One hundred thousand pieces of spiritual knowledge encompassed Zax from every direction.
Since he began meditating, twenty two days have passed. Of the one hundred thousand fragments, it took Zax seventeen days to appreciate all the fragments, and in the past five days, he ceaselessly pondered and toiled to create the right combination of the great puzzle.
In the pitch black world of the violet stone, there were now individual pieces of spiritual knowledge, along with twenty seven combinations. The largest combination had three hundred and sixty nine fragments combined. The smallest combination had only the minimum two fragments connecting to each other.
It was much easier for Zax create many combinations than just investing himself on one. The implications were that his soul barely improved its cultivation. To form a largest picture of a sublime whole was the principle of Adraak Meditation, only like that a cultivator could better uncover and perceive the intimate spiritual knowledge from the subliminal mind. When instead of working to enlarge one combination, a cultivator chooses to create many, the cultivation of the soul will cease until combining all separated combinations or creating a new largest.
A simpler manner to explain the two methods… Creating one combination will constantly improve the soul as the combination gets bigger. Creating many combinations and then combining them will improve the soul in one gigantic leap.
Currently, Zax preferred the latter method because his soul was at the Peak phase of the Mist Master level. Inside his sea of consciousness, the juncture that leads to the bottleneck of the Mist Lord level was in plain sight of his mind eye.
To pass the juncture Zax had to improve his comprehensive abilities, and to break through the bottleneck, he had to accumulate enough soul energy.
The twenty second day.
Zax stopped combining fragments, creating more combination of the great puzzle. A certain bright speck of light attracted his attention and did not let go.
The speck of light seemed outlandish in this world of pitch black. Zax detected it accidentally within one of the twenty seven combinations he made, when he looked for individual fragments for creating the twenty eighth combination. He did not know how he could miss the extraordinary speck of light. After looking at it for five and a half hours, the speck of light was clear to him like the brightness of a Sun Stone.
‘That light… did I not see it already?’ After hours of spectating, Zax started to wonder. ‘I did… not see it, but perceived something that felt the same’.
The combination the speck of light appeared on was of three combined fragments. Holding this small combination, Zax looked for more fragments that could fit it.
‘No’. He declared without looking at the individual fragment. ‘No, no, no, no…’ There were many individual fragments, finding one for this three pieces combination was taxing. Moreover, Zax’s gaze did not leave the speck of light and watched it as if afraid that it will disappear if his attention would waver.
‘What are you?’ Despite the arduous work of finding the right fragments, Zax was in a completely serene state of mind. Without even noticing, he stopped searching for fragments and just floated in the pitch black world with the three pieces combination in his hand.
‘Ah… such a wonderful, sweet smell…’ Zax’s inner mind, inside the violet stone, suddenly became ecstatic. A fragrance Zax never smelled before in his life assaulted his mine and gradually took over, surpassing all his other senses. ‘Nice, it’s so nice, Ahmm…’
Inside the pitch black world Zax stopped seeing hearing, feeling, and if there was something to eat inside of it, that tasting, as well. All that was left were his sense of smell and enticed awareness of the inner mind.
Without realizing, Zax pressed himself against the three pieces combination. The intoxicating fragrance was oozing from the speck of light and inhaled into Zax’s soul.
Inside Zax’s sea of consciousness, the dark attribute that was merged with Zax’s soul, released a black radiance. Zax’s blurred soul trembled. It was being refined by the fragrance of the speck of light and the radiance of the dark attribute simultaneously.
‘Here it is!’ Zax was absent minded with regards to refinement process of the speck of light’s fragrance. What he did sense, was the unexpected of activity of the dark attribute. ‘Inside this radiance there is something exactly the same as the speck of light’. Zax rediscovered what made him feel familiar with the peck of light.
‘But to what is the dark attribute reaction? It is actually doing something to my soul. My soul becomes less hazy, as if it has a shape behind all obscurity!’ It was a moment of unprecedented novelty for Zax, the sensation of a forthcoming new birth.
A huge explosion erupted for Zax’s soul. The juncture and bottleneck to the Mist Lord level were completely eradicated. The refinement process of the black radiance’s and the fragrance of the speck of light’s refinement was finished. The fragrance had been integrated with Zax’s soul and the soul itself was less blurry. But to Zax, who only sensed the black attribute in his sea of consciousness, the breakthrough to the Beginner phase of the Mist Lord level felt like a stroke of luck.
