“Become sworn brothers?”
At first, he was stunned, but soon, his eyes flickered with delight. Considering that Yang Qi had just demonstrated a bit of his true power, Lu Wangxian knew that he was a pure monster within the Lifeseizing level. Besides, who wouldn’t want to have a friend in the Demi-Immortal Institute, or even better than that, a sworn brother.
“Okay,” he said. “You’re right. We became friends at first sight, so let’s do it. As sworn brothers, we’ll live and die together, and share in victory and defeat alike.”
“Perfect! Eldest Brother. Second Brother. Deputy Sect Leader Lu Wangxian and I are going to become sworn brothers right here and now. Fetch some incense!”
“Of course!” Yang Hualong and Yang Yunchong hurried about making all the arrangements.
As for the elders, they exchanged glances, but did little more than that. After all, an arrangement like this would be beneficial to them. Considering the level of Yang Qi’s cultivation base, he was obviously going to be an important person in the Demi-Immortal Institute. For their Ninth Young Lord to have a sworn brother like that would make it a bit easier for him to deal with his struggles in the House of Spring and Autumn.
Sworn brothers were different from friends. Friends were simply strangers that one encountered by chance, and ended up having dealings with, but sworn brothers were bound together by a formal ceremony. They swore to live and die together, and to share both glory and dishonor.
After the incense was prepared, Yang Qi and Lu Wangxian dropped to their knees, joined voices and said, “On this day, we, Lu Wangxian and Yang Qi, hereby swear to become brothers. We will share life and death, glory and dishonor. Although we were not born on the same day, we hope to die together on the same day. If either of us betrays the other, let heaven destroy him and the earth eradicate him, and let him be spurned by mortals and gods alike.” 
With that, they kowtowed eight times, formalizing the arrangement.
Afterward, they burst into delighted laughter. Yang Qi clasped Lu Wangxian on the shoulder and said, “Very well, Brother. Henceforth, the Yang Clan and the House of Spring and Autumn advance together and retreat together. If you ever need any help with anything, I’ll be there for you. Any problem you have will be a problem for me too.”
Lu Wangxian clasped hands formally. “Excellent. From now on, anything that matters to the Yang Clan matters to me too. Your father is my father.”
Yang Zhan cleared his throat. “Oh, I couldn't possibly accept that honor!”
Yang Qi smiled. “Very well, my brother. Take care of that drop of life force springwater. Once your father finds out about it, he’ll definitely admit that you handled matters perfectly.”
“Yeah. Getting this life force springwater will count as a major meritorious service. However, becoming your sworn brother is even more important. By the way, the Inter-Institutional Martial Arts Competition is coming. Plenty of people from other big sects will be there to observe. I hope you perform well, Brother. Considering what you’re capable of now, I bet you’ll sweep the competition.”
“I hope so too,” Yang Qi said. Waving his hand, he used his Devil-God Seal to summon a small piece of true energy that resembled jade. Handing it to Lu Wangxian, he said, “Brother, this is an animadestiny true energy seal. If necessary, just crush it to send a message to me; I’ll come to aid you as quickly as possible.”
Jun Tianchou, Yang Qi’s sworn brother from the Sea God Institute, had used a similar technique to create his Four Corners of the Earth talisman.
Lu Wangxian nodded. “Many thanks, Brother. Well, the time has come to say farewell. Take this divine talisman from the House of Spring and Autumn. You can use it to find me if you ever need help.” With that, he handed over a jade talisman.
“Farewell, Brother. Until we meet again.”
Lu Wangxian left in a blast of air, taking with him the elders, the bodies of the disciples he had killed, and Zhang Lie. In the blink of an eye, they were all gone.
Not only had Yang Qi resolved a big grudge, he ended up gaining the Ninth Young Lord of the House of Spring and Autumn as a sworn brother.
“You’ve grown up so much, Qi’er,” Yang Zhan said. Clasping his son on the shoulder, he continued, “For a minute there I thought you were going to be bullheaded and offend the House of Spring and Autumn. It might not have affected you, since you can always go back to the Demi-Immortal Institute, but it could have caused some big problems for us here in Yanhaven. Instead, you turned everything into a big blessing. Having sworn brothers in life can make everything go much more smoothly. You’ve done something truly incredible, Son.”
“I wouldn't say it's incredible, Father. Save that for when my cultivation reaches the point that I can go to the Hanging Mountain and find Mother. That would be incredible.” At this point, Yang Qi’s voice turned serious and decisive. “Father, I benefited greatly from my trip into the Blackcorpse Mountains, and now I need to spend some time in seclusion. Afterward, I’ll head back to the Demi-Immortal Institute. It won’t be long before the big martial arts tournament is here, and I need to do well. If I can attract the attention of the institute, it will provide an even further measure of safety. The House of Shadowblight definitely won’t dare to do anything to our clan in that situation.”
“I’ll follow your lead,” Yang Zhan said with a smile.
