Chapter 3: Qi Refining Layer

[Last updated on March 9, 2021]

The appearance of Xu Hong confirmed Yu Qiu’s suspicion that he had indeed come back. He went back to the beginning, at the moment he first entered the path of being an immortal. He was really reborn.

This made Yu Qiu very happy, and his joy made him forget the unhappiness of having seen Xu Hong again.

Meanwhile, Xu Hong lingered for a moment outside the door. He wondered, “Was I treated as a swindler?” And then he left.

Walked away for good.

Back then, it was Xu Hong who brought Yu Qiu through the door of the Immortal path, creating good karma between them. In the hundreds of years they were together, Yu Qiu had long paid off Xu Hong for his graces, yet their karma continued to be entwined and entangled with each other, becoming unclear. But then, no matter who was more grateful to whom or who owed more to whom, in the end, with Yu Qiu’s rebirth, all the debt of gratitude he had in his past life was now turned into dust.1Keeping track of every single favor a person owes you and whatnot might sound baffling to Westerners, but it’s quite common in Asian countries. And the “owing” and “paying back,” in this case, doesn’t exactly work like a business transaction where, once the debt is paid, you can just forget about it. Asians value social relationships a lot. Even after the “debt is paid,” both parties will still try to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship.

Yu Qiu had refused to go with Xu Hong, disrupting the causes and effects2因果 – Also translated as “karma.” of this world. In this world, Yu Qiu’s path will contain no shadow of Xu Hong. He even wished he’d never see Xu Hong again in this life… though he knew that it was unlikely.

Yu Qiu exhaled deeply, then went to the inner room. He looked at the old man still lying on the bed, and his heart gradually settled down. Since he had returned to the beginning, then this man was no doubt his true father.

Yu Qiu rolled up his sleeves and once again looked at the circle above his wrist. After knowing that the body he was in was actually his own body, Yu Qiu can confirm that this strange pattern did not belong on him.

What is this? Could my rebirth be related to this?

Yu Qiu recalled the small voice he heard before he was born again. He guessed that his situation should also be related to that voice, along with this circle. However, he did not know what that voice was.

The unknown would always bring anxiety, but they were not worth panicking over and being indecisive.

Since Yu Qiu had been reborn, then naturally, he would want to…

… continue studying seals and talismans.

Yes, to Yu Qiu, nothing was more important. He loved it so much! In his past life, before he fell into the hands of the Shadow Demon, he had been researching on a new way of drawing seals. He had already studied about half of it, but when he died, he couldn’t finish his research. This was his greatest regret. Unexpectedly, there was now a chance to continue, and Yu Qiu felt very moved.

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However, even if he wanted to study Seal Cultivation, he couldn’t. He had no cultivation, no materials, no crystal, and his soul force was very weak. Drawing a ghost seal alone would consume most of it. Should he start on Qi refining? Yu Qiu seemed to be going through the profound experience where even the cleverest housewife couldn’t cook without rice3巧妇难为无米之炊 – Idiom that means “People who are more capable than others can hardly succeed if they lack the necessary conditions when doing things.”.

But before starting on his own cultivation path, he tucked the quilt in for the old man on the bed.

Afterwards, Yu Qiu pulled open the curtain and went into the living room. He found some stuff to block the broken door plank, then he sat cross-legged on the floor. He began to adjust his breathing according to the way he remembered.

The first step in cultivation was called Qi Refining.

Before the Foundation Establishment, cultivators who had not yet unlocked their spiritual skills would try to tap into the spiritual qi of the heavens and the earth by practicing a special breathing method. For several weeks, they would control the circulation of qi inside their body before exhaling it out and inhaling new spiritual qi.This continuous to and fro circulation process was called Qi Refining.

Through this process, the cultivator’s meridians would be cleansed and his body would also develop its inner essence. 

Qi Refining was the first challenge a mortal would face upon entering a sect.

Even when Yu Qiu had achieved this layer before, he still had to try and try again on this first challenge. At midnight, Yu Qiu’s forehead was dripping with sweat. He had circulated his qi throughout his meridians, and it would take him half a week before he could expel it.

Although the methods of Qi Refining were no secret in the mortal world, a lot of ordinary people would get stuck in this stage, making immortality seem like a vague dream. It made many people to think that Qi Refining was just ridiculous.

