Half an hour later, Bao Gu staggered onto the shore, feeling completely exhausted. She collapsed by the stream, unable to even muster the strength to put on her clothes. After resting for a while, she picked up the jade slip that Yu Mi had thrown into the bushes and held it in her hand, trying to sense its contents. However, she found that she couldn’t “see” clearly. Bao Gu weakly lay back in the bushes and casually placed the jade slip on her forehead. Unexpectedly, she felt a cool sensation seeping into her forehead, which cleared her hazy mind and allowed her to “see” many words.
Bao Gu’s spirits lifted, and she quickly went to look for the “Zhu Ming Fruit” she had eaten before. The jade slip detailed the appearance, growth habits, and effects of the Zhu Ming Fruit tree, stating that it was easy to cultivate and could thrive in fertile land with abundant spiritual energy. It was a common low-level spiritual tree in the cultivation world, classified as a first-tier plant. The Zhu Ming Fruit was highly effective in purging impurities from the body and was the main ingredient for refining purifying elixirs, suitable for cultivators in the Qi Refining and Foundation Building stages.
Seeing that the fruit was indeed harmless, Bao Gu felt relieved.
Her severe reaction was due to consuming too much of the fruit and its potent medicinal properties, which caused a sudden expulsion of a large amount of impurities, making her body struggle to cope. She knew nothing about cultivation, feeling like she had stepped into a completely different world from the mortal realm.
Realizing that there was too much she wanted to understand, she didn’t expect to grasp everything at once. She felt it was necessary to first understand what the Qi Refining stage was, as it was the cultivation path she would undertake next. After that, she needed to finish reading the jade slip that Yu Mi had given her, which detailed the knowledge of plants, trees, and demonic beasts in the cultivation world. This directly related to her future survival. What if she didn’t understand and accidentally ate poisonous fruit? Or encountered seemingly inconspicuous but powerful demonic beasts and lost her life?
Bao Gu first put the jade slip into her storage bag, then took out the two jade slips Yu Mi had given her the previous night. One was titled “Battle Techniques,” containing knowledge and skills related to combat, as well as concepts like “battle intent” and “sword intent.” Bao Gu scanned through it and found it too profound and incomprehensible. The second jade slip was titled “Cultivation Method: Refining Essence and Converting Qi.”
Refining Essence and Converting Qi, abbreviated as “cultivating Qi,” referred to the so-called Qi Refining stage, which explained how to refine the body’s essence and blood into true Qi. The first step was to comprehend the spiritual energy of heaven and earth and absorb it into the body, guiding it into the dantian along the meridians according to the cultivation method in the jade slip. Bao Gu, having read many miscellaneous books, knew that the dantian was divided into three parts: upper, middle, and lower dantian. The upper dantian was located at the Ren Mai acupoint on the forehead, also known as the “Niwan Palace”; the middle dantian was located at the chest’s center, where the essence gathered; and the lower dantian was located three inches below the navel, where the essence was stored. She had read in her previous books that the dantian was the place where a person’s essence, energy, and spirit were stored. The cultivation method given to her by Yu Mi focused on the lower dantian, where the essence was stored.
There were three methods for absorbing the spiritual energy of heaven and earth: first, sitting and breathing to absorb the dispersed spiritual energy in the air; second, consuming foods containing abundant spiritual energy such as spiritual herbs, fruits, and precious items from heaven and earth; and third, absorbing spiritual stones formed from concentrated spiritual energy crystals. Spiritual stones were generally found in mineral veins with abundant spiritual energy and were classified into four grades based on their purity: top-grade, high-grade, medium-grade, and low-grade.
Bao Gu knew that spiritual stones were also known as the “currency” of the cultivation world. Being poor, she had never seen what the currency of the cultivation world looked like, let alone used it for cultivation. Relying on absorbing the dispersed spiritual energy in the air was too slow! With her talent being described as “five waste roots,” she estimated that she wouldn’t achieve much even after sitting for a hundred years.
Without any “currency” to absorb, she could only resort to the second method—eating! She didn’t have spiritual stones, but she did have spiritual fruits, even if they were just first-tier Zhu Ming Fruits. Their effects were significant, and she could tell from her bowel movements, vomit, and sweat. Bao Gu felt that she had eaten eight Zhu Ming Fruits in one go, and they definitely contained a large amount of spiritual energy. She couldn’t afford to waste it!
After enduring three years of famine, she couldn’t bear to waste food. Following the guidance of the cultivation method, she sat cross-legged, closed her eyes, and focused on sensing the spiritual energy in her body—then, she had another bout of diarrhea!
Bao Gu could only scramble to get up, run to a distant big tree, and relieve herself.
