Several dozens of Li outside Xiamen City, Liang and the old man rushed through the forest at breakneck speed. Finally, after reaching a clearing the old man stopped and closed his eyes to search for any humans in their surroundings. Once he was convinced no one was nearby, he grabbed Liang under his arms and leapt into the sky.
The sudden action stunned him and he was afraid of what he would see if he opened his eyes. The pressure from the air weighed on him like a mountain and made it difficult to breath. It was not until the old man stopped and looked around that he was able to see they were at least 1,000 meters above the ground.
To him the air belonged to the birds and only certain spirit treasures allowed cultivators to soar above with the clouds. However, the old man had no treasures and was able to fly by himself, which went beyond anything Liang could understand.
Several moments later, they took off in the direction of a massive canyon and the old man brought Liang to an open area between two cliffs. The walls were roughly three-hundred meters apart from each other and other than a few shrubs and bushes there was nothing else to see.
The old man told Liang he would be training him on the proper way to activate qi so he could strengthen his body and create manifestations. Although he had less than one day to learn, the old man told him it would be enough to get him through his first day in the competition.
After scanning the canyon floor, the old man removed a stack of 10 rings close to the size of his hand from storage and placed them on his palm. When he activated them, nine rings rose into the air and shot off in different directions for hundreds of meters before crashing downwards and burying themselves deep into the ground.
The old man gave Liang a cheerful smile and said, "Prepare yourself" before activating the last ring in his hand. Three quick pulses shot out forming ripples through the ground that traveled outwards until they slammed into the other rings. Immediately a burst of air flooded the canyon and Liang felt his entire body tingle.
Humming to himself, the old man placed his hand through the ring and it tightened around his wrist as if it was a simple bracelet before telling Liang, "These rings form a system of arrays that lock off any area within their perimeter."
"There are several things they can do but for now I've activated an illusion array, qi gathering array, and recovery array. Before with only one core the ambient qi was enough, but now that you have two more cores you'll be able to absorb qi quicker. Within this array field, qi is 10 times denser than the qi outside. Your body will also recover 10 times as fast."
"I've engraved arrays within your arms, hands, and spine that not only harden them but take advantage of the beast cores natural abilities. For now, your cores act independent of each other. When I connect them, your entire body will see their affects."
"Descendants of the Roc are powerful fliers capable of carrying unimaginable weights for great distances. You will tap into these abilities. Descendants of the Zhuyan Ape boast incredible strength and sturdy bodies. You will also tap into these abilities."
"Each of these cores is now a part of you. Every beast has strengths and every beast has weaknesses. I can only overcome some of the weaknesses, the rest you must overcome yourself. Today you'll learn how to tap into your cores and create proper manifestations. Cultivation is an inefficient route, especially for you, but that does not mean cultivators are weak. Come over here and sit on the ground with your back facing me."
Liang took in the old man's words and burned them into his mind. He always thought of him as a carefree elder with a large breadth of knowledge, but he never believed his fantasy like stories. However, flying and the intense pressure he was exuding forced him to rethink everything he knew about the old man.
After placing the last ring around his wrist, the old man turned extremely serious. His normal smile and jovial attitude transformed and his appearance turned fierce. It made Liang question if he was the same man that almost choked to death when they first met.
He sat cross-legged on the ground as he was told and felt a qi burst travel through his spine and into his arms simultaneously. A series of blue symbols appeared beneath his skin that felt as though they would burn their way out and burst into the sky. His entire body tightened and it left him unable to breathe.
The old man told him to bear with it, dozens of breaths later the lights dimmed, and the burning pain slowly disappeared. It took Liang several moments before he was able to breathe properly again and when he lifted his head the old man was in front of him.
"I've activated the arrays in your bones for the first time and burned them into you. You should feel the bones in your spine and arms have become significantly stronger. This is good and bad. Of course it's good that their strength has increased, but bad because the other bones in your body have not."
"The qi that enters the cores fused to your bones will travel throughout your entire body in the blood, but the majority will be absorbed where the cores are fused for now. This means your arms are stronger than the rest of your body. If you punched a rock wall with all of your strength your shoulders would burst and many of your muscles would tear."
"That's why I made hundreds of healing pills and increased the recovery rate within the field. You have little time and the best way to strengthen your body is to destroy it and rebuild it hundreds of times. And so, the first thing you will do is punch that cliff will all of your strength."
"When your progress slows from tearing yourself apart and rebuilding, I'll start tearing you apart by fighting against you with many different weapons. Unfortunately, boy I do not have the time to train you slowly. This is the quickest way and it's going to hurt."
Within the Warring Crane Sect news of Fairy Xu's defection ignited the anger of every disciple. The Fairy Xu they all looked up to turned into a traitor that only took resources but refused consequences. Of the disciples sent to the reflection wall three descended into madness and nobody could be sure if they would ever escape.
If her punishment was similar to the others they could empathize, but her only punishment was handing over a pill formula and increasing the amount of work she did for the sect. All of the disciples thought this was hardly a punishment and she was even lucky enough to be engaged to the young sect master.
When the elders convened after they were unable to locate Fairy Xu, they decided to brand her a traitor to the sect and placed a large bounty for information on her location. If it were not for Wang Zi they would prefer to kill her, but the sect elders decided on a different fate.
Wang Zi was at a critical phase in his development and the elders gave him a goal of reaching the Nascent Soul Realm within one year. He would kill Yang Xi of the Sun Sect and after capturing Fairy Xu, she would become his cultivation furnace to help pave his way to the Soul Nourishment Realm.
Every day, different elders trained with Wang Zi. They opened up their entire library of techniques, provided him with the best resources, and even gave him an immortal cultivation cave at the same level of theirs. Normally, benefits such as these were for elders only, but the loss to the Sun Sect was an extraordinary problem.
The elders decided not to hide Fairy Xu's defection, using it instead to drive Wang Zi further. With cultivation goals, revenge goals, and the goals of taking Xu Wei for his own, Wang Zi advanced rapidly. However, his personality slowly twisted and he became more ruthless in his interactions.
Several of the elders were concerned but it was exactly what the sect master wanted. The Warring Crane Sect held power for 5,000 years with no rivals during that time. The smaller sects always paid tribute and none challenged them. Their dominance left cultivators and non-cultivators alike in awe.
The sect master would be going into life or death cultivation soon and Wang Zi would take over. In his advanced age, he no longer had lofty goals but Wang Zi was young. The sect master believed they needed a rejuvenation, they needed a ruthless leader, and he did not mind turning Wang Zi into a monster if it advanced their goals.