After four long, crushing hours of the noise of scribbling echoing within the classroom, Nik felt at ease as he collected each of the parchments handed out to students. Mind you, Nik never broke the expression befitting a great teacher. No student should ever realize that their teacher may not enjoy the exams even more than the little turds themselves. It wasn't demeaning, no. To students, this piece of information would be liberating them from their constant grind to turn themselves more civilized. After all, the essentials of education boiled down to two major aspects of society civilization and innovation. In this world of spirit energy, innovation was quite a distant achievement, and civilization... well, that, too.
Keeping up the facade to keep the students from learning about his exhaustion, Nik finally stacked the papers on the desk and stood straight, waiting for the kids to leave. Also, waiting for Asami to soothe his troubled heart as soon as possible. Well, if it led to s.e.x, that'd be even better. Before all the students left, Nik found his disciples waiting in the corner and discussing something. Before they could come up to Nik, the apostle gestured towards Nie Li and led him outside the classroom. This action attracted quite a lot of ruckus from Ziyun as her expression soured up. But a whisper from Ning'er seemed to stabilize the young phoenix.
"Teacher Nik, greetings." Far away from the classroom, Nie Li bowed slightly once Nik turned to face him. Sweeping the unaware reincarnator with a casual gaze, Nik nodded softly. Exhaling deeply, Nik picked up the conversation since he would be practically spraying water all over his hopes. Not that Nik minded the act. "Nie Li," Nik turned silent momentarily, "It would seem that I won't be able to accompany you to the Heavenly Marks Family after the exam is concluded."
Previously Nik had casually pushed an idea regarding him visiting Nie Li's family to select a few talented students, if there were any, and then allow Nie Li to become a pimp equivalent of disciple providers. At that point, Nik had plenty of motivation. First, he needed to find another cultivator with a commoner background and pull her to rank 31. Now, Asami filled that place and his plan to complete the main mission would begin soon. Second, Nik was more than reluctant to not meet Nie Li's mother again. She looked a little too meek and lonely for her own good. He needed to save as many women that kindled his interest. To achieve this, the date the duo settled on was two days after the examination. But many events occurred within the span of these days and Nik was already clamped with prior commitments. The one with Nie Li having the least urgency in Nik's point of view.
But, this did not mean that the same held true for Nie Li. After a momentary panic, Nie Li regained his composure and carefully inquired, unwilling to let this chance of getting close with Ziyun slip away, "Teacher Nik... I understand that you have many things to deal with," hesitatingly, Nie Li continued, "In fact, my cousin sister is quite talented. That is why..." Nie Li trailed off. This was something Nik was unaware of.
Nik coolly asked.
"Yes. Due to various reasons, my elder cousin could never attend the academy. But she is really talented!" In front of Nik, Nie Li controlled his expression and acted like a young boy in awe of someone extremely talented. Even Nik was enticed, only slightly though.
Shaking his head, Nik continued without any ripple on his expression. After so many days, Nik finally grew to control his expression to match a profound teacher. "I don't mean to break my earlier commitments... it is just that, I have to prioritize my current deals. Still, I will attend the Divine Family's auction. If I chance upon your family's elders, I would try to keep my word true."
"Thank you, Teacher!"
Nie Li bowed while Nik accepted the bow of someone from whom he is learning himself. Once Nik had dealt with the returnee from the future, he entered the classroom once again. However, seeing the group of girls waiting for him, Nik didn't feel too mellow. Stopping at the entrance of the classroom, Nik curbed his hesitation and entered with a small smile on his face. "I hope that you all did well in this test." Nik stepped forward and placed his palm on Ryu'er's fluffy hair while stroking it softly. Only the little Empress knew how hard it was to control the sudden desire to hug Nik right then and there!
Ziyun, Ning'er, and Xiao Xue turned their heads towards Ryu'er's direction and observed the scene with a flat stare as the half-face covered girl flushed. Before she could leave Nik's grasp, he took the initiative to retreat. His relationship with Ryu'er was delicate and at the early stages. Since Nik was already getting his dose of daily booty from independent women who have the capacity to think for themselves... well, aside from the time when Nik's very l.u.s.t erode their sense of self, the apostle didn't wish to hasten his relationship with Ryu'er. After all, she was a young and shy girl despite her origins. She deserved to have her own space at the moment and have her own thoughts.
