city was just asking for it. Hmm, what about mile marker 13.11?
There was a pond there, so he didn't need more water skins. He planned to cultivate in the weather, so he didn't need a tent. He had a camp knife, but all of his Kung Fu was geared towards using his body as a weapon, so no armorer. He went and spent a good chunk of his silver on resupplying his food.
Everyone knew he was dirt poor, he hadn't won anything at an auction, etc, so his journey out of town was uneventful. A couple of hours later, he was outside the mile marker. He checked for any traffic and there wasn't anyone nearby. He went off the road and found his secluded valley. The pond was still and the forest was foreboding. As soon as he stabilized his Martial Arts, he was off to fight some beasts.
He was pleasantly surprised, his Dantian was three quarters full - he must have been packing like crazy on his little hike. He decided to turn off "yuanqi_practice" and wow, he could still detect the Yuan Qi following his breath. He scanned his body and could find it elsewhere, but for some reason it felt natural to track it with his breath.
He spent the rest of the day and night cultivating in the background. Mainly, he wanted to see if this was a safe haven after all. In the morning, he felt refreshed and his Dantian was full.
He now had three paths in front of him, pack in the Spiritual Qi until he rose through the levels of Martial Refiner, tunnel to his Yang Linking Meridian, and finally, do both. Of course, he chose to do both. Just leveling up did nothing, especially if he couldn't manifest his Spiritual Qi as a power. He needed to at least connect one of his limb Meridians to see if his new trick was going to work. Plus, he was an old computer geek and wanted to do parallel processing
He quickly came to learn how monotonous closed door retreats were - even if you were under the open sky. He would cycle between cultivating to recover energy and both packing and tunneling at the same time. His one little trick to keep the tunnel open worked. The Comprehensive Transmission of Auric Ether technique didn't say anything about how wide the tunnel should be, so he decided to make it three times wider than his strand of Spiritual Qi.
It took more than three times longer to build, he found that just like with his Dantian, he had to pack down the tunnel to give it structural integrity. This might be overkill, but he always heard about having a strong and solid foundation.
He didn't know how people judged lower, middle, and upper stages of a level, he just knew that as he packed in the Dantian, it would start to quiver right before it condensed down a layer. There were ten layers to the Martial Refiner and there were ten Prime Meridians. He wanted to make sure he connected each Meridian before he finished condensing a layer.
So once he got his Dantian half-packed, he went into a steady-state with it, no more packing, but just bringing in one thread of Spiritual Qi for every one he took to the tunnel. He could definitely feel the drop in the energy drain once he stopped the stuffing of the Dantian.
He never felt hungry or tired. He actually seemed to draw inspiration from the sights and sounds of nature. He noticed that predators would come into the valley, but didn't seem aggressive when they once they arrived. Wait a minute, that coyote was actually cultivating too!
But he couldn't afford to pay too much attention - he needed to focus on the tunnel construction. It was by far the most thought intensive process he had ever done. Even though it felt like the jade slip was running the background processes, he knew it was actually him.
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