Chapter 35 – The Lake’s Jade Platform
The heart of martial arts was by no means anything that was greatly loyal or virtuous – or even good. Whether it be living buddhas that brimmed with righteousness or demon sect leaders with dark intentions, the truth was that the heart of martial arts judged neither good nor evil. It only resolved to ask whether one had the determination to tread the rocky path.
Practicing martial arts was a daily struggle. One’s life would be filled with misery, danger, enticements; if one’s mentality was not firm then it was easy to fall from the path of a martial artist and give up, thus wasting all previous efforts.
Some people only practiced martial arts for wealth and sensual pleasures. In the heart of these people they practiced martial arts without truly understanding what it meant. This would not affect them during an early period of cultivation, but as would be an insurmountable roadblock later. The Pulse Condensation Period was enough for one to have a sumptuous and luxurious lifestyle where one could drown in money and beautiful women. Sky Fortune Kingdom had many such warriors. Because Sky Fortune Kingdom would handsomely reward those who reached the Pulse Condensation Period, there were those who would suffer untold hardships to attain this goal, only to halt their path of martial arts because they could not resist the temptation of extravagance.
The Dream Trial did not examine one’s cultivation; it perceived one’s determination and heart of martial arts. Lin Ming had complete confidence regarding this. Even if he had not obtained the mysterious Magic Cube, he believed he still had a 120% chance to pass.
At this time, more than half of the candidates had failed the first trial, so after they had left the field, the square was much more spacious.
Pitiful and sad Lin Xiaodong had already lost the qualifications to enter so he could only stay on the main road beyond the square.
Lin Ming turned around to look at Lin Xiaodong. Although there were many people in the crowd, he still saw him.
Lin Xiaodong also saw Lin Ming and he gave him a thumbs up. Lin Ming smiled. When he turned his head he saw a figure in the crowd that caught his eye. The girl wore a form fitting daffodil yellow dress. She looked to be an aristocratic junior with a top hat made of swan feathers. She stood in an obscure corner and observed everything.
Lin Ming recognized this girl. She was Lan Yunyue.
Lin Ming quickly turned his eyes from her. He knew that if they saw each other it would only increase Lan Yunyue’s embarrassment. It was better to have not seen at all…
In his heart Lin Ming had not blamed Lan Yunyue for anything. After all, there had only been a silent agreement between them, and they had not discussed marriage or anything like that to an extensive degree. Lan Yunyue had made the only choice that an ordinary girl could possibly make in her circumstances.
Lan Yunyue did not know that Lin Ming had already discovered her. Lan Yunyue had struggled in her heart for a long time as to whether to come here today or not. She did not want to see Lin Ming, but in her heart was a faint bit of worry, and she wanted to know whether or not he was well.
She could only remember back to two months ago when Lin Ming had been trying to sell several inferior and poor symbol papers. The scene in front of the shop had made her feel several points of pity.
Supporting one’s own martial arts without depending on a wealthy family background, he didn’t even have a particularly fearsome talent. He only had meager savings that he could use to rent a room, to buy a meal and some medicines. In these sad circumstances he could probably only afford iron thread grass, and perhaps even not that. And if so, then in his body he would have accumulated several internal injuries.
These thoughts caused Lan Yunyue distress. She liked his strength and his persistence. She remembered when she was a child; he had protected her from a large group of bullies. He had stood in front of her like a brave knight, arms spread wide, and taken the beatings. He had made her feel protected and safe.
But alas, such feelings were in the end unable to replace certain things…
She was an attractive girl and had the makings of an outstanding woman. Her natural talent was good and although she was not from an aristocratic family, her family was well off. Such a girl would inevitably have feelings of superiority, like a noble peacock confined to a playpen with chickens. She was unable to convince herself to settle in her ordinary life. A life where she would eventually marry Lin Ming and become the mistress of a family restaurant, a life where they would love each other and have little kids at twenty, and then he would gradually age and die, and she would be there by herself with even her looks having gone.
She did not want to have such a life. She did not!
Therefor she chose Zhu Yan. Not only because of the relations between the Zhu Family and the Imperial Family, but he could also help her enter the Seven Profound Martial House. He would give rare and precious medicines to Lan Yunyue and help her enter the Pulse Condensation Period. Under the enticement of the Pulse Condensation Period, Lan Yunyue was unable to withstand her desires.
This morning, Lan Yunyue was restless. She did not want to come, but ultimately failed to convince herself. So she had arrived this afternoon. She came thinking that Lin Ming would fail the Strength Trial. As long as Lin Ming failed, he would be able to give up his dreams and go home to a safe life. With this she would be able to relax and lay down all her worries. She did not actually think she would see Lin Ming in the qualifying team. This made her simultaneously surprised and worried.
