Ves already took the first step to mastering the techniques demonstrated by Qilanxo's spiritual fragment. If not for witnessing the processes up close, he wouldn't have a clue on how to begin!
"Not only that, but I wouldn't even know that something like this was possible in the first place!"
It could be said that what he witnessed when he redeemed Space Knight Mastery I from the system had broadened his horizons. He never even dreamt that it would be possible to artificially create an expert pilot!
Ever since then, Ves always wanted to replicate the process.
That was easier said than done. Not only was it rather troublesome to acquire spiritual energy, but even if he had some within his reach, his control and strength was but a shadow compared to Qilanxo's might.
He only gained some confidence when he advanced to Journeyman. While his Spirituality probably wasn't as strong as that of a Senior Mech Designer, he at least took some steps forward.
So far, he was right. After a bit of fumbling, he managed to wipe out the spiritual imprints of an uncountable number of Ylvainans!
He met very little resistance as he did so. Each individual imprint was weak, and Ves spent more care on limiting the scope of his actions so that he didn't spill and damage something important.
"If the spiritual accumulation only consists of one imprint, then it'll probably offer much more resistance." Ves muttered.
He recalled that Qilanxo's spiritual fragment donated a substantial amount of its own spiritual energy to encourage Eloise Pelican's apotheosis.
While Ves hadn't experimented on his own spiritual energy yet, he knew that he wouldn't face any resistance if he wiped off his own spiritual imprint.
He smirked. "It's my imprint. How can I resist myself?"
The only downside was that spiritual energy was quite precious! He hadn't even fully recovered from the losses he sustained when he donated a small chunk of his own spiritual energy to empower the images he created for the Ouroboros!
He treasured his loose spiritual energy, especially since not a lot of it was at his disposal after his design seed absorbed a large amount.
While the emergence of his design seed provided him with a lot of help, it also narrowed down his choices.
"Advancement is a process of specialization." Ves formed a guess. "Just like mech design, there's always a tradeoff. Becoming better at something means sacrificing versatility."
Fortunately, his advancement to Journeyman hadn't crippled his ability to manipulate spiritual energy. While he would probably never become a maestro in this field, what strength and control he acquired was sufficient to perform some limited procedures.
This made him wonder if his ability to manipulate spiritual energy in this fashion would strengthen or weaken over time. It would be bad for his future plans if his versatility further diminished as his design seed grew stronger and transformed.
"On the flipside, if my design seed becomes stronger, I'll become less dependent on external sources."
It was better if he could do everything himself. The whole reason why he was resorting to raiding the spiritual energy from valuable relics was because they could strengthen his ability to design his mechs.
He turned his attention back to the second step of his plan. He knew it was a lot trickier than his first technique.
"Destruction is easier than creation."
Some of the thoughts he held when he designed the Ouroboros still stuck in his mind. Destruction and creation were two sides of the same coin, but both possessed a lot of differences.
The act of removing someone else's spiritual imprint was akin to destruction. Ves didn't really need to wrack his mind over the technique because it was as simple as smudging his spiritual finger over the imprint.
However, putting another spiritual imprint in its place was a bit trickier. He couldn't apply his Spirituality in a hamfisted manner and expect to create something new in the form he wanted.
He needed to find a way to spread the Grey Marty's spiritual imprint to the ownerless mass of energy.
He developed several different approaches.
The simplest approach would be to see if the Grey Marty's spiritual imprints could 'contaminate' the larger cloud of ownerless spiritual energy.
Such a procedure also tested the nature of spiritual imprints. Was it something that existed in a fixed quantity, or could it spontaneously reproduce itself as long as there was enough space?
The other alternative would be to regard the act of replicating someone else's spiritual imprint as a process of mass production. Like a 3D printer running day and night, the only way for Ves to duplicate a spiritual imprint en masse was to put conscious effort into copying it over and over again.
The premise of this technique rested on the assumption that Ves was able to imitate the function of a 3D printer.
Ves tried to recall what he witnessed back then from Qilanxo's spiritual fragment.
"The first step is to wipe out the spiritual energy it freely donated to Eloise Pelican. The second step is to blend the huge cloud of ownerless spiritual energy with the strong emotions of the mech pilot."
Ves wasn't attempting to create an expert candidate or expert pilot this time. He didn't have access to a living Grey Martyr who could donate the thoughts and emotions that he required!
This left him with a gap where he couldn't blindly follow someone else's example.
He needed to solve the problem by developing his own solution.
"Well, here goes nothing."
He started with the simplest approach, which he much preferred over the other. If he could let the spiritual imprint do most of the work itself, then Ves didn't need to exert too much energy in encouraging the contamination process.
Hoping that it would work, Ves concentrated his mind and attempted to employ several ways to get the spiritual imprint tied to the original sentiment to jump out and contaminate the large cloud of spiritual energy that was right next door!
