Enhancing one’s strength at the expense of their own lifespan was a complete mismatch of priorities. This was not how Yang Kai intended to pursue the peak of the Martial Dao.
As such, he had never planned to follow in the footsteps of the previous Holy Masters.
He had his own goals to pursue and methods to pursue them with.
However, in order to accomplish this, he had to obtain An Ling’er’s cooperation, so seeing her nod to his proposal, Yang Kai genuinely felt happy and relieved.
“But… what if the Elders ask about it?” An Ling’er couldn’t help worrying, “They seem quite anxious.”
“That old fogey really likes sticking his nose into other people’s business…” Yang Kai muttered without restraint. There was no need for him to even ask to know that it was that old fart, Xu Hui, was the source of this issue. Most likely he had been subtly urging An Ling’er to quickly begin cultivating with Yang Kai.
Listening to him say this, An Ling’er couldn’t stop herself from letting out a burst of laughter, brightening the serious atmosphere.
“There’s nothing else to do about it, if they ask, just tell them we’ve already begun cultivating together.”
“I’m fine with that… but we won’t be able to conceal the truth forever!” An Ling’er narrowed her eyes slightly, “You won’t have any problems. With your aptitude, even if you don’t cultivate that Secret Art, your growth will still be extremely rapid, but if I don’t break through for a long time, the Elders will begin to have doubts…”
“I can help with that!” Yang Kai grinned.
“How can you help me?” An Ling’er asked in confusion.
Yang Kai flipped his hand and summoned out a delicate jade bottle which he handed to An Ling’er as he explained, “Inside this is some special Spirit Liquid. Taking a drop of it every day will improve your constitution and allow your aptitude and strength to gradually increase.”
An Ling’er accepted the bottle somewhat suspiciously but upon opening the bottle and sniffing its contents, she suddenly felt as if her entire body was being refreshed, shocking her greatly as she stared brightly towards Yang Kai, “Is this really useful?”
“Of course it’s useful,” Yang Kai nodded, quickly adding, “Once you’ve used it all up, just find me and I’ll give you more.”
“Then I’ll gratefully try it. Thank you,” An Ling’er smiled, her short talk with Yang Kai lifting her spirits greatly.
After a little more idle chatter, An Ling’er left.
Yang Kai sent a Divine Sense message to Xu Hui and Li Rong saying that he was going to enter retreat for a while and not to disturb him.
After receiving their replies, Yang Kai left the Holy Master Court and went to the Holy Tomb.
The Holy Tomb was an excellent place to enter secluded cultivation. Besides Yang Kai, who possessed the Holy Master Spirit Ring, no one else could enter it so he wouldn’t need to worry about others disturbing him.
Arriving in front of the giant stone slab, Yang Kai pressed the Holy Master Spirit Ring into its specific slot, opened the Holy Tomb, and stepped inside.
The Holy Tomb was as dark and gloomy as always, with traces of the Nine Heavens Holy Land disciples still scattered about here and there. Although the environment wasn’t very good, the World Energy aura here was incomparably rich.
Looking around for a moment, Yang Kai soon chose a spot and sat down cross-legged.
Taking out the long shuttle artifact he obtained back in the Starry Sky, Yang Kai began examining it carefully.
He could feel that there was a mysterious power inside this artifact and that there were many intricate Spirit Arrays carved inside it, but without refining it, he wouldn’t be able to tell what this artifact’s purpose really was.
Focusing his attention, Yang Kai released his Divine Sense and began proving the surface of the long shuttle artifact, studying its structure and composition, looking for a place to break through its shell and begin refining it.
In order to refine an artifact, the first step was to leave one’s Soul mark on it, only after accomplishing this could one begin to refine it.
After leaving behind a Soul mark on an artifact, a cultivator would be able to take it into their body and begin nourishing it with their own True Qi and Spiritual Energy.
Once it had received enough moisturizing, the artifact would begin to resonate with its user and would then become usable.
Even after taking an artifact into one’s body, it would still take some time before they could use its full power.
The reason cultivators would not easily change the artifacts they used was not only because of the long time it took to refine one but also because, over a long period of nourishing an artifact, a subtle connection between it and its user would form. Artifacts that had this kind of connection to their user could display more power in battle, promoting a cultivator’s overall combat strength.
Switching to a new, unfamiliar artifact, would eliminate this effect.
Therefore, unless their strength grew far beyond the level of artifacts they had refined, a cultivator would not choose to replace them.
Even if they chose to replace them, most cultivators would look for artifacts that matched well with their Secret Art and Martial Skills to refine.
Many cultivators would even look for materials and ask an Artifact Refiners to tailor-make an artifact for them.
Excellent Artifact Refiners could refine artifacts that perfectly complimented a cultivator’s unique characteristics.
Yang Kai had never concerned himself much with these matters though, mainly because he did not rely on the power of artifacts, only refining anything which he conveniently came across. He had never looked for materials to custom refine one from scratch to suit him.
This long shuttle artifact obviously had a master a long time ago, but that master most likely lost his way among the Starry Sky or had some kind of accident and perished, leaving it to drift aimlessly for who knows how long until it eventually found its way into the Asteroid Sea Yang Kai inadvertently discovered it in.
Sweeping his Divine Sense over it meticulously, Yang Kai soon found a very faint Soul aura inside the long shuttle artifact.
This was the Soul mark left behind by its previous owner.
