The Godless one



  • Chapter 31: The fall of the patriarchs.

    The disciples of the Shen clan were furious upon seeing the headless corpse of their patriarch, that demon hadn't even left him with a whole body! But while they were furious, the ones disregarding everything and charging at Huang Ying were only a minority.

    They had seen how the disciples from the Zhong clan that charged out were slaughtered, the only thing left of those disciples were their clothes, it was like they had simply vanished.

    Watching their fellow disciples charge out, the ones staying behind wanted to say something, but before they even got that chance, the massive black serpent move once again. The disciples that charged out didn't even get a chance to scream, they simply vanished into the maw of the serpent.

    The serpent coiled itself in front of the disciples, staring coldly at them, it's large yellow eyes devoid of all emotions.

    “Boy, leave the young ones out of this! There is no need to kill children like them!” The Yuan patriarch shouted at Huang Ying. He didn't care much about the disciples of the other clans, but if the disciples of his own clan ended up getting the same fate, that would simply be tragic.

    Huang Ying slightly turned his head before looking at the Yuan patriarch like he was looking at an idiot.

    “Leave the young ones out of this? No need to kill children? Fuck off, most of if not all of those people are older than me, I haven't even turned 15 yet. Did any of that stop you from trying to kill me? Besides, all they have to do is stay back like good little children, if they do, nothing will happen to them.”

    The Yuan patriarch was slightly stunned at Huang Ying's reply, he truly hadn't thought about it as they were fighting, but the one killing them was only a child, not even 15 yet. What a frightening child. The Yuan patriarch was sure that he could not let this child live, otherwise he would most certainly be a disaster for the Yuan clan.

    But as he thought about it a bit more, was there even anything he could do to this child? Two of the patriarchs had already died at his hands, he even seemed to still be at full power, even a bit more energetic. Could he really kill this child? Did he have enough power to do so?

    “Indeed, we didn't think about it. Child, my Yuan clan is willing to forget all our past grievances. I am even willing to forgive you for killing my son, all I ask is that you let us leave here.” Alas, the Yuan patriarch truly wasn't confident in his chances of killing the child in front of him, so he could only reluctantly pull back for now.

    “Heh, now you want to leave? You come in full force to kill me, but think that you can just leave once things look bad for you? Do I really look that easy to bully? You came to kill me, I came to kill you. If I was weaker, you wouldn't even waste time trying to talk to me.”

    little did he expect the mocking voice of the boy to sound out, loudly proclaiming his intent to take his life.

    As the sound of Huang Ying's voice faded, Huang Ying had already started his attack on the Mo patriarch. Crimson halberd in hand, Huang Ying looked like a war god with his white hair swaying in the wind, surrounded by flying pieces of ice.

    Huang Ying attacked the Mo patriarch with everything he had, every attack filled with every ounce of his strength. While activating his Bloodline limit would greatly increase his power, it also drained him heavily, had it not been for the energy he got from his Baku, whether or not he could keep it active for this long was uncertain. Luckily, the world did not lack for suicidal fools.

    “How dare you talk to our patriarch like that!”

    “You should respect your elders! He was even willing to give you a way out, but you were too stupid to see what was good for you!”

    “Follow me junior brothers and sisters, how can we call ourselves people of the Yuan clan if we allow just anyone to insult our patriarch!”

    The disciples of the Yuan clan were completely enraged at the disrespectful way Huang Ying was talking to their patriarch and charged at him in a frenzy. Before the Yuan patriarch had time to say anything, the disciples had already charged into the range of the black serpent. The serpent did not hesitate as it charged into the fray, decimating and massacring the disciples of the Yuan sect.

    Using the surge of energy coming to him from the bodies of the Yuan disciples, Huang Ying slammed the tip of the halberd straight through the Mo patriarch's chest, piercing his heart and reaping his life with a single strike.

    Huang Ying pulled out the halberd from the Mo patriarch's chest, dragging with it parts of his inner organs, letting the Mo patriarch fall to the ground. Placing his palm on the chest of the Mo patriarch, Huang Ying stared coldly at the disciples of the Mo clan, letting them know exactly what would happen if they dared attack.

    “Really now, aren't you being a bit ruthless with your actions little Ying? Mass murder? Maybe you are more suited to be a cultivator than I thought.” Li Jun's voice rang out in Huang Ying's mind with a chuckle.

    “Why should I bother sparing people who want me dead? Anyone who wants me dead, as long as they live, I will never be able to truly have a good rest, nor will I or anyone I care about be safe. So it is simply best to kill them as quickly as I can. If you come with the intent to kill, you must also be prepared to be killed.” Huang Ying spoke in a matter-of-fact tone before ignoring Li Jun's chuckle.

    In the end, none of the Mo clan disciples dared take that step forward, instead choosing to flee at their fastest speed. Huang Ying simply ignored them as he turned to the Yuan patriarch, whose entire face had been drained off all color. He had brought with him almost 60 disciples, all of them were his clan's brightest hopes. Now they were all dead, and he was the one who brought them with him to their depths.

    Looking at the cold eyes of the boy in front of him, the Yuan patriarch already knew that there was no way he was going to be able to escape today. The boy in front of him simply seemed more like a Demonic beast than a human, reaping lives with every step he took, a calamity in the shape of a child.

    “Hehe, it seems like there really is no way to escape death today, and here I thought my life would be a beautiful symphony.” The Yuan patriarch looked at Huang Ying as he spoke with a self deprecating laugh.

    “No matter how beautifull the symphony, one wrong note and the entire symphony will fall apart. Failing to kill me back then was your wrong note.” Huang Ying spoke in calm voice as he looked at the Yuan patriarch.

    A surprised exclamation, followed by the sound of flesh being pierced rang out behind Huang Ying. Slightly turning his head, Huang Ying saw the Tao patriarch leaned over the body of the Zhong matriarch, hand on her interspatial ring. A large spike of ice had grown out from the ground beneath the Zhong patriarch, piercing through her body and into the Tao patriarch's chest.

    Blood gurgled out from the Tao patriarch's mouth as he stiffly twisted his head towards Huang Ying and gave him a disbelieving look, before his eyes lost all light and his body fell over, leaning on the ice spike.

    “Really, such a petty man, even gave up on fighting to steal some loot instead. How did someone like you become a patriarch.” Huang Ying merely shook his head at the sight before turning back to the Yuan patriarch, who was now the last enemy.

    Ever since the fighting began, Huang Ying had circulated portions of his Qi towards his feet, leaving behind small amounts of it wherever he stepped. This would allow him to activate the Ice Qi stored in the ground to work as traps whenever someone walked by them. Since he was going to be fighting 1v5, there was no point in fighting completely fair, traps and schemes were fair game.

    Lifting the crimson halberd in his hand and pointing it straight at the Yuan patriarch, Huang Ying spoke.

    “Now you are the last one left, and you will not be able to win.”

    Huang Ying spoke with an indifferent voice and slowly walked towards the Yuan patriarch, gathering up energy with every step, an imposing air slowly spreading from him as he gathered more and more momentum.

    The Yuan patriarch gathered up all his Qi, making it flourish as an earthen yellow shield of light covering his entire body. Taking on a horse stance, he stared straight at Huang Ying and shouted in a deep voice. “COME THEN!”

    Huang Ying arrived in front of him and transferred all the gathered energy into the head of the halberd, covering it in a layer of deep black ice, a fusion of his Ice and Devouring Qi. Grabbing the handle of the halberd with both arms, Huang Ying swung the halberd with all his might, the edge of the blade slicing through the Yuan patriarch's defense like mud, separating his head from his shoulders.

    Placing his palm on the chest of the Yuan patriarch and circulating his Devouring Qi, Huang Ying finished what he returned to Yellow Winds Town for.

    Glancing at everyone still in the courtyard, Huang Ying opened his mouth and spoke in a cold voice.

    “Now then, i'll be taking everything that you have in your treasuries. This is not a suggestion or me asking you, I am ordering you. Give me everything or die.”

    Hearing his words, the people present were wishing that they could give him their belongings even one second faster, just so that this fiend would leave their town a second faster.
  • Chapter 32: Willow's Heart.

    Contrary to what the people of the clans hoped, Huang Ying didn't leave Yellow Winds Town immediately. Instead, he returned to the room he had rented and locked himself up inside, not leaving the room for almost an entire week.

    Whilst the people of the clans assumed that he had locked himself away to organize all the items he had pillaged from their treasuries, the truth was that Huang Ying had locked himself away in the room to recuperate.

    Activating the Bloodline limit placed a massive strain on both his physical body as well as his Qi. The entire week Huang Ying spent in the room, was spent in bed, devoid of all forms of energy.

    After spending almost an entire week in bed, Huang Ying had finally regained control over his body, allowing him to move normally again.

    Clenching his hands and making sure that there was no sequelae left behind, Huang Ying gave a satisfied smile. While the Bloodline limit placed a large strain on him, the increase it gave in power was definitely worth it.

    “So Li Jun, how do I go about breaking into the 9th heaven? In the information you gave me at the start it simply stated 'wait'?” Huang Ying spoke out a question that had been on his mind for a little while.

    “There is no way to 'go about' breaking into the 9th heaven. Waiting is all you can do. Cultivation is an act that goes against the heavens, so at some point, the heavens will send a heavenly tribulation after you. The first heavenly tribulation for cultivators occurs at some point after they have reached the 8th heaven. At that point, the heavens will recognize that you are attempting to go against their rules, resulting in a heavenly tribulation.”

    “You will have to direct the energy from that tribulation into your Qi crystal, shattering it and allowing it to form into a world seed. You will naturally know when the heavenly tribulation arrives, so for now, all you can do is wait.”

    Ever since Li Jun's schemes had been unveiled by Huang Ying, he had become more cooperative, willingly sharing most of his information and experiences. Whether this was due to the fact that he realized that it would be easier to have Huang Ying help him with the creation of a new body if he was friendlier, or due to the fact that his life was in the hands of Huang Ying, only Li Jun knew.

    After Huang Ying spent some time organizing and sorting all the things he had acquired from the treasuries, he ended up with several interspatial rings filled with goods. Some were filled with herbs, some with weapons, food, water, and other miscellaneous objects.

    Huang Ying decided to pick the cheapest and smallest of the interspatial rings to wear, and stored all the other rings in that one. If the ring he wore looked cheap and common, the odds of getting attacked and robbed because of his wealth would lower drastically.

    While Huang Ying wasn't afraid of getting attacked by normal robbers, once someone stronger came for his wealth, or the amount of times people tried to rob him added up, it would quickly become a bother.

    Leaving the inn not long after breakfast the next morning, Huang Ying started his journey towards the capital. The path from Yellow Winds Town to the capital, could almost be called a straight road, going directly from Yellow Winds to the capital, only having one other small town along the way.

    The capital of Green Willows was called Willow's Heart and was located at the center of the continent and was also the home of Green Willows emperor, Yang Wei. Green Willows called itself a continent, but it was only a little bigger than a normal country. The only reason the emperor could call it a continent was because The Wilderness separated Green Willows from the rest of the continent, giving it a corner of the continent to itself.

    Standing outside the entrance to Willow's Heart, even though Huang Ying had seen it in some of the memories he devoured, he was still shocked at the size of it. The emperor had never been pleased with Green Willows being just a tiny, inconsequential place in the world. To make himself feel more important, the first emperor of Green Willows had made sure that the capital was massive in size. Each consecutive emperor after him improved on parts of the capital, slowly making it larger and larger.

    The current Willow's Heart holds a population of almost one million people, almost five times as many as the second largest city on Green Willows. Most of the buildings in the city were colored in an earthen yellow or other earthy colors, only buildings that got a special permit from the royal family could be a different color. A portion of the buildings in the city were emerald green in color, only buildings that had ties to the royal family could be colored emerald green as it was the color of the royal family and their guardian beast.

    In the middle of the city, a massive palace loomed over the entire city, visible from almost every corner of the city. The palace was deep green in color and surrounded by large towers and even a small forest. This was the imperial palace, the Yang palace. The legends state that the forest surrounding the capital is the home of the companion pet of the first emperor, a forest Qilin that still guards the imperial family.

    Huang Ying paid the toll to enter the city before quickly finding an inn to rest and collect his thoughts. Willow's Heart is the only city in Green Willows that holds a spatial array connected to the world beyond The Wilderness. The spatial array was in the hands of the imperial family, so if one wanted to use the spatial array to leave Green Willows, one needed either a special permit from the imperial family or be a student of the city's largest academy, Willow's Hope.

    Willow's Hope was established by a cultivator who originated from Green Willows, but ended up leaving. He returned once to establish Willow's Hope in an attempt to help the people of Green Willows to reach greater heights. The current principal of Willow's Hope is a descendant of that very man, and his words are almost worth as much as the emperor's.

    The main reason his words are worth so much are a mixture of the amount of people that graduated from Willow's Hope and went on to leave Green Willows and become powerful in their own right. Another reason is because no one knows if the original founder is still alive or not, if it turns out that he is still alive and they end up offending Willow's Hope, it could spell doom for the entire imperial family.

    While being a student at Willow's Hope could allow you to use the spatial array, that was only under the condition that you showed enough promise to be worth activating the spatial array or that the academy was going on a trip to visit the other academies beyond The Wilderness.

    After Huang Ying arrived at the inn, he only stopped for a short while before leaving again. Willow's Hope wouldn't start accepting new students before the end of the month, so Huang Ying still had almost two weeks of time. Rather than simply waste this time in the inn, he decided that since cultivating wouldn't do much at the moment, he might as well spend his time in the public library, gathering as much knowledge as he could before the entrance exams.

    He had already planned a little about what he would study. Knowing the history of Green Willows would be of no use, for cultivation knowledge he had Li Jun and the academy. After factoring in what he already knew after going through the memories he had devoured, he decided to focus his studies on the process of alchemy and forging. Getting more knowledge in these would also allow him to start attempting and experimenting with them once he entered the academy.

    If the academy got in someone who could not only forge, but also do alchemy, and had a high cultivation level for his age, there was no way they wouldn't send him out of Green Willows. With these thoughts in mind, Huang Ying started spending his days either in the library or checking out some of the alchemy shops and forges around town, waiting for the day of the entrance exam.

  • Chapter 33: Willow's Hope (1)

    The sun rose over the capital, dying the sky a burning shade of pink. In the capital, there was none of the usual morning tiredness. The streets were lively and people were scuttling around.

    Most of the traffic in the streets was flowing in one direction, towards Willow's Hope. The gates of the academy were closed and gave off an imposing air, standing just outside the gate were five people standing in a line, one in front of the other, each holding a smooth azure mirror surrounded by baubles.

    The academy itself was painted a bright orange and was almost as large as the imperial palace, taking up almost 50 kilometers with all it's buildings and training areas. The entire premise was surrounded by a tall iron fence, blocking people from entering, but not from looking in.

    the inside of the academy looked like a slice of paradise, there were small patches of forest, lakes and even a mountain, all interweaved by buildings that seemed like immortal palaces.

    Outside the gate, a small bit away from the five people holding the mirrors stood a large group of people. The group of people was divided into two parts, at the front stood a large group of children, the youngest looking no older than 10 and the oldest looking almost 18. A small distance behind these youths stood an even larger group of adults, looking at the kids with either pride or encouragement.

    Huang Ying stood amidst the group of children, occupying a small spot alone, the cold air and energy fluctuations radiating from him making the youths not dare step closer to him.

    Huang Ying had already thought about it earlier, and even talked about it with Li Jun. His purpose in coming to the academy was to use it to get permission to use the spatial array. The only way to get permission to do so, was to either show that he had enough potential to warrant using the spatial array, or do participate in the tournament between academies taking place on the main continent in another three months.

    No matter which one of these he wanted to achieve, it meant that he had to stand out amongst everyone. He couldn't use his Devouring Qi, as that would attract too much attention which would lead to unforeseen consequences, he couldn't show off the Qi he could produce by merging his Ice Qi with his Devouring Qi, so the only thing he could use was his Ice Qi and strong physical body.

    One of the five men, the one standing first in line shouted out an order and the group of youths started making their way towards him. After getting the youths to stand in line, the man in front started slowly going through them. Getting them to place their hand on the mirror. For some, the baubles on the mirror would light up, while for others they would stay dark.

    If the baubles lit up, the youth would stand to the side and wait, if it didn't all the youths could do was leave with a dejected face, greeted only by the stiff smiles of their family. Willow's Hope had no requirements to birthplace or status, all it cared about were age, cultivation, and talent.

    The first mirror checked a person's bone age, if the age of the person's bones was over 18 years, that person would have passed his most valuable cultivation time and would thus be rejected by the academy. The line of children was unusually quiet, even the children who were under 18 looked nervous, only a few of the youths still had calm looks on their faces.

    It didn't take long before it was Huang Ying's turn. The examiner, a normal looking youth who looked no older than 20, raised his eyebrows a little upon noticing the cold air surrounding Huang Ying, but he still gave him an indifferent order. Seeing that there was no problem with Huang Ying's bone age, only being a bit short of 15 years, the examiner gave Huang Ying a deep glance before waving him to the side of the other youths.

    The rest of the youths didn't take long to examine, a large majority of them having to retreat with dejected faces. Some even came back with their parents in tow, trying to bribe, beg, or even threaten the examiner to accept them, but all they met with was a cold snort and a turned back.

    The examiner stored the mirror before leading the youths who had passed so far to the next examiner. From the large group of youths at the start, almost 60% of them had already been rejected at the first test.

    The next test was a test of element and purity, one circulated their elemental Qi in their palm and placed the palm on the mirror. The surface of the mirror would show the elemental mark while the baubles would light up with a light. Depending on the color and luminosity of the light, it was possible to examine the element's purity. If the baubles didn't light up, it meant that the purity of the element wasn't high enough, or that the element itself was un-pure. Such people would also be rejected as their future potential was limited unless they had some lucky chances.

    Since there were now fewer youths being tested, it went slightly faster this time around. After waiting for about 15 minutes, Huang Ying, who stood furthest at the back was up. Another 30% of the group had been rejected, having to leave like the ones before them, but even then, there were still several hundred youths standing at the side, waiting to go to the next test.

    The best result anyone had gotten so far was gotten by a handsome, scholarly looking youth that was holding a green jade fan. He wore a luxurious robe and wore an arrogant expression. His result had been a purity level 3 fire element. Purity was divided into levels, much like the Nine Heavens or Demonic beasts. Most people started at purity level 0, and only after their bodies had become completely accustomed to their element would the purity rise to it's actual level, often around level 1-2.

    the only way to raise ones elemental purity afterwards was using certain treasures or by training in places that contained Natural Energy that was not just of your element, but that was also of a higher purity than yours.

    Huang Ying stepped in front of the mirror and without saying any pointless words, he placed his hand on the mirror as he circulated his Ice Qi. The surface of the mirror slowly started accumulating frost as a snowflake mark appeared on the mirror, indicating that the element used was the ice element.

    Alongside this mark came an almost blinding white light from the baubles, drowning out the light from the sky. After keeping his hand on the mirror for a short while, Huang Ying retracted his hand, small particles of ice still dancing around his fingers.

    “Ho? Ice element with purity of the 6th level?” The examiner of the first test gave a surprised remark before glancing at the man who had the second best result, the boy with fire element of the 3rd level. The boy was rather well known as someone who was arrogant since he had a better starting point than others, he also hated being worse than others. Just like the examiner thought, the boy's current face was gloomy, staring at Huang Ying, trying to remember if he had ever heard of this boy before.

    The examiner took his eyes of the boy, whatever happened inside the academy was none of his concern, he simply gave Huang Ying another glance before bringing those who passed towards the next test.

    The third test checked a person's bodily strength, getting rejected at this test was hard, as the body naturally grew stronger after it got accustomed to the element, but it was still possible if one used large quantities of medical herbs, making their foundation unsteady.

    Huang Ying was the last one to head up again, but even he was rather surprised to see that the one who got the best result before him was a tall and elegant lady with light yellow hair and green eyes. He found it hard to imagine that such a soft looking body could contain such explosive force.

    The third test was slightly different from the two first, instead of using your palm, you had to drop a bit of your blood on the mirror. The mirror would then absorb the blood and examine the amount of power and vitality lurking in the blood.

    Making a small cut in his thumb, Huang Ying dripped a drop of blood onto the mirror. The drop swiftly sank into the mirror and the baubles lit up with a bright yellow light, looking like the eyes of a divine dragon. The brighter and clearer the light of the baubles, the stronger the blood was.

    “Seems like a little monster is going to be joining us, the Academy Selection this year seems like it is going to get rather fun.” Seeing the baubles light up, the examiner couldn't help but mumble to himself as the scholarly looking youth got even gloomier.

    First he had lost to that girl and now to this kid again, when had he ever gotten put down like this? He made up his mind that once he got into the academy he would get his servants to check up where this kid came from. If the kid didn't have any background, antagonizing him a bit was no problem, but if the kid had a strong backer, it was best just to back away.

    The fourth test was a test of cultivation, it simply tested what stage you were at and how steady your foundation was. If one was below the 4th heaven, one would be rejected. In the backwards corners like Azure Springs, being at the 5th heaven was good enough to lord over a small town, but in the capital there were many times the resources of Azure Springs, so breaking through the earlier heavens was also much easier.

    The girl with the yellow hair had reached the 5th heaven and had the second highest cultivation, the highest before Huang Ying walked up was the scholarly looking youth who was at the 7th heaven.

    The youths left in the group looked at the scholarly looking youth with some admiration, he was no older than 17, but already at the 7th heaven. The girl with yellow hair was also 17, but only at the 5th heaven. The others there were all below that, most of them at the 4th heaven. Some of them were even older than the scholarly looking boy.

    The scholarly looking boy enjoyed the looks of admiration from the crow. He was just about to give an elegant smile and take the chance to have a chat with some of the youths when a bright light flared up behind him. Ignoring the unease he felt, he turned around and the smile that was growing on his lips froze.

    Huang Ying stood in front of the mirror, his palm lightly touching it's smooth surface as eight of the baubles surrounding the mirror lit up, indicating that he was already at the 8th heaven.

    The corner of the scholarly looking youth's mouth twitched as he looked at those eight shining points. He himself had only gotten to the 7th heaven at his age because his clan had invested a large amounts of resources in him, yet this brat who was two years younger than him had a cultivation level that was one step higher than his? Who exactly was this brat?

    Seeing the eight points of light, the examiner who brought them through the tests wasn't too shocked, the moment he saw this kid he had a feeling that he wasn't normal. Upon trying to scan his cultivation level with his perception, he was shocked to discover that whenever his perception got within five meters of the youth, it simply froze and dissipated. The youth even seemed to notice him at that time as he cast a glance at him. This was also the main reason he decided to follow the group of youths through the tests, he wanted to see what level this kid had reached.

    The group of youths looked at him, some with shock, some gloomy, and some with interest, but Huang Ying simply ignored them and proceeded to head to the next, and last test.

    The last test was a test of talent, the mirror would send a minor probe of energy through your body and use a mixture of the purity of your Qi, bone age, cultivation level, bodily strength, and even if you had a bloodline to decided what your talent and future potential was. Upon coming to a decision on your talent, the mirror would light up with words, indicating what level your talent was. There were six talent rankings, starting from lowest: Guard, Knight, General, King, Emperor, Immortal.

    At this point in time, there were only around 15 people left in the testing. Over 1000 people had been rejected to reach this point, showing just how high Willow's Hope's standards were.

    The most noteworthy ones among the other youths were the girl with the yellow hair that got a talent rating of Knight, and the scholarly looking boy who got a talent rating of General. Huang Ying initially thought that these ratings were rather poor, but upon seeing how elated the girl and the scholarly boy were at their rating, it seemed like it was him who didn't know enough about the rating system.

    Stepping up to the mirror, all eyes converged on Huang Ying, but he seemed to not even notice as he leisurely placed his hand on the mirror. A warm stream of energy entered his body through the mirror, running through his body. As the energy had gone through most of his body, the words 'King' slowly started appearing on the mirror, prompting surprised exclamations from the small group of youths.

    Huang Ying was just about to remove his hand from the mirror when the warm stream of energy entered his dantian and even made contact with the black and white Qi crystal revolving in his dantian. Half of the warm energy instantly disappeared before the energy even had the time to think about retreating.

    The energy seemed to have sensed it's natural energy as it swiftly retreated, rushing back into the mirror. As it rushed back into the mirror, the word 'king' swiftly disappeared, what replaced it was the world 'immortal'. The surrounding group of youths was stunned into silence, even the scholarly youth had a shocked look. 'king' level talent was one thing, the academy would probably see one every five years, but someone with 'immortal' level talent was rarely seen even every 1000 years, and they would almost always have truly shocking backgrounds. Thinking about this, the scholarly youth was even more determined to find out this kid's background.

    The examiner was also stunned into silence, but he quickly regained himself. Quickly storing the mirror, he brought the group of youths who passed into the academy, someone with this level of talent and strength would definitely need to be reported to one of the head teachers.

  • Chapter 34: Willow's Hope (2)

    Entering the academy seemed to isolate them from the rest of the world. As they entered the gate, all sound from the crowd outside the gate simply vanished, what replaced it was a pleasant silence that calmed the mind. After stepping through the gate, they were on a long pathway that continued winding on deeper into the academy.

    Following this path seemed to take them along the scenic route, winding around several of the lakes and even a mountain, before taking them to a large completely square shaped building surrounded by large jade pillars engraved with the shapes of different animals.

    The first examiner took them past the pillars and through a large iron gate, bringing them into a large room. The room was furnished in a way that made it seem like it was divided into two halves.

    One side was the side where they entered, and there was no furniture except for some potted plants and torches on the walls. On the other side, the room was furnished with several tables and chairs, but the furniture stopped at the halfway point of the room.

    The group of youths entered into the empty part of the room, and opposite of them, in the furnished part, sat several people. The people were of all ages and shapes. There were some women, some men, some young, some old.

    The people sat spread around at all the tables and chairs, but there was one white haired old man who sat with his eyes closed and seemed to be seated directly in the middle of all the people.

    Huang Ying swept his gaze past all the people sitting in front of them. Using his energy vision, he could see the energy fluctuations and even element of almost all the people sitting in front of him. He could see their energy, but he had no way of seeing their actual cultivation level.

    Noticing this, Huang Ying was tempted to scold Li Jun and ask him just how old his information was, the old bastard had told him that a cultivation of the 9th heaven was someone with a big deal on this tiny continent, but seeing these people, that statement seemed like an absolute joke.

    Huang Ying's gaze ended up on the old man sitting with his eyes closed and his eyes faintly narrowed. Not even when he was using his energy vision could he see any energy fluctuations from this old man. This could either mean that the man was a normal mortal, his cultivation level was much too high for Huang Ying to see it, or that he had enough control over his Qi to completely detain it in his body, not letting any of it leak.

    Huang Ying wasn't stupid enough to believe that a normal mortal could sit in the midst of all these cultivators, so it could only be one of the other reasons, but no matter which one it was, it meant that the strength of this old man was currently unfathomable to Huang Ying.

    After the group of youths lined up, the people sitting let their gazes roam around the youths, measuring and evaluating them. After looking at the youths in silence for a few minutes, a middle aged woman with brown hair and wearing a simple purple linen robe spoke up.

    “Ma Wu, would you be willing to join my Morning Sparrow class?” The woman rested her eyes upon the tall girl with the yellow hair.

    “This little one would be honored to join Teacher Han's class.” The girl with the yellow hair, Ma Wu, gave a bow before walking over and standing behind the middle aged woman, Teacher Han.

    In Willow's Hope, while they did indeed have different classes for people at different ages, and with different elements, if one's performance during the entrance tests was good enough, it was possible to be moved to different classes.

    Huang Ying didn't know too much about the different classes or even how things were done at Willow's Hope, all he knew were things he had either overheard others talk about, or things he felt like he needed to know, so he asked others about it.

    The next one to speak up was an elegant middle aged man clad in a refined green robe, he had soft features and long black hair that reached down to his hips. His eyes landed on the scholarly looking boy and his mouth formed a proud smile.

    “Yang Ning, would you be willing to join my Verdant Qilin class?” The elegant man spoke with a melodious voice, calming down anyone who listened to it.

    “This little one would be honored to join Uncle Teacher Yang's class.” The scholarly looking boy, Yang Ning, gave a small bow before walking over and standing behind the elegant man, a slight arrogance visible between his eyebrows.

    Huang Ying was slightly surprised at the names of these two. In the capital, only people who belonged to the imperial family were allowed to use the surname Yang. Even people who came from different parts of Green Willows continent would have to use a different surname upon entering the capital, so these two were clearly part of the imperial clan.

    Thinking of this Huang Ying couldn't help but give a cold snort in his heart, no wonder this youth had looked so arrogant all along, he was relying on his family. The quiet selection process continued, until most of the people seated had each chosen a single student each. The few that hadn't chosen any students simply sat there with bored expressions, seemingly not interested in choosing any.

    The last one standing in the line was Huang Ying, but none of the teachers chose him, instead looking at him with slightly confused expressions. Some of the teachers who hadn't chosen any students yet looked like they wanted to open their mouths a few times, but always stopped before saying anything. The silence persisted for a little while before they simultaneously turned to look at the old man who still had his eyes closed.

    In response to their looks, the old man opened his eyes and his gaze landed on Huang Ying. Huang Ying felt an uncomfortable sensation run through his body, like a pair of eyes were scanning his everything. When the sensation moved through his dantian, Huang Ying's tension rose to a max as he put up his guard, he was uncertain if this old man was capable of sensing the Devouring Qi.

    Luckily, he didn't seem to notice anything as his scan quickly ended. The old man gave Huang Ying another quick one over before opening his mouth.

    “Little child, what is your name? And where are you from, I don't believe I have ever heard about you in the capital before.” The old man spoke slowly, his voice dripping with the vicissitude of time.

