AIP - Chapter 67: The True Intent Revealed
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
In his little room, Tang Jie grabbed a steel needle and dipped it in a paint made from powdered saltpeter, mica, and bluefire shards. Tang Jie carefully thrust the needle into the formation lines he had drawn beforehand. He had made this paint according to the secret recipe left by Xu Muyang, and it was uniquely suited for transferring spiritual energy. Once spiritual energy began to flow through the paint along the formations, they would form the corresponding spell as soon as the formation was activated.
In truth, formations, talismans, and spells all shared the same originating principle. They all used circulation of spiritual energy to achieve some desired effect.
Daoist Ku had once asked in class, "Everyone knows that the world has spiritual energy, but what is spiritual energy?"
Very few people were able to say anything meaningful.
According to Daoist Ku, spiritual energy was a sort of fundamental matter that objectively existed in the cultivation world. Just like atoms, it could constitute all things.
It differed in that spiritual energy possessed spirituality.
This "spirituality" was not the same thing as spiritual energy. It referred to a trait that differentiated it from all other kinds of matter in the world.
The wind had no consciousness, the rain had no consciousness, wood had no consciousness, stone had no consciousness, but spirit did have consciousness.
Spirit had consciousness, but it was ignorant and unaware.
Spirit was the origin of all!
It possessed life, yet it was not living. The greatest difference setting it apart from all other things that lacked awareness was that it could react in response to orders. It was like a stone given life, able to listen to orders.
Spirit was this sort of substance.
All spells were fundamentally different orders given to spirits.
All the loops and all the endless changes had their foundation in this.
Thus, spells were just commands—commands meant specifically for spiritual energy so that it would move as the user desired.
Talismans, formations, and spells were all different ways to command spiritual energy, but as they existed for different purposes, their methods also differed.
They could be compared to the brush, the pen, and the pencil. They were all for writing words, but they had different purposes and existed in different domains.
Spells resided in the human body. The body was the basis, and the meridians the paths. What mattered here was the heart's desire.
Talismans were on talisman paper and used paper as the basis and the ink lines as paths. What mattered here was convenience.
Formations existed in nature and used nature as the basis and formation lines as the paths. What mattered here was power.
While they differed on the surface, they were all connected in the fundamentals.
This was why Little Yiyi could use formations like spells. She had been born understanding befuddling formations, her body naturally in tune with them. This allowed her to compose the formation within her body and use it as if it were a spell.
As for refining formations, they used the puppet as the basis and formation lines as the path. What was important here was flexibility.
The refining formation would change according to the level of the material used in the puppet and the shape of the puppet.
This combat puppet used Electro Wood for the torso, so the most appropriate refining formation should have some connection to lightning.
Tang Jie was currently carving a lightning formation: the Minor Celestial Wolf Flash Formation.
This was a refining formation that Xu Muyang had inadvertently come across in his early days traveling the world. It was originally called the Celestial Wolf Flash Formation, and it was originally intended to be used on large wolf puppets.
After comprehending the Dao of Formations, Tang Jie had been researching this refining formation, and he found that it could be used on smaller puppets if one sacrificed some of the abilities, and so he had devoted some time specifically to researching this problem.
In his three years at the Wei Estate, he didn't have a mantra that he could use to cultivate, so he had poured the majority of his energy into this project. At that time, he was only thinking about how to get the best puppet while using the least amount of effort.
Even so, the high cost of making a puppet caused him to give up on the idea for a time. It was only when Wei Tianchong's talents emerged that he decided to knuckle down and focus.
The modified refining formation was named the Minor Celestial Wolf Flash Formation by Tang Jie. As a miniature refining formation, it specialized in drawing in lightning energy to make the puppet move faster and strike with lightning-infused attacks.
The process for carving a refining formation was extremely complex. Each formation line needed to be meticulously calculated. Tang Jie needed the entire afternoon to finish only a small part, and the effort left his forehead caked in sweat.
Just when he was about to sit down and rest, he heard someone shouting outside.
Tang Jie quickly put the puppet away and then went out to take a look. Liu Hongyan and Ping Jingyue had come with several classmates he had gotten to know at the Freedom Society's founding day ceremony.
When he saw them, Tang Jie smiled and said, "So what wind has blown you my way again today?"
Ping Jingyue rolled her eyes. "You still have the nerve to ask? Ever since that theft incident, your Carefree House has become a fortress, with nobody allowed to come inside. Don't you know that people have started putting bets on you now?"
