Three seconds later, Li Yao returned. His eyebrow was furrowed, as if he were considering a very complicated academic problem.
Xie Anan shivered and asked respectfully, "Master Li Yao, can I help you with anything else?"
After witnessing Li Yao's marvelous training method, she didn't dare to address him as 'Senior Brother' right now.
Li Yao said, "The Skyhill Sword Seminar will start accepting the contestants tomorrow. I wonder, is there any place nearby that I can crash at for the night?"
Xie Anan answered hurriedly, "Yes. There is a 'Pillar Villa'. It is both beautiful and magnificent. Many famous refiners like to stay there. On the other hand, the Mountain Moon Hotel, downtown, is the most luxurious local hotel. The facilities and the service are both pleasing. The transportation is convenient, too. Do you prefer quietness or liveliness? I can help you book a Leader Suite right now!"
Li Yao coughed and replied, expressionlessly, "That won't be necessary. I prefer to keep a low profile. A regular motel will be good."
"It will be best if the price is decent. Windowless rooms will do for me."
Half an hour later, Xie Anan, who had been seriously shocked, finally returned to the bamboo woods.
The descendants of the noble families had finished their competition. They had moved to the edge of the bamboo woods and were sat near a running river. Delicious food had been placed on the ground. Everybody was toasting, talking, and laughing. The ambience was quite sparkling.
"What took you so long? You missed a splendid great show! The competition just now was very close. I only won by luck in the last subject!"
Long Yunxin dragged Xie Anan over to her side and sat her down. Then she placed two shrimps into her bowl before opening her mouth again reproachingly. "It's not easy to have so many rightful heirs of the noble families gathered together from everywhere in the sea of stars. I brought you here so that you could open your eyes, but you ditched them at the critical moment. How silly of you!"
Xie Anan was still in a trance.
The cuisine that everybody was eating was no doubt the best food. Some of the dishes were seafood delivered from various world fragments, and some were the meat of rarely-seen animals.
However, for some reason, it was Li Yao's chive pies and soybean milk that kept popping up in front of his eyes.
Long Yunxin frowned. She pinched her softly and said, "What happened? Is your 'expert' friend alright?"
She accentuated the 'expert' part.
Xie Anan was back to herself. She calmed herself down and asked curiously, "Sister Long, how do top refiners such as yourself train the sensitivity of your hands?"
"Why are you suddenly interested in that? The Long family does not have any special methods to train the sensitivity of our hands. However"
Long Yunxin smiled. "Brother Long from the Luo family of East Brightness and our host, Brother Tu here, both inherited the training methods of their family that attached great importance to the sensitivity of the hands. Why don't you ask them to give you an introduction?"
Luo Dong laughed. Not keeping anything to himself, he put his chopsticks down and showed everyone his hands that looked like two giant white jades.
He explained proudly, "The refining style of the Luo family is best known for fast hands and keen sensitivity. Our training method is not a secret. It is known as 'Green Jade Hand'.
"It is a Cultivation art that must be studied from an early age. From the moment a child in my family is born, we must crumble the best jade into powder and smear the powder onto the child's hands before washing and soaking them in secret medicine. Days, years, and decades. There can't be any pause. It is tedious work. Normal people would find it hard to persist for so long.
"We all know that jades are connected to the divinities. This Cultivation art transfers the essence to the jades to the hands of a refiner. When it is performed at the ultimate level, the hands become connected to the divinities, too. Hahahaha!
"The way I train my hands is nothing interesting, except for a little bit of money and effort. The Tu family's training method is the really appalling one. Brother Tu, why don't you explain it to Sister Xie here?"
Tu Yongqing smiled and extended his hands, too.
On his hands, there were countless miniature hollows.
Tu Yongqing said, "The Tu family's method of training hands barely costs any money.
"As everybody knows, there is an eccentric fruit named 'Red Caltrop' in nature which has poisoned thorns on it, and when the thorns touch the skin, it can be quite painful.
"The people of the Tu family have trained with the Red Caltrop since they were little kids. We were asked to clench two Red Caltrops in each hand all the time. Eating, exercising, sleeping. We had to do everything with them. One is pricked if one is sloppy for one second. The pain can be excruciating, but we can never let the Red Caltrop go.
"As we grow older, the number of the Red Caltrops gradually increases. In the end, we will be holding almost ten Red Caltrops in our hands while doing everything normally without being affected by them. This is the start line for us."
While he was talking, Tu Yongqing waved his hands. Almost ten red fruits that looked like hedgehogs appeared in his palm, emitting blood red brightness.
No one knew where he had been hiding the Red Caltrops. A round of exclamations burst out.
Xie Anan's eyes suddenly shined. She blurted out, "Brother Tu, your training method is amazing. But have you ever heard a similar method that relies on Purple Ring Sword Ants instead of Red Caltrops?"
Tu Yongqing was dazed for a moment. Before he could open his mouth, Luo Dong had already burst into laughter. "What kind of method is that? The pain of the Purple Ring Sword Ants' bite is ten times sharper than that of the Red Caltrop. One nibble is enough for one to collapse and cramp. How are they going to train themselves if so?
"Besides, the Purple Ring Sword Ants are aggressive insects. They can't be kept still in the palm and behave nicely like Red Caltrops!
"Moreover, Cultivators all boast tremendous physical strength. When they are bitten by a Purple Ring Sword Ant, they will probably crush the ant to death immediately. How many Purple Ring Sword Ants will they have to capture every day for their daily training?"
