Chapter 131:

Cultivating the Soul

Mad God


Weeks passed when one day Leinor woke up to Ren’s mumbling. It was still pretty dark but in the study of their home, his wife was kneeling on the floor amongst large towers, made out of books. Before her, dozens of scrolls, torn out pages and crumbled up papers littered the ground. They were filled with scribbles and crossed out paragraphs, decorating them like some weird piece of an art show. She was kneeling over another, unfurled roll of papyrus, writing on it quickly, while her hands left afterimages.


“Yes!” She chuckled suddenly, as her hands stopped and looked up with a grin, sensing Leinor’s arrival.


“What is it?” He yawned, rubbing his eyes, while walking closer to her.


“I finally came up with a solution. Or a half-solution at least!”


“To what?”


“For your brother’s worry! So when morning comes, call him over!”


“Reignar?”


“Yep!” She nodded, tearing part of the papyrus off and looking over it once again. “I created a brand new cultivation method for Orsi.” Ren said as she looked over it with satisfaction. Standing up, she brought the sheet of paper to her table, placing it on top of a dozen others. “With this done, I just need to compile it together, iron out some minor flaws and it is going to be ready!”


“So… would she be… able to live?” Leinor asked carefully but still, excited for both his brother and for Orsi.


“We will see! I don’t know yet, but my guess is yes! This way at least she could expand her remaining years for a really long time! If she diligently works on it. Of course, it won’t be easy. I won’t lie, this is going to be hard. This technique is not something that can be learned easily.” She sat down, rubbing her forehead, smearing ink all over her face with her fingers. “What I created is a technique that is not focusing on the standard way of energy cultivation. Instead of absorbing it to strengthen our body and fuel our spells it is going to nurture the soul. Orsi only has one remaining energy point that has also mutated. Taking the mind control techniques from my maternal line and combining it with what I learnt about souls…” She murmured, trailing off, remembering her previous life’s memories. Back then she was preparing to use her body as a catalyst to open the Sky and send her soul into reincarnation. Her main focus was about guarding her memories from being dissipated by the erosion of time. Everything else was washed away, purifying her soul, only the core essence of what made her into the ‘Mad God’ remained. It was a real rebirth, letting fate take care of it.


“Yes…?” Leinor asked, making Ren flinch, returning her to the present.


“Yes, yes, yes… so! This method is about cultivating the soul. It is still a bit abstract and hard to grasp, but if Orsi can start cultivating it, later on she can perfect and simplify the method with her own experience!”


“A completely new… method? What does this entail?” He asked, curious.


“I don’t know.” Ren grinned, with clear excitement in her voice. “I also want to go and try it out!”


“We could?” Leinor thought out loudly, looking at her writings but it was too convoluted to grasp by just reading it.


“On paper, yes. But I know not where this would lead. Would it later intersect with our method of cultivation? Would it diverge into a completely different way? Damage us? Pose a great boon for us? It’s unknown at this point. What do you know about souls?” She asked instead as she looked at her husband with a grin.


“Not much, only what you and Sect Head told me. Mostly that it is an agglomeration of our consciousness, memories, thoughts and feelings, that controls our body. You also mentioned that this is why some demigods who concentrated on how to control it, could upload their souls into their cores and survive a fight, even if their bodies are destroyed in the process.”


“For a short time only, but yes. But as the core depletes its reserves of energy… the soul inside starts to also lose feelings, memories until it becomes a blank soul, like that of a newborn’s. When the core runs out of energy completely and a new host isn't found for it, then that's it. The soul inside disperses and that is a true death, no chance for reincarnation. Same if the core is destroyed, it destroys the soul too. Even if they find a new host and fuse their cores into it, they may have lost a ton of energy by then, making their cultivation regress a lot.”


“What about the Gods?” Leinor asked, remembering Ren’s tales when she was conducting lessons to the disciples about ancient history and fables.


“Their core can’t run out of energy so… that is why they are called Gods. Essentially, they can store their own souls inside their Godcores for all eternity. Until it is destroyed, they are unkillable. About Immortals… I can’t comment yet, it is new to me, I know nothing about that yet.”


“There aren’t any books about those here huh?” Leinor chuckled, watching the thousands of ancient codices lying around the room. Deep down he was also aware of something else but he never was bothered by it.


