Editor: Dhael Ligerkeys
Ju Jia’s exceptional talent should not be allowed to go to waste.
Ju Jia cracked into a silly grin at Lu Ye’s question. His hand wandered to his belly and he tapped himself there. “Here! For storage!”
“What do you mean?”
Ju Jia scratched his head. Struggling to answer the question, he decided to just demonstrate. He gave himself a punch into his gut and regurgitated something out of his mouth.
Something ochre-brown and round like a spherical marble.
Lu Ye stared at the odd sight blankly.
[How could Ju Jia be hiding something like this in his stomach?!]
“What is this?”
Ju Jia tossed the tiny round thing at Lu Ye, who quickly caught it. The latter examined it closely and something that Shui Yuan had told him about some time ago popped in his mind.
A Mutant Core!?
Lu Ye had heard about how Spirit Beasts would form something called a Mutant Core inside their bodies upon reaching the Cloud River Realm. Their power would henceforth be drawn from the Cores. To humans, Mutant Cores had a variety of uses in the brewing of pills and the forging of Spirit Artifacts among all others, including the erecting of magical wards.
What sat at the very center of his palm looked awfully like one.
[Wait, so Ju Jia’s a Spirit Beast turned Mutant?!]
But nothing suggested that he was one. He appeared every bit a sound and proper human and he had none of the traits that usual Mutant Cultivators exhibited. So, if this wasn’t a Mutant Core, then what could it be?
He looked more carefully again. The surface of the marble wasn’t as smooth as he expected; countless tiny protrusions littered every millimeter of the small orb, giving it a coarse surface.
Finding no sign that would remotely illuminate him as to what this tiny item really was, Lu Ye tried channeling his power into it and his face contorted almost immediately.
He detected huge amounts of power contained inside the marble—Spiritual Power so vast and so pure that if forcefully released, it could be destructive and deadly.
Lu Ye quickly withdrew his powers to prevent triggering any unwanted eruption.
Then again, he realized how valuable this marble must be to Ju Jia. Yet the lumbering giant of a man just willingly tossed it to him, unhesitatingly and unwaveringly. The extent of trust he had for Lu Ye made Lu Ye feel rather pleased and touched.
Lu Ye pondered over what Ju Jia was saying earlier and came to a conclusion, “So, the power that you draw during your meditation, you store in here?”
“That’s right,” Ju Jia nodded.
“And you can tap into it whenever you need to?”
“Whenever I need to, yes.”
Lu Ye exhaled. [Incredible], he thought.
He had seen quite a lot of items and instruments with abilities and functions to store Spiritual Power. Weapons too depended on Glyph: Spirit Bank to temporarily save up small amounts of Spiritual Power inside for extended periods of Telekinesis.
But one could construct and conjure all the Glyph: Spirit Bank they wanted, but they would ever come close to competing against the unbelievably vast amounts of Spiritual Power stored inside this marble that had been sitting inside Ju Jia’s belly.
That was the answer to the mystery of why Ju Jia had been meditating even though he did not have a Heaven-grade cultivation discipline. The marble would absorb every shred of Spiritual Power he gathered and store it for future use.
Power that he could arbitrarily tap into whenever he needed from within this strange marble.
In other words, Ju Jia might have reserves of Spiritual Power far beyond any other Spirit Creek Realm Cultivator—including those who had already begun using Heaven-grade cultivation disciplines.
For two to three years Ju Jia had been stuck in the Ninth-Order without any observable progress. One could barely comprehend how much Spiritual Power he had amassed inside this marble.
Nevertheless, this particular method brought something to Lu Ye’s notice, Ju Jia’s progress might have been stymied by his lack of a Heaven-grade cultivation discipline, but he did not allow that to be any hindrance to his meditation. His patience in training had never once waned. All he needed was just a suitable cultivation method that he could work with and he could well rely on all the Spiritual Power he had been storing up until now to break through as many Spiritual Points as possible to catch up.
