The Ringed Corridor Plains.
Su Chen was still assiduously researching the intermittently flickering shadow creature.
This research subject was quite difficult to pursue. Because it was an amalgamation of six different Astrals, it was extremely unpredictable. After all, even the Astrals themselves would have a hard time replicating this feat.
Apart from uncovering its secrets to use as inspiration to enhance the fusion of Yin and Yang for his Thought Manifestation Realm cultivation technique, Su Chen also hoped to use it to discover even more profound secrets, if possible.
Today, Su Chen was researching as usual when Zhu Xianyao came in from the outside.
After Su Chen rescued Zhu Xianyao from Harpy territory, she had constantly been by Su Chen’s side. She helped Gu Qingluo manage the Boundless Sect’s affairs and had also been assigned the status of “Sect Master’s wife.”
However, Zhu Xianyao didn’t managing Sect affairs. She was more interested in Su Chen’s research, so she would come by and visit him every so often. Gu Qingluo, in comparison, acted much more befittingly of her status. She was constantly fulfilling her duties.
As such, Su Chen was not surprised to see Zhu Xianyao walk in unannounced. In fact, he even said, “Here, use your Soul-Peeling Needles and give this guy a poke.”
Su Chen gave Zhu Xianyao a task as soon as she appeared.
The Soul-Peeling Needle was one of the Zhu Clan’s secret techniques. It was kept extremely confidential and was very hard to learn. Zhu Xianyao had isolated herself for a number of months to focus on studying and mastering it while she was in Harpy territory.
But before she could use it even once in battle, it had instead been reappropriated for research labor by Su Chen.
Zhu Xianyao walked over, giggling. A point of light gathered around her finger, and then descended to where Su Chen was pointing. The shadow immediately responded with an explosion of powerful light.
Su Chen immediately used his eyes to analyze and dissect the shadow’s reaction, recording everything that he saw down in his consciousness crystal.
Zhu Xianyao knew his habits and didn’t disturb him.
After some time, the light in his eyes began to fade. Zhu Xianyao tenderly said, “If you don’t tell me to stop soon, then I’m going to faint.”
Su Chen smiled. “You can stop now.”
Zhu Xianyao pulled her hand back and sighed as she fell into Su Chen’s arms. “I feel so tired.”
Su Chen grasped Zhu Xianyao by the waist. “Hey, Iron Cliff’s right there.”
Iron Cliff stood there quietly, pretending to not notice anything.
Zhu Xianyao was even more brazen than him and didn’t seem to care about whether Iron Cliff could see them or not. She wrapped her arm around Su Chen’s neck and planted a deep kiss on his mouth. “I don’t care.”
Brazen, bold, and rash. In this time period, some would even consider her actions shocking.
Su Chen, however, didn’t mind them one bit. He leaned in and gave Zhu Xianyao a deep kiss in response.
Iron Cliff could no longer maintain his indifference. He sighed and turned around to leave.
However, he didn't even make it out the door when Su Chen called him back in. “Where are you going? The experiment isn’t over yet.”
Iron Cliff wryly said, “Master, you still want to continue with the experiment?”
“Of course.” Su Chen put Zhu Xianyao down. Zhu Xianyao frowned, clearly quite unhappy.
Su Chen slapped her butt teasingly. “Don’t be so quick to turn unhappy. I have some good news for you.”
“I’m not interested in any good news.” Zhu Xianyao’s hands balled up into fists and gently hammered at Su Chen’s chest as if she were going to beat him to death.
Su Chen replied, “Even if the news is that I found a way to improve your bloodline’s bewitching properties?”
Zhu Xianyao was immediately stunned. “You mean……”
Su Chen nodded. “I made a breakthrough that gave me some insights into the Astrals’ consciousness enslavement skills.”
The Astrals’ consciousness enslavement technique was one of the most powerful skills in their arsenal.
However, their mastery of this skill was closely related to their ethereal bodies. Even if someone comprehended the principles behind it, they wouldn’t necessarily be able to use it.
But if Su Chen was the one who had managed to find some insight, it definitely wouldn’t just be on the level of an “observer’s.” He definitely would have found something that he could study or even use in the future.
And the Zhu Clan specialized in bewitching techniques that were quite similar to the Astrals’ consciousness enslavement technique. As such, Zhu Xianyao was delighted to hear that Su Chen had found a way to improve her clan’s bewitching techniques.
Actually, the Zhu Clan’s bewitching techniques had already been upgraded by Su Chen once before. This second upgrade was probably going to be even more impressive than before.
Indeed, Su Chen next said, “The Astrals’ control technique differs from the Zhu Clan’s. The Zhu Clan primarily relies on charming the opponent, which is why this skill is best used by women. The Astrals’ consciousness enslavement, however, does not differ between gender, and the effect lasts forever. This is because their control method directly affects their opponent’s sea of knowledge by creating a dream realm that forcibly overwrites their memory and changes their allegiances.”
This was the first time that Zhu Xianyao had heard anyone talk about how the Astrals controlled their opponents. She was currently still in Su Chen’s embrace, and she gazed up at him with her round eyes as she asked, “Forcibly overwrite? But the Astrals’ slaves don’t lose their memories.”
Su Chen replied, “Of course not. Because what they’re overwriting is not, strictly speaking, memories, but rather their values, ethics, and philosophy. They brainwash their targets into believing that Astrals are superior beings, and constantly strengthen this rhetoric, which gives them complete control over that target. So even if the creature knows that it is being enslaved, it is more than happy to serve their new master in that capacity. This is essentially the same as a child being told to respect the teacher and the Dao from birth, or a subject being told that he must die for his king. It’s basically akin to imprinting.”
