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Author's note: God I hate tables... so much to the point the point that I even quit writing the chapter a few times. However I'm compiling a glossary right now which should help me out in the long run... hopefully.
Regardless, this is also by far the biggest chapter I've written to date and one of the ones i'm the most happy with personally. I hope you like it as well!
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Zaran bowed slightly towards the skin over bone mage. "Many thanks for helping us in our time of need!"

"No need! No need to thank me! I'm grateful to even see a human! Ah how long has it been... what day is it today?" the mage asked with a shaky voice.

The mage was skin over bones and wore a tattered dark blue mage robe with a silver pigeon imprinted on it. A large wizard hat sat upon his bald head and had a very confused expression on his face. The mage looked horribly underfed, indicating that he had been here for a very long time.

"The sixteenth day of the astral moon in the tenth year of the ninth era." Nuvahn calmly replied.

"No no no no NO! This simply cannot be! A year? A full year!" the mage exclaimed in surprise running around in circles and talking so fast that Zaran and Nuvahn had trouble understanding him. "So much time, this is simply no good! NO no no no NO! There is no way! What about my position in the academy? So many conferences I missed, so many experiments! And what about my wife and kids? They must think I'm dead! Oh how will I ever explain this!"

Zaran walked over to the skinny mage and shook him so violently that you could hear his bones rattle. "CALM DOWN!"

"Oh, yes... yes! I should calm down!" the mage said hurriedly.

"Good." Zaran said after the mage visibly calmed down and took a seat on a small stool that appeared from thin air. "Now who are you?"

"Name... name..? Ah yes my name! Diedric? Diecric! Yes... that... that is my name!"

"Okay, Diedric, why are you down here?"

"Those... things outside! They are... conjured by... a dark sorcerer who lost everything at the hands of Virul. A few years ago the major heard about a practitioner of black magic in Virul. As black magic is banned in Virul they had to banish the dark sorcerer. When the city guards along with me, an of the mage school, went to his house the sorcerer was working on a spell that involved binding a demon to an item. "

"His wife pleaded to not disturb him and let him finish this one spell as her husband had told her that the demon might escape if he got disturbed. Yet the guards did not listen. They stormed into the sorcerer's room!"

"Noticing that the ritual was nearing completion one of the guardsmen rushed over and knocked the sorcerer out cold. The next moment... all hell broke loose. The demon escaped from the ritual and attacked everything in sight. The sorcerer's wife was the first one to fall. Half the guardsmen fell soon after before I even had a chance to start subduing the demon."

"Right when the battle between me and the demon started the sorcerer's son and daughter entered the room. Upon noticing the two the demon snorted and instantly beheaded them. I poured all my strength into exterminating this demon afterwards but it still managed to escape the house and it entered the sewers!"

"The sorcerer had awoken at this point and just saw the demon leave. Looking around the room the sorcerer glanced at me and declared that one day the whole of Virul would pay for it! The next instant the sorcerer ran after the demon and so did I."

"In the sewers I quickly lost the mage but I was able to corner the demon into this corridor. After a long battle with the demon I eventually was forced to use a forbidden spell that uses one's own vitality to create a powerful sealing spell which no demon can escape! While it allows other non-demonic beings to enter... The user cannot leave either."

Zaran frowned upon listening to the mage's story. While it did seem like a legitimate story he still felt that there was something that was not quite right. If the demon couldn't escape, why was it not present in the room?

He decided to keep track of the mage's movements and if he did anything suspicious he would instantly split the mage in half. The mage was in poor shape and not even a single trace of mana could be felt from his body, so Zaran was sure the mage would not be able to withstand even a single blow.

Zaran checked the condition of the room and noticed that the floor had been completely wiped clean, with not even a single speck of dust present, this in huge contrast to outside of this sealed off room.

He sat down in a lotus position and examined the dark and heavy aura that befell this room. He noticed that it consisted of an extremely dense concentration of both dark elemental particles and chaos ki, which seemed to almost perfectly intertwine with each other. Zaran frowned upon seeing this and then looked at the mage again with wary eyes. Chaos ki and dark elemental particles... no normal human can survive for a long period of time in this sort of environment as non purified chaos ki or dark elemental particles on their own would already drive someone mad in just a few hours of time.

