“Mrs. L, this is really great food,” Xaoi Bào bi said, shooting her a thumbs up. “You definitely should open up a restaurant or something!”
Liao An sat disinterestedly, poking her food while Xaoi Bào bi remained nearby and eagerly ate everything available. As for Liao’s parents, they smiled and occasionally shot each other looks. One thing they were somewhat certain of was that Bào bi was not normal! Despite appearing quite young and small, he spoke like an adult. He seemed incredibly casual being in their house, completely comfortable around strangers. At his age, he should at least have some shyness, yet he showed none of that.
When the pair had shown up covered in mud, he had created a long story about how they had become dirty. It was something about a puddle and an old house. Laio An seemed disinterested and made no attempt to confirm or deny any of the words he was saying. Liao Yan just wanted them to not track mud everywhere, so she pulled a bath and suggested the pair of them bathe together, being both young kids that couldn’t possibly have things such as sex on their mind. The boy put his foot down vehemently.
“You shouldn’t let strange men with your daughter naked. I could be a villain or even a pedophile. Liao An could be ravaged by me while the pair of you aren’t looking. I won’t allow it!”
“Well, you can bathe with both my daughter and me together?” Liao Yan offered.
“Ma’am, you’re a beautiful woman and so is your daughter, but you’re married and I’m not the kind of man who bathes with another man’s woman. Plus, as pretty as your daughter is, she’s still a bit young for mother-daughter activities. Although this world has no statutory laws, I think it best if you consider these words in the future for your daughter’s sake.”
“Um… okay…” Liao Yan scratched her head, not really understanding half of what this small boy was talking about.
At the very least, Liao An didn’t seem completely displeased when he called her pretty. Other boys nearby had attempted to get close to her in the past, and she always put on a look of disgust when they approached. To Liao Yan’s knowledge, this was the first other kid she had ever opened up to in the slightest. She didn’t want to potentially ruin her daughter’s first interest. As Liao Yan dwelled on this, she realized that this boy was a lot like Liao An!
“There’s actually another one like Liao An…” Liao Fu muttered in disbelief, “I really can’t believe it!”
Liao Yan nodded, her thoughts being echoed out loud. She was delighted that Laio An had found someone to call a friend, but she was also slightly concerned because of his oddities. When she found out he was a Xaoi sect outcast, she worried even more. Cultivators were a dangerous folk, and it had been one such cultivator who raped her. Had Laio An shown interest in anyone else, Liao Yan might have tried to put her foot down on this friendship before it grew. As it was, she felt like she could only grin and bear it.
They finished supper and Xaoi Bào bi waved goodbye. He took off even though the sun was setting, seemingly without a concern for his own safety. Liao Fu had offered to drive him back to the city, but he declined the offer. As for Liao An, she didn’t seem remotely interested in what happened to Bào bi. Once he left, she just headed over to her room without a word. Of course, she slipped out her window and followed Bào bi as he headed all the way back to the city. Liao An finally parted from him as he climbed over the wall. He wasn’t as smooth as she was, taking ten times as long, but he was quiet enough to not alert the mortals. As his butt fell over the other side into the city, Liao An didn’t know she wore a small smile on her face.
Bào bi was… interesting… to say the least. Liao An thought that perhaps her time stuck in this world might not be all bad after all.
He arrived very late at night, and his mother chastised him a bit. He gave her an apology for worrying her and explained where he was smoothly. If one got past the discrepancy between his age and appearance, Bào bi was actually a pretty smooth talker, even with his parents, and they quickly forgave him for his slight after he promised not to come home so late again. As for running into Liao An, he didn’t really make a point of it. That would reveal where he had been all day, and he didn’t want them to know he was visiting the house.
The next day, he did the same. When he made it to the house, Liao An was already waiting for him. He pulled out the next thing in his arsenal. He had a small string that was very difficult to see. He planned to string it up around trees in the area so that as the cultivators came, they would trip or get caught. He also brought shovels and started digging deep holes that he covered up. Suffice it to say, he had big plans to turn this place into the least hospitable location that he could.
