Ye Yangqiu and the Discipline Hall’s martial practitioners had stayed at Ling Town temporarily while they waited for the pavilion’s response.
Now, after the huge incident at the Ling Family’s great courtyard, every Ling Family member’s eyes were filled with a combination of curiosity, fear, and regret whenever they looked at Qin Lie.
Many Ling Family martial practitioners held gratitude and respect towards Qin Lie, and both Ling Xing and Ling Xiao would often look for Qin Lie to go drink and have some fun.
There were even many bold Ling Family maidens, who dressed both brightly and beautifully, often loitering around Qin Lie’s stone house…
Every day, when Qin Lie traversed back and forth from Herb Mountain, the eyes of the Ling family would fall upon him, and sometimes, even martial practitioners from Nebula Pavilion would smile and greet him.
All of the sudden, Qin Lie had become the most sought after person in Ling Town, and even Ling Yushi had trouble trying to talk to him alone.
—He was simply too striking at the moment.
On an afternoon five days later, a messenger hawk appeared in the sky above Ling Town and landed on a Discipline Hall practitioner’s shoulder.
The messenger hawk had brought over news from Nebula Pavilion.
Ye Yangqiu read the entire letter in front of Ling Chengye and the family, and once he finished, he nodded towards Ling Yushi and said, “Liu Yan has explained the entire matter. Not only has the Ling Family done nothing wrong at all, you have also done a great service for Nebula Pavilion. Especially Qin Lie… his contribution points in Nebula Pavilion have reached a total of three thousand. All of it has been recorded by Elder Han Qingrui.”
All the tension left Ling Chengye’s body, and he thanked the Elder many times over; a smile of relief had finally appeared on his face.
Ling Yushi’s eyes sparkled as she answered with quiet elegance, “I thank Elder Ye for clearing our Ling Family’s name.”
“No, I should be the one to thank the Ling Family, to thank… Qin Lie.” Ye Yangqiu remained as cool as ever. “The reason that subordinate of mine, Liu Yan, survived was completely due to Qin Lie turning the Devil Wolf King against Yan Dewu. Otherwise, Liu Yan could not have survived, and furthermore, Gao Yu and the others would have all been killed as well.”
The moment he said that, the Ling Family clansmen became filled with untold emotions.
No matter how vivid their imaginations were, there was no way they could’ve predicted that the person who saved the Ling Family from disaster time and time again would be the one whom they had looked down upon for the last five years, Qin Lie the fool.
—Ling Xuanxuan had felt especially guilty during the past few days, and was too ashamed to look for Qin Lie and express her apologies.
“While we have proven the Ling Family’s innocence, the Feng Family’s devious plot has also succeeded. We have gotten news that the entire Feng Family has moved inside Shattered Ice Manor’s domain. It will be slightly troublesome if we are to act against them now,” Ye Yangqiu said with a frigid face, and after a moment of thought, he said suddenly to Ling Chengye, “Ten years ago, about Du Haitian framing the Ling Family and causing the sacrifice of your wife and your clansmen… I shall investigate this matter. Even if Du Haitian is an Elder, I will find out the truth and bring justice to the Ling Family.”
Hearing his words, Ling Xuanxuan and Ling Yushi’s eyes reddened, and they were excited beyond control.
The two brothers, Ling Chengye and Ling Chengzhi, could only thank him yet again, unsure of what else to say.
“I cannot fully guarantee that Du Haitian will face the punishment he deserves. He is after all… an Elder with rank equal to mine. But the pawns who had carried out his orders on his behalf should fail to escape the Discipline Hall’s punishment. Please be prepared for whatever comes next,” Ye Yangqiu continued.
“We understand! We understand Elder Ye’s difficulties,” Ling Chengye quickly answered.
“This is it. We have stayed in Ling Town for too long, and it’s about time we go back and reassume our responsibilities.” Ye Yangqiu turned down Ling Chengye’s urgings to stay, and after he took care of the matters on hand, he then led his subordinates and left Ling Town.
On the same evening.
Qin Lie walked out of the Herb Mountain cave, and when he glanced at the foot of the hill, he saw an elegant shadow standing there — it was Ling Yushi.
She was robed in a close-fitting, navy blue dress, and it brought out her aura of quiet elegance completely. Her long, jet black hair was let loose like plunging waterfalls, and it only added to her beauty and nobility.
Under the sunset, she was like a fairy who had walked right out of a painting, fascinating the masses and swaying their hearts.
“Why are you here today?” Qin Lie walked over and asked naturally.
