Higher grade pills were not something that level-6 Factions could aspire for. Refining a grade-1 pill was a massive investment, even to several level-8 powers in the Heavenly Gates. They also had to take on the risk of failure. Shannali and those who were from pill Factions had all experienced these.
Wang Zhong saw this clearly and understood it well. The elder had used a joke to tell the truth. At the same time, he was telling those who harbored hope that there was no so-called miracle waiting for them on the foggy and distant path of pills.
The lesson ended. Elder Yimo, who was sitting on the platform, transformed into mist and disappeared completely like he was nothing. Meanwhile, a supervisor on the ground was supplementing the students with some rules and general knowledge of the Pill Refinery Hall. In the first semester, they would focus on learning about level-9 and level-8 pills.
In order to refine a pill, forming its shape was the most basic requirement. However, in terms of form, spirit, path, and effectiveness, two level-9 pills that looked exactly the same could have extremely large differences. Pills would be given a score of between one to 10 based on the standards of the Pill Refinery Hall, and this score would be considered in their points. This was something that the pupils of the Pill Refinery Hall had to complete and was the key to accumulating points. At the same time, this was a decent opportunity for the audit students.
The Pill Refinery Hall did not strictly require the audit students to refine pills as homework according to the requirements of the Pill Refinery Hall. However, if pupils refined pills, they could submit their products to be graded and be awarded with extra points on top of their main score.
Overall, the official pupils of the Pill Refinery Hall did not need to worry about anything, be it furnaces or various materials, as the Pill Refinery Hall would prepare all these for them, but audit students would have to spend their own money. For example, there were various grades of furnaces. If one had enough money, one could even buy super furnaces that were deemed as divine tools. It was said that if one used those kinds of furnaces to refine pills, the rate of success would be increased greatly. In the Heavenly Gates, there was nothing that could not be bought. It was simply a matter of whether one had enough money.
Organizations with impressive systems and controlled the Land could accumulate resources and riches very easily. Frankly speaking, this was to exploit the various large civilizations, but these large civilizations gladly endured this hardship. However, this was the price of advancing in level. If they did not cultivate their Gold Core and enter Heaven, they would never be able to be outstanding. This was a common understanding among all the civilizations. Meanwhile, to the lower-leveled civilizations, cultivating their Gold Core was the only chance for them to free themselves.
Wang Zhong did not plan to buy a furnace and could not afford it either. He asked for the price of renting a furnace from the supervisor, but it was slightly exaggerated. All his "wealth" was only enough to rent a low-leveled furnace for a day, which cost exactly 1,000 Silver Star Stones.
What in the world? Was he supposed to spend all his money to rent a furnace and then refine the air? Furthermore, he would only be able to rent the furnace for a day. The first day of lessons was just to explain the basics and general principles, and there was no homework assigned. However, Lao Wang already started to feel anxious about his great plan to cultivate pills.
Speaking of which, he had some support from the Heavenly Treasures Street. After Mugthol collected all the "collection fees", a certain amount of money would be transferred into Wang Zhong's account. However, that amount of money would be enough to cover his living expenses in the Heavenly Treasures Street and some cultivation resources, but if he wanted to refine pills, it would definitely not be enough. After all, he was only from a peripheral street in the middle circle. The Heavenly Treasures Street might be worth competing over for some small organizations, but in the eyes of Factions who controlled great resources in the center of the Land, it was not even worth mentioning. Furthermore, the "protection fees" that Wang Zhong and Mugthol collected were extremely low…
Beside him, Flying Pig Jhonas was asleep. It seemed like he had forced himself to be energetic during Elder Yimo's lesson, but later on, when Elder Yimo started to chat with everyone, and when the ordinary supervisors started to talk about general knowledge and rules, he slept very soundly. Luckily, this fellow did not snore. If not, the people around him would beat him to death.
Lao Wang was also speechless. Was this fellow completely uninterested in such an exciting lesson? He really did not know what this fellow was here for.
At that moment, the lesson was over. Just as he was about to wake Jhonas up, someone familiar had come to greet him.
"Wang Zhong, we meet again."
