Chapter 28: 5th Gate
Translator: Sparrow Translations Editor: Sparrow Translations
Time flowed like water and passed with the ease of a cloth on a weaving machine.
In the blink of an eye, another 10 odd days passed.
"This is the last bit of Vermillion Jade Rice!"
Fang Yuan tilted his head backwards and poured the Vermillion Jade porridge into his open mouth. He immediately felt a warm surge of energy circulate his body.
He looked at his stats window.
"Mm…Black Sand Palm (Grade 4), Proficiency points at 99% already?"
Although the Flower Fox Ferret had confirmed that he had the strength to advance towards lands with spiritual fertiliser, Fang Yuan wanted a more solid guarantee for himself.
Several days of hard work had allowed Fang Yuan to hone his Black Sand Palm technique to a new peak. Even the Eagle Claw Cloth Technique had started to become easier for him. Fang Yuan had broken past [Martial Artist (4th Gate)], which gave him the strong foundations necessary to make his execution of the technique a force to reckon with.
"The Eagle Claw Iron Skin Technique provides protection that is more balanced compared to the Black Sand Palm Technique. Danger lurks in the spiritual land. Being well-versed in one more defence technique wouldn't hurt!"
Fang Yuan mumbled to himself, then suddenly adopted a fighting stance.
"Flower Fox Ferret!"
The Flower Fox Ferret appeared in a flash of white.
In the face of Fang Yuan's friendly invitation to battle, the ferret looked rather frightened.
After all, from the past few days of training, Fang Yuan's "madness" had intimidated it. Coming into contact with the toxic wind stirred up by the Black Sand Palm technique was not a pleasant experience.
"Haha...when the next Spiritual Rice crop is ready for harvesting, I'll let you eat to your heart's content. How does this sound?"
Fang Yuan knew that the ferret was extremely keen on spiritual rice.
At the mention of spiritual rice, the ferret was immediately convinced and jumped at Fang Yuan.
Fang Yuan stood his ground confidently without a hint of fear. His hands erupted into a flurry of fists. They looked like black windmills that gave off a dark and menacing wind.
After a while, the Flower Fox Ferret jumped out of the fighting ring and looked alarmed at the figure inside.
"So...it seems like Black Sand Palm (Grade 5) brings me back to the basics!"
He noticed that his hands, which had bulging veins previously, were back to their original states. Even his arms, where the muscles were flexed before, had become lean again.
Still, Fang Yuan could feel internal energy coursing powerfully through his vessels.
Although it seemed like Fang Yuan was back to normal, the potential amount of damage he was capable of dealing had increased by a few times!
He checked out his stats window and noticed that the description of his Black Sand Palm technique had been updated.
Black Sand Palm(5th Grade)------It is an external technique that has already reached its peak. This causes the user's hands to regain its original look and make them tougher than steel. It is able to shatter gold and break jade, enhanced with poison, and strengthens inner power.
Fang Yuan could indeed feel a more intense inner power flushing his hands, spreading to his arms, chest and even his lower abdomen. It was as if he had become a small oven and was nurturing something within him.
"Inner power woven into a rope-like form to become inner force! This is the essence of the 6th Gate, the Pain Gate…...if one failed to break through the Gate, his whole body would be gravely wounded and he might even die!"
At this point, Fang Yuan had already reached the deep end of martial arts cultivation. If he lost focus for even a moment, the consequences would be extremely dire.
Fang Yuan closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
A literal feeling in his gut told him that he had broken through the Gate.
"Martial Artist (5th Gate), successfully challenged!"
Fang Yuan had only been training for two months, and he had already broken through 5 Gates. This was unprecedented. This was prodigious!
"I have my proficiency points to thank, not to mention the Vermillion Jade Rice and Questioning Heart Tea!"
Fang Yuan did not allow himself to become complacent and looked at his stats.
"Name: Fang Yuan
Cultivation: [Martial Arts (5th Gate)]
Skills: [Black Sand Palm (Grade 5)], [Eagle Claw Iron Skin Technique (Grade 3)]
Specialities: [Medicine (Level 2)], [Botany (Level 3)]
"Eagle Claw Iron Skin technique —— Internal and External martial art technique. Whole and without flaws. When trained to Grade 12, by then the body will be impenetrable and resistant to hurt. Complemented by the inner strength of the Eagle Claw! Currently at Grade 3!"
"The later Gates of martial arts cultivation were becoming unnerving. The fifth Gate alone gave me an increase of 0.5 each in both Spirit and Essence. It's a pity that my Magic didn't increase…"
Now, Fang Yuan also realised that Magic was the hardest to level up among the three stats.
He could trigger a prodigious rate of improvement previously all because of the Questioning Heart Tea and the Meditative Tea Ceremony.
The path of the martial arts becomes increasingly difficult as one progress. It is very easy to suffer a rebound while breaking through the Pain Gate. Breaking through the Shock Gate is taxing on both the heart and the mind, and tests a martial artist's magical energy !If the martial artist's magical energy is too weak, he will suffer a rebound and might become mentally unstable..."
With the Spirit Returning Heart Manual and the Eagle Claw Iron Skin Technique, Fang Yuan could approach the 12 Golden Gates with the utmost confidence.
