Li Tianming could no longer feel his own throat from the burning sensation, and more importantly, his body was on the verge of blowing up.
The flames on his body flared up as muffled explosions shook his body, reaching three metres in height. As he was at the bottom of a lake, the water around him vaporised immediately, creating bubbles of steam that charged upwards.
“Since you are not afraid to die, I’ll follow along.” The little chick hopped onto his head and began to roost on his burning hair. Without hesitation, it chucked down the helios fruit and began to refine it with its infernalsource. Its infernalsource was in its stomach, which suited its nature as a sun-eating Aeternal Infernal Phoenix.
Li Tianming’s body worked differently. As a human, his spiritual energy was stored in his dantian, where his beast vein was. Even though they both had the Aeternal Infernal Body, there were bound to be differences between a man and a chicken. The little chick had unique abilities that made refining spiritual energy easy, while Li Tianming had easier access to spiritual energy through his dantian. Even if his infernalsource wasn’t as good at refining as the little chick’s, the stability of his dantian was able to balance out his power.
Since they were refining together, if Li Tianming could take the impact of the helios fruit, the little chick would surely have no problems with it. The fruit’s effect was the strongest at the first bite, the most stressful period for their Aeternal Infernal Physique. Once the first wave was over, the refining process would be a cinch; they were immune to fire after all.
During symbiotic cultivation, Li Tianming’s nine beast veins would connect with the nine in the little chick, forming a special connection between their infernalsources. Even if he didn’t have the Infernal Blaze, part of the spiritual energy from the helios fruit would be directed to the little chick through their beast veins. This would form a cycle, where the energy travelled from Li Tianming to Ying Huo, and then back to Li Tianming. This process was one of the benefits of symbiotic cultivation, and people called it the ‘symbiotic cycle’.
Through this symbiotic cycle, the duo refined the energy of the helios fruit with their Aeternal Infernal Codex. There was so much the fruit could offer, and generally beastmasters would need to refine them slowly to absorb its full benefit. Though it resulted in little waste, there was one problem: the process was too damn long.
Even though the two had eaten it without apparently giving it much thought, it was in fact an effective way of utilizing the full effects of the fruit. They just needed to withstand the first wave of destruction, and it would be smooth-sailing from then on.
Conflagrations were raging on their bodies now. The entire lake had boiled over within minutes, exposing the muddy lakebed. There wasn’t much to be said about the aquatic life that once thrived in it — all of them had perished long ago.
And yet, Li Tianming was safe. Even though he wasn’t as good at refining as the little chick, Ying Huo was handling seventy percent of the symbiotic cultivation process. As for the other thirty percent, he still had Jiang Feiling, his personal assistant. In her spiritual form, she could control the flow of spiritual energy in his body and reduce the damage to his innards.
It felt great, all things considered.
The little chick sighed loudly, as if the world was coming to an end. “I can’t help but feel violated when our infernalsources are connected, especially when energy is coming from you.”
“Screw off.” Li Tianming rolled his eyes. That was not unique to them, since all beastmasters in the world cultivated the same way with their beasts.
Their cultivation entered its final stage. Li Tianming did as much as he could, doing his best to take on the remaining thirty percent of the refinement process. Without him, the little chick would need a lot more time, but more importantly, Li Tianming would never let his brother venture into danger alone.
Many people in this world were unwilling to treat lifebound beasts as their brothers, with many even considering the lifebound beasts to be mere animals or mounts. Given that lifebound beasts had no intelligence when they were just born, they were heavily reliant on their beastmasters.
But Li Tianming was not one of those, and he considered Midas to be his real brother. Like real brothers, they cultivated together, battled together, and went through the ups and downs in life together. While the little chick did not grow up with him, the relationship between them could only be explained with the word ‘brotherhood’.
“Finally, fifth level Spiritsource.” A breakthrough followed once the fruit was fully refined. After absorbing the essence of the helios fruit, the duo’s infernalsource expanded once again. Before today, it was already eight times the size of an average spiritsource; it had grown even more today.
