Chapter 133 – Pushing for the Second Layer
When Yan Song heard about Li Qingshan’s actions during the past two days, he became so shocked that his mouth hung agape. The Sect of Clouds and Rain was powerful. Even with the entire Clear River prefecture in perspective, it was one of the stronger sects, an existence that far surpassed the Green Vine mountain and the Qian family. Even the Iron Fist school came nowhere close to it.
The main Parlour of Clouds and Rain was established in Clear River city. It was a place where the powerful and affluent visited, and they had acquaintances far and wide. Even the vice commander Hua of the Hawkwolf Guard would frequently visit there. It was said that he was the closest with the sect master of the Sect of Clouds and Rain.
Li Qingshan had actually offended them, no, destroyed the Parlour of Clouds and Rain as soon as he had arrived in Jiaping city. He was utterly audacious.
Li Qingshan said, “I was only seeking justice.” He subconsciously pressed the sheath of his Wind-entwining blade. He already knew where justice lay.
It was a moonless night. All was silent. In the pitch-black residence, Li Qingshan sat with crossed legs and closed eyes.
True qi constantly circulated through his body. He followed the method provided by the third layer of the Innate Method of Practising Qi, circulating it along his meridians. Even with the assistance of the Qi Gathering pills, it grew at an extremely gradual rate now.
He wore the sumeru ring on his finger. It did not stand out in the darkness, nor did it react when Li Qingshan channeled in his pure true qi.
It was like he was guarding a great treasure room, but he could not go in and take a look. He could only pace around the entrance, guessing at its contents.
He could resist the temptation of the wealth a Golden Core master had accumulated over many years, but he was unable to resist what the black ox had mentioned before it had left. “I’ve left something in there for you.”
Th black ox could give such a terrifying ability of the demonic path like the Path of White Bone and Great Beauty to Xiao An, so since he had told him about this in such a solemn matter, just what treasure would it be?
Would it be a legendary weapon? A tremendous, supreme ability? Or a miraculous pill or medicine that could allow him to ascend and reach beyond the Nine Heavens upon ingesting it?
He was afraid of thinking about it normally. The more he thought about it, the more restless he would become. He sighed inside, Brother ox, oh brother ox. Just what did you leave for me? Couldn’t you have given it to me directly? Must you make things difficult for me? I’m even forced to open the sumeru ring through the methods of humans. Back then, it was you who wanted to turn me into a daemon, so I turned into a daemon.
Although that was how he lamented, he felt like the black ox definitely had his reasons for this. The black ox must have expected him to return to human society as a human, which was why he gave him a trial like this. Did he want him to accomplish something with human cultivation?
He was unable to understand why, so he just stopped thinking about it. He needed this identity as a human. In just the past two days he had spent in Jiaping city, he had obtained over a hundred Qi Gathering pills. The stronger he grew, the easier it would be for him to obtain pills and the safer he would be.
At the end of the day, he still could not depend on transforming in public. Most of the time, he would still have to rely on his path of practising qi, but the first layer of Qi Practitioner was just too weak.
He suddenly stopped cultivating. The essential ideas behind the fourth layer of the Innate Method of Practising Qi floated through his head slowly, word for word. All of it was extremely clear.
He was attempting to open the Yang Heel meridian of the eight extraordinary meridians so that he could break through to the second layer of Qi Practitioner. This would be the first meridian he had to open, and it would also mean that he would formally set foot in the path of practising qi. It could be said that the significance behind this was utterly different from the first three layers of the Innate Method of Practising Qi.
Under the control of his mind, his true qi flowed into his left leg like water, sinking to his ankle, to the Shenmai acupoint. This was the beginning of the Yang Heel meridian. If he wanted to open the Yang Heel meridian, this was where the door for opening it lied.
He no longer sat on his bed with his legs crossed. Instead, he maintained a strange posture, where he leaned forward on his arms and legs with his left leg extended. It looked like some sort of yoga pose.