"I-I did good, Master."
Ryu'er whispered, instantly changing the form of addressing Nik. Ziyun took another look at Ryu'er. During a few private moments, Ziyun always called Nik master just for the kicks of it. The relationship between Nik and his girls began from a master-disciple one. So, even if they did not have trouble addressing Nik as a master, they were more comfortable with the term Teacher.
"Hmm, that's good. Oh, and you two are feeling well under the constraint, right? Do you want me to adjust the pressure?" Inquiring with a smile, Nik didn't let the two girls feel left out and placed his hands on both of their heads. A purple-headed phoenix, and an orange-haired dragon. Both of them shook and lowered their head with a soft flush while feeling speechless as they, just like Ryu'er, restrained their urge to sigh in content.
Nodding at Xiao Xue with a smile, he didn't extend the same comforting pat to the Xiao Family's princess before walking back to his seat and dragging his chair closer to the dress while sitting down.
"So? What can I do for the four of you?"
"Um," Ning'er stammered while Ziyun looked away. Looking towards Ryu'er for no avail, Xiao Xue groaned and walked forward before stating with an impassive expression. "Teacher Nik, it's like this. The three of them are used to train with you, or at least, learn something new. So, they were hoping to"
"Oh, we have company?"
A voice interrupted Xiao Xue. The voice sounded so melodious to Nik that he almost cried in joy. The girls turned towards the teacher of the intermediate class with a stack of papers in between her arms and waist as the dark-haired goddess sauntered into the classrooms with an amused smile. Nodding towards the four girls, Asami pulled the spare chair and placed it adjacent to Nik. Brushing her hair, she smiled widely, "Don't stop now," She looked towards Xiao Xue. "Feel free to continue your conversation. Ours can wait."
Nik's lips twitched while Xiao Xue nodded eagerly. "So," she picked up where she left off, "The three were hoping to learn something new just to ease their minds."
Asami nodded in understanding and gave Nik a knowing smile, "Even I want to learn something. Master~" Asami slurred with narrowed eyes, "why don't you teach us something amazing?"
Ning'er and Ziyun looked at each other. The panic for unknown reasons grew within their heart as Nik thought for a moment before refusing to entertain the girls. He was truly tired and there was no point in fooling the girls, not after having second considerations.
"I won't lie. You three have grown well and surpassed my initial expectations. Now is the time to rest. In fact, I am even thinking of bringing you two alongside the rest for an outing in the week-long vacation. We will begin the next phase of training. Remember, the three of you are still training your body as we speak, so, there is no reason to overdo."
Nik smiled as he observed Ning'er's face growing gloomy. Standing up, he walked over to Ning'er and decided to give her slightly special treatment. Placing his palm on top of her and activating the tiniest bit of [Pheromone Illusion], Nik helped Ning'er calm down and guided in a whisper, "Do you remember what I said about resting? Sleeping and resting are all part of the training. It is beneficial for your body's growth. You want to grow tall, right?"
Ning'er nodded with her head lowered as Nik felt the orange-haired darling pushing her head against his head softly, yet discreetly. "So, you have to sleep a lot. Even I sleep more than 9 hours a day," lying through his teeth, Nik managed to convince her. Of course, Ryu'er sent a skeptical gaze towards Nik. After all, the m.o.a.ns of her mother needed a tool to stir... and if she is up until 2 in the morning, then doesn't that mean Nik is awake, too?
Ryu'er then looked towards Asami, who, smiled back and subtly shook her head.
Nik finally stepped onto the ceiling with a tired exhalation. Asami was used to grading exams and had already left for the estate after Nik decided to stay back for a dozen minutes. With a loud yawn, Nik looked at the entirety of the academy. Feeling a little complicated for his current aversion, Nik sighed softly. 'Should I just suck it up... the exams only last a week. No point in changing things since I like teaching, too... but...
Nik turned and flew towards the silent Samya. Her focused observation instantly felt the difference in Nik's current flight when compared to his previous ones. Even Nik found the difference, too, but held the urge from testing it right now.
