Serialized Science Fiction.

Strange Origins
Tom Haynes

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The Duck had enough, "Qian Arthur it is!" (Bonus points are awarded for recognizing Arthur Tien Chin!)

The pond, The Duck, his body, the entire void started to fade away as gentle blue flames swept over everything. Out of the void, The Duck passed over the most important advice, "You must develop a firm conviction in order to have a chance of adventure!"

Chapter 2: A Grand New Beginning, or some glade in a creepy forest

Arthur opened his eyes, he was laying next to a pond, in a glade, and outside of a forest. He didn't even wonder why he thought of himself as Arthur and not Jack. The sun was shining into his eyes, it was early morning.

He couldn't sense anything and he thought The Duck wouldn't plop him down in danger. So the first order of business was to learn how to cultivate. He closed his eyes and started to read the jade slip. "Whoops," as his eyes popped back open. He gazed at the pond, watching the wind ripple the water into small waves. He had always found solace in the waves.

As he skimmed over the first level of the Comprehensive Transmission of Auric Ether method, he first determined he would have to open up his Dantian. Without that, he would not be able to absorb Qi from the Ether. But it looked like he couldn't do that without some Qi to kick start the whole process - it was a chicken or egg quandary.

Oh, that was right, the 100 year old dreamy glistening cactus could also open up his Dantian. The process of preparing the cactus was presented in great detail. He either had to wait for noon or midnight, evidently the time he picked was a major influence as to whether he would go down a Yin spiritual or a Yang physical path. Hmm, wait, he could go down both if he read the slip correctly.

Arthur wanted to do it all. After he studied opening the Dantian, he saw the next step was to connect his Yin and Yang meridians. Each path had different specific steps, but the root of it all was gathering enough Qi from the Ether.

He had plenty of time to prepare for even the noon ceremony, so he decide to see if he could understand the next level of his cultivation method. Hmm, he would have to waken his martial spirit via a spirit walk. It looked like he could simplify that whole experience with some 1000 year old dreamy glistening cactus.

As he examined the differences between the 100 and 1000 year old variants, he became excited. He opened the backpack and looked inside the cold jade box. When he had studied the cactus in the void, it was pretty dead seeming, but now, now, it was alive and glowing. Also, a spicy fragrance, not a sweet fragrance, wafted up. It was a 1000 year old dreamy glistening cactus!

Speaking of quandaries, he was pretty sure using this cactus would be a waste. He had no idea if he would get extra power from it, but it seemed he was just opening his Dantian and not storing power. But then again, unlike most mortals, he did not have someone available to pour Qi into him to awaken him into the cultivation world.

As he pondered his predicament, a wild thought popped up - what if The Duck hadn't made a mistake in the void? What if this was a test? This could be a golden chance to advance later in his Spiritual Walk. He just needed to find the loop hole The Duck must have arranged.

He scoured through the jade slip - he didn't understand all of the terms and concepts for the later phases of the method, but when he came to

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