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"Miss Yimo? Please enter, how may I help you?"

Wang Yimo made her way into Han Lingyun's little house. "I'm not bothering you right?"

"No, not at all, please have a seat." Han Lingyun was growing curious.

Wang Yimo took a moment to organize her thoughts and started. "I was thinking of changing scenery lately. I chose a hunting mission for a town near the coast. Normally it should be for 5 disciples but I was allowed to take it on my own. Still, I was wondering if you were interested in taking this mission with me."

Han Lingyun scratched his chin. It would be a lie if he said he wasn't interested. Wang Yimo was quite powerful plus a cool girl to get along with, once you get to know her, and they shared some common interests. Since the first outing outside the sect, they had crossed path at night and paused to appreciate the skies twice. Plus, she would definitely not be a burden during the mission.

"How long would the mission last?" Han Lingyun looked into Wang Yimo's eyes.

"It should be 3 weeks. The trip there is one week on a flying treasure."

Han Lingyun lowered his gaze. "I'm very interested in taking on a mission with you but the time is too long. You see, I want to reach qi condensation as fast as possible, not following my plans would be going against my principles. Plus, I'm not too keen on taking missions before reaching qi condensation. There should be a lot more interesting possibilities at that realm."

 

She smiled faintly, a hint of disappointment flashing through her eyes. "Aren't you worried that our strength will grow too far apart to be taking a mission together?"

Han Lingyun faced her again with a grin. "Are you worried that I won't be able to catch up to you? That won't be a problem, don't underestimate me because of my 4th grade talent miss Yimo."

Wang Yimo chuckled. "All right you reassured me here. Still, I don't want to go alone for 3 weeks, so who do you recommend I ask to accompany me?"

Han Lingyun felt relieved. "How about Liao Zhenzhen or Qin Mei? Both seem easy to get around."

Wang Yimo feigned hesitation. "Hum it's a possibility. But why not Qin Tengfei, Li An or even Yu Tao?"

Han Lingyun nearly gagged at the mention of Yu Tao, which made Wang Yimo let out a rare laugh.

As Han Lingyun thought more deeply about her propositions, he realized that he didn't really enjoy the idea of Wang Yimo passing 3 weeks alone with a guy, which was quite peculiar. Still for some reason, it bothered him a lot less when he thought of Li An, Han Lingyun had always pictured this guy as a young monk.

"Would you seriously want to bear with Yu Tao's obnoxious behavior for 3 weeks? And with Li An, if it's some company you are after, it would probably be the same as going alone."

"What about Qin Tengfei then? He has great spear techniques, is quite focused on cultivation and is rather handsome." She teased.

Han Lingyun became a bit embarrassed. "Miss Yimo, choose who you like I cannot decide for you. However, you should be making friends if you want to be less alone and the easier way to make friends if you are a girl is with other girls, because… it can always become more complicated with others."

She chuckled. "A so that's why, thank you for correcting my mistake disciple, Lingyun. What about you then, is it more complicated?"

Han Lingyun leaned back. "What do you think? I think it's all right."

Wang Yimo smiled without uttering another word, then after a prolonged pause, she stood up. "Okay then, I think I have taken enough of your time, disciple Lingyun." She headed gracefully for the door.

"Miss Yimo."

She stopped in front of the door and turned her head around. "Yes?"

"Thank you for presenting me with this duo mission. When I reach qi condensation, I promise that I'll accompany you on a mission." Han Lingyun proclaimed.

"You welcome hihi." She left the house with the wind.

 

As Han Lingyun sat back down, he thought to himself. 'She is indeed quite cute and surprisingly bold, but I can't lose sight of my objectives. Cultivation comes first and I won't be sacrificing cultivation for short term amusements. A cultivator can live for really long times so there is no need to rush things anyway. And I had already planned to take some missions at the qi condensation realm so these arrangements don't alter my plans.'

 

Qi condensation was the true barrier between mortals and cultivators. Body strengthening cultivators had superhuman strength but weren't capable of anything that seemed supernatural in the eyes of mortals. At the Qi condensation realm however, the capacity to control qi outside of one's body to some extent changes everything: cultivators can fly with the right treasures, project attacks and use true magic treasures: those with runes inscribed and that need qi expenditure to be activated. This multiplies qi condensation cultivator's power and versatility manyfold. Being able to wield qi would make an ordinary man turn into a phoenix in a single leap. Cultivators from no background, with poor resources, insufficient talent, or a degraded cultivation manual would never be able to take that decisive step.

