After Tang San and Xiao Wu left, the air in room seven became stagnant, everyone earnestly focused on cultivating. Zhi Xing in particular was sweating slightly while executing her yoga poses in tandem with her refined cultivation technique.
'I'm no where close to rank 8 but I've almost unlocked my root chakra, I don't know if it has to do with the progress I made in my last life or if the fundamental rules in this new world allow such rapid advancement but I ain't complaining'
A few of the students that had taken breaks to relax in bed were confused by the strange rhythm and movement of her body. Moving while cultivating was an impossible feat for almost everyone in the academy so those few onlookers could only think she was stretching before going to bed.
'I wonder if she took Tang San to spar? Maybe I should've left with them?' Brows furrowed slightly as she leaned forward to complete the motion of threading the needle.
'Nah I should probably focus on my spirit power, it might not be the deciding factor in every fight but being a higher rank than my opponent could never hurt my chances of victory or escape.' She concluded before letting out a long exhale, letting her spirit power wash over her lungs to relax them and completing a second circulation.
As her body heat slowly increased due to the rapid rotation of spirit power Xing immersed herself in the usual small amounts of energy flowing into her through the atmosphere. The inconvientent discharge of spirit power from her cultivation sessions could only be sustained due to the oncoming resources from Shí allowing her body to better soak in and retain the flow of spirit power an she molded it, steadily increasing her control and cultivation rank.
'Shí should be gorging herself somewhere, hopefully I don't get in trouble for whatever gets eaten' a bead of sweat fell on her sheets before Xing decided to continue on the floor for the next hour or so to avoid dirtying her new bed.
Eventually she got tired of concentrating and crawled back into bed before falling asleep but not before noticing the return of her two exhausted neighbors.
Early in the morning, when the vast majority of Nuoding Academy's teachers and student body were still asleep a group of three was making their way through the front gate.
"Teacher, where will we go to find spirit beasts?"
These people departing from the academy, were natrually Grandmaster, Zhi Xing and Tang San.
"We will go four hundred li northeast of Nuoding city to the nearest Spirit Hunting Forest. It's where the empire holds spirit beasts captive. We will certainly find something that suits you there."
Grandmaster wore tough clothing, seemingly increasing his aura as an experienced spirit master somewhat, it was only that stiff face that gave people a kind of discordant feeling.
Xing's eye twitched a little at the notion before sighing unsurprised. "Even spirit beasts can be kept as live stock. Care to expand on that Master?"
Grandmaster nodded, and said solemnly:
"High level spirit beasts naturally cannot be captured, but lower level ones can. Spirit beasts are types of animals that possess spirit power. The longer they exist, the more powerful they become. Therefore, from this point of view, based on the number of years lived we divide them into five levels. Ten year spirit beasts, hundred year spirit beasts, thousand year spirit beasts, etcetera. The scaling is just as the name implies: a spirit beast cultivating for over ten years, is a ten year spirit beast, and so on. Spirit rings are distinguished in the same way as spirit beasts. Spirit rings of different ages are very easily recognized, it can be seen from color. Of these, ten year spirit beasts' spirit rings are white, hundred year beasts' rings are yellow, thousand year spirit beasts' spirit rings are purple, ten thousand year spirit beasts' are black, and hundred thousand year spirit beasts' spirit rings are red. Those that are regularly captured by the country, eventually supplying spirit masters with spirit beasts to hunt and kill, are for the most part ten year and hundred year old spirit beasts. Few thousand year spirit beasts appear in these artificial habitats."
"Teacher, the longer the cultivation time the more powerful the spirit beast's strength, and the greater the effect of the spirit ring. In what respect does this formidability show?"
Tang San asked, intrigued by the simplicity of the system.
On Grandmaster's stiff face appeared a touch of his signature unsightly smiling expression.
"This line of questioning is very good. The spirit rings produced by spirit beasts of different levels are differentiated by what attribute it adds as well as the capacity neccessary to master the granted ability. For example, if using a quantitative perspective, then with your blue silver grass spirit on the control system tool spirit master route, if you obtained a compatible attributed ten year spirit ring, then your blue silver grass' control nature could be increased by a factor of ten. But if it was a hundred year spirit ring, then your blue silver grass' control nature would be increased by a hundred and so on. Consequently, this means whenever possible, spirit masters in most circumstances will pursue the enhancment of their spirit over everything else."
Tang San paused slightly, understanding more seriously why everyone in the dorms looked at Xiao Wu so gravely on the topic of spirit ring acquisition.
"Wouldn't people possessing greater personal strength be able to obtain a better spirit ring? Those young nobles could also completely rely on their clan's strength to go hunt for even more powerful spirit rings for themselves." Xing said with a thoughtful expression.
'Under such a premise would humans even really need to fear spirit beasts if they simply keep killing them and growing in strength?' She thought rather bitterly, already imagining a future where spirit beasts are extinct from excessive hunting.
