Chapter 33: Regaining a Secret Art

It was late into the quiet night and the tent was dark and disconnected from the chill outside. Zhen Jin was lying on a mat of hay and dried leaves with a thin quilt over him. He and Zi Di used to eat and sleep in the open, but now their circumstances had become cozy and warm. 

The feeling of weakness from drinking the potion still lingered in him, but neither the cozy sleeping environment nor his exhausted body was enough to make Zhen Jin fall asleep. The youth’s eyes were wide open, and his brows were furrowed as he pondered over the feeling of emptiness. I am not mistaken. This is almost the same feeling! Zhen Jin was very certain by now.

When he fought the blade-legged spiders, he lacked a dagger to cut himself free from the spider’s webs, which left him in peril. However, at that most mortal moment, his hands transformed into sharp claws. Therewith, Zhen Jin counterattacked and killed the spider. His hands then turned back to normal and an indescribable emptiness came from deep within his body.

What he felt now could not be distinguished from then. The theory behind the potion was to condense the ice-type magic power in the body and expel it. Therefore, this emptiness should be from the sudden drain of a large amount of magic power. Zhen Jin placed great importance on this discovery because the transformation ability held enormous value.

In his current situation, Zhen Jin could not use his battle qi, leaving him unable to display his true strength. If he were in desperate straits once more, and he could change his hands into sharp claws, it would no doubt be a strong trump card. Could it be that when Zi Di treated me, she unintentionally made a transformation potion? And that was how I gained the monkey bear transformation?

A transformation potion made by a grandmaster pharmacist could even temporarily transform a human into a great dragon. In the last century, transformation potions had become popular in the high society of the human race. 

The key figure behind it was the Duchess Ai Mei. Not only was the duchess powerful, but she also had great influence and was very fond of womanly charm and beauty. She had researched and developed thousands of transformation potions, but different from the mentality of previous grandmasters, the vast majority of potions made by her were very simple and their effects were minor. Such as changing skin or hair color, straightening the nose bridge, enlarging the eyes, or similar cosmetic effects. Ai Mei’s potions were now a household name and bestseller in the Sheng Ming Empire and this business had also become the largest source of earnings for the duchess. 

Zhen Jin carefully recalled his memories. He charged to his death and killed the monkey bear, and in the process, he was seriously injured to the point of death, going in and out of dim consciousness. Yet he remembered one moment in clarity—that when Zi Di transfused the bear’s blood into him. According to Zi Di's later explanation, she was desperate and had no choice but to make a risky attempt. It was fortunate that she succeeded.

The bear blood should have contained a lot of magic power, similar to when I ate the goat meat. This magic power was then lying lurking until my transformation consumed a part of it, which led me to feel that great emptiness. Naturally, there is another possibility—battle qi. That’s a more complicated matter. 

Perhaps aroused by my fatal crisis, I instinctively stimulated my potential and used battle qi. The upper limit of the island’s magic and battle qi restriction has not been measured. Perhaps I am a Gold cultivator and might have temporarily broken through the restriction and used my Gold battle qi. But Gold battle qi is not the key element. That being, in that dark peril, my bloodline also awakened!

When a bloodline awakened, one’s appearance would change. A knight with the dragon bloodline would grow dragon scales on their skin. A warlock with the hydra bloodline would have their circular human pupils transformed into vertical snake pupils. The Marquess Jin Mang Ke of the Sheng Ming Empire was a powerful Saint. In recent years, he had been very active on the battlefield and had a loud reputation. Whenever he fought a bloody battle, his battle qi would be stimulated and his bloodline would awaken. It would cause golden levin to arc all over him, turn his black hair golden, and cause his hair to expand and clump into a shock of hair like swollen muscles.

Bloodline awakening was not common. Even amongst the mighty, only a fraction of them would have it. This was because one’s bloodline needed to reach a high concentration to have a possibility of awakening it. 

If I am a Gold cultivator, based on my age, I must have outstanding talent. This kind of talent also means I possess a fairly concentrated bloodline so it is not strange for bloodline awakening to happen to me! But the source of my bloodline should be the golden queen bee. After my bloodline awakens, I should have the characteristics of a queen bee. So why did I have a pair of claws? Perhaps I have other bloodlines? 

Such things could not be ascertained. Human nobles often had a scandalous private life, leading to the mixing of bloodlines, and some bloodlines would forever lay dormant if they were not stimulated withal. 

Under the stimulus of death, I released my Gold battle qi and awakened some mysterious bloodline, turning my hands into sharp claws. However, why were they the same claws as the monkey bear’s claws? Is it only a coincidence? 

