Fu Manduo, Liu Wuyan, and the others discussed: “Although we don’t have the skills, we can make discreet inquiries in the inner sect. It’s not a difficult matter. On the contrary, Junior Sect Brother Gongyi, you must first quickly apply at the outer sect Task Hall and become an inner sect disciple. When that time comes, Senior Sect Brother Zhao can set out and justly conduct an investigation.”
So long as Zhao Yuheng got involved, no matter how rampant Li Duanshui was, he wouldn’t dare act too excessively. Moreover, if they couldn’t find sufficient reason to inhibit Zhao Yuheng, they absolutely couldn’t use any power to pressure the others again — If they wanted to inhibit Zhao Yuheng, not only did this require an enforcement disciple of a higher grade from the Disciplinary Hall, it needed to be one who could inhibit the even loftier apprentice disciple who backed Zhao Yuheng. This meant that there needed to be another apprentice disciple of equal standing who was willing to pull face and confront Zhao Yuheng’s backer over these matters.
Numerous things were adding up, and the relationships involved were certainly substantial.
And the more these relationships were drawn together, the more people who were pulled in, the harder it would be to hide the truth.
Gongyi Tianheng played on this idea. After a round of associating with Tianheng, Zhao Yuheng and the others discovered that it hadn’t been two months since he entered the sect that he had already advanced to Xiantian. They regarded him a bit more importantly. Thus, after hearing Tianheng’s proposal, they followed along and were willing to help with this simple favor.
Gu Zuo had been thinking all sorts of things, but only felt like his head was about to explode.
In any case, it was like this: His big brother found some helpers. The idea was that everything would be easily solved so long as he became an inner sect disciple… Right? En, the ensuing trouble shouldn’t be too bothersome.
Because the matter was urgent, although Gongyi Tianheng had invited these people to meet together, there wasn’t any clear-cut festivities. He was currently in a hurry, and first went to receive an inner sect disciple’s token.
Liu Wuyan stood up: “This Liu will go with Junior Sect Brother Gongyi.”
Xun Suying didn’t say anything, and directly stood beside Liu Wuyan.
Clearly, she also wanted to go.
In the end, Fu Manduo and Zhao Yuheng said: “Alright. It’s better to be prepared.”
Tianheng said with a smile: “Many thanks, seniors.”
Gu Zuo hurriedly kept pace, and silently ridiculed in his heart: In other words, being prepared means that when big brother is promoted to the inner sect, he’ll also face stumbling blocks… Ah, when all is said and done, this is a very dark sect.
Afterwards, both parties separated to handle matters.
Fu Manduo returned to the inner sect, helping with the investigation. Zhao Yuheng called upon his workers to be ready at any moment. In addition, Gu Zuo’s group of four went back to the Lesser Martial Pagoda.
As stated previously, the place where one was tested to enter the inner sect was the Lesser Martial Pagoda. And the specific location to register was a small hall that was just some distance away from the Lesser Martial Pagoda.
Gongyi Tianheng wasn’t twenty years old yet. It was reasonable to say that he didn’t need to be tested, but he still needed to go over there to apply.
The appearance of this small hall didn’t look any different from the courtyards that outer sect disciples lived in. There also was an elder within, but while the elder seemed ordinary, he was actually deep and immeasurable. At the very least, whether if it was Gongyi Tianheng’s six sets of bone pearls or Gu Zuo’s keen psychic power, neither was able to see through to the true nature of this elder.
After entering, Tianheng’s etiquette was thorough: “Reporting to the elder, this one is outer sect disciple Gongyi Tianheng. I’ve entered the sect close to two months ago and have already become a Xiantian martial artist… This one also has over a month before turning twenty. I have come to apply for an inner sect disciple position.”
That elder’s eyelids lifted: “Still not twenty?”
Gongyi Tianheng moderately replied: “Yes.”
The elder took careful measure of Tianheng. He ordered to him to extend a hand, and the elder evaluated the age of his bones. After that, the wrinkled face showed a smile: “Indeed, you aren’t twenty yet. You can directly enter the inner sect.”
Gu Zuo thought to himself: Ah, this elder didn’t make things difficult for them. It seems that everyone was overthinking it?
Yet at the very next moment, he realized that, actually, he hadn’t been thinking enough.
Because another person had walked in from outside.
The one this time was also an elder. His back was somewhat stooped and the expression on his face was also very strict: “I don’t believe that this person is really under twenty. Rather, he may have just recently become twenty years old. He should be required to accept testing… What does Elder Hu think?”
