(Patreon) Truthful Transmigration 207

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Despite some threats looming on the next horizon over, time passed relatively peacefully for John and his family. As much as it could in a world like they lived in, anyway. The triplets were now fifteen, looking like proper young adults. Their cultivations were at the peak of the Foundation Phase, just waiting for opportunities to push themselves to the next level. Resources could be used, but using them carelessly could result in issues down the line. They needed something of proper quality or with known effects.

Though John was fully confident that the triplets would advance with just a bit of waiting, for Melanthina in particular there was an opportunity that had been waiting for some time. The Tenebach Clan’s empowerment ceremony. All her growth up to that point had been done without an active blessing from Ciaritzal. But an empowerment ceremony couldn’t just be thrown out however people pleased, it was the opportunity for an entire generation of Tenebach clan youths. It had been twenty-two years since John found himself transmigrated, and it had been more than a year before that when the Tenebach clan had their proper ceremony- John’s individual blessing being an exception. Ciaritzal was whole now, but a proper blessing would still require some sacrifice. The intent was simply to provide a treasure of sufficient darkness element rather than some of the cultivation base of the elders.

That wasn’t just for personal reasons of John not wishing to lower his cultivation. It was problematic for the clan to have a loss in power, even if it would be merely for a decade or so. The tradition had managed to keep younger generations growing strong, but now that things were better they could hopefully manage the same without the loss- except perhaps financial. Though even that cost did not have to be so significant with Ciaritzal’s current strength.

It was with some luck and some planning that an opportunity came. The empowerment ceremony could have been performed already or postponed a few years, so for an event that came only every decade or so it had a reasonable chance to fall within the right time frame. 

Said event was the opening of the Prismatic Chambers, ‘managed’ by the Supreme Slate Sect. The entrance to the Prismatic Chambers was within the northern portion of the Stone Conglomerate, and much like the Crystal Caverns managed by the Order of the Amber Heart, the Prismatic Chambers were shared because they were impossible to monopolize. While the Supreme Slate Sect was fairly strong on an individual basis, they could not deal with those from the Stone Conglomerate gathering against them. And that would not be the limit, either.

While the Crystal Caverns were dominantly earth element, the Prismatic Chambers were more expansive and transitioned to other elements in various pockets throughout. Thus, it wasn’t simply a matter limited to the Stone Conglomerate either. The Supreme Slate Sect maintained control because their strength was sufficient and they were local- but they kept the price of admission reasonable. It was simply not worthwhile for anyone from a distant power to try to take over, and of those who were local they were dominant. Even with the new heights of the Tenebach clan and the Order, John didn’t favor the forces of Marble County against them.

—–

“We must discuss our plans,” John addressed the rest of those present- the Brandle, Mulyani, and Milanovic clans as well as the Golden Tomb Guardians and the Order of the Amber Heart. Their full alliance, basically. “While it would obviously be tempting to rush off to the areas with the most resources for ourselves, that would weaken our overall positions… and thus our losses might outweigh our gains.”

Everyone understood. While the Order of the Amber Heart could enforce some sort of justice within the Crystal Caverns, even that was limited. Any ‘rules’ in place within the more expansive Prismatic Chambers were much more difficult to enforce so they were barely implemented. The only generally agreed upon thing was to not be ‘excessive’. What that meant varied wildly, but deaths were common to both natural dangers and cultivators. Losing people for the sake of resources was not a pleasant idea, but those resources could make their clans stronger and save lives in the future. The one thing that was inevitable was violent conflict.

“I would propose splitting into two major groups,” Renato said. “At least for those focused on gathering resources. For the younger individuals going for training purposes… they and their guardians should be a third group together. There might still be several subgroups for those who are gathering, but they should remain close.”

“A conservative approach,” said Asih, one of the representatives of the Mulyani clan. It was a sad day when Kusuma would not personally come to such an important event- and though remaining to guard the clan itself was part of it, there was obviously more to it than that. Unfortunately, Kusuma was not getting any younger- among other things. “But a reasonable one. My fighting power is sufficient to help with the youths, but I think I would best abstain from the main battles.” She turned her head to the individual next to her- another member of the clan, Harta.

Harta Mulyani was not a large man, but he had an air of strength. Not that being larger necessarily mattered where cultivation was in play- spiritual energy was the dominant force with few exceptions. “I will participate in the actual gathering. We need to earn our part.”

It was unfortunate that he was only at the peak of the Soul Expansion Phase- though he was young enough it was almost guaranteed he would break through sooner rather than later. That would be an important step for the Mulyani clan, producing a Consolidated Soul Phase cultivator for more than a single generation. Their youthful generation was simply at a different phase of growth than the Tenebach and Brandle clans, their closest allies.

