The roars of dragons rang throughout the mountain forest.
The thunderous booms scared the birds away. Utilising the Inversed-Scales Spear in his hand, Miao Yi was striking out at his surroundings like a dragon.
Waves of near-tangible transcendence energy rolled out, splitting large trees and shattering giant boulders in quick succession.
After a rapid flurry of strikes, Miao Yi suddenly stilled. Standing quietly in place, he gazed at the destruction about him, with the dust still in the air. Finally, his gaze dropped onto the Inversed-Scales Spear.
On his forehead, the outline of a five-petaled white lotus shimmered.
After four years on the island, he had finally broken through the divide within the White Lotus realm and attained White Lotus Fifth Grade.
He had come alone to test his hand a little. The transcendence energy of a White Lotus Fifth Grade was quite tangible as he attacked. When paired with the Inversed-Scales Spear, the strength certainly had an exponential increase.
It was just as Yao Ruoxian had said; with the increase in his cultivation, the might of his spear arts would increase as well.
Tucking the Inversed-Scales Spear away, Miao Yi was neither happy nor sad as he calmly departed.
Once he returned to the cave manor, he crossed his legs and sat back down onto the stone couch. Tossing a mid-grade Orb of Will into his mouth, he started refining it quietly.
After refining it for a short while, Miao Yi revealed a faint smile with his eyes still closed.
As expected: to break through to White Lotus Sixth Grade, he would need about eighty low-grade Orbs of Will.
However, what he didn’t expect was that once his cultivation had broken through to White Lotus Fifth Grade, not only did the might of his arts increase greatly, the speed at which he could refine Orbs of Will had also greatly increased.
He initially estimated that he would need about a month to refine a low-grade Orbs of Will, which should have enabled him to refine around twelve orbs in a year. Unexpectedly, he didn’t even require a month to refine an orb now. As he factored this into his calculations, he reckoned that he would probably be able to refine almost twenty orbs in a year.
With this in mind, he would only need four years to break through to White Lotus Sixth Grade. It might even be faster than the time it had taken for him to break through to White Lotus Fifth Grade, from White Lotus Fourth Grade.
It was only then that Miao Yi understood. No wonder White Lotus Fifth Grade was considered a significant divide within the White Lotus realm. Not only did the might of his transcendence energy increase drastically, even the speed at which Orbs of Will were refined had increased.
However, he foresaw that this happiness would only remain for the brief moment that he was still in White Lotus Fifth Grade. He would probably have it rough once he reached White Lotus Sixth Grade...
The realm’s cultivators were never aware of the changes in the mortal realm, nor would they notice the passage of time.
A mere four years were but a fleeting moment for someone in cultivation.
When the silhouette of a six-petaled white lotus flower bloomed on Miao Yi’s forehead, his lips revealed a bitter smile. He couldn’t help but shake his head slightly.
Sure enough, he was only happy for the brief while that he was in the White Lotus Fifth Grade. Not every breakthrough in cultivation could be similar to when he broke through to the Fifth Grade, where the speed of refining Orbs of Will would increase exponentially.
It doubled yet again. He would probably need a hundred and sixty Orbs of Will to break through from Sixth Grade to Seventh Grade. However, in comparison, the speed of refining Orbs of Will had not increased very much.
He tested his new refining speed, and estimated that he could probably only refine two-and-a-half orbs in a single month; so in a year, he could probably only refine thirty orbs.
This also meant that he would require a staggering five years to break through to White Lotus Seventh Grade. If it was like this, how long would it take to break through to Eighth Grade? How long would it take to break through to the Blue Lotus realm that he dreamed about?
The lifespan of a cultivator was long to begin with compared to other mortals. He told himself that he should be content with where he was right now, and cleared his mind of any distracting thoughts. He had to focus on progressing forward; so long as he puts in the effort, he was sure to succeed.
The bitter smile on his face slowly eased. Once again, he sat quietly like a stone statue, not moving in the least….
Another two years passed. Dressed from head to toe in ragged clothing, Qian’Er and Xue’Er tugged on their sleeves as they came to the entrance of the cave.
They were both wearing fabric shoes and three-quarter pants, revealing their smooth and clean ankles. They stood in line outside the cave and said, "We wish to see the Master."
They were not as impudent as Yao Ruoxian, who would enter as he pleased without so much as a word.
"Come in!" Miao Yi’s clear voice rang out from inside.
The two girls went inside together, and bowed.
Miao Yi opened his eyes and asked, "Do you think you are capable now?"
