My cultivation process went fairly smoothly. Using the energy from my Keeper side, I was able to cultivate directly to the Nova Merge stage. This was two full stages beyond what Tubrock had initially been able to cultivate when he was establishing this world. However, at the same time… I held an unfair advantage.
Each stage of cultivation was similarly a hint about the process to reach that stage. Naturally, this information wasn’t known by the mortals, who had assigned their own titles. But, for instance, the Nova Merge stage… the key word to focus on here was ‘merge’. This stage of cultivation was the beginning step of cultivating an energy body.
For anyone who was pursuing a singular path of energy, they would never be able to make it to this step. That was because it took at least two base energies in order to form the body. Well… unless you were dead, but that wasn’t particularly an option for me.
Now, back to the topic… Nova Merge is the first ‘level’ of transcending mortal flesh. You could compare it to a variation of the Perfect Self. The key difference being the care that the Keeper who designed it had taken, ensuring that it did not have the same flaws. Instead, the profound laws allowed for the steady conversion of the body through the power of starlight.
In truth, I could have probably cultivated quite a bit further, but… I simply did not have the energy levels to do so. As such, I temporarily had to settle for this stage, nodding my head in satisfaction.
Thankfully, Leowynn wasn’t disturbed during the entire process, after complaining that the formation of my ‘spirit star’ had heated up her ‘house’. A bit of careful control had taken care of that.
The next item on my agenda was to take care of some work that I had been putting off. Namely, the creation of more ‘complete’ world spirits. I could still not do so for Spica or Lorek, as I was not familiar enough with the magic system Spica to properly create such a thing, but… I had a way around that.
That way being to tell Ryone to do it while I took care of Kione and Sher Dien. I glanced up towards the sky, grinning as I sent that request off, before shifting myself over to Kione to begin working.
Jana walked through the town slowly, her ki still not fully stabilized after the earlier event. Although she had been diligent about following Tubrock’s commands, her internal sky felt… different. Both weaker and stronger at the same time. She could feel that her energy levels were lower than they had been, yet the energy felt more refined now, as if she had taken a step forward in her cultivation unknowingly.
She took a deep breath, soon arriving at the Altar of Rings, the platform that had mysteriously appeared alongside that warning a year prior. There were those who had stepped upon the altar to study it, only to have the concentric rings lift up and take them away. It was impossible to tell where they went, as such individuals had yet to return.
Now, however… Jana noticed something different about the altar. In its center, where previously there was an empty indentation, there was now an odd stone slab. On the face of the slab was a carving resembling a constellation. This constellation took the form of a figure wearing a wide dress, and Jana found herself moving closer to inspect it.
Before she even registered what she was doing, one of her feet had landed on the steps to ascend towards the altar. That was when she heard a voice calling out to her. “Ancient Jana! What’s going on?”
The voice was respectful, even if it did come from a member of the other race. Jana turned to look at the tall ursa man, blinking in confusion. Her eyes glanced down at her feet, and she noticed that she was now standing at the edge of the altar. Just a few more steps, and she would have been taken by it.
“I… don’t know.” She confessed honestly. “There’s something different about the altar today. Look…” Jana pointed towards the stone slab that now rested at its center, the ursa stepping over to investigate. As he was a much taller race, he was able to see it more clearly without having to climb the steps.
“You’re right…” The ursa said with a brief nod.
“I felt like it was calling to me…” Jana spoke, once again finding herself moving towards the center of the platform unknowingly. This time, the ursa seemed similarly distracted, and even began climbing atop the altar himself.
Neither of them were broken out of their trance-like state until Jana crouched down, rubbing one hand along the stone slab. Then, they heard a deep rumbling, their minds once more becoming alert. As they stood, they saw the rings rising up around them.
Immediately, the thought of simply jumping off the altar took root in both of their minds, yet they found themselves unable to move. Their feet were rooted in place by some strange presence. Dwarves and ursa alike gathered around the altar, exclaiming in shock when they saw it activating once again.
And then… they were gone. The next moment, Jana found herself surrounded by metal walls. Large, cylindrical objects pointed towards her, and she could feel a dangerous ki welling up within them. Just as she was about to lash out, the objects retracted back into the walls.
Along the farthest wall, a panel slid open to reveal a doorway, through which two figures emerged. One was a dwarf much like Jana, wearing strange clothes. She couldn’t quite make out what material it was meant to be. The other was a taller race, much like the ursa. However, its body was not as muscular, and rather than the furred, rounded ears of an ursa this creature’s ears were long and pointed.
“Where are we?” The ursa atop the altar asked towards Jana, his words seeming to alarm the other two. The long-eared individual turned and shouted something through the doorway while the dwarf approached.
