Chapter 8: Harvest

Emotions always flare up temporarily, and eventually, one has to return to a steady track.

Yu Ci lay exhausted on the ground, indifferent to the muddy water beneath him. He spread his limbs wide and gazed blankly at the rain-soaked sky. The raindrops brushed his cheeks, gradually calming his overly stirred emotions.

The touch of the storage ring in his palm was real, but the ring itself was now completely empty.

Once rationality took over, a feeling of heartbreak also surged: too much, too much! In his ecstasy, he had poured out everything from the ring and then kicked it all into a mess. The previously neat spoils were now in disarray. If any valuable items were damaged, wouldn’t that be a huge loss?

However, what Yu Ci was most curious about was whether the belongings of a Tongshen cultivator could show him a new world and temporarily satisfy his curiosity.

Driven by this thought, Yu Ci sat up and saw the scattered items within a radius of over ten feet. Despite groaning, he laughed heartily. His mood was complex and hard to describe.

The rain gradually stopped, but due to soaking in the muddy water, about half of the spoils were already ruined. Without caring whether there were valuable items among them, Yu Ci pushed them aside and started sorting the remaining items.

The first valuable item Yu Ci found was a stone box containing shrimp whisker grass. Opening the lid, Yu Ci clicked his tongue lightly. Inside the box, layers of shrimp whisker grass were laid out, each stalk complete and of high quality, likely carefully selected by Daoist Yan.

A rough count revealed there were at least seven or eight hundred stalks in the box. Combined with Yu Ci’s own collection, it was more than enough to exchange for a Talisman Sword. This alone made him feel that risking his life was worth it.

Next, he picked out eight jade items. One jade slip, about four inches long and two fingers wide, with a yellowish hue, was set aside by Yu Ci. Then there were seven small jade tokens, each palm-sized, of average material but engraved with intricate patterns using typical talismanic techniques. Yu Ci immediately thought of the common talismans used among cultivators.

Jade talismans! These were definitely jade talismans! Made of jade, pre-engraved with talismanic patterns to store talismanic power, and used in battles for instant activation. This was a very useful method. Being his specialty, Yu Ci was particularly interested, carefully examining them one by one, identifying the talismanic systems, and then carefully storing them in his storage ring.

The last intriguing item was a miniature dagger only an inch long, resembling an art piece but complete with blade and handle. However, such a size would be impractical for anyone, let alone a burly man like Daoist Yan.

Initially thinking it was a trinket, a small test revealed its blade to be extremely sharp, capable of slicing through stone like mud. The material was also very tough, able to withstand the edge of the Nine Yang Talisman Sword. After a long inspection without understanding its purpose, he decided to temporarily store it away.

By now, the pile of miscellaneous items had been sorted, leaving the seven jade talismans, the jade slip at hand, and the earlier acquired Nine Yang Talisman Sword. Was this all the wealth of a Tongshen cultivator?

Yu Ci felt both excited and a bit disappointed but quickly dismissed any greedy thoughts. He calmed his mind, and once his emotions settled, he focused on the jade slip in his hand.

During his time in the Twin Immortal Sect, he had encountered such items multiple times. He knew they were used by cultivators to store various information and techniques. However, like storage rings, without the ability to separate consciousness, ordinary people couldn’t explore their mysteries. Otherwise, when he had stormed into the Great Immortal Zilei’s palace, he wouldn’t have taken only a book of the “Supreme Celestial Qi Gathering Secret Talisman Manual.”

A slight mental effort towards the jade slip resulted in a series of well-organized information pouring into his mind, faster than reading any book. Yu Ci quickly realized the jade slip contained not a cultivation method, but the “refining” method Daoist Yan mentioned, detailing the entire process of refining a Talisman Sword into a Pure Yang Talisman Sword.

This was interesting. Yu Ci had come to Tianlie Valley to obtain a Talisman Sword and find a way to improve his talisman techniques to ultimately advance his cultivation. After this hard-fought battle, he not only got the sword but also the method to refine it to a higher grade. More importantly, he broke through the barrier of the “Three Mortal Obstacles,” becoming a true cultivator. The wonders of the world were indeed amazing.

Yu Ci didn’t continue reading. He placed the jade slip along with the Nine Yang Talisman Sword into his storage ring. He then transferred various items from his body, like the book “Supreme Celestial Qi Gathering Secret Talisman Manual” and his personal bag of treasures, into the ring, lightening his load considerably.

Only then did he glance at Daoist Yan’s headless corpse. He had no intention of cleaning up this place, leaving the corpse here to be devoured by wild beasts and birds. If he had died, Daoist Yan would probably have given him the same treatment at best.

Yu Ci then returned to the forest clearing where the incident occurred.

The rain had extinguished the campfire, and Daoist Yan, busy chasing him, hadn’t tidied up the place. Twenty-two mut!lated c0rpses lay as they were at the moment of death. The strong smell of blood still lingered, temporarily not attracting others but drawing some wild beasts ready to feast.

