Ryu looked down at his hands. He could feel the strength surging through his veins.
At that moment, the impurities within his body were pushed out faster, drenching his body in a foul smell.
‘The Realm Heart reacts to my Qi Realm cultivation? Or maybe it’s just my cultivation in general…’
Ryu didn’t spend much time thinking about this because he instantly felt that his strength had increased by more than several dozen fold. Even with the constant leakage of his qi, he felt that his power had leapt past even his own understanding.
‘This is the Divine Vessel Realm…’
The truth was that the leaking of his qi hardly affected Ryu. His qi density was already comparable to a Half-Step Divine Vessel Realm expert while he was only at the Half-Step Spiritual Severing Realm. Now that he had entered the Divine Vessel Realm, he was comparable to a Connecting Heaven Realm expert even with the leakage taken into account.
‘I never expected to reach this stage so quickly. Had I known this was possible, I would have skipped the Spiritual Severing Stage from the very beginning, then used the influx of qi to form a larger Qi Blade without relying on Essence at all.’
Unfortunately, neither Ryu nor Ailsa were omnipotent. The idea of skipping a cultivation realm was unheard of. There were godly Spiritual Herbs that gave one the ability to leap Qi Realms, but that was only the optics of it. The reality was that these Spiritual Herbs simply quickly pushed you through Qi Realms, they didn’t really skip Qi Realms.
For context of how astounding this was, the absolute geniuses of the Shrine Plane only reached the Divine Vessel Realm at twenty years old. That mark was the threshold for any true genius. Only once in a generation talents were faster than this.
But, Ryu was only eighteen years old! And, he hadn’t begun cultivation at seven as he was meant to, he hadn’t begun until he was already fourteen!
Ryu gripped his fists. ‘I’ve caught up… Now it’s time to surpass them…’
As Ryu was becoming accustomed to his new strength, Ailsa had sunk deep into her own thoughts.
‘Little Ryu’s qi density relies on his three Six Star Cultivation Techniques, and most importantly, a sturdy foundation. Logically, even if he relied on his Chaotic Silk Meridians to skip the Spiritual Severing Realm, his advantage should have fallen at least slightly.’
Ailsa’s concerns made sense. Ryu had skipped an entire cultivation realm, so why was his advantage in qi density the same? Sturdy meridians weren’t the only thing one gained in the Spiritual Severing Realm, one also gained more qi. In fact, if one took into account that the gap between cultivation realms increased as one progressed, than his advantage had actually… increased?
Ailsa peered into Ryu’s body. But what she found shocked her to the point of causing a splitting headache.
‘How’s this possible?!’
Ryu was shaken awake from his daze.
He almost made it a point to not read Ailsa’s thoughts, but let her do as she pleased with his. But when it came to visceral reactions, he had no way of blocking his senses from them.
“What is it?”
‘… Look for yourself…’
Ryu blinked. He assumed that Ailsa much be referring to his body, so he projected his senses internally. But what he found not only shocked him but… he couldn’t make heads or tails of it.
If he had to describe it… It felt as though a lawless universe had invaded his body.
“How can my meridians have the character of another Plane without its connection to my Spiritual Foundation?”
Ryu suddenly understood the odd feeling he had felt. Meridians were meant to gain the characteristics of one’s dantian over time. The Spiritual Foundation was the connection to the Heavens while the meridians were the source of the body. It was a symbolic fusion of sorts, but it also allowed meridians to house far more qi than their outward size would deem fit.
But somehow, Ryu’s meridians had gained this ability without his Spiritual Foundation. In fact, it seemed more potent than it should be as well.
Technically, Ryu hadn’t entered the Lower Divine Vessel Realm fully yet. There were six Qi Vessel. One for entry, four for the Lower, Middle, Higher and Peak stages, and a the final sixth for the Half-Step Connecting Heaven Realm.
This meant only one thing: Ryu’s advantage of qi density had actually grown exponentially.
“Ailsa, what is this?”
‘It’s… a new path.’
These words were simple on the surface, but they made Ryu tremble.
How many countless epochs of existence had already passed? How many cultivators had existed? How many Clans and Sects had risen and fallen? How infinite was the number of Realms that existed?
Something like a ‘new path’ hadn’t been created for countless generations. Doing something that no one had ever done before, that no one had ever thought to do before… It was unheard of!
‘It seems that even the records of my Cultus Clan were wrong about your Chaotic Silk Meridians. Actually… it seems that maybe everyone was wrong about them…
‘On the surface, your meridians seem to be great enough. Though their function is simple, it’s potent. You can hold and sustain far more qi than practically anyone in existence. In addition, your cultivation can be far more violent than others without worrying about injury.
‘But it seems that this is only the surface ability of the Chaotic Silk Meridians. The true abilities won’t manifest outside of extreme cases… extreme cases where you ignore the Order of the Heavens…
‘It seems that your failure wasn’t actually a failure at all, but a heavenly blessing.’
Ailsa’s gaze shone with a complex light. She should be happy, but she was actually conflicted. She wanted to lead Ryu to the becoming the best he could be, but in the end, it was only because of her failure that he would have this opportunity.
Were the Heavens playing a game with them? The very Ailsa who believed Fate’s grasp wasn’t so easy to escape was now lamenting that this was in fact true. She couldn’t understand it.
