Cardis’ arrival at the guild didn’t make any waves nor did it attract the attention of all the mages like Tempest thought he would. Cardis gained the title as the most powerful mage in the Magus Alliance over five thousand years ago and no one had been able to shake his position.
With his reputation, Tempest thought they’d be mobbed with adoring fans like a boy band at their concert or be swarmed with lackeys trying to flatter their way into his good graces.
Things did not follow her expectations.
They showed up the door and followed behind a group of mages entering the building with no one the wiser and made their way to the room where the Council of Elders held their meetings.
Tempest knew there were safety measures present to prevent infiltration from other guild and cultivators from other domains from entering the Eternal Spirits Guild headquarters. Cardis gave her an identity token which allowed her to bypass the wards. The token was attuned to her spirits and can’t be used by anyone but her.
The method is very reliable since spies can use a slew of methods to mimic other cultivators physically and they can even mimic a cultivator’s mental signature or soul aura for a period of time, but there had been no method found to copy a mage’s affinities.
Ah yes, expectation.
Tempest began to realize any stereotypes or expectations she had before transmigrating to a fantasy world was best thrown out the window.
Take, for example, the Council of Elders of the Eternal Spirit Guild. When one mentions elder in any shape or form, the image of a white hair, wrinkle old grandpa comes to mind. Add in the word mage and Tempest came up with a NEET version of Merlin, still old and wrinkle but more of a pasty complexion from being cooped up indoors researching the arcane and esoteric.
Tempest did not expect to walk into a fashion show with exotically beautiful people dressed in elaborate getups that put the contestant of Project Runway to shame.
There was a woman dressed like a peacock, another garbed in bizarre armor, another who put a mummy to shame and wait, is that woman naked under the flames she’s sporting? Tempest stared at the flamed garbed woman, trying to see if she was really naked under the flames. It makes sense that she’d be naked under the flame. Normal clothes will burn at high temperatures. Still, a woman has to be very brazen to walk in the nude with only a full-body flame as a garb, so she could be wearing clothes made out of material that can withstand the intense heat she displays.
Strange people wearing strange clothing doesn’t warrant Mizu being cryptic. Tempest had seen weirder people wearing weird outfits. Set any of the so-called Elders in an anime or comic convention and they’d fit right in. They might get the best costume award for the bizarre effects their clothes have.
Strange fashion sense aside, all of them are the epitome of beauty. There was not an ugly person among them.
Cultivators using the soul, mind or body as their immortal path vary in appearance. It can be said the appearances of the cultivators reflect their potential or their cultivating speed. The older one looks, the more lackluster their potential. The concept is due to the fact that cultivators still age when they are cultivating.
The mortals of the Cardinal Realm stay at the peak physical fitness levels longer than the people on Earth, and cultivation prolongs the time they retain their youth. The aging process was slowed down; it does not stop until they become immortal.
The younger a cultivator looks, the higher their potential.
This concept does not apply to mages and to a certain extent, blood cultivators. Those who cultivate affinities as their immortal potential are all healthy, young-looking people.
The reason behind the beauty of the mages is their cultivation method.
The spirits supply elemental energy through the affinities they have with their mortals. Mages absorb the ambient mana in the air and mix the mana with the elemental energy supplied by their spirits and then circulate it through their bodies, tempering their bodies.
Most mages do not have spirit veins to circulate the mana as a cultivator from the Heavenly Mountains would. Given the dominant position, the cultivators from the Heavenly Mountains has over the other three realms, if a mortal has both high affinities or good spirit vein, the cultivator would choose to cultivator the body instead of the heart.
There are mages lucky enough to have the same type of spirit veins as they do their affinities and thereby cultivate faster, but those are rare as finding a needle in a haystack, damn near nigh impossible to see.
The spirits found a workaround to the problem, hence the current mage cultivation progression system they have today.
The cultivation progression for mages is divided into three main phases and one ultimate phase - outer, inner, senses and mastery.
The outer phase pertains to the skin, muscles, and bones.
Since a mage can not circulate the combined ambient mana and elemental energy through their bodies, then the spirits can do it for them. The first phase of a mage’s cultivation pertains to the skin. The spirits coat elemental energy over their mortal, and the energy is mixed with the ambient mana in the air. The combined energy, mages call mana because not all mages want to be as technical as the cultivators from the Mysterious Wasteland, are then absorbed through the skin.
Once the skin becomes permeable to mana, the spirits infuse the muscles then the bone with mana. After the whole muscular and skeletal structures are completely infused with mana, the outer phase of mage cultivation is complete.
The inner phase of mage cultivation refers to the blood vessels and organs. Mana needs to be circulated before a mage can unleash its full potential. Since mages don’t have spirit veins, the spirits use their blood vessels as a substitute. They run the mana through the blood vessels to all the organs in the body. The inner phase of mage cultivation is complete once all the organs are completely filled with mana.
After mana is saturated in the body, it begins to affect the senses - touch, taste, smell, hearing and then sight. Mages begin to perceive mana in a different light once their senses are affected. They are able to better utilize their mana since they can better sense it.
When the whole body is filled with mana, the mage has to master their abilities and take the step to become an immortal.
Since a mage’s cultivation starts with the skin, a mage can age but they won’t look their age ever. This results in all mages having beautiful flawless complexions. If a mage wasn’t born beautiful, under the subtle sculpting of the spirits, they will become beautiful.
Tempest later learned about the beauty secrets of the mages. She didn’t believe this was how the mages originally looked in the first place. Tempest thought there was a pill or an illusion cast by the mages to make them look like they are right now. It is what Tempest would have done. Why should she try to attain immortality only to look like an old hag for the rest of her very long life? She might as well stay human.
No, what Tempest was concerned about was their behavior. She sincerely believed she mistakenly stepped into a kindergarten classroom because the occupants were acting worse than children!
If they weren’t flapping their hands like a headless chicken as they squabble with each other then they were fighting like brain dead brawlers in a tavern, sleeping on any comfortable surface, playing games, or they were sitting around enjoying tea.
Tempest finally understood what Mizu meant when she said this group is a bunch of weirdos.
“Where were the stately stern Elders?” Tempest cried in her heart, “Where is the powerful figurehead that awed the cultivation world? Where are the fierce warriors that strike fear in the hearts of mortals? Where are the intelligent researchers who devote their lives to the study of magic? More importantly, where did they get that chicken?!”
“Cardis, you’re here!” a handsome man with black hair and star-speckled eyes said in a soft voice that somehow reverberated throughout the entire room, causing all the Elders present to drop whatever they were doing, and as one, stared at new arrivals.