AIP - Chapter 132: Stealing Money
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
A terrorhorn beast drank from a muddy pool of water, occasionally raising its head to watch out for any possible dangers.
Its thick neck restricted its field of vision, and it was essentially incapable of turning its head, so only by turning around would it be able to look behind itself. Thus, it completely failed to notice a pile of dried-up leaves slowly coming up behind it.
As that pile got closer and closer, the horned beast suddenly felt a deep unease.
The beast's instincts told it that danger was coming, and it suddenly raised its head and charged off to the side.
At the same time, a cold light flashed out of the pile of leaves, striking at the weakest point in the buttocks of the terrorhorn.
Arooo! The terrorhorn let out a tremendous roar as it flailed its hooves and tried to flee this dangerous place.
But as one of its feet stepped on a few green vines, they coiled around it and held it fast.
It angrily roared, and a yellow light appeared on its body as it began to use some sort of spell art.
At this moment, a sword flashed, leaving behind a white line across the back of the horned beast's head.
Thump! The enormous creature's head fell to the ground.
A human form appeared in a flash, and Tang Jie soon landed on the terrorhorn's body.
Looking at the corpse, he laughed. "My luck's not bad. We finally have some meat to eat."
Terrorhorns were lower-grade fiend beasts, and while they seemed clumsy and slow, they were actually incredible when it came to escaping. Their body was covered with tough scales, and their natural spell art was Earth Escape. The only good method was to take them by surprise and strike the weak point at the back of their heads, instantly killing them.
Now that the hunt had succeeded, Tang Jie began to dismantle the terrorhorn. This fellow's tough scales and single horn were excellent materials. All of its essence was contained there, but that meant that there was little value in the body.
As he removed the horn and scales, the little tiger rushed up and began to gnaw on the beast's flesh, so enthused and sloppy that his mouth was covered in blood.
"Don't rush. It's all yours." Tang Jie stroked the cub's head and smiled.
The little tiger's grunts could be considered a reply.
Yiyi lay on Tang Jie's shoulder, watching him work. She curiously asked, "Big Brother, all the bad people are dead, so why haven't we gone back to Basking Moon Academy?"
Tang Jie replied as he removed the scales, "What are you in such a rush for? We rarely get to go out, and we're in the Cloud Marsh, fiend beast territory, so we might as well hunt a few and reap the spoils. Isn't that pretty good?"
"The Cloud Marsh is very dangerous, and there are lots and lots of scary monsters."
"That only means we have to seize this opportunity to get something good."
"But we aren't short of money. Didn't Big Brother say that we made a lot this time?"
Tang Jie stopped and thought about his answer. "Yes, but it might not end up ours."
"Mm?" Yiyi didn't get it.
"Yiyi, you're still young, so there's still a lot you don't understand. Even if I told you, you might not understand. But remember that while the cultivation world reveres strength, there's no limit to how strong one can become. No matter how strong you get, you will always discover that there are stronger people above you who are keeping you down. Unless you get so strong that you essentially dominate the world, you will have to think carefully about everything you do."
Tang Jie raised his head, looked at Yiyi, and smiled. "If I went back to Basking Moon Academy right now, because of the lies I spread earlier, the school will definitely punish me. In these circumstances, do you think they'll admit that I brought back Gu Changqing's head?"
Yiyi asked in surprise, "They won't? But you said that the major sects all cared about their reputation."
"Of course, but what is reputation? It's something that you show off to outsiders. Basking Moon Student Tang Jie was kidnapped, and the Basking Moon Sect mobilized a large force to rescue him, expending countless men and resources. How should this expense be calculated? Do they take into account the value of Gu Changqing's head? That's no problem, but since the Basking Moon Sect spent so much manpower and resources to save me, isn't it only right that they come and settle accounts with me? When the time comes, you'll find out that Gu Changqing's head isn't worth as much as you thought it was. Even those things I got from killing Gu Changqing and the others will probably have to be used to pay the bill, and even then I still might owe them. Two hundred thousand sounds like a lot, but that's only for a person! When you're talking about the expenses for the mobilization of a major sect… it's a cup of water on a burning cart."
