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AIP - Chapter 128: Close-Quarters Combat

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr

"So that's how it was…"

In the Cloud Marsh, Gu Changqing let out a long sigh.

He looked at Tang Jie in disbelief. "Even now, I still somewhat can't believe that all of this was thought up by a teenager. Are you really seventeen?"

"Miracles are miracles because they defy common sense," Tang Jie said with a laugh. "I was so certain that my lie could deceive them because of this. In other words, if I were thirty-seven instead of seventeen, my lies wouldn't have been effective."

That was true.

The two lies aimed at Godhead Palace and the Basking Moon Sect had targeted the fact that Tang Jie was seventeen and had the knowledge a normal teenager was supposed to have. Without this condition, the entire scheme would appear like a clumsy farce. 

"But this plan carries many inherent risks. After all, in our hands, you can't possibly decide what we do and don't do. What if we didn't do as you planned and search for the box? What would you do then?"

Tang Jie replied, "A truly good plan doesn't force the enemy into following the plan. Rather, no matter what the enemy does, they can never escape the plan. Thus, in my design, I never needed you to find the box. It was simply one of many possible scenarios."

"Oh? Then tell me: if I didn't do that, what then?" Gu Changqing said, his interest piqued.

He was Eagle Master of the Hawk Hall, and the kind of person he interacted with the most in his life was criminals. Tang Jie had drawn his interest and made him very curious.

"I would let you run," Tang Jie replied. "So long as you still wanted the Martial Mirror, you wouldn't be able to kill me or leave Sageheart. With these two crucial points in mind, I essentially had you by the throat. It didn't matter what you did. While having you attack would make you expose Godhead Palace's spies, so would covering your escape. It's just a matter of how many people died. Even if the Basking Moon Sect wouldn't notice anything from this, I had other means of clueing them in… Don't forget that I sent out that box in front of Lin Dongsheng."

"Then Zhao Xinguo and the others…"

"The same, of course. Inciting your internal divisions was never part of my plan. My plan only required that one of you believe that I wasn't Tang Jiye. All that was left was to remove those who didn't believe. As for how you killed each other… mm, you can only blame yourselves for your stupidity. I saw an opportunity and took it. It was a rather pleasant surprise."

"I see." Gu Changqing nodded. "But there are some key things that you needed to do but had no control over, that you had to rely on luck for, right?"

Tang Jie finally fell silent.

After some time, he nodded. "Correct. There are some things that I needed to be done but had no ability to do, for the power to make that choice didn't rest in me, but in you! That was where I took a risk. As I had no confidence in pulling it off, I had to entrust it to luck… but it seems like the heavens treated me kindly, and my luck wasn't bad."

He raised his head and gave Gu Changqing a chilling gaze.

Gu Changqing chuckled. "As expected. In other words, the Cloud Marsh is the place in your plan where you ultimately turn the tables? Seeing how confident you are, you feel that you can escape so long as you're here? Let me take a guess. In the last part of your plan, did you plan to tell me that the Martial Mirror is here, forcing me to take you here?"

"Yes, but you're wrong about one thing. My plan never involved escaping."

He slowly raised his head to look at Gu Changqing, and then his eyes exploded with hatred. "Killing you is much simpler than escaping!"

Kill Gu Changqing and exterminate Godhead Palace!

Just as Gu Changqing had said, he had always misjudged Tang Jie's objective.

He wasn't defending, but attacking. He wasn't running, but making a counterattack!

From the very start, he had planned to kill Gu Changqing.

On the day he had learned that Gu Changqing had dug up the grave of Little River Village and desecrated the corpses, his resolve to do so had been even more affirmed!

It was this conviction that had sustained him until now, until he could finally make the counterattack!

As these words left his mouth, Tang Jie's body seethed with an intense aura.

It was such a violent energy that even when Gu Changqing was just standing there, his pupils constricted as he sensed the powerful pulses.

"So you were hiding your power this whole time… but how is that possible? You only entered the academy a year ago. Even with the Immortal Classic from the Basking Moon Sect, there's no reason for you to have progressed so quickly."

An idea suddenly occurred to him, and Gu Changqing shouted, "The Martial Mirror? It wasn't just a key!"

"You finally understand?" Tang Jie sneered.

Tang Jie raised his arm and punched. Gu Changqing's eyes gleamed with a savage light as he swung the Soul-Seizing Claw at Tang Jie.

Fist met claw in a powerful shockwave, a fierce gale ripping through the marsh. Tang Jie had taken on the blow of a Mortal Shedding Realm expert and didn't seem like someone suppressed by a curse at all.

"Body cultivation!"

