MEN Volume 3 Chapter 44

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Volume 3 – The Place Where My Heart Feels At Peace, Chapter 44: Crossing Swords

 

The base of the 131st Company was remarkably empty. The barracks that could hold two hundred soldiers were now only occupied by just ten-odd of them, and the air of despair and grief for their fallen comrades hung heavily over the survivors’ heads.

Qianye didn’t confirm if the lieutenant had heard of the battle report for the 131st from the expeditionary army so he tacitly allowed the man to use this method to comfort the men. They were different from Qianye, and regardless of whether the 131st Company still existed, these soldiers would eventually have to return to the seventeenth corps. The truth of the matter, was not their burden to bear.

When he had made this decision, Qianye suddenly felt a sense of déjà vu, and he recalled a time long ago, after the Red Scorpions had just completed the mission to eliminate a bunch of turncoats, the team leader had told them a similar conclusion. But for some reason, this time, Qianye was a little reluctant to think of the Red Scorpions, and with that, he turned his thoughts away, choosing to enter secluded cultivation.

Maybe it was because he had taken too much fresh blood at Earth Castle, but even though the gold and purple blood energy had been consuming and absorbing this external blood these past two days, the blood energy inside of him still didn’t manage to fully settle. And ever since the blood energies that was ensconced in his heart grew from seven to nine, it had remained dormant for a long time.

As Qianye turned to examine his inner self carefully, he discovered that the blood energy had had a new transformation, and swimming out of his heart was not the nine streaks he expected, but only a single, much thicker streak of blood energy.

Qianye paused for quite a while before assuming that perhaps this was an advancement in his blood power. It strongly resembled that of the human martial arts—nine tiers to a level, nine cycles to a revolution, nine stages to a realm. Perhaps blood power was like this as well, and once the nine normal blood energies grew to a certain stage, they would coalesce into a single, greater blood energy. Previously, the normal blood energy was being constantly devoured by the gold and purple blood energies, and it could never reach nine, and hence never advance.

But, the thing was that as the gold and purple blood energies advanced in power, they would bring along a corresponding unique power. However, this advancement in the normal blood energy had not brought any significant changes, and Qianye only felt that his internal organs, especially his heart, were vaguely itchy, just like a wound in the final stage of recovery. He thought that it might still bring some qualitative improvements to his body, but overall, it was still far less than the rune power of the vampires’ natural constitution. Qianye thought that the differences in the bloodlines of the various vampire clans, might well originate from this.

Once he had settled the blood energy within himself, Qianye began to cultivate the Combatant Formula. He had already noticed that maybe, due to perhaps the aftereffects of sucking too much blood, or the lack of closure on this complex chain of events, that this time around his heart was disturbed, and his mood was unsettled. Hence, he had taken extra time to settle himself before inciting the origin power tides.

As the origin tide rushed past its thirtieth cycle, Qianye still felt as if he had strength left to give, and his body was still full with the blood energy. His innards, particularly his heart, seemingly strengthened once over, becoming yet stronger, and no matter how the origin tides battered at them, they were seemingly unharmed.

Thirty first, thirty second, and soon it was at the thirty fifth cycle, and the shock to Qianye’s organs felt like only the thirtieth wave. It was only when the thirty sixth cycle came roaring, did his internal organs finally begin to present signs of damage. At this point, Qianye moved his mind, and pulled the wave towards his fifth origin node, only for the barrier around it to collapse at the touch, easily igniting the origin node.

This time, his breakthrough was so incredibly easy that even Qianye himself felt a little taken aback.

Periapsis Day was at an end, and it was also the one night in which Gemini-α was closest to the Eternal Night Continent. Qianye laid down in the empty field, his arms tucked behind his head as he watched the moon that took up half of the sky with its light, as if he could just reach out to grasp it.

He had suddenly broken through to rank five, and instead of slowly grinding down and steadily igniting that origin node, indescribable frustrations beginning to roil inside of his chest. It was the first time where he didn’t want to continue training. He only wanted to maintain an inner peace inside of his mind, keeping it a pure white, as if it was only then that could he calm down.

In the distance, there was the sound of a tire squealing, and it stopped right outside of the 131st Company’s base. Once again, the night was silent, and there was no sound from the commanding officer inside of the guardhouse, nor were there troops coming over to report, as if that sound had merely been an illusion.

Qianye suddenly set himself upright as he turned to look. Ji Yuanjia walked out from the shadow of the building.

He looked at Qianye. “You’ve hit rank five?”

This was clearly not a normal way to start a conversation, but Qianye’s frustration simmered down. “Yes.”

It was as if the ten-odd days hadn’t existed, and the two of them were just peacefully making small talk.

Ji Yuanjia smiled. “Wanna have a go at it?” He seemed to be in the mood. His right arm slightly sagged, and a half foot long shortsword landed in his palm. Its origin power arrays lit up, lighting up the night like water reflecting the moon.

Qianye and Ji Yuanjia had battled each other before in the simulators in the Yin clan’s villa, and Ji Yuanjia had suppressed his origin power to the limit of rank four, the two of them battling it out with each other using only the military’s techniques, and it was a misnomer to call it a competition, more like an exhibition match.

Ji Yuanjia’s battle style hadn’t left much of an impression on Qianye, his maneuvers completely orthodox, a very careful, technical style, as if they had been replicated off of a textbook. The only thing that caused Qianye to go on alert was that this textbook style had actually fended off the vast majority of his attacks.

Qianye patted himself, only finding the army knife at his hips. Pulling it out, he held it out in front of himself.

