Metallic black gold spread out to cover Yang Qi’s arms, densely packed magical symbols that looked like vicious devil-gods from hell.
As the armor covered him, the net descended, and pinging sounds rang out as the armor was scratched and damaged.
Back in the ancient city of Krorän, it was during his fight with Chu Tiange that his Infernal Deity Aegis had taken on the form of the Infernal Deity Plate Armor, which not even the Cosmic Sunflare Sword technique could pierce.
But Krorän was the past. Yang Qi’s cultivation base had advanced, and he was just on the verge of being able to seize life from the heavens. His Hellfire Crucible had reached its embryonic stage, and with his Infernal Deity Plate Armor, no divine weapons of any sort could hurt him.
Besides, with the power of twenty ancient megamammoths, he could crush anything that stood in his path.
He let loose a roar which shook everything in the area, and then he took a step forward, reaching out and ripping Yang Susu’s sword net apart layer by layer. The resulting destroyed sword energy then flew back to her, taking the shape of a long sword in her hand.
It only took a moment for him to reach the last layer, and crush it into ash.
With that, he retracted his true energy, returning him to his original form.
Shivering, Yang Susu reined in her sword energy, and then looked at her nephew with disbelieving eyes. “You're… you’re not in the Lifeseizing level, but your cultivation base is strong enough to stand up to Lifeseizers. It’s a miracle! You’re a genius! You must be one of the most extraordinary people in the institute. Just what good fortune did you come across, Qi’er? What was that energy art?”
“Aunt Susu, the energy art I cultivate is too extraordinary to speak aloud. If word got out, it could lead to calamity for the Demi-Immortal Institute itself.” He shook his head. “As for the details, let’s wait until I manage to reach the Lifeseizing level. At that point, I think I’ll be strong enough to provide a full explanation. For now, all you need to know is that I'm strong enough to trounce Lifeseizers.”
“That’s wonderful….” Although her eyes flickered with delight, they soon turned serious. “The fact that you, a Master of Energy, can do such things is actually completely shocking. Qi’er, I'm confident in saying that the technique you just used is an imperial-class energy art at the very minimum. You’re right, if people found out, it could lead to a major disaster. I’ll definitely keep your secret.”
“Thank you, Aunt Susu. By the way, how are things going for you here in the institute? Yun Hailan is here too, and she’s gained the favor of the Crown Prince. And who exactly is this Crown Prince character? Is he really that powerful? If Yun Hailan keeps using her connection to him to plot against me, I'm afraid I might be in some actual danger.”
“The Crown Prince….” A look of vigilance appeared in Yang Susu’s eyes. After a moment of silence, she sighed and said, “He's extraordinary, that’s for sure. He’s definitely broken out of the Lifeseizing level already, meaning that he’s currently in the Legendary level. Nobody really knows anything about his cultivation base, though. He's a holy neophyte; but that said, I don’t think you need to worry. His ambitions are too lofty for him to be concerned about you. That Yun Hailan is definitely just using his name to advance her own causes. Qi’er, you need to break through to the Lifeseizing level as quickly as possible. Doing that will relieve a lot of pressure.”
“It shouldn’t be long before I can do just that….” he murmured. Suddenly, his eyes glittered. “Aunt Susu, although I came across some good fortune, my fundamental understanding of cultivation as a whole is still relatively shallow. Would you mind explaining what this Legendary level that you mentioned is? That’s the level beyond the Lifeseizing level, right?”
“Of course I can explain,” she replied. Sitting down cross-legged, she said, “The so-called Lifeseizing level involves seizing life from the heavens, and surpassing the limitations of one’s own fleshly body. The goal is to be able to extend your lifespan. You seize life nine times within the level, and every time you do, you gain longevity. Of course, each time you seize life, it's more difficult than the time before. And every time involves a tribulation of vital energy. A few years ago, I achieved Primary Lifeseizing, and now I’m preparing for Secondary Lifeseizing. If I succeed, I’ll add five or six hundred years to my lifespan. If you reach Nonary Lifeseizing, then your longevity will increase to three thousand years.  After you seize life nine times, your true energy transforms completely, allowing it to connect to the substructure of the world itself. Truth be told, I don't know how many sub-levels exist within the Legendary level, but I do know that even a higher level exists beyond it. You hear about it in stories from ancient times, about the great gods of antiquity. Supposedly, it's the Great Sage level….”
With that, Yang Susu went on to give many more details about cultivation. She talked about spell formation theory, true energy usage, meridian classification, as well as all the different types of spirit energy that existed in heaven and earth, and the nature of the quintessence of the sun and moon.
She had studied in the Demi-Immortal Institute for more than ten years, had received the approval of one of the grand elders, and before all that, had received a very thorough education. As such, her understanding of things vastly surpassed that of Yang Qi, who was still little more than a countryside yokel.
Many questions and conundrums he had encountered were explained, thanks to her.
Yang Qi felt like he was experiencing major enlightenment.
Tackling a situation with foreknowledge is always the best strategy. Now, Yang Qi’s efforts to break into the Lifeseizing level would go even more smoothly.
At a certain point, something she said caused him to remember an important thing.
With a slight grin on his face, he put his thumb-ring onto his palm and held it out.
Yang Susu immediately stopped talking for a moment, then said, “Qi’er, what's that?”
