Following that, Xu Ziqing engaged in a session of meditative practice to regulate his breathing, restore his vital energy, and prepare for another round of combat.
This time, he wielded the Qingyun Needle, incorporating an additional lethal technique compared to his previous approach. If faced with a suitable adversary, he would initiate the “Four Seasons Sword Art” as the first line of offense, honing his swordplay. If the opponent’s swordsmanship surpassed his own, the Qingyun Needle would be deployed in tandem to breach the opponent’s defenses.
With each battle, the murderous aura surrounding the Qingyun Needle intensified, enhancing its potency for subsequent conflicts. Throughout this series of engagements, the Qingyun Needle underwent tempering, drawing awe and intrigue from onlookers.
It became increasingly clear to everyone that the Qingyun Needle was condensed from the essence of Yimu within Xu Ziqing’s being, melding with his flesh and blood. As Xu Ziqing’s strength grew, the needle would evolve to be more formidable and commanding. Even a standard natal magic weapon might find itself outmatched.
A natal magic weapon typically represented a chosen magical implement of a monk, crafted from superior materials and continually refined with the essence and blood of their own heart. This process united the weapon with their flesh and blood, establishing a symbiotic connection and aligning with their consciousness, akin to an extension of their own body.
For monks with lesser capabilities, selecting a potent magic weapon was common to bolster their defenses and augment their skills. Conversely, more powerful monks exercised caution in their choice of a destiny-bound magic weapon. These could often be substituted or elevated, allowing the weapon to grow in strength alongside the monk’s abilities. This dynamic turned the magic weapon into a versatile tool, a deeply concealed tactic, or even a form of second life.
It was evident that Xu Ziqing’s Qingyun Needle was deeply entwined with being a natal magic weapon.
What remained unknown to everyone was his possession of a natal tree, destined to eventually exert command over all the trees in the world, granting him numerous capabilities beyond the norm. This was why people were constantly in search of potent and unique techniques—highlighting the distinction between them and commonplace practices.
Despite Xu Ziqing being at the foundational stage of cultivation and having never delved into the art of weapon refinement, his understanding honed through battles allowed him to manifest the Qingyun Needle from his very flesh and blood.
Hence, although the Qingyun Needle had recently come into existence and was still fragile, incomplete, and imperfect, it already possessed a spirit, earning the esteemed title of a spiritual weapon.
In an instant, the radiant blue lights subsided, marking a significant advancement in his cultivation!
Xu Ziqing opened his eyes, and the luminescent blue glow within them dissipated. Miraculously, he appeared more robust now, exuding a sense of comfort throughout his entire being. His breath had harmonized, a clear indication of deeper connection with the inner world.
Since his arrival in the Qingyun Great World, despite encountering some challenges, overall, his cultivation had steadily progressed. Even in the face of great danger, he adeptly turned it into safety, a feat undoubtedly aided by the support of his master and the sect.
Upon witnessing his awakening, Qiu Ze and the others extended their congratulations, saying, “Congratulations, Fellow Daoist Xu, on your breakthrough.”
The eight junior sisters also saluted, and Ying Sheng added, “Congratulations, second senior brother!”
Qiu He further commended, “Ziqing possesses remarkable talent, comparable to Yun’er. He should strive diligently to attain the Golden Core soon, bringing glory to our Xiaozhu Peak!”
Xu Ziqing gracefully accepted the congratulations, then turned to Master Qiu He, expressing, “All of you are my esteemed teachers in cultivation. I will certainly redouble my efforts in the future.”
Daoist Qiu He chimed in, “You’ve reached this point today, and I haven’t been of much assistance. On the contrary, Yun’er had high hopes for you. Ensure you live up to those expectations.” His gaze was kind, accompanied by a smile, “However, considering the bond between you and your two seniors, I don’t believe any thanks are necessary.”
A slight blush colored Xu Ziqing’s cheeks upon hearing this. He looked at Yun Lie and smiled, “Shixiong’s kindness is immeasurable, and I am forever indebted. I shall repay this debt when I achieve success in my cultivation.”Advertisement
Yun Lie glanced at him, stating, “I’ll be eagerly awaiting that day.”
Xu Ziqing, hearing this, refrained from a reply. How could this be taken seriously?
Yet, he found it amusing and nodded earnestly, “Da ge, please await my success.” Saying this, he couldn’t contain his laughter.
The entire assembly on the elevated platform was in high spirits. Seeing Yan Yan teasing their masters, Yue Jun and the others felt a tinge of envy. It was exceedingly challenging for ordinary inner sect disciples to find a master to guide them, let alone a master who cared so deeply for their disciples. Moreover, the camaraderie and warmth within a master’s sect, such as this, were rare, leaving people longing for such an environment.
Master Qiu He, having lived for many years, could discern the expressions on these four promising young talents. He felt a sense of contentment and became more resolute in the decision he had made earlier. He then scrutinized the four of them and suddenly announced, “Qiu Ze, I intend to accept you as my third direct disciple. Are you willing?” This statement hit like a thunderbolt, stunning everyone present. The pleasant surprise was so overwhelming that belief seemed elusive.
This delightful news left Qiu Ze momentarily stupefied. Yue Jun, the first to recover, promptly nudged Qiu Ze.
Only then did Qiu Ze snap out of his daze, almost ecstatically exclaiming, “Master, junior is wholeheartedly willing!”
Not to mention being a direct disciple, even becoming a registered disciple would be an immense honor.
