What Hei had just kicked open were tall, sturdy looking double doors, and he expected them to be quite heavy.
Unexpectedly, they opened quite easily
‘Ugh, that wasn’t… Ah, let’s just go with it.’
As the doors opened, Hei saw a familiar group of five children, seemingly sparring.
‘Eh? Wasn’t it supposed to be the sisters? Why are the other three here?’
Hei was momentarily confused. What exactly was going on here?
‘Was this to lure me out? But why did they have to go after Little Bai?’
The five seemed to be surprised by the loud sound of the doors crashing against the walls.
They all jumped a little and turned to look over.
“Hehe, so the trash decided to show up.”
“We told you you’d regret messing with us.”
“That’s right! We’re going to teach you a lesson.”
“We’ll show you what happens when a weakling shoots his mouth off.”
Four of the five had confrontational expressions and the other remained silent.
‘Ugh, this again?’
Hei had thought this was over. He didn’t expect them to have been silent all this time, just to mount a sneak attack.
“Cut the nonsense! Just give Little Bai’s doll back.”
Hei decided to just get this over with. What could they realistically do?
“It seems you don’t understand your situation. Tell him, First Brother.”
A girl said this with her hand placed before her mouth. She was laughing.
Hei knew some information about this girl, from Tianlan.
She was Wu Hua, the second child of Li Chyou, the first wife. The ‘First Brother’ she referred to was her elder brother Wu Jian. The both of them had tri-element spirit roots, so their talent wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything special either.
“Mm. This is a trap! You fell right into our hands.”
“That’s right! And this time you don’t have your trash of a brother, Tianlan to hide behind.”
This was the fourth child, Wu Lin. He was the second child of the second wife, Tang Jiao. He had dual element spirit roots, so his talent was above those of Li Chyou’s children but he was still behind his sister, Wu Lixue.
“Mm, today you shall regret messing with us!”
This was Wu Lixue speaking. She also had dual element spirit roots, but her ability to brand Natural Qi surpassed her younger brother.
At one point, she was the most talented of the children and had run rampant in the Wu Clan. No one said anything, because she was the most talented.
She and her brother would often cause a lot of trouble as the two most talented juniors.
That was until Wu Ning had his talent measurement. He was found to be the first in Wu Clan history to possess single element spirit roots.
This put a major damper on Wu Lixue’s ability to act as she pleased, which left her resentful towards him, but there was nothing major she could do. He was, after all, the most talented and the clan would side with him hands down, no matter what kind of issue came up.
All she could do was to make snide remarks about how he didn’t have any ambition.
She was right. In the eyes of others, Wu Ning didn’t seem to be ambitious. He never caused trouble and always focused on his martial arts. In fact, the reason he was here was that his mother had told him to play with his siblings, otherwise he would still be practising even now.
No one knew exactly why he was like this.
“Sigh. Just give the doll back. I don’t want to play your silly games.”
Hei had had about enough of this farce.
“Krch. This is the Wu Clan! Strength is the only thing that speaks here! If you want it back then take it!”
Wu Lixue shouted out. She had the doll in her hand.
Hei let out a sigh before stepping forward.
“Hmph. One more step and I’ll beat you into the ground!”
Wu Jian stepped forward from the group. He had a mocking smile on his face as if everything was in his hands.
“… So you want to beat me up?”
Hei had now realised what this was. He actually wanted to know what this Wu Clan would let them get away with. Surely not too much right? After all, they were still half-siblings.
“Hehe. That’s right. We came to test our martial arts on you, knowing that you’re such an expert with words.”
Wu Hua also stepped forward cracking her fists.
“… Let me ask you.”
Hei began his psychological warfare here. He had a plan in place to prevent further occurrences like this. He stood with his hands placed behind his back, his back straight, and his head slightly raised, looking to the ceiling as he said this.
Hei was trying to use the pose of an expert he had read about in some of the web novels he had read.
“Heh. Are you trying to beg for forgiveness? It’s too late!”
Wu Lixue said as she was laughing.
“We shall teach you a good lesson today.”
Wu Lin followed up.
Four of them started laughing mockingly.
Hei waited for them to stop before turning his gaze to them.
He said in a relaxed voice:
“Do I look scared?”
‘First step complete.’
“Bluffing will get you nowhere!”
Wu Jian ran forward and immediately launched a fist at Hei.