Zhu Xianyao immediately pointed out, “But teachings can fail, while the enslavement technique does not.”
Su Chen nodded. “Yes. It is possible for teachings to fail, but consciousness enslavement will never fail. This is because teaching is, at the end of the day, merely surface-level and shallow. It relies on words to influence and shape a person’s mind. When a target’s will is too powerful, no amount of teaching will ever be able to influence that person’s mind. Consciousness enslavement, on the other hand, directly imprints these beliefs onto an individual’s heart to achieve the enslavement effect. Actually, the Astrals’ are quite skilled to be able to pull this off. They actually plant a consciousness seed within their target’s sea of knowledge.”
“Consciousness seed?” Zhu Xianyao grew excited.
The things that Su Chen had mentioned just now were not really secrets. After all, the humans and Astrals were both decently familiar with each other. Zhu Xianyao already knew some of what Su Chen had explained, just maybe not as in-depth as he did.
But this was the first time that Zhu Xianyao had ever heard of a consciousness seed before.
“Yes, a consciousness seed!” Su Chen declared confidently. “Their consciousness seed is very well-concealed. If it weren’t for this Astral amalgamation, I wouldn’t have discovered this secret.”
This Astral amalgamation was formed from six distinct Astrals. Even though the formation had fused them together, they were not actually of one mind. This meant that there were holes in their form that Su Chen could exploit.
Merging together had made the Astral amalgamation more formidable, but it also came with its own flaws. When Zhu Xianyao had used her Soul-Peeling Needles to deal a heavy blow to the amalgamation, these flaws had magnified to a discernible level, allowing Su Chen to get a much clearer picture of the secrets behind the Astrals’ consciousness enslavement techniques.
This consciousness seed was actually just a child-will.
When the Astrals used their consciousness enslavement technique on a target, they were actually splitting off a fragment of their will, planting that child-will into their target’s sea of knowledge, and then using it to take control of the target’s consciousness. Because this process involved cleaving their will into a parent one and a child one, and because the Astrals were spiritual entities, every use of their consciousness enslavement technique permanently weakened their strength to a certain extent.
This method allowed the Astrals’ to perfectly insert their will into another lifeform. From the moment the technique was successfully activated, that strand of Astral will was constantly altering the target’s thought process. As a result, any enslaved target would willingly serve the Astrals regardless of whether their memories remained intact. After all, their will was no longer their own.
The Astrals had concealed these consciousness seeds quite well. They were hard to find and even had the ability to self-destruct. If someone probed into an enslaved person, the consciousness seeds would automatically destroy themselves, making it impossible for anyone investigating to discover the Astrals’ secrets.
The Astrals had taken control of countless targets throughout history, but the self-destructing consciousness seeds made it so that no one had been able to discover the secrets behind consciousness enslavement for a long time.
Until this Astral amalgamation had appeared.
This strange amalgam had been formed as a reactionary byproduct and was a pure accident. More importantly, there was a non-negligible amount of chaos and uncertainty that had been introduced during the merging process.
Su Chen had asked Zhu Xianyao to use her Soul-Peeling Needles on it because this would activate the shadow’s defenses and cause it to automatically use the consciousness enslavement technique in response.
However, Su Chen possessed the Heart Walls technique. Instead of fighting back, he took advantage of this opportunity to observe what happened inside his consciousness. Besides his ample preparations, the Soul-Peeling Needles also somewhat paralyzed the shadow, slowing down its attacks significantly. The chaotic thoughts of its six wills and its slowed attack from the pain of the Soul-Peeling Needles meant that the Astral amalgamation was forced to reveal its hand. This was how Su Chen had managed to discover the consciousness seed.
“What a marvelous thought process and what exquisite skill.” Upon realizing the theoretical framework of the consciousness enslavement technique, Su Chen couldn’t help but sigh in appreciation. “But more importantly, it is not nearly as foreign as we thought it was.”
Zhu Xianyao’s eyes lit up. “You mean……”
“Humans can learn it as well!” Su Chen replied confidently.
This single discovery had shattered an immutable paradigm about the Astrals that had existed for tens of thousands of years.
Yes, humans could learn this technique as well.
Even though the technique was complicated, it was still learnable. However, the prerequisites to do so were quite high, and the effects would not be as potent. Even so, it could still be learned.
But that was not the most important implication.
Actually, Su Chen didn’t want to make the secrets behind the Astrals’ consciousness enslavement technique public. The Astrals were already universally despised. Teaching humans how to control others probably wouldn’t result in anything good.
But now that he knew the secret of the consciousness seed, he could develop a medicine that would help the Boundless Sect’s disciples to better resist this technique.
The current stopgap of inducing a coma could finally be discarded.
Zhu Xianyao was also ecstatic when she realized this. She excitedly grabbed Su Chen by the collar and yelled, “I don’t care what you say. You must teach me how to use this consciousness seed!”
Su Chen laughed as he replied, “I can teach you, but you must promise me that you will never spread this technique. Otherwise…… the entire continent will fall into chaos.”
“Got it!” Zhu Xianyao nodded diligently. “I will learn this. Then, I will enslave a horde of Astrals so that they will do many things for us. That way, Big Sis Qingluo won’t have as many responsibilities to take care of.”
So she did harbor some ambition to not let Gu Qingluo steal all the limelight, Su Chen thought to himself.
But this was fine as well.
Gu Qingluo possessed the Shining Dragon Bloodline, which was capable of intimidating almost any enemy she encountered. Zhu Xianyao also needed to have a specialty; with her bloodline’s power and the consciousness enslavement technique combined, it was possible that she would become an outstanding enchantress.
If that was the case…… Hehe, an entire horde of Astrals at my command.
That idea was sounding nicer and nicer.