"A heavenly god who held a searing flame in his hand as he went forth to vanquish the evil in the world!"
Hongjun’s pupils contracted swiftly. He looked at Li Jinglong, and his breathing grew harsh.
“Can you teach me how to use it?” Li Jinglong asked.
Hongjun pressed his hand against Li Jinglong’s blood-covered chest, but he had no more energy left. He panted for a moment before shaking his head; he couldn’t help but be filled with regret; back then, he should have paid attention and learned more from Chong Ming.
“Don’t be impatient,” Li Jinglong continued. “Think about it, try to recall, how did your dad teach how to use magic in the beginning?”
“He told me I needed to trigger the meridians within my body,” Hongjun said, his mind filled with a tumult of thoughts. “But you have no mana, and I don’t know if the Heart Lamp can be activated with this kind of method.”
“Even if you have mana, you’ve never cultivated the immortal arts, so perhaps it wouldn’t be of any use,” Hongjun continued, his brow furrowed deeply. “You’d still need to know spells and how to use exorcist artifacts…”
“Activate?” Li Jinglong immediately latched on to that point. He asked, “What does that mean?”
Hongjun replied, “It’s that feeling of impending death during moments of life and death. It’s that feeling when you’re falling in midair, thousands of zhang above the ground; the feeling you get the instant right before you hit the ground.”
Hongjun thought of the day that Chong Ming had taught him how to use spiritual qi --
-- “You’re a member of the yao tribe. If you aren’t able to use your magic, then you’ll just have to fall to your death.”
And right after that, Chong Ming lifted up the collar of little Hongjun who wouldn’t stop struggling and tossed him down from a cliff some ten thousand zhang high.
At that time, he had shouted wildly, but at the same time he had felt as if he was having an out of body experience as he suddenly became aware of the divine veins and earth veins. He saw the spirits wandering all throughout the corners of the world, and within his own body, a gust of energy swelled and burst out...
Finally it was Qing Xiong who whistled through the air as he shot towards him, catching him at a distance of less than one zhang to the ground, flying with him back into the sky.
After Li Jinglong finished listening to this, he stared dumbly at Hongjun, while Hongjun frowned. “But the Heart Lamp wasn’t something you were born with, and though I also once thought about it… I’m afraid that it’ll only harm you.”
“So the method that you brought up that day was this?” Li Jinglong recalled the day when he wanted to learn how to use magic, and Hongjun had brought up that “there was still another method”, before the carp yao had stopped him right away.
Hongjun nodded and looked around at his surroundings before asking, “Where’s Zhao Zilong?”
Li Jinglong shook his head and answered, “Probably still outside.”
Hongjun said, “When he finds that I’ve gone missing, he’ll go back to find my dad.”
Li Jinglong responded, “We can’t wait for that long; we need to figure out a way ourselves.”
Hongjun laid on his side and closed his eyes. He could feel that his own mana was very slowly recovering.
Thank the heavens and the earth. His magic recovery speed was faster than Qiu Yongsi’s and Mo Rigen’s, perhaps because he was the blood of a half-yao and his self-healing abilities worked much more rapidly than that of pure humans. Perhaps now, he would even be able to call his throwing knives to him, and though he had no mana to activate them, cutting the steel chains on his body might still be possible.
“Let me try it.”
“No.” Li Jinglong immediately stopped him, saying, “Don’t be hasty, I would rather that you stay unhurt.”
Hongjun indicated that he shouldn’t worry as he began to circulate his mana. The throwing knife in the distance began to tremble gently, before it slowly slid along the bank of the blood pool.
He took a deep breath, but he had no energy to lift up the throwing knife, and he could only let it continue to slide along slowly along the ground. When it came to his side, his forehead was already dripping with sweat, and he was breathing heavily.
Li Jinglong used his left hand to pick up the throwing knife, cutting through the metal shackles around his hands. He then cut open the shackles on Hongjun’s wrists, but the two of them didn’t dare to move, both fearing that the shackles would let out a sound.
Hongjun flexed his five fingers, but in the end had no way to get that throwing knife to lift up, and after struggling for a moment, he could only give up.
“You rest first.”
Li Jinglong made a hand gesture, gently picking up the throwing knife, before he turned his body and began to scoot one cun at a time towards the cage that held Mo Rigen, gently poking the throwing knife into Mo Rigen’s arm.
Mo Rigen woke from the sudden pain, and when he glanced over, he saw Hongjun, but Li Jinglong gestured for him to keep quiet as he began to slowly cut open the lock on the cage. Mo Rigen didn’t make a sound. In a flash, the lock fell. Mo Rigen stuck a hand out to catch it, but his grip was weak, and he couldn’t catch it in time. Just as the lock was about to clank against the cage, Li Jinglong instantly closed his fist around it.
