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Chapter 149 Death Valley
“What do you have hidden in your body? Liquid vital energies?”
From the moment he laid eyes on Jiang Li, Hong Heiyu was stunned. With Jiang Li’s current levels of power he should have lost control of his own mind and spirit, but the change that had actually occurred were so stunning that it seemed against the very foundation of training.
“Surprised I couldn’t hide it from an instructor.”
Jiang Li squeezed out a thin smile. He’d thought that storing his energy as liquid in his body would be enough to hide his life forces—and his actual power—from anyone who happened to look at him so he could deceive his opponents. He hadn’t expected Hong Heiyu to see through him just like that.
In the eyes of a skilled master, his measly attempts at camouflage were nothing.
“Let me see.” Hong Heiyu grabbed Jiang Li. In that instant, Jiang Li felt an immense spiritual force seep through his organs. A gaze swept through each vein, each bone down to the marrow, down to his abdomen where the droplet of liquid was suspended.
This was much more powerful than a common X-ray. Those who had a robust enough spiritual power could perceive anyone’s physical state with a single glance, right down to the pathological changes in one’s cells.
“Indeed. Liquid energies combined with your life potential, becoming a presence similar to energy bodies.” Hong Heiyu let out a long sigh. “How did you do this? Relying just on the technology we have today, it’s almost impossible for you to have achieved this, unless there was a master capable of channeling the energy through your head.”
“I have something that allows me to enter fetal respiration right now and absorb the vital energies of the heaven and earth for my own use.” Jiang Li saw no point in hiding his abilities now.
“Oh?” Hong Heiyu seemed somewhat taken aback, but didn’t inquire about the specific object. “That’s not so uncommon. Truly skilled masters are sometimes capable of hypnotizing people into a state of unconscious fetal respiration so that their bodies will absorb the vital energies of the heaven and earth. But doing so reduces their spirit and is less effective than using a spirit stone directly.”
Without skipping a beat in the conversation, he reached out and tapped Jiang Li.
Vroom! Immediately Jiang Li felt a huge torrent of spiritual power entering through his head. His own spiritual power rose as if there were no upper limit to his capabilities. Vaguely he felt the vital energies of heaven and earth in the second dimension, rolling through him like a tide. He tried to use his conscious mind to make contact with it. Though it was difficult, he finally felt the ripples of the energies deep within the second dimension.
Hong Heiyu’s voice rang through him like a thunder clap. Jiang Li returned to himself as if waking up from a dream.
“Did I just enter fetal respiration?” Recalling the sensation of just now, he felt that he had been hypnotized.
“Yes. I hypnotized you.” Hong Heiyu seemed to be deep in thought. He took two steps forward, then whipped around to face him. “But that kind of assistance is trivial and won’t help you truly grow. To achieve the level of fetal respiration where your mind becomes empty, you must thoroughly grasp the principles of everchanging nothingness. Only when you see through reality can you immerse yourself into the second dimension and obtain the vital energies. Even with your current capabilities, it’s a revolutionary state to reach. You must be careful—the moment you lose control of your mind, the wild energies will shatter you into dust.”
“This is the artifact I was talking about. You’re welcome to take a look at it, sir, to see what kind of mysteries it holds.” After a moment’s thought, Jiang Li took out the Emperor Relic.
“Oh?” Hong Heiyu twisted his hand. As if in response, the Emperor Relic flew into his palm. Grasping the artifact carefully between two fingers, he studied it carefully, but didn’t seem to discern anything useful from it. Even pushing his own spiritual power into the thing gained no response.
No matter how he looked at it, it seemed like a completely ordinary stone.
“Computer, analyze the components of this rock.”
A beam of energy shot out to encompass the Emperor Relic as the computer’s energies seeped through every inch of the stone. From sampling its material components to discerning its age through geological analysis, the computer should have been capable of detecting whatever irregularities might exist.
But after scanning the stone, the analysis that emerged seemed disappointingly normal: “Biological bone structure from the far past. Contains…”
The conclusion seemed to be that it was just another chunk of bone from some unknown animal in the far past, without any special energies or power.
“How is this possible?” Jiang Li had inspected the Emperor Relic with his own scanners as well in the past and gotten the same results, but hadn’t expected the advanced technology of the Academy to fail as well.
Whatever made this stone special wasn’t detectable at all. Perhaps this in itself was an expression of the Emperor Relic’s power.
“Impressive, impressive…” Hong Heiyu looked the relic up and down. His fingers tightened around it hard. Yet the stone showed no change in form. It was indestructible. “Although the results show that it’s just an unknown animal bone scrap, that could just be what’s on the surface. Its true form might be hidden in deeper dimensions still. Unfortunately my own abilities are limited in perceiving the wonders of this artifact, but you must preserve it well for future study.”
“Without this thing I couldn’t have rescued those students. Song Shuren said that the academy would investigate me. What should I do if they find it?” This was what Jiang Li was worried most about.
“Don’t worry about it.” Hong Heiyu waved his hand in a broad gesture to calm him. “Who’s got the guts to investigate my students? Even if they do, you’ve done nothing but good with it. So what if you have a precious artifact? How many students of the Astral Academy can claim they don’t have secrets, or a hidden technique or two? If anyone tries to make this a big deal, I’ll beat them so hard their parents won’t know their faces. Your only objective now should be to focus on training and get stronger, stronger, even stronger than that! Now that you have something to help you absorb vital energies, I’ll be able to plan even more intense training sessions for you! Any student of mine should be born for strength and greatness.”
