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AIP - Chapter 99: To and Fro

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr

After resting for three days, Tang Jie headed back into Tiger Roar Valley.

This time, he was much more familiar with the valley and wasn't chased around by a mottled snake like before.

A day quickly went by. Looking over his harvest, he found that he had made a small profit after deducting the loan and the rent. Tang Jie stopped hunting and headed for Tiger Roar Peak.

He stood in front of the stone stele. That tiger had already appeared on the summit.

It coldly stared at him, the "王" on its forehead creased into a ball.

Tang Jie chuckled.

He started walking.

He stepped onto the blood-red stones.

One step!

Two steps!

Three steps!

At ten steps, Tang Jie stopped.

The fiend tiger didn't attack. It continued to watch him.

Tang Jie continued.

He took one more step and then stopped.

Whoosh!

A gust of wind!

The tiger pounced!

Tang Jie used the Violet Lightning Lunge and immediately shot backward.

The tiger's roar reverberated, but this time, it only made Tang Jie slightly tremble and failed to cut off the circulation of his technique.

The massive tiger claw slammed down on the red stones, stirring up dust.

When the dust dispersed, Tang Jie was standing outside of the boundary line, a trickle of blood running down his arm.

When the tiger had pounced, it had concealed an air blade in the storm that had injured him.

The shattered stone automatically re-formed.

The fiend tiger took several steps back, growled in warning, and turned back.

Tang Jie once more stepped in, but the fiend tiger simply glanced at him before proceeding to ignore him.

"Big Brother…" Yiyi softly said from atop Tang Jie's shoulder.

She had been sleeping when Tang Jie had challenged the fiend tiger last time, so she had no idea what had happened.

But this time, she could see everything clearly. The fiend tiger moved like lightning and struck with savagery. It wasn't something the current Tang Jie could fight.

"Yiyi, don't be afraid." Tang Jie lightly patted Yiyi. "Do you remember what your big brother told you to do?"

"Mm!" Yiyi firmly nodded.

"Then go."

"But I'm afraid…"

"Don't be afraid, Yiyi. It's not interested in you!" Tang Jie calmly said.

Yiyi tilted her head. She was somewhat baffled that the fiend tiger wasn't interested in her.

As a sprite that had managed the rare feat of keeping her intelligence, she was the best sort of sustenance for all fiend beasts.

Tang Jie chuckled. "Because it only has eyes for me… It hates humans."

He looked at the fiend tiger, meeting its gaze.

Yiyi slid down from Tang Jie's body and dodged into a bush on the side. Sure enough, the fiend tiger didn't even glance at her.

They kept up their stalemate.

After a long while, Yiyi reappeared at Tang Jie's side. She clambered up to his ear and whispered, "It's done."

Tang Jie took out a piece of wolf meat and placed it on the ground. He then shouted at the tiger, "When I come to see you next time, I hope you'll be more polite. I don't have any plans to kill you, only to talk… I know that you can understand what I'm saying. You're not like the others. You have intelligence!"

Raaaa! The fiend tiger furiously roared in response.

Tang Jie shook his head and withdrew past the stele.

Starting from this day, Tang Jie officially began his Tiger Roar Valley money-making plan.

At Tang Jie's current level of strength, it had already been demonstrated that freely traveling Tiger Roar Valley and maintaining a long-term profit was extremely difficult.

Firstly, there were numerous unpredictable risks, and Tang Jie wasn't capable of averting disaster every time. Yiyi's existence allowed him to quickly find things that others could not, but it also made it easier for the fiend beasts to notice him.

On his third trip into the valley, Tang Jie had the misfortune to run into a dread lizard that chased him for the entire day. Although this fellow moved slowly and couldn't catch up to Tang Jie, it was extremely patient and never let Tang Jie go. Besides that, it had an excellent nose and was always able to track him down.

In the end, Tang Jie didn't even manage to kill a single fiend beast. He would be halfway through fighting one when that dread lizard would barge in and force him to flee.

That day ended up being Tang Jie's Waterloo. He lost more than a hundred spirit coins, only managing to mitigate his losses with the herbs he gathered.

With no better option, he had to borrow from Shu Mingyang and the others for a fourth trip into the valley.

This time, his luck wasn't bad, and he made back a little.