Yu Ci waved his sword to drive away the beasts, but looking back at the corpses, he was momentarily stunned.

However, he was decisive. He quickly gathered the bodies together, added dry firewood around, and placed Daoist Yan’s head in front.

Once everything was ready, he stood beside the piled c0rpses, calmed himself slightly, and made a gesture, invoking the soul-guiding celestial crane, connecting with the sun and moon, and trailing cloud energy. A coiling dragon followed, guiding souls to heaven. A set of soul-settling talismans was instantly completed, with spiritual light spreading over the corpses.

Only then did he step forward, raise the Nine Yang Talisman Sword, infuse it with true Qi, and ignite a blazing fire. The corpses were soon engulfed in flames, turning to ashes.

In this wild mountain wilderness, burial wasn’t an option. He could only use ancient shamanic rites, hoping their souls could rest in peace.

With the flames roaring, Yu Ci stood aside, with twenty-two stone boxes neatly arranged at his feet. Holding the sword ceremoniously, he prayed silently for a moment before opening one box to reveal the neatly arranged shrimp whisker grass inside.

After a brief hesitation, he finally grabbed the precious herbs and threw them into the fire. One followed another, and soon, all twenty-two boxes were opened, and the shrimp whisker grass was thrown into the fire one handful at a time.

Each box contained dozens to a few hundred stalks, totaling around fifteen hundred. They were all tossed into the flames, turning to ashes with their original owners.

Perhaps this pile of ashes contained hidden selfishness and vile thoughts, but their owners had died in the midst of joy. As the last survivor among them, Yu Ci felt he should do something, and this was the best way he could think of.

Thus, Yu Ci didn’t feel like he was wasting valuable resources, nor did he feel particularly noble for doing so. He just felt at ease, using this method to distinguish himself from the murderous Daoist Yan and gain the right to bring peace to the dead.

***

Another night fell, and Yu Ci sat in the central depression at the base of the mountain peak, with the empty moon directly overhead casting its clear light upon him.

This was his new refuge, a place he had spent most of the day searching for in the dense forest atop a mountain peak two hundred miles from the battleground of last night. Nestled within a pine forest, it formed naturally among the rocky outcroppings, with a cliff behind providing shelter from wind and rain. Below, a group of pines stood guard, ensuring complete concealment from below.

Despite its fewer escape routes compared to last night’s safer location, Yu Ci paid no mind. He was eager to understand the true extent of his cultivation progress. Finding such a secluded and quiet place already proved his patience.

Initially intending to enter meditation immediately, Yu Ci found his mind unable to settle, feeling off. After some thought, he suddenly realized why and shook his head with a smile, retrieving the mirror from his storage ring. Over the years, he had grown accustomed to meditating with the bronze mirror in hand; stowing it away now felt awkward.

Seeing the faint traces of burnt eyebrows and hair in the mirror, he chuckled and patted its surface, making a face at his reflection, “Old friend, I still need your guidance!”

The bronze mirror remained silent as Yu Ci laughed heartily, still firmly grasping it as he began his meditation.

Sitting quietly under the moonlight, bathed in its radiance, his breaths were as gentle as threads, harmonizing with his contemplation. The connection between his thoughts and his acceptance had always been complementary. With each breath, he absorbed the essence of the moon into his five internal organs, stimulating the circulation of Qi, which in turn nourished his organs and stimulated his spirit, promoting its growth.

However, today was different. In the past, the moon’s radiance had always guided the circulation of his Qi within his Niwan Palace, elevating and descending. But now, stirred by the moon’s essence, this cycle extended beyond his Niwan Palace, moving from the lower dantian to the upper dantian, ascending to the celestial palace and even beyond, as if intending to visit all celestial palaces. (G: Niwan Palace (泥丸宫), Chinese acupuncture term located around the head. If you drew a line connecting the ears and another line from where the eyebrows met to the back of the head, the place they connected was the Niwan. This place had many names. The Niwan, the mind-sea, the soul depository.)

Every inch of movement of the moon brought immeasurable changes in Qi dynamics. His flesh, organs, bones, and acupuncture points all responded with subtle and delicate reactions, like faint sounds in the quiet of the night, seeping into every inch of his muscles and veins.

Yu Ci’s mind naturally merged with the moon above, traversing the nine palaces, experiencing the novel sensations within.

Perhaps due to his complete focus, he gradually forgot his physical presence and ceased to concern himself with the distribution of the nine palaces. It felt as if he existed within the moon itself, wandering through boundless emptiness, following its waxing and waning phases.

As he traversed, he suddenly felt a change. The boundless void remained, but the moon, like a boat, carried him drifting through a sea of stars, where spiritual lights shone brightly. Constellations spread out, billions of stars densely packed in the vast sky, limitless and magnificent.

Amidst the journey of the moon, he saw no end, no beginning, no top, no bottom—only the endless expanse of the starry sea, radiant with light. Yu Ci sought to establish connections, yet his thoughts found no foothold, sensing the vastness filled with countless hidden resonances, intertwined yet chaotic, their true nature elusive.

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