1 hour passed quickly. During the journey, the old man would kill any demonic beast nearby. It only took him one move to kill a demonic beast. After their deaths, he would make Shi Yin and I harvest their beast crystals. In the end, we collected 156 crystals. Each was unique, in size, shape, colour, transparency and brightness. Such a massive pile would normally be left behind by travellers who were afraid of encumbrance. However, this was not an issue for the old man. All of the crystals would disappear into his ring.
Thought the journey, I have been thinking a lot. Self-reflecting in silence. It seems that taking this old man as my master would not be such a bad deal after all. Although I cannot testify if he is insane or not, at the very least, he seems reliable. Now my only focus should be to get stronger. To be able to protect Shi Yin.
Shi Yan’s thoughts were interrupted once the old man spoke “We’re here”.
Up in the mountain, Yuhuo, about 1200 meters tall, there was a large cave entrance. This cave entrance was strange as water was constantly flowing out of it.
“listen, both of you, I can’t enter this cave due to some mystical law. Right now you are not able to see it but there are runes above the cave saying ‘Curse all who enters. Only the innocent could be spared. Curse the immortals that ended me. Curse the gods who made us suffer’.”
The old man looked solemn as he explained “there is an array which prevents me from entering. It’s pushing me back whenever I try to get closer to the cave entrance. I believe that no one who cultivates can enter this cave. Likewise, it’s probably only children (those under 15 years old) can enter.” The old man looked deeply at Shi Yan “Shi Yan, originally, I could wait till you’re 14 before asking you to enter. However, most cultivators start cultivating when they are just a year old…”
The old man let out a deep and long sigh “originally, today, I planned to start teaching you cultivation techniques. However, yesterday night, I found this cave entrance while hunting for beast crystals for your little fox.” His eyes turn to Shi Yin “ I won’t tell you the reason as to why I brought you here. You will need to find it out yourself.”
The old man continued. His voice became more lonely “Shi Yan, this is a path that you must choose personally. I can tell you that this is a tomb entrance. Normally, tombs are deadly areas of the world. Exploring such an area always result in the death of countless people. However, those that succeed will always gain an inheritance. Inheritance are the wills left behind by extremely powerful cultivators. They are priceless aid to the path of cultivators.”
The old man descended to the base of the mountain. “Since I cannot enter, I can’t tell you the danger level of this tomb”. Once he reached the bottom, he placed both Shi Yan and Shi Yin down. “Shi Yan, the choice is yours. Your master will not force you.”
Shi Yan always lived a life of risks and rewards. However, he would always be able to estimate the level of risk before attempting to do anything. This cave was something he could not calculate. Therefore, he did not want to risk entering. However, just when he was about to speak up, Shi Yin licked his feet.
Shi Yin let out a cute “Eyah~”, trying to convince Shi Yan to enter with her. Her decision was not based on risk or reward. Rather, it felt instinctual to enter the tomb. For some reason, she felt that she needed to enter the tomb with Shi Yan.
The old man noticed Shi Yin’s actions. Figuring something out, he began to frown.
Shi Yan, seeing Shi Yin’s action understood her intentions. He thought of his promise yesterday, that he promised to get stronger, to protect her.
I can’t go back against my words… Well, we have experienced so much in just three days. If we don’t take this chance, would the dangers around us stop? That’s impossible… “Old man, can both of us enter together?”
at least if I die, I would die with you right Shi Yin?
Shi Yan’s response was no surprise to the old man, his face, still frowning “Shi Yan call me Master Hu from now on. Not old man!”
“Yes.. Master Hu…”
“Good. Here take these with you.” Master Hu took one ring from his finger and passed it to Shi Yan. “Everything you need, armour, weapons, food is here. This can last you two for about a year.”
He prepared everything already! How did he know that Shi Yin would be coming along with me? Is this man some kind of psychic? … maybe taking him for a master was a good thing after all…
Master Hu grabbed Shi Yan and Shi Yin once again and flew up. “Both of you, be prepared, I’m going to toss you in” not even bothering to count, the old man casually threw both Shi Yan and Shi Yin into the cave. They landed onto the shallow river channel inside the cave.
“You could at least count!” Enraged, Shi Yan shouted.
“It’s Master Hu!” Master Hu no longer looked at Shi Yan and Shi Yin. Instead, he flew off.
After Master Hu was far away, he muttered to himself. “To think that this is his tomb… I suspected it but I still can’t believe it. My boy! Fate has really play a cruel game with you… I should’ve killed that fox while he was asleep… *sigh* but it’s too late now. The wheel of fate has started to turn, even I can’t stop it anymore.”
Back inside the cave, Shi Yan carried Shi Yin to the side of the river. “Shi Yin, are you okay? Did that bastard hurt you?”
“eyahh” Telling Shi Yan that she was not hurt, Shi Yin gave a cute cry. Her ears twitched, sensing something, she ran deeper into the cave immediately.
“Hey! wait up!” Seeing the little fox bolt away suddenly, Shi Yan ran.
As he ran deeper, the cave grew larger over time. The texture of the wall changed from normal rocks to a smooth surface like glass. Due to the reflection of the walls, the passage became brighter over time.