Jana simply shook her head. “It appears that we’re on the other side of the altar… wherever that is.”
Jana watched as the unfamiliar dwarf waved one hand, a sheet of paper magically appearing in front of him. This action caught the attention of both travelers, who stared as Jana was handed the paper. Jana looked at the scribble on the paper, clearly unable to recognize them, and yet somehow able to read them at the same time.
“Is this… an inheritance?” She asked herself in confusion. The ancient inheritance scrolls had similarly been written in unknown text, yet somehow still legible to those who read it. To casually create an inheritance like this, Jana began to question internally if this was where the ancient civilizations had gone to…
“Ooh, I like that one!” Dana laughed as she sat on a chair across the table from Tsubaki. “I think I have room for… six more? It feels like that should be right.”
Tsubaki nodded, closing her eyes and thinking. “Well, we already covered some melee combat spells, and gave you a form similar to the one I use myself when fighting. We can either handle ranged spells next, or spells that you can use to help with daily life.”
“Oh, oh! How about something to help with the chores?” Dana asked with a wide grin. “Cleaning spells, or spells to organize books and furniture?”
Tsubaki hesitated for a moment, before nodding her head. While they seemed simple, such spells were actually difficult to perform with geometric and runic magic. That was because of the difficulty in defining what needed to be done to perform ‘cleaning’, or how you wanted items moved to organize them. For example, there was a simple cleaning spell that could remove dirt, but it did nothing for stains.
With this new system, on the other hand, Tsubaki felt like it should be possible to create such a spell. And so, she focused, sending the mental commands over her bond with Dana. First was the cleaning spell, with Tsubaki leaving the ‘target’ for cleaning vague enough that Dana would be able to use her own judgement. Then, similarly, she created the organization spell, leaving both the target and order vague.
Only when she was done did Tsubaki relax, placing her hand on the thick tome in front of herself. “Now, ready for the next test?” Dana nodded her head eagerly, reaching out to take the book.
Dana set the book in front of herself, placing one hand on its cover. “First, the Servant’s Weapons spell.” As she focused, a silvery-blue mana wrapped around her hand, channeling itself into the grimoire.
Once she was done, she hastily opened the book, seeing an entry on the first page. There was an elegant pattern drawn out along the corners of the page, and a strange script that neither of them could read written out in paragraphs. Covering one full section of the page was an image showing a long, thin knife, which caused both girls to nod in satisfaction.
“It looks like we can store your spells in the grimoire as well.” The grimoires of Earth were able to handle both geometric and runic magic, so the two of them were quite curious if it would be able to handle these new spells as well. As it did, this opened up a new realm of possibility for magic.
Given that the spells within these grimoires could be cast multiple times, so long as mana was stored within the spell between each cast, this would enable the creation of far more diverse spell repertoires. Of course… card magic could be used with the grimoire as well, but many felt that that was a waste. It took more physical space in the grimoire to store a spell than the card itself.
“I wonder if people are going to use tricks like this to market spellbooks.” Dana mused out loud. “I mean, if you fill one of these up with daily spells like the cleaning one, a lot of people would buy it, right?”
Tsubaki gave it a moment of thought, nodding her head. “That’s possible. If we can discover how enchanting works with this new magic system, we could likely create items with similar effects.”
“Well, why don’t we give it a try?” Dana asked with a wide grin. “Gimme some spells meant to enchant items, and we can figure out what works!”
Tsubaki smiled lightly, nodding her head. “Okay.”
Jonas read over his notes again and again, nodding to himself. “I think I’ve found it…” For years now, he had trained himself as a bard and as a cleric. While the latter borrowed divine energy from above, that was still enough to let him feel that energy. Then, with his training as a bard, he could cultivate his own spark of divinity.
This was all a part of his research, a way to overcome the limits of his new, ‘perfect’ body. “I need to take this carefully. One step at a time.”
According to his theory, he should either begin by merging his divinity with either his ki or his soul. If he chose the former, he wasn’t sure that his soul would be able to safely inhabit his new vessel. Yet, if he chose to start with his soul, there was the chance that it could overwhelm his new body.
The reason he had eliminated mana as the first step was quite simple. Jonas had no confidence in being able to maintain his focus while his mana was being reshaped on such a large scale. It was far safer to begin with one of the other two, first.
“Hmm… perhaps I should test it, first.” He thought to himself, wondering what he could use as an experimental subject. The idea of using another person never crossed his mind, and he would instead rather choose a monster. “Oh… I think I know a nice, simple subject.” He gave a small smile, an idea coming to him.