“My father has arranged for a feast and allowed me to invite you personally. In hopes that you would bless us with your presence.” Ling Yushi smiled gently with eyes full of meaning. “For the past few days, there were quite the number of gorgeous little birds in Ling Family surrounding your stone house. I couldn’t even find the chance to meet you…”
Qin Lie couldn’t suppress a laugh and shook his head as he said in a helpless tone, “This is exactly what I was afraid of.”
After he had truly awakened, he still chose to disguise himself as a silent fool exactly because he was afraid of attracting the Ling Family’s attention and unnecessary troubles which would affect his own training.
Now, the moment he appeared in Ling Town, all the clansmen would lock eyes with him and pester him with lots of questions along the way. Even after he had gone back to his home, he couldn’t find peace and escape from the endless chatter surrounding him. Sometimes Ling Xiao and Ling Xing would even straight up barge into his home for a talk and a drink.
And now, even Ling Chengzhi had begun preparing a feast. Suddenly, he was afraid that he would lose his quiet days forever.
“You don’t have to worry too much; their enthusiasm will settle down eventually. Just wait and it’ll soon be over,” Ling Yushi consoled him and then continued apologetically, “It’s all because of me that your life was disrupted. I’ve dragged you into that big mess in the Ling Family…”
Qin Lie smiled coolly, “It’s not all because of you. When the Du Family tried to sneak in their artificer to crack Herb Mountain’s formation, they also offended me. I did not feel like allowing them to have a good time either.”
“Oh you. What is your true realm; at which level of Refinement are you at now? That Du Heng is at the eighth level of the Refinement Realm and he didn’t even stand a chance. Your realm level must be pretty high, am I right?” Ling Yushi bowed slightly and stuck herself towards him. She held his gaze, unwavering, with a pair of starry eyes.
Right now, Ling Yushi was slightly taller than him, so after she lowered her waist like that, her plump lips were but a fist’s distance away…
A subtle fragrance that refreshed the heart slipped silently out of her breathing lips, causing Qin Lie’s heart to sway a little as an unknown flame burned inside him…
“Seventh level of Refinement, I am only at the seventh level of the Refinement Realm. Mn, seventh level of the Refinement Realm.” Even his speech was getting a little clumsy.
Ling Yushi stared deeply at his face before breaking into giggle, her eyes filled with laughter. “Like I’d believe you.”
“Either you believe it or forget about it.” Qin Lie chuckled himself. “My acupoints are filled with a different energy, so spirit energy cannot seep inside them. Since I can’t penetrate my acupoints, I’m at the seventh level of the Refinement Realm, isn’t that right?”
“A different energy?” Ling Yushi showed a pondering look as she walked alongside him towards Ling Town, thinking seriously with a frown. After a while, she finally said, “Logically speaking, as long the acupoints are penetrated and can store energy, then it should count as eighth level of Refinement, shouldn’t it? Even if it isn’t spirit energy that is inside your acupoints, as long as it’s a form of energy, then it should count as having your acupoints penetrated, and thus be the eighth level of the Refinement…”
After a pause she said, “How about this; we’ll use the Realm Assessing Stone to test this later. We’ll evaluate by the richness of your spirit energy.”
Qin Lie’s thoughts stirred. “If a different kind of energy had penetrated the acupoints, it would still count as the eighth level of Refinement? It doesn’t necessarily have to be spirit energy?”
“That’s right. I heard from father in the past that those who cultivated spirit arts that use a different kind of energy can use that to penetrate their acupoints to make them store special energy. It’s just that this kind of situation is pretty rare and almost unheard of,” Ling Yushi said seriously.
Qin Lie’s eyes brightened as he internally nodded before saying, “Not a bad idea. Then let’s go and test it using the Realm Assessing Stone.”
“First Miss is back.”
“Hi there Qin Lie!”
“Haha, First Miss personally went there to wait for Qin Lie. What an enviable person.”
“They’re engaged, of course they’re going to get together. Look at you, fussing over nothing.”
When Qin Lie and Ling Yushi appeared at the entrance of Ling Town, there were many Ling clansmen who immediately greeted them loudly while smiling, teasing the duo in good will.
Qin Lie paid her some attention and noticed that Ling Yushi was blushing slightly; there was embarrassment hidden in her eyes. However, she wasn’t angry, and she didn’t seem to mind the teasing; this made him feel a little surprised.
Enveloped in the crowd’s smiles and greetings along the way, the duo arrived at the Ling Family Hall. A table of excellent food had just been arranged, and it was still steaming. The The Ling brothers, Ling Xuanxuan, and even Clan Elder Ling Kangan were also present; the moment they saw him walking over, they were immediately full of smiles and rose to greet them.
