Having gotten what I needed to get started, I began teaching Mel how to cultivate.
“Why do you describe cultivation levels as numbers?”
“I don’t know the names used in this world, and the names of the world I came from would be just as arbitrary, so I chose numbers. Ten minor levels to each major level makes an ordinary person level 0, and an immortal level 100.”
“Somehow, that doesn’t feel like enough levels to describe an immortal.”
“It probably isn’t. Power growth isn’t linear. A level 20 person may only be twice the level of a level 10, but the power gap is much larger than that. Closer to ten times the power. If a level 10 person has 10 power, then a level 100 person has around 10 billion power.”
“I can’t even imagine that.”
“Yeah, it gets pretty crazy. I’ve seen immortals carve statues out of mountains for fun. I remember one time, someone in the immortal world got angry and carved massive insults into every mountainside cursing some guy named Zhu Bajie. Oh, and that was after covering the sky in insults written in the clouds.”
Hearing Mel’s laugh was a pleasant reward for that old story. Always nice to hear happy laughter. Much better than the cries of despair and misery I so often heard in the past. The only way to truly end the misery of the world, is to change the Heavenly Dao itself. Sometimes I wonder if I should destroy the Dao entirely, but having never seen a world without a Dao, I can’t be sure that wouldn’t just destroy the world. Destroying a world by accident is not something I want to have as part of my legacy. I’ve already got “destroyed a famous natural landmark during a fight” in my legacy.
While Mel cultivated, I also began teaching the path of medicine to Brady.
“The pill quality is even higher now! Plus, I feel like I’ve gained from this too.”
“Pill concoction and cultivation can be done at the same time like this, with both benefiting.”
“Why don’t others do this?”
“It’s less efficient than dedicated cultivation. It’s only useful for medicine makers. If you don’t dedicate your life to medicine, it’s not needed.”
“Yet, I think this means that even if I dedicate my life to medicine, it need not slow down my cultivation!”
“Correct! The path of medicine is a valid path. It just requires a different set of skills.”
“Surely there’s more to it than that. If I dedicated myself to making medicine to speed up my cultivation and used this method, couldn’t I cultivate faster than others?”
“You are right. If the cost were the only issue, that wouldn’t stop the wealthy from pursuing this path. The path of medicine is ideal for making medicine. It is not ideal for combat. The ones who become famous in battle, are the ones who practice the most explosive methods. The path of medicine is too gentle. While you won’t be weak, you won’t be strong either. It is possible for a medicine master to become a battlemaster as well, but it takes more than ten thousand years to reach that level.”
“You say that medicine masters are not weak, but not strong. Which paths are weak?”
“Well… anyone who uses the wrong fighting style for their cultivation path will be weak, such as trying to learn hammer skills while on the path of medicine, but other than that… The path of dreams is weak.”
“Path of dreams?”
“There’s a method of cultivation in which a person is put to sleep for ten thousand years. When they wake, they will already be an ascended immortal. However, while they do gain some training and experience in their dreams if done right, the lack of proper real world experience and lack of connections will result in them being a very weak immortal with mastery of nothing.”
“I never imagined such a thing would even be possible.”
“Yeah, it was invented by someone trying to find a way to help their idiot son cultivate. Last I heard, people were still arguing over whether it was a success or failure. It is the easiest way for a person to cultivate, but the weakness of the end result makes it highly unsatisfying.”
As I studied, and practiced and cultivated, I realized there was a similarity between the crafting method and the cultivation method. A pulse, a rhythm, a timing challenge. This wasn’t a coincidence. If I understood this correctly, this crafting method and this cultivation method could be used at the same time.
Gathering power to one place, and hammering it through. Forging my body and ki, as I forge and shape metals. Time the surge and power right, and the end result of both is better. Training body and mind as I work. Growth and creation at the same time.
No longer do I need to balance my time between cultivation and crafting. They are now the same thing. This is a treasure far more valuable even than what I’d gained before. I already believed I owed that young lady a lot. Now I realize: I owe her everything. Everything I become in this life, will be due to her favor. With what she has given me, I shall rise to a height I’d only been able to dream of before. My dreams, shall be reality!
Random passerby’s view
“What’s going on in there? What’s gotten into that smith’s head?”
“I don’t know, but her laughter is creepy.”
“I feel sorry for her neighbors. It can’t be easy to sleep through that. She’s still hammering away in the middle of the night!”
“And laughing as loudly as her hammering is.”