Chapter 147: The Ninth Star

I wonder if one of the academy mentors can extrapolate the next level of this Cosmic Art, Lu Yin thought to himself. But in the end, he decided that it wasn’t possible. This Cosmic Art was far more powerful than he had initially imagined. A mere eight stars was already this powerful. It was beyond any battle technique that he had seen, and it was also an ancient battle technique that not just anyone in the present could deduce. 

He told himself to forget about it, but he just couldn’t quash his yearning desire to learn the next level of the skill! Even as Lu Yin became resigned to his fate, he stretched out his hand, causing eight stars to revolve around his palm. It was a beautiful sight to behold.

“One is missing.” All of a sudden, a wavering voice spoke into Lu Yin’s ear, startling him so badly that he leaped up. He reflexively used his Flash technique to run away, but the voice continued to pursue him relentlessly. “The fact that one is missing is such a shame. It makes everything imperfect.” 

Lu Yin stopped moving and slowly turned around, his face as white as a sheet. He had a feeling that his biggest secret had just been exposed—after all, he had just come out of the Time Stop Space a moment ago! Also, could the owner of this voice actually see when Lu Yin had activated his Cosmic Art? This was something beyond most people. 

What greeted him was an old, wrinkly face that Lu Yin recognized. It had left a deep impression on him, as this was the crazy director’s face, the same one who had nearly killed him! 

At this time, the crazy director’s eyes were murky, and he only seemed to be able to focus on Lu Yin’s palm. More precisely, he was focused on the eight stars rotating around it.

Lu Yin cleared his throat and said, “I am Student Lu Yin. I have met you before, Director.”

The crazy director did not care about Lu Yin’s introduction and continued to stare at his Cosmic Palm intensely. His eyes slowly lit up and he let out a maniacal cackle. “Haha, I remember now! One star is indeed missing. Eight stars are imperfect, but the addition of one more star to take it to nine would make it complete. Yes, that is it! Haha.”

Lu Yin’s heart was shaken, and he had to forcibly stop himself from letting the stars dissipate. He had a suspicion that he might have just received an unbelievably good stroke of luck from this crazy director. “Cra- I mean, Director, have you seen this technique before?”

The crazy director continued to laugh rabidly and mutter to himself under his breath, as though he had remembered something. Lu Yin waved his Cosmic Palm in front of the crazy director, and with feigned sigh, he said, “How can I make the ninth star appear? I don’t know.”

The crazy director’s mouth fell wide open, and he stared at Lu Yin in disbelief. “You really don’t know?”

Lu Yin nodded. “That is correct.”

“Well, I do! Haha! I know how to do it!” The crazy director let out an earth shattering howl of laughter.

Lu Yin eagerly anticipated this unexpected boon. “You know how to do it? I don’t believe you.”

The crazy director stared hard at Lu Yin. “I said that I know how to do it. I really do.”

“I still don’t believe you.”

“You must believe me.”

“I won’t believe you until I see the ninth star.”

The crazy director let out a long sigh and ran a hand through his frazzled hair before saying, “You will be the death of me! Alright then, let me show you the ninth star. I have to make you believe me.”

After saying that, he grabbed Lu Yin’s hands and pressed his own palm against Lu Yin’s. An indescribably peculiar ripple spread out when the two palms met, filling Astral-10 before shooting into the sky. This abnormally powerful ripple went unnoticed by everyone else, including Old Cai, the Trialmaster, and the other mentors. At this moment, only Lu Yin could feel the rippling sensation.

He was now firsthand experiencing a transformation that was even more mysterious than his rudimentary Cosmic Art. Although he did not know if this was truly the next stage of the Cosmic Art, he was certain that it was more powerful than the eight stars version because he could see the faint image of the ninth shining from within his body.

But the way this ninth star was forming was completely different from the previous stars. If the stars had previously been forcibly coalesced, then the ninth star was like the final piece of a puzzle falling neatly into place.

Lu Yin’s mind slowed down as he stared at the stars surrounding him. They weren’t real, but their appearance was impossibly authentic, making him feel as if he had been thrust into an unimaginably terrifying realm consisting of nine stars. This ninth star had changed the intrinsic nature of the technique, whereas before this point, each additional star had slightly increased the power of the technique. Now, not even Lu Yin had any idea of how powerful it was. The explosion of a single star could distort the void, so what would happen if an entire star field exploded? 

