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As Chen Mobai observed the flow of spiritual energy in the sixty acres of fertile fields of Xiao Nanshan, Zhuo Ming, who had received his message, had already hurried over.
Zhuo Ming arrived with a straw hat on her head, a bamboo basket slung over her right arm, and barefoot. Although her feet were snow-white, Chen Mobai could see the black spots of mud on the cuffs of her trousers.
It seemed that she had been inspecting the newly sown seedlings in the fields barefoot when she received his summons. Though she had washed her feet, the rolled-up trouser legs were still damp, betraying her previous busyness.
"Zhuo Ming, you've worked hard during this period."
Chen Mobai was very satisfied with this disciple. Although the Shenmu Sect didn't understand why a genius with such a promising future would take in an ordinary Qi Refining disciple, if he had taken in a disciple with a Heavenly spiritual root to till the soil and sun the seeds, they certainly wouldn't have been as obedient and diligent as Zhuo Ming.
Not to mention anything else, even if he had asked his eldest disciple Liu Wenbo to farm, the latter wouldn't have objected, but he would surely have had his own thoughts about it.
Sometimes, it's disciples like Zhuo Ming, who have suffered hardships and come from a scattered cultivation background, who are more compliant and sensible.
"It's not hard work; after all, it's also very helpful for my cultivation."
After Zhuo Ming stood up, she demonstrated her progress in the Earth Mother Scripture. In half a year, she had reached the third level of Qi Refining.
Chen Mobai nodded and asked her some questions about cultivation. When it came to switching Qi Refining techniques, he was very familiar with the process, having experienced it twice.
Although the transformation from Wood spiritual energy to Earth spiritual energy required first converting to Fire spiritual energy, resulting in some inevitable loss of spiritual energy, Zhuo Ming's outstanding Earth spiritual root, combined with the earth energy from the sixty acres of spiritual fields, not only replenished the lost Longevity spiritual energy but even allowed her to experience a rapid advancement and breakthrough.
The reason she had only recovered to the third level of Qi Refining in half a year was not because she lost too much during the conversion process, but because she was deliberately suppressing her own progress.
In fact, in Zhuo Ming's dantian Qi sea, there was still seventy percent of the Longevity spiritual energy that had not been converted.
"Hmm, having such a steady mindset bodes well for your future Foundation Establishment."
Chen Mobai felt Zhuo Ming's pulse and examined the state of the spiritual energy within her, nodding in satisfaction.
Both were at the perfect completion of the ninth level of Qi Refining and had the assistance of Foundation Establishment Pills, but why, among the twenty-four true disciples of the Shenmu Sect, only a handful could successfully establish their foundation?
The difference lay in these details.
Understanding of the technique, refinement of spiritual energy, cultivation of the spirit, and so on—if there was a flaw in any one aspect, Foundation Establishment would be difficult to achieve.
While the master and disciple were discussing the matters of sowing and transplanting, Liu Wenbo, who had received the news, also arrived.
"Come, follow me up."
With both disciples present, it was time to distribute the treasures.
Arriving at the wooden hut on the mountain peak, Zhuo Ming immediately went in and brought out a chair for Chen Mobai to sit down without hesitation.
"During this retreat, I have made further progress in the way of the sword..."
Before Chen Mobai could finish speaking, both disciples were already overjoyed, even happier than he was.
However, this was understandable, as in the Tianhe Realm, the relationship between master and disciple was even closer than blood ties.
High-level cultivators with lifespans of hundreds of years often found that as they aged, their relatives and descendants were far removed, and it was the disciples who accompanied them that they felt a deeper connection with.
"These magical instruments were used by me during my Qi Refining days; now that I no longer need them, I'll give them to you."
Chen Mobai didn't beat around the bush, as he had to visit the Wanbao Cave the next day and time was of the essence. He went straight to the point.
With a wave of his sleeve, four rays of spiritual light flew out, landing in front of the two disciples.
Zhuo Ming received a dark gold needle case and a wooden umbrella, while Liu Wenbo received a blue handkerchief and a brass ring.
Both disciples were even happier, but somewhat embarrassed.
"Thank you, Master."
After Chen Mobai spoke, they happily accepted the two magical instruments in front of them.
"Wenbo's blue handkerchief is a mid-grade first-order defensive magical instrument. The controlling spell is very simple; just infuse it with spiritual energy."
"But this brass ring was one of the crutches that helped me achieve my current level in the sword path."
"I'm passing it on to you today in the hope that you too can achieve something on the sword path."
Chen Mobai then detailed the history of the sword-casting ring to the two disciples.
Hearing that it was a secret treasure for sword training passed down from Jin Guang Cliff, Liu Wenbo couldn't help but be moved and paid a great tribute to him.
