Library of Heaven is Path
"Alright then. Don't regret it when you get injured." Qing Yu shook her head as she passed a challenge token over to Zhang Xuan. "If you really can't hold on any longer, just crush the challenge token, and the puppets will stop their attack."
"Thank you." Zhang Xuan clasped his fist before turning to head in the direction that Senior Shui had headed off in.
Watching as Zhang Xuan departed, Qing Yu harrumphed coldly. "He really is courting death!"
At this moment, another receptionist walked in, and upon seeing the displeased look on Qing Yu's face, he asked with a smile, "What's wrong?"
"A Leaving Aperture realm primary stage fellow just came by earlier, and he insisted on challenging the Bing Corridor. No matter how I tried to talk him out of the idea, he just wouldn't budge!" Qing Yu replied indignantly, seemingly upset that her goodwill had fallen on deaf ears.
The lower jaw of the newly arrived receptionist fell to the ground from shock. "A Leaving Aperture realm primary stage fellow actually wanted to challenge the Bing Corridor? Is there something wrong with his head?"
As receptionists in the Hall of Solidarity, they were well aware of how difficult the Bing Corridor was. Countless Leaving Aperture realm pinnacle geniuses had attempted it, only to return with looks of disappointment on their faces. So, for a mere Leaving Aperture realm primary stage cultivator to attempt to challenge it… that was clearly seeking death!
"I don't know if there's something wrong with his head or not, but I do know for sure that he's quite a lustful fellow!" Qing Yu harrumphed in disdain.
Not understanding what the two matters had to do with one another, the newly arrived receptionist asked in incomprehension, "Lustful?"
"Just a moment ago, Senior Shui said that she wanted to challenge the Bing Corridor, and a second later, that fellow said that he wanted to head there, too. Given so, aren't his intentions clear for all to see?" Qing Yu sneered with a clear hint of derision in her tone.
"This…" The newly arrived receptionist swiftly came to a realization. "The Corridor of Puppets in the Hall of Solidarity is centered around the idea of 'solidarity'. Depending on the number of individuals who enter a certain Corridor of Puppets simultaneously, the number of puppets that appear will increase correspondingly. As such, participants will have to collaborate with one another and entrust themselves to the others before they will be able to achieve victory. For that fellow to enter right behind Senior Shui, it's apparent that he wants to use this opportunity to forge intimate ties with Senior Shui… How shameless!"
One could challenge the Corridor of Puppets as an individual or as a group.
As an individual, it would be an assessment on one's individual strength. As a group, it would be an assessment on the team's ability to perform synergistically to fend off the puppets.
Considering how that fellow wanted to challenge the Bing Corridor despite his lacking strength, it was apparent that he wanted to team up with Senior Shui so as to strike up a connection with her.
After all, Senior Shui was blessed with a beautiful appearance, and she came from a good background. Even within the Sanctum of Sages, she could be considered a celebrity. There were countless students who wanted to get close with her, but that fellow was probably the first one who dared to be so bold about the matter.
It seemed like lust had really shrouded his rationality for him to act so impudently.
"Indeed. However, with strength like his, he will only be a nuisance to Senior Shui in the examination. This will only make him incur her ire!" Qing Yu smirked smugly.
Senior Shui had been visiting their Corridor of Puppets for more than a month now, and it was apparent that she intended to clear the trial alone. So, if that young man barged in at this moment and forced a collaboration with her, it would result in the foiling of her plans, and more importantly than that, he would be dragging her down.
It would already be a miracle if Senior Shui did not resent him for that, so how could she possibly generate goodwill toward him over such a matter?"
"You're right. Let's just wait and see. He'll probably climb out in a half-death state later," the newly arrived attendant said with a smile.
Unaware of the conversation between the two receptionists, Zhang Xuan followed behind Senior Shui, and not too long later, he found himself standing before a door.
Inscribed on the door was a '丙 (Bing)' character.
Senior Shui took out the challenge token that she had been given and swiped it lightly in front of the door. With a deep rumbling sound, the stone door gradually opened.
Shortly after the stone door closed behind her, Zhang Xuan headed forward and copied what she had done, and he successfully entered the door as well.
The sight before him blurred for a moment, and before he knew it, he found himself standing in a vast room.
The room was circular in shape, reminiscent of a dueling ring. There were seals that could isolate auras and neutralize might installed all over the room so as to ensure that the walls would not be damaged.
"Who are you?"
Senior Shui had already positioned herself at the center of the room, and she had just prepared herself to face the puppets when she suddenly saw Zhang Xuan walk in. In an instant, her face darkened.
