Chapter 471 - Flames
A boiling cauldron of voices could be heard within Lemon Camping Ground, as if people were celebrating a festival.
Gu Xuan took in the surrounding environment and was rather shocked to see the excitement and joy in people’s faces. He carried a sword, his hair worn up in a bun which was kept in place with a wooden hairpin. His sparse stubble was well trimmed and stiff, making him look more robust.
He’d already found a few swordsmen and even more metal elementalists. The place was bustling with activity.
Lemon Camping Ground was overcrowded, yet orderly, and no one caused any problems. There had been a few troublemakers two days back who were killed by Master Yang on the spot. Their corpses were thrown outside the camp.
Gu Xuan wasn’t used to to this. The aura of a Master swept across the camping ground unceasingly, and every time this happened, the keen and perceptive Gu Xuan would automatically grab hold of his sword hilt.
The pressure a Master exerted was really terrifying.
Gu Xuan was full of anticipation.
He’d entered the Third Elemental Realm two years ago, but had been unable to reach the doorstep of the level of Master. In order to seek out opportunities to become a Master, he went deep within the Wilderness and tried finding solutions through battling.
He gained more and more battle experience and his techniques underwent some tempering. However, he still had no clue in regards to his Path of Master.
He then came over here upon bumping into a group of elementalists who were headed for Central Pine Valley. Everyone was feeling very excited over the first ever Lightning Master, since they’d never seen the power of the lightning.
Different from other elementalists, Gu Xuan wasn’t only curious about the lightning, but also about Ai Hui’s swordsmanship. His curiosity stemmed from the battle with Han Li.
Gu Xuan had seen Han Li’s admirable swordsmanship. In two years, Han Li emerged as the most talented and outstanding genius within Karakorum Sword League, leaving Gu Xuan feeling ashamed and inferior.
Yet, Han Li had been defeated by Ai Hui’s sword.
Upon hearing this news, the whole audience was stunned. To have been able to defeat Han Li, how strong must’ve Ai Hui’s swordsmanship and achievements been?
Having been unable to find his own path of swordsmanship, Gu Xuan decided to visit Ai Hui in the Central Pine Valley, but was startled by the surging crowd upon reaching Lemon Camping Ground. He did not expect there to be this many people hoping to enter Central Pine Valley.
Since there was a Master keeping watch, Gu Xuan saw Central Pine Valley’s potential in a new light.
Just before, Shi Xueman had brought a group of people to the camping ground, which caused a commotion. Many were excited as they’d guessed what was going on.
Indeed, Shi Xueman announced the valley’s decision to recruit new members for her combat division.
"Spear of Heavy Cloud"?
No one cared about the name. They raised their heads and looked around, waiting for Shi Xueman to relay the details.
Shi Xueman had a high position in the valley. She was a Master and was born into an aristocratic family, so in terms of abilities and family history, she was being favored wholeheartedly. Even if those people weren’t able to learn any lightning techniques, they would be more than glad to be able to follow Miss Shi.
Four earth elementalists stepped forward to repair the fire reservoir. Shi Xueman then poured in a whole bottle of snow lava.
Her act pained many in the audience. One bottle was really expensive!
The sale of snow lava was going very well and at a high price, facts known to all fire elementalists. This high-grade fire liquid was a valuable item that most fire elementalists couldn’t afford, so many people started to feel that Central Pine Valley was rich and imposing. In this chaotic world, that meant more resources, better equipment and a higher rate of survival.
Excitement was evident in people’s faces and some were already eager to give it a try.
Those fire elementalists with no roof over their heads were even more fired up. It was obvious that this fire reservoir was prepared specially for fire elementalists.
Sang Zijun, who was standing beside Shi Xueman, stood forward and announced, "Fire elementalists able to stay in the fire reservoir for an hour will pass the test."
The faces of many fire elementalists changed slightly. The fire elemental energy in the fire reservoir was exceptionally thick and no different from lava. It was a major challenge even for fire elementalists.
Gu Xuan was guessing to himself the meaning behind this test.
The congealed air surrounding Shi Xueman was sufficient to shock Gu Xuan, who was observing from afar. He knew that she was already a Master, but had thought that she’d just been promoted. Experienced elementalists could testify that a new Master’s realm needed time to stabilize.
Yet, Shi Xueman’s breath was concentrated and fixed. It was steady and solid, not at all unstable.
There was no sign indicating that she’d just been promoted to the level of Master.
Gu Xuan’s perception of the Central Pine Valley’s abilities rose a notch once again. A new Masters’ abilities and combat strength were unstable. They required time to settle down and adapt.
He did not know how Shi Xueman did it, but it was clear that her abilities far exceeded those of ordinary Masters.
The fire reservoir was huge and could accommodate fifty elementalists.
Fifty fire elementalists stayed in the fire reservoir, as if soaking in a bath. It was a strangely pleasing sight but no one laughed. The dense fire elemental energy abraded the elementalists’ bodies, turning their faces bright red.
