Getting up, Hagen turned to Mes. ‘Go fetch some unripe Blood Red Grapes’. From past experience and what her Master taught her, Hagen was well aware of the benefits of the unripe Blood Red Grapes. Her cultivation in the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement was not high, though, it was currently in the fourth gate, but due to her mist cultivation and being a Chaoyue type beast, Hagen’s body in her animalistic form was even tougher than Zax’s.
Moving for Ginlin’s corpse, Hagen attentively inspected him with her double pupils. Nodding slightly, she lifted her right leg, which even in her humanoid form possessed very sharp talons.
Her talons reached straight to the location of GInlin’s dantian. With inaudible sound she popped his dantian, grabbed hold of something and pulled her leg out.
“That is…” Zax watched incredulously as Hagen’s leg exited the newly made wound. Between her talons was a fiery red sphere, the Core.
‘A third realm Core’. Hagen continued, speaking to herself more than telling Zax, but her voice still reached his sea of consciousness.
Throwing the Core up, Hagen caught it with her wing arm. At the same time her leg moved in a flash again for Ginlin’s corpse, and this time when she pulled back, at the tip of her talons, she held an ant’s size blue pebble.
‘Don’t miss it when you encounter an enemy of the household. Generally only the menacing four… three would have such a thing. But in some occurrences the elders of their tribes will also manage to get their hands on a piece’. Letting go of her anger for the meantime, Hagen regressed to a more amiable and imparting manner.
“What is it?” Zax carefully looked at the small piece of blue stone. From what he gathered, the pebble was awfully similar in its hue to Grandmaster Kartion’s blue tower, as if it was a tiny fragment of one of the bricks that made the blue tower.
‘A treasure from the second Savage Cave, a Blue Stone’. The answer was plain and simple, but contain in it was a larger meaning. ‘Otherwise known as an expanding spatial storage space’.
Hearing that, Zax recalled the time his Master told him how he got the blue tower. Back then, when he stole it from one of the two leaders of the Black Horns Tribe, Kardelion, the blue tower folded itself into one blue brick. How Kartius exactly managed to make the blue tower turn into a small brick and how it precisely works as a storage space, Zax did not know. But what its true purpose is, from Hagen’s words, he now believed that he knew.
“This pebble is a small version of Grandmaster’s tower…”
‘In a way. Master’s blue tower is one of the largest expanding spatial storage spaces in all of New Earth. This piece, in contrast, cannot expand to the shape of a great tower like Master’s and the available space inside of it is many times smaller. We can check how big the space inside of it when we will return. I’m guessing that Ginlin placed in it the canteen with the fiery attribute liquid he collected’. For acquiring a third realm Core and a Blue Stone and the fiery attribute liquid, Hagen’s double pupils hawk eyes twinkled in distinguishable satisfaction.
“The third realm Core, what will happen to it?” Zax hesitated for a moment, but eventually gathered the courage to be bold and ask. As he kept looking at it in Hagen’s wing arm, a surge of both excitement and anxiety turned his stomach upside down.
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Recently, Zax has begun to think more and more about the cessation in his bodily cultivation, which led him to further think about his Qi cultivation and his clogged Qi channels.
Why was that? The short version is that the body and Qi or mist, depends on the level of cultivation, are the two aspects that supply a cultivator the ability to embark on the Martial path. Either of the two, only these two, upon cultivating, provided the power to ascend beyond mortality.
The long version that circled in Zax mind was something like this:
Bodily cultivation strengthens the physique of the body and increases the capacity of vitality the body can contain. By doing so, it extends the life span of the cultivator, correspondingly to the cultivation level. However, by how much the life span increases is unknown, since there are barely any bodily cultivators in New Earth and to get an accurate answer, for every bodily cultivation technique, tests and sacrifices are needed…
Contrary to bodily cultivation, Qi or mist cultivation affect the body only mildly. Zax learned from his Master that it is estimated that the body of a cultivator who uses mist energy to temper his or her physique will have around a tenth of the capacity for vitality as a bodily cultivator in the same body fitness level. On the other hand, rich cultivated mist energy can sustain the body much more potently than the external means – for example, unripe Blood Red Grape – a bodily cultivator must use to nourish vitality.
