Within the Province of the Nine Skies, far above the heavens, there exists nine galaxies of astral rivers. Each of these astral river is made up of the combination of countless constellations interwoven together. These nine galaxies can also be collectively known as the Nine Layers of Heaven.
Humans of this cultivation-oriented world advocate the importance of meditation as a method to sense the Yuan Qi of Heavens and Earth. From a young age, they would practice breathing techniques, to train the spiritual Qi in their bodies, and to increase their vitality – they would cultivate their martial techniques in order to eventually become a Martial Cultivator.
Those with exceedingly strong senses could, through mediation, sense the existences of the nine astral rivers. By absorbing the energy projected by the boundless array of stars, and after forming an innate link with any of the constellations, condense an Astral Soul, and become a revered Stellar Martial Cultivator.
But there were even stronger humans, whom after becoming a Stellar Martial Cultivator, continued to train and condense the Astral Qi absorbed from the constellations, unceasingly strengthening the toughness of their bodies, and broke away from the realm of a Stellar Martial Cultivator. They forcefully opened the astral gate within their bodies, enabling them to be able to link with even more constellations, and able to condense more types of different Astral Souls.
Legend has it that the strongest cultivators in the Province of the Nine Skies were beings that could open an astral gate every time they advanced into a new realm. Their talent in cultivation was such that they could even establish innate links with constellations that existed on a higher layer than the Nine Layers of Heaven, eventually transforming into the heaven-defying and earth-shattering powers known as the War Gods within the Nine Layers of Heaven.
Chu Country, Sky Harmony City, Bai Clan.
The surnamed Bai Autumn Snow’s forehead was filled with perspiration – almost as if she was undergoing intense suffering – as she gritted her teeth and continued to persevere on.
Under the curtain of darkness, the radiance of the boundless stars situated above the skies seemed to unceasingly gather and shine onto the body of Autumn Snow, contrasting against her gentle and beautiful frame, and, combined together with her sweat-soaked translucent robe, one could see her jade-white abdomen being revealed. However, at this moment, Qin Wentian had no inclination nor motivation to admire that beautiful scenery.
“Steel your heart, pain is but a passing thought. Relax yourself, imagine yourself to now be filled with beauty and vitality while soaring amidst the nine galaxies of the astral rivers – admiring the beauty of the countless stars, lost in an entrancing dream – and the pain shall slowly subside as you awaken.”
His voice was soft and gentle, and drifted along with the wind into the eardrums of Autumn Snow, causing the convulsions of her body to lessen in intensity.
When the convulsions completely stopped, Qing Wentian took out nine silvery needles, and pierced them through some of the acupoints located at Autumn Snow’s head region.
“Ah….” Bai Qing, who was standing near the side as a spectator, involuntarily let out a small gasp, as her hand moved to cover her mouth, after seeing the seemingly crazy actions of Qing Wentian targeting her sister Autumn Snow.
“Attract the energy of the constellations towards your body, circulate the energy along your meridians and energy channels, and seal them inside your astral gate.” Qin Wentian’s mystical voice drifted into Autumn Snow’s eardrums, guiding her methodically on the steps needed to absorb the energy of the stars, and to circulate it around her body.
“Return back to the Nine Layers of Heaven – you are but an astral projection. Now, find the constellation that resonates with you, and attempt to form an innate link with it.”
Qin Wentian’s voice seemed to contain some sort of hypnotism powers, and after a few moments, one could see that slowly, on the surface of Bai Autumn Snow’s forehead, a faint shadow was condensing gradually. This process was akin to when a golden peng was spreading it’s wings, giving off a sensation that was filled with a sense of beauty and magnificence.
Bai Qing’s eyes were wide open; this was… Astral Soul Condensation! Her elder sister Autumn Snow was condensing an Astral Soul!
‘I’ve done all I can, the rest depends on you now.’ Qin Wentian silently said in his heart, as his slightly immature face was filled with heaviness as it displayed an extremely serious countenance.
Autumn Snow’s body seemed to shine with brilliance, eventually culminating into the cry of a bird, as the faint shadow revolved faster and faster, as it condensed into the shape of a golden peng. A wave of terrifying astral energy emanated forth as Autumn Snow opened her beautiful eyes, which seemed to shine with the luster of the stars in the skies.
