Beyond The Primordials

Author's Note: Hey guys! This is my first xianxia novel so quality might change as I go along. I don't really have a clear schedule yet as I'm just starting out so sorry if the uploads are a bit inconsistent! Hope you enjoy!

Synopsis: When Yin Hui was born, the heavens trembled. Out of fear, the primordial gods crippled his clan and himself, stripping them of their ability to cultivate. Rendered powerless, his clan was driven to near extinction and Yin Hui was condemned to a life of slavery. After 15 years of servitude, he encounters a stroke of fortune that would change his fate forever, bestowing upon him an alternate method of cultivating. With a new lease on life, he exacts vengeance against all who had wronged him, and strives to ascend beyond the primordials!

If you guys have any comments or criticisms please don't be afraid to speak. I enjoy feedback and anything you find interesting within the story I would be happy to talk or elaborate more about it.

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  • Chapter 1: Servitude

    Crash~ 

     

    The statue shattered into multiple chunks of translucent white jade as it hit the ground. The able-bodied workers responsible immediately prepared their ropes to take down another, while others came in to collect the rubble. They threw the pieces of jade into large brown sacks, strategically organising them to make their sacks look as full as possible.

     

    Though they moved with great speed and efficiency, the workers were thin, their faces showing slight signs of malnourishment. All of them wore worn-down hemp robes with varying degrees of tears, revealing red whip marks on their skin.

     

    They were the slaves of the Tang Clan.

     

    "Anyone who doesn't bring in a full bag of jade goes without dinner tonight!"

     

    The voice came from a young man with an arrogant demeanor wearing red silk robes. The man paced around the demolition site, watching each and every slave for the slightest sign of weakness or slow in their pace. He approached a young boy who looked around fifteen and kicked his sack, spilling the boy’s meticulously organized jade all over the ground. 

     

    The boy had a very handsome face, one that could be described as royal despite being covered in dirt. However, what stood out were his eyes. His eyes were fierce, radiating an essence of defiance and majesty. 

     

    "Yin Hui, I know your clan used to own all this land we are currently excavating, but you cannot get clumsy from sentiment." He chuckled.

     

    Yin Hui cast a cold glare at the young man who kicked his sack. His gaze contained what seemed to be a murderous intent, but was actually just the natural fierceness of his eyes.

     

    “There it is, those eyes. Those demonic eyes that don't even seem to put the heavens in their sight. Know your place!” The young man waved his sleeve, and a long red whip appeared in his hand.

     

    As he swung, flames began to form on the surface of the whip. The whip struck Yin Hui directly on his back, burning through his robes and leaving a smoking red wound on his back.

     

    Yin Hui howled in pain as he collapsed onto the ground. However, the man did not seem to be finished. With a wicked grin he whipped Yin Hui an additional five times, completely burning off the back portion of his robes. Despite Yin Hui’s screams echoing throughout the excavation site, the surrounding slaves worked as diligently as usual. They were not oblivious to what was happening, but simply knew that there was nothing they could do about it. 

     

    Yin Hui's laid motionless after the last lash. His body paralyzed by the immense pain caused by the flaming whip. The young man holding the whip picked up Yin Hui by his short black hair, holding him up to eye level. The anger in his face had not lessened at all, and it seemed like he would begin whipping once more given the slightest provocation.

     

    "Your just an insignificant slave of one of the many clans conquered by the Tang Clan. I should dig out your cursed eyes so that you'll appear more subservient." He sneered.

     

    "Haha…" While Yin Hui's upper body was completely limp, his mouth was still fully intact.

     

    "Subservient? Let’s not forget that your clan is also just one of the Tang's dogs. At least I'm a slave who still retains some spine. On the other hand, you're just a mutt who licks his master's boots on all fours, hoping for a treat and a pat on the head."

     

    The young man's grip on the whip tightened as the veins on his face bulged from anger.

     

    "You're courting death! Let’s see you mouth off again once I give you some lashes to the head!" The young man threw Yin Hui's limp body hard on the ground and drew back his whip. The surface of the whip ignited with flames once more as he lashed out towards the defenseless boy.

     

    "Stop." A young voice called out.

     

    The young man hesitated briefly when he heard the voice. However, with his mind in such an enraged state he pretended not to hear it and continued his attack.

     

    As the whip was about to make contact with Yin Hui's head it suddenly halted. A boy around Yin Hui's age with shoulder length black hair was firmly grasping the flaming whip. There wasn't the slightest expression of pain on the boy's face as he held the whip, which was mere inches from Yin Hui's face.

     

    "Tao Shou, I told you to stop." The youth said sternly.

     

    Tao Shou gritted his teeth as the flames on the whip slowly faded. He retracted his whip and lowered his head, trying to conceal his immense rage.

     

    "Forgive me young master Tang Li. I was merely disciplining a slave who was not showing face to the Tang Clan."

     

    "You disobeyed a direct order from a member of the Tang Clan, which is an even greater offense. Since you can’t seem to hear, I'll get rid of the extra weight for you." Tang Li unsheathed a decorated short sword from his waist, and with a quick swing sliced off Tao Shou's left ear.

     

    The attack was clean and graceful, the splattering blood painting an even coat on the edge of Tang Li's sword, making the edge appear to glow an alluring red. Coupled with Tang Li's handsome face, what most would see as a barbaric act seemed more like an elegant performance.

     

    "Ahh!! Forgive me young master! It will not happen again!"

     

    Tao Shou screamed as he picked up his severed ear and ran in the opposite direction as fast as he could. His initial rage was completely replaced with concern for his missing ear, praying the healers from his clan could reattach it.

     

    When Tao Shou was no longer in view, Tang Li knelt before the injured Yin Hui. He took out a small brown sack the size of a wine gourd and opened it. This small sack was not like the ones the slaves were using to carry pieces of jade. Inside was a tiny pocket dimension that seemed to be able to hold an infinite amount of objects, perhaps even living beings.

     

    Tang Li took out a few bottles containing different kinds of liquids and began applying them onto Yin Hui's damaged body. When the liquid came in contact with Yin Hui's wounds they began to rapidly close up and heal, not leaving a single scar behind.

     

    Yin Hui sat up, healthy skin radiating through the few patches of damaged cloth still draped loosely around his torso.

     

    "Thank you Tang Li."

     

    "Humiliated from being saved by a member Tang Clan?" Tang Li laughed, pointing to a golden crest on the belt of his blue robe, the surname Tang was inscribed on it.

     

    "Your an exception." Yin Hui let out a small smile.

     

    The surrounding slaves heaved a sigh of relief. Tang Li was a favorite among the slave populations controlled by the Tang Clan. Despite his status, he was very kind, and took genuine care of the slaves under his command. Slaves under him were never beaten, and were treated more like ordinary workers rather than slaves.

     

    "You may be good at controlling and concealing your emotions, but those eyes of yours seem to make that all useless." Tang Li sighed

     

    "It's fine. A little beating every now and then isn't a problem. If you really feel bad, you could pass me a spare robe from your bag of holding." 

     

    Tang Li smiled and took out fresh blue robe from his bag, throwing it towards Yin Hui.

     

    "It's nothing much. If it wasn't for you, I would've died long ago." 

     

    "Thank your clan elders for giving me that death sentence all those years ago then." Yin Hui laughed

     

    When Yin Hui was ten, he accidentally gave poisoned wine to a Tang Clan elder by an assassin disguised as a slave. The assassin was caught and killed, but Yin Hui was still blamed. As punishment he was sent to find and kill the Onyx Serpent from Black Serpent Mountain. It was essentially a death sentence, as the mountain was ravaged with giant man-eating serpents and the Onyx Serpent being only a rumor. 

     

    When Yin Hui entered the mountain he saw a young boy around the same age as him twitching on the ground. Around the boy were ten bloody corpses, each holding various kinds of weapons in their hands. The young boy was poisoned and was going to die within hours.

     

    Seeing the boy’s ragged appearance, Yin Hui assumed he was another slave. Had Yin Hui thought he was a member of the Tang Clan, he would have left him to die. However, other slaves were people he shared great camaraderie with. Therefore, he decided to take the boy back to the Tang Clan, and quickly rush back before anyone noticed him.

     

    Unfortunately, he was caught and was to be executed for returning without completing his task. Luckily for him, the boy he saved was actually one of the Tang Clan's young masters, Tang Li. Tang Li vouched for Yin Hui, informing the elders that Yin Hui saved his life, which resulted in the sentence being retracted. 

     

    Ever since then, Yin Hui and Tang Li became close friends. Tang Li often protecting Yin Hui from threats by the other Tang Clan members and their vassals such as Tao Shou.

     

    When Yin Hui finished swapping his robes, Tang Li ordered the slaves to gather their supplies and return to the clan. As Yin Hui gathered his belongings and was about to leave, Tang Li signalled towards him.

     

    Yin Hui hesitated, but eventually followed, noting the serious expression on Tang Li’s face.

     

    “Tang Li, what’s going on? You know how annoyed the supervisors can get when these sacks aren’t returned on time.”

     

    They walked further into the excavation site, passing untouched statues made of jade and other precious metals.

     

    "I've found an opportunity that could potentially change your life for the better. Forever."

     

    "What opportunity?" Yin Hui asked.

     

    "An opportunity to free yourself from the life of a slave, to become an immortal!"

  • Chapter 2: Yin Clan Ancestral Burial Grounds

    Immortals were not immortal in the literal sense. Instead, they were cultivators of spiritual qi energy, which when properly integrated with a person's body and soul, gave them heaven-defying powers and the ability to cast daoist spells. 


    The flaming whip used by Tao Shou was a weapon made using spiritual energy. It was imbued with a flame spell that allowed it to spontaneously ignite flames when striking. Spiritual qi could also be channeled through the body as well, making it more resilient. This was how Tang Li was able to hold the whip's flames directly without receiving any injuries.


    Tang Li took Yin Hui deeper and deeper into the excavation site. As they kept walking, the statues made out of jade and other precious metals were replaced with thousands of tombstones. Some were more unique than others, but they all shared one thing in common, each belonged to a person with the surname Yin.


    These were the Yin Clan Ancestral Burial Grounds.


    "We're here" Tang Li said stopping before an old shrine.


    The shrine was covered in moss and showed signs of decay. However, there was a lingering aura of power that gave it a majestic feel.


    When Tang Li and Yin Hui walked inside, they saw a large jade pillar with 6 runes inscribed in a circle. The pillar exuded a power identical to the one outside, but magnified to the point where a faint pressure could be felt. While the shrine surrounding it was visibly impacted by the passage of time, the jade pillar seemed completely unaffected. The runes embedded within were vibrant, and it's luster surface was so clean and smooth reflections could be seen off it. 


    "What is this?" Yin Hui gaped in awe.


    "It's your clan's ancestral tablet. Rumor has it that your ancestor was a powerful cultivator on the level of the primordial gods that rule over the heavens. After reaching the apex of cultivation he imbued his knowledge onto this jade pillar, hoping that one of his descendants could also rise to a similar level of greatness." 


    Tang Li spoke with great fanaticism when describing the Yin ancestor. While the Yin Clan had fallen, the rumors surrounding the Yin ancestor were well known and believed by many. Being an eager young cultivator, Tang Li respected the Yin Clan ancestor immensely and aspired for the same level of greatness as him.


    "Unfortunately, the secrets of the tablet are impossible to unravel. Our clan has tried for months  since we discovered it, but the only thing that we have been able to take advantage of is the vast amounts of high quality spirit energy that permeates from the tablet."


    Tang Li turned towards Yin Hui and put his hands on Yin Hui's shoulders.


    "However! I believe it might be different for you! Yin Hui, as a member of the Yin Clan there's a possibility for you to receive the inheritance of your ancestor and become an immortal!"


    Yin Hui shook his head and was about to explain when laughter was heard from behind. Two people stood at the doorway to the shrine, one of them missing an ear. The man with both ears intact had a face similar to Tang Li, but looked much older and more mature. Beside him was Tao Shou, looking quite pitiful due to the asymmetry caused by his missing left ear.


    "Tang Jiao…" Tang Li frowned


    Tang Jiao scraped his boots on the worn down tiles as he walked inside, purposefully leaving behind bits of dirt with each step.


    "Little brother, you spoil this slave too much. He may have saved you once, but have you already forgotten? This boy is a child is an ill omen cursed by the heavens!"


    "When he was born a divine tribulation was cast upon the entire Yin Clan. The strongest clan of the region was crippled in a single night, all of them stripped of their cultivation and reduced to mere mortals!"


    Tang Jiao spoke as if he was the narrator of a play, but if one listened carefully they could tell his voice contained nothing but mockery and ridicule.


    "They tried again and again to restore their cultivation, but the spiritual energy rejected them. It was as if the heavens had cursed their bloodline, preventing a single Yin Clan member from gathering spiritual energy ever again.


    "When the enemies of the Yin Clan found out about this, many of them mobilized their forces and laid waste to the clan. The entire clan was nearly exterminated, with a handful of survivors being taken in as slaves. Of course, this was only done to further shame the clan over actual mercy."


    Tang Jiao looked at Yin Hui and smiled, pointing his finger towards him.


    "A proud clan that once ruled over tens of thousands was brought down due to the birth of this trash. If I were him I would have already dug out my eyes and died a quiet death."


    "Tang Li, even though you know this, you still decided to bring him here. You think this crippled brat will really be able to unlock the pillars secrets?"


    "He is a member of the Yin Clan, perhaps the secrets can only be passed down through the descendents." Tang Li argued.


    Tang Jiao shrugged his shoulders.


    "Hmph, all I was doing was trying to give my younger brother some advice. If you will not accept my good intentions so be it. However, this brat provoked my servant!"


    "It was I who cut off his ear, he is not to blame." Tang Li stepped in front of Yin Hui.


    "Father would not be pleased if we fought, so I will not make things difficult for you little brother. On the other hand, justice still needs to be served. Why don't we have our respective servants settle things themselves then?"


    "Don't speak nonsense! Tao Shou is a cultivator in the Spirit Waking realm. Do you not feel shame in having him bully someone who can't even cultivate?" 


    "Tao Shou has only recently broken through to the Spirit Waking realm. You on the other hand are at its peak, half a step into the Spirit Manifestation realm. Did you not feel shame in bullying a junior almost an entire realm of cultivation below you?"


    Tang Li was silent, in battle of words he was no match for his older brother.


    Yin Hui placed a hand on Tang Li's shoulder.


    "It will only be a small beating, nothing new. If it gets out of control I'll just rely on you to stop it right?"


    Tang Li was silent and gave Yin Hui a serious glance. With Tang Jiao there, Tang Li was uncertain if he could stop the match should it reach a critical point. However, there was no way they were getting out of this without initiating some kind of fight either. Tang Li sighed, turning his head back to Tang Jiao and giving him a small nod.


    "Excellent! I'm glad we have reached an agreement. Tao Shou I've given you an opportunity, use it well."


    "Thank you, young master. This servant will not forget your grace." Tao Shou clasped his hands and bowed


    "Begin." Tang Jiao announced.


    Tao Shou rushed towards Yin Hui, spiritual energy swirling around his fists. When Yin Hui was within reaching distance he struck out with his right palm.


    Spiritual energy passively raised all the bodies attributes based on what realm they were in. Tao Shou's current speed was similar to that of a horse at full gallop, which was something Yin Hui simply could not match.


    Just when the palm was about to reach him, Yin Hui shifted to the side. The palm passed him by a hair's breadth, tearing a small piece off the side of his robe.


    Tao Shou was briefly shocked, but quickly regained his composure.


    "A simple fluke! The next one will leave a hole through your chest!"


    Tao Shou attacked again, sending a flurry of palms in Yin Hui's direction. 


    Like before, each attack was dodged at the last second, leaving Yin Hui completely unharmed.


    "Why can't I hit him!" Tao Shou shouted, preparing another palm.


    This time Yin Hui started running towards Tao Shou. He dodged another palm on the way and leaped over Tao Shou's head, kicking it as he passed.


    If Tao Shou was not a cultivator, this kick would have knocked him unconscious, but instead just caused him minor pain.


    "You think I was just quietly sitting all those times you beat me over the years? I've been studying you, making sure none of your attacks were hitting my vitals. I know where your attacks will go and when to dodge them." 


    Tao Shou was taken aback. He would never have guessed that the countless times he tormented Yin Hui that it would come back to bite him in such a way.


    While Tao Shou was distracted Yin Hui rushed towards him again. When Tao Shou regained his senses, Yin Hui was right in front of him and landed a strong kick between his legs.


    "Ahh!!" Tao Shou howled and collapsed onto the ground. He rolled on the floor with a pained expression on his face, cupping his hands over his family jewels.


    "You may be a cultivator, but I guess even mortals can defeat you if they hit the right spots." Yin Hui smirked


    Tao Shou stumbled as he got up, his hands still covering his most sensitive area. He was infuriated beyond measure. Not only did he lose an ear, he now also potentially lost the key component to expanding his family line.


    "Yin Hui! I will feed your corpse to the dogs!" Tao Shou roared.


    Yin Hui laughed, watching Tao Shou start to sweat from holding back the pain.


    "Very intimidating coming from a man hunched over with both hands between his legs."


    However, Tao Shou did not respond back. His expression calmed as he slowly fell into a stance and retracted his fist. Spiritual energy swirled around his fist once more, but in a different manner, as if the energy was being condensed.


    Tang Li's eyes widened as he saw this


    "Yin Hui stay alert! That's the Wind Bullet! He's not just empowering his fists, he's using a martial skill!" 


    "Too late." Tao Shou bent his knees and shot his fist forward, his body recoiling slightly. The sound of a small cannon could be heard as Yin Hui was forcefully thrown back, his body smashing hard against the shrine walls.


    Only cultivators of the Spirit Waking realm and above had senses refined enough to see the Wind Bullet. To Tang Li and Tang Jiao, the Wind Bullet was a translucent beam of pressurized air coated with spiritual qi.


    Since Yin Hui was not in the Spirit Waking realm, to him it seemed like he was hit by some mysterious invisible force. 


    Yin Hui started to run, but didn't get far as he was quickly hit by another Wind Bullet. He was sent flying into the ancestral tablet and fell to the ground. The force behind the second Wind Bullet was much stronger than the last, fracturing a few of Yin Hui's bones.


    "Time to finish this." There were traces of fatigue on Tao Shou's face as he charged the third Wind Bullet. He had recently learned the technique so three attacks was his limit.


    "Tao Shou, stay your hand! The match has already been decided!" Tang Li took a step forward, preparing to block Tao Shou's attack.


    Tang Jiao smirked and in a flash appeared beside Tang Li, putting his hand on Tang Li's shoulder.


    "Unless you think you can get past me, don't even think about interfering."


    Tang Li cursed under his breath. Tang Jiao was a Spirit Manifestation cultivator, which was an entire realm above Tang Li. Even with his peak Spirit Waking cultivation, the gap between the two was enormous.


    Seeing that this was the end, Yin Hui turned to face his clans ancestral tablet. He looked at the 7 runic carvings engraved in the pillar with a look of regret.


    "If only I wasn't crippled at birth, maybe things could have been a lot different." He thought to himself


    While Yin Hui was analyzing the pillar one of the runes caught his eye. He positioned himself closer to get a better look and found that it was of an eye.


    The eye radiated a sort of fierceness, and upon further inspection Yin Hui found that it looked identical to his. Suddenly, the eye moved, looking towards him as if it came to life. It paused for a second before emitting a golden beam of light that shot directly into Yin Hui's eyes. Simultaneously, the jade pillar also began to glow a bright gold color.


    Tang Li and Tang Jiao noticed this change and shock filled their eyes.


    "Is that cripple really getting a reaction from the jade pillar?" Tang Jiao pondered.


    At the same time, Tao Shou finished charging the Wind Bullet to maximum power. He seemed oblivious to the change in the jade pillar and punched forward. A jet of pressurized air that seemed to be capable of taking down a fully grown tree shot towards Yin Hui.


    As the Wind Bullet sped towards Yin Hui, his body started to glow gold. A loud bang was heard as the Wind Bullet made contact. The shockwave produced by it caused the roof above to collapse, and the tiles below to break into a cloud of dust.


    As the roof began to descend on them, Tang Jiao threw out a punch. It produced a shockwave even more powerful than the Wind Bullet and shattered the falling debris.


    When the dust cleared, the tablet was completely unharmed, surrounded by broken moss covered ceramic.


    "Yin Hui!" Tang Li ran forward and waved his hand. A strong gust of wind appeared and blew away the rubble surrounding the Yin Clan tablet.


    Yin Hui was nowhere to be found. His body had completely vanished, not even leaving a single drop of blood.

  • Chapter 3: Yin Tou

    When Yin Hui regained his senses, he found himself in a space that resembled an endless void. Aside from him and the vast nothingness, there was also a gray statue of an old man a few feet away.


    "Am I dead?" Yin Hui wondered. The last thing he remembered was Tao Shou firing the Wind Bullet towards him, as well as a golden light from one of the runes on the ancestral tablet shooting into his eyes. Two possible outcomes immediately popped into Yin Hui's mind. Either he was dead and this was the afterlife, or he was transported to a hidden space inside the tablet! Yin Hui's eyes locked onto the statue a few feet away and began to move towards it, if there was an answer, the statue was the key.


    Despite having no floor to walk on, Yin Hui felt solid contact with each step. The texture of the floor was smooth and stable, but when he bent down to touch it, his hand passed right through. Considering his experience with cultivators he did not bother to question the oddity of this phenomena, and continued walking forward until he reached the statue.


    The statue was of an old man with long hair wearing an extremely extravagant robe. A fierce expression was carved onto his face, and he was pointing towards the sky as if he were commanding the heavens.


    "Are you god? Or are you my ancestor?." Yin Hui asked the statue.


    "Hehe… God? Ancestor? How about both!" The voice came from the statue, but did not possess the authority and majesty befitting of a god. Instead, it sounded very sly and mischievous like a trickster.


    A ball of light emerged from the statue and stopped in front of Yin Hui. It materialized into a spectral elderly man whose features were identical to the statue. The old man had a crooked smile on his face, which coupled with a pair of shifty narrow eyes made him look like a swindler. However, a deep ferocity could be seen within those narrow slits for eyes, a ferocity that was exactly like Yin Hui's!


    "Congratulations kid! You're the first of my descendants to be worthy enough to enter my domain and awaken me! What is your name?" The ghost cheerily asked.


    "..."


    Seeing Yin Hui's silence, the ghost sighed and shook his head, but still retained a large wide smile on his face.


    "Kid. Don't you think that it's a bit rude to not introduce yourself to your ancestor?"


    Yin Hui was not a very sociable person. Being raised a slave for most of his life caused him to develop a cautious personality. This meant choosing his words carefully and to always think twice before acting. He had never really met or talked to a family member before, especially an ancestor, and momentarily forgot how to respond.


    "My name is Yin Hui." 


    "Yin Hui. Good good, I feel like this is a name I will never forget. As for me, I am your ancestor, the great Yin Tou!" Yin Tou pointed to the statue behind him as he introduced himself, posing in the same manner as the statue.


    Yin Hui stared at the posing ghost who called himself Yin Tou with a puzzled expression. He found it hard to believe that this cheery eccentric old man was really the all-powerful ancestor Tang Li told him about.


    "Anyways, your not dead. In fact, you could say that you've received a great fortune instead! Now, enlighten this old man on your current cultivation level."


    "I'm a cripple, I don't have any." Yin Hui lowered his head in disappointment.


    Yin Tou laughed loudly.


    "Ah kid, you tell very good jokes. How could a descendant of mine who has been chosen by the formation I put on that tablet not have an extraordinary cultivation base?"


    Yin Hui contemplated the thought. If he truly did have no capability to cultivate, why would the ancestral tablet let him through? According to Tang Li, his ancestor was an apex cultivator, with the strength to accomplish anything. If this was the case, perhaps he also had the ability to restore his ability to cultivate as well.


    "Well, it doesn't really matter. Now that you're here, I will bestow upon you my inheritance. You should be grateful boy, for you shall have the honor of becoming the new vessel of the great Yin Tou!"


    Before Yin Hui could react, Yin Tou's spirit charged into his body. Yin Hui's eyes immediately clouded and his body began to emit a white aura. He collapsed onto the ground, twisting in pain as he slowly loss consciousness.


    After a few moments the aura began to die down. When it finally dissipated Yin Hui slowly stood up, clenching his palms and examining his body.


    "Haha! Finally! After countless years, I, Yin Tou, have finally regained flesh!"


    Yin Tou was ecstatic. Using Yin Hui's body, he began to jog around the empty void, striking poses and throwing punches in the air. While he could still do all of these things in his spirit form, possessing actual flesh added a new feeling to his actions. 


    To the average person, it would seem that Yin Tou was just fooling around like a child who received a new toy. While this was true, if one looked carefully they would also be able to tell that he was also testing the strengths and weaknesses of his new body.


    "Heh, I knew there was something unique about you boy. While you indeed have no cultivation your body is completely devoid of mortal toxins that new cultivators need to cleanse before they can fully utilize spirit qi. Even a cultivator who has dedicated their whole life to the first step of cultivation, the Impurity Cleansing realm, would not be able to achieve this. This body is simply something that only a true chosen could be born with!" Yin Tou was very pleased with his new vessel. With such a great foundation and the rich spiritual qi that surrounded his domain, it would take no time at all to reach the peak of the Spirit Waking realm, not even the Spirit Manifestation realm would be too difficult.


    "Since this body is essentially already equal to a peak Impurity Cleansing cultivator, all I need to do is absorb a strand of spiritual energy to break into the Spirit Waking realm. Don't worry boy, I'll be sure to get revenge on that Tao Shou brat for you once I get out of this place. Haha, perhaps I'll even use his own technique to do it!"


    Despite Yin Tou possessing Yin Hui's body, he had not fully integrated with it yet. Therefore, Yin Hui's soul still resided within his body, but in a suppressed state. This allowed Yin Tou to access a bit of Yin Hui's memories and understand what was currently going on in the outside world. However, it also meant that Yin Hui could see and hear everything that Yin Tou was doing with his body as well.


    Yin Tou sat down in a cross-legged position and closed his eyes. As he meditated, the dense spiritual qi that was present in the void began to converge towards him. The qi entered Yin Hui's body and began to circulate. However, at the critical point of integration the qi scattered and shot out of his body. Shocked, Yin Tou tried once more to integrate the qi with Yin Hui's body, but the spiritual energy rejected him again.


    "Argh! Your really a cripple! What kind of joke is this? A perfect foundation, but spiritual energy completely rejects it!" Yin Tou was exasperated. While he did hear Tang Jiao retelling the story of the Yin Clan through Yin Hui's memories he did not believe it. Even if it was true, Yin Tou believed that the tribulation only affected the soul and not the body, in which case he would still be able to utilize Yin Hui's perfect foundation.


    Infuriated, Yin Tou threw a huge tantrum. With nothing else around, he kicked the leg of his own statue to alleviate his anger. When he did, he instantly recoiled in pain.


    "Gah, I forgot that this statue is still partly tied to my spirit so if it gets hurt so do I. Forget this, rather have no body at all then be in the body of some useless cripple." Yin Tou closed his eyes and Yin Hui's body began to emit the same white aura as before. Yin Tou's spirit exited Yin Hui's body and materialized once more with a displeased expression on his face. 


    When Yin Hui recovered he was incredibly angry. He stared at Yin Tou with fierce hate filled eyes that would've scared off a pack of hungry tigers.


    "Don't give me that look brat. Turns out your useless to me so go run along and enjoy your boring life as a slave. I'm sure there are other more worthy descendants still lingering around that will find this place eventually, but you won't do." Yin Tou snorted. He pointed his finger towards the void and a portal opened up, revealing the destroyed shrine with Tang Li, Tang Jiao, and Tao Shou looking around for Yin Hui.


    "What about my inheritance!" Yin Hui objected, gritting his teeth.


    "There is no inheritance! Even if there was, it would be for me not you! The whole point was simply to get another body compatible with mine so I could be revived. I could tell while in your body that you inherited my eyes and that was probably why the formation accepted you, but there's nothing I can do with the body of a crippled brat!"


    Yin Hui reached out and attempted to punch Yin Tou straight in the face, but his fist simply passed right through his ghostly head.


    "I thought you were just a cripple, but it looks like your also an idiot. Hurry up and leave already boy." Yin Tou took a few steps away from Yin Hui and sat down, entering a state of meditation.


    However, Yin Hui was not leaving without some kind of revenge. His entire life was filled with grudges. He wanted revenge against the heavens for crippling him and his clan. He wanted revenge against the Tang Clan for making him a slave and mistreating him. The heavens and the Tang Clan were currently beyond reach, but he was definitely not letting Yin Tou off the hook. Yin Hui recalled all the things Yin Tou did while possessing his body and an idea lit up in his head. He turned towards Yin Tou's statue and an evil grin appeared on his face.

  • Chapter 4: Shaking Down A Swindler

    Outside the tablet's hidden domain, Tang Li, Tang Jiao, and Tao Shou were inspecting the ancestral tablet, trying to find out where Yin Hui went.


    "Yin Hui get out here! I'm not leaving until I see your corpse at my feet!" Tao Shou shouted, kicking the tablet in frustration.


