Ying Muo lifted his bowl and gulped a mouthful of soup as he tore another piece of bread and stuffed it into his mouth, exclaiming, “Delicious! It’s been a few days since I’ve eaten this well.”
12th wasn’t worried, as he ate he said, “Although wild boar meat is very aromatic, the meat is too thick and stringy; the texture isn’t very nice.”
Ying Muo smiled and said, “You’re quite picky. For those of us who just get by in the wild, we’re lucky to have anything to eat at all, and when it’s dire we’d even eat things raw, haha.”
12th said, “Delicious food is one of the pleasures of life! Don’t give it up so easily.”
Ying Muo didn’t care if he was scalded, as within a few minutes three large bowls of soup and many pieces of bread disappeared into his stomach. He was so fast that 12th didn’t even have time to be surprised.
“Haha, it’s an old habit. In the wildlands we have to eat quickly, in case anything happens, so I won’t fight on an empty stomach……” Ying Muo swallowed a large mouthful of hot soup and said, “This Mysterious Land…… I’ve been there before!”
At that 12th’s eyes suddenly sparkled with interest. Having someone familiar with the Mysterious Land introduce it to them could save a lot of time. Luo Jie and Qi Nan Shan immediately came over. Ying Muo smiled glibly and said, “Another bowl, a little more meat…… 12th, this is truly delicious, and that’s not an empty compliment!”
Qi Nan Shan said, “Oi, Ying Muo, spit it out, don’t tease people like that!”
Ying Muo said, “Wait a moment; wait ‘til I’ve finished this this bowl of meat……”
Qin Lang watched Ying Muo with disbelief, feeling deeply surprised inside. Ying Muo wasn’t anything like the legends in which he was said to be highly temperamental and had no disposition in killing. If anything he seemed to be very easy going.
Ying Muo slowly ate the meat and drank the soup, completely ignoring Qi Nan Shan and the others’ murderous eyes. After he was content, he set down his bowl and said, “Everyone should know that on the grasslands, the most famous Mysterious Land is the Mysterious Land of the Crazed Beasts. It’s been investigated for hundreds of years, but there are still areas that are completely unknown.”
Luo Jie nodded and said, “Yeah, the Mysterious Land of the Crazed Beasts in the Southern Fu Sect is similar to the Mysterious Land of the Inferno in the Northern Fu Sect—both are large scale Mysterious Lands.”
Ying Muo nodded, “This is a predetermined Mysterious Land with a predetermined entrance, which makes it suitable for the Great Sects to occupy. However, there exists an infinite number of Mysterious Lands, each with their own speciality. This Mysterious Land is what’s called a Restrictive Mysterious Land. It limits the number of people able to enter, haha, sixty years ago, when I was still a Fu Warrior Master, I entered it once.”
12th asked, “Was it dangerous inside?”
Ying Muo nodded, “It was very dangerous. That time over seven hundred people entered…… hmm seven hundred and twenty to be precise. Back then I was a member of the Crimson Demon Cavalry, and I didn’t know that this Mysterious Land had limited number of people who can enter. Over two thousand people from my Cavalry came, however less than half of us were able to enter, and the Mysterious Land just closed as soon as the limited number of people went through. We only discovered this property when we counted heads inside.”
“Haha, only seven hundred and twenty people entered, when we came out guess how many were left?”
“You weren’t the only survivor were you?” asked 12th.
Ying Muo shook his head, “It’s not that extreme, when we came out only just over five hundred people were left, we lost over two hundred people. I advanced to a Fu Warrior Grandmaster in there! There’s a giant sacrificial altar inside, which was a shame because at the time we didn’t realise what it was. By coincidence I camped the night there, but when I came out, I found out that I had advanced.”
Luo Jie exclaimed, “Sacrificial altar? A Fu Immolation!” He was a FuZhou Grandmaster so of course he knew of such a thing.
This was Ying Muo’s deepest secret. He already knew that Luo Jie is a FuZhou Grandmaster and not just a Zhou Grandmaster, this inquiry can only be understood by a Fu Grandmaster or a FuZhou Grandmaster, after he mysteriously advanced, he never forgot about that altar, this is his deepest secret.
“What’s a Fu Immolation?”
Luo Jie blushed, which showed his excitement. He said, “It’s a thing of legend that I always thought was fake, but…… Legend has it, there’s this type of Sacrificial Altar that can extinguish any and all obstacles of advancement. It’s unknown as to who invented such a thing, but it’s very mystical. I had always thought that it was fake, but who’d have guessed that this sort of thing exists.”
