"Oh, you finally came out, Shi Tou. I had been planning to go in to look for you. I was starving to death while waiting for you. Even my belly has shriveled out of hunger," Cai stood on Jin Xiao Chai’s shoulder as he muttered in a dispirited manner.
"Elder Sister Jin, let's leave this place first. I’ll give you the details on the way!" Shi Mu didn’t pay attention to his words. Instead, he turned his head towards Jin Xiao Chai and said.
Jin Xiao Chai was taken aback. She nodded and turned around to depart. Shi Mu also closely followed her. They soon left the small mountain where the Transcending Heaven Immortal Cult’s seclusion branch was located.
The rain had already stopped drizzling. The night seemed to be shrouded in a curtain of dead silence. But, the sky was still dusky; so much so that there wasn’t the slightest trace of moonlight in the sky. Not a person could be seen on this broad street of this Western District at this time.
"She is going to start the seclusion practice in a few days. Perhaps, this was the last time I would meet her. She desperately wants to pursue the Heaven-rank. And, we don’t have any other means to satisfy her," Shi Mu explained in a muffled voice as they walked.
"I had guessed so. I may look a bit selfish. But, the fact is that I was scared to think that she might be bullied by others later since she may not have anyone around to rely on," Jin Chai and Shi Mu were walking side-by-side when she spoke-up in a spooky-manner.
"She may not have decided to leave if there had been the possibility to advance to the Heaven-rank in the Eastern continent. And, she was also very anxious about you," Shi Mu replied.
"She was worried that I may have offended many people, right? Indeed, she worries for no particular reason! Those old people make random plans and calculations every day. They could’ve rather spent that precious time on cultivation!" Jin Xiao Chai curled her lips as she said.
"Caution is the parent of safety."
"Perhaps it would be better to not to take the charge of it! Well, it would seem that the two of us have completed our task."
"Elder Sister Jin, what’s your next plan?"
"I’ll return to the Heavenly Demon Sect and join Mo Ning and others. Then, I’ll carry out the mission that has been assigned to us by our Sect. My next plan would be to travel around the continent for pleasure once the Demon Yang Ceremony is over. It’s very difficult to get a chance like this. So, I’ll naturally have an amusing time to dispel my worries. How about you?" Jin Xiao Chai looked towards the street in front of them. She then said after a momentary silence.
"Elder Sister Jin, Cai also wants to relax. Would you take me along on your journey? Cai would be very obedient and well-behaved," The parrot heard the word ‘amusing’, and his eyes lit up. He then called out.
"Cai, shut up!" Shi Mu shot a glaring look at Cai.
The parrot shrank his neck back as a result.
"I’ll attend the Ascension to Immortality Auction to its very end. After that, I’ll rush back to the Heavenly Demon Sect. I expect that I should be able to reach there in time to attend the Demon Yang Ceremony," Shi Mu said.
"Tsk Tsk, you’re still ambitious? Oh, that’s right… you would surely take a fancy to Zhong Xiu since Ximen Xue will soon be gone, right?" Jin Xiao Chai said with a groan.
"Don’t misunderstand. I only treat her as my younger sister," Shi Mu replied.
"I think you are very clever. What kind of a person doesn’t wish to have a loved one? Your surname is Shi, and her surname is Zhong. Still, you two are brother and sister? Who would believe this?!" Jin Xiao Chai said.
"Shi Tou isn’t that kind of a person. I admit that Elder Sister Zhong is a very pretty lady. But, she isn’t as beautiful as Elder Sister Jin," Cai interrupted her and said.
Shi Mu’s vision moved and swept over Cai. The parrot was frightened by this, and he immediately sank his head into his wings.
The two people arrived in front of Shi Mu’s inn after some time. Then, Jin Xiao Chai returned Cai to Shi Mu, and walked over to another courtyard that she had rented for herself.
In the guest room…
Shi Mu lay down on his bed; he looked somewhat restless. He was unable to sleep, and was constantly staring at the roof.
He remembered something after a long time passed. The Vast Earth Ring on his right hand’s middle finger emanated a bright ray of light. Then, a long green whip appeared in his hand; a very complicated formula was engraved on the surface of this whip.
Shi Mu got-up and crawled out of the bed.
He appeared in front of Jin Xiao Chai’s small courtyard the next moment.
"Dong Dong Dong!" a knock was heard.
The next morning…
Shi Mu kept lying in his bed in a somewhat dazed manner.
"Peng Peng!" a burst of rhythmic knocks were heard on his door.
