Phoenix’s Requiem - Chapter 188
Chapter 188: Underwater Battle
Yun Ruoyan originally thought that those stone walls were just ordinary stone walls. However, as she wiped away the silt, algae, and seaweed that had gathered on the walls over long periods of submersion, she discovered carved protrusions on their surface.
These protrusions gradually took the shape of a dragon—no, not just a single dragon! On this one segment of wall alone, Yun Ruoyan found a dozen dragons in different shapes and sizes. The carvings looked so realistic that it almost felt as though they would come to life at any moment. When Yun Ruoyan stared into the eyes of one such dragon, it almost seemed to twitch.
“Mistress, leave this place now! Now!” Qiuqiu yelled out in shock.
“What’s the matter, Qiuqiu?!”
“Mistress, this is a dragon’s grotto. It’s a particularly dangerous location, and we have to leave at once.”
“What dragon grotto? Why haven’t I ever heard of anything of the sort?” Despite Yun Ruoyan’s confusion, Qiuqiu’s fearful expression was more serious than anything she had ever seen from it, and she began swimming upward.
As she did so, Yun Ruoyan found that the four stone walls were each about a dozen feet tall, forming a large recess on the lakebed. Coincidentally, the eight-legged evil spirit’s carcass had sunk into the recess.
As Yun Ruoyan left the area, her surroundings once again became permeated with sunlight. Caught by her curiosity, however, she couldn’t help turning back to the deep, dark grotto she had just left behind. She suddenly felt as though there were countless blood-red gazes fixed on her, as well as an existence calling out for her.
A deep, distant lament seemed to emerge from the grotto, and red eyes seemed to appear and disappear in the darkness. Yun Ruyoan rubbed her eyes to make sure she wasn’t seeing an illusion.
“What a frightening aura!” Qiuqiu gasped. “Mistress, you have to leave at once!”
Yun Ruoyan’s momentary trance was broken by Qiuqiu’s agitated shout. She hurriedly shifted her gaze and began swimming for her life toward the surface of the lake, no longer daring to turn back. In the darkness, the countless red eyes continued to flash, and that baleful lament turned even colder and more vengeful.
Back on shore, Lin Qingchen’s ancient snake ring suddenly turned hot, and she couldn’t help shifting her attention from the surface of the lake to her ring. To her shock, the two beady eyes on the snake carving on her ring were flashing red.
By the time Lin Qingchen held her ring to her eyes to have a closer look, the red flash had vanished. Under usual circumstances, she would certainly have considered what had happened more carefully, but her attention was now fully focused on Yun Ruoyan and Zhuo Yifeng.
Bubbles emerged from the lake as Zhuo Yifeng and Rong Yueshan breathed out. As for Zhao Ming, he had already dived deep into the lake with his pearl, and Zhuo Yifeng knew that he couldn’t stop him. All he could do was try his best to stop Rong Yueshan from following suit.
Rong Yueshan’s lung capacity and cultivation were an even match for Zhuo Yifeng’s, and the two of them had already exchanged tens of blows in the meantime. Although neither of them could defeat the other, they could at least hold each other back.
As Yun Ruoyan rushed up to the surface, she met Zhao Ming midway. Zhao Ming had stopped because of the unusual sounds coming from deep within the lake, only to find a girl rushing up from the depths.
Because she was still affected by the unusual encounter at the bottom of the lake, Yun Ruoyan was so distracted that she had forgotten that she was still holding onto the eight-legged evil spirit’s beast core. By the time she saw Zhao Ming and reacted, it was too late.
Zhao Ming’s eyes shone as he saw the beast core in Yun Ruoyan’s hands. Even if he hadn’t come to the scene with the intention of stealing the treasure, the earlier fight and the fact that it was right in front of him had changed his mind.
The role of this trial was to separate the wheat from the chaff, and fighting and stealing were both considered means to this end. Even killing other students outright wasn’t prohibited. As a result, the students who entered the trial preferred to fight and steal from other students than from the beasts themselves, because it would both benefit them and hurt their opponents.
For example, if one team were able to defeat a high-rank beast, then other teams only had two means to catch up: first, to kill two such beasts while preventing that first team from making any further progress, or second, to steal that team’s beast core and handily surpass their standing.
The first method was clearly far harder than the second, though the second method did require commensurate skill.
As Zhao Ming saw the beast core in Yun Ruoyan’s hands, he immediately began to swim toward her.
Yun Ruoyan sneered as she saw the strange youth rushing in her direction. While she could summon the Feilai Blade to kill him immediately without anyone’s knowledge, she was reminded of Qiuqiu’s comment that she needed a life-and-death battle to advance to eighth-rank.
After storing the beast core in her storage pouch, she unsheathed a dagger from her leg, held it in front of herself, and looked straight at her opponent ahead. Zhao Ming clenched his fists tightly as he prepared to give her a blow. Deep underwater, neither party could talk, but their battle intent was clearly expressed with their gaze alone.
Zhao Ming was the first to strike. Despite the encumbrance of the water, the energy-imbued punch still had significant power. The force of the punch manifested as bubbles rushing in her direction, and Yun Ruoyan immediately dodged aside.
Although the bubbles didn’t look as though they could contain significant power, one set of bubbles hit a shoal of fish that had gathered nearby. With a dampened explosion, those fishes immediately burst into a bloody mist.
“Mistress, this youth’s not holding back at all. You have to be careful.”
Zhao Ming was a seemingly peaceful sort who even appeared friendly and righteous at first glance. However, this was only to people he considered his allies. To others, he was ruthless; if he chose to strike, he would do it with the intention to kill.
After all, if he were to steal Yun Ruoyan’s beast core, the other party surely wouldn’t let him be. Instead of a prolonged affair, it would be better to deal with her once and for all.
Zhao Ming immediately sent out another punch, then another, and another. The bubbles rushed in Yun Ruoyan’s direction, burying her figure in a surge of bubbles. Only then did Zhao Ming stop attacking. The moment he did so, those bubbles began to burst in her vicinity.
Zhao Ming smiled: he had lived by the seaside ever since his childhood, and this special attack was a unique skill that he’d honed for half his life. In the water, such an attack could even kill an adult shark, let alone a mere human!
He naturally thought that Yun Ruoyan would suffer the same fate. Shockingly, however, Yun Ruoyan’s body emerged unscathed. Her arms were crossed in front of her face, shielding her from the blow; her hair had come loose in the attack, and was haloed all around her face.
A formidable fighting aura emerged from Yun Ruoyan.
How could it be?! Zhao Ming glanced at the girl in front of him and the barely visible spiritual barrier surrounding her. Forming such a barrier required peak eighth-rank cultivation, but Zhao Ming could tell that Yun Ruoyan was only peak seventh-rank!
Zhao Ming had only just become a peak seventh-rank cultivator himself. It was because their cultivation levels were near-identical that Zhao Ming had attacked so relentlessly without giving Yun Ruoyan a chance to breathe, hoping to slaughter Yun Ruoyan before she had a chance to turn the tables on him. What he hadn’t expected was for her to condense a spiritual barrier to shield herself from his lethal attack.
In truth, Yun Ruoyan had experienced quite a crisis. She had been intending on surviving the attack with her own cultivation, but when the first bubble exploded, it had knocked her hair and gauze patch loose. Not daring to risk her safety, she immediately used the bracelet’s power to temporarily bring herself to eighth rank, then used her whole body’s spiritual energy to condense a barrier against the exploding bubbles.
“This is impossible!” How could she have broken through while subject to such a bombardment of attacks?!