    Huang Ying was slightly taken aback, was this the reason no one had spoken to him yet? Because they didn't know his name? Huang Ying quickly threw this idea out of his mind, if that truly was the reason, these people were simply too awkward.

    “My name is Huang Ying, I come From Azure Springs.” Huang Ying gave a small nod as he spoke to the old man, acting neither overbearing nor servile.

    “Azure Springs....Azure Springs.... Ah, that little village hidden away at the edge of Green Willows, now I remember. It seems like you have traveled far my child. Would you be interested in joining my Endless Journey class?” The old man's eyes revealed a touch of surprise as he mentioned Azure Springs, evidently not expecting that someone from that small village could reach such a level at such a tender age.

    The other people around the old man revealed shocked expressions as he asked Huang Ying to join his class, some of them were even thinking to themselves. 'He has a class of his own? But he has never taken in any students! How could he be a teacher?'

    As Huang Ying was thinking about the old man's offer and the shocked expressions of the other people, the old man's voice rang out by his ears, but this time it had a mischievous tone to it.

    “Hehe, little boy if you want to get permission to use the spatial array, that permission has to come from me. If I refuse to give the permission, you will have to find a different way to use the spatial array. So you best accept my offer.”

    As the voice rang out in his ears, Huang Ying was shocked, but he still maintained a calm appearance as he raised his head. Looking at the expressions of the people around the old man, it seemed like they couldn't hear his words.

    Huang Ying locked eyes with the old man, and seeing the triumphant expression in his eyes, like a child who had succeeded at a prank, Huang Ying could only give a wry smile.

    “Fine, I accept.” After he finished speaking, he walked over and stood behind the old man. Ignoring the gazes boring into him as he stood there, he couldn't help but think to himself. 'Seems like this old man has a much higher position than any of the other people here, they even react so strongly to someone speaking to him without groveling.'

    After Huang Ying was selected by the old man, all the teachers took the students they had chosen and went their separate ways, heading to different buildings. Huang Ying followed the old man to a small wooden cabin located next to a small lake filled with fish.

    The interior of the cabin was simple, consisting of simply a small kitchen corner, a bed, a table and two chairs. Sitting down at the table, the old man filled two cups with tea and beckoned over Huang Ying.

    “My name is Xu Yin, I can be considered the headmaster of Willow's Hope. You are probably wondering how I knew what you came here for.” The old man spoke as Huang Ying was sitting down. The old man looked like a calm and refined grandfather as he drank the tea, but his voice was tinged with a sense of amusement and accomplishment.

    “I can't say that i'm not interested.” Huang Ying spoke bluntly as he grabbed the tea cup, since he was already discovered, what was the point in pretending.

    “Hehe, are you ready for this little boy?” Xu Yin stopped after asking, seemingly attempting to raise the expectations.

    “I guessed.” Xu Yin finished his sentence and started laughing upon seeing Huang Ying's expression that seemed to have been completely deflated.

    “I tried to think of various reasons as to why a little kid like you would have not just a strong body, but also a high cultivation and elemental purity. Upon hearing you say that you were from that tiny little village, I truly couldn't think of anything. So I ventured a guess that you were probably picked up by a traveling cultivator who wanted you to leave Green Willows, so he sent you here.” Xu Yin chuckled as he explained. He had truly only guessed, but seeing Huang Ying's reaction when he mentioned the spatial array, he knew that his guess was right.

    “So, I don't assume you accepted me and told me all this just to kindly hand over the permission immediately right? What do you gain from this?” Huang Ying put down the tea cup after silently cursing this old bastard in his heart. 'Guessing? And he was even right? You're supposed to be a headmaster right? Well fucking act like it, shameless old goat.'

    Xu Yin finished chuckling and looked at Huang Ying with some appreciation. “Truly, negotiations move along much faster when you aren't talking with idiots. I'll make it simple, in three months we will have to send a batch of students through the spatial array to participate in the Academy Battle.”

    “As it stands right now, we have no one in your age group who has good enough strength to get any decent results. You join us, participate in the Academy Battle, get a good result, and I will set up a place for you over there after the Academy Battle.”

    “We get to win some honor back at the Academy Battle and you get to leave Green Willows and experience the world. We both win, and lose nothing.”

    Xu Yin finished talking and looked at Huang Ying who was currently digesting the information. Mistaking it, thinking that Huang Ying was still hesitating, Xu Yin spoke up again.

    “I will of course let you keep any rewards that you win at the Academy Battle.”

    Huang Ying finished digesting the information and raised his head to look at Xu Yin. Thinking that participating in a tournament like this would surely let him fight a few could fights, allowing him to test out some of the techniques he found in some memories, Huang Ying gave a ferocious smile.

  • Chapter 35: Willow's Hope (3)

    Xu Yin gave a slight chuckle at Huang Ying's approval and started explaining the facilities of the school. He thought about explaining how the Academy Battle would be done, but there was no point as it could just be explained when they were heading towards it.

    After listening to Xu Yin explain the facilities and how the school was set up for almost an entire hour, Huang Ying took his leave and left the small cottage. Outside the small cottage was a small path that weaved through the forest. Following this small path led Huang Ying to another small cottage a few short minutes away from Xu Yin's cottage.

    Entering the cottage revealed that the interior was just as simple as Xu Yin's, consisting of only a bed, a small kitchen area, a table and two chairs. The only difference between the two cottages was that in Huang Ying's, the floor was inscribed with several different interconnecting lines and symbols, forming a gathering array.

    A gathering array was considered a type of training array, it attracted the Natural Energy from a set range towards a focal point, the gathering array, allowing whoever sat in the center of the array to absorb the Natural Energy easier and faster.

    Huang Ying didn't stay in the cottage for long, only giving it a quick look over before leaving. He only had a short three months before the Academy Battle began, so they would leave the academy in at most two and a half months to start the journey.

    There wasn't much he could do to increase his strength massively in that short time period, nothing he could do openly at least, so he elected to make use of the school's facilities to practice his alchemy skills instead. He would leave the academy right after the Academy Battle, so he saw no use in trying to get to know any of the other students, and odds were that it would be hard to meet them even in the academy.

    The academy focused mostly on self study. Every week there would be a seminar where one of the teachers talked about the basics of cultivation. Other than that, there were also seminars every day where various teachers talked about their own experiences. To attend these seminars one would have to be the right age group and element. Some seminars were only for children that were around 12 years old and had certain elements, other people would either not understand anything of the seminar if they were too young, or already know everything if they were too old, so the seminars were specialized for people at certain age groups.

    Other than that the school had a large library that had books pertaining to most of the different aspects of cultivation, as well as some different ways to circulate your Qi to get a better, more efficient effect. The school had a small arena where students could spar and exchange pointers, a cafeteria that provided the food free of charge, and some facilities to allow the students to experiment with various occupations.

    Most students would listen to the seminars they felt were useful, then go and silently cultivate in their rooms, trying to increase their Qi and understanding of their own element. Once they encountered bottlenecks or things they didn't understand, they would either head to the arena to grow through combat, or talk to the teacher that had accepted them when they entered the school.

    Huang Ying went straight to the alchemy workshop and signed in, signifying that the workshop was occupied and that no one was to enter. The inside of the workshop was very simple, containing only a room to wash yourself, a large cauldron placed above a pit, a bench to place items on, and a formation to control the cauldron fire.

    Huang Ying sat down at the center of the formation, right in front of the cauldron, and inserted his Qi. If one had Qi of the fire element, a formation like this was useless, but to others, this formation allowed them to temporarily turn their Qi into fire element Qi, allowing them to practice alchemy.

    The practice of alchemy consisted of four main steps, these four main steps were: extracting the essence, purifying the essence, merging the essence, and solidifying the pill.

    Huang Ying decided to take it slow, throwing a small herb into the cauldron. Inserting his Qi into the formation, a small fire was lit up in the cauldron, slowly burning the herb. After burning the herb for a little while, most of the herb had turned to ash, what was left behind was only a light green liquid that was the size of a thumbnail.

    Huang Ying released a small breath as he looked at the small amount of liquid. Controlling the formation to control the heat and intensity of the flame was much harder than he expected, draining his mental energy and slowly tiring him out. Looking at the liquid and comparing it with what he had seen in the memories also revealed that he had been careless in his control, turning almost half the essence into ash along with the herb.

    Huang Ying put more Qi into the formation, increasing the intensity of the flame. The second step to alchemy was purifying the essence, letting the flame slowly roast it until all the impurities were removed.

    After roasting the essence for almost ten minutes, it had halved in size again, removing all the impurities. But Huang Ying was still not too pleased, he noticed that he had once again roasted away a portion of the pure essence, making it smaller than it was supposed to be.

    If a trained alchemist could read his thoughts, they would surely curse at him. Most alchemists spent a few months just to get used to the first step, extracting the essence, and even then they would often fail, yet he did this for the first time and was already able to complete the second step? Does he even want to let them live?

    After purifying the essence and taking it out of the cauldron, placing it into a small flask. Huang Ying continued practicing the first two steps with some of the smaller herbs he had taken from the patriarchs of Yellow Winds Town, slowly improving his control over the flame.

    Once he had extracted and purified the essence of different herbs over the span of a few days, his control had increased immensely, he still wasn't able to get all the essence out and not waste any, but he was getting closer.

    The only thing he had done in the past few days was extract the essence, purify it, then get some sleep. Upon waking up he would eat a little food before immediately delving back into the extracting process.

    After looking over all the vials of essence he had, he decided that today he would start practicing the next steps, merging the essence, and solidifying the pill. Placing the contents from a few of the vials into the cauldron, Huang Ying slowly put his Qi into the formation, allowing the flame to gently rise.

    Merging the essence was mainly about using the strength of his Qi to push the different essences towards and into each other, forcing them to merge. Slowly pushing the essences towards each other was even more mentally draining than it was to extract the essence, as the merging required him to focus his mind on all the different essences at once, preventing anything from happening.

    After slowly guiding the essences for almost half an hour, most of them had merged into a strange bluish paste that floated in the cauldron. Next to the paste were several smaller globs of differently colored liquid, this was the essence that Huang Ying was unable to merge into the paste, making it a waste. He wasn't too pleased with having so much waste, but he was okay with it as he managed to merge most of it.

    The essences that he didn't manage to merge slowly turned to ash under the grilling of the flame as Huang Ying moved on to the last step, solidifying the pill. To solidify the pill, one used a mixture of the heat from the flame, as well as the strength of one's Qi. You used the Qi to force the paste into a round shape, and the heat of the flame to solidify the exterior.

    The solidifying process was a slow and arduous task that required complete concentration, if you used too much heat, the entire pill would solidify, wasting the essence. If you used too much Qi to push it together, the entire thing would go out of balance and explode.

    Huang Ying wasn't too worried about this pill exploding as it didn't even have a grade, it was simply a tiny Qi Regeneration pill. But once the ingredients one used got better, it would also require stronger Qi and a stronger flame. There were also books about alchemy in the capital's library mentioning that once a pill or an ingredient reached a high enough level, they would gain a consciousness. Some would even be able to take on a human shape, forcing the alchemist to search even harder, or even fight with the ingredient before extracting the essence, or fighting the pill once it was done.

    Huang Ying poured all his concentration into the solidifying process, but since his mind was still slightly tired from the merging process, his concentration slipped for a small second. The slip resulted in the balance between his Qi and the flame breaking, scattering the entire pill and making the scattered paste shoot out of the cauldron, dirtying the walls and Huang Ying.

    Huang Ying exhaled and gave a sigh, seemed like he would have to take a small rest before trying again. He got up from the formation and headed into the washroom to clean himself quickly. Standing in front of the mirror, Huang Ying studied his face as he cleaned it. Looking at his pitch black hair and eyes always reminded Huang Ying of his old life in Azure Springs town and how much he had changed since then. Whenever he started thinking about Azure Springs, a headache would creep up on him and make his temples throb, so he quickly moved his eyes away.

    As he moved his eyes away, a purple glint caught his eyes. Looking at the glint, Huang Ying saw the plum blossom shaped hairpin fastened to his hair and was reminded of Jing He. Thinking about her, he couldn't help but sigh, he wasn't sure what he felt for Jing He.

    When she was next to him it felt like he could put away his cold and indifferent exterior, like he returned to those peaceful days at Azure Springs and become a proper person again. When she was taken away, he was filled with rage, he felt like her being taken away was like the heavens telling him that he had no right to be a normal person.

    At that time he cursed his own weakness, cursed that he was so weak that not only the heavens, but even other people could decide how his life would be, he felt powerless. That feeling of powerlessness was what turned into his greatest motivation. As long as he was stronger, no one, not even the heavens would be able to deny him anything, if he wanted to, he could be a normal person.

    Removing his eyes from the hairpin after re-affirming his determination, Huang Ying left the washroom and continued his arduous alchemy training, spending the days before the Academy Battle locked in the workshop.
  • Chapter 36: Leaving Green Willows.

    Before anyone had noticed, the two and a half months were up and the time to head to the Academy Battle had dawned. Xu Yin personally headed to the alchemy workshop, he had already gotten the news that Huang Ying had stayed in the workshop ever since he arrived at the academy, so finding him was not hard.

    “Oy, you little brat, are you intending to stay in here til the Academy Battle is over? Get your ass in gear, we will be leaving in three short hours.” Xu Yin spoke loudly as he simply walked into the workshop without knocking.

    “Fucking hell geezer, would it kill you to knock first?” Since Xu Yin simply walked in without knocking, he ended up giving Huang Ying a slight shock, ruining the purifying process he was working on.

    “Tch, cheeky little brat, this is my academy, I don't need to do what you say.” Xu Yin clicked his tongue at Huang Ying and threw him a vial of pills.

    “This is?” Huang Ying played with the vial of pills, but without actually smelling or making the pills himself, it would be hard to know exactly what type of pills they were.

    “Just some simple Qi recovery pellets, the academy provides them so that the students who participate in the Academy Battle won't suddenly run out between fights.” Xu Yin cast a glance around the room as he spoke. “Quickly go wash yourself, i'll get someone else to clean here.”

    “Yeah Yeah, don't worry, it's not like I can skip out on this Academy Battle.” Huang Ying threw his hands up in the air in exasperation as he went to the washroom to quickly clean himself and change into a new robe.

    After putting on a fresh robe, Huang Ying and the others that would participate in the Academy Battle gathered up at the entrance of the academy. Including Huang Ying, there were 16 youths there. Xu Yin explained to Huang Ying that each academy would bring 16 participants. Four that were 15 years old, four that were 16, four that were 17, and four that were 18.

    the tournament would be fought using a standard format. They would start with four brackets, one for each age group. The academies would decide on the order in which the age groups would fight, but usually it ended up with being the oldest first and the youngest last.

    After that, each group will be divided into two, and the academies pull their two opponents at random. This way, each academy will have two groups of two students facing two groups of two students from two of the opposing academies. The losers of any fight would be eliminated, while the winners would go on to the next fight.

    After all the winners and losers were decided, the remaining participants would be put into one large group and start getting assigned opponents at random. Losers were disqualified, winners get to stay in the competition.

    Once all the participants from one academy were eliminated, that academy would be assigned it's ranking and get a prize based on it's ranking. Even once all the other academies were eliminated, as long as there were still two contestants left standing, the tournament would go on, even if the contestants are from the same academy.

    The reason it was like this was because while the winning academy would get the prize for being the first ranked academy, only the last remaining contestant would be given the champion's prize. The champion's prize was different every year, and had to be put forth by the academy that won the year before.

    As Huang Ying and Xu Yin were walking towards the entrance, Huang Ying had already asked about the rankings and the participating academies. There were four participating academies, Willow's Hope, Empyrean Phoenix, Yellow Springs, and Winter's Grasp.

    Of the four academies, Empyrean Phoenix usually took the first spot, Yellow Springs and Winter's Grasp often switched the second and third place between each other while Willow's Hope took last place most of the time.

    Seeing Xu Yin's embarrassed smile, Huang Ying knew he had been conned by this old man. Being promised that he got to keep any rewards he won, but only the champion got a prize? Thinking about this Huang Ying could only curse that this old man.

    By the entrance stood 15 other youths, but Huang Ying only knew two of them, Ma Wu and Yang Ning. Huang Ying was slightly perplexed about why they would bring three people who had just entered the academy with them, but he quickly stopped bothering with it. Using his energy vision on the people present, the students ranged from the 6th heaven to the 9th heaven, just a step away from Xantian. Even Ma Wu had managed to break through to the 6th heaven.

    Along with the students were also two teachers, one of them was Teacher Yang, the other one was a sturdy man who had an honest face and with a bare chest that bulged with muscles. Xu Yin, who had brought along Huang Ying would also be following them to the tournament.

    “Is everything ready little Shao?” Xu Yin spoke as he turned his voice towards the burly man.

    “Everything is ready headmaster, we can leave at any time.” The burly man called Shao beat his chest as he spoke, acting very respectfully.

    “Good, then let's leave immediately, i'd rather we get there before that scumbag Deng get's there.” Xu Yin spoke with a grunt and moved towards the imperial palace.

    After arriving at the imperial palace, Xu Yin waved around a jade slip and they passed by every check without problem, arriving before the spatial array. The spatial array was a very simple array that utilized a natural spatial node, a spatial tunnel that connected two points, to travel between the capital of Green Willow's and the capital of Cloud's Reach, the continent that was located past The Wilderness.

    The spatial array itself was in the shape of a crystal in the shape of a pyramid, covered in strange symbols drawn in blood. The imperial family called it a spatial array, but the only thing it actually did was prevent access to the spatial node. As long as one didn't get permission from the imperial family, they could seal this crystal, not allowing anyone to use the spatial node.

    After stepping into the crystal, the only thing that showed them that there was a spatial node in front of them was a slight distortion in the surrounding space.

    “Alright brats, in you go.” Xu Yin simply started pushing the students into the spatial node.

    As Huang Ying entered the spatial node, space around him started to distort, flooding his vision with a multitude of colors, and sending a nauseating dizziness rampaging through his head. After enduring this dizziness for a short while, the distortion around him came to a halt and the colors drained from his vision.

    Opening his eyes, Huang Ying was standing in a crystal pyramid similar to the one in Willow's Heart, but through the crystal he could see that he was standing in a massive plaza. The other students from Willow's Hope were standing around him, gawking at the scenery.

    “Alright you brats, follow me, for the next few days you will all be cultivating without stop.” Xu Yin left the pyramid with large strides, forcing the students to follow him to an inn not far from the plaza. After a bit of explaining, they found out that this plaza was also where the tournament itself would take place.

    Reaching the inn, Xu Yin quickly ordered a few rooms and divided the students based on gender. After that he ordered the students to start cultivating and to replace sleep with even more cultivating, since anything else would be a waste of time.

    The students wanted to complain, but seeing the serious face of Xu Yin they could only suck up their complaints and silently curse as they started cultivating.
  • Chapter 37: Start of the tournament.

    Huang Ying couldn't be bothered to spend his entire day cultivating, so he only spent a portion of the day cultivating while spending the rest of the day going around the capital, which he found out was named Cloud's End. Being the capital of an entire continent, Cloud's End was a massive city that contained everything one could wish for, as long as one had the money to pay for it at least.

    On the first few trips around the capital, Huang Ying spent his entire day in the library, absorbing as much about the continent's locations and history as he could. After spending a few days in the library, Huang Ying left the library late at night. The library was the best place to learn about the continent's history, but if he wanted to learn about the places in the capital, he had a much easier way to learn about them.

    Leaving the library late at night, Huang Ying masked all his energy fluctuations with the Devouring Qi and started wandering around in the streets and back alleys, acting like a new visitor would.

    He didn't have to wander for too long before he noticed someone following him. Huang Ying didn't even glance at the pursuer as he headed into an isolated back alley, but a faint smile crept up onto his lips, it had been unexpectedly easy to lure one in.

    the pursuer nonchalantly headed into the same back alley, but before he even got to say anything, a hand had already landed on his throat, and the last thing he saw was a faint smile in the darkness.

    Huang Ying nonchalantly left the back alley, but there was a small frown on his face. He had gotten some useful information, but not enough of it, nor was it very specific.

    Huang Ying spent the next few days repeating this pattern, cultivating in the morning, reading in the library during the afternoon and evening, and then walking the streets like a tourist during the night and attracting thieves and robbers.

    After doing this all the way until the day of the tournament had arrived, Huang Ying had built up a lot of knowledge about the capital's underworld. There were still some places where he wished that he had more knowledge, but unless he started acting against people who had higher ranks in the underworld, getting this knowledge would be hard, so he put it on hold for the moment.

    The day of the tournament rolled around and the students of Green Willow's had already gathered at the plaza. The plaza had been reconstructed, a large arena occupying a part of it now.

    The arena was shaped like a coliseum, a large square in the middle, surrounded by a number of benches and seats. The Academy Battle could be considered a rather large occasion for people of the capital. None of the four academies that took part were part of the five largest academies on the continent, but the Empyrean Phoenix Academy was located in the capital, so many people who had ties to it came to watch.

    “I don't see Huang Ying? Didn't you tell him to show up today headmaster?” Teacher Yang spoke to the headmaster as he had a slightly uneasy face.

    In front of them stood three groups of youth with arrogant faces. These were the contestants of the other academies, and Teacher Yang had to admit that they were indeed of a higher caliber than most of their own students, the advantage given to them for being born in a better place.

    “Don't worry, that little brat is on his way. The tournament won't start for another half hour, so he can't be considered late.” Xu Yin had a calm face as he simply waved his hand.

    The moment they left Willow's Heart, he had placed a tiny mark on Huang Ying's body, allowing him to know exactly where Huang Ying was at all times. He knew where Huang Ying was, but he was to wary to send out his perception to look at what he was doing. This was the capital of a much larger continent than Green Willows, if he accidentally offended anyone here, it could easily be the end of his life.

    Just as he had said, after waiting for ten minutes, Huang Ying came walking, moving straight past the three other groups of contestants before standing behind Xu Yin.

    “Little brat, you really like to make people nervous.” Xu Yin looked him up and down with a glance, seeing that the Qi in his body had gotten even denser than it was when they left, he gave a satisfied nod. The brat had been walking around a lot, but at least he didn't waste time.

    “It's fine, i'm not late after all, not like the tournament would start earlier if I showed up earlier.” Huang Ying had a calm face as he spoke, but his eyes constantly examined the other contestants.

    Seeing their cultivation level's he gave a small smile, he found no one that had reached the Xiantian, just a few that were close to it. As long as there wasn't any Xiantian cultivators, he was certain that he had the advantage and could even take the champion's spot. Of course, this was only if he showed off most of his power, but since he had no reason to do so, Huang Ying couldn't be bothered with trying to take the first place.

    While he was examining the opposing contestants, they were also examining him. A few of the contestants had grave faces as they looked at him, he should only be 15 years old so his cultivation couldn't be too high, but the cold aura around him prevented them from seeing his cultivation level.

    “Hoho, this should be your last contestant and your trump card, right old Xu? It truly is rare to find someone so young who is also at the 8th heaven, seems like you pulled out everything this time around.” A slightly aged man who was standing behind the group of students dressed in crimson robes with the mark of a phoenix spoke with a smile.

    The aged man had short brown hair, sharp eyebrows, and a dignified face and atmosphere. Clad in a crimson phoenix robe he looked like a mortal emperor. Looking at the man, how he talked to Xu Yin, and his clothing, it didn't take too much guessing from Huang Ying to know that he was the headmaster of Empyrean Phoenix Academy, Deng Rong.

    “Cut the crap, let's just start the tournament.” A mature woman clad in a tight-fitting ice blue robe interjected with a cold voice.

    The woman had skin as white as snow, a youthful and smooth face, and hair that went all the way down to her ankles. She had a buxom chest and a curve at her hips that would draw most men's attention, but she had a cold face that slightly diminished her charm. She stood behind a group of students clad in blue robes marked with a snowflake. She was the headmaster of Winter's Grasp Academy, Liao Yawen.

    “If that's what Miss Liao wants, then my Yellow Springs Academy are more than happy to comply.” The last one to speak was an old man with a peaceful atmosphere, white hair, and a bent back.

    Clad in a light yellow robe with the mark of a long flowing river and standing in behind a group of students in the same robes, this man was obviously the headmaster of Yellow Springs Academy, Tan Long.

    The four headmasters looked at each other for a short glance before collectively heading towards and up onto the arena along with their teachers and students. The seats and benches around the arena were already full of people, only allowing one to see a sea of heads staring at the arena.

    The headmasters agreed on using the old rules, starting with having the older students fighting first, before ending it with having the youngest students fighting. The students were divided into groups of two and the academies proceeded to draw their opponents.

    The first bracket ended up being Willow's Hope's two groups against a group from Yellow Springs and a group from Winter's Grasp, Which meant that Empyrean Phoenix's two groups were against the last group from Yellow Springs and Winter's Grasp. The students who were younger and wouldn't be fighting followed their leaders and went to their preassigned seating.

    Huang Ying sat next to Xu Yin, but he was only using half of his attention to look at the ongoing fights. Ever since he had arrived at the arena, he had felt like someone was watching him, but no matter how much he looked, he found nothing, so all he could do was raise his guard and keep an eye on the area around him.

    Seeing that Huang Ying wasn't really paying attention to the fights made Xu Yin slightly irritated, he was after all the one who got Huang Ying to participate in hopes of getting a good result.

    “You should watch the fights closely, if you do well you might have to fight against these people in the later stages of the fights.” Xu Yin gave Huang Ying an annoyed glance as he spoke.

    “I'll probably just surrender if I do, no need to fight them, not like i'm going to gain anything, I might go a few rounds with them just for fun though.” Huang Ying simply replied to him with an indifferent glance.

    “Not even the champion's prize is appealing to you?” Xu Yin refused to believe that not even the prospect of that prize couldn't get this boy interested in fighting with his all.

    “First off: you sure do have a lot of faith in me, hoping that i'll take first place. Secondly: you haven't even told me what the champion's prize is, so why should it appeal to me.” Huang Ying gave Xu Yin a glance as he spoke, he truly had never mentioned what the prize actually was. Huang Ying only came to this tournament to leave Green Willows and maybe have a good fight.

    “Hehe....did I never mention it? The prize this year is the right to spectate the next Dragon Meeting, the meeting where all the great clans send their youths to decide their ranking for the next 10 years, that will be a true great tournament.” Xu Yin had an embarrased smile, but spoke passionately, he truly couldn't imagine what a tournament like that would be like.

    “Why would I be interested in just going to watch something like that?” Hearing the prize Huang Ying truly couldn't understand why a prize like that would appeal to anyone.

    It was just watching, if the prize was to get the right to participate, he might have considered it, but if it's just watching there was no point. This was what Huang Ying thought, but Xu Yin's next words truly gave him a start.

    “Why would you be interested? All the stars from the large clans will participate, it will be the best chance to see how large the world truly is. It is also a great chance to build some connections if you are lucky, I have gotten the news that this Dragon Meeting will take place in the Jing clan of the western frontier, last time the meeting was held there was already 100 years ago!” Xu Yin gave a wistful sigh as he talked about seeing how large the world truly was, if he had left Green Willows when he was young, perhaps he could have gotten better results than the ones he had now.

    “Jing clan? The Jing for crystal?” Contrary to what Xu Yin thought, Huang Ying responded with a question.

    “Yes, how did you know?” Xu Yin was truly surprised that Huang Ying knew what the Jing clan's name stood for.

    “Tch, you win this one old geezer. I'll get you that stupid first place.” Huang Ying clicked his tongue before sighing. If it truly was the Jing clan he was thinking of, then there was no way he couldn't not go to that meeting,

    “Oh? I'll be waiting for it then you boasting little brat.” Xu Yin had his suspicions about why Huang Ying changed his mind, but he decided that he would probably not get an answer even if he asked, so he simply decided to drop it.

    The first bracket quickly ended, with only one of Willows Hope's participants getting a win and moving on. The next bracket, the bracket with the 17 year old's, had a better result, three of the participants moving on. These participants included Ma Wu and Yang Ning.

    The tournament would end at this point for the day, the next two brackets fighting the day after. After that there would be a day of rest, allowing the participants to rest for a day before the last part of the tournament began.
  • Chapter 38: Don't Waste My Time.

    The next day quickly arrived, and the arena was just as full as it was the day before. The people who had lost their fights the day before could no longer sit in the participants seating area, so they were forced to show up even earlier just to get a seat on the normal benches.

    The first bracket was the bracket for the 16 year olds. Huang Ying was paying close attention to all the fights at this point, even keeping his energy vision active at all times. The champion's prize was truly something that Huang Ying desired.

    There was no guarantee that it was the right Jing clan, but it would at least give Huang Ying a lead, something to search for. If it ended up being the right Jing clan, Huang Ying wasn't stupid enough to think that he could do anything with his minimal strength, but it would give him a goal. He could use the Dragon Meeting to measure the strength of the large clans, allowing him to know how strong he himself needed to be.

    The fights quickly ended, except for people belonging to the older age groups, no one but Huang Ying had reached the 8th heaven among the younger participants, so every fight was mostly a fistfight with no flair.

    This bracket was the most disastrous one for Willows Hope so far, with not a single one of their participants moving on, meaning that Willows Hope only had four contestants that would move on so far.

    What was even worse was that one of the contestants had been injured badly, the opponents Fire Qi invading his body, scorching and deforming his meridians. His future prospects were affected heavily by this. The people from Willows Hope had grim faces, but no one spoke up against the one who had struck so hard.

    “Attacking like that is not against the rules?”

    Seeing that even the usually aggressive Xu Yin was silent, Huang Ying was slightly surprised and spoke out.

    “What can we do, the cultivation world follows the law of the jungle, the strong are always in the right, so we try to emulate that during tournaments. The only thing not allowed is intentional murder. Although most contestants usually pull their punches a little, not going as far as crippling their opponents. This is obviously Empyrean Phoenix Academy slapping our face, but we can't say anything against it otherwise we would seem petty.”

