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Watching the graceful and serene female formation master walk away, Lan Chang'an recalled information about Shi Manrong.

This fairy, Shi Manrong, was a genius in formations, achieving the second-rank superior-grade level in just a few decades.

The path of formations is profound and obscure, more challenging than talismans and alchemy, requiring extremely high talent.

Talismans and formations share some common ground.

In his previous life, Lan Chang'an had some knowledge of formations, with second-rank formation mastery, though not specialized.

Lan Chang'an knew a bit about Shi Manrong’s background.

She came from a now-destroyed cultivation family in the Liang Kingdom.

Due to a marriage agreement, she was adopted by the Chen Family of cultivators; later, their relationship broke down, and she left her husband and family, successfully building her foundation outside.

The middle-aged man driven away earlier, Chen Sheng, was Shi Manrong’s ex-husband.

Lan Chang'an didn’t know the details of their dispute.

Judging by Shi Manrong’s elegant demeanor and speech, she seemed like a virtuous and gracious wife, but why their relationship broke down and she established her own path outside was a mystery.

...

While surveying the terrain of Little Turtle Peak, Lan Chang'an had a rough plan in mind.

First, a protective mountain Formation was indispensable.

It concerned his own safety and couldn’t be entirely entrusted to others.

Only after this would he transform the cave mansion, plant spiritual flowers and exotic herbs, and raise pets.

The herbs should ideally be those that become more valuable with age.

Several days later.

Lan Chang'an left Wuqi Mountain, flying towards Huanglong Immortal City.

Wuqi Mountain was roughly halfway between Jin Yun Valley and Huanglong Immortal City in a straight line.

This time, he sped up a bit, reaching Huanglong Immortal City in just over half a month.

...

In the inner city, at Water Moon Residence.

“Senior Brother, you’re back.”

A light and graceful girl in a robe greeted him with a slightly choked sweet voice.

After half a year, Guan Qiaozhi’s delicate and pure face showed a mix of resentment and longing, making her look pitiful.

Lan Chang'an released the Profound Water Turtle.

The turtle, familiar with Guan Qiaozhi, cutely stretched out its head, rubbing against her robe and legs.

“That tickles,” Guan Qiaozhi laughed, breaking her gloom.

“Brother Lan, the Profound Water Turtle grows so slowly. When can it become a mount? I read in ancient books that ancient giant turtles were massive enough to carry an entire immortal city.”

Guan Qiaozhi asked curiously.

“A mount? It’ll take several more years,”

Lan Chang'an glanced at the Profound Water Turtle, which was about the size of an iron pot.

Its shell would need to be at least half a zhang wide to comfortably carry a person, right?

As for the kind of giant turtle that could carry an immortal city, it was likely a descendant of true spirit bloodlines, which the Profound Water Turtle with its earthly bloodline couldn’t match.

That day, Lan Chang'an enjoyed a comfortable bath with the skillful service of his concubine.

...

The next day, Lan Chang'an went to Jin Yun Valley’s base and met Zhao Siyao.

“Congratulations, Fellow Daoist Zhao, on advancing to the mid-Foundation Establishment stage.”

When they met, Zhao Siyao was in high spirits, radiant and beautiful, her bearing confident and poised. She had broken through the period of stagnation and taken a solid step forward in Foundation Establishment.

Given Zhao Siyao’s aptitude, this progress was quite good.

Her spiritual roots were close to high grade, and she had established her foundation twenty-six or twenty-seven years before Lan chang'an.

She had been stuck at the third level of the Foundation Establishment stage for ten years, only breaking through two months ago.

In the sect, without following the routine, she went out to temper herself and seek opportunities, thus slightly speeding up her progress.

“Without progress, there’s no hope for me to form a Core in this life. Any slackness could mean being overtaken by Fellow Daoist Lan in the future.”

Zhao Siyao’s beautiful eyes sparkled with light, and she smiled charmingly, exuding an air of peerless beauty.

For ordinary Foundation Establishment cultivators, reaching the late Foundation Establishment stage before a hundred years old offered a chance to advance to the Core Formation Realm in their lifetime.

“Not at all. I'd be quite content if I could just catch up to Fellow Daoist Zhao.” Lan chang'an quipped modestly.

Zhao Siyao smiled at him, saying nothing.

“By the way, Fellow Daoist Lan, I have news. Fu Xuemei’s younger brother, Fu Dong, successfully established his foundation a few months ago.”

Hearing this, Lan Chang'an was astonished.

With inferior spiritual roots, even with a superior Foundation Establishment Pill, the chances of success were slim.

Normal mid-grade spiritual roots might not enhance the chances of establishing a foundation but at least it wouldn’t hinder it either.

Inferior spiritual roots, belonging to spiritual roots that didn't enter the grading, would see the effects of a Foundation Establishment Pill halved at the least.

He then learned that besides the superior Foundation Establishment Pill, Fu Xuemei also sought a treasure from her master, Huanglong Immortal, to aid her brother.

“Miss Fu asked me to give you this token of gratitude,” Zhao Siyao took out a small jade box.

“Another gift?” Lan Chang'an thought, Fu Xuemei must be in high spirits after fulfilling her long-cherished wish, sending a token of gratitude.

Opening the jade box, inside was a spiritual peach emitting a fragrance that stirred his Evergreen mana.

“A Five-Life Peach, Fu Xuemei is quite thoughtful." Lan Chang'an was moved.

