After his first cultivation session at the Tree of Resonant Power, Li Luo's life fell into a fruitful and orderly rhythm.
In the training room.
Li Luo and Chi Chan were sitting in the lotus position opposite each other. They each had a hand stretched out, and their palms were in contact, her palm below his.
There was a faint warmth coming from her palm.
Li Luo was oblivious to the sensation, his face screwed up in concentration.
In his palm, two resonant powers emerged, a deep sapphire-blue and an emerald-green. His water and wood resonances.
They were clear and distinct elements.
But when they appeared on Li Luo's palm, an unstoppable force crushed them, forcing them to inexorably merge.
An unsteady sphere of light was formed.
Within the sphere, his water and wood resonances struggled to break free.
"Feel that moment when the resonances are in harmony. You must dispel the repulsion between them. Make them one in your heart." Her voice was as calm as the ocean.
Li Luo's mind quietened as he dived into his resonant powers. One was ice and silk; cool, supine, fluid. The other was life incarnate, a heartbeat and pulse that never ceased. Neither would budge on its nature, until Chi Chan forced them into each other.
A brook's deep currents flowing through a tree's roots.
He had the image for a brief flash, but then Chi Chan broke the contact between their palms.
It was like taking the bridle off two untamed horses. They ran amok.
With a faint puff, both resonant powers on his palm vanished.
Li Luo opened his eyes and made a noise of frustration. Training his dual resonances was incredibly difficult. It demanded precise control, a subtle finesse that eluded a novice like himself.
"Don't be discouraged. If dual resonances were so easily mastered, the Duke life would be very easy." Chi Chan said stoically.
Li Luo nodded wryly. He had been at the Astral Sage College for half a month now. Besides his visits to the Tree of Resonant Power every three days, he had spent his time learning to master dual resonances from Mentor Chi Chan. However, the difficulty had caught him off guard.
Luckily, he had a Duke expert as a mentor to show him the way. As it was, his cultivation was moving at a painful crawl.
However, she was right—dual resonances had always been the special domain of Duke experts. Li Luo was just a weak little Resonant Master. It was almost like putting a heavy ax into the hands of an infant.
"Slow and steady. If you can even get the first step of dual resonances, your strength will improve greatly. You will even be able to take down Wang Hejiu without trouble," she said.
"Mentor, that's not right," Li Luo said with a straight face. "Take down Wang Hejiu? We are all schoolmates. We should be lifting each other up."
Chi Chan just stared at him, amused. Given the chance, you would love to break Wang Hejiu's skull, Li Luo. Of course, he was waiting for the first opportunity to stomp you to the ground too. All for the girls.
She ignored his crap. "You might have dual resonances, but don't underestimate the others. Those that can rank highly among the newcomers are all uncommonly strong. They are rare jewels, now being polished under the skilled hands of their respective mentors. They're improving at godly rates as well."
Li Luo nodded. Underestimating others was not his thing. It was the opposite of his thing—he preferred to flip the tables on people when they let their guard down after underestimating him.
"Mentor... are there any other treasures or such things that can help one cultivate faster?" Li Luo suddenly asked.
Chi Chan was taken aback. "How fast?" she asked suspiciously.
Li Luo scratched his chin. "Something that can make a person reach the Duke Stage in five years."
"Duke in five years?"
She was speechless for a moment, then she nodded.
"There is?" Li Luo exclaimed.
She nodded again. "After training ends, go back and take a bath, then have a good night's sleep," she said gravely.
"When you enter your dreams, you can be a King or even higher! As you please!"
Li Luo's bamboozled face was priceless. Bai Mengmeng's head dipped down, her shoulders shaking in laughter. Even Xin Fu's lips twitched.
"Mentor, you're pulling my leg," Li Luo said, red-faced.
"Wasn't it you who pulled mine first?" she replied mildly. "Duke in five years? You think your dual resonances are that ridiculous?"
Li Luo squirmed. "Well… Mentor, how long do you think I'll take to reach Duke?"
"Dukes need talent and potential, but they also need the right character and a bit of luck. Who's to say for sure? But for you? Perhaps in ten years or so."
His face fell. Ten years? In five years, he would be dead.
That was all the lifespan he had left to his name.
Hadn't he worked hard just to get access to the cultivation resources and mentorship that only the Astral Sage College could provide, all so he could get stronger faster?
She looked at him more closely. She had sensed an undercurrent of urgency in his cultivation, but she had not thought too much of it. After all, House Luolan was not in a good state, and he was worried about his parents on the Nobles' Battlefield. It was only normal for him to want to get stronger quickly.
"Li Luo," she said more kindly. "Cultivation cannot be neglected, and it cannot be rushed. Or you run the risk of stumbling."
He forced a listless smile. He could not possibly tell her about his lifespan, and so she could not understand his burning urgency.
"However, there are many methodical ways to increase one's cultivation speed in the Astral Sage College. Of course, the Tree of Resonant Power is necessary. You can also seek more advanced energy cultivation arts. I see that your energy cultivation art is not a Duke level art." She raised her eyebrows at him.
"Energy cultivation arts..." Li Luo was still using the upper-General stage Black Waterfall Breathing Technique. Although it was quite good, it, of course, fell short of Duke level energy cultivation arts. Then again, those required one's resonance to be at the seventh grade.
But his waterlight resonance was stuck at the sixth grade.
Although he had tried his best to improve it as quickly as he could, there had been no results so far.
She knew his frustrations well. "Ordinarily, virtually all Duke energy cultivation arts make demands on the user's resonance type and grade. But it is not a rule without exceptions. Perhaps there are no exceptions to be found in House Luolan, but this is the Astral Sage College."
Li Luo perked up hopefully. "The Astral Sage College has such energy cultivation arts?"
"If I remember correctly, there is a Duke energy cultivation art somewhere called the 12 Step Weave. It only requires the user's resonance to be a sixth-grade."
Li Luo was overjoyed. It felt like having a pillow slipped under your head just as you jumped into bed. This 12 Step Weave was perfect for his situation.
"Besides trading up your energy cultivation arts, there is one other thing in the Astral Sage College that is very helpful for cultivation. It can help you cultivate faster at no risk of harm to your body," she continued.
"What is it?" he asked eagerly.
She smiled. "Energy liquid."
"Er, energy liquid?" The name was as uninspired and boring as could be.
"Don't sleep on this one. Energy liquid is a special product of the Astral Sage College. It's made from the sap of the Tree of Resonant Power, and definitely ranks in the top three favorite things among students," Chi Chan told him.
Li Luo wanted to cry and hug every brick of the school. Oh, Astral Sage College, I love you.
It was a wise choice to come here indeed.
"Mentor, how can I get these two things?" Li Luo asked, fired up now.
Her veil stirred as she smiled underneath it.
"Very simple. The 12 Step Weave costs 3,000 school points. One vial of energy liquid, 300."
Li Luo choked. He looked down at his feet for a moment. "Mentor," he said with utter seriousness, "can I take out a loan on school points?"
She cracked up.
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