    Xu Yin spoke slowly as he lowered his head and heaved a heavy sigh. This wasn't the first tournament where someone from the other academies had attacked so heavy-handedly, but there was nothing he could do, their Willows Hope Academy was simply too weak.

    The last bracket rolled around and Huang Ying drew their opponents, Yellow Springs and Empyrean Phoenix. Huang Ying could be considered to have some luck, he was put in the group that was against Yellow Springs Academy.

    The two who were fighting against the Empyrean Phoenix group decided against forfeiting right away, electing to at least try their best to fight well, but they were still defeated within ten exchanges and had to leave with red faces.

    Huang Ying's group was the last group to fight. After this fight, all the participants for the last part of the tournament would have been decided. They would then get a day to rest and raise their conditions to their best possible state before the last part of the tournament.

    The last part of the tournament would be done in one day, the 32 participants drawing their opponents at random, the loser leaving while the winner moved on. This would go on until there was only one person left, the champion.

    Huang Ying was the last to fight. The person from Willows Hope that went up before him slightly surprised Huang Ying. He was only at the early stages of the 6th heaven, but he had obviously only reached that level after quickly consuming a large amount of pills, so his foundation was very weak and shallow.

    But while his foundation was weak and shallow, he had excellent Qi control and instincts. When he fought he wasted no Qi and managed to dodge most attacks by a hairs width, eking out a victory after a drawn out fight.

    After he left the stage and returned to the participants seating area, Huang Ying entered the stage. As he entered the stage, he felt a multitude of eyes land on him. He was clad in an azure robe, had long, pitch black hair and black eyes that shone like a star field. His aura was slightly cold, but it also contained an elegant, almost regal feel to it. He looked like a handsome mortal scholar, drawing the eyes of some of the younger spectators.  

    He threw a quick glance around, the sea of spectators were all looking at him, but these weren't the gazes that he took note of. He noticed that nearly all the contestants who had moved on were looking at him, measuring him with their eyes.

    Other than these gazes he also felt a gaze that locked onto him from behind, from the Willows Hope area. He knew that it was not likely that it was Xu Yin looking at him, because this gaze contained a slightly chilling intent, sending a shiver up Huang Ying's spine.

    His opponent from Yellow Springs entered the arena, but he was clearly nervous, cold sweat dripping from his forehead. His steps were slightly unsteady as he moved closer to Huang Ying, taking up a fighting stance around 25 meters away from Huang Ying. At this short distance, the Yellow Springs disciple was certain that he could reach Huang Ying in less than three seconds.

    “You should just forfeit, this is pointless.”

    Contrary to what the Yellow Springs disciple expected, Huang Ying was the first to speak, his indifferent voice reverberating through the area.

    “Oh, but I would like to exchange some moves with you and see if I can't learn something new.”

    The Yellow Springs disciple spoke out as he narrowed his eyes, Huang Ying's words were no doubt a great humiliation towards him, but thinking it over, he was obviously right. If he hadn't been ordered by his teacher, he would have already surrendered. He silently cursed his bad luck in his heart, but at the same time, he hardened his resolve.

    Huang Ying gave the Yellow Springs disciple an odd look, like he was looking at a fool. But giving the other contestants that were watching a quick glance, a small smile appeared on his lips as he understood.

    “I see, I see. So that's your role. Poor guy, forced to be a guinea pig to test my strength. Seems like you think rather highly of me.”

    The last part of his sentence was spoken towards the seating area where the people from Yellow Springs were sitting.

    Hearing his words, the teachers had grim faces. Forcing one of their own disciples to be a guinea pig to test an opponents strength was not an honorable matter, and now he had gone and announced it out loud for everyone to hear.

    The Yellow Springs disciple also had an ugly face, seeing Huang Ying turn his eyes towards the Yellow Springs seating area, he decided to take the chance, kicking off the ground with his food, dashing towards Huang Ying at his max speed.

    This Yellow Springs disciple had a Wind Qi, granting him excellent speed and agility, it would indeed take him less than three seconds to reach Huang Ying. As he approached Huang Ying, he frenziedly circulated his Wind Qi towards his left hand and formed his palm into a spear hand, hoping to use it and the sharpness of the Wind Qi to slice open Huang Ying's chest.

    He dashed toward Huang Ying, and just as he was right in front of him, he stabbed out with his left arm, aiming right for Huang Ying's heart. He knew that he was a guinea pig, he was fine with being used like that, but having his opponent mock him for it was not something he would accept.

    Sadly, before his hand even made contact with Huang Ying's chest, he felt an icy sensation around his wrist, and his hand immediately stopped moving, in fact, he could no longer feel his left hand. He didn't even need to look to know that the icy sensation was Huang Ying's hand, tightly holding onto his wrist.

    Cold sweat appeared on his back, he had Wind Qi and was rather proud of his speed, at least among people of his age there were very few that could match him. Yet he hadn't even see Huang Ying move his arm, it was like his hand had always been on his wrist.

    “Oh well, let's just end this stupid charade.” Huang Ying's cold voice resounded and the next thing the Yellow Springs disciple felt was Huang Ying's knee hitting his stomach, lifting his legs off of the ground and into the air.

    As the Yellow Springs disciple was raised off the ground, Huang Ying was still holding onto his wrist. Exerting some strength through his body, Huang Ying moved his body and threw the disciple directly off the arena and into the Yellow Springs seating area.

    “Don't waste my time next time, i'm here to get the champion's spot, not play with your weaklings.”

    As he spoke, Huang Ying left the arena, he hadn't even looked properly at his opponent since he entered the arena. With those words, the first part of the tournament also came to an end, Willows Hope having five contestants participating in the final part of the tournament.
  • Chapter 39: The Waning Moon

    Tan Long and the other contestants had ugly expressions as Huang Ying left the stage. The simple humiliation that his disregard brough them was already bad enough, but the disciple he had thrown at them was also badly injured. That one kick broke most of his ribs and even displaced some of his organs, he would require months of recuperation just to go back to normal.

    Huang Ying leisurely walked down from the arena and headed towards the exit. Since the last fight was over, there was obviously no point in staying there any longer, there were other things that required his attention now.

    «I'll be heading out into town old man Xu, i'll be here again in the morning the day after tomorrow for the last part of the tournament.»

    Huang Ying waved his hand without turning back, his body disappearing out the arena gates. After leaving the arena, Huang Ying went to the library again, occupying a small corner before he started reading.

    He continued his incessant reading until night had fallen and the streets were almost empty. Looking out the window and seeing the darkness outside, Huang Ying put down the book he was reading and left the library.

    «Should be about time now, it doesn't seem like he is interested in following me all day.»

    Huang Ying silently mused to himself as he fondled his chin. The reason he had left the arena so quickly and headed to the library instead of returning to the inn was because he as he kicked the disciple from Yellow Springs, he had found the origins of that chilling stare that had locked onto him ever since they entered Cloud's End.

    He was rather surprised when he located the person who had locked onto him, but at the same time his vigilance also reached new heights. The person who had locked onto him was Yang Xinyi, Teacher Yang.

    Huang Ying was uncertain why Yang Xinyi would look at him with such a chilling intent, but it didn't require much thought from Huang Ying to know that Yang Xinyi didn't have any good plans for him. Once Huang Ying thought of this, there was only one possible outcome. There was no way Huang Ying would let someone who wanted to most likely kill him live, especially since that person was currently stronger than him.

    Since Huang Ying couldn't personally kill him, he could only get someone else to do it, and Huang Ying knew just where to go. Leaving the library and following the winding road, Huang Ying came before a shoddy looking tavern called The Waning Moon.

    Huang Ying fished a mask out of his interspatial ring and put it on. The mask was a simple mask made out of a smooth black material that only had two slits for the eyes and nothing more. This mask was something Huang Ying had obtained after robbing the clans in Yellow Winds Town. The mask seemed fragile and normal, but Huang Ying had discovered that his perception was unable to penetrate the material that the mask was made of, making it perfect for hiding one's face.

    Huang Ying entered the tavern and walked directly to the counter. Behind the counter stood a man who looked more like a ball than he did a man, being nearly as wide as he was tall. The man was polishing some glasses and had a hearty smile on his face as he overlooked the tavern.

    «What can I get for you then sir?»

    The round man spoke with a large smile as he looked at Huang Ying, completely ignoring the mask he was wearing, in his line of business, the fewer questions he asked, the better.

    «Give me that which hides behind the clouds»

    Huang Ying slightly changed his voice, making it sound hoarse and rasp as he spoke a line he had dug up from the memories of one of the people he had killed after entering the capital.

    «I'm afraid that drink can only be found in the storehouse, so if you would follow me, i'll take you directly there.»

    The round man still spoke with a hearty smile and lead Huang Ying into a room located behind the counter. The room looked completely normal, containing just a bookshelf, three chairs placed around a small round table, and a few torches hanging from the walls. The round man walked up to one of the torches and put his hand directly into the fire, but instead of his flesh being scorched, the flames started flickering before turning illusory. The man fiddled with something in the torch before a small door opened in the floor across the room.

    «Right down there, just follow pathway until you reach the room, someone will meet you.»

    The round man spoke as he left for the counter again, no longer looking at Huang Ying. Huang Ying entered the small door and followed a flight of narrow stairs downwards into the darkness. At the bottom of the stairs was a dark hallway lit up by a few torches placed at even intervals. At the end of the hallway Huang Ying could see a bronze door.

    Following the hallway and entering the bronze door, Huang Ying entered a small room. The small room was lit up by a floating ball of light and was furnished with only a small round table and two chairs. At the other end of the room was another bronze door.

    There was already someone sitting at the table, but they were clad in a large black robe that covered their features. Huang Ying calmly walked toward the table and sat down across the cloaked figure.

    «Who is the target?»

    The cloaked figure spoke in an ethereal voice that seemed to change with every word, making it almost impossible to figure out anything about the cloaked figure based on the voice.

    «Yang Xinyi, teacher from Willows Hope who came to preside over the Academy Battle. I want him crippled and delivered to me, the time frame is from now til same time tomorrow.»

    Huang Ying's hoarse voice rang out in the room. The Waning Moon tavern was only a cover for this organization, The Waning Moon assassins. The Waning Moon had locations all over the continent and was the leading assassination organization. Even Green Willows had some branches, even Misty Moon House was a subsidiary organization to them. They would assassinate anyone, for a certain price of course.

    «That man is at the late stages of the Xiantian Builder so it won't be too hard, but since the time frame is so short, and it is not a normal assassination, the price will be doubled.»

    The ethereal voice rang out emotionlessly, putting a price on Yang Xinyi's life as if it was a commodity.

    «That is fine. I will come pick him up in around three days.»

    Huang Ying gave a small nod before rubbing his interspatial ring, taking out another interspatial ring and sliding it across the table. The cloaked figure picked up the ring and gave it's content a quick look over before nodding.

    «The deal has been finalized, he will be completely crippled and stored in the tavern.»

    The ethereal voice rang out as the cloaked figure stood up and headed for the bronze door located at the back of the room. Huang Ying also stood up and left through the same way he came.

    «Hehe, so now you have even ended up interacting with The Waning Moon, one truly cannot tell how some people change with time.»

    As Huang Ying was leaving, Li Jun's voice rang out in his mind. He had been looking at the ways Huang Ying had changed ever since the incident in Azure Springs, and the more he saw, the happier he became. He found that Huang Ying started to resemble how he was when he was younger more and more. Perhaps one day, he would even have to give over his Dark King title to him.

    «Since Yang Xinyi wants my life, i obviously can't keep him alive. If i let him leave Cloud's End, there is no telling when he will suddenly appear before me to do something, i'm not willing to let a risk like that run free. But it would be a waste if he were to just be killed, so i might as well get some benefits from him.»

    Huang Ying spoke indifferently, he had only been in Willow's Hope for around three months, so even if the entire academy was destroyed he wouldn't bat an eye, much less if it was just one teacher.

    Before he left the tavern, he reserved one of the rooms in the tavern, specifying that no one was to enter it until he showed up again. The round man was obviously not a fool, so he found the room that was located the furthest away from others and locked it off, giving Huang Ying his insurance that no one would disturb it.

    Finishing what he had to do, Huang Ying left the tavern and returned to the library. Since the contract was finalized, all he had to do now was focus on winning the tournament and get the invitation to the Dragon Meeting, Yang Xinyi had already been completely removed from his mind.
  • Chapter 40: The Final 32.

    Huang Ying spent the entire resting day in the library, ignoring the hustle and bustle of the capital in favor of tearing through the books. While reading, Huang Ying was also chatting a bit with Li Jun. Reading the books was one thing, but since he had someone next to him that had cultivated for a long time, to not use his information and experiences would just be silly.

    “Shouldn't you head towards The Waning Moon, Yang Xinyi should have already been taken care of.” As the night rolled around, Li Jun's voice rang out in Huang Ying's mind.

    “No, I will wait until the people from Willows Hope leave Cloud's End. I don't know what sort of machinations that Xu Yin has put in play, but until I am certain that he is gone, I won't take the risk of approaching Yang Xinyi, for all I know, he is constantly keeping track of me.”

    Huang Ying spoke in a dismissive tone. He had accepted Xu Yin's deal because it would benefit him, but there was no way he would put too much trust in him. People who had cultivated for as long as Xu Yin had were bound to be sly foxes, trusting them would always bring with it risks.

    “Hehe, really, the more I see you now a days, the more pleased I get, I should have tried to destroy Azure Springs much earlier.”

    Li Jun's laughing voice rang out in Huang Ying's head. Thinking about Azure Springs would still give Huang Ying a headache, but it was no longer as bad as it used to be. Li Jun had spent some time ever since they left Yellow Winds Town trying to find out where he could draw the line, what he could talk about.

    He knew that Huang Ying had repressed some of his memories about Azure Springs Town, and since he didn't want to ruin the fun by making him remember it immediately he started experimenting with what he could say.

    What he had found out was that as long as it was about the attack on the town, it would touch slightly upon the repressed memories, resulting in headaches, but as long as he didn't talk about exactly what had happened, it seemed like it would work out.

    “Really Li Jun, one day I have to find out your backstory, I truly don't know how you ended up as twisted as you did.”

    Huang Ying spoke with a sigh before putting away the book and sitting down in the lotus position, the last part of the tournament would start in a few hours, so it would be best to spend the rest of the time adjusting his condition so that he could participate at full strength.

    If it were a life and death fight, he would not be scared of any of the contestants, but since it was a tournament presided over by several strong people, he could not use his Devouring element. He could only use his Ice Qi and his Bloodline Limit if it really came down to it.

    But while he himself had some trump cards, he was certain that the people from the academies, especially the people from the older generation, would have some of their own trump cards. Like they say, caution will sail a ship for ten thousand years.

    Huang Ying opened his eyes as the light from the sun shone in through the window. He glanced out the window, he should still have almost an hour until the tournament started. Standing up from the floor, Huang Ying stretched his body. Hearing the sound of his joints popping, Huang Ying put on a satisfied smile, it was truly a pleasant feeling.

    Huang Ying left the library and headed for the inn, he felt like freshening up quickly and changing robe, the one he was currently wearing had gotten sweaty. Entering the inn and heading to the floor they had reserved, Huang Ying came upon a panicky Xu Yin.

    “Oh? What happened old man Xu?” Huang Ying put on a surprised face as he asked.

    “Tch, you little bastard actually came to the inn for once? I thought you started living in the library ever since we came here. Little Yang isn't here, have you seen him?” Xu Yin clicked his tongue at Huang Ying. Ever since they came to Cloud's End this bastard had been staying in the library instead of returning to the inn.

    “Little Yang? Is that teacher Yang? In that case no, haven't seen him.” Huang Ying put on a slightly pondering expression before answering.

    After answering, he shrugged his shoulders, indicating that he too was at a loss, and moved past Xu Yin and into the room that was reserved for the youngest participants. A quick shower and change later, Huang Ying felt refreshed and comfortable, heading towards the arena.

    The arena was filled with even more people this time around than it was during the earlier parts of the tournament, but on the stage stood only 32 people. These 32 people were the people who won their fights and moved on to the final parts.

    Willows Hope had six participants, one student from the oldest age group, Huang Ying found out that he was called Luo Bao. Yang Ning, Ma Wu and another girl called Kang Wei from the 17 year old group. No one from the 16 year old age group. Huang Ying and the kid with the shallow foundation called Meng Jing from the youngest age group.

    Yellow Springs also had six participants, Winter's Grasp had nine participants, and finally, Empyrean Phoenix had 11 participants. These 32 people would proceed to randomly fight against one another until they lost. Once they lost they would be removed from the tournament, all the way until there was only one left.

    Willows Hope could be said to have been lucky once more, both Yang Ling and Luo Bao managed to draw enemies from the youngest age group, giving them an easy victory.

    Luo Bao used the element of Stone, giving him a tough body and high attack strength, but he was rather weak in speed, so the way he fought made him seem like a mountain. He pushed his legs into the arena, covered himself in a defensive layer of Qi, making him look like a rock, and started conjuring and throwing rocks at his opponents. Since he was at the 9th heaven, he had a large advantage over the young contestant and won quickly.

    Yang Ning was only at the 7th heaven, but his Qi was of the Wood element, which was famous for it's regenerative property. This gave Yang Ning a large amount of stamina, allowing him to drag out fights that seemed disadvantageous. His opponent was unable to persist long enough and thus lost.

    After a few more fights, it was Huang Ying's turn. At this point, most of the younger generation were out, leaving only him and Meng Jing from Willows Hope. The opponent Huang Ying drew was a 17 year old from Empyrean Phoenix who had reached the later stages of the 8th heaven, much like Huang Ying. Entering the arena, Huang Ying immediately knew that he would have to end this fight quickly. He didn't think this because he thought it would be a tough fight, he thought this because his opponent had an insufferably arrogant face.

    “Ho, so you are their trump card right? The one who is going to take the champion's spot?” The youth spoke with a laugh as he looked at Huang Ying.

    “Unfortunately Mr. Champion, you came up against me.”

    As he spoke, fire started to burn around him, covering his arms in bright red flames.

    “I am from Empyrean Phoenix, in our veins run the blood of the phoenix, we are it's descendant and our flames are the flames of the undying phoenix!”

    The youth spoke with a proud face as he raised his arms and dashed towards Huang Ying.

    Huang Ying looked at the flames for a second before turning his eyes towards the youth and sneering.

    “Flames of the phoenix? This weak shit? At best you have a few drops of vermilion bird blood implanted into your veins, yet you proudly proclaim yourself a descendant of the phoenix? Arrogance!”

    Huang Ying had seen the true flames of the phoenix in the memories of the white tiger. The phoenix was also the brother of the white tiger and Baku, so Huang Ying could be said to have some relations with it, hearing someone like this youth speak as if he was born from the phoenix truly irked Huang Ying.

    “Let me show you just how weak your 'phoenix flames' really are.” Huang Ying spoke with a sneer.

    As Huang Ying's voice faded, the youth from Empyrean Phoenix was only 50 meters away from Huang Ying, having dashed almost 100 meters in only a few seconds.

    Huang Ying raised his right arm, the cold aura around him immediately expanding to cover everything within 100 meters around Huang Ying. The Youth that was dashing at him didn't even have time to think anything, he only noticed that he completely lost control of the Natural Energy around him.

    The phoenix flames around him instantly turned to ice and fell to the ground, even the flames on his arms had turned to ice. Next thing he noticed, the ground beneath his feet froze over and he fell over and started sliding towards Huang Ying.

    With a shocked exclamation, he saw Huang Ying kick out at full strength. Huang Ying's kick landed on the youth's chest, instantly smashing his chest and stopping his momentum.

    Huang Ying glanced downwards at the youth who was now spewing blood beneath his feet. He then proceeded to shift his eyes towards the Empyrean Phoenix seating area.

    “Phoenix flames? You disgrace the phoenix.”

    As his words dropped, he kicked out once more hitting the youth in the stomach and sending him sliding towards the Empyrean Phoenix seating area, only stopping once he slid off of the arena.

    After the youth slid off, Huang Ying no longer spared the Empyrean Phoenix people a glance, simply stepping off the arena and heading to his seating area under the shocked gazes of everyone present.
  • Chapter 41: Fake Bloodline Limit

    The entire stadium was quiet, defeating someone that had a lower cultivation than you in just two moves was one thing, no one was shocked when Huang Ying did it the first time. But this time he defeated someone at the 8th heaven, the same cultivation level as himself, in just two moves. He even froze the opponents flames and humiliated him and his school.

    Huang Ying sat down, completely ignoring the gazes that were locked onto him. He wasn't worried about what people would think, nor was he too worried about humiliating a student from Empyrean Phoenix. If he was constantly afraid of offending people and organizations, he would never get anywhere.

    He was also going to stay in the capital for the foreseeable future, so even if Empyrean Phoenix ended up hating him to the bone, they would have to think very carefully about attacking him while he was in the capital.

    No matter how shocked people were, the tournament had to go on. The next person who was drawn was Meng Jing, the other person from Willows Hope that was the same age as Huang Ying.

    Meng Jing was up against an older student from Winter's Grasp who had already reached the 9th heaven, so he didn't hold any extravagant hope of winning. Instead, he used his Wind Qi to speed up, allowing himself to stay in the fight for a total of ten exchanges before surrendering and walking off the stage, finding a spot in the spectator stands to watch the rest.

    Kang Wei and Ma Wu also went up in quick succession, Kang Wei against an older student from Empyrean Phoenix, and Ma Wu against a student her age from Yellow Springs.

    Kang Wei seemed like a lovable and petite girl, but her fighting style was unimaginably violent. She knew that her chances of winning were very low since her opponent had a higher cultivation than her, so she decided to do like Meng Jing, exchanging a few moves at full power before surrendering. Kang Wei had Qi of the Metal element, giving her an extremely strong body and abnormally high strength, so she fought like a human tank. After exchanging around 20 moves, she also surrendered and left the arena.

    Ma Wu seemed like a tall and elegant girl, but her fighting style was even more ferocious than Kang Wei's. Ma Wu had Qi of the Lightning element, giving her excellent acceleration and penetrative power. Her fighting style consisted of fast attacks that aimed for the slightest openings in the opponents defenses, slowly numbing them.

    She had not reached the 8th heaven yet, so she couldn't send her Lightning Qi into the surrounding area, but thanks to her opponents misfortune, there was no need for it. The opponent she was against was a cultivation level higher than her, but unfortunately for him his Qi was of the Water element, allowing Ma Wu to conduct her attacks directly through his defenses.

    Ma Wu knew that she could not waste time against her opponent, her opponent was a cultivation level higher than her and would be able to hold out for longer than her, so she focused on inflicting as much damage as possible, often trading injuries. After a quick and fierce fight, she managed to eke a win, but due to her injuries, it was doubtful if she could continue in the next fight.

    The original 32 contestants quickly dwindled into 16, with Empyrean Phoenix holding a majority of the positions, closely followed by Willows Hope. Yellow Springs and Winter's Grasp had fewer contestants left, but on the whole they had better quality contestants than Willows Hope, giving them a higher chance of lasting longer.

    The tournament was supposed to be completely random, but Huang Ying started having some suspicions when Yang Ning, Ma Wu, and Luo Bao ended up meeting opponents from Empyrean Phoenix.

    Ma Wu was already injured and exhausted before the fight began, so she was knocked out off the ring after less than five exchanges, Yang Ning was perfectly countered by Empyrean Phoenix's element, forcing him to quickly surrender, lest he become crippled from Fire Qi invading his meridians.

    Luo Bao managed to put up a fight, but it was also his fight that surprised Huang Ying the most. The first thing that surprised Huang Ying was that his opponent used a saber, entering the arena fully armed.

    “Weapons aren't against the rules?”

    Huang Ying couldn't help but glance at Xu Yin. The tournament forbid intentional killing of the opponent, so wasn't using a weapon going against that?

    “As long as you don't kill your opponent, there are very few rules, but most contestants don't use weapons since it makes it much easier to accidentally kill your opponent. Of course, some people can't display their full power without a weapon, so they end up using one when they face an opponent at their level.”

    Xu Yin explained with a nervous expression, while the tournament forbid killing, accidents could easily happen. If Willows Hope lost Luo Bao, it would be a great loss for them.

    The opponent Luo Bao faced, was one of the three contestants from Empyrean Phoenix who had reached the 9th heaven, he was also the youngest of the three. What surprised Huang Ying about this contestant was the as the contestant fought, the fire he surrounded himself with would stick to his skin, looking like crimson feathers.

    Huang Ying asked Xu Yin about this phenomena and Xu Yin explained that all the core disciples of Empyrean Phoenix would be injected with blood from either the vermilion bird or other species that had the bloodline of the phoenix. The disciples would then be able to burn this blood to give themselves a power boost for a short time, essentially simulating a Bloodline Limit. It was the burning of the blood that gave rise to the phenomena of the fire turning into feathers, it is also this that gave Empyrean Phoenix it's name.

    Luo Bao's Stone Qi helped shield him from some of the heat, but as the fight dragged on, more and more of the Fire Qi invaded his body, eroding his meridians and Stone Qi. After managing to last for almost 50 exchanges, he was forced to surrender, leaving Huang Ying as the only contestant left from Willows Hope.

    Huang Ying didn't have to wait long for his turn after Luo Bao lost, he was quickly paired against a disciple from Winter's Grasp. His opponent could be considered a rare beauty. Skin white as snow, light blue hair, cherry red lips and a buxom figure. She had a cold atmosphere that seemed to push people away, but this atmosphere only helped to make the men watching her wish to conquer her even more.

    She was one of Winter's Grasp two 9th heaven disciples and was almost at the peak of the 9th heaven. Standing opposite her, Huang Ying didn't have any change in expression. Had it been someone at the 9th heaven with a different element, Huang Ying would have to put in more effort, sadly, she was from Winter's grasp and used the Ice element. Huang Ying's Ice element could be considered the bane of all Ice Qi that was less pure than his own.

    As soon as the fight started, his opponent conjured up several sharp swords of ice, flinging them at Huang Ying in rapid succession. She had seen his earlier fights and knew that this child would probably be able to injure her if she decided to enter close combat, so she decided to take him out with ranged attacks. Sadly, her opponent was Huang Ying.

    As the swords closed in on Huang Ying, his only response was to slightly raise his right arm, bringing his palm up to chest height. As his right arm raised, the swords simply stopped in mid air, like they had been frozen. His opponents expression quickly changed when she noticed that she had lost the connection with the Natural Energy on the arena.

    The swords hovering in front of Huang Ying changed direction, before shooting towards his opponent. She tried to use her Ice Qi to put up some defenses, but since she had lost her connection with the surrounding Natural Energy she could only circulate her Qi inside her body.

    She jumped to the side, but the Natural Energy around her seemed to coagulate, trapping her in a quagmire and bogging down her movements. By twisting her body she managed to dodge most of the swords, but she still ended up with several cuts on her body.

    Before she managed to breathe a sigh of relief, she felt the Natural Energy below her gather together. She wanted to dodge, but since she had just twisted her body around to dodge the swords, she had no room to move properly. A small spike of ice quickly formed beneath her before shooting upwards, only stopping when the tip made contact with her throat.

    With the spike threatening to pierce her throat, she could do nothing but throw an indignant look at Huang Ying, who had yet to move a single step since the fight began. She heaved a deep sigh before reluctantly opening her mouth.

    “I surrender.”

    As her voice fell, the ice spike dissolved and the Natural Energy around her stopped restricting her. Huang Ying cupped his fists politely towards her before leaving the arena. He had won easily, but his opponent had treated him as a proper opponent and hadn't spewed a bunch of arrogant or foolish words, so Huang Ying would obviously treat her with the same respect.

    Looking at Huang Ying leave the arena, the disciple from Winter's grasp heaved another deep sigh before leaving the arena and heading to the spectator stands. With Huang Ying's fight ending, the 16 contestants turned to 8.
  • Chapter 42: Mutated Blood

    16 contestants turned to 8. Huang Ying from Willows Hope, three disciples at the 9th heaven from Empyrean Phoenix, one disciple at the 9th and one at the 8th heaven from Yellow Springs, and one at the 9th and one at the 7th heaven from Winter's Grasp.

    The contestants were given a quarter of an hour to rest and restore their Qi before the fighting would continue. Huang Ying sat in silent meditation for a few minutes to rest his eyes. When he opened them again, he noticed that he was the only one left in the Willows Hope seating area.

    Once a contestant lost, they would have to leave the seating area to sit among the other spectators. Since their students lost, the teachers of those students would naturally not bother staying there anymore, choosing instead to mix in with the other teachers.

    Huang Ying was the last of the disciples from Willows Hope that was participating, so since Yang Xinyi was already taken out of comission by The Waning Moon and the teacher called Shao didn't have any disciples participating, only Huang Ying and Xu Yin should be left in the seating area, but now, even Xu Yin had disappeared.

    “Li Jun, do you know where Xu Yin is?”

    “He left shortly after you started resting, I don't know where he is right now, but he threw a few glances your way as he was leaving”

    “Do you think he knows anything? Do we need to leave?”

    “It should be fine, he was heading to the inn while I was checking up on him, but I don't know where he went after I stopped looking.”

    “I see, keep me informed if anything suspicions happens, i'd rather not have all of Willows Hope against me.”

    Huang Ying had a short conversation with Li Jun before the contest started up again. Huang Ying looked at which opponent he drew and immediately lost his will to enter the arena, the opponent he had drawn was the girl from Winter's Grasp that was at the 7th heaven. Huang Ying tilted his head and threw his gaze towards the people from Winter's Grasp.

