I look at both elders after their discovery of my cultivation base increase. I wait for the inevitable question. Patriarch Tao Feng is the one to speak first, likely because of his position as my sect leader.
He does so with such a wide and open smile that I’m a little surprised.
“Hahaha, I see our Elder Song is truly one that looks for quality over quantity. If you keep all of this up, I may even make you an elder far earlier than I expected.
“Tell me, young Disciple Delinion, will you be able to maintain this level of growth into Core Formation?”
… I know why he’s asking this. At Core Formation, both average and genius cultivators reach into getting their exponential benefits to where I am right now. With each realm, the exponent increases by 1.
Qi Condensation is to the power of 2.
Foundation Establishment to the power of 3.
Core Formation to the power of 4.
What he’s really asking is if I can maintain the power of 4 leverage until core formation.
“Thank you for the praise, Patriarch Tao. Actually, this is just my starting point. My strength should increase on top of this along the same lines as others.”
Of course, when I reach Core Formation, I’ll be at the power of 6.
Now I should stay silent. I haven’t told them I also increase my baseline qi by two, so that should give me some wiggle room when or if this information spreads around. The smarter cultivators should be able to estimate this much over time, but that doesn’t mean I should just give them that information.
Once again, I can see a look of shock on all three of their faces, as I hadn’t told Sister Nuan that fact yet, either.
“Hmm… that changes a few things then.”
He stands up and turns around. For the first time since I’ve seen cultivators think, I witness the Patriarch get up and pace to think. Taking several minutes to do so.
Considering how fast cultivators think at that level, must mean that he’s really jumping through some mental hoops right now over this. From time to time, I also see both the Head Librarian and Sister Nuan look up at each other. They are definitely talking through a connection right now.
I can tell this is only a positive situation for myself, so I stay silent.
A swish of the robes and him turning back to me is the earliest warning.
“Peak Foundation Establishment or Early Core Formation.”
His voice breaks the silence before he continues with an explanation.
“That’s the earliest I can bring you on as an elder, while not causing significant issues with the Council. Any earlier than that, and there will be too many issues.
“There are already some factions in this sect and others that are raising a fuss about the amount of coverage we’ve been doing. As discussed before, they won’t be bothering you directly, though you’ll be handling any of their underlings.”
I look toward Sister Nuan, almost subconsciously. To which she speaks up.
“With your abilities, you’ll need to handle some of those who will envy your progress and abilities. Like we discussed, it will be up to you to handle threats at that level.
“Anything below mid Core Formation, you’ll be dealing with.”
… I’m pretty sure our previous discussion had ‘below Core Formation’.
I guess I should take it as a compliment that they upgraded what they think I can handle. Though, I guess they’re not wrong, considering the things I can do. This just means I need to bring everything together for a defense plan, then.
The Head Librarian stands at this point, reaching into his robes for something.
Only to pull out the thing I’ve been working toward this whole time.
A large jade slip, labeled ‘Unsecured Hall’.
This is it. It’s finally time to absorb the knowledge that will let me create my own methods and techniques.
But before he hands it to me, I can see the subconscious hesitancy on his face. A surprising thing, as most cultivators are good about watching their expressions.
I shouldn’t let my excitement get ahead of me. There’s going to be some shocking things that are about to happen that I need to explain, so they don’t overreact.
“Esteemed Elder, with your experience, I’m sure you already know what will happen when I absorb the knowledge from this slip.”
He instantaneously realizes that he let his emotions slip and regains his calm demeanor.
“Yes. Your body would normally explode within the first few seconds. You assume that your ‘Soul-Body Heavenly Recreation Physique’ will be enough to keep you alive through this process. Having all of that knowledge still within your soul, will cause you to repeatedly explode.
“… Which means you may never heal. Not to mention your sanity.”
He gives me a long stare, with the slip still outstretched. Honoring his side of the deal, while conveying the warning.
The Head Librarian, in a seemingly rare fashion, speaks in a low tone. Betraying his thoughts on the matter.
“Even I would have trouble taking all of this information at once. And especially without the methods our Eldritch Enclave has.
“Are you sure that you don’t want to become a member of our group? If you are worried about your servants in case of a sect attack, then I could bring them on as library servants in the worst case, while operationally they would still serve you.
“Of course, you would still be part of the sect and Elder Song’s core disciple.”
The Patriarch now is the one to turn his head toward the Head Librarian in shock.
That’s a pretty big offer. Huge actually.
He’s offering to take under a thousand new debts, while not using their capabilities. And being a library servant is actually a pretty prestigious position. A protected one, even in the case of a sect attack.
But even larger is his offer for me to become a direct part of the Eldritch Enclave, while still being part of the sect. That’s like having a secret society invite, on top of the sect positions, with all that potential wealth and leverage that entails.
In actually, though, it still would take away my autonomy. As I would be beholden to them and the sect.
Something that in the end… might lead to my inability to help others in the way I know I can.
“I realize that and I appreciate the extremely generous offer. However, I do fully believe that I will be able to handle this challenge.
“If you could allow my impertinence on one thing, regarding what happens next. Please do not save me.”
My eyes naturally turn to Sister Nuan, who will be the most likely to do so.
“My healing WILL bring me back over and over until I can become adjusted to the knowledge. This may take a few hours.”
She’s definitely frowning. I’m sure she knew that this would be the case, but I’m thinking that the offer may not have come just from the Head Librarian. Nuan always is a step ahead, planning for how she can help me best.
In this case, I need to experience this. This won’t be the only knowledge bank I try to absorb in bulk. If I can get my body to handle it this time, it will make every other time easier. And I will be able to go for larger and larger data sets.
She’s silent, just watching me, all before I can see her give up. Giving a nod to both the Head Librarian and Sect Patriarch.
Now holding the large jade slip, I exchange some items out of my personal space bracelet that I prepared for just this occasion.
A large plastic tarp, which I lay across the floor. Replacing my clothes with disposable ones.
“Uhh… Elder Song, could you create a weak protection barrier? I don’t want to dirty this room any more than I have to.”
She nods her head, with even more concern, before I can sense a large number of transparent qi swords create a barrier around me.
The moment she does so, I sit in a meditative position.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
As planned, I go through a small set of procedures before I make contact.
Calming my breathing. Allowing the intake of qi. Maximize all my healing towards myself. And extend a sliver of qi toward the slip.
With each step, I feel a dark sense of foreboding.
Growing and growing.
Breathe in, Breathe out.
The thread draws closer and closer, with the amount of knowledge and techniques within making a slight resonance even without direct contact.
With everything in place to survive this, I have it touch the edge of the slip.