Chapter 22: The Four Tests About One’s Qualities
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
“Why aren’t you going with them?” Zhang Xi asked as the smile on his face disappeared.
“I’m sincere and upright. Please allow me to join the clan,” Chen Jingzhai said as he hugged his right fist with his left palm.
“That’s not for you to say. It’s something that you have to prove through the tests,” Zhang Xi scoffed. “We have set up 28 tests for the students who want to join our…”
“Those are meaningless to me,” the young man interrupted. “Even if I am not sincere, I would still be willing to do anything to join the clan. If I succeeded in joining and had a change of heart, I would still be chased out of the clan. That is why my action is more important than my sincerity.”
Zhang Xi looked at Chen Jingzhai without saying anything.
The young man did not have any expression on his face, and there was no nervousness in his eyes. He was truthful in his words.
“Very well!” The master suddenly laughed as he waved his fly-whisk and stroked his goatee. “Very well done! Action over sincerity, huh? You passed!”
“Thank you, Master.” Chen Jingzhai smiled and bowed.
[Test: Kouxin Pass of the Luo Sheng Test of Twenty-Eight]
[Description: Created by the founder of Luo Sheng Sword School to test his disciples.]
[Effect: One test can be divided into nine small tests. The final test will be held at the Hall of Masters. These are the nine small tests of the Kouxin Pass. You’ll have to experience nine different illusions related to birth, age, illness, death, power, money, lust, departure, farewell, hardship, and hatred.]
[Flaw: This test focuses solely on one’s action instead of sincerity. Your choices are more important than your experiences.]
Chen Jingzhai did not expect two things—that his talent would also find a flaw in the test to join the clan and that he had managed to pass the test without actually taking it. It was so incredible that even he was surprised. It wasn’t that he had something against taking the test, but there was no reason for him not to give up the opportunity to pass the test without having to take it.
“Be on your way, then,” Zhang Xi said.
With a wave of his fly-whisk, warm energy swept Chen Jingzhai off the ground. The young man felt as if his world was spinning.
Before he could even react, he had landed somewhere. After checking his surroundings, he realized he was already halfway up the mountain.
Lush trees surrounded him, and the only thing that caught his eyes was a stone by the cliff.
Just as he was trying to find out what he was supposed to do, a weird bird approached him. Despite its large body, the bird had tiny wings and an oval head. It looked more like an oversized chicken than a proper bird. It landed on top of a branch and cocked its head to look at the young man.
“It has been long since someone managed to come here without completing the first test!” The weird bird spoke in an innocent childish voice.
Chen Jingzhai immediately greeted it with a, “Nice to meet you.”
“You sure are something else,” the weird bird then said. “I wonder, when was the last time we had a young cultivator with a natural physical body taking our test? You are already strong enough to pass the first test and become our casual disciple.”
“I’ve heard of the Test of Twenty-Eight before coming here,” Chen Jingzhai replied. “I might have passed the first test with my wit, but I don’t want to miss out on the rest.”
“Don’t be too greedy, young man. It’s already rewarding enough to become a casual disciple of the Luo Sheng Sword Clan. You’ll naturally become an inner disciple once you get to the Foundation Plane. Isn’t it better to achieve that through hard work? Why try and reach for something that might be beyond your grasp?”
“I’ve decided to strive for something higher ever since I started to walk the path of a cultivator. If I didn’t have the will to aim higher and instead were to worry about everything, there would be no future for me.”
“What an idiot.” The bird sighed. “Fine! I’ll let you continue.”
It then fluttered its wings, and a gust of wind rushed toward Chen Jingzhai. The young man raised his hand without thinking to try to block the wind, but it was too strong. It lifted him off the floor, sending him over the cliff. The bird then made a weird noise before exploding, leaving nothing but smoke on the tree.
Deep inside the Luanyun Mountain Range, where the fog was thick, the top of one of the tall mountains was flattened to build a castle on top of it. On top of the entrance to the main palace was a sign with the words “Cloud Palace” carved on it. Sage Lu now stood inside the hall of the Cloud Palace.
Facing the stage were three lords and six elders. Everyone’s attention was on a small cloud floating in midair. It showed the scene where Chen Jingzhai was swept off the cliff by the weird bird.
“Sage Lu, this is the new disciple you’ve brought from the White Cloud City? Action over sincerity! He sure is smart despite his age. I’ll give him that!” Headmaster Fuyun complimented.
“Headmaster, the boy is Chen Jingzhai from the White Cloud City,” Sage Lu introduced. “He has contributed a lot in rescuing Miao Yun from the Soaring Clouds Clan and the other young cultivators captured by the Yellow Sands King.”
“Oh? I can see from here that he has lost all his cultivation. How did he do that?” Headmaster Fuyun asked out of curiosity. “Even though he has the innate physical body, that shouldn’t be enough to rescue a cultivator in the Foundation Plane.”
“I’ve heard from Miao Yun that she and Jingzhai managed to benefit from the things that our ancestors left in the Blessed Land of Western Sands and Miraculous Illusions,” Sage Lu explained. “Jingzhai had already reached Level 9 of the Meditation Plane when he drank the Earth Marrow Fluid. The fluid reconstructed his body, and coincidentally, he managed to form the celestial bone while losing his cultivation.”
“Incredible!” the headmaster exclaimed as he laughed. “How could I be so blind to have only noticed his natural physical body and not his celestial bone? Are you telling me he now possesses both of that? He surely has a bright future ahead. Just from his achievement and talents, he would’ve been accepted as a direct disciple or an inner disciple by the elders of other divine clans! Unfortunately for him, he still has to pass our tests. Sage Lu, did you tell him the details on your way back? If he fails to pass the second test, he would have no choice but to become a casual disciple.”
“Yes, I’ve explained everything on our way here,” Sage Lu replied. “Chen Jingzhai has made it clear that he wants to join our school no matter what. He even refused to join the Soaring Clouds Clan.”
“Good! Very good!” Headmaster Fuyun laughed, satisfied with the young man. From the cloud, they could see that Chen Jingzhai was still falling.
One of the elders sitting next to the headmaster suddenly said, “The Test of the Twenty-Eight was created by the founder using his Taoism charm before he ascended. The formation created using spells by other clans can’t even compare to this.”
“Are you worrying about something, Elder Qin?” the headmaster asked.
“Will the kid be all right since he didn’t clear the first test?”
“Birth, age, illness, death, power, money, lust, departure, farewell, hardship, and hatred,” the headmaster recited as he shook his head. “To be honest, this test isn’t that important to these young cultivators.”
“Oh? Why is that?” Elder Qin could not hide his surprise.
Even the other elders were all shocked by the headmaster’s words and had turned to look at him.
“The Test of the Twenty-Eight has always been our way of deciding whether we should accept the young cultivators as our disciples or not. It has also served as a way to assess them,” Headmaster Fuyun explained. “However, we didn’t use this method 3,000 years ago. The Test of the Twenty-Eight used to be a challenge for disciples who have reached the Foundation Plane.”
“3,000 years ago? Are you talking about…”
“Yes, the same change that you are thinking about. Since then, our school decided to change the rule, forcing anyone who wanted to enter our clan to pass the test. Those who have cleared the first nine small tests will be accepted as casual disciples. Those who passed the second one will become inner disciples. If one cleared the final test in the Hall of Masters, they would be accepted as a true disciple.”
Everyone was speechless after hearing that.
The first test of the Twenty-Eight was about where one’s heart was at. The second questioned the path they walked, and the final one was their response to the heavens.
Each big test could be divided into nine small tests, leading to a total of 27 tests. The final test, which was the fourth test, was about one’s actual name and was held in the Hall of Masters.