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AIP - Chapter 68: Murder

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr

A shining sword slashed at Tang Jie's back.

Zhuang Shen used eighty percent of his strength in this attack. He was sure that Tang Jie wouldn't die from this attack, but he would be heavily injured.

But as he attacked, Tang Jie moved.

He turned around!

He raised his right hand, the sword within it blocking the edge. Clang! Zhuang Shen's sword failed to strike true, and the impact made his entire body shudder.

"You!" Zhuang Shen was shocked. The sword slash that he had been building up power for this whole time had failed to do anything. It was clear that his opponent had been ready for it.

Stunned, he was about to create a formula when Tang Jie charged up with a ruthless smile and punched Zhuang Shen in the face.

It was a savage punch that immediately had blood flowing from Zhuang Shen's nose.

He rolled on the ground to avoid Tang Jie's following attack, but then he realized that rather than pursuing him, Tang Jie was just watching him with cold eyes.

"You… you already knew…" Zhuang Shen looked in disbelief at Tang Jie.

Tang Jie shrugged. "I didn't know, but I have a habit of always planning for the worst-case scenario. Frankly speaking, I didn't expect Godhead Palace's supervisor here to be so decisive, sending someone to capture me after that incident. They're really not afraid of what will happen if they catch the wrong person… Admirable, admirable. It seems like I have a formidable foe."

Zhuang Shen blurted out, "You really are Tang Jiye!"

Through his words, Tang Jie had inadvertently confessed that he was the real deal.

Zhuang Shen had believed that he needed to fight a bitter battle and then perhaps even apply some torture to finally get a confession. To his surprise, Tang Jie had saved him a whole lot of trouble and just confessed to it.

Gu Changqing's greatest worry had been that they would catch the wrong person in this operation, but with this information, Zhuang Shen was able to cast aside his worries.

He burst out in laughter. "Good! Good! Good! Surprisingly, it is I, Zhuang Shen, who will be able to conclude this vast project of Godhead Palace! If I capture you, Godhead Palace will be certain to richly reward me, after which getting into Mortal Shedding, even Celestial Heart, will present no difficulty. Hahahaha!"

He stood up and threw aside his ordinary iron sword, taking out a purple shortsword from his bag.

This shortsword's purple blade was covered in magic inscriptions, with fire seeming to flow through them. If one looked carefully, one would discover that it had a refining formation on it.

A spell weapon!

Zhuang Shen hadn't intended to kill with his earlier strike, so he had used ordinary iron. But since his target was prepared, he naturally needed to use a magic tool.

But rather than the spell weapon, Tang Jie was more focused on the bag that had held it.

He tilted his head. "A Mustard Seed Bag… good, wonderful! I didn't think that Godhead Palace would even give you a Mustard Seed Bag to deal with me. There must be a lot of nice things in there, yes?"

The Mustard Seed Bag, referring to the saying "A universe in a mustard seed", was one of the most important art relics for cultivators.

But this kind of art relic wasn't something everyone could own. A Mustard Seed Bag able to contain one cubic meter of space generally cost one spirit jade, and one with greater volume would be even more expensive.

Zhuang Shen grunted, "Godhead Palace has expended much manpower and resources over the last few years to get back the Martial Mirror, and Eagle Master Gu has racked his brains. One Mustard Seed Bag is nothing compared to all that effort. But you didn't let down the Eagle Master and finally appeared. It's just that nobody expected you to shout that declaration in front of the academy and play a game of real or fake with us."

Tang Jie chuckled. "A game of real or fake? I can't be that hard to figure out, nor did I think that this sort of children's game would be of any use against you. I only did this because I had no other choice, because you forced me to. After all, would you have really let me be to focus on my studies?"

"We forced you to?" Zhuang Shen was confused.

He was already impatient to strike.

He hadn't come here to kill Tang Jie, only to capture and interrogate him. Since his opponent was already answering all his questions, capturing him became secondary. What was important now was to clear up all the questions he had.

If taking back the Martial Mirror was his first mission, finding out why Tang Jie had done all this was the second mission.

"Yes, you forced me to." Tang Jie nodded. "Tell me: if I didn't shout that I was Tang Jie, would you have not investigated me? If I had chosen to go to some other school and not Basking Moon Academy, would you have not investigated me?"