"Hey Zaran... what's going on with Kirin?" Nuvahn suddenly asked.

Zaran looked at Kirin and his eyes widened in surprise. Kirin had her eyes closed shut and chaos ki and dark elemental particles were almost visibly entering her body, nurturing her and she seemed a bit bigger than she was a few seconds ago.

"She seems to be.. cultivating?" Zaran muttered in surprise.

"Cindarrah's going to cultivate too!" Cindarrah proudly said while taking a seat next to Kirin. A smaller stream of energy gathered around Cindarrah and she too started to be nourished by the energy.

What surprised Zaran even more than both of his pets cultivating was that due to Kirin and Cindarrah cultivating the dark and heavy aura had become less oppressive and mage's face lost more of its colour the more energy Cindarrah and Kirin absorbed.

Seems my suspicions have been proven true and that the mage really is possessed by a demon.. But why is this aura stored within this barrier? And why did he allow us to enter? Better safe than sorry and kill the demon!

"Get those foul beasts out of here!" The mage yelled while pointing at Kirin and Cindarrah.

A teriffying killing intent pressed down upon the mage as he told them to make Kirin and Cindarrah leave.

"Demon... Today... you die." Zaran roared as he leapt towards the mage and slashed his greatsword down.

"NO!!! NOOOOO!!!!!!" The mage yelled out in absolute fear. Zaran brought the greatsword down and split the mage in two halves. Because the demon's life had been linked to that of the hosts', the demon perished along with the host. Black gas started to escape from the lifeless body along with a demonic scream and the dark oppressive aura instantly turned a few times more oppressive.

Just as Zaran thought the mage had trapped himself and the demon in this hall with an extremely powerful spell as he had said but the amount of power this spell required weakened the mage just enough to allow the demon to posses him.

What the demon wanted with the party Zaran would never know but he knew that it wouldn't be anything good.

"Nuvahn. keep guard, I will be cultivating first and then you may cultivate afterwards, but whatever happens to me, do NOT interfere or wake me!" Zaran said as he took seat in a lotus position.

"As you wish, master." Nuvahn respectfully replied.

Zaran rolled his eyes. "I already told you to not call me master anymore."

"You will only stop being my master if you have nothing more to teach me. Since that day will never come, you will always be my master." Nuvahn said playfully.

"Darn brat! Just stand guard already!" Zaran closed his eyes and first carefully started to get a feel for the aura. Both chaos ki and dark elemental particles were exceptionally violent. Among the massive amount of cultivation techniques that he had gained knowledge of over his lifetimes, very little high quality ones existed for these.

He could still use the same cultivation technique for dark elemental particles as he had done for earth, wind, water and fire elemental particles. This technique consisted of condensing the particles in a pellet, absorb the pellets of various elemental types in his body and then create a mana seed in his body.

The mana seed was both a container and conductor for mana. While far from the only way to store mana in the body in Myth Online it was the most profound technique thus far created by a user. One would create pellets from each elemental type, then ingest them into their body and fuse them into a single pellet.

Thereafter the resulting pellet would then be fused with a cell and create the mana seed. When the mana seed was fully fused with this cell, it would rapidly create a series of mana channels which layered on top of his veins that were used to both store and conduct mana throughout his body.

However he already had a mana seed in his body so now he didn't have to go through that process all over again, now he would just need to condense a few extra pellets and fuse them with the mana seed he already has.

An utterly terrifying bloodthirsty aura shot forth from Zaran, covering the whole corridor in an instant. A large suction force appeared in the area in front of Zaran and the dark elemental particles formed a vortex as they swirled towards the area in front of Zaran. The suction force was so strong that a black sphere was visibly and extremely rapidly forming in front of Zaran.

Compared to the creation of the other pellets, for the dark elemental pellet the speed was far quicker and the pellet he would be able to create was going to be much bigger. On the other hand the concentration of dark elemental particles was several times bigger than at the secluded training area so this speed was within Zaran's expectations.

In just a mere half hour he had gathered a fist sized sphere of dark elemental particles. Carefully examining the amount of mana the sphere held, he separated a third from the sphere into one hand and started to condense it into a pellet.

The killing intent in the air rose drastically as soon as Zaran started refining the dark pellet, enough to cause even a weathered martial artist like Nuvahn take a few steps back.

