Chapter 35: Harvest and Explode
Translator: Irene Editor: X
As Ai Hui waved his arm, he felt that he was strong enough to kill a bull. Lou Lan's skills were indeed trustworthy.
"Lou Lan, I'm going to train."
Ai Hui carried the dried food and water he had prepared during the morning and waved to Lou Lan.
With a clap, Lou Lan exploded into a lump of yellow sand and molded into a tight, yellow sand fist. "You go, Ai Hui!"
Ai Hui laughed and hoisted the bag over his shoulder tightly before exiting the Vanguard Training Hall.
Walking on the streets, Ai Hui clearly felt that there was a much bigger crowd than usual. Soon he understood that these people were mostly students from other cities who came over to participate in the blind battles. As he listened,their heated discussions involved experts they had met, mysterious earth elementalists, Zu Yan, and so on.
Ai Hui was baffled by the news. He had long forgotten about his disguise as an earth elementalist, so he did not put two and two together.
Very quickly, however, he heard something that he could comprehend.
"Have you heard? Gu Tianning challenged Duanmu Huanghun to a battle, but Duanmu Huanghun caught a cold and was unable to show up. What a pity."
"Ah, that's really a pity! I have seen Gu Tianning's skills. He's powerful! He ranked within the top fifty of the Induction Ground at fourty-ninth! Plus, he's a berserker in battle. Duanmu Huanghun is the number one talent in Central Pine City. He's the most outstanding kid in his family, so it definitely would have been an intense battle!"
"That's why it's unfortunate. Initially, Gu Tianning thought Duanmu Huanghun was finding an excuse. He only found out later that Duanmu Huanghun was really out with a cold and couldn't attend classes for a few days."
Ai Hui sneered while listening at the side. He despised Duanmu Huanghun greatly. What cold? Who was this guy fooling? If he had not personally cured Duanmu Huanghun, Ai Hui would have been deceived by this absurd excuse.
Duanmu Huanghun appeared to be decent, but it seemed like his morals were questionable.
Ai Hui, who was inwardly disdaining Duanmu Huanghun, soon forgot about this news after traveling less than ten meters. Ai Hui never cared about things that were irrelevant to him. Although Duanmu Huanghun was a classmate, he was no different from any passerby in Ai Hui's eyes.
Ai Hui was very cautious toward the world. He was insulated, apathetic, and did not care if this planet perished or prospered. He was only concerned about his own small world.
The word "friends" had a completely different meaning to Ai Hui.
Fatty was unscrupulous, stingy, greedy, and timid, but he was actually also a softhearted and kind person who tried to be on good terms with everyone. In the Wilderness, he was the one who buried the workers who had passed away. Only Fatty would do something like this. Ai Hui would not since he found it meaningless.
He only cared about Fatty who was his friend during times of tribulation.
Fatty had saved Ai Hui's life more than once.
The worst incident occurred when the team was attacked by a bunch of dire beasts. Half of the elementalists died. The laborers, needless to say, were practically all killed or injured. Ai Hui was seriously injured and had lost consciousness. Trembling, Fatty pulled him out from the pile of dead bodies. While the elementalists panicked and just wanted to be on their way, no one bothered to care for the laborers. Fatty carried him, ran with the remaining team for five days, and lost ten kilograms doing this. That was the only time he had been skinny. When Ai Hui regained consciousness for the first time, Fatty hugged him while wailing loudly, creating a scene Ai Hui could never forget.
Now there was Lou Lan. Probably because Lou Lan was a sand puppet, Ai Hui did not guard against him that much.
He felt this situation was quite good. It would allow him to direct all his energy into his training. His world was small, but it was all he needed.
Upon exiting Central Pine City, Ai Hui quickened his steps. No one noticed this youth with the shabby cloth bag. Although he had just earned a hefty sum of three hundred and fifty thousand yuan, he could not bear to spend it. His shabby cloth bag was still a shabby cloth bag. His dried rations were still hard and dehydrated pancakes.
In the future, he would have many necessities that required money.. These blind battles made Ai Hui realize that he was very naive for hoping to earn money through competitions. Even though he had joined forces with Lou Lan, his last victory had been a fluke within a fluke. Such luck would never befall him again. The blind battles within Central Pine City were now widely acclaimed and the number of experts competing started to increase. His chances of winning would only become slimmer.
Previously, he could depend on his familiarity with night battles to have an advantage over other contestants, but in front of all kinds of strange fighting methods and the absolute elemental energy disparity, his advantage became negligible.
