Somewhere in the Chel continent, Year 736
Sunlight pierced a thick layer of trees to flow through a window in a small thatch hut, deep in a forest. As if the sun was aiming, the light managed to perfectly land on the eyes of a sleeping child. The child shifted in his sleep, moving his face to avoid the sunlight. He was a small boy, with curly brown hair. He blinked slightly, showing off his bright blue eyes. The child yawned, sleepily. He was tired from sneaking out last night, and had only gone to sleep a few hours ago.
“DALE!” yelled an elderly man, his voice echoing in the morning light.
The child shot up faster than light, and ran outside the hut. “Yes, grandpa!” he exclaimed, spinning around randomly.
“Dale, have you finished your chores? Are your clothes clean, the dishes washed, and the floor swept?” The elderly looking man said. He had a great mane of white hair, with a very long, thinning beard. He was glaring at Dale.
Dale glanced off to the side and stammered, “Well, uh, you see, there was this tiger fighting a panther and I got distracted and...” Dale had stayed up a good deal of the night, watching several Attribute Beasts fight. Attribute Beasts are animals that have a small amount of control over one element or another. From Fire to Ice, Sky to Earth, and more, they were powerful and dangerous animals. However, to Dale, they posed relatively little threat.
“DALE WENSWORTH!” The elderly man yelled, “I leave for ONE week and you already neglect the most basic of chores.” The elderly man walked into the hut and began unloading a large bag he carried on his back, setting down various odds and ends. The old man gave off a wise and intelligent aura. At the moment, however, veins popped out in his head, his green eyes raging, as he stared at Dale.
“Sorry grandpa! It won’t happen again!” Dale promised. He felt guilty about not doing his chores, but felt like he had some justification. It’s not every day an Ice panther and a Fire tiger battle against each other. It was quite an interesting battle, one that he was nearly caught up in as well. He had been searching the forest for interesting creatures to play with. Ever since Dale was young, he had been naturally powerful. He found that, by the time he reached his current age of 5, he could contend with all the various creatures in the forest they lived in. Ice Tigers, Fire Lions, and more were no match for him.
“Regardless of anything, I expect you to always be punctual and fulfill your obligations.” The elderly man declared, shaking his head at Dale. “If your mother was here...”
“Today is a special day for you, Dale.” He continued, coming back outside, “Today is your 5th birthday. You are finally old enough to be tested for cultivation aptitude.”
“Cultivation aptitude?” Dale said. “What’s that?" He vaguely recalled the term, as well as Cultivation, but he didn't really know what it meant. He looked around bored.
The old man glared at Dale for a moment. “Have you read ANY of the study materials I gave you?!" he stared at Dale, ominously. Dale shrank down a little bit, nervous. He remembered the various books he neglected, opting to spend his time playing in the forest with the various cats. He had accumulated quite the experience climbing trees to chase after them.
The old man sighed, and continued, "Cultivation Aptitude is a test, Dale. Your inner strength will be checked, you will be tested to see if you have any potential for Cultivation. Every child in this Kingdom of Morn is tested at the age of 5."
"Cultivation is a way to increase your strength beyond human bounds. By purifying and concentrating the energy naturally found in the human body, one can develop a powerful 'Core'. This 'Core' is like a small pool of energy inside of you. One can draw energy from this pool, increasing their strength or speed, even allowing you to change your energy into that of the 8 elements. When this pool runs out of energy, all one has to do is rest, and it will naturally refresh itself."
Dale interrupted, "Yes grandpa! I remember all of this! Don't worry, grandpa, I'm going to become a Gem Core Cultivator, and conquer the world!" His eyes shined, dreaming of future glory.
One must understand, forming a Core is very difficult for normal humans. Only those gifted with exceptional strength can form a Core, and use its strength.
When one successfully forms a Core, their body will begin to give off a slight aura, or sheen. This sheen responds to the level of Cultivation their Core is at. The longer one cultivates, usually the higher level and more powerful a Core they possess. Each level of Core gives one a larger pool of energy to draw from, and can greatly increase their strength. Oddly enough, Cultivation Cores give off the characteristics of various metals. Because of this, the different levels were named after the metal or rock the Core was similar to.
The weakest level Core would be a Coal Core. Next, one advanced to Copper, Iron, Steel, Silver, Gold, and then finally a gold Core riven with streaks of black, known as a Black Gold Core.
When one’s Core reached the Black Gold layer, it began to slowly change, transforming into a powerful Gem Core. Very little is known about Gem Core users, except for their legendary strength and the extreme difficult in reaching this level. In the entire Kingdom of Morn that Dale lived in, there were no Gem Core Cultivators.
"Yes, yes. Of course you will Dale." Said the elderly man, shaking his head. He eyed Dale thoughtfully, an evil gleam appearing in his eyes, "Well, since you are so certain of your knowledge, please explain to me what an Innate Divine Characteristic is."
Dale stuttered for a moment, his eyes flickering as he recalled the book he read.
Innate Divine Characteristics, also known as Lord’s Bloodlines, were extraordinarily powerful gifts. Each bloodline let one have dominance over its specific element. This means, if you had, for instance, a Fire Lords Bloodline, you could control Fire using your Core energy much easier than a regular Cultivator. You would be able to use high level Fire techniques with ease, and your control of Fire would rise to astronomical levels. It also gave these cultivators a power boost, and helped them quickly develop strength. A person with an Innate Divine Characteristic was considered a genius, no matter where in the world he was born. The chance of being born with one was in the millions.
However, not all of the elements are equal, and neither are the Lords Bloodlines. Of the 8 elements, Fire, Ice, Sky, and Earth were the easiest to control. The remaining four, consisting of Time, Space, Life, and Aura, were much more difficult. Lords bloodlines using these 4 more difficult elements were the rarest among the rare. For every thousand Fire, Ice, Sky, or Earth Lords there were, there was only one Time, Space, Life, or Aura Lord.
These bloodlines could be hereditary, passed on by blood, but they can also appear randomly, seemingly without rhyme or reason.
Dale quickly summarized this for his grandfather, answering his question.
The elderly man harrumphed “Good, good. I can never be sure with you, when it comes to anything relating to homework.”
Dale took that moment to begin barraging his grandfather with questions.
“When do we go grandpa? How am I going to be tested? Who will test me? Are we leaving today?”
“We will travel in to town tomorrow.” The elderly man said, “The King’s testers will come through on their annual trip tomorrow. After we find out whether or not you have a Lords Bloodline, as well as what level your innate strength is at, we will decide what school to send you to.”
“School?” Dale said, “Do I have to go to school? It sounds like so much work.” Dale hated schoolwork. His grandfather regularly made him practice reading, numbers, and other boring subjects like history. At least reading about the wars in the past was marginally interesting.
“You brat! Don’t look down on school! Without an education, you will go nowhere in this world.” the elderly man said, a fierce light appearing in his eyes, “As well, if you have the talent, you will not be sent off to a regular school. There are several powerful schools in this Kingdom of Morn, chief among them being the Morn Main School.”
“Grandpa, which school did you go to?” Dale asked, curious. His grandfather hadn't talked about his past school before.
“The school I went to is very far from here, Dale. You wouldn’t recognize it.” He said, his face looking rather sad.
“Now! Pack up a set of clothes, and food for tomorrow’s trip. Off with you!”