From Principles of Chi Refining
The refining of chi is the basis of cultivation. The limit to the amount of energy one can hold is defined at birth. Thus the only change that can be made is to the purity of the energy one contains. When one has purified one’s energy to the utmost and is still unable to progress to the next level, this person has reached the limit of their cultivation and will be unable to advance further.
Chi is refined from baser forms of energy, namely the four elements and six aspects of mana. There have been claims that more types of energy exist, however - to date, none of these have been proven reliably.
To ascend from one realm to the next one must have not only sufficient capacity but also sufficient purity. Lacking either will result in death upon arrival to the next realm. Death due to lack of capacity will take the form of immolation, where the body is burned from the inside out by the intensity of energies it is unable to contain. Death caused by insufficient purity will result in the energies running rampant beyond the control of the individual; which will destroy the body’s organs and tissues. One afflicted by this condition will quickly lose consciousness and, over the course of several moments, their entire person will take on the appearance of a bruise; after which, blood will leak from their orifices, including the pores, and they will expire.
Within the higher realms, chi is the most basic form of energy, and the refining of mana into chi is unnecessary. From these realms, only the purification of chi is required to advance. Middle realms possess mana of decreasing densities, while the lower realms may be formed of between three to merely a single element of mana. At the time of this writing, the author is unaware of any realm built by an aspect of mana. It seems elemental mana is the lowest form of energy required to establish a realm.
Elementals, beings formed of a single element of mana, can be quite powerful, in relative terms, prior to reaching the higher realms. However, only one instance has been recorded of an elemental surviving ascendance to a high realm, with most peaking within the middle realms where they maintain access to the primordial energy of their birth.
Based on reports received from those few who have ascended to the primary realms and have also maintained contact with the secondary realms of which this author is a resident, there is a transcendent energy which is required to ascend to the plane of planes: that plane which connects the others to each other, the celestial plane.
The ascension to this plane is legendary among those of the primary realms, mythical to those of the secondary realms, and inconceivable to those of the tertiary realms. Even the most astute of the quaternary realms is unlikely to even hear of the possibility of this plane.
It is ironic then, is it not, that our entire understanding of the multiverse is based upon the theory of this celestial plane’s existence? The plane to which all others connect. The plane from which one may journey to any other. Without this plane, our understanding fails utterly.
Joel was not quite sure what to make of what was happening in front of him. A simple request for a basic demonstration had resulted in a hike back to the box truck, which had at least finally relieved his curiosity as to why Mitch was driving one in the first place, followed by a less comfortable hike back down hauling several large bags of salt. Now, a portion of the salt had been loaded into a bucket which the perpetrator of this entire travesty was dragging around, occasionally digging salt from within which was being used to draw some incomprehensible squiggles.
Despite his own internal doubts, Mitch’s laser-guided focus and the extreme care that was going into the process was sufficiently convincing that he chose not to interrupt the man.
After several long minutes more the sounds of hands being brushed clean against each other snapped Joel’s mind back from where it had wandered off.
“Yes. This isn’t what I normally do, but it should work better for a demonstration.”
“What is it?” What had begun as squiggles was now a nearly perfect circle, at least to the naked eye, with several sinusoid lines entering and exiting it all of which were attached to arcs of various sizes. The circle itself was about a foot across, and the lines barely had enough room to remain separated. The lines extended several feet away from the circle and if the points of the crescent were connected that chord would have been around five feet long.
“It’ll be easier if you just watch.” With that, Mitch knelt and touched the terminus of the closest crescent.
A sound reminiscent of nothing so much as a bass string being plucked emitted from the circle. It was not loud, but it was pervasive. The noise died quickly but as soon as it did the lines began to glow slightly. Over the next few seconds, the glow intensified until it was easily visible against the dusk light. Suddenly Joel felt a sensation that could only be described as a strong wind at his back; just it couldn’t be this because there was no wind. When that sensation transcended the feeling of wind at the back and instead began to resemble gravity, Joel started to back away.
“Is this normal?” he said, somewhat too loudly, as though shouting against the nonexistent wind.
“I don’t know.” The calm in the man’s voice was infuriating.
“You don’t know? Isn’t this your thing?”
“I’ve never been on the outside of one of these.”
“You go inside of this?”
“Well not one exactly like this, but yeah.”
“So you can shut it down then right?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Is there anything you do know?”
“This is going to be interesting!”
Joel turned his eyes back to the circle at the center of all of this bruhaha just in time to see something suddenly cascade through it from the very center to the edge. It was like watching supercooled water freeze after a shock, and it took barely a moment for to fill what turned out to be a dome. It was a shimmering light that looked exactly like-
“Is that belmist?” Joel asked in a tone halfway caught between awe and dread.
“One word. Belmist, you know, the mist that comes at the Tollings.”
“I’ve never heard that before.”
“Have you been living under a rock man?”
“Something like that.”
“That stuff is supposed to be toxic.”
“Yeah, I mean that’s what the scientists on the news are saying.”
“First, never listen to the scientists they bring on TV. They’re generally the most charismatic dunces science has to offer, who can’t make a living actually doing science. Second, if these scientists had spent a little less time laudatorily daisy chaining themselves they would have realized that it’s more like…” he paused as he searched for the words “contact radiation. It doesn’t emit, but if you touch it and your cells can’t handle it, they start to explode.”
“The Historian’s books called it immolation.”
“That’s a good word.”
“So what do we do?”
“We wait to see what happens.”
The circle was now so thick with belmist that you couldn’t tell that it wasn’t solid.
“Should we maybe do that from a bit farther away?”
Mitch looked surprised for a moment.
“That’s not a bad idea.”
The backed up a few dozen yards and waited. And waited. But then… they waited. Just as they were both ready to admit defeat and look for other options for deactivating the formation there was a loud pop followed by some hissing and belmist could be seen shooting from the side of the dome at an upward angle like some sort of lopsided geyser. It faded quickly and then all was silent.
The majority of the escaped belmist was wafting across the water of the lake, so they headed in to look at what had happened. The salt had all fused, and even some of the rock beneath it was heated nearly to the point of melting, as evidenced by a pronounced orange glow.
As Joel circled around, he noticed a crack in the salt accompanied by a blackened strip of rock extending from it.
“I think this is where it broke.”
Mitch circled around to look at what Joel was seeing.
“Definitely.” The scorch mark extended from the outside circumference of the circle at an odd angle, and they knew from what they had seen that there had been an upward angle to the plume of belmist from earlier.
As they were looking, Joel happened to notice something out of place near the center of the circle. It was a small sphere, about the size of the fingernail on his little finger. It looked very much like the mist had actually been made into a solid.
“Mitch, what’s this?”
“I have no idea.”
- Indiana, USA
Bio: I've been a reader since I can remember. I remember reading late into the night using just the light I could get from cracking my bedroom door to the hallway, much to my parents frustration I'm sure. Animorphs, Where the Red Fern Grows, Call of the Wild, Ender's Game, Dune, The Wheel of Time and many more than I can name here all defined my childhood. To a certain point I remember the stories from the books I read better than my actual youth. Recently I felt a strong desire to write something. To pour out a bit of what I have built up over the years. I had always had a kind of formless "one day" kind of desire to write, but this was different: persistent. Thus is born my first fiction, Rescendence, begun some random weekday night when an extra nightcap gave me the courage to finally put fingers to keys and see what happened. This is my first serious attempt at writing anything, and is proving more exciting and more difficult than I anticipated. I hope that through it all I can give you, dear reader, something that you enjoy and can look forward to.