Chapter 364: Slaying
A slender branch thwacked at an approaching stone, flashing with white light and sending the stone flying. As Xi Canhen received this attack, his face paled.
So he was still lacking in spiritual energy?
He hadn’t cultivated a mantra, so even though his Jade Gate was open and he could absorb spiritual energy and use it, his Spiritual Space wasn’t open, meaning he couldn’t store it. This meant that he was left weak and helpless after every strike.
Even so, after repeated training, Xi Canhen was growing more and more familiar with the Twelve-Form Horizon Sword.
The little tiger wasn’t training him in offensive ability, but in how to dodge and block. This was so the little tiger didn’t need to be distracted by having to protect this guy in the middle of battle.
As the stone was knocked away, the little tiger lunged at Xi Canhen and swatted at him.
Xi Canhen only saw a blur, but these last two days of bitter training had allowed Xi Canhen to gradually grow accustomed to this sort of situation. The moment the little tiger attacked, Xi Canhen dived to the ground.
The tiger claw whooshed over Xi Canhen’s head, but at this same moment, the tiger’s tail swatted at him. But before Xi Canhen had even hit the ground, he had rolled off to the side. As the tail struck the ground, Xi Canhen turned, throwing out some dirt as he got to his feet and ran behind a tree.
As the little tiger was about to lunge again, a sword emerged from behind the tree. This sword had been very well hidden before this, and it was positioned just right so that if the tiger jumped, the sword would thrust right into his stomach.
The little tiger froze and looked at Xi Canhen, who smugly chuckled.
The little tiger tilted his head and let out a difficult-to-understand growl. Although he didn’t know what the real meaning of this growl was, Xi Canhen could sense that the tiger looked at him with very warm and gentle eyes.
The tiger’s tail stroked Xi Canhen’s head like it was a hand, and then the tiger turned around, settled down under a tree, and went to sleep.
Did this mean that he had graduated?
Xi Canhen happily laughed.
He walked over and stroked the little tiger, saying, “Bao’er, thank you.”
The little tiger looked at him. Xi Canhen lay down, using the tiger’s stomach as a pillow.
Looking up at the sky, he said, “It’s truly a good feeling… I’m talking about not having to mine ore. In the mines, I had to be careful every day, careful of that terrifying monster that might eat me and careful of people who were bigger than me stealing from me. I remember the first time someone stole from me. It was my third day in the mines. I had dug up a high-grade piece of ore. It was big, at least ten catties. I was so happy that I shouted ‘I’m rich!’ Then some extremely wicked guy came over, slapped me, and stole my ore.”
The tiger quietly listened.
Xi Canhen continued, “That was the first time I was robbed. Later on, I learned that this wasn’t anything rare. Things like this happened every day in the mines. From that point on, I became cautious and no longer let people get close to me. I would often think to myself, ‘Will I still be alive tomorrow?’ Perhaps I would be mining today and a body at the bottom of a pit tomorrow. No one would care about me. No one except my little sister would care…”
Xi Canhen’s voice faded away, and the little tiger nudged him with his head. He couldn’t completely understand Xi Canhen’s words, but he could sense the intense emotions and Xi Canhen’s deep sorrow.
He found it somewhat strange. Why was this youth suddenly so sad? Was it because the tiger was ignoring him?
He looked curiously at the youth, but a moment later, the youth’s mood clearly improved, for he hugged the tiger’s head and muttered, “Until I met all of you. Young Master saved me and my little sister, and he even instructed me. And there’s you… You’re a good tiger. Everyone says that fiends are bad, but I think that you’re a hundred times better than humans. It’s a pity that you’re not at Mind Opening and can’t talk, but that’s fine. You can understand what I’m saying, right?”
He stroked the tiger’s face as he cheerfully spoke.
The little tiger looked at him in a daze.
A gust of wind stirred up the leaves covering the ground.
Xi Canhen suddenly laughed.
He said, “Do you know what happened to the guy who stole from me? One night, I sneaked into his home and gave him a stab while he was sleeping.”
The tiger’s eyes suddenly turned sharp.