‘The speck of light vanished?!’ As his senses returned, Zax’s inner mind regained its awareness in the black pitch world of the violet stone.
The three pieces combination was still in his hold, but the speck of light was nowhere to be seen and the fragrance was gone along with it.
‘I haven’t made any improvement in the combinations, but I still managed to break through the Mist Lord level. Was it really due to the dark attribute?’ Zax wondered. ‘I’ll ask Laivien’. He decided.
Opening his eyes after twenty two days was a first for Zax, since he began his training. He raised his head from the violet stone and retracted his hand from it.
“Eh, this smell…” Upon gaining lucidity with his outer mind, Zax sense of smell suddenly picked an indistinct scent of unfathomable aroma. ‘Where is it coming from?’ He turned his head to look, but nothing was different in the surrounding since his awareness was sucked into the violet stone.
“WOW!” Zax could not hold in his bewilderment. The scent was too copious and pristine. It lingered in the air, yet it was unknown from where it was coming from, there was no trail to follow.
“Mmmm…” Beside him, Laivien murmured as if waking up from a deep slumber. She raised her head and neck.
“Laivien, hahaha, can you smell it? What is this smell? Does it belong to your valley?” Captivated by the unique scent, Zax had a profound desire to find its source.
Staring at Zax with a thoughtful look, Laivien carefully chose her words before speaking. “You actually broke through within the month, little Zax”. She was pleasantly surprised, but her eyes flashed with a hint of greater astonishment than she let out in her voice.
“I did”. Zax smiled back at Laivien. Though there were some questions on his mind about the event of his breakthrough, he was happy with himself. With this new addition in strength to his soul, he wanted to know how he would fare now against a soul attack or the Soul Sense of a second level Core Master. Well… he wanted to know, after Laivien will answer him about the scent. “But, Laivien, this smell, can you tell me where is it coming from?” He continued to ask unrestrained.
“I can try, little Zax, but you will have to calm down first”. Laivien instructed.
“Fine”. Zax complied, a bit dissatisfied. The scent was so invigorating; he wanted to chase it even if he had to search heaven and earth to find its source.
“Little Zax, you are saying that you smell an alluring scent?” Laivien asked to confirm and think a little further.
“Yes”. Zax replied instantly.
“Then before I’ll tell you what I think it is, tell me how you spent the last twenty two days till the moment of your breakthrough”.
“All of it?” Zax asked. If Laivien wanted to know every detail of his training, it would take him some time to recount everything.
“Yes”. It was Laivien’s turn to answer in one short word.
Grudgingly, for the sake of knowing what the scent is, Zax sighed and started to recite his experience inside the violet stone.
“So it is as I suspected…” Laivien mused after hearing everything. “But it’s not exactly how it should be. Even for your unique soul it is too abnormal. I wonder, what it is that is hidden inside your subliminal mind, not to mention you dark attribute…” Most of what she said was self muttering.
“Little Zax, the speck of light, it is something every cultivator in the second realm encounter, it should be one of the six bottlenecks of insight. It’s hard for me to believe, but it sounds like you encountered, no… that your subliminal mind possessed it and in your meditation you revealed it! That is, little Zax, utterly insane!” Laivien shook her doe head, not sure how to respond to such a feat.
“One of the six bottlenecks… Are you sure, Laivien?” Zax asked in uncertainty. According to his Master, a Core Master has in each level two bottlenecks of insight and to break through the third realm, of the six, it is enough to comprehend just two, practically any two, not even from the same level.
Furthermore, the more bottlenecks of insight one comprehends, the harder it becomes to comprehend the next one.
Zax did not know how difficult the first bottleneck of insight is to comprehend, only that if the speck of light was the first one, it was so easy to comprehend he done so without even thinking about it.
“Only if what you told me, little Zax, is accurate. Let me explain so you will now why I’m lost with you… On the cultivation path, when the appropriate moment arrives, soon after reaching the second realm, the six bottlenecks of insight descend, in turn and randomly, from the world around us and to our sea of consciousness. When it happens, a cultivator has a choice, to comprehend the bottleneck or discard it. You see the difference up till here, little Zax?” Laivien asked. “With what you told me, you didn’t even have the choice to discard the speck of light or even put any effort in comprehending it. And yet, when you removed your awareness from the violet stone, your perception of the world has changed, exactly like when comprehending a bottleneck of insight!”
