Plundering The Heavens - Chapter 24
Chapter 24: Accumulation and Breakthrough
Translator: Actias-Myriea Editor: Nou
Hua's residence at Heiyan Valley was situated ten miles away from the district that contained Fang Xing's cottage. Despite Fang Xing's young age and the fact he was only at the second tier, it took him around a mere half an hour to arrive at the Heiyan Valley before barging in. There were some people who were using the early morning sun to train, but nobody paid Fang Xing a second glance;he was just a young daotong, after all.
Fang Xing casually strolled around the district searching for the number that was on Hua's wooden token and once he'd located the cottage he walked up and knocked on the door.
A muffled voice rose up from inside the cottage: ’’Who is it?’’
’’My name... I am Little Snivel. I'm here to send Shixiong a message,’’ Fang Xing replied in a childish voice after clearing his throat.
’’Message?’’ The man muttered to himself, put on alert as he opened the door. It was a surly-faced man in his thirties with a solid stature in stark contrast to his long and spindly fingers, and his eyes and brows paired up exactly with the man's at the Black Market. As he looked at the child in front of him, the man asked in a low voice, ’’What message?’’
The child daotong stammered at the question, ’’It was a tall shixiong. He had very narrow eyes....’’
As Fang Xing described the main features of the man he had transformed into the night before, Hua's face darkened even further as he listened on. Before the boy had finished, the man pulled Fang Xing into his cottage by the arm and asked in a cold voice, ’’What is that person's name? Where does he live? Tell me everything. If you dare to miss any details, I'll make sure you pay for it dearly.’’
Newly scared, the tiny body of the boy shivered endlessly, his voice coming out small and forced, ’’I I don't know. I was just carrying s some water, and he came up to me... he said... said to send you a message. He he also said that once I send you the message, you w would reward me.’’ Fang Xing's imitation of a timid boy was to such perfection that even he almost believed his own lies.
Or perhaps it was simply another side of him. He was still a child himself, after all.
After a few rounds of careful questioning paired with Fang Xing's impeccable answers, Hua let out a sigh. He finally believed that this child daotong in front of him was no more than a messenger chosen at random.
’’What was the message he wanted you to tell me?’’
’’He said... he said he wanted Ore Essence Powder!’’
’’Ore Essence P ’’ as soon as he heard himself repeating the item, Hua's face turned red and he began to curse, ’’ where the hell does he want me to get Ore Essence Powder!’’
Suddenly as though he had just come to a realization Hua calmed down and began to collect his thoughts. 'No, he's obviously not talking about the real thing. Those powders are used to break through into a higher tier and the sect has tight controls over it. It's fortunate that I've seen it before since I work at the Alchemy Mill, but even I've only seen it a couple of times. Hmm... how can I make it realistic...'
Despite such thoughts, Hua still didn't want to do such a difficult job. Just as he was debating with himself in his mind, the boy opened his mouth again, ’’The shixiong also said that... if you didn't decline, I will have to give you this.’’
’’'This'?’’ Hua asked while the boy pulled out a small cloth bag with some effort. When Hua took over and looked into the bag, his pupils contracted at the sight of the contents: ten bright red Spirit Stones were paired with a single golden leaf.
’’The shixiong said th that this is just an advance payment. Once... once it's all done, there will be... t twenty more,’’ the daotong continued to stammer, as though he was doing his best to remember exactly the message he had been ordered to deliver.
Hua could feel his breaths become shorter and more hurried as he stared at the Spirit Stones in front of him, far more convincing than any words. Thirty Stones was a very good deal for him, especially since the best materials required to make something appear and feel like authentic Ore Essence Powder would only cost him a single Spirit Stone.
’’Did he say anything about what he plans to do with the powder?’’ Hua contemplated, closing the bag and holding it tightly in his hand.
Fang Xing cautiously shook his head, ’’He didn't, but...’’
’’But he said if.... If you don't have Ore Essence Powder, he'll tell p people something.’’
Immediately, Hua covered his forehead with his other hand in resignation;he knew what the man would do if he declined. Without dwelling on the matter too much further, Hua let out another long sigh. ’’I'll take the Stones. You go back and tell him to send someone here in seven days to collect the powder.’’
Just as Hua was about to turn around, he noticed the boy looking at him longingly without moving an inch. It was then that he realized what the extra gold leaf inside the cloth bag was for;he passed the leaf over to the daotong with a wave. ’’You can go now.’’
