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So What If You've Been Reborn? Chapter 12

So What If You've Been Reborn? - LightNovelOnl.com

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-About names:

New location: Redwinds Desert (original: 赤风沙漠). New ability: All-Destroying Essence (original: 涅毁元功).

C12. Sealing

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The well-established clans and families liked to collect all sorts of curiously shaped stones and uncommon plants to decorate their courts and yards. Even the pebbles set down by the garden paths and ponds had to be smooth and round, with a sufficiently full oval shape and a pleasing shape; the colour could not be too ugly, either.

Artificial hills and curiously shaped stones were mostly mined from deep within the mountains, and the pebbles were taken from next to streams in the mountains. No one knew where the Stone-borne Flame came from, and so it was sent to the Chen household just like that. Had its luck been poor, it would have been laid down among the shrubs, subjected to the fate of being stepped on by anyone who passed by.

Now, after Shi Feng passed through the thick smoke and fires and arrived at the backyard of the Chen residence, the place had been completely disfigured.

The soil was burned and blackened. It had become so parched that the surface was full of cracks.

Smoke and dust hung in the air of the ruins, making it impossible to tell where the rooms had once been and which areas had been the gazebos and pavilions. The fire continued to spread, leaving nothing in the areas that had been destroyed.

From the outside, it appeared that the enormous column of flame had enveloped the entire Chen family residence. Flames were everywhere. Owing to the large scale of the Chen family and its business, even the worldly fires were lit; flints, firewood, oils and fats, and candles all caught fire, sending flames up everywhere. It was not an easy task to find where the Stone-borne Flame had truly been hidden.

Shi Feng suddenly stopped, pinching up the burning hot dust with his hand, and something glinted within.

Brushing the ashes apart, he found that it was a badly damaged gold hairpin, so misshapen that one could not tell its original form.

True Samadhi Fires could burn down many things in the world, including gold. Fire would always burn until there was nothing left before they shifted. The Chen residence's backyard appeared to have been turned into nothing more than burned ground, but in fact, there were still some remains left unburnt beneath the thick ashes. This was clearly abnormal.

Shi Feng's heart grew cold.

It knew to hide, to avoid remaining too long in the place where it had first manifested, all to avoid being discovered—this Stone-borne Flame did not just possess a spiritual sense; there was a high possibility that it had activated its spiritual sense, and it could even be only a step away from assuming a corporeal form.

Natural treasures of this level would already be able to cultivate, pass tribulations, and ascend to the heavens on their own, so of course they were unwilling to coexist with cultivators.

Chen He was in danger!

Shi Feng quickly left the backyard, skimming by the burning houses and their chambers; he carefully discerned where the Stone-borne Flame could be, at the same time searching for Chen He's whereabouts.

The jade orbs that his junior brother carried on him daily were all personally handcrafted by Shi Feng. The talismans carved in zhuan[1] script could let Shi Feng sense where the jade orbs were.

It was at this moment that the ground suddenly shook.

An aura of tyrannical, powerful spiritual energy, more conspicuous than lights in a dark night—the Stone-borne Flame had manifested.

What else could let a Stone-borne Flame with a spiritual sense expose its hiding place on its own?!

The answer could only be that it had found its target! Chen He!

Realising that he was one step behind, Shi Feng felt anguish.

This anguish became even stronger after he reached that yard.

The raging flames weaved back and forth[2] as they wished, layer upon layer of them surrounding the place; any regular cultivator would be unable to break free. Shi Feng did not believe that Chen He would willingly walk into a trap. This was a trap that had been set long ago; the Stone-borne Flame's spiritual sense had far surpassed his expectations. And in the face of such a cunning opponent, he had actually left his junior brother, causing Chen He to be trapped in this crisis now.

Focusing his gaze, Shi Feng raised his palm without any hesitation and began to channel his energy.

Blood-red light gathered at his fingertips, and his All-Destroying Essence, which he had not used for over twenty years, reappeared.

—every second delayed would spell even more danger for Chen He.

The blood-red light pierced through the flames, and the rollicking tongues of flame immediately covered it up again, like a flame dragon snaking about and stretching its able body in a cocky manner. Beneath the golden scales pieced together from the flames, there suddenly appeared a chilling aura, and it ripped the blazing fireballs into countless fragments. The dragon shape was torn asunder, raining sparks upon the smoke, and there was nothing left of the flames that had been hindering him.

The Stone-borne Flame, which was attacked, immediately got rid of Chen Shu.

It retreated extremely fast, abandoning its plan to exhaust Chen He's spiritual energy from the outside without a second thought. Gathering its energy, it entered the battle with Chen He to wrest control of his body.

When Shi Feng arrived, he saw that the floor of the yard had been burned to a patchy glaze. The clothes on Chen He's upper half had been burned away; beneath his skin, a flowing red could be seen faintly. He stood unsteadily, swaying so much that he was in danger of toppling over.

Quickly reaching out to support him, Shi Feng felt that Chen He's body was burning hot, with a patch of brilliant red between his brows.

