Lin Mu let out a sigh after reaching his house. He had been through a lot of events in the past twenty-fours hours and was now feeling mentally exhausted. He used to look forward to a little excitement, but this was way too much for him.
“Let’s rest for a bit. I still have three hours till sunset.” Lin Mu muttered to himself as he opened the gate of his house.
He walked into the courtyard and let a tired sigh. He felt as if the exhaustion was rushing to him, now that he had stepped into his house. Lin Mu already had a few tasks charted out for the night, thus he wanted to cultivate and rest for a bit.
Strangely for him, cultivation was pretty relaxing and also helped in restoring his energy. Lin Mu was just about to open the door of his bedroom when he heard a rumble in his belly.
‘Oh, I’ve completely forgotten to eat due to all the stuff that happened. Guess, I’ll make something.’ Lin Mu thought to himself.
Lin Mu thus went to the kitchen and cooked some spirit beast meat. Fifteen minutes later he was done eating and was now sitting on his bed in a cross-legged position.
“Finally…” Lin Mu muttered.
He then started chanting the severing heart sutra and began his cultivation session. Lin Mu discovered that his speed of cultivation seemed to have increased by a little bit, a few percent perhaps.
Ever since the morning when Hei Wen had that strange incident, Lin Mu felt as if his comprehension of the severing heart sutra had increased by a slight amount.
Lin Mu cultivated for two hours, after which his spirit qi in his dantian was not only completely replenished but had actually increased. He tried measuring his spirit qi wisps and found out that he had a little over nine hundred wisps of spirit qi.
Another thing he discovered was that originally according to senior Xukong’s words, his dantian’s capacity should have been about a thousand wisps. But now that he had nine hundred wisps of spirit qi in his dantian, it was nowhere close to being filled. It was perhaps about sixty percent filled. Unable to understand the reason for this he decided to ask Senior Xukong.
“Senior Xukong, my dantian’s capacity seems to have increased somehow.” Lin Mu spoke.
Xukong was currently busy in his own cultivation as well. He had borne the full brunt of the impact of the Demonic path’s aura, thus he had a few minor injuries. He had just finished healing them when he heard Lin Mu speaking.
Xukong awakened from his trance but continued absorbing the extremely pure Spatial energy within the mysterious ring. If Lin Mu were to see him right now, he would see that his size had actually increased by a little bit as well. Before Xukong was about the size of the tip of a pinky finger, but now he was as big as the size of a tip of an index finger.
“Oh, so you’ve finally noticed,” Xukong spoke.
Lin Mu felt a little surprised upon knowing that Xukong had already known about this.
“What do you mean, senior?” Lin Mu questioned.
“Your dantian’s capacity has been increasing for a while now. I don’t know the exact reason for it but it has been happening for a while now. Last time I checked, the capacity of your dantian was at about 1300 spirit qi wisps.” Xukong answered.
“1300 spirit qi wisps? But senior it seems to be even higher now. My dantian is only sixty percent filled.” Lin Mu replied.
“Oh? Only sixty percent? It seems like your dantian’s capacity has increased to about 1500 spirit qi wisps now. This is a good thing so you shouldn’t worry.” Xukong spoke.
“But won’t it take me longer to reach the late stage of the qi refining realm this way senior?” Lin Mu asked with concern.
“It will indeed take you longer, but think of it in this way. You will have higher spirit qi reserves than other cultivators and would be able to last a long time in a battle. And of course, when you reach the next stage eventually, you will be even stronger.” Xukong explained.
Lin Mu realized the benefits of this and nodded in response.
“I see, senior.” Lin Mu responded.
Lin Mu estimated that he should still have about thirty minutes left till he would have to leave for the mercenary camp to help Hong Luo, thus he decided to ask Senior Xukong about a few more matters that had been bugging him for a while now.
“Senior what exactly happened to me in the town head’s office? You told me you would explain it later on.” Lin Mu questioned.
“Ah, yes. You awakened a new sutra from the Nine divine sutras right?” Xukong responded.
“Yes Senior, The Burning Heart Sutra.” Lin Mu spoke.
“When you were obtaining the Burning Heart Sutra, I witnessed the changes that happened within the mysterious ring,” Xukong replied.