It is not known how the information was attained, but the genius Supreme Ruler Arial Dauch has stated that the life span of a level F, E and D Earth’s Core Holder is a hundred years. A Core Breaker can live up to two hundred years. A Mist Master can live four hundred and fifty years, while a Mist Lord can live eight hundred years and a Core Master, regardless of level, fifteen hundred years. There was no mentioning of the life span of a third realm mist cultivator. And as for Supreme Ruler Arial Dauch’s little take about bodily cultivation… It was only assumption, but according to his idea, a mist cultivator and a bodily cultivator at the same cultivation level may have the same life span, but while a mist cultivator will not need to go through the trouble of scavenging for external nourishment, the body of a bodily cultivator will age ten times slower.
Some of this knowledge Zax got from his Master, some from his Martial brothers and sisters and some from his girlfriend, Anet.
Why Zax dwelled over the two aspects and neglected the soul aspect? For two reasons:
One was the scarce resources related to the soul. In New Earth, whether beasts or humans, there are fewer cultivators who solely embark on the path of soul cultivation than fingers on the human hand. And since the discovery of the Earth’s Cores till today, the most significant verdict about the path of cultivation was that the soul has to be on per or on a higher level than the two other aspects in order to safely cultivate them.
Second was the fact that the soul do not contribute to the ascension of the mortal body. No matter how much it is cultivated, to what level it reaches, the soul will not make the body grow stronger along with it. In addition, unlike mist energy, soul energy will not temper the body in any form or way, hence, will also not extend the life span. The soul one and true purpose is to safeguard the spirit, anything else is secondary and incidental.
Therefore, if Zax wanted to grow stronger, beyond the limitation of soul attacks, and to ascend, only bodily cultivation and mist cultivation were his options.
Bodily cultivation was a given. He did not even need to think about it, only remember that once he will comprehend all six soul’s bottlenecks of insight, he would be permitted to resume his bodily cultivation.
Mist cultivation was the thing which essentially occupied his mind. In the past months he was thinking about how to solve his Qi channels issue and not so long ago he casually connected some dots which made a staggering connection.
Everything starts by taking a careful look at Zax’s situation, his Qi channels clogged, but what about his Qi? It actually liquefied. And although by the time Qi liquefy it first turns into mist energy, what it means if the mist energy is liquefied? Two undisputed things:
First, the mist cultivator broke through the Core Master realm.
Second, after shattering the Core and allowing the newly liquefied mist energy temper the body, the body fitness level of the mist cultivator reaches level C. In other words, a strong enough physique with wider, steadier mist channels, perfect for coursing liquefied mist energy!
At the moment of understanding, Zax had felt as if a mist destination occurred inside his sea of consciousness. That day he hastily went to meet his Master and confirm this hypothesis, and indeed he received a positive answer from his Master. Nevertheless, if he was right, to explain why his Qi channels are still clogged despite his body fitness level, which is not lower than a Beginner phase third level Core Master’s physique, there are couple of things that need to be taken into account. All, of course, originated from the Black Core.
The liquefied mist energy of a Core Master is the cultivator’s own energy. Even if it starts of an Earth’s Core, by gradual cultivation the mist channels get accustomed to it. Therefore, when a mist cultivator reaches the realm of a Core Master and the mist energy liquefied, the mist channels are ready to accept it in the first cycle of body tempering.
When the Black Core entered Zax’s dantian, it turned his Qi into mist and then liquefied it, skipping the period of gradual familiarity with the rest of the body and Zax’s still Qi channels.
Because the effect of the Black Core remained foreign, when Zax’s body fitness level reached level C and he still could not use his mist energy or access his dantian, Kartius deduced that his Martial son either never would be able to use mist energy, or he possibly needs to reached a higher level of bodily cultivation.
Of the two assumptions, Kartius shared with Zax only the latter.
From then on, Zax silently pondered each day what could be the body fitness level he need to reach in order to use the liquefied mist energy. The threshold he set for himself to surpass with his body fitness level was the bottleneck to the Core Master realm.
