Ancient Strengthening Technique Chapter 897-898
AST 897 – Leaving the Sky Penetrating Mountains, Gathering Again
One month later, Qing Shui was already back at the 1,000 li zone of the Sky Penetrating Mountains. This was considered a relatively safe area and one would be able to encounter many cultivators who were seeking adventure or hunting for treasures. At this moment, Qing Shui felt very warm. Although staying for a prolonged period of time in the Sky Penetrating Mountains didn’t make him feel suppressed, humans were social creatures who lived in groups. In the end, he still craved to be in places where there were other people.
Cultivators of all realms could be found in this 1,000 li zone. Everyone was in their own groups, the place was bustling with activity and sounds of laughter flooded the area. The Sky Penetrating Mountains was generally a very dangerous area, but this area was an exception. There were basically no encounters with powerful demonic beasts here.
This area was surrounded by huge mountains, caves, and the like. No one had managed to comb through the entire area and even if someone had managed to comb through a mountain ten times, they still might have missed out stuff. Moreover, no one would conduct a search like that.
Many people would enter and exit every day. Some people would leave with satisfied smiles and great returns, while others would leave in tears, bringing back the corpses of their kin or partners who were covered in blood. There was no end to the number of such occurrences in the World of the Nine Continents daily.
No one paid attention to Qing Shui’s appearance in the 1,000 li zone, nor did he called out his Five-Headed Demonic Spider. He merely went on his way on foot, using the Nine Palace Steps.
Qing Shui was very familiar with the concept of practice makes perfect. It took him one whole month to cross 100,000 li. The Nine Palace Steps were very profound and if Qing Shui wasn't so unfamiliar with it, he would not be so slow.
In this one month, he had spent about eight to nine years in the Realm of the Violet Jade Immortal. Now, Qing Shui had just managed to bring the Nine Palace Steps to the small success stage. It was very hard for him to grasp the Seven Star Steps to the Nine Palace Steps.
The Nine Palace Steps had nine positionings. The world was split into eight directions, and Qing Shui still did not understand the theory of the Nine Palace and why they were split into nine palaces. With the Nine Palace Steps, Qing Shui was able to leap freely and reach any spot or positions between the Nine Palace. This was due to the profoundness of the Nine Palace.
It was as if one step could bring one into an entirely new space.
The Nine Palace Eight Trigrams Formation added the Nine Palace positionings onto the basis of the Eight Trigrams Formation. It caused the people trapped within in the formation to be confused and surrounded by killing intent. Qing Shui could rely on the Nine Palace Steps to freely dart around within the formation, launching sneak attacks and could kill from any corner or position, catching his opponents while they were unaware.
He had only succeeded in picking up the Nine Palace Steps three days ago and thus the distance he had traveled for the past three days was much greater than what he had covered before, making Qing Shui feel overjoyed. He continued to use the Nine Palace Steps even when he was in the Realm of the Violet Jade Immortal and even when he ate. He would take a short nap when he was tired.
In these Nine Palace positionings, Qing Shui was like a spirit who was extremely agile. Qing Shui enjoyed this feeling a lot. Moreover, after attaining some success with the 'Nine Palace', Qing Shui realized that there was an area limit on the 'Nine Palace'. This area was one that was set out by him and as long as he appeared in a place, the area around him would be considered the area of the 'Nine Palace'.
His 'Nine Palace' reached out for 1,000 meters and the area he could control was up to 1,000 meters. Qing Shui was very satisfied with this. It was enough. When he moved, the ‘Nine Palace’ would automatically move together with him.
For the past three days, including the time he had spent in the Realm of the Violet Jade Immortal, Qing Shui was considered to have set the foundations for the Nine Palace Steps. Just this alone could raise Qing Shui’s battle prowess by a lot. At least, he would have the advantage in many situations because he was the king in the 'Nine Palace'. Without breaking through his 'Nine Palace', other people would have no way of defeating Qing Shui.
The Nine Palace allowed Qing Shui to gain the greatest territorial advantage, regardless of the time and location. This was because when Qing Shui succeeded in picking up the Nine Palace Steps, the Nine Palace would forever stay together with Qing Shui. As long as his opponents didn’t break through his Nine Palace, Qing Shui would not lose. Moreover, Qing Shui’s Nine Palace Steps were still improving.
