Yang Qi recognized this young woman at first sight.
‘Aunt Susu is finally here.’
He couldn’t suppress the excitement that sparked deep in his heart. Although she looked completely different from the way she had in the past, she still reminded him of that little girl who had helped him eat his meals as a child. She seemed extraordinary beyond belief, but there was still something about her that was exactly the same as before.
Looking Ouyang Hu square in the eye, she said, “Someone the Crown Prince took a liking to? You mean that Yun Hailan? Am I supposed to be impressed? Who cares if she's using her connections to try to intimidate people? That doesn’t change the fact that you plotted against my family. Well, I don’t need your life. Just be on your way, and leave behind one of your arms as you go.”
“What?” Ouyang Hu blurted, his face falling. “How dare you, Yang Susu! We're both in the College of Elite Students! Would you really attack me so viciously? Aren’t you afraid of the institute punishing you? If not, then just go ahead, attack me. I’ll make sure you understand what regret really is!”
“Cut the crap. Off with your arm!” Suddenly, Yang Susu drew her sword and then unleashed an eerie beam of sword energy that bore down mercilessly toward his right shoulder. There was no doubt about whether or not she intended to sever his arm.
Snarling with teeth bared, Ouyang Hu thrust out his right hand, which swirled with true energy until it looked like a tiger claw. This was a move from his Beast King Energy Art, Tiger Roars at the Heavens.
More true energy rippled out as images of tigers, leopards, jackals, wolves, snakes, vultures, eagles and bears sprang into being behind him.
He was using this one palm strike to try to deal with the incoming sword energy.
However, Yang Susu’s sword energy contained infinite variations. As it sped forward, a field of ice and a field of fire sprang up in front of it, the ice energy cold enough to seal everything within five hundred kilometers, and the fire hot enough to ignite anything.
The two energy fields merged into each other like yin and yang.
This was the ultimate expression of this sword technique of Yang Susu’s, a fire and ice taiji symbol.
“The immaterial universe beheads ghosts. Yin and yang expel gods. Supreme ultimate truth! Alright, Ouyang Hu, why don’t you try out the new technique I just finished cultivating, the Ghost-Beheading God-Expelling Godsword!”
Sword energy sliced through the air with seemingly boundless sharpness.
The fire and ice taiji symbol smashed into the Beast King Energy Art, and Ouyang Hu immediately staggered backward, blood spraying out of his mouth.
Although Ouyang Hu was also a Lifeseizer, he had only recently achieved his breakthrough, and had not yet fully stabilized his true energy. In fact, he was roughly at the same level as Chu Tiange, from what Yang Qi could tell.
And yet, as the saying goes, a centipede does not stop wriggling even after being stomped on. Despite having his Beast King Energy Art vanquished by Yang Susu, Ouyang Hu wasn’t ready to give up. Suddenly, Humanoid True Energy sprang out from him and sped directly toward Yang Qi.
It was a very strange manifestation; it was fully nine meters tall, covered with fur, with a head that resembled a tiger. It was apparently some sort of beast god, and it didn't hesitate at all to rush toward Yang Qi in terrifying fashion.
Smiling viciously, Ouyang Hu said, “Stop right there, Yang Susu! If you make another move, I’ll kill your nephew! This Humanoid True Energy is straight from my Beast King Energy Art. True Incarnation of the Tiger King!”
“How dare you!” Yang Susu said, preparing to change the direction of her sword energy to try to save Yang Qi. However, that was when she heard Yang Qi sigh.
“Don’t worry about me, Aunt Susu. You handle this Ouyang Hu. I can take care of his puny Humanoid True Energy on my own.”
Even as the words left his mouth, he reached out with his hands, causing an energy field to spring out that looked like a whirlpool of stars. “Invincible King’s Fist. Six stances combined.”
The tiger-headed Humanoid True Energy was sucked into the whirlpool, then let out an agonized shriek as it was torn to pieces. The resulting scraps of true energy were then absorbed into Yang Qi’s meridians, and sent to the embryonic Hellfire Crucible in his sea of energy.
Usually, heterogeneous true energy would act like poison if someone absorbed it. In fact, the first thing a normal person would try to do would be to expel it lest it inflict dangerous harm.
But now that Yang Qi was a Master of Energy, and had fully absorbed the life force quintessence of the lightning mammoth, he had his embryonic Hellfire Crucible. Already, it could melt and refine heterogeneous true energy, and turn it into true energy that he could use.
Therefore, he had nothing to fear at the moment. Thus was the power of a godly-class energy art.
Yang Susu had been worried about Yang Qi. And yet, to her utter surprise, it only took one sweep of his hand to vanquish the Humanoid True Energy of a beast king.
She was a veteran of numerous battles, and had been in many tight spots in her life. Therefore, it was easy for her to make quick decisions. Sword energy flared, and blood-red light shone. An agonized shriek rang out of Ouyang Hu as his right arm was cleanly severed off!
The blood-soaked Ouyang Hu couldn’t prevent the intense pain from showing on his face. However, he had profound energy arts, and quickly staunched the flow of blood. Grabbing his severed arm with his other hand, he turned and fled, leaving behind the following words: “I won’t rest until you’re dead, Yang Susu! And you’d better watch out for that nephew of yours. I'm not going to let this rest!”