Zhuang Shen shook his head. "How could that be? We're watching all the schools of the Sageheart Kingdom. Basking Moon Academy is simply the most important one. And any student entering any school is marked for investigation. Eagle Master Gu never placed any hopes on you retaining your original name."

Gu Changqing was a cautious person and wouldn't suspect Tang Jie just because he shouted something, nor would he not suspect Tang Jie if he didn't shout. Everything depended on the evidence.

If Tang Jie hadn't forced him into a corner, he wouldn't have moved so quickly to capture him.

"Yes, precisely because I knew this, I didn't go through the trouble of changing my name. After all, it would be the same whether I changed it or not. So long as I wanted to cultivate Immortality, you lot would eventually come and find me," Tang Jie said with a smile.

"That's true, so I can understand why you came to Basking. Since you would be suspected no matter where you went, you might as well go to the best. But how did you know our method of investigation?" Zhuang Shen still had questions. "Rather than inspecting people one by one, what if we were secretly sending out people to investigate possible suspects? Then there would have been no need for you to shout!"

"It was your people who told me," Tang Jie replied. "If you were planning to secretly observe people, why would you have the Godhead Palace students come out in the open? No matter how weak Godhead Palace's presence in the Sageheart Kingdom is, it should be able to send more than one or two people to mix into the academy, yes? And are you not one of them? There can only be one answer. There are too many schools and too many students, so relying on two people to investigate is simply impossible."

Zhuang Shen's jaw dropped.

Tang Jie continued, "The Martial Mirror is a matter of utmost importance, and limited manpower can't possibly investigate everyone, and Godhead Palace isn't that powerful that it can appoint its own people into these schools, so it has to rely on these exchange students. Sometimes, it's not that you don't want to do something, but that you can't. Of course, you need to investigate both in the open and in the shadows. Godhead Palace is really pulling out all the stops here, now that I look back at it."

These words were exactly what Zhuang Shen was thinking, and he could only sigh. "It's true. My Godhead Palace can't cover its tracks because it can't, and you can't hide also because you can't hide. Since we can't keep things a secret, we might as well use it and take some risks, but that's because we have no other options. My Godhead Palace's students appeared in their golden clothes precisely to force you out. And your bold declaration was meant to draw out the Basking Moon Sect. It was all for the same reason: because we had no other option, because this was the only choice we had!"

The ways of the world often left people with undesirable options.

If possible, Gu Changqing wouldn't have wanted the students of Godhead Palace to appear in front of Basking Moon Academy.

If possible, Tang Jie would have never been willing to make that bold declaration in front of Basking Moon Academy.

If possible, Tang Jie would not have entrusted Wu Xing with the purchase of medicine.

If possible, Tang Jie wouldn't have even wanted to be a servant in the Wei Estate.

With the exception of those with adventurous spirits, the majority of miracles and grand feats came from people who had no other choice and were forced to take risks.

"Yes." Tang Jie also sighed. "Alas, the Basking Moon Sect didn't notice me. Your Eagle Master Gu is really quite good. He must have gone to great lengths to draw away the attention of the Basking Moon Sect, yes?"

"With each new class, Eagle Master Gu will first suppress the information on a group of suspicious students, which costs quite a lot of money. Alas, that declaration of yours easily undid all this work," Zhuang Shen coldly said. "Baiting the Basking Moon Sect and Godhead Palace into fighting each other! An excellent plan!"

Tang Jie chuckled. "Yet you still managed to guess at who I was, no? But you couldn't confirm it."

"Yes, we couldn't confirm it before, but we can confirm it now." Zhuang Shen pointed his spell sword at Tang Jie and laughed. "Where can you run now?"

Tang Jie coldly snorted. "Do I need to run? You're the only one who's confirmed anything."

A barrier of water had already appeared around him.

Zhuang Shen's eyes turned harsh. "Still trying to resist? What an idiot!"

As he raised the purple shortsword, a sword beam shot at Tang Jie.

Tang Jie blocked with his own sword and coldly replied, "You're the idiot here, no? You think I told you all that because I intended to let you live?"

"What a joke! On your own?" Zhuang Shen shouted back. He raised the purple shortsword again, and a ball of purple flame jumped out of the sword and flew at Tang Jie.

Boom! Purple flames exploded, penetrating through the barrier and crashing into Tang Jie. His entire body was wrapped in flames, forcing him to roll on the ground.

Zhuang Shen laughed as he stalked closer. "What do you think about the power of my Violet Flame Sword?"

