The Change Within a Night
A lotus was growing in his subconscious mind.
How extraordinarily peculiar!
“To think that such a strange phenomenon could exist in this world!” Yun Yang was astounded. In his lifetime, he was reasonably confident that such an event had never taken place in the known universe.
Improbable as it was, it had happened. And it had happened to him.
“Does this bode disaster? Would I be controlled, or morph into some form of demon? Or is this the calling of the heavens, and I am to answer it, losing my mortal relations in the process?”
In the entire ordeal, Yun Yang had remained as calm as any man could be expected to, given the circumstances. He was aware that there would be a rationale behind such an occurrence – it only remained to be seen if it was an event of great fortune or unparalleled mishap! Resigned to his fate, Yun Yang breathed a sigh of contentment. “Be it fortune or disaster, I will accept it with open arms,” he exclaimed with a smile. “So long as I can complete my brothers’ unfulfilled wishes, and seek vengeance, I will cherish this opportunity that I have been presented, and shoulder the misfortunes that fate decides to deal.”
As what little of the mystical Qi residing in his body began to flow, a look of quiet yearning dawned on Yun Yang’s visage. It was slow going and would consume a few more hours of valuable time before it completed a full cycle. Yun Yang was a patient man, however, and as he waited for its completion, weariness took over. Gradually, his eyes began to droop, and before long, the labors of the day took its toll, and Yun Yang dozed in peaceful serenity.
In his subconscious mind, the seedling suddenly began to move. Wriggling was the closest approximation to describe this movement, and in its quaking, shards of pain began to lance through Yun Yang’s body. Seething in agony, Yun Yang awoke, the pain climaxing until it became almost unbearable. He was close to the edge, when abruptly, he felt a tearing sensation, almost as if a barrier had been ripped away from the top of his head. He began to experience a new sensation, akin to a flow of cooling energy recycling through his soul. It was the Qi, entering and egressing through the peak of his body, churning powerfully as it came and went.
“Awakening of chakras1!”
Yun Yang gazed into an endless horizon, wide-eyed, almost fainting from the ecstasy that coursed through him. This Endless Mystical Skill could give rise to such an amazing experience! Being a skilled member of the Nine Supremes, how could Yun Yang not have known the difficulty in awakening chakras? Not everyone had the potential for its cultivation; even if one were fortunate enough to possess it, it was still a far cry from gaining mastery over it. Everything about being innately gifted was undeniably true, especially in the different levels of the world of martial arts practiced in the Mainland of Tianyuan.
From one level of Qi mastery to another, the differences and gaps were vastly and distinctly unique. It was the lifeblood of martial artists to cultivate chakras – tail chakra2, sacral chakra3, perineum chakra4, core chakra5, crux chakra6, medial chakra7, crown chakra8, third-eye chakra9, and occipital chakra10.
Their cultivation was divided into three levels, Foundation Qi11, Spirit Qi12, and the highly vaunted Mystical Qi13. Of course, there were those of even higher levels, but they were rare, few and far in between.
Foundation Qi martial artists possessed at most one or two innately awakened chakras (the sacral chakra and core chakra) or none at all; their strength predominantly arose from rigorous training while their energy came from expending and exploiting their physical potential. Their cultivation of Foundation Qi came from expending their own vital Qi. They were, however, doomed to reach only limited achievements, regardless of their best efforts.
Spirit Qi martial artists – martial artists with internal strength14, possessed three innately awakened chakras; the power of yin15 contained within them could be used to inflict destructive damage upon others. They could cultivate their dantian and obtain spiritual Qi from Heaven and Earth, all through meditation. Those with higher cultivation could harness enough energy to split entire monuments and crack rocks, as well as unleash their maximum potential strength in a violent and intense manner.
Mystical Qi martial artists, the elite of the lot – possesses six innately awakened chakras. Spiritually one with Heaven and Earth, they could cruise through the seas and reach for the skies given the amount of power they held in their hands. Those whose cultivations were at their peak could melt gold and even convert metals from base materials, climb mountains and wade through rivers like they were walking on flat ground. These masters could perform feats beyond the human imagination, and defy the laws of physics, stopping short of bending reality.
Yun Yang, being possessed of six innately awakened chakras, was considered one of the most gifted individuals in the Mainland of Tianyuan. That was all the more reason he knew the difficulty in awakening chakras, a nigh impossible feat. To awaken one’s chakra, it would not only depend on one’s effort alone but was subject to a terribly large dose of luck and fate. If one was born without any awakened chakras, there wasn’t much that one could do to elevate one’s self beyond normalcy. To some extent, it was said that awakened chakras could not be developed, it could only be ‘bestowed.’
Yun Yang’s awakened chakras were his tail chakra, sacral chakra, perineum chakra, core chakra, crux chakra, and medial chakra; these were innate. He thought this was all he could be his whole life – at best, a practicing expert somewhere, with no hope of becoming a legend. Who would have known that he was capable of awakening another chakra in such a short period after cultivating the Endless Divine Art?