    Tang Li let out a breath of relief, but still felt worried. Based on what he saw, Yin Hui seemed to be transported somewhere by the Yin Clan's ancestral tablet. Teleportation spells were one of the most dangerous spells a mortal could be exposed to. The immense speed their bodies are subject to during transport could easily reduce them to a pile of flesh and blood before they even reach their destination. 


    While the thought of Yin Hui dying to failed teleportation worried Tang Li, he was even more fearful of what would happen if he came back. Tao Shou had recovered his spiritual energy and was still bloodlusted. If Yin Hui returned without some kind of hidden ace, he would stand no chance. On top of that, there was also Tang Jiao, who stood next to him with a sinister smile on his face.


    "What are you so happy about?"


    Tang Jiao turned his head towards his younger brother, still wearing the same wicked grin.


    "If that slave returns, rest assured I will not let Tao Shou kill him. After all, he's the first one to ever get a reaction from the jade pillar. I just wonder what father will do to that slave once I tell him of this. Perhaps I will bring him back to the palace and present him myself." 


    "You dare?!" Tang Li drew his sword and swung at Tang Jiao.


    "Young master Tang Jiao!" Tao Shou cried. While Tao Shou was concerned for Tang Jiao, he knew that there was nothing he could do to stop Tang Li. Even if he charged the Wind Bullet to its maximum power, it would do little more than make Tang Li take a few steps back.


    When Tang Li's sword was mere centimeters away from Tang Jiao, an ethereal arm emerged from behind Tang Jiao's shadow and grabbed it. Tang Li attempted to withdraw his sword, but it didn't budge under the grip of the arm's hand.


    "The ethereal spirit of a Spirit Manifestation cultivator…" Tao Shou stared in awe.


    "Seems like I can afford to teach you a lesson after all little brother. I'm sure father won't mind a little scuffle once I inform him that Yin Hui has the ability to access the pillar. With father's personality, I bet he will refine that boy's soul into a puppet. Of course, not before torturing him for the method to unlock the pillar and taking whatever inheritance he might have received.


    "Tang Jiao don't you dare tell father about this!" Tang Li shouted, while trying to move his sword.


    "If you can beat me, I'll do whatever you want. I'll even make things easier for you and fight on equal terms." The ethereal hand holding Tang Li's sword dissipated and Tang Jiao took a giant leap back. He tapped his own bag of holding attached to his waist and took out a decorated short sword similar to Tang Li's.


    "Last time we fought you were grovelling after 30 moves. Hopefully, now you can last at least 40!" 


    Tang Jiao brandished his sword and dashed forward towards Tang Li, that sinister smile never left his face.


    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    "All right! All right! I apologise! This old man was wrong. Just please stop!"


    Back in the spatial realm within the pillar, Yin Hui was taking out his anger on Yin Tou's statue. The statue was Yin Tou's current vessel, so if it was harmed so was he. 


    "This is for stealing my body you damned geezer." Yin Hui threw a barrage of hard punches towards the statues nose. Yin Tou was rolling on the ground in pain, covering his face with both of his ghostly hands as each punch was reflected back onto him. Under the assault of Yin Hui's punches, the nose of the statue started to crack, which meant Yin Tou's nose had cracked as well. These cracks were only temporary as Yin Tou would simply use the rich spiritual energy around them to heal the cracks and himself. Unfortunately for him, this just allowed Yin Hui to repeatedly break the same parts as many times as he wanted, leading to an endless cycle of torment.


    "Argh! That's the 4th time you broke my nose!"


    "Shut up." Yin Hui moved down to the statues neck and threw a straight jab right to the statues throat.


    Yin Tou wrapped his hands around his throat and began to cough. If he wasn't a ghost right now he would have already coughed out a pool of blood.


    "That's it brat you've finally pushed it! I'm forcibly sending you back!" Yin Tou pointed to the ground beneath Yin Hui and the portal to the shrine began to open once more.


    "If I am then your coming with me!" Yin Hui climbed to the top of the statue and quickly broke off some pieces, throwing them into the emerging portal.


    "Wait stop!" Yin Tou quickly closed the portal. As he did, Yin Hui threw a hard punch to the top of his head. 


    "Either you give me a method to cultivate, or this is going to continue for eternity!" 


    "I can't! Your a crip--- Ahh!!" Yin Hui climbed down the statue and sent a strong kick towards Yin Tou's two most prized possessions.


    "Call me a cripple again and I'll break these pieces off at least 10 times. Your supposed to be an all powerful cultivator right? I'm sure you have something."


    Yin Tou looked down with a face of pain and embarrassment, letting out the same shameless smile he had when he first appeared.


    "About that… You see, most of my memories are sealed away inside this tablet. The only reason I awakened is because you inherited my eyes and unlocked one of the seals." Yin Tou explained while covering his two most prized possessions.


    "Each of the seals corresponds to a part of me that contains some of my power. Right now I only have the eyes unlocked, so I can only utilize techniques I have physically seen that don't require any hard comprehension or a high cultivation base."


    Yin Hui's face turned red with anger, he could not take more of this old man's shameless and disappointing character. He turned towards the statue once more, lifting his leg up in the air.


    "Wait wait! Just because I don't have my former cultivation base or my arsenal of spells doesn't mean I haven't seen anything in the past that could help!" Yin Tou said hastily.


    Yin Hui put his leg down and turned around, this time with a wide smile on his face. Yin Tou gulped when he saw this smile.


    "With just my eyes, I can reproduce most body reconstruction rituals since those are purely done through physical step-by-step instructions." 


    "And can any of those techniques reform my body so I can cultivate even with a cursed soul?" Yin Hui asked with an endearing expression. 


    Yin Tou looked at Yin Hui's 'endearing' face and shuddered with fear. He closed his eyes and carefully recalled all the body reformation rituals he had in his visual memory, making sure to find the right one for Yin Hui. After a few minutes, Yin Tou started to sweat. While he had seen multiple rituals throughout his life, most required special materials which he didn't have access to. Eventually, he found one that was suitable, but it was a demonic technique with a very low success rate that could kill the target if it failed.


    "The success rate of this technique is abysmal, but it's the only one I can replicate with these limiting circumstances…" 


    Yin You turned towards Yin Hui, almost afraid to give him the news that he only found one possible method that could potentially even kill him.


    "Uhh, kid, I mean, my beloved descendant Yin Hui. I have found a method, but it's success rate is low. It's a demonic technique, and if it fails there's a chance you might even die."


    Yin Hui sighed, he knew that with his current restrictions and Yin Tou's incomplete knowledge that the solution would not be easy. However, if he didn't obtain some kind of method to cultivate, he would get slaughtered as soon as he left by Tao Shou and Tang Jiao who were waiting outside.


    "I don't care if it's a demonic technique, the heaven's themselves have already made it clear they reject me. Even if the success rate is low, are the chances lower than what was done to me at birth? Let's do it." Yin Hui declared solemnly.


    Yin Tou was slightly moved by Yin Hui's declaration, but it quickly passed as another scheming thought popped up in his mind.


    "Wait a minute. If this brat dies, then he won't be able to bother me anymore. If he lives, then he'll stop bothering me and owe me a favor! It's a win-win situation! Haha! Even as just a portion of my true self this old man is simply too clever."


    Yin Tou drifted closer to Yin Hui with a new demeanor full of life and enthusiasm. 


    "I admire your courage Yin Hui! As your ancestor, I am pleased that my chosen descendant has been born with such a tenacious personality!"


    Yin Hui scoffed at his ancestors praises.


    "Cut the bullsh*t you old swindler. I know that whether this method succeeds or not you benefit. Regardless, if we succeed I will still repay you despite your malicious intentions."


    Yin Tou let out a wry smile. Turns out the brat wasn't as foolish as he initially thought. 


    "Well, erm, I guess we can start right away then. The name of this technique is called the Evil Fiend Devouring Technique."


    "Evil Fiend Devouring Technique?" Yin Hui narrowed his eyes.


    "Based on what I've seen, it involves reconstructing your body into that of a fiend. Doing so will also rid your body of the curse done to it by the heaven's. Once that is done, you can use the Evil Fiend Devouring Technique to consume other cultivators souls and cultivation making them your own. Since you cannot integrate spiritual energy with your own soul, you will instead be using the souls stored in your body by the technique!"


    "Are there any drawbacks?" Yin Hui asked.


    "Since your effectively consuming another's soul, you will have full control over it as if it were an empty husk. However, doing so also means that it cannot get stronger either due to being only a subsidiary soul. So whatever cultivation the owner had before being consumed would be the maximum cultivation you can utilize from it."


    "That is fine, there are plenty of ways to get around that. All I need is the ability to interact with spirit energy. We can start whenever you're ready." 


    "About that…" Yin Tou cupped his hands together and a sly, bashful smile appeared on his face.


    "What is it now…" Yin Hui rolled his eyes.


    "For the entire process, I'll need to be in control of your body again..."

  • Chapter 5: Obtaining a Fiend Body

    Yin Hui's body was sweating vigorously throughout the process of body reformation. Body reformation or body reconstruction required the original body to slowly be refined cell by cell, this way the soul could memorize the features of the original and retain its form for the new body. Even for cultivators, this was an extremely painful process, especially when done without any medicinal pills or healing formations. 


    Furthermore, the process for turning one's body into a fiend was extra challenging, as it required the conversion of normal qi to demonic qi to craft the body.


    Demonic qi itself was highly unstable, eroding and consuming all things that weren't related to it. This was what made the fiend transformation process risky, as there was a chance the demonic energy could get out of control and devour the body mid-way.


    Despite initially being irritated that he had to lend Yin Tou his body a second time, Yin Hui knew he had no other choice. While Yin Tou was a mischievous trickster of many schemes, he looked completely serious during the reformation process. He had split his spirit into two halves, one half was possessing Yin Hui's body, while the other was connected to the statue providing external help. Not a single movement was wasted as he coordinated with his second half, one side holding back the demonic qi from devouring Yin Hui's body, and the other progressing the reformation.


    The half of Yin Tou's spirit not merged with Yin Hui's body looked very tired, appearing more and more transparent as if he were fading. Splitting his soul and having them perform different tasks, while conducting a very risky body reformation with no materials was extremely taxing on him. If he had at least one more seal unlocked, he could've had the strength to set up special formations to stabilize the process. Unfortunately he didn't, so Yin Tou had to remain extra vigilant as the slightest mistake could have dire consequences. On top of all this, because Yin Tou was currently the main soul controlling Yin Hui's body, he was the one feeling all the pain that came with the refinement.


    Yin Hui was silent, not wanting to disrupt Yin Tou's concentration. As the procedure went along, Yin Hui actually started to feel bad for his ancestor. Watching Yin Tou exert himself so much to reconstruct his body, while also resisting the pain of the refinement made his heart ache a bit.  Although Yin Tou had lied to him many times and even cheated him out of his body, he seemed to be genuinely trying his best to help Yin Hui reconstruct his body. 


    Time moved slowly in the tablet's dimension, what seemed like hours inside was actually only minutes in the outside world. 


    After about a day and a half of intense concentration, the Yin Tou not possessing Yin Hui twitched his hands slightly from the strain. As soon as he did, the half-transmuted demonic qi he was converting started spiraling out of control. A significant portion escaped and took the shape of several black ghosts that converged upon Yin Hui's body, attempting to devour it.


    "Sh*t, kid! You have to maintain the demonic qi inside your body yourself! I need to put more energy into my clone so it can reassert control!" Yin Tou shouted frantically.


    "How do I do that?" Yin Hui asked through his thoughts. Because Yin Tou was not suppressing his soul like he did in the first possession, Yin Hui could communicate with him using his mind.


    "Maintain a balance of emotions! Demonic qi interacts with your body based on negative emotions, so as long as you keep a proper balance you can prevent it from devouring you!"


    Yin Tou quickly left Yin Hui's body and merged his two halves. He weaved a few hand signs and a strong pressure filled the dimension. The incomplete demonic qi began to converge back towards Yin Tou. He waved his hands and several seals were applied, preventing it from escaping again.


    "Alright kid! Everything's back under control! I'll separate my soul again and--- what?"


    When Yin Tou turned his attention back to Yin Hui his jaw fell. Yin Hui was sitting in a state of complete tranquility, demonic qi swirling around him in a smooth, disciplined manner. The black ghosts initially attempting to devour him were now arranged in a uniform circle around Yin Hui, chanting some sort of spell that caused him to emit a black aura. Not only were the ghosts and true demonic qi completely tame, they were also progressing the refinement process on their own!


    Yin Tou let out a hearty laugh.


    "I'm starting to like this Yin Hui kid! Reminds me of myself... I think. What was I like again?"


    Seeing Yin Hui was alright, Yin Tou sat down, allowing the exhaustion he was suppressing for so long set in. He watched eagerly as the ghosts and demonic qi surrounding Yin Hui slowly reformed his body to that of a fiend.


    Yin Hui was calm as he felt the demonic qi course through his entire being. He was no stranger to controlling his emotions and effortlessly subdued the demonic qi and ghosts when Yin Tou left. At the same time, Yin Hui also found out that with his mastery over his emotions, he could take it a step further and command the qi as well. Remembering the way Yin Tou was directing the qi for the body reformation, Yin Hui commanded the demonic qi to do the same. The ghosts were much harder to control, but eventually they submitted and without instruction, created a formation that stabilized the refinement.


    After a couple hours, the demonic qi stabilized and dissipated along with ghosts. Yin Hui stood up. His body was dyed in black and his facial features were completely hidden. A few minutes later, cracks began to appear and light, flesh colored skin peeked out from underneath. The black shell surrounding his body shattered and Yin Hui's body was now fully visible. His appearance was nearly identical to what he looked like before the reconstruction, retaining his handsome features. However, his black hair had grown to the center of his back and his irises turned from black to a deep dark purple. 


    Yin Hui walked up to Yin Tou's weak spirit for an evaluation. Yin Tou examined Yin Hui's body and nodded in approval. It was a perfect reconstruction. Aside from the appearance, there were no traces of the original body left, including the curse placed by the heaven's. A demonic aura filled the spatial domain, creating a cold and dreadful atmosphere. After the reformation, the rich spiritual energy that permeated from the dimension decreased by almost 20%, allowing the demonic aura to be further emphasized.


    "That was a lot of work, but of course since it was me the results were perfect. I must admit that you surprised this old man when you controlled that demonic qi. If you didn't, the process would've taken another 2 days. Maybe your not so useless after all! Now there's only one thing left to do to fulfill my end of the deal, and that's to get you your first soul." Yin Tou said weakly. He slowly raised his finger towards the void and a portal to the outside opened up once more.


    ---------------------------------------------------------------------


    Back at the shrine, the sound of clashing metal could be heard as Tang Li and Tang Jiao traded blows. Tang Jiao was completely unharmed, his robes in perfect condition as he swung his sword with grace and precision. In contrast, Tang Li looked quite pitiful. He had a bright red cut on his face and his robes had various tears and holes in them. 


    "I believe we're at 30 moves now, good job! Last time you reached 30, you were on the ground and covered in blood! At least this time your still on your feet!" Tang Jiao laughed. 


    Tang Li was exhausted, but didn't show it. He knew his brother liked to gloat a lot, if he could catch him off guard during one of his moments it would allow him to deliver a decisive blow. He watched as Tang Jiao's sword lowered just a tiny fraction out of position and charged out, channeling all his spiritual energy into his legs. 


    "I suppose the only way you could possibly damage me is if my guard is down. However---" Tang Jiao cut his sentence off when he saw Tang Li rushing towards him with his sword, aiming a horizontal strike towards his center. 


    "Slicing Wind Strike!" Tang Li shouted. The Slicing Wind Strike was a martial skill that involved swords. The user would coat their blade with a thin layer of spiritual qi which contained the element of wind. The layer of wind would repel all forms of air resistance on the blade, allowing the user to multiply the speed of their swing as if they were literally slicing through the wind.


    Knowing he had no time to build up momentum for a rush of his own, Tang Jiao quickly moved into a defensive stance. He held his sword tightly with both hands. 


    "Damn it! There's no time for me to counter with my own martial skill."


    When Tang Jiao was within range, Tang Li unleashed a slash so fast that mortals would say it was invisible. Tang Jiao slashed forward as well, but it was obvious the speed of his attack paled in comparison to the Slicing Wind Strike. Both of them paused after the clash, waiting to see who was the true victor of that decisive confrontation.


    Putt~


    Tang Li dropped a knee on the ground, grasping the side of his stomach with one hand while coughing out blood. 


    "You shameless bastard..." Tang Li croaked.


    Tang Jiao stood up, flourishing his sword to get rid of the blood staining its edge. An ethereal armored torso had overlapped over his own torso, protecting him from Tang Li's attack.


    "Too bad little brother. I must admit your timing was impeccable. If you were in the Spirit Manifestation realm and had your ethereal spirit unleash that attack, I might have been seriously injured."


    Tang Jiao put his boot on top of Tang Li's arched back with an expression of triumph. He was about to say something when he heard a scream come from behind. 


    It was Tao Shou. A portal had opened up in the Yin Clan tablet and an attraction force was pulling him inside.


    "Young master Tang Jiao save me!" Tao Shou screamed frantically, flailing as he flew into the portal.


    Running towards the tablet, Tang Jiao extended his arm and an attraction force of his own began to pull Tao Shou out of the portal. Unfortunately, right as he did, the attraction force of the portal instantly tripled in retaliation, sucking Tao Shou inside. By the time, Tang Jiao reached the tablet the portal had already closed.


    Tang Jiao cursed under his breath. He wasn't angry because he failed to saved Tao Shou, but because he didn't make it in time to venture into the portal himself.

  • I really like this story so far. Looking forward to more of it and to the next updates as well.
  • edited November 2019
    Haha thanks for your support! I'm glad you enjoy it!
  • Chapter 6: The Spark of a Flame That Will Ignite The Heavens

    Unlike Yin Hui, when Tao Shou emerged from the portal and into the ancestral tablet's hidden dimension he was fully conscious. He looked around and frowned when he saw that there was nothing but an empty void surrounding him.


    "Well, well, well. It looks like the one-eared bootlicker has arrived." A youthful voice called out.


    Tao Shou turned his head towards the voice's direction and saw a familiar face standing in the distance.


    "Yin Hui!" 


    Out of pure instinct, Tao Shou rushed Yin Hui with a bloodlusted expression, spiritual energy flaring around his fists. This time, Yin Hui did not try to dodge. As Tao Shou threw out a punch laced with spirit energy, the corners of Yin Hui's mouth perked up into a smile. He raised his arm and at the moment of contact blocked Tao Shou's punch with his palm.


    "Impossible!" Tao Shou cried.


    Tao Shou pulled back his fist and staggered backwards, shock covering his face. His bloodlusted madness subsided, and he stared at Yin Hui as if he'd seen a ghost. The Yin Hui that stood before him was completely different from before. His hair had grown long and his irises had turned a dark purple. If it wasn't for the familiar ferocity he felt from Yin Hui's eyes staring deep into his soul, he would've assumed he was dealing with another person entirely.


    "I remember you saying that you would feed my corpse to the dogs. If that's the case then let's see if you can do so!"


    With Tao Shou in his dazed state, Yin Hui took the opportunity to deliver a hard punch right into his abdomen. He followed it up with a strong thrust kick that sent Tao Shou flying.


    Tao Shou hit the ground hard, putting 10 meters of distance between him and Yin Hui. He was completely dumbfounded, trying to comprehend everything that had just happened in that brief exchange.


    "What happened to you?! It's only been two hours since you disappeared! How are you so powerful!"


    Yin Hui showed no emotion, but in his mind he was shocked.


    "Only 2 hours had passed in the outside world? I could've sworn that the body reformation took at least a day and a half. Does time pass differently in this dimension?" Yin Hui pondered.


    Tao Shou coughed out a mouthful of blood as he laid on the ground in complete disbelief. It had only been a little under two hours since Yin Hui disappeared. Yet, in such a short amount of time he had become strong enough to injure him to the point that he was coughing out blood. 


    "Regardless, it doesn't matter! I do not believe you have advanced enough to defend against this!"


    Tao Shou quickly got back up and assumed the stance of the Wind Bullet. Even if Yin Hui's body had grown stronger, Tao Shou was fairly certain that he still did not possess spiritual energy. Nonetheless, he decided to test the waters by starting off with low power. With the rich amounts of spiritual energy that surrounded the hidden dimension, Tao Shou took no time at all to charge the Wind Bullet to its lowest intensity and instantly fired.


    Since Yin Hui did not have a separate soul to house spiritual energy yet, he still could not see the Wind Bullet. The pressurized wind hit him right in the chest, but did not send him flying back like before. The force from the low-power Wind Bullet made him take a couple steps back, but otherwise he was unharmed.


    "I knew it, he still can't see the Wind Bullet! That means he is definitely not in the Spirit Waking realm! However, low power seems to have no effect, so this time I'll go right to high!


    Tao Shou began charging the Wind Bullet once more. Yin Hui saw this and dashed towards Tao Shou, intending the interrupt him midway. When Yin Hui was just a couple steps away from Tao Shou, the corners of Tao Shou's mouth curled up. 


    "You have fallen for my trap Yin Hui! Die!" Tao Shou shot his fist directly into Yin Hui's torso and released the Wind Bullet at point blank range. Yin Hui coughed out blood as he was sent flying 50 meters backwards from the attack. 


    Tao Shou saw Yin Hui's motionless body hit the ground with a look of satisfaction.


    "Strange, the power behind that seemed a lot weaker then what I put into it. While the rich spiritual energy surrounding this place allows me to charge the Wind Bullet quickly, there is something else as well that's weakening its power. Whatever, that doesn't matter. Now that he's down, I can charge up to maximum power and finish him off!"


    As Tao Shou prepared to final Wind Bullet, he heard laughter coming from Yin Hui.


    "I'd like to see you keep laughing once I render you to a bloody corpse Yin Hui!" Tao Shou sneered.


    "Tao Shou, you've never been exposed to demonic qi before have you?" Yin Hui laughed.


    "Demonic qi?"


    Even though Yin Hui now had the body of a fiend, he was still not Tao Shou's match. However, due to large amounts of demonic qi lingering after the fiend transformation process, the strength of normal spiritual energy was being suppressed. Since Yin Hui was a fiend he was completely unaffected, while Tao Shou was actually getting weaker!


    "Hmph, so you've rejected the path of the heavens and have chosen to walk the path of the devil. This demonic qi of yours may be weakening me, but my full power should still be enough to eradicate you!" Tao Shou snorted.


    "I agree, but who said that I would allow that attack to reach me?"


    Tao Shou narrowed his eyes and saw that Yin Hui was holding a round clump of darkness with countless seals placed on it. Slightly concerned, he focused even more power into the final Wind Bullet, believing that the clump was some kind of defensive technique related to demonic qi.


    However, Tao Shou's eyes widened when he saw Yin Hui throw the glob of darkness at him. The seals unlocked and the mass of darkness transformed into an army of 100 black ghosts that charged towards him. 


    Tao Shou fired the fully charged Wind Bullet and an ear-piercing sonic boom echoed throughout the area. A few of the ghosts dissipated on impact, but the rest held strong. Not long after, evil laughter could be heard from the ghosts as the Wind Bullet was halted in place. While laughing, the black ghosts began to devour the spiritual energy that made up Tao Shou's attack.


    "What is this technique?!" Tao Shou was exasperated, he had never seen such an attack before in his life.


    Before the battle began, Yin Hui asked Yin Tou for the incomplete demonic qi that was not used for the transformation. With his masterful control over demonic qi and it's uncontrollable urge to devour in it's incomplete state, he figured it would be a perfect hidden ace.


    The black ghosts continued to devour the Wind Bullet like a pack of hungry wolves. They traced it back to Tao Shou and latched onto his body, proceeding to consume him as well.


    Tao Shou screamed as the black ghosts devoured his flesh. It was a truly horrific sight. Not only were the ghosts consuming his flesh, there were also draining Tao Shou of all his blood, causing him to shrivel up while still fully conscious.


    When Tao Shou's body was reduced to nothing more than a shriveled mess, a small ball of light emerged from the corpse. The ghosts moved in to devour it as well, but Yin Hui quickly snatched it away. The ghosts were extremely angry and seemed like they wanted to lash out at Yin Hui. However, Yin Hui simply snapped his fingers and the seals Yin Tou placed earlier bound them all back into a ball of darkness. 


    Yin Hui held the ball of light representing Tao Shou's soul with a grim look on his face.


    "Your right, I have rejected the heaven's. However, the heaven's rejected me long ago..." Yin Hui lamented, a single tear leaving his eye. 


    When it fell to the ground Yin Hui's expression changed, his eyes flaring with conviction.


    "I've dreamed of getting revenge on you one day for all those years of torment. Now that it's been achieved, I no longer bear any hatred against you. To those who will wrong me in the future beware! To those who have wronged me in the past beware! I, Yin Hui, swear to pay back any and all grudges in full. Tao Shou, you will be the spark of a raging flame that will eventually ignite and devour the heavens. Now, become the fuel for my ambition! Evil Fiend Devouring Technique!"


    A black aura flared around Yin Hui, summoning dark tentacles that stabbed into Tao Shou's soul. The soul turned black and grew smaller and smaller until it completely disappeared. Afterwards, the tentacles retracted back into Yin Hui's body and the black aura around him doubled in size.


    Yin Hui closed his eyes and felt a separate soul inside his body. The soul had no consciousness and radiated a power that Yin Hui always felt, but knew he could never obtain. As of this moment, he was feeling like a house that recently had a spare room added on. However, instead of filling it with furniture he would be filling it in with spirit energy. Yin Hui sat down in a cross-legged position and began to feel the spiritual qi around him. The spiritual energy within the dimension was very high in terms of quality so it was very easy to sense. Yin Hui gathered the qi and directed it into the extra soul within his body. As the soul filled up with spiritual energy, Yin Hui felt more powerful then he ever had in his entire life. The sensation that came with first successful integration with spirit energy, was akin to rising for a breath after submerging his head in water for a long time. 


    His arms felt stronger. His feet felt lighter. His mind felt sharper. If only he could get another soul, no, ten more souls! Yin Hui's brain ran wild over the endless possibilities and power he could obtain if he had more souls.


    Yin Hui was elated, he had never been so happy his entire life. As Tang Li said, this opportunity had truly changed his life forever.


    He had become a being with limitless potential. One that mortals looked up to in awe and reverence as immortals.


    Yin Hui was a cultivator.


    A Spirit Waking cultivator.

  • Chapter 7: A Lesson On Cultivation

    Due to his weakened state, when Yin Tou pulled Tao Shou into the tablet's dimension he released him a few kilometers away from his location. This was to avoid putting himself at risk as well as to prevent him from becoming a liability during the fight. However, since this was his dimension, Yin Tou was aware of everything that had transpired, including his descendants success. 


    "So how does it feel to have spiritual qi circulating throughout your body?"


    "Like my life has finally started to move forward for once." Yin Hui had returned with a satisfied smile on his face. 


    "While I wish that it was me currently in that vessel of yours, as my descendant you could say I already am.  You've taken your first step into the realm of cultivation, so before I send you off I have a few things to say that might be helpful."


    "When your serious I actually like to hear you speak." Yin Hui joked.


    "Hmph this old man's words are made of nothing but gold. Now that your back we can... My, my, I must say that you have quite a well-developed little dragon on you."


    "..."


    Yin Hui stood there in silence. In his mind, a thousand fireworks were firing off in his brain as he realized he had been completely naked this whole time!


    During the body reconstruction process, his robes were completely destroyed at the final moments of reformation. Yin Hui had gotten so caught up in the moment that even when he went off to settle the score with Tao Shou, he forgot to have the decency to put on a new set of clothes!


    "Cough cough... Then again I must say as your ancestor, I'm genuinely pleased to know that even without spiritual energy, you have cultivated well in that specific department." Yin Tou nodded while looking down Yin Hui's exposed waist.


    Yin Hui's face turned red out of both shame and anger. He went over to Yin Tou's statue and tipped it over.


    "Ahh!! Kid! Don't you remember that I'm already near death! You could've made me disappear for good just now!" Yin Tou screamed in panic. His statue had countless cracks on it. At its current state, it looked as if one good hit could shatter it to pieces.


    Yin Hui took out Tao Shou's bag of holding, which he claimed after his death. He took out a long red robe from inside and quickly put it on. A bag of holding had always been greatly desired by Yin Hui. As a slave that often had to carry many things, he envied how items of any quantity or size could be stored inside the bag without affecting it's weight or size.


    "Let's forget what happened just now. You were saying?" Yin Hui gave Yin Tou a piercing stare, as if telling him to never bring up that particular topic ever again or the consequences would be more then he could bear.


    "Err... Yes! I was going to tell you about the first 3 realms of cultivation and how to advance through them!" Yin Tou didn't even bother to confirm the details behind Yin Hui's sinister glare. He felt like if he said one thing out of line Yin Hui would actually destroy the statue.


    "The first realm of cultivation as I've said before is called the Impurity Cleansing realm. Since you have already passed this stage, this information is slightly irrelevant. However, I will tell you anyways as it is a good habit to learn how to identify cultivators of all levels so you are never caught off guard. Cultivators at this stage take in spiritual qi to purify their bones, blood, and organs so that their bodies become suitable to store spirit qi long term. You can tell a person is in this realm by the fact that they cannot utilize fully spiritual qi and have the strength of a peak level mortal."


