Chapter 63: Gloomy Forest
There were only two more days to the Trial of Gloomy Forest. Xiao Chen did not go out like before. During the day he continued to ponder upon the comprehensions that he had made from dueling with Zhang He while cultivating the Purple Thunder Divine Incantation at night.
Xiao Chen felt he had already touched the margins of the Changing Character Formula of the Battle Sage Origins. However, after he came back he wanted to use Flight on Wings but was not able to do it despite several attempts. Xiao Chen thought about it persistently. One of the main reasons he was able to use Flight on Wings smoothly that day was that his body was in desperate straits after getting struck by that Moon Bright Like Fire, activating his body's potential. Another reason could be because he ate the Cloud Swallowing Pill and raised his strength by an extreme amount, much stronger than his current realm.
Regardless, whichever it was, it caused Xiao Chen to be filled with anticipation for the Trial of Gloomy Forest. Only by putting himself in a desperate situation in a dangerous place, in a situation of life and death, only then could he understand the quintessence of the Battle Sage Origins' Changing Character Formula. Only through continuous combat would the strength of his body rise; entering into secluded cultivation was not a good solution for that.
Two days later the trial was held as scheduled. The First Elder lead Xiao Chen and a group of people to the plaza in the center of the city. The three great clans, and others, would gather there. Then, under the leadership of Mohe City's City Lord, they would rush to the edge of Gloomy Forest and begin the trial.
This time, there were ten people from the Xiao Clan taking part in the Trial. Everyone was at least a Superior Grade Martial Disciple. Xiao Jian and Xiao Yulan were both Martial Masters. They were definitely the strongest amongst the three great clans.
When they arrived at the plaza, the people of the Tang Clan and Zhang Clan had already arrived. The looks the two clans gave the Xiao Clan were not very friendly. They had both recently suffered some disadvantages at the hands of the Xiao Clan. A new hatred piled onto the old hatred, and they wished they could just beat up the Xiao Clan now.
There was a stone platform in the middle of the plaza. The City Lord had not arrived yet. Xiao Chen and Xiao Yulan had a casual conversation with each other, so they were not bored. They were thinking that the City Lord was keeping others waiting in order to show off his status.
"You must be Xiao Chen."
As the two of them were chatting, suddenly, someone walked over from the side. Xiao Yulan looked at the person and frowned slightly. She said in a soft voice, "It's the Tang Clan's people." Through his Spiritual Sense, Xiao Chen saw the person's appearance clearly. He was not surprised; he merely turned around and smiled, "I am, indeed. I wonder what business Brother Tang Feng has with me?"
When Tang Feng heard Xiao Chen call out his name, he felt it was strange. Tang Feng's expressions changed, "Nothing much. Brother Xiao has become famous recently; everyone in Mohe City knows about you. I just want to make friends with you."
Xiao Yulan smiled coldly, "Make friends? Your elder brother Tang Yuan died on our Seven Horn Mountain. Instead of seeking revenge, you want to make friends?" After Tang Feng heard that, the smile on his face grew wider, "That fellow was always going against me. Now that he has died at Brother Xiao's hands, it serves him right. This is something that I should be thanking Brother Xiao for, so why would I be thinking of revenge?"
Tang Feng's heart was full of schemes. For the position of clan head, he had fought with his brother. This was a normal occurrence since ancient times, and it was not unusual. However, Xiao Chen knew about him since that time in Linlang Pavilion. He knew what kind of personality he had. Why would he trust his words now?
Xiao Jian's complexion changed when he heard Tand Feng's words; it was unclear what he was thinking about.
Xiao Chen walked in front of Tang Feng and spoke softly into his ear, "That Inferior Grade Spirit Stone in Linlang Pavilion was purchased by me. Do you still want to be friends with me?"
Tang Feng's expression changed greatly, and his earlier smile fled. He had a grave look on his face as he said, "The person who interfered with my matters time and time again was actually you! Don't be too cocky. It is best you don't go to the Gloomy Forest. If you enter, you will not be walking back out."
