Volume 1, Chapter 24 – Refines Medicine in the Cauldron, Experiencing Life and Death In the Jade’s Space
The fire was blazing under the Dragonstar Sand Cauldron. Whenever the fire started to burn out, Zhang Yan, who sat on the meditation mat, took a pile of firewood and threw it under the cauldron.
After Princess Cao Ying delivered the Five Elemental Divine Sand, Zhang Yan went to Ai Zhongwen and exchanged the divine sand with many medicinal herbs. And after a few days, Luo Xiao immediately opened the cauldron and fired it up to refine some pills. After concocting for a dozen days, the number of pills that had been successfully concocted had reached almost a thousand pills, all of which were given to him.
Luo Xiao then put the remaining medicinal herbs into this precious cauldron before finally jumping inside. Then, Zhang Yan was responsible for covering the cauldron with its lid and taking care of the fire as to keep it moderately burning every day. The cauldron’s lid should then be opened on the seventh day. The whole process was called the ‘Medicine Refining Method’.
Originally, Luo Xiao was quite reluctant and was not bold enough to try this method. However, this Dragonstar Sand Cauldron was something that could not be sought and could only be obtained through good fortune. As long as the method was good enough, relying on the burning fire to boil the medicinal herb inside, Luo Xiao could then directly absorb the medicinal herbs’ efficacy by tempering itself in the cauldron. Cleansing the medicinal herbs’ impurities and preserving its essence. Of which can be used to rejuvenate Luo Xiao’s vitality.
According to Luo Xiao injunction, Zhang Yan had to keep the small fire unchanged as to keep the steady temperature every day. And for every seven days, he had to open the cauldron’s lid and throw in a batch of medicinal herbs. Each time Luo Xiao’s body shed a layer of dead skin, it also exerted black filth, which then filled the cauldron. After each tempering process, Luo Xiao’s imposing aura grew more powerful by at least one point. This experience really broadened Zhang Yan’s horizon.
Now, it had reached the third phase of the seventh-day timeframe. This time, according to Luo Xiao, needs a raging fire to continuously burn the cauldron. However, after a long time, even at the time the cauldron’s lid should be opened, there had neither any movements or sounds in the cauldron. There wasn’t even the slightest spiritual qi that could be sensed. Zhang Yan didn’t know whether it was because it was too excessively burned or the entire method process was yet to be completed.
Zhang Yan didn’t dare to rashly open the cauldron since Luo Xiao hadn’t asked him. He then sat down to meditate.
More than a month’s time had passed. He had been practicing the breathing method through the day and night unceasingly, repeatedly swallowing massive amounts of concocted pills. The concocted pills that he had consumed these days were equal to the total amount of concocted pills he had swallowed in the past.
After painstakingly practicing and condensing his True Primordial Qi, the originally chaotic qi in his body became easier to control, as if the lively ape had been tamed and became an obedient cow. As well as a firmer and steadier like black tortoise to finally reside in his Dantian. His Primordial Qi Establishment Realm had gradually stabilized. And at this point, Zhang Yan faintly felt that he should be able to practice the next cultivation step.
Zhang Yan took out the ‘Exquisite Records of the Inner Qi Profound Origins’ manual. Although he had been reading this manual for many times, he still carefully read the manual again as his hand then held the broken jade piece, before he sank his consciousness into the jade’s space to manipulate his avatar.
After advancing in his cultivation, it seemed that the jade’s space became somewhat different than before.
Previously, the space in the jade was shrouded with some kind of misty fog, of which made him unable to distinguish the space’s bottom and top, or even the four directions of this space. It was as if there was nothing in this space other than his avatar. He had once manipulated his avatar to walk in this space in his spare time and found that this space was empty and filled with a turbulent void and emptiness.
But now, he actually felt that he was in a vast space and could see the bottom and the top of this space.
Zhang Yan looked up and saw a faint mass cloud of fresh and refreshing spiritual qi. But the cloud under his feet was thick and muddy, giving off the sensation that he was stepping on the ground. This scenery was like the beginning evolution process after the primordial chaos. The previous condition in this jade’s space could be described as “chaos birthed the seed like a fowl, the avatar amongst them started to dwell”. But now, the condition had changed into “the pure qi ascended and the impure qi descended, as the pair of yin and yang in the divide, and heaven and earth began to decide”.
