Editor: Dhael Ligerkeys
“So? Are they alright?” Yi Yi asked worriedly.
Although she couldn’t feel anything wrong from Amber—in fact, Amber had been growing faster than usual for the past couple days—her fears stemmed from the unknown.
“They are breathing the essence of the moon. It is just the natural instinct of a Spirit Beast.”
A voice suddenly rang behind them. Lu Ye and Yi Yi hurriedly turned around and saluted. “Elder Bai.”
Bai Qian had appeared behind them before they realized it. He had clearly noticed the oddity as well.
“Are you saying that Ju Jia is a mutant cultivator, Elder Bai?”
Lu Ye recalled the strange inner core in Ju Jia’s body. This wasn’t the first time he wondered if Ju Jia was a mutant cultivator, but it was proven later that Ju Jia was definitely a human being. Not only that, mutant cultivators did not actually have an inner core. It was something that only a Spirit Beast possessed. That was why a mutant cultivated like humans after transforming into one.
Now though, it would seem that his knowledge was flawed.
“One of his ancestors is probably a mutant cultivator, which is why he inherited some of their bloodline. However, a mutant’s bloodline should grow thinner over the generations instead of the opposite, so I’m not quite sure what is going on either.”
“That said, you should definitely do your best to grow your two companions’ strength. I said that breathing the essence of the moon is a Spirit Beast’s natural instinct, but in fact not every Spirit Beast possesses such an ability. Any Spirit Beast who can do this must be in possession of an extraordinary bloodline. Who knows, their ancestors might even have been extremely powerful in the past.”
It was clear from Elder Bai’s words that he was quite optimistic of Ju Jia and Amber’s future.
Amber was an obvious one. He had never heard of a tiger-type Spirit Beast that could convert apparitions into Ghost Spirits. Moreover, it could consume Spirit Pills and even Spirit Stones directly without suffering any consequences. This was something even Lu Ye couldn’t do.
As for Ju Jia, Lu Ye already had high hopes for the extraordinary body tempering cultivator, but now he turned out to be even more amazing than he seemed to be. Elder Bai’s prediction that his ancestor was a powerful Spirit Beast might be spot on.
“But Elder Bai, Ju Jia has never displayed such qualities in the past. What could have triggered it to happen so suddenly?”
Bai Qian let out a chuckle and tapped his head with a finger. “Have you already forgotten that he was poisoned a couple days ago? The experience has probably awakened something in him.”
Lu Ye nodded. That was a reasonable assumption.
“Oof, I can’t believe I’m getting tired already. My age is really getting to me. I’ll see you lads and lasses tomorrow,” Bai Qian said as he turned around. He let out a light cough before walking back toward his room.
Lu Ye snickered in his head. He knew what Bai Qian was doing, but he wasn’t going to play the game, at least not now. So, he told Yi Yi, “See Elder Bai off, will you.”
“Okay,” Yi Yi replied hurriedly before chasing after the old man.
After Yi Yi came back, she returned to Lu Ye’s side and stared at the duo still cultivating under the moon for a bit. She then muttered, “Do you think Elder Bai is right, Lu Ye?”
“What are you referring to exactly?”
“The part where he said Ju Jia awakened something because he was poisoned.”
“Elder Bai is a worldly man. I’m sure he has his reasons for saying that.”
“No wonder Ju Jia’s been acting odd as of late. He’s already a man of few words, but recently he’s even quieter and dumber than usual.”
“Ju Jia is not dumb,” Lu Ye chided her while rapping a knuckle against her head. The guy was only simple, not stupid.
Yi Yi hugged her head and pouted.
“Well, now that we know they’re fine, let’s leave them to their own devices.” Lu Ye went back to his own room and resumed his studies after that.
The Way of Wards was broad and deep. Not even a grandmaster like Elder Bai dared to claim that he had mastered it completely. Just like the Way of Glyphs, there was always something new to learn, so it was impossible for Lu Ye to learn everything in just a short time.
That said, Elder Bai knew exactly what Lu Ye wanted to learn. That was why he taught him mostly about his experience in ward breaching. These experiences were insights Elder Bai had gleaned himself over a lifetime, and only a handful of people had ever gotten to hear them. Thankfully, Lu Ye had proven to be a fast learner. In fact, he had never encountered anyone who was as quick on the uptake as Lu Ye. He was very satisfied with Lu Ye’s progress to say the least.
Sometimes, Elder Bai could not help but lament the fact that Lu Ye wasn’t a member of the Heavenly Derivative Sect. If he was, he believed that the young man would be able to carry their sect to greater heights.
This was also why he taught Lu Ye everything he knew. He just could not bear not to polish a rough gem like him.
A month passed by in the blink of an eye. One day, Elder Bai said to Lu Ye, “I know that your ambition lies not in the Way of Wards, and you’re studying it only to breach the Grand Wards. Even so, I believe your attainment is enough to challenge the Hundred Wards Tower now. There isn’t much I can teach you anymore, but do not think that the Way of Wards is shallow because of my ignorance. I hope you will continue to study it even if it may never be your main focus.”
“Yes, Elder Bai,” Lu Ye replied respectfully.
“I want you to carefully think about the ward flags you wish to build when you return to your room tonight. Tomorrow, I will take you to the forge to build them. Only then will you be properly equipped to challenge the Hundred Wards Tower.”
When Lu Ye first heard about the Hundred Wards Tower from Zhao Li, he had wanted to challenge it immediately. It wasn’t until he studied under Elder Bai for a month that he realized that things weren’t as simple as he thought.
It was true he could challenge it directly, but he would not have been able to overcome the challenges in an effective or efficient manner. It was because he lacked the appropriate tools to do so, a.k.a. the ward flags. Ward flags would greatly improve his ability to create or breach wards.
