The early morning sun had already risen and the lively grass shone with a gentle glow from within. As the birds danced among the laden trees and sang sweet melodies of a new day, Zhen Shi realized that he was once more in that training courtyard.
It was only yesterday that he had begun his training to practice the utilization of qi through the qi paths in his body. But just like before he was once again determined to work hard on his training.
His mother, Xie Li, was standing in front of him with her hair fluttering in the light morning breeze. She smiled saying, \"Shi, child, your father informed me that the search for his friend has been unsuccessful so far and that his return will take longer. So until he returns, I'll be taking care of your training...
But since I have another student under my tutelage, they'll be joining us as well,\" and gestured towards the entrance of the training courtyard.
Almost immediately, a figure dashed through the entrance and charged towards him with great speed. This figure was extremely fast and Zhen Shi was unable to compare to this speed even with his Elementary Qi stage 3 cultivation and the training from yesterday. As such, he was tackled down on to the ground with him giving out a childish squeal of surprise.
Nevertheless, he glared up at the all too familiar culprit who was now sitting on top of his stomach. This culprit was his sister, Zhen Xixi, a young girl with straight black hair tied up in a bun and dressed in fiery orange robes.
She smiled haughtily down at him almost as if she was celebrating her victory. Slightly bending down to get closer, she whispered playfully to him, \"Hey little brother. Do you know that you going around and cultivating so fast makes things difficult for me? They say that I'm skilled too... and even though I've reached the foundation establishment stage in three years, that can't compare to your stunt of completing qi formation in a couple of hours!\" and finished with a pout.
Zhen Shi cheekily whispered back, \"Of course, the only reason I cultivated so fast was to make things difficult for you!\"
Hearing his mischievous reply, Zhen Xixi was speechless for a moment.
On the other hand, Xie Li couldn't help but smile at the sight of her two children playing around. Nevertheless, she coughed loudly and spoke sternly, \"That's enough. Shi'er, Xixi'er stand up and prepare for training.\"
Hearing her voice, as if the world was about to end, Zhen Shi and Zhen Xixi hurriedly stood up with their backs straight ready to follow her instructions.
Observing their actions Xie Li nodded in satisfaction and walked up to Zhen Shi. She placed her index finger on his forehead and said, \"This is a mortal tier grade 4 punching skill of the Zhen Clan. It has rather limited use in battle, but it is very useful for practitioners of the mortal realm to become more familiar with their qi paths, purify and train the use of qi. Your sister has been practicing it for a while now, and even now this skill is still useful for her.\"
Instantly, the punching skill was transferred to Zhen Shi's mind through her finger and appeared within his memory. Zhen Shi excitedly read through it, only to realize that it was a rather simple skill based on the repetition of the same identical punch. The only special fact was that there was a unique and complex method of directing the qi through the fist qi paths.
But the fact that skills were imparted like this made him wonder why he had received his cultivation technique in a book...
Almost as if she understood his thoughts, his mother spoke up, \"This punching skill can be easily shared through memory because it is rather simple, especially when compared to a complete cultivation technique. As such there will be no problems with the transference process.
Besides, instantly gaining memory of a cultivation technique will interfere with the understanding that you would normally get when you have to manually read and understand in order to remember.\"
Zhen Shi contemplated her words for a moment and finally nodded in understanding.
Seeing that Zhen Shi understood the truth behind the matter, Xie Li smiled lightly. Then she took a single step back, clapped her hands and shouted, \"Begin. Do not stop until I tell you.\"
And so Zhen Shi and Zhen Xixi obeyed her command and began to execute the punching skill.
While his sister executed each punch with practiced ease and immense power, Zhen Shi struggled terribly, with extremely weak punches. While her terrifying punches caused the wind to explode, his weak punches barely caused a light breeze.
In fact, his punches weren't even as strong as those of the night before. This was because this skill required the execution of an extremely complex method of utilizing fist qi paths.
But at the same time, he could feel himself improving, with each punch. And so with determined eyes, Zhen Shi continued...
A light wind blew by causing the lush tree leaves to rustle in the midday sunlight. At the same time, a strange clapping sound repeated over and over.
The air exploded under the punches which combined the strength of the two siblings. Zhen Shi's face was contorted in pain and covered in sweat as he continued to force himself to execute the technique. On the other hand, his sister looked totally relaxed as she continued to punch with ease.