Elder Hu’s eyebrows pinched: “This person’s bone structure clearly isn’t…”
That stooped elder promptly interrupted Elder Hu’s words: “Bone Measurements also have discrepancies! If this person was only nineteen or eighteen years old, then there’d naturally be no doubts. However, he said he has a bit over a month before reaching twenty. Distinguishing his age in a short time is difficult. How are we to know if he isn’t deceiving us? If there’s a mistake, we’ll be in trouble. It’d be better to simply give him the test to keep others from talking. Besides, if he really became Xiantian through his own comprehension before twenty, it’s clear that his strength is extraordinary. This so-called test shouldn’t prove difficult for him. Why not let us set our minds at ease?”
At first, Elder Hu started to feel dissatisfied. After listening, he actually felt it was a little reasonable.
His brows slowly loosened: “That’s true…”
Then, he looked to Gongyi Tianheng: “What do you think?”
Tianheng’s bearing was still very respectful: “This disciple has no objections. Since the two elders have made this request, this disciple will naturally follow through.”
Elder Hu was somewhat apologetic to him.
Originally, he felt that he didn’t see wrongly and he didn’t have any reason to accuse this youth of lying, but he also couldn’t turn a blind eye to this kind of problem that Elder Li put forth.
There was no other choice but to let this child down.
Liu Wuyan and Xun Suying exchanged glances and both thought: As expected.
Gu Zuo also heaved a sigh.
Fine. The road to happiness was strewn with setbacks… Only, it just felt like being faceslapped just now.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
The testing site was located on the Lesser Martial Pagoda’s tenth floor.
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Once they arrived at the Lesser Martial Pagoda, they went to a vacant pagoda gate. Then, the group climbed up.
The assessment was relatively private. The one going up should’ve been only Gongyi Tianheng. Gu Zuo and the others couldn’t go. Elder Li naturally had them come to a stop, and they could only wait outside the pagoda.
Yet at this time, Liu Wuyan opened his mouth: “Junior Sect Brother Gongyi isn’t twenty yet, but needs to receiving testing. Although this is to uphold the sect rules, this isn’t fair to him. When all is said and done, that so-called lie is only conjecture, not a fact. Junior Sect Brother Gongyi has conceded for the sect, and doesn’t mind this grievance. We, however, take pity, and we hope to accompany him together…
He continued: “The two elders can rest assured that me and Senior Sect Sister Xun are inner sect disciples. Even if we gain insight to the outer sect assessment, it has nothing to do with us. And Junior Sect Brother Gu is a pharmacist. He also can’t carry out any testing here. We hope the elders can be flexible and let us go in to observe.”
Elder Li heard this and his expression turned severe: “This is unprecedented—”
However, Elder Hu’s pinched brows suddenly relaxed: “Elder Li, it’s acceptable to accommodate them. Since they can’t disturb Gongyi Tianheng, what’s the harm in them standing with us?”
Elder Li said with displeasure: “The sect’s rules…”
At this time, Elder Hu’s expression turned a little unsightly: “The sect’s rules state that those under twenty who advance to Xiantian can enter the inner sect without having to take the test. Originally, I had felt his bones and verified this. Elder Li, since your suspicions are without any justification and the sect disciples are unsatisfied, this should be expected. Is it not so?”
Gu Zuo inwardly laughed.
Elder Li treated Elder Hu like a fool, and what he said in the beginning had tricked Elder Hu. But now that he was reminded by Liu Wuyan’s words, how could Elder Hu, who was also an elder in charge of the outer sect’s affairs, not see that there was something afoot? How could it be possible to continue treating him like a fool?
Just like this, wasn’t Elder Hu making accommodations by standing on their side?
The purpose of Liu Wuyan’s remark was achieved, and Elder Li realized that he couldn’t go too far. Hence, everyone went to watch the matter of Tianheng’s assessment. And so it was settled.
Following that, everyone smoothly went directly from the pagoda gate to the tenth floor.
Elder Hu’s mood wasn’t too good because he fell for Elder Li’s scheme for a short while. Not only did this blacken his impartial face, this was also dragging him down into the water. Fortunately, Tianheng over yonder also had two inner sect disciples to talk. After pulling them over, they could also testify for him.
Thinking up to here, his impression of Gongyi Tianheng was instead a bit better. As for the unidentified person who bribed Elder Li as well as Elder Li himself, they aroused some disgust in him.
— Both were troublemakers!
Of course, no matter how good of an impression Elder Hu had of Gongyi Tianheng, since they decided to do the test, they couldn’t issue the test half-heartedly.
In comparison, he was the more principled elder.
