Chapter 269: A Devastating Ending
Translator: TYZ Editor: CakeHermit
"You stay here."
After giving a brief instruction, the red-dressed girl floated towards Central Pine City like a wisp of red smoke.
The turn of events for Tian Kuan had been too sudden. She could not help but go to take a look.
It would be a pity if she didn't join in the fun.
She was very clear on what Tian Kuan was going to do next. She was more curious about what Ai Hui's reaction would be.
Ai Hui's background was no secret, everyone in Central Pine City knew about it. Right now, he was a legendary figure in Central Pine City, everyone's favorite topic to chit-chat about in their free time. Obtaining all of Ai Hui's information was a piece of cake.
He came from the Old Territory and spent three years in the Wilderness as laborer. He then entered the Induction Ground as an overaged student. Eventually, he became the disciple of Wang Shouchuan and learned embroidery from his mistress.
Reportedly, Ai Hui had a deep relationship with both his master and mistress.
He would definitely take action!
Her interest in Ai Hui far surpassed anyone else's. That fellow could not be analyzed logically as he always came up with different surprises. No one knew what he was going to do next.
Holding the Dragonspine, Ai Hui dashed towards Tian Kuan's location.
The sound of wind surged past his ears like thunder. At this point of time, Ai Hui felt abnormally calm. He held his sword, slouched his body, and flew along the dilapidated street. It was as if he did not feel the fatigue from the previous battles.
His brain was working at an unprecedented speed as he tried to think of a way to save his master.
There must be a way!
He told himself that.
Tian Kuan's purpose in holding Master hostage was to stop Mistress from completing the plan of 'treating the city as a piece of cloth.' Mistress had an unyielding character and the only way for Tian Kuan to make her surrender was to torture Master.
Ai Hui forced himself to focus on thinking through the situation. He did not dare to be distracted as any moment of distraction would cause him to feel a heart-twisting pain.
His facial expression resembled that of a granite statue, motionless and without emotion.
There was no point feeling angry or sad now. At this point in time, what he needed to do was stay calm, achieve absolute calmness. Letting his emotions affect his decision would be totally unhelpful to the current situation.
He forced himself to stay calm and allowed the palm that was clenching the sword hilt to turn white.
He first had to get close to Tian Kuan because he lacked long-range offensive attacks. The sudden attack would only work if he could prevent Tian Kuan from sensing his presence.
Very soon, Ai Hui confirmed his plan of attack and decided to approach Tian Kuan silently from the right side of his back. Even though he needed to make an extra effort to reach that position, he did not mind as it would be advantageous to his attack. Tian Kuan was using his right hand to hold his master. If he could attack fast enough and hack Tian Kuan's right shoulder, he might be able to save his master.
He was not feeling too well. His body was extremely weary and his elemental energy was almost depleted. Despite this, he still decided to get close to Tian Kuan first.
Only by getting close to Tian Kuan would he then have the opportunity to strike.
Ai Hui suppressed his last trace of anger. Like an experienced hunter, he started to close in on his prey.
He did not think about what would happen if he failed. Various plans appeared in his mind and he tried to find the loopholes in each plan.
There was only one chance with no room for failure.
He lowered his waist and used the debris as cover, beginning to execute his plan.
"We have nothing to talk about."
Han Yuqin's facial expression returned to normal and her tone was tranquil and calm.
"My husband might be in your hands, but if you think that you can use him to threaten me, that would be a big mistake. We have lived for many years and as long as we can save Central Pine City, we don't mind sacrificing our lives. Let him go and I promise to let you leave this place."
"Let me leave this place?" Tian Kuan smirked. "I think Master Han has mistaken my intention. I'm the one who would let all of you leave this place. You see, all along we haven't had many conflicts between us, so why bother fighting amongst ourselves? As long as all of you are willing to retreat from Central Pine City, you all will be able to leave this place safely and Teacher Wang will also be safe and sound."
His tone was calm and unhurried. Even though he was facing a Grandmaster, he did not show the slightest bit of fear, displaying an elegant demeanor. He could feel the blood spiritual force in his body transforming. An endless stream of energy was flowing into the depths of his body.
A feeling of euphoria gushed into him.
He was overjoyed. If he could obtain victory, he would definitely attain a breakthrough in his base level.
"Since you're so arrogant, there's nothing for us to talk about," Han Yuqin replied with a solemn tone. "My husband and I each have one foot in the grave. If we die, then so be it."
"Die?" Tian Kuan put on an astonished face, as if he'd heard something incredible. "Why would I let both of you die? How can a dead person have value? Furthermore, there are many things in this world that are more terrifying than death, and I happen to be specialized in them."
