AIP - Chapter 85: Celestial Execution Hall
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Now that Tang Jie knew where the problem was, his confidence in the Martial Lord's mantra was restored. As he had nothing else to do, he decided to visit the other halls.
As he expected, Celestial Flash Hall was for training in evasion. The moment he entered the hall, he saw countless locusts flying toward him. Students were not permitted to use any kind of defensive spell and had to rely on moving and blocking to avoid the attacks. Those locusts didn't hurt when they hit. They just left behind a mark, and then the jade token would flash to record it.
Once the time limit ran out, the grade would be determined based on the number of hits received.
Tang Jie had yet to gain proficiency in the Violet Lightning Lunge, so the moment he went in, he was made into a punching bag, the jade token flashing so much that it was like a light bulb. His grade was naturally unspeakably awful.
Celestial Pearl Hall tested endurance. Upon entry, Tang Jie discovered that he was in the middle of a battlefield. In front of him were countless charging soldiers, and behind him, soldiers on his own side were charging up. Those soldiers were truly endless, and when one batch died, another would charge up. There was no end to it, and Tang Jie fought until he was so exhausted that he couldn't raise his arms. Only then did he realize that in these battles involving endless waves of soldiers, even the most divine and powerful spell arts were fake. Only a neverending combat strength could sustain him.
After leaving Celestial Pearl Hall, Tang Jie rested for a bit, then he went to Celestial Variation Hall. Before entering Celestial Variation Hall, he could take a few illusion talismans. These illusion talismans recorded various spells that could serve to make up for the abilities the students lacked in their current stage.
Upon entering the hall, they would battle in spells with illusory Spirit Masters. All kinds of spells would be used, which the students could not possibly block at their current stage. All they could do was use the spell talismans they had on hand to respond. Before they ran out of spell talismans, they had to either defeat their opponents or last long enough.
This hall trained a student's understanding and choice of spells. When facing potential kinds of dangers, choosing the right spell was at times better than just using a strong spell. At the same time, this would also help students by having them personally experience the practicality of various spells.
This was the easiest hall Tang Jie went through. As he was a top student in culture studies, he had developed some understanding of various spells. Though it couldn't be described as mastery, he would at least be able to choose countermeasures that were somewhat reasonable.
Even so, he got only thirty-two points. The spell arts got stronger and stronger, more and more difficult to deal with, and some of the spell arts seemed to even be different in nature from their form. There were also spell arts that were cast with incredible speed, and you needed to guess at what sort of spell the opponent was using from the formula they were making at the first instant to choose the proper response.
Celestial Pivot Hall tested agility. Inside were Spirit Master illusions who would fight with you, but unlike the Spirit Masters of Celestial Variation Hall, what mattered here was how fast you cast your spells, which were extremely weak. It was often the case that a student would have barely made a formula when a barrage of spells descended upon them, at times even preventing them from performing art manifestation.
It was quite normal for unlucky students to be incapable of casting even a single spell for some time.
There were all kinds of hindrances.
Tang Jie was in a somewhat better state. While he hadn't practiced the Aquagel Shroud to the point where he could cast it instinctively, he was getting extremely close to being able to instantly cast it, so defending against attacks wasn't a problem. The problem was that he hadn't reached that level of speed with the Energy Needle.
Those illusory Spirit Masters sent out one spell after another while Tang Jie had yet to cast a single Energy Needle. His Aquagel Shroud blocked it all, turning Celestial Pivot Hall into Celestial Defense Hall. In the end, he was forced out of the hall by a unified salvo from the illusions.
After getting badly beaten at Celestial Pivot Hall, Tang Jie headed off for Celestial Simulation Hall.
Celestial Simulation Hall was a comprehensive training ground. Normally, when students entered, they would be transported into a dangerous forest and would encounter all sorts of dangerous and bizarre things. At times, they would be chased down and be forced to flee, and sometimes, it was the other way around, where the student became the hunter. There were also times when special fiends would appear, including fiend foxes that could tempt people, savage and brutal bears, or swift and nimble tree apes. There were even times when a student would receive bizarre search missions. The requirements would change every time, and the situations would often be poles apart. It could be considered the most complicated of the halls, and the one which tested the most attributes.