Gu Zuo lifted his head and looked all over the place.
The interior of this pagoda definitely wasn’t empty. Right up ahead, there were several standing sculptures.
There were human-shaped statues, beast-shaped statues, and also some special ones that had unrecognizable forms.
The test’s name was Crossing Three Gates. As the name implied, there were three parts to the test.
The two elders stood near the pagoda floor’s stairwell, and an arc was drawn in front of them. The space where the sculptures were located and the space where they stood seemed to be separated into different dimensions.
However, different dimensions and the like…were misconceptions.
In actuality, it was only the use of a prohibition talisman to separate both sides, preventing those outside from interfering with those inside who were taking the test.
Gu Zuo’s psychic power was quietly unleashed, clearly perceiving that there was a barrier ahead. This single layer barrier was parallel to that arc, which should have been the visible power of that prohibition talisman. It was obvious that if someone touched it, they might suffer the talisman’s attack.
— That said, how was this prohibition talisman used? It felt like a very unusual pattern.
Tianheng entered the interior of the arc, facing three sculptures.
Elder Li coldly stated: “Gongyi Tianheng, you must pass three stages and you must go through all of them. You can obtain thirty assessment points for every stage that’s crossed. Among them, ten points are automatically bestowed for getting through the stage. The other twenty points are meted out by the judgment of us elders.
He continued: “Elder Hu and I each hold ten points. Ultimately, your performance must obtain eighty points to truly pass the test and become an inner sect disciple. Do you understand?”
Tianheng smiled and nodded his head: “Many thanks for the guidance, Elder Li. This one understands.”
Off to the side, Elder Hu encouragingly said: “So long as you don’t make any mistakes, the points this old man will give here certainly won’t be few.”
Elder Li instead said: “This old man doesn’t have any sort of frivolous words like Elder Hu.”
Tianheng naturally thanked them again. After that, he looked to the three sculptures and prepared to conduct a test of his own.
The first gate was the Human Gate.
When he stood before that human-shaped sculpture and activated his Xiantian true qi, a small crack split open above that statue — Only Xiantian true qi could split open the sculpture. Soon after, the small crack widened and the human-shaped sculpture rotated, opening a large breach.
From this breach staggered out a group of wooden humans with measured footsteps.
They were puppets manufactured from a very solid lumber.
Each wooden figure had the strength of Xiantian stage one and could form a five-person formation. All Gongyi Tianheng had to do was persevere under the attacks of these five puppets for two fifteen-minute segments.
This would be converted to half an hour.
Tianheng’s sleeves fluttered and when his body slightly flashed, he’d already entered the encirclement of those puppets!
He had previously challenged the pagoda. Naturally, this wasn’t his first time responding to these five puppets. He set out very calmly; it was like handling a butcher’s cleaver with ease.
Like a vigorous cheetah, his feet kicked up gusts of wind as he maneuvered through the numerous puppets!
Gu Zuo watched Tianheng’s incredible prowess. After taking a stealthy glance at Elder Li, he started to silently tally up the points.
Gu Zuo thought: Passing one gate is only ten points — So stingy. If big brother passes all three gates, that’s just thirty points. That’s still a difference of fifty points. If big brother doesn’t make any mistakes, Elder Hu should be willing to bestow thirty points to big brother… In that case, it’ll be sixty points, and he still needs twenty points. Unfortunately, the remaining thirty points are with Elder Li. If he’s crazy enough to not give him even one point of the twenty, this would be a disaster for big brother!
But based on that Elder Li’s conduct, he’d definitely go through everything with a fine-toothed comb. At that time, he’d randomly deduct these points so that he could justify failing big brother’s test…
Maybe this was the goal of Elder Li and the person behind him?
Setting everything against them — Didn’t this mean they would make life difficult for anyone who posed even a minor roadblock to them…
Gu Zuo considered this and that, and his heart worried.
There was nothing wrong with Liu Wuyan and Xun Suying coming to act as an audience, but this was only to monitor Elder Li so that he didn’t raise any trouble. But what was to be done when he found reasons to deduct points? It was like there was nothing they could do.
Gu Zuo thought about it from different angles, but he couldn’t find a solution, so he could only continue watching.
Tianheng reacted extremely swiftly. He only used his two fists to ferociously smash this group of puppets, producing the sounds of an unending barrage. The puppets’ speed was very fast in the beginning, but they gradually slowed down from his pounding and smashing.
At last, he leaped forward, shuttling passed the whole group of puppets. The puppets behind intended to lunge at him, but the instant they were about to reach him, each and every one collapsed to the sides!
