Chapter 150: Blood-red Ripple
Translator: JL Editor: Lis
"It should be around here. Search carefully, everyone."
Qiao Hua's voice was hoarse and his appearance disheveled, but he still exuded a sense of confidence and good spirits. His gaze kept its confidence and steadiness while his face had a morbidly excited red blush. Only the corners of his eyes displayed his fatigue.
Everyone knew that Qiao Hua was bearing a heavy burden.
The blood catastrophe situation was rapidly deteriorating. There were sightings of blood fiends in many cities. Due to the emergency, the ones deeper in the Garden of Life were pressed by a heavy atmosphere. Even the areas that had been burned still had blood-red sprouts growing from the charred ground. The blood plants had a resilient vitality, instilling fear in everyone.
The blood fiends were getting stronger. Just seven days ago, they were hit by a sneak attack from a blood wolf, causing three deaths and six injured. This was the first instance of severe injuries and death received since they entered the Garden of Life. The blood wolf was a strong but cunning dire beast that quickly became everyone's nightmare. Since then, the troop had become startled by the smallest things.
Their caution, however, did not improve their situation. They began to suffer continuous attacks from different blood fiends, increasing the number of casualties. This further strengthened their belief that they were traveling in the correct direction.
Qiao Hua continued to command them deeper into the Garden of Life while praying for divine intervention.
The burdens in Qiao Hua's heart increased, but he continued to encourage himself, saying that this was the best option to take. As long as they discovered the first blood tree, they would be able to find a solution.
The blood poison could not be dealt with using ordinary ideas, which was evident from the blood grass that was growing from the charred soil. They sprouted at an astonishing rate. Only a few days had passed, and the blood grass had already grown past their kneecaps.
The fire, intended to prevent the spread of the blood poisoning, aided it in becoming stronger instead.
Qiao Hua examined the newly grown blood grass and realized that the blood poison in them was slightly different from the one gathered in his initial investigations.
Layers upon layers of transformations had taken place, and the blood poison became increasingly formidable-to the point that Qiao Hua experienced fear.
He did not express his worries and fears, knowing that the troop's morale was undergoing some subtle changes. Everyone was tense and strained as they had yet to find the blood tree left behind by Si Nan. Furthermore, the continuous escalating attacks by the blood fiends and the loss of their people made their confidence in Qiao Hua waver.
The loss of confidence and intensifying insecurity made them extremely weak.
Qiao Hua's resolute nature showed itself; he did not have the least bit of hesitation and held on to his determination. He believed his conjecture was correct and was not the least bit swayed.
Everyone dispersed to seek out the potential target.
Si Nan's notes were decades old; since his time, there had been many changes in the Induction Ground. Even the geological landscape had noticeable differences. Furthermore, the notes had been organized by Si Nan's students, and so many details were indistinct and unclear.
After analyzing the notes, Qiao Hua had jotted down a few potential locations.
Most of the people were in low spirits and were not encouraged by Qiao Hua's words since their previous searches had proved to be fruitless. Everyone maintained their patience out of respect for Qiao Hua's high rank. Their tolerance, however, was running thin. Some of the troop members were starting suspect whether Si Nan's notes were real.
An agitated voice suddenly rang out, and everyone involuntarily paused in their movements. After a moment of silence, they erupted in cheers.
Everyone rushed towards the loud shout.
Qiao Hua's knees went soft. He no longer cared about his image and plopped butt-first onto the ground. He looked utterly exhausted. He did not think that their journey would have been met with so many mishaps, nor did he predict the blood poison to have worsened so rapidly. The burden he shouldered had been heavy beyond expectation.
The blood catastrophe had worsened with a swiftness outside of anybody's expectations, even Qiao Hua's. There were rumors of displeasure from the elders who had been persuaded by him.
The winner takes all while the loser is left with nothing.
If he could successfully resolve the blood disaster, then he would rapidly become the hero of the Induction Grounds-no, of the entire Avalon of Five Elements. To him, this was critical. As long as he succeeded, his population would be elevated to unprecedented heights.
Always, he had hoped and longed for such a chance. His ambitious nature had been stirred since long ago.
They finally found it....
As long as they found the blood tree, he was halfway to success. This implied that there would be a feast for them soon.
It would be one of celebration, the best reward he could ever get. The courage he invested would soon reap numerous rewards. He could almost envision his name in the river of history, praised by millions of people.
He did not know where he got the strength from, but he stood and walked towards the group of people.
The crowd automatically parted to form a path, like the welcoming of a crowned victor.
With a steady pace, Qiao Hua held his head up high. The gazes that turned his way were no longer filled with doubt and suspicion but instead were of adoration and respect. Finding the blood tree was evidence of Qiao Hua's correct theory.
They all believed that they would soon witness the destruction of the blood disaster. Most of them were overcome with emotion.
Qiao Hua did not let the success go to his head. Instead, he calmed himself and approached the blood tree. After regaining his absolute tranquility, he inspected the blood tree carefully.
After four hundred years of growth, the sapling had grown into an ancient tree of the firmament.
Not an inch of grass grew within a perimeter of fifty meters.
