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AIP - Chapter 111: Negotiating with a Tiger for Its Hide (3)

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr

When Tang Jie woke up, he found that he wasn't where he had fallen unconscious, but inside a cave.

The cave was very clean, though there was a pile of bones in the corner.

There were many bones, piled up into a small mountain.

Tang Jie sat up.

"You're awake?" A voice suddenly spoke.

Tang Jie instinctively turned his head and saw the fiend tiger standing behind him, staring at him with its green eyes that carried an indescribably sinister and eerie aura.

"You can talk?" Tang Jie blurted out.

"Try again."

Tang Jie froze, and then he realized that the tiger was growling. It was just that he was somehow able to understand these growls.

"You can't talk, but I can understand tiger language?" Tang Jie said in surprise.

"Tigers have no language. This is merely a mental connection. If you could understand tiger language, nothing would be impossible."

"Oh, I see." Tang Jie dropped his head and looked at himself.

The wound on his chest was already closed, and he seemed to have an extra ball of memories in his mind. As he closed his eyes and looked them over, he suddenly understood. "Blood Refining Spirit spell… So this is the secret art your tiger lineage used to resist Soulscour. It's a body-strengthening spell?" 

Tang Jie gasped in surprise.

The Blood Refining Spirit spell wasn't simply a method to resist Soulscour, but also a body-strengthening spell.

Unlike normal body-strengthening spells, which used spiritual energy to modify and strengthen the body, the Blood Refining Spirit spell used mental will as the stimulant.

Soulscour used spiritual energy as the vessel, attaching to thoughts and forcing form onto the formless.

The Blood Refining Spirit spell did the same, but it was one step ahead. It merged with the blood, stimulating blood energy and hypnotizing the self into causing blood energy to swell and strength to soar.

When the fiend tiger's body had erupted with blood energy several times, it had been using exactly this art.

But compared to self-hypnosis, the Blood Refining Spirit spell had more substance and was the real deal.

"Thoughts are merged into the spirit and entrusted to the blood, allowing them to be passed down. With the mind attached to the body, spirit and flesh are merged, allowing Soulscour to be resisted. This art travels through thoughts to reach the will, allowing it to be overlapped." Put simply, the Blood Refining Spirit spell could merge mind and body. With the mind carried within the blood, the soul was no longer a lone existence, so it could not be Soulscoured. Finally, it was different from traditional body-strengthening spells, achieving a similar effect through different means, so it could be used on top of normal body-strengthening spells.

For example, after using the Formless Golden Body, he would still be able to use the Blood Refining Spirit spell.

But while the Blood Refining Spirit spell had a powerful effect, it required an already formidable constitution as a basis. If one's constitution weren't strong enough, one would overspend one's blood energy and be weak afterward, having a similar effect to the demonblood pill.

Fortunately, Tang Jie was very confident in this aspect.

Tang Jie had only wanted a Soulscour resistance spell, but he hadn't expected to get such a powerful body-strengthening spell. This spell had a lot of uses and was even more valuable than the spell arts he had obtained from the Divine Firmament Sword Classic. From a certain perspective, it was even more valuable than the Parting Classic. After all, the Parting Classic consumed a vast amount of resources. Meanwhile, this spell simply needed to be learned to be used, and the more proficient one became, the longer it would last and the fewer side effects it would have.

It was a rather pleasant surprise.

"But this spell art doesn't let me understand what you're saying?" Tang Jie quickly realized that it wasn't the Blood Refining Spirit spell that let him understand what the tiger was saying.

"That is because I also gave you some of my essence blood."

"Why?" Tang Jie was confused.

Perhaps it had been his words that had caused the fiend tiger to pass on the secret art to him, but to give him essence blood that allowed him to understand the words of tigers was treating him a little too well. The grudge of a thousand years was not that easy to resolve. It was barely enough that they were using each other, and there was no reason to give him something for free.

The fiend tiger started to laugh. "You don't think that those words of yours really moved me, do you?"

"I must have some other use," Tang Jie said with a chuckle.

As expected, the tiger had another goal, but it was impossible for his words from before to have not been useful in the slightest.

Usually, one had to bring together many factors to achieve an effect.

But Tang Jie didn't know what the unknown factor was.

"I need you to do something for me."

"If it's killing the Basking Moon Sect, I'm afraid I can't do that."

"Of course not. I need you to do something very simple… Take away my child."