‘Eh? What’s this?’
Hei was surprised at what he saw. It looked like Wu Jian was just messing around.
‘Is this that play fighting I heard about?’
Hei remembered back in his school days, the boys would play fight in slow motion.
‘If that’s the case.’
Hei decided to play along.
He slowly raised his hand until it intercepted Wu Jian’s fist.
“Mm. Your fist is mighty, but it is nothing in the face of my palm. Hehe.”
Hei decided to play the role of an old master teaching his students. He started stroking an imaginary beard.
While Hei was enjoying himself, his half-siblings were shocked.
“This trash blocked First Brother’s fist? How is this possible?”
Wu Hua was the most shocked of the four observers. She knew that her and her brother’s talents weren’t the best in the clan, but her brother had already been cultivating for over a year. He should easily be able to defeat this trash. Heck! He would even be able to give Wu Ning a run for his money.
“Stop playing around, First Brother.”
Wu Lixue thought Wu Jian was just playing. She didn’t once have the thought that Hei actually blocked the fist.
The other two had similar reactions. The one who was different was Wu Ning. He seemed to be intrigued by what he saw.
Needless to say, the most shocked of all was Wu Jian himself. He looked at the calm face of Hei, who had just casually blocked his fist.
“You were lucky.”
Wu Jian jumped back and launched another attack. He dropped down low and rotated his body. Using his hands which he had placed on the floor as support and to increase the force, he launched a sweeping kick at Hei’s legs.
‘A sweeping kick.’
Hei appreciated the seriousness in which Wu Jian was engaging his role. To add all of these extra factors to his sweeping kick, just to enrich the playing experience was quite commendable.
As the slow-motion kick approached, Hei lifted his left leg over it, then he lifted his right leg over it, returning to his original position.
“Eh? He missed?”
“No, that should have hit! What happened?”
The half-siblings were shocked once more. They couldn’t even see Hei move. It looked like Wu Jian’s leg just passed through.
“Is this some strange ability of the Innate Shadow Physique?”
“Nobody ever mentioned this! Surround him!”
They all surrounded Hei, even Wu Ning seemed to be interested in participating, as he also joined the encirclement.
‘Ah, this is just like those martial arts movies. Even though everyone jumps in a circle, for some reason they attack one at a time.’
Hei remembered something he saw way back when and was surprised that a similar thing was common in this world.
He rolled up his sleeves one at a time and gestured with his hands.
Hei was getting sucked into the atmosphere.
“Bring this trash to the ground!”
Enraged, four of the siblings launched simultaneous attacks.
Hei didn’t know this because they made almost no sound and he had no extrasensory abilities.
He just looked at Wu Lixue who had launched an attack from his front.
She had launched a palm attach which Hei met with his own palm.
Hei was about to turn to face the next attacker when he felt an impact on the back of his head.
He was knocked off his balance and pushed forward.
‘Ah! The heck was that? Who launched a serious attack?’
Hei was shocked. What was the meaning of this? Weren’t they play fighting? How did it turn into this?
But Hei didn’t have too much time to think, he was falling to the ground.
He quickly placed his right foot forward to stabilise himself, but before he could say anything, he felt another heavy impact at his side.
He was again knocked off balance and was in intense pain.
‘Wait a minute! What… What’s happening?’
At this moment, Hei realised it was no longer a game. He had to get back to his original plan.
‘Oh? In that case.’
Hei adjusted himself to regain his balance again but once again, he was struck a mighty blow to his back.
His knees gave way a little, which made him almost fall to the ground.
He found himself unable to properly adjust his focus. Always trying to regain his balance, before being stuck again. He was having a hard enough time trying not to fall, which would reduce the effectiveness of his psychological warfare.
“Hehe, it looks like the trash got lucky.”
“Ha! Let’s see you spout your nonsense now!”
The four were enjoying taking out their aggressions on Hei, but the fifth, Wu Ning seemed disappointed. All of his attacks barely did any damage, he seemed to be using some kind of martial art to make it look like there was a heavy impact, when in fact, it was just a push.
Hei noticed this and was slightly intrigued in why he was doing this but he didn’t have enough time to think.
He was being thrown around like a rag doll, barely able to stand.
Hei felt another heavy impact on the top of his head. This one pulsed through his whole body. His vision was fading and he was about to lose consciousness when he felt a tingling sensation.