Therefore, after he considered all possible factors and possibilities, he felt that the transformation potion scenario was the most likely. There was a possibility of bloodline awakening, but it was comparatively small. But this brought on whole new questions. 

Is there still some magic power of the monkey bear lingering? If so, is this magic power having a corrosive effect on me? 

The consequences of magic corrosion were grave. Different bloodlines could not coexist peacefully. If a human noble had two bloodlines, one would be high-level while the other would be low-level, a stronger and a weaker. When they started cultivation, the high-level bloodline would go from strength to strength until it finally expelled the inferior bloodline from the body.  

If both bloodlines were high-level and stubborn, it would be more troublesome. One must cultivate a specific battle qi art that balances the two bloodlines. The balance could be in having one as a primary and the other as a secondary, and it was also possible for both bloodlines to maintain equal strength. However, if the balance was broken, a violent conflict would form between the bloodlines and the Practitioner would be heavily injured or even die. Bloodlines determined aptitude and aptitude was the key to grasping strength in the future.  

The human race’s pursuit of bloodlines had always been crazy and obsessive. Nobles would think of every possible method to intermarry with stronger bloodlines. Many nobles were connected by marriage and their private lives were a confusing mess not only because of lust but also from the obsession to create offspring with outstanding aptitude. 

Among all the races, humans were experts at reproduction, being better at it than elves and dwarves. However, those born with outstanding talent were always a minority. Furthermore, the more powerful an individual was, the more difficult it was for them to reproduce, and the price of giving birth was also extremely high.  

In addition to offspring, humans also used other dishonest methods. Such as using magic, concocting potions, constructing habitats, making deals with demons, and so on, all to forcefully implant high-level bloodlines into their bodies. Implanting high-level bloodlines was not impossible, and there were even many methods that could temporarily succeed. But all outcomes were usually tragic. 

Firstly were mutations, where the human body would produce horrifying aberrations. These deformities were not limited to the physical body and could also affect the mind. Many cases had symptoms such as insanity, ravings, confusion, dementia, and other mental illnesses. Secondly, the lifeform’s original stability would be completely smashed and its lifespan would be severely reduced, leading to a short existence. Lastly, there was the withering of the soul. 

Zhen Jin had never heard of a case where someone was completely successful in obtaining a bloodline through external force. This was why bloodlines were so rare and precious. Higher-level bloodlines produced outstanding aptitudes, and outstanding aptitudes over time would form formidable strength. And strength meant power. This was the reason why human nobles were nobles and why they could place themselves over the majority of their kind. It stemmed from their solid foundations—bloodlines were the cornerstone and pride of the nobility!

Zi Di treated me and unintentionally made a transformation potion and this could let me transform my hands into the claws of a beast. This means that external force was used to mix the monkey bear bloodline into me. This inferior bloodline will have a bad contaminating influence on my noble bloodline. If this influence is great, my cultivation aptitude will fall. 

Transformation potions could not be abused, the consequences for doing so were serious and costly. 

Regardless of whether I have Silver or Gold cultivation, I am still young with a long future ahead. This is only my starting point and by no means my end. If this transformation potion dims my prospects, then it is not worth it. 

Bronze, Iron, Silver, and Gold. Beyond them, there was Saint and Legend. And beyond them, there lay that which is even greater! Who would not want to become a Saint, a Legend, and still greater? Zhen Jin did not want to see his growth obstructed by this monkey bear blood, reducing his potential and hope and turning his radiant prospects wan.  

Since the emptiness came from an enormous consumption of magic power, does that mean the monkey bear’s magic power can be considered as depleted? When my hands transformed before, did it use up all the corresponding magic power? Is there any leftover magic power inside my body? Since then, regardless of my attempts, my arms were incapable of transforming. Does this prove that the magic power is gone?

Including this latest occurrence, when I drank the potion, the foreign magic power within my body was vomited out. Was Zi Di’s potion effective on the monkey bear’s magic power too? Maybe I should reveal everything and ask her to create a specialized emetic potion for me?   

Zhen Jin’s thoughts were many, but being in as poor health as he was, he soon fell asleep.  


Where am I? Am I dreaming? 

Before he knew it, he found himself in an open field. In front of him was a long wooden table with a bow and a cluster of arrows on it. One hundred meters away, there stood three targets. The wooden table was crude and rough. The targets were sacks of hay in a human figure with a white cloth over the head, and on it were several concentric circles with the center smeared with a red fuel.

