Chapter 33 – Withered Wood, Dragon’s Roar << Soaring Dragon’s Cry >> (I)
Ye Yin Zhu returned to reality. At this moment, he could no longer think about the issue pertaining to Sura. His gaze shifted toward the distant grounds beyond the city wall. Sure enough, the beastmen army had already begun its slow forward march.
After an hour had passed, Dis could no longer restrain himself. Even though Perkins was still somewhat worried, he also didn’t believe that this Konya City had enough power to contend against their beastmen plundering legion. The Leopardmen that had previously been sent up the mountain for reconnaissance hadn’t yet sent back a danger signal. By this time, the army’s countenance had recovered slightly, and the beastmen began to slowly march toward the Dragon Cavalry in front of Konya City.
The Tigermen, who were originally in the center of the formation, suddenly split in half and moved to both sides while the Apemen and Leopardmen troops spread themselves out horizontally. A wing formation on either side unfolded with the center of the plundering legion consisting of the Behemoth legion with Gold Behemoth Dis and Perkins at the helm. Taking heavy steps forward, the earth rumbled beneath them. They slowly closed in on the Dragon Cavalry, who also held no doubts about how easily the Behemoths could tear their five hundred Dragon Cavalrymen to shreds.
At the top of the City Walls.
All of the mages awoke from their meditation and gathered around Ye Yin Zhu. Previously, Ye Yin Zhu had only told them to do their utmost to stay at their peak condition. By now, the rounded, concave mirror of ice behind Ye Yin Zhu had been completed. The spiritual force condensation and Voice Magnification spells had finished at nearly the same time.
“Yin Zhu, what do we do next?” Although Xiang Luan felt as calm as she could be, her voice still betrayed her nervous mood.
Ye Yin Zhu said, “Teacher Ferguson gave me a journal of his notes. Magic is the most miraculous discipline in the world, and branches of magic are constantly evolving. Even if mages are of the same magical discipline, each of them cultivates differently, which creates different magics of varying effects. But all mages have something in common—spiritual force. Regardless of what magic is being cultivated, spiritual force is pure and indistinguishable. I currently need to borrow everyone’s spiritual force; please give to me everything you can spare.”
A Spiritual Mage upperclassman spoke up in surprise, “Are you saying that you want to use that useless magic?”
Ye Yin Zhu nodded and said, “No magic is absolutely useless. Although this magic is only useful to a Spiritual Mage, it is extremely appropriate at this moment. Everyone, please open your mind, and do not give me any resistance. I am starting.”
The vast majority of the mages didn’t know what Ye Yin Zhu was up to, as this was the first time they had heard of a magic that could extract spiritual force. Only the Spiritual Mage who had spoken up early had a mysterious, pondering light reflected in his eyes, as well as a trace of fear emerging within them as well.
“Chang Hao, please activate the Spiritual Condensation Spell.” Lifting his hand, Ye Yin Zhu quickly slashed his hand through the air, an arc of light following his action. A low voice began to clearly recite a long and tedious incantation.
Chang Hao used his spiritual force to immediately activate the spell. Directly after, the silver and black gems he had arranged previously began flashing with rays of light. Above the city walls, an illusionary chess game took shape. Intangible elemental energy began to gather. Every mage clearly sensed their spiritual force being oppressed by this Spiritual Domain Field.
Ye Yin Zhu’s forehead suddenly brightened with a silvery brilliance. A dazzlingly beautiful silvery light rose, transforming into a star made of pure light, shooting into the sky, spiraling approximately a meter above his head, and emitting a faint yellow brilliance.
Only Spiritual Mages knew what this rich, fluctuating silvery star represented. It was obviously a Spiritual Mage’s lifeline! If this was destroyed, the mage would essentially become neutralized, turning brain-dead.
“… Using my Spiritual Imprint as a medium, our spirits will be connected! Please cooperate with me.” An arc of light rose from his chest and soared upward. Instantly, it blended with that silvery star of light. Rays of silvery starlight shot outward, and an awe-inspiring scene manifested. Threads of silver light gracefully streamed from the silver star and precisely linked to each mage’s forehead. Thirty-nine silvery threads, while not a lot, was still plenty.