“What does all of this mean?” Ryu couldn’t help but ask.
The dim light of Ailsa’s gaze regained their fire. There was no greater honor for a Cultus Faerie than pioneering a new path for the Life Partner. She couldn’t allow the resolve she cobbled together just barely to crumble so easily.
She immediately entered her true form, forcing Ryu to remove his upper garments so that she could place her palm on his back.
“Relax and allow my qi to flow…”
After a few moments of silent deduction, keeping her eyes closed, she began to speak.
“I’m beginning to understand… In part.
“Your Chaotic Silk Meridians are indeed connected to another Plane of Existence. However, I cannot see what this Plane is or where it’s from, much like you cannot enter the Ethereal Plane at will. I can only tell that its laws are not the same as our own. In fact, it seems that its laws are almost a direct opposite… This is the simplest way I could put it despite it being far more complex than this.”
‘Another Plane of existence…?’
Planes of Existence were different from the Planes of the Shrine Realm, for example. As far as Ryu was aware, there were only three such Planes throughout all Realms. The Void Plane, the Ethereal Plane and the Real Plane where most life resided.
Ailsa was saying that his Chaotic Silk Meridians were connected to a Plane even she had no knowledge of!
“It seems that this ability would have never manifested itself if your meridians remained connected to your Spiritual Foundation. In fact, if you succeeded in even a single Severing, this ability would have been overwritten!”
Ryu’s eyes widened. “Does this mean I have to give up on my Spiritual Foundation forever or make a choice between them?”
Ailsa’s brows furrowed. “I can’t give you a certain answer, but my intuition says this isn’t the case.”
Ryu sighed a breath of relief. This was enough for him.
“This… Let’s call it the Chaos Plane, was a very minor characteristic of your Chaotic Silk Meridians. This made it very easy to override with a single Severing. However, I believe that if you strengthen this Character enough, even when you find your Spiritual Foundation, it won’t disappear.”
“So I was meant to do this all along…” Ryu muttered.
“I think this is the true strength of your meridians. Not its light weight, not its structural strength, but this connection to this unknown Plane of Existence.”
“Can you sense anything special about this Chaos Plane?”
Ailsa smiled lightly. “I have a feeling that you can answer that even better than I can. Look at the changes in your qi, what do you notice?”
Ryu’s brows furrowed. On instinct, he began to circulate his qi.
His qi was changing. To more specific, his neutral qi was being catalyzed into an unknown energy even he with his vast knowledge didn’t recognize. It seemed to grind at his neutral qi, compressing and purifying it beyond his wildest imaginations.
Ryu punched outward. He hadn’t even realized his own actions before his committed to them. It was all purely instinctual.
But the result… It was unlike anything he could have expected.
The earth so far below the surface was compressed into extremely solid crystals and ores. The only reason Ryu had managed to make it here was because he relied on the Realm Heart to avoid these hard vein deposits and dig through softer dirt.
However, at this moment, he had punched toward these very sturdy minerals he had avoided before… The result was devastating.
Everything crumbled. The underground cave shook violently as though the whole world would collapse. By the time the dust cleared, all that was left was a horizontal hole of almost three meters in diameter, stretching forward for almost one hundred meters.
Ryu’s pupils constricted into pinholes. ‘This strength is of at least the Middle Connecting Heaven Realm, maybe even bordering on the Higher stage!’
“This new qi is likely where the true strength of your Chaotic Silk Meridians lies. I’m afraid it’s not as simple as being an Ancestral Grade Qi… In fact, I believe it’s no weaker than Essence.”
Ryu’s heart palpitated. “You’re saying that I can now freely control an energy on the same level as Essence?”
No level of cool headedness was enough for Ryu to maintain his calm.
“This is only the beginning, Little Ryu. My instincts tell me that this energy is the Chaos Plane’s representation of Essence. Its yang to its yin or vice versa. As you know, the strength of Essence you can call down varies based on your abilities. For example, the Essence you called down as an Heir pales in comparison to the Essence you can evoke as an Imposer.
“The concept here is the same. If you want to wield stronger and more potent forms of this Chaos Energy, you need to deepen your connection with that Plane of Existence.”
Ryu clenched his fists. Even if he had to give up his Spiritual Foundation, he was willing! But Ailsa had said there was no need to. He almost couldn’t believe this windfall.
“With this, I believe opening the first nine seals of your Heavenly Pupils will be as easy as breathing, so the troubles of finding your Spiritual Foundation should be a thing of the past… But, I’m sure you know that finding it before your connection with that Plane of Existence is sturdy enough will erase all of these benefits.”
Ryu nodded. “I understand.”
A moment later, his flushed appearance disappeared, replaced by a cold oppressive gaze. Layers of frost wafted from his body, coating the underground cave in icicles.
Ailsa removed her hand from Ryu’s back, hiding her sickly and pale features from him as she shrunk down and entered the Incubator. Ryu had no idea that the deduction skills she used to draw out the starting line for him had taken so much out of her…
But he simply didn’t have the mind to pay attention… He didn’t notice that his Glove of Order was reacting oddly as well…
Now that he had this strength, he was entirely focused on washing the Inner Ring in blood in memory of his grandfather.