Chapter 49 - Details
“Let me refresh your memories. You are all in the qi gathering stage. This is the introduction to cultivating, slowly gathering qi into your core of choice while learning how to control it.”
My qi clone is back in action! I fixed his leakage by pumping the large amount of qi I got from the Tower into its skin. He looks solid now but his insides are still a complete mess. The skin now forms a hermetic seal around the rest of the qi construct, keeping it together without conscious effort on my part.
Tree has been absorbing some mana, turning it into more qi, but the largest part of the Tower qi was just floating through the air. I grabbed it because it still had my fingerprints on it and forced the development of my qi clone a few steps forwards. Now I am standing in the small clearing Angeta and Vox were fighting in while lecturing.
My real body is sitting in our empty camp. A few empty tents keep up the pretence while I alone am still outside.
“Vox and Angeta have just proven to themselves that they have enough qi control to step into qi condensation. They are sweating this much because they don't know what to do now.”
I focus back inside my clone and keep on talking. I have placed my hands on the two disciples heads and am temporarily stopping the process that is ongoing.
“What they need to do is to compress their qi filled cores into a single point. Just squeeze the fuck out of it. They are having such trouble because they don’t have sufficient mental strength yet. The qi inside this pocket dimension is a lot easier to absorb than what new cultivators usually can get access too, so their latest sparring session pushed them over the stage edge prematurely. I think that the main reason for this ease of cultivation is due to the lack of ambient qi. Not needing to separate your own from loads of normal qi is likely a contributing factor.”
That is my current theory anyway. I never had proper disciples before, so I’m improvising a lot here.
“It’s also no coincidence that these two are the only ones who have not set a foot inside the library. Knowledge is power and the four of you who did spend some time in there know this now. These two...” I rap both sweating figures on the head. “...thought that they were the top of the world after slapping each other a bit and thus decided to advance. They don't even know how much they don't know.”
I smile peacefully at them all. “I can only teach, it is your job to listen. Don't blame me when my totally awesome advice gets ignored.”
I keep smiling while looking down. Angeta and Vox are drowning in sweat with grimaces on their faces. I think I’ve let them suffer for long enough, so I mentally reach into their bellies and pull some of the qi out. This allows the process to halt. Many aspiring cultivators have died while their qi was in such a lockup. Failing to break through, they call it.
These two numbskulls must have grasped at some path forwards when their core filled with gaseous qi. Starting to squeeze it must have allowed new qi inside, overfilling their core. Imagine the worst case of gas and flatulence in the entire universe, and you might get a sense of the predicament they were in.
My cultivation experiences in this world so far have been absurd and should not be used for reference, by the way. My mind and body both remember being at the height of immortal cultivation. I can reconstruct my own cultivation base with relative ease if I have enough qi at my disposal. I have figured out the solutions to these type of blocks and obstacles a long time ago, after all. My soul could be considered freakishly strong, I guess, so cultivating is rather easy for me. I was at the pre-ascension stage a few weeks ago, so my strength of will and breadth of experience is incomparable to these kids. I stop polishing my own pride and look both sitting figures in the eyes.
“I would not recommend doing that again before you have some more experience. Portions of the qi you actively use get absorbed into your body. It goes from an active, controllable state to a passive helper function. Neither of you has enough of this construction qi in your physical brain to muster the willpower to advance. Nor do either of you possess enough skills in qi control.”
I turn to the beastwoman who is still panting heavily.
“Especially you, please do some more critical thinking. Form your own opinions instead of just repeating what you’ve been told.”
I hold my hand up and push a sizable amount of qi outside, controlling it into a sphere.
“A good test of whether you’re ready or not is to simulate what you need to do that realm advancement. This is around the amount of qi needed to form your first drops of liquid qi. If you can do this...”
I close my fist while contracting the floating sphere. It starts out as a translucent white, but my slow compression causes it to cloud up quickly. I keep squeezing while the sphere of qi starts shining like a light. A final closing of my fist causes a flash of brightness.
