“Sis, why aren’t you letting brother Bai in? He’s—”
“Stop talking. Hurry up and change your clothes!” Xiao Fang threw a new change of clothes to him. “Who told you to bring home a random stranger? Mom and dad aren’t home, what if something happened?” She scolded.
A frown etched itself on her brother’s face. “You still think brother Bai is a bad guy, what’s with all this suspicion? Let me tell you, brother Bai is amazing! He can beat back a tiger, even brother Zhu Zi can’t do that!”
The defiance from Shao Ling surprised even her.
As she prepared herself to talk back to him, an abrupt clamor from the back of the house distracted her.
“Dad and mom are back!” Her face lit up, “Let’s go back too.”
Outside the house, Bai Yunfei came to realize that there were people coming down from the mountains as well. These newcomers were dressed like hunters with hunting crossbows in one hand and game, such as hares and pheasants, in the other hand. They sauntered toward the village with laughs and grins on their faces.
While Bai Yunfei tried to figure out how to address these, Xiao Fang came scurrying out with the newly-dressed Shao Ling tailing after her. No longer wary of Bai Yunfei, Xiao Fang gave Bai Yunfei a slight nod on her way to the incoming people.
“Brother Bai, our parents are back! Hold on a sec now, I’ll introduce you to them!” Shao Ling piped up on his way past him.
A single conversation was all it took for Shao Ling’s parents and the other villagers to express an extremely amicable and friendly reception. Perhaps it was his fitting conversational mannerisms or perhaps it was his cordial personality, but whatever it was, even Xiao Fang became friendlier to him.
It was when Shao Ling mentioned that Bai Yunfei would be staying with them for the time being that a brief flash of murderous intent rose from the one stalwart youth named Zhu Zi. The reason for this was a complete mystery to Bai Yunfei.
Shao Ling had five family members including himself. There was his older sister Xiao Fang, his parents, and a bedridden grandmother. His mother was currently out picking vegetables, so she wouldn’t return to the village until later. That night, the family laid out a series of meat and vegetables for Bai Yunfei to enjoy. During the meal, Shao Ling continued to brag again and again to the rest of the family about how Bai Yunfei had scared away the tiger with so much enthusiasm that it felt more as if he was the one who scared the tiger away. In truth, Shao Ling had absolutely no idea how Bai Yunfei had accomplished such a feat since he had the living daylights scared out of him during that moment.
Heavy rainfall came that night—much to Bai Yunfei’s delight. He was tired of sleeping out in the forests and eating game, one of the reasons why he followed Shao Ling back to his village. Moreover, the major battle and escape he went through took a lot out of him, so he wanted a rest.
Of course, he wanted to ask for directions too…
An additional bed was rolled out for him in Shao Ling’s room for Bai Yunfei to sleep on. After Shao Ling fell asleep, Bai Yunfei sat upright on his bed and made a detailed observation of the state his body was in. As soon as he reconfirmed that the scorpion’s poison was completely neutralized and gone from his body, Bai Yunfei thought back to the battle to come up with a post-battle analysis.
“I can’t let myself be confused by my enemies! Even if they look like a scorpion, I can’t take them to be a scorpion. They could be a scorpion with wings like a dragonfly…” Came the very first conclusion.
“Being able to use two elements doesn’t make one stronger. It’s kind of a double-edged sword in a way too; one that can’t balance between the two won’t always be as strong as someone that focuses on one element… I have to focus on cultivating the elemental fire it seems. Without the right amount of strength, I can’t allow myself to start on a second.
“The Upgrade Technique really boosted my strength to its limits if I could beat a scorpion that was using only one of its two elements… it was a fifth-tier soulbeast at any rate, and it was still beaten down by the Upgrade Technique…
“But — am I not depending too much on the Upgrade Technique? Without this equipment, I’d be putty in the hands of the scorpion, wouldn’t I?” Bai Yunfei eyed the Flame-edge Bracer on his right arm with great concern. Pondering to himself for a moment longer, he shook his head with a self-mocking laugh. “What am I even thinking? To not use the Upgrade Technique, what am I—an idiot? The Upgrade Technique is a part of my strength. Using it to improve my strength is my strongest aspect! Why should I feel bad about relying on it? Really now!
“Besides, the stronger I get, the stronger my opponents will get as well. The equipment I’ll have won’t always be able to keep up with my growth either…” Bai Yunfei took off the Goldsilk Armor he was wearing underneath his robes. He placed it in front of him to inspect. All over the surface, several intertwining cracks could be seen here and there, and some parts of it was missing some threads. This was the accumulation of wear-and-tear from all his constant battles in the past.
“And these accessories that increase my attributes are gradually starting to get weaker too. Though the ones that give me a percentile increase are clearly way better than the ones that give a numerical increase…”
The strongest accessories he had at the moment were ‘High-grade’ ones with the +10 equipment granting him an additional sixty points in bonuses. To Bai Yunfei, the effects weren’t as nice as they were before, but the amount of items he had was still quite impressive.
He felt rather distracted when he touched the Goldsilk Armor. It had been with him for the past half year, and memories of it came flooding back to him with that touch. When he found it in the Blackwood Stronghold, getting to know Li Chengfeng, fighting a Soul Personage, fighting a Soul Warrior, and destroying the bandits—he could kill those type of soul cultivators with a flick of a finger now, but those times had been exceptionally hard on him…
Unknowingly, half a year had passed since then. Somehow, Bai Yunfei had grown from being a weakling during that time.
At some point during his thoughts, Bai Yunfei was jolted back to awareness by Shao Ling’s rambling sleeptalk. Wrapping up his thoughts with a shake of his head, Bai Yunfei wiped some dust off of the Goldsilk Armor before putting it back on. He wasn’t quite willing to upgrade this item in particular yet. It was his strongest defensive soul item, and risking the chance of failure wasn’t worth the candle used to light up the room. He might as well upgrade another item in its place.
“I’ll get some rest after doing my routine. Then I’ll leave this village for the Pingchuan Province in two days.”
This so-called routine was basically him upgrading several equipment as he pleased before bed. He’d stop whenever he’d like, or if his luck was particularly bad that day, he’d leave some items for a time when he felt luckier.
Roughly forty minutes later.
“Equipment grade: High”
“Upgrade level: +10.”
“Additional attribute: +58 attack.”
“+10 Additional effect: +112 attack is added.”
“Upgrade requirement: 29 soulpoints.”
Bai Yunfei looked at a jadeite ring in his hand with a pleased smile. “Haha, good! Didn’t think I’d get three +10 accessories. The additional effects aren’t anything special, but they aren’t that bad either.
“Oh? I’ve already run out of items to upgrade?” After storing away the ring, Bai Yunfei realized that the space ring holding all the items he wanted to upgrade was clean out of items.
“Wow! I run out of stuff fast…” Bai Yunfei shook his head derisively. Just as he prepared himself to go to sleep, a sudden thought entered his head. Shaking his right hand, another item appeared in it.
It was the +8 straw hat he was so fond of wearing on his head.
Considering his ‘situation,’ today was quite decent. He might as well upgrade this one.