    "The second level of cultivation and the one you are currently in is called the Spirit Waking realm. In this realm Cultivators can actually use spiritual qi for multiple purposes. At this point your body and senses are beyond that of any mortal, even with your fiend body if you fought that young man earlier without the assistance of demonic qi you would've lost."


    Yin Hui bit his teeth when he heard this. What Yin Tou was telling him made sense. As soon as Tao Shou began to use techniques such as the Wind Bullet, Yin Hui could no longer see his attacks or protect himself. If he did not ask for that small amount of incomplete demonic qi before the battle, the outcome could've been far different.


    "Tell me what I need to do to advance to the next stage." Yin Hui knew that even as a Spirit Waking cultivator it wasn't enough. His ambition stretched beyond that of the heavens and he needed power if he wanted to fulfill it.


    "The Spirit Waking realm is all about the mastery of spiritual qi, using it like a carpenter uses wood. There are 3 different areas that you need to master in order to break through to the next stage. They are martial skills and spells, flight, and the most difficult, spiritual sense."


    "They are ordered as such because of the ascending level of difficulty that comes with each of them. As soon as you manage to utilize 1 spell and 1 martial skill you are known as a one aspect Spirit Waking cultivator. In order to become a two aspect cultivator you need to be able to utilize your spiritual energy to continuously fly for a minimum of two hours. Finally, to become a three aspect cultivator you need to develop a spiritual sense, a sixth sense that allows you to extend your sight and see without actually being present."


    Yin Hui listened attentively to the requirements needed to advance through the Spirit Waking realm, not missing a single detail. He recalled how Tang Jiao called Tang Li a peak Spirit Waking cultivator. Over the past year, Tang Li somehow always knew when he was in danger from one of the supervisors or clan members, and always came to save him at the right time. Now that he had learned of the three aspects of Spirit Waking, he was certain that it was due to Tang Li's mastery and use of spiritual sense.


    "Now once you achieve all three aspects, the key to breaking into the Spirit Manifestation realm is to  truly make spiritual qi yours, also known as true qi. You need to integrate your own essence into it to the point it becomes an extension of you. When you do, you'll find that this qi has a unique aura to it that distinguishes it from the normal qi of heaven and earth. This qi is much more versatile and allows you to form an ethereal spirit around you that can attack and defend."


    Yin Hui was filled with thoughts as he listened to the characteristics of a Spirit Manifestation cultivator. Tang Li seemed uncertain whether he could stop the fight if things went bad back in the outside world due to Tang Jiao. Based on that logic and the fact that Tang Jiao called Tang Li a peak Spirit Waking cultivator, it was safe to assume that Tang Jiao was in the Spirit Manifestation realm.


    "Unfortunately, like Spirit Waking compared to Impurity Cleansing, Spirit Manifestation is world's apart from the Spirit Waking stage. However, Spirit Manifestation also carries some risk."


    Yin Hui's eyes lit up. If Tang Jiao truly was at the Spirit Manifestation realm, he needed to know all he could about its weaknesses no matter how small or insignificant.


    "Similar to Spirit Waking, Spirit Manifestation has three parts, all having to do with forming an ethereal spirit. The first is the upper body which consists of the skull, torso, and arms. The skull is the most important and needs to be made first as it houses the spirit's core. Second, is the lower body which consists of everything below the torso. An important thing to keep in mind is that Spirit Manifestation cultivators in the first and second stages can only utilize one half of their spirit at a time, even if they have both. This leads to the third stage which is the complete body. A Spirit Manifestation cultivator is said to reach this stage when they can utilize their full ethereal spirit at once. They can also detach the spirit from their body and have it act independently to their will as if it were a clone."


    "You still haven't told me the risks a Spirit Manifestation cultivator possesses." Yin Hui said impatiently.


    "The weakness is that no matter the stage they are currently at, if you manage to destroy the core of the spirit, namely the skull, the users cultivation immediately drops back to the first stage of Spirit Manifestation without any of their true qi! This means that even a peak Spirit Waking cultivator will be able to defeat them as they will now be fighting on equal footing! While this is most detrimental to complete body Spirit Manifestation cultivators, it can still cause shock to those in the lower stages as well. Unfortunately, unless you have a cultivation level above theirs or a powerful treasure, the chances of destroying an ethereal spirit are very rare."


    Despite being nearly impossible to pull off, this was still very important news to Yin Hui. If he was in the peak of the Spirit Waking realm, it still meant that he had a chance against Spirit Manifestation cultivators as long as he managed to find a way to destroy their ethereal spirits core.


    "What are the levels above Spirit Manifestation?"


    Yin Tou shook his head with an embarrassed look on his face.


    "What I've told you so far are just the beginning levels of cultivation. Only at the peak of Spirit Manifestation can you really call yourself a cultivator. Unfortunately, this is all I know without the rest of my other parts and memories."


    Yin Hui sighed, but didn't snap back at Yin Tou for his lacking memory like he did before. He owed much to this swindling old man and he had already told him a large amount.


    "I can sense that there is a Spirit Manifestation cultivator outside with ill intent and an injured peak level Spirit Waking cultivator as well. Sigh. I guess the last thing I can do with the remainder of my strength is to send you safely out of here somewhere far away."


    Yin Hui predicted that Tang Li and Tang Jiao probably had a falling out and decided to fight. Since Tang Jiao was Tang Li's direct blood brother, Yin Hui knew that his life would not be in danger. He nodded towards Yin Tou and gave a deep bow. Yin Tou had given him a new lease on life, one that he was determined to pay back with high interest. He thought about ways he could pay him back a bit at that moment and came up with one idea.


    "Do you want to come with me? You can possess half my body again and see the world once more."


    Yin Tou let out a hearty laugh.


    "Haha, no thank you. I don't want to risk my already weakening and senile soul in the body of a new cultivator with no kind of backing whatsoever. However, if you do want to pay me back, do you think you could help me find the missing pieces of my soul for me during your journeys?"


    Yin Hui laughed back, understanding Yin Tou's intent.


    "Of course! Once you return to your full form, I expect to get that inheritance!"


    Yin Tou waved his hand and a portal opened up beside Yin Hui. Yin Hui gave one more sincere bow before stepping into the portal.


    "Remember boy! I'm missing 6 more parts of myself, each contains a portion of my soul! I'll give you a special sense that will allow you to know when you are near one! Take care!"


    Just as the portal began to close, Yin Tou pointed his finger towards Yin Hui. A beam of light shot out and entered Yin Hui's brain. Afterwards, the portal complete closed and dissipated as if it was never there. Yin Hui was off on a new adventure with a new life, a life that the heaven's had denied him for so long.

  • Chapter 8: Yu Zhuwa

    The Tang Province spanned a large area several hundreds of thousands of kilometers, containing numerous settlements within it's borders. Formerly known as the Yin Province, the Tang Clan changed it when they assumed power and became the new rulers of the region.


    A province's name was determined by it's current ruler, and would often be named after the ruling clan as a mark of pride. While most provinces were ruled by a single undisputed overlord, this was not the case for the Tang Province. While the Tang Clan held the majority of the power, they were heavily contested by the powerful Yan Clan. A rival clan that possessed many high-level cultivators. The inhabitants and other provinces generally acknowledged the province as the Tang Province, but those who lived closer to the Yan usually called it the Yan Province out of respect.


    Yin Tou did not have much energy left when sending Yin Hui off. Therefore, the range and distance of the portal was very limited. Yin Tou simply did not have the strength to move him out of the province, so he decided to just send him as far away from the Tang Clan as possible.


    When Yin Hui emerged from the portal, he found himself in a large forest with trees so tall they blocked the sky. Yin Hui took a moment to take in his surroundings before quickly moving on. His main priority was to locate a nearby settlement and find out how far he was from the Tang Clan's influence. 


    Yin Hui went to secure provisions while keeping an eye out for travelling mortals. Even though he was a cultivator, he wasn't at a level where he could go without food or water yet. With his Spirit Waking cultivation, he took down packs of wild animals with ease. As for water, Yin Hui found a special gourd inside Tao Shou's bag of holding. The gourd was unique and could instantly purify river water if it was stored inside.


    When Yin Hui finished gathering supplies he began to walk on a trail he found while hunting. He enjoyed the peace and quiet, as it was a nice change from the barking orders he would constantly hear back in the Tang Clan.


    As he was leisurely strolling, his eyes narrowed when he heard what sounded like angry shouts up ahead. Yin Hui ran towards the voices and stopped to find three burly men surrounding a frightened young boy. The boy was even younger then Yin Hui, looking no older then 12. He also held a small wooden chest in his arms. Two of the men around him were wielding daggers and looked extremely angry.


    "Yu Zhuwa! You certainly know how to court death! We brothers have already paid your pathetic village for it's hospitality, yet you dare come back and attempt to steal from us?!" One of the men shouted.


    "Your mountain bandits! You probably stole this chest from a innocent traveler anyway!" The boy called Yu Zhuwa shouted back. His voice was so shrill and whiny that it sounded like he was crying rather then trying to make a point.


    Yu Zhuwa was curled up like a ball, hugging the chest tightly against his body. He had a very innocent looking face and a weak demeanor that would naturally make others feel bad for him.


    "Hah! So what if we stole it? Not only are we brothers bandits, but we're also cultivators! Two of us have already passed the bones and blood stage of the Impurity Cleansing realm, while oldest brother has already purified his organs too! What can you even do?!" Another bandit mocked.


    The final brother who had yet to speak walked up to Yu Zhuwa, placing his foot on his head and pushing him to the ground. 


    "Yu Zhuwa, the cultivation world is a world where strength is everything. We may have stole this chest from a innocent traveller, but they had no one to blame but themselves for their own bad misfortune. You as well have no one else to blame other then yourself for being weak enough to be caught." The burly man took out a long black whip that was attached to his waist and cracked it, sending an echo throughout the forest.


    "The weak who are caught stealing from the strong are punished. Ten lashes and some time tied up in a bear cave should teach you!"


    As the whip descended, Yu Zhuwa closed his eyes bracing himself for the pain. However, after about five seconds he still didn't feel anything. Yu Zhuwa opened his eyes to see a youth with long black hair and violet eyes standing in front of him. The young man held the whip firmly in his hand, preventing it from hitting Yu Zhuwa.


    "Sorry, but I just hate it when children get hit by an angry man holding a whip. Personal experience you see." Yin Hui felt no pain at all when he blocked the whip. Even without his Spirit Waking cultivation base, the whip he intercepted paled in comparison to the one imbued with flames that Tao Shou used back in the Tang Clan.


    "Who are you?!" The oldest brother shouted.


    The two bandits beside him looked around in confusion. Yin Hui was so fast that the two brothers didn't even notice him until he already broke through their circle.


    Yin Hui strengthened his grip on the whip and tore it right off the handle. The man that was called oldest brother took a few steps back. This youth had just broken through their circle without any of them noticing. Being cultivators, this meant that the person before them possessed a higher cultivation then all of them.


    The oldest brother trembled as he stared into Yin Hui's violet eyes. His eyes emitted a ferocity similar to that of a vicious killing intent, one that made him feel like death itself was looking right at him.


    "F-F-Fellow daoist, I'm afraid there has been a mis-misunderstanding. I-I-If we knew that Yu Zhuwa had such a senior by his side we would most certainly have f-f-forgiven him." 


    Yin Hui stepped forward. A black aura leaked out of him that gave him the appearance of a demon.


    "I believe you said that in the cultivation world, one can only curse their own misfortune for being too weak. In that case, curse while you can as all of your fortunes are about to end."


    The oldest brother screamed and ran away as fast as he could, his two younger brothers following close behind. Unfortunately, no matter how fast they ran they could not outrun Yin Hui and his Spirit Waking cultivation base. Before they even made 20 meters of distance, Yin Hui quickly caught up to the three brothers and gave them each a strong punch to the side of the face. The punch was so strong that their necks snapped from the speed at which their heads turned, killing them instantly. Yin Hui then activated the Evil Fiend Devouring Technique and devoured their souls. Because they were Impurity Cleansing cultivators his qi storages did not expand, but Yin Hui still felt his physique grow a little stronger.


    "While this is indeed a world where the strong prey on the weak, the label between who is weak and who is strong can change in a heartbeat."


    Yin Hui returned to Yu Zhuwa who was shaking in fear over what he just witnessed.


    "D-D-D-Demonic c-c-cultivator..."


    Yin Hui sighed and gave the boy a pat on the head.


    "Yes, I am a demonic cultivator, but does that automatically mean I'm a bad person? After all I just saved you." Yin Hui smiled.


    With his fierce appearance, Yin Hui's smile looked very sinister. However, behind it Yu Zhuwa saw a trace of genuine warmth and slowly calmed down.


    "What is your name senior brother?"


    "Yin Hui. Your Yu Zhuwa right? Where are your parents? You are simply giving them worry by engaging a bunch of mountain bandits on your own like this."


    Yu Zhuwa looked down in embarrassment when he heard Yin Hui say his name.


    "I don't have parents. I was found by the village leader as a baby and she took me in. The village calls me Yu Zhuwa because I am as clumsy as a pig, but have the tongue of a golden frog."


    "Do you not have a real name?" 


    Yu Zhuwa shook his head.


    "The only thing the village leader gave me was the surname Yu. She said that names are powerful and that she didn't give me one because she wanted me to decide for myself who I was."


    Yu Zhuwa sighed. He had long wondered who he wanted to be and what really defined him, but could never get close to finding an answer.


    Yin Hui stroked his chin, intrigued by the wisdom of the village leader. Perhaps the village head was a cultivator as well. If that was the case, there was a chance she might be willing to share some knowledge as payment for saving Yu Zhuwa.


    "I would very much like to meet this village leader of yours. Do you think you can take me to her? Just so you know ahead of time, I don't have any treasures worth stealing on me."


    Yu Zhuwa let out a carefree laugh.


    "Don't worry senior brother! I wouldn't dare to steal from a benefactor such as yourself. Come! I'll show you the way to the village!"


    Yin Hui let out a wry smile as he followed Yu Zhuwa. The boy truly had the tongue of a golden frog. For a moment, just listening to his voice made Yin Hui unconsciously drop his guard for a brief moment. If Yu Zhuwa had really tried, he probably could've robbed Yin Hui right then and there.


    "Yu Zhuwa, how close is your village to the main capital of the Tang Clan?" Yin Hui asked. If the Tang Clan capital was a significant distance from Yu Zhuwa's village Yin Hui would stay for a while. If it wasn't, he would quickly leave once the boy was safely returned home.


    Yu Zhuwa told Yin Hui that his village was located around the outer region of the Tang Province. He also mentioned that his village rarely dealt with cultivators,  due to being too small to be noticed by the neighbouring sects.


    Yin Hui felt a huge weight being lifted off his shoulders when he heard this. Since Yu Zhuwa's village was far from the Tang, he speculated that the clan did not have a very strong influence there. If so, it would be the perfect place to cultivate undisturbed.It was also a good opportunity to learn more about the current politics of the province.


    They approached a small settlement that housed around 300 people. The village looked poor, but the people seemed content and satisfied with their lives. As Yu Zhuwa led Yin Hui inside, some of the townspeople snickered. They saw the small chest in Yu Zhuwa's hands and assumed that he had cheated it off of Yin Hui with his golden tongue. Yu Zhuwa escorted Yin Hui to a large wooden house that was far more elegant then the others. When Yu Zhuwa knocked on the door, Yin Hui inquired more about the village head.


    "By the way, Yu Zhuwa. How is your village head's relationship with the Tang Clan?"


    "The Tang Clan? I assume pretty good, after all one of their messengers is here right now speaking with her!"

  • Chapter 9: The Messenger

    The village leader's residence was clean and tidy. It was decorated with wooden furniture that possessed refinement and beauty only a master craftsman could create. There were no windows, and the entire dwelling was lit with torches.


    In the main chamber's dining hall were two people sitting at a long table. One was an elderly woman with paper white hair tied in a bun. She wore a brown hemp robe and had a medallion with the symbol of a leaf hanging around her neck. The other was a young man with long tied-up black hair wearing a scholarly robe. On his waist was a golden crest with the surname Tang written on it. 


    The table was filled with an assortment of consumable delicacies, including fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and wine. While each of the two had food on their plates, neither of them seemed interested in eating. 


    "Lady Yu, as you know tensions between the Tang and Yan are escalating. Many sects and clans in the outer regions have pledged their allegiance to the Yan Clan and have started to disrupt the peace within the province. They have begun to raid small villages in the hopes of finding mortals with potential in cultivation to expand their forces."


    Lady Yu took a sip of wine with a blank expression on her face, as if she already knew all the information the young man was telling her.


    "It is only a matter of time before the Scattered Leaves Village is also implicated. Lady Yu. even as a peak Spirit Manifestation cultivator I'm afraid you will not be able to refuse them. Prospective children from this village will be taken from their families and sent to a sect against their will, forced to fight in their armies." The man said grimly.


    Lady Yu furrowed her brows, but still maintained a calm demeanor.


    "I assume your Tang Clan has something to offer to resolve this issue then?" Lady Yu smiled. Her voice was very pleasant, making it sound like she was in a very agreeable mood.


    The young man reciprocated the smile and took out a silver medallion with the Tang surname inscribed in the center. The surname on the medallion glowed and a strand of qi emerged. It filled the air, emitting an aura of power greater then that of a Spirit Manifestation cultivator before returning into the medallion.


    "This medallion is imbued with the true qi of elder Tang Wan. I hope that it is enough to show that we are taking this matter seriously." He threw the medallion over to her. Lady Yu caught the medallion in the air and gave it a thorough glance. 


    "The Tang Clan does not ask for much. All we require is permission to occupy the Scattered Leaf Village as a base to help keep tabs on the outer regions. In exchange, we will guarantee that you and your people will be safe from the hands of the neighboring sects." 


    "Yet by allowing you to hold a garrison in my Scattered Leaf Village, we will indirectly be declaring our allegiance to the Tang Clan." Lady Yu did not even look at the man when she responded, and simply fiddled with the silver medallion he threw to her.


    "The Tang Clan simply wishes to save as many villages as it can before the coming storm. When the battle begins, I'm afraid we will not have the time or willingness to differentiate friend from foe between the neutral parties. Therefore, out of consideration for the Scattered Leaf Village, we would like to spare you that trouble by reaching out with this offer."


    Knock Knock~


    Lady Yu was about to speak when a loud knock was heard from outside. The young man emptied his wine glass and stood up, still maintaining his pleasant and charismatic demeanor.


    "I know that this is a big decision for you Lady Yu, therefore I will give you some time to think. I shall return in a month to hear your final decision. Thank you for the meal." 


    The young messenger walked towards the door and opened it. Bright sunlight filled the room as a young boy and a handsome youth stood at the doorway. 


    "Hi there, lord messenger! Are you finished your meeting? If you are, we would like to see the village head now!" Yu Zhuwa said enthusiastically.


    The messenger chuckled and ruffled Yu Zhuwa's dirty brown hair. He saw the wooden chest in Yu Zhuwa's arms and grinned.


    "You must be the mischievous Yu Zhuwa that I've heard rumors about! I hear you have a knack for taking treasure off unsuspecting travelers. I don't dare to try my luck against such skill, so I'll just pay up willingly! Hopefully this way you'll be merciful and spare me because of this!" Tang Bian pulled out a golden coin and placed it on top of the wooden chest.


    "Thank you lord messenger! I'm starting to like you already!" 


    Yin Hui's pupils shrank when he saw the man inside the village head's residence.


    "Not good... It's Tang Bian!" Yin Hui cursed in his heart.


    Tang Bian was the son of Tang Wan, one of the Tang Clan's most influential elders. He was the same age as Tang Jiao and despite not being as physically strong as him, he was much more intelligent. Tang Bian preferred to take down his enemies through schemes rather then force, and was talented in the field of diplomacy. Yin Hui had never interacted directly with Tang Bian during his time as a slave. However, he knew that Tang Bian was on very good terms with Tang Jiao. They had such a close relationship that Tang Jiao treated him more like a brother then Tang Li. Therefore, whenever Tang Jiao went to torment Yin Hui, Tang Bian would sometimes be watching on the side.


    Despite his charismatic smile and pleasant demeanor, Yin Hui feared Tang Bian much more then Tang Jiao. While he was unsure of what Tang Bian's cultivation was, Yin Hui was wary of his sharp mind and clever wit. If he were to take revenge on the Tang Clan some day, Tang Bian would definitely be one of his most difficult opponents.


    "And who might you be brother?" Tang Bian turned his attention to Yin Hui, still with a wide smile on his face.


    Yin Hui did not know how to respond. It hadn't even been a day since he disappeared from the Tang Clan, yet he was already face to face with one of their shrewdest minds.


    "Oh that's big brother Yin Hui. He saved me from some mountain bandits a while ago, so I decided to bring him back with me!" Yu Zhuwa answered eagerly.


    At this moment, Yin Hui wished he just left Yu Zhuwa at the hands of the bandits. If Tang Bian recognized him and reported him back to the Tang Clan, it would be a huge problem.


    "Yin Hui... You look familiar, especially your eyes. Have we met before?" Tang Bian narrowed his eyes. He studied Yin Hui a bit, noting his eyes, face, and build. The youth in front of him reminded Tang Bian of a slave Tang Jiao would frequently pick on in the past.


    Yin Hui felt a chill go down his spine. He could not explain it, but it was as if he was completely transparent before Tang Bian's sight.


    Tang Bian withdrew his gaze and extended a hand towards Yin Hui.


    "Forgive me fellow daoist. You looked so similar to someone I know that I had gotten the two of you mixed up. While you do look alike and share the same surname, your a Spirit Waking cultivator while he is merely a mortal. I assume your from another clan who bears a similar name. After all, the main Yin Clan of this province had all its members crippled long ago."


    In order to maintain appearances, Yin Hui reluctantly shook his hand. Tang Bian then turned to Yu Zhuwa and ruffled his hair once more. He then gave each of them his trademark smile and began to fly into the air. 


    "Fellow daoist Yin. I recommend changing your surname lest you attract unwanted attention from the clan's old enemies. Some of those old monsters can really hold a grudge and you may get hurt for even reminding them of the old Yin Clan. Enjoy your meeting with the village head." 


    A frown appeared on Yin Hui's face as he watched Tang Bian fly away from the village. 


    "With just a glance he could tell that I was a cultivator and what realm I was in. Not only that, but he could also fly. If that's the case then that feeling of transparency I felt when he looked at me must have been his spiritual sense! Tang Bian must be a three aspect Spirit Waking cultivator, perhaps even a Spirit Manifestation cultivator like Tang Jiao!" 


    Yu Zhuwa saw Yin Hui's grim expression and gave him a small poke.


    "What's wrong big brother Yin Hui? Do you actually know that lord messenger?"


    Yin Hui was silent. He was still in deep thought over their encounter with Tang Bian.


    Tap Tap~


    Suddenly, another pair of footsteps could be heard coming from inside. An old woman holding a wooden staff was slowly walking towards the door. Yu Zhuwa's eyes shined as he ran inside to greet the woman.


    "Village leader!" 


    Yu Zhuwa hugged the frail old woman in the residence. She wrapped her free arm around Yu Zhuwa with joy on her face.


    "Xiao Yu, welcome back! Who is this young friend you've brought with you?"


    "This is big brother Yin Hui! He saved me from the mountain bandits that stayed in the village the other day!"


    Yin Hui stopped thinking about Tang Bian and walked inside. The dim lighting of the torch-lit room combined with his fierce appearance made him look very intimidating.


    "Hello senior, my name is Yin Hui." Yin Hui clasped his hands and bowed respectfully.


    The village head eyes flickered and then nodded her head.


    "Nice to meet you Yin Hui. Welcome to the Scattered Leaves Village. I am the village head, Yu Mingxi. Please come inside, any friend of Xiao Yu is an esteemed guest in my eyes." Yu Mingxi kindly gestured towards Yin Hui to come inside.


    "Grandma Yu, how did your meeting with the Tang messenger go? He seemed like a very nice person!" Yu Zhuwa eagerly asked.


    "Haha... I'll fill you in soon. You and young friend Yin Hui take a seat at the dining table and help yourselves for now. There's still plenty of food left."


    Yu Zhuwa put on a silly expression and pulled Yin Hui over to the table where the meeting was held. There were still heaps of untouched food remaining and Yu Zhuwa started to take bits of everything.


    When Yu Zhuwa and Yin Hui were out of hearing distance, a shadow cast over Yu Mingxi's face.


    "Interesting... Yin Hui... The cursed child of the Yin Clan has grown up. Somehow, he has escaped the Tang Clan and made it to the outer regions of the province. However, what's more surprising is that I can sense Spirit Waking cultivation within him!"

  • Chapter 10: The Tang

    Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa took a seat at the dining table. As soon as he was seated, Yu Zhuwa began devouring the various delicacies he had put on his plate. There were meats of many different animals, as well as many exotic and juicy looking fruits. Beside him was Yin Hui, who simply had a few ordinary looking fruits and vegetables on his plate.


    "Big Brother Yin Hui! Why did you choose to eat those? There's so much better to pick from! Here, take some Fanged Wilderbeast meat, its one of the best things you can get in the outer regions!" Yu Zhuwa reached over the table and put a large chunk of fatty meat on Yin Hui's plate. The meat had its fur still attached, but this seemed to be intentional as Yu Zhuwa ate a piece completely whole.


    Yin Hui had never really had meat before in his life. As a slave, he was lucky if he even got fresh fruits and vegetables as part of his daily diet. As for a fat piece of meat such as the one Yu Zhuwa gave him, it was completely out of the question. Regardless, Yin Hui wasn't one to waste food so he held his breath and put the piece of Fanged Wilderbeast into his mouth. An explosion of flavor the likes he had never experienced before entered his mouth. The taste was so great that Yin Hui lamented the fact that he had wasted so many years without eating such a delicacy. 


    "Good right? Told you!" Yu Zhuwa chuckled and handed him another piece of Wilderbeast.


    "My my, you two are enjoying yourselves. Never eaten something like Fanged Wilderbeast in your entire life Yin Hui?" Yu Mingxi came over and took a seat neat the two of them.


    Yin Hui immediately stopped eating and straightened his posture. He had forgotten that he needed to act like a normal traveler. If anyone were to figure out he was a runaway slave of one of the strongest clans in the province, there was a good chance he would be reported immediately.


    "I was only joking. Fanged Wilderbeast is indeed a delicacy here in these parts. If you like it please help yourself to as much as you want." Yu Mingxi laughed.


    "What did you and the messenger from the Tang Clan talk about Grandma Yu?" Yu Zhuwa asked with his mouth full of food.


    Yu Mingxi revealed everything to Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa. She informed them of the rising tensions between the Tang and the Yan, the forced recruitment of children with cultivation potential, and how Tang Bian would return in one month to hear her final decision.


    "The Tang seem to be serious about wanting to pull us to their side. They even sent one of these medallions as proof of their sincerity." Yu Mingxi pulled out the silver medallion given to her by Tang Bian. She flicked the Tang surname inscribed in the middle and the aura of Tang Wan spread throughout the room.


    "Whoa... I guess we mind as well accept then right? After all, if they Tang come over here the sect's in the outer regions won't even dare to bother us right?" Yu Zhuwa was astounded by the power emitted from the medallion. He felt that if someone of that caliber was backing them, no one would dare to offend the Scattered Leaf Village.


    "Perhaps. Their offer does come with a lot of benefits. There protection could very well guarantee the safety of this village's civilians." Yu Mingxi said with faint smile on her face.


    Yin Hui had a dark expression on his face. Hearing Yu Mingxi and Yu Zhuwa praise the Tang Clan so much nauseated him, and he needed to take a breath of fresh air. 


    "Please excuse me Lady Yu. I've eaten a bit too much and need to take a step outside." Yin Hui stood up and walked towards the door. The door trembled slightly when he closed it, being shut with little too much force.


    Yu Zhuwa looked over with a surprised expression on his face.


    "That's weird, brother Yin Hui seemed very hungry earlier. He even asked me for recommendations of other foods he should try."


    Yu Mingxi maintained her faint smile as Yin Hui left. As soon as the door closed, her smile vanished and a serious expression took over.


    "Yu Zhuwa how do you feel about young friend Yin Hui?" 


    "Big Brother Yin Hui? He looks very scary and intimidating, but when you get to know him he's actually a really nice person." Yu Zhuwa was puzzled. Not only did Yin Hui abruptly leave for no reason, but now Grandma Yu was speaking as if Yin Hui was an enemy.


    Yu Mingxi sighed and reclined back on her chair.


    "That boy is a member of the old Yin Clan, the former overlord's of the province."


    "Really? I remember you told me that they angered the heavens somehow and were all crippled as a result. Afterwards, their enemies attacked and almost exterminated the entire clan. Big brother Yin Hui is a cultivator, I saw him use a demonic technique that could devour souls when he saved me. If he's a member of the Yin Clan how come he can cultivate?" Yu Zhuwa was shocked. He never would of thought that Yin Hui was a member of such a famous clan.


    Yu Mingxi narrowed her eyes.


    "He uses a demonic technique that devours souls?"


    Yu Zhuwa turned around and covered his mouth, cursing his clumsiness. He wanted to prove to Grandma Yu that Yin Hui was not a bad person, but ended up revealing that he was a demonic cultivator.


