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Solus stood beside Morgan at the top of the steps between the two great pillars. The vast white marble Plateau stretched out in front of them endlessly.

Glowing green and gold lights shot up at random intervals from the plateau as someone activated a memory stone that allowed the recording of a past cultivator to emerge and demonstrate their techniques.

Despite how early in the day it was, there were already thousands of cultivators crowded around the jade memory stones that decorated the floor.

“Where is Memory Lane?” Solus asked eagerly.

“This is Memory Lane, all of it,” Michael replied with obvious pride in his voice. “The memories and experiences of countless cultivators are gathered here. We cultivators are students of the past and pilots of the future,” he said in a voice choked in emotion.

Michael pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and then spoke again, “How does this sound girls? Why don’t we all go and find a technique to study and meet back here at lunchtime? You can demonstrate what you have learned to me and I'll give some advice,”

Since the Plateau was quite intimidating, Solus would rather have stayed with Michael, but before she could protest, the thin man had already strode off towards some unknown corner of the Plateau, leaving the girls to their own devices.

“What should we do?” Morgan asked nervously.

Solus shrugged and gazed out into the plateau curiously, “I guess we should go and find a technique,”

Morgan frowned, “But how will we know if it’s a good one or not?”

“I think you just… Know. Whenever it’s the right one, you just feel it... or something,” Solus said dumbly.

The girls made their way towards the nearest green circle which was surrounded by a couple of cultivators.

They tried to make themselves as small as possible while watching the glowing green figure of a woman who held a fan as she demonstrated the proper way to use it.

“Solus,” Morgan whispered.

“What?” Solus replied.

“We don’t have a fan,” Morgan pointed out.

Besides the two girls, a young lady snorted with laughter at their antics, “This is the weapon arts section. What are you two girls looking for?” She asked the pair.

The two girls blushed while cursing Michael for not warning them about this earlier.

“Cultivation techniques,” Solus mumbled quietly.

“What kind? Foundation ones?” The young woman asked.

After seeing the two girls nod, the young woman sent them off to a different area that contained foundation establishment techniques.

“Why didn’t Michael warn us earlier,” Solus complained as they made their way there.

Morgan, who seemed equally annoyed, responded in kind “He always gets like this when it comes to cultivation. One time, he didn’t make me any food for 2 days because he was in the middle of practicing some stupid technique,”

Now that they had broken the ice, it was easier for the two of them to talk freely. And that is exactly what they did, chattering with the enthusiasm that only young children have, as they picked their way through the plateau.

“What cultivation technique do you want?” Solus asked Morgan,

“Something that helps with artificing. I’ve heard that fire-based ones are the best,” Morgan replied with obvious desire burning in her eyes.

“What about you?” She asked Solus.

Solus shrugged helplessly, “I have no idea. I’ll just see which one is the best”

“But how will you know which is the best one?” Morgan asked, raising a good question.

“It will probably have the most people learning it,” Solus explained.

Morgan nodded at this great wisdom, and they continued talking all the way to the area they had been sent to.

When they arrived, the only difference Solus noticed about the foundation establishment area was that there were far more cultivators here than in any of the other areas, and a majority of those gathered here were young.

At the entrance to the foundation establishment section was a stout black pillar decorated with a golden plaque. Beside the pillar was a group of floating white orbs.

The plaque read:

Foundation Establishment

Welcome young cultivators!

Us seniors would like to offer a word of advice before you choose your technique.

Make sure it feels right.

Best of luck.

 

Beneath this was a map of the section, that divided everything up into regions. Morgan noted that all the fire-based techniques seemed to be in one spot to the east, and she bade farewell to Solus, heading off in search of a suitable technique.

Solus stared at the map for a long time, but she had no idea what she was supposed to be looking for.

If you looked down at Memory Lane from above, you would see concentric rings of green dots with veins of gold connecting them from within the Marble. Everything was joined together in a gaudy spiderweb pattern, with the humans flocking there like flies.

From above, you would see that, the closer you got to the centre of the web, the bigger the jade circles became and, paradoxically, the fewer cultivators there were gathered around each of them.

This was in and of itself a clear depiction of just how big the gulf between realms was. At the edge of the web, tens of cultivators surrounded each jade circle, eagerly learning their basic techniques.

At the centre of the web, where the most complex techniques lay, there was no one. There hadn’t been for three years.

The reason for this is that cultivation has to be learnt in stages. Sort of like building a skyscraper. You can’t build the penthouse without the rest of the building already being there. The same rings true for cultivation.

Since the outer section of Memory Lane contained only basic, Foundation building techniques, that was where most cultivators gathered.

Memory Lane was further divided into quadrants.

In the East, were cultivation techniques. These are used to gather Qi and reinforce your body, turning it into a vessel suitable for learning martial arts or some sort of magic technique.