In Grandmaster's eyes a fleetingly commending light was revealed.
"To think of this, proves you have carefully reflected, but the facts are not that simple. One might say, the requirements for adding a spirit ring are extremely severe."
"First of all, one must personally strike the killing blow to the spirit beast to be able to receive the spirit beast's spirit ring. Spirit rings can only exist for an extremely brief time, if not added to oneself within two hours it will disappear."
"Next, spirit beasts are extremely proud creatures, not just any spirit beast will let themselves be taken prisoner. If an opponent inflicts a severe injury with the intent to capture them, then the spirit beast can choose to detonate their spirit power and commit suicide. This hinders the circumstances you spoke of, even if inviting people to hunt and kill spirit beasts is a good option, if not killed personally, then it will remain difficult to obtain a spirit ring."
"Of course, all this is not absolute. How can humanity's wisdom be compared to spirit beasts. The best method to hunt and kill spirit beasts, is precisely to organize groups to go to spirit beasts' location, the one who strikes the last blow can then obtain the spirit ring. Therefore, what you said about nobles and some people possessing power when hunting and killing spirit beasts then indeed they have a certain advantage."
"But, these kinds of people easily obtaining spirit rings does not mean that he or she will become more powerful compared to an ordinary spirit master. They also cannot confirm whether the attribute of the spirit beast they come across is the most suitable for them. The spirit beast's level is admittedly important, but whether the attribute is compatible is also equally crucial. Even better spirit rings, unless your spirit itself is compatible, will also be unable to evolve and produce good effects, on the contrary it could adversely affect oneself. Every spirit master at different stages of cultivation possess restrictions on the spirit rings they can absorb."
"To make an example, Tang San right now is only a tenth rank spirit scholar, and with his current spirit power, at most he can absorb a hundred year spirit beast's spirit ring. If in some vain attempt he tries to absorb a thousand year spirit ring, then there is only one result: the body will be unable to endure, and is destroyed by the spirit ring's power. When absorbing the spirit ring, any outside influence is unable to help, you can only rely on yourself. Consider this, these people requiring others to help hunt and kill a spirit beast, how capable are they natrually? Perhaps absorbing a suitable ring to them is of no concern while securing the grade of the spirit ring is all they can accomplish, such a situation can only bring about a destructive outcome.
"Tang San, Zhi Xing, you must remember. This world is impartial: when wanting to obtain something, one must certainly put forth the corresponding effort. Being opportunistic is what a mediocre person does. We who study spirit theory, do so only for the sake of making this effort a bit easier for fellow spirit masters. There are many circumstances where possessing equal strength is neccessary to become more formidable. Do you understand?"
Tang San earnestly nodded.
In the first place he was not a person in the habit of being opportunistic, relying on his own strength with every step taking him closer to his objective, this type of effort was the most solid.
Grandmaster was not in any hurry to bring the two and leave the city walls, instead he was going in the direction of the inner city.
"Teacher, aren't we going outside the city walls to find a spirit ring?" Tang San asked confused Xing nodding in agreement.
Grandmaster responded flatly:
"Before going to hunt spirit beasts we must first prepare some things, and also, we cannot go on foot. A four hundred li journey while not too long, is not the best use of our time."
Following the sunlight gradually rising from the east, within Nuoding city's streets more pedestrians gradually appeared. What Grandmaster spoke of as getting ready certainly was not complicated, he bought three leather bags specially used for holding drinking water. Each bag was capable of holding as much as five litres of fresh water. He also bought some cured meat, flatbread and fruit. All in all getting three large bundles.
Speaking of these items, Tang San and Zhi Xing could still comprehend their uses, but Grandmaster still bought a unique item that neither were able to decipher the use of, and these things were also bought in the greatest quantity.
A whole twenty jin of white radish. Tang San's current assignment was to carry them. A twenty jin weight from his point of view, still did not count for anything. Of course, if it was a four hundred li journey on foot, then it was an issue.
Fortunately, after Grandmaster procured all these things, they immediately left the inner city and hired a carriage, giving the carter five silver spirit coins.
Douluo Continent's currency exchange was simple: one gold spirit coin was equivalent to ten silver spirit coins, equivalent to a hundred copper spirit coins. One gold spirit coin was enough for a family of three's regular expenses for several months. It was also equivalent to three years worth of their income from Nuoding academy student work.
Spirit Masters were said to be this continent's most privileged vocation, and income was a very significant reason. Even if one only advanced from spirit scholar to spirit master, every month they could still enjoy a one gold spirit coin stipend from Spirit Hall. This was sufficient for an ordinary person to live. Of course, only a basic life-style, desiring luxuries was still out of reach.