When his consciousness entered the jade’s space in the previous state, Zhang Yan realized that this avatar was a clone of himself, and was a fake. However, at this moment, the jade’s current state gave him the feeling that the moment his consciousness entered his avatar, it was as if he was really alive in this avatar. The feeling and thoughts were very vivid and clear. He couldn’t even distinguish the differences between his avatar and true body
Zhang Yan felt as if he had been struck with enlightenment. It seemed like the situation inside the jade’s space was changing or evolving due to the advancement of his cultivation, which then made his avatar become more vivid and real.
While his consciousness in the true body was pondering, his avatar walked in the jade’s space. However, space here was very vast, as if it was boundless since he couldn’t find its end.
He secretly mused that this broken jade had other profound secrets far beyond the current phenomenon he could see right now. However, he needed to enhance his own cultivation as a fundamental condition.
At this moment, he was not in the mood to conduct any deep research regarding this matter as he then controlled his avatar to sit on the ground and assume the Overturning Five Heavenly Cores  posture, and began to quietly practice the method described in ‘Exquisite Record’ manual in his heart.
According to the method described in the manual, cultivators needed to gather their Qi and divide it into two. From two it would become four, and it must respectively be directed into the four main meridians. However, each strand of Qi had a different circulation method, each of which cannot have a slight deviation.
Although Zhang Yan had been long mentally prepared. However, the degree of difficulties this time went far beyond his imagination. He tried extremely hard to control his Qi and was barely able to pass through the first step. When he tried to try the second step, his mind was slightly distracted, causing his qi to become chaotic and immediately scatter randomly to various places in his body.
His heart suddenly jolted as his consciousness was abruptly sent back to his true body. He quickly sank his consciousness to the jade’s space again and turned his head, founding that his avatar was on the ground and had been severely injured by qi deviation. Had he practiced the method with his true body at this moment, perhaps he would have been injured and would have damaged his foundation.
He shook his head and took a deep breath before submerging his consciousness into the jade again. With his mind, he quickly manipulated the injured avatar on the ground to stand up.
He previously thought that he hadn’t fully mastered the technique to use his consciousness to control that strand of qi. He then let the avatar’s body recover back to the previous state and didn’t rush to practice again at this moment.
The second strand of qi deviation made him start over from the beginning again, and this time he particularly paid special attention to his qi control. However, according to the method stated in the manual, he needed four strands of qi. Not only did these four strands of qi need to be circulated repeatedly through the meridians’ path, but he also could not lose control of it. But, after painstakingly insisting for almost half an hour, he finally couldn’t control it anymore. He could barely control the avatar, as it suddenly vomited blood and died.
Zhang Yan’s eyebrows twitched, he quickly retracted and controlled his qi. He threw away all his distracting thoughts and controlled the avatar in the jade’s space to sit up again.
He carefully gathered the four strands of qi and carefully controlled them. But after a short while, his avatar fell once again.
However, he didn’t know that this was just the beginning of a long process of honing himself.
The fourth time, he could completely control his qi according to his wants. But suddenly, he lost control of it, causing his qi to become chaotic and scatter again, making him suffocate and die.
The fifth time. When the two strands of qi needed to be blended, he failed to simultaneously converge them to his acupoints’ gate, rending his heart and dying.
The sixth time. As he gathered his qi into the vital meridians because the qi was too impure, it resulted in an entanglement for a second with the outer acupoints’ gates, his lungs were damaged and he died.
The seventh time…
Repeated failures… repeated attempts…
The more Zhang Yan practiced, the more his heart became greatly startled. It was no wonder that Shi Shoujing had reminded him that this manual contained many branches. Circulating his qi through the meridians was far more complex than he had imagined. His True Primordial Qi had to flow or completely stay still. Sometimes it had to penetrate or circulate, sometimes it had to be channeled or stopped. Occasionally being rotated to rise or to slowly go down. Thus, he couldn’t simultaneously pay attention to all 365 acupoint gates.
The most vexing thing about him was that he clearly knew the method to circulate his qi through the meridians. However, he couldn’t control it. Especially when he had to control 108 strands of qi to circulate and shuttle them back and forth through his meridians. Even the slightest qi deviation would turn all previous efforts to naught. The more his avatar experienced death, the uglier his complexion turned.
However, most profound cultivation laws greatly related to the condition of one’s own mind control and mental state. This Dao manual truly contained the most extreme method to guide one’s Qi through the meridians. Apparently, this method intended to lead and merge one’s entire qi and direct it into one place.
When he was practicing the first step of this cultivation method, various meridians were damaged and his true qi retracted back and flowed in the wrong direction, resulting in a severe backlash and damaging his viscera. He had attempted and experienced death more than a hundred and fifty times. From this aspect only, one could imagine how many paths and transformations this cultivation law had.