A lady wearing a golden phoenix pleated dress stood at the entrance of the Sky Penetrating Mountains. She has been here for the past two months and would always stand here for a very long time every day. Many people knew that this was Mu Clan’s Young Miss.
Judging by how things looked, she seemed to be waiting for someone. However, no one knew who she was waiting for. There was a tent set up not far away, where two old men were playing chess. There were also two old women looking at that lady wearing the golden phoenix pleated dress, a hint of worry in their eyes.
The lady who stood there was Mu Qing. When she returned, she informed the people from her clan that she had some things to attend to and would not be around for some time. Worried that something bad would befall her, the seniors from her clan had over ten elders follow her. She didn’t say anything to this.
Actually, the people from Mu Clan also knew that this was because of that young man who had not returned yet. They didn’t feel good about it either since that old man from Dong Clan had come here himself and requested for them to take care of that young man. Back then, they had given him their promise but they didn’t know that this young man was planning to head into the deeper region.
Mu Qing stood there stock-still. Just her back view made everyone in the surroundings unable to resist her charms. However, everyone knew that it was Miss Mu and no one dared to be insolent.
In a tent not too far away, Dong Yan and Sun Yan was sitting down on the ground, drinking wine. However, they would also occasionally glance toward the entrance of the Sky Penetrating Mountains.
“Eldest Brother, do you think that anything will happen to Third Brother? It has been so long…” Sun Yan finished up the wine in his cup with one gulp and asked Dong Yan.
“Third Brother isn’t someone who would die young. Don’t worry, he’ll definitely be fine. He might even come across some great opportunity.” Dong Yan frowned slightly but his brows very quickly loosened up.
“Is this what Old Master Dong said?” Sun Yan asked Dong Yan suspiciously.
“Old Master said this before too.” When he said this, Dong Yan’s expression lightened up.
“If Old Master had said this, then it must be true.” Sun Yan seemed to feel slightly more relaxed now.
“Did you sense that Third Brother is in fact very suspicious? My gut feelings are quite good. Did you sense that?” Dong Yan smiled and said.
“The fact that the three of us can get together must be because we each have mysterious things about us. Although we might not be the strongest, we can still be considered to be among the top tier amongst the youngest generation.” Sun Yan smiled and said casually.
“Haha, and Third Brother said that he’s still able to protect himself in the Sky Penetrating Mountains. He’s not someone who’s reckless. We can only wait now.” Dong Yan gave it some thought before filling up his wine glass.
“Miss Mu would always stand there and in a daze for very long every day. Do you think she…” Sun Yan looked toward the distance at that unrivaled beauty and said.
“I don’t know. But it seems like something unusual must have happened between them in the Sky Penetrating Mountains.” Dong Yan shook his head and said with a smile.
“Then Eldest Brother you…”
“Haha, I’ve never thought about this before. If a lady wished for a man to revere him, the lady would definitely not wish to be together with that man. I’m still very clear about this. Even I can’t get pass myself.” Dong Yan shook his head and said, smiling again.
“That’s right. If one can only admire, he wouldn’t be mentally in the same state to begin with and the two parties would not be able to get along. The first time I saw her, I knew that his lady would probably only give her heart away to someone stronger than her.” Sun Yan took a sip of wine and grinned.
“If Third Brother can marry this kind of lady, it’d be a good match too. It seems that based on the current circumstances, it won’t be far now.”
“That’s right. When Third Brother comes back, we three brothers must have a good drink together.” Sun Yan once again looked toward the entrance and said.
The entrance was within sight. This trip to the Eastern Victory Divine Continent’s Sky Penetrating Mountains could be considered perfect. He should leave soon, after all, he had been away for a very long time.
As he thought of this, he walked leisurely toward the mountain’s entrance. However, when he lifted his head to look at the entrance, he fell in a daze. He saw that beautiful lady’s silhouette, still beautiful as before.
Qing Shui thought that his eyes were playing tricks on him. He shook his head and looked over once again, only to find out that she was still standing there, looking at him in a daze. That intoxicatingly beautiful face was still as familiar as ever.
Her skin was white and tender, her brows charming and her eyes were full of emotions. Her beautiful skin gave out a transcendent feeling like that of the autumn’s moonlight and her shoulders slender. Standing there, she gave off an independent charm which was graceful and otherworldly. From afar, one seemed to be able to sense an aura like that of an orchid.
