An Fei glared spitefully at the outstretched grin on the minister’s countenance. Her eyes glared daggers at Wei Xuan, whilst her mouth was crammed to the point of bursting.
Her cheeks couldn’t store any more food, nor could she even begin to chew.
This wasn’t funny!
The girl shook a dainty fist at the minister, a fierce howl ripping forth in her heart. This was pure bullying of his own daughter when she was distracted, and tormenting in such a fashion as well!
“Fei’er,” Wei Xuan intoned with an amused smile, the exhaustion on his countenance gradually easing away as he teased the young girl before him.
“How do the vegetables taste?”
Two beams of fire struck his heart, causing the minister to laugh without restraint.
Finally having managed to compress the mass of food in her mouth to a manageable amount, the girl fiercely chewed, fuming in her heart.
“Father, you’re too mean!”
The girl’s outraged cry caused Wei Xuan to blink in surprise, before taking a good look at An Fei. Noticing that her countenance was still considerably drained, the minister quickly began to console her with both arms.
“Ah, Father was trying to get you to eat the food before it cooled,” Wei Xuan hastily spoke,
“If you consumed congealed and cold food, that would be rather detrimental to your health…”
Sneaking a glance from the corner of his eye, Wei Xuan noticed that the girl had completely ignored him, instead voraciously digging into the bowl of congee before her as well as the various vegetable dishes strewn across the table.
With a moment of thought, the guilty expression on the minister’s countenance instantly vanished, and a second person joined in on ravaging the plates before them.
“…Father,” An Fei spoke as soon as she had swallowed a generous piece of potato croquet, patting her full stomach in content.
“How… did you do that earlier, the phenomenon that warmed up the air?”
“Hm?” Wei Xuan frowned, his mouth full of xianbing. Chewing for a few moments, the minister finally cleared his throat, before washing his mouth with a cup of longjing tea.
“The phenomenon earlier, do you mean the array I cast earlier to ward off the cold?”
When the girl nodded with an earnest expression on her beautiful countenance, Wei Xuan hesitated for a breath.
“What I did back then,” the minister spoke whilst gesturing towards the floating symbols shimmering in the light.
“It was nothing more than a simplistic array, without a major function or purpose.”
Noticing the girl’s confusion by her gaze, Wei Xuan moved the dishes on the table to the side, before preparing a large bowl of longjing tea. Gazing at the wooden table, the minister composed his thoughts before deigning to reply.
“Arrays are… they can be considered a major application of the benefits obtained from cultivating spiritual essence,” he explained.
“Formations and arrays are purely wordplay empowered by a cultivator’s spiritual essence.”
“Just wordplay?” the girl repeated, a frown on her countenance.
“Mm,” Wei Xuan nodded, dipping his right index finger into the bowl of longjing tea. With swift strokes, the minister drew the symbol for ‘fire’ on the wooden surface.
“The symbol on the table is nothing more than an article of calligraphy, one of many characters for ‘fire’, ‘spark’, or a ‘blaze’. When written, the character possesses little significance other than to convey information.”
With a gentle gesture, the minister prompted An Fei to follow suit. Dipping her finger into the cooled tea and drawing on the smooth wooden surface, the character for ‘blaze’ joined the ‘fire’ on the table.
“However,” Wei Xuan spoke with a grave tone. “When contacting spiritual essence, these mere articles of calligraphy can possess great effect.”
Reaching out with his index finger once more, An Fei noticed that the minister’s right hand was coated in a dense silvery light. The finger descended onto the drying character with an unstoppable momentum that was as light as a breeze.
A pillar of flame soared into the air the moment Wei Xuan’s finger covered in spiritual essence contacted the symbol drawn onto the table, startling An Fei greatly.
Staggering back into the wheelchair from the sudden fright, the girl slowly began to admire the pillar of flame under Wei Xuan’s persistent assurances.
The flame was of a rich combination of scarlet and gold, and a great heat emanated from the core.
To her great surprise, the table directly underneath the flame was completely intact without a single scorch mark; however, the pillar of flame lengthened to a height of two meters above the surface of the wooden table, producing a menacing sight.
“Arrays are completely dependent on a consistent supply of spiritual essence,” Wei Xuan spoke, the pillar of flame rising and shrinking as the silver light emanating from his palm changing in intensity.
“If the supply of spiritual essence is removed, then the array will naturally collapse upon itself.”
Finished speaking, the minister withdrew his finger from the ablaze symbol. The next instant, the domineering pillar of fire meekly vanished into a trail of gray smoke before An Fei’s astonished gaze.
“This… isn’t it simply wondrous?” the girl murmured in shock. “If a person could employ numerous arrays at once, then…”
“Hehe,” the minister chuckled.
“The expenditure of an array regarding spiritual essence is massive if utilized over a prolonged length of time. Hence, though the might of this flame pillar is intimidating and powerful, it is accompanied with an equally overwhelming cost of spiritual essence.”
“Additionally, take this for example.”
Wei Xuan extended his finger to the symbol An Fei had drawn on the table, his palm covered within the silver light once more. When the right index finger contacted the character drawn with longjing tea, the symbol burst into a globe of light instead of a pillar of flame.
“Arrays not only depend on the characters utilized that comprise its foundations, the calligrapher’s intention on the meaning of the symbols similarly determine the finishing result. Though words may possess the same meaning, the style and technique of calligraphy can alter what the array manifests.”
Wiping both symbols from the table with a cloth, the minister gestured towards the shroud of symbols surrounding the pavilion with his hands.
“Anyone can employ arrays, given that they possess the necessary quantity of spiritual essence to empower it. However, those who are successful at manipulating arrays are similarly those who are eloquent with their words and skillful at debates.”
“Then…” the girl hesitated, inquiring in an indecisive tone.
“The interpretation of arrays is circumstantial?”
“Most definitely!” Wei Xuan praised.
“Arrays, in their creation, function, or destruction, are completely open to free interpretation. Just as how the style in which a character is written can alter the finishing result, an array can be bypassed by altering the meaning of one of the functional symbols of the array.”
Hearing Wei Xuan’s explanations, An Fei furrowed her brows as her mind descended into deep thought. The minister’s lecture regarding arrays incited an idea to germinate within her mind, a subtle interest that gently coaxed her thoughts.
Before she could fall into an absentminded daze, Wei Xuan’s cheerful voice interrupted from above.
“Never mind all of that, however,” the minister strode over to ‘console’ the young girl. “Fei’er, just continue absorbing the spiritual qi within the atmosphere as much as you can. Don’t worry about it too much, for you’ll only possess sufficient spiritual essence only upon reaching the Foundation Establishment Realm!”
Foundation Establishment Realm…
As a faint sigh escaped An Fei’s lips, a startled voice snapped both the father and daughter duo back to their senses. As the latter gazed at the entrant in curiosity, the former seemed to be concealing a slightly awkward gaze…
“Lord Minister, why are you… eating at the pavilion besides the lake? Didn’t you promise to eat lunch with both Sister Shuyan and I?”