Fighting to be Kind in a Cultivation World - Chapter 201
Even as my head is still regenerating, the slight feeling of consciousness (without having a head) from before provides some benefits.
For the briefest second, I can sense what’s going on without my head having regenerated.
Before me is a panting man, weakened by poison and exhaustion, who is facing off against 12 spirit beasts with cultivation. All around him lay 13 others that he had already killed.
All of the swarm creatures have already been annihilated.
In the initial assault, they had taken point and tried to attack outright. Succeeding in some respects, but failing in many others. The 13 creatures are the ones that assisted in pulling his attention away from me and covering me at the same time.
Deep burns from his light-based abilities scar their body, in addition to corroding portions that are from his demonic cultivation technique.
Almost immediately, I heal and try to save as many as I can, but I’m only able to help one from the downed thirteen that’s on the cusp of death. It’s already been too long since the others have passed.
It also appears the others have learned from the initial assault; they’re sneaking in and out of the surrounding greenery while covering each other. Despite that, they still don’t fully trust each other and aren’t working in full coordination.
It looks like they were able to do enough to distract him, but did not make any headway past that.
It looks like that’s going to be my job to bring them together and finish this fight.
As my head finally fully regenerated, Ao Jin’s face turns toward me with a scowl. It appears he doesn’t have the energy to even make a statement.
He throws a light at my location, obviously attempting to cut off my head again.
With me now conscious, I immediately direct one of the tamed creatures, a fast-moving bird of some kind, to move in the path of the Decapitating blow. I promised the creature that I will immediately heal it, so that way it won’t die like the others.
Ao Jin’s eyes automatically widen and he throws another light back at me… realizing the danger if I’m fully conscious again.
One of the other creatures, a large and fast striking snake beast, takes the opportunity to attack a specific place. The location of the Talisman holding me in place.
Instantly, I heal all these creatures that have been assisting me to full, granting them a massive boost in energy and health. The two creatures in question already move the slightest bit quicker from this.
Of course, I’ve been using my scan to plan this all out.
If this doesn’t work, then I won’t even be able to join the fight, which will make us all surviving much less likely to succeed. And after all the pain I put him through, he will not let me have an easy death, let alone life.
The snake continues in his blind spot while he focuses on me, and just as he notices it, the snake breaks away. Naturally, his eyes follow closely on this emerging threat, but hidden from underneath it was a tiny, but strong praying mantis. Zipping stealthily close, it lands a strike on the Talisman in the bag.
A burning line appears in the middle of it, as the bottom half burns away and the hold on my body fades away.
Immediately, I regenerate my arms and legs, diving away from the inevitable attack that came my way. Of course, the mantis got away as well, because he viewed me as the greater threat.
Covered in sweat, he watches us with hatred as we circle around him.
He’s tired, poisoned, and weakened from the constant attacks.
My scan takes stock of my living allies.
I have 3 birds, 3 giant centipedes, 2 moles, 2 butterflies, 1 snake, and 1 turtle (that I saved earlier). And of course, the praying mantis.
There were beetles and tarantulas, but they didn’t make it. There were other creatures of the same species that didn’t survive the initial confrontation as well.
All the creatures that accepted did so because this was the best option for them to progress… as the options they normally had were too bleak.
It’s honestly a miracle that they pushed him this far. Normally, a mid-foundation establishment would wipe the floor with them, but I truly wore him down with the swarm tactics requiring him to use all of his Qi and pushing his body to the limits to survive. He’s running below empty, right now.
It also is simply a bad matchup for him, as his abilities are meant for immense single target damage. He can still sweep the light through groups, but it’s like swatting an electric baton through a swarm. Still Effective, but against higher amounts, a losing battle. Now, he’s weak to single targets since he can’t use his abilities as effectively.
Long live Z… swarm tactics.
…I’m not looking forward to when cultivators can literally wave a hand and make groups of enemies disappear. That will make survival tougher for me.
