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A note from KrazeKode

Edited on 13 Jan 2023

Streams of energy filled Zhang’s spirit. Like water flowing through a dry creek after years of drought, bringing fresh life with it. Qi flooded Zhang’s meridians, rising within his meridian with increasing intensity. It was a surge, like he’d swallowed a bolt of lightning, and now it begged to be let out in a fiery burst.

Then he felt a hand, pressing his. Someone spoke something, but the words were distant to his mind. Nonetheless, he understood his task. He focused, taking hold of the swirling torrent and Qi, and began to cycle it within his Dantian. As the Qi flowed, his mind began to sink into his spirit.

A voice reached into Zhang’s spirit, like the chime of a bell ringing in the wind, it echoed and tinkled.

“Pain? Hurt?”

The words were not in any form Zhang understood. In fact, he hesitated to even call them words. Yet their meaning was clear to him, as clear as any tongue he’d ever spoken.

“It… doesn’t,” Zhang replied, taking a moment to assess his body. His spirit felt as if it was floating in an unending void, untethered and detached from everything. But not every tie was broken. Around the ring was a tree, bound in vines and tendrils that connected him to something he’d long since lost touch with.

The ring blazed in his sight now, a glowing circle of light nested in the branches of a sprawling tree, like a mother hugging her young child protectively. He felt secure.

“Here. Come here,” the voice beckoned him. Zhang looked around, trying to find where it where it might be coming from.

A chiming voice rang once more, calling him. Hesitantly, Zhang began to move towards the sprawling tree. Stepping closer, he saw the little silver lily bobbing through the darkness happily.

Her palm was set upon the vast tree, cradling his spirit’s core within it, as the roots held the cracking fraying edges of his broken dantian together.

“This was done by you?” Zhang asked, baffled.

“Yes! Did it! Happy!” The lilly replied, jumping once more, as the tree shuddered around her. Then, as if remembering a task, she paused. “But cannot hold. Must bond.”

Waddling up to Zhang, the little spirit extended a hand. Zhang stared at her for a moment, before he scooped the spirit up in his palms.

“Form! Bond!” the lily exclaimed.

“Did you not already have one?” Zhang asked, and the little spirit shook her head.

“Not yet. Must form. Now,” the lily said.

Nodding, Zhang let his spirit reach towards the lilly.

Qi swirled around, from all around him, and into the little lily, the darkness shuddered, shifting, as a new anchor was formed within his spirit, and he sensed the little flower’s spirit tied with his own.

The spirit lily put a hand to her mouth as if in thought, before she nodded.

“What should I call you?”

“Silverlight!” the lily exclaimed.

The word felt strange, different, not something he understood, but the meaning underneath was clear.

“Shi… Lua?,” Zhang asked and the little spirit frowned, before nodding.

"Alright, Shi Lua it is," he said, placing the silver lily on his shoulder, as he looked around the tree. “What now? Do you know how to go back?”

“Open eyes! Wake up and we will be back!” Silverlight exclaimed.

Zhang frowned. A moment later, he focused on his spirit, commanding it to open its eyes.

Nothing changed, as the darkness stirred around him lazily.

“No! Wrong! Must open other eyes!” Silverlight shouted.

“You aren’t making this very clear, Silverlight,” Zhang said with a frown.

“Other eyes! See! Life! Death! Rebirth! Must see!”

The words only further added to Zhang’s confusion. His gaze drifted across the darkness, mind trying to place together which eyes the silver lilly was referring to.

“Open my eyes. How do I open my eyes?” Zhang murmured. There was a sensation pressing at him, as if he was missing something very obvious.

“Have been blind for a very long. Open your eyes and see!Silverlight said, the words resonating with power. She jumped his shoulder and to his face, grabbing cheeks.

Zhang stared into her silvery beady eyes, watching the swirl of Qi in them, before something clicked.

Closing his eyes, he opened a sense he’d lost for years.

Slowly, lethargically, like a limb grown atrophied from lack of use, his Qi senses blossomed, as the world around him settled into view.

He saw a small plant in front of him. It was a fragile little thing, budding from the void with bright green leaves that fought to make their presence known.

But the moment Zhang looked closer, he felt the world descend upon his shoulder.

A vast tree’s shadow rose behind the sapling. Sprawling and unending as it spread through the world itself, entangled in both life and death, the cycle of rebirth itself.

All living things awakened to Qi had an aura of their spirit. For many it was impossible to measure this aura, the presence of it too insignificant and miniscule to be detected. And at the same time, some creatures had an aura so vast, those of insignificant strength could never comprehend it.

The little sapling was one such thing.

If not for the ties to the spirit directly, Zhang would’ve never been able to grasp the vastness of the aura of the sapling. For a moment, he let his sight spread with the tree’s aura, and he saw his sight spreading over horizons, spanning lands and mountains as the whole world appeared in his sight.

