I felt the mana surging around me, its feeling was bliss as I tried to control its flow through the cultivation technique that Silas had shown me after he returned to the Blackwood Manor a few days ago. I couldn’t make anything out of it, the mana was flowing in different rhythms and only sometimes could I perceive the way it was attracting to my abdomen. Whenever it would naturally flow to me I could feel all my senses tingling as if trying to teach me the way to control the flow, each time greatly enhancing my sense towards the mana which over time only increased in its intensity of attracting to me.
When circulating the cultivation technique I could over time start to smell the varied scents of the wildlife and fauna next to my family’s manor which was surrounded by tall trees with a dark bark that made the surrounding area dark. I’ve stayed at the Blackwood Manor for over a year at this point as just two months ago we celebrated my eighth name day. I don’t know when my real name day is, my family decided to host it after I’ve stayed for a full year in the manor with them. My memory of my time before arriving at the Blackwood Manor is filled with vague memories that only make my mind ache whenever I think of them.
The Blackwood Manor was situated in the middle of the Willowing Woods which is known for its vastness and resources which supplied the villages within its influence. Another source of great attraction was the mana particles that were produced by this forest, from what I was told it had great increases in darkness and nature particles compared to the basic composure of mana outside of the Blackwood Forest, this made it a great attraction for low-rank mages to stay at to cultivate.
On the other hand, the higher mana concentration has led to the Willowing Woods being higher in monsters stalking the woods and preying on the villagers who relied on the area for their survival. The Blackwood Manor had a small team of guards sworn to patrol the surrounding area day and night to keep those villagers safe.
Because of this, we were well off as a branch of lower nobility distantly related to Count Cornwood, the reigning noble in the Willowing Woods and its surrounding areas. My family put me through mandatory classes in writing and reading which were put together for all nobility in the area, however, I more so enjoyed the physical training I had with Uncle Darius. I would train with wooden swords in the manor’s courtyard with other guards under my uncle’s command where everyone would complement my progress despite my age.
My progress in my swordsmanship was nothing compared to the speed of the cultivation of my core, despite only being under the tutelage of Silas for just over three weeks, I had exceeded any expectations he had of me and I was approaching the peak of the formation stage. I sat there with my legs crossed, focused on guiding the surging mana around me to my abdomen area where I would try to forcefully accept it through my pores and accumulate it.
At first, I was only able to accumulate a small amount of mana, nowhere near what I could do today. Yet, it would take up so much of my concentration that I would sometimes forget to breathe and suffer a backlash by the mana losing its guidance, I would feel a stinging pain when I would try to accumulate the mana. However, after the first week, the amount of mana I could accumulate before losing focus increased over four times!
The first time I lost focus with so much mana I received the most amount of pain I ever felt, Silas would always look over me when I tried to use the cultivation technique and tell me to simply go again after I caught my breath and regained my focus. This was a painful process for anyone attempting to become a mage.
By the third week, my schedule was fairly simple. I would wake up and train with Uncle Darius before eating breakfast which would consist of porridge with sometimes the addition of nuts and fruits found within the forest. After breakfast, I would set out to my classes which would take about an hour by carriage, during this time I would secretly work on trying to control the mana around me to increase my perception of it and I would attempt to follow the cultivation technique to a lesser extent than I would in the evening with Silas watching over me even though he specifically told me to not use the cultivation technique without him watching over me.
Now here I was. Sitting in meditation with my legs crossed as usual in the manor’s study. During the ride back from my reading and writing lessons I felt as if the mana within my body which I was bringing on was being attracted to one specific spot and starting to form into a solidified core, this meant I was reaching the peak of the Condensation stage despite only cultivating for just over three weeks at this point.
During my first attempt at using the cultivation technique with Silas watching he noticed what was happening. What I heard next surprised me.
“Again, this time bring in as much ambient mana as you can. Disregard the pain.”
This was a change from the usual “Again.” which signified that I was close to forming my core, I knew I was just one step away. I quickly wiped the sweat off my forehead and went right back to circulating the mana into my abdomen. I started slow as always, guiding the ambient mana attracted to me to my abdomen at a speed that I could control comfortably before attempting to speed up the process. Slowly I could feel the burning sensation throughout my abdomen which as time kept going made me very uncomfortable. Moments later I felt like screaming from the pain yet I kept circulating the cultivation technique in hopes of forming my core here.
Eventually, the burning sensation made me lose focus on my breathing and I lost control of the ambient mana entering my body as it spread out around me. I could hear a sigh coming from Silas knowing that I had failed my current attempt. Before he had the chance to say anything I disregarded the pain just like he told me.
I yet again started circulating the cultivation technique and attempted to regain control of the ambient mana.
With that small break, I was able to catch my breath, and controlling the flow of mana became much easier than it was before. I knew if I failed here I would suffer a big backlash due to my recklessness, I grit my teeth and continued absorbing the mana beyond what I should be able to control. Yet again the pain was so great I was subconsciously groaning, my body was wet all over from sweat yet I was one step away from having absorbed enough mana for it to form my core!
Silas was watching with amazement how an eight-year-old boy was one step away from forming his mana core despite only cultivating for just over three weeks. “Unbelievable. It’s almost as if he’s blessed by mana.” Looking at his progress he speculated that if he perseveres through the pain he’ll be able to condense his core and break through the formation stage.
Pahhhhhhh, I opened my mouth as I started drawing in big breaths. When I did it, I could slightly feel the presence of something akin to a seed in my abdomen. The burning pain had suddenly disappeared when my core had formed, I could feel the presence of mana within my body as I inspected myself.
In the atmosphere I could feel mana much more clearly and it was now constantly always attracted to me. If I were to use the cultivation technique now I could easily take in over double the amount of mana that I just did.
“Good job, Kane. I don’t know how you managed, but you did.” I could see Silas trying to hide his smile but I didn’t mention it. “Go wash up and meet me in Victor’s office.”
I nodded with a smile on my face, I had reached the condensation stage earlier than Silas said I would reach it by about six months since I started which was still nothing compared to the fact that I was still nearly two to three years faster than other nobles in our kingdom.