Shi Mu was surprised for a moment. Then, he got up and opened the courtyard’s gate. He saw that Zhong Xiu stood at the door with a smile on her face; she was clad in a green-colored robe.
"Brother Shi, what’s wrong with you? It seems like you didn’t take a proper rest last night," Zhong Xiu asked since she had noticed an exhausted look on Shi Mu’s face.
"It’s nothing. Miss Xiu, please come in. How did you get free time to come over here?" Shi Mu turned around and walked into the courtyard. He rubbed the place between his eyebrows with his fingers as he walked.
"The Heavenly Yu City is the largest city in the Eastern continent. But, I’ve never had a chance to enjoy the scenery of this city ever since I’ve set foot in here. The weather seems pretty good today. So... I came here to ask Brother Shi to accompany me on a day’s tour," Zhong Xiu spoke-up as they walked inside.
"Alright," Shi Mu was walking in the front. He hesitated slightly for a moment. Then, he nodded to her in agreement.
Zhong Xiu’s face gleamed with a blissful look. She took two or three steps to catch up with Shi Mu. Then, she began to walk alongside him.
Shi Mu returned to his room, and tidied it up for some time. Then, he set out along with the parrot and Zhong Xiu.
They spent some time in hiring a horse-drawn carriage. Then, they started to visit many famous places of the Heavenly Yu City.
Many vendors had started to converge in the southern streets along the river. It could be said that the Heavenly Yu City had winding-corridors-like waterways...
The two people were enjoying the sceneries while talking along the way. Most of their talks were revolving around the time when these two people lived together in the manor that was located in the suburb of Feng City. They also talked about various kinds of amusing stories related to their practices when they were in their respective Sects.
Zhong Xiu had surely changed a lot. She had gone from that weak and helpless young girl to a lively maiden. The flow of her words didn’t seem to have the slightest stop to them. In addition, it was also accompanied by her frequent smiles and giggles. It didn’t seem that she possessed the strength of a Xian Tian warrior; not to mention her extraordinary innate talents. In fact, one couldn’t have guessed that the day when she would have to attend the Ascension to Immortality Ceremony as the true disciple of her Sect was around the corner.
Shi Mu also seemed to have cast aside the disturbance of gratitude-and-grudges for the time being. He had been acting as a big brother of an ordinary person instead. He had been quietly listening to his little sister’s non-stop chirping for most of the time. In fact, he had been taking pleasure in it.
Cai would obviously make the two burst out laughing from time to time with his humor. He would also drag Shi Mu into an awkward situation with his embarrassing words every-now-and-then. And, he also continued to tease Zhong Xiu, and made her giggle from time to time.
Time passed in this fashion…
The horse-drawn carriage stopped at the entrance of the post house in the evening.
"Brother Shi, thank you. Today has been the happiest day of my life," Zhong Xiu said as she stood at the gate.
"Cai has also had a delightful day. Elder Sister Zhong, you can always come to look for Shi Tou," Cai had been fed many types of delicious food by Zhong Xiu as they had wandered around the city. Therefore, he couldn’t help but murmur in an excited manner.
"You are too talkative!" Shi Mu stretched his finger and hit Cai’s head.
"Shi Tou, you always hit my head. It’s not surprising that my head doesn’t seem nimble of late," Cai shrank his neck and murmured in a somewhat dissatisfied manner.
"Cai is very adorable. Elder Sister will certainly take you out to play again," Zhong Xiu replied with a blissful smile.
"Elder Sister Zhong, keep your promise. You are not allowed to deceive Cai. Anyway, deceiving is not an appreciable thing," The parrot stood on Shi Mu’s shoulder. He flapped his wings as he murmured.
Zhong Xiu covered her mouth and smiled as she heard Cai’s teasing words. Then, something flashed across her mind, and she asked, "Brother Shi, have you heard about the Ascension to Immortality Auction?"
"Of course I have. And, I am prepared to go and buy things in the auction," Shi Mu nodded.
"That’s good. Then, let's go together. It so happens that I also wish to see something there. I have heard that the final commodity in this auction would be a legendary Star Stone," Zhong Xiu spoke-up in a cheerful manner.
"What is this Star Stone?" Shi Mu asked.
"I'm not very clear about it either. But, I have heard that it is an ancient spirit stone that has the ability to stabilize the space passageways. It’s very difficult to look for its trails now. Therefore, it is considered a very precious treasure," Zhong Xiu replied.
