Chapter 287 – Climbing the Mountain in Search of the Dao
The birds flew over the great lake. The setting sun dyed the rippling waves of the Lake of Dragons and Snakes a reddish-yellow.
On Contention island, the tests had already begun despite the setting sun.
Qi Practitioners did not have to eat or sleep at fixed times like regular people. Going an entire night without sleep was nothing. The lunch at noon was akin to an additional benefit provided by the academy to them so that they could taste the delicious food on par with spiritual medicines for free.
Everyone boarded the ship once more, sailing to a small island in the east. The island was nowhere near as large as Contention island, but it was much larger than the other islands.
Within the rising, evening mist, a solemn daoist temple stood high on the mountain on the island. It did not give off an aura of peace and tranquility. Instead, it seemed to look down upon the various other schools.
It was rumored that most ancient cultivators were daoist priests, and they served as the origin for all techniques and cultivation methods. Most of the cultivation methods practised within the hundred schools originated from the school of Daoism.
In the present day, the school of Daoism was no longer the only option for all cultivators, but there was a saying, “Daoism stands to be the greatest among the hundred schools”. That only demonstrated how influential the school was.
The tests of the academy occurred consecutively, so all the Qi Practitioners would move about with each test. They could use this opportunity to familiarise themselves with the locations of the islands and the scenery they offered.
Regardless of the school they ended up with, they all had to visit these islands. The spirit of the academy was about the hundred schools resonating together and embracing all. Every single disciple of the academy could learn from other schools.
Of course, if they wanted to learn the very core teachings of a school, it would take them some effort and spiritual stones, but it was not impossible. It was unlike those cultivation sects, which would threaten them with death or permanently crippling their cultivation.
This was also the aspect that Li Qingshan admired the most. There was a reason why the Great Xia empire could keep all the cultivation sects in the world at bay with the Academy of the Hundred Schools.
The Qi Practitioners all disembarked and crossed through a forest along a small pathway, arriving before the mountain.
An instructor said, “Those who have enrolled for the school of Daoism, climb up the mountain with me. Those who haven’t, wait below the mountain. Don’t wander too far away.”
Li Qingshan discovered that the majority of the Qi Practitioners, almost a thousand of them, climbed up the mountain.
Not only was the school of Daoism a major school second to none, but it had no specific requirements on elemental affinities either. The school of Daoism was known to possess three thousand major paths and countless smaller paths. No matter who it was, they would always be able to find a path suitable for themselves.
As a result, almost everyone filled in “Daoism” within their five spots, even treating it as their main target. Li Qingshan was no different. His primary targets were either the school of Daoism or the school of the Military, but the school of Daoism did suit him more.
Everyone climbed up the mountain, and the moment they reached half way, mist rose up in the surroundings.
Li Qingshan sensed that everyone had vanished. Only he remained on the mountain path. He knew he had entered a formation.
“The test begins,” a voice boomed.
Li Qingshan gathered his mind and took a step forward. As soon as he took that step, his body immediately became several times heavier, while his true qi had been completely suppressed by the invisible formation too. It was not even possible to open his hundred treasures pouch, let alone use any techniques.
At that moment, all of the Qi Practitioners climbing the mountain had been reduced to regular people. The protective formation of the school of Daoism began to demonstrate its startling power.
Li Qingshan was unfazed. He took another step forward, and the wide, stone steps suddenly became a narrow, meandering footpath. The two sides were sheer cliffs that seemed bottomless. He could imagine that if he fell down, he would not actually die, but he would lose his right to join the school of Daoism.
At this exact moment, wild winds rose up without any fixed directions, blowing him around.
There was a howl, and a Qi Practitioner fell down from the mountain path, spiralling off the cliff. Even though he knew he would be fine, he could not help but be utterly frightened. Just when he was about to hit the bottom, the surroundings suddenly twisted and changed. With another glance, he had returned to the bottom of the mountain. The group of Qi Practitioners waiting there all looked at him in disdain.
He called out, “I refuse to accept this! I was blown off by the wind. With my cultivation at the third layer, how can I possibly fend off the protective formation of the school of Daoism?”
“The more perturbed you are mentally, the stronger the winds and the narrower the path becomes. You can’t even control your fears when you knew it’s all an illusion, yet you still want to practise daoism? Piss off,” a voice boomed out. It was the slovenly daoist priest.
Hua Chenglu curled her lip. “You’re clearly just useless. My elder brother said that if you can ease your nerves and control your mind, even regular people can make it to the end of the path. Sigh, I wonder if Zijian is fine.”
The Qi Practitioner finally became defeated. He originated from a small clan. With his cultivation, he was regarded as a genius in the clan, and he was protected like a treasure. Never had he experienced any danger, so even his legs had almost given way from the fright earlier, which was why he slipped and fell.
However, this principle did not seem to apply to Li Qingshan very much at all.
His gaze was calm, and his steps were steady. Having gone through so many battles to the death already, the path failed to invoke any fear in him. However, the path just happened to grow narrower and narrower, and the wind blew harder and more chaotically.
He remained unfazed. His body would sway with the wind as he advanced at a steady pace. He admired the rare scenery to his two sides. He was as leisurely as a mountaineering tourist.
Towards the end, he was basically walking along a thin wall that stood tens of thousand meters tall, but it was still more than enough for him. He looked around as he thought, The school of Daoism’s test really does have some difficulty about it.
The slovenly daoist priest saw this. He sneered. “Brat, let’s see how long you last.”
With a thought, large droplets of rain began to fall down from overhead. The path became slippery and even more difficult to walk on. Suddenly, there was a boom of thunder, so close that it was basically above his head. Regular people would probably trip from fright even if they were on flat ground.
The slovenly daoist priest snickered. He shifted his gaze onto someone else.
Sweat gathered on the tip of Yu Zijian’s nose. She bore Hua Chenglu’s reminder in mind as she stared straight at the path ahead, afraid to look to the sides.
Suddenly, a violent gust of wind bombarded her. She swayed with it, but because she was holding a sword, she was not particularly balanced. She was just about to fall off the cliff.
The slovenly daoist priest curled a finger, and a gentle breeze blew over from the other side, lifting her up softly. Only then did she stabilise herself.
“Master, that doesn’t seem too appropriate!” A young daoist priest with small eyes watched on from the side the entire time. He could not help but say this after seeing how the slovenly daoist priest played favourites.
He wore a set of black clothes with a daoist hair ornament on his head. There was a silken belt around his waist and hanging from it was a tablet carved with the word “One”. It was a representation of a primary disciple. His cultivation was at an impressive tenth layer.
The slovenly daoist priest’s face reddened. He did not treat his dear disciple as rudely as the other school leaders. Instead, he explained, “Juechenzi, she’s just a girl, so it’s very normal for her to be afraid of heights. Who’s born without fears anyway? The mind is something you can slowly harden. As for men, you need to be a little more vicious. The edge of a treasured sword comes from grinding and sharpening…”
“Master, the treasured sword is still there!” Juechenzi pointed.
The slovenly daoist priest looked over. Whether it was the wind, frost, or torrential downpour, none of it was able to make Li Qingshan’s gaze waver. His pace instead sped up, running wildly through the wind and rain.
He might not be particularly clever, and he might not possess any outstanding talent, but he did possess ambition and courage that almost no one could rival.