A week later, Xiao Hong finally opened her eyes which glowed like stars on the night of New Moon.
“Phew…” She let out a turbid breath. “I benefited from a disaster and managed to significantly increase my Soul Cultivation.”
Xiao Hong smiled drily, “It’s just that the pain is definitely not worth it and doing it too often will probably result in me going crazy.
“STATUS: Soul Cultivation”
Soul: 4th Stage Violet Soul (2nd Disaster Equivalent)
She got up, patted the dust off her butt and looked up in determination. She had decided not to remove the Ancient God Physique Cultivation Scripture from its slot. Because it was her greatest hope to achieve Nirvana before 30. She had removed the Celestial God’s Essence Cultivation and the Spirit God’s Soul Cultivation Method from the slots. Mainly because they consumed too many resources. Resources she might not be able to gather.
Moreover, even if there were no high-level cultivators in the Demon Beast Haven Realm, the fluctuations from cultivating either of them were too obvious and even someone at the same cultivation level as her would be able to sense it.
So she decided to only keep the Ancient God’s Physique Cultivation Scripture in its slot. At least when she was out and about. All the other times she would slot in both of them.
While Body Cultivation did not improve her Essence much, it was still part of the Immortal Path. If she managed to attain Nirvana in the way of Body-Refining, she would have a chance to attain Nirvana before 30 through her Essence as well.
Why? Because any living being’s Body, Soul and Essence are extremely closely related. They might be different entities but they still come together to make a living being. The resonance effect between the three will also increase her talent in Essence Cultivation! This was why Xiao Hong placed all her hopes on the Ancient God’s Physique Scripture.
People might say ‘Don’t place all your eggs in one basket’, but she had only one fucking basket alright?! Cut her some slack!
Xiao Hong shook her head.
“Alright, now that I’ve completely healed up, it’s time to harvest some Beast Crystal Cores and refine some pills!” she pumped herself up.
Xiao Hong realised that she might not be the protagonist after all.
Because the moment she popped out of the ground and looked around, the shrill cry of an eagle pierced her eardrums!
Without a second thought, she used the Star Shifting Steps!
She reappeared several metres away, staggering.
“Ugh!” she grunted, grimacing in pain while clutching her left shoulder which was bleeding profusely. Looking up at the Sky, she noticed an enormous Eagle more than thrice her own size was already slicing through the air towards her, its talons poised to grab her!
‘Dammit! A Rank 3 mid-stage aerial Beast! What kinda shit luck do I have?!’ Xiao Hong almost cried. ‘Moreover, it is a Jade Zephyr Great Eagle!’
Star Shifting Steps!
She executed her movement Art yet again, while also making 18 complex hand seals.
Spirit Transformation Art: level 2! Instantly, her aura exploded; reaching thrice her original intensity!
Executing her movement art again, she appeared directly above the Jade Zephyr Great Eagle and slammed her Palm downwards.
Essence Annihilation Palm!
Xiao Hong’s Qi formed a massive palm more than twice the Jade Zephyr Great Eagle’s size and slammed towards the eagle. The Qi that constructed the palm had a strange vibration to it that caused a sinister screeching noise as it hurtled through the air.
The Jade Zephyr Great Eagle rolled in the air until its talons faced Xiao Hong’s Essence Annihilation Palm and flapped, producing wind blades even longer than her palm!
With an eardrum-piercing screech, the two attacks collided, but unlike what the Jade Zephyr Great Eagle expected, the Essence Annihilation Palm only slowed down for a bit before it continued on its way. Wind blades were actually not very stable attacks. Because wind by itself has a ‘free’ nature and likes to ‘flow’. It does not like being ordered into a blade. So the high-frequency vibration of the Essence Annihilation Palm was exactly its nemesis.
The Jade Zephyr Great Eagle was shocked and flapped its wings yet again, sending wind blades by the dozens, slowing the Essence Annihilation Palm. Just enough for gusts of green wind to surround its body and flap its wings, generating a tremendous force pushing it far into the distance.
Yet, what greeted it in the distance was a ginormous Serpent made of Dark Flames radiating so much heat it felt it might become barbeque if it got close!