12th said, “Isn’t that cheating? Regardless of which path, as long as you go to the altar, you can advance, that’s absurd!”
Luo Jie shook his head, “Not just anybody can advance, it must be someone who has reached a bottleneck. Ying Muo back then must have been very close to advancing, otherwise he wouldn’t have advanced.”
Ying Muo nodded, saying, “No wonder…… So that was why. At the time there were three Fu Warrior Masters camping at the altar for the night, and afterwards I was the only one to advance.”
12th thought deeply, thinking that this sacrificial altar was connected to the spirit somehow, otherwise it wouldn’t stimulate Ying Muo’s advancement. He said, “Mister Ying Muo, how about you come with us? Take us to check the sacrificial altar out.”
Ying Muo nodded, as he said, “I’ve brought a few friends, thinking about trying our luck. Too bad I only know now that we must be at a bottleneck for it to work…… Alright, I’ll take you there. I remember the location of the altar very clearly.”
12th asked, “Other than the altar, what else is in there?”
Ying Muo shook his head, “No idea. We only stayed for fifteen days until we got thrown out.”
Shocked, Luo Jie said, “Fifteen days? That short a time?”
Ying Muo nodded and sighed, he said, “Yeah, the time frame was far too small, we only made it in a bit. This Mysterious Land is very big, thinking about it now…… I think it opens every sixty years.”
Luo Jie and 12th smiled at each other, the two of them both have the Fu Door’s Spirit Fu, as long as they enter it once, then they can enter it at will.
Ying Muo hadn’t noticed Luo Jie’s apprentice’s minor movements, he continued to say, “There are a lot of Fu Insects inside, as well as a lot of Variant Fu Insects too. I guess that it has something to do with the sacrificial altar, as last time that we entered this Mysterious Land it was because of our encounter with three Fu Insects that we lost over two hundred people. Even though we killed them in the end, we ended up losing too many people.”
12th said, “The ones who died were the unfortunate lower levelled ones, right?”
Ying Muo said, “Yeah, we counted ourselves lucky that we hadn’t encountered any Variant Fu Insects, otherwise we’d have lost many more people.”
Luo Jie said, “Ying Muo, bring your people here and move with us, we should be able to enter tomorrow.”
Ying Muo set down his bowl, saying, “I’ll be back shortly.” as he turned and left.
Luo Jie waited until Ying Muo was out of earshot and asked, “12th, where did you set your coordinates?”
“I set them just outside of Qin Guang, so once we return to the Northern Fu Sect I’ll reset it to home.”
Luo Jie said, “Good, this time when we enter the Mysterious Land, record the location of the sacrificial altar…… haha, it’s a precious thing. To think that it exists, this Mysterious Land is more important than anything. You have a lot of brothers who are stuck at a bottleneck and are unable to advance.” His face was flushed red, for with the Fu Immolation, it meant that many of his disciples can advance to Grandmaster level, which also meant that his position in the Northern Fu Sect would rise too.
12th laughed, “Congratulations Master!”
Qi Nan Shan smiled too, “Elder, this disciple of yours…...he’s quite the lucky charm, haha!”
Luo Jie affectionately patted 12th shoulder, and said, “Mhmm, I never imagined that at my age I would still be able to find such a young disciple like you, haha. 12th, you really are my lucky star.”
Qi Nan Shan nodded, “Yeah, you bizarre, little, lucky star.”
12th called, “Hey, Grandpa Nan Shan, is that supposed to be a compliment?
Elder Du, with two Fu Warrior Grandmasters of the Maelstrom Cavalry, negotiated with Feng Yuan and Ma Shang Dian of the Black Eagle Cavalry extensively, and after some heated debate and some fierce competition, finally reached a mutual agreement. Because neither side wanted a fight to the death, and since both sides had misgivings, the only solution was a negotiation.
The Maelstrom Cavalry had three Grandmasters so they occupied fifty percent, the Black Eagle Cavalry had the remaining forty percent, as ten percent goes to Luo Jie’s small group. As for the vagabonds that wanted to enter, they were completely ignored. Only the spaces that were given to Ying Muo by 12th remained.
As soon as the sun rose, Luo Jie’s group was ready. 12th said, “We’ll enter first, for if we lag behind, who knows what problems will arise.”
