Fate Shift Chapter 20
Kosh Ti was groomed from an early age in preparation for the Ti Clan Leader position, like all his siblings. This didn't just mean he'd been taught about the clan's affairs, it also meant he'd been taught about cultivation in broad terms. He'd learned cultivation history, theory, and other topics. It was because of this that he knew that, unlike many people still mistakenly believed, entering Armament Bonding later wasn't harmful to one's strength.
If D'Gedda entered Aura Genesis before Armament Bonding, it didn't mean his future Armament would lack an aura. Rather, once he completed the Armament Bonding Realm, his Armament would match him in terms of cultivation. This effect applied to all of the first seven realms and most of the following realms. While there were a few exceptions, it wasn't like D'Gedda intended to wait so long before entering Armament Bonding. Since this was the case, D'Gedda was able to begin cultivating Aura Genesis without fear.
All of the first seven Cultivation Realms were meant to establish a cultivator's basic needs. Qi Acceptance allowed mortals to use their Breath and activate their Dantian. In Qi Birth, cultivators would stop simply absorbing whatever Qi they had access to, instead creating a single type of Qi they would use from then on. It was also in Qi Birth that cultivators learned to turn other types of Qi into their chosen Qi. Meridian Opening not only increased how much total Qi cultivators could have, it also enabled them to send Qi throughout the body. These realms that formed the novice rank were absolutely necessary for any cultivator.
The next rank, the apprentice rank, had four realms. Soul Inception was the first step towards many forms of immortality and was crucial to learning sorcery. Armament Bonding not only allowed cultivators to further increase their total amount of Qi, it also enhanced their combat potential. While auxiliary Armaments existed too, they still tended to improve one's capability in a major way. The next to last realm, Aura Genesis, was commonly seen as the counterpart to Armament Bonding. Where Armament Bonding typically offered new offensive options, Aura Genesis tended to upgrade one's defense. It also was the second only to the Meridian Opening Realm in terms of the sheer volume of Qi one gained in the process of cultivating through the realm. Finally and most importantly was Qi Transformation. Qi Transformation was the Cultivation Realm that boosted a cultivator's overall power the most of the first seven realms. In Qi Transformation, cultivators would refine their Qi Type, forcing it to undergo an evolution. This realm always came last in the order of the first seven realms as the amount of Qi one had access to directly affected one's chances of success in Qi Transformation.
Only by cultivating these seven realms to completion could one be considered a journeyman rank cultivator. In fact, these seven realms were where the name of the journeyman rank originated from. It was commonly accepted that only someone who'd mastered these basic realms had truly embarked on the long, winding path of Qi Cultivation. Of course, some would argue the real meaning behind the name's creation was that only a cultivator who'd finished these seven realms would have the ability to defend themselves while traveling the world.
What this meant to D'Gedda right now was just that he didn't need to worry too much about getting an Armament till he'd finished Aura Genesis. So in essence, he had the time it took to breakthrough a whole realm to work on finding a suitable Armament. The fact that Aura Genesis took the most time to cultivate out of the first seven realms certainly helped too.
The process of cultivating in Aura Genesis sounded very simple; one just had to amass a cloud of Qi outside their body. In reality, it was a difficult and time-consuming process. First of all, cultivators in this realm needed to keep their bodies packed full of Qi at all times. Then they'd have to slowly practice forming a cloud of Qi by exhaling with their Breath. This particular step was typically easier for Breath types like the Mortal Breath, which actually relied on one's lungs to absorb Qi from the world. Breath Types that worked with one's pores or functioned in other ways would tend to make this particular task far harder. Admittedly, the rewards would also be greater for these types of Breaths.
Once a cultivator had formed a cloud of Qi that covered their body, the next step would require them to maintain it. Only after a cultivator could maintain the cloud of Qi at all times without conscious thought would they be able to move on. From that point, cultivators would have to relearn how to use their Breath while being surrounded by their own Qi. Although this was often confusing at first, once mastered it would increase the effectiveness of one's Breath by a large margin, which in turn would lead to an increase in cultivation speed.
The final task for this Cultivation Realm would be to simply make the cloud of Qi as dense as possible. Every cultivator had a limit to how far away their cloud of Qi, the aura, could be from their body before losing control over it. So making one's aura denser was simply a matter of efficiently using the space in which the aura could be controlled as efficiently as possible.
When compared to the earlier realms, it was obvious that Aura Genesis was much more convoluted. This jump in difficulty was also indicative of the ranking system to a degree. The farther one progressed as a Qi Cultivator, the harder it would become to cultivate further.
D'Gedda wasn't intimidated though, quite the opposite. Kosh Ti had always been a fun-loving optimist and D'Gedda Bohpurra found the act of cultivating enthralling. Cultivation Realms like Armament Bonding and Aura Genesis hadn't existed in his time so the first generation cultivator would've no doubt loved practicing them. As a kind of fusion of the two, D'Gedda Ti was perhaps even more eager to see what the future had in store than either of the beings whose memories he possessed. So it was with a carefully controlled excitement that D'Gedda threw himself into Aura Genesis.
Although he was still nowhere close to an expert in terms of wielding the Seven Powers Qi, D'Gedda had a great deal of experience wielding Qi thanks to his memories from D'Gedda Bohpurra. D'Gedda Bohpurra had had truly prodigious amounts of experience with the techniques needed to store as much Qi in the body as possible. Because he'd opened so few meridians in the Meridian Opening Realm, he'd needed to make the best use of the meridians he had opened. This was especially important as D'Gedda Bohpurra had spent much of his life fighting as one of the Free against Jin Sunga, the First Immortal, and the Heavens he ruled.
