Chapter 38: Qi Condensation Manual of the Sublime Spirit Scripture
Two months passed in the twinkling of an eye. Meng Hao had already been a member of the Inner Sect for an entire season. He did not continue to visit the Outer Sect often. Like a fish in water, Fatty had grown accustomed to surviving on his own, and was quite at ease.
Most of Meng Hao’s time was spent in the Magic Pavilion.
One day, he sat there cross-legged, a calm expression on his face as he read a bamboo text. He raised his right hand and began to make incantation gestures, causing a magical light to circulate around it and cast flickering shadows onto his face.
A Water Globe appeared, but then unexpectedly transformed into mist and dissipated into the surroundings. Meng Hao frowned, putting down the bamboo text. He reached into his robe and pulled out a glowing jade slip.
It was pure white and blurry inside, as if it were filled with mist. A closer inspection revealed that the surface was actually translucent, like crystal.
“Chen Fan, Xu Qing, Meng Hao. Come to the main temple hall on the East Mountain.” The words were spoken by a dignified voice which transmitted out from within the jade slip. It was easily identifiable as belonging to Sect Leader He Luohua.
Meng Hao straightened up the bamboo texts, stood and strode silently out of the main door of the Magic Pavilion, making his way toward the top of the East Mountain.
At almost the same time as he walked out, two figures shot toward the peak. One had a warm, gentle face, filled with righteousness: Chen Fan. The other was beautiful but cold: Elder Sister Xu Qing.
Xu Qing cast a glance at Meng Hao. This was the first time they had seen each other since that evening the previous month.
The three sped toward the peak of the East Mountain, eventually arriving at the main temple hall. It had an ancient feel, the rich ornamentation giving the feeling that it had seen many ages pass. This was a very important place to the Reliance Sect, a place that throughout the generations, only Inner Sect disciples could visit.
Within the main temple hall were nine statues. The foremost one was of an old man, his expression not one of anger, yet still filled with might. His dark eyes seemed to shine with life. His left hand was lifted up in front of him, his chin raised as if he were staring down his nose at all creation. He seemed to emanate a sort of indescribable, domineering air. Behind him, eight statues were arranged neatly, all of them possessing the demeanor of transcendent beings.
Meng Hao had visited this place during his first seven days in the Inner Sect. He had kowtowed before these statues, and knew well that the calm, powerful old man was none other than Patriarch Reliance. The other statues were the other Patriarchs of the Reliance Sect.
Sect Leader He Luohua stood beneath the statues, his back toward Meng Hao and the others as they entered. He stared at the statues as if he were in a trance. It was impossible to tell what he was thinking. Next to him was Grand Elder Ouyang. He nodded to the three of them, a solemn expression on his face.
“Pay homage to the Patriarch,” he said, his voice profound.
Meng Hao, Xu Qing and Chen Fan bowed deeply to Patriarch Reliance, their faces somber.
“I joined the Sect when Patriarch Reliance had been missing for one hundred years,” said He Luohua. “At that time, the Reliance Sect was still in its glory days.” He sighed and turned around. Meng Hao, Chen Fan and even Xu Qing gazed at him with shining eyes.
He was silent a moment, before slowly continuing: “You have read about Patriarch Reliance in the ancient records, and know how glorious our Reliance Sect used to be… We even had a complete understanding of the three levels of Foundation Establishment. I’ve called you here today to explain the complete truth.
“The former glory of the Reliance Sect was all due to Patriarch Reliance. Because of his Cultivation base, he dominated the entire State of Zhao. His reputation even shook the Southern Domain. All of that was because of one of the manuals of the Sublime Spirit Scripture.” As He Luohua spoke, Chen Fan’s eyes began to shine brightly. Even Xu Qing’s grew sharp.
Only Meng Hao stared blankly; he had no idea what the Sublime Spirit Scripture was.
“The Qi Condensation manual?” said Chen Fan lightly. He was a senior disciple of the Inner Sect, and knew many secrets. Other things he had worked out through speculation.
“The Sublime Spirit Scripture is one of the three great classic scriptures in the lands of South Heaven,” continued He Luohua softly. “It was passed down through the generations since ancient times. Originally it was comprised of seven manuals, but most have been lost. One of them was the Qi Condensation manual, which describes how to establish a Flawless Foundation. The Foundation Establishment manual describes the method to Form a Purple Core, not a Crimson or Mixed Core. The Core Formation manual can enable one to develop a four-colored Nascent Form… In other words, each manual enables one to reach the strongest stage.
“That year, Patriarch Reliance obtained the Qi Condensation manual. The reason the heir to the Wang clan joined the Reliance Sect was because of the Sublime Spirit Scripture’s Qi Condensation Manual.”
Meng Hao’s eyes glittered, and his heart began to race. He had heard Elder Brother Chen speak of the different levels of Foundation Establishment. Now that he knew how powerful this magic was that Patriarch Reliance had obtained, he understood why Wang Tengfei had joined the Reliance Sect.
“If I could obtain it…” The strong desire in his heart suddenly began to burn even hotter.
“Sadly, even I have never laid eyes on this Qi Condensation manual, let alone others,” said He Luohua. “The scripture was not handed down. It exists only in the memory of the Patriarch.” Meng Hao remained silent, and Chen Fan’s face flashed with realization. Xu Qing raised her head to look at the statue of Patriarch Reliance.
Silence reigned in the main temple hall.