Zhang Yan shook his head. For such a consciousness splitting method, there was no shortcut to pass through this barrier. He could only rely on repeated attempts over and over again to hone his degree of proficiency.
Also, because each death was a real, it was an incomparable experience. He couldn’t help but secretly self-mock himself. Should he finally finish practicing this method, he could have a grandmaster level accomplishment in being possessed by the Devil.
He believed that those who had never come into contact with this Dao manual, should they try this method without any teachers or elders on their side to support and protect them, it was very likely that they would die a tragic and violent death on the spot.
It was very understandable that Luo Xiao said that practicing the method on this manual would incite the heaven’s wrath. Had one be successful in practicing this cultivation law without relying on any foreign objects or variables, and rely solely on one’s own natural talent, the heavens would never let him off. If even it was possible, Zhang Yan would also throw the lightning to kill that person to death.
He spent more than a month practicing, only to hone his qi control, which was almost equal to ten months for his avatar in the jade’s space. This was also just merely touching the edge to familiarize himself with the every step in this qi circulation method.
Thus far, he had lost count of how many times his avatar had died.
Fortunately, his will was firm and tenacious. Should other people wear his shoes, they would likely become crazy because of the boredom in practicing this monotonous qi circulation method.
But, seeing it from another point of view, it was not like Zhang Yan’s practice had no other results either. He at the least had grasped almost all cultivation laws and techniques in the present age. It could be said that if he were to be compared with other cultivators in regards to qi controlling precision, there would be almost no one that could be at the same level as him.
However, this was almost more than a month’s time, and there was neither movement nor sound from Luo Xiao inside the cauldron. Could it be that it had died?
Zhang Yan stood up. As he was about to see its condition, he suddenly heard someone’s voice resounding from outside, “Is Junior Brother Zhang Yan inside? Come out and speak with me!”
He couldn’t help but feel cold as he quickly stepped out of his cave mansion in just two steps. A handsome youth cultivator clad in white firmly stood on the plank passageway built along the cliff.
It was Ning Chongxuan!
Zhang Yan quickly cupped his hand with a composed expression, “Senior Brother Ning.”
His mind quickly thought of many things. He didn’t know why Ning Chongxuan came here to find him. Could it be that he had discovered Luo Xiao here?
It’s impossible. Had he found about it, he should have long rushed in.
As Ning Chongxuan stared at him, he suddenly stepped forward and patted his shoulder, “Speaking here is quite inconvenient, come along with me.”
Zhan Yan suddenly felt that there were flowers in front of him, so he looked around the scenery in the surroundings for a moment once again. He had appeared on top of the solitary peak, while the abyss was under his feet. His body slightly trembled, and he started to adjust his mind and body from the discomfort to finally stand firm.
Ning Chongxuan nodded, praising, “Very good, a cultivator must be able to discard any foreign objects or illusions, the one that truly exists is only oneself. You need to know that all disturbances and troubles are birthed from one’s own mind and heart’s instability. It has never been birthed from one’s own soul.”
His present attitude was very different from the day he was leaving this peak that day. It looked like that there was a hint of appreciation from his eyes. Zhang Yan was clueless as to why he was acting mysteriously like this.
“I had been searching back and forth in this mountain for two months, but I still haven’t found the trail of that Demon Serpent. Presumably, since it hadn’t been severely injured and has not died yet, it should have been hiding somewhere here. However, I should go back to the Sect, since I have no time left to take care of this matter anymore. But you are the only cultivator living on this peak, so I will give you something in the case that Demon Serpent comes out and harms you. This token may able to protect your life from it.”
Ning Chongxuan flicked his finger, and a small bright jade flew into the Zhang Yan’s sleeve. Since it was too fast, he couldn’t see what it was.
“You go now, remember to uphold your pure heart. Should the heavens fate for us to meet again someday, I will be recommending you to be accepted by my Immortal Master as a disciple.”
Ning Chongxuan’s hand pushed him and Zhang Yan’s body slightly trembled. But yet, he didn’t feel anything. When he raised his head and looked around, he had returned to the mountain foot of the Star Peak.
He didn’t know that a short while after he was taken away by Ning Chongxuan, a person’s shadow was probing and had arrived at his cave mansion’s door. The person looked around at the surroundings several times as the person’s face immediately exposed a happy expression. The person then immediately covered his complexion and quickly strode forward into the cave.