With this one exchange, Gu Changqing understood. It wasn't that the New Rain on Barren Mountain Curse wasn't working, but that Tang Jie simply wasn't relying on spiritual energy.

His spell arts were only at the Spirit Spring Tier, so even if they were one hundred times stronger, they would still be no match for a high-tier Mortal Shedding Realm Spirit Master like Gu Changqing.

But his body had far surpassed his cultivation level, and this was precisely the foundation on which he dared to fight against Gu Changqing!

Tang Jie now fully revealed his formidable constitution, his strength continuing to soar as winds howled around him. Gu Changqing was stirred up by this sight, bellowing, "Good, good! Let me see what sort of secret art the Martial Mirror was hiding that gives you the confidence to fight against me."

He thrust forward a hand, flinging a ball of icy energy toward Tang Jie. The cold energy struck Tang Jie's body and created white patches of frost that froze his entire body. This was Gu Changqing's Icesoul Radiance. When it made contact with the enemy, the cold energy would penetrate into their marrow and freeze them to death.

But Tang Jie didn't seem to feel it, charging straight through the cold wave of energy.

His movements cracked open the sheet of ice on him. His frozen skin was only slightly purple, but it quickly returned to normal, much to Gu Changqing's shock.

Tang Jie was already charging, aiming a punch at Gu Changqing's face. As the gust from that punch struck his face, Gu Changqing knew that it would be a tough blow to take. He immediately pushed off with his toe, flying backward as he swung the Soul-Seizing Claw. Vicious wind claws struck Tang Jie's body, leaving it covered in bloody wounds.

But the injuries were far smaller than Gu Changqing had anticipated, and even more shocking was that Tang Jie's wounds began to rapidly heal. It was such an astonishing ability to recover that even a Hundred Refinement Period cultivator might not be able to achieve it.

"What technique is this?" Gu Changqing blurted out.

"The Martial Lord's secret art, the Parting Classic body refining!" Tang Jie loudly replied as he rushed up and punched at Gu Changqing again.

Over the last few days, the Hawk Hall had tortured him quite a lot to get him to confess the location of the Martial Mirror, and the potential endowed by one hundred thousand spirit coins' worth of medicine had mostly been tunneled into recovery. While he didn't exactly have an unkillable body, he nevertheless possessed an incredible ability to recover.

When Gu Changqing had cut off his fingers, he had grasped his fingers in pain, but actually, he had restricted the blood flow toward his wrist. Otherwise, those fingers would have grown back on their own.

As for his arm, his constitution wasn't at the level where it could automatically recover from that.

Even so, Gu Changqing was rather stunned. As he saw Tang Jie's eyes beginning to burn, he realized that he could not underestimate this secret art of the Martial Lord, as it was capable of making a student who had spent less than a year in the academy so strong. His desire to get the Martial Mirror grew even stronger.

Tang Jie flailed around his one arm like a madman, punching at Gu Changqing again and again.

Gu Changqing tested his strength, intentionally taking a punch. He found that one punch had his insides seething, and he immediately knew that this kid wasn't weak. He hastily put up a barrier and started to engage in hit-and-run tactics.

Tang Jie's spiritual energy was restrained, so he could only rely on his powerful body. Thus, he simply punched and charged without any sort of trickery.

But this unreasonable way of fighting was successfully suppressing Gu Changqing.

As a Nine Revolutions Period expert, only one step away from Cognitive Creation, he wasn't weak, but in the battle with Zhao Xinguo and the others, he had lost his Ink Falcon Wings, which greatly weakened him, and even his spiritual energy had been greatly exhausted. The long flight had consumed even more spiritual energy, and he was now incapable of using even 30% of his strength.

Of course, this still wasn't enough for Tang Jie to beat him. A wounded tiger was still a tiger. So long as it still breathed, one could not hope to be able to take its bite.

The problem was that he was still set on getting the Martial Mirror, so he still held back with his attacks, avoiding lethal areas.

But Tang Jie had an incredible ability to recover, and these non-lethal attacks essentially weren't attacks at all. He was already weakened, and with this additional restraint, he was soon being beaten down by Tang Jie.

Tang Jie heedlessly charged, his fist slamming down. Rather than the elegance of Immortals, he seemed more like a hoodlum in the streets.

But this barrage of punches on Gu Changqing's barrier made it flash with energy, and Gu Changqing was forced to stagger back several steps.

"Bastard!" Gu Changqing's complexion shifted between green and red as he suddenly pointed his left hand at the ground. Thorns erupted and tightly wrapped around Tang Jie's feet.

