Hong Zhao bathed in the pond while keeping a close eye on his prize. Not only was the panther his food for the next day, but it was also going to be his clothing. He was getting tired of being naked in this world. He remembered how quiet the panther was, were it not for the sticks breaking behind him, he wouldn't have even realized that it was there. Its hide would make great clothing. He was already trying to remember how to make equipment from before.
Hong Zhao may not remember what his name was before, but he did remember his training. He was Special Forces before he had become a spy. He remembered the months that he was thrown in the middle of the wilderness and expected to survive with absolutely nothing brought with him.
He may not know much about the vegetation in this world, but he did remember all of the plants and herbs he could use back in his own were he desperate for food. Instead, he focused on the panther.
Being clean now, Hong Zhao left the pond and went towards his prize. He summoned his qi claws and began to carve the skin from the panther. It was a fine black pelt that didn't even shine if the sun were to hit it. "This is a perfect material to sneak in."
Having carved the pelt from the beast, he began gutting it. He placed the organs and intestines into a neat pile near him. When he had separated the meat from the rest, he began to collect wood for a fire. He also grabbed some bark from a tree to use as kindling.
Hong Zhao started a fire and set up numerous sticks of meat to roast over it. After his meal had begun to cook, he could smell a rich aroma of the wonderful meal. He twisted each stick, ensuring that each side cooked evenly. After about an hour, his meal was ready. The rich golden brown meat sizzled on the stick.
Taking one of the sticks, Hong Zhao took a bite of his prize and gasped. More energy entered his body and joined the blood and gore he had sucked up before. His body felt as if it were brimming with energy. With each bite, he felt more and more full, not in his stomach, but in his dantian.
Having finished the piece of meat, Hong Zhao knew that this was no ordinary animal. Sitting in the lotus position, he began to cultivate. Sending a mental projection of himself to his dantian, he gasped in amazement as he saw the gruesome sight of the blood and gore soaked qi. He knew he was going to have to refine it before it ruined his cultivation base.
Hong Zhao began rotating the qi within his dantian slowly at first, but it built up speed gradually. Soon it began to spin faster than clothes in a washing machine. He could see the blur of red within the qi only a little. Over time, the qi took on its usual glistening white form. He saw no more impurities, yet the qi continued to gather speed.
While cultivating, a night and full day passed without him noticing. To him it felt like hours. When he opened his eyes, he noticed the sun was in the same position it had been when he started. "That can't be right." His stomach growled slightly and he realized he was hungry again. "I've been cultivating for the whole night?" He grabbed another piece of meat and stuck the rest in the storage ring.
While eating, he tested the changes in his body. As he cultivated, he knew much more qi had gathered and funneled into his dantian while he refined what he had gained from the battle. "I guess the name was devouring qi claws for another reason." He knew he was going to get tired of talking to himself soon.
He still wasn't second star student rank yet, but he could tell he was much closer. "If I continue this way for a time, I should be able to break through fairly fast." He couldn't help but look at the ring Lan had given him. He wondered what the next door within the ring would give him.
Snapping himself out of his thoughts, Hong Zhao looked over to the pelt that he carved. It was definitely large enough to make something out of it, but he couldn't decide what. If he were to cut it into sections, he might be able to make pants, but then maybe nothing else. Instead, he decided a robe would have to do. If it rained, he wouldn't have good enough cover to stave off sickness. "I'm going to need to make a shelter too."
Looking at the clearing in the woods, he decided a cabin would do nicely, that is, after he was no longer naked.
Hong Zhao set to work making his robe. It took a few hours, but the result was what he expected. It was a long black robe that fit quite loosely, partially to give him room to grow and partly because he didn't want to lose any of the materials.
He wanted to be able to use the robe to meld with the darkness, so he burned a few bones into a charring black before adding them as buttons to close the robe around him. A large billowing hood hung behind him. He had ensured it was large enough to cover his face, that way he was only a shadow at night.
Having finished, he looked at his reflection in the pond. He was the visage of death itself. Putting up the hood, it was almost as if he were just a standing shadow. "Good, maybe I'll have a full set of clothing after a few more of these."
