Shi Mu was meditating in the private room inside his cave-dwelling.
Suddenly, he opened his eyes. And, a doubtful color flashed across his eyes.
He got-up, and left his private room. He then arrived at the huge gate of the cave-dwelling, and waved his hand.
The gate opened with a loud rumble. Suddenly, a beautiful maiden of about seventeen or eighteen years of age appeared in front of him. She was wearing the attire of the Wonderful Sound Sect. Her appearance was pretty, and she was carrying a leather package on her back.
The package wasn’t big. But, it seemed to be quite heavy. In fact, beads of sweats were rolling down from the woman’s forehead.
"May I dare to ask if Your Excellency is Brother Shi Mu?" The maiden opened the door with hesitation, and looked at Shi Mu. She then asked.
"Yes, I’m Shi Mu. May I know why Sister is looking for me?" Shi Mu said with an expressionless face.
"I’m Li Yu Chan from the Wonderful Sound Sect. I’ve come to Brother Shi as I’ve been entrusted with something Elder Zhong Xiu wanted delivered to you," the maiden answered.
"So, you’re Sister Li. Why don’t you come in?" An astounded color flashed through Shi Mu’s face. He then said with a sluggish expression. He turned around to a side. After that, he waved his hand and gestured her to step inside.
"Thank you, Brother."
The maiden smiled sweetly. She then thanked him in an unrestrained manner. After that, she stepped into the hall of the cave-dwelling.
The maiden’s eyes shone as soon as she entered into the hall. Then, she said in surprise, "Brother Shi, you are doing quite well here!"
"Sister is over-praising me. I don’t know why your Lady Zhong… " Shi Mu poured tea in a cup for the maiden, and asked.
"Thank you, Brother Shi. Please wait for a moment."
The maiden drank a mouthful of tea. She couldn’t help but take a long breath. She then took out the leather package from her back, and placed it on a table in front of Shi Mu.
A fist-sized spherical stone of dark-black color appeared in front of Shi Mu as he untied the package. After that, the maiden took out a sealed letter from her bosom, and handed it over to Shi Mu. She then said, "Brother Shi, this is a piece of meteoric iron. This sealed letter was given to me by Lady Zhong. She asked me to give it to you. Please take a look."
Shi Mu stared blankly. He recognized the fist-sized piece of black stone; it was the same material that his black blade was made-up of.
Shi Mu lifted-up the black meteoric iron from the table, and estimated its weight; it weighed around one-hundred kilograms. He then turned his head to look towards the maiden. It seemed that he had some questions in his mind.
"Our Wonderful Sound Sect had received three pieces of meteoric iron a few months back. Lady Zhong was given one of them by her master. And, she has entrusted me to bring this stone to you. She said that this would be useful for you," the maiden explained.
Shi Mu felt warm in his heart as he heard this. He put down the meteoric iron. Then, he opened the letter. Four rows of beautifully-carved small letters appeared in front of his eyes.
‘I hope that Brother is safe and sound.
Xiu has started her closed-door training.
I hope we’ll soon meet.
Please take care of yourself, Brother.’
Shi Mu put his hand on the letter. His heart trembled without any reason. In fact, he looked distracted for a moment.
"Brother Shi, you… are you alright?" Li Yu Chan looked at Shi Mu. She then stretched out her hand, and swayed it in front of Shi Mu’s eyes. She then spoke-up with a little hesitation.
"Oh, it’s nothing. Sister is mocking me. Sister, please wait for a moment." Shi Mu came back to his senses, and looked towards the maiden in front of him. He then got-up, and said in an apologetic tone.
A radiance flashed from the storage ring in Shi Mu’s right hand. Then, Zhong Xiu’s letter disappeared from his hand.
Li Yu Chan was stupefied as she looked at the storage ring in Shi Mu’s hand. Her eyes were filled with a marvelous expression.
Shi Mu didn’t pay attention to this. He turned around, and took a step in the direction of a room.
He came out with a sealed letter in his hand after a moment. He then asked the maiden to pass the letter to Zhong Xiu. He also presented an ordinary middle-grade magic charm to her.
Li Yu Chan happily received the letter and the magic charm. She then got-up, bid her farewell, and left.
