Chapter 596 – Hatred
Under the attack of the Heart Piercing Spikes of the Heavenly Spirit, Wei Ke was unable to put up a fight at all. From the beginning till the end, he had not even caught a glance of the enemy. He only constantly used defensive techniques, holding on with his protective arcane artifact.
Right when he had basically consumed all of his spiritual qi, unable to last much longer and thinking about cutting his losses, the opponent unleashed a special attack. The thirty-six Heart Piercing Spikes of the Heavenly Spirit merged together into one and launched a full-powered strike, piercing through his protective arcane artifact in a single stroke and killing him on the spot.
As a spectator, Li Qingshan saw everything with great clarity. The old man had actually been hiding in a sand dune. Although the Heart Piercing Spikes of the Heavenly Spirit were arcane artifacts that came in a set, they could not be used from several dozen kilometers away, and the user of the arcane artifact would basically be completely vulnerable when they used it.
They could not even spare the effort to unleash their protective arcane artifacts. If Wei Ke had managed to calm down right from the beginning, searching for the old man and throwing his life at him, then the old man definitely could not maintain such a ferocious attack, and the outcome of the battle would be unknown.
However, he had been far too flustered. The missions of the Hawkwolf Guard were all carried out with an absolute advantage in information, numbers, and strength. It had probably only been a little more dangerous when they targeted the White Lotus cult in the past, but they probably had Gu Yanying and Si Bao presiding over the operation, so they were not at an absolute disadvantage. Wei Ke immediately panicked when he faced a crushing disadvantage like this.
If it had been Wang Pushi instead, he definitely would not have been so useless after going through several years of bloody war between the humans and daemons in the Clear River prefecture.
As he thought of that, Li Qingshan refined another arcane artifact on him. Only one remained.
Gu Yanying let out a gentle sigh. She went up to close Wei Ke’s eyes, and his expression returned to normal. She retrieved the arcane artifacts and ordered, “Rongzhi, you’re up now. Only victory is permitted!”
Gu Yanying was not someone who was harsh to her subordinates. When Wei Ke entered the arena earlier, she had even specially warned him to be careful. Now that it was the early Foundation Establishment Qian Rongzhi’s turn to face the same opponent, she had ordered her to win. Not only were the Hawkwolf guards surprised, but even Si Qing took another good look at Qian Rongzhi.
Qian Rongzhi only answered with a “yes” obediently before entering the Dragon Arena with her head lowered.
Gu Yanying asked, “Do you need to change the battlefield?”
Whenever a side lost a person in battle, they could change the battlefield. Not only would the person remaining in the battlefield deplete their spiritual qi, but their method of battle would be completely seen through too, so it was very difficult to win consecutively.
Qian Rongzhi shook her head, so docile that Li Qingshan basically wondered whether she had been replaced by someone else.
Qian Rongzhi’s heart was filled with hatred. After successfully establishing a foundation, she broke through the greatest bottleneck she faced due to her insufficient talent. The cultivator’s willpower, ability to comprehend, and toughness of their souls began to play a more important role.
Her ability to understand had never been weak, while her willpower was extraordinarily tough. Through the constant refinement of pain from the hell snake, her soul was pure and powerful too, far greater than what any regular cultivator possessed. She also had the Heaven Climbing Vine to absorb spiritual qi from another world. She could be described as going directly from being mediocre to a genius.
When she thought she could finally ease up and gradually plan and develop, she had been “promoted” to White Wolf guard, constantly under Gu Yanying’s watch. That basically felt like a pair of eyes glued on her constantly, reading all of her thoughts. Everything she possessed, even her life, seemed like it could be taken away from her at any time. It was far more miserable than blending around in the Academy of the Hundred Schools under the identity of a measly Qi Practitioner.
Gu Yanying had not shown any hostility at all. As a matter of fact, it was possible to say she treated her with special care, but her existence alone was a torture to Qian Rongzhi.