Without proper guidance, many people would not be able to step out of this layer their whole life. However, if one could receive guidance from a cultivator who had reached at least the fifth layer, then this step can become extremely easy.

Therefore, having a teacher to guide you is very important.

But Yu Qiu did not need a guide.

If he couldn’t do it once, then he’d do it two, three times. Even if he failed for thirty, three hundred, or three thousand times, he’d just keep on going until success is achieved.

While Yu Qiu was practicing, he did not notice that the strange circle-like pattern above his wrist was flickering–bright, dark, bright–with every attempt he made.

After countless times, dawn had broken.

Yu Qiu had still not given up. Another round of spiritual qi was introduced into his body and into the Eight Extraordinary Meridians4奇经八脉 (qí jīng bā mài) – These act as reservoirs or pathways for the circulation of Qi, his four limbs and his bones. Just one meridian more. He failed on this point last time, but this time, with an inhale of spiritual qi and under Yu Qiu’s control, he finally passed through the last one!

After one last round of qi circulation, he finally succeeded. The circle above his wrist was also flashing fiercely at this moment before resuming to normal.

Yu Qiu was soaked in sweat.

Yet he didn’t stop to rest immediately. The polishing of the body and the spirit was very little in one cycle. The important thing was to complete the second and third cycles while his body had not forgotten the feeling. Until the feeling had been completely ingrained into his body, only then can it be assured that he can naturally finish the whole process on the next time.

It was only when the sky had turned bright did Yu Qiu eventually stop.

He opened his eyes, swept his sweaty hair away from his forehead, and stretched out his legs which had been folded all night. He tried to get up, but fell askew on the ground.

Yu Qiu was stunned for a while before he remembered that he had not slept or eaten all night… After all, he hadn’t considered eating and sleeping as a daily necessity for many years. 

Fortunately, the physical condition wasn’t too bad. After a night of cultivation, his body had always improved a little better.

He had entered through the door of immortality and successfully transformed from being an ordinary man to a cultivator of the Qi Refining layer.

Although being in the Qi Refining layer was not much different from being a mortal…

Yu Qiu was so hungry that he wanted to find something to eat in the house, but the family didn’t even have a single grain of rice.

Yu Qiu went into the room to see if the old man was awake.

The sight frightened him. The old man did not wake up, and he also had a fever!

Didn’t he take care of his injuries yesterday?

Yu Qiu rushed out of the room without thinking. But before he left, he placed a Rejuvenation5Actual characters used in the raws would literally translate as “Spring Return” Talisman on the man. Now he was desperately looking for a doctor.

Doctor… Where is the doctor?

Yu Qiu was not familiar with this mortal place.

He had to knock on the neighbors’ doors and ask them for help.

But when the neighbors saw him, they reacted as if they’d seen something horrifying. They avoided Yu Qiu like a plague6就避如蛇蝎一样退开了老远 – Actual words used here were something like “they retreated like snakes and scorpions,” where snakes and scorpions is a metaphor for vicious people. without even waiting for him to explain his intentions.

Under the neighbor’s eyes full of disgust, Yu Qiu heard several words intermittently.

“Death star!”

“Fool! Idiot!”

“Crazy boy! Get lost!”

These seemed to be what the neighbors thought of him.

But Yu Qiu acted like he didn’t hear anything. When a family shunned him, he’d knock on a different door, and on a different door, on a different… He had knocked on every door, but the people always had something to say about him. Can’t they just tell him where to find a doctor!

But none of them ever did.

Yu Qiu really didn’t expect that his reputation in this area had fallen to this point.

Of course he could continue to knock, but how long could the old man wait?

Just as Yu Qiu was on the verge of despair, he heard a voice behind him. “Isn’t this xiao7The xiao here means “small” or “little,” and it’s often added to a name as a way of affectionately calling someone Qiu from my uncle’s house?”

Yu Qiu was stunned and looked back quickly.

Standing there was a teenager as old as him. But compared with Yu Qiu’s ragged clothes and thin face, the teenager was dressed in gorgeous clothes and had skin as white as snow. His facial features were indescribably beautiful. He had thin lips, a straight nose, and his eyes were like stars in the sky.

