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After a few minutes of silence, the Mingshui Province Featherwood Guard branch finally sprung back to life.
“Where’s the Branch Master going?”
“I don’t know, but it looks like something big happened!”
“I can’t figure it out, but… he’s really awesome!”
“No shit, if you can get to Foundation Establishment some day, you can be awesome, too!”
An hour later, the Windflame Wheels descended in Beijing’s Seat of Government at the side of a court-style building. The chariot quietly landed at the Forbidden City’s side, but the surrounding people seemed as if they couldn’t see this place at all. A stretch of land no less than several thousand square meters appeared like it had disappeared from this world. Regardless of the symbolic iron fencing, the sword-and-shield crest in the center, the endless greenery at the rear which carried neatly cultivated and seemingly leveled white thickets of chrysanthemums, or majestic western court buildings, no mortal turned an eye towards this place.
“To compress the earth into an inch…” Thousandedge inhaled heavily. Glancing deeply at the scenery with a fiery and admiring gaze, he pulled on his coat and stepped quickly towards the interior section.
“Why?! It’s clearly his doing! Are you guys betraying his innocence now?!”
On the endless white stone pavement, there were four men with the appearances of youths citing phrases like “Muddle-headed official!”, “How is this the natural order things?!”, “It’s still my law of the land!”, and other lines with over a dozen suited cultivators, their eyes reddened as they argued.
Although a youth had a human appearance, his face already had hair growing out and some emerging wisps of black qi, unknown to whether it was due to his excessive rancor. His loud voice resonated through the area.
“It was a middle-stage Qi Condensation human! Come on over to my city’s law enforcement; we of the Song Demon Clan have stayed there for over thirty years! We’ve always observed and followed the law! We pay taxes on time! He relied on his high cultivation to rob our ancestral treasure and run! Does the Cultivation Court not care?!”
“We told the city, but we didn’t get a response! We told the province, but we didn’t get a response! Now that we’ve come to the highest court, you guys still won’t let us in! Is there no law of the land?! You can’t even explain the law!”
“Right now, if you’re still saying the greatest fist is king, I’ll fucking turn around and leave! I’ll go back and unleash a massacre! Fuck! If you guys aren’t going to be reasonable, don’t blame us for being unreasonable, too!”
A flock of chickens… Thousandedge’s gaze indifferently brushed past, his footsteps not ceasing as he advanced forwards. Perhaps because his aura was too powerful, when he was still a couple dozens of meters away from them, all of them just happened to stop quarreling. With uncertain expressions, they calmly stood at the side and lowered their heads, not uttering a single word.
“Greetings, Senior!” As Thousandedge passed through, everyone collectively fell into a hush and bowed to the ground. In an instant, the previously clamoring pathway had become silent. All that remained was the sound of Thousandedge’s leather shoes as he trod past neither slowly nor swiftly. He didn’t even spare them a glance.
“Senior, do you have business to attend to?” A few suited cultivators made meaningful glances, and one of them gently followed up without a moment’s delay. His voice was low, yet he asked with incomparable respect. Even as he questioned, he was behind Thousandedge, his body involuntarily bent low as well.
“Posthaste, take me to the interim imperial residence to see Daomaster Skybearer’s avatar. I have to report an important matter.” Thousandedge didn’t relent in his footsteps and said heavily.
“Your Excellency…” The cultivator’s face behind him revealed a difficult expression. “Sir President’s avatar… isn’t in court…”
Thousandedge’s head spun to look at the other, and the cultivator skipped in fright, falling back a few good paces. The cultivator then said cautiously, “If needed, this humble one can make an appointment for Your Excellency… however, I’m afraid the soonest will be three months from now…”
“I will wait. I’ll wait here!” Thousandedge’s face was chilly, and he said coldly, “Prepare me a cultivation room. Meanwhile, go make an appointment at once!”
And so, two and a half months slowly went by. Regarding all of this, Xu Yangyi was simply none the wiser. The current him was enthralled in cultivating the Eternal Alchemy Canon. An incessantly fluctuating semi-gelatinous object bobbed up and down in the furnace-cauldron before him. A ribbon of qi drew a Pentascent Seed by the side, yet he didn’t cast it in.
For over half a month, he had been focused on this final practice. Although he ultimately didn’t succeed, he knew that his distance from success was growing closer and closer even now. In front of himself, he placed a white sheet of paper and a fountain pen. As to when he was going to put in ingredients, he didn’t know. Like so… he would tally minute after minute!