Tang Jie continued to roll on the ground. By the time the purple flames finally went out, his body was covered in scorch marks.

Tang Jie grunted in pain. "It's quite powerful. You must cultivate the Basking Moon Sect's Yang Valley Violet Flame Mantra or Godhead Palace's Yang Heaven Fire Mantra, yes?"

Zhuang Shen was startled. He hadn't expected Tang Jie to still be in the mood to talk. He snorted, "Since I'm a Godhead Palace spy infiltrating the academy, I've naturally learned the Yang Valley Violet Flame Mantra, and I also practice the Flame Sword spell. The Violet Flame Mantra together with this Violet Flame Sword allows me to double the power of my Flame Sword spell, and even my casting speed is increased. Your Aqualight Shroud can block my sword, but it can't block the Violet Flames!" Zhuang Shen pointed at Tang Jie and shouted, "Talk! Where is the Martial Mirror?"

"You dare to try and kill me with just this?" Tang Jie chortled. "Godhead Palace can't be this stingy, can it?"

"What?" Zhuang Shen was once startled by Tang Jie's attitude.

Tang Jie stood up, all the burn wounds on his body rapidly healing.

How can that be?

Zhuang Shen didn't dare to believe his eyes.

Tang Jie stretched his neck and coldly said, "Let me tell you one more thing. The Visceral Manifestation Classic has the ability to refine the body, allowing one to absorb spiritual energy before Spirit Platform and temper the body. My body's constitution seems pretty good. While it might not be at the level of a Mortal Shedding Realm expert, I'm basically immune to ordinary weapons now, and small spells don't have much effect on me. Of course, you have the Violet Flame Sword, so your spells are a lot stronger. However, in combination with the Aqualight Shroud, I'm able to hold out. Even if I get a few small wounds, the Visceral Manifestation Classic also happens to boost recovery speed by a lot. So… you'll have to work a little harder to capture me."

"The Visceral Manifestation Classic? Refining the body?" Zhuang Shen stared in shock at Tang Jie, and then he laughed. "So that's where you get your confidence from. I didn't know that the Visceral Manifestation Classic would have this sort of use. As expected, the Martial Lord left behind some astounding treasures. Good, very good! The stronger you are, the more valuable the treasures of the Martial Lord must be, and so the greater my merit!"

His face turned savage as flames erupted from the Violet Flame Sword once more, and he slashed.

"I said already that this isn't enough!" Tang Jie swung his sword to meet the attack, and then he thrust his sword at Zhuang Shen's face.

A shield suddenly appeared in Zhuang Shen's hand, which he used to block Tang Jie's strike.

Zhuang Shen kicked Tang Jie away, shattering his barrier. He howled, "Then what about this Energy Shield?"

He had cast the Energy Shield with incredible speed. It was clear that he had practiced it hundreds of times, just like Tang Jie had.

Tang Jie jumped back to his feet.

Zhuang Shen took out a talisman and pointed it at Tang Jie. "Flying Sword Talisman!"

The talisman turned into a spirit sword that shot at Tang Jie.

Just when it seemed like Tang Jie couldn't dodge it, another Aqualight Shroud emerged.

The flying sword pierced through the Aqualight Shroud and stabbed into Tang Jie's chest. At the same time, Tang Jie let out a roar and punched at the flying sword. Bang! The flying sword turned back into countless bits of flying paper, leaving a sliver of blood on Tang Jie's fist.

This barrier and this punch left Zhuang Shen shaken. He blurted out, "You were ready for all this!"

He could train in the Energy Shield because he had the support of Godhead Palace, and for his work, he naturally needed a protective spell that he could use whenever he needed.

But Tang Jie was able to cast the Aqualight Shroud quickly because he had some purpose for it. This meant that he had been preparing for this battle for some time.

Tang Jie slowly stood up and said to Zhuang Shen, "What's so strange about that? I didn't know when Godhead Palace would come, but I have to prepare myself for the worst-case scenario… though this result isn't necessarily that bad."

Zhuang Shen guffawed. "Are you joking? You think this Aqualight Shroud can stop my Godhead Palace?"

"Why not?" Tang Jie countered. "Do you know what the keys are to deciding a battle?"

"Strength, of course!" Zhuang Shen said, once more swinging his purple sword at Tang Jie.