Weaker fire elementalists started to open their mouths to breathe. Their burning hot breaths were mixed with wisps of flames.
Gu Xuan thought about snow lava. Fire elemental energy must be abundant in the valley, to the point where they were able to use such aggressive methods to train. This was definitely a cruel practice, but it was also definitely effective and could increase one’s abilities within a short period of time.
Many of the observing fire elementalists standing around the fire reservoir had the same realization and were getting very excited.
That’s right, excited.
Fire elementalists did not mind if training was cruel. They were only concerned about its effectiveness in improving their abilities. They were without a home and had been at a standstill in terms of base level, so their yearning for proper training far exceeded that of other elementalists.
In this chaotic world, there was no time for you to train at your own pace. Those who weren’t able to progress quickly enough would become the food of dire beasts or corpses lying on the battlefield.
What were cruel trainings methods compared to death?
They had stagnant base levels and abilities, and could only watch as other metal and water elementalists of similar abilities improved and left them behind. They had no chance to catch up at all.
It had been their unswerving determination that got them through five whole years of despair.
Now that a chance presented itself in front of them, who would mind, no matter how cruel?
Pain could be seen in the participating fire elementalists’ faces but no one gave up. They knew that this was a rare opportunity and that no second chance would be given once they stepped out of the fire reservoir.
They did not want to fall back into that familiar despair.
A wisp of flame rose from a fire elementalist’s head and his hair was gone in an instant. His face was fierce looking, his veins bursting open. Each facial muscle was trembling as bean sized sweat beads surfaced and immediately evaporated, leaving only white salt. He opened his mouth wide but no howl or wailing could be heard.
He was afraid that making noise would mean disqualification.
Flames started igniting along his cheeks, his skin spreading open like butter and revealing fresh, red flesh. The flames extended down his neck and shoulders as the intense pain made his body shake violently, nibbling away at his bones.
No noise made.
He would rather turn into bones amid those flames than return to that despair.
The flames spread and gnawed at his shoulders, arms and fingertips. His body started to struggle less as that sinister, devilish face and those raging eyes gradually became hollow.
Silence filled the camping ground.
The metal elementalists were overwhelmed with shock and the fire elementalists’ cheeks were streaming with tears.
Jiang Wei and Sang Zhijun were moved. They, too, had been shocked, but the person who the most affected was Fatty.
Fatty stared blankly at the fire reservoir as a third of those fire elementalists were already smoking. It had only been half an hour, so according to their agreement these elementalists had failed.
It was impossible for them to last an hour.
Even if they did persevere, they would ultimately turn into scattered ashes and smoke. They simply wouldn’t survive.
Yet, no one moved.
Rib bones of the fire elementalist, who was in the worst situation, could be seen burning amid the flames. He was barely conscious and his eyes started to slacken and roll up.
"Take him out and give him immediate treatment."
Shi Xueman’s voice broke the silence. She took a deep breath, calming the agitation within her heart. The unfolding scene had a huge impact on her.
The elementalists beside her hurriedly pulled this elementalist out and extinguished the flames on his body. Lou Lan quickly went forward to treat him.
The fire elementalist lay motionless, his eyes unfocused.
Shi Xueman declared seriously, "You’re recruited."
The pupils in his empty eyes moved slightly, his breath pausing for a moment before regaining stability.
Lou Lan said quickly, "He passed out."
A reservoir full of fire elementalists, a reservoir full of flames. They were flames that rose from the despairing abyss, over high mountains and toward the horizon, waiting for the sun to rise.
They were flames of vitality. Flames that yearned for dignity.
No one noticed Ai Hui standing atop a newly constructed tower in another corner of the camping ground. He was observing the situation from afar.
After a long while he jumped down and continued working, all without speaking a word.
Till now, his Sword of Lightning was still an empty shell. He was the only member and the division leader.
It could be inferred from its name that this combat division had two unique features, lightning and swordsman. Jiang Wei and gang were very strong and had high tactic accomplishments. It would be much easier for Ai Hui to form a combat division with their help.
After careful deliberations, Ai Hui decided to start from ground zero because he had a bold idea.
Influenced by Karakorum Sword League to continue improving themselves, swordsmen had generally grown stronger. Nevertheless, the majority of good swordsmen had joined Sky Edge Division.
Till now, the new Sky Edge Division had yet to prove their abilities. In other words, the swordsmen had yet to prove their value.
Ai Hui found it hard to recruit capable and outstanding swordsmen. He had to nurture them from scratch.
That meant that he was very short on time.
Producing a combat division with significant combat strength within such a short period of time was a challenging task.
Ai Hui had some ideas, which he would have to test in order to assess their accuracy.
He was in a camp Wang Xiaoshan had built when they first arrived at Lemon Camping Ground. The surrounding walls blocked off the sunlight from outside so no one knew that there were towers, with grass swords inserted, sitting within those walls. The number of towers was increasing too.
The towers were built in picturesque disorder, suggesting a pattern. Ai Hui’s quiet figure shuttled back and forth, within the walls, without stopping.