Unfortunately, on his fifth trip into the valley, he was pursued by fiend beasts again. This time, it was a pack of galewind wolves that doggedly pursued him until he was forced to teleport out. Fortunately, Tang Jie had managed to get a little before that, barely preserving his capital.

Besides that, there was one other unexpected problem that reduced Tang Jie's profits.

The problem was the number of fiend beasts and spirit plants in the valley.

The rate of reproduction would always fall far behind the rate of killing!

No matter what sort of protective measures were implemented in Tiger Roar Valley, the valley's own production would never be able to meet the needs of the students.

This was why Basking Moon Academy would send out people at set intervals to catch fiend beasts and gather spirit plants that would be brought back to be placed in the valley.

This usually served as a long-term mission for the disciples of the Basking Moon Sect.

But this didn't happen every day. The resupply normally happened once every three months.

If students frequently entered the valley in this period and killed many fiend beasts, the number of fiend beasts left in the valley would dwindle.

Due to their strength, it was normally the weaker fiend beasts and the easier-to-find spirit plants that would be reduced, with the remainder being extremely difficult to deal with.

Thus, Tiger Roar Valley had its high-yield and low-yield periods.

In low-yield periods, even Tang Jie could only work to break even.

This wasn't a surprising situation. Risk and reward had always been directly proportional to each other.

Tiger Roar Valley's safety measure reduced the risk, the entry fee raised the costs, and the imported nature of the creatures and plants within reduced the predicted reward—it wasn't like the Basking Moon Sect was going to plant some supreme Immortal grass in Tiger Roar Valley.

Not even one that cost more than one hundred coins!

But Tang Jie persisted in going in every day.

His days of adventuring in the valley went for day after day.

One month quickly went by.

In this month, considering the rent and other costs, Tang Jie had made a profit, but it was much smaller than he had expected. In this one month, he had made only three hundred coins.

Three hundred coins wasn't a small number, but the problem was that he had stopped his daytime cultivation for these three hundred coins.

Consider the Essence-Refining Pills. One bottle of these pills, which could go for twelve hundred coins, could only boost a student's cultivation speed for forty to sixty days. Stopping his daytime cultivation for thirty days in exchange for three hundred coins was honestly a pointless exchange.

This was precisely why quite a few people mocked Tang Jie for his gambling nature, thinking that he was a big shot and wasting his time in Tiger Roar Valley.

If he had the energy, he could have sparred a few times and tried to place. It would be much more worthwhile than going into Tiger Roar Valley.

Even Shu Mingyang and Cai Junyang had advised him to stop several times.

But Tang Jie persisted in his plan.

And after the conclusion of every hunt, if he had not been driven out, he would go to Tiger Roar Peak.

At the start, the fiend tiger had been very wary of him.

Each time Tang Jie visited, it would immediately appear and try to kill Tang Jie.

But in truth, it was getting further and further away from being able to kill Tang Jie.

As he interacted with the fiend tiger more and more, he came to understand it better and learn its abilities.

As an upper-grade Spirit Sensing fiend beast, the tiger had four innate spell arts.

The first was the Wind Lunge spell art it used to pursue him. Like the Violet Lightning Lunge, it was good for short-term sprints but wasn't suitable for long battles.

The second was its Earth Spike spell art. It could control the earth to create spikes to attack its targets. It was of average strength, but it was a damaging spell art that covered a large area. It was also the least threatening to Tang Jie.

The third was the Tiger Roar. It had the power to intimidate and break spell casting.

The fourth was an art that could create air blades to attack opponents over a long distance. These were rather powerful air blades. Even when Tang Jie used the Formless Golden Body and the Aquagel Shroud, they could still do some significant damage.

Its true power rested in its terrifying strength. Its claws could easily tear apart anything in front of it, its teeth were sharper and tougher than upper-grade spell weapons, and its tail was like a whip that could shatter metal and jade.

Its spell arts were at the Spirit Spring Tier, but its body was definitely at the Mortal Shedding Realm.

Tang Jie even suspected it could have a fifth spell art.

The fiend tiger clearly had gifts in both Wind and Earth. The Tiger Roar was a bloodline skill and didn't need to be counted. Wind was about speed, so its Wind Lunge was extremely fast, the best of its various spells. Earth was about defense, so the spell art it hadn't used was probably some sort of rock armor. It was just that Tang Jie hadn't been able to force it out, so he had yet to experience it.

