Chapter 150 Waist-splitting and Decapitation
“Doing this sort of training is like dancing on knives!”
The first feeling Jiang Li felt when he was pummeled into the air by Hong Heiyu was that this training was completely insane, hysterical even, to cease being concerned for his own life.
It was almost like something that someone possessed might do—completely ridiculous.
Although Jiang Li wasn’t one to fear pain or exhaustion, he still believed that gradual progression through slow training was the most effective way to succeed.
That was the correct way to do things. Throwing one’s life away just for a chance to become more powerful was idiotic. If you only got one chance at life, it’s never a good idea to risk it unless the situation makes it necessary.
Unfortunately, having a master like Hong Heiyu was forcing his hand.
The moment he landed in the valley, he felt an intense pressure descend upon him. Gravity 20 times that of Earth’s pressed down on him—each inch of his skin, his pores, his cells, his organs, even his bones started to creak. He felt as if he were trapped within a crystal that was collapsing in on itself, condensing.
His whole body was shrinking, organs beginning to squeeze together.
As a last resort, he released the liquidated vital energies in his body, combining them with the water cells throughout his body. Bit by bit, his life force climbed, and his body began to emanate an intense energy. Finally he began to feel a bit better.
But even when he tried to walk, he felt that his range of activity was still severely limited. He was at least 20 times slower than he usually was.
Attempting a punch, he realized that it no longer crackled with the same energies he possessed previously. His fist emanated a slight aura that wasn’t very strong, as if he had been beaten down back to the level of a normal person, when his life force was only 0.7 once again.
That was because under the intense gravity, air flow had been constricted to even less than a trickle and could barely even ripple.
The air here was heavy, all because of gravity. Of course, that was basic knowledge—some planets were too small in mass and didn’t have enough gravity to retain air, resulting in a planet with no atmosphere. Others were so large that they’d even absorb rays of light, leading to black holes.
An average student would have been crushed immediately under the strength of the gravity. Fortunately, Jiang Li’s body had been through enough changes that he could move much quicker than any average student.
“Damn, this hurts!”
The moment he eased off the weight of gravity, a fog gushed toward him. Within the fog he could make out sparks of golden shards.
Intense pain filled him the moment they touched his skin, cutting trails of blood everywhere. It was like being skinned with a thousand knives.
Now that he was in this kind of gravity, any wound was bound to spurt blood.
“Emperor Water Seal!”
Jiang Li felt the cuts on his body began to pulsate, knowing that the moment they spurted blood he would bleed dry.
In the moment, he pushed away the pain to focus on summoning the Water Seal, repressing the blood flow in his body. The heaven and earth’s vital energies within his body once again dissipated into gas and surrounded him. Within an instant, his wounds had closed up and were beginning to heal.
These vital energies were capable of healing almost any wound. Gathering them together allowed them to repair one’s body without changing its fundamental structure—no medicine could compare to that.
Liquidated vital energies were especially effective. Once condensed, the energies contained an intense power from deep within the second dimension.
“Good, good, keep going!” Outside of the valley, Hong Heiyu’s eyes flashed as he watched Jiang Li. He had discovered once again the young man’s potential, and awe filled his voice: “The sharpness of the fog plus the intense gravity in this valley means that you’ll be in danger every moment you’re in there. This is the only way to boost your potential substantially. Moments of life and death like this often inspire people to break through all their barriers and discover their true potential.”
Clenching his jaw, Jiang Li kept going. With every step he took the golden light swarmed closer, slicing at his skin with the pain of a thousand blades. Each time the thin rays of gold shot into his skin, he felt a piercing sensation deep within his organs. The pain was so intense it was impossible to describe.
He saw clearly that every time the golden light seeped into his body, they pierced through his organs that were immediately healed by his vital energies.
A sizzling sound filled the air…
Another wave of gold zoomed at him, filling the air. Without even thinking, Jiang Li moved quickly aside.
