“You fool, what are you thinking?” The little chick snickered. It lifted up its right wing first. As expected, there were five dots and nothing more. And then it lifted its left wing.
Li Tianming saw a black dot on an obscure corner of Ying Huo's left wing, and he understood immediately. There were five dots on its right wing, and a new one on its left that only appeared today.
He looked at his own left arm. Considering that the rings had manifested on his right arm so far, he didn’t expect to see them on his left. After all, his left arm was covered in black scales too. Taking off the bandage, he scrutinised his arm closely and saw a faint black ring engraved into the black scales. Just like the black cat, it was difficult to see since the background was black, but there was no doubt the sixth ring had appeared. In other words, he had twice the number of rings Wei Jing had!
“What’s going on with this Lifesbane?” Li Tianming didn't know how to react to the changes in his body. His body was progressing to that of an unfathomable genius at an alarming rate, and who knew how long it would take for him to master Demise of Earth now!
Six days had passed since he began learning the Demise of Man-Earth-Heaven, which was also the day of the sixth ring's appearance.
With his silvery hair and his magnificent sword arts, Li Tianming was already drawing the attention of many disciples, but now that the earth itself would shake with every strike he unleashed, 'center of attraction' was now an understatement.
The stance he was currently practicing made use of a posture that let him draw on the power in the ground to release an explosive burst of energy. It consisted of nine different strikes, each of them capable of unleashing an earthquake's might. Just by standing around him, the onlooking disciples could sense the remnants of his sword ki, crashing onto them like tidal waves.
The focus of the disciples, however, still remained on the same thing.
“He really looks different now.”
“Was he always so handsome?”
“I think it’s just the hair, the silvery threads really give him a cool feel to it. I should ask him where he got that dye.”
“Forget it, with your looks it’s like dyeing a frog.”
Discussions and envious exclamations surrounded Li Tianming, who ignored all those and focused on his sword. He was almost done with Earth-Quaker.
“Six now?” Mu Yang arrived just in time to see his next Earth-Quaker, the corner of his mouth twitching.
“I’m pretty sure I will die from stress if I take you as my disciple.” A bead of sweat rolled down his forehead.
After everything Mu Yang had done to help Wei Jing, he was now hiding from her. According to him, to be together with the youthful-looking Wei Jing was too stressful. Likewise, now that Li Tianming wanted to be his disciple, having met his requirements, Mu Yang rejected the talented youth, once again due to the immense pressure.
Sage Chen's words weren't that off the mark, eh? Could it be that he’s spending so much time guiding me, simply because he wants to avoid Wei Jing? Tianming stared at him, suspicious.
“Once your left arm is filled, you should have ten rings,” Mu Yang wondered out loud.
“That should be the case...”
“I look forward to seeing how talented you'll be after attaining all ten rings. We shall see if you can learn the entire Demise of Man-Earth-Heaven within half a month then.”
That was Li Tianming’s goal as well. He was done with Earth-Quaker, and now it was time to move on to Hell-Shaker. The new move was a downwards vertical cleave, making it an immensely powerful move that was also equally difficult to learn.
Demise of Man and Demise of Earth differed from each other greatly. Demise of Man styled the user as a phantom that terrorised souls, while Demise of Earth focused on using overwhelming power to crush foes. Just like its name suggested, the Hell-Shaker’s might would penetrate even the depths of hell.
As he started practicing the move, Li Tianming was immediately aware that the seemingly simple cleave was in fact the most difficult stance that he had tried so far. The most difficult part was to understand the boldness and will needed to split hell apart, and only then could he properly master the move. It had a steep learning curve, and after a day's practice, he returned to the Flameyellow rock with little gain.
The next day, when the seventh ring appeared on his left hand, the move seemed easier to understand. On the eighth day, he could somewhat grasp the basics of the move. And on the ninth day, Li Tianming had mastered the Hell-Shaker, not forgetting to rub it in by exclaiming the ease in which he picked up the move.
On the tenth day, Li Tianming’s left hand was now identical to his right in terms of the number of rings. He stared into the mirror, completely flabbergasted. Was that person still… him?
His hair was now a white so pure that even a speck of dust would be noticeable on his head. It wasn’t a greyish-white that came with old age, but a shiny white that radiated a healthy glow. Even his eyebrows were the same colour, giving him an exotic aura that was bound to turn heads. Of course, that applied for the other hairs on his body too…
“How I wish I could get such a colour too. Why did I not get it?” the little chick asked enviously, its feathers still the same fluffy yellow. The Lifesbane was a result of Li Tianming’s bloodline and it would therefore have a lot less effect on his two beasts.
“What a miracle!” On the third floor of the Flameyellow Pagoda, Mu Yang and Sage Chen stared at the white-haired youth in awe. His mother was already something of a legend, since she had three rings... but where did that place the ten-ringed Li Tianming? Wei Jing could cultivate three to four times faster than a regular Spiritsource.
