Chapter 542: Ace in the Hole
Translator: Sparrow Translations Editor: Sparrow Translations
Having progressed to the Advanced Aurous Core stage and undergone reclusive training at the Wasteland Valley with the help of the Kui Cow King and the Feilian King, the level of Shi Tianhao’s Agile Flesh Theurgy has reached yet another new high.
The thunderous, earth-shattering Divine Martial Way of the Muscular Body transformed into the form of the Thunderstorm Demon and God. Now, Shi Tianhao no longer needed to gather thunderbolts and winds as the power of the thunderstorm could already be absorbed into his body with just a plain thought in his mind. Neither did he need to mould the storm’s appearance further, with it already being tightly bonded to his actual body. This was in fact oddly similar to how a martial arts cultivator like the Marquis of Jinghuan integrated a cosmic form into his physical body.
Under such circumstances, Shi Tianhao’s physical combat abilities are heightened to formidable levels, using his Advanced Aurous Core mastery against the real Marquis of Jinghuan at the peak of the Advanced Nascent Soul stage. However, the Marquis of Jinghuan immediately sensed that something was amiss.
“Are you really Shi Tianhao?” The Marquis of Jinghuan gawked at him. “Your physical strength is this strong? The Man with Polycoria can’t even move the Nagaraja Buddha with his Nascent Soul mastery, and he supposedly still pales in comparison to you?”
Shi Tianhao appeared calm. “Have you faced him in battle before?”
The Marquis of Jinghuan replied by firing another question. “But is physical strength your greatest forte? In that case, you’re not even an equal match for the Man with Polycoria. After all, physical strength remains his weakest domain, and since you can’t even stand at an advantage when facing his weakest domain with your area of expertise, then there’s no need to compare any other aspects. As for me, you won’t even stand a chance.”
As he said this, the Marquis of Jinghuan abruptly leapt a step forward which shook his surroundings so much that the space began to shudder. Such a heavy step actually looked incredibly light and agile as the Marquis of Jinghuan’s body instantly vanished into thin air before appearing in front of Shi Tianhao in a violent gust of power, grabbing him with his talon-like hands. As the Marquis of Jinghuan sank his fingers in, Shi Tianhao felt as if his body was being ripped apart, temporarily rendered immobile.
Shi Tianhao sneered and regained his composure. His body has already recovered to its original condition and broken free of the spiritual paralysis inflicted by his opponent. He swung his dual fists towards the Marquis’ two wrists, about to crush those claws to bits.
Both sides countered speed with more speed, having already exchanged numerous blows within split seconds. The Marquis of Jinghuan stared Shi Tianhao down and laughed cruelly, “If this is all you’ve got, then it all ends now.”
Shi Tianhao refused to reply. The mana from his Four Appearances Heaven Cleaving Script began to unravel as the space behind him suddenly distorted into an opening which gave off an incredibly vicious aura, growing even more agitated and destructive as it fused with Shi Tianhao’s body.
The Marquis of Jinghuan was a little taken aback. “What is this? Looks like a spell but it’s not, looks like martial arts but it’s not either.”
The opening seemed to be concealing an immemorial super-beast that had just awoken from its slumber and was about to descend down to the mortal world to slaughter and devour everyone in its path.
The Marquis of Jinghuan lifted his arms and the sound of pulling bowstrings suddenly erupted from his body like a heavy downpour, as if thousands of skilled archers drew their bows in unison. With this motion, he seemingly transformed into an army of archers thousand-strong with countless of bows ready to fire upon command.
In the next instant, the Marquis of Jinghuan’s raging fist was completely unleashed. The dense barrage of punches was like a torrential shower of arrows that blanketed the entire sky, raining down on Shi Tianhao, about to drown him in an ocean of spears.
With that, he has already activated more power than the time he duelled Shi Tianyi. Every shadow punch was a formidable arrow that could puncture a mountain and fracture the earth, loaded with frighteningly explosive energy, locking on to every inch and morsel of Shi Tianhao’s skin. Every fist carried incredible amounts of penetrative power. Any one of them could easily pummel Shi Tianhao until he spewed blood no matter how well-built his physique was. And now, tens of thousands of fists overcast the heavens and bombarded down like rain.
