Far away from the [Dragon’s Den], Nisha currently sat on her bed with closed eyes, deeply immersed in her meditation.
The girl did not plan to retreat to her room and had already planned a visit to the Hall of Life and Death to talk with Mish Thana, as there were already two priests in her home now.
Yet all of a sudden, the last chain blocking the door towards the next level projected in her mind loosened during the talk in the drawing room earlier.
Although the dragon did not excuse herself right away and attempted to break through, she did return as soon as possible afterwards.
With her eyes closed and her focus attuned inwards, Nisha saw neither her room nor the landscape of her [Inner World].
Similar to a seal on her progress, the elf no longer had ways to improve her power and cultivation due to the [Dragon Force] constantly excavating her potential and untapped strength.
The force constantly circulated through her body and mind, putting pressure on them and improving them by clashing against them.
For a third rank dragon, Nisha hit the limit in terms of aura and mana.
Now, the door preventing her way forward was as thin as a piece of paper in some sense, but the elf did not wish to rely on brute force to make the breakthrough.
Plenty of magicians and warriors in the capital would have loved to curse out the girl for such willfulness, as they had no method to locate the door forwards in the first place, leaving them stranded before the first great divide in cultivation.
Nonetheless, Nisha got a feeling that it was not a wise move to force her way through the door compared to letting it open naturally.
Examining the last chain wrapped around the path ahead, Nisha noticed that the chain links already showed signs of loosening, the change she sensed earlier.
A few of the links had split open, leaving the chain tense and hanging by a thread before snapping.
Now the dragon needed to take the last step and the door would open.
Immersing her mind into the chain, Nisha investigated the reason why the chain links degraded, and what was needed to make them fully break down.
In theory, this place was not a real space at all, but a representation of her body and mind during cultivation.
As soon as the girl’s attention fell on the correct place, a sense of direction appeared.
Several conditions needed to be met for a natural breakthrough in cultivation, similar to a long period of accumulation.
Nisha’s body and mind already had more than sufficient aura and mana, whereas each level of advancement tempered her foundation.
The first aura rank refined the skin, the second tempered the flesh and the third strengthened the bones, preparing for the ascension to the fourth rank.
Similarly, the mana ranks sharpened the senses, improved reaction speed and increased computation ability, making her thoughts faster and more precise.
Compared to her sturdy foundation and abundant life force, the dragon was lacking in regards to technique and experience.
While it was not considered a waste to dabble in hobbies and crafts, Nisha still lacked a comprehensive grasp over her abilities, which ended up holding her back.
Fortunately, it was not too late to rectify that.
The elf decided to sort out her various skills and abilities and incorporate them into a cohesive system.
Rather than coming up with a method on the spot, sorting out the scattered methods and means would give the girl the most appropriate measure to deal with any situation.
Currently, Nisha more or less picked one of her skills and only bothered with another if the original one turned out incapable of solving the problem before her.
With her perception of the outside world cut off, the dragon assessed her own body and mind first.
As the fundamentals, both the physical body and the spiritual mind generated aura and mana respectively, making them the origin of all energy.
In the process of cultivation, the cultivators themselves aimed to elevate the rank of their being, increasing the level of their life.
Increased battle prowess, longer lifespan, bloodline powers and all else were byproducts of that goal, not to be confused with the original goal.
Hence, the elf started from this angle and inspected her body and mind.
Despite looking relatively harmless and dainty, Nisha’s body hid a surprising amount of vitality.
After all, the girl was not truly an elf, but rather a dragon transformed through unknown means to look like one.
Beneath the facade of a helpless young girl laid a monstrous physique, capable of tearing monsters and beasts alike apart with her bare hands.
If it was not to conceal her irregularity, Nisha would only need to accumulate mastery in hand to hand combat and would likely be nigh invincible among her peers at the same cultivation rank.
However, such an anomaly would no doubt invite an equal amount of close scrutiny, which would quickly reveal her status as a beast.
Similarly, the elf’s spirit was on par with her physique, each of the three springs in her [Inner World] greatly nurturing and supplying the near borderless area with vitality and life.
Her mind shone with great clarity and acuity, the avatar or her mind always roaming the land around her treasure island whenever her body laid down to rest.
Without great resilience and mental strength, it would be impossible for her mind to be active while the body was at rest.
