As the saying goes, sharpening your axe will not delay the work of cutting wood. Bao Gu knew that her talent for cultivation was not outstanding and that cultivation was not something that could be achieved overnight. Even when Yu Mi trained her so rigorously that she didn’t dare to lift her head, she still followed her own pace and did things her way.
Bao Gu carefully stored away the “Qi Refining Pill” that Yu Mi had given her and peeked out the window at the sky, only to realize that it was already high noon. She hadn’t expected to wake up so late, having slept until late morning.
Bao Gu hurried to the kitchen to fetch water for washing up. While washing her face, she actually scrubbed off a layer of dirt, turning the water murky.
Bao Gu knew this was the effect of the Zhu Ming fruit, but she hadn’t expected her body to contain so much impurity! If her face was like this, her body would be even worse. Bao Gu simply went to a place far from her residence to relieve herself of the particularly smelly waste, and then cleaned herself thoroughly in the creek outside the courtyard before returning to her room.
She didn’t dare to wear the two sets of brand-new sect uniforms that Yu Mi had just brought her, instead changing into the clean clothes she had hung by the creek.
Perhaps because she had eaten too many Zhu Ming fruits yesterday, Bao Gu didn’t feel hungry at all. She drank some salt mixed with cold boiled water and continued her work with a hoe in hand.
Last night, while washing mats in the courtyard, she noticed there were no drainage ditches. She dug a drainage ditch around the house where there were traces of dripping water from the eaves. The ditch led to the latrine pit she had dug the day before. Afterwards, she went to the forest outside the courtyard to cut some trees and found some sturdy vines and large leaves to build a simple latrine shelter above the pit.
Bao Gu was well aware of how smelly the waste expelled after eating Zhu Ming fruits could be. She didn’t want to smell it all day, so she made a lid similar to a toilet seat to prevent the odor. After finishing these tasks, she finally felt that the courtyard was barely fit for living.
Since Bao Gu couldn’t distinguish between spiritual herbs and weeds which meant she didn’t dare to touch the vegetation in the courtyard. Afraid of stepping on spiritual herbs, she was extremely cautious, trying to walk on the traces of the old path in the courtyard.
After busying herself, Bao Gu was covered in smelly sweat and dirt once again. She took another bath in the creek and then returned to her room to study the jade slip containing knowledge of spiritual herbs and medicines.
Bao Gu had always enjoyed reading since she was young, and the knowledge recorded in the jade slip fascinated her. She studied it so intently that she was completely absorbed.
The jade slips of the cultivation world were different from the books of the mortal world. You only need to place them on your forehead to read them, and you can even read in the dark without a light.
If it weren’t for the fact that she had to get up early in the morning to practice Qi Refining, she would have wanted to read non-stop, day and night.
Bao Gu ate eight Zhu Ming fruits in one go and didn’t feel hungry for three days, which made her realize that Zhu Ming fruits could not only expel impurities from the body but also satiate hunger. She decided to treat Zhu Ming fruits as her meals, eating one every day at noon to cleanse and fill her stomach.
Every day, as soon as it was slightly light, she would get up, eat a “Qi Refining Pill” given by Yu Mi, and sit on the stone bridge over the creek outside the courtyard to meditate and refine Qi while facing the morning sun.
Although she couldn’t feel the “Qi” mentioned in the cultivation technique, breathing in the fresh air filled with the fragrance of grass and the moisture of the creek made her feel comfortable all over. After eating the “Qi Refining Pill,” she always felt a warm sensation spreading from her lower abdomen to her entire body.
Also, because of the effect of the Zhu Ming fruits, she would expel a layer of impurities after each meditation session, feeling refreshed and clear-headed, as if even her memory had improved. She could understand and remember the knowledge of spiritual herbs and medicines recorded in the jade slip after reading it once, roughly memorize it after the second time, and recite it by heart after the third time.
Bao Gu wasn’t surprised by this; her memory had always been good. In the past, she could remember things after reading them four or five times. Now, in the quiet mountains, without the disturbance of the outside world, it was natural for her memory to improve. Moreover, the descriptions of each spiritual herb and medicine were only a few hundred words long, accompanied by images identical to the real thing. With images complementing the text, the memory effect was naturally very clear.
Eating one Zhu Ming fruit and one Qi Refining Pill every day, and meditating for about two hours, Bao Gu finally felt a faint “Qi” in her body after half a month. She knew this was the “Qi” mentioned in “Qi Refining into Essence,” the true Qi.
Although it was only a little, it greatly encouraged Bao Gu. The existence of this “Qi” let her know that she had stepped into the first stage of the Qi Refining period. She carefully followed the guidance of the cultivation technique to lead this “Qi.”
