Chapter 4: Void Mortal Refinement
Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
This meal Chen Fan had shared with the Jiang family was not unpleasant by any stretch of the imagination. Jiang family strictly followed the traditional table manners, which meant no chattering while eating.
However, Chen Fan didn’t mind the silence. His mind had already veered off to the memories of his past life.
“It’s been a while since I had a meal prepared by Auntie Tang,”he thought wistfully.
Auntie Tang’s marriage was not perfect, particularity later in her life when Jiang Haishan had secured a prominent position in the government. Mired in public events, he rarely came home, and therefore the couple slowly drifted apart.
Chen Fan remembered that when he was poor and down on his luck, he had to mooch off Auntie Tang. For him, Auntie Tang’s dishes were the best meals he ever had.
“What a pity. Auntie was good looking and had superb cooking skills; it was a shame that she got married to a husband whose only pursuit was power.” Chen Fan lamented in his mind.
While bustling about between the kitchen and the dining room, Auntie Tang managed to pause for a minute and spoke to Chen Fan, “Fan, it’s your first time visiting Chu Zhou City, I will ask Ran-ran to take you to go to the city center to buy some toiletries and groceries. I doubt you will have everything you need at your rental house.”
“Thank you.” Chen Fan accepted the offer without consulting Jiang Churan.
Jiang Churan nodded with an annoyed face. She might agree to the task now, but as soon as she walked out of the house, she would ditch the boy right away.
Dinner was over Chen Fan bid farewell to Auntie Tang with a smile.
As soon as Chen Fan walked out of the house with Jiang Churan, the smile on the girl’s face evaporated into thin air.
Without even looking at Chen Fan, she said coldly, “I still have something to do, you can go shopping on your own, can’t you?”
She paused a second and then she continued, “You know how to get a taxi in the city, right?” Her voice was laced with annoyance. She thought Chen Fan would play dumb and insist on her coming along with him; but to her surprise, she watched as the boy nodded and then said, “Of course I do.”
She didn’t turn around until Chen Fan’s image disappeared behind a row of willow trees. Guilt slowly crept into her heart, and she had the urge to catch up with the boy and help him. However, the thought of the huge difference in all aspects of their lives made her think better of her actions. They were not meant to be together, the sooner she made it clear to him, the better for both of them.
“Well, that was fast. Did you even go with him?” Auntie Tang asked her daughter curiously as soon as the latter stepped into the house again.
Still grappling with guilt, Jiang Churan said quietly, “He said that he could do it alone.”
She then heard her father snorted, “I will not let my daughter hang out with such a loser anyway.”
Jiang Haishan’s career had hit a glass ceiling. In order to be promoted even further, he would require strong support from those who have significant political clout, such as deputy mayor Li.
Luckily for Jiang Haishan, the son of the deputy mayor was not only his daughter’s classmate, but he also seemed to be very interested in Jiang Churan. The deputy minister had even alluded to a potential marriage on multiple occasions. Although it was an opportunity that he couldn’t pass up, Jiang Haishan couldn’t agree to the proposal so easily, particularly when his daughter was still so young. It would be a sign of desperation if he did.
Giving the illustrious achievement of Chen Fan’s mother, Jiang Haishan, initially had high hopes for the boy. However, after meeting with Chen Fan, he conceded that the reality was far from what he had hoped for. Li Yichen, the mayor’s son was a much more suitable candidate for his daughter.
He jerked his head towards the kitchen and grumbled on, “Your daughter is still young, don’t just bring anyone to our home. She needs to focus on study.”
Auntie Tang frowned deeply and rushed out of the kitchen. “Excuse you? She is my daughter, and this is MY house. I can bring whomever I want to here.”
Seeing her parents were at it again, Jiang Churan heaved a sight and went straight to her room. It could have been a nice and quiet evening, but that country boy had spoiled everything.
Meanwhile, Chen Fan had already made his way down to the lake. He wasn’t bothered at all by the unpleasant encounter with the father and daughter pair; they meant nothing to him, and he had a much bigger fish to fry.
As he walked along the path that hugged the lake shore, he sensed the ebbs and flows of energy around him very carefully.
The Qi spirit was not static. It flowed like water and always headed toward the area with a lower Qi potential. On very rare occasions, the Qi would pool together, forming what the cultivators would call a Numinous Abode. Wherever there was sea, there would be a desert; some places hopelessly lacked Qi.
After having followed the path for a few miles, Chen Fan finally stopped.
“This is it. I think I will have to brave the depths of the Yunwu Mountain if I want to find an even better spot.” He looked around and found out he was in a patch of willow trees. Despite it being a hot summer evening, he felt the cool breezes against his bare skin, and it was quite comfortable.
Chen Fan found a big gnarly willow tree, and sat cross-legged, facing the Yanhui Lake.
Nestled beside the developed urban spaces, Yangui Lake, the “Lake of Returning Swallows” was the largest lake in Chu Zhou City. Many residential houses, commercial buildings, and hotels were built around the Lake. Thanks to the abundance of water provided by the lake, Chu Zhou City, a city in the northern part of the province, also had a bit of southern charm.
Sitting under the willow tree, Chen Fan let the breeze comb through his hair as he relished the refreshing cool air from the lake.
