There was complete silence at the foot of the Nine Heavens Peak.
Ye Yuan had already stood at the fifth step for four hours, while he only used a total of two hours to clear the first 333 steps!
The students looked at that figure halfway up the mountain. From the initial shock to excitement, then to dejection, and all the way until the current sighs of regret and pity.
The fever fell from the highest point down to the freezing point.
Ye Yuan's rushing style involuntarily gave everyone a feeling of a strong beginning but a weak ending.
The first stage was too quick, but the second stage was a failure right at the start. The difference between before and after was too great.
At this point, nobody thought that Ye Yuan could make it anymore. Their confidence gradually faded along with the passing of time.
Standing for four hours on one step. There were still 328 steps behind!
How would he pass?
"Humph! Playing tricks! He must have used some trickery to gain advantage previously. That's why it went so smoothly!" Su Yubai snorted coldly.
"Based on past experiences, the second stage of the Nine Heavens Road could very well be an eternal illusionary realm. And the derivative of this illusionary realm would become increasingly terrifying along with the increase in steps. Finally, it would leave people unable to extricate themselves. Ye Yuan already sunk in so deeply at the fifth step, I'm afraid it's hopeless to save the situation." Zhang Songtao also made a rare remark at this time.
Hu Changsheng looked at Ye Yuan with a grave expression.
How could he not know what Zhang Songtao said? After so many years of fumbling about, even though the specific situations inside the Nine Heavens Road could not be confirmed, they were still able to conjecture many things according to the students' performance.
Without a doubt, this second stage's content was the easiest to confirm.
Because almost all the students who survived this round became insane. Clearly, they lost their minds inside the illusionary realm.
And in this second stage, the earlier one fell for the illusionary realm, the more dangerous it became.
This illusionary realm was able to continuously develop as it derived non-stop. The further it went, the more realistic it became, and the more they would not be able to extricate themselves.
Basically, those who got trapped so early like Ye Yuan had virtually no possibility of escaping the illusionary realm.
"A pity. A pinnacle genius who could have been extraordinarily splendors actually plummeted here."
"Ye Yuan might be a genius, but somebody like him was destined to not walk far. Because he failed to show restraint."
"Yeah. Too tough, and it's easily broken. Ye Yuan doesn't know how to tolerate, that's why he challenged the academy's rules, which resulted to his end. To him, Lin Tiancheng was doomed to be a minor character. There would have been thousands of ways to mess him to death. Why did he have to be impulsive?"
"Disperse then. Let's go. It's already hopeless for Ye Yuan. It's impossible for him to wake up."
Quite a few people already lost their patience and faith and left in groups.
. . . . . .
In the illusionary realm, Ye Yuan saw Ji Canglan once again!
"Haha. You finally exited seclusion, Junior Apprentice Brother. This brother waited for a long time! There are more and more guests these few days; I already can't handle it anymore. If you don't come out, I would have gone to Master and washed my hands off this matter." Seeing Ye Yuan, Ji Canglan laughed.
Ye Yuan's emotions were somewhat chaotic. Seeing this great enemy again, Ye Yuan was unable to keep a calm state of mind even though this was inside an illusionary realm.
Ye Yuan had methods to break apart the illusionary realm. However, he did not do so.
He did not wish to alter the direction the illusionary realm was heading to and fight to the death with Ji Canglan. Because that was meaningless.
He wanted to make use of this illusionary realm to advance his heart realm!
Heart realm was something fleeting and abstruse and looked like it was completely useless towards cultivation. Very few martial artists placed their thoughts on it as well.
However, Ye Yuan knew that heart realm was extremely useful towards a martial artist's future cultivation road. It even determined to a certain extent the martial artist's potential and limit!
To martial artists, heart realm was something akin to adding wings to a tiger!
If two martial artists with the exact same cultivation strength were to battle it out, the final victor would definitely be the one with the higher heart realm!
To Ye Yuan, even the slightest increase in strength was extremely valuable.
