Chapter 175: Okay We’re Really Starting!
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“Take this as well.” Jing tossed him SCP-3668 with a small slip attached to it. 

“Huh!?” Bing nearly dropped his new shield and couldn’t help but feel tears about to pour out from his eyes. 

“What’s with the special treatment?!” Hu Tao shouted. 

“The task I gave him was something I thought was impossible for him. I fully expected him to fail yet he succeeded anyway.” She explained. 

“Your stupid luck never ceases to amaze me.” Ying slapped Bing’s back extra hard with a wide smile. 

“Ow! I promise I'm not as lucky as you all think I am.” He cried. 

“Who in the hell is going to believe a lie like that?” Ying asked. 

“Even I'm finding it hard to believe your luck is bad, Bing.” Lei laughed. 

“Lei, I have something for you as well.” Jing brought up as she pulled out SCP-262. 

“What a strange outfit...” Wan pointed out. 

“I’ve never seen something like that before. What kind of shirt is that?” Ying asked. 

“It’s a coat. In the right hands, it can be very useful. In the wrong hands, it be very dangerous.” Jing explained. 

“A coat?” Jie questioned. 

“Clothes meant for warmth or fashion.” 

“Oh, there’s a note on it.” Lei started reading the note as he put on the coat. 

“There was a note on mine too!” Bing remembered. 

  Jing left those notes so that the two would know what their new gifts could do. Everyone else excitedly waited for them to show off what their new gifts could do. Lei Zhi was the first to reveal his as a blue human-like arm came from within the inner linings of his coat and started feeling up his face. It cupped his chin, squeezed his cheeks, and ran its fingers over his closed eyes before retreating back into the inner linings. 

“What the hell was that?” Ying asked. 

“An arm. And apparently, this coat can make a few more.” He laughed in amusement as a child-like arm with a particularly long middle finger came out next and offered him a piece of candy. “Oh, thank you.” Lei handed it to Xiang who happily gurgled at the sweet treat. 

“What about yours's Fatass?” Hu Tao asked. 

“I’ll show you guys when the tournament starts...” He said after reading the slip attached to his shield. 

“Eh? What the hell are you trying to hide?” Hu Tao walked over and snatched the slip from his hands. Bing could only sigh as Hu Tao read what his new shield could do. 

“You’re lucky that we’re about to start the tournament, you know that right?” He grinned. 

“What does it say?!” Ying snatched it from Hu Tao’s hand and started reading it aloud for everyone else to hear. 

“Wow, you really are lucky...” Runt muttered. 

“What do you have to say about this?” Ying smirked, wondering what kind of excuse he could give now. 

  Bing’s response to their stares was to turn the other way and not say anything. Unfortunately for him, Ying and Hu Tao weren’t a fan of this response. They started messing with him to force him to talk. As this was happening, it seems that the elders were finally ready to begin the Grand tournament. Jing turned her head and looked back up at the elders. 

“Silence.” A wave of qi spread down to every disciple, shutting their mouths. 

  Everyone’s attention was grabbed by the Supreme Commander’s. Whether they wanted to or not, they would look at him and hear his words. He demanded it and he would get it. The Supreme Commander’s sharp eyes and shiny bald head captured everyone’s attention. Dressed in the sect’s robes and carrying a large 9-ringed saber on his back, the Supreme Commander’s figure radiated with power and strength. Rarely did anyone manage to see the Supreme Commander due to his high position within the sect, but when he did show himself, everyone looked up to him and gave him their respect. 

  A person of his strength deserved it after all. Jing wasn’t quite sure what realm he was at but she knew it was more than the Emerald Grass Slaying Sect’s Sect Leader. From what she could sense of his power, he could probably crush that old foggy just as easily as he did to Jing. But that was just a guess after all. She hasn’t seen either of their full strengths yet. 

“Disciples. As some of you are aware, this Grand Tournament is only a prelude to the true tournament at the Meeting of Great Talents. And as such, we won’t be doing things as we usually do for the Grand Tournament. Testing solely your fighting skills won’t be of much help this year. So, we altered a few things.”  

  Most were shocked at the news that the Grand Tournament wouldn’t just be a regular fighting tournament to test their skills against their fellow disciples. Few expected there to be a change due to the rumors circulating around the sect. Some weren’t surprised at all as they were directly informed by their masters. This news sent a wave of unease and excitement through the disciples of the Golden Serpent Sect. Everyone still kept their mouths shut despite wanting to eagerly talk about it. The Supreme Commander wasn’t finishing speaking just yet. 