He took away the lock before handing the throwing knife to Mo Rigen and gesturing at Qiu Yongsi’s cage next to him. Mo Rigen leaned over to open the lock.
Li JInglong said to Hongjun, “Can you get another one?”
Hongjun closed his eyes, wiggling a hand towards the artifacts lying discarded on the other bank of the blood pool, and another throwing knife slowly slid over in fits and starts.
Li Jinglong grabbed it. In that moment, Mo Rigen gently sliced a shallow gash on Qiu Yongsi, and Qiu Yongsi was also awakened by the pain. Li Jinglong then handed the second throwing knife to Qiu Yongsi for self-defense.
When Hongjun called over the third throwing knife, he was already wholly exhausted. He leaned up against the wall, unable to move for a long time.
Li Jinglong grabbed the third throwing knife, before nodding and indicating that this was enough. He returned to his original spot on the ground and laid down on his side, hiding the throwing knife in his sleeve.
“Do those two yaoguai have a spot where one strike would kill them?” Li Jinglong asked extremely quietly.
“The heart,” Mo Rigen answered.
“Where is a dragon’s heart located?” Li Jinglong continued. “In the same place as humans?”
Qiu Yongsi said, “In their yao forms, a dragon’s heart is three cun below the throat, and in their human forms, it’s between their ribs.”
Li Jinglong then nodded and said, “In a bit, I’ll attack first. Yongsi, you bait one over, and Mo Rigen, you back me up.”
The three of them each held a throwing knife, breathing heavily, and Mo Rigen said quietly, “Zhangshi, I might not be able to be of much help, so it’s all up to you.”
Li Jinglong nodded his head.
“Zhangshi…” Hongjun said quietly. “Wait a little longer… wait until my strength recovers a little more...”
Li Jinglong smiled towards Hongjun, looking at him fondly.
“Let’s move,” Li Jinglong said as he looked into Hongjun’s eyes.
“Hongjun!” Qiu Yongsi let out a surprised shout, before slamming forcefully into the cage.
The sound immediately alerted Suanni, and Suanni walked over with quick steps, chuckling coldly. “You’ve woken up?”
Just as Suanni walked past Li Jinglong’s body, Hongjun’s pupils suddenly contracted violently.
As quick as a flash of lightning, Mo Rigen forcefully kicked open the cage door with one foot, blocking Suanni’s way with a clang, attracting his attention. Li Jinglong jumped up neatly, the metal chain trailing along behind him as he pounced onto Suanni from behind.
Kicking off from the ground, leaping up, and pouncing forward -- though Li Jinglong had been subject to a cruel beating, the strength in his body was not yet lost. After he was caught, he deliberately pretended to be weak, basically not fighting back, and in this instant, he summoned all of the energy he had for this one move; at the gates of life and death, there was no space for any mistakes, and that one sneak attack was completely flawless!
In that instant, Li Jinglong’s entire body rose into the air. His right hand swung the metal chain, wrapping it around Suanni’s neck, and his left hand with the throwing knife darted out towards Suanni’s chest, instantly sending it in all the way to the hilt!
Suanni let out an angered roar and turned into black smoke that dissipated, revealing the original form of the son of the dragon, that of a huge, monstrous beast. It threw Li Jinglong off, before taking a shaky step forward, trembling non-stop, and once again turning into a human. Hongjun’s family heirloom artifacts were the Immortal-Slaying Throwing Knives, and though they had no mana powering them, they could still slice through metal like they were slicing through mud. Suanni’s heart meridian was blocked by the knife, and just as his shapeshifting ability activated, the yao energy in his body met the obstruction, causing the throwing knife to activate its own ability, and flames burst out as it collapsed to the ground!
Mo Rigen and Qiu Yongsi tottered out of the doors of their cages as Hongjun struggled to rise. In the next instant, an enraged roar issued from the blood pool as Yazi leapt out, bringing along the fresh blood from the pool that splattered everywhere as he tackled Li Jinglong to the ground!
Hongjun gritted his teeth and tossed out his metal chain, snaring Yazi, but he was so weak that with one toss, Yazi sent him flying. Mo Rigen held the throwing knife as he charged shoulder-first at him, and Qiu Yongsi staggered sideways to shove Yazi.
Yazi let out a wild roar, shoving the two of them away, just as Hongjun gathered his strength and pulled out the throwing knife embedded in Suanni’s heart. Just as he was about to rush up, a billow of black flame flew down from the ceiling, and with a peng it turned into a human silhouette behind Hongjun’s back!
