The two young Taoist priests continuously kowtowed and begged for forgiveness, their voices wretched as they cried. Li Ye spared them only a glance before ignoring them.
Insects like them weren't worthy of his attention.
Li Ye called for Shangguan Qingcheng and handed her the Taoist priests to deal with.
Considering how furious Shangguan Qingcheng looked, there was unlikely to be a good ending waiting for the two of them.
Li Ye returned to the stone tablet and sat down cross-legged in front of it. Having regained his calm, he continued comprehending the inscription Yuan Tiangang left on the stone tablet.
To Li Ye, the crucial tasks at hand were comprehending the Taoist scripture, obtaining the Taoist's Luck for himself, and entering the Qi-refining Stage.
The wind was incessant on top of the summit, billowing scrolls and sleeves. The calm and focused Li Ye gradually immersed himself in the Taoist scripture inscribed on the stone tablet.
"This scripture is called the Analects of Supreme Mystery Perception. It's indeed the same scripture that I read on earth. Back when I achieved the Great Perfection state of the Qi-refining Stage, I wasn't able to build my foundation and enter the Spiritual Master Realm for a long time. After coming to this place and comprehending this scripture, the bottleneck I faced instantly vanished and I was able to build my foundation."
Li Ye recalled the past with a reminiscing look in his eyes. "It can even break through the foundation-building bottleneck. Looks like it won't be difficult to enter the Qi-refining Stage by using the Taoist's Opportunity inside this scripture."
Considering this, Li Ye stopped overthinking it and carefully comprehended the scripture.
Cultivators of the Qi-refining Stage were called Practitioners of Qi techniques in the Tang Empire. Most of them were in that realm. Spiritual Masters who had built their foundation were rare across the world. Yuan Tiangang, who left behind the Analects of Supreme Mystery Perception, was in the Spiritual Master Realm.
One would have the hope to ascend to heaven after reaching the Great Completion state of the Spiritual Master Realm, obtaining great merits, achieving the Great Tao, and borrowing the Luck of a True Dragon. One would then become part of the Immortals with the right to never die.
By the time Li Ye started comprehending the Taoist scripture, the guards of Prince An's Manor waiting at the foot of the mountain had finally made it to the Taixuan Monastery. Shangguan Qingcheng stopped all of them from entering the monastery for fear of disturbing Li Ye.
She gave them a brief explanation of the unexpected incident that happened inside the monastery earlier. As expected, they wore looks of disbelief. All of them were shocked to the core.
"Did the Heir Apparent really punch the Warrior Mentor so hard that he lost consciousness? Doesn't that mean that the Heir Apparent is at least in the Warrior Mentor Realm? Impossible! Obviously, the Heir Apparent can't cultivate. He has no cultivation for the past twenty years..."
"General Shangguan, you said that the Heir Apparent broke the formation outside the main hall on his own? Since when did the Heir Apparent learn to break formations?"
"As far as I know, a person whose cultivation is below the Qi-refining Stage will have a hard time breaking a formation even with a magic tool in hand. Yet the Heir Apparent did that with just the Royal Seal? Just how lucky is he?"
The guards from Prince An's Manor started discussing spiritedly after hearing Shangguan Qingcheng's explanation. What occurred inside the Taixuan Monastery was out of their expectations. Shocked as they were, they repeatedly lamented with emotion.
Taking in everyone's reactions, Shangguan Qingcheng faked a calm exterior and said, "The Heir Apparent is the son of Prince An's first wife. Naturally, he's no ordinary person. Just because he didn't have cultivation before doesn't mean he didn't have Luck. Every cloud has a silver lining. This isn't anything strange."
When these words left her mouth, Shangguan Qingcheng herself also began to believe in them. It was hard to explain the change in Li Ye otherwise. Overjoyed, she continued, "Didn't Celestial Master Yuan leave behind a Taoist scripture and Taoist's Luck on Tai Xuan Summit because he was awaiting a fated person? The Heir Apparent entered the Warrior Mentor Realm the moment he arrived and was able to easily break the formation here. Obviously, the Heir Apparent was the fated person that Celestial Master Yuan was looking forward to! He had obtained the support of the Taoist's Luck!"
