LOAR Chapter 186: Another Step Forward!

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Upon hearing Qiu Heng’s words, everyone subconsciously turned to look at him, and uneasiness could be seen in their eyes.

After being invaded by the Blood sect and Ghost sect, the Spiritual Treasure sect was now the weakest of the seven sects, and it had almost fallen out of the same league as the other six sects.

Since the Earth Flame Beast had broken free from the deepest parts of the Scarlet Flame Mountain Range, the entire mountain range had undergone an upheaval, and the grand Heaven Burning Earth Flame formation, which the Spiritual Treasure sect’s livelihood depended on, had also been completely destroyed.

That was why every disciple of the Spiritual Treasure sect had become anxious whenever they thought about their future.

Before entering the Heaven Gate, when Qiu Heng had learned that demons would descend upon the Realm of Flame Heaven, he imagined that the Spiritual Treasure sect would probably not have the ability to hold off their invasion now that the Heaven Burning Earth Flame formation was gone.

The reason why he wasn’t so eager to go back to the Realm of Flame Heaven was that he worried that returning to his sect might put an end to his life.

He was truly terrified.

Although many of the others despised Qiu Heng, a few of them fell into silence after hearing his words.

They all believed that the Realm of Flame Heaven was in an abyss of suffering. Even worse, it might have been taken over by the demons already…

If that was the case, their returning now was none other than going to their own grave.

“What’s the matter?” Hong Can from the Hell sect frowned as he looked at those who had lost their fighting spirit and said, “You all agree with Qiu Heng?”

Feng Luo snorted coldly and said, “The realm of Flame Heaven is in turmoil so it needs us now more than ever! We have to return as soon as possible! Without it, we’ll be nothing but a handful of drifting ghosts. Each and every one of us was raised and favored by our sects. It’s only right that we protect them when others want to take them away from us!”

Li Fan nodded in assent.

However, Zou Yi from the Ghost sect and Guan Gu from the Grayvale sect, together with a couple of others, still remained in silence.

After a while, Zou Yi suddenly said, “After the trial, some of us may now be on the verge of breaking through. I’d say it’s better that we make the breakthrough here and return with more strength. From the way it looks, the teleportation portal is going to last for a while, so we still have some time before we have to go back to the Realm of Flame Heaven.

“We can use this period of time to draw enlightenment from our experiences over the past few months, and study the good fortune that we’ve obtained here.

“Perhaps, returning when our strength has reached a maximum would be a better choice. After all, that way we’ll be able to contribute more.

“What do you all say?”

Zou Yi’s gaze swept through the crowd.

Guan Qiu, Qiu Heng, and two disciples of the Mystic Mist sect nodded in assent.

Hong Can took a glance at them, and after a moment of pondering, he said, “Alright, let’s take a while to adjust ourselves, but hurry. I’ll keep an eye on the teleportation portal and remind you when it shows signs of running out of energy so that we can teleport back to our realm before the it closes.”

“Ok, let’s get started,” said Feng Luo.

Everyone sat down by the side of the ancient teleportation portal. People from the same sect gathered into small groups and started contemplating their gains in the Heaven Gate trial.

Nie Tian sat with Li Fan and Jiang Lingzhu. Calming himself and narrowing his eyes, he used his psychic awareness to examine his spiritual sea.

Two vortexes of spiritual power, one vortex of flame power and one vortex of wood power, were rotating at a high speed within his spiritual sea.

It seemed that the misty, white spiritual power within them had already been refined to the fullest after numerous rounds of refinement, and he wouldn’t be able to further refine it before his spiritual sea upgraded.

He was aware that he had reached a bottleneck, and given the right stimulation, he would instantly make the breakthrough and step into the next stage.

He continued to observe his spiritual sea as he took out a spirit stone. As soon as he started absorbing energy from it, he felt a strange sensation.

He looked down at the Heaven Gate pattern on the back of his hand.

The two hexagrams within the pattern started to shine with faint starlight.

Then, eyes wide, he looked up into the starry sky.

Countless stars were hanging high in the ice-cold starry river; some of them were glittering with bright light, while others looked rather dim.

Some stars seemed extremely distant and were only the size of grains, while others were the size of grapes.

He felt that the hexagrams had somehow interacted with those stars while he had examined his spiritual sea and meditated.

He looked at the stars with rapt attention and found that they seemed to shine brighter now, and he even felt that the starlight was slightly gathering towards him.

He wanted to channel the starlight into his soul, but when he cast the incantation, he couldn’t feel any change in his soul.

On the contrary, a flash of starlight flashed across his spiritual sea, which was brimming with spiritual power.

“Yee?!” Surprised, he immediately shifted his focus from his soul to the sea of spiritual power in his dantian.

At that moment, he also realized that the two hexagrams on his hand had grown dazzlingly bright.

More and more starlight poured down from the ice-cold starry sky and converged on Nie Tian’s hexagrams.

As he operated the Qi Refining Incantation, the starlight started to flow into his arms and gradually circulate through his entire body.

Before long, a small light spot was born in his spiritual sea and grew increasingly bright.

Deeply intrigued, Nie Tian concentrated his attention on his spiritual sea. While he observed the shining light spot, another one took shape next to it.

Immediately afterwards, his originally calm spiritual sea started to ripple with raging, huge waves, as if it all had been caused by those two tiny light spots that looked like stars.

