3 Lifting for Gains

Breakfast with his family followed its normal pattern, with little conversation as everyone prepared to depart for the day. James was still distracted by the warm feeling in his torso, entirely different from the tingling during cultivation but still very present. It stemmed from his dantian, radiating outward, almost as if it was slowly cleansing the area around it.

~I suppose it might be, though not quickly enough for it to be better than nightly cultivation.~

He stood and grabbed his jacket, which he had slipped over the chair while eating. Brushing the left pocket gently to make sure that the Moon Goddess Sutra was still inside, he said his goodbyes and ran out the door.

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<Moon Goddess Sutra Chapter 1, Section 2 - Supplementary Activities>

Due to the time limitations of [Moonlight Absorption], the time of a Moon Goddess Cultivator is best spent engaging in supplementary activities when the moon has not yet risen. A comprehensive list of physical exercises immediately follows this entry, which a dedicated cultivator should execute in order to balance the flow of their purification. The goal is not physical strength, as physical accomplishments of the pre-Yin Body will be insignificant - rather, exertion of the muscles allows the pure Yin energy to flow into them more easily, smoothing the process and making a more pure Yin Body possible. It is in this manner that cultivators with less physical strength possess a significant advantage - weaker muscles tire out more quickly, making the aforementioned process much more successful. Regardless of your physical strength, the following exercises may be adapted through weight changes to successfully exert every muscle sufficiently.

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James glanced through the section as he ran, headed directly towards the gym. The city had a few large gyms scattered throughout, with quality generally increasing as they approached the wealthy quarter of the city. He had no need to go to one of the particularly wealthy gyms, as he was only trying to exhaust his muscles. James approached the entrance of the closest gym: "Golden Bull Gym".

~Is this a gym, or a sect?~

Hesitantly pushing the door open, James was greeted by a flood of light, sound, and smell combined. The harsh ceiling lights of the gym brightly lit every corner of the room. The loud impacts of metal on metal as weights dropped reverberated across the building. The stench of sweat flooded through the open doorway, escaping out into the street. All of this combined created a less than attractive atmosphere, but James was resolute in his desire to cultivate and progressed nonetheless.

"Hi! Are you looking to join our sect-" An extremely buff man approached the doorway, but upon seeing the scrawny form of James his wide grin faded, replaced by an awkward smile.

"I'm just here to use the gym." James broke through the silence before any awkwardness could build, already well-used to such situations in his past attempts to join a sect. The buff man relaxed, the awkward smile once again replaced with a grin.

"No problem! Gym's open 24 hours a day, every day, there should always be a sect member around to keep an eye on things. Membership is 20 bucks a month, a locker in the locker room is another 5 a month."

"I'll just take a month's membership, no locker needed." James handed a twenty dollar bill to the man, who nodded and stepped aside, letting him pass.

"I'll whip up a membership card for you, come see me before you leave and I'll have it ready."

James gave the man his basic information for the card, before thanking him and proceeding into the gym.

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Having found an unoccupied area in the gym, James grabbed a few weights that were light enough for him to lift, and started going through the exercises listed in the Moon Goddess Sutra. They seemed to be pretty standard exercises, including bicep curls, lunges, and similar things that had existed for decades if not centuries. But occasionally James came to an exercise that he had never heard of before, using muscles he didn't even know he had. Several hours passed, and his body slowly became weaker and weaker as he progressed through the exercises. It was 6 pm when James could finally do no more, all strength leaving him as he collapsed to the floor. It was several moments before he could gather the strength to stand, stumbling over to the man from before to collect his membership card.

"You okay, man? Over-exercising is dangerous, you know." The man had a concerned look, handing James his membership card. He nodded in response, mumbling a "thanks" before stumbling out the door and back home.

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James somehow managed to gather the strength needed to open the door to his home, slowly making his way to the dinner table. The rest of his family was already there, happily chowing down on the night's meal. Each of them spared him a worried glance as he walked in, but after waving them off they happily returned to their meals. James pulled up his own chair, and plopped into the seat, exhausted. Beginning to eat slowly, James tried to minimize the risk that he would throw up - though it seemed more likely that he would just fall unconscious.

"You alright, James? You look exhausted." In between mouthfuls, James' mother queried him, still slightly worried.

"I'm fine, mom, just went for a run and overdid it."

"If you say so… I'm glad you're taking some time to exercise, but make sure you don't hurt yourself."

"I won't, mom."

Having consumed all he comfortably could in his exhausted state, James excused himself from the table, heading upstairs to his room. As he walked up the stairs, he slowly removed the purple book from his jacket once more, flipping to the section regarding [Moonlight Absorption] again. With that, he hopped onto his bed, sitting and reading while he waited for darkness to fall.

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