Ji Tianqing waited for an entire ten minutes before kicking the man again, relieving him of his agony.
The man was drenched in sweat and utterly exhausted. He wanted to speak, but Ji Tianqing stopped him. “Wait, I’ll give you ten more minutes. Think carefully about what you have to say.”
The man was apparently frightened, having picked up the threat in Ji Tianqing’s words.
Qianye asked, “What’s wrong with him?”
“Since they’re also from the empire, don’t you think it’s odd that they don’t even recognize you?” Ji Tianqing asked.
Qianye didn’t really feel that he was famous, but something was definitely fishy because Ji Tianqing sounded serious, and Li Kuanglan looked quite pensive as well.
The latter said, “Are they survivors from the last batch?”
“I’ve checked the survivors’ list but never saw them.”
“If they’re not alive, maybe they’re one of those ‘dead’ people?”
Ji Tianqing nodded. “Quite likely. I want to hear what they experienced after their ‘death’.”
The man’s expression became increasingly ashen.
Ji Tianqing crouched down beside him. “Do you know what you should say now? Go ahead.”
The man looked like he wanted to say something, but he was hesitant.
Ji Tianqing said calmly, “It’s almost sundown. Although the frigid night here is nothing compared to the inside, we still don’t want any trouble. I’ll throw you inside if you don’t speak, assuming you know what I’m talking about.”
“You know about ‘inside’?” The man gasped.
“Of course, we just returned from the area with ten times the gravity.”
The man’s eyes went wide in shock. “Impossible! No one can get there, those who go there never return!”
“You guys were trying to go to the core region for this, right?” A white fruit popped up in Ji Tianqing’s hand.
The man’s eyes almost dropped out of their sockets. “H-Holy fruit! Such a big one, too! You guys have really been to the holy region!”
“Holy region?” Ji Tianqing grasped the keyword.
The man eventually calmed down. “The holy region is how the higher-ups call the central realm. Since you guys have obtained a holy fruit, it means you’ve seen them… those people with multiple arms.”
“Who are you?”
“Me? I’m probably listed as dead in the Empire.” The man laughed wryly. He collected his thoughts and said, “My surname is Nangong and my given name is Tianyu. I’ve been in the Great Maelstrom… twenty-some years now.”
Ji Tianqing and Li Kuanglan looked surprised. Twenty years wasn’t a short period of time. According to imperial records, people would feel all kinds of discomfort after five years inside the Great Maelstrom as the body becomes affected by the environment. The higher one’s cultivation, the more blunted these effects would be, but no genius could survive over ten years inside. Experts who don’t reappear after ten years would be recorded as lost and considered dead.
Nangong Tianyu being able to survive here for two decades was quite a miracle.
He continued, “I hail from a side branch of the Nangong family. I fought with my life on the line to get a quota for the Great Maelstrom, thinking it would be a fortunate turn in life. Who would’ve thought there would be so much dissent inside? I was sent on a mission to explore the deeper regions before I had acclimated to the environment. It was during that mission that my squad was ambushed and scattered. With several wild beasts on my tail, I could only run deeper and deeper inside. In the end, I accidentally arrived in the central region and fell into native captivity.”
“Then? I don’t know whether it was fortunate or otherwise, I actually survived. They kept me alive and recruited me into a two-armed group to serve as patrol and as a mating instrument. Fortunately, my foundations were strong enough to survive the endless mating and hold out until my body started to transform. It’s hard to say whether or not I’m totally human.”
Ji Tianqing pondered for a moment. “Take off your clothes and let us see the changes.”
Nangong Tianyu had long since lost all will to resist. He undressed silently and stood before the three.
Having fought in numerous battles, neither Ji Tianqing nor Li Kuanglan cared about this bit of awkwardness. They channeled their secret arts to scan Nangong Tianyu’s body.
The man was on the slimmer side, but his skeleton was exceedingly sturdy and dense. He was twice as powerful as ordinary experts in terms of bone density. Ji Tianqing managed to stomp him into the ground, but none of his bones broke from the impact. His bones were surrounded by steely muscles—this type of body was far superior to that of Imperial experts, and more or less equal to the four-armed natives.
