Over the course of the next week, An Fei was forced to admit a few reluctant truths. The young girl found it repugnant to think about it, but she ultimately gave in after a week of silent torment.
The first was that Gentleman Wen Jiu was more useful than she wanted him to be.
In the foreign city of Goeun and the empire of Bei Tang in general, the handsome man from the Hundred Clan Coalition’s Wen Family excelled at virtually every secular matter thrown in his path.
His stores of knowledge as well as his capability of managing human affairs left An Fei continually astounded, compared to the lackadaisical appearance she had spotted beforehand.
Finding a good source of lodging while narrowing the price to an “acceptable margin”, as well as securing a map of the interior alleyways of the massive city, not to mention upholding a positive, saintly image of a pair of Great Yan citizens to the Bei Tang public within a short period of four days…
He knew everything!
On the other hand, An Fei knew nothing, not even the common language of Bei Tang. As such, the young girl found her control over daily affairs slipping by the moment, forced to reside within the inn each passing day.
…she also was clueless regarding the relationship Wen Jiu had craftily painted to the locals. By the time she was aware of such a predicament, the young girl’s situation had become too precarious to care about such a trivial issue.
“Forget about that, to think that I won’t be able to return home…”
Within a plainly decorated yet clean room, An Fei sat on the edge of the bed with her head braced against both of her palms, her elbows resting against her knees as she whispered to herself. The snow-white fox coiled its large and fluffy tail around the young girl’s legs, but failed to uplift her downed mood.
The second truth had been revealed just a day earlier, after Wen Jiu had spent an evening at a local bar to ask around. When she had heard the words from the man’s lips, An Fei had fallen into a brief phase of shock.
“Two hundred thousand kilometers is the direct route across land to the nearest transference array, disregarding all borders and landmarks?”
Certainly, the Shattered Star Continent was far too large. Just from the estimated stretch of landmass alone, An Fei surmised that it spanned the entire surface area of the modern Earth in her previous life.
…it was only just that though the land was so large and stretched so far, the technology of the humans could not cope in any regard.
Carriages could be enhanced to reduce weight and increase stability and durability to improve its performance, but carriages could not cover extraordinarily large distances such as hundreds of thousands of kilometers. Even if the horses responsible for driving the craft could pull at the speed of sound, such a concept was unrealistic.
After all, there wasn’t a spiritual breed of horses that could travel at the speed of sound, nor was there a practitioner who had sufficient attainments in their cultivation to craft a compatible carriage.
However swift a flying sword could be, it was also impossible to demand the cultivators to travel such arduous distances with their meager sources of spiritual essence. As such, the only means of “international” travel known to the inhabitants of the Shattered Star Continent, was the existence known as the transference array.
“The only method of travelling that I can take to get home is a wind tunnel, and to find this primitive wind tunnel, I have to travel a distance that would probably require a wind tunnel in the first place…” the young girl rolled her eyes in exasperation.
“This world is far too much… is there really nothing in the Sanctum that I can use?”
Over the course of the past week, An Fei was certainly not unproductive as she wished she could be. By briefly skimming over the extensive records in the Archives of Time regarding mortal civilizations as well as asking Wen Jiu seemingly inconsequential questions, the young girl had stuffed a wide range of information into her mind.
Transference arrays… were no different from the medieval European catapults.
Conceptually so, the array essentially defined the people and objects within its inscribed radius as a projectile. When the array was triggered, a protective membrane was instilled over those standing within the periphery, and the projectiles were hurled in a parabolic arc towards the destination – usually another transference array.
There wasn’t any superlative technology or wonders of spiritual mystique that could open up wormholes in space and tear apart spatial dimensions to directly transfer the people from one spot to another. The transference array, fulfilling its name, was literally a catapult that hurtled objects towards another location.
As for how they could travel from Tianfeng City below Jiang’an to the Chunwoo Battlegrounds in the western regions of Bei Tang… the transference array simply applied a greater velocity to her and Wen Jiu, as well as strengthening the protective membrane by an equal proportion to reduce any incurred damage.
Primitive, but primitively effective.
An Fei sighed and fell back onto the bed, her arms splayed as to gently stretch her body. The young girl stared at the criss-crossing wooden planks of the ceiling for a few breaths, her right hand eventually latching onto a soft yet hard object.
Her left hand similarly grasped the hardened edge of a book’s spine, though it was of a shorter width.
“I have nothing else to do for the time being… is that it?”
Her exposed toes mingling in the comfortable and warm wrapping of soft fur, An Fei gingerly brought herself into a seated position, glancing onto the two books grasped in her hands.
The young girl sat with her back illuminated by the lingering breaths of dawn, her eyes drawn into the stitched words on the covers.
“<Hemorrhage> and <Calligraphy>…”
The two tomes were selected from a few that the young girl had aimlessly selected from the extensive assortment of books stored within the seventeenth archive. Upon a moment’s interest, An Fei had brought them out of the Sanctum while she remained cooped up in the inn.
The first martial arts technique appeared to be related to the act of stabbing a person in their vital regions, to draw forth the greatest loss of blood and pain. Whenever she read the embolden words stamped onto the olive-colored leather cover, An Fei had the perception of pain prickling across her eyes.
The book was pried open, and as the pristine, snow-white pages splayed wide before her eyes, An Fei lost herself to the passing time.
“Strike the limbs, and limbs will fall. Strike the heart, and two will replace one,” the young girl slowly read as she eased the pain in her eyes.
“To strike at ambiguous ends will result in needless repetition. The conclusion of irresolute conflict may only cease through complete bloodletting…”
This didn’t seem to be fitting of the words of a martial arts technique?
An Fei instinctively frowned at the unusual, poetic arrangement of the words on the first page of <Hemorrhage>. The young girl surmised that she had translated the abstruse symbols incorrectly, but ultimately discovered that regardless of her successive attempts to decipher the text, the words displayed before her failed to change in the slightest.
“…a philosophical text? A guide for waging a political war on foes?”
An Fei moved onto the next paragraph of words, only to discover numerous murals of tiny symbols no bigger than her fingertip. The characters of the divine language that agonized her so much suddenly reduced into size, and the created pattern seemed to resemble black and white paintings of ink.
She saw dragons swimming through the boundless skies, and incorporeal phoenixes razing the earth with unholy fire. The young girl could spot fish swimming in waters of both hot and cold, the scales glimmering in the depths of the night.
She saw something within the blurred mess of words pixelated into murals, yet when An Fei dared to blink and observe again, all she saw was nothing both rows and columns of finely written text.
The book was slammed shut, but the murals of words failed to vanish. Regardless of the pages she turned to, everything she found followed the format of indecipherable pictures formed by words.
“I give up!”
An Fei tossed the book onto the far ends of the bed, dragging her exhausted mind towards the unopened tome besides her body. As the young girl touched the leather cover, she made a fervent prayer in her heart.
The title of the book was <Calligraphy>… please don’t be anything of the likes of Great Scholar Tie’s handwriting –
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