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Similar to that night in Spring, he closed his eyes and calmed his heart, separating his thoughts and letting his divine sense leave his sea of consciousness; separating from his body, quietly drifting within the space of the underground cavern. The surroundings faintly appeared within his mind; the stone walls and light from the Luminous Pearls reappeared within his consciousness after undergoing some deviation.
Upon closing your eyes, the skies are dark, upon the skies turning dark, stars will start to appear; only through this, could one find their Fated Star, yet, his purpose this time was not to seek his Fated Star, but meditative introspection. His divine sense didn’t continue rising upwards, but acted akin to snow and slowly drifted downwards, returning to his own body.
Divine sense had neither shape nor form, easily slipping pass clothing and skin, entering the innermost reaches of the body and relating back everything it comes across; this was introspection, or self-observation.
The Meditative Realm did not have a clear standard, as long as a cultivator could train their divine sense and easily enter meditative introspection, they could claim to have entered the Meditative Realm. Those who wanted to continue advancing their abilities would have to pay attention to improving the interaction between their divine sense and meridians, but the most basic requirement was self-observation.
All the methods for introspection that were given special attention to by the major sects would have had a single line recorded alongside: “Observation of the self allows one to observe Heaven and Earth.”
Why? This was because the cultivator’s body was a Heaven and Earth. This was distinct from the real world; the world within the cultivator was microscopic, miraculous, if one were to say a cultivator’s energy source came from the natural world, then the method for increasing one’s strength would be to continuously transform their microscopic world.
Purification, this was the cultivator’s first step towards transforming their body, albeit, a rather crude method. Meditative introspection was self-observation, yet it was also a transformation of the body initiated by the cultivator, a more comprehensive transformation; upon reaching the Meditative Realm, the cultivator no longer relied upon the energy of Star Brilliance, but started practising the usage of True Essence that was converted from Star Brilliance.
Star Brilliance belonged to nature’s macroscopic Heaven and Earth, True Essence belonged to the cultivator’s microscopic Heaven and Earth.
In comparison to regular cultivators, Chen Chang Sheng’s situation was a little different; firstly, he had to search for the Star Brilliance within this microscopic Heaven and Earth, then he had to attempt transforming it into True Essence that belonged to himself. The real danger was at this point; without having completed Purification, could his body endure the explosive transformation of Star Brilliance into True Essence? Would he suffer the same fate as the victim recorded in the Four Classics of Meditation and die from self-explosion?
He didn’t ponder upon this question, and had his divine sense enter his body, beginning the self-observation, the searching.
The microscopic Heaven and Earth was still a Heaven and Earth, upon his meditative introspection, his divine sense transformed into a gust of wind within that inner world. His searching tonight, within his own body, for the Star Brilliance, was similar to the searching he had done previously for his Fated Star; it was a search over a vast Heaven and Earth; this process was a slow one, slow enough for him to forget the passage of time.
A murky vision, constantly fluctuating light sources, all came together to create countless bizarre scenes, the vagueness made this Heaven and Earth feel both familiar and unfamiliar.
There were jutting landscapes, akin to towering mountain ranges; were these the bones? Yet, what were these fragmented parts of the ground, ley lines that faintly exhibited the presence of life? Meridian channels?
The wind travelled steadily forwards within that world, his divine sense continually searched within his body, as he gradually adjusted to this sensation, the scene within his consciousness became increasingly clear. He came across fractured cliffs; granite-hard mountains had become twisted, the ley lines were broken; a scene of devastation, giving the observer a sense of desolation.
This was his own body, and it was his first time being able to see so clearly for himself, its actual state, making him feel mournful. These fractured mountain cliffs and ley lines were probably his own broken meridians? This was the shadow of death that was hidden within his own body?
Yet… the fearsome power that had twisted these mountain ranges into these misshapen forms, from where did it originate?
The wind drifted across tens of thousands of miles of wild plains and nine, all-encompassing mountain ranges, before arriving at a plain of snow.
He didn’t know what this place was, just that it extended for tens of thousands of miles and was unbearably cold. The ground had an extremely thick layer of snow that was pure to the point of being eye-piercing.
He didn’t know what this snow plain was, nor did he understand the significance of what this thickness, this purity represented for cultivators. What he also didn’t know, was that whether be it the legendary Junior Uncle from Li Shan Sword Sect or any other peerless expert, if they were to know of him possessing this perfect snow plain, they would do all within their means to have him inherit their legacy.
Finally, he saw a lake.
This was a lake that was suspended within Heaven and Earth, blue and clear, under his divine sense, he could judge its size to be several hundreds of miles in diameter. To be more accurate, this was a sphere of water, that was suspended within Heaven and Earth. The water was free of any impurities; no growths, no earth and no sediment, only crystal clear water was present, allowing light to freely pass through unhindered.
Up to this point, his divine sense had already traversed this microscopic world once; according to the definition of cultivation, he had already entered the Meditative Realm, if this was to be made known, it would definitely shock the world, as it meant he possessed the purest, most tranquil divine sense in the world, one that could surpass the boundary between realms.
