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"The Deathless Lava Reservoir was open to all of the Nine Skies back then. Every year, each the Nine Skies would receive some slots, and they would be able to send their talents over to temper themselves. It was previously viewed as a great honor to be selected to train there. However, with the extinguishing of the lava, that system came to a grinding halt. In response to that, each of the Nine Skies created their own facilities to temper the physical body of their cultivators.

"Our military barrack has one as well, but it's intended mainly for Gods. The best place for Celestial Gods to temper their body in the Drifting Specter Royal City is definitely the Lucid Lunar Lake of the Qi Clan. It's just that the Qi Clan is highly exclusive, and even old subordinates like us aren't allowed to access it," Zhuo Feng said with a bitter smile.

"Old subordinates? You are under the Qi Clan?" Zhang Xuan asked.

Yeah, you can say that I used to be under the Qi Clan."

It might be because this concerned confidential military secrets, so Zhuo Feng's answer was very vague.

Getting the drift, Zhang Xuan diverted the topic away and said, "It can't be helped if the Qi Clan doesn't allow outsiders to access their facilities. Do you know of any other ways I can temper my physical body?"

He couldn't possibly sneak into the Qi Clan and use their stuff, right?

He was a law-abiding citizen and would never resort to such underhanded actions!

If he had somehow done something similar to that before, that was all due to the folly of his youth.

That had to be the case. There was no other reason why he would do something like that.

"Nothing else comes to mind," Zhuo Feng shook his head. "Given the resilient bodies that Celestial Gods have, ordinary methods wouldn't work at all. Most of the resources that are effective are either very rare or they have already been monopolized by officials or major clans. Ordinary cultivators won't be able to get to them. Most cultivators can only use their celestial energy to slowly temper their bodies..."

Zhang Xuan fell silent.

Zhuo Feng was right.

It was only after he became a Celestial God himself did he realize how formidable they were. Only items that had reached a certain level of potency was effective on him, and those items were darned expensive. There was no way ordinary cultivators would have the money for that!

So, they could only take their time in tempering their physical body.

"If... Zhang shi really needs to use the Lucid Lunar Lake, I can put aside my dignity and ask for you. However, I would just like to say that the chances of it working out is very slim..." Zhuo Feng added.

"I understand. That would be greatly appreciated," Zhang Xuan clasped his fist and replied.

He needed to raise his cultivation swiftly, so the opportunity as the Lucid Lunar Lake was indeed important to him.

"I'll give it a try then," Zhuo Feng nodded before walking out of Zhang Xuan's residence.

Shortly after Zhuo Feng left, Zhang Xuan walked to the courtyard and saw Qi Ling-er sitting on one of the stools. It would seem like she had a long day as her beautiful face showed signs of exhaustion, and helpless sighs would escape from her time to time.

"Young Master Zhang..."

"How is your information gathering coming along?" Zhang Xuan asked.

"I went to the black market of the Royal City and found some past close friends, hoping to gather some news from them. However, Qi Xun-er found that I have returned and intentionally reported my return to the Qi Clan... I have just received a return order from the clan, so I'll have no choice but to make my way there," Qi Ling-er shook her head.

"Once I return to the Qi Clan, there's a good chance that my movements would be severely restricted. So, I came back here to inform you in advance."

Zhang Xuan was confused by what he had just heard from Qi Ling-er.

Why would the Qi Clan severely restrict her movements after hearing of her return? It was not as if she was a criminal.

He understood that major clans tended to have strict rules, but this seemed a little too extreme to him.

"Black markets are technically illegal in the Firmament. Most of those in the upper echelons are aware of their existence, but they also understand that it would be hard to maintain peace within the cities without the presence of black markets as well. So, they choose to overlook their existence..." Qi Ling-er began to explain.

The receding of spiritual energy from the Firmament was a catastrophic blow to all cultivators. It hindered them from acquiring the resources they needed to cultivate and survive.

Most resources were currently within the cities, and they were regulated by the authorities. That meant that it would be difficult for ordinary cultivators to access the resources, and that could potentially result in major unrest.

If ordinary cultivators found themselves in a desperate position where they couldn't advance their cultivation as well, there was a good chance that they would band together and try something.

Of course, a revolt was unlikely given the absolute power that God Monarchs, Conferred God Kings, and God Kings wielded, but there were many other ways for ordinary cultivators to spark chaos within the cities. Banditry was one perfect example.

For this reason, the existence of the black market was of paramount importance.

It was the place where cultivators knew that they would be able to acquire what they need, even though the price might be a little hefty at times. It drew attention away from the dissatisfactions from the governance, bringing stability to the cities.

In a sense, this was similar to how, in Zhang Xuan's previous world, some occupations were considered illegal, but authorities still chose to turn a blind eye to their existence due to the necessity of their existence in the world.

It was not that they didn't want to intervene, but there could be a severe backlash if the authorities were to put a foot into it.

"Pretty much all of the black markets of the Sky of Drifting Specter are under the control of the Qi Clan. It might appear impressive at first look, but in the higher echelons, the black markets are viewed to be shady and dishonorable. For this reason, those operating the black markets are mainly the members who have been sidelined and oppressed,"

Qi Ling-er said with a bitter smile.

The top echelons had reluctantly acknowledged the existence of the black markets, but that didn't change the fact that the black market was still illegal.

Even if she were to show splendid results as the boss of a black market, that was no way she could flaunt about in the upper echelons!

This was similar to how spies couldn't be officially recognized for their merits even if they had contributed more than the generals.

"To be frank, the linage that I have descended from can be considered to be extremely close to the core lineage. However, due to the conflicts in the previous generation, my lineage has been oppressed by Qi Xun-er's lineage all this while. She knows that we won't be able to do anything about her due to her brother, and she's making full use of that..."

