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The word was like a stone, without the slightest hesitation. Tian Guotao stood straight up. “I’m very sorry, Master Xu said he won’t be leaving seclusion within these five years. Everything was left to me to handle in his place.”
Silence. Li Mingfang kept on feeling that Tian Guotao had become somewhat different. Second brother Li looked at him as if he had seen a ghost. They hadn’t expected at all that Tian Guotao would dare refuse a state-magus’s invitation.
The masked man’s eyes narrowed, and a trace of ruthlessness flitted through them. He then calmed down and said coldly, “You probably don’t even know what this invitation card is requesting Master Xu to do, yes?
“Whether or not I know is unrelated. An invitation has to be tastefully agreed to by both parties. His Excellency State-Magus could make the invitation and Master Xu still wouldn’t choose to go.”
“Huff…” Li Mingfang sucked in deeply, and he and second brother Li both happened to take a step back. He spoke no further.
Clap clap clap… The masked man softly applauded. Truly, I haven’t heard someone dare to say these words in so many years… Good, since you don’t know, then I’ll tell you.”
“Li Family has applied to fight for a 10,000-square-meter plot of land outside the capital with the Shui Family. Mount Laojun.”
“The Li Family has appointed… Master Xu.” And the Shui Family has appointed…” he laughed hollowly, “His Excellency First Rat!”
He calmly observed Tian Guotao’s expression, yet found that the old man’s face didn’t change in the slightest. He snorted coldly, “Master Xu… Rumor has it that he’s a high spirit-master. In the State of Shangchen there are only twelve high spirit-masters in total, and now another’s mysteriously appeared? In any case, I’ll let this pass, but you know the rules. It’s no exaggeration to say that the world’s going to flip upside down in any war of high spirit-masters. So… every high spirit-master contest is managed by a state-magus.”
“So, as long as you sign a contract with the Li Family, it’s beyond your control to say that you won’t go to the war this time with the Shui Family. Unless…” His gaze hotly swept over the valley. “Master Xu is willing to renounce the Li Family’s treatment!”
Tian Guotao was silent for a brief moment. He nodded and took the invitation card. “I’ll go tell Master Xu.”
He left and the masked man snapped his head to look at Li Mingfang. “Mr. Li, I want you to know know that any S-rank spirit-land isn’t allowed to be privately owned! How in the world did this happen! If I didn’t come myself today, how long were even planning on keeping this hidden?!”
“I really didn’t know!” Li Mingfang looked at the valley, in shock. “How… How could it turn into this?”
Xu Yangyi paid no attention to everything transpiring outside. After ten minutes, he furrowed his brows and looked at the wooden door outside. “A state-magus’s invitation?”
“Yes, that’s how it is…” Tian Guotao carefully explained the rules to Xu Yangyi. “According to international rule, you aren’t able to refuse.”
Xu Yangyi was quiet for a short period. “How long until?”
“Two months and twelve days, eh…” He pondered for several seconds and suddenly laughed. “I’m not going.”
“Master Xu…” Just as Tian Guotao was about to say something, Xu Yangyi shook his head and looked straight at him. “You’ll go for me instead.”
“Master Xu!” This time, Tian Guotao truly jumped up. The opponent was First Rat! One of the twelve high spirit-masters! He definitely wasn’t an opponent! It was nothing if he lost, but this matter would damage Xu Yangyi’s reputation. He didn’t wish for such.
“Don’t be worried.” Xu Yangyi’s voice drifted out from beyond the door, “I can't leave seclusion right now. Relax, if I don’t want to, no one’s getting into this place. Besides, are you sure that you think you’ll lose?”
In a lower realm without inheritance, all divine abilities were untransmitted secrets. The Guardian-Magi of the State didn’t exceed Foundation Establishment, not even reaching half-step Foundation Establishment. What realm was a high-rank spirit-master?
It probably didn’t surpass late-stage Qi Condensation!