Xi Canhen looked at the tiger and chuckled. “So…”
Before he finished, he suddenly turned around and chopped at a vine next to him. The vine snapped, and then there was a boom as a wooden board covered in nails crashed into a nearby clearing.
Sword light erupted, slicing the wood into pieces, and a Stone Gate disciple appeared. The moment he appeared, the little tiger exploded forward, swinging a paw at the disciple.
The disciple jumped away in pain, and Xi Canhen chopped at another vine. Whoosh! Whoosh! Several wooden spears flew out of the forest at the disciple.
The disciple had pretty good reaction speed, still being able to get back up and dodge the spears. But as he landed on the ground and was about to get up, plush! A sword emerged from his chest.
The disciple shuddered, blood seeping from his mouth as his body came to a stop.
Xi Canhen coldly said, “So this actually isn’t my first time killing someone!”
He pulled out the sword and stepped back.
“Aooo!” The disciple crazily howled as he turned around and slashed at Xi Canhen, trying to kill him. But Xi Canhen executed a simple roll and easily dodged.
The disciple wanted to pursue, but the little tiger rushed out and swatted a paw at his head, ending his life.
Xi Canhen walked over and kicked the body to make sure it was dead. He then began to search the disciple’s Mustard Seed Bag. There hadn’t been anything good from Hong Antao, who had been so poor that he hadn’t even had a Mustard Seed Bag. This one was clearly different.
His clothes were luxurious, and he had a Mustard Seed Bag. The spoils had to be better this time.
Opening up the Mustard Seed Bag and looking inside, Xi Canhen smiled and said, “My luck’s pretty good. Bao’er, see what I found!”
What he took out was a cultivation mantra.
On it was written “Heaven-Howling Dragon Tiger Mantra.”
“Haha, it’s a cultivation mantra!” Xi Canhen happily said. “I didn’t think this idiot would gift me a cultivation mantra before the young master even gave me one.”
Leaving behind the callousness of a murderer, Xi Canhen went back to being an ordinary youth.
“But wasn’t it said that such things are all transmitted mentally? Since this mantra was recorded in a book, it can’t be worth a lot. So should I learn it or not?” Xi Canhen carefully thought it over, but after a while, he suddenly said, “What’s the point in thinking about all this? Those assassins will keep coming. Let’s get through all this first. At worst, I just have to go back and learn it later.”
He put away the book and continued looking through the bag, finding a few bottles of cultivation medicine.
These weren’t particularly good medicines, but for Xi Canhen, they were an extremely rare find.
Xi Canhen then took out several green robes. These robes were in a different style from those worn by the Stone Gate Sect’s disciples. The cloth was of high quality, the workmanship was exquisite, and there was even some sort of seven-leafed grass embroidered onto it. Xi Canhen found this symbol rather familiar, and it was only after a while that he realized that this was the symbol of the Seven Absolutions Sect.
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He said in realization, “Bao’er, I think we killed the wrong person. This guy isn’t from the Stone Gate Sect.”
Bao’er looked at him in confusion, but then Xi Canhen added, “Ah, whatever. Since he had changed his clothes and was hiding nearby, he probably had ill intentions; he’s either a spy or a thief. Besides, he’s not from Sageheart, so there’s no need to be nice to him.”
With a wave of his hand, Xi Canhen put the matter to the side.
The last thing he took from the Mustard Seed Bag was some glistening yellow object. He wasn’t able to immediately recognize it.
As Xi Canhen turned the object over in his hands, Bao’er fervently stared.
He lunged, ripped the item from Xi Canhen’s hand, and gobbled it down in a few bites.
“Bao’er!” Xi Canhen looked at the little tiger in shock.
After eating that glistening yellow object, the little tiger began to radiate a gentle light.
The light enveloped the tiger, making him seem hallowed and pure, a transcendent. Xi Canhen’s eyes grew wide.
A few moments later, the light disappeared. The tiger yawned and then walked off to the side and fell asleep.
As he slept, his hide had a glossiness as if there was something flowing underneath it.
