In the middle of a vast desert, a long procession of people was moving in a single file. In that procession, there were many types of people.
Some were in chains and were shackled, walking barefoot. Some were in mobile cages, being moved by horses, others were riding horses themselves whilst holding whips, shouting at the shackled slaves who were moving slowly. From time to time the sound of a whip lashing human flesh could be heard, immediately followed by a scream.
In one of the mobile cages, Bastian and his new friend, or rather his bodyguard, Enetty a.k.a. V, were sitting. Bastian was sitting cross legged, meditating. Whilst V was sitting there lazily. They had gotten used to the screams, or rather Bastian had. Due to her history, V wasn’t bothered in the slightest.
Her companion on the other hand wasn’t so calm. Part of Bastian’s soul was from modern day earth, where such things would have been seen as being atrocious. Thankfully, he had his other half. Otherwise he would not have been able to stand it, seeing how some of the slaves were being treated. To remain unbothered by the stench of sweat and blood and unmoved when he saw their segregated flesh burning under the scorching heat, these were things his old self wouldn’t have been able to handle.
After realizing there was little he could do, Bastian gave up. There was no point in freeing slaves randomly, not to mention he himself was not in a good position either.
He didn’t want to use his Mark’s suppression effect. He feared that if he did so, word would get out that he is a Mark Bearer. V had told him that these days proper Mark Bearers were rare. The majority had become Custodians. If therefore, word got out that a true Mark Bearer, who was a little boy no less, existed, they would be in trouble. Thus Bastian could only clench his jaw and get used to the sights.
Relatively speaking, things had gone smoothly so far. They had been sold to a slave dealer, for a very high price at that, and were thrown into cages whilst being well maintained.
High quality slaves like Bastian and V had to be maintained, to make sure they remain valuable. Therefore, they did not walk on foot and were fed regularly.
Slave traders had established many networks in this vast region.
This resulted in Bastian and V being transferred from one slave trader to another. They had changed hands quite a few times, and each time, they would meet new slaves. In most cases, the slaves who had travelled with them would disappear.
They noticed that they were being sold to higher class slave traders each time, with even greater amounts of slaves and guards. It seemed as though their initial value had been underestimated.
V was a young cultivator so her value was obvious. In the future she could be a powerful soldier or bodyguard for her Master. Bastian on the other hand had no cultivation, however he was far more valuable than V.
The fact that he was from a noble family and had received a high class education made him highly valuable. Most slaves couldn’t even read or write. Skills like arithmetic or map reading were in high demand to slave owners who could afford such slaves.
These types of slaves worked well as teachers for children or as butlers and were able to run businesses, assuming they had enough trust from their Master. That is why it was best to acquire such a slave from a young age.
Some families even went as far as to educate their own slaves. This however, was far more expensive and time consuming than acquiring one that was already educated. Bastian was also educated by a top class noble family, thus his knowledge would definitely be top class as well.
His bloodline was what added real weight to his value. Purple hair was extremely rare on the Sovereign Continent. So rare in fact that anyone who had it was believed to have the bloodline of strong noble cultivation families from the Southern Grasslands.
Although hard work could assist in cultivation, talent played an even bigger role, and one’s bloodline played a big part in that.
In such a remote area of the continent, powerful bloodlines were as rare as dragons. If one was able to acquire a male slave with a powerful bloodline, then one would be able to produce many offspring, with incredible cultivation talent. Thus, well-educated slaves were very valuable, not to mention slaves with a powerful bloodline like Bastian.
This meant nothing to Bastian, for he and V had a plan. The idea was simple. They got Ben to tell the captain that Bastian had fallen in love with V, causing him to make an oath to the heavens that if she was forcefully separated from him, he would commit suicide.
Due to Ben’s reputation, the captain believed him. Thus he sold both as a set to the same slave trader.
Bastian was too valuable to lose, thus every slave trader who owned both, had to sell them as a set.
Before Bastian and Ben had been separated, he told Ben to find out where he had been found. Sebastian had been travelling with a lot of wealth on him. Thus it was probably buried with him when the large dragon had attacked. He instructed Ben to dig up that wealth and use it to buy back the two from slavery.
High class slaves like Bastian were too valuable to be sold the normal way, so they were usually auctioned to the highest bidder. Ben knew that the closest city that had an auction house that could properly sell slaves of such quality, was Baltize.
This journey would take at least 2 months. More than enough time for Ben to gather the hidden wealth and head to Baltize. So he could buy his master’s freedom.
Now it had been two and a half months since their journey had begun. Bastian knew that it was only a few days until they reach their destination. He had been using his incredible amount of spare time, in an attempt to cultivate. In his attempts, he had discovered something incredible.
The process of cultivation is divided into a certain amount of levels. With each level being divided into different sub levels. The majority of cultivators on the Sovereign continent were stuck on the first level. They rarely got into contact with those who were in the second or third level.
Each level had a name. The first being the Foundation Realm. This cultivation realm was divided into nine sub levels. These 9 were divided Into 3 parts, with each part containing 3 sub levels. The first sub level of a part was reffered to as lower, the second middle and the third upper.
The names of these parts had different names, depending on whether one was a warrior or a mage. For mages, the parts were Novice, Acolyte and Scholar. For warriors, the parts were Student, Fighter and Teacher.