The two girls nodded and replied, "Please have a look, Master."
Miao Yi ceased cultivating and stepped down from the stone couch, then led the two girls out the cave.
Once the three of them found Yao Ruoxian, he invoked his arts and enveloped the three of them within, then took off to the skies.
High in the sky over the boundless sea, clouds rolled through the blue skies; whilst waves rumbled on the jade seas with no end in sight.
The four of them soared through the skies and stopped in mid-air. Below them was the location that Miao Yi had trained in all those years ago. Under the fathomless ocean, was the old nest of the ‘Tyrant Fish’.
Yao Ruoxian snapped his hand out, and tossed a withered bough into the ocean. Then, he withdrew the light surrounding the four of them. They descended nimbly, and stood steadily on the withered driftwood that was floating in the ocean.
The two girls turned to face Miao Yi. He smiled, and gave them a nod, "Begin!"
"Understood!" the two girls immediately drew out their wooden spears and, gripping it tightly in their hands—jumped into the crashing waves. They quickly dived into the depths of the fathomless ocean without even raising up a single wave.
After training all these years, the two girls who couldn’t swim at all before, could now navigate the ocean depths as nimbly as any fish. Just from this alone, they had learned much.
Yao Ruoxian was standing atop the floating driftwood and rubbing his hands, then shook his head and he said, "These two girls have endured much these past few years. They’ve even almost lost their lives several times. I’m telling you brat, how could you put these two dolls through such brutal training?" He turned to glare at Miao Yi, then stared out at the surface of the ocean whilst vigorously rubbing his hands once more. He was somewhat worried as he said, "Let’s hope that they’re able to succeed this time."
After departing from the mortal realm for so long, Miao Yi’s temperament had become quite detached. He gently smiled and said, "The fragrance of a plum blossom springs from the bitterness of winter. If ten years of harsh training can be exchanged for a lifetime of benefit, then what was a little suffering? I too have no wish for my personal handmaidens to be mere flower vases that can only manage menial tasks like serving tea, or pouring wine. Naturally, I wish for them to share in my concerns. Regardless, isn’t Senior here to save them anyway?"
He was quite aware that Qian’Er and Xue’Er had almost ended up as fish food multiple times.
The Tyrant Fish here had tough and sturdy scales, and their teeth were incredibly sharp, even capable of leaving bite marks on a steel plate. Theirs was an existence more akin to demon beasts. Moreover, they stayed in schools in the ocean depths. Once they were provoked, they would attack in droves in a heartbeat. They were extremely vicious, and would not stop until their opponents were dead. Were a normal White Lotus Fifth Grade cultivator tossed into their territory, he would most likely face death if he didn’t manage to escape.
There were several instances when Qian’Er and Xue’Er would be covered in bite wounds. They would climb out of the surface of the ocean full of blood. They had been, as one would imagine, quite miserable.
Yao Ruoxian had ground his teeth as he watched them being tormented so.
Cultivators only focused on raising their own cultivation. After pursuing an unrivalled grand art, they would be able to go anywhere they please. Was this necessary? It was even worse than the martial artists of the mortal realm.
However, that was only the case in the beginning. After being instructed by Miao Yi back then, Yao Ruoxian even had to follow them into the ocean depths and be prepared to save them if things went south. Now, he could gradually leave them be.
As the two were talking, the corpses of the Tyrant Fish had begun to float up to the surface one-by-one.
One fish after another floated up the surface, and were eventually washed away by the waves.
Miao Yi tucked his hands into his abdomen area, then took out an Orb of Will and tossed it into his mouth to continue cultivating where he stood.
Beside him, Yao Ruoxian was stroking his beard with one hand, and counting the number of dead fish that floated up to the surface with the other, "One, two, three…, eighty…, three hundred…, three thousand…, eight thousand…, fifteen thousand…."
About four hours later, Yao Ruoxian suddenly shouted, "Enough. That’s enough. There are twenty-one thousand already. Girls, hurry up and come out! It’s already enough!"
Miao Yi spat out the Orb of Will out of his mouth, and opened his eyes to look at the bodies of the fishes that were floating on the ocean surface.
Not long after, Qian’Er and Xue’Er leapt out of the water and landed on the floating driftwood. They held onto their wooden spears, and were panting heavily as they looked towards Miao Yi, waiting for his approval.