If he were to describe it, he would say it felt like the static electricity that would come from a balloon.
He took this opportunity to set up the second step of his plan.
“Me? Kneel? With just the likes of you?”
He had to plant this seed if he was to maximise the effect.
After hearing this, the attacks became more furious.
Hei didn’t have enough time to think any more. He was preoccupied with staying on his feet.
This beating went on for at least two minutes when Hei noticed something.
“Why won’t he fall?”
“He is too stubborn!”
“Let’s use our martial techniques.”
There was a slight pause in the barrage of attacks.
Hei straightened himself with difficulty.
After suffering this beating for so long, his body was heavily injured. He was bleeding from his mouth and nose, and his clothes were in tatters.
“Don’t take another step!”
Hei shouted out.
“Why would we listen to that nonsense?”
“That’s right. If I don’t bring this trash to the ground, my name is not Wu Jian!”
Wu Lixue and Wu Jian responded to Hei’s shout.
Hei ignored them and spoke again.
“Your intentions are already known. If you move now, you will only make things worse.”
“This is the Wu Clan. Trash like you can’t make anything difficult for us. Attack!”
The five went back into action.
Having achieved his goal, Hei prepared himself for more battering.
He noticed that after a while, the attacks became less painful and the tingling sensation became stronger.
But it was still painful, he would rather not be pummeled, but it was all for the sake of the plan.
He knew that if he fell to the ground, he would be letting these half-siblings of his feel they had achieved something.
As it was now, they were frustrated at being unable to bring him to the ground.
Hei felt a sharp pain in his abdomen after this shout.
‘Eh? Do they call out the names of their attacks in this world? I never understood that.’
This attack caused Hei to hunch over and cough a mouthful of blood.
‘That’s not good.’
Hei was feeling panicked, but the tingling sensation made him feel as if everything would turn out OK, so he continued on with his plan.
The siblings launched various attacks that wreaked havoc on Hei’s body.
His clothes were getting drenched in blood.
The four were now tired, and Hei was a complete mess. His clothing from the waist up was almost completely gone.
“How is he still standing?”
“Is this the Innate Shadow Physique?”
Jian, Lixue, Hua and Lin were all gasping for breath. Wu Ning was looking at Hei with a frown on his face.
‘Second step complete.’
Hei had found the opening he was waiting for. The moment when they started doubting if this was all worth it.
“Have you had your fun?”
Hei said this in a calm voice.
“This… This isn’t over!”
“That’s right. We’ll teach you a lesson today!”
Hei was pleased with the reactions. There was a good amount of doubt, but they still had the intention they came with. This was the opportune moment to shatter their confidence.
Hei placed his hands behind his back, stood straight and proud and raised his head slightly, looking to the ceiling.
“Let me ask you…”
Hei waited for a while, and after hearing no response he lowered his head. And as he did, he was trying to make the world lower with it. He was trying to mimic his father’s aura to create a mental pressure on these half-siblings of his.
He said with a calm voice:
“Do I look scared?”
‘Final step complete.’
Seeing his half-siblings unable to respond, Hei knew that his plan had succeeded. These five would probably not try this again, after all, there was nothing to gain.
“This… There is no use in wasting time on this trash.”
“Right. It would be better spent cultivating.”
After these two spoke, the four turned to leave. There were two entrances to this room, Hei had come through one, and the half-siblings were leaving through the other.
Wu Ning looked at Hei for a moment before also turning.
“I found this martial arts technique in the cultivation hall, I wonder if Brother Ning is willing to help me practice.”
“That’s right, with Brother Ning’s talent it will go much faster.”
Seeing them leave just like that, Hei realised he was forgetting something.
Unknowingly, Lixue had developed a small amount of fear towards Hei.
“Give it back.”
Hei calmly said.
Lixue still had the doll. What would be the use of all his struggle if she just walked away with it?
Looking into Hei’s eyes that did not allow disagreement, Wu Lixue dropped the doll before hurrying out.
After the five had left, Hei went over to pick up the doll.
As he reached his hand out toward it, he realised that it was bloody.
‘Ah! What am I supposed to do now?’
After all of his effort, he had retrieved the doll, but he couldn’t even take it back to his little sister.
Hei remembered something. He turned towards the entrance he had come from and said:
“You can come out now.”
