Chapter 165: The Fourth Trial (3)
The gigantic Golden Desert Silkworm was now towering over Lu Qingyun.
Yan’Er was crying panicky to Lu Qingyun, “Master! Yan’Er is so sorry. I didn’t know this monster is hiding in the sand!”
The unique ability of the Golden Desert Silkworm was its ability to conceal its desolate profound aura in the sands by bending itself completely with the terrain. Although Yan’Er could sense most desolate energies but she was up against a superior sixth rank desolate monster that had the ability to conceal its aura.
The gigantic Golden Desert Silkworm had suddenly attacked with its mouth four piercers and it was trying to use its formidable desolate aura to suppress Lu Qingyun at where he was to immobilize him.
Lu Qingyun was startled that he was not able to move. Or rather, his action speed seemed to have slow down considerably. Just as he was mustering all his profound strength to try to break free of the profound aura of the Golden Desert Silkworm, it had already made its attack on him.
There was a flash of white as Leng Qiuyue had flashed in front of Lu Qingyun and had used her sword to parry the piercers of the Golden Desert Silkworm. Her defense was not perfect as two of the piercers had pierced through her body.
Leng Qiuyue spurted out blood as she used her remaining profound strength to push Lu Qingyun out of the pit, causing Lu Qingyun to fly to where Ling Xiu and Qian Jingjing were.
“Qiuyue!” Lu Qingyun shouted panicky as he realized that Leng Qiuyue had sacrificed herself for his sake.
Leng Qiuyue smiled weakly and said tearfully, “Senior brother, I guess that your Junior Sister Qiuyue will not have the good fortune of getting to the fifth trial now. But I do not regret it…because…your life…is more important to me…”
She was not able to complete what she had wanted to say in her mind as the Golden Desert Silkworm had swallowed her up before disappearing into the sand pit.
Lu Qingyun cried out loud as he slammed his fists on the loose sands, “Qiuyue! It is all my fault. If it is not because of me, you will not die…”
He looked at the Golden Twig that was in his hand as he lamented loudly, “This is actually meant for you…I am so careless…why did you have to sacrifice yourself for my sake…”
“Your senior brother is so useless. I can’t even protect you…”
“Erm…” Qian Jingjing bent over to comfort him. “Brother Qingyun, you don’t have to be so sad, alright? This is only a simulation. You will be able to see her later after the trials are over.”
All of a sudden Lu Qingyun was blinking his eyes and was looking at her, “I’ve forgotten that this is only a simulation…”
Qian Jingjing, Ling Xiu: …
Lu Qingyun smiled weakly at them as he passed the Golden Twig to Qian Jingjing, “Here, take this. We need to find one more for Sister Ling Xiu.”
He inhaled a deep breath as he continued to stare at the sand pit that was below him. The simulation was so real and he had nearly lost his mind when Leng Qiuyue had suddenly ‘died’ in front of him.
Until now, he could not forget the tearful expression that was on Leng Qiuyue as she bade him an emotional farewell. It was so real like that he had actually forgotten that he was in a simulation. He could feel the throbbing of his heart and it was as though an arrow had just pierced through his heart.
He knew that he was in a simulation but at that emotion moment, he had so immersed into it that he had totally forgotten about it and had thought that Leng Qiuyue had really died in front of him.
Qian Jingjing and Ling Xiu were quietly looking at each other. They were both having the same thought, “Brother Qingyun has an emotional attachment to Leng Qiuyue and that is why he is so affected by her demise. What if I am the one that has died? Will he feels the same emotional attachment as me then?”
Above the trial imagery, Shen Yufeng was scanning with her divine sense on the multiple scenes that were taking place simultaneously below. When she saw the nimbleness of Leng Qiuyue and the extraordinary speed that she had displayed, she began to nod lightly and was smiling.
With a pleased look, she had turned to glance at Feng Xiaoxiao and Tang Xuefeng who were both returning a subtle pleased look to her at the same time.
