Under the brilliant night sky, in the middle of the quiet dessert, Iron God's every word struck Li Yao and Ding Lingdang like a falling star, raising countless thoughts in their minds.
Li Yao and Ding Lingdang, exchanging a quick glance, said honestly, "We're sorry, Senior Yuan. We never truly understood the beliefs of the body fundamentalists until this moment."
Yan Ba sighed. Then he said slowly, "I'm 264 years old right now. Most of the Nascent Souls are around the same age as me. Even Sha Tianqing, the youngest Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator in the federation, is almost two hundred years old. That's why people call us 'old monsters'. Monsters we might be not, but old we really are.
"Two hundred years ago, I was born in a small village in the depths of the Grand Desolate Plateau. The villagers made a living by exploiting a mother lode nearby. My parents were the guardians that the Marvelous Fist Sect sent to protect the village.
"At that time, the demon race in the Heaven's Origin Sector hadn't been cleared up yet. The Grand Desolate Plateau was riddled with great demons' dens and even demon kingdoms. Fierce battles would break out every day.
"Since the human race wasn't able to control the entire Grand Desolate Plateau, the invasion of beast tides from the Blood Demon Sector was much more convenient than right now. They could congregate in unhabituated areas unhurriedly until their army was unfathomably large, before they paved a way of destruction and swallowed everything in their way.
"Before I was ten, I'd experienced dozens of beast tide outbreaks, more times than many Cultivators at present have seen in their entire lives.
"When I was eleven, I witnessed a beast tide devouring the blue sky, the vast earth, and also my hometown.
"My parents were not very talented, but they were both passionate about training. After they were stationed to the village, they'd trained hard every day. They were already in the high level of the Building Foundation Stage at that time. But so what?
"To cover the villagers' retreat, they charged into the beast tide unhesitatingly, only to be drowned in less than ten minutes.
"Because of their sacrifice, twelve children, including myself, were rescued by the reinforcements of the Marvelous Fist Sect in time. But the rest of the villagers, the homes, and the livestock were all consumed.
"After the beast tide ebbed and we returned to where the village used to be, there was no sign whatsoever that a village had been in this place. There were not even blood stains. Everything had been eaten up without leaving the slightest trace.
"For Cultivators who have been born in the recent hundred years, including your generation, you happen to be living in an era when the Star Glory Federation is thriving. In your eyes, a peaceful environment is a matter of course.
"But we the Nascent Souls were mostly born in the wartime. We've seen more tragedies than one can count. When we were young, none of us were certain before we went to sleep at night that the federation would still be there when we opened eyes again the next morning.
"Therefore, it goes without saying for us that if we do not stick together and try our best, the Star Glory Federation and the human civilization in the Heaven's Origin Sector are very likely to be wiped out. We know that after we are wiped out, there won't be monuments left in memory of us, but manure of the demon beasts.
"Beliefs? Conflicts about the right path of Cultivation?
"Is a saber better than a sword, or is it the other way around? Is spiritual energy particles or waves? In the eyes of the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators who have experienced true darkness in person, these conflicts are not conflicts at all.
"In my opinion, there is oneand only oneconflict that is worthy of noting, the conflict of the living space between mankind and foreign species in the sea of stars!
"In our case, the conflict is the life-and-death war between the Heaven's Origin Sector and the Blood Demon Sector!
"To build the Star Glory Federation into a stronger nation, to illuminate the universe with the torch of humanity. This is my beliefs and my path of Cultivation.
"If a saber can protect our nation and our civilization, I will use a saber.
"If a fist can do everything, I will use a fist.
"If guns are required, I don't mind blowing up the heads of the demon kings and demon emperors with roaring bullets.
"Most Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators share the same beliefs as me. That's why we were willing to burn our life and soul to condense precious spiritual seeds for Building Foundation Stage Cultivators such as you two.
"How about it? Do you still feel that there are contradictions in the beliefs you and I hold?"
Li Yao and Ding Lingdang were silent for a long time. Nothing could be heard in the dark desert except their heavy breathing. Looking at each other, they replied at the same time, "Senior Yuan, we are willing to accept your spiritual seeds!"
At five o'clock in the morning, in the bottom level of the underground training base, Li Yao was lying on a metal bed, his arms and legs stretched out, tied up by countless spiritual wires, with six artificial arms moving rapidly nearby.
The silver wall glided open silently. The artificial arms picked out a cold crystal cylinder in which a dazzling light spot was jumping and struggling like a transparent hedgehog.
It was a spiritual seed of a Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator.
An artificial arm placed the crystal cylinder on Li Yao's forehead, while others took out quite a few metal rings and bound them together.
In the end, a piece of magical equipment which could release high-pressure air current was placed behind the cylinder.
"Li Yao, are you ready? There might be a little pain," a gentle voice said.