Suddenly, the stars surrounding his body disappeared, and Lu Yin closed his eyes. The insane director turned his head up to gaze at the skies above them as he cried out, “You! Yes, you! Don’t run! You started the war, and now you have to bear the consequences! Do not flee.” With that outburst, the crazy director took to the skies and quickly vanished.

Lu Yin was disappointed that the crazy director hadn’t completely simulated the ninth star of the technique. Lu Yin could feel how much more powerful his physical body had become, although he still didn’t truly know his body’s limits. Still, the Cosmic Palm that he had just witnessed left him shaking in the wake of its power. Just from that brief moment of contemplation, Lu Yin had gained incredible insights into the movements of astral bodies, and his face grew heated as he considered all the new possibilities that had opened up to him. If the Cosmic Palm was remodeled around a star system, then could more stars be added to it, like how the original eight had functioned?

This was a radical idea, but it didn’t seem to be completely impossible. Lu Yin’s breath turned ragged, and he urgently wanted to relive the sensation that he had felt with the director’s simulation earlier. That brief expression had triggered a fundamental change in his abilities.

Lu Yin decided to act on his impulses, and he sat down crossed-legged to start meditating. He soon cleared his mind and focused his concentration.

After an hour passed, he opened his eyes. He could still recall the sensation of the ninth star, but he couldn’t cause it to appear; it was definitely harder to cultivate than the eighth star. And since it had taken Lu Yin nearly two months to cultivate the eighth star, the creation of the ninth would undoubtedly take even more time. This was not something that could be rushed, so he decided that he would focus on this the next time he rolled Time Stop. He could stay inside that frozen space for three months, and Lu Yin was confident that he would be able to manifest the ninth star after cultivating the skill for that long.

Lu Yin stood up and stretched, feeling the numbness leave his body. What should he do next? He couldn’t just keep cultivating, and the Nine Trial Zones wasn’t a good choice right now as, without any backing, returning would just be asking for trouble. He only had one real option left: make money. Since he had some free time, he should go and earn some money, especially since his innate gift required so much star energy.

Soon after, Lu Yin arrived at the Treasury. By then, Xia Luo had already left with Liu Ji.

When Old Cai saw Lu Yin, his eyes lit up and the curiosity in his voice was palpable as he asked, “Hey kid, you’re really quite rich. Your star energy has increased a lot in just a few days, huh? You must have already used up thousands of star crystals to do that.”

Lu Yin smiled. “I was just lucky to get a large sum recently, nothing more.”

Old Cai grunted in annoyance. “It’s not like I wanted any from you. There’s no need to be scared.”

Lu Yin laughed, embarrassed. He just felt that he couldn’t trust the moustached man in front of him. The “Cai” in Old Cai’s name already showed how greedy the old man was for riches, so it was best to not appear too wealthy in front of him. 

“Old Cai, I am looking to take on some missions. The most ideal ones would be situated near the Zenyu Star of the Great Yu Empire,” Lu Yin said.

Old Cai grunted in acknowledgment. “With your current ability, you’re really stuck in the middle. There’s indeed not much you can do besides take on missions.” As he spoke, he opened up his mission file, picked out a few of them, and then handed them over. “Choose one. It’d be best if you picked a harder one than an easier one. You don’t have much time.”

“I don’t have much time? What time are you referring to?” Lu Yin asked, puzzled.

Old Cai was taken aback by his question. “Haven’t you heard about the Astral Combat Tournament?”

Lu Yin was startled. “The Astral Combat Tournament? When is that?”

Old Cai was flabbergasted for a while before he finally remembered that Lu Yin had been in the Nine Trial Zones when this news was released. No wonder he didn’t know about it. “Kid, do you know about how this universe is divided up?”

Lu Yin nodded his head. “Are you referring to the four Domains?”

