Book 4, Chapter 55

Double-Edged Sword

One couldn’t find as many astral rays when meditating in the Forest Plane, but there were some light green vortices of light. These were things Richard had never seen outside this plane, extremely unstable and short-lived. Attempts at capturing a few revealed that they were packed with life energy, so pure that it could not be absorbed effectively without a corresponding ability or meditation technique.

Only a small amount of the energy in these life vortices could be converted to mana, most just scattered away. On the other hand, his elven bloodline could absorb almost all of it, but getting these vortices all the way there before they faded away was not so simple. On the other hand, although the Archeron bloodline didn’t have an adverse reaction to this energy it could absorb very little itself. This was different from when he had meditated in the Archeron family tombs, where the elven bloodline had rejected that infernal energy outright.

These weren’t the only things he had noticed while meditating. There were many floating droplets of energy in the air as well, inclined towards the water element and existing in tremendous quantities. However, despite multiple attempts to absorb them he found that these were even worse in terms of efficiency than the life vortices. Only his elemental trunk could completely absorb this energy, but that wasn’t a direction he was currently working towards.

He now felt like each plane had certain energies unique to itself. Whether one could make use of these energies depended on practice and affinities, particularly affected by one’s bloodline and abilities. Some energy was usable by all, which is what ordinary meditation techniques used to grow one’s mana pool. The astral rays used by the Deepblue techniques used a higher form of energy that was almost omnipresent and distilled it, the only difference between various environments being the density.

The concentration of these various energies seemed to be correlated to the strength of the plane itself. The energy in Norland was far more concentrated than in any other plane he had been to, and most of it was universal as well. Secondary planes varied as well; there were those like the Forest Plane which held high concentrations of special types, while places like Faelor seemed to be just downgraded versions of Norland itself.

Richard guessed that this was the reason training on a primary plane was much faster than on most secondary planes. The upper limits of strength on a plane were fundamentally determined by its laws, which were likely linked to the density of energy present as well.

His own sea of consciousness was now a mysterious little space. Floating in the centre was a green plain with a five-trunked tree, some of its trunks better nourished than the others. The roots of these five trunks were connected to form one body, piercing through their pedestal to dance in the air below. Surrounding this world tree were patches of crimson veins that created an enormous network, lava flowing within. A few golden symbols occasionally weaved in and out of these veins, the awakened portion of his truename.

The astral rays headed for the tree now needed to pass through the mesh formed by his Archeron bloodline. This was a tedious job to accomplish since the sphere was constantly turning. To pass through the gaps needed a slew of calculations and a helping of luck. One in every two astral rays Richard caught lately was taken by the Archeron bloodline, suppressing his elven heritage.

He still remembered Sharon being quite curious of his mixed demonic and elven bloodlines when he first came to the Deepblue; this was likely why. These two bloodlines would not coexist easily.

Thankfully the Archeron blood didn’t have much interest in the life vortices, even actively avoiding them. This allowed him to nurture his elven bloodline most efficiently, giving the astral affinity that was the core of his path to strength some space to breathe. Thus, whenever he was in the Forest Plane, he used all his might to capture these vortices.

……

The day before he would return to Norland, Richard was in the midst of meditation, carefully guiding a life vortex through the Archeron net with his mind. It suddenly trembled the moment before it reached the destination, breaking down into primal life energy before dispersing. Only a small portion of the scattered energy fused into his mana pool, the rest taking its time to disperse.

He set aside his frustrations and began leading another vortex nearby. This time, it failed even before it reached the Archeron sphere, fusing into his mana pool once more. His luck was quite bad; he failed six or seven times before managing to deliver the single vortex to his astral trunk.

The trunk suddenly lit up completely, a young branch that was growing at the top trembling as a fresh leaf grew out. The entire trunk shook the moment this leaf unfolded, shooting up in size until it turned into an enormous tree with a full crown, trunk and roots! Numerous leaves danced despite the lack of wind, emitting a blue radiance that covered it like a fantastical mist.

His astral affinity had been awakened to the fourth level, its trunk fully formed. A fresh young branch started to swell up from one of the four branches already present, a swollen flowerbud upon it the basis of whatever fifth ability he would unlock in the future.

The crown of the enlarged tree approached the perimeter of the Archeron bloodline’s net. Numerous green tentacles reached out from the branches and leaves, exploring the blood sphere even as a few roots stretched out below to do the same. Countless faint lines of energy started to appear on the trunk, connecting the rest of the tree trunks to his Archeron bloodline.

Richard suddenly knew the ability he had unlocked at grade 4— Astral Conversion.

This ability allowed the trunk to absorb the energy he could not interface with automatically, converting it into astral rays. A lot of the power would be lost in the process, only a mere third remaining, but this was still much better than before. As his level continued to grow and his meditation technique was strengthened, foreign planes would increasingly grow unable to sustain his rate of growth. The most common type of energy even here was not the life vortices but water elemental energy, which took up four-fifths of the total energy here. The life vortices and astral rays combined were only worth 10% or so of the total space; without the conversion, these energies could not be utilised at all.

Although he hadn’t reached that threshold yet, his mana growth would be limited after he passed level 16. This was an intrinsic method for a plane to suppress its powerhouses; the higher one’s level, the more lacking the plane was. When one’s level reached a certain point, they would basically gain nothing from lesser planes. In the Forest Plane, for instance, outside of druids, shamans, and forest warriors who used life energy as a basis of their power, most individuals would be suppressed once they crossed sainthood. It was only now that he understood just how much of a double-edged sword Unhurriedness was.

Richard’s own mana was on the edge of level 14 now, and he would cross the threshold again in about a week. From level 14 to 15 one needed about a thousand points of mana, but even based on four hours of meditation a day that would only take him three to four months. This speed was already manifold that of an ordinary mage, a result of his meditation technique synergising so well with his bloodline. If he could allocate more of his time a day to meditation, he would grow at an unprecedented rate.

A thought suddenly struck him, sending him into a daze: if he was already so broken at this level, how were things for Sharon? He was suddenly very curious about the bloodline abilities of the legendary mage.

……

With those thoughts in mind, Richard and his group left the Forest Plane once more to return to Norland. Their goal this time was mainly another rune convention, but coincidentally enough the Sacred Alliance’s imperial auction was also to be held on the same day. In the end, his convention had been merged into the auction’s proceedings as well, any runes he released slated to be sold off on the same day.

There was no doubt that the imperial auction was more attractive towards the rich and powerful families than any single rune convention. Only the families that were bored and focused on intraplanar politics would lay their sights on Richard’s event. However, things were the exact opposite for powerhouses. Many had made a mad dash for Faust once they learnt Richard was releasing new products, hoping to acquire some.

While the auction this time was rather hurried, it had managed to attract many powerful families from all over the continent. Even the mysterious Land of Flames at the extreme south end had sent some men over through a portal from the Church of the Eternal Dragon, not caring for the tremendous costs of doing so.

Many of these powers had come for one single item, something rarely ever seen in Norland: the fruit of life. The heads of powerful families, exceptional powerhouses nearing the end of their lives, various monarchs of different countries all wished to obtain this miraculous object. Another decade of life at one’s peak was something invaluable.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA