Chapter 216: Monstrously Powerful
Translator: YH Editor: CakeHermit
Old Zhang, who had just returned from the mayor's residence, told everyone about the blood crystal's uses. A commotion promptly ensued.
"No wonder that fellow wanted the blood crystals! He had it all planned out!"
"We've suffered terrible losses!"
"What a scheming young man!"
Everyone was engaged in a clamorous discussion. Hearing these comments annoyed Old Zhang. "Stop these ridiculous conjectures, the A-1 unit were the ones who discovered its uses! The higher authorities have rewarded them with four hundred Heaven Merit Points and the mayor's residence has given them additional rewards," he shouted, displeased.
Old Zhang spoke out of admiration for Ai Hui. He hadn't thought much of Ai Hui when they'd first met, but thinking back now, he had become acquaintances with someone impressive. As far as he could remember, no student had ever accumulated this many Heaven Merit Points before graduating.
Everyone was momentarily stunned, but then quickly continued with their discussion.
"Amazing! Those squirts are already so amazing at such a young age, just how much potential do they have?"
"They come from prestigious families, how can we be compared to them?"
"We haven't lost much actually; we can always hunt for more blood crystals. It is more important that we build relationships!"
"Four hundred Heaven Merit Points are enough to request for a small leadership position in the Thirteen Divisions!"
Old Zhang clapped his hands and announced, "Listen to me."
Everyone gradually fell silent and looked at Old Zhang. He was outspoken, magnanimous, and commanded the respect of everyone on his team.
"I suggest that we go out and hunt some blood-traced fiends. Blood crystals can be used to strengthen ourselves, our weapons, and can be exchanged for Heaven Merit Points. The blood fiends are dangerous, but we are all mercenaries who chase riches and honor amidst danger. Hunting dire beasts isn't all that much safer anyway. All of you are brave lads who live life on the edge of a blade. Although money isn't of much use right now, Heaven Merit Points are still good stuff. So what if we die here in the Induction Ground, these are things that we can leave for our loved ones. Does everyone agree with me?"
Old Zhang's words made everyone ponder deeply.
Soon, sounds of affirmation began to ring out among the crowd.
"Definitely! If we have to go out and hunt, we ought to hunt for blood crystals!"
"None of the dire beasts that we can hunt are worth any Heaven Merit Points!"
"Leaving some Heaven Merit Points for my kid sounds like a good idea. Perhaps he'll be able to become an official in the future and lead a stable life."
"What's so good about becoming an official? He could exchange those points for an inheritance! Inheritances that are exchanged with Heaven Merit Points are all excellent!"
Old Zhang nodded his head in satisfaction. He gestured for everyone to quiet down and waited for the noise level to fall before continuing. "We'll follow the old reward distribution rules of the hunting units that everyone is familiar with."
Everyone nodded in agreement. The hunting units were teams that specialized in hunting dire beasts. They had a very well thought out set of rules that governed reward distribution within each unit. Since everyone here had once been a part of such a hunting unit, they were very familiar with the established rules.
"I'm sure many other groups will have the same idea now that blood crystals can be exchanged for Heaven Merit Points," explained Old Zhang. "As such, we have to be alert and guard against other groups as well. Also, everyone here may be familiar with dire beasts, but none of us know much about blood-traced fiends. I'd advise all of you to put your lives first and avoid engaging blood-traced fiends that are too powerful. There'll be more to hunt as long as we stay alive."
Light-hearted laughter could be heard from the crowd. These were practical words that they've heard many times.
Old Zhang's group was indeed not the only one which became more active following the announcement. Many others had set their eyes on the blood-traced fiends as well. Some were after wealth while others were in it to become stronger, still others did it for a chance to live. All these elementalists with different motives had the exact same target.
Blood-traced fiends were no longer actively avoided. They were now actively sought after.
The number of elementalists roaming the streets increased exponentially. The battles that they fought also became even more ferocious.
Old Zhang carefully led his members in search of prey. He made sure to maintain his composure, reminding himself that while blood crystals were very valuable, the slightest lapse in attention would see his entire team destroyed by the vicious blood-traced fiends.