Shi Feng raised his head. The flames had vanished; only the worldly fires further within had not yet extinguished, burning this manor down.

That frightening column of flame, tall enough to reach the sky, was gone. Seeing this, the cultivators who were still lingering in Yunzhou City would most likely guess that the Stone-borne Flame had been subjugated. Perhaps they would even rush to the scene and see for themselves. Demon cultivators killed without any qualms; the orthodox cultivators did not want another enemy, either. It would be most suitable to come in when the person who had subjugated the Stone-borne Flame was weakened, with their meridians damaged and their dantian lacking in energy.

But the truth was, the Stone-borne Flame had entered Chen He's body on its own.

Shi Feng could guess what the Stone-borne Flame was planning: it was prepared to take on its master with all its power, wrest control of the body, and get rid of Chen He, which would allow it to gain a form through this body! And if its master was killed, it would then be granted freedom; it would be able to emerge and burn everything down again, then escape.

—the Stone-borne Flame was so cunning and ruthless. Even Shi Feng could not help but frown.

During their brief interactions, the Stone-borne Flame's outstanding behaviour had continuously rewritten Shi Feng's opinion of it. It used worldly fires as a cover; it left the pond, hiding elsewhere; it set up a trap to capture its owner; it gave up on fighting when it was faced with an opponent as formidable as Shi Feng; it went straight into Chen He's body to hide itself. Such an intelligent natural treasure was completely unheard of!

Chen He curled up in Shi Feng's arms, trembling slightly.

Although the Stone-borne Flame could not burn him to death directly, it could consume his spiritual energy, occupy his meridians and dantian, and finally, erase his wits and consciousness, leaving behind only a soulless husk.

"Junior Brother, endure it."

The thought entered Chen He's mind. His neck tilted back, as if trying to search for the source of this thought.

Shi Feng sat down with his legs crossed, carefully keeping Chen He within his embrace, and let Chen He's forehead rest against his chest. Just as he was about to help Chen He gather his energy and rest, he noticed two small jade orbs floating before Chen He's forehead.

They were surrounded by spiritual force, and had not been destroyed by the raging flames.

Shi Feng recognised them at a glance. Holding out his hand, the spiritual force, which had been resisting stubbornly before, dispersed the moment it touched his fingers.

Two perfectly undamaged orbs of green jade fell into Shi Feng's palm.

After a split second of hesitation, Shi Feng picked up one of the orbs, closing his eyes to confirm what Chen He had experienced.

A moment later, he grunted, his anger surging rapidly; he nearly crushed the jade orb in his hand.

Back then, when he brought Chen He with him and caught up to the Chen family's carriages, he heard strange things from them. In the end, he left without returning Chen He because he was unwilling to let Chen He face such misfortune one day. Who would have expected that he did not manage to escape this ugly squabble, even after all that had happened.

The words that the Stone-borne Flame had used to taunt Chen Shu at the end, they had been in Chen Shu's conscience, and the jade orb could not record it. Shi Feng only saw the constantly shifting fireball filling with glee as it made Chen Shu lose control and break down.

Narrowing his eyes, Shi Feng turned his wrist, storing the two jade orbs away. He pressed his right hand to Chen He's back, right behind the heart. His blood-red spiritual energy flooded in endlessly.

Chen He's consciousness was already muddled. He guarded his dantian adamantly, remaining unmoved as the Stone-borne Flame attacked.

In his confusion, he felt extremely thirsty, as if he were lying in a searing hot desert and being baked by the intense heat of the sun, with his flesh and blood slowly drying up. He could not move or even struggle. He was dimly aware of someone calling him, but that voice was very distant.

"You're going to die," a voice snickered.

Chen He neither moved nor replied.

"I spent a long time looking for you, but I'm very satisfied with your change. You must have learned techniques from some famous sect; the results aren't bad, and you're not dumb anymore! Heaven knows how awful it is to meet a fool, since he wouldn't understand temptations, and his meridians would be a blocked-up mess."

"Get out…scram, get out of my body," Chen He repeated vaguely.

"Are you sure? I'm a Stone-borne Flame, you know. With me, not even Nascent Soul-stage cultivators would dare to make trouble for you! So many cultivators want to seize me…Plus, if I get out, Yunzhou City is finished!"

"Get out."

The Stone-borne Flame hovered around, resentful, then said, "You don't want to be killed by the demon cultivators, and I don't want to end up in the hands of other cultivators, so how about we cooperate for the time being? If you let me come in, we can escape together."

"How about it? The Redwinds Desert, a thousand li northwest of Yunzhou, is the most suitable place for us to live and cultivate," the Stone-borne Flame persuaded kindly. "It will only take a few decades, at most a century, and then you'll be a top master in the cultivation world!"

"Senior Brother…"

"Hmm?!" The Stone-borne Flame was on alert. It had retreated too soon, and had not seen Shi Feng. Now it felt the need to go outside and see who had attacked it outside the yard earlier.

