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The Dragon

The Dragon By Oct 18, 2023 7 Comments
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Previous: Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Ruizhu Ice Palace

The place where the two stood resembled a hall. Apart from the door they had entered, there were three other ice doors. All four walls were made of ice, a foot thick, with uneven surfaces. Upon closer inspection, the irregularities on the surface were actually detailed carvings of various birds, each depiction intricate and lifelike.

Despite the lack of any light source, the ice chamber was bright as day.

In the center stood a long platform, also made of ice, its surface etched with elaborate patterns. A woman lay atop the platform, adorned in robes embellished with green feathers and a gold phoenix crown. Her ink-black hair, smooth as silk, cascaded around her.

Surrounding the platform were countless human ice sculptures, all facing the woman. Standing, kneeling, their postures were varied, their expressions vivid—so lifelike they could almost be mistaken for living beings.

Gu Fuyou glanced at a nearby ice sculpture, which depicted a man. She noticed that the sculpture was so detailed it included the accessories on his waist, the ring on his hand, the patterns on his clothes, and even the eyelashes on his eyes. The intricacy was enough to send chills down one’s spine.

It was impossible not to feel that these ice sculptures were living people.

Looking back at the woman on the table, Gu Fuyou felt a surge of inexplicable fear.

The woman’s appearance could be described as “strikingly beautiful.” The corners of her eyes, tipped with a touch of red, were both alluring and seductive. Compared to Zhong Michu, her beauty was of a different kind.

In this icy chamber, her skin was as white as jade, her complexion vibrant, as if she were merely asleep.

Gu Fuyou felt a wave of unease wash over her, a prickling sensation like a dagger pressing against her heart, making it hard to breathe.

But she couldn’t pinpoint the source of this discomfort.

It was as if her mind had become sluggish since entering this place. Only belatedly did she remember they needed to leave. Turning to call out to Zhong Michu…

When she turned around, she saw Zhong Michu not far from her, suddenly collapsing to her knees.

A chill settled in Gu Fuyou’s heart, all her unease exploding at once. She rushed over in two steps to support Zhong Michu, asking, “Senior Sister Zhong, what’s wrong?”

Cold sweat formed on Zhong Michu’s forehead, turning into icy beads before it could roll down her temple. Her body trembled, and after a long moment, she said, “There’s something…”

As she spoke, cold breath escaped her mouth.

Glancing down, Gu Fuyou noticed that Zhong Michu’s legs had started to freeze. Frost was visibly spreading across her body at an alarming pace.

Gu Fuyou was alarmed. Holding the sword embryo in her hand, she swiftly stabbed it into the ground between them. Infusing it with spiritual power, the sword immediately deployed a protective barrier around them..

While the barrier was weak and its light faint, it was better than nothing.

Gu Fuyou knew they couldn’t delay. Seeing those ice sculptures made her even more frightened.

Those people had once been real, likely entering this place by mistake and triggering something that turned them into ice statues.

Zhong Michu had already been afflicted, the frost steadily creeping upwards. Soon, she too would be completely encased in ice, joining the ranks of these frozen statues.

Gu Fuyou asked, “Senior Sister Zhong, did you touch anything?”

Shivering intensely, Zhong Michu managed to grit out, “No…”

She hadn’t touched anything, yet she had been affected without realizing it.

Gu Fuyou felt a cold sweat forming on her forehead. It wasn’t the visible and terrifying enemies that scared her most but the unseen, unknown threats.

In her fear, she dared not act rashly.

Suddenly, a sharp pain shot through Gu Fuyou’s leg, as if she had touched ice and been frozen. She looked down in horror. Her left leg was also turning to ice, the frost creeping upward.

Gu Fuyou took a deep breath of cold air, forcing herself to stay calm.

She had entered with Zhong Michu. They hadn’t touched anything. Yet, Zhong Michu, with her superior cultivation, was the one who got affected first, caught completely off guard.

“It’s a formation,” Gu Fuyou said.

It was likely a restriction-type formation, which activates under specific conditions.

Zhong Michu, a Golden Core cultivator, was powerless against it. Which meant…

Zhong Michu seemed to realize this too. Frost had already covered her hands and cheeks. She said, “It’s… it’s an ancient formation. We can’t break it.”

“Gu Fuyou, if you stay, you’ll… die too. Go, now…”

All she needed to do was cross the long platform, reach the opposite side, and open the large door to escape this dangerous place.

But Zhong Michu’s legs were frozen, her spiritual energy stagnant. She could barely move, let alone escape. Gu Fuyou, however, was far less affected by the freezing. If she were alone, she might be able to make it, to race against time and escape before the frost consumed her entirely.

There were countless types of restrictive formations. Without knowing the triggering condition, Gu Fuyou had no way of knowing what kind of formation this was.
Ancient formations typically used rare treasures as their core, making them powerful and long-lasting, extremely difficult to break. Not to mention, she had no clue what kind of formation this was, making it even more impossible to devise a countermeasure.

Gu Fuyou’s mind raced, sifting through every formation record she had ever encountered. She thought so hard her head throbbed, as if on fire.

