Old man Liu was silent for a few moments before he sighed heavily.
As it turned out, Old man Liu was the personal bodyguard of the Chen family’s old patriarch and used to be at level 6 Qi refining stage. However, during one incident, he saved the old patriarch nearly at the cost of his life. Consequently, his cultivation regressed, meridians ruptured, and he was no longer able to cultivate. As repayment, the old patriarch appointed him as an Elder of the Chen family, and his position was well respected.
Five years ago, the old patriarch passed away abruptly. According to family tradition, the position was to be passed down to the son from the first wife, but the lineage was diminished, with only baby Chen Shi left in the line, so how could they govern the rest of the household? As a result, Chen Shi was secretly poisoned by someone, which ruined the foundation of his cultivation, and the rest of the elders had no choice but to give up on him.
Old man Liu was exceptionally furious and vowed to identify the culprit, but when he found out the truth and revealed the perpetrator as the Second Old Master Chen Yong, the other party had already established his influence and gained the support of most of the elders.
Jing Yue asked curiously, “Were there no other adults belonging to the First Wife?”
Old man Liu, “Lil Pebble’s father, Chen Qi, passed away in an accident six years ago. His mother was badly affected by that incident, and she passed away in depression not long after giving birth to Lil Pebble. Initially, I planned to get the support from the maternal side, the Jiang family, to seek justice for him, but the Jiangs were unwilling to help him out.”
The current family head of the Jiang family was the son of a concubine, while Lil Pebble’s mother was the daughter of the official wife. Since the two sides of the family were not on good terms anyway, the Jiang family head refused to offend the Chen family because of a wastrel nephew who had lost his ability to cultivate.
To sum it up, Old man Liu was unable to change anything, and could only watch helplessly as Chen Yong was appointed to the Chen family head position. In addition, he was accused of slandering the family head and was banished from the Chen family.
Old man Liu, “To root Lil Pebble out completely, Chen Yong even resorted to removing his name from the family ancestral records.”
Jing Yue, “So the other Chen family elders just allowed Chen Yong to do as he pleased, and no one said anything?”
Old man Liu, “Since they had already appointed him as the family head, what’s the point of offending him? However, Chen Yong was still wary of the elders, afraid of any retaliation if he went too far, so he spared Lil Pebble’s life in the end. When I saw Lil Pebble suffering at their hands, I made a request to the First Elder and brought Lil Pebble out and away from the Chen family.”
Jing Yue nodded, “Chen Yong must have expected it.”
Old man Liu, “Of course, otherwise it won’t be that easy to take Lil Pebble away.”
Worried that they would be continually suppressed by the Chen family if they remained in Megasun City, he decided to move to this small village. He had to take care of Lil Pebble, so he dared not take up dangerous missions. But as a cultivator, he only knew how to cultivate, not how to make a living. Therefore, he could only rely on hunting and picking herbs to make some money.
Old man Liu sighed, “It’s already been five years. If not for Wang Chuihua, I’m not even willing to take a step into Minisun Town. It’s full of cultivators, we might run into someone from the Chen family at any time.”
Sure enough, trouble came knocking on the door.
At this moment, the blue phoenix flew out of nowhere and flapped around Jing Yue’s head, before landing on his shoulder and started making a big fuss, “Lil Pebble’s experience is truly a great start to the reversal of fortune plotline! A deus ex machina, have you heard of it? When everyone thought that he was wasted, he met with a sudden twist of fortune, advancing in secret, and ended up stepping on everyone who harmed him in the past. This is one of my favorite plotlines!”
“Ask him quickly, does Lil Pebble have a fiancée? Did she cancel the engagement because he’s no longer able to cultivate? This involves another storyline, the marriage cancellation plot!”
Jing Yue could not bear it any longer, “Shut up!”
The blue phoenix hunched dejectedly.
An oblivious Old man Liu continued his lament, “Sigh, Lil Pebble has such a tough life. After being poisoned, even his arranged betrothal with the Chu family was canceled. When I turned up at their doorstep, they wouldn’t even see me.”
The rueful blue phoenix instantly trembled excitedly, “You see! It’s the marriage cancellation plot!”
