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AIP - Chapter 96: Tiger Roar Valley (4)

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr

After resting for a while, Tang Jie took Yiyi away from the mountain spring.

As they continued forward, they heard fighting up ahead.

Following the source of the noise, Tang Jie spotted five students surrounding a giant golden-haired monkey. That giant monkey was nearly three meters tall. It constantly swung around its long and thick arms, furious roars occasionally coming from its mouth. Sometimes, it would even swing a cudgel, stirring up a howling gale.

While this fellow had a big body, it was also abnormally agile. It jumped around the crowd, constantly dodging spell arts, and the one or two attacks that made contact barely seemed to bother it. Meanwhile, its counterattacks were sharp and vicious, often shattering stone.

Tang Jie had arrived in the middle of their pitched battle.

It was clear that this giant monkey was much stronger than the wolf that Tang Jie had fought earlier. However, it was facing five students, all of whom were rather strong and worked well together, so it was losing.

Tang Jie didn't come forward. He stood at a distance and shouted, "Tang Jie of the 1822nd class. Do you need help?"

The rules of Basking Moon Academy stated that if one ran into other students of the academy in combat, whether in Tiger Roar Valley or any other mission ground, one was not supposed to interfere except in dire circumstances. Instead, one had to first state their grade and name so as to avoid misunderstandings.

If one didn't state their identity, then even if one spoke constantly about helping, there was still a chance of having other motives, perhaps professing to help while doing the opposite.

This was a rule that had developed in the Rosecloud Domain after thousands of years of cultivator development. Even if you had to state a fake identity, you still had to state something. It was just like handing a gun to a person with the barrel pointed at yourself. Whether it was useful or not, doing this would at least set people at ease.

If the other party needed help, they would usually immediately state a reward so as to avoid problems that came from dividing the spoils.

As for killing them and stealing the monster… at least in Tiger Roar Valley under the administration of the academy, this was no different from suicide.

"Not right now!" the leading student shouted.

He was clearly unwilling to share the spoils with an extra person. While this giant monkey was powerful, it was just a lower-grade fiend beast. With five versus one, they were easily capable of taking it down.

Tang Jie glanced at the giant monkey and said, "You had best be careful. This should be a golden mandrill who was recently released. It was a mated pair that was released, so if this one can't win, it might call for help. You had better end this battle quickly, or else you'll be in trouble."

The leading student froze. "Are you sure?"

"I'm not sure. But I know there are only six kinds of fiend monkeys in Tiger Roar Valley, and most of them live in groups. If this isn't a golden mandrill, you might be in even more trouble… In any case, if it were me, I wouldn't fight a monkey I came across."

"If you join, we'll give you 15%!" the student shouted. "We've been fighting this monkey for ages, so this should be a completely fine price!"

Tang Jie was just about to say something when that golden-furred monkey let out a loud roar that resounded through the area.

Everyone paled at this roar.

Tang Jie quickly retreated. "It's calling for help! You had better get out of here!"

"No, we were about to win!" One of the students was unwilling to give up.

"If you don't want to get driven out of the valley, now, start running. Know when to give up!"

After saying this, Tang Jie turned and ran. At the same time, a furious roar came out of the forest, so loud that the trees all trembled as if a gale was passing through, and countless birds took flight in alarm.

An enormous golden figure began to rapidly approach. It seemed even larger than the monkey they had just been fighting.

"Not good! Run!" The leading student sheathed his sword and ran.

The five students all took to their heels, but that monkey they were fighting wasn't willing to let bygones be bygones. It chased after the students, and one of the slower students was struck in the back by the monkey's palm. As blood spewed out of his mouth, he realized that he couldn't run and reluctantly activated his jade token, teleporting out of the valley.

Seeing this, Tang Jie turned away and ran without looking back.

He hadn't attacked before, so the two monkeys ignored him and chased after the remaining four students.

Tang Jie ran all the way until he felt like he was out of the combat area. Only then did he stop, leaning against a tree and panting for breath.

Probably also scared silly by the two giant monkeys, Yiyi patted her chest and said, "Big Brother, this place is so scary!"

It had only been half a day, and they had already been forced to run for their lives twice. They claimed to be coming here to hunt fiends, but it seemed more like they had come here to be abused by fiends.