Tang Jie's overall ability and judgment were extremely strong, so his grade in this hall wasn't bad.
After Celestial Simulation Hall, Tang Jie headed for Celestial Execution Hall.
Celestial Execution Hall tested the offensive power of a student, but unusually, Celestial Execution Hall produced an illusory city of common folk and told the students that these people were all illusions created by vicious ghosts. The students were to kill them, with the person with the greatest number of kills coming out the victor.
But Tang Jie really couldn't see how these people were vicious ghosts. When he raised his sword to kill the first civilian, the civilian made no attempt to counter, and the blood splashing on his body still felt warm.
Tang Jie was truly dumbfounded. He almost wondered if these illusions were real. He saw the civilians scattering in fear, some people even getting on their knees and begging for their lives. Tang Jie couldn't bring himself to strike at them.
He stopped attacking.
In the end, this hall was the one that Tang Jie scored the worst in.
When he came out, Tang Jie was somewhat absentminded.
He didn't understand why Basking Moon Academy would do such a thing.
Didn't they often emphasize that people should act properly and that they didn't support senseless slaughter?
Why would they have students experience this sort of madness?
Was this the Celestial Execution Hall that trained in offensive power?
It was more like a demon-cultivating hall that sought to wipe away a person's humanity!
He had been through all seven halls and was tired in both body and mind. Moreover, the enormous shock from Celestial Execution Hall finally made him take his leave.
He was unaware that not long after he left, Xie Fengtang suddenly appeared in front of Celestial Execution Hall, and with him was Si Yue'er and the old man from the entrance.
"Elder Qian, what do you think about this child?" Xie Fengtang asked with a smile.
The elder slowly replied, "Not bad. At least he's not an indiscriminate murderer."
Si Yue'er pursed her lips. "But he lacks in ruthlessness, lacks the resolve to kill. He's like a nagging old woman."
Xie Fengtang rolled his eyes at her and sighed. "A resolve to kill doesn't mean to kill decisively, Yue'er! Can you not always judge people using your standards?There are many things in this world that require resolve, and the resolve to not kill is also a kind of resolve!"
"But the path of Immortality is treacherous, and has anyone ever ascended to the summit without staining themselves with blood?" Si Yue'er replied, unwilling to back down. "Do you think our hands aren't stained with blood? And were there not innocents among them? If he can't understand this, then I think he will find it very hard to achieve anything."
"That depends on the circumstances, and the environment. When one has choices, one must learn to restrain oneself. It is easy to act brashly but difficult to restrain oneself. The Great Dao is difficult to seek and is not something that can be solved through simple killing," the old man leisurely said.
After some thought, he said, "I'm optimistic about the child."
"As someone who was able to learn three spell arts in two hours, he's naturally worth being optimistic about," Xie Fengtang chuckled. Unfortunately, he had no idea that his reasoning was established on false grounds. Of course, if he came to like Tang Jie more in the future and then learned that Tang Jie had cheated, he might even say something like, "A student daring enough to play tricks knowing that the headmaster is right outside truly has some guts."
If you liked someone, you would always be able to find a reason, and vice versa.
His trip through the Seven Celestial Halls had allowed Tang Jie to understand just how far he was from the peak.
And it was no wonder that the standard time to cultivate from Spirit Spring to Spirit Lake was a year and a half.
In this year, the students would mature in many ways, and the strengths of older Spirit Spring students would differ from those of the new Spirit Spring students.
Why was it that geniuses like Qi Shaoming and An Rumeng couldn't win every match from the start? Precisely for this reason.
Of course, as time went on, the situation would change.
At Qi Shaoming's current rate of progress, he was probably about to hit the threshold of the Spirit Lake Tier soon. If he wasn't in a rush, he could focus on spells and fight for ranking. After all, these were resources that were up for grabs.