No matter what, experience could never replace skills. Otherwise, he would not have to attend classes in the Induction Ground.
When he neared the Suspending Golden Pagoda, he met two city guards who reminded him about roaming wild beasts and warned him to pay attention to safety. Ai Hui was a little taken aback, but he expressed his thanks anyway. He had only been away for a few days, yet wild beasts started to appear.
It looked like he had to be careful, so Ai Hui raised his alertness. Having survived the Wilderness, he naturally would not be the least bit careless.
Arriving at the pagoda, Ai Hui scanned his surroundings meticulously. It was more or less the same as when he had left this place a few days back. There were no marks left by the wild beasts, causing Ai Hui to feel a little puzzled.
Although he was not sure how the beast sightings came to be reported, Ai Hui had extensive experience in this area and greater faith in his own judgment.
Upon retrieving his well-hidden Backless Armor and seeing that it was safe without a scratch, Ai Hui was relieved. This armor was quite expensive, and it could be considered as an important asset.
He put the armor on and fastened it before starting his unique training.
When Ai Hui threw himself into the pagoda once again, he felt different from before. The metal wind still pierced into his bones, but the pain induced by the silver strands of metal element had lessened significantly.
This caught Ai Hui's attention. After careful sensing and observation, he realized there was a slight change in his muscles. They were tougher, more durable, and denser. His muscles were initially like rice straw , while the strands of metal element were like steel needles that permeated into his body and caused shooting pains. Now, however, his muscles became more solid. The rice straw had become bamboo, naturally reducing the pain.
The metal elemental energy contained within these silver strands was much more condensed than the energy from typical sources. This promoted the growth of muscle strength more effectively than the common metal elemental energy.
This discovery incited Ai Hui. He knew he had found the right path.
There was still a lack of affinity, but he had better endurance. Although his absorption was less efficient, he could absorb a higher grade of elemental energy. The higher the grade, the more effective the training was for the body.
There was nothing more exciting than unearthing a path that belonged to him.
For this session, Ai Hui persevered for an even longer time.
His day became richer and more fulfilling. Ai Hui was very willing to endure the dull and dreary training.
Be it the absorption of elemental energy or the [Arching Fish Back], Ai Hui was full of vigor Before, Ai Hui only used the [Arching Fish Back] to disperse the silver strands of metal element in his body, but the previous blind battle had made him realize the effectiveness of this move. It could be formidable if trained properly.
Even an expert who practiced an absolute art and activated two palaces was knocked senseless by his [Arching Fish Back].
Currently, it was definitely his most powerful technique!
Ai Hui had brought a whole month's worth of dried food. He also found a water source about two kilometers away. In that desolate Suspending Golden Pagoda, he started diligently training day and night without pause.
It was not hard work to him. No one knew how much he had wished to be able to focus on training without having to worry about anything else during his time in the Wilderness.
It felt so good!
Being able to feel his dripping sweat was something that felt really good!
He could sense his progress every day. They were tiny, but firm and steady improvements that gave him a feeling of accomplishment.
Yes, his world was this small. He had never thought of saving the planet or becoming a hero. Training hard daily, without worrying about being attacked by wild beasts or about tomorrow's plans, was enough. How could such a life not be blissful?
He could not think of a happier life. He wished for this lifestyle to continue forever.
To Ai Hui, who was immersed in his training, one month ended in the blink of an eye. He only become aware of the fact that a month had passed when he reached into his cloth bag and felt that it was empty.
During that one month, Ai Hui did not waste a single second.
As he removed his Backless Armor, his face was full of surprise. His progress was so great that even he himself could not believe it.
Under the sunlight, a faint metallic sheen appeared on his skin. He had witnessed such a phenomenon before, but only from some of the authentic, master elementalists.
His skin became even harder. He tried using a sharp piece of stone to scratch his skin but only created a shallow mark. His strength had obviously increased. His muscles, which had been refined by metal elemental energy, could produce greater explosive force.
His power was not weak to begin with, but it had now become alarmingly strong. Even without utilizing elemental energy, his base strength was five times more powerful.
The elemental energy within his body had grown even more obviously. In the past, his elemental energy was thin like a thread, but now it was as thick as a toothpick
The growth in his elemental energy would bring about a comprehensive growth to his fighting capabilities.
The force of his [Arching Fish Back] was also boosted compared to before. It was evident from the big dent on the pagoda's wall. Before, the subtle indentation could only be seen with the naked eye when viewed up close. Now, it was extremely obvious and could easily be noticed.
