Chapter 1157: The Upper Hand
Elemental Domain, Icebound District.[a]
The fate-determining Internal Ranking Tournament in the Ice Pole Faction was a bloody one. Most of the disciples[b] main battle puppets had been smashed to pieces. Without the motivation and ability to continue upward, they could only use their spare battle puppets to defend their current ranking.
The Ice Pole Faction’s Internal Ranking Tournament had always been known for its cruelty. Failure would mean one had to start all over again. This was the Ice Pole Faction’s strategy. They were trying to use this method to tell their descendants the cruel reality. There were no cordial methods and no easy path. The rule here was that there were no rules. Only in this way could every qualified descendant be made sturdier than 10,000-year-old ice.
Julienne had become the prime target of many challengers because this year, she did not use the ice monster she was good at. Instead, she had replaced it with a weird-looking ice puppet made from the remains of an Earthling.
Moreover, she only had this one ice puppet!
In the eyes of her competitors, this was a rare and great opportunity. As long as they defeated Julienne once, she would lose her combat power completely in this Internal Ranking Tournament. She had no time to refine a second puppet. And if Julienne who was [c]ranked in the top 10 dropped out, it would mean more training resources allocated to them!
However, Julienne, together with Vladimir, scraped out victories, challenge after challenge. And for every victory, she managed to get a large number of Tournament points and resources from the Faction.
When Vladimir welcomed his 28th victory, all the competitors finally stopped actively challenging Julienne. They finally realized that they had been fooled! The main difference between Vladimir and an ordinary ice puppet was that he had an astonishing fighting consciousness! To put it another way, his fighting instinct was perfectly preserved by Julienne and used in the battles she commanded. This was a cunning and frightening fighting puppet. Every game seemed to be a close fight when, in fact, it was all just an act to lure them into continuing to challenge Julienne!
They had failed to see through this trick, thinking that by challenging her simultaneously without rest, they would have the opportunity to bring down Julienne, who only had one ice puppet. However, the reality was that they had been the ones brought down. All the challengers who thought they had a chance dispatched their main battle puppet, but Vladimir managed to “barely” win every time.
“Ban Luo, you almost won this time. Ai, Vladimir won by such a narrow margin again…”
“Narrow win, your head!” Ban Luo held his head with sadness. He could have ranked in the top 30 if he had played it safe, but only god knew why he had suddenly gone to challenge Julienne. It was as if he had been possessed!
Laughter echoed around him, but some in the audience were bitter-faced. Obviously, like Ban Luo, they were one of the losers who had contributed to Vladimir’s 28 consecutive victories.
“Alright. We can now be certain that Julienne did not win by just a narrow margin. What a cunning b*tch!”
“Hehe, I am finished for the year. My main battle puppet’s core has been smashed into pieces… I can only rely on my family’s support for this year. Ai, I will definitely be unable to maintain my current ranking anymore.”
At the same time, in Julienne’s personal laboratory, she was immersed in the transformation of Vladimir. “Well, the wisdom aspect is a bit beyond my expectations, but no matter what, it is a good thing.”
“Cuckoo, Cuckoo, he’s still alive, he’s still alive!” The ice bird flew over, yelling at Julienne, but its ice-blue eyes looked at Vladimir with a little fear.
“Of course my puppet is alive,” Julienne said proudly. The puppets refined by the West Aezia[d] Clan were completely different from the dead puppets of others. The West Aezia puppets possessed living characteristics, and one of the keys was the blood of the gods of the West Aezia Clan. The blood would flow like that of a living person in the puppet. It could absorb and store sources of energy, and it could even simulate cultivation, like with the living, thereby providing the puppets with the path of evolution. This was the unique secret of the West Aezia Clan, and Julienne was confident that with Vladimir as her puppet, she could go one step further.
