On the wasteland, a meter-long lizard stuck its head out from a heavily eroded rock and looked around, preparing for the day’s hunt.
But just as it crawled out several meters from its nest, a yellow monster about three meters long suddenly leaped out from the sandy soil. It used its two front claws and mouth, pouncing at the lizard and easily breaking its neck. Holding the corpse in its mouth, it then hurriedly rushed forth in some direction.
This strange beast had four claws and a long pointed tail. It appeared to be a huge lizard but its entire body was extremely hard. As it ran, it made creaking noises; it was actually a mechanical figurine.
When this strange animal ran about half a kilometer, it reached a yellow-robed man sitting in meditation on a flat rock. Then it tossed the dead lizard next to this man’s side and ran off.
This yellow-robed man wasn’t surprised in the slightest. His expression remained unwavered.
He calmly moved his hand. The dead lizard at his side slowly flew up several feet in the air before stopping.
Then this yellow-robed man extended his forefinger to the lizard’s head and muttered something.
Not long after, a faint white light slowly emitted from his extended forefinger.
As he continued his incantation, the white light grew increasingly bright until it became blinding.
Seeing that the crucial moment had not yet passed, yellow-robed man yelled this in a low voice.
The white light on his forefinger shot out a white thread that entered the deepest part of the lizard’s skull. Then the yellow-robed man strenuously pulled back at the thread. His expression was solemn as he exercised extremely caution.
Eventually, under the yellow-robed man’s careful gaze, the white thread pulled out a green sphere of light from the lizard’s corpse. It was light as a feather, only as large as his thumb.
When the yellow-robed man saw this, he beamed as if he had acquired a rare treasure.
A light flashed from his other hand, revealing a small light yellow jade bottle. Poof. Streaks of multicolored lights shot from the bottle, sweeping the green ball of light into the bottle.
At this moment, the yellow-robed man let out a deep breath as if he were relieved of a burden, wiping a thin layer of sweat from his forehead. It could clearly be seen that his previous action had expended no small amount of energy.
“This soul extraction technique truly isn’t something an early Foundation Establishment cultivator is easily capable of using. The probability of success is far too low. There is only one success for every three or four attempts. It seems I’ll have to spend the whole day here.” The yellow-robed man looked at the small jade bottle in his hand and muttered to himself. His face wore a slight expression of helplessness.
This man was Han Li, who was currently practicing the “Great Development Technique”.
The reason why he appeared at this barren area, about fifty kilometers away from the spirit stone mine, was because he wanted to gather animal souls. This was normally something that only people of the Devilish Dao would do. The reason as to why Han Li was currently doing this was because he was studying the “Puppet Sutras”.
Originally, after he studied the initial step of the puppet refinement technique, Han Li discovered that puppet refinement not only required the normal materials used to refine magic tools, but it also required the souls of living creatures. Otherwise, if it were refined without a soul, it wouldn’t have any spiritual properties and would fundamentally be the same as a common figurine.
The greater the grade of the puppet, the greater the soul it contained. Only as such would the puppet’s efficacy be displayed. For this reason, at the end of the 《Puppet Sutras》, it included three techniques commonly used by those of the Devilish Dao: “Soul Extraction Technique”, “Soul Concentration Technique”, and “Soul Refinement Technique”.
This “Soul Extraction Technique” was the magic technique that Han Li had used to extract the soul from the dead lizard.
Not only was the power of this magic technique weak, but its rate of success was also low. Furthermore, it could only be used on corpses that had recently died. Compared to the secret techniques of the Devilish Dao that specialized in dealing with souls, it could be said the difference in power was far too great!
However, the sole benefit of this magic technique was that it required an extremely lower amount of magic power. Mid Foundation Establishment cultivators would be able to frequently use it. Naturally, an early Foundation Establishment cultivator such as Han Li could also use it with difficulty, but the rate of success wouldn’t be particularly high.
The “Soul Concentration Technique” was a magic technique that condensed souls. After all, powerful souls weren’t easily found. Normally, high-grade puppets would use artificially strengthened souls that were refined from combining several, tens, or even several tens of weak souls. Although these kinds of souls weren’t as good as innately strong souls, they were far stronger than using low-grade souls. Thus, this magic technique was a required technique to learn puppet refinement.
The last was “Soul Refinement Technique”. As its name implies, it is a magic technique used to refine and transform souls. After all, souls had to be refined together with the puppet. Raw souls weren’t capable of being used. They must first undergo a particular method before they could be used for refinement.
As for that lizard-like mechanical beast from before, after Han Li refined his first independent thread of spiritual sense from the Great Development Technique, it was the first mechanical puppet he personally refined. As for the souls he used, they were yellow mice’s souls he conveniently acquired.
Before that happened, Han Li had already failed seven or eight times. His success rate was truly nothing to brag about.
But when Han Li sent his thread of separated consciousness into the puppet to control it, it felt incomparably wonderful! It felt far more responsive than operating magic tools, but it still wasn’t as genuine as moving one’s own limbs.
