Ming Yue's injuries were severe but they were not incurable. It took several hours for her to regain her consciousness.
At first, she was confused and surprised to find out that the sect master of Clear Spring Mountain was personally tending to her. But she spent the next day or two completely immersed with recovery.
With all this time, the two began to talk. First and foremost, they talked about the duel.
"Why was I chosen to do these duels?" Ming Yue asked bluntly.
The sect leader's face was unchanged, her eyes full of wisdom and her expression calm.
"Why did you accept the offer?" she said, answering with another question.
Ming Yue paused at the question, thinking of an adequate answer. She wanted to experience and learn more about other martial arts styles. Clear Spring Mountain was one of them but if anything, she could've asked one of the elders or disciples. These five duels were probably just quicker and straightforward.
Before she could answer the sect leader's question, the sect leader stopped her by saying just one word.
"Fate" she said.
Simple and yet mysterious, such was the nature of fate.
The sect leader continued going into a speech of sorts.
"Perhaps, you believe that it was coincidence that you would be chosen, a fluke that had led you to my sect. A stroke of luck that led you to this little mountain of the world," the sect leader's calm tone had no signs of changing, no tremor or hesitance.
"This could all be attributed to fate, the inner workings of the heavens", she said, "Fate that which allowed you to give an impact on this sect. Now we are intertwined because of it. You have helped me and now I must repay you."
Ming Yue was silent.
"Fate?" she thought, it did not seem like the correct answer to her.
She had fought every step of the way, luck was on her side but fate? Fate was something altogether, a force that seemed to do whatever it pleased.
"It does not matter now, we should be discussing my repayment for your deeds", the sect leader interrupted her thoughts, changing the subject.
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"You have come at a rather opportune time and may have possibly helped my sect avoid extinction", she said.
"Think about the impact you've made on them all. All of the disciples know that there will always be someone stronger but they never know who. They are blind, blinded by arrogance and that could not stand. Then they see you, a girl younger than most of them, someone whom none of them really know about. They thought of you as a side character, a weakling. Suddenly, their pride is gone. Seeing your battles, they start to realize that you aren't as weak as they thought. In fact, they might be weaker than you. That wave of shame should make them remember that they have a place in the world, a place that could disappear within the blink of an eye."
Ming Yue hadn't really considered what effects her actions made on others. She was still a small character, someone who had not yet reached the Earth Realm. Someone who was still very inexperienced with the world.
"Yes, senior", Ming Yue replied with those two words, unable to think of any other alternatives.
"Please, address me as Senior Qing, you could be considered to have become a friend of the Clear Spring Mountain. Speak your mind."
"Then, Senior Qing, I do not have anything that I desire. I had only wanted to experience what "soft" martial arts is like. There is no need to reward me. I have learned plenty from those duels", Ming Yue spoke honestly.
She had her divine ranked Drifting Sky and her clothes and accessories were still quite useful to her. There really was nothing that she really desired. Furthermore, asking for techniques from the mountain would not benefit much. After all, these skills were meant for those who cultivated the Pure Body method and she had her own unique method. Things like medicines and pills were considered but she did not want to depend on them too much for cultivating. Explaining all of this to Senior Qing, Ming Yue told her that she was already happy to have experienced their martial arts.
But Senior Qing was insistent on some form of reward, just gaining accumulations in battle was not enough. She thought for as long as it took for water to boil before coming up with a idea. Before that she offered Ming Yue a myriad of things. Strange medicinal plants and old treasures but Ming Yue did not feel that she deserved such treasures. Almost out of ideas, Senior Qing suggested a rather interesting reward.
"You could step into our tempering grounds if you'd like. It's a place for core disciples to test themselves in both a physical and ethereal level. I can let you enter it for a day. I can guarantee you that there will be progress made", she added that last detail, ending with a small smile. Hoping that this would be able to convince Ming Yue to accept.
Ming Yue was both enticed and curious, what could these tempering grounds be?
"Can you tell me more about it?" she asked, showing interest.
Senior Qing did not mind, saying that their tempering grounds was what made Clear Spring Mountain famous.
"Known as the Unstable Peak, it is one of the highest points of the mountain. What makes it so special is that a formation was laid down by the first leader of Clear Spring Mountain, in other words, the first queen of Clear Sky Kingdom. This formation gathers the force of the world, making cultivation much quicker. However, gathering large amounts of power does not come with some circumstances. Violent winds and the freezing cold plague the peak during the winter. In the summer, it becomes scorching hot, drying the ground and ridding the entire peak of water. Despite these conditions, those who have lasted inside that peak are the ones with true talent. Not to mention, that turbulent energy will strengthen your meridians and purify your body. Inside the mission hall, you will find a wall that carries the names of the top hundred that stayed the longest. The one at first place is none other than the first queen, having stayed on that peak for no more than ten years. By the end of it, it was said that she had reached the Immortal Rank in that one year."
After explaining, Senior Qing waited for Ming Yue to give her an answer.
This was certainly an attractive reward. Furthermore, this was not the first time Ming Yue had encountered the freezing cold, having gone through the formations of the Youth Tournament as well as that mysterious pond near the Firelight Ruins. She did not have much to lose but plenty to gain so she accepted this proposal.
It was not often that she had the opportunity to experience something like the Unstable Peak. A bit of excitement welled up within her.
"Hm, good, now then I should make the appropriate arrangements for this to happen. It shouldn't take much to convince the others. Well the-", Senior Qing paused, clutching her chest she fell to the ground.
"Senior!" Ming Yue yelled out, hurrying to support her.
"It's begun...the heart tribulation", Senior Qing groaned as she spoke to Ming Yue.
A dark aura seeped out of her body, it was menacing, full of negativity. Ming Yue could feel her heart racing from the aura, her mind was suddenly being tested. Finding herself unable to move, she could not break away from its grasp. Strong emotions and thoughts plagued her mind but she managed to endure it.
The tribulation had begun.
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