For the whole night, Jiang Nan immersed himself in deep study of the secret ghost manual.
Of course, he didn’t become careless because of it, and before he began to study, he did two things: first, he returned to the shanty to reassure his aunt to go to sleep.
Second, he brought the secret manual to the cellar of where the pig meat was stored. This cellar had already been sealed shut for the winter, so no matter what Jiang Nan did in there, nobody would come to disturb him.
And then within the cellar, Jiang Nan flipped open the secret ghost manual…
“Young fellow, remember this. Everything in nature has a spiritual component, and ghosts are not an exception: if you believe in a natural form of something pertaining to ghosts, and possess a bridge of ghosts as well, then you have a chance to open a road to a ghost totem…”
The secret manual was written by that black figure, so the content’s tone naturally struck against Jiang Nan’s heart.
And when he flipped it open, the manual gave a brief introduction which explained the basic and fundamental knowledge of totems. Jiang Nan already understood all of this, so he just jumped ahead to the details, directly looking at the next step.
“Keep in mind, the way of totems consists of a detailed and rigid division of levels…”
“Specifically speaking, the power of totems consists of a total of three stages! Once a person has a bridge of nature and succeeds in communicating with a form of nature, he has stepped into the first stage of the way of totems—Totem Warrior!”
“The stage of Totem Warrior is divided into three ranks: primary, intermediate, superior, and each rank consists of 9 levels. The 1st level is the weakest, and the 9th is the strongest.”
“In similar fashion, the second stage is called ‘Totem Master’, which also consists of 3 ranks and 9 levels per rank. As for the stage above Totem Master, it is called ‘Totem King’… Totem Warrior, Totem Master, Totem King. These three phases all in all amount to 3 stages, 9 ranks, and 81 levels of the way of totems!”
Three stages, nine ranks, eighty-one levels, the way of totems…
Jiang Nan suddenly felt as though his mind had a layer of clarity!
He had once heard a person mention that Sun City’s expert Sauron was an ‘intermediate rank 6th level Carnivorous Flower Totem Warrior’.
When Jiang Nan had first heard this wordy and long-winded way of address, it was simply fog in his mind. However, he now understood that the whole meaning of this way of address was this: Sauron believed in the power of the Carnivorous Flower, and had subsequently trained until the first stage—Totem Warrior stage’s intermediate rank, 6th level!
Alright, so Sauron was only a ‘Totem Warrior’, and in the eyes of genuine experts, only a nobody who couldn’t even be considered ‘mainstream’.
But a nobody like him… had pressured him to the point that he had shut his eyes and could only await death!
Once he thought about this, there was a faint pain in Jiang Nan’s heart.
So it turns out…. that he was not even equal to a nobody! Fine, he was a nobody within an ocean of nobodies, a weakling through and through!
However, tightly gripping the secret manual, a feeling of valor bubbled up from Jiang Nan’s heart, “So what if I’m a weakling? I possess the chance to become an expert. Alright, sooner or later, I’ll be even stronger than Sauron.”
Jiang Nan impatiently looked down in excitement…
“Young fellow, I now eagerly await for you to embark on the way of the ghost totem: 1st step, you must utilize the ‘bridge of ghosts’ within your body and communicate with a natural form having to do with ghosts, deriving power from that form… What are you waiting for, hurry up and find a natural form that has to do with ghosts!”
A form that has to do with ghosts…
Jiang Nan suddenly laughed. The cellar he was in was used to store pig meat, and there were, at the very least, one hundred dead pigs. Wasn’t this a readily available ghost form?
“Alright, since you’ve found a ghost form, then according to the method below, draw power from within it…”
According to what the manual said, Jiang Nan focused and calmed his spirit, closing his eyes to sense the dead pigs within the vicinity.
When he first started, Jiang Nan didn’t feel any particular change, but after his mental state grew more and more focused, suddenly, it seemed as though Jiang Nan’s soul was spinning and the skies and the earth were spinning!
(TL: He was dizzy.)
Gradually, this revolving force expanded outside of his body and allowed the air around Jiang Nan to start spinning as well….
Suddenly, those one hundred dead pigs, without the slightest warning, began to reveal ghastly white, incorporeal bodies one by one, and these apparitions followed with the circulation of air to surround Jiang Nan’s body, surging into his body all at once!