He then activated his devouring qi claws and began cutting down a few trees. It took another few days, but he was able to make himself a small cottage where he'd be able to stay warm and safe at night. On the inside, he piled leaves where he would sleep. "I'm going to have to extend this cottage in the future, I'm not going to be satisfied living in a shack." He wrinkled his nose in disapproval. Luckily the wood he chopped resembled the pine tree from his world and gave off a nice scent.
Over the past few days Hong Zhao had already finished off the rest of the shadow panther to the point of emptying out the skull and creating a bowl. within the forehead of the beast, he noticed a shiny black pearl. "This might be important." There was just something different about the pearl. He had hunted many animals back in his own world and dissected each part for use, and not one animal had this pearl. He put it in his storage ring without a second thought.
Having gone through his entire supply, Hong Zhao waited until night time before putting up his hood and melding with the darkness around him. This time was slightly easier to find the shadow panthers. Since the robe of the shadow panther he had already killed had the scent of the beasts, it was harder for them to track his scent, making it easier for him to sneak up on them.
Following the example of the last success, Hong Zhao found a stick on the ground and threw it into the clearing. Ten minutes later, he made it back into his camp with yet another adult shadow panther. His qi yet again swirling with blood and gore. Instead of cleaning his meal first, he put the panther within his storage ring and sat down to cultivate. If he ate his meal first, he would be just as hungry when he stopped cultivating. If he were to wait to consume the beast meat, he might be able to limit the cultivation time.
Three hours later he opened his eyes. He could feel his glistening white qi slowly and contently swirling around his dantian.
Hong Zhao began a new routine. He would cultivate, then go hunt for a shadow panther to slaughter for food and to practice his new abilities. He would then go back to his camp, cultivate, cook and eat. Over a few months, he had a full shadow panther suit. He made boots, gloves and pants.
Having gotten tired of his cramped cottage, he made it instead into a shower room. He used a stomach of a slain shadow panther to hold water in order to shower. Instead, he built a much larger structure which had multiple rooms. He also made a bed out of panther fur, and many chairs with a table. Given a few months, he had made this small cottage into a place he could have company. He didn't exactly know when Lan was coming back after all.
After having bested so many of the panthers, Hong Zhao had begun to notice a certain reluctance to follow small noises out of their clearings. Instead, he began to pick off the panthers within their own home. In such little time, the predators became the prey.
Though he still had not broken through to the second star rank, he knew he was close. His dantian was full to the brim with qi and seemed to be just waiting for something before breaking through. Even though it was reluctant, Hong Zhao felt as though he had almost mastered the abilities that Lan had given him for his first rank.
Every beast that he killed, he took the strange pearls he found and put them in the one star student rank door of his ring, since that was the only place unlocked in the spacious ring. The once large room with a single item became littered with the strange pearls. One would probably think he had a hording problem, yet something just told him to keep storing them. Perhaps Lan would explain what they were when she got back, if she got back.
Hong Zhao had become increasingly agitated towards Lan. She had transported him to this world, given him a body of a five year old child, then took off like she didn't even do anything. If he saw her again, he would have to have a talk with her about proper host behavior.
From the massive amounts of shadow panthers he had slain, he had an odd appearance for a child. His muscles were slim and corded. He didn't have a single ounce of fat on his body. His hair had grown slightly and began to irritate him. He didn't understand how men on his world would enjoy long hair. All it was good for was getting in his way. He almost had a claw to his throat once because a strand of hair got stuck in his eye while in battle.
A part of Hong Zhao realized that he was at his max strength for the area he was in. If he wished to get stronger, he would have to venture out and explore. He knew that if he did, it would be harder for Lan to find him, but he knew deep down that she would not be back for him for a long time. She had given him the ring, that was the gift that would keep him alive for now. Other than that, she did say that she wanted to see how someone like him would survive in this world. That didn't mean that she had to be with him at all time. He decided that he would live in this world, as he was expected to. When he got strong enough and if he wanted to, he might go back to earth and see how things had changed in the last hundred years.
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