This spiritual peach could extend life by five years.

At the bottom of the jade box was a silver token engraved with a yellow dragon.

“This is a VIP token for Huanglong Pavilion. It offers discounts and access to restricted resources in the affiliated shops of Huanglong Immortal City.”

Zhao Siyao recognized it, exclaiming in surprise.

Huanglong Pavilion was the official business of Huanglong Immortal City, running numerous shops that sold high-quality and high-priced goods.

...

“What is Fu Xuemei’s intention?”

Lan Chang'an accepted the gift and returned to Water Moon Residence, pondering.

Given Fu Xuemei’s status, she had no need to curry favor with or fear offending an elderly Foundation Establishment cultivator like him.

She was much younger than Zhao Siyao. She had also advanced to the mid-Foundation Establishment stage two years ago, despite being held back by her brother.

From the public opinion in Huanglong Immortal City, Fu Xuemei was aloof but had no evil deeds, reportedly having helped orphans in the outer city.

To Lan chang'an, aside from obstructing his path, she seemed trustworthy.

To date, the gifts she had sent were worth at least as much as the superior Foundation Establishment Pill, not counting the favor she owed him.

“There are two possibilities.”

“First, she wishes to place herself on a pedestal, to put on a show for outsiders. If I retaliate against her in the future, those unaware of the truth will view me as an ingrate.”

“Second, she might feel a bit guilty for swapping my Foundation Establishment Pill for her brother, thus offering some gifts as compensation.”

Lan Chang'an leaned toward the first possibility, but human nature was complex; perhaps both explanations held some truth.

Such tactics were meaningless to Lan Chang'an. He was not some hot-blooded youth who reveled in exacting revenge in broad daylight. To him, the best way to settle debts was from the shadows—only fools exposed themselves in the open.

...

In his room, Lan Chang'an took out the Five-Life Peach.

Confirming it was fine, he ate it in a few bites, savoring the fresh sweetness on his tongue.

“Life extended by eight years.” Lan Chang'an smiled.

Spiritual peaches, including Five-Life Peaches, were main ingredients for crafting Life Extension Pills.

Having previously consumed first-rank Life Extension Pills, he didn’t achieve double the lifespan extension, but the effect exceeded expectations.

“In the Foundation Establishment stage, my lifespan now reaches three hundred ninety years." Lan chang'an felt content.

...

Huanglong Immortal City would host its next large-scale auction in half a year's time.

Lan Chang'an planned to attend the auction before heading to Wuqi Mountain.

In the following six months, Lan Chang'an was busy procuring supplies.

First, a protective formation for Little Turtle Peak. Lan Chang'an planned on using a design from his previous lifetime.

Second, he bought seeds and seedlings of spiritual grains and herbs.

Third, he needed materials for puppets. Lan Chang'an had a natural talent for puppetry, and with his enhanced spiritual sense, found it even more suited to him than talismans.

He set a goal for himself: to become a second-rank puppet master within twenty years.

These three types of procurement were not difficult in Huanglong Immortal City.

With the VIP token from Huanglong Pavilion, he could access some restricted resources.

For the three other resources he desired, more effort was needed.

These were second-rank superior-grade spiritual wood, top magical weapons, and Life Extension Pills.

Fortunately, with the large auction approaching, shops in Huanglong Immortal City showcased many rare items.

...

Half a month before the auction.

Lan Chang'an left a large magical weapon shop affiliated with Huanglong Pavilion, warmly seen off by the Foundation Establishment stage shopkeeper.

Lan Chang'an returned satisfied.

Back at Water Moon Residence, he took out a five-foot-long golden bell artifact.

“Supreme-grade magical weapon ‘Vajra Bell’, which can form a transparent golden shield all-round the user. It can also transform into a large bell to trap enemies, with sound waves that can shake the blood and qi of ordinary Foundation Establishment cultivators.”

The Vajra Bell leaned towards defense and trapping enemies, with a sound wave attack as a supplement, it was considered a powerful weapon among its grade.

Moreover, it cost significantly more than the offensive weapon auctioned off at the Bamboo Leaf Mountain auction years ago.

For this purchase, Lan Chang'an spent over two thousand spirit stones. Without the Huanglong Pavilion's VIP pass, it would have been difficult to procure such an item.

Lan Chang'an privately tested the Vajra Bell. Other than the high consumption of mana, he was satisfied with its performance. As long as it wasn't damaged, such a supreme-grade magical weapon could serve him until the late stage of Foundation Establishment.

In the final days before the auction, Lan Chang'an concealed his identity and slipped away to wander Huanglong Immortal City's various shops. He even attended private trade fairs organized by other Foundation Establishment cultivators within the city.

Unfortunately, he was unable to find any second-rank superior-grade spirit wood.

However, he did manage to acquire two Life Extension Pills under different aliases.

Previously, Lan Chang'an had consumed three Life Extension Pills, which had extended his lifespan by ten, eight, and six years, respectively. The two he collected this time extended his lifespan by another five years.

395 years of lifespan in Foundation Establishment Realm, he was nearing the four-hundred-year mark!

"All I need now is some second-rank superior-grade spirit wood."

Lan Chang'an's shopping spree had been largely successful, save for this final item. His heart remained set on procuring that treasure talisman ingredient, he pinned his hopes on the upcoming auction to get lucky.

(End of chapter)

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