Krune was feeling helpless.
'My cores, my precious demon cores, gone, just like that.'
The more he looked at the Lizard Dragons, the gloomier he felt. He simply didn't have the heart to get rid of them. Especially now that they seemed to like him so much. As a wisp, Krune had spent must of his time alone, after all. Sure, he did know quite a few other wisps, and he wasn't the only one trying to survive all the hunting. With time, he bumped in quite a few of them who also had their own tricks to slip away from the pursues. But he never interacted much with them to start with.
In the end, Krune could only go out to catch more demon cores. Even if he does have a spiritual vein now, he won't risk damaging it because of the lack of spiritual energy. The next meridian is bound to be even more brutal than the last one when it comes to spiritual energy needed for creation.
Time passed, and soon, another month went by. Krune had left the spiritual vein to hunt more demon beasts so that he could acquire more demon cores. But he found out that 6th stage demon cores are not of much help for him anymore. In this last month, he had tried to create his third meridian, just for it to break apart. The third meridian absorbed those 6th cores like they were candies. When he noticed that he would be far from being able to form the third meridian, Krune immediately stopped the process so that he wouldn't damage the spirit vein.
Now he finally got a total of twenty 7th stage demon cores. If his calculation isn't wrong, he would need less than half of them to finish the process of the third meridian creation. Maybe he will even have enough to form the fourth energy meridian.
As for the little Lizard Dragons, well, they can't be said to be little anymore. The biggest was obviously the one who ate his 8th stage demon core. With all that energy, it had finally achieved the 6th stage of the Qi Condensation. As for the others, three are at the 5th stage while the youngest is at the peak of the 4th. They also had no need to care about food this last month, since every time Krune went hunting, he would bring back the demon corpses, which was more than enough to fill their bellies.
Krune started to worry how exactly will he leave this place, will it be okay to leave the Lizard Dragons behind? But that worry didn't take long to disappear. The big brother of the group quickly became strong enough to fend for himself, thanks to the help of the 8th stage demon core. Krune is sure that he would be able to protect the others until they mature too.
'It's finally time. I have more than enough demon cores to get the third meridian formed and might even be able to form the forth. I should get ready.'
He gave the big Lizard Dragon an order for them to stay away from him now. After achieving the 6th stage of the Qi Condensation, the intelligence of the Big Brother of the group had gone a step further. Now it could understand simple commands and help take care of the younger ones.
Acknowledging the orders, it brought back the younger lizards and gave Krune enough space for him to work.
Gradually, the formation of the third meridian took form. Krune was getting familiar with the process, and the creation was taking less time than before. After some time, the third meridian was complete again.
As expected, it immediately started to absorb the spiritual energy of the surroundings. And thanks to the spirit vein in the lake, it took quite some time to clean up all the spiritual energy. Only when Krune noticed that the light of the spiritual vein started to dim out, did he take out his demon cores and started to feed the meridian one by one. Fortunately, everything went just like Krune predicted. He used less than half of his twenty demon cores to finish the process, by the time he was going to use the 6th core, the formation of the third meridian was complete. The third meridian shone once more, just like the previous ones, and with that, the process was complete.
Krune let out a sigh of relief.
'Everything is back on track. If it wasn't for those guys...'
He gave the Lizard Dragons a glance but just sighed again.
'What is gone is gone, there is no reason to keep dwelling on it. It's not like the demon core of that 8th stage Lizard Dragon will come out of nowhere anyway. Let's try and see if I can form my fourth meridian. After the spiritual energy of the cave comes back to normal, I will see if it will be possible to make it sooner. I might as well go out and take a few more demon cores just in case.'
Two days later, the spiritual vein was bright as ever, and the spiritual energy in the cave was also back to normal. Krune also took this last two days to cultivate and was able to reach the peak of the 7th stage of Qi Condensation. His cultivation speed had increased yet again.
But there was one thing that Krune noticed. When he created his second meridian, his cultivation speed indeed became much faster. Still, it wasn't double the speed. Now that he created the third one, although his cultivation speed got faster again, it was far from being three times the speed of a single meridian. The weird part is that if he used any of the three meridians alone, the cultivation speed would be the same for all of them. But when used all three together, their individual efficiency lowered.
After thinking about it, Krune came up with two hypotheses:
First, because his cultivation is too low, his energy core can't keep up with the high speed of spiritual energy absorption. So the higher his cultivation, the more energy he could take at once. At the moment, his energy core was still at the Qi Condensation level. When he breaks through to the Foundation Establishment, his energy core will be upgraded, which will allow it to absorb spiritual energy much faster.
Second, there isn't enough spiritual energy. When all three worked together, the spiritual energy around wasn't big enough for all three to work at max capability.
Thankfully, the second hypothesis was quickly discarded out. When Krune thought about that, he simply took out his demon cores and tried to use them to speed up his cultivation. But the absorption rate was still the same.
This conclusion also made Krune understand one thing. Every time he finished creating a new Spiritual Energy Meridian, his own core would be strengthened. That's because, according to the first idea, the stronger his cultivation realm, the more energy he can absorbs. However, he hasn't achieved the Foundation Establishment stage yet. But his absorption rate increased every time a meridian was created. It could only mean that the meridians also helped strengthen his core.
