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 Chapter 172: A Giant's Back

Translator: TYZ Editor: Lis

Driven by his overwhelming anger, Ai Hui expelled from his body the "spiritual force" that bloated him into the ground. His entire body felt an indescribable relief at once.

Boom!

The earth shook and the mountains trembled.

The ground directly beneath him was immediately reduced to a fine powder. The surrounding soil arced into the air, blasting in all directions. Everywhere else around him was in complete chaos.

More fatal was the mass of gray smoke that exploded without warning.

Accompanied by a terrifying hiss, the gray cloud burst through the area like a hurricane.

The gusts of air was a sickle of the grim reaper, withering and killing all that it passed.

The mastiff broke into a run. The gray cloud behind it was a monstrous tsunami, crushing everything in its way.

One after another, rattan balls flew across the mastiff's field of vision. Already possessing a trace of self-awareness, the mastiff knew that each rattan ball contained a blood fiend like itself.

A gray tint diffused like an ugly and dreadful mold over the rattan balls. The breathing inside them became increasingly weaker until they disappeared altogether.

One of the blood fiends inside a rattan ball seemed to sense the danger and attempted to break out. But as the gray cloud swept past, its body suddenly froze as the ash-gray spread over its body. When the last vestiges of red were overtaken-bang!-the blood fiend exploded into a cloud of gray dust that scattered through the air.

The fear in the mastiff's eyes grew deeper. As the blood traces on its body began to crack and a red glow appeared underfoot, its running speed inexplicably increased.

From overhead, the circular, gray cloud could be seen spreading outward in ripples of death that expanded without end in the sea of blood.

Not a single area of the red valley was spared from the immense and terrifying circle of death that was now more than ten kilometers in radius.

In the center of the gray circle of death was a pillar of gray smoke that reached into the skies. It was congealed without sign of dissipating and resembled an enormous gray dragon that bared its fangs and brandished its claws.

The mastiff had escaped all the way to the mountain peak, its body drenched in blood. Fresh blood continued to ooze from its skin, making it look like a bloody wolf. It panted heavily and stared firmly at the figure that climbed its way out of the soil from the middle of the gray valley.

Fear, there was only fear in its eyes.

The pillar of smoke that resembled a gray dragon rose straight into the sky, becoming the backdrop of that figure's frail back. At that moment, from the mastiff's perspective, that figure was a grim reaper who had just climbed out of a hellish swamp to arrive in this world.

Ai Hui felt dizzy and weak as he picked himself up from the ground. The soil beneath his feet had become a powder, with texture smoother than flour's.

He surveyed his surroundings with a blank look on his face.

The dense, blood-colored vegetation had disappeared, replacing his surroundings with the gray wilderness. All plants had been reduced to thick piles of gray residue, as if burned and reduced to ashes.

Only now did Ai Hui realize that he stood in a valley.

Were all these caused by him?

He could not believe his eyes. After a second-long daze, he jumped up and broke into a run.

Why wouldn't he flee now while One Thousand Yuan was away? Should he wait for her to come back before starting his escape?

The fighting capabilities of One Thousand Yuan were enigmatic and unpredictable. He definitely did not want to encounter her again.

Ai Hui began to notice some changes in his body, the most obvious being his running speed which was much faster than it had been in the past. The forest was deathly silent, sending a shiver down Ai Hui's spine.

He did not want to stay an extra second in this godforsaken place.

Once he oriented himself in the right direction, he ran with all his might. He was pleased to encounter not a single blood fiend on his sprint through the forest. When he thought of how One Thousand Yuan was able to amass the power of blood fiends, however, he trembled in fear and sped up.

In the skies above Central Pine City, the mayor and the dean were observing the distant pillar of smoke with ashen faces. Not only them, but the faces of the elementalists behind them had similarly drained of all color. Central Pine City was in a state of hysteria.

The explosion just now resembled thunderclaps that rattled the earth and shook the mountains. The entirety of Central Pine City had felt it.

"I wonder which expert did that?" The dean gulped his saliva anxiously, a hopeful look flickering in his eyes.

If there was an expert that took action, they were saved. There was one in Central Pine City, but he was an embroidery expert, not a fighting one.

Given that there were a few youths of nobility in the city, it was not surprising for an expert to show up and save them.

Wang Zhen appeared calm, but the fear in his eyes revealed the uneasiness within. "If there's an expert passing by that area, then he will definitely come here as well. We'll find out soon enough."

He was not as optimistic as the dean.

His mind was filled with images brought back by the scouts who had been in the forest beyond city limits. So far, only three scouts had returned, and only one managed to successfully deliver the images. The elementalists who had signed up for this mission numbered forty-six.

Of the forty-six people, only three survived. Wait, four people survived.

Wang Zhen spotted a figure, vaguely familiar, running out from the forest. Soon enough, Wang Zhen identified him as Ai Hui, the young fellow with remarkable swordsmanship.

He noticed that Ai Hui was covered in grime and dirt, appearing extremely pathetic. He seemed to have suffered a lot, but since he was able to survive and return, his luck was rather good.

