Prologue or the death of a scholar
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Empire of Cailan in 2378 after the founding of the empire.

 

He felt his spirit, growing beyond the resistance he had felt so far. How this pierced some kind of outer membrane, pouring into a new space beyond. How the feeling of closeness that had accompanied him the last years of his life fell away from him. Or had it already been decades?

With the removal of this resistance, he progressed from the ninth to the tenth step. According to legends, he had now left behind his life as a normal mortal man and had come one step closer to the gods. This was the result of his research, which was based on written legends, eyewitness accounts, and simpler oral legends. At least, that's what the legends say, which always agreed that with reaching the tenth level, every user of arcane energy left behind his mortality.

Even if these legends themselves were probably several millennia older than the empire itself. For generations, there had not been a cultivator who had managed to rise to level ten. Which makes them assigned to myths and legends, or simply said fairy tales.

Also that he himself, probably one of the few people who had ever reached a higher level than six. Had hung on the threshold of the tenth for decades, made it seem unreal.

Not that he had always worked towards this goal. But over time, an initial necessity became a passion. With a desire burning in him that he acquired this knowledge. Which could be extinguished only by knowledge. Even if it swelled afterward to always new size.

As a user of Arcane Energy of the Mind in a society dominated by Arcane Users of the Will and Body, the need for a technique to accumulate Arcane Energy of the Mind had become necessary. He had to find his own way of accumulating Arcane Energy of the Mind. To do this, he looked at the methods of the arcane users and tried to find out as much as possible. As far as he could with his eyes and his initially limited senses. With those who were willing, he had talked then as well as later in his life. And slowly, piece by piece, he had put together a picture.

A picture that became clearer and clearer with each new piece of information. One with whose help he had worked out his own method. Even though he was already a man in his mid-thirties at that time. In the end, he had taken a path that many before him and many after him would take.

Now with the passing of the ninth level, a process that makes any Arcane user vulnerable, his body and mind began to grow into their new power. He noticed how his spirit was strengthened, how his senses became sharper. How they perceived more and more details of the world in which he lived. Which had the inevitable effect that the flame of knowledge that burned within him and his decades of research into arcane energies and arcane itself, created new theories.

That once read works came back into his mind or that the new information which he got from his, still improving senses, led to new theses from himself. But now with a de facto new life, as the legends said. A never-tiring mind and the accompanying new power, which he felt welling up inside him, these were no longer just theories or wishful thinking. No, he would be able to test them and record the results to build on them. To find new approaches, new ways of using arcane energy.

Maybe not on himself anymore, but he would find a suitable student if that was necessary. He doubted that he would make it again if he reset his advance. A new pupil, however, would mean that if he wanted to achieve the same result as with himself, he would need a pupil who resembled him in all.

With the power he felt flowing through him thanks to the level advancement, he was sure he could accomplish this. He was convinced of that at this very moment. The possibilities seemed unlimited to him and made in a little anticipation of the future. A feeling which he no longer knew. Not reaching the tenth level and the accompanying feeling of confinement, a feeling which drove many arcane users mad.

While all these whole thoughts went through his mind at an incredible speed. Supplied him his still growing senses new information and never before known impressions. The new impressions his body and senses gave him about the world were immense, no comparison to his perception before crossing the ninth to the tenth step. The amount of information, which he seemed to have perceived only incompletely before, was now added, helping him to get such a much clearer picture of his world.

Which, of course, raised the question in some part of his mind, was there more? Or would his perception continue to be supplemented with further levels of ascension, as he had experienced so far? Even though none of his previous level ascents were comparable to this one.

Feeling euphoria, he realized what his still growing perception was capable of. The simultaneous perception of even the smallest change in the wooden floor or the supporting beams of the ceiling. Without having to concentrate on them in particular. The same was true for the insects that made his property and courtyard unsafe. The provincial capital Ampbruck from which he could take information in a kind of globe. Which surrounding his estate, in which he could perceive the guards. Which patrolled the city walls and streets.

In general, his connection to his environment was stronger than it had been with his own level nine core earlier. The new level of perception made him sense any connection in his environment between animals, humans, plants, and the three Arcane Energies, or lack thereof. His mental map, on which the minds of other people and living beings were reflected in his own, had also expanded enormously, as had his senses.

