18 The Scholarly Library
Life Lesson: Too much of something is never good.
System Rule: Chests- Only a single type of chest can be held by the user at any given time. Since the user already possessed the initial chest from reaching the foundation establishment stage, the second chest for reaching the core formation stage was skipped.
Reading the System's notification, Zhen Shi despaired at having missed a chance for growing stronger. But after a while, he fell into deep thought, 'While the system did mention a so-called 'System Rule' and even went so far as to quote a 'life lesson', the kind that one might find in fortune cookies, it was strange to hold back a chest and break a rule for such a stupid reason...
Could there be some other reason that the System is holding back the chest? But then again, I have no proper idea about how systems work in reality... So maybe I'm overthinking?\"
Shaking his head to clear his mind, Zhen Shi quickly gave up on that strain of thought. He knew too little to make any useful conclusions. As such, spending time on this matter right now will be a waste of time.
Deciding to first solve the matter of his injuries, Zhen Shi thought clearly, \"System, learn the skill !\"
Is the user sure about this choice?
\"Yes! Sheesh! Didn't I say it already? Why are you so slow--?\"
But before he could think any further, a terrifying searing pain ran throughout his body. It was as if his flesh and blood were being boiled at one second, and then cooled down to freezing temperatures in the next. And this back and forth process continued repeatedly...
As the pain surpassed the level he could handle, Zhen Shi almost let out a scream. But as a person with memories of spending four years being tortured, he could still think fairly clearly. As such, he hurriedly turned around on the bed and bit into the pillow.
As he struggled to handle the pain, his skin began to glow, a searing orange vermillion and a cooling azure blue.
And finally unable to hold on any longer, Zhen Shi lost consciousness.
Just as well, because the moment he did, under the guidance of the opposing energies his flesh and bones started writhing like worms in muddy soil. Thick black turbid blood seeped out of his pores as his skeleton gradually rearranged into a more powerful form.
Azure Blue scales slowly and painfully gnawed out of his skin, as two curving horns horns emerged out of the head and a writhing whipping draconic spiked tail emerged out of his back. His hands curved into terrifying claws, still humanoid enough to wield a weapon, but much more bestial...
At the same instant, a searing light red flame splurged out his skin and spread out to cover his entire body. While it looked like the flame was extremely hot, not a single bit of heat was emanated out. Even the bed he was lying on was completely unaffected and did not burn...
Instead, the flame converged on the areas of his injuries and began to rapidly heal him. As the turbid blood on his body was evaporated away, his cultivation was slowly healing...
The flames spread out and began to burn through everything, causing Zhen Shi to struggle in even more pain.
But as the flames continued to linger, almost mystically, the dantian became larger and more robust, his meridians were widened and strengthened, and even his bones grew stronger. A turbid black vapor was released from his body as the light red flames finished purifying his constitution...
It could be said that his body was now extremely suited for cultivation! This was the power of the Undying Flame of the Vermillion Bird!
As the fire continued to burn on, his physical cultivation slowly rose up as well. Within an hour, his body had reached the maximum level possible for his current cultivation level.
He was now a core formation expert by the physical body alone. Meaning that he could punch foundation establishment experts to death with his body alone and could easily take the full-powered attack of an ordinary core formation stage cultivator head-on.
As if he was a phoenix reborn of flames, his body had undergone a complete change!
Soon after, the flames retreated into his body. His horns, tail, and claws also reverted back to normal along with the retreat of the dragon scales.
A few moments later, Zhen Shi woke up groggily and calmly checked over the condition of his body. A satisfied smile broke out, as he realized that the pain had been worth it and his cultivation had returned to normal now.
But checking the internal condition of his dantian, he could sense two objects that had not been there before had settled upon his skeletal planet. A single azure dragon scale that hat settled deep within the vast shimmering blue lake, and a single vermillion bird feather that was settled at the heart of the largest active volcano.
There was also the speck of the Hel-fire that had disappeared during his cultivation to the core formation stage. It seems to have settled down in the region of flames and volcanos. But, for some reason, it has retreated to the very edge, bordering the region of mountains and valleys, almost as if it was fearful of something...
Zhen Shi only paid a cursory glance at that and focused on the vermillion bird feather and the dragon scale. As his mind passed over them, the two objects radiated an aura of kinship as if they were now one with him.
And the assimilation with the azure scale and the vermilion feather seems to have improved his control over fire and water as well!
With a satisfied nod, Zhen Shi returned back outside and slowly stood up from the bed.
Zhen Shi's body had already been at a fairly high level of strength. But now with the undying flames, his body seems to has been purged of all impurities and he had also made great progress in physical cultivation!