Xi Canhen got close to look and found that the tiger’s veins were bulging, blood flowing like a torrential river. If he focused and listened, he could vaguely hear the roar of a tiger coming from the blood vessels…
The Stone Gate Sect had clearly lowered its surveillance of Tang Jie.
This left Tang Jie very confused.
Were they trying to make him drop his guard and lure him into a trap? Or was it some other reason?
But Tang Jie could feel his host’s attitude cooling by the day, and he could sense that the Stone Gate Sect wanted him to leave.
This left Tang Jie flabbergasted, for if this was true, it meant that the Stone Gate Sect did not suspect him of being involved in that earlier affair.
The problem was that Tang Jie had never planned to clear himself of suspicion, but suspicion had instead inexplicably cleared itself from him. What was going on?
Tang Jie couldn’t help but be baffled.
But no matter how much the Stone Gate Sect wanted him to leave, Tang Jie couldn’t leave. He could be more shameless than anyone, ignoring the jeers and ridicule of others and taking up residence in the Stone Gate Sect.
Today, as Tang Jie was strolling about the mountain, he saw several Stone Gate Sect disciples walking out of the distance.
These people spotted Tang Jie, but they simply snorted and left on their own business.
But as they passed each other, the wind delivered some unpleasant words to his ears:
“Is that the Basking Moon Sect’s Tang Jie?”
“Pay attention to your words! He’s not Tang Jie, but the honored emissary.”
“‘Emissary’, my ass! He’s only at the initial tier of the Mortal Shedding Realm, around the same as us. What’s there to be proud of about that?”
“That’s right. He doesn’t look like much to me. He’s only able to be so brazen because of his background. In terms of strength, he might not be any better than Senior Brother Lin. In a fight, I’m sure Senior Brother could send that kid flying in one slap.”
“Right, right,” others sounded off in agreement.
These voices were so clear that it was clear that none of them feared Tang Jie. In fact, as they walked farther away, their voices grew even louder, as if someone was intentionally delivering them to Tang Jie’s ears.
Tang Jie could only helplessly chuckle at this.
Mm, while the method is a little low-class, it’s still quite effective.
The moment he fought with those Stone Gate Sect disciples, regardless of who won, Tang Jie had no reason to remain in the Stone Gate Sect.
Thus, in the face of this ridicule, Tang Jie could only laugh and ignore it.
But a moment later, one of them said, “Sure enough, he’s a good-for-nothing. ‘Honored emissary of a major sect’? What bullshit! He’s clearly just trash. Trash parents have trash children, and trash teachers produce trash disciples. This person probably has nothing but useless people around him.”
Everyone heartily laughed.
Tang Jie’s face darkened.
The level of their ridicule had clearly increased, even insulting his parents and teachers. Tang Jie was reaching his breaking point.
He turned around and took a good look. There were four people talking, and their leader was a youth with a rather insidious face.
Tang Jie recognized him. His name was Lin Fan, and he was Shi Jingzhai’s personal disciple. He was at Mortal Shedding Nine Revolutions, one tier higher than Tang Jie. As for the other three, they were only at the first tier of Mortal Shedding, around Tang Jie’s level.
As Tang Jie looked at the four, Lin Fan fearlessly glared back.
Before, these guys wouldn’t have the guts to speak rudely about an emissary from the Basking Moon Sect, but now that they had been ordered to drive Tang Jie off the mountain by any method, they had decided that the best method was to incite a fight.
But young men often went too far.
It wasn’t like they couldn’t insult him as a means of provocation, but insulting one’s parents was clearly a bridge too far, especially because they were the ones provoking this challenge. Such targeted insults were nothing short of suicidal, and Tang Jie couldn’t possibly endure them no matter how good his upbringing was.
He looked at Lin Fan and said, “After eating and drinking at the host’s house for a few days, I didn’t expect to run into a dog protective of its food. Out of respect for the host, I won’t beat the dog for now, but once I leave the yard, if the dog dares to give chase, I can’t be blamed for defending myself.”
He made his way down the mountain.
Of course, that line about the dog daring to give chase actually meant, “Come down the mountain and fight me if you’ve got the guts.”