The top of the tree was thick and scarlet red like the evening maple in late autumn; it was breathtaking. Qiao Hua, however, did not raise his head. His gaze was fixated on the black streaks on the tree trunk.
The dull-red tree trunk was covered with black patterns like a totem from the ancient times. It exuded an indescribable gloom and evil.
"Teacher, what is this black decorative design?" Qiao Hua's student gathered up his courage and asked.
"Blood traces." Qiao Hua did not move his gaze. His finger ran lightly across the black patters as he continued, "During the Cultivation Era, it was a taboo in blood-refinement. Very few know about this now. Senior Si Nan's extensive knowledge in blood-refined techniques was startling."
The people's expressions changed to one of admiration. Teacher Qiao was indeed erudite.
In their eyes, blood-refined techniques were mysterious and unfamiliar. Much of their understanding about the subject touched only upon objects used during the techniques.
To them, the teachers who pursued research in the bizarre such as objects of blood-refinement were like valuable. The rusty entrance was locked and covered with gray dust-a treasure left behind by the Cultivation Era. It could be worth less than a penny, or it could change the world.
To date, this door remained locked tight, and nobody had managed to open it.
While blood-refined objects were not destroyed, nobody was able to use or find anything wondrous about them. The long history and experience left behind by the Cultivation Era was unimaginable for the people of the Avalon of Five Elements after all. Even objects left behind by the mysterious and neglected blood-refined technique were not rare to see.
Apart from Ai Hui's Blood Bandage, which was made of a special material, most of the objects were considered useless and placed in a corner to collect dust. Only those with special uses were kept.
Everyone held their breath, not daring to exhale.
Qiao Hua's expression became bewitched. The more he understood, the more he sensed the coordination, power, and beauty in the blood traces on the tree trunk. It was as though he gazed into the sea of history of the Cultivation Era. In this humble corner was a fascinating blood-colored cloud that while not formidable, had never been destroyed or gone extinct.
What an era that people would yearn for!
Qiao Hua's thoughts wandered far and away. He could not imagine the vastness of the Cultivation Era. To think that the blood-refined techniques, fit only to be on the sidelines, had not yet gone extinct. And it set off such shocking waves.
He remained in a befuddled state for a moment before regaining his senses. Strength and confidence returned to his body once more.
Perhaps blood-refined techniques used to be formidable, but now the times had changed. It was an era of elemental energy, and it was his era.
"Number seven medicine!" he confidently said to his students.
The rattan basket that was being carried by a student suddenly wiggled, and the sticks forming the basket separated to expose the contents within. In it were flower pods hanging from rattan sticks, and each pod was labeled with a number.
Finding the number seven flower bud, he inserted a thread of elemental energy.
The flower bud slowly blossomed. Inside, a crystal-clear bamboo joint containing a black liquid appeared before everyone. It was difficult to breed crystal bamboo joints as their rate of growth was slow. As such, they tended to be on the pricier side and were used to store precious medications.
The student gingerly took out the crystal bamboo joint. The black liquid medicine inside was like black lava. Even with the bamboo joint containing it, everyone could feel the heat waves.
Qiao Hua's confidence was not without basis. He had thoroughly studied every detail in Si Nan's notes to purposefully creating several types of liquid medicines for different contingencies.
For now, the situation was still within his control, and he was sufficiently prepared.
"Everyone, retreat by fifty meters," he commanded gravely.
Without any objections, everyone quickly retreated by fifty meters. They widened their eyes, afraid to miss out on any details. This would surely be an unforgettable moment in their entire lives.
The fearful blood disaster was finally going to meet its end.
Qiao Hua took a deep breath and surprisingly felt slightly nervous. After careful consideration, he was confident that he had considered all aspects. His gaze became determined.
He cautiously removed the cap of the crystal bamboo. An unpleasant odor gushed out. Without a change in expression, he overturned it along the blood traces on the tree trunk.
The last drop of black medicine dripped out from the crystal bamboo and permeated through the tree trunk.
Qiao Hua had a relieved expression. The medication that he came up with was the bane of the blood poison. It could be considered to be another form of toxin that would directly counteract against the blood poisoning. It would spread in the same way, and there was no escape for anything already infected.
The branches exhibited signs of blackening. Qiao Hua became excited; it was going to start!
The black color began to spread, and the leaves fell in succession. All around them, the blood-red leaves descended and swirled like falling snow. Qiao Hua gave a hearty laugh.
Oh, what a pretty sight!
In a flash, the ancient tree was barren without any leaves on it.
Qiao Hua was pleased with himself when out of the corner of his eyes, he caught sight of a dried-up twig. His pupils constricted, his expression frozen in place.
A newly grown sprout that was even more sparkling with a brighter red tint.
He stared blankly at what had been bare branches that were now filled with new sprouts that were blood-red and growing at an astonishing speed.
In the blink of an eye, the treetop was completely filled, similar to a bewitching sea of blood.
Without warning, the blood-red grass fifty meters away began to grow rapidly. In the midst of the surprised shouts and screams, it was like a paranormal beast with its ferocious maws wide open.
The blood-red ripple expanded outwards at an alarming speed.