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(Passing the initial exam (1)

After all, they were at the Cloud Sect. So, they probably didn't dare harm anyone directly or act recklessly. With those thoughts, Zen went over to Nory.

Nory was lying on the ground. His face was pale, and he panted for breath.

Seeing Zen heading over to him, he struggled to sit up again, but in vain. He turned his head to Zen. "Zen, I'm exhausted. You go on without me. I don't think I can even sit up, let alone finish the race," said Nory. He turned his head back, staring at the sky. "People at the bone refining level only need to run ten miles to pass the initial exam.

There's only around one or two miles left. If I had the strength, I could finish the exam. Unfortunately, I cannot go on any longer."

"I'm sorry. I caused you trouble," Zen said apologetically. Those people had wanted him to fail by making trouble for him, but it impacted Nory.

Nory waved his hand and said sadly, "Forget it. This is my destiny. My fate has been bad since birth. I'm used to it..."

From Nory's words, it wasn't difficult to figure out that Nory had experienced hardships too.

"Get up, Nory!" said Zen sternly. He couldn't let Nory give up without making any efforts at all.

Smiling wryly, Nory shook his head. "I cannot stand up," he grumbled hopelessly.

"You haven't tried, so, how do you know you can't stand up? We practice martial arts to explore the limit of our body continuously. No one can reach the pinnacle in martial arts without experiencing difficulties and obstacles.

Stand up and give it your best try!" encouraged Zen.

The words rang in Nory's ears.

Practicing the martial arts was not for the sake of glory, wealth or power. It was to achieve one's ultimate strength, which meant facing and overcoming many difficulties and dangers. Once started on that road, the way would never be smooth and required many factors for people who wanted to continue. The most important factor was to push oneself to exceed the limits.

Listening to Zen's powerful thoughts left Nory pondering and struggling in his mind. His usual smiling face turned solemn.

Finally, he nodded and said, "You're right. If I give up so easily now, then next time, or the time after, I might give up without trying. Then it would be harder or even impossible for me to get into the Cloud Sect! I can't waste this opportunity. As long as I can get into the Cloud Sect, I can change my fate and become outstanding!" Staggering as he pulled himself up from the ground, Nory gritted his teeth against the stabbing pain. Breathing through the agony, he finally got his second wind and began to move slowly towards the stone tablet in the distance that held his hope.

A mere one mile lay ahead. And the road was flat. However, it might as well look like a mountain of swords for Nory. Every step he took sent more pains through him as if he was stepping on knives.

Zen slowed his pace to match Nory's and gave him constant encouragements.

With the internal injuries Nory suffered, and his exhausted physical strength, he was on the edge of collapse. All that was left was his willpower and step after step brought him nearer his dream.

Nory stumbled, almost falling many times. He kept his feet under him as he walked close to the destination. He bit his teeth so hard that his mouth was full of blood.

"Just a little more, Nory! I can see the stone tablet! We're not far away now!" said Zen as he looked ahead at the stone tablet engraved with two words on it, 'Ten Miles'.

At the ten-mile mark, people that were at the bone refining level would pass the initial exam. As they crossed the stone tablet, the color of jade pendants worn by the participants would change.

During the race, Zen had seen several people who were at the bone refining level pass this stone tablet and leave. They passed the initial exam!

When Nory heard Zen, he became excited. And an unknown power rose from his exhausted body. He didn't know where the energy came from. It could have something to do with the destination nearby and his hope. With his renewed vigor, Nory kept walking and even started to jog as he neared the stone tablet.

As Nory crossed the stone tablet, the jade pendant on his chest turned red, indicating that he had passed the exam!

When he crossed it, Nory was so weak that he fell to the ground. And he couldn't lift a finger, let alone hold himself up. He managed to move his tongue and mouth, and said to Zen, "Thank you so much, Zen......"

Zen nodded at Nory, acknowledging that he understood what Nory was struggling to tell him. Just then a chariot swooped down from the sky and two examiners jumped out of it.

Glancing at the jade pendant around Nory's neck, one of the examiners announced that Nory passed his initial exam, and lifted him, placing him on the flying chariot. The two examiners glimpsed over at Zen before leaving quickly. It was no wonder these two examiners were surprised though.

Strictly speaking, after passing the initial exam, all participants would face each other as competitors in the next entrance exam.

'Who would help their competitors? This young man is indeed a weirdo!' The two examiners thought.

Of course, Zen did not know that the two examiners were thinking about such things. He was just happy to see Nory had passed the exam and gratified that Nory hadn't given up.

After watching Nory and the examiners leave, Zen crossed the stone tablet too.

As soon as he passed the milestone marker, Zen's body sank, and suddenly he felt as though the pressure in his body weighing him down, doubled.

'This pressure feels like two thousand pounds......'

As Zen felt the pressure crushing him, he finally understood why the road was unusual. It was designed to double the burden on people every ten miles. He adapted to the hard pressure, taking a few moments to move his hands and feet before starting again. Two thousand pounds of force had an inevitable impact on his movement, which slowed his actions by nearly half of his previous speed.

However, running the next ten miles under the added weight wouldn't be a problem for Zen, thanks to his unique and abnormally strong physical body.

While Zen had remained with the injured Nory, he walked very slowly and consequently, he wasted a lot of time.

The applicants of bone refining level passed the initial exam at 'Ten Miles' stone tablet and those at the organ refining level had already run further, leaving Zen alone on the road.

Keeping his speed steady, Zen walked alone, like a lonely traveler.

After running three more miles, he was only winded slightly.

After another two miles, Zen was breathing a little heavier.

When Zen hit the eighteen-mile mark, his breathing was labored. Looking ahead, he squinted and saw his goal was in sight. He felt confident that he would pass the initial exam easily.

When he had still one mile ahead, Zen found four people standing there, waiting for him.

Judging them from their breathing. the men waiting for Zen were at the marrow refining level. Three were strangers, but Zen recognized one of them as the powerful man who bumped Zen and
Nory with his shoulder just ow.

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