Shannali smiled and walked over, surprising Lao Wang slightly. The feeling that this woman gave Lao Wang was that of a rather snobbish fence sitter. When she came to the Heavenly Gates, she had many excellent pupils from great powers surrounding her. Meanwhile Lao Wang had obtained the lowest fourth-grade spiritual quality in yesterday's test and was laughed at by others. Did this woman not want to keep a respectful distance away from him?
"How is the taste of the Heavenly Gates?" Shannali smiled and laughed at Wang Zhong.
"There doesn't seem to be any change. On the contrary, it is the same no matter where humans walk." Wang Zhong smiled. "Aren't you afraid that your friends will look down on you coming here like this?"
"You are too rigid." Shannali smiled and winked. "After all, we are in the Heavenly Gates. Even if they look down on you on the inside, a majority of people are still overconfident about their identities. Thus, they will put on an act."
Wang Zhong nodded his head. Shannali had come to greet him, but given his circumstances, Wang Zhong was rather uncertain about why she had acted so suspiciously. Lao Wang was not the second generation of a goblin race or a wealthy family, and he was not naive either. Shannali was definitely a "rational" person, so why would she be interested in him?
Was it just because he had defeated Yin Jiao? Yin Jiao's standard was nothing in this place. His father had probably paid a very heavy price to let him join, but Lao Wang had taken advantage of this.
"Boss, that girl seems to have feelings for you," Flying Pig said. "She looks decent. It looks like you Earthlings also have some charm."
"You're thinking too much. She must have other objectives."
"Yes, we have the purest friendship! What is mine is yours!" Flying Pig Jhonas exclaimed with great resolution when they ate dinner. The table was filled with "fruits and vegetables" he had brought along. Although Lao Wang had criticized his style of not eating meat, these "fruits and vegetables" were not ordinary as they were filled with rich spiritual influence. Anyone who ate them would know that although the illusion race was only a level-5 civilization, since they were impressive in refining weapons, they were not simply rich: the nouveau riche in the divine territory referred to the illusion race. "My respect is also your respect!"
"Oh, yes. If you get beaten up outside, I will do my best to stand far away. I absolutely cannot see my good friend turn ugly with my eyes wide open." Wang Zhong patted his shoulder and spoke in a relatively certain tone. When Wang Zhong looked at the helpless Flying Pig, he could not help but roll his eyes. If he dared to play around with Wang Zhong, Wang Zhong would throw dirt at him while he could.
While Lao Wang was immersed in a sea of knowledge, Mu Zi had arrived in the depths of the Netherworld River. He sat among a messy pile of rocks. A pitch-black forest, which was his current destination, lay a hundred steps in front of him.
This was the seventh day since he had arrived on this island.
He had used seven days to walk here from the coast. He had completely underestimated the terror of this island. The enormous deathly aura and heavy spiritual pressure pressed against his body like some kind of rule. Every step he took required unimaginable power and effort.
However, this unexpected difficulty did not stop Mu Zi's firm optimism although every step he took felt as if he had experienced a terrifying life-and-death battle. However, other than the difficulties and hardships, Mu Zi felt something intimate that seemed to be hiding in the depths of this island. Every time he resisted the deathly aura and explosion of spiritual pressure to advance, this intimate feeling would become obvious.
Of course, one of the main reasons that Mu Zi could have this kind of optimism was because he had dug up the skeleton of an unknown creature on his first day on the island. He had the pragmatic belief that everything could be used and dismantled the bones. Then, he organized them to form a white bone-skirt. Although it seemed very coquettish and did not seem to complement his cold appearance as a baldy, he only had bones to work with after all. After exposing himself for such a long time, he was finally able to cover himself in a civilized manner.
There was no doubt that this was very important! One of the signs that a civilization had broken away from their low-leveled form into a higher form was that their members had learned how to cover up their embarrassment. This was a sign that individual consciousness and respect had formed.
Thus, having something to wear gave Mu Zi more reasons to be optimistic. Then, he quickly discovered small flowers hiding in the black sand. When he swept the sand away, the flowers would happily stretch straight up and bloom towards the sky. The black and white flowers formed a cluster, and when they moved with the wind, they formed shocking and strange smiles.
