Elder Cultivator 280

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Marvelous Rabbit Mountain was more than its name implied. The Marvelous was obviously just going to be puffery, and the diminutive creatures they were named after hardly had traits worth cultivating, at least upon casual inspection. They were cute little creatures that hopped around, hardly something that warriors would train based on. They much preferred lions and tigers and violent beasts.

But clearly they had been doing well for themselves. Alva observed high walls and disciples of quite decent cultivations as they approached the gates. She was just following along. Elder Adelina of the Frostmirror sect was leading their particular contingent. Marvelous Rabbit Mountain wasn’t that big of a deal that they deserved one of the Life Transformation cultivators to personally visit during the first wave, but there were political reasons.

The guards remained very professional as they approached, politely greeting them. “Welcome to Marvelous Rabbit Mountain, cultivators from the Brogora continent.” The smiles varied in genuineness between them.

“We greet you in turn,” Elder Adelina responded in kind. “As was discussed at the council, we have come to provide techniques necessary to deal with a looming threat. We hope that your sect and all of the others will make good use of them.”

“Yes, we had… word from the council. We are prepared to receive your group for as long as necessary.” One of the guards bowed his head. “I will show you where you need to go.” The other guard looked slightly relieved at the volunteer.

The group followed along behind Elder Adelina. Alva was there, and of course Annelie. But for the sake of showing solidarity among their group, Anish was present as well. There was nothing wrong with him, but he really was showing up quite often. 

Alva might not have called the place a mountain, though it was certainly on a mountain. There were also very few rabbits, though she’d spotted some in the fields outside their walls, running wild and digging in their little burrows. It was probably best that Fuzz wasn’t with her, since they likely wouldn’t want to see him eating their namesake animals. Alva could have probably made him behave, but it was probably easier to just not have him around. Though now she was tempted to eat one of the rabbits.

That wouldn’t have exactly strengthened their reception though. “People sure look busy,” Alva commented about the lack of people coming to see them. Even if they didn’t say anything, she would have expected more gawkers. Of course, she knew why things were this way. She just wanted to see if the guard would say anything, and it was better for her to bring it up than an elder.

“Well,” the guard shrugged. “Many people were quite fond of Elder Lestari. Or at least respectful.”

“And you?” Alva asked.

“I… didn’t know him well,” the guard hedged. “He was strong, though.” Perhaps that was the politest way he could say he didn’t like the man without being worried about whoever might be listening in. After all, suddenly learning that an elder was some sort of traitor was hard for people to deal with, especially people who relied on his influence. “Is it true that he was…?”

Elder Adelina answered that one. “I discerned the truth of it for myself, before Swordmaster Rahayu acted. It was unfortunate that he was so swift and final with his actions.”

Alva nodded. It was kind of hard to ask the guy questions about who made that sword when he was dead. It seemed rather suspicious on Rahayu’s part, and apparently after that the Life Transformation cultivator had stabbed and kidnapped Chikere. But the thing was, had the situation been reversed- with Chikere stabbing and kidnapping the old man- Alva would have thought little of it. That was just the way she was. Perhaps their personalities were simply the same type of sword-obsessed. And also not amazing about thinking ahead except in a fight.

“The elders here did mention that his body gave off a particularly different cultivation method… after. How did they conceal it? How do you discover it?”

Just in case, Alva carefully activated the technique that would resonate with Twin Soul Sect members and make their cultivation known to her. Unless this particular Spirit Building guard had some sort of secret technique to extra conceal his cultivation, he wasn’t one of them.

“That information is what we are here for,” Elder Adelina explained. “You will get the chance to learn how they might be revealed. The sensible way. As well as techniques that will be required to fight some forthcoming invaders.”

“Really?” The guard lit up at that. “I thought you’d only teach the elders.”

“That would be wasteful. They would have to teach you afterwards regardless,” Adelina pointed out. “And we have more experience. Though I personally will not be instructing you. Probably one of these three,” she gestured towards the others.

The guard looked at Alva. He was older than her, maybe thirty or so, but her cultivation was much higher. She hadn’t thought about it much, but she was here to help teach, wasn’t she? She might even end up instructing some of the elders, depending how many there were. Essence Collection wasn’t a shabby cultivation level, especially outside of the largest sects. She was just sort of used to everyone she knew being stronger than her. Well, even that wasn’t true. But there were enough people she couldn’t catch up to, like Hoyt and Velvet. 


Marvelous Rabbit Mountain was on lockdown, much like the Order had been after learning about the Twin Soul Sect and some ways to detect them. The same with how most of the people around them now called the ‘Brogora’ continent had responded. 

Alva found herself in a room with several people three or four times her age, plus a few others like Mansur, the guard who had been eager to learn the techniques. Alva was doing her best to act like she knew what to do, which was only half true. The half she knew was how to make use of the techniques. The half she didn’t know was how to teach anyone else how to resonate your energy in a way that would reveal members of the Twin Soul Sect without necessarily giving away you were doing it. Then there was the method that was more obvious and revealed them to everybody.

Her grandfather made teaching people seem so easy. 

“Okay everyone, first, focus on your own internal energy. You are all familiar with the Magnificent Rabbit Mountain’s aura. Take hold of it. Let it move, through your and then around you and then through everything else.” As she explained, Alva sincerely hoped the actual demonstration she was giving was clearer. “Who wants to try first?”

Mansur stepped forward, “I will!”