Despite the terrible pain and fatigue he was suffering from, Zhen Shi had improved quite a bit over the hours of practice and he now had better control over qi. However, his punches were obviously much weaker than that of his sister's. But that was to be expected... he had a much lower cultivation level and less training.
Seeing her brother going through so much pain, Zhen Xixi finally broke the silence and spoke out, \"Little brother, let's take a break...\"
Zhen Shi shook his head resolutely and with determined eyes said, \"No, I can't stop. Mother asked us to stop only when we collapsed onto the ground!\" and continued to punch out. Despite his strong words, his hands shivered in pain with each strike...
Unable to continue watching her little brother suffering, Zhen Xixi grimaced and muttered, \"Fine then have it your way...\" Immediately, she turned to the side and pushed Zhen Shi to the ground, making sure to control her strength.
In his tired state, Zhen Shi was unable to dodge or even exert any strength. As such he was easily pushed down and fell on to the grass which softened the fall.
Despite the fact that his muscles were celebrating being able to rest, he raised his head and glared angrily at his sister.
On the contrary, Zhen Xixi began to laugh and spoke amidst bouts of laughter, \"There you go. Since you 'collapsed onto the floor', you can stop now right?\"
It was now Zhen Shi's turn to be speechless at her mischievous reply. Nevertheless, he found himself joining in with her infectious laughter and it was only minutes later that they stopped.
Immediately, Zhen Xixi plopped down on to the ground next to her brother. For the next few seconds, they both admired the laden trees and the soft relaxing wind in silence, with smiles on their faces...
However, staring at the ground, Zhen Xixi traced her index finger along the petals of a wild and ordinary violet flower growing in a patch of grass nearby. With her eyes on the violet, she whispered, \"Little brother, why are you training so hard? You barely started yesterday...\"
Zhen Shi turned to her in surprise wondering why she posed the sudden question.
But before he could even think of a reply, she shook her head derisively and whispered, \"Shine!\" Instantly, she clicked her fingers causing a magical and lively energy to appear around her fingers. With a flick of her hand, the energy rushed towards the violet and began to combine with it.
Zhen Shi stared in awe at this familiar but mystical sight of his sister's divine blessing.
As the lively energy slowly infused into the violet, it began to shine like a jewel under the sun. At the same time, streams of pure multi-elemental aether began to manifest out of nature. Almost as if the aether was attracted to the shining violet, the aether rushed forth and nourished the flower.
As the violet continued to absorb the aether, a miniature whirlpool of energy formed around it.
In fact, as they watched, the flower began to transform. Like a caterpillar breaking out of a cocoon, the violet evolved. The petals opened, the color of the petals intensified, the stem strengthened and the violet simply became... more real.
Moments later, by the time the energy whirlpool died down, the flower was glowing with bright splendor and spirituality. With its stem a lively green and it's fresh petals a deep purple, the violet exuded a refreshing fragrance of life. Even the earth and the grass around it were nourished by its aura.
Just like that, Zhen Xixi had transformed an ordinary flower into a spiritual treasure!
She curtly plucked the flower off the ground. While admiring it, she whispered with a radiant smile, \"Is your goal to become stronger? My goal is to create beautiful things and make people smile...\"
Zhen Shi hurriedly spoke up with a proud tap on his chest, \"In that case, elder sister can work on creating beautiful treasures. You won't have anything to worry about... since I'll protect you!\"
Zhen Xixi giggled at her brother's words. Shaking her head she grabbed onto his shirt, surprising Zhen Shi, and curtly pinned the violet onto his shirt.
With the flower touching his body and it's fragrance reaching his nose, Zhen Shi's body felt refreshed. Even his fatigue and tiredness reduced greatly. In fact, even the rate of absorption of qi of his body increased. These were the results of just being close to a spiritual treasure!
Smiling at him she spoke up, \"Then I'll be waiting until you become strong enough to back up your claim.\" Pointing at the violet she said, \"And that... should help.\"
Zhen Xixi's smile grew even wider as she suddenly spoke out with excited eyes, \"Little Brother shall we play spirit hunters again? It's the most fun game that you came up with!\"
But just when Zhen Shi was about to agree to his sister's idea, suddenly the sound of loud footsteps was heard from the entrance.
Zhen Xixi gaped in fear and whispered, \"It's mother!\" with all thoughts of playing thrown away.
As the sound of footsteps grew closer, she hurriedly stood up and pulled Zhen Shi up as well. And just as they had expected, their mother entered through the doorway. But, despite their worrying, she only lightly glanced at them.
