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AIP - Chapter 59: Meeting

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr

The whirlpool in the body was constantly revolving, growing larger and larger, slowly expanding the Spiritual Space at a rate that couldn't be perceived by the naked eye.

Once all the spiritual energy was used up, the whirlpool disappeared and this cultivation session came to an end.

Tang Jie felt out that Spiritual Space and knew that it could hold about eighty drops of spirit liquid. He was getting closer and closer to the Spirit Spring.

The Major and Minor Circuit Heavens got stronger as one grew more proficient with them, and they would circulate faster and faster. Otherwise, at the base speed, it would take decades to reach the Spirit Sea Tier, which required ten thousand drops.

Tang Jie was growing more and more proficient with the Circuit Heavens, and his spirit senses were also improving. In a single night, he could circulate six or seven Major Circuit Heavens, and at this speed, he would need only ten more days to reach the Spirit Spring level.

According to the standards of Basking Moon Academy, two months to open a Spirit Eye was normal.

After that, it was six months for a Spirit Spring, a year and a half for a Spirit Lake, and four and a half years for a Spirit Sea. The remaining two years were for charging at Mortal Shedding, a total of eight years.

Each division, from spring to lake to sea, had a tenfold difference. For the tenfold increase in each tier, the cultivation speed needed to increase by three times and the time needed to increase by three times. This was the only way to keep progressing.

For most students, as they practiced more and more, their Circuit Heavens would turn faster and faster, and so increasing the speed by three times with each new phase wasn't difficult at all. The problem was that each tier of the Spirit Platform Realm required upgrading the mantra once, which would mean new transformations. This meant that the students would have to learn a new Circuit Heaven mantra after just familiarizing themselves with the first, and the difficulty would suddenly spike.

Although the new mantra had the old one as a basis, there would always be a few awkward spots that would drag down their progress.

This was why the cultivation standard used four cycles as the baseline.

A nine-cycle could complete their Spirit Sea in as little as three years.

But a three-cycle was toeing the danger line. Breaking into Mortal Shedding in ten years would be good enough.

Basking Moon Academy only allowed students to stay for ten years, ensuring that three-cycle students still had a high chance of entering Mortal Shedding. Of course, those of worse aptitude truly had no other method than to rely on their effort and luck.

Tang Jie had only been in school for three months. With the help of the Visceral Manifestation Classic, he was at the front when it came to speed, but he didn't have any support besides that, so he was at the tail of the first pack. Other people needed two months to get to Spirit Spring, but he only needed ten-some days.

At this speed, three years for Spirit Sea wasn't too realistic, but four or five years was completely possible.

He saw that he didn't have enough time until mealtime to finish another Major Circuit Heaven, so he practiced his sword art and the Aqualight Shroud.

Compared to the Twelve-Form Horizon Sword, the Aqualight Shroud was much more troublesome to practice.

Spells and arts generally consisted of two phases.

The first was to circulate energy through the body.

The second was to summon the power through a magic formula.

Cultivators guided spiritual energy through their body and altered it, making it like a formation that resonated with the Great Dao, and through this, could achieve numerous wondrous abilities. This was called "art manifestation" or "art circulation".

Once art circulation was complete, the user needed to have the energy move according to their will, drawing it out of the body and then commanding it. It wasn't as simple as gathering up an energy arrow and just tossing it out. This phase was known as "art guiding".

Art manifestation required circulating energy akin to a Circuit Heaven, and different spells and arts required different methods of circulation.

Art guiding required a formula, and different formulas had different requirements.

For new students, art manifestation was the most painful affair. After all, one had to control the energy route according to the method, and each art and spell was like a diagram. Simply memorizing it was a tiring affair. In comparison, the formula was much simpler. Only a few hand gestures and commands would be enough to have the spell moving according to one's will. There was a lot of shared commonality.

For older cultivators, the situation was exactly the opposite. They had already gone through the most difficult part of art manifestation. After enough practice, art manifestation became like a Circuit Heaven, and manifesting a spell or art often took the space of a single breath. On the contrary, the formula used to draw out the spell was difficult to compress, and worst of all was that formulas were impossible to hide in battle. Often, your opponent would see you forming some spell with your hand and would essentially know what you were trying to do.

As a beginner, Tang Jie faced the problem of art manifestation.

Aqualight Shroud's art manifestation required first consuming spirit liquid, converting it into energy, and then guiding the energy through the prescribed path, after which one would use the formula to draw out the spell. Each step was rather troublesome and required endless repetition to master.

Put bluntly, Major Circuit Heavens, Minor Circuit Heavens, and spells all required long and arduous practice to master.

