Chapter 20: Feathers Scattered About
Spirit Tail Chickens were far larger than ordinary chickens. They had very resilient feathers and extremely ferocious temperaments. After reaching full maturity, they were comparable to the second level of Qi Condensation.
Not only was their meat edible, so were their eggs. Their blood and bones could be added to medicines, and when you burned their tails, they could create rare, three-colored flames. Because of all that, large amounts of Spirit Tail Chickens were being raised in all of the three mountains on the south bank of the Spirit Stream Sect.
However, they did not actually belong to the sect itself. Instead, they were the personal property of Li Qinghou and the Peak Lords of the other two mountain peaks, who assigned certain disciples to raise them and take care of them. On Fragrant Cloud Peak, there were three areas specially set aside to breed them.
Bai Xiaochun crouched in the thicket looking at the Spirit Tail Chickens. Back when he had worked in the Ovens, he had never seen the chickens live, but had eaten their meat and knew it was delicious. Furthermore, Big Fatty Zhang had mentioned that they loved to eat spirit insects.
After observing the chickens for a while, Bai Xiaochun flickered into motion. He did not do anything rash, but instead went back down the mountain, where he spent some spirit stones to buy some spirit insects, after which he returned to his courtyard residence.
By the time he got back, he was so hungry that he had to fight not to faint, and immediately began to look around for something to eat.
It didn't take long for his gaze to fall upon the Spiritwinter Bamboo, whereupon his eyes began to shine. The bamboo stalks were already around three meters tall, and thick as a fist. From the spirit glow they emanated, they seemed far beyond ordinary.
Bai Xiaochun immediately hurried over and began to walk around the bamboo stalks, laughing heartily as he studied them closely. Based on what he had studied about plants and vegetation, he was quickly able to identify the toughest among the various stalks, which he cut off at the base and then sliced in half.
When it came to stealing chickens, Bai Xiaochun had a very special method. The key lay in the word 'steal' itself. Being able to get the chickens without anyone noticing was an art form.
He quickly used some of the bamboo to craft a device called a bamboo cicada.
He had learned how to make bamboo cicadas from his father when he was young. Supposedly, they were effective in catching all sorts of creatures from chickens to phoenixes. Once the bamboo cicada itself was finished, he used some strips of bamboo to weave a cord. After finishing that, he tested out the cord's strength, tied it to the bamboo cicada, then flew out into the darkness of night.
"I'm gonna eat chicken!!" His stomach grumbled, but his eyes were shining with a green light. Because of how starving he was, he moved even faster than normal, and soon arrived at the Spirit Tail Chicken farm.
As he neared, he tiptoed up to the fence, placed a spirit insect onto the bamboo cicada, then threw the bamboo cicada over the fence. Next, he crouched hungrily off to the side, holding the cord, which was attached to the cicada.
Further inside the fence were some log cabins, where certain Outer Sect disciples resided and practiced cultivation. The chicken farm was quite large, with over a hundred Spirit Tail Chickens, most of whom were laying on the ground. A few were walking about, occasionally sticking their heads up haughtily and looking around. After a bit of time passed, one of the Spirit Tail Chickens seemed to have noticed something. It turned and looked at something a ways away, then walked over. It immediately saw the spirit insect sitting there, prompting it to peck its beak down to grab it.
However, as soon as the Spirit Tail Chicken pecked at the spirit insect, right at the critical moment, the bent piece of bamboo snapped open, ingeniously forcing the Spirit Tail Chicken's beak open.
The Spirit Tail Chicken wanted to cry out, but its beak was stuck open, and it couldn't emit any sounds. Then it tried to close its beak and crush the bamboo, but the bamboo was too resilient, and its efforts were in vain.
No matter how the Spirit Tail Chicken struggled, it couldn't make a peep as it was quickly dragged toward the fence, then up and over, straight into Bai Xiaochun's hands. Bai Xiaochun quickly drew upon the power of the fourth level of Qi Condensation, sending massive amounts of force into his hands, which he used to snap the chicken's neck. Then he tossed it into his bag of holding. From the way he moved, it seemed he was quite a veteran when it came to this sort of thing.
The entire affair took only about thirty breaths of time, and most of that time had been spent lying in wait. Were it not for that, it would have been accomplished even faster.
Bai Xiaochun raced excitedly back to his courtyard residence, whereupon a fragrant aroma soon filled the air. By dawn, the entire chicken was now in Bai Xiaochun's belly.
The only thing left were the feathers and the bones scattered about....
After eating the entire Spirit Tail Chicken, most of Bai Xiaochun's hunger was abated. Having replenished his body, he now felt quite warm and comfortable.
In fact, he even seemed to have a bit more spiritual energy inside. However, the most apparent change had to do with his Undying Live Forever Technique. Bai Xiaochun immediately began to breathe in and out, for roughly eight cycles.
With every inhalation and exhalation, pulsating warmth would spread through his body and then converge on his skin. That in turn caused his skin to become tougher and more resilient. It even flickered with a black light. However, if you looked closely, it was just as fair and clear as before.