But as a spirit master cultivated and reached even higher levels, in particular exceeding spirit grandmaster and entering the spirit elder realm, provided they registered at spirit hall, they could be conferred the rank of nobility directly by the nation, becoming a lesser noble baron. The higher the actual strength, the higher the noble title. Regarding income naturally the boat also rose with the water.
For Tang San this was the first time travelling in a carriage, and even though it was somewhat bumpy, the new sensation still made him abundantly interested, frequently pushing aside the window curtain to look outside. Seeing a stream of people bustling with activity, as well as various sorts of shops, when it came to the outside world, in his heart he couldn't help but somewhat yearn for it. In this life especially, his fate would not be as simple as in his previous. Not knowing in what way he would later enter society. Zhi Xing had obviously experienced a car ride before and only felt the carriage lacking in speed and comfort, of the passing scenery she didn't think much only hoping to see Grandpa Jack and the others soon.
"Little San, this is for you."
Grandmaster's cool voice suddenly roused Tang San from his train of thought, just as he gazed at Grandmaster, he discovered something unknown, Grandmaster was already holding a belt in his hand. A belt with a very beautiful appearance.
The whole belt was black, and on the surface were multiple dark stripes, unless one carefully looked for them they could not be distinguished, and on the entire belt, evenly distributed were a set of twenty four pieces of milky white jade. Each piece of jade was the size of an adult person's thumbnail, and round. With gentle color and lustre, looking like the finest jade.
"Thank you Teacher."
Tang San did not stand on ceremony, holding out his hand to receive it, 'a teachers gift must not be outright refused'. In his previous life during his time in Tang Sect, the inner sect elders who received disciples would all later give a gift to them. Grandmaster giving him this belt, should also have a similar meaning.
"This belt has been with me for many years, yet it's been neglected for a large portion of that time. I hope in the future it can blossom into its proper glory in your hands."
Regarding the belt, from the start Tang San felt it was not ordinary, as if the belt had numerous faint streams of qi circulating, and these streams of qi were within this belt itself acting as a bridge, with the various jade stones serving as stores.
"Thirty years ago, when I obtained it I did not know what it was called. But through my many years of research I came to see it could be considered a first class spirit tool, functioning as a storage device. You only need to infuse it with spirit power to access it, each piece of jade is capable of providing one cubic metre of storage space. Like that you can conveniently deposit goods."
Spirit tools, to Tang San, was a brand new term. Although he still did not know exactly what the meaning of spirit tool was, Grandmaster's explanation already gave his mind deep astonishment.
Zhi Xing eyes zeroed in on the belt held in his hands, completely infatuated with the object. Although Martial Spirits, Spirit Beasts and the umbrella of cultivation that everything in-between hovered under gave her a sense of fantasy. This new concept of spirit tools rignited her desire to see technology and the creature comforts that entail blossom in this world.
'Too bad I don't know jack about mechanical engineering or computer programming.' She thought disparagingly. 'But perhaps with spirit power I can find a solution? If I can summon a bug that eats whatever it wants I should sure as hell be able to get some goddamn air conditioning. He's literally messing with sub spaces for fucks sake!'
Twenty four jade stones, that also precisely had twenty four cubic metres of storage space, to Tang San, that was a place for depositing twenty four kinds of hidden weapons. The expression in his eyes became blazing, and within his heart the thirst to promote Mysterious Heaven skill reached an extreme degree. He was dying to possess enough inner strength to go cultivate all kinds of hidden weapons. Having this belt, he need not again worry about storage issues concerning hidden weapons.
"Teacher, could you please explain spirit tools to us? I'm very interested in their functions and creation." Zhi Xing said with a thirst for knowledge in her eyes not unlike that of her spirit when a pound of boar flesh is laid before it.
Waiting until after Tang San finished inspecting the belt Grandmaster explained:
"Spirit tools, as the name implies, are items that rely on spirit power to be used. Very few spirit tools are passed down from ancient times, for the most part they possess no offensive functions. Spirit masters themselves do not need weapons. Spirit tools can all be described as historical relics, as to how they came about, and how they were made, was lost long ago. This belt was obtained by me and several friends one time on an adventure. It was assigned to me as a reward. To me, its function is nothing too great, later you should be able to find it useful. Right, give it a name."
He looked to Tang San meaningfully.
Looking at those twenty four pieces of gentle jade, Tang San practically without hesitation thought of a famous verse from his last life,
"Twenty Four Moonlit Bridges. Right, I'll call it Twenty Four Moonlit Bridges."
Grandmaster was slightly dazed, his rigid face without expression, nodding he praised:
"A very good sounding name, if a bit long-winded."
Tang San secretly sighed. Perhaps this could be considered a form of recalling his last life a bit.
Grandmaster went on to say:
"Its function is very simple, infuse your spirit power within those jade stones, then you can sense its existing space. If you can react fast enough, things within it will appear as if out of thin air. But to control this specific property well, you still must practice much more. This is also your future homework."