Lifeseizers were powerful to the extreme. Even having an arm chopped off wouldn’t be a big hindrance. In fact, even with all four limbs chopped off, a Lifeseizer could still use their true energy to move as quickly as lightning. They could usually recover from the gravest of situations. The only way to truly put an end to one would be to sever their head, destroy their sea of energy, or perhaps detonate all of their meridians.
“What a piece of trash,” Yang Susu said, shaking her head. “Well, severing his arm and damaging his meridians will make it almost impossible for him to make any progress for the time being.” Turning her attention to Yang Qi, her eyes flickered with delight. “Qi’er, I didn’t realize you’ve grown up so much. I got your father’s message, and I'm up to date on everything that happened, including the incident with Yun Hailan and the Latent Dragon Pill. I know your martial arts were crippled, and that you got struck by lightning, leading to spectacular advancement. But I'd assumed your energy arts were the same as they were before. How could I have guessed that they would have advanced to this level?”
Yang Qi nodded. “Aunt Susu—”
Before he could continue, she waved her hand to cut him off. “This isn’t the place to talk. Let’s head back to my mansion grotto.”
A stream of sword light appeared which wrapped around Yang Qi and then sent him flying through the air faster than the speed of sound. A moment later, he was standing in a temple.
It was located in the middle of a massive lake, and featured massive walls inset with all sorts of gems and demon cores.
Both Yang Qi and Yang Susu were on the top floor of the temple, giving them a view of countless other lakes and temples stretching out in all directions.
“Qi’er, these temples in the College of Elite Students are set aside for students as mansion grottos.” Yang Susu pointed out at the scenery beyond. “See the lakes? That's not ordinary water. They’re fed by subterranean spirit springs, the waters of which are like the quintessence of the lands around us. The temples are actually constructed with spirit stone bricks that provide spectacular benefits for cultivation. And at the top of each temple is an energy formation of the dao of monarchs. These palaces are also considered to be mansion grottos. If anyone attempts to invade, I can draw upon the spirit energy in the lake water to activate a death formation that could easily kill four or five Lifeseizers. No one would dare have the gall to disturb us here.”
Leading Yang Qi inside the temple, she continued, “Qi’er, why don’t you stay here in my temple for a while? Your cultivation will progress ten times faster here. I’ll also be able to assess your cultivation base better, and determine exactly when you’ll be able to reach the Lifeseizing level. Considering how easily you dealt with Ouyang Hu’s energy arts, I suspect there is a lot more to your cultivation base than meets the eye.”
Already, Yang Qi could sense the boundless spirit energy of heaven and earth, filled with the power of the dao of monarchs, pouring into his acupoints. It felt wonderful.
However, he shook his head. “Aunt Susu, these temples are designed for use by one person. I don't want my own cultivation to influence yours negatively. Besides, my cultivation has been moving along quickly enough. At the moment, I’d prefer to stay at my current level and temper myself a bit. Purify my true energy a bit.”
“Oh?” Yang Susu’s eyes glittered. “So, your understanding of cultivation has reached this level already? Not bad. Not bad at all! Just what is the level of your cultivation base, Qi’er? Do you mind giving me a little demonstration? Your father sent word a few days ago about how you reformed the clan, and even subjugated Yang Xingshi and Dowager Yan. You must have some spectacular moves to have pulled that off. You know, I’ve been meaning to take a trip home for a while now, but have been so busy that I couldn’t buy the time.”
“You want to see my cultivation base, Aunt Susu?” Yang Qi smiled. The truth was that he was immensely proud of how strong he was, and didn't feel any need to hide things from his aunt. “No problem. However, you have to promise to keep it a secret. If word got out, it could shake the entire institute.”
“Shake the entire institute?” Yang Susu exclaimed, visibly taken aback. Then she chuckled. “You couldn't possibly shake the entire Demi-Immortal Institute. There are millions upon millions of students here. It's not uncommon for someone to come across some spectacular good fortune, and it’s normal to keep some moves secret. But the accomplishments of any single student can’t be considered more than a drop of water in the ocean.”
“Are you sure about that? Alright, Aunt Susu. Look closely….”
Yang Qi threw his head back and shouted at the top of his lungs, causing true energy to erupt behind him. The temple trembled as though it were being shaken by countless hells. It was as if godly beasts and devilish kings were climbing up out of the ground, and even more awe-inspiring, a huge portal opened behind him, like the gates of hell, from which countless devil-gods and ghost hands extended.
“What?” Yang Susu blurted, her expression flickering. Suddenly, sword light burst out from her palm to create a sword net above Yang Qi.
“Boundless Megaplexus Sword Net! Fetter heaven and shackle earth!”  Apparently, she was drawing upon her most consummate discipline. “Qi’er, this is my deadliest move. This net of swords creates a megaplexus with eighty-one layers. If you can break free, it means you're as strong as a Lifeseizer!”
“What’s so hard about that?” Yang Qi made a ripping motion with his hands. “Be broken!”
1. This “megaplexus” bears some explaining. It’s very closely connected to the word I translated as “Allheaven” in ISSTH. If you added “heaven” to the end of this word, it could be translated as “megaplexus heaven” or “grand allheaven”. Its usage in this novel is slightly more complex than in ISSTH, which is why I'm translating it a bit differently. In real life, the “megaplexus heaven” or “grand allheaven” is essentially the highest heaven in the hierarchy of Daoist heavens, and is like a “net” or “mesh” that covers over all the other heavens. I'm using “plexus” because it means a “network” or “complex structure”.