Chapter 72: To Cultivate, One Should… (6)

The region of death within the Shattered Star Continent could be described within four sentences.

Hell of the ocean, Blackwater Crags.

Hell of fire, Volatile Mountain Biao.

Hell of wind, Pass of Agony.

Hell of the earth, Plains of Death.

The region of death was scattered amongst the continent, with passages leading to the various zones of absolute danger existing in every region.

If one dared to venture into the fringes of explored territory, ample preparation was required to not succumb instantly within the danger zone.

There were rumors that the region of death was actually the entrance to a world underground of a far larger scale than that of the surface of the Shattered Star Continent.

Similarly, others claimed that they were instead gateways to secret pockets of space hidden from the world, though not a single person had lived to verify either rumor.

At least, nobody had confessed that they had survived the region of death.

At the extreme north of Great Yong, was a snowy field barren of life that led directly into a range of mountains.

The howling gales and fearsome temperatures were far below unbearable temperatures, with the night providing a dangerous and bone-chilling surprise.

The plains were several times the size of the Feng Bi Prefecture, and if one were to step onto the plateau, the only visible environment would be snow, mounds of snow, and even mountains of snow.

The reduced visibility by the low temperatures and fierce winds created an impossibly difficult maze, with danger at every step and turn, and death creeping from behind.

The northern plains did not require any fierce beasts or traps; an avalanche of supercooled snow and hypothermia were sufficient as guardians and killers of the snowy maze.

Not even Nascent Soul Realm cultivators dared to venture far in the plains, for the biting cold was capable of penetrating all defensive barriers of spiritual essence, and thicker clothes were simply not an effective solution.

Not to mention the howling wind that was as sharp as nails, capable of shredding any existence into miserable strips of frozen flesh.

Beyond the snowy plains of the north was indeed, a pathway leading to the Pass of Agony. If one could pass through the fate of freezing to death, they would be exposed to a large range of mountains.

The ground was sloped that several pathways were constructed, winding around the mountains, some even coiling up the mountain’s height.

Where they evidently guided was a mystery not a single person dared to ask.

The freezing temperature and fierce rains did not extend beyond the snowy plains, but the peaks of each mountain were surrounded by a dense, black cloud, with massive bolts of lightning striking the ground at random intervals. The ground was not affected by the impact of lightning, but not a single living creature could be found in the entire Pass of Agony; not even the most resilient of plant life could be discovered.

Furthermore, the expected sound of thunder did not manifest with each bolt of lightning.

Instead, a dull sound akin to the hammering of metal onto soil rang out with each impact, causing great shockwaves to ripple outwards and decimate the air.

Fifty meters into one of the major pathways in the Pass of Agony, an odd phenomenon occurred, an unusual sighting for the region of death itself.

For a man, a human being, was standing on the peak of one of the lower mountains, encased in a net of lightning.

The man wore a loose scholar’s robe, standing tall with an reserved but indomitable aura emanating from his body. Underneath the grey robe was a toned, muscular frame of excellent proportions, displaying elegance without lacking strength.

The man’s handsome features could be considered perfect and captivating, appearing to be no more than his mid-twenties of age.

“Come!” the man boldly shouted towards the hazed sky, spreading his arms wide.

“Show me the fifth tribulation the Heavens have in store for this scholar!”

The sky rumbled in response, numerous dots of light appearing over the peak of the mountain the man stood on. After a few moments, the dots gradually began to converge into a single point, the light growing in intensity until it became blinding to the eye.

The man laughed, slapping his chest with his right palm, before pressing onto the ground with his left. With a quick exhale of air, a resplendent blue light burst from his body, evaporating the net of lightning upon mere contact.

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Retaining the blue light around his body, the man maintained his posture as he closed his eyes, the reserves of spiritual essence within his dantian roiling and seething with agitation.

Both the sky and man fought for time, one converging the atmospheric essence for a single, mighty attack; the other ignited his entire reserves of spiritual essence for a powerful array.

The man abruptly raised his left palm from the ground and towards the sky, the fingers extended in a grasping motion as if holding a large pearl, the right hand sweeping towards his side. With a steady step forward with his right foot, the man brought both arms to wrap around his torso, before springing outwards in a wide arc.

The barrier of blue light above his body descended to the ground, before spreading to form a disk hovering above the rocky surface. The disk was a few meters in radius, and was of different shades of blue, the gradient thinning as it expanded towards the fringe of the disk.

With a determined shout, the man swept his left foot back, blue light exploding forth from his dantian. The disk of light above the ground resonated with the inundation of spiritual essence, and trembled as golden letters began forming on the its surface, forming a rather intricate diagram.

The array formed by the man in the gray scholar robe only contained three characters; sword, kill, and pierce.

The characters were arranged at different angles and positions alongside of the disk. Near the center of the diagram, the strokes of each character had been scattered to connect with another, retaining the original characters if the strokes were to be recited from left to right, rotating central point.

Watching the final stroke of golden light strike the array, the man released a relieved smile, and he boldly stared at the sky, watching the point-mass of light become denser with each second.

“Come!” the man shouted, his aura surging to the peak.

“The mighty Heavens, why don’t you display your ability!?”

“This is already the fifth tribulation, do not keep me waiting for so long!”

As if provoked by the man’s taunting, the sky roared, and the point-mass of lightning descended rapidly. With a cold grunt and unshakable resolve in his eyes, the man stomped his right foot onto the mountain’s peak, triggering the array’s activation.

“<Cloud Piercing Sword>, break through!”

The disk of blue light converged onto its center at a swift and steady pace. As the radius of the array shrunk, the center constructed a pillar of light that soared into the air to intercept the descending bead of lightning.

BOOM!

An earsplitting shockwave rang out, throwing the man off of the peak of the mountain from the sheer force of the impact. Nonetheless, the man revealed a smile as he crashed into the side of a neighboring mountain.

The lightning bead was nowhere to be seen.

The pillar of blue light had mostly decayed from the single blow, the pillar having corroded to reveal a damaged jian. The blade had numerous chips and warps, and the base of the sword was missing. Having expended its allotted reserve of spiritual essence, the beam of blue light dissipated, the jian disintegrating into numerous particles of light.

The man slowly stood, gazing at the hazy sky with a peaceful smile on his countenance.

The scholar robe was reduced to a barely connected string of rags, yet the man continued to display a joyful smile.

The bones had suffered multiple fractures, and some were even broken or fragmented from the harsh collision with the rock, but the man didn’t seem to recognize the pain. He continued to gaze at the heavens for several moments, before dipping into a respectful bow.

The tribulation had ended, as it had concluded with a single blow.

He, Gao Yun Zhi, had successfully become a candidate for the sixth tribulation of the Mortal Tribulation Realm.

As the man bowed his head, a gentle, golden light descended from the sky, carefully enveloping the man within.

Audible cracks and pops quietly resounded throughout the Pass of Agony as the man’s body was healed to the maximum, before enhanced by a noticeable margin. Gao Yun Zhi’s eyes closed in bliss, his soul awash with a newfound strength.

Determining that the candidate underneath had fully recovered and received the blessing of the sky after completing the tribulation, the golden pillar of light dissipated into a faint mist. Bowing his head low, the man quickly stripped off his rags and exchanged them for a complete set of robes.

The string of rags tossed onto the ground.

“Let that be a marker,” Gao Yun Zhi smiled, before gazing at the south.

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“I’ll visit the Blackwind Hills one more time, before I head back. Senior Brother, you should quickly wrest those seals off, ah!”

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