    The people from Winter's Grasp had ugly faces as they lamented their bad luck, noticing a gaze being cast their way, they turned their heads, locking eyes with Huang Ying. Seeing his disinterested eyes, their expressions got even uglier, but all they could do was sigh and shake their heads. He had already defeated one of their students who was at the 9th heaven, so there really was no point in sending someone at the 7th heaven.

    “Winter's Grasp forfeits this match.”

    The headmaster of Winter's Grasp reluctantly got up and forfeited the match, throwing a vicious gaze towards the Willows Hope seating area. Seeing that Xu Yin was not even present in the seating area, seemingly not even interested in watching the future fights of his own disciples, she couldn't help but curse the old man, how much confidence did he have in this little brat?

    Winter's Grasp surrendering was already expected, so the other participants had already entered the arena before they even surrendered. This could be considered as disrespecting Winter's Grasp, but there was nothing they could do, there was really no point in participating in that fight.

    The next participants were the disciple at the 9th heaven from Yellow Springs and one of the disciples from Empyrean Phoenix. The fight started out like a normal fight, with both participants focusing on trying to suppress the other through their Qi. But since one of them used Fire Qi and the other used Water Qi, and since their Qi's seemed to be of the same purity, they only ended up negating each other.

    Due to this, the participants were forced into the awkward situation where they had to fight each other in a fist fight, forsaking all the flare and elegance of their normal fighting style. The disciple from Yellow Springs ended up having a small advantage in physical strength, allowing him to wrest out a victory after a prolonged fight.

    The next fight was the disciple at the 8th heaven from Yellow Springs against one of the disciples from Empyrean Phoenix. The disciple wanted to simply surrender, but his headmaster ordered him to enter the stage and do his best. If that brat from Willows Hope could defeat opponents at a higher level, then why shouldn't they also be able to? He tried to motivate his student like so, but the end result would not change, the disciple lost after a measly eight exchanges.

    The next contestants to walk on stage were the last disciple from Winter's Grasp, a boy at the 9th heaven with short and light blue hair, healthy wheat colored skin, slanted green eyes, an elegant bearing, and a slender build, and the last disciple at the 9th heaven from Empyrean Phoenix.

    The disciple from Empyrean Phoenix was a girl that looked no older than 19 and was even a slight bit taller than Huang Ying, she had fiery red hair, shining black eyes, long legs, a buxom figure, and what seemed to be an honest smile on her face. She carried herself with an elegant and majestic air, seeming like an immortal that had descended from nine heavens to grace the world.

    “Watch this fight closely, this little girl will probably be your strongest competitor.” As Huang Ying was studying the girl and the boy on stage, Li Jun's voice rang out in his head.

    “Oh? How so?” As Huang Ying spoke, he also activated his energy vision to inspect the two competitors. The girl's energy was slightly stronger than the other contestants, seemingly already half a step into Xiantian, but other than that, he found nothing special.

    “Hehe, just watch you little brat, you will see something very interesting.”

    As Li Jun spoke, the match on the arena had already begun. At the start, it seemed like a normal fight, the girl from Empyrean Phoenix slightly suppressing the boy from Winter's Grasp thanks to her slightly higher cultivation. After fighting each other for a few minutes, the girl suddenly stopped and shook her head with a sigh.

    “It's a shame that you are from Winter's Grasp, if you weren't, maybe this fight could have been a bit more fun. Oh well, I guess I better end this now, if I don't, i'm sure those pesky old bastards are gonna yell my ears off.”

    The girl spoke with a grin, and just as the boy from Winter's Grasp was about to flare up at her, the fire surrounding the girl changed, turning from a bright crimson to a deep blue. The color of the fire wasn't the only thing that changed, even it's temperature did, it went from heating the surrounding area, to making the temperature drop.

    “Cold blue fire? Li Jun, is this the interesting thing you said I would see?”

    “Hehe, indeed. I was not expecting to see someone with a mutated bloodline appear in such a tiny city, quite a nice find.”

    “Mutated bloodline? Did the blood they implanted into her mutate? Or was it already mutated when she got it?”

    “It should have mutated when it was implanted into her. If they implanted her with blood from an already mutated phoenix descendant, then she would only be able to control it's mutated fire. But since it mutated when it was implanted, she can control both it's normal fire and it's mutated fire.”

    “really, the more I see, the more I realize how vast the world is.” Huang Ying spoke with a sigh and shook his head. Reading the memories of others only gave him the knowledge of things, seeing them with his own eyes gave him a much more profound sensation.

    “What sort of fire is that?”

    “I don't know, it seems to be a type of cold fire, but I haven't seen it before.”

    “Could it be fire from a blue Luan bird?”

    Huang Ying wasn't the only one who was shocked, even the teachers from the other academies were shocked, breaking out into discussion about the strange blue fire. The disciple from Winter's Grasp was also shocked, but more than shocked he was also fearful, he noticed that the strange blue fire seemed to completely dominate his Ice Qi, slowing it down to a crawl and preventing him from integrating it with the surrounding Natural Energy.

    “Sorry, but this fire of mine is the king of all ice, so im going to end this boring fight now.”

    The girl from Empyrean Phoenix spoke with a grin and thrust her palm outwards, sending forth a large plume of fire that pushed towards the disciple from Winter's Grasp. The disciple tried to conjure up his Qi to form a shield, but his Qi seemed to refuse to move in the face of that flame, so he could only reluctantly jump out of the way of that fire and off the arena.

    The disciple managed to dodge the fire, but the fire didn't stop, continuing in a straight line, heading directly towards Huang Ying.

    “Dodge! Even you won't get out unscathed if you end up playing with this fire!” 

    Li Jun shouted out in his mind, but Huang Ying simply sat there and looked at the fire with an interested gaze, thinking about the possibilities of mixing other elements together. He had already mixed together the Ice and Devouring Qi once to produce ice that contained the power of Devouring, but what if he mixed other elements like Lightning and Devouring, or Lightning and Fire, what would he get then? Of course, first he would have to get his hands on a source of Lightning Qi or Fire Qi that was pure enough to combine all the small amounts of Lightning or Fire Qi that were floating in his Qi crystal.

    The fire continued straight towards him getting as close as almost touching his nose before it finally stopped and dissipated.

    “You're no fun.”

    An unsatisfied voice rang out from the arena. Huang Ying raised his head and locked eyes with the girl from Empyrean Phoenix. The girl seemed annoyed at him for not taking part in her game and dodging or blocking the fire, but Huang Ying only gave her a faint smile.

    “What makes you so confident, I could have just not stopped the fire, allowing it to hit you.” The girl spoke with a humph as she walked off the arena.

    “At that point you would have been disqualified and I would have one less competitor, how could I not want that?” Hearing her talk like a scorned wife, Huang Ying couldn't help but laugh as he responded. It seemed like her honest smile was not just for show, this girl truly was just like an honest little girl.

    “Humph, just you wait, now there are only four people left, so you will have to fight me sooner or later.” Speaking up to here, the girl's eyes shone with a mad lust to fight as she looked at Huang Ying.

    “Don't worry, i'll make sure to properly play with you if that time comes, who knows, you might lose before that.” Huang Ying spoke with a smile as he slightly teased the girl, it was a rare thing to find people that were so honest to their own desires, so he didn't mind indulging her a little.
  • Chapter 43: Weapon of Choice

    “Heh, you said it yourself, that means that you can't go back on your words.” The girl spoke and gave Huang Ying a sly smile before stepping off the stage. Since they were now getting closer to the finals, people would be given a short period of rest before starting the next matches.

    “Li Jun, where is Xu Yin now?” Huang Ying took his eyes away from the stage and started talking to Li Jun. No matter how much he wanted the first prize, if Xu Yin found any clues about what he had done to Yang Xinyi he would have to leave immediately.

    “He seems to be retracing your steps, walking in and out of all the back alleys you walked in after arriving here.”

    “Retracing my steps? So he is suspicious of me at least..... how can he retrace my steps? Does he have a tracing mark or something on me?” Huang Ying would certainly not believe that Xu Yin would just so happen to know all the places Huang Ying had been, the only way he could know was if he had been constantly keeping track of where Huang Ying was.

    “There is a tiny Qi mark on you, he should be using that to know your location at all times.”

    “A Qi mark..... does it let him see what im doing, or just my location?” If it only allowed him to know Huang Ying's location then it was still fine, but if it also allowed him to see what Huang Ying was doing, he would have to leave immediately.

    “If he could see what you were doing, do you think he would go through the trouble of retracing your steps?” Li Jun's sarcastic voice rang out in Huang Ying's head, making him realize just how dumb his question was. Still, it was better to play it on the safe side and ask, rather than not ask and end up getting caught.

    “Right, dumb question. Can you remove it? And why didn't you tell me about it earlier, I don't imagine it being capable of hiding from your eyes.” Huang Ying did not know what boundary Li Jun managed to reach while he still had his body, but just his soul alone was so powerful, so Huang Ying refused to believe that Li Jun could not see through Xu Yin's mark.

    “I can remove it but if I did, he would know immediately and probably be even more suspicions. The reason I didn't tell you was so that you would not act suspicions and arouse his interest.”

    “I see.... how strong is the Qi mark?” What Li Jun said was reasonable, if Huang Ying had known about the mark, he would probably be very stiff and suspicious as he interacted with Xu Yin, tipping him off that something was wrong.

    “Energy at the peak of the 9th heaven should be just enough to remove it, why?”

    Xu Yin had only left behind a small mark to prevent Huang Ying from escaping before the tournament was over, so he would of course not go through the trouble of putting a large mark on Huang Ying, simply because there was no point in it. He would have never thought that there was something on Huang Ying's body capable of detecting the Qi mark.

    “Good, then I have an idea on how to get rid of it without arousing his suspicions.”

    If all it took to remove the mark was energy that had reached the peak of the 9th heaven, Huang Ying could use the combined force of his and his opponent's attack to erase the mark. Xu Yin would still notice it, probably even rush over to see what was happening. Since Huang Ying would be in the middle of the fight, Xu Yin would probably think that the mark had just been erased by the after effects of the attacks.

    The rest period only lasted for a short 15 minutes before they would draw their opponents. Huang Ying looked at who ended up being his opponent and couldn't help but let out a small chuckle as he looked at the people from Empyrean Phoenix with a smile that held a deep meaning.

    “Really, isn't your luck just great? So many easy rounds in a row can really make people envious of your great luck.”

    After saying his piece, Huang Ying entered the arena and faced his opponent, the last disciple from Yellow Springs. The girl from Empyrean Phoenix ended up being paired against the other disciple from Empyrean Phoenix and her opponent surrendered immediately.

    Huang Ying's opponent looked at him with a solemn face. He had seen Huang Ying fight, so he certainly would not be foolish enough to go easy on him just because he was only at the 8th heaven. He gripped his hand and a watery saber sprung out from his interspatial ring and into his hand.

    The saber was made out of a type of blue crystal that made it completely see through and made it look like it was made out of water. The saber was longer and less curved than a normal saber, the blade alone being as long as a grown mans entire arm.

    “You will have to forgive me for using a weapon against you, but your Ice element not only negates my Water element, it completely turns it against me, so my only chance at victory is if I use my other advantages against you.”

    The disciple from Yellow Springs spoke in a loud voice, he wanted to win, but winning by using a weapon while your opponent was barehanded would still leave a bad taste in his mouth.

    Huang Ying was rather surprised that this disciple from Yellow Springs was so honorable, it was a pleasant change of pace when compared to the either arrogant or ignorant people he was used to after going through all the memories he had absorbed.

    Huang Ying opened his hand and let his Ice Qi seep out of his body and into the surrounding Natural Energy before gathering towards his open hand. Before long, a 9 foot 9 inch ice spear had formed in his hand. The spear was simple and unadorned, but it radiated a majesty that only a spear, the king of weapons, could have.

    Huang Ying had spent quite some time going through all the memories he had absorbed, looking for a weapon and style he could use. He had contemplated between the saber and the spear for a while, but since he had more memories of people using spears, he ended up going for a spear as his weapon.

    Huang Ying grabbed the spear and slightly bent his body as he took his stance, looking like a cheetah ready to pounce. The disciple from Yellow Springs narrowed his eyes as he looked at Huang Ying. So far, he had never used a weapon while fighting, even when he fought the girl from Winter's Grasp, he had used his fists and element, so he assumed that Huang Ying did not use weapons.

    Now, looking at Huang Ying's stance as he held the spear, the disciple knew he was wrong, the only reason he had not used his weapon so far was because there was no need. As he thought about it a little more, he realized that there was not really a need for Huang Ying to use a weapon in this fight either, he could probably finish the fight quickly simply by using the overwhelming advantage his element gave him.

    “My name is Wen Xia, i thank you for taking me serious.” Wen Xia was not a fool, since there was no reason for Huang Ying to use a weapon, the only reason he would take out his weapon was as a show of respect against an honorable opponent.

    “I'm Huang Ying, take care.” Huang Ying gave his opponent a small nod before putting all his force into his foot, shooting forwards like a blur, almost twice as fast as he was in the last fights, as his Ice Qi melded into the surrounding Natural Energy, turning the surrounding 100 meters into his own domain.

    Wen Xia's eyes contracted when he saw the speed that Huang Ying burst out with. Wen Xia wasn't the only one, seeing that Huang Ying was almost twice as fast as he was in the previous fights, it did not require a lot of thought to realize that he had not even been close to serious in the last fights.

    Huang Ying arrived in front of Wen Xia and swept his spear sideways towards Wen Xia's chest. Wen Xia was caught by surprise, but he still managed to react, lifting his saber to block the incoming spear. As the spear made contact with the saber, he also raised his arm and tilted the saber, allowing the spear to slide along the blade and over him.

    Huang Ying grabbed the spear with both hands and channeled all his energy into his arms, stopping the spears momentum completely before reversing it, sweeping at Wen Xia once more. Wen Xia twisted his body slightly and chopped down with his saber, since finesse would not work right now, domineering power was the only other option.

    The saber chopped down on the spear and the ice spear completely shattered, the entire front half turning into a shower of ice. Huang Ying didn't stop the sweep, only pulling the spear back a little, looking like he hadn't even noticed that the spear had shattered. Wen Xia moved his eyes away from the shards and back to Huang Ying, if he wanted to know Huang Ying's next move, he would have to pay attention to how Huang Ying moved his body.

    Just as he moved his head to look at Huang Ying, he felt a sharp pain in his arms, nearly forcing him to drop his saber. He swiftly turned his head to the side and saw that the shards from the ice spear had turned into sharp spikes that had dug into his arms, slowly spreading ice across his arms. He wanted to move his arms to shake off the ice, but just then, something ice cold grazed his neck, stiffening his entire body.

    “I lose, seems like I was not even close to being your match, can't believe I even went as far as saying I would use my other advantages to win.”

    He stood still for a little while before heaving a deep sigh and shrugging his shoulders and giving a light chuckle. He turned his head a little as Huang Ying removed the spear from his neck. He knew that had this been a real fight, he would have died right there and then, a spear pierced through his throat, rather than just having it graze his neck.

    The ice on his arms receded and melted away like snow in the summer sun, returning mobility to his arms. He still had some small bloody holes in his hands, but the ice spikes hadn't hit anything vital, so just taking some pills and resting for a few days would be enough to completely heal these tiny wounds.

    “Thank you for taking mercy on me, I will be looking forward to your fight in the finale.” Wen Xia cupped his hands at Huang Ying before walking off the stage.

    “Well fought.” Huang Ying gave him a smile and cupped his hands in response before turning towards the Empyrean Phoenix seating area. He raised the reformed ice spear and pointed it at the girl with crimson hair, giving her a smile as he spoke.

    “15 minutes” He only spoke two words before leaving the arena and returning to the seating area and closing his eyes. Since she wanted to fight him, it was only fair that he gave it his all.

    “Really, aren't you just getting cheekier and cheekier the more you fight.” Li Jun gave a dry laugh as he commented on Huang Ying's action, but he didn't say anything else. He had after all also been young once, so there was no problem in being a bit cheeky at times.

    “Hehe, I told you that you would have to fight me sooner or later.” The girl from Empyrean Phoenix gave a laugh as she looked at Huang Ying, she was a fighting maniac, and there was nothing she loved more than fighting strong people.
  • Chapter 44: Shi Na

    The 15 minutes were spent in silence. Huang Ying and the girl from Empyrean Phoenix were sitting in their seats with their eyes closed. They hadn't spent much energy in their previous fights, but they both wanted to be at peak capacity for the next fight.

    The girl from Empyrean Phoenix knew that winning against Huang Ying would be hard, she could feel that he was a dangerous opponent. Meanwhile, Huang Ying could only use his Ice Qi during the fight, so winning against someone at the 9th heaven would be a bit more challenging.

    So far he had indeed won against opponents at the 9th heaven, but all the opponents he faced during this tournament were restrained by the sheer purity of his element. While the girl from Empyrean Phoenix used the same fire element as the other students from Empyrean Phoenix, Huang Ying was uncertain whether or not her blue fire would be restrained by his Ice Qi.

    When the 15 minutes were up, Huang Ying opened his eyes and stood up. His face was calm, his eyes deep like the ocean, and his aura entirely retracted. The 15 minute rest period allowed him to sift through more of the memories he had recently absorbed, discarding what he found useless and memorizing that which he determined to be useful.

    “Li Jun, where is Xu Yin now?”

    Huang Ying started walking towards the arena with slow steps, the girl from Empyrean Phoenix was already waiting for him on the stage, her eyes shining like burning obsidian.

    «Currently in The Waning Moon, he tried asking around about you, but he hasn't gotten any answer.»

    Li Jun's voice rang out in his head. Ever since Huang Ying asked about Xu Yin's whereabouts, he had locked a part of his perception onto his body, allowing him to know every move and action Xu Yin did.

    «I see, let me know if he finds Yang Xinyi or does anything I need to know. After the fight starts, im going to let myself get hit by her blue fire, use that chance to erase the mark Xu Yin has placed on me. He will probably rush over here once it disappears. Once he does, he will see that I am fighting and assume that the mark dissipated because of the fight. If he tries to place a new mark, there is no need to be too courteous, just directly erase it.»

    Huang Ying gave the order as he stepped into the arena. He had devoured plenty of robbers and thieves after walking through the streets at night, after going through their memories while he had the time, he had already made a mental map of the places in the capital that were best for hiding and shady business. Even if Xu Yin wanted to catch him now, if he managed to slip out of his perception for a short while, he was confident that he could escape.

    «Hehe, I told you didn't I? You will have to fight me sooner or later. I hope you won't hold back and fight me with everything you have, otherwise this victory will be boring.» The girl from Empyrean Phoenix spoke with a grin and a light laugh. Her laugh sounded like the ringing of silver bells, but the words she spoke truly didn't match her appearance.

    «You seem rather confident that you are going to win, but i'll have to disappoint you. I don't really feel like losing to some fake 'phoenix' descendants.» Huang Ying spoke with a faint smile as he formed the ice spear and took his stance.

    He had a slightly good impression of this blunt girl, but the fact that people who at best had some Vermilion Bird blood in them called themselves Phoenixes still grated on his nerves, the Phoenix could after all be said to have a slight relationship with him, so he would not give up the chance to knock these people down a peg.

    And sure enough, the people belonging to Empyrean Phoenix immediately started shouting and cursing at Huang Ying, even the teachers and headmaster looked at Huang Ying with grim faces. The only one who did not have any reaction was the girl in front of him.

    «Hehe, it is indeed as you said earlier, at best we only have some Vermilion Bird blood in us so we can't really be called Phoenixes or Phoenix descendants. But what does any of that have to do with me? It's not like I decided on the name Empyrean Phoenix. I only ended up there because there was someone I wanted to fight studying there. Im going to beat you, not as a student of Empyrean Phoenix, but as me, Shi Na, because it is fun to be the best.»

    The girl from Empyrean Phoenix, Shi Na, spoke with a ferocious grin as she pulled a longsword out of her interspatial ring and took stance opposite of Huang Ying.

    «Heh, fair enough, it's got nothing to do with you. Alright then, let me change it a little. I have no intention of losing to someone with such a contradictory name.»

    Hearing her words, Huang Ying couldn't help but give a small laugh as he responded.

    «What does my name have to do with this?» Shi Na had a slightly uneasy feeling when Huang Ying started talking about her name.

    «Come on now, Shi Na? Honest and Elegant? I can see you being honest, but where's the elegance?» Huang Ying gave a smirk as he poked fun at her name, seemingly finding it great fun to annoy his opponent.

    «Like i wanna hear that from you, Huang Ying? Bright Hero? Isn't that a little pretentious?» Shi Na responded by making fun of his name in return, puffing up her cheeks and pouting her lips.

    «Haha, fine fine, I won't poke fun at your silly name anymore. Let's just get this fight over with, I have plans i need to attend to later on.» Huang Ying gave a loud laugh at her words, he had also found his name to be rather contradictory, especially after thinking about how he acted in Yellow Winds Town.

    Huang Ying's face instantly turned serious as he took a step forward, cold air billowing around him as his Ice Qi integrated into the Natural Energy around him. His spear shone with a cold light as he shot forward and stabbed out, aiming for Shi Na's throat.

    Shi Na raised her sword and gently deflected the spear as she jumped to the side. She had seen how the spear exploded in the last fight, so hitting it too hard and shattering it would only give Huang Ying more weapons.

    Huang Ying borrowed the momentum to change the direction of the spear, attempting to use the spear handle like a staff and hit Shi Na in the side. Shi Na placed her sword at her side, using the blades edge to block the spear and preventing it from moving further. Seeing her block his attack with such ease, Huang Ying couldn't help but give an exclamation in surprise. His body had been strengthened several times since he left Azure Springs, it was approaching the level of a Demonic beast in toughness and strength, yet she blocked it so easily?

    «Seems like your muscles are a lot stronger than i thought, here I was thinking you would falter immediately.» Huang Ying couldn't help but comment as he pulled back the spear and jumped backwards to dodge Shi Na's retaliation.

    «What the fuck are you made of?! How can someone so slim hit so hard?» Shi Na couldn't help but yell in response as she slashed her sword at him, using short yet rapid slashes to slowly close in on him. She wanted to use stronger attacks, but after blocking the spear attack, her hands were almost completely numb, so she used the small attacks to buy time until her hands regained full mobility.

    Huang Ying found these short and fast attacks rather hard to deal with. Since he used a spear, he needed to get some distance to properly attack, he also required a small amount of time to build up the space needed to attack. But these short and rapid attacks made Shi Na stick to him like a maggot, preventing him from opening enough distance or even properly raise his weapon.

    Huang Ying hopped backwards slightly as Shi Na swiped the sword past his chest, trying to hop backwards just enough to dodge the attack before using the chance to build up some distance. But just as he hopped backwards, he felt a burning sensation on his chest. His face sunk as he looked down and saw a cut going horizontally across his chest. The wound was burnt shut so there was no blood seeping out, but Huang Ying still felt that the cut was deep enough to almost graze his ribs.

    He looked at the sword in Shi Na's hands and noticed small snakes of fire leaping around the blade tip, supplementing and extending the blade with a smaller blade of fire.

    «Fire elemental sword?» Huang Ying raised his eyebrow as he looked at the weapon. Most weapons did not have an element, meaning that they could not conduct Qi. If a weapon was forged using an elemental ore, that weapon would have that element, allowing it to conduct Qi of that type. The reason Huang Ying had to conjure a spear of ice instead of using a normal spear was solely because he did not have a spear that could conduct Ice Qi.

    «Hehe, indeed. I won this sword after beating the guy who was the reason for me joining Empyrean Phoenix. Pretty isn't she?» Shi Na spoke with obvious pride as she stroked the weapon. She loved seeing her opponents surprise after they found out it was an elemental weapon.

    «Heh, it really isn't bad, but if you want to use that to beat me, isn't that a bit too naive?» Huang Ying spoke with a smirk as he used the time while Shi Na was stroking her weapon to build up distance between them.

    «Hey! You cheat, that's rude, I was still talking!» Shi Na quickly realized that she had fallen for his ruse and couldn't help but curse him a bit before quickly dashing towards him again, crimson flames roaring into existence around her.

    How could Huang Ying possibly allow himself to fall into the same disadvantageous situation after just escaping it? He quickly backed up as the cold air around him surged towards Shi Na, freezing her flames as the came into existence. He tilted his spear downwards, letting the spear tip touch the arena ground. As the spear tip touched the ground, the cold air surged downwards, forming multiple smaller spears that shot towards Shi Na from above.

    Shi Na would not underestimate these spears, she imagined that if she allowed herself to let a single one of them pierce her, they would quickly propagate themselves by utilizing her frozen blood. She gave a cold snort, blue fire surging around her as feathers made of blue fire quickly spreading on her face and arms, this was the fake bloodline limit that Empyrean Phoenix used, only this one was fueled by her mutated blood.

    Huang Ying was shocked to see that the ice spears that came into contact with the blue fire started distorting, turning into even more blue fire. He couldn't help but click his tongue as he confirmed his thoughts. His Ice element didn't restrain her blue fire, it only fueled it. Shi Na thrust her palm outwards, sending a billowing wave of blue fire shooting straight at Huang Ying.

    «Li Jun, prepare to erase the mark.»

    Huang Ying gave a quick reminder as he circulated all his Ice Qi to build up a small defense, he even circulated a small amount of Devouring Qi beneath his skin to prevent the blue fire from wrecking havoc inside his body. He wasn't conceited enough to believe that he could get out unscathed after getting hit by this fire.

    The blue fire quickly engulfed Huang Ying, shrouding his figure in a sea of flames. Shi Na raised one of her eyebrows when she saw that he didn't even try to dodge, he even seemed to be waiting for it to hit him.

    «Is he dead?»

    Shi Na couldn't help but ask herself after Huang Ying still hadn't walked out from the fire after almost an entire minute. She was just about to disperse the fire when a cold wind surged out from the middle of the fire. The blue fire even showed signs of turning sluggish and dull after the wind passed it.

    «I'll have to thank you, I have been having a slight problem recently, so this fire came at the perfect time.»

    Huang Ying's voice came out from the fire and Shi Na even heard his footsteps. But before she could ask him what sort of problem her fire could have possibly fixed, she was shocked at his appearance.

    Huang Ying walked out off the fire, his clothes seemingly untouched, a faint smile on his face. But his hair had turned completely white, hanging down to his waist like a waterfall made of snow. His eyes were still black as the night, but there was now a golden slit in his pupils. The thing that shocked Shi Na the most was that she could feel the Vermilion Bird blood within her veins tremble in fear. Coupled with the intense pressuring feeling Huang Ying gave off now, she felt like she was facing a Primordial Beast.

    «What is that? He can't be using pills to increase his power right?» One of the teachers from Empyrean Phoenix stood up and shouted out.

    «What, you didn't really think you were the only ones who could use bloodline powers right?» Huang Ying tilted his head slightly and cast a mocking gaze towards the Empyrean Phoenix people. He had already considered his options, using the Devouring Qi openly was out of the question. Neither could he summon his Baku as it would attract too much attention.

    The White Tiger bloodline on the other hand, was the safest option. There were many Tiger type Demonic beasts that managed to reach a high enough grade to take human form and then integrated into human society, so there were many clans and people that had Tiger type bloodlines. If he used a bit of his, it would only seem like he had a bloodline from an ice type Tiger Demonic beast.
  • Chapter 45: The Conclusion

    “The mark has been completely removed and Xu Yin is on his way here now.” Li Jun's voice rang out in Huang Ying's mind. The only reason he had let the blue fire hit him was because he wanted to remove the tracing mark that Xu Yin had placed on him.

    And just as Huang Ying expected, Xu Yin rushed over to the arena with all his might. He came dashing in through the entrance, but seeing Huang Ying on the arena, facing Shi Na, he heaved a secret sigh of relief. If he allowed Huang Ying to simply slip away, he would certainly regret it. He was not sure if Huang Ying had anything to do with the disappearance of Yang Xinyi, but if he allowed Huang Ying to sneak away before the tournament ended, Willows Hope would lose their spot in the tournament and probably be ranked last again.

    Xu Yin walked back to the Willows Hope seating area, he had retraced all of Huang Ying's step, even going as far as to search the entire library. But he had not found a single suspicious thing, so he decided that he might as well leave it for later.

    Huang Ying only gave Xu Yin a quick glance before turning his gaze back to Shi Na. He clenched his fists and feeling the power coursing through his body, he couldn't help but let his mouth curl up into a smile. Last time he had activated the White Tiger Bloodline Limit, his entire body had bulked up, even going as far as growing fur on his arms.

    As he went through the memories that he had absorbed, he also spent quite some time familiarizing himself with the Bloodline Limit. His control over it's power steadily grew, allowing him to use it more effectively.

    His body would no longer bulk up and grow fur whenever he activated it, if it did, it would be a sign that he was wasting a large amount of the energy that the Bloodline Limit gave him. The fact that his hair turned white and his pupils gained a golden slit were the marks of the White Tiger, so there was nothing he could do about that.

    “I see, so you have a bloodline in you, a dangerously powerful one even. But if you think that just that will be enough to make me give up, you are wrong. I don't enjoy being taken advantage of, so i'm going to have to hit you a few times to patch up my broken ego.”

    Shi Na narrowed her eyes and circulated all the Vermilion Bird blood in her as she spoke, the blue feathers on her body gathering at her back, forming small blue wings of fire. When she saw Huang Ying release his Bloodline Limit, she knew that he had been going easy on her from the start. He could probably defeat her quite quickly if he just released the Bloodline Limit at the start, but he seemed to be waiting for something.

    As she thought about it a bit more and recalled his earlier words, she came to the conclusion that he had probably been waiting for her to use her blue fire. She thought about it some more, but she could not come up with any reason behind him wanting to get hit by her blue fire so she quickly threw her thoughts to the back of her mind, putting all her focus on the fight.

    “I don't mind if you want to hit me, but that will have to wait for some other day, I would like to end this now.” Huang Ying sent a slightly awkward smile at Shi Na, it seems like she had realized that he had been playing with her from the start.