Tian Guotao himself was just initial-stage Qi Condensation. Perhaps he hadn’t sensed it, but Xu Yangyi saw very clearly. In this year, Tian Guotao had widened his breadth and deepened his knowledge. His cultivation had already entered the middle stage of Qi Condensation!
A middle-stage with inheritance and a quasi-late-stage without. The latter’s spiritual sense couldn’t be used, and the former had already obtained the comprehensive learnings of a system. Xu Yangyi didn’t think Tian Guotao would lose.
“Go.” He collected his spiritual sense. “Just answer them like this. You’ll represent me in battle. Starting from today, I’ll talk with you every day in the afternoon for an hour.”
Tian Guotao took a deep breath. His excitement, hope, and nervousness weaved together. This was a high spirit-master! He was no more than than the initial-stage… and yet what was this expectation inside his heart?
At this time, Xu Yangyi’s voice was heard again. “Don’t tell me you don’t want to try the taste of putting your knowledge to use?”
Tian Guotao’s gaze flashed, and he inhaled heavily for a good few seconds. He nodded and quietly left.
Behind the heavy wooden door, Xu Yangyi stowed his gaze. A strong qi assaulted his senses. Inside, the Vajra Formation’s talismans spread all over the cellar. Rays of golden light shone inside like a Buddhist land. At the center, a fist-sized supreme-grade spirit stone added a rainbow of color to this domain.
A year of maintained, uninterrupted absorption, and the spirit stone hadn’t even changed color!
“Keep going.” He wore a firm smile on his face and closed his eyes.
Wasn’t this dull and dry?
Naturally, yet this was the path he chose.
Steady when silent and shocking once loud, calm when at rest and soaring once at sky! While he ordinarily bided his time, he moved mountains and seas when the moment of glory arrived!
Acting as a cultivator was far from being so easily managed like in a novel.
He vanquished his mind, and his spiritual sense sunk into his qi sea. In a twinkling, a massive foundation platform, floating in the air, emitted lustrous white light akin to a bright moon. Absent of sound, it emerged in front of him in a holy manner.
It was different from before… Right now, the foundation platform, originally smooth and jade-like, already had a large protrusion that was almost a thousand meters tall in the middle. It was a castle on sand, its outer form piled up.
“Heavens Law said… the ‘base’ of Foundation Establishment is this foundation in front of me. And Foundation Establishment’s outer appearance is the essentialization of qi. Flight that breaks through the astral wind. The externalization of qi. Henceforth, a complete break away from physique arts. But inside… a palace is built on my foundation. The more tamped down a Foundation Establishment, the longer the amount of time it takes. History’s longest Foundation Establishment is recorded to be Daomaster Cloudcrane’s five years. Starting from the construction of the foundation platform to the completion of the palace via spiritual sense, it took a total of five years.”
“The bigger and more luxurious the spiritual-sense palace representing Foundation Establishment, the higher one’s future achievements…”
His consciousness gradually sunk into contemplation. His foundation platform was already starting to transform. This meant that he was ever approaching Foundation Establishment. He couldn’t relinquish a scrap of time, and concentrated his full attention by throwing himself into understanding the Voidspirit Immortal Physique.
His entire body was covered in odd golden talismans. However, there was a dot of gem-white light twinkling over all of his major acupuncture points. In these white dots, each rune emitted a line of golden thread. Behind him, they formed the hazy image of a man. He couldn’t clearly see who it was at all, only able to see a fuzzy shape.
Closer… closer and closer…
The call of Foundation Establishment became more resounding day after day. He could even clearly see the quality of the qi in his meridians become increasingly high, to the extent that it formed a sensation bordering on liquid.
“Once the entire body’s qi liquefies, then the Grand Completion of Foundation Establishment is reached…” A cautious trace emerged on his face. “The day I assail Foundation Establishment… probably isn’t too far away…”
In Baizhai City, an aged hand put down a telephone. The master of the hand was an old man soon to approach his coffin. His vital energies, however, seemed to be at the very peak of a thirty or forty-year-old man. At his side, two men were standing. They wore different mask. One mask was a snake and the other was a fierce tiger.