The ice bird hovered around the ceiling while Julienne became engrossed in her research. Having 28 consecutive victories brought her a lot of usable resources. Although the Ice Pole Faction was cruel, it did not hesitate to reward the winners. She had applied for materials, enough to make more blood of the gods; many of these materials were extremely rare treasures, including a dragon heart. That would be the most critical step in seeing whether Vladimir could fulfill her dream and become the first Gold Core puppet in history!
Now, she needed to make the preparations for Vladimir’s body to be adapted for the next phase of transformation. The dragon’s heart was not something that humans could normally bear. However, she was very confident in Vladimir. This human body had unbelievable elasticity. It seemed weak on the outside, but when met with something strong, it would become strong too. She believed that as long as it was done properly…
Fresh blood suddenly spurted out of Vladimir’s body. There was no wound; the blood had just sprayed straight out from his pores.
Julienne, who did not expect such a scene, screamed at the top of her lungs. The ice bird that was playing with the ceiling was so surprised that it fell to the floor. It let out sounds of protest, “Cuckoo, cuckoo!”
“Shut up, stupid bird!”
Julienne did not bother about the blood that had drenched her whole body. She forcefully calmed herself down and realized that she had been too eager just now. To make such drastic changes to Vladimir’s body, no matter how strong his body was, it would still be unable to handle it, just like how a rubber band would still snap if it was stretched too much. Vladimir’s body was violently breaking down as it was unused to such a huge power.
Fortunately, he was already deceased, having died in the ice spring and been transformed by the extreme cold.
She rushed to the side and grabbed a blood transfusion needle filled with the blood of the gods and inserted it into Vladimir. A large amount of the blood of the gods that she had processed was injected into Vladimir’s internal circulation, but obviously, this was far less than the amount of blood lost!
She then took out the neutralizer she had prepared and pierced its needle into Vladimir’s forehead.
The blood that sprayed out of his pores had covered the whole floor, and most of the laboratory was covered with blood. She could feel the stickiness and greasiness under her feet. Her face was pale, and her eyes became bloodshot. The only good thing was that the stupid bird had calmed down. She carefully controlled the amount of neutralizer, and little by little, she pushed it into Vladimir’s brain.
The special neutralizer managed to protect Vladimir’s head first and stopped the bleeding. Julienne was greatly relieved. This was the most important part of the body, not only because the face was very handsome, but also because the brain held the combat consciousness she needed.
She was not the one who had made the plan to get the 28 consecutive victories. From the start, she had never thought of putting up an act to trick the challengers. It was all Vladimir’s plan. The puppet program buried deep in his head made him appear as if he was conscious… This was also a specialty of the West Aezia Clan. The puppets they refined were all special and perfect. This program had gathered all the battle experiences of all the puppets she refined. This was her puppet core. If she lost it, everything would be lost. As long as the core was still intact, she could always refine another powerful puppet with another set of good materials. Of course, getting 28 consecutive victories was a feat that would be difficult to accomplish again.
The neutralizer was continuously injected, carefully but not excessively. If it was too excessive, it would cause degradation of the puppet or even cause it to self-destruct.
After a long time, the lucky goddess finally came back to her side, and the bleeding was finally stopped. Julienne sat on the ground with a face full of fatigue. She did not even have the strength to care about the blood on the ground.
The ice bird interrupted her rest loudly. “Cuckoo, cuckoo. Julienne, a messenger came just now. Red challenge, red challenge!”
Julienne raised her head, and she instantly went wide-eyed. The ice bird’s mouth held a red challenge letter!
While a white challenge was from someone ranked lower than her, a red challenge was from someone of higher rank than her.
Julienne’s tired waist straightened up again. After winning 28 in a row, she had already risen to the ninth position and was fully qualified to challenge the top eight. However, she did not. They knew that Vladimir was not perfect, and one of them had decided to act first.
The challenge was scheduled for tomorrow!
Julienne turned her head and looked at Vladimir. He had become a red figure whose body was soaked in blood.