Taking a long breath, Li Yao made an 'OK' gesture.
"Acknowledged. Spiritual seed injection engaged in five, four, three, two, one. Activate!"
After a feeble sound, the spiritual seed inside the crystal cylinder was gone.
Li Yao screamed desperately. Veins all over his body were bulging out. His bloodshot eyes were wide open. His two hands left ten deep scratches on the metal bed below him!
At ten o'clock in the morning, in a gravity room of the underground training base
The gravity was adjusted to one tenth of the standard gravity. A mild breeze was blowing.
Li Yao and Ding Lingdang were almost naked, except for the simple cloth covering their private parts. Their hands open, they were floating in midair.
Countless colorful jade spiders were crawling over their bodies.
While the spiders were crawling, they were also pricking Li Yao's and Ding Lingdang's skin, resulting in many miniature flecks. The miniature flecks were gradually connected and constituted two arcane patterns.
Sitting in front of them in the air was a plump, beautiful, middle-aged lady whose skin was covered in brilliant tattoos with barely any blank space. With a close look, even her pupils were filled with complicated spiritual tattoos, which were dancing in her eyes like countless spirits.
The middle-aged lady was drawing seals rapidly with her hands while casting spells with her mouth. Innumerable octagonal, shining runes were circling her.
Her hands seemed to be attached to thousands of spiritual threads, each linked to one jade spider which was painting on their bodies like pens.
Li Yao's and Ding Lingdang's eyelids were trembling violently. Biting their lips hard, they were not even able to grunt.
The spiritual seed injection just now was painful enough. They'd never expected that the pain of tattooing would be no less excruciating.
However, they were not in the least discontented. In fact, they were quite excited, because the 'middle-aged lady' in front of them was actually 'Miraculous Marker' Xie Ling, widely regarded as the best spiritual tattooist in the Star Glory Federation, who was more than 250 years old.
After watching the files and combat videos of all the Orb Patrollers, Xie Ling decided to draw spiritual tattoos on five of them, including Li Yao and Ding Lingdang!
The powerful spiritual tattoos created by spiritual tattooists were not bearable for every Cultivator.
It was especially so in the case of the spiritual tattoos produced by a Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator such as Xie Ling. Common Cultivators would find it impossible to withstand her work at all.
It was also one of the most important reasons why body practitioners continued to exist.
Many incredible spiritual tattoos were only useful for and could only be utilized by body practitioners.
Li Yao's astonishing defense ability and unparalleled body toughness had earned him a spiritual tattoo to be crafted by Xie Ling herself.
As for other Orb Patrollers who were not qualified to get the spiritual tattoos, they were allowed to pick one or two invaluable treasures at their will from Occult Orbs Fellowship's treasury.
As Xie Ling's hands moved faster and faster, the jade spiders' movement speed increased. Two ultimate spiritual tattoos whose ink was refined out of thousands of Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures gradually took shape.
Ding Lingdang's body was covered in a nine-headed dragon condensed in flames from her chest to her back. As she breathed, the dragon seemed to be rushing and roaring in clouds.
On Li Yao's body, it was a vintage crimson phoenix which was extending its wings, ready to chase wind and lightning. Its extremely long tails spread to his four limbs like nine chains of blood.
"Cha!" Xie Ling bellowed. All the jade spiders jumped off their bodies and returned to her Cosmos Ring.
The grand spiritual tattoos, after glittering momentarily, vanished and sank into their flesh and blood.
At first look, their skin was as smooth and clean as before. There were no traces of the tattoos at all.
This was due to the 'Ink Burying' skill. The spiritual tattoos would be hidden inside the flesh and blood normally, which would neither affect their daily training nor be seen through by the enemy easily.
Only during fierce combat, when the spiritual energy was bursting out, would the spiritual tattoos reveal themselves.
The two tattoos were tailor-made by Xie Ling after studying their files and combat videos repetitively according to their respective specialties. There wouldn't be a second tattoo like them in the entire world.
Ding Lingdang's spiritual tattoo was called 'Blazing Hydra'. It would be triggered based on her rage. The angrier she became, the more it would bring up the efficiency of her fiery spiritual energy.
In her most furious state, the spiritual tattoo could improve her combat ability by more than 30%.
Li Yao's spiritual tattoo was named 'Immortal Phoenix', which would be triggered by his blood. The more he bled, the better his spiritual tattoo would work, and the higher his combat ability would become.
In other words, with this spiritual tattoo, he would be the strongest when he was the most seriously wounded.
Of course, both 'Blazing Hydra' and 'Immortal Phoenix' boiled down to the stimulation of central nerves and brain cells in order to activate the body's hidden potential. It equaled to burning their own life.
But as Cultivators, was their purpose not to ignite themselves and illuminate the entire universe?
It was 1:32 p.m. at this moment.
There were five days until the first launch of Heaven's Artillery.