Following which, his left hand pulled up Wang Shouchuan's left palm and spread his fingers.
One of Wang Shouchuan's fingers had been crushed.
Wang Shouchuan's body squirmed. The intense pain made him want to struggle, but the hand grabbing his throat was like a metal pincer, rendering him immobile. He could not make any sound and his body trembled uncontrollably.
"Bastard!" Anger erupted upon Han Yuqin's face. Her aura of killer intent pervaded the air.
"You see, it's just the beginning and Master Han already can't take it," teased Tian Kuan. "Do you wish to kill me now? It seems giving your husband some enjoyment is a good idea. How? Do you want to give it a try?"
Another of Wang Shouchuan's fingers was crushed.
Han Yuqin's entire body trembled and the elemental energy around her began to undulate. Her cape fluttered and the heavenly glow that was shining on her became unstable.
"You have been husband and wife for so many years, it would be too cruel if you were to kill him with your own hands, but what can you do about it? This world is supposed to be cruel. You can't do it, right? Actually, if you think about it, how can the life of an old fogey be compared to the lives of the many people here? If he dies, then so be it. Doesn't everything come with a price?"
Han Yuqin trembled even harder. The glowing, multi-colored stairs beneath her feet started to dim.
The cracking sound rang across Ai Hui's ears. Ai Hui stopped in his tracks, but quickly recovered his pace. His facial expression did not change and his movements remained silent, appearing as though he was unaffected by what was going on.
He reached his target's position.
He raised his head and looked at Tian Kuan in the sky.
Right now, Tian Kuan was not only holding his master's neck with his right hand, his left hand was also holding his master's left hand. There was no point in only hacking off Tian Kuan's right arm.
The worst thing was that the elemental energy in Ai Hui's body had depleted.
When the golden needle was being nailed, the A-1 unit had encountered several blood fiends and had fought an intense battle. Everyone, including Ai Hui, was extremely exhausted.
There must be a plan.
Ai Hui told himself.
"Do you need help?"
A faint voice suddenly came from behind Ai Hui.
Ai Hui froze. He abruptly turned around and the beautiful image of a red-dressed girl appeared before him. Her long red sleeves were drifting like two traces of red smoke. Her beautiful eyes looked deeply at Ai Hui and her luscious red lips curled into an alluring smile.
It was her!
One Thousand Yuan!
Ai Hui's eye pupils dilated.
"You're the first one to compliment me and say that I'm beautiful, even though I paid one thousand yuan for it." the red-dressed girl blinked her eyes intently. "Perhaps we can make a deal."
Ai Hui stared at her, not saying a single word.
"Don't stare at me like that, you look so fierce." the red-dressed girl put on an innocent look and stuck out her tongue. "You don't have much time left."
Suddenly, a ravishing scarlet plum blossom appeared on her snow-white forehead. The blood plum blossom drifted out of her forehead and landed in her palm. Its bright shine resembled that of her red lips.
"This costs more than one thousand yuan. Once you eat it, you will become capable of killing him off. Of course, since this is a deal, there's a price to pay. I will collect some interest from you." The red-dressed girl's face turned white while her gaze seemed to be in stupor.
Ai Hui did not respond.
"Even though I am somewhat taking advantage of your current situation..." The red-dressed girl's smile became increasingly sweet. "You don't have many choices left. This is your only way out."
The glistening plum blossom displayed an indescribable demonic aura.
Tian Kuan's excited voice resounded through the air, sounding as if he had thought of something fun. "I have just thought of a better way."
He squinted his eyes and a sinister sneer appeared on his face. Han Yuqin's reaction was far more intense than he'd expected. The elemental energy surrounding Han Yuqin was becoming chaotic. From this, Tian Kuan had come up with a conjecture, that Han Yuqin's status of Grandmaster was a temporary one. She did not go through a legitimate breakthrough!
She must have used some special technique to temporarily raise her base level.
Right now, her emotions were under intense provocation, causing her to lose control of her temporary base level and elemental energy. On the contrary, the blood spiritual force in Tian Kuan's body continued to rise. He was excited as he sensed that he was about to achieve a breakthrough.
In his eyes, Han Yuqin was like a whetstone. One could only come across a pseudo-Grandmaster level whetstone serendipitously.
Achieving victory in this confrontation was the key to his breakthrough!
It would be a memorable event for him to use the corpse of a pseudo-Grandmaster as a stepping stone to achieve his breakthrough.