“Should you be wasting all your time on this?” Liao An asked as the sun passed its zenith. “Would your time not be better spent cultivating?”
“What does cultivating have to do with revenge?” Bào bi asked with a frown.
“Strength is everything…” Liao An took on a lecturing tone. “In this world, only the strong rule. You need to become stronger. With strength, you could take this home back by force, and wouldn’t have to fall on such petty tactics.”
“Why? So I can fall in holes and be accosted by bugs?” Bào bi laughed, but after a moment when Liao An didn’t join him, he sighed. “I’d love to become stronger, but I’m starting to see why there aren’t more cultivators. The city has virtually no spiritual energy. Compared to here, what’s the point?”
Liao An found herself nodding before she stopped herself. It was true what Bào bi said. Cultivating in the city was almost useless. The areas with strong spiritual energy were all located tightly in the hands of the Xaoi sect. Other than this accidental location created by Midnight tearing a hole through space, there was nowhere else where cultivation was worth it. A single night cultivating here was worth a week somewhere else. It was no wonder that Xaoi Yun’s cultivation had frozen after being kicked out of his clan, and he was only able to break his bottleneck after this place was sanctified.
As for Bào bi, he never had gotten the patience to circulate energy. The pill in his stomach which he was unknowingly refining was essentially what progressed his cultivation. He still pealed off a piece of the pill every day. That was progressing his first realm cultivation better than any degree of cultivation. Liao An didn’t know this, but his cultivation was progressing incredibly well. Thanks to the miracle pill, he was already well into the first tier, and heading in the direction of the second. If it wasn’t for the fact he was taking things slowly, he might have already reached the second tier.
“You can do more than simply cultivate. You could also practice techniques. Even a level one must have techniques they can learn.”
“What are techniques?” Bào bi asked.
Liao An nearly fell to the ground. What exactly was his father teaching him if he didn’t know any techniques? Of course, Xaoi Yun had already assumed his son knew techniques, having been able to use the Xaoi Heavenly Punch. He never would have guessed that the punch was a normal punch that used no heavenly energy, and was purely a product of body refinement. However, Xaoi Yun had also avoided pushing new techniques on his son because he was still under the mentality that Bào bi was too young. Being able to cultivate was one thing, but techniques required complex reasoning, which should have been out of Bào bi’s reach. Had he thought about it a little bit, Xaoi Yun might have realized that Bào bi’s mind was just as abnormal as his body, but you couldn’t blame him given the concerns he had to face the last few days.
In an agitated state, Liao An stuck her hands in Bào bi’s face. “Eight! Read it… there are eight kinds of cultivation techniques. The first technique is spirit. This is how you absorb heavenly energy. You’ll need to come up with a technique if you wish to progress through the second great realm and beyond. Some energy techniques have stages to work through every realm, while others must be pieced together. It depends on what you select.”
“Ah? Okay… so I need a spirit technique, huh?”
“No!” Liao An struck Bào bi’s head. “Aren’t you listening? You won’t need it for an entire great realm. Besides, what is the point of a good spirit energy technique when you lack spirit energy.”
“Well, if it’s useless, why did you start with it?” Bào bi sighed, rubbing his head.
“Hmph…” Liao An sniffed. “There is an order to these things. I’m simply explaining things properly. The second and third techniques are movement. One concentrates on long movements, such as running or chasing, the other focuses on fast movements, like evasion. The fourth technique is tied closely with movement. That is concealment. Being able to avoid being seen or confound your enemy’s senses is the difference between life and death.
“The 5th technique is alchemy. The capacity to create pills. Not everyone learns these techniques, but if you’re an immortal long enough, you either should learn them yourself or befriend a skilled person who does. Not knowing an alchemist is… expensive. The sixth technique is formations. Formations are multifaceted. They involve the creation of heavenly artifacts. If you’re going to be a heavenly blacksmith, it’s a requirement. However, there are also transportation portals, defensive formations, control formations, scroll writing, and even necromancy. Everyone needs to know a bit about formations.
