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Cultivating in this valley gave Gu Yu a sensation he had never felt anywhere else. Not only was his Qi circulating more smoothly, his exhausted spiritual essence was recovering at a noticeable speed. This place with over a double density surely was a blessed spot—at least a knock-off one. The effect was evident.

Numerous small animals had lost their heads as they fought for the fruit alone, until the only thing left of them was a pile of bones. Had human cultivators learned about this place, imagine what turmoil they would set off.

"..."

He sat by the stream for a period neither too long nor too short before opening up his eyes. Snuffling, he blurted out, "Do I smell soybean paste noodles?"



"Here, you're right on time for it." Xiaozhai had spread the picnic cloth on the ground. Handing him a lunchbox, she asked, "Already recovered?"

"Yep, faster than I expected."

Looking into the lunchbox, he saw plump noodles wrapped in a sauce which was of perfect thickness. He grinned, "Never thought I'd be able to eat soybean paste noodles here."

"Never ill-treat your stomach unless you can't help it." Picking up a stick of noodle with a small fork, Xiaozhai tried it and commented in a less than satisfied tone, "This paste is a bit dry. I'll choose another brand next time."

Her words made Gu Yu think that the noodles did not taste so good. However, two bites into the noodles and he was amazed. "This is really good. You're too harsh on your food."

"Hey, I like the way you put it. I'll give you a thumbs up for that."

"Of course, every word from the bottom of my heart."

He meant it; Xiaozhai had nailed the noodles. Especially by pairing them with the cucumber, the cool and refreshing taste was mixed into the warmth of the noodles and the watery tenderness enveloped the softness. The texture was almost velvety smooth in the mouth.

The two bickered on as they ate their meal, turning the occasion into a picnic. What was more, with the unique landscape here, they almost felt as if they had entered an idyllic land secluded from the outside world... or would have felt that way if not for a pile of bones on the ground not far from them.

Xiaozhai was not a big eater and set the lunchbox aside after eating half the noodles. She asked unexpectedly, "By the way, what were you practicing just now?"

"The method of consuming natural essences."

"The method of consuming natural essences?" She was visibly moved by the name.

Gu Yu found her reaction strange and asked, "You've heard of that name before?"

"Yes, it was included in my research… what was the thing you did to those mosquitoes, then?"

She had asked about it before when they were catching the snake and this was the second time she brought it up. He was no longer concealing it and replied honestly, "It was a conjuring skill called 'Boundless'."

"Conjuring skill? Haha, I thought it was an immobilizing one," Xiaozhai laughed in spite of herself, looking somewhat amused.

"Come on, did it seem that cheap?"

Gu Yu was embarrassed. He could not blame her though, for each time he performed it, the influenced party acted as if they were completely muddled, which did remind the onlookers of an immobilizing trick.

He ran the words over in his head and tried to explain, "This skill would use one's emotions as the inducer to drag one into an illusion, hence the stunned look on their faces. I'm not experienced enough to perform it for long and can only maintain the vision for a couple of breaths' time."

"Could one die from it?"

"Well, the description of this skill was way too brief to make it clear and I haven't tried to kill with it either," he replied with resignation.

"You talked about using one's emotions. Are you saying that you can control them?" Xiaozhai asked another question.

"It's not quite controlling them, but I can direct them…" Gu Yu finished the noodles and put down the lunchbox. "To put it plainly, I can plant a seed in your mind, releasing certain emotion of yours. It could be happiness, sorrow, horror or surprise."

"Awesome!"

Hearing that, the girl's eyes were flickered with excitement. "Try it on me!"

"No way! That's too dangerous!"

Gu Yu was taken aback and refused her right away.

"What's so dangerous about that? Aren't you supposed to guide me?"

"The answer's still no. What if something goes wrong?"

"Stop worrying about the 'what-ifs'. You should think 'what if we made it'."

The debate went on for a while and he failed to talk her out of it. In the end, he resolved to saying, "In that case, we'll give it a go. I'll withdraw the illusion at once if anything does not seem right."

"Great!"

Xiaozhai moved to another spot, crossed her long legs and sat down, keeping her back ramrod straight.

"Ready…"

Still secretly vexed, Gu Yu bent the fingers of his left hand, then flipped out. A wave of fluctuation enveloped Xiaozhai instantaneously.

