Chapter Three: The Upper Dantian
“I woke up lying in the Silent Forest. I couldn’t remember anything other than my name and how to fight.” Black Wind leaves out how he remembered where he came from, since that’s a detail that might add more suspicion. “I didn’t know where I was or anything, so I just started walking. I eventually arrived here by following the stream.” There are a few inconsistencies with his story, such as why his clothes were clean when he arrived to town if he’d been laying in the forest, but thankfully it seems like no one thinks to call them out.
“Excuse me Mr. Black Wind, but we need a moment to talk. Would you mind heading to the next room for a bit?” Chief Abney stands and leads Black Wind to the door leading to the kitchen. As he doesn’t have much of a choice, Black Wind follows him. They are obviously planning to discuss how to deal with a suspicious character such as him.
Black Wind finds a stool to sit in as Chief Abney heads back to the lounge where Loreena and Sage George are waiting. Black Wind notices that after Chief Abney heads back inside the room, a faint glowing membrane-like wall appears in the doorway. As soon as this wall appears, he is no longer able to hear any sound from inside the room. It might be possible to break through, but Black Wind doesn’t wish to disturb his hosts by trying. So, he sits still in the kitchen and thinks. Thinks about who this Neath is, what she could want from him, and what she might know about his past.
Remembering what was said about how she spoke to the room when he was unconscious, Black Wind wonders if he could try to contact her himself. Closing his eyes while sitting in a meditative posture, he focuses his mind on his dantian, or sea of qi, where a martial practitioner’s qi and life energy is stored. As long as his dantian are left undamaged, practitioners of a certain level can live through any attack, even rebuilding their body from their remaining qi. There are three dantians in a persons body, each strengthened through different training and used for different martial techniques.
The lower dantian is located in the abdomen, below the belly button. This one can be strengthened by anyone through physical training alone, but cannot reach beyond a certain level of martial prowess. The middle dantian is located in a persons heart. This one is strengthened through qi gathering methods, such as meditation and heavenly medicine. Finally, the upper dantian is located in the brain and can only be strengthened through the will of the heavens. One must have enlightenments which will allow them to be blessed by the heavens and have their upper dantian strengthened. This is the hardest dantian to cultivate as well as the most important. If one wishes to reach the strength of legends, they must learn to strengthen this dantian. If the upper dantian is strengthened to a high enough degree, one can even live and train without their mortal body. At this point they reach the level of immortal.
Black Wind focuses his mind first into his lower dantian, spreading his consciousness throughout his physical body, looking for any sign of an abnormality. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, he then switches to his middle dantian. As his mind enters this dantian, it follows the various qi channels around his body. As he examines each qi channel, he forces more qi through, slowly widening them. This is one of the methods of qi training. However, he still finds no abnormalities. Black Wind sighs, wishing it could have been as easy as that. Finally, after taking a breath to prepare himself, he brings his consciousness to his upper dantian.
As his consciousness enters his upper dantian, it’s like a roiling sea. He tries hard to hang on and not lose his mind in this chaotic expanse, a cold sweat unknowingly appearing on his back. Black Wind is shocked at the state of his upper dantian. Although it was never easy to train his upper dantian, the energies inside it were never this expansive or violent before. However, this is a mixed blessing. Although he is having trouble even holding onto his mind, much less taming this expanse of qi, if he is able to harness it’s power it will be of boundless benefit to him. His upper dantian was previously like a small pond compared to this raging ocean.
As he is thinking greedily about the possible benefits that could come from cultivating this wild upper dantian, Black Wind loses focus for a split second. However, that split second was all that was needed for his consciousness to be swept away by the violent waves of qi. Not even having time to swear to himself, Black Wind tries desperately to hang onto his mind. If this goes wrong, he will be left raving mad at best, or a soulless husk at worst. If his mind is lost in the upper dantian, only heaven could save him.