“So this is the power of ghosts?”
Jiang Nan was ecstatic, and a turbulent power filled his whole body!
However, Jiang Nan didn’t dare to relax, because according to the manual, he had to guide the incorporeal substances within to be absorbed into every nook and cranny of his body.
According to the explanation in the manual, these deathly pale forms were called ‘necromantic energy’, and were an indication that one had stepped onto the path of ghost totems as well as the basic foundation for cultivating a ghost totem.
(TL: okay… so necromantic/necromancy/necromancer sounds a lot better than ‘ghost’, but for some unknown reason, when I was comparing the two words and looking in the dictionary, I chose ghost. IDK. let me know below what you think: necromancy or ghost?)
However in Jiang Nan’s perspective, using the methodology in wuxia novels to explain ‘necromantic energy’ was a lot simpler: if one likened a totem master to a martial arts expert, then necromantic energy would be equivalent to the ‘inner strength’ of a martial arts expert.
To a ghost totem master, the significance of ‘necromantic energy’, this kind of inner strength, probably didn’t even need to explained much.
“Very good, you’ve already absorbed the necromantic energy, and have officially stepped onto the path of ghost totems!”
The manual continued to write: “However, it’s still not the time for you to be laughing in joy! Young fellow, once you possess necromantic energy, you must swiftly begin guiding the energy…”
Jiang Nan thought this paragraph of words to be quite cryptic and hard to understand, but after a while of contemplation, he understood. It was still better to use the terminology of wuxia novels: after Jiang Nan possessed inner strength, he had to learn how to utilize the inner strength within his body. In other words… ‘*internal skill’!
(*TL: So apparently, raw pinyin is also an English word (neigong 内功) so it basically refers to “refers to any of a set of Chinese breathing, meditation and spiritual practice disciplines associated with Daoism and especially the Chinese martial arts” – source)
And after that, the manual had a paragraph written on the internal skill of how to utilize the ‘necromantic energy’.
“Young fellow, the power of ghosts of my faith as well as the method of how to utilize necromantic energy is called ‘Ghost Secrets’… The first secret, Dark Steps, is to circulate the necromantic energy within your body into the flesh of your two legs, thus displaying demonic speed…”
Once Jiang Nan saw this, he couldn’t help but eagerly read and follow the instructions at the same time to try out ‘Dark Steps’!
However, training wasn’t something that could just be done overnight. The explanation within the manual was extremely clear: ‘Dark Steps’ was used to heighten one’s speed. However, even after Jiang Nan had practiced for around four or five hours, he had only increased his speed by three seconds.
Throwing the secret manual to one side, Jiang Nan lied down on the floor and smacked his forehead in frustration. He had bitterly trained for four to five hours, but had only achieved very little. This was certainly a cause for dejection!
However, Jiang Nan also understood that he wasn’t some protagonist in a novel, and wouldn’t be able to learn and utilize the power described within the manual in just a few seconds—if he wanted to improve, then he would have to take it slowly and steadily, going at it step by step.
Jiang Nan stood up and was going to pick up the manual to continue training…
But right at that moment, “Teehee, Rodi, what are you doing~?” (TL: Holy crap that’s creepy.)
Auntie Alisa abruptly charged into the cellar, and she didn’t even use the flat cart she normally used, but rather her two hands to crawl over! (TL: OKAY THIS IS REALLY CREEPY)
But just the strength of these two hands was able to allow Alisa to crawl at such an unbelievable speed. In a blink’s worth of time, she had already rushed before Jiang Nan and grabbed the secret ghost manual!
“Yi? Are you reading a book? Let Auntie see, what kind of book is it~?”
Alisa’s head shook and nodded as she took a look at the manual, mumbling to herself in a deranged manner. Clearly, her mental illness had acted up again.
And Jiang Nan was flabbergasted to the point that he couldn’t say a word. He was startled and afraid, startled that his aunt could actually possess this kind of speed, and afraid that…
He was screwed, following his dissecting cane, Auntie had even seen the course of his training!
How was he to explain this?!
“Aiya, this is a secret ghost manual, a secret ghost manual!”