The guards of Prince An's Manor were all shocked. Upon second thought, however, they found her words to be reasonable.
Of course, it made sense. How could they explain everything happening before their eyes, otherwise?
"I see... Celestial Master Yuan is in the Spiritual Master Realm, you know. Wouldn't that mean that the Heir Apparent will have a bright future ahead of him now that he has obtained the Taoist's Luck that Celestial Master Yuan left behind?"
"Duh. I heard many have come to comprehend the Taoist scripture on Tai Xuan Summit, but none learned anything. But the moment our Heir Apparent arrived, he obtained the Luck and entered the Grand Master Realm before he even began comprehending the scripture... Have you ever heard of anyone abruptly gaining enlightenment and becoming a Grand Master? What do you think this means? This means that the Heir Apparent isn't an ordinary person!"
"Not bad! In my opinion, the hard times the Heir Apparent are facing is finally coming to an end! He'll definitely be able to shine in the future, building great cultivation and gaining merits like Prince An!"
The guards chimed in with their thoughts. Without realizing it, every single one of them began to trust the words that Shangguan Qingcheng had just made up.
Shangguan Qingcheng hadn't expected this but she was nodding as the guards spoke, thinking their words were reflecting the truth.
Not forgetting her status, Shangguan Qingcheng immediately added, "Previously, the Heir Apparent was caught in unfavorable circumstances. The guests of Prince An's Manor abandoned him and even among you all, there is also no shortage of people who harbor other intentions. I don't wish to investigate deep into this matter. However, now that the Heir Apparent has obtained the Taoist's Luck that Celestial Master Yuan left behind, he is bound to achieve the Qi-refining Stage. From now on, if anyone dares to harbor disloyal thoughts or show disrespect to the Heir Apparent, don't blame me for being merciless!"
Some of the guards immediately looked awkward after hearing her words but there were also those who looked righteous. Their backs were as straight as a pole at this moment and their pupils were imbued with meaning as they carefully observed the people around them. Their sense of superiority was particularly high.
"Hadn't I said it a long time ago? The Heir Apparent is someone blessed with great Luck and he'll definitely be able to inherit Prince An's mantle. You people didn't believe me before, but I suppose you do now?"
"Who doesn't believe your words? I'll fight whoever who doesn't! I have always believed in him!"
"Don't make it sound like there are those who didn't believe in him!"
A commotion broke out again.
Shangguan Qingcheng was pleased with this scene and a bright smile appeared on her face. She said nothing more and turned toward the main entrance to watch Li Ye comprehending the Taoist scripture.
Shangguan Qingcheng, armored and equipped with her saber, occupied the ground in front of the stone steps. She looked valiant and formidable. Her eyes were as bright as the stars in the sky. She looked at Li Ye with a gaze full of gentleness and concern. She thought to herself, "Heir Apparent, you must comprehend the Taoist scripture and achieve the Qi-refining stage!"
Being a Practitioner of Qi techniques was akin to stepping out of the mortal world. It would make Li Ye a genuine expert in this world who would have authority in the court and freedom outside the court.
If Li Ye became a Practitioner of Qi techniques, he would be able to inherit Prince An's title. The Court of the Imperial Clan would have no reason to deny him this right.
Li Ye remained motionless as time quietly passed. Shangguan Qingcheng's heartbeat quickened. Under her helmet, her face that was as fair as snow secretly reddened. Perhaps not even she realized how nervous she was. She was so nervous that her palms were sweating.
There would be hope for everything if he was able to achieve the Qi-refining Stage. If he wasn't able, even entering the Grand Master Realm wouldn't make a substantial impact. It would only improve his life a little.