Everything ended before one could finish a small cup of tea. Not only had Tianheng pierced through the puppets’ encirclement, he’d left them paralyzed on the ground. Brilliant and awe-inspiring, incredibly valiant!
Elder Hu couldn’t help saying: “Well done, youngster. You’re really amazing! You pass! This old man thinks that this performance was perfect and deserves all the assessment points. This old man has ten points, all of which are bestowed onto you.”
After he said this, he looked to the stooped elder: “Elder Li, what do you think?”
Yet, at this moment, that Elder Li had availed himself while the first gate was passed and entered the arc’s interior. He began examining those puppets. He moved his hands as he carefully rummaged through them, his brows furrowing. Not long after, he said: “The test rules only require the disciple to endure two fifteen-minute intervals within the puppet troop to pass. Gongyi Tianheng didn’t abide by the rules. Not only did he leave early, he even destroyed all of the puppets’ cores, causing damage to these puppets…
“This old man thinks that he cannot grant any assessment points. Of the ten points in this old man’s hands, not a single point will be given!”
Elder Hu was outraged: “As the puppets were knocked down, Gongyi Tianheng could obtain ten assessment points. This is sufficient proof to have passed the Lesser Martial Pagoda. Since this pagoda gate had already been approved, you’d actually deduct all of those points? It’s clear that your heart has its secrets, but you’re letting down the sect!
“Your current efforts for the sect rules are in vain — Although the sect rules exist, we mustn’t be inflexible. This so-called assessment is to test a disciple’s capabilities in real combat. Gongyi Tianheng being able to defeat these puppets means that his strength is outstanding. He’s far superior to an ordinary beginner Xiantian Realm martial artist. With the way you’re handling this, what sort of evil intentions are you harboring!?”
Gu Zuo gave a silent upvote: Elder Hu spoke very well! Ah, that Elder Li is a nit-picker, how about handing over a couple points? With Elder Hu’s words, so long as Elder Li has a little sense of honor, big brother will be saved.
Elder Li looked at Elder Hu’s wrathful appearance, and his eyes flashed with a brief dark haze.
Xun Suying also coldly stated: “I’ve learned something today. As it turns out, the sect only yearns for rigid people for disciples. Even those with strength must be firmly suppressed… Only, this is presumably the outer sect’s rules. In my inner sect, we yearn for disciples where the stronger they are, the better. Ha, the outer sect’s rules. Sure enough, they’re not the same. Once I’m brought into the inner sect, I must inform everyone to have some proper appreciation.”
Elder Li’s face had already turned ugly.
He endured, and said: “Never mind. Consider this old man to be excessively harsh. However, the rules are the rules. The puppets have indeed been damaged. Since Elder Hu has given all of his points, this old man will give him one point. As a warning, I hope that he’ll be much more prudent when testing later!”
— He had no sense of shame
Everyone all thought as such.
But those who wanted to save face weren’t necessarily better than those who didn’t. This was a matter that no one could do anything about.
Elder Hu choked back a mouthful of anger. He decided to have a look at this one surnamed Li and his actions afterwards. If the one surnamed Li didn’t exercise restraint, he would certainly need to report this to his superiors and watch how Elder Li explained himself to the other elders!
On the side, Tianheng didn’t seem to be angry like the others. He turned around and prepared to activate the second sculpture.
This sculpture was beast-shaped.
After it split open, several gusts of wind suddenly passed through. There were as many as three grade-four wild beasts. They all came towards Tianheng to kill him!
Gongyi Tianheng threw himself forward with mixed footsteps. A palm swatted at the head of one of the wild beasts!
However, this wild beast reacted very quickly. Its big head suddenly turned, already retreating to the rear. In addition, two wild beasts came at him from both sides and were going to wedge him in the middle, striking at him together.
Outside of the testing space.
Elder Hu wore an angry look: “Elder Li, what did you do just now? This gate clearly only requires two wild beasts. What’s the reason for having three this time?”
Gu Zuo stared blankly. Eh? There should only be two beasts?
Elder Li dusted off his sleeve cuffs, and leisurely started talking: “Elder Hu should know that among all disciples there are excellent ones. One can appropriately raise the test difficulty to look at limits of this disciple. During the first gate, Gongyi Tianheng displayed a rather outstanding strength. This old man thinks that it’s only proper to be more careful.
He revealed a somewhat gloomy smile: “Although this old man doesn’t approve of his methods, I acknowledge his strength… Elder Hu, this is also in the rules.”
Elder Hu indignantly said: “What dogshit rules! If you wanted to raise the difficulty, you’d need the simultaneous consent of two assessment elders. You hadn’t told me and just did so in secret. That’s a huge violation!”
