(Patreon) Elder Cultivator 473

-–Chapter Index–-

Stopping to appreciate teleportation formations was almost a duty for Maxine, even though their actual construction had nothing to do with the originator of the technique. Well, it was nearly impossible to say if Everheart was the actual origin of anything, but certainly the one who was now most well known for it. The moon… alas, it had been so long. Since then, there had been no new Tombs.

There was one of course- which was extremely surprising. One Tomb in the entirety of the upper realms? Preposterous. But it did encompass an entire planet, so maybe it wasn’t all that wild. But the Tombs themselves weren’t the most important thing. What was more important was seeing any trace of Everheart, and his impact

That was why she was visiting the Order. Though he was not a member of the Tomb Seeking Cult, Anton had been quite friendly to them in the past. His aid was critical in some important discoveries, and he was a practitioner of some of Everheart’s arts. So it hardly mattered what his actual allegiance was. It wasn’t like the Tomb Seeking Cult was organized or had real leadership anyway. Except maybe Agus, nowadays.

For the Sect Head of one of the most powerful sects in the world, having attained a new branch of cultivation unknown to previous generations, it was surprisingly easy to meet with him. Maybe nobody tried. Then again, maybe he was bombarded with requests and refused most of them. That showed he at least remembered Maxine a little. Or rather, that he cared. Cultivators usually didn’t actually forget things. 

His residence was… humble. That was probably the right word. Sturdy, definitely protected with formations and the like, but not overly large for one individual. The sitting room was the most important part, and it was very comfortable. When Maxine arrived, Anton was there… along with someone else. Perhaps he was busy, but she could at least properly make her request in person.

“Sect Head Anton,” she inclined her head. “I was hoping to have the chance to discuss ascension with you.”

“I don’t mind doing so… but I can’t say I will be of much help as I very specifically did not ascend,” Anton replied.

“I understand, though that is actually why I sought you in particular. I am considering the benefits of Ascension and Assimilation, especially as it relates to my position within the realms.” It was kind of awkward to not have said anything to Anton’s guest. “Pardon me, I did not introduce myself. I am Maxine.”

“This is Scholar Eulogius,” Anton introduced his guest. Something about his attitude indicated to Maxine that he didn’t like the man, which was odd. They didn’t seem to be in an important meeting, and if it was not a diplomatic visit Anton could have easily dismissed anyone. So perhaps she misread the situation. 

“I must admit, I have not heard of you… despite your prominent cultivation,” Maxine inclined her head. “Are you from the Exalted Archipelago?”

“I spent some time there in the past,” the man answered. 

Maxine couldn’t figure out his cultivation. Another Assimilation cultivator, perhaps? He felt… weird. But familiar. “Pardon me, sir. Do you practice any of Everheart’s techniques?”

The man smiled, “In fact I do. More than a handful.”

She didn’t want to ignore Anton but… “In your time in the Exalted Archipelago, did you hear of Everheart leaving behind any Tombs there?”

“I believe there were some,” Eulogius nodded, “Though it is my understanding they were systematically eradicated at great cost.”

“Oh. I was afraid as much. We’ve been rather lacking in anything since the final tomb…” she turned back to Anton. “Speaking of which, you’ve been to the moon, right? I mean… after.”

“I have,” Anton nodded. Was he annoyed at her? She didn’t take very long, and he had to know she was curious and couldn’t help herself.

“Was there anything of note to study? If so, pursuing Assimilation might be a worthy goal. Otherwise, I plan to try to ascend so that I can study Everheart’s Tomb in the upper realms.”

“Ah,” Anton frowned, “About that. Unfortunately, there has been significant change in the upper realms regarding that. It seems the features of the tomb… packed up and moved. The situation is still adapting so it’s unclear exactly what became of it.”

“What?” Maxine was surprised. “But wasn’t it… like, a planet? Is the planet gone?”

“The planet remains.”

“There has to be something left behind then. What about the moon?”

“Few remnants,” Anton admitted. “They followed the traditional life cycle of elements preserved by hedging against their future. I don’t believe there’s much to see.”

“Ah. I don’t suppose you’ve heard anything about other Tombs in the upper realms?” Maxine asked.

“I’m afraid not. As far as I know, there was only the one.”

“Actually…” Scholar Eulogius cleared his throat. “There are several others of varying sizes, though I was- it seems that Everheart was occupied with other things much of the time.” The man grinned, “In fact, I know there’s a rather interesting one that nobody’s ever discovered.”

“Wow, really? Wait but, if nobody ever discovered how would you know?”

“Nobody but myself, I mean.”

“Oh, okay,” Maxine nodded. “Could you tell me where it is? Wait- have you been to the upper realms?!”

“Well I- I didn’t mean personally. I have contacts in the upper realms who told me about it.” For some reason, the man was looking at Anton, as if they were sharing secret information. Maxine wanted to know it, but maybe she shouldn’t know.

Then again, forbidden knowledge was for chumps. “Can you tell me where it is? Maybe I can ascend nearby somehow.”

“That’s not how it works,” Anton said.

“Well…” Scholar Eulogius stroked his chin. “There are some techniques you can use to potentially target your arrival location.”

“Did Everheart come up with one of those?” Maxine asked.