“Watch, Aunt Susu. You’ll see. This is another big secret of mine.” He sent some true energy into the ring, which caused the blue door to open, revealing the dimension inside the item.
“A thumb-ring of holding!?” Yang Susu said, visibly shocked. “That’s a treasure among treasures! Where did you get it?”
“I killed a Master of Energy from the Sea God Institute while traveling here. He had it on him. It took me a while, but I figured out how to use it on my own. What do you think?”
“You absolutely, positively must not let anyone know you have that. If word got out… yes, it would be a disaster for sure.” Yang Susu had been shocked over and over again by Yang Qi on this day. “Heart of the Sea holding items do indeed come from the Sea God Institute. The power of the world itself is used to forge them, which means that even Lifeseizers would have trouble to break into them.”
“I definitely won’t tell anyone about it, Aunt Susu. Except you of course.” Reaching into the dimension with some true energy, he pulled out a crystal box filled with medicinal pills. “Oh, I also got these from a leader of the vampire brigands in the ancient city of Krorän. Unfortunately, I have no idea what they do. Can you take a look?”
Yang Susu took the crystal box and opened it to see rows of emerald-green medicinal pills. Eyes widening, she said, “These are Emerald Dew Rejuvenation Lozenges! They're made from an elixir extracted from thousand-year-old fine jade, which is then mixed with over three hundred types of spirit medicines. Then, they have to sit in a pill furnace for at least ten years. Just one pill is equivalent to over a hundred pounds of thousand-year-old fine jade. It’s impossible to even say how many man-hours went into making these. I can’t believe you have so many!”
“How do you use them?” Yang Qi asked.
“Seep them in fine liquor to extract the true energy. Drink it, and it will be naturally absorbed into your meridians and bones. It will extrude all sorts of impurities from you, and make you much stronger. It's like the quintessence of jade itself, and can significantly forestall the physical signs of aging. There are plenty of people who would fight tooth and nail to get pills like this.”
Although people with profound energy arts could live for hundreds of years, that didn’t stop the effects of aging. For example, even if Yang Susu lived for four hundred years, she would start to look old starting at around fifty or sixty. And once that happened, she could never go back. To people who prized their good looks, that was a horrifying thought.
Emerald Dew Rejuvenation Lozenges contained the quintessence of thousand-year-old fine jade, which could prevent the signs of aging and ensure that a person always appeared to be twenty or so. If such pills were held up in public, countless female students in the Demi-Immortal Institute would go crazy to get them.
“They sound amazing. Here, Aunt Susu, take a box. Either use them yourself, or give them out as gifts to strengthen your relationships.”
Yang Susu nodded eagerly. “You little brat! I guess it's a good thing I always fed you the most delicious food when you were a kid. Do you remember how you always used to try to grab my things? You even broke quite a few of my treasures.”
Yang Qi laughed. “Well, I guess the time has come to pay you back.”
Years ago, Yang Susu had taken Yang Qi with her everywhere she went, and it was really impossible to count how many of her trinkets he had stolen or broken. Back then, they had gotten into fights on many occasions, and Yang Susu had often been forced to teach him a lesson or two.
Now, more than ten years later, such memories caused warmth to rise up in both of their hearts.
From what Yang Qi could tell, his Aunt Susu hadn’t really changed that much, and he trusted and loved her just as much as he ever had.
“Aunt Susu, I'm just on the verge of breaking through to the Lifeseizing level. Unfortunately, I'm lacking in life force quintessence. Do you think any of these pills could help out?” With that, he pulled out some more medicinal pills and laid them on the ground between them.
“What a fortune….” she said with a slight gasp. “If you sold all of those for money, you would be richer than most of the elite students. Alright, let me see. Medicinal pills to improve life force quintessence….”
At a certain point, she picked up a gray medicinal pill and held it out. “This is a Marrow-Quickening Soul-Strengthening Pill. These pills are pretty amazing. They’re made from the fossils of demonlings from the most ancient times. It takes multiple Masters of Energy years of working together to make even just one such pill. This would suit your needs perfectly.
“There’s also this Dragon-Tiger Body-Rejuvenating Ointment. It will also increase your life force quintessence. It’s made from the gallbladders of pythons that are at least a hundred years old, combined with the crushed bones of fierce tigers. Oh, and here’s a Bearsnake Pill and a Blood-Energy Body-Eruption Pill…. They’re all very rare.”
Yang Susu pointed out numerous different types of spirit medicines, describing what they did and how to use them, as well as any possible negative side effects. When Yang Qi realized how much she knew about all these things, he really felt ignorant.
He had acquired the ultimate collection of spirit medicines, all of them extremely valuable. After memorizing all of the information, he was fairly certain that he would be able to achieve his breakthrough soon.
“Oh, there’s one more treasure I have….” he said, pulling out the Sage Devil Painting.
As soon as the painting was out in the open, Yang Susu shot to her feet. “That’s….”
1. As is explained fairly directly in this chapter, the Lifeseizing level consists of nine “seizings of life”. I could use “First, Second, Third” etc. to describe the sub-levels. Instead, I'm going to use the Latin-based ordinal numbers Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, etc. The reason for this is that it avoids some really frustrating complications of grammar and sentence structure. I know some of the numbers are strange, but hopefully you can bear with me. As a reference, the list of ordinal numbers goes like this: primary, secondary, tertiary, quaternary, quinary, senary, septenary, octonary, nonary.