Editor: Dhael Ligerkeys
Before a cultivator challenges the Hundred Wards Tower, someone from the Heavenly Derivative Sect would warn them of its dangers so as to prevent them from dying an early death. Unfortunately, accidents still happened from time to time despite their best efforts.
That was why Bai Qian gave Lu Ye a severe warning. If only to avoid the Crimson Blood Sect’s wrath, Bai Qian did not want any harm to befall Lu Ye if at all possible.
After Lu Ye had stepped into the stone tower, he stood in the middle of a ward as per Bai Qian’s instructions.
Bai Qian installed Spirit Stones all around the ward before looking up to see if Lu Ye was ready. He activated the ward when the young man gave him a nod.
Lu Ye’s vision distorted not unlike how he usually entered or exited the Spirit Creek Battlefield via the Divine Opportunity Column. Before he knew it, he found himself standing in the middle of an empty space, alone.
The space wasn’t particularly huge. It was about the size of a standard room.
He looked around and saw a bulging brick on a wall. The brick gave way the moment he walked up to it and gave it a light push.
World Spiritual Qi surged as patterns swiftly spread out in every direction. The patterns covered not just the floor, but also the walls.
Lu Ye understood what was asked of him immediately. The challenge was to breach the ward.
For many years, countless people from all across Jiu Zhou had challenged the Hundred Wards Tower. Naturally, they had figured out its variety a long time ago.
Generally speaking, the tests fell under three types: ward creation, ward breaching, and ward restoration.
The first two types were pretty straightforward. A ward creation test required the challenger to create a ward as the Hundred Wards Tower demanded, and a ward breaching test required the challenger to breach a ward that was generated by the Hundred Wards Tower. Ward restoration was a little more complicated. Sometimes, the Hundred Wards Tower would generate half a ward and challenge the cultivator to fill in the blanks. Sometimes, it would generate an incorrect ward and challenge the cultivator to identify the flaws and repair them.
Each floor had a nine-hour time limit. The more challenges a cultivator completed during this time, the better the rewards they would receive.
Hundred Wards Tower was named the way it was not because it only had a hundred wards, but because it had a hundred floors.
The test was child’s play for Lu Ye. His ward breaching skills were easily leagues ahead of his ward creation and ward restoration skills.
Lu Ye kicked off by tossing two Spirit Pills into his mouth and activating Insight. His eyes flashed with aura, and he was able to identify the functional nodes in the ward immediately. This was just the first level after all. Of course the ward was fairly basic.
Lu Ye did not know the purpose of the wards, but he didn’t need to. Not even bothering to summon his ward flags, Lu Ye unsheathed the Inviolable and thrust it into one of the nodes. The ward abruptly stopped functioning before crumbling into nothing.
He had breached his first ward in just three breaths!
Patterns of light spread out once more and formed a new ward. Again, Lu Ye stabbed a node with his saber after observing it for just a moment.
No more wards appeared when he breached his third ward. Instead, a dot of light appeared out of nowhere and floated in front of Lu Ye. When Lu Ye grabbed the light and pressed it against his forehead, a message immediately appeared in his mind.
This time, his test was to create a ward. The layout of the ward was imprinted inside the message.
Lu Ye put away the Inviolable and thought for a brief moment. Then, he produced five ward flags from his Storage Bag.
Obviously, ward creation was more troublesome than ward breaching. In the past, Lu Ye had created his wards directly using Spiritual Power just like how he constructed a Glyph. While it was one of the fastest methods to create a ward, it tired him out faster, and the generated ward was pretty unstable. It wouldn’t take much effort to breach it.
A ward created with the help of ward flags was a different story. Not only did it strain him less, the ward was stronger, and the margin of error was much bigger. This was how most ward cultivators created their wards. After all, not everyone possessed his level of Spiritual Power control.
Lu Ye set down the flags in all four directions and built the shape of the ward in a short time. Then, he channeled his Spiritual Power and filled up the blanks within the ward.
This was one of the benefits of creating a ward with the help of ward flags. It was much easier to build a ward by establishing the shape first using the ward flags and filling the contents later, than creating everything from scratch and finishing in one go.
The ward was completed just an incense stick later. It was a very swift progress all things considered. When Lu Ye finally created the last pattern, the ward circulated for around three breaths or so before an unknown force wiped it out from existence. Lu Ye then put away his ward flags.
That was a mistake. It was because his next test was still a ward creation test.
It wasn’t long before Lu Ye realized that the tower was seemingly targeting him. It was because only two out of the ten tests he took were ward breaching tests. The rest were all ward creation.
At least he didn’t need to complete any ward restoration tests yet. That test type appeared only after one had cleared the tenth floor.
While he didn’t know what his fellow ward cultivators had experienced during their challenge, he highly doubted that their tests were as skewed as his. It was to the point where he was starting to wonder if the Hundred Wards Tower had a mind of its own. Perhaps it was scaling the difficulty because he breached its wards too quickly?
