Chapter 102 - The Final Stretch
The village chief laughed and said, "Young Master Li, this stone fell from the sky a couple years back. When it fell into our village, it even smashed a large, tile-roofed house. Don't be deceived by its small size—it is very heavy! Just this small lump weighs a few hundred pounds. You can give it a try, and see whether or not you can handle it."
Seeing that Li Yao stood still, the village chief approached him and pulled his hand. "Young Master Li, today, you have helped our village by repairing so many wooden oxen. The overall maintenance cost could easily be over ten thousand bucks, but as the majority of the young men from our village are working outside, with only the old and young left behind, we would not be able to gather so much money in a short period of time. A few years back, an outsider wanted to buy this piece of stone and offered 30,000 bucks. But, I noticed that he had a thievish look, one that was unlike someone who is honest, so I didn't sell it to him in the end. Today, perhaps an ordinary hammer is too light for you, I noticed that while you were using the hammer, you didn't find it comfortable to use. Furthermore, in just a short period of time, it became soft and hot, rendering it impossible to use. When I thought about it, this thing is useless to us and we can not do anything with it since it is just too heavy, so it would be better to give it to you to use as a hammer. What do you think?"
Li Yao shook his head and said, "Village Chief, let me say this in advance: I am still not a registered refiner and am just a half-baked student. What I did was nothing spectacular, so how could I even mention money? Besides, if you take this thing to an auction in some major city, it could be sold for at least 120,000-130,000 bucks. If you encountered some cultivator who was in need of this thing, it could very well sell for 200,000 bucks. I can not take it—it is just too expensive."
The village chief slapped his thigh. "I was right! That thievish-looking brat was really not a good guy. Unexpectedly, he wanted to buy a thing worth 120,000-130,000 for just 30,000 bucks. Really, we village folks don't know anything about goods! But, although we don’t know anything about goods, we can still tell good from bad. In just one glance, I knew Young Master Li was a good person. This thing is perfect for you to use, take it! If not for you, we would have to buy many new wooden oxen. Don’t mention 200,000, it might even take double. It could very well be no less than 400,000!"
Although Li Yao shook his head, his eyes remained completely glued to the Dark Star Rock; no matter how he tried, he was not able to extricate his gaze.
The village chief was an experienced man, so how could he not notice Li Yao’s fondness for it? With a smile on his face, he said, "Young Master Li, how about we don't talk about gifting or selling? For the time being, take this thing with you first. As for whether or not money will be involved, we can talk about this in the future. I know you are a poor student and don't have much money to spare, so let's talk about it again when you have the money, ok?"
Li Yao swallowed a mouthful of saliva, seriously pondered for a bit, and said, "Village Chief, how about this? Although those wooden oxen have been repaired using temporarily-made parts, those parts are, after all, not the original. Although there is not much of a difference in their appearance, they have gone through my destructive transformation, thus their lifespan will not be too high since there had been too much transformation to their internal microstructure."
"I will take this Dark Star Rock first and will go to a major city to determine its value. Once I have determined how much it costs, I will help you exchange the entire sum for the appropriate parts and send it to you. Later, you can ask the town's magical equipment technician to replace them with their corresponding parts. That way, you can reuse it for another 20-30 years. What do you think?"
Every month, Li Yao would receive 30,000 bucks as an allowance for being a Class 1 Federation's Disabled Servicemen. In addition, he was completely exempted from paying the tuition fee by the Grand Desolate War Institution. Considering that he could also receive a premium scholarship, he could, in fact, be considered as a slightly rich fellow.
He had decided to save a year’s worth of money to exchange for spare parts and send it over to these villagers.
The village chief nodded while laughing. "That is indeed good. Quickly, give it a try and see whether or not you can handle this lump of iron!"
Li Yao's pair of eyes started shining. Much like the gaze of someone who was watching the charming figure of a peerless beauty, his gaze was completely transfixed on the Dark Star Rock.
