Right then, Li Yao raised his head and smiled in her direction.
Xie Anan was suddenly alarmed. For some reason, although his eyes were calm and clear, they effected a much higher pressure on her than Sister Long's.
She couldn't help but walk out to Li Yao. She hesitated for a long time but did not dare to sit down. Instead, she crouched and observed the minced pig liver curiously.
Li Yao had noticed his 'tail' a long time ago, but he didn't sense any hostility from her. Since they were going to meet again the next day, and he was not familiar with the territory of the Skyhill Domain, he didn't want to make a fuss just in order to get rid of her.
Li Yao didn't greet Xie Anan. He took off the grey gloves softly.
His hands didn't look abnormal at first, except for the black stripes around the fingers.
But Xie Anan's eyes were wide open when she took a closer look, because she discovered that the black stripes were actually made of almost a hundred tiny ants.
These ants were attached to the skin of Li Yao's hands which seemed to boast a weird attraction force. They had been hiding behind the grey gloves!
Li Yao placed his hands near the minced pig liver. The moment the ants smelled the stink of blood from the liver, they crawled down his fingertips like two armies and started enjoying the food.
Li Yao explained, "Please do excuse me. I didn't want to leave early, but the ants were too hungry. If I don't feed them, they will go mad soon, and when they do, even I won't be able to resist them."
Xie Anan blinked and observed the ants suspiciously again.
The ants were only a third the size of regular ants. They were a glamorous violet color, as if they'd been carved from purple crystals. They seemed to be wearing glittering battlesuits, which made them extraordinarily beautiful.
Xie Anan felt that the ants looked familiar.
She thought for a moment, before cold sweat suddenly covered her. She was barely able to keep herself from falling down. She lost control and exclaimed, "Purple Ring Sword Ants! They are the Purple Ring Sword Ants!"
Purple Ring Sword Ants were a kind of insect that were aggressive and lustful for meat. They could release a special poison when they bit their prey. The pain was so excruciating that one might feel that they had been stabbed by a flying sword, which was also the reason such insects were known as 'sword ants'.
According to the analysis of the specialists, the pain resulting from a bite of a Purple Ring Sword Ant was five times more intense than the pain caused by a demon lion's or a demon tiger's!
Moreover, the poison took effect on the central nerves directly and could even interact with the spiritual energy inside a Cultivator's body. However high one's Cultivation was, it was impossible to hold back the pain!
Purple Ring Sword Ants definitely ranked among the top 10 of all spiritual insects in regard of terribleness.
Xie Anan's head was dizzy, and she couldn't believe her eyes. Common Cultivators would always try to stay as far away from Purple Ring Sword Ants as possible. Yet, the guy had been keeping so many Purple Ring Sword Ants on his hands?
Xie Anan knew that Purple Ring Sword Ants loathed restrictions and were never to be caged or domesticated. With the limited space inside the gloves, these insects were definitely irritated to the most furious point and would bite everything they ran into!
Was he not scared of the biting?
Xie Anan recalled what had happened just now and was suddenly dumbfounded.
This guy, Li Yao, had been competing with so many expert refiners with a pair of hands that were packed with Purple Ring Sword Ants and was only a few minutes slower than them!
It was funny that everybody thought that his capability was hindered a little bit by the thick gloves; they never knew the existence of such terrible Purple Ring Sword Ants!
If there were no ants on his hands, how horrifying would his true capability have been?
Xie Anan's brain went blank as she stammered, "Are you not scared of being bitten?"
Li Yao warmed up his fingers and inspected the tiny injuries on them with the man-made sunlight from the sky. Then he explained, "This is a special way of training to improve the sensitivity of my hands and my control over the muscles on them.
"Scary as Purple Ring Sword Ants are, they always show signs before they bite, just like tigers need to crouch before they lunge forward.
"As long as one senses the signs of attack in advance, one can control the muscles on the hand to collapse the part where they are biting or simply interfere with them through spiritual threads. In such a way, their attacks can be interrupted.
"So, I'm not afraid of their biting."
Xie Anan was dazed. She was speechless for a long time before she opened her mouth again. "But but there are almost a hundred Purple Ring Sword Ants, which are launching attacks all the time!"
Li Yao said, "Not almost a hundred. There are only 91 of them in total.
"Of course, it is not an easy job to deal with so many Purple Ring Sword Ants. At first, I only put five on either of my hands, and yet I was bitten every other few minutes. But practice makes perfect. After training for a few days, the number of them gradually increased."
Training the sensitivity of the hands with Purple Ring Sword Ants was a real secret technique of the Hundred Smelting Clan.
Li Yao had known the secret art from the classics of the Heavenly Refining Tower. However, back in the Heaven's Origin Sector, there were no Purple Ring Sword Ants that he could use.
Other spiritual insects were either too large or too picky about living environments. Their poison was not intense enough to trigger enough pain, and sometimes there were corrosive contingents inside the poison that could paralyze the nerves on the hands. None of them were suitable for the training with this technique.
After Li Yao arrived in the Flying Star Sector, he had discovered that many world fragments of this Sector were home to Purple Ring Sword Ants.
Li Yao had spent a huge fortune on a batch of Purple Ring Sword Ants online. Then, he'd weaved the pair of gloves with certain Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures that simulated the living environment of the ants so that they could stay inside for long periods without dying.
More than half of his money had actually been spent on these little insects and the things they required.
But the outcome was obvious, too. The sensitivity of Li Yao's hands had soared exponentially. He had reached 'Ninety-Ant level' very quickly. Ninety-one ants crawled all over his hands and continued biting him, yet all the attacks missed because of Li Yao's delicate control over the muscles in his hands.
