I open my eyes and find myself inside my room once more. The mat under my legs continues its futile task of putting me in a peaceful state of mind. The man and the boy are gone, successfully taken into Tree at the low cost of nearly all my qi. I take a deep breath, the memory of Tess’ bile covered appearance making me feel queasy. I walk to the window and open it up, letting the cool breeze blowing in my face. I take a deep breath before walking to the couch. Instead of having the meditating mat’s annoying field of sedation gnawing away at my concentration, I just plop down on the couch and close my eyes.
The first thing I do after successfully sinking my consciousness into my cultivation base is to take a good look at Tree as a whole. No longer needing to hurry up on behalf of a dying mortal, I take my time in taking stock of my cultivation base.
Tree is once again flagging slightly. It’s golden aura no longer brimming with overflowing health. Now it has most of its power locked up in the massive tornado rotating around it. The majority of the imported qi from the Cultivation World is stuck in the enormous rotating formation. Tree is slowly chipping away at the qi, breaking it down using its own power. It’s slow going though, and all it can do is keep up with the small stream of power coming in from me. It’s not the kindest thing to do, but I’d rather have Tree become slightly toxic than letting the power sink into my brain. Tree agrees, I am startled to find out. It has been actively keeping my grey matter free of the stagnant ambient qi.
And then there is the matter of the people inside and on Tree. The way I designed the entire system seems to be working pretty great. The pole opposite Tree, on the south side of the small planet, is a field of Tree Portals. It’s a massive field of white stone, covered in large portals connected to all the human and beastkin cities and settlements all over the Magic World.
The majority of Tree’s usable qi supply comes from that source, as those portals suck up all the power around them. This power is then fed to Tree, through the portal, and through the network of roots it has woven through its own planet.
The cultivation of the average citizen of the Magic World is also progressing at a rather amazing pace. This seemingly miraculous progress has been put into perspective by my own experiences, however. As the most powerful cultivator in Tree and the Magical worlds, I am severely hampered by the sheer density of qi on the Cultivation World. I think that only Rhea and my original students would even stand a chance of functioning in a power atmosphere as oppressive as the Cultivation World.
Nonetheless, the average humanoid in the Magic World seems to be going down a path that appears to be pretty laid out at the moment. Everyone can connect to Database in some manner, and accessing base data and information on cultivation is free. The successful students serious about growing stronger combine roaming qi-filled wilderness and qi-retention training in cities. This qi-retention is trained by approaching the Tree Portal at the center of the settlement. This regiment usually gets people to the qi condensation stage pretty easily.
The same rules I’ve imposed on all my students still apply. No wanton killing, no unprovoked assault of any kind, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, that kind of stuff. I have no desire to become the boss of a massive amount of psychopathic killers, after all.
Then, around the time when they can start to form a solid core, they manage to walk through the Tree Portal without getting sucked dry of qi and fainting. This allows them access to Tree, where the qi levels are much higher, and they can start their journey. Around the field of Tree Portals are similar buildings as those that used to exist on Database’s moon. Scientists doing experiments in qi-less environments, people training their qi-control, and people manufacturing qi-less gear all reside there. Going north, the white stone ground will change into varied terrain, and the ambient qi levels will start to rise drastically.
The various amounts of terrain-types that were already present on Tree’s previous pancake-like landmass is now a neat gradient located around the planetoid’s equator. The volcano is located on the opposite side of the ice mountain, a winding river looping around the planet and connecting the two. Between the two are large patches of scorching desert, glaciers, volcanic lava streams and geysers, poison swamps and jungle, windy tundra, and everything in between.
Further north, surrounding Tree, is a massive temperate forest housing all the strongest beasts that have no specific element or affinity. As rewards for actually exploring and braving these hellish environments, I have ordered Database to place Dao items in hard to reach places. Tree plants rare herbs and precious fruits in similar difficult areas as a further incentive.
Someone who is stuck on their path usually only needs a glimpse of one of the Dao crystallizations to realize what they are doing wrong. By the time the cultivator has reached the Foundation realm, they have a good grasp of their own abilities, affinities, and desires. Reaching Tree, and thus stepping into the Foundation Realm, is honestly just a matter of time for most inhabitants of the Magic World.
