Bastian had requested to the General that they stay at the inn for a few days longer. Although the General was at war, so far there had only been minor skirmishes. The real battles had yet to come.
Bastian had told Ben to leave on the next day. He wanted Ben to go the enemy’s headquarters and find out as much as he could. This was Ben’s specialty, so he was happy to be of use. He immediately left on horseback.
Ben was not a member of the Flaming Winds Army, nor was he well known, so his travels were likely to go unhindered. He then left the majority of the coins he had with Bastian. Bastian gave those coins to V for safe keeping. She could also use them as she wished. This amount of money was not really anything to the two.
Inside their room, Bastian was sitting cross legged on the floor. His eyes were closed. Beads of sweat had covered his face, his expression showed deep concentration. V was standing next to him, her arms crossed, looking down on him as if he was her servant.
Bastian opened his eyes and sighed heavily. “It’s impossible V. It’s not working.”
“How? With a soul as powerful as yours, this should be as simple as breathing!” said V, rather displeased.
Since yesterday, V had been trying to get Bastian to achieve Harmonization, so he could begin cultivating. She had assumed that perhaps he did not know how to properly use his Soul Force. So she spent hours, explaining the depths and difficulties of cultivation.
Bastian already knew most of this, due to his background but he humored her and nodded his head like a good boy.
There were however, a few interesting things he did not know. He had always been taught that whether or not one become a warrior or a mage depended on one’s body. The individual could not decide. V told him otherwise.
According to her whether or not one becomes a warrior or a mage, in other words, whether or not one used qi or mana, was decided by how one guided his or her World Energy during its first circulation.
Apparently warriors had a shorter route, one that never went past one’s neckline. Mages on the other hand, had long routes, which always went past the neckline, sometimes even going near their brain. Going to one’s brain was not advised in the slightest. One mistake could kill an individual.
Before all of that though, one must achieve Harmonization. This was a state where World Energy transforms one’s body, and enters into a harmonious relationship with it. If one possessed two or more affinities, then not only must world energy harmonize with one’s body, but the different elemental energies must harmonize with each other, which was far more difficult than normal Harmonization.
Especially in Bastian’s case. Water and Fire could not mix. They repel each other. So they were very difficult to harmonize. In such cases, one usually used Soul Force to force the elements into harmony. This was called Forced Harmonization, and it was usually frowned upon by cultivators.
The reason was because people who used Forced Harmonization, were weaker than those who did it normally. It also shortened one’s lifespan. Thus it was used as a last resort. Sebastian’s family in the past had forced the boy to attempt it, but alas, his affinity for both elements was too high. The World Energy in his body was too pure for his soul to achieve Forced Harmonization.
V believed Bastian’s soul was strong enough, so she pestered him into trying it. Bastian agreed and tried for many hours but failed.
I can even guide world energy into another person’s body, why can I not do this in my own? Even if I had perfect affinities for both elements, this should not be as difficult.
I now have a far more powerful soul, but it’s still not enough!
The two had assumed that Forced Harmonization would be easier than what Bastian had done to V, and normally that would be the case, but what they didn’t know was that when Bastian’s soul fused with Sebastian’s soul and body, a change occurred. His affinity for both elements surpassed the realm of perfect!
Raising elemental affinity was impossible If one was only in the Foundation Realm of cultivation, even then it required a lot of Soul force to achieve this. Once one ascended past the Foundation Realm, one’s soul increased in power, improving one’s elemental affinities with it.
Affinities are divided into ranks. These were little, average, good, excellent and perfect. These were the affinities known to most cultivators, but what our duo did not know was that there were affinities above perfect.
This was a secret only known by the top cultivators on the continent. There were two affinities above perfect. These were, supreme and ultimate!
Bastian had acheived a supreme affinity for both elements. This happened the moment he gained e-vision.
It was impossible to achieve Forced Harmonization for World Energy of the supreme elemental affinity.
Unfortunately our duo did not know this at the time, so they continued in vain.
After a few more hours of trying, the two eventually gave up and slumped onto the bed.
V: “I do not understand, this should have worked.”
Bastian: “It seemed water and fire really did not mix.”
V: “If only my Master could see you. She loved meeting freaks of nature like you.”
Bastian snorted at her remark, V was amused and giggled, and continued to reminisce, “Master Taiji was a good person, how sad that she had to leave…”
V was lost in her own memories, when suddenly Bastian sprang up from the bed and went on top of V.
“Y-you! What on earth are you doing?” V was furious. Bastian’s actions were extremely inappropriate.
Bastian ignored her and held her shoulders. “V what did you just say? Did you say Master Taiji?” Asked Bastian whilst shaking her shoulders.
“Get off me you pervert!” V shoved Bastian off her body. She put in more strength that she had. Bastian, as a result, flew until he hit the opposite wall with his back and fell down.
V got up from the bed in a hurry. She realized what had just happened, and started freaking out thinking that she might have hurt him.
Damn! It’s his fault for doing something so weird!
She hurried over to Bastian and was about to lift him up, when he stood up on his own.
“The taiji! That’s it!” After babbling some more nonsense, he grabbed V’s hand and bolted out of the room with her.
A few miles away from the city, the duo were doing something, or to be more accurate, Bastian was doing something. V was just watching him. On the way here Bastian kept mumbling the word ‘taiji’ over and over again.
This was the name of V’s master. She found it strange that he knew it.
Could he have known master? Impossible! Master hates nobles. Very few know of her, especially her name.
V had continually questioned Bastian on the way over and over again but he just kept saying her Master’s name over and over. Eventually she gave up and just followed him.
After some time Bastian finally stopped about 10 miles outside the city. They were in the middle of nowhere. There were no roads, no plants, nothing. There was just desert sand everywhere.
