Her eyes remained wide awake, not daring to close after having received such a great scare. Even after several breaths had passed, she could still vividly remember the scene without having to exert much effort.
Instead of a grainy darkness one commonly observed, she saw a detailed diagram of her body.
Every layer of skin, muscle, meridian, the inner composition of her body was displayed directly before the girl.
What made the image more unnerving and unbearable to watch was a thin golden stream worming its way through her Heart Meridian as well as the major blood vessels in her body.
The thread of gold slowly entered through the Heart Meridian at the Jiquan acupuncture point, before extending down the length of the girl’s arm.
Her eyes closed shut, An Fei soon became aware that each incremental movement of the golden thread was accompanied by a wave of numbness and the odd sensation of warmth and discomfort.
She didn’t know what it meant for the thread of gold to worm throughout her meridians or bloodstream, and could only watch with apprehension.
Time seemed to have crawled to a standstill, and An Fei could only observe her meridians and bloodstream gradually release a pale golden light.
The light seemed similar to the radiance emitted objects containing spiritual essence, which gradually allayed the girl’s trepidation after several hours of quiet introspection.
However, she was unnerved by the fact that the ownership of her body still had not returned after so long.
The deafening pounding of her heart had quieted to a gentle pulse tickling the base of her ear.
Much to her dismay, the unusual sensation did not lessen by the slightest, continuing to torment her body by the passing minute.
If An Fei could open her eyes, she would have noticed that accompanying each movement of the golden thread, was the dispelling of a silver mist.
The dense mist appeared rather tangible, and the shimmering particles of silver light struggled to return to the girl’s body like an agitated wraith.
The golden radiance emitted from the crystalline floor forced the silver mist to remain separated from An Fei’s body, the Sanctum beginning to vibrate as a terrifying accumulation of spiritual essence began to awake. The cloud of silver light reared back in fear in an agitated frenzy, forsaking the fleshly host as it attempted to flee.
The instant the silver mist left the confines of the bed, a formless energy completely eradicated the dense cloud of light, not leaving a single trace behind.
Moreover, with each wisp of silver light exuded from the girl’s body, the mass of spiritual essence surged to eliminate.
After an indeterminate amount of time, the girl watched the golden thread dissipate within her bloodstream, releasing a relieved sigh as she realized that the torturous numbness had stopped.
As she sunk into darkness, the last An Fei saw was that her Heart Meridian and major blood vessels were now pulsing with a pale golden light, albeit quite fragile and delicate in appearance…
The girl crawled out of the bed, nearly falling onto the ground from the fatigue gnawing at her body.
With dark rings circling her eyes and her countenance haggard and dim, An Fei stumbled towards the bathroom located on the adjacent wall.
Pushing open the door and climbing into the cozy bathtub without even bothering to strip the green dress hanging onto her body, the girl slid down the wall of the large tub until her body underneath the chin was submerged.
Leaning her head back in comfort as the hot water eased the knots in her muscles, An Fei released a long, heartfelt sigh.
Contrary to expectation, she had experienced a miserable night.
The aftereffects of the golden thread traversing through her body and the erratic, unnatural pulsing of searing heat within had displayed themselves in the middle of her sleep, forcing the girl awake each time the symptoms manifested.
Not only that, her muscles had started to twitch uncontrollably from the sudden, unexpected unbalancing of vitality stored within the body, triggering a nightmare that seemed to have lasted for eons.
Tossing and turning and waking at inopportune intervals, the girl had been unable to obtain a wink of sleep. Her fatigue was evident, that she didn’t even realize that she had dozed off until her head splashed into the water.
Shaking herself awake and hastily washing herself, the girl randomly picked a white, cotton nightgown before heading towards the medicine garden. As she left the boudoir, An Fei didn’t forget to pick up a small object.
Clenched within her left hand as she strode towards the armory with faltering steps was a small handheld mirror, similar to the larger artefact resting at the bedside table. An Fei had discovered it laying in one of the drawers of the dresser, and had not hesitated to pick it up.
As per her suspicions, the beveled edge of the mirror was indeed releasing a faint maroon glow. Furthermore, the reflective surface of the mirror was a pitch black, only capable of absorbing light and not reflecting it back.
Shoving the door open and placing the mirror and the <Eternal Sanctum> onto the crystalline floor, An Fei walked into the armory contained in the first gateway of the Sanctum.
Her surroundings illuminated by the golden radiance emitted from the sky-blue crystal contacting her body, the girl avoided the rows of armor and weaponry as she headed directly towards the farthest corner.
Just like the day(?) before, An Fei was searching for additional cooking utensils. The wok had similarly been obtained from the armory, and the girl was curious as to why the objects contained in the armory lacked the glow of spiritual essence.
At the farthest corner of the armory, the girl spotted a rack supporting numerous pots and pans, a tray housing razor-sharp knives of various sizes and blades, and other tools utilized in cooking.
Ultimately, after pondering for a few moments, An Fei staggered out of the armory with the <Eternal Sanctum>, a small handheld mirror, a bowl and ladle, and a pair of chopsticks as extra baggage.
She had to admit, her appearance when devouring the food last night was considerably barbaric.
The first time, she could shamelessly ignore her conscience and focus on the food, but such an act became increasingly difficult with each passing meal.
Moreoever, her fingers didn’t enjoy the torment of directly touching hot food, especially when it had been taken out of the wok just moments prior.
Thus, she had set out to search for a pair of chopsticks and a ladle. The bowl was selected after a moment’s hesitation, as the girl was unsure whether she truly needed a second bowl when she ate.
“…another meal… I’ll just go for the string beans again,” the girl lamented to herself as she stared at the blinding sea of lights.
“If only there were a recipe for meat within the book, ah.”
Setting her newly acquired tools down next to the wok, An Fei settled herself into a comfortable position, before placing the <Eternal Sanctum> onto her lap.
No longer than a few minutes, the soft mumbling of a girl could be heard within the medicine garden.
“Absorbing spiritual essence within the Sanctum is facilitated by deep breathing and meditation, the practice of martial arts or supplementary cultivation techniques, direct consumption of items possessing spiritual essence, and a various assortment of activities including forging, calligraphy, painting, practicing alchemy, and the perusal of the Archives of Time.”
“Until the succession of Divine Ascension regarding mortal cultivation, the spiritual essence of the Sanctum does not encounter bottlenecks or periods of momentary stagnation or decay. Realms within mortal cultivation are attained and interchanged by a successful accumulation of spiritual essence within the fleshly body.” The girl read, her eyes reflecting puzzlement.
“Though the Sanctum is a source of spiritual essence not attributed with the aftereffects of mortal spiritual essence, the practitioner must enact the initiative to refine… the fleshly body with absorbed… spiritual essence to expand the soul’s reserves. The subsequent pillars of the mortal cultivation… Body Tempering Realm are as follows: Blood, Meridian, Marrow, Muscle, and Flesh.”
The moment she finished reading the page, an adorable growl could be heard within the tranquil medicine garden, causing An Fei’s countenance to flush with embarrassment.
No longer daring to suppress her hunger any further, the girl immediately slung the leather bag over her shoulder before striding into the sea of plants and medicinal herbs.
She was a woman of priorities, or so she declared; compared to learning more regarding the mysterious and terrifying phenomena that occurred last night, enjoying a fulfilling breakfast was more important as of the moment.