In the evening, the setting sun shone on the rocks, and the mountains and forests settled for the night.
When Jing Yue arrived, the Communication Hall was already full of people.
The Communication Hall had always been a place within the inner gates dedicated to the preaching and teaching professions. There was no martial arts performance here, only lectures. The main hall was supported by eighteen white jade pillars carved with dragons and phoenixes. Each jade pillar was engraved with the names of the current disciples of Frostcloud Sect. Once the person perished, the name would disappear from the pillar. Only Daoist-Master Jing Yuan’s name would exist eternally.
The combination of these 18 pillars formed the 18 Heavenly Astral Formations that astounded the cultivation world. If someone attacked the main hall, this formation would retaliate with the strength of a Return to Void cultivator.
Jing Yue’s gaze swept over the entire hall and noticed that his previous roommates had occupied the front row. Shi Nian looked at him nervously and expectantly while Liang Yuan was particularly serious. Only Yu Xiaobao shrank like a quail.
Amused, Jing Yue stepped forward and addressed him specifically, “Yu Xiaobao, you must listen carefully later.”
Yu Xiaobao abruptly raised his head with an unexpected surprise in his eyes. “This… this disciple… yes!”
His answer was exceptionally loud and his back was much straighter.
Jing Yue cleared his throat and went directly into the topic. “From the day we started to Forge the Body, we have embarked on the road of cultivation. The Body Forging stage and Qi Refining stage are divided into 9 levels plus the Absolute level, while the realms above the Qi Refining stage are only divided into Low, Medium, High and Absolute levels. Do you know why?”
The answer to his question was so simple that even a three-year-old child could answer him. Therefore, no one took him seriously, including himself.
Except for Yu Xiaobao.
Perhaps Jing Yue’s encouragement just now had given Yu Xiaobao great confidence. He said loudly, “Because the Body Forging stage and Qi Refining stage belong to the innate state. If you compare cultivation to constructing a building, then the innate state is the foundation of a tall building.”
Jing Yue, “… Yes, that is correct. The Qi Refining period is the process of accumulating spiritual energy one step at a time. When the spiritual energy in your Dantian is sufficient, condensed and resilient enough, your attacks will be strong and can naturally be transformed into an ocean of Qi. Once the Ocean of Qi is formed, it means that you have successfully Established the Foundation, and that is also when you are truly on track to the path of cultivation.”
“Among them, the third, sixth, and ninth levels are called the Inception Levels, and they are also the most difficult to break through, because in the other levels, you only need to accumulate spiritual energy to a certain level and the breakthrough can happen smoothly. With the Inception Levels, however, you need more spiritual energy than usual to hit the dantian and expand the reserve capacity before it can be considered a success.”
“It’s like filling a water bag with water. The bag is only so big and it can only hold so much water, unless you can increase the capacity of the water bag.”
Everyone already knew what Jing Yue said and some of the disciples were disappointed. This did not match their expectations.
After thinking about it, they accepted the fact. No matter how high his status, he was still young and his cultivation base was low, so what insight could he have? Despite that, they could only pretend to listen carefully.
Of course Jing Yue could guess what everyone was thinking, but he remained calm and unhurried as he said, “Today, I want to teach you how to increase the success rate of breaking through the Inception level.”
As soon as his voice fell, the disciples suddenly went into an uproar.
Some were shocked, some were happy, while some were disdainful. Laozu’s own cultivation base was only level-3 Qi Refining and he had not even broken through the Inception level yet. Where did he get the confidence that he could guide others?
Jing Yue, “Watch carefully.”
From his Qiankun pouch, he took out hundreds of spirit-stones and placed them on the ground one by one in a messy and irregular pattern. Following that, he drew a few talismans with cinnabar and pasted them in position.
The disciples were perplexed. Was he setting up a formation?
Jing Yue walked to the center of the formation, chanting words in his mouth, but why was the formation he laid seemed to be motionless?
After that, Jing Yue sat cross-legged and slowly closed his eyes.
—Breathing in and out, condensing Qi into the dantian, attracting the spiritual energy of heaven and earth.
A spirit-stone at the corner of the circle lit up with golden light and slowly extended multiple golden threads, connecting all the spirit-stones. A semi-transparent golden barrier rose and enveloped Jing Yue, making him look like a sacred Buddha.
The disciples clearly felt that the surrounding spiritual energy was converging towards the magic circle. The air became distorted, like sunlight projecting on the clear water and contorting the image within the depths.
The spiritual energy simmered more and more intensely when suddenly, the golden light flared and soared into the sky!
Everyone felt a blur in front of their eyes before the barrier disappeared and saw that Jing Yue’s skin was covered under the faint golden light.
The golden brilliance flowed and gradually merged into his body.
After a long time, when the golden hue completely disappeared and everything went back to normal, Jing Yue's eyelashes trembled and he slowly opened his eyes.
Those with a higher cultivation base discovered that their new Laozu had really attained the fourth level of Qi Refining!
Putting aside how shocked everyone was, Jing Yue was also equally happy.
The formation he deployed today was improved on the basis of the Energy Gathering Array, which was a hypothesis that was unintentionally brought up during an interaction with a formation expert in his previous life.
In fact, in his past life, he knew very little about the arts of talismans and formations, but since he had lived a lot longer, he had learned some tricks over time.
