Chapter 267: Shattered Blood Traces
Translator: YH Editor: X
Tian Kuan did not give up.
He was someone who had returned from the verge of death. The obstacle he currently faced was nothing compared to what he had experienced in the past and was not enough to throw him into despair.
There were 16 blood elementalists under his command, but half of them were injured.
While blood elementalists were much more tenacious compared to regular elementalists, their capabilities were still affected by injuries.
The consecutive failures that these injured blood elementalists had faced were a huge blow to their morale. With morale at an all time low, more and more of them were deserting from Tian Kuan. This batch of blood elementalists were elites who were carefully selected, and as such, had very keen intuitions.
They were quick to figure out that Tian Kuan's method of controlling them had loopholes and managed to exploit these to escape.
Seeing their comrades escape sent the morale of the remaining blood elementalists plummeting even further. Loyalty to the group was dead. Those that remained would definitely seize any opportunity to slip away.
What went wrong?
Tian Kuan could not figure out why nothing was going according to plan.
"Sir, your face?"
A surprised voice rang out from among the blood elementalists.
My face? What's wrong with my face?
Tian Kuan subconsciously touched his face and felt something wet. His hand froze.
Aghast, the other blood elementalists looked at Tian Kuan.
Tian Kuan looked at his fingers and saw that they were stained with blood. The blood was a dusty-red color and had a foul rotting stench. His eyes revealed a deep, troubling fear while his fingers trembled slightly.
He could tell without looking that the blood traces on his face had become like the withered rings of a rotting old stump. The traces had broken in many places, becoming shattered and leaking the dull, greyish-red blood that stained his hands.
Tian Kuan's mind blanked as he fully registered what was happening to him.
The skin on his forehead shrivelled up rapidly, forming deep-set wrinkles that densely covered his entire forehead. His head full of black hair gradually turned white while his large biceps shrank and his spine hunched. In the blink of an eye, Tian Kuan had aged several decades.
The blood elementalists who witnessed this transformation stepped back in horror. It was as if they were staring at a monster.
Not knowing what was going on served only to amplify their fears.
"Shattered blood traces? Why? Why is this happening?"
Tian Kuan's dry, hoarse voice was filled with fear and panic. His tone had completely changed.
He was utterly racked with fear and felt like a cornered beast.
Shattered traces were an indication that a blood elementalists' training had gone down the wrong path and something feared by all blood elementalists. Ruptured blood traces marked the beginning of the end as the blood elementalist would lose the power he had attained. The vital energy of the blood would begin to seep out via these broken blood traces, causing the blood's color to dull. Over time, the blood elementalist's blood would turn into a clear liquid. At this point, the blood elementalist's life would come to an end.
The shattering of blood traces only occurred when one's training had gone horribly wrong.
Where had he gone wrong?
Tian Kuan forced himself to calm down, completely ignoring the blood elementalists who were already fleeing in all directions.
The other blood elementalists were scared off by Tian Kuan's transformation. The biggest consolation that forming blood traces had given them was their increased strength. After seeing Tian Kuan's abrupt deterioration, they finally understood that the path of a blood elementalist was not that easy after all. In fact, it was even riskier.
Although training as an elementalist was relatively slow, it was much safer and would definitely not result in something this terrifying.
They were unsure of what would happen to Tian Kuan, but were certain that he was unusually weak at this point.
A few of the blood elementalists stared at Tian Kuan with hatred in their eyes.
None of the survivors were grateful to Tian Kuan. In fact, their hatred toward him was something they all shared.
Because of Tian Kuan's accumulated strength, they were afraid that he would have some sort of a backup plan. A few of them hesitated for a moment before deciding to slowly retreat. They took off for the forest the moment they saw Tian Kuan's groggy, weakened state.
Tian Kuan's vitality continued to decline as he carefully sieved through his memories to recall his recent actions. He remembered something that immediately roused him from his thoughts.
Why had everything he attempted to accomplish end unfavorably ever since he entered the city? Because he had chosen the wrong path right from the get go. He had never attempted to recruit strength from external sources before. Although he appeared to have planned everything adequately and appeared to have accomplished his recruitment easily, everything was actually pretty messed up. He could clearly see the hatred burning in the eyes of the deserters and knew that they would tear him into pieces at the earliest opportunity.
When did this begin?
His battle with that Infantry Division warrior had left him physically injured and mentally shaken. Soon after, he chanced upon Yu Mingqiu gravely wounding Situ Zhong and became even more alarmed. After entering Central Pine City, he witnessed the Battle of Long Street, which made him feel even more fearful.
Retreating step after step had created fear in his heart, making him filled with trepidation. Although it looked as though everything was within his control, obtaining strength from external sources was the clearest sign that he had lost confidence in himself.
This was his inner demon.
As his self-confidence wavered, his inner demon grew stronger. He was soon overwhelmed by fear.
The precarious balance between life and death was ever so mysterious. As his blood spiritual force transformed, this balance tipped over, resulting in the loss of his attained power and the rupturing of his blood traces.
It would seem that his will had been robbed from him during that fateful encounter with the Infantry Division warrior. Tian Kuan had lost his indomitable spirit.