The daotong held on to the golden leaf and gave an excited reply, ’’Now I can tell you the last part. That shixiong also said, if you planned on finding out who he is by following me, h he will not show up at all.’’
Indeed, Hua had actually planned to tail behind the boy at his departure, but hearing these words left Hua startled at just how meticulous the other person he was dealing with was. Waving his hands once more, he again asked the boy to leave. The original plan had been to follow the boy to find out who this mysterious man actually was, but since his plan had been laid bare, there was no point in him trying to do it anymore.
After Fang Xing left Hua's cottage, he felt a sense of complacency. He grew up in a bandit nest, after all, and by eleven years old he had already tagged along with his seventh and eighth uncle in the shady businesses of kidnapping and ransoms. It had left the town officials angry and confused but without any progress, and all of the tricks his uncles had used had also been imprinted in that little brain of his. Today, all Fang Xing had to do was alter it slightly to suit the situation and Hua had already become a dead sheep waiting to be butchered.
Trusting that there shouldn't be any problems from Hua, Fang Xing returned to his cottage in high spirits. Since Hua had said it would be ready in seven days, Fang Xing wasn't worried;he'd just have to return when it was finished. In the time before then, he became even more diligent in practicing with the Qi fluctuations in order to prepare for the days to come.
It became clear, however, that after Fang Xing had stepped into tier two, using the same methods from before had grown many times more difficult. In a way, it was as though a streamlet had turned into a full-sized stream, and the amount of water that was required to fill it was many times larger. Similarly, practicing his fluctuations using Spirit Stones of the same size would be like using the exact same spoon to fill streams of differing sizes: the time and effort it took for them to be completely filled would be vastly different.
Under normal circumstances, with an abundance of resources it would usually take approximately two months for someone at the beginning of tier one to reach its peak. At tier two, it would take up to half a year before tier two's peak was achieved.
Once someone reached the peak or the mastery of the tier they would then have to try to break through into the tier above. The process itself was also time-consuming and highly dependent upon luck and zi'zhi;some would find this ’’breakthrough’’ simple and effortless and required no more than a couple of days, while those less fortunate might end up dwelling on the peak of a tier for years on end without ever going higher.
A cultivator would consume his resources to increase and accumulate his Qi through fluctuation practice, but when breaking through a bottleneck, a combination of zi'zhi, willpower, assistance from a powerful helper, and luck were the deciding factors.
Accumulation and breakthrough: cultivation's quantity and quality. Only when both conditions had been met could it be said that cultivation was truly practiced.
Of course, every breakthrough brought with it vast advantages that would have been impossible before.
Though Fang Xing had not learned any spells yet, he could feel the abundance of energy and vitality within him. He was far more agile and stronger than he was before, and he could even spend fewer hours on sleep without sacrificing his physical strength and health.
After some time had passed, Fang Xing stopped his fluctuations to practice some martial arts;working on his fluctuations right now simply took too much time he didn't have.
Fang Xing stood up inside his wooden cottage, taking out his dagger and tucking his long robe into his pants. Wherever the dagger could be seen passing, rays of white light would follow swishing from one side of the room to the other, his figure closely resembling that of a nimble animal. Fang Xing would jump high up into the air to pierce places that were far beyond his reach, imagining his enemies to be adults;every enemy he had faced up to now had been an adult, even back when he was at the bandit nest.
At age four, he had been thrown into a house filled with mad hounds.
Age five, he had faced off against a one-year-old wolfling with his bare hands.
Six, he had been taken away by town officials, hanged by his feet on a tree, and then whipped until he was left an inch away from his dying breath.
Seven, he had singlehandedly poisoned a traitor of the Guiyan Valley who had wanted to take him as a hostage to threaten his uncles.
Eight, nine, and ten, cruel and gruesome horrors beyond imagination had been expected of him.
Every one of his nine uncles had been good to him. But they were not good people.
Fang Xing believed that the murder of his nine uncles had been righteous. Even if he himself were to be killed, there would not be any injustice done;he was not any better than his uncles as a person.
Regardless of his uncles' actions, they had made sure he had enough food and a shelter to sleep in ever since they had found him as a baby. To Fang Xing as long as he was alive he would grow and avenge them.