Chapter 19: Seclusion
Since Ling Chengye no longer forbade family members from entering Herb Mountain’s caves, it suddenly became very lively.
Every day there were many people from the Ling Family who entered to investigate with confidence and hope, but the results were all the same; it was a fruitless pursuit.
Even people like Ling Chengye and Du Qishan, who had reached the Natal Opening Realm, weren’t able to avoid getting lost in the mysterious formations; it was even more impossible for the rest of the people to successfully walk into the depths of the stone cave.
Following one failure after another, many people gradually changed their strategy and treated Qin Lie as the key to proceed.
From then on, there were many Ling Family members who waited for Qin Lie early in the morning with hopes of entering Herb Mountain with him, following in right behind Qin Lie in order to successfully enter its depths.
Unfortunately, every time they ventured into the stone cave, they would suddenly get lost and become unable to see Qin Lie’s trail. There were obviously illusory formations and mist formations existing inside the stone cave, preventing the people who entered from seeing the people by their side.
After a few tries, people slowly started giving up. Even though they were still full of curiosity towards Qin Lie within their hearts, they slowly gave up after being unable to successfully tag along with him.
Ling Chengye, knowing well of Du Jiaolan’s petty and small-minded personality, was afraid that she would attempt to eliminate Qin Lie, so he ordered Ling Feng and Ling Ying to accompany Qin Lie every day when entering and exiting Herb Mountain, preventing him from being assassinated on the way.
Ling Chengye’s arrangement caused Du Jiaolan to not be able to find an opportunity. Her hatred towards the Ling Family members grew, and she saw Qin Lie as a thorn in her side.
After the engagement ceremony ended, Ling Yushi visited Qin Lie even more frequently. Sometimes she would bring food early in the morning so Qin Lie no longer had to go to the Ling Family’s dining hall for his meals.
By evening, when Qin Lie returned, he often found that she was there before him.
The more Ling Yushi did the chores, such as preparing bathing water, folding sheets, cleaning, and tidying, the more she became skilled at them. She also kept her nagging habit, so Qin Lie knew every tiny thing about the Ling Town like the palm of his hand.
Sometimes, Ling Yushi would suddenly become silent and use both hands to support her crystal-clear chin. Her beautiful eyes gleamed while looking at him, seeming like she wanted to see through the secret he was hiding within the depths of his heart.
Whenever she did this, Qin Lie would suddenly become nervous, and he would cautiously keep his expression calm.
Ling Yushi would sometimes sigh softly from disappointment and sometimes shake her head and laugh uncontrollably which made Qin Lie unable to guess her inner thoughts.
Qin Lie’s daily cultivation didn’t change even though Herb Mountain became lively. He still continued assiduously and never slacked off.
Another day passed.
Deep within the vast cavern system of Herb Mountain, Qin Lie sat down while leaning against a stone pillar. He held his breath, focused his mind, and cultivated with the help of the Umbra Lightning Condor beast cores.
The floor around him was covered with gray, powdered fragments; they were slowly formed when beast cores exploded after having their energy completely absorbed.
Unconsciously, of the more than forty pieces of beast cores obtained from hunting in the Solitary Ridge, he only had a few remaining. Not only that, the few stalks of Ice Stalk Grass that he had gathered had already been exhausted.
After an uncertain number time, another beast core in his hands crumbled to dust. His expression was serious as he silently circulated his power.
A trace of spirit energy was transferred out of his dantian’s spirit sea, slowly flowed through his muscles and veins, and trickled and gathered towards his left arm. The spirit energy in his muscles and veins immediately started to speed up and rushed towards his left hand’s index finger like a violent, stormy wave!
“Bzzt bzzt bzzt!”
A strange electric flowing sound was coming from the pulp of his index finger. His finger was in extreme pain from the swelling of spirit energy, and it was bright red as if it had been burned by fire.
The surging spirit energy seemed to have collided into an invisible barrier. It couldn’t break through the pulp of his finger and suddenly receded back into his palm, causing his hand to suddenly go completely numb and lose all sensation.
“Still no good…”
Qin Lie slowly opened his eyes and waved his left hand. His handsome face was filled with traces of anxiety and helplessness.
Recently, his spirit energy within his dantian’s spirit sea had become more plentiful with the help of the beast cores, so he prepared to charge into the seventh level of the Refinement Realm. Unfortunately, he tried breaking through a few times, but each attempt resulted in failure.
The Refinement Realm was divided into nine levels. The first six levels were comparatively easy to cultivate. It was mainly focusing on gathering spirit energy, opening up the spirit sea, and then continuously using spirit energy to nourish the flesh and slowly strengthen the muscles and veins, so it was easier to break through the first six levels.
During this period, when martial practitioners fight against others, they rely mainly on the toughness of their bodies. They couldn’t use spirit skills and are not able to discharge their spirit energy to harm or kill others.
The reason for this was because martial practitioners at this level could not release their spirit energy through their body, so they were not able to “emit spirit energy.”
With their spirit energy trapped inside their body, it means they won’t have lethality and could not pour it into spirit artifacts that significantly increase a martial practitioner’s combat ability.
Only after breaking through to the seventh level of the Refinement Realm would martial practitioners would be able discharge the spirit energy in their bodies through every single part of their body in order to use it offensively, kill their enemies, or pour their spirit energy into spirit artifacts to unleash their frightening power.
Martial practitioners at this level could also refine their bones, marrows, and organs to make their bodies even tougher.
Because of this, the sixth and seventh level of the Refinement Realm were considered a watershed. Even though there was only a difference of one level, they were separated by a huge chasm.
