Immortal Ascension Tower
Book 1: Reborn
First Arc: The Child And The Dragon
Chapter 16 – Entering Cultivation
“Seeing how that Martial Way was made to perfectly match your Triple Qi, I believe it was probably made after you reported the attributes of your Sensed Qi… Judging by your age and the average time this happens within the Xiao Clan, it should be roughly a few months before you left your clan to get here. When your ancestor, Xiao Lan, heard about this, he must have probably chosen to create a Martial Way that could integrated all three kinds of Qi, one similar to his own. Unfortunately, I arrived soon afterwards. Xiao Lan must have gone nuts, so much so that he actually sent you here as fast as he could, and only handed you the Martial Way that he had yet to fully complete.” He shook his head and smiled bitterly, “I guess I can’t say I do not understand his decision… He must have realized that, aside for him, the only other person who would be able to guide you in your cultivation of Triple Qi would be me, and that I’d do a much better job at it than him. And he also wanted to find me, but probably was unable to move for some reason… Thus, he got two birds with one stone, and sent you here in his place, hoping I would teach you better than he ever would. Otherwise he wouldn’t have sent you, his own descendant, so far away in such a hurry. He also wouldn’t have hid the incomplete Martial Way in your consciousness. If he knew however that I, one of the every few people who’d be able to get it out, was where you’d be going to, everything would fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle…”
That little stalker must somehow know that I am here and very much alive; as expected, I guess? I wonder when exactly, during the two hundred or so years that we got to spend together, I first started taking his strange god-level stalking skills for granted…
Cheng Hao smiled at the thought of the young voice screaming, ‘See boss? I knew you’d be here…’
The golden-eyed child sighed with feeling and fell silent.
Xiao Wu had already adjusted to the ‘egocentric’ Cheng Hao that liked to ‘joke around telling tales of a mysterious past of his’, so she didn’t mind him. She ignored most of his mumbling, and instead kept observing her very own Martial Way.
The scene was made up of three objects: a gargantuan white oak, a fierce serpentine, black-scaled dragon, and an imposing violet orb that hovered in a fictitious sky like a purple moon. The former was a physical manifestation of the Xiao Qi that focused on an immoveable and impenetrable defense, the White Tree Qi! The second depicted the fierce and overbearing Black Dragon Qi, that focused on head-on collisions and overpowering one’s opponent through absolute strength! Lastly, the violet orb was the last of the Xiao Clan’s Three Qi, the Purple Moon Qi, whose devious and uncanny abilities could completely turn the tides of a battle. The more the young girl looked at the small scene, the deeper her understanding of her Purple Moon, Black Dragon And White Tree Sensed Qi became…
It was truly an object as miraculous as the legends told! Plus it was tailor-made for her? She felt like screaming over and over, but eventually managed to repress that urge.
After a while, Cheng Hao snapped out of his daydreaming. “Goldy, are the preparations ready?” The boy turned towards a spot in the middle of the room. Although the golden snake hadn’t been in sight for a while, he actually had not stop working for a second and had instead been inscribing a complicated formation on the floor of the small hut.
“Goldy? Your grandfather’s a Goldy.” The snake grumbled.
“But, oh mighty and noble dragon, this humble disciple really likes that name… Can’t we please call you like that? Goldy, Goldy, Goldy… it sounds adorable!” Xiao Wu acted all cute and girly, making the snake slightly uncomfortable.
“F-fine!” blushed the reptile. “I-I guess it is not that bad of a name…”
Cheng Hao smiled and mocked as he sang a happy tune “Pedo snake, Pervy snake, Off in jail you go~ Off in jail you go~”
“Sh-shut up, Stupid Hao!” The snake coughed and then said, “Yes, the formation is finished, so stop bothering me! It is called the Impure Moonlight Gathering formation. It will help you in gathering the Qi in your body and it will help a bit in preventing your body from refining it into purer Qi. It should activate when the moon is at its highest, which it will be in about a few moments”
Cheng Hao nodded and turned towards Xiao Wu, repeating once more “Remember. Sense the Qi, gather the Qi in your body and absorb it, form the Qi Sea and condense the Pseudo-Core!”