"Silly girl." Tang Jie scratched Yiyi's nose and chuckled. "If fiend beasts were that easy to deal with, they wouldn't be worth anything. This Tiger Roar Valley is actually pretty good. At least we have all the information readily available and a teleportation token to keep us safe. In the future, when we go to truly dangerous places, we won't have all these advantages. Alright, let's keep exploring and see what's in the area."

Just when Tang Jie was about to continue forward, he discovered that his hand was stuck to the tree.

Raising his head, Tang Jie discovered that a bizarre human face had appeared on the tree. The bark suddenly moved, revealing two eyes looking down at Tang Jie.

"A tree sprite!" Tang Jie shouted.

He pulled hard with his arm. Ssst! He tore his hand away from the trunk, leaving his palm a bloody mess.

Anger appeared on the tree's face, and a mouth opened up and noiselessly roared. The numerous branches on the tree turned into whips that lashed at Tang Jie.

The Formless Golden Body and Aquagel Shroud activated.

Pa! Pa! Pa!

Tang Jie's body erupted with light as the branches lashed down, and the Aquagel Shroud instantly shattered. The terrifying strength instantly sent Tang Jie flying, turning his back into a field of mangled flesh.

The moment Tang Jie landed on the ground, an enormous tree root broke out of the ground, coiled around him, and dragged him back to the tree. The tree sprite opened its mouth wide, revealing that it was packed with teeth.

Seeing that there was no avoiding this, Tang Jie produced a sword.

The Azure Light Sword!

Sword light erupted!

Whoosh! With one slash, the tree root was cut in half.

It was a savage slash that caused a tinge of pain to appear on that old tree's face.

Tang Jie took out two tokens.

The puppet token!

The beast refining token!

A puppet and refined beast appeared and charged out, blocking those tree lashes.

With these two covering for him, Tang Jie was able to leave its attack range. He took out a spirit recovery pill and swallowed it.

Using the Azure Light Sword just now had emptied him of spiritual energy.

After taking the medicine, Tang Jie angrily pointed at the tree. "Thirty coins! I'll remember this!"

A bottle of spirit recovery pills cost around three hundred spirit coins. Each bottle held ten pills, so each pill was worth thirty coins.

This tree's sneak attack had increased Tang Jie's cost by thirty spirit coins. How could he not be angry?

The tree's response was very simple. It pulled out its roots from deep in the earth, turning them into thick feet that it used to raise itself up. It began to chase after Tang Jie, and while it made each stride rather slowly, it covered a huge distance with every stride.

"Run!" Tang Jie turned and ran.

While this tree sprite was a lower-grade sprite, it was one of the strongest and most troublesome to deal with. Putting aside its tenacious vitality, it was extremely strong. Its lashing branches and tough roots would be enough to give most students second thoughts, and even a group would find it hard to deal with. Even that fiend bear that Tang Jie had avoided earlier would be no match for it.

Its only weakness was probably that it was rather slow. If it couldn't be beaten, it could be run from. This was why the tree sprite preferred to act like an ordinary tree to catch opponents by surprise.

"I hate you!" Yiyi hollered. "We're all sprites, so why are you bullying us!?"

"Not all sprites are as adorable as you," Tang Jie helplessly said.

In truth, just like fiends, sprites were mostly savage creatures. Otherwise, why would they drink blood? As sprites drank more and more blood, they would be infected by the blood energy within and gradually accumulate a murderous aura. In some aspects, they were even crueler than fiends.

As for Yiyi, she was how she was because she had spent most of her life around Tang Jie and was nurtured by spiritual blood, thus had kept her spirituality. If she had lived out in the wild, killing and eating raw flesh and blood to survive, the cute and innocent little girl would have ultimately become a cruel and vicious scorpion woman, perhaps even suffering a drop in intelligence.

Intelligence was a product of sapience and one's experience in society. True maturity could only be achieved through living in society for a long time. Even fiend beasts that had entered the Mind Opening Level only had the potential to grow intelligent, but intelligence didn't spring from nothing. The same was true for sprites. Even if they were born as Spirit Sensing, without some sort of nurturing, they would gradually fall back into chaos.

This was why it was common for Mind Opening fiend beasts and Spirit Sensing sprites who ate raw flesh and blood to be as dumb as pigs.

After running for a while and seeing that it couldn't catch up, the tree stopped chasing and returned to its original position to wait for other prey.

Tang Jie immediately saw that the tree had stopped chasing, and stopped too. Shockingly, he then began to walk back to the tree.

