The process of fusing with Taotie's soul reminded Wu Qi of the ritual he had witnessed in the depths of Meng Mountains long ago when he and Yan Bugui had first met, during which, a young barbarian girl was fusing with the soul of a water-element serpent.
Amidst the slow ballads and deep incantation of the Oracles, Taotie's soul rose from his fleshly body along with ninety percent of his cultivation base, and gradually fused with Wu Qi's innate Chaotic Divine Soul. But, at this very moment, he suddenly felt that something was wrong. He found that Wu Qi's soul was very strange.
However, before he could roar out the oddity he had discovered, his soul had fused entirely with Wu Qi's. Then, according to the principles of beast soul fusion, a wisp of his sentience entered the deepest part of Wu Qi's soul, where he fell into a deep slumber.
The wisp of sentience would be awakened only when Wu Qi's life came to an end, and Taotie would regain control of his own soul at that moment. By that time, his soul would have been nourished by Wu Qi's soul through their fusion, and would become more complete and powerful. Then, he would enter transmigration together with Wu Qi, and be reborn into a better Taotie.
But, Wu Qi would not give Taotie the chance to do so. As soon as the wisp of sentience reached the core of his soul, it was immediately devoured by his chaotic energy. Taotie, who was known for his greed and gluttony, had ironically become Wu Qi's tonic today.
The mystic arts, divine abilities, and instincts of the Taotie were all fused into Wu Qi's body.
Meanwhile, the cultivation base of this Taotie was gradually pouring into Wu Qi's body as their souls fused. King Yang Shan must have put a lot of care into his thirty-seventh son, Wu Qi reflected. He wondered how much had the father spent to get this adult, full-blooded Taotie with such an amazing aptitude, whose cultivation base was a lot stronger than his, almost equivalent to a peak fourth-tier Gold Immortal.
An enormous power was surging in his body; the strength of his soul and his flesh was soaring, and the power of his magic was growing rapidly. The fusion with Taotie's soul had brought Wu Qi incomparable benefits. At the very least, his chaotic energy was now filled with a devouring force. He tried to slightly use the power of the beast soul, and a terrible suction immediately spewed out of his body.
A loud whistle rang out from inside Wu Qi. Floating over his head, Taotie's soul threw his head back, opened his mouth, and began to inhale wildly. For a moment, Wu Qi's body seemed to have transformed into a huge black hole as the natural energy and Pangu Sacred Energy in the surroundings were crazily rushing over and pouring into his body. After the initial fusion with Taotie's soul, the speed he absorbed natural energy at was ten times faster than before. And as the fusion deepened, the speed would be a hundred times, a thousand times, or even ten thousand times that of the present.
Famous for their greed and tyranny in legend, many Taotie actually died of overeating. Even with their amazingly strong bodies and digestive ability as divine beasts, they failed to absorb all the food they ate, which showed how fast they could devour.
Wu Qi now did not face any problem in his cultivation of the Dao. His biggest problem was his lack of magic power. In fact, his cultivation of the Dao had reached the peak realm of Gold Immortals, and his ability to use and control magic power had also reached the highest limit that a Gold Immortal could attain. What prevented him from going further was the speed with which he was accumulating magic power: it was just too slow. But, as he now owned a Supreme Tower that could manipulate time, and the soul of Taotie that could increase the speed at which he absorbed energy, all the problems were solved. It was as if even heaven was secretly helping him.
Standing off to the side, King Yang Shan watched Wu Qi exercise the power of the beast soul with a smile on his face. A moment later, he turned to gesture Ji Ao with a nod.
The son responded with a faint smile as he took a bone talisman out of his sleeve and gave it a casual shake. Immediately, the talisman transformed into a thick thunderbolt, flashing toward Wu Qi. Sitting cross-legged on the ground, Wu Qi opened his eyes slightly as the beast soul opened his mouth and inhaled. The thunderbolt was instantly swallowed by Taotie and transformed into a vast hot stream that was sent into Wu Qi's body, becoming a part of his magic power.
Pu Lao, Ji Ao's beast soul, was famous for its mighty roar that could tear the enemy's soul into pieces, and even shatter the heaven and earth.
On the other hand, Wu Qi's beast soul, Taotie, could devour almost everything under heaven. There was basically nothing he dared not eat, except a few very bizarre innate poisonous things. Any physical or magical attack could be devoured by Taotie as long as Wu Qi's body could withstand it. Coupled with the ability of chaotic energy to digest anything, Wu Qi had now become a complete monster.
Unless an almighty expert could kill Wu Qi with one blow, any attack targeted at him would be devoured by Taotie and become a part of his magic power.
After meditating with his eyes closed for two hours, Wu Qi slowly retracted Taotie's soul into his spiritual ocean. As he had erased the wisp of the latter's sentience, it was now an integral part of his innate Chaotic Divine Soul. He was amazed by how incredible the benefits the beast soul brought him were. The two hours of meditation had given him greater results than a decade of painstaking meditation outside You Xiong Plain.