With that as a bench mark, the monster called Li Tianming should be minimally ten times as talented as a youth his age. Having ten bane-rings had a holistic effect on him, improving his comprehension, intelligence, and his speed of cultivation in general.
The blessing of Lifesbane was different from what he had gotten from the Primordial Chaos Beasts. It was a result of Li Tianming’s own bloodline, and had little effect initially. However, when combined with the Primordial Chaos Beasts, the changes on his body were almost unimaginable!
In other words, the Primordial Chaos Beasts had helped Li Tianming to obtain a comprehensive upgrade to his physique, beast ki, and bloodline. At the same time, Lifesbane had maximised his talent at cultivation and learning martial arts. That was also the reason why he only took ten days to learn Demise of Man and Earth, which were simplified versions of heavenly-ranked battle arts. While it wasn't evident now, the moment Li Tianming entered Heavenly Will, he would notice that his understanding of heavenly will would also be much better than most others.
While the blessing of Lifesbane originated from his own bloodline, his two lifebound beasts had benefitted from it as well. For example, the little chick was already capable of pulling off Earth-Quaker with its wings. With their reliance on spiritsource abilities, most lifebound beasts had limited understanding of beastial arts. Ying Huo, however, was an exception — he was a monstrous genius when it came to learning them. Even Meow Meow could have been one too, had it not been so lazy.
“What? Learn beastial arts? No way, meow! That’s taking away even more sleep from me, meow!” The best that Li Tianming and Ying Huo could do was to convince it to cultivate using the Genesis Chaos Codex.
It was the tenth day since Li Tianming’s Lifesbane appeared, and Mu Yang had instructed him to have a one-day break before starting on Demise of Heaven. He would be learning Divine-Fury, Heavenly-Judgement, and finally Apocalyptic-Will!
For the past ten days, Li Tianming had always spent the night working on symbiotic cultivation beside the Flameyellow Rock. His original cultivation speed had doubled, tripled, and then went on from there with every passing day; right now, he was ten times faster than his original speed!
This 'original speed', furthermore, was taking into account his proximity to the Flameyellow Rock. He was forty to fifty times faster than a normal disciple at the third ring, while being a hundred times faster than someone who cultivated in the outermost ring. With the speed that his Aeternal Infernal Codex and Genesis Chaos Codex converted spiritual energy into beast ki at, a day's work meant a lot for his strength.
Ten days ago, when Wei Jing was cured of Lifesbane, he had just reached sixth level Spiritsource. But now, with the aid of his ten bane-rings and the Flameyellow Rock, Li Tianming was already seventh level. One month had passed since the Abyssal Trials finished, and he had already cleared two levels consecutively. The difficulty of breakthrough would increase exponentially as one continued to cultivate, not to mention that his breakthrough was twice as difficult, since he needed to progress both of his spiritsources together.
Now that he was seventh level Spiritsource, Li Tianming was confident that he was unrivalled below Unity. Even without Jiang Feiling, he could probably challenge someone in Unity.
But against Lin Xiaoting, will this be enough? He has the Saintbeast War-Soul, and probably knows unity-ranked battle arts too, so it’s not guaranteed that I will win. The battle with Lin Xiaoting was one that Li Tianming wouldn’t take any risk for. He only had one chance, after all. Therefore, his goal remained the same. He would continue to practise Demise of Heaven while trying to make breakthroughs in his cultivation level.
There’s no other choice but to continue cultivating!
While he might be seventh level Spiritsource, the fact that he was a twin beastmaster and the nature of the infernalsource and the lightningsource made it such that he had the equivalent of nine spirit sources of normal beastmasters. Considering the terrifying natures of his beast ki, he was definitely beyond Spiritsource in terms of beast ki. If he could beat Wei Ziyu when he was just fifth level, what about now? Even if he was pitted against a Unity stage opponent with a unity field to boot, Li Tianming was still confident in winning.
Except Lin Xiaoting wasn’t any opponent. He was a genius at Unity, and was also a twin beastmaster. Against him, Li Tianming knew he needed to be even stronger.
Mu Yang had been helping him to keep track of the situation at the Lightning Manor. Yueling Ji was still on her final stretch towards Unity, so they hadn't left yet. She wasn’t the only one making improvements, and they could never imagine how much Li Tianming had improved.
Lin Xiaoting would never see it coming.
After all, the latest intel anyone had was that Li Tianming alone was just enough to defeat Wei Ziyu. Therefore, the Lightning Manor believed that they had secured the victory for the younger generations, but was that really the case?
The eleventh day came, and as expected, the bane-rings stopped appearing. These ten rings had already maximised Li Tianming’s potential at cultivating, with even Mu Yang treating him as a real ‘monster’ for cultivation!
“Today, we start on Demise of Heaven and its three stances,” Mu Yang said. "Divine-Fury, Heavenly-Judgement and Apocalyptic-Will."