However, proficiency in a spell would increase the speed at which the spell could be cast. The spell's power depended on a person's cultivation realm, aptitude, and weapon, the cultivation art, and the spell itself. And the finishing touch to all this was the completeness of the casting.

Even worse was that the limit of magic power meant that spells could not be cultivated whenever one pleased. Eighty drops of spirit liquid was only enough to use the Aqualight Shroud eight times, and at Tang Jie's current mastery of the Minor Circuit Heaven, he could only create five drops of spirit liquid with each circuit. This meant that Tang Jie could only recover 120 drops every 24 hours, and so he could only practice the Aqualight Shroud twelve times, and this would mean not doing any other kind of cultivation in those 24 hours.

The Visceral Manifestation Classic was of no help here. He could only make the best out of every attempt.

Tang Jie circulated energy according to the mantra and then used the formula. It took quite a while for the Aqualight Shroud to finally form. The time from when he began circulating energy for the spell to its final emergence was twenty seconds. Tang Jie bitterly smiled. "At this speed, by the time I release the shroud, I'll have been hacked to death ten times."

He had to find a way to improve.

The best method was none other than spirit-returning medicine. This medicine increased spiritual energy and could increase the recovery effect of a single Minor Circuit Heaven by several dozen times.

But such medicine was incredibly valuable, and the greatest drawback of spirit medicines was that they could only help for a moment. Cultivation was a long-term affair. If he really wanted to use spirit medicine to cover for his massive gap in talent, not even the Wei Clan would have enough money.

After some thought, Tang Jie gave up on the idea of buying medicine. Compared to him, the Wu couple needed it more.

As he was thinking about this, Shi Meng arrived.

"The young master has called you to his side."

"What's up?" Tang Jie asked, putting away his sword.

"The first young master and second young master have come."

At the Meditation Garden, Tang Jie saw that there were four others besides Wei Tianchong in the garden.

Tang Jie had already seen Wei Ming. At the head of the other three was a tall young man with a square face who looked rather like Wei Danbai. With one glance, he knew that this was the first young master, Wei Tianzhi.

As for Third Young Master Wei Tianchong, he had an egg-shaped face, inheriting his mother's looks, so it was no wonder his mother favored her younger son.

Until a few days ago, Wei Tianzhi had been training outside and had no time to see him. But he had finally come to visit today.

There were two people at Wei Tianzhi's side, and Tang Jie recognized one of them at a glance. This had to be Wu Xing. He was the son of the Wu couple, so he had some of his father's charm.

These four were conversing in the courtyard when Tang Jie arrived. He bowed to Wei Tianchong and said, "Greetings, Third Young Master."

He then turned to Wei Tianzhi. "First Young Master! Second Young Master!"

Wei Ming was rather polite, nodding at Tang Jie.

Wei Tianzhi looked at Tang Jie and said, "You must be Tang Jie. I've heard about you. It wasn't long ago that you got the nickname of Mad Student. You're a servant student, yet your conduct is rather showy. You are not as steady and mature as Mother described you to be."

The first young master was basically like a younger version of the father. Even his tone was mature and old-fashioned.

Tang Jie could only answer, "Yes. When this lowly one entered school, he momentarily lost himself upon the fulfillment of his dream. First Young Master, please forgive me. This will not happen again in the future."

Wei Tianzhi nodded and then pointed at the people at his side. "This is Xiao Zhe and Wu Xing, my servant students. Now that I think about it, Wu Xing is your older brother. This is the first time you two brothers are meeting, so you should get to know each other."

Tang Jie turned to Wu Xing. "Older Brother Wu Xing, Tang Jie was fortunate enough to be saved by Father and Mother and get this chance to enter school. Such generosity is difficult to reciprocate. In the future, if Older Brother needs anything, please seek out your younger brother, and I will do all that I can."

Wu Xing nodded. "There's no need to be polite. Father and Mother praised you as filial, and the two of them relied on your care while I was gone."

He spoke politely, but his tone was flat and lacked any sort of affection for a younger brother. Tang Jie didn't find this strange. After all, this was their first meeting, and they could naturally build up their relationship over time.

Once he was seated, everyone got to chatting.

Tang Jie learned that Wei Tianzhi and Wu Xing had gone off to the Thunderclap Mountains a few days ago to complete a herb-gathering mission for the school. While they called it training, it was really a way to make money.

To cultivate, one needed enough resources. The clan subsidy alone wasn't enough for the bottomless hole of cultivation. The students could never have enough money when it came to this pursuit. Thus, even the rich young scions had to go out and make money from time to time.

Thus, Basking Moon Academy prepared training grounds for its students, for them to both gather resources and train their skills.

