(Patreon) Truthful Transmigration 181

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Slowly, ever so slowly motes of light elemental spiritual energy were drawn towards John’s hand. The speed was both a consequence of caution and simple inability to go more quickly. As they drew closer, small tendrils of darkness were drawn towards them. There was a flash, not of light but pure energy… and both were gone.

The same issues with the light element continued to bother John. He knew that light and darkness elements were not the same thing as light and darkness on Earth. For one thing, while light existed darkness did not. It was simply the lack of light, not a tangible thing. On Earth, that is. Here, he could hold it in his hand. But not all darkness nor all light was a product of spiritual energy, though they would tend to create them, or perhaps draw them from unknown places.

The important part was the spiritual energy itself and how it functioned. Darkness was… deception, concealment, falsity… a drawing in and a false weight. Light, in turn, projected itself outward. He had some other academic knowledge of it, but as for practically controlling it, it seemed to want to slip out of his grasp instead of cling to him. That could be in part his affinity for darkness, and in part the true nature of the energy.

There was an exception to its tendency to pull away from him- that was when light chanced upon a gathering of darkness. There, it was attracted to the pull of darkness… or perhaps it felt an innate hatred? Not that John thought spiritual energy by itself was capable of actual feeling. Certainly not in typical circumstances, though he wouldn’t rule it out completely. Perhaps that was what spiritual beasts were, in a way.

When light and darkness were drawn together, there was little else John could do to observe what was happening than watch the explosion. It didn’t matter if they were large or small, he got little out of it but a momentary sense of amusement. Perhaps they were simply incapable of existing in harmony. A full cycle might simply be impossible… though John thought he could at least finish the cycle of core elements. Presuming that he might reach the Exalted Soul Phase was a bit much regardless.

—–

As it turned out, John was wrong. Not about his likelihood of reaching the Exalted Soul Phase, but something closer and more observable. He wasn’t entirely wrong, but when he went to check on Melanthina’s progress he was surprised to say the least.

A blade of light swept down towards Melanthina, but her hand brought her dagger up to parry it. As her blade grazed against the light there should have been a swift rejection of energy, but instead she pulled it along like a trail, her dagger sweeping around towards her opponent’s chest. There, the trail of light snapped forward past the tip of her dagger before finally interacting with Melanthina’s own darkness element. There was an explosion of energy, relatively smaller in the grand scheme of things… but carefully directed away from Melanthina, costing her little and her opponent much. 

She was not able to achieve the same result every time. Occasionally, she would suffer to her disadvantage of reach and take a hit herself, whatever abilities she had to draw along the light useless. And sometimes her interactions went more according to the standard, her energy reacting immediately with her opponent and forcing them apart. But sometimes there was a dazzling trail of intertwining energy that tore into her opponent. Fortunately the safety precautions kept anyone from being too injured, but it was impossible to have a serious spar without some risk of injury, beyond a certain cultivation limit.

After her match Melanthina came running over to John, showing off an injury on her shoulder. A cut combined with a burn, skin reddish beyond the wound itself like she had spent too long in the sun. Hopefully it wasn’t quite that, because John didn’t want to think about skin cancer. Though it seemed that there was quite a bit cultivators could do to combat any health issues that arose, except for those caused by time itself. 

“Look at this!” she complained, “Ugh. Fighting against light element cultivators is a pain.” Melanthina grimaced. “Physically and mentally, too. My head hurts being here and thinking about the light element so much.”

“Are you learning, at least?” John knew she absolutely was, but whether she knew that was a different question.

“I guess,” she shrugged. “I was kind of hoping that they could teach me to fight against… light beams and stuff. Because I- well, because light cultivators do that kind of thing. But not many people here do, and not the same way that… some other cultivators do.” John nodded, waiting to see if she would continue. “I did try to make some darkness beams but… it wasn’t the same.”

“Projecting energy without a specialized technique is difficult, especially for the elements aligned with darkness. Unfortunately, I don’t know any method that does that. Which is why I throw daggers. Attached to something, it’s easier.”

“Slower though…” Melanthina frowned. “Kind of. It takes a moment for light techniques to reach their full power, so you can dodge them before they get there. But after that, they’re just there instantly.”

“It’s probably not instant,” John said. He assumed that the speed of light still applied in this world, even for light element techniques, “But it’s certainly close enough.”

“Yeah,” she nodded. “And it’s not fair that some people can like… redirect things to where you dodge or whatever. And light isn’t supposed to bounce off things!”

“That’s… exactly what most of it does,” John said. “That’s how vision works.” He avoided saying the other thing he wanted to say, because his daughter was still taking her loss very seriously. Enough that it screwed up her normal method of speaking as she tried to avoid saying certain things.

“Yeah but not like… like that,” Melanthina said. “Not like everything’s a mirror.”