Tang San did not need Grandmaster's words to understand the importance of training with the Twenty Four Moonlit Bridges, and hurriedly nodded in reply.
Originally Tang San had still been uncertain, Grandmaster had bought so many things, after entering Spirit Hunting Forest how could they be carried during their hunt for spirit beasts? Right now with Twenty Four Moonlit Bridges these problems were no longer an issue. Not remaining idle throughout the journey, under Grandmaster's direction he started to practice his control of accessing goods with Twenty Four Moonlit Bridges. And the goods used for practice, were those white radishes…
"Zhi Xing" Grandmaster said with his voice somewhat torn. "Although I can't provide you a spirit tool like Little San it doesn't mean I am a teacher who plays favorites." Saying so he removed a small wooden box with intricate designs carved into it before handing it to her.
Intrigued by it's contents Zhi Xing accepted without any hesitation, her heart barely able to contain her excitement. "Thank you Master" she said sincerely before opening the small container. Inside she found a beautiful small green crystal no larger than a finger nail. Confused she looked up to her teacher for an explanation.
"This small crystal was found by me during an exploration into Star Dou Forest. During an intense territorial brawl between powerful spirit beasts I was forced into a certain situation which lead to my acquisition of this rare treasure."
The small gem shimmered with beautiful emerald rays that overcame one with a sense of vitality and spring breeze. Glimmering slightly in Grandmaster's eyes, he simply closed the box before making eye contact with her.
"I haven't found a name for it yet, but I've come to understand a great deal about it's properties.
Firstly, it seems to be a form of extremely condensed life essence, I can't tell exactly how long it's taken to get this large but after many nearly life ending experiences in my escape out of the Great forest this small gem was able to sustain me and heal mostly all of my injuries. It is also incredibly durable so damaging it is of no concern, unfortunately due to it's size it can't solve life threatening wounds but it should still be more than enough to ensure your survival in the event of any small injuries."
Holding the box in her hands Zhi Xing didn't know what to say, for sure it wasn't a spirit tool that allowed one to store items and it couldn't outright protect her but it wasn't so useless as to say there was no value. Just those few moments with the box opened exposed her body to a refreshing feeling that she didn't usually experience until after a breakthrough, and according to Grandmaster it could heal most wounds which removed everyone's greatest worries about her accompanying them on this trip.
"Thank you master!" Springing up from her seat Zhi Xing bowed to Grandmaster with one hand's knuckles grasped in the other, she remain standing firm by utilizing her water walking training. "I'll call it Life Gold on account of it's healing property and rarity."
The man in question showed a surprised expression on his face at first but couldn't react properly until she had already sat back down.
Tang San in the corner was all smiles as well. With this strange crystal they wouldn't have to keep an eye on her constantly and while the bow might have been unexpected for Grandmaster he knew all too well that when Xing actually dropped all of her trust issues against a person only then would she be capable of such a respectful thing as bowing.
Leaning back slightly as the carriage continued forward and shook the cabin, Grandmaster let out a bitter sigh. "One could say the only reason I'm before you today is due to this little stones influence. I pass it on to you in the hope that you can live as long as I have and perhaps avoid some of the mistake I made in my youth." Saying this his tone was somewhat less genial and more so lamentable, looking over her body as if certain of something.
"With you as our guide master I know we can depend on you to steer us in the right direction." She said flatteringly with a smile.
Tang San eyebrow twitched at that. 'Perhaps she doesn't completely trust him yet' he thought noticing the greed in her eyes.
A four hundred li journey, whether considered long or not, was definitely not short. Not until noon the second day did they arrive at their destination, Spirit Hunting Forest.
When Zhi Xing stepped down from the carriage, she discovered that the Spirit Hunting forest was completely unlike her imagination. Tang San too wore a bewildered expression at what lay before them.
Forests, from Tang San's impression, ought to be filled with a natural earthy smell, trees providing a secluded and tranquil ambiance, with fresh air and no sign of human habitation. But this Spirit Hunting Forest before him, at least at the forest's edge, looked no different from Nuoding city's market.
At the forest's edge, large houses were constructed, or rather shops. The sound of every kind of ware being cried out, a strip of paved stone paths winding freely among them, in the surrounding racket Tang San could not help but frown.
"I have a warrant, recruiting to hunt strength type spirit beasts, we're still short two people!"
"Hunting agility type spirit beasts, warrant for seven people! Ten gold spirit coins upon completion!"
Similar hawking cries rose one after another, the forest of shops for the most part were peddling weapons, defensive tools and all kinds of food supplies.
Grandmaster brought Tang San and Zhi Xing to enter this place considered as a small town market,
"Do you know why I finished buying all the things at Nuoding city?"
Tang San shook his head but Xing had a pretty good idea why in mind. Grandmaster pointed to the prices marked in the stores.
