Ming Yue continued to check herself, trying to see what else had changed about her. Meanwhile, Elder Shen gave a quick lesson on the stages of the Earth Realm.
"The Earth Realm is comprised of seven stages, each one corresponds with your synchronicity of the world. The Human Realm focuses on body tempering which will allow your body to absorb a much purer form of energy, Quintessence Force. It is formed by the five great worldly laws: Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and Metal. These are the five supreme laws that govern the sub-laws of things such as wood and space. Now cycle your energy", Elder Shen instructed.
Ming Yue sat down on the picturesque island of his and began cultivating.
"Can you feel a foreign energy?" he asked softly.
Ming Yue paused before answering.
"This is the world's energy", she said, "I've felt it before when I was attempting to achieve the second level of the Sword Path. This is also the Quintessence Force?"
Ming Yue was a bit surprised, she did not think that this energy was the same. It was delicate, ethereal, different.
"Mm, good, so you're familiar with it. Now then, try to absorb it. Imagine that it is a medicinal bath and slowly bring it into the little island of yours", Elder Shen was surprised and watched her carefully.
She did as he said and tried to take in the Quintessence Force. However, it was difficult to do so. It was ethereal and demanding, like a picky child. The energy slipped away from her grasp like water. After several hours, she could only obtain a single droplet.
However, the Elder was content with this progress.
"The fact that you have experienced Quintessence Force before puts you ahead of many others. This was your first attempt at this and you've absorbed some of this force. For many others, it takes somewhere close to a half of a year to reach that point", he explained.
Ming Yue was happy with what she had learned, feeling eager to test her newfound strength. But before she could do so, she wanted to ask Elder Shen a question.
"Why is it that only you call the world's energy Quintessence Force?"
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She found it strange that after hearing about the Earth Realm from many others, Elder Shen was the first to call it Quintessence Force.
He paused, slightly stunned by her observation. He gave a complicated expression, a mixture of solemness and melancholy.
"I come from one of the Six Great Kingdoms, the Darkwater Kingdom. I was one of the top researchers, exploring the intricacies of our world. We made great strides and hoped that with Heaven's Gate, we would be able to elevate teach others and bring about a stronger generation of cultivators", he said.
He opened his hand gathering a dark azure energy and began to play with it. It flickered about as he spun it and morphed its shape.
"But our solemn nature separated us from other cultivators. Our thinking was too different from the rest of the world, some had even considered it unnatural. Studying the power of the soul and the heart, finding ways to utilize it all but such ideas were shunned. Being rejected, my kingdom had cut off contact with the rest of the continent but I stayed back hoping to find someone to pass on my knowledge."
Elder Shen sighed as he looked at the small ball of energy before extinguishing it.
"As you can see, I'm not very popular", he said, "However, your curiosity piqued my interest. Your talent and potential is quite good. That gave me a bit of hope. But did you want to learn more? I wasn't sure."
He looked at Ming Yue, the usual expression of calmness was replaced with a spark of hope.
Ming Yue wasn't expecting Elder Shen to say all of this but she could not help and but be interested in his work. The energy of the soul and mind, the more she thought the more she wanted to learn about it.
What kind of uses would it have? What strange properties could there be?
Her thirst for knowledge returned.
"I do want to learn, I want to know more."
The Elder could not help but smile, even Bai Ying looked at his master with surprise.
"Good, good!" he said.
The illusion of his home disappeared and a messy workroom returned. He walked around quickly, gathering books and drawings with excitement. A number of books sat on the table as he began to teach Ming Yue more about his research.
Days later, Ming Yue was awake at dawn, carefully moving through the sleeping Hei Yue. She grabbed her sword, washed herself, and headed for the training fields.
Gradually getting use to the Earth Realm, she found her strength to have increased.
A few tests showed that her attacks had become much stronger. A casual attack sent off a blade of wind that was much denser then before, enough to cut down a boulder with ease. Things like her wind needles and even a little tornado were much more powerful.
However, what if she utilized her full power? That is to say, if she controlled the Quintessence Force inside of her?
In that little island within her, those droplets of Quintessence Force had begun to transform the island. Patches of grass had a robust and strong presence that distinguished itself from the rest of it. Perhaps, if this entire island became like that, she would have completed the first stage of the Earth Realm.
As she began to activate her energy, the island pulsed with power, filling her with strength.
She slowly breathed and held her sword. As that energy flowed through her and into her blade, she faced the empty field and sent out a full-powered strike.
A massive moon shaped blade of wind shot from the swing of her blade, cutting into the dirt. It left a narrow fissure as it cut though before crashing into the training field's barrier and dissipating. She examined the damage and felt surprised.
It was a clean attack that pretty much bisected the ground. Even stones and pebbles stuck in the soil had been sliced with out so much as a crack.
It wasn't destructive but it was certainly sharp!
If she were to go against those Ying Sisters, her chances of winning would have skyrocketed.
"Do you want to go kill them now?"
A voice much like hers spoke in her mind. Ming Yue was shocked but recognized who it was, her other self, cold-blooded version of her that had no sympathy.
"Are you surprised? Because I am."
"How are you still here? You turned into dust"
"I might be a part of you but I'm also my own being, although I have no control here. I'll just be a voice in your mind."
"What? You..." Ming Yue was dismayed by this thought.
To have this murderous personality within her, it was not an ideal thing to have.
"I can hear your thoughts, you know."
"You should probably call me something else", the voice became slightly proud as it spoke, "Being called "you" doesn't seem very good. Hmm, Xue Yue, that sounds good. Call me that."
"Why do I have to call you that?" Ming Yue suddenly spoke out but the voice of Xue Yue did not reply.
She was both confused and flustered, thinking to herself that she would go to Elder Shen for this predicament. Focused on this sudden development, she did not notice a figure walking behind her until they raised their hand and brought it down on her.
A killing aura woke her up and she spun around, defending against the attack with her sword.
To her surprise, that hand that should've been sliced in half had stopped her blade in its tracks.
"Good, so you've entered the second stage of the sword path and you're in the Earth Realm. You're decent enough to work with now", the owner of that voice was none other than Elder Xiang.
He withdrew his hand and walked away.
"Come with me!"
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