He gave a pondering smile, resembling an executioner tightening the noose on a prisoner's neck.
"How about I turn him into a blood elementalist?"
A drop of blood seeped out from Tian Kuan's fingertip and stayed there like a dewdrop.
Pfff. Along with the drop of blood, Tian Kuan's taut finger suddenly plunged into Wang Shouchuan's shoulder.
"I'm actually doing this for his own good. His vitality is weak and he doesn't have many days of life left. Becoming a blood elementalist will allow him to live a bit longer. You see, both of you can still spend the rest of your lives together. Such a heartwarming scene. An elementalist and a blood elementalist living together to a ripe old age in conjugal bliss."
Han Yuqin's face was filled with agony. The dazzling rainbow stairs below her feet had completely collapsed. The elemental energy around her body started burning with a crackle.
Even her hair looked as if it was burning, gradually disappearing.
"Shouchuan, you must help me."
This was her favourite sentence that she had always said to Wang Shouchuan when they were young. She was always arrogant and brash, but as long as she said this sentence, he would never reject her. Countless memories swept through her mind like a tidal wave. The more heartwarming they were, the more pain she felt.
It was because of her that he ended up like this.
Ignited by the chaotic elemental energy, her overflowing tears were mixed with blood and fire, flowing down her cheeks.
Tian Kuan released the hand that was grasping Wang Shouchuan's neck and held his arm instead.
Terrifying streaks of blood traces appeared on Wang Shouchuan's face. He shrieked in pain, "Kill me, kill me!"
"We will have to see if Master Han is ruthless enough to do it or not." Tian Kuan sneered as he tightly held Wang Shouchuan's body.
Wang Shouchuan's scream became a blur.
Upon hearing his master's scream, Ai Hui emotionlessly took the glistening blood plum flower and popped it in his mouth.
Just as the red-dressed girl revealed an insidious smile, Ai Hui said coldly, "I will destroy the Blood of God."
The red-dressed girl's smile froze.
Blood of God... How did he know about the Blood of God?
Ai Hui did not look at her anymore. Clenching the Dragonspine in his hand, he turned around and faced Tian Kuan's direction.
His body was filled with a mysterious power, emitting an unusual ice-cold aura.
His craggy face had deep and distinct lines, looking grave and stern. He appeared as if he was witnessing a farce that had nothing to do with him, completely emotionless.
Mistress was on the brink of collapse...
An image of his master flaunting his plan like it was some kind of treasure appeared In Ai Hui's mind. The pride on his master's face seemed to tell Ai Hui that he had no regrets if he died as long as he could help his wife.
His master's body was struggling non-stop. His low, deep shriek was filled with agony, despair, and the desire to die.
Since he desired death, would he have no regrets only if he died? He would rather be dead than see his works destroyed? He would rather be dead than see his pride crushed?
Just yesterday, Ai Hui had still been thinking about bringing his master and mistress to the Old Territory and opening an embroidery workshop there for them, to accompany them through their twilight years.
There were no more twilight years.
Ai Hui felt that he had fallen into an endless abyss. The freezing darkness engulfed him, but he knew that there was one last thing he had to do.
He had to defend the pride of his master and mistress.
The red-dressed girl's eye pupils shrunk abruptly when Ai Hui disappeared into thin air. Given her strength, how could she not see how Ai Hui disappeared?
The sky suddenly darkened as night fell upon the city.
Splendid radiance blossomed in the dark night.
When the Night Epiphyllum blossoms, the dark night shall descend.
Numerous epiphyllum flowers floated down from the sky, forming a rain of light that resembled a poignant painting.
Tian Kuan's eyes suddenly shrunk. The blood spiritual force in his body erupted. Just as his body was about to go to work, it froze abruptly.
He lowered his head and looked at his chest. A sword had pierced through his chest. His eyes were filled with disbelief.
Wang Shouchuan's body relaxed and looked at the blade sticking out of his chest. He recognized it as Ai Hui's sword. The struggle on his face faded like a receding tide. A peaceful look appeared upon his face as blood foam spurted out from his mouth.
His mouth curled into a smile. He could not see Ai Hui, but he still spoke with an unclear tone. "Good boy."
Han Yuqin stared blankly at Wang Shouchuan.
Wang Shouchuan turned his head with difficulty. His vision was blurry and he could only see a vague figure. He felt as if he had returned to the day he'd first met her when he was just eighteen years old. The timid young man had not dared to look her straight in the eyes.
They'd walked together and grown old together.
But it was a pity that they couldn't die together.
He used his last bit of strength and waved goodbye to her.
