Cultivators had a strong spirit, incomparable to ordinary mortals, providing a much higher resistance to any potential shock or post-traumatic symptoms. Han Lingyun had largely recovered from his experiences when he was greeted by Shen Lin as he came back to his house.
Comparing the current him to an average 11 year old had lost all meaning.
"Brother Lingyun, how have you been?"
"Hi brother Lin, I'm doing fine. Are you here for some training?"
Shen Lin approached his friend and put his arm around Han Lingyun's shoulders. "But before anything, brother Lingyun, I heard that you took on a duo mission with Wang Yimo? So, tell me, how is the progress going? Hehe."
Han Lingyun shook his head. "I'll have to trouble you brother, that mission wasn't very pleasant."
Shen Lin gave a slightly doubtful look but didn't insist. "Anyway, I wanted to try out waterfall training. Would you like to go together and share the cost?"
Han Lingyun briefly calculated. "Seems interesting, count me in."
It would be the perfect way to catch up with his brother while still making progress. Han Lingyun had been extremely busy the last three months and because his friends weren't as fast to reach qi condensation, he had been seeing them a lot less often.
There was several "Waterfall Arrays" in the training grounds. The mechanics behind one wasn't very complicated: a large water basin was upstream. The array served as a valve that controlled the debit and volume of water for the Waterfall, then a pump that alimented the basin back in water.
In fact, this sort of system could have been engineered just as well without a qi formation but even if that had been the case, there would still be a fee in Ps for its usage, in order to motivate disciples to work for the resources and use these training grounds with the best of their ability.
Han Lingyun and Shen Lin had to place their sect badge on some plaque and 5Ps were collected from both of them.
The two then walked to a stone platform in the middle of a large pond at the bottom of a cliff. On the cliff wall, there was 5 square stones sticking out, each with a corresponding label engraved: Very Soft, Soft, Medium, Hard, Very Hard.
These where levels that described the intensity and power of the waterfall.
Han Lingyun circulated qi in his hand and pressed the Very Soft stone. Water started falling down heavily on the pair. They had to push qi to the surface of their skin to resist the pressure that hammered them to the ground.
"Damn, if that's only the easiest level, it's stronger than I expected!" Shen Lin screamed through the roaring sound of water crashing down.
The two sat down in a lotus position and concentrated on releasing their qi. Han Lingyun had it managed nearly instinctively now. In fact, he soon realized that he didn't have to concentrate much and could just leave the process at the back of his mind.
Shen Lin, on the other hand, had only just reached qi condensation. He manipulated qi with a lot less ease. His qi was less condensed and his dantian held a lower quantity of qi.
So he had to discharge more qi than Han Lingyun to resist the same force and had lower reserves to begin with, effectively meaning that Shen Lin was constantly discharging a percentage of his total reserves 10 to 100 times greater than Han Lingyun.
He had to keep his full concentration as this was nearly as demanding as a full intensity combat.
Meanwhile, Han Lingyun noticed his friends struggle but this level wasn't really training for him. But then, he had an idea to experiment with. Could he manage a 10-minute cultivation cycle in that state? From an outside perspective, cultivating is similar to a deep sleep: the mind continues to exercise the body's automatism like breathing. Then, if he managed to reach the point where he would nearly unconsciously push a little qi to face the water, wouldn't that mean that he could be cultivating as well? And this place felt like a great environment to cultivate: combining a relaxing natural place with the man's struggle against nature's forces. This would complement his mindset very well indeed.
Han Lingyun took deep breaths and pushed the qi resistance the furthest away from his consciousness as he looked inwards to condense his qi, forgetting everything else and darkness enveloped his vision.
Han Lingyun suddenly opened his eyes as alarm bells rang in his mind. He had just unconsciously stopped pushing some qi out and the pressure he felt had suddenly dramatically increased.
Waking up in the middle of a cycle wasn't dangerous for the cultivator, it just meant that the qi he had been absorbing, circulating in his qi pathways and condensing during that cycle just dispersed away. In the worst case, he would lose 10 minutes' worth of cultivation now.
Well, this time he hadn't even cultivated for 5 seconds before not maintaining his qi mantle. The issue was that in order to make the cultivation process easier, he had instinctively closed himself down and blocked the qi that was already in his dantian from leaving his body.
Generally, Han Lingyun found it worked best when he cultivated by picturing his body from a 3rd person point of view, alone in the darkness, except for the glowing particles of qi surrounding him, the 4 qi streams that resembled the arms of a galaxy and the qi that rolled in luminescent rivers in his qi pathways.