“The last two are the most commonly thought of when we speak of techniques, attack and defensive techniques. Attack techniques are broken up into even more criteria. Physical attacks, mental attacks, elemental attacks… Defense is broken into body tempering and shields. However, even that is insufficient to describe the complexities of cultivation techniques, you see… wait, are you sleeping?”
“Zzz… ah!” Bào bi opened his eyes as Liao An hit him one more time. “What? I was listening! Eight techniques!”
“Ah… you know… um… attacking and defending and stuff…”
“Spirit, movement, concealment, alchemy, formation, attack, and defense!” Laio An growled. “As for you, any defense technique or movement would do. Most concealment techniques are far outside your realm. You can learn attacks, but they’re useless unless you’re ready to kill.”
“Kill?” Bào bi blinked.
“The cultivation realm is ruthless. You’re betting your life every day!”
“Mm-Hmm…” Bào bi nodded.
“I’m being serious!”
It wasn’t that Bào bi was disregarding her advice, it was simply that it was coming from a five-year-old girl. She seemed strangely fascinated with his cultivation, but he had no clue how much he should take her on just her word. She was just a kid in his eyes, after all. He considered half of this just humoring a yoing child.
“I understand.” Bào bi patted Laio An’s head, causing her to glower.
“Look, tomorrow, find a technique from your father’s scrolls and bring it here. I will help you learn it.”
“Okay…” Bào bi rolled his eyes, not sure how a child could help him, but not wanting to insult her and cause her to throw a tantrum.
As to how she knew about his father’s scrolls, he didn’t think anything of it. Perhaps it was common for all families to own scrolls. The pair broke apart and Bào bi returned to his home before it was dark out. Laio An followed behind him in secret. Inside his father’s study, Laio An appeared. Pulling out his scrolls, she looked through the techniques he had available. A few moments later, a disgusted look appeared on her face.
“Trash. Garbage. Pathetic.” She muttered quietly.
Profound techniques weren’t like mortal techniques. One couldn’t simply transcribe the words and expect the same results. How the scrolls were made was almost as important as what they said. The Xaoi technique here was only a mediocre technique, but this was a copy hastily made by Xaoi Yun himself. Recording down a technique further degraded the quality. Without a well-made profound ink and paper, a person’s capacity to understand the technique properly was greatly diminished. Only the original copy or a copy made by a master who both intimately understood the technique and had a sufficient level formation technique would be able to properly record it for future generations.
While Tigra wasn’t any level close to her master, when it came to techniques on the mortal plane, she was beyond sufficient. Pulling out the movement technique, she waved her hand and destroyed it. With the techniqiue evaporated into ash, she brought out some low-level paper and ink and began to redraw the profound technique from her memory. The movement technique she destroyed was the Xaoi Heavenly Sprint. She was getting a sense quickly that the Xaoi clan did not have much in the ways of naming skills.
The reason she could destroy it so casually was because the Xaoi Heavenly Sprint was actually a technique she recognized. It was a bastardized version of the Xiao Heavenly Wind Canon, a technique that was acceptable for a beginner. This planet likely had some origins with the Xiao clan, but years and time had lead to the name, and the technique changing to this point. Perhaps the Xaoi sect was founded by a Xiao cripple or maybe a banished criminal that was abandoned on this planet.
Of course, Tigra couldn’t just leave Bào bi with a simple technique. The reason that she picked movement was because she felt the safest thing for Bào bi to do was be able to run. A movement technique that allowed him to flee from his enemies would be a technique that would be safest for him to learn. Of course, his closest enemies were other Xaoi, so he needed a movement technique that was faster than theirs.
Thankfully, Tigra’s vast knowledge of techniques that Midnight had forced into her mind over the years combined with her knowledge of the Xiao Heavenly Wind Canon. The Xaoi Heavenly Sprint was partially named that because of its incomplete nature which prevented long term movement. It was truly a sprint in every sense of the word. The full canon could be maintained at full speed for hours. Tigra worked excitedly, integrating everything she knew into the Xiao Heavenly Wind Canon.
