Protector Hua gently consoled his disciple: “You did well, there is no need to force what isn’t meant to be.”
Yu He approvingly nodded his head: “To be able to enter the seventh level at this age is a very commendable feat within the younger generation.”
Xu Hui gathered his wits, took a deep breath, and coldly stared at Li Qiye: “Your turn! It's not too late to give up.”
Then, Xu Hui spread out his legs and showed a shady smile: “If you do it now, I won’t make things hard for you later on. If you wait until after you have failed the test, then it would be difficult to predict what your fate will be.”
Li Qiye ignored the taunts and entered the Chaotic Heart Forest step by step.
In front of him was a sea of fire. It was a world filled with lava and fiery crackles. Inside this illusion, his feet were burnt to a crisp. No one could imagine how much pain he was feeling, but Li Qiye just strutted on without muttering a single groan.
Li Qiye did not mind the Chaotic Heart Forest. During the Desolate Era, he spent his time being tortured while his soul was severed from his body. He had suffered at the hands of heavenly demons and trapped by the Ancient Ming. He spent what felt like an eternity without sunlight and underwent many torturous ordeals. Although the body of the Dark Crow was immortal, pain could still be felt.
One million years passed. He traveled through all of the Forbidden Burials, spent time in the land of immortals, and fell into the realm of ghosts and devils — these were the most dangerous places in this world. Compared to those places, the Chaotic Heart Forest was nothing more than a short stroll. It couldn’t break his willpower.
In the blink of an eye, he had passed the first level. In the illusion, the sea of fire disappeared. Li Qiye was now in a frozen world, surrounded by the icy cold gales of a tundra.
Outside of the forest, countless disciples were waiting for Li Qiye to be kicked out. Protector Mo and Nan Huairen still had their gazes turned away as they were unwilling to see Li Qiye being humiliated. However, as moments passed, a silence encroached the surroundings. One could hear the drop of a needle from a mile away. Surprised by the lack of jeers and cheers from Li Qiye's failure, the two turned their heads around. What entered their sight was an unimaginable scene.
A disciple softly whimpered in shock: “Level… level… level eight…”
“Level nine, ten, eleven…”
Li Qiye paraded through the levels as if he was walking in an empty street. His speed remained as swift as it was during the first level.
“Level… level… fourteen…”
In the end, Li Qiye went straight through the Chaotic Heart Forest with full confidence, and he leisurely stepped out of the last level.
Everyone was now frozen. Passing through the fourteen levels of the Chaotic Heart Forest — this was an impossible feat. From the ancient past until now, none from the younger generation of the Nine Saint Demon Gate had ever accomplished it. Even Li Shuangyan, who had the highest aptitude and most fortified willpower, couldn’t accomplish such a feat.
“This is impossible… simply impossible! This cannot be!” Xu Hui fell deep into confusion, but this was the reality that laid before his eyes.
Protector Hua had his mouth wide open as well. He couldn’t close it due to his bewilderment.
Even the sect master could not pass the fourteenth level of the Chaotic Heart Forest. What kind of willpower was this?
Li Qiye came back and casually spoke: “Eh, this is only the appetizer.” It was as if he had just taken a walk in the comfort of his own garden.
Li Qiye glanced at Xu Hui and casually declared: “Okay, kneel and start crawling!”
Xu Hui loudly howled: “No… No, this cannot be happening!” It wasn't only him, everyone else here also found themselves in disbelief.
Protector Hua wondered: “Was there something wrong with the Chaotic Heart Forest?”
“Surely, surely that is the case. Maybe the prohibiting spells of the forest have lost their power.” It was as if Xu Hui was trying to find a tree branch while drowning. He quickly added: “It doesn’t count, the Chaotic Heart Forest has lost its effect.”
“There is no chance it has lost its power.” A while later, Grand Protector Yu He gathered his thoughts, shook his head, and continued: “From the creation of the sect, the forest has never been ineffective. I will go and check.”
Finished with his words, he personally entered the Chaotic Heart Forest.
Yu He was indeed formidable and befitting his Grand Protector status. His willpower was substantial, he easily made it through the first nine levels. After reaching the tenth level, his speed decreased.
A loud noise roared through the air. Yu He could not pass all the levels of the forest. He was kicked out before reaching the eleventh level.
“The Chaotic Heart Forest did not lose its power.” Yu He stated this with complete confidence. He stared at Li Qiye with curious eyes, not understanding the event that had transpired.
Li Qiye, who was only thirteen years old, was capable of finishing the Chaotic Heart Forest? Unless there was a mysterious force at work here, his cultivation willpower was immutable. However, a mere thirteen-year-old boy could not possibly have this level of willpower. It required centuries and millenniums to have such a mind. Although he had a mortal body and inferior innate talents, it would only be a matter of time before he became a Virtuous Paragon through sheer willpower.
Protector Hua inquired: “You, are you carrying a sacred treasure?”
Xu Hui raises his voice: “That has to be the case. The Cleansing Incense Ancient Sect is an Immortal Emperor level sect, maybe he is hiding an Immortal Emperor sacred treasure.”
This was indeed the most logical explanation. Right now, everyone was thinking that this was the case. Ultimately, even though the sect was now weak, it was not unreasonable to think that one or two Immortal Emperor sacred treasures were left behind. If he used just one of them, then he could indeed pass the Chaotic Heart Forest unharmed.
Protector Hua boldly proclaimed: “Using a sacred treasure to cheat, this bet does not count!”
He was sure that Li Qiye had committed foul play.
“Protector Hua, that is unfair.” Protector Mo had no time to think about how Li Qiye passed the trial. He gravely said: “This is a test designed by your sect. You cannot lose and then relinquish the test.”
Protector Hua replied: “If you use a treasure to cheat, then of course it won't count.”
Taking Li Qiye’s side, Protector Mo continued: “It does not matter whether he used external tools or not. Your sect did not declare that he could not use treasures to pass the test. Our disciple has gone through the forest, this round is ours.”
Protector Mo did not want to waste time, so he turned to Yu he and asked: “Protector Yu, did the Cleansing Incense Ancient Sect win this round or not?”
“About this matter…” Yu He could not decide. He did not believe that Li Qiye had actually passed the forest without external help. However, the Nine Saint Demon Gate also did not state the rule that one couldn’t use sacred treasures.
“I walk my route straight and sit tall; my heart has no shameful secrets to the heavens. Unlike the people of the Nine Saint Demon Gate, betting and losing and then being unable to accept the loss. If you think I am hiding a treasure, then try and find it. If you can find it, then I will give it to you.”
Yu He contemplated for a moment, lifted his head, and then spoke to Li Qiye: “If you want to prove your innocence, we have a solution. The great ancestor left behind a treasure named the Immortal Bone Mirror; it can see through all hidden objects. If you are willing to let us use it, then we can tell whether you bear a treasure or not.”
“I agree to the usage of the Immortal Bone Mirror.” Protector Hua was the first to speak: “If the mirror cannot find anything, then it will mean that he did not carry a hidden treasure.”
The disciples banded together and roared: “Yes! If you don’t want to, then it means that you cheated.”
“I pity you lot.” Li Qiye stared at them and agreed: “I will allow the mirror test. Bring it out.”
Yu He sent people to grab the mirror. This mirror had a deep history; it was said that its heritage dated back to the Desolate Era and that it had been honed by an Immortal Emperor. The Immortal Bone Mirror was much stronger than the mirror that was used by the Cleansing Incense Ancient Sect to test new disciples.