It happened during our twenty third year together, when she managed to condense her first Qi Core. That night had a bright and beautiful full Moon in the clear, star-filled sky. We were meditating on the beach when she finally broke through.
There was a blinding blue radiance that enveloped her entire body and a blast of icy Yin Qi erupted from the crescent tattoo between her breasts. Her strength was only about five or so ‘Bears’, but there was more to cultivation than simple physical prowess.
I was hit with some sort of innate magical sealing spell that she accidentally cast. Everything within twenty meters from her chest was frozen solid, aside from herself of course.
You see, this is just the kind of stuff that happens sometimes when you’re a cultivator. One moment you’re having a normal day or night of meditation, and the next, you accidentally flash-freeze the only person you’ve ever known and cared about.
As far as she could tell, I was totally dead. I mean, it’s not like she had any sort of medical knowledge or experience with that sort of thing. She did drag my frozen ‘corpse’ into our extremely hot obsidian cave, in an attempt to defrost me, but that obviously didn’t work. It was a ‘divine’ ability after all, so it couldn’t be fixed so easily.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: If I was a popsicle, then how could I possibly know what happened during the time I was stuck in the ice-tomb? Well, Yue obviously told me about what happened eventually, but there was also another reason.
Essentially, even though I was still in my first Qi Strengthening and extremely far away from condensing a Core, my body and soul was relatively old at that point. My daughter was a pretty good example; only twenty three and she already had a Qi Core in her heart.
Now, I didn’t really explain this clearly yet, because it seemed kind of obvious… Typically, people will learn a cultivation method and when they condense their mana or Qi into a tiny spherical crystal-ball, they will choose where to place it.
The most common, ‘safest’ and fastest practice was to start with the area around the navel. Under normal circumstances, it would be inside of the body, but I’ve seen some techniques that required it to be outside: replacing the bellybutton scar tissue, assuming that they even have that anymore.
It was less dangerous because the cultivator’s soul usually wouldn’t be ready for ‘Strengthening’ quite yet. The main benefit of a ‘Lower Dantian’ Core, was that it improved Qi absorption speed dramatically and was relatively far away from the most ‘vital’ organs in the human body.
After all, if someone wanted to cripple and not kill you, they would merely need to impale your gut. There was also the fact that if something went wrong, the Core could explode if you messed up in your training.
Once a cultivator has sufficient experience, they would typically go for the Middle Dantian next. That was basically between the two lungs and next to or inside of the heart. Like I said before, some people had weird Qi manipulation methods that required the person to place it outside of the body.
I’ve seen some who would amputate one or both of their nipples and condense tiny crystalline beads in their place. They did the same thing to other organs as well… Anyway, the point is that the world of cultivation wasn’t limited to a specific orthodox method that everyone had to follow.
The main benefit of the middle dantian Core was a massive improvement in overall endurance or stamina. It didn’t necessarily make ‘Strengthening’ easier or faster, but it allowed a person to cultivate or battle for longer periods of time without getting tired.
The third Qi Core that people created was usually in the Upper Dantian; that was ‘usually’ inside of the brain. Sometimes it was considered between the eyebrows though, or the center of the forehead. This is when most cultivators finally begin fortifying their soul… With average talent, humans could reach that point within a hundred years or so.
In other words, since I didn’t really have a manual to work off of and my method was a bit eccentric, my soul had already reached the first rank of Strengthening. That meant I had unlocked the ability to astral project. I could literally follow my daughter around and watch over her; but since her perception wasn’t strong enough, she didn’t even know I was there.
Yue, after mourning my apparent ‘death’ for an entire month, began furiously training. Risking her life almost every day, fighting magical beasts that were stronger than herself and decorating my statue with trinkets or ornaments that she created from their carcasses.
It was pretty depressing, but at least once a week, she would spend several hours just talking to my frozen body. A year passed and she had finished her second Qi Strengthening; at that point, her icy aura had actually managed to cool down the entire volcanic cavern that we called home.
With around twenty-six hundred ‘Bears’ of power, she was about rank two of the Green Realm. At that stage, she had gotten to the point where she could challenge the ‘Jungle Lords’.
These were magical-beasts who had each ruled over an entire mountain on Tiger-Paw Island. The first was a relatively small panther with yellow fur, she didn’t have a name or anything though. In the stories, I think they usually called her the ‘Golden Queen’; they also say that the ‘Ice Empress’ slaughtered her way through thousands of ferocious monsters, but she actually just casually walked over there. Once you get to a certain point, somewhat intelligent creatures will avoid you.
After reaching the entrance to an excessively large den, made entirely out of gigantic animal bones, Yue shouted “Come out and face me!” It sounded more like a high-pitched cat’s meow, but you get the point.
The beast lazily crawled out of the tiny hole in the ground that she slept in and complained “Nyah~, the sun’s still up~, come back at nighttime~, I’m tired~…”
My daughter growled “Fine!” and literally went home. Yeah, well, she wasn’t really in her best condition during the day either, so it wasn’t an unreasonable request. Besides that, the ‘Golden Queen’ lived like a hundred meters away from us; it wasn’t a very big island.
Anyway, once she finished meditating, Yue traveled up the mountainside again and confronted the ferocious beast. Their battle started with a friendly greeting, the typical meowing, hissing, and eventually the cat-fight ensued.
The yellow panther was at least a century old and had a huge advantage when it came to experience, but she wasn’t much stronger than the naked human girl. Rather than close combat, the two of them kept their distance and released magical attacks the entire time.
Goldie roared and shot a beam of yellow lightning from her mouth, which immediately struck a mirror-like ice-armor that was covering Yue’s entire body. She copied the scales of an adorable pangolin that lived in our yard, so she was incredibly well protected.
Since the cat’s attacks were all based on electricity, my daughter was able to resist them pretty easily. There was also a ‘heat’ element as well, but she had been ‘trained’ from infancy in order to resist against Fire and Light…
With a wave of Yue’s left hand, a huge bladed disk of ice appeared and was flung outwards. It crashed into one of the giant rib-bones that were jutting up into the sky, and slowly sawed it in half. As the colossal pillar was falling downwards, she created hundreds of needles and sent them flying at the agile beast.
I know that the legends talk about how the Ice Empress eventually went into close combat and used her bare hands to tear out the Golden Queen’s heart, while freezing the entire mountain solid. Yeah, that didn’t happen; it was more like a sparring match than a fight to the death.
After the two of them were tired out, my daughter came home and meditated on the insights she gained from the battle. However, the first thing she did after entering the chilly cave was to dispel her broken and tattered scale-like armor. Then she walked over to my frozen ‘corpse’ and wrapped her arms around my waist; I was stuck there in a blocking position, so she couldn’t really hug me normally. After crying for half an hour, she finally wiped her tears away and sat down cross-legged by my feet.
The road of cultivation is a long and arduous path, even for the greatest of geniuses. It’s kind of funny, but if it wasn’t for the fact that Yue kept training in such close proximity to me, the effect of that divine sealing technique would have naturally dissipated. Still, it was probably better that things turned out the way they did…