Ever since he possessed the Omnispirit Body, however, he had gained a new understanding of these two arts. Perhaps it was because formations mostly used the spiritual energy of heaven and earth, and his sensitivity to this was far better than before.
It was precisely because of this, he was able to turn a previous hypothesis into reality, and his experiment was very successful.
At this time, the disciples’ fervent ecstasy held a trace of bewilderment.
An eleven-year-old level-4 Qi Refining? Had this ever happened before since ancient times?
A formation that could help people break through the realm? Had anyone even heard of it before?
Maybe it happened ten thousand years ago? But their Laozu must be the first person since the Yao Catalyst! Even Qin Yanzhi could not measure up to it!
Someone wanted to ask but saw Jing Yue put his index finger to his lips, motioning everyone to silence.
Everyone suppressed their rapid heartbeats and enthusiasm. At this moment, every move made by Laozu was an imperial decree that they would obey willingly.
They followed Jing Yue’s gaze and saw a female disciple with her eyes tightly closed, her body surging with spiritual energy. It turned out that she was inspired after witnessing Jing Yue’s breakthrough and was ready to do the same on the spot!
Time seemed to be frozen. Even though there were tens of thousands of people in the hall, it was silent. Everyone remained motionless like stone statues.
It was not until the afterglow of the setting sun was replaced by the starlight, and the lights in the hall had been switched on, that the female disciple finally succeeded!
Under countless envious stares, she knelt and kowtowed to Jing Yue three times with eyes full of joy.
Jing Yue, “The spiritual energy in our dantian is limited, therefore we can draw on the external spiritual energy when breaking through the Inception level. This formation can help you absorb the energy from heaven and earth to the greatest extent.”
The hearts of all disciples surged with excitement. Everyone realized the significance of this formation, especially some people who had been stuck on that level for many years, they stared at Jing Yue with eyes are like hungry wolves with stars in their eyes.
“Isn’t this similar to the Energy Gathering Array?”
A question welled up in someone’s mind and he suddenly asked, “Can the Energy Gathering Array assist in breaking through the Inception level too?”
They had never heard of such a thing before!
Jing Yue, “Indeed, this formation is derived from the principles of the Energy Gathering Array, but the Energy Gathering Array merely gathers the spiritual energy nearby, and how much of it that can be absorbed depends solely on the person’s talent. On the other hand, this formation is designed with the person as the eye of the formation to connect the external spiritual energy from heaven and earth and directly draw it into the body.”
“The only downside is, when your breakthrough is over, the external energy that doesn’t belong to you will not be transformed into your spiritual energy and will dissipate over time.”
Someone’s voice trembled with excitement, “Can I ask Laozu, can this formation be used to break through to the Foundation Establishment stage?”
Jing Yue, “No.”
“Then, can we use this formation for daily cultivation?”
“No.” He paused for a moment before continuing, “I don’t recommend that you use formations or replenishing pills to assist in your cultivation. On the Great Path of Dao, any shortcuts will inevitably have hidden dangers.”
Jing Yue explained the reasons. “When it comes to cultivation, you still have to follow the rules step by step in order to walk more firmly and steadily.”
The disciples were a little disappointed, but after thinking about it, this formation is already a great help to most of them, to force the issue would be unwarranted, so they became happy again.
“Laozu, is the formation you set up still effective?”
Jing Yue looked around and found that the person who asked the question was Shi Nian.
He immediately understood the other party’s intention and could not help but smile.
“It can be used one more time.”
Shi Nian nudged at Liang Yuan next to him. “Liang-shixiong, why don’t you try it? You have been stuck at this level for quite some time.”
Liang Yuan was dumbstruck but Jing Yue merely said, “Well, Liang Yuan, come here then.”
The other disciples were furious but they could only watch as Liang Yuan walked to Jing Yue's side. They utterly regretted it. Why did they not think of it? Laozu personally made that formation!
Even when Liang Yuan sat in the formation, his expression remained blank.
Jing Yue fiddled with the spirit-stones a bit before he smiled and said, “You may begin.”
Liang Yuan closed his eyes subconsciously and moved with instinct.
After a few breaths, he felt endless spiritual energy pouring into his body. Liang Yuan became agitated and almost could not control it. Fortunately, he withstood it at a critical moment. Liang Yuan slowly guided the spiritual energy to his dantian, pounding against it repeatedly like the rushing waves beating against the rocks.
Vaguely, he heard a loud boom before a surge of electricity sparked from the tailbone and all the pores on his body opened.
His eyes remained closed but he could see the flickering wick on the candle.
His ears were still ringing slightly but he could hear the sound of insects coming from the grass outside the hall.
—He had entered the fourth level of Qi Refining.
The whole process was only a blink of an eye to Liang Yuan, but the rest of the people waited anxiously for quite a long while. At this moment, seeing that he had finally succeeded, Yu Xiaobao and Shi Nian could not help but cheer. More people looked at Jing Yue with hopes that he could make another formation.
Jing Yue, “Teaching a man to fish is better than giving him the fish. Since I said I’m going to teach you, of course the formation will be made public. Those who wish to learn can refer to it.”
A little white light condensed at his fingertips and he launched it at one of the jade walls of the Communication Hall, leaving the method of the array formation on the wall. The pictures and texts shimmered under the lights like celestial writings.
All the disciples bowed towards Jing Yue and said loudly, “Thank you, Laozu.”
It was the first time everyone called him ‘Laozu’ with absolute conviction in their hearts and minds.