She took a deep breath. All her hard work had been devoted to him. In fact, not only did the ice bird think that he was alive, she also had such a thought. However, she knew that no matter how alive the puppet looked, it was, after all, just an empty shell. He had no soul. The wisdom displayed in the battle was nothing but the work of a program.
She took out the most important dragon heart. It looked no different from a normal heart. Vladimir, who had just recovered, was still very weak. She reached out and touched his face that was smeared with blood.
Julienne held her breath and softly spoke to him, “I know that it’s not the best time now, but it’s always like this, isn’t it? Bad things always appear before you are fully prepared. If we are lucky, this heart can make you become a real Void Core, no longer a fake one. You will become a real Void Core and may even have the potential to evolve to a higher level!”
To a Gold Core!
Her hand gently stretched forward, and her slender nails cut Vladimir’s chest open like a scalpel. Two fingers gently moved, and Vladimir’s heart was placed in a container beside her. Her other hand then replaced it with the dragon’s heart.
Julienne quickly sutured the wound and then waited. Only time would tell whether it was a success or a failure.
At this time, Julienne felt blood clotting all over her body. She looked at Vladimir, who seemed to have no rejection towards the heart. She felt more and more anxious and thus decided to clean her bloody laboratory first. She needed to do something to pass time. Such a wait was like being grilled on a fire.
Soon, Julienne put her anxious heart on cleaning. But as she was too focused on the ground, she did not see Vladimir’s eyes suddenly open, revealing a strange look in the shrinking pupils…
Only the ice bird continued shouting stupidly, “Cuckoo, cuckoo, he’s alive!”
The independent space had already been shattered, and the original dimensional coordinates that laid in the space also dissipated along with it. Finding the coordinates again would require quite some time.
Surprisingly, Ocean Empire Planet was quite calm. Wang Zhong could feel the curiosity from the Sea Emperor and the few Void Cores regarding the battle in the air previously. However, they were all smart enough to not step forward and take a closer look. Obviously, they had recognized the aura of the duo battling. It was Gelawentu and his superior. No matter what happened between the two of them, the Sea Emperor obviously did not want to nor dare to get involved.
To pretend one never saw and never participated in something that was beyond their control was something a smart person would do.
On the contrary, the Blood Demon that had remained on the planet rushed up to him. Upon seeing Gelawentu bound by Wang Zhong, his face instantly turned pale.
Wang Zhong just smiled faintly and didn’t want to pay attention to his thoughts. This Solid Core was originally the weakest of the group of Blood Demons who tried to assassinate him. Since everyone else had already died and he was left alone, Wang Zhong did not really care much about him. Regardless of whether the Blood Demon came on this trip to assassinate him or not, since he didn’t actually do anything to Wang Zhong, he didn’t need to be killed. In the divine territory, one should be cruel when one needed to be cruel, but one should always look at the circumstances and grasp what needs to be done carefully. This was the real survival philosophy.
The Blood Demon didn’t dare to do anything, not even speak. He was just hanging around in the air and shuddering, staring at Wang Zhong in fear, until Wang Zhong found the dimensional coordinates to return and contacted the great elder by the dimensional gate. He then turned his head and smiled, faintly commanding the Blood Demon, “Do not forget your duty. Watch the Sea Emperor.”
“…” The Blood Demon felt like he was going crazy, almost unable to breathe. He did not know whether he should respond to Wang Zhong or not. Since the Earthling had already fought with Gelawentu and the others, he should already know of the whole plan, yet he still made me stay here… What is he trying to do? He seemed to be completely ignoring me. No, no, more than just ignoring me, he seemed to be ignoring the entire Blood Demon Race!
