Let’s start off volume 9 with, you guessed it, more refining water!
Honestly I’d draw a soft boundary between the first eight volumes and the next few volumes. You could interpret the first eight volumes as being mostly confined to the Clear River prefecture. Volume 7 and 8 basically tied off a bunch of stuff, such as Lolth being lqs’s superior and Xiao An’s background story.
But from here on outwards, it’s going to be much more than the Clear River prefecture. There’s a whole world out there to be explored, with lots of new characters, both friend or foe, being introduced. I’d argue this volume is a transition chapter between the two, with the volume after this one (volume 10) getting pretty spicy hehe