His pupils suddenly became clear as he extended his legs and leaned on his left arm. Tian Kuan's stance made him look like a three-legged beast. He twisted his body and tapped his right fist against his tailbone.
A crisp popping sound could be heard as a bloody glow appeared on his tailbone.
One by one, he tapped each vertebrae in his spine, causing a series of popping sounds and blood-colored lights to appear on his back.
Tian Kuan stood up and straightened his spine. The wrinkles on his face had completely vanished, and his skin regained its original moisture and smoothness. Only his full head of white hair remained.
The spinal blood had saved his life.
As a god guard, Tian Kuan's training focused mainly on his body. He would store traces of blood within his vertebrae during his daily practice. He had only done this as a backup plan, but little did he know that it would save his life today.
Despite training for so long and undergoing round after round of blood refinement, the spinal blood he had managed to store was merely as thin as a strand of hair.
Although the amount of spinal blood was minuscule, the power it possessed was incredible. Once utilized, it swiftly stabilized his condition.
Tian Kuan sighed lightly. He used to think that he was a fearless person, but he finally realized just how much of a coward he really was.
Was this a bad thing? Tian Kuan did not think so. Rather, he felt that it was something favorable. Detecting his cowardice and better understanding himself at this early point was a good thing.
Perhaps this was the real purpose of training.
Moreover, it was not as though he had no chance.
He could defeat his inner demon by achieving victory.
The reversal of life and death. Coming back from the dead was what Tian Kuan was capable of accomplishing.
Victory was the one true explanation for everything.
Tian Kuan suddenly raised his head. The elemental energy waves in Central Pine City had become unusually intense.
Ai Hui's small group was nailing in the ninth gold needle.
Tian Kuan walked unhurriedly through the ruins.
"The ninth gold needle," muttered the lady in red.
Having witnessed her transformation with his own eyes, Yan Hai looked at the lady in awe. Her presence had become ever so fleeting and unpredictable. It was as though she had become one with the dense mist amid mountaintops, mysterious yet ephemeral.
The lady had grown much stronger.
He had never seen her train but could feel the changes she had undergone. Yan Hai inexplicably thought of something that the lady had previously said to him.
Although it was beyond his understanding, Yan Hai knew that the key to her progress lay within it. He secretly committed the words to memory, noting that he could not grasp it because his level was too low.
The lady in red looked impressed. She looked up at the sky and watched the waves of light dancing about layer after layer. This light show was the result of the intense elemental energy fluctuations.
Still looking up, the lady in red abruptly said, "It's time for us to go."
"Go?" asked Yan Hai, at a loss.
"Withdraw from Central Pine City," the lady in red explained as she retracted her gaze. "The entire city's elemental energy has been activated. The sky, the earth, and even the plants. We'll have to retreat further away so as to avoid being trapped within it.
The lady in red and Yan Hai quietly left Central Pine City. They found a mountain that directly overlooked the city and began their observation.
When the ninth gold needle was fully nailed into place, the vibrantly chaotic patterns in the sky above Central Pine City abruptly changed into a brilliant whirlpool of multi-colored light. The different colored lights fused and expanded, slowly spreading across the sky and becoming more distinct.
Metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. The five elemental energies combined to form a perfect five element ring in the sky.
The abnormally powerful elemental energy waves roused Yu Mingqiu from his exhaustion. He had reached his physical limit and could not help but wonder how he actually managed to guard the city's sky with his strength alone.
As the battle on the ground raged on, so did the battle in the sky. Toward the end, Yu Mingqiu was fighting purely by his combat instincts.
This ordeal was finally over...
He shakily descended back to ground level, landing heavily with a stagger and plopped backward right onto his rear.
His gaze swept up to look at the five element ring in the sky as he sat there, too tired to even lift a finger.
After putting in so much effort, he wondered if there were any bonus rewards awaiting him...
It's not going to be my problem if things start to go awry again. The most handsome person is going to sleep now...
Darkness swiftly engulfed him the moment he closed his tired eyes.
Yu Mingqiu's wretched-looking state gave everyone around a shock. They heaved a huge sigh of relief when he started snoring loudly. His performance over the past few days had earned everyone's unwavering respect. The city could not possibly have lasted so long without him protecting the sky, let alone have had the chance to install the needle.
The five element ring in the sky started to stabilize.
The ferocious blood fiends became terrified and hastily escaped the city.
Looking down from the skies, one would see the red tide rapidly receding out of the city.
After a moment of silence, loud cheers rang out all over Central Pine City.
Amid the cheering, an exhausted Ai Hui sat heavily on the ground.
Master, Mistress, the nine gold needles are in place...
In his mind's eye, he saw his master excitedly explaining the plan to "treat the city like a piece of cloth" and subconsciously smiled.
Around him, his team members were all over the place. The A-1 unit had carried out the most important missions in this battle. They had relentlessly pressed onward, tapping into every last bit of energy and breath they could muster. Now that their missions were completed, they could finally collapse and take a breather.
Although they were completely drained, everyone's eyes were glued on the Jade Embroidery Workshop.
The Jade Embroidery Workshop opened its tightly sealed door.