Chapter 5 — Cultivation Consequences
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Kickstarting Cultivation with Yin Essence

  1. Clear your mind.
  2. Breathe. Slowly — in, out. In, out.
  3. Continue breathing until you feel a tug at your aperture.
  4. Open your aperture.
  5. Continue breathing. With each breath in, allow the latent energies into your aperture. With each breath out, expel them. (Note: This will become easier the more essence resides within your aperture.)
  6. Continue until yin essence condenses around the walls of your aperture, forming a silver ocean. (Note: If your essence ocean is discoloured, stop cultivating immediately and follow the steps on page 13 under Expelling Tainted Essence.)
  7. The ideal amount of yin essence for cultivating is 50%. Your options are as follows:
    1. Continue cultivating using this method to gain yin essence from external sources.
    2. Switch to the main, self-sustaining cultivation method (see page 2.)
  8. When your yin essence reaches 50%, switch to the main, self-sustaining cultivation method (see page 2.)



Where looking inside my aperture was strange, cultivating was bizarre. I did feel that tug at my aperture — sort of like a tug on my... consciousness? If that made sense? Opening it, once I felt that tug, felt like allowing air into my lungs for the very first time, but with... my aperture instead of my lungs. For a moment, it burned, and my breathing halted in my surprise — but I caught myself and continued, shakily.

With each breath in, the burn lessened. With each breath out, I felt a strange... feeling of... calm? A feeling of peacefulness, or something — I didn’t really know how to describe it — within my aperture that I hadn’t felt before. Soon, breathing with my aperture became second nature, and I realised that it didn’t actually require breathing with my body, syncing it just made it easier to make it automatic.

I continued for a while — breathe in, breathe out, in, out — and everything else faded into the background. The clattering noises from above? They became a dull rhythm to the cycle of my cultivation. The feeling of extreme cold around me? It became natural. I was cold, but it wasn’t bad. I was just... cold.

Along the red, thorny vines which made up the walls of my aperture, silver droplets began to form. Slowly, at first — very slowly, in fact — but with each passing moment, more droplets formed. It was like watching water condensate on the glass lid of a pot as the water inside neared a boil... except the water wasn’t water, it was a shiny, silvery, faintly bluish substance. Was this yin essence? I could only assume.

What began as droplets collected into puddles, filling divots within the wall of vines. What began as puddles turned into rivers and ponds. What began as rivers and ponds turned into lakes, and then seas...

I didn’t know how much time had passed, but eventually I watched as the last twisted, scarlet vine was submerged beneath the ocean of silver essence. Inside me, somehow, I knew — I didn’t even have to estimate — my aperture was about 10% filled with yin essence.

But my goal wasn’t just to form the silver ocean — it was to get as much progress as possible, and that meant I’d be continuing like this! This was the cultivation method more efficient at producing yin essence, after all.



When I opened my eyes and closed my aperture, it was 50% filled with yin essence, and I had absolutely no idea how long I’d been cultivating. It took me a minute to remember where I was... Right. This kitchen. Underneath a table. Looking back on it... this was probably kind of silly, but... well, it had worked, hadn’t it?

At some point, the clattering from above had stopped, though I hadn’t noticed during my cultivation. But... wait. The rotund man was still there — I could see his legs. He was just standing there, completely still. What was he doing? 

I waited for a minute, just quietly keeping my rhythm, breathing in and out. The cold still wasn’t affecting me, I guess because I’d just been cultivating it into yin essence?

This was weird. He was still just standing there. 

Dude. Come on, get a move on. I needed to sneak back out and get back to my room!

What in the world was the rotund man doing? I waited for another few minutes, but he was still motionless.

Finally, I breathed a quiet sigh. I’d have to sneak out with him standing there. I slowly, carefully uncrossed my legs — clink clink. No! What was that? 

Looking down — god, I was covered in ice crystals! Stupid! I should’ve looked first! 

Nothing I could do, though... Nothing I could do save for learning, by my mistake, the consequences of cultivating cold energy.

I looked up, fully expecting to see the dude staring at me... But... the rotund guy was still standing there, completely still. 

Hmm. Okay, I guess he didn’t hear me. Lucky!

I kneeled, then got on my hands and knees. Even though the door was closer to the right side of the table, I’d sneak out on the left — the right side was blocked by a cupboard. Just had to go around. I took a deep breath... then — here goes nothing — I dashed! 

And promptly slipped and fell on my face, smashing into the leg of the table and making a loud crash. After a moment groaning, I heard... dink. To my side was a knife, impaled into the floor right next to my head. Oh heck! The rotund man had it out for me!

I scrambled back up to my feet, slipping and sliding away from the man, and I chanced a glance back towards the table... and immediately slipped and fell back on my bottom. 

Wait. The dude... he was... he was still just standing there.

Hello? What?

Had I stopped time or something?

I carefully got back up to my feet this time, since the guy pretty obviously still wasn’t moving after that fiasco. I didn’t particularly need to rush. Hesitating a bit, I walked closer, wincing at the bruises I’d gotten from falling all over the place.