The impossible had happened, and he was now a being with seven awakened chakras.
This divine oddity would make him one in a million in the history of the Empire of Yutang. Although it was only an extra chakra, the impact it would lend to his physical attributes could only be described as the contrast between the heaven and earth.
Where his soul was once dead and buried, now Yun Yang felt like it could soar gleefully in the skies. He could already distinctly decipher the mystical power of the Endless Divine Art, and with further cultivation, he could even increase his capabilities– this was a godsend indeed! With the birth of the crown chakra, spiritual Qi sourced from both heaven and earth began to pour into him. With mystical hands, Yun Yang moved the Qi to each crevice and corner of his physical body, cleansing and cleaning his meridians of all the impurities and corruption that begat the mortal form.
As he continued to perform the ritual, he was unaware of the implications that his actions were having on the spiritual plane. High above in the sky, spiritual Qi from all across began to dissipate and wane, becoming increasingly weak and sheer. Martial artists who were cultivating nearby began to experience a sense of alarm, as they felt the absence of spiritual Qi as keenly as a man struck blind feels the absence of light.
What was happening?
With swoops of wind, silhouettes began to appear on the roof, one after the other as they looked around in a daze, feeling the odd change of spiritual Qi between heaven and earth.
They stared at each other at a loss; the same incredulity reflected in every pair of eyes.
“Which grandmaster is it, who has arrived at Tiantang City?”
Only a grandmaster of legendary stature could claim enough spiritual Qi from heaven and earth to exhaust the entire pool. Only the grandmasters of old could have conjured such a phenomenon, and how many of them with such an elevated level of power still existed in the whole Mainland of Tianyuan?
What would such an appearance in Tiantang City portend?
Near the palace, a silhouette appeared high in the air as his eyes were filled with shock, gazing straight ahead towards the southwest towards the direction of the aura.
“Who is it that has come?”
Another silhouette shot up and landed beside him, his face grim. They looked at each other, their own eyes reflecting each other’s bewilderment.
“Whoever this individual is, he is immensely powerful.”
“But it’s coming from the slums…”
“So who is it?”
The silhouette that was first to arrive forced a smile terrible to behold, “Whoever it is, it’s someone we can’t afford to provoke.”
Within Yun Yang’s subconsciousness, the tiny seedling of green was wriggling and seemed to be expanding little by little. A pure form of vitality was emitted from the earth, from the very sky. Wild plants and living flora in the Mainland of Tianyuan welcomed the same vigorous growth in the very same instant as well, blooming in into miraculous flowers and giant trees.
Indeed, everything within the human realm seemed to have changed within a single night.
“My purple jade ginseng, how did you bloom within such a short span of time?” An old man looked at his newly born flower that was emanating a crisp fragrance, dumbfounded in his courtyard. He had been taking meticulous care of this purple jade spiritual ginseng for twenty years, but the plant had never made even the slightest progress, let alone bloom.
With a suspicious mind, the old man had initially thought that someone had switched the purple jade ginseng for another while he wasn’t looking.
In the borderless forests, a handful of hunters aroused from their slumber and looked at their surrounding in stupefaction. Just the previous night, they were worried that wild beasts would attack them in hopes of obtaining the warm flesh they so desired, so they made the extra effort to build their sleeping area atop a large tree branch. Come the morning, however, they found themselves surrounded and wrapped in a canopy of tree leaves.
“What’s going on?” a hunter exclaimed in confusion, “We just fell asleep not too long ago. This canopy of tree leaves looks like it has seen years of growth! Ah, look at the two trees beside us. I chopped two large branches yesterday as a support, but how… how can these two trees grow so fast? Exactly where I’ve cut the branches, new ones are growing, and even larger than before!”
He grabbed the closest person to him in panic, “Brother, brother, how long have we stayed here? I just got married to Yan’er last month, and I can’t possibly be going back to meet a wrinkled version of her!”
Within a night, everything had changed.
It was now dawn.
Yun Yang exhaled lightly, feeling the vitality of his body that was like that of a newborn’s; a smile hanging loosely on his lips.
“The Lotus of Endless Fate; a leaf of infinity, when the bud bloomed, there was the world; evanescence of time, years that lost count, the day the golden lotus blooms, echeveria16 cleanses all; the supposed creator of the world, awaits the fate that binds; now that fortune has arrived, your destiny is laid.”
Yun Yang squinted his eyes, uttering softly, “The Lotus of Endless Fate.”
After giving it some thought, the passage was easy to comprehend.
‘When the bud bloomed, there was the world’ meant the first time the lotus seed budded, it created the universe and the world. On the second occasion when it budded, it blossomed into the echeveria of fortune; and the existence of echeveria gave birth to a new destiny. What Yun Yang was fortunate enough to experience this time, was the third budding of the Lotus of Endless Fate!