"But you helped them kill off so many of those Godhead Palace scoundrels."
"Yes, but they can choose not to count that. The stronger party might not be able to have everything go its way, but the stronger party will hold the authority to speak… They're the ones who set the rules!"
"Will they really do this?" Yiyi asked in shock.
"I can't say that they'll definitely do it, but there's at least a chance, yes? I'm not Tang Jiye, so the Basking Moon Sect no longer has any expectations of me. Since they have no expectations of me, they have to take back some of the capital that they invested." Tang Jie said in a profound tone, "Don't try and test human nature. If you don't want to be disappointed, it's best that you don't give them that chance."
Yiyi pouted, "The Basking Moon Sect is too awful!"
Tang Jie laughed out loud. "Silly girl, I only said that it was a possibility. Don't go blaming people for something they haven't done yet."
"Then what do we do?"
"It's simple. We store our spoils somewhere safe, and then once we get back to Basking Moon Academy and settle things, we go back and get it… When you have money, everyone will come to settle accounts with you, but when you have no money, that's no longer necessary."
If Tang Jie came back to Basking Moon Academy loaded with wealth, it would be truly hard to say that his saviors in the academy would not instantly turn into bloodthirsty wolves. Without the protective talisman that was Tang Jiye's identity, many former conveniences would disappear.
These conveniences weren't exactly obvious, but when they were lost, you would understand just how hard it was to advance without them.
This was precisely why Tang Jie couldn't give others this sort of chance.
Only now did Yiyi understand why Tang Jie continued to wander around the swamp. He was looking for a good place to hide his wealth.
Tang Jie continued, "Actually, this isn't the only reason. The other is that no matter how I lie, it's somewhat absurd for a Spirit Spring Tier to defeat a cultivator like Gu Changqing who was in the Nine Revolutions Period. Thus, I first need to bring myself to the Spirit Lake Tier so that I can explain myself when I get back."
"So does it make more sense for a Spirit Lake to be able to beat a Nine Revolutions?" No matter how ignorant Yiyi was, even she could tell that this didn't make a lot of sense.
Cultivation consisted of five realms and fourteen tiers. It was normal to fight above one's tier, but to fight above one's realm was abnormal.
A realm was a qualitative change. An outstanding Spirit Lake student might be able to easily beat an ordinary Spirit Sea student, but an outstanding Spirit Sea student would basically find it impossible to beat the worst Mortal Shedding Realm expert.
"…uh, at least it makes more sense than Spirit Spring versus Nine Revolutions."
Yiyi folded her arms like a little adult. "I feel like it doesn't make sense either way."
"…Just closing the gap a little," Tang Jie awkwardly said. "I can only take each step as I come to it. Let me resolve the problem of cultivation first. Whether it's escaping or striking back, I need to have enough strength for the explanation to be convincing."
"But won't it take you a long time to reach Spirit Lake?"
"Not that long," Tang Jie replied. "I'm confident that so long as I can undo the New Rain on Barren Mountain Curse, I can get to Spirit Lake in a month at most."
The Parting Classic's body refinement strengthened his constitution, allowing Tang Jie to cultivate far more efficiently than others. If he hadn't delayed his cultivation to increase his strength, he would have already reached Spirit Lake.
Now that Gu Changqing was dead and things with Godhead Palace were settled for now, Tang Jie could focus entirely on advancing his cultivation. The three Mustard Seed Bags had also contained some medicines that could assist in cultivation, so Tang Jie really wasn't boasting when he said that he only needed a month.
The only restriction was that New Rain on Barren Mountain Curse.
This curse prevented him from gathering spiritual energy, meaning that he couldn't cultivate.
But curses weren't natural, and spell arts couldn't last over the long term without support. Tang Jie had been trying to break through the New Rain on Barren Mountain Curse for the last few days, and without the Hawk Hall's people reinforcing it or restraining him, Tang Jie could already feel the curse starting to loosen. It probably wouldn't be long before he could break through and recover his power.
"But if you enter Spirit Lake, you won't be able to go into Tiger Roar Valley."
