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AIP - Chapter 8: Stepping onto the Immortal Path

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr

When Tang Jie woke up, he found himself lying in the bed.

Sitting up, he saw Xu Muyang standing nearby in front of a desk, writing something with his brush.

Without turning his head, Xu Muyang said, "Lie back down. Your Jade Gate was just opened and your Spirit Platform is still unstable. It still needs time to firm up."

With a flick of his hand, the talisman beneath his brush flew up and attached itself to Tang Jie's body.

It was only now that Tang Jie realized that the world looked different, that all of the objects around him had become clearer, the colors were vibrant, the air more beautiful, and his body brimming with strength that seemed like it could never run out.

"Big Brother Xu, are you saying that I can cultivate now?" Tang Jie delightedly asked.

"In terms of aptitude… yes."

"Wonderful!" Tang Jie was so excited that he wanted to jump, but as he began to move, the talisman on his body flashed. Tang Jie was instantly rendered immobile and forced to lie back down.

"I already told you not to move," Xu Muyang said, turning around and thrusting the brush at Tang Jie several times. Several threats of light appeared in the air and wound themselves around Tang Jie.

"Big Brother Xu, this is…" Tang Jie didn't understand what was going on.

"A minor spirit-constricting art. It can temporarily restrain the spiritual energy in your body and prevent it from moving around. Last night, your spiritual energy ran amok, doing severe damage to your meridians. You need to rest and recover before you can actually begin cultivation. Spend the next two days taking a good rest. I've already gotten some time off for you from your job at Anyang Prefecture," Xu Muyang lightly said.

At this time, Xu Muyang put down the brush and sat down next to Tang Jie. Smiling, he said, "Five cycles of the Jade Gate—medium aptitude, not bad. Even more astonishing is that you did it alone. That you were able to reach this stage is a sign of your astonishing persistence."

Five cycles meant that Tang Jie had opened five layers of the Jade Gate. The Jade Gates of the Spirit Platform could be divided into high, medium, and low grades. Three cycles and lower was considered low-grade, while seven cycles and above was considered high-grade.

Tang Jie had completed five cycles of his Jade Gate, making him the middle of the middle. Though he wasn't some incredibly talented individual, he also wasn't trash.

After hearing Xu Muyang say this, Tang Jie finally hazily recalled that last night, under Xu Muyang's guidance, he seemingly had charged through five gates.

Charging at the gates brought immense pain, and even with his adult resolve and astonishing persistence, he only managed to reach the fifth layer. After breaking through the fifth layer, he had fallen unconscious, thus putting an end to any further progress.

"What a pity. In the end, my persistence was lacking, and I wasn't able to hold on." Tang Jie was overcome with regret.

Xu Muyang smiled. "If your persistence is no good, then no one in the world has good persistence. Charging at the gate isn't something that can be done purely through persistence. The Jade Gate seals away the heavens, but different people are sealed to different extents. Some people have gates that are naturally tightly shut, and even using spiritual energy until their bodies explode might not be able to open a single gate. After all, the amount of spiritual energy a mortal body can contain is limited."

Charging the gates required spiritual energy, and mortals had a limited amount of spiritual energy that their body could contain. Thus, what decided the number of gates that could be opened was one's persistence and how tightly shut the gates were. If the gates were rather loose, then the same amount of charging power would open more gates.

Thus, charging at the gates had both a component that depended on one's innate qualities and a component that depended on one's efforts.

Tang Jie was lacking when it came to innate quality, but his will was far above that of the ordinary person.

His charge at the gates had utilized almost one hundred percent of his available strength.

Many Immortal cultivator disciples would try for a high grade, but the immense pain would make them howl and back away, wasting spiritual energy and ultimately causing them to get a lower grade.

For reasons related to innate aptitude and persistence, only a few disciples ever managed to possess a high-grade Jade Gate opening. The vast majority were medium- or low-grade. Thus, while five cycles of the Jade Gate sounded average, it actually placed him above the majority of cultivator disciples and was a rather decent aptitude.

After hearing Xu Muyang's explanation, Tang Jie understood, and his regret was somewhat diminished.

But Xu Muyang shook his head, not satisfied. "If it were anyone else with a five-cycle Jade Gate, I would think that it wasn't bad, but you're different. Your method of breaking through the gate was developed by the Ninedark Martial Lord for his reincarnation. It's somewhat unacceptable that this was all that you were capable of."

"Who is the Ninedark Martial Lord? Is he someone incredible?" Tang Jie curiously asked.

To his surprise, Xu Muyang's face darkened at this question. "The Ninedark Martial Lord was a great power of this world, someone who had surpassed the Immortal Platform and stood above all the world. In his era, he would sense when anyone mentioned his name. The common people feared his power so much that they only dared to call him 'Martial Lord' rather than his full name. Even though he's dead, he's not someone a puny mortal like you can doubt."