    Huang Ying didn't conjure up another spear, when he activated his Bloodline Limit his body would be stronger than the conjured ice spear, so just using his fists would be better. Huang Ying slightly bent his knees as he transferred all the power coursing through his body into his legs.

    Huang Ying released the power and shot forward like a blur, appearing in front of Shi Na before she even managed to blink. Huang Ying sent his fist forward, sending it directly towards her abdomen. Shi Na barely managed to think, but she still managed to react on instinct. She positioned her left arm in front of her abdomen while slashing out with the sword in her right arm, aiming at Huang Ying's throat, trying to make him dodge rather than continue his attack.

    Huang Ying didn't stop his attack, taking a step forward instead. His fist crashed into her left arm and abdomen without stopping, making Shi Na feel like she was hit by a sledgehammer. Her sword lit up with flames as it cut through Huang Ying's chest, but Shi Na's heart sank when she saw his reaction.

    Her sword cut through the upper part of his chest, just a bit below the throat, but Huang Ying didn't even blink an eye, the pain from this cut was not even close to being as painful as the time the blood of Baku awakened and devoured everything in his body. Blood splashed out from the wound, but as it left his body, the blood of Baku started devouring the White Tiger bloodline, before swiftly devouring itself and vanishing. This was an instinctual reaction the that the blood of Baku that was in his body had. Once it left his body, it would swiftly devour itself and any other special blood, preventing anyone from harvesting the blood of Baku.

    Shi Na's body leaned forward as Huang Ying's fist sank into her stomach, a mouthful of scalding blood spurting out from her mouth. She gritted her teeth and forced her body to remain stable, not allowing her legs to leave the ground. She tilted her upper body sideways and off of the fist, taking the chance to slash a wound into Huang Ying's waist before quickly moving backwards, building up distance between her and Huang Ying.

    She stabilized her body while taking a few steps backwards, cautiously watching Huang Ying to analyze him, but what she saw only made her heart sing even further. The wound she had sliced open on his waist had already started closing itself, healing at a speed visible to the naked eye, the wound on his chest was almost completely gone already.

    “Really, how bad must my luck be to end up fighting against a freak like you.”

    Shi Na could only give a bitter smile as she saw his wounds heal, how was she supposed to win against something like that?

    “Still, I refuse to surrender. Only by fighting fights like this can I see where my shortcomings lie.”

    Her smile quickly changed from a bitter one, to one filled with a mad lust for battle. Seeing this smile, Huang Ying couldn't help but give a faint smile as he shook his head, this woman was really too much of a battle maniac, she even made him feel somewhat stifled.

    Huang Ying had a rather good impression of this blunt girl, but he still needed to win, so he clenched his fist and shot forwards once more, appearing in front of Shi Na. He shot forward his fist once more, but this time his fist carried with it his Ice Qi, instantly doubling in strength.

    “Stop! Surrender and admit defeat! Empyrean Phoenix will reimburse you with Spirit Stones!”

    As he swung his fist, a voice transmission entered Huang Ying's ears. Listening to the voice, Huang Ying could tell that it was the headmaster or Empyrean Phoenix, Deng Rong, who had sent it. Hearing this voice, Huang Ying's lips curved into a mocking sneer as his fist continued onward. Shi Na did not even manage to put up any defenses, she was still shaken up from the last punch, and Huang Ying simply moved too fast for her, she wasn't even sure when he suddenly arrived in front of her.

    Huang Ying's fist crashed into her chest with full force, cracking and shattering several of her ribs and sending her flying off the arena. In the end, Huang Ying still ended up going easy on her, pulling back the Qi he had charged into the fist, had he not done that, her injuries would instantly turn for the worse, possibly even threatening her life.

    Shi Na struggled to sit up outside of the arena as she threw her gaze at Huang Ying. She had been knocked out and wounded, but her eyes still shone with a mad lust for battle. Just those two punches of his made her realize that speed and defenses were some of her weak points. If just two punches made her realize that, how much more would she learn if she fought for ten exchanges? What about a hundred? Sadly, she had already lost, so she had no choice but to give up there.

    “I really wonder how a bunch of pigeons could end up producing someone like you.” Just as she was shaking her head with a bitter smile, Huang Ying's voice rang out, causing her to raise her head and look at him with a confused gaze.

    “Did you know that Deng Rong just tried to buy your victory? Really, he can't even handle a single loss, what a pathetic pigeon. Compared to someone like him, you are much more gracious in accepting your loss.”

    Huang Ying turned his eyes towards Deng Rong as he spoke, a mocking smile hanging on his lips. He really couldn't stand people as shameless as him. Deng Rong's face was dark as his eyes glared death at Huang Ying. Had it not been for the fact that Empyrean Phoenix was located in the capital, he would not mind standing up and cursing at Huang Ying.

    The audience was shocked at Huang Ying's words, but Shi Na was only slightly surprised. She had already spent an entire year at Empyrean Phoenix, so she had gotten some understanding into how they operated. She wasn't too worried about this loss, she was more worried about Huang Ying. Large sects and academies valued their face and reputation more than anything, and would go to great lenghts to remove anything that threatened their reputation.

    “I won. This was the last fight, so hand over the champion's prize.”

    Huang Ying simply ignored Deng Rong's vicious glare, he wasn't worried that Empyrean Phoenix would do anything to him, they still had to take their reputation into account, so they could not go overboard.

    Deng Rong continued to glare death at Huang Ying, but he also fished a bright green jade tablet out of his interspatial ring. The jade tablet was the size of a palm, a lotus carving taking up all the space on it. Deng Rong threw the jade tablet directly at Huang Ying.

    “All the information is within that tablet, it also doubles as an identification jade to prove who you are and get you into the Dragon Meeting.”

    Deng Rong spoke in a low voice before waving his sleeve and departing from the arena, he had already lost so much face, staying there would only humiliate him further. Huang Ying traced the jade tablet with his fingers before sinking his perception into it. Looking through the information within, he couldn't help but grimace.

    When they talked about the Dragon Meeting, he thought that it would be within the next few months, but according to this jade tablet, the Dragon Meeting would not take place for another four years. Huang Ying couldn't help but heave a sigh, it seemed like he still had a long wait ahead of him. He stored the jade into his interspatial ring before leaving the arena and heading towards the exit,

    “I did my part Xu Yin, you can deal with the rest. If you need me for anything, you can find me at the library.” Huang Ying waved his hands as he walked. The only reason he told Xu Yin where he was going was to prevent Xu Yin from noticing anything suspicious, acting just like he had done since they left Willows Hope.

    “I will find you! I am too weak now, but I will find you again in the future, and when I do, it will be you who is going to lose. I never lose a fight twice!”

    Just as Huang Ying was leaving the arena, Shi Na's loud voice came from behind him. Huang Ying turned his head and glanced at her, her eyes still shone with that mad lust for battle, but they also glimmered with determination. Seeing this look, Huang Ying was reminded of how he himself once looked at the gates of the academy in Azure Springs.

    “Sure, I will be waiting for you, but whether or not you can ever keep up with me is uncertain.”

    Huang Ying flashed her a teasing grin before leaving the arena. What he said wasn't meant to put her down, he was simply stating a fact. He had been cultivating for less than a year, but he was already stronger than even his peers, his Devouring Qi simply gave him too large a boost.
  • Chapter 46: Future Steps

    Huang Ying didn't take any detours, heading directly to the library. He had done everything he could to prevent Xu Yin from suspecting him, but there was no telling what Xu Yin was thinking, so it was best to play it safe.

    “Li Jun, did Xu Yin place a new tracking mark?”

    Huang Ying sat down in a corner of the library. He had been sitting in this corner ever since he first entered the library after coming to Clouds End, so there were several small towers of books placed against the wall.

    “No, but he has been following you with his perception since you left the arena.”

    Li Jun's voice rang out in Huang Ying's head. Ever since Huang Ying left the arena, Li Jun had focused all his concentration and perception on Xu Yin, keeping an even closer track on his every move.

    “I see, what else is he doing now? Is he just watching or is he preparing to return to Green Willows at the same time?”

    If Xu Yin was preparing to stay in Clouds End to keep a close watch on Huang Ying, it would get rather difficult to get to Yang Xinyi without alerting Xu Yin. It would be best if Xu Yin simply left Clouds End after not finding any traces of Yang Xinyi.

    “He has returned to the inn and gathered up the remaining people from Willows Hope, they seem to be preparing to return to Willows Hope before the day is over.”

    Li Jun gave a simple response, allowing Huang Ying to heave a sigh of relief. He could not let Yang Xinyi stay locked up in that room in The Waning Moon for too long either. While he had indeed reached a cultivation level where he could go for a few weeks without eating, Huang Ying had specified that he wanted Yang Xinyi crippled, so his cultivation was already completely gone. He was no more than a slightly stronger mortal now.

    “Good. Let me know when they have left Clouds End, that is when we will move out.”

    Huang Ying gave a small nod as he reminded Li Jun, before picking up a book to continue reading, gathering more information about the main continent was currently his most important task.

    “Very well. What are your plans for the future? You still have four years time, and I don't imagine you spending them just sitting around.”

    Li Jun switched the topic after affirming that he understood his task. He was stuck inside Huang Ying's spiritual sea, where his consciousness and thoughts were located, but he could not read Huang Ying's mind.

    Before the attack on Azure Springs, he could still approximate and deduce what Huang Ying was thinking and planning from his actions. But after he awakened the blood of Baku, he had become more taciturn, keeping his thoughts to himself and becoming harder to get a good read on.

    “Indeed. Since I have four years time, I will need to increase my strength as much as possible in these four years. My main plan is to search for the location of the three other Guardian Beasts, the Phoenix, the Xuanwu, and the Azure Dragon.”

    Huang Ying had been planing on finding the rest of the Guardian Beasts ever since the time he devoured the White Tiger. Now that he had four years of time to grow stronger, it seemed like a good time to find their prisons.

    “Oh? You intend to hunt them down and return them to the reincarnation cycle, stealing their bloodlines in the process?”

    Li Jun could somewhat imagine what Huang Ying was finding them for. He had made up his determination to find the three other Guardian Beasts ever since he found the White Tiger. He could fulfill the duty of Baku while simultaneously using their blood to strengthen himself.

    “That too, but it is mostly because there is something suspicious about how they were taken down and imprisoned all those years ago, i'd like to get to the bottom of it.”

    Huang Ying had spent quite some time going through and deciphering the memories he devoured from the White Tiger, and the more he thought about some of the things he saw, the more confused and suspicious he got.

    “Oh, suspicious? Like what?”

    “It's like this, you know how the White Tiger said that the Four Guardian Beasts could only be killed and returned to the reincarnation cycle by Baku? I can tell you now that it is not true. Baku is the concept that everything will come to an end sooner or later, so while Baku is indeed capable of killing the Guardian Beasts and returning them to the reincarnation cycle, he is not the only thing capable of doing it.”

    “All it requires is something of a higher tier of power. Almost like a Xiantian expert can easily kill a cultivator at the 9th heaven. Since whatever fought the Guardian Beasts all those years ago was capable of completely debilitating and trap them, they could of course also kill them, they simply chose not to. I want to know why.”

    Huang Ying inherited the blood and some memories of Baku and then devoured the blood and memories of the White Tiger, so he was very clear on just how powerful they were. Most of the memories about the battle they took part in so many years ago were completely ruined, but Huang Ying could still approximate how strong their opponents were. The Four Guardian Beasts were simply unable to contend with them, so they should have been killed. But they were not, they were only weakened and locked away.

    “It seems like you have spent quite some time thinking about this, what you say certainly sounds reasonable.”

    Li Jun started thinking about it as well, and slowly started to find more and more suspicious points, especially when he compared the knowledge he had from when he was cultivating with what he knew now.

    “I don't like undertaking such a huge quest like freeing the Guardian Beasts without knowing all the information, so of course I thought about it a lot. And the more I thought, the more suspicious I found it.”

    Huang Ying had been given the responsibility to return the four Guardian Beasts to the reincarnation cycle. Facing such a monstrous task, he could not afford to handle it lazily, so he went through all the memories he had regarding the Guardian Beasts several times.

    After Huang Ying finished explaining, he returned to reading. Periodically he would ask Li Jun what Xu Yin was doing. Xu Yin did not immediately return to Willows Hope, he instead started wandering around town, sending out his perception to look for Yang Xinyi.

    Huang Ying heaved a sigh of relief when he saw that Xu Yin didn't seem to find anything and was forced to return to the inn empty handed. He couldn't help but mentally praise The Waning Moon and their ability to remove all traces of Yang Xinyi. Xu Yin took the rest of the people from Willows Hope and returned to Green Willows after they had grabbed some dinner, making up a simple excuse for Huang Ying and Yang Xinyi's absence.

    He could not afford to let them know that Yang Xinyi had simply vanished, if news of that got out, there was no telling what the Imperial Family of Green Willows would do to him.Huang Ying didn't leave the library for The Waning Moon immediately, instead waiting for several hours, until it was past midnight, before getting up and leaving the library.

    “Alright, let's go. It should be safe to retrieve Yang Xinyi know.”
  • Chapter 47: Yang Xinyi.

    Huang Ying left the library at a leisure pace. He didn't head directly for The Waning Moon, choosing to wander the streets for a little while, acting like a tourist. After spending another hour just wandering around the streets, Huang Ying turned towards The Waning Moon.

    “Li Jun, isolate me from others perception.”

    Huang Ying could circulated his Devouring Qi to devour the surrounding Natural Energy and his own energy fluctuations. But this would only make it hard for people to sense his cultivation level, and even then, it only worked on people that were around his level of strength. If he wanted to make himself impossible to detect through other peoples perception, he would have to rely on Li Jun. Anything he himself would be able to set up would be useless in the face of anyone at the Xiantian level of power.

    “Got it. No one should be able to sense you now.”

    As Li Jun's voice reverberated in his mind, Huang Ying could feel a heavy energy seep out of his head and cover his entire body. This energy was Li Jun's own perception, mixed with his Spiritual Energy, the energy of his soul. This way, unless they were stronger than Li Jun, the only way someone would be able to detect Huang Ying was if they were standing there looking at him.

    Once Li Jun isolated Huang Ying's presence, Huang Ying slipped away from the main street, silently entering a narrow back alley. He stored his blue robe into his interspatial ring and draped himself in a spacious black robe that covered his entire body. He then put on the same black mask he wore the first time he entered The Waning Moon.

    Huang Ying left the back alley and resumed his aimless wandering. Xu Yin had left Clouds End and there should be no one else that was spying on him, but Huang Ying still felt that it would be better to err on the side of caution. He continued wandering the streets for another half hour before finally ending up in front of The Waning Moon.

    Huang Ying once again entered that run down tavern, slowly walking up to the counter. The counter was still manned by the same round man as it was last time, he was even polishing some glasses, just like he had last time. Huang Ying did not waste any time on words, merely pulling a small copper plate out from under the black robe. This copper plate only had a simple number engraved on it and was used as identification, identifying Huang Ying as the person who had rented this room.

    The round man would obviously not waste time talking when the customer preferred silence, leading Huang Ying to the rented room in silence. Huang Ying's room was located up two flights of stairs and at the very end of a hallway, located as far from the bar part of the tavern as possible.

    The round man pressed a small key into Huang Ying's hands before giving a small bow and leaving. His only job in the tavern was to run the bar and lead people to their reserved rooms or to the areas where 'special' business would take place. What happened in those areas or rooms, he would not ask about, nor dared he, the only reason he could buy this place was because the last owner was too nosy for his own good.

    Huang Ying used the key to unlock the room and enter, quickly locking the door behind him. The room was a very standard room you would see in any tavern. A single wooden bed with coarse sheets, a small nightstand next to the bed. A single round table surrounded by chairs to give the inhabitant a place to eat in peace, a large cabinet where the inhabitant could store their clothes, and a small washroom where the inhabitant could do his personal business.

    There was a small, round lamp hanging from the ceiling, illuminating the room. These types of lamps didn't use fire to light up the room, instead they used the Cores of Demonic beasts that were either of the Light or Fire element.

    Every Demonic beast would have a Core within them, this core served as their dantian, storing and regulating their Qi. It was often used in alchemy or forging, granting a certain element to a pill or weapon, it was considered the most valuable part of any Demonic beast.

    On the bed was a tied up middle aged man. His green robe was tattered and torn, his face covered in blood. He was slightly trembling, seeming to be at deaths door. When Huang Ying entered the room, he slightly raised his head, glaring at Huang Ying, looking like he wanted to eat his flesh and drink his blood.

    Huang Ying slowly walked up to the bed, grabbing a chair on the way and positioning it at the side of the bed. Huang Ying sat down on the chair and leaned his body forward a slight bit, placing his hands together as he just sat there and looked at Yang Xinyi in silence.

    “Is anyone spying on this room Li Jun?”

    Huang Ying did not want to end up being discovered at this point, especially after he had been so careful while he was wandering through town. If he simply started talking and devouring Yang Xinyi immediately, and someone happened to be spying on this room and catching him, he would not know whether he should laugh or cry.

    “No one is spying right now, but I will extend my perception to cover this entire room. This way, even if they want to spy, they won't be able to.” Just as Li Jun said, Huang Ying could feel the heavy energy surrounding his body expand, covering the entire room and isolating it from the outside world.

    “Really now Teacher Yang, if only you hadn't started plotting against me, none of this would have happened. You could have returned to Willows Hope and live your life in leisure, and I could have moved on and done my own things.”

    Huang Ying didn't take off the mask, simply shaking his head and speaking with a sigh. Hiring The Waning Moon to take care of Yang Xinyi was a risky thing to do, but he simply could not let Yang Xinyi live after he showed his killing intent. Had Yang Xinyi never harbored thoughts of killing Huang Ying, Huang Ying would not have to risk being found out by Xu Yin, and he could spend his days more leisurly.

    “It's yo...”

    Yang Xinyi's voice was hoarse and weak, struggling with each letter. But before he managed to finish his first sentence, a small black serpent whose entire back was covered in small spikes slithered out from Huang Ying's robe and sank it's teeth into Yang Xinyi's thigh. Yang Xinyi didn't feel any pain, the only reason he stopped his sentence was because he suddenly felt like he lost his voice. It was like something suddenly removed his ability to talk. He tried to formulate the words, but they simply vanished once they reached his mouth.

    “There is no need to talk. Anything I want to know, you will tell me. Whether you want to or not.”

    Huang Ying placed his palm on Yang Xinyi's forehead as he spoke. If it were under normal circumstances, he would never be able to devour anything from Yang Xinyi, the difference in strength was simply too large. But now Yang Xinyi was crippled, his cultivation wasted, his body drained of all Qi. Huang Ying had decided to have him crippled instead of killed for two reasons.

    The first reason was because he wanted to know exactly why Yang Xinyi would suddenly show killing intent against him. The second reason was because Huang Ying could feel that he was close to reaching the 9th heaven, the Tribulation Heaven. This meant that his dantian would have to face a small heavenly tribulation before he could move on to the next level of cultivation, so devouring all of Yang Xinyi's Qi would be useless, it would only increase the power of the heavenly tribulation.

    Yang Xinyi wanted to shake off Huang Ying's hand and shout for help, but the little black serpent once more bit down on his thigh, and he suddenly found himself unable to muster up any power in his body. He could only lay there and allow Huang Ying's hand to press down on his head.

    Black smoke started to seep out from under Huang Ying's robe, quickly gathering up and forming several black tendrils. Fear finally crept into Yang Xinyi's eyes as he looked at those black tendrils. He moved his eyes onto Huang Ying's face in an attempt to plead, but all that greeted him was a blank mask with two slits for eyes.

    The black tendrils moved, digging into Yang Xinyi's body before they started devouring. Yang Xinyi didn't feel any pain, all he felt was an itching feeling in his entire body, an itch that grew so bad that it almost drove him insane. This itch scared him more than any pain could, because he also felt everything within him slowly vanish as the itch grew worse, he even noticed that even his memories were slowly disappearing.

    Huang Ying didn't want to devour him this slowly, he preferred the instantaneous devouring he usually did. But he had to do it more slowly this time, he had no need for all of Yang Xinyi's memories, nor did Yang Xinyi have a bloodline or special body, so Huang Ying was filtering out everything he didn't need while he was devouring him.

    Huang Ying only kept a few of Yang Xinyi's memories that seemed like they would be useful. As he went through these memories, he found the reason why Yang Xinyi had targeted him. It turned out that Yang Xinyi had special eyes. When he was young, he had eaten many herbs, one of them being a Heaven's Eye Mushroom, the same that Huang Ying had eaten.

    But Yang Xinyi had eaten many more herbs than Huang Ying, allowing his Energy Vision to mutate and evolve, eventually giving him the ability to see if people had any special bodies or bloodlines. He had used these eyes on Huang Ying and noticed that Huang Ying had a very powerful bloodline. Yang Xinyi wanted to take this bloodline for himself, giving him greater hope of breaking past the Xiantian stage.

    Huang Ying would not leave behind such a useful ability, so before he finished off Yang Xinyi, he sent his Devouring Qi into his eyes, devouring and stealing his ability to see bloodlines and special physiques. Upgrading his own Energy Vision was accompanied by a stabbing pain in his eyes, but Huang Ying just grit his teeth and finished devouring Yang Xinyi.

    Once he was done, the only thing left of Yang Xinyi were the clothing he had worn, and the robes that had been used to bind him. Huang Ying had finished what he came here for, so he stood up and returned the chair back to the table. He picked up the clothing and the rope and stored it into his interspatial ring, before heading out of the room and returning the key and copper plate to the round man. Now he would have to start looking into places that could be the prisons of the three other Guardian Beasts.
  • Chapter 48: Orders From Above.

    After finishing the business with Yang Xinyi, Huang Ying spent another day in the library, ordering Li Jun to keep a close watch on the area around the library. After not finding anything suspicious, Huang Ying breathed a sigh of relief. He had been on high alert recently, ready to be attacked by Xu Yin at any point, but now it seemed like he could finally relax a little.

    He moved out of the library and rented a decent room in a small inn. During the days he would either be in the library or wandering around town and taverns. Clouds End was the capital of the entire Clouds Reach continent, so it was filled with people from all around the continent, there was no better place to gather information.

    During the nights he would return to the inn and cultivate through the night. He could feel his tribulation approaching, so while he could not absorb more Natural Energy from the surroundings, he could still increase his familiarity with both his Qi and bloodlines.

    Like this, Huang Ying managed to spend a few days doing things at his own pace. While meditating, he could also split part of his attention to going through the memories he had devoured, slowly sifting out the useful from the useless. He spent most of his time on the memories that had to do with either different crafting professions, or cultivation info. Huang Ying managed to spend almost an entire month following this routine, slowly calming his tensed mind.

    He could just ask Li Jun if he wanted to know more advanced information about cultivation, but Li Jun's knowledge was only focused on his own element, so he would not know how to attack or utilize Ice or Devouring Qi. Huang Ying could use the memories he had devoured to become more proficient with his Ice Qi, while experimenting on his own to become more proficient with Devouring Qi.

    It was a little past midnight, Huang Ying was sitting with crossed legs on the bed, breathing with a slow and steady rhythm. This was how Huang Ying meditated, meditating allowed him to calm his mind and relax his body. The silence in the room was broken by a few light knocks on the door.

    Huang Ying opened his eyes and got off of the bed, but he didn't go to open the door. He instead used his perception to check the situation outside his room. Outside the room stood a neat middle aged man with a polite smile. He was clad in a loose gray robe, his face was chiseled with a small amount of stubble on his chin. Huang Ying had seen him several times in the library, but never talked with him

    “Li Jun, what do you think?”

    Huang Ying could not feel any energy fluctuations from him, even after using his Energy Vision, but he still felt somewhat uneasy so he decided to ask Li Jun. Li Jun had been alive for much longer than Huang Ying and was also much more adept at judging people.

    “I don't feel any energy fluctuations from him, so he should be a normal mortal. I have also seen him around you several times, he should be a librarian from the library.”

    Li Jun gave his analysis. If not even Li Jun could feel any energy fluctuations from him, then unless he was a cultivator that was stronger than Li Jun, he was most likely truly just a normal mortal.

    The man knocked on the door once more, this time a bit harder than the first time, Huang Ying made his way to the door and opened it slightly, just because he knew who the other party was did not mean that he would just blindly trust them.

    “Can I help you with anything?” Huang Ying had only opened the door slightly, not even enough to poke his head out. So the man outside could only see half of his face through the opening.

    “Hello, i'm sorry for coming here so late, but I was just cleaning the library when I found this pouch, im afraid you dropped it, so I came to deliver it.”

    The man spoke with a pleasant voice, reaching into his robe while he was talking. Huang Ying was just about to open his mouth and inform the man that he did not carry pouches around with him, when the warning bells in his mind suddenly rang out.

    Huang Ying did not think twice, immediately slamming the door shut and attempting to move backwards. Before he managed to move away from the door, the gray robed man pulled his hand out from under his robe, but this time his hand was covered in a black glove that gave off a metallic sheen. The gray robed man punched out, his fist going straight through the door and crashing into Huang Ying's face.

    Huang Ying felt like someone had hit him with a sledgehammer, his vision temporarily going black as he was thrown backwards. He slammed into the wall on the other side of the room, his entire face now dripping with blood, his nose and jaw had completely shattered from that single punch.

    “Li Jun, what the hell?! You said he was a normal mortal!”

    Huang Ying shouted out in his mind while he fumblingly stood up and flung himself out the window. He had rented a room on the second floor, so it was only a short fall. He landed on his feet and quickly started sprinting, one hand cradling his jaw.

    “He's using the Moon Concealing Art! I couldn't see it before he actually made a move, but it seems like someone is out for you, even going as far as hiring The Waning Moon.”

    Li Jun's shocked voice rang out in Huang Ying's mind. The Moon Concealing Art was a skill used by The Waning Moon, it allowed the user to hide all signs of energy fluctuations from their body, making them seem like a mortal. They used this skill on their assassins to allow them to integrate into normal business. This way, they had eyes and ears all over the city that could spring into action at any time.

    “Do you think it's Xu Yin?”

    Huang Ying spoke while running, but he found it to be highly unlikely, he had made Li Jun keep track of Xu Yin ever since the last part of the tournament, and Xu Yin never seemed to come into contact with The Waning Moon.

    “Highly unlikely. Xu Yin would order them to kill you, but the man that just attacked was actually at the mid stages of the Xiantian Builder level, but he did not kill you with a single attack, instead looking to knock you out. Whoever hired them, wants to capture you alive it seems.”

    Li Jun spoke out with a grave voice, having assassins hired to kill you was nice and simple, you knew exactly what the other party wanted. But if they came to take you alive, there was no telling what they wanted.

    Huang Ying was slightly shocked that they would send someone at the mid stages of Xiantian Builder after him. Xiantian Builder was the name of the cultivation stage after one broke through the 9th heaven. It was called Xiantian Builder because the Qi crystal in the dantian would have been shattered and reformed, turning into a World Seed. The cultivator would then have to use this World Seed to build a small world in their dantian.

    Huang Ying continued running for a short while, but he quickly noticed that the gray robed man did not even seem to be chasing him. He had Li Jun send his perception towards the inn, scanning the path he had just run. The results were just as Huang Ying had thought, the gray robed man wasn't following him.

    Instead of making Huang Ying relaxed, this fact only made him even more uneasy, he hated facing something he did not understand. Just as he was about to keep moving, a flash of crimson light shot at him from an inconspicuous back alley. Huang Ying twisted his body to avoid that crimson light, but it never even reached him, it simply exploded into a sea of flames in front of him, completely flooding his vision with light.

    The stinging pain from the light forced Huang Ying to close his eyes. He tried to take a step back and turn around and run, but someone grabbed his shoulders from behind and stopped him. He heard someone run up to his front, and the next thing he felt was someone punching him in the stomach. When the punch hit him in the stomach, he felt a strange energy enter his body and lock down his dantian, preventing him from extracting any Qi from the Qi crystal.

    “Hah, i'm sorry kid, we really don't want to do this. But we have been ordered from someone very high up, so high up that we simply don't dare follow the orders.”

    Huang Ying heard someone speak to him with a deep sigh and an apologetic voice. After the voice finished speaking, Huang Ying felt someone hit him in the head again. The punch was simply too strong, Huang Ying barely had any time to think before his entire mind went blank and he passed out. His last thoughts before he passed out was him wondering who could possibly give the owner of that voice, Empyrean Phoenix headmaster Deng Rong, orders.
  • Chapter 49: Imprisoned.

    When Huang Ying awoke, he felt a throbbing pain in his head. His mouth was dry and his eyelids were heavy, his mouth was filled with the taste of dried blood. He didn't open his eyes immediately, pretending to still be knocked out, silently straining his ears to listen to his surroundings.

    “Li Jun, where are we?”

    Huang Ying knew that even though he was knocked out, there was no way for them to know about Li Jun. Thanks to that, Huang Ying had a small advantage. While they thought that he would have no idea about the situation, or even his location at the moment. As long as he had Li Jun, he would be able to get a grasp of the situation and the surrounding area.

    “Empyrean Phoenix Academy, in a small prison two floors below the main building.”

    Li Jun's voice rang out in his mind. Li Jun had already been waiting for Huang Ying to wake up for several hours already. As long as he woke up, they would be able to start planning their escape.

    “What happened after I was knocked out?”

    Huang Ying wasn't too surprised that he was brought to the Empyrean Phoenix Academy, he had already identified their headmaster, Deng Rong, as one of his attackers. Since he already knew where he was, the next step was finding out what had happened. Only by having enough information would he be able to figure out his next step.

    “They put you in a barrel and placed you on a small carriage filled with barrels. After that they brought the entire carriage back to Empyrean Phoenix and brought you down here.”