Xiao Wu nodded and spoke herself, “Moving water will be difficult to freeze as long as it has momentum and moves. To freeze water, stop it. Make it into still water; turn the river into a sea. Freeze the water; condense the sea into the Pseudo-Core!”
The two kids looked at each other and smiled: they were ready!
Suddenly, the symbols making up the formation lit up and both Cheng Hao and Xiao Wu both nodded slightly, took out their Martial Way and sat cross-legged into the glowing formation…
As soon as Xiao Wu closed her eyes she entered the meditative state, a state where the mind and the consciousness swapped places. She was not able to feel her body any longer, even her five senses had been completely shut off. She was unable to see, hear, feel, smell or taste. On the other hand, she instead could ‘see’, ‘hear’, ‘feel’, ‘smell’ and ‘taste’ the Qi surrounding her. A huge amount of information flooded her mind as countless strands of Qi slowly began to approach. They were all different from each other, but the sheer number of strands made it so finding a sufficient amount of Qi strands of one’s Sensed Qi would take hours, days, even.
Usually, even Xiao Wu would need at least a few hours, maybe half a day to find the right Qi strands, and even then they might be of higher quality than the Inferior stage Qi she needed. This was also why, in lower planes of existence such as the one Xiao Wu and Cheng Hao currently in, the peak of Martial Cultivation was the Reverend stage. This was because the quality of the necessary Qi strands and the lack of sufficient Spiritual Energy made it neigh impossible for experts to go any higher. However, thanks to the Formation inlaid on the ground and the Martial Way, searching for the right Qi strands was not a problem.
In fact, such a huge amount of Qi strands was not normal; more accurately, it the presence of ‘impure’, low quality Qi strands of the Inferior stage vastly outnumbered that of any other kind. Such a situation was not that rare, as Inferior Qi was usually much more abundant than any other. However, that ratio had been amplified many times over! Amongst thousands of Qi strands, Xiao Wu failed to notice any more than ten Basic Qi strands and zero of any higher quality. And even then, those Basic Qi strands were immediately dismissed as soon as they came into contact with the light emitted by the glowing formation.
She could not help but exclaim in her mind,
What a miraculous formation!
And she had all the rights to be so shocked: even sacred grounds created by experts of the Xiao Clan could not compare to this single formation, randomly inscribed on the floor of a small wooden hut in less than a few hours! Had she known that the one that thought up the principles and created that one formation was the child meditating just a few feet away, who knew how would she react?
The quality of the Qi strands was taken care of by the formation. As for the Qi strands she sought for, they were naturally attracted to the Martial Way in her hands, so the ‘Seeking’ part of the breakthrough was done. Now she only had to ‘gather and absorb’ the Qi strands, and she would officially join the ranks of cultivators! In the past, she had already gathered and absorbed a few strands by herself, but they had been far from sufficient. Had she not met Cheng Hao, she would have probably needed at least a whole week of nonstop meditation to gather the amount she needed. This was also because the fact she had a Triple Qi directly influenced her initial cultivation speed when first Sensing the Qi, so she’d have to make three times the efforts of a normal person. In exchange, she would be able to gather Qi three times as fast and the amount of Qi at her disposal would naturally be three times that of a normal person.
And yet, while accumulating those few strands took weeks of work, in just a few breaths worth of time her reserve of Qi strands (now they were more like balls of wool than just strands) had already doubled! In the time it would take to drink a cup of tea, Xiao Wu had finished the gathering process, at a speed tens, hundreds of times faster than she expected! Subconsciously, she was about to gather some more to compress the impure Inferior Qi into purer Qi, when Goldy’s voice reached her ears as the stream of Qi was suddenly interrupted.