"My apologies. I've let Senior Apprentice Brother wait for too long," Ye Yuan forcefully suppressed the killing intent inside him and apologized.
"Since when have us brothers been so distant? Brother is only joking with you. Don't take it to heart, Junior Apprentice Brother. I know that Junior Apprentice Brother is pursuing the great Alchemy Dao and doesn't like to be distracted by mundane matters. I will do my best to take on what I can handle. Except, the assembly this time around is crucial to our Medicine King Hall. So I have no other options but to invite Junior Apprentice Brother out."
Ji Canglan was filled with sincerity without the slightest bit of hypocrisy. Nobody could have seen through his wild ambitions.
Ye Yuan also smiled and said, "I'll naturally help Senior Apprentice Brother share the burden."
The following few days, Ye Yuan followed Ji Canglan and began to busy themselves with the various matters of the Pill Appreciation Grand Assembly.
Even if these things were what he hated the most in the past, Ye Yuan still did them conscientiously, as if he was wholly immersed in the illusionary realm and substituted himself inside.
In the first place, it was himself. This posed no challenge at all to Ye Yuan.
The Pill Appreciation Grand Assembly went according to the planned routine. Then Ji Canglan finally revealed his fangs.
Due to the fact that they drank a poison during the Pill Appreciation Grand Assembly which made people temporarily lose their abilities, Ji Zhengyang and Ji Qingyun were already currently lambs awaiting slaughter.
"Master, don't blame this disciple for being heartless. This disciple also can't help it." Ji Canglan pointed the sword in his hand at Ji Zhengyang.
Ji Zhengyang's heart was akin to dead ashes. He shut his eyes and said, "Now that things have come to this, no point talking anymore. I only wish that you can spare Yun-er's life."
Hearing that, Ji Canglan smiled sinisterly. "My apologies, Respectable Master, I'm afraid I can't satisfy this dying wish of yours. If the roots of the weeds aren't removed, they will grow again come spring. I don't want to leave behind an enemy with such potential. Junior Apprentice Brother Yun's talent is astonishing. As long as he's given a chance, he will probably have the strength to threaten me after several decades."
Finishing, Ji Canglan swung his longsword. A gleam of sword light shot directly towards Ye Yuan.
At this time, Ji Zhengyang's body suddenly moved. He blocked this sword light for Ye Yuan!
Without essence energy to protect his body, Ji Zhengyang's body was instantaneously pulverized by the sword light!
At the same time, the might of Ji Zhengyang's divine soul abruptly erupted and swept towards Ji Canglan!
Seeing the situation, Ji Canglan howled, "You miserable old fool! You actually ignited your divine soul?! Do you want your soul to dissipate?!"
A violent clash. Ji Zhengyang's divine soul crumbled away, while Ji Canglang also vomited a large mouthful of blood. Clearly, he had also sustained injuries that were not minor.
Ye Yuan looked on at this scene coldly and did not become agitated nor was he indignant. There was not even any trace of emotion.
Having experienced once again this scene, which was engraved into his bones and heart, it was equivalent to prying open the scars in his heart. This sort of spiritual pain was something that the average person could not feel.
Yet, when the illusionary realm reached this moment, it was also incredibly dangerous! If he could not make it through, Ye Yuan would no longer exist after today!
Ji Canglan held the sword as he clutched his chest and walked towards Ye Yuan step by step.
"Don't blame Senior Apprentice Brother, Junior Yun. I also can't help it myself. Take care along the way," Ji Canglan said as he was walking.
Ye Yuan looked at Ji Canglan and suddenly gave a light smile.
Ye Yuan crossed his legs to sit and shut his eyes as if he totally gave up resisting.
However, as Ji Canglan's approached, the aura on Ye Yuan's body gradually became fleeting; until towards the end, his aura could not be sensed at all, as if he had died.
With a slash, the entire world gradually became dim.
Fainter and hazier . . .
Finally, it vanished . . .
. . . . . .
Ye Yuan slowly opened his eyes and felt the real world, muttering to himself, "Is this Heart Like Still Water?"