Chapter 283: The First Trial, Path of Rebirth
After threading through the ocean of clouds, everyone’s vision gradually cleared up, and they discovered that they’d already entered a world vastly different from the one they’d just been in.
Lofty and soaring peaks towered in the distance. As if numerous circling ancient beasts, they were so tall that they could reach the Big Dipper, and so mighty that they could dominate the nine heavens, giving one an awe inspiring feeling of overwhelming strength.
The senior executives of the four great sects had been waiting for quite a while within the legacy realm.
“Remember, you are now standing in the legacy territory of ancient times. You must heed instructions with your every movement within the territory. It is very likely that you will be buried here if you disregard instructions and go off on your own. This is absolutely not an empty threat.”
The legacy territory of ancient times was widely acclaimed as the most mysterious of all territories in the sixteen kingdom alliance.
“Alright, let’s not waste time in further talk. You will face the first trial next, the trial of the heart. This trial is called the path of rebirth. You will be divided into a hundred different areas and enter the path. The path that you will embark upon is the same difficulty for everyone, but different scenes will appear according to the composition of your hearts. This trial will be testing the strength of your heart. The duration of the trial is limited to ten days. If you cannot make it out within ten days, then you will be deemed as having failed the first trial.”
“Those who fail will be sent out of the legacy territory.”
A cold voice sounded in everyone’s consciousness.
“This trial is also the one with the highest failure rate. Two thirds, or even more, of those assembled here may be disqualified.”
On the path of martial dao, strength of the heart was of the utmost importance.
If one could not make it past a trial of the heart, then any potential one had was simply empty talk. If a practitioner couldn’t even raise the strength of his heart, then he would never ascend to the peak no matter what he did.
After all, if one had insufficient strength of the heart when assailing the origin realm, one would never break through to it.
The ultimate goal of the four forefathers was to select geniuses with the potential to make it to the origin realm.
The path of rebirth?
Jiang Chen turned these three words over in his heart. They sounded quite mystical. This name would not have been arbitrarily bestowed.
Was this a road in which one had to experience the cycle of life and death?
Jiang Chen readily accepted this. He’d lived two lives, what aspect of reincarnation hadn’t he experienced? What joys and sorrows hadn’t he tasted?
“I have an advantage in this trial as well. Setting aside the fact that these practitioners can’t measure up to my experiences, my practice of Boulder’s Heart is enough to give me an enormous advantage in a competition between mundane disciples.”
Jiang Chen was full of confidence.
“Remember, the time allotted for the first trial is ten days. If you can complete a circuit of the path in ten days, that means you’ve passed. If you can complete it in eight days, that means your strength of the heart is above average. If completed in five days, that means you are absolutely a genius in the matters of the mind. If you can finish in three days, then you are an unsurpassed genius in this regard.”
The voice continued on faintly.
“Incidentally, if you finish within three days, your scores will be directly sent on towards the forefathers and you’ll receive special attention. Although your identities will be temporarily masked, your participation tokens will be highlighted in front of the forefathers and receive their particular notice. I trust you don’t need me to explain the meaning of this advantage?”
“What? Special attention from the forefathers?”
“My heart of martial dao has always been resolute. I’m definitely going to strive to finish within three days!”
“I have a hope of ascending to the skies in a single leap if I receive the forefathers’ notice. Wonderful! I’ve always emphasized training the heart normally, this is surely my chance to shine!”
All the practitioners kept speaking words of encouragement to themselves to bolster themselves psychologically.
“Alright, we’ll now be divided into groups. There are a hundred areas in total and each will absorb three to four thousand people. However, the path of rebirth is a lonely one. You will not run into each other on the path. Therefore, you won’t need to worry about conflict from each other in this trial. You are always alone on the path of rebirth, remember this.”
Four hundred thousand people wouldn’t run into each other when walking the same path?
All the practitioners were quite astonished.
Jiang Chen was rather noncommittal. Since the path of rebirth was a legacy territory, then everything was possible.
An art that merely folded space was just a parlor trick in the hands of the ancient heavyweights. Jiang Chen would be able to experience things for himself once he entered this path of rebirth that was shrouded in mystery.
Since everyone was wearing a mask, there was no fear of revealing their identities. Jiang Chen naturally had no need to conceal his strength.
“Let’s display my talents to the utmost!” Jiang Chen decided in his heart.
The groups were quickly divided, and Jiang Chen was sent to the second area.
Each area had their own organizer, and the one in charge of the three, four thousand in the second area led them to an enormous, empty field.
“Do you see this? This empty field is a formation. You will enter the path of rebirth when the formation activates. Remember, where you start is also where you finish. This is to say that when the formation activates, where you appear is your starting and finish line. What you need to do is to set off from the starting line and walk forward until you end up at the finish line. You must do a complete circuit of the path.”
“The starting line is the finish line?”
“Remember, don’t think of getting up to any tricks. If you stay where you are without moving, and don’t walk down the path of rebirth, that is equivalent to forfeiting. You’ll be sent out after ten days. Another important thing to remember is that once you set out on your path, you can only move forward, not backward. Once you go backwards, the path of rebirth will be thrown into chaos and you’ll be disqualified immediately.”