Qi Nan Shan was in front and Ying Muo led a group of friends at the back. His friends were all Fu Warrior Masters, there were at least thirty of them and Luo Jie and 12th were in the middle. They all ignored the Maelstrom Cavalry and the Black Eagle Cavalry, and went straight for the Mysterious Land’s entrance. This group of people had three Grandmasters and one pseudo Grandmaster; the rest were mostly Fu Warrior Masters, so nobody dared to oppose such a strong force.
Elder Xie’s eyes spewed fire, staring at Luo Jie’s group entering the Mysterious Land with hatred. Elder Du said, “Elder Xie, calm yourself, wait until after we return from the Mysterious Land!”
After Luo Jie’s group all made it through the Mysterious Land entrance, Elder Du called, “We’re going too! Try to charge your way through. Those of you that were unable to make your way in,flee immediately, do not linger here!”
Feng Yuan also gave such an order, and at that moment the campsite was a giant mess, with many vagabond groups taking this opportunity to charge through the Mysterious Land entrance too.
As such, a bloody battle ensued……
By that time, Luo Jie’s group already disappeared through the forest.
This Mysterious Land was comprised of countless mountains peaks, the interesting thing about these mountain peaks being that they were all isolated from each other. If there was a way to fly above the Mysterious Land, then it would be clear to see. The ground was dotted with mountains that were distributed randomly, but the surrounding area of each mountain was flat land, so it looked like a chess board, every square has one mountain, and surrounding each mountain was flat land.
On the ground, there are various species of trees. It wasn’t a particularly dense forest, it is quite thin, and the tree trunks weren’t very thick either as the thickest trunk there wasn’t thicker than a bucket, while the majority of branches are no thicker than a fist. The season inside the Mysterious Land was similar to autumn, different to the early winter season of the grasslands. The air was very comfortable, and the leaves had just started to turn yellow.
12th said, “This place is very strange!”
Luo Jie laughed, “There’s nothing strange about it; the Mysterious Lands are all bizarre beyond compare. Once I saw a Mysterious Land that was comprised entirely of underground cave networks, making it impossible to go up, so I got stuck in there for the better half of a year until we finally got thrown out…… other than finding some mineral ores, there was practically no reward. Haha, the Mysterious Lands do have a degree of peculiarity.”
12th smiled, “Haha, that must have been frustrating. Hopefully this expedition will yield better results.”
“If the sacrificial altar really exists, then this will be worth it.”
Ying Muo was at the forefront, leading a few friends to scout the road ahead. The Fu Insects here were formidable, so he rode his war-horse carefully, making as little sound as possible. Normally, the war-horses would be too loud if they ran, however, the foliage on the ground was thick enough to act as a carpet so the horse’s hooves were near silent.
A day’s time flew by without problem. There were no encounters with Fu Insects and barely any with the usual wild beasts.
Ying Muo stopped at the base of the mountain peak and said, “We’ll camp here tonight!”
Luo Jie and the others rode around the area while 12th surveyed the lay of the land. The area looked good: there was a large cliff face behind them, flat land beneath them and a stream nearby too. They had good vision on all sides which made it a great place to camp for the night.
Everyone cleared the foliage from the ground and put up the tents. 12th said, “Last night was too hectic, so tonight I’ll train everyone. Huo Bao, go set up a slightly larger tent next to the cliff face.”
Huo Bao motioned for the others to help him set up the tent while Chen Hong uncomfortably carried the Hidden Fu Bag and followed 12th.
12th occasionally took items out of the Hidden Fu Bag. One such item was a very large piece of beast hide that he laid on the ground. Huo Bao chopped a few branches, removing the leaves and extra stalks, to build the tent frame.
Chen Hong was a little flustered, so everything she did had a mistake. 12th knew that the girl was troubled, so he excused himself to find his Master. That was when Chen Hong calmed down.
Luo Jie, Qi Nan Shan and Ying Muo sat in a circle on top of a thick piece of beast hide. 12th plopped down next to his Master, “Master, I’m gonna train Huo Bao and the others tonight. They should be close to advancing.”
Ying Muo laughed, saying, “Haha, nice timing given that we’re just about to go to the Altar. It’s a shame that they’re only advancing from Fu Warriors...… I think this Altar’s most effective when someone advances from Fu Warrior Master to Fu Warrior Grandmaster. That hurdle… who knows how many Fu Warrior Masters died trying to overcome it.”
