AIP - Chapter 72: Change of Strategy
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
When Tang Jie woke up, the sky was brightening.
Little Yiyi had exhausted herself from crying and had fallen asleep next to him.
Looking at the debris scattered across the ground, Tang Jie felt speechless.
He now understood what the Weapon Mantra was really about.
His one finger thrust from last night had almost drained him of all his strength.
If he hadn't been cultivating the Visceral Manifestation Classic for three years, improving his constitution to a far higher level than an ordinary person's, this one finger might have crippled him.
And it was also a good thing that he had targeted a spell weapon. An art relic probably would have cost him his life.
The night had passed, and Tang Jie still felt dizzy, his footsteps heavy. It felt like he had just spent a wild night with a dozen girls.
It was no wonder the Martial Lord had required a powerful constitution. With his current constitution, he would probably need seven or eight days to recover.
But… why did it feel like something wasn't right?
Tang Jie glanced at the debris on the ground.
He destroyed a low-ranked spell weapon just like that?
Though he wouldn't have been able to use the Violet Flame Sword himself, it was still a spell weapon that he could have sold for a lot of spirit coins.
Tang Jie's heart twisted in pain as he realized that he had destroyed nearly one thousand spirit coins last night.
As he began to clean up the pile of metal shards, he discovered a golden light flashing in the debris.
He squatted down, pushed aside the metal, and found a little golden speck.
He gently picked it up and found that this golden speck seemed to have some sort of connection to him. With a single thought, the golden speck flew up and began to circle around his body.
With a wave of his hand, the golden speck seeped into his body, and as it flowed through his blood energy, Tang Jie sensed that he could release this golden speck whenever he wanted.
He recalled the scene where the Martial Lord had exhibited his divine might. With a single shout, he had shattered all weapons and drawn them into his palm. Tang Jie instantly understood and blurted out, "Condensing a weapon!"
With shattering, there was also condensation!
Shatter all weapons to condense and refine a divine weapon!
This was the true meaning of the Weapon Mantra.
But it appeared that destroying a single spell weapon had only condensed this single golden grain, which couldn't be used for anything.
Even so, Tang Jie was still pleasantly surprised. When next he battled a foe, he could destroy their weapon with a single move, allowing him to fight however he pleased.
But he quickly grew worried once more.
The Martial Lord's techniques were all extremely simple, but they were also extremely difficult to cultivate.
One required collecting the world's rarest herbs. It was no wonder the Martial Lord had made his fame through combat. He wouldn't have had a future if he didn't fight!
But Tang Jie had no plans to fight everyone in the world and dominate it all by himself. In his view, to become everyone's enemy was to fail as a human.
But today, this Immortal art he had learned about was telling him that there were some things that had nothing to do with pursuits, personality, intelligence, or ability to conduct himself!
The path of the strong was carved out through battle. Flattering everyone made life smooth and easy, but it caused one to lose sharpness!
At times, it wasn't that one didn't understand how to behave, but that one didn't want to!
"So when necessary… you have to fight!" Tang Jie muttered.
At first, he was somewhat regretful that Godhead Palace had forced him to fight a battle of little meaning. If Godhead Palace didn't back away because of this and instead chose to go on a frenzied counterattack, then he would definitely have made a loss.
But now that he was enlightened, he felt heroism swelling up in his heart. Gu Changqing, if you really don't know what's good for you and act without care for the consequences, why don't I rely on Basking Moon and fight to the end with you?
In the end, one's nature was difficult to change. Though he had hardened his resolve to fight, he had added on the condition of "relying on Basking Moon".
If the Martial Lord had been reborn and able to hear what Tang Jie was thinking, he would have kicked him away and tried to get as far as possible from him.
After putting away that golden speck, Tang Jie went to class.
After morning class, Tang Jie handed the puppet over to Wei Tianchong.
Wei Tianchong was delighted to find out that his puppet was ready. He grabbed it and repeatedly looked it over, at the same time asking about what sort of things this puppet could do.
Tang Jie gave him a detailed explanation, though he naturally didn't bring up the Spirit-Closing Powder. While the wolf puppet was small, it was nimble and fast, and its attacks were vicious. If not for this puppet, Tang Jie probably would have died to Zhuang Shen last night.
As he listened to Tang Jie's explanation, Wei Tianchong admired his precious puppet. Suddenly, he spotted several cracks on the puppet and exclaimed, "Why does this puppet seem cracked?"
Tang Jie hastily said, "Oh! Those are formation lines."
"Formation lines? Aren't formation lines hidden?" Wei Tianchong was confused.
"There are also some formation lines that aren't easy to hide."
"You're sure?" Wei Tianchong seemed doubtful.
"Of course," Tang Jie firmly said.
Wei Tianchong looked it over and muttered, "Why do I feel like it will fall apart in a fight?"
Tang Jie immediately said, "You had best keep a good eye on it. This wolf puppet emphasizes lightness, speed, and agility. Its attacks are swift and infused with lightning that can numb the opponent. You can install secret weapons in it and it can fight in close combat, and because it's small, it's ideal for sneak attacks. But this means that it's not good for attacking powerful foes. But there's nothing to be done about that. After all, it's just a Rank 1 puppet. It's already pretty good that it can do this much."
