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AIP - Chapter 2: Tragic Turn

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr

The battle in the sky continued. That heaven-consuming magic power stirred the air into a hurricane, and the sky darkened.

That golden-armored god was still swinging his powerful arms, each hit striking the air and stirring up a howling gale.

The immense wind pressure was like a tornado, creating barriers of wind that made each step forward excruciatingly difficult for Tang Jie.

On the other hand, that white figure weaved through the wind. With each swing of his sword, a powerful sword beam would cleave across the sky like a bolt of lightning. When they struck the earth below, they left behind deep fissures.

Tang Jie had to be cautious and avoid these stray attacks from the heavens.

He ran against the wind pressure, dodged the lightning, maneuvered his way through the forest, and jumped between giant rocks. He was as nimble as a monkey as he rushed toward the summit of Jade Orchid Mountain.

Only there could he see the Immortals in the sky, could he have the chance to talk with them.

There was another flash of light in the sky. Tang Jie instinctively lunged forward, and behind him, a beam of sword lightning crashed down, blasting a rock that he had stepped on earlier. The rock was obliterated, and the shockwave struck Tang Jie and sent him flying.

He grunted and spat out blood, after which he jumped to his feet, grabbed a hanging branch of a tree, and swung forward on it.

The farther he charged, the stronger the power of the aftershocks became. By the time he had reached the midway point of the mountain, gales were ripping across the slope, sword lightning was raining down in a deluge, and sand and gravel flew through the air.

And then Tang Jie stopped.

He had no choice except to stop!

This was because there were no trees to shelter behind up ahead. The summit of Jade Orchid Mountain had already been completely shorn of trees.

Those beams of sword energy and the omnipresent wind pressure whirled and howled across the top of the mountain, creating a world-destroying momentum. To press any farther would mean certain death.

Could he not even get close?

Tang Jie hopelessly looked up at the sky.

Those two figures in the sky had reached the most intense moment of their battle.

A blurry figure had appeared behind the golden-armored god. The moment this phantom appeared, Tang Jie felt a boundless pressure. He found that he could not see the face of that phantom, but it felt to him as if held up the heavens, its feet rooted to the earth and its head holding up the void. It was a majestic figure that one could not directly look at, and it instilled respect and awe in all who beheld it.

Tang Jie could barely control his body as it sought to prostrate. At this moment, the white figure suddenly shouted, "Rise!"

The bald top of Jade Orchid Mountain suddenly exploded with light that formed into an enormous net and locked down the entire region, including the golden-armored god.

"Eight Gates Heavenseal Formation! So you were ready for this, Xu Muyang!" the golden-armored god howled. The phantom behind him fiercely punched at this heaven-enclosing net.

The massive net erupted with light as it trembled, the space within the formation trembling with it.

Shockwaves of air rippled and surged out of the formation.

Tang Jie paled in fright, and he cast aside all other thoughts and ran back, lunging behind a giant boulder.

A howling torrent of wind blew overhead, sweeping up clouds. This powerful gust of wind lasted for a good several seconds, causing the giant stone to sway and almost squash Tang Jie.

"Holy shit, is this a nuclear bomb?" Tang Jie softly cursed.

Of course, it was much weaker than an actual nuclear bomb, but it probably had the force of several thousand tons of TNT.

The golden-armored god's heaven-alarming strike scattered apart that Eight Gates Heavenseal Formation, even slicing off a part of the top of Jade Orchid Mountain. These were both indicators of the sheer power packed into that strike.

But after this strike, the phantom behind the golden-armored god disappeared. The white-clothed man used this chance to swing his sword, striking the golden-armored god in the chest.

"Aaagh!" The golden-armored god screamed as blood gushed out.

The golden-armored god swayed a little in the air, almost falling from the clouds. It was clear that this one slash had dealt him an enormous wound.

Without the slightest hesitation, he turned and fled. As he fled, he left behind one last threat. "Xu Muyang, you can't run! Once Master comes, your death is assured!"

The voice lingered in the air as the golden-armored god transformed into a golden beam of light and shot toward the horizon.

The man in white did not pursue. He watched his opponent leave, and then his body swayed as he vomited blood and began to fly off in the other direction.

"Senior! Wait for me!" Seeing this, Tang Jie hastily charged after that man in white.

But that white figure moved as fast as lightning and was flying besides. There was simply no way Tang Jie could keep up. In the blink of an eye, he had vanished from Tang Jie's sight.

The village chief and villagers of Little River Village looked up hopefully.

The dust from the battle in the distance had settled, and the Immortals were gone, leaving behind devastation. A figure walked out from the distance.

Yaya's sharp eyes immediately recognized the person, and she shouted in joy, "It's Brother Jie! Brother Jie!"

"It's Tang Jie! He's still alive!"

The villagers began to call out, and everyone rushed over to Tang Jie and began to pepper him with questions and see if he was okay. Once they saw that he was just a little dirty, they finally relaxed.

"It's fine as long as you're still alive." Uncle Lin sighed in relief and laughed.

