The study of the Flowing Wind Residence greeted the first breath of spring in a fit of uneventful stillness.
Two maidservants scuttled about, drawing back the curtains and tidying the various articles of furniture, chattering to each other regarding a vast area of subjects, not shying from politics, cultivation, to even street gossip.
They seemed not like servants, but more like blood-related siblings.
From their actions, demeanor, or aura, there was not a single inclination of the submission or timidity found in the commonplace servant belonging to an official’s manor.
“Fourth Young Miss, do you have any special requests for breakfast this morning?”
One of the maidservants called towards the depths of the study, slinging a thick padding of fabric around her body as she picked up a basket with her right hand. Grabbing a red parasol of oiled paper, the servant paused at the door, her head tilted to the side.
“This… maybe some xiaolongbao? Oh, and a little bit of soy sauce would be perfect.”
A soft voice rang from the center of the building, obscured by a dense maze of fabric and furniture.
Hearing the hesitant desire within, the maidservant chuckled with a hearty smile before unlocking the double doors with an experienced hand.
“Then, this servant will be back. Sister Ying, take care of the Fourth Young Miss!”
Xiao Wen called as she raced out of the study. Making sure to close the doors to divert the chilly temperature, the maidservant took a deep breath of fresh air, a happy smile blooming on her pretty countenance.
“The first breath of spring is truly beautiful…”
Rolling her neck and stretching her arms, Xiao Wen grasped the wooden basket with her hand. As the maidservant dashed through the Flowing Wind Residence, the nearby servants could hear her muttering several words under her breath.
“Xiaolongbao with the edges trimmed neatly, with a side of scallops. Xiaolongbao…”
The actual spoken content produced a rather comical clash with the solemn expression on her countenance, yet Xiao Wen couldn’t care.
“Fourth Young Miss, shouldn’t you be resting?” Xiao Ying called from the fringes of the study.
“Reading the <Golden Lotus of Establishment> this early in the morning, wouldn’t it become detrimental to the Fourth Young Miss’ condition?”
“Xiao Ying, be at ease, I’ll just be reading the manual,” a young girl replied from the drawing table.
“I won’t be pondering on its contents until I recovered, just as I promised.”
“Then that’s good! The Fourth Young Miss, when the temperature warms, should step outside to experience the fresh air outside, ah!”
Conversing with the maidservant as she cheerfully dusted the furniture near the walls, the girl revealed a small smile before adjusting her position on the half-moon chair.
Relaxing her shoulders, she reached for a thin book with a tattered leather cover and bold calligraphy.
<Golden Lotus of Establishment>.
Described from Wei Xuan’s perspective, the manual clenched within her hand was a complete set of cultivation and martial arts techniques.
Furthermore, it could bolster a cultivator to the Nascent Soul Realm, equivalent with the emperor of Great Yong and the powerhouses of the Shattered Star Continent.
That was of course, disregarding the <Heavenly Secrets> smuggled into her possession by an elder of the Three Lotus Sect.
Since her verbal mishap, An Fei had reluctantly but dutifully upheld the role of a diligent learner.
Ultimately, most of her knowledge was exhorted from the unwitting maidservants. In their defense, they were more than willing to provide supplementary knowledge to the Fourth Young Miss, thus forming a remarkably awkward cycle of events.
“A complete set of martial arts and cultivation techniques…” the girl murmured to herself, tapping on the leather cover with her knuckles.
“No wonder why those people were scrambling for completed techniques back at the mysterious Pagoda of Sun and Moon…”
Cultivation and martial arts, were inevitably interrelated by a close and fragile thread. If complemented in a balanced resolution, the practitioner was capable of producing a might far surpassing the limit his original abilities could exert through a single technique.
Similarly, any disruptions in the delicate balance between a practitioner’s cultivation or martial arts capability completely disemboweled such benefit, transforming into a nasty thorn that ate at the practitioner’s abilities.
Thus, many sought after complete martial arts and cultivation techniques, to minimize such risk or scenario.
Complete martial arts and cultivation techniques referred to a generic technique that simultaneously spanned a specific node of cultivation and martial arts, thus nullifying the issue regarding the compatibility of a cultivation method and a martial arts technique.
Additionally, such completed techniques could achieve a farther potential than individual techniques, which raised their overall value by a significant margin.