In reality, his thread of consciousness and this mechanical beast seemed to have the relationship of superior and subordinate. The puppet would act in accordance to any orders given through his thoughts. As for how the puppet specifically moved, the puppet would decide by itself. In addition, what the puppet was capable of seeing and hearing, Han Li was also able of clearly sensing it. This caused him to be greatly pleased.
The first time Han Li controlled a puppet, he felt a great childish and playful curiosity. Apart from the only elementary puppet beast he created, he also played around and operated a few higher grade mechanical puppets he had on hand. He got to fulfill his childhood dreams of playing with figurines.
As he controlled these puppets, Han Li gradually began to experience a few limitations of these puppets.
First, these puppets could only be controlled one and a half kilometers away from him. Any further from this distance and the mechanical puppet would be incapable of movement. Also, his thread of consciousness would return to him. Han Li guessed that this was the maximum distance his divided consciousness could be separated from his body. As his cultivation and primordial spirit improved, this limitation would also increase.
However, the next flaw was a deficiency of the puppet technique that he was unable to compensate for. When these puppets received their orders, there was a delay before they took action during which they were unable to move as they desired. In true combat, his opponent would very likely be able to take advantage of this flaw.
Even with these two flaws, this puppet technique was no trifling matter. By only further creating strands of spiritiual sense and cultivating to the first layer of the Great Development Technique, he would be able to mutually contend with formidable Foundation Establishment characters.
After all, with over ten assistants at his side, even if they only had the strength of Qi Condensation, it would be more than enough to strengthen his defense.
At the very least, if he were trapped again by that Ghost Spirit Sect young master, he wouldn’t need to fear that endless army of blood ghosts as the actions of his low-grade mechanical puppets would only consume a few low-grade spirit stones.
Only that huge tiger puppet from the Thousand Bamboo School’s Huang Long with its amazing strength would consume mid-grade spirit stones. However, Han Li reckoned that the puppet beast was of grade three or higher. It was capable of destroying a barrier created by several Foundation Establishment cultivations joining hands in two attacks. From this, its fearsome might could clearly be seen.
But unfortunately, his Martial Senior Lei used his magic treasure to turn that puppet into ashes. Else if Han Li had gotten hold of it, it would be an incomparably sharp trump card.
As he thought of the advantages of having that huge tiger puppet, Han Li began to set his heart on refining such a puppet.
After eventually refining several tens of elementary grade one puppets, Han Li decided to attempt to refine an elementary grade two puppet. This was something he had previously seen before, the main puppets the Thousand Bamboo School used to fight. So long as he was able to refine puppets of this grade, he wouldn’t need to be scared of using up his puppets.
However, refining grade two puppets couldn’t be done with scrap. It required nearly all the materials needed to create a high-grade magic tool. The most important material was a large quantity of ironwood several hundred years old. This particular material also cost the most.
Actually, if Han Li was in his Immortal’s cave, nurturing ironwood of a particular age wasn’t a problem at all. However, with his current responsibilities, Han Li could only painfully acquire it by having others gather a great amount for him from distant market cities.
Now that he had materials, he had to acquire an appropriate soul. After all, the soul of the most common animal inside the canyon, the yellow mouse, was far too weak. Even if he concentrated a bunch of their souls, it wouldn’t produce a very remarkable improvement.
Thus, Han Li set his eyes on the yellow mouse’s predator, the wasteland lizard.
As of this moment, Han Li had gone through three to four months of hard effort and had also created several strands of spiritual sense. Those several strands of consciousness had been used to control several low-grade puppet beasts to scour the entire wasteland for these lizards. Thus, the previous scene had occurred.
After Han Li put away the small bottle that contained the lizard’s soul, he closed his eyes and continued to cultivate the “Great Development Technique”, slowly strengthening his primordial spirit.
This “Great Development Technique” was crucial to using puppet techniques. Han Li didn’t dare to slack off!
However, the “Great Development Technique” truly deserved to be the core doctrine of the Thousand Bamboo School. It simply couldn’t be compared to common consciousness-splitting secret techniques!
Ordinary consciousness-splitting techniques merely split off a small portion of one’s spiritual sense through force. The number of strands of spiritual sense that could be produced relied entirely on the strength of one’s primordial spirit. Moreover, these techniques were unable to bolster the primordial spirit.
The Great Development Technique made up for this deficiency. When it was cultivated, it gradually strengthened the primordial spirit to the point where it could even be as strong as naturally powerful primordial spirits. Furthermore, its method of splitting the spiritual sense was far more safe and exquisite than that of common techniques, allowing divisions of spiritual sense far finer and greater in number without hindering the primordial spirit.
With this comparison, it was no wonder the “Great Development Technique” was considered the core of Thousand Bamboo School’s teachings and why Senior Martial Brother Lin had constantly longed for the final three layers of the chant.
[TL: The Development 衍 in Great Development Technique 大衍决 can mean spread or overflow, explaining its specialization in creating threads of divided consciousnesses (spiritual sense).]
[TL: In chapter 232, Senior Martial Brother Lin pleaded for his life with the Great Development Technique after trying to take over Han Li’s body.]