Yaya hugged Tang Jie and asked, "Brother Jie, did you run into an Immortal?"

Tang Jie shook his head, smiling. "I couldn't keep up with them… Even getting close was difficult… I failed."

His tone was very calm, and his smile very sincere, but everyone could hear the unwillingness hidden behind that smile.

"Failure is failure, but at least you're still alive."

"That's right, that's right! What could be more important than living?"

"Little Jie, I'm not criticizing you, but you should get a hold of yourself and stop thinking about Immortals and such. A meeting with Immortals is difficult to find, and the gate to Immortals is difficult to enter. Seeking out an Immortal to attain the Dao is not something poor people like us can think about."

"That's right! It's best for people like us to keep to our roles."

"Right, Little Jie, why don't you buy back those three fields of yours? I'll go and talk with Old Zhang about it. He'll definitely agree."

For a moment, everyone was giving their opinions. There were some who were giving earnest advice, others who were mocking him, some who were comforting him, and others who viewed his conduct with disdain.

Uncle Li was blunter with his words. "Brat, you would even give up your life to seek immortality?"

"I was just working toward what I aspired to."

"Even if it caused your death?"

"Yes! In this age, there are many people with dreams, but too few of them are willing to pay the price for their dreams."

Uncle Li had not expected a mere child to say such words, and he was rendered speechless.

Even though Tang Jie's first attempt to seek an Immortal had failed, he did not regret it.

This was because he had tried for it, done his utmost, even put his life on the line.

So long as he was striving for his dream, even if he failed, he would feel no regret.

Rather than growing discouraged, he felt even more driven to seek out the path of immortality.

Tang Jie mentally swore, One day, I will be like them and travel freely across the heavens.

No matter how many untold difficulties I must face!

After this incident, the people of Little River Village returned to their ordinary lives, ceaselessly tending to their fields.

Every day, Tang Jie would join the rest in setting out in the morning and returning at dusk. It appeared as if he had given up on his unrealistic fantasies.

But whenever he was free, Tang Jie would go alone to the summit of Jade Orchid Mountain, quietly sitting there and looking up at the sky in a daze.

The trees destroyed by the battle began to grow back. In this world of abundant spiritual energy, life was abnormally tough and tenacious.

In just a few days, the summit was once more covered in green, the rising jade once more meeting the setting sun that cast its light over this land and painted Tang Jie's body a faint golden hue.

He was like a statue erected at the summit… A month went by in the blink of an eye.

The farmwork was done, but Tang Jie continued to go up the mountain every day.

Going up the mountain had already become a habit for him, and the villagers could only mentally sigh at this sight.

Today, Tang Jie spent another day on the mountain, and by the time he came back, it was already dusk.

When he got to his home, he found that Yaya was waiting for him at the door.

The little girl looked at him with her large and bright eyes, softly muttering, "You went up to the mountain again?"

"Mm," Tang Jie grunted before moving to enter his house.

Yaya pulled him back. "Brother Tang, what are you doing? Everyone in the village says you've gone crazy. The Immortals are gone, but you still go up to the mountain every day. What's the point?"

The people in the village had already asked him this question many times.

Tang Jie had never answered.

But today, after some hesitation, Tang Jie answered, "In that battle, I saw that the man in white was injured. Injured very badly…"

"How do you know that he was injured badly?"

"Because he didn't go after that other man… I think that it wasn't because he didn't want to do it, but because he couldn't," Tang Jie answered.

"So…"

"So I think that he might not have gone very far. For him, the best plan would be to immediately find a place nearby to treat his wounds."

"So you go up to the mountain every day to see if you can find him? You still haven't given up?" Yaya's little face turned red from agitation.

"I've never given up," Tang Jie lightly said. "Even if I still fail, I still won't give up. In another year, I will leave this place to see the world and find an Immortal."

For Tang Jie, his month searching the mountain for clues was just another failure to find an Immortal.

Two failures was far from enough to make him give up.

Dreams were something that should be tirelessly pursued even if one failed countless times.

"You…" Yaya was so angered by Tang Jie's words that she was on the verge of tears.

She suddenly raised her hand and slapped Tang Jie.

It was a stinging pain.

"Tang Jie, you bastard!" Yaya shouted for all she was worth, then turned around and ran away.

As Tang Jie watched her run away, he sighed and silently apologized.

He had never intended to hurt a girl's feelings, particularly this little girl who loved him. He was internally conflicted and wondered if he should go after her and say a few comforting words. But he feared that this would only make her more attached to him. As he was hesitating, he heard the sound of horse hooves in the distance, and saw a rising plume of dust. Judging by the size of the dust trail and the thundering of the hooves, a lot of people were coming.

A moment later, a force of men seething with killing intent appeared in the distance, their figures large and muscular, and though they had no armor, they all wielded sharp sabers. The leading men were holding short bows that they aimed in his general direction.

Tang Jie was shocked and immediately got down.

Ever since he had been stabbed to death in his last life, Tang Jie would instinctively get down whenever someone aimed a weapon at him.