Under this pressure, in just a mere ten minutes time, the dark elemental sphere rapidly shrunk and condensed into a small spherical pellet. Another twenty minutes passed and two more pellets had been condensed by Zaran. Upon completing the last pellet Zaran did not waste a single second and immediately tossed a pellet into his mouth.

Not daring to be careless Zaran quickly guided the dark elemental pellet towards the mana seed, which was only a third bigger than the dark elemental pellet.  Although the pellet showed signs of resisting it was still swiftly assimilated within the mana seed, which grew by two thirds of its original size.

However the most painful part of the assimilation still needed to begin. The next instant Zaran coughed up a large mouthful of blood. The dark ki was flowing along his mana channels and was forcefully widening them. While previously the mana channels were just wide enough to allow the full extent of his mana to run through, which now no longer was sufficient. The dark elemental particles forced the mana channels to grow by two thirds in mere seconds, which caused many internal bleeding everywhere within Zaran's body.

His insides felt like they were ripped apart and as if a thousand bullet ants were biting away at them at the same time. Even so Zaran besides coughing up blood Zaran didn't let out a single groan nor did he allow his expression to change. He had to completely focus on subduing the rampaging dark elemental particles as much as possible as they would create lasting damage within his mana channels if he didn't do so.

After a minute of extremely excruciating pain, the dark elemental particles finally stopped rampaging and quietly settled down within the mana seed.  After inspecting the condition of the mana seed for a few minutes he took out another pellet. This time the pain was not as excruciating and the process was swiftly completed. The third pellet was even less painful and thus it was also swiftly absorbed by the body.

Zaran gave himself a few minutes to get used to the new situation within his body before continuing. While he was done with the dark elemental mana particles as he didn't want to create too large a difference between the different particles, he was still going to absorb the chaos ki.

He did dread that which would come next as absorbing chaos ki was not something that was easily done. Now he would absorb chaos ki... guide it through every single millimeter of his ki channels and let it rip the channels apart and then regenerate them over and over. After that is done he needed to subdue the chaos ki and fuse it with the ki that already existed within his body.

Starting off with sealing every entrance for ki besides one, he guided all his ki towards that entrance and prepared for impact. After letting out a deep sigh he quickly gathered a small amount of chaos ki and let it enter the open ki channel.

As soon as the chaos ki entered his ki channels it started to rip them apart, creating crack upon crack within his body.

"Ahk! ahk ahk!" Zaran coughed up a few mouthfuls of blood and his face lost its colour. He clenched his teeth and even though the pain was excruciating he continued to guide the chaos ki through his body.

Crack upon crack continuously appeared on his ki channels causing Zaran to feel an excruciating amount of pain. As soon as a crack appeared Zaran immediately forced his ki to heal it. With every crack Zaran's ki channels expanded and became more durable. Red coloured sweat poured down from Zaran like a bloody waterfall, creating pools of blood all around him.

On the sidelines, worry had filled Nuvahn. Seeing the large pool of blood in front of Zaran along with the various other pools of blood, Zaran's pale face and pained expression, how could he not worry? While he did want to stop Zaran, Zaran had said that he should under no circumstances interfere. So all Nuvahn could do was wait and hope that everything worked out right. Even if Zaran died, the worst that would happen is that he would respawn but even so the huge amount of pain that Zaran seemed to be in caused him to worry unceasingly.

Half an hour passed while Zaran was exposed to this hellish pain and experience. Even though he had already been through this pain a few times before, no one can ever get used to this excruciating pain. Even with half an hour passing not even a roar of pain escaped Zaran's mouth and this alone showed the strength of his spirit. If it were anyone else they would've been roaring in pain and had stopped this torture that is called a cultivating technique a long time ago.

Another half hour passed and colour started to reappear to Zaran's face. Slowly he had guided the small amount of mana ki throughout his body and had allowed it to attack his ki channels, ripping them apart and strengthening them over and over. By now his ki channels and dantian were twice as wide and several times more durable than before. Zaran surrounded the chaos ki with his own ki and loosely suppressed it, stopping its rampage and allowing himself to recover.

