Chapter 34: Have You All Gone Mad?
"You want to look at this Hexagonal Shield?" Liu Yan looked confused and asked quizzically, "The spirit diagram in this spirit artifact has already been destroyed. You can't even pour spirit energy inside it anymore. What is there to look at?"
Liu Yan wasn't the only one who looked confused. The entire Ling Family gave him a strange look as well. They did not understand his sudden interest in Liu Yan's broken spirit artifact.
"Just curious," Qin Lie indifferently said amidst doubtful looks.
Surprised, Liu Yan stared intently at Qin Lie's youthful face before nodding indifferently; he then passed the one meter tall Hexagonal Shield over.
"It's broken anyway, so you can look at it all you want. This shield... I exchanged two thousand contribution points for it. It took me three years to accumulate that much. And now, the shield broke, just like that; it hurts to even think about it."
Under the crowd's curious gaze, Qin Lie grabbed the Hexagonal Shield. In his hands, the shield felt incredibly heavy, and there was a strong and sturdy feel to it.
Setting it down, he began rubbing his fingers across the strange patterns on its surface, getting a feel for its textures. At the same time, he quietly released his spirit energy and a wisp of mind energy to probe the insides of the shield.
His mind energy slipped in, and the broken spirit diagram inside the shield appeared abruptly in his mind; it was a combined version of both the “Spirit Gathering” and “Amplification” diagram.
Compared to the “Spirit Gathering” and “Amplification” spirit diagrams inside the Soul Suppressing Orb, these two were much too simple and crude.
During the past few days he had been memorizing the “Amplification” spirit diagram inside the Soul Suppressing Orb whenever he took a break from cultivating.
Now, he had almost memorized the “Amplification” spirit diagram completely, so the moment he saw this simplistic version of the “Amplification” diagram, he immediately recognized it.
The two spirit diagrams took up a large amount of space inside the shield, and the “Amplification” diagram was embedded inside the “Spirit Gathering” one. On close examination, he could clearly see that only the “Spirit Gathering” spirit diagram was damaged…
Due to powerful attacks, some of its lines had been twisted into a clump which caused an obstruction where the spirit energy was supposed to flow through; that was why Liu Yan was unable to pour spirit energy into his shield.
If “Spirit Gathering” could not function, then it would not be able to conduct spirit energy and subsequently cause the embedded “Amplification” spirit diagram to fail as well. That was how this spirit artifact had turned completely useless.
In his eyes, the two spirit diagrams inside the shield appeared to be incredibly simple. Although they were just a small part of the “Spirit Gathering” and “Amplification” in his memories, they were able to accomplish their respective functions. If he could untie the knots and sort out the kinks, then the “Spirit Gathering” spirit diagram would function as it was meant to, and the spirit artifact would become usable once more.
Qin Lie frowned slightly with a serious look as he rubbed his fingers across the shield's surface, thinking quietly to himself.
Liu Yan and the rest looked as doubtful as ever. They just felt that his actions were very peculiar and that it didn't look like he was examining the Hexagonal Shield seriously.
"Brother Liu, those Shattered Ice Manor guys are still tracking us. It may take them much longer to find us at night, but we still shouldn't dally around for too long," Gao Yu suddenly said with a cold expression and then concluded, "I think we should keep moving."
Liu Yan nodded and replied, "Right, we really shouldn't stay at one place for too long."
"Please continue to lead the way, Qin Lie. We'll be right behind you." This time it was Ling Xin who took the initiative.
Deep in his own thoughts, his words pulled Qin Lie back to reality as he returned the Hexagonal Shield to Liu Yan and said, "Let's go. We'll leave this place and find a new safe location."
"Why is he the one leading the way?" A Gao Family member asked in dissatisfaction.
"Because under his guidance, even though we took a longer route, we neither encountered packs of spirit beasts nor lost even a single man!"
There was shock in both Liu Yan and Gao Yu's eyes the moment he said those words. They glanced at each other once before Liu Yan said, "Alright! We'll follow Qin Lie!"
"Then let's go." Frowning, Qin Lie led at the front once more. Occasionally, he would take out a map from his chest, glance at it briefly, adjust their path, and then continue to lead on.
The Ling Family followed closely behind him. After giving their wounds a simple dressing, Liu Yan and Gao Yu caught up to him as well.
"This Qin Lie fellow is no ordinary person," Liu Yan lowered his voice and said.
Gao Yu scowled and let out a hmph. He did not answer.
"Let's put down our dissent with the Ling Family for the moment. Our first priority right now is to get out of this alive," Liu Yan advised.
"I know what to do," Gao Yu responded impatiently.
Liu Yan nodded.
While hurrying onward, the shield's twisted “Spirit Gathering” spirit diagram would appear from time to time in his mind as Qin Lie quietly pondered about how he should go about fixing it.
It wasn't as if he held any good will towards Liu Yan, he was just curious to test out and see if he could make the two spirit diagrams he memorized work. He wanted to know if they would really be as useful as he had envisioned in his mind.
By doing this, his efforts to memorize them would not be in vain, and he would also be able to decide whether or not he should spend even more effort on the remaining two “Spirit Storage” and “Strengthening” spirit diagrams.
Four hours later.
At midnight, Qin Lie had led the crowd to an ancient-looking forestry as he said, "Let's rest here for a bit. You should also treat your wounds as well," he said while looking at Liu Yan and Gao Yu's people. At that moment, blood was seeping out of Liu Yan and Gao Yu's wounds.
Liu Yan and Gao Yu had no objections to that and both sat down at their chosen spots, took out some medicinal powder, and began skillfully smearing it on their wounds.