Qianye didn’t find it too surprising, but the other two were secretly surprised. As people familiar with the Imperial nobility, they knew they had never heard of someone called Nangong Tianyu. This meant that he was just an ordinary expert back then, at least nowhere near a genius by Ji Tianqing’s standards. He was probably at the bottom of the list among those entering the Great Maelstrom.
His current physical prowess, however, would place him among the top tier geniuses.
It was when Nangong Tianyu turned around that his true difference from ordinary humans was revealed. There was a row of finger-sized bone spikes poking out along his back and spine. The appendages were of an ashen hue and as hard as steel. This type of natural defense was common in wild beasts, but it was quite extraordinary to see in humans.
Additionally, there were also a number of bone spurs on his elbows and ankles.
Qianye arrived beside him and patted him lightly on the shoulders. The reverberations produced therein allowed him to understand most of Nangong Tianyu’s internal structure.
There were small bone spurs growing out from most of the man’s bones. They didn’t quite poke out of the skin, but they would cause hidden damage to an external attacker. What surprised Qianye most was his innards.
Nangong Tianyu’s heart was exceptionally large, almost taking up most of his chest, but his lungs were much smaller than ordinary people. The other organs were all piled up in a chaotic mess inside his body cavity. His blood vessels weaved together tortuously like a dense network of spiderwebs. The man should be considered quite fortunate that this confused growth hadn’t killed him yet.
Qianye explained the internal state of Nangong Tianyu’s body to the two girls before heading over to inspect the other man’s corpse. This body was also in a similar state, but the distribution and position of internal organs were somewhat different. This went to show that he had also been affected by the Great Maelstrom.
Ji Tianqing asked more detailed questions, which Nangong Tianyu replied honestly.
It turned out that he had joined the ranks of the two-armed people after being captured. After surviving the initial phase, he eventually became one of them. As his body started to change, he started to adapt to the world and began edging toward the central region.
Twenty years had gone by since then. Nangong Tianyu had learned a bit of the native language and knew a fair bit of shocking inside information.
Among the natives, being four-armed wasn’t an inherited trait. Both two-armed and four-armed people could give birth to a four-armed descendant. It was just that the two-armed people had a somewhat smaller chance of doing so. The natives had a clear hierarchy to them, with the two arms serving as slaves and cannon-fodder, while the four-arms served as warriors and officers, the main fighting power of the tribe.
The surprising thing was that the natives followed a matriarchal structure. The four-armed women were the rulers of the stone castles and not the male warriors. The four-armed women were the biggest producers of four-armed offspring, and the one who gave birth to the most four-armed males would be the queen of the stone castle. Because of their ability to produce white mist, no creature could resist their whims and everyone in sight could become a tool for reproduction.
Nangong Tianyu was also one of those mating tools. It was just that his eventual transformation and original combat abilities made him stronger than the other two-armed people. Hence, he was promoted to a special rank between the two-arms and four-arms. He was told that he might grow an extra pair of arms if he were to drink the white-fruit wine regularly.
The two-armed people were of complicated origins. There was no shortage of people like Nangong Tianyu among them, and it wasn’t just humans—many other Evernight races had also fallen into native captivity. Nangong Tianyu and the other two companions were all from the same stone keep.
Qianye’s group hadn’t seen people like them in the high-gravity region because they simply couldn’t survive there. Without the holy fruit, even the natives would have difficulty getting through the nights.
While Ji Tianqing was continuing her interrogation, that woman from before appeared from the forest. This time, there was a demonkin and an arachne with her.
The woman pointed at Qianye. “It’s them! They stole my treasure.”
The demonkin and arachne glanced at the Silk Lotus, but they didn’t quite know what it was used for. “What is that thing?”
The woman looked somewhat distracted. “Whatever it is, it’s definitely a good treasure.”
The demonkin pondered while sizing up the three from head to toe. Treasures weren’t useful for everyone—some of them might be supreme assets for the humans but trash for the dark races. Qianye and the others looked quite difficult to deal with, and it probably wasn’t too wise to get into a big fight for something so unsure.
The woman seemed more anxious now. “Your Excellency, if you take them down… I… I’ll give myself to you. I’ll also introduce you to the holy race.”
“Holy race?” The demonkin was moved.
“They have spatial gear on them!” The woman steeled her heart and blurted out the biggest secret.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Legion ED: Moxie