The revelation that Little Tanuki could actually ama.s.s Celestial Chi from its surroundings for its own chi cultivation prompted Ye Chen to ask, "What kind of fighting abilities do you even possess, Little Tanuki?"
The question came because he simply could not comprehend any viable way for this furry creature to fight in a real battle. In his mind, even a mystical beast that had only attained Celestial Chi First or Second Stage could probably send Little Tanuki flying with a single hit.
There was no fury like a Little Tanuki scorned by Ye Chen apparently; it released a string of indignant squeals, then as if preparing for a demo, it leaped to the spot directly before Ye Chen.
Suddenly, the scene before his eyes unraveled. In a blink of an eye, Ye Chen found himself being stared down by a few mystical leviathans that had not been there a millisecond ago, wyverns, basilisks, and the likes, all staring straight at him with hunger in their eyes.
Ye Chen felt a stir of unrest in his astral body. Instinctively, he flexed his astral powers before he turned his attention to the scene before him—
The apparitions faded as abruptly as they appeared, showing only Little Tanuki standing quietly by itself in front of him.
"Y-you can perform illusions?!" Ye Chen exclaimed in amazement.
Little Tanuki licked its front paw gracefully, obviously smug as it accepted his gushing praise.
Ye Chen had not expected the little critter to be able to pull off something like that. The illusionary spell seemed to only be readily broken by one who had awakened their astral body and the powers within it which was something that an average martial art pract.i.tioner could not achieve. In other words, the only thing an average fighter had in them when going against Little Tanuki's illusionary technique would be the strength of their will.
Ye Chen was uncertain if Little Tanuki's ability may be rendered ineffective if the target of the technique attained a certain stage. Yet, one thing was for sure, in a real battle, even a few seconds of illusionary distraction would be enough to tip the scale to the illusionist's favor!
The young man was ecstatic. "Any more abilities, Little Tanuki?"
The creature lowered its face as if it was thinking. Then, it perked up and its body faded gradually into thin air.
Invisibility? Ye Chen immediately revolved his Celestial Chi but he failed to identify the Little Tanuki's location as if it had completely disappeared. However, once he started using his astral power, where every stimulus in his surroundings was suddenly amplified to a sharp clarity, Ye Chen could finally pinpoint Little Tanuki's location despite its invisibility.
It appeared that the only one-size-fits-all solution to counter Little Tanuki's abilities was a person's astral body and its a.s.sociated abilities!
Ye Chen retracted his astral sensing and after a while, Little Tanuki released itself from invisibility too.
"Illusions and invisibility? Whoa, Little Tanuki… You're incredible!" Ye Chen cried out pa.s.sionately. The potential these two abilities could bring to a battle was already worth one's eager antic.i.p.ation!
Yet, Little Tanuki pursed its lips as if it said, "You have not seen everything yet!"
Then suddenly, it heaved a thick white fog out from its mouth so saturated that it began covering the entire courtyard. Ye Chen looked down and realized that not only was he unable to see his own hand through this fog, his senses had also become completely hazy. Unsurprisingly, he was only able to regain a sense of his surroundings after activating his astral power once more!
After a while, Little Tanuki gave a sharp inhale and sucked in every ounce of that strange fog back into itself.
Filled with enthusiasm, Ye Chen grabbed Little Tanuki's front limbs and scooped the creature up.
"You're tiny but mighty, Little Tanuki! Even my interest is piqued now. Just who are you really, and what's your story?" Ye Chen gazed deeply into Little Tanuki's clear, bright eyes. "You're just as capable as a human! It's such a shame that you can't speak."
Ye Chen's mind recalled the incident when he had first projected his astral body. He had seen the flash of red light emitted from the deeper part of the Lianyun Mountains and right after that, Little Tanuki appeared in his room. Could it be that the red light was just Little Tanuki running towards the only astral body it could sense?
Ye Chen thought for a while and ultimately declared, "You know what? I don't really care about your past, but I do know that from now on, we'll be each other's partner. I'll always protect you, so don't be afraid, I won't let anything harm you."
Hearing Ye Chen's words, Little Tanuki's eyes seemed to be dazzling as it gazed back into Ye Chen's.
These were the only three abilities Little Tanuki had displayed, yet Ye Chen had a feeling that the little critter must have a lot more stored, it just had not been able to use those abilities yet. Heaven knows how many secrets lay in this small tanuki!
Now that he knew about the tanuki's abilities, a few grim thoughts crossed Ye Chen's head. Thoughts that prompted the young man to giggle disturbingly as he concluded, 'Oh, I can't wait to let those louts in the House of Yun have a little taste of Little Tanuki's powers…'
Little Tanuki could feel its hair standing on end after it heard Ye Chen's disturbing laughter. Appalled, it wriggled out of Ye Chen's grasp and dove into his room, thinking that Ye Chen was planning to pull a prank on it again.
From then on, every time Ye Chen trained, Little Tanuki stood close by and absorbed the surplus Celestial Chi from his body.
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'I wonder when Little Tanuki's fourth tail will mature,' Ye Chen wondered in his head.
Overall, it had been a period of relative peace without any turbulence in the Ye Castle. Hence, every martial art acolyte took this as a chance to quickly perfect their cultivation.
Time pa.s.sed until it was about half a month till the day of the Grand Martial Tournament of the Eighteen Houses of Lianyun. No one could tell for sure what might happen during this period, just as the saying went, 'don't count your chickens before they hatch' because anything could go wrong even if a good outcome was certain.
However, what was consistent was that Ye Changxuan, Ye Zhantian, and the other upper-echelon seniors locked themselves in the Patriarch Residency throughout the period. They were hardly seen outside.
In fact, the entire House of Ye looked like it had completely isolated itself from the world. Even their front door was always shut.
That dreadful, austere atmosphere suffocating the entire Ye Castle was not lost on Ye Chen. He in turn, constantly reminded himself that no matter what happened during the Grand Martial Tournament, his priority was to not embarra.s.s the House of Ye!
Dusk fell and the entire Ye Castle complex was once again in total silence. It was so quiet, the distant cries of dangerous mystical beasts in the Lianyun Mountains had become all too clear to the ear.
As usual, Ye Chen sat cross-legged on his bed and cultivated his Celestial Chi. By that point, the young man's skill in flexing his astral power had made progress, such that the perimeter of his remote sensing had gone all the way to about two-thirds of a mile.
At the same time, Little Tanuki was laid next to Ye Chen motionlessly, seemingly entering its own state of one-pointedness as it trained alongside its human.
Time trudged forward sluggishly. In the distant mountain, a loud, primal roar, unleashed by an unknown beast, tore through the stiffened air of the night. Of course, to the residents of Ye Castle, b.e.s.t.i.a.l sounds like these had always been a staple of the night.
Yet, at that very moment, Little Tanuki's eyes suddenly snapped open as if it sensed something from that particular cry. In a flash, it sprinted towards the door frantically.
"L-Little Tanuki?!" Sensing the creature's take off, Ye Chen cried out in an effort to halt the scampering critter.
Alas, he was too late. Little Tanuki had dashed off into the distance.
His mind raced. 'What's going on? Is Little Tanuki returning to the Lianyun Mountains again?'
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