When he reflected on his memories of that time, D'Gedda felt a surge of emotions. He could still feel D'Gedda Bohpurra's deep-seated hatred for Jin Sunga, who would've been nothing without Nan Suzu's teachings. At the same time, D'Gedda couldn't help but feel proud of Nan Suzu's legacy. Jin Sunga may have been the First Immortal but Nan Suzu created Qi Cultivation in a time when mortals mocked his "superstitious nonsense." Even if Jin Sunga had sullied his master's teachings, D'Gedda Bohpurra and Nan Suzu's other disciples had never given up on defeating the traitor. Best of all, D'Gedda knew one of them, most likely his junior apprentice sister, had succeeded.
Even though D'Gedda Ti considered himself a totally different entity from D'Gedda Bohpurra, he still felt the man's emotions like they were his own in this case. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it was hard not to share his emotions when he had the man's memories. He could forget the injustices Jin created using the Heaven of Destiny no more easily than D'Gedda Bohpurra could have, even if it was ancient history now.
As D'Gedda's reminiscence ended, he realized he'd allowed himself to get side-tracked. D'Gedda sighed and turned his thoughts back to cultivation. His last stray thought was that it was Kosh who'd been easily distracted; a trait he wished he'd avoided gaining. After that, D'Gedda was finally able to allow the process of cultivating to fully absorb him.
Since he'd already finished filling his body with Qi, D'Gedda began the first step in forming his aura. Like many of the steps in Aura Genesis, this was one that required practice. Exhaling Qi with his Mortal Breath didn't take any effort but taking that Qi and forming a cloud with it was much harder. The greater the volume of Qi, the more focus was required to manipulate it. More importantly, D'Gedda didn't just have to form a cloud of Qi; he had to keep it up at all times.
Accomplishing that was simply a matter of practice. Only by forming a habit and making the act of maintaining the cloud of Qi unconscious would D'Gedda be able to move on. Perhaps a prodigy would be able to progress through this step faster but for D'Gedda there was no shortcut here. He just had to put in the time. So he did.
Unlike when he was a novice, D'Gedda simply chose to cultivate whenever he was awake. He cultivated while eating, while bathing, while researching the tournaments and their assorted details. He made mistakes and lost control over his aura countless times. He failed and failed and failed. Yet, these failures only encouraged him, as he could clearly see his own progress. From seconds to minutes, from minutes to hours, D'Gedda kept improving. For him, that was a joy he was all too willing to immerse himself in. He could recall very few periods in D'Gedda Bohpurra or Kosh Ti's lives where they felt the peace he did as he cultivated. Thus, such a simple, monotonous routine became something D'Gedda found himself cherishing, all the more for he knew this peace was fleeting.
While his cultivation was his primary concern during this period, D'Gedda's second greatest priority was naturally forming preparations to acquire a powerful Armament. Researching tournaments as a means of gaining contribution points was just one aspect of his preparations. Another major part of his efforts was deciding what type of Armament he wanted.
D'Gedda was fairly confidant in the power of the spells he could cast with Seven Powers Qi. Even though he'd no doubt need to devote more time to spell practice to really master the potential of Seven Powers Qi, he felt that he could make great use of his Qi's potential in combat. This train of thought lead D'Gedda to a conclusion: he probably didn't need an offensive Armament. At the very least, he didn't need a weapon like a sword or bow for his Armament.
Following that idea, D'Gedda researched the types of Armaments he could realistically use. The answer he found was that there were actually several kinds he could pick from. The most straightforward option seemed to be to select an amplifier-type Armament. Amplifiers were Armaments intended to enhance one's spells; they acted like conduits for spells to pass through. A cultivator simply cast a spell, channeled it through their Armament, and then unleashed the spell with greater power. The benefits were obvious.
There were also defensive Armaments to consider, like armor or shields. These Armaments didn't tend to increase a cultivators power but offered a marked boost to one's survivability. D'Gedda wasn't too impressed by this type of Armament though. He could imagine too many situations where an amplifier would prove useful and a defensive Armament wouldn't.
Utility Armaments were also worth consideration. These Armaments tended to have functions only indirectly related to combat, if they had any relation at all. For instance, scrying Armaments were used to perceive the past, present, and future. Of course, D'Gedda didn't have the right Qi type or Cultivation Art to consider a scrying Armament. There were other utility Armaments worth considering though.
The last type of Armament D'Gedda found that really intrigued him was the soul Armament. Soul Armaments didn't have a physical form, instead existing inside one's soul. Although soul Armaments could be subdivided into the various roles normal Armaments fell into, they worked differently. For example, an offensive soul Armament wouldn't damage a target's flesh; it'd damage a target's soul. D'Gedda Ti had an unusually powerful soul, so a soul Armament could produce exceptional power were he to procure one. Although it might have less effect initially, as one needed to be at least a journeyman rank cultivator to start really benefitting from one's soul, it'd be an investment in his future.
Using what he learned about the types of Armaments he was interested in, D'Gedda was able to narrow the list of tournaments he was interested in to a degree. While any tournament that offered contribution points as a reward was worth looking into, tournaments that offered Armaments D'Gedda was interested in naturally had a higher priority. Despite his progress, D'Gedda could tell he'd need more time to figure out which tournaments were worth seriously participating in. There was simply too much information he needed to sift through.
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