9 A Single Tear
The memory ended at that point, allowing Zhen Shi to return to reality.
As he stared at the Hel-fire in his hand and the Xue Yue cultivators preparing to attack, he realized that he no longer had any trepidations about attacking them.
'Heh. Trying to kill this handsome and scholarly self? Well, say your prayers... and rejoice! I'm going to gift you one-way tickets to hell!'
Having gained some understanding of the true nature of this world, Zhen Shi was ready to kill if necessary. In fact, he found that he was rather excited at the prospect of battle.
Utilizing the concepts of [Draconic Wind Steps] and copying how Zhen Wei had moved in his most recent memory, Zhen Shi took a single step forward...
Only a light wind remained as evidence of his previous presence.
After all, with the combination of a powerful movement skill, [Draconic Wind Steps], and the 20x speed boost granted by the system, Zhen Shi wielded a near-impossible speed.
Having disappeared for a moment, his blurred figure suddenly reappeared amidst the attacking Xue Yue cultivators.
His sudden appearance caused surprise and disarray among the Xue Yue cultivators ...
But at this moment, Zhen Shi was ignoring them and formulating a battle strategy extremely fast... Considering the fact that Lin Hai and Xue Yuehai were the strongest, Zhen Shi decided to leave them for last, just in case they had any special attacks.
At the same time, he contemplated on his understanding of the lesser Hel-fire. Since each attack would require around 10% of his cultivation energy, he had to make each attack count.
While the Hel-fire was an eternal flame that would not disappear under normal circumstances, if he only struck the clothes or miscellaneous limbs of a body, the enemy could decisively remove the clothes or cut off that limb, rendering his attack next to useless. Thus he had to target specific locations that were much more difficult to cut-off...
And so with a grim smile, Zhen Shi calmly slapped the nearest Xue Yue cultivator in the face with a hand covered in Hel-fire.
Instantly, a hellish scream that caused one's hair to stand on end rose out of the throat of that unfortunate cultivator. As the Hel-fire that originated on his face quickly spread throughout his body, he finally burned into grey ashes that were scattered in the night wind.
The sudden death of one of their members caused fear to arise in the remaining cultivators. But this was exactly what Zhen Shi had hoped for. While the Xue Yue cultivators could be easily picked off using his Hel-Fire, if they were to band together and utilize their battle formation, the difficulty would rise by many levels.
But now that the majority were fearful of that hellish death, their battle formation fell apart leaving them vulnerable for a single moment.
And before they could react, Zhen Shi had disappeared and reappeared next to another unfortunate cultivator. One second later another terrifying scream rang out as another cultivator was scattered in the air as grey ashes.
Continuing to make use of the fear and confusion, Zhen Shi disappeared and reappeared several times like a grim-reaper leaving another two blood-curdling screams of hellish death in his wake.
And how could he make such accurate decisions on combat despite having been reincarnated for only a single day? It strangely seemed to arise from his own battle-instincts...
Zou Rou stared in surprise at Zhen Shi who was easily slaughtering cultivators an entire major realm above his!
Not willing to be beaten by that loin-clothed bastard, she stared at her targets while holding the Sun talisman with both hands and grinned devilishly while shouting, \"Sky Sun Bone Sword talisman, Three Swords Descend!\"
The moment she finished her words three swords composed of a strange but beautiful mixture of star-light and sun-light appeared in front of her and streaked forwards leaving traces of a star-filled sky.
Just when the remaining five Xue Yue cultivators were ready to attack the devil amidst them, three terrifying celestial swords appeared as reinforcements catching them off guard once more.
But just before they could strike, Lin Hai gathered Xue Yuehai and another cultivator towards him and roared, \"Edict: Armor!\"
Instantly, Lin Hai's body was surrounded in a majestic divine glow that solidified into an awe-inspiring armor with engravings of terrifying lightning and thunder. His armor suddenly glowed causing a dome of golden light to appear and protect the three of them...
Meanwhile, the three swords diverged into three paths with different targets; two swords at two of the unfortunate cultivators outside and the other at the dome of golden defense.
At the same time, Zhen Shi had re-appeared and punched the face of another cultivator causing another blood-curdling scream, as he too burned into specks of grey ashes.
Noticing the sudden attack of the celestial swords, Zhen Shi decisively decided to leave the remaining two cultivators to Zou Rou and instead appeared next to the golden dome of defense.
At the same time, the two celestial swords struck the two remaining cultivators cleanly on their chests. And they too were eviscerated into dust in a burst of star-light and sun-light.