Hongjun let out a loud shout as he was grabbed forcefully by a powerful arm, and his entire body was lifted up into the air!
That was Baxia, Baxia had returned!
Qiu Yongsi and Mo Rigen’s expressions changed instantly, but when they leapt forward to save Hongjun, Baxia only had to lift his hand and wave once. The black smoke exploded outwards, throwing the two of them into the corner, blood flowing from their heads.
Li Jinglong roared, “Hongjun --!”
Baxia conjured up sharp claws, closing them around Hongjun’s neck, causing his throat to contract non-stop. Li Jinglong called up an explosive surge of physical strength as he turned to try to save Hongjun, but Yazi latched onto half his body with one bite, dragging him towards the blood pool. One person and one yao sank at the same time into the blood pool.
Hongjun wanted to shout loudly, but he wasn’t able to make a sound. Baxia kept tightening his grip around his throat, and his face was set in a cold expression as he lifted Hongjun and brought him to the side of the blood pool.
Li Jinglong had been dragged into the blood pool by Yazi, and his legs kicked furiously in the water, but he couldn’t swim up. Yazi swam around him, biting Li Jinglong’s arm from behind, preparing to tear him apart into two.
“How does it feel to watch each other die?” Baxia said. “Do you want to see it?”
Hongjun’s pupils expanded slightly as he stared down at Li Jinglong within the blood pool.
Li Jinglong couldn’t stop shivering; as he drowned within the sea, his gaze was still filled with the sight of Hongjun being lifted up and dangled over the side of the blood pool… in that instant, Baxia had a fist around Hongjun’s neck, and with the other hand he held Hongjun’s throwing knife, pressing it against the side of his jaw, beginning to slowly cut into his ear.
Blood spurted wildly, incessantly spraying out from Hongjun’s earlobe.
Li Jinglong: “...”
Hongjun’s consciousness grew blurry, and the immense pain turned into icy coldness.
Li Jinglong opened his mouth and let out a desperate cry, but he only let out a stream of bubbles. Yazi’s sharp claws pierced his chest, and the pain from his heart caused his entire body to curl inwards on itself. His struggles gradually grew weaker, and his eyes were open as he spasmed within the sea of blood.
Tears gathered in Hongjun’s eyes, and his mouth opened, but he couldn’t make any sound.
In the next instant, the blood pool lit up from the inside.
A strong beam of light suddenly appeared. The bloody water within the pool exploded outwards as thousands of glowing points rose upwards into the air.
“Let go of him --!”
Li Jinglong roared angrily. His right hand clutched at the left side of his chest as his left hand stretched out in front of him. He panted non-stop, and under that bright light, he began to float upwards, even as the fresh blood around him tried to drag him back down. Yazi pounced up from the midst of the sea, opening his mouth shining with sharp teeth as he bit down hard towards Li Jinglong, but Li Jinglong used his left hand to press firmly down on Yazi’s head.
From his left hand, thousands of rays of bright light burst out. Under the glow of that light, Yazi’s entire body of dragon scales exploded, black energy scattering everywhere, fresh blood spurting wildly as it struggled non-stop, but in the end, it had no way to defend against the searing power of this white light! Instantly, Yazi’s scales were all lost, its blood turning into azure smoke as its blackened bones burst into flame under that white light, swiftly turning into grey ash!
Li Jinglong stepped lightly on the surface of the blood pool, and the glow under his feet expanded as if it was flat ground. He stumbled towards Baxia, panting as he lifted his head, staggering out of that sea of blood as if he was a demon emerging from hell. Baxia couldn’t stop breathing heavily, and in its gaze was reflected this man dripping with blood, whose hand was shining with a light so bright that it couldn’t keep its eyes open.
“Let go of him!” Li Jinglong roared wildly.
His entire body lit up with strong light, and under this glow, even Hongjun felt that his three hun and seven po had nowhere to hide, and they felt close to bursting into flame. The blood on Li Jinglong’s body vaporized into azure smoke, and in that instant, he was like a wild, vengeful demon, but also like a heavenly god who held a searing flame in his hand as he went forth to vanquish the evil in the world!
Baxia tossed Hongjun heavily to one side, instantly taking on his yao form, pouncing towards Li Jinglong!
Li Jinglong’s entire body emitted a fierce heat, like there was a burning shell of white-hot flames layered over his body. He lifted his left hand, pressing it on Baxia’s head, gritting his teeth as he said, “Go -- die!”
