Elder Cultivator 442

Previous Chapter-–Chapter Index–- Next Chapter

Seeing much of anything but the sun was rather difficult, but Anton remained in the same relative position with what was likely the only other thing to get vaguely close to it. At the moment the metal ship was sensing Anton, much like it had been doing for the sun itself. He let it happen, since the people on board would likely be more willing to communicate if he did so. Specifically, once it was clear that he was peaceful. His actions should have made that quite obvious. 

As it studied him, he continued to study the strange contraption. It was surprising that it was not incinerated, as most materials would be. The amount of energy it was using should not have been sufficient to protect it, but it seemed to be rather efficient in its functions. Perhaps there were deeper levels to it he could not sense, as the flow of energy through it was quite complex and only partially matched what he knew of formations.

He hoped something productive would come of this new contact- and that it would not turn into a battle. Yet he was prepared for that eventuality. He doubted that these new people would care that this was his native system if they felt threatened. Actually, he couldn’t be completely sure they weren’t from a planet around the same sun. It was predicted that other planets weren’t habitable by humans, but if settled by cultivators with their oddities it might be possible. He should visit the other planets. And perhaps the moon, just to see what was left of Everheart’s work.

The ship completed its scanning, and then began to move. Technically it was moving the whole time, but it broke away from its orbit around the sun, moving towards Anton- or rather slightly past him. He changed his own momentum to follow along behind it. He didn’t feel that it was trying to run away. 

It continued to accelerate, but at a steady pace. It didn’t make any adjustments to its course. As they left the range of the sun where its energy signature overwhelmed almost everything else, Anton felt the ship’s senses upon him again. He was also able to get a clearer picture of the ship in return, a relatively small vessel with only a handful of inhabitants. He still didn’t understand how it functioned, though.

Eventually the rear porthole was unsealed- it had been kept closed to block out the sun’s intense light and heat, but now he could see through. The person inside pointed down. Anton slightly lowered himself relative to the ship, and he could sense part of it opening. A small room that led to another. He’d sensed a change in it before it opened- the air removed. Yes, something like that would be necessary. Anton could replenish his own breath, and the ship likely did something the same for those living on it. But if they lost some, it would be gone until they entered an atmosphere.

He didn’t sense any sort of trick in the small room- it seemed to simply be for entering and exiting the ship. If it came down to it, he could tear open the doors or walls unless there was something very significant he didn’t sense. If communication was going to happen, someone was going to have to take the first step of trust- and honestly, allowing him into their vessel was riskier than the other way around.

After he entered, the doors closed behind him and the room once more filled up with air. Anton took a breath. It was basically what he expected, and didn’t have any poisons that he could sense. Actually breathing was nice as well. Relaxing.

Several people crowded around the internal door before it opened. Not necessarily in an intimidating manner, but rather because space was limited. As the door opened, Anton held up a hand and waved. “Hello. Good to see you.”

They responded verbally, but not in a language Anton recognized. That was quite sensible- though Ceretos had one primary language that seemed to have mixed with what they knew of the upper realms through cultivators mingling, language wouldn’t be exactly the same everywhere.

After the initial back and forth Anton was unsure if he should continue talking, but a woman in the lead gestured towards him as she spoke. Gestures could be different as well, but his training in Insight likely wouldn’t lead him far astray. “You want me to speak more? I’m not really sure what to say. My name is Anton,” he gestured to himself. “And I live in this system. It seems you are from the outside?”

One of them was looking at something in their hands and nodding. The woman in the lead stretched her hand out towards him. “Anton.” He nodded. She pointed to herself, “Matija.”

Anton bowed slightly, “Good to meet you, Matija,” he focused on the last word. If they would speak more, he might be able to pick up their language. Actually, he could hear a couple that weren’t in the same hallway speaking. They probably didn’t think he could hear them, but he really didn’t know what they were saying yet. Anton wondered how long this would take. 

The woman turned, gesturing for him to come along with her as she spoke. Anton followed. The hallways weren’t very wide and he practically brushed up against the other two even as they turned to the side to let him through. 

The woman grabbed a rail and pulled herself along slowly, one tug to accelerate. There was no gravity to speak of, after all. Anton wasn’t sure if walking would be rude, but it felt more appropriate. He held himself to the floor as he went. These people around him should have enough energy to do that… but perhaps they thought it wasteful. Then again, they might have little way to replenish their energy in the void of space.

They came to a small room with storage devices- though all the rooms were small. The storage devices were more like cupboards instead of typical storage bags, but they felt the same functionally. Without even needing to pry to learn what was inside them, the woman pulled out two small bags with liquid inside. “Drink.” That was just a guess at what she said, but Anton was fairly confident in his interpretation. Especially when she twisted something at the corner and then put it between her lips.

Anton twisted the same thing, finding that the bag was slightly squeezed as well. Water sprayed everywhere, but he captured it with a net of energy. Embarrassing, but also somewhat entertaining. He gave a slight laugh. The way the water formed into little wobbly spheres was fascinating. A lack of gravity made interesting things happen. He somewhat reluctantly put the water back into the little waterskin and then drank a small bit the same way as the woman. He didn’t necessarily need water, but an exchange of food was a good bonding method.

