Han Lingyun entered a new rhythm. Starting at the qi condensation realm, a cultivation session didn't function in long cycles like at the body strengthening stage. In practice, cultivators at this realm could have short cultivation sessions of less than 10 minutes or could continue for 10 or even 12 hours straight.
As Han Lingyun worked on his understanding of the blackbird art, he didn't leave out his cultivation sessions. His great visualization capacity really came in handy for the blackbird art here and Han Lingyun progressed at breakneck speed. When most would focus on tedious repetitions to acquire some automatisms, Han Lingyun improved nearly on every attempt.
After merely one week of intense concentration coupled with cultivating sessions, Han Lingyun's fighting capacity had taken a huge leap forward.
The description for the 2nd level of the blackbird art focused on the qi abilities. A striking improvement came in the profundity of the movements; this martial art's foundation was movement based after all. Han Lingyun marveled in his ability to maneuver at speeds that would only leave after images for the untrained mortal eye. The greatest point was that he could abruptly change directions as well while still maintaining his speed. Han Lingyun stronger body in comparison to ordinary qi condensation cultivators helped him cope with the stress these rapid movements and change of directions imposed on his body. The forces in play were starting to get quite intense after all.
But achieving this result was far from being straightforward. The movements combined precise qi applications throughout the body and releasing a very faint qi barrier just in front to lower the air resistance. Of the various skills presented in the 2nd volume of the blackbird art, it was still the easiest skill to learn as the qi emitted didn't have to be precise and controlling qi inside the body was more intuitive.
Han Lingyun also managed to merge his presence with his environment to some extent but for now he couldn't maintain it while moving. Carrying out those two actions at the same time required to concentrate on each one separately, while coordinating the qi applications. Han Lingyun had to divide his thoughts somehow. This would only come with more training as it was a monumental task.
As for the qi projections? Han Lingyun had managed to launch invisible blades and release a faint black fog, but the radius was pitifully small…
There was also the skill that consisted in releasing a black fog around the practitioner, making him invisible and robbing the opponent of their perception. But to be honest, for now Han Lingyun's black cloud looked completely ridiculous as it only surrounded him for less than one meter, rendering it completely useless.
On the other hand, the invisible blades dispersed after 1 meter as well could still prove useful, especially to surprise the enemy at a crucial time.
This 2nd level of the blackbird art covered nearly all the aspects of the perfect assassin, making one wonder where it came from and why it was so special compared to the other martial arts at the library.
After that week of hard work, Han Lingyun was satisfied with his progress and judged his movement improvements to be enough to allow himself to venture out and finally meet back his parents.
Han Lingyun still passed by the Punishment Hall to inform an Elder that he was leaving the sect. Disciples couldn't normally leave the sect without taking a mission but his new status as the first non-5th grade talent to reach qi condensation warranted some leeway and the elder didn't object to Han Lingyun's request. The one listening to Han Lingyun demand was quite understanding and just created a bullshit mission near the City of Cemone for the form.
After nearly 11 months, Han Lingyun was retracing the path he took on a flying sword to arrive at the sect. Less than a year ago, he was only a boy a special aptitude for math, with an amazement for the cultivators that suppressed his fear of heights.
Now he was able to come back alone, as a full fledge cultivator. He could be proud of his improvements.
As he approached the town of Cemone, Han Lingyun felt a little estranged by the large fields punctuating the unending forest he was passing from above. In fact, the more he advanced, the more a peculiar uneasy feeling started to emerge in his heart. His intuition was giving him warning signals and his tension level started rising up.
Han Lingyun was starting to worry about his family. Could there be that something has happened to his parents? One year was neither short nor a long time for a mortal but a lot could happen in this span of time. He himself had changed so much.
Han Lingyun landed a couple of kilometers before reaching his home town and dig a small hole on a hill with a weird looking tree. He hurriedly placed his badge in the hole and covered it back up. Han Lingyun wanted to rush straight away but he was also a bit paranoid about the sect being able to determine his position with his badge and didn't want to point to his parents' house.
Now that he was so close to his home, he was beginning to be frantic. The unease in his heart had continuously grown as he was now recognizing the familiar city from afar. He felt as though the city of Cemone was too quiet! His face sunk as he realized the vulnerability his parents would be in when faced with cultivators or magic beasts.
After hiding his badge, Han Lingyun headed directly to his house as he began to stress more and more. He even began to imagine all sorts of terrible things happening to his home.
His panic faded as he spotted his house still standing on its hill. Unable to contain himself anymore, he dropped in front of it and yelled. "Mum! Dad! It's me I'm home."
The house remained silent for an unnerving couple of seconds.
Suddenly, Han Lingyun sensed some movement in the house and tensed up. What was not his relief as his mother jumped out of the door and hugged her precious boy.
"Mother!" Han Lingyun's eyes nearly teared up after this reunion and his worries disappearing in an instant.
