Chapter 154: Three Two Hundred Fifties
This stage was testing one’s nature, which was the reason why they placed the natural enemies – rabbit and vegetables, on the same boat. Weasels were predators of rabbits as well, but evidently, the weasel’s cultivation level was much higher than the rest, and he seemed to know the rabbit for several years. It seemed like as long as one spiritual monster went missing from this boat, the entire boat of applicants would fail.
After the rabbit was given a scolding by the weasel, he no longer stared at the mushroom with sparkling eyes. However, because of this ruckus, all of the vegetables on the boat unconsciously held onto their buttocks and moved further away from the rabbit. Because of their favourable impression of his name earlier, everyone seemed to be moving closer towards Goudan, as though he was their leader.
“Rock spirit, don’t be afraid. If that rabbit comes over again, I… I will smash him to death!” The mushroom patted on his chest and guaranteed.
Zhu Yao’s expression darkened. Just which part of him did you see, that makes you think rabbits eat rocks as well?
The boat continued drifting for two days, before they could finally see the shore. That was a small island, and a lush forest was present on the island. A person was receiving them at the shore, and compared to the coldness of the staff member in charge of registration, this disciple who was receiving them was evidently much more enthusiastic, especially when he found out that not a single applicant was missing after clearing the boat.
“Fellow deities, congratulations on clearing the first trial. From here, as long as everyone makes past the forest at the front, and makes past the Divinity Leading Stairway, the second trial will be cleared.” He pointed towards the small pathway in the forest in front of them.
After taking a closer look, there was a small pathway made of stones within the forest, which stretched out into the depths of the forest with twists and turns. After Zhu Yao and the rest got down from the boat, they stepped into the pathway. This time, the rabbit and weasel was walking at the very front, Zhu Yao and Mushmush was in the middle, and Goudan was at the back, pulling the large group of vegetables.
Though, there wasn’t any branches or forks on their path. After walking for roughly an hour, suddenly, their field of vision opened up. The surrounding trees that were as tall as the sky disappeared, and they had arrived at a piece of grassland. At the very center of the grassland, there was a staircase directly leading towards the clouds. Most probably, that was the Divinity Leading Stairway which the person at the shore talked about. However, that flight of stairs was rather unique, as it was constructed by tiles of jade. There wasn’t any handrails by the side, and from afar, it looked like pieces of stone floors floating in the air in an orderly manner.
“It smells nice.” The carrot at the back suddenly said.
The garlic next to her nodded as well. “Yeah. There’s a very nice smell. It seems to be coming from the ground?”
“I smell it as well. There really is a fragrant smell.” The cabbage stepped forward, and looked towards the front.
Zhu Yao sniffed, but other than the smell of soil and plants, she could not smell anything fragrant from the air. However, the number of people who could smell the fragrance increased. The only ones who were as clueless as her, was Goudan and the two animal spirits. Even Mushmush had smelled that fragrance.
Zhu Yao faintly felt that something was amiss. Could it be that only vegetables could smell this fragrance?
“There’s something underneath the ground over there.” The peapod pointed to the piece of land under the divine staircase, as he anxiously walked over. With both his hands and legs, he pulled out some of the unexpectedly flourishing weeds from the surroundings, and was stunned. “This… This is!”
Everyone walked closer to take a look, only to see that the soil there was different from the rest. It was blood-red in colour, and as though it was alive, it shook about like ocean waves.
“It’s Living Soil, it’s definitely Living Soil.” The garlic said excitedly, and he jumped right into that ground with speaking another word. In an instant, he turned back into his true form – a greenish garlic, and in an instant, his garlic-body became even more crisp than before, as though he was absorbing a large amount of nutrition.
“It’s really Living Soil!” The little cabbage girl’s heart was stirred as well. Living Soil was the essence of world creation, a piece of land which the God of Creation used to create creatures. It was the perfect sacred ground in every vegetable’s heart. To spiritual monsters which were born and grown in soil, naturally, they were unable to resist the temptation of such grounds. “I want to live here as well.” Hence, she quickly turned into her original form as well, and planted herself in that red-coloured ground.
Zhu Yao faintly felt that the Living Soil here was a little strange. It was most likely set down by Advent Cloud Palace on purpose, but the vegetables at the side still unhesitatingly drilled themselves into it.
Even the heart of the peapod which had been calm the entire time was stirred as well. A green glow emitted from his body, as though he wanted to return to his original form. Zhu Yao could not help but remind him. “Peashooter… Ah no, peapod, are you guys really not planning to go to Advent Cloud Palace?”
The peapod blanked for a moment, and did not reply, instead, the garlic over there spoke up. “We have already found Living Soil, so why is there a need to go Advent Cloud Palace?”
Only then did the peapod immediately return to his original form, and plant himself in the red soil along with the rest of the vegetables.
It seemed like the crowd of vegetables was destined to be eliminated. Actually, this trial had the same concept as the trial before. The trial before was to test if the animals were able to suppress their natural instincts, while this trial was to test if the vegetables were able to resist the temptation from the Living Soil.
The nine-man team instantly lost four people just like that. Zhu Yao sighed. After all, each man has his own aspirations, and she could not forcefully pull them out as well. Hence, with the remaining people, she climbed the floating staircase.
Lowering her head, she looked towards the unmoving vegetables at the bottom. She wondered if it was her imagination, but although their original forms were becoming crispier, she could faintly feel that something was flowing out of their bodies.
“Master?” Zhu Yao transmitted her voice into her divine sense region. “That red piece of land over there, is it really Living Soil?”
“Mn.” Yu Yan gave an affirmative reply. “Living Soil can indeed help the growth of plants and vegetables, but it’s only limited to plants and vegetables as well.”