The more he understood, the more difficult it became for the fiend tiger to kill Tang Jie.

The first time, it had been able to heavily injure Tang Jie. The second time, it had lightly injured him. But after that, it wasn't even able to injure Tang Jie.

When the tiger found that it couldn't kill him, it chose to ignore him.

Tang Jie was able to make his way deeper and deeper into its cage.

The fiend tiger pursued.

It failed and gave up.

Through this cycle of pursuit and giving up, Tang Jie was able to widen his area of activity more and more.

It went from ten steps all the way to eighteen steps.

Every time, before leaving, he would leave behind some food.

But the fiend tiger had never once touched it.

As time went on, the fiend tiger totally ignored Tang Jie, not even trying to grab Tang Jie after he ventured twenty to thirty steps in. It was as if it had tacitly accepted Tang Jie's right to exist.

Alas, no matter how much Tang Jie called out to it, the fiend tiger didn't respond, as if it couldn't understand what he was saying at all.

Thus, Tang Jie didn't continue to advance. He kept a safe distance of twenty steps, never going beyond this limit.

This stalemate between man and tiger continued. Tang Jie continued to go to Tiger Roar Peak every chance he had, like he was going into his own home. It appeared that they had gradually grown used to each other's existence… Tang Jie had come to Tiger Roar Peak again today. The fiend tiger was still lazing on the rock at the summit, not even glancing at Tang Jie.

He sent Yiyi off to do her job while Tang Jie walked around the activity area he had set out for himself.

As he strolled around, he suddenly spotted a little red flower growing behind a rock nearby. There was a red fruit hanging from it that was about the size of a pomegranate.

"Redpaste fruit?" Tang Jie gasped.

This fruit was clearly the Fire-type fruit, redpaste fruit, and it had just reached full ripeness.

Redpaste fruit wasn't a particularly rare kind of spirit fruit. It was of the Fire element, and it was valuable whether it was used for cultivation or in medicine.

But redpaste fruit had a rather long ripening period, requiring several years to truly ripen. Cultivators normally weren't interested in waiting that long. After all, it wasn't like just anyone could seize this area for their own. Thus, they would often pick it when it was just beginning to ripen. It was extremely rare to see a redpaste fruit in Tiger Roar Valley that was this ripe.

The redpaste fruit in front of Tang Jie was completely ripe, making it much more valuable than the usual redpaste fruit. If he could pick it, he could sell it for at least one hundred and fifty coins.

Tang Jie then realized that this was also an area of highly concentrated spiritual energy, and Basking Moon Academy had probably sowed spirit seeds here. But as the fiend tiger was guarding this place, Tiger Roar Peak wasn't a place just any student could come up to. As a result, many of the good things here had yet to be picked, and this redpaste fruit had clearly been preserved until now because of the fiend tiger.

The fruit wasn't far, only three steps out of the safety zone he had prescribed for himself.

The fiend tiger wasn't moving and the redpaste fruit was right there. Tang Jie's eyes flashed, and he rushed at the fruit.

The moment he left his safety zone…

The tiger roared!

The fiend tiger instantly got up and lunged down, fast as lightning!

But the moment it lunged, Tang Jie stopped.

He put a complete stop to all his forward momentum, turned around, and ran back to the boundary stele.

Boom!

The tiger claw struck air.

As Tang Jie rushed back to the stele, Yiyi swiftly appeared. She tightly held on to Tang Jie and nervously looked at the fiend tiger.

Raaaa! The fiend tiger was enraged over having missed again, and it roared at Tang Jie.

Tang Jie chuckled.

He stood on the boundary line and coolly said, "You shouldn't find it strange that I was so vigilant. I already said that I knew you were playing dumb."

The fiend tiger glared at Tang Jie.

"I just want to talk with you… alas, your hatred for humans is too deep. It seems that we won't be able to talk unless I beat you up. That's fine with me. I'll come and defeat you. I hope that you will be a little more cool-headed then." Tang Jie turned and left.

hypersheep325's Notes:

Tang Jie continues to play a game of cat and mouse with the tiger, but to what end?

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