"Boss, come and see this!"
One of his front scouts cried out in alarm.
Old Zhang swiftly made his way forward. He saw a familiar figure dashing wildly down the street with a red blur hot on its tail. Everyone could recognize the person being chased, it was Duanmu Huanghun!
Central Pine City's elementalists knew the academy's brightest students well.
The A-1 unit?
Old Zhang found it strange that Duanmu Huanghun was the only person around. Could they be in trouble? Why was he alone?
"Let's follow them. Be on your guards."
The line of elementalists cautiously advanced. They soon heard the unmistakable sounds of battle.
The sounds caught their attention as they quietly moved ahead.
Old Zhang was shocked to see the battle that was occurring before him.
Ai Hui was standing motionlessly in one spot like a wooden puppet and a wretched-looking nine-traced blood cat was chasing after Duanmu Huanghun.
The fiend and the human were standing on opposite sides of the wooden puppet.
The two appeared to be revolving around Ai Hui.
What was going on?
Old Zhang was dumbstruck by the incredibly odd sight.
"Come on Classmate Bangwan!" Lou Lan cheered as loud as he could.
"Don't be afraid Bangwan, Ai Hui won't ask you for money in his current state!" Fatty chimed in.
"Ah, almost there, just a bit closer!"
"Bangwan, what did you do to that cat? Why is it so intent on taking you down?"
Shi Xueman folded her arms across her chest, seemingly enjoying the show.
Duanmu Huanghun was sweating profusely. The blood-traced fiend that Shi Xueman had lured over earlier had been completely shredded by Ai Hui; however, this nine-trace blood cat that Duanmu Huanghun had found appeared to be too fast for this strategy. Duanmu Huanghun had almost been injured by it.
Ai Hui's ridiculously small attack range meant that Duanmu Huanghun had to lure the blood-traced cat extremely close to Ai Hui in order to get it to attack him.
Duanmu Huanghun was, however, hesitant to go near Ai Hui after almost being stabbed by him.
The nine-trace blood cat continued to follow him in circles, completely ignoring Ai Hui. Duanmu Huanghun was so frustrated that he wanted to scream. What kind of lousy blood-traced fiend are you? Can't you see that motionless target right there?
I have to think of something...
Duanmu Huanghun was struck by a brainwave. He cut his movement with a step forward, turning around to face the blood-traced cat before activating his [Viridescent Flower].
Countless vines weaved together to form a huge net in front of him.
The blood-traced cat wasn't expecting something like this net. Unable to react in time, it crashed into the net. The blood-traced cat desperately clawed at the vines, but to no avail. It only managed to break a few of them before becoming completely bound.
The next moment, it was sent flying.
The blood-traced cat was heading towards the motionless Ai Hui.
Old Zhang almost cried out in shock. Was Duanmu Huanghun trying to harm Ai Hui?
Stumbling through the air, the nine-trace blood cat noticed that it was getting closer and closer to Ai Hui. With a blood-red glint in its eyes, it shifted its limber body in midair as it prepared to pounce on him. Claws as sharp as the blade of a knife shot out of its meaty paws, menacingly reflecting the light.
Ai Hui remained completely motionless, seemingly unaware of what was about to happen.
What happened next shocked Old Zhang so much that his cry was stopped dead in his throat.
Just as the nine-trace blood cat entered attacking range, a silver coloured sword ray appeared out of nowhere.
A distinct ringing sound whistled through the air and was soon interrupted by the sound of blades clashing. Ai Hui's sword had collided with the nine-trace blood cat's claws.
Before the sword ray could dissipate, another one emerged in the exact same spot.
One more stroke!
Old Zhang wondered if his eyes were playing tricks on him. The clashing sounds were ringing out in such short intervals that they appeared to blend into one long, clear ring.
The nine-trace blood cat's claws, despite being harder than steel, were reduced to dust.
Almost simultaneously, a slender, crescent moon-shaped sword ray appeared on its abdomen.