The mages could all sense Ye Yin Zhu’s mood. A sense of friendliness transmitted from Ye Yin Zhu to the rest of them along with steady conviction. The silver thread created a link with an intense pulling force. Everyone clearly felt their spiritual force rapidly being sucked away through the silver thread connection.
By this time, even if some of them felt resentful toward Ye Yin Zhu, they must clearly have trusted him. Below the city walls, the distance between the enemy and the Dragon Cavalry gradually closed. This was their only chance.
Thirty-nine silver threads formed a complicated spiderweb that glistened from every strand. The intensity of each of their spiritual force was completely on display right now. The richer the spiritual force, the more brilliantly beautiful the silver threads twinkled. Conversely, the silvery light would be weak at some parts.
Ye Yin Zhu closed his eyes. At this moment, he no longer needed to look. On his forehead, large beads of sweat trickled down his temples, wetting his bangs. His body trembled slightly, the intensity gradually rising. At this very moment, the pressure he was under was more than that disagreeing Spiritual Mage could comprehend.
This magic had a pleasant name. When it was first created, the Spiritual Magic circles gave it a special title. It was called: Myriad Spirits Confluence.
Theoretically, what Ye Yin Zhu previously said wasn’t wrong. What he didn’t voice was the fact that even though everyone’s spiritual forces were indistinguishable from one another, he had to bear with everyone’s mental state and the pressure of varying spiritual force intensities as his Spiritual Imprint was being used as the medium. Without an unwavering and resolute will to bear this suffering, it was highly likely that the tremendous amount of spiritual force being absorbed would immediately destroy him and turn him brain-dead.
At this moment, Ye Yin Zhu endured this suffering. Within these thirty-nine spiritual forces were different chaotic mindsets that unceasingly attacked his brain. If he hadn’t cultivated the Pure Zither Heart since he was a child, if his will and perseverance weren’t matchless, his mental defenses would have already been destroyed. While the tremendous volume of spiritual force poured into him, Ye Yin Zhu, by means of his Spiritual Imprint, crazily absorbed these spiritual forces to use for himself.
In the past, he was at Level 1 of the Courageous Zither Heart, and his spiritual force could expand to a range of thirty meters in all directions, thus allowing him to examine even the most minute of magical fluctuations in his surroundings. Right now, his range limit was expanding with astonishing speed. As a result, he essentially no longer needed to visually observe the world; he merely used his spiritual awareness to grasp everyone and everything.
His Pure Zither Heart foundation’s most important influence was displayed at this moment. Ye Yin Zhu’s zither heart held not even a single trace of impurity, so it was able to ward off all the complex emotions being sent his way. With some struggle, he gradually sat down on the ground, the round, concave mirror of ice behind him.
His previously returned silver space ring flickered with brilliant rays of light, and a zither manifested above his knees.
Stroking the zither body, a familiar feeling arose as his zither heart became more resolute. At this moment, his body emitted a magical radiance that was rapidly changing. The originally faint yellow magic had already become richer and more profound. The strong spiritual power caused Ye Yin Zhu’s originally scholarly air to shift, allowing an aura of strength and dignity to surround him. Rays of light shone down on all the mages linked by the silver threads, creating a rippling halo of light effect. As the core, Ye Yin Zhu was currently like the moon that all the stars cup themselves around.1
Dis and Perkins almost halted their march as their gazes were drawn to the rather short city walls of Konya City. Atop the city walls, Ye Yin Zhu’s body happened to change, strengthening the faint unease within their hearts.
Ye Yin Zhu’z guqin was a dark yellow color, the grains of the zither clear and distinctive. An ordinary guqin was crafted following the phoenix model. Its body would correspond with the shape of a phoenix with a discernible head, neck, shoulders, waist, tail, and feet. The zither currently resting on his knees possessed a dragon shape rather than a phoenix shape.