Next to Shen Yufeng, Qin Keqin was heaving a soft sigh of relief that Lu Qingyun was not hurt in any way. Although the Golden Desert Silkworm was formidable but it rarely continued to pursue its preys once it had taken a victim. Moreover Lu Qingyun was not in the sand pit and it was too lazy to climb up of the loose sands.
Qin Keqin lowered her glances as she whispered, “Minyue, did you see that?”
“See what?” Feng Minyue asked.
“I’ve happened to take a peek. That Leng Qiuyue is really a sentimental maiden. So you have got a strong competitor and you are actually worried now, am I right?” Feng Minyue said nonchalantly.
Qin Keqin smiled weakly, “Maybe.”
“Don’t worry.” Feng Minyue yawned softly, “He only has you in his heart. This, I am quite sure.”
Qin Keqin said quietly, “Did you see how sad he was when Leng Qiuyue had ‘died’?”
Feng Minyue smiled, “I saw. But so what?”
There was a melancholy look in Qin Keqin’s eyes as she averted her eyes from Feng Minyue. After a while, she muttered to herself. “You won’t understand.”
There were incessant mutterings among the celestials as everyone was gossiping on the outcome of the trial and the happenings that they had just witnessed.
“That Lu Qingyun is really freaking lucky. If it is not for Leng Qiuyue, he would have been dead…”
“I just can’t believe that a first realm cultivator like him can actually make it so far into the trials. This is really unbelievable…”
“So the Heavens Ridge Villa only has one Lu Qingyun that is left? This is too pitiful…”
“Yu Tianjian had just attacked another cultivator and had taken away his Golden Twig…”
“He is smart. Instead of wasting his strength to search for the Golden Twigs, he was secretly following that deceased cultivator…”
“Gongsun Ya has just found a Golden Twig…”
“She is quite lucky to jump out of the sand pit just in time before the Golden Desert Silkworm has made an attack on her…”
“The Golden Desert Silkworm is only a fourth rank monster. If it is a much higher rank Golden Desert Silkworm, she won’t be so lucky.”
“It seems that all three of the celestial powerhouses have only one candidate left each. They are Yu Tianjian, Gongsun Ya and Qian Jingjing.”
“The Divine Nine Palace is a joke. They have actually lost all their candidates during the first trial…”
“How did the Clear Sky Pavilion manages to find three Golden Twigs in such a short amount of time?!”
“Did that Yue Lingling just finish off a fifth rank Golden Desert Silkworm?! Her sword art is too insane…”
Two hours had passed for the trial;
Lu Qingyun had now found another Golden Twig and he was saying to Ling Xiu, “Sister Ling Xiu, this is for you.”
Ling Xiu took the Golden Twig with utmost care as her bright eyes looked at Lu Qingyun, “Brother Qingyun, without your aid I will never be able to find it myself. I really don’t know how I should repay you for your kindness. I keep troubling you. Ling Xiu feels that it is so unfair to you. You must be feeling very tired now.”
Lu Qingyun smiled awkwardly, “You are half the sister to me. So naturally I should take care of you. Moreover, this is actually nothing to me. Look at me, do I look tired? I am still as fresh as ever.”
Ling Xiu nodded shyly as she averted her eyes, “Thank you for your kind words. I will never forget the kindness that you’ve displayed in the trials for me.”
When Qian Jingjing saw that Ling Xiu was pouring her heart out, she was really afraid that Lu Qingyun would be touched by Fairy Ling Xiu and may think that she was ungrateful so she quickly said with a flustered look, “Brother Qingyun, your Sister Jingjing will never forget your kindness too. I will repay your kindness one day.”
She was giggling suddenly, causing Lu Qingyun to look curiously at her. Qian Jingjing averted her eyes and said shyly, “Nothing.” It was because she had almost said she was willing to repay his kindness by being together with him. When she had thought of this, she had suddenly giggled because she was already thinking of the blissful family that they would be having.
Lu Qingyun: ???