“This is the qi from the condensing realm. I will give anyone permission to advance, and I will even help out if you can replicate this trick.”
There is a minuscule droplet of liquid qi swirling around my fingers now. I let them all have a good look at the concentrated power before breathing it back into my skin. I start walking my qi clone towards the centre Tree while saying my last lines.
“This is your formative period, if you do nothing but fight now, you can only fight later. This is a good time for you guys to go and explore some hobbies. The perfect time, actually.”
I walk back to the main clearing and look through the piles of materials. I shove some of the better base materials through Tree. I then guide it into my spatial ring by using my real body. I drop the clone off in my castle and focus back on the outside. I am keeping an eye out for any suspicious behaviour around our camp while crafting stuff. I am in need of some long-range reconnaissance, so that is keeping me busy most nights.
“WHY IS HE SO WEIRD?!” Angeta’s anguished cries reach up to the heavens. A splintering crash pierces through the forest as the other five disciples take a step back.
“HE JUST SAYS STUFF, AAARGH!” Another tree gets horribly abused. “AND WE ARE *huff huff* JUST supposed to figure it out ourselves?” She weakly kicks another tree, the fight having left her movements.
“And then he watches us fuck up, and only steps in moments before death. That’s how it felt like, at least...” Angeta’s short fur rises in waves as shivers run across her body.
Vox looks perplexed for a moment. “Did you really think you were dying?”
“Yeah, I couldn't breathe and everything hurt.”
Vox just looks at her with pity. “How much did that hurt to you?”
“Worse than anything I ever felt.”
“You must not yet have felt very much then.” They all look at Vox’s back as he walks away. The beastwoman looks bewildered for a little, looking over at the other disciples. They all either ignore her or shrug their shoulders.
Selis is busily pressing down on a sphere of blue-tinted qi. She frowns at the springy ball of power in her hands, lies it down on the ground and starts jumping on top of it. Tess is also messing with a sphere of qi, hers seems to be filled with fleeting shadows.
Selis kicks the ball away in frustration, it bounces off a tree and smacks Bord in the face. He grabs it and crushes it with his hands.
“You had trouble crushing that thing?”
She just glares at the fatty and stomps away. A big dark blue form struts after her, clucking softly. Bord looks back at the wisps of mist that slide through his fingers. He narrows his eyes at the strands but they don't follow his mental commands. He looks around but finds himself in an empty clearing, so he also walks away.
A few moments later he is standing inside the library. He ignores all the books on cooking, math, sewing and geology. He does not stop until he is in front of the DIY section where he grabs a book. He has been reading this book for a while now, and he almost feels confident enough to look at page three. He sits there, reading and studying the symbols and drawings on the single page in front of him.
An hour later, he looks back up and stretches his hand in front of him. Slowly, small pillars of a murky light start appearing from his skin. These pillars reach his previous control limit with extremely slow speed, a few centimetres from his skin. The pillars start to release wisps of smoke, but despite this degradation, they continue to grow.
A long time later, the first pillars touch each other. Another long time later, his entire hand is covered with a triangular lattice of qi pillars. This triangular construction sticks up a dozen centimetres from his skin. They continue to release some qi, but the shape holds beyond the point where he would normally lose control. He nods his head, affirming what he has learned from the many hours studying the book.
“Triangles are the strongest.”
He puts the book - his teacher would call it ‘Baby’s first construction project’ - back on the shelf and walks out with a big smile on his face.
I missed this wonderful ability to directly observe molecules. Creating stuff without my augur felt like performing brain surgery with a chainsaw. I can't help but smile as I let my consciousness sink into the copper coils I am working on. I need long range reconnaissance capabilities, so I’m creating a drone.