The girl watched his movements. As soon as his fingers flicked, she sensed that her consciousness was intruded by a magical energy, which then led her thoughts and logic towards certain direction that she found reasonable under the influence. [1]

That was as far as she could sense for herself, then everything became a blur all of a sudden.

"..."

Gu Yu kept his eyes fixed on her, extremely anxious. The girl's countenance was calm and smooth like water without a single trace of delight, which surprised him very much, for the seed he planted should produce happiness and joy and she should only see happy things in the vision. Why couldn't he detect anything from her?

As all sorts of speculation went through his head, Xiaozhai came to herself as her eyes refocused.

"How was it?" He asked immediately.

"How long was I in there?" She replied with a question.

"Usually I could maintain the illusion for as long as six breaths, but it only took you three to wake up. Just as I suspected, the way this skill works depends on the state of the influenced party. The more powerful their minds are, the shorter the illusion will last."

"Yes, that sounds reasonable." She nodded and added, "This skill almost activated instantaneously with no warm-up time. I could feel my mind being interfered with, which should work as a suggestion, convincing people that what they see in the illusion are real.

I experienced something and met some people in there. Then all of a sudden, I found them ridiculous. As soon as that thought came to me, I was out of it."

"..."

A light suddenly flashed in Gu Yu's mind, as if the clouds were brushed aside, revealing the moon behind them. [2]

Of the four cultivation factors, namely money, companion, method, and location, money was ranked first and companion second—it was not limited to couples, but also included other relationships such as teachers, friends, family members and students.

Why had he not been able to fully understand the conjuring skill after obtaining it for such a long time? He had no cultivation companion!

The person he needed had to be trustworthy, share common understandings with him, have a mind strong enough to withstand the illusion and the ability to depict it precisely afterwards… in other words, Xiaozhai was pretty much the only one that fitted all the requirements.

With her description, Gu Yu grasped the power of the Boundless immediately—it did not lay in the ability to create illusions, but the fact that it could insert a sense of false reality into one's head, making people confuse it with the real world.

It also helped him to answer the question: if one died in the illusion, what would happen? The answer was, their minds would be eliminated as a result! Even if they survived in reality, they would remain in a vegetative state.

In this case, the rating he gave to the power of this skill was raised significantly right away. When his spiritual essence was abundant enough, he could take lives as easily as flipping his hand.

That time when He and Li were thrown into the illusion with the snakes, they were not killed even after seeing themselves mangled, which was exactly a demonstration of Gu Yu's lacking power—he could not push them hard enough into believing that "I am dead".

From here, could he assume that the truly powerful cultivators were strong enough to manipulate the illusion to the extent that they could play the mortal world in the palm of their hands?

'Tsk!'

Realizing that, Gu Yu stood up at once and bowed to Xiaozhai. "Thank you so much!"

"Don't mention it!"

Chuckling, Xiaozhai sat where she was and accepted his gratitude with no intention to decline it. He then straightened up and after some hesitation, asked again. "Well, what did you see in there?"

"..."

As soon as his words came out, the smile on her face faded as she shook her head, "It was nothing."

"..."

They had been getting along so well, but it turned into pure awkwardness because Gu Yu could not keep his curiosity at bay.

Their conversation was much sparser after that. Seeing that it was getting late, they packed their bags and got ready to go back. As the saying went, one should not trek the mountains after dark. They should get themselves to somewhere safe before the sun set completely.

With the experience of their journey in, the two of them wasted no time when they entered the thorny woods and started running wildly right away. Those black mosquitoes recognized the two cocky passers-by from a while ago and were immediately agitated, starting a maddening pursuit after them.

However, the two came prepared. Knowing the way they were going by now, they jumped and hopped in the dark woods like two human-sized birds. Within no time, they were more than halfway through the forest. In the end, Gu Yu did not even have to use his illusion trick and they made it through the perilous land with the help of their physical strength alone.

[1] ED/N: It's pretty unclear about this logic, but it was certainly in the raws (it wasn't even a Chinese word, but a loanword, and the pinyin luoji suggests it may be one taken from English (loanwords from EN to CN are always pretty strange, like dishi = 'taxi'). I surmise that it means that MC has the power to make her find something illogical logical (so for example, while washing your hands before a meal is logical, he could influence you to think that it is washing your hands DURING the meal that is logical instead).
[2] ED/N: Long story short, it's a poetic way to say that he suddenly understood something he was unable to understand for a long time.

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