Since the starting line was the finish line, some who had jumped to a different conclusion immediately began to think that if they stayed where they are, would that count as having walked the path?
When they heard this warning, those who were harboring these kinds of thoughts received a great shock and immediately gave up on this cheat.
A breeze suddenly grew in the air around the empty field. The dust in this surroundings began to follow the gust as a large, circular air current started to churn the ground beneath it.
As the dirt and dust flew, the practitioners within the second area began to disappear where they stood as the formation activated.
“Path of rebirth, here I come!”
Jiang Chen was full of expectations at this moment as he set off on the path of rebirth with a strong desire to conquer it.
His body suddenly wavered as his feet seemed to set foot on something. Jiang Chen then opened his eyes and saw that his surroundings had changed to lush greenery.
Large trees gave shade to the grass beneath them as the fragrance of flowers and birdsong permeated the surroundings. This scene almost made Jiang Chen doubt, was this truly the path of rebirth?
In Jiang Chen’s eyes, the path of rebirth should be as dank and frightening as the path to the underworld, full of nefarious and evil things.
Why was the path of rebirth so peaceful, as calm as a paradise separated from the world? Relaxation grew in people’s hearts as they greatly enjoyed the surroundings.
“This kind of scenery is as though it’s an immortal realm. Just what kind of path of rebirth is this? It’s basically a magical road to the immortal world.” Jiang Chen tsk’d with amazement in his heart.
He spun a few times where he stood and discovered that the trees and grasses here were actually all spirit plants! The fruit on the tree branches were all spirit fruits that would’ve been impossible to run into in the mundane world.
The least of all the exotic flowers and grasses would be hailed as an utmost treasure within the four sects.
“Mm? There are so many spirit items on the path of rebirth? If this is so, why are the four sects still so poor and weak?” Jiang Chen was astonished as he looked around. His heart suddenly trembled as Boulder’s Heart suddenly wavered. “Ah, no! This is the path of the rebirth, all I see may be an illusion.”
Jiang Chen’s reaction was quite fast as he immediately woke up from this illusion. He shook his head and cast aside these extraneous thoughts. He carefully deployed God’s Eye to observe these plants, but still found it difficult to discern whether they were real or fake.
“Amazing, whether it is real or fake, the fact that the path of rebirth can set up such a strong illusion and give rise to such strong temptation is incredible. Ah, forget it, I’m here to walk the path and cannot linger here in nostalgia.”
Jiang Chen shouldered the sights of temptation around him and moved his feet, walking towards the front.
He kept practicing his Boulder’s Heart, warning himself not to look backwards, not to look backwards. If he did and witnessed such temptation again, he may very well start walking backwards.
According to the rules, once you selected your direction on the path of rebirth, you had to keep following it without turning back. Once you turned back, the path of rebirth would be engulfed in chaos and you’d be directly disqualified.
Under the steadying influence of the Boulder’s Heart, no more ripples arose in Jiang Chen’s heart. That little bit of mental wavering he’d experienced when he’d just entered also vanished without a trace.
Jiang Chen’s heart still palpitated with fright even after walking for a while.
“I’ve experienced two cycles of life and practice Boulder’s Heart, but still almost lost myself in that scene just now. Can it be that the stronger one’s strength of the heart is, the greater the temptation of the path of rebirth? I was almost mesmerized by the sights just now, if I’d moved to pick any of them, would I have lost myself forever?”
Jiang Chen felt that he’d been lucky when he thought about it.
He’d been quite confident towards this path of rebirth, but it was because he’d been too confident and too relaxed that had nearly led him to failure.
“It looks like I cannot relax my guard in any aspect of the great selection. Once my mind relaxes, the various tests of the trial of the heart will take advantage and slip in.”
Jiang Chen slowly came to a few conclusions as a thought flashed through his mind, “Can it be that the path of rebirth reflects out the participant’s mindset? What I currently need the most are spirit medicines, and the first scene I was greeted with was countless numbers of spirit ingredients. Perhaps the others would’ve seen something else entirely?”
Jiang Chen was even less likely to relax after thinking these thoughts.
If the path of rebirth could reflect the participants’ mindset, then the path of rebirth would become stronger the greater the participant was. The stronger the determination within your heart, the greater the tests the path of rebirth would give to you.
Indeed, one had to use that bit of truest intention in their consciousness to overcome the stubbornness of the heart.
The trial of the heart and the path of rebirth wouldn’t be that easy to pass.
He’d been shown up as soon as it’d started, but Jiang Chen didn’t become nervous. Rather, he privately rejoiced. To be treated thus as soon as it started meant that the situation could serve as a warning that he could not afford to continue insuch a lackadaisical manner. He must treat this trial seriously.
As he walked, the scenes in front of his eyes continued to change.
He seemed to have gone through many days in an instant, weathering the four seasons and going through a cycle of life and death.
A thundering, crashing mighty river suddenly appeared in front of him.
The swift waters roared fiercely with a large racket. They churned and roiled in their motion, vibrating the heavens as if the skies were collapsing and the earth was cracking.
There were three bridges across the river in front of Jiang Chen.
“The first test of rebirth, Bridge of Helplessness” was written on a stone marker on the shore.
[The Bridge of Helplessness is a bridge every soul has to cross before entering the Underworld, much like the Styx in Greek mythology.]