Chapter 32: Assailing the Middle Stage (4)
Deputy Branchmaster Qi shut his eyes. In an instant, his heart had simply ascended to the heavens and then sunk to the depths of hell.
To do? Or not to do?
Time was like a millstone, grinding down upon his conscience and heart. As one who had just recently become a Foundation Establishment cultivator, he didn’t have many bargaining chips to refuse a genuine high official who stood at the Chinese government’s summit. Especially with this secondary supreme-grade spirit stone… In his pocket, it burned like a flame, one of the few things on his conscience.
A minute… two minutes… three minutes passed on by.
Four minutes… On the sixth minute, he suddenly opened his eyes and quickly stepped in front of the monitor. His face was heavy like water as he pressed down on a button.
Chu Tianyi sat down. He held a porcelain teacup in his right hand and slowly sipped it. “Good tea.”
Inside his stone room, Xu Yangyi’s entire state of mind was completely set above on his qi sea! He could clearly feel… the sharpness of qi, the gradual expansion of his qi sea, and the subsequent strengthening of his body. Even if he couldn’t feel it now, it seemed as if he could sense it. After his breakthrough, everything would be different!
The critical juncture had already arrived. The worldly qi had given rise to a kind of phenomenon known as “Qi Pours into the Body”. He clearly understood that his “Qi Pours into the Body” would soon come to an end. As his body’s power became greater and greater, he quickly sensed that he had touched upon a membrane.
An incorporeal membrane established in his qi sea’s surroundings, like a turned-over bowl. This barrier seemed as if it had been stood here forever, but he had just now discovered it. He knew that this was his “bodily limiter”. An obstacle hindering him from entering the next boundary! He would cleave through it in an explosion!
Presently, he held absolute faith! The entire world seemed to take shape and conform to him. He only needed to mobilize the endless origin of spiritual force to burst through this unseen barrier! That would be the moment he stepped into the next minor boundary! Only then would he dare say that in this battle royale of thirteen champions he was in the clear!
His spiritual sense condensed into an image of his person. Without the slightest hesitation, he roared with all of his strength, carrying a matchless excitement to pierce the heavens with a single blow! It was a nameless move, only an instinctual strike, yet all essences of his vitality, spirit, and mind converged! At this moment, these three aspects were one!
Bang! A heavy sound boomed. A great ripple emerged in the sky, and the entire world of his qi sea seemed to tremble. The tiny man that Xu Yangyi had condensed with his spiritual sense had a sudden change in complexion. At this stitch of time, he felt… that the spiritual force, the spiritual force convergence from the outside world, seemed to have abruptly weakened?
A hundred percent of his force had been expensed, yet as he struck the membrane there was only sixty percent! Xu Yangyi simply didn’t possess the skill to discern whether or not it was an error of perception. Within his mind, there was only a single word.
Charge! Charge past this heavenly trench!
He clenched his fist, tucked his stomach, and twisted his waist. From head to toe, every single drop of spiritual sense congealed in his fist. With the maximum execution of all his strength, he brandished his fist again! But at this split second, in this twinkling moment, just as he reared his fist… the world seemed to slow.
His lips thinned into a tight line. As if he was in slow motion, he looked at his spiritual sense that had enclosed his qi. On his fist that rumbled forth, a white ray of light began to slowly drift away, returning from whence it came. Along with a smoky tail, the ray rushed back into the mirror that was his qi sea with a whistle.
Subsequently, there was a second light and third light… The flocking rays of light that had arrived before were now like a tide, frantically evacuating from his entire body like a torrent of mercury! Above his qi sea, the qi, which he’d condensed into a tiny person with his spiritual sense, left him with every fiber of its being like it had evaporated!
The pouring of qi into the body was the aid of qi from the world for new cultivators to break through the bodily limiter. This was because one was utterly incapable of relying on themselves to shatter the bodily limiter at initial-stage Qi Condensation. In a similar vein, Xu Yangyi couldn’t as well.