Lucanus and Yustina were representing the Milanovic clan, with Alina busy with leadership trouble. Not all clans would have active participation of their heads in every event. That was true even in John’s case, though he did tend to poke his nose into everything important. The current period of growth was not necessarily stable yet, and there were the triplets specifically to be concerned about.

Deirdre referenced the ‘maps’ of the tunnels they possessed. The shifts in cave structure were less significant than the Crystal Caverns, but as the Prismatic Chambers were much larger in scope they were never explored thoroughly. More importantly, that information was not always shared in a reliable manner. “Based on the general layout, the elements are arranged about as would be expected, generally opposing each other. Though Darkness is sort of in the ‘middle’ the winding paths to get there place it not directly next to light.”

“Which is good,” John commented, “Or there would be another annihilation strip. Or… just nothing.”

“Right,” she nodded. “Now, it seems sensible to send groups of the allied trios. Fire light and air circle around the outside edge counterclockwise here. Earth water and darkness circle clockwise and then inward. But… given the options we have, I don’t know if we should immediately settle on that.”

“There are other reasonable combinations,” Renato agreed. “For example, a pairing of two allied elements- light or darkness and one other- could then have another element in the cycle to support them or the other way around. Darkness, fire, and earth for example. Though the other way covers our weaknesses.”

“I think much of this will be about traversal,” John admitted. “The three elements allied with light would require the longest possible route to cover everything, while the remaining trio would be short, favoring them to find more resources early…” John shook his head. “That is to say, us,” John gestured to himself, Matayal, and Renato. “I am not opposed to the possibility, but it seems least favorable to the Mulyani clan who will traverse the long way around the caverns, if the distances are believable.” John pursed his lips. “I’m not certain if the scale is clear here, but these tunnels might traverse under a good portion of Astrein.” Certainly, some of it had to go beyond the borders of the Stone Conglomerate.

They discussed groups of pairs as well, of which there were only a few practical options based on the placement. Ultimately, despite their positive relationships, the Tenebach clan and the Golden Tomb Guardians did not wish to travel together to their respective elemental regions. They would both be much less effective that portion of the time, without really covering for potential weaknesses.

The final decision was a general balance of trios. Darkness, water, and air would take their clockwise spiral, the three clans having much experience together. Then earth, fire, and light- the groups more on the east side which had also increased direct contact with each other. There was simply too much risk in traveling with fewer since various strong groups would be participating and because others would no doubt form their own alliances. What was more, there was the rumor that some individuals from the Sky Islands and Molten Sea would be participating. Neither had caused any trouble in the Stone Conglomerate as of yet, so the Supreme Slate Sect had no reason to bar them entry. The neighboring regions hadn’t yet had direct conflict with those either… and it would be difficult to refuse them if they showed up. Then again, so far it was only rumors.

—–

“Now then,” John looked at the triplets. “You know what you’re supposed to do?”

“Fight and grow strong?” Ursel said tentatively.

“Stay together,” Matayal emphasized. “That’s the first priority. Both with each other and the escorts. If you’re lost, there’s little we can do to find you.”

“Understood,” Tirto said confidently. “We will support each other and ensure each other’s safety.”

“You’re going to have escorts along,” John said. “But don’t assume that will make you safe. You should know by know that unless they are crowding your area, it’s not possible for someone to fully protect you. The gap of dangers you will be facing is also less significant than when you were younger. A Consolidated Soul Phase cultivator can casually brush off anyone in the Spiritual Collection Phase, but someone or something who is a challenge for the three of you at the peak of Foundation Phase is not so easily dealt with without interfering with you.”

Melanthina nodded. She was sometimes mischievous, but she still had a reasonable head on her shoulders. “We will properly judge our opponents before engaging, if possible. I don’t want to have to call upon help anyway.”

“That is reasonable,” John nodded, “But if you need it, you can’t hesitate.”

“We understand,” Tirto said. “We remember the Kelp Spire Forest. Though at least those particular enemies are dealt with.”

“There are more, still,” John reminded him. “Clans of our status will never be without enemies, and even those with minor grudges might choose to capitalize in a moment of weakness. It would be best to stay away from those outside of our alliance unless you have some other reason to trust them. You know who we are on friendly terms with, at least.”

Even leaving the triplets in the hands of Aydan and Yonit, among others, was difficult for John. Yet he simply couldn’t be a hovering parent as that would interfere with both their growth and his. They would be staying in safer and more known areas with fewer treasures but also fewer obstacles. The triplets would be fine. The one he should be worrying about was himself- or at least those who would be with him. They were going to places where there would be competition from cultivators and natural dangers, beasts that lived in the underground and elemental obstacles that would appear with dense concentrations of any sort of spiritual energy. So rather than losing the triplets, John knew he should focus more on making sure they still had parents when things were said and done. The risks shouldn’t be that high, but if they were careless then theoretical danger level would mean nothing.

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