Chapter 135: Dragon’s Vein

It was noon before Zhang and the beauties had set foot into large cavern that opened on the side of a steep cliff which was located within a deep ravine.
 
Had it not been for the Wraith Spiders, it would have been next to impossible to enter the cavern without the risk of slipping and falling to one’s death.
 
The moment they were within the cavern; Zhang could feel that the essence present in the air was already a fraction greater than how it regularly was.
 
As if it was reacting to the increase of essence within the cave, Little White jumped out of Ling’s arms and ran about excitedly. This of course was a very adorable sight considering Little White looked like a fluffy kitten.
 
While Little White was playing around, the Underworld Heart which was inside Zhang’s chest began to turn his body into a vortex as it took in the essence from the surrounding area.
 
With a thought from Zhang, the essence taken in by the Underworld Heart was equally distributed among the group.
 
Although a part of Zhang wanted to be stronger than his wives so that he could shelter and protect them, he felt it was much more logical for everyone to be equally as strong. That way everyone can protect themselves even if he were not around.
 
He thought about how so many powerful men would often pair themselves with women who were basically damsels in distress and were solely dependent on their man to survive and came to the conclusion that such pairings were often disasters waiting to happen.
 
Honestly Zhang would have probably been one of these men too had it not been for his experiences and the memory of his past life, he would have wanted to become a pillar of support, one that could hold up the skies and keep it from crashing down on his loved ones. But thanks to his experiences and memories, his way of thinking was gradually changed.
 
The world is filled with dangers and life could slip away from our hands at any moment for any reason, so if someone was solely dependent on someone else, then what happens with that person that we depend on disappear.
 
Women who are dependent on their husbands often find themselves in seriously troubling and dangerous situations once their husband dies or disappears. Stereotypically stories of widows being kicks out of their homes or being forced into this and that were common occurrences in this time and age.
 
Since Zhang did not know the future, there was always the possibility that one day he might disappear or be stuck somewhere and unable to return, while his wives and children would have to fend for themselves so to prepare for this possibility he preferred to gradually grow stronger together with the beauties.
 
That way he wouldn’t have to worry about their safety every time he left home or was apart from them. It also helped establish an equal relationship amongst him and his wives, where no one was really the dominant figure.
 
As they traveled deeper and deeper into the cave the concentration of essence continued to raise.
 
“If we are able to go directly to the source then there would be an inexhaustible supply of essence there. I’m definitely going to have people try to dig down there and see if we can tap into the vein.” Zhang muttered.
 
Sadly, the pickets of essence which appear on Zhang’s map were only excess essence that was released from the Dragon’s Vein and not the vein itself. Over time essence would travel from deep beneath the earth from the Dragon’s Vein up to the surface through cracks in the ground.
 
Once a considerable amount of essence is saturated in the ground, it’ll seep through to the surface. But due to the nature of essence, these pockets would quickly disperse or condense together over ten or fifteen days.
 
So it was not the vein that traveled but the pockets of essence disappearing that had been preventing Zhang from harnessing its power. The vein itself did not move but was inaccessible due to how deep it was underground.
 
After walking a considerable distance into the cave the density of essence in the air ceased to increase. Instead the cavern walls were now lined with hundreds of sparkling purplish crystals.
 
“Spirit stones.” Yuying said as she plucked one of the purplish crystals out from the wall.
 
“Simply inject some essence into it and it’ll turn into a gas and can be absorbed to either strengthen one’s cultivation or replenish one’s essence stores like our essence water does.” She added.
 
“We should collect them all after we finish absorbing the essence in the cave.” Zhang suggested as he sat cross legged onto the ground and began mediating. Soon after his wives gathered around him and also sat cross legged on the ground.
 
As the Underworld Heart gathered all of the essence in the air and distributed it amongst the group, everyone began circulating the essence throughout their bodies.
 
Seconds turned into minutes while minutes turned into hours as the group sat in silence, taking in and circulating as much essence as they could. So far within the group the one undergoing the most visual changes was Little White, who had been absorbing essence for roughly eight hours.
 
Strangely enough despite being a wind element demonic beast, lightning bolts began appearing and wrapping around it’s body. Its fur looked sleeker while it’s fangs and claws appeared many times sharper.
 
Although no one else noticed, thanks to the Underworld Heart. Zhang was able to tell that Little White had gone from a level six demonic beast to a level seven demonic beast. He could also see that the essence around Ling was swirling about and about to undergo a transformation also.
 
Within the group, Ling was the one who had been at the seventh level of cultivation the longest and had been at the stuck there for a while. But from the looks of things, it appeared she only needed a slight push in the right direction to finally step foot into the next level because roughly an hour or two after Little White’s cultivation advanced Ling stepped into the eighth level of cultivation.
 
Lingqi who had been at the fifth level of cultivation, making her the one with the lowest cultivation within the group, had stepped into the sixth level not too long after Little White had leveled up. Since there wasn’t a bottleneck for those at the fifth level she didn’t really have a hard time leveling up.
 
Meanwhile, Ai did not have any changes at as far as Zhang could tell. From beginning to end he had never been able to understand how she was able to level up so quickly when they had run into her after escaping from the Underworld. But her freakish cultivation speed had seemed to stall as she no changes could be seen from her despite absorbing an abundant amount of essence from the Dragon’s Vein.
 
After Ling’s Cultivation stabilized, Little White crawled onto her lap where it curled up and fell asleep. With a smile Ling began petting the small furry kitten like liger in her lap. After advancing to the eighth level it would take a large amount of essence and quite some time before she could advance into the ninth level.
 