“Yes, actually,” Eulogius nodded, “The best one, in my humble opinion. It requires some knowledge of celestial orbits and the tides of the worlds but I have that information as well. Here, let me see.” He reached his hand into his storage bag. It took a strangely long time for him to withdraw it- maybe it was one of the bags that didn’t bring what you wanted to you? Though it seemed odd for such a powerful senior to not have such things. Several seconds to retrieve something in battle was a lifetime. “Here they are,” Everheart pulled out a huge bundle of scrolls and tomes. “Starcharts, and the technique manual of course.”

Maxine took the pile of materials in her hands, setting most of them aside while she looked at the book itself. It wasn’t particularly ornamented, but the handwriting was clear… and memorable. She almost sniffed it, but that sort of thing was embarrassing to do with others watching, even if it could tell her something about its age. The power flowing off of it was both familiar and unfamiliar. “Oh wow, is this the original? Everheart must have written this post-ascension! How did you even manage to get it here?” Her eyes landed on Anton. “Sorry, I do wish to discuss ascension still. This is just very exciting.”

“Don’t worry,” Anton said. “I understand.”

He said that, but he still looked kind of annoyed. It was a good thing he had an even temper, because some cultivators might just squash Maxine if she bothered them. Or they might try, anyway. She had ways to stay alive like any proper cultivator should.

—–

“I’m going to rate your disguise as top notch,” Anton said. “And your mannerisms as marginal. Unless you were trying to be found out. But I thought we both agreed that keeping your presence secret was best for everyone.”

Everheart shrugged, still in his younger disguise as Scholar Eulogius, “I don’t see the big deal. I left tons of stuff here before.”

“You know too much about the upper realms.”

“I’d say you know too much about the upper realms, having never been there.”

“Knowledge of tombs that aren’t public?” Anton raised an eyebrow. “Techniques you wrote post ascension? How would you explain that, huh?”

“Don’t know,” Everheart said. “She didn’t ask.”

“Surprisingly,” Anton said. “She might still figure it out. I can’t believe you did all that in front of Maxine.”

“Whatever,” Everheart said. “I don’t recognize her sect though. It feels oddly familiar, but I just can’t place it.”

“It’s the-” At this point Anton realized he’d already made several mistakes. He sighed, “The Tomb Seeking Cult.”

“… So they dig up dead people?” Before Anton could come up with any sort of response, Everheart’s eyes lit up. “Oh, wait. I have a cult?”

“I wouldn’t say it’s yours,” Anton replied. “They’re just fanatics of your work. I don’t know if they actually like you.”

“They shouldn’t,” Everheart said, grinning. “I wonder… say, Anton.”

“What?” Anton asked, his expression flat.

“My tombs were pretty helpful for training, right? We’ve still got a couple full cultivator generations before the invasion. I’m sure people could make sure of more, right?”

“I suppose so,” Anton admitted. “But we don’t have the resources. Every sect already allocates their own things for training. If you wanted to work on some of those.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Everheart said. “I’ve got a lot of crap in this bag. I could set up some nice Tombs.”

“If it’s anything like your last one, I don’t think we’d want it. Fifty percent death rate?”

“Oh, no,” Everheart shook his head. “That one wasn’t for training. It was purely for profit and distraction. This will be just like the ones you remember, but a bit… more. Sure, a few people might die, but nobody’s going to grow much without the threat of death! Ten percent, tops!”

That was still a pretty horrible death rate, though not that different from the worst of Everheart’s other tombs. And people should know what they were getting into… “I need to know what you’ll be doing.”

“Ugh, fine. But no spoiling the surprises for anyone!”

“Fine.”

—–

With the continents having been scoured, the most logical place to put a Tomb would be somewhere out in the ocean. Thus, that wasn’t what Everheart did. Instead, he tossed one in the Cragtooth Mountains between Facraona and Ofrurg. Down beneath the former location of the invader’s base there. There was no way anyone should have missed it, and anyone passing through the area would doubtless notice it.

Anton was surprised at how quickly the man could throw something together. Yes, it took him months for one location, even with hundreds of projections working, but that was still… crazy. Anton wondered if the projections were combat capable. Most of the ones Anton had met should actually have been weaker than a Life Transformation cultivator by a good margin, except the one on the moon. Even that one should have mostly been relying on formations for what he did. Unfortunately, Anton had no way to know- but he would at least take into account the possibility that Everheart could fight in multiple bodies. Even if some were weaker, that could be a useful distraction.

After finishing a project, Everheart reabsorbed all of the projections. “Not this time, suckers! I’m onto you!” He didn’t explain what that meant, but it didn’t seem to be harmful to him. More importantly, Anton was surprised that he could work so fervently without slowing his own recovery. Perhaps it simply didn’t count as strenuous activity… Everheart’s wounds were mostly internal, tied to his deeper cultivation and not trivial physical injury.

Anton wished he could judge properly what Everheart was doing with his formations and tombs. He told Anton the details, and his training in formation was enough to believe him on the surface, but Everheart could be tricky. Then again, there wouldn’t be anything immediately obviously going against what he said unless he wanted to clash with Anton again. Anton was pretty sure Everheart wouldn’t do anything radical for at least a couple decades. Trusting him to follow through all the way until the invasion was laughable, but maybe Everheart did care about Ceretos, if maybe not any of the individuals who lived there.

-–Chapter Index–-