Serialized Science Fiction.

Strange Origins
Tom Haynes

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Arthur was puzzled, "What do you mean these ones?"

Peter smiled, "They pay a silver a month for lessons, but unless they get very lucky, they will never develop a Dantian. Master Hung would rather have them focus on fundamentals than fight. If they get decent fundamentals, they can join the City Guard or perform well if called up to the County Militia."

Arthur had a last question, which was very important to him, "Does Master Hung have a class which will develop Dantians?"

Peter's grin dropped, "No, not anymore. You need to ask Master these questions now." He turned and started cleaning up the dojo.

The next three months were filled with many similar scenes. Arthur was able to draw in Virtual Essence every night, but he struggled connecting it to his Dantian and Meridians. During the day, he worked odd jobs in the city and attended classes. He would put in extra effort every evening, so he quickly advanced through both classes and belts.

When he got to the 12 year olds, Tang Hung approached him. "Arthur, the Devil Dog Martial Arts Studio can do no more for you."

Arthur developed a serious mien, "Master Hung, what do you mean? Have I done something wrong?"

Hung kept his gaze steady, "No, the issue is that you need to start sparing and I can't have you fighting normal humans, let alone kids."

Arthur felt like now was the time to get some answers, "I understand the kids, but what do you mean, normal humans?"

Hung laughed, "It is very clear you have opened your Dantian - very easy to see it in how smooth and forceful your strikes are in practice. You would have an unfair advantage."

Arthur was stunned, "Really, I feel like I am struggling a lot and opening my Dantian has done nothing."

Hung finally realized that Arthur was clueless about the cultivating world. He remembered all of the times he got very simple questions asked, as if it were a little child's first exposure to civilization. Due to his always working with children, he found it natural.

"Qian Arthur, I did not know you before the opening of your Dantian, but can you not see the changes? How old are you?"

Arthur decided to be honest about everything but the jade box, The Duck, and the jade slip lodged in his sea of consciousness. "I think I had my 55th birthday last month."

Hung tsked, "You look like you are in your late 30s. If you had opened your Dantian as a child, you would probably look like a 20 year old. Have you not noticed your strength increase? You should be able to lift twice as much as a normal human."

Arthur could not meet his eyes at that point, "Tang Hung, before my Dantian opened, I had half the strength of a normal human - I had been very sickly. And since the change, I've never compared myself to an adult."

Hung looked him in the eyes, "It is pretty easy to see you have opened you Dantian. I haven't felt you advance a layer, you are an Early Stage Martial Refiner. Have you exhausted your potential?"

Arthur shrugged helplessly, "I don't know how to measure potential

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