    Li Jun spoke while stifling a small laughter, watching Huang Ying get stuffed in that barrel was something he found immensly funny.

    “I see, did they take anything?”

    Huang Ying decided that it was best to simply ignore Li Jun's stifled laugh and move on to the next topic. At the moment, all he could properly feel was the throbbing pain in his head, so he was uncertain if anything had been removed from his body. If he lost everything that was in his interspatial rings, it would become a lot harder to travel around after escaping.

    “They took the interspatial ring on your left hand, but I made sure to hide the one on your right hand, so while they took most of the herbs and pills you had stored up before leaving Green Willows, you still have the different weapons and more valuable items that you took from the people of Yellow Winds Town.”

    Li Jun could have covered both of Huang Ying's interspatial rings with his perception, making them seem like completely normal rings. But he also knew that if he did that, Huang Ying's captors would find it suspicious that he didn't have any interspatial rins. At that point, they might even end up taking all the rings, just to be safe. So he decided to sacrifice the herbs and pills, allowing Huang Ying to keep the assorted weapons and slightly more valuable items.

    “Good, at least we didn't end up empty handed. Did they mention anything about why I was captured or what their plans are?”

    Huang Ying did not for one second believe that Empyrean Phoenix would be willing to put it's reputation at risk for something so small as losing a small tournament like the Academy Battle. Deng Rong also mentioned that it was orders from above, so there was obviously something else that was driving them to do this.

    “The only mention about why you were captured was that it was orders from above. The order seems to have come from very high up, they passed a few students while they were bringing you down here, but they seemed to simply ignore you. Seems like someone really high up in the hierarchy can't stand you. As for what their plans are, they didn't mention anything.”

    Li Jun had put all his focus on the captors and the surroundings after Huang Ying was captured, he refused to let even the smallest detail slip. The way he saw it, if Huang Ying ended up dying in their captivity, he would regain his freedom. But since they went through all the trouble of catching him alive, they obviously had other plans for him.

    Since it was like that, the odds of Huang Ying escaping were higher than the odds of him dying. At that point, it would be better for Li Jun to help Huang Ying escape, slowly making Huang Ying friendly towards him again. Li Jun knew that even though Huang Ying was acting friendly with him, he still had his guard up, at best only believing half of what Li Jun was saying.

    “I see, seems like we are knee deep in shit huh? How much time has passed?”

    Since even Li Jun would say that someone high up was out for him, Huang Ying had no choice but to admit that he was close to being fucked, a single wrong step could easily be the end of him. Knowing how much time had passed since he was knocked out was just to help him get his thoughts back on track.

    “You were captured a little over one day ago, you've been out for around 30 hours or so. They have come to check on you twice in that time. The only guard outside seems to just be a normal student who recently joined, not even at the 6th heaven yet.”

    Li Jun was actually rather surprised by how long Huang Ying had been knocked out for. One had to know that Huang Ying had the blood of not just Baku, but also the White Tiger. He had also strengthened his body several times through his devouring of Demonic beasts, his body was already as strong as a Demonic beast.

    “Seems like they think i'm useless without my Qi. Did you make sure to memorize the escape path?”

    Huang Ying didn't place the guard in his eyes, he could easily defeat cultivators at the 8th heaven using just his bodily strength, so a cultivator at the 6th heaven was like an ant to him. The most important thing now was to make sure that he knew exactly where the shortest escape path was located.

    Even though Deng Rong had put a seal on his Qi crystal, preventing him from extracting any Qi from it, he could still circulate Qi through the crystal. Spending a bit of time circulating his Devouring Qi around the Qi crystal, letting it come in contact with the seal, would allow him to get rid of the seal, so he wasn't too worried.

    “Of course, I have also marked anyone that could threaten you. I also prevented them from placing any tracing marks on you, to them, it looks like you can't be located through perception. It's a bit risky since they were able to lock onto you with their perceptions while you were in town, but it's the only choice we have right now.”

    As Li Jun spoke, he connected Huang Ying with his own perception, allowing Huang Ying to see where all the marked people were located, while also sharing the information about the escape path with him. Huang Ying didn't mind that Li Jun made the choice to sacrifice the herbs and pills in favor of keeping the weapons and slightly more valuable items.

    The herbs and pills were of no use to him right now, and since he could not use any Qi, the weapons would be more helpful to him right now. Of course if he had it his way, he would escape without ever needing to fight anyone.

    “Good. I'll pretend to be unconscious for a while longer, after they have checked up on me once more, that's when i'll try to get out.”

    Checking out the the surroundings and the locations where the marked people were, Huang Ying was confident that he would be able to escape as long as he made sure to avoid the marked targets.

  • Chapter 50: Escape Attempt.

    After only spending another hour pretending to be unconscious, one of the people marked by Li Jun made his way downwards to the prison, stopping outside the door to look inside and chat with the guard.

    “Has there been any movement?”

    Huang Ying had not heard this voice before, so he knew that the one who came to check up on him this time was not headmaster Deng Rong, but rather someone else.

    “No sir, he has yet to wake up.”

    As the guard spoke, the sound of leather moving and leather hitting leather rang out, the guard obviously gave a salute to the man who just arrived. Since he could get the students to salute him, the man who arrived seemed to have a position that was higher than an elder, otherwise the student would only give him a bow.

    “I see, make sure to inform me and headmaster Deng Rong the moment there are signs of him waking up.”

    The man peeked into the prison cell through a small hole in the door, personally checking on Huang Ying. Seeing that Huang Ying was still lying in the same position, breath calm and steady, the man was convinced that he was still unconscious and turned around to leave.

    “Yes Sir!”

    The guard gave another quick salute as the man left, before silently letting out a sigh of relief and muttering to himself.

    “The vice-headmaster sure is scary, almost felt like my heart was going to jump out off my chest.”

    Huang Ying ignored the guards muttering and continued to lay in the same position. He would have to wait a little longer, long enough for the so called vice-headmaster to get far enough away.

    Huang Ying waited in silence for half an hour, after half an hour, the vice-headmaster had finally moved far enough away for Huang Ying to feel comfortable with taking action. Huang Ying silently stood up, the cell he was in was completely dark, but Huang Ying had already used his perception to scan the entire room.

    He had to rely on Li Jun's perception to track the stronger people and cover a larger area, but if it was just scanning a small area, Huang Ying's perception alone would be enough. The cell was very simple, being less than three meters in every direction, with only a single stone bed in the room. There were no windows, only a wooden door with the thickness of normal arm.

    Huang Ying gave his body a quick stretch, the throbbing pain was still there, but Huang Ying was able to ignore it for now. After making sure that there was nothing wrong with his body, he silently walked forward, until he was right by the door. He used his perception to quickly scan the outside, using Li Jun's perception to double check.

    Seeing that the guard was the only person around, Huang Ying decided to take action. He took a step backwards before quickly kicking out with his right leg. The door was just a normal wooden door, that single kick directly shattered it's hinges, causing it to fall forwards.

    Huang Ying dashed out immediately, using his left hand to grab the door, preventing it from falling to the floor. He threw out his right arm, grabbing the throat of the shocked guard before he managed to make a sound. Huang Ying clenched his right hand, completely crushing the throat of the guard and ending his life.

    The guard could be considered innocent in all this, only acting on orders to guard Huang Ying. But Huang Ying could not afford to let the guard live, if he let the guard live, he would most likely warn the headmaster and the others.

    Huang Ying slowly lowered the door and the guard to the ground, making sure that he kept the noise to a minimum. After he finished lowering them, he started making his way out of the prison.

    He had spent the time he was pretending to be unconscious looking over the best escape path, memorizing it and any possible changes he would have to make. He was two floors below the academy itself, his cell was located rather far from the stairs upwards, but it would only take him around 10 minutes to get there.

    After getting one floor up, he would have to move more slowly, as there were more guards located on that floor. After taking the stairs up and out of the prison, he would end up at the bottom of a small mountain that the academy used to grow their herbs.

    The prison was mainly only used to house students that had committed some smaller crimes, so there were not a lot of guards. On the floor Huang Ying was on right now, there was only one other guard and no other prisoners. The guard was located in front of the stairs upwards, but he was also only at the 6th heaven, so Huang Ying did not consider him a problem.

    Huang Ying followed the path he had outlined earlier, quickly reaching the stairs upwards. The guard in front of the stairs was clad in a type of dark red leather, an insignia of a caged phoenix embroidered on his chest.

    Huang Ying hid behind a corner, quickly scanning the surroundings and all the marked targets. From where Huang Ying was, there were only around 25 meters of straight hallway that separated him from the guard. Huang Ying didn't want to give the guard time to make any noise, so instead of dashing forward and killing him with his fists, he pulled out a green bow from his interspatial ring.

    This was the bow Huang Ying had scavenged from a Blood Ant Hive in The Wilderness. He had hoped to get some more use out of it, but found that it's range ended up being unsatisfactory after reaching the 8th heaven. He truly didn't expect that he would end up finding a use for it here.

    He quickly readied an arrow and stepped out from behind the corner and fired it. The arrow quickly reached the guards throat, sealing his voice. Huang Ying stored the bow and dashed forward, quickly delivering a punch to the guards throat before pulling out the arrow and storing it.

    The reason Huang Ying delivered a final punch to the guards throat and even took back the arrow, was to leave behind no evidence that he had something that could store a weapon. That way, if his escape attempt failed, they would not know that he had an interspatial ring on him.

    Huang Ying quickly moved up the stairs, but as he did, he also felt that two of the marked people started moving towards the prison at high speed. The headmaster and vice-headmaster had no doubt already found out about his escape attempt.

    Huang Ying grit his teeth and sped up, moving through the prison at full speed. There were only four guards on this floor of the prison, Huang Ying could move around three of them, but there was one located right in front of the stairs that led to the outside.

    There were no places Huang Ying could properly hide on this floor, if there were, Huang Ying would just wait in one of those places while the headmaster and vice-headmaster headmaster moved past him. With Li Jun shielding him from their perception, they would have to see him with their own eyes to find him.

    Huang Ying quickly reached the stairs, since the headmaster and vice-headmaster knew that he was running, there was no need to be quiet anymore. He simply dashed forward and grabbed the guards head. Ignoring the guards screams, he slammed the guards head against the wall, crushing his head open.

    He ran up the stairs and out off the prison. The outside was blanketed by the dark of night, but Huang Ying could still make out his surroundings. Behind him was a small mountain, barely reaching 900 meters in height. The side facing Huang Ying was barren, but he knew that the other side of the mountain was covered by an array that promoted the growth of the herbs.

    About 15 kilometers away from him was a magnificent building that seemed like a massive palace. Huang Ying assumed that this building was the actual Empyrean Phoenix Academy, so he promptly turned around and ran in the other direction. If he kept running the other direction, after about 30 kilometers, he would arrive at a forest where he would have more options to hide.

    Huang Ying didn't manage to run very far before he felt the air behind him heat up. Slightly turning his head, he saw two flaming balls hurdling towards him. Huang Ying knew that these two flaming balls were in fact the headmaster and vice-headmaster. The fact that they were capable of flight meant that they had reached a cultivation level that surpassed Xiantian Builder.

    “Give it up kid, you won't be able to get away!”

    The voice of headmaster Deng Rong rang out from behind Huang Ying, but he simply ignored it and kept dashing forward. He still needed to cross around 20 kilometers, so he simply did not want to waste any time talking.

    Seeing that he had no intention of stopping, headmaster Deng Rong nodded to the vice-headmaster before increasing his own speed. The vice-headmaster seemed to have taken the hint, slightly shifting his course before speeding up and coming at Huang Ying from the left.

    With the headmaster coming from behind him, and the vice-headmaster coming at him from the left, Huang Ying had no choice but to shift his course towards the right. Li Jun was constantly directing Huang Ying, telling him where to run.

    Huang Ying had just crossed a small hill when the ground beneath him lit up. Bright red lines lit up all around Huang Ying, before suddenly shooting up from the ground and entangling him. Huang Ying's dash came to a grinding halt when he was caught by these red lines.

    “Did you really think that we had no safety measures guarding our academy? Wouldn't we just be begging people to come rob us if we didn't put up some traps here and there?”

    Headmaster Deng Rong and the vice-headmaster landed behind Huang Ying and the vice-headmaster spoke in a mocking tone, before slamming his palm into the back of Huang Ying's head, knocking him out instantly.

    “Where should we put him now headmaster? It seems I underestimated his bodily strength, our normal prison is completely unable to contain him.”

    After knocking out Huang Ying, the vice-headmaster turned to Deng Rong and questioned him. If they kept him in the normal prison, he would just end up escaping again.

    “It seems like we have no choice, we will have to lock him up in the Frost Depths. I just hope that they arrive and pick him up soon, I do not want to keep an ill omen like him in my school any longer.”

    Deng Rong spoke with a sigh and shook his head. Them underestimating his bodily strength had killed three students, Deng Rong did not know how he would explain this to their parents. Ever since he had been given the orders to capture Huang Ying, he had spent every night being nervous. If this boy really ended up being who he was suspected to be, he was afraid that his entire academy could end up disappearing if he wasn't careful.

  • Chapter 51: Frost Depths.

    Huang Ying awoke to the sensation of water hitting the top of his head. He had the taste of blood in his mouth and his eyes felt like they had been glued together. He could feel that he was standing straight up, but he couldn't feel his arms or legs. The surrounding was pervaded by a debilitating chill that seemed to seep into the bones themselves.

    After a short struggle, Huang Ying finally managed to pry open his eyes. His surroundings were lit up by a dim light blue light that seemed to be emitted from the ground itself.

    He was trapped in a massive room, so massive that he could not even see the ceiling or the walls. The ground was covered in a layer of ice, small spikes of ice sticking out, a result of water from the ceiling falling down and freezing.

    Huang Ying couldn't see anything around him, there was only an endless expanse of ice. Huang Ying had the bloodline of the White Tiger so he obviously would not fear the ice in here.

    Headmaster Deng Rong and the vice-headmaster would obviously know that he did not fear any type of ice or cold, so Huang Ying deduced that the reason he had been locked in here was because they had no other prison that would be sure to hold him.

    Huang Ying turned his eyes away from the expanse of ice and focused on his own body instead. There was still a seal placed on his dantian, preventing him from absorbing or discharging any Qi. The seal had been expanded, coiling around inside his body, preventing him from moving even a finger.

    His body was strapped to a large X-shaped metal construct that was made out of a strange type of azure metal. His arms and legs were strapped to the metal using a type of pale white leather. The leather looked smooth on the outside, but the inside was filled with countless small spikes that stabbed into Huang Ying's body, continually injecting a numbing agent into his body.

    “Li Jun, where is this?”

    Huang Ying had to once more rely on Li Jun to find out more about his situation. Huang Ying didn't like relying too much on others, as it would quickly make him dependent on them. But in this situation, he had no choice but to admit that he indeed needed the help of others, lest he be trapped here.

    “This is a place they called the Frost Depths. It is located directly beneath the academy itself. The walls are made out of a special type of material that prevents any perception from passing through. So no one can see inside from the outside, nor outside from inside.

    Li Jun recounted the road Deng Rong had taken to bring Huang Ying down here, helping Huang Ying memorize an escape path should the opportunity arrive. The walls were made out of a special metal that was called Isolation Steel. Isolation Steel prevented any and all perception from passing through, not even Li Jun was capable of penetrating it with his perception. Any sect or academy would have a place constructed from Isolation Steel, as it would allow them to easier hide the things that they wanted to hide.

    “I see, so things turned for the worse, always great news. How long was I out this time.

    Huang Ying spoke with a tone that dripped of sarcasm. He had hoped that he would be able to just escape immediately after leaving the first prison, he truly didn't expect them to have a prison that was even more secure. Since the walls were made out of Isolation Steel, he couldn't even use Li Jun's perception to track Deng Rong and the vice-headmaster. He was essentially blind, trying to come up with a proper escape plan like that would be much harder than it was the first time.

    “Just under 12 hours, not for too long.

    Huang Ying's mind started spinning, when he escaped the first time, it was during the night, ff he was only out for just under twelve hours, it was probably in the middle of the day now. This meant that Deng Rong or the vice-headmaster would probably arrive within the next few hours. Unless they had already come by earlier of course.

    A few hours to try and come up with a plausible escape plan when he was essentially blind? Far too difficult. The seal on his body and dantian would take him at least an hour or two to completely remove, and even if he did, there was no telling where Deng Rong or the vice-headmaster were located. They might even be waiting just outside. His best option right now was to wait and bide for time, finding out what they want while slowly restoring his power.

    Huang Ying started to slowly circulate his Devouring Qi inside his Qi crystal, slowly nibbling away at the seal placed on his dantian. All he could do now was weaken it. If he completely removed it, they would probably know immediately, so he would weaken it until it reached a point where he could break it whenever he wanted.

    Huang Ying waited with a lowered head in silence for around two hours before he heard the sound of someone approaching. Raising his head, he saw that despite his footsteps sounding from faw away, the vice-headmaster had already arrived in front of him.

    This was the first time Huang Ying properly saw the vice-headmaster, and it was only now that he understood why the previous guard had said that the vice-headmaster was scary.

    The vice-headmaster was clad in an old and patched gray robe that hung loosely from his body. His body was so skinny that it looked sickly, like someone had just draped skin over a skeleton. His eyes were lifeless and dull, sinking into his skull. He only had a few patches of gray hair that dotted his head. His lips were thin and pale, while his skin was almost as white as snow. If it weren't for the fact that Huang Ying could see the light blue energy fluctuations around him, he would believe that he was looking at a corpse.

    “Ah, you are finally awake. I was starting to get worried that I would have to wait even longer. Ah, where are my manners, I never even introduced myself, my name is Cui Xima, i'm the vice-headmaster here.

    The vice-headmaster, Cui Xima. spoke with a dry and raspy as his thin lips stretched into a polite smile. He seemed to want to give a comforting smile, but when he smiled, it only served to stretch the skin on his head even more.

    “But since you are finally awake, that means that we can finally begin, you have no idea how long I have been waiting to examine someone like you.

    While Cui Xima spoke, he waved his hand and made a small steel table appear next to him. He covered the small table with a cloth before taking out a large cylindrical container from his interspatial ring. He waved his hand once more and a ball of water appeared before him, falling into and filling up the container. After the container was full of water, Cui Xima started bringing out an assortment of tools from his interspatial ring, tools he slowly and neatly lined up on the small table.

    He lined up an assortment of different knives and needles, each one neatly polished and sharpened. After placing down all the tools, he conjured two more balls of water in front of him. He moved one to the side and kept it floating there, while he used the other one to slowly wash his hands, carefully cleaning finger after finger.

    After washing his hands, he once more waved them, causing the clothing on Huang Ying's upper body to disintegrate and vanish. He made the floating ball of water separate into several smaller balls, before beckoning one of them over to him. He took the small ball of water and used it to gently clean Huang Ying's left arm.

    “I must say, your body looks exactly like I thought it would. Smooth and supple skin draped over chiseled muscles. Just looking at it makes me realize the explosive power hidden in your body, no wonder that normal prison couldn't hold you.

    Cui Xima spoke with a smile as he washed Huang Ying's arm, before beckoning with his hand, causing a needle the length of a palm to fly into his hands. Huang Ying had already realized what Cui Xima wanted to do once he started bringing out the tools, but he never thought that he would be so neat and methodical about it.

    “Now then, I heard that when you got cut during the Academy Battle, you didn't make a sound. Please keep that up, it is always so dreadful when they scream, it gives me shivers and prevents me from sleeping.

    With those words, he took the needle and slowly inserted it Huang Ying's wrist, making it follow the veins as he inserted it deeper and deeper. Huang Ying grit his teeth and stared viciously at Cui Xima. He was no stranger to pain, but he was more used to explosive pain that threatened to instantly destroy him. This slow and relentless pain that seeped into his body was a completely new experience.

    Cui Xima only kept the needle in Huang Ying's body for around a minute before slowly pulling it out and holding it up against his face. Another pair of pupils slowly appeared in his eyes as he studied the blood on the needle. He stared at it in silence for a little while before heaving a sigh and dropping the needle into the container with water.

    “Strange, strange. Deng Rong clearly said that you had an ice type bloodline, but why is it that your blood is completely human?”

    Cui Xima tilted his head as he looked at Huang Ying with a questioning gaze. What he didn't know was that the blood of Baku devoured all bloodlines, including itself, before leaving Huang Ying's body. This was a self defense mechanism that it had to prevent itself from spreading.

    “Strange, strange. Maybe it's in the bone marrow?”

    Cui Xima muttered to himself for a short while before an idea popped into his head. He quickly used some water to wash Huang Ying's chest, before washing his own hands once more, he seemed to be a neat freak. He beckoned with his hand once more, causing a small blade that looked like a scalpel to fly up from the table and into his hands.

    He moved the blade to Huang Ying's chest and made an incision that outlined one of his rib bones. After he finished making the incision, he moved to clean the small blade. Once he finished cleaning the small blade, he was shocked to see that the cut was already healing at a speed visible to the naked eye.

    “Remarkable. Such strong regenerative powers. You are just making me more and more interested in you. I'm not allowed to kill you, he wanted to alive, but i'm sure he won't mind if it's just a few scars.

    Cui Xima gave an ecstatic smile as he grabbed the small blade and made the same incision once more, only faster this time. He didn't wash the knife this time, instead using it to peel away the flesh that covered Huang Ying's right ribs. After a slow and methodical peeling process, the skin and muscles on Huang Ying's right ribs were completely stripped away, revealing his rib bones.

    Despite this massive loss of flesh, Cui Xima could still see that the flesh and muscles were slowly rebuilding themselves. He was also shocked to see that there were small black and white particles that were floating around in the blood that was flowing from Huang Ying's wound. He hurriedly tried to collect this blood, but he noticed that the moment the blood left his body, the black and white particles completely disappeared.

    Since the particles disappeared and Cui Xima had no way of locating them once they left his body, he could only heave a dejected sigh and turn back to focusing on Huang Ying's rib bones.

    “Maybe i'll find something in here.

    Cui Xima muttered to himself as he reached out with his right hand and grabbed onto one of Huang Ying's ribs. Huang Ying's vision was already blurry, his head throbbing and ringing with the sound of bells. The sensation of having his chest slowly peeled away was one he would never forget in his life. Seeing the actions of Cui Xima, he could only grit his teeth and endure.

    Cui Xima tightened his grip and pulled his arm back, but the rib didn't break off immediately like he expected, it only cracked slightly. Seeing this, he once more gave a surprised exclamation, it seemed like Huang Ying's bones were much tougher than the rest of his body. He strengthened his grip and put more power into his arm before pulling it back once more, this time breaking off the rib bone and pulling it out.

    Cui Xima studied the bone for a little bit, especially the bone marrow, before storing it away. He took out some medicine from his interspatial ring and smeared it on Huang Ying's chest. The speed at which Huang Ying's flesh regrew suddenly doubled, even the torn out rib bone started growing back. Cui Xima washed his hands before storing away all his tools and the table.

    “Now then, I believe that should be enough for today. You just rest well and recuperate, I will come back tomorrow to examine you a bit more.

    Cui Xima gave Huang Ying what appeared to be a comforting smile, before turning around and leaving.

  • Chapter 52: Blood Contract.

    Huang Ying continued to endure. Originally, Cui Xima would only appear once every day. But as time passed and he found out that Huang Ying's regeneration was even stronger than he originally thought, he started showing up twice a day, before finally showing up three times a day.

    Cui Xima would always start by inserting a needle into one of Huang Ying's veins, attempting to see if he could determine Huang Ying's bloodline. Once that failed, he would start examining other parts of Huang Ying's body. Slicing open a leg or an arm, plucking out some bones, checking the tendons and organs. He even found that it wasn't just Huang Ying's flesh and bones that could regrow, even some of Huang Ying's organs could.

    He first found this out when he inserted a needle into Huang Ying's left eye, extracting some liquid from it. After he returned, he found that the eye had completely regenerated. He was so ecstatic when he learned this, this discovery would open even more possibilities for him.

    After this, he started checking which of Huang Ying's organs could regenerate, and if there was a difference in how fast they regenerated. After extensive testing, he found that the more important the organ, the slower it would regenerate. Huang Ying's lungs took almost twice the time it took his spleen to regenerate.

    There was even one time where he accidentally made a mistake and inflicted a wound that was a bit too heavy to Huang Ying's heart. Had he not reacted quickly and used some very expensive medicine, Huang Ying would have died. And if Huang Ying died, their Empyrean Phoenix Academy would have to face the wrath of the one who ordered them to catch him alive.

    They knew that the one who ordered them to catch him would come pick him up some day, but he had never given them a set date. Instead telling them to take care of him for a bit before he could find the time to come pick him up. Cui Xima obviously took this as a sign that they were free to 'examine' him to their hearts content.

    Huang Ying had long gotten used to the pain, but the continuous onslaught of pain still threatened to turn him completely mad. The only reason he managed to hold on to his sanity was the fact that he could converse with Li Jun. Li Jun kept Huang Ying distracted, telling him stories about his life and cultivation advice.

    Huang Ying had already been in Cui Xima's care for close to half a year when a change finally happened in this hellish life.

    “You.... do you want to escape from here...?”

    A voice resounded in his head. A dignified voice that carried a tone of power and nobility, yet the voice was also tired and carried a feebleness. The voice resounded right after Cui Xima had just finished one of his sessions, so Huang Ying almost thought that it was just a trick his mind was playing on him. When the voice resounded once more, Huang Ying was finally certain that he was indeed hearing a voice.

    “Who are you?”

    Huang Ying didn't immediately answer the voice, it was best to know exactly who he was dealing with before he decided on anything. For all he knew, this was just another trick that Cui Xima devised to examine his mental strength.

    “Ah.... finally there is someone here that can take me away.....

    The voice spoke slowly, sounding relieved and at peace. After a short while, Huang Ying heard the sound of movement coming from his side. He couldn't move his body, but tilting his head to the side was no problem. Huang Ying was slightly shocked when he saw the owner of the voice.

    At his right side, slowly coming out from the darkness, was a large bird. The bird had a wingspan of at least ten meters. It's feathers were a dull scarlet color that was contaminated by hints of grey. It's eyes shone like two fires in the night, a row of golden feathers on it's head looking like a majestic crown.

    For a second, Huang Ying thought he had encountered the Phoenix. But once he looked a bit closer, he saw some differences between the Phoenix and this bird. This bird was clearly only a Vermilion Bird, a descendant of the Phoenix. Seeing this Vermilion Bird, Huang Ying finally found out just where the Empyrean Phoenix Academy managed to procure the Vermilion Bird blood they implanted into their students.

    “You want me to save you and take you away? What a joke. I can't even save myself.

    Huang Ying spoke in a self deprecating tone. He wasn't even able to get out, so how could he help the Vermilion Bird get out? Huang Ying could indeed break the seal that was on his body, quickly returning to his full power. He could even escape from this icy prison, he knew exactly which path to take to reach the exit. But so what? This prison was located directly under the academy, the moment he left, he would be beset by all the people from Empyrean Phoenix.

    “Indeed. I am incapable of escaping on my own, just as you are incapable of escaping on your own. But together, we stand a much better chance.

    The Vermilion Bird looked at Huang Ying with a burning gaze. It had already been trapped in this icy prison for so long, it's life was even reaching it's end. The only way it would be able to go on living was if it underwent it's rebirth, turning itself to ash and restarting it's life. But if it did that in this icy prison, it's torment would only last longer.

    “Oh? How so?”

    Huang Ying didn't know what made the Vermilion Bird so certain that they stood a much better chance together. The way Huang Ying saw it, the Vermilion Bird was almost at death's door, it had next to no power left in it.

    “A blood contract. You have the blood of the White Tiger and a body stronger than any normal human at your level. You will be able to withstand the power of my blood, using it to grow stronger, while I will use your White Tiger blood to replenish my strength. Like this, we will be able to escape together, neither Deng Rong nor Cui Xima are faster than me.

    Huang Ying had heard about a blood contract before. A blood contract was the act of two different species sharing their blood with one another, nourishing each other. The blood contract would bind the two people together, never allowing them to make a second contract with anyone else. Unless one of the two people died.

    A blood contract would mix two bloodlines, polluting them. Due to this, many high ranked Demonic beasts refused to sign a blood contract with humans, as it would only weaken their bloodlines, their greatest source of pride. That this Vermilion Bird was willing to sign a blood contract with Huang Ying was not just because it wanted to escape, his White Tiger bloodline would be a massive boost to it, especially after it underwent it's rebirth.

    “Fine, I agree.

    Huang Ying did not waste any time, he was desperate, and Cui Xima had just left, so he had about eight hours before he would return. Accepting the blood contract would enhance Huang Ying's strength, probably pushing him directly towards the peak of the 9th heaven. This meant that he would have to endure both the baptizing of the Vermilion Bird blood, as well as the minor heavenly tribulation that his Qi crystal would experience. But Huang Ying had the bloodline of Baku, a minor heavenly tribulation would not be able to escape from Baku's maw.

    The heavenly tribulation came in several tiers. The lowest tier was a minor tribulation, consisting of only a single lightning bolt. An intermediate tribulation consisted of three bolts. After the intermediate tribulation came the immortal tribulation, consisting of six bolts. The last one was known as the empyrean tribulation, raining down nine bolts of heavens wrath.

    The Vermilion Bird did not waste any time either, using one of it's wings to poke a hole in it's chest and extracting a drop of blood from it's heart. It brought the wing and blood towards Huang Ying, stabbing it into his heart. After mixing it's blood into his heart, it also extracted a drop of blood from his heart.

    Huang Ying used a bit of his perception to force the blood of Baku to calm down, not allowing it to start devouring the bloodlines after it left his body. The Vermilion Bird then inserted this blood into it's own heart, completing the blood contract. What came next would be the baptizing of the blood.