The guards of Prince An's Manor holding their breath outside the temple wouldn't be truly loyal to Li Ye just because of this, at least. Even if they thought Li Ye was blessed with great Luck, but if the Luck was worthless if it wasn't enough to push him into the Qi-refining Stage.
If Li Ye couldn't enter the Qi-refining Stage, the Court of the Imperial Clan and the nobles of the Imperial Clan who never liked him in the first place wouldn't change their attitude toward him.
Practitioners of Qi techniques were the only ones who could be considered as people at the top of the hierarchy.
One step further, and there would be hope of a great future. If they didn't take that step, what awaited them was a pitch-black night with no telling when dawn would arrive.
The sun was now right above their heads, causing Shangguan Qingcheng's face to be drenched with sweat.
The shadow under her feet gradually slanted east. Subconsciously, Shangguan Qingcheng had bitten her dark red lips until they slowly turned pale. Her pale lips once again stood in stark contrast with her flushed face.
Right then, inside Duke Xing's Manor in Chang'an City a hundred miles away, Li Yao stood up in anger and threw the message jade in his hand on the floor. The message jade shattered.
"Trash! It's been four hours but there's still no news of them succeeding! Do those Taoist priests eat sh*t for sustenance?!" the malevolent-looking Li Yao howled like a crazed wolf. His words were terribly vulgar.
The advisor of Duke Xing's Manor looked hesitant. He tried to sound out Li Yao, saying, "Could there be an unforeseen event?"
"What kind of unforeseen event could there be?" Li Yao became even angrier and he glared at the advisor. "What kind of unforeseen event could a good-for-nothing who can't cultivate for twenty years and has no cultivation whatsoever cause?"
The advisor wanted to stop talking out of fear of angering Li Yao, but he was a strategist. In the end, he had to brave it out and said, "Li Ye brought a hundred armored soldiers up the mountain. Could it be that he ordered his men to do something?"
"The Taoist already said that Li Ye brought only five people into the monastery!" Li Yao's fury didn't dissipate in the slightest. "Five people, four of them Warrior Knights and one Warrior Master! What use are these insect-like people?"
The advisor was momentarily speechless. He thought for a long time before replying in a low voice, "Whatever the case, the probability of a mishap is high since there's no reply from the Taoist... Perhaps the Taoist's Opportunity that Celestial Master Yuan left on Tai Xuan Summit was in agreement with Li Ye's Luck..."
"What did you say?!" Li Yao bellowed, glaring at the advisor. "Not even I gained anything after comprehending for three days and nights. What right does a good-for-nothing like Li Ye has to obtain the Taoist's Luck?"
The advisor opened his mouth to reply but found his words to be full of bitterness. "What I mean is that you better send someone to take a look, Sir. Tai Xuan Summit is a hundred miles away from here. The Qi-refining experts in your manor might need some time to rush over. If something unexpected truly happened, I'm afraid we won't be able to do anything about if we're late..."
Li Yao's emotions were violently surging. No matter what, he couldn't accept that a good-for-nothing that he wouldn't even ordinarily pay attention to would be able to comprehend the Taoist scripture, obtain the Taoist's Luck, and do something that even he couldn't accomplish. This would even turn his grand plan a pipe dream! This was an insult to him!
However, the advisor's words came from his experience and Li Yao still retained his rationality. He had no choice but to approve.
"Send people over at once!" Li Yao bellowed in anger.
The advisor saluted Li Yao and excused himself to make the arrangements. Just as he stepped out of the yurt, he immediately turned around. Moreover, he looked as if he had seen a ghost. "Young Master, there's a strange fluctuation in Spiritual Qi in the direction of Tai Xuan Summit!"
"What?" Li Yao's expression changed. For a strange fluctuation in Spiritual Qi to be detected from a hundred miles away, it must either be a battle between experts or someone making a breakthrough into a great realm. He immediately dashed out of the yurt and looked in the direction of Tai Xuan Summit.