“I imagine it takes a lot of training to accomplish that.”

“Yeah right!” Melanthina said. “Nik is barely even older than me! There’s no way he trained more than me! He’s not even important! Just some random disciple of a boring sect!”

John sighed. What was he supposed to do about this? He’d promised her a rematch, but he wasn’t sure if he could accomplish that without his daughter killing someone. Or worse. At least she was motivated with her training… though John couldn’t remain with her much longer. But the rest of the clan members would take care of her, and the Golden Tomb Guardians would as well.

—–

“We’re really going?!” Ursel danced around excitedly, shaking the room ever so slightly as she subconsciously made use of her energy. Normally she was better controlled than this, but circumstances were special here.

“I told you we would, didn’t I?” John smiled down at his second daughter. 

“Yeah but then you ran off with Melanthina for like, a year!” Ursel grumped.

“It’s been two months, and a good portion of that was travel time.” As John rubbed Ursel’s head, he realized that it was an extremely rare occasion for the triplets to not all be together… at least, staying at the same clan. Which meant one of them was always out of place. And from what John knew, Ursel herself always felt like that. She was still young and immature, so it wasn’t really a big deal… but it could feel like it. And as puberty came around, feelings were more important than ever. Feeling like you didn’t belong in the world wasn’t something John had terribly much experience with, but the fact that Ursel was upset about it more than nearly dying, he had to take it seriously even if later it wouldn’t be that relevant.

It wasn’t as if Ursel didn’t fit into the world as a whole. She was a cultivator, and would be a strong one once she had more time to grow. That was the easiest way to fit in… but she likely didn’t care about that as much as her family.

“We managed to get an opportunity to train with the Emerging Bamboo Sect like you wanted,” John explained, “But we can’t stay too long. Maybe three or four months, since we need to return within half a year.”

“… Four months?” Ursel hugged her father’s waist. “Thank you!” He held onto her. Even if she was going with the longer estimate, she at least seemed genuinely happy. It wasn’t even that long. Four months was just… actually, that was still a very significant portion of her life. She was still young, after all.

—–

The current excursion with Ursel was more something of the Order of the Amber Heart than a clan related activity. There were some members of the Tenebach clan who cultivated earth- they were located in the Stone Conglomerate after all- but the rest wouldn’t have much to gain from the journey. 

Their route took them through the southernmost parts of the Shimmering Islands and their sea, not because it was more direct but rather because it was safer. Most ships preferred to avoid the stormier parts of the sea unless they absolutely had to be involved, and when taking larger numbers of people that became a requirement. It wasn’t just John and Ursel on the Wavecutter. Captain Sohan was usually busy anyway.

It was a journey of weeks to arrive in the southern third of the Viridia Wildlands, but that was not the end. Instead, it was merely where they were able to make port, docks sequestered in the shelter of large mangroves. The salty trees continued for a considerable distance inland before being replaced by others more suited to the specific location. When they arrived, it was raining. And then it was sunny. Then it was a combination of both.

John wasn’t quite sure what allowed a rainforest to be oriented north-to-south instead of between specific lines of latitude, but the huge masses of spiritual energy certain places had was a greater effect upon weather patterns than things like the sun. At least, that seemed to be the case.

They were met at the docks by the Emerging Bamboo Sect, this particular group led by a woman named Chandra. She was on the brink of the Consolidated Soul Phase, close to the same age as John and Renato. The whole region was experiencing a period of strangely high cultivation growth, but that was just how things worked sometimes.

 “Greetings,” she bowed to the group. “We’re happy to receive your group for an exchange of knowledge. First, though, we must find our way to the Sect.” She gestured towards the forest behind her. “Come along. And don’t touch any of the plants.”

It was a very strange and ultimately impossible request. Or as John learned rather quickly, warning. Plants grew out over the road they were traversing, and though John thought it was because of infrequent traffic or neglect, he was quite wrong.

The disciples of the Emerging Bamboo Sect walked ahead, clearing the path. As their feet touched the ground, those in front released waves of earth element energy, driving the plants off the road, vines and roots coiling away. It seemed to be a frequent occurrence, as thick walls of plants flanked the roads on either side, even denser than the general rainforest around them. 

Yet even with the road cleared, John felt the plants growing back towards the road, seeking out any available sunlight it provided. It wasn’t just a hunch, he could actually feel some of them growing. Some might snake across the road within a few hours, others might take days or weeks… but before long, the road would be nearly impossible to find. 

John wondered why they would not cut the plants back. Many of them carried blades, heavy machetes meant for chopping through the jungles. They even used them on a few dangling vines, which seemed much easier than what they were doing with their energy. But he couldn’t quite be sure. Then he realized he should be watching in depth how they controlled the plants, because that was some of the training they had come for.

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