Chapter 194 - Resumption (2)
I'm freaking the fuck out! What in all the flipping shit stains is happening right now? Augur is condensed Will? Rhea just produced her first droplet of augur, outside of her body? That shouldn’t be possible, right? Augur is the secondary energy that happens when a large concentration of qi grinds away at each other, right?
It can’t be liquid Will, right? Shouldn’t the entire liquify and solidify cycle also count for Will, then? Should I call augur mind-juice instead? “Hey Rhea, do you prefer the name Drive Droplets or Mental Moist? We’ll need to find a name for the soli-”
I have my finger pressed to her still form the moment I see that she isn’t moving. Her body feels warm, and a process informs me that her vital signs are still going strong, if a bit slower than normal. The information the process is channelling into my conscious mind is not abating my worries though, as I don’t feel her heartbeat. All I feel is a slight rising of blood pressure over time.
I study the small dot of clear liquid hovering over her, just in front of where her face was moments ago. Keeping my fingers on her neck, I take a closer look at it. I immediately see that it’s not water, it refracts the light too little. I also don’t feel the telltale airy disposition aura wafting from it that I’ve come to know so well over these past few months. I sort of understand how she found out it wasn’t a different type of energy, though. Something about the minuscule orb of power feels off, unlike any form of power, spell, or just anything else I've come across.
The pressure in her carotid artery starts lowering as my finger sinks slightly deeper into her pale neck. I do some quick math, and come to the conclusion that the slow buildup and fade of pressure was most likely her heartbeat, just spread out over half an hour or so. I look at the lifeless woman a bit longer, complex emotions that I don't really want to examine flashing through my heart and mind.
In the end, I breathe a deep sigh and pull her up again. I ignore Lola as she bites my ear, angry at the fact that I bent over abruptly, nearly tossing her from my shoulder. The little rabbit has been justifiable upset with me and hasn't left me alone since I regained my Will. I gently lift Rhea and keeping an eye on the droplet and the location I know her core to be. I bring the two together. Moving the back of her head towards the small drop, the effect is immediate.
The moment it sinks into the nape of her neck, she jumps up. I let her go and take a step back. “That…”
“Kind of relaxing, I thought.”
Wild eyes lock onto mine. I see a hundred different sentences begin to form on her lips before they die out. In the end, she starts walking back towards Tree, her shoulders drooping. “Yes. It was kind of relaxing.”
“Put a nice barrier between all those issues that seemed so overwhelming just a while ago, no?”
Even though I can’t see her face, I can recognise that the entire process starts again, a hundred things she decides to not say. “Yes. I haven’t forgotten though.”
“Whatever you want.”
This time I try to convey how much I mean what I’m saying to her as I catch up, falling into step beside her. “Really.”
A small smile playing across her lips, she looks forward again. We walk towards Tree in amicable silence, the only thing of note that’s happening being Lola who jumps off now and then. She always comes back nibbling on some plant, flower, root, or fruit. I recognise some of the things as rare and precious treasures, some worth more than mid-grade sects back in the Cultivation World.
I’d normally scold the rabbit for plundering so many rare resources, but I know full well that Tree has all of that well in hand. Over the past month or so, Tree and I discovered that legendary fruits stop being legendary when there’s nobody around to think of them that way. Their medicinal and beneficial effects are all the same, somehow. If nobody believes that a certain tree can only bear fruit once every thousand years, it can start blooming weekly.
I’m actually suspecting Tree from being a massive perennial bully, the way it keeps manhandling other plants with forming consciousnesses. I look up at the towering golden giant, barely able to believe that the massive tree was just an ordinary plant not a year ago.
The stroll has been extremely peaceful so far as Rhea and I just saunter. We both can move at rather absurd speeds when compared to regular walking, so the little bit of qi powered running and flying we both did is taking us hours to walk back. When we are three-quarters of the way there, Rhea sighs and turns to me, the translucent tree that has been forming above her head flickering out of existence. “What have you found out about the slightly bigger atom’s inside the core?”
I can’t hide the grin on my face as I turn to her. “You are very easy to love sometimes, you know that?” I take in the fact that she doesn't falter in her step nor reacts to my off handed comment in any physical way. The only proof that I know she heard what I said is the slowly rising blush coming up from her neck.
I avoid pointing it out - I can learn too, it seems - and spin up the illusion with all the dots again. Lola squeaks slightly, moving to my other shoulder to avoid some of the shining pinpricks. I want to ask her what she dislikes about qi-based illusions so much, but that can wait. “So, here is a part of the scan you uploaded. This is the inside of the core, and here is one of these slightly bigger atoms you found. Not bigger perse, but its surrounding particles are a sub-percentage above the average further removed. This is a minuscule detail within a minuscule detail, I still don’t know how you found this so quickly.”
Patting her on the shoulder while giving her a thumbs up, she somehow seems to lose a bit of the smile she was sporting. I was complimenting her, right? Why did she start smiling less? Unwilling to enter the unfathomable Dao of Women for now, I resume talking about my scientific theories. “And then I started finding more and more odd coincidences. The golden ratio keeps popping up in relational distances, the distribution of particles is very much non-random, yet I still can’t pin down the exact formula or algorithm used, more and more of these type of weird theories just didn’t add up.”
“So? What does the number one point six have to do with this?” she asks.
