Chapter 2 - Blood Charms
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Nine Evolutions of the True Spirit Chapter 2 - Blood Charms

Lu Ping returned from Spirit Vault Pavillion with a dozen spirit stones and eight Blood Purification Pellets. The spirit stones were cultivation assistive materials and were also used as a trading currency. The Blood Purification Pellets were used to purify the Blood of True Spirit and improve one’s cultivation progress.

As one of the Zhen Ling Side Hall disciples, Lu Ping and his peers were a special group of disciples whose status fell between the outer disciples and inner disciples of the Zhen Ling Sect.

The Zhen Ling Sect took them in from a young age and nurtured their growth, all for free. That’s why they didn’t need to feed themselves and find their own cultivation resources like the outer disciples. And the Zhen Ling Sect only did so to raise its own reserve force for the sect.

However, if the side hall disciples weren’t able to reach the Ninth Layer Blood Refining Realm within fifteen years, they would be demoted to the outer disciples, who not only needed to find their own food and resources but also serve the sect’s orders.

In the Zhen Ling Side Hall, five years marks one grade, so fifteen years marks three grades. Lu Ping had been in the side hall for ten years now and so he was a Grade 2 disciple. 

The lowest passing line to qualify as a Grade 2 disciple was to attain Fourth Layer Blood Refining Realm in prowess. Whereas for the examination held at the tenth year, if the Grade 2 side hall disciples were unable to reach Sixth Layer Blood Refining Realm, they would be disqualified from becoming Grade 3 disciples and subsequently demoted to be outer disciples instead.

Every month, two spirit stones were given to the Fourth Layer Blood Refining Realm Grade 2 disciples. An additional Blood Purification Pellet was given to the Fifth Layer Blood Refining Realm Grade 2 disciples, and two more spirit stones to the Sixth Layer disciples. 

As the Seventh Layer was difficult to break through and marks the start of the late-stage in the Blood Refining Realm, stepping into the Seventh Layer would greatly increase one’s prowess. 

Subsequently, the welfare given by the sect would also be increased correspondingly. The Seventh Layer Grade 2 disciples would be given almost twice as much as the Sixth Layer disciples, coming to a total of six spirit stones and three Blood Purification Pellets. 

On top of that, the sect would also reward the late-stage Blood Refining Realm disciples with ten spirit stones upon their breakthrough, and twice that amount to those that achieved it before the age of eighteen. 

The reason for this was rumored to be because the disciples had a higher chance of entering the Blood Condensation Realm if they entered the Late Blood Refining Realm before eighteen. 

Lu Ping had no idea if the rumor was true, but what he did know was that only one in a hundred could make it through from the Blood Refining Realm to the Blood Condensation Realm. It was the dragon’s gate—leap through it, and one could transform from a carp to a soaring dragon in the skies. 

Once a disciple has entered the Blood Condensation Realm, he would instantly become an inner disciple of the Zhen Ling Sect and be given the chance to learn the true cultivation methods of the sect, becoming someone that the outer disciples could only look up to.

The Zhen Ling Side Hall had thousands of disciples, but only an average of a hundred disciples were able to break through to the Ninth Layer Blood Refining Realm, and even fewer could take a step further into the Blood Condensation Realm.

It would always be a big event in the Zhen Ling Side Hall every time someone succeeded in breaking through to the Blood Condensation Realm. 

After Lu Ping exchanged ten spirit stones for five Blood Purification Pellets, he now had sixteen spirit stones and eight Blood Purification Pellets. Normally, Lu Ping would’ve finished his resources already but now, he still had some left after using them in his routine cultivation.

I should prepare for the Grade 2 competition now, Lu Ping thought.

The competition was a fight for resources, not just for the individual disciples, but also for the entire group. If a group performs well in the competition, the group would be allocated more resources. Which half of that resource would be given to the master immortal leading the group and the other half shared among the disciples in the group.

And currently, some of the stronger groups already had more than a dozen Late Blood Refining Realm disciples!

Lu Ping returned to his room in the courtyard and as usual, consumed a Blood Purification Pellet. He held a spirit stone in his hand and started his daily cultivation. After some time, the spirit stone turned into a pile of dust while the medicinal efficacy of the Blood Purification Pellet had also been consumed.

He didn’t rush to increase his cultivation level. Instead, he started cultivating from the First Layer up to the Seventh Layer, slowly but steadily solidifying his foundation and cultivation base. This was his usual practice of cultivating every time he broke through to a new layer. Sure enough, this made his cultivation foundation extremely solid. 