Although it was all energy, used to cultivate a higher state of being, the body and mind split the source energy into two different strands.
Nisha began with her aura, a product of her body’s vitality.
With every breath, every heartbeat, a great surge of vital energy was generated and circulated through the dragon’s body.
Her arms and legs looked a little thin, easily broken and without any strength in them.
Nevertheless, the girl’s strength was derived from the body of a dragon, and a normal blade at the same tier would have trouble cutting her skin in the first place, similar to cutting the hide of a beast.
Where a human at the third tier would have trouble lifting a heavy crate, the elf had plenty of strength to spare and could easily carry it around with one hand if it was not so attention drawing.
On top of that, the [Dragon Force] constantly circulated through her body, reinforcing the areas that went through changes because of the elevation in her cultivation.
Her skin, flesh and bones were nourished by the fraction of the force running through her body, excavating even the tiniest amount of hidden potential in them.
As a result, Nisha’s skin was fair and tender, completely free from blemishes and as white as the finest silk.
The flesh hidden beneath the unassuming muscles and flawless complexion relied on a strong skeleton as hard as dragon bone can be to unleash truly monstrous amounts of strength, nearing the limit of living creatures beneath the fourth rank.
With such solid foundations, it was entirely natural that each breath carried a berth of fierce aura, and each gesture oozed with hidden strength.
Upon close inspection, the aura of the third ranked dragon was highly condensed and very potent, free of impurities and other weaknesses.
Going one step further, aura had its own derivatives that resulted in different kinds of strength.
Skills were fueled by it, translating directly into combat power - with higher purity of aura, the same abilities could show much more power than usual.
Each stance of the [Imperial Swordplay] required aura usage from the user, guiding it according to the forms and employing the power of the body accordingly.
Other skills - such as [Ember’s Touch] and [Shadow Clad] - directly borrowed the attribute of elemental aura and infused them in ancillary tools as weapons to implement their effect.
The more complicated the actual skill was, the more effects they could exhibit - simply adding fire elemental aura only increased damage, while a sophisticated method could simultaneously manifest flames around a blade and increase the cutting power with a searing edge.
On the high end of skills, they almost broke away from their original element and displayed extraordinary effects.
Nisha herself had quite good control over the skills she learned, although she would not claim that she mastered them yet.
But the elf continuously practiced them and found new tricks every now and then, improving her control and mastery.
Different from conscious utilization, another aspect of aura was rooted inside the body itself and the associated phenomena.
She had witnessed the [Manifestation] of her teacher before - [Zephyr’s Band] - which transformed pure incorporeal aura into a tangible item with fantastic effects.
It was almost unheard of to have two individuals acquire the same [Manifestation], making them very personal on some level.
Scholars claimed that these extraordinary items resulted from the combination of a lost element, time, and another element originating from the wielder, but other critics insisted that the strong faith of the owner borrowed an item of power from the god the user believed in.
Nevertheless, [Manifestation] was generally acknowledged as the peak of aura utilization.
Lastly, bloodline and inheritances were rooted to some degree in aura and its derivatives as well.
Nisha herself was part of the dragon race, through conversations with the twin goddesses Gabriel and Bael she learned that her bloodline purity was very high as well.
By virtue of her inborn gift, the strength of her body and sturdiness of her bones and flesh eclipsed others at the same level, and the difference was not too small to brush it off.
Her very flesh, blood and energy had a characteristic intrinsically tied to it, forever marking it as the essence of a dragon.
No matter how her body currently appeared, Nisha would forever retain the aspect of a dragon when she executed skills or utilized her aura.
With her aura mostly sorted out, there was a second pillar for the elf’s core energy left.
Aura and vitality governed everything that concerned the physical world, tangible objects and living beings.
Mana, on the other hand, was related to the intangible and the realm of souls.
Whereas aura gave form, mana embodied meaning and existed in a far more fleeting state.
Monsters lacked mana, which differentiated them from beasts, but still managed to form groups or interact with different forces by virtue of instinct and the rule of the strongest.
Although they roughly understood the general monster language, the lack of mana robbed them from forming an established sense of self and reason.
Humans, elves, dwarves and beastmen were born with access to mana, which allowed them to form a functioning society, whereas monsters needed to establish a strong ego first before attaining mana and transforming into beasts.
A strong beast had the potential to recruit a large swathe of followers and found their own tribe with ease.