Jing Yue, “…”
Old man Liu, “I kept this from you because I didn’t think it would make a difference. But now that there’s hope, if Lil Pebble can restore his foundation and start cultivating again, we can regain what was lost!”
Blue phoenix blinked its green beady eyes. This declaration sounded very familiar; were those words mentioned in another world before?
The next day, the head steward came again.
With him was another elder from the Chen family. After giving the herbs and plants to Jing Yue, they started trying to dig for more information, but to no avail, and they had no choice but to give up.
After everyone left, Jing Yue took out the furnace and started the preparation to refine the Hundred-turn Meridian Pill.
Even though this pill was valued simply because of the lost recipe, ten thousand years ago, the Hundred-turn Meridian Pill was nothing but a low-level pill that did not even require any spiritual energy to refine.
Hence, even Jing Yue who had just recently guided Qi into his body was able to do so.
He selected the most suitable ingredients, spent a whole day and night, and when the lid was finally opened, two red pills the size of a bean laid at the bottom of the furnace.
“It’s done!” Jing Yue picked up the pills and found it to be of high-quality. He relaxed at last, and said to Old man Liu, “The refining process is going to be painful, and there will be some detritus left by the decomposition, but it will restore your meridians very quickly.”
Old man Liu accepted the pills solemnly. He lowered his head, stared at the pills, and thought that it was the most beautiful color that he had ever laid his eyes upon. Two streaks of tears slid down his face.
After another three days, both Old man Liu and Lil Pebble had successfully rebuilt their foundation.
They stepped out from the house drenched in sweat, and tried to kneel to Jing Yue as soon as they saw him, but Jing Yue dodged it, “One should only kneel to the Heaven and Earth, their ancestors, teachers, and parents. I’m nothing but an irrelevant passerby, don’t kneel to me.”
Old man Liu’s heart was agitated, and spoke with eyes full of tears, “I never thought, never imagined that this day would come. When I was banished from the Chen family, when I came to this village with Lil Pebble, I thought everything was over for us…”
Seeing him in this state, Lil Pebble was perplexed. He knew that he had recovered, and did not have to take medicine anymore. It was a good thing, so why was Grandpa crying?
Very quickly, Lil Pebble realized that it might not be a good thing after all. Grandpa was suddenly very strict with him, forcing him to cultivate day and night, well before the sun came up and well after the sun went down. Apart from eating and sleeping, there was no rest at all. No matter what persuasion tactics he employed, Grandpa would not reduce the workload.
One day, during dinner, Lil Pebble suddenly burst into tears while eating.
Old man Liu was baffled and tried to find out the reason. Lil Pebble threw himself into Jing Yue’s arms, crying and pouring out his grievances bottled up in the past few days.
Jing Yue was amused, held Lil Pebble’s tiny face with his hands, and said gently, “Lil Pebble, do you want to protect Grandpa?”
Tears clung to Lil Pebble’s eyes, but he nodded his head without any hesitation.
“Only when you’re accomplished in your cultivation, you’ll then be able to protect the people you care about, so that they will not come to any harm, and lead a life free from worries.”
Lil Pebble did not fully comprehend the meaning, but he took Jing Yue’s words to heart. After leaving Jing Yue’s arms, he hugged Old man Liu as a sign of his determination.
After Lil Pebble was placated, Jing Yue spoke privately to Old man Liu, “Patience is the key to success. Lil Pebble is still so young, you must make him understand the purpose of cultivation. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to find his own Dao, and how far could he go on the road of cultivation then?”
Old man Liu was already used to Jing Yue’s preaching, and he said bitterly, “I know I’m being too hard on him, but Chen Yong is a level 8 Qi Refining, I’m just worried… sigh…”
Abruptly, he punched the table, “It’s a pity common cultivators like us can’t provide our disciples with enough spirit nourishing pills, unlike the disciples from major sects, we have to endure at least three or four years before we can attain the Body Forging stage.”
Having said that, he suddenly raised his head and looked at Jing Yue, before quickly lowering it again without saying anything.