Xie Anan was truly dumbfounded. She muttered, "So, you were controlling the muscles on your hands to resist the continuous attack of the ninety-one Purple Ring Sword Ants, while you were competing against almost twenty experts of refining, with only a slim disadvantage, during which time you were totally safe from the Purple Ring Sword Ants?"
Li Yao sighed and said, "My Cultivation is not good enough. When I'm focused, it's all fine. But I was distracted a moment ago and got bitten by the ants. Six times in total."
Xie Anan thought back. Had Li Yao been gritting his teeth and bulging his veins not because the competition was hard but because he was bitten by the Purple Ring Sword Ants?
Was it really so?
According to the legends, being bitten by the Purple Ring Sword Ants was the most agonizing thing in the world. One would feel that one's soul was pierced through. How could he deal with it just by gritting his teeth?
"Can I try such a method of training?"
Since Li Yao was talking about it like it was nothing unusual, Xie Anan suddenly asked to try it for some unknown reason.
Li Yao nodded his head. During his stay in the Flying Star Sector, he had benefited from the enlightenments of many fellow Cultivators. His old ways of thinking were somewhat changed, too. He didn't mind sharing the basic training arts with people who were interested in them now.
Li Yao picked up one Purple Ring Sword Ant from the ground with his little finger and put it on the back of Xie Anan's hand, before he said, "Release all your senses. Tie your spiritual threads around your arm and let them surge to the back of your hand along your arm like a tidal bore at night"
He dropped the ant softly.
The Purple Ring Sword Ant, which had behaved quite nicely on his little finger, was utterly revitalized on Xie Anan's hand. As if possessed by an insect devil, it bit Xie Anan's hand hard, mercilessly.
"Ahhhh!" Xie Anan screamed.
She collapsed to the ground as if she had been hit by a lightning, with her limbs cramping and her mouth foaming. Her pupils widened, too.
Li Yao frowned slightly. He removed the Purple Ring Sword Ant and let it resume its pig liver dinner.
As for himself, he exercised his fingers and enjoyed a moment of post-supper pleasure.
It was not until three minutes later that Xie Anan regained the ability to talk. But her hair was messy, and her face was pale and devastated. She looked at Li Yao as if he were a monster.
How terrifying this monster is! Just one bite, and I suffered such excruciating pain that I might've split into two halves. The guy was bitten six times and yet finished such high-difficulty maintenance work?
Xie Anan had an urge to run away immediately.
Li Yao glanced at Xie Anan's hand and observed, "Judging from your performance, I don't think Purple Ring Sword Ants are suitable for your training. Why don't you try butterflies?"
Xie Anan was still in a trance. She mumbled, "Butterflies?"
Li Yao extended his right hand.
A month and a half ago, his hands had been as smooth as jade and as soft as silk. His flesh had seemed to be glowing at that time.
Right now, his hands looked plain and ordinary. They were part of nature like the grass, stones, earthworms, and birds in the garden.
Suddenly, weird things happened!
Inside the small garden, many butterflies were dancing among the flowers. But they were suddenly bound by invisible strings and pulled to Li Yao's right hand. Their colorful wings were waving crazily, but they were still stuck there!
Li Yao said, "Before a butterfly takes off, there are inconspicuous signs, too. As long as you seize the moment and affect it with your spiritual thread, it will stay in your palm forever and can't get away however hard it tries."
He loosened his fingers. The twenty or so butterflies were set free from their shackles and flew out among Li Yao's fingers. They danced merrily above his head.
Li Yao said, "Such a training method is less painful and more suitable for beginners. Of course, you can start with one or two butterfliers."
Xie Anan was surprised. "But, how did you make so many butterflies come to your palm?"
Li Yao said, "My right hand was shaking at a certain frequency just now. It was a special signal that is very appealing to the butterflies. They were attracted to my hand as if it were a flower.
"Such a technique is beyond you right now. So, you can try to smear certain special ointments on your hand to simulate the scent of flowers and attract the butterflies."
The minced pig liver had been cleared by the Purple Ring Sword Ants, without the slightest traces left. Li Yao extended his fingers and placed his hands on the ground again.
His two hands seemed to boast devilish charisma that made the ants form two lines and crawl to his fingers nicely.
Li Yao put the gloves on carefully.
In Xie Anan's eyes, the most gruesome grey gloves in the world had turned into a barrier in which demons were caged!
Li Yao folded the package of the ants' food and tossed it into a dustbin. Then he turned back and smiled. "If you don't have any further questions, I'll see you tomorrow. Also, you'd better not tell Long Yunxin and the rest of them what you saw.
"I'm not concerned about the exposure of such a training method. Whoever wants to use it is free to do so.
"What I'm concerned with is that, if you tell them right now, their confidence will be shaken, which will potentially affect their performances in the match in three days' time."
Xie Anan's head was in chaos. She was startled for a long time and, when Li Yao was about to vanish around the corner, suddenly asked, "Wait, Senior Brother Li Yao, were you hiding your true capability during the competition just now because you didn't want to shake their confidence?"
"Not exactly so."
Li Yao halted and thought for a while. He turned around and replied, "I kept my gloves on not because I disrespect anyone, nor because I was meaning to cheer up anyone.
"The real reason was that, once I took off my gloves, I wouldn't have been able to do my best. Do you understand?
"It would've been a one-sided slaughter, and a completely waste of their time and mine."
After Li Yao finished speaking, he disappeared into the darkness.
Xie Anan was left alone in the small garden, utterly astounded!
Due on July 3, 2018