Now that the only survivors were those within Lin Hai's edict armor, Zhen Shi fell into deep thought. Having used quite a bit now, Zhen Shi had been feeling that he just might be able to use it to launch a long-range attack. Just that it would take up four times the consumption of energy for a normal attack...
Seeing the solid defense of the Proclaimer Lin Hai and considering that he still had 49% of cultivation energy remaining, he decided to use it.
Instantly he manifested a flaming ball of Hel-Fire in his right hand and threw it at the golden dome with a roar, \"Hel's Flare!\"
Unfortunately, however, his ball of Hel-Fire just so happened to meet Zou Rou's celestial sword that was targeting the golden dome as well, in mid-flight. And the moment they met, owing to the opposing natures of the Celestial Light of the Sun and the Stars, and the horrifying fires of Hell, a huge explosion occurred.
A terrifying shock wave of qi and wind expanded out while the source of the explosion was covered in a cloud of energy flames and smoke.
Fortunately for Zhen Shi, he had still been using [Draconic Wind Steps], and the aether had suddenly screamed to him about the imminent danger just a moment before the actual explosion...
And so, with his impossible speed, he was able to dash back to safety just barely surviving from that ordeal.
Having returned back to Zou Rou's side with his life still intact, Zhen Shi realized that a series of System notifications were ringing out.
But before he could focus on it, another set of memories arose in his mind once more...
Zhen Shi realized that his eyes were closed and that he was lying down, presumably on a bed.
At the same time, he realized that he could hear some hushed but familiar voices... they were from his mother and father!
While they were rather silent, he could still make out what they were saying if he focused...
\"Wei, I can't believe you would do that! You actually knew that scum had a poisoned knife with him?\" asked Xie Li in a blazing tone.
A heavy sigh rang out and Zhen Wei answered, \"Li, understand this. Xiao Shi is still a child. Even if he carried out my command and completed the Duel of Justice, he wouldn't have learned much. So I decided to use that chance to make him learn a hard lesson.\"
A stifled laugh later his voice continued, \"Knowing you, I knew that you would interfere in such an instance and possibly get lightly injured. But, of course, a poison of that mediocre level is nothing much for you...
But that allowed Shi'er to understand the harsh nature of our world and complete the Duel to maximum effect. Even if you are mad, I know that I did what was for the best...\"
Xie Li harrumphed angrily but remained silent.
At that same instant, Zhen Shi opened his eyes and slowly sat up on the bed.
Seeing that he had woken up, Xie Li's angry face disappeared as she hurriedly dashed towards him. Immediately she enclosed in a tight bear hug and whispered through stifled sobs, \"Shi'er, it's good that you're awake. It's good that you're awake.\"
Zhen Shi couldn't help but feel warm in his heart, but immediately frowned as he asked, \"Mother, how is your wound? Are you alright?\"
Xie Li stared at him in surprise but wiped off her tears as she answered with a simple smile, \"Of course I'm fine. Poison at that level can only dream of harming your mother!\"
Zhen Wei who was only a few steps behind her was about to walk forwards as well, when suddenly a blurred figure of fiery orange dashed through the open door and jumped onto the bed. Almost immediately, this figure of fiery orange hugged him in another bear hug alongside his mother and shouted, \"Little Brother, you're fine! Good! Now we can play again. I've been bored in the last two days...\"
Of course, it was his sister, Zhen Xixi, smiling brightly in expectation of his answer.
Xie Li laughed and flicked her on the forehead saying, \"Cheeky girl. Let your brother rest a bit more...\"
Zhen Wei didn't walk any further and instead stayed back while staring at his family with a bright smile. Suddenly he spoke in a satisfied tone, \"Shi'er you did well in the Duel of Justice.\"
Xie Li's face turned awful at its mention. Even Zhen Xixi frowned and spoke questioningly, \"Duel of Justice? Did Little Brother already complete his? No fair! Even mine is supposed to be next month!\" finishing with an unhappy pout.
Hearing how he had beaten his sister, Zhen Shi smiled gleefully while sticking his tongue out his sister.
Xie Li smiled as well and playfully flicked Zhen Xixi's forehead once more. While everyone else was happy, Zhen Xixi continued to pout unhappily.
Zhen Wei continued in a serious tone that sounded rather strange with the smile on his face, \"Shi'er you haven't cultivated in two days. Rest a bit more and meet me back in the training courtyard. Otherwise, your cultivation may regress...\"
With one last glance at them and a smile, he took a single step towards the open door and disappeared in a familiar gust of wind.