Sometime later, Yang Qi was back in the middle of the energy formation of the dao of monarchs, preparing to work with the life force springwater. Using his true energy like a hand, he carefully placed an egg-sized collection of the water into his Hellfire Crucible.
His true energy immediately began to thrum, and his platinum sagefire grew even purer, to the point where it was nearly transparent. Henceforth, it would be called Cleansing Flame of the Heavenly World.
It was now so hot that even a tiny bit of it would be enough to melt the hardest steel.
As the egg-sized conglomeration of life force springwater entered him, Yang Qi instantly sensed multiple particles within him beginning to wake, almost as though an entire herd of megamammoths were rising up.
Just as he had hoped, the life force springwater was far, far more effective than ordinary life force quintessence.
‘Quinary Lifeseizing! Awaken, particles! If I become a Quinary Lifeseizer, then I’ll be promoted to conclave student in the institute. Although that will make me more important, there will be down sides. The higher I rise, the more likely I’ll come into direct conflict with the Crown Prince Society. Right now, I'm not strong enough to be a threat. But once I'm a conclave student, things could be different. In the end, I have to get stronger. If I can become a Legendary, then I can really make a big scene at the competition. But can I actually reach it in time?
‘Unfortunately, I have no way to guarantee that the golden imp will always jump out to protect me. If I could be sure, then I wouldn’t have to worry about the Crown Prince at all. It only took one move for it to crush Ghost Emperor Yama, a Great Sage. Oh right. What was it that Ghost Emperor Yama said about the golden imp? Something about a God Legion Seal? What’s that? And what was that Quake-Dawn Continent he talked about? And why did he say that the Rich-Lush Continent is lowly and weak? It looks like I have some research to do after I get back to the institute.’
As he went about his cultivation, he reviewed his encounter with Ghost Emperor Yama, and thought about the many things he had learned.
Unfortunately, he had no idea what the God Legion Seal or the Quake-Dawn Continent were. All he did know was that the golden imp would take action if it encountered a powerful wretch-devil who was trying to harm him. Sadly, he had no idea how to communicate with it, let alone control it. Until he did, the only thing he could truly rely on was his own true energy.
‘I have to break through to Quinary Lifeseizing!’
Focusing his thoughts, he opened his eyes, and the eighty-one particles that he had already awakened erupted with boundless energy.
A god-spirit appeared above his head, an expression of Humanoid True Energy with an elephantine head and a human body. In the blink of an eye, it shot out of the room and high into the sky, above the sea of clouds, until it was amongst the boundless, deadly winds.
As the winds bore down, it lifted its trunk, inhaling the vital energy so quickly that the winds immediately surrounding it vanished.
Flame lightning, intense winds, and bane-devils then appeared, and rushed toward the figure.
This creature with the elephantine head and human body was an expression of the nascent divinity that existed in Yang Qi’s soul. Now, the vital energy of the tribulation that came with Quinary Lifeseizing didn’t pause for a moment before attacking it.
However, the tribulation couldn’t do a single thing to that Humanoid True Energy. It attacked for eight hours straight, and yet couldn’t harm it at all. Instead, the true energy was tempered until it looked like porcelain, like the workmanship of some heavenly grandmaster craftsman.
It was a porcelain god-spirit with an elephantine head and a human body, standing tall and straight, surrounded by swirling flows of energy.
Eventually, the tribulation faded away.
The true energy sank back down, and entered Yang Qi again.
As it did, numerous particles within him awoke, and true energy took root on the various acupoints throughout his body, making him stronger and tougher than ever before.
Not even using true energy, he unleashed a fist strike, and punched a hole in the ground as easily as if it were soft tofu.
That was pure fleshly body power.
And the ground in this secret room was made of pure steel, the type that the most powerful weapons couldn't even scratch, metal that was as thick as several people standing on each other's shoulders.
‘I'm finally in Quinary Lifeseizing. Now, I have numerous true energy vestiges within my body, all of which can store true energy. My true energy reserves will now be even deeper than before.’ The true energy vestiges that were inside of him now were linked to him inextricably, and were basically a part of his body on a fundamental level.
They existed in his acupoints, almost like new seas of energy unto their own. Furthermore, they could defend themselves; if someone broke past the practitioner’s defensive true energy and attacked them internally, the true energy vestiges would instantly fight back.
That was one of the main benefits of true energy vestiges.
‘Alright, the time has come to return to the Demi-Immortal Institute.’ Putting the bottle gourd of life force springwater back into his thumb-ring, he rose to his feet. However, in that very moment, his Four Corners of the Earth talisman suddenly trembled.
1. The oath contains a common Chinese expression that often appears in fiction. It’s a bit wordy, and does not sound like something anyone would say in English, so I edited it to make the dialogue flow a bit more smoothly. The full and literal translation is “we cannot beg to be born in the same year, the same month, and the same day, but we can beg to die in the same year, the same month, and the same day”.