Book 8, The Ten Thousand Kilometer Journey – Chapter 1, Thunderbolt
The central regions of the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts rarely saw humans passing through. Here, magical beasts of the seventh to ninth ranks could appear at any time. Most likely, only warriors of the ninth rank would dare trespass here. But Linley, upon arriving at the central region, began to embark on a northwards journey, along the central lines of the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts. Such an incredible journey was something which even most combatants of the ninth rank wouldn’t be so wild as to attempt.
Linley was only wearing a pair of raggedy hempcloth pants. His upper body was bare, and he was bare-footed as well. On his back, he carried the adamantine heavy sword. Step by step, he continued on this path which few dared tread.
As always, Bebe stood on Linley’s shoulders, scanning the nearby area.
Linley walked through a thick layer of dried leaves, his face calm. His backpack, Bloodviolet, straight chisel, and other clothes were all stored inside the interspatial ring. Within Clayde’s interspatial ring, aside from that enormous fortune of 2.2 billion gold coins worth of magicrystal cards, there were also dozens of precious items. Even the least valuable of them was worth millions of gold coins. The wealth accumulated by the royal clan of Fenlai over centuries was indeed a terrifying figure.
But to Linley?
Wealth was merely a worldly possession. What he truly valued was his own strength. Hadn’t the Dawson Conglomerate been willing to directly offer him a hundred million gold coins to join them? And this was just based on the mere possibility that Linley would reach the Saint-rank. To truly invite a Saint-rank to join, the price would be astronomical and astonishing.
From this, one could tell how important one’s personal strength was.
Although Linley was in the core regions, Linley still quite sensibly avoided a region where he couldn’t detect any magical beasts for tens of kilometers around. For such a large place within the core regions of the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts to be devoid of magical beasts most likely meant that the region was the territory of a Saint-level magical beast. Although Linley was self-confident, he still didn’t want to irritate a Saint-level magical beast.
Cutting his way through brambles and thistles, Linley wasn’t travelling at a particularly high speed.
“Everything needs to start from the basics.” Linley was extremely pragmatic. Every day, he carried the adamantine heavy sword on his back. Slashing, chopping, piercing, upward swinging. Linley continuously practiced with every possible move, trying nonstop to raise his attack power.
Linley didn’t train using only one method either.
He would often ponder how to train next. Using the scant information in his clan’s records regarding how some of his ancestors had trained, he tried to form a correct training regime for himself.
The correct way of training was to not aim too high and too far right away.
The dawning spring, the flourishing summer, the cool autumn, the freezing winter. No matter what season it was, Linley continued to only wear those tattered pants, which had been ripped countless times due to his Dragonform transformation. His upper body remained bare.
Linley had discovered something…
When he was barefooted, he could more clearly sense the thrumming pulse of the earth. Standing on the ground, his heart was as steady as the vast earth itself. Linley’s usage of the adamantine heavy sword also began to embody the weight of the world itself.
His upper body was bare.
Feeling the movement of the air against his body, Linley felt as though his entire being had become part of the wind itself. Wind, by its nature, was invisible and formless. When using the Bloodviolet flexible sword, Linley felt that he was wielding it with greater and greater ease.
Because of this, Linley now emanated an aura that was both stable and immovable as well as graceful as the wind. These two auras should have been opposites, but the strange thing was, coming from Linley, they felt very natural and innate.
Focusing primarily on the heavy sword, secondarily on the flexible sword, and also sparing some time for stonesculpting. At night, Linley would be in the meditative trance. Linley’s entire life had entered a very particular regime of training.
Sometimes, when he saw massive waterfalls crashing down from the top of the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, Linley would feel excited and leap into the waterfalls, training beneath the water.
Seeing those long, pure rivers, Linley would often wade into their waters.
When he saw boulders atop mountain peaks, if Linley felt struck by inspiration, he would directly climb onto the top of the peaks and carve out a statue, perhaps spending several nights on each one.
He did whatever he wanted.
Linley’s mind and spirit were more natural and more at-ease than they ever had been before. Training under these conditions, Linley totally forgot the passage of time. He only felt that his strength was improving every single day, and every single improvement made him feel happy and moved.
The path of training was a long, winding one.
This was a hard road to travel, but on this path there were constant new breakthroughs, making one feel gratified and moved.
Linley began to grow a beard, and his originally short hair began to grow long as well. His eyes, previously filled with a proud aloofness, had become calm and tranquil, due to the influence of being in touch with nature for so long.
Only occasionally while training would his eyes become terrifyingly sharp.
