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25 Chapter Twenty Five - Breaking the Boundaries of Expectation

    After complaining a bit more, but simply receiving the usual bland look of a man who would not be moved nor alter his mind on such, Dexter flopped down onto the plush shag rug and crossed his legs.  He always felt like such a pillock doing this sort of thing, so if he wasn't meditating with the thick-faced Patrick nor the serene Ren Zexian, he'd only do this hidden in his own bedroom at night.  After all, he's not so stupid as ignoring completely a good thing that he had already experienced some of the benefits.

    His ability's range being just that bit longer and that more potent was just the most obvious one.  He'd felt a little more alert each day and his body moved a bit more the way he wanted it to, like when he was a teenager rather than almost thirty five.  He'd thought that it was due to the fact that his diet lacked regular alcohol (their beer supply was considered a precious resource, not to be drank at leisure) and the fact he no longer smoked, ditching the little sticks of addiction as it was better to find food than drag his team down for a fix.  But since meditating the way Ren Zexian instructed, the old ache in his leg thanks to a broken bone from his early twenties thanks to a traffic accident, no longer bothered him all that much, so he was more disposed to consider that this cultivating thing was actually what had improved his health.

    Closing his eyes, he mumbled beneath his breath the odd terms and imagined that his body contained energy that could be physically manipulated.  He instructed it to head in a certain pattern about his body and as always, he felt a warmth spreading outward from his core.  His mind conjured up an image of a space filled with tiny stars, a bit like a galaxy, but those tiny stars seemed to spark and flash as if they were made of plasma, minute lightning bolts forming a sphere of power.  The tiny stars seemed energised, flashing brightly, blindingly so and they were coiling in random fashion about a centre point in this space.  Some shot forward drawn towards another spot before reappearing a while later in a different location and rejoining the wildly spinning mass.

    Dexter came to realise that the sparks vanished as he began the cycle of meditation and reappeared as he completed it.  Also the sparks that returned seemed tamer, calmer, but would reenergise when rejoining the collective, burning even hotter and worse.  With an inward click of his tongue, he restarted the technique, focusing on each and every word and each and every movement and the Galaxy of plasma bolts span faster, but in a less wild fashion, each rotation becoming more stable, even though they were rushing past at tremendous speeds.  And then suddenly, spirally stars converged at the centre point, turning into a blinding sphere of light before it exploded, causing him to gasp as the space emptied completely and he was thrown from his meditative state.

    "What the ** happened?!" He cursed in complaint as he opened his eyes, his voice sounded rough, dry.  Ren Zexian was sitting in lotus position to one side of him, eyes closed, but withdrew from his own cultivation upon hearing the man's raspy curse.

    "May I?" He asked politely, taking the wrist that was immediately offered and glancing over Dexter's innersea.  The image of a galaxy, spinning calmly and slowly flashed before Dexter's eyes, superimposing itself over the slight smile that appeared upon the other man's face.  "Congratulations," Ren Zexian said, before grabbing a tissue in order to wipe his fingers clean.

    "Hah?"

    "You have stepped into the realm of a secondary cultivator," Ren Zexian advised him.  "You have done well.  It can take the average cultivator several years to cultivate to this grade in the middle realms and yet you have done so in such a short period of time.  It speaks of talent."

    "Yeah?" Dexter questioned.  No one would feel bad when receiving compliments, however in the next moment, the all too honest other added words that deflated his ego.

    "Of course, the circumstances of environment likely have something to do with it."

    Ren Zexian's old realm had not been a land of kindness, there were battles between immortals all of the time and those testing their strength as they fought to grow stronger on the path of cultivation would leave corpses in their wake or perhaps become one themselves ending their journey.  But they were petty battles for the most part, excuses to test themselves or step on others, not a war of survival with bitter battles each day where one scratch could mean their end.  It was a test of mental strength, facing each day knowing it might be their last, smiling despite the horror and sadness.  There was less care about being strong for the sake of it and more care for being strong so they could live and protect others; at least amongst those he had met.  For others... well he had not lived ten thousand years by being naive.

    Dexter clicked his tongue then grimaced.  "There's just one other thing."

    "What is it?"

    "What the ** is all this black stuff all over me?"  Coating his body, or more specifically his skin, was a greasy layer of dark liquid which reeked.  He shuddered realising that not an inch of him was clean, he could even feel it oozing between his toes.

    "Hmm," Ren Zexian hummed as he wiped his fingers with the tissue.  Ah this thin disposal product from this world was so convenient.  Silk handkerchiefs could be pricey and needed care when washing.  "Oh, that would be the first layer of impurities, expelled from your body as unnecessary.  But don't worry.  Over the past couple of days I have had young Nathan and Tyler spare water for a bath for you." A few wrinkles marred his serene face as his nose twitched in displeasure.  "I believe that you are going to need it."
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