1 Born and Dead

A ghost stood in a cave full of nursing wolf pups. His eyes narrowed, and he kicked at a pebble only for his foot to pass through it harmlessly. His eyes leveled on one of the wolf pups, it was a black wolf pup with a white patch on its head. The ghost went about pacing around the cave.

"Ouroboros, why the hell am I incorporeal instead of inhabiting one of those pups?" Jack asked his temporary AI.

His incorporeal pacing had gone unnoticed to among the nursing puppies or the tired bitch that just birthed them. His forehead creased as thoughts plagued him. Embarrassment consumed his thoughts, he failing to possess a new body, despite having a system, his patients was running out. "How did I fail?" Jack shouted his question at the calm AI.

"You haven't failed, the vessel just wasn't up to the level it required for full possession. You are clearly tied to this world. Otherwise, we would need to find a new universe and go through the reincarnation process once more." Ouroboros said. Jack cocked his head to the side and thought about his vessel. When he focused, he could feel something from the pup.

The taste of warm milk falling down his throat, the new intriguing smells, and warmth. That was all the data he collected from his host. To be exact, it was piling up in files for his later use.

"Why did it happen?" Jack asked before throwing his hands in the air.

"The vessel's mind was too weak to maintain your consciousness. Normally such functions would be taken over by the soul, except your soul is too weak to maintain multiple programs at once. Thought partitioning is a technique you do not possess. This is your first world after all." Ouroboros said.

"Ok, so I'm here attached to this wolf. You said this was a cultivation world, why do they look like normal wolves?" Jack asked.

"This is a cultivation world. Wolves like most animals are born with their own cultivation techniques. Inborn techniques always gather essence in some way. This essence once acquired in great enough quantity can be infused in the host's body. In this world the phenomenon is called rank up. From birth their bodies passively use the technique. In the case of wolves, they extract a slight amount of essence from everything they consume. The more essence in what they consume the stronger the wolf will become. I assure you the bitch is much stronger, faster, hardier, and more intelligent than a normal wolf from the standard earth." Jack took in the information and continued to pace. An idea entered his thoughts.

"Can I manipulate the essence within the wolf and carry out cultivation techniques within my host's body?" Jack asked as a smile spread across his ghostly visage.

"Yes, but you currently have no techniques it is your body not just a host. Part of your soul inhabits the animal." Ouroboros said.

"I still have a gold, a silver, and a bronze ticket right from the beginner's gift?" Jack asked then checked his inventory for the three skill lotto tickets. They were sitting in a slot each. His system points were currently 0. System points were needed to purchase new items such as skill lotto tickets, upgrades to existing skills, and items sold by the system.

"Are you certain you want to use your tickets on your first host? What if it dies here, you will be in another world with skills based on the essence of this world? It could make all future worlds a struggle." Ouroboros counseled. Jack paced faster trying to drive nonexistent blood to his brain faster.

"Set the filters to cultivation techniques for absorbing essence based on this world. Use the golden ticket for this one. We will save the other tickets for another time." Jack ordered. Divine, mythical, and legendary skills were removed from the possibilities thanks to the filters. The limit to the potential of the skill became merely epic. Still even an uncommon was many times more powerful than the mere passive cultivation the pup was born with.

3

2

1

Bing!

Technique acquired

(Super Super Rare) SSR

Dragon Cultivation

Description: The most common passive skill a dragon possesses. Through trial and error, the monks of the BRA (Beast Research Association) have crafted a universal copy of the passive cultivation of dragons. This technique was lost when the dragons decided to censor the sect and researchers.

The acronym was weird as fuck, but the skill was a step in the right direction. He walked over to the little nursing pup and closed his ghostly eyes. Alright that pup had a little essence absorbed already from the milk. It processed the milk and took the essence from it passively just as it should do. It wasn't the runt thank whatever deity runs this plane and it wasn't deformed.

When he learned the skill, it transplanted the how's and why's of the skill directly in his mind. As time went on Jack could feel it dump into his long-term memory and filed it under passive cultivation techniques. No, his mind wasn't really a computer but mentally filing things away for later was an exercise to maintain his sanity.