Yang Kai first had to erase this in order to engrave his own Soul mark.
Examining this Soul aura for a moment, Yang Kai couldn’t help feeling some slight amazement.
Although after so many years, the Soul aura inside the long shuttle artifact had become quite faint, Yang Kai could tell that its signature was actually still quite powerful.
The original owner of this artifact was no doubt at least a Third Order Saint Realm master.
Such a powerhouse actually falling in the Starry Sky caused Yang Kai to sigh.
Yang Kai once again realized just how terrifying the Starry Sky was. He had visited the Starry Sky twice now, but what he had seen was only equivalent to a grain of sand in a vast desert. He likely had not seen any of its real dangers at all.
Those dangers obviously included disasters even Third Order Saints were unable to withstand.
Focusing his thoughts, Yang Kai sent out a burst of Conflagrated Spiritual Energy into the long shuttle artifact..
The faint Soul mark which remained inside the artifact was instantly erased.
Yang Kai then pushed his True Qi and Spiritual Energy, injecting them into the long shuttle.
This process was very time consuming and could not be rushed, so Yang Kai simply sat in place and steadily released his True Qi and Spiritual Energy to allow the long shuttle to become familiar with his own aura.
Gradually, Yang Kai’s True Qi and Spiritual Energy began to seep into the long shuttle, a sign it was starting to accept him.
Yang Kai felt a weight lift from his heart now that he knew this artifact was compatible with his True Qi. If it had instead repelled his aura, there was no way he would be able to refine it, no matter how hard he tried.
Yang Kai slowly took back his attention from the long shuttle artifact, allowing his True Qi and Spiritual Energy to continue automatically refining it while he sent his consciousness into the Black Book space.
Aware of Yang Kai’s arrival, the Divine Tree sent him a faint greeting, its mood seemingly somewhat gloomy.
“What happened?” Yang Kai couldn’t help feeling some concern and quickly asked.
“It’s nothing, I just feel somewhat lonely,” the Divine Tree responded, “It is just me here all the time, so when you’re not here I find myself spending my time in a daze.”
“Lonely…” Yang Kai’s face went black, suddenly realizing that the Divine Tree’s consciousness had grown to an extent he had not anticipated.
Before now, it would never say something like this.
“Sorry,” Yang Kai apologized, “I can’t bring anything with flesh and blood into this place or I would find a few companions for you… En, there actually used to be a Yin Yang Monster Ginseng here but it disappeared many years ago.”
“Yin Yang Monster Ginseng? What’s that?”
“A kind of World Spirit Treasure!” Yang Kai explained, his eyes lighting up as he said so, “Right, World Spirit Treasures have their own consciousnesses, I can look for some to accompany you.”
The Divine Tree was overjoyed hearing this and hurriedly said, “What are you waiting for? Please help me find a few.”
“Don’t be so anxious,” Yang Kai chuckled, “I have a small matter to handle right now and am currently in retreat, but I promise you that when I exit I’ll look for some companions for you. I’ll warn you now though; World Spirit Treasures are quite rare so it may take some time to find some.”
“Oh,” the Divine Tree couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed, but quickly recovered and cheerfully said, “I can wait.”
Yang Kai nodded and sincerely said, “Don’t worry, I’ll definitely find a few for you.”
“I trust you!”
“Have there been any changes in those two stones?” Yang Kai asked.
“No, they’re still the same, just absorbing the essence from the other ores, although their appetites seem to have grown quite a bit recently!”
“Oh?” Yang Kai was surprised and quickly arrived in front of the two pitch-black round stones and found that, as the Divine Tree said, since Li Rong and he found a large number of ores in the Starry Sky and placed them here the two pitch-black round stones had indeed increased the rate at which they were extracting mineral essences.
In just a few days, the pair of stones had already consumed as much as they had in the previous month.
Nearby there was a lot of gravel and dust impurities scattered about.
Examining them, Yang Kai could clearly see the mineral essences flowing out of the ores and into the two pitch-black round stones before disappearing.
As they absorbed these ore essences, the hue the two pitch-black round stones gave off grew in intensity and the meridian like lines on their surface became clearer and more coherent with a great deal more energy flowing through them.
“What are they? Why do they eat stones?” The Divine Tree asked curiously.
“Even if you ask me, I don’t know.” Yang Kai shrugged his shoulders, “However, there’ll always come a day when we find out. Continue watching over them. If you notice any changes, remember to inform me promptly.”
After chatting with the Divine Tree for a while longer, Yang Kai took back his consciousness from the Black Book space.
Time flew by and soon half a month had passed.
During this half a month, Yang Kai had been constantly sending his True Qi and Spiritual Energy into the Long Shuttle artifact, branding it with his own Soul mark. Slowly but surely, he making progress.
Yang Kai couldn’t tell what grade of artifact this long shuttle was but he knew it was not ordinary since it was taking longer for him to mark it than when he refined the Silver Leaf Saint Grade Top-Rank artifact.
However, after half a month, Yang Kai finally succeeded in portraying his Soul mark onto it, and with a single thought he took it into his body.
The next step was the long nourishing phase.
Only after he managed to produce a resonance with this long shuttle artifact would Yang Kai be able to figure out its purpose and utilize it in combat.
Fortunately, this nourishing process didn’t require Yang Kai to consciously act, all he needed to do was wait and after some time, the long shuttle would naturally resonate with him.