No matter the day, the desert seemed to stretch to the ends of the world. The sun hung high above, its terrifying burning heat splashing down unto the coverless world below. The only sight one saw was endless yellow sand without any other color in view, nor was there any life. Howling winds rose and howling winds fell, the sand sweeping into the air to block out the skies, forming towering yellow mountains of sand, one after another. These sand mountains were scattered all over the depths of the desert. No matter how strong the winds blew, from the day they were formed, they never collapsed afterwards. They didn’t even move a single inch, as if some invisible strength was holding them all in place.
Until one day, a star fell down from the skies, smashing a horrifying crater deep in the desert. A sand furnace appeared in the world and was broken apart by the meteor to reveal a sand-yellow palm-sized bead. It seemed like jade but wasn’t, and it shined with an extraordinary luster. As the round bead was born, all over the desert for thousands of miles around, the giant mountains of sand collapsed as if they couldn’t bear their own heavy weight…
Qin Yu opened his eyes, digesting the memories contained in the soul. An earth-attribute bead floated silently within his dantian. The willow branch gently swung, sprinkling down shining verdant light as if it were cheering with joy.
Water, wood, fire, earth, the only one remaining of the five elements was…gold. His soul still had plenty of strength remaining, so it wouldn’t be too difficult to refine the metal element spiritual object. Qin Yu swallowed some pills to restore his strength. He wanted to refine the metal element spiritual object in a single go. From then on, he would have all five elements together!
But it was at this time that someone knocked on his workroom door. Qin Yu frowned, a thoughtful look in his eyes. With his current status, if someone dared to disturb him even if they knew he was deep in seclusion, the only one who would do so were those from the royal palace.
The door opened. Chief Manager Wu personally accompanied Old Sea and another person. Old Sea was silent and didn’t seem happy at all. A young seafolk bowed, “Greetings, Honorable Ning. Soupman has extended an invitation. If I have disturbed you, I ask you to be open-minded.” The tone was courteous and calm, with just the right amount of embarrassment.
Qin Yu nodded and said, “Alright.”
Old Sea was here so he obviously knew about it. Since Old Sea hadn’t stopped the man, then there was no need to worry too much about it.
“Thank you Honorable Ning. The carriage is outside. I will be waiting there. Please, take your time to tidy up.” He bowed and left.
Clearly he wanted to give Qin Yu a chance to ask some questions.
Old Sea directly said, “The situation has changed.” He hesitated and said, “Little friend Ning, if possible then I would ask you to give your best effort in this. I cannot speak too much of the secrets involved, but once you enter the royal palace you will naturally know of them.
“But, even if you cannot, then little friend need not be worried. With your current status in the minds of the sea races, no one would think of moving against you.”
A helpless feeling flitted across Qin Yu’s heart.
So it was like this...
Although he didn’t reveal his thoughts, he had already expected this.
At this time, Qin Yu stepped out of Sea Spirit Pavilion. He still wore his black robes, but this time an additional purple jade pendant hung from his waist. This item had the ability to repair itself, so even though it had been broken quite badly that day, it had restored itself.
Several carriages were neatly lined up in an arrangement that represented the emblem of the royal palace. Countless seafolk watched with awe, but as they saw the black-robed figure appear, all of them suddenly understood. No wonder the royal family was being so courteous. If they were willing to wait so calmly here, it could only be for this honored person.
The surrounding seafolk came to a stop and bowed.
Qin Yu nodded in return. He stepped into a carriage, and with a shout, it started to move.
The royal carriages rode down the street, unimpeded the entire way. When they passed through Prosperity Square, Qin Yu’s thoughts stirred and an inexplicable feeling rose up in him. He pushed open the window and looked towards the empty square. The altar was no longer there, but he could still sense the aura that it exuded. It was as if during the process of the sea spirit baptism, without him knowing, an inkling of a connection had formed between him and the altar.
Before the carriage reached the royal palace’s main gates, it took a detour to the side, following the palace walls until it drove into a side entrance. Faintly, one could hear the ringing of a bell. Then that inexplicable connection to the altar vanished along with it.
There was one other person in the carriage; he was the one who had spoken to Qin Yu. This person cupped his hands across his chest and said, “Honorable Ning, we are entering the palace, so please forgive me for any disturbances.”
Qin Yu nodded. He leaned back in his soft seat and closed his eyes. He could hear the sound of the window closing shut. They paused from time to time; the inspections were quite strict. It was only around an hour later that they came to a full stop.
“Honorable Ning, please.”
Stepping down from the carriage, there was a large blue dwelling in front of him, the color so deep that it seemed almost black. The entrance was not wide or obvious and even seemed a bit cramped, but the aura it emitted was imposing.
Qin Yu looked around several times. The style of this dwelling was quite different from the usual preferences of the capital city which tended towards artistic curves and sublime architectural techniques. The dwelling looked normal from the outside, but one could feel a strange surging in their soul. It was silent like a mountain, but once it exploded, it could tear apart all.
Obviously, this place was far more complicated than it seemed.
“Grandmaster Ning, Soupman is awaiting within. I am not allowed to enter so I can only bring you this far.” His voice was calm and respectful.
Qin Yu nodded. He walked in front of the dwelling. Then, as if sensing his arrival, the thick and plain front door quietly swung open.
His gaze fell into the courtyard and his eyebrows flew up as astonishment lit up his face. Of course, this was only for an instant before he regained his composure and walked into a completely unexpected…mansion!