    "Even if he uses demonic techniques he's not a bad person Grandma Yu! After all, he saved me remember!"


    However, when Yu Zhuwa turned back, Grandma Yu was no longer in her seat. Yu Zhuwa got up and searched the entire residence, but she had completely vanished.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    The overlord of the province was generally acknowledged and determined by who owned the capital. The capital of the province was not actually a real city, but an enormous estate the size of one which housed the ruling clan. It was built on top of the finest qi reservoir in the entire province, still maintaining that title even after countless years of use. Enemies of the overlord would often have to plan for years if they desired to invade the capital. This was because the entire estate was protected by many spell formations set by the various overlord's that have ruled over the years. When a new clan takes over, it was often customary for the new ruler to add an additional formation of their own making. This was done to bolster defenses as well as secure their clan's legacy within the capital.


    Tang Jiao had an irritated expression on his face as he dragged his brother's bloody body through the Tang Clan's estate. Many servants rushed to aid the injured Tang Li, but Tang Jiao dismissed them all. Afraid of provoking him, they silently watched as he left a trail of blood on his way to the main palace.


    The courtyard contained statues of great beasts such as qilin's and kun peng's. It was also surrounded by beautiful habitats of nature, ranging from koi fish ponds to well-kept willow trees. In the center was a giant statue of a middle-aged man wearing a suit of decorated armor holding a spear. The spear had a coil pattern around the entire weapon, and the traditional tip was replaced with a sharp golden pentagram with a small dragon head in the center.


    The main palace was positioned on a small mountain that looked over the entire capital. If one were to reach it, they would have to climb 1,000 steps worth of stairs. While most immortal's could just fly to the top of the mountain, it was seen as a sign of great disrespect. Therefore, members of the Tang Clan usually walked, including elders holding high positions within the clan.


    Tang Jiao was in no mood to climb the 1,000 steps to the palace and directly flew over. A few elders who had their spiritual sense locked on to him ignored this, despite it being highly improper. This was because Tang Jiao was the son of the Clan Head. If the Clan Head did not care to punish his son for his behavior then they would not push the matter either.


    The two guards positioned outside the palace frowned when they saw Tang Jiao. 


    "I wish to speak to Lord Clan Head. Open the gates." Tang Jiao said impatiently.


    "Young Lord Tang Jiao. Lord Clan Head has specifically given us orders not to let you in."


    Tang Jiao walked up to the guard and brought his face up close.


    "I said let me in. Are you disobeying the order of the future leader of this clan?" His voiced contained a threatening tone.


    "Lord Clan Head said that he is disappointed to see his sons fighting to such a degree in darkening times like these. Until Young Lord Tang Li is well again, you are not to take a step into the main palace." The second guard added. Both of the guards knew that if one person pushed Tang Jiao too far, he would possibly kill them. Therefore, they distributed the bad news equally in the hopes of preventing a falling out.


    The aura of a Spirit Manifestation cultivator emerged from Tang Jiao. When a cultivator had fully mastered the use of qi, their aura could be used as an oppressive might to suppress others and even injure them. 


    "Stop!" A voice called out from behind.


    Tang Jiao turned around and saw an old man with long white hair standing at the top of the stairs. The elderly man had an extremely calm and dignified expression that made him appear very stubborn. On his right hand he wore a silver ring with a symbol containing the Tang surname on the top.


    "Elder Tang Wan." Tang Jiao's anger immediately dissipated and he clasped his hands.


    Tang Wan nodded and slowly walked towards Tang Jiao.


    "Tang Jiao, you are causing your father excess stress with your behavior. Tensions between us and the Yan Clan are escalating yet your still picking fights within the clan. I have already received complaints from many in the younger generation that your temper is getting out of control." Tang Wan spoke softly, but his voice emanated absolute authority.


    "But elder, one of the slaves has--" 


    Tang Wan raised his wrinkled hand in the air.


    "Unless this matter involves the life and death of the entire clan, it can wait. The sun is about to set and Young Lord Tang Li is injured. I will take him to the healers and when he is fully recovered you may present your case to Lord Clan Head."


    Tang Jiao begrudgingly lowered his head and dropped Tang Li's unconscious body on the ground. He knew Tang Wan was very stubborn and would almost never take no for an answer, even when dealing with his father. However, his judgement's were often always correct, which was why he was tolerated for such behavior and held the position of grand advisor. 


    Tang Jiao turned his head back towards the guards and snorted. He rose into the air and flew back to his personal palace to rest. Tang Wan cast a meaningful look in Tang Jiao's direction before pointing his finger at Tang Li. Tang Li's body flew towards him and he began to descend the palace steps.


    "One day... One day very soon..." Tang Wan muttered.

  • Chapter 11: Exposed

    The full moon shined brightly in the darkness covered sky above the Scattered Leaf Village. Yin Hui stood outside the village gate, regretful that he was going to leave without saying good bye to the energetic Yu Zhuwa. He wished that he could have stayed a bit longer, but did not want to take his chances. Even if Yu Mingxi rejected Tang Bian's offer, Yin Hui had already shown his face. Once Tang Bian returned to the capital, the news about his disappearance as well as the secrets he held would be revealed. With Tang Bian's intelligence, he would no doubt put the pieces together and post a capture order throughout the province.


    "Leaving so soon?"


    Yin Hui's pupils shrank when he heard the voice. He turned around and was shocked to find Yu Mingxi standing only an arm's length away. Yin Hui quickly clasped his hands and gave a deep bow.


    "My apologies Lady Yu, I didn't see you there. Thank you for your hospitality, but I have something urgent to attend to and must leave." 


    "You can drop the act Yin Hui. I know who you are and where you come from. The cursed child of the Yin Clan. Your birth was said to be the reason for the clan's downfall." Yu Mingxi no longer had the pleasant smile she had when Yin Hui first met her. Right now her face was stern and completely focused.


    "Tch..." Yin Hui took a large leap back and touched his bag of holding. He pulled out the ball of incomplete demonic qi and aimed it threateningly at Yu Mingxi.


    "I was completely unaware of her presence until now. She's a cultivator, but what is her cultivation base? She knows of my origin as well. Is she going to capture me and present me to Tang Bian as a sign of goodwill when he returns?" 


    Yu Mingxi stood there silently, her gaze fixed on the black mass of darkness in Yin Hui's hand. She sensed a very aggressive force within it, but it was held back by many seals. 


    "Interesting, it really is demonic qi. It's incomplete though, which makes it very unstable even by the standards of demonic qi. Those seals were probably placed by some expert so that it can be used as some kind of life saving treasure."


    A faint smile appeared on Yu Mingxi's face.


    "Yin Hui. Putting that mass of incomplete demonic qi into account, how high do you think your chances are at escaping?" As soon as she finished speaking, a powerful oppressive might emitted from her body.


    Yin Hui stumbled backwards and coughed out a mouthful of blood.


    "What is this pressure? Is this just from releasing the power of her cultivation? Or is it some kind of technique?"


    After suppressing Yin Hui for few seconds, Yu Mingxi retracted her oppressive might.


    "Surely you now understand that you have no control over the situation. If I wish to take you in, you will not be able to resist." 


    Yin Hui grit his teeth and spat out the remaining blood in his mouth.


    "Lady Yu, while I may not be able to escape form you directly, I can if you are distracted." Yin Hui raised the ball of incomplete demonic qi into the air.


    "I presume this village is made up mostly of mortals. If I were to release this mass of incomplete demonic qi inside, you will not have time to both catch me and protect the villagers." Yin Hui circulated some qi energy into his body and a black aura began to emerge. Combined with his fierce violet eyes, he looked like a demon who would truly massacre a village without hesitation.


    Of course, this was all an act. Even if Yin Hui had the opportunity to trade the lives of innocent villagers for his own life he would never do it. As someone who grew up at the bottom of the social ladder, he understood what it was like to be used by the powerful. However, in desperate times like the one he was in now, empty threats had it's uses. After all, with his demonic appearance and fiendish aura, there was a chance he could persuade Yu Mingxi to back down.


    A loud cackle exited Yu Mingxi's mouth. She tapped her staff on the ground twice and gave a nod of approval.


    "Very good, I can see how a young man such as yourself has gotten this far. You are quick-witted and decisive. Furthermore, you know how to maximize the use of your assets, even in the face of stronger opponents."


    Yu Mingxi tapped her staff hard on the ground. A tremor could be felt within the earth as the ground beneath Yin Hui's feet erupted. The dirt and rock surrounded him, forming a dome that sealed him inside. Yin Hui tried to break out, but the dirt and rock mix had instantaneously hardened.


    "This is a martial skill called Living Earth. It uses spiritual energy to manipulate the earth and instantly harden it." 


    "If you can get out of that dome within an hour you may leave. However, you are not allowed to use that mass of incomplete demonic qi. If you cannot escape, then I will imprison you here with an even greater skill and hand you over to the Tang when they return." Yu Mingxi tapped her staff on the ground once more. A chair made of hardened earth formed behind her. She took a seat and silently watched to see what Yin Hui would do.


    Inside the earth dome, Yin Hui was completely enraged.


    "Not allowed to use the demonic qi?! What am I supposed to do then? I just became a cultivator this afternoon, I don't have anything else!"


    Suddenly, it came to him. There was one technique that Yin Hui could try that he hadn't had the time to practice until now. Even though Yin Hui couldn't see a thing inside the earth dome it didn't matter. He retracted his fist and got into the stance of the Wind Bullet.


    "While I haven't actually seen the Wind Bullet itself, I know what it feels like. It seems that it is a martial skill that shoots a blast of highly pressurized air at the opponent. I assume the method is to condense air into your fist at high pressure using spirit energy. If Tao Shou could use it and I have his cultivation, I should be able to do it too!"


    Yin Hui closed his eyes and focused qi into his fist. The earth dome was almost air tight, so there wasn't a lot of air to use. To compensate, Yin Hui had to condense the air multiple times. However, due to his inexperience, he couldn't condense it enough to produce the true Wind Bullet. Whenever he punched out, it would come out as a qi-imbued strike, rather than the air cannon Tao Shou made.


    Normally, this would be fine as his attacks were strong enough to crack the hardened earth that comprised the dome. Unfortunately, whenever a small hole was made through the dome Yu Mingxi patched it back up. 


    Yin Hui cursed under his breath.


    "That old hag! I guess I have to break all in one move. This technique involves condensing air. To get the desired effect, I need to either condense a small amount of air many times, or condense a large amount of air a few times. Since I can't condense the limited amount of air in this dome enough times, I'll simply get more air!"


    "Yu Mingxi! I'm running out of air, can you open a few tiny holes within the dome?" Yin Hui shouted.


    Yu Mingxi had a disappointed expression on her face. 45 minutes had already passed and Yin Hui barely made any progress.


    "Did I misjudge this boy? Even if he is a Spirit Waking cultivator with no aspects, I thought he would have some other hidden tricks up his sleeve. Oh well, times almost up. A few holes at this point shouldn't change much." Yu Mingxi pointed towards the dome and multiple finger sized holes appeared on the surface.


    10 minutes of silence passed. Yu Mingxi sighed and stood up. It appeared that Yin Hui truly had no method of escape. She got up and was about to undo the earth dome when she heard sizzling coming from inside.


    Boom~~


    The sound of an air cannon echoed through the air as a large beam of wind blasted the earth dome open. The beam kept going, heading towards Yu Mingxi who was standing right in front of it. 


    Yu Mingxi stuck out a palm with her free hand. The powerful pressurized air of the Wind Bullet split into two halves that diverged to the sides, leaving the village unaffected.


    Yin Hui walked out of the remains of the dome in triumph. Immediately after, he dropped to one knee. Utilizing so much spiritual qi in such a short amount of time was completely drained him, especially since it was his first time using it in such a manner.


    Tap Tap Tap~~


    "Well done! I assume that was the first martial skill you have ever produced. Once you've learned a spell as well, you will have officially become a First Aspect Spirit Waking Cultivator." Yu Mingxi praised.


    "In that case, I'm free to go right?" Yin Hui said between puffs of air.


    "If that is your desire then yes. You may rest in the village tonight and head out at sunrise tommorow. Let me ask you this though, do you know where you want to go next?" 


    Yin Hui was silent. He had no map, no guide, and no plan. In his mind, he was just going to wander until he found another town, and hope that they were not affiliated with the Tang Clan.


    "I'll have you know that with the current status of the province, all settlements are on alert. The chances are pretty low that you'll find a village as accepting as ours again. Also, with your meager abilities and demonic cultivation that involves devouring souls, it will be very unlikely that you will be accepted into a sect." 


    "What are you suggesting then?" Yin Hui asked.


    "From what I've just witnessed, I believe that you are someone special. Not only that, but Yu Zhuwa is quite fond of you. You need a teacher right? This old woman has a few tricks she can pass on to a capable youngster."


    Yu Mingxi extended a hand towards the kneeling Yin Hui. The pleasant grandmotherly smile had also returned.


    "What about the Tang Clan? Aren't you going to accept their offer for protection?" Yin Hui was still cautious. Even if Yu Mingxi was strong, the reward of a capture order could attract many powerful experts.


    "I never said I would accept their offer. Based on what I've heard from other villages, their occupation comes with quite a few negatives I'm not willing to bear. I have a feeling I know why they want to recruit a small village such as ours, and it's definitely not out of the goodness of their hearts." Yu Mingxi reassured.


    Yin Hui stared into Yu Mingxi's eyes, trying to find the slightest hint of deception. He found none.


    "I accept..." Placing his trust on Yu Mingxi, Yin Hui sighed and collapsed to the ground. His consciousness fading into darkness.

  • Chapter 12: What You Need Is A Dao!

    Yin Hui slept through the entire next day in the village chief's residence. From having his entire body reconstructed to exerting almost all his qi reserves shortly after, it was a surprise he even lasted this long. 


    On the second day, Yin Hui finally awakened. While he still wasn't in top physical shape, he had recovered to the point he could walk again. During his days as a slave, he had trained himself to be able to trick his body into a false sense of brimming vitality. Since slaves had no breaks regardless of their condition, this was an essential skill to learn. He found a spare black hemp robe in the room he was resting and quickly swapped it with the one he was currently wearing.


    Knock Knock~~


    "Big Brother Yin Hui, are you better now?" Yu Zhuwa called out from outside the door.


    Yin Hui opened the door to see Yu Zhuwa standing in front of him.


    "Grandma Yu told me everything that happened last night. Although I don't know what will happen a month from now, I'm glad you decided to stay!" Yu Zhuwa had a big smile on his face.


    Yin Hui laughed and ruffled Yu Zhuwa's hair. The boy truly was endearing, no wonder he made such a good thief. He was lucky Yu Zhuwa was a friend, if he wasn't, Yin Hui might've still been in the forest without even clothes covering his body.


    "Anyways, Grandma Yu says its time to cultivate so let's head outside!" 


    When Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa left the residence, they saw that Yu Mingxi was already outside. She stood at the edge of the hill where the residence was located, gazing over the entire Scattered Leaf Village. The sun shined brightly over the whole village, creating an exceptionally beautiful scene. Despite this, Yu Mingxi had a grim smile on her face. However, she quickly covered it up when the two youths came out.


    "Good morning you two. I'm glad to see you have recovered so quickly Yin Hui. To be honest, I thought you would need at least 3 days of rest before you were healthy enough to come out."


    Yin Hui clasped his hands.


    "I heal fast senior Yu, thank you for your concern. I'm ready for your instruction." 


    "Why do you talk so formally all the time Big Brother? Grandma Yu isn't that strict you know!" Yu Zhuwa laughed.


    A wry smile appeared on Yin Hui's face. With so many years of his life being dedicated to serving others, formal speech was basically Yin Hui's natural tongue at this point.


    "Xiao Yu your still at the Impurity Cleansing stage so your training is still the same. Go sit down somewhere and utilize the surrounding spiritual qi to purify your body. You have passed the bone stage, but now you must refine your blood as well. Yin Hui you will follow me." 


    Yu Zhuwa complained about how his training was so boring while Yin Hui was being taken out of the village. Yu Mingxi slapped the back of his head.


    "You started cultivating 3 years ago. A normal person usually takes 2 years to reach the peak of the Impurity Cleansing realm. If you had cultivated diligently, maybe you would have reached Yin Hui's level by now and I would've taken you too!" Yu Mingxi scolded.


    Yu Zhuwa stuck out his tongue and angrily trudged to the edge of the hill. He muttered a few curses as he sat down and began to absorb spiritual energy into his body.


    Yu Mingxi took Yin Hui back into the forest. They walked for about 15 minutes and ended up in a large open field next to a river. 


    "Now then, Yin Hui, I want to you to tell me how you cultivate."


    Yin Hui revealed everything, the Wind Bullet, his fiend body, and the Evil Fiend Devouring Technique. Yu Mingxi listened to all of it with a serious expression.


    "Yin Hui. If you ever encounter any other cultivators of a sect or join one yourself, do not let them know about the Evil Fiend Devouring Technique. With that in mind, I don't have to mention that you shouldn't use the anything related to demonic qi either. Demonic cultivators are heavily frowned upon everywhere. If you are found using a technique as nefarious as the Evil Fiend Devouring Technique, you could very well be hunted down and executed." Yu Mingxi warned.


    "I understand, but it really doesn't matter. As long as I'm in this province I'll be hunted down by the Tang and their servants anyways."


    Yu Mingxi let out a deep sigh.


    "In that case, ensure you leave no witnesses. When you walk a path as unsteady as yours, you need to be thorough." Yu Mingxi was not a cruel woman, but she was not a fool either. She knew that the cultivation world was one of great treachery and struggle. To those born into terrible circumstances like Yin Hui, they could only curse their own misfortune. The heaven's were merciless, so to survive one needed to also be merciless.


    "Now that we have cleared that up, we can now start the lesson. Before we start learning martial skills and spells we first need to understand cultivation. Yin Hui, tell me what the main focus of cultivation is."


    "Cultivation is the mastery of qi to its highest peak. To become the strongest so no one can oppose you." Yin Hui answered.


    "Hahaha..."


    Yin Hui frowned. Was his answer incorrect? Given what he learned from his ancestor Yin Tou, qi was the basis of all cultivation.


    "Impurity Cleansing, Spirit Waking, Spirit Manifestation... All of these are indeed about the mastery of qi, but what comes after? Qi is the foundation, but it has restrictions imposed by the heavens. How do you go beyond the standard limitations of qi and break the chains the heavens have put on it, and by extension us? The answer is Dao!"


    This confused Yin Hui, who had a puzzled expression on his face. He had heard of the concept of Dao from the cultivators of the Tang Clan. However, he assumed it was a philosophical concept that had no real application to cultivation.


    "I don't understand, how can something philosophical such as Dao be relevant to cultivation? Yin Hui questioned.


    "Yin Hui why do you cultivate?" Yu Mingxi did not answer his question, but asked a question of her own. 


    "I cultivate to gain power. Power that will allow me to get revenge on the Tang Clan for enslaving me. Power that will allow me to destroy the heavens and the gods that took everything away from me." As Yin Hui continued speaking, he found himself getting angrier and angrier.


    "Then that is your Dao! Your desire for revenge, your resolve! Once you have mastered qi, the next step is to truly make it your own. Why do you think the true qi of a Spirit Manifestation cultivator is superior? True qi is simply the medium, the real power comes from your Dao. With your Dao as it's guide, true qi can break the limits imposed by the heavens. It becomes a power that is no longer of the heavens, but of you, based on the strength of your Dao."


    Yin Hui shook his head. 


    "I'm sorry Lady Yu. I'm afraid I still don't understand this concept of Dao that you are trying to teach me." 


    Yu Mingxi dropped her staff and walked towards to Yin Hui. She raised her index finger and put it at the spot between his eyebrows.


    "If you cannot see it on your own, then I will show you myself. If you still can't understand it after this, then there really is no hope for you." Yu Mingxi closed her eyes and power began to swell from her finger.


    "What is this--"


    Suddenly, Yin Hui's consciousness shifted. Countless scenes and images flashed around him. It was as if every conceivable thought was being rushed into his brain all at once. Within this realm of knowledge Yin Hui felt like he had the ability to solve every problem in the world. 


    "Is this Dao??"


    Eternal peace, the end of the world, a long reign as an emperor, the life of a simple man. Yin Hui experienced all of these things in an instant, yet it also felt like an eternity at the same time.


    When Yin Hui regained his senses he dropped to his knees. It had only been a few seconds in the real world, but Yin Hui felt like he had just lived countless epochs. He now understood the significance of the Dao and why so many cultivators revered it. The Dao was endless and limitless. With the Dao one could achieve anything and everything.


    Yu Mingxi removed her finger from his forehead.


    "What I've shown you is the great potential of the Dao. It is up to you to find your own and develop it yourself." She picked up her staff and began to pace around Yin Hui.


    "My Dao... What is my Dao..." Yin Hui muttered


    "The first 3 realms of cultivation are about the mastery of qi. Above that are 2 more realms that work on refining the Dao. They are known as Virtue Seeking and Vice Taming. Each of them consist of searching for 3 concepts that compliment each other as well as your Dao. If the Dao is strong enough Dao that person can then take the final step forward and enter to realm of Immortal Treading! At this stage you fuse your 3 virtues and vices together, and with your Dao, summon the heavenly path and open the gate of immortality to become an Earth Immortal!


    With the knowledge Yin Hui obtained from Yin Tou, he thought he had understood most of what cultivation was. After listening to Yu Mingxi, he realized that he merely scratched the surface. In order to progress, you needed a Dao, your own way. With it, one could break the chains imposed by the heavens and become an immortal! Yin Hui understood and accepted this fact quickly. If he wanted to take down the heavens, he needed to rely on his own power, not theirs.


    "I understand. Dao does not lead to power. Power is simply a compliment of the Dao. In fact, power itself can be one's Dao."


    Yu Mingxi nodded her head. Yin Hui had finally understood cultivation and the importance of the Dao.

  • Chapter 13: First Aspect of Spirit Waking

    "In the Spirit Waking realm, the order in which you develop the 3 aspects does not matter. The reason most cultivate spiritual techniques first and divine sense last is simply due to the difficulty. Also, while having a large qi storage will make you more powerful, it is not necessary for advancing through the stages."


    Yin Hui nodded. While he may not be able to increase his qi amounts without consuming others, he could still overcome opponents with greater capacities as long as he was efficient.


    "You already possess a martial skill, so all you need to reach the first aspect is a spell. Martial skills mostly utilize the body, while spells are based on your comprehension and mental abilities. They share the same concept of manipulating qi, but how it is used between the two differs. Since your martial skill is offense oriented, I have chosen 3 beginner level spells that are more utility-based to complement it." Yu Mingxi continued.

     

    "First is the one you've already seen, Living Earth. Using this skill you can manipulate the earth around you into many shapes and forms. Out of the 3 it is the most versatile."


    "The second is called Blinding Light. If used properly you can disorient a large group of opponents with a flash of bright light. This spell is useful should you find yourself surrounded and need to escape. It can also provide a good opportunity to get in a decisive attack during a duel. Compared to the other two this is the most situational."


    "The third is Beast Subjugation. This spell allows you to extend your will upon animals and control them. However, you will need to develop your spiritual sense before you are able to practice it. Being the final spell, this one is the most difficult."


    Yin Hui thought about the 3 spells Yu Mingxi offered. Each spell was extremely useful, with various purposes fitting many different situations.


    In addition to practicing the Wind Bullet, Yu Mingxi gave Yin Hui the method of using the Living Earth Spell. Having already seen it in use once, along with Yu Mingxi's tips Yin Hui grasped the fundamentals of the spell very quickly. Satisfied, Yu Mingxi left Yin Hui to practice on his own, returning back to check on Yu Zhuwa.


    After about 6 hours of practice, Yin Hui could form the dome that Yu Mingxi used to trap him. Whenever he was tired or low on spirit energy, Yin Hui would sit down a meditate. He found out that absorbing spiritual energy from his surroundings not only restored his internal qi storages, but relieved him of his fatigue as well.


    Content with his progress on the Living Earth spell, he began to practice the Wind Bullet. Qi swirled around Yin Hui's fists as he assumed the stance of the Wind Bullet. When he first used it, one Wind Bullet took 10 minutes of condensing before it could be fired. As he practiced, the time it took to charge was cut in half. Yin Hui also experimented with using different amounts of air too. Although it took a whole 30 minutes, he was able to condense a palm sized amount of air into a full Wind Bullet. 


    Yin Hui hypothesized what the complete mastery of the Wind Bullet would be like. 


    "When the Wind Bullet has reached full mastery, I could probably take down a fully grown tree with ease! Also, by that point there should be no charge time regardless of the amount of air. At peak potential, I could probably condense a single breath of air into a lethal weapon in an instant!"


    At sunset, Yu Mingxi returned to check up on Yin Hui. She noticed that there were large holes in various trees as well as huge displacements of dirt. There was even a dome that was identical to the one she used to trap Yin Hui two days prior.


    Yu Mingxi found Yin Hui meditating on the ground. He was covered in sweat and dirt from all the hours of practice. When he opened his eyes, he saw Yu Mingxi standing in front of him.


    "Congratulations, you have comprehended the use of qi in terms of martial skills and spells. The mastery of those skills and spells will come with time and dedication. However, you have proven that you understand the usage of qi in this manner. Therefore, you can now officially call yourself a First Aspect Spirit Waking cultivator." 


    Yin Hui got up and gave a deep bow once more. Yu Mingxi's tips and her words on the Dao had broadened his horizons. A single day of tutelage had already raised Yin Hui's power exponentially. If he practiced for a couple more weeks, he could not imagine how much stronger he would become.


    "Not only am I happy about your progress. I am also happy that you seem to have motivated Xiao Yu as well. When I mentioned your progress to him, he began to cultivate more diligently. This one day alone was the equivalent of a week at his usual pace." Yu Mingxi had a wide smile on her face. Seeing her pupils advance so quickly gave her a deep feeling of satisfaction. 


    When they returned to the residence, Yu Mingxi prepared a feast in honor of Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa's hard work. A table of food that could've fed 6 people was completely devoured by the two boys. After dinner, Yu Zhuwa and Yin Hui both immediately went to sleep. Both of them exhausted from cultivating so much.


    The next day was very similar to the last. At first light, Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa would cultivate for the entire day. When the sun fell, they would return to rest. The routine of cultivating and resting repeated itself until 2 whole weeks had passed.


    Under Yu Mingxi's instruction, Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa made astounding progress within the last 2 weeks. Yu Zhuwa had completely passed the blood stage of Impurity Cleansing and began to work on his organs. Once he completed it, he would be at the peak of the Impurity Cleansing realm!


    Yin Hui on the other hand, worked on perfecting the two spells Yu Mingxi had given him, as well as the Wind Bullet. After a week, he had become quite proficient with the Living Earth spell. When he first started, using the spell would require deep concentration, as well as hand movements to help guide the earth. Now, a simple gesture and a thought was all he needed to mould the earth they way he wanted.


    The Wind Bullet also improved. If there was a large amount of air present, Yin Hui could fire it at moderate power with only 30 seconds of charge. Even if there was only a breath of air he could still use the Wind Bullet, but it would require 5 minutes of charge.


    Believing Yin Hui was proficient enough with the Living Earth spell, Yu Mingxi began to teach him the Blinding Light spell. Like the Wind Bullet, Blinding Light involved condensing qi. However, there was a twist. Not only did the qi have to be condensed, but it also needed to be converted into light. Normally, this transmutation would only be possible using the true qi of a Spirit Manifestation cultivator. To get pass this, Yu Mingxi taught Yin Hui to use the light from the sun as a substitute. This meant that the spell could only be used during the day, but the positives more than outweighed the negatives. For a Spirit Waking cultivator to be able to use a Spirit Manifestation level spell was an enormous advantage on its own, especially against others of the same realm.


    Back in the training field, Yin Hui was demonstrating his use of the Blinding Light spell to Yu Mingxi. To use the spell, the qi needed to be condensed evenly around the body. Afterwards, the qi would be converted into pure light energy that is released all at once. In Yin Hui's case, he would use his spiritual qi to absorb the light from the sun instead. 


    Yin Hui's body glowed with a thin white as he channeled the rays of the sun around his body. As he condensed more light, the glow intensified. In one huge burst he released all the energy around him at once. Yin Hui's body turned completely white as if he were transformed into a bright light.


    Yu Mingxi, who stood right in front of him was completely unaffected. She stared directly into the light, studying the technique for any flaws. When the light dissipated, Yin Hui was once again visible.


    "Not bad, but it still needs work. The intensity you emitted right there would only blind those who are directly around you. Anyone 10 meters away would be completely unaffected." Yu Mingxi criticized.


    Yin Hui let out a faint smile. The spell wasn't perfect, but he had grasped the basics and just needed more practice.


    "Practice this on your own when you have time. It has already been two weeks, so I would like to move on to the flight aspect of Spirit Waking. Before the Tang return, I am hoping you will have already developed your spiritual sense. While your qi storages are lacking, you are talented. I am sure you will be able to comprehend it in the short time we have." Yu Mingxi said with a smile.


    "I am ready for the next lesson." Yin Hui said confidently.