But now his mental image was showing its limits.
Han Lingyun wouldn't abandon after the first setback though, and he sank deep in thought while the water was still battering his qi barrier.
After a moment of contemplation, his next idea was to try to include the falling water in his mental visualization. If he could include the waterfall in his spiritual conception, wouldn't his mind keep that qi flow going?
Han Lingyun took another dive into cultivation. He was sitting there alone in the darkness, qi particles dancing all around. His stillness was now underneath a blue veil of the water.
This veil, like a curtain was separated in two at its base due to Han Lingyun' body and the qi hovering above.
The image was appealing and harmonious but it felt… Fake.
*Ghasp*! Han Lingyun was once again forced out from his cultivation state. He was drenched by the constant water hammering down. His ears were filled with the crashing of the liquid on the platform, the wild turbulences of the millions of water droplets falling down in an infernal mix.
'What am I doing wrong? Why can't I recreate that waterfall? I am obviously missing something here.'
Suddenly, a light bulb went on in his head. It was a strange idea but his intuition was prickled by this inspiration.
'What if I imbue the image of the waterfall with the spiritual concept of water? If the image feels too fictitious and cannot help me in my meditation, what if I make it as realistic as possible by combining it with my personal understanding of water's nature?'
Han Lingyun observed the water falling around him closely and thought back at the description of the natural rune and the concepts he had explored.
The drops, points that become something else together. A drop, itself divisible in sextillions of molecules made by one atom of Oxygen and two atoms of Hydrogen .
The turbulences, following the Navier-Stokes equations and falling to the unwavering gravity.
po*(du/dt + (u.V)u) = -VP + mu*V^2u + po*F V.u=0
The persistence, the struggle between nature and a man.
The terrifying pressure and the soothing force on the mind.
The loud roar as it crashed down, the smell of freshness.
A harsh massage.
An unknown amount of time had passed and the waterfall in his mind had come to life. Han Lingyun marveled at his own imagination as he examined the vivid movements. A low roar echoed in the dark expanse; a faint sent tickled his nostrils.
'I have succeeded!'
Han Lingyun looked closely at the qi that danced above his projection, clashing with the waves. A new cycle had begun as Han Lingyun was reabsorbing his own condensed qi that covered him before it dissipated. This dense qi joined and enlarged the 4 streams that entered his pathways.
The qi rivers flowing inside him sped up as the flow increased. Han Lingyun was shocked to discover that he had never condensed qi at such a fast pace. He was enriching his qi, making it denser, in part with his own qi he expanded, effectively compressing his qi with that cycle.
He had never felt so refreshed and yet the process was more tiring than usual. Han Lingyun didn't stop though; he wouldn't stop until he had emptied his qi reserves.
Well, that was his thoughts until he was waken up by the waterfall stopping: it was the end of the hour time limit and Han Lingyun watched dispiritedly as 7 minutes' worth of qi cultivation dispersed in the environment.
Shen Lin stood up and stretched. "Woa, that was intense. Brother Lingyun, I think I will stop here, I'm completely spent!"
"Have you made some progress, brother Lin?"
"I think so, but I'll have to come back for it and cultivate some more to become significant. Over all, I think this exercise is a good supplement to cultivation. What about you brother Lingyun?"
"A, I'll stay here for a bit. I found this waterfall more useful than I originally thought. I want to try stronger powers too."
Shen Lin was impressed. "Ugh you already left me in the dust brother Lingyun. You still have the qi left for a harder level?"
Han Lingyun chuckled at his friend's remark. He wondered what his reaction would be if he revealed that he had actually been cultivating just now and not focusing on his qi manipulation to resist the pressure.
Han Lingyun placed his badge to pay the hourly fee and locked it in place. There was a mechanism meant for disciples that wanted to stay for extended periods of time without being interrupted every hour. The formation would just automatically collect the fee of 10 Ps at 1-hour intervals.
He walked back to the platform and pressed the 'Soft' level this time. Now that he had found how to cultivate with the waterfall, it was just a question of how fast he could be releasing qi to feed his cycle while still maintaining perfect control over it.
A wave came crashing down and pressed down with a massive uninterrupted force, capable of bending metal. Obviously, the stone platform he was sitting on had been made of some special materials or it would have broken down already.
Han Lingyun took another deep breath, concentrated on the water rune, pictured the waterfall and entered a cultivation trance once again.