Lu Qingyun scratched his head in his mind before he said, “We still have 1 more hour before the trial completion time. So we have better find a place to take shelter from the sun and also from the other cultivators.”
Qian Jingjing and Ling Xiu were nodding immediately. They were too weary of the hot blazing sun that was sapping their stamina, causing whatever profound strength that they had to falter.
Lu Qingyun quickly found a tall sand dune which could offer them a shade. Within this sand dune was two smaller sand dune and it looked like a perfect place to take shelter from the blazing sun.
As the maidens quickly fled into the shadows of the smaller sand dunes, he was stomping his feet around.
Ling Xiu asked curiously, “Brother Qingyun, what are you doing?”
Lu Qingyun smiled weakly, “I am just checking the ground for loose sands.”
It was more than that. He was actually checking the ground to see if it was firm. If it was loose, there may be Golden Desert Silkworms that were lurking underneath. After his first lesson with the Golden Desert Silkworm, he was more cautious now.
After checking that it was safe, he began to walk to the maidens.
As he walked to them, he called to Yan’Er in his inner cultivation sea. “Yan’Er, I need your help to be on your best vigilance against any intruders that may be approaching us.”
As he approached the maidens, Ling Xiu said quietly. “Brother Qingyun, why don’t you and Maiden Qian have some rest first? I will help to stand guard over the two of you.”
She knew that Lu Qingyun must have expended plenty of his profound strength by constantly using his divine sense while Qian Jingjing had not recovered from her earlier internal injuries.
Lu Qingyun smiled, “No need Sister Ling Xiu. You are weary as well. Please take a rest.”
Ling Xiu smiled weakly but her voice was firm, “Please let your useless sister does something for the two of you. We are a team after all. You will need all the rest that you can use till the next trial starts.”
Qian Jingjing looked at her quietly with a faint smile. She was actually quite touched by her kind gesture.
But Lu Qingyun returned a smile as he laughed softly, “I am really not tired at all. I am a man after all. I will go over there to stand watch.” With that he had walked to the other sand dune to keep a watchful guard. With Yan’Er probing the vicinity with her divine sense and with him keeping a visual lookout, he felt more secure for the safety of the two maidens.
Ling Xiu and Qian Jingjing were quietly watching Lu Qingyun as he stood quietly on the perimeter of the two sand dunes.
After some time, Qian Jingjing could not resist a whisper to Ling Xiu. “How long did you know him?”
Ling Xiu smiled, “For a few months only. This is actually the third time that we have met.”
“Oh?” Qian Jingjing was really curious. “He doesn’t look like the good-for-nothing cultivator as rumored.”
Ling Xiu nodded before she smiled with a fond expression, “He isn’t. The first time that I had met him was in the Misty Desolate Valley. At that time, my party had encountered a fifth rank Hundred Eyes Beast and we are in danger of being killed. But he had suddenly appeared and had vanquished it with a single sword stroke. That is how strong he is.”
Qian Jingjing was startled as she gasped softly, “Really?! That is a fifth rank desolate beast. How is it possible?!”
Ling Xiu smiled as she turned to look at Lu Qingyun intently, “Really. He had not only saved my life back then but also the lives of my brother and dozens of my clan protégés as well.”
Since then she could not forget about him. Even though they were in two different celestials clans and were almost impossible to meet again but she simply could not forget about him.
Qian Jingjing lowered her glances too, “He had also save me from a fifth rank Earth Elemental Golem during the second trial. He is really strong…”
She was smiling in silliness at herself, “Does it mean that it is actually unnecessary to aid him with the fifth rank Eight-Legged Duke Lion after all…”
Suddenly Qian Jingjing had a shy look as she asked Ling Xiu, “Do you think that Maiden Leng Qiuyue actually likes Brother Qingyun?”
Ling Xiu smiled weakly. She knew that Qian Jingjing was actually also asking if she likes Lu Qingyun. So she asked instead, “You like Brother Qingyun?”
Qian Jingjing had a flushed look as she quickly averted her eyes shyly, “I…I…don’t know!”