“So the fragrance I smelled in the violet stone before I broke through had made me smell the world in a different way?” Zax asked with a confused expression on his face.
“Let’s clear something first, your dark attribute acts independently and according to a set of rules I can’t explain. The breakthrough is most definitely something that it triggered. The fragrance and the current scent that you smell now, in my opinion, are as a result of comprehending one of the six bottlenecks of insight and transforming your perception of the world. In short, what you smell and so eager to find, is the world”.
With that expounding answer, Zax ended up being speechless. When his Soul Sense immerged, he was already learning to perceive the world around him differently, but this new insight in comparison was too intense on his sense of smell. In addition, there was not any way to switch it on and off. How was he supposed to cope with it in this case?
“Laivien, you are an Advanced phase first level Core Master. Have you encountered and comprehended the same bottleneck of insight as I?” Zax hoped that Laivien would answer positively.
The six bottlenecks of insight are not absolute. The bottleneck Zax encountered could be the first, second third, fourth, fifth or sixth bottleneck of any other Core Master.
“Luckily for you, little Zax, I have, as my second bottleneck of insight. Why? Are you perplexed because it’s too overwhelming and you want to know how to regulate it?” Laivien knew the answer, but Zax reaction reminded her, her own reaction to the first bottleneck she comprehended.
“Is there a way?”
“Huhuhu, there is why, little Zax. And it’s the same with every bottleneck. That is, waiting. In couple of hours your sense of smell will adapt to the scent of the world. You will still smell it, but it won’t affect your mind”. Laivien assure.
‘Waiting…’ Like without putting any effort in comprehending the bottleneck of insight, he also does not need to do anything to get use to its effect.
“Laivien, there are six bottlenecks of insight and Master told me that it is better for a cultivator to find them on his own, but if you and I share the same insight, can we talk about it?”
“Since you and I had the same fortune, then yes, little Zax. Ask me whatever you like”.
“Thank you, then”. Zax said. He really thought of Laivien amiably, as if she was an aunty. “When Master told me about the bottlenecks of insight, he did not say much about their benefits. After I broke through I noticed that my soul became less blurry. Is this because of the insight I gain or the improvement in level?”
“It is the results of the insight”. Laivien said brief and to the point.
“So the more insights I comprehend the clearer my soul will become?”
“That’s the main thing that will occur. Although I don’t know about anyone who comprehended all six bottlenecks, I suppose that after the sixth the soul will become completely lucid. The next time that you will cultivate your soul, you will notice that it has become somewhat easier”.
The more close to lucid the soul becomes, the more its comprehensive abilities will improve. Soul refinement techniques, and generally raising the soul level, help a little to make it less hazy. But these were the methods of cultivators. From Laivien’s explanation of where the six bottlenecks of insight come from, Zax realized that the insights are not something that cultivators’ methods can compare with. While it will become easier for him now to cultivate through man’s or beast’s methods, the remaining five of the six bottlenecks of insight should be harder to divine.
“And what about the world’s scent? Does it have any purpose?”
“Mmm… That I don’t know. Perhaps if you’ll comprehend all six bottlenecks you will know. Otherwise, you will have to reach the third realm with your soul level to get the answer”.
“Oh, reaching the third realm is something that Grandmaster told you about?” Since Zax decided on the Martial path to be his way in life, becoming a third realm expert was something that was already engraved in his mind. Knowing that it could supply him further help with the fruits he gained from his insight, he was eager to reach the third realm even more.
“My Kartion’s soul has reached the third realm, so what he told me is certain”. Without letting Zax notice, Laivien pouted ‘It’s only a shame that he is mean and refuses to tell my anything more until things will get better’.
“However, little Zax don’t think right now about the third or even the second realms, since there is something more interesting than reaching them”. Laivien out of the blue lowered her head to knock Zax’s forehead.
Feeling the warmth of the fur of her doe head more than the force of the impact, Zax, wanting to know what Laivien meant, smiled and asked. “What is that?”
“Of course, the spiritual knowledge of your subliminal mind! It seems that from it you gained your first bottleneck of insight. If it has the rest…” Laivien grew excited. “You should go and find, little Zax! Go and find!”
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