Elder Cultivator 646

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The perspective of the Northern Glacier Sect on cultivation was interesting, but not as interesting as their physical location. Anishka knew that a glacier on the edge of the ocean was prone to dropping chunks of itself as it made its way into the sea, but something about the specific natural circumstances let it extend further, and some formations had stabilized it further to let them place their sect buildings directly on the glacier, slowly but inevitably drifting out to sea. 

She was looking down into the sea, watching the relatively rare ice floes drift about. Then her concentration was broken by something. “Oh, yes. I’m ready.”

The technical reason she was at this position was a formal spar, for training. In truth, she’d been looking forward to it. Not because of anything due to the man she was going to be sparring with, but because she had ideas for a new usage of her abilities. 


Anishka took her stance, carrying no weapons. On the other side, her opponent had a wide-bladed axe. She wouldn’t be blocking that directly, though on the other hand her opponent wasn’t going to use it only for direct attacks. It was a tool that enhanced the Northern Glacier Sect’s style. 

A wide sweep proved exactly that point, slicing the air into shards of ice that flung themselves towards her. Anishka waved her hand, a burst of flames that were only just hot enough to melt the tips of a portion of the ice shards filling the air. She wasn’t confident in dodging every single one of them. Combat was something she only did as necessary to attain enlightenment, instead of as her primary focus.

The two cultivators moved around the area. Heavy snow limited their motions, but beyond that Anishka’s opponent also sneakily hardened layers of ice beneath their steps. When Anishka followed after them, or even stepped close to anywhere they had been, there was a chance she would step onto slippery ice, weakening her footing and opening her up for attack.

Even though she was repeatedly bombarded with attacks, Anishka remained passive. She already knew she could overwhelm people with flames, so competing in a contest of pure strength didn’t interest her. It would also bring too much interest upon her, and more people would want to spar. Anishka liked the opportunities every once in a while, but not nearly as much as anyone from Ekict.

Then the time came. She got close to her opponent, and the man took a deep breath. Icy winds coated her as he exhaled, a layer of ice coating her. He stepped forward to take advantage of the opening, then froze himself. Ice melted off of Anishka as she considered the situation. It wasn’t quite as efficient as she wanted, but she couldn’t say she was disappointed either. Instead of creating the heat herself, she simply pulled it from her opponent, letting it perform double duty. She’d done so rapidly enough that she even flash-froze a layer of natural energy around her opponent. Sure, he wasn’t particularly powerful, but their cultivations were similar enough.

That layer shattered a moment later, but Anishka already had flames swirling around her hand, reaching out towards him. He looked as if he would continue the fight for a moment, then he shook his head. “I concede.”

Good. That would save them both time. “Well fought,” she said. That was the polite thing to say, and she tried to mean it. She wondered if she should attempt to go up against someone more firmly in Essence Collection. Perhaps that was too arrogant, but she’d undoubtedly learn something.


The Sergeant had no choice but to consult with Anishka. It was risky, but she felt she had discovered important information. She wasn’t growing stronger quickly enough to be certain she could retrieve the information. They might be here a year, or only a couple months. Asking Anishka to wait longer in the latter case would also be suspicious.

“What would taste existentially vague with a coating of ice?”

Anishka closed her eyes, thinking. Then opened them. Surely she had a profound answer. “Sorry, what? That was a very complicated sentence.”

Oh. She did say her void ant sign wasn’t perfect. And she was still quite young. Many people didn’t learn it at all, so the Sergeant couldn’t truly complain. “I found something that tasted cold, with another strange thing inside.”

“What sort of thing?”

“… someone’s energy.”

“So, cold concealing… something else? Another cultivation technique? Or maybe an offshoot of the Northern Glacier Style.”

“It was completely unrelated,” the Sergeant declared confidently.

“Sorry, can’t think of anything,” Anishka shrugged. “Except the Twin Soul Sect. But they should be…” Anishka frowned. “Dammit. Who?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“You don’t remember who?”

“Too dangerous.”

“That’s even more reason for me to know!”

“… I don’t know her name,” the Sergeant admitted.

“Aha. So it’s a woman.”

“N-no! Not necessarily. That’s the default void ant pronoun.”

“Definitely a woman,” Anishka nodded. “Is it… the sect head? Arzu?”

“No. I mean, I won’t tell you who.”

“Not her. One of the other Life Transformation cultivators. Seems dangerous.”

The Sergeant twitched. It was her duty to provide accurate information for the queens. But Anishka was also a princess. How complicated. 

“What is it?” Anishka was annoyingly perceptive.

“Stronger,” the Sergeant admitted.

“Stronger than the sect head? Is there anyone like that?” Anishka frowned.

“Stronger than Life Transformation.”

“That’s… not even possible,” Anishka said. “You must have been confused.”

“Your own mother is beyond Life Transformation.”

“Well, yeah. But she’s an Assimilation cultivator. They don’t have those here.” 

The Sergeant didn’t respond.

“Unless it really is the Twin Soul Sect, with a hidden Integration cultivator… we have to tell someone!”

“Who?” the Sergeant had to wave wildly for a while to get Anishka’s eyes to lock back on her and repeated the question. “Who would we tell? Nobody could protect us.”

“I could message my mother…”

“Will she accept your word?”