If two or more people entered prior to the start of the trial, the collaborative mode would be triggered instead. At least two puppets would appear, and the nature of the duel would become vastly different from before.
"I'm here to challenge the Corridor of Puppets, too. Isn't there no limit to the number of people who can participate in the trial? You don't need to care about me, just do whatever you have to do," Zhang Xuan said with a smile.
In his identity token, it was only reflected that it was possible for multiple students to challenge the Corridor of Puppets simultaneously, but there was no clear explanation of the rules. As a result, he had no idea that the crux to a multi-challenger mode was teamwork. On the contrary, he even thought that it was an independent trial, where everyone would be taking the test one by one.
After all, it was rare for there to be any examination involving teamwork.
It worked in his favor that the other party had come in earlier. This would be a good opportunity for him to spectate the happenings in the trial, and through doing so, he would be able to roughly gauge the difficulty and make preparations in advance.
"Don't hold me back, or else I'll make you die a horrible death!" Senior Shui narrowed her eyes threateningly and harrumphed coldly.
"Hold you back? What do you mean by that?" Zhang Xuan was startled by the abrupt remark. He was just about to probe deeper when the gears of a mechanism in the room began whirring into the action.
Following which, the door ahead of them opened, and a puppet walked out.
Dressed in black, the puppet looked no different from a real man. Upon seeing Senior Shui at the center of the room, it immediately dashed out.
At the same time, a formation in the surroundings activated.
This formation had an effect similar to a Leaving Aperture realm cultivator's Spatial Lock, turning the surrounding air exceptionally viscous, thus hindering one's movement and exertion of strength.
Facing an abrupt assault from the puppet, Senior Shui had no time to say anything at all. Thus, with a swift step forward, she engaged the puppet.
It had to be said that Senior Shui did wield considerable strength. While her cultivation was at Leaving Aperture realm pinnacle, in terms of fighting prowess, she would not lose out to any Half-Grand Dominion realm cultivators.
The cultivation technique that she practices is of the water attribute, carrying a concept of 'relentless'. Individually, her strikes don't wield much power, but when they are strung together, they turn into a raging flood that none will be able to withstand! Zhang Xuan noted.
In terms of absolute strength of their strikes, Senior Shui seemed to be severely lacking as compared to the puppets. However, what was fearsome about her was how she was able to build on the momentum of her previous move to enhance the might of her subsequent strikes, causing her to build up more and more power over the course of the battle, till the point where she was no longer stoppable.
A single droplet of water might seem insignificant, but with time, it could pierce through even a boulder.
Such was the type of strength that Senior Shui wielded. Despite her seemingly gentle movements, the rampaging blows from the puppets were still unable to breach her defenses, reminiscent of a steel hammer attempting to strike a flowing river.
No matter how powerful one struck, after the might subsided, everything would just revert to its original form.
After trading roughly a dozen blows, the young lady's eyebrows shot up as she bellowed furiously.
"You aren't going to get the better of me!"
Then, she raised her palm and pressed it furiously on the puppet's chest during an opening.
With a burst of zhenqi, the puppet was forced back eight steps, leaving a series of footprints on the ground.
However, despite the immense force behind her strike, the puppet still managed to swiftly regain its balance. On the contrary, it seemed to have grown even more enraged due to the attack, and it began moving at a faster speed than before.
Sharp claws tore through the air with a frighteningly shrill gale as they rushed right for the young lady before them.
Zhang Xuan shook his head and sighed. Even though she's able to maintain the might behind her attack, and her defense is excellent, her flaws are apparent. It's a pity that she takes too long to charge up sufficient power, thus making it difficult for her to strike during opportune moments.
It was true that the young lady could become an extremely fearsome adversary once she built up sufficient might, but the problem was that everything would begin anew once her chain offense was broken.
Furthermore, there were times where the puppet had shown openings in the midst of the battle, but because her strength had yet to build up sufficiently, she had been unable to capitalize on those opportunities to deal a decisive blow to her opponent.
For example, with the previous move, if it had been Zhang Xuan in her place, he would have blasted the puppet's head open with a single punch. However, the young lady had only managed to push it back several steps, failing to deal critical damage.
It really is a huge pity! Zhang Xuan shook his head and sighed.
While he was shaking his head and sighing, Senior Shui was on the verge of going insane. Watching the overwhelming might that the puppet was attacking her with, her face turned ghastly pale. She retreated hurriedly, forming an elegant trajectory in the air.
Even though her evasive maneuver was swift, it was still insufficient to outrun the nimble movements of the puppet's claw. With a resounding rip, a portion of her clothes were torn off, and a bloodied gorge appeared on her shoulder.