Shi Tianhao smirked, evidently unfazed and fearless. The opening in space behind him grew increasingly terrifying as a ferocious roar erupted from within, as shrill and piercing as a baby’s wail. Just the sound alone could wreck the souls of lower-level cultivators, petrifying them into idiots.
The silhouette of a savage beast gradually faded into view from within the opening. It had the body of a goat, jaws of a tiger, and the face and hands of a man with its eyes at its shoulders. It was one of the four Immemorial Evil Beasts – the Taotie!
When Xiao Yan and Zhu Yi studied the same Four Appearances Heaven Cleaving Script, they integrated their understanding of their own mantras into the script and subsequently derived an entirely new Abhijina, hence adopting a cultivation technique that stemmed from the inside out.
Shi Tianhao, on the other hand, used the Four Appearances Heaven Cleaving Script as a foundation and then churned his mana into a furnace to smelt the spiritual essence of a sacrificed beast. From there, he created a completely new Abhijina by employing a method that approaches from the outside in. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, with no method being strictly superior than the other. They originate from the same source but take two different paths, yet both still achieve the same goal in the end.
The first furnace that Shi Tianhao created in the opening in space was littered with black soot, silent like a black hole. The silhouette of the Taotie merged with his body, and he seemingly morphed into a black hole himself. The Marquis of Jinghuan’s shadow punch descended into the black hole like a clay ox dropping into the ocean, not producing a single sound.
Rays of black light glowed around Shi Tianhao and instantly closed in on the Marquis of Jinghuan before unleashing an attack. The Marquis frowned and took a deep breath. The portions of his skin that were not covered by his robes suddenly turned as white as jade. His hands were especially flawlessly clear, pure to the extreme, seemingly transparent as all his bones and veins were clearly visible.
The astounding levels of power grew more and more pronounced, about to crush Shi Tianhao. This was the Martial Arts Abhijina of the Great Void Sect – the All-Enveloping Hand of Heaven.
He effortlessly flicked his fingers and thrusted his palm towards Shi Tianhao. His jade-like hands basked in glowing light which shrouded the skies and earth, like a seamless blanket without a single gap, perfectly flawless. Such power was so majestic that even if there existed cracks in the heavens, a single hand could simply stretch up to repair the slit.
This light forcefully suppressed the suction force of Shi Tianhao’s surrounding black void wherever it could reach. The Marquis of Jinghuan’s flawless crystal-clear hands of jade collided violently with Shi Tianhao’s dual fists, and both sides exchanged thousands of blows within the next instant.
“Not bad.” The Marquis of Jinghuan may be arrogant, but as someone with a military background, he was an absolute pragmatist. To him, a dead enemy is a good enemy. Any kind of tactics work fine as long as the foe is eliminated.
Hence, after witnessing Shi Tianhao’s formidable mana and Abhijina which he could not take down in a short amount of time with his own mastery, he completely ignored the fact that he was realistically an entire level higher in terms of mastery and immediately resorted to the Ancient Royal Dagger. He had to abandon his pride first to focus on slaughtering the foe before him.
Xiao Yan stood at the edge of the ongoing thunderstorm, on one hand observing the dreaming young lady inside the tempest worriedly, on the other hand keeping track of the progress of Shi Tianhao’s battle.
He noticed the Marquis of Jinghuan drawing the Ancient Royal Dagger and sneered, “Your magic treasure is indeed formidable, but you can’t unleash its innate potential to its maximum. I won’t interfere with your match if you face my junior fair and square. But if you dare touch that dagger, you’ll face my wrath.”
As Xiao Yan exclaimed this, the Four Legendary Primordial Fires behind Xiao Yan condensed into a huge pair of blazing wings which instantly spread open and blotted out the sun.