Why was it so slippery in here now, anyway? It wasn’t so icey earl—


Oh no.

Did my cultivation freeze the room?

Did I turn this poor dude into a popsicle?

I crossed my fingers as I walked closer. I wasn’t like the demonic vi masters that just killed people willy-nilly. I wasn’t a vi master that treated mortals like bugs! I wasn’t! 

But... no, when I got to the rotund man, I saw the ice crystals on his clothes, and in his hair. I saw the blue tint to his skin. I saw his hand just in the air, gripping the air where he must’ve been holding the knife, before it got jostled out and had fallen on the floor next to me. I saw an uninterested expression still on his face, just... frozen.

Okay. Okay. Deep breaths. Don’t freak out. The expression was stuck on his face, so he had obviously frozen too fast for him to have some kind of reaction to it. When stuff was flash frozen it was supposed to be... umm... thaw-able, right? So like, maybe when somebody found him and got him out of the freezer he’d be fine!

Yeah! That sounded about right. He’d be fine! I was sure he would be.

I took another deep, calming breath. It would be okay.

Then I turned towards the door and saw the six other people I’d frozen.



I made it out of the kitchens pretty easily, probably mostly due to the fact that I’d frozen literally every person that had been in there. Like, there was stuff cooking, still. (Well, burning might be a more apt description.) But they’d all just gone and gotten themselves frozen rather than continuing to cook or going to get help.

Why had they all gone into the freezer? Like, yeah, one or two of them looking for each other or getting curious made sense, but... like, at some point you had to get more cautious, right?

It wasn’t, like, the reason mortals had a reputation of dying young was that they were all just, like... really dumb, right?

Because that would just be silly.

Yet that scene, those six people who’d walked in and instantly frozen... it honestly looked like something out of a Saturday morning cartoon. A couple of them even had goofy expressions on their faces, just frozen in time.

I shook my head to clear my thoughts. Whatever. It wasn’t like there was anything I could do, I was still just a tier zero vi master who’d only just filled her aperture for the very first time. I had a bit more time left in the day... I might as well head back and cultivate some more, but this time using the main cultiva—

Thump. I bumped straight into someone running around a corner, and fell on my bottom again.

“Oh! I’m sorry, little one,” she said, except it was really loud. Oh my god, it was Elder Moon! I could tell precisely because she was so loud... why in the world did she still have Many Echoes Vi enabled?

Wait, no! More importantly, what was I supposed to say? She was gonna find out what I did! “I!” I stammered. “I was hungry!”

Elder Moon blinked. “Oh...kay?” 

This was not going well at all! “The... the food was burning!” I tried.

The woman grimaced and then patted my head. “Sorry, girlie, gotta go,” she said as she dashed off, then muttered to herself, completely audible. “I swear, Elder Snow, if your array malfunctioned again... Why didn’t I already reenter seclusion...” And then she was down the whole hall and out of sight.

I stared towards the emptiness, a bit dazed. She... she believed me? Well... okay, that went better than I expected.

Wait, girlie?


Well... I mean, I guess I was only ten years old, and kids all did look pretty similar. It was probably easy to miss my... well, frankly incorrect body. It made me feel nice, though, a little warm and happy in my tummy, like butterflies.

Finally getting to my feet — ouch, now I had double the bruises — I wandered off towards my room. Somehow I’d gotten through that situation, and I was home free! And Elder Moon was the most powerful vi master in the village, too, so if anyone could unfreeze those... dumb people that’d all gotten frozen... it was her.

After a bit of walking, my mind finally wandered to other things. For example: How was my progress compared to everyone else? Did developing my silver ocean successfully mean that I’d caught up, or was everyone else way ahead? I hoped nobody had advanced a stage yet. I knew advancing through tier zero was supposed to be fast, I was really hoping I’d performed reasonably well compared to the rest of the new vi masters. It really would be for the best if I could become the disciple of a powerful vi master, and they were going to be choosing us based on our performance, after all.

Meandering down the last flight of stairs before the tier zero hall, I watched my feet to make sure I didn’t trip. These steps were rather rickety old wooden ones, and, well, it wouldn’t be the first time someone had tripped.

When I reached the bottom, a high-pitched voice called out, giddily, “Midnight!” 

I looked up. Oh god. Not her. Not again. Morning Rain, standing there once more with her... lackeys...

But then she furrowed her brows. “Wait... who the heck are you?”

I blinked.

She blinked.

Each of her lackeys stood there dumbly.

“Why are you wearing my brother’s robes?” she squinted. “Wait... wait...” and then she snorted, and shook her head. “Midnight... I can’t believe you—” She put her hand to her forehead. “You really did cultivate— I... have no words. Good luck, Midnight. Sincerely. Good luck.”

Then, leaving me in my second daze for the day, she walked past, her lackeys following her close behind. The boy in her group, though — when he went past, he whispered in my ear, “It’s okay, I think you look cute.”

As the sound of the creaky old steps faded, and I overcame my daze, only one thought was running through my mind, repeatedly, like it was a broken record: What the heck did cultivating that yin essence do to my appearance?