“Of course!”

“Even if your word is just what I tasted?”

“Uh… well, she’d definitely… do something.”

“Could you be certain your messages would reach her safely?”

“Yeah, obviously. Ekict doesn’t have the technology to intercept it.”

“They also don’t have post-Life Transformation cultivators.”

“… Dammit. What do we do? Should I just ask to go back?”

“Not yet,” the Sergeant was in deep. With missions conflicting, she was stepping far beyond reasonable bounds. “Just wait for me to grow strong enough to sneak into the records room.”

“You need to get in there?” Anishka asked. “I could help.”

This was not what was supposed to happen. But also… the Sergeant couldn’t be sure a successful intrusion would go unnoticed. “… Fine. I will allow it.”


“Thanks for this,” Anishka said to the man barely older than her who opened the door for her. “I’m really interested in organizational structures. Is that weird?”

“N-no, of course not,” he said, blushing. “I-I also like… records.”

Anishka was glad for the old remnants of the emotionless techniques of the Frostmirror Sect. She didn’t want to show her nervousness. Confidence was key. And just doing something forbidden was nerve wracking. She also didn’t want to convey the wrong idea to this gullible disciple. 

Anishka was bad at lying, but she was interested in organizational structures. It was part of everything, after all. She might as well use this time to actually learn something. And as she picked through the records, with careful eyes on her to make sure she didn’t go towards anything secret, a tiny ant crawled down her arm and onto the shelf.


Shelf to floor to shelf to floor, it was an unfathomably large journey. Unfortunately, the shelves were not set up such that an ant could see the labels on them from the ground. That required climbing up for a better angle or even crawling over the lettering and slowly discerning its shape.

The Sergeant realized she’d left out some crucial information when Anishka offered this. Like the fact that she could only sort of read. But she was going to get a whole lot of practice, once she could figure out whether she wanted ‘disciple records’, ‘elder records’, or ‘sect records’. One would presume the individual in question was an elder, but they might be part of another category entirely. Perhaps pretending to be a lowly disciple, or at least someone of less note.

There was another issue. Reading was meant to be done in a specific manner, by people with hands on a flat surface. Not in books standing vertically, or rolled scrolls. The Sergeant squished her way inside many a book and the rolls of scrolls, pressing her face against one letter at a time, while simultaneously trying to let light past her so she could see.

During her efforts there were some… accidents. Small tears people probably wouldn’t notice, but that seemed blatant to the Sergeant. And if there were enough of them, people would get suspicious.

Then there was another problem. Not knowing how much time passed, the records room was quiet. Not even the sound of giant humans breathing. That meant Anishka had left without her. She was supposed to have climbed back on her, but… apparently missed it. And Anishka might not have noticed she wasn’t there. It was quite sensible to think the Sergeant would be well hidden.

… The Sergeant was also hungry. At least there was always natural energy to eat. There wasn’t much ambient energy, but the formation barriers at the exit was there… and one of the sections of records.

That was what the Sergeant needed. Time to dive into this.


“What the hell, Sergeant?” Anishka said with surprise when her friend returned. “You’ve been gone for a week! I went back into the records room but I couldn’t find you. Where have you been? What have you been doing?”


“Did you sleep in the records room? I guess you’re small enough to not be noticed, but that can’t be comfortable.”

“I do not sleep.”

“Wha- of course you do. At least a little.”

Legs and antennae waved about slowly. “Perhaps peons sleep, but I have transcended such needs. I am reborn.”

“… That sounds like something someone who hasn’t slept for a week would say. Did you find the information.”

“Yes.” She signed the individual letters for a new name. “Nurcan.”

“Nurcan… what?”

“Just Nurcan. She was a disciple during the invasion. Peak Life Transformation. Then records say… Transferral.”

“What does that even mean?” Anishka asked. “Hello? Sergeant?”

“Yes ma’am?”

“What does Transferral even mean?”

“To move something.”

“I know that! But like, as a cultivation thing. Did this Nurcan have a Twin Soul Sect cultivator transfer into her? And the sect knows about it?”



“Yes! Princess! I am fully conscious and alert!”

“… Have you eaten anything in the last week?”

“I have consumed sufficient quantities of natural energy.”

“Have you eaten food?”

“… I am uncertain if I can properly digest paper.”

Anishka sighed. “We need to have you eat something. Then figure out what this Transferral thing is.”


Aoibhin sighed. It had obviously been too good to be true, outsiders offering aid and enlightenment. Sure, they weren’t part of the upper realms… but they hadn’t really shown up to provide a benefit to Ekict. They wanted something of their own. The promised enlightenment was dangled like bait, and now there were spies on their planets. 

Sure, they were there for cultivation exchanges… but they were all spies. After all, that was the same with Aoibhin. She was tasked with finding out about Assimilation and Worldbinding, but despite what the Trifold Alliance had said, it had been more than a few years and there was no dissemination of such information. 

But that was only to be expected. This was just how cultivators operated, keeping their secrets. It was all about who could maneuver to achieve the upper hand. And though the Trifold alliance was clearly powerful, that was exactly what was going to benefit Ekict. Aoibhin herself was merely there to look, but there were a good number of prospects ready to undergo Transferral when they obtained an opportunity.

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