Time flew past, and two months passed in the blink of an eye. It was the last day before the delegation had to leave for the Heavenly Demon Sect.
Shi Mu sat beside the stone-table in the hall of the cave-dwelling at late night. He was in the process of sorting out and tidying-up the things scattered in the cave.
He had the storage ring in his hand. So, he didn’t wish to leave behind anything in the cave-dwelling. After all, he was going to the Central Continent. He didn’t know when he would be able to come back.
The short stick and the black blade were placed on the table; Shi Mu couldn’t put them into the storage ring. A few spirit stones and some magic charms were also scattered there. A small ‘meteoric hammer’ tied-up in finger-thick chains was also placed on the table.
The head of this hammer was the same piece of meteoric iron that Zhong Xiu had sent for him.
Shi Mu hadn’t got enough time to look for Zhao Ping in order to refine a weapon for him out of the meteoric iron. Therefore, he had no other choice but to make use of its considerable weight.
He had made Zhao Ping forge a finger-thick iron chain using fine iron of the highest quality a few days ago. He had then taken the iron chains, and had tied them up around the meteoric iron.
Shi Mu stared at the meteoric hammer for a while. He then picked it up. After that, he wrapped it around his waist. The meteoric hammer was soon tied around his waist like a belt.
He took two steps forward, and felt comfortable with this set-up. So, he nodded in satisfaction. Then, he untied the meteoric hammer, and put it on the stone-table.
‘Bang!’ A stuffy sound echoed.
The heavy hammer-head fell on the table. The stone table trembled.
Then, a low-level spirit stone of fire attribute rolled-up on the table. It hit the black blade, and stopped rolling.
Shi Mu was surprised as he saw what had happened.
Suddenly, the spirit stone of fire attribute released a red light. It then emitted a portion of intense magic power waves. It could be soon be seen with naked eyes that the red light was becoming weak with a very fast speed.
The red light circulating from the spirit stone soon turned ash grey along with the spirit stone.
Shi Mu took a step forward. Then, he picked the spirit stone, and checked for the power it contained. However, he realized that the spirit power in that spirit stone of fire attribute had gotten consumed-up in its entirety.
Shi Mu stared blankly. The spirit stone was worth twenty or thirty-thousand silvers. But, it had changed into a scrap stone in the blink of an eye.
He thought of something. Then, he turned his head to look at the black blade.
It was strange that the black blade was still black. It hadn’t changed at all.
Shi Mu pondered for a while. Then, he put down the useless stone from his hand. After that, he stepped forward in order to grab the black blade.
Shi Mu raised his brows as he had finally sensed the difference. The black blade had become a little heavier than before.
The black blade and the short stick had been becoming heavier day-by-day. But, their weights had been increasing at a very slow rate. But, it was different this time. He could tell the difference.
He reckoned for a while, and put down the black blade. He then picked-up the short stick. After that, he picked-up a spirit stone of water attribute from the stone-table. He looked at it with a heavy heart. He then moved it towards the short stick.
That same scene reappeared. Then, a blue light shone on the spirit stone of water attribute. But then, it became gloomy, and transformed into a useless stone like before.
Shi Mu had confirmed his suspicions. The black blade… or the black meteoric iron to be more precise… seemed to have the ability to absorb the spirit power from spirit stones; regardless of the attribute of the spirit stone.
Traces of understanding flashed through Shi Mu’s eyes.
The essence of pure spirit power contained in these spirit stones possessed incomparable spiritual energy. It was no wonder that the weight of the black meteoric iron had increased like that. It seemed to have been absorbing spiritual energy from the surroundings right from the beginning. However, the speed of absorption had been very slow.
According to the experiment that Shi Mu had performed just a moment ago, the black meteoric iron absorbed all of the power of a low-level spirit stone. However, the increment in its weight was equivalent to the increment that had happened over several days.
Colors of happiness and sadness bubbled-up on Shi Mu’s face at the same time.
He was happy as this black meteoric material wasn’t ordinary. He would easily be able to increase its weight if he would’ve enough spirit stones in the future. He would be able to use more and more of its might if its power would be enough.
But, it also made him worry since these spirit stones were extremely precious resources. So, he didn’t have enough spirit stones to let the black blade and the short stick gobble them-up.
