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CHAPTER 19

FLAMES OF THE COLD CAVE

 

An entire month had passed since Lino’s deadly battle against the top forces of Endo Clan. If anyone had heard of his exploits – killing six Peak Core Realm and a Soul Realm cultivators as a mere Level 30 Cultivator – they’d certainly believe it to be a mere myth, over exaggerated tale, a propaganda of sorts. Yet, it had truly happened. But, all the same, it wasn’t without a great sacrifice on his part. Had he not been cultivating <Empyrean Writ>, he’d have died without a shadow of a doubt. Wounds he sustained simply weren’t something an ordinary human body should be able to withstand.

Even so, it took him an entire month of unconscious recovery to fill up the wounds the demonized Patriarch left on his body. <Empyrean Writ> never stopped circulating within his body, continuously replenishing his vitality and sending streams of Qi throughout his veins and nerves to heal him up. It could be said that this month was a period of the greatest weakness Lino had suffered since the day he was born. Even if he wished to wake up, he was unable to. His mind was forcibly shut down, put dormant, as though he had lost all of his own will. It was only a month later when a first thought returned to his mind… and, shortly after, came second, third, all the way until his entire mind was completely restored.

He slowly opened his eyes with great deal of trouble, as he felt the heaviness of his eyelids working against his instructions. His vision was blurred at first and he was forced to wait for nearly five minutes until he was slowly able to discern his surroundings. Before him, there was only darkness with faint edges of silver stones in the surroundings. He quickly inspected his body and was rather stunned to find it completely healed. It’s almost as though the battle a month ago hadn’t ever occurred. He had even grown stronger in the process; while he was fighting the Patriarch and the First Elder, he was Level 33, yet now he was clearly able to discern that he rose all the way to Level 38 in one fell swoop. One has to know that, for ordinary people, even rising a single Level could take years of harsh training, and even talented geniuses would find it almost impossible to rise two levels at once, let alone five. Although Lino was uncertain as to why his strength rocketed, he didn’t spend too long dwelling on it. He had gone from Early Core Realm and stepped directly into Mid Core Realm, even stabilizing his strength in the process.

However, such rise came at a rather high price; not only was his shield entirely destroyed, even [Celestial Rod] sustained great damage to its durability, and without proper repair, it was impossible to use it. All that alongside the fact that he had to recuperate for an entire month spoke of just how dangerous the situation he had found himself in was. In hindsight, Lino realized that he had been slightly mad and crazed throughout the whole ordeal. It was one thing if he was able to find the opportunity to stealthily kill Vyeala without anyone finding out, but it was entirely different thing to kill her in front of entire Endo Clan. He had realized he was too confident in his body’s abilities, as he assumed he would be able to outpace even Soul Realm cultivators by just using his body.

Still, who could blame him for thinking so? After all, there was no way he could have predicted the sudden change in the cultivators’ physique. Even now, no matter how much he thought, Lino couldn’t wrap his head around what happened. It’s almost as though the Demon which resided within Vyeala bloomed like a flower and all its petals suddenly invaded the bodies of others, transforming them.

“Oh well…” he mumbled, groaning lowly; as he slowly sat up, his entire body croaked like a rusted machine with his bones cracking one by one. After all, lying motionless for an entire month wasn’t easy even for cultivators. Lino suspected that if his body wasn’t far stronger than the average, he might have taken additional two-three days just to be able to properly move. “I can just ask Ella and Eggor when I go back.” just then, a faint sound of footsteps startled him as he immediately increased his vigilance. It was all for naught though as a familiar figure soon entered his eyesight. She was wearing two pieces of cloth that barely covered anything, and was currently carrying a bucket of water.

Her body had considerably thinned out and various scratches, bruises and wounds were visible throughout. Her hair was a mess, yet her eyes shone even more brilliantly than ever before. The moment she saw him sitting up, though, the pair of gems widened abruptly as she lost the grip on the bucket. Without even glancing at it, she raced over and threw herself at him, her arms immediately wrapping around his back. Immediately after, tears streaked down her cheeks onto Lino’s back. He hadn’t even a second to think about what just transpired when he felt two great peaks press against his chest. What’s worse, he also finally realized that he was completely naked. His youthful face immediately flushed red, but, despite his embarrassment, he didn’t have heart to push Aeala away. After all, while an entire month for him passed in a flash, she must have suffered greatly in the meantime, which is clearly visible from the state of her clothes and her body.

“I’m back.” Lino said softly as he hugged her back lightly.

“It’s good that you’re back…” Aeala said in a barely audible whisper, her voice weak. The willpower she sustained for an entire month had cracked at last; after all, this wasn’t a life she ever planned to have, let alone trained for. She was even afraid that Lino had gone comatose forever, and that he’d never wake up. Still, Lino had no leisure to remain in such position for too long as he clearly felt his blood rush out of his head downstairs.