Tang Jie straightened up after being rebuked, respectfully replying, "Yes. I know my errors."

Xu Muyang saw that he had humbly received the lesson and was satisfied. "Forget it. I can't blame you. After all, you've only just taken your first step into the Immortal Gate, and there are still many things that you do not understand. For the next two days, I'll teach you about the things you need to pay attention to in the cultivation world."

Tang Jie was delighted. From Xu Muyang's tone, it seemed he was planning on formally taking him as a disciple. He hastily said, "Yes, Master."

But Xu Muyang waved him off and said, "Don't call me 'Master'. I'm not taking you as my disciple."

Tang Jie was flabbergasted, upon which Xu Muyang said, "There's no need to be disappointed. I'm not taking you as my disciple for your own good. First of all, I'm being hunted by someone, and though I've managed to avoid them for now, my enemies will catch up eventually. If I took you as my disciple, I would only be burdening you. Secondly, you belong to the Sageheart Kingdom, which is under the jurisdiction of the Basking Moon Sect. It is not right for me to accept a disciple from Sageheart without the Basking Moon Sect's approval. Thirdly, I am from the Xu Clan, and all my arts are passed down from my clan. They cannot be lightly passed down to those not of the Xu bloodline, so passing them to you would break the clan's laws. Fourthly, the Basking Moon Sect is one of the six major sects of Rosecloud, a famed orthodox sect. When it comes to resources or lineage, it is far superior to the Xu Clan. Rather than learning from me, it would be much better to join the Basking Moon Sect."

Tang Jie had never imagined that an Immortal would have so many rules and restrictions when taking a disciple.Only now did he understand why Xu Muyang had always been reluctant to accept him as a disciple.

Xu Muyang continued, "But our meeting must have been fated in some way. While I can't take you as my disciple, I can still teach you a few things. Once I have fully recovered, I will take you to Allspring City and help you get into the Basking Moon Sect's Basking Moon Academy, thus resolving our karmic debt."

Now that Xu Muyang had said all this, Tang Jie knew that there was no chance of taking Xu Muyang as his master. He could only nod and say, "Thank you, Big Brother Xu!"

Xu Muyang heartily laughed. "Since you consider me your big brother, I can't let you continue on without knowing who exactly your big brother is. Fine; let's start from me. Let me tell you a little about the cultivation world."

Xu Muyang came from the Xu Clan of Nadir Hill, one of the four major cultivation clans of Nadir Hill: the Kongs, the Gus, the Mings, and the Xus. The Xu Clan was ranked fourth. Xu Muyang was the third child of the Xu Clan Patriarch, Xu Huaili. He had an older brother and sister, and also a younger sister. As a member of a great clan, Xu Muyang was born with a golden spoon.

Compared to his siblings, Xu Muyang could be considered a genius. At the age of nine, he charged at the gates and opened seven cycles. For a time, the patriarch had been inclined to make him the next patriarch.

But Xu Muyang quickly disappointed his father.

Xu Muyang had no interest in the strongest arts of the Xu Clan, the Seven Heaven-Bewildering Illusions and the Grotto Void Classic. On the contrary, he was naturally inclined toward the art of formations, specializing in the Dao of transformation and simulation.

An Immortal's four auxiliaries were pills, talismans, formations, and tools. Each one was extremely important, but there was no such thing as a top-class pill refiner who could order around a top-class Immortal.

Strength was a supplement, and status could also only serve as a supplement.

It was no good for a team to be without a healer, but how many healers could carry a team?

In the end, healers were supporters, and pill refiners served the same role in the backend. 

Could a logistics officer step onto the battlefield and start giving commands?

The cultivation world was a world where the fist was king. Even if one possessed the ability to refine unique spiritual pills, if one ended up displeasing some bigshot, one could still die with a single slap!

For this reason, while Immortals would be polite and respectful to cultivators possessing formidable support abilities when it was required, these things could never be converted into true power and authority.

The Xu Clan was a peak existence of Nadir Hill, and it had various formation masters, pill refiners, talisman creators, and artificers under its command. It did not need its future patriarch to personally handle such things.

Thus, while the Daos of the Pill, Talisman, Tool, and Formation were not necessarily bad, they were only 'good careers', something for ordinary cultivators to pursue. They were not something the successor of a major clan should seek.

Thus, Xu Huaili was rather incensed that Xu Muyang was 'ignoring his proper occupation', but Xu Muyang stubbornly insisted.