The Thunderclap Mountains were located in the northern reaches of Sageheart. This was an extremely dangerous place that was crawling with fierce beasts, but it also had numerous natural treasures. Students from Basking Moon Academy would explore the place every year, and while there were those who successfully obtained many resources, there were also quite a few who lost their lives.

Wei Tianchong asked his older brother how the harvest was, at which Wei Tianzhi shook his head and sighed. "The Thunderclap Mountains are incredibly dangerous. On my first day, I saw an upperclassman get devoured by a fiend with my own eyes. Let alone a harvest, it was good enough to get back home alive."

"But didn't the school dispatch an esteemed teacher? How did someone die?" Wei Tianchong didn't understand.

Wei Tianzhi answered, "It's true that there was an esteemed teacher, but the problem was that there were a lot of students and not enough good things to go around. The school has a rule that the esteemed teacher is only there to protect you, but whatever the esteemed teacher takes action to gain belongs to the school, not the students. To get something, you have to leave the protection of the teacher, so all the students ultimately choose to go their own way. I ran into danger on my first day in the Thunderclap Mountains and was fortunate to survive, so I didn't dare to leave the esteemed teacher's side after that. By working as a servant, I managed to get a bottle of spirit medicine, but it's just a cup of water on a burning cart."

Wei Tianzhi sighed and shook his head again.

He was the first young master of a wealthy clan, and he had never served someone else. But in the Thunderclap Mountains, he had needed to serve the teacher to get anything to eat. He was naturally in a sour mood.

If he was like that, Wu Xing and Xiao Zhe were naturally no better.

"So then it will be difficult for Big Brother to reach Mortal Shedding within ten years?" Wei Tianchong said, feeling aggrieved in his older brother's place.

"Mortal Shedding? I stopped dreaming about that long ago!" Wei Tianzhi burst out in laughter. Once he was done laughing, he said in a sorrowful tone, "Seven years! I've been in school for seven years, but because I lack talent and have only two cycles, I've only been able to reach the Spirit Lake Tier, still far away from the Spirit Sea. I've let down Father and Mother. My only hope now is that I can complete my Spirit Sea by the ten-year mark so that I can get a method for reaching the Mortal Shedding Realm…"

The rule of Basking Moon Academy was "teach as you go."

If one could reach the Spirit Sea Tier by the ten-year mark, even if one couldn't reach Mortal Shedding, one at least had the right to receive a method that could allow one to break into Mortal Shedding. Thus, even after one left the school, they could slowly cultivate on their own time and still have a chance at Mortal Shedding.

He just wasn't permitted to transmit the technique to outsiders.

There were many students like this. Even though they failed at the school, they didn't truly lose hope. Quite a few of them even managed to succeed in advancing after leaving school.

Otherwise, the great clans would have to consider whether this endeavor was worth the difficult barrier of entry, the high chance of elimination, and the enormous expense.

It was precisely because of this back-up path that one-cycles and two-cycles still dared to come to school. "You can do it in ten years, and I can manage it in twenty!"

Of course, after reaching Mortal Shedding, they didn't have any mantra for what came next, so they often stopped at the basic level.

Most of the Rosecloud Domain's Spirit Masters were of this kind.

Wei Ming was a little better off than Wei Tianzhi.

He had a three-cycle Jade Gate and was on his fifth year. While the resources the clan could provide him were limited, he did get his proper share. Based on his progress, he was meeting the criterion for the lower end of the standard, teetering on the edge. A step forward would mean success and a step back would be a failure. His chances were exactly fifty percent.

As for Wu Xing, he had a three-cycle gate, but he lacked the resources of the two young masters, so his progress was on about the same level as the first young master. Thus, he didn't hope for the Mortal Shedding Realm and only sought to get a Spirit Sea by graduation.

After this bout of sadness, Wei Tianzhi suddenly asked, "I've come this time to visit you, but also see how you're doing. Tianchong, have you learned a spell?"

"Yes. I've learned the Spirit Guidance spell," Wei Tianchong honestly replied.

"Spirit Guidance? You call that a spell? What is it good for?" Wei Tianzhi was very unhappy. "Cultivation is about boldly advancing, and there will be countless dangerous obstacles in the path to come. What sort of help will such a childish spell be to you in the future? Do you truly plan to have the clan support you for the rest of your life? Stop messing around!"

Wei Tianchong didn't dare to talk back to his brother, so he looked at Tang Jie.

Tang Jie felt helpless, so he could only toughen up and reply, "First Young Master, this lowly one was the one who advised the third young master to learn the Spirit Guidance spell. While this spell has no combat abilities, it is the basic skill for controlling puppets. The third young master is very talented when it comes to carving, so this lowly one advised…"

"I know that he can carve, but can he succeed in puppetry simply because he can carve? Carving is only for the form, but the materials are the foundation and the refining formation serves as the soul! Can he make refining formations? Does he have the materials? What's the point of the form without the foundation and the soul? Moreover, cultivators ultimately depend on themselves. Relying on external objects will ultimately limit one's prospects!" Wei Tianzhi spoke so sternly that not even Tang Jie dared to talk back.