His vision expanded, till the entire continent was one and the same in his vision. And a branch of this sapling, was now within his soul.

Zhang felt his vision collapse. With a flood of Qi, Zhang found his spirit pulled back, as his eyes shot open.

Gasping for air, he reached out, his mind still reeling from the vision as he awakened. Sweat beaded down his arms and foreheads, before he registered the people seated all around him, looking on with various expressions of concern.

“How’re you feeling boy?” the old granny asked.

Zhang tried to reply, but debilitating nausea stopped him. He coughed and hacked, trying to move away before the sensation hit him head on. He rushed to the side, grabbing the bucket near as the contents of his stomach made their way out with rapid fervour.

The sound of gagging filled the chamber, as thick black sludge mixed with red blood made its way out of his guts, in a seemingly endless stream.

“Let it all out boy. Let it all out,” the old granny said, rubbing his back as Zhang retched.

When he’d hurled enough of the gunk, she handed him a wet cloth to wipe himself with, and Zhang soon realised that the gunk was not just inside his gut, but covered his entire body.

“He needs a bath, Probably five. I’ve got the water warmed up in the bathroom. And burn those clothes, the stink doesn’t go away. Trust me, I know from experience,” Lu Jie said, seated nearby.

Zhang felt the world spinning, as he directed his gaze towards Lu Jie. His eyes were red from the retching, yet even so, Zhang felt better than he had ever felt physically.

“What… happened?” He rasped, looking towards Lu Jie.

The boy’s smile extended in a manic grin across his face, sending a shiver down Zhang’s spine.

“I think I just fixed your dantian.”

***

I waited patiently as Zhang went through three rounds of washing, clearing out the filth that covered his body so thoroughly. After having changed into his new clothes and rid himself of the filth, the boy walked into the chamber, standing tall and strong, as he took a seat in front of me.

Silverlight rode on his shoulders, looking oddly fitting at the position and I silently observed the boy.

“Do you remember anything from when you were in your spirit?” I asked Zhang.

“I… do. I saw a vast tree, within which a glowing silver ring was present. And then, Silverlight and I formed a bond and she… told me to see. And I saw, a plant, but it was… vast, so unending. Life, death, everything was a part of the tree’s cycle. And it was connected to me somehow.”

I nodded. I turned to look at Zhang. “There is a lot that needs to be explained. But if I am right, then your cultivation has crumbled apart,” I replied, trying to still soak in everything that had happened.

Zhang sat silently, looking back at me evenly.

“Not surprised?” I asked, surprised by his lack of reaction.

“No. Brother Jie, with no disrespect to your skills. I’d already been prepared for this outcome. You tried your best, and if things didn’t work out, then perhaps the Heavens did not wish for my fate to be changed,” Zhang replied, fists clenched and pressed against his thighs.

“No, you misunderstand Zhang. I did not fail. In fact, I succeeded. Because right now, you are as good as any new cultivator. Not to mention, you don’t cultivate from your Dantian, but through Silverlight, so in some ways, you’re kind of like a spirit herb.”

Zhang stared at me silently, before his gaze shifted to the other members in the room. Labby, Yan Yun, Su Lin, and Granny Lang all sat nearby, watching our talks in silence. “Brother Jie, you really don’t have to do this. Just tell me the truth, I can handle it. Making these tales does not suit you.”

I squinted my eyes, but did not reply.

Zhang’s smile slipped, as the frown on his brows began to deepen. “No, there’s no way. Surely you jest. I’m a… spirit herb now?” Zhang said, as if baffled by the notion. “What am I to do? Eat more spirit herbs to cultivate? Abandon my Path?”

“I doubt it. From what I can see, you’re the same as a normal cultivator, but with a very special core. It’s a unique ability, one that none of us have any idea on how it’s going to develop.”

Zhang sputtered, staring at me silently. “Does that- do you mean to say… I’m cured now?”

“You are, Zhang. We’ll need to see how things go from here, but we can all sense your dantian now. It rests at the cusp of the first realm.”

The silence grew longer in the room, as Zhang simply sat still in place, unmoving for over a long minute.

I was worried that he didn’t hear or misunderstood my words again, but the boy looked up at me, expression held blank. “Can I… please. I’d like to have a moment alone.”

“Brother Zhang—“ Su Lin tried to interrupt, but I stopped him. I could vaguely sense the emotions going through Zhang from our new link.

In silence, I stood up, followed by the rest of the members as we left the room one by one, leaving Zhang to himself.

None of us mentioned the quiet sobs coming from the chamber.

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A note from KrazeKode

 

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About the author

KrazeKode

  • Far away from humans
  • I have a pet turtle. His name is George. George doesn't like you.

Bio: I took up the keyboard.

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