As Shi Mu walked out of the Hall of Magic, he was surprised that the crowd, from earlier, was no longer here. He looked around, his eyes stinging from the intense sunlight, and then he left for the Holy Spirit Pavilion, as Uncle Sun had told him to.
It took him only a quarter of an hour to reach the pavilion, a building made from some kind of yellow wood that made it stand out amongst the verdant trees. A board hung above the gate, told him that he had come to the right place.
The door to the pavilion was wide open. No one was around to disturb the tranquility that pervaded the area. There were faint sounds of conversation, coming from further inside. This only adding to the ethereal atmosphere of the building. After looking over the board, again, Shi Mu sighed assuredly, containing his excitement, then stepped into the main hall.
The next moment, a figure flashed past the gate and almost knocked Shi Mu down. After steadying himself, Shi Mu was shocked to find a lanky young man, with extremely long legs, towering in front of him. His sunken cheeks and bamboo-like limbs were no way able to conceal the great strength and awe-inspiring spirit hidden inside. Shi Mu’s color changed, knowing that this man was also probably an Adept, given his presence here. But, judging from his uniform, this man seemed to be a primary disciple as well, only that his weathered face suggested his long years of experience. Shi Mu stepped aside, making way for him to pass. The lanky youth threw Shi Mu a stony look then walked out of the hall, with an expressionless face. Shi Mu did not move until the lanky youth’s figure completely receded from view. Calming himself, he walked inside.
The interior decor of the pavilion was as simple as could be, barely looking like a proper place for disciples to receive their rations. A long desk stood, by itself, at the center of the hall. Behind it, a middle-aged man’s wooden[A] face made the air even more stifling.
“A new Adept scholar?” A muffled voice came from behind the desk, accompanied by an unfocused look.
“Yes, senior. I’m here to receive my ration of resources as a newly registered Adept.” Shi Mu took out a white jade ornament from his pocket and handed it to the middle-aged man as he replied.
The man received the jade ornament, then took out a green ruler to scratch slightly on the jade ornament.
Immediately the jade responded by shooting a beam of white light into the green ruler, which then shed a glow in return. Slowly Shi Mu’s name emerged floating on the surface of the ruler. At this sight, the middle-aged man nodded almost imperceptibly and returned the jade ornament back to its owner.
An hour later, Shi Mu was already back at his small stone house. The door tightly shut, his face lit up as he took a small blue bag from his shirt. He opened the bag with excitement and emptied the contents onto his bed. There were twelve Black Fire Tokens, a green bottle, and three crystals: one blue and two red. The twelve black tokens immediately drew his eyes. Now he was convinced that the Black Demon Sect treated Adepts with a generosity of resources far surpassing what distributed to warriors. Even the extra twelve Black Demon Tokens would incur public jealousy of many ordinary disciples. Moreover, such a preferential treat was exclusive to the Adepts whose names were imprinted on the jade wall in the Hall of Magic. Resources had always been for the elite of the elite.
Sighing, Shi Mu picked up the green bottle and uncovered it, the contents soon tinged the air with a delicate fragrance. Inside were three green pills, the size of a thumb.
A surprised smile flickered across his face.
He had seen the pill once before, by chance. Its name leaving a clear impression on his mind: Spirit-Strengthening Pill. The effect is just as told by its name - a quick supply of spirit power, so, undoubtedly, Adepts must treasure these as life-savers in actual combat, which explains its exorbitant price. These three pills in his hand now must be worth more than one hundred thousand silver.
Shi Mu put away the bottle of pills, with the utmost care, then took out one of the crystals, to have a better look. The crystal was about the size of a pigeon egg and was glowing with smooth red light. There was something vaguely visible flowing around inside it.
This is one of the holy stones of the Adept world, quite precious, due to its limited existence. The flows inside are pure magic power, and, judging from the stone’s blood red quality, it must be the Holy Stone of Fire, one of the five elemental stones. Though all the three holy stones he had got now were some commonly seen stones of the lowest level, their value had already equaled that of the Spirit-Strengthening Pill. This was the first time that Shi Mu had seen a holy stone, so he did not put them away until having played with them for a while.
