Editor: Dhael Ligerkeys
Yu Xiao and Bai Qian were still standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the valley. However, they were less numb with resignation and more shocked and in disbelief right now.
Bai Qian was Lu Ye’s teacher in the Way of Wards, so he knew exactly how good the young man was. Earlier, he had told Yu Xiao that Lu Ye should be able to clear the first ten floors without much difficulty because they were pretty simple, and maybe a couple more if the rewards he obtained from the Hundred Wards Tower were good enough.
And his prediction was reasonable. He had studied the Way of Wards for many years, so his eye for people in this regard was pretty good.
However, Lu Ye had more than defied his expectations. He had overcome thirty floors in a row and triggered a resonance in all of them!
To be clear, Bai Qian’s assessment of Lu Ye was accurate. The only reason reality had not gone the way he expected was because of the rewards. Bai Qian could not begin to imagine just how great the rewards Lu Ye had received to improve so much in just half a month’s time.
To make a comparison, if Lu Ye’s attainment in the Way of Wards was a one out of ten before he entered the Hundred Wards Tower, now he was a five out of ten. In other words, his attainment was five times greater than what it was before!
To be fair, this was a perfectly reasonable outcome. Lu Ye had triggered thirty resonances in a row after all. Bai Qian dared not claim that Lu Ye’s achievement would never be surpassed, but it was certainly unprecedented.
What Bai Qian couldn’t figure out was how Lu Ye, a mere Spirit Creek Realm cultivator, was able to withstand the mental burden of the reward. Even if his Divine Soul was stronger than your average Spirit Creek Realm cultivator, he should’ve imploded from the strain ages ago!
At this point, he was starting to wonder if the boy’s Divine Soul was greater than his, a Ninth-Order Real Lake Realm cultivator. Of course that was impossible, but what other explanation was there? Even he dared not say he would be able to hang on for thirty floors straight.
[How on earth did the boy do it?]
Unfortunately, Bai Qian had gotten the wrong idea. Lu Ye might have consumed enough Soul Cleansing Water that his Divine Soul was now comparable to some Cloud River Realm cultivators’, but it was still nowhere close to a Real Lake Realm’s. The reason he was able to hold on was because he was willing to consume one drop of Soul Cleansing Water every time he felt tired to wash away his fatigue.
Although his Divine Soul wasn’t as tough as a Real Lake Realm’s, he was able to replenish his mental strength with the Soul Cleansing Water. This was something no one in the entire Jiu Zhou could emulate.
“What a shame,” Yu Xiao said suddenly with a sigh. He was lamenting the fact that Lu Yi Ye wasn’t a disciple of the Heavenly Derivative Sect. Looking at the boy’s current talent in the Way of Wards, he was certain he could’ve carried their sect to greater heights. Forget Tier-five, he could’ve transformed them into a Tier-one sect if he continued growing at this pace!
Bai Qian knew exactly what Yu Xiao was thinking, but he shook his head and said, “You are wrong. If he was our disciple, our sect would’ve declined instead.”
It sounded disparaging, but it was just a statement of fact. Lu Ye had been poisoned less than an hour after he arrived at their Outpost. A couple of days after that, Thousand Demon Ridge had amassed an army of thousands and conquered their Outpost. Had Lu Ye been a disciple of the Heavenly Derivative Sect, he highly doubted they would be able to establish any footing on the Spirit Creek Battlefield. And if their disciples could not enter the Spirit Creek Battlefield, then their cultivation speed was going to suffer.
A single person could never make a sect strong.
“You’re right.” Yu Xiao quickly arrived at the same conclusion. “Now that I think about it, it’s a good thing that the Crimson Blood Sect is only Tier-nine, isn’t it?”
Their Outpost was located in the outermost ring of the Spirit Creek Battlefield because they were Tier-nine. As a result, it was very difficult for Thousand Demon Ridge to attack them. On the other hand, it was all too easy for Thousand Demon Ridge to gang up on the Heavenly Derivative Sect. They only needed three or four sect’s worth of forces to overrun their Outpost.
This was why Lu Ye did not have to worry about his Outpost being conquered no matter how much trouble he caused, not to mention that there was a ferocious bird guarding the place.
On a related note, Bai Qian had sent Zhao Li a short message, “Is he alive or dead?”
Although he was past the point where he thought that the boy was in real danger of dying, he could not help but worry anyway.
Zhao Li quickly responded, “He’s still alive, Great Elder. By the way, can I come to the Hundred Wards Tower? Brother Yi Ye is going to come out in another three floors. When that happens, everyone will know that he’s still alive, so I don’t think it matters if I reveal myself now.”
“Good point. You may come.”
“Thank you, Great Elder!” Zhao Li responded happily. It wasn’t long before he appeared in the valley.
The moment he showed up, all cultivators who did not know the truth were stunned by his appearance. It was because it was rumored that he and Lu Yi Ye of the Crimson Blood Sect had been poisoned to death by Thousand Demon Ridge. It was why the Crimson Blood Sect’s Keeper of Seal had gone on a rampage, and why they had lost so much face.
However, it was clear now that the rumor wasn’t quite accurate. After all, Zhao Li was clearly alive. What about Lu Yi Ye? Was he alive as well?
The smart ones immediately caught the scent of a conspiracy.
Zhao Li did not pay attention to them. After seeking out his acquaintances and inquiring a little about the situation, he sat down at a random spot and sent out a message. A group of people quickly gathered around him.
