Chapter 115:

Cultivating Under A Master

Mad God

Ariana was surrounded by complete darkness. Wherever she looked she only saw the pitch black abyss. She couldn’t tell if she was looking up or down, left or right. She was lost and couldn’t say how long she had been here. Sometimes she felt like falling or sinking deeper and deeper into the ink-like ocean but in another instance, she could swear she was ascending upwards. Although it was dark, when she looked down, she could see her own, naked body clearly. Even move it, however she wanted.

“Where…” She thought as her memories were fuzzy, only remembering fragments. Her own name, age but everything else was shrouded by a foggy mist inside her head.

“It’s your fault!” resonated suddenly a female voice inside the emptiness, startling Ariana.

“My… fault?” She asked back, confused, when another, male voice emerged.

“Yes! If you were not there, we would have survived! Why did we find you?! I curse the day!”

“There… where…? My… fault…?” Ariana whispered as the darkness slowly started to change and two, hazy looking figures appeared in the distance.

Their faces were obscured by gray clouds but as Ariana looked at them, she could see a faint image behind them. It was the inside of a rundown shack. The windows were boarded with planks, nailed onto the walls, yet the cold wind still could blow through the cracks. It brought in flakes of snow from the outside, chilling the room.

Two people were huddling together, under a single blanket, in ragged clothes, filled with holes and patchworks. Between them a third figure, a small child slept, wrapped up in different, thrown out clothes as the adults tried to keep her warm. Ariana could clearly feel as life left the adults’ bodies, preserving the little one’s… hers. The two, faceless figures continued to blame her, over and over again but Ariana’s face became calm as she looked away from the image finally, turning towards ‘them’.

“No.” She shook her head with a painful yet firm voice. “They would never blame me for this. You two are not my parents. You are just my guilt!” She took a deep breath, closing her eyes, remembering their faces, voices and the warmth she always felt coming from them. Even though they were not related by blood, they were her parents. “I always blamed myself… I still do sometimes.” She continued, opening her eyes once again and the two figures were gone by now, replaced by her mirror image. Her other self looked depressed and hopeless, her hair was unkempt, having deep, black bags under her eyes, wearing rags as clothes. “But I know it was not my fault. I won’t let it drag me down.” She stretched out her arms, hugging the beaten down version of herself closer. “Don’t blame yourself… they wouldn’t blame you either.” Ariana whispered before suddenly waking up.

She was sitting cross-legged on a formation, inside a dimly lit room. Black mist twirled around her naked body, visible to anyone’s eyes. Ren was standing before her with crossed arms, overseeing her cultivation, while Ariana held a fist sized Element Shard, that was used awakening affinities in the old system. Now, infused with CC, thanks to Aerthus’s technique, it had a far more potent usage. It was able to amplify the user’s affinity to let it break through to the surface completely, easily helping anyone’s full awakening, at any age.

“Good. You woke up by yourself. I did not need to help you.” Ren smiled with an approving look. “How do you feel?”

“Horrible.” She answered honestly, small drops of tears glistening in her eyes. “It was a dark and painful experience seeing it again... Yet I could stay calm and think rationally. Am I… weird?” She asked with a bit of fear as the dark clouds slowly dispersed around her, retreating into her shadow and skin.

“No.” Ren shook her head. “You are strong. Here…” She crouched before her, gently tapping her chest then her forehead. “And here. Others would be overwhelmed, but you can keep your mind clear. Few can do what you did just now.”

“I still feel like crying…” Ariana smiled helplessly but also happiness washed over her after Ren’s praise.

“Then cry. It is not a sin.” She rubbed her head gently. “You are sensitive, even oversensitive to dark thoughts and feelings. Be it depression, rage or despair. Your road won’t be easy, so we need to strengthen your soul and mind to be resilient! Even more so than your body. That way, you won’t be overwhelmed by others' negative emotions!”

“I dreamt about it… when crossing the bridge!” She said.

“I saw it. I went to my Master and asked for your recollection. He has everyone’s stored away and I watched yours. You can collect, siphon and store others' negative emotions and thoughts, then reuse them, powering your future spells with it.”

“Am I a monster, Master?” Ariana asked with fear as hearing about it was terrifying for her.

“No. Have you ever heard about a monster, who would go and free people from their sufferings? Because I didn’t! Quite the opposite in fact, you could be seen as an angel.” Ren grinned.

“Hauh…” She blushed completely, lowering her head, hiding behind her hair.

“Ahahaha~” Ren laughed, continuing to stroke her head. “But as I said. You need to be strong and I’ll try to help you keep your soul’s purity. It is easy to taint it if you come in contact with negative thoughts constantly and they start to overwhelm you.”

“I am not afraid, if Master is with me.”

“Ahaha, good girl~” She chuckled again, before helping her up from the ground.

“Master, how am I going to train my mind?”

“You’re lucky to have me as your Master!” She pointed at her own, violet eyes. “I’ll place small illusions on your mind while you cultivate. It is always going to be a different experience and they won’t be pleasant, so I need to warn you in advance! But they are going to be controlled environments, overseen by me.”

“It’s… a bit… scary.”