Upon seeing Wang Shouchuan closing his eyes peacefully, Han Yuqin's tears once more flowed out uncontrollably. A long whistle resounded through the air. Intense, sword-like sunlight pierced through the thick layer of cloud and darkness once more. Flames started to burst into existence around her body. The Five Elements Bracelet hovering above her head started to spin.
The elemental energy burned her body. She looked like a phoenix standing in the midst of blazing flames, serene and majestic.
Her delicate hands glided through the air and a beam of light shot out. That was her thread and needle.
Numerous beams of light gathered from all directions and swirled around her body, resembling a shoal of fish that frolicked in the sea.
Her slender, snow-white arms rose above her head as she spun her body, looking as if she was dancing and singing.
Shouchuan, this is what you taught me.
Shouchuan, this is the work that you put your heart and soul into.
The light beams swirled along with her body, then shot up into the sky, flying swiftly towards every corner of Central Pine City, and plunged into the ground. Central Pine City was like an enormous piece of cloth while the light beams were throbbing needles and threads, shuttling back and forth through the city.
The red-dressed girl's facial expression changed dramatically and she hurriedly retreated.
The color of blood that had engulfed Central Pine City faded. Plants and trees emerged from the ground and grew rapidly at visible speeds, spreading the color of lush green throughout Central Pine City. The debris and ruins began to wiggle. Then, as if there were a pair of invisible hands moving and repairing them, the debris disappeared and the buildings returned to their initial state, as good as new.
Time seemed to be turning back.
Central Pine City had returned to its former glory.
A dazzling glow engulfed all of Central Pine City.
Tian Kuan, who was pierced by the Dragonspine, disintegrated into ashes before he could even scream in pain. Wang Shouchuan's body also disintegrated into ashes, leaving one intact arm behind.
Ai Hui instinctively caught his master's arm and descended from the sky.
A lustre landed beside Ai Hui. It was Han Yuqin. Her body was engulfed in flames and her flesh continued to melt. She looked at Ai Hui and said, "Good boy, Master and Mistress need to thank you."
Her gaze contained an array of emotions. Gratitude, thankfulness, pity, and worry.
If not for Ai Hui, everything that they had worked so hard for would have gone down the drain. All the lives that were sacrificed would have been meaningless. The pain and suffering Ai Hui had to go through for making this decision far exceeded what anyone could imagine.
Ai Hui pursed his lips tightly.
"Ai Hui, you are very capable, help Mistress to take good care of your Senior Mingxiu."
"Master!" Mingxiu sobbed.
Han Yuqin took Wang Shouchuan's arm from Ai Hui. As usual, she tightly interlocked her fingers with Wang Shouchuan's. With a gentle look on her face, she reminded Ai Hui, "Mistress has to go now. Ai Hui, Mingxiu, bury me and your Master together."
A burst of flames shot up into the sky. Her body was completely devoured by the flames. Only the hand that was holding Wang Shouchuan's hand did not burn.
When the flames had extinguished, two tightly clasped hands remained.
Ai Hui was stupefied. He carefully picked up the pair of tightly interlocked hands.
A bean-sized drop of rain landed on his hand. In the blink of an eye, torrents of rain came pouring down. In a short period of time, the city was shrouded by rain and fog.
The plan of 'treating the city as a piece of cloth' was a success. The five elemental energies in Central Pine City had united. Blood fiends and blood elementalists could no longer stay in the city. Central Pine City was finally safe. However, not a single bit of joy could be found on anyone's face. No one had expected the last battle to be so devastating.
Upon witnessing how Wang Shouchuan and Han Yuqin sacrificed themselves and died in such a manner, everyone was filled with complex feelings.
Shi Xueman looked at Ai Hui with concern; he was digging a grave in the rain. He rejected everyone's help and dug the muddy, water-filled grave together with Mingxiu using their bare hands.
Shi Xueman simply could not imagine the pain and grief Ai Hui was feeling now.
Fatty suddenly blurted out, "In the Wilderness, whenever I dug a grave, Ai Hui would never help me. He doesn't help dead people dig their graves. He always said that it doesn't matter if a dead person is buried or not."
Everyone was speechless.
Ai Hui carefully placed the pair of tightly interlocked hands into the grave and then properly covered them up with soil. Mingxiu handed over a wooden tablet and Ai Hui wrote the inscription 'The Grave of Master and Mistress' on the wooden tablet in crooked handwriting.
He carefully stuck the wooden tablet into the soil.
He kneeled before the grave and stared at it, allowing the rain to smack him across his face like a stone statue.
He had lost his master and mistress.