Chapter 21: Four Spirit Diagrams
If Ling Yushi, garbed in long, emerald skirt, had looked dark and spiritless at the entrance to the cave earlier, now her eyes sparkled with a beautiful brightness, and the corner of her lips curled into an enigmatic smile.
"I brought you something to eat. Let's fill up your stomach and talk later." She orderly set out the dishes and took out the food from the basket. Smiling at Qin Lie, she said, "Take it easy while I prepare the hot water. Once you've finished you can come in." Then, she leisurely entered the washroom.
Qin Lie rubbed the bottom of his chin as his gaze turned odd. He guessed that she must have made the connection after hearing the name "Ling Lie" from Ling Chengzhi and came over after that with the purpose to probe him.
That was in fact the truth.
Ling Yushi too was gradually starting to notice his unusualness. After listening to Ling Chengye and his brother, she began to feel that it was more and more likely that Qin Lie was purposely acting like a fool and hence decided that she would test him. By being more intimate with Qin Lie, she wanted to see if she could notice anything amiss and expose Qin Lie.
A little while later, Qin Lie devoured every last bit of the food and looked towards the washroom. Smiling bitterly, he forced himself up from his seat.
In truth, he wasn't afraid that some of his secrets might be exposed to the public.
In his opinion, the only reason he continued to act crazy and foolish was because he didn't want to get involved in too many of the Ling family's issues. He didn't want the Ling household to come looking for him, asking about what was inside Herb Mountain, his grandfather, himself, or other matters.
By continuing to act foolish, no one would bother him and he could focus more into cultivation.
But judging from the current situation, it would probably get harder and harder to continue pretending the way he was. A few members of the Ling family had already noticed something amiss, and even Ling Yushi had taken the initiative and came over to probe him. He understood that he couldn't hide the truth for much longer.
"Luckily for me though, I am now able to enter and exit the state of Thoughtless Tranquility as I please. Otherwise, I wouldn't even be able to get past today's spectacle," Qin Lie thought to himself silently. Taking in a breath, he then entered the washroom with a vacant expression.
Inside the steaming stone room, Ling Yushi stood prettily beside a big wooden barrel with a gentle smile on her elegant face. She pushed up her sleeves to reveal a pair of arms that were as white as snow, and amidst the thin veil of mist, she appeared to be both incredibly beautiful and attractive.
She grabbed a towel with one hand and beckoned Qin Lie with the other, saying, "The hot water's ready. Come over and take off your clothes. Then you can get inside and take a nice, long dip."
This situation made Qin Lie feel like he was facing a terrible enemy.
Without waiting for Ling Yushi to "lend him a hand," he took the initiative and took off his outer shirt himself. Under the gaze of those beautiful eyes, he then took off his long pants and finally stood with only his underpants on at the entrance.
Ling Yushi's eyes shone with an odd brightness, her heart trembling slightly and her lips curled into a graceful arc as she watched Qin Lie's near naked body. Blushing slightly, she cried out softly, "You look thin with your clothes on, but without them... you are actually pretty muscular, aren't you? Not bad, you have a fine body."
Since Qin Lie had trained himself strenuously for years, on the outside he appeared to be both thin and gaunt. However, once he exposed himself, there was nothing to hide the well trained and powerful body he had built for himself.
Every muscle on his body could be seen as clear as day, and they were incredibly well distributed and matched up to his body almost perfectly!
In fact, it seemed that only these well trained muscles could properly display his body's strength, speed, and endurance at perfect equilibrium. If his muscles were a tiny bit smaller, it seemed that his explosive power would be lacking. If his muscles were a tiny bit bigger, then his speed and responsiveness would be affected instead.
As the first miss of the Ling Family, Ling Yushi often acted as a supervisor at the martial arts arena and had seen countless half-naked men. She secretly compared them to Qin Lie and felt that his body seemed more suited for combat even though she couldn't figure out exactly why. She just felt that Qin Lie's body was both well balanced and coordinated and also very soothing to the eye.
