Book 7: The Extreme North
Chapter 43.1: An Ordeal of Extreme Pain
When she heard the Skydream Iceworm's words, the Ice Empress couldn't help but hesitate. "Are you sure?" Once she made her decision, she'd naturally have to work hard for it. If she failed, even if she could let her spiritual origin return to her main body, she still wouldn't be able to escape her next bottleneck. As such, how could she not be cautious?
The Skydream Iceworm replied, "If you work together with me, we'll have at least a 90% chance at success. The remaining 10% will depend on Yuhao himself. Here, I'll introduce you two. Yuhao, this is Snowy. Er… I meant to say Ice Empress. Anyway, this is the Ice Jade Empress Scorpion who is the second-ranked Empress of the Extreme North's Three Emperors. Ice Empress, this is Huo Yuhao. He has the spiritual-type Spirit Eyes, as well as the foundation for an ice-type martial soul that I laid the groundwork for. Currently, his ice-type martial soul needs a main soul ring. Or, to put it better, it needs another intelligent soul ring like me. You could say that his ice-type abilities are currently blank slates, thus he needs you to fuse with him to gain them. Once you've fused with him, you won't just become the first soul ring of his ice-type martial soul; you'll become his martial soul. As such, his second martial soul will be you, the Ice Jade Empress Scorpion!"
"Hello, Ice Empress." Huo Yuhao said. His voice was extremely moderate as he tried not to excessively reveal the emotions he was currently feeling.
The Ice Empress hesitated for a moment, then said, "Hello. I hope that you'll be able to persevere through this process. If you can't, all of our efforts will have been for naught, and we'll all have to face the consequences." Unlike when she spoke to the Skydream Iceworm, she was much gentler to Huo Yuhao. Perhaps it was because she would soon become a part of Huo Yuhao's body that she was naturally willing to be friendly towards this tiny human.
When the Ice Empress had made her choice, she had done so somewhat begrudgingly. However, despite her choice being as such, she had immediately changed her position on the matter after making her decision. Huo Yuhao inwardly admired the speed at which she'd changed her attitude. Even though the Ice Empress hadn't formally become his martial soul and soul ring, he already felt that she was somewhat more reliable than the Skydream Iceworm.
The Skydream Iceworm said, "We've already reached the outer regions of the Extreme North. With the Ice Empress' body as a deterrent, only the Snow Emperor would dare to approach us. Even the Titan Ice Devil King himself will avoid this area once he senses the Ice Empress' aura. As such, there shouldn't be any issues regarding our safety here. Now then, we need to discuss how the fusion will proceed. Ice Empress, I'll tell you the method with which you can fuse with Huo Yuhao, so let's talk over it for a bit."
Huo Yuhao's spiritual sea quietened down. In order to avoid affecting his mental state, they didn't want him to know how the fusion would proceed. Thus, the Skydream Iceworm and the Ice Empress communicated with each other using some other method.
After a short period of time passed, Huo Yuhao heard the Ice Jade Empress Scorpion let out a long sigh, "If we do it this way, it's true that there's a high chance we'll succeed. However, Huo Yuhao's body is still somewhat fragile and weak, so we'll need to change the order of the fusion. We'll first need to strengthen his physique before completing the entire fusion. Since I'm going to become an intelligent soul ring, I want to transfer as much of my strength as possible to him."
The Skydream Iceworm said, "Are you saying that you want to transfer your bone, your soul, then your ring last?"
The Ice Jade Empress Scorpion said, "Right. If we use your method, we'll have an 80% chance of succeeding at most. You're still underestimating the amount of power I have. My soul power is extremely tyrannical, and even if I restrain it whilst continuously sealing it, some of it will still leak out. I'm afraid that Huo Yuhao won't be able to withstand this spillover. Thus, I think it's better to be a bit more careful."
The Skydream Iceworm's voice changed, turning gentle as he said, "Snowy, so you do trust me even this much. If we do this, we'll directly destroy your body, leaving you with no room for escape at all. I'm really moved!"
"Just die, will you?" The Ice Empress' cold voice rang out. "When have I ever left a path of escape for myself when I'm doing things? Since I've made my decision, I'll have to go all-out. If I'm scared of the slightest thing, I'll only let my opportunities run away. Stop dawdling about with me. Skydream, don't forget that all of my power will appear in Huo Yuhao's body once I've fused with him. At that time, hmph, hmph."
"Uhh…" Hearing the Ice Jade Empress Scorpion's words, the Skydream Iceworm immediately turned more moderate than before.
Huo Yuhao was somewhat puzzled, "Ice Empress, what do you mean by 'bone then soul'?"
The Ice Empress had a much better attitude towards him. Patiently, she said, "According to Skydream's method, I'll directly become your martial soul by molding the ice-type martial soul he gave you. After that, the energy within my body will become your soul ring. You're a human soul master, so you should know that we hundred thousand year soul beasts will definitely produce a soul bone. I'm not an exception to that. Though I've already cultivated for nearly four hundred thousand years, I can't turn my fleshy body into even more soul bones. However, the soul bone I'll drop will be much more powerful than one dropped from an ordinary hundred thousand year soul beast. Furthermore, I can decide its shape, turning it into any soul bone you choose. Because of that, I've decided to first help you fuse with your soul bone. This way, your physique will be strengthened by an extremely large amount. After that, I'll assimilate my soul power with your body, and because you already have my soul bone, the fusion process will be much easier."