Mu Zi jumped in shock. However, this was not because of the strange faces that the flowers showed, but because of the energy that these flowers contained. When he ate one of the flowers, he did not feel thirsty or hungry for a few hours. Thus, he was assured that he could meet his needs for food. These strange-faced flowers could be found everywhere. As long as he was willing to dig into the sand, he would definitely be able to find the strange black and white faces that grew out of the ground, seemingly just to scare others.
The only thing that made Mu Zi dejected was that he did not find any small animals he could roast. He did not even find a small insect or an ant, let alone wild rabbits.
However, no matter what, Mu Zi had gotten into a dispute with Hell Island — this was the name that Mu Zi had given to this weird island. Regardless of whether it had other names, to him, this was Hell Island. The air and the atmosphere was very similar to the Hell in legends: there was a massive deathly atmosphere, a terrifying aura, and eerie white bones. Rather than saying that black sand formed the earth here, it was more like an accumulation of bones after they had rotted over thousands of years.
Mu Zi also believed that he had a strange and natural affinity with Hell that could not be severed. Thus, he felt a sense of intimacy with this island. Furthermore, the spiritual power here contained a very strong negative aura, which was the "supplement" that the Life and Death Coffin liked most. The spiritual power here was in complete agreement with Mu Zi thanks to the Life and Death Coffin. However, Mu Zi was not anxious and did not hurriedly absorb this spiritual power. Instead, he followed the rhythm of the Life and Death Coffin's gradual recovery and slowly accumulated spiritual power. He felt as if he was constructing a building. How tall his building could reach would typically depend on how stable his foundation was.
Mu Zi calculated that his resting time was over and stood up. It was time to continue moving forward.
Mu Zi took a deep breath and focused his attention. He looked at the large, black tree nearby. After a long breath, his breathing became rapid and rhythmic. Wisps of spiritual power were produced from his body, filling it entirely with power!
Mu Zi could not help but think that if he encountered that fellow again, he would definitely not experience that kind of oppression. He was now completely different as compared to back then, from the inside to the outside, and from his spiritual power to all aspects of his body.
His power had reached a peak. He had never experienced this moment of strength. Mu Zi looked up at the forest nearby and let out a low and strenuous roar. All the power in his body surged towards his feet. Then, he put out his right leg and fiercely stepped on the ground, producing a massive noise as if he was beating a drum.
Thud! One step!
Crash! The deathly aura in the depths of Hell Island was like a bull that had accepted this challenge and exploded with great intensity. The powerful waves of pressure were like mountains that threw themselves at Mu Zi and pressed against Mu Zi in layers.
Mu Zi smiled and did not hesitate to lift up his left foot before stepping forward.
Thud! The second step!
Thud! Thud thud thud…
On the tenth step, there was the sound of bones cracking from his knees, and he finally stopped, no longer able to continue. At this moment, he finally sensed the heat in his nose. Blood flowed from his nose and rapidly slid past his lips. Before his mouth could taste the salty blood, it dripped to his chin and then dripped past his chest onto the black sand in big droplets.
Mu Zi gasped heavily for air. All the power in his body, including all his spiritual power, had been sucked dry, and there was no power left in his body. However, Hell Island did not seem satisfied. The surging spiritual pressure on Hell Island mightily pressed against Mu Zi's body twice, until Mu Zi was pushed to the ground. The massive spiritual influence only gradually retreated when his face was almost planted into the ground.
Mu Zi pulled his head out of the ground and turned his body around to lay on the ground. This round was over. He had only planned to take seven steps but took another three steps because his condition was good. In the end, the spiritual pressure that he brought about was three times heavier than usual.
After a very long time, Mu Zi's breathing finally became steady again. He checked the condition of his body and realized that it was rather poor. The spiritual pressure would not cause any external injuries, but his internal organs would distort and change in shape under the terrifying pressure. Luckily, his spiritual power had served its function. Some of his internal organs were bleeding, but there were no massive wounds.
This was enough. Mu Zi sat up and looked for the strange-faced flowers, but stopped after picking three of them as he was not greedy. Furthermore, Mu Zi was not sure how long the strange-faced flowers would be able to maintain their purity and self-consciousness after they were picked.
