A fist surrounded by green qi cut through the air and released a wave of power as it crashed against solid rock. The attack carved out a solid chunk out of the ravine's wall while loose rocks and pebbles detached from the rock wall and rained around Han Bei. Before he got ready for another punch he waited for a while. Both to adjust the amount of qi he used and to make sure no large section of the ravine was about to fall on his head and buried him alive.

Han Bei released a deep breath as qi moved from his aperture and through his body before it carefully wrapped around his fist. Another attack and another piece of the wall was gone. He stopped and appraised both the damage he dealt to himself and to the solid rock surface. It was slowly coming back to him, the old techniques he once mastered, the tactics he employed. " I just need a little practice that's all. " He punched the wall time after time as he dug deeper and deeper until he had hollowed out a small part of the rock wall and made a shallow cave for himself. After Han Bei cleared away the rubble he appraised his own work, " It's no celestial palace, but it's better than nothing." Shortly after, He did notice a single flaw that truly bothered him " There is no door. " He looked around and his expression eased as he ran off. When he returned, he carried a boulder in his arms, one as tall as a grown man. The ground trembled as he dropped the large rock and covered the entrance. Without any exhaustion, he silently appreciated his own work.

Nearby the old monk looked at the self-satisfied brute but didn't comment anything as he knew it would lead to an unnecessary argument.

Han Bei had exchanged his tattered clothing for a new tight-fitting sleeveless robe and a pair of black vambraces and the same black pants and boots that thankfully didn't get thrashed. As luck would have it his black cloak was also a low-ranked spirit treasure. It could repair itself and change its shape, added to that it could hide the wearers' presence to a certain extent.

He was now a proper cultivator at the initial heaven of the 1st realm and thankfully that hateful feeling of heaviness that followed him ever since he woke up on this nightmare of a world, was finally gone. Words could barely describe the amount of relief he felt now that his feet were once more steadily planted on the great path. The great uncertainty of what the future held for him lessened if only just for a bit, and the sunless world became a shade brighter.

But Han Bei wasn't willing to simply sit on his achievements, and he strained his gaze at the things beyond. Past the initial heaven there was middle heaven, upper heaven, final heaven, and finally 2nd realm, each subsequent realm after Qi solidification was split into 4 smaller stages all the way until the 6th realm where, in theory, one became an immortal. Han Bei had never met an immortal and his own master was only at the 4th realm. Sure there were many legends about these mystical and enigmatic figures, but a more skeptical part of him couldn't help but think that they were nothing but fairy tales.

For now, Han Bei set his sights on more realistic goals. One of which was to master his new abilities and learn or create proper techniques for them. His increased physical strength served him well even before and now it would become one of his most dangerous fangs. There was also another fang, a more arcane one that needed more sharpening.

Han Bei sat down cross-legged and took out a spirit stone. As the energy inside the stone emptied his own qi reserves refilled, but a single stone wasn't enough, 2 more were needed until his reserves were full and he could start practicing this new ability of his. Han Bei's body tensed with effort as it produced green qi and slowly 3 ghostly apparitions manifested before him. 1st was the ghost from the cursed stage, the young master that tried to possess him. Then there were 2 others he refined during his stay in the ravine. The 1st of the new additions looked like a soldier in a broken down armor ravaged and broken by the spears of 100 enemies while his hate lived on. Han Bei grunted with effort as the last phantom gained form. It wore a tattered scholarly robe on a thin frame malnourished by a lifetime of starvation and destitution. Han Bei didn't force the ghosts to take on a certain form, instead, those that made the biggest impression seemed to instinctively take shape on their own.

Currently, Han Bei's limit was 3 ghosts that he collectively dubbed [yin soldiers] and every second they were manifested they ate up a little bit of his qi. He controlled these phantoms as he pleased. With a single thought, he could make them fly around or attack a target of his choosing. And while their destructive power didn't seem to have increased with his cultivation he suspected that he might get better results when he gets to fight an opponent of flesh and blood instead of an immobile rock and withered wood.

More exhausted than he liked to admit Han Bei stood up and dismissed his ghosts when an aged voice spoke to him. " Impressive, if anybody else tried to house that type of vicious qi inside their bodies they would either decay, mutate or go insane." The old monk, perhaps a bit embarrassed or just curious, hadn't left the ravine and acted as a guardian while Han Bei cultivated. Luckily or not the old monk's earlier words rang true and no zombies or any other type of undead were present in the ravine, except those that already were there of course.

Han Bei skeptically responded " Perhaps it is. " He judged his own arm while gloomy power whirled around it. " That is yet to be seen. " After the short conversation, he went back to training, and once more dull sounds of qi enhanced flesh colliding with rock filled the ravine. As Han Bei reacquainted himself with the feel of his own body and power he also trained his new ghost control skills. Han Bei fell into a blisfull routine where nothing but glorious cultivation mattered.

For a single week, Han Bei single-mindedly devoted himself to refining his techniques, old and new. His mind was all but emptied and left only with things that drove him forward, that pushed him to greater heights. Dark and glorious he became a slave to the dreams of the future and worked his hardest to make them a reality. His muscles tore and bones broke, again and again, he suffered backlash as he played with new powers and abilities brought by his changed body and he endured through it all. He shrugged off damage that would paralyze a mortal man with pain and healed with a single bite from fresh meat. Finally, he saw a glimpse of the potential that the old monk saw in the undying physique.

Han Bei wanted to bask in the irony that Fang Ming had possibly given him the tools of his own demise, but the echoes and half-dreams that he saw during the rare times he slept prevented Han Bei from feeling anything genuinely positive. Dark memories covered by the mist of his mind just made everything bleaker and he was forced to wonder when the mist parted will there be anything left but regret.

Han Bei shook his head. As time went on it was harder to keep his mind clear, and the reason for that was simple. Han Bei had hit a bottleneck. One that no amount of secluded cultivation or meditation would help him overcome. His body ached for conflict. He felt a need to temper his techniques against actual opponents. The fact that with his increased cultivation, his spirit sense could pick up the silent hatred of the surrounding ghosts more keenly than before also didn't help.

His hands didn't explode after he attempted a strike and it didn't take him half a day to manifest a ghost anymore. Han Bei called out to the old monk that either meditated or as he suspected, slept, " Are danger beast parts in demand in these lands?" The old monk snorted, " They are in demand in every land. " Han Bei nodded, " That's good then," and looked up. It was finally time to stretch his wings.


About the author


Bio: Am lazy

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