Ozs world felt like it had just ended.
”Thats… thats not possible. ” Oz said quickly as the other students began whispering amongst themselves. ”Can I try again? ”
”Youve been scanned twice kid, ” Daiyu said and then let out a sigh. ”Listen, its rare but it happens. You can still cultivate but you will be limited in what techniques you can learn. ”
”But… ” Oz was lost for words. What about his dream? How would he save humanity and bring peace to the world if he didn even have such an important thing like Spiritual roots?
”Come on, Oz. ” Xiao was suddenly by his side with his arm around his shoulders again, leading him towards where the Qi stones were. He collected the stone in almost a dazed like state.
”I guess I was wrong about you. ” Xiao sighed as he led Oz down a hallway that was now quiet due to class being in session.
”What? ” Oz blinked.
”When I first saw you, I thought you had the same look in your eyes as I did. That look full of determination that showed people you would stop at nothing until you got what you wanted. ” Xiao tutted and shook his head in disappointment.
”But I don have any spirit roots! ” Oz exclaimed, his shock now turning to anger.
”So what! ” Xiao shouted back. ”You can still cultivate! Just because there aren many techniques here for you doesn mean there aren more outside of this academy! ”
Oz stopped and stared at Xiao, his words running through his mind. Xiao faced him and placed his hands on Ozs shoulders.
”Do you want to be a cultivator? Do you want to be strong? ” Xiao asked.
”Yes. ” Oz said immediately, that was all he had dreamed of since his parents death.
”Good, then lets go and get our techniques. ” He said resolutely and began dragging Oz away again.
Was it really that simple? Oz thought to himself. He just wasn able to feel as hopeful as Xiao did.
Everyone knew that their power relied on their spirit roots, if he didn have any then there was no point in him even trying.
Oz stopped dead in his tracks and suddenly smacked himself in the face.
Find your limits and then surpass them. His fathers words that he cherished so dearly entered his mind. What a fool he was! How could he be so willing to give up so easily? To throw away his dream without even putting up a fight.
Xiao was startled as he watched Oz smack himself again but when that burning light returned to Ozs eyes, a smirk played on his face.
”Lets go! ” Oz said as he stormed ahead and Xiao let out a chuckle.
”Thats the spirit! ” He laughed out loud and then put his hand on Ozs head to turn him to face down another corridor. ”But your going the wrong way. ”
”I knew that. ” Oz muttered and continued to storm ahead, now in the correct direction.
What an amusing guy. Xiao chuckled to himself as he followed after Oz. Perhaps this year won be as bad as I thought.
The library was in a separate building from the academy. It was in the same pagoda style as the main building but was four stories tall and seemed to almost radiate power. A queue had formed in front of it and Xiao and Oz joined in at the end.
The whole time they waited, all Oz could hear was the excited chatter of the other first years as they discussed which spirit roots they had. He gritted his teeth as he tried to tune out of their endless talking but it was starting to give him a headache.
”Have you tried martial arts before? Strength training? ” Xiao asked and Oz was grateful for the distraction.
”Not really, ” Oz scratched the back of his head as they shuffled forward. ”My brother has been teaching me some basic exercise routines but he was busy with his guild to teach me properly. ”
”What guild is he in? ” Xiao asked curiously.
”The Jade guild. ” Oz said with a twinge of pride.
”The Jade Guild, huh. ” Xiao let out an appreciative whistle through his teeth. ”One of the top ten – not bad. I guess your aiming to join too? ”
Ozs mood darkened again as he thought about it.
Surely they won let me join if they know I have no spirit roots. Oz thought glumly. Perhaps if I pour all my time into accumulating Qi and surpassing Rank 2 quickly then they won mind.
”Next! ” A loud voice called and Oz pushed away the thoughts as he and Xiao approached the small desk located at the front doors of the library.
”Xiao Wu, Fire Roots. ” Xiao said and the Elders eyes widened upon hearing his surname. The Elder fumbled for one of the piled up metal pendants and a faint glow surrounded it before he handed it to Xiao.
”This is your identification pendant, ” The Elder explained. ”Once you find a technique you like, you may upload it to your pendant and access it anytime. First year techniques are on the first floor. ”
”Thank you. ” Xiao bowed slightly before moving a few steps away to let Oz go forward.
”Oswald Orpheus… no spirit roots. ” Oz announced embarrassedly and the elder paused before grabbing a pendant.
”Bad luck, huh? ” The elder sighed and after a faint glow illuminated the pendant he chucked it to Oz. ”We don have many basic techniques without the need of roots, but there should be some. ” The Elder didn even bother looking at Oz again before shooing him away with his hand.
”Thanks. ” Oz said through gritted teeth and bowed before walking beside Xiao again.
”Am I going to be treated like trash now just because I don have any roots? ” Oz clenched the pendant in his hand in anger.
”Well, the answer to that problem is simple, isn it? ” Xiao said and patted Oz on the shoulder, his honey coloured eyes piercing Ozs blue ones.
”And whats that? ” Oz asked.
”Prove them wrong. ” Xiao grinned mischievously before turning and sauntering off in another direction. ”Im going to have a look around, Ill come find you when Im done. ”
Oz sighed and shook his head to himself. Xiao made it sound so easy, when in reality all it really meant was that Oz would need to train twice as much as someone with roots. He would have to fight and fight just to be able to keep up with the minimal standard of a normal cultivator.
Don focus on it. Oz thought to himself. Lets have a look at what techniques they have first.
The first floor of the library was huge. It seemed even bigger than it appeared on the outside, its walls lined with rows upon rows of books and scrolls. As Oz got closer to a certain row of books, he could see a faint glow that surrounded them. There was ones that had a faint orange aura around them, whilst others had either a green, grey, blue or a white glow. Oz assumed it signalled their required spiritual root and he sighed. He tried picking up one of the blue glowing books and opening it, only to receive a stabbing headache when he tried to read and understand the writing inside.