There was no clue about the type of restrictive formation. Searching for a solution was like finding a needle in a haystack.

“Gu Fuyou, go!” Zhong Michu urged.

Breaking a formation was incredibly difficult. If Gu Fuyou didn’t leave soon, she might not be able to escape either.

But Gu Fuyou seemed not to hear her, her body shivering from the cold. Only her arms felt warm. Looking down, she realized she was still holding Ah Fu.

Seeing Ah Fu’s fluffy body, Gu Fuyou’s eyes lit up.

Ah Fu was completely free of frost. The formation had no effect on it.

Why wasn’t Ah Fu affected? What was different between Ah Fu and her and Zhong Michu?

Gu Fuyou thought of two possibilities: Ah Fu was a spirit beast, different from them, and Ah Fu hadn’t opened its eyes yet.

Ah Fu was just born, hadn’t opened its eyes, and hadn’t seen anything inside.

That’s it! Ah Fu hadn’t seen anything inside!

With this realization, Gu Fuyou recalled a specific type of formation. She stared intently at the woman in the center, wishing she had countless eyes to find the formation’s core. She thought, “Where is it? Where’s the formation core?”

Suddenly, a noise beside her drew her attention. Glancing over, she saw Zhong Michu collapsing to the ground, frost spreading to the corners of her eyes. Her condition deteriorated rapidly, and her breaths grew fainter.

In desperation, Gu Fuyou quickly tucked Ah Fu into the opening of Zhong Michu’s robes, using the fabric to trap the cub’s warmth against Zhong Michu’s chest. “Senior Sister Zhong, hold on!” she cried. “I’ve found a weakness. I can break this formation. Trust me. Please hold on and don’t fall asleep!”

Growing more anxious, beads of sweat formed on Gu Fuyou’s forehead.

She once again forced herself to calm down and search for clues.

Suddenly, it hit her. Gu Fuyou’s eyes snapped towards the long platform beneath the woman, her gaze sharp as lightning.

Without hesitation, she drew the sword embryo. But as she took a step forward, she stumbled and fell. Looking down, she noticed her left leg had frozen up to the knee and her right foot was stiffening, likely beginning to freeze as well.

She picked herself up, using the sword for support, and leaped to the icy platform. Channeling her spiritual energy, she raised her sword and slashed down with all her might.

But even with all her strength, she only managed to create a small crack, and the recoil knocked her to the ground.

Gasping for breath, she knew her spiritual energy wasn’t enough.

Gritting her teeth, she pressed her hand against her shoulder, reopening the wound that had barely begun to clot. Bright red blood began to flow again.

She grabbed the sword embryo, smearing the blade with her own blood.

Cultivators refined their bodies with spiritual energy, and their breath and blood were imbued with this power.

Gu Fuyou knew her spiritual power might still be not enough. She was too weak, only at the Qi Practicing stage. If Zhong Michu were here, she could break it with one strike.

Gu Fuyou bit her lip, feeling a deep, familiar sense of helplessness.

But Zhong Michu couldn’t move and was on the brink of death.

Gu Fuyou closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. When she opened them again, they blazed with determination, not a trace of fear in sight.

If she couldn’t break the core with one strike, she’d strike twice. If that wasn’t enough, she’d strike three times. She’d keep striking until it shattered!

Gathering her strength, Gu Fuyou launched a powerful strike, shouting, “Break!”

She expected another crack, bigger than the last, but instead, the sword embryo erupted with spiritual light. When it struck the table, a web of cracks spread rapidly from the impact point.

In an instant, the entire icy platform collapsed, shattering into fist-sized ice chunks.

With one strike, she broke the formation’s core, and Gu Fuyou was so surprised she froze.

As the platform disintegrated, the woman’s body floated gently to the ground like a feather, still lying there quietly with her eyes closed.

However, Gu Fuyou’s forceful strike had splattered a few drops of her blood on the woman’s face, marring her delicate features.

But Gu Fuyou had no time to worry about that. Her eyes were fixed on a crystal-clear bead, small enough to hold in one hand, among the ice shards. Surrounded by spiritual energy, she knew this was the treasure that served as the formation’s core.

She wrapped it in the handkerchief Zhong Michu had given her earlier and put it in her chest.

Quickly, she hobbled back to Zhong Michu’s side, calling out, “Senior Sister Zhong, I’ve broken the formation. Everything is fine now. I’ll take you out of here!”

Zhong Michu had already closed her eyes, lying motionless on the ground.

Although the formation was broken, it only stopped the ice from spreading further; it didn’t immediately reverse the freezing.

Gu Fuyou called Zhong Michu’s name a couple of times and patted her. When she didn’t respond, Gu Fuyou pulled her up, letting her lean on her shoulder. Using the sword embryo for support, she dragged her towards the large door opposite, murmuring, “It’s okay now. I’ll get you out.”

As they exited through the door, they found themselves in a passageway lined with icy walls, just like before. After taking only a few stumbling steps, the door behind them slammed shut.

Looking back, Gu Fuyou saw a plaque above the door, illuminated by the light from within, with the characters “Ruizhu Palace” inscribed on it.