Ling Xiu shyly lowered her eyes as she said after her, “I don’t know either but I am sure Maiden Leng likes him. She had actually sacrificed herself to save Brother Qingyun earlier.”
Qian Jingjing nodded, “This, I’ve to agree with you.”
This time Ling Xiu took the courage to ask, “Do you think that Brother Qingyun will…like us?”
Qian Jingjing giggled shyly, “I…don’t know.”
Ling Xiu said quietly, “My father has five consorts. My brother Ling Chong is actually my half-brother.”
Qian Jingjing nodded with a smile, “My father has two consorts. It is common for the celestials to have many consorts because the higher the cultivation realm of the cultivator is, the harder it is for them to have children. So it is pretty normal for the celestials to have many consorts. Imagine all the heritance with no children to take over.”
“But there are also many celestials that have only one consort.” Ling Xiu said quietly.
Qian Jingjing chuckled softly, “Surely Brother Qingyun isn’t someone who is so dense, am I right?”
Ling Xiu looked away before she said quietly, “The way he looks at his master and Maiden Lie Xingyuan is quite different than when he is looking at us.”
“Huh? Maiden Lie Xingyuan? Who is she?” Qian Jingjing’s heart was throbbing fast as she asked panicky.
“She is his maidservant and personal attendant.” Ling Xiu smiled. “Have you not heard the rule of the Heavens Ridge Villa?”
Qian Jingjing inhaled deeply before she nodded slowly, “The personal attendant and the core protégé can have personal relationships with no questions asked. You mean that they are…”
Ling Xiu shook her head, “I don’t know. Just chitchatting.”
Qian Jingjing laughed softly, “I’m the one of the four great beauties in my area and you are one of the top beauties in New Empyrean City. Why do we have to worry about a mere personal attendant? Her status is below us for sure.”
Ling Xiu smiled, “She is also an astonishing beauty too.”
Qian Jingjing: …
As they chatted, the one hour was quickly up and there was a sudden bright light that enveloped them in a shimmering yellow glow.
All the cultivators that had a Golden Twig in their hands were enveloped with the shimmering yellow glow and they saw that they were all back at the floating platform now.
It took Lu Qingyun and the rest some time to adapt to their new surroundings.
“Where are we?”
“We are back here again?”
“We have cleared the fourth trial now…”
Shen Yufeng had appeared above the floating platform as she smiled gently, “Good. We have hundred and fifty of you that had passed the fourth trial. Almost three hundred cultivators have been eliminated from the fourth trial. But this is still way too many. It seems that the trials are actually too easy for the majority of you.”
Many of the cultivators were muttering almost incoherently…
“Therefore the fifth and the last trial will be the most interesting…”
Lu Qingyun was muttering as he smiled weakly at Qian Jingjing and Ling Xiu, “She is really humorous…”
Many of the cultivators that had survived the fourth trial were now at the brink of exhaustion. The hot blazing desert had drained most of their profound strength. Profound strength was equivalent to stamina for the cultivators. Without profound strength, they could not even muster their martial power to defend themselves and they needed all their available profound strength to overcome the upcoming trials.
The only two cultivators that were not affected were Lu Qingyun and Yue Lingling, who were still looking fresh.
Along the way, Lu Qingyun had thought that he had proven himself and that from now onward, no one would call him a good-for-nothing cultivator anymore.
But he did not know that the opposite had happened.
As a matter of fact, the speculators were now spreading ugly gossips about him;
“Look at that Lu Qingyun. He is still looking as fresh as ever…”
“That is because he is a cheater…”
“Along the way, he is being assisted by Leng Qiuyue, Qian Jingjing and Fairy Ling Xiu…”
“If it is not because of the three maidens, will he be able to overcome the trials?”
“He doesn’t even have any contribution to his team…”
“Even Leng Qiuyue had to give up her life for him to overcome the trial…”
“I hereby declare that I am looking down on that Lu Qingyun…”