Chapter 381 - Recouping Losses
A long, arduous journey filled with trials and tribulations.
After flying consecutively for three days and three nights, Ai Hui finally stopped in his tracks and landed in a hidden valley. He continuously shifted his location during the journey to ensure that no one was following him.
After experiencing days of heavy rain rushing on the road, Ai Hui looked rather haggard, but his eyes were unusually bright. They shone like two endlessly burning flames, which could not be wiped out by the rain.
As he brushed the gloominess aside, Ai Hui felt like he was born anew.
The elemental energy within his body was depleted and he desperately needed a rest.
Silverfold Plum in hand, he heaved a heavy sigh and started a Circulatory Cycle.
A sharp hissing sound could be heard as Ai Hui absorbed strand after strand of metal elemental energy. A spring of clear water began to gurgle out of the dried earth around him, shooting into the air and whirling around his body. The water condensed itself into balls of elemental energy sword pills which became a part of the Circulatory Cycle Revolution.
A white mist slowly creeped over Ai Hui’s body, shrouding him in a cloak of fog. Rain began to fall from the sky, each drop vaporizing as they came into contact with the mist.
If there was a metal elementalist flying in the vicinity, he would notice that the impending storm’s metal winds were being channeled into this small valley.
A circle of light that had two distinct colors could be seen on the ground beneath Ai Hui’s feet. A brown colored outer ring surrounded a white circle.
The outer ring of the circle was extremely dense earth elemental energy. The brown color faded towards the centre of the circle, which was purely silver in colour. The pure silver circle in the middle was metal elemental energy.
In the Second Elemental Realm, Ai Hui was able to transform earth elemental energy into metal elemental energy. This meant he could control both types of elemental energy.
As he recovered his elemental energy, the stress on his body rapidly decreased and Ai Hui’s mind became more lucid. He had clearly improved after his experience in Silver City. Having been through all sorts of physical and emotional obstacles, Ai Hui was now much more resilient.
Having a clear mind and understanding one’s self was essential to achieving a higher level of consciousness.
He experienced a slight improvement in his control of elemental energy as well.
Ai Hui was enlightened. He realized that achieving elemental externalization meant that a deep understanding of one’s own spirit was required in addition to a profound understanding of elemental energy.
He remembered something he’d once read in a book.
‘A strong body needs an equally mighty soul.’
The Circulatory Cycle Revolution was executed in perfect order.
The round, spinning elemental energy sword pills were his secret weapon. The explosive power granted by the elemental energy sword pills were the reason why his sword skills were so powerful.
With his attention focused on the Circulatory Cycle, he soon discovered a problem.
The elemental energy within his body was exceptionally dense. After reaching the Second Elemental Realm, his control of ambient elemental energy was greatly enhanced. He had since been able to increase the concentration of elemental energy around him. However, his rate of absorption did not increase much.
This was not surprising. In fact, this was a problem that all elementalists would eventually face.
Attaining elemental externalization meant that the body had already reached the upper limit of the amount of elemental energy it could store. The rate of absorption would also be at its maximum. The body of an elementalist was like a valve, and by the time he achieved elemental externalization, this valve would have been opened to its maximum capacity. Most people found this amount adequate, and instead focused on controlling elemental energy that was external to the body.
Ai Hui had a different perspective.
During his battles, he noticed that the control of external elemental energy was directly affected by the elemental energy within the body. If the elemental energy within his body was depleted, his control over external elemental energy would likely be lost as well.
In a high intensity battle, the ability to quickly restore elemental energy significantly improved combat effectiveness. There were only two known ways to improve recovery speed. The first was to expand the "valve", and the other was to increase the power of extraction. The power of extraction came from one’s Circulatory Cycle Revolution. The faster the revolution of the cycle, the faster the rate of absorption of elemental energies. However, this speed could not simply be increased at will, since external elemental energies contained a large amount of impurities. Continuous, effortful refinement through the use of the Circulatory Cycle was necessary to properly purify external elemental energies.
If the cycle was too fast, impurities might remain in the elemental energy during absorption. Elemental energy that was not pure enough could be extremely harmful to elementalists.
Since increasing the speed of the Circulatory Cycle Revolution wasn’t possible, could the "valve" become larger?
A bold idea suddenly sprang out of his mind. Was this possible? Ai Hui was captivated by his own idea and he promptly began to explore its intricacies.
The Circulatory Cycle Revolution largely involved the five residences and eight palaces within the body. As such, elemental energy from the surroundings must go through the body before it could be fully incorporated into the Circulatory Cycle Revolution,
Ai Hui remembered that his Circulatory Cycle Revolution was different from others’. In addition to the five residences and eight palaces, his Circulatory Cycle Revolution had an additional aspect - his sword.
This was a practice he had continued with even after the sword embryo had shattered. Back when he still had the sword embryo, holding a sword had helped to improve his control of elemental energy.
Absorbing elemental energy through the sword instead of his lungs and skin? Would it not greatly increase the Circulatory Cycle Revolution’s efficiency?
Feeling motivated, Ai Hui began to test his hypothesis.
He had tried to absorb elemental energy directly from his sword before, but it wasn’t particularly effective. This time round, Ai Hui stopped all other parts of his body from absorbing elemental energy before attempting to directly absorb elemental energy via the Silverfold Plum.