She was favoured and privileged in the world, beautiful, powerful, and loved by everyone. That graceful bearing of hers probably came from never enduring any pain or hardships, while that proud heart of hers had probably never been crushed or trampled on by anyone.
Everything that Qian Rongzhi had never possessed, everything that Qian Rongzhi could only desire, just happened to be like muck to her. Even that cold, merciless Li Qingshan, someone as vicious as a tiger, viewed her in a special light.
Gu Yanying, there will be a day when I dig out your eyes and rip off your wings so that you understand how it feels to crawl along the ground!
With a thought like that, Qian Rongzhi stepped into the Dragon Arena.
In order to prevent any unfair sneak attacks or ambushes, the duel would only begin after a while. This was also to the new fighter’s advantage, as they could use the time to find the opponent, prepare techniques, or ready their arcane artifacts.
Logically speaking, after witnessing the duel earlier, Qian Rongzhi should have been looking for her opponent and then launching a vicious attack. Sure enough, she readied her arcane artifacts immediately, and a barrier of light rose up around her, followed by another one. Her three arcane artifacts were actually all defensive.
Afterwards, she used the final bit of time before the duel began to cast a defensive technique on herself before crossing her legs and sitting down.
Just how afraid of dying is she? Everyone could not help but think that. They had no idea how to respond.
The old man in a long gown was mildly surprised too. Originally, he thought that she would launch a powerful barrage of attacks at him, and he obviously had a way to deal with it considering all the battle experience he possessed, but never did he think his opponent would actually be so pessimistic with no interest in offence at all.
Li Qingshan thought, That’s not a bad move to take. The power behind arcane artifacts is connected to the cultivator’s cultivation. Her cultivation is nowhere close to Wei Ke’s, so if she only uses a single defensive artifact, it’s extremely likely for it to fail from a single strike, which would cost her her life on the spot.
And, with her cultivation at early Foundation Establishment, using two arcane artifacts simultaneously is basically her limit. The only way for her to use three arcane artifacts is if she stays put and focuses on defending, but doesn’t that guarantee her defeat?
Only defending would always lead to defeat in the end. Among the five elements, metal based attacks were the strongest, and her spiritual qi was nowhere near as plentiful as her opponent’s. Even though this move was her only choice, it had also cut off her sliver of chance at victory.
Li Qingshan personally believed he was skilled at fighting, but even he was unable to understand what Qian Rongzhi was trying to do. Was she objecting to Gu Yanying? But she was not the kind of person to do something as useless as that.
Then he saw Gu Yanying standing with her arms crossed, smiling as if she had anticipated this a long time ago. Thinking about it, it made sense. She had been the one who gave the three arcane artifacts to Qian Rongzhi in the first place. At the same time, he was simply unable to think of how Qian Rongzhi could defeat such a powerful opponent in her position.
She knows defeat is certain for her, so she wants to waste away my spiritual qi like this. How can a person be that foolish? This is the perfect opportunity for me to recover my spiritual qi. You’re in no hurry, so there’s even less of a reason for me to be frantic.
That was how the old man thought as he downright continued to hide in the sand dune, catching his breath and recovering. As long as he could restore all of his spiritual qi and defeat Qian Rongzhi in a single strike, then he could enter the third duel in almost perfect condition.
But before long, he felt yin qi surge in his surroundings. Black snakes silently slithered through the sand before he realised it, swarming over to entangle and bite him.
I see! Li Qingshan thought.
As Qian Rongzhi powered the arcane artifacts, she had secretly used the methods of the school of Legalism to launch a sneak attack against the old man underground.
But how are such inferior techniques enough to deal with an opponent like him? Li Qingshan shook his head secretly.
The old man rejoiced instead of panicking. He let out a great laugh. “I’ve been waiting for this moment!”
The black snakes gathered over, but a layer of golden light blocked them, so they were unable to advance any further. As it turned out, the old man had already been prepared. If she held her position and did nothing, then so be it, but as soon as she tried attacking, she would definitely have to split her focus and deplete her spiritual qi. It was the optimal time for him to kill her in a single strike.
