Chapter 71 Restart
The morning sun was about to rise and the darkness was going to recede.
A fierce battle that had lasted nearly five hours finally came to an end.
Light alternated with darkness.
The sharp sword intent and violent fighting desire had not completely dissipated yet on the battlefield with a radius of thousands of meters. There was yellow sand everywhere in sight, rising and falling along the gust. Large numbers of flames and sand almost merged into one, burning constantly.
The long night had just passed and the temperature in the desert should be the coldest at this moment. However, the hot temperature pervaded every corner of the battlefield, making everyone breathless.
This was the sea of death of Zhongzhou State. Located in the southern part of Beijiang Province, it was the largest desert in Zhongzhou State, a nation covering tens of millions of square kilometers.
The desert was best known for three things.
Ruins, populus euphratica and prison.
It was well known to many that deep in the sea of death lay the most mysterious and heavily guarded prison in Zhongzhou State. And there were even rumors among the folk, though few knew the exact location of the prison.
The prison codenamed Impasse and it lived up to its reputation. For the prisoners here, this was truly an impasse, without hopes, goals, and illusions. They could only suffer here day after day and stay in this boring and maddening environment until death.
There were no ordinary prisoners here.
The prisoners here were basically cold and cruel killers, vicious and wicked mercenaries, terrorists, military spies, international thieves, and traitors. Every criminal had a relatively glorious past.
Ordinary criminals were not qualified to be locked up here.
The battle that had ended took place in a sandy environment, less than two kilometers from the Impasse Prison. As the sun rose, the yellow prison gradually merged into the entire desert.
The wind rose and died away.
The yellow sand all over the sky returned to the desert once again.
On the battlefield, a young-looking man struggled to his feet and began to walk forward again.
It was a handsome and slender young man in his early twenties. He was steady and sharp and deserved the good reputation of a graceful childe.
Nonetheless, the battle that had lasted for hours had just ended, as a result, his image was a bit of a mess.
The young man’s clothes were almost in tatters and his upper body was bare with only a few pieces of cloth hanging on his body. Red blood had run all over his upper body, and even his face had a gash that was dripping blood. He was dragging a broad sword in his hand. The sword body was simple and heavy, broad and long, and entirely black. As he walked, the sword tip that pierced the yellow sand directly cut a deep gully in his path. With this alone, anyone could see the terrifying weight of the sword.
He pressed his lips together with a firm look. By this time, his long and narrow eyes still seemed to be burning with a violent fighting desire. At this point, he had thrown his cloak of modesty and tranquility. Marching forward in the endless desert with a sword in hand, he was giving off an aura of arrogance and aggressiveness.
He moved forward for 20 meters.
Then, he stopped in front of an old man sitting powerlessly on the ground. He bowed low to the latter and said softly, “Thank you for your help, Uncle Fire.”
In fact, the old man was not too old, less than sixty at best. His face was withered and his black and white hair was greasy and disorderly. He was dressed in a gray suit, loose and shabby, the standard garb of a prisoner. Now he was sitting on the ground weakly, looking embarrassed and abject.
He received the salutation of the distinguished young man in front of him with an air of calm. Then he laughed in a self-deprecating way and said, “I’m too old to fight. I’ve been out of practice over the years. If I were younger, you might not be my match.”
“Uncle Fire is worthy of the title of the first expert in the Fire-flaming Realm. I didn’t win and you didn’t lose in this battle. You fully deserve the title of the strongest Fire-flaming Realm expert.”
The young man chuckled and wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth.
Indeed, he neither lost nor won in this battle because both of them were seriously injured. Although he looked better now, he was actually decades younger than his opponent. If they fought a life-and-death battle, they would basically end up dying together at last. So it was difficult to regard this result as a victory or a failure.
The strongest Fire-flaming Realm expert…
When the young man first heard about this, he could not help feeling a little resentful. But after the battle, his opponent was still aggressive at this age. Moreover, he himself was even the underdog in the beginning. He was sincerely convinced by this kind of combat capability.
He took deep breaths and put down his heavy sword. After that, he sat opposite the old man and said earnestly, “Uncle Fire, how about returning to Beihai with me? I need your instructions on my cultivation in the future.”