She guided it very cautiously, not daring to be careless. Finally, under her guidance, the “Qi” entered the Dantian, located three inches below her navel. She then followed the cultivation technique’s guidance to lead it out of the Dantian, intending to circulate it along the meridians once more. However, she found that when the “Qi” came out of the Dantian and encountered acupoints, it was difficult to lead it further, as if it was blocked. She understood that this was because the “Qi” in her body was too little, and the meridians and acupoints in the human body were not unobstructed. In the future, she would need to use the “Qi” in her body to gradually open these acupoints. The little “Qi” she currently had was not enough to open these meridians and acupoints.
Half a month of cultivation allowed Bao Gu to enter the first stage of the Qi Refining period, and she was already very satisfied.
She had read some biographies of Taoist cultivators in the past, and those people needed at least three to five years of daily meditation and Qi cultivation to feel the “Qi” in their bodies. With the help of Zhu Ming fruits and the Qi Refining Pills given by Yu Mi, she achieved this in half a month. This gave Bao Gu hope for the future and made her deeply realize the importance of the assistance of miraculous medicines and pills.
The Zhu Ming fruit tree was laden with fruits, and even if she ate one every day, she could still eat for more than half a year. However, Yu Mi had given her all the Qi Refining Pills she had. Seeing how reluctant Yu Mi was to give her the pills, Bao Gu knew that Yu Mi would not be willing to give her a second bottle.
One should strive to be self-reliant; being able to provide for oneself is a true skill, and relying on her senior sister’s charity was not a long-term solution.
Bao Gu then pinned her hopes for advancement on the spiritual herbs and medicines in the courtyard.
In half a month, she had finished studying the jade slip and could recite it from memory. She was thoroughly familiar with the habits and effects of these spiritual herbs and medicines.
After finishing her cultivation, Bao Gu did not sit by the creek to study the jade slip as usual. Instead, she got up and went back to the courtyard to start weeding. In the process of weeding, she discovered many spiritual herbs and medicines suitable for Qi Refining cultivators, and occasionally some suitable for Foundation Building cultivators.
Bao Gu carried a medicine basket on her back, pulling out the weeds and stuffing them into the basket to be thrown far away from the courtyard.
The courtyard was too large, and there were too many weeds. Bao Gu was afraid of damaging the spiritual herbs, so she pulled them out very carefully, making slow progress. Fortunately, she had plenty of time. Every day, apart from meditating and sleeping at night, she squatted in the courtyard pulling weeds. It took her three full days to finish weeding.
Bao Gu suddenly felt that her courtyard was full of treasures, filled with spiritual herbs! There were more than seven hundred plants of spiritual herbs scattered everywhere, with more than thirty different species. Some of the spiritual herbs with a growth cycle of only three to five years had already flowered and seeded, and some had even sprouted and taken root.
She collected the seeds of those that had flowered and planned to sow them later to grow more spiritual herbs. She carefully marked the new, inconspicuous seedlings of spiritual herbs and divided the areas where the spiritual herbs were clustered into variously sized medicine fields.
Afraid of accidentally stepping on and damaging these spiritual herbs while inspecting them, Bao Gu also carefully built narrow paths between these irregular medicine fields.
In the following days, apart from meditating on the stone bridge by the creek every morning and returning to her room to sleep at night, Bao Gu spent all her time around these spiritual herbs until she had tidied up the medicine fields.
The reward for her hard work was more than thirty mature first-grade spiritual herbs with a growth cycle of three to five years.
In the morning, after getting up, Bao Gu went to the creek to bathe and clean off the impurities expelled from her body during the night. She then went to the medicine field, picked a mature spiritual herb she had previously selected, washed it with creek water, and ate it. After that, she sat on the stone bridge by the creek to cultivate.
Before long, Bao Gu felt a cool sensation in her body and a trickle of true Qi emerging in her meridians. This was very different from the feeling of the past few days when she had no Qi Refining Pills and relied solely on breathing exercises to absorb the spiritual energy of heaven and earth. When she only relied on breathing exercises to absorb the surrounding spiritual energy, she couldn’t feel a bit of true Qi even after sitting for two hours, only feeling a warm sensation in her Dantian. After eating the spiritual herb, she could clearly feel the growth of true Qi in her body.
After two hours, Bao Gu finished her cultivation. It had been a long time since she had diarrhea, but she suddenly felt a cramp in her lower abdomen and hurriedly ran behind a distant tree. She had studied the jade slip and knew that spiritual herbs were different from common crops. Common crops needed the nutrients from manure, but spiritual herbs were most afraid of such filth. Once contaminated, the spiritual herbs would be ruined.
After dealing with the urgent matter, Bao Gu realized the difference between spiritual herbs and pills. She wouldn’t have diarrhea after taking pills, but after eating the spiritual herb, she would excrete a lot of dark green waste. She guessed that pills, having gone through a refining process, had already removed the impurities in the spiritual herbs that were not beneficial for human absorption. By directly consuming the spiritual herb, the remnants that couldn’t be absorbed had to pass through her internal organs again.