But realistically speaking, Zhang’s group besides Lingqi, could all be considered genius or monsters. This was because regular people stop at the fourth level of cultivation and many only manage to make it to the sixth or seventh level after a hundred or two hundred years of cultivating, well unless they are a part of a large sect with massive amounts of cultivation materials.
 
So without accounting for the people apart of large sects, not many people can accomplish what Zhang, Yuying, Ai and Ling have done. Hence the reason to why level seven and above warriors are all generals and why high mages are considered national treasures. As for saints, they generally stay within large kingdoms or empires due to how revered and worshiped they are.
 
If a saint asked two small kingdoms to fight one another with the promise of placing himself under the service of the kingdom that wins, then these two small kingdoms would instantly set out and wage war against each other. With that being said that were quite a few saints within the Wulin continent, however many of them choose to do what Xin Tao did and roam the continent or travel the world.
 
It was not until a total of sixteen hours had passed before the pocket of essence was completely absorbed. Zhang and Yuying had barely managed to join Ling in the eighth level of cultivation while Ai did not seem to make any progress at all.
 
“If I remember right, once we step into the ninth level our bodies will undergo a great change.” Yuying said as she got up from the ground.
 
“Wahhhhh. I’m so tired… Don’t know how people can do this for days on end.” Ai said with a yawn.
 
“Well now that there’s nothing else to do, we should eat some dinner and get some sleep. We have to head back to camp tomorrow morning.” Zhang said as he waved his hand and made a large boar appear on the ground. Yesterday he had actually hunted quite a few of them, some he stored away in his interspatial ring, others he fed to the Wraith Spiders residing in the Ruler’s Domain and one he cooked for his wives to eat.
 
“Here you go Little White.” Zhang said he as bent down and sliced off one of the boar’s legs and tossed it over to the furry liger. Once the boar leg was in front of it, the flurry liger began to nibble away until there was only bone to gnaw on.
 
Soon the cavern was filled with the aroma of perfectly grilled boar as the group enjoyed their meal.
 
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Once the sun was up, Zhang and the beauties scaled up the face of the steep cliff and headed back toward Dark Sea City.
 
While they were making their trip, the other various armies of Aurora began moving southward. Guan Yu, Lu Xun, Jian Wei, Zhang Liao, Leng Zai, and a dozen or so others each lead an army toward the southern provinces.
 
Many hundreds of thousands of men stomped through open fields and cut through forests as the forces of Aurora began its journey south. Each and every one apart of this colossal force was fill with confidence and bravery as they thought about the honor and riches that may come if the invasion is a success.
 
There were some who were eager to impress the ladies or marry their sweethearts once they return, while many others sought to raise through the military ranks and gain prestige and honor. Each person had their own purpose for joining the expedition north and each and every one of them was making history as they marched onward.
 
The south was filled with riches to be claimed, beautiful women to meet, and untold opportunities for those who wished to raise through the ranks.
 
They had long ago received word from Zhang of his exploits within the Dark Sea Province and everyone of Aurora’s generals were eager to prove themselves because once the south was conquered, Aurora would become a small empire.
 
Once Aurora became an empire, a large variety of government positions would appear and everyone wished to show Jian Wei they were worthy of being bestowed the highest of ranks.
 
While Aurora’s armies marched south, the southern provinces had marched north. Thousands of encampments and forts had been erected to welcome Aurora’s soldiers. Countless miles of trenches were dug to prevent cavalry soldiers from playing a large role in the battles that would ensue.
 
Unlike the Dark Sea Province who had been caught off guard by Zhuge Liang’s defection, the other provinces had all gathered their troops within the provinces that bordered Aurora. The provinces that directly bordered Aurora did not take any chances and had established themselves as the frontlines for the incoming war.
 
Their civilians were relocated while support from the other provinces in the south arrived. Countless men were drafted, while countless more were made to help with construction. Defenses had to be strengthened while weapons had to be made, causing most of the southern provinces to fall into a frenzy of production and construction.
 
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Within a large hall, hundreds of dignitaries and lords who resided in the southern provinces gathered on the day Aurora’s troops began to move. They were all seated at a large square table with scowls on their brow as war would soon being.
 
“Have sufficient supplies been sent to the Stone Ridge Province yet?” One man dressed in fancy robes said.
 
“What about my New Wind Province? I need more men to reinforce the borders.” A chubby bald man said.
 
“Lord Ma, we will be sending another battalion to reinforce you as soon as more soldiers are trained.” The fancy dressed man said.
 
“Trainees? You think trainees can fight back those bastards from Aurora? Can’t you send over the Dark Legion?” The chubby bald man said as he slammed his hand onto the table.
 
“The Dark Legion has been sent toward Lord Chang’s province, since we have yet received word from Lord Liu. If the Dark Sea Provinces falls then Lord Chang would have to be able to repel the enemies that come from the west.” The fancy dressed man said.
 
“Then what about the troops of the Dragon Core?”
 
“They’ve been sent to Lord Dong, to help him defend against the enemy troops that will be coming from the former Green Clover Province.”
 
The leaders of the Southern Alliance were all working diligently to spread their forces to prepare for Aurora’s arrival, however each and every lord was only looking out for themselves so despite having sufficient forces they would request for more reinforcements.
 
These requests of course would often be shot down because no one was truly willing to loan their army to someone else.
 
But besides these issues, overall the southern lords had all banded together in the hopes of maintaining their rule because once Aurora swept south they all faced the possibility of death or being dethroned from their positions.
 
Hence large amounts of funds and supplies were funneled to the provinces that would become the front lines for the war and although no one wished to loan out their elite troops, new regiments and battalions were made and trained daily so send out as reinforcement.
 
But will their cooperation be enough? Will they be able to repel Aurora’s forces? No one knows because the future has yet to be written.

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