Linley’s temperament, as well, had become molded by nature to become more stable. Without Doehring Cowart’s guidance, Linley had no one to rely upon. Naturally, he continued to develop and mature even more.
Water thundered down from the hundred-meter high waterfall, smashing down against the deep pool below, spraying water everywhere. Right next to the waterfall, there was a large boulder sticking up from the ground.
There was a person seated cross legged atop the boulder, with a black heavy sword resting atop his legs.
It was early dawn. The sky was just beginning to lighten. Within the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, one of the things Linley enjoyed doing was enjoying the clear dawn air.
“Ah…” Linley opened his eyes.
He glanced behind him, and saw Bebe curled up right next to him. Bebe’s two little claws were stuck directly into the stone itself, so as to make sure there was no possibility he could roll off and fall.
“Bebe, time to move.” Linley said with a laugh.
Bebe opened his eyes lazily, glancing all around himself. Then he shook his head, clearing it of the last remnants of sleep, and stood up. “Boss. I’m hungry.”
“Let’s go. We’ll eat later.” Linley leaped off the boulder. Moving as gracefully as the wind itself, Linley traversed several dozen meters with that leap, landing on the opposite shore of the pond. Also jumping off the boulder, Bebe transformed into a black streak, finally landing next to Linley’s feet.
A man and a magical beast once more began their voyage.
But before they had gone too far, Linley’s footsteps suddenly halted. Bebe looked questioningly at Linley.
“There’s a magical beast nearby.” Linley said mentally.
Bebe stared. Bebe could now be considered an early-stage magical beast of the ninth rank. Generally speaking, there were very few magical beasts that could draw near without him sensing it. But this time, he hadn’t sensed anything.
With his feet pressed against the earth and his ability to sense the wind, it would be difficult for anything moving nearby to not attract Linley’s attention.
“This magical beast’s movements are light and graceful. I can’t sense its movements on the earth at all. But when it moves, it causes vibrations in the wind.” Linley said mentally.
A Golden Tattooed Panther was latched onto a tree trunk, not moving at all. Panthers could be considered one of the fastest type of land-based magical beasts.
In particular, the Saint-level Electrobolt Panther’s movement speed made it an incredibly terrifying Saint-level magical beast to deal with.
Golden Tattooed Panthers were magical beasts of the seventh rank. But as a panther-type magical beast, it naturally possessed the high speed which all panthers were known for. Its explosive, short distance pouncing speed was even superior to magical beasts of the eighth rank.
The Golden Tattooed Panther suddenly exerted pressure with its four limbs.
It leapt atop another tree. Panthers were extremely skilled at running and leaping about on tree tops, and were very well known for that as well. From within the dense leaves, the Golden Tattooed Panther had already seen that distant human figure.
The Golden Tattooed Panther waited quietly. Waited for the human to draw near.
Indeed, the human and the black Shadowmouse were beginning to come nearer.
“A black Shadowmouse? Not a threat.” Magical beasts of the seventh rank possessed very high intelligence. The primary focus of the Golden Tattooed Panther was that human. The aura that human emitted had already raised the Golden Tattooed Panther’s caution level. But the Golden Tattooed Panther had the feeling that this human shouldn’t be too powerful.
Indeed, in his base form, Linley was only a late-stage warrior of the seventh rank.
Generally speaking, when a magical beast of the seventh rank fought a human of the seventh rank, the magical beast would have the advantage.
“Swish.” Leaping off from the tree trunk, the Golden Tattooed Panther transformed into a vicious golden blur, gracefully soaring towards Linley.
The seemingly totally unprepared human, suddenly….
As fast as lightning, drew that adamantine heavy sword from his back while retreating! At the same time, he chopped down with that sword against the Golden Tattooed Panther with tremendous power.
Already in mid-leap, there was no way for the Golden Tattooed Panther to change its trajectory. The only thing it could do was to do his best to move his head away.
Flashing out like a lightning bolt, the adamantine heavy sword viciously slammed against the Golden Tattooed Panther’s body. Where it landed on the Golden Tattooed Panther’s body, a deep crevice appeared. The sounds of bones shattering could be heard.
With that ‘bam’ sound, the Golden Tattooed Panther’s body crashed to the ground. It lay twitching there, blood pouring out of its mouth. But within ten seconds, the Golden Tattooed Panther moved no more.
Linley gracefully resheathed his adamantine heavy sword.
“Bebe, our breakfast today will be panther flesh.” Linley said casually.
