Nightfall - Chapter 152

Published at 26th of April 2018 06:25:06 AM

Chapter 152: The Beginning

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The path before them was treacherous. Every step and every wave of their arms seemed to require every effort they could give. The young people walking along the path of the mountain behind the Academy looked like puppets controlled by strings. While they could not see their expressions, those in the Academy could feel the strain and pressure on them clearly.

The selection test for the Second floor was simple yet amazing. Young cultivators from all around the world would become like clumsy wooden puppets upon stepping onto the steep mountain path. The scene before them was shocking. Other than those currently on the mountains, no one could guess what was happening. Even officials like Moli who had cultivated for many years had never experienced this and would not dare to guess.

However, everyone believed that the Academy would not let these young people come to harm. Most would feel bored after looking at them for long. Giving a glance at the people standing around in the courtyard of the Academy, it seemed that no one else would give the test a try. The bigwigs from the circle of envoys gradually relaxed and started talking amongst themselves.

The Academy had provided some snacks and the bigwigs had brought their maidservants with them. Before long, there was tea and food laid out on the tables and the conversations started.

The topics of the conversation between the envoys surrounded the Prince, Princess Lee Yu as well as Priest Moli of the Revelation Institute. These countries represented by the envoys have always been docile and submissive to the two superpowers, Tang and the West-Hill Divine Palace. They have never considered which party to submit to, for they were all two-faced.

Other than managing the relationship their country had with Tang and the West-Hill Divine Kingdom, there was another important reason for their trip to the Academy. These envoys wanted to see if there were any young talents from their country who would be lucky enough to enter the Second floor. They would then try to make contact with them. Even if no one could enter, they would still take note of any young cultivation talents for the court.

The envoy from the Great River Kingdom was talking animatedly to a deacon from the West-Hill Divine Kingdom. He suddenly stood up and looked at an approaching mud dragon amidst the laughter and conversation filled with mock humility and flattery. His expression changed as he pointed at that spot with a shaky voice and asked, "What's happening?"

The mud dragon was actually four Academy deacons carrying a stretcher. Their fast pace had caused the grass beneath their boots to tear and yellow dirt to be kicked up, causing a flurry of dust particles. The four carrying the stretcher had reached flat plains from the mountain quickly. They were not panting and looked extremely at ease. It was evident that they have done this frequently.

The envoy from the Great River Kingdom looked upon the scene incredulously. On the stretcher laid the comatose young cultivator from his kingdom. He sighed and wondered why the first to be defeated in the entrance test today had to be a subject from his land.

The true reason for his low spirits, though, laid in not knowing how the cultivator had been defeated. He asked angrily beside the stretcher, "How did he faint ascending the mountain?"

The deacon beside him answered expressionlessly, "Fainting is common in the Academy. Going upstairs would result in one throwing up blood, not mention to ascending the mountain."

"Please, move aside." The deacon said to the envoy impolitely. He lifted the stretcher and continued running towards the Academy, leaving behind a trail of mud dragon and unheard complaints.



"Move aside. Water."

The four deacons returned with the second mountaineer. An instructor of the Academy brought along ginger soup and medication.



"Move, we need more water today. Don't block the way!"

The deacons had returned once more with yet another stretcher in their hands. They yelled loudly and their return definitely generated more fuss than when officials of Tang leave the city.



Chu Youxian could not help but think about all the fainting incidents over the past year when he saw this. He turned to look at Ning Que.

Ning Que looked at the four deacons who were running back and forth the mountain and his mouth fell open slightly. The scene before him was extremely familiar and even slightly heartwarming. However, it was still a bad experience after all and the scene made his hands tremble and his tummy churn and he felt slightly nauseated.

His face began to pale and he sighed miserably, "It's still the four of you."



Behind the mists that covered the mountain path, the young cultivators trudged on slowly. Occasionally, one would fall to the ground groaning in pain and lose consciousness before being carried back quickly. Xie Chengyun was in the middle of the pack and continued plodding on even though it was difficult. It seemed to be easier for the young monk from Yuelun Kingdom. His tattered robes floated behind him in the wind as he walked ahead of the pack. He would look around him occasionally. It didn't look like he was admiring the scenery but more like he was looking for a certain path.

Prince Long Qing surpassed several people ahead of him and had his arms behind his back as he continued walking as if he was admiring the view around him. His expression was serene and there was no pride nor scorn on his face no matter how many people he surpassed or how many unconscious bodies he saw by the side of the path. He did not look at the young monk even when he surpassed him.

There was a thick cloud of fog at the end of the path.



Those who had stayed behind at the Academy were silent as they looked at the steep path with doubt and shock at its marvellousness. They wondered what manner of restraints the Academy had set to make the path so painful and difficult for the young cultivators from different lands. Ning Que who stood in the corner was analyzing the situation as well. His main point of concern was not the path, but what was waiting at the end beyond the fog.

Prince Long Qing had arrived before the fog. If he wanted to ascend the mountain, he had to at least enter the fog. No matter how dangerous the path was, he had to continue on.



He did not hesitate upon reaching the fog and continued walking through it. After a while, the extremely curious young monk from Yuelun kingdom who had been looking around arrived before the fog as well. He did not know how far the fog extended, nor did he know how many ancient spirits of old trees laid behind it. While he had looked apathetic before, he now looked slightly concerned. He looked at the fog quietly but did not move forth to enter it.



Prince Long Qing disappeared into the fog. There wasn't a second person who had completed the path in the lower mountains who chose to enter the fog.

Over half of those who wished to enter the Second floor had been brought back by the deacons. Only Xie Chengyun and a few were still trudging on the path. The promising young monk whom many had pinned on hopes had encountered a difficult problem. He stood before the fog, wavering slightly.

