On the way to the sixth floor, the mystery of the missing fourth gunman was solved.
He’d taken a nasty leg wound. Running away from the fight, he’d made it halfway to the fourth floor landing before he bled out.
Finding his body, Mike bent down and took the pistol in his hand, a simple revolver, and slid in into his belt. Searching him, he found a box of bullets and his silver death certificate, he grabbed both.
The others filed past him, ignoring him, as he went about his gruesome business.
No one said anything, not even to claim he was being unfair with his distribution of loot. Even the remaining gunman kept his eyes facing forward, pretending like he didn’t see anything.
Once upstairs a half hearted attempt was made at supper before watches were drawn.
Mike, having the [Meditation] skill, didn’t technically need to sleep. So he offered to take watch for everyone.
It was the first night of the end of the world, and he was the most well adjusted bastard in it. The others would get there. In the mean time it wouldn’t hurt him any to give them a full night’s sleep.
His offer was well received but benefited everyone less than they’d expected.
It was a long uncomfortable night, even uninterrupted. Zombies, trolls, and magic were all suddenly real. It was a lot to think about. It didn’t help that so many people, people they’d all known, were dead.
Mike tuned out the restless tossing and turning. His offer had been one of convenience. He didn’t care if anyone got a good night’s sleep or not. He’d intended to stay up anyway, to meditate and begin practicing his [Qi Manipulation] skill. He’d only made the offer because it cost him nothing, and was an easy chance to get on everyone’s good side.
Sitting in a half-cocked lotus position, like some bargain bin yoga instructor, Mike began to meditate.
Gradually his body relaxed, everything faded away. His consciousness floated comfortably in an empty void.
As he continued to meditate, slowly he began to notice the void was hardly as empty as it first seemed. Small wisps of gaseous white energy, nearly invisible against the darkness, drifted throughout the space.
Mike willed himself to reach out and touch a strand. Feeling its coolness as it brushed against his palm, sliding out of his hand, he had an inspiration. In an instant he realized where he must be, what he must be seeing.
The void was his dantian, the center of his being. The white strands were qi energy.
Mike felt himself grow excited.
He’d read enough books to have a general idea what he should do next.
Reaching out with his consciousness he grabbed onto a strand of qi. Slowly pulling it along he made his way through his meridian channels, stimulating the qi and his own body as he went along.
Gradually the thin strand began to grow thicker, more substantial. It was the difference between a single hair and two braided together, but it encouraged Mike to continue. One complete circuit, then a second, by the third the tiny strand of qi began to flow on its own volition, growing ever so slightly as it continued to rotate through his channels with ever increasing speed.
He watched as the qi strand slowly growing in size, nurtured his meridians, and qi channels as it passed, sinking energy into his body, his muscle and bone, gradually improving him as it did so.
Suddenly, violently and without warning the Qi strand tripled in size, as he felt something deep within him break open.
Coming back to himself, Mike struggled to breath as he coughed up a mouthful of foul smelling black blood.
He’d entered the first stage of cultivation, his body had been purified to a degree. The black blood he’d spit out had been the impurities gathered from his blood.
Mike didn’t know enough about cultivating to know how many stages there were, or how impressive his accomplishment. But as he resolved to use the vending machines to search for information on cultivating qi energy, a familiar ding rang out in his mind and a screen appeared.
|Congratulations! You have successfully cultivated your Qi.Achievement: Player successfully manipulated Qi through his meridian network.
Reward: +0.5SPI + +0.2BOD
It wasn’t really surprising what he’d done counted as an achievement.
He possessed the skill [Qi Manipulation]. The skill wasn’t a cultivation technique, it was merely the ability to control qi energy. He currently lacked the qi reserves, and actual qi techniques, magics created from qi, to make use of the skill.
Through the「System」his qi would increase gradually as he leveled up.
Cultivating qi required a skill known as a breathing technique. Through his ignorant fumbling, he’d actually managed to create his own breathing technique and increase his qi, without any real idea what he’d been doing.
It was amateurish and inefficient. Vastly inferior to a real breathing technique, wasting enormous efforts for little return. But it did technically work.
A good breathing technique would be active to a lesser degree, absorbing qi from the outside world into his dantian constantly, and would speed up exponentially when he concentrated on it.
Paired with a qi technique body skill aimed at increasing his physical abilities through qi reinforcement, his body would slowly purify and enhance itself as his qi well grew ever deeper forming a symbiotic circle of self enhancement.
For the immediate time being the lack of a breathing technique and a body skill could be ignored, a decent grade of either would be quite expensive, and he lacked the credits to indulge himself. Once he could, combing his qi growth from leveling, with the qi gathered from a proper cultivation routine, his power would increase exponentially.
It seemed levels were not the only road to power under the new world. Levels were the simplest and most direct, but bloodlines, jobs, and skills offered nearly endless branching paths that could be taken along that road. And Mike it seemed had found one such path almost by accident.
Cleaning the congealed blood off the floor, Mike noticed light coming in through the windows. He never would have guessed he’d been out that long. Looking around the two combined rooms, he saw that aside from Troy, everyone seemed to have finally fallen asleep.
He wondered what time he should wake them. A quick check of one of the working clocks showed it was just barely seven in the morning, but the world was different. Barely seven meant it was light out. For the others, who lacked his bloodline’s [Darkvision] skill, light out was the only time they could move with any degree of safety.
Noticing Troy tracking his pacing movements with his head, he asked, “Couldn’t sleep?”
Troy laughed dryly at that.
“Apparently I don’t need to anymore. Don’t seem to need to eat, or take dumps either.”
“Well you are a skeleton now…” Mike said hesitantly, not wanting to offend him.
“Yeah, and I’m glad to be alive. I really am. It’s just, there’s not much to living like this.”
Not knowing what to say to comfort him, Mike held his tongue.
Troy seemed to appreciate the lack of empty platitude as they sat in silence for several minutes.
Then awkwardly Mike’s stomach rumbled. He’d burned up all his caloric intake using his poor man’s cultivation technique. His body was bigger now, and it needed more energy to function.
Troy laughed at their situation, muttering, “who needs humanity anyway, am I right?”
Mike snorted but then thinking on shrugged, “yeah, monsters for life,” he added with a mock toasting of his imaginary beer.
|Name: Mike Tanner – Race: Half Orc
Occupation: Monk – Level: 5
Purse: 1130 Credits
STR: 2.0 / QUI: 1.9 / BOD: 1.9 / SPI: 1.7 [AP: 0.0]
Author : The Steve