Their journey would begin the next day. So, he didn’t have time to think about this. Therefore, he set this matter aside for the time being.
Shi Mu put the remaining spirit stones and magic charms inside his storage ring. Then, he wrapped the meteoric weapons in a black cloth. He didn’t go back to his bedroom. Instead, he sat down cross-legged in order to meditate in the living room itself.
In the morning of next day…
Shi Mu had arrived at the blue-stone plaza under the thirteenth peak. Jin Xiao Chai and the others had agreed to assemble at this place.
The sun hadn’t yet risen. The entire valley was surrounded in dense fog. The buildings in the surroundings hadn’t yet opened-up for business. Everything seemed to be cold and cheerless.
Mo Ning and two other disciples had been waiting since a long time in the center of the plaza. Each person had a black and handsome horse behind them. All the horses had packages on their backs.
The black blade and the short stick were wrapped in a black cloth on Shi Mu’s back. A parrot with colorful feathers was sitting on his shoulder. A simple and crude meteoric hammer was wrapped around his waist. He was pulling a horse with one horn on its head. It was a robust and brown horse. Shi Mu and the horse were coming from the direction of the entrance of the plaza.
This brown horse was known as Black Wildebeest. It was a rare and weight-bearing horse of the human race. Its speed was far less than the David’s Deer of the barbarian race. But, its weight-bearing capacity was considerably higher. One horse of this kind could conveniently pull a heavy wagon. Therefore, it was highly valuable. It wasn’t available in the market very easily owing to its price.
Shi Mu had spent three ordinary middle-level magic charms and several spirit stones for this horse a few days ago in order to set out for this journey. He had bought this horse from a shop of rare treasures in the Sect.
Mo Ning and the other two people became startled as they saw Shi Mu’s get up. Then, they greeted him in unison.
Shi Mu rushed towards the three people, and nodded as a greeting. Then, he reached to their side. After that, he sat down cross-legged, and closed his eyes to take rest.
Jin Xiao Chai was wearing a golden robe when she arrived after a short while. She was leading a handsome horse of dark-red color. She was walking over from a distant place. She then arrived near them in the blink of an eye.
Shi Mu was the first one to greet her. After that, everyone stepped forward, and greeted her.
Jin Xiao Chai nodded. After that, she looked towards Shi Mu. It seemed that she had found something. She released the reins of the dark-red horse from her hand, and stopped it. Then, she took a few steps towards Shi Mu, and said with a mocking smile at the corner of her mouth, "Shi Mu, do you think that we’re going on a scenic tour? You’re taking a parrot along; and that too a mixed-feathered parrot… tsk… tsk..."
A burst of delicate fragrance floated in the air. Shi Mu then wrinkled his brows.
"I’m a very noble male parrot. So, Shi Tou obviously hates to abandon me. Who are you to say this? And, why do you lean so close to Shi Tou, eh? Do you like Shi Tou?" Cai raised its head, stuck out its chest and shouted out before Shi Mu could say anything.
Jin Xiao Chai stared blankly as she heard this. Then, surprised and angry colors flashed in her eyes.
The expressions of Shi Mu, Mo Ning and the other two disciples became strange as they saw the change in Jin Xiao Chai’s expressions.
Jin Xiao Chai’s complexion sank as she saw this.
"You… parrot with mixed feathers… what nonsense are you talking about? Watch out! I’ll not spare you. I’ll pull out your hair, chop them, stew them in a soup, and drink it." Jin Xiao Chai raised her eyebrows. Her aura of the middle-level Xian Tian realm became visible. It couldn’t be determined when a shinning black leather whip appeared in her hands.
‘Bang!’ A loud sound of explosion was heard.
"Master, save me! Ah! This woman wants to kill me. Cai is your spirit pet. You should take responsibility for Cai." Frightened colors flashed in Cai’s eyes. It withdrew, and covered its head with its wings. It then shouted and cried on Shi Mu’s shoulder.
The powerful and vigorous look that Cai had borne a moment ago had changed into a cowardly and timid appearance in the blink of an eye. Mo Ning and others couldn’t help but laugh. Jin Xiao Chai also stopped her movement.