Lu Ye peered at Ju Jia, feeling breathless with awe. [Where did Sima Yang find this freak of nature?!]
[He’s a talent that the Crimson Blood Sect cannot afford to let slip past its fingers!]
Lu Ye held the tiny marble in his hand for a while longer. Still unable to divine what it really was, he just gave it back to Ju Jia.
Whatever it was, he had now concluded that it was no Mutant Core. In fact, its value far outstripped that of usual Mutant Cores. This, if were to be seen by others, might invite trouble, especially from those who coveted this item.
“You need to be careful, Ju Jia, and not flippantly show this around. Did Sima Yang not tell you about this before?”
“He did,” Ju Jia responded curtly as he swallowed the marble back into his belly. The same melancholy that haunted him earlier reared its head once more at the mention of Sima Yang and Ju Jia hung his head somberly.
Lu Ye retrieved a big slab of meat.
Ju Jia took it and that seemed to be the trick to lift his spirits.
The following day, Lu Ye was at the small enclosure of his cottage. He placed both his hands on the ground and channeled his power continuously. A brilliant glob of light shone beneath his palms, just over the ground, before radiant, silvery lines began to spread from the light, bursting farther and wider into a gossamer network of intelligible runes.
The webs of undecipherable runes and lines stretched for a radius of several meters wide.
Next, the luminescence vanished abruptly as if nothing had been happening just seconds before. But anyone that could perceive Spiritual Power could feel the emanation of spiritual forces there.
“Lu Ye, is that a magical ward?” Yi Yi, who had been watching from the side with an idea of what he was up to, asked.
“Mmhmm,” Lu Ye responded, getting up to his feet. He extracted a ponderous and thickset tome from inside his Storage Bag, which he referred to briefly before he nodded approvingly as if to himself. [Done], he thought. Some results at last. What he had just done was a testament to what he had learned after so long. He finally harnessed enough knowledge about Glyphs to construct magical wards using his own Spiritual Power.
Of course, without something to provide proper anchorage like a ward keystone, the magical ward he just constructed could be easily defeated.
But this was nevertheless a good start. One small step in his study, but a giant leap for his overall strength; he had finally achieved elementary success in the study of ward-casting.
“Ju Jia,” Lu Ye called.
“Ah, right!” Ju Jia yelped as he awoke from his stupor. He too had just been watching from beside.
“Go ahead and try. But don’t channel your power.”
Constructing the magical ward might have worked, but it was still very weak. All it would take was for Ju Jia to channel his power and the ward would fail.
This was not unlike what caused Lu Ye to restructure his Glyph: Gathering Spirits to prevent it from failing at the first contact with excessive pressures of Spiritual Qi.
It took altering the magical circle of the Glyph into tiny little funnels and that seemed to have solved the problem.
“All right,” Ju Jia responded, marching forward.
“Slowly!” Lu Ye urged. Too fast or too forceful and the ward could vanish.
Ju Jia froze with his foot halfway in mid-air. At a glacial pace, the foot came down very carefully, all the while searching Lu Ye’s face cautiously for any response. Only after Lu Ye nodded, did he finally move his other foot.
That wasn’t easy at all; he nearly had a cramp because of this.
That took a couple of minutes before he finally reached the center of the magical ward’s area. The shiny lines on the ground that had vanished earlier pulsed with life once more like unextinguished embers, emanating with Spiritual Power before a blast surged at Ju Jia.
Remembering Lu Ye’s instruction to not channel any of his Spiritual Power, Ju Jia just stood there, taking the blast with his body.
When the dust settled, he scratched the back of his head innocently with a dubious look on his face.
“Pffftt!” Yi Yi nearly burst out laughing. The blast was just so weak that even a Fifth-Order could easily have done better.
The sprawl of shiny lines and runes that fanned the ground gradually ebbed away at the completion of the blast, the entire magical ward disintegrating into sparkling dregs that dissipated into the atmosphere.
