Chapter 2023: Scouring Astral Wind

Trading moves with the volcano giant was immensely pleasurable for Jiang Chen. The only downside was that the arena they fought in was far too beneficial for his enemy.

Without the plethora of methods and abilities at his disposal as well as the Vermilion Bird bloodline, Jiang Chen found it rather likely he would’ve suffered a minor defeat here.

The point of his fighting now was to train himself. At the end of the day, actually fighting the volcano giant was hardly a necessity.

A more intelligent approach was just as viable as brute force. His task was to clear the giant’s den and find the exit on its far side. Any astute cultivator would recognize the semantics of the mission here.

In fact, brute force was probably the stupidest choice.

Jiang Chen had only chosen it because he wanted to borrow the giant’s strength to test his own. Plus, it was a wonderful opportunity to gain practical combat experience.

After a while, he’d really gotten into the swing of fighting. A series of continual punches from the giant were blocked by conjuring suspended runes alone.

The volcano giant wasn’t smart, but it had become aware that the human cultivator was the one who had the edge.

With a few more clashes, Jiang Chen picked up the giant’s style and weaknesses. His enemy defended its waist and torso rather poorly.

He immediately took advantage of this, aiming every attack he launched toward that direction. As expected, the volcano giant became rather panicked in its attempt to guard itself.

Seizing this opportunity, Jiang Chen hurtled toward the middle of the giant’s frame in a bolt of light.

The volcano giant scarcely had time to react with an instinctive grab. Failing to nab the pesky human, it tried to lumber after him in pursuit.

However, the young man was immeasurably faster than an ungainly giant at full throttle.

He found the eighth trial’s exit not long after. When the light engulfed and left him, the scenery changed again.

“Was that it?” Jiang Chen found it hard to believe himself. Of course, the jade slip’s confirmation answered his question.

“What the hell? With how hard that trial was, how many among the sixty can actually get past?” Though initially angry after his success, he calmed down quickly. It made sense; why shouldn’t the final three trials be harder than the rest?

It certainly didn’t make sense for them to be easy!

There was a wave of clamoring outside.

“Good heavens, he passed the eighth trial! How long did he even take? Whose genius could this possibly be?” Every witness felt his heart itch.

The second-place genius had only just entered the seventh trial, without any hint of being able to pass it. At the rate he was going, first place was going to pass all ten!

More than half of the geniuses had already been forced out. Not many geniuses had successfully made it to the sixth trial, and even fewer reached the seventh.

Only Jiang Chen was far ahead of the rest of the pack. His progress attracted the judges’ collective eye.

A new wave of guesses erupted around his identity. By now, there was a noticeable bias toward Jiang Chen, but still a few supporters of Lu Mingye, the Poison Consort, or even other geniuses.

After all, he’d been first place in the previous round. The reputation he’d gained over the past few years had only added fuel to the fire.

The timer for the ninth trial had already begun.

As soon as he entered the ninth island, Jiang Chen felt a surge of killing intent everywhere. The island was Lifeless by name, signifying that death awaited all who entered.

Understandably, the trial was more threatening than the volcano giant. Jiang Chen focused a hundred and twenty percent of his attention on sensing the environment around him.

The trees and branches turned to weapons and blades as he walked by, striking at him from every direction. The attack would’ve put any unwary cultivator at a disadvantage.  

After barely guarding against the weapons, Jiang Chen felt the earth below his feet tremble. The dirt under his soles suddenly turned to quicksand, consuming him with alarming rapidity.

Jiang Chen felt a weight upon his heart. He knew this was what the ninth trial involved; there was danger with every step he took. Only an unbroken concentration could provide him with a small chance to triumph.

The quicksand didn’t hamper him much. He jumped, then glided, breaking free from the engulfing influence of the quicksand.

He knew that softened ground alone didn’t pose much of a threat to most cultivators. It was the combination of a number of somewhat dangerous details that made the environment fraught with risk.

It was impossible to know where the next challenge would come from next, since deadly threats could be found around every turn.

Suddenly, a gust of strange wind rushed at him. Jiang Chen’s consciousness shifted; the flurry of air put his heart on alert.

He veered to the side as swiftly as he could to avoid being pulled in. The gust blew past him in a whoosh, slicing everything caught in its path cleanly in two. Some things were entirely diced to smithereens.

If Jiang Chen had been seized by the strange wind, he would’ve had a very bad time of it.

“This is… Scouring Astral Wind!” Jiang Chen recognized the phenomenon. This type of astral wind typically came about as a result of special terrain.

Any flesh swept in it would be scoured away completely, leaving only the bone beneath. Quick reflexes were required to avoid the wind. A predictive eye was the only way to live past an encounter with it.

Agility was just as important, since one’s body had to match the speed of his mind.

Jiang Chen had discovered the onslaught of the wind because of his keen consciousness. Otherwise, even the strongest cultivators could be caught unawares by it.

The young man approached the trial with as much focus as he could muster. 

If I’m having such a hard time, the others will need a special treasure of some sort to protect their lives. Otherwise, they’ll surely die in this trial!

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etvolare's Thoughts

Okay, I'm slightly angry at how hard the ninth island is. Anyone who reaches this island will be part of the sacred lands' best, yet the organizers decide to treat their best by flaying the flesh off the geniuses??

The wind is a force of a nature, not a restriction with 'do not kill' keyed into them, or a guardian acting under orders. It's going to just kill whoever it catches... O_O??

And woot for Instagram hitting 2k followers! Running a quick giveaway for anyone who comments with their fave MC~