When sundown finally graced its forlorn smile onto the lower regions of the Wu Ji Forest, the undergrowth finally released a collective sigh of relief.
The various animals, be it birds, deer, or a timid rabbit, all sighed as they patted their body to ensure that the vitality bestowed to them remained confined within their own body.
The plantlife, on the other hand, could only reminiscence and hope that they would once again receive a blessing as empowering.
The creatures within the forest bade the sun a temporary farewell with differing sentiment, though it regarded a single event that occurred during the day.
That was, regarding the natural disaster that had swept through the Wu Ji Forest’s undergrowth, reaping lives left to right without any display of mercy.
A natural disaster in the form of a young girl and a steel sword missing its handle.
The lives of both animals and plants had been plundered by the two with swift, sweeping motions, severing the channel of vitality from their bodies without any form of mounted resistance.
The forest could only helplessly watch as numerous animals quickly ventured onto the same fate as the pack of grey wolves – either neatly sliced, or ground to a paste.
…in An Fei’s defense, the various creatures she had encountered throughout the day had aimlessly assaulted her upon the initial encounter.
The young girl had barely managed to open her mouth to inhale, before a storm of claws, fangs, and fierce paws bolstered with unimaginable strength flurried in her direction, seeking to sweep her off her feet.
Following the incident with the grey wolves, An Fei had been constantly assaulted by the creatures of the forest left and right, without pause or respite.
…thus, the young girl had eventually found herself standing in a quagmire of corpses and shredded herbs.
The earth had eagerly swallowed the paved road of blood, leaving behind shriveled husks that remained devoid of their previously flourishing vitality.
Bears, wolves, fierce feline creatures, and even some birds; most of the creatures that spotted An Fei and possessed a decently powerful capability, sought to leap onto the fragile figure, as though she sported a delicious, tantalizing bait that hung from her neck.
Having to fight whilst venturing towards the stream to obtain a quick break, having to fight whilst attempting to assess her surroundings for a suitable host for her shelter, and forced to fight and slaughter when nature had made its call.
The young girl had engorged herself onto a day of slaughter, the twin butterfly swords practically remaining in her hands the entire day.
When the sun finally bade its way towards the horizon, it was not just the animals and herbs that heaved a sigh of relief.
Sundown represented a brief period of rest and relaxation, for the inhabitants of the forest engaged in a conquest towards their respective shelters.
Given how it was also the period in which the fierce creatures that dominated the forest began to stir and awake, the animals did not dare to tarry across the young girl’s path.
An Fei heaved a heavy sigh, swinging her legs back and forth as she perched herself upon a relatively high branch.
Though she was still far from the height that would permit her gaze to pierce through the dense overgrowth of branches and leaves to glance across the exterior of the forest, the young girl was still capable of obtaining a substantial observation of the forest.
The Wu Ji Forest… continued to remain as the surreal and incredible atmosphere as An Fei had discovered at the beginning.
Regardless of how she attempted to comprehend the environment before her, the young girl had to admit the capabilities and mystery of the forest.
Herbal life, animal life, even the marine creatures, the diversity and proliferation of these living existences completely astounded An Fei’s consciousness.
She was well cognizant of the fact that tigers and elk did not reside in similar habitat conditions, but both types of species roamed across the ground of the forest.
If she attended to her surroundings during the morning, the young girl could faintly discern a tiger’s roar crashing through the sea of trees and grass without reservations.
Furthermore, the trees themselves originated from all regions of the world, completing a mottled and incomprehensible mixture of life that appeared completely impossible by logical reasoning.
An Fei shook her head, patting her cheeks with both hands as she balanced herself on the thick branch that supported her body.
The young girl stretched her limbs with a mighty groan, directing a final glance towards the diminishing rays of sunlight with a frightful yawn.
…and with a short verse spoken in an unintelligible, forbidden language that projected in a form akin to divine bells, the delicate figure that had branded a mark of terror onto the inhabitants of the Wu Ji Forest had vanished without a trace.
Not even the shadow remained behind, though the target in question had long since lost said shadow.
“No… redwood would suffice; the material isn’t lacking in strength, nor is it easily corroded nor damaged by moisture…”
A young girl murmured to herself as she sat on a floor of sky-blue crystal, her body illuminated by a soft golden radiance that surged from the ground. In her right hand, danced a dry brush, whilst her left shuffled around several sheets of pristine, soft paper.
Unexpectedly, An Fei was not residing within the seventeenth platform within the Archives of Time, where she had usually confided herself in for the past few months.
Instead, the young girl had found herself roaming a platform several levels above, though she remained parading before a row of books as usual.
If it were not for the archaic number engraved onto the wall just outside of the door that granted passage into the platform, An Fei would have assumed that it were the long-accustomed seventeenth Archive.
The design of the platform and bookshelves, the arrangement of furniture and decoration at the center of the platform, and the multi-colored radiance emitting from the row upon row of books, all were the same.
When she had first stepped onto the twenty-third platform, An Fei’s initial thought was that the Sanctum was playing a prank on her.
…not that it hadn’t already toyed with her emotions by a considerable margin.
The twenty-third platform amongst the Archives of Time, could be described in a single word. The ledger at the base platform described it as such, and the young girl could only agree with wholehearted emotion.
The twenty-third Archive of Time.
Put simply, the archive’s books contained the foundational aspects of manipulating the base materials of any given environment, before extrapolating them as per the user’s intentions.
How to temper materials to ensure increased durability and tactile toughness; how to arrange materials in a specified pattern of construction to achieve a desirable effect or ward off an unforeseen or undesirable consequence; the books that the young girl discovered within the twenty-third platform possessed everything related to the assembly, arrangement, and manipulation of the natural elements of the environment.
Such was the book that was pried open on the ground before An Fei, the large sheets of white, pristine paper with sprawling characters that spelled epochs of innovations and designs that had been developed.
“In a naturally-formed rainforest or environment proliferating with fibrous herbal life, the fundamental aspects of a shelter… must not only accommodate for the regulation of internal temperature, but also the special circumstances of the environment…” the young girl read in a dull tone, her chin propped up with a comfortable pillowcase.
“The rain encountered within a forest endowed with spiritual essence within a mortal realm possesses the natural properties of the world’s assembly of… spiritual essence. Thus, immortal existences, unless dispatching a mortal soul, must ensure to prevent the encounter of any rainfall whilst remaining in such environments…”
An Fei couldn’t help but reveal a devastated pout whilst skimming the passage, her lips soundlessly emitting a curse.
The young girl knocked herself on the forehead, before reaching out towards the grindstone.
“Accumulated groundwater sources or streams disperse the pooled spiritual essence post-rainfall towards the deeper core of the world. Hence, immortal beings must ensure that following a period of rainfall, consumption of liquid obtained from such sources is to be abstained until a period of two weeks has passed…s”
The young girl neatly placed the brush onto the ground besides the disordered stack of paper, before directing a glum stare towards the book splayed on the crystalline surface.
Without warning, An Fei buried her face into the pillowcase nestled against her bosom, a pitiable groan surfacing from her throat.
“I can’t encounter spiritual essence from outside, I can’t eat food infused with spiritual essence originating from outside, and I can’t even be hit by a single raindrop whilst outside… please let me leave this – wu – forest already, ah!”