In the middle of my thought, he surges forward towards me, still viewing me as the greatest threat. My combat scan moves into overtime and because he’s much slower than he was when I first fought him, I’m able to slightly dodge his attacks.
It’s not enough.
He reaches towards me.
I can feel some of my hair rip away as he grasps overhead, when I duck underneath. He follows up immediately with this strike towards my center.
I won’t be able to avoid it.
However, my allies aren’t sitting still, and neither am I. I’m also using my scan to coordinate our movements.
A blow from his right side knocks him to the side and just barely missing my body.
I can feel the rush of air and pulpy liquid on my face as an automatic retaliation occurs, knocking the centipede that had attacked into the air. Its head popped open.
Instantaneously, its head reforms, similar to mine.
The feeling in the air changes, with my allies feeling hope, in contrast to the despair from the contract they had initially accepted. If they can be healed in such a way, then they can take many more risks and possibly take him down. There’s a chance of success.
On the other side, Ao Jin’s eyes widen and his grim face darkens further. He now knows that I don’t have to lay my hands on creatures to heal them now. Nor take the amount of time it took me before.
It’s not just me that I can regenerate.
We don’t give him any time to breathe, as the other creatures dart in and out, taking swipes at his legs, arms, and other extremities in exchange for would-be Lethal blows.
For a tiny bit of blood from him, each of them endures amazing amounts of pain. But what they gain in return is even better, as healing makes them even stronger than before, as they strain themselves.
We could only inflict cuts because he is a middle foundation establishment cultivator, impervious to blades and spears, and able to resist most forms of damage from cultivators weaker than him. It is only because they are spirit beasts with naturally higher abilities and have specialized skills when they attacked that they’re even able to draw blood from him. Even if it is the size of a paper cut.
For his part, Ao Jin has tried several strategies to break the flow of battle.
Grapples, retreats, and even blind rushes. No matter what he tried, we would attack his weak point with numbers and my scan pinpointing them out.
We made him pay for every strategy.
But every man has a point where the risks no longer matter to them.
In this stripped and scarred jungle battlefield, my eyes subconsciously meet his, and I can see something has changed in them.
It reminds me of the look that other demonic cultivator in my soul space had.
He’s going to be using his hidden cards now.
His hand reaches towards his belt, something we’ve been trying to attack and expose, but he’s been protecting well.
One of the moles darts forward, and just as I warn it to stop, it practically disappears in a flash of smoke.
Held frantically with a crazed grin in his hands are numerous talismans. One of which burns away, but I can see is a fireball talisman, similar to the one I previously had.
My scan alerts me to dive to the side, and as I do so, I suddenly lose a leg. However, my leg was practically flattened into the ground. Considering my body’s resistance to pressure from the spiritual pressure trial I went through earlier; that Talisman he used could take out at least a low core formation expert.
There was almost no warning regarding that attack, and only the use of my scan could detect that he was targeting me. If not for that, it would have taken me a much longer time to regenerate from such a thing, as I would just be paste on the ground.
A look of severe irritation is on his face, but he continues to pull out Talisman after Talisman, like candy. Explosions and elemental attacks emerge from him continuously and aimed in every direction.
It’s honestly unfair.
It feels like I’m fighting a player character in a video game, with the amount of bullshit he’s throwing out!
He seems to get weaker and weaker with every Talisman he uses, as it appears there is some kind of ability that he’s using to duplicate them.
Nonetheless, it’s working for him, as he’s pushed us all back, forcing us to retreat and for me to slow down my healing. To keep everyone alive, I also have to spread it out between all the creatures. Creatures like the mole, I regenerated, but all the rest I have instructed to avoid his attacks and try to wait him out.
Easier said than done.
I made a mistake in my assumptions, though. He still has more cards to show.
Just as he sees that we’ve gained distance from him, he reaches even deeper into that pouch of his, pulling out a scroll that’s far too large to fit in there. Slamming it on the ground, his pouch burns away and he tosses all the surrounding talismans in a circle.