But even so, Lu Ping clearly felt the increase in his cultivation progress. Lu Ping heaved a breath and stopped cultivating. 

It was normal to see an increase in prowess after a cultivation breakthrough. But the cultivation progress would slow down as one’s cultivation level increases. It was normal for one’s cultivation progress to stay in the same layer for three or even more than five years in the Late Blood Refining Realm. 

Lu Ping opened the wooden box on the table and took out a piece of paper, placing it flat on the table. Then, he took out a small block of graphite and some wooden sticks. He used them to sketch one faint twisted line after another on the paper according to the drawings in a book titled [Elementary Scripture Mastery]. 

The charms were extremely difficult to craft, especially for Blood Refining Realm cultivators. The hardest part of crafting a charm lies in the complexity of writing the scriptures down on the paper. One mustn’t make any mistakes, or otherwise the charm would either not work or suffer a huge reduction in power. 

However, Lu Ping’s little tools were able to help him out with this.

Hah, I guess this is my little advantage as someone from another world, Lu Ping thought with a smile.

But he knows this was just an insignificant gimmick that was only useful now. Once a cultivator has entered the Blood Condensation Realm, they would develop the divine sense and these tools would be useless junk after that. 

With the divine sense, the cultivators would be able to draw the scriptures even more precisely without using these tools.

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Lu Ping took out a special writing brush for drawing charms. The brush tip was made from the tail fur of a Class One superior monster and had a simple Spirit Gathering Formation on its shank. The array formation would help in the delivery of spiritual energy from the brush to the charm.

He dipped the brush tip into the spiritual ink mixed from spirit jade water, fine cinnabar, and the blood of a Class One monster—Earth Spirit Turtle. Then, he slowly conducted the spiritual energy in his bloodlines into the brush and meticulously drew the scriptures on the paper following the sketches he made just now.

After completing the last line, Lu Ping heaved a long breath—the charm was successfully crafted in one go!

It seemed that the improvement in his cultivation has also positively affected his success rate in charm-crafting.

After feeling the spiritual energy contained inside of the charm and the power within, Lu Ping was surprised and excited to find that it turned out to be a top-grade charm. It was the highest grade a Blood Refining Realm could ever produce.

Lu Ping mulled it over, then swiftly poked on the top of his finger and squeezed out a drop of blood essence onto the charm. Immediately, a spirit light flashed from the charm and it changed colors from crimson-red to blood-red. It looked as if blood could seep out of the charm at any moment.

This was a method Lu Ping learned from the side hall’s Pavilion of Books, it could increase a charm’s power by almost twenty percent. However, this wasn’t without a price—the loss of blood essence would cost him his own cultivation base. 

Fortunately, the Blood Refining Realm cultivators had their cultivation base established on top of their bloodlines; they had a lot more blood essence compared to other cultivators. Hence, the loss of a drop of blood essence didn’t matter too much. If the charm hadn’t been top-grade, Lu Ping would never willingly waste his blood essence to enhance it.

After that, he sat down and cultivated for a bit to recuperate the loss of blood essence. Then, he continued to craft nine more charms. Sadly, none of them reached top-grade. There were two high-grade charms, two mid-grade charms, three low-grade charms, and the last two were failures that turned into waste papers. 

Even so, the success rate of his charm-crafting was still unbelievably high. If the other cultivators knew about it, they would all be exclaiming in shock.

After mulling it over for a second, he proceeded to enhance the two high-grade charms with his blood essence to turn them into blood charms. Then, he placed the three blood charms together in a separate box which had a few other high-grade blood charms already stored inside of it.

As for the mid and low-grade charms, Lu Ping placed them in a wrap-up bag filled with a few dozen mid and low-grade charms. This was the bag Lu Ping used to store the fruits of his labor from crafting charms every month. 

Although the sect distributed cultivation resources to the side hall disciples for free every month, these resources were often not enough. Hence, the side hall disciples had to find their own ways to earn more spirit stones. For Lu Ping, charm-crafting was the way to go.

Since entering the Fourth Layer, Lu Ping has been crafting a charm every three days for years without fail. He relied on continuous practice as well as studying into the profession to find the best methods. 

After tanking his way through those early days of losses, he was now starting to profit from charm-crafting, enabling him to acquire his own additional cultivation resources. 

Otherwise, how was it possible for Lu Ping, who wasn’t talented at all, to secure a position among the top-tier side hall disciples?

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