In the outside world, his closed eyelids twitched yet didn’t open. He was unreconciled in his last-ditch attempt. Within his qi sea, his spiritual-sense avatar was like a sharp arrow. There simply wasn’t more to say. It was a race against the second hand of the clock, and his fists rained down upon the membrane with a rumbling crash.
He tightly pursed his lips, and he felt the abundant strength within his body swiftly dissipate. A tremendous feeling of hollowness appeared within his qi sea. In order to force down this unsightly response, he bit down on his tongue without the least bit hesitation.
A trace of blood spilled over. Within his qi sea, his spiritual-sense avatar yelled out a heaven-shaking snarl. Drumming up a final breath, he used the limit of his entire strength to attack the barrier! There was no shouting, only a stifled breath carrying a peerless hope and determination!
Boom… A heavy noise thundered. This time, very minor ripples slowly wafted in the “sky”.
A trace of supremely enduring pain flitted across the face of his avatar. Someone had severed the connection between heaven and earth in the Unrivaled Beneath the Heavens Arena… Someone didn’t want him to break through.
At this instance, his qi sea was without wind, yet it was pervaded by a torrential surge of tangible killing intent! Right before the door… He was right before it… Only a step away! He would’ve entered the middle stage of Qi Condensation! However, while his spirit was strong, his flesh was unwilling. 
It was quiet, a calm of deathly stillness, as if the whistling of qi billowing from the misty qi-sea under his feet could be heard. He shut his eyes, and his chest heaved up and down somewhat violently. Clenching his fist to the side of his mouth, his gaze was cold like glacial ice. Suddenly, he used a 120% of his strength to fiercely pound his qi sea!
There were no rolling tides nor were there jade currents given birth to. There was only powerless qi that suddenly frenzied like an infinitely long serpent. He stood up in his billowing qi sea like a god of murder striding out from the tide.
In the outside world, there were no words, and he calmly opened his eyes. Yet at this moment, if an acquaintance of his was here—no, regardless of acquaintance or not—they wouldn’t dare to approach.
Xu Yangyi’s killing intent spilled out. A kind of serene depression came forth, but as it rushed out for the first time it broke away as it was born. His body was obviously telling him that it was okay, yet this sense of being forcibly severed from heaven and earth made his eyes droop half-lidded, making it unknown what he was thinking.
He calmly disengaged from his Innersight.
Half an hour passed, one hour passed, and he said nothing. He didn’t shout nor did he moreover destroy objects in a rage. Instead, he took out a cigarette, and inhaled aftering lighting it. He dragged in each puff of smoke quite slowly as if he was enjoying it, yet he didn’t puff out.
“Still too much, huh…” At the same time, Deputy Branchmaster Qi retracted his hand, and softly sighed in relief. “The first assault on a minor boundary is the establishment of confidence. To cultivators, mental construction is especially important. Without a staunch heart, one simply can’t endure long periods of cultivation…”
“Ruined is ruined.” Chu Tianyi caressed his teacup lid and said insipidly, “China doesn’t need that many; it’s just one person. But…” He brushed an eye over Deputy Branchmaster Qi with a smile that wasn’t a smile, carrying a somewhat mocking tinge. “Deputy Branchmaster Qi, you declined as you took direct and efficient action. It really does make me sigh in amazement…”
Deputy Branchmaster Qi reclined back in his chair and gazed at the ceiling. It wasn’t until after a long time did he laugh. “To accept another’s wealth is to aid them in vanquishing their misfortunes.” 
In the Unrivaled Beneath the Heavens Arena, the endless chaos of qi had already come to a complete stop. It was like nothing had just occurred. Everyone outside the room looked at each other in dismay. They were entirely unsure how to explain the present situation.
They could feel qi as well. It was no different than breathing to cultivators. All of a sudden in the sky, qi had become no more. Anyone could sense this. The qi was thin, or perhaps it wasn’t as robust as before when it was constant in presence. It had suddenly went scarce in such a critical moment… No, it had ceased to be. In their hearts, everyone clearly understood.
“Tsk…” A student shook his head. “Isn’t this person weird? Who graduated from the same branch as him? Who did he piss off to cause this?”
No one responded.