What happened next gave him a surprise.
Metal elemental energy from his surroundings accumulated around him. The sheer amount of it gave him a shock.
The Silverfold Plum was forged from metal and as such had an extremely high affinity for metal elemental energy. Metal elemental energy flowed easily into the sword, and not even the slightest resistance could be felt.
Humans were creatures of flesh and blood. Even if their bodies was fully tempered, they were still made of flesh. As such, despite being stronger and having a higher affinity for metal elemental energy than usual, Ai Hui’s tempered body would still never be able to match up to pure metal’s affinity for metal elemental energy.
However, Ai Hui soon ran into new problems. The amount of ambient elemental energy was too large, and the Silverfold Plum quickly became saturated with elemental energy. The excessive amount of elemental energy caused an obstruction in the Circulatory Cycle and the revolution ground to a halt.
The Silverfold Plum appeared to encounter some issues as well. It exuded an intense, dazzling light, as if the entire blade was covered in a layer of mercury. A continuous buzzing sound could be heard.
It was overburdened.
Metal was the material that contained the greatest amount of metal elemental energy. Metal that was formed in areas rich in metal elemental energy would constantly be bathed in it. This process greatly increased the grade of the metal, and could even make it transform.
However, all kinds of metal still had a limit on how much metal elemental energy they could withstand. A sudden influx of excessive metal elemental energy could cause it to blow up.
Silverfold Plum was a high-grade product from the Assembly of Patriarchs that was as powerful as Heaven-grade weapons. This meant that it should be able to last till Ai Hui became a Master.
The stronger an elementalist, the purer and more explosive the elemental energy. Weapons made of ordinary materials were unable to withstand such pure and powerful elemental energy.
Ai Hui wasn’t expecting his idea to work this well, to the point where even the Silverfold Plum would become overloaded.
He hurriedly forced the excess elemental energy out of the Silverfold Plum.
Ai Hui then started his second attempt. This time, he tried to slow down the speed of his Circulatory Cycle Revolution.
A thin strand of elemental energy flowed from the Silverfold Plum’s blade into Ai Hui’s right hand palace and seamlessly became integrated into the Circulatory Cycle. As it flowed through the cycle, the thin strand of elemental energy was condensed into sword pills.
After completing one revolution, the elemental energy sword pills were now flowing back into the Silverfold Plum.
The first elemental energy sword pill to enter collided with the external elemental energy that was being absorbed through the Silverfold Plum. The strands of elemental energy began to wrap around the rapidly rotating elemental energy sword pill, increasing it’s size. The same thing happened to the subsequent elemental energy sword pills.
These new elemental energy sword pills would then continue flowing within the Circulatory Cycle.
As he continued with the process, Ai Hui soon discovered that he was unable to speed up the blade’s absorption of elemental energy. The Circulatory Cycle would become jammed once the amount of elemental energy being absorbed was increased.
Increasing the recovery rate of elemental energy wasn’t going to be that easy after all.
However, Ai Hui was not disappointed by this. He was completely focused on the elemental energy sword pills within his body. A few of them were very large, almost twice the size of those he was previously able to form.
Up till then, he had never once thought of forming larger elemental energy sword pills.
Ai Hui wondered what new changes these enlarged elemental energy sword pills would bring.
After finishing one last revolution, Ai Hui opened his eyes. Sure enough, his judgment was correct. He took slightly longer to recover his elemental energy this way.
He decided to experiment with the enlarged elemental energy sword pills.
With a flick of his wrist, the Silverfold Plum emitted a brilliant sword ray across the empty space in front of him.
A small hole silently appeared in a rock that was about twenty feet away .
Ai Hui could sense the difference from this move alone. The enlarged elemental energy sword pills were much more explosive - it felt as if he was firing a cannon.
He flew over to the rock and inspected it. His move had bored a clean hole right through the 3 meter wide rock. Ai Hui was pleased with the power he had just unleashed.
Taking to the sky, he executed the [Heavenly Thrust] again.
A slender sword ray soared through the air like an arrow.
The ray flew a good two hundred meters before gradually fading away.
His eyes lit up in delight. Right up to that instant, [Crescent Moon] had been his only long range attack. Skills like [Six Moons] had a maximum range of only thirty meters.
The [Heavenly Thrust] he’d just executed was very similar to shooting an arrow. However, the sword ray produced was even sharper and quieter than an arrow.
On the other hand, it’s range was pathetic when compared to a bow and arrow.
A master bowman could easily hit a target a dozen miles away.
So far, the record stood at a hundred and fifty seven kilometers.
It was set more than six hundred years ago, when a master bowman managed to kill a dire beast with one shot at that range. This feat took the world by storm and made archery immensely popular. It was then that careers as long-ranged assassins took off as well.
Insane shots like these were, of course, extremely taxing to fire. Even a Master wouldn’t be able to fire more than a handful of them over short periods.
Ai Hui was satisfied with the two hundred meters he had gained.
Moreover, this was only the beginning. He was confident that he could improve even further.
While he may not have been successful in increasing his recovery rate, Ai Hui unexpectedly managed to greatly enhance his attacking range.