Truthful Transmigration 157

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The techniques available in the Tenebach clan’s library had been fully available to John for study for his entire time in this world, and the stores of techniques had expanded over time. He had learned a few simple but effective techniques at first, Hidden Steps for movement and Unbreakable Boulder as an earth element defensive technique along with Gravity Blade for control and offense. He had never found techniques quite suited to what he needed, but then again the vast majority of all techniques were made for those who used a single element. Instead he’d found that studying techniques had allowed him to develop some of his others.

Spiritual Energy Absorption was developed from him simply trying things out, and he’d eventually developed Sinking in the Mire, Clinging Affliction, and Bite of the Gorgon. He’d since learned a few minor air and water techniques, but most of his fighting style consisted of flexibility and combining elements. While he repeated some moves, they certainly hadn’t been formalized.

He was reminded of one he hadn’t been able to make use of when he first started. It wasn’t related to understanding or skill, but rather resources. The technique was called Diamond Defense, and it required ingesting diamonds infused with earth elemental spiritual energy. Since he’d been on shaky ground when first around, justifying the expense was difficult. Now he was the clan head and the clan itself was more prosperous, so it was not a problem to expend those resources.

It was unfortunate that the technique would be less effective, however. Not because it wouldn’t work, but because the degree of toughness it provided would be less significant. When going up against Spiritual Collection Phase or Foundation Phase cultivators, the level of defense it provided would be a powerful trump card- being able to completely block a blow without the use of spiritual energy would turn a battle. Against Soul Expansion Phase or Consolidated Soul Phase opponents? He wouldn’t rely on it to take a hit on its own.

But having an extra layer of defense was not something to be overlooked. Even lessening an injury could be critical. The difference between being stabbed halfway through the heart and just the surface being scratched was not something that could be overlooked.

So John had the materials gathered. They were not so rare they could not be bought in the markets, merely somewhat expensive. While the Order of the Amber Heart also had access to the technique, and doubtless others throughout the Stone Conglomerate, it was not enough that the market was drained. Everyone had to analyze whether the cost was worthwhile, and at the moment John thought it was. He even got some extra, in case he had some failures. Even if he didn’t need the spare materials, he could resell them on the market or perhaps make them available to others from the clan. While the Tenebach clan mainly practiced darkness, some of them and their retainers still used the earth element.

Training the technique was fairly simple once he had the proper materials. It was a bit odd to actually eat the diamonds, but all it required was some energy to break down the structure and then a specific circulation technique to strengthen the body. It took some time to complete, so John got in the habit of carrying around a small amount and eating them like snacks. It was… crunchy. When broken down it was a little sandy, but it was easy to remove that texture from his mouth. There wasn’t really any flavor, but absorbing the mixed earth element felt good.

One afternoon when he came back to his quarters he heard a faint crunching sound. It wasn’t terribly difficult to trace to its source, behind the bed. He stepped around to see Ursel munching on something. It didn’t take long to figure out what, either. He thought about stopping her, but he couldn’t help but watch what she was doing carefully. As far as he could tell, she was properly circulating her energy. If she wasn’t, she would have ended up with something between an awful stomach ache and an emergency.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. She was also properly breaking them down.

Should he stop her? That depended on a number of factors. Was she doing anything wrong? The triplets knew they had to be careful when training spiritual energy, but as far as he could tell she was. She was allowed to go pretty much wherever she pleased, and besides weapons she could generally take what she wanted. She was supposed to ask, however.

John decided it was better to not interrupt her for the moment. He would leave a note for her to find later, reminding her to ask before taking things. Though perhaps the way he had been casually ingesting the diamonds made it seem like they were common, so that could be his fault.

—–

Coordinating across large distances still wasn’t easy, though at least the Tenebach clan was conveniently central. Though that wasn’t exactly a coincidence, as they had spread out from the Stone Conglomerate to gather allies. Currently, their furthest allies were in the Sunfields- the Golden Tomb Guardians. The alliance hadn’t yet been tested, but John at least believed in the common goal they held. 

Now he had returned for another visit, this one equally uncomfortable as the last. Though he had gotten a new carriage, it was only slightly better at keeping unnecessary light element out. As a sect head he shouldn’t necessarily be so easily called to come to allies, but the Golden Tomb Guardians still had more established foundations than the Tenebach clan. And… apparently Cuah’arn wanted to speak with John again. If it were some sort of trap to kill him John would be very annoyed. Hopefully his earlier understanding that Cuah’arn held more of a grudge against the Society of Midnight and less against Ciaritzal held.

“Welcome,” John was greeted at the gates by Zacharie, one of the more prominent disciples of the younger generation. And he really had broken through to the Consolidated Soul Phase in the few years since they last met. “Sect Head Lambert requests your presence before you go elsewhere.”

