Chapter 7: The Difficulties of Cultivating

Han Li slowly transferred energy from his meridians back to his Dantian. He had managed to reach the 7th cycle of Qi circulation today, and Han Li knew that his body had already reached the limit of what it could handle. If he were to try to do another cycle, all his meridians would completely rupture, inciting a pain worse than death. Even though he was a courageous person, Han Li couldn’t help but break out in cold sweat at the thought of this pain.

It had already been half a year since Han Li joined the sect, and the official Unofficial Disciple exam had ended slightly over two months ago.

Only a small portion of the Unofficial Disciples were officially promoted to the Inner Branch. Most Unofficial Disciples weren’t able to pass this point and had no other choice but to pack their belongings and become a disciple of the Outer Branch.

The children that didn’t pass would generally enter the Treasure Gathering Division or the Flying Bird Division. For those that showed outstanding performances, they would receive another step further in their training and would then have the chance to join the more respected External Blade Division. 

Of course, it was only natural that the Four Seas Division was the most respected of the four divisions, but unfortunately, they only accepted those that made names for themselves through their martial arts. If one didn’t have a certain level of expertise in martial arts, it was pointless for them to even dream about joining the Four Seas Division; these immature and inexperienced children were even less worthy of any mention.

When Han Li recalled the details of the examination from two months ago, he couldn’t help but feel a bit frightened.

The participants had to first run a lap around the Celestial Rainbow Mountain, amounting to a total distance of close to 10 kilometers. Immediately after, they had to group up and engage in combat with each other while secluded in the forest. Finally, they had to endure a certain number of attacks from their more skilled and powerful senior martial brothers. With each and every test, Han Li couldn't help but feel a little joy at the misery of others. 

During their entire stay at the Seven Mysteries Sect, Han Li and Zhang Tie had never taken such a terrifying test before. Doctor Mo had said that his examination would only test them on the cultivation chant. Of course, Han Li didn’t believe the test would be as easy as it sounded. Looking back, Han Li could clearly remember the intense effort he had to put into his cultivation.

According to Doctor Mo, this oracular chant was only a single part of a set. Within half a year, Han Li and Zhang Tie would have to successfully comprehend the first layer of the cultivation chant, which Doctor Mo would be examining. If the two met Doctor Mo’s expectations, then they could become Doctor Mo’s personal disciples and even share the same benefits as the Inner Disciples.

Ever since he heard about the different treatments afforded to Inner Disciple and Outer Disciples, Han Li completely abandoned his plan of simply becoming an Outer Disciple so he could return home. At the time, nothing was more important to him than to be able to receive more silver from the Seven Mysteries Sect for him to take and send back to his family. He had truly become fearful and sick of living in poverty, and he knew that the more silver he could earn, the better the lives of his siblings and parents would become.

After learning Doctor Mo’s chant, Han Li had not once stopped cultivating. He spent every possible moment of the day and night relentlessly practicing the chant. Due to the fact that Doctor Mo hadn't provided them with any guidance in cultivation, Han Li could only figure things out for himself. He referenced the basic Seven Mysteries Sect inner cultivation art used by the other children, "Positive Yang Energy", and devised his own method for cultivation. 

Relying on this method, he cultivated arduously for 3 months, but Han Li was shocked to realize that his progress was extremely slow! He had spent a great deal of effort and yet he was only rewarded with one small thread of cool energy inside of his body. The energy was so infinitesimal that he could barely notice that it was there. If he hadn’t checked his body carefully for results, he would not have noticed the strand of energy.

Could this be the rumored True Qi the instructors had talked about? Han Li suddenly came to this realization.

The other disciples cultivating the Positive Yang Energy had told him that there was a distinct flow of warm energy and Qi being generated within their bodies. However, the thread of energy in Han Li’s body was extremely cold, completely opposite from the energy gained from cultivating Positive Yang Energy! Looking at the results, it was obvious Han Li was very far behind the other disciples.

Those who used the True Qi from the Positive Yang Energy cultivation were able to punch a fist-sized hole through a small tree trunk and leap three meters into the air. 

Han Li, however, after circulating the strange Qi in his body, felt practically no different from his normal self. The only difference he could tell was that his spirit was more vigorous and his appetite was even more ravenous than before he came to the mountain. But what use was that? Seeing that the other children on the mountains were gaining ridiculous power, Han Li couldn’t help but feel dejected.

After realizing that he had barely made any progress, Han Li had nearly given up on his several months of hard work. He thought that with such a huge gap between himself and the others, he wouldn't have a chance to catch up to the other children in the remaining amount of time before Doctor Mo’s test and successfully pass it. It would be better to plan for his trip back home instead.

Incidentally, Han Li one day came across the cultivating Zhang Tie and realized something. Ever since Zhang Tie had started his cultivation with this mysterious oracular chant, his body showed no changes at all. There was no effect; not even a small amount of True Qi could be seen!

Knowing that he had at least succeeded in forming one strand of True Qi, Han Li regained the confidence he had thrown away earlier. With the remaining amount of time, he furiously tried to cultivate the oracular chant.

He worked even harder than before, training like a madman.

Han Li began to use every single second to meditate and cultivate. Even when he was sleeping, he kept his body upright in a meditative position in hopes of having even a slight breakthrough. Of course, this intensive training method couldn't be maintained for more than a few days. If he strained himself past his limit, his lack of sleep would make him unable to efficiently cultivate during the day.

What puzzled Han Li the most was that after Doctor Mo imparted the oracular chant to the two of them, he stopped interacting with them. Even their questions on cultivation had been ignored by him as if he didn't even notice their existence.

Every day, Doctor Mo would bring out the book with the three black characters written on the back cover and study it, staring intently as if the lines of text outlined the image of a beautiful woman and the cover was made of pure gold. At the beginning, Han Li and Zhang Tie thought that Doctor Mo no longer wanted to be a medical doctor and was studying bitterly to pass the imperial exam. After the two children learned to read, however, they recognized the three words on the back cover, which read “Scripture of Longevity.” Doctor Mo was reading a book about how to cultivate oneself to the point of extending one’s lifespan.

In that moment, the two children suddenly realized that Doctor Mo wasn’t trying to pass the imperial exam; he was trying to live thousands of years like a river turtle.

(TL: turtles were thought to be able for live for thousands of years)

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