‘Now that fortune has arrived, your destiny is laid.’ The words were almost prophetic in nature.
Yun Yang tried suppressing the excitement he felt but failed miserably. Almost immediately, he returned inward into his subconsciousness to gaze upon the green seedling again, to gain a closer connection to the plant. He realized that the Endless Divine Art was only the first reward that the Lotus of Endless Fate had brought him. Only when he had completed the prerequisite of basic skills and when the first leaf had grown, could he begin to endeavor for more, with the growth of the second leaf.
Yun Yang frowned. How could one hasten the growth of the Lotus of Endless Fate?
In all the teachings, there was never any clue or hint on how to accomplish this. He rested his chin on his palm and began to ruminate on the problem.
“The lotus seed fell from the sky and knocked me out. I then hung it from my neck all this time. Nothing had changed before that deadly battle. I was supposed to have perished during the fight, but I returned fully alive, and the terrible wound I bore on my chest had healed as well. The lotus seed was missing at the time. Could it be possible that the lotus seed had entered my body, and bonded with my blood?”
Stroking his chin, perplexed, Yun Yang continued to ponder, “But it had only gone in, and nothing else had happened… I have not been recovering from my injuries nor have my cultivation base been replenished… until today. I felt a surge of energy when I killed Wu Wenyuan and stood over his dead body.”
“With this energy, only then did I realize the sudden appearance of the lotus seed.”
“Then my dantian revived and my energy returned, and so I began cultivating the Endless Divine Art…”
A hint of morbid enlightenment flashed across Yun Yang’s eyes. He thought about the maxim, “Chaotic wuji, it is the birth of all things; it comes out of nothing and grows into infinity… It absorbs the air of the wronged, soothes the injustice of the innocent, and conducts oneself in clear conscience. The bitter heart of a lotus forms the foundation of life; intention serves as its blade, severing all evil… and within the massacred evil, a lotus seed sprouts. Brilliance shines across the land, dissolving impurities and dispels it to light…”
“Comes out of nothing, grows into infinity… air of the injustice… massacres evil, the lotus seed sprouts…”
It began to fall into place. “Must I kill to obtain energy from the Lotus of Endless Fate?”, Yun Yang mumbled to himself. ”While… massacres evil could mean… to destroy the wicked? As for ‘absorbs air of the wronged, soothes souls of the innocent,’ that’s easier to understand now…”
A voice cut through Yun Yang’s ponderings and brought his thoughts to a halt. “Young master, today is the ninth day of the third month. The memorial ceremony for the Nine Supremes has begun.” Lao Mei was outside, voice tinged with concern for his master. “Today is the anniversary of the heroes’ sacrifice. The emperor and the bureaucrats will arrive at the heroes’ graves in another two hours.”
Yun Yang catapulted back from his subconscious, into the dareary physical realm once again; an agonized look of loss flashed across his eyes.
“Young master, will you be going?”
“Yes, I will.” Yun Yang inhaled deeply; countless scenes and memories of his family flashed through his mind, as he bit his lips in sorrow.
“How could I not send my brothers off? I will attend even if I’m dead!”
1 Chakras (窍穴 Qiào xué): cultivators aim to awaken them to receive energy from the universe, these points are usually situated near glands in the body; not to be mistaken as acupuncture points, they are energy focal centers in the esoteric traditions of Indian religions.
2 Tail chakra (尾闾窍 wěi lǘ Qiào)
3 Sacral chakra (气海窍 qì hǎi Qiào)
4 Perineum chakra (会阴窍 huì yīn Qiào)
5 Core chakra (命门窍 mìng mén Qiào)
6 Crux chakra (绛宫窍 jiàng gōng Qiào)
7 Medial chakra (夹脊窍 jiā jí Qiào)
8 Crown chakra (顶窍 dǐng Qiào)
9 Third-eye chakra (意窍 yì Qiào)
10 Occipital chakra (神窍 shén Qiào)
11 Foundation Qi (元气 yuán qì): lowest cultivation level among martial artists; 元气 itself already means energy/Qi, but ‘Foundation’ is added to allow distinction among levels.
12 Spirit Qi （灵气 líng qì): intermediate cultivation level among martial artists; spiritual Qi can be obtained through Heaven and Earth through meditation.
13 Mystical Qi (玄气 xuán qì): highest cultivation level among martial artists; masters of mystical Qi can perform feats beyond human imagination.
14 Internal strength (内劲 nèi jìn): cultivated energy in a martial artist’s body that could be used for a variety of purposes including healing wounds and expelling poison.
15 Yin (阴 yīn): part of yin-yang, that is duality existing in all things of this universe; yin is the soft counterpart to yang.
16 Echeveria (玉蝶 yù dié): Echeveria is a large genus of flowering plants in the Crassulaceae family, native to semi-desert areas of Central America, Mexico, and northwestern South America.