The car drove all the way to a public park. As it passed by the Triumphant Virtue Plaza, the two youths visibly tensed. However, the tremendous fox, simply invisible to mortals, merely opened a sliver of its golden pupils and then sneered in disdain from down its dark nose. The beast continued to bury its head in its shaggy tail.
“Deputy Minister Chu.” When Xu Yangyi and the others had come to the public park’s entrance during the afternoon, there had been no one. But at this moment, a man wearing a white coat was standing at the entrance with a smile stretching across his face, cupping his hands. “Welcome, it’s been some time. Are you well?”
He was an unimpressive sight. His speech was slovenly and his beard was unkempt. He was roughly around twenty-seven to twenty-eight years old, but on this night, he stood there like a mountain. Perhaps it could be said that if a passer-by saw him, they wouldn’t know why they couldn’t pay attention to anything surrounding the young man. Their gaze would only concentrate on his body, as if they were obeying some rule.
A trace of a smile finally drifted onto Deputy Minister Chu’s face. Just as the car stopped, the driver immediately opened the rear door and lent an arm to help him get out of the car. Deputy Minister Chu’s footsteps quickened, and he wore an extremely splendid smile as he advanced and grasped Deputy Branchmaster Qi’s hand. “I’m well. Deputy Branchmaster Qi hasn’t even changed since fifty years ago; I’m unable to restrain my envy.”
Deputy Branchmaster Qi!
This was Nantong Province’s Heavens Law branch, yet the arrival of this old man brought the deputy branch master to personally come welcome him!
As Deputy Branchmaster Qi heard these words, he sighed ruefully, “Like a dream or fantasy, ‘tis but a fleeting emptiness… Why the hell am I talking about this; there’s no reason to be sentimental.” 
“And you.” He pulled on the short-statured Deputy Minister Chu, and walked towards the pavilion. “We submitted an application to the government this year to develop the Huanglong travel region, but to my surprise you turned me away. We still have this matter in mind, you know.”
“Old Qi.” Deputy Minister Chu sighed deeply, “It’s not that I wanted to turn you away, but the Huanglong travel region is an A+ level Chinese tourism destination. It’s famous domestically and internationally. Your proposal is too radical. Whether it’s the regional or Central Committee—and not even mentioning the provincial level—you can’t even get this to pass through the prefectural level.”
“But there’s a massive spirit stone mine underground! The accumulated amount measures as high as 200 million tons! We’ve already determined that there are four kinds of uncommon metals inside! The people from the Bountiful Treasures Pavilion’s artificing department are nearly stationed there 24/7!”
“I know.” It was said that Deputy Minister Chu’s reputation was brilliant, yet his face was without the slightest begrudgement so that not even a change in his voice was present. “So, it must be slowly planned. Otherwise, this entire nation’s billion people will have no choice but to speak about it. Although China’s million cultivators is its primary military strength, the truth of the matter is that this nation’s cornerstone is its billion citizens. I, Minister Wang, and Minister Qi have personally taken charge over this business. In three months, Heavens Law will have an answer.”
After he finished speaking, he extended his hand behind him to a warm thermos, and unscrewed the cover. At nearly the same time, he set it down in his old, wizened hand.
“How is Zhaonan?” He sipped lightly and changed the topic. This was genuine Big Red Robe tea, a tea that only China was in possession of. He was rather fond of this flavor. 
“Deputy Minister Chu’s grandson is naturally a dragon among men.” Deputy Branchmaster Qi narrowed his eyes. “However, you’ve never cared for the wellbeing of your grandson. Only the status of his cultivation. You wouldn't have needed to come here for just this today, yes?”
Deputy Minister Chu slightly narrowed his eyes. Immediately, of the men he had brought with him, regardless if they were police, the two youths, or his driver, all of them silently left like an orderly group of soldiers.
Not one person was left behind. It seemed like the ebbing of a crowd, as if the fanfare on stage had ended as the main character took to the scene.
Deputy Branchmaster Qi was faintly stunned. Not even waiting for him to speak, Deputy Minister Chu, who was a head shorter than him, walked in front of him and dragged out his hand, writing several characters on it with his right hand.