The previous issue of qi-scarcity is no longer a thing with the influx of power from the Cultivation World. Compared to the qi present in Tree and on the Magic World, though, it’s absolute hell to work with. Incorporating even a single strand of the ancient power into one’s cultivation base is weeks of work for the average cultivator. Most students have a strand of power circulating inside their core they are working on full-time, and it seems to have become a bit of a habit for most.
Then, apart from my school and all the students, there are the massive production facilities inside Tree. The planet Tree is growing on is so massive because it’s hollow. Database’s large jade data storage gem is the core of Tree’s planet, Tree’s roots around throughout the entire thing. They are the foundation that keep everything in place while acting like massive qi redistribution channels.
On the surface of Database are my mass production lanes, separated from the enormous sphere of jade by a white layer of stone. Large storage areas of raw material stock, massive piles of prepared parts, and massive heaps of filtered commodities alternate with long production lanes. Instead of mass-producing flying mapping drones, as they did before the massive fight with Nexus, they now create satellites.
I’m starting to cover the solar system around the Magic World with my own spacecraft. Instead of the stupidly overengineered artillery satellites that used to occupy those orbital lanes, there are now mass surveillance and qi-control relays in place. They all have strong links to Tree, and I’ve been producing and launching them through Database. Automating the entire process was ridiculously easy. The hard part was creating a launching platform that didn’t radiate qi everywhere. Once the satellite is in its orbit, the qi inside the thing isn’t going anywhere. I just wanted to prevent the vehicles putting them there from spewing qi-contaminated exhaust fumes all over the solar system.
The design that’s even now bringing dozens of observation satellites into orbit is a combination between an ion thruster and a railgun. The main launching platform is actually more akin to an SSTO, a single stage to orbit spaceplane. I just scaled my original triangular drone to heck and back, stuffed it full of satellites and reusable ion rail thrusters, and off they go. The spaceplane drone brings them into orbit through its two superpowered cylindrical qi turbines, and the drones take over once they’re in orbit.
In terms of the actual satellites, I’ve been launching two types. The small observation and reach extending ones are mostly small remote-controlled observation platforms. Basically qi storage items with a complex set of control runes attached to them, they allow Database and me to keep an eye out on the entire solar system. These have long since saturated the Magic Planet’s orbital space. A massive amount of them are heading away from this planet. Half of them are destined for their own heliocentric orbits, taking up strategic positions around the system’s star. The rest are heading for other bodies in the solar system.
It seems there are a few gas giants in the outer layer of this system, a lot of smaller planetoids are scattered here and there, along with a lot of asteroids. There is a conspicuous lack of planetary bodies with similar sizes to the Magic World, but I can think of a few reasons why that would be the case.
And finally, I have around a dozen large self-powered construction satellites heading towards the sun and the outer rim. My long term strategy still involves a controlled transition to a qi-contaminated system, and for that, I will need to do a lot of preparation. The first thing I want to do is to create a massive web around the sun. None of the materials I have at my disposal are strong enough to create any form of Dyson sphere, however.
I might be able to create some kind of orbital compound sphere, but for that, I will still need to have construction and teleportation systems in place. The large satellites are dedicated to creating a super strong link to Tree. I know it can teleport stuff between dimensions when provided with enough power, but in-system long-distance teleportation of mass amounts of materials is a whole different ball-game.
All in all, my plans to rule the Magic World have long since succeeded. My plans to rule the solar system are well underway.
Satisfied that I’m up to date with all that has happened during my stint in the cultivation World, away from Tree, I take control of Database. I let my consciousness slip inside my cell-perfect copy-of-my-body style qi-clone. That technique name needs some work, I know, but it’s sufficient for now.
I pop out of the ground in the largest medical center on the Magic World and Tree, namely the large hospital run by Danarius and Ares. It’s located at the south section of Tree’s planetoid, just at the edge where ambient qi becomes a thing again. The two people I kidnapped are lying in the courtyard, the large amounts of ambient qi that’s still pouring from their flesh being sucked into the ground.
“Heya!” I greet the startled girl. “How’re things.”
“He’s here,” says Ares flatly, speaking into the spatial ring on her finger. “Hello, Teach. Are you having fun?”
“No, that’s not your character trait,” I exclaim in shock. “You’re supposed to be the spineless one, Ares!”
The whitehaired beauty narrows her eyes at me. “Maybe my brother disappeared again? How about having to be responsible for an entire planet that’s going through a qi-apocalypse? Or how about the person dragging us all into this mess just vanishing for months, doing stupid stuff in slow-motion while we have to cope with his mess.”
