He knew he should have spent the time speaking with the merchant. He had made the appointment after all. Yet, once he found himself in his room again, Arthur threw away such concerns and focused on draining core after core. He delved deep into his body and senses, the cultivation method that he had been taught by Uswah, seeking ways to improve the flow of energy.
Arthur realized he had been lax. Willing to take the cores as they came, willing to grow, but he had not been driving himself to improve as much as he could have. Despite all those conversations about needing to strengthen himself and the clan—somehow, he thought that he had more time.
He was wrong.
So he lay on the floor, a small blanket underneath to make things a little more comfortable, and stared at the ceiling. Or seemed to. In reality, he was deep within his body, watching the flow of power, understanding how his body took in the energy, how it used some of the ambient energy that was part of the world to heal him.
He’d had to decide which to improve on. Eventually, he’d chosen to focus on the core draining aspect, and how to better make refined energy. How to pull apart a core, transform the Yang energy that was within into Yin, to strain just for Yin alone and make it his fully. How to extract the full amount of core energy than let any escape wastefully.
The fact that it hurt, that it felt like pouring molten lava into his nerves?
There was a process of converting Yang into Yin that Uswah had shown him. It worked mostly for cultivated energy, not refined energy. The Tower energy that was around them could be brought into their core, pulled apart, and transformed. For the most part though, she had glossed over it in their lessons. Why bother, when it was easier and faster to just learn to pull only the abundant Yin energy at a faster rate?
Except that didn’t work as well when one was working with refined energy from a core. There was a limit to the amount of energy in a core, and most cores were a mixture of Yin and Yang. A generally balanced mixture, with only minor variations.
If he did not learn how to balance the pull, to use all of it, he would only get half as much use. That was still better than merely cultivating and then refining Tower energy, but half as useful than it could be. Twice as long, more importantly. So rather than suffer that, he would take it all first and then convert the Yang into Yin.
The energy entered his body, burning as it was channelled through him. Burning as he used the channels within his body to refine the energy, and his entire body became the transformer. Nerves on fire, even as he shovelled the extra energy into his core, battling the damn Yin energy until he could siphon it away. A bad heartburn, in his bladder, one that threatened to take away his attention.
He sweated and panted but stayed focused. He watched as his body acclimatized to the Yang energy again, converting it over to Yin. He refined the methods, pushing the energy to the full extremities of his body. Yin-soaked cells and bones took the Yang in, using it to fuel them.
After all, a Yin Body was not entirely composed of Yin energy. How could it be? He was no undead. Yang energy was required but in much smaller doses, in tiny increments. That he now used to build upon, to make himself grow stronger.
He sweated and panted, drumming his feet against the ground once in a while and the wounds on his face and stomach began to bleed anew before they closed again. Along the way, Arthur noticed an interaction that he had missed earlier. An interaction between his passive healing and the Yin Body, how it drained Yang energy to fuel itself.
As the beast core crumbled away on his stomach and he reached for another, Arthur chose to activate Accelerated Healing. To divert that river of abundance into the technique, to watch as it reacted to him. All the while pulling Yin chi from the new core, allowing his healing technique to make full use of the Yang energy that came flooding in from the beast core.
At first, there were bumps. Cultivating and healing at the same time were at odds with one another. The pull of energy from the core to his hands interrupted the flow of energy outwards from his dantian to the body. The pair battled, causing blisters and jolts of pain to erupt along his body.
Yet, he persisted. Knowing there had to be a way.
It worked passively. It should be able to work actively.
Struggling through the pain, Arthur focused on what he recalled of the passive healing. He moved the energy around, shifting the flow from the core to only specific channels. At the same time, he shifted the healing energy to other channels. Creating lanes of energy flow, like redirecting cars on a highway.
The process was painful and required his full concentration, which was nearly impossible as surges in the energy flow from the core and from his dantian caused new moments of agony. He had to split his mind, to handle both processes at the same time, and here his Multi-tasking Mind trait aided him. The ability to balance both flows was easier than he had expected, probably because he had, inadvertently, planned for it.
Pain or not, occasional failure or not, he struggled on. He kept channeling the energy into various parts of the body, until he achieved a tentative, excruciating balance. It was not perfect and he had to focus on it entirely, but the energy was flowing correctly. He was healing, rapidly, while also storing more and more Yin energy in his body.
As a bonus, the reduced outflow of Yang energy into his extremities meant that the overburdened organs, skin, and bones were able to make better use of the Yang energy he had shoved into them. He felt his body grow denser, more energy-fueled even as he continued the process.
Of course, he had no idea what all that meant for him when he exited the current cultivation process, but he was kind of looking forward to it. For a short period, he had everything that he wanted and needed. A perfect balance of core energy, healing energy, and Yin storage.
Then, of course, the core burned out. And the balance was thrown off.