Old Cai couldn’t stop himself from bursting out in laughter. “No, to be exact, there are only three Domains. The Human Domain, the Astral Beast Domain, and the Technocracy. The Astral Wilderness can’t truly be counted as a Domain as no one knows how big it is. For many years, the battle between the Domains has been escalating, and a while ago, the Human Domain was defeated…”

A while later, Lu Yin was finally informed of the recent events; it was rather shocking information. The Astral Combat Tournament had been announced after the defeat of the Human Domain not just to boost morale, but also to recruit more troops. Of course, there was also another reason, which was to draw out all of the hidden monstrous talents from the various powerhouse organizations. Whatever the reasons were, this Astral Combat Tournament would be of an unprecedented scale.

“What is it’s actual start date?” Lu Yin asked hurriedly. 

Old Cai shook his head. “It hasn’t been decided yet. They’ll only be able to decide and announce it after all the civilizations get their networks back online and connected.”

Lu Yin pondered his words. Connecting all of the networks? After mulling it over some more, he realized that this was yet another goal of the event organizers. This network would span the entire universe, making their information relay system even more interconnected. Their current technology could definitely accomplish this, but it had not been implemented yet. Someone somewhere must have had some misgivings about joining a universal network, but the powers at be were now using the Human Domain’s recent defeat to hurry things along. Despite the pending implementation of the network, there were bound to be various limitations to the network until after the Astral Combat Tournament. 

Old Cai looked through the list of available missions, assuming that Lu Yin was still preoccupied with the news about the Astral Combat Tournament. He was completely unaware that Lu Yin’s mind had already drifted to a faraway place. Lu Yin wasn’t too concerned by Old Cai’s assumptions. This was just how his thoughts naturally flowed.

“There are no missions near the Zenyu Star of the Great Yu Empire,” Old Cai casually remarked after looking through the list. 

Lu Yin grunted in acknowledgment before looking through the list himself. Since there wasn’t a mission in his preferred location, then he would just pick one at random.

At this time, a new mission popped up: “Protect the Irven Merchants by providing them with safe passage through the war-zones all the way to the first region of the Great Yu Empire in the Frostwave Weave.”

Lu Yin tapped on it for further information. The first region of the Great Yu Empire was where the Zenyu Star was located. This mission couldn’t have appeared at a better time. “Old Cai, are these Irven Merchants also a sponsor of our Astral-10?”

“Of course not. These are missions that are passed on to us by the Mercenary Association. The Association is one of the sponsors of our Astral Combat Academy, so they often send us missions at certain times,” Old Cai replied.

Lu Yin understood and realized that this was why there were so many weird missions. “I’ll be off then, Old Cai. Do you have anything else to tell me?” Lu Yin asked.

Old Cai waved him off. “Try to refill your star energy as quickly as you can. That is your sole mission.”

Lu Yin nodded and left. 

At the same time, at a space station in Astral-10, Master Wusheng walked out from the teleportation device. Xia Luo followed behind and respectfully said, “Take care, Master.”

Master Wusheng nodded and looked towards Liu Ji. When he saw that she seemed a little preoccupied, he asked, “Liu Ji, what is the matter?”

Liu Ji shook her head. “It’s nothing.”

Master Wusheng didn’t press her further. He looked back to Xia Luo. He trusted Elder Tan’s recommendation, and Elder Tan definitely had a good understanding of this student’s abilities if he had recommended that he join the Lockbreaker research group. After Wusheng finished thinking about all this, he took out an orb covered in a thin metal film from his cosmic ring. When the film was removed, Xia Luo saw that the orb was transparent. Dazzling star energy was radiant outwards from it, causing fluctuations in the very air.

“This is a starburst orb, and the Lockbreaker Society uses these to test its potential candidates. See how long you need to neutralize the star energy inside,” Master Wusheng explained as he passed the orb to Xia Luo.

Xia Luo asked out of curiosity, “How long do most people take to neutralize the energy on their first try?”

Master Wusheng casually replied, “Ten seconds for most. Those who solve it within five are considered good, and those who solve it within three are the elite.”

Xia Luo’s eyes twinkled. Elite? He then looked towards Liu Ji.

Liu Ji is one of the few who can neutralize it in three seconds,” Master Wusheng said when he noticed Xia Luo’s gaze.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Neshi/Nyxnox

TLC'ed By: OMA