The movements of the thunderfire wolf felt like a reactionary response. While this was normal in soulbeasts, it shouldn’t be happening to the thunderfire wolf!
For the past few days, Xiao Qi had to ‘order’ the wolf to eat the slabs of meat placed in its mouth. If not, the wolf wouldn’t have moved at all, so the fact that it did so readily by itself was surprising.
Observing the wolf a little longer, he noticed that the slab of meat was already almost fully devoured. Suspicious, he tossed another slab forward.
The piece of meat sailed past the wolf’s nose, but it didn’t move at all.
Not even an eye twitch.
Bai Yunfei tossed another slab of meat. No reaction.
“Strange….” He remarked. Sending a command to the wolf, he had it start to eat the meat beneath it.
Nothing seemed wrong with it now. If he hadn’t seen it earlier, Bai Yunfei would’ve dismissed its earliest actions as being a delusion.
Bai Yunfei finished eating first. Watching as Xiao Qi guided the wolf to lie down on the grass to sunbathe, Bai Yunfei’s eyebrows narrowed together again.
He sat against a nearby tree trunk. Thinking for a long time, he decided to summon the wolf to him.
Reaching out to touch the wolf’s forehead, Bai Yunfei sent his soulsense into it.
In an instant, Bai Yunfei felt his soulsense sucked into a strange ‘space’. He knew this to be the wolf’s mindspace, but it was different than to the mindspace of the blue-eyes wyrm. In that mindspace, the wyrm was clearly there, but in the wolf, there was nothing. Now that he was here, it felt like Bai Yunfei was the one only here.
If he fully concentrated, Bai Yunfei could feel like the thunderfire wolf was just another form of himself. He felt like he was the wolf.
Bai Yunfei felt a sliver of difference compared to the last time he entered the wolf’s mindspace. There was something he couldn’t exactly put his finger on in the form of a nearly indiscernible mist that didn’t seem to do anything but simply exist.
In that moment, Bai Yunfei was suddenly aware of a second presence in this mindspace. It was a presence he was very familiar with–Xiao Qi had entered the wolf’s mindspace. Xiao Qi’s presence was felt for only a moment before it left as soon as it entered.
It must’ve dove into the wolf’s mindspace to order it to do something, but when it felt Bai Yunfei was doing something, it decided to leave.
He didn’t mind its intrusion. His soulsense continued to scour the wolf’s body inch by inch, muscle by muscle, and see if it would respond to anything.
This was the very first time he ‘studied’ the thunderfire wolf. But in the end, Bai Yunfei didn’t really notice anything special. The thunderfire wolf was simply there and was empty like a tool. There was no ‘consciousness’.
Disappointed with the fruitlessness of his attempt, Bai Yunfei decided to give up on that aspect. Withdrawing his soulsense, he dove into a more particular part of the wolf’s body–the soulgem.
The soulgem of a soulbeast had uses similar to that of an origin essence in a soul cultivator, only that its applications were far greater. It served as a second heart to the soulbeast–a far more important one at that. It was a crystallization of the soulbeast’s soulforce, elemental energy, and training.
The origin essence is something that is formed inside a soul cultivator after their birth. It could die out, it could be reformed, and it could even be detached from the body for a short period of time, but a soulgem was far more restrictive.
A soulgem came with the birth of a soulbeast. There is only one, and it can only exist inside the soulbeast’s body. In the case of its removal, the soulbeast will inevitably die.
The soul of a soul cultivator is something that could be honed and trained. Despite their nominative name, many soul cultivators would probably be unable to truly explain what a soul was, or even where it ‘resided’. They knew that it existed, and they could even feel it, but that feeling was merely just a feeling.
The soul of a soulbeast existed inside the soulgem. In some cases, there were accounts of some soulbeasts being able to live on in their soulgems following the death of their physical body. But these cases were few and far in between, and no low-leveled soulbeast would be able to do that. In the case that the soul did live on, they were without a conscious. Without sentience. They were nothing more but a crystallized form of data.
