Chapter 259: The Proving Grounds’ New Master

Demoness's Art of Vengeance

The despondence in Jun Xiaomo’s heart was but for a fleeting moment. Her survival instincts immediately kicked in and took precedence, and Jun Xiaomo swiftly retrieved her whip from her Interspatial Ring and furiously lashed towards the spirit beast that was lunging towards her, striking it straight on in its eyes.

If she had struck any other place, it might not have achieved any effects whatsoever. Fortunately, its eyes were the weakest points of its body. The spirit beast cried out in pain, while Jun Xiaomo quickly dodged to the side, swiftly avoiding the spirit beast’s furious swipe at her.

Jun Xiaomo hurriedly sieved through the contents of her Interspatial Ring, hoping that she would be able to find a suitable talisman to use in the circumstances. In the next moment, she suddenly recalled that most of her remaining offensive talismans had been completely depleted and used up in the earlier tussle with Princess Linglong. Her Interspatial Ring could only be described as “an empty storehouse” right now.

When it rains, it pours. Jun Xiaomo was practically in tears right now.

Yet she chose to grit her teeth and fight on. Jun Xiaomo raised her whip in front of her and stared straight back at the spirit beast that had lost one eye by now.

As long as there was even one strand of hope remaining, she would never give up. It would be too aggrieving if she died just like that.

Having lost one eye, the spirit beast rage only caused it to increase the intensity of its attacks. Together with its overbearing aura, it lunged at Jun Xiaomo once again as it roared with such fury that the surroundings trembled.

Faced with the massive stature of the spirit beast that was attacking her, Jun Xiaomo looked almost like a frail little sprout that could be snapped in half at any time.

Just then, a bright blue light flickered past in front of her eyes. Just as she thought that her eyes had been dazzled by the gripping battle, she realized that the blue image suddenly burst out with great energy and shot that bolt of energy straight towards the spirit beast. The spirit beast didn’t even have the time to react when it got struck squarely on its body by the bolt of light, and it slammed back and collapsed on the ground. A large, gaping wound opened up on its neck, and nauseating blood flowed from it.

In the blink of an eye, this massive, fearsome spirit beast was completely dead.

Jun Xiaomo was completely flabbergasted, and she sat on the ground for a moment in shock before she finally returned to her senses. Then, she took a closer look at the bright blue light and noticed that it was a tiny, floating paper crane that was flapping its wings about in front of her.

“This is…” Jun Xiaomo stretched out her hand and grabbed hold of one of its wings.

“Disciple~~” Tong Ruizhen’s voice bellowed through the paper crane, startling Jun Xiaomo so much that her hands jolted, and she nearly even tossed the paper crane away.

“Master?!” Jun Xiaomo looked at the pale blue little paper crane with astonishment in her eyes as she wondered when it had begun to follow alongside her.

“Cough, cough. Disciple, master has some things that he’s forgotten to tell you about, so there’s no choice but to relay this information to you through master’s special Messenger Paper Crane.” Tong Ruizhen coughed dryly as he explained rather sheepishly.

Jun Xiaomo chose to ignore her master’s propensity for forgetting important details, as she helplessly replied, “Disciple is listening. Go ahead, master.”

“It’s not too difficult to clear the Proving Grounds. However, it wouldn’t be right to describe it as an easy and simple task either. The locality of the Proving Grounds can be described as two squares, one inside the other. If you follow the path in front of you and keep walking along it, the path will take you around the entire Proving Grounds and end up in its center, which is also where the heart of the formation array is located. The entire Proving Grounds is a massive formation array, and it is also littered with innumerable large and small formation arrays which disciple will have to personally break through and unlock in order to succeed.”

“Apart from that, the Proving Grounds comprise a total of seventy-two checkpoints, and each one of these would be guarded by either spirit beasts or demonic beasts. The further you go, the higher the level of these beasts. Thus, before challenging each of these checkpoints, disciple should make it a point to make sufficient preparations for each upcoming battle. Apart from preparing some talismans for yourself, you’ll have to make sure that you raise your cultivation level to a certain extent as well.”

