Serialized Science Fiction.

Strange Origins
Tom Haynes

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and, well, well I can't seem to either absorb any Spiritual Essence into my Dantian. I've tried to connect to my Linking Meridians, but no luck."

Hung wondered how the man knew how to ingest Spiritual Essence, but not much more about cultivating. But it was a major faux pas to ask. "Wait, why are you trying to link your Meridians? That is a waste of time, once you pass the Martial Master, those have little use."

"Just a minute...," he sighed and went off to his office. He brought back a Spiritual Crystal Ball, one pretty much like the one fortune tellers use in all of the movies. "In this continent, there are pretty much only two Realms, the Consolidated and Ascended. Your goal right now is to firmly step into the Consolidated Realm, make your body realize its full potential."

"There are many ways to measure potential, but we focus on the potential to exceed the Ascended Realm, to enter the Xiantian Realm. Clans and Sects will give more resources to individuals they believe can reach this potential."

Arthur gained some enlightenment, "So you are saying that either I am in a bottleneck or I have exhausted my potential? Perhaps I started too late in life?"

At that point, Hung lifted up the ball, "Either pour Yuan Qi from your body or Spiritual Qi from your Dantian into the ball."

When Arthur grabbed the ball, "Yuan Qi? Oh, my innate Qi. I don't know how to activate it. And I can't get Spiritual Qi into or out of my Dantian." Nonetheless, he tried pouring Qi out of his Dantian and into the ball.

When that didn't happen, he took in some Spiritual Essence, cycled it through his Dantian, and then fed it into the ball. And it was still difficult. He had an easy time breathing in the Spiritual Essence, even without being able to form mutras, but the movement of the resulting Spiritual Qi was very troublesome.

The Spiritual Crystal Ball dimly lit up. He didn't need Tang's frown to let him know how sad was that light.

He described that to Tang Hung and asked, "I can get the Spiritual Essence into the Dantian, but it won't stick."

And at that time, he saw Hung grin, "Ah, you know, your current level is called Martial Refinement. It is all about learning how to make the Spiritual Energy you absorb become yours and not the World's. Your Dantian does not defy the Heaven and Earth, but your stealing of Spiritual Energy does."

He went on, "So when you absorb Spiritual Energy, you can't store it in your Dantian until you make it yours, until you refine it. That is the very definition of refinement. Later, if you get a spiritual item, you establish ownership in very much the same way."

Arthur thought of this for a bit, "Okay, but how do I make it mine? Frankly, my cultivation method doesn't talk about this act."

He heard a laugh from Hung, "Yes, yes, this is such a basic concept that all children learn almost at the same time they learn to walk. You have to take your Yuan Qi and infuse it into your Dantian. Then when you pull the Spiritual Essence into your Dantian, you cycle it through the Yuan Qi. The mixture of the two will form Spiritual Qi."

Arthur became excited at first, but then fell back down, "But I can't

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