When he fought with the martial practitioners from Shattered Ice Manor back then, it looked like he had lightning coiling all around his body, but that lightning was not really “spirit energy emission,” it was lightning from the sky that landed on his body, guided by his spirit energy. That lightning was mostly from nature’s power.
Without thunder and lightning striking down from the sky, he would not able to achieve this step. In the future when he engages in combat, he would not be able to count on both thunder and lightning to be there every time, so he needed to break through to the seventh level of the Refinement Realm as soon as possible.
The seventh level of the Refinement Realm could also will spirit energy to pervade the bones, marrows, and organs, which could help him cultivate his Heavenly Thunder Eradication.
In many people’s eyes, only those who have stepped into the seventh level of the Refinement Realm could be counted as true martial practitioners; those below the sixth level could only be referred to as martial artists.
The reason why Ling Ying admired Ling Feng was also because he broke through to the seventh level of the Refinement Realm. He was a true martial practitioner the Ling Family’s young generation.
“I must cross this threshold as soon as possible!” Qin Lie rested for a little bit, just until the soreness and numbness from his left hand decreased. Then, he took out another Umbra Lightning Condor beast core. “There are only three left. I must hurry up and breakthrough. The rest of the spirit pills and stones that I brought back from the Arctic Mountain Range can only be used at the seventh level of the Refinement Realm.”
He only gave part of the spirit pills and stones that he got from the martial practitioners of Shattered Ice Manor away as a betrothal gift. There were still some remaining in the mountain caves, which he had saved for himself.
“Zzzt Zzzt Zzzt!!”
After a while, a loud crisp sound came from his finger, as if it was going to break. However, the spirit energy that was pouring in seemed to be blocked by a hydrovalve. It couldn’t charge out of the pulp of his finger to be released at all.
Inside the cave, Qin Lie charged and charged, tried and tried, but he failed every single time.
“This is not efficient enough, it’s still no good. There has to be a better way.” Qin Lie narrowed his eyes, locked his eyebrows, and was deep in thought. Suddenly his heart and mind flinched, and he cried out in a low voice, “Soul Suppressing Orb! Thoughtless Tranquility!”
Without caring whether or not he would not be able to wake up for a long time, he took a deep breath, focused his mind and consciousness, and slowly felt a wisp of his soul floating out from his head, flying towards the Soul Suppressing Orb.
As time passed, he gathered even more of his soul consciousness and continuously aggregated all of it within the Soul Suppressing Orb.
The Soul Suppressing Orb hidden in the center of his forehead started shining remotely as if it was a pitch-black eyeball.
In the cave, the Soul Suppressing Orb was emitting a dim, flickering luster, and it seemed extremely mysterious and strange.
Slowly, the sensation of his soul leaving his body came once more, and it seemed like his soul was in a murky space within the Soul Suppressing Orb. He could see every movement of his body. He could even control his body to carry out some simple movements and have his body cultivate instinctively…
In that mysterious space, he actually could clearly see the spirit energy of the world in the cave converging towards his body, at a very high rate. He could even see the spirit energy that was thin like a light mist leisurely flowing into his body through his small pores.
The pores that he couldn’t see regardless of how much he widened his eyes were magnified several times in this state; they was so clear that it was inconceivable!
In this strange and unpredictable Thoughtless Tranquility state, his soul was in the state of departure, but his understanding towards his own body was deep to an unimaginable extent!
In this state, it was as if he managed to resonate with heaven and earth, and could attract and gather even more spirit energy…
With his soul hidden inside the Soul Suppressing Orb, Qin Lie watched his body instinctively cultivate, and he also watched the spirit energy flowing within his muscles and veins speed up, charging towards the tip of his finger each time!
He found that as the time he cultivated in this state increased, the wall that was keeping him from stepping into the seventh level of the Refinement Realm seemed to become thinner and thinner.
His mind sharpened, slowly understanding that cultivating in the Thoughtless Tranquility state caused spirit energy to gather faster, and the speed that it flowed within his muscles and veins became even faster as well.
Cultivating like this through his instincts, his body could automatically adjust itself, adjust to its optimal state. It was so magical that he felt that his soul’s existence was unnecessary.
It was so wondrous that it couldn’t be described with words!
After an uncertain amount time, a streak of blue lightning suddenly shot out from the tip of his finger. The lightning beam flashed and disappeared instantly, then shattered a piece of the rock on the stone wall in front of him.
When his wavering soul saw that flash of lightning, he was elated. He then struggled with all his might, relying on the agitation and excitement within his heart to repeatedly attack the orb.
His head was suddenly jolted, and then the feeling of his soul returning suddenly flooded his mind.
Qin Lie woke up instantly.
Over the past five years, this was the first time he didn’t need the help of external stimulation; he relied on his own willpower to escape from the state of Thoughtless Tranquility!
“Hehehe.” Qin Lie sat there with his mouth opened and couldn’t stop smiling idiotically.
With the help of the Thoughtless Tranquility state, not only did he successfully break through into the seventh level of the Refinement Realm, he also discovered more about the wondrous points of the Thoughtless Tranquility state. Furthermore, he now gained a newfound ability to escape from it. This increased his confidence significantly, as if he saw a grand, magnificent future.
The rumbling sound of his stomach woke him from his excitement. Only then did he realize that his body was thin and shriveled; he was clueless as to how long he had been starving for.
Because it had been so long since he had last eaten, his steps were a bit unsteady. He held on to the stone wall and slowly walked out of the cave with a pale complexion.
At the entrance of the cave, Ling Yushi’s face was haggard. Her eyes were filled with unresolved worry. She looked into the distance, leaning on the wall while keeping watch for who knew how long.