Miao Yi examined them both. All he could see was that they were soaked through and through. With their muscles severe exhausted, it was hard to avoid the seawater from soaking their bodies—completely revealing their voluptuous bodies; with their shapely bosoms, slender waists, firm buttocks, and long, elegant legs. Although they looked quite miserable about their skin being dark, it gave them a different sort of charm.
Miao Yi remembered when he had trained on the island all those years ago, he had taken four years for his cultivation to break through to White Lotus First Grade. After that, he spent six years on the hellish training for the spear art. In total, he had spent ten years training on the island.
On the other hand, although they had already broken through to White Lotus First Grade, the two girls had to train bitterly for ten years before they succeeded; there was still somewhat of a gap. They spent around four years more than he did, but these two girls had truly managed to persevere, and finally perfected their training. All the blood, sweat and tears hadn’t been shed in vain.
Without another word, Miao Yi turned around and nodded to Yao Ruoxian, "Let us return."
Folds of light enveloped the four of them, and they quickly took to the skies.
Once they returned to the island where they had trained, Miao Yi told the two girls, "Clean yourselves up, and get ready to return to East Arrival Cave."
The two girls were ecstatic—this was his acknowledgement of their success! They both acknowledged his command, and left.
"Has it truly been ten years already since we came to this island?" Miao Yi looked at Yao Ruoxian and teased, "Senior, our ten year contract passed long ago. It seems it is time for us to part ways."
Yao Ruoxian had always refrained from talking about this ten year promise between them, and pretended as though he had forgotten all about it. He never thought this brat would actually mention it before he did. He immediately snapped back viciously., "Brat. I would have forgotten about that if you hadn’t mentioned it. Ten years have passed, so why aren’t the tiny mantids obeying my commands? Were you screwing with me?"
"I wouldn’t dare!" Miao Yi said with cupped fists, "I have no experience in this matter either. Since there is no success—don’t you like Charcoal, Senior? Senior can just return the tiny mantids to me, and take Charcoal away then."
Yao Ruoxian glared. "That Fat Thief doesn’t want to get close to me at all. You failed to keep your promise in helping me get close to him, yet now you still want to take my tiny mantids?"
Miao Yi shrugged with his hands and replied, "In this, Senior was the one who failed his end of the bargain first. I already did my part in treating Charcoal a little worse, but Senior held the tiny mantids tightly in his hands. We already agreed that you would hand them over to me in batches. Unexpectedly, you didn’t hand over a single one. How could you expect me to continue treating Charcoal badly and help you two get more closer then? Does Senior intend to take both Charcoal and the tiny mantids away?"
This was exactly Yao Ruoxian’s goal, but now he couldn’t take away either one. He could always take them by force, but if they didn’t recognized him as their Master—what was the use in bringing them away?
At least by Miao Yi’s side, not only could he take control of either one whenever he pleased, he could have Miao Yi command them to do his bidding.
He now realized that so long as he watched over Miao Yi, it would be as if he were indirectly controlling both treasures simultaneously.
"Hmph! You’re twisting the facts!" Yao Ruoxian scoffed.
"Very well then. This junior will make another compromise. Senior can bring both Charcoal and the tiny mantids away. After that, we will no longer have anything to do with each other." said Miao Yi generously.
"....," Yao Ruoxian was speechless. He never expected Miao Yi to be so magnanimous.
Alas, if he could bring them away, he would have long since done so. It would be better if he could bring Miao Yi away with him as well. However, Miao Yi still had a damn Immortal Record. Moreover, he had upset the Manor Head and been demoted to Horse Deputy. He couldn’t remove his Immortal Record even if he wanted to. Yao Ruoxian didn’t want to bring such a big pain-in-the-arse along with him.
"What do you think you’re up to?" said Yao Ruoxian, furious with shame. Pointing at Miao Yi’s nose, he rebuked him. "After you tricked me so many times, you think you can brush me off so easily? Do you have a deathwish?"
Miao Yi laughed bitterly, "Then what does Senior wish to do? To show my sincerity, Senior can just tell me what to do, and this Junior will just go along with what you say."
"That’s more like it." Yao Ruoxian held his chin and thought for a moment, then abruptly swept his hand out and said, "I will not fuss over this with you for the time being. Wait until I’ve thought it over for a bit, and decided on what to do. Then, we can talk about it."
"Very well. I shall follow Senior’s instructions. Once Senior has considered it, feel free to tell me about it." Miao Yi nodded, and accepted his terms. Yet he was actually thinking, ‘This old man probably won’t be able to think it through until everything is in his hands.’