‘He’s… no longer the same.’
Zi Che could not pinpoint the details. This was merely a feeling of his.
Under the dark sky and within the cave abode, Su Ming breathed calmly and silently meditated. The injuries on his person were already controlled, and as he recovered his breathing, his wounds began to heal.
When dawn arrived, Su Ming opened his eyes. There was no shining light within them, only clarity. He looked at the darkness beyond his cave. A chilling gust of wind blew in and lifted a few locks of his hair to float before his face.
‘The battle in the land of the Shamans…’
Su Ming lowered his head and looked at his hands. A contemplative look appeared on his face. In his mind, the scenes that had happened right from the moment he chased down and killed the remaining half of the Split Dawn alone to the moment he walked out of Lizard Shaman Tribe slowly appeared.
"I made a few mistakes in this fight," Su Ming mumbled. He lifted his left hand and picked up the drawing board before he began drawing on its back with his right hand. Gradually, pictures appeared on his drawing board.
The first thing that appeared was a small hill in a dense forest. His body stood on the hill and was charging down. Below the hill, the remaining half of the Split Dawn was similarly approaching him.
‘Even though I had paid a high amount of attention to the enemy… At the critical moment of the battle, I neglected checking the terrain of the place. Even if I didn’t know of the strangeness there, when I saw my target suddenly pausing, I should have been cautious.’
Su Ming looked at the drawing board and the very first scene of the fight appeared clearly in his head.
‘I could have not been injured by this fight… There was also the boy. I also could have not made any mistakes when I met him. Even if I didn’t kill him, I could have brought him with me and let him go when I was save.’
Su Ming closed his eyes. When he reopened them, he flicked the drawing board with his right hand and a thin layer of dust flew up. Once the previous drawing was erased, he continued drawing on the board with his right hand.
It was still a forest that appeared on the drawing board this time, and within that forest, a dozen Shamans were charging to the tree where Su Ming was sitting from all around him.
‘I was not vigilant enough. My actions were not careful enough. I was in Shaman territory. If I had set up traps before I started resting… If I had brought out the red meadow before I started resting… then I wouldn’t have needed to use the treasure eldest senior brother gave me. I could also not have suffered so many wounds and killed all these people!’
Su Ming waved his right hand and continued drawing on the board. Soon, the scene of him being chased by the old Shaman in the forest and his subsequent counterattack appeared on the drawing board.
A glint appeared in Su Ming’s eyes as he looked at the picture.
‘I didn’t make any mistakes in this battle… If I hadn’t made the previous two mistakes, then perhaps this battle wouldn’t have occurred. Even if it had, winning this battle wouldn’t have been so difficult for me since I’d have bought enough time for myself.
‘My trip to the land of the Shamans this time showed me just how much I’m lacking in real battle… I need to be careful, more careful!’
Firm resolution appeared in Su Ming’s eyes.
Finding out and summing up all his mistakes in his battle while figuring out all his inadequacies was one of the ways Su Ming made himself stronger.
This life and death crisis did not just bring him the joy of narrowly escaping death. If that was the case, then perhaps he would never have a second chance to narrowly escape death again.
To Su Ming, a life and death crisis should bring about transformation and growth so that he could continue improving himself. He could continue rectifying his mistakes and how he dealt with things, then when he was in the face of danger again, he could have more chances to survive.
‘I have to make each move carefully. I have to remain alert for danger that might appear at any time before I take any action. Only by doing so can I become stronger, as well as survive during Shaman Hunt.’
Su Ming closed his eyes and engraved the lesson from the trip this time in his head.
‘Besides the inadequacies in my actions, there’s also something else that I need to be careful of and rectify as well.’
Su Ming opened his eyes and lifted his right hand to draw a line across the air before him. Once he drew it, Su Ming looked at the spot where he just drew with brilliantly shining eyes.
‘This line may be complete. Perhaps it’s not perfect, but with my current power and understanding, this is my limit… but besides this line, I have nothing else I can use to fight against strong enemies…’
He frowned. Before he entered the ninth summit, he had not had this worry.
Yet since he joined the ninth summit and searched for the method to clear his mind according to Tian Xie Zi’s teachings, he had not had any chances to learn any other Arts.
The battle against the Shaman Tribe let Su Ming learn of his weakness and inadequacy.
‘I don’t have enough divine abilities… I was good with my speed to begin with, but it wasn’t enough when I fought against the old Shaman! It’s not just my divine abilities and speed, my defenses were the same.
‘The Divine General Armor can still resist the attacks dealt by those around the same level of cultivation as me, but when I meet those stronger than I am, then the Armor isn’t able to repair itself in time. Because I didn’t go to the Great Yu Dynasty to get my real Armor, that’s why it’s not sturdy.