He wondered if he should offer anything of his own. These people still seemed human, so they should be able to eat the same things. What did he have on him? There were certain cuts of raw meat he hadn’t dealt with yet from a hunting excursion- more of an extermination of beasts, but leaving their meat would have been a waste. Raw was no good. There were boring nuts, and some rations that might not be from this decade. Technically they were still just as good- practically, they were never good

Ah, there was something. Anton pulled out a couple handfuls of berries, offering one palm to the woman. He knew others were watching, peeking around the corner. Did they not know he could sense them? Perhaps they simply didn’t think about it and couldn’t stifle their curiosity.

The woman, Matija, took the berries Anton offered… and they promptly began floating in all directions as he released his energy holding them in place. Matija made a panicked grab for them as they slipped out of her hand, but she ended up losing more than she held on to, and squashing half of that. She looked panicked, but Anton couldn’t help but giggle at the amusing sight. He wasn’t sure why she wouldn’t catch them or just hold them in place with her energy, but he gathered them for her, keeping them together with just the lightest touch.

“Eat,” Anton said. “They’re tasty.” He started munching on them as he made the suggestion.

The woman was slightly hesitant for some reason. Perhaps there was some issue he did not know about? She carefully studied one of the segmented berries, then slowly put it in her mouth. Her expression indicated it tasted good, as it should. When it reached her stomach, she suddenly seemed surprised. Anton was unsure why that was… or why she wasn’t circulating the energy it was releasing. There wasn’t much from Ceretos these days that wasn’t imbued with natural energy on some level- and that included these berries. It wouldn’t hurt her to just let it digest, but it was less efficient than actively absorbing it.

Anton frowned internally. The situation was so awkward, and formal. He didn’t want to overstep his bounds, but he’d really rather invite the others if they were going to eat. He said as much, though he doubted they understood yet. Even with whatever methods they had, it wasn’t like they could easily predict new words yet.

Matija continued to slowly munch on the berries, but seemed hesitant about what to do with the juices of the crushed ones vaguely clinging to her hand. Anton hoped he wouldn’t cause any problems, but to make her more comfortable he intentionally squashed one, staining his fingers, then licked it off. 

Attempts at conversation continued, but there was little actual communication they could do yet. Anton was clinging onto their words, using his tempered mind to attempt to comprehend something… while they used their own methods. Hopefully this wouldn’t take too long. He could mimic their words now but he wouldn’t know what they meant well enough to be sure he wanted to say them.


Only after talking with the others did Vari realized what she had done. It wasn’t wrong to train with others- and the Library was perhaps one of the only places in Everheart’s Tomb where it was properly safe- but the identity of who she trained with was important. 

“I don’t like it at all,” Catarina said.

“Is there something wrong with the Hardened Crown Sect?” Vari asked.

“Only that they’re here,” Catarina admitted. “That means there are both sects from the Trigold Cluster and the Exalted Quadrant here. Our history with both is… not entirely positive.”

“… you’ve fought against them before? Already? They’re significant powers.” Vari shook her head, “I can avoid working with Kiran again, if you wish.”

“That shouldn’t be necessary,” Catarina said. “Unlike some of the sects in the Exalted Quadrant, we have not had conflict with the Hardened Crown Sect. The issue is that both groups are here at once. They’re not exactly friendly.”

“… that would be an understatement,” Vari said. “If I understand correctly, they’re responsible for much of the Bloodsoaked Nebula being as it is. Now that I think about it, they have agreed to keep their business out of the Scarlet Midfields after a past conflict.”

Hoyt had something to say there, “Maybe Everheart’s Tomb doesn’t count. Or the rewards are worth it somehow.”

“The problem that I see is that we didn’t see any of either last time,” Timothy said. “Perhaps it was a coincidence, but I have the feeling we’ve been spotting more and more of them each day we’re here. When it was just the Trigold Cluster it seemed to be bad luck.”

“Enough of the Exalted Quadrant likely would be against us as well,” Alva shook her head. “And our backing here is… minimal.”

“At least most people won’t be able to directly recognize our cultivation techniques,” Catarina said. “That’s one good thing about organizations of this scale.”

Vari was still just thinking. “… I can’t believe your world produced Everheart and got into conflict with the two Great Powers.”

“That’s just how it is,” Hoyt shrugged. “Also, there are only two ‘Great Powers’?”

“The Trigold Cluster and Exalted Quadrant flank the Scarlet Midfields, so we don’t really run into anything else.” Vari shook her head, “The upper realms are vast, but little information exists from beyond either region. And perhaps my knowledge was intentionally limited by the Harmonious Citadel. They… liked to imply they were as strong as the Great Powers, but I’m rather uncertain about that now.”

For the moment, there was nothing that could or should be done about cultivators gathering. People had gotten most of what they could be expected to learn at the moment- and for their other purposes, they needed to reach deeper. That meant earning points somehow throughout the Tomb. It would be good to get some practical experience to see if their learning actually helped, as well.

Previous Chapter-–Chapter Index–- Next Chapter

Leave a Reply