Xiao An had originally been crouching beside the bed, directing all his focus to the pile of buddhist scriptures and classics that Li Qingshan had brought back for him, but now, he had placed down his books and was watching Li Qingshan carefully.
What Li Qingshan wanted to do was knock on the door!
True qi rushed towards the Shenmai acupoint wave after wave, but the door remained firmly shut, without any intention of opening up. Let alone opening the acupoint, he could not even shake it up.
He knew his accumulation of true qi was still not enough. He had yet to reach the peak of the first layer with his quantity of true qi. The ordinary method would be to continue accumulating true qi over time, and in just a few months’ time, the true qi in his body would become like a great river, easily smashing through the obstructing dam.
What he was trying to do right now was to smash through the dam as a tiny stream, so it was truly difficult. However, just like how he would eventually succeed but all he could do was control the present, he had to give it a try and make an attempt. Only then would he be satisfied. He chewed up another Qi Gathering pill to replenish his true qi.
After several attempts, he failed to benefit at all, so he finally stopped. However, he did not give up. Instead, he concentrated on controlling his true qi; he constantly concentrated it further, turning it from a stream into ice, into a long spear. It became a hundred times smaller, but also a hundred times tougher.
Afterwards, when he could not condense it any further, the ice spear rushed towards the great dam in an unstoppable manner.
There was a sudden sting of pain from the bottom of his foot, but Li Qingshan completely ignored it. Instead, he was joyfully surprised. This time, the true qi had not been blocked. It stabbed into the Shenmai acupoint, and under his control, it inched deeper with great difficulty.
A gentle sound seemed to ring through his body. A hole formed in the dam that blocked the stream as true qi rapidly surged through the Yang Heel meridian.
A speck of light suddenly lit up inside him, like the first star in the endless cosmos.
Before Li Qingshan could even celebrate, the true qi slapped into another obstacle, the Pushen meridian, also located near his ankle.
The true qi shattered upon collision and did not condense together again. Under the invisible pressure of the Yang Heel meridian, it was forced back out.
He failed in opening his meridian!
Even the Shenmai acupoint he opened closed up once more.
Li Qingshan breathed in heavily. Who knows how many times Yan Song had called him a cultivation prodigy, but he could not even open his first meridian today, even struggling to reach the second layer of Qi Practitioner. Only then did he understand that the path of practising qi would not be simple.
In comparison, daemon cultivation was much more mindless. All they had to do was inhale and exhale spiritual qi of the world or ingest spiritual medicines and pills so that their daemon qi would constantly grow. Once they reached a certain level, they would condense a daemon core automatically. The cultivation that came after that would be the same as before, constantly gathering daemon qi in the daemon core. Upon reaching another certain level, there would be a crackle of heavenly lightning. If they survived, they would become Daemon Generals. If they failed, they would be burnt to a crisp. It was as simple as that.
Most daemons began as wild beasts or even plants, cultivating based on their instincts. If the entire process required even just a tiny bit of intelligence and thought, there would be no daemons in this world.
However, while it was simple, it took time. Let alone plants, even if an ordinary wild beast in nature wanted to become a Daemon General, it would take them a century at the very least. Moreover, they would have to eat a spiritual medicine at least on par with the spiritual ginseng to have a chance. There were plenty of daemons who took several centuries.
Opening meridians was both a gift from the heavens to humans, as well as a shortcut that humans had discovered. However, no matter how great of a shortcut it was, he still had to take one step at a time.
In the eyes of other Qi Practitioners, a person like Li Qingshan was utterly out of his mind. He had only practised qi for a few days and already wanted to open his meridians, even sighing about how difficult it was to practise qi after failing.
However, Li Qingshan did not become discouraged. He grabbed a Qi Gathering pill and shoved it in his mouth first, but he did not eat it. He tried to break through again.