“That said, after clearing each checkpoint, you’ll also be given a commensurate reward. Some of these checkpoints even contain grandmaster’s precious journals, and they will be particularly useful for increasing your abilities, particularly in setting up formation arrays. Oh, that’s right. There’s still master’s Messenger Paper Crane. Apart from its ability to transmit messages, I’ve also imbued it with a certain level of my own power. Disciple will be able to use it to block dangerous encounters three times. After three instances of usage…well, disciple will have to deal with matters in your own way after that…”

Tong Ruizhen began to blabber on like a grandmother nagging at her grandchild. After some time, he even began to digress and jabber on about everything under the sun. Jun Xiaomo glanced about at the sky around her before she interrupted Tong Ruizhen mid-speech.

“Alright, master, I’m losing daylight here. I’d best look for a place to retire for the day.” Jun Xiaomo interjected.

“Oh, oh. Then, alright, master shan’t disturb you any further. Once you enter the domain of the first checkpoint, master will no longer have any means of communicating with you any further. Disciple has to remember to watch for your safety and do your best to come back alive~”

Jun Xiaomo shuddered at Tong Ruizhen’s repeated reminder for her to return alive. At the same time, she could feel her master’s warmth and concern from the tone of his voice.

“Alright. Thank you, master.” Jun Xiaomo smiled. Even though Tong Ruizhen couldn’t see her smile, she still patted the little paper crane’s wings.

The little paper crane flapped its wings slightly, and a bright blue light shone from it. Once the blue light faded away, the paper crane became nothing more than an ordinary little paper crane.

It was evident that Tong Ruizhen had already cut off the communication from his end.

Jun Xiaomo smiled faintly as she looked into the distance where the path seemed to lead indefinitely. The gaze in her eyes slowly changed from a distant and perplexed look into one filled only with resolve.

When all was said and done, this was undoubtedly a godsent opportunity for her to elevate her abilities to new heights, and she absolutely had to make the best of it.

She was determined to come out alive, stronger and better!


The days without companionship were lonesome, long and arduous. At the beginning, Jun Xiaomo would count the days as time went by, keeping a close track of how long she had spent within the Proving Grounds. Yet as time went by, day after day, year after year, Jun Xiaomo gradually began to grow numb to the ebb and flow of time. Every time night fell, a sense of longing for her family and friends would once again emerge from the dark abysses of her heart and float to the surface of her mind.

It was as though she had returned to her previous life when she was escaping for her life alone and travelling on her own. At that point of her life, the only company she had was the unending loneliness and solitude that continued to haunt and harass her.

That said, her present circumstances were vastly different from the circumstances in her previous life. In her previous life, apart from the vengeance in her heart, she had absolutely no other reason to live on. The only thing she could look forward to in life was the release that accompanied the full and final execution of her plans for vengeance.

But this life was quite different. She had a whole host of loved ones waiting outside for her, including family and friends. The more she could glean from the Proving Grounds, the more she would be able to protect those whom she loved.

This was a boundless resolve that had deeply taken root in Jun Xiaomo’s heart. It was also the bottomless well which gave her courage and strength to face the solitude and loneliness in the Proving Grounds.

In the first year that passed, Jun Xiaomo cleared two checkpoints, while her cultivation level increased to the ninth level of Qi Mastery. At this point in time, Jun Xiaomo genuinely believed that the Proving Grounds might not be as difficult as her master had made it out to be. Perhaps she might only need several decades to clear it.

When the second year passed, Jun Xiaomo found herself clearing only one checkpoint. In fact, in her haste and anxiety to clear the checkpoint, she even almost lost her life. It was at this moment that Jun Xiaomo understood that the seventy-two checkpoints might not be as easy as she thought they would be.