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Inside the Tang Clan's main palace, Tang Jiao and a fully healed Tang Li knelt before a golden throne. A man wearing extravagant gold robes slowly paced between the two with his hands behind his back. The man looked to be in his mid-sixties, his long hair almost completely white with the exception of a few black strands. On his face was a large diagonal scar that went from his forehead to the bottom of his face, cutting through his left eye. The old man had a strict and serious expression, as if he had never known joy in his entire life.


    This man was Tang Jiao and Tang Li's father, the Clan Head of the Tang Clan and the ruler of the entire province.

  • Chapter 14: Kneel

    "I am disappointed in you Tang Jiao. Very disappointed."


    The Tang Clan Clan Head's voice resonated off the walls of the throne room. Tang Jiao began to sweat as he kept his head down. His father's very presence was akin to an oppressive might, and each word was like a weight being added on top.


    "Not only have you brutally beaten the juniors from our clan, but you also heavily injured your own blood brother. Surely you know that by doing so, you are indirectly injuring me."


    "Lord father I--" Tang Jiao tried to speak, but his entire body frozen.


    "Silence!" The Tang Clan Clan Head released his actual oppressive might. 


    Tang Jiao's body smashed into the floor, so hard that it was as if he fell from the roof of the palace. The difference between the imposing presence he felt earlier and his father's real oppressive might was incomparable. His face bruised and his nose began to bleed, but other than that he was not critically injured.


    "Since you are my son, I will let you off easy. If you weren't, you would be walking up the execution platform by now. With the Yan Clan starting to get more aggressive I need the entire clan to be unified." The Clan Head did not retract his oppressive might, he pinpointed it solely onto Tang Jiao, keeping his body pressed flat on the ground.


    After a short while, he lessened the pressure of his oppressive might. Tang Jiao still felt the pressure, but he was no longer on the ground and resumed his kneeling position.


    "Father, I wanted to tell you that I have found a clue to unlocking the secrets behind the jade pillar in the Yin Clan Ancestral Burial Grounds."


    The Tang Clan Clan Head's eye's lit up, but his expression did not change. 


    "Speak." The oppressive might surrounding Tang Jiao decreased an entire notch.


    "That slave from the Yin Clan, Yin Hui. When he touched the pillar a golden light appeared and transported him somewhere. Approximately two hours after that, my servant was also pulled in. I have not seen them since." Tang Jiao explained.


    Tang Li who had his head down the entire time grit his teeth. The Clan Head shifted his gaze onto Tang Li and the oppressive might spread onto him. Tang Li's pupils shrank as his entire body trembled. He felt like if the pressure was increased anymore his injuries would rupture.


    "Tang Li, I know you are close with that brat from the Yin Clan. However, is he really worth the endangerment of the entire clan?! If he received the full inheritance of that tablet, he could become a powerful enemy! Your actions are jeopardizing the clan just as much as Tang Jiao!" The Tang Clan Clan Head's energy flared in anger.


    The oppressive might bearing down on Tang Li increased. Tang Li coughed out blood and his hands fell to the ground. He knew that their father would be like this. However, since Tang Jiao caused just as much trouble for the clan as him, the punishment would be reduced and split between the two of them.


    Seeing Tang Li receiving a taste of their father's wrath Tang Jiao let out a wry smile, but it instantly vanished when the oppressive might increased on him as well.


    "Both my son's have grown to be such disappointments. One is a traitor aiding a lowly slave. While the other causes strife and conflict in the clan wherever he goes. If I were to die right now and pass the throne onto one of you, we would have an internal rebellion by first light of the next day!" The Clan Head sighed.


    "Tang Jiao, Tang Li. The both of you are to be banished from the clan for a year. You have a single day to prepare your belongings. If you are caught in the capital at any time during your banishment, you are to be executed on sight. Furthermore---"


    Creak~~


    The Tang Clan Clan Head quickly turned his head towards the throne room doors. Killing intent surged in his eyes. Whoever interrupted him had better have a good explanation, or they would share in the punishment.


    An old man with a silver ring emerged from the doors, beside him was a youth around his early 20's similar to Tang Jiao. It was Tang Wan and his son Tang Bian.


    "Forgive this intrusion Lord Clan Head. My son and I were simply minding our own business when we overheard something rather interesting." Tang Wan gave a respectful bow towards the Clan Head.


    "Tang Wan, can't you see I am currently not in the mood... State your purpose!" The Clan Head boomed.


    Tang Wan did not respond to the question, instead he motioned towards his son. Tang Bian walked up to where Tang Jiao and Tang Li were and dropped to one knee.


    "I pay my respects to Lord Clan Head." Tang Bian said clasping his hands.


    A fire lit inside the Clan Head's eyes.


    "Tang Wan... I do not have the patience to deal with anymore brats! Even if he is your son, if what he says does not peak my interest, I will not spare him!"


    Tang Wan stood with complete indifference. He looked at Tang Bian, but his expression remained unchanged.


    "I have taught the boy for many years now. If he is to bring shame to me by embarrassing himself in front of Lord Clan Head, I will not bat an eye to whatever punishment you cast upon him."


    An icy gaze appeared in Tang Wan eyes. The coldness in his face rivaled even that of the Clan Head.


    "Even if that penalty is death." Tang Wan finished.


    There wasn't a single change in expression when these words entered Tang Bian's ears. One would think that a person would be at least slightly affected if their own father made such a declaration, but Tang Bian continued to kneel solemnly before the Clan Head as if nothing was wrong.


    The Clan Head locked eyes with Tang Wan. To the kneeling Tang Jiao and Tang Li, it looked as if the two were currently in a mental confrontation with each other. After a few seconds passed, the Clan Head scoffed and closed his eyes. He walked up to the golden throne and took a seat, his eyes still brimming with a strong flame.


    "You may speak boy. For your sake as well as your father's, this better appease me."


    Tang Bian clasped his hands and lowered his head.


    "Thank you Lord Clan Head. I apologise for eavesdropping, but I heard that we are missing a slave who goes by the surname Yin." Tang Bian spoke very clearly and decisively, as if he felt no pressure at all. Despite a drop of sweat leaving his forehead from the Clan Head's imposing aura, his expression was calm.


    "What of it?" The Clan Head asked impatiently.


    "I recently encountered a young man during my negotiations with the Scattered Leaf Village in the outer regions. His appearance was very similar to a slave Tang Jiao used to pick on frequently. The man's name was Yin Hui and be seemed to be similar in age to Young Lord Tang Li. However, this Yin Hui was not a mortal, and possessed the power of a Spirit Waking Cultivator with no aspects."


    Tang Li's eyes widened when he heard this.


    "That must be him! How did he get as far as the Scattered Leaf Village? He even has Spirit Waking cultivation? Regardless of the details this is great news!" 


    Beside him, killing intent surged in Tang Jiao's eyes. 


    "So the brat survived. Furthermore, he now has a cultivation base and is in the outer regions of the province. Grr... I assume Tao Shou is dead then."


    The Clan Head noticed the subtle fluctuation of emotions within his two sons. Therefore, he concluded that the person Tang Bian spoke of must be the missing slave in question. The fire within his eye's diminished and his expression slightly softened. 


    "Interesting. Well done boy. Unlike my son's, your actions have always been to the benefit of the clan. You indeed honor your father." The tone in the Clan Head's voice was very different compared to the one he had earlier. While it was still imposing and powerful, the coldness behind it was much lower.


    "When you return to settle things with the Scattered Leaf Village, I will assign a vanguard of some of the clan's experts to accompany you. You will capture this brat alive and bring him before me."


    A smile appeared on Tang Bian's face.


    "Of course Lord Clan Head. I shall depart soon."


    Tang Jiao rose to his feet. With his father's calmed state, the power behind his oppressive might weakened, allowing him to stand.


    "Lord Father! Allow me to accompany the vanguard! That brat has most likely taken the life of my servant, I must seek justice!"


    "Sit down!" The Clan Head's rage instantly peaked and his oppressive might was released once more, subduing Tang Jiao. He looked towards Tang Li with a serious expression.


    "I have decided to retract my earlier sentence for you two. Tang Li, this missing slave is your responsibility. Therefore, I want you to be the one to bring this boy before me. If you fail, I will be extremely displeased."


    Tang Li lowered his head, still kneeling.


    "Yes Lord Father." His voice was calm, but in his mind Tang Li was elated.


    The Clan Head returned his gaze to Tang Jiao, who's body was shaking from the intense pressure being placed on it.


    "You on the other hand, will venture to all the branch families of the juniors you have bullied and apologize for your actions. You will then make amends by fulfilling one request of their desire. This can be anything, including the surrender of your personal treasures or torture. The only restriction is that they cannot take your life or cause permanent any damage."


    "Yes..." Tang Jiao accepted bitterly. He was a proud person. To him, banishment was a lighter punishment compared to catering to the whims of the branch families.


    The Clan Head retracted his oppressive might, leaving only the pressure of his imposing presence. While his expression was still the same, Tang Jiao and Tang Li could tell he was in a better mood.


    "You are all dismissed, fulfill the roles you have been given." The Clan Head waved his hand in a dismissing motion.


    All three kneeling juniors got up and bowed deeply to the Clan Head. When they left, only Tang Wan and the Clan Head were still present. Tang Wan looked towards the Clan Head's direction, but it didn't seem like his attention was on him. 


    "Elder Tang Wan. The Clan Chief is right here."


    Tang Wan shifted his gaze to the Clan Head's eyes, giving a short bow before leaving the room.


    When Tang Wan left, a frown appeared on the Clan Head's face.


    "Hmph..."

  • Chapter 15: Rapid Progress

    Yin Hui's brows furrowed as he layered his body with spirit energy. In order to fly, one needed to use spiritual qi to create a barrier between the user and the environment. The layer of qi could make whatever was inside it absolutely weightless, which could then be adjusted mentally to produce flight. This was heavily taxing on the mind and required Yin Hui's utmost concentration.

    "When you are sure your entire body has been covered in a thin layer of spiritual energy, begin gradually reducing your weight. This is your first time so take it slow." Yu Mingxi said.

    Veins popped out of Yin Hui's head from the stress. Gradually, his feet began to rise from the ground. He rose about 10 centimeters before his concentration collapsed and he fell to the ground.

    "Maintaining the barrier strains my mind so much." Yin Hui thought to himself.

    "Normally, as one progresses through the cultivation realms their capacity for qi increases. Since that is not the case for you, the difficulty is much higher. Each bit of qi you exert from your body needs to be used with absolute efficiency, not a single bit should be wasted." Yu Mingxi lectured.

    Yin Hui plopped his back on the soft grass. To fully reach the second aspect, he needed to be able to fly effortlessly for two whole hours. Just now, it already took all he had just to lift a few centimeters off the ground for a second.

    "Keep working on it. Look at the river beside you. It flows in a continuous motion without a single wasted movement. Though it may deviate every now and then from a well-placed rock, it simply moves around it and resumes its course. Become like water, adapt until it becomes effortless."

    Yin Hui nodded and got back up. He imagined the qi circulating around his body like the river. Flowing freely and continuously without a single wasted effort. His mind relaxed and he began to levitate once more. This time, Yin Hui was now a full three meters above the ground!

    "The trick to flight is to make yourself like a river... I understand now!"

    Though Yin Hui was ecstatic that he now knew the secret to flight, he was also ashamed. All his achievements, including his recently learned spells were not from his own enlightenment. Every step of the way he required some sort of hint from Yu Mingxi. If she wasn't there to give him advice he probably would've still been fumbling with the Blinding Light spell.

    Yu Mingxi saw Yin Hui's glum expression and was curious as to why he looked sad despite his recent improvement.

    "What is wrong Yin Hui? While it is preferred that you learn flight as quickly as possible, I am not expecting you to master it in the first few hours. You must be thorough in understanding the applications of qi, or else it can cause great consequences in the future."

    Yin Hui turned to Yu Mingxi and clasped his hands.

    "Not to be rude Lady Yu. I am extremely grateful for your lessons and guidance. However, I feel ashamed that all of my growth has not been through my own comprehension."

    As a slave, Yin Hui had to learn much about life on his own. He did not have any formal education and simply learned through observation and intuition. The surrounding slaves taught him the basics of reading and writing, but most of his vocabulary was built from witnessing the interactions between other slaves and the Tang Clan.

    Therefore to Yin Hui, the act of having a personal teacher guide him in his training felt very odd. He had always been an independent learner. With knowledge being handed to him without any work on his end, Yin Hui felt like he was just stealing from Yu Mingxi own efforts.

    Yu Mingxi understood Yin Hui's meaning and put her hand on his shoulder.

    "Yin Hui, there is nothing wrong with having a little guidance from a senior. A senior is one who has been in the same shoes as a junior, but learned to overcome the challenge. Though I have pointed you in the right direction, the act of putting those tips into practicality belongs to you entirely." Yu Mingxi comforted.

    Yin Hui nodded and continued to practice.

    "She's right, having a teacher does not lower my achievements. Instead, having one allows me to save time and know that my efforts are being put in the right direction. I need to utilize Lady Yu's great experience as much as I still can. If the day comes where she can no longer instruct me, I need to be ready to progress myself."

    A whole week passed. Yin Hui had fully mastered flight and had completed the second aspect of Spirit Waking. Yu Zhuwa also made shocking progress, his organs were nearly completely refined and he was only a hair's breadth away from the peak of the Impurity Cleansing realm.

    Initially, Yin Hui would not have mastered flight this quickly. However, seeing the sheer amount of effort he was putting into it, Yu Mingxi gave him a little help. She used her own spirit energy to allow Yin Hui to feel the full effects of flight in its completed state. When Yin Hui experienced what true mastery of flight was really like, his comprehension greatly increased. Yin Hui was naturally a perceptive person and quickly memorized how his body felt during the whole demonstration. With his newfound understanding, the speed of his progression skyrocketed, allowing him to master it within a single week.

    As the final week before Tang Bian returned began, Yin Hui was back at the training field. This was potentially his last seven lessons with Yu Mingxi. Yu Zhuwa, who had made immense progress with his cultivation, got bored of cultivating and decided to spectate Yin Hui's lessons.

    "Since I'm almost in the Spirit Waking realm, its fitting that I'm here now right Grandma Yu?" Yu Zhuwa said in a playful tone.

    "Yes, I did say that what is covered in these lessons is only useful to Spirit Waking cultivators. Since your almost there, I'll allow you to spectate this week's lessons."

    Yu Mingxi turned towards Yin Hui.

    "Yin Hui! This is the final challenge you must overcome in mastering qi. You must develop your own spiritual sense!"

    Yin Hui stood with a confident expression. Spiritual sense was essentially the most useful skill one could learn in the Spirit Waking realm. The ability to extend your vision beyond what your eyes could normally see could be used for many different purposes.

    "Now then, the reason why spiritual sense is so difficult to learn is because it is a skill that is half a step into the Spirit Manifestation realm. It is essentially integrating your own soul and will into the qi within your body so that it acts as an extension of yourself. To others, it will feel as if another you was looking directly at them. When used on a weaker cultivator, various characteristics can be revealed such as their cultivation level. However, if a cultivator is of the same strength or stronger, your spiritual sense can actually be severed or destroyed. If this happens, you will be weakened for a short while until your spirit recovers." Yu Mingxi explained.

    Developing spiritual sense was already difficult for most cultivators. This was even moreso for Yin Hui. Because of the curse on his soul, incorporating part of his spirit into the qi was going to be extremely difficult.

    Yin Hui began attempting to integrate his soul with the qi storage in his body. Unfortunately, whenever he tried to merge his soul with the spiritual qi, the qi would always reject it immediately. Even when he tried using a tiny sliver, the energy would simply back away the moment it got close. Two hours had passed and Yin Hui had made no progress on developing his spiritual sense.

    "Damn it! I can't merge my spirit with the qi! The curse on my soul restricts it from even being near spiritual energy!"

    Yu Mingxi sighed. She knew that this would be the most difficult aspect to overcome. Even with all her experience, she had no solution around this particular problem. One needed to be able to integrate a part of their soul into spiritual qi to progress their cultivation. This was especially true in the Spirit Manifestation realm, as this personal qi was the foundation for forming an ethereal spirit.

    An entire day passed and Yin Hui had still made zero progress.

    "I cannot allow myself to stop here. My goal is to climb to the peak and show the heaven's the mistake they made when they cursed me. In order to do that, I need to make their power mine!" Yin Hui did not give up. If his years of servitude taught him anything it was resolve.

    Yu Zhuwa yawned. Watching Yin Hui struggle for an entire day had started to bore him. He looked at Yu Mingxi who had a hopeless look on her face.

    "Is there really nothing you can do to help Grandma Yu? You helped him learn flight last time didn't you?"

    Yu Mingxi shook her head.

    "Spiritual sense is innate to each person, it's not something I can just give. Even if I left a trace of my spirit sense in him only I would be able to use it."

    Yu Zhuwa's face grew gloomy.

    "Sigh... The whole point of cultivation is to break the limits of qi by using our dao. However, one needs to use qi to give life to their dao to begin with. If only Big Brother Yin Hui wasn't completely rejected by the heaven's and given that curse. In fact, shouldn't all cultivators at the Spirit Manifestation realm be cursed as well. They're basically stealing the qi from the heaven's and making it their own, which is essentially putting their own curse on the qi. "

    When Yu Zhuwa's words entered Yin Hui's ears his eyes lit up.

    "Yu Zhuwa, that's it!"

    Yu Zhuwa had a puzzled expression on his face.

    "What do you mean?" Yu Zhuwa asked.

    "Cultivators aren't the only one's who can be cursed. If given the right requirements, qi itself can also be cursed and cast out of the heaven's! And that qi is what I'll use to solve this problem!"

  • NO! Why did you make me wanting for more of the story after what happened at the end of the latest chapter?

    I demand more right now! Honestly, I am loving this so far and the worldbuilding is also pretty great as well.
  • edited November 2019
    Haha thanks! Ask and you shall receive! I feel like this next one will have a bigger cliffhanger though! :wink:
  • Chapter 16: This Isn't Normal Spiritual Sense...

    "You're going to form your spiritual sense using cursed qi? Where are you going to get some though? I was just joking about calling the true qi of Spirit Manifestation cultivators cursed. True qi of another cultivator can't be used to make your spiritual sense because it possesses the will of the other person." Yu Zhuwa was confused. Even if cursed qi existed, how was Yin Hui going to get some? Not even an expert such as Grandma Yu could create such a thing. 


    Suddenly, it came to him. Did Yin Hui already have cursed qi on him before they first met?


    The corners of Yin Hui's lips rose. 


    "Since the spiritual qi of the heaven's rejects me, I'll use qi that rejects the heaven's! What I am using may not be cursed, but I guarantee that it is free from the influence of the heaven's!" Yin Hui reached into his bag of holding and pulled out the mass of incomplete demonic qi.


    Yu Mingxi's eyes widened.


    "I see! Demonic qi is qi that has been defiled, and by it's very nature rejects the heaven's. Therefore, it should be able to merge with his soul! Is he planning on creating his spiritual sense based solely off of demonic qi? Is that even possible?"


    Yin Hui released the seals on the demonic qi and absorbed it into his body. He immediately sat on the ground and began to meditate, his body turning completely black. 


    "While I could use the demonic qi to form my spiritual sense, I have a better idea! Lady Yu said that the trick to breaking the limits of qi is to form my dao. Normally, people master the use of qi first before progressing their dao to gain greater power. However, I will do the opposite! I will use this demonic qi to form my dao, and with my dao, force spiritual qi to submit to me! Then I won't have to rely on obtaining more demonic qi if my spiritual sense is destroyed. I will be able to force normal qi to integrate with me using my dao!" 


    Inside Yin Hui's body, there were two balls of light. One was pure white and was shining brightly, permeating with spiritual energy. This was Tao Shou's soul, which Yin Hui had stolen when he became a cultivator. The other ball of light was grey and dull, as if all the life and vitality had been drained out of it. As the incomplete demonic qi seeped into Yin Hui's body, the qi converged towards the grey ball of light that represented Yin Hui's soul. Yin Hui's soul began to emit a black aura and a faint red glow could be seen growing deep within.


    "If the spiritual qi of the heaven's rejects me, then I will subjugate it by force! Using demonic qi, I will form my dao and make the power of the heaven's submit to me! I already know what my dao shall be. My dao is vengeance! Unyielding! Unshakeable! A dao that rises up with greater power the more it's struck down! A dao of evolution!"


    The red glow within Yin Hui's soul grew stronger. Suddenly, a powerful red light emerged that completely absorbed the demonic qi. When the demonic qi was fully assimilated, all that was left was a red ball of light radiating an aura of aggression.


    Yin Hui stood up, his features were once again visible and his body radiated a blood red aura.


    "Impossible! Yin Hui didn't use the demonic qi as a foundation to create his spiritual sense! Instead, he used it to form his dao! This red aura... is it killing intent? No... this is a lust for revenge! An insatiable desire for vengeance against all those who have wronged him. His dao is the Dao of Vengeance!" Yu Mingxi was shocked. Most cultivators waited till they were at the peak of the Spirit Manifestation realm before forming their dao. Even then, finding a dao that perfectly matched with them often took years of introspection. A two aspect Spirit Waking cultivator forming their own dao was something she never heard of her whole life. Not only that, but it seemed like Yin Hui's dao was perfectly in sync with his soul, as if the dao he picked embodied the very essence of his character.


    Yin Hui closed his eyes and pointed towards the sky.


    "Spiritual qi come to me!" He commanded.


    Spiritual energy began to move once more into Yin Hui's body. Like before, when it came into contact with his soul it started to back away. However, this time red hands extended from Yin Hui's soul and grabbed onto the escaping qi. The strands of qi squirmed around trying to break free, but the red hands would not relent. They pulled the strands into Yin Hui's soul, allowing him to imprint his will into the qi. 


    "He's doing it! Big Brother Yin Hui has created his dao and is now integrating his soul with the qi!" Yu Zhuwa was ecstatic.


    "Yin Hui! Once you have accumulated a substantial amount of qi imbued with your will, allow it to spread out while keeping it attached to you!" Yu Mingxi said.


    "Got it!" The spiritual qi inside Yin Hui's body was already struggling to be released. Now that it was imprinted with his will, it could only go so far as it was now tethered to his soul as spiritual sense. Yin Hui let the strands of spiritual qi go and his spiritual sense expanded around him.


    Yu Mingxi and Yu Zhuwa, who were standing only a few meters away from Yin Hui suddenly froze. A cold aura filled with killing intent swept by them. The intent was so thick that it felt like someone was holding a sharp knife at their throats. The atmosphere turned dull and grim, as if all the joy in the world vanished.


    "Is that... Big Brother Yin Hui's spiritual sense?" Yu Zhuwa shuddered.


    A drop of sweat fell from Yu Mingxi's forehead.


    "This is not normal spiritual sense... What is this? His eyes are closed, but it feels like he is looking straight at me. This is proof that this is spiritual sense.. but there's more than that! This cold and twisted atmosphere! Is this because of the combination of his fiend body and the demonic qi? Or is it because of his Dao? I've never experienced something like this before so I can't say for certain! Countless theories were racing through Yu Mingxi's mind. 


    Even though his eyes were closed, Yin Hui could still see. The rushing water of the river, the lush green grass in the training field, and even the figures of Yu Mingxi and Yu Zhuwa. Yin Hui had never had vision like this before. It was like he was an omnipotent god. The sense was omnidirectional and he could analyze multiple things and their individual movements all at once. At the same time a cricket moved, he could also see a bear hunting a fox in the opposite direction.


    "So this is the power of spiritual sense?" Yin Hui thought.


    Yin Hui was completely oblivious to the cold and dark aura he was emitting with his spiritual sense. All he was feeling was a sense of pride in breaking past the most difficult aspect of the Spirit Waking stage. As of this moment, he was a Third Aspect Spirit Waking cultivator. 


    Yin Hui experimented with the range of his spiritual sense, trying to figure out his limit. He found that his range was about 100 meters, which was equivalent to the size of the field he was training in. 


    The only regret Yin Hui had in developing his spiritual sense was that it used up all the demonic qi Yin Tou gave him. However, he felt that it was a necessary sacrifice as progressing through the cultivation ranks provided a more stable source of power. Yin Hui retracted his spiritual sense back into his body and approached Yu Mingxi and Yu Zhuwa.


    "Thanks for the tip Yu Zhuwa. I don't think I would've figured out the solution to this without you." Yin Hui said with a smile.


    Yu Zhuwa looked at Yin Hui with terror in his eyes. 


    "What's wrong Yu Zhuwa? Did the demonic qi I pull out scare you? Don't worry I had everything under control. Besides, it's gone for good now."


    Yin Hui looked towards Yu Mingxi, hoping that she would provide a better explanation than him. However, when he saw Yu Mingxi's face, he noticed that it was also covered with shock and fright.


    "Yin Hui, did you not feel the change in atmosphere when you released your spiritual sense?" Yu Mingxi asked.


    "Hmm? No I didn't. Was there an issue?" Yin Hui was confused. To him, his spiritual sense felt exactly as Yu Mingxi said it would, an extended sense.


    "When you released your spiritual sense, a dark aura filled the area. I can't explain it, but it's as if your spiritual sense was tainting the world around it. There was also this thick killing intent, as if a dagger was raised to my throat. Perhaps it has something to do with your demonic cultivation." Yu Mingxi hypothesized.


    Yin Hui released his spiritual sense again, but only in a small circle around him. This time, he also used his actual eyes to analyze the effects of his own spiritual sense. 


    "What is this?"


    The grass covered by his spiritual sense was trembling. The strands closest to Yin Hui were pointing away from him, like they were trying to avoid his presence. He took a step back and found that the grass he was standing on had been cut in half. Yin Hui's shoes were thin and made of bamboo, so there was no way they would be sharp enough to cut grass by standing on it.


    Perhaps, it really was his demonic cultivation that was causing this. After all, to form his dao, Yin Hui used demonic qi as the foundation. The innate nature of demonic qi was overbearing and cold, which was perfectly in line with the observed effects on the grass.


    "It is definitely spiritual sense, but there's also something else. It wouldn't be wrong to say that it is a different kind of spiritual sense, possibly unique to him." Yu Mingxi pondered. While she was extremely curious about Yin Hui's unique spiritual sense, she was also extremely wary. 


    "Did I make a mistake? Was it really a wise choice to train this boy? He has potential and a special cultivation path, but this feeling of unease." For a brief moment Yu Mingxi contemplated killing Yin Hui right there. There was something within him that she feared, but couldn't specify exactly what. If Yin Hui was allowed to grow, he could possibly bring a great calamity upon the entire Tang Province, maybe even affect the surrounding provinces as well.


    Yu Mingxi quickly dismissed such thoughts.


    "Even if this ends up being a mistake on my part, I will not stop it. This boy's life will be full of adversity and struggle anyways given his circumstances. If he is to truly rise above all that and carve a path of destruction then it will simply be fate."


    "Village Leader! Village Leader!" A voice called out.


    It was one of the villagers. A young man with an athletic build sprinted out of the forest clearing and stopped in front of Yu Mingxi. He gasped for air as if he hadn't taken a breath since he started running.


    "What's the matter young man? Did something happen to the village?" Yu Mingxi asked.


    "Village Leader... The Tang Clan has arrived early... They're waiting for you in the village right now!"

  • Chapter 17: Turning The Crowd

    "The Tang have returned already? They shouldn't be here for another few days!" Yu Mingxi was shocked. 


    "Yes chief! The young lord of the Tang Clan said he requests to see you immediately." The villager said urgently.


    Yu Mingxi cursed under her breath.


    "Damn it. I was planning on giving Yin Hui a few things back at the residence and sending him off before the Tang returned. They must've came early to capture him, but how did they know he was still in the village?"


    Yin Hui frowned when he heard the Tang had returned. Tang Jiao must've told Tang Bian about his disappearance when he returned to the Clan. With his keen intuition, Tang Bian probably made a connection between Yin Hui's appearance in the Scattered Leaf Village and reported it. Since he carried secrets concerning how to unlock the ancestral tablet, they most likely came early with the intent of capturing him.


    "Lady Yu, I'm sorry for the trouble I've caused to you. If I leave right now, I could probably attract some of their attention away from the village."


    Yu Mingxi raised her hand.


    "No, there is something I need to give you before you depart. It is a very important item that could guarantee your safety for a long time. We'll return to the village, but you need to stay hidden." Yu Mingxi pointed her finger towards Yin Hui and a thin purple ray shot out of her hand. When the ray made contact with Yin Hui his entire body disappeared.


    "This concealing spell will protect you from the eyes of others. However, you cannot get close as the spiritual sense of a cultivator can still trace your presence." 


    "Is Big Brother Yin Hui going to be okay Grandma Yu?" Yu Zhuwa asked.


    Yu Mingxi put her hand on Yu Zhuwa's head.


    "Don't worry, even if they brought an elder I will not turn in Yin Hui." Yu Mingxi reassured.


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Back at the Scattered Leaf Village, Tang Bian was waiting patiently outside the village chief's residence. Beside him was Tang Li, as well as 9 middle aged men and 1 woman all wearing blue robes bearing the Tang Clan crest. The villager's all hid in their homes, taking occasional glances through small holes in their windows.


    "We're almost a week early, won't this hurt your chances of reaching an agreement with the village chief?" Tang Li asked.


