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"THE MARTIAL KING" SEASON 3, EPISODE 43"

THE MARTIAL KING

 Season 3

Episode 43

(Endless steps)

The most significant difference between them was that Zen was the only one on his side, whereas there were about a hundred people on his rival's side.    

 Here, Zen had an advantage as it would be impossible for so many people to act in unison as there must be a difference among a hundred people when they exerted their strength.    

 To overcome this shortcoming, they would roar when exerting themselves, and this roaring unified their efforts.    

 'This must be the so-called details Saul mentioned!' Zen was suddenly enlightened. Since Saul had reminded him, it must be the key to pass the test!     'Strength, unity...     

I must find a way to disrupt their efforts so that they are unable to exert their strength simultaneously!' Zen thought.  

 He looked at those men with a weird smile and then gradually withdrew his strength.     

After Zen reduced his strength by thirty percent, he was pulled toward the cliff edge, little by little.    

 After moving forward a few steps, Zen suddenly applied himself.    

 All his strength erupted in an instant!     Then, he was able to drag the rope back.     

"Hey! Ha!"    

The men roared when they found that Zen was striving to use all of his power. They deployed their strength at the same time to compete against Zen.    

 'It is just as I have thought!' Zen thought with a slight smile. When the men exerted themselves, Zen withdrew his strength again.     

As he felt the rope loose, Zen applied more force.   

Because he was alone, Zen could exert or withdraw his strength freely.     

On the contrary, the men on the opposite side had to rely on their roaring to unify their movements.    

 After Zen had repeatedly exerted and withdrawn his strength, the roaring rhythm of the men finally became chaotic.    

 "Hey! Ha..."    

"Ha..."    

"Hey..."    

Everyone was roaring according to their rhythm, so their strength wasn't unified at all.     

Just then, Zen summoned all his strength again.    

 Even if the total strength of these men were equal to Zen's, because they were inconsistent in utilizing their power, they seemed to be weaker than Zen.   

As a result, the men couldn't keep their balance any longer and slid toward the edge of the cliff, one by one.     

As soon as one man fell off the cliff, their team would lose one percent of their strength. When Zen deployed all his power, more than thirty men fell. The strength of the remaining seventy men was only equal to seventy percent of Zen's power at that moment. And so, Zen had nothing to fear.     

Zen felt more and more relaxed as with each exertion there were fewer people left on the other side. Finally, all hundred men had fallen into the ravine. And thus, Zen won the strength competition.    

 After pulling the whole length of the rope to his side, Zen felt the surrounding environment change. When he looked around, Zen noticed that he was back in the hall.   

A smile appeared on Saul's face. Except for his lifeless breath, the puppet of the immortal was just like a real person.    

 "Well done! Since you were able to win with the slight hint I have given you, I feel more confident in your abilities now," said Saul.     

"You call that a slight hint?" Zen asked with eyebrows raised.     

Saul nodded and answered, "The strength test is relatively easy. If you want to be recognized by the immortal, you have to survive the test of the soul and the spirit. It is the most important part of the tests."    

"Soul and spirit..." Zen murmured as he gazed at Saul. Zen knew very little about the soul. Oddly enough, none of the people from the Eastern Region had heard about this either.     

In fact, compared to the others in the Eastern Region, Zen had already learned more about the soul. He had begun to cultivate according to the book, Spiritual Thorn and had now, reached the state of forgetting himself. After reaching the state, Zen had won against many masters.   

So the soul of masters was vulnerable too.     

A talisman appeared as Saul pointed at the ground. "The second test is a spiritual one. Now, since you have passed the test of strength, you have to take the test of the spirit. Be careful. The test is very dangerous. If you are careless, your soul will be removed. Then you will become a zombie-like idiot!"   

 Zen nodded without hesitation. Since he had passed the first test, he felt as though he should continue with the remaining tests. "Before taking the second test, I want to know how many tests I have to pass," asked Zen.    

 Hearing that, Saul flashed three fingers and said, "Three. But... strictly speaking, there are only two tests. Once you pass the first two tests, you would have the quality to take over the fairy palace. 

However, the third test is very important as your performance will decide what kind of reward you will get."  

"Reward? What will be the reward?" Zen was a little surprised.     

Saul smiled slyly and said, "I can't tell you more now. But I will share if you pass the second test."    

Since Zen didn't have any other questions to ask, he moved forward and stepped on the second talisman.    