Surprised because Lin Ming had unexpectedly managed to break through to the Second Stage of Body Transformation at only fifteen years of age and having no family background.
Worried because she could not conceive that Lin Ming could reach this stage safely; she only imagined that on his body were several internal injuries, and that he would be nothing more than a cripple by the time he was thirty….
In the morning, the beautiful lady supervisor of the Strength Trial appeared once again. She stared down at that crowd and saw that there were still many people remaining and thought this result wasn’t too shabby. “Everyone follow me. We are now headed to the Sea Jade Platform.”
The crowd of about a hundred boys and girls followed the beautiful woman supervisor as she passed through the mighty and intimidating gates of the Seven Profound Martial House.
The Seven Profound Martial House was nestled into the hillsides. There were no tall buildings or massive constructions inside, but endless stretches of land and streams dotted with gorgeously designed pavilions. These pavilions were carefully crafted, with smooth, fine lines and surrounded by a perfect blend of scenery. It really made one exclaim in amazement at the seamless craftsmanship and sense of natural aesthetic that went into its design.
The crowd people walked for about the time it took to drink a cup of tea, until they approached a deep green lake. It had a vibrant color like living jade. The surface had no trace of waves and was peacefully quiet. The lake was hedged by weeping willow trees, and even though it was autumn when the leaves of trees would fall, it amazed everyone that not even a single leaf had was floating on the calm lake surface.
In the center of the emerald lake, a jade platform had been carved out of pale white jade. The jade platform was joined to the shore by nine stone bridges. It was like a mystical fairy world come to life.
Lin Ming found that a few dozen meters from the jade platform was a pavilion that was floating in water. In the pavilion was placed a stone table that was covered with tea and dried fruits. Around the table were sitting several old men and a single girl who were looking towards them with great interest.
It was unexpectedly Qin Xingxuan and Mister Muyi.
Lin Ming slightly hesitated; why would they appear here?
Muyi had also discovered Lin Ming looking towards him, and faintly smiled back. Qin Xingxuan also had a friendly smiling face.
Lin Ming returned a smile out of courtesy. He had a faint suspicion that the other people accompanying Muyi were not simple. Among them were several, who it seemed from their breathing and appearance, were not any less strong than Muyi.
These people were masters!
Lin Ming wasn’t mistaken. These people were several of Muyi’s friends and several officials of the Sky Fortune Kingdom’s government. There were also elders from the Seven Profound Martial House. Exams were twice a year, and they would come to observe to see if there were any good seedlings among the candidates.
They were mostly looking for those with sufficient talent and who also had the pure heart of a martial artist. Every year, the candidates had to register their talent and other information in order to enter the entrance exam. Thus the elders did not need to measure as they had already looked through the files.
The candidates this time around were barely satisfactory. The strongest was a high fourth-grade talent.
Having a fifth-grade talent was a once in a decade event and wasn’t a usual occurrence. The high fourth-grade talents were also good and the low fourth-grade talents could make do. The third-grade talents were somewhat inferior.
The first round of the exam was not anything important, therefore the Martial House’s elders had not made an appearance. They have seen the talent already and this time they came to observe which one of these candidates had an especially strong heart of a martial artist.
“Come up. Defend your mind, sit in meditation, and once you cross the five trials then you will have passed.” The beautiful lady supervisor said.
The candidates stepped onto the nine stone bridges one at a time. Their hearts began to drum wildly in their chest. During the first round their hearts had been filled with confidence. They knew the limits of their own strength. Only some of them had thought that they might be nervous and not able to display their full potential, but they knew in their hearts that they did not need to be too anxious about passing. But this time was the Dream Trial, and they were nervous.
Many of the candidates had never attempted the Dream Trial before, so they did not have an idea what sort of scene they would encounter at the end. But they had heard that this was the trial with the highest rate of elimination; it would reach as high as 90%!
In a group of ten, only one would pass!
One had to know that they were these were the most outstanding talents among those of their age. In a small town or small family or even in an entire city, they were the most splendid and majestic of their generation. They had constantly been revered and labeled geniuses since childhood, but even in such a group of people, most would be eliminated within the Dream Trial!
This trial was truly terrifying!
“Sit upon the jade platform. After ten breaths the trial shall begin!” The beautiful lady supervisor said. Even though she was separated by a far distance, her voice was clearly heard within every candidate’s ears. This method of passing messages via true essence was even more profound and powerful than Zhu Yan.
Lin Min suspected that this beautiful lady supervisor was a martial artist at the Pulse Condensation Period.
As Ling Ming stepped onto the jade platform, he scanned the distant crowd and discovered that among them was Lan Yunyue. She was leaning against a willow tree at was still gazing at Lin Ming not thinking that she had been sighted by him.
Lin Ming gave a single sigh and no longer looked. He sat cross legged on the jade platform.