That was right, this was a mansion. Only such a word could describe what he was seeing. In Qin Yu’s entire life, this was the most extravagant dwelling he had ever seen, bar none.
Gold tiles spread across the floor, creating a road.
Spirit stones were piled up into mountains.
Gold bars were inlaid everywhere and used to decorate the corners.
All that filled his eyes was the color gold. Countless treasures were laid out everywhere, all of them reflecting the golden light, making everything even more brilliant and blinding.
Gold and silver circulated through the common mortal world, and correspondingly spirit stones circulated in the cultivators’ world. Because of that, gold and silver rarely entered the eyes of most cultivators. Qin Yu never expected that this Soupman would have such strange and bizarre tastes, but seeing the radiant golden light spilling from all over, he couldn’t help but acknowledge that there was a certain heroic and dauntless aura emanating from this, as thick as syrup.
Naturally, this boldness was really bold. Aside from the gold, just the sea spirit treasures used as decoration were all amazingly expensive.
Qin Yu’s thoughts raced. During the sea spirit teacher competition, he had stolen away a great deal of wealth from Wu Zetian and numerous seafolk. He thought he was a rich man after that, but it was only now that he understood what the peak of wealth was like.
He didn't know what kind of person this Soupman was that he could utilize such a horrifying amount of resources. But as he thought about this, the light in his eyes changed to reveal admiration.
“Honorable Ning need not be envious. I look upon all this every day and yet none of it is actually my own.” Soupman smiled and walked over. He wore a loose robe, looking the spitting image of a wealthy village landlord. He clasped his hand over the head of a nearby gold beast statue. “Everything here belongs to His Majesty. If there is something here that truly belongs to me, it might only be this gold.”
He turned and asked, “Honorable Ning, what do you think about all this gold? I just happened to be born with a preference for this type of thing.”
Qin Yu looked around. “It looks great.”
Soupman laughed out loud. “Every time a guest comes here, they don’t dare to say much at all. I fear they probably all think it’s strange. When I ask them this question, all I ever hear is a bunch of useless flattery. In truth, it’s just like Honorable Ning says: it looks great!
“It seems that Honorable Ning and I share a bit of fate together. If there is a chance in the future, we should get to know each other some more. However, the reason I asked Honorable Ning here today is because there is a matter I need to trouble you with. I hope that Grandmaster Ning can try his best.”
Like this, he changed to the main topic.
Facing his bright eyes, Qin Yu nodded. “Okay.”
Soupman waved his hand. The two settled down around a table set beneath a glowing purple coral. Of course, the chairs and table were also carefully forged from gold. He took out a box from his chest and placed it on the table. “Honorable Ning, please take a look first.”
He opened the jade box. There was a bit of life-maintaining nutrient fluid within, and what floated on the surface was something similar to a part of a tree root. The surface layer was a bit withered and it seemed extremely common. But, the aura contained within left Qin Yu shocked as a dignified expression crossed his face.
When it came to sea spirits, he naturally didn’t understand them. But, after his soul became stronger, his senses also became far sharper. Although this was only a tiny section, Qin Yu could still feel a formidable strength, one that was overbearing and unsurpassed, as if it could look down upon the world with disdain.
It was only a tiny amount – but, he couldn’t ignore it.
Qin Yu lifted the jade box and carefully observed it. He thought carefully for some time before placing it back down. He asked, “Soupman, what request do you have?”
When Qin Yu didn’t ask any extraneous questions, Soupman nodded in satisfaction. “Honorable Ning likely has some thoughts already. I want to know, does Honorable Ning have any confidence in restoring the vitality of this thing?”
Qin Yu fell silent.
Restoring the vitality wouldn’t be difficult, but what was difficult was that this sea spirit seemed to have absorbed too much tyrannical strength. It was quite powerful in itself, and perhaps it might have been able to neutralize this tyrannical strength, but there was simply far too much of it, so much that it surpassed its capacity. Purely restoring its vitality would only be dealing with the effects of the problem, not the root cause. It would soon be ruined once more by that tyrannical strength.
The only solution was to increase the power of the sea spirit, so it became far, far stronger. Then, its ability to withstand this strength would increase, allowing it to transform that tyrannical strength into its own. But, with a sea spirit of this quality, wanting to increase its strength was naturally incomparably difficult.
Soupman lightly smiled. “If Honorable Ning has any needs, I can satisfy all of them. I hope that Honorable Ning can try.” These words clearly didn’t plan to leave Qin Yu any way to refuse.
Qin Yu slowly said, “I can try my best.”
“Thank you, Honorable Ning!” Soupman rose up. “I will accompany you there.”
They passed through a shining gold corridor and a transmission array appeared in front of them. Soupman took out a jade card and the array gradually lit up. They stepped into it and fierce fluctuations began to spread out. Space twisted and the two disappeared.
After several breaths of time, their field of vision was restored. Everything was dim and dark, as if they were beneath the earth. Burning torches illuminated the surroundings, but it couldn’t disperse the cloying dark.
Across from them was a giant tightly shut stone door, with countless strange runes cut into it. It looked as if stars were twinkling on its surface. Just by glancing at it, one’s chest would feel tight and heavy, as if a peerless vicious beast was hiding behind the stone door!
Soupman’s smile didn’t change. He stepped out from the array formation and pointed a finger. “Honorable Ning, the sea spirit is behind that stone door. Please prepare yourself.” He lifted his hands and touched the void. Layers of ripples spread out, falling onto the stone door like a series of knocks. After a time, the runes began to shine and the stone door slowly opened.