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Shen Lin just managed to finish harvesting a row a fruit trees. It was all for his days' work. He used this mission as an occasion to work out and make an additional 20 Ps as well.

Today he had finally saved enough for another cultivation pill at the first-year exchange hall.

 

 

Somewhere in the forest near the village, the sword maidens had found a quiet valley where they wouldn't be bothered by a crowd of other disciples. They were all waking up from a cultivation session.

Liao Zhenzhen clapped. "Come on girls, let's have a quick warm up. Focus on abs and core muscles. We'll jump into the duels right after."

The red head Qin Mei shot her a faint smile. "You better warm up well sister Zhenzhen. This time I'll challenge you to a fight, no weapons and no rules. Let's see how your water affinity helps you dodge punches to your beautiful face."

Liao Zhenzhen didn't flinch. "I'll take you on any time."

 

 

Elsewhere, Wei Muchen was repeating basic sword movements at different speeds. He wouldn't let anyone overtake him, especially that arrogant Yu Tao. He internally vowed that next time he would crush him without using the technique of sacrificing a small part of his cultivation to use qi externally.

Just thinking about last week suddenly angered him. His hands gripped his shiny new sword and whacked the floor.

Whoosh. Crack.

The sword cleaved through the stone tiles.

"Hehe boss, you're already too strong for this training ground. We should pay some 2nd years to take us to theirs. There should be some cooler stuff."

Another follower patted the first one. "No need to pay them, those weaker ones should beg to have the opportunity to be seen well by boss, as he will be able to wreck them in no time anyway."

Wei Muchen turned to face his lackeys. "You lot better keep up with me as best as you can. I won't accept trash following me."

They nodded. They liked to have a good laugh but most were already training and cultivating as hard as they could.

Wei Muchen turned back around and silently caressed the gold medal attached to his robe indicating his position as number 1 disciple. Rank 1 was his and it would remain that way!

 

 

Li An was ignoring the disciples shouting and fighting all around him at the training grounds. The others seemed to leave him alone as well and keep a distance from the bald disciple. Li An was moving his rod very slowly with deep breaths. At some intervals he just completely relaxed and seemed to enter a trance as his rod appeared to move on its own, with Li An dancing around to accommodate it.

 

 

Yu Tao was seated in a lotus position, with a small line of blood tricking down from the corner of his mouth. He was biting his lips hard to avoid screaming. His pride couldn't tolerate that. Behind him, an Elder carefully observed as small lightings repeatedly battered Yu Tao's body. He had been brought to another part of the sect. Yu Tao himself didn't know where this was.

 

 

Han Lingyun was seated, surrounded by crystals containing qi he bought at the exchange hall. Those crystals were enriching his room with qi.

His intuition told him to avoid cultivation pills if possible. Like medicines, energy drinks and more, repeatedly ingesting something might bring side effects. Pills at this level always contain some amount of impurities.

He could now finish a cultivation session in 3 hours. He had to alter his schedule in consequence. He also started to experiment the blackbird at night time, inspired by Wang Yimo's cultivation functioning better under the moons.

Han Lingyun glanced at the only object reflecting some light in the room. It was the sturdy shield he bought for Shen Lin at the Exchange Hall at 150Ps. The lad didn't show it, but he had taken a mental hit at the last ranking competition, being outranked by his two best friends. Han Lingyun looked at the shield and thought to himself that a black coating wouldn't do it any harm.

The feeling of becoming one with the darkness was quite enjoyable for Han Lingyun. He wasn't becoming invisible, but very hard to notice if you didn't focus on his position. The blackbird art didn't focus on staying immobile and silent in the night. It was about rapid, sudden movements that remained unseen and unheard. This made it far more complicated and a necessary step to master its philosophy first.

As for his metal thread treasure? At first, Han Lingyun was a bit clumsy with it. However very quickly he had begun to understand how to use it. The thread was only dangerous when it was tensed up and not loose. An insidious way to kill opponents was to surround them with his thread while fighting, then after making sure he wasn't caught in it as well, abruptly tense it up. The thin thread would effectively dice up the target. When tensed up, the thread could cut through trees and bodies, like a knife in butter. This in itself was quite terrifying as the user could very well dice himself as well with this barely visible thread, if one wasn't careful enough.

The techniques Han Lingyun developed lowered the risk of using this double-edged tool. It would be best if his opponent never realized what he was doing. Han Lingyun continued to train and experiment with the thread's use under day and night conditions.

 

All around, the 1st years were taken in by cultivation fever. They weren't a group of 10 years old; they were cultivators now. Most cultivated with great drive and determination. The rest followed along to not be left in the dust.