Jing Yue was unruffled. In that moment, he knew Old man Liu wanted to ask if he could refine spirit nourishing pills, but was embarrassed in the end.
Of course he could, but there was a major downside to spirit nourishing pills. Even premium-quality pills would produce a small amount of detritus.
In his past life, the major sects never allowed the disciples to consume spirit nourishing pills. But now that most of the legacies were lost, cultivation was increasingly difficult, and consuming pills to accelerate cultivation had become the norm.
The detritus of the Hundred-turn Meridian Pill remained in both Old man Liu and Lil Pebble’s bodies, if they further consumed spirit nourishing pills, it would add to the toxic buildup. Even if they could advance their cultivation quickly now, it would impede their progress greatly in the future.
Suddenly, Jing Yue had a stroke of inspiration. In his past life, there was a type of Purifying Pill that could cleanse the pill detritus to a certain extent. Under normal circumstances, such pills would be in high demand, but he had never seen it being sold in the market nor medicinal shops.
Jing Yue raised the question and Old man Liu was rattled, “Purifying Pills do exist, but the recipe is a closely-guarded secret controlled by major sects and pill-refining sects, and never disclosed out of the sects, at least I’ve never seen it in Megasun City. Oh yes, I’ve heard that the Hall of Fiery Pill can refine it.”
Seeing the thoughtful look on Jing Yue, Old man Liu asked cautiously, “Could it be… you can refine it?”
Refining a Purifying Pill required activating the refiner’s spiritual energy. Jing Yue could only refine this particular pill upon reaching level 1 Qi Refining stage.
Old man Liu mistakenly thought that Jing Yue did not possess the knowledge, so he simply brushed this matter aside.
After half a month, Jing Yue successfully broke through and was now a cultivator at level 1 Qi Refining stage.
The Qi Refining stage and the Body Forging stage were part of the Foundation stage, also known as the innate stage, and there were 9 levels to each stage. Among those, levels 3, 6 and 9 were the inception levels, more difficult to advance. After level 9 was the absolute level, and a cultivator who had broken through the absolute level would have successfully established the foundation.
Only when a cultivator entered the Foundation Establishment stage, could they truly be considered as stepping foot on the path of Dao, thus achieving the separation between mortal and immortal beings.
Jing Yue had achieved level 1 Qi Refining, and could now cultivate the techniques from the Art of Ten Desolate Universe. He was already highly proficient in water techniques such as Tranquil Water technique and Water Condensation technique. Hence, he wanted to learn some lightning techniques to diversify his attack skills.
Turning his attention to the blue phoenix grooming its feathers at the corner, he said, “Ji-ji, since you’re omniscient, do you know any lightning techniques?”
The blue phoenix was highly dissatisfied with Jing Yue’s name-calling, but it dared not resist, glaring with its beady eyes instead, “Of course. There’s the wind-lightning technique, sky-lightning technique, ten thousand sparks technique, the Nether lightning technique, the…”
“Say something that you know,” Jing Yue interrupted. What was the point of simply reciting the names of high-level techniques?
Blue phoenix said reluctantly, “Palm-lightning technique.”
Jing Yue considered for a moment. The palm-lightning technique was indeed something that could be practiced by a Qi Refining cultivator, so he got the blue phoenix to teach him.
Blue phoenix immediately imparted the knowledge smugly, “Humph, now do you know how useful I can be? Stop calling me Ji-ji then!”
“You’re really useful, Ji-ji.”
Blue phoenix, “…”
Due to the blue phoenix’s high unreliability factor, Jing Yue cautiously deduced the method several times before he was finally confident enough to activate his spiritual energy to perform the technique.
After a few moments, a blob of lightning appeared on the palm of his hands, illuminating the room like daylight.
Blue phoenix: Have you heard of the counterattack trope? What about the marriage annulment trope?
Jing Yue could bear it no more: Shut up! Where did this wild pheasant come from, being so dramatic and stealing the limelight?
Blue phoenix: QAQ
Old man Liu: We must regain what we have lost!
Blue phoenix: Where have I heard that again?
--I’ve waited for this opportunity for three years, not to prove that I’m better than others, but to take back what I’ve lost! by <A Better Tomorrow>