Aerial Rain
Translating Web Novel

THDP Ch 157 Part 2 – Who Is Your Most Trusted Person? (II)

Remembering this caused Xue Zichen to become so frustrated that she stamped her foot once more. She had her pride and couldn’t help but secretly compare herself to Meng Qi. Her father had informed her early about this trip to Ten Absolutes Mountain and thus she had prepared extensively. She believed she would perform better than most, perhaps even outshine her elder brother, and once again become the brilliant darling of heaven, the most cherished jewel of the Xue clan. 

Of course, she would also leave Meng Qi far behind! After all, she was the young lady from the number one medical sect of the Three Thousand Worlds, and what she had learned and seen from childhood was something Meng Qi couldn’t compare to. In her eyes, Meng Qi had only won once by a fluke and good luck.

Xue Zichen believed that as long as they were given a truly fair competition environment, she would definitely not lose to Meng Qi. Thus, she worked extremely hard in the first three challenges, convinced she had spent less time on them than Meng Qi had.

Even when, during the second challenge, her brother helped Meng Qi under the instruction of their family elders by providing her with the Xue clan’s medical compendium, Xue Zichen still believed she could not lose. Meng Qi, who came from a sect so small she had never even heard of, couldn’t possibly defeat her when it came to a fair competition of true ability.

But now…

Xue Zichen looked at her silent brother, then at the six figures in the sky. Apart from Meng Qi, the others were genius talents from major sects, well-known in their own right.

But this Meng Qi!

Why is it Meng Qi again?!

Xue Zichen stomped her foot again in frustration. How could Meng Qi always be so lucky, always managing to be involved? What did Meng Qi do this time?! Even though she, Xue Zichen, had finished the challenges much faster… even faster than Li Che!

Looking around, Xue Zichen found it clear that among all the medical cultivators here, only her brother had finished faster than her. “Brother!” Xue Zichen stomped her foot again and grabbed her brother’s arm, “Why won’t you speak? What exactly happened?”

Xue Chengxuan shook his head, saying, “I’m not sure yet, but maybe…” He hesitated for a moment, then strode toward Pei Mufeng.

Xue Zichen looked around and quickly followed him.

“Pavilion Master Pei.” Xue Chengxuan politely cupped his hands at Pei Mufeng.

“Fellow Daoist Xue.” Pei Mufeng returned the greeting.

“I have a question I’d like to ask Pavilion Master Pei, if I may…”

Before he could finish, Pei Mufeng said, “I didn’t skip any tasks and completed them all.”

“Sure enough.” Xue Chengxuan nodded.

“Brother.” Xue Zichen looked at Pei Mufeng and then back at her brother, a bit confused, “Are you saying…”

“Hmph—” A young man’s cold snort came from behind Xue Zichen. “What they mean is, in the third stage we just experienced, they didn’t skip any tasks; they completed every single one.”

“What?!” Xue Zichen was startled and quickly turned around. Behind her, two young men in black robes stood side by side — it was Chu Tianfeng who had spoken. Beside them was Sikong Xing, looking visibly upset.

“It seems Brother Qin did the same,” Xue Chengxuan said with a slight smile, looking at the taciturn man next to Chu Tianfeng.

“Big brother, you too?!” Xue Zichen looked incredulously at her own brother, “But you…” She opened her mouth, suddenly at a loss for words. Her eyes, as bright and beautiful as black pearls, widened in disbelief. 

Xue Zichen had always believed that her talent was not inferior to her elder brother’s. She even secretly compared their progress, proud of the fact that she reached the third rank of medical cultivation faster than Xue Chengxuan. Being naturally ambitious, she had often pondered what would happen if she had been the firstborn instead of her brother. Would her father and elders place the same level of expectations on her? Would she be their choice to succeed as the future clan head?

But now…

Xue Zichen thought she was very fast in the third challenge. Just like Li Che, she had chosen only the simplest of the last three hardest options. From the earlier huts, she quickly deduced that she only needed to heal one to skip the one opposite in the same row. She had also quietly observed the time when her brother finished his challenge and returned, believing he must have done the same since he was only an hour quicker than her. But it turns out…

Xue Zichen gasped—no one actually asked her what had happened, but her face still quietly heated up.

It turned out her brother didn’t skip a single patient, nor did he skip any of the last three toughest tasks?! And yet, he was still an hour faster than her.

She… still has a long way to go.

Her elder brother is truly impressive!

And then there’s Meng Qi…

With this new realization, Xue Zichen looked up at the figures in the sky. Turns out Meng Qi was also so capable, only slightly slower than her. Had she not skipped any of the challenges like Meng Qi and her brother, she probably wouldn’t have been able to return by now; or perhaps, she still wouldn’t have even reached the last three huts.

She…

Xue Zichen pursed her lips, her hands quietly clenched at her sides. She would strive harder! Even if she lost slightly to her brother, she absolutely, absolutely did not want to lose to Meng Qi, who comes from an inferior sect, inferior in everything. She would definitely become stronger and more formidable!

There was a calmness in the sky for some time, and the reflection of the six figures remained still. Speculations arose one after another across the grassland, but they eventually converged into one conclusion: “Damn it! Ever since the last time with the Drunken Dragon Grass and we were instigated to kill each other, I felt something was very off about this place. Sure enough! We’ve been tricked again!”

“Could it be they had told us a lie from the beginning? We were told that our initial positions when we began climbing the Ten Absolutes Mountain would be determined by how fast we finished the challenges. But what if it was all part of a trap?”

“Is it really a lie? If it weren’t for that tip, I wouldn’t have realized it was possible to skip half of the tasks and smugly race ahead.”

“Right, can anyone come out and explain what exactly is going on?”

“I say we shouldn’t rush things. Seeing how this treacherous place has worked so far, being selected might not be a good thing.”

“Seconded! Those who stick out might as well consider themselves a target.”

“Right. Whoever controls this Ten Absolutes Mountain probably did this on purpose. The six people have their faces displayed so prominently, and we all know who they are. Once it’s confirmed that they were granted certain advantages in the upcoming climb… tsk tsk.”

“Makes sense. Instead of directly giving out rewards, they deliberately make a grand spectacle out of it. What else if it’s not malicious? By doing this, we all know who took the lead from the three challenges. They are practically walking targets now!”

“Exactly, so it might not be a good thing after all.”

The cultivators busily voiced out their speculations. Initially, everyone felt annoyed upon realizing they’d been deceived again. But as the six figures hung in the sky, clearly visible to all, and seeing that neither Pei Mufeng nor Xue Chengxuan who had already returned seemed to receive any benefits, their attitudes began to shift.

Some even felt a schadenfreude. The Ten Absolutes Mountain was a place where, to put it nicely, no one knew what happened there after leaving — in other words, there were no rules or morality to bind anyone. Xue Chengxuan and Meng Qi had just saved everyone, so they had stood up for Meng Qi and firmly sided with her during her dispute with Lu Qingran, but everything changed once real interests were involved. For these people, the interests of their sect and their own cultivation were what mattered most.

Some were already thinking:

—I have no intention of initiating an attack against the two, but the others, there’s always a chance to deal with them, right?

——If someone really goes all out, ignoring the life-saving debt and wants to deal with them completely, it’s okay for us to just remain bystander, right?

As time passed, the atmosphere on the grassland became heavier and more sinister. Many cultivators stopped talking and gathered in small groups within the same sect or friends, occasionally glancing in Pei Mufeng and Xue Chengxuan’s directions.

The place suddenly became more eerie.

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