Five minutes into his training, Li Yundong noticed the first sign of progress . The movement had been subtle and slight (just a tiny jolt), but it was there and he saw it with his own eyes .
Indeed, if the whole thing had taken place before Su Chan came into his life, he would've assumed that his eyes were playing tricks on him . Or, at the very least, he would've ducked under the table for cover because he thought an earthquake had hit Tiannan City .
Now it just filled his heart with joy .
Li Yundong shot a glance at Zi Yuan, wondering if she had noticed the fan's subtle movement as well . Her eyes were still closed, and she still had that serene expression on her face . Clearly, she hadn't noticed it . Or if she did, she had dismissed it as something trivial and totally unworthy of her attention .
Li Yundong closed his eyes and touched his hand to the fan's surface once more . Then, he channeled more Zhenqi into the fan, holding nothing back this time . While he worked, he kept track of the fan's reaction .
The fan didn't move again after that, but he knew he was making progress because the resistance against his Zhenqi was gradually weakening .
He kept working and working until the fan started to move again . However, this time it wasn't just a simple jolt, but a strong and persistent vibration . He opened his eyes and released a long breath; a jet of white gas shot out from between his lips when he exhaled .
The Fan of Seven Treasures was shaking like crazy .
Li Yundong flinched when it suddenly spread open to reveal its leaves . But before he even blink, the fan closed up and took the shape of a Bo staff once more .
For minutes on end, Li Yundong just sat there and watched the fan's movements . The fan slid and thrashed violently against the floor, opening and closing on its own once every few seconds or so . The whole display gave him the impression of some kind of giant bug having a seizure on the floor .
It was creepy as hell .
Li Yundong stole a glance at the clock . About an hour had passed since he began channeling his Zhenqi into the fan .
He looked back down at the fan, which was still twitching around .
He hadn't expected to make this much progress in just an hour's time . Well . It seemed like the process might not take long after all .
"No breaks . " Zi Yuan's stern voice pulled him out of his thoughts . "Keep going until it acknowledges you . "
Li Yundong looked up from the fan . Much to his surprise, Zi Yuan's eyes were still closed .
"Right now it's at its weakest," Zi Yuan continued . "This is the best time to subdue it and secure its allegiance . Don't waste the opportunity . "
Li Yundong nodded even though he knew that Zi Yuan couldn't see him with her eyes closed—or maybe she could, who knows .
He took a deep breath and returned his focus to his Vital Orb, where his Zhenqi swirled around with unparalleled vigor . It still amazed him sometimes how far he'd come .
After a while, he was interrupted by Zi Yuan's voice . "Open your eyes and take a look at what's happening . "
The fan was no longer moving about; instead, it lay completely still on the floor . If it weren't for the golden glow on the fan's surface, he would've thought that his attempt had failed . Then, upon a closer look, he realized that the golden glow on the fan's surface wasn't uniform at all: it seemed to be following the path of his Zhenqi as it moved around inside the fan .
He shot a questioning glance at Zi Yuan .
"Focus," Zi Yuan snapped . "Eyes on the fan . You're almost there now—"
The Fan of Seven Treasures shot into the air and then spread open like a peacock's tail .
Li Yundong stared at the wonderful sight before him, unable to say a word .
"Come on . Give it more Zhenqi," Zi Yuan said without taking her eyes off the fan . "This is a good sign . "
Li Yundong pushed wave after wave of his Zhenqi into the fan . As he did, the golden glow began to spread across its leaves . One thing about the fan did jump out at him: the inscriptions of the Diamond Sutra were glowing the brightest .
Suddenly, the fan emitted a bright flash of golden light . Li Yundong grunted and raised his arms to shield his eyes . Moments later, he heard a strange buzzing sound, which was coming from the fan as well .
Amidst the buzzing, he also heard the shuffling of feet .
"Success . . . "
Zi Yuan's voice came from somewhere beside him .
Li Yundong lowered his arms and let his eyes adjust to the brightness . The whole living room was now bathed in a golden luminescence, yet nothing he saw could compare to the sight of the Fan of Seven Treasures, which was now hovering slightly below the ceiling .
The word glorious couldn't even do it justice .
The inscriptions of the Diamond Sutra were like glowing embers, outshining the golden light that formed its background .
Li Yundong felt as though his feet were moving on their own when he took a few steps forward . As he got closer to the fan, he eventually realized the cause of that buzzing sound he heard earlier: the leaves of the fan were vibrating at a high frequency .
Once again, Li Yundong's eyes were drawn towards the glowing inscriptions of the Diamond Sutra . Even though he didn't understand any of those symbols, he could still feel the sheer power each of them was emanating . The words drew him in, enticing him, beckoning him forward .
It was like some kind of spell .
He wondered if this was what it felt like to be in the presence of Gautama Buddha .
Li Yundong stopped walking when the Fan of Seven Treasures began to move . It floated down towards the floor, towards him . Then, it spun a few times along its rivet and drifted across the room as though it was inspecting each corner of the apartment . Li Yundong stood there and watched, utterly fascinated .