The cloudless horizon that stretched on for tens of thousands of miles was suddenly disturbed by rising winds and scudding clouds. Li Yao, as a Practitioner of Qi techniques, would be able to instantly detect the fluctuation of Spiritual Qi if there were Immortals using their skills in the clouds above. However, the fluctuation was too great. This wasn't an ordinary change in the weather.
"The land and forest of Cloud-engulfed Mountain belong to the royal family. There wouldn't be Practitioners of Qi techniques fighting there. The fluctuation in Spiritual Qi comes from the direction of Tai Xuan Summit. Could it be..." The advisor swallowed. Not even he could believe the rest of his words. "Could it be that Li Ye has achieved the Qi-refining Stage on Tai Xuan Summit?"
"Scram!" Li Yao kicked the advisor. He felt his stomach churning as if he was going to vomit. He felt as disgusted as if he had eaten hundreds of thousands of flies. Unable to restrain his anger, he said, "What are you doing, standing there?! Send people over, now! We must stop him!"
In the main hall of the Taixuan Monastery, Li Ye sat upright in front of the stone tablet without moving.
It had been a good few hours since he started comprehending the Taoist scripture. Initially, he saw no effort. Even though it had been a simple task in his previous life, this life was after all different for his aptitude and Luck had changed. For a long time, the Taoist's Opportunity imbued in the Taoist scripture didn't resonate with him.
Even though he could sense the Taoist's Opportunity in the Taoist scripture, he was unable to absorb the Luck inside the scripture for a long time.
Then, an idea suddenly came to Li Ye. It wasn't until he began sensing the Dragon Qi inside his body that the situation finally changed.
Right then, the pale golden Dragon Qi inside the Elixir Field in his body glowed with a flickering golden light that couldn't be seen by the naked eye. The Dragon Qi formed a golden halo and emanated light from within, enveloping Li Ye in it. It made him look like a magnificent and mysterious figure.
Drawing support from the Spiritual Qi that the Dragon Qi emanated, it was like an intangible bridge had mysteriously formed to connect Li Ye and the Taoist scripture. Both had formed a kind of resonance.
The scripture inscribed on the stone tablet emanated invisible wisps of white Qi. It was as if they had received the summon of the Dragon Qi. Li Ye took them in through his nostrils. They flowed into his meridians and settled on top of his Elixir Field, encircling the Dragon Qi inside without an end.
The pale golden Dragon Qi gradually took shape.
Following the Dragon Qi's stimulation, something moved above his Elixir Field.
Spiritual Qi gradually accumulated as if it was going to split heaven and earth.
Li Ye knew this was a sign that his Ocean of Qi was about to form.
With the emergence of an ocean in his body, he was able to enter the Qi-refining Stage and become a Practitioner who could refine Qi.
Clouds gathered and drifted endlessly above Tai Xuan Summit. Under them, the Spiritual Qi of the world converged from all around with Li Ye as the center. Ultimately, they formed a whirlpool of Spiritual Qi and entered his body without an end.
Shangguan Qingcheng and the guards outside the temple were unable to detect the fluctuation of Spiritual Qi due to their realms, but they could see the strange phenomena in the sky. Their expressions immediately changed. Shangguan Qingcheng stopped bitting her lips and her face took on a fresh glow.
"Did the Heir Apparent really succeeded in achieving the Qi-refining stage?" Her expectant gaze fell on Li Ye.
Sometime later, an Ocean of Qi finally materialized above the Elixir Field in Li Ye's body.
He was no longer a commoner now that he had achieved the Qi-refining Stage. He could now learn Taoist methods and possess skills as "unfathomable as a ghost and a god", as ordinary people put it.
Li Ye suddenly opened his eyes, a golden light flickering in his pupils.
He slowly rose to his feet and turned to look at the cyan jade gourd on the incense burner table inside the hall.
With a flick of his hand, the cyan jade gourd flew from the incense burner table and fell into his hand.
Telekinesis was the most basic technique that Practitioners of Qi techniques possessed.
From this moment onward, Li Ye was in the Qi-refining Stage!