“In that case, his life is yours,” Pi Yan told Pi Batian.
“Yes, Father,” Pi Batian replied respectfully. Then, he motioned to his henchmen. “Send him to the secret prison.”
“Father!” Pi Yang stood up, his arms crossed. “I was the one who caught that dark robe! Why is he being given to Brother?”
“He’s too wild for you to tame,” Pi Yan replied. “You can have the girl.”
Two of Pi Batian’s men escorted him to a secret prison, one whose location he hadn’t discovered even after all his efforts.
“Li Mo, is that you?”
He awoke to a familiar voice by his ear. When Li Mo opened his eyes, he saw that the man stooping by his side was none other than Qin Feng, whom he had been looking for for so long.
“Qin Feng,” Li Mo called out, then coughed twice.
“Ah, you’ve been hurt?” Qin Feng helped support Li Mo as he sat up and leaned by the wall.
“It’s not a major injury,” Li Mo replied. “As expected, Pi Yan’s cultivation is far more advanced than mine, and I wasn’t even to give him a glancing blow. Luckily, he wasn’t trying to kill me—” Li Mo coughed again, and the iron tang of blood filled his mouth. Although Pi Yan wasn’t trying to kill him, he had given Li Mo a serious injury. His spatial ring had been taken away, and without any spiritual pills, it would take him an extended period of time to recover from the injury.
“At least I’ve found you. I’m sure we’ll be able to find an opportunity to escape,” Li Mo said. He glanced all around him, inspecting his surroundings. As expected, this was a prison that Li Mo hadn’t discovered during his time here.
“It’s right underneath Pi Batian’s rooms,” Qin Feng explained, “but he rarely comes down here. In general, the only visitors we get are people bringing food over, and that only once every three or four days.”
To Li Mo, who was able to nourish himself with spiritual energy, eating only once every three or four days wasn’t a big deal. For Qin Feng, however, it meant that he would be hungry all the time, without even the energy to cultivate.
Li Mo’s gaze landed on the body of a man, so silent and so without presence that he seemed no more than a corpse.
“Who’s he?” Li Mo asked.
“I don’t know,” Qin Feng replied. “I thought he was a corpse when I first saw him. He never moves unless there’s food around, in which case he’ll eat and then lie down again without saying a word. I expect he’s also a prisoner like us.”
Li Mo nodded and shifted his gaze away from the man.
“Li Mo, why are you alone?” Qin Feng asked. “Where’s Yun Ruoyan and Zhuo Yifeng? Didn’t they come with you?”
“They did. Thirty students came in all, but we were all separated,” Li Mo explained. “The two of us are the only ones in this manor, as well as a female student called Lin Qingchen.”
Qin Feng sighed and was about to continue speaking when he heard a quiet mumbling from the distance. He glanced at Li Mo; together, they turned to the source of the voice, the man who almost seemed to be dead.
The mumbling grew louder and louder. Perhaps because the man hadn’t spoken for so long, he sounded unusually hoarse, but Li Mo could still make out his words. “Lin Qingchen, Yun Ruoyan, Lin Qingchen, Yun Ruoyan…”
Li Mo frowned. “Do you know of Lin Qingchen and Yun Ruoyan?”
It was quite a while before the voice responded. “Yes… I… do…!”
“Who are you?”
The seemingly dead man finally began to move. He arduously sat up against the wall. His face was covered by white, straggly hair, and it was impossible to make out his appearance.
Qin Feng walked over and helped him up so he could face Li Mo, but even that seemed to take an inordinate amount of effort from him.
“I’m… the eldest son of the Lin family… Lin Zainan’s son… Lin Tianming.”
“You’re Lin Tianming?!” Li Mo exclaimed in shock. Li Mo had once sent people to investigate the Lin family, so he naturally knew about the unusual disappearance of Lin Zainan’s two sons. However, he hadn’t at all expected that they would suddenly reappear in this otherworld prison.
“That’s… me.” The man parted his hair and finally revealed his face. It was pale white and bloodless, but his features looked as though they were once handsome. He bore an uncanny resemblance to Lin Zainan. “Lin Qingchen is… my daughter,” Lin Tianming continued. “Yun Ruoyan’s my niece.”
Lin Tianming leaned back against the wall, his face even paler than before. Long periods of imprisonment had turned this man into a shadow of his former self.
“Senior, you have a brother, don’t you? Where is he?” Li Mo finally asked.
“He’s dead.” Lin Tianming’s response validated Li Mo’s guess. He pointed at the corner of the wall next to which he had been lying. “He died right there, and his corpse remains buried there to this very day.”