"I just can't go in there to hunt. I can still go in for other purposes. Moreover, the resources in Tiger Roar Valley are limited while the costs are high. Ultimately, that place is where we can experience what life is like in the cultivation world, and it's not suitable as a place to obtain resources. For me, after getting the Blood Refining spell, I lost my reason to visit. At most, I'll occasionally go in to see Wang Poguan."
"But he's even keeping so many fiend beasts for you."
"I can just leave them for Third Young Master."
"You would have him go up Tiger Roar Peak?"
"…I know that there are difficulties here, but I'll think of something," Tang Jie said with a laugh. "Alright, regardless, what we need to do next is cultivate and improve ourselves!"
Yiyi nodded and shouted, "Mm, cultivate! Cultivate! Yiyi also wants to cultivate so that she can beat the bad people together with Big Brother!"
"Okay," Tang Jie chuckled.
At this moment, Tang Jie's ears twitched, and his expression changed. He extended a finger and placed it over his lips. "Shhh."
The little lady understood and whispered, "Is someone coming?"
After being together with Gu Changqing for so many days, Tang Jie was clearly sharper and more perceptive. Thus, he was able to sense the abnormal ripples of spiritual energy behind him.
Tang Jie nodded. "It should be people who are after Gu Changqing. Let's go. We can't let them discover us."
Tang Jie tore off a piece of flesh from his body and threw it into the distance, after which he rushed into the depths of the marsh.
It wasn't long before several dozen figures appeared in the marsh.
A doughty and sturdy man glanced at the terrorhorn corpse on the ground and said, "It hasn't been dead for long, so the hunter should be nearby. Scatter and search. You guys take this side and you guys take that side. Stay in touch, and don't try to fight the target. Immediately send the signal if you find him. The rest of you, follow me!"
The group instantly dispersed, rushing to their assigned locations in a cohesive and orderly manner. These were clearly trained experts, but from their uniform, it was clear that they didn't belong to the Basking Moon Sect. They were probably part of one of the minor sects of the Sageheart Kingdom.
The doughty man led his men directly in Tang Jie's direction, a sharp light in his eyes as he took in his surroundings, noting every detail.
Amidst their sprint, the man shouted, "Halt!"
Everyone stopped in unison. The man looked left and right, and then he pointed at a distant stone. The men behind him all raised their hands.
A moment later, countless streaks of fire flew out of their hands, together with saber waves and sword energy, fusing together into a sharp wave of light that exploded against the distant rock.
Boom! The large rock was obliterated.
When the dust settled, the doughty man went over to take a look. Grabbing the corpse of a fox, he said, "So it was just a sly fox. Let's go!"
The party swiftly vanished into the forest.
Once they were gone, a human figure slowly arose from the mulch near the large stone.
It was Tang Jie.
Looking in the direction of the pursuers, he muttered, "Strange… Why were they so ruthless? It seems like they don't want any survivors, so they plan to kill me too? Oh, the Basking Moon Sect only said to hand over Gu Changqing's head. It never mentioned anything about bringing Tang Jie back alive… shit. They haven't come to save someone, but to steal money."
Tang Jie suddenly understood that these people didn't care whether he lived or died, only about Gu Changqing's head.
If Tang Jie had been in Gu Changqing's hands, then there would have still been some hope that they would be Tang Jie's saviors.
But now that Gu Changqing was dead, their natures would instantly change.
It went without saying that if these people found that he had killed Gu Changqing, what awaited Tang Jie wouldn't be rescue, but murder and theft.
If Tang Jie didn't have his own plans to wait a few more days before returning to Basking Moon Academy, then he would have mistaken these people for saviors and gone to meet them, and he would probably be dead by now.
These minor sects didn't care about the rules as much as the Basking Moon Sect, and reputation wasn't important to them. The only things that mattered were profit and strength!
"So what do we do now?" Yiyi hurriedly asked.
Tang Jie's eyes flashed with murderous intent. "Ignore them for now. Once I get rid of the New Rain on Barren Mountain Curse and reach Spirit Lake, I'll take care of them."
"But you said to not blame people for things they haven't done yet."
"Forget I said that!"