Her golden colored phoenix dress gave her an additional poised and dignified aura, making her seem like a fairy from the heavens, not being able to blend in with the people in the surroundings.
Qing Shui saw Mu Qing’s beautiful figure shudder for a moment before she walked toward him.
Dong Yan and Sun Yan could also see Qing Shui from their positions and they also stood up. After taking a few steps, they saw that Mu Qing had moved and they stopped.
However, the smiles on their faces replaced their previous worried expressions.
Many people in the surroundings were also stunned. Rumors had it that Miss Mu didn’t care for any men. However, for the past few days, she seemed to be waiting for someone. it was now that they finally realized that she was waiting for a man, a young and handsome man.
How could this be possible? A lot of people in the surroundings were stunned. They looked at Miss Mu walking over to that man, as if her emotions were very turbulent.
Mu Qing walked up close to Qing Shui, until there was only one step distance between them. Her beautiful gaze looked at Qing Shui, unblinking. However, she quickly took one step back.
Qing Shui didn’t know how to describe his current feelings. He saw the lady before him, as well as Dong Yan and Sun Yan. He felt a faint joy. There were still people here who were thinking about him.
“Mmm, thank you!” Qing Shui smiled and said.
“Are you alright?”
Mu Qing didn’t know what to say. Earlier, she felt happy to see Qing Shui and came forward subconsciously. However, it was as if she was suddenly awakened and knew that they could only be considered friends at most. Why did she have those illusion previously?
Therefore, she took one step back. Even though she seemed to have things she wanted to say, there didn’t seem to be a need to say anything now.
“Let’s head back first!” Qing Shui said softly.
Mu Qing smiled and nodded.
Qing Shui’s words could be clearly heard by the people around them. While it sounded normal, others didn’t interpret it as such. The two of them acted very normally when they stood there and talked to each other. However, to outsiders, they seemed like a married couple who had been together for many years.
Looking at their expressions and at this heartwarming scene, everyone believed that their relationship was unordinary. It was because Miss Mu had never been so close with a man before, which made such an expression even more surprising.
The two of them walked out, side by side. It was at this moment that Dong Yan, Sun Yan, and some other old men walked over. The other people in the area also left, but together with their departure, news also spread out.
The attention that Miss Mu received was quite high. If she were to remain unmarried, no one would say anything; but if Miss Mu were to fall for a man, that man would be in trouble.
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AST 898 – Matters impossible to unravel, Mu Qing's Musings
"Third Brother!" Dong Yan and Sun Yan both called out.
"Big Brother, Second Brother and Elders, you're all here!" Qing Shui grinned at Dong Yan, Sun Yan and the old men surrounding him. Qing Shui was very familiar with all these old men.
"It's great that you're back! It's great!" the old men all laughed heartily.
"Third Brother, Lady Mu and the others have been waiting here for you for two months." Sun Yan said, smiling at Qing Shui.
"Alright, let's not talk about that. Aren't you both the same? We all hoped for his safe return." Mu Qing smiled light-heartedly but she could not help but over-think what Sun Yan had said.
Qing Shui could see that there was a large tent not far from them and they all walked into it. The relationship between Dong Clan and Mu Clan was originally not bad but somehow, due to Qing Shui's influence, there was a subtle change between them.
This subtle change wasn't a game-changer but it was indeed weird. Each time the members of the two clans met, their conversations would revolve about whether Qing Shui had obtained the Sky Penetrating Grass.
"Third Brother, what rewards did you gain from your trip to the Sky Penetrating Mountains?" Dong Yan smiled but the underlying meaning of his words was clear from his tone.
Mu Qing couldn't help but feel a bit startled when she heard Dong Yan's words. She also had an indescribable curiosity about the matter. She wanted to know if Qing Shui had obtained a Sky Penetrating Grass.
"Well, I've gotten quite a few items and my luck was quite good, I found it." Qing Shui laughed.
Everyone was happy for him. Even though he had only known Dong Yan and Sun Yan for a short period of time, their friendship was still true. People like them rarely befriended others but when they did, they would treat them like brothers.
No one could really explain what fate was but Qing Shui valued it and so did Dong Yan and Sun Yan. The phrase bird of a feather flock together accurately described their relationship.