    "Don't worry about that. If we don't succeed in establishing an outpost in this village we can always find another. On the other hand, the key to unlocking the Yin Clan's Ancestral Tablet is far more valuable." Tang Bian replied. The Tang Clan had been trying to unlock the secrets of the ancestral tablet for years. If the clan could get ahold of the secrets within, it would exponentially increase their overall strength. After all, the inheritance of a former overlord with a history of an immortal ancestor was not something one could take lightly.


    "Ah, it looks like the village head has returned." Tang Bian turned towards the village's main gate where he saw Yu Mingxi walking up to the residence. He gave a short bow and put on a very amiable smile on his face.


    "Welcome back Lady Yu. While I have returned earlier than expected, I assure you it is for a different matter. I will not go back on my words and you will still have a full month to make your decision."


    Yu Mingxi scoffed


    "What could this matter be for you to bring 6 Spirit Waking cultivators, 4 Spirit Manifestation cultivators, and the second son of the Tang Clan's Clan Chief? Are they also here to influence my decision on whether my Scattered Leaf Village accepts your offer? If you truly want to give me face, tell your envoy to retract their spiritual senses. I do not like it when others are sniffing around my village like dogs."


    Tang Bian kept up his pleasant demeanor and waved his hands. When he did, all the spiritual senses surveiling the village dissipated.


    The four Spirit Manifestation cultivators growled as they took back their spiritual sense. According to the reports, the village leader of the Scattered Leaf Village was at the peak of the Spirit Manifestation realm. Each of the Spirit Manifestation cultivators Tang Bian brought with him were also at the peak stage. Therefore, they were extremely irritated that they had to obey the request of someone who was only of equal power to one of them. On top of that she also called them dogs, which was an insult they did not take lightly.


    When the spiritual senses were gone, Yu Zhuwa and Yin Hui snuck into the village chief's residence. Both of them were hidden by Yu Mingxi's concealing technique and invisible to the eyes of the Tang Clan envoy. Yin Hui paused for a moment when he saw Tang Li, but knew that it was not the time to reveal himself to him.


    Inside the residence, Yin Hui collected some supplies that would aid him on the road. He took spare clothes, preservable food, and even a makeshift shelter that he found lying around. Yu Zhuwa also helped, providing Yin Hui with many useful talismans that Yu Mingxi created in case of emergencies. Some of these talismans had effects such as beast-warding or concealment, which would be very useful while on the run.


    "Big Brother Yin Hui, take this too!" Yu Zhuwa handed over the small chest he stole from the bandits when they first met. He opened it and inside were around 200 tiny glimmering white crystals. The crystals emitted rich spiritual energy that was much more condensed then the spiritual energy naturally existing in the air.


    Yin Hui was amazed. Just one of these crystals held enough qi to replenish his entire reservoir of qi many times over.


    "These are qi crystals. While useless to mortals, they have a lot of use for cultivators. Many sects use qi crystals as currency for crafting reasons or to stabilize formations. However, you can also use them in battles to replenish your qi and heal your wounds! This small box doesn't have enough crystals to buy much, but I'm pretty sure you can use them to recover from tough fights!" Yu Zhuwa placed the box inside Yin Hui's bag of holding. 


    Yin Hui was speechless. He had only known Yu Zhuwa for a little under a month yet he was already giving him such a great gift. Yin Hui did not know how to respond, so he simply looked at Yu Zhuwa with the most grateful expression he could make.


    "Alright, looks like your all ready to go. Let's go sneak out while Grandma Yu still has them distracted."


    "The reason I have brought these cultivators from my clan is because we are chasing after a missing slave. Actually, that missing slave was a young man I met on my way out from our last meeting. His name was Yin Hui. If Lady Yu would kindly hand over the person in question the Tang Clan will appreciate it greatly." Outside, Tang Bian was still negotiating with Yu Mingxi.


    "You people from the Tang Clan are just bullies!" A mortal youth got out from his house and shouted at the Tang envoy. At that moment, countless villagers opened their windows to take a look at the brave young man who dared to speak against the Tang.


    "Just because your the overlord of the province doesn't mean you can do whatever you want! I've heard of countless villages who have been forced into slavery by the Tang Clan! Your a clan comprised of immortals yet you are shameless enough to use mortals as slave labor! One of your slaves has escaped from your cruel hands and you expect us to throw them back into your tyrannical arms once more?"


    Yu Mingxi let out a thin smile. She was proud of the boy for standing up to such powerful enemies and having the courage to speak his mind.


    "This brat needs to be taught a lesson." One of the Spirit Waking cultivators took a step forward. However, Tang Bian pulled him back.


    "Splendid speech my friend. Unfortunately, the slave we are talking about here is not just an escapee, but also a murderer. He murdered one of our attendants with such brutal and discrete means we cannot even find the body. Furthermore, I never said our clan would not compensate you for assisting us. In fact, if you help us, not only will I guarantee the safety of you all, I will also allow the entire village to relocate to one of the most fertile valleys in the province. To keep things simple, if you turn in this slave all of you will live in luxury for the rest of your lives."


    "Tang Bian! You dare spout lies of that sort in front of me?!" Yu Mingxi was exasperated.


    "Lies? I am the son of an elder and grand advisor to the Clan Head. I believe I am fully capable of fulfilling such a request if necessary." Tang Bian said confidently.


    "Lady Yu, the Tang Clan's offer does seem reasonable." A middle aged man in one of the village houses voiced his approval at Tang Bian's offer.


    "I agree, after all its only the life of one slave who is also a murderer. A promise of luxury for such a simple task may never come in one's life again." A young woman from another house said.


    "You all..." Yu Mingxi's face began to turn red with anger.


    "Yeah! The Tang Clan hold greater power then the Yan Clan already! Mind as well, join the winning side while we can!" Another shouted.


    The Tang vanguard behind Tang Bian all had wicked smiles all over their faces. 


    "Elder Tang Wan's son is truly a remarkable person." The female Spirit Manifestation cultivator praised.


    "Definitely, unlike Tang Jiao, he is respected by all the members of the Clan and doesn't bully us of the junior generation using his status." One of the Spirit Waking youths added.


    "If Lord Clan Head is to pick a successor, I hope that he see's the bigger picture and chooses Tang Bian."


    Yu Mingxi smashed her staff hard onto the ground. 


    "Tang Bian! I will never reveal the location of Yin Hui! That boy has a future that will change the fate of this entire province! I will not let you take him!" 


    "I agree. That is why I want to take him down now and prevent that future from occurring. In any case, I don't need you to reveal his location. I already know where he is!" Tang Bian put two fingers on his forehead and let out a small grunt.


    A bright flash emitted from the top of the hill where the village leader's residence was. When it subsided, the concealment spell hiding Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa was gone, revealing their figures to the Tang envoy.

  • Chapter 18: Yu Mingxi's Power

    Seeing Yu Zhuwa and Yin Hui at the top of the hill, the ten cultivators Tang Bian brought with him flew up and surrounded them.


    "How?! I thought they retracted their spiritual senses!" Yu Zhuwa cried.


    "We did, however there was one that wasn't retracted." Tang Bian walked through the encirclement and stood face to face with the two captives.


    Tang Bian snapped his fingers and Yin Hui's bag of holding began to shine. A golden coin popped out of the bag and landed onto Tang Bian's hand.


    "T-The golden coin you gave me!" Yu Zhuwa was aghast.


    "That's right, this coin has my spiritual sense tied to it. So whatever was nearby the coin, I could sense it. That was how I knew Yin Hui was still in the village and how I knew you were hiding right here." Tang Bian twirled the coin in his fingers before putting it into the folds of his robes.


    Yu Zhuwa dropped to his knees. He really was clumsy. The coin was probably still in the chest when he gave it to Yin Hui. Now that one mistake has led to the both of them getting caught.


    "You may be a capable thief. But sometimes greed can have it's consequences." Tang Bian ruffled Yu Zhuwa's hair like he did before. Only this time, the smile on his face looked much faker then when Yu Zhuwa first met him. He pointed at Yin Hui and signalled to the cultivators around them.


    "Take him."


    Purple light began to emerge from the hands of one of the Spirit Waking cultivators. The light condensed into a set of purple chains laced with spirit energy. Just as he was about to throw them onto Yin Hui, a powerful oppressive might filled the area.


    "Tang Bian! Don't act as if I'm not here! I will not let you capture Yin Hui!" Yu Mingxi's voiced echoed throughout the entire village. 


    With the exception of Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa, everyone at the top of the hill was trembling from Yu Mingxi's oppressive might. Even the four peak Spirit Manifestation cultivators were unable to move freely under the suppression.


    "That old hag! Were the reports wrong? This power is clearly greater than that of Spirit Manifestation!" A Spirit Manifestation cultivator cursed.


    Tang Li, who was still at the bottom of the hill, stared at the enraged Yu Mingxi who was casually walking up towards Tang Bian and the others.


    "Lady Yu... I take it that this means you will be declining our offer of protection and luxury for you and the rest of the villagers..." Under Yu Mingxi's oppressive might, Tang Bian found it difficult to even speak.


    "That's right! If you come with terms, bring the golden medallion of your Clan Head instead! The silver medallion of an elder is not enough! You and your father are just servants of the Clan Head, unworthy of my attention! They call you young lord, but I laugh because you're not even a member of the Tang Clan's main family! Leave my village, future servant boy of the Clan Head!" Yu Mingxi threw the silver medallion back to Tang Bian.


    For the first time ever, Tang Bian's amiable smile disappeared and a trace of anger flashed in his eyes. The 10 cultivators he brought with him were surprised. 


    "I've never seen young lord Tang Bian get angry before." A Spirit Waking cultivator said.


    "That's true, even in the face of Lord Clan Head he never drops his charming smile." Another added.


    "Unfortunate. In that case, I take it that the Scattered Leaf Village has declared itself an enemy of the Tang Clan! Everyone attack! Eliminate the village chief and destroy the village!" There was a visible trace of anger in Tang Bian's voice.


    "Yes young lord!" 


    Immediately, all 10 cultivators rushed Yu Mingxi with martial skills and magic spells. One shot a ball of fire, another shot a bolt of lightning, while another just threw out a qi imbued punch.


    "Impudent." Yu Mingxi tapped her staff hard on the ground and a powerful repulsive force blew away all the techniques. The six Spirit Waking cultivators were also blown away by the force, crashing into different parts of the village. Along with Tang Bian, only the four Spirit Manifestation cultivators remained, 1 female and 3 male.


    "Amazing, she easily knocked away those 6 Spirit Waking cultivators with a single move." Yin Hui was stunned. It was as if the Spirit Waking cultivators were mere ants compared to Yu Mingxi. He now understood just how much she was holding back when they first fought. 


    "That's right! No one can defeat Grandma Yu! Whether it's Spirit Waking or Spirit Manifestation it's all the same!" Yu Zhuwa looked towards the Spirit Manifestation cultivators with a mocking smile on his face.


    The female Spirit Manifestation cultivator clenched her teeth.


    "Summon your ethereal spirits! Use the True Qi Suppression Formation!"


    The three other men in the Spirit Manifestation realm nodded. All four of them quickly surrounded Yu Mingxi and summoned their ethereal spirits. Because the four of them were at the peak of the Spirit Manifestation realm, they could detach their spirits from their bodies. Four spirits emerged, their bodies were humanoid, but lacked traditional human features such as a face. The four spirits pointed towards Yu Mingxi and a grey beam of energy shot out of each of their fingers.


    "The True Qi Suppression Formation robs the user of all their true qi. Without true qi, a Spirit Manifestation cultivator cannot even summon their ethereal spirit. Even if she is stronger than us, without true qi she's only as strong as a peak Spirit Waking cultivator!" The female cultivator sneered in her heart.


    "Interesting. A group formation that siphons true qi from the target. This is a truly frightening skill to all those in the Spirit Manifestation realm." Yu Mingxi said calmly.


    When the technique ended, one of the Spirit Manifestation cultivators ran up and threw a punch towards the weakened Yu Mingxi. This punch was imbued with true qi and sent Yu Mingxi flying into the village leader's residence.


    "Hmph, without your true qi your nothing. Your arrogance in not summoning your ethereal spirit right away was your biggest mistake. Forget the four of us, I alone am enough to trample you with minimal effort now." The Spirit Manifestation cultivator said with contempt.


    "Grandma Yu!" Yu Zhuwa cried.


    Tang Bian who was watching the entire time clapped his hands. 


    "Well done! The use of the True Qi Suppression Formation was magnificent. I hope that when I reach the peak of the Spirit Manifestation realm you seniors could teach it to me as well."


    The four Spirit Manifestation cultivators bowed towards Tang Bian.


    "You honor us with your words young lord. We will be happy to instruct you at any time at your convenience." The female Spirit Manifestation cultivator said.


    Wuah~


    The Spirit Manifestation cultivator who punched Yu Mingxi collapsed on the ground. A sword stuck out of his chest, piercing right through his heart. The attacker was not Yu Mingxi, but one of the other Spirit Manifestation cultivators!


    "What are you doing?!" The other male Spirit Manifestation cultivator shouted.


    The Tang cultivator holding the sword was silent. His eyes were dim as if he were in a trance. He pulled the sword out of the dead Spirit Manifestation cultivator and lunged towards the other two.


    In the blink of an eye, the female cultivator delivered a palm strike straight into the sword-wielding cultivators stomach. His eyes closed and he fell to the ground unconscious.


    The female cultivator looked back into the village residence. There was only one person who could have done this.


    "You! What did you do?! We robbed you of all your true qi, you shouldn't be able to cast spells of this magnitude! How did you recover your true qi so quickly?!"


    "Your right, you did steal my supply of true qi. True qi is very valuable to Spirit Manifestation cultivators during combat. This is because it takes them a while to condense the spiritual qi around them into true qi, which makes it impossible to recover if lost during a fight."


    Yu Mingxi's walked out of the village chief's residence in perfect condition. It was as if the punch from earlier had not affected her in the slightest. She raised her hand and strands of spiritual qi began to converge into her body. However, as soon as the qi entered her body, it instantly converted into true qi!


    "Yes! Grandma Yu is okay!" Yu Zhuwa's face beamed with joy.


    "Impossible! Instantly converting spiritual qi into true qi simply by having it enter your body?! No wonder you didn't release your ethereal spirit! You're actually a..." Fear could be seen in the female cultivators eyes as sweat began to leak from her forehead.


    Yu Mingxi let out a thin smile.


    "Those in the Virtue Seeking realm have completely fused their ethereal spirit with their very being. At that point you are now the ethereal spirit, and the spirit has a true corporeal body. Therefore, all spiritual qi is instantly turned into true qi simply by entering your body."


    The female cultivator staggered backwards. She never expected that they would be dealing with a Virtue Seeking cultivator. Even if she didn't have any virtues manifested, just the ability to accumulate true qi at her convenience was enough to dominate them.


    "Virtue Seeking expert..." Her voice trembled.


    Suddenly, the remaining Spirit Manifestation cultivator beside her lunged at her with true qi imbued fists. Snapping out of her daze, the female cultivator blocked the attack and jumped back a couple feet away. The man who just attacked her had the same zombified look on his face as the one she knocked unconscious. At the same time, the Spirit Manifestation cultivator holding the sword regained consciousness and got back up. They both stared at the female cultivator with dimmed eyes like they were walking corpses.


    "This must be the power of virtue! The first step in breaking the limits of qi. Seeking virtues that compliment your dao and forming a domain!" 


    The smile on Yu Mingxi's face widened.


    "Correct. The dao I pursue is the Dao of Wisdom. I have also condensed one virtue into a domain, the virtue of knowledge! Using this domain, I have suppressed the intelligence of your companions, turning them into mindless servants!"


    Yin Hui watched the battle with admiration in his eyes. This was the power of virtue, merely a small step in the grand quest of completing one's dao.


    "One day, I will also have command over such power." He swore to himself.


    Tang Bian stood on the sidelines with a grim expression on his face.


    "Virtue Seeking cultivator... This was unexpected, especially from a weak village such as this one." Tang Bian sighed.


    "Is it time to retreat?" 


    Tang Li slowly walked up towards Tang Bian. He was passively spectating the battle the entire time and was ignored by both parties.


    "One Spirit Manifestation cultivator is dead, two have turned against us, and the last is fighting the other two. I have already tended to the six who were knocked away from the initial assault. Three are incapacitated while the other three are injured. The enemy is a Virtue Seeking cultivator, are you sure you want to continue this fight?" Tang Li asked.


    Tang Bian let out a short laugh.


    "While I did not expect to encounter a Virtue Seeking cultivator today, we have not lost yet. It looks like I might have to get my hands dirty this time."


    Tang Li stared at Tang Bian but said nothing. Tang Bian's cultivation was much weaker than the four Spirit Manifestation cultivators that came with him. How was he going to defeat Yu Mingxi?

  • Chapter 19: Tang Bian's Strategy

    Even though the female Spirit Manifestation cultivator was the strongest in the vanguard sent by the Tang Clan, fighting the two cultivators mind controlled cultivators was troublesome. Not only did the two Spirit Manifestation cultivators not feel any pain from her attacks, they attacked with no regard for their own safety.


    "They're taking damage, but they move as if they are completely fine!" The female cultivator clenched her waist which was sliced deeply by a reckless attack from the sword cultivator.  The attack not only cut her, but also carved a deep wound in the other Spirit Manifestation cultivator's chest. However, the scarred cultivator continued to fight as if he didn't feel anything.


    "I'll give you a chance to leave this village now woman! Even if you take down your two companions, you cannot defeat me. Withdraw and you will live to fight another day." Yu Mingxi recalled the two mind slaves attacking the female cultivator. The amount of Tang Clan cultivators who died would influence how much retaliation would ensue when they returned. No matter her strength, Yu Mingxi could not afford to kill Tang Bian or Tang Li. If either of them died, no where in the entire Tang Province would be safe from the Tang Clan's wrath.


    "Regardless of the despairity in strength, the Tang Clan will never surrender! Especially not to a peasant village like this one!" The female cultivator shouted.


    "Wait!" Tang Bian walked over with a gentle smile on his face. He whispered a few words to the female cultivator and placed a pill in her hands. The woman's eyes widened when she looked at the pill Tang Bian gave her.


    "But young lord! This pill is..." 


    Tang Bian put a hand on her shoulder. On his face was an expression of need, as if the entire world itself was collapsing around him and she was the only one he could trust and rely on.


    "Your the only one I can trust with this enormous burden. I believe in you." He said solemnly.


    A single tear fell down the female cultivator's face and she swallowed the pill. She screamed as her body ignited with purple flames that covered her entire body. However, even though she was suffering agonizing pain her cultivation began to increase. 


    Yu Mingxi was enraged and sent the two mind controlled Spirit Manifestation cultivators after Tang Bian.


    "Tang Bian! What kind of forbidden medicine did you give her!" 


    As the two mind slaves were about the attack Tang Bian, the female cultivator quickly moved in front of him. She grabbed the two of them by their necks and lifted them up into the air. The purple fire around her spread onto them, burning them until they were nothing but a pile of ash.


    "Why, the Soul Ignition Pill of course. In exchange for burning your soul, you obtain a large amount of raw power that allows you contend against those an entire cultivation realm above you. While it doesn't give you the unique characteristics associated with the next realm, the strength of your techniques will be raised up to par."


    "Your despicable, using your charm and status to coerce members of your own clan into doing such acts." Yu Mingxi was exasperated. She knew that the Tang were a clan of foxes, but she didn't expect them to be so cruel even to their own members.


    "Die you old hag!" The flaming woman rushed towards Yu Mingxi like a pouncing tiger. She didn't have time to delay because once her soul was completely extinguished she would die. However, if she killed Yu Mingxi quick enough, there was a chance she could survive long enough to undo the effects of the pill.


    "Tch..." Yu Mingxi tapped her staff on the ground once more. The ground beneath the hill began to move and giant hands made of earth reached out to grab the female cultivator.


    "Useless!" The earthen hands could not stop the female cultivator at all. As soon as the hands made contact with her, she instantly burned right through them.


    Yu Mingxi jumped into the air, soaring 50 meters into the sky. The female cultivator followed her, shooting a torrent of flame towards Yu Mingxi. From the perspective of the villagers below, it was as if an enraged phoenix was chasing after Yu Mingxi. 


    "Cyclone!" Yu Mingxi pointed at the phoenix in front of her and a large cyclone shot out.


    The cyclone overpowered the flames and sent the female cultivator spiraling downwards. She did not hit the ground, but the distance between them had widened. Yu Mingxi clasped her palms together, pointing her fingers towards the sky. As she did, dark clouds began to cover the sun around the Scattered Leaf Village.


    Rain descended from the clouds summoned over the village. As the drops of water hit the female cultivator, her flaming aura began to sizzle. 


    She howled in pain. The flames around her were made through burning her own soul. So what the rain was slowly extinguishing right now was actually her flame of life.


    The female cultivator surged forward once more into the sky. She had already endured so much pain, so why not endure a bit more. If Yu Mingxi was defeated, the rain would stop and her suffering would ease a little bit.


    "I admire your tenacity, but you are still no match for me." Yu Mingxi twirled her staff in the air and pointed it forward. A bolt of lightning struck her staff and channeled through it, sending it straight into the female cultivator.


    "Ahh!!" A shrill cry filled the air. Despite the pain, the female cultivator kept going and managed to deliver a hard tackle toward Yu Mingxi.


    Her staff snapped and the flames spread onto her body. Yu Mingxi flew a few feet back and suffocated the flames with her hands before they could spread too far. Even though her opponent was a Spirit Manifestation cultivator with pseudo Virtue Seeking power, the flames still did damage. A few areas of her legs and torso were burnt black, as well as a corner of her face.


    The female cultivator wasn't doing too well either. That last attack drained most of her energy and she barely had the strength to stay afloat. Her skin was charred from the lightning and she was constantly twitching from the constant pain caused by the Soul Ignition Pill.


    "I'm not done yet... I still have one more attack. This time you won't be leaving with just a couple of burns..." The female cultivator closed her eyes and the flames around her intensified, red cracks began to form all over her body.


    Yu Mingxi's eyes widened.


    "No! She's planning to detonate her soul like a bomb! If she succeeds, the entire village will be destroyed!"


    Tang Bian looked up towards the sky with a sinister smile on his face.


    "That's right Yu Mingxi. If you want to save this village, your going to have to move her away before she detonates. However, even you won't be able to escape such a blast unscathed."


    "Tang Bian, this is outrageous. Call her off now. If she detonates her soul, not even we will survive." Tang Li put an arm behind Tang Bian's shoulder, urging him to issue the order to retreat.


    Woosh~ 


    Tang Li and Tang Bian dodged to the side as a beam of pressurized wind whizzed past them. The blast from Yin Hui, who shot a medium powered Wind Bullet at the two Tang.


    "I never expected you to be apart of this as well Tang Li. I thought you knew better then to participate in such crimes." Yin Hui had a look of disappointment on his face.


    "Yin Hui! It's not what you think. My reason for coming is not the same as Tang Bian." Tang Li defended. His whole objective in coming was to make sure no unnecessary harm came to Yin Hui. In fact, if Yin Hui were to escape he would try to help him behind the scenes as much as he could.


    "Then don't stop me as I leave the village." Yin Hui turned around and began to run towards the exit. Tang Bian's main goal was to capture Yin Hui, so if Yin Hui left the village he would have to shift his attention on to him.


    "Big Brother Yin Hui! Look out behind you!" Yu Zhuwa shouted.


    Yin Hui turned his head. On his tail were three of the Tang cultivators who were initially knocked away by Yu Mingxi's first attack. 


    "Catch him! If the three of you succeed, I will grant all of you access to the qi reservoir in the capital for a day!" Tang Bian ordered.


    "Yes young lord!" The three shouted in unison.


    Seeing Yin Hui running out of the village, Yu Mingxi took off the village chief's medallion from her neck and threw it down to Yu Zhuwa.


    "Yu Zhuwa! Take that medallion and follow Yin Hui! I've imprinted instructions on it with my spiritual sense! It will lead you to safety! Go!" 


    Yu Zhuwa hesitated, but eventually went to chase after Yin Hui. The first order imprinted on the medallion was to tell the villagers to leave the village on his way out.


    "Everyone leave! That Tang cultivator is going to detonate her body and turn this village into a pile of ash!" Yu Zhuwa screamed at the top of his lungs.


    Panic spread across the villagers in the village as they quickly evacuated from their homes.


    "Our village chief has really gone senile over the years. Trading the village for the life of one slave." A bitter villager murmured.


    "Yeah, if she just accepted the young lord's offer we would be living peacefully with riches right now..." 


    Yu Zhuwa clenched his teeth. Even now Yu Mingxi was concerned about the villagers, but the villagers showed no appreciation. He suppressed the urge to talk back by focusing on the mission he was given, leaving the village borders and running into the forest where Yin Hui went.


    In the sky, Yu Mingxi held the self-detonating female cultivator in a bear hug as she soared higher into the air. Her goal was to bring the blast as far from the village as possible by bringing her up as high as she could. At this point, the female cultivators body was completely red and filled with cracks. When they got around 1000 meters, the female cultivator exploded, torching the sky in a sea of flames.


    Yu Zhuwa squeezed his eyes shut as he heard the massive explosion. He told himself that Yu Mingxi was a Virtue Seeking cultivator while her opponent was only at the Spirit Manifestation realm. He convinced himself that the disparity in their power was too much and that she would be fine.


    Because the blast was so high up in the air, the village received minimal damage. A few stray flames lit some areas of the village on fire, but otherwise the village was still intact. 


    When the smoke cleared, Yu Mingxi was seen slowly floating back down. She was heavily injured and patches of her skin were burnt clean off. Her robes were shredded and half of her hair was gone.


    Clap Clap~


    "Congratulations Lady Yu. You are truly the unsung hero of this village. It is unfortunate that the villagers do not see you as such."


    Yu Mingxi was silent, right now she didn't even have the energy to respond.


    "You may be wondering, how can an early Spirit Manifestation cultivator like me hurt you even if your critically injured? Well luckily for me you were gracious enough to give me back the medallion with my father's spiritual sense on it." Tang Bian said holding the silver medallion.


    Yu Mingxi's pupils shrunk, she knew what Tang Bian was implying.


    "That's right. A small manipulation by me and this sliver of divine sense can turn into a single attack backed by my father's cultivation." Tang Bian crushed the medallion and the sliver of spiritual sense emerged. It turned into a giant sword made of qi that thrust itself into Yu Mingxi's chest.


    Yu Mingxi coughed out a mouthful of blood. The sword possessed a power far greater than her Virtue Seeking cultivation. She lost the strength to fly and began to descend from the sky like a heavy boulder.


    "Good bye Yu Mingxi. You were much more than I had expected, I wish things could have gone differently."

  • Chapter 20: Beast Suppression

    Yin Hui sprinted through the forest as fast as his feet could take him. He heard the enormous explosion in the sky, but had no time to worry about Yu Mingxi at the moment. Behind him, the three Spirit Waking cultivators were hot on his tail, using various techniques in an attempt to capture him.


    "Take this! Crater Palm!" 


    One of the Spirit Waking cultivators aimed his palm directly at the ground in front of Yin Hui. A deep crater  formed and knocked Yin Hui off balance.


    "Now! Use the qi chains!" 


    Another cultivator clapped his hands together and formed a set of glowing purple chains. These chains were special and could suppress it's victims ability to gather qi. However, before he could throw the chains, he was hit with a beam of pressurized air that knocked him hard into a tree.


    The whole time Yin Hui was running he was also charging the Wind Bullet at the same time. The Wind Bullet he fired was at high power and broke some of the cultivators bones.


    The leading Spirit Waking cultivator continued to fire Crater Palms all over the forest in an attempt to trip Yin Hui up once more. Luckily, Yin Hui had already grown accustomed to the cultivators timing, and dodged each one of the traps. He was trying to bait as many Crater Palms as he could, in order to deplete the head chaser's qi before he counter-attacked. 


    This continued for 5 minutes. Noticing that the cultivator using the Crater Palm seemed to be able to continuously fire without effort, Yin Hui abandoned his initial strategy and began to fly.


    "He's flying! He must be a 2nd Aspect Spirit Waking cultivator! Everyone fly after him!" The head pursuer stopped using the Crater Palm and started to fly as well. 


    As Yin Hui soared through the forest, he used the Living Earth spell to manipulate the trees around them to confuse the three Tang cultivators. Branches carrying thick bushes of leaves moved into their way and blocked their sight.


    "These damn trees! Burn them all!"


    The head cultivator shot a torrent of fire out of his hands. The flames burnt through the blinding leaves and even the entire branch itself.


    Yin Hui saw this and a thin smile appeared in his face.


    They eventually flew to a clearing that was a dead end surrounded with burning trees. The flames made by the flame cultivator had spread fast and caused a huge forest fire. The only route of escape was up, but Yin Hui knew it would be difficult to escape if he moved to such an open environment. Because he was pursued by three cultivators of the same rank as him, he had to use the environment to even the odds. Yin Hui looked up at the clearing and grinned.


    "Nowhere to run now! Get him!" A sinister smile appeared on the head chaser's face when he saw Yin Hui at the dead end. However, what he did not notice was that Yin Hui's body was glowing with a thin white aura. 


    "Blinding Light!" A bright flash emerged from Yin Hui's body, stunning the three cultivators. Yin Hui soared upwards through a clearing above and charged the Wind Bullet. This was his plan all along. With such dense flames surrounding the forest, he could use the Wind Bullet to magnify them and engulf all three cultivators in the inferno.