The Jade Zephyr Great Eagle’s eyes widened in terror. It immediately dived downwards. Yet, just below, it noticed a bright flash of purple lighting! The most recent advancement in her Soul allowed her to multi-task and control two things at once!
The bolt of purple lightning was so fast that the Jade Zephyr Great Eagle barely had time to move its body slightly to try and dodge it!
However, the bolt of purple lightning which was actually the Leiying Sword, was way too fast causing the Jade Zephyr Great Eagle to be unable to completely dodge it.
“Qiu”! The Jade Zephyr Great Eagle cried out in terrible pain as one of its wings was almost sliced off!
Without the support of its wings, it fell to the ground. As an avian it depended on its wings to fly. The Jade Zephyr Great Eagle - which has crashed into the ground - was promptly attacked by the Dark Flame Serpent, almost blasting it apart and thus immediately ending its life.
Xiao Hong did not let down her guard and used her newly advanced Divine Sense to carefully scan nearly a 400-metre radius, before using her eyes to look farther away. Only after she was sure she wasn’t in any immediate danger did she dare to let down her guard.
“That was not bad…” Xiao Hong evaluated the fight. “It seems I’ve improved quite a bit.”
She had long figured out that her talent in battle was just as shit as her Talent in other things. Qiao Guiying had been genuinely confused when they had sparred and when she had Xiao Hong fight the Demon Beasts. How could this girl be so talented at everything else but not fighting? After all, talent in fighting is highly dependent on one’s comprehension. Because battles at a similar level of power boil down to high-speed decision-making. With enough experience, anyone could become better at it.
With Xiao Hong’s ‘insane comprehension ability’ she should learn quickly even if she did not have some bullshit Innate Battle Body or something. But Qiao Guiying was utterly baffled by Xiao Hong’s shitty talent.
In the end, Qiao Guiying just chalked it up to ‘Sister Hong being too kind’.
When Xiao Hong understood what she meant by ‘being too kind’, she really wanted to use Earth Burrow and hide deep under the ground to escape embarrassment!
Even now her brain would bring up those embarrassing memories when she tried to rest!
Xiao Hong shook her head to rid her thoughts of embarrassing memories.
She walked up to the Jade Zephyr Great Eagle’s enormous form. More than half of its beautiful cyan feathers had now turned to ashes. Its sharp, hooked beak was now full of cracks. The enormous wings that supported it to soar in the skies with unmatched grace were now broken and tattered.
Yet, even in death, its corpse radiated a majesty that came from its decades of ruling the Skies.
Xiao Hong sighed, feeling it was a pity to kill such a magnificent creature, before shaking her head, ‘This is a world of kill or be killed. I would have been the one in its belly if I were any weaker.’
She walked up to the creature’s fallen form and started to dissect its head. After a bit of effort, she managed to extract the Beast Crystal Core from its body.
Xiao Hong looked at the table tennis ball-sized, spherical Beast Crystal Core that lay in her palm with great interest and hope. After all, it might hold the key to her current circumstances!
Clutching it tightly in her hands, she decided to return to the underground cavern she’d made herself and refine the Yuan Essence Pill.
Activating Earth Burrow once again, she sank down into the ground.
About half an hour later, Xiao Hong looked at the two crystalline Perfect Quality Pills that lay on her right hand in a daze. Her hand shook as it clenched into a fist, completely crushing the Pills into dust.
“... It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work at all!” Just like that, the hopes she had for this supposed miraculous Pill were dashed.
The Yuan Essence Pills were simply the highly refined and purified Yuan Essence that seemed to be abundant in the atmosphere. The Demon Beasts born here, in the Demon Beast Haven Secret Realm, had refined Yuan Essence into their Beast Crystal Cores. Now the Alchemists, using a recipe, were able to further refine it into pills for human consumption.
This Yuan Essence Pill was a great tonic that helped the other Disciples speed up their rate of cultivation. But for Xiao Hong who had a system that could directly refine the Yuan Essence in the atmosphere, it was utterly useless!