“Y-yeah.” Ren nodded, not willing to elaborate on it further. “So, back to the topic! Souls are what you said, a condensed form of the aforementioned properties of a person. When someone dies, his soul, containing his or her consciousness, memories, feelings, is still there after death. It radiates from the person’s body.”


“Really?” Leinor murmured, leaning against the table, completely mesmerized by what he was hearing.


“Yeah, and the higher the person’s cultivation was, the stronger its concentration.” Ren nodded. “Take Sect Head for an example. If somehow he would die, his soul would be there for days to come and if you have a strong cultivation, you could perceive it or even converse with it.”


“I bet he just woke up with a strong sneeze…” Her husband chuckled.


“Nah, he does not sleep!” Ren waved her hands “He probably went and met up with Lady Rumira and they are having a date or something. He always visits her when there is nothing to do.” Rolled her eyes with a grin. “Of course he leaves with the pretense that he just goes and visits Poli so he doesn’t cause a ruckus with Emi in the foxes’ village.”


“Heh, a valid point, to be honest!”


“Anyway, if you don’t have a strong cultivation but you cultivated your soul by my new method…” She tapped on her papers. “You could also perceive them. Or even interact with them. As this cultivation focuses on strengthening the soul!”


“So those who master it could speak with the dead?”


“Kinda. Only if the dead person was strong enough to leave behind a concentrated enough existence. Or he or she did not blow himself up alongside it. Still, the conversation would be short because after the body dies the soul rapidly loses its functions as there is no host to bind it itself to. Feelings and memories evaporate like water from a boiling pot. When everything is gone and it reverts back to nothing but a fresh, clean soul, it becomes ready for reincarnation. After who knows how much time, it is reborn into a new body, starting its life anew. As to how much time this takes, it depends on luck.”


“Going by this, you and I had different lives before?” Leinor smiled, listening to her theory and even if it was hard for him to imagine or accept it, he never doubted her words.


“Yeah. But don’t worry, those lives, whatever they were, are irrelevant for us, being here today. It had a start and it had its end. This life is what matters!”


“I can’t argue with that!” He laughed, kissing her on the lips. “So, with this method Orsi could cultivate her soul? But how will it help her body to survive? The main problem is that her body is breaking down, no?”


“It is breaking down because of two things: One; Her energy points are destroyed and our world is filled with it. There are no mechanisms inside her that could process it. It goes inside her and just flows through, without the correct channels, wrecking her body.” She raised her fingers up to him. “Two; Without them, her soul can’t anchor itself properly. Only inside her head, and it can be overwhelming. That is what causes her headaches.”


“I don’t think I follow you…”


“We are going to strengthen her soul to the point she can control the energy flow inside her body. Without her energy channels. Let it flow through her seamlessly and not damage the body. She wouldn’t be able to absorb it directly but she wouldn’t be destroyed by it either. Okay, it is a bit more complicated than that, and she is going to absorb energy, only she is going to do it directly into her own soul… and it is going to hurt a lot at first and be very dangerous but… semantics, semantics! Let’s not focus on that now! She can avoid death and become strong and who knows what later on! That is what matters!” She clapped with excitement.


“I don’t think Reignar is going to understand half of it… not to mention Orsi, she is still a kid.”


“Don’t underestimate her.” Ren giggled. “She is more mature than you would think! Have you seen them? She wrapped your brother around her fingers and made him dance to her tune perfectly!”


“Honestly? I hope so!” Leinor laughed at that loudly.


“I’ll go over it a few more times and help her start cultivating. It is going to be a slow process. Ironing out any problems that may prop up can only be done step by step. Yet this is going to be good! If it goes as I think it will, we are also going to have new methods for the disciples to cultivate secondary skills or spells. Maybe we are going to discover a new batch of geniuses who are adept with controlling souls? Even maybe… capturing or extracting them?”


“Woah, woah, slow down my dear!” Leinor said as he flicked Ren’s forehead. “That sounds extremely wicked and evil! Don’t do that!”


“Ah… well… yeah, you are right… that really did sound bad, saying it out loud.” She nodded, sticking out her tongue.


“Let’s… let us not do that? ‘Kay?”


“Ooookay…” She giggled, stretching. “That was also just a hypothesis! I don’t know if that is even possible! Let’s eat something, I’m starving!” She waved her hand, but it was not that convincing to hear.


