Studying the Yin Body cultivation menu was fascinating. It touched upon the idea of the aura, the external chi, environment and chi sensing as almost pre-requisites to making full use of the cultivation tome. It spoke not just about the actual process of cultivating but also the environment, mindset, and physicality required to make the most of a cultivation session. There were also details about the kind of apothecary items that were most beneficial and a much smaller section on useful equipment.
Upon being questioned, Uswah had laughed in Arthur’s face. At first she thought he had made a deliberate joke. Then she laughed again, this time in incredulity that he had not accessed anything more than the most basic cultivation manual.
After she had stopped laughing and he stopped fuming, she had gone on to explain that all true cultivation manuals delved into such topics as a matter of course. She had structured her own treatise—along with the information she had already acquired—in a similar manner.
What she provided him, in her view, was but the most bare of minimums.
For Arthur, though, it was a feast of enormous proportions that he consumed, deliberately and carefully. Savouring and tasting each morsel of information, intent on making full use of it. He read, he memorised, he practised, and he tested.
And then, to make good on his deal, he related his own observations to Uswah. At times, she would just nod; other times she would correct a misconception. Only occasionally, when Arthur mentioned one peculiarity or another, would she grow silent.
He soon realised that on those nights, Uswah wasn’t on guard duty, instead always taking the time off to cultivate. And night was, as he had realised, the best time to cultivate. In the darkness, under the moon, drawing forth the cold energy of the Yin side was easiest.
So much so that he found his cultivation speed had increased significantly. Even though he had not learned it fully, still allowing Yang chi to slip in, he found that he was nearly back to his “normal” cultivation level in the dead of the night.
What was even more useful for Arthur was the other portion of the manual, the method to remove and convert Yang chi into Yin chi. More than once, he would stop amidst his nightly cultivation to process the built-up Yang chi, reducing the growing pain in his body to manageable levels.
It was also during this process, as he focused deeply within, that he saw the churning Yang chi slip into his body, hiding and becoming part of it. After the fifth night of watching how it shifted and hid, he found himself making his way to Uswah.
“Yang chi or Yin chi, the energy – its within and outside of our body, isn’t it?” Arthur said. “It’s not that we have a Yin Body and it’s just Yin. Yin is just what we do best with,” Arthur said without preamble.
“Right. If we had only one type of chi, we’d be dead and unmoving. Entirely inert with Yin, Even with fire of Yang, well, fires still die,” she said. “And even then, fires fade and die, corpses rot and change.”
“So a Yin Body just means we accept Yin into us better, but not only Yin. The minor traces of Yang energy we draw in helps power us, too.”
“Saya dah kata, kan?” Uswah said, exasperated they were still on this topic.
“Sorry, I just needed to confirm that. But I just don’t get it. Why make us, allow us, to grow like this?”
Uswah shrugged at that. “Ask the Tower. Maybe it’ll answer.”
“You’re quoting memes at me?” Arthur said, incensed.
Uswah smiled enigmatically and then sped up, leaving him behind and grumpy. Still, he had his answer. Crossing his arms, he sighed and went back to reading. He wished he could cultivate while moving but if there was a method to that, no one had found it.
Or if they did, they had kept that method secret. Which was not surprising. Moving cultivation would be a huge advantage for anyone who figured it out.
Nearly half a day later, Arthur finally gave up. He placed the scroll aside, having drained for now any and all understanding and knowledge he could have from it. He was certain that, eventually, he might learn more after practice, studying it further, and most of all, giving it time.
Rubbing at the bridge of his nose, he looked around, searching for something better to do. Unfortunately, his usual mode of entertainment—verbal sparring with Jan—was out scouting. A half hour of wandering through the woods, following behind the group, watching them take care of any and all monsters and snatching up herbs from the ground left him bored.
He might be safe in the midst of the large group, but he was also bereft of any chance to acquire monster cores or pick at the herbs necessary for his gathering quests. Which left him:
“Bored. Bored. Bored. I’m bored of being boring, and when I’m bored of being boring, I’m liable to do some rhyming.”
“That’s not a rhyme,” Sharmila commented. She was never too far away.
“It’s not that easy, you know, coming up with rhymes on the fly. If it were, rappers would not die.”
“I could kill you. No one would need to know.”
“But then who’d show you the way?”
“You’ve not been doing much guiding, now have you?”
Arthur could not help but shrug in acknowledgment. They had not actually been taking the way he had returned, instead cutting a more direct path to their target, which left him mostly useless beyond a nightly verification via map that they were on the right path.
In another week or two, of course, that would change. It would depend on the kind of dangers they would face, but thus far, they were close enough to the newbie village that they had yet to deal with powerful or a large number of monsters. Even the largest babi ngepet herd was easily dealt with by a group as experienced as theirs.
“Whatever.” Arthur let out a long sigh. “I’m still bored. At least let me fight a bit. I’m going to get rusty if I don’t.”
“You can train when we stop at night,” Sharmila said mercilessly.
“I need to cultivate then. Got to actually get good at this kind of cultivating.”
“Not my problem.”
“Bored, bored, bored. When we’re bored, we make up lore! Did you know, that a kuching hitam once ate Ah Ang!”
Sharmila swung her fist, forcing him to duck. A second later, she growled, “Go practise a fighting technique! You have a few, don’t you?”
“Okay! I can do that. Just, make sure to be gentle when you carry me, okay?” Grinning, Arthur flooded his body with chi, directing it through his meridians. Heavenly Sage’s Mischief would give him a boost in strength for a bit, but once it was over, he was going to be exhausted.
Ignoring the increasingly strident demands for him to explain what was going on, Arthur hopped ahead to the front of the group. Maybe, if he stayed at the front, he would have a chance to attack the monsters before the rest of the group.
Sometimes, being annoying and silly had its uses.