Elder Cultivator 561

Previous Chapter-–Chapter Index–- Next Chapter

Of all the people Anton knew, the most irreplaceable was perhaps Kohar. She did all of the things that Anton could not do himself- obtaining results that could not be achieved through diplomacy, including violence of the threat of violence. In a perfect world, she would be around forever to deal with whatever issues arose. Though if the world was perfect, she would be unnecessary. Either way, that was not this world.

Kohar was getting older. That was clear- and her cultivation speed was not improving. With the general trending upward of the natural energy upon Ceretos and a reasonable amount of devotion, she had risen from her initial status at the peak of Body Tempering to eventually reach the peak of Spirit Building. And now, close to a hundred and fifty years after Anton had first begun interacting with her, she was slowly crawling her way into late Essence Collection. Each step was slower, and it was quite clear to Anton that she would not reach Life Transformation unless something exceptional happened.

“If you devoted all of your time to cultivation-” Anton began, but Kohar waved him off.

“Then I wouldn’t get anything important done. I can’t split my focus like you. I have to achieve my legacy the normal way. By raising a successor.”

Pointing out that he’d trained many who could potentially be his successor wouldn’t be valuable to the conversation, so Anton instead turned to consider Lynnette. She was the best and brightest of Kohar’s young trainees, taking to both energy cultivation and the law with gusto. “It will take a while yet for her to come even close to your experience.”

“Maybe…” Kohar said. “Though with that reading technique poring over an entire planet’s worth of laws might actually be achievable.”

“It helps that we’re consolidating some, I imagine.”

“Working from a good core is important… as well as stating why laws exist.” Kohar rubbed her forehead, “You have no idea how many laws were made for a specific problem that nobody remembers. Yet they remain on the books, enforced by people who are strict or petty or…” she waved her hands vaguely. “Actively evil, sometimes.”

“How long do you think it would take to come up with a reasonable system?” Anton asked.

“Depends. I’d say between five and five hundred years.” Kohar snorted, “Depending on if people would be willing to just throw out everything.”

“So closer to the long end.”

“Oh, I’m sure it could be measured in decades if people are cooperative. Also, it depends on if we’d be integrating with Weos and Rutera. Just laws for technology…”

“The laws should be similar regardless of technology,” Anton said. “Harming people is harm to them regardless of the tools. But I suppose that might have to be spelled out.”

“It sure does,” Kohar sighed. “I’m not going to be around forever, but at least I have people like Lynnette to imbue a good spirit into laws we work with.”

Anton nodded. She and those like her would work on that, and he would do his best to deal with those that didn’t care. Laws that were well crafted could protect people from day-to-day problems, when made by the right people. And though Anton understood them quite well, to the point he could be considered an expert by some, he found it much the same as formations. He could manage to deal with them, but true experts with proper devotion should be the ones if they were available.


Anton found himself in a new system. If they were to be interacting with the Sylanis Cluster peacefully, he needed to be able to visit all of it. Because he was not going to let himself be weak in territory he planned to frequent- his experiences on Gnadus being more than sufficient in that area- he bound to the star of the final system. Even if he had completely trusted the people involved- which he didn’t- appearing weak would also be a problem even if they didn’t try to kill him immediately.

Gemurn was an interesting planet full of life and many different sects. Its main feature was its great size. Though it shared the features of most habitable planets- appearing in a habitable zone a certain distance from stars, having an atmosphere and a solid terrain for plants and animals to live- it was significantly larger than the other examples. It was approximately twice the radius of Ceretos and thus the surface area was approximately quadruple, it still had a gravity close small enough for non-cultivators to survive. Clearly there were internal differences that made it less massive than it might appear. 

Today, Anton was not meeting with Worldbinding cultivators. That meant he could have sent someone else… but his presence would change the negotiations. Two sects inhabited a certain sort of forest that produced platinum oak trees with excellent features for making bows. Unlike Cheitov, only a small portion of Gemurn was devoted to forestry. This was a place inhabited and used for smaller scale operations. 

A small amount had been purchased for the Order of One Hundred Stars, but with their great numbers- and many inspired by Anton’s strength to train in the bow- he wanted to secure a greater supply. Platinum oak wood could be used for bows that beginners could use but also took well to enchantments, making them useful for those with greater requirements. 

The representatives of the Dazzling Glimmer Sect and the Dark Forest Sect were both present with Anton. They were in a neutral grove between the two, which ultimately meant an area claimed by both. While not exactly enemies, they certainly got into frequent scuffles. That was the information Anton came equipped with, hoping to use it to his own advantage. He didn’t intend to start an actual battle, but instead provoke competition that would allow him to get a reasonable price. What he was asking for was worth the effort.

“Gentlemen,” Anton said after proper pleasantries had been exchanged, looking at the respectively thin and squat representatives of the sects. “You know I have come here with plans to purchase platinum oak for the Order of One Hundred Stars. We have traded with both of you to some extent already. However, today I intend to ask for a bit… more. I wish not for just wood and lumber, but actual trees. And the requirements to grow them.”

