After a few minutes of silence, Bi Liang disposed of the two corpses. Cheng Hao looked at the faces and the bodies of the deceased and branded themselves deep into his mind, as if, by not forgetting him, Na Lu would never fully die!
Sighing, Cheng Hao clapped his hands together ‘Since I don’t have a cultivation base right now, I will just have to improve in other aspects! Strengthening my Fleshly Body should be one of my biggest concerns right now!’
Cheng Hao raised his head and then asked Bi Liang “How many members are the three factions composed of?”
Bi Liang took out a note from his Dimensional Pouch and answered “Shadow Dragon has three School Protectors, one of them in the peak Sung stage, one in the low Reverend stage and one in the mid level Reverend stage. They also have recruited fifty-three Core Elders either at the peak Superior stage or low Sung stage and a thousand inner Elders with various cultivation.”
Seeing that Cheng Hao was about to ask something, Bi Liang specified “We do not count Outer Elders and lower or the students because they are never allowed to interfere with sect matters, except for the Outer sect Exam Supervisor who has a cultivation of the Superior stage. He has also joined hands with the Shadow Dragon group.”
“The second faction, Moon Goddess also has three Protectors, their cultivation the same as the ones before, only thirty-six Core Elders either peak Superior stage or low Sung stage but has over twenty-five hundred Inner Elders with varied cultivation.
“Finally, we, the Golden Tigers, have two Protectors, both low level Reverend stage, twenty, no, eighteen core Elders and about seven hundred Inner Elders… Honestly, I don’t really get how father can be so cheerful given the data we have at the moment…”
Bi Liang sighs and was about to close the notebook when Cheng Hao grabbed his hand “Wait!” The man looked at the child and he asked “What is it brother? Did you think of something?”
Cheng Hao nodded “Although he only broke through by Accumulating Qi, I have a friend (Although he actually sees me as his younger master) at the low level Reverend stage. Also…”
Cheng Hao lifted his hand and pointed upwards with his middle and index finger “I am confident that in two months, I will be able to fight with those two disciples from the other factions as well as any Superior and low level Sung stage opponent!”
Bi Liang almost spit out blood: two months? Breakthrough a whole level? Cheng Hao had told him that, although his cultivation had been sealed, his true cultivation was at the low level Advanced stage… That by itself was amazing but did this brat say that he could get that much stronger in just two months? That was just a fool’s wishful thinking!
“Brother Cheng Hao… To break through a whole stage is-“. Cheng Hao raised his hand to interrupt him “Who said that I will raise my cultivation? With my actual cultivation I am able to fight mid level Superior stage cultivators, let alone in two months! Don’t worry, I won’t be seeking for short term benefits nor will I use some sort of prohibited technique, I am just that talented!”
Cheng Hao smiled cheerfully and his calm attitude also helped the few people in the room sigh relieved: they had just lost two ‘friends’ that had turned out to be traitors, but they had also gained such an outstanding young man as well as another Reverend stage cultivator, how could they not be excited?
Cheng Hao walked into the only room in the warehouse: he was now the boss so he would have his own room while other people would have to rest together in the common room.
Currently, Cheng Hao was holding a black weapon in his hands: it was only one foot long and three centimeters wide. It was a simple iron dagger that could be used as a hidden blade to strike opponents without them noticing.
Right now, Cheng Hao was carving a few words on the weapon with the sharp blades made out of the golden substance from the drop of blood: he could not let others find out about that drop as it was his hidden triumph card! So, since he could not use it, he could only rely on a new, disposable weapon!
The words didn’t look like they were in some kind of language and instead were a bunch of complicated symbols: they were Runes!
Cheng Hao didn’t have the same gift as Xiao Wu: he could not emit any External Aura, although he could manipulate External Aura if others summoned it for him thanks to his great control over Qi.
His Golden Aura is actually a manifestation of a technique, given to him by Blindlight in his past life, which had principles somewhat similar to that of Aura, but Cheng Hao used his great control over his cultivation base to absorb Aura from his surroundings.
By doing so, he would gradually and constantly strengthen his muscles and bones.
He could not control it and turn it into weapons and such because it is not meant to be Manipulated, instead it is meant to be Absorbed, thus Goldy had at first called it the External Aura Pseudo-Manipulation Through Absorbition.
Of course, Cheng Hao changed its name into Golden Aura as it would be much faster to say it and sounded a lot better than its previous name.
That was also a reason he had to go look for the technique to Manipulate Aura, even risking his life, as he did not study it as much as other things in his past life.
But what he could not have, he would find something to replace it: Runes!
What were Runes? They were like a spell that could greatly enhance weapons, armors or objects. They imparted a command and altered the material’s stats but, while it gained great power in one aspect, it would lose just as much in other that would be required to diminish as if the real structure of the object itself had changed.