While parts of his mind were still wrestling with the new impressions and ideas, even getting lost in them, others devising new ways, or following his new sensory perceptions to their origins. He noticed his new better connection to the arcane energies and with what ease this followed his will. This new connection and the new impressions and information he gained through it. Confirmed a thesis, which he had developed over the past years.

That there was a possibility that a person with the right conditions could accumulate and use all three arcane energies. But this vague idea became reality with every passing moment. He was now sure that this was possible. At least that there was a chance.

With all these thoughts racing through his mind at an unprecedented speed, an ever-widening smile crept onto his features. So many new possibilities and so much time, but so little time to pursue it all.

At that moment, when he became a human. Which crossed the step of his life prolonged by accumulating and climbed the stage that watered gods and mortals. Did it come to pass that the dagger of an assassin chose that very moment to bore into his heart, while another blade cut his throat.

The three sisters really had a strange sense of humor. He must have been the butcher of the Iliesen in his previous life to die like that now.

His increased self-healing did not keep up with the wound inflicted on him. Which in itself was an impressive fact. Part of his mind suspected a potent toxin that was working against his self-healing. Another part wondered how the assassin had gotten to him in the first place. Which only allowed the assumption that this was one of the few living people who was level ten or even higher. Which was disconcerting, since only knew himself, who had ascended to level ten and had never met anyone else.

He tried to estimate the strength of his attacker and was surprised when he managed to do so. His attacker was level seven, which was a small achievement in itself. When you consider that most people didn't make it past five.

But was this not the reason why he had been inconspicuous and had escaped his senses. If his weapons had allowed him to injure him, then his amulet had hidden him from his senses. In addition, he was in a level ascent and his mind was flooded with new information. So an easy one for a skilled assassin at his level. He had to admit that he had felt too safe, almost unassailable, with his new power. A simple case of hubris.

Probably one of the noble factions within the empire or a foreign power that wanted him out of the game. Before they made their next big move.

Dying was a strange experience, his body, which was still full of energy from his level advancement. Struggled to repair the done damage. But was also still using the new energy to strengthen his body, the same could be said about his mind and soul. This had suffered no damage like his body and did not try to repair themselves. But it was also in the process of strengthening and had not yet reached its full potential.

He only marginally felt how his body was laid down on the floor. Another new sense-impression had come to the fore. Slowly, his outward-facing senses were drawn inward into his body until he could work only with his normal senses of touch, hearing, smell, and sight. But even this one became weaker and weaker the more his body lost the fight against death. His self was pulled, as it seemed to him, through his core, where he experienced a sight which he had thought impossible.

Philosophers, theologians, kings, nobles, and ordinary people all try to explain to themselves and also to others what was waiting for them in the end. There were different explanations, from each God to his believers. And of course, only he was right unless he belonged to a pantheon of gods, then they mostly had one and the same image, they preached. But what his mind saw here, at this moment, had nothing to do with anything he had ever heard or read. It seemed like a glass globe, with a thought he turned and saw his lying form on the floor and the assassin a few meters away. Which was going through the books on his bookshelf.

A light laugh escaped his throat, which, given his physical condition, caused a gush of blood. Which poured over his body and parts of the floor and covered them with blood. The assassin then turned to his body lying on the floor, his attention obviously torn away from his books. He could perceive what was happening through the floor, as if through a pane of glass, as well as through his fading senses. During all this time, his mind had been drawn further and further into the interior of the glass globe.

Towards a huge sun in its center. From which veins, that resembled human veins, protruding to the surface of the glass globe. They also reminded him of trees when they reached the surface. No, the whole resembled more meridians, which transported energies to the surface. Instead of transporting them to the core as in a body, these meridians transported arcane energies to the surface of the arcane. The more his mind glided through his own core, the more he had his senses together.

Down here under the glass surface of Arcana. He could perceive the energies emanating from the meridians, some leading only Arcane Energy of the Body or Arcane Energy of the Will to the surface, others leading all three Arcane Energies to the surface. There was a pulsation coming from these meridians as if the energies in them were fighting. He could also see areas on the glass surface where the environment was flooded with arcane energy. Also, could he make out the individual beings and how they interacted with those energy and absorbed energy even those who did not. Because they could not use arcane energies.