Without even lifting his eyelids, the old man flatly refused the tempting offer. He said straightforwardly, “I’m fine here. Every day I dwell in a small space of two or three square meters and come out once in a while to watch the sand. I’ve been used to this life for so many years and cannot afford the high position and great wealth of the Wang family of Beihai.”
The young man opened his mouth and the looks in his eyes were complicated.
The old man was the strongest Fire-flaming Realm expert that could once and even now ignore most of the experts at the peak of this realm. It would be more appropriate to say that he had trapped himself here for 20 years rather than to say that he was locked up in Impasse Prison for such a long period.
The young man wore a wry smile and his eyes grew soft and clear as the fighting desire wore off. There was a trace of gentleness and softness about him that did not match the heavy sword beside him. He didn’t look aggressive at all.
The old man did not answer him. No one knew whether he was unwilling to or disdained to answer the question.
The young man fell silent.
He had heard of the old man in front of him a few years ago when he entered the Fire-flaming Realm. Perhaps many people had heard of him as well. After all, he was the strongest Fire-flaming Realm expert back then, and for years, he had always been the best grindstone in the eyes of some Fire-flaming Realm geniuses. But all these years, as far as the youth knew, he himself seemed to be the only one who dared to treat the old man as a grindstone.
The young man frowned slightly. He did not feel anything wrong with this address when he first heard it. But seeing the old man’s current state and thinking of the word, he suddenly felt that it was a little harsh.
How glorious was the old man’s past?
Known as the strongest Fire-flaming Realm expert, he had served as the Deputy Commander of the Capital Garrison, Deputy Minister of the Zhongzhou Ministry of Security, First Deputy Minister of the Ministry of State Security, and First Deputy Commander of the Border Praetorian Corps. He had followed two Gods of War of Zhongzhou State and was one of the sacred guards around them in both the age of Li Honghe and Li Kuangtu, with the codename Fire Man. He was more than famous in the Dark World of that era.
Now, however, he was locked up in one of the most secretive prisons in Zhongzhou State and huddled up in a small space of a few square meters where he could not even stretch himself every day.
Did he get used to it?
How could he get used to it?
The young man sighed softly. When the family of Gods of War fell, the role that Fire Man’s family played could not be considered despicable, but it could not be associated with brightness and fairness either. His inner obsession and the sore point could not be settled easily. Hence, it was reasonable for him not wanting to return to the Wang family of Beihai.
“I’m leaving now.”
Fire Man suddenly stood up as he said these words. Then he walked to the nearby Impasse Prison without looking back.
“Brother Fire, the wine is specially prepared for you. Don’t you want to have a drink?”
A soft voice sounded. It seemed that there was nothing special about it, but after the person finished saying the words, the sound reverberated in the whole field nearby and was heard clearly in all directions.
Fire Man paused and slowly looked back.
As far as the eye could see, there were only the same yellow sand and undulating dunes.
Thousands of miles away, there was a tiny figure standing up like a black dot on a sand dune.
In the twinkling of an eye, everything in front of Fire Man seemed to have disappeared, leaving only the tiny figure.
The figure took one step forward and his image instantly became clear.
He took a second step.
All the yellow sand nearby began to shake and float. A storm formed abruptly in the desert and whirled around him.
Then the third step.
The storm lulled.
And the person also appeared in front of Fire Man.
This was a man whose exact age was hard to tell for anyone. He possessed the steadiness of a man of thirty, the aging of a man of forty, and the sanguinity of a man of fifty. He chuckled and appeared beside Fire Man. Although he did all this keeping a low profile, he seemed to have become the center of the entire world inadvertently.
It was an indescribable feeling.
He didn’t need any imposing manner. He was imposing as long as he stood there!
He was giving off a powerful and majestic aura that was enough to shatter the earth. Like the coming rain and wind, the dark clouds pressing down on the city, the deafening thunder, and the deep-sea torrents, it was just unstoppable.
He was Wang Tianzong, the Sword Emperor and the No. 1 expert of the Zhongzhou State, the top expert on the world Divine List, and the patriarch of the Wang family of Beihai!
Fire Man looked at him calmly and said nothing.
Wang Tianzong raised the wine bottle in his hand and said with a smile, “Why are you in such a hurry?”
“He’s in a hurry.”
Fire Man pointed to the young man behind Wang Tianzong and said calmly.
