“The Datura Snake doesn’t have many natural enemies because its innate poisonous ability is too powerful. Before a thousand years of cultivation, their body has a jade green color. They grow a meter every one hundred years. By the time they are a thousand years old, their length can reach ten meters. After a thousand years, their body’s power will concentrate and they will continuously molt. Their color will change from a jade green to pink and their body will shrink back to a single meter again, before growing a meter every one hundred years again. After a thousand years, it will shrink once more and its pink color will deepen. Looking at this Datura Snake’s color and length, it already had a thousand and three hundred years of cultivation. Without your help, killing it would have cost me greatly.”
Of course, Beibei didn’t say that without Huo Yuhao, killing this snake in combination with Tang Ya wouldn’t have been too difficult anyway. Or else they wouldn’t have dared to enter Star Dou Forest.
Listening to Beibei’s explanation, Huo Yuhao’s knowledge grew once more, “So this Datura Snake is pretty magical. Would it have transformed if it reached ten thousand years of cultivation?”
Beibei nodded. “A ten thousand year Datura Snake would have become yellow, but that would be too scary. Even a fiftieth rank Spirit King wouldn’t dare provoke a ten thousand year Datura Snake. You would need to be at least a sixtieth rank Spirit Emperor to have a chance of winning.”
“Little Brother, while Tang Ya is absorbing the spirit ring, tell me a bit about your spirit ability. What is the name of the spirit ability you just used and how long can it last? This is very important.”
Huo Yuhao had just been reminded by the Daydream Iceworm that he cannot reveal the truth. After considering for a bit, he responded, “Big Brother, the ability I had just used is called Mental Distribution and Sharing. You had already experienced the area it covers. It works around a diameter of thirty meters. After my Spirit Power increases, the range would grow even bigger. I’m not sure how long I can use it for. I feel like this spirit skill doesn’t use too much Spirit Power.”
“That can’t be…” Beibei looked at him with a stunned look. “Such a powerful ability and your Spirit Power usage is not too much? Your Spirit Eye is too powerful. And your first spirit is only a ten year wind baboon. I can’t understand how this is possible. In ten thousand years of Spirit Master research I have read, never have I seen a situation like yours. It really is hard to imagine.”
Huo Yuhao lowered his head. “I don’t understand how it could be like this either.”
After a momentary thought, Beibei laughed, “Little Brother, don’t think too much. A powerful spirit ability is a good thing. With this spirit ability as foundation, any Spirit Master would want to partner with you in the future. However, Little Brother, you are a mental attribute Spirit Master. Do you want to go toward a support or control path?”
Huo Yuhao blanked out. “I don’t know.”
Bebei said, “Choosing a path for cultivation is very important. This will affect your choice of future spirit abilities and the direction of your cultivation. Your mental attribute spirit only has a single spirit ring but already shows a great potential. If you go pure support, I think it would be a waste. Even though I don’t know what kind of spirit abilities you will obtain in the future, I still lean towards you becoming a control style Spirit Master. Spend more effort in mental control. If everything goes smoothly, you could become a team’s core.”
“A team? Does a Spirit Master need a team?” Huo Yuhao with curiosity. Since young, he had always relied on himself for cultivation. Everything depended on his own experiences. No one had ever taught him anything. Now that he joined the Tang Clan, the elder brother in front of him is more important than an ordinary teacher. In this short while, he had already been taught so much.
Beibei explained patiently, “The method of using a team was fully developed ten thousand years ago with the foundation of Tang Clan. At that time, Tang San and his companions were called Shrek’s Seven Devils. All seven of them had powerful abilities. Together, their abilities multiplied and resulted in an explosive combat ability. From that time on, Spirit Masters would form teams as part of our development. After all, a single person’s power is very weak. For example, you had just cooperated with me before and made the battle much easier for me. Tang Ya and I also have a way to cooperate. Comparatively, a single Spirit Master team usually doesn’t have more than ten people. In a team, there are Spirit Masters responsible for defense, attack, and control types. These three types are most useful in a team. There are also support types such as food Spirit Masters, agility attackers and so on. They all have different uses in a team.”
Huo Yuhao said suddenly, “That means you are an attacker type Spirit Master?”