"Your child?" Tang Jie froze, then he swiftly replied, "With the formation here, I can't take it out! And even if I did bring it out, they'd notice."

The formation around Tiger Roar Peak had an identification ability. Any tigers that entered TIger Roar Peak would be locked inside the peak forever, with no hope of escape.

And things wouldn't be fine even if he could take a tiger cub out.

Although the many years had caused the Basking Moon Sect to give up on getting any information about the secret treasure from the fiend tigers, it would still send people to see the situation every once in a while.

If Tang Jie took a cub with him, it wouldn't be long before Basking Moon Academy would realize something was wrong. A cursory investigation would soon reveal who was behind it.

Perhaps the Immortal sects could be deceived when they weren't paying much attention, but when they actually started to pay attention, they would be able to root out the truth.

The fiend tiger ignored Tang Jie's reply.

It moved to the side, revealing what was behind it.

Tang Jie saw that there was another tiger lying behind the fiend tiger.

Tang Jie could tell at a glance that it was a female tiger, a lower-grade fiend tiger that the Basking Moon Sect had caught as a mate. This fiend tiger wasn't very powerful. Even as a lower-grade fiend, it was down near the bottom, and students would barely have to worry about it. After all, the tiger fiend's descendants were the true fiend tigers of Tiger Roar Peak. The others were ordinary Spirit Sensing fiends that could be dealt with by just one or two students.

But there was clearly something wrong about this female tiger.

It was splayed out on the ground, panting for breath as if it was about to die.

Looking down, Tang Jie saw two furry heads snuggled up to the female tiger's bosom.

Two tiger cubs!

Two!

Tang Jie felt his head buzzing as he blurted out, "You have two children?"

The higher the level of a fiend beast's lineage, the lower the fertility.

The reason was that the stronger one's bloodline power was, the more taxing the pregnancy would be. Pregnancies of high-level fiend beasts would often place an enormous strain on the mother, even result in a backlash.

Thus, for high-level fiend beasts, conception and pregnancy were both difficult.

Perhaps this was the law of the world. The more impressive one's strength, the more restricted one's numbers were.

Thus, high-level fiend beasts often had difficulties with breeding, and it was often the case that when they became pregnant with more than one child, they would fail to successfully give birth to any.

Of course, this wasn't always the case. If the mother was powerful, it would naturally be able to endure the bloodline strength of its unborn children.

But the mother tiger of Tiger Roar Peak was an ordinary fiend tiger the Basking Moon Sect had caught from outside. For it to give birth to two cubs at once was rather rare, and it was hard to blame it for being in this state.

Of course, the situation wasn't unheard of. After all, fiend beasts could also advance. If the mother tiger had advanced to a middle-grade fiend beast during its imprisonment, it would have had a much greater chance of giving birth to two cubs at once.

But in such circumstances, the Basking Moon Sect would normally take away one of the cubs… Tang Jie hadn't expected to see two cubs together.

It was no wonder the mother tiger's life was in danger. It had probably consumed almost all of its life force to give birth to these two little fellows.

"Yes, this is the reason you are still alive."

The fiend tiger went up to its wife and licked the two cubs.

The two cubs probably hadn't been born very long ago, and the memories in their blood had yet to awaken. These were truly nothing more than two tiger cubs, still mischievously rolling around in their mother's embrace and caring little for their father's love.

But Tang Jie could feel the deep affection in each of the fiend tiger's licks.

Tang Jie understood. "The Basking Moon Sect still doesn't know about this?"

"Yes," the fiend tiger said as it looked at its own children, its eyes thick with a father's love and devoid of killing intent. "They normally come once every half a year, and there is still two months until their next visit. The last time they came, they already saw that Zhen'er was pregnant, but they don't know that she has two cubs. I want to take this opportunity to have you take away one of my children and help it escape this cage, returning freedom to my Tiger Tribe. This is the opportunity that my Tiger Tribe has been awaiting for one thousand years, and it is also my condition… If you refuse, I will kill you now!"

Tang Jie swallowed. "But how do I take it out?"

"The refined beast token," the fiend tiger replied. "Perhaps this is the will of the heavens. The heavens had you come here, the heavens had you defeat me, the heavens had me father two children in this time, and the heavens had a student of Basking Moon possess a refined beast token of the Beast Refining Gate… Place my child in the refined beast token and you can take it out."

