Chapter 22: Yet Another Troublemaker

Jun Xiaomo slowly adjusted her breathing, stopped absorbing the surrounding spiritual energy and released her meditative state.

As Jun Xiaomo opened her eyes again, she could feel the viscous true energy within her body flowing about. Jun Xiaomo’s lips curled up into a faint smile. 

Things had proceeded much smoother than she had thought. This refinement technique seemed to be extremely difficult, and she worried that it would have taken her several attempts to be able to begin congealing true energy. Unexpectedly, she succeeded on the first attempt, and without much difficulty at all!

One part of true energy equaled two parts of spiritual energy or two parts of demonic energy. That is to say, the amount of spiritual energy or demonic energy within Jun Xiaomo’s body right now was exactly twofold of the original amount!

If one described Jun Xiaomo’s meridians and Dantian as a form of container, and assuming this container was fixed in size, then the energy within her body can be said to have been compressed, therefore increasing the total amount of energy that could be stored in her body.

This would be very advantageous to Jun Xiaomo, especially on the battlefield. If she faced off with an opponent of the same cultivation level and with similar abilities to her, then the mere fact that her body contained more spiritual energy or demonic energy could be the determining factor between life and death.

“It seems that the Nineform Spirituo-Demonic Refinement Technique is not that difficult to cultivate after all!” Jun Xiaomo commented to herself. Recalling the fact that the title page of this technique’s manuscript even contained a warning which said “Warning: Extremely Difficult Technique”, Jun Xiaomo even chuckled to herself, thinking that there might have been some exaggeration there.

At that moment, Jun Xiaomo wanted to see if the effective doubling of her spiritual energy source would have any positive effects on her offensive arts or spells. Therefore, she made some hand seals and attempted to cast a spell that cultivators at the first level of Qi Mastery could use, Flame. To her surprise, not a single spark was emitted.

“What’s going on?!”

Jun Xiaomo attempted this a few more times, and to her horror, all of them had failed!

Could it be that this cultivation technique would cause my sorcery success rate to fall? Then that would be a huge drawback! Why didn’t the author of this technique mention this?! Jun Xiaomo thought in bewilderment, before hurriedly closing her eyes again.

Slowly, an image of that manuscript once again formed in her mind, and page by page, she painstakingly traversed the contents of the whole manuscript.

Having a lifetime worth of experiences behind her, Jun Xiaomo’s soul had already been tempered to immeasurable heights, and her mental prowess were also exceedingly strong. Once a person attains a certain level of mental prowess, they would also gain an eidetic memory, never again forgetting a single detail or instance in their lives.

Therefore, Jun Xiaomo could “refer” to this book at any time she wished.

“That’s how it is…”

Jun Xiaomo found the crux of the problem – true energy cannot be used for battle at all. This energy would first need to be converted back into spiritual or demonic energy before one could then cast a spell, control spirit swords, or power a formation array.

Furthermore, the Qi cultivation aspect of the Nineform Spirituo-Demonic Refinement Technique was different from other refinement techniques.

In her previous life, regardless of whether Jun Xiaomo was a spiritual cultivator or a demonic cultivator, when she was in the Qi Mastery period, she would enter a meditative state, and then in accordance with the cultivation method circulate the spiritual energy or demonic energy between the surroundings and her body. In this process, the energy that is absorbed by her body would not stably remain within her body, but they would spontaneously disperse into the surrounding air, creating an interaction between the cultivator and the surroundings called the “outer cycle”.

Under the influence of this outer cycle, the cultivator’s body would be gradually tempered. The accumulation of these quantitative changes would at each breaking point cause a qualitative change in the body, thereby achieving the next level in Qi Mastery. This was the basis for establishing a strong foundation in preparation for the Foundation Establishment stage of cultivation.

However, ever since practicing the Nineform Spirituo-Demonic Refinement Technique, the true energy accumulated within her Dantian and meridians would not spontaneously disperse into the environment. Instead, they now required an external force in order to create a similar “outer cycle”.

This external force was precisely the mnemonic which would allow the cultivator to turn true energy back into either spiritual energy or demonic energy. Furthermore, the mnemonic for turning true energy into spiritual energy was different from the mnemonic for turning true energy into demonic energy – this was so that cultivators could adjust according to the situation and do what was necessary.

“Fill one’s meridians and Dantian with true energy – this forms the infusion cycle. Then convert all true energy back into demonic or spiritual energy and disperse them – this forms the diffusion cycle. Combine both cycles together – this forms one complete outer cycle. Only by achieving the complete outer cycle can one realize the effects of tempering one’s body.”