"Oh, I see," Wei Tianchong said, scratching his head.
"Why don't we try it out?" Tang Jie suggested.
"Alright." Wei Tianchong quickly put the puppet down and used the Spirit Guidance spell. Controlled by the spirit thread, the wolf puppet moved as quickly as the wind. With one swipe of its claws, it tore two big chunks out of a small tree. If it had been used on a human body, it would have taken a life, or at least a big piece of flesh. Purely in offensive terms, it did not lose out to low-rank offensive spells. It was just a little lacking in variety, only able to attack using its claws and head.
But cultivating spells required long and bitter cultivation, whereas the wolf puppet could continuously attack as soon as it was complete, and it didn't use up spiritual energy. It was much more practical than a spell, and it was worth the two thousand spirit coins he had spent.
Tang Jie asked, "What do you think?"
Wei Tianchong repeatedly praised, "Mm, it's good, good! It's really rare to see a Rank 1 puppet with such agility!"
"Of course, this is the agility model. Remember that you absolutely cannot let it fight a head-on battle," Tang Jie reminded again, still unable to relax.
"Relax," Wei Tianchong casually said. "I would rather be injured than let it get damaged."
Tang Jie managed to muddle his way through and let out a sigh of relief. I managed to pull a fast one this time, saying that it was good at attack and weak at defense, but for the next puppet, unless the material is tough enough, I have to add a protection formation.
Wei Tianchong took the puppet for a walk like it was a dog, and as expected, he caused a lot of heads to turn.
Quite a few people found the puppet very interesting and came over to ask him how he had made it, and Wei Tianchong made sure to spice up the story, winning the envy of the crowd. Wei Tianchong's vanity was satisfied, and he felt like this casual walk alone made his two thousand coins worth the money.
Several girls were drawn over by the puppet, and Wei Tianchong used the opportunity to chat them up. At that moment, the wolf puppet became a BMW, attracting countless beauties. Wei Tianchong felt like he had ascended to the heavens, that this was the most wonderful moment in his life ever since he had entered the academy.
Tang Jie accompanied Wei Tianchong in playing around for a while, and then the two of them returned to their respective residences.
As they were walking, a group of people suddenly appeared in front of them. It was Teacher Xin Yue followed by a pack of students, all of whom were monitors. They had grim expressions, and it was easy to see that something bad had happened.
The other students found it strange and began to wonder what had happened. Only Tang Jie knew that it was probably because a corpse had been found in a small grove at the base of the mountain.
As Basking Moon Academy now knew, that Gu Changqing probably knew as well, right?
He was wondering how the two sects would react and was quite looking forward to it.
The thought made a smile appear on Tang Jie's lips.
Another desk was obliterated.
The Eagle Nest's tables had been very unfortunate as of late.
Gu Changqing's face was green, matching his name (Greenface Gu).
Down below, Gao Fei, Qi Ming, Zhao Xinguo, and the others silently stood, too afraid to talk.
Gu Changqing glared at Gao Fei. "Why did it turn out like this?"
Gao Fei dropped his head and replied, "Your subordinate is incompetent and did not handle things properly. Zhuang Shen must have realized that we planned to silence him, so he decided to betray us, killing Min Dong before running off."
The operation had been a total failure. Nothing had happened to Tang Jie, while one operative had died and the other had gone missing with everything he had. Gao Fei could not escape the responsibility for all this.
Worst of all was that while Zhuang Shen was an infiltrator, Min Dong's status as a student of Godhead Palace had been out in the open.
If only Zhuang Shen had gone missing, Godhead Palace could claim that this matter had nothing to do with them, but Godhead Palace had to deal with Min Dong's death no matter what.
And there was also that line of words left next to the corpse, which placed the blame on Godhead Palace. Not only could Godhead Palace not blame this on anyone else, it gave the Basking Moon Sect an opportunity.
Gu Changqing looked at Gao Fei and then weakly sat back on his chair. "Xie Fengtang sent someone to me telling me that I needed to give an explanation to the Basking Moon Sect… It was clearly a disciple of Godhead Palace that was killed, yet I have to give the Basking Moon Sect an explanation!"
Gu Changqing cast aside his grace and began to shout.
"Trash! All of you are trash!"
It was hard to blame Gu Changqing for being angry. Two operations in a row had utterly failed somehow. Not only had they failed to find out if they had the right target, Godhead Palace had been pushed into a very passive position.
Exploding with rage, he cursed at all his subordinates in the Hawk Hall, Gao Fei included.
Everyone down below glanced at each other. Finally, Qi Ming cupped a fist in his hand and said, "Eagle Master, your subordinate has something to say."
Gu Changqing darkly said, "Are you going to say that my Hawk Hall disciples have gone through intensive training and have executed various missions far more difficult than this one, and such a mistake has never occurred, at least not as low-class of a mistake as this, so how is it that we have made mistake after mistake when it comes to Tang Jie?"
Qi Ming's mouth opened and closed, and all he could say was, "Yes. Eagle Master is wise."
