Normal books did exist and there were even weird holographic projectors, but the main advantage of those fancy jade slips was the temporal dilation. Of course, there wasn’t actually any alteration of time itself. My brain was simply working way faster than normal and the information within was able to be imprinted into my mind more efficiently. Unfortunately, it wasn’t some instantaneous thing. It was more like being able to read, watch or hear a recording thousands of times faster than normal.
During the moment that the Qi entered my forehead, I felt as if I was seeing a documentary video. Queen Hua Jiang’s raspy voice was echoing around me, “Eons ago, during the Primal Era, there were many other races besides Humanity. According to ancient scriptures, the Elves were the original Druids. They achieved enlightenment upon The Primal Dao of Nature… By forming a strong bond with a Beast, it was possible to become ‘Companions’. A telepathic link would form and the Tamer would be able to intimately communicate with their Beasts. Their bodies were different than ours… The Elves could attune with their Beasts and shapeshift.
“Later on, the Humans tried to emulate them and ended up creating Cultivation Methods that could make themselves transform, but it wasn’t the same. A single Beast was their limit and the alterations became permanent after a while. Eventually, the Human Druids had ended up populating Genesis with all sorts of strange and new races… They also mated with Beasts. It was truly a chaotic and unrestrained era. No one knows exactly what happened, but I suspect that over the ages, many genocides occurred. Perhaps the Humans were responsible, or maybe they were just the last ones standing. I’ve also considered the possibility that the various other races had become infertile or sterile… Maybe they used some Forbidden Arts to pass down their Bloodlines?
“Regardless, the majority of people do not even possess a special Bloodline and have little to no possibility of becoming Druids. My Hua Family consists of many different branches, though all of them are related to Aquatic Beasts. When we first met, I tasted your blood and immediately knew that you weren’t a pure Human. Unfortunately, I don’t know what you are… but when I peered into your destiny for an instant, I aged an entire year! There was nothing but a phrase, ‘Who is like God?’ Then I saw some things that I didn’t quite understand… I felt a terror that went beyond my physical body. Truly, I believed that if I kept watching that scene play out, my soul would be corrupted and devoured.”
After that short intro, I saw a small girl sitting next to a pool filled with baby sea creatures. There was everything from crabs to stingrays, even turtles and snails. An old man stood next to her and instructed “Little Jiang, pick the one that you feel the closest connection towards… Don’t be afraid, they won’t hurt you.”
That child put her hand into the water and started giggling as a tiny silver octopus latched onto her index finger. Then she yelled “Grandpa, I like this one! It’s so squishy and cool looking! Hahaha~!”
“Good choice! Hohoho~, I prefer cephalopods as well!” The elderly guy wearing a blue robe, chuckled and gently pat her head. Then he pulled a small fish-bowl out of his storage ring and filled it with water from the pool. After that, he said “Okay, now you need to take care of this little guy… In the future, this will become your first Beast Companion!”
A moment later, the scene changed and the little girl was a few years older. She had become a Novice and was swimming in a beautiful, secluded cove. Silver tentacles reached up out of the salty water and wrapped around her right arm, but she just giggled. That octopus’ head was as big as her torso, though it was still only an Unranked Beast.
However, the kid suddenly started grinning happily and turned towards the critter, asking “Little Jie, are you evolving?” There was obviously no verbal response, but that creature began inflating rapidly, then shrinking down again, over and over again. Eventually, it was only the size of her tiny fist.
“Aww~, you’re so cute~!” She quickly hugged it tightly against her chest and whispered “I’m so proud of you Little Jie~…”
“There are two main aspects to Druidry: Taming and Transformation.” As I was watching that, I heard Hua Jiang’s raspy voice echoing out. “Taming Beasts is a very long and arduous process. For the best results, you must raise them from a very young age. It is possible to force a Beast to submit to you, if the difference in power is great enough… However, while that is still considered ‘Taming’, it is not the way of Druidry. Enslaving Beasts is not the same as forming a bond of Companionship with them. Companions are not necessarily equal in age or power and it is perfectly normal for the stronger one to dominate the weaker, but there must be a give and take. Affection and compassion are also very important. It isn’t a romantic relationship, but closer to that of family members. Siblings, parent and child, even cousins, sometimes lovers… There must always be a connection though.”
After a brief pause, she continued “Of course, what you actually need to do is establish a Qi link. When the Tamer and Beast are within a certain distance, they will be able to communicate telepathically. If the two are in physical contact and cultivate together, there are many benefits.”
In an instant, the little girl had grown into a teenager and the octopus was bigger than she was. They were still swimming in that same isolated cove together, but then she abruptly dove down towards the bottom of the small lake. It didn’t take long before she was sitting cross-legged on the white sand, with the bright rays of sunlight illuminating all the colorful fish and coral around her.
Jiang’s skin started turning silver and suction cups appeared on the palms of her hands, then two tubes jutted out of the sides of her neck and she was able to breathe underwater. Did I mention that she was totally naked? Yeah, that octopus was constantly crawling around her body and I’m pretty sure that their relationship was a bit closer than ‘family’. Anyway, the voice began narrating again.
“During the Apprentice Stage, it is important for Druids to discover what their Bloodline is and begin a Cultivation Method that suits them. Mine is called the ‘Platinum Octopus Scripture’ and is a Celestial Cultivation Method. Unfortunately, even if I taught it to you, there wouldn’t be much use. If in fact, you are able to shapeshift… You would need to choose a silver enteroctopus as your first Beast Companion to even practice it. Not only that, but your Bloodline would need to be related to cephalopods; octopi would be optimal.”
The rest of the recording was, well, long and monotonous. When she said thousands of hours, she really wasn’t kidding. Goddamn, it was like being trapped in a dream where you have no control over what’s happening and no way to hit the fast-forward button!
A brief summary: Druids are awesome. Beast Companions are overpowered. All the cool kids can transform into anthropomorphic animal people. One of the Queen’s neck holes is the octopus version of a vagina… Kind of gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘throat-fuck’. I was really disappointed when I didn’t get to watch any sex scenes.
Also, she totally could have just told me “Raise the shitty animal from birth, cultivate with it, the end!” Sure, there was plenty of cool information and I did get to see her naked a bunch of times, but the intro was able to tell me all I needed to know! Oh, well, there were a bunch of Martial Skills, Daoist Arts and Secret Techniques, so it wasn’t a total waste of time. Actually, only a few seconds passed in reality… I did get a migraine though.