‘Thank goodness I have Han Mountain Bell, but I mainly use it to stun my enemies with the bell chimes, not defense. Using it for defense is a last resort.
‘Besides these, I don’t have a lot of enchanted Vessels either. The ice fire eldest senior brother gave me has already disappeared, the Divine Clone uncle master Bai gave me also disappeared… I must prepare a large amount of these things before Sky Mist Shaman Hunt begins.’
Su Ming frowned.
‘There aren’t many medicinal pills left either. I need to make them again. The power of Spirit Plunder far surpassed my expectations. While it might have only absorbed the old Shaman’s spirit for an instant and I still can’t exploit that one moment of weakness, but if I’ become fast enough, if I had two or three or even more Spirit Plunders to freeze my enemies, then… I would have a chance!’
In his silence, Su Ming touched the black stone hanging off his neck. Gradually, the medicinal pill called the Welcoming of Deities appeared in his mind.
‘That old Shaman said that my Spirit Plunder was actually the Barren Core of the Shaman Tribe when he saw it… Could it be that this stone fragment actually came from the Shaman Tribe?’
Su Ming frowned. He had a feeling that it was not so.
As he continued thinking in silence, the darkness in the sky outside was slowly chased away and the surroundings gradually turned brighter. When it was completely bright, morning arrived.
When the morning sun shone into the cave, Su Ming took a deep breath. With a direction for what he wanted to do for his subsequent preparations in his heart, he got up and walked out of his cave.
It had been six days since he was taken away by Tian Xie Zi. It had been six full days since he stood on the platform outside his cave during morning while breathing in the chilling wind and looking at the sky, clouds, sea beyond the mountain, and the occasional falling or flying snow.
He stood there and looked at the horizon. He might not be able to see it clearly, but he could still feel just how the land of Shamans looked like in this morning beyond the Sky Mist Barrier that obscured the view.
"Youngest junior brother, morning."
A gentle voice that sounded like spring wind came from behind Su Ming. When he turned around, he saw his second senior brother walking towards him with his usual gentle smile while dressed in long robes.
"Second senior brother, you’re up early today."
Su Ming was curious. He seldom saw his second senior brother waking up so early. Most of the time, he only woke up when it was noon. After all, wandering about during night would leave him needing sleep when the morning sun rose.
Second senior brother let out a few fake coughs and turned his face to the side slightly so that the sun could shine on his side profile.
"Youngest junior brother, there’s one sentence that I finally understood, waking up early is good for you." Second senior brother swayed his head slightly.
Su Ming smiled and did not speak.
Second senior brother was about to say something when his gaze suddenly focused. He took a few scrutinizing looks at Su Ming, patted his body with his right hand, then walked around him once before suddenly speaking in a low voice.
"Fourth, tell me, did Master come to you at night when he was dressed in purple? How did you answer him?"
"I told him… I wanted to see it." Su Ming smiled.
"That’s… no good…" Second senior brother was momentarily taken aback before a faint smile appeared on his lips. That smile grew wider until he finally burst out laughing. "Why didn’t I think of that? That’s… really no good…"
A hint of eagerness appeared in second senior brother’s eyes and he patted Su Ming’s shoulders. "And then? What did Master do?"
"He brought me to see a battle, we watched a person making a xun, then went to the Shaman Tribe and killed a whole bunch of Shamans…" Su Ming said softly.
Second senior brother widened his eyes and an expression that said he was looking forward to it appeared. Resolution gradually formed in his eyes.
"Next time, when Master comes to me in purple, I’ll answer that way as well!"
Second senior brother was about to continue, but he suddenly lifted his head and quickly straightened up his robes before turning his body to the side to make sure the sun shone on the side of his face. A gentle smile appeared on his lips.
Two long arcs charged out from the seventh summit in the sky. Those two arcs traveled one after another. The person in the long arc in front was a woman. That woman was beautiful but had a frown on her face, as if she did not want to come. It was Zi Yan.
Once she was close to the ninth summit, she glared at Zi Che. Zi Che did not dare look at her and quickly lowered his head. Su Ming’s second senior brother moved forward and with the sun still shining on his side profile, he spoke gently to Zi Yan.
"Miss Zi Yan, let’s go."
As he spoke, he took a step in the air and walked towards Zi Yan. They turned into two long arcs and went into the distance, reluctance evident on Zi Yan.
Su Ming did not look at his second senior brother and Zi Yan leaving. Instead, he looked at the girl who came in the second long arc. She was dressed in white, had her hair tied up with a red string made of straw, had two small braids by her ears, and had a few glittering crystals on her forehead.
At that moment, a dazed look appeared in Su Ming’s eyes.