“The elder trapped in the Immortal Royal Flag is about to be freed, while Zhener will soon overcome the Thunderstorm Tribulations successfully. You’re just courting death by sending yourself here.”
“But I beg to differ.” The Marquis of Jinghuan’s voice reverberated through the space, but this was yet another one of his clones. This clone, however, was not a martial arts cultivator. It donned flowy white robes, with his surrounding spiritual energy brimming with vitality. It gripped a scroll of a painting in its hand which emanated fluctuating mana waves. The clone was as traditional as a spell cultivator could be.
The Marquis of Jinghuan’s clone held the painting and looked at Xiao Zhener in the raging storm as well as Yue Hongyan on the other side. He chuckled, “Double the rewards, this is truly an unexpected surprise. This was certainly worthwhile of me to leave the Man with Polycoria.”
Xiao Yan frowned, “You sure have many clones. Do you have a third one? Why don’t you show it to us?”
The Marquis of Jinghuan muttered quietly, “I already have enough.”
With that, he suddenly rolled the scroll open. Countless shadows danced on the scroll, with the images being strange, unpredictable, and ever-changing. At times, they are gorgeous and dignified ladies, at times they are picturesque mountains and rivers. At times, they are pavilions and terraces, at times they are lakes and oceans. One moment it’s the blistering midday sun, the next it’s a fine drizzle, or even a completely blank page. The transformation of the images was akin to spatial dimensions constantly shifting and boundless space spinning and folding.
Xiao Yan’s pupils contracted slightly. Having experienced something similar before, he promptly determined that the Marquis of Jinghuan’s painting scroll was neither a magic treasure nor a magic item, and instead resembled the scroll with the Heaven-Destroying Sword Qi planted on the seal which he previously received from Lin Feng.
This scroll contained Abhijina of various all-powerful cultivators and was classified as an expendable item that could only be used once. That being said, the sealed Abhijona was so frighteningly formidable that it could obliterate the entire place.
When the elder trapped in the Immortal Royal Flag emerged from within and noticed the scroll, his expression instantly changed.
Without a respectable cultivator in the Advanced Immortal Soul levels as a host, the Immortal Royal Flag is unable to harness the powers of countless magic treasures. But the mana and Abhijina contained within this scroll was sealed by true powerhouses in the Immortal Soul stage, and would produce a one-off attack albeit at maximum power. Furthermore, this spell was not sealed by someone in the Immortal Soul Second Level, but the Third Level!
After the Marquis of Jinghuan unrolled the scroll, he did not stop there, instead smiling as he extracted a piece of jade from his chest pockets, speaking calmly, “You destroyed the Yu Family’s ancestral grounds by relying on your master’s Sword Radiance, your Physical Spell Body, and a single magic treasure.”
“I possess the Ancient Royal Dagger and the Immortal Royal Flag. Even if you obtain a magic scroll, I have a similar weapon here as an answer to yours. And even if the Leader of the Celestial Sect of Wonders sends another Physical Spell Body to you, I have prepared adequately for that possibility as well.”
He waved the piece of jade in his hand and smirked, “Have you heard of the Ultimate Annihilation Spell? It’s the perfect countermeasure against the Physical Spell Body, and can destroy all spell bodies created by Abhijina. That being said, this Annihilation Spell Jade is really difficult to find. I only managed to obtain it after much searching, but all that effort is indeed worthwhile after meeting these two beauties today.”
“The Leader of the Celestial Sect of Wonders is truly one-of-a-kind, boasting such magnificent and boundless Abhijina, but he has one weakness: he spoils his disciples excessively.” The Marquis of Jinghuan gazed at Xiao Yan before turning to Shi Tianhao. “As for you conceited fools, today you will learn that arrogance is a one-way road to certain death.”
He fiddled with the Annihilation Spell Jade between his fingers and cracked a grin. “In a sense, arrogant disciples are the Achilles heels of the Leader of the Celestial Sect of Wonders. Having imperfections means that he is not as flawless as he seems, which also means that he can be surpassed and defeated!”