Seeing that its strike had failed to strike Senior Shui's vitals, the puppet seemed to have gotten a little frustrated. Thus, right after seeing that its claws had missed its mark, it immediately switched its attack to a palm strike and pressed it firmly down on the young lady.
While there was no zhenqi devoted to the palm strike, the puppet wielded strength on par with Half-Grand Dominion realm experts. On top of that, the surrounding formation was making it difficult for the challenger to exert her strength.
As a result, when the palm fell, it felt as if the space within the room had completely frozen in place, making it impossible for anyone to escape.
Seeing that the palm strike was just about to land on her, Senior Shui gritted her teeth in resolution. It was probably a secret art of some kind, but her figure suddenly elongated into what looked like a long strand of noodle, allowing her to escape from the palm strike in the nick of time.
However, when she reverted to her original form, her face had turned visibly paler. It seemed like the secret art had taken a heavy toll on her.
As she panted heavily, she turned around to see what the young man, who had forced her independent battle into a team battle, was doing, only to see the latter with one arm crossed over his body and the other supporting his lower jaw, seemingly enjoying the spectacle before him.
"You…" Seeing this sight, Senior Shui nearly exploded on the spot.
Since it's a team battle, you should at least make a move, right? To be standing without moving, as if a corpse, what the heck are you planning to do?
Just as Senior Shui was able to beckon Zhang Xuan to join in as well, another door in front abruptly opened with a resounding 'jiya!', and yet another puppet rushed out.
As the young man had not stepped onto the battlefield, the puppet rushed right for Senior Shui as soon as it appeared.
Just one puppet was already enough to corner her, and yet, in this moment, two of them were rushing at her simultaneously. In an instant, Senior Shui felt immense pressure heaping down on her, cloaking her face in sweat.
These puppets wield strength comparable to Zhang Qian…
Unaware of the young lady's thoughts, Zhang Xuan continued assessing the situation before him.
It was no wonder others would say that the Bing Corridor was extremely difficult to clear. The strength of the puppets was indeed fearsome.
It was true that Zhang Qian was unable to even evade a single move from him prior to the entrance examination, but that still did not change the fact that he was a Half-Leaving Aperture realm cultivator. On top of that, he also wielded the unique bloodline ability of the Zhang Clan. With such prowess, there were few who would be a match for him, and the fact that he had nearly gotten into the Elite Division was proof of the fact.
Considering that Senior Shui was faced against such an opponent, it was truly impressive that she had been able to survive for that long against the puppet.
It's a pity. It seems like she's going to fail the trial! Zhang Xuan sighed.
Having watched the battle ever since its start, he already had a clear picture of the level of strength that Senior Shui wielded. It would have been difficult for her to defeat a single puppet, let alone subduing the both of them simultaneously.
It was just a matter of time before she failed the trial.
It was no wonder she had been unable to clear the trial despite devoting an entire month to it. The trial was truly merciless.
Later on, when it's my turn, I'll knock out the two puppets simultaneously, not giving them an opportunity to work together at all. Zhang Xuan quickly ran through his decided course of action before nodding confidently.
The collaboration between the two puppets was incredible, such that even he could have had trouble dealing with them. Since that was the case, it would be better for him to take the initiative and knock them out as soon as the examination began.
At the very least, he should get rid of one of the puppets instantaneously first.
"Damn it…" With her face drenched in sweat, Senior Shui found herself swiftly approaching her limits.
She had thought that the young man would step in to help her, but he was still standing by the side, staring at the situation curiously as if he had nothing to do with it at all.
Overwhelmed with rage, Senior Shui puffed up her chest and roared, "Just how long do plan on staring at the situation for?"
"Ah?" Not expecting to be reprimanded over that, Zhang Xuan hesitated for a moment before asking, "Then… what else am I supposed to do?"
So furious that she could explode, Senior Shui accidentally lost her balance in battle, resulting in her being struck by one of the puppets' palm strikes. The fiery pain in her shoulder left her feeling even more frenzied, and she furiously bellowed, "Aren't you going to make a move?"
What the heck is this! You were the one who barged in to trigger the multi-challenger mode, but in the end, you left me to deal with the puppets by myself while you idle by the side…
Even if you are weak, surely the least you could do for the team is to disturb the puppets and hinder them from attacking me.
"Make a move?" Zhang Xuan had a conflicted look on his face. This was the young lady's trial, so if he interfered in it, would he not be flouting the rules?
After some thought, an idea came to Zhang Xuan's mind. He placed his fist horizontally against his body, and with earnestness and anticipation written all over his face, he yelled, "Senior Shui, you can do it! Senior Shui, you can do it! Banzai!"The Bing Corridor is the third most difficult Corridor of Puppets to challenge.