He was a very talented individual, and as he cultivated, he truly managed to flourish in the Dao of Formations. He quickly became the number one formation master of Nadir Hill. As for his Celestial Heart Realm cultivation, he had incidentally cultivated to that level under the pressure from his father and due to the requirements of high-level formations.

For the majority of cultivators, the Celestial Heart Realm was the greatest goal in their lives, but for Xu Muyang… it had come incidentally.

Yet this was precisely why his true fighting power was rather lacking compared to other True Persons of the Celestial Heart Realm.

Even though Xu Muyang's formation abilities were getting stronger and stronger, his status in the clan continued to fall.

In the end, the patriarch gave up on him and decided to ignore him and let him quietly cultivate his formations. But Xu Muyang was not discouraged by his family's indifference. He continued to research the Dao of Formations, and his attainments grew by the day, until his name was soon known throughout the Rosecloud Domain.

It was at this time that Xu Muyang received a very special invitation, and it was this invitation that had resulted in his being heavily injured and fleeing far from his home.

Xu Muyang had not gone into the details, but considering all that had happened, Tang Jie gathered that it was connected to that Ninedark Martial Lord.

"That period of time when my clan abandoned me was probably the most free I had ever felt in my life. Although many people felt regret over the fact that I had lost my place as successor, I had never planned on succeeding the Xu Clan… I'm not a good fit." Xu Muyang pensively said, "Managing a big clan isn't easy. At times, you'll have to sacrifice a lot. I didn't want to lose those things… So as to not lose anything, I was willing to not get those things."

"To not lose anything, you were willing to not get other things…" Tang Jie pondered these words, and then he asked, "Then doesn't that mean that to get something means that you have to lose something?"

"Yes!" Xu Muyang replied. "You are different from me. You are someone who can accept losing to gain. I was sure of this the moment I learned that you were from Little River Village. 138 villagers were massacred, but you could still come up with the idea to trick me. If you are not naturally heartless, then you must have been born with absolute self-control. Do you understand how great of a threat these two kinds of natures pose to you?"

"Threat?" Tang Jie was confused.

"Yes, the Heart Demon Tribulation!" Xu Muyang only now told Tang Jie about the Heart Demon Tribulation.

This was Tang Jie's first time learning about such a thing, and only now did he understand why it had been so easy to deceive Xu Muyang.

"When an Immortal is cultivating, they gradually come to discover their Origin Heart. From the moment the Origin Heart appears, all those deeds they committed in the past that go against their Origin Heart will brand themselves upon it. When the Heart Demon Tribulation comes, these will turn into Demons, thus leading to the tribulation."

"If it's like that and you have to go through this Heart Demon Tribulation, doesn't it mean that the worse one's character is, the better? The lower one's bottom line is, the easier it will be to overcome the Heart Demon Tribulation?"

"So they say that evildoers live a thousand years. Those who will resort to any methods, anxious for achievement and profit and easily moved to murder… from this, you can see how dangerous the Immortal path is."

"Then why hasn't the cultivation world become completely dominated by jackals, wolves, tigers, and panthers?"

"It's not that bad. Extreme chaos will eventually give rise to order, for others and for oneself. While the callous and unrighteous might be strong, nobody likes them. Let alone the orthodox cultivators, they don't even like each other. This kind of people can be compared to lions or tigers, and it's very difficult for them to group together, because none of them can trust each other."

Tang Jie laughed and said, "That's true. The wicked can only advance when among the good. If the whole world is full of evil people, then none of them can get anywhere."

While lowering one's bottom line could allow one to rapidly mature, one would not be able to win the favor of others. While the cultivation world was cruel, it had order, and it would not permit such a scourge.

Moreover, depravity was a sort of habit. Once one set down this path, it was difficult to turn back.

This was comparable to killing for fun.

When killing someone no longer went against one's Origin Heart, not killing did.

This also meant that one would have to keep killing… no different from seeking death.

For this reason, being bad for a lifetime was even more difficult than being good for a lifetime.

"Thus, I am saying that when you deceived me, you must ask yourself if this went against your Origin Heart. In the future, if you have no bottom line, you are certain to incur the wrath of the heavens and the people. Though each individual matter might be small, they will accumulate over time. So ask yourself: if I remained clueless about this matter, would you feel any shame? If you will, how much?" 

Tang Jie seriously pondered the question, turning the matter over and over again in his mind.

After some thought, Tang Jie raised his head and answered, "In the future, I will carefully consider these things, but on this matter, though I deceived Big Brother Xu, I feel no remorse. This matter did not breach my bottom line, and I did not stain my Origin Heart!"

Xu Muyang was stunned.

He stared at Tang Jie, and after a while, he squeezed out, "This bottom line… is truly a little low."

Hypersheep325's Notes:

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