John followed his father out the backyard and to the small martial training area that his house had there. It was quite smaller than the main training areas of the clan, but was quite suitable for two people to train. The training area was a round raised platform that was forty feet in diameter. A small walkway circled around the training platform. A small stream surrounded the walkway, with flowers and medical plants of all sorts growing on the banks of the stream.
Barden walked up onto the raised platform and walked to the center, before calmly sitting down in a meditative position. John followed his father's lead and sat opposite him, mimicking his seated posture.
Breathing in and out deeply a few times, Barden sat there for quite some time before speaking out to John "Have you been successful in feeling the Qi in the air during your meditations?"
John, who was breathing in and out deeply in a similar manner as his father stopped for a second before responding "I don't know. I've only been in the Blood Refinement realm for a week or so now. When I sit down to cultivate, I think I feel something, but I can't be sure. Sometimes I'll fall into a trance and realize my skin will start to tingle, like something is crawling over it, but other than that I haven't really felt anything."
Barden looked at his son, a slight smile on his face as he responded "That tingle you're feeling is the surrounding Qi responding to you, almost like a summoning. Although you yourself weren't aware of it, that's the first sign that you've begun to feel the Qi in the air. Most people take a few months to get to that stage, so you feeling the Qi only a week in is a very good thing."
Barden paused for a while before continuing, "Your 'summoning' of Qi draws it to you, but you were unsure of what to do next, and that's why it felt like a tingle. You brought the Qi to your body, but then it just danced along your skin as it had nowhere else to go."
"The next step once you learn to summon the surrounding natural Qi is to draw it into your body, through your meridians, and into the area that your dantian will form. This step will also take a bit of time as you learn which parts of your body allow for this transfer of Qi from your skin to your dantian, but if you keep trying at it, you'll get the hang of it before long."
"Once you learn to draw Qi into your body, you must guide it to the exact location your dantian will form. This location is three fingers below your navel, and two fingers back. After repeating this process continuously, the Qi you have collected there will start to coalesce, and once you have stored enough Qi in this location, a point will naturally come when it condenses and converts into a dantian."
Barden paused a while, letting his son soak in the information he had just imparted before continuing, "When you suddenly feel a surge of power flowing into your body from your dantian, that is the point that you will know you have successfully stepped into the Mist Creation realm."
A resolute look flashed across John's face at the mention of the Mist Creation realm. Barden noticed this, but didn't say anything as he let John continue to digest the information he had given. After processing everything his father had said, John calmed down and started to focus on his surroundings.
Breathing out calmly, John focused his mind and slowly forgot about his surroundings, his father, and even himself. Emptiness filled John's mind as he instinctively started to guide the surrounding Qi to his body.
A shocked look appeared on Barden's face as he watched John in front of him. "Is this a joke? He went into a fully meditative state just like that?" Barden said nothing as he watched John cultivate. With his cultivation realm of Core Formation, Barden could see the surrounding Qi slowly drift towards John, eventually stopping at this skin and swirling all around. Before long however, the Qi started to disappear.
The shock on Barden's face grew even more apparent as he muttered "He's absorbing Qi already? How heaven defying is my son? First he falls into a full meditative state which is something a cultivator can only pray for, and will be lucky to achieve a few times in their life, and then he starts absorbing Qi the same day as learning how to do so?"
John sat in that state for several hours before slowly opening his tranquil eyes. He took a few seconds to come to his senses before analyzing his body.
"Dad, I feel it. I finally feel some Qi where my dantian will form!" John called out to his father ecstatically.
"That you did my son. You have crossed the second to last barrier to become a Mist Creation realm. Now all you need to do is keep this up until enough Qi collects to form a dantian. Here."
A book appeared in Barden's hand, at which point he handed it over to John.
"What's this?" asked John.
"Our clan's cultivation technique" replied Barden with a serious expression. "This is one of the clan's most guarded secrets, and is one of the reasons for our regional supremacy. You can cultivate this, but you must make sure it never falls into enemy hands."
John grabbed the book with a serious expression. He opened it to the first page and began reading. The book detailed how to absorb Qi from the air, which acupoints to absorb the Qi through, and which meridians to guide the Qi to the dantian. It also contained a few other methods of improving cultivation speed.
John couldn't help but smile enthusiastically as he tried to go back to cultivating. ...
"Hold on son, there's plenty of time in the future for cultivation. My teachings aren't done yet" said Barden as he halted his son from cultivating again.
"Ah, sorry Dad. I just got so caught up in the feeling of cultivating. I've never felt so alive" responded John with a smile on his face.
"I know. It truly is one of the greatest feelings a man can experience. Now, before long you'll become a Mist Creation cultivator, and once you become one you'll need to know how to keep advancing your cultivation steadily." replied Barden. He waited a few seconds for his son to calm down and focus before continuing.