He flung his sleeves back and scoffed coldly before leaving.
Xiao Chen had an unsettling feeling in his heart. Given what Tang Feng said, could there be a deathtrap waiting for me in this Gloomy Forest?
"Cousin Xiao Chen, what did you say to that person to cause your complexion to be so unsightly?" Xiao Yulan asked out of curiosity. The other Xiao Clan disciples were looking curiously at him as well. Xiao Chen smiled, "I told him that the rheum in his eye is not properly cleaned. Coming out to speak to people like that is very rude."
[TL notes: Rheum is the "eye wax" at the corner of your eye when you wake up.]
The crowd all laughed when they heard it; only Xiao Chen had a shadow left in his heart. He could not let it go, but there was no choice. He must go into the Gloomy Forest.
Screw it! I'll deal with it when it happens. I'll be ready for it. Thinking about it now will just increase my frustrations, Xiao Chen consoled himself.
At this moment, the crowd suddenly became noisy. Xiao Chen looked up and saw it was the City Lord Dugu Feng finally arriving. This was the most powerful man in Mohe City. Xiao Chen was very curious; he sent out his Spiritual Sense but discovered he could not see through the City Lord's strength.
He was astonished. Thinking about it, as the City Lord his cultivation must be astonishing. Xiao Chen simply did not expect that it was so great he could not see through it.
The City Lord gave a few words of encouragement and then gave some instructions to the men behind him. A few small dots immediately appeared in the sky. As one of the black dots flew nearer, it became clearly visible. It was a huge Flying Spirit Beast-Curtain Bat. This was a bat-type mutated bird. It had no feathers on its body, and instead, it had sleek black skin. Its size was very large when it spread its wings out, with a wingspan that was tens of meters.
They landed and caused a large cyclone on the ground; sand and dust flew everywhere, causing everyone to shut their eyes.
The group from the Xiao Clan followed Xiao Qiang to one of the Curtain Bats with excitement on their faces. This group of people had never seen Flying Spirit Beasts before. Now, they had the chance to ride one, and could not help but feel eager.
Although Xiao Chen could use his Gravity Spell to fly slowly, he was still full of anticipation for this Curtain Bat. It would definitely be a whole new experience riding on it.
After the Curtain Bat spread its wings out, its back and wings resembled a huge platform. Under the instructions of the coachmen, everyone removed their shoes and socks before climbing on barefooted.
Standing barefoot on the Curtain Bat, Xiao Chen actually felt a faint suction holding his feet firmly. When he wanted to raise his feet, he was able to easily take a few steps forward; it was as stable as the ground. Xiao Chen felt astonished. No wonder the most used Flying Spirit Beast was this Curtain Bat. Although it was a little ugly, it was very stable.
The Curtain Bat cried out and it created a hurricane. With a 'sou' sound, it flew into the air. This Curtain Bat did not rely on the flapping of its wings to fly, but instead, it controlled the air currents; its speed was very fast.
The crowd left behind in Mohe City slowly became smaller and smaller until they became mere specks, before completely disappearing. The sound of the wind was loud, but no one panicked due to the force of the suction beneath their feet. The smiles on their faces had yet to fade away.
The Gloomy Forest was in a remote area, and it was quite a distance from Mohe City. Even riding on this Curtain bat would require four hours. Xiao Chen did not wish to waste any time, so he sat down cross-legged and started to cultivate. A gratified look flashed in Xiao Qiang's face. Xiao Chen was diligent, not arrogant and hot-tempered, and he had the inheritance of the Thunder Emperor. He would definitely accomplish great things in the future.
Under the influence of Xiao Chen, the others withdrew their excited expressions and sat down in a crossed-legged fashion to begin cultivating.
After flying for a long time, the Curtain Bat finally stopped. Xiao Chen opened his eyes, putting on his socks and shoes before gently jumping down.
He saw a dull gray forest in front of him. He thought in his heart, This should be Gloomy Forest. I wonder what kind of surprise will it bring me.