Gu Changqing grunted, "I naturally have my doubts, but a failure is a failure. Your incompetence is cold, hard reality!"
"Yes!" Gao Fei saluted. "This disciple is willing to take the punishment!"
"You made a mistake, so you naturally have to take the punishment, but our first priority is to find out exactly what happened. Gao Fei, Zhuang Shen was your responsibility. What do you know about him?"
Gao Fei replied, "This disciple recruited Trickster Ghost into the sect, and he has always trusted in me. He has an average mind, but he is a diligent cultivator and a hard worker. I was quite optimistic about him, never thinking that… he would be such a letdown."
Gao Fei had a very reluctant look on his face as he spoke.
"Do you think he could have realized our plan and struck back?" Gu Changqing asked.
Gao Fei's mouth opened, but in the end, he could only shake his head.
Gu Changqing knew that a shadow had been cast on Gao Fei's heart, stripping him of his confidence. He could only sigh and say, "The human mind is unpredictable, and it's normal for you to not see it. If you had revealed something in your words or arrangements, Zhuang Shen might have been able to notice something…"
"But this could also have been Tang Jie's work!" Qi Ming immediately said.
He was still unwilling to accept his previous failure, and just like how Gao Fei had worked to protect him, he was returning the favor and trying to protect Gao Fei.
"Yes, this is a possibility." Gu Changqing didn't retort this time. "But, Gao Fei, how many spell weapons did you give Zhuang Shen?"
Gao Fei hurriedly replied, "The Violet Flame Sword, Godhead Armor, a Refined Beast Token, and Immortal-Binding Rope. For combat alone, I gave him four, and that's not even mentioning the talismans and pills. Zhuang Shen was a very diligent cultivator, so though his cultivation level was rather low, he had decent combat experience and could react quickly. With his strength and any one of those spell weapons, he shouldn't have failed unless he encountered a genius. With four such treasures, he might have even been able to beat a monster like Qi Shaoming or An Rumeng."
"Then if Tang Jie wanted to cause trouble, he would have to at least have the strength to beat Zhuang Shen first, yes?"
"Do you think he does?"
Gao Fei's mouth opened and closed, and then he finally replied, "From what we know so far, Tang Jie hadn't learned any spells or mantras before entering the academy… five-cycle Jade Gate, no resources, and all he had was the scale from Li Yu. There is truly no way for him to make up for such a large gap."
"Then we still can't confirm it!" Gu Changqing snorted.
To tell the truth, this situation was getting more and more confusing for him.
Even if Tang Jie had laid a trap, it didn't make sense for him to be able to defeat Zhuang Shen.
Zhao Xinguo said, "Eagle Master, isn't finding out the truth simple? We just need to find Zhuang Shen. Since he killed Min Dong and ran, and it's only been a night, he can't have gone far. We should still be in time to capture him."
"Find him? You're right about that." Gu Changqing grunted, surprisingly not rebuking him. Instead, he said, "But let me ask you this. If you were Zhuang Shen and were on the run after killing someone, knowing that Godhead Palace would come looking for you, what would you do?"
Zhao Xinguo was startled and momentarily unable to respond.
In the end, it was Gao Fei who replied. "In times of crisis, a person will often be driven to desperate action. Zhuang Shen knew the secret of the Martial Mirror and knew the value Godhead Palace placed on it. If we pursue him too closely but fail to catch him, he might reveal everything as a last resort. Unlike that Tang Jiye, he doesn't have the Martial Mirror, so he doesn't care about what will happen once the news of the Martial Mirror leaks."
Zhao Xinguo was dumbfounded by this reply.
He truly hadn't realized this problem.
Gu Changqing said, "Capturing Zhuang Shen isn't out of the question, but we can't search out in the open. We have to search secretly and ensure that we can capture him in one move so that he doesn't do anything desperate. But the sea of people is vast, so secretly searching for him is easier said than done."
If they couldn't find Zhuang Shen, they would temporarily be unable to determine the truth. One could also say that they could only trust what they saw on the surface, which made Gu Changqing feel very helpless.
"Then what do we do now?" Gao Fei asked.
Gu Changqing sat back on his chair.
He massaged his forehead and thought long and hard before saying, "Secretly pursue Zhuang Shen. As for Tang Jie, put a pause on all operations concerning him for now. Just keep watching him. And for the Basking Moon Sect, I will go and give them an explanation. Zhao Xinguo, take a trip to Anyang and find those people who met Tang Jiye before."
Gu Changqing had not trusted these people before, but now, it seemed he had to place his hopes on these old folks who had met Tang Jiye before.
"But the time it takes to go there and back…" Zhao Xinguo wasn't very happy to do something that offered so little challenge.
"Tang Jie will be spending ten years in this school. We have enough time to take things slowly." Gu Changqing had already made up his mind.
When it came to Tang Jie's plan, Gu Changqing had initially chosen violence as the solution.
But despite the use of violence, the scheme remained unbroken.
After suffering two losses in a row, he finally decided to change his risk-taking strategy and take things slowly.
In the current situation, he no longer had the option of ending things quickly.