For example, if one wrote on the edge of a blade ‘Durable’, the edge would become less sharp than it was before because if an edged weapon were to be durable, it’s edge would also require to be wider and thus duller.
Also, there is no true Rune for each inscription, instead it is different for every inscriber depending on their insights, also allowing the masses to distinguish a certain inscriber’s work from another’s.
Cheng Hao had just inscribed the Rune “Sharp” but on the other hand it also means the blade had just gotten “Fragile” as, for weapons, sharp also meant really thin and fragile. An equal exchange, more sharpness for less durability.
Cheng Hao cut his finger and blood began to drip as the boy moved his hand over the sword, letting the few drops of blood fall on top of the Rune. The small engraving slowly began to bright up, blue light surrounding the short sword’s edge.
Cheng Hao lifted the glowing short sword with his right hand and took a small rock with his left. He then proceeded to peel the rock as if it were an apple. The blade cut through the tough stone as if it were cutting through butter!
Cheng Hao nodded satisfied with his new weapon and put it away in his Heaven&Earth Pouch: it would be another ace up his sleeve! An enchanted sword such as a that would be able to cut through Superior stage cultivators that haven’t focused too much in training their bodies without too much of an effort!
The young child then stood up and activated the Golden Aura, strands of energy began to replenish any energy that he had wasted and channeled it back into his body: since he now was in the Advanced stage, he could upgrade is Copper Fleshly Body to the next level, the Iron Fleshly Body!
Technically, to enhance one’s Fleshly Body, one would need to also have the required cultivation base. Well, Cheng Hao was different. The Golden Aura acted as a substitute for the Cultivation Base, so he could strengthen the Fleshly Body by activating the technique. It would be a lot slower, but the result would still be the same.
It was a nice perk of the technique that not even him had noticed up until a short while ago: by transforming the Aura absorbed directly into energy he would be able to sustain his powerful body and satisfy the huge requirements for energy that an higher ranked Fleshly Body needed so that the cells composing his body won’t die.
Cheng Hao breathed in and then lifted himself up with his arms, his body upside down, the only thing keeping his body from falling to the ground were those tiny arms that were as thin as a baby’s fist.
He stood in that tiring position for a few minutes. Suddenly, when he was about to fall down from the strain on his muscles, his body glowed, the golden aura absorbed energy from Cheng Hao’s surroundings and the torn muscles cicatrized back together and recovered, slightly stronger than they were before.
He kept going like that for a few hours, finally, the Aura kicked in once more, his whole body glowed and got brighter for a few breaths before going back to his usual appearance. Cheng Hao sighed. He propped himself up and stood on his feet, groaning in pain “Damn, all this effort and pain and I only got rewarded with less than a 1% increase in the toughness of my body?”
Cheng Hao massaged his arms and chest which were currently almost crying from the pain themselves.
“AND, I still ain’t even on the verge of breaking through to that 1%? I will need at least three months doing this exercise nonstop if I wanted to enhance my Fleshly Body like this, and I don’t have that much time…”
Cheng Hao threw himself on the mattress lying on the floor that was given to him by Bi Liang, and then smiled “Well, since I have few things to do and a lot of time on my hands, I should open the Third Floor of the Tower! I might even get lucky and power myself up some more!” Cheng Hao looked at the ceiling and pondered.
His expression gre dark “That is, of course, if he has forgiven me…” The boy sighed “It matters not. I have to meet him, not because I need his power but because I cannot escape my past. The only thing I can do is to seek forgiveness, not run away!”
Cheng Hao sat up on the bed and entered a meditation stance: he focused his mind into his sea of consciousness.
There, two spheres hovered in the middle of his consciousness. They were the Core and the Pseudo-Core! When he had received the Roc’s blessing, he had also broken through to the Advanced stage.
He projected his consciousness past the first sphere, the Core, and then into the Pseudo-Core and finally into the space containing the Immortal Ascension Tower, where his clone made of faint Qi appeared. It was now almost fully formed, although some disturbances could still be seen on its surface.
The tower made of bronze, silver and gold glowed when his consciousness approached as if it was happy to meet its master. Cheng Hao slowly walked towards the third floor of the tower.
This was chained up unlike the second floor but its restrictions were much fewer than the first floor’s. It could be seen that although Cheng Hao trusted the being trapped inside, he still was not completely sure wether it was a friend or an enemy.
Cheng Hao walked up to the third floor gate and he looked at it, reminiscing of the past. He sighed and then approached, he lifted the seal blocking his cultivation base for a second, just enough time to let a strand of Advanced Qi to pass through the restrictions before sealing it back as fast as he could: he could not let anyone but Bi Liang know of his true cultivation!