Just when he had stepped aside to avoid them, another golden beam appeared deep in the fog, shimmering and writhing like a dragon or snake. Before he could even attempt to escape, it curled around his body.
Immediately, Jiang Li felt an unbearable pain around his waist.
Dropping his head to look down, he almost recoiled in shock. His waist had been cut clean through, separating his upper and lower body!
He had been split through the waist!
With a dull sound, his upper body toppled on the ground. Fortunately, the vital energies engulfed his waist and it didn’t gush blood, but the pain itself was almost enough to suffocate his mind of coherent thoughts.
“I’ve been cut open? Am I going to die?” He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. It seemed impossible, almost as if he was in a dream. Seeing yourself split in half seemed unreal.
In Earth’s ancient times, there was a man named Xiao Fangru whose body was separated from his legs. He managed to write the word “usurp” seven times before his body failed.
There was a special hell in Hell reserved for splitting people at the waist.
Cutting other people open was something else. But watching oneself get torn apart like that helplessly is intensely traumatizing. In that moment, Jiang Li felt the true terror of being suspended between life and death. It was a short moment, yet long as an entire century, as if time had stopped right there and then.
Jiang Li felt like he had fallen into another time and space. People flashed through his mind: Mom and Dad, his siblings, Luohan and Xueling, even Dahei’s cats…their voices, their laughter, their faces filled his mind. Regret and bitterness grew in his heart.
Suddenly, a shadow flashed near him. It was Hong Heiyu. Quick as lightning, he brushed aside the fog along with its glimmering gold. His figure flickered, and a huge energy body appeared behind him, wrapping around Jiang Li’s severed body and moving it outside of the valley rapidly.
Jiang Li felt as if he was being put back together.
Using his own holy fetus’ energy, Hong Heiyu wrapped him up and entered the battleship within seconds. Inside the battleship there was an operating table. The moment Hong Heiyu triggered the energies within it, it began to sew Jiang Li’s body together with string made of pure energy. At the same time, huge quantities of life energies entered his body, starting the physical process of rejuvenation.
This was high tech healing. Although the Astral Fish Battleship was worth four billion, even they couldn’t boast a healing system capable of bringing the dead back to life. Hong Heiyu’s battleship cost a hundred times more than the Astral Fish, and might even be able to save someone who had been split open.
Most people who are split through the waist like that end up dying because even their central nervous system has been severed.
But Jiang Li’s strong body and Hong Heiyu’s vigilance meant that the moment something went wrong, the latter could come in quickly and stop the wounds from worsening with powerful holy fetal energies, and then heal him with high tech energy surgery.
It took a whole hour before Jiang Li’s severed body finally began to heal.
Under highly advanced technological healing, flesh and blood could be regenerated, and organs could be analyzed and even reproduced to fit the structure of the body so they could take over all the normal bodily functions.
“Well? How does it feel like to get cut open? Have you felt the horrors of death now?”
Jiang Li came back to himself on the operating table. Next to him, Hong Heiyu seemed to wear a half-smile, “Want to stand up and try walking?”
Jiang Li’s mind spun. When he remembered to feel for his waist again, he found that all of his injuries had been healed and couldn’t help but take a deep breath of relief.
Even so, he was still somewhat in shock. With a little struggling he stood up, moved his body gingerly, and only after noting that he had regained the strength in his limbs could he finally stop worrying for good.
He could still feel all too clearly the moment he had been split open, and fear filled his eyes. “Sir, I really have experienced the terrors of death. I thought I was dead, and could barely control myself from going entirely insane and losing all of my training. Thankfully, you were there to pull me back from the edge.”
Thinking back to that moment, he still felt a chill down his spine.
His master had been right. Between life and death there lay a bottomless fear.