The ‘zither head’ served as the head of the dragon. Its forehead was embedded with a hardwood port to rack the strings. This was called the ‘bridge,’ the tallest part of the zither. The bottom of the zither had two sound grooves. The comparatively large one in the middle was called the ‘dragon pool,’ while the one located at the smaller end of the zither was called the ‘phoenix pond.’ The separation of the world, located between both the dragon and the phoenix, symbolized every manifestation of the heavens and the earth.
The bridge had a strip of hardwood attached to it called ‘chenglu.’ Seven ‘string holes’ were drilled into it for the strings to be threaded through. These seven hole were in order to ‘tune’ the strings. The base of the zither head also had a ‘phoenix tongue’ and ‘peg protector.’ All that was below the waist was naturally called the ‘phoenix tail.’ The zither tail base had a shallow groove of hardwood called ‘dragon gums’ for the strings to rest against. The dragon gums were decorated on both sides with an ornament called the ‘ceremonial cap,’ which was also known as the ‘burnt tail.’2 The seven strings threaded past the chenglu and through the bridge and dragon gums, curling beneath the zither tail and through a pair of holes called ‘goose feet.’ This symbolized seven stars. 3
Embedded in the zither were thirteen ‘zither crests’ that, unexpectedly, were carved from dragon teeth. Not only that, they were carved from the dragon teeth of thirteen different Gigantic Dragons. The seven strings seemed to radiate with a dark light; these strings were the thinnest tendons of seven different Gigantic Dragons. This zither’s name was——Withered Wood, Dragon’s Roar.
The moment Ye Yin Zhu stroked the strings of the Withered Wood, Dragon’s Roar Zither, his body’s trembling, which was a result of absorbing too much spiritual force, miraculously vanished.
Sura had returned to Ye Yin Zhu’s side without the latter being aware. Fisichella stood nearby as well, his complicated gaze resting on Ye Yin Zhu as he thought, This person is crazy! The beastmen below the city walls didn’t seem to enter his mind. What his eyes were reflecting at the moment was the visage of a white-robed, black-haired youth with a zither and scholarly air.
“The inexhaustible winter gale,
Rings with the tinkling sound of jade pendants.
The heavens explode and are torn asunder,
By the roar of the venerable Azure Dragon.” 4
The low recitation escaped Ye Yin Zhu’s lips, the amplification spell transmitting the words far and wide. The beastmen didn’t react to these four lines, but the Dragon Cavalrymen discovered with amazement that the dragons they were seated on stiffened simultaneously. All of the dragon mounts seemed to have lost their breath in a split second.
- Figuratively means to be viewed as the core figure, the heart, of a group ↩
- Alright, let’s stop this right there. History lesson, everyone! Because TJSS knows nothing about this. People of the Wu State burned a specific tree species for cooking purposes. When Cai Yong of the later Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) heard the ardent crackling of the fire, he knew the wood was of excellent quality. Thus, he asked if he could cut a zither out of the wood. The result was a zither with a beautiful sound and a tail that looked as if it was burnt. He just happened to name it ‘Burnt Tail Zither’ at that moment. So… it is not an ornament like TJSS is stating in this ZE paragraph; it’s a wood pattern naturally formed during the construction of a zither. … I have no idea what he is getting at, but yeah. Oh, and chenglu is the official name for the strip, but just remember it as a piece of wood where the strings are threaded through. ↩
- Interruption again! It’s not. Five of the strings are to represent the five elements of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. The sixth string was added by Zhou Wen Wang (周文王) to mourn his son, Bo Yihou (伯邑考). The seventh string was added by his successor, Zhou Wu Wang, to motivate his troops into battle with the Shang. Seven Stars? Just more TJSS nonsense. (← Editor’s Comment: Honestly, he probably made it up cause history lesson from Earth wouldn’t match this different world…) ↩
- If you’re curious… TJSS is probably basing this off of the Jiu Xiao Huan Pei Zither (九霄環佩). He essentially modified a poem carved onto the back of the zither for this line of poetry. ↩