With Tang Jie rendered immobile, Gu Changqing grunted, "With this little ability, you dare to challenge the Mortal Shedding Realm? Nothing but a blind fool's fantasies. As a Mortal Shedding Realm expert in the Nine Revolutions Period, I possess countless spell arts. So long as I don't completely run out of spiritual energy, then even if I suffer ten times the injuries, I'm still not someone you can beat."

Tang Jie saw that the thorns were holding him tight, and his eyes erupted with flames.

He growled, "The Dao of the Martial Lord seeks dominance through battle! You might have a thousand kinds of spell arts, but I'll break them all with brute strength!"

He fiercely raised his head and howled.

Like the cry of a beast, it resounded through the mists. His entire body surged with frenzied power, a gale stirring around him. Gu Changqing was flabbergasted.

Tang Jie's fighting intent was at an all-time high. There were no more schemes and plots, only fighting to his heart's content!

"Raaa!"

Howling like a beast, he stepped forward.

The tenacious thorns made from spell arts were gradually pulled along, and though bloody wounds appeared on his leg, they couldn't stop him.

As his foot slowly moved forward, the thorns were pulled taut and began to groan.

Finally, snap! One of the thorns broke.

Tang Jie stomped his foot down.

Papapapa!

Even more of the thorns snapped apart.

There was a gust of wind as Tang Jie broke free of his restraints and charged again at Gu Changqing.

Gu Changqing hastily retreated in panic.

Forming seals with his hands, he pushed them forward, creating a wall of crystal that blocked Tang Jie's path. He shouted, "Your schemes have killed countless of my brothers. Is this the Dao of the Martial Lord you spoke of?"

"The Martial Dao is to begin the battle with surprise and to win the battle with direct confrontation, to confront courage with courage, and when courage is lacking, to win through intelligence. In battle, I use the Martial Dao, and when scheming, I use my own Dao, and what's wrong with that? Perhaps I won't be like the Martial Lord and dominate the world, looking with contempt upon all things, but I can freely travel the world, untroubled for a thousand years!" Tang Jie roared. He lowered his head and rammed into the crystal wall. Crack! Crack! The crystal wall shattered.

Gu Changqing retreated again, his hand forming more spells. A shield made of air appeared, and then flying needles, walls of fire, frost, and many other kinds of spells. All of them hurtled at Tang Jie, turning the marsh into a world of ice and fire.

Tang Jie ignored it all and charged through. He burst through the air shield, took the flying needles, passed through the frost and fire, and just kept charging.

Just when Gu Changqing was about to cast another spell, he paled. "No! I'm out of spiritual energy!"

Thud!

Tang Jie's head slammed into Gu Changqing's face.

The blow had him bleeding from the nose. He staggered backward, hitting a tree.

Tang Jie rushed up and began to savagely beat Gu Changqing, raining down punches on him, occasionally mixing in a kick.

The barrier shattered first, and then the punches began to batter at the Godhead Armor. Even though it was an art-relic-grade Godhead Armor, it was unable to hold out against Tang Jie's ceaseless onslaught. The powerful shocks created by punch after punch had Gu Changqing vomiting blood.

Finally, Tang Jie punched Gu Changqing in the face, striking him so hard that one of his eyes almost popped out. Gu Changqing spat out blood and collapsed to the ground, shouting, "How is this possible?"

Tang Jie stomped on Gu Changqing's body and coldly said, "Nothing is impossible. Without spiritual energy, you're nothing."

Tang Jie punched again, working around the Godhead Armor and striking Gu Changqing in the crook of his left arm, almost breaking it.

Just when he was about to strike again, Gu Changqing shouted, "Wait!"

Tang Jie stopped.

Gu Changqing stared at Tang Jie and panted, "You've won… Let me die an understanding ghost… Where did you hide the Martial Mirror?"

"The Martial Mirror…" Tang Jie muttered. He nodded and said, "Alright, I'll tell you. I put the Martial Mirror on Tiger Roar Peak."

"Tiger Roar Peak?" Gu Changqing was startled. "That fiend tiger… an art to resist Soulscour… Damn it! No wonder you went to Tiger Roar Peak for an entire month… So that's how it was… I understand…"

"Since you know, die already," Tang Jie coldly said, swinging his fist at Gu Changqing.

Pa!

Gu Changqing caught the fist.

As he caught Tang Jie's punch, Gu Changqing began to laugh.

Then he said in a cold and sinister voice, "You were finally willing to talk! All that effort and sacrifice was worth it. I finally managed to wait you out. Very good. Now, you can die! Golden Eagle Talon!"

The fingers of his right hand became like a blade and stabbed into Tang Jie's chest.

hypersheep325's Notes:

It was all a part of Gu Changqing's scheme! He knew Tang Jie was plotting something this entire time!

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