As he bent his waist to pick up the Dark Star Rock, he felt his waist tighten; it was incredibly heavy. To his surprise, even after exerting all his strength, he was barely able to grasp this Dark Star Rock, which was not even half-a-meter long.
However, the feeling of its touch was simply too good. The Dark Star Rock was unlike any metal, which would give off a cold feeling upon touch. Instead, it was as if he was caressing a piece of mahogany that was a couple of years old; it was dry as well as smooth.
And at the thin end of the Dark Star Rock, there were a dozen naturally-grown, circular grooves, which greatly improved the grip.
Having tightly clasped it with both hands, as if his blood vessels were connected with the Dark Star Rock, he felt like he became one with it and could even hear the breathing of the stars inside the Dark Star Rock.
Although this Dark Star Rock could not be refined into some powerful magical equipment, as a hammer, it was the best because it possessed a natural resistance to a variety of spiritual energy; he didn't need to worry about interference from any spiritual energy. There was no better hammer to use to forge materials that contained various kinds of spiritual energy.
This Dark Star Rock, for Li Yao, was just like adding wings to a tiger!
Taking a deep breath, Li Yao swung it in accordance with the and felt each muscle fiber in his entire body moaning in pleasure, giving off an extremely pleasant feeling.
Since just a swinging posture was so relaxing, if this Dark Star Rock was used to forge a variety of heaven and earth materials, it would definitely be so comfortable that it would be like flying in the sky!
In the depths of Li Yao's eyes, a gleam of boundless thirst could be found.
The village chief said with a laugh, "Young Master Li, once this Dark Star Rock came into your hands, you and it were both glowing—you are destined to be together! Hahaha!"
"Village Chief, I really have to thank you. Maybe this meteorite is insignificant for others, but for me, it is an extremely precious treasure which all the money in the world can not buy!" Li Yao earnestly said.
An innocent grin appeared on the village chief’s face as he suddenly strided towards the entrance. Parting the curtains, he yelled towards outside, "Everyone, drop whatever you are doing! Bring out all the liquor we have prepared for new year’s celebration! Young Master Li is going to leave tomorrow, so what do you say? Can we let him leave so easily?"
"Village Chief, you—" Li Yao was suddenly dumbfounded.
Two days later at the vast expanse of the northern plains, an unusually clear sky with thin clouds gave off the appearance as if the sky was particularly high, and the scorching hot sunlight shone upon the land, seemingly turning the entire world into a golden sea.
With its whole body covered in long white hair, a very obese, giant spirit beast was languidly floating over the highway.
Yes, it was "floating".
"Soaring Roar" was a spirit beast that evolved from a large marine spirit beast. Since its body was extremely big and tall, its four limbs were simply unable to bear its own weight, and so, its body had adapted itself and grown sixteen holes underneath its body which could blow air, allowing it to shoot a large amount of air, and by virtue of the subsequent recoil force, it could float in the air.
At the rear of its body, there were four identical holes that could shoot air. Once the air was shot towards its back, its body, which weighed a couple dozen tons, would be able to drive forward.
Its principle was quite similar to the "Hovercraft" used by the federation army.
Because it was air-driven and hovered mid-air, every action of the Soaring Roar was incredibly stable. It could ignore any terrain, regardless of whether it was lakes, swamps, or hills, and so long as it was not a 10,000 rens high mountain, it would be similar to riding on a flat plain. This mode of transportation was extremely loved by the ordinary citizens.
Loaded on the back of this Soaring Roar was a large amount of tea bricks, whose weight was similar to air for the Soaring Roar.
Groaning in dissatisfaction, the Soaring Roar would fling its flexible long nose to the back from time to time.
An old man whose face was completely covered in wrinkles hastily gave it a crab-apple, which was its most favorite food, and also combed its hair and removed the lice. Only then was the Soaring Roar was a little more satisfied.
