10 Chapter Ten - Cultivating or Core Consuming

    Dexter glanced at the man gently holding his wrist between two slender, pale fingers and felt a little strange, despite the doubt in his mind over the other's sanity.  While this person was obviously a man, no one could deny that his long, black hair was like a waterfall of midnight silk and his gentle facade was more alluring than a bunch of dressed up women painting the town red.  Not that you'd take either home to meet the parents.  Dexter was not bent and a bad girl was best for the night not for a lifetime.

    The exotic man's thick lashes fluttered open and he stepped back a pace still wearing that light smile.  Dexter took a deep breath of relief.  Definitely, preferred women.

    "Well?" Patrick beamed at Ren Zexian, curious to know what he had to say.

    "Your spiritual root is assuredly Lightning," Ren Zexian said, calmly.  "There was no doubts that this was true.  It is a single root, you will not gain other abilities.  I think in your case, the Storm Heart Technique would be suited to your cultivation."

    "The what?" Dexter felt as if he'd been transported from a horror to a fantasy flick.

    Ren Zexian repeated the name of the cultivation technique and listed the procedure required of Dexter to follow with chants and hand signs.  "Wait... meditation??  You expect me to meditate? Like one of those new age weirdo's?"

    Patrick chuckled at his expense.  "Well, Dex, it is a new age after all!  What harm can it do?  Or would you prefer to consume zombie cores?"

    "The cores found in the restless dead are heavy with Yin energy," Ren Zexian said, thinking of Lu Tian's core within his interspatial bag.  "Attempting to consume one could be detrimental to your cultivation should the balance of Yin and Yang inside your body be tipped too greatly."  He and Patrick had already cleared up the misunderstanding between them.  Patrick had told him about the fictional works that spoke of consuming zombie cores to improve abilities and strengthen bodies.  However, Ren Zexian did not believe it would be so simple.

    Dexter listened, still in disbelief over the man's claims.  What sort of 'real' man meditated?  And this man spoke so seriously, it was hard to believe that Ren Zexian was actually off of his rocker and speaking nonsense.  He inwardly sighed, thinking that just two months ago, he didn't believe he'd be living through the end of the world either.  With the latter thought still in mind as he lay down in one of the single beds in the second bedroom, he sat up in a cross leg position and turned red in the face as he thought about what he was about to attempt.

    "I must be out of my mind," he muttered to himself.


    The men remained in the bungalow for an extra day as the heavens had decided to open and weep upon the earth.  The rain lasted the entire day and would continue for half the night, before the clouds ceased spilling their contents.

    In that time, nothing more was spoken regarding cultivating.  Ren Zexian had chosen to spend the time deep in meditation, trying to regain even a small amount of his former glory, though he knew it would be a long and arduous path.  But he had never been one to shy away from hard work nor discipline.

    While he was cultivating, the men in the squad plotted their destination.  An American army base that happened to be around forty minutes journey from their location.  They had no doubt that the place would be functioning as a safe haven to any survivors, though if in the event that the men stationed there had failed to secure it, they would journey to another military base that they were aware of some two hours in distance.

    Not everyone was happy with the decision.  "Tyler," Dexter had sighed, when the man protested.  "Not every American is gonna be like your ex-girlfriend.  Get over it."

    "Yeah, those guys not only won't date you for your credit card," Harry had teased, "it's the apocalypse, they can't leave you in debt!"

    Although the rain stopped by morning, the sky remained overcast and the zombies were bolder.  They had lost the scent of the men due to the heavy rain, but still wandered close, to where they'd heard loud sounds in days prior.  They seemed slower, possibly weighed down by their heavy, wet attire, but it did not stop them from attempting to seek fresh flesh and blood.  The squad ignored them, they were not close enough to cause trouble and began the journey to the American Base.

    Ren Zexian ran his eyes over Dexter's body and sensed that he had taken his first steps to becoming an immortal Cultivator.  He seemed to have taken well to it, if his small spurt in development was anything to go by, though his balance was a tiny bit askew.  If they were within his old world, he could ignore these small imbalances, they did not mean much.  A woman knew not to cultivate too much during the night and a man not to over cultivate in the day, at least until they were preferably of Secondary cultivation, when their bodies could naturally maintain the balance.  However, this world's air was already thicker with Yin than it should be and continuing to cultivate without care could lead to deviation and ultimately becoming trash.  So Ren Zexian offered  Dexter some advise.

    "You should cultivate during the day sometimes," he informed him.  "Otherwise your cultivation will deviate."

    "What's he talking about?" Tyler demanded.  He was a passenger in the truck bed this time, while Winston drove and Paul sat beside him.

    "Never you mind," Dexter quickly said, his face flushing red with embarrassment.  He was not going to admit that he had meditated two nights in a row, due to his curiosity over Ren Zexian's words.  Only if pushed would he admit that he felt as if his ability was a bit stronger, as if he could produce twelve electrical bolts rather than just ten.  Of course, others cannot keep their mouths shut.

    "Ren Zexian taught Dexter a cultivation technique to make his powers stronger," Patrick revealed, cheerfully, ignoring the murderous glares thrown his way.

    "Ridiculous," Tyler muttered, rolling his eyes heavenward.

    "Hey," Patrick moved closer to Ren Zexian and thrust forward his wrist.  "Can you tell if I have any abilities or if I can gain some?  Do I have those root things?"

    Ren Zexian obliged him, placing his fingers upon the other's pulse and sending his awareness into the other's body.  "You have two sleeping roots.  I would need to try awaken them to advise you what they were.  It is not guaranteed that I would be successful, however."

    Patrick was startled as were the others around them.  He laughed almost nervously and squeaked out; "Really?"  Ren Zexian nodded without deceit.

    "Congratulations?" Harry said, unsure what was going on.  Was the Asian man suggesting that Patrick could develop powers?  Tyler snorted in disbelief.

    "Can you help me now?" Patrick asked Ren Zexian excitedly, thinking of these two roots.  Having two was better than one, right?   However, the latter shook his head.

    "This is not the place to attempt such things," he replied, "but later, perhaps."

    "Yeah, at least wait until we get to the base," Dexter drawled.

    "Hey guys..." Paul called out from in front.  "We have a small problem!"

    "A small problem?" Tyler asked as the truck slowed down to a halt.  He stood up and glanced forward and cursed.  "How the ** is that a small problem?"

    Before them was a mass of grotesque looking cows, half rotted, with bones visible in places and foam dripping from their mouths.  One cow's udder was dangling on stretched flesh, it's green-grey teats scraping across the ground.  There was a series of mooing sounds, some sounding as more guttural than others, as throats were not always intact and almost as one, the herd turned towards them.
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