Without considering the almost cheating-level tactics such as the Virtue of the Heavenly Dao, if Gold Immortals wanted to advance to a higher tier, they needed not only a breakthrough in their cultivation of the Dao, but also a corresponding improvement of their magic power. A tier difference was often equivalent to a hundred times difference in magic power. Therefore, in order to advance to a higher tier, it usually took Gold Immortals many eons to absorb and convert natural energy into their own magic power.
But now that Wu Qi had a Supreme Tower that could manipulate time, and the beast soul of Taotie that could increase his rate of absorbing natural energy, his future speed of cultivating would certainly soar to a level that no one else could compete with.
With ninety percent of Taotie's cultivation base injected into him, the strength of Wu Qi's fleshly body and his magic power were instantly elevated to a level equivalent to the peak of fifth-tier Gold Immortals. Feeling his stronger fleshly body and the surging magic power filled inside him, Wu Qi rose to his feet contentedly and bowed to King Yang Shan, "Thanks for the gift, Your Highness!"
King Yang Shan nodded and said with a smile, "I'm merely giving a treasured sword to a warrior who deserves it. This Taotie will shine in your hands. Just promise me that you will do your best to assist Ji Ao in the future!"
"I'll definitely assist King Yue Feng with all my heart!" Wu Qi said as he cupped his fist and bowed deeply to King Yang Shan once again. He began to feel that Ji Ao was really his lucky star after only following him on one expedition and getting so many benefits without taking too great of a risk. 'It looks like I have to pour in more efforts to assist him. If he's lucky enough to succeed to the Human Emperor's throne one day…'
An upsurge of emotion filled Wu Qi's heart by the thought of it. His foundation on Pangu Continent was still too shallow, so he could only build up his power with the help of others.
King Yang Shan burst into laughter and clapped his hands. A group of Oracles dressed in long, blood-colored robes, having their faces covered with metal masks of the same color, silently walked out of a corner of the hall. They clustered around Taotie's fleshly body and began to murmur some spell. Before long, the gigantic body floated up and gradually shrunk. When it was about thirty feet in length, they carefully lifted it up with hands and walked slowly to the back of the temple.
According to Great Yu's ritual of beast soul fusion, this Taotie's fleshly body would be preserved with a mystic art. It would not be touched if the Taotie entered transmigration and reincarnated into a better fleshly body, such as an innate Dao body with perfect aptitude or the like, after Wu Qi's life came to an end. However, if he were not satisfied with his fleshly body in the next life, he could always return to King Yang Shan and claim back this fleshly body.
After many years of fusing with the souls of Great Yu's warriors, the beast souls would be strengthened and perfected in essence. So, even if they did not get a better body in the next life, and were forced to claim back their previous fleshly bodies, they would still be able to comprehend the Heavenly Dao faster than in their previous life.
Human warriors had a limited lifespan, except for the lucky ones like Ji Ao, who had been blessed with an eon's life span by the Virtue of the Heavenly Dao. For these divine beasts, spending thousands or tens of thousands of years to secure a better future was actually a good investment.
Wu Qi and Ji Ao became much closer after he fused with the soul of Taotie. Accompanied by Ji Ao, he spent half a month visiting various places in and around Liangzhu, which was the maximum duration a foreign subject was allowed to stay here. The time for him to leave Liangzhu had finally arrived. As Ji Ao was ordered by the Human Emperor to remain in imperial court as a military counselor, that had given him the privilege of staying in Liangzhu permanently, and his father, King Yang Shan, had also bought him a mansion in the city.
It was time for a temporary separation.
At the camp outside the city, Wu Qi gathered the ten thousand soldiers he had brought here with him, and ordered Huang Liang and several other military officers to prepare for their return to Dong Hai Province. Although they were not conferred any rank of nobility, Huang Liang and the others were rewarded by the Human Emperor. They all had their military ranks promoted. They had only served Wu Qi for a few years, but the benefits they had received were greater than that in the past.
Together with a group of his own people, Feng Lingling had blended in with Wu Qi's army, heading for Ji Ao's fiefdoms.
Ji Ao was good at leading the army and fighting wars, but he did not know how to properly manage the affairs of his fiefdoms. Yu Qingcheng had proved to be a good administrator, but the two of them could not get along well. As a result, King Yang Shan had transferred Yu Qingcheng to his eldest brother, Ji Dai, and assigned Feng Lingling to help him manage his fiefdom.
After reporting his departure with an official letter to the Military Court in accordance with Great Yu's rules, Wu Qi received the official approval letter. Later, Ji Ao spent a lot of money to help Wu Qi purchase large quantities of powerful ordnance from the Military Court, which he would bring back to Dong Hai Province.
After that, Ji Ao personally saw Wu Qi off Liangzhu.
Those who left together with Wu Qi included Ji Ao's military officers who were conferred ranks of nobility. With King Yang Shan's help, all these people got good jobs, and they were leaving Liangzhu today as well.
When he first arrived in Liangzhu, Wu Qi was just a nobody, but by the time he left, he had made a deep impression on many people's minds.