A frustrating half hour went by as Ves clumsily groped around. Often times, he applied too much force, which accidentally damaged the valuable spiritual imprint.
"I can't go on like this." He sighed and stopped what he was doing. "It's obvious that spiritual imprints can't propagate by themselves."
He was hopeful that his contamination theory was true, because he could just sit back and supervise the process if that was the case.
Instead, it seemed he needed to take a more active approach.
The only problem was that Ves didn't know where to start. He didn't know what a spiritual imprint was made of, let alone know how to replicate it if it belonged to someone else.
"It's easier if its my own imprint." He muttered.
According to what he saw back then, an imprint formed on spiritual energy after they blended with someone's thoughts and emotions. The imprint was basically a marker that claimed the spiritual energy to the originator of the thoughts and emotions.
This presented Ves with a clue.
"The thoughts and emotions of the Grey Martyr are well-documented."
Although Ves didn't pay close attention to the Grey Martyr's life back when he visited the grand church, he developed a pretty good picture of the man back when he was alive.
"If I replicate some of his thoughts and emotions, would I be able to do something with his imprint?" Ves wondered.
It was worth a try. Even if he failed, he would only ruin the spiritual accumulation of an insignificant seed at worst. He could still try something else with the commemorative medallion.
Having lived in the Ylvaine Protectorate for a couple of weeks, Ves developed a better understanding of the Ylvainan Faith than most citizens of the Bright Republic. While that didn't make him as knowledgeable as a devout Ylvainan believer who memorized all of Ylvaine's predictions and sayings by heart, he at least understood some of their core beliefs.
"The central belief of the Ylvainan Faith lies in their assurity that every form of life will transcend their mortal forms and ascend into godhood!"
This was a bold and radical assumption to make. There were so many implications and problems associated with this core belief that Ves didn't even know where to begin.
"Yet most Ylvainans don't express any doubt at all."
A Brighter like Ves would constantly doubt and question the validity of this radical belief. An Ylvainan would simply accept it as the truth. At best, some of the details might differ due to the variety of interpretations available, but most Ylvainans adhered to the most widely-accepted interpretation set by the Grey Martyr himself!"
That made things easier to Ves. He knew the basics of the Ylvainan Faith and he knew that the Grey Martyr's own personal beliefs didn't diverge that much from the mainstream interpretation.
What he did next was a little bit troublesome. In order to put the replication process in motion, he needed to provide the fuel in the form of his own emotions and thoughts.
It couldn't be his own emotions and thoughts. It was not his intention to impart his own scent on the spiritual accumulation of the little seed. What was the point of designing an Ylvainan mech when it carried the aura of a secular Brighter?
No. He needed to adopt the mindset that closely matched that of the Grey Martyr. He began to recall the lessons he learned when he toured the museum wing of the grand church.
"The Grey Martyr is first and foremost a teacher."
The man wasn't an academic at all. He grew up as an average citizen and never achieved anything remarkable before the prophet converted him in his later years.
He took on the role of teacher and interpreter because he wasn't capable of doing more.
"According to the records, the Grey Martyr was a curious man who constantly tried to find the hidden meanings in the predictions and sayings of the prophet. He also wanted to share his understanding with others in order to gain a better understanding of Prophet Ylvaine's original intentions."
Ves constructed an image of the Grey Martyr in his mind. He derived the man's original personality from the information he learned and added some of his own guesses along the way.
The image of the Grey Martyr became increasingly more rich. What Ves did right now was no different from forming an image to define the X-Factor for his mechs!
The only difference this time was that he wasn't going to put his image to use on a mech.
Once he was finished with the process, the image of the Grey Martyr was rich but largely hollow and insubstantial. It was just a figment of his imagination at this point.
Usually, the next step after forming the image would be to breathe life into it by imparting it with spiritual energy. The spiritual energy came from himself or from a spiritual fragment he scavenged from somewhere.
Not this time.
Ves developed a bold proposition. Instead of breathing life into an image, what if he breathed the image into his own mind? Would he be able to 'embody' the image and take on its personality and traits?
"It's like donning someone else's mask."
After a bit of fumbling, he figured out how to apply his ideas. He inflated the image and tried to merge it with his own mind.
Nothing drastic happened at first. He was still preoccupied with blending in the image to his mind, which wasn't easy as his mind did not wish to be encroached by a foreign personality!
He had to lower his mental defenses and use quite a bit of strength to merge the image with his mind. Even then, the process only happened gradually and tentatively.
Twenty minutes in, Ves noticed that his mentality had changed by quite a bit. When he thought back on the Ylvainan Faith, he found to his surprise that he instantly felt a lot of heartfelt devotion to the prophet!
He hypnotized himself into becoming a devout worshipper of the Ylvainan Faith!