The four looked at each other, and then Lin Fan viciously said, “Let’s go. What? Are we scared of him?”
What did it matter that he was an honored emissary? Since they were carrying out their master’s command, they were happy to use this chance to take care of Tang Jie.
The four of them went down the mountain, and upon leaving Stone Gate Peak, they saw Tang Jie flying off into the distance at an incredible speed with no intention of slowing down.
“Tang Jie!” Lin Fan barked.
Tang Jie looked back and sneered. “You idiots, I can’t believe you went down the mountain just because I told you to. If you’ve got the skill, try and catch me first.”
He proceeded to accelerate.
“Trying to run?” Lin Fan growled, killing intent in his eyes.
“After him!” The four of them went off in pursuit, the five figures drawing out five beams of light in the sky as they shot off into the horizon.
Lin Fan was the fastest and was far ahead of the rest of the pack, closing the distance with Tang Jie. But this also meant that he was gradually separated from his junior brothers.
Lin Fan saw what Tang Jie was up to, using his speed to split them up and avoid being surrounded. He laughed and said, “Tang Jie, is using these lowly tricks all you know how to do? This divide-and-conquer strategy isn’t anything to crow about! If you’ve got the guts, come and fight me right now!”
“Who said that I was trying to divide and conquer you lot?” Tang Jie’s lip curled in disdain. “You guys think you’re worthy?”
Lin Fan was startled. “Then what are you running for?”
Tang Jie narrowed his eyes, replying as he continued to fly along, “Why am I running? So I can be farther from Stone Gate Peak, of course. That old dog Shi Jingzhai is probably watching from somewhere, right? With him around, this battle would be nothing more than children quarreling, totally boring. I’m no longer interested in those battles where my life isn’t on the line. Since you were the one who provoked this challenge, humiliated my parents and teachers, and even chased me… I naturally have to slaughter you!”
Tang Jie suddenly turned around and landed on a nearby mountain. Proudly standing, he pointed the Heartbreak Saber at the air and said, “If this were the past, I might not have done things this way, but in the last two years, I’ve gradually adapted to this world. Since the Rosecloud Domain is a place where the strong eat the weak, then as one of the weak, you should know to obediently listen, and to challenge me is to seek death. This is the custom of the Rosecloud Domain, and to kill you contravenes no law or principle of this world! Thus, I should kill who ought to be killed!”
He swung the Heartbreak Saber, unleashing a vicious blade of wind that swept toward Lin Fan.
Lin Fan had never expected Tang Jie to be so decisive, attacking at the drop of a hat. He cried out in alarm and began to form hand signs. Mighty waves of energy swept out, and with just that, Lin Fan managed to stop the Matchless Slash.
The greatest difference between Nine Revolutions and Hundred Refinement was the substantialization of their spiritual energy.
Hundred Refinement mainly strengthened one’s bones and muscles, a major change to one’s physical body. Nine Revolutions, on the other hand, mostly worked to improve the organs. This boost was similar to that of the Jewel Body, but also different.
The Jewel Body purely strengthened the major organs and provided a constant stream of vitality. For example, with greater attainment in the Jewel Body, Tang Jie could now have his heart pierced without dying and was immune to most poisons. The Nine Revolutions body wasn’t as impressive as the Jewel Body in these aspects, but it worked on the spiritual energy in the heart, liver, spleen, stomach, kidney, lungs, intestines, gallbladder, and head, fusing the spiritual energy with the body. This greatly improved the flow of spiritual energy, allowing for greater force with every movement.
As for that Nine Revolutions cultivator from the Gu Clan, he had only just barely stepped over the Nine Revolutions threshold. Let alone the tempering of the spiritual space in the nine major weak points, he hadn’t achieved tempering in any part of his body. He was only nominally in the Nine Revolutions Tier.
But Lin Fan was a real Nine Revolutions cultivator, achieving fusion of spiritual energy and body in four of his nine major weak points. Thus, he moved nimbly, and even a casual swing of his sword had the effect of a spell art.
The farther one got in cultivation, the more obvious the gap between tiers became, and the greater the difficulty in challenging those above one’s level.