Tu Yongqing smiled and added elegantly, "I've heard a thing or two about the training method based on eccentric insects that Sister Xie mentioned just now.
"Many notes of the ancient Cultivators have recorded training methods with insects. Training with the Purple Ring Sword Ants was one of the most advanced techniques.
"However, most of the notes are not very detailed. They are generally legends or urban tales.
"In my opinion, training one's sensitivity with the Purple Ring Sword Ants is too preposterous. What kind of monster could bear such agony?
"There are many similar uncanny stories of the ancient Cultivators. They belong to the ancient times anyway. Although they created a brilliant civilization, their understanding of nature, the universe, and everything in between is quite shallow. Sometimes, to attract more followers and disciples, they tended to overstate things on purpose. Their words were further misinterpreted during the dissemination. Gradually, Cultivation became a groundless business.
"Cultivators today definitely have to learn from the ancient Cultivation world, but we shouldn't blindly follow whatever has been said. We need to keep the essence and dump the garbage.
"Such a training method with the Purple Ring Sword Ants must've been the bluffing of the ancient people; it is undoubtedly garbage that is best thrown away.
"Sister Xie, hear my words. There are no shortcuts on the road of Cultivation. One cannot fly into the sky with just one leap. You must not be fooled by the weird training methods that involved strange insects.
"If you want to train the sensitivity of your hands, I can offer you a few Red Caltrops and teach you some basic skills. You can have a go with them first.
"But I need to remind you first: it won't be the most pleasant experience to be pricked by them!"
Friendly laughter burst out.
Xie Anan's cheeks turned red. Countless thoughts rolled to the tip of her tongue, but she didn't know where to begin. She was lost for a moment and eventually sat back to focus her attention on the shrimps in her bowl.
Since the topic at hand was training, the party turned spirited again. Everybody started talking about how hard their training had been, what kind of suffering they had endured, and such.
Xie Anan was quite upset. She left the party with an excuse and rambled through the bamboo woods.
Without her knowing, she had gone further and further and ended up at the pond where the competition was held a moment ago.
The water in the pond was clear. The rocks were gloomy. Almost ten rusty blades that had been left unattended were still stabbed into the ground. Li Yao's carefully polished chainsword was also standing in the middle of the queer rocks proudly.
The sword was lackluster. Everyone could tell that it was far from everyone else's brilliantly shining swords. Since Li Yao had left early, the sword was left in its original place. No one had bothered to pick it and compare it with the other swords.
Xie Anan was suddenly curious. She uprooted the chainsword and observed it carefully.
She had been born into a noble family of refining. Although her own expertise was not very impressive, she still had the basic sense of appreciation. She could tell that, although the chainsword was entirely renewed with all its components neatly joined and all the rune arrays cleared up, it was indeed somewhat dumb. Satisfactory it was, but extraordinary it was not.
Xie Anan sighed softly. Deep in thought, she touched the body of the sword.
Suddenly, her eyes narrowed.
There was something on the body of the sword.
Although she couldn't see it, she discovered, by feeling with her fingertips, that there were multiple secret stream-like spiritual stripes that interweaved into linked, inconspicuous rune arrays.
Twelve-chain Thunder Runes!
Master Li Yao has carved Twelve-chain Thunder Runes with the most ordinary pebbles on a chainsword made of super alloys!
How could it be!
So many people were present, and everybody was looking at him in the end. But he carved the ancient runes, which escaped everyone's attention. Sister Long, Brother Tu, Brother Luo None of them noticed anything wrong!
He he was right. The skill disparity between them is too huge. Crushing. This was definitely a crushing match!
Xie Anan couldn't help but input a stream of spiritual energy into the chainsword.
In a moment, a series of secret runes suddenly glittered on the chainsword, which then constituted twelve complicated rune arrays. All the patterns seemed to have been drawn in one stroke. There was not the slightest hindrance or disruption.
Dull thunder rumbled inside the bamboo woods, as if a storm were coming!
With the Twelve-chain Thunder Runes, the strength of the chainsword is at least doubled! Although the runes are too shallow to be used repetitively, it is still terrifying!
Xie Anan was shocked. She suddenly thought of something else.
In the first round of the sword-tasting get together, one of the refiners proposed objections to Fiend Star's theories with the 'Twelve-chain Thunder Runes' as her argument.
"I believe that the Twelve-chain Thunder Runes are only suitable for ancient blades that are much simpler in structure. For modern sabers and swords that are always made of hundreds of components, adding such ancient runes recklessly will only cause conflicts among the previous rune arrays. The more favorable outcome would be that the spiritual energy is jammed and the rune arrays malfunctioned. But if things took a turn for the worse, the spiritual energy might be chaotic enough to collapse the magical equipment!
"Therefore, Fiend Star's theories sound perfect, but they are just hypotheses in the perfect scenarios. It is impossible to put them into practice in reality!"
The above was exactly what the refiner had said.
Xie Anan shivered.
Could it be that Master Li Yao was not unfamiliar with theories, but he preferred to crumble the opposition of Fiend Star with actions instead of words because he really is a hardcore believer of Fiend Star?
At the other end of the bamboo woods, airy laughter broke out. There was no telling what marvelous points had just been brought up by the young people of the noble families.
Xie Anan touched the Twelve-chain Thunder Runes, dumbfounded.
This chapter is for your patience and tolerance. The remaining chapters will be published according to our schedule (21:00 <UTC+8> every day).