“Don’t! Stupid Hao may be an unparalleled cunt, but he is no idiot! Don’t you remember what he said about purer and denser Qi being harder to condense? Only after condensing the Pseudo-Core will you be allowed to absorb purer Qi. Once you reach the target amount of Qi, you must immediately stop absorbing! I will aid you with the absorbing part but, as for the forming of the Qi Sea and Pseudo-Core, Stupid Hao told me that I must leave you alone, for it will help you in future breakthroughs!”
Having said that, the golden snake’s form appeared on the shoulder of her own consciousness and, seeing some slight disturbances and trembling in her state of mind, he immediately added, “Worried abut Stupid Hao, aren’t you? Well, there’s no need for you worry about him, so you can relax. In the last six months, he has not been sitting still and doing nothing. He has already calculated every single one of his moves in many different scenarios, up to Ageless Realm. Me helping him would just slow him down. He begged me to aid you instead.” A glint of warmth appeared for a split second in the snake’s eyes before disappearing immediately.
Xiao Wu’s consciousness grew still again and, together with the golden dragon, she began to absorb all the gathered Qi. Then, she wrapped each strand individually with a small amount of Spiritual Energy and used it to direct it towards her consciousness. Just like that, streams of energy moved towards her sea of consciousness. Suddenly, as the energy suddenly sped up and began to rotate like a vortex, the girl realized that she had made a mistake!
No! Those streams are not good! They are too fast! If it were forming the Qi River they would be fine… however I must form a sea, not a river!
Unfortunately, she could not do anything, as she could not stop the energy hurrying towards her consciousness. At the very last moment, a mighty golden energy smashed straight into the Qi strands, pushing them back towards the mass of Qi strands she had gathered earlier.
“No good. Try again” the golden dragon’s voice reached her. At this, Xiao Wu understood: Goldy would aid her whenever she failed, but she would have to push through the hurdles herself. She won’t have to fear failure and could instead fail as much as she wished, but whether she succeeded or kept failing was up to her! She correctly guessed that was also part of Cheng Hao’s instructions, for her to grow.
‘Brother… Could you actually… Be a genius?’
‘And not only that. I will make you into one too!’
If he wants me to be a genius, then I’ll definitely succeed with my own power, and show him that choosing to put his faith in me was not wrong!
She might borrow power to avoid failing but she would succeed with her own skill!
“Not fast enough.”
“Woah, that was way too fast! Slow down, girl.”
“Too much! Definitely too much!”
“Good, you are getting the hang of it! This would have counted as a pass in my book, but for the sake of it and Cheng Hao being an ass, let’s try a few more rounds!”
After a few more attempts, the girl had finally succeeded in forming a small pond inside her consciousness! Slowly, she began filling it up. Connecting the mess of Qi strands to the pond were three streams.
A purple, wavy and near gaseous stream, just like a dreamy cloud, gently flowing into the pond without so much as a sound. A black stream, sometimes as weak as a trickle of water, and other times as overbearingly powerful as a waterfall. A sturdy and constant white stream, akin to a millenary river that had been flowing nonstop and without any change for thousands of years. The three different streams then combined into the still pond that was partly purple, partly black and partly white. After two long hours, the Qi Sea made up of impure Inferior Qi was finally completely formed and a large lake of half-liquid, half-gaseous Qi strands and Spiritual Energy had took form in the girl’s consciousness!
“Good job!” the snake praised. “Now for the easy part, the Pseudo-Core!”
“E-easy part?” Xiao Wu staggered: many cultivators couldn’t proceed further into cultivation exactly because they couldn’t condense the Core, let alone her who was still without cultivation! How could it be the ‘easy’ part?