As such, his power muscles could be seen clearly from outside. He looked and felt like a leopard that was on the poise of shooting off to hunt!
Zhen Shi happily walked over to a mirror placed at a corner of the room and started to admire himself. 'Holy Shit! I look like a professional model!' He even started to pose to show off his muscles better. ᕙ(⇀‸↼‶)ᕗ
But suddenly the door opened and a maid with brown hair tied up in a bun and lively eyes walked in! She was dressed in a western black and white maid dress and was holding onto a set of clothes.
Zhen Shi froze in his pose in embarrassment, as he looked at her through the mirror...
But seeing Zhen Shi in a strange pose, her face gawked in surprise as she bowed saying, \"I-I'm sorry young master. I thought you were still recovering and asleep.\"
She raised her head and continued with a slightly red face, \"Butler Alec sent me over to leave a fresh pair of clothes and also... to return something of sentimental value...?\"
Zhen Shi's face froze for a moment, 'THAT OLD MAN? Well, isn't he quite crafty... He must be having the time of his life, with that kind smile plastered on his face and imagining what's happening here! And something of sentimental value? Old man, don't you think some jokes get old after a while?'
But with a light cough, Zhen Shi calmly returned to an ordinary posture, as if posing in front of the mirror and checking himself out was completely normal...
He lightly smiled in a way that he felt was charming and spoke, \"It's fine. You can leave it by the side.\" The maid nodded with an even redder face and proceeded to place the clothes on the bed.
Finishing her job, she raised her head to look at Zhen Shi. And with a blushing face, she bowed once more and proceeded to leave in a hurry.
As the door closed behind her hurriedly retreating figure, Zhen Shi couldn't help but grin, 'That was exhilarating! Did you see that cute blush?'
Dropping back on to the bed in satisfaction, Zhen Shi calmly looked around the room.
Suddenly his eyes fell on a shelf full of dusty old books. Unable to hold back his inner bookworm, Zhen Shi grabbed a handful of books and began to read them. But the first couple he read through was basically useless and rather uninteresting for him. As such, he simply flipped through the bring books ranging from, \"Making the perfect Bean Curd\" to \"Textures of the Soil. What does it mean?\"
But he finally happened upon a book that grabbed his interest, \"Mysteries of the Berthelien Forest. By: Armedius Hawthorne.\"
Reading through the book properly this time, Zhen Shi was greatly intrigued. There were quite a bit of local legends and stories mentioned in the book. While some of them caused Zhen Shi to raise an eyebrow in surprise, most of it felt like hearsay and not entirely true.
Either way, to his surprise, he was able to finish the book of a few hundred pages in a little less than two hours! As a cultivator, his mind seemed to work much faster than an ordinary mortal. So it was to be expected.
But, suddenly, Zhen Shi felt a thrum of aether within his mind causing a stifling headache.
As the headache cleared up, Zhen Shi blinked in pain for a moment.
But as he opened his eyes, he was no longer within that room. He could sense that he was within his mind, but he was at the entrance to a grand one-storied building that stretched as far as his eye could see. And at the top of the building, there was a name plaque written with shimmering caligraphy, \"The Scholarly Library!\"
At the same time, a system notification rang out.
Conditions for complete activation of Status effect: Scholarly Bookworm has been met. As promised, the user will never forget anything ever again!
Status effect: Scholarly Bookworm has evolved into Scholarly Librarian! Welcome to the Scholarly Library!
Zhen Shi gawked as he stared at the building and those words, 'What the hell? I've heard of many people who have Systems! Even one fellow with a library in his head... But both? Is this even fair to other people?\"
But with great excitement, he stepped into the library.
His eyes widened as he stared at the shelves full of books stretching out as far as his eyes could see. While some bookshelves were stacked with books, some others were almost completely empty...
And at the top of random areas, there were plaques with titles referring to each and every subject he had barely even glanced through. There were subjects ranging from [Jokes and Riddles] to [Physics]!
But, Zhen Shi's attention was caught by an area named [The Central Plains].
Before he knew it, he was within that area close to a mostly empty bookshelf.
Out of the six books placed on that bookshelf, only one book that looked strangely familiar had a title. Grabbing on to that book, Zhen Shi realized that it was the book he had read just a few moments ago, \"The Mysteries of Berthelien Forest. By-Armedius Hawthorne\"!
Flipping through those other books, he soon realized that they contained the little bit of information he had gained about the Central Plains through the former Zhen Shi's memories. As such, most of the information was centered around the Zhen Clan and the Divine Church and were things he already knew.