Jun Xiaomo silently recited this passage within the Nineform Spirituo-Demonic Refinement Technique, and then slowly knit her brows together.

After some time, she gently sighed and softly spoke, “As expected. A Heavenly Art that spans the nine stages of cultivation cannot be easy to cultivate after all. It is much more complicated than a normal cultivation technique.”

Earlier, she had only completed the part about filling her meridians and Dantian with true energy, or the infusion cycle. Then, there was the diffusion cycle which required her to disperse that energy within her body. She has not done so, and therefore it cannot be said that she has completed the process explained by the manuscript.

Jun Xiaomo crossed her legs and closed her eyes once again. Because she was still in the Sect’s premises, she could not brazenly cultivate her demonic energies. Therefore, she chose to recite the mnemonic for converting true energy back into spiritual energy.

One incense stick of time passed…two incense sticks of time passed…three incense sticks of time passed…two hours passed…

What’s going on? Why has there been no movement at all?! Jun Xiaomo released her meditative state once again, and she was completely flabbergasted by the current progress.

The true energy was smoothly and stably flowing within her meridians and Dantian, yet none of them were being converted to spiritual energy and being diffused into the surrounding air.

Could I have used a wrong mnemonic? I’ll check again. Jun Xiaomo closed both of her eyes and adjusted her thoughts again.

There’s nothing wrong with it. Jun Xiaomo furrowed her brows intensely, not knowing where the problem lay.

If the true energy within her body could not even be converted to spiritual energy or demonic energy, then she would be forever stuck in the first level of Qi Mastery, and she would be no more than a “crippled” in the cultivation world!

No, this cannot be! Since spiritual energy and demonic energy can be converted into true energy, then how come true energy cannot be converted back into spiritual or demonic energy? It definitely can! Jun Xiaomo silently encouraged herself.

Who would have thought that converting spiritual energy or demonic energy to true energy was so easy, yet it was so difficult to transform true energy back the other way?

Jun Xiaomo decided to try again.

Yet another two hours passed, and Jun Xiaomo could finally clearly identify that the bloatedness accompanying her completely full Dantian and meridians had dissipated by a fair amount. This was proof that the mnemonic was not deficient, and some true energy had indeed been transformed into spiritual energy and dispersed.

However, this level of efficiency was far too low! Almost two hours’ worth of conversion, and the amount of true energy converted was not even ten-thousandth of the total amount stored in her body!

But at this moment, Jun Xiaomo had no better solution in mind, and she could only grit her teeth and press on with bitter perseverance.

As the sun rose and brilliantly illuminated the earth, Jun Xiaomo who had arduously cultivated for the whole night finally felt a wave of weariness wash over her.

She concluded her cultivation and released her meditative state, and then sat there with her eyes closed, completely still.

From the time she had commenced the reversion of true energy to now, almost ten whole hours had passed. However, from her estimates, the amount of true energy that had been converted to spiritual energy and dispersed was not even one-thousandth of the total amount within her body!

With this level of efficiency, how long would she have to cultivate in order to complete one outer cycle? And how many of these outer cycles would she require in order to improve from the first level of Qi Mastery to the second level of Qi Mastery?

Given the current progress, there was no need to even consider achieving the ninth level of Qi Mastery.

Just yesterday, she had even confidently told herself that she would achieve the ninth level of Qi Mastery within three years’ time, and then abolish the marriage agreement between her and Qin Lingyu. 

In the end, she has practically given herself a tight slap on the face – she had selected an extremely difficult cultivation art, only to have stymied her own cultivation progress. One could only say that she was now caught between a rock and a hard place.

Jun Xiaomo smacked her forehead and laughed in a self-deprecating manner.

I really shouldn’t have been so full of myself. It would’ve been great if I had simply insisted on not marrying Qin Lingyu. But now, I’m not even sure if I will be able to fulfill the condition I’ve set…

Feeling depressed, Jun Xiaomo decided to go out for a walk. She wanted to experience once again the sights and sounds within the Sect, while simultaneously letting off some steam from her frustrations in her cultivation.

Therefore, Jun Xiaomo wandered around the Sect aimlessly. Very soon, even she was unsure where exactly she had stumbled to.  

“Yo~ I was wondering who it was dressed in such dazzling red clothing. Who would’ve thought it was actually Jun Xiaomo, daughter of the Heavenly Peak Peakmaster, hmm?” An annoying voice called out just beside Jun Xiaomo, causing her to reflexively look in the direction of that voice.

“Dai Yue?” Jun Xiaomo belatedly recognized the owner of the voice.