Lin Tianming closed his eyes, his breathing turning unusually weak, almost as though he had died.
“He’s gone into a state of suspended animation,” Qin Feng exclaimed. “This must be how he’s survived the imprisonment for so long.”
To force himself to survive under these circumstances required an unusually strong will: either he had a bone-deep desire for revenge, or he had an obligation to fulfill, one so important he had to dedicate his life to it. Was Lin Tianming the former, the latter, or both?
Yun Ruoyan sat cross-legged and cultivated in the wilderness for an entire day and night. When she next opened her eyes, two sparks of light flashed through her eyes. She closed them once more and felt at her spiritual vortex, which had grown half again in size, with shock and anticipation. In a single day, studying the demonic dragon’s art had advanced her cultivation from early eighth rank to early ninth rank.
Yun Ruoyan stood up and walked to the side of the long-faced guard, then began absorbing the spiritual energy that spilled out of his corpse. She took his fire-attuned sword, as well as his fire-attuned spear. Both of them were mid-grade spiritual weapons, unimpressive compared to the Scarlet Eye, but useful and powerful in their own right.
Yun Ruoyan then retrieved the spatial ring that he possessed. There were quite a few spiritual pills inside, as well as a spirit crystal the size of an egg. However, this crystal was pale yellow in hue, and it contained far less spiritual energy than A Fei’s pure white spirit crystal.
As such, Yun Ruoyan judged that spirit crystals were likewise separated into grades, and A Fei’s spirit crystal was certainly higher in quality.
Yun Ruoyan also discovered a coin pouch in the ring, filled with all sorts of small, gray-white stones. Each of them shone weakly with spiritual energy; these were the lowest-grade spiritual crystals, often used as money.
Yun Ruoyan burnt his corpse to cinders, then set off in the direction of the prisoners’ wagons. She caught up to the procession about half a day before they arrived at their destination. Given the time constraints, she didn’t have the luxury of waiting for an opportunity to strike; instead, she stood at the front of the path, blocking the wagons’ way forward.
“Where did you come from, brat? You dare block the way of carriages from the Pi family?” one swordsman cried out threateningly as he walked out from the procession.
Yun Ruoyan was wearing the long-faced guard’s clothes; her own uniform was too bloodied to be presentable. His clothes were far too large for her, causing Yun Ruoyan to look like a child in comparison. It was little wonder that the guard would consider her a brat.
Rather than responding, however, Yun Ruoyan flew over on her newly acquired spiritual sword as she attacked the man with the Scarlet Eye. The man’s cultivation was about the same as her own, but Yun Ruoyan had the lead and the weapon advantage.
The swordsman, unable to deal with the onslaught, finally made a critical mistake that allowed Yun Ruoyan to pierce his heart, killing him instantly. The remaining three swordsmen hadn’t taken Yun Ruoyan seriously at first, but when one of their comrades died, they immediately surrounded her at once and attacked.
With the Scarlet Eye, she believed that she stood a good chance even if she had to fight three blademasters with the same cultivation at her at the same time.
“Are you going to attack me together or one by one?” Yun Ruoyan taunted.
The three swordsmen glanced at each other, somewhat confused. They could tell that Yun Ruoyan was, just like them, a ninth-rank blademaster, so what was it that made her so confident? Because they had just seen a comrade die in front of their eyes, however, they didn’t dare to belittle her.
“We’ll charge together!” the three swordsmen bellowed at the same time. Yun Ruoyan blocked two of the attacks with her Scarlet Eye, but the third man’s blade left a shallow cut on Yun Ruoyan’s wrist. Rather surprisingly, the wound healed almost instantly.
As I expected… Yun Ruoyan thought. The demonic dragon aura that the demonic eye had left in Yun Ruoyan’s body would both allow her to advance in her study of the demonic dragon’s art, empowering her attacks beyond those of a normal cultivator at her level, and provide rapid, near-instantaneous healing.
Instead of prioritizing defense, she focused all her energy on attacking the three swordsmen. She allowed blows to land on her body; in turn, she attacked the men even more viciously. However, whereas Yun Ruoyan could heal rapidly, the same couldn’t be said for the three men. After exchanging two blows with each man, the three men were all at least somewhat injured, whereas Yun Ruoyan quickly returned to perfect health. By the fourth blow, Yun Ruoyan had killed two of the swordsmen. Finally, during the fifth blow, the final swordsman died in despair.Previous Chapter Next Chapter