"Because after arriving here, prices will all at least double. Are you not wondering, how a forest's edge can be this bustling. It's actually very simple. Where there are spirit beasts, there is profit. Particularly these special national spirit beast hunting forests are even more prone to this. Spirit masters are a wealthy group, so there will be many people looking to make a profit off of them."
"Grandmaster, what do those people shouting about recruiting groups mean?"
"Spirit beasts are not so easily killed. Rather inherently formidable spirit beasts, even if they haven't cultivated more than a few years, still have very powerful attributes. Grouping up for hunting spirit beasts as the people have, is just multiple people mutually cooperating. Hunting their respectively required spirit beast, and obtaining the spirit ring. Having the aid of other people, they can deal the required last attack on the spirit beast themselves. On the Continent it is the most common and safest method of hunting spirit beasts. Only, is grouping up that easy?"
Speaking of this, Grandmaster looked at these crying out spirit masters, his eyes exuding a trace of disdain.
"A genuinely outstanding spirit hunting group, will be composed of at least five parts: food system tool spirit masters will be responsible for supplies, healing system tool spirit masters responsible for condition strengthening and spirit power restoration. Agility system beast spirit masters responsible for scouting, strength system beast spirit masters responsible for blocking, attack system beast spirit masters responsible for annihilating the enemy. With these five parts composing the group, it can be regarded as a complete group. But also the coordination between each person can't become cohesive in just a day or two. Personal experience imperceptibly influences the process, and so it requires at least several years to become coordinated. Even more importance must be attached to a group's members, they must have mutual trust. Absolute trust. Otherwise, when encountering danger, they are very easily defeated in a moment."
Tang San astonished asked:
"Why will they be defeated? Because of insufficient strength?"
Grandmaster shook his head, coldly saying:
"In the future, perhaps you also will come across a chance to join a group. When the time comes for choosing a group, you can't even consider other members' actual strength, but the one thing you must keep in mind, regarfing the group which you choose, is that you will eventually present your back before them."
Zhi Xing for once also didn't understand Grandmaster's meaning, but the man did not care to have a lengthy explaination again. Bringing them towards the depths of the market.
Although the marketplace was disturbingly chaotic, when you moved further away and eventually left the area, was when they saw this huge forest, Tang San still could not help but be somewhat shocked.
Trees tall and large testament to their age, the forest periphery was encircled by an immense steel fence, facing the forest it possessed a great number of piercing tips. The fence's height exceeded ten metres, looking extremely robust.
This still was not counting the guards, outside the fence, were a line of a hundred patrolling soldiers. These troops wore meticulous suits of full body armor, hands grasping long spears, disciplined postures and forming a neat formation, a hundred steel warriors standing together, giving off a sense of deadly intimidation.
Grandmaster said in a low voice:
"Not just anyone can enter the Spirit Hunting Forest for capturing. Only spirit masters who have obtained a warrant issued by Spirit Hall, can enter Spirit Hunting forest to hunt spirit beasts. Although there are also those who have secretly entered, those people find it very difficult to have a good ending. These soldiers are only guarding the periphery, in Spirit Hunting Forest, there are still Spirit Hall enforcer groups, at all times inspecting warrants. Those people don't pay attention to sentiments."
Tang San said:
"Teacher, in the end is this Spirit Hunting Forest considered Spirit Hall's or the country's?"
Grandmaster's expression turned cold, gesturing Tang San to keep silent,
"Outside you must not ask similar questions in the future. Concerning the relationship between Spirit Hall and the nation, I will tell you about it later. For now you just understand that obtaining a warrant is certainly not difficult: the first requirement is Spirit Hall's approval, determining that you have indeed reached peak stage power, requiring a spirit ring to advance. The next requirement is having the guarantee of at least three nobles."
While speaking, in Grandmaster's hand already appeared a token tile, the dark token was made from some unknown material, on the surface a pattern was formed by three kinds of figures fitted together, in the middle was a sharp sword pointing down, to the left and right of the sword, separately were a hammer and the head of a monster that Tang San and Zhi Xing had never seen before.
Grandmaster saw their eyes full of curiosity, and raised it so they could see clearly.
"Remember this symbol, this is Spirit Hall's characteristic mark. Within Spirit Hall, there are six kinds of signs. Distinguishing each kind of token tile is very simple, just look at the figures depicted. On the lowest grade token tiles are only a sword, it symbolizes spirit hall's holy hall chief consul's spirit, and higher grade token tiles have on the side of the long sword a hammer. Symbolizing a spirit hall elder."
Tang San's inference ability wasn't too terrible.
"Teacher, these two people holding spirit hall positions should be extremely significant right? But, before I heard, beast spirits are more formidable compared to tool spirits, these two spirit master figures should both be tool spirit masters right."