After saying this, Hei saw a woman enter the room, The doors were still open from when he had kicked them open.
“So you really were talking to me.”
It was Tang Jiao, the second wife, and the mother of Lixue and Lin.
“Yes. I saw you trying to step in, and your gesture is appreciated, but you would have messed up my plans.”
“… What plans?”
Tang Jiao was confused. She hadn’t seen much, but by looking at Hei, she could guess what happened. What kind of plans were those?
“If you had stepped in, they would have said I was lucky that you came by. They would then do something similar in the future. By resisting them on my own, I have shown them that their efforts were in vain. In fact, I was the one who achieved victory because I was able to complete my goal.”
Tang Jiao was surprised to hear this kind of reasoning from a small child.
“Mm. Now, even if they gain more strength, there will be something at the back of their minds which tells them that it wouldn’t be worth it to pick on me.”
“You thought of all this?”
“Mm. Now, since you’re here you might as well lend me a hand. Pick up this doll for me.”
“This… Shouldn’t you be more respectful? I’m your second aunt.”
“Respectful? Did we not see your children among the aggressors? Why should there be respect? Obviously, there was a problem in their upbringing. Which means it’s your fault that this situation came about. Should I now say ‘Thank you for raising such awful children’?”
“You what? Just pick up the doll. There’s no need for your nonsense.”
“Your mother must be proud to have such an… intelligent child.”
While grumbling, Tang Jiao went to pick the doll up from the ground.
Seeing that she actually picked up the doll, Hei was a little surprised. He decided to ignore the comment.
“Mm. Again, there’s no need for your nonsense. If you would, follow me. I have something to say to you.”
Hei started walking and Tang Jiao followed soon after.
The two walked in silence until they reached a water tap.
Hei went up to it and turned it on.
He spent a while removing the blood from his hands and upper body, but he was still bleeding in several places.
How that he was out of the tense situation he could feel that tingling sensation reducing the pain he felt.
After completing his task, Hei turned to Tang Jiao.
“Mm. Now that that’s done, you can follow me again.”
This time, Hei headed back to Xiulan’s room.
As he was walking, he was drying himself with his hands and the wind, there was little he could do about the open wounds right now, so he decided to ignore them.
After a while, Tang Jiao couldn’t stay silent anymore.
“What was it that you wanted to tell me?”
Hei turned around surprised. Did he have something to say? Wasnt he just using her as a doll carrier?
“Ah! That’s right. I wanted to give you a little warning.”
Tang Jiao frowned. He had her follow him around just to threaten her?
Hei had just finished drying his hands.
He reached for the doll, which Tang Jiao relinquished. He then turned and walked while saying:
“It’s for those awful kids of yours and the other aunts.”
Tang Jiao couldn’t help but be angry when her children were insulted.
“Tell them this.”
Hei turned around.
“I’ll forgive you this time and I don’t particularly care what you try to do to me…”
Hei narrowed his eyes, trying to mimic his father.
“But if you make Little Bai cry again…”
Hei raised his head slightly, matching his father.
“Don’t blame me for being ruthless.”
He tried to make the atmosphere as heavy as possible.
‘Ugh. No effect? Sigh. Looks like I need to practice more.’
Hei had expected to see some reaction, but Tang Jiao was looking at him calmly and unfazed.
Hei then tilted his head and gave an innocent smile.
“Then see you later, Tang Jiao.”
Hei turned around and joyfully skipped away.
He was quite pleased that he was able to get the doll back. He was seriously wondering what he would do if Wu Lixue didn’t let it go.
As Hei turned the corner, Tang Jiao took a few steps back with a pale face and fear in her eyes.
“W-W… What was that?”
Having returned back to Xiulan’s room, Hei opened the door and exclaimed:
“Good news Little Bai, your brother got your precious doll back.”
He had a beaming smile on his face and awaited a round of applause.
But what he got instead rained on his parade a little.
“B-Brother, what happened to you? You’re bleeding.”
“Little Hei, what is this?”
Both Bai and Xiulan jumped in surprise.
“Uh, this? Don’t worry about it. The more important thing is I got the doll back. Look!”
Hei pulled the doll from behind his back and handed it to Bai.
“What are you talking about, Brother? How can the doll be more important than you? Why did you let yourself get so hurt over this?”
Bai took the doll, but her concern was still on Hei.
“Was it those little brats? They need to be taught a thorough lesson.”