An Rumeng was different. Her Six Desires Meridians didn't favor cultivation speed, but they made practicing spell arts more efficient. Just like how the Lesser Sea Grotto Metal Mantra would boost the power of the Jade Shattering Finger, the Six Desires Meridians would have special effects on certain spells. In battle, she would probably be even stronger than Qi Shaoming at the start.
While other students were anxious to compete against each other on the sparring ground, Tang Jie favored the special training. One reason was that he lacked combat experience. As someone who had been reincarnated into this world, he had been through the rough and tumble of life and had come to understand many things a lot earlier than most. Secondly, the special training gave him more obvious improvements to his strength.
The sparring ground had too many problems when it came to focus. The special training ground was where he could truly temper his body.
Thus, for the next few days, other than his daily cultivation, he went to the special training ground every day for training.
His favorite of the Seven Celestial Halls was Celestial Simulation Hall. He enjoyed the bizarre and constantly changing environment, and he was gradually beginning to understand the various ecologies of the Rosecloud Domain.
Celestial Simulation Hall had so many different forms that its contents alone could consume countless hours of effort. When the Seven Celestial Halls had been designed, it was probably Celestial Simulation Hall that had taken the most effort.
The one that he benefited from the most was Celestial Defense Hall. As Tang Jie had predicted, the constant beating caused Tang Jie's body to get stronger and stronger. He could now resist the beating up to the seventh puppet. Now, let alone the Formless Golden Body, he didn't even use the Aquagel Shroud.
Once the seventh puppet appeared, all the puppets received another huge power boost, and their attacks could now be compared to low-rank spells. The fourteen fists of the seven puppets were like fourteen spells, and ordinary defensive spells probably wouldn't be able to last a single round.
Even Tang Jie with his formidable constitution was forced to leave after a single round.
The most painful was Celestial Pearl Hall. The endless battle not only harshly tested a student's physical and spiritual energy, it also challenged their mentality and will. While other kinds of training tested only one's power, Celestial Pearl Hall constantly squeezed the body. It was truly a place where only tough and bitter practice could achieve progress.
This was why Tang Jie would always only withdraw once he was so exhausted that he couldn't move a finger.
He had the most progress in Celestial Variation Hall. Celestial Variation Hall asked more of the mind than of strength, and this was Tang Jie's greatest talent, so his grades here were only second to his grades in Celestial Defense Hall. Celestial Defense Hall had his best grades because he had his mantra and resources, but with Celestial Variation Hall, he relied purely on talent. Thus, Tang Jie was naturally prouder about his grades in this hall.
His progress in Celestial Flash Hall was the slowest. As his body was tough, Tang Jie didn't need to dodge much, so his attitude wasn't right, and thus, his results were limited. And given that the Violet Lightning Lunge wasn't a spell art that specialized in evasion in a small area, progress was even slower than Tang Jie had anticipated.
The hall he was most unwilling to go to was Celestial Execution Hall.
This was also the hall with the worst grades, with barely any progress to speak of.
Today, Tang Jie once more emerged from Celestial Execution Hall. This time, he still killed only one person before leaving.
The elder glanced at him and asked in a strange tone, "I don't quite understand. You don't strike me as an indecisive person, so why are you still unwilling to strike at those illusions? You must know by now that they are not actually living beings."
"Because I feel like this sort of cultivation is of no help to our strength. All it will do is nurture the brutality and savagery in our hearts," Tang Jie frankly replied. "I feel like Basking Moon Academy doesn't need this sort of disciple."
"I see…" The elder chuckled. "Basking Moon Academy doesn't need this kind of disciple? Interesting, interesting. But who are you to decide what sort of disciple Basking Moon Academy requires?"
Tang Jie was startled.
The elder added, "And why do you think Basking Moon Academy requires disciples? No, the one who requires disciples is the Basking Moon Sect, not Basking Moon Academy… Do you understand?"
Tang Jie's heart trembled.
The elder continued, "You're very smart, but you're clearly too smart, so smart that you would try and fathom the school's purpose. This is your problem. But there are some things that are beyond your ability to fathom. Why do you think that the Basking Moon Sect doesn't need killers? Do you think that the Basking Moon Sect can just sit back and relax now that it dominates Sageheart, and no one can shake it from its position?"