While she zoned out for a little, Qin Lie jumped off the stone stairs, and with a "plop," he landed inside the barrel. He immediately entered the state of Thoughtless Tranquility and kept his soul adrift to keep Ling Yushi from noticing anything amiss.
"Why didn't you take off everything? Are you embarrassed?" Ling Yushi pouted. When she said those words, she too felt embarrassed from the bottom of her heart.
After Qin Lie dipped himself into the large wooden barrel, with the towel she had grabbed, she walked over until she was behind Qin Lie. Watching Qin Lie's back, she felt her cheeks turn warm amidst the mist, and after struggling internally, she finally grit her teeth and said, "Let me help you..." while pretending to be calm.
With that, she dipped the towel into the barrel. Once the towel was soaked with hot water, she began washing Qin Lie's back. Every now and then her soft palm and delicate fingers would come in direct contact with Qin Lie's back. Even with his soul adrift, Qin Lie was excited to the core.
"Splash splash splash!"
Holding the towel and scrubbing Qin Lie's back, it didn’t take long for Ling Yushi to arrive in front of Qin Lie after scrubbing his back.
Amidst the thin veil of mist, her cheeks flushed red while her eyes were brimming with a terrifying glow as she embarrassedly peeked at Qin Lie occasionally.
Under these circumstances, although Qin Lie was still in the Thoughtless Tranquility state, his body began to react towards its basest instinct…
Although his soul was hidden within the Soul Suppressing Orb, he could see that a little tent had bulged up from his pants. Since his lower body was completely submerged inside the water and his wet underpants were sticking tightly against his stomach, the outline of this little tent had appeared with perfect clarity, and it also appeared to be very... excited.
Ling Yushi didn't dare to stare at Qin Lie for too long, so she leaned against the barrel and looked down. She immediately saw the little tent, and suddenly felt blood rushing to her cheeks. In fact, her face was red enough to almost bleed out of her skin. Her eyes seemed to turn misty as she covered her lips and cried out softly.
Not daring to look down any longer, she made a soft spitting sound and looked up at Qin Lie.
She discovered that Qin Lie's eyes remained as vacant as ever, but there were green veins barely popping to the surface. Not only that, every nerve was taut. They were also pulsing so very slightly as if trying really hard to hold something back.
Taken aback by the sight, Ling Yushi quickly turned her attention back to Qin Lie's back, and after giving it another simple wipe she exited the washroom rapidly with a hint of panic.
She had a feeling that if she continued to stay and test Qin Lie, something bad was going to happen to her.
"I won't be able to come over often for the next few days. I need to take the Hundred Vein Pill and improve my constitution." Her voice trembled slightly as she shouted to Qin Lie, who was still in the washroom. She then slipped out of the house immediately after with her face completely red.
Once out of the stone house, the mountain breeze blew against her skin and refreshed her mind instantly.
Immediately, her expression turned into one of surprise, and she pressed her hands against her bright red cheeks and smiled derisively, saying, "What's going on with me? Why should I be scared of him? Haven't I come here to check if he's a fool or just faking it? Instead, I turned back at the last moment; I'm so useless..."
Back at the house, inside the wooden barrel.
After a long while, Qin Lie broke out of the Thoughtless Tranquility state and gulped deep breaths repeatedly as if he didn't have enough air. For a moment there, he had a terrifying feeling that he was going to suffocate himself.
"As I thought, a young body like mine can’t handle any stimulation at all. That was way too close." He stared towards the door with fear still lingering about his face. Then, he shook his head, smiled wryly, and continued, "You really should stop playing with fire. If you keep this up, I won't be able to hold back much longer."
Previously, while his soul was still adrift, he had had a terrifying feeling that his body was about to explode. It was as if there was a flame blazing inside his body, burning him to the point where it felt unbearable for his soul, and he even came close to losing control and slipping right back into his body.
He knew that the moment he broke out of the Thoughtless Tranquility state, his breathing, his heart rate, his muscle tension, and so on would immediately expose his true state of the mind, thus revealing to Ling Yushi that he definitely wasn't foolish and was no different from any normal man.