    Huang Ying's body felt like he had been thrown into a fiery inferno, liquid fire rushing through his veins. The Vermilion Bird on the other hand felt like it's body had been completely frozen, some thin patches of black ice even started spreading on it's back.

    The Vermilion Bird knew about Huang Ying having the White Tiger bloodline since it was a Demonic beast that had already evolved before, turning into a Desolate beast. It was very sensitive towards higher level bloodlines, but it was completely unable to sense the bloodline of Baku in Huang Ying.

    While Huang Ying felt the fire rushing through his veins and into his dantian, a small black cloud crackling with lightning also appeared above Huang Ying's Qi crystal, this was the minor tribulation cloud. Only tribulation clouds that reached the intermediate level would cause a phenomena to appear in the outside world, so Huang Ying wasn't worried about Deng Rong or Cui Xima noticing it.

    The light blue lightning bolt struck the Qi crystal, but it only sank into it, disappearing into the depths. A minor tribulation simply did not have enough power to inconvenience Huang Ying. The lightning bolt vanished and the cloud dissipated, but the liquid fire was still coursing towards the Qi crystal, sinking into it.

    Huang Ying turned his vision inwards, observing the Qi crystal. After the fire rushed into it, the Qi crystal started condensing once more, quickly shrinking in size. Huang Ying knew that this was a sign that he was approaching the Xiantian Builder stage. The 9th heaven was after the 8th heaven and before the Xiantian Builder stage, but it only consisted of having the cultivator condense his Qi Crystal, turning it into a tiny world.

    While the Qi crystal shrank, Huang Ying also noticed something changing within it. Before this, the Qi crystal was a swirl of black and white, signifying Huang Ying's Ice and Devouring Qi. These were his main elements, the other elements he had absorbed got put aside, unreachable to Huang Ying.

    Yet now, Huang Ying saw many smaller dots of scarlet and orange light gathering together around the fire that had rushed into his Qi crystal, congregating together. The many lights sank into the fire, turning it a brilliant scarlet that slowly started swirling around, standing side by side with the black and white colors in his Qi crystal.

    Huang Ying had an idea what this meant, so he sent a bit of his perception into his Qi crystal, extracting a small part of the scarlet Qi. The minor tribulation had already completely destroyed the already weakened seal, so there was no longer anything restricting him. The scarlet Qi flowed through his body, bringing with it a hot feeling as it rushed towards his hand. When it reached his palm, it left his body and turned into a small scarlet flame, burning brightly above his palm.

    Seeing the flame, Huang Ying couldn't help but grin. He had reached the peak of the 9th heaven and could even use Fire Qi now. With the help of the Vermilion Bird he was now much more confident in escaping. The seal in his body was broken, so there was no doubt that Deng Rong or Cui Xima would show up to check on him soon.

    Huang Ying tilted his head to look at the Vermilion Bird. The patches of black ice had disappeared from it's body, the only sign that anything had changed was a hint of black light shining in it's eyes. The Vermilion Bird understood what Huang Ying meant. It's body quickly shrank and turned ethereal, before long it had shrunk so much that it was only the size of Huang Ying's palm. It flapped it's wings and flew at Huang Ying, quickly merging into his body.

    This was a benefit brought about from the blood contract, since Huang Ying was the one who was given the blood first, he was considered the master in the relationship, so he could absorb the Vermilion Bird, allowing it to sleep within his blood. This way he could call upon it whenever he required it's assistance. Once he absorbed the Vermilion Bird he returned to waiting in silence, waiting for Deng Rong or Cui Xima to arrive as a plan slowly formed in his mind.

  • Chapter 53: I Will have your head!

    Huang Ying didn't have to wait for very long before the sound of rushed footsteps came from the darkness, Cui Xima quickly strode out from the darkness and arrived before Huang Ying. Cui Xima looked all over Huang Ying, giving him a thorough look over.

    “It seems like you broke through to the 9th heaven, congratulations it seems like your luck is pretty good, you actually managed to survive it.”

    Cui Xima spoke with a smile. He had found nothing on Huang Ying that was capable of breaking the seal he had placed. Seeing that Huang Ying had broken through to the 9th heaven, he found it reasonable to believe that the minor tribulation broke the seal when it hit his dantian.

    “Thank you, I too find my luck to be rather excellent.”

    Huang Ying gave Cui Xima a smile as he responded, shocking Cui Xima. Cui Xima had spent the last half year thoroughly torturing and examining every corner of Huang Ying's body, yet this was the first time Huang Ying had ever actually said a word.

    Huang Ying obviously knew that Cui Xima was just being sarcastic when he congratulated him. Even if he failed to withstand the tribulation, it would not kill him, it would only shatter the Qi crystal in his dantian, turning him into a normal person. But thinking that he would finally get to escape from here put Huang Ying in such a good mood that he did not mind responding to Cui Xima's taunts.

    “Anyway, it would be for the best if we put that seal right back, wouldn't want you to hurt yourself.”

    Cui Xima slowly approached Huang Ying, raising his right hand and drawing a few winding seals in the air in front of him. Cui Xima was not worried about Huang Ying attacking him. Cui Xima was so much stronger than Huang Ying, even if Huang Ying managed to get an attack in, it would deal no damage to him.

    Huang Ying's entire body was relaxed, his mind calmer than it had ever been. He knew that he would only have a single chance for the perfect escape, if he wasted it, there was no telling how much harder his escape would be. Cui Xima finally got within range of Huang Ying, placing his right arm on Huang Ying's stomach. The seals that were floating around Cui Xima's hand moved forward, sinking into Huang Ying's dantian one by one.

    As half of the seals had sunk into Huang Ying's dantian, his eyes suddenly lit up. He put all his power into his right arm, furiously channeling all the Qi in his body. The spikes on the leather straps that were holding him dug into his arm, sending his blood spurting outwards. The leather strap only managed to hold him back for half a second before it completely broke, freeing his right arm.

    The skin on his wrist was completely ruined, deep punctures that went all the way to the bone covering his entire wrist. Huang Ying ignored the pain as he swung his arm at Cui Xima. If there was one thing that Cui Xima had taught him, it was that Huang Ying had no need to fear pain. His rapid regeneration surprised even Huang Ying when he first saw it. If it was like this, he could just ignore most injuries he got and fight with no regards.

    His arm rapidly approached Cui Xima's shoulder, but Cui Xima only shook his head with a sigh when he saw it. Did this kid really expect to hurt him with something like that?

    Seeing Cui Xima's reaction, Huang Ying's mouth curved into a cold smile, this was just the reaction he wanted to see. If he had attempted to attack Cui Xima's head, he would probably block, no matter how weak he thought Huang Ying was. But the shoulder was different, it seemed so inconspicuous and useless, but it was more useful than people thought.

    Cui Xima noticed Huang Ying's smile and felt a cold chill creep up his spine. He wanted to raise his hand to block, but by then it was already far too late. Huang Ying sent his Qi into the interspatial ring on his finger, and with a nudge of his mind, a round ore with a large crack appeared in his hand. Inside the crack, one could see strange purplish-white crystals. This was the Lightning Ore that Huang Ying had found in The Wilderness.

    Huang Ying's right hand flared up with scarlet flames, engulfing the entire ore as he slammed it into Cui Xima's shoulder. Cui Xima felt no pain when the ore or flames hit his shoulder, but the entire ore cracked and broke, the crystals coming into contact with the flames.

    When the crystals came into contact with the flames, it was like a purple sun suddenly appeared in the room. The fire melted the crystal and agitated the lightning stored in the crystal. Lightning and fire were natural enemies, much like fire and water. Upon contact, they would immediately start fighting, leading to a large explosion.

    Cui Xima only felt his entire shoulder burning with pain, lightning coursing through his entire body, flinging him to the side. His body was filled with Water Qi, which was naturally restrained by lightning. Coupled with the fact that he had no defense set up, his entire shoulder was charred and burned, large lumps of flesh directly falling off.

    Huang Ying's hand was no better, but thanks to the fact that he had an abnormally strong body, it only ended with his entire right arm being charred completely black, next to useless. Huang Ying's eyes shone with a mad glint as he put all his energy into his left arm, breaking it free from the leather straps.

    Both his arms were bloody and damaged, but he simply ignored it, breaking free his legs the same way he did his arms. His blood dyed the ice beneath him a crystalline crimson, looking like rubies. The Vermilion Bird flew out from his dantian and quickly enlarged, flying towards the exit with Huang Ying's directions.

    Cui Xima wanted to stop him, but he had to first focus on pushing all the lightning out of his body, lest he end up permanently damaged. He looked towards Huang Ying with a murderous gaze. He did not expect Huang Ying to simply ignore his own injuries, staking everything just to wound him, he had even stolen their Vermilion Bird!

    “Hahaha. Cui Xima, i'll come back to get my revenge for my arm in the future, so just wash your neck and wait.”

    Huang Ying roared with laughter as he cast his mad gaze towards Cui Xima. These six months were not something he would ever be able to forget. Huang Ying was not a saint, since Cui Xima had hurt him like that, he would return at some point in the future and make sure Cui Xima died a most horrible death.

    “You bastard! Don't think you can escape just like that!”

    Cui Xima roared after Huang Ying. He wasn't too worried about him escaping, there was still Deng Rong in the academy. Deng Rong was not faster than the Vermilion Bird, but he didn't need to be faster, he only needed to stop them for a short while.

    Deng Rong had no way to see what was happening in the Frost Depths, but when Huang Ying and te Vermilion Bird broke through the exit of the Frost Depths, there was no way he could not see them. A massive Vermilion Bird with a wingspan of ten meters suddenly broke through a small and inconspicuous shack, flying high above their academy, how could the students not be shocked?

    “You?! Huang Ying, how dare you steal our Vermilion Bird?”

    Deng Rong's furious voice resounded out from the largest building, a majestic scarlet castle decorated with golden phoenixes. Seeing Huang Ying fly out with the Vermilion Bird, he knew that he could not allow the students to know that they had kidnapped Huang Ying.

    While some students did indeed know that they had kidnapped Huang Ying due to orders from a certain someone, only the most elite of the elite were brought in on this secret, the normal students had no idea. If they knew, it was very possible that they would elect to leave the academy.

    “Hahaha. Old Deng Rong, what's the matter? Scared that I managed to escape from your torture chamber?”

    Huang Ying shouted out loud in response to Deng Rong's accusations. He knew that even though some students obviously knew about him being kidnapped, they were probably in the minority. The other students were innocent, so there was no harm in letting them know just how Empyrean Phoenix did things.

    Huang Ying and the Vermilion Bird did not stop after breaking out, quickly flying away from Empyrean Phoenix and Cloud's End City. Deng Rong quickly came after them, looking like a blazing ball of fire as he soared through the sky. As he flew, he conjured a large ball of fire in front of him, slowly condensing it until it was only the size of his palm. He knew that he would not be able to catch up to them, so his bet course of action was to force them to temporarily stop.

    Deng Rong sent the small ball of fire forwards, causing it to shoot towards Huang Ying and the Vermilion Bird. His movement speed could not catch up to them, but his attack certainly could. The small ball quickly arrived behind Huang Ying and the Vermilion Bird. Huang Ying wasn't too shocked by this, instead he calmly turned around and looked at Deng Rong, lifting his left arm while doing so.

    “Deng Rong! My right arm I gave to Cui Xima, so his head i'll come back for in the future. Now i'll give you my left arm, so you better wash your neck and await my revenge!”

    Huang Ying spoke calmly, his voice resounding above all of Empyrean Phoenix, shocking all the students. He would take the head of vice-headmaster Cui Xima? And now he even proclaimed that headmaster Deng Rong should wash his neck and wait for his revenge? What was arrogance? This was arrogance.

    The ball of fire quickly approached Huang Ying, but he only calmly looked at it, his blood seething and surging. His left arm suddenly changed, black scales growing out from his flesh and covering his entire arm. In just a short moment, his entire arm looked like the arm of a dragon.

    Huang Ying punched out with his left arm, colliding head on against that ball of fire. The expected explosion did not happen. The only thing the students saw was the ball of fire bouncing off of the scales, shooting back towards Deng Rong. But as it shot back, large chunks of flesh suddenly fell off of Huang Ying's left arm, dying the back of the Vermilion Bird with blood.

    The black scales were the result of Huang Ying burning the blood of Baku in his body. He could burn the blood of Baku much like he did the blood of the White Tiger. The only difference was that the blood of Baku was much stronger, producing a much stronger strain on his body.

    Huang Ying's body contained four bloodlines right now. His human blood, the blood of Baku, the blood of the White Tiger, and some blood from the Vermilion Bird. He could burn all the blood of the Vermilion bird, he only had one drop of it, so it would not cause a large strain.

    But the rest of his blood was divided into three parts, each taking up an equal amount of space. When he burned the blood of the White Tiger, he would at most burn around 10% of it, but even that almost doubled his power. This power obviously took it's toll on Huang Ying's body, quickly draining his energy.

    If he tried to burn more than 10% of the White Tiger blood, it would quickly result in his body getting injured, much like what just happened. Due to this, he only dared burn around 10% at any given time. Just now he tried to burn just 5% of the blood of Baku, but the strain it brought to his body immediately destroyed his arm. Even with his regenerative powers, he would need some time for it to fully heal.

    “Just you wait Deng Rong, I will have your head!”

    Huang Ying roared at Deng Rong before he disappeared over the horizon, but there was nothing Deng Rong could do. He had to stop the small fireball that Huang Ying had sent back to him, otherwise it would hit the school and cause untold damage.
  • Chapter 54: Billowing Flames.

    Huang Ying and the Vermilion Bird didn't slow down as they escaped, not even bothering to check if any of the students listened to his words. To Deng Rong and the others, it looked like they had made a clean and simple escape, but Huang Ying knew their situation better than anyone.

    His own situation was still manageable, his right arm would finish healing within three hours. His left arm would require around two days to return to it's former strength. He could of course shorten the time needed if he found some Demonic beasts to devour.

    The one that worried Huang Ying more was the Vermilion Bird. When they signed the blood contract, it was already approaching the end of it's life. It had spent a large portion of it's life trapped within the Frost Depths, the icy air down there had already seeped into it's very bones.

    Due to this, the Vermilion Bird was exceedingly weak before the escape even began. The Vermilion Bird hoped to use Huang Ying's powerful blood to strengthen it's own, allowing it to push the icy air out from it's bones. But it would never have imagined that Huang Ying not only had the White Tiger bloodline, but also the bloodline of Baku.

    When it absorbed his blood, Huang Ying had ensured that the bloodline of Baku didn't devour the White Tiger bloodline and itself after it left his body. This was the only way to ensure that the Vermilion Bird got the blood it needed to strengthen itself, but it also meant that it would simultaneously absorb his Baku bloodline.

    At the start, the effects of this weren't obvious. But after that, Huang Ying pulled the Vermilion Bird into his body, allowing it to rest within his blood stream and dantian, slowly absorbing more of the blood. Once they started their escape, the Vermilion Bird was constantly tensed, it's blood rapidly flowing through it's body.

    This sent the blood of Baku to every corner of it's body, and the blood started doing what it did best, devouring. Ever since they left the Frost Depths, the blood of Baku was constantly devouring the Vermilion Bird's blood, slowly reshaping it into a form more suitable for it's master.

    This was very similar to what happened whenever a Vermilion Bird or Phoenix underwent Nirvana, it's rebirth. The only difference was that this was a much higher class of evolution, completely changing the Vermilion Bird. This could be considered a blessing for the Vermilion Bird, it was simply bad timing.

    This process would drain the Vermilion Bird of all it's strength, before completely destroying it and allowing it to be reborn. If Deng Rong decided to be persistent and chase after them, it was possible that he would find them while the Vermilion Bird was undergoing Nirvana, and that would be disastrous for them.

    Because of this, Huang Ying had kept up a strong front, even taunting Deng Rong, all to make Deng Rong believe that Huang Ying had the upper hand. If Deng Rong had just spent a little time thinking, he would have easily figured out that the Vermilion Bird was weakened. It had after all spent a large majority of it's life trapped underground in the Frost Depths. Too bad for Deng Rong that he had fallen for Huang Ying's taunts, believing that the Vermilion Bird was completely fine. Due to this, he had lost his one chance to chase them down.

    Huang Ying and the Vermilion Bird kept flying for half a day, looking for a spot that could be considered safe to rest. The continent of Cloud's Reach that Huang Ying was currently on, bordered The Wilderness, much like Green Willows. Cloud's End was located north of The Wilderness, while Empyrean Phoenix was located at the east side of Cloud's End.

    Because of this, Huang Ying could not flee to the west or south, as that would only take him back to Cloud's End or back into The Wilderness. Huang Ying had devoured enough memories to become rather knowledgeable about Cloud's End. But when it came to most of the areas outside of the capital, Huang Ying knew next to nothing.

    He only knew some minor information about the outside, to the north of Cloud's Reach was the center of the continent, where the larger clans made their homes. To the east of Cloud's Reach was a small mountainous region, followed by a vast plain. This area was considered more of a rural area, housing many small villages and spread bandit groups.

    Huang Ying didn't spend a lot of time thinking. He couldn't even walk freely in Cloud's Reach, so there was no way that he was strong enough to wander around in the center area of the continent. His only choice was to flee to the east, towards that vast plain.

    After flying for half a day at full speed, they had already reached the mountainous region that separated Cloud's Reach from the vast plain. The mountainous region was several hundred kilometers away from Cloud's Reach, but a fully grown Vermilion Bird could easily reach speeds that broke the sound barrier. Even if his Vermilion Bird was wounded, flying several hundred kilometers in half a day was not a problem for it.

    They quickly descended into the mountainous region and found a cave that was large enough to house both of them. The memories Huang Ying had devoured always referred to this mountainous region as a “small mountainous region” but when Huang Ying descended into it, he was shocked. The mountains stretched onward for as far as the eye could see, easily reaching several hundred kilometers. This was a small mountainous region? It seemed more like a natural border, sealing all of Cloud's Reach away, than anything else.

    Huang Ying threw this thought out of his mind after they landed. The Vermilion Bird was already running on fumes, it would probably not even take the rest of the day before it completed it's Nirvana. The cave they settled for was just a large hole in the mountain side, so while the Vermilion Bird laid down at the very back of the cave, Huang Ying dug out some large rocks that he could use to seal the entrance.

    The Vermilion Bird needed peace to finish it's Nirvana, but Huang Ying also needed to stabilize his own cultivation, otherwise it could easily become weak and full of weaknesses in the future. The Vermilion Bird laid down at the very end of the cave, it's feathers had already lost all their scarlet luster, turning a deep red.

    Huang Ying sat down cross-legged in front of the Vermilion Bird, before turning his vision inwards, looking at his own dantian. The inside of his dantian was a massive void. Within this void was a tiny crystal, no larger than an infant's fist. The crystal was a a mixture of black, white, and red, each color swirling around each other. There were several small cracks on the crystal, there were even parts that had broken off.

    If it were earlier, Huang Ying would have been worried about having his Qi crystal cracking and shattering, but to break into the Xiantian Builder realm, this was just what he needed to do. He would crack the outer parts of the crystal, laying bare it's innermost core, the World Seed. He would then take all the broken pieces and fuse them together once more, forming a sun that would light up the World Seed, allowing it to grow into an independent world.

    Huang Ying was in no hurry to shatter the outer layer of his Qi crystal, instead gathering up the pieces that had already broken and guiding them to merge into the Qi crystal again, reforming it. He could shatter his Qi crystal right now, breaking through to the Xiantian Builder realm, but if he did so, his World Seed would not be as strong as it could be.

    He would rather spend some more time condensing his Qi crystal and strengthening the World Seed within. If he did it like that, it would make the world he built even stronger, allowing him to store larger amounts of Qi and control larger amounts of Natural Energy.

    Huang Ying opened his eyes and released a breath of turbid air. He calculated that he had spent about four hours just merging the few shattered pieces back into his Qi crystal. Noticing this, he could not help but exclaim, cultivation was indeed timeless. He felt like he had only spent a few minutes, but four hours had passed in the blink of an eye.

    He cast his gaze towards the Vermilion Bird, since four hours had passed, it should be approaching the end of it's Nirvana. The Vermilion Bird had already changed completely, shrinking until it was only as tall as two palms. It's once straight beak had slightly bent, becoming sharp and grim, looking like an eagles beak. It's claws had grown sharper as well. It no longer looked like an awe inspiring and peaceful saint, it looked more like a tyrant, an overlord of beasts.

    It's once lustrous scarlet feathers had turned an abyssal black. The golden feathers on it's head had changed into a deep crimson, becoming a fiery crown. The tip of it's wings shone with a pale white, giving off a cold air that seemed to eat away at ones vitality.

    The blood of Baku had completely changed the body of the Vermilion Bird, merging the bloodlines of the Vermilion Bird, the White Tiger, and Baku, turning the Vermilion Bird into a completely new type of Demonic beast. A Demonic beast created just for Huang Ying.

    Huang Ying silently looked at the Vermilion Bird, all the while talking with Li Jun, checking if he had ever heard of any Demonic beast like it. Even with Li Jun's extensive knowledge, he had to admit that he had never seen anything like this. He had seen Demonic beasts evolve and change before. But changing to this degree? He had never even heard about anything like that.

    After a short while, the Vermilion Bird opened it's eyes. It's eyes had become pitch black as well, looking like two black holes that devoured all light. It stretched it's wings and let loose a loud screech. The Vermilion Bird was only two palms tall, but it's screech resounded for several kilometers. Black flames billowed out from it's small body, surging past Huang Ying and out off the cave.

    As the flames broke through the makeshift blockade that Huang Ying had set up, the sky itself seemed to darken, black flames covering the sky, heralding the birth of the king of beasts.
  • Chapter 55: Black flame.

    The flames continued to billow forth for almost five entire minutes before the started receding, charging back into the cave. The cave was quickly filled with black flames that gathered onto the Vermilion Bird. The Vermilion Bird seemed to melt into the flames, it's body flickering like a candle before it suddenly completely vanished.

    Huang Ying knew that this was the final step of it's Nirvana, completely turning it's body into flame before rebuilding it. Not long after the Vermilion Bird dissipated into the flames, the flames suddenly started gathering together in front of Huang Ying.

    The flames gathered together, quickly forming what seemed to be the skeleton of a bird. The only difference between this and a normal skeleton was that the bones were pitch black, like they had been charred by flames.

    After the skeleton was completely formed, the flames turned into veins and then into flesh that covered the veins. Organs were quickly formed after the flesh, a loud thumping sound quickly resounding throughout the cave as the heart was being formed.

    After the fleshy body was completed, skin and feathers quickly formed, completing the rebuilding of the Vermilion Bird. The Vermilion Bird looked just like it did before it's body disintegrated, black feathers, a crimson crown, and wing tips that shone with a white light.

    The Vermilion Bird looked exactly the same, but Huang Ying could feel that the Vermilion Bird was now full of life, it's life force burning brilliantly. The Vermilion Bird's body suddenly flickered as it charged at Huang Ying.

    The Vermilion Bird hit his body, but instead of merging or crashing into him, it seemed to melt into him, a layer of black liquid slowly seeping into his body. Huang Ying quickly turned his vision inward in shock. The black liquid entered his bloodstream, quickly flowing throughout his entire body.

    As it flowed throughout his body, it swallowed that single drop of Vermilion Bird blood and a bit of the White Tiger and Baku bloodlines. Huang Ying quickly realized what was happening. Since this Vermilion Bird had become a Demonic beast created just for him, just having a single drop of normal Vermilion Bird blood was obviously no longer good enough.

    The blood of the new Vermilion Bird quickly took up it's own position within his body. With the new bloodline entering his body, the hierarchy of bloodlines quickly became apparent. The Baku bloodline was on top, with the White Tiger a bit below it, while the Vermilion Bird blood was at the bottom, above only his human blood.

    The reason the hierarchy was set up like this was simply because the quality of the White Tiger and Vermilion Bird blood was too low. If Huang Ying could devour different Demonic beasts that had certain Bird and Tiger type bloodlines, he would be able to slowly strengthen his Vermilion Bird and White Tiger bloodlines, maybe even making them as strong as his Baku bloodline.

    Huang Ying stood up and stretched his body, his joints releasing thundering cracking noises. He could feel that his body had become stronger after merging with the new Vermilion Bird. The Vermilion Bird had just completed it's Nirvana, draining it of all it's energy. It would require a few days before it would be able to wake up.

    “Congratulations, you have acquired a completely new Demonic beast. What are you going to call it?”

    Li Jun's voice resounded within Huang Ying's head as he was checking out his body, slightly catching Huang Ying off guard. Right, the Vermilion Bird was now his contract beast, it would be with him until either one died, always calling it Vermilion Bird would not work.

    Huang Ying wondered whether or not the Vermilion Bird already had a name, but since it had just completed it's Nirvana, it was obviously impossible to ask it. Even if he waited for it to wake up before asking, the Vermilion Bird would be just like a newborn. It would be incapable of talking, nor would it have it's old memories, it would have to become an adult before it would regain those.

    “I'll just call it Little Flame, if it complains, we can just change it then.”

    Huang Ying was terrible at naming things, so he just decided on the first thing that came to mind. The Vermilion Bird was only around two palms tall and used fire to attack, so calling it Little Flame would do.

    “Your naming sense really is bad huh?”

    Li Jun's slightly amused voice rang out, but Huang Ying decided to just ignore it. He was much more interested in checking out the strength of the Vermilion Bird blood.

    Huang Ying left the cave and carefully made his way down the mountain side, reaching the foot of the mountain after a few minutes of climbing. The area around the foot of the mountain was completely barren, consisting only of dirty yellow stone.

    Huang Ying circulated the blood of the Vermilion Bird around his body, burning around 15% of it. He figured that if he could burn 10% of the White Tiger blood, which was a higher rank than the Vermilion Bird blood, he should be able to burn 15% of the Vermilion Bird blood.

    The blood burned, and as it did, black flames spread from Huang Ying's body. When the people from Empyrean Phoenix burned their Vermilion Bird blood, it manifested as feathers on their face, while Shi Na's manifested as feathers and wings.

    The flames around Huang Ying quickly gathered around him, some of the flames stuck to his arms, forming two pitch black pieces of armor. Some flames gathered at his back, forming pitch black wings of flames. The remainder of the flames gathered above his head and returned to their original crimson color, forming a crimson crown above him.

    Black flames burned the air all around him, his pitch black wings and crimson crown made him look like a god of fire walking the earth. The heat from the flames distorted the air around him and even started slowly softening the stone beneath his feet.

    After Huang Ying broke through to the 9th heaven and stabilized his cultivation, he could control the Natural Energy in a 150 meter circle around him, but after burning the Vermilion Bird blood, the range of his control increased to 300 meters around him, once more giving him double the range.

    Huang Ying gripped his hand, a black spear quickly forming in his hands. This spear was made out of compressed fire, but it looked no different from a real spear, it even had the same weight as a real spear. Huang Ying held the spear with both hands as he slowly moved around, constantly changing stances.

    After moving around for a few minutes, he suddenly threw the spear with all his might, aiming at the mountain ahead of him. The spear flew out, flying so fast that it looked like a black line in space. When it hit the mountain, it exploded into an inferno of flames, the stone quickly melting and turning to lava as a five meter large hole formed in the mountain. Seeing the power behind the spear, Huang Ying couldn't help but smile.

    He had chosen the spear as his weapon not just because he had the most memories about how to fight with a spear, but also because of his bodily strength. A sword focused on speed and flexibility, so while Huang Ying did indeed have enough speed and flexibility to use a sword, he wouldn't be able to bring out his full power with it.

    A spear required speed and strength, if he used a flexible spear, it would also require some flexibility. With Huang Ying's abnormally strong body, he could make more use of a spear than he could a sword. Even if he met someone that was heavily armored, he could use his raw strength to simply clobber them to death, using the spear as a staff.

    Huang Ying stopped burning the Vermilion Bird blood and took a few minutes to catch his breath. After spending a few minutes in silence, he started walking away from the mountain, heading towards the vast plain that he knew was located past these mountains. He had spent around half a year being tortured by Cui Xima, so he only had three and a half years before the Dragon Meeting would begin. He would also have to figure out who ordered Deng Rong to capture him, having an enemy he knew nothing about was not something Huang Ying enjoyed.
  • Chapter 56: Vast Plains Ruin.

    several days later, Huang Ying was sitting in a tavern gathering information about the area. Li Jun's level was simply too high, he didn't even put the central area of Clouds Reach into his eyes, much less this desolate plain.

    Huang Ying was in one of the larger cities of the plains. The city was called Eastern Sun City and was located a four days walk away from the mountain range that Huang Ying had rested in. The city could be considered very large, being on par with Willow's Heart in size and number of citizens, but when it was compared to Clouds End, it fell short by a large margin.

    Huang Ying had used a technique to slightly alter his appearance, his skin becoming more tanned and coarse, a large scar on his face. He had also retracted the icy aura that lingered around him when he used his Ice element, instead circulating his Devouring Qi to devour most of his aura. While he circulated his Devouring Qi, he seemed just like a cultivator at the 7th heaven, unless one broke through past the Xiantian Realm, it would be impossible to tell his cultivation level, or so Li Jun told him at least.

    He had spent a few days going from tavern to tavern, gathering any piece of information that he could find. He knew nothing about this vast plain, so his first priority was gathering information, his second priority was to get stronger. There was an unknown person who wanted to capture him, this threat hung over him like a knife. If he did not grow stronger, he would not be able to defend himself when he was found by that person.

    After these few days of information gathering, Huang Ying had already come up with a plan for the near future. A few days march away from this city laid an old ruin that was uncovered around 100 years ago. Rumor had it that once you entered the ruin, you would simply disappear, transported to an unknown location.

