Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
At midday, on the back mountain of the Little Qiong Peak, in the forest plain, which had been selected a few years ago…
His horsetail whisk in hand, the old Daoist priest stood in the extremely stable wooden cage.
Beams of light were shining around him. His brand new cyan, silk Dao robe, was a pretty good defensive Dharma treasure. It also made Qi Yuan look a few years younger than he was.
Qi Yuan was approaching the Heavenly Tribulation. Naturally, his expression was somber.
A few wisps of inexplicable aura revolved around Qi Yuan. From time to time, a petal would appear and fly past him, before disappearing with the breeze on the mountain.
Qi Yuan’s pair of disciples stood on treetops, 1,000 feet from him.
Lan Ling’e looked nervously at her master, as she fiddled with a lock of her fine black hair, which hung down her forehead.
Lan Ling’e’s body had matured even more during these few years. It looked like her slender waist, wrapped with a belt, could be held in one hand. Her long, tasseled skirt outlined the curves on her lower body, making her look flawless from every angle.
Compared to two years ago, her beautiful face looked even gentler. However, she still looked very delicate and quick-witted.
Li Changshou stood on another treetop, not far from Lan Ling’e, dressed in his regular, long robe as he normally was. In his left hand, he held a bamboo slip. In his right hand, he held a carving knife. His spiritual awareness was focused on his master and his surroundings, as he waited for the signs of the approaching Heavenly Tribulation.
There was nothing else to say.
He had already finished what needed to be done. He just needed his master to make it through the first tribulation next. Then, it would be up to him to decide when he would use the ‘precious pill’.
Now, Li Changshou’s primary task was to observe and record the process of his master enduring the Heavenly Tribulation.
This was because the Immortal Du Sect only recruited disciples once every 200 years. When Li Changshou entered the sect, the previous generation of disciples had just completed their ascension to immortality.
Most of the disciples that were limited by their potential and comprehension, and who were fated not to become immortals, had already left the sect and returned to their hometowns. In these 100 years, the Immortal Du Sect had been focusing on nurturing the youngest generation of disciples. There were very few people from the previous generation who were still ascending to immortality.
His master’s Heavenly Tribulation would be the sixth time Li Changshou witnessed a cultivator from the Immortal Du Sect enduring the Heavenly Tribulation. What’s more, it was rare for him to be able to observe the entire process up-close. He had to record every detail down and analyze it later.
A breeze blew past the forest. Qi Yuan, who was in the wooden cage, looked up at the sky as rays of light lit up around him.
In the blink of an eye, these rays congealed into pillars of light, which shot into the sky!
‘It’s here. This is the sign of Immortal Ascension!’
Li Changshou gripped his carving knife tightly, lifted up his bamboo slip, and began to write at tremendous speed. He began to record every detail that he was observing.
‘The pillars of light remained for ten minutes. The sky above the Little Qiong Peak changed color!’
Li Changshou could sense that the Heaven and Earth’s spiritual energy was gathering at the Little Qiong Peak from all directions. The energy stopped 1,000 feet above his master’s head. Instantly, they turned into gray clouds of the tribulation.
At that moment, figures flew out from various peaks in the mountain-protecting array formation. They flew into the sky and looked towards the Little Qiong Peak.
Below the clouds of the tribulation, there was a silvery-white lightning spot. Small electric arcs also appeared around Qi Yuan’s body.
Li Changshou squeezed his fingers together to calculate. Almost immediately, he raised his head and sent a voice transmission to his master.
“Master, according to the surface area and thickness of the Tribulation Cloud, I guess this would be the common Heavenly Tribulation with five bolts of heavenly lightning.”
Qi Yuan’s eyebrows furrowed. He thought that it would be the weakest Heavenly Tribulation, with three bolts of lightning. He did not think that he would have to endure five bolts of lightning.
The maximum number of bolts was nine, but Heavenly Tribulations with four, five, or six lightning bolts were common.
There was a saying that the number of lightning bolts in one’s Heavenly Tribulation would depend on the cultivator’s potential before and after ascending to immortality.
The more bolts of lightning, the broader one’s path would be, and the more potential one would have after ascending to immortality. This also meant that it would be harder for that person to make it through the Heavenly Tribulation.
After sending the voice transmission, Li Changshou lowered his head and continued writing with his carving knife.