"If you keep playing with fire, you're going to get burned~"
After calming himself down for a little while, Qin Lie continued to lie inside the wooden barrel with an odd expression on his face. He was still recalling the wonderful feeling of Ling Yushi's small hands rubbing his skin.
It was a feeling much like electricity pricking into the body, and it had distracted him completely. No matter how much he tried, he just could not calm his heart down.
The next day, Ling Yushi did not show up as expected, and as usual, it was Ling Feng and Ling Ying who escorted him through Herb Mountain.
Inside the cave, Qin Lie, who had just broken through the seventh level of Refinement, was tirelessly cultivating, and through the wondrous state of Thoughtless Tranquility, he repeatedly assailed his remaining fingers and other parts of his body.
To fully master the seventh level of Refinement, he needed to reach the point where he could discharge spirit energy from every part of his body.
The ten fingers, the palm, the arms, the shoulders, and so on were all primary points of attack. If a martial practitioner could discharge their spirit energy anytime they wanted, then their combat capabilities would be greatly increased. It would enable a martial practitioner to blast spirit energy into their opponent's body with just a simple shoulder charge or an arm throw to injure or kill their enemies.
What Qin Lie wanted to do right now was to open up every single attack point in his body and enrich his ability to discharge spirit energy.
Under the state of Thoughtless Tranquility, his cultivation efficiency was greatly increased just as he had thought. This was especially so since he could enter and leave the state freely. With each passing day he cultivated, he could feel obvious improvement.
Today, armed with the knowledge that he had improved by leaps and bounds, Qin Lie once again tried attacking the Soul Suppressing Orb's seal in his forehead.
To his surprise, his mind attack had gone extremely smoothly, and he broke through a seal almost immediately.
As if he had blown open a door, four incredibly complicated and enigmatic diagrams suddenly appeared inside a vast space immediately after he broke through the first seal!
Amidst the vast open space were four diagrams hanging high up in the air, and each massive diagram was so gigantic that they were all at least several hundreds of meters wide.
Each diagram had countless shiny threads crisscrossing each other as if many gigantic spider webs were pieced together into one. They brimmed with an ancient and complex mysticism, as if they contained the world's most central, fundamental principles and truths.
Beyond the four diagrams was a sealed chaotic area. Qin Lie gave it a look through his soul consciousness and discovered that it seemed to be yet another world, as though that was where his memory fortress truly lied.
Surprisingly, there was more than one seal inside the Soul Suppressing Orb and another appeared behind it after the one before it had been unsealed.
It was like opening a door and entering a whole new world and then realizing that within this new world there was yet another door connecting to an even more mysterious world waiting for him to break through and explore.
"Spirit diagrams! Four spirit diagrams!"
After staring closely at the complex diagrams for a while, Qin Lie suddenly exclaimed in surprise within the vast world.
His grandfather, Qin Shan, was an Artificer. For the past few years his grandfather had often fixed spirit artifacts inside the cave for the Ling Family while he was cultivating. His grandfather knew that he could hear him even when in the state of Thoughtless Tranquility, so he would talk nonstop about the principles of artifact forging and expound an endless amount of information, all while fixing spirit artifacts.
According to his grandfather, artifact forging was divided into many little steps such as preparing spirit ingredients, mixing spirit ingredients, and then melting and forging them before fusing them as one. This mixture would then slowly cool down and stabilize into an "artifact," and finally, the "spirit diagram" would be added into the formed "artifact." This last step of adding in the spirit diagram was also the most important step of Artifact Forging!
A spirit artifact’s quality and power were not determined solely by how perfectly the spirit ingredients were merged together. The spirit diagram inside the spirit artifact was even more important!.
A mystifying complete spirit diagram could effectively change a spirit artifact and grant it unbelievable power!
A spirit diagram was the core of Artifact Forging, and to master a powerful and mystical spirit diagram would also mean to master the true essence of Artifact Forging!