With that settled, Auntie Yimin and Xiaoli stood and watched as Hei studied some of the information jades.
They couldn’t tell, but he was also communicating with Onyx, whose experience went far beyond the patriarch’s information.
After a while, Hei felt it was slightly uncomfortable to have people standing behind him.
From his fingers, he produced two black strings, which he formed into formations in the air, and placed them down on the ground on the opposite side of the table.
When they landed, two lights flashed, and when they faded away, two crystal-like chairs were left in their places.
“Please, take a seat.”
Auntie Yimin and Xiaoli didn’t expect such an extravagant way of providing furniture to guests. What kind of frivolous use of formations was this?
“Then, we’ll impose.”
“It’s no imposition.”
The walked up to the chairs and pulled them back to create space for them to sit, but they noticed something strange.
Auntie Yimin tried increasing her grip on the back of the chair, but there were no fluctuations at all. Even when she used her qi to enhance her strength, there wasn’t even the slightest sign that the chair was under any kind of stress.
“To make such strong chairs, are you trying to say us ladies are too heavy for normal ones?”
Auntie Yimin chuckled as she spoke and took a seat. She was surprised by the soft cushioning of the seating area.
“Not at all. I don’t know any weaker formations than this one. I would have to make an entirely new one to have less sturdy chairs. Would that be more to your liking?”
“… No. This lady was only making a joke.”
Xiaoli was interested in his other words.
“You don’t know any weaker formations than this?”
“Not for the purposes of creating furniture, no. But if it’s simple defence formations and the like, then I have also studied the basics.”
At this point, she sat down on the chair, and it was surprisingly soft.
She shifted her weight up and down and enjoyed the springy sensation.
From there, Auntie Yimin and Xiaoli remained silent. They watched as Hei tapped his pen on the sheet of paper in front of him.
“It would be best if you tell me what kind of spirit roots you have. That way I can say words targeted to your specific situation.”
Auntie Yimin responded.
“Earth and fire.”
Then she thought of something.
“Xiaoli has earth and wind elements.”
Xiaoli turned to Auntie Yimin, who responded with a smile. Even though Xiaoli had never tried to comprehend the minute realm, this could still fast track her path in the future.
Hei was now sorting his thought and structuring them in his mind, coming up with various ideas and explanations for phenomena, which he wrote down on the sheets of paper.
As he filled one paper, he shifted it to the corner of the table and then brought another to him with his qi. He continued this cycle until the table was filled to capacity.
He tapped his pen on the sheet of paper in front of him as he wondered where to put the next few sheets. Apparently, placing them on the floor and the walls wasn’t the best practice in the presence of others.
He settled for having them float in the air in front of him
The two watched as the papers built up.
Auntie Yimin used her spiritual perception to speak with Xiaoli, not knowing that her intention of not disturbing Hei was negated by the qi itself, who delivered everything she said to him.
“Does he always work like this? Look there. That sheet says something completely different to that one there. It’s as if there are multiple people all sharing their thoughts at the same time.”
Xiaoli had an odd expression.
“He normally puts all of these papers on the floor and the walls. Even the ceiling isn’t off limits. He said he likes to be able to see his progress at a glance. And from what he said before, these should all be scrapped ideas.”
“Scrapped ideas? This much?”
Auntie Yimin used her spiritual perception to look over some of the papers and found all sorts of interesting interpretations of the minute realm which she had never seen before. She felt there were kernels of truth in every one of them and that there was a hidden profundity.
She even found some of the things she herself had comprehended therein.
If anyone else were to go to a lecture theatre and recite one of these, they would be seen as a visionary. Heck, there would probably even be people who, through this information, would successfully break through to the minute realm. But here, they were only scrapped ideas…
This boy. How deep was his comprehension ability?
Xiaoli wasn’t on the same page. She also viewed all of these sheets as scrapped ideas, not knowing that each of them was impressive on its own. And they were growing progressively so.
This was because he said they were scrapped ideas, and as such, she thought they mustn’t be any good.
Auntie Yimin, on the other hand, saw a large wealth of quality information that was hard to find in the local area. Perhaps even a few second-grade sects wouldn’t have so much content on the minute realm conceptually.
Sure, they would have cultivation techniques, but those were only useful after breaking through. That was where everyone was lacking. They would teach a very limited and closed view of how to break through, but how could it work for everyone?
There were plenty of cases where people failed to break through even when given all of the resources their peers had. This wasn’t necessarily a problem with their comprehension ability, but instead, was usually a case of the information not matching the individual. Often times they found success with other methods when they searched elsewhere.
That was why inheritances were so valuable. They were anecdotal and weren’t a rigid system for advancement like the sects had. One would be able to draw one’s own conclusions from the experiences of the senior, rather than being told what the correct way was.
Auntie Yimin subconsciously started to take in what she was seeing, slowly forming a picture in her mind.
On the other side of the table, Hei didn’t hear any part of the conversation Auntie Yimin and Xiaoli were having. Even though the qi was telling him all the details, he was fully focused on coming up with ideas and getting them down on paper.
Onyx’s input was especially useful, as he had met many people of all cultivation levels in his life and had witnessed each of their journeys, giving him a large pool from which to pull interesting perspectives.
Once Hei listened to all of Onyx’s rambling stories, he filtered out the reminiscence and focused on the relevant information.
Soon enough, he had gotten to a place he was happy with.
Most of what he felt was right was added onto the sheet of paper he was working on, so he started to speak his thoughts out loud in order for Auntie Yimin to possibly benefit from it, not knowing that she had already gained much.