“Do you speak the truth!?” Deputy Branchmaster Qi’s expression transformed in an instant, and his voice immediately sunk. He turned his hand over and gripped on to Deputy Minister Chu’s hand, his lips somewhat pale. He asked hoarsely, “The prize this time… is actually that item?!”
“It has been verified a thousand times over.” Deputy Minister Chu wordlessly extracted his hand and laughed coldly, “Otherwise, why would I rush over here through the middle of the night to Fengyi City? The distance from the Capital to Fengyi is thousands of kilometers. I’m not so idle with my time.”
Deputy Branchmaster Qi tightly pursed his lips. He dared not be convinced. Fortuity Profound Elixir was an absolute match-made-in-heaven if bestowed to a Qi Condensation cultivator. But to his surprise, the elixir’s grade this time far exceeded the Fortuity Profound Elixir… It was an item that even stirred the hearts of Foundation Establishment cultivators!
“Which Dao Master took it out?” His state of mind finally stabilized itself with great difficulty. Within ten seconds, he immediately sought an answer.
“Daomaster Floatingcloud.” Deputy Minister Chu casually threw a card out. “500 million. An additional high-grade spirit stone. I need Zhaonan to take first place.”
Hearing the two words ‘spirit stone’, a trace of fanaticism flashed through Deputy Branchmaster Qi’s gaze in an instant.
Deputy Minister Chu leaned in closer, grinding his white teeth. “Will you take up the task, or will the men that I’ve brought with me have to?”
Deputy Branchmaster Qi was silent, and Deputy Minister Chu smiled. “Relax. It’s not worth it to me to exchange my good future prospects for a bunch of Qi Condensation insects. Only for a year, make it so that they’ll have no way to use qi. For myself, a mortal, achieve this much is already at the peak of my standing as a majestic deputy minister… It really is a mockery.”
Deputy Branchmaster Qi remained quiet. He only looked deeply at Deputy Minister Chu.
“Immortal Intoxication.” Deputy Minister Chu said indifferently, “I’ve searched for ten years, but all I’ve found is this tea… Don’t use that kind of piercing look to judge me, I haven’t even worked with the cultivation world for a year. A Qi Condensation cultivator… Apart from who’s first place, have all of you ever once cared for one? As long as nothing major occurs—with my position as deputy minister—even late Foundation Establishment isn’t a worry. Will he grant me the face, or will it be to the insects in front of you?”
It was silent for a long period of time. Deputy Branchmaster Qi retracted his hand, yet the card could no longer be seen. “This matter… will come to pass.”
“Daomaster Floatingcloud… is revered by the Qin Imperial Court’s Qin Clan. He partners together with world-class authorities. I’m at the initial stage of Foundation Establishment. Even if he kills me in passing, no one will dare raise half a word.”
The corner of Deputy Minister Chu’s mouth curled into a smirk. He looked at Deputy Branchmaster Qi indifferently and said faintly after a long time, “When did you start to speak so dramatically?”
“A mortal without background, one without the qualifications to possess this kind of treasure. Since you’re a mortal… you should stop in your own position.” Deputy Branchmaster Qi said.
Deputy Minister Chu narrowed his eyes. “You think there’s someone else even more suited to gain that item other than my, Chu Tianyi’s, grandson? The successor of the Chu Clan?
These words seemed to make the air grow cold. Even though he wasn’t a cultivator, Deputy Branchmaster Qi couldn’t burst out in laughter at Deputy Minister Chu in the least bit. Not waiting for Deputy Branchmaster Qi to reply, Deputy Minister Chu laughed eerily, “They dare not. They are also undeserving.”
“History has always been written by the victor… however, one who is strong is not necessarily the winner. But certainly, the winner must be one who is strong.” He used his cane to thump the floor and chuckled grimly. His voice was cold like a blade. “As long as we continue to be the victor, the history that we write will always be true regarding those Qi Condensation ‘winners and losers’. As for what they think…”
He raised a brow. “Is it as important as my 500 million?”
Deputy Branchmaster Qi muttered to himself for a brief moment. “In that case… I shall risk my life and accompany the gentleman this time.”
Time flowed past by minutes and seconds. Xu Yangyi didn’t know how much time had passed anymore. A day? Two days? Three days? Or perhaps a single hour?