Grandmaster tousled Tang San's head, with a cool smile and said:
"People that say beast spirits when compared to tool spirits are more formidable, concerning their understanding of spirits their knowledge is obviously insufficient. Any spirit's strength, hinges on two things. One is how much spirit power is present at the awakening, the other is just acquired with the process of cultivation. Perhaps, before thirtieth rank, because beast spirits can add attributes to their users then compared to tool spirit masters they're a bit more formidable. But after arriving at higher ranks, between the two categories there are certainly no differences. Strong or not only depends on a person's cultivation."
"My warrant, is Spirit Hall's third grade warrant. With it, one essentially may enter the majority of Heaven Dou nation's Spirit Hunting Forests. It is symbolized by rare spirits that can't be found in places such as this forest. Also unlike the previous two token tiles it doesn't have to be returned to spirit hall after completing the spirit beast hunt, mine can be held for a lifetime. On this token tile appears a blue lightning tyrant dragon, among beast spirits, it's considered a top level existence. Although its owner is not part of Spirit Hall, the representative clan receives in no small measure Spirit Hall's respect."
For some reason, when Grandmaster spoke of the blue lightning tyrant dragon, in his eyes appeared a trace of loneliness.
Zhi Xing asked.
"Then after these three, assuming there are even higher ranked token tiles, they should also have unique kinds of spirit symbols right?"
Grandmaster nodded, saying:
"Precisely like that. These six kinds of spirit marks, respectively represent six formidable spirit masters, and also represent six formidable clans. Among these three are in our Heaven Dou Empire, the other three are in Star Luo Empire."
While speaking, Grandmaster had already brought his two students and arrived at the Spirit Hunting Forest entrance.
The captain responsible for inspecting warrants gave the token tile's three marks a single glance. On his face immediately appeared a respectful look, and he hurriedly ordered the soldiers to move aside and open up the way, inviting Grandmaster to bring Tang San and Zhi Xing inside. Without even asking why these small children, must also enter Spirit Hunting Forest.
Crossing the steel fence to enter within the forest all the clamour seemed to have disappeared, and the atmosphere finally became as fresh as in Tang San's imagination, giving people's mind a feeling of being free from worry.
After entering the forest, Grandmaster wasn't in any hurry to advance, and rather quietly observed their surroundings.
Tang San seemed to suddenly recall something,
"Teacher, just now those six people you talked about receiving Spirit Hall respect, being carved on their tokens, what are their titles? Spirit Saint? Douluo? Is it Title Douluo?"
Grandmaster gave Tang San a keen look,
"It's Title Douluo. And also the six most formidable Title Douluo."
In Tang San's eyes was a trace of excitement. Zhi Xing's ears also perked up, although they were no where close to the later stages of cultivation, learning about prominent spirit masters still counts as learning.
"They are all of equal rank, but possess different spirit rings and different spirits, so the actual power between them is completely different. These six Title Douluo undoubtedly are the most powerful of the powerful. Even though there are other spirit masters that have cultivated over the ninetieth rank and entered the realm of Title Douluo, those few people are still unable to shake their positions. But right now these people are too far away from you. Currently we will prepare and enter the forest, starting from now, you two must not deviate more than one step from my side."
The originally dispirited expression in Grandmaster's eyes abruptly cleared, both hands held close to his chest, before again quickly separating below his navel.
"Come out, Luo San Pao."
With a puffing sound, a faint purple thread of spirit power separated from Grandmaster's palms. Tang San only felt Grandmaster release a burst of fluctuating spirit power from his whole body, and before him already appeared a creature.
Unmistakably, this creature, it would seem, had an appearance much like a dog, but the bulk of its body was more akin to a hog. More than one metre fifty in height, and its waist measurement should be something similar.
Its entire body had pale purple fur, two small drooping ears, a pair of large deep blue blinking eyes, and the expression in its pupils was very gentle. As the fat body swayed once, the creature's fat buttocks immediately swayed side to side. Four stocky little legs made it hard to imagine just how slow it moved.
On top of its head was a bulging, spherical, unknown something. As it appeared, running over towards Grandmaster, and using its head to rub against Grandmaster's leg.
Under Grandmaster's feet two rings of light rose up, moving back and forth over him. Both rings of light appeared yellow, obviously hundred year spirit rings.
"Xing'er, Little San did you not want to know what my spirit was? This is my spirit, you can call it Luo San Pao, or just call him San Pao."
Luo San Pao as if understanding Grandmaster's words, looked at the two with its pair of big eyes, the expression in its eyes unexpectedly had a somewhat affectionate look.
"Grandmaster... this is your spirit?" Xing asked with a shaky voice.
Tang San shocked looked to Zhi Xing only to notice the flabbergasted expression marring her face as well. The two immediately started asking questions.
"Teacher, this is your spirit?"
"We suffer the same mutation? Why didn't you... say anything?"
