Chapter 45: The Sect’s Mission

Just like that, a month’s time passed by without any hitch.

Ever since that day when Qin Lingyu left Jun Xiaomo’s abode in a huff, Jun Xiaomo had not seen Qin Lingyu again. But as she thought more about this, this was also to be expected – given Qin Lingyu’s haughty and arrogant personality, no matter how much he coveted those two fifth-grade Energy Rejuvenation Pills, his pride would never allow him to stoop so low to capitulate and attempt to appease Jun Xiaomo. In any event, Jun Xiaomo did not mind his absence from her life. In fact, she could not care less about where Qin Lingyu went, as long as he did not show up in front of her.

Apart from this, there was another thing that thoroughly pleased Jun Xiaomo – that is, she could vaguely feel that she was on the brink of breaking through the first level of Qi Mastery, into the second level of the Qi Mastery.

If this were in the past, Jun Xiaomo would not have celebrated such a small increase in her cultivation level – to most talented cultivators, breaking through the first level of Qi Mastery and attaining the second level of Qi Mastery was not a difficult thing. But ever since Jun Xiaomo started cultivating with her Nineform Spirituo-Demonic Refinement Technique, she already found it a difficult thing to increase her true energy transformation efficacy, much less qualitative increase in her own cultivation level.

Therefore, it came as a pleasant surprise when Jun Xiaomo discovered that she was already on the brink of a breakthrough within only approximately two months of cultivation. After all, she had thought that with her prevailing true energy transformation speeds, she would require more than half a years’ time before she would be able to attain the second level of Qi Mastery.

At this moment, Jun Xiaomo formed a few hand seals as she thought to test her own abilities with a fire spell. Instantly, a ball of flame formed out of nowhere on her palm, warming the surroundings with its fervent blaze.

The ball of flame was not large, but it danced in Jun Xiaomo’s palm very stably. As Jun Xiaomo continued to recite in her heart the mnemonic for the transformation of her true energy into spiritual energy, the continuous flow of converted spiritual energy fueled this spell of hers.

Jun Xiaomo’s spiritual root was fire-based, and naturally fire-type spells were much more effective in her hands. Right now, Jun Xiaomo’s fire spells were still rather weak because her cultivation levels were still low. However, once Jun Xiaomo’s cultivation reaches the Nascent Soul cultivation stage, even basic spells would turn out to be incredibly powerful.

The amount of true energy within Jun Xiaomo’s body was not much to begin with. Thus, as the ball of flame in her palm gradually simmered down until it finally sizzled out, the well of true energy in her body had also become completely dry.

“It’s still not enough. It still can’t match up to the true energy transformation rate during combat.” Jun Xiaomo puffed her cheeks in frustration.

In the Qi Mastery phase of cultivation, Jun Xiaomo had to absorb the surrounding spiritual energy or demonic energy and convert them into true energy with one set of mnemonic; and then transform the true energy back into spiritual energy or demonic energy and disperse them, forming one complete “outer cycle”. These cycles would then achieve the same effects as the outer cycles of regular spiritual cultivators. Through the process of creating these outer cycles, Jun Xiaomo’s meridians and Dantian would be gradually tempered and refined. And in turn, the accumulation of these quantitative changes would at each breaking point cause a qualitative change to her body, thereby ascending to the next corresponding level in Qi Mastery.

However, the main difference between Jun Xiaomo’s cultivation method and that of other regular spiritual cultivators is that Jun Xiaomo could not simply sit and meditate; rather, she needed practical experiences in order to increase the efficiency of her true energy transformation for her outer cycles. This was also the part which gave Jun Xiaomo the most trouble.

Converting her true energy back to spiritual energy for the purposes of casting spells or making spirit talismans were considered a type of “practical experience” as well. However, the efficiency of this could hardly hold a candle to combat experiences. The main reason why Jun Xiaomo had arrived at the bottleneck of the first level of Qi Mastery in only one month had to do with the fact that she would recite the true energy transformation mnemonic in her heart as she practiced her sword arts with Ye Xiuwen.

If Ye Xiuwen could continue to stay in the Sect and practice with her, then Jun Xiaomo might even be able to attain the fourth level of Qi Mastery within one year! Unfortunately, Ye Xiuwen was soon about to leave the Sect. Faced with the absence of her sparring partner, Jun Xiaomo felt that the fourth level of Qi Mastery was still quite a distance away.

It must be said that the higher a person’s cultivation level, the harder it gets to increase his cultivation level further – improving from the first to the second level of Qi Mastery was only an appetizer on the full course meal of one’s cultivation path. For instance, if a person took two months to improve from the first to the second level of Qi Mastery, then all things being equal, it would take that person four months to improve from the second to the third level of Qi Mastery; six months to improve from the third to the fourth level of Qi Mastery, and so on and so forth.

At the same time, if one adjusts the method and conditions of his cultivations, then the required time to attain the next level of cultivation would also change accordingly.