“Thank you, Elder Bai.” Lu Ye produced a jade bottle from his Storage Bag and pushed it in front of Elder Bai. “You have given me your full attention and taught me well for the past month, and this disciple is incredibly grateful for what you did. Please accept this as a token of my gratitude.”
It was none other than the jade bottle containing the Soul Cleansing Water, but there were only eight drops inside it.
This wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision, but the instruction of his own sect master. When Tang Yifeng learned that Elder Bai was personally tutoring Lu Ye on the Way of Wards, he immediately told the young man to prepare this gift. He was also the one who decided on the exact amount of the Soul Cleansing Water.
There were plenty of expert ward cultivators in the Heavenly Derivative Sect. Even a Cloud River Realm ward cultivator could’ve provided Lu Ye the education he needed. Therefore, there must be a reason Elder Bai himself had deigned to teach a lowly Spirit Creek Realm cultivator, no matter how talented he was.
And there were a couple. One, the Crimson Blood Sect and the Hevenly Derivative Sect shared some old ties with one another. Two, Shui Yuan saved Zhao Li’s life.
They weren’t the main reason Elder Bai had undertaken the task of educating Lu Ye, however. No, the biggest reason he did it was for the Soul Cleansing Water he owned.
Obviously, he could not ask the young man for it. It would be even worse if he made it a transactional thing. That was why he decided to earn it by offering his knowledge and experience.
Lu Ye was a compassionate man who could give up something as precious as the Soul Cleansing Water to save someone he just knew for a couple of days. If he taught him the Way of Wards seriously, he was sure that the young man would repay the favor.
The only way a Spirit Creek Realm cultivator could properly thank a Divine Ocean Realm cultivator was the Soul Cleansing Water.
Bai Qian’s plot was as obvious as it was understandable. The sect master had figured out his intentions the instant he heard that the man was teaching Lu Ye himself. That was why he had given Lu Ye those instructions.
The night Yi Yi had taken Lu Ye to see Ju Jia and Amber cultivate via breathing the essence of the moon, Bai Qian had complained about his age before he left. He was really hinting at Lu Ye that he would appreciate a certain valuable gift. If Lu Ye had not spoken to the sect master before this, he would not have been able to decipher the old man’s meaning. But since he did, he could only snicker helplessly.
Sure, Bai Qian was an old man, but he was also a Divine Ocean Realm cultivator. How could a night walk possibly tire him as much as he claimed?
Bai Qian’s heart skipped a beat as he stared at the jade bottle in front of him. He let out a chuckle and said, “I respectfully accept your gift.”
The next day, Bai Qian took Lu Ye to the Heavenly Derivative Sect’s forge. It was one of the most heavily guarded locations of the headquarters.
Normally, the forge was overflowing with disciples. Those who had cultivated the Way of Wards to a certain extent would often come here to forge their own ward flags and ward keystones.
However, the place was conspicuously silent today. Not a single person could be seen anywhere.
It was Bai Qian’s doing, of course. Lu Ye was still faking his death after all.
The forge was located about three hundred meters beneath a Spirit Peak. Yes, it was located underground. There was a wooden elevator that led straight down into a seemingly bottomless hole. Lu Ye looked at his surroundings curiously while Bai Qian operated the elevator. He saw many interlinking gears that were probably made by Golem Masters.
The lower he went, the hotter the environment became. By the time he reached the three hundred meter mark, the air was hot enough to repel any ordinary mortal.
The Heavenly Derivative Sect had dug chambers of all shapes and sizes beneath the ground. He could feel hot air blowing out of them.
Lu Ye followed behind Bai Qian until they arrived at the deepest karst cave. They stopped in front of a forging table.
The forging table was ten meters long and three meters wide. There was a flat space used to hammer equipment and a good number of inlay molds on top of it. Judging from the shape of the molds, the forging table clearly wasn’t only used to forge ward flags and ward keystones.
Finally, there were a bunch of forging tools next to the table, and a furnace in front of it. Hot air was blowing out from the bottom of the furnace.
“The Heavenly Derivative Sect knows how to force Spirit Artifacts too?” Lu Ye asked while admiring the molds above the forging table.
Bai Qian chuckled. “Cultivation isn’t cheap, so everyone has to do something to earn the resources they need. While there are some artificers in the sect, the Spirit Artifacts they create aren’t particularly impressive. Let’s just say that they make just enough to make ends meet.”
While saying this, Bai Qian took off his shirt and tossed it to the side carelessly, revealing a very muscular torso. Lu Ye’s eyelids twitched involuntarily at the sight.
[I cannot believe he had the gall to say he was getting old and tired when he had a body like this…]
“Since your objective is to breach wards, let us start by forging a ward flag that does exactly that. Watch me closely as I forge,” Bai Qian instructed while grabbing a forging hammer from the side. The hammer wasn’t particularly huge, but Lu Ye could tell that it was quite heavy. Bai Qian made it look as light as a feather though.
“Fire is the most essential component of forging, and a Fire Attribute cultivator who cultivates a Fire-type cultivation technique like you holds a natural advantage in this area. But what about those who do not have your natural advantage? Well, they can only rely on external help. That is why we set our forge where the Earth Fire is located and use wards to channel its fury,” Elder Bai activated the fire channeling ward as he explained.
Soon, the karst cave grew even hotter, and Earth Fire seeped out from the bottom of the furnace. It quickly turned the furnace bright red.
Something clicked in Lu Ye’s head as he stared at the fire. He had a feeling that the Tree of Glyphs could absorb it. Moreover, the Flame of Earthen Spirits he bought from the Vault of Providence was very similar to this Earth Fire, which probably meant that they shared the same origin. Quality wise though, this Earth Fire was clearly inferior to the Flame of Earthen Spirits.