Luo San Pao obviously somewhat dissatisfied, made two luoluo calls towards Tang San.
In Grandmaster's expression appeared a trace of bitterness as he looked to Zhi Xing.
"Because, my spirit is also a variant spirit. Remember what we spoke about regarding spirit variation, San Pao is probably the worst possible outcome. When it only just awakened, my spirit power level was also only a half rank. At that time I didn't know what words from my family I was hoping to hear but it wasn't what I recieved. I... didn't know yet if revealing our shared plight might steer you away from the path of a Spirit Master."
"Even if I again made an effort like the past, breaking through thirtieth rank spirit power is impossible in this lifetime, so in the end I can only study spirits in theory I didn't want your first example of another case of mutation to be my failure."
Before when Tang San heard those rumours about Grandmaster, he knew that Grandmaster was a persistent person. Regarding spirits he was as persistent as he himself was regarding hidden weapons. This was also why Tang San had never regretted acknowledging Grandmaster as his master. Perhaps, this was talent appreciating each other.
"I'm sorry, Grandmaster, for raising your old painful memories."
"I understand your reasoning. But it's alright, you've been studying spirits this entire time so surely the one you've studied the most would be your own, that can only be a good thing for me." Running up to Grandmaster Zhi Xing hugged him tightly "I'm sorry that such a thing happened to you, your a good person."
Grandmaster laughed at himself and shook his head,
"It's nothing, I became inured long ago. Come, I'll introduce you to San Pao. The reason for its name is because it calls out a luoluo sound, and its attack can only be launched three times. Therefore it's called San Pao."
Nodding half confused by his lame sense of naming, Xing summoned Shí.
The two variant spirits gazed at each other before San Pao ran a few times in a circle around the large insectoid, sniffing her a few times for measure.
"San Pao, first open up a path ahead."
Fat Luo San Pao looked pleased with itself and walked away from Shí. Although it's body was only slightly bigger compared to her own, when it moved it was actually rather nimble. Moving from one side to the other sniffing at things randomly.
All over Grandmaster's body spirit power light was glimmering. Bringing the two to follow Luo San Pao, they moved along deeper into the forest.
"San Pao's sense of smell is very acute, capable of discovering tracks of spirit beasts and how strong they are. Although it has become small and weak because of variation, regarding spirit power the consumption is also very small. This is an advantage all three of us share and must be abused, it's something allowing us to keep our spirits released outside for long periods of time and facilitates finer manipulations."
"This is for you. You must make the last attack that kills the spirit beast yourself."
Grandmaster fumbled out from the breast pocket a magnificent short sword and handed it to Tang San.
The short sword's entire sheath was a transparent blue, and on it were inlayed seven pieces of blue jade. The sword handle had a chunk of milky white jade, and the sword's length was one chi two cun. Even though with the sheath, holding it in the hand he still could feel traces of cold qi.
Walking not far away, Luo San Pao abruptly came to a stop, the pair of big eyes looking in one direction, its mouth emitting two luoluo calls.
An animal looking a bit like a cat appeared in the direction of its gaze, lying in a tree, guardedly watching all four of them.
Grandmaster coldly smiled, saying:
"It's a ten year multicolored cat. San Pao, don't disturb it. Continue ahead."
Grandmaster never forgot to instruct his two students. While continuing walking, he said:
"That multicolored cat just now belongs to the cat family of spirit beasts. Its offensive nature is very powerful, but provided you do not first attack it, it also will not easily start an attack. If a spirit master has a cat family beast spirit, using it for one's first spirit ring is not a bad choice. You must not think of that multicolored cat as small and powerless; if it was a more than thousand year multicolored cat, let alone us, even more than ten times our number could not kill it."
Tang San called to mind an important question,
"Grandmaster, how do we actually distinguish the strength of a spirit beast? Or even the number of years?"
"Distinguishing a spirit beast's actual strength certainly isnt difficult. You look, that solitary bamboo ahead. That also is a type of spirit beast - a plant system spirit beast. It's useful to you, solitary bamboo is tough, and although its attack nature is not powerful, its defense is not bad. This is a ten year solitary bamboo. Because its height does not exceed ten metres. Over ten metre, it would be considered over a hundred years. Consequently, generally speaking, spirit beasts are distinguished mainly by observing bulk and the color of the spirit power used when they attack. Spirit power color is identical to actual strength. Precisely speaking, ten year spirit beasts use white spirit power, hundred year use yellow, and so on. Although, when confronting an unknown spirit beast, you best not go look at its spirit power, in a short time you will be unable to endure, and then will be up against devastating danger."
"Grandmaster, will we be hunting that solitary bamboo?"
The solitary bamboo certainly did not seem to attract attention, it was only because all around it were large trees and not more bamboo, it could easily be distinguished. It's body softly swaying, the top of the bamboo moving rhythmically with the wind.