“Everyone is afraid of death, existence, and disappearance. It’s only when you reach a stable spiritual level that you can truly see through all of those states and abandon all fear. But in the moment of death, even a Buddha would rue the laws of cause-and-effect.” Seeing that Jiang Li seemed to have gained some understanding, Hong Heiyu sighed. “Back when I was training, I was split open at the waist hundreds of times, and decapitated thirty-six times. That’s what it took for me to understand and dissolve the fear I felt when transitioning between the realm of the living and the dead. Thinking back on it now, it all feels like a dream.”
Instinctually Jiang Li leapt back with an odd expression on his face. “Sir, can we not risk things like this? Getting cut open at the waist was bad enough—do you expect me to go back just to get my head chopped off too?”
He could recover from being split open. A detached head…well, that was something else entirely.
Even though modern technology was capable of reconnecting one’s central nervous system and blood vessels after decapitation to make things good as new, even though it was technically possible for one to switch heads, the risk was huge. Few hospitals on Earth were willing to take that risk and perform the surgery.
Jiang Li didn’t want to experience having his head cut off and reattached. He knew that seeing his detached body would traumatize him, maybe even have enough negative psychological influence to reduce his soul to a shadow of himself and kill him.
Compared with decapitation, being split at the waist suddenly didn’t seem so bad at all.
“You’re going to have to suffer through it. I’ve said it before: if you’re going to train with me, it means you have to be willing to walk through hell.” Hong Heiyu looked determined not to give Jiang Li any other options. “If you don’t know death, how can you understand life? That’s the true horror of my Ten Paths of Hell! I can say with confidence that there’s no other master at Astral Academy whose training is as horrific as mine. I’ve had students who trained with me in the past die of the shock and horror alone. I’ve had many more quit on me. But you’re different from them. I have faith in you. You must experience each of my Ten Paths of Hell.”
“Are you for real? You really plan to cut my head off?”
Seeing how serious and frenzied Hong Heiyu had grown, Jiang Li felt a chill through his whole body. Although Hong Heiyu was a tall, handsome man with good enough posture, in Jiang Li’s eyes he was as terrifying as Satan himself. He had to resist the urge to run away right there and then.
“Of course!” Hong Heiyu responded without hesitation.
“Then I quit,” Jiang Li said quickly, “Decapitation is way past what I’m willing to suffer for training. Who knows what ways you’ll torture me in the future: gouging hearts out, disembowelment, tongue-plucking…that’s just too much for one person to bear.”
“You’re exactly right. In the future, there will be heart-gouging, disemboweling, tongue-plucking, full-body freezing treatments.” Hong Heiyu’s expression was cold. “You want to quit? Impossible! It took me so long to find a student like you. You must continue to train with me. Learning the way of hell means that you must experience each cruelty of hell itself. Only after you’ve tasted the unbearable pains of hell will you appreciate the beauty of the human realm.”
“You won’t let me quit?” Jiang Li felt like he had made a huge mistake. Hong Heiyu really was just like his name. Hong—intense like a flood; Heiyu—cruel as the darkest hell. He couldn’t help but take a step back. “I really want to quit, sir.”
“No! You won’t be able to leave even if you wanted to. I won’t allow it. You must experience decapitation.”
Hong Heiyu wasn’t compromising. He was dead set on training Jiang Li.
“How about you give me a few years’ worth of breaks before I train with you? My life force is so weak, I’ll die if you try and cut my head off.” Jiang Li began to negotiate, trying to delay the inevitable.
“Shut up! Rest for three hours, adjust your attitude. Then we set out for Death Valley again.” Hong Heiyu said without hesitation. “You’ll be spending the whole month here. Waist-splitting, decapitation, heart-gouging…you’ll experience it all. It’s exactly because your current life force is weak that your body is still replicable enough for the technology here to rescue. When you get sufficiently strong, even the most advanced technology won’t be able to reproduce your body, and you’ll have a much harder time getting treatment.”
“A whole month in Death Valley?” howled Jiang Li. Before his very eyes, his life seemed to turn gray and hopeless.