Although the tree was a sprite, it had mediocre intelligence. Since it had given up on the pursuit, it had decided to ignore Tang Jie.

Thus, Tang Jie stood outside the tree's attack range and began to observe the tree.

Yiyi nervously asked, "You aren't going to try and fight it, are you?"

In terms of strength, this tree was far stronger than the golden mandrill or brown bear.

"Mm, we don't have much time left. If we don't gather a little more, today will be a loss," Tang Jie coolly said.

"But we can't beat it."

"Yiyi, the greatest difference between humans and fiends, sprites, ghosts, and monsters isn't in the toughness of our fists, but that we use our heads better than them. This tree sprite is very formidable, but its greatest weakness is that it's too slow."

"Oh, I get it. You plan to fight around it, using the Energy Needle to beat it to death!" Yiyi jumped up and shouted.

"That's no good," Tang Jie replied, shaking his head. "The Energy Needle affects too small of an area and isn't suitable against these big fellows with tenacious vitality. Even the Jade-Shattering Finger would be no good, let alone the Energy Needle. If I wanted to use spell arts like these to kill this tree sprite, not even using up all my spiritual energy might be enough. And this fellow is deeply rooted into the earth, so it can constantly absorb water from the soil to recover. Even fire spell arts aren't too effective against it."

"Then what do we do?" Yiyi was baffled.

Tang Jie chuckled. "We naturally use even stronger spell arts to kill it."

"But you don't have any stronger spell arts," Yiyi pouted.

Tang Jie proudly replied, "I don't have spell arts, but I do have formations!"

Formations existed in nature, using nature as the basis and formation lines as the paths. What they emphasized was power!

The same spell art expressed through a formation would be far stronger than if cast by a cultivator.

As laying down formations took time, in normal circumstances, it was difficult for formations to be useful on the battlefield, but when facing this tree sprite, Tang Jie didn't have those concerns. He could simply take out his materials and start laying down his formation.

He was laying down the Earth Flame Fiend Formation. This was a formation that had been recorded in Xu Muyang's treatise. When perfected, this formation could produce Earthfiend Fire, summoning flames from out of the earth that would annihilate a region.

The formation Tang Jie was laying down naturally wasn't that terrifying. He cared more about how this formation produced flames out of the earth, making it perfect for dealing with this tree sprite.

Unlike fiend beasts, tree sprites normally didn't attack things outside their range, particularly a low-level tree sprite like this, which even lacked the ability to tell that someone was trying to attack it.

Thus, as Tang Jie set up the formation not far from it, it gave no reaction, allowing Tang Jie to easily finish the job.

What came next was very simple.

After laying down the formation, Tang Jie fired off an Energy Needle that struck the tree right in the trunk. Anger appeared on the tree's large face, and it raised itself off the ground and charged at Tang Jie.

Tang Jie simply stood where he was and watched the tree. Once it had charged into the formation, he coldly said, "Welcome to your death trap!"

As he snapped his fingers, flames erupted out of the ground, surrounding the tree sprite on all sides.

Hwaaa!

It let out a hoarse roar like that of a forest swept up in a gale.

The tree lashes wildly slapped at the flames while the roots burrowed deep in the earth in an attempt to extinguish the flames on them.

But this was the Earth Flame Fiend Formation, and the flames were made from spiritual energy. They would only go out when the surrounding spiritual energy ran out or the formation was stopped. Otherwise, they would keep burning no matter what the tree tried.

The tree sprite knew that this was bad and turned to flee this death trap.

Seeing that it was about to run, Tang Jie shouted, "Stop it! Don't let it run!"

The puppet and the refined beast rushed out to block the tree sprite.

Formations normally had a gate of sealing that prevented the target from escaping, but Tang Jie's formation layout was crude and lacked any sort of lock. Of the eight gates of formation arts, he had only truly used three: Death, Open, and Rest.

The Open Gate was the gate of central pivot, the Death Gate was the gate of slaughter, and the Rest Gate was the gate of circulation. These gates were absolutely necessary.

The remaining gates were the Stop Gate, which was concerned with controlling change; the Life Gate, concerned with defense; the Injury Gate, concerned with sealing and capturing; the Alarm Gate, concerned with confusion and chaos; and the View Gate, concerned with concealment and disguise. All he needed to do with these was to satisfy the most basic requirements, but they were essentially functionless.

