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Weeks ticked by.

[Immortal Sakura] had been simple for Ryu due to the initial foundation laid by Eska’s guidance in combination with his Heavenly Pupils. The questions Ryu asked back then seemed to going around in circles, but they were very pointed and sometimes touched the core of the technique.

However, Flora was obviously not here to guide Ryu. Even if she was, Ryu wouldn’t trust those Zu Ancestors again. Still, in just a month and half, Ryu broke into the third Divine Pestle Stage.

For [Immortal Sakura], Ryu held off on entering its third stage because the consumption was too great. But, for [Divine Chaotic Annihilation], the trade off for consumption based on return value was too good to give up. If the first stage was granted a value of one, the third stage was over ten thousand.

Within Ryu’s Mental Realm, a dense black pearl hovered above his Immortal Sakura in perfect balance. Due to the overbearing nature of Flora’s Visualization, it had actually wanted to destroy everything in Ryu’s Mental Realm, leaving only it as the sole Visualization.

Thankfully, Ryu’s Ice Jade Crystal Body showed its prowess once more, allowing Ryu to quickly find the perfect balance.

“This speed…” Ailsa shook her head. This was a Sky God’s Magnum Opus, one they spent their entire lives refining and improving. Who knew how many countless million years it took Flora to build up to the third stage?

Of course, there was a difference between creating one’s own technique and comprehending an already created one. But it was certain if Flora knew how quickly Ryu tore through her greatest pride, maybe that cheeky grin and carefree attitude of hers would finally collapse.

“Do you think I have enough to support the third stage of [Immortal Sakura] now?” Ryu sought Ailsa’s opinion.

If it wasn’t for her, he wouldn’t even be able to see these Visualizations to comprehend in the first place. His trust in her had clearly deepened to another level after this…

“You do, but for now, I don’t think it’s worth it.” Ailsa said with a light smile.

“Oh? Why is that?”

“It comes down to quality of energy. The third stage of both Visualization are meant to be powered by Spiritual Qi from an individual who has entered the Soul Birth Realm. You remember what this milestone represents, correct?”

“Spiritual Sea…”

“Exactly right. Currently, your Spiritual Qi is similar to the Qi Fumes you had within the Pulse Opening Realm. But, Spiritual Qi after the Soul Birth Realm takes the form of a liquid. The conversion rate between the two is simply too devastating.

“The reason entering the Divine Pestle Stage is still worth it is because the technique itself is meant to return more Spiritual Qi than you use, at least for the first three stages anyway from what I’ve seen. So, it doesn’t matter whether your qi is gaseous or not. Just… don’t try using it on actual Cosmic Qi anytime soon or else you will suffer. But, no matter how much gaseous Spiritual Qi you convert, you’ll always be on the losing end of liquid Spiritual Qi.”

Ryu knew firsthand how potent liquid Spiritual Qi was. It was so potent, in fact, that it was the form of protection the Zu Clan chose for their entire Inheritance! If it wasn’t for a series of events and a bit of luck, Ryu would have never been capable of retrieving the crystalline jade to begin with.

Ryu sighed. “So the consumption is that high… Alright. I understand. This much is already enough. I think this can actually make up for my lack of Mental Realm talent a great deal…”

Ailsa smiled, but she was actually a bit inwardly confused. Ryu thought that it was his Ice Jade Crystal Body that helped keep the balance in his Mental Realm, but Ailsa felt that his Bone Structure hadn’t awakened to an adequate enough degree to support this…

‘Chaos shouldn’t be this docile. Why does it feel like it’s actually… Obedient to Little Ryu? Could it be that…?’ An idea came to mind that made Ailsa’s beautiful ruby eyes light up.  

Suddenly, Ailsa’s gaze sharpened.

“It seems quite a few people are searching for you.”

Ryu’s calm demeanor immediately became cold, a vicious light piercing outward from his gaze.

“Is it the three of them?”

“No… It’s actually the Zu Clan… There’s no need to worry, though. I’ve set up a few formations to block Spiritual Sense. Unless they set their eyes on you personally, they won’t be able to find you. In fact, they might conclude that you’ve already left the Small Realm.”

A sudden realization came over Ryu. “The corpses!”

Ryu’s corpse puppets had been blasted away during the battle. And, since he couldn’t recall them without touch, he obviously hadn’t been able to take them back. On top of this, without his presence, the black fog that hid their features would dissipate.

Ryu suddenly felt a headache coming along. His greatest advantage against the Zu Clan was that they didn’t actually know he was their enemy. Now, whether or not they were aware of his killing Leopold, they would hunt him down to the death. There’s no way any Clan would take the insult of turning one of their own into a corpse puppet lying down…

“Why is the Zu Clan even here? They should have nothing to do with this Selection.”

Ryu didn’t know it yet, but this made three odd appearances already. Tharon shouldn’t have been present, nor should his grandfather have been. Now, there was the Zu Clan on top of this. Just what was going on?

“How much longer until Nemesis is healthy?” Ryu suddenly asked.

“Actually, thanks to your awakening your Ice Flame, I was able to borrow its power to shorten the three-month time period. He’s already healed and has already stepped into the Fifth Order.

“Also, I gave the Lightning Spiritual Roots you collected for yourself to Little Rock. In addition to some hunt the little guy did himself, he too stepped into the Fifth Order.”