I guess theres no way of getting around it, Oz sighed to himself. I guess if it was easy to just learn any techniques then they wouldn be so focused on spiritual roots.
Putting the book back in its place, Oz then proceeded to scan the rest of the shelves and grew increasingly frustrated when he couldn find a single technique without the need of spiritual roots.
He watched as countless other students excitedly flicked through their chosen techniques and could feel his anger and envy growing deep inside of himself.
Just as he was about to give up and go ask for some guidance from one of the elders, something caught his eye. Amongst the rows of colourfully glowing books, a bland and beaten up book lay nestled on a low shelf. He immediately picked it up and began reading through it and a sigh of relief escaped him.
It was a basic three form sword technique, but at least it was something. He placed it against his pendant and watched as it faded away. He focused on the pendant and the writing and figure forms appeared within his mind and he let out a laugh of surprise. It was amazing what technology could be made with the help of Ki, it still blew Ozs mind every time he thought about it.
A sudden chill in the air made Ozs senses become sharp. He looked around to see if anyone else sensed the odd energy but no one seemed to notice. A strange aura seemed to pulse from behind him and when he looked down, he noticed a deep red glow pulsing from beneath one of the bookcases.
Crouching down, he fished his hand under the wooden shelf and pulled out an old and stained book.
How strange. Oz thought to himself as he opened the book to a random page. The fire spiritual root techniques have an orange glow to them… so what does the colour red signify?
Oz stared in a mixture of wonder and fear at the strange forms and instructions in the book. Never did he hear off such an unusual cultivation technique.
”You find something? ” Oz looked up to see Xiao approaching him with a satisfied grin and he quickly stored the unusual red glowing book into his pendant.
”Nothing spectacular, but at least its a start. ” Oz shrugged, his heart beating erratically. He didn fully understand what he saw in the book, but it was enough to say that it contained something rare – especially if someone without spirit roots like him could read it. ”What about you? ”
”I got a dual sabre technique, ” Xiao smiled proudly and tapped the pendant that hung from his hip. ”Its called the Devouring Flame. Its a good technique for beginners, but when I reach Rank One Ill have to learn the Wu Familys techniques. ”
”Lucky. ” Oz muttered as they exited the library and followed the crowd to a large open training area where the first years were sitting down in rows.
”Everyone take a seat!
” Daiyu called out from the front and immediately students rushed to sit down, the last few scurrying from the library.
”I trust you all chose great techniques. I know you
e all very excited to head home and begin cultivating, but first, I want to help you all absorb your Ki stones and make sure you have the basics of breathing down. ”
”Now comes the best part. ” Xiao whispered from beside Oz.
”I want you all to get into lotus position. ” Daiyu ordered and the students obeyed. Oz had been practicing this seating position for years so he quickly obeyed. ”Now I want you all to bring your stones out and hold them in front of your dantian. ” She moved her hand down and patted the spot on her stomach above her belly button.
The dantian was also a new discovery after Ki entered the world. Once humans began absorbing this energy, they developed a new organ called the dantian. It was sphere shaped and acted as a storage pocket for Ki. Once the dantian was filled with Ki, the body would then have to condense it along with the Ki, allowing it to then store even more Ki and making it even purer. Each time this happened, the person would be able to go up a rank.
Oz quickly pulled out the Ki stone from his pocket and held it in front of where his dantian would be. He could feel a small pulse of energy radiating from the stone and he smiled excitedly.
He had seen a Ki stone a few times before as its what they used now to power the cities and certain technologies… but never had he had one all to himself.
”Now close your eyes and visualise absorbing the Ki from the stone and into your dantian. ” Daiyu ordered again. ”This should kick start your cultivation and give you a good idea of how to continue cultivating at home and at school. Once you have absorbed your stone, please collect your new school uniform and head home for the day. Classes will be assigned tomorrow morning. ”
An excited hum filled the air around the students then as they all fell into a meditative state. Oz closed his eyes and took in a shaky breath to relax himself. He tried probing the stone with his mind and it was like a small glowing orb in the darkness. He then tried pulling that orb towards himself, urging it to enter his body. A few minutes passed and nothing happened so he took even deeper breaths, feeling the world around him with each pull of his lungs.
Yes! Oz shouted internally as the small white orb began to tremble before slowly creeping closer towards him. As it passed through his skin he shuddered against the true feeling of power. It floated down and down until he finally felt a small resistance. With one small push, a flood gate opened and he felt his dantian suck In the energy greedily.
What a tremendous feeling! Oz exclaimed to himself excitedly as he focused on the little drop of Ki in his dantian.
He was now officially a Cultivator.
That tiny fleck of power now made him what he always wanted to be, but it also left him feeling starved. How could he have lived this long without feeling this power?
He pulled him self up from the floor, the stone now disappeared from his hand. He jumped up and down a little bit, his body now feeling as if he had drank 10 coffees in a row.
”Its a crazy feeling right? ” Xiao said as he jumped up beside Oz. ”I was taught about Ki all my life, but nothing really prepares you for the real thing. ”
”Definitely. ” Oz agreed with a grin, his past worries suppressed for now. ”I can wait to get home and cultivate some more. ”
”Me to! ” Xiao grinned. ”Lets see who can reach Rank One first! ”
e on! ” Oz shouted, already running to grab his uniform and head home.
He was excited to do some more cultivating, but he was even more excited to look at the strange technique he found.
Perhaps it was the key to surpassing his rootless body, or perhaps it would pull him back further.
Either way, he was determined to find out.
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