Chapter 4 - Heartless
The uneven stone steps were very dangerous on both sides. The slightest mistake would cause one to slip and fall.
After less than half a day, Wang Lin’s legs felt like they were made of lead. He was sweaty and out of breath, it was difficult to even move. Looking up from the bottom of the mountain, the trail didn’t seem long, but now, this trail felt like it had no end. Wang Lin’s heart sank. He could not help but generate thoughts of despair.
In front of him there were a dozen physically strong boys, slowly climbing. They were all also out of breath. Until now, no one had given up.
Wang Lin gritted his teeth. He knew this was his last chance. His parents’ expectations filled his mind. At that very moment, the foot of a boy behind him slipped. The boy fell off the side of the mountain with a scream.
“I give up! HELP!”
Everybody stopped to looked down at the same time and saw a dark light flashing by. A Heng Yue Sect disciple appeared out of nowhere and grabbed the boy. Their bodies could be seen gently falling to the foot of the mountain.
Wang Lin was pale and silent. He carefully continued climbing upwards. Time seemed to be passing much more slowly. Two days later, he could see the shadows of the dozen of youths in front of him
Wang Lin didn’t know how many of these companions would give up, he only knew that he must not give up. His feet were were bleeding and swelling. He felt a terrible tingling every step he took. He still persisted and used his hands to climb.
A middle aged man with a sickly complexion floated down the stairs from the top of the mountain. “Little children, keep your hearts strong, for this path is ruthless. It won’t be in vain, nothing is in vain….” He let out a lengthy sigh as he floated down past the climbing youths.
The middle aged man passed Wang Lin. This was the sixth youth he passed by, and he was the most pathetic of the bunch. With clothes soaked with blood, he seemed to be bleeding everywhere. His knees and toes were mangled. Wang Lin was climbing using his hands at this point. The middle aged man sighed loudly and asked, “My child, what is your name?”
Wing Lin’s vision was blurry. The only thought in his head was to reach the top or die. He didn’t even hear the middle aged man’s question. In his eyes this little trail was the only thing that mattered.
The middle aged man looked at Wang Lin’s eyes. Deep down, he was rather moved. He put his hand on Wang Lin’s head. “This boy has amazing perseverance. It’s too bad he lacks talent. What a waste, what a waste….” He gave Wang Lin a deep look, then continued to descend the steps.
The next night, Wang Lin’s hands were bloody. He left a trail of blood as he climbed the stairs. He did not know how he kept going, but something kept fueling his body to go on. He felt like he could die at any time.
The sun rose on the third day. In the distance, Wang Lin could just barely make out the end of the stone steps. Unfortunately, with the end in sight, he heard a thunderous voice that shook his heart.
“Time is up. Only three have qualified. The rest….FAILED!”
Wang Lin let out a small, bitter laugh. He looked down while his body was slanting down on the stairs. His consciousness completely faded.
The black-clad middle aged man from three days ago stood on top of the mountain. He was looking at Wang Lin from less than 50 meters away with a ruthless look in his eyes.
A few Heng Yue Sect disciples went down from the top of the mountain. They each stopped next to one of the youths on the way down and fed them medicine.
A female Heng Yue Sect disciple said in a cold voice, “Seniors, out of 39 testers, 25 gave up. Only three passed the test, and 11 remain.” She had also experienced this brutal test. She relied on the martial arts she had practiced since she was a child to pass. She barely had enough perseverance. Even now, after ten years of effort, she still hadn’t become a true disciple.
The black-clad middle aged man had an icy look in his eyes. He slightly nodded while his eyes swept past the 11 unconscious teenagers.”Take the three that qualified and find work for them to do in the future. Send the 25 that gave up back to their families. As for the last 11 people, wait for them to wake up. Send them together to the house of the sword spirit to see if any of them have spiritual affinity with the sword spirit. If they don’t, send them home”
After the middle aged man was finished here, he walked away without another glance and the youths below.
Three days later, at the house of the sword spirit, stood 11 teenagers with pale faces. The injuries all over Wang Lin’s body were already healed, but the wound in his heart was still gaping open. The pain of his failure kept eating away at his mind and body.
This test of the spirit of the sword was conducted not by the black-clad middle aged man, but by a man wearing white, someone they hadn’t seen before. He had the same cold, ruthless look in his eyes. He looked at the youths as if they were ants.
The man said, with an impatient look, “This is the last test. If you can walk into this room, you are qualified.”
All Wang Lin saw was an extremely common building. The front door of the building was open. When he looked inside, he could see swords of different lengths.
Each of the youths, one by one, walked towards the house. The first one that approached got within 5 meters of the house. His face went red as he struggled to get closer, but was expelled by an invisible force.
“Unqualified! Next!” said the man in white.
Wang Lin was the seventh in line. The six before him all met the same fate, expelled by an invisible force when they got within 5 meters of the house. He smiled bitterly, and with the last bit of hope in his heart, stepped forward.
As he approached the five meter mark, Wang Lin was able to keep going with ease. His heart was beating rapidly with anticipation. He stepped closer, 1 meter more. He wasn’t feeling any discomfort yet.
The white clothed man let out a surprised “Hey!”. His eyes were bright, and his face showed slight interest. He gently said, “Don’t hesitate to continue. Keep walking towards the house of the spirit of the sword. If you are recognized by the spirit of the sword, you will be accepted as a true disciple, even if you failed the two previous tests.”
The ten other teenagers standing there had the color of envy in their faces. They were deeply jealous of Wang Lin.
Wang Lin was very tense on the inside. The looks his parents gave him flashed through his mind again as he stepped one meter closer to the door. There were only 3 meters remaining to reach the door. Wang Lin took another step.
He suddenly felt a huge force rush in his direction. Wang Lin lost control of his body and was sent flying more than ten meters away.
The rest of the youths all looked at Wang Lin with mocking expressions in their eyes. They thought that Wang Lin was just like them after all, with no chance.
With a bitter laugh, Wang Lin could feel the gaping wounds in his heart grow bigger. His parents’ expectant eyes gradually dissipated from his mind.
The man in white’s eyes turned cold again and he said, “Failed. Next.”
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