There was nothing to be done. Another flaw of formations was that they cost resources. Tang Jie couldn't bear the cost of the complete Earth Flame Fiend Formation, and even this one with three gates was the formation at its lowest level.

Thus, if the tree sprite wanted to escape, all Tang Jie could do was try to stop it himself.

The flaming tree lashes danced, but Tang Jie braved the flames to grab hold of one of the tree's root feet and refuse to let go.

This tree sprite was incredibly strong, and he couldn't hold it down with his strength alone. Thankfully, the puppet wasn't much weaker than he was, and with each one holding down a side, they just barely managed to prevent the tree sprite from escaping.

The flaming whips lashed against his body, tearing at his clothes and burning away the cloth. Sparks hissed as they struck his body, but Tang Jie continued to grimly hold onto the tree sprite.

These Earthfiend Flames were truly vicious. Once they got onto the tree sprite, they clung tightly to the tree and burned away, rapidly consuming the tree sprite's life. The tree sprite occasionally gave a noiseless roar, its face wracked with pain. It was clear that these flames were doing immense damage.

If it escaped and its roots could absorb some water from the ground, it could still recover, but in this formation, even the ground was on fire. It wasn't long before it had been almost burned to charcoal.

Perhaps because it knew that death was near, the tree sprite let out a strange shout. The flames on its body dimmed and all the tree lashes began to draw back, pulling Tang Jie closer to it.

"Oh no!" Tang Jie paled. He knew that this tree sprite was trying to bring him down with it since it couldn't escape, so he immediately tried to withdraw.

But the tree sprite on the verge of death was a tough customer. Its roots coiled together into a giant tentacle that wrapped around Tang Jie and dragged him into the pile of flames.

A look of satisfied savagery appeared on the tree sprite's face, knowing that Tang Jie couldn't escape.

But Tang Jie shook his head. "You're wrong!"

He lightly pressed his hand against the ground.

The flames disappeared!

Ping!

Tang Jie landed on the ground in front of the tree sprite, his eyes meeting the face on the tree.

He chuckled. "I laid down the formation, so it's up to me whether it's on or off."

"Hwaaa!"

The tree sprite once more shrieked in anger. Its mouth opened, a green light shooting out of it at Tang Jie. This was a tree seed.

A tree seed was the collected essence of a tree sprite and its final trump card. If it hit the target, it would immediately start to grow within the target, absorbing their life to restore its own.

It had no other choice.

But as the tree seed flew out, Tang Jie pointed at it. "That's exactly what I want!"

A golden light flew out from the tip of Tang Jie's finger, stabbing right through the tree seed.

It was none other than the small golden needle formed from the Weapon Mantra.

This tree seed formed from the tree sprite's essence was so tough that even a high-tier Spirit Platform student would be heavily injured by such an attack, but the golden light pierced through it and then soared away in a golden streak of light.

"Aaaaah!" The tree sprite made a third shriek, like the painful scream of a human.

The branches of the tree all sagged in unison, and it began to rapidly shrivel. Ultimately, it became a desiccated old tree, that face on its trunk streaked with extreme reluctance.

Whew! "It's finally dead!" Tang Jie wiped the sweat from his forehead.

The tree sprite deserved its reputation as the most troublesome of lower-grade sprites. Tang Jie had been forced to use almost everything at his disposal to finally kill it. The formation to kill it had cost a hundred coins all on its own.

After this battle, his expenses had soared. So far, he had paid out a total of 330 coins in this venture, and this wasn't even considering that he was renting this puppet for free this time around.

If that tree sprite had managed to escape, he would have basically gone bankrupt. Thankfully, he hadn't been disappointed. This tree sprite was worth much more than that wolf.

Someone screamed behind him. It was Yiyi.

Tang Jie thought that Yiyi had found something and turned his head in shock, but he saw her covering her eyes and pointing at Tang Jie's lower body. "Ugly! So ugly!"

Tang Jie looked down and saw that the flames had rendered him almost completely naked. Embarrassed, he hastily covered himself with the wolf skin.

Seeing that Yiyi was still angry, Tang Jie was going to explain when he suddenly realized something, his face paling. "Shit! Where did it end up?"

He rushed out to find that golden needle…

hypersheep325's Notes:

Oof, another costly battle for Tang Jie. Even lost some of his dignity there...

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Written by Yuanfen 0 缘分0. Translated by hypersheep325. Edited by Michyrr.