Of course, in terms of danger, the Pain and Shock Gates paled in comparison to the Death Gate.
Failure to conquer the Pain and Shock Gates would result in serious damage to the body, but at least he would live.
The Death Gate, however, lived by its name. Failure would result in death.
Because of this, even Song Zhong and the old timer martial artists had to be very certain about their chances before attempting to break through!
"And Zhou Tong, who has already mastered all there is to master in the fifth Gate and with his Iron Skin technique at hand, did not dare to challenge the Pain Gate. With his timid character, he will never advance further!"
Fang Yuan shook his head in disdain.
Those with martial arts manuals in their possession, and yet did not dare to make use of them for practice, were the most foolish people in the world.
To be fair, Zhou Tong was the patriarch of the noble Zhou Family, and the family rose or fell together with him. He could not afford to compromise himself in any way.
But the price he had to pay was meekness in the face of more skilled opponents, who had no qualms about taking advantage of him.
"However, according to the masters from the books, and based on my own observations, these 3 Perilous Gates might be intimidating, but as long as the martial artist has an abundance of Spirit, Essence, and Magic, he'll be able to cope well!"
Because of this, Fang Yuan had every confidence in the spiritual fertilizer.
He had to stock up on tea and rice in order to push these three stats into new highs so that he could smash through the 3 Perilous Gates at one go.
"Alright, let's set off today!"
Fan Yuan lifted a bamboo basket onto his back and called out to the Flower Fox Ferret before heading out of the Valley.
When he arrived at the campsite of the Zhou Family, it was apparent that Zhou Weixin had disappeared.
'A servant of the Zhou Family came by with news that Song Zhong had not become totally mad the other day, which set Old Zhou's heart at ease. Furthermore, Miss Zhou finally went home grudgingly after her torturous experience.This is just as well. There is less trouble for me!'
Fang Yuan was dressed in green robes. He let out a sigh of relief.
After all, Song Zhong and Old Zhou were from the same Sect. Song Zhong had lost much and took revenge on his old enemies with a dogged determination. It was worthy to note that he held back from attacking Old Zhou.
He was but an elder of the Spirit Returning Sect and was not invincible.
"The marks that I left behind were definitely insignificant. As long as I do not reveal my skill, especially the Black Sand Palm, who would suspect me…?"
Fang Yuan was extremely self-assured.
The safer the Zhou Family was, the safer he was.
As long as time dragged on, and he kept improving, none of this would matter anymore.
"Ferret, it's your time to shine!"
Fang Yuan patted the ferret's head. Both of them then sped into the forest and disappeared.
"Useless piece of trash!"
Song Zhong let out a roar. Song San immediately spat out blood and was thrown back several metres onto the ground.
"I wanted information on all the Black Sand Palm experts in the county. I gave you so much time, and yet you turned up with so little…"
Song Zhong began to walk forward slowly as he glanced at the bloodied Song San, his features regaining composure.
"Spare me, Master!"
Song San kowtowed repeatedly.
"The Black Sand Palm is widely practised with so many variations. Song San feels that…"
Song San's speech had been cut short by a kick to his chest.
"Are you saying that Yujie made a mistake? That he had poor eyesight?"
"Song San did not mean that!"
Song San clutched his chest in pain. He did not dare to even make a sound.
"...Yujie naturally would not be in the wrong. It must be the servants who made mistakes in their anxiousness to leave. Maybe they heard wrong. Or perhaps...please give me more time Master!"
"Hmph, get lost!"
Following Song Zhong's bellow, Song San ran out of the hall wretchedly, his eyes dripping with malice the moment he was out of sight.
After Song San left, a female disciple walked in and greeted Song Zhong with a bow.
"I have followed your instructions and made preparations. Zhou Tong has lowered his guard and has summoned his former disciples…"
Song Zhong calmed down slightly after receiving the news, except that his enraged expression gave way to a sly one.
"Let's wait for his precious son to return, and we can deal with them all in one go!"
"But Master, the Zhou Family is one of our own. Additionally, it can be confirmed that during the period where Yujie left us, Zhou Tong was recuperating after being severely poisoned. He had nothing to do with Yujie's death…"
The female disciple looked at Song Zhong with uncertainty.
Song Zhong squinted at her.
"You think I have no idea? We played a part in his poisoning. And Zhou Tong has been in contact with the elders in his territory, telling them that I have been a tyrant….We have to kill this sheep in a display of power to show the rest that I'm not to be trifled with!"
The female disciple listened in silence and spoke after a long while.
"This is ruinous for the Sect."
Song Zhong cackled.
"I'll have nothing to do with the downfall of the Zhou Family. It would be the doing of roaming gangsters. As long as we do not leave behind any evidence, who would dare to take an Elder to task?"
"You are mad!"
The female disciple shivered. She could see that her master was becoming more extreme following the death of his beloved son.
Song Zhong became oblivious to his surroundings and muttered under his breath.
"All the people that you've ever disliked will not escape. And all those that you were fond of, Papa will deliver to you…"
As the sun began to set, shadows danced on Song Zhong's face like demons around a fire.
 The 'Magic' in Fang Yuan's stats window is an indicator of how much magical energy he has.