Editor: Actias Luna
Translator’s Note: Let me first apologize for the past month as 9 Coffins went on a bit of a hiatus without any prior warning. I had a bit of a health issue to deal with and wasn’t feeling really well. But I’m back now, with also a new editor helping me when the usual editor is busy. I will return back to minimum 3+ chapters each week, aiming to have at least 1 chapter each day, hopefully. 🙂
Chapter 11: Cultivation Resources
“I see, so this is the completed version of [Qing-Yun Sect’s Qi Formation] manual.” It was already well after nightfall, yet Fang-Xing was still awake sitting cross-legged on his bed, a thin booklet he had received after becoming an Outer Sect Disciple in front of him. The difference between this one and the last wasn’t huge: this completed version included such things as how to use the help of Spirit Stones to increase the flow of Qi and the elders of the Sect had left various comments and methods of training.
The simplified version handed down to the Daotongs was only there to see if someone was able to cultivate any Qi at all; there were no in-depth analyses of the tiers and stages. Besides, as a regular Daotong, they would be sent down to the villages once they’d worked at the Sect for ten years and the simplified version would come into the hands of the ordinary folks at the same time. Without including more details, comments, and methods, there was no risk of exposing the actual methods used for cultivation within the Qing-Yun.
Not even the Outer Sect Disciples had it easy. If an Outer Sect Disciple did not break through Tier Two within three years, they would also be sent down to the village, and even once they’d made it through, they would only be given another three years for Tier Three, and five years after that for Tier Four; the Sect was not a charity that keeps freeloaders.
Of course, the Sect wouldn’t force you to leave, but for those who decided to overstay, their resources would be cut drastically. In order to obtain all of the cultivation resources required to advance, you would either have to take up dangerous Sect missions or apply to work at one of the various departments within the Sect; like Yu, who has worked at the [Zasi Department] for a petty amount of resources and wages.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Still sitting cross-legged, Fang-Xing closed his eyes and began practicing Qi fluctuations. Beside him, a red Spirit Stone—floating in mid-air—shone brightly in the rhythm of his breaths.
This was a method described in his new manual: one was able to practice Qi fluctuations faster and much smoother with the aid of an outside spiritual source, such as a Spirit Stone.
Ever since Fang-Xing had become a real disciple at the Sect, he no longer used the method of Hwa’Jing; it was far too destructive to his body to outweigh the gains, and if he were to continue consuming Hwa’Jing, he would be unlikely to live past twenty years old. It was nothing more than a shortcut: both to cultivation and to the end of his life. Even at his current age—due to the excessive consumption of the weed—strands of grey hair could already be seen.
For those that were endowed with great Zi’Zhi, Qi fluctuations could be easily accumulated through simple breathing exercises even without any external help. Unfortunately this is not the case for those like Fang-Xing. Without using the weed, the next best method was through Spirit Stones or medicinal pills and elixirs, but since pills and elixirs were much more difficult to obtain, most cultivators typically only used them to break through a bottleneck. Spirit Stones, on the other hand, contained a large amount of concentrated Qi within itself, and with the method described in the new manual, Fang-Xing was able to withdraw the Qi inside the stone to use while doing breathing exercises.
This method does not hurt the host or—in this case—Fang-Xing’s body; on the contrary, it would actually improve his mind and health, increasing lifespan and longevity. However, with this method being far more gentle, it was also much slower in achieving higher tiers than the method using Hwa’Jing, and Spirit Stones were perhaps more valuable when used as a currency than cultivation materials. So if one were to lavishly rely on mostly Spirit Stones for Qi fluctuations, they would usually have to have an entire family fortune or sometimes even Clans and Sects behind them to support such monstrous consumption.
Even with that being said, it was definitely far more inviting than dying at the age of twenty.
As of right now, Fang-Xing was still quite new to this method. Guestimating that the stone would likely last no more than ten days with his current usage, he looked slightly troubled; with the small amount of Qi that he had already accumulated, if he does not accumulate more within fifty days, his progress will actually start to go backwards.
It was like when someone has just eaten and will have energy for the rest of the day, but if no one feeds them for the next few days, they would no longer have anymore energy; or, even worse, they would likely have even less energy than they had started with.
