5 Chapter Five - Poison Core

    Ren Zexian glanced at the handful of wandering corpses scattered about the place.  It was not that he hadn't seen undead nor walking corpses before; he had lived for 10,000 years after all.  He had seen the rise and fall of the Puppet sect, demonic cultivators that used the bodies of commoners and cultivators as weapons and servants.  They preferred using cultivators, stealing the cultivation of those deemed unworthy before refining their bodies into puppets, but commoners could still not escape their whims.

    And then there were those who had died with regrets, ghosts without physical form lamenting their fate, occasionally turning demonic, some even forming fog like bodies or feeding on the living.  Not to mention the mindless corpses that wandered through graveyards as their burial site had been disturbed by plundering thieves or natural disasters.   However, unlike those corpses, these creatures seemed to salivate from the sight of him.  They moved with awkward pace directly as he appeared, their rotting arms reaching for him, their throats producing nonsensical sounds and mouths moving.

    Ren Zexian instructed his sword to rise above their reach, then carefully glanced down at them to examine them.  Generally speaking, they were all green to grey, with slack jaws and black fingernails.  Some had bloodshot eyes, others had empty sockets, though one undead being's eye was drooping low onto its cheek hanging by a thread of unhealthy looking tissue.  Another had lost its arm below the elbow.  They wore some sort of garments, but they were stained with bodily fluid and dirt, so Ren Zexian could not say how they might have originally looked nor what they were made of.  One wore some sort of yellow hat partially on his head that looked as hard as metal.  The only other thing he felt should be noted was that they all had a certain wound, like bite marks or uneven chunks had been removed from their once whole flesh.  The skin about the wounds were oozing black liquid and looked quite nasty.

    Having examined them thoroughly, he jumped off of his sword creating a distance between them and called to the weapon which flew into his grip.  Then, as the living corpses tottered over to him, he removed all five heads in one deadly swing.  The grey skinned creatures crumbled to the floor.  Ren Zexian flicked the black blood and pus off thoroughly from the silver of his blade before sheathing it.  He then made his way to the open doorway to leave the strange building.

    As he exited, he became distracted by the heavy yin energy in the air and another undead appeared, this one swift and silent in its approach and caught him unawares.  It bit down onto his arm, though it was only for a moment for Ren Zexian pierced its brain with a shard of spiritual energy in the form of a piercing wind arrow.  His attacked cleanly swept through the rotten flesh and hit something at the stem, which was pushed out of the back of the head of the being as it fell.  The man reached down and picked up the jewel like object and found it to be like a core.  What startled him more was that he sensed a familiarity when holding it.

    However, something else caught his attention, the bite upon his arm was turning black and something had invaded his blood.  He cursed and wrapped his energy about the wound.  Then he leapt up onto the roof of the building so that he would not be disturbed as he meditated.  With a exhalation of breath, he closed his eyes and used his inner eye to view the sea of energy within him.  It was quiet like an abundant, glassy pool, without ripple.  With one mental hand he stirred up the pool until it churned and he pushed the stormy waters throughout his meridians and his body and began chasing the foreign entity in his blood.

    The virus was already corrupting his internal organs, infecting them with volatile Yin energy.  Yin energy in itself was not a poison, it was naturally formed in women, in the cool night air and produced as part of death.  It was as much part of the cycle of life and death as Yang energy.  Without one, the other could not exist.  However the virus in his body was disrupting the balance of energies in his body and the amount of Yin was too much, causing the corruption that would most likely alter his body into a state of living death.

    The virus seemed to sense his strong internal energies and swiftly fled.  Each time he thought he had caught it, it slipped from his grasp while he also removed the taint upon his organs.  It was tenacious, his energies could not destroy it and if he paused for even a heartbeat, it began to attack his body once more, resuming the cycle.  It was all he could do to keep it from his brain.

    He could also not remove it via it's entry point as the wound was already beginning to close now that the virus was not within it.  He chased the infection for the remainder of the night and the whole of the following day.  But even as a man who had cultivated to the peak of the Denary level, he knew he could not continue this futile endeavour indefinitely.

    The idea pained him, but he felt that he had no other choice.  He had not performed this action since creating his immortal golden core, who would feel the need to, as it would set them back countless levels?!  It was said that the only purpose for creating an additional or silver core was to fool an enemy aiming for the former or to reach the forgotten levels of cultivation, but the latter was deemed just a myth, so he knew of none who tested the theory.  He split the spiritual pool into three parts and used two to make one last sweep through his body, cornering the virus to just above his stomach chakra.  The energy then circled the virus, but did not touch, for it had escaped before when he had tried to use his energies upon it.  Then with a heavy heart, he condensed his energies around it.

    He gasped in shock as the second core was formed, it was painful, he had not expected it to be so.  He examined the silver core and his eyes rose in surprise.  Unlike his golden core, which was smooth and uniform, floating above his sea of consciousness, this core was half tainted and half pure, like a Yin yang symbol, but without the eyes of the other.  The pure portion seemed to be keeping the tainted portion in balance, however even though it was small, he could sense the yin of this core slowly corrupting its yang.  He dreaded to think what would happen if it turned entirely to yin.  This could only be considered a poison core.

    He glanced over the remaining pool of energy and sighed.  He was barely above a warrior with tertiary cultivation now.  Who knew that one undead corpse's bite could do so much damage?  He wondered how it had managed to pierce through the diamond hardness if his godlike body and then recalled the core of the creature and removed it from his pocket.

    He gasped.  No wonder it could!  That restless corpse had once been Lu Ting, one of the survivors of Eld Dein!  How could such a thing be possible?  The golden core of the former Septenary Cultivator, shone in his hand was a watery blue and unable to reveal its secrets.
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