Chapter 246: Second Stage
This was Jia Lie’s first time serving as a Dharma protector in a trial by fire for blood master. As such, he was completely unaware of what others who were participating in the trial might have encountered in the worlds they entered.
However, he was convinced that his experience was completely unlike the experiences of anyone else. In fact, he had the feeling that throughout all the trials by fire the Blood Stream Sect had held from ancient times until now, no one had ever done what Nightcrypt was doing.
He had no way to confirm whether his theory was correct, but when he looked around at the world trembling, and all the livings things prostrating in worship to Bai Xiaochun, he impulsively followed suit.
As Bai Xiaochun stood there on the mountain top, he was suddenly struck by the strange sensation that he could actually destroy the entire world with a single thought.
As of this moment, his Undying Live Forever Technique was in full operation, and after a moment passed, he realized there was a voice whispering in his ear.
“Come… come… come….”
Snapping out of his reverie, his eyes shone, and he took a deep breath. Then he pulled his hand back from the stone stele. Everything in the world began to shine with bright, blood-colored light, which all shot toward Bai Xiaochun, surrounding him.
The crimson light transformed into a door, which slowly opened right in front of him.
He looked at the door hesitantly for a moment, aware that if he stepped through it, he would be able to enter the second stage. Looking around at the world one more time, he stepped forward and vanished into the blood-colored light.
At some unknown location within the body of the Blood Ancestor, there was an open space that seemed to have no beginning or end, and was as quiet as death. The only thing visible were numerous cone-shaped pillars which rose up from the darkness below.
At the top of each pillar was a platform.
Two of those platforms were much taller than the others, but not very far away from each other. Xuemei was on one, and Song Junwan the other. Both of them sat cross-legged, staring at each other.
They had been sitting there for less than two hours. Because of the command medallion each of them possessed, they didn’t need to acquire the approval of the Blood Ancestor the way the Dharma protectors did. They had come directly to this place to wait.
Time flowed differently in the Endless World of Blood. In the two hours that had passed for Xuemei and Song Junwan, an entire month had gone by inside.
Based on the analyses of both women, they would need to wait several more hours before any of the Dharma protectors began to emerge. In any case, the second stage of the trial by fire could not begin until both women used their command medallions to open it. Neither of them would be willing to do that until their Dharma protectors were all accounted for.
The two of them had been exchanging barbs back and forth the entire time, and after a short respite, it was Xuemei who resumed the conversation. Chuckling coldly, she said, “Song Junwan, why fight with me over the blood master position, considering how old you are? Is it really true that the Song Clan couldn’t find anyone better, and was forced to let an old woman champion their cause?”
Song Junwan frowned, and she was just about to respond in kind when suddenly, her expression flickered, and she looked up into the air. Xuemei also looked up, her pupils constricting.
Rumbling sounds echoed out as the shape of a huge door slowly took form.
“Someone got the approval of the world will so quickly!?” Xuemei thought. “It’s only been two hours! That’s about a month in the Endless World of Blood!” Xuemei’s eyes widened, and her heart filled with shock. She was very familiar with how the blood master trial by fire worked. Supposedly, the most quickly a Dharma protector had ever obtained approval in the past was three hours, which was a month and a half on the inside.
“Who is it…?” Song Junwan thought, equally shaken. “Who overcame the other Dharma protector in the Endless World of Blood, dealt with the countless bloodbeasts, and still managed to get the approval of the will of the world? The fighting must have been intense for this person to have finished so quickly!” Whoever this person was, if it ended up being one of her own Dharma protectors, she would obviously be thrilled. However, if it was one of Xuemei’s Dharma protectors, that would pose a big obstacle in her attempt to win the position of blood master.
After mentally reviewing all of her Dharma protectors, she couldn’t think of any who could pull off such a feat. As such, her expression began to darken.
And yet, Xuemei had the same reaction. As she reviewed her own list of Dharma protectors, she wasn’t confident that any of them could do something like this. Along with Song Junwan, she stared up at the illusory door.
A moment later, a blurry figure appeared within the door. It only took a few breaths of time for both women to see exactly who it was, and they both cried out in surprise.
Xuemei’s eyes flickered with killing intent, and her heart trembled with shock. She couldn’t imagine how Nightcrypt had possibly acquired the approval of the world will so quickly.
After her initial shock, Song Junwan’s heart swelled with delight, and her beautiful eyes were glued to Bai Xiaochun.
When Bai Xiaochun first stepped out of the door, his vision was swimming, and he couldn’t see clearly. It only lasted for a moment, though, and then he saw all of the countless platforms around him, as well as Xuemei and Song Junwan.
“Junior Brother Nightcrypt, come on over here,” Song Junwan said, smiling. Her voice was full of both tenderness and joy.
Xuemei snorted coldly, clenching her hands into fists.
Bai Xiaochun blinked a few times, then headed over to Song Junwan. As soon as he touched down onto the platform, he walked over to her side.
“Um… I’m the first?” he asked quizzically.
“Of course you are,” Song Junwan said, smiling sweetly. “How did you do it? Who was your opponent?”