"Betting? On what?" Tang Jie asked in curiosity.
Liu Hongyan replied, "On who can break this formation, naturally, and get through the main gate of your Carefree House. We've made a bet with the Absolute Spirit Club that we can go through your main gate whenever we want."
Tang Jie laughed. "You guys must be really bored."
Ping Jingyue giggled and looked at Tang Jie. "Then what about you? Are you going to let us make a little extra money?"
"Do you even need to ask?" Tang Jie opened up the formation and said, "Come inside."
The Freedom Society students chuckled as they went into the Carefree House, and once they were inside, they teased him some more, joking about how Basking Moon Academy protecting Tang Jie had essentially turned him into a canary in a cage, and there was no telling if it was a blessing or a curse. Tang Jie laughed with them, and all of them happily chatted.
In the eight-sided pavilion outside the Carefree House, that Student Min appeared again. He looked at the entrance of the Carefree House and wrote on a talisman, "The Freedom Society members can go in. It seems that Tang Jie only lets students of the same year enter his house. If we want to catch Tang Jie, we have to go from there."
A few moments later, a reply came. "Have Trickster Ghost go."
After sending off Liu Hongyan's group, Tang Jie went back to work on the refining formation.
The Minor Celestial Wolf Flash Formation took a whole four days to complete, after which Tang Jie needed to start on another formation for it.
To complete this formation, Tang Jie needed to take a trip to Spirit Wonder Market.
At Spirit Wonder Market, Tang Jie confidently walked around as he sought the materials he needed.
As he looked around, he found that he had come by the spirit grain stall from last time.
That Madam Shui was leaning against her stall, looking at him with a smile.
Tang Jie walked over and saluted her. "Greetings, Madam Shui."
Madam Shui smiled. "You have a good memory. Your group could be considered the earliest batch of students to understand how to survive in this academy."
"Madam flatters me too much, and I dare not accept this praise. Student Tang Jie wishes Madam well."
"Mm, you also speak rather politely. Seeing as you know some tact and I'm rather happy today, just say what you want from me and I can sell it to you at a discount. You can also save yourself the trouble of being scammed again by your upperclassmen."
Tang Jie hastily said, "I did not come to buy spirit grains today."
Madam Shui rolled her eyes. "I sell only grains at this grain store of mine, but who said that I only had this one store?"
Tang Jie was taken aback as Madam Shui said, "Follow me."
She began to walk to the other side.
As he followed Madam Shui, he arrived at a pavilion.
The pavilion was five stories tall and brightly decorated.
Tang Jie was startled by this pavilion. "Spirit Platform Pavilion? Madam was the one who runs Spirit Platform Pavilion?"
Spirit Platform Pavilion was one of the most famous stores of Spirit Wonder Market. It sold magic tools, talisman paper, various materials, and basically everything else one needed at the Spirit Platform Realm, so it was called Spirit Platform Pavilion.
Madam Shui smiled. "My son was the one who opened it, but he's so busy that he rarely comes by. I run it for him most of the time. Come on; let me see what you need."
Madam Shui waved at Tang Jie to come in.
A boy servant immediately came over. Of course, this job was held by a student of Basking Moon Academy.
Once a student passed the culture exam, they would have much more free time. Some people who got bored of cultivating would come out and get jobs to make a little money.
Cultivation, missions, miscellaneous studies, and working were all choices available to students, and what they chose could indicate the different paths they might walk in life.
This student came up and asked, "Junior Brother, is there anything you need?"
Tang Jie hesitated before finally saying, "I need some purple ink, some Spirit-Closing Powder, and some bone-piercing needles."
"Spirit-Closing Powder?" Madam Shui was shocked. "This is poison used for dispersing spirit. What do you need it for?"
Tang Jie hurriedly answered, "The culture exam will be in a few days. Tang Jie believes that he will pass the culture exam without a problem, and plans to take on a trial after the exam is over."
"Going out on a trial mission right after the exam? That's a little too rushed, isn't it? You're a new student without a firm foundation and still lacking in strength. Even the simplest trial ground is too dangerous for you." Madam Shui frowned in concern.
"That's why I need the Spirit-Closing Powder," Tang Jie replied. "I don't have any other way. My resources are limited and my cultivation speed is too slow. If I don't make some money, I might not be able to reach Mortal Shedding within ten years."