This reaction saved his life. As he got down, he heard the twang of a bow, and a sharp arrow brushed past his scalp and nailed itself into the wooden house behind him, the tail still quivering.

"Horse bandits!" Tang Jie flipped over and jumped to his feet, rushing to the back of the house as he loudly shouted, "Bandits are coming! The horse bandits of the Wildgrain Plains!"

Anyang Prefecture was swarming with bandits that robbed and plundered wherever they pleased. They were cruel and violent, butchering entire villages and sparing nothing. Of them, the Wildgrain Plain horse bandits were the cruelest.

Tang Jie had heard rumors about them, but he had never imagined that they would come upon his village.

As he loudly shouted and evaded, he heard another twang. One of the horse bandits had loosed an arrow at Yaya.

"Yaya, get down!" Tang Jie roared.

But the little girl was not as quick to react as Tang Jie, and the sudden appearance of bandits had already paralyzed her with fear.

Plush! The arrow pierced through her chest, and Yaya's body swayed and then thudded to the ground.

A moment later, hundreds of bandits swarmed into the village, their leader a tall and muscular man wielding a nine-ringed saber. He pointed ahead and shouted, "Kill! Kill everyone you can, and steal everything you can!"

"Nooo!" Yaya's death caused Tang Jie to howl in pain.

He saw that the bandits had already charged into the village and raised their sabers against the unprepared villagers. Blood swiftly began to spurt into the air.

A hunter raised up the knife and fork in his hands, but there was no way he could stop a mounted bandit. A saber flashed, and the hunter swiftly had his head removed from his shoulders.

Most of the villagers ran around in panic, but the horse bandits rode them down, using spears to penetrate through their backs and sabers to cut off their heads.

The bandits shouted and laughed, sparing no one, not even the old or young.

Little Tiger, Nanny Hu, Uncle He… Hiding behind his house, Tang Jie watched as the villagers were slaughtered, and his mind grew frenzied with rage.

Uncle Li ran out of the house next door. Upon seeing his daughter collapsed in a pool of blood, he cried out and rushed over.

"Don't come out!" Tang Jie urgently shouted.

A horse bandit saw Uncle Li and charged over with a savage smile.

"Bastard!" Tang Jie gritted his teeth and charged at the bandit, taking out his dagger and flinging it at the bandit.

The bandit reacted quickly, swinging his saber and accurately striking the dagger in midair. His horse rammed into Uncle Li, and the saber came down, taking Uncle Li's life. The bandit turned his attention to Tang Jie, laughing as he said, "Still one more!"

He turned his horse in Tang Jie's direction.

Tang Jie saw that the situation was grim, and began to run to the forest, seeking out that deserted trail. But the horse moved quickly, and the bandit didn't need long to catch up to Tang Jie and swing down his saber. Just when it was about to hit, Tang Jie lunged forward, avoiding the blow. He quickly turned around with another object in his hand: the rake from his backyard.

This rake swung at the bandit's waist. Not having expected a twelve-year-old boy to strike in this way, the bandit was caught off guard.

The nine points of the rake dug into his body, causing him to hiss in pain. The horse turned its head and rammed into Tang Jie, sending him flying. Tang Jie could feel that his ribs were probably broken, and he collapsed on the ground in pain.

The bandit pulled out the rake, jumped off his horse, and savagely stalked toward Tang Jie. "Foul brat, you're dead!"

He considered himself a veteran warrior who could hold his own against three or five strong men. He had never imagined that he would be wounded today by some little brat. His heart burning with rage, he was determined to tear this boy apart.

Tang Jie saw the man striding over, and then he suddenly raised his hand, obscuring the bandit's eyes with dust. He lunged forward with all his strength, and because the bandit's waist was injured, the bandit had naturally bent down a little, giving Tang Jie's mouth access to the throat.

The bandit groaned in pain, and his saber swung at Tang Jie's back. But horse sabers needed space to exhibit their full might, and they were much less effective in such close quarters. Tang Jie was determined to fight to the death, so he allowed the edge of the saber to cut at his back and continued to doggedly bite down on the bandit's throat.

The bandit began to panic, and he gathered up all his strength and tried to push Tang Jie away. But to his surprise, this move also took his life.

Using the power of this push, Tang Jie ripped out the bandit's windpipe. Blood gushed out, and the bandit gripped his throat and staggered a few steps before dropping to the ground.

Tang Jie also came crashing down to the ground.

He had taken a saber blow to the back, had been struck by a horse, and then had been pushed away by the bandit, so his injuries were dire. But he still went up to that bandit and snatched the saber from his hand.

The bandit was not completely dead yet, and his eyes were wide open as they stared at Tang Jie.

Tang Jie coldly said, "What are you looking at? Beast!"

The saber swept across the bandit's throat.

Thud!

Tang Jie vomited blood and weakly leaned against a tree.

Although he had killed someone for the first time, he felt not one trace of fear. All he had was infinite hatred for these dregs of humanity.

Suddenly, a voice rumbled like thunder through the firmament.

"Audacious bandits, slaughtering innocents! Die!"

Hypersheep325's Notes:

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