"You look good in black," praising, Nik let his eyes brand Samya's current form within his mind. His slightly heated gaze observed the black dress with golden edges wrapping Samya's voluptuous figure with her b.r.e.a.s.ts slightly parted, signifying the lack of underwear beneath the dress. Her long golden hair cascaded openly and the lower locks would drift every now and then.
"An offering must be put to use, right?"
The corner of the Sword Maiden lifted slightly as she tilted her head.
"You look tired." Sword Maiden concluded after giving Nik a blindfolded look. "Yeah, about that, I just need to sleep."
"With? I mean, what?" Samya suddenly cursed herself internally as Nik's silent stare made her rub her thighs against each other uncomfortably. Not wishing to engage a long tangent, Nik decided to leave Samya's previous inquiry at that and looked around.
"Oh," he recalled and tilted his head towards Samya, "I wanted to inquire something about... cultivation."
This question has been itching Nik for a long time. Even though Sky said that this world did not allow plants and weapons to cultivate their spirits and leave behind spirit rings, Nik had already gone through a few records within the Library that stated otherwise.
"What would you like to know? Bear in mind that I won't be exposing anything regarding the higher realm."
Nodding, Nik asked away. His inquiry made Samya think of the current trend of the cultivation. Thinking for a moment, she sighed. Even though she would limit her answer, it would still touch the surface of divinity. 'Well, the cultivators are supposed to fuse the spirit rings into a divine spark... so, it isn't related to godhood at all.'
"This world of ours shifts in trend continuously. The current trend dictates that only human beings have the right to cultivate spirit rings and then, in the end, fuse the spirit rings to form a divine spark. Do not ask me what divine spark is, it is different for everyone. What I mean to say is, while most of the plants used to turn into a spirit and demonic plant that would leave spirit rings, currently, this part of the cultivation is also limited. Yes, they aren't stopped from turning into spirit plants with their own consciousness, but they are rarer than the ten savage beasts of the Star Dou Forest."
Meanwhile, Sky commented from within, "It looks like quite a few changes scarred this plane after we left."
Nik didn't even bother asking the obvious. Yes, Sky had already visited this plane previously. Most probably, with Kaal.
"Okay," Nik nodded and then thought about Gojira and Ryu'er, "If only humans are able to cultivate then... does that mean that the spirit beasts need to turn into humans?"
With a knowing smile, Samya nodded.
"Who defines the trend of cultivation?" Nik continued.
"The world itself. In fact, only the lower plane like this one can be affected by the will of the world. Once ascended to the plane of gods, almost all restrictions are shattered."
For the next few minutes, Samya patiently answered all of Nik's inquiry. He continued to ask about various things in the higher planes, too, but Samya didn't answer them and limited herself to the general knowledge of the current plane. When Nik tried to inquire Sky about this, she stated clearly that the so-called realm of gods hosts all the 'fake' goddesses like Samya and others. In Sky's estimation, all these gods barely touched the strength proclaimed by rank 7 members of the various paradise. But in front of a real rank 7, they all would fail miserably.
"What is a divine spark then?"
Samya thought for a moment before replying, "Once a cultivator reaches the peak of rank 99 in cultivation, they need to slowly combine their spirit rings in a specific order most suited to them. The final product is a divine spark."
Her answer could be called vague at best, but Nik would take that with a satisfied heart.
Meanwhile, Sky also replied to Nik's inquiry, "A divine spark is the crystallization of understanding. The divine spark this Sword Maiden claims is an unfinished product. A true divine spark... can only be attained by a higher understanding. It can be a divine spark of elements, techniques, aspects of life... things like that."
"How high should be one's understanding?" Nik inquired internally.
"Far greater than grandmaster. So, you've got a long way to go."
"Did you form a divine spark?"
"It is one of many prerequisites of rank 6, so yes. Let me answer the obvious, I not only attained the divine spark of the concept of dream and space but also cultivated to a higher realm. Divine Spark was merely one of many achievements in my previous life."
"Hmm, wait, that means you still have all those insights with you, right? Once you gain a body..."
"Yep," Sky giggled, "Not only me but the other two, too. Once the three of us get our bodies, you'll find yourself three extremely strong bodyguards within a few dozen years!"