“The essence of the minute realm is to think small. What is qi? Is it a flow of uniform units? That is how most people visualise it. As a stream of energy that flows through one’s body, with natural qi being a form which flows freely under the heavens. This conceptualisation works up to the transcendent realm, but when trying to break through to the minute realm, one needs to remodel one’s internal representation of natural qi.”
Auntie Yimin nodded her head. She had long since known of this.
“To say that it is a stream of uniform units; nothing can be further from the truth. It is already common knowledge that natural qi typically comes in five varieties, those being: water, fire, wind, metal and earth. But that is only scratching the surface. Even among the same element, there are various forms qi takes.”
Xiaoli perked her ears up. Hei had now gone past her experience.
“Before the minute realm, the idea of qi manipulation is quite narrow. Simply rotate the stream of qi within the body along predetermined paths and the desired result will appear.”
“Indeed, it does, but when one gains an understanding of the different forms qi comes in, they immediately realise that only a single component of qi is required to activate any given technique, and as such there is an immediate improvement in efficiency.”
Auntie Yimin watched as Xiaoli seriously listened to what she was being told. This girl had never strived to realise her potential, causing her to fall behind the boys. But now, it seemed she had changed her mind.
“This understanding that qi takes multiple forms is also the primary cause for the boost in lifespan and improvement in appearance people experience in the minute realm. As most people are already aware, the human body is not compatible with natural qi, thus requiring the spirit roots to brand it.”
Auntie Yimin responded.
“Are you saying there is a harmful element to qi? I always thought that natural qi was incompatible, but that branding it with our spirit roots converted it into something beneficial to us. It always seemed to be a good thing.”
“My point exactly, the fact that you immediately see benefits from cultivation, along with an increased life span, means that often times, people fail to recognise that qi, in its natural form, is quite poisonous. When one furthers their understanding of natural qi, they will be able to recognise the harmful elements and extract them from their bodies, increasing their health drastically.”
“Is that how it is?”
Auntie Yimin could easily accept this idea of qi having harmful properties. Her own problems were possibly caused by too much qi in her body.
“Then, how exactly does one break through to the minute realm?”
“To become a minute realm cultivator is to recognise one of these forms. As for the breakthrough process itself, one merely needs to utilise the form that they have recognised without drawing upon the rest of the qi within their body.”
She nodded her head.
“From there, progression within the minute realm comes from increasing your understanding of qi and the various forms it takes. With most people stopping at 10 forms, which symbolises the peak of the minute realm. Even after reaching 10 forms, there are still ways to increase efficiency by finding out which ratios of each kind of qi a given technique responds best with.”
“I suspect that there are even more forms beyond the 10 that most people recognise, but with everyone being so anxious to advance to the foundation establishment realm, they don’t take the time to fully explore the limits of their comprehension ability, thus missing out on another level of fine control.”
Hei's words were thought provoking. It was true. Most of the time people immediately rushed ahead to the next realm after reaching the peak. Not many would consider if there was more beyond the commonly known limits.
“Then, what about the specific elements? How should one go about recognising these different forms of qi?”
“When speaking of specific elements, what’s most important is your own interpretation of how they work. You must create a model in your mind that explains certain phenomena relating to that element. When that internal model matches with reality, you will naturally know. In order to create such a model, you should think about the properties of the element which you recognise. What is the predominant one? Focus on that and try to isolate it. For example, when it comes to the earth element, I find that…”
Hei went on to describe his own comprehensions of the earth element. It may not be directly helpful to Auntie Yimin, but he thought it would provide some insights.
Little did he know, his words were extremely effective. Before long, all three observers, Auntie Yimin, Xiaoli, and Yuying were entranced by his words. They all had earth element spirit roots, and thus this was useful to them, and especially so for Yuying, who, though she was still far from reaching the minute realm, had peerless grade earth element spirit roots. There wasn’t anything else she needed if one were speaking about comprehensions of elements.
Auntie Yimin and Xiaoli, on the other hand, both had dual element spirit roots, so they would also have to look at the other elements in the future.
At some point, and without her even realising it, Auntie Yimin had sparks going off all over her body. It wasn’t until they became painful that she hurriedly left. She would be taking her first steps out of the library in a long time.
No one noticed her exit. Hei was focused on explaining his understandings and taking down notes, and Xiaoli and Yuying were taking it all in.
After another while, Xiaoli found herself in the same situation. She got up and looked at Hei. It was a shame that she wouldn’t be able to listen to the rest, but there were pressing issues at hand.
After those two had left, it was just Hei and Yuying. One speaking and one listening.
A while later.
“That concludes what I have understood about the earth element so far. Now, if we are speaking about the fire element, most people automatically think of heat and destruction, which are very predominant aspects of fire, but I think that results in fire element cultivators boxing themselves in. Consider this…”
At this point, Yuying had taken in everything she had heard. Now that the topic had changed to the fire element, there was no longer anything for her to gain, so she snapped out of her daze.
“Um… Partner. No one’s there.”
“Hm? I see. Well, I’m about wrapped up here anyway.”
Hei sent everything he had done today to Bai through the communication system.
Yuying saw him get up from his chair.
“Is it time to move?”
Hei turned to the window and could see the orange glow of the sunset.
“Almost. But before that, there are two more things to do.”
“Oh? What’s that? Helping the other boy break through to the minute realm, and what else?”
Hei walked towards the door and the floating papers disappeared into his back as he exited the study.
“It’s time to move the puppets.”