At the Royal Palace, the situation improved after just one day but it was still dire. There has never been such catastrophe, ever. No one ever dared to fight them as they were the Rulers of this Realm.
"Ruler! We have a problem!" An old guard ran inside the throne room without notice, crying out anxiously.
On the throne, the crownless Ruler sat down with his eyes closed but had to open them due to disturbance. They were slightly red as if he didn't catch any sleep for a long time. Just when he wanted to rest, another issue arises.
"Didn't we already settle all the problems already? We just finished the meeting," the Ruler asked while rubbing his eyes, hoping they will stay awake for a little longer.
They spent the whole night settling the mess the sudden beast caused. They fixed the palace and figured out solutions to earn back the money they lost. Thankfully, they somehow salvaged the situation.
"What is it?"
"Ruler, it's about Liu Xuefeng..." The old guard started cautiously, not revealing everything from the start.
At the sheer mention of Xuefeng, the Ruler frowned. "Him again? Why does it have to be him again?" the Ruler questioned to no one in particular, his expression annoyed. "Whenever something bad happens, it's this bastard every damn time!"
"What did he do this time? Did you find out if he is connected to the blue dragon?"
The old guard postponed his news and answer first, "Ruler, we spotted no dragon next to Liu Xuefeng since the time you ordered us yesterday. We suspect he wasn't a part of this but we will investigate further."
"Good... At least this bastard is not connected with it. If he was, I wouldn't be able to withstand it," the Ruler sighed in relief. "Anything else? I'm tired."
"Ugh... Ruler, there is one more thing about him related to the recent catastrophe," the old guard hesitated but reported right after without stalling, "He chased away our tax collecting guards from the Trials and said this is his last warning. If we don't listen, he will declare war with us."
"Damn..." The Ruler cursed, rubbing his temples to hold down his anger. "It's okay, we can do okay without the Trials. I knew either Xiao Feng or he will act anyway."
"Ruler, that's not all. He also brought all three hundred Spirit Monarchs and asked everyone to take part in the Metal Inheritance Trial. Right now, almost ninety percent of the Leaderboard is filled with Liu Clan experts," the old guard informed, looking prepared to dodge in case the Ruler decides to vent his anger at him.
Thankfully, the Ruler remained at his seat and commented instead, "What a brat... Doesn't he have anything else to do?"
"Right now he is taking his army and going to one Trial after another, claiming their Leaderboards," the old guard added. "He is currently at the Fire Inheritance Trial."
"Does he want to use it to make his pitiful Clan even more famous? Cheap moves," the Ruler remarked and quickly decided. "Go gather our best experts and bring them to the Trials. I want them to set the higher scores they could so that Xuefeng's group won't beat them. You can start in the opposite direction."
"Ruler, we noticed that Xuefeng and his wives set a perfect score in the Metal Inheritance Trial. It's impossible to beat them anymore," the old guard pointed out but seeing his Ruler's frown, he swiftly added, "B-but I'm confident we can secure the rest of the spots in the Leaderboard..."
"Good. I want to see at least fifty spots which belong to us," the Ruler set the bar, thinking realistically. Knowing Xuefeng's strength, he didn't expect any of his men to beat him unless he stepped in himself.
"Yes! I will gather our men!"
Meanwhile, Xuefeng was already inside the Fire Inheritance Trial, speeding up through its floors. Before he entered with Tianshi, he pleaded her to give up just in case she can't run anymore. Xiao Wen already warned him that this particular trial, although easy, was dangerous.
One had to pass through ten floors filled with burning flames. The temperature was higher in each floor, reaching unimaginable heights. He wouldn't be afraid if not for the fact that one could only use their Spirit Qi to shield themselves from the fire. Tianshi didn't have a high cultivation base which concerned him.
Only after she promised she will be careful did he let her go inside. She was too precious for him to lose her.
"Oof, this is harder than I thought..." Xuefeng commented, stepping inside the seventh round. He thought this trial will be a simple speedrun but he could already feel an excess warmth melting his Spirit Qi shield.
If he was in such a situation, wouldn't Tianshi have it worse?
The pressure caused by the high temperature increased but he didn't stop running, planning on scoring high.
On the other hand, the person who he was worried about was already on the ninth floor, jumping through the flames as if it was summer breeze. Tianshi reached out to catch the beautiful flames and only felt a moderate warmth, feeling like it was a sunny day.
Just as she stepped into the last floor, her Fate Spirit called out to her, 'If you rush like this, you will end up first and your skills will be exposed. Do you want that?'
'Yes. I want to pleasantly surprise Xuefeng. My skills will be exposed sooner or later anyway. It's not like I want to hide it endlessly. I will only keep it a secret till I study all of them,' Tianshi explained her stance without slowing down. 'I want to see Xuefeng smile at me proudly...'
With that in mind, she ran on top of the lava surface and jumped through the exit on the last floor.
'Congratulations, you have passed the trial while achieving the perfect score. Please, claim your special reward.'
Just ten seconds later in another trial room.
'Congratulations, you have passed the trial. Please, claim your reward.'
Nuwa blinked twice, thinking she heard wrong.
"I didn't get the first place?" she asked confused, trying to confirm with the Trial Spirit. "Last time my score was announced."
'Because someone already has the perfect score, being ten second faster, we were forced to deduct one point from Miss' final score. Both runs deserve the perfect score,' the Trial Spirit answered apologetically. 'We will compensate Miss with a better reward instead.'
"Like I care about the reward..." Nuwa muttered unhappily and quickly decided, "I would like to change my name in that case."
There was no use of being a number one if she didn't get the highest score.
'Permission granted. What do you wish to rename yourself to?' the Trial Spirit agreed.
Nuwa smiled, not actually upset by such development and called out, "Please change it into, Liu Xuefeng's Kindest Wife."
'Name successfully renamed. Please proceed to claim the reward.'
"Haha, Xuefeng, I obviously the kindest, right?" Nuwa laughed as she walked towards the rewards platform.
Tianshi left the trial and waited near the portal, knowing Nuwa will soon leave as well. Just as she predicted, less than a minute later, Nuwa curvy body appeared in her vision.
Her gaze fell on Tianshi and her eyes widened.
"Tianshi? To think it would be you who beats me," Nuwa commented with a smile, approaching her. She seemed pleasantly surprised.
"Hehe, I wanted to beat you at least once," Tianshi giggled. "It would be boring without a challenge, right?"
"You are right. I prefer it this way," Nuwa agreed and questioned curiously, "Why did you hide your strength?"
"I didn't. I only recently learned some arts which happened to help me now. I still have a few to master. I will tell you guys about it when I'm done," Tianshi replied honestly, not hiding everything. "Just know those are mostly defensive arts so my fighting ability doesn't actually improve."
"Mhmm..." Nuwa nodded and suddenly proposed with a confident smile, "How about we have a challenge? Whoever has the most wins by the end of the day will become the leader of our group."
"..." Tianshi paused, staring at Nuwa in wonder. She didn't expect Nuwa would look at her as a candidate to compete with.
"Even though I agree with Xuefeng that we shouldn't compare ourselves and instead support each other, I still believe we need someone who can have the last say. We have Xuefeng but you know that in many of our matters, he won't be objective," Nuwa convinced.
"What do you think?"