There wasn't anything wrong with his argument, but his standards were a little high.

Perhaps puppetry didn't lead to the Great Dao at the end of the path of Immortality, but most cultivators simply sought to get as far as they could go. The end of the path of Immortality was simply something nice to look at and think about. Actually doing it was truly difficult.

Moreover, even if Wei Tianchong cultivated the Dao of Puppetry, it didn't mean he couldn't cultivate anything else. Many of the spells they learned now were just the basics, the foundations, tools for reaching their goals. So long as the foundation was steady, there was no need to be so serious about the methods.

Alas, he was still the first young master, and it wasn't Tang Jie's place to argue. He could only lower his head and assent.

In the end, it took a few words from Second Young Master Wei Ming to soothe the first young master.

But Tang Jie knew that his nickname of Mad Student Tang Jie and the Spiritual Guidance spell had caused the first young master to dislike him, and all he could do was sigh.

After the meal, Tang Jie found a chance to talk with Wu Xing alone. He asked Wu Xing, "Big Brother Wu Xing, how many spirit coins do you have on you?"

"I have some, but not a lot. Why do you ask? If you plan to borrow…"

Tang Jie laughed. "Brother Wu Xing, you misunderstand. It's like this. Father and Mother aren't doing very well, so I plan to buy the two of them some life-extending medicine."

"Life-extending medicine?" Wu Xing was shocked. "That's a spirit medicine that costs a whole spirit jade!"

Medicines were divided into grades: mortal grade, spirit grade, and Immortal grade. They each had their corresponding prices. The medicine that Spirit Master Lu had given Tang Jie before had merely been a mortal-grade medicine. It was called a spirit medicine, but this was like how mortals called Spirit Masters "Immortal Masters", always raising their status.

Life-extending medicine was true spirit medicine. It could transform the bones of mortals and extend their lifespans. If used on the old couple, it would undoubtedly cure them of illnesses that had ailed them for many years.

Hearing Wu Xing say this, Tang Jie sighed. "Yes, it's because it's so expensive that I'm looking for Big Brother's help. If we put our money together, we might be able to buy it."

Wu Xing brusquely replied, "That's a spirit jade, one thousand spirit coins. How much money do you think I have?"

"I don't need that much. I came upon a lucky opportunity when entering school, so I've made some money. I only need eighty-three spirit coins from Big Brother to get enough."

"What? So you have more than nine hundred coins?" Wu Xing jumped in surprise.

"Yes," Tang Jie replied.

Not concealing anything, he told him about the fish scale and its purpose. He then said, "I raised nine fish from that fish scale and sold them off for nine hundred coins. Before that, I made forty spirit coins, so I had nine hundred and forty coins, then I spent twenty-three, so I have nine hundred and seventeen coins left."

He had thought that the nine-hundred-some spirit coins he had left would be enough, but when he had started to ask around and realized that the medicine cost so much, he was filled with regret. Thus, he could only ask for Wu Xing's help. After all, they shared the same parents.

To his surprise, Wu Xing grimaced. "This… I don't actually have that much."

"How could Big Brother be in this school for seven years and not even have earned eighty-three spirit coins?" Tang Jie said in shock.

"That's not the case. But who would keep around money if they could use it to buy medicine? I really don't have that much to hand over right now."

Tang Jie thought it over and sighed. "If that's the case, I'll just borrow some from the third young master. You can just help me by sending it out. What do you think?"

"Why can't you send it yourself?"

Tang Jie chuckled. "Our parents have high hopes in you, and I'm sure that this will make them happier. Moreover, I've got a reputation for rashness, having already gotten the nickname of Mad Student. Our parents might get into trouble because of me, so I really don't want anyone to know about the two of them… so I would like to leave this matter to Big Brother." 

With no other option, Wu Xing nodded.

Tang Jie went to see Wei Tianchong.

Wei Tianchong heard that Tang Jie wanted to borrow money and wasn't too concerned, immediately giving him the spirit coins.

Tang Jie took the money to Wu Xing. "I leave everything to you, Big Brother."

"Alright, I'll help you out with this," Wu Xing said as he put the money away.

Hypersheep325's Notes:

It seems like Wei Tianchong's older brother doesn't agree with how Tang Jie is guiding his little brother. Hopefully, Tang Jie will strike it off better with his adoptive older brother? (As if)

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Written by Yuanfen 0 缘分0. Translated by Hypersheep325. Edited by Michyrr.