Jun Xiaomo felt that her present cultivation speed was way too slow. As things stood right now, she could not even be certain of attaining the ninth level of Qi Mastery within the stipulated three years’ time. Furthermore, once Ye Xiuwen leaves Dawn Sect, her cultivation speed would fall, and she would be even further away from her goals.

“Sigh…this is terrible. How could my plans coincide with martial brother Ye’s travels so unfortunately?” Jun Xiaomo languished in her current “tragedy”.

At the same time, she knew she could not prevent Ye Xiuwen from travelling out of the Sect on his mission, because the experience he gained from these travels would be the cornerstone of the Foundation Establishment stage of cultivation. Therefore, the only thing she could do right now was to think of a way to follow Ye Xiuwen on his travels.

Yet no matter what she did, whether coaxing or pestering, making threats or promises, Ye Xiuwen stood his ground and flatly refused Jun Xiaomo. Liu Qingmei’s response was even worse. The moment she heard that her daughter had the intention to travel out of the Sect together with her husband’s First-Seat Disciple, Ye Xiuwen, she immediately stood up and slammed the table, glaring at her daughter as she said, “Not a chance! With your cultivation level, are you looking to be killed by others?!”

“Mum~ It won’t happen that way. Martial brother Ye will protect me. And besides, I’ve also got a lot of life-preserving treasures on me anyway~” Jun Xiaomo changed her tact and tried to convince Liu Qingmei.

“Then you’ll just be a burden on your martial brother Ye! Do you think that travelling out of the Sect is a very easy thing? Even though your martial brother Ye is at the peak twelfth level of Qi Mastery, there are many cultivators outside the Sect who have cultivation levels beyond that. If you encounter such cultivators, how will Xiuwen be able to look after you?” Liu Qingmei felt that her daughter was too naïve and innocent in the way she assessed the matter.

“But mum, I can’t improve my cultivation level by just meditating!” Jun Xiaomo had no choice but to reveal some of the truth to her mother. Jun Xiaomo scrunched up her face as she clung on to her mother’s arm, adding, “Mum, it’s only when I learn sword arts from martial brother Ye that my cultivation speeds would increase. Now that martial brother Ye is leaving the sect, who knows how long it will take me to reach the ninth level of Qi Mastery…”

“Nonsense. Just how do you think you managed to reach the eighth level of Qi Mastery in the past? Dear, mother knows that you are anxious to become stronger. But you cannot take any shortcuts if you want to be strong. You will have to be down to earth and diligent, understand? Be a good girl and cultivate in the Sect. Don’t inconvenience your martial brother anymore.” Liu Qingmei gently patted Jun Xiaomo’s head as she explained the situation to her warmly.

Liu Qingmei knew her daughter was determined to grow stronger, but she did not approve of her daughter’s “high risk, high rewards” mentality. Besides, her daughter was quite talented to begin with. If she cultivated patiently, attaining the twelfth level of Qi Mastery by the time she was forty-five years old was not a difficult thing. Even though this would mean missing out on reaching the Foundation Establishment stage at the ideal age, she would nevertheless be able to increase her lifespan and become insusceptible to things like falling ill, growing old and dying.

Sigh. With Jun Xiaomo’s initial cultivation speed, she would have been able to attain the twelfth level of Qi Mastery well before the age of thirty… Liu Qingmei lamented in her heart as she felt aggrieved for her own daughter.

When she saw her mother’s distressed look, Jun Xiaomo could no longer bring herself to continue discussing this issue any further.

She knew that discussing matters relating to her fall in cultivation level was a sore point for her mother. After all, a mother feels her child’s pain, and Liu Qingmei was no exception to this. She worried that her daughter’s cultivation level would never increase again; she worried that her daughter would be bullied by others; and most of all, she worried that there will be a day where she would not be able to look after Jun Xiaomo anymore.

The cultivation world was fraught with danger – much more than the deceitfully peaceful appearance it bore on the surface. Despite Liu Qingmei and Jun Linxuan being both at the Nascent Soul stage, and thereby substantially extending their lifespan, the vicissitudes of life in the cultivation world nevertheless rendered things extremely unpredictable. One could be perfectly fine one day, and yet meet with a calamity in the very next day. If that happened to them, the only regret she would have would be that she could no longer look after this daughter of hers.

Seeing her mother’s care and concern for her greatly warmed Jun Xiaomo’s heart, and she grew more determined to work hard and become stronger. She wanted to let Liu Qingmei know one day that she was equally able to shelter her loved ones, including her parents, under her wings.

Jun Xiaomo saw her mother out to the yard as the deeply distressed Liu Qingmei took her leave. Then, after she returned to her own room, she brooded about these matters on her heart for an entire night.

Even though she knew Ye Xiuwen and Liu Qingmei’s concerns, Jun Xiaomo was nevertheless determined to travel out of the Sect with Ye Xiuwen.