His mind reaches out in every direction, looking for something to hang onto, some way to save itself. As Black Wind is fighting desperately for his sanity in his upper dantian, he has a realization. One must not fight to control their qi, they must learn to live alongside it, treating their qi like an equal. As he has this small enlightenment, Black Wind can feel his consciousness growing stronger, having received another blessing from the heavens. However, it still isn’t enough! Black Wind no longer fights the flow of his qi, but instead tries to flow with it. But this just leads to the overwhelming amount of qi sweeping his mind up and starting to drown it.
As he feels that all hope is lost, a sinister light engulfs his psyche and pulls it from the violent sea of qi. But to Black Wind, this dark and sinister light feels as natural and warm as his mother’s womb. He starts to calm down, already forgetting about how he almost lost his mind just a mere moment ago. As he starts to fall asleep, a female voice whispers in his head. “Foolish man, do you wish to see me that much? I will not always be able to protect you. Fine. I will bestow this treasure upon you to protect and guide you. Once you are strong enough to meet me, it will show you the way.” Black Wind barely registers these words before his consciousness drifts off in a natural sleep.
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Hearing his name called wakes Black Wind up. As he looks around, he notices that Loreena is standing to his side, holding a ladle. It is also bright, with sunlight streaming through the window. Black Wind sits up, realizing that he had been moved to a small bed and that his clothes have been changed. He wrinkles his eyebrows as he finally remembers what happened yesterday and his close brush with insanity. However, this action which he has done an innumerable number of times in his life feels strange and alien. He brings his hand up to his head and feels a hard and smooth thing implanted into his forehead between and slightly above his eyebrows.
“Are you feeling alright, Mr. Black Wind?” Loreena asks him, looking slightly worried. You fell asleep 3 days ago after we had talked for a bit. You were sweating and looked deathly pale. We moved you to young Antero’s room and my husband changed your clothes. You’ve been asleep ever since.” She pauses for a moment and cocks her head to one side. “Also, what’s with that stone on your forehead? Was that always there?”
“Stone?” Black Wind looks just as puzzled as her, so she brings over a bucket of water and hands it to him.
“Look at it for yourself. I have never seen anything like it before.”
Black Wind leans over the bucket, looking at his reflection in the water. Sure enough, there’s an ovular black stone in his forehead. It was what he felt earlier when he had tried to wrinkle his eyebrows. As if it isn’t odd enough to have a stone implanted in someone’s head, it looks as if it is actually a part of him, not just some addition. Also, the black stone gives no reflection off. Any light that hit it is seemingly absorbed, almost making it look like there’s a black hole in the front of his head.
“I’ve never seen it before either. It doesn’t hurt or anything though.” Black Wind suddenly remembers what that female voice had said in his upper dantian about having gifted him a treasure. He assumes that was the Neath he was told about by Loreena. However, he decides to keep these facts to himself, especially judging how the residents here all seem under the impression that this Neath is an evil goddess, but as his savior just now as well as his benefactor for this mysterious treasure, Black Wind has a rather good impression of her.
“Well, you certainly are mysterious. But don’t worry, we won’t throw you out just for that, although Antero is a bit mad about not having his bed. Anyway, I was just making breakfast. Come join us!” Loreena heads back to the kitchen after seeing that Black Wind is doing well.
Black Wind sees his clothes folded next to his bed and quickly puts those back on as well as putting his sword back at his waist. He feels much more comfortable with it there. Afterwards, he heads to the kitchen, seeing that Chief Abney, Loreena, and Antero are all gathered already. As there is no sign of Sage George, he must live elsewhere.
After eating for a while with the Abney family, Black Wind speaks up. “I have decided. I can not continue to impose upon you here. It is not polite and it will do nothing for me in recovering my memory. I shall head to the kingdom’s capital.”
Note: Chapter 3! This is starting to look like an actual series, huh? I’m also amazed that I’ve gotten 105 views in just two days! Thank you everyone, I hope you continue to enjoy the series and share it with your friends. 🙂