    "It's over!" Just as Yin Hui was about to release the Wind Bullet, he heard someone calling out to him from below.


    "Big Brother Yin Hui! Where are you?" Yu Zhuwa saw the Blinding Light spell being cast and followed it while searching for Yin Hui. He came across the dead end where he saw the three dazed cultivators who were affected by the spell. 


    "Damn it! That kid has got to have the worst timing." Yin Hui let go of the Wind Bullet and dived down to Yu Zhuwa. He picked him up and flew back into the burning forest. By now, the three cultivators had recovered as well and resumed their chase.


    Along the way, they passed by many animals who were fleeing from the fire. At this point, the Tang cultivators resorted to using only their chains. They feared that if they used martial skills or spells, the entire forest would collapse on them. 


    "Hmm there are a lot of large beasts in this forest. Yu Mingxi said something about controlling them using the power of my spiritual sense. She called it the Beast Suppression spell." Yin Hui released his spiritual sense and a feeling of dread filled the area. He focused his attention on a pack of wolves running away from the flames. 


    Yin Hui covered the pack with his spiritual sense, planting a portion of it into each wolf. The wolves stopped running and their eyes turned red, as if they were possessed. They moved towards Yin Hui and arranged themselves in an escort position, guarding all sides.


    "It worked! Now let's see how much they can slow down my pursuers." 


    As the Tang cultivators got closer, Yin Hui commanded the wolves to attack. The pack of wolves pounced on the cultivators with killing intent.


    "You think a few wolves can stop us?!" The head cultivator slapped away one of the wolves with his hand. However, this just made the wolf angry. The wolf that was knocked away quickly jumped back up and bit the hand of the head cultivator. 


    "Why you filthy mutt! Die!" This time, the head cultivator threw out a punch laced with spirit energy. His fist penetrated through the wolf's body, causing blood to splatter all over his blue robe. 


    Because of the wolves, the distance between Yin Hui and the three cultivators had increased slightly. Satisfied with the results, Yin Hui took over the minds of every single animal he could find and sent them after his pursuers. 


    Throwing the corpse of a tiger into the flames, one of the cultivators noticed something strange.


    "Hey, aren't these animals slightly stronger then they should be?" One of the cultivators asked.


    "Yeah... There's a faint aura of qi in them and their bites hurt way more then they should. Also, do you guys feel this aura of dread in the atmosphere?" Another replied patting the blood off his robes.


    "Both of you shut up! It doesn't matter if they're slightly stronger, the most important thing is that we have lost speed and distance. If the animals are getting stronger just use stronger spells!" The head cultivator shouted.


    Yin Hui let out a faint smile, using his spiritual sense he heard everything. If appeared as if his possession of the animals had also increased their physical attributes somewhat. He wasn't sure if this was because of his unique spiritual sense or the natural effects of the Beast Suppression spell. Regardless, such thoughts were currently irrelevant to him. What he really needed was a powerful beast that could severely injure his pursuers, enough for him to finish them off and devour their souls. He had already tried using a trio of bears, but even they could only halt them temporarily.


    "Big Brother Yin Hui how about that?" Yu Zhuwa pointed far into the distance, where a flaming boar the size of a bear was resting.


    "A spirit beast!" Yin Hui's eyes shined.


    Spirit beasts were magical beasts that were similar to animals, but had unique properties and even had cultivation. They also possessed varying levels of intelligence, with some of them being able surpass human geniuses.


    While common animals could evolve into spirit beasts by chance, they could also appear randomly through nature. The flame boar in front of Yu Zhuwa pointed to was an example of such a phenomena. Perhaps the large forest fire somehow summoned, or  even created the flame boar that laid before them.


    "I'm not sure if this spell works on spirit beasts, but I might as well try." Yin Hui extended his spiritual sense towards the flame boar and attempted to possess it. The boar immediately sensed the intrusion and shot qi-imbues fire towards Yin Hui. 


    "Damn it! I can't control it!" Yin Hui retracted his spiritual sense and flew the complete opposite direction he was initially going. The enraged boar got on its feet and went after him. It charged through the flaming forest at full speed, unaffected by the heat of the burning trees.


    Flying at full speed back from where he came, the three Tang cultivators came into sight once more.


    "Ha, has he gone mad?! He's charging straight at us! Quickly, throw the chains!" The head cultivator commanded.


    The two cultivators beside him threw out the purple chains. Yin Hui weaved around one set of chains and used the Living Earth spell to block the other. He then created a giant hand that punched the three cultivators a few meters away. They were about to resume their chase when the sound of clopping was heard nearby. The head cultivator turned around and saw a bear-sized flaming boar running towards them.


    "It's a spirit beast! Run!"


    But it was too late. The boar shot a blast of qi imbued fire at the three cultivators, setting them ablaze. Each of them screamed in pain as the flames seared their flesh. A few short moments passed and all three of them dropped to the ground, their corpses reduced to smoking black husks. However, the flame boar's anger hadn't subsided. It trampled over the corpses of the three Tang cultivators and continued after Yin Hui.


    "Well at least I don't have those three chasing after me anymore." Yin Hui kept track of everything using his spiritual sense. He was saddened by the fact that the flame boar completely obliterated the bodies of the three cultivators. Without the physical body intact, Yin Hui could not extract their souls using the Evil Fiend Devouring Technique.


    Now that the three Spirit Waking cultivators were taken care of, Yin Hui planned to just fly into the sky and escape. However, the flame boar caught up fast and shot a wide blast of fire out of its mouth when he was about to make it through the clearing. The boar was intelligent and stopped Yin Hui every time with bursts of flames whenever he attempted to fly into the sky.


    "Don't worry Big Brother Yin Hui. I packed a few beast warding talisman's into your bag of holding in case of situations like these." Yu Zhuwa tapped Yin Hui's bag of holding and took out ten paper talismans with the word 'Beast' on them.


    "Take this!" Yu Zhuwa threw the talismans at the boar. They soared through the air like daggers towards the boar, but rapidly shriveled up and disintegrated due to the high heat of the forest.


    "Oh no! I forgot that these talisman's weren't enchanted with protection spells! Therefore, their durability is like that of normal paper!"


    Yin Hui sighed and shook his head. He now fully understood why the villager's said Yu Zhuwa was as clumsy as a pig. On the other hand, he wasn't sure how he was going to get out of this situation. None of his techniques could do anything to the boar and it was smart enough to counter all his escape attempts.


    "Big Brother Yin Hui! Look! There's someone coming towards us!" Yu Zhuwa pointed ahead.


    There was a human figure closing in on them at a very fast pace. Yin Hui cursed under his breath. Was it an enemy? Yin Hui extended his spiritual sense to figure out the identity of the unknown person, but it was instantly severed by the flame boar behind him.


    "Damn it. In that case I only have one plan left." Yin Hui rushed to an area where there was a lot of open sunlight and prepared the Blinding Light spell. The boar followed and was momentarily stunned by a flash of bright light. Out of pure instinct, the boar ignited the sky above with a vortex of flame, leaving no gaps in between. When the light subsided, Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa were gone, leaving a very confused boar in the well-lit clearing.

  • Chapter 21: Loss and New Goal

    Tang Li covered his eyes as a flash of white light obstructed his vision. He held a half-melted Tang Clan crest in his hand, which he found on the ground while searching for Yin Hui. 


    The light subsided and Tang Li moved towards the source. Up until that point, he was using his spiritual sense to track Yin Hui and the other three cultivators. When he picked up the medallion, he assumed that Yin Hui found a way to kill the cultivators pursuing him. However, he thought it was strange how there were no corpses in sight.


    Growl~


    When Tang Li got to the source of the light, he saw a giant boar covered in flames sniffing the ground.


    "Spirit beast!" Tang Li gasped.


    The boar snapped its head towards Tang Li's direction and snarled. It charged after him at full speed, ejecting a blast of hot fire from it's mouth.


    Tang Li slapped his bag of holding and took out a small gourd. He removed the cork and pointed it in front of him. Despite the flames fanning out in a wide radius, when they got closer to the gourd they began to narrow. The gourd absorbed all the flames in a clean manner, without a single ember touching Tang Li.


    The boar paused in shock when it saw this. With it's intelligence, it knew that shooting more flames would be meaningless. Instead, the flame aura around it surged and it moved to tackle Tang Li.


    Channeling spirit energy into his feet, Tang Li drew his sword. As the boar charged forward,  Tang Li ran as well and unleashed the Slicing Wind Strike. A large gash appeared on the side of the boar and it let out a loud squeal. However, Tang Li had no time to admire his handiwork as the wound instantly cauterized by the flame aura surrounding the boar.


    "Instant regeneration... This boar has the strength of a peak Spirit Waking cultivator, but even a Spirit Manifestation cultivator would have trouble getting through this regeneration." 


    Tang Li braced himself as the boar came in for another tackle. Just as the beast was about to clash with Tang Li's blade, a giant spectral sword shot out from the forest and skewered it. As the flames began to seal the wound, the giant sword pulled itself out of the boar's body and sliced it into countless pieces. Afterwards, the sword turned into a mist of qi that flew towards a young man a few meters away.


    "Tang Bian..." 


    Tang Bian casually walked towards Tang Li with his trademark smile. The giant sword which turned into a mist of qi surrounded him in a protective manner.


    "You're lucky I came in time Tang Li. If I didn't, who knows how long you would be fighting a stalemate with that spirit beast." Tang Bian laughed.


    "Why are you here? What happened back at the village?"


    "Yu Mingxi is dead. She suffered severe injuries from the soul detonation and I finished her off shortly after."


    "What of the villagers?"


    "The villagers have been dealt with. The rest of the Spirit Waking cultivators who were incapacitated earlier are escorting them back to the capital. With the village now vacated, we can bring in reinforcements from the clan and create an outpost. Once you tell me where Yin Hui is, it is safe to say we have achieved a complete victory." Tang Bian beamed. Everything had worked out the way he wanted. While he did lose four Spirit Manifestation cultivators, the gains far outweighed their deaths.


    Tang Li scoffed. From his perspective, it seemed like Tang Bian never planned for a peaceful resolution in the first place. Judging by how things turned out with Yu Mingxi, the villagers were most likely being returned to the capital as slaves. Considering how the village leader caused the deaths of four Spirit Manifestation cultivators, it was easy to accuse the rest of the village for rebelling as well.


    "Now Tang Li. If you would please tell me where Yin Hui is." 


    Tang Li shrugged his shoulders.


    "I don't know. I was following a flash of light which I assumed to be from him, but when I got here all I saw was that spirit beast. It seems that the spirit beast also killed the three cultivators you sent after him, as I found the family crest partially burned on the way here." Tang Li threw the crest at Tang Bian who caught it with his hand.


    Tang Bian quickly scanned the area with his spiritual sense. He smile faded when he found no trace of Yin Hui at all. 


    "I guess he really escaped... Fine, when we return to the capital I'll put out a capture order. Once we have a lead on his whereabouts we will resume the chase. There's no use in wasting time and energy searching for him aimlessly with so little manpower." 


    Tang Li nodded and they flew into the sky, regrouping with the remains of the envoy.


    In a seperate area of the forest unaffected by the fire, the ground rolled as if a giant mole was burrowing underground. The dirt erupted and Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa popped out of the ground. 


    "Huff... puff... Good thing we're cultivators. If we were mortals, we would've died without having air for that long." Yu Zhuwa said exhaustively.


    Because Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa had refined lungs, they could hold their breath for much longer then normal people. In fact, once a person broke through to the Spirit Waking realm, they could hold their breath as long as they wanted using their qi. Even though Yu Zhuwa wasn't a Spirit Waking cultivator, he was very close and had already refined his lungs to the point he could hold his breath for an hour.


    "That was a pretty good idea though Big Brother Yin Hui. Using the Blinding Light spell as a distraction and then escaping with Living Earth. I didn't even know the spell could be used like that." Yu Zhuwa praised.


    "If it wasn't for Lady Yu. I wouldn't even have those two spells. So really we should be thanking her." Yin Hui smiled.


    Yu Zhuwa dropped into a depressive state when Yu Mingxi's name was brought up. As much as he wanted to, he knew in his heart that it was unlikely he was going to see her for a long time. He took out the village medallion that Yu Mingxi gave him and passed it over to Yin Hui.


    "Grandma Yu's final orders were to give you this medallion. She said it has a portion of her spiritual sense in it and that it would guide us to safety." 


    When Yin Hui received the medallion, a strand of qi emerged and dove into his forehead. Yin Hui eyes dimmed and he entered a trance-like state.


    When he regained his senses, Yin Hui found himself in a black void similar to the one where he met Yin Tou. In front of him was Yu Mingxi, uninjured and completely healthy.


    "Lady Yu!" Yin Hui clasped his fists and lowered his head in respect.


    Yu Mingxi let out a faint smile, but Yin Hui could see that it contained nothing but sadness.


    "Yin Hui, Xiao Yu has probably already told you this, but I am only a strand of spiritual sense. I do not feel a connection to my original body anymore so it is very likely that I have died. Do not bother returning to the village, there is nothing for you there anymore. With my death, the villagers have probably been taken back to the capital and converted into slaves as punishment for my rebellion. By the end of the week, the village would have turned into an outpost occupied by the Tang Clan."


    Yin Hui clenched his palms. He hated how no matter what atrocities the Tang Clan committed, they always came out victorious.


    "A copy of all my geographical knowledge has been encoded in this medallion, which I will now pass over to you." The spiritual sense in the form of Yu Mingxi extended her finger. A strand of qi entered the space between Yin Hui's eyebrows. Suddenly, Yin Hui knew the layout of the entire Tang Province, from the main capital to the many valley's in the outer regions. It was as if his mind cleared and knowledge which had been kept hidden was instantly revealed.


    "Aside from the geography of the entire province, I have also given you my knowledge on the other provinces as well. The Tang Province is too dangerous to remain in for you and Xiao Yu. When Tang Bian returns, he will most likely put out a capture order for you. In order to avoid capture, I want the both of you to journey to the neighboring Storm Province. Seek out the Striking Thunder Sect and look for an old friend of mine called Master Tempest. Show him the medallion and he should protect you."


    Yin Hui nodded. He had already planned on moving out of the province to escape the Tang's wrath. Now that he had the geographical knowledge to do so, he and Yu Zhuwa could set out immediately.


    "Safe travels Yin Hui, I do not know if I will be able to talk to you again after the connection breaks. Also, please do not tell Xiao Yu about my death until he is ready. After all that's happened, breaking the truth to him now will do more harm then good." With those final words, Yu Mingxi tapped her staff and the whole space disappeared with a flash of white light. Yin Hui was back in the forest, holding Yu Mingxi's medallion in his hand.


    "What did Grandma Yu say Big Brother Yin Hui? Is she alright?" 


    To Yin Hui, it felt like half an hour had passed during his conversation with Yu Mingxi's spiritual sense. To Yu Zhuwa, only a short moment had passed since the strand of spiritual qi entered Yin Hui's forehead. Yin Hui shook his head furiously, even though this was his second time dilation experience he still wasn't used to it.


    "She's alright, she just needs time to recover on her own. Inside that strand of spiritual sense was her last instructions to us as well as a map. We're going to travel to the Storm Province and seek out the Striking Thunder Sect. There we will find Master Tempest, one of Lady Yu's old friends. He will protect us." Yin Hui's voice trembled slightly, but Yu Zhuwa didn't notice. 


    As they walked through the forest trail, they came across an arrow sign that read "Scattered Leaf Village". Yin Hui used the Living Earth spell to fashion a staff that was an exact replica of the one Yu Mingxi used and rested it against the sign.


    "Why did you do that for Big Brother Yin Hui?" Yu Zhuwa asked.


    "When the time is right you will understand." Yin Hui dodged the question and the two of them began their journey to the Storm Province.

  • Chapter 22: The Girl In Purple

    Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa were extra cautious on their journey to the Storm Province. The outer regions of the Tang Province were littered with small families and sects desperately looking for cultivators to recruit. Most of these factions were allied with either the Tang or the Yan, while some were independent.


    Often, those recruiting for the Tang and those recruiting for the Yan would meet in the same village. These encounters almost always sparked fights between the two sides, which usually left the village destroyed. Sometimes, both parties would leave empty handed due to accidentally killing the entire population by collateral. To avoid all this, Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa stuck to the forests and occasionally roads. The only time they ever went to a nearby settlement was to stock up on food and supplies. This was only necessary in the more domesticated parts of the outer regions, where there were few wild animals for them to hunt.


    Yin Hui applied some salve to an infected injury he had on his leg. The wound was purple as it was poisoned by an arrow shot at him during one of their supply runs. Yu Zhuwa took out a few bandages and helped wrap them around Yin Hui's leg to stop the bleeding.


    "Sorry Big Brother Yin Hui, if I didn't accidentally drop that box of talismans when I stole from that minor sect cultivator this wouldn't have happened." While Yin Hui was gathering supplies, Yu Zhuwa saw cultivators of a minor sect recruiting children with potential in cultivation. They showed off their usage of bomb talismans and concealing talismans to woo the children into joining.


    Seeing an opportunity, Yu Zhuwa pretended to be another mortal and joined the crowd. Because he hadn't broken through to the Spirit Waking stage yet, his cultivation could only be determined by his physical strength. He simply adjusted his strength to be that of a mortal and instantly passed their tests. However, on the night before they were about to leave, Yu Zhuwa snuck into the head recruiters tent and stole the entire supply of talismans. 


    Unfortunately, his clumsiness got the better of him and he accidentally dropped it on the way out. This alerted the entire group and Yin Hui had to go save him. The group was comprised of ten three aspect Spirit Waking cultivators, so Yin Hui could not fight them all by himself. Using the Living Earth spell and Beast Suppression, Yin Hui just barely managed to escape with both their lives.


    "It's only been two weeks since we left the Scattered Leaf Village. To get to the border will require at least two months of travel time. We can't get careless until we finally make it out, so don't steal everything you find valuable okay?" Yin Hui advised.


    Yu Zhuwa nodded. At this point Yin Hui was the only person he could rely on. If he died because of his carelessness, he wouldn't know what he would do.


    "Since we have some downtime until my leg heals, we should change our names to hide our identities. Your name is especially uncommon, so if we cause trouble somewhere and they find out your name you'll be identified quickly."


    "Okay. I still don't have my own name really so I guess you could just call me Xiao Yu like Grandma Yu did." 


    "Alright, then from now on call me Li Feng." Yin Hui declared.


    "Li Feng? I mean it works, but how did you come up with a name so fast?" Yu Zhuwa asked.


    Yin Hui shrugged his shoulders. He chose the character 'Feng' because it stood for wind, which symbolized freedom. As for the surname Li, It just felt right to him, not to mention it was pretty common as well.


    "Whatever, sounds good to me. Nice to meet you Big Brother Yin-- I mean Big Brother Li." Yu Zhuwa corrected.


    Yin Hui rubbed his temples. It didn't even matter if they had the most common names in the world. The names were only as good as Yu Zhuwa's capacity to remember to use them.


    "Sigh, just try to remember as well as you can while I go find a place to set up camp." Yin Hui stumbled to his feet and went off to find a suitable area to rest before it got dark.


    Luckily for Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa, the road to the Storm Province involved passing through thick forests and steep mountains. Because of that, it was rare for them to see any travelers on their journey. However, those they did meet they had to be extra careful with. This was because those passing by were often cultivators belonging to a sect allied with either the Tang or Yan. While the Yan were not after them specifically, they would most certainly complicate matters if Yin Hui were to tell them that they were planning to leave the province. Cultivators traveling to other provinces without the authority of a major power was a very shaky situation, given the current circumstances. If one of the major powers found out, they could be executed for desertion or accused of being a spy for one of the rival provinces. Right now, the elites of the Tang Province needed as many cultivators in the land as possible to support their plays for power. They could not afford to let any escape, no matter the allegiance.


    Yin Hui walked for about half an hour until he came across a flat clearing that was perfect for setting up camp. He took out a few protective talismans and applied them on the tree's around the area. After finishing up the rest of the camp, Yin Hui took a step back to admire his handiwork.


    "Sigh... I envy the day my cultivation will be high enough that I won't have to eat or sleep anymore."


    "Ahh!" 


    Yin Hui heard a faint scream a decent distance east of his camp. He immediately ran towards the scream at full speed, wondering if it was from Yu Zhuwa running into some cultivators.


    As he got closer, Yin Hui heard the scream once more. While the scream was shirill, it did not sound like Yu Zhuwa. Instead, the pitch was a bit higher like that of a girl. Yin Hui swiftly dodged to the side as the body of an old man flew past him at blinding speed. He quickly hid behind a tree and peaked over to see two slightly injured men looming over an exhausted young girl lying on the ground. The girl was extremely pretty, having long tied up black hair and soft white skin covered by a purple robe. Her face was youthful and her eyes contained a mischievous cuteness to them.


    "You bitch! You'll pay for injuring elder Luo Mo!" One of the injured men angrily said.


    "Damn it. Another battle between cultivators. They're so close to my camp too." Yin Hui cursed in his heart. Whatever those two planned to do with that girl was not his concern. With his current situation, he had no time to play hero and risk his identity to save one helpless girl. In fact, who was he to judge if she was helpless or not? According to them, she had just killed one of their elders. Yin Hui backed up and was about to return to his camp when he heard a high pitched voice say the worse thing he could possibly hear under those circumstances.


    "My backup is hiding behind that tree! I'm just giving you a heads up because even if you know he will still clobber you!" The girl shouted at the top of her lungs.


    "Fuck. These guys are right. This girl really is a bitch." Words could not describe the amount of anger and spite Yin Hui was currently feeling towards the girl. 


    The two cultivators turned around with a mix of surprise and anger on their face.


    "Backup?! In that case, he will die as well!" One of the cultivators slapped his bag of holding and took out a massive broadsword. He swung at the tree Yin Hui was hiding behind and cut it completely in half. 


    Yin Hui used his spiritual sense to analyze the two cultivators he was up against. Disregarding the power of the broadsword, his opponents were only Spirit Waking cultivators.


    The two cultivators felt a chill go down their spine as Yin Hui's spiritual sense enveloped them. It felt as if an evil demon was breathing down their necks with a knife held to their throats. Combined with Yin Hui's dark aura and fierce eyes, the two cultivators trembled slightly. Eventually, the cultivator holding the broadsword couldn't take it anymore and lunged at Yin Hui.


    As the cultivator came within a meter of Yin Hui, a bright flash blinded his eyes. While the cultivators were hesitating due to their fear, Yin Hui was charging the Wind Bullet and Blinding Light. With the small opening he created with Blinding Light, Yin Hui got up close and sent a max power Wind Bullet right into the man's jaw. Cracking sounds could be heard as the cultivator's neck dislocated from his head, killing him instantly. The remaining cultivator panicked and started to run away, but before he could get far Yin Hui trapped him by wrapping roots around his legs with Living Earth. He then picked up the broadsword and finished the last cultivator with a precise stab through the forehead.


    "Hmph. I hope your grateful girl. If I was merely a passing mortal, you would've killed me just now by sending those two on me."


    Yin Hui turned back to where the girl laid, but she disappeared. He was stunned for a moment and used his spiritual sense to sweep the area for her. However, even with his spiritual sense she was nowhere to be found. Believing that she was genuinely gone, Yin Hui took the bags of holding from the cultivators he just killed and activated the Evil Fiend Devouring Technique. His qi reserves expanded greatly with the addition of two more Spirit Waking cultivators, and he now had three separate souls housing qi for him.


    Just before he decided to return to camp, Yin Hui searched for the body of the elder the two cultivators were referring to earlier. He came across a large pile of blood on a tree a couple meters away, but there was no body. At that point, Yin Hui decided that it was too dangerous to stay in the area any longer. There was a chance that the elder of the two cultivators saw everything and was going to return with reinforcements. 


    On his way back to the camp, he bumped into Yu Zhuwa who was collecting water at a nearby stream.


    "Oh Big Brother Li your back! Did you get lots of spoils from those cultivators you defeated?"


    Yin Hui was dumbfounded. He was sure Yu Zhuwa was not in the area when he fought the two cultivators.


    "How did you know I fought a couple cultivators?" Yin Hui asked.


    "Big Sister Su told me. She helped me fend off a couple bears I stumbled across. She's really nice and said she owed you something so I offered to let her stay with us for the night."


    "What?! You revealed our identities and offered to let her stay?! Do you know how risky that is? I don't even know an Elder Sister Su! Show me this girl at once!" Yin Hui was exasperated. 


    "Don't worry, I remembered to use our fake names. Why are you so angry?"


    By the time Yu Zhuwa and Yin Hui got back to the camp, the sun had already set. At the camp, Yu Zhuwa pointed to a beautiful girl wearing a purple dress sitting near a small fire next to their tent.


    "There she is. A pretty one don't you think?"


    Yin Hui almost coughed out blood in anger when he saw the girl. It was the same girl who schemed against him earlier in the day!

  • Chapter 23: The Infuriating Su Jia

    "You!" Yin Hui shouted with visible anger in his voice.


    "Why do you sound so aggressive when you're talking to me? I just came to thank my handsome savior for his help earlier." The girl said coyly.


    "You almost got me killed! If I wasn't a cultivator, flies would be picking at my rotting corpse right now!" Yin Hui gnashed his teeth. He already had a grudge against this girl. Now that Yu Zhuwa invited her to stay for the night, he was even more displeased.


    Yu Zhuwa nudged him on the shoulder.


    "Psst, Big Brother Li. You seemed to have scored big time on this one. This elder sister is a real beauty and she seems to be around your age too, have you even asked for her name yet? Also, I think your face is turning a little red." 


    Yin Hui slapped Yu Zhuwa on the back of the head, causing him to fall flat on his face. He was not reddening because of embarrassment, but rather because he was trying to contain his immense fury.


    "Anyways, I guess I was a little rude just now. My name is Su Jia. I came to pay you back for the trouble I caused you. Here." The girl threw a bag of holding towards Yin Hui's direction. Inside the bag was a small fortune of qi crystals, medicines, and a short sword with a red string attached to it.


    "While you dealt with those two disciples, I finished off an elder I knocked away before you arrived. Because you helped me, I'll give you the elders bag as compensation." 


    Yin Hui accepted the bag emptied the contents into his own bag of holding. Combined with the loot he seized from the other two cultivators, he now had a decent amount of medicinal supplies should he ever be injured in a fight. 


    "Hmph, I've given you a nice reward and dealt with a cultivator that could have called for reinforcements and I don't even get a thanks? You truly are a shameless man." Su Jia pouted.


    Her comment struck a nerve in Yin Hui. He never dealt with a girl such as this before in his life. Back at the Tang Clan, most of the servant girls were soft spoken and constantly had an expression of worry on their faces. On the other hand, the female cultivators of the clan acted proud and arrogant, much like the men. Until now, Yin Hui had never met a girl with such an infuriating, bratty personality like the one before him.


    "First of all, I know you did not finish off that elder just to save me. You probably had to kill the elder anyways because if he called for help you would be in danger as well."


    "Second, I am certain some of the contents in this bag of holding have been plundered by you before you gave it to me. An elder of a minor sect or clan would definitely have much more on them than this. So this 'gift' you have generously repaid me with is full of nothing more then leftovers."


    "Finally, I still haven't forgiven you for using me as a distraction to escape from those two cultivators!" 


    The girl played with her nails as Yin Hui ranted, it was obvious that she was intentionally making it look like she wasn't paying attention. 


    "Are you done? I still didn't get my thanks. Even if I took some things I liked, isn't receiving a gift from a pretty girl like me reward enough?" She said playfully.


    "You're not getting one! Besides, I don't even approve of you staying the first place! Get out!" Yin Hui snarled.


    Yu Zhuwa tugged Yin Hui's arm lightly.


    "Big Brother Li, you got to have more class when speaking to a member of the opposite sex. Grandma Yu taught me to never leave a girl alone, especially in a dangerous forest like this one. Let's just let her stay for one night." Yu Zhuwa whispered. He then turned towards Su Jia with a huge smile on his face.


    "Sorry about that Elder Sister Su. Big Brother Li Feng didn't mean what he said. We've gone through some tough times recently so he's a little frustrated right now. Your welcome to stay the night." 


    Su Jia grinned.


    "It's okay Xiao Yu. I'll only stay a single night if it bothers you that much. For now, I guess I'll trouble you to host for me tonight." Su Jia gave a warm smile towards Yu Zhuwa. Afterwards, she turned to Yin Hui and her expression went from warm and kind to outright mischievous.


    "You hear that Li Feng? Xiao Yu says I'm an esteemed guest tonight! Fetch me the best cut of whatever you are eating! Also, pour me some water too! I'm thirsty!"


    Yin Hui's veins bulged from anger. His rage had reached it's peak and he was very close to giving in to violent tendencies. 


    "What Xiao Yu says doesn't matter! Unless you have my approval you are not staying anywhere! And just so you know, the answer is no!" Yin Hui said angrily. He took out a jug of water from his bag of holding and took a big gulp. His mouth was dry from yelling so much and he needed to cool down.


    Su Jia made a pouty, but endearing expression, puffing her cheeks and widening her eyes. She had done this many times in the past. While it worked on females as well, it never failed with men. As soon as she made this expression, they would immediately cave in to her demands to the best of their ability.


