Waking was pain, waking was discomfort. A branch dug into one side of his stomach, making Arthur roll over with a groan and whimper. The impediment hurt, his body ached all over, and worse of all he could feel how his body was reacting to the numerous injuries. Too hot, he was too hot.
“I’m running a fever, it’ll be pretty severe . . .” Arthur pulled at his pouch, extracting a crystal that he had risked his life to get. At first he considered trying to cross his legs to cultivate and then gave up on it. You could cultivate in any position, but it just wasn’t as efficient as sitting upright and cross-legged.
Then again, there were rumors of yogis who put themselves into pretzels and did marvellous things with crystals. Something about guiding the flow of energy through chakras and breaking through blockages.
He had done some basic research into it on the Internet, but with most things, either the secrets were locked under five-easy-to-make payment plans or just untrustworthy as sources. In the end, he was discouraged by the secrecy of it all, that people didn't seem willing to share their knowledge. Add the fact that each individual was unique, and there probably wasn't an approach that worked with everyone. He’d given up on learning the truth of the matter after a few fruitless weeks of searching.
Now, eyes closed, hands gripping the crystal, Arthur could not help but wish he had spent more time on that research. Maybe he might have been able to do something more than just draw on the core in his hands, ever so slowly.
Create a suction force in one’s hands to drag the energy out of the stubborn core, pull it through your meridians, and into your upper dantian. Then, push it through your body again to the middle and then lower dantian, each process cleansing the core of the Tower’s influence and making it your own.
This was the most basic method of cultivating, one that almost every cultivator had stumbled upon after entering the Tower. Some believed the Tower imprinted that information on human minds, others that it was as natural a process of life in the Tower.
It didn’t matter for Arthur so long as it worked.
But pull as he might, he could feel pain that threatened to tear his concentration aside, the heat in his head and the fogginess in his mind.
Almost instinctively, he pushed some of the energy into the parts of his body that still ached. It made the pain worse, though at the same time, Arthur felt a greater connection to those areas. He felt the flow of chi enter his wounds, his cells soaking up the additional energy as damaged cells were destroyed and replaced with new ones. Scabs slowly detached, as the platelets and cells holding them to the wound were eaten and replaced by new, undamaged cells.
A small portion of Arthur’s mind, the one not focusing on pulling energy into his body, watched the process all across his body. He could feel the way he exuded and dumped the created waste, the way his body hungered for nutrition which came from the Tower and his own body itself. He felt his body growing even warmer; metabolism sped up even further as infection was fought off while his own body worked overtime to convert sugar and fat to energy.
Yet, for all that, it was the Tower energy that supported the majority of his body, that allowed it to heal at the speed. And while force-feeding his wounds with energy did not seem to be the most efficient method, Arthur could not help but notice how the body stole energy from different points of flow to aid itself.
Testing, carefully, he shifted his flow. Sending energy when it was not fully cleared but when it had passed his upper or middle dantian at different periods to the wounds. He had so many wounds to experiment on—old and new, bruising, cracked ribs, split open, bleeding cuts and gashes, internal bleeding, weeping infections and more.
Energy was good, but specific energy taken at different times seemed to work better for each type of injury. Given time, given a refined energy source rather than the raw energy of the Tower, Arthur realised that he could speed up healing—so long as he was careful.
More than once, flashes of pain ripped through him as he sent refined energy the wrong way. Or the wrong time, flooding a wound that was not ready for the flow. Yet, he persevered, testing and pulling, extracting energy from new cores when his initial ones were consumed.
Hours passed as Arthur cultivated the refined energy, pulling it into his body. A small portion of each core went into his dantian, the majority being spent on healing his body. As he processed it all, he found himself improving in use of the energy, requiring less of it each core to undertake the same amount.
At some point, the infection disappeared. The pain reduced, his injuries going from critical to just serious. Enough so that Arthur stumbled out of his makeshift tent, leaving it open to air out while he travelled to the water carefully.
Stripping down to his underwear, sword still strapped to his side, he washed himself as best he could to remove the old blood and gunk across his body. He hissed in pain as the cold water hit wounds, as he scrubbed off dirt, blood, and sweat. Even catching a whiff of his own body had made him want to retch, so doing this was a necessity.
Once he was clean, Arthur stumbled back to his tent and stared at it, debating whether to move it once more. Aired out or not, it still smelled of human for sure. But thinking of carrying his pack, of attempting to leave, made him shake his head in the end.
In turn, he spent a long, laborious hour to properly camouflage his residence before he stumbled within. He supped on one of the travel rations, needing the feel of rice and meat, of crunchy vegetables and succulent meat. A man could survive on Tower energy only, but who would want to?
And then, crossing his legs and propping both staff and sword such that they blocked the entrance, he returned to healing. Yanking energy from monster cores into his own body even as he poured it into his wounds and dantian.
Long days passed, time flowing onwards, till he was mostly healed and Arthur had refined the methods of healing himself as best he could. Then, and only then, did he open his eyes and stare at the notification that had appeared.
Technique Learnt: Accelerated Healing – Refined Energy (Grade I)
Not a complete waste of monster cores then.