As he looked at Bai Qingsong and his men departing, Qin Wentian couldn’t help but feel the biting cold of winter gnawing on his soul. In the space of a single night, all roots of relationship that had been built between them seemed to have been instantly severed — the once harmonious Uncle Bai actually had the intention to kill him!
Despite Qin Wentian’s mental state and temperament being extraordinary, he could still feel the numbness in his heart, making him unable to settle down for a long period of time. Eventually, after Qin Wentian drew in a deep breath, the shadow of a smile gradually resurfaced once again on his slightly immature face. So what if human relations run thin? He just needed to be himself. He knew that the kindness shown to him by his foster father was as weighty as a mountain, and then there was still Qing`er; she had unhesitantly gone behind her own father’s back, and warned him of the danger.
However, the Qin Wentian now didn’t have the time to process his thoughts — he only knew that he had to extricate himself from his current situation, and it seemed like cultivating was the only way to do so.
Qin Wentian sat down cross-leggedly, glancing down at the piece of rock that had always hung on his chest, while saying, ”That damn old fogey. Uncle Black said that the only thing you left for me, was this piece of broken stone. Don’t pull me into hell to meetup so soon.”
After that, Qin Wentian took out the nine silvery needles, and pierced them through the acupoints located on his head. He swiftly closed his eyes, and steeled his heart, as he forgot everything, and entering into that state of deep meditation, envisioning himself as a vessel. Very swiftly, Qin wentian managed to sense the Yuan Qi of Heaven and Earth, as well as the existence of Astral Energy. This was the effect of meditation — as for how strong or weak the sensation was, it all depended on the power of one’s sensory abilities.
The sensory abilities of Qin Wentian were incomparably, exceedingly, strong. This type of strength, other than his own innate talent, was also the result of Qin Wentian assiduously practicing meditation every day. Despite it still being daytime, he rapidly entered the necessary state, and attracted the Astral Energy towards his body, before circulating it around the pathway of his meridians.
At this moment, despite the fact that the entirety of Qin Wentian’s energy channels and meridians had long been crippled, he didn’t mind, and continued to circulate the Astral Energy around his body. He remained in this state all the way until the moon had risen, and until the light from the constellations had started cascading down towards Qin Wentian’s body, enveloping it in a layer of starlight.
Qin Wentian, using his imagination, envisioned a pathway into Nine Layers of Heaven. His sensory abilities continued accelerating through this pathway, reaching higher and higher in an attempt to sense the Astral Rivers from the Nine Layers of Heaven. This self-hypnosis technique was taught to him by none other than his Uncle Black. Sometimes, it was necessary for humans to gain an even stronger will and intention from self-hypnosis.
Along with the rising reach of his sensory abilities, Qin Wentian began to feel a slight amount of pressure as his sensory abilities reached higher and higher. Nevertheless, this was unable to stop him. Suddenly, Qin Wentian could feel himself standing in the middle of the boundless starry space — he had arrived at the 1st Astral River!
Everytime he was here, Qin Wentian would feel his soul being stirred by the majesty of the boundless space. Standing alongside the inumerous constellations within the Nine Heavenly Astral Rivers, he felt as insignificant as an ant, like a grain of sand on the beach, or like a droplet of water in the vast ocean!
“Broom Constellation.” Qin Wentian could sense the first constellation in his surroundings as the constellation took the shape of a broom — it was the Broom Constellation. (TL: Broom Constellation/Broom Star is a pun in chinese for being a jinx, signifying bad luck.)
“The Drooping Willow Constellation… if I condense an Astral Soul after forming an innate link with it, my body will take on the properties of being soft and flexible, akin to a willow.”
“Water Snake Constellation, Heavenly Zither Constellation.” Qin Wentian sucked in a huge breath, it appeared that, as long he was willing, he could form an innate link with any of the constellations in his surrounding — even those constellations that were deemed as ultimates by the Stellar Martial Cultivators. However, he didn’t want to give in so early. Calming himself, Qin Wentian allowed his senses to soar even further, passing the 1st Layer of Heaven, and going all the way up before stepping into the 3rd Layer of Heaven.
The amount of pressure he felt got more and more intense, and Qin Wentian lamented that he no longer had the luxury to be as carefree and relaxed, as he slowly contemplated which constellation to pick like back when he was in the 1st Layer of Heaven. However, if this thing were to be known to the other Stellar Martial Cultivators, they would be infuriated to the point of puking blood. Qin Wentian himself, didn’t know how strong his sensory abilities were. But just by taking Autumn Snow as an example, after she’d condensed an Astral Soul by forming an innate link with one of the constellations in the 3rd Heavenly Layer, her name had already resounded throughout the entirety of the Chu Country.
“Indeed, the level of power an Astral Soul possesses after forming an innate link with a constellation from the Third Heavenly Layer is simply, incomparably, stronger than those of the 1st and 2nd Layer. However the 3rd Layer of Heaven is still not my limit, I can still go further.”
As Qin Wentian’s sensory abilities continued soaring upwards, the pressure he felt also increased in intensity. It was as if the pressure wanted to stop him from continuing, as Qin Wentian had also begun to feel waves of stabbing pain within his mind. Despite this, he still gritted his teeth and persevered on.
“Pain is but a passing thought, I need to relax myself, the pain will subside as I awaken.”
Qin Wentian had arrived at the 4th Layer of Heaven, where the constellations were all emanating a terrifying energy, causing him to have a strong impulse to rush and form an innate link with them. Qin Wentian knew that, as long as he was willing, he could immediately become an unprecedented genius of the Chu Country
“Uncle Black once prepared for me all of the information regarding constellations from the 5th Layer of Heaven, therefore it’s evident what his expectations are for me.” Qin Wentian silently braced himself, as he forced his senses to their utmost limit, attempting to continue upwards to the 5th Layer of Heaven.