It was already the seventh year in the Outer Sect for Yu. Due to not having enough resources, he had gotten close to the second tier but had never actually managed to make it through. There had already been two times that he had almost been sent down to the village, but both times he somehow managed to bribe his way to stay and was now working ever so cautiously and conscientiously at the [Zasi Department].
Unfortunately, the more he does so, the less likely he would be able to gain extra income for the purpose of cultivation or have any time to actually practice Qi.
“No, I can’t be like this forever or I’ll turn into another Shixiong Zhu (Yu). I must do something…” Fang-Xing spoke softly to himself, his eyes opening suddenly while the Spirit Stone—no longer shining with a bright red light—dropped into his lap.
Laying the spirit stone in his palm, Xing-Fang thought to himself, ‘there’s over thousands of Outer Sect Disciples, and I’m sure there are plenty of those with rich families and clans behind them… Most of them may also be Ding ranked, but they’re rich, so even if they ran out of Spirit Stones, they could afford it with silvers and golds. But I’m penniless…
The bright moon hung innocently above the entire land of the [Qing-Yun Sect], most of its pupils either heavily asleep or quietly practicing their breathing exercises. No one would have thought that at this moment, their 10-year-old shidi was planning on something that involved their fortunes.
“Fang-Xing shidi! Are you there?”
Two weeks had passed since Xing-Fang had become a real disciple at the Sect and the only Spirit Stone he had was already completely used up. Just as Fang-Xing was staring blankly into space, someone from outside called his name: it was none other than the plump taoist Yu, a jug of wine and a bundle covered in lotus leaves in his hands.
While Yu was always seen bossing around the Daotongs, within the Outer Sect circle no one seemed to want to befriend him; not only was his cultivation level so low, but he was also quite poor. Now that Fang-Xing seemed to not mind him, he would come to drink and chat with him; it was already the second time that Yu had come to visit him in the past couple of weeks.
The rest of the disciples, however, would laugh at Yu’s actions of befriending a 10-year old child, especially since Yu was well in his 30s. Yet Yu didn’t mind; he had never had someone with whom he could eat and drink and laugh with until now.
“Come in, Shixiong Zhu!” Fang-Xing warmly greeted Yu to enter, but his body was so lazy that only his mouth bothered to move.
“I’ve told you so many times: my name is not Zhu, it’s Yu! Why can’t you even remember it…” As Yu walked in, he placed the wine and the bundle of lotus leaves on the table. With the leaves unwrapped, a roasted whole chicken was revealed, and even before Yu had filled up the wine, Fang-Xing had already started sending the meat down his throat.
“By the way, Shixiong Zhu, what did you say about this Black Market thing among us outer disciples?” With his mouth half full, Fang-Xing could not wait any longer to ask.
“It’s not Zhu, it’s Yu! Look at my mouth when I speak… YU!” Shaping his mouth like that of a fish, Yu then continued, “About that Black Market, well, even within the outer sect there are plenty of people with money or some pretty neat stuff that they don’t need. So a group of them started this Black Market where everyone can exchange for the stuff they actually need.
The Sect rules don’t actually allow private exchange markets since we are supposed to exchange for items we need with the Sect, but the exchange rates are so much worse and the items required for exchange are not always what we have or can easily get… And then there’s also those people who want to get rid of things that weren’t obtained through regular methods… so the Black Market happened.
No one knows who you are; everyone goes disguised and nobody will ever ask for your identity or how you got the item.”
“I see. Keep an eye out for me about the next Black market,” Fang-Xing asked, nodding his head.
“Why the hell do you need to know this? Do you even know how poor you are? Are you going to magically have something expensive to trade now? Do you know who has been paying for all of your expenses in the past month!” Raising his voice in disdain, Yu poured Fang-Xing more wine into his bowl.
“Just do as I say. It’s only like 100 silver taels; how stingy can you get! Just you watch, I’ll give you back double…”
“One hundred and TEN! Pfft, I don’t care if you give it back to me or not anymore… I know you’re poor as shit… Let’s just drink.”