"The Undying Live Forever Technique starts with pain, then moves to hunger. This type of cultivation is definitely quite difficult, however, the results are excellent." With that, he extended his right hand, within which appeared his wooden sword. Then, he carefully and softly tapped the blade onto the back of his hand.
The wooden sword had a twofold spirit enhancement, but when it touched his skin, Bai Xiaochun could sense a faint force of resistance. He ceased any testing, more convinced than ever that he needed to continue cultivating the Undying Live Forever Technique.
"According to the description, the Undying Skin has four stages: gold, silver, copper, and iron. Right now I've just started. But if I can last for eighty-one days... I should be able to develop Undying Iron Skin." Bai Xiaochun looked around at the scattered chicken bones, and in his heart, he now realized what was the key to successfully cultivating the Undying Iron Skin.
"Thankfully, there are plenty of Spirit Tail Chickens on the mountain," he thought, laughing heartily. He was now more interested in the Spirit Tail Chickens than ever.
What he didn't know was that in the past 10,000 years in the Spirit Stream Sect, very few people had ever cultivated the Undying Live Forever Technique. Most who did ended up quitting during the terrifying torment that was the first eighty-one days. Although some managed to continue, the main problem after that was how much money it cost to keep going.
In order to cultivate the technique all the way to the stage of Undying Gold Skin, the expenditure involved was simply terrifying. Even an entire sect would have a hard time forking over so much. After all, those resources could be used on other, less wasteful techniques. Although those other techniques weren't as marvelous, a sect had to consider what was most cost-effective.
That was the main reason why the Undying Live Forever Technique had ended up gathering dust in the Scripture Pavilion.
After practicing cultivation for a bit, Bai Xiaochun gathered up the chicken bones and buried them in the nearby spirit soil, along with the feathers.
Then he left his courtyard residence and found a place where the Outer Sect disciples tended to congregate, where he eavesdropped a bit to see if anyone was talking about the chicken being stolen. Based on his experience stealing chickens back in his village, he knew that the most optimal method was to only strike once every few days.
After eavesdropping a bit, he didn't hear anyone mention anything about a missing chicken. However, during his eavesdropping, he also learned that the three-colored tail feathers of the Spirit Tail Chickens could be used to kindle three-colored flames.
Having learned this, Bai Xiaochun immediately trotted back to his courtyard residence and dug up the three-colored tail feathers out of the spirit soil. Then he sat there, studying them thoughtfully.
"No wonder they raise so many Spirit Tail Chickens here." He immediately stored the three-colored feathers in his bag of holding. To others, such feathers were nothing more than kindling for three-colored flames. To him, though, they were fuel to perform threefold spirit enhancements.
He didn't attempt to do so immediately, though. His plan was to get some spirit medicine first, then perform a spirit enhancement to make the medicine more powerful.
After resting for a few days, Bai Xiaochun started getting hungry again one night. He put down the second volume of plants and vegetation and headed out into the darkness of night. When he returned, he had two more Spirit Tail Chickens in his bag of holding.
And that was how time passed by. Soon, a month had gone by, during which time, news about the missing Spirit Tail Chickens began to spread on Fragrant Cloud Peak.
Even Li Qinghou heard about the matter. After all, in only a month of time, a few dozen chickens had gone missing from the three Spirit Tail Chicken farms. However, Li Qinghou didn't pay much attention to the matter, as he had important affairs to handle which ended up taking him off of the mountain.
Most depressed of all were the seven or eight Outer Sect disciples in charge of raising the Spirit Tail Chickens. It wasn't that they cared a lot for the chickens themselves, but rather, that the chickens weren't really theirs to begin with. Although the Peak Lord didn't say anything, they felt the matter to be a big loss of face. After all, whoever was stealing the chickens was doing it right under their noses.
However, there was nothing they could do about it. No matter what they did to try to protect the chickens, the chickens kept going missing. What was most puzzling of all was that the chickens went missing without a trace. Not even a sound could be heard, as if they had vanished into thin air.
By now, Bai Xiaochun's body was now completely back to normal, and in fact, he had even gained a bit of weight. However much the Undying Live Forever Technique sucked away from him, he would replenish it with chicken meat. His face had a healthy flush, and he was once again living a comfortable life.
He was in a wonderful mood, and his belly was full. As a result, his research into the second volume of plants and vegetation picked up speed. Eventually, the day arrived when he was finished studying. Based on what had happened last time, he had studied everything in even more minute detail, including the leaves, stems, roots, veins, and even the tiny hairs on the surface of the plants. He was now more confident than ever, and was sure that even if the plants were split into dozens of parts, he would still be able to identify them.
Chest puffed out proudly, he strode out of his courtyard residence.
"This time, I'm going to make sure everybody knows that I am the Lord Turtle who passed up Zhou Xinqi!" Filled with anticipation, he headed straight for the 10,000 Medicines Pavilion.