This was a transmission of the mantle!
It showed that he was truly regarded as an inner disciple.
"But remember, the sword path relies heavily on talent. Your main goal now should still be to perfect your Qi Refining and strive for a good ranking in this year's sect competition."
With a wave of his hand, Chen Mobai pulled Liu Wenbo up with an invisible spiritual force.
At the end of last year's sect competition, although Chen Mobai was gathering with friends and family in Danxia City, he took two days to watch the competition in Shenmu City and had a couple of drinks with friends like Qi Rui and Yuan Chiyi.
Unfortunately, Liu Wenbo's accumulation was still insufficient, and he fell in the two rounds before the true discipleship.
Because Chen Mobai had taken the previous generation of true disciples to consume Foundation Establishment Pills during the opening of the Shenmu Secret Realm, those who failed had to come out of seclusion to compete for the position of true disciple again, making last year's sect competition even more intense than the previous two years.
But without Chen Mobai, the monster who could suppress all with a single sword, Mu Yuan unarguably took the top spot.
As for the other disciple, Zhuo Ming, the focus was on participation and experience accumulation.
She was eliminated in the first round.
However, her opponent also knew that this round-faced junior sister, who was at the third level of Qi Refining, was the disciple of Chen Mobai, the newly established Foundation Establishment elder and top true disciple of last year. The opponent was very gentle and simply pushed her off the platform.
The most regrettable was Qi Rui.
He and Liu Wenbo followed Xi Jinghuo to Jin Guang Cliff for further training, feeling confident in his swordsmanship. He considered himself at the peak of Qi Refining in both talisman and swordsmanship, but unfortunately, he met Feng Hongxue, who had failed in Foundation Establishment and had to start over, and still fell before the true discipleship.
However, after this battle, Qi Rui was full of confidence.
Because Feng Hongxue also lost in the next round to Qi Hou after their fierce battle, this indicated that he indeed had the strength of a true disciple.
With five more years to go, he was confident that in the year when the Jade Marrow Golden Ganoderma matured, he would achieve true discipleship and obtain a Foundation Establishment Pill.
"Teacher, I will not let you down. This year, I will definitely become a true disciple."
Liu Wenbo put on the brass ring, infused it with his spiritual energy according to the method taught by Chen Mobai, and felt the evolution of the sword energy, brimming with confidence.
His Longevity Immortal Technique was showing signs of breaking through to the ninth level of Qi Refining. With the sword-casting ring and the family's secret Bibo Sword Qi technique, even if he couldn't suppress all true disciples with a single sword like his teacher Chen Mobai, he at least had to secure a true disciple position and not disgrace his teacher.
Liu Wenbo, who believed he had received the mantle from Chen Mobai, made a silent vow in his heart.
Zhuo Ming, with her round face, was also full of envy. Who wouldn't want to defeat enemies with a single sword if they could, instead of farming?
"This needle case is used with the Sacrificial Refinement Technique..."
After explaining the sacrificial refinement methods for Liu Wenbo's two magical instruments, Chen Mobai turned to explain Zhuo Ming's.
Zhuo Ming, receiving such precious magical instruments for the first time in her life, was immediately captivated by the needle case and the Five Transformations Umbrella. When she heard that the Five Transformations Umbrella was a top-grade first-order defensive magical instrument, she was so shocked that her mouth fell open.
"Master, this is too valuable."
Of the same grade, defensive magical instruments are priced at least one level higher than offensive ones, at least a third more expensive.
Given the choice between the sword-casting ring and the Five Transformations Umbrella, all cultivators, except sword cultivators, would choose the umbrella.
"I have the weakest among my disciples, so take it."
Chen Mobai's blunt words didn't discourage Zhuo Ming at all.
She happily held the wooden umbrella, and after infusing spiritual energy into the handle with the newly learned sacrificial technique, she opened it with a "snap."
"Wenbo, give it a try."
At the master's command, Liu Wenbo lifted the thumb with the newly worn sword-casting ring, conjuring a blue sword energy that slashed onto the surface of the Five Transformations Umbrella.
With a rustling sound, like rain falling on an umbrella, Zhuo Ming didn't feel the pressure of the sword energy, but her face began to pale.
Her spiritual energy was being drained.
Chen Mobai immediately helped her close the Five Transformations Umbrella.
"At least you'll need to reach the sixth level of Qi Refining to barely manage it."
Zhuo Ming caught her breath for a while, holding the Five Transformations Umbrella lovingly, her little face flushed and full of joy.
"If you have the chance in the future, practice the sacrificial techniques for these two magical instruments well. Both the needle case and the Five Transformations Umbrella require a lot of experience to use."
