Once Yang Qi was alone again, he emerged from the blood swamps and flew up into the air, his eyes flashing. ‘So, it really was someone from the Demi-Immortal Institute.’
Just as he had remembered, top experts from the institute would come to the Heavencorpse Dimension to hunt demon-devils and collect demon cores.
Based on how strong those three were, he was fairly certain that they were rarely seen conclave students.
Conclave students were all Quinary Lifeseizers or higher. They were precious assets to the institute, the expert students who were on their way to reaching the Legendary level. The treatment they received vastly surpassed that given to elite students; for instance, they could acquire personal mountain peaks within the Heaven Lode Mountains.
Conclave students essentially had the same standing as institute elders.
They were second only to holy neophytes, the Legendary students who were like sovereign lords in the institute. As for the holy neophytes, the Crown Prince was the most powerful among them.
Originally, Yang Qi’s goals in the Heavencorpse Dimension had been to further his cultivation, and look for life force springwater. He had not intended to travel very deeply inside, lest he end up getting lost. But now that he realized that these three conclave students were members of the Crown Prince Society, he suddenly felt a streak of boldness rising up within him.
It was compounded by the fact that they were apparently here to find life force springwater for Yun Hailan.
‘Ah, Yun Hailan. It turns out you need life force springwater too. Well, I guess I’ll have to make sure your supply is cut off!’ With that, he blurred into motion.
Occasionally he would speed along on foot, and sometimes he would become a streak of red, concealed within the blood swamps. The entire time, he followed the aura of the Grand Thunderclap Swordplay.
Of course, King Bloodcorpse Devil was already in his sea of energy, being slowly eaten away by the Hellfire Crucible.
Yang Qi completely covered his own aura, and instead released a bit of blood-type energy from King Bloodcorpse Devil. By mixing that with some heterogeneous true energy, it became like devil energy, which made it very easy for him to keep hidden. As he proceeded along, he could sense other sources of devil energy, some of them hundreds of meters beneath the surface of the swamp, others, even further down. Although such entities could sense him, they simply let him pass.
Meanwhile, inside of him, the blood-type energy was slowly being converted into life force quintessence, which he stored in his meridians and acupoints.
Clearly, he was starting to build up momentum in the hopes of breaking through to Quinary Lifeseizing.
How much vital energy did a Septenary Lifeseizer like King Bloodcorpse Devil have? Enough that Yang Qi felt one particle after another waking up inside him.
Even as he flew along, he went from seventy-two particles to seventy-three. Seventy-four. Seventy-five. Eighty. Eventually, the process slowed down, leaving him with the power of eighty-one ancient megamammoths.
Taking out King Bloodcorpse Devil had been a big win for him.
After reaching Quinary Lifeseizing, one would experience a transformation on the substructure level. For example, true energy would take hold in one’s acupoints and begin to form objects similar to the demon cores found in demon-devils.
Among those who practiced energy arts, such objects were referred to as internal pellets. 
Yang Qi’s godly-class energy art was no different in this regard. As his true energy came to rest in his acupoints, they began to form internal pellets. His internal pellets were quite miraculous; each and every one of them flickered with dazzling, platinum sagefire.
At the moment, it seemed like he was undergoing some sort of baptism.
As for Quinary Lifeseizing, there were even more marvelous aspects to that level. However, at the moment, he wasn’t quite ready to try to break through.
The Energy Arts level had nine phases, the fifth of which was the Energy Eruption phase, in which one could unleash one's true energy outside of the body. As for the Lifeseizing level, it was broken up into the nine lifeseizings, and similarly, the fifth was a watershed. Upon reaching Quinary Lifeseizing, one’s life force would change dramatically, and thus, Quinary Lifeseizers were viewed as the ultimate core of any institute. Such individuals truly understood energy arts on a deep level, and could live for many, many years. Their prospects were virtually limitless.
‘I probably shouldn’t try to break through to Quinary Lifeseizing right here and now. I need to get used to my current level first. Trying to achieve breakthroughs too early can lead to instability. I’ll just wait until I have plenty of life force springwater to use. With that, and a strong foundation, I can have a solid path to lead toward the Legendary Level. Either way, there’s no way I'm going to lose to the Crown Prince or Yun Hailan.’
With that, he made his decision. No matter how difficult it might be, he would screw over these three conclave students from the Crown Prince Society.
And he would do it in a way that none of them realized who was actually responsible.
The deeper one got into the Heavencorpse Dimension, the more powerful the corpse energy, sordid energy, and wretch energy became. In fact, in many places, the air distorted so much that only monsters could possibly fly through it.
Eventually, Yang Qi finally caught sight of the group of two men and one woman. Lei Tao was in the middle of using his Grand Thunderclap Swordplay.