Li Yao laid comfortably on the tea bricks as his head rested on both his hand. Narrowing his eyes, he looked up into the sky, looking for changes in the unending clouds. With a nose filled with the fragrance of tea and a body tanned from having basked in the sunlight, he was comfortable to the extreme. From time to time, he would even take a nap.
Only god knows how long it was until he finally heard the old man shout, "Little Brother, we have arrived at the Giant Edge Pass!"
"Grandpa Wu, thank you for giving me a ride for a day!"
Li Yao jumped down from the back of the Soaring Roar and lightly landed on the ground a dozen meters below. Waving his hand, he smilingly said goodbye to the old man, hoping that the old man would not discover the 200 bucks that he had secretly stuffed in his pocket when passing by.
Taking a long, deep breath, he did a set of strengthening exercise for the muscles and the bones. Finally, Li Yao had completely recovered from the decadent hangover from two days ago.
He completely did not expect that the wine brewed by the village would be so strong. Even he, whose physique was as strong as a peak martial artist, was unable to support himself and had to sleep for 7-8 hours after having continuously gulped down ten pitchers.
But, he was not someone who would take it lying down. Before he was drunk dead, he had successfully made the entire village tumble down on the ground—from old to young, even the aunts had not been let off.
The next day when he woke up, besides the few kids with runny noses, the men and women and the old and young of the entire village were all asleep!
"This trip, I have seen many incredible sceneries, met many odd and strange people, made a few interesting friends, and have even inadvertently obtained the Dark Star Rock, which is the most suitable hammer for refining. I have truly learned a lot!"
Li Yao pondered in a happy mood.
"The only regret is that I have not found the "feel" that belongs to me. My spiritual roots have still not awakened."
"But, it is still not urgent. How could a cultivator’s spirit be so simple? If just touring the mountains and rivers was enough to awaken the spiritual roots, wouldn't this world be full of cultivators!?"
Li Yao laughed at himself.
After three months of travel and cultivation, he felt that his Spiritual Root Development Quotient had significantly progressed. If he tested it now, it might very well be possible for it to have climbed above 99%.
Especially his forehead, every morning when he woke up, he would always have an obvious bulging feeling, one that felt like the uncontrollable "pillar propping up to the sky" in the lower region of his body. It seemed as if there was something like a bamboo shoot in the depths of his brain, one which was about to break out of his body.
It was almost the final stretch! Once his spiritual roots awakened, he would become a cultivator!
However, this final stretch was not so easy to cross. Many people had been stuck on this 99% for half a year, and even being unable to cross this bridge after 2-3 years was pretty normal.
"Rumor has it that when the spiritual roots awaken, one will feel as if their whole body is burning. They will lose their mind as all their emotions would be a hundredfold stronger than before. Unable to restrain oneself, one could only act in accordance to their desires and act as they please. But, in these past three months, I have never experienced this feeling. It seems that only after entering the Grand Desolate War Institution can I slowly look at my luck."
Li Yao gazed into the distance. The road ahead was still very long, and a wonderful university life was about to start!
"Grand Desolate War Institution, here I come!"
Looking all around and seeing that no one was in sight, for a moment, he acted in childishness as he used both his hand to pound his chest and make a gorilla-like roar.
And the black-winged flying sword, which had not appeared for a long time, drilled its way out from the backpack on his back and danced around him.
In front of them on the boundless desolate piece of land was a towering mountain range which looked like an uplifted back of a giant dragon. However, the center of the mountain range revealed a long, straight canyon which seemed as if it had ruthlessly been made by a giant ax that separated the heaven and the earth.
At the end of the straight canyon stood a lofty, domineering military fortress.
This was also known as the "World's First Impregnable Pass", the Giant Edge Pass!
 Mahogany - A type of wood: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahogany
 Ren(仞) - Ancient Chinese measurement unit equivalent to seven or eight chi( 尺, 1/3rd of a meter)
 Tea Brick - A type of compressed tea: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_brick