“Success!” Bai Qing happily jumped about, as she rushed forward to embrace Qin Wentian in a hug as she stammered incoherently, “Wentian gege , it really succeeded!”
After finishing speaking, as if on impulse, Bai Qing moved her head closer and gave Qin Wentian a surprise peck on his cheek.
The kiss was that of the chaste type, full of bubbly innocence. Qin Wentian’s eyes flashed with amusement as he burst out into laughter, his previously serious countenance finally relaxed.
“Which Heavenly Layer?” Qin Wentian looking at his fiancee, smiling as he asked.
“The 3rd Heavenly Layer.” Autumn Snow also smiled. Her smile was filled with resplendence, as it fully brought out her beauty. Autumn Snow was 16 this year, and was one of the four great beauties in the Sky Harmony City, and the eldest daughter of the Bai Clan.
“The 3rd Heavenly Layer, sister could already form an innate connection with one of the constellations of the 3rd layer on her first try. Doesn’t this means that she’ll easily be able to condense her 2nd, and even 3rd Astral Soul in the future? Excellent, let me tell this news to father.” Bai Qing seemed to be even more excited than her elder sister.
“There’s no need for that.” A middle aged man walked by. This was the father of Autumn Snow and Bai Qing, and his name is Bai Qingsong. Looking at Autumn Snow, his hands trembled slightly in excitement as he beamed, “Autumn Snow, you have suffered.”
“Daddy, if it wasn’t for Wentian gege, elder sister might’ve been unable to be as successful in condensing her Astral Soul.” Bai Qing piped in, after which, Bai Qingsong turned his attention to Wentian and laughingly stated: “Wentian, thank you for today. You should rest early, me and Autumn Snow will make a move first.”
“Okay, uncle Bai.” Qin Wentian replied with a smile. Ever since both their clans decided on the marriage engagement three years ago, Bai Qingsong had frequently invited him to stay at the Bai residence, and had treated him very well.
“Bai Qing, you little brat, you follow us too, and don’t disturb your Wentian gege anymore.” Bai Qingsong sternly told Bai Qing. However, Bai Qing stuck her tongue out at him, saying :”I still want to chat with Wentian gege.”
Shaking his head, Bai Qingsong grunted out his agreement and departed together with Autumn Snow.
“Sister Autumn Snow could actually form an innate link with one of the constellation from the 3rd Heavenly Layer… based on Father’s personality, he should’ve gone to inform all the elders of our clan. I, of course, don’t want to go to such a boring place.” Bai Qing secretly whispered to Qin Wentian while giggling. “Wentian gege, I didn’t believe in your methods in the past, but to think that you actually succeeded! In the past, you refused to let my elder sister absorb the Yuan Qi of Heaven and Earth, and also told her not to attempt condensing her Astral Soul earlier. Could it be that you were planning on waiting for today?”
“By absorbing the Yuan Qi of Heaven and Earth, the energy channels and meridians in your body would then be filled with the Yuan Qi you absorbed, which would in turn cause your sensory ability to diminish greatly, which would eventually end up destroying your chance of condensing your Astral Soul.” Qin Wentian replied, lying on the ground as he gazed at the vast starry skies.
“The majority of humans would concurrently absorb the Yuan Qi from Heaven and Earth while attempting to sense the astral rivers. This way, even if one failed to become a Stellar Martial Cultivator, it would still have no negative impact on the progress of one’s road to become a Martial Cultivator. Yet, the method Wentian gege used totally disregarded the absorption of Heaven and Earth Yuan Qi in an attempt to increase the chance of sensing and condensing an Astral Soul. Isn’t this too risky? If one failed to sense the astral rivers in the Nine Layers of Heaven, their path to becoming a Martial Cultivator would be hindered as well, due to the lack of Yuan Qi in their meridians.” Bai Qing curiously asked Qin Wentian.
“Qing er, how many types of Astral Souls have you heard of before?” Qin Wentian countered with another question.
“Hmm very little, there are only a few people that have successfully condensed their Astral Souls in the Sky Harmony City, so I don’t really know much about this… how about Wentian gege?
“In the Nine Astral Rivers, there are an infinite number of constellations that can form innate links with Stellar Martial Cultivators. Among the myriad of starry constellations, there too, are an infinite number and type of Astral Souls.