He dumped his consciousness within the body of his fragile wolf pup avatar. Jack's mind synergized with his soul fragment within the wolf pup. It gave him the freedom to do as he pleased. This was important, if the vessel fought him, he would have to adjust his plans. The amount of essence within the wolf pup didn't amount to much. For now, it was inert.

The sum of his knowledge on essence and cultivation was based upon Ouroboros and the dragon cultivation technique. From those sources, he knew essence enhanced the body only slightly when inert. To gain the full benefits of essence a technique, ritual, or refinement process was needed.

A simple wolf could become a beast, when the essence within their body gained enough mass to cause a cascading effect. From there the essence becomes liquid and flowed through the beast's bloodstream. This causes a passive mutation effect that changes a common animal into cultivating animals or beast. It was Jack's goal to cause this cascading effect ASAP.

Within the vessel, Jack collected what essence he could. This essence was just as much Jack's as it was his vessel's. Through his knowledge of dragon cultivation, he created a small ball of essence then wrapped a string of essence around the ball. With the string at the ready, he attached the it to the ball of essence, and spun the ball. This created a ring around the ball. From here there was nothing to do other than keep the ball spinning. The pup slowly took a breath choking and sucking milk down the wrong pipe.

Through the gasping and hiccupping, essence slowly filled the pup's lungs and drifted in to add to the ring. Once he was sure the spinning essence magnet wouldn't stop, he eased himself out of the pup's body.

"That was foolish. You could have destroyed your avatar." Ouroboros said.

"This will gather essence to it faster. Do you have a problem with my actions?" Jack challenged.

"It wasn't necessary, it would have survived and strengthened. In a few days, it would have been safer to try it out." Ouroboros added.

"I don't want to wait here and watch the animals, shit, piss, and fuck. I'm a ghost linked to the body of a wolf pup. Things need to change. Its better to get it over with." Jack yelled and glared down at the pup's body. It was sucking essence, like a drain in a sink. Still, he doubted it would cascade anytime soon.

"Be that as it may, you have eternity and multiple worlds. Dying here won't be the end." Ouroboros said. Jack rolled his eyes at the system's words.

Jack didn't feel immortal, he felt as weak and defenseless as a puppy in a cave. Who's to say the mother won't get hungry and eat them? There is also a chance of parvo.

His grasp on this world was strenuous at best. Ouroboros may not be concerned but immortal AI rarely had much to worry about. Jack could only imagine all his brothers out in the infinity growing strong, while he stood in a cave pacing and waiting for his avatar to grow enough smarts for Jack to begin occupation.

"Ouroboros show me how long before the little Jack cascades." Jack ordered.

Little Jack

Age 3hours

Species: Hill Wolf

Cultivation techniques: Hill Wolf (Passive) Dragon (passive)

Evolve points (10/1000) +5/hour

Essence stored (10) +5/hour

"This is a world of Qi, why does he have essence instead of qi?" Jack demanded.

"Essence must be converted into qi through rituals or techniques." Ouroboros said.

"So, you're saying there is a limit to how powerful my vessel can become regardless of how much essence he acquires." Jack said. He wanted to do a lot of things, like hitting his head against a wall and kicking the damn rock that his leg has passed through for the 100th time. "How much qi is required to make a system point." Jack asked.

"100,000qi is required to make a single system point. Much less than is required to make a mortal immortal." Ouroboros cheerfully stated. If he could choke out the AI he would. He hit a wall watching his hand pass through it painlessly.

"Alright, I'm calm now, this is only the first day right. Techniques like dragon cultivation grow stronger with use. He just needs more essence to draw more essence. Eventually, it won't be reliant on breathing." Jack said. He continued to pace feeling his feet dip under the floor of the cave. Staying above ground was difficult.

"Are you alright?" Ouroboros asked sincerely.

"Fine, I'm fine. I can wait."

He couldn't wait, he paced more thinking about what could be out there. Sleep couldn't take him. Spirits couldn't sleep. He couldn't go too far away from the body. As a weak spirit, Jack couldn't venture far from his vessel. The solution was obvious, he needed to enhance his soul. Having something like that to do would also keep him occupied.