Judging from this pace, another two months was all Ai Hui needed before attempting to activate his natal residences.
Ai Hui was not in a rush to activate the residences because he could feel his continuous progress, indicating his tempering had not reached bottleneck. His experience in the Wilderness taught him that a robust body was essential at all times.
He witnessed some master elementalists perish, even though they possessed exceptional elemental energy, due to weak physiques.
His body could take it, so why shouldn't he take this chance to fortify it even further? Ai Hui managed to control his eager heart since he knew he was on the right path. He had seen a lot of swordplay manuals from the big sects and none failed to highlight the importance of the basics. These books should contain logic and truth if they had been passed down over tens of thousands of years.
Ai Hui started salivating after suddenly recalling Lou Lan's elemental energy replenishing soup. Like a gust of wind he rushed toward Central Pine City.
He was unaware that in the month he was gone, the world outside had been turned upside down.
Defeated, Zu Yan closed himself off from the world to train. Seeking a rematch in half a year, he proclaimed a written challenge addressed to that mysterious earth elementalist. Challenge notices were placed outside every institution within the Induction Ground.
Shi Xueman trained diligently as well. She felt that her skills were insufficient to defeat her enemy and was preparing for more arduous closed door training to sharpen her combat ability.
Central Pine City had become the most popular city within the Induction Ground. The blind battling trend swept across the Induction Ground since it was a novel system of competition that attracted much interest. Teachers discussed blind battling techniques in classes and some more progressive schools even started to prepare lessons dedicated to blind battles.
During this month, within Central Pine City, the limelight belonged solely to one person-Duanmu Huanghun.
Duanmu Huanghun was renowned as the number one genius among Central Pine City's current batch of students and people thought highly of him. He was also one of the more popular students in the city.
The rise in popularity of blind battling brought along many expert fighters from outside of Central Pine. When many talented combatants gathered, there were naturally people who wanted to challenge Duanmu Huanghun, especially after he rejected Gu Tianning's duel request.
Sure, he had a cold, but many still scorned and looked down on him. Rumors spread that he was strong in appearance, but weak in reality, leading many fame-seeking students to challenge him one after another.
Duanmu Huanghun consequently exploded!
He consecutively defeated nine seniors, who were all at least four years older than him, within a week and spontaneously silenced the gossip.
But this was just the beginning. With a belly full of anger, Duanmu Huanghun wasn't satisfied just yet. During the next week, he headed down to different training halls to declare challenges to their respective experts.
Fifteen consecutive wins in a week!
One of his defeated opponents even had six palaces activated. Such a terrifying combat record immediately boosted his reputation within the Induction Ground.
The bloodthirsty Duanmu Huanghun had no intention to stop, however.
In the third week, he fought his way out of Central Pine City and into the rankings of the Induction Ground. He challenged and defeated the forty-ninth ranked Gu Tianning, the thirty-third ranked Cui Zhiyuan, and the twenty-fifth ranked Fu Hua.
The entire Induction Ground was momentarily silenced.
He jumped up to seventeenth in the newly announced rankings, becoming the only new student to place within the top twenty. He also became the leading student of this year's new students.
Historically speaking, the number of new students who managed to accomplish this could be counted on one hand.
With his outstanding accomplishments, Duanmu Huanghun became one of the finest contenders in the Induction Ground. His astonishing talent and aptitude shocked the Induction Ground's management team. They allowed him to move up to a higher-level school district in order to receive better guidance.
Upon hearing the news, countless school districts were quick to react. Since Duanmu had yet to return to Central Pine City, they took the opportunity to catch him midway and attempted to pull this rare talent into their institutions by offering generous conditions.
What caused everyone to be taken aback was the fact that Duanmu Huanghun rejected all of them.
He publicly declared that he was going to remain in Central Pine and would only accept Teacher Xu's guidance.
This unexpected choice silenced the Induction Ground once again, but since everyone valued him highly now, they decided he was virtuous and respectful of those who had helped him along the way.
Duanmu Huanghun's glorious image received another boost. With his handsome looks, devilish charm, and naturally cool disposition, he became the man of many young girls' dreams. Many of them left their respective institutions in order to follow him as he went around challenging different experts.
No matter where he went, countless beauties trailed behind him.
The once-unknown Central Pine City was now beyond famous and had become a city envied by institutions from all other cities.
And today was the day Duanmu Huanghun was returning to Central Pine City.