I stare at the girl a little longer while narrowing my eyes back at her. “You can leave, you know.”
Her eyes dance a single moment downwards as if trying to flirt with the ground. “No.”
I nod. “Alright. To business then. How is the duo? Any differences between you guys and them?”
“Those two are from a completely different reality. Are they human as we know the term?” I point out the obvious, but I immediately realize that it’s actually a stupid question. My own body is from that world, after all. I’m still not sure how my twenty-first-century Earthen soul got into that kid’s flesh and blood, and I’m not sure I want to know at this point. If there were massive differences between my students and me, that would have come up by now.
Ares’ eyes go wide at this point. “What? They are not human?”
“I pulled them from a different realm, a different dimension a massive amount of realities away from this one. The fact that they might be different on a fundamental level hasn’t crossed your mind yet? What if they carry a bacteria or virus that can kill everyone here?” I ask, trying to tease her a bit.
Then I hear a massively annoying cough before a nasal voice like nails on chalkboard starts saying stupid stuff. “Please don’t bother the medical personnel. We have taken and tested tissue samples from both. No microbes were able to survive being drained from their ambient qi. Their DNA is similar to ours; their ethnicity is fundamentally different, however.”
Some dead-fish-eyed fucker is looking at me like I am the most boring thing he has ever seen. Standing behind this lanky asshole is a mass of people, many of my students among them, talking quietly to themselves. I see more and more people coming in at speed, the lot of them at the foundation realm, some a few steps into the Earth Realm already. “Who the fuck are you?”
“Taran. Our species are similar enough to be likely compatible enough to procreate. This has not been tested, as no volunteers have come forward. Other than that, we would like to inform you of the following Database section. We have gone through all the conversations that have happened around you, and are compiling an actual and up-to-date map of the political and geographic structure of the Cultivation Realm. We have come to the preliminary conclusion that you should head north, as Selis and Ket are likely in the Holy Water Inference and the Dark Moon Sects, respectively.”
I just stand there, wondering what this guy had for breakfast. He pauses his monotonous droning long enough to take a breath, and I see my chance to get a word in edgewise. “Who the fuck are you, Taran? Tess, who is this sucky and depressing Ket surrogate?”
“I could be sleeping right now. Instead, I’m here, telling you the stuff you should have figured out a long time ago,” deadpans the kid. “And we met before. On a boat, with the hurricane. I was a mage back then. That’s when you kidnapped Ares. We got in a lot of shit for that stunt, so thanks for that. Alright, everyone. Good work, I’m going to sleep. And I don’t care that you offed everyone on Absence Island, by the way. They were all creeps, and that place gave me the creeps.”
As I watch the guy slouch off, I wonder what the hell that was about. I stand there with my mouth open for a little longer, unsure what I should do now. I take a peek at the section of Database he indicated and find extremely neat and meticulous work. The first data I find is made up of clear and simple facts about the Cultivation World, all of them immediately useful and pertinent to my situation. Digging deeper, I see thoroughly documented conclusions and meticulously cited sources underpinning everything.
“I would like to request you check out the abandoned spirit stone mine to the north-west of your position. It’s the most likely place for Green to be,” asks Rodrick, the large man suddenly standing next to me.
“What? Yeah, sure,” I reply.
“Teach, here. Please do this ritual when at the Dark Moon sect. They should have enough materials, according to some rumors.” Tess stuffs an extremely complex diagram in my hands before walking off.
“Okay,” I say in reflex. “Wait, when did you all get so competent all of a sudden.”
“That’s what happens when the dust is given time to settle. Please acquire some of these materials and get them inside Tree. I would greatly appreciate it,” sais Danarius. “And it will help with the current qi density problems you and these two are facing.”
The old man puts a scroll in my hand, a list of pricy ingredients, seeds, and plants neatly penned out. Recent prices and regional market availability are also noted.
“And these materials would help greatly when it comes to the massive sun-encompassing structures you are looking to build, lad.” The dwarf from whom I had to steal my Dao seed hammer back gives me another list of highly rare and costly items and materials.
I look up and see a long line has formed. Everyone is looking at me with bright eyes, all of them holding some form of paper. I swallow hard, not even caring that my qi clone has no need for that biological function. I think this is going to take a while.Previous Chapter Next Chapter