“Okay, go, wash yourself, my little racoon, I’ll cook up something!” He kissed the top of her head before leaving the study. Ren quickly looked into a mirror, recognizing that she was really looking like one, painted with ink all over her face, making her chuckle.


….

…..


It was far, far away from the Immortal Wonders Sect, at the other side of the extensive Western Desert. The sun just rose up from the east when Ophila stood up inside her chamber. She was finishing her cultivation for the night, walking out onto her balcony. She was watching the morning mist, still covering her sect of The Lotus Mandala. Only the highest towers of her Sect reached above the milky clouds that permeated the valley her sect was established in. The air was filled with the smell of freshly watered grass and the chirping of birds, waking up from their sleep. A moment later a strong ripple swept across the land, disturbing the fog, like when someone drops a rock into a still lake.


“Oh?” She tilted her head, taking a step forward and she was already inside another building, down in the bottom of the valley. Before her, Levictus was standing inside a formation. Blue, ethereal light danced around him as complex, shining runes swirled above the formation on the ground, numbering in the thousands. “Not bad! You are only a step away from the Demigod realm! Your progress is stunning. It wasn’t long ago that you reached Perfect Harmony. I did not expect you to advance this fast!” Ophila laughed while the runes slowly started to rotate and were absorbed into Levictus’s chest. He stayed silent, performing different signs with his fingers, ignoring her completely. After a quarter of an hour passed, the runes finally dimmed and dispersed, while the formation went silent and dull under him once again.


“Master.” He opened his eyes, greeting her, cupping his hands.


“Are you trying to embed a formation onto your core?” Ophila asked as she raised an eyebrow.


“Yes.” Levictus nodded. “It would make it possible to access formations without the need for outside resources in a battle. Quickly and efficiently.”


“You are fearless.” She smiled, shaking her head. “One wrong move and you can kill yourself.”


“I made the necessary steps to prevent that.”


“I guessed so.” Ophila smiled. “By the way, I finished it.” She spoke up, producing a rolled up paper.


“Is it stable?” Some resemblance of feelings appeared on his stoic face and in his eyes.


“Only for one.” Ophila raised her finger towards him. “It can teleport one living being under the demigod realm back and forth every 5 years. It needs at least that much time to regenerate the energy needed for the transfer.”


“Then I can contact Father.” He whispered, holding his own chin, furrowing his brows, thinking silently for a little while. “He should still have one remaining consumable teleport scroll for me to send over the completed formation plan and resources so they can construct the portal on their end.”


“It is your decision.” Ophila said. “You have free reign to do as you wish.” She added, passing it to him.


“The only question is whether there is anyone at my Father’s side who can build it. I can contact him with our bloodline connection but not for long… and explaining it would be impossible.” He murmured quietly.


“It is your problem to solve.” Ophila smiled, as she firmly believed that without problems to face, nobody can advance.


“I’ll send him the necessary tools. When they build their part, I’ll try it out myself. It will be time to go home and visit the one who could build it and take him or her as my disciple.”


“You are too strict when it comes to talent… well, it is not my problem.” She shook her head. “As I said, you are your own man, do as you see fit! I’ll trust your decision. But I’ll be gone for a few years and I may not be here when you leave.”


“Where are you going Master?”


“I am going to meet with my brothers. We… we need to find someone.”


“Someone?” Levictus tilted his head, a little bit confused.


“Our Master. He has returned. We all felt it a few years ago. A lot of god worshiping demigods are already out and searching the lands after him. We need to beat them to him. If he is found before he could defend himself, we would be failures as disciples!” Ophila answered with strong conviction in her voice.


“The Mad God…” Levictus murmured. He knew the stories, coming straight from his Master multiple times. “I wish you luck, Master.” he cupped his hands, bowing towards her.


“Heh, thanks! I am proud of you boy! Next time we meet, I expect you to be a demigod.” She stepped closer, caressing his face before disappearing.


“Mad God…” he whispered, walking out from his room, into the slowly dispersing fog as the lush valley revealed itself in the morning sunlight. “I wonder what kind of person he is.” He asked himself as he looked up at the Sky. He was watching the Tear that he could now see from anywhere. “I wonder if he plans to reopen that stitched wound up there…” An almost invisible smile crept up on his face, before walking off to collect the needed resources he had to send over to his father in hopes that they could build the teleportation portal on their side without his help.