To Linley and Bebe, this was just a very ordinary event. Within the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, they would kill several magical beasts every day.
If an expert at using the sword had been present, they would clearly be able to tell that Linley, despite only being a late-stage warrior of the seventh rank, was able to utilize this 3600 pound heavy sword at an extremely high level. Not only did the weight of the heavy sword not hinder Linley, Linley was even able to make use of its weight to make the speed of the heavy sword’s blows faster.
When chopping, he could actually chop a magical beast of the seventh rank to death at one blow. This power was simply astonishing.
Linley and Bebe began to roast panther flesh in the middle of the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts.
“Boss, how powerful is the most powerful attack you can now use with that heavy sword? A few days ago, you said you had a breakthrough.” Bebe asked.
They had been in the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts for over a year now. During this year, Linley’s mind had become one with nature, and he had completely immersed himself in his training. This year and a half of training had improved his abilities at an extremely rapid pace.
“My most powerful attack? Hard to say. Speaking in more general terms, I should be able to fight most magical beasts of the eighth rank in human form alone.” Linley said confidently.
This wasn’t arrogance. This was confidence in his own power.
“The panther meat smells so good.” Bebe sniffed the air with his nose.
“Hrm?” Linley frowned, then suddenly laughed. “Bebe, when we roast meat, we often attract attention from magical beasts. Only, this time, this magical beast seemed to be quite a slow and clumsy one.”
After waiting a good while, Linley and Bebe finally saw a magical beast appear.
“Velocidragon?” Linley began to laugh. Linley was now quite familiar with Velocidragons. Despite being magical beasts of the seventh rank, they possessed extremely powerful defense. Although both were of the seventh rank, a Velocidragon’s defense was far more formidable than that of a Golden Tattooed Panther. But in turn, the Golden Tattooed Panther was far faster than a Velocidragon.
“Boss, you say that your attack power is really high now. Do you think you can chop a Velocidragon to death with one sword stroke?” Bebe suddenly said.
The scales of a Velocidragon were nearly half a meter thick, and the bones of its skull were extremely hard and dense. Although Velocidragons were fairly slow, their defense could match an ordinary magical beast of the eighth rank.
“One sword blow? I haven’t tested it yet. Let me give it a try.”
Linley drew the adamantine heavy sword from the sheath on his back, then began walking step by step towards the Velocidragon.
The Velocidragon was two stories tall and nearly twenty meters long. Compared to this enormous creature, Linley was nothing more than a small speck.
“Grooooowl.” The Velocidragon roared angrily at Linley.
But wielding the adamantine heavy sword in his hands, Linley continued to walk towards the Velocidragon, one barefooted step at a time.
Linley’s movements sped up dramatically as he charged towards the Velocidragon. Letting out an angry roar, the Velocidragon sent its draconic tail whipping towards Linley. The Velocidragon’s tail was an extremely quick weapon.
“Clang.” Linley’s adamantine heavy sword suddenly moved at high speed and blocked the draconic tail.
Despite the great lashing force of the Velocidragon’s tail, Linley leapt off the ground, borrowing the force of the tail to fly over the Velocidragon.
“Uh, this is a human?” The Velocidragon was surprised to discover that the man in front of him had wielded that adamantine heavy sword as easily and as naturally as the grass bowing from the wind. And now, that man was smashing directly down at his head with the sword.
The Velocidragon was extremely confident. Its skull was, after all, the toughest part of its body.
When that agile, flowing black heavy sword touched his skull, it posed no danger to the Velocidragon at all. But all of a sudden, just as it touched the skull, an incredibly powerful force exploded from the sword. Like a sudden flood bursting through a dam, that astonishing power poured out all at once. It only heard a ‘crack’ sound, and then everything went dark.
Bebe watched this scene in astonishment.
Linley had only struck the skull, the toughest part of a Velocidragon’s body, with a single blow from his sword. And then, the Velocidragon’s head had split open like a fragile egg, with brain matter and blood pouring out. The massive, powerful body of the Velocidragon slumped to the ground, as Linley gracefully landed as well.
“Boss! Wow! You are that powerful now?” Bebe ran over excitedly.
Linley laughed. “Over the past year, I have been able to almost perfectly merge my own strength with my Dragonblood battle-qi. And then, based on what I have learned from my connection to the earth, I broke past the simple levels of using ‘strength’ and ‘battle-qi’. I have arrived at the level which the ancestors of the Baruch clan described as ‘wielding the heavy as though it were light’. Only now, I have managed to develop this technique: ‘Thunderbolt’.