Master Qiu He smiled and nodded. He had no intention of making Qiu Ze a mere registered disciple. Initially, he had eight female disciples, each recruited for specific reasons, and they were still in the early stages of their cultivation. Allowing Qiu Ze to become a registered disciple might lead to the awkward situation of Foundation Establishment monks addressing them as senior sisters. He aimed to mentor and cultivate Qiu Ze, ensuring he felt valued and respected.
Meanwhile, Long Xuan and Luo Yao eagerly prompted, “Qiu Ze, why don’t you kneel down now?”Advertisement
Qiu Ze heeded the reminder, swiftly adjusting his attire, bending his knees, and promptly knelt down, performing three prostrations and nine kowtows. “Disciple Qiu Ze pays homage to Master!” he reverently exclaimed.
Master Qiu He nodded with warmth and affection. His smile grew even more tender as he remarked, “Very well, very well, very well.” He continued in a gentle tone, “I have observed your character these days. Your companions also display unwavering determination, and as they say, ‘birds of a feather flock together.’ You reassure me.”
Qiu Ze remained on the ground, awaiting Master’s guidance obediently.
Master Qiu He then elaborated, “Originally, all four of you possessed remarkable talent and potential. However, being an earth-affinity monk, if I were to accept all of you, it would disrupt the harmony in teaching disciples of different elemental affinities. Given your affinity with the earth attribute, Qiu Ze, and my expertise in this cultivation path, I’ve chosen you as my close disciple. I trust you’ll dedicate yourself to diligent practice and not disappoint me.” This explanation clarified why Qiu Ze was chosen over the others.
The four friends understood the rationale behind Master Qiu He’s decision. While they were all destined to meet the genuine Qiu He, only Qiu Ze was selected as a direct disciple. If the other three harbored dissatisfaction, it was only natural.
Master Qiu He conveyed these sentiments out of genuine affection for his disciples. He recognized the rare camaraderie among these four individuals and understood that creating discord among them due to the selection of apprentices would be unfortunate.
Qiu Ze grasped the true intent of Master Qiu He, as did Luo Yao and the others. They had strived to participate in the Grand Competition and had diligently accumulated their efforts for many years, all with the aspiration of learning from a master. Although Qiu Ze was blessed with this opportunity while they weren’t, they set aside any jealousy and feelings of being slighted. Witnessing the magnanimity of the esteemed Jindan Daoist, they let go of their discontent and extended congratulations to their fortunate friend.
Qiu Ze felt deeply moved, offering repeated kowtows, his eyes welling up with emotion.
Having lived as an inner sect disciple for numerous years, Qiu Ze had endured innumerable hardships to attain his present level of cultivation. Encountering such an affectionate master now truly made him believe that all the suffering he endured in the past was indeed worthwhile.
Observing Qiu Ze’s expression, Yue Jun and the others experienced a blend of emotions, including a tinge of sorrow.
Master Qiu He looked at the group of juniors, speaking with warmth, “Luo Yao, Yue Jun, Long Xuan, though I haven’t officially taken you as disciples, you’ve stood by Qiu Ze for many years. You can join my Little Bamboo Peak together, choose a spot with abundant spiritual energy, and establish a cave to live and cultivate independently. It’s a better option than staying in the disciples’ quarters.” The other three exchanged glances, their joy evident, and they promptly expressed their gratitude to the venerable master.
Securing four promising juniors with good potential brought great relief and joy to Qiu He. Waving his hand to prompt everyone to rise, he continued, “Qiu Ze, you are now the third disciple of Zhenchuan and will meet your two senior brothers.” Qiu Ze swiftly composed himself and, upon looking at Yun Lie and Xu Ziqing, felt a different sense of respect. After adjusting his attire, he saluted, “Greetings, Da Shixiong. Greetings, Er Shixiong.”
Yun Lie nodded slightly, affirming the greeting.
Xu Ziqing offered a gentle smile, “No need for excessive formality, Shidi.” Reflecting on the etiquette when acknowledging a junior brother, he naturally intended to present a gift. However, although he possessed some elixirs, for monks in the later stages of foundation establishment, they might not suffice, appearing somewhat lacking. This made him feel a bit embarrassed, especially given his recent transition to being a novice.
Observing Xu Ziqing’s slight discomfort, Yun Lie raised his hand and conjured a ball of yellow light, stating, “Master and I…” He paused briefly, then rephrased, “I am presenting a gift with Ziqing.”
Qiu Ze felt honored, swiftly extending his hand to accept the gift, anticipating it might be a bit challenging. To his surprise, the yellow light felt somewhat weak upon contact, containing only a modest amount. Upon closer inspection, he noticed a potent earthy essence on his palm. It turned out to be a golden bell and a flying sword.
These two magical weapons displayed remarkable agility, with subdued light and an understated yet elegant appearance. A faint roar of surging earth energy emanated from the spiritual light’s inhalation and exhalation. Judging by their auras, they were indeed middle-grade spiritual weapons, fitting for a cultivator of his level!
Such a generous gift!
Witnessing this gesture, Yue Jun and the others were also taken aback by this remarkable display of generosity.
Qiu Ze promptly expressed his gratitude with a solemn expression, “Thank you, Shixiong.”
Xu Ziqing smiled gently, “We’re fellow sect members; there’s no need for excessive politeness.” Subsequently, the other eight junior sisters approached to welcome their third senior brother, and Qiu Ze naturally offered them useful gifts like pills as a gesture of greeting.
At this moment, aside from Xu Ziqing, the other nine monks who had made it to the top ten were also confirmed.
The battles on Yanwutai had concluded.
Black dragon roared, intending for these ten individuals to ascend the Black Dragon puppet and return to face the chief Sixing Peak.
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