Luo Jie replied, “A Fu Warrior Master’s advancement is the easiest of all of the paths; the advancement for other paths are much harder…… As long as you’re a good Fu Master, Fu Warrior Master is very possible……If the Altar is specifically for Fu Warrior Masters, then its value lessens considerably, haha. Though I would quite like to experience the mythical Sacrificial Altar of legend,.”
12th gleefully laughed and asked, “Master, with your age you ought to be at a bottleneck as well right?”
Luo Jie’s eyes flashed for a moment and then dimmed. He said, “To be honest, I don’t even know what’s after FuZhou Grandmaster, so I don’t even know if I can advance.”
1“I think there should be a higher level,” said 12th, “that man we met some time ago…… he’s definitely above the Grandmaster level.”
“Grandmasters…… can still advance?” asked Ying Muo.
Qi Nan Shan said, “It should be possible, only here the consensus is that reaching Grandmaster level is the pinnacle, but in other places…… that’s not necessarily true.”
Ying Muo asked curiously, “Other places? What places?”
12th answered, “Since we can enter the Mysterious Land here, that also means that there are other entrances too, only we don’t know of these other places.”
Shocked, Ying Muo exclaimed, “That…… that’s not possible! If it’s possible…… then there would be outsiders coming here. How could we not know?”
12th pondered the question, before saying, “I don’t know. Maybe there’s some sort of restriction.”
Luo Jie sighed, “The secrets of the Mysterious Lands are many, and what we understand is just the tip of the iceberg.”
“Even the tip is still very shocking.” noted Qi Nan Shan.
The three old men continued to lament and sigh. Depressed, 12th said, “Can you three geezers stop sighing like the end of the world has come! It’s not that bad.”
Luo Jie sighed as he said, “Being young is so easy, neither responsibilities nor a care in the world…… how easy is that!”
Seeing 12th’s exasperated, speechless expression, Qi Nan Shan and Ying Muo erupted into raucous laughter.
Three unscrupulous old geezers teasing a child is when 12th could see himself as an actual child. He stretched and announced, “I’m gonna go train Huo Bao and the others. You three geezers please continue your conversation without my presence……” If he sat back down, he would just be a target for the three old men to tease endlessly. He refused that job.
Huo Bao and the others finished setting up the tent. This was a large tent, big enough to house five or six people and it was quite spacious. 12th moved to the center of the tent, brought out a wooden platform and set it down on the floor. He then revealed ten Fu and set them in specific positions. This was his home-made portable training platform.
Using Light Fu to train was the most reliable and the most common method. Ninety percent of Fu Masters used Light Fu to train their followers, but 12th had already transitioned to using Blood Fu for training. Blood Fu was rarely seen, as only a highly skilled person could create it, also the materials used to create it were hard to obtain, meaning that Blood Fu couldn’t be used by very many people.
Ever since they started using Blood Fu to train, Huo Bao and the others have increased in power, so they’ve already almost reached the point of advancement. This next training session with Blood Fu was especially important, so 12th was very careful. Originally they were going to train yesterday, but changed to tonight so that he would have a better grasp of things.
“Huo Bao you’re first, Hong Shi get ready, Chen Bing wait a bit and Chen Hong will be last.”
This wasn’t the first time Chen Hong trained, and blushing as she voiced her agreement, she ran out the tent and waited outside.
Huo Bao stripped off all of his clothes and sat bare-skinned on the training platform, saying, “12th, this time train my arms. I always feel like my arms are lacking in strength.”
“Strength in the arms come from the waist. How much strength can you have from just the arms?” This was 12th’s experience from his previous life. In his previous life, although he wasn’t proficient in martial arts, he still learned it for a while. In his elder years, he even spent a long time training in Tai Chi, so he had certain knowledge when it came to martial arts, and with it the understanding of how to use his strength.
Huo Bao confusedly asked, “The waist? How does arm strength have anything to do with the waist?”
12th usually didn’t think too much about Fu Warriors’ training, since he’s seen the strength of people like Qi Nan Shan as well as the terrifying offensive power of Fu Warrior Masters. He never thought that martial arts from his past life would be a better alternative to Fu Warrior Master’s abilities, but seeing Huo Bao’s impulsive and confused actions, he began to doubt.
After considering for a moment, 12th said, “First we’ll train the body, then we’ll get to that problem. Huo Bao, I am more knowledgeable when it comes to training the body so…… I won’t train your arms, I’ll increase the strength in your waist.”