Xukong then went on to explain all the events that he had seen in the mysterious ring.
He hid certain parts such as the face changing Heart Demon and the True Grand formation array as he knew that Lin Mu was not ready for them. The True Grand formation array was simply beyond his capacity to understand, while the Heart Demon was a sensitive topic that was very likely to disturb and hurt him mentally.
Lin Mu patiently listened to senior Xukong’s explanation. Five minutes later the explanation was done and Lin Mu was feeling a little strange that so much had happened, unknown to him. Though the main part of his interest was the thing that senior Xukong spoke about, ‘The Demonic Path’.
“What is this Demonic Path, senior? Or rather what are these ‘Paths’ that you’ve spoken about before.” Lin Mu questioned.
“A path can be simplified as the amalgamation of an entire type of cultivation. It includes the heavenly laws that dictate the mortals as well as the immortals. As for the Demonic Path, it can be said to be a combination of everything that a Demon would learn and experience during his cultivation.” Xukong answered.
He then saw the confused expression on Lin Mu’s face and understood that he would need to explain this more deeply and perhaps with more examples.
Xukong thus started his explanation.
The three sutras that Lin Mu had obtained from the Nine Divine Heart sutras were all a representation of different ‘Paths’.
The Calming Heart sutra was the representation of the Buddhist path and combined its characteristics of peace, tranquility, mercy, and enlightenment.
The Severing Heart Sutra was the representation of the Sword path and combined its characteristics of fierceness, unyielding demeanor, staunchness, righteousness, unwavering will, and supremacy.
The Burning Heart Sutra was the representation of the Demonic path and combined its characteristic of violence, rage, strength, uninhibited will, and freedom.
Xukong had first attributed the raw strength that Lin Mu had demonstrated while killing the town head to be Demonic Might. Demonic Might was an innate ability of the Demon race and increased the strength of the user while reducing their inhibitions and dulling their senses.
But when Lin Mu demonstrated the skillful use of the Blink skill as well as his spirit sense, Xukong abandoned that thought. Only when he learned that Lin Mu had obtained the Burning heart sutra did he understand that this was something that was not Demonic Might yet belong to the Demonic path.
Lin Mu stayed silent after hearing senior Xukong’s explanation and pondered on it for a few minutes.
“What are Demons?” Lin Mu questioned after pondering on Senior Xukong’s words.
Lin Mu knew what the word ‘Demon’ meant, he had even listened to the stories that were told by the elders when he was a little child. They were described to be evil and merciless creatures that would kill people heartlessly and eat them. In short, they were used to scaring children into behaving.
“Demon is a general term for the creatures that belong to the Demon race. There are many different kinds of demons or you could say species of demons in the Demonic race. They are actually a common race in the myriad of worlds just like humans.” Xukong answered.
“Wait, so demons are real? But aren’t they supposed to be evil and dangerous?” Lin Mu asked with confusion.
“Yes, they do exist. Demons are just like any other intelligent race in this universe. The only difference is that they have a different culture and characteristics. While they are predisposed to violence and anger, they aren’t inherently evil.
They do looker widely different from humans though, having features such as scales, horns, wings, tails and such.” Xukong explained.
Lin Mu suddenly remembered the vast red expanse that he was in before. The bloody lands that spanned across immeasurable distances and the red sky that made one dread their existence. He remembered the various beings that he had seen there. The very same beings that had taught him the Burning Heart sutra.
While remembering this, Lin Mu unknowingly entered a daze. The beings started chanting the Burning Heart sutra in his memories and he too started chanting it along with them.
The Mysterious ring on Lin Mu’s hand started humming again and the ethereal altar within it became active again. The Aura of the Demonic path reappeared in the ring and also started emanating from Lin Mu’s body.
Far across the Northern Forest, beyond the frozen mountains, there existed a shrine.
This shrine was hidden between a ring of mountains and seemed to be desolate. A bell hung at the top of the shine that looked to be made of bronze yet was very rusted. One could tell that the bell had existed for yore and had weathered the tribulations of time.
Suddenly the bell that hung at the top of this shrine started ringing. The sound of the bell echoed across the mountains and spread far and wide.
Deep beneath the surface of the shrine, an ancient presence awakened.