“He’s gone crazy, right? He’s not even opening the door.” A short youth sneered and looked at the door. “Why? Is he scared? Embarrassed? We’re not going to poke fun at him, hehe… Isn’t this a failed breakthrough?”
Humans were odd like this. If the same thing happened to themselves, they would howl at the heavens and pound the earth in sorrow. If it happened to someone else, especially a person that they deemed to be more outstanding than themselves in the past, they would hold mocking attitudes, far from placing themselves in the other’s shoes. In particular if the victim wasn’t in front of them. Such a mind set was known as “following the herd”.
Even if they were unaware of the Qualifier, they knew there would definitely be some other ranking method. When had modern society ever gone without rankings? Even in achievement awards there were rankings. Let alone the cultivation world? They merely had no way of anticipating that they would have to use their fists to dispute who was at the top through the way of true blades and real spears.
The time before the Qualifier made each person dread the consequences of losing a tenth of qi from a failed breakthrough. In the hearts of a great majority of people, this pleasure had come too late. What time did they still have left to care about understanding Xu Yangyi’s thoughts? Who the hell was he?
The stone door didn’t open again. It seemed Xu Yangyi was planning on locking himself inside.
“What a bother… Forget about it, I’m out. There’s nothing good to see.” A youth yawned and lazily left to go back to his room.
“I still want to see if he’ll come out crazy, and kill his way to the branch to get to the bottom of this. Afterwards, he’ll be killed in a slap. How could he be so cowardly?” The short youth spat and shrugged his shoulders. “I’m done. Maybe it’s Heavens Law’s preinstalled mechanism? The Unrivaled Beneath the Heavens Arena doesn’t permit breaking through? Hehe!”
The crowd scattered one after another. Ten minutes later, only Chu Zhaonan was left. He crossed his arms across his chest, and looked at the stone door coldly. Perhaps the others believed Xu Yangyi would continue to be dispirited, but he didn’t believe it at all.
On the airplane, he had wanted Xu Yangyi to scram, but the other only laughed, setting his bag down and sending a kick flying without a second word. This was a man extremely confident against him. A person just like him...
If he’d encountered something like this, what would he have done? He would kill… but he absolutely wouldn’t be dejected! These were the first three words that popped up in his mind. His gaze flickered as if he’d suddenly understood the other’s intentions.
Xu Yangyi… It wasn’t that he dared not come out, but rather he was afraid he would release the feral beast within his heart. The arena… Perhaps it would be dyed red in blood!
“Is he calming the beast in his heart…?” Chu Zhaonan wasn’t frightened. On the contrary, he licked his lips in excitement, his gaze like fire. “Yes… we’re the same. It’s obvious that someone is targeting you. Are you waiting… until the Qualifier?”
“That’ll be the real time to unleash a massacre…” He grinded his teeth ferociously as if he had touched upon Xu Yangyi’s line of thought!
Xu Yangyi didn’t know who was targeting him. Since he was unaware, then he might as well kill each and every person! It couldn’t be a covert struggle… So he would wait… like a stalking lion, wai for the next ten-odd hours. Then, he could legitimately and openly engage in an opportunity of wanton slaughter!
Targeted from the darkness? It was of no consequence.
No matter who it was, the person who was targeting him would definitely be on this arena! As long as both his fists endured to strike, he would beat his opponents to a bloody pulp, break them so that they would never dare to take such an action for all eternity! Pummel them so that they would flee upon seeing him in the future! Shatter them into pieces so that even if they one day attained Core Formation, they would remember the Qi Condensation Xu Yangyi.
That was an idea he clearly understood.
“Self-confidence must be unyielding like the strength of the Great Wall…” Chu Zhaonan clenched his fists mercilessly, making cracking noises. “so I’ll be waiting for you to reveal your strength!”
1. 有心杀贼，无力回天 - I translated this as his spirit was strong, but his flesh was unwilling. Literal meaning: He had the heart to kill the thief, but was powerless to overturn the situation. I think it works.
2. 拿人钱财，与人消灾罢了. This is the second time I have ever read this line in my translating stint. I think I did a better job translating it this time though. Meaning is to take another person’s money to do something, most often a shady affair.