With a loud boom, Baxia was pushed so hard by that glow that it sank into the rocky floor. Its whole body convulsed as it struggled non-stop, letting out pained wails, before the strong light within Li Jinglong’s body flashed, and everything turned into a shadow! After multiple flashes, Baxia let out a despairing howl, and its entire body split into pieces and began to burn as it was slowly swallowed by the white flames!
Hongjun, Mo Rigen, and Qiu Yongsi each lifted up their arm to block their eyes, until the white light receded and the aura of flames around Li Jinglong slowly dissipated, leaving him panting, turning his head to look disbelievingly towards Hongjun.
Li Jinglong, “I… I…”
Hongjun couldn’t even muster up a single sentence. He looked at Li Jinglong, before the pain in his arm and ear and the loss of his energy caused him to almost faint once again.
After the time of one stick of incense:
“Press firmly against the wound,” Li Jinglong said anxiously.
Hongjun, “It’s alright, it doesn’t hurt anymore.”
“Spread the ointment on,” Mo Rigen said.
Qiu Yongsi asked, “Which ones are to be taken orally, and which ones are for external application? Hongjun, come here and take a look…”
Hongjun’s medicine bag even had some salves in there, and after picking out a few and smearing some on, Qiu Yongsi said, “We’ve got to get out quickly and get it stitched, otherwise it’d be a pity if it left a scar.”
“It won’t leave a scar,” Li Jinglong said. “It’ll get better.”
Hongjun pillowed his head on Li Jinglong’s knee, turning his head to the side to let him apply the medicine. Everyone was still in a state of shock, because everyone had almost all lost their lives at the same time, but after barely escaping with their lives, they all began to smile again.
Li Jinglong smiled for a while, before his eyes grew red again, and he couldn’t help but start choking on his sobs.
“Thank goodness Zhangshi was here,” Hongjun said.
The other two hurried to agree, “yes, yes that’s right”, before quickly changing the topic. Hongjun wanted to sit up, but Li Jinglong made him rest a little while longer.
“We need to quickly find a way out…”
Just as Li Jinglong opened his mouth, his heart twisted with pain, and after speaking that sentence, he stopped.
“What’s wrong?” Hongjun, however, began to worry.
Li Jinglong waved a hand, and Mo Rigen said, “Just now, activating that magic probably hurt your heart meridian, so lie down first.”
Li Jinglong assured them that there was nothing wrong, before exchanging a glance with Hongjun and asking, “I can use the Heart Lamp now?”
Hongjun also didn’t know for sure, and he responded, “Please make sure to not mess around with it, recklessly using your spiritual energy can very easily harm your meridians.”
Li Jinglong wanted to try out some magic, but he couldn’t call upon that energy again. It was just then, in that instant, when he lost his consciousness, that the energy had the chance to burst out.
“The Heart Lamp is the artifact of the Blazing Lamp’s inheritors, the Chen family,” Qiu Yongsi said. “It will integrate with the chakras of the body, and at the same time corrode the power of the heart meridian. Zhangshi, just now it probably activated uncontrollably in the face of danger, so don’t recklessly use it under ordinary circumstances.”
Li Jinglong furrowed his brow. “Right now, we are still in the face of danger. This place is not somewhere we should stay for long, and we can’t hold back on using the Heart Lamp. We should get out first and discuss more later.”
The wounds on Hongjun’s ear and arm had been simply dressed, and he had recovered some strength. Mo Rigen picked up the artifacts that had been abandoned in the corner, handing Qiu Yongsi a calligraphy brush.
“As long as our mana recovers, then we’ll definitely be able to get out.” Mo Rigen lifted his head and looked towards the transportation array on the ceiling of the cavern as he spoke. “If that fox yao comes back after twelve shichen, then when we cross blades again, we might be able to give her a good fight.”
“The Pentacolor Sacred Light is with her, she took it away,” Hongjun answered.
Qiu Yongsi said, “What about we find a place to ambush her and try it out?”
“Let’s first conceal ourselves,” Li Jinglong said, breathing for a second before rising, “and dispose of the bodies.”
He said bodies, but only Suanni’s was left. The four of them worked together to toss it into the blood pool, and Suanni’s corpse sank downwards. When Suanni died, Baxia had appeared for no apparent reason; these three yao were all sons of the dragon, and it would make sense that when their lives were in danger, they had some sort of special connection. Just now, despite them acting so suddenly, they actually managed to survive to the end - they really were very lucky.
There was a small pond high up in the cavern, and there was some rotten meat scattered around the edges of the pond; no wonder Suanni came to this place just now. After the four of them sketched out a plan, they rested in this place for a brief moment to recover their mana, waiting in anticipation for Lady Guoguo’s return so that they could carry out another ambush.
moon: i fought down an intense urge to pat li jinglong’s head there
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), moon.