When Ai Hui dashed out of the forest and saw the city gate of Central Pine City, he almost cried tears of joy.

Soon, an elementalist came from the city to receive him. "Did you manage to succeed? Where's the movie bean?"

"Movie bean?" Ai Hui laughed bitterly. "I wasn't able to record anything; I was busy running for my life."

The goddamned One Thousand Yuan!

If not for that goddamned girl, he would have completed his mission. But he was so busy running for his life from One Thousand Yuan, how could he have had the time to use the movie bean? When Ai Hui recalled the events, however, he felt that it had not been an easy task for him to survive. His regret at not using the movie bean then lessened significantly.

The elementalist's disappointment was displayed openly. He flew towards the mayor while shaking his head. The information he obtained from Ai Hui regarding the situation inside the forest did not differ much from the other survivors' accounts.

The elementalist still passed Ai Hui his reward. The mayor had really paid a hefty price for nothing....

The reward was exceedingly generous. When Ai Hui saw the contents, his previously gloomy face brightened instantly. The reward nearly met all of their requirements.

Wang Zhen knew from experience that the more deaths there were, the more generous the reward had to be. Otherwise, who would sign up next time?

Upon returning to the Vanguard Training Hall, Ai Hui received cheers from Shi Xueman and the others. From the day of his departure, they had been frightened and anxious, and though it had only been for a short period of time, they felt as though a year had passed.

When they saw Ai Hui safe and sound, they finally laid their worries to rest. Shi Xueman, Duanmu Huanghun, and the others suddenly realized that Ai Hui had naturally become their indispensable pillar of support.

Fatty, who was training hard off to the side, wanted to come over to join them as well, but Ai Hui gave him a hard stare and yelled, "Continue your training! Don't stop!"

Fatty's face drooped immediately.

"What's going on outside? What happened just now?" Duanmu Huanghun could not help but ask. He was curious and worried.

His query immediately caught everyone's attention. They were all frightened by the events happening outside the city.

Shi Xueman noticed the grime and dirt on Ai Hui's body. Though he was not injured, she could tell that he was exhausted. She said concernedly, "Go and rest first. We'll talk again after your rest."

Duanmu Huanghun felt somewhat embarrassed and agreed with Shi Xueman.

Ai Hui was indeed weary. The whole day had been a complicated and ever-changing experience with multiple struggles with death. Now that he had survived the calamity, exhaustion surged through his body like a flood to the point that he could not keep his eyes open.

After saying goodnight to everyone, he returned to his room and fell asleep immediately.

.....

In the sky above the valley.

When the red-dressed girl rushed to the scene and saw the gray valley below her, her face turned ashen, and she clenched her fists tightly. She did not register the pain of her nails digging into her flesh.

All of her efforts, all gone.

Besides the mastiff she had been forced to interrupt, every outstanding blood fiend she had found nearby were in this valley.

To ensure security and secrecy, she chose this valley to carry out the blood refinement. She had an exacting nature that kept her from approving of most blood fiends around her, and so her standards for choosing them were high. In order to search for these blood fiends, she had spent an inordinate amount of time and energy.

However, right now, nothing was left.

Gradually, her anger cooled. She knew clearly that fellow's capability. He could not have caused all of this.

She disliked the aura being emitted by the imposing and congealed pillar of gray smoke before her.

It came from not only the pillar of smoke but also the entire valley, and she loathed it.

She landed on the ground and lowered her body to observe the gray residue beneath her feet.

They weren't ashes, she thought to herself.

For unknown reasons, she found this gray residue somewhat familiar, but still she hated them, more than she found them familiar in fact.

The surface of the entire valley appeared as though it had been plowed. With a solemn look, she approached the pillar of smoke. She clearly remembered that this was where she had carried out the blood refinement for that fellow.

She stopped in her tracks, noticing something strange beneath her feet. She lowered her body once more and grabbed a handful of soil. Her expression changed.

No gravel, stones, or anything solid-the soil in her hand was so smooth that it resembled flour.

She recalled that terrifying wave of energy. That surging force must have been directed towards the ground.

She could not imagine what kind of attack would cause this to happen. The sedimentary layer in the valley was not thick, and beneath it was a layer of hard rocks.

Suddenly, s he brandished her long, red sleeves.

Whoosh!

Howling gales swept through the valley, sweeping up the soil and gray residue into the sky.

The red-dressed girl expressionlessly brandished her sleeves continuously. Layer after layer, the soil left the ground, revealing the earth's crust before her.

Seven meters below the surface, there was an extensive hollow in the solid granite layer.

And in the middle of that hollow was a long trench nine meters long, scored with sections of deep gashes.

It was a back's imprint of the spinal column, and the varying indentations on the left and right of the trench were the back muscle imprints. They were extremely clear despite being engraved on a layer of solid granite seven meters below the surface.

The red-dressed girl was dumbstruck. She had thought it to be an ultimate move related to fists or legs.

It was actually the back....

What sort of move related to the back could hold such power?

A flurry of questions ran through her mind before she finally settled on one.

Who exactly was this fellow?

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