Stretched out in front of them were numerous pitch-black mountains rising up out of plains and swamps of blood. The mountains were so imposing that Yang Qi immediately felt his heart sink, and had to circulate his true energy to suppress his disappointment. Obviously, they were beyond him.
As for the group of three, they were well-prepared; they all pulled out various magical items, causing the air to distort around them for a moment as they began to move. Then, they suddenly vanished without a trace.
Yang Qi proceeded forward a bit, but could soon sense that within those mountains lurked demon-devils that could definitely destroy him. The only reason the other three had been able to enter were those magical items that lent them the power of invisibility.
“I guess the only thing I can do now is wait for them to come out.”
Wrapping himself up with true energy, he sank down into the sordid, stinking, bloody sludge, where he lay in wait, not moving a muscle.
Back when he mastered the dao of the quick strike, he had also learned how to be extremely patient.
By this point, his Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth had combined perfectly with the wretch energy around him, making his aura exactly the same as the Heavencorpse Dimension in general.
As of this moment, he was like a combination of a god and a devil.
It was also right then that he suddenly gained a deeper understanding of his technique. As he did, his true energy made cracking sounds as it solidified even more, and the platinum sagefire became slightly more transparent.
As he remained immersed in enlightenment of the Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth, the air rippled at the edges of the mountain range, and three figures appeared. Of course, one of them was the white-garbed Lei Tao, who currently had a rather large bottle gourd slung over his shoulder. From the way he carried it, it was obviously extremely heavy.
Instantly, Yang Qi detected the aura of life force.
‘Life force springwater! They actually got their hands on some. But how? Don’t tell me it's just because of those invisibility treasures they have. Well, I guess it doesn’t matter. I’ll relieve them of it either way.’ The mere sight of that gourd of water caused Yang Qi’s mind to start spinning with ideas.
As the group of three flew out of the mountains, it became evident that Lei Tao was actually running low on true energy, and needed to rest. “That place was so dangerous! The only reason we were able to get out with this bottle gourd is the Space-Piercing Divine Talisman that the Crown Prince painstakingly created for us. Otherwise, we would have awoken the monster sealed in the depths of the mountain.”
“Elder Brother, are the rumors true? Have the Yama Mountains really been hiding Ghost Emperor Yama for the past ten thousand years? His apprentice, Baron Heavencorpse, is the true sovereign lord of the entire Heavencorpse Kingdom.”
“That’s right,” Lei Tao said. “Ghost Emperor Yama is indeed sealed in these mountains. Great Sages of the distant past used life force springwater to suppress him. That water is like poison to zombies and those who cultivate the dao of devils. Supposedly, if they even get a whiff of the odor of the water, they’ll be killed instantly. Alright, let’s build our true energy back up and then leave this place. It won't be as easy to get our hands on life force springwater next time. Ghost Emperor Yama gets closer and closer to waking up with every day that passes. One of these days, he’ll break free, and that will definitely be a big catastrophe.”
“I heard people saying that the Crown Prince actually went into the Yama Mountains and talked with Ghost Emperor Yama,” the female student said. “Supposedly, he carried a message from the chancellor of the Demi-Immortal Institute, requesting the Ghost Emperor Yama remain in place after waking up, lest he be killed for good.”
“It’s impossible to be certain about such things,” Lei Tao said. “Who knows what that old devil is thinking. You can never trust demon-devils; they always go back on their word. Come on, we really need to get out of here.”
Having rested for a bit, Lei Tao was preparing to call upon some of his sword energy, but before he could….
Holy, platinum light erupted out, making Lei Tao feel as though some chaotic, primeval beast were lunging toward him with deadly intentions.
In the blink of an eye, he saw a platinum sea threatening to completely overwhelm him, as well as a long, platinum spear stabbing toward him.
However, Lei Tao was no amateur. Considering the danger, he dropped his bottle gourd and threw his hands wide, causing the boom of thunder to ring out as he summoned his Grand Thunderclap sword. “Thunderclap Devastation!”
As his sword energy spread out, it formed the image of an enormous temple behind him.
The sword energy slammed into the spear, and Lei Tao staggered backward, his true energy almost completely drained.
The platinum spear vanished, to be replaced by a figure wearing a suit of platinum armor. It was hard to say whether he was a human or a devil. However, he moved so quickly that he was able to grab the bottle gourd of life force springwater, which vanished before any of them could do anything.
Then, he spun and dove back down into the bloody sludge, disappearing like a loach into the mud.
1. These “internal pellets” could also be translated as internal cores, inner cores, etc. There are two characters in Chinese that are commonly translated as “core”, and since both are commonly used in this novel, I will translate the two terms differently. For more information, check out this FAQ on wuxiaworld https://www.wuxiaworld.com/page/cores-in-chinese-cultivation-novels.