Kara brought me past Lin’s dwelling to the backside of the mountain where she lived, with Lin following us. As inner disciples of the Yin Demon Sect, they were quite high up in the mountain, a bit above the half-way mark. The outer disciples resided in accommodations that were located at the broad base of the mountain while the top was occupied by the sect elders and the core disciples.
The sect master lived in the dwelling at the mountain peak.
The different heights weren’t just a symbol of their status, it was also a measure of the cultivation resources available to them.
The mountain was special. No, I don’t mean its location in the middle of a forest with no other raised landforms in sight.
While there was that, what I mean is that it had magical properties. A Corpse mountain to be specific.
It was just as it sounds. the entire mountain was actually the dead body of a humongous beast. When Kara pointed that out to me, it took me a long time to actually wrap my head around it. I was so stunned that I stood about gawking at the soil beneath my foot for a solid minute like the hick I was, much to Lin’s amusement.
So, that was one mystery solved. Hmm hmm. Quite reasonable. If you see a mountain in the middle of a plain, it has to be a giant beast’s corpse. NOT.
What the hell. Even the dinosaurs never got that big. How would the things even support their body weight without their bones snapping under the pressure? It’s unscientific!
Maybe that’s the point. I wasn’t in a scientific world anymore. Magic existed. Why not giant beasts? Just, I hoped that such terrifying things weren’t a common sight.
When I asked them, the girls informed me that these beasts had become extinct in an Era known as the Desolate Period. At that time, these beasts shared the position of the overlords of the world with a race of giants known as the Titans. In that period, magic was much more prevalent, able to support the survival of such gigantic creatures.
Unlike now, when magic has to be extracted as Essence from various substances, in that period, magic could be easily extracted from a formless substance that was present everywhere called the Aether.
Prosperity and decline go hand in hand.
The very Aether that brought about the magnificence of the Desolate Era became its downfall when it disappeared. The meagre amount of Essence that could be extracted from physical substances wasn’t enough to support the magnanimous demands of the giant beasts or the Titans and a war that spanned the world broke out over the scraps of Aether permeated land that remained.
In the end, all of it was futile and the gigantic races began to die out one after the other. Some tried to seek for a way to escape their inevitable demise.
Their means were many and varied. Some special insects used their unique skill to wrap themselves up in a cocoon and fall into a state of stasis – waiting for the Aether to return while frozen in time.
Some others tried to reduce their builds in order to curtail their demand for resources. Many were successful. That is the origin of the current Beast races. The humans and other humanoid races (yes, there are other races) are apparently the descendants of the Titans.
The mountain we were currently on was actually the cocoon of a Giant insect named the Silver Yin Mantis. Over the thousands of years of its dormancy, the cocoon had developed a leak and its life had steadily passed and now, all that was left in the interior of the mountain was a corpse. That’s why it was called a Corpse mountain.
As to why it was advantageous to live near the top of the mountain, it was because the position of the leak corresponded to the peak of the mountain and as a Giant insect, even a corpse, the amount of Yin Essence it contained was enormous.
After its death, the Essence was slowly being released into the world. Actually, the Yin Demon Sect’s grand formation’s main purpose was to lock the yin Essence from leaking out, thereby causing the Essence to become particularly rich within it. The gathering of Moonlight Essence was just an auxiliary function.
Even if one didn’t cultivate, their Spirit would slowly grow by just living here. But the actual spring of Essence was at the peak. Thus, the closer one lived to the mountain peak, the faster they could cultivate.
So, the sect mistress had the most abundant amount of resources with which to cultivate. It was to the point that actually using men to cultivate would pollute her Spirit – doing more harm than good. It was ironical that the head of the Yin Demon Sect would be the least Demonic in her actions. Of course, she must have done her fair share of evil to crawl up to that position in the first place.
Was this what the Buddhists meant by the phrase putting down the butcher’s knife and reaching Buddhahood?
Judging by the drastic fluctuations of both Kara and Lin’s emotions at the mention of the sect mistress, I hazarded a guess that there was some hidden history there. But, now wasn’t the time to dwell on that.
We had reached Kara’s courtyard.
It was much larger than Lin’s courtyard. Actually, it was much larger than a lot of the other inner disciple’s courtyards. What was going on? Was I mistaken and was Lin secretly the illegitimate child of the sect Mistress? Come to think of it, could the Demonesses even get pregnant? The way they sucked the Essence out of the semen, I didn’t think normal intercourse would work. But, what if…
Oh shit, I hadn’t used protection. Was it her safe day? Was I going to become a father?