Seeing her father leave, Zhen Xixi grew excited and shouted again, \"Little Brother now that we have some free time, let's play!\"
This time both Zhen Shi and Xie Li flicked her on her forehead at the same time, causing Zhen Xixi to shout in indignation, \"No fair! How can little brother be allowed to do that as well? I'm supposed to be the elder sister!\"
A light breeze blew by causing the familiar laden trees to rustle peacefully. Zhen Shi was in the training courtyard once more and his father was seated just a bit further from him.
He smiled lightly as he spoke, \"Now that you have reached the Elementary Qi 6th stage and completed the Qi formation and Qi refining stages, the final three stages will be Qi Stabilizing.
Exactly as it is named, you are expected to stabilize the formed qi strand by infusing more and more of the pure qi until it reaches its limit.
In that aspect, Qi Stabilizing is not much different from Qi formation, so it should be rather easy. The difference between the two is that, once you reach the peak of Qi stabilizing, a bridge of connection will be formed between the cultivator's dantian and his qi strand.
But you have to make sure that the Qi Strand remains stable at all times... Go ahead and try. I'll stay to make sure that you have comprehended it properly.\"
Zhen Shi nodded in understanding as he closed his eyes and heaved a light breath. Considering the matters that he had gone through in the last few days he realized that it was much easier to calm his mind.
But his father started to hum that familiar tune once more... calming his mind even further.
However, unseen by Zhen Shi, there was a small tear of destabilized qi on the qi strand that had not been there before... But it was too small to be noticed...
Ignorant of this, he calmly began to direct the specks of pure qi in his qi paths towards the Qi strand and began to fuse them together, strengthening the strand of qi even further.
But just when he was about to do the same with another speck of pure qi, the suction speed of the primordial chaos base suddenly increased exponentially causing torrents of pure aether to be dragged in.
Immediately Zhen Shi made use of this opportunity by directing a portion of that aether into his own qi strand while making sure that it remained stable.
Owing to the sheer amount of pure qi he had access to, in just a few minutes, Zhen Shi's qi strand extended, grew stronger and became much more stable while revealing a whispy green color. In fact, in another couple of moments, a tendril of qi reached towards the nearby dantian and connected forming the bridge of connection! Zhen Shi's qi strand had reached its maximum potential!
At the same time, Zhen Shi felt his body grow stronger and lighter by many folds.
But that small tear of destabilized qi still remained...
Ignorant of that matter, Zhen Shi opened his eyes after having meditated only for a few minutes.
What awaited him was a rather familiar sight. His father was staring at him with widened eyes. But at the same time, Zhen Wei shook his head with a smile and said, \"I really should get used to you cultivating like this...
Shi'er congratulations on reaching the peak of the Elementary Qi stage!\"
As the memories ended at that point, the system notifications continued...
Congratulations to the user for eviscerating a foundation establishment stage cultivator!
1000 exp earned.
For defeating the first foundation establishment practitioner, the user has fortunately earned a major gift box!
Congratulations to the user for successfully eviscerating four foundation establishment stage cultivators!
4000 exp earned.
Congratulations to the user for obtaining the essence of the Sky Sun Bone Sword Talisman. Peak Soul Grade uncommon material Sky Sun Bone with assimilated runic energy earned!
The user has earned 5 OP.
The user has reached the Elementary Qi 7th stage!
The user has reached the Elementary Qi 8th stage!
The user has reached Elementary Qi Stage Completion!
Zhen Shi could sense that the Qi strand placed nearby his dantian was gradually becoming stronger and more powerful by rapidly gathering torrents of pure qi from his qi paths and even directly from nature.
Within a few moments, his qi strand had reached its maximum limit and formed a familiar tendril of connection with his dantian, resulting in his body becoming much stronger and lighter.
But in the real world, there was a noticeable lack of that destabilized tear...
Looking over his body, Zhen Shi realized that he was capable of utilizing qi much more easily than before and owing to his sudden progress, his cultivation energy had replenished back to 100%.
Zhen Shi was rather interested in the sudden rise of notifications, and the fact that he could grow stronger just by killing some bad guys, but he momentarily ignored it as he thought about the power of Zou Rou's talisman.
To think that it could cancel out his Hel's Flare which was supposedly authentic fire from hell was amazing! He was once more reminded of that strange rune he had seen...
Nevertheless, he went back to the most important matter at hand, and said mentally, \"Open Major Gift Box!\"
Major Gift Box opened.
Congratulations to the user Zhen Shi for obtaining a Spatial Tear Sword!
'Hmm? Have I earned a godly weapon then?'