Accordingly, the reverse conclusion also held true.
The more aligned an individual was with mana, the stronger their consciousness turned out to be - a prime example was present in Nisha, who had enough mental strength to keep a projection of her mind consciously existing inside her [Inner World].
While her body laid down to rest and slept, the avatar of her mind explored the limitless regions of her [Inner Space].
Naturally, the girl’s spirit always returned to the core of her space, the treasure island located in the center of a ring shaped sea.
All her important treasures and shinies were stored away there, with the underground throne room in the centre.
Crystals grew on the wall, layered around the springs that supplied the entire world with mana, which also allowed the gems to form in the mana-dense environment.
As the counterpart of aura’s [Manifestation], the [Inner Space] belonged to all mana wielders regardless of element.
By combining the power of space together with their understanding of their own elements, the wielders carved out a palace of their own from the void.
Nisha’s [Inner World] far exceeded the regular capacity of an inner space, if a court magician unlocked it at all, they would already boast about their great knowledge and skill, even if their capacity was below that of a regular travel chest.
The elf did not meet anyone yet who also owned an [Inner Space], or she would have learned how unusual it was to have more than a void space to store items, as her own supported life and different elements.
When she entered the first mana level, plants sprawled around as a complete ecosystem made from the seven elements.
With the second mana level, small animals and bigger plants showed up and completed the different region’s ecosystems, whether it were burning mountains spouting lava or cool cave systems full of shadows.
And with the third mana level, medium sized animals and rare herbs began showing up, making the entire area even more lively.
Nisha’s avatar spent the time of the night exploring the different lands, always happy to discover new species or sceneries she did not know yet, although some of the time was also spent on practicing her skills.
In spite of being considered the pinnacle of mana wielding, the [Inner Space] was not the only aspect of mana.
Each level up in cultivation heightened the mental faculties, such as perception, comprehension, fine control and computation, allowing mages to understand more complex concepts and skills with higher cultivation rank.
Naturally, differences existed between individuals at the same rank all the same.
Questions that usually troubled Nisha became easier with greater control over her own mana and spirit, while learning skills also lessened in difficulty.
Sometimes, it troubled the elf that she forgot tasks that she set for herself, so the increase in memory was surely a great help for her personally.
Finally, the seven elements each had a system for spells under them, allowing the wielders to make use of their mana.
Over countless turns, many predecessor magicians and mana wielders perfected the offensive spells, finding the most efficient and powerful spell model for each rank.
Progressively, the elf had learned [Fire Ball], [Fire Arrow] and [Fire Spear] from the fire elemental spell system, each respectively belonging to the first, second and third mana rank.
While there were variations and unique versions of the attack spells, they generally only offered more utility compared to the traditional versions.
Nisha herself had learned all attack spells up to her current rank so far, [Fire Spear], [Dark Spear] and [Death Spear].
The conventional defense spells followed the same pattern, [Fire Shield], [Dark Shield] and [Life Shield] were usable through rank one to three.
After grasping one of them, the general process behind the other elements was similar enough to allow the dragon to quickly grasp them with little practice.
Apart from the attack spells, most magic spells focused on utility and defense, as there was nearly no limit on the imagination of the casters to find a unique solution for each problem that troubled them.
Even Nisha had invented a spell before, [Flickering Light]. Although it was not a very high rank spell or particularly powerful, there was still a lot of potential left for the spell in the future.
With that being said, the dragon’s spell system was more complete than her physical skills, but she still preferred close quarter combat over slinging spells from afar.
Naturally, not everything was quite as clear cut when it came to the real world.
Some skills such as [Thorns of the Night] and [Eye of the Wolf God] required suitable mana and aura concurrently.
Hence, they exhibited traits of spells and skills at the same time and broke free from the rigid classification of form and idea.
Visualizing her achievements in aura and mana helped Nisha to sort out her skills and spells, putting them into categories and discerning their situational usefulness.
After combing through her messy assortment of abilities, the dragon’s energy flow suddenly smoothed out and sped up in circulation.
Aura roared through her veins, carrying powerful vitality to each corner of her body and mana sprung forth from the wells inside her [Inner World], invigorating the hidden world and cleansing the dragon’s spirit, making her thoughts crystal clear.
The last chain around the door inside her imagination finally snapped with a clear ring, opening the path through the first great divide and the next level in cultivation.