    "Is that your solution to all your problems? The answer is still no." Yin Hui said sternly. Given his upbringing, Yin Hui had seen countless people get through life relying on charm. Slaves used it to avoid punishment or receive better treatment, while weaker members of the Tang Clan used it to make friends with those in power and boost their own reputations. Seeing it so much led him to develop an immunity to such methods. In fact, Yin Hui had seen the ins and outs of so many charm tactics throughout his life that he could immediately recognize any attempt, and remain unfazed without the slightest change in expression..


    Su Jia frowned. She felt a bit insulted that her charm did not work on Yin Hui. While his handsome looks afforded him a bit of arrogance, the fact that he didn't give her so much as a glance triggered her a bit. Su Jia knew that many people considered her a beauty, but seeing Yin Hui's reaction made her question herself for a moment.


    "Tch. You truly have a heart of stone Li Feng. Or maybe you just have no interest in women. Are you one of those homosexuals?" Su Jia said coldly.


    Yu Zhuwa covered his mouth, trying to contain his laughter. Was that really the reason? Was the reason Yin Hui not batting an eye to a beauty such as Su Jia because he was actually a homosexual?


    That was the last straw. Yin Hui picked up Yu Zhuwa and threw him 20 meters into a tree in the distance. Because he was nearly a peak Impurity Cleansing cultivator, the impact did not cause any serious damage to him. However, his body was technically still mortal so it caused a bit of pain.


    "You. Leave now..." Yin Hui said to Su Jia gritting his teeth.


    Su Jia chuckled.


    "Okay, but if I do I'll tell everyone that your a demonic cultivator."


    Yin Hui's expression turned serious, his anger replaced with a cold and calculating demeanor. Without hesitation he took out the broadsword from the cultivator he killed and aimed it at Su Jia's throat.


    "How much did you see?" Yin Hui asked coldly.


    "A dark aura. Black tendrils dragging those two cultivator's souls out of their bodies. Your qi capacity increasing as you devoured their souls. I saw it all." Su Jia's expression remained calm and playful. Even with a sword pointed to her throat, she talked as if she was in no danger at all.


    "You don't have backup do you? That's the reason your staying with us. You also have a strong cultivation base, but you were weakened when you fought that elder. Weakened to the point you could not fight two mid-stage Spirit Waking cultivators. Fights like that only happen in the outer regions because of the war between the Tang and the Yan. Now, which are you? Depending on your answer I may let you live." Yin Hui threatened.


    "You're a sharp one aren't you Li Feng. But--"


    In the blink of an eye, Yin Hui's sword was flung to the side. He moved his hands to his throat as Su Jia lifted him in the air by his neck. Yu Zhuwa came running after her, but she merely pointed a finger at him and he was instantly paralyzed.


    "I may be weakened, but I'm still strong enough to crush you like an ant. The reason I had you fight those two was because I was trying to get rid of all the witnesses. Initially, I thought your cultivation was only at the first aspect of Spirit Waking by sensing your qi capacity. I assumed that those two would kill you and I would return afterwards to finish them off."


    "However, you surprised me and killed both of them. Your spiritual sense and cultivation is strange, which I believe is a result of your demonic style of cultivation. Demonic cultivators are looked down upon in most provinces. I can easily turn you in right now and you will undoubtedly be executed." Su Jia said with contempt.


    Yin Hui struggled to break free of Su Jia's grip, but her hand wouldn't budge. Her hand was like a boulder, unwavering no matter how much strength he put into pushing her away.


    "You're far to weak to be questioning me on my allegiances, I could kill you right here, but I find your cultivation to be quite interesting. Even though your a demonic cultivator, your personality isn't bad either which I also like." Su Jia threw Yin Hui to the ground and undid the paralysis on Yu Zhuwa. Yin Hui coughed violently as he tried to regain his breath.


    "Spill it. Tell me what your future plans are and about your cultivation style. Most demonic cultivators go down the dark path because they can't advance further cultivating normally. However, you seem to have done it from the very start. I will plant my spiritual sense into your bodies so I can tell if you're lying. If you are I will kill you. Don't bother trying to remove it either. Unless your cultivation is higher than mine, you'll only harm yourself trying to get rid of it."


    Yu Zhuwa mouthed the words 'I'm Sorry' to Yin Hui, but Yin Hui did not blame him. Even if Yu Zhuwa didn't invite Su Jia to stay, she would've gotten to them anyways based on what she had said. Seeing no other choice, Yin Hui sighed and began to tell Su Jia the whole story.

  • Chapter 24: Dao Oath

    Su Jia listened attentively as Yin Hui recounted the events at the Scattered Leaf Village. However, he did not mention the capture order or his status as a runaway slave from the Tang Clan.  Because he technically wasn't lying by not revealing these details, Su Jia's spiritual sense did not detect anything.


    "I see. Given the Tang Clan's nature, there's no doubt that a capture order would've been placed on you two shortly after you escaped. No wonder you're hiding out in forests rather than the nearby settlements." Su Jia's playful demeanor vanished. Her cuteness, which was originally the foundation of her charm, was now replaced with a gentle elegance.


    Yin Hui kept a calm demeanor after telling the story of their previous exploits. The only thing he could do now was pray that Su Jia was not affiliated with the Tang Clan. Given their brief fight moments earlier, if she wanted to turn them in, he would not be able to resist.


    "So what's your plan now that you're on the run? Where are you going and what are you relying on over there to protect you?" She asked.


    "We're planning to journey to the neighbouring Storm Province. Once there we plan to join the Striking Thunder Sect and stay under their protection." It pained Yin Hui how detailed Su Jia's question was. Confessing to her that he was planning to join the sect of a neighbouring province was basically signing a death warrant. It didn't matter if she was with the Tang or the Yan, neither of them would allow a cultivator from the province to turn traitor. 


    "The Striking Thunder Sect? That sect is the ruler of the entire Storm Province! How do you have to qualifications to join them? Never mind that, a demonic cultivator like you would be spotted instantly!" Su Jia was shocked. These two weaklings were planning to join the strongest sect of the Storm Province. 


    "The Striking Thunder Sect is the ruler of the Storm Province? What made Lady Yu think we would be able to get into a prestigious sect like that? Just what position does this Master Tempest have?" Yin Hui pondered. Yu Mingxi did not tell him any details concerning the Striking Thunder Sect. Now that he knew they were the Storm Province's overlord, he was doubting whether they would be able to get in.


    "Yes we're planning on joining the Striking Thunder Sect. Now that I've told you everything what is your decision?" 


    Su Jia sat on a nearby log contemplating everything she had just heard. After a long pause, she came to a decision and stood up.


    "Li Feng, Xiao Yu, luckily for you two I'm not affiliated with the Tang Clan. You two seem to be good people and I have a feeling you will play a key role in this province someday. Li Feng, since you're not satisfied with my gift, I'll add a bit more to it and also help you get to the Storm Province!" Su Jia declared.


    Yu Zhuwa's eyes widened. He could hardly believe it. Was Su Jia really going to help them escape the Tang Province?


    On the other hand, Yin Hui's reaction was less obvious. To him, there was no such thing as a free handout in this world. Therefore, there must be some sort of catch in Su Jia's offer.


    "I thank you for not turning us in, but why are you helping us. There must be something you need right? Something that you need our help with that is also on the way to the province's borders." Yin Hui was extremely blunt with his response. He did not trust Su Jia, so while he thanked her for the offer he still questioned her intent.


    "Leaving the country will not be easy. The Tang have left some of their most loyal subordinates guarding the border. My goal is to flatten one of their subsidiary outposts and create some panic for the Tang in the outer regions. If you help me do this and we succeed, a gap will be opened for you to escape into the Storm Province."


    "Alright, we will help you. However, we are leaving right after the outpost is under your control okay?"


    "Not an issue. We'll make a dao oath to seal the deal and prove our sincerity." Su Jia nodded and extended her hand towards Yin Hui.


    "Dao oath?" 


    Su Jia rolled her eyes. 


    "Sigh. I forgot that you were a new cultivator with no knowledge or experience. A dao oath is a promise using your soul as the foundation. If you break it you will leave a hole in your soul which will hinder your future cultivation. It can also leave an irreparable mark on your soul which will never heal if broken." 


    "Very well, I accept this dao oath. My side is complete when the outpost is clearly under your control. Your side is complete once the both of us take one step into the Storm Province." 


    "Deal."


    Yin Hui linked his hand with Su Jia and formed a dao oath. Wisps of qi swirled around their hands as a piece of their souls emerged and linked together. Afterwards, the qi dissipated and their hands disconnected.


    When they broke the connection, Yin Hui felt like a seed had been planted within his soul. Within that seed was the terms of his oath to Su Jia. Even now, he felt a subtle desire gnawing at him to go and destroy the outpost Su Jia mentioned.


    "Now that the oath has been made we can rest easy knowing we can trust each other. I'll tell you the details of the invasion tommorow. There's a couple things we need to do before we attack. Now that all the serious stuff is dealt with, let's eat! I believe I have fully established myself as a guest now!" Su Jia returned to her mischievous and playful demeanor. It was as if her earlier attitude was merely a mask donned for the moment. 


    Yin Hui sighed, but did not get angry. He cooked a few wild animals he caught earlier in the day and distributed it among the three of them. As they were eating, Su Jia began to make weird faces in between bites. 


    "Hey Su Jia what's wrong?" Yu Zhuwa asked. He no longer called Su Jia elder sister because he knew that their friendship was not as deep as he initially thought. He understood at that point that they were just associates with common goals and that he probably wouldn't see her again if they manage to leave the province.


    "Mmm... Your food isn't bad Li Feng, but is this really all you have? Don't you have anything better." Su Jia complained.


    Yin Hui rolled his eyes.


    "This is all we have. If you don't like it then don't eat it, no one is forcing you to you know?" 


    "So cold, so cold Li Feng. Is this really how you treat an esteemed guest such as myself?" Su Jia whined.  


    "Don't worry Su Jia. If your unsatisfied with Brother Li Feng's cooking we have some fruits too." Yu Zhuwa tossed Su Jia a ripe red apple with a beaming smile on his face.


    Su Jia gave Yu Zhuwa a cute wink while sticking her tongue out at Yin Hui. Yin Hui merely scoffed and ignored her.


    "Anyways, Xiao Yu I'm afraid your cultivation is too low for you to be useful in the attack on the outpost. If you want to stand a chance you're going to need to at least be in the Spirit Waking realm. Since you've been so nice to me, I'll help you out!" Su Jia reached for her bag of holding behind her waist and took out a purple pill.


    "This is called the Body Tempering Pill. It's very useful for Impurity Cleansing cultivator's and can really speed up the progression of their purification. Here take it." 


    Before Yu Zhuwa could receive the Body Tempering Pill, Yin Hui swiped it first.


    "Li Feng! What are you doing? That pill is useless to you, give it to Xiao Yu!" 


    Yin Hui examined the pill with his spiritual sense. Only after he found no detectable traces of poison within the pill did he pass it to Yu Zhuwa.


    "Li Feng! We made a dao oath and you still do not trust me?!" Su Jia said angrily.


    Yin Hui gave a cold stare to Su Jia, the dao oath only involved raiding the outpost so a poisoned pill would not be breaking the rules. However, with his skill in recognizing emotions, he could tell that Su Jia was genuinely angry about what he did.


    "I'm sorry, I was just being cautious. Xiao Yu, you can take the pill." Yin Hui tossed the pill to Yu Zhuwa, who ingested it immediately and began cultivating. Yin Hui then turned to Su Jia with the intent of apologizing, but she jerked her head to the side and walked into their camp tent.


    "If you want to apologize then do it by sleeping outside for the night!" She called out from inside the tent.


    "What a pain..." Yin Hui muttered.


    zzt~ 


    After a short moment, Yu Zhuwa's entire body trembled. Black liquid began to leave his body and he was covered in a warm golden glow. When the light subsided, Yu Zhuwa looked much healthier then he did before. His complexion was full of color, his body looked sturdier, and his overall presence was much more defined.


    "Whoa, that Body Tempering Pill was amazing. The speed I could purify my body was multiplied by 10 under its effects. Yes! Big Brother Li Feng, I'm now at the peak of the Impurity Cleansing stage!"


    Yin Hui was amazed. Although Yu Zhuwa's body was already 90% purified, in such a short amount of time he already managed to purify the rest. With his spiritual sense he could determine that Yu Zhuwa's body was 99% pure. While Yin Hui himself had a 100% pure body, it was not worth the effort for Yu Zhuwa to push that far. He remembered how his ancestor Yin Tou said that a person could dedicate their whole life to purifying their body, but still not reach 100% purity.


    "Elder sister Su Jia thank you! Now that my body is 99% cleansed, I could breakthrough to Spirit Waking at any time!" Yu Zhuwa was ecstatic. He was so grateful to Su Jia he started calling her elder sister again.


    "Big brother Li Feng, maybe sister Su Jia isn't that bad after all!"


    Su Jia peeked her head out from behind the camp tent when she heard this. She had a very smug look on her face that was directed straight at Yin Hui.


    Seeing her expression, Yin Hui let out a deep sigh. As much as he wanted to deny it, the pill Su Jia gave helped Yu Zhuwa greatly.


    "I guess she's a bit bearable."

  • Chapter 25: Coiling Pass

    At first light, Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa woke up and began their usual morning routine. Yin Hui would go hunt wild animals that hadn't waken up yet, while Yu Zhuwa would pack up the camp. This involved removing all the protective talismans placed around the campsite, as well as erasing all traces that they rested there for the night.


    When the sun reached it's full height, Yin Hui returned. He had killed a few deer for the day's meals and stored them in his bag of holding. By the time he came back, Yu Zhuwa had cleaned up most of the camp with the exception of the tent Su Jia occupied.


    "She wants to plan an invasion, yet she's still sleeping when the sun is at full shine..." Yin Hui shook his head. At this point, he assumed that Su Jia was either the daughter of a high status figure in a powerful clan, or the embodiment of the phrase wasted talent. There was no way a lazy, annoying girl like her with such a poor work-ethic could become so strong at such a young age without either of those two being the case.


    Yin Hui walked up to the front of the tent, but didn't open it.


    "Su Jia! Are you up yet?!"


    "Elder sister Su Jia wake up! It's already halfway through the morning!" Yu Zhuwa called out as well.


    "Ugh...wha?" A groggy voice answered.


    After about 20 minutes, Su Jia finally stepped out of the tent. She yawned as she stretched her hands high in the air. Her natural beauty was accentuated by the glow of the morning sun, making her look like a celestial fairy.


    "You guys are up early. If you're that worried about other cultivators roaming around here don't. With me here, no one will be able to touch you guys." She said confidently.


    "If someone did attack, I bet we would already be long dead by the time you came to help..." Yin Hui was sure not to say this out loud in front of Su Jia. Knowing her temperament, she would find some way to get back at him by the time they launched their attack on the outpost. Perhaps she cultivated the Dao of Vengeance too.


    "Anyway's lets head out towards the outpost. If we're fast, it'll be within sight in about a week." Su Jia said while leading the way.


    The journey to the border was a calm one. They encountered no cultivators and there was always plenty of food and water to be found around the areas they traveled. Because they had Su Jia, obtaining supplies from nearby settlements was now also a viable option. 


    Along the way, the three of them passed through forests, valleys, and rivers. Yin Hui was constantly contrasting Su Jia's route with the map given to him by Yu Mingxi. While the path they were taking wasn't necessarily the most secretive, it was indeed the quickest. Considering they weren't running into any trouble, Yin Hui did not argue for pursuing a safer route. By the end of the second day, Yin Hui stopped comparing and began to blindly follow Su Jia's sense of direction.


    On the third day, Yu Zhuwa broke into the Spirit Waking realm. To celebrate, Yin Hui passed down the instructions for the Wind Bullet and personally tutored him in its use. He was also going to teach him the spells he learned from Yu Mingxi as well. Since he was essentially Yu Mingxi's foster child, those spells had more significance to him than anyone else. 


    "Ha! You think those low-quality spells are a suitable gift for Xiao Yu?" Su Jia mocked.


    As a gift, and also to show up Yin Hui, Su Jia offered to teach Yu Zhuwa a spell as well. Given his thief-like nature, Yu Zhuwa asked Su Jia if she had any concealment spells. Su Jia did and decided to teach him the 'Lurking Shadow' spell. The Lurking Shadow spell was a very useful, but difficult spell to learn. It allowed the user to hide within shadows and hop between them at blinding speeds. While it was near useless in wide open fields during the day, its capabilities at night and indoors were limitless. 


    With both Yin Hui and Su Jia's guidance, Yu Zhuwa began to show signs of improvement quickly. In two days he mastered the fundamentals of the Wind Bullet, and could fire one strong enough to kill a first aspect Spirit Waking cultivator with their guard down in a single strike. Although it took him a full two minutes to charge it even with a decent amount of air, his speed exceeded Yin Hui's expectations. Given Yu Zhuwa's age, Yin Hui felt a bit jealous that Yu Zhuwa was progressing almost as fast as he did. 


    On the other hand, the progress of the Lurking Shadow spell was much slower. The spell had a very steep learning curve and Yu Zhuwa was only able use it with a 30% success rate. Furthermore, he could only blend into a single shadow and could not hop between them like the technique intended. Yin Hui also tried learning the Lurking Shadow spell from Su Jia. However, Su Jia was stubborn and rejected him every time. Despite the low success rate and minimal results, Yu Zhuwa was not discouraged. As they continued towards the border, he practiced jumping into shadow's everyday.


    At sunset on the fifth day, the three of them arrived before a very large mountain range. The base of the main mountain had a single entrance that was completely dark inside. 


    "This is Coiling Pass. It is this provinces greatest strength and greatest weakness in the event of an invasion from another province. That is because it contains a tunnel system so complex that it can easily confuse and lead astray even the most attentive of cultivators." Su Jia explained.


    Yu Zhuwa frowned and looked up at the clear sunset sky. 


    "Then why don't we just fly over it?"


    Su Jia shook her head.


    "The entire mountain range is protected by a powerful barrier controlled by the capital. Anyone that the capital has not approved will be unable to fly over the pass. Even an Immortal Treading cultivator would be forced to walk. That is how strong the barrier is."


    "You mentioned how this pass is also a major weakness. Why?" Yin Hui questioned.


    "Like I said, Coiling Pass contains an enormous network of tunnels. While it is very easy for one to get lost, that doesn't mean its inescapable. Actually, its more accurate to say that there are exits of everywhere. Depending on the pattern of tunnels you take, one exit could take you to another area of the outer region, while another could put you close to the capital. The reason the pass is such a huge weakness is that if an invading army manages to get inside, it would be impossible to track them. While the tunnels will most certainly fragment their forces, there is still potential for a sizable threat to make it into the heart of the province without any resistance. Worse, multiple waves of enemies could attack different parts of the province at once and there would be no way to predict it."


    "Interesting, then how are we going to get through?" Yin Hui checked the map within his mind. To get to the Storm Province, which lay to the east of the Tang Province, Coiling Pass was a must. Coiling Pass stretched throughout the entire eastern border, so it needed to be passed before the Storm Province would be within sight. Unfortunately, the map he was given did not have any tips on how to navigate through the passage.


    "We'll use this." Su Jia took out a golden compass with red runes inscribed on the surface.


    "While we won't be able to know necessarily which network of tunnels will be the fastest. We will at least know whether we are going to right direction or not."


    Yin Hui gave a small nod. While he was wary about navigating through the cave with such an uncertain method, there really wasn't much choice. Even if Su Jia did not go with them, he and Yu Zhuwa would've had to venture into the pass anyways. At least with the compass, their chances of making it through the pass had increased by at least 50%.


    "So are we going to rest for tonight and venture into the mountain tomorrow?" Yu Zhuwa asked.


    "As much as I like that idea we can't. The mountain is full of hidden dangers even at the entrance. We'll need to push forward and be vigilant until the end before we have a chance to rest."


    "How? Even though we're cultivators we still need food, water, and sleep. The inside of the mountain is also pitch black, how will we be able to see?"


    Su Jia took out four pills from her bag of holding. She gave one to Yin Hui, two to Yu Zhuwa, and kept the last for herself.


    "I have given each of us a nourishment pill. These pills will keep us at peak condition for about three days, after of which the effects will wear off. As for the darkness in the cave, it is easily resolved by the usage of spiritual sense. Xiao Yu, since you don't have spiritual sense yet, I have given you that other pill. If you take it, it will allow you to see in the dark for about a day, so only use it when it is necessary. For the first bit of the way, the danger is not as extreme so you could probably get by through sticking close to me and Li Feng."


    "Alright, then lets get through this passage and destroy that outpost. The sooner we get out, the sooner we can rest." Yin Hui swallowed his pill and walked inside. When the pill entered his body, Yin Hui felt like the internal environment of his body had paused. All his bodily functions remained the same, but his physical needs such as rest, hunger, and thirst seemed to have froze in place.


    Seeing Yin Hui's decision, Yu Zhuwa swallowed the nourishment pill as well. Much like Yin Hui, Yu Zhuwa felt his body freeze itself in a perfect state of homeostasis. He was neither hungry, thirsty, or tired, but he was also not satiated or energized either. Putting the remaining pill in his pant pocket, Yu Zhuwa adjusted his hemp tunic and ran inside.


    Su Jia smiled as she saw the eagerness within the two. She quickly popped the pill into her mouth, double checked the coordinates on the compass and followed after them.

  • Chapter 26: You Mess With Me, Then I Will Mess With You Tenfold!

    When Yin Hui entered the mountain, he immediately understood just how complex Coiling Pass was. Using his spiritual sense he saw at least 30 different tunnels all around him. Some were even in the ceiling, requiring one to be able to fly to get into them.


    "Su Jia, which tunnel should we take?"


    "I don't know. We have to choose randomly and adjust according to the compass. Stick together, if one of us gets lost we may never see each other again." She warned.


    They picked the tunnel furthest from the entrance. When they walked in, the compass needle did not turn, which meant that they were on the right track. Unfortunately, the tunnel they went into lead to even more options than the first one. Whereas the entrance had around thirty different tunnels to choose from, the tunnel they went into had triple that amount.


    "This is the gimmick of Coiling Pass. The deeper you go, the more tunnels you can choose. Some of them are home to many powerful spirit beasts that even I would not be able to fend off. By the time we get a fifth of the way in, we would probably have a thousand different tunnels to choose from."


    "How does one manage to escape from this place then without a tool like your compass?" Yin Hui asked.


    "A lot of it has to do with luck, especially those with weak cultivations. Those with low cultivations could wander from days to entire lifetimes before finding an exit. On the other hand, those in the Immortal Treading realm have nearly zero chances of ever getting permanently lost. To those old experts, it is only a matter of time before they find an exit, though it might not be the one they want. That is because the higher your cultivation, the further you can extend your spiritual sense, which makes navigation much easier."


    "I see. So those in the Immortal Treading realm could essentially check every single one of these caves with a single glance, perhaps even the ones within them as well." Yin Hui was consumed with feelings of lust and envy. His belief that power was the driving force behind everything in the world was solidified even further. 


    The three of them moved through a few more tunnels, having to backtrack every now and then when they deviated from the path of the compass. Along the way, they came across the remains of countless cultivators and mortals who had lost their lives trying to make it through the pass. 


    "Those with power choose their own fates. Those without power succumb to it. The strong are remembered and allowed to live. The weak are forgotten and die tragically. These corpses are an example of that fact..." Yin Hui clenched his fist. He swore that he would grow to become an exceptional person, one so powerful that nothing would ever hold him down again.


    When they approached the entrance to another tunnel, Su Jia suddenly took a giant leap back. 


    "Not good!" She grabbed Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa and began flying in the opposite direction at full speed. A pack of six black sabertooths with glowing red eyes leaped out of the cave, chasing the three of them with murderous intent.


    "What's going on? What are those?" Yu Zhuwa had not taken the extra pill Su Jia had given him yet. Therefore, all he saw were a bunch of glowing red lights that were slowly inching closer and closer towards them.


    "I think we can take them." Yin Hui said.


    Su Jia shook her head.


    "These spirit beasts all have late to peak Spirit Manifestation power. While I have the strength to defeat them, it would take some time. Furthermore, I wouldn't be able to protect the two of you while fighting." 


    "That's not what I meant. You said the stronger a persons cultivation, the stronger their spiritual sense right? Can you extract some of yours and let me borrow it?" 


    "What are you implying?" Giving another person full control of a portion of their spiritual sense was very risky. Many things could be exploited from it, ranging from tracking the users location to directly afflicting a serious injury. If the spiritual sense was strong enough, it could even be used as an attack and make it look like the owner of the spiritual sense was the one who did it. Worst of all, the owner would be unaware of everything that was done with that strand of spiritual sense until it returns to them. That was why cultivators rarely handed out their spiritual sense to another individual, doing so was essentially giving a bit of your life to the person.


    "I have a spell that will allow us to take control of those spirit beasts that relies on spiritual sense. Since mine isn't strong enough, I need to use yours."


    Su Jia scoffed.


    "In that case, why don't you just tell me how to use the spell and let me use it?"


    "Hmm. No thanks, I'll pass." Yin Hui said casually.


    "Why you!" Su Jia realized that Yin Hui was doing the exact same thing she did when he asked her to teach him the Lurking Shadow spell.


    The sabertooths chased them all the way back to the entrance of the mountain. However, the sabertooths caught up quickly and blocked the entrance. 


    "Teach me how to use the spell or I'm leaving you with these spirit beasts!" Su Jia shouted.


    With all the shouting and growling going on, Yu Zhuwa decided to take the pill Su Jia gave him. He understood they were in some kind of danger and wanted to see the situation for himself. When he swallowed the pill, his surroundings became clear. The darkness was still present, but he could see everything. Yin Hui and Su Jia bickering, the multiple tunnels, and even the murderous glares of the six sabertooths.


    "Hey Big Brother Li Feng, maybe you should just teach her the Beast Suppression spell."


    "See! Stop being stubborn before the two of you die to those sabertooths!"


    However, Yin Hui still had a calm expression on his face. His eyes were closed and he maintained a stoic and unwavering demeanor.


    "That's it, I don't care anymore. I thought we could cooperate, but I guess we can't! I hope you die as painfully as possible!" Su Jia dropped Yin Hui and Yu Zhuwa and began to fly away.


    "Don't forget you made a dao oath! If both our feet don't take one step into the Storm Province your cultivation will suffer!" Yin Hui called out.


    Su Jia stopped when she heard this.


    "Then I'll take your feet off your bodies when the two of you die and throw them over the border!"


    "If you leave us here, I'll cut off portions of my own feet and throw them into random tunnels! Good luck searching for each piece among the countless corpses in the Coiling Pass!"


    "You!"


    Su Jia's face reddened with anger. The number of times she had been this infuriated in her entire life could be counted on her fingers.


    When Yin Hui saw Su Jia's angry expression, he let out a faint smile of amusement and satisfaction. In truth, he knew the whole situation could've been easily resolved if he just gave her the spell. However, Yin Hui cultivated the Dao of Vengeance. If Su Jia was going to mess with him, he was going to give it back to her tenfold.


    "Alright fine! Take it, but I'll be watching you carefully! I want it back right when we get through the pass and  if I see you do anything suspicious I'll kill you immediately!" Su Jia touched her forehead and a strand of qi came out. She flicked it towards Yin Hui and the qi merged with his body.


    When Su Jia's spiritual sense entered his body, Yin Hui's eyes widened. 


    "This power... you are..." 


    "Enough talk! If you require more tell me now! If not, hurry up and use that spell so we can get these beasts under control!"


    At that moment the spirit beasts had enough. They did not wait any longer and pounced at the three cultivators.


    Yin Hui clasped his palms together in a praying manner and activated the Beast Suppression spell. Su Jia's spiritual sense spread around the area, surrounding and submerging itself into the sabertooths skulls. Because the sabertooths were spirit beasts, they had a degree of intelligence that allowed them to resist the effects of the spell. They began thrashing on the ground, struggling to retain their free will. However, Su Jia's spiritual sense was simply too strong.


    After a couple minutes of futile resistance, the sabertooths began to calm down. They stood up and walked slowly towards Yin Hui. When they were within two meters of distance from him, every single one lowered it's head as if they were bowing before their leader.


    Yu Zhuwa clapped his hands at Yin Hui's performance. Back when Yin Hui refused to give Su Jia the Beast Suppression spell he was not worried. In the few weeks Yu Zhuwa had been traveling with him, he learned that Yin Hui was constantly thinking ahead. He was skilled at developing plans on the fly and knew just how to improvise them when necessary. Yu Zhuwa knew that his big brothers goal was to obtain a measure of insurance against Su Jia. With that strand of spiritual sense, he guaranteed that no matter what situation occurred, Su Jia would not betray them. If she were to abandon them, she would not only suffer the backlash of the dao oath, but also from the loss of a piece of her spiritual sense as well.


    Still hovering in the air, Su Jia was completely stunned. Given some time, she was certain she could've take care of all six sabertooths without issue. Yet with a single spell powered by her spiritual sense, Yin Hui subdued them all without the slightest bit of effort on his part.


    "Well that wasn't so hard was it? Let's get back on track, we've lost some time going back the way we came." Yin Hui smiled. Everything had worked according to his plan.


    "Where there is danger, there is also opportunity. And I, Yin Hui, have reaped greatly from this opportunity."

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