Afterwards, she tried to meditate on drawing the spiritual energy from the Zhu Ming Fruits into her dantian, but she felt none of the “energy” described in the jade slip. By noon, Bao Gu had not made any progress in her cultivation. She had another bout of diarrhea, was still sweating, and had to run upstream to drink water. She simply couldn’t settle down to breathe and absorb the spiritual energy. She decided to set aside the cultivation method for now. After all, it would be dark in a few hours, and she didn’t want to spend another night crouching behind the eaves. Besides, there was still that row of stinky mess behind the house. How could she sleep?
Bao Gu pulled out two pieces of grass, rolled them into long strips, and stuffed them into her nostrils to block the smell. She covered her mouth and held her breath as she returned to the small wooden house. When she couldn’t hold her breath any longer, she slowly breathed through the grass-stuffed nostrils.
In the early morning, she quickly checked the house. It was divided into three rooms. The main room was simple, with a long wooden table and four stools. In the corner were various tools and a woven medicine basket. The bedroom on the left was spartan, with only a mat on the bed and no pillow. The room on the right was the kitchen, and from a quick glance in the morning, it seemed to be well-equipped. Bao Gu didn’t have time to look around more and immediately grabbed a hoe and shovel, carrying the medicine basket, and rushed to the yard to dig and bury the stinky mess in the backyard.
An hour later, a large pit appeared near the left side of the wooden house, and a long row of fresh soil was piled up in the backyard, finally eliminating the stench in the air. Bao Gu, who rarely did heavy work, had developed large blisters on her hands and her shoulders were sore from carrying the soil. She took a short break and then looked at the large pit she had dug. The house was sturdy, with a main room, a kitchen, but no toilet! She had to run far away every time she needed to relieve herself, almost soiling herself several times.
A toilet was a must! Bao Gu wrapped a belt around her arm, lifted the kitchen floor, and dug a larger pit, deep enough to reach her waist. She then smoothed and leveled the pit, compacting the soil near the edges to prevent collapse. Thinking that the edges were prone to collapse, she chopped down a tree and used its branches to reinforce the edges, stacking small stones between the branches and the soil. Finally, she split the felled tree into pieces and laid them over the pit, leaving only a half-foot-wide gap.
After completing these tasks, Bao Gu was covered in sweat, feeling sore and thirsty. She looked up and saw that the sun was setting, leaving only a trace of sunset glow in the sky.
A voice came from behind her, “What are you doing?” It was Yu Mi’s voice. She stood on a flying sword, hovering above the wooden fence, looking down at Bao Gu.
Bao Gu replied, “I’m digging a toilet! This was your yard before, right? Senior Sister, don’t you need a toilet? There isn’t even one here!”
Yu Mi frowned and asked, “You’ve been doing this all day?” She looked Bao Gu up and down, thinking to herself: After eating eight Zhu Ming Fruits and having such severe diarrhea without fainting, she still had the energy to do these useless things. She hadn’t realized that the skinny Bao Gu actually had a strong physical foundation.
Bao Gu asked, “Is there a problem? Senior Sister, where did you use the toilet before?” Yu Mi’s brow furrowed even more, almost forming a “囧” character.
Bao Gu guessed that her Senior Sister must have been going to the wilderness to relieve herself in an unrefined manner. She glanced at her Senior Sister with disdain but didn’t say anything. She opened her palms, which were already blistered from the heavy work, and said, “Senior Sister, look, I’m injured. Do you have any medicine?”
Yu Mi looked at the insignificant “injury” on Bao Gu’s palm and asked, “This counts as an injury?” Nevertheless, she took out two bottles of medicine and tossed them to Bao Gu, saying, “The pills are for internal detoxification, and the powder is an external application to stop bleeding and promote tissue regeneration. There are many demonic beasts in the mountains, and these medicines might save your life someday.”
Bao Gu was about to apply the medicine to her hand when she hesitated upon hearing Yu Mi’s words. She decided not to apply the medicine and instead put it into her storage bag. Seeing Yu Mi about to fly away, she hurriedly called out, “Senior Sister, did you come to see me because you forgot something?”
“What do you mean by ‘forgot something’?” Yu Mi didn’t even turn around and said, “I just came to see if you’ve become the first person in the cultivation world to have diarrhea and die from eating Zhu Ming Fruits. Seeing that you’re still alive and kicking, I can rest assured that I won’t have to collect your corpse!”
“Collect my corpse?” Bao Gu spat out a few “ptui ptui ptui”s and said, “May you live a long life, and may your words be as harmless as a child’s!”
Yu Mi’s flying sword paused, and she looked back at Bao Gu deeply before shifting her gaze to the pit. She shook her head in silence and flew away. She decided not to tell Bao Gu that there was a toilet and outhouse a hundred paces behind the house, to prevent the hardworking Bao Gu from crying in the newly dug pit. After all, it wasn’t her place to stay, so she could let Bao Gu sit in the yard and cultivate amidst the stench of the outhouse.