The two stiffened. The man from the Dazzling Glimmer spoke up first, “We have maintained control of such things for quite some time now. Why would we just give it up?”

“Indeed,” the shorter man added, “It is a consistent flow of income for our sects. If you have reasonable requirements, we can sell you what you need at not unreasonable prices.”

Anton nodded, walking over to admire one of the trees. Its bark shone with a metallic glint, and though Anton could not say it truly resembled platinum on the outside, the inner parts were even more impressive. But the functionality was more important than its beauty, in the end. “I understand you would not wish to give up a monopoly. How could it be worthwhile? But actually… I have plenty of reasons it would be worthwhile. First of all, we are willing to pay a not insignificant price. That will allow you to invest in other areas now instead of growing slowly.”

“And yet, it is clear you desire this material greatly,” the first man said. “We don’t plan to gouge you, but we must charge what things are worth.” A true statement, more or less. Though perhaps if Anton was someone else the prices would be higher.

“There is more,” Anton said. “I have word that Aridasa has secured some number of seedlings of platinum oaks, though I do not know from where. In two or three decades, you could find yourself with significant competition.” Anton left out the small bit of information that Aridasa was assuming the first few generations would grow up scraggly and weak without knowing the precise conditions required. It could easily be a century before there was real competition from Cheitov. “You won’t maintain control over the materials forever. In addition, we can promise to not compete with your sales for a century.”

Eventually they would crack. Everyone did eventually. Frankly, as business minded individuals it would be crazy to not accept offers of certain sizes. Anton was at least partly sincere about everything. He didn’t intend to leave trading partners with a bad taste, though they might realize they could have gotten more later. 

If he liked them more, perhaps he wouldn’t negotiate for the best prices he could get on his end. But he was going to fight hard here, though he could hardly call himself a ruthless negotiator outside of war.


Anton didn’t know what made him go back to the hidden system again. It was a waste of time, weeks lost in total as he traversed between systems. What training he could do between systems hardly offset it. At best, he could consider it a break without any real sort of rest. Yet he went back… only to find something after several fruitless visits.

It was a note, and a small device where he had left his own. At a glance he could tell it was also meant to be a communication device. The note explained further, though he could hardly say there was much to it.

“Return only after the cycle is complete. Other devices have been destroyed. Keep secret.”

There was little more- simply a code phrase he was supposed to supply to the communications device, and the information that it would only work from the location he found it. But… there was a response. From people who spoke a familiar language, no less. That meant they were at least more recently removed from things than Gnadus. Anton seriously doubted they maintained any sort of contact with the upper realms now. Not with such a clearly intentional manipulation of the tides of the world around them. 

And it only took a few times as long as he expected for a response.

Anton considered the possibility he had been followed. This could have been a prank from Everheart, though the man would have more likely torn his way into the hidden system out of curiosity. The differing style of the device felt unique, however, so he was willing to believe it was genuine. And though people might understand he wandered off occasionally, that wasn’t particularly weird for someone like him. More importantly, they would have had trouble determining where he went without getting within range of his senses. There was very little that could compete with him in that regard, and that included Rutera’s best technology.

All he had to do was wait for the cycle to be over. Less than a hundred years- perhaps closer to sixty or seventy, now. It would become more clear as the time approached, but Anton felt that rather than two hundred at the upper end, it was closer to one hundred and sixty or one hundred and seventy after the previous invasion. Though both were still a great margin lower than the ‘typical’ six hundred. Too bad Ceretos didn’t have many records going back beyond the previous cycle.


When Vincent returned, Anton was surprised. Not because he thought the man was dead… but because reports of him had been widespread and consistent. Suddenly finding him back, finished with his efforts… that was what the surprise was.

“I suppose you have been successful, then?” Anton asked, looking the man over. He certainly felt stronger, the thrum of energy through him.

“I cannot say that yet,” Vincent admitted, stretching out his hand to Anton. “I am not quite finished yet.”

“I see,” Anton nodded with a smile, taking the man’s hand. “Am I the last?”

“A few I could not find to confirm life or death. Of the rest, I saved you. It felt right.”

A thin cord of energy stretched between Anton and Vincent. The latter was not drawing upon him- it was simply a connection. Perhaps he might be able to, but Anton was not concerned about Vincent abusing the possibility. 

The pulsing of energy within Vincent grew, as Anton and he stepped apart. Then the man- not yet old, but not young- closed his eyes and took a breath. When he opened them again, they revealed hidden depths, the reflections of others in his eyes. “Given that I have not exploded,” Vincent said. “I would have to say I have succeeded.”

“I would agree,” Anton smiled. “And I am glad for both. It is good to know you will remain.”

Previous Chapter-–Chapter Index–- Next Chapter

Leave a Reply