After he completed the final round, he scratched out ten minutes, sixty seconds in a minute. Altogether, it required accomplishing 600 experiments, so he could prove that the second for ingredient placement opportunity laid within the following ten minutes.
Xu Yangyi had attempted going past ten minutes. A semi-gelatinous substance mixed with three kinds of heavenly treasures would blacken but ultimately turn into a coke-like object. Moreover, it lacked the trace of a spiritual vibration. This demonstrated that the time for throwing in the Pentascent Seed was within these ten minutes.
Already on the surface of his paper, there were over a hundred written corrections. A day’s time was finite, and he could at most refine ten-odd times a day. Presently, he had already done over 500 attempts. It seemed to have become his daily routine.
583… 584… In his heart, Xu Yangyi softly counted, and his eyes flashed open. “Now.” Over the course of this month of targeted training, his mind had long since been empty of sorrow and devoid of joy. His hand waved lightly, and the final heavenly treasure suddenly flew out, instantly merging into the cauldron.
Crackle… In the wake of a familiar sound, the Pentascent Seed swiftly morphed into a black liquid. He inhaled deeply, looking at everything in the cauldron with rapt attention. In the past, it had exploded each time here, but… this time—his gaze rapidly shrunk back—this time, the black liquid didn’t disperse like it had previously. Instead, it appeared to gain life all of a sudden. It closely meshed together with the gelatin formed from the Violet Yang Flower, Imperial Heaven Wood, and Cinnabar Fruit!
Xu Yangyi’s gaze trembled, looking in disbelief at the change that had suddenly occurred before his eyes. Success?!
It was the 584th attempt! His gaze quickly twinkled. This figure sparked without warning at the bottom of his heart! Success had come so abruptly, yet this was naturally an expected matter. As the same things became habit, it brought insensitivity. Nonetheless, such numbness wasn’t to say that he wasn’t excited at all. On the contrary, it was an apathy in failure, an accustomization to defeat. Xu Yangyi had already deeply suppressed the thirst for success at the bottom of his heart.
At this instant, it was like he had returned to the time when he had just entered the cultivation room several months prior. The emotion of longing for success was akin to a spring-time seedling. Without the slightest omen, it had suddenly sprouted to life at the bottom of his heart!
Such a feeling had come so abruptly, fiercely, and unreasonably. Xu Yangyi could even hear his beating heart at the side of his ear. It was a month of endless and consecutive defeats, re-engagements in battle despite dogged setbacks. At this moment, he hadn’t even realized that he had surprisingly begun to stand.
Boom! The instant he started to get up, the inside of his mind was illuminated by lightning. The world seemed to be wiped away, down to the midnight second. In this second, in this world, only he existed. Unexpectedly, all the qi in his qi sea came to a complete boil, as if it had suffered some pulling! Even his spiritual sense was immobilized!
Lacking a shred of discomfort, Xu Yangyi hesitated for three seconds and gnashed his teeth. “Innersight!”
Swoosh! His internal viscera became a brightly lit expanse. To his shock, he discovered that this surging qi was simply uncontrollable. Instead… it was beginning to construct something within his body!
An immeasurable amount of qi weaved and twisted together, climbing as it followed his meridians, similar to a fast-forwarded movie of a tree’s growth. As for the inside of his body, some kind of mysterious pattern had been amazingly outlined, based on his meridians. Less than a minute later, his qi sea had been drawn empty. At this time, his eyes immediately flashed.
“This is!” Hidden beneath the qi’s surface, there was something… moving? Xu Yangyi was given no time to react. In the next second, all of his bodily qi awesomely weaved a final design. He suddenly felt a violently bubbling qi swelling his body underneath his skin!
Xu Yangyi’s gaze twinkled, yet he wasn’t panicked by any measure or pace. This was because such swelling didn’t cause him to feel pain, suffering, or the explosion of his mortal coil. Instead… it was a kind of strange and comfortable sensation. Within his body, all the qi surged in his meridians, some of them which he had never utilized and those which he had. The energy built a device… A pill furnace as large as a human body!
