Xue Ling felt that her heart was sinking uncontrollably, as if she fell into a deep chasm, slowly sinking to the bottom. Only darkness met her eyes.
Time seemed to have stopped. She had no clue as to how long she had been in the dark.
Time and space seemed to have been frozen, along with her brain.
Unsure of exactly when, Xue Ling jolted awake out of nowhere. There were spots of light glimmering in front of her, like the stars in the night sky.
Her state of mind was enlightened. She had a surge of inspiration as she got closer to the starlight.
As Xue Ling did, the spots turned into lumps of light,with a vague looking door in between them. She uncontrollably concentrated and walked into the door. A deafening sound rang in her ears right after.
The sound of crackling thunder-struck.
All seven thousand and eight hundred pores on her body opened and fused with the heavens and the earth. She was one with the mountains, the sea, and the land.
Activating Crescent Cryptic was no longer a tough feat. There was an endless breeze of fresh air that she was absorbing, she felt an abundance of vigor. An unbearable urge to scream into the sky filled her heart, releasing the state of euphoria she was experiencing.
Xue Ling opened her eyes. The sharp flash in her gaze slowly faded away. "Thank you, Master!"
Chu Li withdrew his finger and smiled. "Your comprehension isn't half bad."
Xue Ling immediately put up a big smile. "Master, am I an Innate Master now?"
Chu Li nodded.
Xue Ling gasped in admiration. "So this is Innate Mastery it indeed is very different!"
She felt her skills increase tenfold. The inner energy of Crescent Cryptic circulated continuously, like a river. There was a huge surge of power in her as if she was able to break the blue dome of heaven in one swing.
"Focus on cultivating Crescent Cryptic more these next few days. Stabilize your newfound skill. The feeling of invulnerability is just a delusion," said Chu Li.
"Got it," Xue Ling quickly answered.
The complacent feeling from Xue Ling immediately disappeared, and she calmed herself down. It seemed like the feeling of power and superiority was a common effect. It was not something particular to her. Innate Masters were not infallible.
Chu Li waved off his hand. Xue Ling tactfully stood and left.
She left Chu Li's room and arrived at the small courtyard, beginning her cultivation of Crescent Cryptic.
Xue Ling was able to tell the difference immediately. It was much easier and smoother to use Crescent Cryptic, and everything she had trouble understanding initially was now steadily flowing into her head. The use of her palm technique had become more natural for her. It was light and drifting.
The moment Xue Ling used Crescent Cryptic, her temperature went down incredibly quickly. Her inner energy passed on to her items. It was different. The real powers and qualities of Crescent Cryptic were finally able to be exhibited.
There were a few layers of formidable power to Crescent Cryptic. The first layer messed with the opponent's inner energy as well as slowed down their movements. As soon as an enemy came into contact with her inner energy, they would feel like they were frozen. The next layer of it would have immediately frozen one's heart, instantly killing them. The layer further beyond that was shapeless. A strand of extremely pure and exquisite Yin energy would build in the enemy, breaking the balance of their organs. This process would eventually cause an imbalance in their Yin and Yang, directly killing them.
The next few days, she either went to the Martial Arts Hall to visit Madam Su Yuting or cultivated in the courtyard. Xue Ling was now more adept at Crescent Cryptic.
Chu Li, on the other hand, had been visualizing the bone of the Spirit Tiger. He trained his vigor concisely, increasing the effects of Sun Cultivating White Tiger Portrait.
As his power increased, his body grew tougher and harsher. Chu Li's strength and speed were increasing exponentially. He gasped in admiration at how strong Sun Cultivating White Tiger Portrait was.
Sun Cultivating White Tiger Portrait was an antique study lost in history. It was said that studies like these were able to allow one to battle a Spirit Beast at even standing. In the end, humans had chased all the Spirit Beasts to the Hundred-Thousand Hills. Ever since then, the practice of these kinds of martial arts began to decline.
Chu Li had presumed that the Spirit Beasts at Hundred-Thousand Hills were the fundamentals.
Without Spirit Beasts, humans would not have been inspired to continue living. Martial arts had begun because of Spirit Beasts, after all. But now, people did not even know how a Spirit Beast looked like. They were unable to feel the pure vigor of a Spirit Beast. They had drawn the tigers as dogs. Because of that, the strength of martial arts was waning. It was much harder to reach Enlightened Mastery.
If one wanted to break into Enlightened Mastery, it was feared that they needed to enter Hundred-Thousand Hills. All Spirit Beasts in Hundred-Thousand Hills were fierce and harsh. Anyone below Enlightened Mastery was certain to not leave alive. Only death existed there. If one wanted to stay alive in Hundred-Thousand Hills, they needed every ounce of luck from the earth and the heavens.