“Alright, so let’s say you are a plant,” I stop to hold up my hands. “Just indulge me, okay? You are a nice, long, beautiful and slender stalk, freshly burst through the earth, Now you grow a leaf. You want to catch as much sun as possible, so you make the leaf flat and large.” I ignore that extremely tepid stare she is sending my way and keep talking. “Now you grow a second leaf. Where do you put this leaf for optimal sunbathing?”
I keep staring at her with a questioning expression on my face until I get an answer. I apologise to Tree as I do so, as we both demolish a few trees in order to not break eye contact first. She only answers after a full ten minutes of the staring contest. “On the other side of the stem.”
“Great. Thank you for playing along. Now you grow a third leaf, where do you put it?”
“Abo- No. That will block the sun. So let’s put the second leaf a third rotation from the first?”
“How can you be so good at statistical rule and managerial oversight, yet still suck so much at numbers? Now the fourth leaf blocks the first, you dunce! Only three leaves ever get sunlight.” I dodge the slow slaps coming my way while covering my eyes in exasperation.
“A fourth will just leave the top four leaves soaking up the sunlight. Wait…” I spot a single branch above her head light up in a bright flash, a willowy translucent offshoot appearing for just a single moment. I stare at her, and she tries very hard to look innocent. Then there is another flash of an ethereal tree, and Rhea coughs once.
“Very smooth,” I comment.
“I don't know what you’re talking about. And you have been alluding to the decimal number the furthest away from any fractions, I assume? Zero point six one eight?”
“How much points did you give Ket?” I flatly ask. She doesn’t answer, but the slowly rising blush once again marking her face is answer enough for me. “Relying on other people is also a personal ability, I guess… The Dao of Mooching Off Of Other’s Intellect. Could work, but I’m not sure how you’d be able to cut earthly bonds in order to ascend.” My thoughts wander off towards far and fantastic futures for a few moments.
Returning to the subject at hand, I address her once again. “Yes. I was alluding to the golden mean. Plants that don't follow this mathematical optimal are simply less efficient than plants that do. Only some other evolutionary advantage will then allow them to thrive, so most plants develop some form of non-fractional distribution system down the line. So, with that in mind, what does that number and these dots have in common?”
“Their distribution is done with the golden ratio as a basis?”
“It’s actually a rather weird and imperfect implementation of a n-dimensional Fibonacci sequence, but close enough.” Rhea rolls her eyes so hard it should have hurt. “It’s weird because the entire distribution is singularity based, so the manner in which you’d need to see the entir- No, Rhea, don’t walk away please! It’ll get interesting pretty soon, I swear.” She only stops jogging away from me after I throw Lola at her. “Just… Do any of these dots block access to another dot?”
“What do you mean. You lost me at fibbenacheese, to be honest.”
“Fair enough. Is any particle blocking line of sight between two other particles?” We resume walking towards Tree, which is looming rather impressively now. I ignore the constant streams of communication between Rhea and her mathematically gifted subordinates scattered around the globe and motion at Lola to stay put. Rhea is patting her absentmindedly and is stroking against her fur now and then. I stealthily hand her a precious treasure carrot, which she starts munching on contentedly as the dragoness carries her.
“This is statistically unlikely. There are no blocking points in any cube. The usual likelihood resumes the moment we start looking outside the square cores, but inside, only the central atom blocks some… Wait, it’s the connection point between all atoms?”
I nod enthusiastically. “Yeah! The slightly bigger atom is perfectly between any two atoms opposite each other, seen from the central atom.” Grinning at her in triumph, I wait for her amazing reaction.
“It’s a central point? The designer of this planet, or rather, the producer of the cores, can place atoms with impressive compression and precision. How do we go on from there? Was this worth nearly dying for?”
“Maybe, maybe not. But, what is that central atom made from?”
We walk a bit longer in silence. “Not enough data.”
“Yeah. That’s the amazing part. I need to go do augur training. Usually, I can see what something is made of using the atomic radii. My augur… I can't detect actual neutrons and protons with my liquid Will!”
“And now you see a path forwards, right?” Rhea chimes in, seeing where my enthusiasm is coming from.
“Yeah, totally. I actually need to figure out how to train a new skill! Something unheard of! Even in the millions of years the Cultivation World had existed, no-one ever had tried augur training. Maybe it was something an early deity or ascender locked down, or maybe this is stuff meant for higher planes, but I actually need to train a whole new skill!”
“And you need to train your subatomic particle sensing skills because you need to find out what the central atom in the cores is made from,” Rhea continues, realisation dawning.
“Because once I know what kind of material is at the centre of the dungeon core’s many processing centres…”
“We can fuck them up!”
“We can take control!”
We look at each other, both grinning like mad. “Good talk,” I nod.
“Yeah. We need to do this more often,” she replies. “Why are we here again, though?”
“Ah, check the urgent issues section in Database,” I say while putting my improvised forge back into my ring. I really need to make a proper workshop one of these days.
“What in the Flight cursed Dungeon abandoned shit is this?”
“That’s just the entire south pole descending into madness. I thought that we should put a stop to that before things get out of hand.”
“THERE ARE A MILLION ANIMATED ICE GOLEMS MARCHING NORTH! HOW DID WE NOT DETECT THIS SOONER!” The wind picks up as Rhea looks through the report a drone delivered around the time I fixed my sword.
“I don't know. Two new things to discover, can this day get any better?”
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