Another ten years passed, and Jun Xiaomo only managed to clear three more checkpoints. At the same time, having experienced many a close brush with death, Jun Xiaomo finally stilled her heart and began to patiently and thoroughly analyze each and every upcoming checkpoint as she made thorough preparations to overcome these checkpoints. The gaze in her eyes had grown steadfast and incisive by this point in time.

One hundred years had passed, and Jun Xiaomo counted the number of checkpoints she had cleared. It was at this point that she discovered that there was approximately half the number of checkpoints remaining. From her experience, the latter half of the checkpoints were only going to get increasingly harder. Thus, she sighed in her heart, steeled her resolve, and forged forward once more…

When three hundred and thirty years passed, the entire Proving Grounds suddenly experienced a tremendous change. The mountains and the valleys shifted, while lakes and rivers were displaced. Amidst the tremors accompanying these changes, the spirit and demonic beasts within the Proving Grounds invariably experienced an immense pressure emanating from the heart of the formation array sustaining the Proving Grounds. The pressure came from the formation array’s master.

The spirit and demonic beasts all cocked their heads in the direction of the heart of the formation array. Moments later, these beasts all threw their heads into the air and cried out loudly, before prostrating in the direction of the heart of the formation array.

This signified their submission to the person standing on the heart of the formation array.

After close to ten thousand years, the endless lands of the Proving Grounds had finally welcomed their new master.


At the edge of the Inferno Kingdom’s territories, a small teahouse stood at the base of the Thousand Crane Peak.

It was noontime, and people were coming and going from the teahouse. Business was booming. Furthermore, this teahouse touted much more exquisite designs than any of the other teahouses around, and it was also far cleaner and orderly than the rest. Thus, people generally preferred this teahouse over any of the other teahouses around.

As the saying goes, gossip thrives where people gather. This teahouse was no exception to this rule either. A large, burly man with a gritty beard carrying a huge broadsword on his back entered the teahouse. As soon as he sat down and gulped down a few mouthfuls of his tea, he began to gossip with his companions around.

“Did you hear that the Inferno Kingdom’s king is drawing near the end of his life?”

“Hasn’t it been this way since a long time ago? He’s been on his final breaths for a long time now, while those princes under him are constantly duking it out with each other. Perhaps these princes might even have forgotten their father’s existence by now.” The burly man’s companion chuckled disdainfully. What the burly man said was hardly news to him.

“Look at you. You sound just like a know-it-all. Then, let me ask you, who do you think is going to ascend the throne?”

“If this were a few years back, I would say that the person most likely to ascend the throne would undoubtedly be the first prince. After all, I heard that the first prince had earned the favor of a powerful master who’s far stronger than even the Grand Vizier of the Inferno Kingdom. At the same time, the first prince’s personal abilities are deep and immeasurable, and he’s even an amazing tactician and general at that. But now…tch, it’s gonna be hard to say.”

“Why would it be hard to say?”

“Haven’t you heard? The first prince of the Inferno Kingdom has gone missing.”


“He’s gone missing. There are some who said that he’s been assassinated by the king of the Greenwich Kingdom, while others say that he’s gone into hiding to escape from the persecution of the Zephyr Sect and the Grand Vizier. Who knows where he is now? Whatever the case is, nobody has seen him in recent times. I’ve got a relative who works in the Inferno Kingdom’s palace, so this news is absolutely accurate.” The burly man’s companion bragged as he delighted in the stunned looks on the faces of his other companions.

“Such a pity. Such a pity! The first prince was made of the stuff of legends!” The burly man stroked his gritty beard as he exclaimed, “I hear that he treats his subordinates extremely well, and he doesn’t have any airs about him. I’d actually planned to enlist in his personal army when the first prince ascends the throne.”

“Sigh, it can’t be helped. Even heroes are vulnerable to the charms of a beautiful woman.” The burly man’s companion shook his head as he sighed.

“What do you mean by that?”

