Nine Astra Skies

Mad Snail

4

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Ye Chen returned to his own cabin after leaving his father's residence. It was a simple room with only a bed and a wardrobe; both made of wood. 

The Flying Dagger seemed to be engaging in some form of contact with him as if it was pa.s.sing on some coded messages. This terrified Ye Chen a little as he did not expect the Flying Dagger to act similarly to an animated being or to even possess something equivalent to sentience. 

However, Ye Chen did not remain terrified. He was already at the lowest point of his life so what could possibly be worst? 

He sat cross-legged on his bed and soon, his mind quickly entered the state of meditation. Again, he tried to reach out to the Flying Dagger with his mind…

A crimson halo orbited around the Flying Dagger as it hung silently above Ye Chen's sea of consciousness like a bright sun emitting rays to all corners. 

Time seemed to hasten – an hour pa.s.sed, then two and then three. The Flying Dagger's activity grew more and more frenzied until – 

Thump! 

An unbridled flow of power spewed out of the Flying Dagger. The energy was immeasurable that the original Celestial Chi from Ye Chen's body was pale in comparison to it. As if the former were waves from the sea and the latter merely streams of a river. 

Tides of power came from the Flying Dagger and into Ye Chen's damaged meridian channels. They fanned out rapidly to whatever that crossed their path. Astonishingly, even if some of the power had unsurprisingly leaked out of his body through the damaged openings of his channels, the remnants still managed to stay palpable as they continued to race through his meridians.

It was as if someone had struck his fleshy heart. Ye Chen's could not help but cough up blood as his hands gripped onto the edge of his bed. He gasped and panted for deep gulps of breaths. 

'Wh-what frightening power!' A thought zipped through his scrambled mind. Even the most formidable amount of Celestial Chi that he could muster when he was at his peak three years ago could not be compared to the unbridled torrent coursing within him now. In fact, this particular power was so pure, it managed to be even more absolute than Celestial Chi itself.

'Could this be some sort of unique variation of Celestial Chi?!'

What was more fascinating was that a change had swept through Ye Chen's body after that unsolicited incident. Unlike animals going through ecdysis, layer after layer of epidermal flakes shed off his body until it stopped and settled on a layer of fair, radiant skin. Now, his entire body seemed to be gifted with a new breath of life. 

His damaged meridian channels remained broken still but Ye Chen somehow understood that his body had now been imbued with a new ability to rejuvenate itself. 

He was in a daze. Ye Chen felt himself approaching another place of existence altogether. 

He was hovering in the sky, above the vast ocean, so much so that he could not see the point where the sky and water parted ways. He heard a voice calling out to him from a distance but he failed to make out what was being said. 

Thick vapors of unadulterated Celestial Chi rushed to his feet from below, blown apart only when the wind swept through them. In a shock, Ye Chen realized that the ocean was made entirely out of the very same strange but condensed Celestial Chi! 

'How pure would Celestial Chi have to be before it could even condense into a liquid form from its gaseous state?'

'How much would the original volume be to the point that liquid Celestial Chi managed to join into an endless ocean?'

'A Celestial Chi this enormous, even a hundred – no, a million fighters would not be able to exhaust it overtime!' 

Meanwhile, the bodiless voice calling to him seemed to be drifting further and further into the distance until it faded into thin air. 

'What is this place? Am I dreaming? But, this doesn't feel like a dream…' A jolt of realization overtook him. 'Could it be that this bizarre place is connected to the Flying Dagger in my head?' The sensation felt on every inch of his body was too convincing to be a dream!

'Could it be,' another thought dawned on him, 'that this vast ocean was just a hidden world inside the Flying Dagger?' 

Ye Chen was filled with uncontrolled wonder toward the mysteries hidden in the Flying Dagger. He recalled hearing the legend of the Dagger, that it was an ancestral treasure of his family but more personally, it was this Flying Dagger that had brought him to this world. 

He was half-awake at this point. The Flying Dagger continued to pour out endless streams of energy and the torrent coursed through all parts of his body, unperturbed. Even the meridian channels that had been damaged were slowly starting to heal on their own as this Celestial Chi soaked and nurtured his wounds. 

Ye Chen's mind was floating in the air, being drifted. Was he asleep or was he awake? 

He lost track of time until he heard a rustling outside of his little cabin which jolted him up from his bed. 

"So was it all a dream or what?" Ye Chen thought out loud. He was drenched in cold sweat but soon realized something had changed. Previously, he had always woken up in excruciating agony as if his body was being ripped apart but today the pain was absent. 

He tried revolving the Chi inside of his body and to his pleasant surprise; his entire meridian channels were filled with the familiar, enigmatic Celestial Chi! 

'My meridian channels!'

'They're healed? My meridian channels are healed!' Ye Chen could not stop shaking. He had just woken up to his damaged meridian channels being mysteriously linked and connected again whilst tidal waves of Celestial Chi coursed about in his newly mended channels all the way to his dantian!

He could not possibly remain nonchalant to this change. In fact, he was filled with euphoria. Three years! For three years his meridian channels had been punctured useless, forcing him to live through all kinds of pain in his life…

Today, today was the day he finally emerged from the darkness that he had succ.u.mbed to for three years!

However, it was those three years that had shaped Ye Chen's mental fort.i.tude. Hence, despite being healed, he did not lose sight of what needed to be done. Patiently and meticulously, he started to inspect his body. 

Every part of his body, as well as his internal organs, seemed to have been given a new life as a stream of Pure Yang Energy raced through.