Even when Kara pushed open her gate and let us in, I was still worrying about this issue, so I didn’t notice where I was walking till I was half-way through the garden. But when I did notice, my jaw dropped.
Due to my activities as a public figure, I had to travel quite frequently. Wherever I went, I would be sure to put some time aside for sightseeing in my agenda. As a result, I had seen quite a few magnificent sceneries back on earth but all that had been trumped by my one-day stay in this world.
First the beauty of the enlarged moon illuminating us through the grand formation. Then the sight of the Viridian forest at night. And now, Kara’s garden.
It was… beautiful.
Now I knew why her courtyard was so much larger than the others. Most of the area was taken up by the garden, with the small wooden cottage taking up one corner of the yard. It was a sea of flowers, glittering silver and gold under the curtain of moonlight. Their stems and leaves glowed with a blue iridescence, increasing their mystical nature.
Noticing my stunned expression, “These are moon lilies,” announced Lin proudly. “Senior sister is the best Cultivator of moon lilies within the inner disciples.”
The way she puffed up in pride almost made me think that it was her accomplishments she was talking about, not Kara’s.
Running up to a blooming flower, she called me over. “Come here. See this.” Noticing the bemused expression on Kara’s face and the happy undertones in her signal, I concluded that she was enjoying the chance to show off. As for Lin, her enthusiasm was clear for all to see.
I was curious too. Walking up to her, carefully avoiding stepping on the flowers, I crouched down beside her.
“See this?” she said, indicating a flower whose petals were in the process of transitioning from silver to gold. “These flowers are really special. They absorb moonlight and convert it into yin and yang essence. Usually a single material can usually produce a single essence but yin-yang is special. These flowers are born both stamens and pistils but either their stamens or their pistils are immature while the other one is mature. If the stamen is mature, the flower petals are golden. If the pistil is mature, the petals are silver. But over the course of the flower blooming, their mature part withers while the immature organ becomes mature. The colour of their petals changes as well. So, a flower that buds as male will fall off as female and a flower that buds as female will fall off as male. Due to our grand formation, there is abundant moonlight and these flowers grow really well. The nectar produced by the pistil contains abundant yin Essence while the pollen has yang Essence. Usually, we would have to sell off the pollen at very low prices as cheap alchemy ingredients as nobody in this area cultivates with yang essence but now that you are here…”
Without warning, she suddenly smeared something on my nose with her finger. Before I could check what it was, I was overcome with a violent urge to sneeze.
In my crouching position, the force of my sneeze made me lose my balance and topple backwards. But if I fell, I’d crush the flowers. With a superhuman body and the youth title of Twister King, I managed to somehow hold myself off the flowers by throwing out my hands, contorting myself into an impossible position in the process.
Looking up, I glared at Lin who was covering her mouth and giggling as she watched me struggling up from my pose. Getting to my feet, I rubbed my nose which was still tingling from whatever she had smeared on it. My fingers came away with a golden sheen. Then the skin on my fingers began tingling as well but when I made to wipe them on my shirt, Lin stopped me.
“What is this?” I asked.
“It’s the pollen of the Moon lily. Use your Inner Vision.” She replied.
Following her instruction, I looked within myself.
Thin strands of golden Qi were penetrating my skin on my nose and fingertips that had come in contact with the pollen.
Some of the golden strands merged with my body while the rest joined my Spirit. When I looked very carefully, I noticed that this Qi was a different shade of gold from my Spirit. Now I knew why Lin and Kara talked about the Spirit becoming impure along with the cultivation with different resources.
Kara’s voice woke me from my contemplation. “Come on, you’ll be seeing a lot more of that stuff soon. For now, you should worry about other things.”
As I followed Kara into her house, I finally couldn’t hold in my curiosity and asked Lin. “Hey, aren’t you worried about getting pregnant?”
She just looked at me blankly. “Like… bearing a child? We had sex, you know? We didn’t use protection. You might get pregnant…” I explained further.
But noticing the blank look on her face, I had a premonition that she would say something really ridiculous.
“What does sex have to do with babies?”
Sure enough. Well, at least, I had my answer. What had the Demonesses turned sex into?
Ah well, Lin’s re-education would have to wait.
For now, I had a Kara to impress.