Chu Li pondered to himself. His luck was not particularly bad, he would not have reincarnated into this world otherwise. Retaining his memories from his past life as well as having the Omniscient Mirror, Chu Li still dared not step into Hundred-Thousand Hills.
It was a shame that his knowledge from his past life proved to be useless in this world. What he had left was just an odd mindset to this world.
In the morning, after Xue Ling and Chu Li had their breakfast, Xue Ling saw Chu Li investigating the piece of bone again in the pagoda. She knew that he was going to take the entire morning and not care about anyone or anything else. Therefore, she left the courtyard and rowed to the Martial Arts Hall. Xue Ling wanted to find a secret guidebook.
After she broke into Innate Mastery, her views and feelings were different. She had a perspective different from before as she read secret guidebooks.
A light wind caressed her face, and the surface of the lake was clear and quiet. Xue Ling was leisurely rowing the boat across the lake in her white gown that fluttered along with the wind.
After about fifteen minutes, she reached the shore and stopped the boat, arriving at the loud and bustling training hall. Her bright eyes scanned the area, finally landing on Jiang Kuai in the crowd.
Jiang Kuai was chock full of experience and knew how to speak and act according to the situation. In only a few days, he had already peacefully meshed with the Protectors of the Public House. He made a few friends and went out for drinks every now and then. They were shoulder to shoulder, like a can of sardines.
Xue Ling was impressed with how smooth Jiang Kuai was. He was able to let go of his standing, even though he was a top Master with a great Light-body Technique. If it were her, she would not have even bothered with the scraps.
Even Master Chu Li could do as Jiang Kuai did. He did not like to speak and that alone was reason enough for people to dislike him. It was hard for him to find friends and play a bunch.
As soon as Xue Ling stepped into the training hall, everyone's gaze shifted to her.
Jiang Kuai went up to her in large strides, smiling the entire time.
"Miss Xue Ling? Why do you have time to visit today? How's Brother Chu doing?"
"Master is busying himself." Xue Ling shook his head. "How about you, Jiang Kuai?"
"Hehe." Jiang Kuai was in high spirits. "I've found a few birds of a feather, it's going alright. That reminds me, Miss Xue Ling, I'd like to have you refer me for some missions or at least something to do."
Jiang Kuai still took precautions in the Public House. He joined because of his wife and he had no real choice in the matter.
Up until his joining a few days ago, Jiang Kuai realized that he had overreacted too much. He had put himself too high up.
All the Protectors there were not ordinary, they lived a free and unconstrained life, and came and went as they wished. As long as they completed their missions and did not break the rules, they were able to do whatever they liked. No one cared. They could have gone off and played for one or two months and it would have still been fine since the missions quota was totaled up at the end of the year and calculated on an annual basis.
Jiang Kuai had been researching which missions to undertake.
He was unable to do business like he used to anymore. He spent a lot and needed more income. Since the salary of a mission was high, Jiang Kuai needed to just accept one and enjoy his life without worrying about basic necessities. It was also suffering to be too free. When one was too free, they undoubtedly hoped for some sort of change.
"You can find a job in town patrol. It's safe and you can become familiar with Chong Ming Town at the same time. It makes it easier to get used to the Public House," Xue Ling said.
"Town patrol?" Jiang Kuai muttered.
There were quite a few missions that needed town patrols and there were not that many people who took the town patrolling missions. It was quite desolate. Everyone there dreaded to do such missions, ones that posed no challenge. Its salary was not high either.
Xue Ling glared at him from the edge of her eyes. "It seems that Brother Jiang Kuai thinks that town patrol is pointless and boring?"
Jiang Kuai smiled. "The other guys don't really accept these kinds of missions."
"That's true, they're used to exciting missions. Town patrol is indeed, boring. Even with ten days under your belt, it's still not enough to earn equivalent to one day of a mission on the outside," said Xue Ling.
Jiang Kuai smiled. "What's special about this job, then?"
"Nothing." Xue Ling shook her head. "After all these years, there aren't many idiots who openly disregard the law in Chong Ming Town. There isn't much difference between a town guard and a night watchman, so their salaries aren't high. It's actually also to take care of the Protectors. Some Protectors are so mentally tired that they'd rather not go for a mission on the outside and endure the rain and the storms. Since they want a safe and sound life, they'd just partake in these kinds of missions."
"The Public House really cares about its people." Jiang Kuai praised the Public House.
He slowly began to believe in the Public House's magnanimity. They were lenient, warm, and their act was convincing. They let people work for them willingly and that was far different from what he had thought; arrogant and overbearing.
Xue Ling smiled. "You just joined us, Brother Jiang Kuai. It'd be better for you to start easy and slowly become more familiar with us. There's still a long road ahead, there's no need to rush."
"Very well. I'll listen to you, Miss Xue Ling," Jiang Kuai said heartily.