Oh good. It was much better him than one of the elders. He would get to be the one to make most of the mistakes that everyone made. He did alright, but when his energy spread out it impacted her own. Not strongly, but noticeably. 

“Good,” she said encouragingly, “But don’t forget this isn’t an attack. At least, not this version. It should barely be noticeable, you’re just trying to detect if someone’s hiding something. It’s not even meant to pick out hidden people, just those who you can see who might be faking their cultivation.”

Mansur nodded enthusiastically. At least the others were paying attention, and some of them were subtly practicing on their own. They wouldn’t want to look worse than a junior, after all. Especially not with a woman only in her mid twenties instructing them.


Though Alva had told Mansur he was doing well, he knew at least some of it was out of politeness. He’d made some pretty bad mistakes at first. Following that, she at least had run short of criticisms for his form. The only issue was he couldn’t tell if it would actually work. As far as he knew, she wasn’t one of the Twin Soul Sect. He wasn’t either- though he should have known if he was. The elders he’d trained with weren’t. Random disciples felt exactly as he expected them to. 

The Marvelous Rabbit Mountain cultivation technique wasn’t just about hopping around. It was about calmness and bursts of powerful motion, of awareness. It was many things, but all of them felt like home. Every disciple Mansur passed was a member of the family. Mansur presumed Elder Lestari was too, but that trust had been betrayed. 

It wasn’t that he was personally affronted. He really didn’t know the man. But Mansur wanted to protect his home, and letting people working directly against that inside was antithetical to his nature. He absolutely had to make sure there weren’t any traitors. Not that he’d really have much chance. 

They were on lockdown while the elders learned the proper techniques, and they’d already been looked over by their visitors. That meant they had to be clean, right? Though Mansur hadn’t actually heard anything about that. Where there was one traitor there might be more, and though he hadn’t heard of anyone they could be dealt with quietly.

But everyone he felt was fine. A group of five training their bodies, two people practicing burrowing techniques- good for catching enemies off guard with unexpected movement capabilities. Everyone felt normal. Two elders chatting, one of them who felt like a calm night sky looking down on a field and the other who felt like… an empty husk.

She was fake on the outside. Mansur didn’t know if she was actually as she felt, but as he casually brushed past her he felt the difference. Beneath a layer of something, had he actually found that Elder Citra was one of the traitors? She looked over at him, peering into his soul. Mansur didn’t move, not his body nor his energy. But her eyes were merely taking note of passing disciples, and quickly left him.

When he dared to breathe again, he quickly made his way towards where the guests were staying. Perhaps he had been wrong, and was just seeing things. He didn’t really know what to expect, so he could have messed up. But if he was right…

He wanted to leap as quickly as he could, but it was much better to remain stealthy in such times. He was so focused on worrying about what was behind him that he almost ran into the fire man.

“Hey. What’s up? You in a hurry?”

Mansur blinked. “I- well, I’m not sure. I was hoping to speak to someone… about what Honored Guest Alva was teaching.”

“Sure, come with me. I was just on my way over to say hi.”

Some of the members of Marvelous Rabbit Mountain lived in burrows, but practical disciples and guests lived in houses. The guests had bigger quarters than Mansur, but he couldn’t really complain about that when they were all higher in cultivation than himself. 

He was glad that the fire man- Anish- was not taking him to see the Life Transformation cultivator. She was cold, emotionless. And so much stronger than him it was terrifying. Though so was interacting with a woman younger than him and at least a few times as strong. Or two of them, as the case happened to be. Rumors said that they were cousins? They looked alike enough, at least.

The fact that they seemed to be close friends could have gone for or against that statement, but the two of them were found in the same sitting room. Anish had casually knocked on the door, then opened it when there had been some sort of subtle sign indicating he could enter.

“This guy had something to talk to you about, Alva,” Anish pointed to Mansur.

“Honored Guests,” he bowed his head to the two women. “I have… a delicate matter to bring up. The technique you were teaching me, well… I thought I sensed something from someone. I was wondering if I might be incorrect, since you have already vetted everyone.”

“Who?” the icy Annelie asked seriously.

“Elder Citra. I must be clear that I’m not certain but-”

“Yeah, she’s one of those on the list,” Annelie nodded. “So don’t worry about it.”

“Worry about… what? Having a traitor among us?”

“Or being wrong. Because the first one won’t be true forever, and you weren’t wrong.” The way the woman said it so matter-of-factly was almost concerning.

“You knew about her? Then why is she still here?”

“What did you think the lockdown was for? Who did you think you were going to practice on?”

Mansur looked sheepishly between her and Alva, and the grinning Anish. “I suppose I didn’t think about that. But won’t she be a danger?”

“There aren’t enough of them to cause trouble, and they will be dealt with by your elders when the time comes. But until then, they’re around for practice. So don’t panic if you find more… but you can go ahead and come to us and we’ll tell you if they’re on the list.”

Mansur bowed his head. “Oh. Okay.”

Alva’s words cheered him up. “You did great, by the way. Only a couple days of practice and you already really found someone. Did they notice you?”

“I’m not sure,” he admitted. “I thought maybe, but they were just scanning everyone.”

“Show me, and I’ll estimate.” So he did. The result was… “Decent. I know what to look for, so I can tell when you’re doing it. But you might actually get away with it. Keep practicing. You’re one of the first to find anyone, and this is an important skill to have. On par with the anti-ascension techniques we’ll be distributing later.”

Mansur left, feeling somewhat satisfied with himself, though slightly confused. At least he was good for something besides just standing outside the front gates.

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