After looking at it for a few minutes, Alisa abruptly began crying out repeatedly and shouting in panic, “Rodi, didn’t Auntie tell you? You absolutely must not have any kind of relationship with ghost totems! Once you establish a relationship with ghost totems… Wuwu, for a crippled person like Auntie, it doesn’t matter that I am implicated with you and die, but you, you can’t die!” Alisa sobbed and wailed madly: “By training with the secret ghost manual, you’ll die, you’ll die an incredibly miserable death!”
“Moreover…” Alisa seemed as though she was furious, “Who gave you this rotten old thing? Was it that freak who had a hanging eyeball?! That damned freak, what is he giving you this detestable thing for?! Rodi, you need to become a glorious and world-shattering totem master! That freak with the hanging eyeball is protecting you in the darkness, but! He gave you! This detestable object! It absolutely… doesn’t measure up to you!
If you want to cultivate, then you must have the best!” At that, Alisa suddenly grabbed a handful of half-congealed pig blood and carelessly smeared it all over the pages of the manual, “This kind of detestable thing can only hold you back! Auntie must destroy it, must destroy it!”
“Auntie, what are you doing?!”
Jiang had finally regained his senses, but while he was in a dazed stupor, he didn’t hear even one bit of the phrases like ‘protecting you in the darkness’, ‘detestable thing’, ‘if you want to cultivate, then you must have the best’! (TL: ah so annoyingggg come on Jiang Nan get it together)
Jiang Nan hastily attempted to snatch the manual back.
But Alisa’s grip was as though she’d never relinquish it even in death, continuing to obliterate it!
Fairly speaking, based on Jiang Nan’s strength, he only needed to push aside Alisa to snatch back the manual, but… doing something like that would definitely hurt Auntie Alisa!
Could Jiang Nan bear to hurt Alisa? This woman was the aunt who had given him a second chance at life!
Looking on helplessly, Jiang Nan could only watch as that manual had been smothered into a filthy mess of a bloody red color…
The opportunity to become an expert as well as the anticipation towards regaining his freedom and dignity… was totally destroyed!
Jiang Nan shut his eyes, already unable to bear to watch anymore.
“Teehee, it’s better like this, better like this! Rodi, that detestable object is no more, and only the best of it has been left behind. Auntie’s going to go back and rest~!
Remember, if that freak with the hanging eyeball appears, you don’t need to mind him. Hmph, he isn’t worthy of instructing my Rodi!”
Alisa’s monstrous face was brimming with satisfaction as she smiled and let out an odd, gurgling laugh, then she crawled out.
Jiang Nan didn’t pay any attention to what his aunt had said though, and simply followed behind Alisa numbly as though he had lost all awareness, wanting to leave the cellar.
However, that secret manual couldn’t be left inside the cellar, and had to be taken out to be destroyed. Therefore, before he left the cellar, Jiang Nan who had been scared out of his wits bent down and picked it up.
But right at this moment, Jiang Nan carelessly swept a glance over it and went blank, then made a fist in pleasant surprise, “Calm down, calm down, alright, it’s still not hopeless! I still haven’t sunk into despair!”
Although the manual had already been smothered into a big mess, it wasn’t known whether Alisa had let him off leniently or if it was just coincidence, but there were still many sentences preserved within the manual.
Furthermore, the manual had been written with scarlet red ink. Once it had been smeared with pig blood, the characters had grown extremely blurry. It was so messed up to the point that the scratches of Alisa’s fingernails had caused the common language of the Yuanzhi Continent within the manual to become similar to that of complete and traditional characters from the Chinese language. As a result, the original words had yet another layer of meaning to them.
For example, for the introduction of ‘Dark Steps’, the original text had been this, “The first secret, Dark Steps, is to circulate the necromantic energy within your body into the flesh of your two legs, thus displaying demonic speed…”
And after it had been changed, the sentences had transformed into this: “The first secret, Dark Steps. Concentrate the necromantic energy at the area between your eyebrows, and then diffuse it to spread it to your shoulders. Let it sink down, and allow your shoulders to become the focal point to guide the energy’s circulation pace instantly…”
“Diffuse the necromantic energy to spread it to the shoulders?”
Looking at these completely altered words, Jiang Nan subconsciously gave it a try.
Suddenly, Jiang Nan felt as though a gale scraped past his ear, and after composing himself, he had already shifted forward five or six meters worth of distance in a flash!
Through Alisa’s adjustments, the Dark Steps which he had just practiced before for around four to five hours without much success had unexpectedly… succeeded in just one second!!!