Now Huo Yuhao thoroughly understood what she had meant. It was no wonder the Skydream Iceworm had said that the Ice Jade Empress Scorpion would have no room for retreat by doing this. Right! Her body would have to be sacrificed in the first step in this scenario, and if she failed, she might die. Sure enough, it was a method that left no ways out. This also gave Huo Yuhao an extremely favourable impression of her. Solemnly, he said, "Ice Empress, how do you need me to help you out?" At this moment, he didn't say any words of gratitude. This was because both parties were mutually benefiting from each other in the first place. To the Ice Empress, fusing with her would be the most successful outcome.
The Ice Empress said, "Because I'm doing this of my own volition, there won't be any problems with you fusing with my soul bone. Under my control, the energy contained within my soul bone won't leak out. However, there's a problem with that. You'll have to withstand an enormous amount of pain. I've already thought about it, and to you, the most suitable soul bone I can give you is the spine. Due to my four hundred thousand years of cultivation, I'm confident in replacing your entire spine, your ribs, and your sternum. Due to the overly enormous amount of energy my soul bone contains, your entire skeleton will be remoulded by my soul bone. This process will be relatively long, and extremely painful. You'll feel as if all your bones are being disassembled and reconstructed. Can you withstand this amount of pain? My energy can protect your body, but it can't protect your mind. If you're unable to endure the pain and your mind collapses, everything will all be wasted."
Huo Yuhao's knowledge of soul bones wasn't lacking after his studies in Shrek Academy. Of the six soul bones, the most valuable bones were the skull and torso bone, followed by the four limb bones. What was referred to as the torso bone was in reality the spine, and not all the bones within the torso. For example, there were the ribs and the sternum, which were referred to as additional soul bones if a soul master found and fused with them. These additional soul bones had value comparable to that of a hundred thousand year soul ring, and they would give special and powerful abilities to their users.
Though the Ice Empress was only giving him a single soul bone, this soul bone was already equivalent to a torso bone and two additional soul bones! Regardless of what soul skill he obtained from her, it would possess an incomparably large amount of strength. Furthermore, hundred thousand year soul rings and soul bones would give him two soul skills each. It was no wonder the Skydream Iceworm had emphasised that as long as he was able to break through to Rank 20, he would experience a world-shaking transformation in strength!
"Ice Empress, I can endure it. No matter how painful it gets, I'll be fine." Huo Yuhao's voice was very sincere. After all, strength couldn't be obtained with mere empty promises. If one didn't give up anything in return, how could you gain a harvest? During this past year, he had cultivated with practically twice the effort of the other students. This was the reason why he had his current level of power. When such an opportunity was placed in front of Huo Yuhao, he would absolutely not cower regardless of how intense the pain would be.
The Ice Jade Empress Scorpion said, "Okay. Since that's the case, let's not waste any more time."
The Skydream Iceworm said, "Yuhao, we'll be starting your fusion with the soul bone. Take your Secret Law Soul out. We'll be using it as a medium to help you fuse with the Ice Empress' soul bone. This way, the process will go a little quicker and you'll feel much less pain. You'll even be able to prevent unnecessary leakages of energy during the fusion process."
Huo Yuhao hurriedly retrieved the Secret Law Soul from his Twenty Four Moonlit Bridges. So the Secret Law Soul was actually meant to be used in this way.
With a deep voice, the Ice Jade Empress Scorpion said, "Huo Yuhao, are you ready?"
Huo Yuhao nodded forcefully, "Start!"
The instant the word echoed out, a chilly sensation immediately blossomed in his mind. Huo Yuhao instinctively shivered, feeling as if he had fallen into a cavern of ice. This was somewhat different from how he had felt in the ice room in the Extreme North. At this moment, the chilly sensation had appeared in his soul itself, making it seem as if his mind had been frozen solid.
The Ice Empress' voice rang out, "I'll use the cold to numb your pain, so as to reduce the pain you'll feel to the very minimum. However, your body isn't fully developed yet, so I'll have to be extremely careful while fusing with your original skeleton. Because of this, this process will go on for a very long time. For the sake of attaining maximum effectiveness, you can't pass out. The only way I can make a few adjustments based off your body's instinctive reactions is if you remain conscious."
At this moment, Huo Yuhao was no longer able to respond. The Ice Empress didn't leave any ways out for herself, so there was naturally no way she could change her plan.
A jade-green light flourished in Huo Yuhao's mind, and his Spirit Eyes instantly turned jade-green accordingly. The Skydream Iceworm appeared to have gone completely silent, allowing the Ice Empress to carry out the fusion process.
Two rays of jade-green light shot out from Huo Yuhao's eyes, accurately landing on the Ice Jade Empress Scorpion's body. This, in turn, caused her 1.5 meter-long body to immediately shake violently. This was especially true for her long tail, which undulated unceasingly and violently with a jade-green halo. The diamond-like hexagonal protrusions on her body released an even more dazzling luster.