"Third Brother have you fulfilled your purpose of coming to the Eastern Victory Divine Continent?" Sun Yan smiled at Qing Shui.
"Yes, I think so." Qing Shui felt unusually relaxed as he said this.
"Good, then, we three brothers should travel around Eastern Victory Divine Continent to see all the famous landscapes around here." Dong Yan said to Qing Shui with a chuckle.
"Qing Shui, you promised that you would stay at my residence for two days. You can't go back on your words." Mu Qing said to Qing Shui with a smile, looking very natural.
Actually, everyone present was very surprised but they did not say anything and acted as if nothing had happened. Mu Qing blushed as she quickly realized that her words could cause some misunderstandings. She was a woman inviting a man to stay at her house…
The residence she mentioned was not the Azure Cloud Pavilion but her Mu Clan's manor. She did not think too much about it when she said those words casually, but now she noticed how romantically ambiguous she sounded.
"Sure. The Mu Clan is a family of famous Demon Refiners. It's my honor." Qing Shui replied kindly after noticing Mu Qing's embarrassment.
Mu Qing felt rather conflicted. She could not explain her feelings, it was as if she was in a reverie and everything around her was unreal.
"Since Lady Mu has brought this up, Third Brother should go to visit the Mu Residence first, we have time." Sun Yan grinned at Qing Shui then turned to look at Mu Qing who was still blushing.
Mu Qing took a few glances at Qing Shui. She could feel that this man was different from before, his eyes seemed to be profound and more importantly, he gave off a different feeling and she could not really pinpoint what it was.
Qing Shui took out the Nv`er Hong from his collection and brought out a large piece of piping hot barbecue meat. He had roasted it in his Realm of the Violet Jade Immortal and had not found the time to eat it previously so he heated it up now.
Since he already brought out meat and wine, he laid out them out. The tent was instantly filled with the smell of meat and wine.
"Nv`er Hong? How can it smell so good?"
Everyone looked with amazement at the vat of Nv`er Hong that was just opened. They were all shocked by the aroma of the liquor. However, their shock wasn't unusual, this wine was over 2000 years old after all…
As long as one was able to keep a wine for 1,000 years, even wine of the poorest quality would become a 'god-level' wine. At the very instant that the vat was opened, many people actually suspected that it was wine which had aged for 1,000 years.
Among them, there were definitely people who have tasted 1,000 years old wine but they definitely had not tasted aged Nv`er Hong of that vintage since no one would use Nu`er Hong for that because its quality was too low. Furthermore, this Nv`er Hong that Qing Shui brought out smelled even better than those expensive wines, who could imagine how many years it was kept? What extravagance…
Actually, there was another reason for its aroma. Due to the fact that Qing Shui's Realm of the Violet Jade Immortal was filled with Spiritual Qi, the smell of the wine had become even more fragrant.
Everyone ate and drank happily. Many of the Elders ate and drank heartily because they had never eaten such delicious meat and this was probably their only chance to drink a wine like this once in their lifetimes.
As they drank, they looked to Qing Shui.
"Dear Elders, don't worry. Even though I don't have much, I have enough to share some vats of wine." Qing Shui could understand their expressions.
The Elders were extremely happy when they heard Qing Shui's words. They were trying to drink sparingly before as Qing Shui had only given them a vat each, which was only about 300 jin. Now that they knew that they could have more, they drank wantonly.
After his Realm of the Violet Jade Immortal reached the 7th layer, its area expanded so Qing Shui could put more wine into the realm. Furthermore, due to the current time ratio of the realm, it only took two and a half years in the real world to get a 1,000 years old wine.
Thus, he could spare each of them a few vats but he did not want to give them too many. He did not wish for the others to suspect him because of it. After all, having such a precious treasure could easily attract the obsessive envy of others.
Everyone agreed to stay for the night before leaving for the capital city the next day.
It was now evening and Mu Qing had not spoken much during this time. She merely watched Qing Shui, Dong Yan, Sun Yan and the others chatting and drinking. Dong Yan was the one that spoke the most.
Qing Shui said quite a lot too but most of the time he was just answering the questions that others asked to him.
"Qing Shui, let's go for a walk. There is something I want to talk to you about." Mu Qing smiled and said when everyone had finished their meals.
"Okay!" Qing Shui nodded. He nodded to the others to excuse himself and left with Mu Qing.