Since her mother and martial brother were both disapproving of her suggestions, she had no choice but to resort to more “creative” solutions. As she planned her next steps, Jun Xiaomo’s eyes formed a squinch; and her eyes flashed with a trace of mischief and pleasure.

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The time for Ye Xiuwen’s departure from the Sect had finally arrived. Today, Ye Xiuwen, Qin Lingyu and others had all been summoned into the Sect’s Great Hall so that Sect Leader He Zhang could brief them on the details of their respective missions.

There were three disciples in the Sect who had attained the peak twelfth level of Qi Mastery and ready to travel out of the Sect on their missions, namely Ye Xiuwen, Qin Lingyu and Ke Xinwen. Apart from Ke Xinwen who had attained the peak twelfth level of Qi Mastery two years ago but had not been able to break through to the Foundation Establishment stage, both Ye Xiuwen and Qin Lingyu had only attained the twelfth level of Qi Mastery this year.

He Zhang gave an introductory speech to honour all who were present, and then he moved over to the three disciples and presented them with their options.

Travelling out of the Sect for the Sect’s mission brought various benefits. Apart from the experience and opportunity to break through to the Foundation Establishment stage, disciples would also be given rewards for completing their missions. These rewards are often highly generous – not only would one be able to obtain valuable, high-quality spirit pills and medicine, the disciples were sometimes even rewarded with magical weapons or equipment commensurate to the difficulty of the mission they had completed.

It must be said that if a cultivator were able to obtain a magical weapon that suited him or her, then that would be tantamount to having an additional helper beside him. This would greatly increase a cultivator’s combat abilities and overall prowess. This difference was particularly obvious in the Mid-Tier Inter-Sect Competitions, where disciples of different Sects duked it out for fame and glory. Disciples who wielded suitable magical weapons in this competition would invariably perform at a different level than those who fought bare-handed.

The Sect’s missions were divided into three levels of difficulties, namely easy, normal and hard missions. Generally speaking, the easy missions would always be undertaken by the normal disciples of the Sect; and then once they had attained the twelfth level of Qi Mastery, they would normally pick the normal missions. 

But without any hesitation at all, both Ye Xiuwen and Qin Lingyu picked the hard missions, leaving Ke Xinwen with no choice but to clench his teeth and pick the hard mission as well.

In the two previous years when he had left the Sect for these missions, he had also picked the hard missions. But not only did he fail both hard missions he had chosen, he also failed to break through to the Foundation Establishment stage in his travels.

If Ye Xiuwen and Qin Lingyu were not present today, Ke Xinwen might well have chosen the normal missions instead. After all, failing yet another mission was not going to be good for his reputation. But now, under the gaze of all the other martial brothers and sisters around, he could no longer afford to pick the normal missions after Ye Xiuwen and Qin Lingyu had picked the hard ones. His only wish was that his hard mission was not going to be too difficult.

The Sect would usually have on hand a few different missions at each level of difficulty in order to prevent any internal conflict or disputes from arising. This way, the disciples travelling out of the Sect would have no reason to interfere with each other’s missions, and they could wholeheartedly focus on their own tasks at hand.

Additionally, for the sake of impartiality, the disciples would each draw lots to determine their own missions after they had selected their mission difficulty. Ye Xiuwen drew first, and he picked out a lot which said “Travel to the Mystic Woods and pick out ten Basilisk Fruits”.

The Mystic Woods were not far from the Dawn Sect, and it was possible to arrive there by foot in approximately three months’ time. However, the difficulty came from the Basilisk Fruits that he had to pick. These fruits grew incredibly far apart – one could often only find one thicket of the Basilisk Fruit Shrub within a radius of a few hundred miles. Furthermore, it was common to find several small spirit animals near these Basilisk Fruits Shrubs. Even though their individual attacks were not too strong, their threat was in their numbers. Faced with wave after wave of attacks from these small spirit animals and the Basilisk Fruit Shrub’s attacks at the same time, even a cultivator at the twelfth level of Qi Mastery might not escape unscathed.

If obtaining one Basilisk Fruit was already such a difficult thing, then how much more difficult would obtaining ten fruits be? No wonder it was classified as a hard mission.

As Ye Xiuwen calmly kept the lot he drew, Ke Xinwen, who stood on his side, spoke, “I didn’t think that martial brother Ye would also be going to the Mystic Woods. Seems like the three of us are fated to travel together.”

Ye Xiuwen looked towards the direction of Ke Xinwen’s voice, and he discovered Qin Lingyu was standing just beside Ke Xinwen and looking calmly at Ye Xiuwen himself.

From what it seems, the three disciples at the twelfth level of Qi Mastery are all to carry out their missions at the Mystic Woods.

At this moment, Ye Xiuwen was reminded of Jun Xiaomo’s word of caution to him – Be careful of the He Zhang and Qin Lingyu duo.

Did all these occur out of pure coincidence…or did someone have a hand in arranging these missions?

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