“It is. But relax, I had years to develop it and it is safe by now!” Ren patted her shoulders. “I’m not here to break you! I want to build you up! For now, come, let’s get you dressed in your new uniform and I’ll bring you to meet your senior sister and brother! It is already morning!”

“It is?!” She blinked her eyes, completely surprised. “But I… feel refreshed!”

“Of course you are! This is my cultivation room. If you get tired here I’d be ashamed!” Ren laughed loudly before leading her out of the room, helping her clean up and get dressed. Just like a mother would help her daughter.

When they finally walked out of Ren’s house Lulu and Yanda were waiting for them outside. While Yanda was standing calmly and even proudly, radiating strength, Lulu was clearly sulking with folded arms.

“What’s the long face for?” Ren chuckled, seeing her like that.

“Master, you did not mention at all he advanced to the 9th stage!” Lulu groaned.

“Ahaha, because I wasn’t sure he could do it! He exited from the storm at the top of 8th but as I see now, you did go all out after that, huh?” Rennodded with a satisfied expression at Yanda.

“It’s all thanks to you, Master!” Yanda cupped his hands, bowing deeply.

“Really? I just pushed you onto the right track, sometimes nudging you forward a bit more, that's all! I can’t work with rotten wood and you showed us you are not one! So be proud of yourself! You only have the final hurdle before you and after crossing it, you are no longer my disciple but your own man!” Ren laughed, hugging him.

“I’ll always be your disciple, Master.” Yanda answered with a gentle smile, speaking from his heart.

“I prefer if you look at me as a family member, instead of a Master.” She shook her head before turning towards Lulu. “Cheer up, if there is a perfect place for you to immerse yourself in cultivation, you can bet I’ll take you there! You are not that far behind, close to the 8th stage!”

“Uuu…” Lulu moaned, lowering her head, stealing a look at Yanda. “Hey, if you advance to the Harmony Realm before me… will you make me your slave?” She asked with a somewhat weak voice and hurried breaths.

Ren just rolled her eyes while Yanda was not even surprised. The only person who was taken aback was Ariana as she only felt boiling excitement and a somewhat twisted desire, coming from Lulu.

“M-master…” She whispered to Ren but she just shook her head, looking at Ariana.

“Leave it. It’s better if you ignore their feelings for each other completely. They are in a complicated relationship.”

“We are not.” Yanda spoke up quickly, after hearing her words.

“Yes we are!” Lulu countered.

“We are siblings under the same Master. That is all.” Yanda said as he crossed his arms.

“I can call you Big Bro~ if you wish!” She tilted her head, speaking with an innocent voice making Yanda visibly shiver.

“Okay, leave your flirting for another place!” Ren interjected, ending their squabble. “I called you here to introduce to you your youngest sister, Ariana. From today on she is my newest disciple!”

“Greetings, Senior Sister, Senior Brother!” Ariana bowed respectfully.

“If you need anything, just come to us!” Yanda nodded, coming close and hugging her, which was repeated by Lulu.

“Yup! If it’s something you can’t share with him, just find me~” Lulu winked at her “I can lend you some fun things too, if you are into-” but she couldn’t finish it because Ren zapped her buttocks with a spark of electricity. “Ouch! Master!”

“Enough fooling around! I also have a mission for you two!” She said, rolling her eyes.

“Yes!” Both of them replied at the same time.

“There is going to be another shipment of pills towards your family, Lulu. You both are to go and guard it personally.”

“You expect trouble, Master?” Yanda asked as he raised his eyebrows.

“I leaked that I’ll send my two disciples out with it. So yes, I do.” Ren nodded.

“Oh, we are the bait?” Lulu giggled, not looking angry at all.

“Yes.” Ren admitted to it immediately. “Usually the shipment is guarded by Inner Disciples. They had only inconsequential troubles before, mainly some bandits or what not. But we are expecting something bigger now. I don’t think the fact that my Mother survived is something they are fine with, so an opportunity like this must be tempting.”

“Sounds fun, I’m getting excited!” Lulu laughed, while Yanda was completely calm, just nodding at Ren’s words.

“Relax. You won’t be in real danger.”

“You coming too, Master?” Yanda asked.

“No. I’ll be training Ariana and taking care of Mom. But I’m not the only one who has a deep grudge. My father has way more pent up anger than me! He will be following you in secret. Try to capture some of them alive, okay?”

“Understood!” Lulu and Yanda said at the same time.

“Good! The goods are going to be on their way tomorrow dawn. Get ready!”

“Yes!” Both of them cupped their hands before saying goodbye to Ariana and leaving.

“It sounds dangerous.” Ariana murmured after they left.

“It is, but I have 100% confidence in their abilities and in my Father. I wouldn’t send them out otherwise. Also, this is going to be a great showcase for those, who may witness the fight. If there are going to be any.”

“Showcase? Why?” She asked, tilting her head.

“Oh, yes… you disciples are still oblivious about it. The world’s second sect is about to be formed in the Kingdom.”

“Another… Sect?” She blinked her eyes with a surprised expression. Then she started to frown as she thought about it more.

“Don’t strain your mind with it! They are always going to be that.”

“Be… what?”

“2nd.” Ren grinned with a playful expression.