233 – The Truth of Storm-soul Cultivation Pt. 2
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“My Clear Sky Thundergod produces lightning strikes from a cloudless sky, instantaneous and nearly unpredictable, which, as you learned first-hand, informs my focus on speed and surprise attack, even if I restrained myself to the techniques I knew when I was a novice, as you are now.”

Again, she chained the smoke construct, reshaping the cloud into an obelisk, taking her feet off the table and leaning forward with her right hand over the scene and sending down miniature lightning bolts from her own fingers, sans any fake clouds. 

“No one Thundergod produces pure Fulgur, each skewing towards a certain aspect being dominant in the reaction mixture, thus creating subtly different lightning due to “impurities”. My Tengri Yildirim - literally meaning Clear Sky Lightning in Ikesian - is skewed towards Aer.”

“As for your Thundergod… Its name is just as accurate as mine, really. They bring about particularly violent and grandiose discharges, tremendous arcs that reach down from the heavens and bring annihilation, as if the heavens themselves had decided “Fuck this tree in particular!”” 

Allowing the smoke construct to dissipate altogether, Arnys once again put her feet on the table and leaned back, continuing to expound without any prompt: “Lots of flashing and ominous buildup, then boom, a single overwhelming discharge. Fringe, high-energy phenomena like ball lightning also fall under their domain, both thought to be related to the skew towards Aqua in the arcane metabolic process. Being that Fulgur is a compound of several primordial essentia, Storm-soul Cultivators rarely, if ever, use energy gathering methods other than breathing, ‘cause even if you can’t get the Aer and Aqua out of what you breathe, your Thundergod can, for the sole purpose of making Fulgur. I believe that should cover every-”

She stopped herself before she could finish the sentence, “Right, the Thundergod Mantle. Developing one is sort of a case-by-case basis. In our culture, one of the key steps to that momentous breakthrough is to gain true understanding of one’s Thundergod, and to embody in one way or another its driving principles… Though you’re already there as far as grandiose buildup and overwhelming assault goes, so as far as I can tell, you just have the hard part to get through. Actually building the technique, reinforcing your foundation, and…”

“Just tell me how it works, doesn’t matter how hard or time-consuming it is,” Zel pushed after a few seconds’ silence, which turned out to be purely because of a very long drag of the pipe.

“Patience, I’m getting there. We still have eleven minutes or so. The Thundergod Mantle requires extensive foundational reinforcement, and it’s considered best practice - that is to say, it’s the way I did it - to pursue lightning-cutting feats of increasing magnitude in order to expedite the process and, when the time comes, to obtain a sufficiently large Fulguric surge to… Invigorate your Thundergod, so to speak. With modern technology, you could conceivably generate a sufficient discharge using a reactor or somesuch, but, well, the Living Storm is quite literally a few days’ trek.”

“Now, as much as I would love to, it would be a waste of time to share with you the specifics of how I achieved the Mantle,,” she said with a sense of finality, reaching into her sleeve and pulling out a well-worn scroll with a single wooden spool. “But I can just give you this scroll with general guidelines and useful mnemonic records… In exchange for an answer to one of my own questions. What in the seven hells was that “Despot of Self” trick?”

And so, Zelsys took up what little time the Matriarch had remaining with a concise explanation of what it was she had done, showing her the Ivory Scroll and even letting her read it, thinking nothing of it even though she was fully aware that Arnys had likely copied the scroll’s surface-level mnemonic records, and would likely create her own version of the Despot of Self. 

Zel didn’t care, confident that the Matriarch couldn’t conceivably just dig through the scroll’s contents and somehow remember it all. She assumed that even if Arnys possessed some heretofore unknown mnemonic copying magic, she would, at most, get the surface-level mnemonic triggers that assisted with establishing contact. 

It was a mere assumption, but one that happened to be correct, not for lack of effort on Arnys’s part. Even if she held no ill will towards Newman, foreign and possibly unique cultivation methods devised by mysterious desert swordsmen were not something to be passed up. So she marshalled her near-perfect memory to the task, and did, indeed, memorize both the scroll’s written contents as well as the accessible mnemonic records within its spools. Arnys departed in a hurry, just in time to hold up her side of the original deal - vetting would-be sect disciples for further, closer selection by Zelsys herself.

Despite the distinct lack of a request for such accompaniment, Zef’s distinct lack of trust in the Matriarch drove her to follow along to watch over these “vetting” proceedings. While she didn’t suspect anything particular, she just wanted to be sure nothing strange or shady was going on, being that the process would significantly influence the initial pool of recruits.

Thus, the markswoman gave her bruised-to-all-hell counterpart a ginger hug, planted a kiss on her cheek, and departed with nosy intentions.

As Zel sat at the table finishing off the refreshing contents of the pitcher and relishing the knowledge of her body’s inexorable march towards greater strength, she pondered the Storm-soul Scroll, laid rolled up upon the granite surface.

“I’ll read it later. Jorfr’s waiting,” she thought to herself, deciding to just stow the scroll away in Fog Storage for now. As she stood and walked across the mess hall with platter in hand to return the saliva-covered, but otherwise clean dishes to Ozmir’s expert care, the feeling of fullness in her stomach melted away. By the time she even stepped foot into the kitchen for the first time, her stomach already grumbled again. 

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