Chapter 563: What it Means to Court Disaster

Pei Mianman quickly ran over to him, and was shocked by the scene that greeted her eyes. “So this is the power of the Heaven-Devouring Sutra?”

She knew that Zu An had obtained a secret manual from the dungeon, but she had not seen him use it yet. As expected, it was ridiculously powerful.

“Yup.” Zu An nodded. A ball of fire appeared within his palm. He was going to burn Mosquito Daoist’s corpse. The thing really seemed disgusting.

Pei Mianman guessed what he was thinking, and said, “I think her corpse still has some uses. She sucked away all of Sang Qian’s blood essence, drawing the great ire of the Sang Clan. If you hand her corpse over to the Sang Clan, you can forge a friendly relationship with them. Perhaps they might even turn a blind eye to you stealing their daughter-in-law.”

She had already deduced his relationship with Zheng Dan after fighting alongside them.

Zu An eyed her sideways.

“What do you mean, ‘stealing’? We just get along well, okay?”

“Of course, of course,” Pei Mianman said with a smile. “You get along really, really well with someone else’s widow.”

Zu An decided that it would be pointless to defend himself.

Even though he wasn’t too happy about it, he still stored Mosquito Daoist’s corpse into the Brilliant Glass Bead.

“One other thing. I think it’s better if you don’t reveal your new technique to others. Personal cultivation is the most important thing to cultivators, since they only acquire it through bitter training. If you reveal that you can absorb their cultivation so easily, every single one would call you a devil and turn on you.” Pei Mianman’s warning was a serious one. Mosquito Daoist was so notorious precisely because everyone feared her ability to suck out blood essence.

Zu An nodded. “I won’t.”

This was common sense to him. The ‘Star Devouring Art’, the ‘Darknorth Technique’... which one of these weren’t despised by the general populace?

Pei Mianman was relieved to hear this. “What is your cultivation rank now? Why can’t I tell?”

Zu An was stunned. He quickly examined himself. What he saw left him stupefied.

The formations within his body lit up one after another, almost blinding him with their brilliance.

One, two, three, four…

Earlier on, when he examined himself, only the fifth formation of the fifth rank was filled. Now, all of his fifth rank formations were lit up!

All of his bones seemed to sparkle like polished jade. Even without anyone telling him so, he could sense that his bones were far stronger than an ordinary person’s.

This was the result of reaching the pinnacle of the fifth rank—tempering one’s bones.

He saw that a new set of formations had appeared on his bones. From what he learned about cultivation in the academy, this was probably bone marrow cultivation.

He slowly counted the formations. There were nine, and all nine were already lit up!

He had reached the peak of sixth rank!

All of his bones were surging with seemingly-endless amounts of life force.

Zu An was stunned. Did he just jump straight to the sixth rank?

Reaching the fifth rank at his age already made him a cultivation genius, even within Brightmoon City. Those with cultivation aptitudes like Chu Chuyan or Pei Mianman had spent bitter years cultivating since childhood. Their clans provided them a nearly endless supply of cultivation resources for them, and it was considered incredible for them just to barely reach this level. What the hell was he, then?

He thought back to what the academy had taught him about cultivation. Sixth rank cultivators could surround themselves in elemental armor, making it nearly impossible for lower rank cultivators to face them.

He had not awakened an element yet, so he couldn’t use elemental armor. Now that he could borrow Daji’s fire element, though, it was easy enough to surround himself in a shield of flames.

After testing out the defensive strength of his armor, he immediately became grateful that he had the Tai’e Sword and Poisonous Prick. Without their strange ability to cut straight through these elemental armors, he wouldn’t have had any chance of defeating the experts he had faced in the past.

The Tai’e Sword and Poisonous Prick were probably exactly like ki penetrating weapons in wuxia novels.

He sensed that the powerful wave of ki that he had absorbed was not yet spent. After refining his bone marrow, it began to temper his blood.

Nine vague formations could be seen within his blood vessels.

The leftover ki filled three of these formations before finally stopping.

Cultivators who reach the seventh rank could replenish their own blood at any time. Even if they suffered horrendous injuries, as long as the damage was not irreversible, and they were given enough time, they could eventually make a complete recovery.

Zu An tested this out as well, but noticed that the speed of recovery was much less than what the Primordial Origin Sutra afforded him. It wasn’t that useful to him at all.

Of course, he knew that he only thought of it like that because of the Primordial Origin Sutra. For other cultivators, this ability to recover quickly was absolutely vital.

Against cultivators of lower cultivation, any damage taken could be repaired through passive healing.

Against experts, it was almost impossible to avoid injuries. The ability to recover quickly was equivalent to a second life.

Zu An felt rather dazed. He had just managed to jump two whole ranks.

“Seventh rank?” Pei Mianman couldn’t help but chuckle when she heard what he said. “Seven ranks of cultivation is enough to make you a city lord. This is ignoring the fact that you are still so young.”