This was precisely why, even though Lin Fan had been taken by surprise and didn’t have time to properly cast a spell art, he could rely purely on his spiritual energy to fend off the Matchless Slash. A Spirit Master at the Hundred Refinement Period would have found it much harder.
But as he blocked this attack, several cold stars that had been hiding in the shadow of the saber energy flew at Lin Fan’s face.
The Eclipsed Star!
After four years of diligent training, Tang Jie had mastered this move.
Lin Fan hadn’t expected this development, and the nine stars shot toward his eyes, ears, and nose. He twisted his head in panic, but he was only in time to dodge some of the stars, the rest smashing into the side of his face.
The sensation of these stars striking the face was not a pleasant one as they punched bloody holes through him. But as he was at Nine Revolutions, substantialized spiritual energy had the ability to automatically protect the user and reduce damage. Besides, these stars were famed for their stealth, not their offensive power. This was why his head wasn’t penetrated all the way through, but even so, he had been badly wounded, one of his eyes almost blinded.
“Aaagh!” Lin Fan roared in anger.
Not even in his dreams could he have imagined that he would be so heavily wounded by Tang Jie after only their first exchange.
Just as he was about to turn around and attack Tang Jie, he saw Tang Jie standing below him and thrusting a palm at him.
This palm rumbled like thunder, with shades of a draconic roar.
This naturally wasn’t a real dragon roar, but when this spell art was used, the wind it created made a sound like a dragon roar, hence the name:
Lin Fan angrily roared as he slashed his sword. This attack contained his anger, and so even though it had been made in haste, it contained considerable power. The sword light slashed at Tang Jie’s energy palm like a bolt of lightning, the collision producing a powerful shockwave of spiritual energy.
The Dragonlike Hand trembled, and then Lin Fan’s attack cut through, causing it to dissipate.
In terms of cultivation, Lin Fan was ultimately stronger, which was clear from the power of his spell arts.
But as the Dragonlike Hand disappeared, a burst of saber energy swept toward Lin Fan.
Divine Court Thousandshift, Thousand Rupture Slash!
Not even in his dreams would Lin Fan have imagined that Tang Jie would conceal an attack in his palm, and he just barely managed to swing his sword to block.
But this time, he didn’t have time to gather his power, only sending off a wave of spiritual energy. Saber met sword, easily slicing through the defense of sword energy and slamming into Lin Fan’s chest. Lin Fan screamed as he was sent plummeting from the sky.
As Lin Fan fell, Tang Jie snorted and gave chase.
He had been somewhat lucky to win this battle. His two attacks had both concealed a sneak attack, and while the Stone Gate Sect had some resources, it lacked spell arts that could be mixed with other spell arts like the Dragonlike Hand and the Eclipsed Star. Thus, Lin Fan had no experience in dealing with such things, allowing Tang Jie to take the initiative.
If Lin Fan had been ready, then with his Nine Revolutions cultivation, he would have given Tang Jie a tough battle. Tang Jie could still have won, but he would have had to use both the golden needle and a Mindseizer.
It was naturally best if he didn’t have to use his trump cards. As he made ready to give his foe the finishing stab, the other three Stone Gate disciples flew into view.
They saw Lin Fan plummeting from the sky with heavy injuries and cried out in shock, “Stay your weapon and leave him be!”
The Stone Gate disciples still had the thought that Tang Jie didn’t have the guts to kill.
But to their surprise, Tang Jie threw out his Heartbreak Saber, which flew through the air, caught up to the falling Lin Fan, and stabbed into his chest. Spiritual energy exploded, blasting apart Lin Fan’s organs. Under Tang Jie’s control, the Heartbreak Saber was pulled back, slicing open Lin Fan’s body in the process and showering the ground with blood and viscera.
There was no healing these wounds!
“You…” The three disciples stared at Tang Jie in wide-eyed shock.
Tang Jie floated in the air and proudly said, “According to the laws of Basking Moon, the crime of a subordinate speaking rudely to their superior is punishable by death!”
Some poor Stone Gate Sect disciples about to learn that there’s a price for mocking Tang Jie.