These were not real hell snakes, only shadows possessing a sliver of the aura of the real thing at most, conjured from Qian Rongzhi’s spiritual qi. Otherwise, if she could use the true powers of hell, it would be extremely terrifying regardless of whether they were minor or major hells.
Thirty-six streaks of golden light burst out of the sand dune where Qian Rongzhi stood, rushing into the air. They merged into a single Heart Piercing Spike of the Heavenly Spirit, glistening with golden light as it shot through the air in an unstoppable manner.
This was the move that Wei Ke had died to.
It had already been extremely difficult for Qian Rongzhi to wield three arcane artifacts. Now that she split her focus, the situation became even worse. With a clang, the tiny, rhombus shield on the outside was sent flying. The golden light plunged straight in, piercing another barrier.
Out of the three defensive layers Qian Rongzhi had set up, only a single one remained, and it clearly was unable to stop the Heart Piercing Spike of the Heavenly Spirit’s full-powered strike.
Facing life-threatening danger, Qian Rongzhi finally frowned, exhibiting an expression of pain and torment.
“Are you afraid? It’s already too late!”
The old man showed excitement that completely contrasted against his age. Killing enemies in the arena and seeing their regretful, fearful faces was something that brought him the greatest joy.
Right as he thought that, a sense of danger abruptly filled his heart. Among the dense, black snakes, an extremely colourful, tiny snake suddenly leapt out, colliding with his protective barrier and passing through somehow, biting his neck.
He had already placed all of his attention into his strike, so he was unable to dodge in time. Immediately, intense agony filled his entire body.
He had been through countless battles. Who knew how much damage and pain his body had been through already. Even if his arm was cut off, he would not bat an eye, but this pain was unbearable for anyone, or why else would hell use it?
Even Li Qingshan with his steel-like willpower would rather have his flesh shaved from his bones again than let the tiny snake get him. He thought, I didn’t think she could already make the snake leave her body!
Back to Qian Rongzhi, she seemed to be in great pain, but there was not even a hint of regret or fear on her face. Instead, there was a faint sneer.
Having lost its master’s control, the Heart Piercing Spike of the Heavenly Spirit only continued on with its momentum, clearly not enough to penetrate an arcane artifact. It turned back into thirty-six spikes and fell out of the air.
Qian Rongzhi leapt up. She was already holding a spiritual artifact sword in her hand, targeting the sand dune the old man occupied. From left to right, she swung her sword.
With a flash, a part of the sand dune had been sliced off, together with an old man’s head that hurled into the sandy air.
He had been entangled by the hell snake, so even his thought process came to a halt from pain. His soul sense and techniques all stopped functioning. When Qian Rongzhi beheaded him, his brain instead recovered some clarity, and he praised loudly, “What a snake!”
The two of them had stood in a stalemate for such a long time, only taking a single move to determine their fates. It seemed simple, but who knew how many times they had clashed mentally with their schemes.
The twist in the events left everyone dumbfounded.
Seeing a subordinate being killed, Si Qing did not feel pained at all. Instead, he laughed and clapped his hands loudly before raising a cup and drinking to his heart’s content. “She has actually nurtured a true hell snake. This loss was well-deserved. With her willpower and perseverance, she already has the right to practise the Illustrations of Naraka.”
Qian Rongzhi had killed her opponent and won three arcane artifacts, but she showed no joy at all. She crouched down silently, and the tiny snake followed a black trajectory, slithering back onto her wrist and vanishing into her skin again.
The hell snake was one of her greatest secrets. At crucial times, it could achieve something as wondrous as turning the tables, but she had now exposed it before everyone under Gu Yanying’s coercion.
Once the opponent was aware and prepared, the effects would diminish drastically. It was equivalent to losing a life-saving trump card. The venomous snake had its fangs plucked out. As a result, she hated Gu Yanying even more, hating her down to her bones.