Elder Li gave a drawn-out sigh: “This old man is merely inspired by ages past. It can be assumed that there are others who can also understand.”
Since matters had already progressed to this point, Elder Hu wasn’t able to go over and halt the test.
At this moment, Liu Wuyan coldly said: “We’ve observed this matter. Elder Li, since you abide by the rules, someone in the future will have a genuine discussion with you about rules and principles.”
Xun Suying’s beautiful eyes flashed with a trace of killing intent.
— If they hadn’t seen Tianheng’s ease in the testing space, they absolutely wouldn’t have been willing to leave things at that. They would’ve insisted on preventing this farce from starting!
Gu Zuo, who’d been spectating this dispute from the beginning, was shaking his head.
This Elder Li was quite despicable.
Yet, no matter how despicable he was, he would’ve never imagined that these three grade-four wild beasts couldn’t do anything to his big brother when he was a perfected Houtian martial artist. Now that big brother had advanced to Xiantian, it was a piece of cake.
It was reckoned that Elder Li would still deduct points by finding excuses. But at the very least, his big brother’s strength had been witnessed by Elder Hu. If Elder Li was excessively petty, his reputation would be pulled down by others.
Sure enough, within the time it took for an incense stick to burn, Gongyi Tianheng had slapped the three wild beasts into unconsciousness. This time, he didn’t slay them. He’d also smoothly finished the challenge in the shortest time period.
As before, Elder Hu gave him ten assessment points.
And as before, Elder Li stated: “An abundance of skill, but a lack of bravery. Three assessment points.”
Destroying the puppets was wrong. Not killing the wild beasts was also wrong.
Once this person’s face thickened, it was natural that he could spout any sort of shameless words out of his mouth.
The third gate was the Heart Questioning Checkpoint.
After the sculpture split open, a praying mat appeared, which forced Gongyi Tianheng to sit on it, close his eyes, and experience something.
He quickly sank into an illusion. From the length of time it took to awaken, one could see whether his performance was good or bad.
Tianheng’s nature was firm and persistent. Within the time it took to burn an incense stick, he smoothly broke out of the illusion.
Under Elder Hu’s delight, he was given a perfect score.
Maybe it was because Elder Li’s words during the previous two gates went too far, this time he unexpectedly didn’t make things too difficult. He simply gave Gongyi Tianheng six assessment points.
At the present time, after calculations, Tianheng obtained a total of seventy assessment points. He still needed a full…ten points.
It seemed that he couldn’t successfully enter the inner sect?
Liu Wuyan and Xun Suying didn’t expect that Elder Li could pull so many tricks right in front of them. He was warned several times, but didn’t take them seriously. It seemed there was an enormous backer behind him. This whole endeavor was practically an inversion of right and wrong just to make Tianheng’s test impossible to pass.
Elder Hu fumed. He would soon file a report.
However once he finished filing that report, layers upon layers of audits would come down. Ultimately, while Tianheng could obtain the status of an inner sect disciple, it would probably delay the opportunity to rescue Princess Yaomin.
Perhaps the other party didn’t know about Gongyi Tianheng’s association to an inner sect Disciplinary Hall member, but they knew that if he changed his status, it would certainly be a hindrance to them.
Gu Zuo took a furtive look at Tianheng and saw that he was composed. He was very calm… He suddenly recalled something. His eyes immediately shined.
Then, Tianheng slowly bore a smile and voiced a question: “Elder Hu, I’ve heard that after participating in West Mountain Ghost Hunting, one gains assessment points. Can they be used here?”
Elder Hu paused. At once, he clapped his hands and laughed: “Naturally, naturally! You seem to have those assessment points. That’s fine.”
Elder Li’s heart felt uneasy.
But he quickly recalled his intentionally indirect inquiries to Elder Xie. He had learned that Gongyi Tianheng’s assessment points were mostly divided among his subordinates. He didn’t leave much for himself… At that time, how many Earth Ghosts could he hunt down as an insignificant Houtian martial artist? In all likelihood, the remaining assessment points wouldn’t be enough.
Hence, his heart became peaceful again.
However, Tianheng took out his own outer sect disciple token, laying it before the two elders.
On it was clearly written a set of digits: Twenty two assessment points.
Gongyi Tianheng smiled: “Now, I wonder… Does this disciple have enough assessment points?”
T/N: I’m going back to school for a nursing degree! My translation speed should stabilize soon. (Thanks for the well-wishes, everyone!)
Thanks for the corrections, Charysa.
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