A term sprang into the young man's head; Pure Yang State!

It was said that when a baby was born, their body was initially filled with Pure Yang Energy; their body clear as jade without a single impurity. Yet as one grew up, the number of toxins acc.u.mulated made the body harder to cultivate and train. It was rumored that only when one attained the Tenth Stage would they unlock the ability to cultivate Celestial Chi that is pure enough to cleanse their body; until it returned to the Pure Yang State akin to a newborn. By then, both the warrior's martial art prowess and longevity would be improved exponentially. 

Some of the n.o.ble families even took the steps to help newborn babies in cultivating their bodies while their Yang Energy was still at its peak by giving them rare alchemical pills in order to maintain their Pure Yang State while they age. 

A person's Celestial Chi may not be incredibly formidable when they had reached Pure Yang State but it would improve a person's ability to absorb Celestial Chi, especially when compared to the body of an average person. Even their cultivation speed would increase tenfold or beyond any average person's. This was why n.o.ble families often produced many martial art prodigies. 

Ye Chen never thought that he would one day attain Pure Yang State this way. He snuck a glance at the Flying Dagger in his mind and thought about the distant voice that whispered in his ear. This Flying Dagger was simply an unsolvable enigma; its origin just as big of a mystery as its purpose. 

When Ye Chen had woken up from that trance, he realized his Celestial Chi was already in the First Stage.

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He started revolving the enigmatic Celestial Chi within his body and discovered that the speed in its circulation was drastically faster in comparison to what it was in the past; including when he was at the prime of his Sixth Stage. 

Ye Chen found himself completely immersed in the mysteries brought by the First Grade of Thunder Emperor Discourse. He may possess a superficial understanding of the technique's secrets but it was more than enough to charm the young man.

A joyful silence hung over the cabin until the sun peeked through the clouds. 

Morning mist shrouded the surrounding of the wooden cabin and because it was situated in the farthest area, they were never many visitors around his part of the Ye Castle complex. As a result, a serene silence hung around under the backdrop of evergreen trees and a quiet creek racing under a small bridge. The surrounding was akin to a wild forest due to the lack of maintenance but within the wilderness was an exhibit of liveliness. 

Ye Chen stepped out of his cabin and took a deep breath of fresh morning air. Since dawn, he felt that the world had taken on a new canvas, so much so that the scent of flowers was dewier. Most of all, he had felt a sense of tranquility which was never felt before. 

After a night of studying the Thunder Emperor Discourse, Ye Chen found many flaws within the Inner Thunderclap Energy Cultivation and had since made some rectification in order to promote the speed of its pract.i.tioner's cultivation by manyfolds. In fact, ever since he had known the dictums of Nine Astra Skies, Ye Chen realized that his overall innate understanding of martial arts increased. 

The Flying Dagger's supply of Celestial Chi never ceased which increasingly fortified Ye Chen's personal Celestial Chi reservoir until he was once again, at the brink of surpa.s.sing the Second Stage. 

Boom! 

A loud peal rang from his dantian as the barrier crumbled instantly before his Celestial Chi. 

'I'm in the Third Stage now!' 

An average person would take at least one or two years' worth to advance from the First to the Third Stage. Yet, in a bewildering speed, Ye Chen had recovered so much Celestial Chi in just one night! 

'Should I tell Father about the Thunder Emperor Discourse?' Ye Chen thought, 'With its aid, Father would be able to improve his powers exponentially and shoot past the Eight or even Ninth Stage. Then, with Old Gramps with us, there would be two Ninth Stage powerhouses in the family. Our force would be very much different from the present. The House of Ye will finally be free of our perilous state.' 

However, as the last three advanced grades of the Thunder Emperor Discourse may come as a shock, Ye Chen thought it best to only share the first three grades with his old man. He would, of course, have to come up with a lie for the origin of his newfound knowledge. 

His father had been exhausting every resource the family had in order to gather enough Chi-ama.s.sing Pills for the nourishment of his meridians, which caused the family to be less influential and less powerful over time. Yet, his father had never complained once while most of his uncles had only love and care to offer their unfortunate nephew. 

'A deed as ma.s.sive as this cannot possibly be sufficiently repaid just by sharing the Thunder Emperor Discourse.' 

A cold glint of light shone in his eyes. 'The ones that had put me through this ordeal will reap worse winds than they have sowed!' 

Ye Chen inhaled and exhaled, calming the anger within him. Ever since he had achieved Pure Yang State, he found his senses sharpened, his mental reflexes nimbler; things he never possessed before. 

After meditating for hours, he got up to get reacquainted with his family's martial arts techniques such as Rumbling Thunder Burst and Roaring Thunder Fist. 

Of all martial arts, Thunder-style techniques were the most lethal. For example, to perform Rumbling Thunder burst, the warrior would muster Thunder-style Celestial Chi to the center of their palms before hurling it at their opponent. When the palm met its target, Thunder-style energy would be blasted into their body, therefore amplifying the impact of a purely physical strike many times more. Meanwhile, to perform Roaring Thunder First, one must always strike fast and in full force, as if the goal is to render the opponent dead. 

Ye Chen had already mastered the two techniques back when he was at his prime at the Sixth Stage. After years of disuse, he was a little rusty with them at the beginning but he mastered it soon enough. 

Deep inside Ye Chen's core, the realization that he was once again able to practice martial arts stirred up an amalgamation of indescribable sentimentalities.

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