Internal Gates of Heavenly Gates
The face of Gelawentu, who only had the upper half of his body left, looked ash-grey. With the strong vitality of someone with a Solid Core, this type of injury would not cost him his life. If he could get back the lower half of his body, the Fire Demon Race could even help him recover fully, but the problem now did not lie with whether he could recover or not…
Standing in front of him was the person he was most afraid of facing and did not want to meet, the Superintendent of Heavenly Gates, Erza. Next to Erza, Wang Zhong reported everything that happened during the trip, including the conversation between him and Gelawentu. This guy had recorded the entire conversation…! At this moment, Wang Zhong really wanted to thank Flying Pig. Yes, this thing was prepared by him. No wonder the Babi Family could remain strong for so long. He definitely had some tricks up his sleeve.
“This matter concerns too many things. This student here thinks it’s unsuitable for the matter to be handed to the Internal Gates to be dealt with and thus brought him here to you, Superintendent,” Wang Zhong said respectfully.
A gleam of admiration flashed across Erza’s eyes.
The Heavenly Shell Race obviously didn’t know of this matter beforehand. The Celestial Honors Mission had always been managed by the Fire Demon Race. It was difficult for the Fire Demon Race to set a trap for Wang Zhong behind the backs of the Heavenly Shell Race. Yet, who knew that Wang Zhong managed to reverse the outcome and even brought Gelawentu back alive…
Of course, what Erza really appreciated was not the strength that Wang Zhong showed when facing the few Solid Cores. She had known roughly how strong Wang Zhong was, and for someone who was qualified to enter the Celestial Honors Class, it should not have been a difficult-to-accomplish feat.
What was commendable was Wang Zhong’s way of handling the aftermath.
He did not directly kill Gelawentu to vent his anger, which proved that he was calm and had the potential to do great things. Not handing Gelawentu directly to the Internal Gates proved that his mind was quite clear and that his judgment and instincts were quite good. Since such trouble originated from the Fire Demon Race, if he were to hand Gelawentu back to the Internal Gates, it was equivalent to returning the person directly to his own family. There would be no follow-up at all; he might even be bitten in the back. Choosing to hand the matter over to the Heavenly Shell Race not only showed that Wang Zhong had a good overall understanding of the situation between the Heavenly Shell Race and the Fire Demon Race, but it also represented Wang Zhong’s trust and goodwill towards the Heavenly Shell Race.
Undoubtedly, whoever held Gelawentu held the initiative in the negotiation over this matter. The Fire Demon Race might not care about the life and death of a Solid Core, but they would be seen to have lost their morality and broken the rules. It would be impossible to resolve the matter without heavy losses. For Wang Zhong himself, this would get him a good explanation, but for the Heavenly Shell Race, it would be a benefit that the opponent had given to them for free.
This guy was indeed a talent. No matter in cultivation or his way of handling matters, the Heavenly Shell Race’s investment in him seemed to be a good one for now.
“Okay.” Erza smiled and nodded with an appreciative look. “Just leave him to me. The Heavenly Gates will definitely give you a reasonable explanation.”
“Thank you, Superintendent.”
“Hehe, you can go now.” Erza waved her hand, and a glimmer of light flashed in her eyes. “Be careful of the Fire Demons. They are in the wrong for this matter, and while it might be impossible to assassinate you in the Heavenly Gates, you should still be careful of all kinds of traps they might set for you. Don’t be provoked under any circumstances. Remember, you have yet to fully reach your potential. The current you is still not yet qualified to openly provoke the dignity of a level-8 civilization.”
[a]Hi, Wei. Actually, I strongly recommend you do the TLC with Version History on, at least for a few times, just to see what types of errors you tend to make. 😛
[b]BTW, make sure you use straight quotes (not angled ones)(‘ vs ‘). There should be a setting in GoogleDocs under Tools -> Preferences -> then uncheck “Use smart quotes”. I’ve already changed all the ones that I noticed in this chapter, so there’s nothing else for you to do.
[c]u sometimes wind up using the present tense when you should be using the past tense.
[d]We try to avoid names that too obviously refer to things on Earth since we’re in a wholly alien place (the divine territory) now.
[e]the # of ellipses I put depends on how far away the two scenes are. in a great distance/another word, I put three ellipses.
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