That scary, cold energy gave the Stone-borne Flame a bad premonition.

Coincidentally, spiritual energy from the same source began to flood in through Chen He's back. It contained a bone-chilling cold, causing Chen He so much pain that he trembled non-stop, but he sensed familiarity in this energy, and forced himself not to resist it.

Shi Feng held Chen He even closer as well. He watched coldly as a few wisps of fire sprang from Chen He's body.

The flames tried to burn, but were blocked by the formless halation around Shi Feng.

"You! It's you—why is it you?" the Stone-borne Flame wailed, attempting to shrink back into Chen He's body.

Unfortunately, those wisps of flame seemed to be stuck on the halation, struggling yet unable to break away.

"No! Spare me!" the Stone-borne Flame cried loudly and pitifully, in a tender, childish voice that tugged at the heartstrings of listeners.

By right, the Stone-borne Flame should not have been so scared of Shi Feng, since he had not done anything yet.

However, Shi Feng had seen enough of this Stone-borne Flame's deceit, and decided that this begging without putting up a fight was yet another of its cunning plans. He was not swayed by this.

"Wahh, spare me, it hurts! I don't want to die, I don't want to lose my spiritual sense!"

The Stone-borne Flame shrank back desperately, crying and pleading as it struggled.

Chen He, who had been affected, trembled and spasmed even harder.

"I lost, don't beat me! I know you're very powerful…you can eat me up." Seeing that Shi Feng's killing intent had not diminished, it began to sob like a wronged person. "You cultivators are so detestable, snatching natural treasures to improve your cultivation level and wiping out our spiritual senses, as if we deserve to die?"

This was a question without an answer.

Any magical plant or item would resist if it had a spiritual sense.

If a money pouch full of money prevented you from picking it up, what would people do? They would rip the pouch to pieces and stuff the money in their pockets.

Lowering his head, he looked at Chen He who lay in his arms - his face was reddened and full of agony. Still, Shi Feng's eyes flashed as he pressed his fingers together. The halation surrounding him became a cold, white flame that extended past the trapped red flames, straight into Chen He's body.

The Stone-borne Flame cried even more pitifully. Its struggling caused Chen He's body to switch wildly between being swathed in bright red and being shrouded in frost.

Shi Feng's right ear twitched. He could already hear cultivators arriving above the Chen family residence.

Carefully, gently, he carried Chen He on his back, then headed out of Yunzhou City.

As the wind passed by his ears, the cries of the Stone-borne Flame mixed in with the various cries within the city.

On this day, the Chen family ceased to exist, with only a few servants in the outer courts managing to escape. The residences nearby had had several rooms burned down as well. The most serious damage had been from the fire rain that fell from the gigantic column of flame, which had set fifteen of Yunzhou City's eastern subdivisions aflame. Although the people had escaped in time, and few had died in the fire, the houses within those subdivisions were reduced to ruins and burned land.

If the Stone-borne Flame, whose spiritual sense was getting wiped out, was innocent, then who would the people of Yunzhou City seek to settle their injustices?

~~~

Shi Feng stopped at the overgrown shore of a river, outside the city.

The terrible red colour on Chen He's body was decreasing. Shi Feng removed his coat and wrapped it around Chen He, then sat down again with legs crossed and held him, using his palm to send his spiritual energy into Chen He. A moment later, a thin stream of red-and-white flame withdrew from Chen He's body, forming a plump ball of fire in the air.

The fireball instinctively kept its distance from Shi Feng, cowering next to Chen He and making strange "chhhh" noises that sounded like air leaking.

Shi Feng was concerned about this cunning fellow. He did not completely wipe out the Stone-borne Flame's spiritual sense, only sealing its powers. Thus the Stone-borne Flame had returned to its initial state after just acknowledging its master, when it had only just developed a spiritual sense and knew nothing.

Natural treasures, like children, would be influenced by their environments after their spiritual senses had developed.

Deep in the forests of the mountains, where people were highly scarce, it would be as innocent as a young child. Shi Feng was not at all surprised that the Stone-borne Flame from the Chen family's pond had become like this.

Notes:

[1]: [Long explanation] Zhuan 篆 script is one of the older Chinese scripts; it is somewhere between pictorials and the script we know today as Traditional Chinese. Historically there were two forms, 大篆dazhuan (great/big zhuan) and 小篆xiaozhuan (little/small zhuan); the latter, xiaozhuan, was chosen by Qin Shihuang to be the common script used across all of China when he unified it. As for carving, zhuan script is still the most common script of choice in seal carving (篆刻 zhuanke) today - notice how the name contains zhuan?

(Unrelated side note: I've done seal carving for an activity in school; it's a really nice script for seal carving.)

[2]: Original term used was 吞吐; it literally means 'swallow and spit', and can be used to describe someone who speaks in a stammering, hesitant manner. I felt that the literal and descriptive meanings were unsuitable in the context of this section - description of moving flames - so I tried to approximate something.

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