While it was true that they were just fifth level Spiritsource, they could even match those at eighth level when it came to beast ki and physical strength. And with the help of his ‘sidekick’, the adorable Jiang Feiling, overcoming ninth level opponents was no pipe dream. This breakthrough, made possible by a tiny fruit, had just reinforced his dominance in the trials!
“From what I heard, those attending the trials other than me are all eighth level Spiritsource. Ji Changyan’s supposed to be one of the stronger ones, and there’s no geniuses at Lin Xiaoting’s level within Torch Dragon or Aquamarine. In other words, we are invincible in the Abyssal Battlefield, and we should be able to secure the first place as long as we don’t receive a joint attack,” Li Tianming analysed, a small smile on his face.
“But the problem now is that the barrier is still shrinking, and we are still clueless to the rules of the Abyssal Trials. What does the Elysium exactly want? And Jiang Qingluan…”
Although the refining of the helios fruit took them only an hour, it was still a race against time. The more they dallied here, the more danger Jiang Qingluan would be in.
“What’s so special about this lake, and why would the helios fruit grow here?” Li Tianming dug up the lakebed once more, but learnt nothing new.
There was no time for them to waste, and more importantly, the Heavenly Pattern Barrier was closing in on them. In the next ten minutes or so, this lake would be outside of the barrier.
“Let’s go.” Li Tianming, together with Jiang Feiling and the little chick, left the lake.
“Do you reckon we will find anything if we walk along the sides of the barrier?” Normally speaking, the contestants would be kept on the move due to the barrier. Perhaps they could run into those who happened to be at the border of the barrier.
It was also quite a safe option for them to stand right beside the barrier. Should they encounter any danger, they could choose to just run into it, and the barrier would teleport them to a random area within its radius.
Day eighteen of the Abyssal Trials.
“Look, there’s someone fighting in front!” They hadn’t seen anyone for a long time.
They were still a distance away, so Li Tianming leapt up into the air with the help of the Celestial Wings, and flew towards the direction of the battle.
“YEE-HAW!” While they were in mid-air, Ying Huo spread its wings out, enjoying the breeze as it sat on its head.
Li Tianming couldn’t help but feel ashamed. As a rule of thumb, beastmasters rode their beasts, but for him... he didn’t want to think about it anymore than was necessary.
“If you weren’t a Primordial Chaos Beast, I’d have stir-fried you long ago. I await the day you gain some more meat after you evolve…” Li Tianming hissed.
He looked forward to the day when he could actually mount the little chick, since that would be the day it returned as the real Aeternal Infernal Phoenix. How strong would he be by then? Would he become the strongest person in the entire continent? Li Tianming had no idea.
They flew over hills and lakes along the border of the Heavenly Pattern Barrier, until they finally arrived at the scene of battle. There were two pairs of masters and beasts fighting, and one of them was none other than the Guardian of Merits’ disciple, Mo Lin! His lifebound beast was the low-tier seven-star Tempest Ink Butterfly, a wind-wood type bug beast. It was a very special creature, and possessed many unique techniques that defied its weak-looking appearance. Those were the techniques that earned him a place right behind Lin Xiaoting on the leaderboard. As a dual-type lifebound beast, not only could its wings summon the power of the wind, but it could also manifest the power of nature. This was demonstrated from the black veins growing out from the ground, something that looked right at home in an ink painting.
Mo Lin’s weapon was an ink pen, each stroke carrying a lethal threat. Like Li Tianming’s chainblade, it was quite an uncommon weapon. Li Tianming didn’t know much about weapon trends in Flameyellow Continent, but in Vermilion Bird, the longsword ruled the charts.
As proof of his words, the girl Mo Lin was fighting was using longswords. In fact, she held one in each of her hands, her fighting style employing each sword separately. By the looks of it, the battle hadn’t lasted for a long time, but the girl was already overwhelming Mo Lin. Lethal cuts lined his body, which was already soaked with blood. Even his Tempest Ink Butterfly’s wings were already torn and tattered.
The girl was no doubt aiming to kill!
Everyone was at eighth level Spiritsource, so Li Tianming couldn’t quite figure out why she was so overwhelming. His eyes drifted over to the dragon-esque beast beside her. Was it due to that beast?