She suspected that the combination of the spiritual herb and Zhu Ming fruit also had a catalytic effect on the medicinal properties. After not feeling hungry for a while, she suddenly felt extremely hungry. She knew that Zhu Ming fruits should not be eaten in excess. Moreover, eating Zhu Ming fruits as meals for a short period was fine, but in the long run, her body wouldn’t be able to handle it. Just looking at her now, with her skin so pale it was almost transparent and her arms as thin as twigs, it was evident.
Bao Gu wanted to eat meat!
There were fish in the creek, and there were many of them. She could go fishing!
There were also many wild animals hopping around in the forest outside. She had a bow and arrows and could go hunting.
Bao Gu set out to do just that. She went back to her room, picked up the medicine basket, and headed straight for the creek. She felt around in the stream and found some snails, cracked their shells with a stone, put them in the medicine basket, tied the basket with vines, and went to a pool about three or four hundred steps away from the wooden house.
The upstream water flowed down to this point, creating a drop of five or six feet, forming a small waterfall. Below the waterfall was an irregularly shaped deep pool. Seeing such clear water without a visible bottom, Bao Gu estimated that the pool was very deep. Fortunately, her vine was more than a zhang long, which was enough.
TL Note: 1 Zhang is 3.33 metres. 1 jin is roughly half a kilogram.
She threw two stones from the pool into the medicine basket, and as the basket sank, the long vine in her hand also kept dropping. The vine in her hand had reached its end, but the basket still hadn’t reached the bottom.
Bao Gu was a bit stunned: How could a waterfall less than a zhang high create such a deep pool? There really were many strange things in the sect!
Bao Gu wanted to test how deep the water was. She wrapped the vine around a large stone by the pool to secure it. Then she picked up a large stone weighing about seven or eight jin and threw it forcefully into the deep part of the pool.
With a “thud,” the stone splashed a huge water flower, bubbling with small bubbles as it sank to the bottom.
After a while, the bubbles disappeared, and the water surface returned to calm. Bao Gu still couldn’t figure out how deep the pool was. Since she couldn’t swim, she decided to stay away from the pool in the future. The pool was so deep, yet she didn’t see any fish jumping on the surface. Bao Gu decided to pick up the medicine basket and find another place where she could see fish to set the basket and catch fish.
Just as she lifted the medicine basket out of the water, she saw huge bubbles “gurgling” in the middle of the pool, forming a large water flower in the center.
Bao Gu looked up in surprise, followed by a loud “splash” sound. A huge white snake head suddenly appeared on the water surface, its eyes as big as copper bells staring intently at her.
“Mommy!” Bao Gu screamed and ran away. After a few steps, she remembered her medicine basket and grabbed it, running for her life while shouting, “Senior sister, save me! There’s a monster in the pool, save me…”
She hadn’t run two zhang when she saw the snake appear in the creek in front of her, swiftly swimming and quickly surpassing her. It then “whooshed” out of the water, leaping out and blocking her path. The snake’s body was much thicker than hers; it emerged from the water, and just a small part of its body across the path was enough to block her way, with a long section still submerged. This was no ordinary snake; it was practically a water dragon! Bao Gu was so frightened that she didn’t dare to move or even breathe, shivering as she looked at the large white snake towering over her.
She looked at the big white snake, and the big white snake also looked at her. She saw that the big white snake’s gaze seemed to be searching for something and didn’t have the intention to attack. Bao Gu suddenly remembered her senior sister mentioning the guardian beasts of the sect, which would not attack the disciples of the sect. She quickly took off the outer disciple waist badge hanging on her waist and showed it to the big white snake in front of her, saying, “My name is Bao Gu, an outer disciple taken in by Immortal Yu Mi.”
The big white snake’s mouth opened slightly, forming an arc as if it was smiling.
The next moment, Bao Gu heard a human voice coming from the big white snake’s mouth: “Haha, that foodie Yu Mi actually took in a disciple with five useless spiritual roots! Ugh, how stinky! You were so scared that you wet yourself!” The big white snake turned its head and slid back into the creek, retreating to the deep pool.
Bao Gu watched the big white snake swim back to the deep pool and finally let out a long sigh of relief. She patted her chest and exclaimed, “That scared me to death! It really was a guardian beast, such a big one.” She also smelled the stench and felt something sticky behind her, then realized that she had diarrhea, and in the shock just now—she had leaked it out!
Bao Gu clenched her buttocks, threw the medicine basket aside, and ran towards the wooden house as fast as she could. She explained loudly and indignantly, “Big White, I wasn’t scared into incontinence, I… I just had diarrhea!”