This was the first time Hei had seen Xiulan angry. It touched his heart. Even when she was going through things herself, she was never too concerned, but when it came to her child, she was the first to seek justice.
“Ah! Don’t worry about it Mumu. My healing ability is working. I’ll be better in no time. See?”
Hei raised his arm that was bruised all over. It was healing at a visible rate.
“This… Still, they were too vicious. We can’t let this go.”
“That’s right, Brother. We can’t let this go.”
Hei was happy to be so cared for, but he had to bring reality to them.
“Um… We’re in the Wu Clan. This only happened because no one will say anything, even if we were to complain.”
Both women were unable to respond. They also knew the reality, but they couldn’t help getting angry seeing Hei hurt this way.
Just as Hei had calmed the two women down, the door was opened and Tianlan rushed in.
“Brother Hei, I heard you were injured.”
Tianlan had just entered when he saw what kind of state Hei was in.
His eyes widened as he grew angry.
“Who did this to you? Was it those five? They won’t get away with this.”
Tianlan immediately turned to leave.
“Hey, there’s no need to rush out. I already handled the situation.”
Tianlan was surprised. What kind of handling was this?
“Mm. They probably won’t be messing with us anymore. Besides, it doesn’t hurt that bad. See? My healing ability is pretty good.”
Hei raised the same arm, which was now almost back to normal.
Tianlan activated his eyes and observed Hei’s body.
“Hey! You should warn someone before you activate your creepy eyes.”
“Heh, maybe we should thank those five for helping to fix your face.”
“But… Brother Hei. You said your healing ability is working?”
Hei was confused by Tianlan’s words.
“But I don’t see anything different about your body. The energy is moving the same way as always.”
“Mm. Now that you mention it, This is different from the time I slapped myself. This isnt the warm flow, it’s something else.”
Now that Tianlan had brought it up, Hei had been thinking that this was his first time feeling this sensation. He had forgotten about the test he did a few years ago.
Tianlan’s eyes widened.
Hei was on the same page.
“What is it?”
Seeing her two brothers in on something she was unaware of, Bai jumped in.
“This… I think Hei is cultivating.”
“Mm. That seems to be what it is.”
All three of them were in disbelief.
“But you said Brother Hei has no spirit roots.”
“It’s true. He doesn’t.”
“Then… doesn’t that mean…”
Bai’s words were cut off by knocking at the door.
“Eh? Is it the maid?”
Hei went over to open the door.
Standing on the other side was none other than Wu Ning.
“Uh… I brought this healing medicine for… your… injuries?”
Wu Ning’s words trailed off at the end. He gave Hei a strange look before Tianlan spoke up.
“You dare to show your face here?”
Tianlan was about to attack, but Hei interrupted him.
“Calm down Brother. This one didn’t really do anything. He was just there.”
Tianlan returned to his calm. He observed Wu Ning, not letting a single movement escape his notice.
“Your sentiments are appreciated, but as you can see, that won’t be necessary.”
Hei pointed to his face, which besides a little blood, was back to normal.
“The Innate Shadow Physique really is mysterious.”
Wu Ning could only say this in response.
“Uh… yeah… So, I’m curious. Why didn’t you attack seriously?”
Wu Ning took a quick glance at Tianlan before clutching the hem of his robe.
“I didn’t want to. My mother told me to stay with the others.”
Hei now understood. As a son, he also knew what it meant to feel obligated to listen to your parent’s even if it went against your will. It was just fortunate for him that his mother never forced anything on him.
Hei also noticed the look Wu Ning gave Tianlan. He was interested so he exited the room and closed the door.
“Hey. What’s up between you and Tianlan?”
Hei spoke in a quiet voice.
Wu Ning seemed to be hesitant.
“Hey, no need to hide it. Just tell me.”
Hei was waiting for some juicy, world-shaking news.
“Actually… A few years ago, I saw big brother Tianlan training in his martial arts. I was curious about why he would continue training when he had no spirit roots. Do you know what he said when I asked him?”
Hei didn’t expect it to be this kind of thing. He thought it would have been something like; ‘What? The Wu Clan’s young genius has been a girl this whole time?’ He was even holding out for; ‘This whole time the great genius of the younger generation has had a forbidden love for the clan’s trash.’ But alas, it was some boring inspirational story.