Her jaw clenched as she tried to hold back her emotions, taking deep breaths to relieve the tightness in her chest. After a while, looked up at the ceiling of her underground lodging, trying her best to gulp down that weird feeling at the back of her throat, “The Heavens really are cruel…”
Reading this phrase in her previous life brought chuckles and eye-rolls from her previous incarnation, ‘Yeah, yeah, now spurt blood because the protagonist learnt in a few tries a Technique you took a few centuries to learn!’
But now that she was facing the same despair, she did not find it so funny anymore. Considered purely objectively, her situation was worse: she was surrounded by extremely talented disciples of the Purple Spirit Sect - a Super Faction that could be considered among the strongest in the Eastern Mystic Continent and even the Great Mystic World! Even if the disciples were only Outer Disciples, they were geniuses among geniuses when compared to the rest of the World. Xiao Hong’s talent was truly utter trash compared to them.
She was ecstatic to have been taken away from that shitty life, awaken a system, get super awesome superpowers, become extremely attractive and desirable and become a monstrously talented Alchemist. It was practically a dream!
She was shown a life so much better than her previous life that she believed that she would have wholeheartedly accepted her new gender without question. It was even better than the wildest dreams of her previous incarnation!
It was just that, now she seemed doomed to a life of mediocrity. Yet again. It was a revelation that hit her like a sack of bricks, breaking all the illusions she had. She was still the same, just in a much better packaging.
Moreover, without the halo of a ‘genius’ she would not be worth as much to the Sect and their protection of her would vanish.
There was a reason the Sect required one to attain Nirvana before 30. Upon failing to achieve Nirvana before 30 one’s potential for future cultivation would be greatly reduced and their chances of reaching Fusion Realm would be non-existent. This was why all Deacons and Elders of the Outer Sect were at most at peak Celestial Bridge. Even the strongest among the Outer Sect were only at the half-step Fusion Realm.
And Alchemy Grade 5 onwards had extremely high requirements on cultivation! Grade 5 and Grade 6 required one to have Fusion Realm cultivation. Because only Fusion Realm experts were able to reach the insane level of Zhenqi control required for fusing the medicinal properties of Spiritual Herbs at that level.
So, in the eyes of the Sect, if she failed to achieve Nirvana before 30, she was unlikely to ever become a Grade 5 Alchemist, no matter how talented she was in Alchemy. And for the Sect overall, Grade 4 Alchemist was not that great an asset. They had enough Grade 4 Alchemists, one more or one less would not matter. A Grade 4 Alchemist might mean a lot in the Outer Sect, but in the Inner Sect, it wasn’t much.
It was just a matter of time before she was screwed. In many ways.
For example, Qiao Xuan. If she could not achieve Nirvana and enter the Inner Sect within a certain amount of time, she was done for. Qiao Guiying may be able to help her, but not for long.
She had contemplated running away from the Sect. But that was not feasible either. It wasn’t that she could not leave the Sect. The Sect did not mind mere Outer Disciples leaving. As for spreading their Secret Techniques? That was impossible since one leaving was made to swear on the Heavenly Way that they would not spread their Techniques. If one breached such an oath they would be punished by the Heavens!
Even though she did not have access to records of people being punished by the Heavens for breaching such an oath, it was proof enough that no one dared to do so.
But what would happen after she was not a member of the Sect? There was no need to even think about it - she knew the answer.
As for simply leaving with the excuse of missions or something? Yeah, no. That was purely courting death. The Sect would assume you’d betrayed the Sect and send out people to hunt you down!
She did not dare to think she could escape the pursuit of a Super Faction like the Purple Spirit Sect!
It was impossible to feign death as well because the Sect had a stone tablet for every disciple that would indicate their health - it merely indicated whether the disciple was dead or alive. But that was enough.
Maybe she could go MIA? Yeah, right. Like she could fool people with vastly superior cultivation and experience.
Plopping down onto the ground, she smiled bitterly, ‘Yeah… Why did I ever think I could ever become better?
‘Just because I have a system?
‘Just because I am a Jade Beauty?’
She stared up at the ceiling of her underground cave, lost in her thoughts. It was only after a long while that she came out of her daze.
“No.” She clenched her fist, “It is just one of the paths that were cut off. There should be other ways! There definitely are other ways to increase one’s talent! I just have to find it!”
She once again strengthened her resolve and got to her feet.