The leader of the black-garbed men had been virtually beaten into a pulp. After laying on the sand for a moment, he struggled to look up at Yang Qi and said, “Y-you’re… quite the exp… expert, ya punk…. Who are you?”
Yang Qi’s only response was to end his life with a final fist strike.
“Excellent striking technique, Young Lord,” the young woman in white said. “And excellent energy arts. Your cultivation base is in the sixth phase, and yet, you easily dispatched an expert in the seventh phase. Geniuses like you are rare to say the least. Many thanks for saving me. Young Lord, may I ask to know your honored surname and distinguished given name? As for me, I am the daughter of Yanhaven’s city magistrate, Yan Feixia.” 
“I'm Yang Qi.”
His first expectation was to see her face light up with shock upon hearing his name. After all, he was fairly famous in Yanhaven right now, and was said to be a useless, hedonistic silkpants who had brought ruin to his clan. However, it was to his surprise that Yan Feixia didn’t react at all.
“Ah, a young master of the Yang Clan,” she said coolly. “Well, I must truly offer my thanks for your assistance tonight.”
Surprised by the reaction, Yang Qi said, “Young Lady Yan, have you only just returned to Yanhaven?”
“Indeed. I've been away working on my cultivation for about ten years. This is my first time returning, and I couldn’t have been more surprised to be ambushed by experts from the House of Shadowblight. In fact, I need to get back to the city right away to report the matter and try to get an explanation.” Stepping forward, she began to examine the bodies of the black-garbed men. When she got to the mangled corpse of the leader, it was to Yang Qi’s surprise that she reached into his garments and pulled out what appeared to be a tiny copper bell.
It was covered with complex designs, and if one looked closely, it would be obvious that although it looked like copper, it was actually made of some other type of metal.
“I was wondering why his Golden Bell Rampart was so strong. As it turns out, he had this little treasure, a bell made of refined gold from beyond the heavens, forged by a Master of Energy. This would serve to provide a significant boost to his energy arts, and obviously increased the strength of his Golden Bell Rampart by several times.”
She examined the bell closely for a moment, as though to commit every aspect of it to memory, and then tossed it over to Yang Qi.
“You’re giving it to me?” Yang Qi asked, surprised. Looking down at the complex designs that covered its surface, he noticed that there were also lines of extremely tiny text, which revealed the cultivation technique of the Golden Bell Rampart itself.
Surprisingly, it was a first-class energy art. It could be used to form a bell-shaped defense canopy made of true energy that would deflect all sorts of attacks. Even toxic energy would be useless against it.
“Well, it’s your battle trophy, after all,” Yan Feixia said with a soft laugh. “You did the hard work, so it’s not my place to take all the spoils. That’s a first-class cultivation technique, you know, so if you master it, it will advance your energy arts by a step or two. First-class energy arts are not easy to come by; if you sold that at auction, you would probably make a few hundred thousand energy convergence pills.”
“A few hundred thousand…?” Yang Qi replied. He licked his lips. “That’s a fortune!”
“It is. Things like that are worth a lot.” At that point, Yan Feixia looked down at the leader and prodded him with her sword. “He has some other treasures on him as well. It would be a big waste not to take them.”
“Well, he’s covered with poisons,” Yang Qi said, “and I don’t have the ability to use telekinesis yet. Miss Yan, why don’t you search him for treasure, then we can split what we find?”
“That works,” she replied straightforwardly. Waving her hand, she sent a stream of true energy out, which transformed into a life-like hand that quickly descended to search the corpse. The process only took a moment, and produced a snuff bottle, a few pieces of paper, and what appeared to be a leather bound book.
“This snuff bottle contains an antidote that nullifies most poisons used by the House of Shadowblight. These papers are bank notes from the Sage Ancestor Dynasty, which can be exchanged for energy convergence pills. And this book… well, well. It’s made from human flesh. And it contains the poison arts cultivated by the House of Shadowblight.”
Yan Feixia had clearly seen many things in her life, and was privy to many secrets that ordinary people would be unaware of. Yang Qi couldn’t help but marvel at what people from important clans and sects were capable of.
Although Yang Qi himself was considered one of the young elites in Yanhaven, he was still like a frog in a well when compared to someone like this.
“Antidote….” he murmured, eyes glittering. “My eldest brother and second brother were both poisoned by shadowblight, so that antidote would be very helpful. As for the banknotes, why don't we split them evenly? And then you keep the poison art manual? What do you say, Miss Yan?”
“Alright,” she replied with no ceremony. Handing him half of the bank notes, she said, “I don’t really need the poison manual to be honest, but I can probably hand it in to my sect in exchange for some rewards. Well, it’s getting late, and I need to get back home. Instead of inviting you over for a visit, I’ll head over to the Yang Clan in a few days to thank you properly.”
“You’re too kind,” Yang Qi said. “That having been said, Miss Yan, I’d prefer for you to not mention this incident to anyone. Just tell people that you handled the men from the House of Shadowblight.”
“Oh, I understand,” she replied. “If word got out about this it could be bad for the Yang Clan.” Waving her hand, she sent a stream of energy out that ignited the corpses of the ambushers. Within moments, they had all burned away into nothing but ash.