Lu Ye kept a long and thoughtful look on his face, transfixed at where the magical ward was. He was not at all surprised by the potency—or rather, the lack thereof—of the magical ward; after all, he was still a novice with a long way to go. Constructing this ward itself took several Glyphs, including Glyph: Deatharc, the Glyph that fired the blast at Ju Jia.
Because of his studies, Lu Ye could now construct Glyphs which were not part of his original assortment of Glyphs from his Tree of Glyphs. But these Glyphs that he learned from the many materials Lady Yun lent him require time to master. Still unstable and weak, it would still take some time of training and practice before he could properly use them in battle.
Hence Lu Ye thought of trying them on magical wards.
This was the first time Lu Ye tried his hand at erecting magic wards and it was feeble, obviously, from Yi Yi’s outburst and reaction.
But anyone who knew better, especially Ward Cultivators, would gulp hard with shock. They would be amazed.
For Lu Ye’s magical ward was one that did not have a point of anchorage. It was conjured solely relying on his Spiritual Power and nothing else. It would not have even worked, low potency or not, if he had committed even the slightest mistake.
If constructing Glyphs could be seen as writing a word with a pen, then the conjuration of a magical ward would be like writing an essay. Worse, one wrong move and Lu Ye would have to start all over. There was no margin for errors at all.
Such a task demanded a great if not perfect manner of control over one’s Spiritual Power, to say the least.
Such a performance on his first foray into conjuring magical wards deserved praise. If Lu Ye were to employ the use of ward keystones and a nexus for his next ward-casting, the attempt would not only be easier; it would be substantially stronger and more potent.
Technically, Ward Cultivators were a branch of the Glyphweaver family.
Only, Ward Cultivators focused their study and training solely on the conjuration of magical wards. That spoke volumes on how vast and how huge the study of Glyphs could be, no man could fully learn everything. Hence one could only focus one’s efforts and time on one specific discipline.
The discipline of Ward Cultivators concentrated on the study of ward-casting, while Glyph Warlocks pinpointed on the use of Glyphs in battle, those who specialized in Tattoo-type Glyphs focused on providing support in battle. Each discipline had its respective role and focal points, making the study of their Glyphs in stark contrast from others, just like how smiths who forge Spirit Artifacts learned Glyph-constructing so that they could cast layers of enchantments on the very instruments and weapons they built.
Even Lady Yun herself, for all her talents and knowledge about Glyphs, wasn’t a master of all trades.
In the meantime, Lu Ye had never tried making ward standards or keystones before. The forging of these items needed specialized materials and tools, making this an endeavor best attempted at the fastness of the outpost.
At the moment, the matter at hand should be his mastery of ward-casting, or more aptly put, ward destruction.
For that reason, he cared little about how good the wards he conjured were. He only needed to understand how the wards were conjured so that he could grasp the points of defeating wards conjured by others.
He gave Yi Yi a playful glare before he retreated into his cottage to continue his training and study. He pored over tomes and manuscripts, cramming his brain with as many fragments of the vast knowledge of Glyphs as he could.
The existence of his Tree of Glyphs allowed him to employ the use of various types of Glyphs. That gave him the misconception that he was already a fully-fledged Glyphweaver. But only today did Lu Ye realize that while he wielded talents that made him a prodigy, he was still nowhere near a fully-competent Glyphweaver. While the Tree had afforded him great convenience, it made him a mediocre Glyphweaver at best. He still had a long, long way ahead before he could count himself a master Glyphweaver.
The gifts of the Tree of Glyphs might be plenty, but not yet enough.
Days went by as Lu Ye would emerge from the cottage to try out new wards and such to experiment with his understanding. From his failures, he learned experience; from his triumphs, he ascertained his understanding thereof. Each and every day he made progress.
Progress which began to increase from gradual to exponential. But one caveat remained, he needed to try his skills on a real magical ward to properly see if he was making any real headway. The first one that came to mind was the Hidden Light Sanctuary.
[Here’s to hoping that Gu Canyang won’t regret extending his invitation to me…] Lu Ye mused.