“Ziing!” As if a piece of jade was being struck, the sword whistled out from Ji Yuanjia, and the blade was already an indistinct blur, the shimmer turning into a thousand specks of light as it softly fell like rain.

Qianye took a big step forward. The Combatant Formula instantly rushed past nine stages as he executed a straightforward punch. Within his body, the origin power swirled, superimposing one wave onto another, and just as the edge of his fist was about to contact the sheeting rain of sword light, the Combatant Formula, like a sudden wave, rolled over into the second set of nine tiers.

The two of them went all out right from the first blow.

At this point Ji Yuanjia’s sword hadn’t yet made contact. The sword intent folded itself into a giant, invisible net, covering the skies as it crashed down from above, and the sound of the sword sharpened to a million points, like the noise of a rainstorm. Qianye suddenly acutely felt that not only was that sword incredibly threatening, even the space around it screamed a warning in his head.

Qianye took action decisively. Refusing to back down, his fist drew an arc, as if a battlefield of soldiers had miraculously risen, given up their center and rushed toward their right flank before attacking once more. And at this point the Combatant Formula had rushed out well over twenty times, and the collected origin power hummed with a thunderous crash, as though a Fighter King was about to strike.

A thunderous boom echoed, and masked the sound of the rain.

The two men made contact, and then staggered back several steps before recovering their footing.

Ji Yuanjia reached to wipe away a thin trail of blood from the corner of his mouth, and smiled. “The strike of the Fighter King blows away a thousand men. Once it strikes, it is truly hard to shake.”

Qianye looked towards his right rib, where his uniform had been sliced open neatly. He mulled it a moment. “I lost.”

Had Ji Yuanjia truly meant him harm, that one sword stroke would have bled him. Furthermore, when he had reinforced his Combatant Formula to the twenty-sixth stage, it had been brought to a stop abruptly by Ji Yuanjia. It was just that Ji Yuanjia was almost breaking through to rank eight, while Qianye had only reached rank five today. That nearly three rank gap had almost been crossed and Ji Yuanjia had nearly had the worse for it. A Fighter King’s power was indeed indisputable.

“All those clan secret techniques can be broadly split into secret arts and combat techniques. Secret arts deal with the development and the cultivation of origin power, whereas the combat techniques cover all the variations of combat.”

Qianye quietly listened on. This was an unknown territory for him.

 

“For example, Ye Mulan’s secret art is called ‘Deep Frost’. If one was struck by her origin power, that bitter cold energy would infiltrate the body like tiny needles, incredibly hard to resist,” Ji Yuanjia smiled, “she was previously too loving of herself, refusing to take even a tiny injury, and so she let you finish the Fighter King’s stance. If she hadn’t run away from fighting you directly, and taken you head on, it would have been hard to say who would have won.”

Qianye knew that Ji Yuanjia was right and that he had been a fool about his own strength back then. He hadn’t immediately cleared out the invading frost energy and had already started to numb in pain later on. Had Ye Mulan not been defeated so quickly, that frost energy would have caused him an enormous amount of trouble.

How Ji Yuanjia had defeated him pointed out the weakness in the Combatant Formula, which was the time needed to build the origin tides to the thirtieth cycle. Of course, it was not just anyone that could use this method to break Qianye’s combatant formula. If he was another rank higher, Ji Yuanjia would not have dared to collide head-on with him like this.

What followed was a short silence.

“Captain Bao Zhengcheng is still alive, but his injuries are severe, and the medical support on the Eternal Night Continent cannot save him. We’ve already sent him up to a higher continent. The good thing is that after treatment, his abilities won’t be damaged, and when he returns to the Seventeenth Corps, he can resume his command. Other than that, three more have survived. I’m afraid that after treatment they will have to retire, but there is a hefty discharge fund.”

Qianye continued to listen quietly, his eyes watching Ji Yuanjia slowly turning icy cold.

Ji Yuanjia was seemingly unaware of this. “The 131st Company, as the frontline for this battle, has achieved great merits in the defense of Earth Castle. Hence, the deceased will not only get double the usual compensation, but the families of those who were NCOs and higher will also be allowed a single pass for the military school.”

Qianye said slowly, “This is the final decision made?”

Ji Yuanjia spoke. “This is the result of the military department’s report.”

“It seems like you already know what happened, but you don’t intend to tell me?”

“Whether I tell you or not, will depend on Miss Qiqi’s decision.”

Qianye furrowed his eyebrows. Without waiting for him to say a word, Ji Yuanjia retorted mildly. “Four days ago, the Miss knew that you and the 131st had appeared in the Dongling Mountain Area near Earth Castle, and forcibly moved the 60th Division overnight in a bid to reach there quickly.”

Qianye could not help but be stunned at the news. Calculating the times internally, he noticed that it was on that very night that he had been encircled.

“But on the path to Earth Castle, they ran into some of the higher-ranking vampires of the Monroe clan, and the losses were great. The Miss was also injured.”

The Monroes were an earth-shatteringly famous clan within the dark world. They were the first of thirteen vampire clans, and in the past several thousand years, they always had a Grand Prince. Their insignia was the legendary flower of terror, the Datura flower.

Qianye’s mind suddenly flashed to the pale gold Datura flower on Nighteye’s lapel that time, and his feelings were thrown into disarray. Up until now, all he had been seeing were these little puzzle pieces individually, and only as time went by was he able to slowly piece together an image. But instead of easing the frustration and confusion he felt, they only intensified them.

“So, even if you wish to stop this designated mission, you should go and see the Miss to explain yourself in person.”


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