Beibei smiled and nodded. “My Battle Spirit is the Blue Lighting Tyrant Dragon which is powerful among Beast Spirits. It excels at attacking. Xiao Ya’s Battle Spirit is the Blue Silver Grass, making her the the same as our ancestor, a control type Spirit Master. But her control abilities mainly show on the Blue Silver Grass. If you can also become a control type Spirit Master, with the power of your Spirit Eye, you can match well with Xiao Ya’s Blue Silver Grass. Under dual control, we might not even need a support type Spirit Master to form a powerful team.”
Huo Yuhao nodded seriously, “Elder Brother, I will listen to you. I will spend my efforts toward being a control type Battle Spirit Master. But, my potential is not very good and I cultivate very slowly…” Speaking to this point, he couldn’t help but lower his head. No matter if it’s Beibei or Tang Ya, both are impossible for him to compare to, when he had only obtained his first spirit ring at eleven years of age.
Beibei rubbed Huo Yuhao’s head and smiled. “Potential is only a part of success. You didn’t have anyone to help you cultivate in the past and you didn’t have the right method for cultivation. To be here today with your own efforts is already commendable. Plus, your Battle Spirit is very good. It’s growth will be just as great. So, you don’t need to pity yourself. With this time, you might as well cultivate more. As long as you can reach the thirtieth rank of Spirit Power before age twenty, you will have the potential to become a powerful Spirit Master. Both Xiao Ya and I will help you.”
“Thank you, Big Brother.” Huo Yuhao was very moved.
Beibei warmly patted his shoulder. “Meeting you may have been our fortune. We easily solved her advancement problem. After she finishes absorbing the spirit ring, we will return to the academy. This place is not suitable for cultivation. You can review what I told you about cultivating with the Mysterious Heaven Skill. When we return to a safe place, we can start cultivating.”
“Yes.” Huo Yuhao answered respectfully. In his heart, he had accepted Beibei as more of a teacher than Tang Ya.
“Oh yeah, Little Brother. Didn’t you say you don’t know how long your ability can last? Why don’t we first test it once? This is important for our cooperation in future battles. It will also allow you to gain a better understanding of your ability and get more used to using it.”
With Beibei’s suggestion, Huo Yuhao released his Mental Detection and Sharing ability once again. Pale golden light shined from his eyes and a three dimensional image of an area thirty meters in diameter appeared in his and Beibei’s minds.
Mental Detection is flawless. Even the smallest change can be clearly discerned. While Huo Yuhao was experiencing the profound capabilities of these two skills, Beibei also felt the benefit of an increase in his mental power.
The more he experienced, the more Beibei felt shocked. This Mental Detection and Sharing doesn’t only help with detection, it was as if he had another brain to help him think. The area within thirty meters in diameter can be said to be shown with absolute clarity without any hidden corners. A skill like this is like having numerous eyes carefully observing an area from every angle!
What surprised him more is what came after. While executing his spirit ability, Huo Yuhao looked very relaxed as if he had not lost any strength. Under the effects of the Mental Detection and Sharing ability, they could even feel the tiny changes within Tang Ya’s body during the fusion with the spirit ring.
Tang Ya’s form seemed to have become more slender. Her aura also became stronger at an alarming speed. Even her skin became more radiant and her blood flow more vigorous.
In the blink of an eye, a quarter of an hour had passed. The only change was Huo Yuhao’s face had become a little paler.
Beibei secretly sighed. With this duration for Mental Detection and Sharing, it would be enough for an entire battle. Furthermore, Xiao Yuhao’s Mental Detection and Sharing ability is not only useful for the battlefield. For example, it can be used on a dangerous road or when searching for Spirit Beasts. It is a useful ability, no matter the circumstance. If it is true that the area of the ability can increase as his cultivation increases, then this is really a magical ability.
Finally, after maintaining the ability for nearly half an hour, Huo Yuhao couldn’t hold it any longer. His body shivered and he ended the Mental Detection and Sharing. He felt waves of sharp pain in his brain and a strong dizziness that almost made him fall. Quickly sitting down, he began meditating to restore the spirit and mental powers he had expended.
This was Huo Yuhao’s first time experiencing the pain of mental overdraft. The feeling that his mind was completely blank was not very pleasant.
Beibei quietly observed him. When Beibei saw that Huo Yuhao didn’t collapse after exhausting his energy, but sat to meditate, his face showed a slight smile and silently nodded. Without a doubt, this little brother had gained his heart.