“Even more intense training sessions?” Jiang Li felt a chill down his spine. Last time in the depths of that volcano he had experienced how intense training could get. But Hong Heiyu seemed to regard it as no more than an appetizer course.
“Of course. You have plenty of potential. I have some techniques to help you find your full potential. I can tell, you’ve got a lot more potential than Meng Xingyun.” He snorted at the name. “That guy’s no better than I am. He wants to cultivate a genius disciple so he can stay on top in the rat race. Little does he know, I’ve got a student with ten times as much potential as his does!”
Hong Heiyu kept muttering to himself, getting more excited the more he talked. “Come on, let’s start training right now. Don’t let your guard down! We’re going to Death Valley.”
Jiang Li hadn’t completely understood what Hong Heiyu was saying before the man dragged him off.
The next moment, he found himself standing on Hong Heiyu’s battleship.
The battleship roared to life, covering tens of thousands of miles within a single second.
After hours of travel, they finally came to a stop. The battleship slowly touched down near the opening of a valley. Once again, Hong Heiyu dragged Jiang Li out from the battleship, where they were met with a narrow valley. Hot steam rose from the earth, obscuring the way forward.
Jiang Li felt the air thicken with danger from the depths of the valley.
“This is Death Valley?” Jiang Li looked at Hong Heiyu. “Sir, are we really going into the valley to train? This fog seems abnormal to me. What if it’s poisonous?”
“Of course it’s poisonous, but that’s not all. It’s an evil, afflictive air.” Gazing out at Death Valley, Hong Heiyu’s expression seemed complicated, shifting uneasily as if he were remembering something. “If you are enveloped, you’ll suffer the pain of a thousand blades slicing at your flesh, piercing your heart. Can you see that? Deep in the mist there’s a golden glimmer. Years ago a legendary master practiced his sword-fighting techniques alone in this valley. What’s here is his sword’s afflictive energy.”
Jiang Li began to think back to the cultivation world that he had encountered in his dreams. There were masters practicing the flying sword there with such intensity that the sword’s energy rippled out for miles on end. Anyone who entered that territory would immediately be torn to shreds.
A sword’s energy is incredibly sharp.
The cultivators had the advantage of being much more adept at energy usage, which also counted as a symbol of high civilization. Whereas on Earth they used tools as a medium to harness energy, cultivators used their own bodies to harness it. Both were ways of using energy, just in different ways.
The ability to use energy was termed supernatural.
“Robot, go into the valley.”
Hong Heiyu opened the battleship’s door. A robot the height of a human walked out. Though its body was metallic, it moved nimbly to explore environmental extremities that the human body couldn’t tolerate.
Jiang Li watched the robot walk into the valley step by step.
The moment it entered the valley, crack! Its body seemed to sag under an impossible, unbearable weight, with the sound of stuck gears in its metal joints.
“That’s some intense gravity!” Jiang Li exclaimed, a shiver running down his spine, “There’s some kind of difference between the gravity in the valley and outside of it.”
“Exactly. This valley’s gravity is twenty times that of Earth,” Hong Heiyu continued to explain, “See, each step the robot takes will provoke a response from Death Valley. It’s more than just a normal training ground—in ancient times, the cultivators from emperor planets used to train here. These are ancient ruins. I’ve explored them many times, but always returned empty-handed.”
“You trained here, sir?” Jiang Li glanced around before turning on his computer to look at their location. He was shocked to see that he couldn’t locate the base of Astral Academy.
Obviously, they were far from Astral Academy now.
He remembered that last time they went to the volcano it took the battleship only ten minutes to fly 18,000 miles. This time, however, it was far enough to take them several hours.
“Long ago I came here often to train with others. It’s a secret place.” Nostalgia flashed through Hong Heiyu’s eyes. “Even the academy doesn’t know about it. I always felt there was a secret here, but never managed to enter the valley and investigate. Even when training outside we suffered hellish pains. This is the place I successfully cultivated the last path of my Ten-sided Path of Hell—Boundless Hell Path.”
While they spoke, the robot began to emit sparks.
Jiang Li fixed his eyes on the robot and saw it keep moving deeper into the valley. Suddenly, golden lights that had been floating through the fog flew at it, leaving countless cuts in its metal exterior.
The robot was built from an alloy and was difficult to destroy. Whatever the golden lights were, they must have been incredibly sharp to leave all those cuts.
Ignoring all the damage, the robot continued on.
Suddenly, a thick fog filled with golden lights gushed forward.
The robot immediately exploded into pieces.
“Unbelievable.” Jiang Li felt the hairs standing up on his body. “Master, would you really let me just go in there barehanded and train? If a robot shatters to pieces in the atmosphere here, how could I survive?”
Hong Heiyu glared at Jiang Li. “If you don’t know the pain of death, how will you understand the joy of life? That’s exactly what I intend to do—send you in there. No armor, just your body against the atmosphere. I want you to know the pain of a thousand blades against your skin, piercing you through and through. It’s only when you enter hell that your mind will reach its full potential. If you don’t go to hell, how will you ever ascend to heaven?”
“Master, I think we shouldn’t go so far. Brushing against such experiences is enough, honestly. It’s one thing to not fear death, but something completely different to go and seek death out. It just seems stupid.” By instinct alone, Jiang Li felt that it was dangerous inside. He didn’t dare take a step forward.
“I told you to go, so go. What’s with all the talk, huh?” With that, Hong Heiyu lifted his leg up and kicked Jiang Li toward the valley.
Caught off-guard, Jiang Li flew through the air, falling toward the valley.