I have all the materials I need now, the Tower generously giving me plenty of pure base metals. From lead to zinc, all materials that I could need have been provided. I even found a few bars of aluminium and a sealed glass globe of mercury. In addition to the stuff I… liberated from that Fellis noble douchebag, I’ve got enough to do some tinkering.
The copper I’m using is perfectly pure, not a single molecule of oxygen or other materials is present. It thus has an electrical conductivity of over one hundred per cent, according to Earth’s science. I, therefore, think it’s a good thing that I stopped using those standards a while ago. I briefly ponder whether or not I should switch to silver, as that has better electrical conductivity. I then decide to continue working on the copper, I’d need to start over otherwise.
The thing I’m creating is a small aeroplane. It is really simple, a hollow steel body with holes and symbols. I’m using the copper to guide qi around the thing, sending it through embedded wires around the plane. Using purely electricity is not that useful if qi can be used, but I have not found a better signal carrier than a copper wire with some sort of charge running through it.
The control centre is a small qi crystal in the centre of the body. Wires run from there to the other controllable parts of the frame. Two wires run to tubes that act as wind turbines, the symbols I scratched inside these tubes can push air in both directions at variable speeds. Three wires go towards control flaps, while another goes to a camera in its nose.
The underside is a matte blue and the top is black. It looks like a triangle with half a meter sides. Two tubes are stuck to the wingtips, a sphere in its nose is a free rotating recording device. The crystal is the processor and data storage, it took a large portion of all the qi I collected so far to accomplish this. The power in that crystal is about half of what I currently control in both cores.
There is one thing I have not impressed onto my students, and that is the difference between realms. Let’s say a normal human has a total of one power. My students currently have a couple of dozen power at their fingertips and that is rising quickly. I currently control a few hundred, maybe I’m starting to push a thousand now.
Foundation realm cultivators have a million at least. Anything beyond that gets exponentially more powerful. All the qi I have gathered so far has less power than a foundation realm cultivator’s finger. The thing I really should be doing is scouring this planet for energy sources. The fear of being stuck in this place, without a method of ascension because of a simple lack of available power is rather horrifying, so I don't think about it.
Actually, fresh beginning foundation cultivators have a million. Cultivation power grows exponentially, so any half-decent foundation cultivator has trillions of power. You use the power under your control to increase your power, so more power means more growth which means more power, etcetera.
The Tower puts out enough qi to form a low-grade qi spring. Normal cultivation sects don't even bother with these low tier spiritual springs, their output barely worth the effort of securing them. I might seem overpowered on this planet, but it’s not overpowered if everyone is so ridiculously powerful.
I focus back on the plane. The shape is the most efficient I can get it, an elongated triangular teardrop. It must be able to cruise with high fuel efficiency and be able to speed away, so I made it reversible. A swept wing is better for speed, straight wings are better for efficiency. It flies with the pointy bit in front when speeding, and flips backwards when it needs to slow down to use the camera.
The entire thing is coded with a combination of actual code, symbols and intent. I have previously made things like these, so all I had to do was modify the blueprint for a much lower power level. I am also missing a lot of necessary materials for the more advanced and high-performance versions, but I will take what I can get. I also had to strip out almost every feature, leaving it rather barebones for my tastes.
I seep my augur into the object, sensing it in its entirety. I can do this because it is hollow, a solid object of this size has too many molecules for me to currently scan at once. I check the internal structure and find a few faults that I immediately fix. I actually find a memory leak, one of the camera subroutines would have executed a couple millions of times per second in total darkness. That would have started sucking up power like mad, let's see for how long it would keep flying with that error…
It would cut its operational life down by a few hours over the span of a year. So it was hardly worth the effort. I mentally shrug my shoulders and look the entire thing over again.
My face now sports a frown. That fix messed up something in its navigation. I really thought that debugging would be easier if I myself am the compiler, but shit like this just always happens. I fix the error in its navigation and look it over again. Now the data storage has a few possible fail states? I just sigh and continue my work.
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