The time needed to absorb a thousand-year spirit ring is not short, so Beibei spread some herbs that can keep Spirit Beasts away around their area. The few ten and hundred-year Spirit Beasts that appeared during this time were all chased away by him. Fortunately, he didn’t meet any more thousand-year Spirit Beasts.
“Wu…” Releasing a long breath, Tang Ya slowly opened her eyes filled with energy. Her entire body seemed to have become more vigorous.
In Spirit Master cultivation, the thirtieth rank is an important threshold. Only when crossing over this threshold can one become a truly powerful Spirit Master with limitless possibilities. Many Spirit Masters without potential will never be able to pass the rank thirty bottleneck in their lifetime.
“Success!” Tang Ya jumped up from the ground with excitement. With activation of her Spirit Power, two yellow, one purple, a total of three spirit rings rose from under her feet. The most eye-catching was of course the thousand-year purple spirit ring. Its bright purple released an aura of nobility. From this moment on, Tang Ya’s power has entered a new level.
Beibei smiled. “Congratulations, Xiao Ya.”
Tang Ya cheered and abruptly threw herself onto him to give him a big, big hug. “Beibei, thank you.”
Beibei held onto her delicate body with a loving smile, “I promised to help you realize your dreams, and I will definitely fulfill it.”
Tang Ya leaned into Beibei’s embrace but unintentionally saw a pair of large eyes staring at her with surprise. Suddenly remembering there was another person present, she quickly fled from Beibei’s embrace. With some embarrassment, she said to Huo Yuhao with his shining spirit eyes, “What are you looking at? Haven’t you seen a student-teacher romance?”
Huo Yuhao answered honestly, “I have never seen it before!” When he saw Beibei and Tang Ya in their embrace, he had felt envious but not even a bit of jealous. The elder brother and Teacher Xiao Ya; very matching.
Beibei coughed, “Good. Since you finished absorbing your spirit ring, we should leave here quickly. In recent years, there have been more and more accidents happening to Spirit Masters who entered Star Dou Forest. Even the outer regions have many thousand-year Spirit Beasts. It’s better to leave early.”
Tang Ya nodded and said, “Let’s go.”
At this time, the night sky had darkened. But staying the night in Star Dou Forest was obviously not a good idea. The three of them couldn’t afford to care about their tiredness and sped out of the forest.
After recovering some mental power, Huo Yuhao used his Mental Detection and Sharing ability once again; giving them a layer of protection as they were leaving the forest. They even managed to avoid a docile thousand-year Spirit Beast.
An hour later, after a hurried journey, they had finally reached the stream where they ate the roasted fish. This location was around ten kilometers away from the forest. They were far from danger now.
Huo Yuhao once again became a servant under Tang Ya’s eager demand to roast more fish. At least this time he wouldn’t have to catch them himself.
Beibei just stuck his right hand into the stream. A blue-purple colored lightning flashed through and more than ten fish floated up. Then he used his Controlling Crane Capturing Dragon skill to draw them to the water’s edge. They immediately got food.
Tang Ya also took some food out of her spirit guide device. The three of them sat together enjoying a bountiful dinner.
Tang Ya was in high spirits so she ate a bit too much. After she finished eating, she directly fell asleep against a big tree next to the bonfire. Huo Yuhao, who had gained much more, did not fall asleep. Resisting both body and mental fatigue, he asked Beibei to help him begin his first Mysterious Heaven Skill cultivation.
Beibei admired Huo Yuhao’s diligence. After taking off his outerwear and covering Tang Ya, he began telling Huo Yuhao once more about the important points in cultivating the Mysterious Heaven Skill and helped him start his meditation.
The way to cultivate the Mysterious Heaven Skill is much more complex than the basic meditation skill that Huo Yuhao had been using. There are at least ten times more vessels involved and many of them had never been used by Huo Yuhao before.
To ensure Huo Yuhao’s safety while he was cultivating, Beibei sat crossed-legged behind him. With both hands pressing against the middle of his back, Beibei slowly infused his own Spirit Power into Huo Yuhao’s body, guiding his Spirit Power to carry out its first circulation for cultivation.