To Bai Xiaochun, her smile only seemed to reveal her inner vixen. However, he didn’t allow his true feelings to show. He stuck his chin up, clasped his hands behind his back, and tried to look as proud and murderous as possible.
“Oh, it was simple,” he said in a calm, deep voice. “I just walked through the world. As for my opponent, I never asked his name.” From his wording and posture, he seemed completely proud and aloof. As for how he called the Endless World of Blood “simple,” both Xuemei and Song Junwan could well imagine him summoning his blood sword and slashing his way through the world….
He likely ignored the countless attacking bloodbeasts, not even deigning to look at the world around him as he slaughtered his way to gain the approval of the world will.
Song Junwan’s eyes glowed even more brightly before when she looked at Bai Xiaochun, and as for Xuemei, she couldn’t help but stare at him. Moments later, both women realized that he wasn’t wounded at all, and their expressions flickered.
Just when Song Junwan was about to ask about it, Bai Xiaochun flicked his sleeve and coolly said, “I’m tired. Please let me know when the second stage is about to begin.” With that, he walked off to the side, where he sat down cross-legged, looking as arrogant as a wizened pine tree on top of a mountain. When he closed his eyes, his cold, cruel face and murderous aura caused Song Junwan’s words to stick in her throat.
Inwardly, Bai Xiaochun was laughing, and felt very proud of himself. As far as he was concerned, he was completely outstanding and utterly superior to everyone.
“Wait, I need to do something to make it seem a bit more realistic,” he thought. With that, he slowly lifted his head and looked off into the distance, eyes filling with a look of melancholy and introspection.
That left Song Junwan and Xuemei even more shaken, although they weren’t sure exactly what it meant.
Time passed. Two hours later, the air up above once again began to ripple and distort, and the door appeared again. A burly, dangerous-looking man appeared, seemingly out of breath as he emerged into the open. As soon as Xuemei saw him, she broke out into a smile. The burly man clasped hands and bowed to her in greeting, then approached the platform and sat down next to her. When he saw Bai Xiaochun over on the other platform, his heart filled with shock.
He had assumed that he would be the first to emerge, and would never have even guessed that Nightcrypt would be faster.
As the hours passed, more and more Dharma protectors appeared. Song Que was one of them, although he looked exhausted, and his body was riddled with wounds. Clearly, it had been a difficult task for him to win the approval of the world will.
Ten hours later, the final Dharma protector appeared, and the first stage was officially over.
Both Song Junwan and Xuemei had selected their Dharma protectors carefully, and all of them were extraordinary in some way. Unexpectedly, the two groups had been quite evenly matched, as there were now exactly ten Dharma protectors on either side.
The two women exchanged a frosty glance, and then both of them snorted coldly. Turning to their Dharma protectors, they began to explain the second stage.
“During the first stage,” Song Junwan began, “you Dharma protectors fought for the approval of the world, and I did not participate. In the second stage, the fighting will be more brutal, and I will participate!
“The second stage is called the Blood Wasteland. It is a road without end, over which a deathly wind blows every fourteen hours. Once that wind blows, every living thing within the Blood Wasteland will be killed, reduced to nothing more than a skeleton.
“That is the path that leads to the heart cavity. Put simply, we have exactly fourteen hours to search the Blood Wasteland for the keys which lead to the heart cavity!” Off in the distance, Xuemei was making a similar explanation to her Dharma protectors.
“Every two hours, a key will appear at a random location within the wasteland. Anyone who gets one of the keys, and holds onto it until the fourteen hours have passed, will be teleported to the Ancient Blood Path which leads to the heart cavity. Of course, Xuemei and I don’t need keys to enter the Ancient Blood Path.
“There are a total of seven keys, which means that only seven Dharma protectors can enter the Ancient Blood Path with Xuemei and myself!”
Bai Xiaochun’s expression flickered, as did the expressions of everyone else except for Song Que. One of them, a middle-aged cultivator, lowered his voice and asked, “What about the people who don’t get a key?”
Song Junwan looked at the man for a moment, and then replied, “We are fighting as a team, and whichever party gets the most keys will be the winner. The disciples on the winning team who don’t get keys will be not be teleported to the Ancient Blood Path, but neither will they be killed. They will simply be ejected.
“As for the losing team, whoever among them don’t get keys will all be killed after the fourteen hours are up! Those are the rules, and not even the patriarchs can interfere to save the losers!
“Therefore, this is not the time for infighting! If a key falls into the hands of one of Xuemei’s Dharma protectors, feel free to attack them. If your own teammates get them, however, you are prohibited from competing amongst yourselves!
“Infighting will not only increase our chances of losing, it could also lead to your deaths….
“The lot of you are either members of the Song Clan, or here because of certain promises I made. If I become blood master, your future prospects will be limitless. Everything that I have promised you, I will see done. If I lose, and Xuemei succeeds, then all of us will meet a grisly fate!” With that, Song Junwan clasped hands and bowed deeply to Bai Xiaochun and the other Dharma protectors.
Translator: Deathblade. Chinese language consultant: ASI a.k.a. Beerblade. Editor: GNE. Memes: Logan. Meme archives: Tocsin. Transcendent Patrons: Daoist Elder N, BLE, ttre208. AWE Glossary.