Tang Jie's lips trembled, but he remained silent.
He knew that the elder would give him the answer.
The elder sighed. "This is a school, and there are many things that shouldn't be here, but this doesn't mean that you won't have to deal with those things in the future. In life, there are many things that you will be powerless to do anything about. Cultivators live long lives and will encounter even more such things. At times, when the heavens above demand that you swing your blade and kill, you will not have a choice."
"I understand what you mean, venerable elder, but if possible, there should always be another solution," Tang Jie replied.
"Another solution?" The elder glanced at Tang Jie. "Then do you have another way to get a high score in Celestial Execution Hall without killing people?"
"This…" Tang Jie was rendered speechless.
He truly had no such solution.
"Since you cannot, then you must confront it. The school does not encourage you to massacre innocents, but the school also wishes you to understand that you must confront things that you are powerless to change. Go, then. I will give you one more chance. This time, you must kill at least one hundred before coming out. At that time, you might discover something new."
The elder pointed at Tang Jie's jade token and then sent Tang Jie back into Celestial Execution Hall with a sweep of his sleeve.
Back in the hall, Tang Jie took in a deep breath.
He looked at the city full of civilians, closed his eyes, and swung his sword.
He hacked! He killed! He swung around his sword and slaughtered, allowing the blood to splash onto his body. Though the cries for mercy rang out in his ears, he continued to kill and kill, his heart constantly telling himself that these were all illusions.
Those people kneeling in front of him and begging for their lives were all killed, their blood gushing across the streets.
Finally, after killing so many people, Tang Jie heard a furious bellow.
"Fuck him! This old man begged you, but you still killed! Brothers, let's take him down!" The civilians who had been begging for their lives suddenly stood up, and their leader turned into a vicious ghost and lunged out.
"So they really were all disguised vicious ghosts!" Tang Jie finally understood.
These once-kind and -pitiable civilians suddenly turned into vicious ghosts, and the heartache that had been holding him back instantly disappeared. He laughed long and hard, then he raised his sword and rushed back into the fray… When Tang Jie came out again, his body was brimming with murderous energy and suffused with the will to fight.
The elder glanced at him. "Do you understand?"
"Yes! This student understands. The world is a treacherous place, with demons and monsters running amok. At times, we cannot believe only what we can see, but we must firmly believe in our Origin Hearts. The school already told us that they were vicious ghosts, but I was still swayed by their pleas for mercy and was deceived by their acting, thus I failed time and time again. This means that I was still hesitant, that I lacked self-confidence!"
"Very good. It's good so long as you know. Go on, then, go on."
"Yes!" Tang Jie respectfully departed, but deep down, he coldly snorted.
It now seemed that Basking Moon Academy wanted to use this matter to make the students firmly trust in the Basking Moon Sect.
Yes, Tang Jie hadn't been able to recognize the civilians as disguised vicious ghosts, but that was because whether vicious ghosts or civilians, they were all illusions. It was naturally impossible to detect a difference.
But in reality, there were certain to be clues if a ghost transformed into a person.
Not just ghosts, but all schemes and plots would have clues that could expose them.
The Basking Moon Sect used this matter to beat down a student's trust in their own judgment—"If my own judgment is wrong, let the Basking Moon Sect judge for me."
An excellent method!
Tang Jie inwardly chuckled.
After all, this was Basking Moon Academy. Without breaking composure, it was already nurturing the students to have absolute trust in the Basking Moon Sect.
Upon understanding this, Tang Jie naturally understood how to proceed.
With this matter resolved, Tang Jie felt relieved, and his footsteps were much lighter.
As he was heading back, he saw Wei Tianchong walking toward him.
Upon seeing Tang Jie, he hugged his head and started to cry. "Tang Jie… You need to help me get justice!"
"Young Master? What happened?" Tang Jie asked in confusion.
"My puppet…" Wei Tianchong wailed, "They destroyed my puppet!"