Seeing the confusion on the girl’s face, Goldy laughed. “Remember, that you are not alone in this. You hold the only object capable of creating a Pseudo-Core. What that Cheng Hao had described earlier would have been impossible to accomplish if you had not had that Martial Way in your hands… even if you had created the Pseudo-Core, it would have immediately collapsed because of the instability of impure Qi. However, were we to put a certain ‘something’ in the middle to hold everything together, what would happen then? Watch out however, because it will be a painful process…”
In the blink of an eye, Xiao Wu realized. Without needing Goldy to speak another word, she absorbed her Martial Way into her consciousness, letting it enter the Qi Sea until it got into its very center… As she did that, her mind trembled, as if it couldn’t hold the Martial Way within for much longer! Still, she held on! The moment the Martial way finally appeared in the center of the Qi Sea, a powerful gravitational pull made the vast amount of liquified Qi collapse onto the treasure. The Sea shrank in size until it became a transparent pellet not much bigger than a soccer ball. It was see-through, meaning one could still see the tree, dragon and the moon at the center of the pellet. At that moment, Xiao Wu suddenly was forcefully ejected from her meditating state and her body began glowing white, purple and black.
Suddenly the scenery inside the newly formed Pseudo-Core lit up! The White-Black-Purple glow intensified, and then suddenly shot upwards!
The massive pillar of energy shot in the sky, as the crazy amount of energy made Xiao Wu spit out black blood: it was blood full of the impurities in her bloodstream! She was shocked: usually, the purification of the blood, followed by the purification of the bone marrow and finally that of the meridians, was a process that would only begin much later, at the Advanced stage! And yet, with the appearance of the Pseudo-Core in her sea of consciousness, she now actually exhibited traits of the Advanced stage after having just entered the Inferior stage!
Of course, she knew what that pillar of light was: it was a manifestation of the power of her newly acquired Qi. Usually it would be just one’s body that glowed dimply, while a ray of light would shoot upwards when one’s talent was excellent. However, she had never heard of such a grand manifestation! The records of her Clan affirmed that the highest a beam could go was roughly ten thousand feet, before the laws of the world would interfere and prevent it from going any higher. Her pillar did not seem to have exhausted its power, and yet why could it not go any higher but could only slightly expand in thickness? Was this because she had already reached the allowed limit?
“Woah! That was ten thousand feet right there! Xu Ling reached nine thousand feet himself. Indeed, you are that Xiao Lan’s descendant! However, even he barely touched the limit, your pillar is many times thicker than his was…” Goldy looked at Xiao Wu as if he was looking at a monster, “Not bad at all! It’s been quite a few million years since I last saw a ten-thousand-foot beam of such potency. With this, even that Cheng Hao might be stumped in defeat!”
The pillar of energy still shone intensely: it would continue doing so for a slightly longer while, but since it was a world’s laws that powered it, Xiao Wu wouldn’t feel any tiredness from having to support it. Instead, she even felt invigorated! This was an effect of the breakthrough and the abundance of residue Spiritual Energy in her body, which had yet to dissipate. After hearing Goldy’s words however, she beamed: according to him, she had vastly surpassed the Evil Saint Xu Ling and even bested her ancestor, the renowned Xiao Lan!
” Remember that your Martial Way is acting as a stabilizer for the Pseudo-Core, so do not remove it unless instructed. If you do, unless you put it back quickly, the Core will collapse after a few breaths. No big deal, as Cheng Hao will know what to do then, but you will temporarily lose your Pseudo-Advanced stage power. Don’t worry, there’s countless more ways to use it even without removing it from your consciousness, I’m sure Cheng Hao will explain later. The benefits definitely outnumber the drawbacks. And finally, remember that while in the future you will be able to actually fight Advanced stage with a cultivation of the Inferior stage, right now both your true cultivation and the Pseudo-Advanced cultivation from the Pseudo Core are unstable, so don’t force either too much for a few hours at least! In fact, seeing that Cheng Hao isn’t done yet, use this time to stabilize your cultivation!”
Xiao Wu nodded and immediately fell back into a trance. As soon as she did so however… BOOM! The sound of an explosion startled both the golden dragon and the purple-haired girl. Goldy and Xiao Wu’s consciousnesses both went back into their original bodies.
When he saw what had just happened, Goldy gaped so much he dislocated his jaw.
When Xiao Wu saw the situation outside, she also couldn’t help but shudder and her emerald eyes had widened so much they had grown to the size of two tennis balls.
Barely finding the strength to talk, the small girl asked with a trembling voice “This… What is THIS?”