A few minutes passed by with Zaran suppressing the chaos ki. Having recovered and regained the expended ki, Zaran ground down upon the chaos ki with his own ki. Coming into contact with Zaran's pure ki, the impurities within the chaos ki were slowly shaven away and the purified chaos ki instantly started fusing with his normal ki.

The previous golden ki now gained a slight glimmer of platinum and both the amount of his ki and the power had increased by a fair amount. Zaran didn't stop yet and now allowed more chaos ki to enter his body, this time just slightly less than the amount of ki he already had. The chaos ki ravaged a way towards his dantian and erupted in a fierce battle with Zaran's ki.

Due to already having absorbed chaos ki and the resulting increase in power, the chaos ki had no way to win against Zaran's ki and was swiftly and mercilessly battered down and beaten into submission after which it was carefully purified and fused with the existing ki. The more he fused his ki with the chaos ki the more platinum-colored it became, until finally not even a speck of the golden colour remained.

Now his ki was several times stronger and he had filled his dantian until it would no longer absorb any additional ki. When he could no longer absorb any additional ki he started to have the feeling that he was stuck in a bottleneck and needed a breakthrough to be able to continue cultivating.

Seeing that no skill confirmation had popped up he checked his heavenly cloud condensing technique's experience and level and noticed that it had risen to advanced level 7.

No longer being able to improve any further Zaran opened his eyes and took out the six Nimbial flower petals and ate them. A pleasant feeling overcame him along with six system notifications. 

You have gained 10 stat points!
You have gained 10 stat points!
You have gained 10 stat points!
You have gained 10 stat points!
You have gained 10 stat points!
You have gained 10 stat points!


Zaran's eyes widened upon seeing the effects of the Nimbial petals as he had not expected them to grant him six spendable stat points at all. It was no wonder the ravens had been able to grow so strong... Being able to feed on these petals every year would naturally strengthen them drastically over a long period of time. 

He opened up his stat screen and noticed that he had 130 unspent stat points. He decided to add 50 to vitality, instantly increasing his total health to 1500. Another 27 were spent on focus to round his focus stat to a nice round number of 100. Carefully considering where to spent the last 53 points he added 13 to flexibility and poured the remaining 40 into luck and perception.

Character info
RaceZunoProfessionSeeker of truth
Sub-profession 1Hellbeast masterSub-profession 2N/A
Level20Unspent stat points0
Stats
Health1500/1500Mana900/900
Ki1000/1000Racial ??????/??
Strength170Flexibility100
Agility112Stamina120
Vitality75Focus100
Intelligence50Wisdom48
Perception30Luck25
Charm2Willpower50
Reputation
Honour5Fame50
God's merit1


Wondering how to get a breakthrough in his ki cultivation Zaran stared at the stat window for a while. He had no shortage of methods to force a breakthrough but since he had no idea if any of them would even work, he wouldn't dare to risk it. It would be far safer to first look up how one breaks through the bottleneck in this game.

Only if there's touching points between how it happens within the game and one of the techniques he knows, he'd be able to execute them. There was no safe way to forcefully break through to the next layer without knowing exactly how a breakthrough works. It was only natural, after all you are forcing your body in a state it is not yet meant to be in.

Moving from the character screen Zaran checked the message boxes which had popped up after gaining the platinum colored ki. Most of his ki related skills had either their cost reduced or their damage drastically improved, which Zaran only felt was fitting comparing the power within his dantian before and after the platinum colored ki.

Through refining your ki to a higher level, your ki-related skills have risen in power!


[/tr]
Swiftness (Advanced)
Level1Experience0%
Speed increase450%Ki consumption10 per minute
Description
One imbues his feet or arms with ki effectively, dramatically increasing one's speed. 
Speed increases with every level.


 
[/tr]
Tempered body (beginner)
Level10Experience0%
Defense increase200%Ki consumption10-100 per minute
Description
One imbues his cells with ki effectively raising the defensive of their body by a large amount.
The ki consumption varies depending on the amount of the body that is covered.
Every level the defensive capabilities of tempered body raise. After a threshold is reached, lower leveled weapons may no longer harm the user.


 
[/tr]
Buzzard shot (intermediate)
Level1Experience0%
DamageArrow damage + 120-160Ki consumption50
Description
An arrow is imbued with ki and the ki is forced to swivel around the arrowhead at rapid speeds afterwards, the arrow is fired at a target with a highly penetrative effect.
The damage increases with each level.