“I hear that the first prince has a very close confidante who had, for some reason, offended Princess Linglong from the Greenwich Kingdom. In a fit of rage, the king of the Greenwich Kingdom demanded the Zephyr Sect to kill the confidante of his. As soon as the first prince learnt about this, he was completely shattered and aggrieved. In his grief, he led his entire army and surrounded the entire Greenwich Kingdom and fought all the way into the capital of the Greenwich Kingdom. He almost singlehandedly conquered the Greenwich Kingdom.”

“I did hear about these things. That said, I only heard that the first prince of the Inferno Kingdom nearly conquered the Greenwich Kingdom. I didn’t know anything about his reasons for waging war against them to begin with.”

“Haha, there’s still more to this story. In the moment of crisis, the Greenwich Kingdom sought assistance from the Zephyr Sect, and nobody knows what kind of power the sect leader and the sect elders of the Zephyr Sect managed to summon, but overnight, they completely obliterated the Inferno Kingdom’s massive army of a hundred thousand and turned the situation around.”

“Tsk – aren’t cultivation sects not allowed to interfere with the matters of mere mortals?”

“That’s how things are supposed to be. But if they were to interfere, would us mortals be able to do anything about it? Then, later on, the Inferno Kingdom fell prey to some false rumours which said that the Zephyr Sect would be thoroughly enraged and launch an all-out attack against the Inferno Kingdom if the Inferno Kingdom did nothing to put the first prince to death. As a result, the Inferno Kingdom sent over assassins in the Golden Core stage of cultivation to infiltrate the first prince’s camp and take his head in order to appease the Zephyr Sect. In the end, not only did the first prince come out alive, the ten assassins were completely annihilated.”

“The first prince is just too incredible. Just what level is his cultivation level at right now?”

“I’m not too sure about that. All I know is that after this incident, the first prince was completely disheartened and disappointed, and he immediately handed control of his entire army to his trusted aide before leaving the Inferno Kingdom’s palace and vanishing into thin air. As soon as the first prince left the palace, his brothers, the other princes, began to spring into action as every single one of them attempted to vie for the title of crown prince once again. At the same time, given the Inferno Kingdom’s tragic losses, the neighboring kingdoms around the Inferno Kingdom began to muster their troops and invade the Inferno Kingdom as well, surrounding the Inferno Kingdom on all four sides and wreaking havoc throughout its lands. The Inferno Kingdom’s king was thoroughly remorseful for his actions, but it was too late for regrets now.”

“Sigh, it’s such a pity, such a pity…” The burly man sighed once more.

“Excuse me…the first prince you were referring to, was his name Rong Ruihan?” A pleasant voice called out from beside them. This voice sounded like clear spring waters striking a smooth boulder – it sounded pleasant and almost enthralling.

The burly man and his companions were slightly taken aback, and they turned their heads around to the source of their voice – a stranger had suddenly appeared and sat himself at the side of their table. This stranger donned a veiled conical hat, and nobody could see his appearances through that veil. He wore natural-white civilian garments, and he exuded an elegant and otherworldly air about him.

When did this man sit at our table? Why don’t I have any impression of him at all? Most importantly, none of them noticed his arrival nor how long the man had been sitting at the table for.

Everyone exchanged glances with each other in complete bewilderment.

“Excuse me, was the first prince of the Inferno Kingdom’s name Rong Ruihan?”

The man wearing civilian clothes appeared to be rather good-natured. Even though the burly man and his companions were too flabbergasted to respond to his earlier inquiry, he did not appear mad at all. Instead, he simply repeated his question.

“Ye-…yes…” The burly man finally responded, scratching his head sheepishly.

I’ve never seen a person with such a dignified air about him. This man must be a person from the cultivation world, right? As expected, the cultivation world is filled with handsome men and beautiful women. The burly man exclaimed in his heart. He felt rather inferior when he compared himself with the dignified man in civilian clothes.

“Thank you.” The man in civilian clothes thanked him calmly, before standing up and making his way to the entrance of the teahouse.

The burly man and his companions once again exchanged glances in bewilderment as they exclaimed in their heart – When this dignified man appeared out of nowhere at our table…was it all just so that he could ask them that single question?

Previous Chapter Next Chapter