Chapter 7: The Difficulties of Cultivating
han li slowly transferred energy from his meridians back to his dantian. he had managed to reach the 7th cycle of qi circulation today, and han li knew that his body had already reached the limit of what it could handle. if he were to try to do another cycle, all his meridians would completely rupture, inciting a pain worse than death. even though he was a courageous person, han li couldn’t help but break out in cold sweat at the thought of this pain.
it had already been half a year since han li joined the sect, and the official unofficial disciple exam had ended slightly over two months ago.
only a small portion of the unofficial disciples were officially promoted to the inner branch. most unofficial disciples weren’t able to pass this point and had no other choice but to pack their belongings and become a disciple of the outer branch.
the children that didn’t pass would generally enter the treasure gathering division or the flying bird division. for those that showed outstanding performances, they would receive another step further in their training and would then have the chance to join the more respected external blade division. of course, it was only natural that the four seas division was the most respected of the four divisions, but unfortunately, they only accepted those that made names for themselves through their martial arts. if one didn’t have a certain level of expertise in martial arts, it was pointless for them to even dream about joining the four seas division; these immature and inexperienced children were even less worthy of any mention.
when han li recalled the details of the examination from two months ago, he couldn’t help but feel a bit frightened.
a few dozen miles away from the celestial rainbow mountains was a neighboring desolate mountain where a group of people were sparring. there were a few senior disciples who excelled in martial arts and were fiercely locked in combat. with each and every test, han li couldn’t help but feel a little bit of joy at the misery of others.
during their entire stay at the seven mysteries sect, han li and zhang tie had never taken such a terrifying test before. doctor mo had said that his examination would only test them on the cultivation chant, but han li didn’t believe the test would be as easy as it sounded. looking back, han li could clearly remember the intense effort he had to put into his cultivation.
according to doctor mo, this oracular chant was only a single part of a set. within half a year, han li and zhang tie had successfully comprehended the first layer of the cultivation chant, which doctor mo would be examining. if the two were able to overcome doctor mo’s expectations, then they could become doctor mo’s personal disciples and even share the same benefits as the inner disciples.
not to mention, han li had also heard from others that the treatment the inner disciples and outer disciples received was so vastly different that it spoke volumes of how enormous of a difference there was between the two. he then realized how ignorant he had been and cast away any thoughts of becoming an inner disciple. han li would be satisfied by just joining the seven mysteries sect and receiving some silver to send back to his family. everything else had seemed irrelevant because, above all else, he truly desired to help his poverty-stricken family. his only goal was to be able to take money home so he could provide his family with a better life.
after learning doctor mo’s chant, han li had not once stopped cultivating. he spent every possible moment of day and night relentlessly practicing the chant. because doctor mo hadn’t given them any pointers on how to cultivate, han li could only theorize by himself. after discussing with other young cultivators, he discovered they were using the seven mysteries sect’s “positive yang energy”, a self-meditated cultivation method.
relying on both the chant and the positive yang energy, he cultivated assiduously for 3 months, but han li was shocked to realize that his progress was extremely slow! he had spent a great deal of effort and yet he was rewarded with one small thread of cool energy inside of his body. the energy was so infinitesimal that he could barely notice that it was there. if he hadn’t checked his body carefully for results, he would not have noticed the strand of energy.
could this be the rumored true qi the instructors had talked about? han li suddenly came to this realization.
the other disciples cultivating the positive yang energy had told him that there was a distinct flow of warm energy and qi being generated within their bodies. however, the thread of energy in han li’s body was extremely cold, completely opposite from the energy gained from cultivating positive yang energy! looking at the results, it was obvious han li was very far behind the other disciples.
those who used the true qi from the positive yang energy cultivation were able to punch a fist-sized hole through a small tree trunk and leap three meters into the air. han li, however, after circulating the strange qi in his body, felt practically no different from his normal state. the only difference he could tell was that his spirit was more vigorous and his appetite was even more ravenous than before he came to the mountain. but what use was that? seeing that the other children on the mountains were gaining ridiculous power, han li couldn’t help but feel dejected.
after realizing that he had barely made any progress, han li had nearly given up on his several months of hard work. he thought that with such a huge gap between himself and the others, he would not have a chance to catch up to the other children in the remaining amount of time before doctor mo’s test and successfully pass it. it would be better to plan for his trip back home instead.
incidentally, han li one day came across the cultivating zhang tie and realized something. ever since zhang tie had started his cultivation with this mysterious oracular formula chant, his body showed no changes at all. there was no effect; not even a small amount of true qi could be seen!
knowing that he had at least succeeded in forming one strand of true qi, han li regained the confidence he had thrown away earlier. with the remaining amount of time, he furiously tried to cultivate the oracular chant.
he worked even harder than before, training like a madman.
han li began to use every single second to meditate and cultivate. even when he was sleeping, he kept his body upright in a meditative position in hopes of having even a slight breakthrough. of course, this intensive training method could not be maintained for longer than a few days. if he strained himself past his limit, his lack of sleep would make him unable to efficiently cultivate.
what puzzled han li the most was that after doctor mo imparted the oracular chant to the two of them, he stopped interacting with them. even their questions on cultivation had been ignored by him as if he did not even notice their existence.
every day, doctor mo would bring out the book with the three black characters written on the back cover and study it, staring intently as if the lines of text outlined the image of a beautiful woman and the cover was made of pure gold. at the beginning, han li and zhang tie thought that doctor mo no longer wanted to be a medical doctor but rather was studying bitterly to pass an imperial exam. after the two children learned to read, however, they recognized the three words on the back cover, which read “scripture of longevity.” doctor mo was reading a book about how to cultivate oneself to the point of extending one’s lifespan.
in that moment, the two children suddenly realized that doctor mo wasn’t trying to pass the imperial exam; he was trying to live thousands of years like a river turtle.
(tl: turtles were thought to be able for live for thousands of years)