“Khm,” he coughed awkwardly as he pushed her off softly, hiding his crotch. “Uh, where’s my necklace? I have a few spare piece of clothes there…”

“Oh!” Aeala exclaimed as she immediately went to the other side of cave and picked up the pyramid-shaped necklace. She didn’t even notice Lino’s awkward disposition as she had been staring at his naked body for an entire month, rendering all supposed awkwardness moot for her. She quickly walked over and handed the necklace over to Lino. A mere moment later, two clean robes emerged out of nowhere, one which he handed over to Aeala and the other which he himself had taken.

Just as he was about to start dressing, a mind-blowing image suddenly appeared before him; as though he wasn’t even there, Aeala removed two pieces of cloth that were covering her most important areas without a hint of embarrassment, revealing her entirely stark body to him. Lino’s eyes bulged as he stared directly at her; one had to say that, despite her age, she was truly beautiful. Even the various wounds throughout her body weren’t able to mar her beauty in the slightest. Her breasts were full and round, their tips pink and seemingly soft, while her stomach was quite narrow, revealing even a few signs of muscles after a month of living in the wild. Her hips widened, giving her entire body an hourglass figure, one inviting enough to make even the most resilient men bow down. It was only then that Aeala came to her senses as she glanced at Lino who didn’t even notice her gaze, wholly focused on her naked body.

“Oh my,” she said softly as she giggled. “If you stare so much, you’ll make even me blush.”

“…” Lino was finally woken from his stupor as he immediately looked away, his entire face crimson red.

“Well, seeing you like that,” Aeala said as even her cheeks blushed slightly, looking down at Lino’s exposed crotch. “It seems you’ve healed completely. Good.”

It was only then that Lino remembered he had yet to put on his robe and that he was also entirely naked. He immediately turned around, his head lowered while steam seemed to have seep out from his head due to embarrassment. He quickly put on the robes and turned around to see that Aeala had done the same. In the end, he was just a sixteen-year-old boy who’s yet to taste a woman. It would be impossible to ask of him to remain indifferent when such sight was displayed before him.

“… how are you feeling?” Aeala asked softly as she sat down. Even a loose robe was unable to entire hide her figure.

“… khm, I’m fine.” Lino said awkwardly, still unable to look her in the eyes. “Thanks… uh, thanks for taking care of me.”

“No,” Aeala shook her head. “Thank you for saving my life.”

“Heh, it’s more as though I drew you into a battle you should have never been a part of.”

“Nonetheless, you’ve won.” Aeala said with a warm smile. “That’s all that matters.”

“We were forced to leave early,” Lino said. “So you weren’t able to pack properly. Tell me if you need anything.”

“It doesn’t matter. What I’ve left behind, I can just as easily get back.”

“Yeah…” there was a strange, awkward atmosphere bubbling between the two as Lino was yet to look at her while talking.

“You can look, you know? I’m not naked anymore.”

“Cough…”

“Ha ha,” Aeala suddenly laughed; her laughter was full of innocence, as though she suddenly returned to her twenty-years and up surpassed youth. “You really are an oddball. While you were fighting those two, you seemed unparalleled. Yet, now, you can’t even handle an old lady like me.”

“… aren’t you ashamed of calling yourself old with that body?” Lino mumbled, but as the cave was rather narrow, his voice traveled and Aeala was able to hear his words.

“So you’ve taken a liking to it, huh?” Aeala said, smiling mischievously.

“…”

“I have no means to repay for what you’ve done for me,” Aeala said. “But, if it’s my body you want, you can have all of it, for as long as you want.”

“…” Lino suddenly looked at her, but his eyes weren’t shining with desire, but rather a form of pity. Such gaze startled Aeala as she felt her heart crack slightly. “I… I can’t imagine what you had to do to survive in that place,” Lino said softly. “But, we aren’t there anymore. You are free. Don’t sell yourself so short.”

“…” Aeala looked at him deeply, her eyes shimmering lightly as tears threatened to emerge. In the end, it was hard to remove the disposition she had been molding for a great part of her life. Mortals were nothing in Endo Clan. In the event that someone as beautiful as Aeala appeared within Mortals, they were usually enslaved immediately by one of the cultivators. If it wasn’t for her wit, Aeala would have ended up exactly like hundreds of other girls, some who were far more beautiful than her. Most of those girls either ended up dead or pregnant and abandoned. “I’m sorry.” she said, smiling lightly. “I looked down on you.” she slowly crawled over toward him until she was sitting right in front, leaning closely until he was able to sense her warm breath on his skin. “You are right. I’m not free to do whatever I want.” her lips suddenly pressed against his, startling Lino.

 

Spoiler: NSFW

 

The two lied comfortably in each other’s arms, panting heavily. Thus, Lino had lost his virginity, and much more. Thinking back to some books he’s read about cultivators, and how the goal was to discard all attachments and worldly desires, he suddenly felt that becoming a cultivator wasn’t worth it. Who in their right mind would give up something as good as this?

“… oh, right!” Aeala suddenly exclaimed softly as though she remembered something. She freed herself from Lino’s arm and got up, walking over to the corner of the cave before returning with a golden ring in her hand. “This was the only thing I’ve found on Varick’s corpse. I have no clue what it is, but maybe you’ll have better luck.” however, Lino didn’t even glance at the golden ring, as his eyes remained focused on her slightly flushed body. Under the light of dim fire at the center of the cave, droplets of sweat on her body glistened like gems, transforming her into an ethereal beauty. Lino only felt this sensation once, and even that for a brief moment, when he caught a glimpse of Ella underneath the moonlight. Remembering the girls from the village he’d seen before, he truly felt the world was unfair. “Ah, haven’t you seen enough already, you scoundrel?” Aeala chastised softly as she slapped his crotch gently, all while laughing.