“Forming an innate link and condensing an Astral Soul is very difficult. Other than talent, one must also have an immense amount of determination.” Qin Wentian told himself that he needed to bear the fiery waves of stabbing pains in his mind, as he continued upwards. Finally, he stepped past the 4th Astral River, and arrived at the 5th Layer of Heaven!
In front of him, there was a constellation in the shape of a skull, emitting a fearsome aura filled with evil and malice.
“Skull Constellation.” Qin Wentian averted his Astral Body, as he shifted his senses away. Currently, unlike his experiences in the 1st Heavenly Layer, he no longer had the ability to sense all the constellations in one go. He could only attempt to sense each constellation one by one.
A short moment later, he came across a constellation that seemed to be filled with a volcanic fiery aura. “This is.. This is the Ember Lion Constellation! If i formed an innate link with it, I would gain the ability to control the power of flames at a terrifying level, and the power I would wield then would be extremely tyrannical!” Qin Wentian contemplated, but eventually decided not to make his decision so hastily, as he still wanted to explore the starry horizons in order to sense other constellations.
After which, he sensed another constellation nearby that had taken on the shape of a huge hammer — it was the Heavenly Hammer Constellation!
“Heavenly Hammer Constellation.” Qin Wentian thought of the information Uncle Black had given him regarding this particular constellation. Suddenly, he steeled his heart as he decided to take a gamble.
His extraordinary sensory abilities began to rapidly reach out to in an attempt to connect and form an innate link with the Heavenly Hammer Constellation. He imagined himself as a willing vessel, as he slowly integrated with the Astral Energy from the Heavenly Hammer Constellation, while the stabbing pains in his mind intensified.
Columns of starlight began cascading down from Heaven, shooting past the various Astral Rivers, before shining down upon the currently cultivating body of Qin Wentian, shrouding his body in a starry radiance. The Astral Energy began to meld with his body, as some of the starlight concentrated on the stone that always hung around his neck.
At this moment, after the terrifying Astral Energies had gathered on the “common” stone hanging on the neck of Qin Wentian, the stone began shining with a dazzling brilliance, as it began to disintegrate. The remnants integrated into the body of Qin Wentian fully, until the stone completely disappeared. Only now, did the columns of starlight fully concentrate and shine on Qin Wentian’s body. Converging onto many points, the immense amount of Astral Energy was incomparably tyrannical.
A faint shadow with the shape of the Heavenly hammer began to coalesce on Qin Wentian’s body, while the pain in his mind was so intense, that it was nearly comparable to an explosion. However, how could Qin Wentian give up at this point in time? He gritted his teeth, doggedly intending to continue on with no hints of giving up, as he let the Astral Qi circulate through the pathways of his broken meridians, gradually forming into the shape of a Qi spiral, and at the same time, risking his life to complete the condensation of his Astral Soul. For only after that, could he be considered as to have truly stepped into the ranks of the Stellar Martial Cultivators.
“Hong Long Long!” Sounds of rumbling rang out from within Qin Wentian’s body, as the tyrannical Astral Qi dashed chaotically about in the pathways of his broken energy channels and meridians, following the direction dictated by the Qi Spiral, frenziedly revolving about, circulating through his entire body. Qin Wentian knew that this was the most critical junction — that only after he succeeded, could he be considered to have finished his transformation.
The extraordinary pain was incomparably tough to bear, but what was even more horrifying was that Qin Wentian still needed to split his mind to focus on completing the two tasks; both the condensation of his Astral Soul, and the reconstruction of his entire meridian and energy channel’s structure throughout his body.
“Pain, is but a passing thought.” Qin Wentian’s heart was filled with determination, as the tyrannical energy Qi Spiral in his body opened up an Astral Energy pathway, connecting it throughout his body, and successfully forming the legendary unique set of Stellar Meridians.
At the same time, the Heavenly Hammer gradually took shape, while blood seeped out the corner of his mouth. Finally, Qin Wentian spat out a mouthful of fresh blood, before fainting into unconsciousness.
`At the same time as Qin Wentian fainted, far off in the distance, away from the Bai Clan’s residence, Mustang was standing near a window inside the Clear Wind Inn. There was a faint shadow of an Astral Soul on his forehead. This Astral Soul was condensed by forming an innate link with the Heavenly Vision Constellation, and was one of the three Astral Souls condensed by Mustang — the Heavenly Vision Astral Soul.
“What a strong astral light, Autumn Snow’s talent is indeed extraordinary. It seems like she shouldn’t have any problem passing the first round of inspection.” Mustang cast his gaze upon the horizons, focusing on the starlight cascading down at location of the Bai Clan. Only after the astral pressure had faded, did he let out a breath that he didn’t even realise he was holding. The pressure emitted from that source of Astral Power, at the very least, belonged to a constellation of the 3rd Heavenly layer, and in the Bai Clan, other than Autumn Snow, there were no others who could form an innate link with constellations from the 3rd Layer of Heaven.
Stretching his body, Mustang decided to retire for the night. After hearing that Autumn Snow of the Sky Harmony City had managed to condense an Astral Soul from the 3rd Layer of Heaven, the Emperor of Chu Country had immediately sent people to investigate, and Mustang was among the group of scouts sent out. Despite the intense competition between the scouts, Mustang wasn’t worried that there would be people who’d snatch Autumn Snow away from his hands. After all, he was the representative from the prestigious Emperor Star Academy.