“An inferno energy art!?” Yang Qi’s eyes widened. “Miss Yan, I would never have been able to guess that, considering you used metal-type sword techniques before, you would also be a master of fire-type techniques. Can those two different types of energy arts really work well together?”
Normally speaking, people would cultivate a technique related to only one specific element. Mixing elements in cultivation could be very dangerous.
Yan Feixia smiled coolly. “It's a secret legacy technique from my sect that allows people to simultaneously cultivate two types of energy arts.” She didn’t seem inclined to offer any further explanation, which was entirely reasonable. Sects and organizations often had secrets that weren’t intended to be spread.
Although Yang Qi cultivated the energy arts of the Yang Clan, after being crippled, he had begun to power them with the Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth.
That new technique was as profound as the depths of hell, and had the ability to remain completely concealed.
In any case, Yang Qi wasn’t particularly interested in the Golden Bell Rampart. After all, if he could reach the seventh phase, the Energy Manifestation level, then the Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth would provide its own special defensive technique, the Infernal Deity Aegis. In combination with the Fiend-Devil Wings, that would give him defensive capabilities that far surpassed the Golden Bell Rampart.
From that it could be seen that the Strength of the Hell-Crushing Godmammoth was one of those legendary techniques that was unrivaled in the world.
In terms of the full manifestation of the Infernal Deity Aegis, it was a black spheroid of true energy. Eventually, in the Master of Energy level, it would become so strong that it would provide protection even in the depths of a volcano.
That was a level of defense that almost surpassed that which was human.
In fact, even the city magistrate of Yanhaven, who did have a Master of Energy cultivation base, as well as remarkable defensive techniques, would be transformed into ash if he jumped into a volcano.
‘It seems that every advancement of my cultivation base and energy arts will lead to hundredfold improvements in strength,’ Yang Qi thought, his heart pulsing with anticipation. ‘Can I really take them all the way to the seventh phase?’
Even having just stepped into the sixth phase, his fight with the black-garbed leader had caused a third particle to awaken within him, giving him the power of three ancient megamammoths.
“I’ll take my leave now, Young Master Yang. In a few days, I’ll come again to express my thanks.” With that, Yan Feixia called upon her energy arts to once again summon a pair of white wings. Leaping up a few meters into the air, she flapped her wings and flew off into the starlight, looking very much like a spectacular white crane.
Yang Qi looked down at his spoils. After looking over the bank notes, he realized that they were worth well over a hundred thousand energy convergence pills. That much wealth was equivalent to roughly three months of revenue for the Yang Clan.
Considering that his direct bloodline was now completely bankrupt, that many energy convergence pills would definitely be extremely helpful.
And then there was the golden bell, and the technique that was written on it, which was also an extremely valuable treasure. That was also worth hundreds of thousands of energy convergence pills, and although it wouldn’t alleviate the crisis, it would at least replenish the bloodline’s losses to some degree.
With that, Yang Qi sped off. When he reached the city walls, he scaled them as lithely as a leopard. The only thing the city guards detected was a slight breeze caused by his passing.
Back at the Yang Clan mansion, he found his way to a certain private chamber, then knocked on the door.
A moment later, Yang Zhan’s resounding voice could be heard from inside. “Qi’er, are you back from your training? Come in.”
Then, the door to the chamber, which was roughly a third of a meter thick, slowly opened. Yang Qi hurried inside to find his father and two brothers all sitting there cross-legged. His father had two hands outstretched, with a palm placed on each of his brothers’ backs as he worked to drive the poison out of them.
Unfortunately, from the complexion of his brothers’ faces, it was obvious that the toxic energy was not easy to dispel.
As soon as Yang Zhan saw Yang Qi, his gaze entered him like a burning fire. “Qi’er, your cultivation base has advanced again, hasn’t it?”
“Yes, Father. I finally broke through into the Energy Weapon level! At this point, I should be able to defeat Yang Honglie without any problem.”
“Don’t get cocky,” his father replied seriously. “Yang Honglie is in the seventh phase, and you can’t underestimate him. Generally speaking, sixth phase energy arts practitioners aren’t capable of defeating the seventh phase ones.”
“I know, Father,” Yang Qi said, nodding.
“Third Brother,” his eldest brother said, forcing a smile onto his face, “you really came out on top of your catastrophe! It’s too bad I've been crippled. Father just can’t get this damned toxic energy out of me.”
“Don’t worry,” Yang Zhan said. “Worst case scenario, I’ll beg one of the ninth phase chief elders to help.”
Yang Qi’s eldest brother shook his head. “Father, the chief elders are all running out of longevity, and have to focus all of their efforts on trying to seize life from the heavens. How could they possibly spare effort to focus on us when they're so worried about trying to extend their own lifespans?”
The chief elders had already reached the point of avoiding all fighting for the purpose of conserving true energy, so obviously, they wouldn't waste it unless absolutely necessary.
“There’s no need to worry, Eldest Brother,” Yang Qi said. Without further ado, he pulled the antidote out of his garment.
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