The Tribulation Cloud began to tremble continuously as the lightning spot became more obvious. When the lightning spot reached its critical state, it turned into a blinding pillar of lightning, which struck the old Daoist priest directly on his head!
The moment the lightning struck, the earth seemed to change color!
The bolt of lightning was accompanied by a wave of the Great Dao, which carried all the power of nature in Heaven and Earth.
However, to the astonishment of the immortals and cultivators observing this Heavenly Tribulation, the power of the lightning was completely absorbed by the wooden cage, which contained Qi Yuan! Logically, no Dharma treasure should have been able to fend against the Heavenly Tribulation.
Flashes of lightning appeared in various parts of the wooden cage, but Qi Yuan remained unaffected inside. No sparks appeared on any part of his body, except in his gray hair, which was dancing around in all directions.
Lan Ling’e immediately shouted excitedly, “Senior Brother! The birdcage works!”
Li Changshou began to grin as well, but before his grin fully spread across his face, the unfathomable wave of the Great Dao appeared. The cage, which had been lit up by the flashes of lightning, suddenly exploded into pieces.
‘Alright, the Heavenly Dao does not tolerate tricks indeed. That’s fine. At the very least, Master has made it through the first bolt of lightning.’
However, at that moment, Li Changshou realized a problem. Since his master did not personally withstand the first bolt of lightning, there was no hint of immortal energy in his body.
The Faraday Cage helped to divert the first bolt of lightning, but it also took away the benefits that were to come with it.
‘You win some, and you lose some. That’s a common principle of the Great Dao. It’s a good thing that Master did not swallow that Immortal-Melting Pill. Otherwise, I would have personally killed him…’
A bigger lightning spot appeared on top of the Tribulation Cloud. It contained even more power than the one before.
Qi Yuan’s expression darkened. He adjusted his Dharmic powers in his body and slowly floated into the air.
‘I have to endure the Immortal Ascension Tribulation with brute force!’
The second bolt of lightning struck harshly. The lightning pillar, which was formed by the electric arcs, seemed to swallow Qi Yuan’s body whole!
Beads of sweat formed on Li Changshou and Lan Ling’e’s foreheads. They watched as their master endured the force of the lightning pillar for a split second, before collapsing onto the ground. Lan Ling’e immediately squeezed her eyes shut, not daring to watch any longer.
It was only when the sound of thunder dissipated, and her senior brother heaved a sigh of relief that Lan Ling’e finally opened her eyes.
The old Daoist priest Qi Yuan looked battered and exhausted as he slowly sat up inside a shallow pit in the ground. He turned to the side and coughed out blood. Then, he ate several pills and sat upright once again.
He still had plenty Dharmic powers. A faint immortal glow circled around his body.
Qi Yuan had made it through that second bolt of lightning.
Li Changshou paused his writing and reached into his right sleeve with his left hand. He gripped onto a paper doll and a pill.
‘From the way Master looks, he might be able to make it through the third bolt of lightning. However, he will surely not make it through the fourth. If Master is rendered paralyzed by the third bolt of lightning, I will have to force the Immortal-Melting Pill into his mouth.’
A bigger lightning spot appeared in the Tribulation Cloud. Qi Yuan got to his feet and quickly conjured a seal with both of his hands. Layers of Dharmic shields appeared in front of him.
Yet, they were useless.
This time, there was a loud explosive noise. It seemed like there was an entire army in the Tribulation Cloud, charging forward. A pillar of lightning as thick as a millstone carried murderous aura as it struck downwards. In the blink of an eye, it knocked down all the shields that Qi Yuan had set up, pressed him into the shallow pit, and shot power out at an insane rate.
Upon feeling the strong wind from the impact, Lan Ling’e could no longer hold in her panic. She screamed, “Master!”
However, her screams were quickly swallowed by the raging wind.
Qi Yuan barely made it through the third bolt of lightning…
This was a helpless situation. The quantity and quality of the bolts of lightning had been set since Qi Yuan had begun his cultivation journey. Subsequently, Qi Yuan had injured his Dao base. This had caused him to lose the strength and power that he rightfully should have had when he reached the Ninth Stage of Dao Requital.
This was why Qi Yuan was having such a hard time enduring the Heavenly Tribulation—he could barely make it through the third bolt of lightning.
A huge pit was left behind by that bolt of lightning. As Qi Yuan lay at the bottom of the pit, he used the last bit of Dharmic powers in his body to carry himself out of it. Standing below the Heavenly Tribulation, he raised his head to look at the even scarier, even bigger lightning spot.