Those watching in the Academy had already come to a decision looking at the current state of things. Nobody could defeat Prince Long Qing. While this was expected by many, watching Prince Long Qing's abilities that surpassed his peers still shocked many speechless.

"The West-Hill Divine Kingdom is indeed a forerunner in the art of cultivation. It deserves the respect of many. The Revelation Institute is also one of the best schools in metaphysics. Who can compete with Prince Long Qing, for he has ascended the mountain so quickly? He is indeed second to none."

The envoy from the Yan Kingdom was very pleased as he watched his prince with pride. However, he did not forget to flatter those from the West-Hill Divine Palace.

Priest Moli stroked his beard and was more quiet than usual. Only the glitter in his eyes revealed his pride and delight as he said, "Long Qing is indeed talented and favored by Haotian. The Divine Hall has been granted much responsibility in the judging. While the Academy is a place of mysteries, the ability to ascend a mountain behind it does not deserve such praise."

Everyone knew that he was praising the prince even as he said that. The envoy from the Yan Kingdom chirped in and made some small talk before turning to look at the Tang official beside him. He said blandly, "Everyone famous from the Tang Empire has gathered today. It is such a pity that there is no one particularly outstanding in this batch of students from the Academy."

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To those from the Yan Kingdom, the Tang Empire was like a cruel beast. They have never liked them and would never miss the opportunity to poke at the other's confidence and ambitions.

The envoy did not dare to provoke the prince or princess directly and did not say this loudly. However, he did not make the effort to control his volume as well. His sarcastic jibe floated over to where the Tang officials were sitting.

The officials of Tang sat under a large umbrella. Their faces were filled with displeasure. There were five from the course of magic skills of the Academy who had failed the test. The only person left was Xie Chengyun and he was from the South Jin Kingdom. Furthermore, he was no match for Prince Long Qing. It could be said that the younger generation of Tang had failed miserably in today's examination.

The expression on Prince Lee Peiyan's face was dark. He tugged on his sleeves and said in a low voice, "If I had known this would happen, I would have written to Xu Shi and had him send Wang Jinglue back. At least we wouldn't lose so badly."

Lee Yu who was sitting beside him looked at him from the corner of her eyes and said sarcastically, "Uncle, isn't it your fault that Wang Jinglue had been sent to work under the Defender-general of the State?"

Lee Peiyan looked at her with displeasure. He fell into silence for a while before answering with knitted brows, "Why would you mention this again? While it is known that Jinglue is second to none in the Knowing Destiny State. Long Qing had long entered the Knowing Destiny State. Even if he were to return, he might be no match for the Prince."

"Is he no match, or do you wish for him to be no match?" Lee Yu's lips curled as she said sarcastically, "Uncle, you've come today to witness Prince Long Qing entering the Second floor personally... just so you'll be more at ease, no?"

Lee Peiyan answered normally, "You have to understand, this is what His Majesty wanted."

Lee Yu remained silent upon hearing that.

Prince Long Qing had taken the lead in the opening of the Second floor as expected. While this was agreed upon by the Tang Empire and the West-Hill Divine Palace, the princess was still displeased hearing what the envoy of the Yan Kingdom had said and watching priest Moli's undecipherable expression. However, since Wang Jinglue had yet to return, and the students of the Academy could not help, who could regain the reputation of the Tang Empire?

She looked at the subdued students subconsciously. She was unsure who she was looking at or looking for, but she wanted to find the last ray of hope amongst a face within the crowd of students.

In the old library within the Academy, the window beside the west window had been pushed open. Along with the scent of spring breeze and flowers wafting in, came a chubby lad.

Exceptional young cultivators from various lands had walked by the old library, but neither Prince Long Qing nor the young monk had noticed him.

"Chen Pipi scanned through the lake and the squared roof of the study room and landed on Ning Que's figure in a dark corner. He held a bun to his mouth and chewed on it, murmuring to himself, "When are you going to be done with your preparations?"

In the meadows away from the Academy, Sangsang had already opened the big black umbrella. She stood under the shade silently. She would look at the blue skies and the piercing sunlight occasionally to keep track of time before spraying sunscreen from Chenjinji Cosmetics Store on her face and spreading it evenly with her small hands.

She knew that the exam to enter the Second floor was to ascend the mountain. She also knew that her young master would definitely do so. Why would she worry then?

"He has to be the last to set off and surpass people along the way to become the first to reach the peak. The prince's pretentiousness is really disgusting."

Chu Youxian retrieved a handkerchief full of exquisite snacks from within his robes. He took a piece before offering one to Ning Que.

Ning Que thought that if being the last to ascend the mountain was pretentious and disgusting, what would he be then?

The faces of the officials of Tang within the Academy were filled with displeasure while the faces of Situ Yilan's and the other students of the academy had shame painted on them.

Ning Que looked at everyone and muttered, "I shall... give it a try."

His voice might have been soft, but Chu Youxian heard it clearly. His hand that was holding onto the snacks stiffened and he stared at Ning Que's face, saying incredulously, "What did you say? You want to give it a try? Do you want to ascend the mountain?"

Everyone heard Chu Youxian's exclamation in the quiet courtyard and were shocked. They turned to face where the voice came from.

Ning Que looked at Chu Youxian and said helplessly, "Xian, can your voice get any louder?"

Chu Youxian was really startled, and he shouted loudly, "Do you really want to ascend the mountain? Do you really want to enter the Second floor?"

Everyone in the Academy had heard him clearly and saw the whole situation clearly as well. Numerous eyes looked at the corner where Ning Que was. Their mouths were wide open in shock.

Ning Que took the handkerchief full of snacks from Chu Youxian and wrapped it up as he said smilingly, "I'll take these as provisions for the journey."

With that, he walked towards the mountain behind the Academy. 

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