“Even the least talented can become the world’s strongest!”
Where had he heard that before? Hei was trying to put his finger on it when Wu Ning spoke.
“Mm. Since that day, I have focused hard on my martial arts training.”
“I see. So Tianlan is a respectable person then?”
Hei was no longer interested in this. Why should he care that Tianlan had a fanboy?
“Then… You can go now. Go… Practice your martial arts or whatever.”
Wu Ning gave Hei a strange look before leaving.
Hei sighed before re-entering the room.
“What did you talk about?”
Tianlan asked. To which Hei replied lazily:
“He really likes martial arts. You two would get along well.”
After a short while, Hei resumed their previous topic.
“It means that spirit roots aren’t the only way.”
“Right! That means there is hope for brother Tianlan.”
“Mm. But if I am cultivating right now, that means I have been cultivating for five years.”
“Right. I wonder what your strength is.”
Hearing the two discussing this, Tianlan spoke up.
“There are actually strength measuring pillars in the clan.”
“Oh? Let’s take a look.”
Hei was intrigued. He had read about similar things in some of the web novels.
He went to the bathroom to take a quick shower, before putting on a fresh set of clothes.
As everyone was making their way out, Bai realised that she was forgetting something.
“What is it, Little Bai?”
Hei turned to Bai, who was grabbing his robe.
Bai came up to Hei and hugged him.
“Thank you for getting my doll back.”
Bai said with an innocent smile.
Hei’s hand somehow ended up on top of Bai’s head.
“Of course. This brother of yours will protect you from all of the evils of the world.”
He said this while stroking her head.
“Alright, let’s go to the pillars.”
Tianlan said as he led the way.
As the four were walking together there were a few odd looks and hushed conversations, but they didn’t care in the slightest.
As they reached their destination, Tianlan spoke up.
“It seems like it’s empty. How convenient.”
They had the whole place to themselves. This wasn’t anything strange. Usually, there would only be one or two people here to test their strength after having made some progress.
What they entered was a large enclosed space with pillars neatly arranged throughout.
The pillars were arranged in a four-by-five grid for a total of twenty pillars.
“These are the strength measuring pillars?”
Hei asked as he looked at the seemingly ordinary pillars.
“Yes. When force is applied to them, they display the value in jin.”
“So what values are significant?”
“Hm. Those who have not yet broken into the body refining realm, which is the first cultivation realm, usually have below 500 jin of strength. This is also the rough value of those who have just broken into the body refining realm.”
“Mm, so your strength is below 500 jin?”
“That’s right. Those five should all have strength between 500 jin and 1000 jin. That would be the three stages of bone forging.”
“Mm. The body refining realm is split into three groups of three layers. The first group are known as bone forging, the second group are known as viscera forging, and the third group muscle forging.”
“Bone then viscera then muscle? Shouldn’t it be muscle first? Isn’t that the easiest to train?”
Hei was surprised at the order. Surely muscle training is easier than reforging bones.
“That is correct if you aren’t a cultivator.”
“It is first bone forging because the bones produce the blood. It is then viscera because the heart pumps the blood, lastly, it is the muscles because they use the blood. If the muscles were to be trained first, the blood would be unable to power them and the heart and veins would be unable to handle the stress of the demand.”
Hearing it that way, it made sense. Cultivators made use of Natural Qi in their training, who knew what kinds of additional demands it would create if it were done in the wrong order.
“So for each of those stages, what is the corresponding strength value?”
Bai jumped in. She was interested to know.
“For bone forging, it ranges from 500 jin to 1,000 jin. For viscera forging it ranges from 1,000 jin to 1,500 jin and for muscle forging it ranges from 1,500 jin to 2,000 jin. Then if one were to break into the externalisation realm the value jumps to 5,000 jin and we see growth similar to the body refining realm.”
“Mm. So what is the maximum value these pillars can display?”
“That would be around 5,000 jin. After reaching that level, clan members would go to a different area where they have higher quality pillars that can display up to 50,000 jin, which is roughly where an internalisation expert is at. But things vary more and more as you go up depending on the focus the cultivator takes.”
“So, what’s your strength, Tianlan?”
Hei wanted to know.
“Let me demonstrate.”
Tianlan stepped forward and dropped into a horse stance. He then took a deep breath before striking the pillar.
There was a muffled striking sound.
After a moment, numbers appeared on the pillar.