“Yuh-uh~ What’s the matter? We’ve not seen in other for only a short while and you’ve already developed amnesia? Makes sense though – a person punished for trespassing the Sect’s forbidden grounds, before suffering a fall in cultivation level cannot possibly be a very smart person after all.” Dai Yue mocked, raising her head and staring at Jun Xiaomo out of the corner of her eye. She obviously despised Jun Xiaomo.

Jun Xiaomo could not really be blamed for forgetting Dai Yue either. In her previous life, the last time she saw Dai Yue would have been over sixty years ago. How could she possibly recall who this person is in such a short amount of time?

But once she recognized Dai Yue, the related memories also came flooding to her mind.

“Dai Yue, aren’t you a disciple of the Everlasting Summit Sect? What are you doing in Dawn Sect?” Jun Xiaomo asked indifferently.

The Everlasting Summit Sect was quite comparable to the Dawn Sect. In terms of strength, both numbered among the top ten of the mid-tier sects. Since time immemorial, both sects have had a deep history of rivalry and conflict with each other. Yet at the same time this ongoing rivalry and conflict had been a constant source of motivation for sharpening the disciples of both sects. 

Dai Yue was annoyed when she heard the indifference in Jun Xiaomo’s voice. She proudly raised her chin even more, saying incisively, “Jun Xiaomo, do you still remember our five-year wager?”

“Five-year wager?”

“Yeah. Three years ago, we both set our sights upon Brother Lingyu. Back then, we agreed that we would both compete against each other in the upcoming Mid-Tier Inter-Sect Competition, and whoever triumphed there would be entitled to pursue Brother Lingyu. You haven’t forgotten about this, have you?”

Jun Xiaomo was momentarily stunned by Dai Yue’s words. After all, Jun Xiaomo had of her own volition chosen to forget as many matters concerning Qin Lingyu as possible. It was only when Dai Yue had reminded her about these matters that she vaguely started to recall such a “five-year wager”.

But Jun Xiaomo’s shock was written all over her face, and Dai Yue noticed it. Furious, she pointed directly at Jun Xiaomo’s nose and berated, “I knew you’d forgotten about this! Ah, we even agreed to a fair competition then! But now? You’ve ignored our promise and entered into a marriage arrangement with Qin Lingyu! You absolutely can’t be trusted at all! You deserve to have your cultivation fall to the first level!”

It would have been fine if Dai Yue had not mentioned the marriage arrangement. However, now that she had mentioned the marriage arrangement, Jun Xiaomo could not help but feel a swathe of rage and frustration lodged in her chest.

“It was Qin Lingyu who proposed to me. What has that got to do with me?” Jun Xiaomo coldly refuted Dai Yue. This statement cut straight to Dai Yue’s heart, causing waves of bitterness to emanate from her chest.

Jun Xiaomo’s statement here could not be considered a lie either. Qin Lingyu had indeed proposed to her. As for the back-story to that proposal, Jun Xiaomo could not be bothered to remind this jealousy-driven lady of its details.

“Impossible!” Dai Yue retorted angrily, “You must’ve broken your promise and harassed Brother Lingyu so much that he only agreed to the marriage arrangement to get you off his back!”

“You’re free to believe what you want.” Jun Xiaomo truly wanted to wash her hands off anything related to Qin Lingyu. She did not wish to waste time chatting with Dai Yue over things that she could not be bothered about. Therefore, after curtly responding to Dai Yue, Jun Xiaomo brushed her sleeves and prepared to leave.

As for what a disciple of the Everlasting Summit Sect was doing at the Dawn Sect, this was a trifle that did not matter to her. It was none of her business anyway.

“Hold it right there!” Dai Yue barked at Jun Xiaomo. She was furious that Jun Xiaomo was leaving right after hitting the nail on the head.

Yet, Jun Xiaomo ignored her completely and continued on her way without even turning back.

“You’re a despicable person, Jun Xiaomo!” Dai Yue was an ill-tempered person. She gritted her teeth as the festering hatred within her grew to its boiling point. Then, Dai Yue’s eyes momentarily flashed red with rage, she bellowed, “Jun Xiaomo, go to hell!” As she said that, she fiercely pulled out the belt around her waist, charged forward and viciously struck out at Jun Xiaomo!

Jun Xiaomo heard every single word that Dai Yue shouted. She tried to avoid the blow, but her movements were sluggish because she was unable to tap on the true energy within her body. Instantly, a cracking sound rang out – Dai Yue had viciously struck Jun Xiaomo’s back. Jun Xiaomo only felt a wave of intense pain emanate from her back before she was sent flying away like a kite with a broken string, landing heavily on the ground a distance away. 

“Pu—” Jun Xiaomo immediately spat out a mouthful of blood, dyeing the ground in front of her crimson-red in colour.

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