The cultivation progression was divided into eight stages: Qi Refinement, Connate Spirit, Golden Core, Nascent Soul, Soul Formation, Void Returning, Dao Reunion, and Tribulation. Within each stage were sub-levels. The first stage, for example, consisted of three sublevels: Foundation Establishment, Ethereal Enlightenment, and Divine Sea.
As the name suggests, the first sub-level was about building a solid foundation from which all the other cultivation stages were developed upon. Once completed, the cultivator would have immense strength, speed, and agility. It was a transitional period when the cultivator reaches beyond the limits of the human body. The cultivation should also have the ability to gather some degree of arcane force to use minor spells.
The next two sub-levels were usually combined together and were called the Immortal Enlightenment phase. Once the cultivator had completed both levels, he or she could use even more powerful spells and arts. They could call upon the natural elements such as dirt to turn it into golems who would fight to the death. In the eyes of an ordinary human, these cultivators were no different than a god, although they were technically not gods by a long chalk.
After the cultivator had breached the first stage, he or she would enter the stage called connate, during which one could ride on the back of the wind to wherever he wanted to and live more than five hundred years. However, even with those magical powers, they were still far from being immortals.
“It’s too early for me to think about Connate. I should start by focusing on the Foundation Establishment for now.”
“What kind of art should I use to rebuild my foundation?” Chen Fan asked himself.
“The reason why my cultivation had failed during the tribulation was not only the mental demons but also my weak foundation.” Chen Fan nodded as he reflected on his past cultivation.
“Ignoring all the pretenses and excuses, my downfall was in my inability to complete each stage to perfection. This time I need to learn my lesson and build each and every stage as firmly as possible.” The thought of his slip up during the most critical moment of his cultivation made Chen Fan heave a sigh of regret.
Nonetheless, there were still many things that Chen Fan should feel grateful for. For one, he was miraculously given another chance to start all over again.
The Foundation Establishment stage was the first stage of the cultivation; it was arguably the most important one as well. In order to not repeat his mistake, Chen Fan was resolved to take his time and perfect this stage.
“I have collected all kinds of secret arts and magical spells in the past five hundred years. In my collection, the arts of building the foundation alone amounted to thirteen thousand three hundred and six different pieces. In the last iteration of my life, I have used the art of Foundation Establishment from the True Martial celestial sect. It was simple and straightforward; however, I need something more powerful to achieve perfection.”
He had formulated a plan and decided on the art in his mind ever since he was in Auntie Tang’s car.
“I will use the Grand Dao Sect’s Art of Void Mortal Refinement!”
The Sect of the Grand Dao was one of the most prominent sects in the realm of cultivation. Although the sect had never sired any heroic grandmasters, they were extolled for their unique art of Foundation Establishment.
Once it was mastered, the art would help the cultivator to harness much more power than those who used other arts.
“Inclusiveness was not only the key in mastering this art, but it was also important for me to cultivate with such limited Qi resources. The Qi on earth is drying up, and I need to scrape any useful resources that I could find, including any medicinal herbs, numinous treasures and even unsavory elements such as the malice Qi and death Qi. There would be no art more suitable than the Art of Void Mortal Refinement given the circumstances.”
The so-called Malice Qi, Yin Qi or Death Qi were not that much different than the bread and butter of cultivation: Spirit Qi. They were all an extension of the universe itself, a reflection of one or two of its countless facets.
That being said, the spirit Qi was much readily available on a planet, and it was easier to be bend into whatever shapes or forms the cultivator desired. The other forms of Qi required specific dharma arts to be harnessed. Without the aid of some very special arts, an ordinary cultivator wouldn’t be able to harness all forms of Qi until they had reached the Golden Core stage.
However, with the special ability of the Void Mortal Refinement art, Chen Fan should be able to harness Qi from all sources from the very beginning.
The word “void” in its name referred to the vast universe. The boundless space contained an unimaginable amount of Qi from various sources, all of which could be harnessed using this unique art. whether it is the Qi inside the core of a star or the Qi of demonic origin deep underground; the art could handle them all.
The motto of the Grand Dao sect also reflected their all-encompassing spirit well, “I am nothing and everything.”
“What a shame. Despite their great ambition of uniting all forms of Qi into one, the task was ultimately proven to be too much for the sect members with mediocre talents.”
Chen Fan shook his head and heaved a sigh. However ambitious the Grand Dao sect was, the advanced level cultivation required specialization instead of diversification. The True Martial celestial sect was able to rise to the top rank of all sects thanks to its dedication to only one or two arts.
Chen Fan gathered himself and started the Void Mortal Refinement.
The art was not only useful in harnessing Qi but was also effective in straightening one’s flesh. It was a good way to improve both internal and external prowess.
As he gradually progressed with the cultivation, his body seemed to become a black hole that sucked various Qi and energies into him. The air around Chen Fan was soon devoid of any life, so much so that even the breezy wind became stifled.
He was so engrossed in his cultivation that he nearly forgot the passage of time. The moon rose and fell, and before he knew it, it was a brand new day.
As the sun rose above the placid lake, Chen Fan suddenly opened his mouth as a white light streamed out from it. The light shot up a few dozen meters into the air, piercing the morning air as a sharp knife would to a fish belly. The strange white light didn’t disappear until it had hovered above Chen Fan for another few minutes.