The teenager was perplexed upon seeing him. “Why are you here? Has Uncle Yu allowed you to go out?”

Yu Qiu had no time to appreciate his beauty at all. Seeing him coming, he rushed over, wanting to grasp unto him like a life-saving straw. “Do you know where I can find a doctor?”

A doctor? The teenager was caught off guard for a moment, but as he thought of something, he frowned. “Yesterday… Was Uncle Yu badly beaten?”

Yu Qiu nodded frantically.

The teenager grabbed Yu Qiu’s hand and pulled him towards a direction.

Yu Qiu’s dirty hands stained his tender and white skin, but the latter didn’t mind at all and just held onto him tightly.

Soon, the teenager stopped at a door. There was a plaque on the door, which said “Rejuvenation Hall.”

“Who brought that beggar here!” In this busy street, Yu Qiu’s tattered clothes was so conspicuous that it immediately attracted the attention of the supervisor in Huichun Hall.

The teenager pulled Yu Qiu along as he approached the supervisor.

When the man saw the face of the teenager beside Yu Qiu, his face immediately changed color, and it was hard to tell if he was laughing or crying. “Ah, so it was Xiao-gongzi8Gongzi is a term of adress used for the son of an official. It’s often translated as “young master”…”

Was Xiao this young man’s surname? Yu Qiu secretly remembered it in his heart and vowed to one day repay him for his kindness.

This youth surnamed Xiao instantly took out a silver ingot and handed it to the manager. “Where’s Doctor Zhang? There’s someone who needs his help.”

“Xiao-gongzi, you…” The manager looked at the ingot, and it was embarrassing whether he accepted it or not. Finally, he gritted his teeth and took it; still, he could not help but murmur in discontent. “Why are you like this… It’s always like this. When will you ever change?”

Faced with his concern, Xiao-gongzi simply offered a smile.

The steward sighed and put away the money. Soon, a little old man came out with a box on his back.

The young man surnamed Xiao took Yu Qiu’s hand again and then rushed back to Yu Qiu’s place with Doctor Zhang.

While Doctor Zhang was checking the old man’s injury, the young man surnamed Xiao looked for a place to sit on in the house, but when he found that Yu Qiu’s home had no proper chair, he went outside. In the backyard, he found a pile of wood and finally sat down.

Yu Qiu followed him outside.

“Don’t worry.” The teenager said with a smile. “Doctor Zhagn is the best in treating injuries.”

“Thank you.” Yu Qiu nodded, and then asked, “What is your name?”

Yu Qiu was not good at expressing his feelings with words. He did not know how to make his gratitude more sincere. All he could do was to remember this person and find a chance to repay him.

He believed that there will be opportunities. After all, he was a cultivator. Although now he was only at the difficult beginning, one day he will be able to get through it.

“Xiao Chunmian.” The teenager smiled as he answered, “From the words spring, sleep, and dawn.”

For a teenager, this was a very soft and lazy name. Yu Qiu couldn’t help but be surprised.

Then Xiao Chunmian asked with a little hesitation, “Xiao Qiu, are you alright now?”

Such a vague question, but Yu Qiu understood.

“I don’t know.” Yu Qiu scratched his head, pretending to be ignorant. “I just fell asleep yesterday and when I woke up, my brain suddenly understood a lot.”

Xiao Chunmian stared at Yu Qiu in surprise. “That’s great!”

Yu Qiu smiled.

“Xiao-gongzi,” said Yu Qiu. “Why are you helping me?”

“This is because…”

Xiao Chunmian was trying to answer when some people suddenly broke into the dilapidated courtyard.

In the middle of the group was a middle-aged but still attractive noble woman.

When Xiao Chunmian saw her, his face changed.  He immediately rose from the log and greeted respectfully, “Mother…”

“You disgraceful thing!” The woman, however, in a mad manner, rushed straight to Xiao Chunmian without even listening to him. She slapped him on the cheek so hard that it made a loud, crisp sound.

Her long nails even put a scar on Xiao Chunmian’s face.


Translator's Corner
Lizonka: I read a bit ahead, and I honestly still can’t tell who the ML is. Is it Xiao Chunmian? Or the Shadow Demon? Who knows…

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Lizonka
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