Now, learning about Cores and seeing the third realm Core, the reason for Zax’s excitement and lust was as such… If he needs to reach the Core Master realm with his body fitness level, if his soul will also reach the Core Master realm and with its uniqueness would be equal to a third realm soul, then does it not mean that he would meet all the requirements and be able to make use of Ginlin’s third realm Core?!
Getting back to Zax question of Hagen…
Hagen hid the Blue Stone and the Core between her feathers. “Master will decide”. She said indifferently, ignoring the light in Zax’s eyes.
Seconds later Mes returned with a several unripe Blood Red Grapes.
Since they just needed the strength to move their body and get back to Grandmaster Kartion’s cave, Zax and Hagen ate the unripe Blood Red Grapes that Mes brought and plucked more by themselves as they headed to the exist for the first Savage Cave.
Due to their injuries, by the time the three returned to Grandmaster Kartion’s cave they, Hagen and Zax, already fully recuperated.
Sitting in Grandmaster Kartion’s blue tower together with Kartius, the three narrated how the mission went while between them lay the tiny Blue Stone and the third realm Core.
“Disobeying direct orders from Martial niece Hagen, regardless of how much help you provided, is both intolerable and unacceptable, Martial son”. Kartius scolded Zax. “Martial niece Hagen, as the team leader you should decide what should be Zax’s punishment”. Kartius said nothing about Mes since he was his big brother’s apprentice.
“Hagen has good judgment”. Grandmaster Kartion affirmed. “Mes, you will also receive your penalty from her. Do you have anything to say?” He offered Mes the opportunity to defend himself since ultimately it was because of Zax action that he got into troubles.
Mes shook his head. Even if his Master will pardon him, Hagen still will be angry. He knew his eldest sister well enough to choose better than let her harbor ill feelings toward him.
“Then, Hagen, set your judgment for the two”.
Hagen nodded. ‘Little brother Mes has broken through the Core Master realm a short time ago, but his bodily cultivation is the lowest in the household. Unless Master says otherwise, little brother Mes is to not leave the household until he will broke through the fourth gate in the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement. Time limit is a year. If he will fail he would have to continue to the fifth gate in additional three and a half years’.
Hearing his big sister’s ruling, Mes’s complexion paled. He was slow in cultivating the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement because it was hard for him to endure its principle of Pain. Currently he only was halfway through the second gate. To reach the fourth gate within a year he will have to ask mercy from his eldest Martial brothers or uncle, to lend him a bit of their treasured herbs.
Hagen moved on to Zax. ‘Martial uncle, since I am unfamiliar with little brother’s training regimen, I will let you deiced on his punishment, but in a year time he must be at least twice as strong as he is today’.
‘Twice as strong in one year!’ Zax exclaimed, yet did not dare to say it outloud. He knew from his Master that Hagen is a cultivation maniac and so refrained from provoking her when she has not even mentioned the penalty for failure.
“Then, leave it to me”. Kartius said to Hagen.
“Now that the insubordination problem is settled, let me praise you three for eliminating a substantial enemy of our household, furthermore, even retrieving his third realm Core and Blue Stone”. Grandmaster Kartion pointed at the Blue Stone. The small pebble flew from the ground to his hand.
‘Is that another power of a third realm soul?’ Zax eyes widened.
Feats that resembled telekinesis, Zax learned from his big sister, were doable by the utilization of mist energy. But Grandmaster Kartion’s dantian was ruined, which made it impossible for him to use mist energy. Zax could only suspect that the power Grandmaster Kartion used to make the Blue Stone fly to his hand was soul related. Moreover, since soul techniques and formations require a physical contact with the target, it only made sense that this power was manifested as a third realm skill.
Grandmaster Kartion infused soul energy with the Blue Stone. The Blue Stone discharged small undulations and transformed into a fifteen centimeters tall blue tower, looking exactly like Grandmaster Kartion’s.
From inside the blue tower, Grandmaster Kartion took out Ginlin canteen. Tilting the canteen and showing a gratified smile, he said. “About three quarters. Low quality fiery attribute liquid, but sufficient for taking one step closer toward ending the household’s enemies. Truly, good job, you three!”