In the North, where the steps up to the plateau were found, were the weapon arts. If you wanted to pick up and use a weapon, these would teach you a special or unusual way of mastering it.

In the West, you would find magic techniques. These are direct applications of Qi, using it in certain ways, not unlike magic spells.

For Solus, who had no Qi, these would be useless. But for someone like Mary, who was already Peak foundation establishment, she could learn techniques that could do anything from summoning lightning to making plants grow quicker.

And finally, in the most distant region, the South were the less popular and miscellaneous techniques. The most prominent of which are artificing, pill refinement and body tempering.

As mentioned previously, Artificing, despite its many benefits was supremely difficult to learn. The main reason is the steep cost in both money and time it took to learn. Pill refinement had the same problem.

Body tempering, on the other hand, was simply unpopular due to the ridiculous demands it placed on the practitioner.

Sure, someone who tempered their body would be stronger than normal cultivators. But was the price really worth it?

Clearer, most people thought not.

On the one hand, easier, less demanding techniques had pitiful results and were generally a waste of time.

On the other hand, a technique like blood rebirth, which allowed the user to regenerate their body from even a single drop of blood sounded incredible.

However, to practice said technique, a cultivator would be required to cut themselves for the same number of days they had practiced the technique for each day.

This was all well and good on the first day, any cultivator worth their salt could cut themselves once. But what happened on the 100th day? Cutting yourself 100 times in a day just to do it again the next day was far more than most could bare.

Solus had decided to find out her elemental affinity first.

This was a basic requirement for learning techniques. If your elemental affinity was ice, then no matter how hard you tried, you would be unable to learn fire-based techniques.

Luckily, learning your elemental affinity was no great feat. Beside the black pillar that contained the plaque was a group of floating white orbs.

All she had to do, was place her hand on one of those orbs and send a little Qi into it. The artefact would do the rest of the work and glow with a colour that represented her element.

Solus walked over to one of the glowing white orbs and tentatively placed a hand on it. It was icy cold and slick to the touch, making it impossible to grasp. The best she could do was push her hand up against it.

Which, despite the orb being suspended mid-air, with no support to speak of, had no effect on it whatsoever. Even when she pushed with more force, the orb just floated there, motionless.

She gave up trying to push the orb and sent a feeble stream of Qi, which was all she had managed to accumulate since her Dantian formed two days ago into the orb.

The Orb glowed white and then began to cycle through colours in a flickering rainbow that almost blinded her.

As she closed her eyes against the glare, Solus wondered what she would end up with. In general, Elemental affinity is a product of your birth. It depends heavily on your parents and where you were born.

For example, if I child was born and raised in a volcano, it would be a safe bet to guess that their affinity would be fire or earth, or even both.

Likewise, if both of a child’s parents had the water affinity, then it would be no shock if their kid also had that affinity.

Solus opened her eyes again when she felt the glare lessen and saw that the colours were changed at slower speeds and that it was only a few of them.

She knew that when the colours stopped changing her affinity would be decided. If the orb was half red and half blue. She would have an affinity for both water and fire. If the orb was almost entirely red and a little blue, then she would have a strong affinity to fire and a weak affinity to water.

Finally, the colours stopped changing and the result shocked her. There was only one colour in the orb and it was blue.

“Water,” Solus mumbled. “But that doesn’t make sense. My mother is Ice and my father…Fire. Surely it's not that simple?”

A chuckle came from behind Solus, and she whipped her head around to find the old man who had tested her talent a few days ago standing behind her. She had no idea when arrived because he hadn’t made a sound.

He was stroking his long white beard and smiling slightly, “I’m afraid so girl. Elemental affinity is annoying at the best of times and stupid at the worst. Fire melts Ice ergo the daughter of fire and ice would be water.”

Solus wasn’t sure what to think, so she decided to ask this old man a question while he was still there, “Is It a good thing? To have only one affinity I mean,” She asked nervously.

The old man frowned and tugged at his beard, seriously considering the question. “Good or bad… No, it just is.” He muttered.

“It just is, What?” Solus asked.

The question seemed to snap him out of it and the old man smiled awkwardly before explaining, “It’s like this. There is no such thing as a bad affinity. If you only have water, then you can only learn water techniques, which is restricting. However, you will find water techniques to be stronger and easier to use.

Conversely, someone with many affinities can learn all sorts of different techniques, making them more versatile and less predictable, but ultimately less effective at those techniques.”

Seeing as the old man seemed to know his stuff, Solus seized the opportunity to ask another question, “Which water cultivation technique is best?” She asked with stars in her eyes.

Much to Solus’ disappointment, the old man just shrugged. “Beat’s me,” he said, before walking off to some other corner of the Plateau.

“Does he ever leave here?” Solus grumbled as she made her way towards where the water cultivation techniques were housed.

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About the author

aldur9090

  • Nunya
  • Struggler

Bio: I have read 4000 chapters of Martial Peak and lived to tell the tale.

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