Strange… the place just keeps getting brighter and brighter… Why is Shi Yin rushing so much? Even if I shout out, she doesn’t respond. Can she not hear me? Even if it was the case, she’s acting way too weird. She’d normally refuse to leave my side even for a minute; back in the orphanage, whenever I tried to leave the room, she would always try to tug me back.
The bright light source could be seen at the end of the cave. It seems to lead to an exit. However, that was not the case. The cave tunnel ended at a large space. This space was well lit by a light source, which was located in the middle of the space. The light source was placed on top of a circular altar, producing water.
It seems that the water is generated from this altar. But what’s with this huge space?
Looking around, Shi Yan saw that the space had a total of 6 entrances. One of which was a huge door, highly decorated with ornament. It seems to depict a mountain, a wolf, a moon and a man. Opposite of this door was the entrance leading back from whence Shi Yan and Shi Yin came from. Strangely all entrances except for the one with the huge door was flooded with water.
Shi Yin moved towards the altar. She entered the water and swam. When she came to about 5 meters from the altar, a crystal floor starts to emerge. It lifted her up, providing a foothold for her to jump on top of the altar. At the top, Shi Yin looked at the light source and let out a loud cry “Eeeeyyyaaahh!”
The whole room started to shake as the light source started flicker. It floated up, leaving a completely transparent orb behind, forming a humanoid shape. Then, a low and powerful voice could be heard from it. “more than a hundred thousand years have pasted since someone could enter this area.” Looking at Shi Yin, he asked “little one, what is your name?”
Shi Yin gave a excited “Eyah!”. Strangely this glowing humanoid could actually understand her, “I see, your name is Shi Yin”. Smiling, “little boy, how about you? What’s your name?”
Shi Yan took a deep breath, calmed down and replied “My name is Shi Yan”.
The glowing humanoid started to chuckle “haha, you two have the same surname. I guess you gave her this name didn’t you? Well, no matter. It’s been a long time since someone came here. Although we could do some more introductions, that is unimportant.” With a “*flick*” sound, the whole space turned into a small flower garden. The entrances still exist but now, they were covered in blooming flowers. Each entrance now had a different colour flower to represent itself. Couldn’t help being amazed, Shi Yan let out a “Woahh!”
Now, the glowing humanoid changed to a middle age man. He was quite chubby, having fine eagle like eyes and a small perky mouth. Wearing a pitch black coat, he seems untouchable. As though all living beings were beneath him. “Humm, feels so much better! It’s good to be outside the core. Shi Yan, Shi Yin, although I cannot give you my true name for your safety, you can address me by Lumi”. Lumi pointed to the ornamented door, “This door is the entrance to the testing grounds for my brother’s inheritance.” Looking up to the ceiling, Lumi explained ” This area is actually the first test. There are a total of 4 testing grounds”. Lumi walked towards Shi Yan “To be honest, these tests are nearly impossible for someone like you to pass. Likewise, Shi Yin, you are too young to truly pass the test here. Well, if both of you were to reach the age limit to enter, you’d probably still have less than 1% chance to pass all the test.”
Lumi gave out a “*sigh*, if you attempt the test, your life is not guaranteed. Do you still want to take it?”
Shi Yan already readied himself. He would not back down this time. However, he wanted to check if Shi Yin would agree to participate. As he expected, Shi Yin nodded to Shi Yan “Lumi, we accept this test.”
Lumi breathes out. His facial features become serious. “Very well. I will be your guide throughout all the test. I will explain the rules. The first test is a test of instinct, luck and fate. As you can see here, each entrance here is represented by a colour. You can enter from whichever entrance except for the door. Even the entrance you came from can now be entered. You’d best picked wisely. You can only choose once.”
After speaking, Lumi slowly faded away. Shi Yan was surprised but he did not worry. He knew that Lumi would be following him throughout the test.
As Shi Yan looked around the five entrances, he thought to himself. Red, Blue, Green, Yellow and Black. Black was the entrance we came from; unfortunately, I can’t think of anything that could relate to it. All these colours must represent something. Human emotions? Weather? Not good, there are too many possibilities. Fate, luck and instinct huh? Master Hu also mentioned something about fate…
Unable to think of anything, Shi Yan looked to Shi Yin. He found that the little fox stood at the exact same position the entire time. “Shi Yin did you get something?” His call was not responded. Shi Yan walked towards Shi Yin and gently pinched her soft ears. “Shi Yin, are you listening to me?”
Only after touching her, did Shi Yin respond. However, here was no sound from her even when she opened her mouth.
I get it now! We are not allowed to talk to each other in this testing area. Well it won’t affect me much. I can normally tell what Shi Yan is thinking just by looking at the face. I believe that she’s the same as me. Anyways, if this is truly a test of fate, luck and instinct, then I cannot just randomly choose.
Why would they make person to pick a door out of five instead of one out of a thousand? That right one will certainly test both luck and fate. Pondering, Shi Yan started scratching the back of his hand.
That if they made a test like that, they wouldn’t be able to test instinct! What does instinct mean in this case? Wait… why did he change this area to a garden? Why not make the doors light up instead? Wouldn’t it be easier?