These must have been all the resources that every Adept scholar could receive annually, a great fortune for a disciple like Shi Mu. He took a long, deep breath to soothe his excitement, reminding himself that all these precious resources were not earned with his strength but with his potential. The most important thing he could do now was to ceaselessly train himself to strengthen his power.
With such thoughts in mind, he took out the jade slip for the Art of Accumulating Spirit Power and put it against his forehead.
Soon, lines of small characters began to appear in his mind, and, within a quarter of an hour, he finished skimming through the contents of the jade slip.
The method of practicing the Art of Accumulating Spirit Power was quite different from, and more challenging than, that of the Art of the Heavenly Elephant and the Art of the Strong Ape.
The nature of this Adept art was that of absorbing heavenly energy into one’s body. Then the energy is then transformed into spirit power, which is more refined than the real Qi that a warrior would gain from their arts. Meantime, the training requires heavenly knowledge as well as element-sensing power, thus elevating the difficulty to ten times that of practicing a Houtian art.
Just as the jade slip said, each stage of the Art of Accumulating Spirit Power will double the Adept’s spirit power, and, after accomplishing five stages, he could try to upgrade into Spirit Grade. Generally speaking, even the most talented Adepts would spend more than one year on the first stage, and ordinary ones may spend three to four years, depending on their intelligence.
Reaching the second stage should take twice the time that it took to reach the first stage. This repeats with each of the following stages, each taking a twofold practicing time over what the previous stage required. Shi Mu sucked back a cold breath when he saw this. A brief calculation told him that even a talented Adept would not accomplish all the stages before he had immersed himself in the art for at least thirty years. This realization made him smile bitterly to himself, and at the same time finally understood the reason for the small number of Spirit Grade Adepts in his sect, and why even scholars were treated generously, even though they weren’t full Adepts.
However, even though the Art of Accumulating Spirit Power was hard to practice, he would acquire a skill called “Qi Bursting” at the third stage and another called “Qi Binding” at the fifth stage. Both of these skills were very alluring to him.
After more than two hours, Shi Mu finally removed the jade slip off his forehead. A complex look on his face.
Now he had realized that, though the prospect of an Adept was more than promising, it could not be obtained without a painstaking training, which far exceeded his expectations. But, having made it here, he would never quit midway.
He put away the jade slips and shut up his eyes, adjusting his breath, and slowly focused his mind to its best state.
He had, by now, memorized all the contents of the five stages, and, after assuring himself by closely recalling every detail, he began to work up his spirit power, step-by-step.
As time went by, Shi Mu’s mind was completely immersed in his training. His spirit power expanded outside his body, and he mirrored the scene around him in his mind, despite that his eyes were shut.
Shi Mu focus started at sensing the physical objects in the room. He focused even more and the physical objects slowly faded from his mind, surrounding his with nothingness. Eventually, numerous light dots started emerging from this nothingness and, little by little they started coming into his body.
These light dots, once they entered his body, turned into pieces of refined spirit power, flowing rapidly through his veins and vessels. This energy was so refined, and unobtrusive, that it did not the slightest conflict with the real Qi in his body.
Shi Mu was exhilarated, believing that he had learned the method of practicing the Art of Accumulating Spirit Power .
However, time slid by, as he trained himself. Shi Mu had been sitting motionless for half a day, without consciousness. The accumulated spirit power finally met in his lower abdomen, and it turned into a thicker stream, which he willed into circling around his body. However, there was something he had not thought about: when the flow of spirit power came into the vessel near his head an unexpected mutation took place.
[A] - My TL loves using this expression, so I am just going to leave it in there from now on. This means an unchanging, uncaring, possibly contempt-filled face. Consider it a “resting bitch face”. (Seriously Google it. It’s actually being considered a real thing O.O)