every one of his opponent’s steps, the distance was especially small and there was always some strength to spare. Whenever Zi Chen’s attacks changed, the opposite party would also alter its footwork, all while maintaining small movements. With that excess energy, the thunder boy’s movements become more flexible as well.
“That’s right. Each step I took before, although they were able to evade attacks, were always quite large and so left no spare energy. Once the energy is used up, I am unable to quickly face the second attack, and therefore would have to take an extra step. The consumption is wastefully large and disjointed this way. That’s the reason why I got the feeling that the more I practiced, the harder it got.”
After understanding all of this, Zi Chen’s Flowing Cloud Step naturally made some progress.
This could be considered as crossing the threshold.
“Although the attacks of that big bear are powerful, its speed is considerably slower. It’s perfect to be used in a test.”
Thus, Zi Chen went out to harass the ice bear once again.
The roaring sound of the ice bear resounded throughout the valley. Its paws were creating strong winds as it struck out at him, but Zi Chen had already predicted the attack of the opposite party. His figure flashed slightly, evading the ice bear’s strikes.
After evading the attacks, Zi Chen still had energy to spare. In his perspective, the ice bear’s entire body was exposed, allowing him to launch an attack anytime he felt like it.
The Ice Bear’s bellow was quickly followed by another attack. Zi Chen remained on the defensive, simply dodging over and over.
“Not good, this time I made half a step more than necessary.”
In Zi Chen’s heart, there was a dark and ominous feeling. After using up his strength, he was knocked down by the bear’s paw. Luckily, his physique was strong enough to withstand the ice bear’s attack.
Time continued to pass; the snow and ice within the valley showed signs of melting. It had been a long time since there were snow storms within this icy expanse. Meanwhile, the attacks of the Ice Bear were becoming increasingly swift and fierce. In the midst of this mountain, several beasts’ roars occasionally emerged.
Spring was coming.
The entire valley, aside from several special places that remained cold, was beginning to show signs of the coming spring.
“Spring is coming?”
In front of Zi Chen, all that was left of the first giant ice bear was a large pile of bones. There wasn’t much meat left as he had stayed here for quite a few months.
“Spring has arrived. The assessment of the inner sect disciples is starting. It seems that the time to leave has come.”
Zi Chen said while muttering.
Time had flown quickly within the valley. Unexpectedly, Zi Chen had actually come to like this sort of carefree living. In his heart, he really did not want to go back.
But there was no food left and no more resources with which he could train, so Zi Chen must return.
Hence, Zi Chen left the valley, arriving at another one.
In this valley, he saw the angry ice bear once again.
“Come on, last battle.”
Zi Chen’s eyes burned with the intent to fight. He turned towards the ice bear and made a provocative gesture.
The ice bear was infuriated, roaring and rushing towards Zi Chen. This time, its speed was faster, as was the howling of the wind. The ice bear was not so slow anymore, it had become agile.
Although it was obvious why, as the mountain valleys had signs of spring, there was another reason: the ice bear’s frequent battles with Zi Chen. Zi Chen had constantly sought the opposite party out as a sparring partner, therefore as his strength increased, his opponent’s strength similarly progressed.
The attacks of the Ice Bear were very swift and fierce, its power and momentum incredibly strong. However, Zi Chen appeared to be very relaxed. With every step he took, there was a feeling of passing clouds and flowing water. Every time Zi Cheng’s feet moved, the distance in between was very small, yet he could always evade the attacks of the ice bear by a hair’s breadth.
The Ice Bear was having doubts. Usually, it could still scratch the other party, but today, it could not even touch its opponent. The opposite party was obviously in front of its eyes, just a short distance away from itself, yet it failed to even come into contact.
“Today, I will leave. But before I do, I will let you have a look at the strongest attack that I have just comprehended recently.”
Zi Chen lightly smiled, his whole body spontaneously exuding the majestic aura of a king. Zi Chen was going to use the Fierce Tiger Fist.
The ice bear felt an imminent crisis. Roaring, the bear brought its giant paws down in the direction of Zi Chen’s head. At this moment, the majestic aura around Zi Chen’s body changed once more, unexpectedly moving like passing clouds and flowing water, it was unreal and indistinct.
Zi Chen’s leg moved as he dodged the ice bear’s attack. He looked like an agile, fierce tiger – one with the majestic aura of a king. Surprisingly, there was also a feeling that his body was as light as a feather.
In the past few months, Zi Chen had already fused the Fierce Tiger Fist and the Flowing Cloud Step into one. This new achievement allowed him to combine both strength and gentleness, causing the rough Fierce Tiger Fist to actually have a slight nimble flexibility to it.
With the agility of a tiger, Zi Chen sent out a fatal move after dodging the bear’s attacks. The majestic aura around Zi Chen’s body instantly erupted as he sent out the indomitable attack with his fist.
The ice bear instantly fell backwards, completely defeated by Zi Chen in a single strike. In fact, Zi Chen had actually restrained his strength at the critical moment. Otherwise his attack would have inevitably killed it.
Zi Chen chose not to kill the beast. No matter what, his opponent had been his sparring partner for several months. His success was naturally attributed to this ice bear.
Thus, Zi Chen left without regrets, bringing along the meat from the other ice bear’s body, although there wasn’t very much left.
The ice bear fell to the ground, its ice cold eyes locked on the human that was leaving. It was suddenly filled with traces of doubt, it did not understand why the human had let it off.
With the arrival of spring, a warm breeze swept the earth. This was a season of hope.
As he returned from his not so peaceful journey, Zi Chen was able to handle the several fierce beasts he encountered easily.
The beasts that dwelled here had very low ranks and could not pose any threats to the current Zi Chen. He had mostly taken care of each one with just one blow.
After that, Zi Chen brought some animal skins with him as he returned to the sect.
Though the sect provided food, lodging, and clothing, they were in no way free. Naturally, the daily expenses of these necessities were enormous, these things didn’t simply drop from heaven or come with the wind. Each outer sect disciple must work in the sect for these commodities. If you were to go out to train, then you must bring back some valuable things. It could be materials for refining or the fur and pelt of some beasts.
For the inner sect disciples, resources that were submitted by them could earn them a corresponding amount of contribution points. Those points could then be exchanged for cultivation pills.
However, this rule was only applied to inner sect disciples. Even if outer sect disciples were to hand over a thousand year old spirit medicine, they still would not receive any contribution points. Hence, they would have to exchange it with the inner sect disciples.
This was also the main reason why Zhao Can teamed up with Wang Xiong.
The Ling Wu sect was very big, occupying plenty of hills. Numerous structures stood in great numbers at the hilltop, stretching continuously without end.
Having been gone for several months, the Ling Wu sect did not change much. A dozen days later, Zi Chen returned to the sect and walked towards the exchange center, the place to hand over resources.
He did not cause any disturbance, even some outer sect disciples were rarely seen.
“Everyone should be practicing in order to strive for entering the inner sect.”
Now was currently the time during which the outer sect disciples were most anxious.
Because it happened only once every two years, if one missed the examination, one had to wait again for another two years. No one was willing to miss it.
“Why, Zi Chen, it’s you. You’re back.”
Having entered the Management Hall, Zi Chen was greeted with a sound of surprise.