Throughout these four hours they had not run into a single spirit beast. This caused them to believe in the Ling Family's words, Qin Lie really did know how to avoid the spirit beast packs!
Qin Lie sneaked his way over to Liu Yan and gave it another thought before saying seriously, "I think I can try fixing your Hexagonal Shield. No guarantees though."
"Ah!" Liu Yan abruptly turned his head with shining eyes and a slight shiver around his shoulders before he inquired excitedly, "Are you serious? This isn't a joke?"
The Hexagonal Shield was ranked as a Common Grade Five spirit artifact, and it took him three years’ worth of contribution points to obtain it. Moreover, it could be matched together with his spirit art to increase his strength. That was why he viewed it as his most treasured possession.
The fact that his shield broke had distressed him greatly, so how could Liu Yan not be excited when he heard that Qin Lie could fix his shield?
"I can't give any guarantees. All I can say is that I'll give it a try. It's possible that it'll break immediately during the process and become irreparable in the future."
Liu Yan's Hexagonal Shield was different from the short spear that was destroyed by his thunder and lightning energy before. The spear's body itself was destroyed by lightning, and he had absolutely no way to fix that. But since the only thing that was damaged in this Hexagonal Shield was the spirit diagram, he could at least give it a try.
On the other hand, he had never done this before and thus had absolutely no way to know if it would work. That was why he did not dare to guarantee its success.
"Qin Lie, don't be reckless. The Hexagonal Shield is a Common Grade Five spirit artifact. If became irreparable due to your tinkering, then it'll be..."
Ling Yushi had been paying attention to Qin Lie this entire time, so when she saw him going over to Liu Yan, she too quietly sneaked over.
She was shocked when she heard that he wanted to help fix Liu Yan's spirit artifact and immediately hurried over to warn him. She was terrified that if the shield became completely unusable, Liu Yan would hate him and thus affect his future.
"Uh, it was just a suggestion. There is the possibility that it might completely ruin this spirit artifact, so I guess we can... forget about this?"
Qin Lie also felt like backing down after listening to Ling Yushi. After all, he had never attempted this before, so he was not confident in the slightest that it would work. He was actually quite afraid that he might break the spirit artifact completely.
To their surprise, Liu Yan actually tossed the Hexagonal Shield beneath Qin Lie's feet and suddenly stood up. He stared deeply into Qin Lie's eyes and smiled bitterly. "Little brother, do not listen to your fiancée. If you think you can do it, then give it your best shot. There's no need to be afraid; I won't blame you for it even if you did break my shield. After all, our current situation is just too perilous, and there is even a chance that we might not make it out of this alive. Even if you are only ten percent confident that it will succeed, you should still give it a try. If you really do fix my spirit artifact, then my chances of survival will be greatly increased!"
"You can't be serious?" Ling Yushi stared at Liu Yan in surprise.
"Without being able to take in spirit energy, my Hexagonal Shield won’t improve my combat capabilities in any way. If I encounter a Shattered Ice Manor martial practitioner of the same level, it wouldn’t be easy for me to fight them," Liu Yan said helplessly with his hands spread upwards, "If there weren’t a bunch of bastards chasing us relentlessly, then perhaps I wouldn’t have taken the risk and instead have chosen to wait until we returned to the pavilion so I could get an Artificer to look at it. But right now... it's a question if we'll even make it back home. Do I look like I have any other choice?"
"Understood." Qin Lie sucked in a deep breath and crouched beside the Hexagonal Shield. Then, he said, "Find me some fire crystals."
"Here you go!" Liu Yan straight up passed over a bag stitched together with animal skin; there were at least tens of fire crystals inside the bag. Every single piece was as big as a fist, and they were all as red as crimson fireballs. To their surprise, these fire crystals were all of the highest quality!
"Qin Lie!" Ling Yushi exclaimed with slight anxiety. "Do you really want to do this? Just how confident are you? Even your grandfather can only repair spirit artifacts below Common Grade Five, and this Hexagonal Shield is a Grade Five item. Are… Are you sure you want to try this?"
"Your grandfather's an Artificer?" Liu Yan looked startled, but his expectations had grown greater instead.
Qin Lie no longer answered. He picked up a flint and lit the fire crystals. When the spark hit three fire crystals, they abruptly burst into crimson flames, causing a sudden surge of heat.
In order to fix the spirit diagram inside a spirit artifact, the spirit artifact must first be annealed. By burning it at high temperatures with the fire crystal, it would be able to achieve this effect.
After the spirit artifact had softened enough, spirit energy would be poured inside so as to carefully unclog the spirit network inside the spirit diagram. Once the adjustments were complete, then the annealing could be stopped, and with that, the spirit artifact would be allowed to slowly cool back into normalcy. This process would also allow the spirit patterns of the diagram inside the artifact to harden, thus achieving the objective of repairing a spirit artifact.
"What? Qin Lie is going to try to fix Liu Yan's spirit artifact? Am I hearing this correctly?"
"He also knows how to fix spirit artifacts? That can't be right; is this guy omnipotent or something?"
"Liu Yan's Hexagonal Shield is a Common Grade Five spirit artifact! Back then, not even Grandpa Qin Shan dared to attempt to fix a spirit artifact of this level. What are we going to do if he completely breaks the diagram inside? Has he gone mad?"
The moment they heard Qin Lie was going to fix the spirit artifact, every one of the Ling clansmen gathered over in shock while clamoring at each other.
When Gao Yu heard the noise, he too walked over in great shock. He stood beside Liu Yan and said coldly, "Big Brother Liu, what are you doing? You're going to let him screw with your Common Grade Five Hexagonal Shield? What the hell are you thinking?"
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