Chapter 170: The Sword Embryo and the Bandage
Translator: YH Editor: Lis
The sword embryo's throbbing felt like an endlessly beating heart.
The complex pattern of blood traces was rapidly shifting over Ai Hui's entire body like a swarm of poisonous ants. Large quantities of blood poison were transforming Ai Hui's body from within, and a faintly sweet scent wafted from his body.
A violent, murderous power was steadily produced by his blood-transformed body.
Blood traces from all over his body began to compress, aggregating towards the space between his eyebrows. They became sleeker and more elegant, with increasing activity. As they surrounded a blank space between his brows, they took on the shape of diminutive flames.
The blood traces seeped towards his brow, appearing as a thin, crimson layer on Ai Hui's skin. The sweet scent became thicker.
As if covered by a thick bloody paste, the sword embryo's activity slowed.
An unceasing torrent of blood poison flowed more furiously from within the tree roots.
As soon as the new blood traces appeared on Ai Hui's body, they quickly rushed towards the space between his brows. It was as though a powerful magnet resided there, attracting them.
At that moment, the inactive bandages on his arms noiselessly coiled its way around Ai Hui's body. As if controlled by invisible hands, the Blood Bandages worked in synchrony, with one end wrapping down from his forehead and the other starting from his feet. Layer by layer, he was tightly wound, and in the blink of an eye, Ai Hui's entire body was bundled up tightly like a dumpling. Interestingly enough, the Blood Bandages deliberately avoided wrapping the tree roots.
A single blood trace appeared on Ai Hui's palm, penetrating through his skin and surfacing on the outside of the bandage.
As if it had a life of its own, the blood trace moved along the bandage towards his forehead.
It seemed like nothing had changed.
The blood trace became duller upon moving past Ai Hui's elbow.
Extremely fine veins appeared along the bandage, absorbing blood from the blood traces as they moved along; their bright red color gradually faded until they turned gray.
The sword embryo that had almost been overcome by the immense pressure from the blood traces sprang back to life upon sensing that victory was now possible. It momentarily paused all activity when the blood traces surfaced on the bandages before restarting its throbbing pulse one second later, speeding up to an even higher level of activity than before. The cold, frigid sensation of metal pervaded the air atop Ai Hui's brows.
At the same time, an attractive force was present.
Droplets of colorless light were extracted from the blood traces, amassing into a glinting needle mid-air before penetrating back into Ai Hui's body. A soft sword cry rang out from the point of entry.
The blood traces had lost all luster as well as color.
While moving along the Blood Bandage, the blood trace's color began to dull, and by the time it reached his shoulders, nothing was left of the bright red that once illuminated it.
The ashen remnant then became a thin wisp of smoke, dispersing in the air and vanishing from the bandage.
Ai Hui's mummified body was heavily emitting gray smoke.
In contrast to the blood poison's sweet scent, the gray smoke had a raw, fishy odor. Upon contact with it, the tree's blood-red leaves rapidly turned to ash.
The thick shroud of smoke engulfing Ai Hui looked like a gray cocoon from afar.
Looking up, the mastiff grew suspicious. The transformation occurring had proceeded well beyond its understanding, but it seemed to sense something monstrous lurking within the cocoon of gray smoke. A primal fear rose from within it.
It retreated a few steps, scanning around for further signs of change. Ascertaining that all else was fine, the mastiff lazily relaxed on the ground once more.
A while later, Ai Hui drowsily regained consciousness.
He had been awoken by an unusual sound. It was rather unfamiliar yet strangely familiar as well. Listening intently, he finally recognized the sound of a sword being unsheathed, only he had never before heard of a sword being unsheathed for such an inordinate amount of time.
Was he dreaming?
He often had such dreams back in the swordsman school. He would dream of tall, exquisite palaces that reached into the clouds, of swordsmen who could fly on swords, or of majestic mountains that cast their shadows onto heavenly sword formations, as well as all manner of interesting spiritual beasts...
He would dream of mystical swordplay manuals, the flying swords of legends-even dreaming of those figures who once dominated the entire world.
It had been a while since he had such bizarre dreams. The naive and curious minds of the young would inevitably be eroded by reality and time.
The mental state of humans were associated with time and even more closely with experiences. Ai Hui had never experienced a childhood filled with imagination; instead, he had lived an unimaginable life.
Ai Hui's first reaction to the unceasing sounds was to think that he was dreaming.
He soon realized that he wasn't in a dream, however.
The sword embryo's throbbing was more forceful than he had ever experienced. It emitted a ceaseless cry, and he could feel the muscles in his body resonating along with it.
The darkness before his eyes perhaps played a role, but Ai Hui noticed that he was acutely sensitive to bodily sensations. He could feel a stream of energy swimming around his body like a large school of fish, and strands of it seemed to resonate with the sword embryo, trembling slightly with each pulse.