He had scheduled the thought to end his seclusion after five days, but now he was not of mind to simply even care about how many days had passed.
His gaze didn’t leave his qi sea. He didn’t know how long it had been. His spiritual sense’s abrupt strengthening in addition to his first use of the Spirit Focusing Formation had sent qi pouring into his body in a frenzy. The surrounding air faintly trembled. Originally, his qi sea had been a soon-to-be ‘brimming’ pool, but now as far as the eye could see, the soaring qi had already become more intense, like a pot of water that had just boiled!
Yet it still hadn’t ‘boiled over’...
Xu Yangyi’s senses transformed bit by bit, so that even his state of mind was drawn in by all kinds of profound, minute transformations. He could distinctly capture that it was but a mere strand of a difference… A strand was enough to push his initial-stage qi sea over the edge!
That would be the time he charged into the middle stage! For the time being, whether or not he would succeed wasn’t up for discussion. Nonetheless, assailing a Qi Condensation boundary wasn’t like in Foundation Establishment, where a single failure would trigger a backlash against the body. For Qi Condensation, you could choose to break through at any moment as long as you reached the threshold. This was heaven’s compensation to cultivators who had newly advanced towards the endless path of cultivation.
Merely, if one didn’t succeed in breaking through, they would be confronted with qi degradation. Around a tenth of one’s qi would be lost in a single bout. However, in comparison to a failure of assailing a Foundation Establishment boundary, where one would be in a state where they would have to nurse themselves for several years, it was by far much better.
He had long since decided that in case his qi sea fully swelled, he would assail the middle stage at the first opportunity! Qi slowly flowed into his entire body. The length of time that passed was unknown. Amidst his meditation, Xu Yangyi’s eyelids faintly trembled and slowly opened afterwards.
At this instant, his qi sea was peaceful no more. Instead, vaporous strands of white qi rushed towards the firmament! His entire qi sea had truly come to a boil!
This was the true Great Circle of initial Qi Condensation!
“Huff…” Xu Yangyi breathed in deeply without a moment’s delay, cycling the Hundred Solutions with a rumble! His qi sea loudly erupted! An untold number of fog-like qi strands frantically surged toward every major meridian and acupuncture point in his entire body!
Gall bladder meridian, liver meridian, large intestine meridian, stomach meridian, spleen meridian, heart meridian, small intestine meridian, bladder meridian, pericardium meridian, and the three truncal meridians, his short hair moved despite the absence of wind, and his face gradually flushed.
Like a spirit snake, qi followed his twelve meridians to form a complete cycle. If someone examined him at this moment, they would discover that Xu Yangyi’s internals organs, bones, and flesh were emitting a layer of lustrous white light, an external appearance of being encased in qi. Advancement was in fact bodily transformation, a process of evolution. It was making his body even more suited to absorbing and storing qi. If an analogy had to be made it was like a computer upgrade.
His heart was the CPU, his skeleton was the motherboard, and his flesh was the circuits… At this very instance, all his qi was transforming! Once this transformation reached a critical point, his qi sea would fiercely expand! The middle stage of Qi Condensation would be achieved!
At this moment, in one of the arena’s stone rooms, Chu Zhaonan was meditating. However, he suddenly opened his eyes in the next second!
The worldly qi was stirring abnormally… It wasn’t an ordinary, random skip of a fluctuation… but rather a fully delighted abnormality! Furthermore, it was swiftly centralizing!
Astonishment flashed through his eyes. Beneath the massive characters of Unrivaled Beneath the Heavens, at the lowest level of the Heavens Law branch, it was absolutely impossible that an outside enemy had invaded or a treasure had appeared in the world. This could only represent a single matter!
“Someone is breaking through!” He suddenly jumped off his bed without a second word, and sent his paper crane towards the door. In short time, he rushed onto the arena stage. “This is…” Just as he arrived outside, he was stunned, thoroughly dumbfounded.
Thanks for reading! If you're enjoying the novel, consider recommending or reviewing it! If you'd like to discuss Archfiend, report a typo, or check on update status please come to the Archfiend channel on the Wuxiaworld Discord! Access to the channel can be accessed via the bottom-right image of discord on the web page or https://discord.gg/FKUPcue!