"Activate the silver ticket for soul cultivation anything will do don't add anymore filters." Jacks said.

"With only one filter mythical skills are available. You have a 1 in 1,000,000 chance to get a mythical skill in the soul category." Ouroboros said.

3

2

1

Bing!

Technique acquired

rare

Hungry Ghost Cultivation

Description: A passive and active skill built to improve weak souls. This skill was created by a necromancer that lost his body to a curse of his own design. Unwilling to fade into oblivion he invented this skill to heal his damaged soul and eventually crafted a new body for himself.

Active: the user draws the souls of much weaker creatures from their bodies.

Passive: The user draws the souls of lesser life forms upon their death into the user's spectral cloud for processing.

The knowledge settled in gently. It wasn't perfect for his situation, but it was a start. He knew just what to devour for his first test. He looked down on the puppies nursing from the bitch.

Placing a hand on the runt, he slowly combed over the wolf letting his spectral hand slip through the wolf's thin fur. Everywhere his hand touched fleas died. The vermin covered all the puppies draining much needed nutrients from their bloodstreams.

How could a flea's soul measure to a human's, even one as weak as Jack's? It was a simple matter to kill the fleas in their hundreds. Each one added a very small soul to Jack's spectral cloud for processing. The lives of fleas were nothing to Jack and he easily ripped through the scant memories and claimed the scant amount of power.

"Ouroboros how long before my soul gets stronger?" Jack asked.

Jack's soul

Age 32years

Species: Human Soul

Techniques: Hungry Ghost Cultivation

Spirit Techniques: Spirit Sense, Pressure

Soul State: Stable

Soul Rank: Weak Spirit 2 of 5 to lesser Spirit

Milestones

3 out of 100 to spirit sense

(SP) Spirit Points: 3

"Could the fleas steal essence as well from the pups." Jack asked.

"They are stealing 80% of the essence their host absorbs. Since wolves obtain essence through consumption their blood carries essence processed to be stored. Without fleas the pups will grow faster and gain more essence. Their chances for survival have drastically increased." Ouroboros said.

Jack finished clearing the runt and moved on to each puppy in order. Soon all the fleas were dead, and Jack collected another 15SP. He still had the mother to clean. She was much larger than the puppies and it stood to reason she would have many more fleas.

He waved his hands as the little devils leapt off the mother on to the newly flea free puppies. Jack passed his hand over the bitch in a few sweeps and felt the number of souls he took increase by a factor of 5. In a single swipe he took 5 times more flea souls than all 6 puppies combined. He quickly processed the souls and his SP quickly increased to 108.

His soul became a little denser and suddenly he could feel the souls all around him. Jack's SP went down to 8 which sucked but he could feel the souls of the puppies including his own little spark in little Jack. As for the fleas, he could feel hundreds of thousands just on the bitch. That little bit he took in before were the tip of the iceberg.

"You should let your soul rest. The soul is the one thing that isn't immortal." Ouroboros said. Jack looked at his hands and noticed for the first-time little cracks all over his body. "Soul arts are dangerous especially for weak souls. Let your soul heal for a day. There isn't any rush." Jack nodded and busied himself sensing for the souls around them.

He could feel bugs above them, the cave was much larger than he originally thought. There were several small rooms like this one. Once section of the cave had a stream running through it. There were also much larger souls further in. From what he could sense they had near human intelligence. Could they be cynocephalus?

Greek legends aside this was a massive underground cave system. Jack could sense many packs of wolves around the area. They couldn't sense him, so everything was fine for now.

The day passed like he expected it to. It was boring, a massive pack of wolves walked in with half grown pups and some only 6 to 8 weeks by his reckoning. That might have been cause for some entertainment, except they came to sleep and drag a deer in for the mother bitch. She left her pups to rip chunks out of the deer and left to do wolf things. The puppies except for Jack's vessel whimpered the whole time much to the annoyance of the other wolves.

Once the mother bitch returned everything went back to normal, the other wolves slept, and the pups nursed through the night.