Wang Tianzong opened the wine bottle and continued indifferently, “Every inch of the land belongs to the king. He can make a breakthrough anywhere at will.”
His words sounded gentle, but between the lines, there was tremendous confidence.
Fire Man nodded. He took the wine that Wang Tianzong handed over to him and gulped down half of the wine in the bottle in a breath.
The wine entered his stomach through the throat.
The spicy sensation was burning his heart and lungs.
Fire Man held one breath for a long time before breathing the air out. With a red face, he exclaimed, “Good wine!”
“It’s homemade. Would you like to come back with me? There’s still an abundant amount of wine in my house.”
Wang Tianzong laughed gently, eyes deep.
Fire Man shook his head. He took a look at Wang Shengxiao, the heir of the Wang family of Beihai, who was sitting on the ground meditating, and then he said insipidly, “No. He is about to break through to the Fire-flaming Realm, and there’s no need to go there either.”
“Your skills will be abandoned and wasted here.”
Wang Tianzong said in a calm tone, “In my mind, you’re still the old Fire Man who tried to enter the Invincible Realm through the Fire-flaming Realm back then. You dared to ignore the Thunder-shocking Realm and did not stick to convention. Even if you were laughed at, you would firmly follow your own path on Martial Arts. You were not the old man who is now in a mess. Brother Fire, come with me for there’s still a chance. It’s hard to say later.”
Fire Man took another gulp of wine and laughed bitterly. He pointed at his face and said, “What chance do I have now? I’m almost sixty years old. For hundreds of years, have you ever seen a man approaching the age of sixty before entering the Invincible Realm?”
“For hundreds of years, there has been no one who had attempted to go straight to the Invincible Realm from the Fire-flaming Realm and had taken the Thunder-shocking Realm as nothing. Twenty years ago, you seemed to be the only one, do you?”
Wang Tianzong’s tone remained calm.
Fire Man recognized that something was wrong. Twenty years ago, he was the only one who had attempted to skip a realm to reach the Invincible Realm. How about 20 years later?
“Say, can the road that I chose that very year be gone through? Is there anyone out there like me?”
Fire Man fell silent for quite a long time before he asked seriously. He may have a sore point with the Wang family of Beihai. However, on Martial Arts, even if he knew that he had no chance, he also wanted to listen to others’ evaluation of him and receive their recognition.
Now the world’s best master was right in front of him, so he wished he could prove that his efforts were not wasted from Wang Tianzong’s mouth.
“I don’t know.”
Wang Tianzong gave a wry smile and added, “Our paths are different. I’ve never heard of the road that you chose in those days before and even Senior Li didn’t approve of it. Without entering the Thunder-shocking Realm, who would know the real limitation of the Fire-flaming Realm? Your combat capability in those days was as good as those in the Peak of the Thunder-shocking Realm, but I guess you did not touch the threshold of entering the Invincible Realm from the Fire-flaming Realm directly. How do I know when you even don’t know?”
His eyes sparkled and he said thoughtfully, “But there’s a lunatic out there just like you. It’s an assassin who attempted to achieve a skyrocketing rise and enter the Invincible Realm directly from the Qi-controlling Realm half a year ago. However, he failed on the verge of success and nearly suffered the Qi Deviation. I don’t know about his specific condition yet at present. Brother Fire, would you like to come with me and have a look?”
To enter the Invincible Realm directly from the Qi-controlling Realm by skipping the other three realms, namely; the Ice-condensing Realm, Fire-flaming Realm, and Thunder-shocking Realm.
It was no exaggeration to say that such a figure was a madman.
Fire Man shook his head again and said flatly, “Just as what you said, it’s a different road.”
Wang Tianzong sighed gently. Looking at the resolution in Fire Man’s eyes, he gave up persuading him and said in a low voice, “Brother Fire, do you think there’s anything that Shengxiao can improve?”
Fire Man nodded after hesitating for a little while. And then he pointed to the yellow sand under his feet.
Wang Tianzong understood what he meant at once. He shook his head and said in a calm way, “The underground? There’s no need to do so. Nowadays, the Wang family of Beihai does not need this approach. Such improvements are tantamount to nitpicking, just as Invincible Manual of Map of God of War that the Li family possesses. In Li family’s prime, every God of War regarded Invincible Manual as the chicken ribs. It’s powerful, though, who is willing to practice it when he or she is not desperate? There is no need for the heir of the Wang family of Beihai to take risks now. The safer, the better. Not to mention the risk of a near-death experience or even an experience of no turning back.”