This was an archery range and there were only two people here. One was Zhen Jin, and the other was a middle-aged man. The man’s posture was straight, he had a thin mustache divided in the middle, and his slightly upturned face carried on it the touch of aristocratic arrogance. Zhen Jin recognized this middle-aged man. This was his father and the current head of the Bai Zhen family. Because of his incomplete memory, Zhen Jin lacked any emotions towards the man, however, the memories he did recall let him learn of the close relationship between them.  

“Lord Father, I have obeyed your summons,” Zhen Jin found himself saying. 

The Bai Zhen family head nodded. “It has been a few days since you returned from the Imperial Capital. I have come to check whether you have been training hard or not there. This time we will compare skills in archery. If you can win, I will bestow you a swift bee.”  

On hearing this, Zhen Jin’s eyes immediately brightened. Swift bees were a flying mount. Although it could only fly three meters off the ground, it was still expensive with few circulating in the market. The number of nobles in the Empire that had the know-how to breed swift bees were few. The Bai Zhen House was one of them. 

After a moment, Zhen Jin heard himself speak in a sad and hesitant tone, “But Lord Father, your arm…“ Zhen Jin immediately understood: This should have taken place not long after the Bai Zhen family head and Qing Kui dueled.  He had more than relevant memories about this. He knew his father had formidable strength, however, because he was negligent in his battle against Qing Kui, his arm was severed. Indeed, how could he use a bow with one arm? 

The Bai Zhen family head, however, showed no care. "It's okay. You shoot first."

Zhen Jin then picked up his longbow, skillfully nocked an arrow, and with a whoosh, hit a target in the head. Perhaps because of Zhen Jin’s gloominess, he did not hit the red bullseye. Zhen Jin put the longbow back on the table. 

It was the family head’s turn. He smiled faintly as he undid a button on his shirt, which revealed a hidden pocket on the inside. The hidden pocket had fine and detailed needlework and there were also ten long needles arranged inside it. The needles were all of the same length, about as long as an adult index finger. They seemed crystalline but with a faint cloudy white color instead of being transparent.

“Take a good look, my son.” The one armed man used his index and middle finger to grasp one of the white crystal needles. He then activated his Gold battle qi and imbued the crystal needle with it, and immediately, it shone with a bright golden luster. The Bai Zhen Clan patriarch faced the target and lightly flicked his fingers. 

Whizz! A piercing whistling resounded in Zhen Jin’s ears. At the same time, he saw the golden needle streak across the air, leaving behind it a ray of light. The ray of light flew straight into the center of the target, and soon after, with a loud bang, the entire target exploded. 

“This is‽” Zhen Jin was shook, with his mouth hanging open. 

The Bai Zhen family head smiled and explained, “There are many kinds of battle qi arts. Among them are those that cannot be easily revealed to others, and they are known as secret arts. What you saw now is the secret art our Bai Zhen House has handed down through the generations—the Needle Point Explosion. Do you want to learn it?”    

“I want to learn it! I ask Lord Father to teach me,” said Zhen Jin loudly, his spirit visibly roused and his previous devastation and gloom swept away. The Bai Zhen family head proceeded to impart his teachings and then put a crystal needle into Zhen Jin’s hand. Zhen Jin made use of this opportunity and observed it, and thought, This crystal needle is not ordinary. It is, at the least, a Gold apparatus! After that, Zhen Jin found himself essaying the art several times, but he had no success. 

“You have grasped the fundamentals and your process of using the art had no mistakes. The reason why you didn’t succeed is not strange,” said the middle-aged nobleman. “The reason you fail lies in you not having enough battle qi. To use the Needle Point Explosion secret art, you need to consume a great amount of battle qi. Even with Gold cultivation, one can only use ten needles in a row. Based on your current battle qi reserves, you should barely be able to imbue and throw one needle.”

Zhen Jin smiled bitterly. “Lord Father, if that is the case, is it not dangerous for me to use this secret art?” Using up all the battle qi one had to barely drive one needle. If he faced an enemy and missed the target with the needle, then without battle qi, Zhen Jin would be in a very difficult situation. 

The Bai Zhen family head’s smile thinned and his face turned severe. He stared at Zhen Jin and said with deep emotion, “My son, the world is pitiless. Whether in a battle or elsewhere, you will always find yourself at the heart of peril. Oftentimes, you will find that using all your strength for that one shot is the wisest choice. That desolation after using up your battle qi is hard to bear and painful, but you just have to do it. Do not fear danger and nor fear sacrifice!”