Gu Fuyou, her own leg frozen, half-carried Zhong Michu, leaning on the sword embryo. They stumbled along until she saw light ahead.

Her eyes brightened as she exclaimed, “Senior Sister Zhong, we’re out! We’re out!”

Gu Fuyou gently lowered Zhong Michu to the ground, propping her against the wall.

Zhong Michu remained unconscious, her eyes closed, the frost showing no signs of receding.

Gu Fuyou checked her breathing, which was barely detectable.

Her heart tightened as she lightly patted Zhong Michu’s cheeks, a bit lost, “Zhong Michu, don’t die. Hold on, please.”
Ah Fu, lying on Zhong Michu’s chest, was shivering from the intense cold radiating from her body.

Gu Fuyou looked up and noticed blood trickling from Zhong Michu’s nose and the corner of her mouth.

She gasped, instinctively reaching out to wipe it away.

But as she lifted her sleeve, she realized it was covered in grime. The journey through the passage, with its dampness, dirt, and mud, had taken its toll on her clothes.

So, she used her bare hands to wipe away the blood. It wouldn’t stop flowing, staining her entire hand red after a while.

Gu Fuyou wiped her hand clean on her own clothes and continued to clean Zhong Michu’s face. Her hands trembled with urgency, thinking, “Could the cold have damaged her internal organs…”

Eventually, the bleeding stopped, and Zhong Michu’s face was clean, with no trace of blood left.

In contrast, Gu Fuyou’s own clothes were stained with patches of red and black.

Even though the bleeding had stopped, the injury remained, and the frost didn’t dissipate.

Holding onto Zhong Michu’s wrist, Gu Fuyou tried to channel her spiritual energy into her. But with a significant gap in their cultivation levels and her own energy nearly depleted from their recent struggle, her efforts were like trying to douse a cart fire with a cup of water.

In fact, this bit of spiritual energy seemed even less effective than warmth from a fire.

An idea struck her. Grabbing the sword embryo, she slammed it against the icy ground with all her might, shattering the frozen surface. Picking up a shard the size of a bowl, she pressed it against the wound on her shoulder.

She had reopened the wound earlier, causing it to bleed profusely. If she didn’t stop the bleeding, she would collapse, and if she collapsed, they would both die here.

But with her spiritual energy dwindling, she couldn’t afford to waste any. This was the only way.

The sharp pain from the ice and the wound mixed together. Gu Fuyou fell to the ground, curling up tightly, her voice hoarse as she cried out, “Ahhhhh, it hurts! It hurts!” But her grip on the ice never wavered. Only when she felt the blood beginning to clot did she finally let go. Then, she tossed the ice chunk away.

She took off her outer robe and spread it on the ground. Gently, she lowered Zhong Michu on it. Then, she removed her inner robe and draped it over Zhong Michu, tucking her in tightly

Now in only her undergarments, she hopped outside with her frozen leg.

Upon exiting the cave, she found herself halfway up a mountain. The surrounding rocks were charred black, and looking down, the view was a blend of black and red with no other colors.

Gu Fuyou searched around the mountainside, muttering, “There should be one, I saw it.”

After a while, she finally saw a flowering tree ahead. In an area with no other vegetation within ten kilometers, there stood a single tree, its blue blossoms misty and ethereal, like a cloud of purple-blue haze.

It was a jacaranda tree. The story of this tree came to Gu Fuyou’s mind. Amidst the vast, desolate mountains, devoid of any other life, this lone tree stood, evoking a deep sense of loneliness.

The tree on this mountain was sturdy, clearly having grown for many years. She felt a pang of guilt at the thought of cutting it down.

She clasped her hands in front of the tree and whispered, “Forgive me. I’m doing this to save a life.”

With a swift move, she cut the tree in half with her sword embryo, chopped it into firewood, and carried it back to the cave.

Using the last of her spiritual energy, she drove the moisture out of the wood and lit a fire, ensuring it burned brightly.

She approached Zhong Michu, initially hesitant. After a moment, she finally dared to check her pulse. It was still weak but present.

Relieved, Gu Fuyou let out a long sigh and couldn’t help but smile.

Leaning against her sword embryo, she slumped down beside the fire, too exhausted to move any further.

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Previous: Chapter 11

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tar
tar
8 months ago

Well i wonder what effect does Gu Fuyou blood have🤔, it has already been mention twice and her sword got stronger because of that.
Also Gu Fuyou saving her waifuu 😍

Hatimo
Hatimo
22 days ago
Reply to  tar

I thought blood in general have the spirit energybor smth?

Khriss
Khriss
6 months ago

I wonder who that woman is, perhaps the villain? To have beauty to rival the FL, that is a sin. Surely they must be either a great yet fleeting ally, or the worst evil sealed away from humanity for its own sake. Probably the latter from the vibes felt by the protagonists when entering the Mountain.

adlibbed
adlibbed
4 months ago

There were several paragraphs repeated, fyi if you’d like to edit it, translator-san.

Kat
Kat
1 month ago

I feel exhausted for them just by reading. Dang, can’t catch a break 😭

Hatimo
Hatimo
22 days ago
Reply to  Kat

Right?!!!