 

One day, Han Lingyun remarked with surprise that he hadn't receive any Ps from Elder Wen.

'Did he find a solution or has he judged that he had given me enough Ps already?'

Han Lingyun decided he should pay Elder Wen a visit to find out and he had already planned to visit him anyway.

'By now, Elder Wen should be back to the sect, his meeting should have already ended.'

 

Han Lingyun headed first to the Mission Hall because today was the day Chang Xin being on duty. He smiled when he thought at the Ps he had been steadily receiving throughout the week from the missions he had issued last time.

"How is senior Chang Xin faring today?"

"I've been great disciple Lingyun!' The older disciple responded with a broad smile to his favorite 1st year. "Here, please have a look at those missions, they might interest you."

Just like that, the two completed their weekly transaction.

Han Lingyun nodded as he confirmed the missions with Chang Xin. "By the way senior Xin, I have another mission for 3rd years. It goes like this:

Ask Lei Weimin if he would be interested to pick his little brother to go to market road this afternoon. 10 Ps to ask + 10 Ps if Lei Weimin accepts."

 

Han Lingyun still needed a ride to get to market road but he didn't want to encumber his major with menial tasks like these. Plus, Lei Weimin is a good sport and would surely have some things to do at market road as well, right?

A positive response came back before Han Lingyun even left the Mission Hall, informing him with the mission completion that Lei Weimin would be here in 5 minutes.

'This messaging system is a bit expensive but it's still rather effective. I'm sure the higher ups never intended for disciples to use missions as a way to communicate, hehe.'

 

5 minutes later, at their usual meeting spot.

"Good morning big brother Weimin, I hope I'm not being a burden here."

"How is my little bro doing? Nothing like this, there is always some things to do at market road anyway!"

Han Lingyun braced himself for the huge pat in the back coming.

"Hehe that's good then. I was wondering, big brother Weimin, if there was a way for us to speak more directly?"

Lei Weimin crossed his arms. "Sadly, I don't think so. I suppose that the sect is trying to keep disciples from each year mostly in their own bubble. Well, you could buy messaging talismans but they would be quite expensive and single use only. Those are mostly used for large distances.

Inner disciples and Elders actually also have badges that can communicate and send messages between each other. That's not our case though." Lei Weimin scratched his head.

"I guess your method of issuing a quick mission isn't bad. All right, hop on."

 

Han Lingyun entered the Array Pavilion for the 3rd time. But today, the building seemed more imposing than ever. Would Elder Wen harbor a grudge after giving him around 3000 Ps?

The usual bony disciple holding the counter was talking to an adult disciple who tried to negotiate the price of some items. However, as soon as he saw Han Lingyun entering at the corner of his eye, he quickly accepted the man's terms and shooed him off. The bony disciple presented his best smile at the young newcomer.

"Good afternoon disciple Han Lingyun, please follow me upstairs. I'm sure Elder Wen will see you immediately."

Han Lingyun was taken aback by the disciple's new attitude and followed him wondering what this was all about.

It wasn't 10 seconds before Elder Wen burst into the tea room. He immediately picked the dazed Han Lingyun's hand and shook it energetically, before launching into a deluge of words.

"Disciple Lingyun, what a pleasure your visit brings me. Here, take a seat! I have indeed found a proof to your little problem if that was what you were wondering about. Finding this proof actually brought me some improvements in cultivation. Here, I wrote it all down on this book. You can keep it even though I don't think you'll understand a lot for now."

Han Lingyun was absolutely ecstatic as well. As a person passionate about mathematics, he burned more than anything to read these findings. In fact, this brought him a lot more joy than to win a couple thousand Ps. "R-really! All that is great! GREAT! C-can Elder explain to me the big lines of the proof?"

"Hehe I would gladly oblige."

 

Elder Wen and Han Lingyun started to discuss the method Elder Wen used and its applications to formations in great length, at least the mathematical parts as Han Lingyun had more difficulty following the reasonings around formations. The disciple was drinking this invaluable knowledge. He couldn't wait to reach qi condensation.

 

When the conversation was coming to an end, elder Wen cautioned. "Also, it's my duty to warn you that a very powerful array master became interested in you. This isn't a bad thing, but it wouldn't do you any harm to keep that in mind going further."

Han Lingyun frowned slightly, another element he couldn't control, and he was still so weak. He reminded himself once again that he was still at the mercy of others and had to stay focused on his progress in order to extricate himself from that situation. That reminded him of something.

"By the way, elder Wen, I went to the Cub's Den last time and I was wondering if: one, it was a good idea to save Ps for some of the expensive stuff, and two, what you would recommend for my growth?"

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