He did not know what Mu Qing wanted to talk about but he could sense that she was somewhat worried. He did not question her but instead continued walking beside her.
This was the second time that they found themselves in such a situation. When he first entered the Sky Penetrating Mountains it was like this and now on the day he left the mountains, it played out the same way. This was quite a coincidence but Qing Shui felt the situation was vastly different from before.
"Did you have any trouble when you were returning?" Qing Shui asked, referring to a few months back when Mu Qing and her people traveled back from 100,000 li into the mountains.
"No, everything was fine. We returned very quickly. I guess you must have gone through quite a few dangerous situation." Mu Qing did not hear Qing Shui mentioning how dangerous Sky Penetrating Mountains was, he only briefly explained that he avoided a few encounters. However, she knew that Qing Shui had definitely met some troubles along the way.
"It's alright. I am very talented at escaping so I manage to avoid harm." Qing Shui answered without going into the details.
Mu Qing thought about how Qing Shui seemed to know a lot. He was not only intelligent but difficult to read. She did not expect that he could reach 300,000 li into the Sky Penetrating Mountains and leave at will. In addition to that, she thought about how her grandmother had predicted that his strength would soar greatly soon…
"Qing Shui, are you leaving soon?" Mu Qing's brows knitted as she asked.
"Yes, I will be leaving soon. My journey has been quite long." Qing Shui said as he noticed Mu Qing's expression.
"Let me send you off when you leave!" Mu Qing laughed.
Qing Shui replied with a laugh and said to her, "Don't you have something you want to say?"
"Not really. I didn't really mean anything." Mu Qing replied lightheartedly as she laughed it off.
Qing Shui knew that there was something on her mind but she had decided to refrain from telling him. He knew that because excuses did not match with her personality. Suddenly, Qing Shui remembered an issue.
Sky Prison Sect!
"Is this something to do with Sky Prison Sect?" Qing Shui couldn't help thinking about that since there was no doubt that Sky Prison Sect was very powerful. Did they discover something?
"Do you not take me as a friend? Just tell me. If you need my help, I wouldn't refuse you." Qing Shui remembered how this woman had helped him out quite a bit. Especially what she gave him at the Deity Statue. No matter what, he was still grateful and admired her.
"Could you teach me a few easy methods to escape a formation?" Mu Qing hesitated for a moment before asking softly. She knew that it was taboo to ask this. Who would teach others their consummate skills?
Qing Shui thought for a moment and felt that his guess was correct. Sky Prison Sect must have gotten some sort of clue. Perhaps, she did not tell him the details because she did not want to drag him into the matter.
"I must have been too impulsive. I'm sorry." Mu Qing quickly apologized when she saw Qing Shui looking blankly back at her.
"It's not that. If you are willing to learn, I can teach you what I know." Qing Shui replied, smiling as he knew that she had misunderstood.
Mu Qing lifted her head and looked at Qing Shui. After she confirmed that Qing Shui was not just agreeing to her request perfunctorily, she smiled. "Thank you!"
Qing Shui was not kidding either. Formations may be very powerful but they really depend on an individual's cultivation and talent. If any of his friends wanted to learn from him, he would not reject them and would teach them whatever he could but how much they could learn was pretty much up to themselves.
Qing Shui did not pursue the issue of the Sky Prison Sect any further. Since she did not wish to talk about it, he did not want to pry. As she was interested about formations, he knew what he could teach her. He did not really care much for those formations that the Sky Prison Sect used. Some of the experts in the Sky Prison Sect may know more advanced formations but he doubted that those were really that powerful. If they were so powerful, those savages from the Sky Prison Sect wouldn't stay contented just like that.
Qing Shui knew that he hadn't really researched deeply about formations but that did little to hinder him from teaching others. With his photographic memory and the success of his Nine Palace Steps, he could basically see through many formations very easily. He might not be very proficient but he knew that it wouldn't be long before he could set up formations himself. Using this opportunity, he could learn more about formations himself while teaching Mu Qing. How much she could really learn from him was otherwise dependent on herself.
Qing Shui handed her a picture with the Yin-Yang Image, The Four Symbols, Eight Trigram and a diagram of the Nine Palaces. There were also some written explanations. He even showed her the Nine Palace Steps but how far she could go with that technique could only be determined by her innate talent for it.
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