Right at that moment, Xiao Chen felt a gaze filled with intense killing intent lingering on him. Looking in the direction where the killing intent was coming from, Xiao Chen saw the Zhang Clan's clan head. He was not trying to conceal it, and there was a strong hatred in his eyes. Waves of killing intent surged towards Xiao Chen, but he was not afraid. His lips curled up into a smile; he was not bothered by it.
"Elder Xiao, are these the people your Xiao Clan is sending?" the Mohe City Lord led four old men in gray robes over.
Xiao Qiang nodded his head and pointed out the ten of them. When he reached Xiao Chen, under the City Lord's request, Xiao Qiang introduced him.
"Elder Xiao, this is not your first time here. You are clear on the rules?"
Xiao Qiang nodded his head, "Of the ten people I have brought, the highest cultivation realm amongst them is Medial Grade Martial Master. The oldest cultivator is 18 years old. City Lord Dugu may inspect them."
For the Trial of Gloomy Forest, the participants cannot have a cultivation realm higher than Martial Master or be older than 20 years old. If they overshot the requirements, they would be killed. Xiao Chen breathed out in relief; he did not expect this requirement. If there were no Martial Grand Masters, even if the Zhang Clan and Tang Clan worked together to deal with him, he was not afraid.
After Dugu Feng and his group left, Xiao Qiang looked solemnly at the group he brought, "I shall not elaborate on the dangers of Gloomy Forest; you all should be clear on that already. If there is any grudge amongst you, put it aside while you are in there."
"This Trial is extremely difficult. Xiao Chen will be your captain; his words are my words."
When the group heard that, there was a look of amazement in their eyes. However, it disappeared quickly. With Xiao Chen's strength, it was not strange for him to be made Captain.
Xiao Qiang waved his hand and did not let Xiao Chen speak, "Don't reject this. I still have not told you your mission. Lead this group of people and keep them alive. Harvest 200 Rank 2 Demonic Beast's Demonic Core and your mission will be considered complete."
Xiao Chen felt helpless in his heart, but the First Elder had made his decision and he would not allow anyone to object to it. Xiao Chen could only accept this arduous and unrewarding undertaking. After half an hour, everyone's preparations were complete. Under the leadership of Xiao Chen, they slowly walked into the dull gray forest. They could see that the other two teams were also moving.
In the instant they entered the forest, everyone could feel an attacking chill. The mud on the ground was actually pitch black, and it made their scalps feel numb. Raising his head to take a look, the tall and dense tree branches blocked off all sunlight; the forest was dusky. Everyone's vision was severely impaired. Xiao Chen looked towards the front; he could see a black fog filling the air, and was unable to see clearly.
He sent out his Spiritual Sense and found that there was an unknown force hindering it. Xiao Chen's Spiritual Sense was actually only able to cover an area of 200 meters.
Xiao Chen felt surprised; he had not expected such a situation to occur. However, now was not the time to complain. Xiao Chen took out the map that the First Elder gave him and took a look, then he led the group towards the front.
After twenty minutes, the scenery in front of the group's eyes had not changed. Finally, there were some people who could hold back no longer and complained, "Xiao Chen, where are you taking us? After walking for such a long time already, we still have not seen any Demonic Beasts. At this rate, we will never complete the mission of collecting 200 Demonic Cores."
Xiao Chen felt helpless in his heart; it had not yet been half an hour and already there were people who could not stand the loneliness. This burdensome work of being captain was truly difficult.
"You are so eager to meet a Demonic Beast; are you not afraid of being eaten by it?" someone at the side teased him.
"What a joke. I am here to kill Demonic Beasts, not to feed them!"
"How could that be possible?" the person said in a loud voice.
Xiao Chen could not be bothered by him. However, a dangerous aura was suddenly felt. He hurriedly called out, "There is danger! Everyone, be careful!"
When the rest heard this, they immediately became alert. The person who spoke earlier looked around but did not discover anything. He said impatiently, "Danger? Where is the danger you speak of? Why do I not see it?"
From right above that person's head, the people at the side saw a horrifying scene. There was a long red tongue descending from above and it wrapped him up.