“Ah? You’re saying…”
“They had long turned into spirits, so they had already detached themselves from being mere plants. If they were to stay in the Living Soil for a long period of time, they would simply return to being regular vegetation.”
Return to being regular vegetation? In other words, they would once again return to being normal vegetables? “Then, should we remind them?”
“Yu Yao, when one departs on the path of cultivation, the one thing that should be shunned upon is an unstable Dao-heart. They do not have the hearts to cultivate in the ways of the Dao in the first place, hence the reason why they were tempted by the Living Soil and were willing to return to their original forms. Even if you forcefully pull them out today, as long as their former hearts do not waver, they will still once again return to this place in the future.”
“…” Zhu Yao once again glanced downwards, and sighed. Though, she was a little curious about the mushroom who did not have the slightest interest in the Living Soil. Could it be that due to his high cultivation level, he had already suppressed his natural instincts? “Mushmush, why didn’t you stay with them?”
The mushroom tilted his head, and glanced downwards with a disgusted look. “It’s such a dirty place, why would I want to live there? How can that place be better than my home? The soil there is both tender and soft, and there’s even a huge tree sheltering it.”
Alright, he was a home-lover.
“Rock spirit, be at ease. Once you have completed your task, we will head back. I can let you stay at my home as well.” The mushroom patted his chest with a justified look. “I won’t despise you.”
“You can’t be talking about that crater, right?” She despised it, you know?
“That’s right!” The mushroom said with a serious expression. “It can’t be that you have forgotten about it, right? We slept there together before.”
“Who slept with you before?” Elaborate clearly, hey. Others will misunderstand, you know.
“Boss, you, you two…” As expected, Goudan, who had been quietly listening at the side, switched his gaze between the two of them back and forth, his expression was filled with shock. A moment later, as though he had accepted reality, with a respectful look, he bowed towards the mushroom, and called out in a well-disciplined manner. “Brother-in-law!”
The hell! Zhu Yao instantly kicked Goudan off the stairs. “Brother-in-law, your sister.” What are you randomly blurting out for?
Master, let me explain. Stop emitting out a cold aura in the divine sense region, I’m about to freeze to death.
The Divinity Leading Stairway was unexpectedly long. Zhu Yao faintly sensed that the stairs above were filled with divine energy, and the higher she climbed, the denser the divine energy. After climbing about five hundred steps, a heavy fog suddenly arose. The fog was especially thick, and even the rabbit and weasel which was a single step in front of them could no longer be seen.
It seemed like on this flight of stairs, not only were they testing divine energy, it was a trial of formations as well. That formation was just a regular bewildering formation, and was not extremely unique. People with slight knowledge of formations could easily see through it. However, spiritual monsters were not knowledgeable of them.
Mushmush and Goudan were already drenched in sweat, and it was extremely difficult for them to take each subsequent step. Thus, Zhu Yao could only stop every now and then to wait for them, and she had to prevent them from getting lost in those bewildering formations as well.
Looking at the formations on this flight of stairs, there shouldn’t be an end to this Divinity Leading Stairway. The higher it was, the denser the divine energy, and the pressure would be even heavier as well. However, it was very simple to exit the formation. One just had to step out of the staircase. What Zhu Yao was concerned and unsure about, was which level they had to reach to be a considered a passing grade. Hence, she had no choice but to pull Mushmush and Goudan along, and have them climb as much as possible.
After reaching the two hundredth level, Mushmush and Goudan could no longer withstand the pressure, and they collapsed on the stairs, panting heavily. Zhu Yao had no choice but to have them meditate and take in divine energy while recovering their vitality. Once they regained their strength, they continued to climb.
Thus, they continued to walk and stop like this as they progressed. Zhu Yao did not know how many days had passed, and she had even lost count of the number of steps they climbed. Though, from the time spent cultivating with these two people, she felt that her own cultivation had been raised to another stage as well. From an early stage Profound Deity, she rose to the cultivation level of an intermediate stage Profound Deity.
Mushmush and Goudan finally reached their limits, and could no longer take another step. Hence, they had no choice but to step out of the staircase together.
The scenery in front of them changed, and the thick fog instantly dispersed. A celestial sky and flourishing land appeared in front of their eyes. Floating pagodas filled the sky, and every single one of them was made of gold bricks and jade tiles, dazzling and blinding to the eyes. And those pagodas, other than the largest one at the center, were all floating in the surroundings. Occasionally, they would change their positions, as though they were moved by formations. At the bottom, there was a sea of clouds formed by layers of rainbow-coloured auspicious clouds.
This was true heaven.
Zhu Yao silently lit a candle for Lightning Divine Palace. She could not help but transmit her voice and ask. “Master, our Lightning Divine Palace is actually really poor, right?”
Yu Yan: “…”
“You people have passed.” This time, the one who received them in the sky was a late stage Earth Deity. He looked at the three people with a satisfied glance. Initially, they simply had to climb two hundred levels to pass. It was rare to see spirits which would climb fifty more levels. “Congratulations. You have climbed a total of two hundred and fifty divine levels, the highest achievement out of everyone here.”
Even the weasel, which had arrived ahead of them, glanced over and said in envy. “I have only climbed two hundred and thirty-six levels, while you guys have actually climbed two hundred fifty. Incredible.”
The corner of Zhu Yao’s lips twitched. Why did she feel that this number was a little strange?
Though, Goudan, with a complacent and excited look, just had to add in from the side. “Boss, did you hear? We’re two hundred fifty.1 The three of us are two hundred fifties.”
Raising her hand, Zhu Yao gave him a ruthless slap to the head. You’re two hundred fifty. Your entire family is made of two hundred fifties.
- Two Hundred Fifty(二百五) is actually an insult meaning “stupid person” or “simpleton”.