Tang Jie blocked with his own sword as he casually said, "Strength is truly important, but what's even more important is initiative. The person with the initiative will grasp victory. Godhead Palace is very strong, and I naturally can't beat it, but I can choose to not fight the people I can't beat!"

"What?" Zhuang Shen froze.

"You still don't get it?" Tang Jie sneered. "This is my home, my court. Only I can decide who can come in and who can't! So… I can choose my opponent!"

With a roar, Tang Jie swung down his sword with thunderous momentum.

With three heavy blows on Zhuang Shen's Violet Flame Sword, Zhuang Shen was sent staggering back, his arm beginning to ache from the shock. But he was even more shocked by Tang Jie's words.

He could choose the opponent!

He was the one with the initiative!

Only now did Zhuang Shen realize why Tang Jie was so confident. He had controlled the tempo from the very beginning.

He had the initiative, and he could choose who he fought!

When he chose to attack, it naturally meant that he was confident in his chances of victory!

This understanding left Zhuang Shen dumbfounded. Meanwhile, Tang Jie continued to attack Zhuang Shen, using the moves of the Twelve-Form Horizon Sword one after the other.

Both of them were still at the start of the path of Immortality, and using spells alone wasn't enough. Thus, they had both chosen the same path: using spells to strengthen the body. Their tactical thinking was very practical, which was a rare sight in this school.

This meant that their battle was like a clash of experts possessing sword energy, with many brilliant and dazzling flashes of light.

Tang Jie had the Aqualight Shroud, the Twelve-Form Horizon Sword, and the Visceral Manifestation Classic's body refining. Zhuang Shen had the Energy Shield, the Flame Sword spell, and the Violet Flame Sword. Both of them were also trained in sparring, and so they were equally matched.

Suddenly, with a bang, Tang Jie's Aqualight Shroud shattered and Zhuang Shen's Energy Shield exploded.

The two of them immediately cast their defensive spells again and went back to fighting, still evenly matched.

"Bastard!" Zhuang Shen growled.

He reached into his Mustard Seed Bag and pulled out another item. In a golden flash of light, a golden suit of armor attached itself to Zhuang Shen.

"Godhead Armor? Not bad! Not bad!" Rather than surprised, Tang Jie was elated.

Godhead Palace was most famous for this Godhead Armor. It had specific spells and arts related to it, as well as spell weapons and art relics. It was known for its impressive defense. As a spy Godhead Palace had planted in Basking Moon Academy, Zhuang Shen naturally couldn't study the mantras of Godhead Palace, but he had brought a Godhead Armor spell weapon with him.

Though it was of the lowest level, its defensive abilities were above the Energy Shield's.

This didn't mean that Godhead Palace was so stingy as to not give Zhuang Shen an art relic. However, the higher the level of the relic tool in question, the more spiritual energy it took to use. If a normal Spirit Disciple used an art relic, they would often be emptied of spiritual energy after a single strike. Using an ordinary spell weapon was far more flexible.

And with this spell-weapon-grade Godhead Armor, Zhuang Shen didn't have to worry about getting hurt.

Equipped with this armor, Zhuang Shen savagely snarled, "Tang Jie, you didn't really think all I had was that sword, did you?"

"Of course, I knew," Tang Jie answered to his surprise. "Since Godhead Palace sent you, it had to be sure that you would be able to deal with me. We're both part of the same class, so if you didn't have some sort of trump card, how could you be sure of victory? But did you know that I was waiting for exactly this?"

"What?" Zhuang Shen was stunned once more.

In this short while, he had been surprised by Tang Jie numerous times.

Tang Jie's smile chilled. "If you had come without treasures, do you really think I would have bothered with you? You think it's my hobby to take such big risks just so I can kill some lackey of Godhead Palace? No, I want the treasures you came with! Kill and rob, kill and rob… Killing isn't the goal. It's what you're robbing. For this battle, I used two bottles of spirit recovery pills and several hundred spirit coins, and even stopped my cultivation for more than a month so I could practice spells. Given my investment, I would have been deeply disappointed if you had brought only a few magic tools to deal with me!"

Tang Jie created a formula with his hands, and a moment later, a black silhouette lunged at Zhuang Shen!

Hypersheep325's Notes:

Zhuang Shen is the delivery boy, bringing all of his treasures right to Tang Jie's doorstep!

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Written by Yuanfen 0 缘分0. Translated by Hypersheep325. Edited by Michyrr.