57 Ghu Lin Makes His Move

The mysterious woman, whom many were calling 'the goddess of the seas', lingered in the air above the crowd. The invisible pressure she released forced the battle to pause, creating a strange tension which wouldn't dissipate so long as she remained present.

As the woman glanced at the blue stone held up by Aque Li, she casually waved her hand and the stone flew towards her. The stone, on making contact with her palm, dissolved into a blue energy which entered her white spiritual body.

"This offering alone is insufficient for any level of borrowed power." She spoke plainly.

Suddenly, Aque Li's heart sank. He grit his fists and trembled, but he could say nothing. However, her next words rekindled his hope.

"But, since you possess a subsidiary bloodline of the Sea God Clan, I can grant you my power…"

Aque Li's expression lit up and he repeatedly bowed his head excitedly, screaming out 'thank you goddess, thank you!' in his mind.

Meanwhile, Yaan's expression became increasingly dark. He was still maintaining Cutting Typhoon, but he was holding it at a low level. It was using up his energy somewhat, but this also allowed him to stay on guard, ready to burst out with an immense explosion of power the moment he needed to do so…and this woman made him realise that he would most definitely need to give it his all if he wished to survive here today!

"Your subsidiary bloodline is a vassal of the Sea God Clan, the Sea Giant Clan…your bloodline is 40% pure, with your offering, you barely qualify to receive a 1st level blessing…take mine essence of fluid light."

After saying this, the shining woman reached out, pointing down towards Aque Li. A bright dazzling blue light shimmered outwards from a droplet of water as it slowly descended towards him. Despite the movement being slow, nobody even dared to move under the pressure emitted from that woman above.

As Aque Li reverently reached up and grasped the droplet in his palms, his pupils suddenly widened and he gasped deeply for one breath. As he exhaled, a cloud of steam seemed to seep out from his lungs. The steam totally covered him, hiding him from view. By the time his body could no longer be seen, the woman in the sky spoke one final line.

"Comprehend the essence of fluid light during battle if you wish to further refine your bloodline…If you wish to receive further blessings, then you must offer another sacrifice."

With that, a blinding blue light whipped around the woman. The black cloud was compressed into her body, then as the blue light could no longer be seen, neither could she nor the illusory sky above. Yaan looked up warily, trying to locate the bizarre woman who came and went like a spectre or a ghost, but he couldn't find a single trace of her existence!

BOOM!

Distracted from his musings, Yaan grimaced and turned to face a figure, slowly emerging from a grey mist. The mist formed a vortex and was absorbed into his two palms, seemingly filling Aque Li with a power like nothing he had ever felt before.

In fact, before the astonished gazes of the entire crowd, he began to regress in age!

The change wasn't too ridiculous, but some of the wrinkles caused by his late middle age were no more, his skin was more smooth and his few grey hairs had all returned to a deep black lustre! From someone with an appearance of a man in his mid to late 40s, he now looked like a 40 year old man, perhaps even slightly younger!

Everyone was stunned by the rapid series of developments, but they were also wary and on high alert. Aque Li's present demeanour was too shocking, it was as if he had transformed into a different person entirely!

Where before he was always cautious and held back, now, he strode forwards purposefully, not intending to hide his actions in the least! Just as Yaan was wondering if this might be yet another trick, the crazy man actually raised his trident in the air, accumulating a giant whirlpool of water in the sky. Water seeped from his skin en mass and the seemingly endless river just kept making the whirlpool grow larger and larger!

Even Aque Li's own comrades were stunned senseless, instinctively stepping back, afraid that they might get caught up in the crossfire!

WAM!

Without warning, he slammed down. It had seemed like he was charging the attack up further since it was still continuing to build up, so the sudden attack caught everyone off guard. Even before reaching Yaan, the shockwaves sent people catapulting backwards, spraying out blood miserably.

Only Yaan remained in the immediate region that Aque Li could reach. The others, both friend and foe, had been thrust back. Yaan felt doubtful that even Ghu Lin had been thrust away, but he had no time to think about that right now; the strike was upon him!

BOOOOM!