With his experience from the first time, it was much easier for him to rush through the Shenmai acupoint, but after that, he dared not lose his concentration. Chomping down, he crushed the Qi Gathering pill. As he replenished his true qi, he focused on the next obstacle.
Four hours passed. He had eaten a total of twenty-five Qi Gathering pills and had attempted to break through thirteen times already. The greatest attempt so far was rushing through three acupoints in the leg, the Shenmai acupoint, Pushen acupoint, and Fuyang acupoint. The true qi flowed through his left leg like an unstoppable stream, but it was blocked again once it reached the Jūliao acupoint in his hip.
Once he was blocked, it would be like working against the flow, making it recede. The true qi would be directly pushed out, and the connected acupoints would close up again. There were a total of twelve acupoints within the Yang Heel meridian. Regular Qi Practitioners probably would choose to give up now.
But not Li Qingshan. The effects of the pill he could not absorb in time would all go to the daemon core anyway. The daemon core never cared about what went its way. If there was anything, it would absorb it, so he had no need to worry about being wasteful, much less about any potential issues due to an accumulation of unabsorbed medicinal effects. As a result, Li Qingshan became more and more fearless with his experiments. Succeeding was good, but failing was not necessarily bad either.
He could feel that the acupoints he had opened would become slightly easier to open the next time he tried, even if they had closed up again. Through this process, Li Qingshan had built up quite a lot of experience. He had also gained an even deeper understanding of the Innate Method of Practising Qi.
After some consideration, Li Qingshan took out a pill. It seemed like the clear dew on flower petals at dawn. It was not a Qi Gathering pill, but the Pearl Dew pill he had received from Diao Fei. This was the pill that Diao Fei had been saving up for his push to the fourth layer. It was rather wasteful for pushing to the second layer of Qi Practitioner, but it was perfect for Li Qingshan, who had not taken his time with accumulating true qi.
However, if he failed this time, it would be a waste of a good pill.
Li Qingshan did not hesitate much. He decided to gamble on it.
When the Pear Dew pill slid down his throat, Li Qingshan even clearly felt the coolness and fullness of the pill, but once it reached his belly, it turned into a raging flood.
The flood fused into his true qi, immediately turning the tiny stream into a turbulent river. It surged through the Shenmai, Pushen, and Fuyang acupoints with basically no resistance at all. Next, it made a twist and gushed through the Jūliao acupoint, arriving at the Naoshu acupoint behind his shoulder. Only then was there a slight resistance.
However, Li Qingshan had already concentrated all his attention on this, so how could he just stop there? He rushed through the Naoshu, Jianyu, and Jugu acupoints near his shoulder one after another.
At this moment, the true qi began to show signs of weakening, but he had already been prepared for this. He ate Qi Gathering pills one after another without stopping, urging on the true qi to extend through the Dicang, Jùliao, Chengqi, and Jingming acupoints.
The true qi was extremely close to the brain now, which required great caution. Many Qi Practitioners would momentarily lose control and have the true qi rush into their brains, mentally incapacitating them. Obviously, Li Qingshan did not want to experience a fate like that.
Despite how scary it was, no harm was caused in the end. He rushed through the four acupoints, and in his body, eleven specks of light lit up, like stars in the dark cosmos. They were joined by a faint trajectory of light, like a star map.
He finally saw the final point on the star map. It was the Fengchi acupoint located at the back of his head. As long as he linked up this acupoint, he would have opened the Yang Heel meridian, forging a highway for true qi through his body. He would have reached the second layer of Qi Practitioner, as it was known among humans, as well.
However, his true qi had already run out. The replenishing effects of the Qi Gathering pill were unable to reach so far. It was just like an army that had its supply chain cut off. They could collapse at any time.
All he felt was exhaustion, as if he had just gone through an extremely tough journey during that time. He could clearly see the end, but he was unable to take a step further. The moment when his true qi collided with the Fengchi acupoint would be the moment when all of his efforts would go to waste, but he was unable to stop his true qi.
Did he fail?