In cases such that similar to Bai Yunfei where he received several soul fragments, they’d be able to read and understand the memories left behind in them, but the fragments were no longer sentient.
In these soulgems, the souls left behind in them were mainly filled with the many culminations the soulbeast had about cultivation or the power of the elements. By obtaining a soulgem, one could absorb the soulgem into their body and reap an enormous amount of power and understand these ‘insights’. To do so was in a way, cheating, but it really was a great benefit to the one who absorbed one.
For that reason, soul cultivators all over the continent hunted down soulbeasts. The opportunity to obtain and absorb a class six or higher soulgem would’ve caused no small stir in the community.
In time, Bai Yunfei came eye-to-eye with what appeared to be a fist-sized soulgem. Wave after wave of soulforce and elemental energy pulsated out from the center of the soulgem.
The soulgem of a soulbeast was normally not an object that could be touched by any human. But in a few special cases, such as with the blue-eyes wyrm, Bai Yunfei had the chance to observe it.
There had been resistance that stopped him, however! It had been such great resistance that the Beast Taming Ring had nearly failed several times, forcing Bai Yunfei to drop his attempts.
But this time, the thunderfire wolf was offering up no resistance; almost as if it didn’t even notice Bai Yunfei.
The moment Bai Yunfei tried to probe the soulgem with his soulforce, did he finally meet an obstruction.
It wasn’t the wolf that was causing it, but an unknown energy of some sort.
The energy from a seal.
“Is this the ‘slave seal’ of the Beast Taming School?” He guessed.
Everyone knew that beast tamers branded the slave seal onto a soulbeast in order to control them. This way, the slave seal was the engine that put the machine into motion.
From what Bai Yunfei could sense, the mysterious energy that was stopping him from accessing the wolf’s soulgem was a lock that stopped any foreign probes and sealed away the wolf’s soul.
Trying again, this time stronger, Bai Yunfei ‘saw’ a mysterious but complex pattern appear. It didn’t move from its spot, but the markings themselves were pulsating mysteriously.
Following a brief moment of hesitation, Bai Yunfei decided to go ahead and ‘analyze’ the slave seal to see what it was made of.
But this seemingly innocent action had sparked an extremely large fire!
The moment his soulsense touched upon the slave seal and the pattern that made up the seal, Bai Yunfei was hit with a volatile reaction that sent him whirling! Retreating, Bai Yunfei watched as the seal start to warp in on itself and….start to disintegrate!!
It was all without warning. Bai Yunfei had barely gasped before the seal started to deteriorate. Trying to leave from the mindspace, Bai Yunfei was shocked to realize that he couldn’t, he couldn’t retreat!
What is soulsense? An intangible piece of existence that was superior to soulforce. It is the mixture of soulforce and will to form outside the body as a type of ‘presence’. The soul wouldn’t be hurt if the soulsense was destroyed, but it would still hamper the soul cultivator as a whole.
Bai Yunfei had supplied a decent amount of soulsense into the wolf’s mindspace when he first entered. Just the thought of half his soulsense being destroyed left Bai Yunfei in cold sweat.
As if to press Bai Yunfei even more, the situation was unraveling faster and more violently than before.
The slave seal was like a maelstrom of energy, with bits and pieces of soulsense being slung everywhere, trying to take in the rest of Bai Yunfei’s soulsense into it!
If the rest of his soulsense was absorbed, then Bai Yunfei would definitely lose consciousness! And to do that here would be disastrous, even Bai Yunfei didn’t know the consequences of that.
Thankfully for Bai Yunfei, his reactions were quick. He tried pulling his soulsense away from the ‘maelstrom’, and though the maelstrom had a tremendous force of attraction, Bai Yunfei was finally able to propel himself away from the soulgem, but not completely out.
Just as he was considering the best way to deal with this problem, the slave seal started to mutate again!
Energy exploded like from a volcano from the slave seal….and it was starting to crumble even faster!
The crumbling of the slave seal seemed like the signal for something else in the wolf’s soulgem. Starting to tremble, a large amount of soulforce and elemental energy was pushed out from it while an ominous air started to descend….