Since the beginning, Yaan had already been activating his Cutting Typhoon! In fact, he used the build up of this sword art to attack and kill multiple enemies already, causing its momentum to develop even further than usual. Aside from that, another strange phenomena affected Yaan's sword arts that he could not have anticipated until seeing it for himself.

He had chained sword arts before, meaning, using one after the other. In the chain, he started the activation of a new sword art whilst the last sword art was still winding down.

He thought he did this earlier, only with three arts…but he was wrong. Earlier, he had used Flowing River Blade…midway through using this art, he crazily attacked with Synchronised Pierce, whilst continuing to use the Flowing River Blade Art, then almost immediately after activating Cutting Typhoon. Finally, he fused his momentum with yet another usage of the 3rd stage of Synchronised Pierce!

He didn't just 'chain' these attacks…he combined and fused them!

Yaan had discussed sword arts with Nadda's great grandfather, Ghu Jishi, on a couple of occasions. Whilst the old man wasn't an expert in sword arts exactly, all cultivators would learn to use the sword to some extent. On top of that, Ghu Jishi was old and experienced, he had seen many things, read many books and had many interesting discussions with expert sword masters over the years.

Learning the foundation of a sword art was the first step. At this point, you could utilise that stage of the sword art properly. Next, came mastering the stage. This was countless time more difficult and would take an ordinary person many years to achieve.

Normally, a swordsman would go on to train and master the next stage, then the next, until finally mastering the entire sword art…but Yaan had never done this. Instead, he'd taken a different approach, one that was actually entirely reasonable, and surprising that he had discovered it on his own.

'Chaining sword arts'. To use multiple arts back to back, cancelling one whilst activating the next, allowing the master to make the best use of the various different arts depending on the situation.

But following on from chaining sword arts…was fusing sword arts. Now, at this point, the swordsman was diverging from 'studying' and heading towards 'creating'. By fusing two arts together, you were, in essence, creating an entirely new art!

Some arts fused well, others did not, and timing was always imperative to the success of the attack. However, in the midst of this fight, Yea never thought about any of this. He was just acting on instinct, trying to muster the greatest possible strength that he could possibly achieve.

And indeed, he did just that.

Boom….BOOM….BOOOOOOM!

As Aque Li's trident and Yaan's sword collided, the two both showed crazed expressions. Aque Li was clearly intoxicated on this newfound power, but that wasn't all…just like that woman had said, his bloodline was slowly but surely being refined! He was growing stronger by the second!

BANG!

Whoosh!

Aque Li shot backwards, but landed on his feet and stumbled for a few steps before turning to Yaan and staring at him in disbelief. Yaan stared back, his entire body dripping in blood, but his eyes bright and fixated on Aque Li.

For a moment, Aque Li trembled. Despite all of his power, despite knowing that this person was on the verge of death, despite knowing that he had this battle won…

He saw something in Yaan's eyes.

In the brutal exchange just now, the mysterious hat had been damaged, slicing part of it off and revealing Yaan's upper face beneath. People could finally see his eyes now, letting many understand why he was so damn tenacious.

"Red eyes!"

"A demon!"

"Damn, he must be a body temperer! And a 3-Star body temperer at that, this is…"

"A vile demon, we should all-"

"Are you stupid? Do you really want to fight a body temperer in this place?! And he's a Ghu Clan guest, he's…" Suddenly, the person who had been berating his friend trailed off.

As Yaan stared at Aque Li, his entire body burning, screaming in pain, yet filled with excitement and battle intent due to his massive improvement to his sword arts just now…Aque Li's eyes widened. For a moment, he subconsciously reached out with his hand towards Yaan, for reasons he himself did not understand.

Suddenly, Yaan felt all of the stunned gazes landing on him, and finally realised that they were all far too strange! An immense feeling of danger swept through his body, and he forced himself to spin around, lifting two swords hastily to protect himself.

Earlier during the battle, the sword his teacher had gifted to him back then, finally became cracked. Not wanting to damage it further, Yaan sighed and put it away in his storage bag. He brought along two spares just in case this happened, but that was unnecessary. In this 3rd trial, he had earned 7 different swords, all of which were intended for body temperers! Heavy swords with crazy durability, perfect for his needs!