Chen Mobai had shown off quite a few moves with these two magical instruments in his day.
As a cultivator born and raised in the Tianhe Realm, Zhuo Ming had also experienced many battles and had spent several years in and out of the Dream Swamp.
Once her Longevity spiritual energy was fully converted, she should be able to break through to the later stages of Qi Refining. With these two magical instruments, she might even make it to the third round in the sect competition.
"Thank you, Master."
After thanking their master again, Chen Mobai diligently inquired if they had any confusion in their cultivation.
Liu Wenbo just happened to want to ask for insights on breaking through to the ninth level of Qi Refining, and Zhuo Ming, who was cultivating Earth spiritual energy for the first time, had also accumulated many questions.
After Chen Mobai answered all their questions, he realized that it had already gotten dark.
Knowing that their master enjoyed eating and drinking, Zhuo Ming went down the mountain to pick some fresh bamboo shoots, and Liu Wenbo caught some spirit fish raised in the rice fields, each showing off their cooking skills with many dishes.
Chen Mobai even opened a jar of last year's Jade Bud Spirit Wine.
"Oh, this is quite a coincidence."
Just as the master and disciples were about to start eating, a green light descended, and Yuan Chiyi appeared from the sky, smiling at the sumptuous family feast.
"Come, come, we're just missing a drinking buddy."
Chen Mobai brightened up when he saw Yuan Chiyi and immediately invited him over.
Although the two disciples were quite good, they were still a generation younger and a bit restrained when drinking with him. Yuan Chiyi's arrival was just right.
"I was thinking of catching up with you before leaving the sect, but I didn't expect to be able to enjoy such a good meal."
"Oh, are you going back to the Dream Swamp?"
"Not exactly. A vein of azure ore within the territory of the Lei Kingdom was found to contain accompanying spirit stones, possibly a small spirit stone mine. The six major cultivating families there kept it secret and didn't report it, dividing the benefits unevenly in private, resulting in many deaths, which was discovered by the local sect guardians."
Yuan Chiyi briefly explained his mission.
Although he had successfully established his foundation, he still owed the sect contributions and spirit stones, so he took on this mission posted by the Spirit Vein Department.
"Are you going alone?"
Chen Mobai was a bit worried, as the families considered cultivating families by the Shenmu Sect all had Foundation Establishment cultivators in charge.
"I'm just going to assist the Lei Kingdom's sect guardians and investigate the output of that spirit stone mine. The sect has already notified Brother Zhou, and he will also lead some people from the Dream Swamp to rush to the Lei Kingdom. The worst-case scenario is that the sect will take action and wipe out those six cultivating families."
Yuan Chiyi spoke of these matters with casual detachment.
It seemed that for cultivators in the Tianhe Realm, exterminating a family was just a common occurrence.
However, according to the rules of the Immortal Gate, all resources above and below the heavens belong to the state, and private discoveries must be reported immediately.
As the Lei Kingdom was a secular power of the Shenmu Sect, the discovery of a spirit stone mine indeed should belong to their sect.
"Then I wish you a smooth journey."
"Thank you for your good words. By the way, Sister Yan discovered a Foundation Establishment cultivator's cave dwelling, but she can't break the formation alone and wants to invite three fellow disciples to help. She came to me first, but since I just took on this mission in the Lei Kingdom, if you're interested, you can invite her to talk."
Yuan Chiyi left Chen Mobai with a piece of information when he departed.
Chen Mobai nodded, but he had no desire to venture out at all.
He was comfortable staying at Giant Wood Ridge, and he was about to enter the Wanbao Cave. A mere Foundation Establishment cultivator's cave dwelling was of little interest to him.
After seeing Yuan Chiyi off, the two disciples had already cleaned up the messy mountaintop.
"I've had another insight and need to retreat for a while. Unless it's something important, do not disturb me."
Liu Wenbo and Zhuo Ming looked at each other, puzzled.
Why did their master have another insight?
Neither of them had ever experienced such an epiphany in their cultivation.
Indeed, they, mere mortals, could not compare to their master, a peerless genius.
The two respectfully descended the mountain, and the cloud mist formation was activated again, sealing off the mountaintop of Xiao Nanshan.
The next day, Yan Jinye, who came to visit, heard Zhuo Ming's words and could only regretfully go to another senior sister after admiring Chen Mobai.
Behind the Red City Mountain.
Chen Mobai, carrying a backpack, handed his recommendation form to a tall, burly young man with sword-like eyebrows and starry eyes.
"I am Qin Beichen."
The man spoke, revealing himself to be Chen Mobai's official instructor at the Weaponry Dao Academy, the Taoist Master Qin Beichen.
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