Fire Man took the last gulp and nodded. He threw the wine bottle on the ground and turned away in silence.
Watching Fire Man gradually walk away silently, Wang Tianzong said all of a sudden, “Brother Fire, don’t you need an explanation for what happened in those days? I can explain it to you.”
Without even looking back, Fire Man walked forward calmly and said indifferently, “As long as you have a clear conscience.”
Wang Tianzong’s facial muscles twitched violently and there was a bitter expression in his eyes.
“Brother Fire, do you have a clear conscience today?”
He continued, taking a deep breath.
“I’ve gone all out today. Why should I feel guilty?”
Fire Man answered with a question.
Wang Tianzong heaved a sigh of relief and replied with a nod, “Thank you.”
Fire Man didn’t throw a game while fighting with Wang Shengxiao, which proved that Wang Shengxiao had reached the perfection of the Fire-flaming Realm and he could break through to the Thunder-shocking Realm smoothly. Wang Tianzong did not want to see his son enter the unpromising Invincible Realm by skipping realms. Centuries of experience had shown that following the prescribed order was the best choice.
Fire Man walked silently back to the prison, never looking back.
Wang Shengxiao’s pleasing sound rang out behind Wang Tianzong.
Wang Tianzong looked back calmly and asked, “How’s it going?”
Wang Shengxiao did not speak but held out his hand. A bright flash of lightning flashed in his hand, and thunder was vaguely heard in the air.
Wang Tianzong squinted his eyes and added with a nod, “Let’s go. There’s one more thing to do. We’ll go to Huating after finishing doing that thing. Your younger sister has found a very nice young man with the same Wind and Thunder Veins as you do. I want to meet him.”
“The man who saved Yuetong? We should thank him sincerely.”
Wang Shengxiao smiled. His tone sounded calm and confident.
Wang Tianzong nodded his head. Once again, he took a look at the back of Fire Man, face expressionless.
He turned around and left.
“Father, where are we going now?”
The father and son gradually disappeared.
Fire Man, who never looked back, also came to the prison gate.
The prison gate was made entirely of the alloy. With the code on it, it looked extremely complicated.
The prison guard entered five passwords in a row. After the fifth door opened, a closed space appeared in front of Fire Man.
Fire Man stepped into the closed space without hesitation.
The enclosed prison had a narrow internal space. Different roads appeared in front of Fire Man one after another. The prison turned out to be a dazzling maze even though people just looked at the exits.
Fire Man walked at a slow pace after turning left.
The blood ran down his mouth along the corners, but he wiped it off with his hand. He bowed his head and walked forward with tightly pursed lips and cold eyes.
Outside the prison, he told Wang Tianzong the truth.
His conscience was clear in this battle.
But what Wang Tianzong did not know was that two years ago, the strongest Fire-flaming Realm expert in his mind, Fire Man, had already left an internal injury in another fierce battle and it had not yet healed.
At that time, Fire Man’s opponent was a 17-year-old youth, who was worth the risk of his life and everything in order to test his potential.
The battle took place outside the maze as well.
Again, there was only one bystander.
The two men battled for nearly 16 hours. Fire Man was as steady as Mount Tai all the time, while the youth broke through to the Thunder-shocking Realm from the Fire-flaming Realm at the last minute uncontrollably.
The youth won the battle.
But if they were both at the Fire-flaming Realm, the youth would lose.
For those who practiced Invincible Manual, victory and defeat would be so obvious and cruel.
Fire Man clearly remembered that he stood right in front of him with a bright smile on his face and open palms that day.
Flames and lightning continuously burst out of his body, burning and flashing.
His realm receded from the Thunder-shocking Realm, the Fire-flaming Realm, the Ice-condensing Realm, and finally to the Qi-controlling Realm.
Against a mass of light and shadow, his smile was bright and he looked resolute. However, he just said casually and calmly, “It’s just starting all over again.”
In that piece of brilliant and solitary light and shade, the strongest young genius that Fire Man had ever seen, ruined his martial arts and started again.
It was just starting all over again…
Fire Man wiped the blood on the corners of his mouth and looked amiable.