"The awakening . . . " Zi Yuan remarked .
Li Yundong had heard her, but he didn't acknowledge her words; he couldn't take his eyes off the fan .
The fan flew into the kitchen, then into the bedroom . A minute later, it returned to the living room and flew circles around Li Yundong .
Suddenly, the fan stopped short and turned sharply towards Zi Yuan . Another burst of golden light filled the room; the fan snapped shut, then spread open again .
The inscriptions on the leaves weren't just glowing now: they were burning .
Flames rose from the surface of the leaves (from the inscriptions) like small tentacles of fire . Those fiery tendrils drifted towards Zi Yuan like they were about to engulf her in flames .
"H- Hey . . . What's going on?" Li Yundong stammered as horror filled his chest . The Fan of Seven Treasures seemed hostile towards Zi Yuan .
Zi Yuan just stared at the flames, completely unperturbed .
"Oh . It's nothing to worry about," Zi Yuan said . "It's just part of the process . "
It was beyond Li Yundong how Zi Yuan could still sound so casual in the face of such threatening presence .
"Remember what I said about the awakening?" Zi Yuan said . "Well . This is it . Right now, it's trying to identify its owner based on the spiritual signature left inside it . While doing so, it will reject and act hostile towards those whose Qis don't match the signature . "
"Amazing . . . " he whispered .
The fan retreated from Zi Yuan and drifted back towards him . Li Yundong reached out with a hand to touch it, but then held back at the last second . He turned his head to look at Zi Yuan . "Um . . . How do I use it?"
"When a magical object first acknowledges its owner, it will protect its owner on its own," Zi Yuan said without taking her eyes off the fan . "You don't have to try to control it for now . "
"What? That doesn't even make sense . "
How was he supposed to wield it without having the ability to control its powers?
"The magical object has its own spiritual energy," Zi Yuan explained . "Right now, the fan's spiritual energy is more powerful than yours . You can only start controlling it when your spiritual energy exceed the magical object's spiritual energy in terms of strength . "
"But that night on the rooftop, I could—"
"That doesn't count . " Zi Yuan glanced at him . "You had the Jindan's help that time . "
"Okay . So I just have to keep growing my spiritual energy until I can wield the fan?"
"Yes," Zi Yuan said . "Well, as your spiritual energy grows, you can do more than just wield it . You can even reform or transmute it . "
"So what should I do now?" Try as he might, he couldn't keep the excitement out of his voice .
Zi Yuan chuckled . "Isn't it obvious?"
Li Yundong stared at Zi Yuan . "Er . . . Not to me?"
Zi Yuan smiled at him . "You greet it, of course!"
Li Yundong chuckled . "Geez . You make it sound like I'm meeting a pet for the first time . "
Zi Yuan's expression sobered . "There are two things I want you to remember . "
"From now on, you need to keep the fan with you at all times, do you understand?"
Li Yundong nodded .
"Good . Now, for the second thing . Do not use the fan lightly, especially when you're facing an opponent whose spiritual energy is more powerful than yours . "
Understanding dawned upon him . "Otherwise the fan might choose them as its new owner…"
Zi Yuan nodded . "What you did to Hongling's damask, someone else could do to you . " She nodded at the Fan of Seven Treasures . "A Cultivator can easily remove your spiritual signature if their spiritual energy is more powerful than yours . " Zi Yuan gave him a pointed look . "When that happens, the fan will abandon you and acknowledge them as their new owner . "
Such fickle creatures…
"Understood," Li Yundong said with a grave nod . "I'll watch out . "
"Alright then!" Zi Yuan grinned . "Time for you to get acquainted with your first magical object . "
Li Yundong turned away from Zi Yuan to face the Fan of Seven Treasures .
The fan snapped shut at the slightest touch of his hand and once again took the form of a Bo staff . Even the golden glow on its surface had vanished . Li Yundong withdrew his hand and glanced sideways at Zi Yuan .
Zi Yuan gave him an encouraging nod .
Li Yundong took a deep breath and stepped forward . The dark Bo staff reoriented itself until it was hovering in the air horizontally . Then, it floated downwards until it was hovering right in front of his chest .
Li Yundong stroke along the fan's rivet, leaving a trail of golden glow on the fan's surface . The glow disappeared once again when he removed his hand . Li Yundong reached out and wrapped both arms around the fan's body . Surprisingly, he could feel the full weight of the fan the moment it fell into his arms—the fan was no longer hovering .
Li Yundong gripped the fan tighter and turned around to face Zi Yuan .
Zi Yuan's eyes had glazed over slightly, and there was an uncharacteristic gentleness in them . She was technically looking at him (or right through him), but he doubted that it was his image that she saw—it was like she was living inside a different world, a world of old memories .
"Congratulations, Li Yundong," Zi Yuan said gently . "You're now the owner of the Fan of Seven Treasures and a true Cultivator . Welcome to the Cultivation world . "