“Those who condense an Astral Soul based on the Leo Constellation, would find that he possesses the tyrannical might of a ferocious beast, easily tearing apart tigers and leopards; those that condense an Astral Soul based on the Heavenly Vision Constellation, would find that their vision and sensory abilities have been greatly enhanced, enabling one to see further, as well as increasing one’s ability to predict opponent’s movements in a battle; those who condense an Astral Soul based on the Forger Constellation would become a master smith; one based on the Great Dream Constellation, would allow you to cultivate in your dreams, and even grant you the ability to cause enemies to hallucinate, sinking into your illusions!”
“Wow, cultivating while dreaming, and creating illusions, this is too magical.” Bai Qing murmured in a low voice.
“The size of this province is so immense, I’ve heard that many cultivators from the outside world managed to condense many unique, strange, and fascinating types of Astral Souls; they could even soar through the skies and tunnel through the earth with ease. In this world, Stellar Martial Cultivators are the true rulers and dictators, while the Martial Cultivators could be considered an existence equivalent to ants. If you cannot be one of the rulers, you might as well give up cultivation.” Qin Wentian had a trace of burning intensity in his eyes. He was determined to become an outstanding Stellar Martial Cultivator, condensing many different types of Astral Souls, gaining power and soaring throughout the skies to tour the vast world.
Uncle Black once said that the Sky Harmony City was too small – when compared to the world, it was naught but an insignificant insect.
“But, I heard that…” Bai Qing mumbled hesitantly.
“You heard that I was born with crippled meridians, and was destined never to embark upon the path of cultivation right?” Qin Wentian smiled, as he stood up. “Who said that those born with crippled meridians are unable to cultivate. I will be the one to defy logic, and become an extremely outstanding Stellar Martial Cultivator.”
Looking at the confident expression on Qin Wentian’s face, Bai Qing also chortled with laughter before adding sincerely :”I too believe in Wentian gege, I shall leave first, lest I interrupt your cultivation to become a Stellar Martial Cultivator.”
“Okay, remember to rest early, and… Do not absorb any Yuan Qi from the Heavens and Earth!” Qin Wentian reminded her again.
“Understood.” Bai Qing stuck out her tongue towards Qin Wentian, before giggling and running away. Looking at the lithe and graceful back view of Bai Qing, Qin Wentian froze as a sudden realization hit him. Unknowingly, this lass had already grown up, the current 15 years old her was no longer the 12 year old lass he knew from three years ago. Qin Wentian broke out into a smile as he lost himself in memories.
After Bai Qing departed, Qin Wentian started his cultivation, and despite his crippled meridians, he still went ahead and closed his eyes, entered into a meditative state. He began attracting the energy of the constellations, circulating them fully around his body through the broken pathways of his meridians. The explosive strength of the energy from the constellations constantly bumped and crashed through the broken pathways, as if they were threatening to grind his meridians into dust.
In that moment, a hideous expression of pain and suffering appeared on the face of Qin Wentian, this pain… compared to the pain Autumn Snow felt earlier, was a spring shower in the face of a thunderstorm! The intensity felt was increased by at least 10x. Without a choice, he gritted his teeth and persevered on.
The energy channels and meridians were the pathways that connect the energy flow in a human body, but once the meridians are crippled, one can only be considered as a disabled person, equivalent to having an incomplete body. Cultivators, other than expand their energy channels and meridians – after the Body Refinement Realm – had to reconstruct their energy channels, recast their nine great meridians, connecting through to all of the seven main orifices, and refine their internal organs, four limbs, and even their bone structure. Only then would they be able to fully unleash their true potential!
When Qin Wentian intentionally crippled his energy channels and meridians back then, if not for Uncle Black soaking him in various herbal medicine solution for treatment, he would have long since turned into an invalid. The herbal solution was so effective that not only did Qin Wentian not become an invalid, in addition to his efforts of training his body daily, soon afterwards, he began to regain the constitution of a normal human.
Nevertheless, he wasn’t an idiot. Crippled meridians was obviously not the goal of Qin Wentian. There was a record in the Stellar Meridians Transformation; only with broken meridians, would one be able to reconstruct and transform them into a perfect set of Stellar Meridians! This concept consisted of destroying first, the imperfect foundation, before re-establishing second, the perfect one!
 gege : affectionate term for older brother