The refined beast token was used specifically by the Beast Refining Gate for holding living creatures. As they could hold living beings, refined beast tokens were extremely valuable in their own right. But the space in the refined beast token was lonely and dark, not suitable for long-term residence. So that the beasts wouldn't go mad after long periods of isolation, and so that they would be more obedient and fight more vigorously, the cultivators of the Beast Refining Gate would often refine fiend beasts until their rationality had been wiped away. This had been the case for that refined fiend wolf.

A tiger cub naturally couldn't be refined until its rationality was gone, but it was fine to put it inside for a short period.

Tang Jie now completely understood.

The fiend tiger was right. This was precisely the reason he was alive!

To succeed, one needed to meet a staggering number of conditions. One required strength, a plan, and also luck!

Laying down a formation to subdue a tiger required strength. Without this strength, he would have never gotten an opportunity to speak with the tiger. Meticulous arrangements designed specifically for the target were the plans. Without plans, and only strength, he would just be doing what students had been doing for the last thousand years. The two tiger cubs and the refined beast token were luck. This luck served as the final key that had finally let him surmount the fiend tiger's mental defenses and push through its hatred.

It was precisely the combination of strength, planning, and luck that had allowed him to succeed.

Of course, Tang Jie didn't believe in any will of the heavens.

If the heavens had shown their favor, this matter would have been even simpler.

He was more willing to believe that the heavens rewarded the diligent, that luck only favored those who were willing to put in the effort.

But regardless, he had to admit that he had been extremely lucky this time.

Not only had he obtained the Blood Refining Spirit spell, he had even gotten a fiend tiger cub.

From what the fiend tiger had said before, this fiend tiger's bloodline was probably rather noble among tigers.

As if it could tell what Tang Jie was thinking, the fiend tiger suddenly roared and pounced, bringing Tang Jie to the ground.

It roared at Tang Jie, "I am letting you take away my child, but I am not letting you make it a slave! Human, swear an oath to never use any methods to bind my child into slavery, or else I would rather have it die here!"

So that's how it is?

"Alright. I, Tang Jie, swear an oath upon my Heart Demon that I will take your child from this place and treat it well. Once it is mature, I will let it go free and never take it as my slave!"

The fiend tiger's eyes immediately softened.

It lowly growled, "Remember your oath. My blood flows in your body, and it will give you strength, but it will also turn into a frightening nightmare demon. If you dare to break your oath, your death will be a painful one!"

"If I dare to break my oath, my death will be a painful one!" Tang Jie repeated. The fiend tiger had never been his target. Getting it would be nice, but not getting it wasn't any sort of heartache. Moreover, forcing someone into slavery was always worse than relying on affection.

He had no blood oath with Yiyi, but was there any closer relationship than that between him and Yiyi?

In the future, he would let the tiger cub go, but after he cared for it for so long, who was to say if this little fellow would be willing to leave?

Of course, he wouldn't say such things out loud.

He looked at the fiend tiger and said, "Then, there is one last problem."

"What?"

"There are two cubs. Which one will you pick for me to take away?"

What?

The fiend tiger froze, and it turned to its children.

It had only been thinking about seizing the opportunity, but it had never thought about which to choose.

It was only when Tang Jie mentioned it that it realized that it had to make a choice.

It would choose one child to leave and one child to remain… To remain here meant to be a prisoner, to fight, and to die.

In other words, it had to choose which of its children would survive.

The fiend tiger froze.

Those two furry little cubs were all full and began to roll around and play in front of their parents.

They were still small.

They did not know of their mother's situation.

They did not know of their father's troubles.

They did not know their future fate would be decided by a single thought from this fiend tiger.

There were two children, but only one could leave!

Who would go?

Who would stay?

The fiend tiger was at a loss.

It looked at its wife. The mother tiger seemed to realize that a choice was about to be made, and it began to weep, pained growls coming from its mouth.

It looked at its children who were tottering around. The young one accidentally slipped and ran into the older brother. Both brothers fell to the ground and started to cry… The fiend tiger could not control himself and began to weep.

Tigers had no language, and its weeping came in the form of howls.

Raaa!

Bitter and sorrowful howls resounded through Tiger Roar Valley. Even those who could not understand tigers could hear that deep sorrow and infinite resentment in those howls!

hypersheep325's Notes:

A most tragic decision is to be made. One cub will live the life of a free tiger while the other will be destined to be slaughtered one day.

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