Truthful Transmigration 240

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The motives of the Molten Sea were easily presumed with regards to the leviathan. Many of their cultivators specialized in both fire and water, so a powerful source such as the leviathan could be of interest for many reasons. The sky islands were a more difficult topic. The majority specialized in earth and air- while the leviathan was pure water. Perhaps it was as simple as water supporting air, and the scale of power involved being of sufficient benefit. Or perhaps they knew something more about the creature, something which even the Shimmering Islands did not know.

The leviathan had been the cause of much research for Matayal, with no meritorious results. Certainly, there were records of great sea creatures but the scale of them was far less than the leviathan. Going back several centuries was insufficient to find any true records of such a thing, though Matayal didn’t find it that strange. If it had been buried in the deep sea for so long, few cultivators would have had cause to get anywhere near it. As it was, the creature was embedded in the majority of the sea floors and cliff faces in the depths. It wasn’t impossible that it melted its way through the stone or otherwise arrived in that situation unnaturally, but on the surface it appeared as if the layers of rock and sand had simply formed atop it through mineral deposition. 

Finding little information through other means, Matayal decided to go towards the source. The Sky Islands had to know why they were doing what they were doing. At least some of them. The rest would at least know who was in charge of things, which was at least progress. There were rumors of Ascending Soul Phase cultivators among the Molten Sea and Sky Islands, but no actual names had been confirmed to be present in the region.

Of course, Matayal could not simply go around asking people. They would at best tell her non-secret information, the sort they could already easily acquire. At worst, they would take her for an enemy- which in a way, she probably was. Both personal danger or trouble for the Brandle clan would be a negative outcome in such a case.

So she had to be secretive about it. The best method seemed to be catching some of their messenger birds, but obviously that wasn’t so simple. They were swift, and trained to fly high to avoid projectile attacks. The easiest time would be to ambush one upon release, but that also carried with it the highest risk of being caught. A messenger bird going missing was one thing, but those who sent it would most likely watch it for some distance as it flew away. 

After that point, it was more difficult to track. Fortunately, the limited area that the Sky Islands had cut through the northern end of the Darklands to reach the sea narrowed the range of likely routes and destinations. Even if the birds were returning all the way to the Sky Islands, part of the route would be similar. 

Not all messages would be going through such routes- many would come with their people on ships. However, more time sensitive and likely more important messages would take the fastest methods. 

Matayal had so far made several unsuccessful attempts, but as word came in from her spotters, she felt confident in her chances. The particular birds were vaguely familiar to the Shimmering Islands, specifically those who could fly high and for long distances on the winds. They did not land except at their destinations, meaning she couldn’t hope to catch one resting.

While it might be possible to keep up with certain ships, it would be quite obvious. Instead, she intended an ambush along the way to capture the target as quickly as possible. She swirled the water beneath her in anticipation. She’d considered forming a waterspout, but they could hardly stretch high enough into the sky to take out a bird flying outside of bow range. Not without the inclusion of a powerful wind cultivator as well, but these birds were sensitive to the air element above all.

This made Matayal’s chances look hopeless, but she had one method left to attempt. Releasing her grip on the waters below, she extended her efforts towards the skies. The messenger birds liked to fly high, sometimes even above the clouds for cover… which meant by predicting its route, she could take control of a group of clouds it was going to near. 

Of course at such a distance, Matayal could barely do much of anything even as a Consolidated Soul Phase cultivator. Extending her power multiple kilometers meant she only had a tiny fraction of her strength for the same effort, perhaps as little as a single percent. But she was not fighting a Consolidated Soul Phase cultivator or even a Soul Expansion Phase cultivator, but rather a beast with a more modest cultivation. It would be rare for it to even be comparable to the late Foundation Phase in terms of combat strength. 

So, as it flew above a cloud, the cloud itself folded in on the bird. A bird such as this could fly even with heavy moisture, as it would drip off of its body. However, that was water without intention. Under Matayal’s control, water condensed onto the creature’s wings and clung to it. She even forced it to begin the freezing process. 

From a close distance there would have been no contest. From this distance, the creature’s limited spiritual energy protected it instinctually, but while it was able to prevent the water and her energy from infiltrating its body, she still froze a layer around it, limiting the flapping of its wings and more importantly adding significant weight. The main thing that allowed birds to fly was their low density, and some could not even fly with a full belly. The message itself would be lightweight, but water was quite dense- even if it was marginally less so as ice. As it lost height, it became easier and easier for her to control the creature’s bonds. It managed to shake some of it off as it dropped, but even the small portion of the cloud that properly clung to the bird caused it to finish its spiraling descent into the sea. Matayal leapt in after it, directing her ship to follow. She would swim faster than they could move, and she didn’t want to risk damage to the message.

A minute later, she had retrieved the creature. Most likely it would be slain, though they could perhaps fake some damage to the carrying straps if they wanted it to seem like an accident. That would be decided later, for now it was caged. 

The message itself was in a sealed container, to the benefit and detriment of Matayal. It was safe from the elements… and from her. If she opened the container in the wrong way, it would likely destroy the contents. That would take some study. But, they finally had something. Hopefully, it was something useful.


It was a week of effort to safely open the message container, though Matayal would have gladly waited longer given her time spent waiting for the opportunity to capture one. As a final precaution, Yonit was the one who actually opened it. There didn’t seem to be enough spiritual energy entangled in it to actually hurt someone, but it was better to not risk it.