“For the first event of the Grand Tournament, we will be testing your heart.” He revealed. “No matter how strong you are, how talented you are, what your background is, or how many resources you have, it will be impossible for you to reach the top without a pure heart. This test will force you to face your known and hidden heart demons and unless you are able to overcome them, you will fail and forever realize that your path to the peak of cultivation is impossible.” He explained. 

  Realizing that the first event had absolutely nothing to do with fighting or a person’s strength, many became nervous. They knew that refusing to test wasn’t an option as that would be the same as not participating in the Grand Tournament. Upon hearing that both their hidden and known heart demons would have to be overcame, almost everyone grew less confident. The average cultivator had at least one or two heart demons that followed them throughout a majority of their lifetime.  

  A fear of death, the fear of the unknown, the fear of being forgotten, or the fear of having their karma catch up to them for all the horrendous deeds they have performed in their life. These were some of the things that the Supreme Commander was telling them they had to face against. Surpassing death itself? That was basically just telling them to fail right? How could a sane person not be afraid of death after all the hard work they put into living? Regardless of how they felt, they would have to do it no matter what!  

‘Screw death! I’m going to become an immortal!’ 

‘Death isn’t the end of a cultivator’s journey. Death isn’t the end of a cultivator’s journey. Death isn’t the end of a cultivator’s journey...’ 

‘I have to do everything I can to pass...’ 

“Come climb up the stairs. We will begin immediately.” He beckoned with his finger. 

  A very small portion of disciples moved to climb the steps. None of the disciples at the sect could trust stairs. All of them remember some test involving steps or stairs being harder than it looked. So, only the foolish, mad, or confident disciples went first to climb the stairs. The others watched them to see what they could expect or if there was some way, they could make things easier on themselves. Which made the elders laugh at their naivety, there was no other way to get past this first event. There were a few resources that could possibly aid them in dealing with their heart demons but even so, they could only aid so much. 

  Hu Tao was one of the first disciples to climb up the steps. Heaven’s Angels watched as he immediately stopped on the first step and froze. His eyes glazed over and he didn’t move a single muscle. Someone touched him and he didn’t budge an inch even when they tried pushing him over. But maybe that was more so because of Hu Tao’s powerful physique rather than the effect the stairs was having on him. 

  Then, after 5 minutes, he moved on to the next step. And then another. It wasn’t long until Hu Tao was running up the stairs. This caused more than a few elders to look at him in shock. This boy! His heart was incredibly pure and clear! For a youth of his age to be climbing these steps this fast, there must be nothing weighing down his mind or soul! If his talent and luck were sufficient, he surely was going to become a prominent figure in the world. Many elders wondered about his background and identity to try and entice him into becoming their disciples. Someone like this wouldn’t encounter many bottlenecks in his cultivation. A few already knew of his identity and his problematic behavior but this showing of his was a great surprise to them. 

“Tch. If Hu Tao can do it so easily, there’s no reason why I can’t.” Ying took a step onto the stairs and just like Hu Tao froze earlier, she did the same. 

“Hmph. My heart should be perfectly clear.” Wan Qing went next. 

“I wonder what troubles I've been hiding in my heart...” Lei said to himself. 

“I’m not sure I want to find out about my heart demons...” Bing muttered. 

“Me either...” Runt rubbed the back of his head. 

“We don’t have a choice, you know?” Jie smiled. 

“Let’s see what demons are hiding in my heart...” Jing smiled, taking a single step forward. Li Li hopped down next to her. He was interested in what everyone else was doing too. 

[Mission available for host!] 

[Successfully make it to the end of the Grand Tournament!] 

[Rewards: 1 Legendary Ticket] 

[Mission available for host!] 

[Pass the first test!] 

[Rewards: 1 Legendary Ticket] 

[Failure Penalty: Removal of the System forever.]

[Mission available for host!] 

[Impress the elders with a good showing throughout the tournament!] 

[Rewards: Random Reptilian Egg.] 

[Mission available for host!] 

[Somehow have all your followers pass the Grand Tournament!] 

[Rewards: 1 Legendary Ticket] 

[Mission available for host!] 

[Kill over 1,000 fellow disciples during the course of the tournament.] 

[Rewards: Extreme Violence Bracelet, Extremely Violent Ring, God-slaying Spear of Justice] 

[Mission available for host!] 

[Help over 1,000 fellow disciples during the course of the tournament.] 

[Rewards: Pure Cloud Pearl, Heavenly Armor, Angel’s Blade of Righteousness] 

Yes, Lei Zhi can read. He reads by pressing his finger over the letters of whatever he's reading.