Grandmaster denied such a thing.
"For the moment we will not. If we are without a more suitable choice, then it will only be the last option if we are forced to. Choosing spirit rings must be done carefully: each spirit ring cannot be replaced. Spirit scholars promoting to spirit master, can at most absorb a hundred year spirit beast spirit rings. To be even more precise, they can absorb up to four hundred twenty three year spirit beasts' spirit ring exactly. I've carefully studied many spirit masters undergoing growth and failure. Four hundred twenty three years should be the limit of what one can endure for the first spirit ring. Therefore, I hope that your first spirit rings will be as close to that limit as possible."
Grandmaster regarding spirit research was always just that precise. Zhi Xing felt, having this teacher in this life, was absolutely a blessing.
"Similarly for hundred year spirit rings, although the color of the spirit rings emerging from a hundred year spirit beast and nine hundred year spirit beast are the same, the gap between the amplification of the added attributes is enormous. Seeking a spirit ring as high as possible under the prerequisite safety limit, is required for every outstanding spirit master."
Continuing moving forward, Grandmaster was giving them a lively field class, relying on his spirit Luo San Pao's acute sense of smell, to draw out spirit beasts concealed in dark places one by one. For the most part these spirit beasts were of the ten year grade, perhaps this was why their desire to attack them on sight was not so strong. Grandmaster gave the two lengthy introductions to these spirit beasts' names, specific properties and method of distinguishing cultivation age.
Looking up at the color of the sky, Grandmaster said:
"It looks like today we must spend the night in Spirit Hunting Forest. We will first look for a place to camp."
Having searched for half the day, although not many spirit beasts conforming to their requirements had appeared, Grandmaster had not been anxious at all, and very patiently continued looking.
The place Grandmaster chose to camp at was a natrual depression in the forest , surrounded by complex terrain and encircled by numerous towering trees.
Grandmaster took out a big glass bottle from a loop shaped spirit tool on his wrist and passed it to Tang San,
"Sprinkle it around, remember, you must sprinkle it evenly."
Tang San took the bottle. The bottle held some powdered type of drug, stinging the nose somewhat, and Tang San's nose wrinkled, already making it out, this was similar to his old world's realgar type drug. Tang sect was famous for hidden weapons and poison, and although he was an outer sect disciple, regarding distinguishing poisonous substances he had considerable skill.
Earlier in the middle of the process of looking for spirit beasts, within Spirit Hunting Forest he had found no few poisonous plants he could distinguish, putting the few he could snatch away from Shí within Twenty Four Moonlit Bridges. Grandmaster's knowledge could not be doubted on the spirit side, but regarding distinguishing these spirit power-less poisonous plants, he by far could not compare to Tang San with two lifetimes of experience. Particularly among these poisonous plants were quite a few that required each other to be able to issue true poisonousnes.
Having scattered the powder, Tang San handed back the bottle to Grandmaster.
"Do you know why I let you sprinkle these around the periphery?"
Grandmaster's facial expression was very serious, right now he was a teacher testing his students.
Since he could distinguish what the powder was, how could Tang San not be expected to know Grandmaster's purpose, and without hesitation he said:
"It should have two effects, one is to conceal our scent, and the other is to repel snakes, insects, rats, ants and such types of creatures."
"I assumed it was a type of repellant, I just didn't know the specifics...." She glared slightly at Tang San 'Teachers pet' She thought unironically.
Grandmaster nodded contentedly,
"Correct, that is precisely what it is. This is called snake repelling powder, its essential to adventures. Remember, in forests, especially within forests with spirit beasts, you must as much as possible not use fire. Even though the vast majority of wild animals and spirit beasts mostly fear firelight, there are also several especially formidable spirit beasts that like fire. In the event that you meet them, unless your own cultivation has become sufficiently formidable, you will undoubtedly die."
The color of the sky gradually dimmed, within the forest certainly was not peaceful and quiet, insects and birds called, roars of wild animals rose and fell one after another.
Without lighting a fire, around them was completely pitch dark, Tang San, Zhi Xing and Grandmaster ate a simple evening meal, both master and apprentices rested leaning against a big tree.
Grandmaster was definitely a qualified teacher, and he paid a lot of attention to both of them. Even though right now they should already be resting, Grandmaster was still again quizzing their understanding of spirit beasts from earlier during their journey, in order to give them a deeper impression.
Zhi Xing's memory wasn't that bad, in addition this was the first time she had come into contact with creatures like spirit beasts, the radiculous feeling of fiction deepened her memory, and when either of their answers occasionally had issues they were one by one corrected by Grandmaster.
"Little San, Xing'er do you know why I say that for spirit masters youth is the most important time?"
Grandmaster's deep and hoarse voice brought a somewhat sentimental feeling.
Both of them shook their heads, waiting for Grandmaster's explanation.