A few days later, Krune had stocked twenty 7th stage demon cores. Although he thought that he already had enough cores to create the fourth Spiritual Energy Meridian before, he wanted to be safe.
There was also another issue. Krune noticed that once a demon beast dies, and its core is taken away, the spiritual energy inside of those cores will start to dissipate slowly.
Well, that was to be expected, demon cores have no life, so there is no one to control the energy inside to start with. Krune could feel that his oldest demon core had already lost almost half of the spiritual energy, and it keeps dropping down. Because of this, in the future, Krune won't be able to simply take a lot of low-level cores to make up for the quality. The initial idea was to get a lot of the easy demon cores, even if it took longer. That's because it would also be safer.
But now, it's evident that such an idea won't be usable anymore. Krune will have hunt higher level beasts if he wants to get enough spiritual energy to help with his Meridian Creation.
'There is no helping in that. Let's just start creating the forth meridian before the demon cores' energy is gone.'
But things didn't go as planned. As soon as Krune started the creation of the fourth meridian, his soul was struck by unbearable pain. Krune almost fainted right there, he immediately stopped the process, and the fourth meridian creation obviously failed as soon as it started. Krune was alarmed by that!
'What was that? I felt like my energy core was about to explode. If I had not stopped in time, my own energy core would have broken apart. I almost died a moment ago!'
Krune then calmed himself and started to think about what could have gone wrong.
'The Energy Meridians are directly linked to my own energy core. When I cultivate, they convert the energy of heaven and earth at extremely high speeds and deliver it into my core straight away. I have a pretty good idea of why their efficiency goes down when I use all three at the same time. It should be because my energy core can't take so much spiritual energy at the same time.'
'Could it be that my energy core can't sustain more than three Spiritual Energy Meridians? Three Energy Meridian is probably my limit with a core at the Qi Condensation stage. If I want to create more meridians, I will have to achieve the Foundation Establishment realm or find a way to strengthen it before that.'
Krune immediately threw the second idea away. Strengthen the core so that it can hold more Spiritual Energy Meridians? How the hell will he do that? Maybe after he leaves the forest and ventures the outer world, he might find some skill or technique that allows him to do it. But at the moment, such a thing is impossible. Since that's the case, he only has one path ahead.
'Time to aim for the Foundation Establishment. But before that, I will need to consolidate my cultivation at the 8th and 9th stage of Qi Condensation first.'
Krune had long since noticed that after he breaks through a stage, his cultivation becomes unstable for quite some time. In the first stages of the Qi Condensation, it wasn't so obvious. Still, after reaching the 7th stage, it started to affect his progression speed. Simply put, his foundations were getting shaky. But it wasn't a problem, he also found out the best way to stabilize it. There was no better way than through battles! That's also why he is already at the peak of the 7th stage and can directly try to enter the 8th stage.
But now Krune is facing another issue.
'Since I won't be able to create the forth meridian any time soon, all these 7th stage demon cores don't have much use for me. They would be very good if I didn't have the spiritual vein since their energy is much higher than what I can get outside. Still, because of the limitation of how much spiritual energy I can absorb at the same time, the spiritual vein is already more than enough for me. But then again, if I don't use them, their energy will simply disappear sooner or later.'
While holding the demon cores in front of him with his spiritual energy, Krune noticed the Lizard Dragons at a distance. They were all looking straight at him, and their eyes were shining with yearning. Krune had ordered them that they must not eat his demon cores. There was even once when the oldest Lizard Dragon tried to get one of them sneakily. But how could Krune not notice him? As a wisp, even without his Divine Sense, he can still feel the energy around him. It was way too easy to notice this fella trying to pull one on him.
After getting a beating from Krune for his naughtiness, let alone this guy, even the younger ones didn't dare to approach his demon cores anymore. The sorry state of their Big Brother was more than enough for them to understand the consequences of such a foolish act.
Krune pondered for a bit but still gave up in the end. What is he going to do with empty demon cores anyway? They are nothing more than decoration after all the spiritual energy is gone. He has a total of twenty core and five Lizard Dragons, so he might as well give 4 for each one of them.
'Come here, I will give you these ones.'
The Lizards immediately rushed over, and each got 4 cores. The happiness on their faces made Krune feel a little better. Well, all of them except for one big guy. When Krune looked at the oldest lizard, he could see its gloomy face while he looked back at him. Turns out that Krune had given him the demon cores with the lowest amount of spiritual energy inside. With its 6th stage cultivation level, it could totally feel that his brother and sisters' cores had much more spiritual energy than his ones. Krune saw that and then smirked at him.
"Haha! 'THAT' is what you get for trying to steal my demon cores before. Do you think I forgot about that? No way! Furthermore, 'YOU' was the one who ate my 8th stage demon core. Do you think I don't know that too? How could your cultivation be so much higher than your siblings if you hadn't got the greatest reward? You better be happy that I didn't give your cores to them; otherwise, I don't mind not giving you anything anymore. Hmph!'
The oldest Lizard Dragon didn't quite understand what Krune said. However, it still could understand that it wouldn't get anything more out of him. With a sad face, it took its four cores and went to a corner to absorb them.
Here, in the inner parts of the Katiu Forest, there is an adult wisp feeling great for being able to verbally bully a 6th stage Lizard Dragon, who couldn't understand a single word that he said.
Krune felt very proud of himself. Yeap! He isn't petty. He isn't petty at all!
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