I can feel my eyes narrow as the hairs on my back rise.
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Whatever he’s about to do, it’s big.
Acknowledging my fears, he looks up and gives a cold laugh.
Suddenly, light streams out from the circle around him and up into the air. Even in this darkness of a jungle, massive wisps of darkness interplay with the light, like a corroding influence. Creating an arrow pointing towards our locations.
This is where our hell begins.
He visibly ages, as light pours out of the circle and soars to each of our locations, targeting us directly. Anywhere the light touches, a large incision is made, and it takes everything I have to avoid it. Darting between trees and running away from that area.
All the creatures have already been taken down, even the turtle which had a strong enough shell to withstand blows from him normally.
My healing is just barely able to keep them alive, as the lights change to focus on me, heading to my location. He already knows that as long as I live, I can continuously bring more creatures to his location. Heal any that stay. I’m a danger in more ways than one.
And there’s no hope for me here.
I can only make it a half step before it shreds a piece of my skin. Another step and a combat dodge only allows me to avoid losing my whole arm while sacrificing a hand.
As the light approaches my head with no other way to dodge with its speed, my scan alerts me to something that was creeping behind Ao Jin this whole time.
Someone I had honestly forgotten about in the fire of the battle.
Unseen and hidden to the eye and senses of a normal cultivator, it crept perilously slowly. Just as before, Ao Jin appears to not be able to see its camouflaged body. In the exact instant I would have been pierced by shards of light, it leapt.
Taking a bite around Ao Jin’s head and puncturing his eye.
Immediately, the light dissipates, and I rushed towards his location. As expected, the Panther is swatted away and similar to the snake from before; he smashed its body into an unrecognizable shape.
Of course, I began healing it immediately to save it the best I can.
On Ao Jin’s side, he is crying out in pain as the poison that was laid over his body from earlier seeped into his eye from the puncture.
Our goal was to wear him down with cuts over time and this strategy, but this made a more direct impact.
The Panther is out of the fight, but scored a hit. That is enough for me to put in place a plan that I was really hoping not to ever do.
My body surges towards him, just as he regains his faculties.
His mouth wide open, I move my hand as close to his face as possible… and stick my fingers in.
Almost immediately, he chomps down on instinct, my fingers now bitten off and me pulling back.
But I don’t stop there.
I direct all my healing at the dismembered fingers, willing them to grow back into an arm within his mouth as it goes down his throat. It resists, but as I pour more and more of my healing towards it, it grows and grows.
It is at this moment that he realized that he’d fucked up.
Somehow, I still manage the slightest bit of control over it. And the last command I sent to it was to grab something and not let go.
He immediately begins choking as his throat pathway is completely blocked and actively being obstructed. Desperately, he claws at his throat and then his mouth to reach inside to pull it out.
But, with every grasp and crushing of the bone that sticks out, he only rips out part of the regenerating pieces of bone, tissue, and meat. With deeper attempts, only making things worse.
For 30 seconds this happens, and then he turns his eyes, full of fury and fear on me, as he realized he’s doomed.
That’s when I realized I didn’t think this part out.
The next five minutes are the most hellish I’ve ever experienced as Ao Jin ripped every piece of my body apart, smashing it into a pulp with his hands. Taking petty vengeance on even the most sensitive parts of my body, as he abandoned living and only focused on killing me and causing me suffering.
As I desperately attempted to regenerate both my arm and my body, I’m forced to abandon the healing of my allies just to sustain this.
It is only because my body’s natural inclination is to heal itself, that I’m able to sustain this even past losing consciousness, brain, and nervous system. In some ways, the vestiges of consciousness that remain despite me losing my head and body earlier truly played its worth here.
And then it was done.
I could feel my consciousness fully reemerge after sometime, with the first thing that comes into sight, is the stilled, bulging eyes and purple face of Ao Jin. Focused with the rage only a despairing, vengeful father could summon.
Revealing his ultimate fate.
It’s finally over.