“Of course,” John nodded. “Congratulations on your breakthrough. Still planning to make a bid for the position of governor?”

“You remembered. Indeed I am, though it won’t be easy. I’m still gathering support, and a significant victory would go a long way. Hopefully a victory over the Society of Midnight.”

“That’s the plan,” John nodded.

He was escorted past the ‘tomb’, which felt the same from the outside. Inside, John presumed Cuah’Arn should have recovered significantly, though perhaps it would be a longer process to recover such an old wound.

Many things flickered and shone in the area, and sect head Lambert’s hair was no different. The silvery glisten had not changed from last time, and John wondered if that was a natural result of techniques he practiced or simply a cosmetic feature he put effort into. “Welcome back,” the old man said. “We’ve been preparing our forces for some time. We obviously can’t send all of our warriors so far away, but we are able to provide more than earlier discussed. More numbers, and of course there’s Zacharie’s advancement to take into account.”

“Good,” John nodded. “We need all we can get. Despite the damage we have caused to the Society of Midnight, they should still be a significant threat. I’d rather not wait for them to make the next move, wondering when and where I might be attacked.”

“Yes, we’ll take the fight to them,” Lambert nodded, “I am sorry that I cannot come myself, but that would make our presence a bit too obvious, as well as being needed here.”

John nodded. The man was in the mid Consolidated Soul Phase, so he would have been quite beneficial… but they couldn’t expect a sect head to get involved with every conflict. Doubtless they had other enemies to deal with as well.

After discussing some further details, John was brought to see Cuah’arn. This time he did not enter alone, but was guided by Deirdre, the disciple who initially escorted him through the Sunfields.

It was nice to have someone leading the way through the traps, especially with the place filled with unceasing, blinding light. This was the place that made him really feel sick. He couldn’t even control it to keep it away from him, like he could with the fire element. Not beyond the most basic level, far too little to make a difference in the current area.

Then, suddenly, everything was better. The light around him retreated, most importantly the spiritual energy but also the majority of the actual light. John would have liked to say he did it himself, but he knew that wasn’t true. “Greetings once more, Fortrkan Tenebach,” came a voice from in front and above him.

He looked up to see Cuah’arn, though only dimly. He could make out a bird- vaguely eagle or the like- and little more. But that was better than being blinded. “Greetings to you as well, great Cuah’arn. Thank you for making me more comfortable.”

“A trivial matter, now that I do not have to focus on other matters.” He wasn’t sure if Cuah’arn didn’t want to mention it because Deirdre was around or for other reasons, but he supposed it wasn’t important. “I invited you here partially to thank you once more. Last time I was not particularly verbal with my feelings. In addition, I have a gift.” With a sweep of her wing, the guardian beast produced a glowing ball. 

It was oblong in shape, and slightly warm to the touch. It was at least a good twenty centimeters in the narrow dimension. “An egg?” John asked.

Deirdre gasped slightly. Cuah’arn provided some explanation. “An unfertilized egg. In such a state it is little more than an enduring bundle of light element, valuable in different ways to different people. It is of minimal effort for one such as I to produce, but a fitting boon. From what I understand, you would benefit from the study of such an object. Alternatively, it would make a fine weapon against the Society of Midnight should you wish to employ it as such. Though I would suggest if you plan to use it thusly that you hand it over to someone less vulnerable to the effects.”

“Thank you,” John said, bowing carefully. The egg didn’t feel fragile, but he could sense it was filled with great power. It was unfertilized, but he really didn’t want to be concerned about raising some sort of light element spirit beast anyway. Having a source of light to study and practice with, however, could be quite valuable. He was not confident that he would reach the Exalted Soul Phase in any case, but without some way to familiarize himself with light he would have no chance at all.

With nothing else to be said, John was escorted back out. As they went, Deirdre explained to him. “That is a great boon. Only a few times in the last century has Cuah’arn seen fit to bestow one of her eggs upon anyone, and it is my understanding that they were not so… substantial.”

“I will keep that in mind,” John said. “I must keep it safe. Perhaps it would be possible for the sect to help me find something like that?” Something that would keep it safe would also keep the light element from leaking out, which was probably more useful for him. He didn’t want to keep that sort of thing in his carriage, or even his house. As for the size or power of it, he imagined that it was easier for Cuah’arn to produce now, though that didn’t mean it wasn’t still an appropriate gift.

“I am certain we could provide something,” Deirdre said.

That was good, because even though it was good for his station in a way, openly carrying such a thing around the sect would seem rather arrogant. Walking out of the ‘tomb’ with it, however, was probably a great boost in local eyes. As for using it as a weapon… though it would be a shame to give it up, it felt like it had sufficient power to be worthwhile in a battle against the Society of Midnight. Especially if they turned out to be stronger than expected, it might be important.

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