    Ever since it had been discovered 100 years ago, only four people had ever managed to return. Three of the people were heavily wounded and completely mad, but the last person had found a miraculous herb in there that had allowed his cultivation speed to nearly triple.

    Huang Ying knew that entering these ruins would be very dangerous, but he also knew of the concept that it was foolish to eat just because of the danger of choking. Risk came with reward, if he managed to survive and explore the ruins, there was no telling how strong he would become.

    Huang Ying left city the next morning, starting the trek towards the ruins. Huang Ying had no intention of entering on his own. There were many others that still entered the ruins. People from all over the continent traveled to these ruins to explore them, often grouping together with other people.

    After marching for four days, Huang Ying arrived outside the ruins, slightly surprised at what he found. The place had been called a ruin by everyone who mentioned it, but when Huang Ying arrived, he found that it was in fact just a large hole in the ground.

    The area around the hole was completely barren, not a single tree or blade of grass in sight. There were a few people spread around the hole, some resting, some checking out the hole. From what Huang Ying could see, the hole seemed to be almost 30 meters across.

    The hole was so deep that not even Li Jun was capable of seeing what was at the bottom, but he also mentioned that it might be blocked by an array, preventing others from seeing anything. Hearing this, Huang Ying couldn't help but be even more shocked.

    Ever since he had gotten to know Li Jun, he found that there were very few things that Li Jun couldn't do. But now there might be an array that was capable of blocking out even his sight? What sort of level had the person who placed that array reached?

    “Greetings this brother, are you perhaps planning on entering the ruins?”

    While Huang Ying was looking down the hole, a voice rang out from behind him. Turning around, Huang Ying saw a group of three people standing not far from him. The group consisted of a male youth in a black robe with tanned rough skin and short black hair. A male youth clad in a light yellow robe, the youth had hair that was a deep golden color and wore a bright smile on his face. The last person in the group was a tall girl with a slim figure. She was clad in a loose gray robe, long brown hair flowing down from her head.

    “I am indeed planning on entering the ruins, but I am afraid I don't even know how to enter the ruins.”

    Huang Ying put on a helpless smile and shook his head while he spoke. He was looking for a group to travel with as he entered the ruins, so he had to at least act with a certain amount of sincerity and kindness.

    “That is no problem, I can see that this brother has already reached the 7th heaven, so why don't you join us?”

    The one that spoke was the youth wearing the black robe. The two other people in the group didn't react to his words, they had obviously already talked about finding another member.

    “In that case, I will be in your care. I am Li Ying.”

    Huang Ying cupped his fists and introduced himself with a random name he had made up. He did not know where the unknown person that was looking for him was, nor how much he knew about Huang Ying, so it was best to err on the side of caution.

    “Excellent! I am He Cheng, this is Sister Mo Yating, and this is Brother Xin Yang. We are all around the 8th heaven, so if we act with caution and watch each others back, we should manage just fine.”

    The youth with the black robe, He Cheng, introduced himself and the others in the group. The reason he said that they should be fine was because the four people that managed to leave the ruins were all at the 9th heaven.

    He Cheng brought Huang Ying and the others to a small stone circle that was located not far from the hole. The stone circle was almost three meters across, and consisted of rocks that were a pure white, looking almost like bones.

    “This is the Spatial Array that will bring us into the ruins. When we find treasures, we will split them evenly if there are enough, but if there aren't enough, it will be up to your own ability.”

    He Cheng spoke with a bright smile as he activated the spatial array, but Huang Ying sneered inwardly at his words. When he said it like that, it sounded fair and righteous, but He Cheng was at the peak of the 8th heaven, while Xin Yang and Mo Yating seemed to have only entered the 8th heaven recently. He Cheng thought he was the strongest one in the group, that was the only reason he was willing to say those words.

    Of course, Huang Ying would not show any of this on his face, keeping an indifferent expression. He moved his eyes slightly and saw that the youth with the golden hair, Xin Yang had a slight smile on his face as he looked at He Cheng. The smile was well hidden, but how could Huang Ying not see the mocking intent in that smile?

    Huang Ying had already talked with Li Jun about these people. He Cheng and Mo Yating were indeed at the cultivation level that they showed, but Xin Yang was already in the 9th heaven. Huang Ying did not know why Xin Yang would hide his cultivation level, but he did not ask, nor did he care. It would only make it more interesting if he kept it a secret.
  • Chapter 57: Inside The Ruins.

    After they traveled through the spatial array, the group found themselves on a small island surrounded by a vast ocean. The island was less than two kilometers across, completely barren, and seemed like it was just a large rock that someone had thrown into the water.

    The group stood still and inspected their surroundings with grim faces. The only person who had managed to leave the ruins with his mind intact had thoroughly explained the path he took. But as they inspected the area around them, they realized that the area they were in had not been explained by the cultivator who managed to leave.

    This could either mean that he had either forgotten or not bothered to mention this specific area, or it could mean that whenever a group entered the ruins, they would get transported to a random area of the ruins. They quickly threw out the first possibility, the cultivator who escaped had been pressured by every faction in the surrounding area, not explaining everything would just be suicidal.

    That only left the second option, that where they would end up was random, or at least followed a different pattern than it did when the surviving cultivator explored it. Huang Ying suddenly felt the urge to curse at whoever left behind these ruins.

    The concept that luck was a part of someones strength was a concept that Huang Ying wholeheartedly believed in. After all, if he hadn't been lucky enough to have the blood of Baku, there was no telling if he would ever have been able to become anything great. But if the path they took truly was random, wouldn't that also mean that whenever they left one part of the ruin through a spatial array, that they faced the risk of being sent back to a part that they had already explored?

    “I believe that you should all have realized that the path we are going to take is going to differ from the path we expected. I suggest we take extra care, moving slower than we usually would and thoroughly examining everything.”

    He Cheng's solemn voice rang out as Huang Ying was cursing at whoever implemented such a stupid system into these ruins. He Cheng swept his gaze across the other people of the group, seeing that there was no one disagreeing, he nodded his head in satisfaction. He enjoyed the sensation of being a leader, it made him feel strong.

    “How about we tell each other a little about ourselves? It'll help ease the tension and also allow us to become more familiar with each others capabilities. I'll start. My name is He Cheng, I come from the He Clan in the central area and use Water Qi.”

    “Li Ying. Just a traveling cultivator with no background. I use Fire Qi, but focus mostly on body strengthening.”

    “Xin Yang. I come from the Eastern Wind Academy and use Wind Qi.”

    “Mo Yating. I come from the First Dawn Academy and use Light Qi.”

    The group took turns explaining their capabilities. The He Clan, Eastern Wind Academy, and First Dawn Academy were all second rate powers in the central region of Clouds Reach.

    They weren't on the level of the Jing Clan, but they were able to stand stably on their own piece of land. They were even given a few spots for the Dragon Meeting. Empyrean Phoenix and Willows Hope could not even hope to compare to any of these factions.

    Huang Ying was also rather surprised that Mo Yating had Light Element Qi. Light Element Qi was a very rare type of Qi that could give the cultivator unsurpassed speed. The Light Element also had close ties to the Fire Element, moving at such speeds that the friction with the air alone was enough to cause flames and heat to appear.

    Huang Ying had devoured close to 1400 people at this point already, but he had yet to devour a single person that had the Light Element. It's rarity could easily bee seen from this. Of course, the Light Element was not without weakness. It was nearly unusable in places without light, no matter how hard you tried to command the surrounding Natural Energy. It also lacked flexibility, being more focused on straight line movements.

    After they finished introducing themselves, they started closely examining every corner of the island and the waters around it. The island seemed like it was just one large black rock. Besides it's extraordinary toughness, Huang Ying found nothing unusual about the rock, neither did the others in the group.

    After about 15 minutes, they all gathered together at one corner of the island. This corner of the island had a small raft tied to it. The raft was made out of a strange type of gray logs held together by what seemed to be vines. The raft could just barely fit six people, so even if all four of them got on the boat, there would still be space to spare. There was no sail on the boat, just two oars that they would have to use to row.

    “Li Jun, what do you think? Is it safe to use this raft?”

    The water around the raft was a murky green color, looking like a tainted emerald. Huang Ying had never even heard about water like this, but just looking at it gave Huang Ying a bad feeling, so he decided to ask Li Jun, who had experienced far more than Huang Ying.

    Huang Ying waited for Li Jun's response for almost an entire minute before he realized that something was wrong. He tried to communicated with Li Jun several more times, but after not getting any response, he turned his vision inwards, checking out his Spiritual Sea. Upon entering his Spiritual Sea, Huang Ying was shocked, he could not find any traces of Li Jun.

    Realizing that something had either removed or blocked his connection with Li Jun, Huang Ying's face mouth couldn't help but twitch. Li Jun's soul was trapped inside his Spiritual Sea, Huang Ying had never even heard Li Jun mention that it was possible to remove him without building him a new body. To be strong enough to either remove or block their connection? Huang Ying had no idea what sort of level that was.

    “It seems like this raft is our only way off this island. Since there are four of us, we can take turns rowing, switching every four hours. Be wary of the surroundings, not even my Water Qi can interact with the water around the raft, so it might not even be water.”

    While Huang Ying's mouth was twitching, He Cheng took the lead, directly jumping onto the raft and grabbing one of the oars. Huang Ying and the others swiftly followed, Mo Yating grabbing the other oar, starting their long trek through the water.

  • Chapter 58: Strange Water.

    Mo Yating and He Cheng rowed in silence for four hours before switching with Huang Ying and Xin Yang. They continued rowing for another four hours before switching again. This pattern repeated itself for a total of 12 times before He Cheng and Mo Yating ended up too tired to continue rowing, taking a short break.

    Even though they switched every four hours, after spending so long on the water, rowing with no end in sight, everyone ended up slightly exhausted, both mentally and physically.

    They had rowed for a total of 96 hours already, yet they had not spotted any land ahead of them. Were it not for the fact that they could use the Natural Energy around them to constantly replenish their energy, even slowing down the frequency at which they needed to eat and drink, it would be hard to tell for how much longer they could go on.

    The fact that nothing had happened over these 96 hours did nothing to calm down the group, it even had the opposite effect. If nothing had changed in the 96 hours they had spent rowing, how much longer would they have to go before anything changed? The water around them was completely still, without even a single ripple. There was no wind or sound, only the steady droning of the oars hitting the water.

    Mo Yating and He Cheng took a small break, bringing out some water from their interspatial rings and starting up a conversation with Huang Ying and Xin Yang. Rowing in silence for 96 hours slowly took it's toll on their mental state, so just stopping and chatting was a nice and refreshing feeling.

    As they were chatting, Xin Yang suddenly turned his head, staring at the water just behind them. He narrowed his eyes and was just about to say something when the entire raft suddenly shot skywards. The raft shot skywards and the four people were collectively thrown into the air with it. The sudden turn of events caught them all off guard, but they were still quick to react, stabilizing their bodies in mid-air.

    Looking down, they could see a massive emerald tentacle slowly sinking back into the water, this tentacle was obviously what had thrown the raft into the sky. Just looking at the tip of the tentacle gave them all shivers, they did not doubt that whatever creature owned that tentacle was easily capable of slaying them.

    They all quickly utilized whatever means they had to return to the currently falling raft, quickly landing safely on it. As the raft landed in the water, Huang Ying and Xin Yang did not waste time on words, quickly grabbing the oars and rowing with all their might.

    Huang Ying felt a sizzling pain on his right arm as he was rowing and lowered his head to look at his arm. He was completely aghast when he saw that a drop of the green water had landed on his arm, quickly melting through his clothing and corroding his arm. In the time it took Huang Ying to notice the pain and react, the drop of water had already melted a one inch deep hole into his arm.

    Huang Ying quickly circulated his Qi, pushing the drop of water out off his arm, before quickly covering the wound with some cloth and checking on the others. He noticed that he was not the only one who noticed the horror that was the water around them. The others had also been hit by some water, quickly realizing just how corrosive this liquid was.

    Xin Yang and Mo Yating were still fine, they had been hit in places where they could quickly react and push out the water. But He Cheng had gotten some water on his right hand, losing his index, middle, and ring finger before he managed to even react. He grit his teeth and wrapped his hand with a strange blue leaf, the bleeding quickly receding.

    “Is it still following us?”

    Mo Yating was the first one to open her mouth, her voice still trembling due to the shock.

    “I can't tell, the waters too murky, I can't even see past four meters deep.”

    Xin Yang cast his eyes towards the water, trying to peer into the depths, but the water was simply too murky to see anything. The group continued rowing in silence, the threat of that massive beast now looming above their heads.

    They continued rowing for over two days, but the monster never made any more appearances. They returned to their normal routine of rowing, changing ever four hours. He Cheng had lost three fingers, but he was after all a cultivator at the peak of the 8th heaven, so just a bit of rowing was no problem for them.

    After they spent two days rowing, Xin Yang called for them to take a short break to catch their breaths and calm their minds. The break lasted for around 5 minutes before Huang Ying and Xin Yang both quickly turned their heads and stared at the water.



    They both shouted at the same time, throwing themselves at the oars and rowing with all their might. Right after they started moving, a massive tentacle broke through the water behind them, flinging large amounts of water into the air, but just barely missing the raft.

    Seeing the water falling down at them, Xin Yang quickly reacted, throwing his oar to Mo Yating, who quickly took over his rowing. Xin Yang circulated all his Qi and sent it into his surroundings, taking over all the Natural Energy in a 200 meter range. As his Qi took over, wind started to blow all around the boat, quickly growing in strength, pushing the corrosive water aside before it could hit the raft.

    After the water was blocked, Xin Yang sat down and popped a pill into his mouth, quickly shutting his eyes to meditate and absorb the energy within the pill. He had spent all his Qi to push the corrosive water aside, he would require a short period of time before he could return to his peak state.

    The group continued to row in silence for half a day before Xin Yang had returned to his peak state. As Xin Yang returned to his peak state, Huang Ying called for a break. The group looked at him in shock for a short while, before quickly catching on to what he meant.

    After waiting for another five minutes, He Cheng and Mo Yating threw themselves at the oars and started rowing, quickly bringing the raft forward. As the raft moved forward, a massive tentacle once more broke through the water surface, bringing with it a shower of corrosive water.

    Xin Yang once more expended all his Qi to push the water aside, not allowing any of it to hit the raft. After the water was pushed aside, he popped another pil into his mouth, but he didn't stop to meditate this time, a grim look on his face.

    “It seems like this is an endurance trial.”

    Xin Yang was the first one to break the silence, his words causing the others to nod with solemn expression. The tentacles had attacked three times, and all three times were when they stopped rowing to rest. If it had happened once or twice, they could write it off as coincidence. But when it happened three times in a row, and there were no other signs of the monster at any other times?

    This meant that they would have to continuously row without pause, until they managed to reach the end of this vast expanse of water. But the question was for how long they would have to do that. They had already rowed for six and a half days without seeing any signs of the end. Just how far would they have to row before the found the end?

  • Chapter 59: Madness on the raft.

    Time ended up proving Xin Yang right. The group continued to row without pause, days turning into weeks and weeks turning into months. The scenery around them never changed, the murky green water being the only thing they could see.

    “Isn't this just fucking insane?!”

    He Cheng couldn't help but scream out as they were rowing. They had already rowed for several months without break. He had brought many pills to restore energy, allowing them to keep rowing without break, but the unchanging scenery and monotony of the work was close to driving him insane.

    He Cheng wasn't the only one. Mo Yating was completely pale, her eyes bloodshot. They thought that the people who entered before them and ended up mad when they left had ended up like that because they were weak, it was only now that they realized how horrible these ruins really were.

    Xin Yang was also pale, but Huang Ying was rather surprised by his mental fortitude. Despite the monotony and exhaustion of the work, Xin Yang kept a perpetual smile, even cracking jokes several times a day.

    Huang Ying was undoubtedly the one who was best of. He had long grown used to monotony and exhaustion. Just before he entered these ruins he had been tortured for half a year, surrounded by a world of ice.

    “Ey, Little Ying. Tell me honestly, how much longer do you think we have to spend rowing this fucking raft?”

    Xin Yang turned to Huang Ying and spoke as they were rowing. Over these few months, Xin Yang would often talk to Huang Ying when they were rowing. Huang Ying didn't enjoyed having someone to talk to while rowing, so he didn't mind chatting with Xin Yang.

    “I have no clue, but i'm afraid that if it keeps going like this, He Cheng or Mo Yating might actually end up completely insane.”

    Huang Ying glanced at He Cheng and Mo Yating as he spoke. He Cheng had started talking less and less these past months, often mumbling to himself. Mo Yating was still better off, she simply curled up at the corner of the boat and gazed into the murky water.

    “Have you noticed something strange these past few months?”

    Xin Yang turned his head a bit, scanning the surroundings as he spoke, lowering his voice to a silent whisper.

    “You mean how our cultivation isn't increasing right?”

    Huang Ying also lowered his voice to a whisper. They had been rowing for a few months, cultivating whenever they weren't rowing. But Huang Ying noticed that no matter how much he cultivated, his cultivation level was still only at the 9th heaven.

    This could of course mean that he had encountered a bottleneck and had to find a way to break through. But Huang Ying had already been capable of reaching the Xiantian Builder stage before he even entered these ruins, so how could he possibly encounter a bottleneck now?

    If it wasn't just his cultivation level that had stagnated, that could only mean that there was either no Natural Energy in their surroundings, or something was preventing them from absorbing Natural Energy.

    But Huang Ying could both feel and see the Natural Energy around them, it was even more abundant than it was in the outside world. He had also absorbed the Natural Energy around him, so there was no way that there was anything preventing them from absorbing the energy.

    This question had not only stumped Huang Ying, but also Xin Yang. There was an abundant amount of energy around them and they could absorb as much as they wanted, yet their cultivation level did not increase.

    “Should we tell the others?”

    Huang Ying glanced at Mo Yating and He Cheng as he asked. Over these past few months, he had gotten a pretty good grip on Xin Yang's character. He was carefree and fun-loving, but he also had sharp vision and a quick mind, allowing him to easily grasp the most minute of details.

    “No, we probably shouldn't. Right now, all they have left is cultivating to pass the time. If they lose even that, there is no telling what they'll do.”

    Xin Yang played with the thought in silence for a few minutes, but eventually shook his head. Mo Yating and He Cheng were already dangerously close to going insane, any more bad new and they might completely snap.

    Huang Ying nodded his head. What Xin Yang said did indeed sound reasonable, nor did he have any better ideas, so just maintaining the status quo would be for the best. Yet neither Huang Ying or Xin Yang expected that He Cheng would discover it after but four more days.

    “My cultivation isn't increasing!”

    He Cheng suddenly stood up and screamed out, his voice hoarse. When he entered the ruins, he was at the peak of the 8th heaven. He had been planning on breaking through right after they left the ruins. But since they ended up spending several months on this raft, he thought that he might as well break through now.


    Mo Yating was pale as she stood up. She was already struggling with the thought that they might be stuck on this raft for several more months, hearing that they might not even be able to cultivate on furthered her despair.

    “It's true, I am at the peak of the 8th heaven, I should have already broken through, yet im stuck at the peak of the 8th heaven!”

    He Cheng grit his teeth and clenched his fist as he spoke. He couldn't even cultivate in this damned place. Wouldn't that mean that they were stuck on this raft until they ran out of food and die?

    “It can't be....”

    Mo Yating quickly checked her cultivation after hearing He Cheng confirm it. She spent most of her time just vacantly staring into the water, but she had spent a bit of time cultivating. If things were like normal, she would have closed in on the 9th heaven. But she was shocked to see that her cultivation had completely stagnated, not moving an inch.

    “Fucking dammit! This shitty place is driving me insane! We can't reach the end, we can't cultivate, we can't even touch the fucking water! Fuck this.”

    He Cheng screamed out, grasping at his own head, his eyes completely bloodshot. He suddenly turned his head, looking at Mo Yating with crimson eyes, his face twisting into a repulsive grin.

    “What...What are you doing?”

    Mo Yating felt a cold shiver go up her spine as she saw He Cheng's repulsive grin. She knew that the cultivation world was a lot more cruel to women than it was to men, but she had yet to experience it for herself.

    “I've had it with this dull and monotonous prison, if we are just going to die here after running out of food, I might as well do what I want to do!”

    He Cheng spoke with a grin as he straightened out his body and started walking towards Mo Yating, his hands already reaching out for her.

    “?! Get away from me!”

    Mo Yating paled even more upon seeing his actions, her face was now completely devoid of color. She scramble backwards, hoping to seek shelter behind Huang Ying and Xin Yang.


    Huang Ying couldn't help but sigh and shake his head when he saw the events unfold. Xin Yang was also shaking his head. This was exactly what he was worried would happen, He Cheng completely losing control.

    Huang Ying stood up as He Cheng closed in. He Cheng didn't even look at Huang Ying, just swinging his arm sideways to push him away. Little did he expect Huang Ying to easily back-step and dodge his swing. Huang Ying kicked out, planting his foot firmly into He Cheng's stomach.

    He Cheng bent forward like a shrimp, blood dripping out from the corners of his mouth. How strong was Huang Ying's body at this point? Not even some Xiantian Builder cultivators could compare with his bodily strength. He Cheng quickly tumbled backwards, falling into the water.

    Since he had already turned completely mad, Huang Ying did not see a point in sparing his life. If he lived, it would only bring trouble to the rest of the group. Huang Ying also wasn't too comfortable with what He Cheng wanted to do. Huang Ying had no problem with killing people, he had killed plenty of people. But he had a strong revulsion towards the act of rape.

    “?! Could it be....?”

    As He Cheng landed in the water, he started quickly dissolving due to the corrosive property of the water. Huang Ying was just about to turn away when he spotted something strange.

    He had gotten used to keeping his energy vision active almost constantly, so he noticed that while He Cheng was dissolving, his entire body turned into dots of energy that seemed to tunnel through space before vanishing, almost like it was traveling through a spatial array.

    “You saw it as well?”

    Xin Yang sprang up from where he was sitting, quickly moving up next to Huang Ying. He didn't question why Huang Ying could send He Cheng flying with one kick. Ever since they had entered, he had been chatting with Huang Ying.

    The main reason he was chatting with Huang Ying was because he felt a strong sense of danger from Huang Ying. He found it interesting that a cultivator at the 7th heaven could give him such a strong sense of danger.

    “Yeah. Do you really think it would be that easy?”

    Huang Ying was rather surprised that Xin Yang had noticed the scene as well. Since he could see it, it meant that he either had a special affinity towards energy, or had eaten a Heavens Eye Mushroom like Huang Ying.

    “There's really only one way to find out. Besides, it's better than just wasting away on this fucking raft. Might as well bet it all on a crazy idea once in a while.”

    Xin Yang spoke with a grin. They had noticed that He Cheng turned into energy and tunneled through space. This could either mean that the water dissolved them into energy to fuel an array, or that they would be sent away by an array instead of dying.

    Xin Yang hadn't mentioned it, but spending several months rowing had still taken a toll on him mentally. Since he saw a chance to possibly escape from here, there was no way he wouldn't grasp it, even if it sounded completely insane.

    “Very well. Let's bet on something crazy then.”

    Huang Ying nodded his head. The idea was crazy, but it was indeed better than spending more time on the raft, rowing through waters without end in sight. Huang Ying wasn't an indecisive man. Since they had already agreed on the idea, he immediately acted.

    He grabbed Mo Yating and ignored her screaming as he threw her into the water. She dissolved into energy almost immediately, disappearing through space. Huang Ying and Xin Yang looked at each other, gave each other a quick nod, and then jumped into the water.
  • Chapter 60: Abandoned City.

    Contrary to what Huang Ying expected, there was no pain after he jumped into the water. Since a simple drop of the water had etched itself an inch deep into his skin, he assumed that there would be an excruciating pain after he jumped into the water, but all he felt was a pleasant warmth.

    He could no longer feel his body, the world swiftly darkening in front of his eyes. He closed his eyes and waited. If their idea was correct, they would be transported somewhere else. If it ended up being wrong? Then they would just die here.

    When Huang Ying regained his senses and opened his eyes, he found himself standing in a small room. There was a glowing orb floating above them, lighting up the room. There was a door a few steps in front of him and Xin Yang and the others were standing around him, confused looks on their faces.

    Huang Ying looked down at the ground. The ground beneath them was covered in dark blue squiggly lines. The lines covered the floor of the entire room, crisscrossing around each other like a mass of snakes.

    “You bastards!”

    Huang Ying's concentration was broken by Mo Yating's scream. Looking up, he could see Mo Yating pointing at them, her face red from fury.

    “You tried to rape me! And you just killed me!”

    She first pointed at He Cheng, screaming so loud that spit flew everywhere. She then pointed at Huang Ying and Xin Yang. Huang Ying only gave her a quick glance before turning his eyes back to the lines beneath them. He had no patience to deal with someone who hadn't even realized the situation yet.

    “Calm down. The only reason we threw you into the water was to bring you out of the locked space.”

    Xin Yang raised his arms and tried to explain to her, gesturing towards the floor.

    “Locked space?”

    Mo Yating seemed to catch onto something, quickly turning her head to the ground, looking at the lines beneath them. The dark blue lines seemed to be random squiggles, but she could still feel some traces of Qi from them, they were obviously a type of array.

    “How much time has passed?”

    Huang Ying traced the lines with his fingers for a bit before turning his head to Xin Yang. They had spent a few months on that raft, but seeing these lines, Huang Ying couldn't help but be a bit suspicious about how much time had really passed.

    “Time....?! It's only been half a day...?”

    Xin Yang was slightly confused at first, but quickly caught onto Huang Ying's meaning. He fished out a pale blue jade from his interspatial ring and inspected it. The jade shone with a blue light, but there was a small part at the top of the jade that was completely dark.

    This type of jade was often used when people went out adventuring. One could infuse it with a certain amount of Qi, and it would then glow for a certain amount of time, slowly dimming as time passed.

    Xin Yang had filled this piece of jade with Qi just before they entered. Since only a small part at the tip had dimmed, that meant that it had only been half a day since they entered the ruins.

    “Seems like it's not a spatial array, but an illusion array. We were probably trapped in the illusion the moment we entered the ruins.”

    Huang Ying finished tracing the lines and stood up, dusting off his hands. He had some memories about this type of array, but the ones he knew off were all on a much smaller scale. They were also much weaker than this one.

    “Where do you think you are going?!”

    While Huang Ying and Xin Yang were shocked at the strength of the illusion array, Mo Yating's voice shouted out from the side. Turning their head, they could see her glaring at He Cheng, who was slowly edging towards the door in an attempt to escape.

    If it had been before they entered the ruins, he would have just left immediately, not caring about the others. But ever since he had been kicked by Huang Ying inside the illusion array, he realized that he was probably not the strongest person in the group. If Huang Ying decided to kill him for what he tried to do, there was nothing he could do to fight back.

    “I'm obviously not welcome here, so why should I humiliate myself and stay here?”

    He Cheng cast a glance at Huang Ying before making a mad dash towards the door. He was relieved when he noticed that Huang Ying wasn't chasing him, but Mo Yating would obviously not just let him off, she immediately chased after him.

    Xin Yang only heaved a deep sigh and shook his head. The three of them all came from second rate factions from the central area, so they had some relationship with each other. He was just about to go after them when Huang Ying's hand landed on his shoulder, stopping him.

    “There is no point. If we bring them with us, there is no telling when they are going to break down again. Besides, do you really think words will calm her down?”

    Huang Ying only shook his head. They were already unstable after spending a few months in the illusion array. There was no telling what they would face when they ventured deeper into the ruins. If they brought Mo Yating and He Cheng with them, they could easily endanger both Xin Yang and Huang Ying if they started fighting each other during a dangerous trial.

    “Haah, I never thought that them spending too much time with their teachers would make them so mentally weak.”

    Xin Yang knew that what Huang Ying said was correct, so he could only shake his head and sigh once more. Mo Yating and He Cheng had spent most of their lives following behind their teachers, protected by them. They had never traveled the world and experienced how tough and cruel it really was. Due to this, their mentality would always be one of their weak points.

    “Who knows, maybe they'll both survive and learn something.”

    Huang Ying shrugged his shoulders and left for the door. He knew that Xin Yang had a slight relationship with the two others since they all came from the central area. But Huang Ying only had a good impression of Xin Yang, not the two others, so whatever happened to them, he did not care too much. He did not mind saving someone when he saw their plight right in front of him. But if they were not his friends, he would not bother going out of his way to save them.

    Leaving the small room brought Huang Ying and Xin Yang into a large plaza. There was a clear blue sky above them, blazing sunlight bearing down upon them. The ground beneath them was dusty and yellow, it seemed like the area was slowly turning into a desert.

    Huang Ying could see several small buildings in the area around them. The buildings were made out of a type of pale, yellow rock, their roofs made out out wood and straw. Each house was square shaped, each side being five meters long. The houses were only a little under three meters in height.

    Huang Ying followed the houses with his eyes, but each house seemed completely uniform in size. The only house that wasn't the same size as the others was a large mansion in the distance. Huang Ying didn't know how far away the mansion was, but from where they were standing, the mansion almost looked like no more than a dot.

    Huang Ying glanced at the area around them, but there were no signs of Mo Yating or He Cheng, so they had probably already left the area. Huang Ying didn't see any other signs off people, so it seemed like the entire city was abandoned. He tried to once more make contact with Li Jun, but there was still no reply. At first he thought that he could not contact Li Jun since they were trapped in an illusion array, but now it seemed like there was something within these ruins blocking him from contacting Li Jun.

    “We should probably check out that mansion. If there isn't any signs of the entrance to the next area within the mansion, we can only check all these houses one by one.”

    Xin Yang had also scanned the area. The only thing they could see that wasn't the same as the small houses was the large mansion. Since it was the only thing that stood out, it would also be the most likely location for the entrance to the next area. Huang Ying had thought of the same idea, so he simply nodded his head and started walking.

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