 As soon as he trod on it, Zen was transferred to the illusory again after a while of dizziness.  

 Unlike the realm full of lightning and thunder he had been sent to previously, the current realm was very quiet. There was a heavy mist in the distance, and the sky looked a little dark.    

 Zen was on a mountain and in front of him was a staircase with endless steps.   
"The test of the soul is to climb this staircase. If you reach the top, you will pass the test." Saul's voice echoed across the mountain.     

Climbing up a staircase? It sounded too easy. However, Zen knew that the stairs couldn't be as simple as they looked.     Since the first test was challenging, then the second test would undoubtedly be more difficult.     

Standing before the staircase, Zen looked up. There were probably tens of thousands of steps in front of him. The further up he looked, the less Zen could see. After all, the steps were so high up that they were wrapped in mist.     

Zen moved forward and cautiously placed his foot on the first step. A frown appeared on Zen's face when nothing happened.     

He gingerly took another step. Again, nothing happened. Zen began climbing up step by step at a brisk pace.   

In his present physical condition, ascending the staircase was as easy as walking on the ground. Even if Zen slowed his speed and climbed one step after another, he still moved up very quickly.    

 "The two-hundredth step..."   

 "The three-hundredth step..."    

"The eight-hundredth step..."    

"The nine-hundredth step..."   

 "The nine-hundred and ninety-ninth step..."   

 Standing on the nine-hundred and ninety-ninth step, Zen looked down and found that the steps behind him were hidden in the mist. Now he couldn't see anything except the mist and the step under his feet. A deep sense of loneliness coursed through him.   

'There was nothing wrong with the first thousand steps. If I guess correctly, the real test should start from the next step.'    
Thinking about this, Zen placed his foot on the one-thousandth step.    

 As soon as his foot touched the step, Zen felt a sharp pain.    

 "Oh! It hurts!"   

 Zen cried in a low voice. However, when he looked down, he couldn't see what had caused the pain.    

 'That's impossible!' he thought. Zen then wondered what had caused the sharp pain in his foot.     

'My skin is too tough for any ordinary sharp object to prick it.' Thinking about this, Zen became more cautious.     

Then he took another step.     

"Ah!"  

He frowned and couldn't help but cry out in pain.     

After the pain subsided, Zen looked at the step. The moment he placed his foot down, a sharp grey thorn rose from the step and went into his foot.     

The grey thorn had caused the pain.    

 "Soul thorn!" Zen's face turned pale in shock.     

Although the soul thorn was not the same as Zen's spiritual thorn, they were similar as they could attack people's soul even if their skin was hard.    

 If Zen's soul had not been refined and strengthened by the black fire, he would have fainted from the pain of being pricked by the soul thorn.    

 His soul was strong enough, but his face still twisted in pain, as though he had tasted a bitter melon.   

  Zen raised his head and looked at the steps that extended to the skyline. 'How much pain would I have to suffer if my feet are pricked at every step I take?   

It seems I have no choice but...'   

 Zen suddenly leaped forward. After several jumps, he had crossed twenty-three steps.     

Although Zen was being smart by jumping, he was invariably pricked by the thorn when he did place his feet on a step. Zen gritted his teeth and continued as he rationalized that this was better than getting pricked at every step.   

  After jumping across dozens of steps, each time he placed his foot on a step, Zen would feel the pain of his soul being attacked by the thorn.     

After leaping more than ten times, his soul had been pricked more than ten times too. Even though Zen's soul was much stronger than the average person's, he felt dizzy from the pain. Zen couldn't help but cover his head with his hands. 

  He had to sit down and rest.     

Looking at the remaining steps, Zen took a deep breath. After he had recovered, Zen continued to climb.    

 After leaping across several hundreds of steps in one breath, Zen reached the two-thousandth step.     

The moment he stepped on it, the environment around him changed.     Clusters of crimson flame replaced the soul thorns.    

 Zen guessed that they were not real flames as he couldn't feel any heat coming from them. However, when he stepped on them, Zen felt as though his soul was being grilled.     

He would have preferred it if they had been actual flames. After all, Zen had developed a certain resistance to fire and could even absorb their heat as he had been refined by the lotus fire, the fire of the Earth's core, and the demon's holy fire.   

However, the flame on the step was
special as it wouldn't hurt his body, but it did attack his soul.

_________


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