Madam Shui looked suspiciously at Tang Jie, and then she grabbed him and sent energy into his meridians. Tang Jie was shocked and tried to pull away, but he couldn't shake off her grip. Fortunately, Madam Shui drew her hand back a few moments later. "So you are already at the Spirit Spring Tier. As you have a five-cycle Jade Gate, that's not too bad at all. It can't be considered particularly good, but even if you don't use spirit medicine, you should be able to enter the Mortal Shedding Realm in ten years without a problem. But your body is rather strange. How is your blood energy so powerful?"
She inspected Tang Jie's body, and Tang Jie started to sweat. With a smile, he said, "This lowly one has exercised his body since he was young, so my constitution is rather good."
Madam Shui chuckled, knowing that he wasn't being sincere, but she didn't push the matter. "Your secrets are your own affair, and I don't have a hobby of prying too much. Since you have a rather solid constitution, you should be able to deal with a few small fiends. But if you actually run into something formidable, then you'll be dead for sure. Forget it. It's all your own business, and I can't be bothered. I do have Spirit-Closing Powder, and I can give it to you. But you must not use it on your classmates. If I find out, I'll have your hide."
Tang Jie hastily said, "My thanks, Madam. Tang Jie would not dare to use it on my fellows."
After getting the materials he needed, Tang Jie returned to the Carefree House and once more began to work on a refining formation.
This refining formation was much simpler than the Minor Celestial Wolf Flash Formation, and it took only one afternoon to complete.
He looked at the complete lightning wolf puppet and had it move around. The wolf puppet instantly shot to the millstone in the rear courtyard. It swept out its claws and immediately left three deep claw marks on the millstone, andt this was without the refining formation's spell being activated.
Tang Jie was satisfied. While the puppet's defenses were on the weak side, it was fast and agile, its attacks sharp and penetrating. If it were used in a sneak attack, it could heavily injure a Spirit Sea student. If used well, it would be an excellent trump card at his current level.
But when he thought about Madam Shui, Tang Jie felt his confidence evaporate.
This was the first time he had encountered someone who had discovered how strong he was with just a single touch. It wasn't such a big deal for his Spirit Spring Tier cultivation to be exposed, but she had even noticed the body-refining effects of the Visceral Manifestation Classic.
Moreover, the tough skin that he was so proud of was nothing more than "a rather solid constitution" to Madam Shui. Tang Jie started to sweat again as he recalled the encounter.
Basking Moon Academy was truly a place of crouching tigers and hidden dragons. Even a random grain store owner possessed such lofty cultivation. He wouldn't even find it strange now if some unassuming lady sweeping the ground were to suddenly come over and say, "You're not cultivating this mantra right. You need to do this, and this…"
Only now did he truly understand that strength was the most reliable thing in this world.
All intelligence and schemes had to be established on a foundation of sufficient strength. Without this strength, everything else was just a momentary illusion.
He had been lucky that the relationship between Godhead Palace and the Basking Moon Sect had given him an opportunity to exploit.
But this luck was limited and would run out one day.
At that time, he would truly be at a dead end.
"Before then, I have to get enough strength to protect myself," Tang Jie said to himself.
After he finished the puppet, Tang Jie didn't immediately give it to Wei Tianchong. Using the excuse that the refining formation was time-consuming, he held onto it for a few more days.
He spent the following days diligently cultivating. As his Spirit Spring Tier cultivation had been discovered, he no longer kept hiding it. He went to the lecturing stone and took the Level 2 mantra to continue cultivating. Fortunately, the time that had passed allowed him to match the speed of a five-cycle Jade Gate, so nobody suspected him.
On this night, another guest paid a visit to the Carefree House.
It was Zhuang Shen, a student of the Freedom Society. Tang Jie had met him at a few of the club meetings.
He invited Zhuang Shen inside and casually asked, "Brother Zhuang, what brings you here today?"
"It's nothing. I just have a few things to ask Brother Tang." Once he was inside, Zhuang Shen casually walked around, inspecting the area. He placed his right hand in his bag and tossed out a diagram from it. The diagram vanished into the air, and then a blue curtain surrounded the Carefree House. It seemed like this entire area had been isolated.
"Oh? What about?" Tang Jie was walking in front of him and seemingly hadn't noticed.
Zhuang Shen laughed. "Naturally, it's about Brother Tang's true identity!"
A sword flashed, slashing right at Tang Jie!