Despite this, Lu Ye’s ward creation speed was actually increasing instead of decreasing. This was just the first floor after all. The wards were pretty simple in structure, and they shared plenty of common characteristics with one another. The more he practiced, the faster he was able to create the wards.
In fact, his only problem now was energy consumption. He had unlocked one hundred and seventy nine Spiritual Points in total, meaning that he was only one Spiritual Point away from reaching the Ninth-Order.
He would’ve ascended sooner, but learning how to forge ward flags with Bai Qian cost a ton of Spiritual Power. As a result, he wasn’t able to make any progress during that half a month.
There was no hurry though. Once he had overcome the first floor, the Hundred Wards Tower would fill up the room with World Spiritual Qi so he could recover to full strength for the next challenge. He would use the opportunity to ascend to the Ninth-Order then.
And so Lu Ye created and breached wards again and again. He was so absorbed in the tasks that he even forgot the passage of time.
At some point, after Lu Ye had created another ward exactly as the Hundred Wards Tower had asked of him, the room suddenly became flushed with World Spiritual Qi. In just a few breaths, the room had become so foggy that he almost couldn’t see his own fingers.
It was then he realized that his nine-hour time limit was up.
In fact, it wasn’t difficult to overcome the Hundred Wards Tower. The challenger only needed to breach, create or restore a ward one time to qualify for the next floor. The challenger could clear additional tests to obtain better rewards, but otherwise it was completely optional.
Technically speaking, the sudden rush of World Spiritual Qi at the end of the time limit counted as a reward as well. However, it was really aimed to hasten the challenger’s recovery and allow them to challenge the next floor at full strength.
Lu Ye hadn’t counted exactly how many tests he had completed during these nine hours, but he reckoned that he had cleared forty or fifty tests at least. This was after the Hundred Wards Tower made it so that most of his tests were ward creation tests too. Otherwise, he could’ve doubled or even tripled that number.
Lu Ye did not know this, but his score was among the best of the best. If the stele at the base of the tower was still functional, his name would’ve appeared on the list for sure, and it would be among the top.
Naturally, the Hundred Wards Tower rewarded Lu Ye handsomely for his efforts. The World Spiritual Qi that was thick enough to be condensed into a fog was the proof of that.
That wasn’t all. A fist-sized light had appeared out of nowhere and floated in front of Lu Ye. It was the greatest reward the Hundred Wards Tower could offer.
Lu Ye did not rush to touch the ball of light, however. First things first, he checked how much Spiritual Power he had left.
Breaching and creating wards for nine hours straight was no joke. He had nearly run out of Spiritual Power even though he had been consuming Spirit Pills this whole time.
With a thought, he started constructing many Gathering Spirits in his Spiritual Points. Just an incense stick later, a hundred and seventy nine Gathering Spirits had taken form. They devoured the surrounding condensed Spiritual Qi like mini vortices and refilled his drained body in a short time.
When he had returned to full form, he finally grabbed the ball of light still floating in front of him and pressed it into his forehead.
The light disappeared into thin air, and a ludicrous amount of complex information abruptly appeared in Lu Ye’s brain. What happened next was easily one of the most exotic experiences in his life.
If absorbing the info on the leaves of the Tree of Glyphs felt like someone prying open his skull with their bare hands, stabbing a red hot iron into his brain and stirring it into mush for good measure, then this one felt like someone had hit him in the brain with a hammer.
He was almost thrown on his butt as if the force was physical. His brain felt like it was bursting with information, and his temples were throbbing like the way only a migraine could, but ten times worse. His eyes had turned bloodshot in an instant, and they were bulging as if they could pop out of his eye sockets.
He was reacting this way because he had absorbed too much information in one go. It was also the greatest danger in the Hundred Wards Tower bar none! This was why Bai Qian had warned him tirelessly to not push himself beyond his limits. The ball of light contained a ludicrous amount of information regarding the Way of Wards, and it was basically all jammed into his brain via Enlightenment. Worst of all, the tower did not care if the challenger could withstand the knowledge at all.
For those who lacked a strong willpower and a powerful Divine Soul, the first floor reward alone could knock them out, damage their mind, or even kill them outright. In fact, Lu Ye was the only Eighth-Order Spirit Creek Realm Master in the history of Jiu Zhou to have withstood the impact.
There were several reasons Lu Ye wasn’t knocked out like the others. One, this wasn’t the first time he had experienced a similar sensation. Second, his Divine Soul had been baptized by the Pool of Divine Purification, so it was much stronger than the average Eighth-Order cultivator.
Finally, his experience with the Rift of Illusions also helped to an extent. Every time he “died” in the rift and returned to reality, his Divine Soul was tempered ever so slightly. The improvement wasn’t noticeable during his first or second entrance into the rift, but there was definitely an improvement. Lu Ye was unaware of this, however.
That was why clearing additional tests for better rewards wasn’t always the right choice. The challenger must know exactly how much his mind could endure. Those who got greedy and exceeded their limit would be lucky to escape with their lives.
The majority of challengers who died in the Hundred Wards Tower had died not because the tests were too dangerous, but because the reward was so good that they could not resist absorbing it. It was a sad way to go to say the least.