Consumable Item: [Spatial Tear Sword]- Grants two attacks containing the strength of the Peak Nascent Soul Stage and Space Law to tear a hole in local space. While the attack power is only mediocre, it's true value lies in the possibility of Teleportation. The user, and only the user, will be capable of using this spatial tear to be teleported to a random location within a radius of 500 km. As such the suggested use: Teleportation.
Nani? Even if the power is 'mediocre', do you really expect me to use a cultivation transcending weapon for fleeing? System, do you have a screw-loose?
Zhen Shi heaved a heavy sigh that carried the weight of his many problems as he smiled lightly. 'Nevertheless, I have profited.'
Meanwhile, the source of the explosion remained covered in the flames of the explosion and smoke for a few more moments. At the same time, the Sun Talisman in Zou Rou's hands cracked and dissipated into dust.
Zhen Shi turned to Zou Rou and asked inquisitively, \"Good Talisman. Who made it?\"
But Zou Rou ignored his question and instead shouted while pointing at him, \"Loin-clothed bastard, what sort of attack was that? Aren't you at the Elementary Qi stage? Did you use some sort of special flame? Or was that a divine blessing?\"
But her eyes widened as she asked once more, \"Wait-- When the hell did you reach the peak of the Elementary Qi stage?\"
But seeing how he remained silent she continued grumpily, \"More importantly, why'd you hit my attack? I could've taken that defense down...\"
Zhen Shi responded with a clever grin, \"Tsun Rou, Tsun Rou, I told you that I shake the heavens! Besides I killed five of them and you only got two...\"
Zou Rou frowned while crossing her arms over her ample chest and spoke, \"You cheated you bastard! I hate you, both you and your loincloth!!\"
On the other hand, Zhen Shi wasn't unhappy at all. Especially since that accident had granted him a rare material. And his smile grew even wider at the sight of her actions while thinking 'Grumpy Tsun Rou is cute as well!'
Nevertheless, he answered mysteriously, \"Besides... don't underestimate me so much. Do you really think that I hit your sword by accident?\" while staring at the sight of the explosion.
At the same time, the dust and flames cleared revealing the sight of three cultivators who seemed to have gone through the sufferings of hell and the trials to heaven at the same time. There were no signs of the golden defensive dome... and while Xue Yuehai and the other cultivator had burned clothes and some injuries, Lin Hai was the worst off.
His majestic golden lightning armor and helm had a web of cracks upon them as pieces of it continued to scatter down onto the ground. His body was covered in horrible and grotesque burn marks save for his torso and head which was guarded by his armor.
And he continued to stare in horror as his powerful armor continued to shatter apart...
Zhen Shi spoke to Zou Rou with the aura of an expert that had peered through the countless mysteries of the universe but had been misunderstood by the ignorant masses, \"As you can see, the opposing forces of our attacks caused a terrifying explosion that damaged that proclaimer!
I, Zhen Shi only allowed our attacks to collide to cause such a result. After all, our individual attacks weren't sufficient to destroy that defense...\"
His face contorted in sorrow to show his pain due to his 'clever' plan being misunderstood...
But of course, the entire matter had been a total accident! Zhen Shi was, fortunately, able to realize the truth of the matter early on with a little help from his acquaintance, the Aether, who spoke to him about the truth of the matter and thus decided to use his knowledge to earn some brownie points from Zou Rou.
And just as he had hoped, she stared at him with widened eyes and answered, \"A-Amazing! I have truly misunderstood your capability. Good Work, Loin Shi!\"
Reeling at the unexpected insult, Zhen Shi's face twitched at this new nickname. 'Could this be divine retaliation for my 'Tsun Rou'?'
Meanwhile, Xue Yuehai the leader of the remnants of his group of cultivators shouted in rage while nursing his wounds, \"You bastards you'll pay for this!!\"
Zhen Shi turned to him, rather happy at not having to focus on that embarrassing nickname. But, of course, could he stay silent after being insulted?
As such, he calmly prepared another fireball of Hel-fire in his right hand and stared condescendingly at the surviving trio. Zhen Shi realized to his surprise that with his improvement in cultivation, the cultivation energy required for a Hel's Flare fireball had dropped to 30%.
Seeing that fearsome fireball, Lin Hai and the other fortunate survivor began to escape in a hurry.
But at the same time, Xue Yuehai shouted with a satisfied laugh, \"My father is an elder at the peak of Soul Transformation! He'll definitely capture you lot and flay you alive...\" Immediately he brought out a black talisman and crushed it into pieces.