Ryu nodded. “Good. Until I can reconnect to my Spiritual Foundation, my strength will be hard-capped at about the Half-Step Immortal Ring Realm. If this takes longer to fix than I hope and I hit that ceiling, I can only rely on those two…”

“Ai. I have similar thoughts.” Ailsa agreed. “They’re still weaker than you now, but they will advance rapidly. Plus, Little Rock has the strength of an Earth Grade Beast thanks to its bloodline. And, though Nemesis only has a Black Grade Bloodline, its Ancestral Grade Bloodline talent, currently, also gives it the strength equivalent to an Earth Grade Beast. So, battling Common Grade Sixth Order beasts is no problem for them… Though it’s rare for beasts with such weak bloodlines to reach that stage…

“Also… As promised, Nemesis’ second Bloodline Talent has awakened.”

Ryu’s eyes lit up. Ailsa refused to tell him what this ability was before, but it seemed she had finally stopped playing around.

“Like I said before, this talent is known as Bloodied Lineage Reversal.

“If Bloodied Lineage can pass down Talents to other beasts, Bloodied Lineage Reversal can steal them!”

A tremble coursed through Ryu’s heart. The applications of this ability… They were unimaginable!

“If the Bloodied Steed has such a powerful Talent, why aren’t they more powerful? Or, maybe the better question to ask is why they haven’t all been captured as beast pets?”

“Of course, that’s because normal Bloodied Steeds are limited in ways Nemesis is not. This is why he’s so valuable.

“Bloodied Lineage is looked down upon because the Bloodied Steed is a mere Black Grade Beast, who would want the abilities it has? The same way, Bloodied Lineage Reversal is limited in the Talents it can absorb.

“Simply put, as a Black Grade Beast, a Bloodied Steed can only steal other Black Grade Talents. If it tried to steal an Earth Grade Talent, its body wouldn’t be able to handle it and it would die. And, even then, it’s not 100% effective. There’s an element of chance involved.

“For example, if the Bloodied Steed attempts to snatch a Talent from another Black Grade Beast that say has two Common Grade Talent and one Black Grade Talent, there would be a forty-five percent chance that either one of the Common Grade Talents would be ‘Reversed’ and only a ten percent chance to snatch the Black Grade Talent.

“The Bloodied Steed has no ability to choose. Or, rather… It doesn’t have the Spirituality needed to.

“Remember what I said about talents being preset for Beasts? And how our three paths are fused as one for them? Well, the Bloodied Steed is known as a hot-headed creature with low intelligence. So, its Bloodied Lineage Reversal is left up to chance.

“However… Nemesis has several advantages normal Steeds of his race do not.

“First, his Adept Body Talent allowed him to rearrange his talent. Now, his talents are perfectly balanced between the Qi, Body and Mental Realms. This allows him far higher intelligence than others of his race, and as such, though there is still an element of chance, it’s far more favorable than the past.

“And second, once more due to his Adept Body Talent, Nemesis has strength comparable to an Earth Grade Beast. Meaning, he can snatch up to Earth Grade Talents currently. As his strength improves, it will become possible to snatch higher grade talents.

“To make things even better, due to his Bloodied Lineage Talent, he doesn’t necessarily have to snatch these Talents for himself. He could very well share them with Little Rock or any other beast companions you may gain later.”  

Ryu stood abruptly, his fists clenched. Even if he was unlucky in some areas, he still had astounding luck in others. Or, maybe, he was just lucky to have Ailsa. If it wasn’t for her, would he have even given Nemesis a second look?... Maybe not…

He gave her a grateful look which made Ailsa push out her already ample bosom. Truly, if his mind wasn’t so firm, her might feel his nose heat up with blood.

Taking a deep breath, Ryu gathered himself.

“Let’s go.”

“You don’t want to check out the second floor anymore?”

Ryu shook his head. “I feel that I’ve already gained enough for now. Plus, if I delay any longer, catching up will be difficult. Matheus won’t be able to enter the top eight while hiding his true strength alone, especially since Taedra isn’t participating. Also, this Small Realm is an excellent place to raise the strengths of Nemesis and Little Rock.”

Ailsa frowned unhappily at these words.

“Why do you care so much about that damned Matheus and his Loom Clan. I’m sure you know he could have helped you but chose not to.”

Ryu shrugged. “What obligation did he have to help me? I too would choose my family over him every time. Being mad would only make me feel inferior. I don’t need such hypocritical feelings.”

Ailsa sighed. She knew from the very beginning that Ryu would feel this way.

Ryu’s mind left the crystalline jade, a sinister light in his eyes as he swept through the dark cave.

Was he worried about being found by the Zu Clan? Of course not.  

First, even if he didn’t yet have the strength to kill a Connecting Heaven Realm expert, one would be hard pressed to even touch a hair on his head right now. Plus, the Zu Clan was made of Mental Realm masters, if they actually dared to attack his mind… Flora’s Visualization would leave a nice surprise for them.

And second, didn’t he have his cloak? He couldn’t escape Lucien, Vygil and Annbar because they had their eyes on him back then. However, the Zu Clan obviously had no clue where he was right now.

This Small Realm would become Ryu’s own playground. That pent up frustration in chest? He would allow the Zu Clan and the Core Region geniuses to feel it well.

They would know the wrath of Ryu Tatsuya.