But right now, he chose the lightest two. His body was too weak, this was up there with the weakest Yaan had ever felt in his life.

His mind was hazy, but that screaming alarm continued to sound out in his mind, despite not knowing where it was coming from…

'There!'

At the last possible second, Yaan sensed a flash of energy thrusting towards his throat. He managed to hastily block his throat, only to find that 4 more strikes were aiming for his two eyes and his heart!

PUCHI!

CLANG CLANG!

Yaan stumbled back and choked up a lungful of blood. His eyes widened and he stared forwards intensely, rapidly trying to process this situation, but struggling to put everything together. So much had happened at the same time that he could only utter a single word, as this word summarised his current feelings.

"Why…?"

He was talking not just to Ghu Lin, whom's sword had stabbed straight through his heart whilst leaving behind a black corrosive poison, but also to that girl…

"Hmph, I'm just paying you back for earlier! I hate owing people debts, so…" Zue Yin trailed off as she looked down at Yaan.

At first, she acted extremely arrogant, as she believed that she had saved his life. Now though, she realised that she failed to pull him back in time to avoid all of Ghu Lin's attacks. There was a deep hole in his chest. The hole stabbed straight through his chest and out from his back, leaving a thick black toxic sludge in its wake.

"Thanks." Yaan stated simply, not having the energy for anything more than this.

Before doing or saying anything else, Yaan calmly slipped his hand into his spatial bag, pulled out a handful of pills, and swallowed them all in one go. He washed it down with four bottles of potions, then as Ghu Lin began walking closer to him whilst moving in a circle, Yaan poured a vial of fluid into the hole in his chest.

"Ugh…" He grimaced. Zue Yin, now standing by his side, stared at him in shock. Firstly, she was shocked that he was still alive, despite being stabbed through the heart. Secondly…she practised alchemy…

"Do you know how many Rank 4 pills you just took?! And, and that vial, that was the tincture from the tree of life, right?!"

Yaan remained silent, but she was right. He felt a bit pained to use up the tincture from the tree of life…it was definitely his most valuable medicine, perhaps aside from the things he had earned within this trial.

He actually bought that vial in North Ghu City. It was in extremely high demand and the world tree was said to be hundreds of thousands of miles away, but merchants always harvested multiple barrels of the stuff whenever they collected it, so a small vial was just about affordable.

It was necessary, but not because of the stab wound…a stab through the heart was only a minor matter, the real issue was that damned poison. Yaan had no idea what poison this was, but it was rapidly eating through his body, destroying him from inside out!

He swallowed another handful of pills, then finally turned to face Ghu Lin seriously. Zue Yin pouted, annoyed that he'd ignored her, but she remained by his side for whatever reason. Well, she looked afraid, and very confused…as was Yaan right now. They weren't the only ones, though.

"Ghu Lin…! Yaan is my guest…a Ghu Clan Guest…what is the meaning of this…?!" Nadda rushed forth, confronting Ghu Lin and blocking him from taking a single step closer to Yaan. He looked extremely wary, and just as confused as everyone else. This whole situation came out of nowhere, and since Aque Li's usage of that spell caused the battle to pause temporarily anyway, nobody seemed to be in a rush to continue on.

Yaan continued staring at Ghu Lin, waiting for him to explain. Not that Yaan expected an explanation of course, this guy was-

"Hmph, did you really think you could scheme against my Ghu Clan?" Ghu Lin suddenly seemed to become a different person. His indifference vanished, replaced by an expression of annoyance and disdain.

Yaan was startled, and felt an even deeper premonition of danger compared to before. This guy, why was he speaking so differently all of a sudden, what happened to his emotionless unreadable expression? Why was he pulling out a sheet of parchment…?

"You all see this? This is a-"

"Shit!" Yaan cursed out loud, shocking Zue Yin. Yaan suddenly grabbed the hat from his head, the mysterious hat, the universe treasure which Nadda had leant to him.

There were many things that had confused Yaan until this point, but when Ghu Lin pulled out that official document, which actually had upon it the North Ghu City Lord's stamp of proof, many things finally clicked together.

Yaan wondered why Ghu Lin attacked him. Was it to steal his rewards? Unlikely. If Ghu Clansmen went around backstabbing their official guests, nobody would ever want to work with them again.

Since it wasn't for his own personal gain, and since attacking Yaan would definitely cause problems for Ghu Lin with his elders if he were acting alone…it could only mean that the North Ghu City Lord had arranged this! The city lord actually wanted him dead! As for how he overcame the poison oath, Yaan didn't know, and that was irrelevant right now.

What was important, was why, given that Ghu Lin had absolutely attempted to kill him in that instant, would he then give Yaan time to recover…?

Two reasons. Firstly, he needed to justify his actions to all the other witnesses present. On the surface, that was what he was doing right now…but more importantly, he was actually attacking Yaan's life yet again!

Yaan realised it when he lifted up that sheet of parchment. Since Ghu Lin seemed to have no intention of charging at him to attack him, he must have another means of attack. A means that he wanted to keep hidden…hidden behind the official document!

Just as Yaan cursed out loud, a red glow flashed behind the official document written by the city lord. As Yaan expected, Ghu Lin had burned a talisman, attempting to do this in secret whilst reading the city lord's letter!

This whole operation was definitely the city lord's doing. Ghu Lin was only the soldier carrying out the orders. The scheme itself must have been set up long before the inheritance opening…

There was only one possible method that the North Ghu City Lord could use to harm Yaan from outside of the inheritance; planting a trap on his body! At first, Yaan didn't understand, but at the last moment he remembered…the mysterious hat!

This hat was a universe treasure, but only the least valuable of universe treasures. And Yaan, he had…he had actually given this hat to the city lord, requesting that he make improvements to it so that others would not be able to see through his identity!

And indeed, the city lord did just that. He added a layer of protection which would last for 100 days, preventing spirit sense and detection spells from seeing through it. If they tried to use brute force, they would be met with the threatening emblem of an Origin Soul realm powerhouse, scaring them off.

Yaan ripped the hat from his head and threw it with the greatest strength he could muster right now, all whilst jumping backwards towards Zue Yin.

Ah, it would have been nice if he had actually thrown it in time at least…in reality, he barely got the hat half way off his head before a rune lit up on the inside, followed by five others. All erupted inwards towards Yaan. It was a malicious attack that would have certainly killed anyone here instantly, were they wearing it when it was triggered.

As for Yaan, the hat was a few inches from his head when it started to detonate, and just over a foot by the time the explosion hit him in full force. Still, he actually pointed the inside of the hat towards himself whilst continuing to thrust it forwards. The fiery explosion enveloped his arms, scolded his head and face, and rushed towards his entire upper body. That said, the explosion was so powerful that when combined with Yaan's thrust, the hat shot outwards, leaving a blazing trail in its wake.

A few unlucky fellows were caught up in the flames. They either burned to death or killed by the powerful shockwaves.

Just as the hat flew away from him, Yun pushed off the ground with his Agile Sword Arts, managing to take two steps back before the shockwaves were too much. He was thrown backwards, barely managing to cover and protect his body with his two swords and his blackened arms.

As he planned, he flew back towards Zue Yin. Yaan had already taken the brunt of the attack, but her expression changed and she became pale. In this moment of life and death crisis, she actually stepped forwards, thrusting her two palms forwards just as she was inline with Yaan's hurtling body.

For a brief moment, the explosion was parted and Zue Yin even thought that she had managed to dispel it.

She underestimated the scale of this blast. Yaan gritted his teeth, reaching out and grabbing Zue Yin. She was lifted up from the ground and flew backwards with him. Jolted awake by Yaan's viciously strong grip on her arm, she growled in pain and anger, but still started forming hand seals, each deflecting portions of fire, heat and shockwaves.

After a few seconds, the two crashed down onto the ground, Yaan behind Zue Yin and Zue Yin still sitting on top of him, holding her arms out stretched towards the remaining flames. Gradually, the flames subsided, leaving an eery silence throughout the cavern, making Zue Yin's shocked and erratic breathing all the more audible.

Yaan and Zue Yin just about managed to save one another from the absurdly intense explosion. Zue Yin was injured, but not badly. As for Yaan…he was in bad condition, half dead, half conscious, and completely unable to move.

Next chapter