Fresh blood was flowing out of the wounds in his body, but his gaze was filled with determination!
‘Heaven, how can you be so unfair?!
‘Yet, I have no complaints towards you. Heaven and Earth follow the order of the Great Dao’s cycle. This is all part of my fate. So what if I die?!
‘However, there is one thing!
‘I cannot die lying beaten and battered on the ground. My disciples are watching me. So what if their master is a useless piece of trash?! So what if their master cannot give them the protection that disciples of other peaks have?!
‘I still have to die standing!
‘I still need to maintain the pride of human cultivators!
‘I still need to give Changshou and Ling’e something to boast about. I need them to know that their master has the perseverance that is needed of a Dao Heart!
‘What’s more, I have the precious pill that my older disciple took great pains to make for me. I can use it to endure the last bolt of lightning!’
Qi Yuan took out the embroidered case and retrieved the pill. Without any hesitation, he swallowed it.
‘Come, Heavenly Dao! I know that I am merely struggling in vain in the face of death. Still, I have to take this gamble. I have to make it to the last bolt of lightning! If I die by that last bolt of lightning, it should not be too embarrassing…’
Inside the lightning spot, the power of Heaven and Earth congealed at a crazy rate. The fourth bolt of lightning was going to strike at any moment!
“Ah!” Qi Yuan shouted furiously. His hair and beard stood on the ends, and his entire body twisted in pain!
The old Daoist priest lowered his head and coughed, spitting out a mouthful of blood. Astonished, he looked at his own body and found that wisps of sanguine glow were appearing.
‘What is happening? Why am I starting to break down? Grand Pure One above, what is happening? What did this wretched disciple feed… me…?’
The lightning spot, which had been growing insanely above his head moments ago, suddenly halted. The Tribulation Cloud stopped whirling as well.
It was like this Heavenly Tribulation had great expectations of him, and wanted to perform well for its lover. Υet, at the last moment, it realized that he was no more than an exhausted, middle-aged, mortal man. Suddenly, it decided to cut the performance.
At once, Qi Yuan turned to look at his older disciple, who was grinning.
The old Daoist priest’s consciousness melted away. Like a snowman thrown into a furnace, he was reduced to liquid!
His soul, body, and even his clothes turned into a puddle of ‘blood-water’, which floated in the air.
The Tribulation Cloud trembled and turned into pure spiritual energy. The energy dissipated and left behind a ray of sunlight, which illuminated the Little Qiong Peak.
All the bystanders were confused. They observed the spot where Qi Yuan melted away and focused on the pool of blood-water.
All of a sudden, the ground emitted turbid energy. Three-colored immortal light shone from the clouds into the pool of blood-water.
From out of nowhere, they heard bamboo string instruments playing a beautiful melody.
The pure yet turbid energy slowly gathered, forming a human outline out of the blood-water.
There was a series of explosions. Qi Yuan’s figure appeared in the air once again, wearing the same clothes he was in before the Heavenly Tribulation began.
The sanguine glow disappeared, and petals danced around the old Daoist priest’s body. He stood on what looked like a muddy, magic cloud, as a faint lotus flower blossomed on top of his head, before melting into his body.
Qi Yuan opened his mouth and breathed out a breath of fresh air. The aura in his body began to flow once again.
The phenomena accompanying this Immortal Ascension seemed quite pathetic.
At that moment, Qi Yuan seemed to understand something. He turned to face Li Changshou, his eyes filled with helplessness. Yet, they welled up slightly.
‘Our roles as master and disciple must be cast aside for now.’
Qi Yuan’s expression was complicated as he gave Li Changshou a Dao salute.
Li Changshou quickly kept his bamboo slip, carving knife, paper doll, and pill, and returned the salute. For a long time, he did not dare to stand up.
The wind carried sounds of multiple discussions…
“Deliverance by Execution! He used Deliverance by Execution to become a Turbid Immortal!”
“It was an Immortal-Melting Pill! There are still people who know how to refine a pill like that?!”
“Junior Brother actually chose this route. Not bad! At the very least, he survived.”
“A Turbid Immortal. In fact, they are the same as most ordinary immortals. It’s not easy to become a Heaven Immortal as well. Most of us will not be able to advance past the Perfected Immortal Realm anyway.”