"Her brother?"

"Her brother is the most talented offspring of the Qi Clan at the moment. He's in his late thirties at the moment, but his cultivation has already reached high-tier Celestial God. Furthermore, he was able to persevere in the Lucid Lunar Lake for more than four hours.

"According to the elders of our clan, he has the constitution of a God King! He has been receiving the best cultivation resources in our clan, and naturally, that means that the standing of the lineage he has descended from rises as well," Qi Ling-er said.

"The Lucid Lunar Lake?" Zhang Xuan asked curiously.

"It's a place where the members of the Qi Clan refine their bloodline and temper their physical body. The purer one's bloodline is, the longer one will be able to stay within the Lucid Lunar Lake. Even the core disciples who are able to stay in there for an hour can already be considered geniuses. In the history of the Qi Clan, including him, only five people have been able to last that long in there, and the previous four eventually went on to become God Kings!" Qi Ling-er nodded.

Due to such precedences, the Qi Clan viewed Qi Xun-er's brother as a God King in the making.

The top clans competing for dominance in the Drifting Specter Royal City were those who had Conferred God Kings, and the old ancestor of the Qi Clan, Qi Meng, was a Conferred God King himself.

What that set those clans apart was namely the number of God Kings they had under their command. Thus, if another God King could rise up from the Qi Clan, it would surely give the Qi Clan an edge over the others.

A person viewed as a potential God King would surely be placed on a pedestal compared to the others. Naturally, the clan would favor him over anyone he was in conflict with.

That would explain why Qi Ling-er ended up being sent to the faraway Twilight City despite being a member of the Qi Clan. It seemed like the politics within the Qi Clan was complicated.

"Have you been to the Lucid Lunar Lake before?" Zhang Xuan asked.

"I went in once, but I couldn't even last 15 minutes in there," Qi Ling-er shook her head.

If she could persevere four hours on there, the Qi Clan would surely be desperate to fawn on her. Not even that wench Qi Xun-er would be able to cross her!

Those who were weak were bound to be oppressed, this was something that couldn't be helped.

"You couldn't last 15 minutes in there? Is it very uncomfortable to be within the Lucid Lunar Lake?"

"The energy in the lake is very violent, and it suppresses one's celestial energy and soul. As a result, it's impossible to protect yourself with celestial energy in there. It will be difficult to stay in there for too long just by enduring it with one's physical body. Those who are able to do it are usually those who have purer bloodline and possess great talents," Qi Ling-er explained.

It was not that she was unwilling to endure the pain, but she was really at her limits then.

Just entering the Lucid Lunar Lake made her feel as though every single cell on her body was being sliced into two simultaneously. If she were to force herself to press on, she might have either died or lost her mind there.

"Usually, I would have avoided the Royal City at all costs due to the situation within the Qi Clan. However, after consuming your Beauty Pill, I realized that the injuries I have sustained before has disappeared, and my recovery ability has enhanced significantly. I have a feeling that I might be able to last much longer within the Lucid Lunar Lake in my current state... So, I hope to return to my clan and give it another try!" Qi Ling-er said hesitantly.

"So, you want me to forge some Beauty Pills for you so as to boost your chances in the Lucid Lunar Lake?" Zhang Xuan saw through Qi Ling-er's thoughts.

When he first asked Qi Ling-er to come with him to the Royal City and offered to compensate her for her services, the latter hesitated for a moment and eventually chose to defer her request. From the looks of it now, it should be related to the Lucid Lunar Lake.

The Lucid Lunar Lake was representative of a person's talents in the Qi Clan, and those who were able to last longer in it would be highly regarded within the clan.

Most likely, she was thinking that as long as she could obtain sufficient Beauty Pills, she would be able to endure the violent energy within the Lucid Lunar Lake and last long enough for her to solidify her position within the clan.

"That's right..." Qi Ling-er replied frankly.

Very well, I can help you with that!" Zhang Xuan replied. "However, you'll need to bring me along with you to the Lucid Lunar Lake."

It just happened that he was interested to see the highly-acclaimed physical body tempering spot of the Sky of Drifting Specters when Qi Ling-er suddenly spoke about it. Even if he were to just look at it, he might be able to figure out a way to emulate its effects so as to temper his body.

"Thank you, Young Master Zhang!" Qi Ling-er's eyes lit up in happiness.

In truth, her objective was not the Beauty Pill but Zhang Xuan himself.

She couldn't deny that the effects of the Beauty Pill were incredible, but even so, it would only increase the amount of time she could last inside the Lucid Lunar Lake by ten minutes or so.

What she valued more at the moment was her relationship with Zhang Xuan. In her journey with him, she had witnessed how the young man had created miracles one after another.

If she could just convince the young man to help her on this matter, she might just be able to pull off the unexpected.

"I can bring you to the Lucid Lunar Lake, but without the Qi Clan's bloodline, you won't be able to enter the area. Otherwise, the violent energy will tear you apart," Qi Ling-er replied.

She wasn't worried about bringing Zhang Xuan in as well due to the special nature of the Lucid Lunar Lake. Those who weren't from the Qi Clan wouldn't even be able to come into close proximity with it without sustaining severe damage.

For this reason, the Qi Clan also didn't set up strict restrictions preventing outsiders from coming close since it would be redundant to do so.

"Rest assured, I'm just interested to see what it's like," Zhang Xuan said with a smile.

He wasn't intending to enter the lake, at least not at the moment anyway.

That being said, if a chance presented itself where he could temper his physical body, he wouldn't give up on it either. As long as he were to take it easy and not spoil the Lucid Lunar Lake, it should be fine...

"That's a relief..." Qi Ling-er remarked.

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