"Mist Creation is broken down into three minor realms; early Mist Creation; middle Mist Creation, and late Mist Creation. There is also peak Mist Creation, but that is not a realm of its own, and just refers to someone who is at the cusp of breaking through to Qi Condensation."
John intently listened to his father as Barden explained everything he could to John.
"At the early mist creation stage, your body is strong enough to accept the natural Qi that flows around us. As Qi flows around and through us, our Dantian begins to form and fill with light amounts of Qi. The initial condensation of Qi is extremely light and almost unnoticeable. To increase the density of your Qi and advance to middle Mist Creation, you must continue to naturally and actively absorb Qi through training and meditation. There are also things called spirit crystals that one can absorb, but those are only used for higher cultivation levels due to the chaotic energy they possess."
"Anyways, like I was saying, absorbing more and more Qi will thicken the mist dantian, until it is quite thicker and much more noticeable. At this stage, you will be ready to break through to the middle Mist Creation realm. It will be at this point that your first bottleneck will occur. Bottlenecks occur at each major and minor realm increase. The reason for this is that each realm uses a slightly different Qi essence to cultivate. Although the Qi itself is the same Qi you were absorbing before, you must have a higher comprehension and grasp of the nature of the Qi before you are able to start using it for cultivation."
Barden paused for a second, noticing that John was looking quite confused. He cleared his throat before continuing,
"Think of it this way, when you first began training your sword arts, you started with the fundamentals; breathing, stance, grip, and posture. Only after mastering the fundamentals were you then able to confidently hold a sword and begin learning basic forms. Once again, only after you mastered the basic forms were you then able to comprehend the next set of forms. This is exactly how Qi cultivation works. You must fully understand the essence of Qi in your current realm before you are able to advance to the next realm."
A flash of comprehension appeared in John's mind as it all started making sense to him. "I think I understand" responded John as he continued to echo the words of his father in his mind.
"Good, good" responded Barden with a laugh before once again continuing, "Once you are ready to break through to late Mist Creation, the same bottleneck will occur again, and then again at the cusp of Qi Condensation. Each realm advancement will come with a bottleneck you need to break through. Another thing to keep in mind is that major realm advancements come with a much harder bottleneck to break through, but we'll cover that at a later time."
"Another thing I want to mention is that to comprehend the essence of your Qi, there are two ways to go about it. One is through meditation as you had just done, and the other is to actively use your Qi from your dantian. Using Qi from your dantian will help you understand quicker, and the best way to do so is to fight."
Barden paused for a while before looking at his son seriously and continuing, "This brings me to why I am allowing you to go out into the world. I understand your reasoning's, and I don't disagree with them. The fastest and most natural way for you to raise your strength is to fight. I know your mother doesn't want me telling you this, but the more intense a fight, the more your life is on the line during the fight, the faster your cultivation speed will be."
A confused look once again appeared on John's face, but as he thought about his encounter with the Dark Spotted Panther, John started to understand what his father was trying to say.
"When fighting with your life on the line, your body will instinctively use the Qi from your dantian in the most efficient and optimal way in order to increase your odds of survival. Even if you are not consciously aware of it at the time you are fighting, being in this state of optimal Qi usage will subconsciously allow you to understand the nature of Qi faster than if you were just to meditate instead. Also, sometimes a bottleneck will never break loose no matter how much you meditate on it, and the only way to advance is to use your Qi in fights and become accustomed to using it."
All the teachings that John had been listening to were slowly starting to come together, allowing John to understand the big picture of the essence of cultivation.
"I think I understand. Thank you so much father" John replied with a face full of gratitude. His cultivation before today could be described as stumbling through the dark trying to find what he was looking for, whereas now he was on an illuminated path walking straight towards his goal.
"Now, one last thing I want to mention is in regards to your soul. When you break through to the Mist Creation realm, your nascent soul will form naturally. The heavenly laws themselves are responsible for forming your nascent soul. Every major realm you break through as well, your soul power will strengthen."
"Your soul exists now, but is in too weak a state to interact with. Your soul is useful for many things, but most let it strengthen naturally and don't focus on improving their soul power. This is mainly due to the potency of soul attacks. Attacking with the soul is much harder than defending with it. Unless you have some extremely lucky circumstances, your soul is very hard to improve on other than passively growing stronger as your cultivation grows stronger. Only those with variant souls focus on soul power, as they have a natural birth advantage that makes it worthwhile to do so. That's everything I want to say on that."
Barden let his son contemplate everything that he talked about for quite some time before speaking up once more, "Now that you know all this, I will allow you to set out...on one condition."