Boom… Even now, inside his vacuous qi sea which was barren of a single entity, a mote of red light quietly shimmered, seemingly the dawn that ruptured the black night. In this twinkling, the “pill furnace” within Xu Yangyi’s body appeared to obey an order. Finally, it began to slowly, but surely, operate in silence. His body hadn’t cycled any magik art, yet it started to automatically absorb qi with a supremely slow speed!
“Pill-Elixir Fire…” Xu Yangyi’s gaze faintly flickered. In his heart, expectation, excitement, and nervousness, simultaneously churned forth. Even if the past him had made adequate preparation concerning the Eternal Alchemy Canon’s effect, this present situation was still entirely against his anticipations! He understood that the body was used as a cauldron, and heaven and earth served as the furnace, yet he absolutely hadn’t predicted that a pill furnace would be built inside him!
More importantly, he was able to clearly sense… the qi inside his body, in the instant the Pill-Elixir Fire ignited, violently quaked all of a sudden! It was comparable to experiencing some hammering and smelting! It was like… there existed a fire in his body that was burning away the impurities in his spiritual force!
“Refine the essence to transform the qi. A hundred suns to establish the foundation. Cultivate the immortal pill. Refine the qi to transform the spirit. Refine the spirit to beget the void. Refine the void to be one with the Dao… Qi Condensation is the period of refining the essence to transform the qi. Afterwards is the achievement of Foundation Establishment in a hundred days. Well, that’s what I once heard Heavens Law say. Before a hundred days to establish the foundation, qi must be purified…”
Qi was related to a divine ability’s strength. The purer the qi, the greater the executed divine ability’s might. Foundation Establishment cultivators completely purified their own qi, merely, it was nothing more than a consideration of the amount of qi purified. If 50% of one’s qi was purified, one held the qualifications to assail Foundation Establishment. In the same vein, this was the reason Foundation Establishment cultivators were weak or strong within the same stage and even greater than those in the Qi Condensation realm.
As for now… Xu Yangyi still hadn’t attained the late stage of Qi Condensation’s base line for purifying qi. Nonetheless, the Eternal Alchemy Canon was already purifying his spiritual force for him, unprompted!
“If I achieve the late stage one day, then I’ll have to understand the relevant knowledge for Foundation Establishment.” He mumbled to himself and pondered, his gaze complex as he looked at his hand. Afterwards, he tightly clenched it. “No, not if… I will.”
The palace hall of initially treading into the Eternal Alchemy Canon, the purification of qi, was merely a minor matter.
“My qi sea has shifted…” He sucked in deeply, looking towards his qi sea. In a split second, three kinds of emotions: expectation, nervousness, and excitement, pervaded the air. His expectation stemmed from being the last pill master in the End of Days. His excitement was in the almighty secret art passed down for several millenniums. His nervousness… came from the path he was to walk and anyone who disagreed!
He had never heard of such a situation. In his qi sea, there was no longer qi. On the contrary, qi automatically cycled through the meridians within his body. For this human-body pill furnace, Pill-Elixir Fire seemed to offer an unlimited energy source. In other words…
A cultivator regarded the qi sea as life, even if it had been broken. But to him, it was basically insignificant! Apart from pulverizing his entire body, his cultivation was invulnerable.
1. “To compress the earth into an inch”. So this is really one meaning, but there are to ways to say it. I chose to go with the more literal way, since from what I read, this term is used in science fiction as well. This term refers to the establishment of an “alternate space/other dimension”.
2. So most of these lines here “Refine the essence to transform the qi” are from actual Daoist thought. All of it is pretty self explanatory, but I want to share one thing from my research, and that is the line “Cultivate the immortal pill”. I had originally translated this as “Nurture the sacred pill”. So what’s so interesting about this? In the original script, the word “pill” is the word “body”, or meant to be interpreted as such. The interesting here is that the author uses the word “pill” instead. One thing about the word for pill in Chinese is context related as well. Since these are all “ancient” sayings, I could’ve translated pill as perhaps “cauldron” or “alchemy”. However, if you’ve been paying attention, the Eternal Alchemy Canon is to use one’s own body to refine pills. To practice alchemy is to cultivate. So in a sense, it’s kinda of a play on understanding. Refining the pill is to refine the body. In addition, “A hundred suns to construct the foundation”. You may remember early on in the novel it is mentioned that it took ancient cultivators a hundred days to reach Foundation Establishment. It’s just a saying, not something Xu Yangyi has to do. On average, it takes modern cultivators 70 years to achieve Foundation Establishment.
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