Starting the cultivation guidance, Beibei already had a grave expression. Huo Yuhao is smart and understanding, but his body’s innate potential is really lacking. After infusing his Spirit Power into Huo Yuhao, Beibei found that his vessels are very narrow and very thin. He couldn’t even use a greater power to make it flow better. There are also disordered areas where vessels meet.
From this Beibei finally realized that it must have been extremely difficult for Huo Yuhao to have cultivated to this extent and obtain the first spirit ring. After receiving the first spirit ring, even though his body improved, his meridians were still very weak. One can see how bad his innate potential is. It might even be worse than people who have no Spirit Power. Just imagine how much perseverance was needed to reach the tenth rank and become a Spirit Master under these circumstances.
Beibei has a very calm personality. After noticing Huo Yuhao’s problem, he didn’t become disappointed, but, rather, showed more admiration. With such a firm determination at such a young age, Huo Yuhao might still have a successful future even if he lacks some natural talent.
By examining Huo Yuhao’s body, Beibei guessed that the great strength of Huo Yuhao’s Spirit Eye is due to spirit mutation. Even though a mutated spirit can be very strong, it can also cause a great amount of damage to a person’s body during development. Without proper care, his innate potential suffered. If he had received the right medical treatment after birth, maybe this little brother would be more of a prodigy in his generation.
Beibei’s guess was only half right. Huo Yuhao’s weak body is indeed caused by spirit mutation and a lack of care thereafter. However, the great strength of Spirit Eye’s spirit ability is due to the million-year spirit ring from the Daydream Iceworm.
As the dark sky gradually turned to blue, the light of dawn peaked through from the far east. Beibei slowly withdrew both of his palms and released a deep breath. On his rather pale face, the weariness was hard to conceal.
He had used the whole night to help Huo Yuhao unblock his body’s meridians and guide him to complete his first Mysterious Heaven Skill circulation. The process was extremely difficult, but also provided Huo Yuhao with enormous benefits.
“Wa*–”Huo Yuhao opened his eyes after he spit out a mouthful of extravasated blood.
At this point, Huo Yuhao felt that his entire body’s thirty-six thousand pores have opened. A relaxed sensation he had never felt before traveled through his whole body. That mouthful of extravasated blood contained the impurities from his meridians. After an entire night of dredging, those meridians finally opened. Although they are still very thin and weak, at least now Spirit Power can circulate and help Huo Yuhao in future cultivations. This act can be said to have improved Huo Yuhao’s body’s state to a certain point.
Although Beibei was an outstanding figure among peers and also a strong Spirit Elder; after finishing Huo Yuhao’s dredging, he was still exhausted.
“Little Brother, stand up and look east. Follow me and focus both of your eyes.” Beibei resisted his exhaustion and pressed both of his hands on Huo Yuhao’s shoulders.
At this time, Tang Ya woke up from her sound sleep. She jumped up and came to Beibei’s side.
The three of them gazed into the east with wide, opened eyes as a trace of faint purple shined across the the gradually brightening dawn in the distant horizon. If it were not for exceptional eyesight and focus, it would be impossible to notice the purple haze’s existence.
As the purple haze appeared, the three of them gave it their complete focus. Even their breathing softened as they stared closely at the translucent purple light.
The purple haze didn’t last very long. As the light began to shine through the east, it had already completely disappeared.
It was only then that they closed their eyes and exhaled all the impurities from their bodies.
Beibei and Tang Ya both exhaled out a puff of white breath. After a couple of times, the whiteness finally went away.
Although Huo Yuhao’s cultivation is not even close to Teacher Xiao Ya’s and the Elder Brother’s, he was greatly shocked.
When he had seen the hint of purple in the far east, he felt a strong warmth entering through his Spirit Eyes to his brain. His eyes received an unprecedented nourishment. He doesn’t even need to input any spirit energy, and yet, everything could be seen clearly; even his perspective expanded.
As he closed his eyes, the warmth from the purple haze slowly seeped into his eyes. Naturally, his Spirit Eyes guided his Spirit Power to combine with the newly gained energy from the purple haze. The original warmth gradually turned cool and provided him with an indescribable comfort.
Purple Demon Eye, this is what Teacher Xiao Ya had said. It really is the most suitable ability for me. Even though this was only the first time cultivating, it had already given him such an amazing effect. Huo Yuhao felt that even months of cultivation cannot match the effect that he had just felt from the purple haze.