And to his great regret, he soon realized that \"The Mysteries of Berthelien Forest\" book was an exact copy of what he had read before. He had felt that certain aspects of that book were simply fictional local stories, and had been hoping that only the correct information would be stored in this \"Scholarly Library\"...
But exactly like the Status Effect promised, 'he will never forget anything ever again!' Whether the information was correct or false was irrelevant. Everything will be stored here.
While Zhen Shi was feeling unhappy that this \"Scholarly Library\" wasn't as good as 'that library', he had to admit that this wasn't exactly useless. And just to make sure, he decided to test it out.
Focusing his mind on one of the books he had simply flicked through, Zhen Shi suddenly appeared at the [Cooking] area of the Library.
Not even looking at the books that contained information on cooking from his previous life, Zhen Shi grabbed that familiar book, \"Making the perfect Bean Curd.\"
Flipping through the book, his mouth slowly curved into a satisfied grin as he realized that the entire book was available here!
In other words, as long as he saw something, whether he read it or not was unimportant, it would simply be stored in his \"Scholarly Library!\"
Zhen Shi who had been unsatisfied before began to grow excited again, as he began to imagine how he'd steal the techniques of other poor fellows...
'Even if my library isn't as strong as that fellow's, it still has some useful capabilities!'
At that moment, Zhen Shi was reminded of all the strange experiences he had experienced on the last day and decided it was time he analyzed what all of it meant...
Focusing his mind on his knowledge of Mythology, he suddenly appeared in the relevant area. Looking through the bookshelves he saw various familiar books he had read before, ranging from \"Influence of Mythology on Regional Culture\" to \"How much of Mythology can we actually believe?\"
But he paid no attention to them because he was distracted by a simply huge book, placed on a table instead of the bookshelves.
It was titled \"The Mythologue.\" The strangest part was, he had never read such a book...
As Zhen Shi read through it, he realized that this book contained complete information on almost every god and aspect of mythology he knew about! This was exactly what he needed!
While he did remember quite a bit, he couldn't be completely sure whether he had missed or forgotten something. As such, this book will undoubtedly be useful.
He quickly found the necessary information and cross-referenced it with all that he had experienced. As time passed, he was able to arrive at a set of pretty interesting conclusions...
Zhen Shi heaved a satisfied sigh as he returned back from the \"Scholarly Library.\" Looking at the Sun outside, he could see that a few hours had passed...
Zhen Shi stared at the remaining books in the bookshelf with greedy eyes. As a completionist, he couldn't help but spend another hour as he flipped through them and added them to his collection as well.
Having gained an ability that spoke to his true nature, Zhen Shi couldn't help but smile in satisfaction... but suddenly his smile turned into a frown, as he sensed something strange within his body.
'Has someone cursed this handsome and scholarly self?'
With the baptism of the vermillion flames, his body had become extremely pure. As such, he was extremely sensitive to anything that trespassed within his body...
Instantly looking inside, he carefully analyzed the area where he had sensed the movement until he finally found the culprit.
It was a globe of white transparent energy that seemed to have settled within a corner of his body. The globe was being burned by a strand of vermillion flames and looked like it would disappear in a while...
Even if the danger will be solved soon, Zhen Shi grew worried as he realized that this globe was next to indiscernible! If it hadn't moved before he would never have sensed it!
And strangely enough, the transparent globe seemed to be at home within his body, and even felt familiar to himself...
Zhen Shi's eyes finally glowed in understanding as he realized the truth of the matter. As such he asked from his thoughts, \"System, could this be what is left of the soul of the original Zhen Shi?\"
The user has finally realized it! Even though the former Zhen Shi passed away, his determination is strong. As such, he has survived in this weakened soul form. The Undying flames awakened the soul... but if the user does nothing, the soul will be automatically destroyed by the flames in a few hours.
However, the user can also assimilate with this soul. Will you?
Reading the notification, Zhen Shi fell into thought for a moment. Although he had already experienced some memories of the other Zhen Shi since it was only a few, the effect on him had been little.
But if he assimilated this soul, it was bound to give him the complete memories of another life and maybe even change his personality a bit.
But... he also couldn't steal the life of another person with a clear conscience. If he did, it would definitely leave a bad taste in his mouth. Besides, this should also be helpful to him.
As such, he thought decisively, \"Yes! I'll assimilate with the soul.\"
Soul Assimilation started. Since the user will be gaining the memories of another lifetime, the user will pass out for one day.
'Wait, what? Passing out for one whole day? SYSTEM, YOU SHOULD'VE WARNED ME FIRS--'
And he collapsed on to the bed passing out...