“I thought it was about time you guys arrived, so I let the servants prepare this in advance. Ah, Qin Lie, when your grandfather was still around, we would often sit down and eat together. After your grandfather left… I neglected you. It’s Uncle Ling’s fault. Today I will drink three cups of self-punishment!”
Before waiting for Qin Lie to speak, the Ling Family Patriarch grabbed the drinking cup and downed three cups.
“Qin Lie, in the past I… in the past… anyway, I’m at fault so I’ll punish myself with a drink too. Please forgive me.”
Ling Xuanxuan bowed her head and didn’t dare to look at him. A look of shame and regret floated on her face as she too drank her wine and just sat with her head bowed without saying a word.
“Come on, Qin Lie, come over and sit,” Ling Chengzhi invited passionately. “Little Shi, bring Qin Lie in quickly, what are you standing there for?”
Seeing her family member’s enthusiastic flattering, Ling Yushi was a bit embarrassed and said helplessly, “Father, Qin Lie needs to use the Realm Assessing Stone for a while to check his level. Maybe we can drink later.”
“I’ll get it!”
Ling Chengzhi stood up abruptly, blazed out and into the hall, and then placed a diamond-shaped Realm Assessing Stone in front of Qin Lie.
Qin Lie was extremely concerned about his level, so he did not care that the whole Ling Family was around and pressed his palm to the stone. Slowly, he injected his spirit energy into the Realm Assessing Stone.
Rays of blue light floated from the Realm Assessing Stone. The first six rays were really quick, and when it reached the seventh ray, it noticeably slowed down.
The Ling Family members watched the Realm Assessing Stone’s blue light attentively. Each ray represented a level of Refinement, and now they had reached the seventh, blue light…
Qin Lie continued to increase the transfer of spirit energy, his eyes completely glued to the Realm Assessing Stone’s surface. As the spirit energy grew stronger, another blue light emerged, albeit very thin and blurry at the beginning. But as time went by, it gradually turned brighter and brighter!
“The eighth level of the Refinement Realm!” Ling Yushi exclaimed in pleasant surprise. “I told you, didn’t I? You must have reached the eighth level of Refinement, but you didn’t believe it yourself. I really don’t know what else to say to you.”
On the other hand, Ling Chengye and the others were completely nonplussed about the fact. In their opinion, since Qin Lie was able to take down Du Heng perfectly without any chance of retaliation, it was only natural that he should be at the eighth level of the Refinement Realm. It wasn’t a surprise to them at all, but what did surprise them, was Ling Yushi’s exclamation. “Isn’t that very normal?” Ling Chengye asked for the reason.
Ling Yushi proceeded to explain Qin Lie’s worries.
Ling Chengye was surprised at first. Then he turned towards Qin Lie and said, “No matter what kind of energy, as long as it could penetrate the acupoints and be discharged from it, then it will be considered as the eighth level of the Refinement Realm. In fact, from what I know, those spirit arts that could open acupoints through a different kind of energy are usually incredibly rare and amazing…”
Qin Lie finally relaxed after seeing the eighth blue light on the Realm Assessing Stone and listening to Ling Chengye’s explanation.
After he pulled back his hand, the blue light on top of the Realm Assessing Stone quickly disappeared. Looking at the Realm Assessing Stone, that was as smooth as a mirror, he thought to himself with eyes that shone with a thoughtful look.
“I’ve only used the spirit energy inside my dantian’s spirit sea. This alone is enough to be called the eighth level of the Refinement Realm, and I haven’t used even a shred of the thunder and lightning energy stored inside my acupoints. If… if I used all the thunder and lightning energy in my seven hundred and twenty acupoints and injected them into the stone, I wonder what would happen…”
When he had battled Du Heng, he had thought that the reason Du Heng could not withstand even a single blow was because he had underestimated himself and did not use his full power. He thought that it was because his electric net had taken down the spirit bird released by the Golden Spirit Bird which then caused Du Heng to be caught off guard and suffer a complete collapse to the point that even his mind was intimidated. He had believed that all these factors combined was the reason that he had been struck away in a single blow.
But it was only now that he finally understood that it wasn’t that Du Heng didn’t give it his all, it’s just that he was really strong to begin with!
—He had underestimated his own true power!
So he had reached the eighth level of the Refinement Realm before he even realized it. With an equivalent realm to Du Heng and the extra power from his thunder and lightning energy, plus the strength of his own physical body, it was practically a given that he would utterly defeat Du Heng!