The problem was, it had no meaning.
No matter how vast or strong the divine sense was, without True Essence, you would still be nothing more than a normal person, the most it could do was to help extend the reach of what he could sense.
True Essence came from Star Brilliance.
From Spring till Winter, he had guided Starlight for Purification, the Purification wasn’t completed, so where had the accumulated Star Brilliance gone to?
Chen Chang Sheng was getting increasingly nervous.
Contact between his divine sense and Star Brilliance would immediately result in the Star Brilliance turning into True Essence. His body had yet to complete its Purification, but had been toughened through long years of medical decoctions by his Master and Senior; could it withstand the horrifyingly explosive energy that would result?
His divine sense once again traversed the microscopic Heaven and Earth, travelling tens of thousands of miles in a moment’s time.
In the end, he gazed at the plain of snow… whiteness abounded; this was clean; this was a beautiful sight.
His divine sense floated higher and he could clearly see that this snow plain was slowly melting away, but due to the constant falling of snow, the snow plain didn’t diminish in size and was instead constantly growing, thickening; yet, under the light, you could make out places where cracks had formed.
The cracks were small in number, but were dispersed across the entire snow plain, separating the plain into tens of fragments.
Was it this place?
It was this place.
He silently looked at the plain of snow in joy.
The snow wasn’t really snow, but was actually Star Brilliance that had crystallised.
He could cultivate.
The Star Brilliance was present.
Yet, what should he do next?
He didn’t ponder this for too long, this wasn’t something he had a choice on.
Upon his divine sense’s confirmation of the Star Brilliance, the microscopic Heaven and Earth also perceived it.
Observe, and then decide: contact.
From the skies above to the ground below, it was a distance in the number of tens of thousands of miles, or perhaps only the distance of a single finger; his divine sense travelled that distance in an instant.
His divine sense touched down upon the south-eastern part of the snow plain, on a small fragment that was slowly drifting away.
That wisp of his divine sense was like a torch, alighting upon a mountain of dry leaves.
The crystallised Star Brilliance immediately let out a brilliant light and then started to burn fiercely.
There was no sound nor smoke, only a violently raging blaze.
The small fragment of snow plain was at least one qing (area: ~61,440m^2) in size, upon the landing of his divine sense, within a moment, the entirety of the small fragment had lit up in a blaze.
A clean and clear flame, that was of an exceedingly high temperature, scorched the skies.
The crystals melted while burning, turning into something akin to magma, slowly flowing away in all directions, it didn’t take long to reach the area outside of the snow plain and arrive at the wild plains.
The magma flowed into the fractured cliffs and set them ablaze.
It flowed in the fragmented ley lines and set the ground alight.
The entire microscopic Heaven and Earth started to burn.
Within the cold frigid underground space, a warm presence suddenly appeared.
The Black Dragon looked at Chen Chang Sheng and saw that the snow landing upon his body immediately melted; the look of indifference in its eyes was replaced with surprise.
Soon, it was replaced with a tightened gaze.
Chen Chang Sheng’s face reddened, the breath coming from his mouth and nose, upon coming into contact with the underground space’s frigid air, immediately turned to white mist.
Snow that fell upon his body immediately melted, then instantly turned to steam, his entire body was covered by a veil of white mist.
Just how high was his body’s current temperature?
The Black Dragon’s eyes revealed an expression of worry, and it lightly blew some air across him.
The frosty Dragon Breath fell upon Chen Chang Sheng’s body.
In an instant, the surface of Chen Chang Sheng’s body was covered by a clear ice shroud.
Yet in the next moment, this ice shroud fractured, melted and dissipated into steam.
Chen Chang Sheng’s face turned increasingly red and his body, increasingly hot. The blood vessels in his neck thickened, before bulging out; it didn’t take long before other blood vessels in his body also started thickening and bulging outwards on his skin. His veins snaked across his body and created a horrifying scene; you could even faintly make out the rapid flow of his blood within its vessels.
The quiet underground space was suddenly punctuated by rapid thudding sounds; this was… his heartbeat.
His heart was rapidly beating, while his blood was rapidly flowing within his blood vessels; his clothing was rapidly soaked through with sweat, before once again drying out in steam.
His body was automatically reacting to his situation, attempting to solve the problem he currently faced.
Yet at this time, the True Essence that was being created from Star Brilliance was raging wildly within his body; without having experienced Purification, how could his body withstand this?
Not to mention that his meridians were naturally broken; his capacity for True Essence was far smaller than that of a regular person’s; his situation, far more dangerous.
Chen Chang Sheng tightly clenched his eyes shut; the vessels on the edge of his eyes rapidly jumped; his brows crossed tightly; evidence of the current pain he was in.
He had skipped Purification and directly performed meditative introspection, this was to confirm whether the Star Brilliance existed or not and settle his mind, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to accept giving up on the Grand Examination.
Now he had seen that plain of snow, the Star Brilliance was ablaze and turning into True Essence, yet he was also about to die, was this something he could accept?
Looking at the painful expression of the youth, the Black Dragon’s eyes revealed pity, yet it continued to not interfere.