He twisted apart the last strands of detectable protections, tore apart the lock, and dumped a rolled scroll into his hand. He unfurled it, looking at it before shaking his head. “It’s in code. No, a special cipher.” He turned it towards Matayl. “Look, the character set isn’t even the same as ours.”

Matayal sighed. “I guess the next step is to get some cipher specialists to decode this. Though if it’s any good, we’ll need a clue to pick it apart.” She looked it over. “Unless we are lucky enough to be able to guess, but I certainly can’t at this point. A few shapes seem familiar, but I have no idea if they fit to the sounds I would assume.”

Instead of being discouraged, Matayal was intrigued. Anything worth inventing such a cipher for had to be valuable. Unless the Sky Islands just used ciphers for all messages, which was quite possible. If it was common, it would be easier to decipher- either manually or by finding someone who already knew how it worked. At the bare minimum, there had to be one person on either end who understood it. If they weren’t a specialist, they might even have something written down. It was too early to attempt infiltrating somewhere controlled by the Sky Islands, of course. 

Better to not spark a conflict, especially after her husband and the Molten Sea. She didn’t blame him for what he did, but it was inconvenient. 


“Now remember,” Yustina said to Lucanus- or Steve, but she avoided using that name since it would be strange if it were overheard. “You are here along with me because…?”
“I’m strong and I’m your husband?”

“That’s… technically correct,” Yustina admitted. “But I meant specifically your role. You’re here to protect me-”

“Like you need it.”

“I might,” Yustina shrugged. “Anyway, to protect me and not to be involved in the negotiations.”

“Hey,” Lucanus held up his hands, “Things went great with the Furnace Sect. They like me.” She looked at him, her eyes steady. “And I told you the Red Iron Sect wouldn’t want me to be around.”

“That didn’t mean you had to set on fire the first person who looked at you funny!”

“… Did it not help the negotiations?”

Yustina frowned. “Obviously n- well, I mean. They were rather timid after that. But this next group has no history with you, good or bad. So please let me handle things.”

“Sorry,” Lucanus said. “I try.”

Yustina wrapped her arms around him. “I knew you were like this when I chose you. But we’re being relied on for something bigger this time.”

“Like raising our children,” Lucanus nodded. “Working together, I think they’re turning out well. So… make sure to ask if you need me.”

“To beat someone up?”

“It’s called exchanging pointers in this world,” Lucanus nodded seriously. “And I know you can do it yourself, but you’re usually not flashy enough.”

“I’ll keep that under advisement,” she said. “For the moment, though, unless specifically instructed I don’t want you to get involved except for standing there looking tough.”


The Aesthetic Blaze were firm believers that form was function. It was a component of their cultivation that spread over into all aspects of the sect. It led to buildings carefully formed from the sands themselves, sparkling viridian in the sun. It was also the cause of braziers, fully lit along the paths despite it being midday. That would have made it unnecessarily hot, except for the way the vaulted ceilings channeled the temperature away from occupied locations.

Their diplomatic location strangely didn’t favor their own sect, but instead the prominent feature was a central brazier around which all participants stood, with enough room for about a dozen in the center, or many more if they were willing to take a place in concentric circles radiating out and up in the room.

There Yustina stood with Lucanus behind her, across from the sect head, a man barely past his prime- after factoring in the slowed aging from cultivation advancements. Sect Head Witold. “So, Yustina Milanovic. What business does your clan have to discuss with us?”

“It is a matter of importance to the whole of the Green Sands. Obviously you are aware of the Sky Islands cutting a route through the southern territory and the Darklands.”

“We are, but what of it? They have not come here.”

“Not yet,” Yustina admitted. “And though the Milanovic clan is more distant, we don’t believe that is the only relevant factor. The Wuthering Steppes and the Darklands are not our allies, nor our own territory, yet we cannot ignore the intrusion.”

“We most certainly can. It has been years.”

“And if they choose to take up permanent residence? I understand your hesitation. The Sky Islands are a powerful alliance. But if we unify against them, we can overcome them.”

“Are you not also dealing with the Molten Sea up north…?” Witold asked. “Your allies seem to have come into conflict with them.”

“Though it might not appear to be, it is the same matter. Are you aware that they both expanded into the Shimmering Islands?”

“Even more removed from us, and of little concern.”

Yustina almost got mad at how flippant this man was. Fortunately, she had someone to do that for her. Truthfully, she found that Lucanus had been doing quite well keeping himself in check. And spewing just the right amount of fire out of his nostrils? As long as he could hold it there, she would appreciate it.

“I suppose you wouldn’t want to know what great treasure attracted them, then,” Yustina shrugged.

“As tantalizing as such a thing might be, I am well aware the Aesthetic Blaze would never be the one to control anything of such value, regardless of what it is.”

“Perhaps not,” Yustina admitted. “But it would be beneficial to be allied with those who do. And I don’t think you’d receive many benefits from the others when they pull out of the region with our… resources.” Yustina intentionally used the final word to keep it a mystery. It might have been a factor she only had assumptions about what it was, shared with the rest of their alliance, but mystery was also quite practical for enticement’s sake.

“We might be interested in hearing what this thing is,” Witold took the bait. Good enough for a start. From there, she could make him want to be part of their larger- if more temporary- alliance.

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