Ai Hui was startled by this sensation. What is that?
Never before had he experienced such energy strands. He could sense the power contained within them, but it was completely different from anything he had ever encountered.
Well, Ai Hui quietly mocked himself, he hadn't exactly experienced other kinds of power either.
But he was certain that this torrential energy was vastly different from the elemental energy he had been developing. Could it be a new kind of elemental energy?
Ai Hui was uncertain. In matters of elemental energy, he had only recently graduated from being a complete rookie.
There existed too many kinds of elemental energy that he had yet to see.
Now was not the time to think about such things, however; he had to find a way to escape.
Finally sober, Ai Hui attempted to struggle his way out but soon realized that he had lost all control over his body. He could not move an inch.
Ai Hui remained composed. He had, after all, been through scenarios far worse than this.
He repeatedly encouraged himself-there had to be a way out.
He started by inspecting his body closely, becoming increasingly bewildered as he went on.
It wasn't surprising that the five residences and eight palaces within his body were completely wrecked; he still had an impression of what had happened before losing consciousness.
Were these strands of energy a part of the blood poison?
No, the blood poison was much more impetuous, more unrelenting. But the strands of energy flowing through his body were mild, even when compared to the metal elemental energy he had personally developed. These energy strands clearly originated from outside his body, outside....
Ai Hui suddenly realized that he was wrapped in the Blood Bandage. How strange, he thought, as his consciousness effortlessly slipped into the Blood Bandage.
He felt as if he had entered a different dimension, one filled with the scent of blood.
A thick sea of blood stretched as far as his eyes could see. Immense waves rose up across the violent sea, as if a monster had awoken from deep within to taste the air with its tongue.
Across the sky, streaks of blood traces flowed like rivers of blood.
Every time a tongue of blood lapped at the sky, glowing essences from the blood traces were dragged down like a waterfall. Ai Hui's heart started palpitating. He felt his mind quiver at the strange, bloody sight, and he had to fight to maintain his consciousness.
Seeing the blood essences made him extremely uncomfortable; he did not like it one bit.
The blood traces in the air started to fade.
In his mind, the past forms of Blood Bandages flashed. He further affirmed that the Blood Bandage was an artifact from the Cultivation Era. It was truly a time of unimaginable power when even a nameless, tattered piece of cloth could possess godly powers.
Witnessing the blood traces' transformation, Ai Hui finally understood where the strands of energy came from.
The Blood Bandage had extricated the blood essence from the blood poison, allowing the sword embryo to then draw closer the energy remaining in the blood poison.
Ai Hui recalled the words of the lady in red.
Blood spiritual force.
He had promptly dismissed her words as a lie, thinking this so-called blood spiritual force had to be similar to spiritual force only in name.
But what if the blood poison was truly blood spiritual force?
Thinking this triggered his memories, and the phrase "blood refinement" surfaced from his memories.
If the blood poison truly was blood spiritual force, then it had to be closely related to blood refinement. How had the Blood Bandage been able to absorb the reddish blood essence? As an artifact from blood sects, it had to be capable of devouring objects related to blood.
Many swordplay manuals mentioned blood-refinement techniques as well as the blood sects that had been considered heretical during the Cultivation Era due to their cruel practices. They often used spiritual beasts in their trainings, or in more extreme cases, human sacrifices. For many years, blood sects were seen as those dabbling with demonic forces, untolerated by orthodox sects.
The Blood Bandages had to be devouring the blood-related components from the blood poison.
Subtract the blood-related components from blood spiritual force and what do you get?
Ai Hui had a tremendous revelation.
This answer left him stunned for a good few minutes. Never in a million years did he imagine that he would come to such a conclusion, but he simply could not think of any other answer.
Spiritual force, it's really spiritual force! The force that led to the blossoming of the Cultivation Era, the force that had supposedly vanished from this world.
Ai Hui was exhilarated.
He was no longer able to remain calm. The glory of the Cultivation Era was still deeply imprinted in everyone's mind. With this spiritual force, he could undoubtedly execute all of the mythical sword techniques found in the manuals of old.
Ai Hui forced himself to calm down.
Regardless of the spiritual force's power, he was still in a precarious situation.
He attempted to activate a sword seal, hoping to escape through such means. However, he soon realized his naivety. The spiritual force within his body had a mild reaction, but he quickly found that he had no means of circulating it. After all, Ai Hui had never nurtured the channels required to utilize spiritual force. The cultivators had a strict system comprised of spiritual force, its corresponding channels known as meridians, spell seals, and lastly, one's sword. If any one of these components were missing, nothing could be achieved.
Ai Hui laughed bitterly before regaining his composure. He reminded himself once more that he had survived far worse than this.
Levelheaded, Ai Hui began to explore ways to utilize this spiritual force.