Chapter 24 – Second Level

Apart from the unexpected outburst from Jeza that left Zilan utterly at a loss for words, the day was otherwise peaceful and for the first time in a long time, nightmares did not torment him.

He woke up early the next day, quickly washed up, neatly combed his hair and then leisurely dressed up in clean orphan blue robes as well as wrapped a midnight black scarf around his neck to cover his dragon scales.

He then asked for breakfast to be brought to him in exactly one hour.

In this one hour, he intended to try and cultivate a little bit.
Using the [Path of Blood] method Zilan would basically only need to strengthen his body as well as increase his understanding towards the Flow python and the Spring Dragon, for the blue ball of liquid rotating in his sea of consciousness to release more energy thus allowing him to advance in shedding off the marks inscribed around his wrist.

His understanding towards the Flow python and Spring Dragon could be easily broadened thanks to the Book of Path however in order to strengthen his body Zilan had come up with another method.
At first his idea was to undergo deathly physical training, but after he was able to open the second scorched gate Zilan realised there could be another method that could help him achieve the same goal in reduced time.

This method was for him to absorb the Universe’s power however, since this form of energy was extremely scarce because of the seal around the world placed by the Human God, Zilan could only improvise.
He had two options go to the Brivata range and infiltrate the territory of some powerful Beast in order to absorb the Universe’s energy that had collected there which would most likely end up with him dying at the hands of the Beast or he could use his eyes to find areas or organisms with traces of the Universe’s energy in them and then absorb it.
This process was extremely tedious and only someone with Zilan’s wealth of knowledge would be able to efficiently detect and absorb the Universe’s energy. Once absorbed he would circulate it around his body continuously before letting it seep into his tendons, bones and organs thus strengthening them.
Once his body reached the pre-requisite level of strength then the [Marks of Tribulation] as Zilan liked to call them, would then disappear one by one off of his wrist.

At that point the blue ball of liquid would fasten its rotation speed and the energy it gave off [Blood force] another name Zilan decided upon, would not only be more than the current output but exponentially purer. Also, when he reaches a milestone in the future which would be every five lines or marks removed, then a special attribute of the Flow python or even the Spring Dragon would be awarded to him.
The name Blood force was something Zilan decided upon since what he was cultivating could definitely not be called Spiritual power nor could it necessarily be called Beast force. It was an entirely new form of energy that was closer to the Universe’s than anything else.
…………

After all of his experiments Zilan was left with three yellow low-level cores and one white mid-level core in his void sack. He slowly took them out and then carefully drew a formation on the ground that resembled three crosses intersecting.

Zilan then sat cross-legged in the middle formation, took out the four cores and with his bare hands started massaging them while gradually increasing the amount of Blood force he was using.
Slowly but surely results began to show themselves in the form of the core’s energy leaking out. Once this started occurring with all the cores Zilan decided to stop and take a quick rest to recover both his mental and physical strength.

A few minutes passed and Zilan cut himself across his palm, pouring drops of blood on the formation as well as on the cores.
He then sent half of all his Blood force into the formation causing it to start glowing with a faint golden light.

“One more step and the core essence will be drawn out.”

What Zilan was trying to accomplish was to draw out the core’s essence which partly contained some of the Universe’s energy within it.
Core essence could be described not as the energy stored within the core but as the aura that laced this energy. Whether it was human cores, Beast cores, even the cores of Gods they would always have a distinct and unique aura enveloping them.
This included Zilan whose blue ball of liquid emitted the aura of the Spring Dragon mixed with the purity of the water attribute.

The core essence was a mixture of the Universe’s power otherwise known as the attribute’s energy as well a persons own unique energies.
This Universe’s power was what Zilan wanted to draw out.

The formation steadily grew brighter as did the four cores which were starting to vibrate and crack.
Not long passed when a sudden wisp of blue mist rose out from all three yellow low-level cores, the formation also didn’t waste any time as it mercilessly subdued the mist before sending it towards Zilan’s pores, nose and mouth.

With time the formation’s power grew weaker and unfortunately the white mid-level core refused to release its essence probably because Zilan was not yet strong enough to force it out. However, on the bright side he had managed to successfully circulate the Universe energy while discarding the other useless energies and in the process one mark of tribulation was removed.

His body felt lighter and as strong as a bull, the blue ball of liquid started releasing a larger quantity of Blood force than before which made Zilan unbelievably satisfied with the days harvest.

He wasn’t too happy but still very satisfied, after all if not for the Spring Dragon’s life blood doing much of the work in strengthening his formerly cripple body then it would be absolutely impossible for Zilan to remove a mark of tribulation that easily.

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“In the future things won’t be this easy!” sighed Zilan.

He then put away the resilient white core before turning his attention towards the cloud pattern.

“Hihi, let me in.” A cold intimidating voice was let out by Zilan, resembling that of an executioner coming to chop off the days quota of heads.

Immediately after, a soothing and refreshing feeling passed through Zilan transporting his consciousness to the first hall of the Cloud Inheritance Palace.

“Hihi, today if you don’t take me to the second level then you can’t blame me…”

“Ei…Brother Zilan no need to be so hostile, Hihi has never told a lie in his life nor does Hihi intend to start anytime soon.”
The air beside Zilan slightly trembled and a moment later Hihi’s miniature stature showed itself.

“Do you want to go now?” asked Hihi.

“Why would I have come here then? You think I want to look at you? Hmph! You flatter yourself too much.”

“Brother Zilan your words are too harsh, Hihi hasn’t wronged you, right?”

“Let this Big Brother enlighten you on something good. Have you ever seen a farmer live with and pamper the pig that is scheduled for slaughter? Of course you haven’t, but do you know why? It’s because the farmer doesn’t want to feel guilty when he enjoys the meat of the companion he shared the same house with. Do you now understand?”

Hihi’s eyes widened,

“But Hihi already promised to take Brother…”

“I, Zilan will only ever believe in the things that I can see. If I have yet to or for some reason cannot see it, then there is no point in talking further!”

Hihi swallowed his saliva as he thought about how scary this man who held the keys to both his life and freedom was.
He then suddenly disappeared from his previous position. A minute later and the entire area turned completely white.

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Zilan patiently waited, he was no longer flustered by the things that happened in this space anymore. Only if Hihi panicked would he follow suit.

Just as Zilan was wondering what this space was actually comprised of, the white area around him suddenly vanished causing him to blink a few times in order to adjust to the sudden change.
When his eyes finally focused, Zilan found himself in a beautiful and vast garden that resembled a park. There were no animals or insects to be seen so apart from the occasional rustling of the leaves and branches due to wind, the area was otherwise peacefully silent.

The area itself was extremely forested with the taller trees attempting to block out the sun, allowing hundreds of only the tiniest rays of light to seep through the gaps making the surroundings look like a battle field with heavenly rays of burning light falling from above.

As Zilan moved forward in awe, he saw Hihi and a strange shadow waiting for him by the shore of a calm, clear lake whose waters appeared stagnant.

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