“I did not expect such a lustful child to be so clever… Fine, it would be irritating to keep you around here for so long anyway. Aside from that, I have precious few years to secure my legacy and I do not wish to waste one more moment on your insolence!” She tossed me onto the floor of the crystal cavern and turned towards the door. Then she grumbled “For your services… I shall teach you some basic Druidry. A handmaiden and a palace guard will be in momentarily to deal with you.”
After she left, Xiaotong whimpered and murmured “Levi, I’m scared… It’s so dark and-and what are we going to do? Grandpa Di is gonna be worried about us…”
I snickered, asking “Calm down… Haven’t you noticed something special about this room? Doesn’t the Qi inside of here feel a lot thicker than normal? Not only that, but it’s mostly Natural…”
“You’re right! There’s so much of it! Wow~!” It was a pretty spacious cavern and there were even a bunch of random tunnels that lead off into random directions. Some had steep inclines, while others went downwards, but there were no stairs anywhere. Honestly, there was no way for me to safely leave that central chamber with my strength at the time. That Bitchy Queen Hua wouldn’t have left me there alone if she thought it would be possible for me to escape.
Since I had nothing better to do, I took off my soaking wet clothes and threw them off to the side. Then I sat down in the middle of the floor, started my breathing technique and noticed that my Dantian was expanding at an extremely quick pace.
Within what was probably an hour or so, I heard Xiaotong moaning and opened my eyes. On the back of my right hand was a throbbing black cross. If it weren’t for my glowing red irises, I wouldn’t have been able to see it though. Just because I reached the tenth level didn’t necessarily mean that I was at the ‘peak’. I could feel the little ghost in my Dantian swallowing up loads of Qi, so I needed to keep absorbing it as well.
Fortunately, Di had already told me what to do in order to break through about a hundred times before then. The first thing was consolidation. For those who pass the age limit and have no hope of reaching the next Stage, they would keep up their momentum and push forward. It was still possible for me to squeeze in a decent amount of mana, but it would be dangerous and pointless.
Dantians were like rubber balloons. If you tried to fill them up too quickly, they would explode. The main difference was that they were organs and living tissue, which could slowly be expanded and grown to a certain degree. Just like other muscles, they could get stronger over time.
Once a Novice reaches the final level, they need to start compressing their Qi. It was painful, like appendicitis plus menstruation and trying to hold in diarrhea, while doing situps. Basically, if I allowed myself to shit, I would lose all of my cultivation and it would be a total waste. It was also important that I kept eating and drinking up the mana, because no matter how hard I clenched my asshole, there would still be a little leakage. This is all a metaphor by the way, so don’t take it too literally.
I felt really sick, to the point where I thought that I would actually vomit. However, I kept concentrating on my breathing exercise and the pain in my gut. Finally, after what seemed like forever, my Dantian began contracting. The symbol on my right hand changed back into the one that meant nine, but that was supposed to happen, so I wasn’t too worried about it.
A few minutes later, the cross appeared again, even though my Dantian didn’t expand. The next time I shrunk it down, my hand had the character for ‘eight’ on it. Once I made it back to ten again, I had to squeeze the magical testicle in my belly until it felt like it was going to pop. There was nothing pleasurable about having my balls crushed, at least I didn’t enjoy that sort of play. Xiaotong on the other hand, she sounded like she was having an orgasm during each compression.
“Ugh, fuck my life… I thought that once I accidentally castrated myself, I’d never have to experience this kinda agony again! Ow, ow~, does everyone go through this?! There’s no goddamn way a normal eight or nine year old child would be able to put up with this shit!”
The reason why it was so painful was because I was doing it ‘raw’. I mean, in Sects, Clans and even in a normal family, they would be able to buy some Herbs or medicines to numb the area around the Dantian. There would typically be an ‘Elder’ or teacher there to guide the kid through everything.
I was in a cave, alone, without even a bit of food or water. All I could do was keep going and hope that I wouldn’t pass out and lose my cultivation. It was unlikely that I would explode or die, since it was only the Novice Stage, but I had already come way too far to start from the beginning again.
Within my Dantian, I could see the crimson fog getting crushed by the green clouds. It was all still gas, but far thicker and denser than before. At the very center of the dark-red core, there was a translucent human skull. Xiaotong was ‘Evolving’…
At first, her canines became larger and more pronounced, especially the upper ones. Then above and behind both temples, ram-like obsidian horns emerged and grew until they were both pretty long. All of her teeth turned white, followed by the rest of her skull. She was no longer purely a manifestation of Qi and had gained a semi-physical ‘body’. Of course, she was still weak as hell, but she wasn’t meant to be a fighter anyway.
By the time she finished her Evolution, I was entering the final stretch of my own transformation. I screamed “Motherfucking cuntmonkey salad!” and managed to shrink my Dantian down to the size it was before I even started cultivating. Then it was a matter of reaching all the way up to level-ten again and continuing to push forward until my magical testacle swelled up a tiny bit, nearly bursting open.
Crimson lightning shot out of my mouth, eyes, ears, hands, feet and even my belly button. Pretty soon, I was covered by a field of Chaotic electricity, along with a contrasting green aura of Nature. Then I vomited out a tiny demonic-looking skull, which rapidly grew until it was the size of my own head.
When she left my body, the crimson fog at the center of my Dantian seemed to become dormant and the arcs of lightning stopped flying off of me. It all appeared to gather within Xiaotong’s eye sockets and condense inside of her empty cranium. I smiled at her and said “Congratulations, hehehe~, you reached Rank-F.”
She giggled, whispering “Thank you, Levi… You’re finally an Apprentice! But… We’re still trapped in this scary place. Do you have a plan to escape or do you really think that Queen Hua will keep her word about teaching you Druidry and letting you leave?”
I smirked, murmuring “Even if we could leave, I’d die before making it to the surface on my own. I’m way too weak right now… Besides, I’m in no rush to leave. I have ten years to become an Adept, so I can wait for a while if I need to… They won’t kill me and if the worse situation happens, you could probably escape through one of these tunnels and find Di. I won’t use my Dao Protector thingy unless I have no choice. For now though, there’s one thing that they can take from me… I guess it’s finally time to perform that special technique, huh?”
“The super-secret ritual?! Are you sure? You can only do that once though… And, and if you pick someone like me, you would be wasting a once in a lifetime chance!” Hearing that, I couldn’t help but sigh.
She wasn’t quite as childish or naive as I had thought she was. I reached out with both hands and gently caressed her shiny white skull, then told her “In a world like this one… Don’t you think that trying to use your virginity to make yourself stronger would have major drawbacks? There’s definitely some kinda tricks involved. I’m gonna take a wild guess and assume that you haven’t popped your magical cherry yet either, since… Well, you’re a ghost and just a skull. I honestly can’t guarantee that this will even work. I’m kinda hoping that it’s the type of thing where the thought counts more than anything else, hehehe~.”
Xiaotong was quiet for an entire minute, before she finally nodded and whispered “Okay, I’ll try… But don’t complain if it doesn’t feel good.”