Fifteen minutes later, the coolness gradually wore off. When Huo Yuhao opened his eyes, there was already a trace of purple in his deep blue eyes.
“Looks like the results are fairly good!” Tang Ya looked at Huo Yuhao with satisfaction.
Huo Yuhao hurriedly stood up and said politely, “Thank you, Teacher. Thank you, Elder Brother.”
The purple gradually disappeared from Beibei’s eyes and his face still looked exhausted. He patted Huo Yuhao’s shoulder and said, “From now on, we’re a family. No need to say thanks. I am going to rest a bit. I’m afraid we will have to leave later. Teacher Xiao Ya, why don’t you prepare some food. Little Brother, you should practice the Mysterious Heaven Skill again to reinforce last night’s experience.”
“Okay.” Huo Yuhao respected this elder brother more and more. So, immediately he sat down to practice circulating his Spirit Power using the Mysterious Heaven Skill.
With last night’s experience and Beibei’s unblocking, restarting the circulation was much easier. After the Spirit Power went through the Mysterious Heaven Skill’s refining, it gradually turned to a pale white color. The impurities had also clearly disappeared during the cultivation.
An hour later, Beibei woke up first from his cultivation. His innate powers were originally high so his tiredness easily disappeared.
Tang Ya handed some food to Beibei and quietly asked, “How is it?”
Beibei smiled and responded, “You were right this time. The Little Brother is someone we can shape into something great. His body’s condition is not good, but his understanding is. He is also willing to put in efforts, and has a calm heart. He is a good seedling. Also, the Mysterious Heaven Skill by itself gives health benefits. Practicing it for a long time will help him repair his body’s vessels. It is a suitable skill for him. For future growth, we will have to see his own efforts and luck. What we can do for him is open a door. But how far he can go will depend on himself.”
Tang Ya softly said, “Thank you.”
Beibei chuckled, “What’s with you? You rarely say thanks to me. Could it be because of Little Brother? Don’t tell me I made a love rival.”
Tang Ya snappily gave him a punch. “You know what I’m thanking you for. Don’t pretend to be stupid.”
Beibei easily pulled Tang Ya into his arms. “Xiao Ya, I admit that I originally joined the Tang Clan because I liked you and fell in love with you at first sight. But as I practiced the Tang Clan’s skills, I had discovered the profound nature of the clan. Although the Tang Clan has declined, but if we can use our own powers to make it great again, wouldn’t it be a fun thing to do? So, right now, I am not only trying for your sake but also for the clan itself.”
Tang Ya blinked her large eyes. “Does that mean that even if I don’t like you anymore, you will still strive for the future of the Tang Clan?”
Beibei suddenly changed his expression and was a bit flustered, “Can you act more normal?”
“Hehe.” Tang Ya laughed. “I just like to see you reveal your true colors. Always carrying a sanctimonious look. Aren’t you tired?”
Beibei flicked her forehead, “That is called being civilized. You think everyone is like you? Carrying everything on your face?”
Tang Ya held his hand with a face of grievances, “You’re not allowed to flick my head again. This is an offense to your Teacher. Oh yeah, do you think Xiao Yuaho will be able to survive in the academy?”
Beibei shook his head, “It’s hard to say. It will depend on him. All I can say is that if he can really persist and stay in the academy for twelve full years, his future accomplishments may even be above mine.”
Tang Ya was shocked, “I didn’t think that you would have such a high evaluation for him.”
Beibei smiled, “Little Brother’s variant Battle Spirit is not common. You will understand if I give you an example. There was already a difference between the first time he used his Mental Detection and Sharing and the second. Basically, even though his control of the skill was inadequate, it still managed to give us an extraordinary advantage. Also, if it really is as he says, then this skill can evolve. If every one of his future spirit skills can be at such a level, then he will definitely become one of the best mental control Battle Spirit Masters.”
Tang Ya said, “It’s just his self-protection ability is a little low. At least until he achieves a high enough cultivation.”
Beibei said, “No, you’re wrong. He doesn’t need to protect himself because as long as he has this spirit skill, he will never lack a partner.”
Huo Yuhao’s cultivation time was longer than what Tang Ya and Beibei had imagined. His cultivation this time had lasted until noon. During this time, Beibei checked a few times on Yuhao’s path of the Mysterious Heaven Skill but there was no deviation. It can be said that he had mastered the basics.