As soon as that single strand of Advanced Qi appeared, he guided it towards the third floor where it took the shape of a bronze key: it was slightly smaller than the Roc key had been, but it was still a lot bigger than the first floor’s had been… ‘Speaking about the first floor, I wonder how did Goldy deal with Blacky? Did he bring it together with him when he left with Xiao Wu or did the damn thing just escape?’
He shook his head ‘I have found it once after it had hid itself for a thousand years, a few months shouldn’t be a problem, I’ll let him run away from a while…’
Cheng Hao opened his eyes wide and guided the key towards the keyhole. Unlike the previous times, he had to spend quite a lot of effort, as he didn’t have a cultivation base and could only push it by using the outstanding control over his Qi. The previous floors were also designed so that, to open them, you needed to use power at least at the limit of the respective stage.
In the previous floors, he “cheated” as he used power similar to the Advanced stage by using the power in his Pseudo-Core, thus disregarding that rule. Now though, he didn’t have such methods and could only rely on his own cultivation to do it and that same cultivation had been sealed.
He would have no problem lifting the seal, but that would mean letting everyone know about his status as a cultivator instead of the mysterious mortal that could apparently suppress powerful Martial Artists without effort. Oh, of course he also enjoyed the challenge.
Still, after about one hour, Cheng Hao’s true body was drenched in sweat and the apparition in his Pseudo-Core was also much more unstable. Finally, the key entered the keyhole and the door finally opened with a click!
Black smoke fumed out as the massive bronze gates slowly opened. In the darkness of the big room, two pairs of white eyes opened and stared at Cheng Hao. He shuddered under the pressure that those gazes have him but he still didn’t look away.
Finally, two voices, one deep and powerful, one high pitched and hissing unpleasantly spoke together “”Child… Who are you? Why have you imprisoned us in this place? Do you seek death?“”
Cheng Hao braced himself. He inhaled and exhaled slowly and finally his eyes brightened. He spoke out, every word coming out clearly and fluently “My current name is Cheng Hao, but that would probably not ring any bell. My real name was lost and forgotten, and it was you four brothers and sisters of mine that gave me a new name! Xu as empty, Ling as soul!”
Cheng Hao patted his chest as his eyes shone with black and white lights.
“I am Xu Ling, I am the Fifth Divine Beast! I am the human born from no one, the being that appeared out of empty air in the Heavenly Plains, the one destined soul that would turn these lands of battles from its current chaotic state back into calm and peaceful lands without any war!”
The four eyes glowing into the darkness widened as many kinds of emotions flashed by them: anger, sadness, fear, surprise, happiness as well as both love and hate.
“”Hey you! Wait a second!”” The four eyes narrowed as the voices rang out again. Cheng Hao ignored the cries of the beast and continued: “I am the destined child, destined to bring down Tian and his reign of terror, to rule all under Heaven! Now, Ren Hei, do you know who I am!”
“”Fifth brother, Xu Ling! You dare come back! Have you forgotten about fourth sister Ren Hong??? How dare you show your face in front of us! Wait and see if we don’t kill you now!””
Cheng Hao laughed at the beast’s reprimands and he retorted “I fear not death, I fear dying without accomplishing anything! I have already been killed once but I didn’t die! I have a destiny to fulfill and that is why you, eldest brother of mine, won’t kill me! I hate myself many times more than you hate me, but do not forget that you were the first to stand aside and allow Tian to try to kill me! ”
Suddenly, the creature shot forward: it was a gigantic turtle that almost hit the ceiling of the floor where it was residing in. It’s whole body was covered by black scales and the shell on its back was black as well.
It was so big that it looked like a mountain, there were even rivers flowing down the shell and trees growing on top of it. A snake much bigger than the Hellish Nightmare Dragon was, lived in a symbiotic relationship with the turtle and they formed together the single identity known as the oldest Divine Beast, the Divine Earth King!
The beast moved at great speeds despite its size and it got in front of the projection in the fraction of a second. The pair of eyes on the gigantic turtle’s head, and the giant snake’s head all focused on the boy in front of them and stared ruthlessly “”It was not our fault! It was our only choice!!!””
Cheng Hao pointed at the the turtle and reprimanded “If it wasn’t for elder sister, I would have died! Right now though, I live and I won’t waste this life that she gifted me dying at the hands of one of those who allowed Tian to kill her! That’s right, she may have died to protect me, but you also greatly helped Tian in his intent! Now tell me, big brother, does the eldest of the Divine Beasts, the Divine Earth King, the Black Turtle, only know how to put blame on others?”
Author’s Note: Divine Beasts? What are they? Check chapter 26 if you need a quick recap.