 
[/tr]
Thunderous fist (advanced)
Level1Experience0%
Damage300-350Ki consumption200
Description
You cover your first with ki and strike your opponent with it.
Once the fist makes contact with your target the ki bursts forward and explodes within the target, causing a large amount of internal damage.
The damage increases with each level.


 
[/tr]
Crashing waves(Advanced)
Level5Experience15%
DamageGreatsword damage + 20-2000Ki consumption10-1000
Description
After the greatsword connects with something, increasingly stronger waves of ki are sent to the contact point until the enemy is no longer able to endure.
There are currently ten waves of ki emitted and the cost of the skill increases with each wave. 
With each level the damage increases.


 
Mountain strike(Advanced)
Level1Experience0%
EffectKnock-upKi consumption50
Damage+150-200Ki consumption50
Description
Ki is imbued to the greatsword and the enemy is struck with an upwards strike, knocking the enemy in the air.
With each level the damage and knock up duration increases.


 
Zaran was very pleased with his updated skills. The damage and effectiveness had increased by a large amount but the cost had drastically increased at the same time which only felt fair to him.

 
Before speaking to Nuvahn, Zaran first wanted to try something and used his ki to cover himself in a visible platinum coloured aura, slightly releasing his control over the chaos ki in the next instant. Regaining some of its freedom the chaos ki instantly entered a devouring state and wildly branched outwards, devouring everything in its way even the air itself.

"Nuvahn, throw a piece of bread to me." Zaran calmly asked.

Nuvahn took a piece of bread from his storage ring and threw it towards Zaran. As soon as the piece of bread touched the ki, the ki reacted and shredded the bread to pieces in a split-second. For Nuvahn and Zaran it looked like the piece of bread had simply disappeared upon contact with the ki.

"Seems good. Nuvahn throw a wind blade at me." Zaran said calmly.

"Are you sure about that?"

"One wind blade is not going to kill me so, yes, I am sure."

In a mere second Nuvahn unsheathed his sword and unleashed a wind blade upon Zaran. As soon as the green energy wave came into contact with Zaran's chaos ki, its power started to lessen until it completely dissipated. At the same time Zaran's aura had grown less dense, but Zaran didn't care about that. Even something that was as strong as a wind blade had been unable to harm him and had been utterly destroyed upon even touching his chaos ki.

A wicked smile appeared on Zaran's face and he started to walk towards Nuvahn with his aura still activated.

Nuvahn started to feel an unbelievable horrifying amount of pressure as Zaran got closer to him, which only increased in intensity the closer Zaran got to him.

Reaching Nuvahn, Zaran simply placed his hand on Nuvahn's shoulder but the next instant Nuvahn cried out in pain.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET IT OFFF!!!!!!!!!" Nuvahn roared in pain.

Zaran retracted his ki and Nuvahn's expression cleared up again, but still had fear lingering on his face. "Never... EVER... do that again." Nuvah said, fear coursing throughout his voice.

Ignoring Nuvahn's complaint Zaran moved the aura around his sword and with a casual slash, a platinum coloured sword energy left his sword and collided with the barrier at high speed. Popping sounds were continuously heard as the platinum coloured sword energy hit the barrier and started to grind down the barrier's energy. Still the barrier was far stronger than this sword strike and after a few seconds the sword energy dissapeared.

You have created an A-rank skill! Please name it!


Devouring Chaos (intermediate)
Level3Experience26%
Defense+100-560Damage100-560
Damage range2 meter radius around casterKi consumption100-560
Description
You deplete a large amount of your ki energy and shroud yourself with it. Upon releasing the chaos ki that is within
it rapidly starts to attack everything within a small radius of you. This skill serves both as defense and offense. Defensively
the aura is able to completely block energy strikes or magic spells that are weaker than the aura.
The damage, the range, the max output and the defensive strength increase with each level.
Derivated skills
Devouring chaos bladeThe aura gets transmitted to the sword and sent towards the target in the form of sword
energy.