“350 jin. Not bad. It has increased from the last time.”
Tianlan seemed to be satisfied with his results.
“How about you Mumu? What’s your strength?”
Hei was curious to know.
“Hm. If I remember correctly, it should be around 80 jin.”
Xiulan responded after a little thought.
“Mm. You only need as much strength as is required to lift a sack of flour. Any more is unnecessary.”
There was a short moment of silence.
“Moving on… I guess it’s my turn.”
Hei stepped toward the stone pillar.
“Mm. I’ve heard that cultivators have access to about 20% of their strength when they aren’t utilising Qi, so… whatever…”
Tianlan’s words were cut off by a loud sound.
Everyone was amazed by the value displayed by the pillar.
“900 jin! 900 jin, and that’s without utilising Qi.”
Tianlan was shocked, Xiulan was delighted and Bai stared with bright eyes.
“Cough. Well, you have been cultivating for five years. But this is only 20% of your strength. You have clearly surpassed body refinement and entered…”
Tianlan’s words were cut off by Hei.
“No, I just lightly tapped it to see how low it could go. I wanted to see if it only displayed in tens because 350 was an interesting number right? Why not 349 or 351?”
“How low? Lightly tapped? This…”
Tianlan was lost for words.
“Mm. If I were to punch it for real…”
Hei turned around and punched the pillar with all of his might.
A cloud of dust suddenly appeared.
Hei was stunned.
After the cloud of dust settled, the scene was made clear to everyone.
Everything looked the same as it had before. It was just that… One of the pillars was missing…
“Y-Y-You broke the pillar? What kind of nonsense is this?”
Tianlan was shocked. So were Bai and Xiulan.
“Yeah… Not the best time for questions. I think we should head back right about now.”
Hei said this as he was already running.
‘Low key darn it! I need to be more low key.’
Xiulan picked up Bai and followed. Tinlan ran after them.
A while later, one of the clan juniors entered. He was tasked with maintaining the pillar room today.
When he saw what happened he felt wronged.
“Sigh. Which Elder came to play around?”
Back in Xiulan’s room.
Tianlan broke the ice.
This was all Hei could say.
“This… Are we going to discuss what just happened?”
Bai decided to start the conversation.
“Um… So it looks like I’ve been cultivating non-stop for the last five years. What kind of realm would people reach in that time, Brother?”
“Well, a talented person could reach the peak of the externalisation realm. The problem is, there is a tribulation between body refining and externalization. You haven’t been through such a thing have you?”
“Yes. Apparently, it quenches the body to prepare it for communication with Natural Qi which is mostly utilised to sense one’s surroundings.”
“I see, Nothing like that happened as far as I’m aware.”
“But your strength, its way too exaggerated. I was watching, and you didn’t use any Qi in that punch, so it should have only been about 20% of your strength, yet you broke the pillar, meaning your full strength is at least 25,000 jin.”
“So the externalisation realm you mentioned?”
“Maybe, maybe not. As I explained before, there can be a large variance between different cultivators. Someone who focuses on physique cultivation can easily jump realms when it comes to striking force, but that isn’t the only factor that determines one’s strength. For example, all five of our half-siblings have more striking force than I do, but with my years of training, my ability to utilise my strength is better than theirs. It doesn’t matter how strong they are if they can’t hit me.”
“I see. So this pillar method isn’t very accurate.”
“Mm. The only thing is, you haven’t used any physique cultivation method, nor have you consumed cultivation resources. This means all of your strength is coming from the reinforcement of Natural Qi.”
“Mm. I suppose it is my high affinity with the energy source of the world. Somehow that has translated into passive cultivation.”
After Hei said this, Tianlan activated his eyes.
‘Ugh. Seriously, some warning would be nice.’
“Hm. From what I’m seeing here, even without spirit roots, your body is somehow branding the Natural Qi. I wonder how it’s possible.”
Tianlan was stumped. Even though he could see it, it didn’t mean he could understand it.
“It’s probably Brother’s spirit that is doing the conversion on its own.”
Seeing the conversation come to halt, Bai inserted her thoughts.
“Eh? His spirit…”
“Eh? Little Bai…You…”
After turning to Bai, both boys were shocked by what they saw.
Bai was confused.
“You… Your hair. It turned white!”
Tianlan pointed a shaky finger at Bai while saying this.