"O Ling'er! I missed you so much. I'm so glad you are all right and back." Han Xue gently squeezed her child.
Han Lingyun couldn't contain his tears as he sensed his mom's warmth and boundless love.
Han Feng soon grabbed the mother and child duo in a big hug and caressed his son's head like he used to. He quickly came to a realization. "Lingyun, you have grown up so much in one year! You are not even 11 but you are taller than the average 15-year-old teenager!"
Han Lingyun wiped his tears of joy and laughed. "Hehe, that's because of my cultivation."
He had a ton of things to describe but was interrupted by a loud wail. It came from inside the house.
Han Lingyun's body tensed back up as he realized that there was another living being in the house but quickly became confused when his parents didn't show any hints of surprise.
Han Xue looked at her husband and took her usual reprimanding posture "Did you just leave Luli'er alone?"
"Why are you looking at me, you where the one to storm off first!"
The three hastily made their way to the house where a comfortable crib was holding an adorable baby girl who was crying and gesticulating.
Han Xue hurriedly comforted her.
Lingyun looked at his father with a questioning gaze. The man gently patted his son's back with a wide grin and proudly declared. "That's right, you have a new little sister, she's named Lilu and is not yet 2 months old."
Han Lingyun didn't know how to react. He was dazed and very happy at the same time but all this was quite new for him.
Han Xue beckoned him as she kissed her daughter and made the little one laugh with some tickles. "Come here Lin'er, say hello to your little sister."
Han Lingyun approached and Han Xue placed his baby sister in his arms. He felt completely overwhelmed by this little life that stared back at him curiously with her big round eyes. They shared the same blood and Lingyun had the instinctive urge to protect her with all he had.
Lilu raised her little hand toward him and Han Lingyun allowed her to feel his face. Her giggles hinted that she enjoyed this a lot and his big brother responded with a kiss on the forehead.
However, after some time the baby started crying again and Han Lingyun became embarrassed because he didn't know how to calm her back down. Han Xue took back her sister from his hands and gently rocked her until she fell asleep.
Han Lingyun let out a long breath. That was a lot to ingest! The family sat around the table and Han Lingyun began recounting his exploits this year and all the extraordinary stuff surrounding cultivation. Han Lingyun still held back some details such as the incredible pain he had suffered from when he ate a Bone Eating Flower and some more concerning facts like the killing between disciples.
His father seemed to enjoy it more than Han Xue though. He still managed to read between the lines the danger that his son had been through. "Be sure to be careful Ling'er. The whole family would be devastated if misfortune befell on you."
"Don't worry about me mom, my safety is always my number one concern over progress.
Speaking of concerns. I have a very presumptuous request…"
"Go ahead Lin'er"
"I-it doesn't sit well with me that some cultivators could potentially trace you back because the sect knows I come from Cemone. It's a big taboo in the cultivation world to threaten a cultivator with his family but I also learned during the year that this world could be ruthless and unfeeling when important benefits where at play, and rules are easily bended in that case."
Han Lingyun didn't dare to face his parents. Cemone was their childhood's town after all. "So, for your safety and to reassure me, could you perhaps move away?"
Han Xue caressed her son and crouched to face Han Lingyun lowered face. "My little child, it's all right, we will just move if that reassures you. This house is nice but it's not irreplaceable. We also don't want little Lilu having to face any unexpected dark circumstances."
"Come here for another hug my baby." She pulled him to her chest once again.
"Mom I'm not your baby anymore." Han Lingyun faintly protested.
"You'll always be my baby."
Han Feng didn't raise any objections as well; he understood that Han Lingyun was probably right. It wouldn't hurt to be careful with this unknown and vast world anyway.
Once the decision to move was taken, the family started to search for their next destination.
At the same time, Han Feng decided he would retire from his high paying job at elitist universities in the capital. His occupation was well known from his neighbors and someone targeting the family could find him with ease with this information. In addition, he had already accumulated enough money to live in relative comfort for the end of his life. This was still a big jump to take though but Han Feng took it without batting an eye. It would be time for a change of lifestyle!
Han Feng proposed to move closer to the capital. That way they could find more affordable houses and calmer neighborhoods while Han Lilu could still have access to the best education at the capital and not be too far from her parents if she followed the academic path. With Han Feng and Han Xue as parents, the possibility of that happening wasn't small.
Han Lingyun would have most certainly aimed for the highest universities to become a scholar if he hadn't embarked on the road of cultivation.
Han Xue agreed with her husband and they settled on smaller cities near the bustling capital.
They also thought about the problem of Han Lingyun needing to find their new location without informing everyone else. They came up with a simple plan, when the family settled in a new house, Han Feng would make a trip back to Cemone and hide a box containing their new address at some predetermined location in the forest.
On his side, Han Lingyun would always head to Cemone and leave his badge before going to find his family at their true location.
All this was most likely an overreaction but Han Lingyun felt a weight leaving his chest. He couldn't accept any harm being done to his family, even more with his adorable little sister now!