And the fact that they weren't still practicing seemed to have eluded her... She smiled at them and turning to Zhen Xixi she said, \"Xixi'er, it's time for your sword training. Master Wu Dang is waiting for you.\"
Zhen Xixi hurriedly said, \"Wu-shi has returned? I'll be going then!\" and excitedly ran away. She turned around for a moment and playfully stuck out her tongue at Zhen Shi.
Leaving no time for Zhen Shi to retaliate, her figure immediately disappeared through the doorway...
But suddenly his mother loudly clapped her hands bringing him out of his thoughts. She shouted in a serious and angry tone, \"Shi'er, why are you resting? Continue the punching routine!\"
The wind blew through the courtyard causing the laden trees to rustle peacefully. The sun had just begun to set, and as such, the sky was a beautiful mix of orange and red.
The wind clapped as Zhen Shi continued to execute the punching routine. While he could sense qi much better than before, it was only a small improvement. And to make matters worse he was very tired and even his breathing had become erratic.
But the violet flower in his shirt scattered a calming scent and energized him with each breath. As such, despite having trained for hours, he was nowhere close to reaching a level of fatigue as he had on any of the previous times.
Suddenly, his mother's voice rang out, \"Alright, that's enough. Shi'er you may sit down now.\"
Despite the fact that he wasn't as tired as he was last time, the moment Zhen Shi heard her voice, he plopped down on to the floor and began to rest.
At the same time, his mother walked over and sat down next to him. Giving him a moment to rest, she softly caressed his wet hair in silence.
But suddenly, Zhen Shi turned to her and asked curiously, \"Mother, Elder Sister is doing her swordsmanship training... When can I begin mine?\"
Xie Li smiled lightly and answered, \"It is way too early for you. To begin your specialized training, we need to check your affinity first. And to do that, you need to at least reach the foundation establishment stage!\"
Then she continued in a rather serious tone, \"On that note, while resting is extremely important, for today you will not be allowed to rest completely. Cultivating immediately after strenuous exercise of muscles and qi control is rather effective. Thus you'll attempt to cultivate after we go over the steps you have to follow.
You should listen very carefully, especially since your special physique is apparently unable to enhance your cultivation as easily as before.\"
Zhen Shi nodded with determined eyes. He was definitely going to work hard to catch up with his elder sister!
His mother continued speaking, \"Just like I mentioned before, the main objective of the qi refining stage is to refine the qi strand. That means removing any impure or unsuitable qi and leaving only the pure qi suitable for you. This is very important since the presence of impure qi will bog down your body preventing you from further progress,\" and finished rather sternly.
\"But since you've already gone through your cultivation technique you should have already understood what you need to do. So explain to me what you know,\" she said looking at him expectantly.
Zhen Shi immediately answered from memory, \"The qi refining stage is much more difficult than the qi formation stage. This is due to the inherent absorbing nature of the qi strand. A qi strand can be defined as a mass of gaseous qi which tends to attract more qi towards itself in order to become even more stable.
While this is useful in the qi formation stage, it makes the qi refining stage very difficult. To even separate a small amount of impure qi we will have to exert a lot of effort and energy.
The solution to this problem is similar to fighting fire with fire; to prevent the qi strand from attracting more qi, we have to use the power of qi as well!
Every time we gather aether from nature and pass it through our qi paths to strengthen attacks or practice fighting techniques, we generate power.
By doing the same process, closer to the dantian, we can use the created power to destabilize the qi strand. And once it becomes unstable, removing the impure and unsuitable qi will be much easier.\"
Xie Li nodded in satisfaction at her son's accurate description and spoke, \"That is completely correct. But also remember that by refining the qi strand, the purity of the qi within your body will automatically increase.
Since the qi refining stage generally takes a longer period of time to complete... you will only be able to sense your progress with small changes like that...\"
She continued in a serious tone, \"Keep in mind that great patience will be required to progress. And even if you are still a child... you'll have to work hard!\" with emphasis on the word 'patience'.
Xie Li then spoke with a reassuring smile, \"Go on and give it a try.\"
Zhen Shi obediently closed his eyes while moving into a meditative position. By last night, Zhen Shi only had a vague understanding of the qi refining stage. But following his mother's advice, he had read through the cultivation technique several times and had even asked many questions from her.
Thus by the time the morning dawned, he had a much better understanding. His hard work followed by his mother's enlightening explanations and teaching gave Zhen Shi a very clear idea of what he had to do.