“Four hundred years have passed, and everyone in the outside world assumes that the Patriarch died during his meditation. Only myself and a few others know that the Patriarch… is absolutely not dead.” As his words drifted out into Meng Hao’s ears, they seemed to transform into a thunderous roar.
“Four hundred years ago, the Patriarch’s Cultivation base had reached the late Nascent Soul stage. And yet, he was reaching the end of his life. In order to break through to the fabled Spirit Severing stage, one must be at least one thousand years old. If not, how can he defy the Heavens to sever his Spirit?
“The Patriarch chose to meditate in seclusion, in order to sever his Spirit body and be reborn. It was a meditation of… four hundred years.
“When he went into meditation four hundred years ago, the Patriarch left a command. Every one hundred years, he would send out some pieces of Vorpal Jade, formed from his own blood. Then, the outstanding members of the current generation of Inner Sect disciples could use the Vorpal Jade to enter his meditation zone. By kindling the Qi and blood inside the Vorpal Jade, they could have a chance, if lucky, to gain enlightenment of the knowledge he permeated throughout the area. Knowledge of… the Sublime Spirit Scripture.” He Luohua’s words echoed out. Meng Hao lifted his head up, as did the others.
“Success is success. Failure is failure. If things had stayed the same, surely a disciple would have succeeded already. But two hundred years ago, the Patriarch experienced an accident in his cultivation. He almost lost his life. Afterwards, the chances of enlightenment in his meditation zone grew weak, and the restrictive spells stronger. He didn’t send any more Vorpal Jades out until five years ago… When he did, he sent out three pieces.
“Three pieces of Vorpal Jade indicate that three individuals may enter. It also reveals how powerful the restrictive spells are in the Patriarch’s meditation zone, and means that there are only three areas where enlightenment may occur.” He Luohua’s voice reverberated throughout the main hall. He flicked his right sleeve, and three blood-red streaks shot toward Meng Hao and the others, to stop floating in front of them.
They were jade-smooth Blood Crystals, also known as Vorpal Jade.
“You three are the only disciples of the Inner Sect, and therefore I bestow these Vorpal Jades to you. Whether or not you gain the enlightenment of the Sublime Spirit Scripture will depend on your luck.” With that, he flicked his sleeve again, and the statue of Patriarch Reliance began to hum. Its eyes shone with boundless radiance, and a vortex began to form in front of him.
“Enter,” said He Luohua, his voice sounding out like thunder. “I wish you luck in enlightenment.” Meng Hao and the others seemed to transform into auroras as they gripped their pieces of Vorpal Jade and shot into the vortex, disappearing inside. Outside, the vortex remained, but without a Vorpal Jade, no one, not even a Cultivator at the Nascent Soul stage, could enter it.
Looking up at the vortex, Grand Elder Ouyang quietly said, “Who knows which of them will acquire the Sublime Spirit Scripture, or… perhaps they will all come up empty-handed.”
“It depends on personal fortune, there’s no use in thinking too much about it.” He Luohua sat down cross-legged next to him and began to meditate.
When Meng Hao entered the vortex, a blinding light appeared in front of his eyes which forced him to close them. A rumbling roar sounded in his ears, and then he heard strange shrieks and screams coming from all directions. After what seemed like years, he felt his body suddenly tremble, and then the sounds ceased. The shrieking turned into silence. He opened his eyes to find himself standing on top of a sacrificial altar that was several meters tall. He looked around.
The place was enormous. Up above was black earth, dotted with small crystals that shone like stars, casting a dim light on the surroundings. Nothing was very clear, as if everything were covered with gauze. Various buildings rose up out of the fog.
“How desolate! It seems like no one has been here for hundreds of years.” It was Chen Fan’s voice, drifting from some distance away. Eventually, he appeared, walking through the fog. In the direction from which he came could be seen another altar, several meters tall.
“The soil up above has restrictive spells cast on it. These are the Sect catacombs.” Xu Qing appeared from another direction. Dressed in her silver robe, she appeared matchlessly beautiful.
“I entered the Sect earlier than both of you,” said Chen Fan. “Once I performed guard duty at the main temple hall, so I know a few secrets that you two don’t. These are definitely the Reliance Sect catacombs. Directly above is the Outer Sect.”
Meng Hao walked off the altar to stand next to Chen Fan and Xu Qing. Looking around at the hazy images of buildings around them, he could see plenty of withered plants and flowers. Everything was deathly still.
“This fog is a restrictive spell,” said Meng Hao with a frown. “It’s making everything appear to be black and white. No color whatsoever.”
“Precisely,” said Chen Fan with a serious look. “Don’t attempt to touch it. Because of the Patriarch’s weak state, he’s lost control of it. Let us use our Vorpal Jades to find our places of enlightenment.” He looked at them. “We don’t know how much time we will have to gain enlightenment. Let’s all wait for each other, then leave together. Junior Sister Xu, Junior Brother Meng, I wish you success.” He cast his spiritual power into the Vorpal Jade, whereupon it emitted a blood-red glow and began to drift away. Chen Fan followed, soon disappearing into the distance.
Xu Qing nodded at Meng Hao, then followed the blood-red glow of her Vorpal Jade in a different direction.
Meng Hao looked around, then was about to activate his own Vorpal Jade when suddenly, a shrill shriek rang out. It grew closer and closer, until it seemed to be only about thirty meters away.