For example, if one was in the Foundation Realm, in the seven sub level as a mage, then they would be a lower Scholar
As one went from one part to another, one experiences a qualitative leap in power, and the difference in ability from each part got higher when the higher your cultivation was. For example, the difference in strength between a Novice and an Acolyte, was far smaller than the difference between an Acolyte and a Scholar. One Acolyte would be able to defeat ten Novices but one needed a hundred Acolytes to beat one Scholar.
To cultivate, one needed to be able to feel World Energy in an environment, and take it into one’s body. One’s own aptitude, determined whether one becomes a mage or a warrior. Some bodies could only produce warrior’s qi, whereas, others could only produce a mage’s mana.
There were three major factors that determined the quality of one’s energy. The first was talent, which involved one’s elemental affinity. The second wad hard work. The third was your cultivation method.
In this world, all qi and mana made up of at least one of the five major elements. These are, earth, fire, wood, water and metal.
Most beings were born with little to no elemental affinity at all. Some were born with a high affinity to one element. Talented people were born with affinity towards 2 elements. Prodigies with affinities to 3 or more elements were as rare as unicorns. One could even say they were practically myths.
Cultivation methods, were instruction manuals on how to move mana or qi around your body in certain paths. In order for one to achieve the desired effect, like an electric circuit, the more time one moves their energy around one’s body in a particular path, the higher the quality of energy one possesses and the greater the capacity one’s body has for energy.
This energy moves in blood vessels but is intangible and does not affect bodily functions. It only moves according to one’s will.
Although having an affinity to multiple elements had advantages, it could also have disadvantages.
Sebastian’s body had perfect affinity to two elements. In this regard one could say he was a once in a lifetime prodigy. After all, it was better for one to have perfect affinity to two elements than to have average affinity to three. For affinity affects the speed of one’s cultivation. In other words, it was how quickly one absorbed World Energy.
The problem was that he had perfect affinity to water and fire. These two elements clashed, so he would find it difficult to harmonize them.
If his affinity to both elements was actually average, he would be able to cultivate, but since his affinity was so high, the elemental traits of energy in his body was extreme, further making it unstable.
Without harmonization of elemental energy, forming qi or mana is impossible. Thus Sebastian’s perfect affinity ultimately led to his misfortune. With such a cruel twist of fate, he could never cultivate, becoming trash in his family. Bastian laughed at himself after remembering the irony of his body’s affliction. His immense elemental affinity led to his downfall. How ironic.
Although Bastian could not produce mana or qi, he could still sense World Energy. His extremely high elemental affinity made it very easy for him to sense fire and water world energy. Now that Bastian had taken over this body, it seemed the fusion of two souls had increased his Soul Force. Soul Force was essential in sensing World Energy. The stronger one’s soul, the stronger one’s affinity. In the past, he could only sense cold and hot energy. Now, Bastian could not only sense the energy, he could also see it!
At first he needed to sit cross legged and close his eyes. Then he would have to calm his thoughts and reach the best state of mind. After which, when he opened his eyes, he would see it. Red and blue flake like objects flying around everywhere would appear.
The more times he repeated the process, the more he could see and sense. If he reached out to the blue ones, he would feel a cold wet sensation. If he touched the red ones, he would feel a hot sensation, as if his hand was being burned.
Although he could feel the burn, oddly enough, it would not hurt. In fact it felt natural, as if he was supposed to be feeling it. The same applied for the cold wet feeling. Every time he would touch an energy flake, it felt very comfortable. This feeling was very hard to describe.
Despite his inability to cultivate, he still trained his sensitivity each day. He himself didn’t quite understand why, but he felt like it was the right thing to do. Eventually after some time, he no longer needed to meditate and calm his mind. With a single thought, he could see the flakes.
At that point new flakes showed up. They were yellow, brown and grey flakes. These flakes were everywhere and were much more translucent than the blue and red ones. One could even say Bastian could barely see them. Bastian tried touching the new flakes but to no avail. They solicited no reaction, as if they did not exist.
Bastian guessed that the blue flakes were the water element, the red flakes the fire element, the brown flakes the wood element, the yellow flakes the earth element and the grey flakes the metal element. This was just his conjecture, but he was very confident with his thoughts.
These flakes were everywhere in nature. Some had a stronger presence than others. For example, the yellow flakes were far more numerous than the others. Bastian guessed, that this was due to the fact that they were in a dessert. If he did not control his sensitivity, they would flood his vision.
He was controlling his sensitivity so he could perfectly control how many flakes he could sense or see. He had tried countless times to absorb them, but for some reason, he could only absorb them in pairs of one blue and one red. This resulting in him having failed harmonization.
Since he had plenty of time, Bastian spent plenty of time on these activities. He had even learned how to use his sensitivity, or e-vision as he called it, to see another person’s cultivation. He had spent the majority of the past month, attempting to create a standard of comparison.
He noticed that the higher one’s cultivation, the more flakes naturally hover around one. He had spent most of his time standardizing what he saw, much to V’s dissatisfaction. As a former physicist this wasn’t hard.
One day he finally gained perfect control over his e-vision. In his happiness, he failed to notice that, the cage had stopped in front of a massive city gate. They had arrived at Baltize.
Inside Bastian, there was a white space, and in that space, a white table, which had a dragon painted on it. The moment Bastian perfected his e-vision, something odd occurred to the dragon.
It gained one more claw…