“Ouch!” Lino exclaimed as he grabbed it and hid it. “It’s really sensitive now, you know!”

“Oh, I bet. I’m pretty sure that you’ve consumed half the liquids in your body by now.”

“… ah, you’re really ruthless aren’t you?” Lino rolled his eyes as he took the ring from Aeala’s hand, inspecting it. “I’m rather young to be married off, though.”

“…” it was Aeala’s time to roll her eyes. She already missed the awkward and embarrassed youth she met this morning. “So?” after Lino inspected the ring, he was actually stunned for a moment: it was a void treasure! No less, it was even slightly better than his own necklace as far as the base stats are concerned!

[Ring of Gravity – Mythic]

Level: 65

Defense: 101

Durability: 80

+20 Agility

Special effect: Insides of the ring encompass a large space of 128 cubic meters. Only inanimate objects can be stored inside.

Special effect: Activate inscribed array to increase gravity in the surrounding area. Can be increased by 2x/4x/6x. Qi Stones are required for consumption and sustainment of the array.

Note: Dual-arrayed work of wonder, the Ring is able to offer the user a convenient means of storage while also providing an amazing option of physical training.

 

This was the first time Lino encountered something like ‘+20 Agility’ or the second special effect of the ring. However, it wasn’t as though he was completely unfamiliar with the concepts; in the end, every inch of human’s body could be adjusted numerically. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, stats existed just to describe a single person in detail. Even the idea of ‘Agility’ is actually a combination of numerous other stats. Similar to how Primal Spirit of Water was able to increase the flexibility of his body, so would the ring, in addition to increasing his overall speed. Number 20 wasn’t a small amount; after all, by Lino’s estimation, his current agility was roughly 30, so the increase would give him a rather large boost. As for the second special effect, it was as though it was perfectly tailored for Lino. Gravity itself was a rather elusive force and it was quite difficult to craft an array into the equipment which would be capable of influencing it, but whoever crafted this ring was able to do it. The only thing that worried Lino were Qi Stones; he knew what they were, but he didn’t know how to find them.

He quickly erased the last of presence attached to the ring before sinking his own consciousness into it. Immediately upon seeing a scene in front of his eyes, he felt himself short of breath. Glitter! Shine! Glow! It wouldn’t be wrong to say that this was the entire treasury of the Endo Clan! This was a result of almost 20,000 years of history, and it all fell into his hands! Qi Stones? Lack of them? Lino was able to roughly spot at least 100,000 of them sitting in the corner. Rare materials? Ores? Metals? Herbs? There were literally hills and mountains of them scattered around the space in the ring. There were also numerous glittering swords, shields, armors, jewelry, coins, all sorts of things that Lino had never even seen before. He realized that his level-up was worth crap in front of what this ring represented.

“Oi, oi!” Aeala’s voice jolted him from a daydream. “What are you drooling for? What’s with the ring?”

“Ha ha ha,” Lino burst out into maniacal laughter, startling Aeala. “We’re rich! We’re so fucking rich this entire Kingdom can come and suck my dick! Ha ha ha!!”

“…”

“Khm,” Lino quickly recovered, flushing somewhat at his embarrassing outburst. “I mean, uh, we’ve hit it big. Yeah, that.”

“… right.”

“Don’t look at me like that.”

“I’m not looking at you like anything.”

“Don’t lie to me! I can see it in your eyes! You’re basically screaming ‘Why the hell did I screw this lunatic?! What if he contaminates me?!’!!!”

“Ah, I would never.” Aeala said.

“… you’re breaking my heart here!” Lino cried out.

“Ah, I’m so sorry.”

“You know, that monotone voice is kind of hot.”

“… oi, you’ve just lost your virginity! It’s too early to be dipping into the fetishes!” Aeala exclaimed.

“… khm, anyway, we’ll rest here for a day or two, and we’ll depart. Where are we anyway?”

“How would I know?”

“Didn’t you bring me here?”

“Yeah.” Aeala nodded.

“Then how could you not know where we are?”

“We are in a cave.”

“No shit!!” Lino rolled his eyes as he thought for a moment. “Ah, never mind. Considering we’re definitely still within the Umbra Mountain Range, we can just move northeast. We’ll eventually reach the Central District.”

“Good thinking.”

“Ah, I see that your tongue isn’t only suited for sucking.”

“You have no idea.”

“…….”

As per the plans, Lino and Aeala remained within the cave for the following two days. Although they planned to use them to rest properly and recover their peak conditions, by the time they departed from the cave, both seemed more exhausted than two days ago. It wasn’t hard to imagine why.

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beddedOtaku

Bio: Bad writer, worse painter, terrible singer. Accumulation of all things gone wrong. Rather proud of it, actually.

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