This luxurious villa occupied a space of no less than a thousand meters. It was located in the endless mountains beside Baizhai City. The qi here nearly even overtook District A-31 that Xu Yangyi had used a supreme-grade spirit stone to create.
A withered hand extended from a navy-blue changpao and rhythmically beat a table. A few seconds later, the old man spoke.
“The Master Xu you spoke of won’t be going into battle.”
“Is he truly a high spirit-master? And he also has a divine ability that’s not in the state reserves?”
“There’s no doubt about it!” The man in front of the old man respectfully raised his head. Even if he’d already forced down the reverence in his heart, cold sweat still dripped down his face at this moment. “Disciple Xiao Zuo’en dares to make a pledge! He definitely has an unrecorded divine ability in his possession!”
“State-Magus.” The man wearing a tiger mask murmured, “How about letting me…”
The man addressed as state-magus was silent for a quick moment and waved his hand. “Don’t do anything. I don’t believe that he’ll stay there forever...” His gaze sparked. “As long as he’s human, there’ll be a time when he appears…”
“And at that time, I’ll still be waiting.”
“State-Magus.” The man wearing the snake mask said lowly, “He’s merely one person. A privately concealed divine ability is a major crime! So long as you give the command, sir, we are ready to capture him.”
The state-magus laughed and looked to the ceiling, lost in thought. After a long amount of time passed, he then said, “Do you know… what a formation art is?”
“Formation art?” The trio said in unison and glanced at each other in surprise. They were drawing a blank.
“Don’t know, eh…” The state-magus picked up a teacup and smiled. “Go, all of you are far from being this person’s opponent.”
“What?” Xiao Zuo’en coldly gasped. He could feel that Xu Yangyi was strong, horrifically strong! Nonetheless… a state-magus had actually said that none of the high spirit-masters of the Twelve Zodiac Beasts were opponents?
That… that’s not…
“Don’t let your imagination run wild,” the state-magus said dimly. “Treat this matter as an absolute secret. Have it eternally stew in your bellies.”
“Yes…” Xiao Zuo’en stood up, doubt making home in his heart. “In that case… the spirit-land war of the Li Family and Shui Family this time…”
“It’ll be conducted as before.” A trace of expectation flashed through the state-magus’s eyes, and he waved his hand. Xiao Zuo’en and the two masked men left.
No one saw, but the smile on his face pulled away sliver by sliver, replaced by a tinge of extreme graveness. In a voice that couldn’t be heard, he muttered, “There aren’t any records of ‘Xu Yangyi’... no registration at any Spirit-Master branch… a never-seen divine ability, and strength that transcends imagination… Earlier, each state government deemed the ‘extraterrestrial visitor’ as a super top-secret…”
“At last… the second cultivator from a ‘Greater Thousand Realm’ has come… The ‘Ancient Path’ in Grandmaster Zhang’s legend… is there finally going to be a chance for it to open?”
“I really want to see, as well… what kind of monsters you are…”
The room became quiet, and he took a deep breath. All of a sudden, his withered hands waved, and all the windows sealed shut with a bang. Soon afterwards, he took out an incense stick from his bosom with extreme caution.
All that remained of the incense stick was an inch, and he slowly ignited it. Just as the incense almost burned out, an oppressive might that bore down on the state-magus like a demon-god fell upon the villa!
Bang bang bang! All the windows rang out in chaos! Window curtains violently turned in the air! It was like a raging tempest had kicked off from the old man’s position!
The room settled down after a full ten minutes.
“The people of the lower realm kowtow and beseech the Immortal Master of the upper realm.”
1. “Steady when silent and shocking once loud, calm when at rest and soaring once at sky!” This is a quote from the Grand Historian Sima Qian (145-86 BCE). He was from the Han dynasty. I am actually quite pleased I got this to kinda rhyme.
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