Shi Mu nodded thoughtfully.
Then, the two people exchanged a few words for some time. Afterwards, Shi Mu climbed into the carriage. He then bid her farewell and departed. He soon disappeared into the stream of people.
At nightfall… in a room of the inn…
Shi Mu sat on his bed with his legs crossed. His eyes were closed. The bedside window was left open. The silver moonlight was falling on his body through the window. And, it appeared as if it was illuminating his body.
He opened his eyes after a long time. He then flipped over his hand, and a small jade box appeared in his palm; it was the same box he had received from Ximen Xue.
A milky white pill appeared before his eyes as he opened the lid of the jade box. It emanated a circle of white luminescence. Also, a whiff of the pill’s refreshing aroma greeted Shi Mu.
Shi Mu sniffed a wisp of this aroma, and he felt as if his mind and spirit was shaken-up.
He looked at the pill in his hand, and his face brimmed with an ecstatic look.
He had already consulted Jin Xiao Chai about this pill during the day. This Spirit Strengthening Pill had the capability to stabilize the realm. In addition, it also had an exceptionally good nourishing effect on one’s spirit. This pill was quite suitable for a person like Shi Mu who wanted to practice two types of cultivation arts. It was very valuable. In fact, its value should be far more than the Dark Frost Fruit’s.
He picked up the white pill, raised his head, and swallowed it.
The pill changed into a wisp of warm current as soon as it entered his body. Then, it started to flow in his meridians.
Shi Mu felt a surge of exceptionally comfortable feeling. It seemed as if his entire body had been soaked in a hot spring.
Suddenly, the warm current divided into two parts – one turned into a light stream of air, and the other congealed into a thick stream of air.
Then, the congealed thick stream of air submerged into his lower abdomen and integrated with his Qi palace.
Shi Mu’s Qi Palace immediately inflated a bit as a result. He then felt a substantial increase in his accumulated Real Qi. In addition, the flow of his Real Qi also showed an unprecedented stability within his Qi Palace.
Shi Mu was exhilarated. That wisp of warm current had saved him half-a-year of torturous practice at the very least. Now, he only needed to make some preparations at the appointed time… such as - finding a Fire Room and preparing sufficient All Yang pills. After that, he could start the seclusion practice. Then, he might break through the seven stage of the Art of Flaming Red Ape at one fell swoop.
Suddenly, that wisp of light air current emerged into his the sea of consciousness.
His spirit sense suddenly received a powerful jolt as soon as the air current rushed forth into his sea of consciousness. After that, he felt a surge of fresh and cool feeling in his mind. In fact, this was something which he had never felt before.
He also felt an urge to take a good nap since he felt as if he had worked very hard for a long time.
Then, the air current dispersed and changed into a form of mist. And, this then mist merged with his spirit sense in his sea of consciousness.
Shi Mu’s brows furrowed. He sensed that his spirit sense had started to rise at lightning speed as he was absorbing this mist. In fact, it had soon increased by thirty percent or so!
Meanwhile, a wisp of mist - that didn’t get enough time to fuse with his spirit sense - touched the moonlight crystal grain in his mind.
A broad bean-sized moonlight crystal grain burst into pieces, and took the form a bright full moon.
The radiance of the moon seemed to have far surpassed all previous full moons that Shi Mu had experienced before.
Shi Mu was awestruck to realize that the full moon was rendering him a kind of special feeling - a feeling that was brimming with a perfect and satisfactory mood.
Then, a wisp of wonderful feeling bubbled-up from the bottom of his heart. And, his body involuntarily displayed the posture of the Moon-Swallowing Art.
A hazy shadow of the full moon emerged behind his head the next moment. It emitted a kind of mysterious glory in the darkness.
A ray of silver light flickered on the surface of the full moon in his mind. The next moment, one of its corners ruptured and changed into the purest form of magic power. Then, it travelled through his meridians and eventually blended into his lower abdomen.
Consequently, his magic power surged-up at an unimaginable speed. And, he broke through the ninth stage’s bottleneck in a matter of seconds. In addition, he also stepped into the tenth stage in one fell swoop!
Shi Mu was overwhelmed with happiness. However, he felt that half of the silver moon in his mind had already dissipated.
The full moon continued to disperse and transform into the purest form of magic power. And, the magic power simultaneously continued to integrate into his body.
The Art of Accumulating Spirit Power continued to ascend until the full moon had dissipated in its entirety. And, his magic power had reached the middle of the tenth stage by the time this happened.