42 Full Confidence

"It doesn't bring such a pleasant feeling to loot and cause chaos and not leave your name behind," commented Alm after feeling that the Earth runes exploded perfectly.

"He's an idiot, but he seems to be relatively known within the sect. He must have many lifelines stored. It wouldn't be a surprise if he survives this point-blank detonation," Bruno replied as they moved cautiously within the forest. "If he's certain it was us, it won't just be him wanting to kill us, but a sect advisor. We'll have other opportunities in the future."

It was almost noon when they reached a safe area of the forest. Ruri had stayed inside the cave, recovering. They had left several preventive defensive barriers, but she was already strong enough to survive in that region, even if with difficulties.

Arriving at the cave, they noticed the entrance was open, and Ruri wasn't inside. They sensed everything in there and found no traces of battle. In the next minute, they heard a dragging sound of dirt nearby. Looking in the direction of the sound, they saw the small girl with stained clothes struggling to pull the body of a much larger divine beast.

Her Qi was being skillfully used to lighten the weight of the beast. When she felt their gaze from a distance, she lifted her eyes with a wide and sweet smile. "You must be hungry. I've already hunted some of them, so I'll start preparing."

Bruno and Alm felt the suppressed hunger explode. Then Bruno noticed the emotions floating in Alm's mind and said, 'We didn't leave any messages, but she didn't falter or feel fear, great.' Bruno commented casually, 'But the main thing is that she no longer feels any fear and seems to trust us a little more now. I can see there are still doubts in her mind due to the past Denil, but it is changing.'

'That's good; now she can start the plan. We'll be leaving shortly, and she'll be able to live on her own.' Alm replied, trying to appear indifferent.

***

During the night, a dark cave trembled briefly as if a seismic shake had occurred for half a second.

Inside the cave, the huge, round body was completely drenched in sweat, emitting a thin brown aura with a dense layer of Qi around it that resembled a flickering flame.

"Congratulations, sir," Ruri spoke, using a damp cloth to wipe the sweat from their faces.

Alm clenched his fists tightly, feeling the pulsating power. 'Supreme Physical Cultivation Technique: FiendGod's Hegemony. We finally initiated this body cultivation technique... but the cost was several times higher than expected.'

'We only reached complete 'Strength Training.' There are still two more to complete level one,' Bruno commented somewhat anxiously. 'But the cost of this small step was equivalent to three levels of the Qi Gathering Realm. It's hard to even imagine the resources we'll need in the future.' (Author's note: For those who don't remember, the first level of the body cultivation technique has three stages. Strength Training is the first, while Flesh Training is the second. The third level is Viscera Training. Check chapter 19 if you wish for more details.)

Alm looked at a large pile of spirit crystals without Qi in a corner and sighed. 'We used all the spirit crystals we had and even used all the thunder power contained in the Radiant Thundergrass, just for this step. But I feel like the thunder power was the key to our achievement; without it, we would have had to quintuple the number of crystals for such a step.'

'Indeed, maybe it will be useful to train these laws in the future. It can help with physical cultivation. Well, we still have the plants; let's use everything and ascend a few realms. We're doing quite well; looting has always been our specialty... but let's try to take a cleaner path in the future,' said Bruno, feeling his now refined and powerful muscles.

Alm chuckled lightly as he spoke. 'A clean path? If more idiots come knocking at our door, we'll take their offer. Too bad we couldn't get in touch with the elders who went on another search mission; an opportunity could always present itself.'

A few minutes later, when Ruri stepped back after cleaning them up a bit, Alm promptly looked at her, and a colorful light shone in his hand before handing her a plant. "This plant has a strong affinity with the soul. Try absorbing all its Qi. I've removed the impurities. Go ahead."

'You're giving away what's ours to her? What happened to you...' Bruno commented in a mocking tone.

'Shut up. This might help her reach the second or even the third level. It will make it easier for her to fulfill the mission,' he replied curtly.

Bruno chuckled inwardly, and after teasing a bit more, they turned to absorb all the plants they had plundered from the ant colony. Selling or transforming these plants into pills would probably be much more efficient since the Qi in them was very pure, although it didn't reach a terrifying density or quantity.

However, trying to sell them would create a trail that could be traced by sect members, so that was out of the question. Alchemy was never an area they cared to study. But now, with the system, several doors had opened, and Alm and Bruno pondered the future for a moment.

When they accepted the rewards, everything related to techniques or cultivation, down to the smallest details, was injected directly into their souls. It was as if they had spent hundreds or thousands of years studying it, being able to teach and answer any complex questions on the subject.

Of course, theory and practice were entirely different things. In the case of the soul technique they gained, they knew all its capabilities and uses. But putting that into practice would require a lot of effort and practice time.

Upon further reflection, they realized that exchanging points for a complete Dao of Alchemy, or even the Dao of Forging that had appeared as an option earlier, would be extremely beneficial, especially when combined with their vast knowledge. Even though the laws of this universe are several times more complex and distinct from those in their original universe, their countless experiences over thousands of years give them a unique insight.

It's possible that even knowledge from Earth could prove useful. There are numerous possibilities to explore, but that will be considered in future junctures. Now, the priority is to elevate themselves as much as possible.

That same night, they advanced to the fourth level of the Qi Gathering Realm, a threshold they had been on the verge of reaching for some time. After three intense days, during which they only stopped to eat the food hunted and prepared by Ruri's own hands, they advanced again to the fifth level.

Two days later, Ruri was ecstatic, almost jumping for joy, as she reached the third level of the Qi Gathering Realm. 'This should be the current limit for her small body; maybe, in a year or two, she can further develop.' Commented Alm, who pretended not to be as happy as she was.

Four days after that, they completed fifteen days outside the clan. That morning, Alm and Bruno consumed all the plants, and an intense wave of Qi stirred several trees around them.

They had reached the seventh level of the Qi Gathering Realm, officially marking their position before returning to the clan.

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