The nine-trace blood cat's abdomen had the highest number of blood traces. The crescent shaped sword ray penetrated the blood traces, opening a sleek wound on the abdomen.
The blood-traced cat's pupils dilated as its body became rigid.
But this wasn't the end of the attack. Dots of light lit up its abdomen like a starry night scene.
The wound on its abdomen was ripped open further, becoming a large, gaping hole.
An extremely keen sword ray then sliced its way out of the blood-traced cat's back.
Thin pillars of blood spurted out of the blood-traced cat's back.
Another sword ray emerged out of nowhere, striking the cat's neck. It pierced the blood-traced cat's muscular neck, emitting shards of lightning from within.
All of the attacks, from the moment the blood-traced cat had entered Ai Hui's attack range to the moment it was sent flying off, were executed in a frighteningly short amount of time.
Like a ragged sackbag, the nine-trace blood cat collapsed to the ground. The sword ray on its neck exploded into a burst of radiance with a loud bang.
The nine-trace blood cat was motionless.
So was Ai Hui, who had returned to his wooden puppet state
A deathly stillness followed.
Old Zhang was struck dumb by the speed at which Ai Hui had decimated his opponent. He had never seen or even imagined that something like that was possible.
He looked at the motionless figure and felt a shiver run down his spine. Such terrifying strength!
What kind of swordplay was that?
He had never heard anyone mention something this powerful.
Since the beginning, he had only wanted to make friends. He had heard of the A-1 unit's prestige and fighting prowess, but had never seen it for himself. It wasn't until today that he realized just how formidable Ai Hui was.
Something as dangerous as a blood-traced fiend had been nothing in front of Ai Hui. He had thoroughly destroyed it before it even had a chance to fight back.
So-called elite groups like Old Zhang's were probably nothing in front of Ai Hui as well.
Old Zhang felt his heart quiver.
Their performance wouldn't have been much better than the blood-traced cat's. He decided to warn the other groups to avoid having conflicts with the A-1 unit at all costs.
Shi Xueman and the rest were taken aback as well. Her folded arms had fallen to her sides, her eyes filled with disbelief.
This time around, Ai Hui's attacks were much faster and much more precise!
He had executed three precise sword strokes in such a short amount of time, each one striking the exact same spot on the blood-traced cat's claws. That was how he'd managed to turn them into dust.
How was this bloke capable of improving even when in such an odd state?
Witnessing what had happened left her feeling slightly uncomfortable. Ai Hui's performance was simply unimaginable.
Duanmu Huanghun was dealt an even greater blow. He gaped at Ai Hui as though he had just seen a ghost.
No one could explain the strange state that Ai Hui was in. Duanmu Huanghun felt that it was something similar to spontaneous enlightenment, but that monstrous strength... was he not experiencing breakthroughs?
Duanmu Huanghun unwittingly tightened his fists. Ai Hui had just sliced a nine-trace blood cat like a melon, yet he himself hadn't accomplished much else...
Ai Hui's present state may be something out of this world but...
Duanmu Huanghun doesn't need excuses!
The wide street was completely silent.
All of a sudden, a loud rumbling noise could be heard. The ground began to shake violently.
Shi Xueman and Duanmu Huanghun snapped out of their fright. Looking up, they noticed the huge column of smoke that was rising from a distance away.
"It's the city gate!" Duanmu Huanghun yelled at the top of his lungs.
"The city gate has been breached." Shi Xueman's voice shuddered.
Everyone behind them went pale with fright.
Although Central Pine City was vulnerable to underground attacks, blood fiends that could enter via that route were often small. The city's defenses were responsible for keeping the larger blood fiends out.
Once the city gate falls, however, the larger blood fiends would be free to enter as they pleased. It would be a complete disaster.
The ground was shaking. What was even more fear-inducing was that the tremors were getting closer.
"Run! Blood fiends!"
Screams of fear could be heard nearby. Nobody had the chance to react.
A red flood washed its way onto the streets, engulfing everything in sight.