Seeing the new skill pop up Nuvahn was utterly speechless. A myriade of questions filled his mind. He knew Zaran was far from an ordinary genius, but... he had just created a skill in the game in a mere minute? Just like that? How much had he been holding back when Nuvahn had been his disciple?  Had he just been toying around? 

While Nuvahn was lost in thought Zaran waved his hand in front of his face. "Anybody home?" 

Nuvahn was brought back to reality and shook his head. "Eh, yeah... what's up?"

"Your turn to cultivate..."

"Ah... right, sorry." Nuvahn said as he sat down and quickly started cultivating. 

Zaran sat down and just watched Kirin, Cindarrah and Nuvahn cultivate. Every one in a while Kirin or Cindarrah would have a golden light spiral down upon them indicating that they had leveled up. The speed at which the two of them were leveling up was rather monstrous, causing Zaran to be curious as to how high both of them would be once they had finished cultivating. 

Second after second, minute after minute were passing and with every second Zaran felt that the dark and oppressive aura grew weaker and weaker. 

Two hours passed in the blink of an eye and Zaran noticed that the dark aura was very close to disappearing. In the past two hours he had been quietly checking the forums and see what kind of cultivation techniques there were already out there. It had only been two full days in real life and there was a massive amount of data already out there. 

A myriad of cultivation techniques littered the board with even detailed instructions as to how the channels can be build or can be located in the body and how to cultivate different types of ki. What was the most interesting to him was that there were a multitude of ways that the ki could exist within the body and that it was incredibly accurate, comparing the types that existed in the game to what he had experienced in previous lives.

He didn't know what the gods did to allow the creators of Myth Online to get all this information into the game in a mere ten years but he was sure as hell that more than one god had to have cooperated for this task. 

Moreover after checking various other guides and very popular topics and fora he noticed that a lot of monsters, spells and even complete areas just came straight out of one of the worlds he had lived in. 

Sadly enough he didn't acquire any information about how he could breakthrough to the next ki layer but he did gain more information about the state of the world which was a huge benefit in its own way. 

Zaran looked at the Kirin and Cindarrah and noticed that Kirin had grown by a fifth of her original size while on the other hand Cindarrah had remained the same.

A few minutes passed and the Dark aura completely disappeared.

Cindarrah was the first to exit cultivation and looked at Zaran with a smile on her tiny face. "Cindarrah is strong now!" She said while she demonstrated her newfound strength by hopping straight onto Zaran's head from ten meters away. Zaran quickly checked her stats and was pleasantly surprised.

Companion info
NameCindarrahRaceHellweaver
Level32
Stats
Health1200Mana2000
Strength30Dexterity60
Vitality60Intelligence175
Skills
Web shot lvl 9Shoots out an ball of web that explodes on contact and envelopes the target.
Leech lvl 8Drains life from the opponent. When used on a target that is under the influence of web-shot 
it deals double the normal damage.
hallucinogenic poison lvl 3Bites the target and poisons them with a highly hallucinogenic poison, causing the target to be
unable to distinguish friend from foe.


Kirin opened her eyes soon after and howled fiercely. "Arururuuuu!"

Purplish-black flames sprouted from her legs and maw as she stood up, making her look extremely fierce. After shaking her head for a moment the flames disappeared and the cute Kirin appeared again. A gentle teenage voice entered Zaran's mind as Kirin blinked with her eyes and cocked her head to the side. "Sausage?" 

Zaran smiled and tossed a sausage over to Kirin. Afterwards he quickly opened the companion menu and checked Kirin's stats, which too had risen dramatically.

Companion info
NameKirinRaceHellhound
Level45
Stats
Health2500Ki1500
Strength195Dexterity100
Vitality125Intelligence45
Skills
Dark flame lvl 11Launches purplish-black fireballs at the target which ignore resistances and deal true damage.
Bite lvl 10Fiercely bites the opponent, dealing a large amount of damage.
Dark rush lvl 5Covers oneself with the fire of hell and rushes at the opponent, tackling them down. 
Deals a massive amount of damage.


A few more minutes passed until Nuvahn finally opened his eyes. As Nuvahn opponent his eyes the barrier that was sealing them started to crumble down, revealing the sewer system... and a horde of Rotters that had been waiting for them. 

"Let's go." Nuvahn calmly said as he stood up and swiftly unsheathed his sword. 
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