Which woman didn’t want their lover to be outstanding? The more formidable he became, the happier she was.

“But…” She frowned. She walked around him and continued to examine his body. “You seem different from other seventh rank cultivators.”

Zu An was confused. “How so?”

Pei Mianman pursed her lips. “It’s hard to say. I’ve seen quite a few seventh rank cultivators, so I could roughly sense their cultivation. You should be at the third step of the seventh rank, so I should be able to sense it too. But I can’t seem to sense your cultivation at all.”

Zu An didn’t know what was going on either. He hadn’t been cultivating very long, so there was no way he could compare to Pei Mianman, who had been born into a great clan, when it came to this matter.

“There’s something stranger.” Pei Mianman said. “Mosquito Daoist should have already reached the master rank. Why did you only increase two ranks after absorbing her cultivation?”

“Is increasing two ranks considered little?” Zu An was stunned. After all, every single formation of his required a ridiculous amount of Ki Fruits to fill. Now that he reached the seventh rank, the requirements were even crazier. He was already overjoyed by his sudden progress.

“Of course it’s not a lot! Mosquito Daoist was at the master rank, and might have been just outside grandmaster rank as well. Her cultivation was incredibly formidable, yet absorbing all of it only gave you two ranks. Could it be that too much of it was lost in the transfer?” Pei Mianman was rather confused as well.

“Perhaps.” Zu An had spent some time studying physics in his previous world. He knew that a large portion of energy was wasted during conversion. There was no way he could have absorbed all of Mosquito Daoist’s cultivation.

Pei Mianman stared at him for a long time before saying, “There might be another possibility.”

Zu An was confused, but she continued, “For you, the third step of the seventh rank may be different compared to ordinary cultivators. It might be much more formidable than theirs. Whether against Cash Warrior or Mosquito Daoist, your cultivation was clearly beneath mine, yet the threat you posed was greater. Furthermore, you showed no sign of ki exhaustion. Your combat strength doesn’t match your rank at all. This is probably an amazing effect of the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra.”

“Ki exhaustion?” Zu An looked at her quizzically.

“Mmhmm.” Pei Mianman had a strange look on her face. “Even though those at the eighth rank can harmonize with the world, they can only forge a momentary connection. It cannot be sustained forever. Only those who reach the master rank can link with heaven and earth at any time, and gain an endless source of ki. Those at their level don’t have to worry about ki exhaustion.

“For cultivators like us, no matter how strong we are, once our ki is used up, we won’t have much fighting strength anymore. However, you don’t seem to face this issue, nor have I seen you eat any medicine to replenish your ki.”

Zu An finally understood. She was talking about mana regeneration, or recovering internal strength in the worlds of wuxia novels.

However, he had never experienced any sign of ki decline, despite the difficult battles that he’d fought so far.

“You’ve only realized this now?” snorted Mi Li from within his mind.

Zu An was instantly delighted. “Big sis empress, you’re awake!”

“Hmph, you were making so much noise with that damn mosquito earlier. How could I continue sleeping? You’ve never used that Heaven-Devouring Sutra before, so I did not expect you to defeat her. Good thing you have a pretty sound head on your shoulders.” Mi Li’s voice carried quite a bit of praise.

“But of course!” Zu An said, self-satisfied. “Right, you were saying that I don’t face the problem of ki exhaustion. Why?”

Mi Li replied, “Two reasons. Firstly, apart from repairing your body’s injuries, the Primordial Origin Sutra also replenishes ki. Your Phoenix Nirvana Sutra also stores a large reservoir of ki within your body, one so large that it’s hard even for you to use all of it up. Why else do you think it’s so hard to cultivate using the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra? It’s because every single rank requires several times the ki when compared to an ordinary cultivator.”

Zu An now understood why he was able to bring Daji to the peak of the fourth rank with just 700 ki fruits, but for him, that number was hardly worth mentioning.

Mi Li sighed. “Legend has it that immortality is possible once the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra is cultivated to its mastery. After living tens of thousands of years, even the most powerful cultivators can only add years to their lives. That isn’t true immortality. It only makes sense for the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra to be so hard to cultivate. Ordinarily, it would  require a crazy amount of ki, and successfully cultivating it shouldn’t even be possible.

“Yet a stupid brat like you keeps finding lucky breaks over and over again. Who knows, you might actually succeed and achieve immortality.”

Zu An was confused. “Didn’t you live for ten thousand years too? Isn’t that immortality?”

“It isn’t,” Mi Li replied. “My situation is different. I was sealed in an underground mausoleum, which, surprisingly enough, had its own benefits. Time flowed extremely slowly under the seal, which is why, even though I seem to have lived for ten thousand years in your eyes, I didn’t actually experience that much time myself. In a sense, it only felt like a deep sleep.”

Zu An was overjoyed by this. “I thought that you might be some ten thousand-year-old hag. I never expected that you’d have the mental age of a teenager. Come and greet this big brother!”

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