Huo Bao trusted 12th’s judgement completely, and without second thought he smiled, “Alright, then carry on with what you had in mind.”
Training four people was a very tiring job, each person took over an hour and after nearly six hours of training, 12th was exhausted. Concentrating his spirit for so long was an arduous task. After training, he immediately headed to his own tent, chanted and then went to sleep.
The chanting made 12th’s sleep more efficient. He only needed two hours to completely recover from his body and spirit’s exhaustion. The night was uneventful, and at dawn 12th promptly woke, stretched his body, and fully awake he left the tent. He went to the stream, washed his face and then proceeded to practice the nine fundamental movements. This was a basic exercise, so there couldn’t be a single mistake.
Huo Bao and the others all got up too and began their morning training. Soon the whole camp ground bustled with movement.
The Fu Warriors and Fu Warrior Masters were all doing the morning routine training, even masters like Qi Nan Shan and Ying Muo were also took part. Using Fu to train the body was just a part of the training, the actual skills and techniques have to be learnt and practiced—it won’t suddenly appear—so everyday’s practices are essential. Only after months and years of training can the Fu in the body meld together and become one’s own power. As such the path of the Fu Warrior was a very arduous journey.
One hour of training every day, whenever they had time, everyone could stick to it.
12th finished his training and was walking around the camp site. He was watching the Fu Warrior Masters’ training and made comparisons to the martial arts techniques that he had learnt in his previous life.
The problems with something “good” can only be revealed when that “good” is compared to an “alternative good”. 12th discovered a problem when comparing the two. The people here relied too much on raw power. He thought this through and then understood that with absolute power technique seems less important in comparison, so people favoured increasing raw power, meaning they lacked technique.
If they had both power and technique when two combatants were equal in power, the one with technique would win.
Martial arts in his past life was primarily focused on technique, but when it came to raw power it was completely incomparable with this world’s Fu Warrior Masters. Fu Warrior Masters already have terrifying strength, let alone a Fu Warrior Grandmaster. If there was someone like this in his past life, then they’d have become a god.
As for Fu Warrior Grandmasters, when it comes to increasing power, it won’t be as intense as Fu Warrior Masters. They will begin to focus on the use of techniques, but the problem is that they are already used to having such incredible strength and because of that their technique became a rather incidental, if not redundant, exercise. Having it is good of course, but without it didn’t make any difference either. This was the difference between his past life and now.
12th thought to himself that if he could adopt the techniques from his previous life and continued his training, with the added use of Dark Fu to train the body, his body’s condition would be pretty good, as well as adding a form of self defense. Should a FuZhou Master ever let a Fu Warrior Master in melee range, the dangers could be fatal. If he trained in martial arts, maybe he could protect himself from a Fu Warrior Master’s attacks.
“12th, food’s ready!”
Chen Hong’s childish voice was heard. 12th replied and ran over. Eating was a big deal, it could not be taken lightly. Ever since his spirit awoke, he always had a great appetite, which made 12th very happy. He was terrified of starvation in his past life, so he loved to hide food to keep for himself and eat luxuriously.
12th was the type of guy who could only relax when his belly was filled. As long as there was food to eat, he was content. He didn’t really care about anything else.
After finishing breakfast, they collected their belongings, took down the tents and everyone mounted their horses and left.
12th rode to Ying Muo’s side and asked, “Mister Ying Muo, how far is it left to the Sacrificial Altar?”
Ying Muo was slightly depressed as he asked, “12th, why do you call me Mister and not Elder?”
12th smiled and answered, “You don’t look that old.” That brandish comment made Ying Muo extremely happy.
T/N: It was hard to translate this bit because in Chinese we distinguish between the elderly and the middle-aged. In English, it’s all just ‘Mister…’, so instead of thinking ‘Elder’ here as a formal title, think of it more as a title for a more elderly person.
Ying Muo smiled and said, “It will take two more days to get there, it’s not too far, but the best new is…… there aren’t any strong Fu Insects from the Mysterious Land entrance to the Sacrificial Altar, haha. Last time when we left the Sacrificial Altar, we only ran into a lot of Fu Insects when we went deeper. Not sure if the situation has changed now though.”
12th said, “Sixty years…… that’s a long time. I don’t think things will go as smoothly.”
Ying Muo facepalmed and sighed in exasperation and said, “Did you have to be so accurate!?”
“Fu Insect detected, prepare for battle!”
12th wordlessly watched the field in front of him, thinking to himself, “Me and my big mouth……”