As time went by Jack witnessed the cracks on his arms and legs seal up. With each that sealed up, Jack felt a little more substantial. Soon he was fully healed and ready to continue his reaping of fleas. He was a hungry ghost after all. Bad pun aside, he felt something akin to hunger.

Jack swept over the bitch's fur killing 10,000 fleas in a single swipe. That brought his SP up 100 but that wasn't enough to matter. He sensed tape worms within the bitch and thought to help himself. His hand easily passed through her and slipped his hand where her digestive tract carried the parasites. They were packed in good and easy enough to kill netting him another 200SP.

New Milestone Reached: New Technique: Pressure

Jack's soul

Age: 32years

Species: Human Soul

Cultivation Techniques: Hungry Ghost Cultivation

Spirit Techniques: Spirit Sense, Pressure

Soul State: Barely Stable

Soul Rank: Weak Spirit 2 of 5 to lesser Spirit

Milestones 2 of 5

8 out of 1000 to Cold

(SP) Spirit Points: 8

Pressure: 1 (0 of 5SP to next)

Jack looked down at his arms and legs. They were full of large cracks. "I over did it again."

"Affirmative, Jack if you insist on nearly shattering your soul every morning please turn me off." Ouroboros said.

"Don't worry I'll be more careful. How long do I need to heal this time?" Jack asked.

"5days or you risk permanent damage. Once you rank up it won't be so difficult." Ouroboros said.

Jack sighed but on the bright side, he had something new to play with. Pressure was just as it sounded, Jack could put pressure on the physical and spiritual realities through. The higher his pressure the greater of an effect his actions had. It was in a sense the power level of the soul. It even determined his durability. He mentally placed 5SP into Pressure and it changed.

Pressure: 2 (0 of 6SP to next)

"That certainly helped you out a bit. If you can increase your pressure to 1000, I'm certain you could inhabit your host's body and without melting the poor thing's brain. With that much power using pressure to compensate for a lack of brain power isn't impossible." Ouroboros said. The AI said that about pressure as if he understood enough about it to use it.

"How do I use pressure to begin with? Can I use it right now without exploding my soul?" Jack asked.

"Nope, Jack sorry while you're cracked using pressure could shatter you. But good news by doubling your pressure it should only be 2 days before you're fully healed." Ouroboros said. Jack went back to pacing. Strangely, the ground felt a little firmer than it had before. He ignored the feeling when his foot slipped through. As he circled the room his mind went about calculating how many flea souls, he would need to bring his pressure up to 1000.

Surveying the room, he chuckled. There were hundreds of millions of fleas in the room alone. Add all the tape worm, heart worm, and who knows what else and he had more than enough souls in this room.

Little Jack

Age: 1day

Species: Hill Wolf

Cultivation techniques: Hill Wolf (Passive) Dragon (passive)

Evolve points (150/1000) +5/hour

Essence stored (150) +5/hour

Essence density 1 (0 of 100 essence to next)

With the fleas removed little Jack was gaining far more essence from his mother. It brought hope to Jack's nonexistent heart. Little Jack's first evolution would come before he opened his little eyes. If the essence density was anything like Jack's own pressure, if it was increased little Jack's essence absorption rate would increase.

He flipped it up to 2 just to see what happened.

Little Jack

Age: 1day

Species: Hill Wolf

Cultivation techniques: Hill Wolf (Passive), Dragon (passive)

Evolve points (50/1000) +`10/hour

Essence stored (50) +10/hour

Essence density 2 (0 of 200 essence to next)

"Ouroboros, how did the essence density option appear?" Jack asked. It was great and all, more options meant a greater chance for his vessel's survival, but where did it come from.

"When you increased your pressure, your ability to manipulate essence increased. The higher your pressure the more your soul will affect the world around you. That is pressure's effect." Ouroboros said. Jack relaxed a bit with the knowledge the new option didn't appear from a vacuum.

That was, until he saw one of the older pups from a different litter puke his guts out. He stared at the sickly animal and knew the wolf had parvo. His hold on this world became ever more strenuous.