Mu Zi ate one flower first. The moment he put the flower inside his mouth, the saliva in his mouth started to surge rapidly. A wisp of spiritual power spun and charged towards his esophagus from his tongue. A moist feeling immediately filled every single corner of his body. This was much more advanced than drinking water.
After taking a few bites, Mu Zi swallowed the strange-faced flower, and a gentle warmth immediately spread from his body and circulated throughout his body through his blood vessels. His bleeding internal organs stopped bleeding with the nourishment from this wave of power, and small wounds that had surfaced started to recover. He did not heal quickly, but he did not heal slowly either. However, this was probably the furthest he could go today.
After eating the third strange-faced flower, the "full" Mu Zi put down his Life and Death Coffin and lay inside. He closed the coffin, and a cooling breeze immediately engulfed him, allowing his injuries to heal more quickly.
After the Life and Death Coffin absorbed the special spiritual influence on this island and repaired itself, it had recovered some of its basic functions. This was also where Mu Zi's courage to risk and challenge himself came from. However, only the healing assistance provided by the Life and Death Coffin was rather good; Mu Zi still had to slowly explore how else to use its power. The Life and Death Coffin which had experienced the journey through the Netherworld River was evidently not the Life and Death Coffin of the past. It was familiar, yet foreign, but no matter what, it was still Mu Zi's Coffin.
Mu Zi woke up from his sleep on time at midnight. The chilly wind blew past the island at a decent speed, accompanied by the deathly whistle of the Netherworld River, as if shadow soldiers were patrolling the territory of the Netherworld King. Without the daylight from the clouds, the deathly aura on the small island grew even more intense. Mu Zi did not try to provoke the spiritual influence of the spiritual pressure at this time. Instead, this was the best time for him to cultivate.
The unusually sensitive deathly aura in the day was like a hibernating snake which was too lazy to move at night. As long as Mu Zi did not continue to walk into the depths of the island, the deathly aura would simply calmly hover midair.
Under Mu Zi's command, the Phantom Five Thunder lit up in his hand. This was no longer the Phantom Five Thunder that he had first received. Furthermore, the operation of this technique had been completely changed by Mu Zi. This was his greatest result ever since he had stepped on Hell Island. By resisting the spiritual pressure from the deathly aura, Mu Zi truly started to understand how great this technique was, especially with his physique; no human body would be suitable for the operation of this technique.
The humans' greatest and most terrifying special characteristics were their abilities to adjust to their environment and learn through imitation. Then, these would be the foundations to create something suitable for humans.
However, Mu Zi's adjustments to the Phantom Five Thunder had nothing to do with these great characteristics. He had only done so because he felt that it was more comfortable this way. This was a pure instinct that even Wang Zhong and Aiolos were jealous of.
At this moment, five waves of thunder spiritual power with different attributes entered his body under his control and became part of his spiritual power.
Mu Zi took a deep breath and looked for the black strange-faced flower in the sand again. This time, he only ate one flower. After a few breaths, his body felt full once again.
Mu Zi felt that this was the most suitable place for him to cultivate in ever since he came to the Star Alliance. He was able to gradually strengthen his spiritual power even while laying in the Life and Death Coffin due to the spiritual pressure from the deathly aura.
Time flew past. After much hard work, Mu Zi finally overcame the spiritual pressure and stepped into the center of the black forest. However, the scenery inside was much more terrible than he had expected.
The black trees looked as if they had been burned by the flames of Hell. The tree bark, which looked like processed coal, would be connected to a red and distorted tree trunk. It looked like a human who had been half-burned and was left with badly mangled skin. He was even more surprised that there was a face on each black tree trunk. Each of these faces was not the same. Some were young, while some were old, and all of them were different. "They" were like living people and stared at Mu Zi with an extremely human gaze.
Other than the terrifying trees with faces, there were black living vines that were strange and dangerous. A large majority of them lived underground, but some swirled around trees. They were alive and could move by themselves like snakes. Thus, Mu Zi called this kind of vine — snake vines.
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