 

The crises being averted, Han Lingyun went back to his diligent cultivation.

 

 

In the blink of an eye, the days had shortened and autumn came. Wang Yimo didn't train with the 1st years anymore as she had reached the qi condensation realm. She still came back to the 1st years village to see Qin Mei from time to time though. Wei Munchen had also reached the qi condensation realm before the next ranking competition, which made him sigh in relief as otherwise his first rank would be questioned by others. He couldn't afford to lose out to Wang Yimo in terms of cultivation speed!

Han Lingyun was now at the marrow strengthening stage. His diligent cultivation coupled with his great comprehension capability was already paying off and he had become the fastest 4th grade talent in cultivation other time. He appreciated the fresh air as he walked to the plaza, where Lei Weimin and Zhang Fang were joking around, waiting for him.

"Come here little brother." Zhang Fang waved.

"When are you going to reach qi condensation? You will be able to come visit us then." Lei Weimin gave his usual slap in the back.

It always warmed Han Lingyun's heart to have such big brothers. "It should be in a bit more than a month if there are no accidents." Han Lingyun responded.

"Why so grave, is there a problem? That's great!" Zhang Fang noticed Han Lingyun's ambivalent mood.

They continued to chat as they flew to market road. "Well today I'm not going to market road for fun but to suffer. I'll be consuming a Bone Eating Flower. Have you heard of it?"

Zhang Fang shook his head.

Lei Weimin on the other hand had an idea. "Ah right, Zou Yuan had taken one when he was at body strengthening. It's some expensive stuff though, it seems our little brother has been rolling on those Ps."

They laughed.

Lei Weimin continued. "However, not to scare you little brother, but I heard that Zou Yuan had been in an ugly state for some time, and he is known as the tough kind."

Han Lingyun acquiesced, after using Clear Liquid, he had a good understanding what the painful warnings signified. He didn't admit it, but the previous experience had actually given him nightmares. He had a repeated dream where birds would peck at his eyes and gauge them out. Therefore, Han Lingyun firmed his heart and decided it was even more important to triumph over his demons.

"I'll still do it. Not only will this increase my defense and survivability, it's also a step to work on my excessive pain aversion, too high for my own good in the cultivation world."

"We'll support you little brother, whatever the pain, you'll get out of it stronger."

"Hum."

 

 

"Are you ready for it?" Elder Wen asked with a hint of concern.

Han Lingyun looked at the 15 glasses of hibernating oil placed around the glowing ghost white flower.

This time, elder Guguai hadn't accepted immediately Han Lingyun's purchase, he wanted to know where Han Lingyun had obtained all those Ps. He never had repeat customers in general, as even the very rare 1st year disciples favored by elders received materials directly from there benefactors.

Han Lingyun nearly lost a nerve at this point. He decided to not say anything and presented the situation to Elder Wen who gladly came to the Cub's Den to vouch for him. Elder Wen really didn't care how Han Lingyun got his Ps as long as Han Lingyun wouldn't risk put his life needlessly at risk for Ps.

The two elders didn't talk for long. In fact, as soon as Elder Wen appeared, Elder Guguai had already planned to not raise any further questions. Elder Wen's status had sky rocketed since the last Edera array meet and he had joined the ranks of the truly influential elders of the sect, those with a true chance to reach the Nascent Soul realm.

As they left, Elder Wen reminded his colleague that he never came today and that only he had heard of Han Lingyun among the elders. That was even more important now that Elder Wen had some political power. In exchange, he could advertise his store to the best new coming disciples and their teachers.

 

Back to Han Lingyun facing the Bone Eating Flower. He glanced at Elder Wen, nodded and took one glass of hibernation oil. The sensation was very unnatural, it felt like some sort of viscous coating was applied to his mouth, throat and insides. Han Lingyun felt like he was drinking liquid paint fraught with chemicals. The taste was even more atrocious than the texture.

Han Lingyun drank another glass of hibernating oil to be sure. He now felt the urge to puke. With a focused mind, he reined it in and threw the Bone Eating Flower in his mouth.

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