As she worked, she forgot that this was intended to go to a small child of three from a low mortal realm. Reminiscing over her brutal studies under Midnight, she started treating this as a personal challenge, creating the most complete and efficient movement skill that could come from the base of the Xiao Heavenly Wind Canon. By the time she finished, it had only been four hours, but it was a complete work of art. It was no longer the Heavenly Wind Canon. A better name for it would be Tigra’s Immortal Wind Compendium. It consisted of nine different levels, which unlocked one at a time as someone’s comprehension grew. This was compared to the original, which only consisted of three levels even in its completed form.
Although Tigra was no genius, she was a top-tier immortal, and short of Midnight, there would be no one alive who could create unique cultivation techniques on the spot like this. Any technique she created, even haphazardly, would be of unimaginable wealth to even the immortal realms. Even the paper and ink she used were at a level unobtainable in the mortal realm. The only way a piece like this could have appeared in this world would be from accidental debris crashing into this planet from the destruction of a god realm.
Tigra’s scroll flashed as it grew complete. Only then did she fall out of her state of inspiration, and realize that she had created something beyond overkill. Before she could decide what to do with it, she heard a noise, and she instinctively locked her spiritual sense onto the life signs of the house, she could feel Xaoi Bào bi coming to this room. Well, it wasn’t like there would be any harm having him learn this technique. If he could flee faster than anyone, that was a good thing, right? She rolled it up and quickly shoved it on the shelf. Just for good measure, she put a concealed piece of profound energy on it. It would compel Bào bi to grab that scroll. This way, when he came tomorrow, he’d definitely have the one she had prepared for him without knowing she had set it up. With that, Liao An disappeared, immediately heading out of the city and taking off to her home.
Bào bi opened the door into the study, but just as he took one step in he heard a call.” Bào bi, I just finished my bath, why don’t you use the water and save your mother’s back!”
Bào bi sighed. He wasn’t used to sharing baths to save money. He especially didn’t like to use it after his father. Washing in another man’s ball sweat was not something that Bào bi considered as a fun use of his time. However, he saw the effort his mom had to go through to drag in the water and heat it. While profound water stones and heating stones existed in this world, they weren’t at the level that a poor loose cultivator could afford. He headed downstairs, passing his father on the way. Xaoi Yun, wearing a towel that showed off his impressive body, rubbed Bào bi’s head while he passed.
He entered his study. After having reached the midtier of cultivation, he had found himself unable to grow since entering the city. Since that was the case, he figured he’d start working on a technique. Looking at the pile of techniques he had copied, his eyes suddenly noticed one sitting on top. He didn’t know why, but for some reason, it felt really attractive to him.
“Xaoi Heavenly Sprint… I always struggled with this one.” Xaoi Yun mumbled to himself.
He reached out and grabbed the scroll, then turned and spread it out on his table. He read through the technique. His eyes widened. He read through it again. His eyes began to grow excited.
“It’s so much clearer than before!”
The technique on this scroll had always seemed so muddled and complicated. However, it must have been because of his increase in cultivation, because now it was crystal clear! In fact, he was familiar with the technique from his former sect, and this one seemed even better. He must have subconsciously improved upon it as he copied it down! Since it was more complex, he must have needed to be a higher level to grasp it. If that was the case, then regrettably, his son would have no chance to learn it before reaching midtier himself.
Xaoi Yun patted himself on the back for being so incredible. Rolling up the scroll, he took it with him. After mastering this technique himself, he looked forward to the day he’d get to show his son his genius.
As for Xaoi Bào bi, after finishing his bath, he reentered the room that Xaoi Yun had declared his study after the move. They had to pull a favor with the magistrate, Xaoi Lan’s father, to get this place, but it was a good enough place to live for the moment. Looking through the techniques, he didn’t see any movement technique. Instead, he reached out and grabbed a defensive technique.
“Xaoi Body Conditioning.” He muttered.
Well, at least it was good enough. Suffice it to say, when he pulled out this scroll the next day, Liao An was not pleased.