Bastian knelt to the floor and started drawing something on the sand with his hand. At first she thought that he was just drawing a strange circle. After he was done however, she realized that there was more to it.
It was a circular drawing about half a meter in diameter. It looked like two curved raindrops joined together, one raindrop was facing upwards and the other downwards, with a clear boundary that was in the shape of something that looked like an inverted ‘S’ between them. Both the raindrops, had a very small circle in them.
The curved raindrop on the left was facing upwards, the tiny circle was in the middle of its top half, whilst the curved raindrop on the right was facing downwards with its circle in the middle of its bottom half.
After drawing on the ground Bastian started digging into the sand a meter away from the drawing, the sand on the top had a darker shade, whilst the sand at the bottom was of a lighter shade.
Bastian took the sand that was of a lighter shade and sprinkled it on the curved raindrop that was on the left. He sprinkled it everywhere on the left side, except for the tiny circle within. He made sure that the sand filled the surface of the raindrop on the left and did not even touch the curved raindrop on the right. Then, he took some of the remaining sand that was of a lighter shade and sprinkled it into the little circle that was inside the curved raindrop on the right, making sure that none of the sand was outside the little circle.
The result was a circle composed of two curved raindrops that were facing opposite directions, the curved raindrop on the left facing upwards was of a lighter shade but it had a little dark circle within, were as the curved raindrop on the right facing downwards was of a darker shade yet it had a little circle, that was of the lighter shade.
It was one of the most mesmerizing things V had ever seen. The drawing had an interesting uneven symmetry about it, and it looked incredibly balanced.
“What on earth is this?” said V with a mesmerized look on her face.
“This my dear is the taiji, the symbol that represents the balance between yin and yang, darkness and light, good and evil, life and death, and all opposing forces in the universe,” said Bastian with a smug grin.
V looked at Bastian with astonishment. She had never seen this before. How could this possibly have anything to do with what they were doing? That’s when Bastian’s words reverberated in her mind.
Darkness and light, good and evil…these are opposites that repel each other!
V was stunned by her sudden realization.
Bastian saw that she understood what he meant, so he continued.
“And if I’m right, this will allow me to achieve harmonization!”
In a large room at a different place, was a round table. Three people sat on large lavish chairs around that table. Behind each person was a group of soldiers and attendants.
Two of the seated people were old men. One was stocky and fat, whilst the other was tall and thin. The third person was a beautiful woman. She was wearing red leather armor across her entire flawless body. Her beautiful red hair was reaching down to her waist. She radiated confidence that bore down on everyone in the room. Her red eyes were as enchanting as every other part of her body. Her beauty was unparalleled.
She was General Vermalen.
“General Fritz, General Isaac, I have convened this emergency meeting for two reasons.” said Vermalen as she crossed her arms on her large chest.
General Isaac, the fat stocky old man bellowed in anger, “I hope this is as important as your messenger claimed it was. I was in the middle of doing something very important.”
Fritz grunted, showing his disapproval as well.
One of the attendants behind Vermalen, a beautiful woman wearing a red and gold robe, stepped forward to alleviate the tension.
“Gentlemen, I assure you my Mistress did not call you in vain.”
She was Sula. She was Vermalen’s second in command, and was the rumored Scholar who had struck fear in the hearts of many. She was also the brains behind the Blazing Army, and now effectively the Alliance.
The hood on her robe covered most of her face, but her cherry red lips and soothing voice were hard to ignore.
She was wearing robes that mages typically wore. These were designed to be loose fitting, but they failed to hide her voluptuous figure.
“We have received news that General Moto now has a new tactician, who also happens to be a powerful Mark Bearer.”
Her news stunned the old men. General Isaacs started panicking. He did not want to be the enemy of a Mark Bearer. Although Vermalen claimed to be one, she refused to show her mark.
“Which leads us to our next point of business. The reshaping of our organization. From this point on we are no longer the Three Fangs Alliance. We are all now part of the Blazing Army, “said Vermalen in a commanding tone.
“Impudence!” General Isaacs’ hand slammed onto the table. He was enraged by Vermalen’s words. “How dare you attempt to take over? I will not allow myself to be ordered around by whores! Fritz let’s leave.” The Fat man stood up, and expected his companion to follow.
Only to see that he did not. Fritz was a man of very few words but when he spoke, his words had weight. “Isaac, sit down. I have already agreed to become her subordinate. Your men have also agreed, only you haven’t realized what was happening.”
That’s when Isaacs saw that his men had their swords drawn, aimed at Isaacs himself!
“Pola, Siren, Jonah! What is this treachery?” said Isaac feeling betrayed.
“The one who betrayed us is you General, all you do is eat, sleep and visit brothels the whole day, leaving us to do all the work. We are tired of being treated like crap. We are also tired of serving under someone so unskilled and has pledged ourselves to Supreme General Vermalen.” said one of Isaacs’ former men.
“That’s right Isaac, your men have pledged allegiance to me. Sula shall become my Right General and Fritz my Left General. Your skills are no longer needed.” As soon Vermalen said this, Isaac was stabbed, straight in his chest, by one of his own men!
He died instantly, filled with regret. His fat corpse fell lifelessly to the ground.
“Someone clean up this mess!” Said Sula.
“Yes General.” said one of Isaacs former men.
After the corpse was disposed of, both Fritz and Sula stood up and walked toward Vermalen. They knelt on one knee and shouted in unison. “We pledge ourselves to Supreme General Vermalen”
Everyone in the room followed suit.
The sound of many knees hitting the floor echoed throughout the room. “We pledge ourselves to Supreme General Vermalen!”