The misty, white spiritual energy constantly rose and descended violently within his spiritual sea. As the two vortexes of spiritual power started to rotate at a unprecedentedly high speed, Nie Tian sense that more spiritual energy was allowed into his spiritual sea.

CRACKLE!

The spirit stone in Nie Tian’s hand suddenly shattered into pieces, seemingly drained of its spiritual energy in a flash!

Without saying a word, Nie Tian took out six more spirit stones from his bracelet of holding; holding three in each hand, he started absorbing the energy within them.

After all, unlike the Ancient Fragmentary Star Palace, there wasn’t even the slightest bit of the spiritual Qi of Heaven and Earth in this place. Therefore, he had to used spirit stones if he wished to upgrade his spiritual sea.

At that moment, Li Fan, who had been contemplating beside him with his eyes closed, seemed to have felt something and snapped open his eyes.

Sitting next to him, Jiang Lingzhu also opened her eyes and looked at him with a surprised and confused expression on her face.

Both of them had sensed the violent energy fluctuations that Nie Tian emanated into the surroundings.

Li Fan’s eyes glittered with a sharp light as he used his psychic awareness to examine the unusual spiritual power fluctuations. A moment later, he grinned and said, “This kid is indeed quite beyond ordinary.”

He could tell that Nie Tian was currently on the verge of breaking through.

Jiang Lingzhu was taken aback. “Is he going to enter the late Lesser Heaven stage soon?”

Li Fan nodded and said in a soft voice, “I bet he obtained a good fortune in that mysterious place, way more than us. After disappearing for three months, he now seems like a totally different person. Although I don’t know exactly what happened to him, I assume what he had gained in those three months will be life-changing for him!

“I think it’s safe to say that, among all the trial takers, he gained the most fortune, and he’s the biggest winner of the Heaven Gate trial!”

Shocked, Jiang Lingzhu didn’t say anything in reply, but rather secretly glanced around, fearing that others might have overheard their conversation.

“Do we need to guard him while he cultivates?” She asked in a low voice.

Li Fan smiled and shook his head. “We would probably need to if it were before, but now it’s a different time. I don’t think we need to now. The Realm of Flame Heaven is probably at war with the wave of demons. Facing such great calamities, I believe the seven sects will stick together, at least for the time being. From what I can tell, that kid seems to have won acknowledgment from Hong Can, Feng Luo, and Zou Yi, and they all believe Nie Tian has the potential to become one of the strongest experts in all the realms. I doubt that they’ll try to make a move on him.”

“The speed this guy advances at is simply unbelievable…” Jiang Lingzhu sounded somewhat frustrated. “He was merely in the fourth level of the Qi Refining stage when I first met him. I would never have imagined that his cultivation base would surpass mine in such a short time.”

Li Fan said with a slight smile, “I have to say martial granduncle is a perfect judge of talent.”

It was also at that moment that a third vortex of spiritual power, together with a small vortex that was filled with starlight, appeared in Nie Tian’s violently moving spiritual sea!

Afterwards, his turbulent spiritual sea rapidly returned to peace.

That was when he realized that he had made another breakthrough and stepped into the late Lesser Heaven stage.

 

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My lords, as you probably know, Halloween is already pretty popular in China, with malls and grocery stores cashing in on the American holiday. But do you know that China has its own ghost festival today? It’s called the Winter Clothing Festival. Rather than making winter clothes, this holiday is meant for fire, more specifically, burning paper clothes for one’s ancestors. After today, the weather is going to get colder and colder, so people burn clothes to keep their loved ones warm in their afterlife.

Similar with Halloween in a way, the Winter Clothing Festival is regarded as a ghost festival, one of four (the other three are Shangsi Festival, Tomb-sweeping Day, and Zhongyuan Festival or Ghost Day). There are different versions of the origins of the Winter Clothing Festival, but the most popular one is a love story.

In the Qin Dynasty (221 to 206 BC), there were two childless families, one surnamed Meng and the other one surnamed Jiang. One year, the two families planted a gourd around their mutual fence, and when the gourd matured, they found a pretty baby girl inside. They named the girl Meng Jiang Nǚ, meaning the daughter the of Meng and Jiang family. Gradually, the girl grew into a beautiful and kind woman, and fell in love with a handsome young man named Fan Qiliang. They got married, but just three days after their wedding, Fan was taken by officials to build the Great Wall.

Meng Jiang Nǚ didn’t hear any news from her husband for almost a year and then one day, she dreamed that her husband was freezing on the wall. When she woke up, she began to make winter clothes for him. And then she started off to find her husband, which was of course a dangerous expedition. When she finally arrived at the foot of the Great Wall, she was told that her husband had already died. Meng Jiang Nǚ was so heartbroken and she couldn’t help but cry. To everyone’s surprise, when she began shedding tears, the Great Wall began to fall apart. She kept crying, and the Great Wall continued to collapse, until the body of her husband was revealed. This is one of China’s Four Great Love Stories (the other three being The Legend of Niulang and Zhinǚ, The Legend of White Snake and the Butterfly Lovers) .

This story became the inspiration for the Winter Clothes Day, and “burning paper clothes and money on October 1st on the Chinese lunar calendar” became a tradition in Northern China. (P.S. I’m a northener myself)

(People can choose from the numerous types of Joss-money. Some of them look rather familiar, right?)

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