The Illusion of Fear
The Illusion Trial of the Luo Shen Mountain.
Qinghan was standing right in front of an ancient tree, while his lips were raised up in a faint smile. This tree was the tree of fear. Of course, he wasn’t appreciating the sceneries in his surroundings; he was rather staring at the only spirit fruit on the tree.
Today, he was here to try to pass the illusion of fear, and snatch the spirit fruit on the top. It had been six months since the last time Qinghan had so closely approached an ancient tree. Through arduous cultivation, he had now reached the third level of the Realm of the Marshal. Thus, his Battle Qi and soul power had improved accordingly. That was why he was determined to try to, not only to pick up the spirit fruit, but also to test the results of his cultivation.
As for why the tree of fear was chosen as his first trial, Qinghan had his own explanation. The so called trees of the seven human emotions included feelings of happiness, fury, sadness, fear, love, hatred, and lust. As a time-traveler, Qinghan had experienced two lives already, so he reckoned that fear should be the least threatening feeling for him. He had died once, what else would he be afraid of? Plus, he had slaughtered many of his enemies, and had experienced many big events, he proudly thought that there was nothing left for him to be fearful about.
Having been through various illusions, Qinghan came to the conclusion that, among the seven human emotions, happiness, fury, fear, and hatred, were less of a problem than sadness and lust. He understood himself all too well. He was a man who valued brotherhood and kinship, and thus his feeling would be easily affected by the people he loved. Sometimes, he even couldn’t get himself out once plunged into the swirl of sorrow.
Since he believed that he had nothing to fear, he decided to go ahead and try his luck. After inhaling some fresh air, Qinghan put on a smile as he tried to calm himself down, before he slowly approached the ancient tree.
Once he got close enough, the white fog began to dissipate, and a new scene appeared. Qinghan didn’t give much heed to the changes, and kept walking forward.
The distance between him and the tree wasn’t that long, say only a hundred meters at most, he could’ve arrived there within the blink of an eye. But, it was in the Luo Shen Mountain, he had to be careful, since the illusion could suddenly become too overwhelming for him. If he recklessly rushed to the tree, he would most likely be trapped in an illusion with no way of escape.
One step, two steps… twenty steps!
The scene kept changing, now the sky was turning scarlet red. There was even some uncanny sounds ringing out next to Qinghan’s ears. Most importantly, in the influence of the illusion, fear began to invade Qinghan’s brain.
The illusion of fear was nonetheless the most dangerous, even though the illusion would easily vanish if one remained calm and stable. As a mundane human being, however, Qinghan simply couldn’t stand the increasing fear that was brought by the illusions, because it was amplified to an extent that every other feeling in his mind was squeezed away. He became more and more timid as the feeling of fear fully occupied his brain.
“Damn it. This grotesque sound won’t scare me… Yes, definitely.” Qinghan forced a smile, as he tried to persuade himself not to be controlled by these fearful feelings. A second later, he hurriedly closed his eyes, and used his Battle Qi to shut off his hearing and sight. Like a stiff robot, he walked mechanically up ahead.
At the beginning, he was glad that this tactic actually worked. It was true that the influence of the illusion would sharply be reduced if he couldn’t see or hear anything. When he was about ten meters away, however, he realized that this method was totally ineffective.
The closer he got to the tree, the more powerful the illusion would be. Now, the illusion was forcefully implanted in his brain, so there would be no use if he shut off all his senses. As long as his brain was working, the illusion would stick with him. Qinghan was left with no choice, since he couldn’t get his brain to stop. After all, how could he instruct his body to move forward if his brain didn’t work?
As the scarlet red sky turned dim and murky, Qinghan suddenly bumped into a hillside that was strewed with tombs. A ghostly white light was floating above the tombs. Whenever it was blown by the wind, there would sound out bone-chilling melodies; sometimes soft, like the sobbing of some wronged ghosts or the groaning of some amputated dead body; yet other times fierce, like the howl of the King of Hell… Usually, Qinghan wasn’t afraid of such horrifying scenes, which he found no different from the thriller series he had watched in his previous life. Also, given his experience in real battles, where he had relentlessly slaughtered so many demons and barbarians, how was it possible for him to be scared by such a small trick?
However… this time was different. He was in the illusion of fear! His usual courage and nerve had shrunken multiple times. It meant nothing for an emboldened adult to watch thrillers at midnight; but a child would be scared to death if he or she was exposed to such scenes. Now, in the illusion, Qinghan became such a timid child.
Under the overwhelming influence of the illusion, Qinghan’s fear had been multiplied to a new degree. The moment he “saw” these scenes, he could only respond to it with shrieking screams and the temptation to run away…
“No! I cannot retreat! This is just an illusion! I’ve died once, what am I afraid of? The worst scenario for me is to die another time!”
Suddenly, a stubborn determination took hold of Qinghan’s mind, as he was turning sober-minded. Miraculously, the fear was somehow suppressed by this newly emerged determination. He began to crazily run forward, and his eyes only focused on the top of the ancient tree, where the dark red spirit fruit radiated…
Despite his staunch determination to get the spirit fruit, his footsteps slowed down, as he had met with obstructive forces along the way. Numerous claws made of white bones popped out from the ground, clinging to the edge of his trousers and ankles.
This was probably the weirdest feeling Qinghan had ever experienced. Although he knew crystal clear that it was but a mere illusion, he just couldn’t get rid of the false feeling that he was being dragged down or something… Gradually, he slowed down once again…
“It’s not real!”
Qinghan repeated to himself that all these were illusions, and his body was safe and sound. Despite all his efforts to stay sober, his body reacted almost by intuition in front of these scenes.
“Ah… no more walking. These white claws have accumulated to the amount of a hill!”
Looking at the thick-dotted bones along the way, with many still reaching out in his direction. Qinghan’s increasingly wished to run away. He was on the brink of running away…