Before Lu Ye challenged the Hundred Wards Tower, he had spoken to Zhao Li about some of his plans. Assuming that everything went smoothly, they were going to execute those plans as soon as Lu Ye exited the tower. That was why he had made certain preparations beforehand. It would’ve been too late otherwise.
As for what those plans were, let’s just say that Zhao Li had been looking forward to it for a very long time.
He was in the middle of discussing with his companions when suddenly, the tower buzzed like it was struck by an earthquake. The next moment, an invisible energy swept across the whole valley.
“They cleared the thirty-first floor!” Someone cried.
The ward cultivators immediately stopped whatever they were doing and used the resonance to enlighten themselves.
Inside the Hundred Wards Tower, Lu Ye let out a long sigh of relief. Although his skill was many times better than what it was before he entered the tower, the tests on the thirty-first floor still gave him some trouble. They were so difficult that he only managed to complete five tests in nine hours.
He thought for sure that his reward would be less substantial this time, but he was wrong. In fact, the ball of light was slightly bigger than what he thought it would be.
As a result, Lu Ye wondered if the size of the reward was tied to his initial attainment when he first entered the tower. Had he remained exactly the way he was, there was no chance he would’ve been able to clear the tests on the twentieth floor, much less the thirty-first. But since he never stopped progressing, his performance far exceeded his former self’s capabilities. Assuming his theory was right, of course the tower had rewarded him handsomely.
It was very easy to verify this. All he needed to do was to not perform his best on the next floor.
The challenger only needed to clear the test one time to proceed to the next floor. It was believed that the more tests you cleared, the better the rewards would become. He would know if his theory was true if he cleared the test one time, but still received the same amount of rewards as before.
Lu Ye wasn’t going to do this though. The rewards weren’t the only way to improve one’s attainment in the Way of Wards. Overcoming the tests themselves was one such method. He did not think he would get many opportunities like this in the future, so he wasn’t going to waste it just to verify a theory.
Just like the previous floors, he was going to give it his all and leave no regrets behind.
Half a day later, he overcame the thirty-second floor and digested its reward. After washing away his fatigue using the Soul Cleansing Water, he was able to unlock another Spiritual Point before his time was up. Finally, he entered the thirty-third floor.
This was the final floor of the Heavenly Derivative Sect’s Hundred Wards Tower. There would be no more floors to conquer after this one. If he wished to continue his tower climb, he would have to wait until he ascended to Cloud River Realm and enter the Cloud River Battlefield.
Surprise rippled across Lu Ye when his vision cleared. It was because he saw a Grand Ward encompassing a large area in front of him!
The Grand Ward was more or less the same size as the one used by the Outposts in the Inner Circle, so it could not be easy to overcome. In fact, it was easily the biggest and most complex ward he had encountered since entering the Hundred Wards Tower.
Was it a coincidence, or did the tower read his inner desires and created it as his final challenge?
The entire reason he came to the Heavenly Derivative Sect was to learn how to breach a Grand Ward. Only then could he occupy his enemies’ Outposts and rob them of their Blessings.
This was as good a chance as any to verify his skills.
His time was limited, so Lu Ye spared only a bit of time to inspect the ward before throwing out his ward flags. He used them to determine the flow of the ward’s Spiritual Power and the rough location of the nodes before narrowing it down to the letter.
It was an enormous task. It took him an entire hour to confirm the location of the first node. After he confirmed that he had gotten it right using Insight, he moved onto the next node.
The first step was the hardest. Locating the second node only took a tea’s time after he confirmed the first node. He proceeded to identify the third node, the fourth node and more.
Over two hours later, he confirmed all the locations of the nodes. There were sixteen of them in total.
This meant that the ward was constructed using sixteen ward keystones. It was identical to the grand ward in the Crimson Blood Sect’s Outpost and the best grand ward one could buy from the Vault of Providence.
But although the grand wards were identical, they did not always share the same strength. The strength of a ward was usually determined by the concentration of the surrounding World Spiritual Qi. Generally speaking, the richer the World Spiritual Qi in the environment, the stronger the ward would become.
The grand ward in front of him was several times greater than the one at the Crimson Blood Sect, though it wasn’t because the World Spiritual Qi around him was richer. It was naturally stronger because the Hundred Wards Tower made it so.
Lu Ye hopped onto his flying Spirit Artifact and flew around the grand ward. He then nailed the ward flags into the nodes.
When all thirty two ward flags were in place, he came to a stop and grabbed the ward flag in front of him. Then, he sucked in a deep breath and channeled his Spiritual Power into it.
All thirty two ward flags floated into the air and glowed with Spiritual Light at the same time. They started connecting and resonating with each other.
As more Spiritual Power poured into the ward flag Lu Ye was holding, the invisible energy generated by the ward flags’ resonance began suppressing the grand ward’s circulation of Spiritual Power.
The Spiritual Power of a grand ward was constantly flowing. This was something Lu Ye had observed a long time ago. This was why a grand ward was capable of restoring itself and defending against all attacks.
To draw an analogy, a grand ward was like a flowing river. To breach it, Lu Ye had to cut the flow and turn it into a pool of dead water. Only by stopping the circulation of Spiritual Power completely would he have a shot at breaching a grand ward. Otherwise, the grand ward would continuously repair itself until it had run out of reserves, which was never going to happen in the Hundred Wards Tower.
Spiritual Power was draining out of Lu Ye’s body at a rapid rate. While he did not know if it was even possible to breach a grand ward with his own strength alone, this was, both, his final test and the proof that his plans weren’t just a pipe dream. Naturally, he was going to give it his all.