After he woke up from cultivation and ate, the three started their journey toward the west once again.
The majority of Star Dou Forest belonged to the Star Dou Empire. Only a small portion was in the Heaven Spirit Empire. Shrek Academy was to the northwest of the forest and not too far away.
The reason Tang Ya and Beibei entered the forest from the south was because there were relatively less powerful Spirit Beasts, so it was safer. But the direction closest to Shrek Academy had the strongest ones.
Because there were often students who go into Star Dou Forest to kill Spirit Beasts, the strong Spirit Beasts were very hateful of them. There were even significant events such as a large number of Spirit Beasts charging out of the forest toward Shrek Academy like a wave.
Due to the danger, Spirit Masters below the rank of Spirit King are not allowed to enter Star Dou Forest from the front. Even Spirit King ranked individuals need a teacher’s lead to go in.
The three of them traveled to Shrek Academy with a moderate speed because they needed to circle around Star Dou Forest. This journey took them over hundreds of kilometers.
On the way, Tang Ya and Beibei passed the Tang Clan’s skills to Huo Yuhao. Within these, Huo Yuhao best understood the Mysterious Heaven Skill. He only learned the very basics of Purple Demon Eye, Controlling Crane Capturing Dragon, Ghost-Shadow Elusive Step and Mysterious Jade Hands.
Huo Yuhao’s diligence deeply shocked Tang Ya and Beibei. Even though he was only eleven years old, he did not forget to practice on the journey. After listening to Beibei explain how one can increase Spirit Power slightly by repeatedly using spirit skills, he would continuously use Spirit Detection and Sharing as long as he could keep it up. When it came to resting, he would immediately start practicing the Mysterious Heaven Skill. When they were moving on the road, he would also use Ghost-Shadow Elusive Steps, Controlling Crane Capturing Dragon and Mysterious Jade Hands along with releasing his spirit skill.
It was because of the extended duration of Huo Yuhao’s meditation time when practicing the Mysterious Heaven Skill that they were delayed in returning to Shrek Academy. But Beibei and Tang Ya didn’t rush him. They were even inspired by him to add even more cultivation time.
“Xiao Ya, with your potential, if you used half of Little Brother’s effort, you would have probably surpassed me.” Beibei said as he watched Huo Yuhao in the midst of focusing on meditation.
Tang Ya puckered her lips. “Do you try hard? Like you can compare to Xiao Yuhao. But, he seems to be hiding something in his heart that is driving him to try so hard. I wonder if it’s good or bad.”
Beibei smiled, “Having a goal is not a bad thing. He is also young. Under our influence, his heart will naturally open up. Right now the most important thing for him is to break through rank thirty before turning twenty.”
At this moment, Huo Yuhao woke up from meditation and a white gas swirled close to his mouth. The instant he opened his eyes, a golden light shone from his clear eyes and his Spirit Eyes appeared to have gained more clarity.
Huo Yuhao’s diligence in cultivation is to achieve success one day; but the most important thing is the new experience from changing to the Mysterious Heaven Skill.
With Beibei and Tang Ya’s help, his constitution had changed for the better. Also the Mysterious Heaven Skill really is a commendable skill. During the four days they were on the road, Huo Yuhao had also practiced the skill for four days. During these four days, his Spirit Power had completely converted to Spirit Power cultivated by the Mysterious Heaven Skill. In this conversion, his body expelled a lot of impurities to become more polished. Every time he finished a round, his entire body would feel warm and gain an unspeakable comfort that is even better than sleeping.
Even though the addition of Spirit Power was not much, after converting to the pure Mysterious Heaven Skill Spirit Power, Huo Yuhao could feel the change in his body’s function and a strengthening in his Spirit Power’s persistence.
Such obvious advancements in his cultivation was a first for him. How could he not put in more effort?
“Little Yuhao, you can’t always be stretched so tight. You should still rest. Otherwise, wouldn’t you turn into a wooden person after a while?” Tang Ya said seriously.
Huo Yuhao nodded, “Yes, Teacher Xiao Ya.”
Tang Ya laughed, “Don’t be so honest and be more clever. No fun. Let’s go. We’re almost at Shrek Academy. I haven’t had time to tell you about the important points of Shrek Academy since you were so immersed in cultivation. Since you’re resting now, relax your brain and listen to me.”