If compared to the average cultivation or martial arts technique, the <Golden Lotus of Establishment> could be considered a technique of the highest caliber.
It was a pity that its current practitioner had been desensitized by a cruel and merciless location called the Archive of Time, hence the ‘pinnacle’ technique was nothing more than a piece of scrap fabric in the young girl’s perspective.
The <Eternal Sanctum> defined mortal cultivation as nothing more than the occasional pastime, hence how could a pitiful <Golden Lotus of Establishment> compare?
If it wasn’t for her laziness and verbal mishap, An Fei would not dare to peruse the book held in her hand.
“The <Golden Lotus of Establishment> culminates a permanently operating array utilizing the physical body as a medium,” the girl read, her fingers drumming on the drawing table in distraction.
“Merging the spiritual essence gathered at a Yin acupuncture point with that of a Yang acupuncture point, passing the combined mixture through the governing vessel and allowing the extremes to fuse, the expelled spiritual essence is many folds more consistent and effective compared to that of the practitioner’s reserves.”
“The merging of spiritual essence must be gathered from acupuncture points contralateral to the other prior to passing through the governing vessel. Additionally, the practitioner is to gather and refine spiritual qi via the conception vessel, separating and distributing the refined spiritual essence into the respective Yin and Yang acupuncture points.”
“The <Golden Lotus of Establishment> enables the practitioner to simultaneously utilize multiple streams of spiritual essence through the means of merging the spiritual essence gathered from specific acupuncture points.”
An Fei raised an eyebrow in interest, lifting her roaming fingers to reach for a brush. Utilizing deft, accurate strokes, the brush drew the outline of a compact lotus with its petals arranged into levels akin to a tower.
“Each combination of acupuncture points converges into a petal; eighteen petals form a layer, and the practitioner at the attainment of perfection, will be capable of conjuring eight layers at any given instant.”
Eighteen petals form a layer, and eight layers can be utilized at a maximum… which entails that a practitioner who cultivated the <Golden Lotus of Establishment> would be capable of wielding a hundred and forty-four combinations of spiritual essence…
How did that compare to other techniques?
“Xiao Ying,” the young girl called, startling the maidservant who had just placed aside the dusting feather.
“Can you come over for a moment?”
“Fourth Young Miss?”
Shaking her head and scratching the back of her right ear, Xiao Ying waded through the barrier of furniture. Coming to a stop before the young girl, the maidservant angled her head to the side, her pretty countenance reflecting sole confusion.
“Fourth Young Miss, what’s the matter?”
“Here,” An Fei pointed to a line in the book with the tattered leather cover.
“Is the <Golden Lotus of Establishment> an effective technique?”
Xiao Ying paused, accepting the book from the Fourth Young Miss. Her eyes scanning the exposed pages in a swift manner, the maidservant’s mouth soon puckered into an ‘oh’ of astonishment, praise evident in her gaze.
“Fourth Young Miss,” Xiao Ying dutifully responded with her eyes glued to the page.
“The sheer potential of the <Golden Lotus of Establishment> is truly astounding. A hundred forty-four simultaneous combinations with each combination representing a cultivator’s normal usage of spiritual essence… this servant cannot dare imagine the sheer destructive potential…”
“This technique is absolutely monstrous in its capability; no wonder why Master praised it as such. However, the Fourth Young Miss must become aware that although the <Golden Lotus of Establishment> promises an extravagant result upon perfection, attaining that stage will pose a difficulty surmounting that of other cultivation techniques…”
“If it’s that difficult to cultivate, then why are you ravaging that book, ah?” the young girl teased, the pair of scarlet eyes narrowed in amusement.
“Your eyes refuse to leave those pages alone, just listen to the manual screaming for help, ah!”
“Fourth Young Miss! Hmph, since the Fourth Young Miss requires rest, then this servant shall retain this manual for safekeeping! Perhaps this servant might even become able to transition into this cultivation technique, or gain insight from the contents at the minimum!”
Xiao Ying pouted, her countenance dying a healthy shade of scarlet. Poking her tongue out of her mouth towards An Fei, the maidservant clutched the <Golden Lotus of Establishment> and raced towards the fringes of the study, leaving behind a young girl with a wry smile.
An Fei suddenly frowned, an interesting and potentially dangerous idea germinating in her mind…