And so with closed eyes, Zhen Shi heaved light breaths as he slowly began to practice his cultivation technique. With every cycle of qi flowing in his qi paths he felt energized and refreshed. With the reassuring presence of his mother close by and the spiritual scent of the spiritual violet, his mind calmed down even further...
He began to direct the qi towards the qi paths close to his dantian, and the moment some energy gathered, he hurriedly attempted to destabilize the qi strand. But failed... resulting in the momentary loss of his focus.
Almost as if she recognized his problem, Xie Li began to hum a beautiful relaxing tune. As the song passed by his ears, Zhen Shi realized that this was the very same tune that his father had hummed last time...
Zhen Shi took a deep breath as he calmed his mind once more. With the spiritual violet refreshing his body and mind and the beautiful tune in his ears, he steeled himself and with great determination tried once more. His mind was now free of restricting thoughts...
And so he calmly allowed the qi to remain in the dantian qi paths while generating a considerable amount of power. Then he carefully directed this power towards the qi strand.
A slight vibration of energy washed out as the qi strand destabilized. Zhen Shi immediately made use of this situation to identify a speck of impure qi.
Impure qi was much darker than any type of ordinary qi and appeared as strange black specks. This fact became particularly obvious the moment the qi strand became unstable, making it very easy to identify the impure qi.
He then directed the impure speck of black qi away from the qi strand and finally made it leave his body... Or at least tried to...
Because at the same time, a sudden change occurred. Unseen by Zhen Shi, the primordial chaos base within his dantian exerted an attractive force on to the impure speck of qi. So just when the impure qi speck was about to leave his body, to Zhen Shi's surprise, the impure qi was dragged back towards the dantian and finally disappeared inside.
And almost as if the primordial chaos base had just become aware of the presence of impure qi, it began to automatically drag out all the impure qi from his qi strand. And so as Zhen Shi watched on in surprise, all the impure qi in his qi strand was dragged towards his 'chaotic dantian' and finally disappeared within.
Unseen by Zhen Shi, the moment the impure qi reached the mass of primordial chaos, it greedily gobbled all of it up, in the same way, that a cat would gobble up a mouse.
But the primordial chaos didn't stop there. It suddenly began to attract all the impure qi in his body. This included the impure qi that had seeped into his qi paths and even the impure qi that had merged with his body over time. And just like before, the moment this huge amount of impure qi entered the dantian, the primordial chaos gobbled all of it up.
In general, impure qi is something that plagues many cultivators. In fact, the removal of impure qi is a long process that continues throughout the entire mortal realm. But in Zhen Shi's case, the primordial chaos base had completely removed all of it in a few moments, instantly giving him a head start and an easier path to tread compared to all of his competitors!
But as a child, he wasn't totally aware of this fact just yet. Nevertheless, he could sense the phenomenal change that had taken place within his body. With the removal of impure qi, Zhen Shi could now control qi and sense his qi paths much easier than before. At the same time, he could feel that his body had lightened and strengthened by many folds.
In addition to this, his qi strand which had completed the refining process was now shining brightly with a beautiful light green color...
By now his mother's humming tune had stopped.
As such, Zhen Shi quickly opened his eyes and turned to his mother in the same way he had done on the few occasions before.
Xie Li's eyes were widened as she finally stammered out, \"D-Did you just complete the qi refining stage and breakthrough into the Qi Refining 6th Stage? And I can't even sense a speck of impure qi within you...\"
She finally broke out in laughter while Zhen Shi stared at her in confusion.
Shaking her head she caressed his hair with pride in her eyes and spoke out, \"Shi'er, were you waiting to embarrass your mother like this? Cultivating to this stage in a few moments, especially after I advised that you'd have to be patient...\"
The series of memories stopped at this point. Zhen Shi was confused for a moment as he tried to wrap his head around what he had just learned. These memories were incomparable to a simple transfer of knowledge like the punching skill, and Zhen Shi couldn't help but feel that these were his own memories...
Nevertheless, seeing his cultivation rise up in a few moments he couldn't help but celebrate in his mind, 'Now this is what you call cultivating!\"
With new-found power to back him up, Zhen Shi raised his head to 'confidently' stare at the ten Xue Yue cultivators. But the moment he sensed their powerful aura exceeding his own power, he couldn't help but gulp audibly.
'In fear? Of course not... there was just something stuck in my throat!'
Nevertheless, Zhen Shi stared warily at these cultivators who were much stronger than he was...