Meanwhile, the assassin had moved closer to his dying body. "Where are your notes, old man?" That was such a ridiculous gesture of his. To ask a dying man, whose throat he had cut. After his collected notes, his legacy to the world, so to speak.

That he had to start laughing. He felt how he lost the feeling in his body. How his natural senses slowly left him. His sight and hearing were getting worse, also the iron taste on his tongue was getting weaker and from his sense of touch, only the feeling of the ground was left, which was getting less and less.

With each passing moment, his senses became duller. The assassin asked him something again, something he couldn't understand anymore.

Meanwhile, his mind was now almost at the sun in the center of the glass globe. Where he got to feel what real pure arcane energies felt like. That was what he perceived. It was a single ball of arcane energies in eternal conflict with each other. Where these energies collided, struggling for their control with each other, exploding outward. With what became new meridians. It also appeared as if these were colored by it. As they came into contact with one or more elements, in their ascent. Thus, the arcane energies seemed to get their elemental coloration. With which it can be found on the surface and also in living beings. Whether this was further influenced by the meridians, he did not know. But he had the assumption that the way which the arcane energy took could color this further. Through which, this also could be colored first or was colored more strongly.

He, meanwhile, was drawn into this ball of Pure Arcane energies. He actually expected his end, but that was not so, no. He noticed how his spirit was already connected with his new body. As he slowly lost his connection to his old body and life, his connection to his new body and life grew. He realized that he was still in the stage of establishing his level-ten core. This was despite the fact that he was dying.

He could feel his new body benefiting from it. His senses told him that he was about to develop the same physique as his old body. He also felt energy flowing from this huge sphere to his new body, which he was also flowing toward? Or drifting towards? How he was moving down here was unclear to him. But that his new body had shown potential for Arcane Energy of the body to a point where his mind was closer and thus had influenced it to Arcane Energy of the mind. Was obvious by the started meridian system for arcane energy of the body.

This gave him an idea to try to redirect the energies of the great arcane energy sun and save his body. After a few moments of futile attempts which seemed to lead nowhere, he had to give up. With some frustration he had surrendered to his fate, time seemed to pass differently than it did on the surface of Arkan. It seemed to him as if he had an eternity.

Now, as he watched his new body evolve, he saw it rise through the levels and adapt to the arcane energy of his mind. He wondered if he could influence its development. After some back and forth, he was able to achieve his first successes.

It would be advantageous for him if his new body had the same or an improved physique. One which would be already familiar to him. Now that he was there and could see how he could shape his new body, he tried his thesis. He tried to create a body that could use all three arcane energies. To his great joy, it became easier and easier for him to control the arcane energies. Also, after he had started manipulating the Arcanic energies, they seemed to continue on their own. Without any intervention on his part. This whole development of his own body with its own meridian system and core was a fascinating experience. One which almost comforted him over his death.

He was sure that if the arcane energies had not known how to implement his every will, then he would not have succeeded with this body. He had spent his entire life trying to learn everything there was to learn about arcane energies. But this first-hand experience that he could have now was priceless. Where he could optimize his body, watch it develop from seemingly nothing to a finished body. To a small infant, which still rests in the womb of its mother.

Were experiences and knowledge, which he would never have been able to experience. He saw at least no possibility, how he should have collected these experiences in his old life. The physis and the core like the meridian system, all this he had created himself. Self-directed, as far as he had to and could.

A body that had a meridian system for all arcane energies, as well as a corresponding core from birth. Now, when he went through this process of immersing himself in his new body, his old body finally died.

His old human shell, to which he had been connected until now, was no more. The world would think that he had died, but only his body had died. A burst of unheard laughter sounded down here, by the Arcane Sun.

He had survived, by miraculous way with his intact mind. Alls so now the last connection to his old body was soaked and he was pulled by the sun inside the globe, to his new body.

He also felt how the power, which had built up around him and in him. In a coat of the power manifested. His mind was drawn towards the small new body faster and faster with every heartbeat. Until he finally broke through the glass surface and immersed himself in his new body.

Here his spirit was caught up again by the strains of the body but also by his spiritual ones and so he sank into darkness. With his last thoughts, that he could now use all other arcane energies. He surrendered to this exhaustion.

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