Chapter 08 - Walk
I have a confession to make. I might not have actively thought about it a lot, and I didn't even mention it in these logs I’m saving in my mind but I have been struggling with my body. When I arrived here, stripped of all my qi, it took me a while to recognize the feeling of hunger. Similarly, other bodily functions that had been taken care of by qi previously need some attention again.
Shitting and pissing for one, any cultivator of the foundation realm can dissolve anything they eat while breathing out any impure remains afterwards. I have been digging holes and squatting, wiping with leaves. Me being at the core forming stage allows me to performs some tricks like cleaning myself inside and out.
I do this almost subconsciously. Having a clean body for hundreds of years means that any impurities feel uncomfortable. As if there is something in or on my body that doesn't fit, a part of me that shouldn't be there. There are some solids that are qi intensive to break down, so for those materials, it’s wiser to let nature run its course.
Sexual urges have come back to haunt me in a similar manner. Every time I think of past events the emotional baggage comes along with said recollection. Emotions have less effect on a person able to control every molecule of their being. Glands and hormones have less effect when the person in question perfectly understands how they work through observation.
Now, however, I am falling victim to whatever fluids my body decides to produce. When I was sitting in the cave I was reminded of a certain black skinned lithe woman with whom I spend a couple of months in a cycling tomb. Getting anywhere in that massive ancient burial place was a matter of careful rune observation and a lot of patience.
The inner working of the shifting teleporting doors was laid out in runes around said doors, and after I decoded what was written there it was a simple matter of waiting until certain doors connected. The woman and I got stuck in the same rooms for weeks on end, and after we got to know each other we did some… couple cultivating.
We were at a similar power level so we both profited from these actions and she was really, incredibly limber… Or that water cultivator with blue hair. Blue hair everywhere. Or the ferret-like beast taming girl that had taken on certain aspects of her pets, improving her sense of hearing, smell and danger but making some rather… interesting changes to her physical form in the process. Her furry ears, feet and tail were so soft, aah. She made these mewling sounds when things...
There I go again. I am walking on an open plane without any cover in sight, so I’ll just have to ignore myself standing at full attention for now. Long story short, I rubbed a few out since I got here. Especially in and around the tree I took residence in, the bark and scent reminding me of a certain voluptuous plant cultivatress. She could do things with her green tinted skin that could make your.. Stop it, letting emotions rule the mind is a good way to get yourself in a lot of trouble.
I cough and focus back on putting one foot in front of the other. I just barely became a proper cultivator again, so I will have to deal with these inconveniences for a little while longer. The spire in the distance is slowly getting bigger, gradually showing that I have underestimated its true size again. From here it looks like it sticks a couple of kilometres into the air, but as I get closer I'm sure it’ll start looking even bigger and bigger. Curiosity about how the thing is being kept standing bubbles up inside me so I increase my pace a bit.
Lola is still hopping around me. The qi in her body seems to be slowly thickening and will ultimately follow the same process I just went through. Body cultivators can store a lot of qi in their fleshy forms so I will have to pump her body full of the stuff when her solid core starts forming to prevent qi starvation. The sun is now hovering low over the horizon but Lola is still as energetically jumping about as this morning. A closer look shows me that she is sending mana to her heart were it is transformed into qi. Did she learn this trick from me or did she figure that out herself?
A few hours later the tower is bigger yet again. A moon hangs high in the sky, giving me plenty of light to see in the darkness. Lola became a bit more timid and kept walking underfoot until I guided some qi to her retina’s. After a few minutes of doing this, she got the hang of it and is now frolicking about again. I’m pretty lucky that my first companion here has such a non-specific diet. Any type of plant will feed her, she hasn't shown any meat eating tendencies yet. Thinking about what happened to her siblings I plan on keeping it that way. Her soul shows me a lot more detail with my increased perception and I can see the rudimentary processes going on in there now.
I keep calling it a soul, but it might just be a spirit or a visual representation of the cloud of consciousness. I haven't found any evidence that the abstract ball of light I can perceive is anything truly soul like, but it has enough similarities with what I see as a soul that I started calling it that. I have another theory that it’s nothing but a link to the place where the true soul lies, but I will need to become a bit more powerful before I can verify that. It vanishes upon death, possibly dissipating or teleporting or shifting to another plane the moment the body can't sustain a consciousness anymore.
The qi in Lola's body seems to protect her from the overflowing darker mana, preventing the corruption. Her soul became light grey and seems to have stabilized at that colour. The higher amounts of qi in her body cause her soul to shine more distinct.
Qi brings out the best version of a person. If you are a good person, you become a better person with higher cultivation levels. If your nature is that of a spiteful little bitch, the qi will make you more spiteful, and more little bitchy. Qi is the high-powered version of the ‘be the best you’ self-help philosophy. Lola seems to be a slightly positive being. I will have to keep my qi in check, cleaning up after myself, not letting any drift around after using it. If a dark-souled being gets hold of some of the compound energy… bad news I think. I haven’t seen any other energy users around here but the tower is a clear sign that some sort of mages or practitioners must exist.
The rest of the night is just us walking. I pull some food from my spatial ring, more to have anything to do than from hunger. I quench my thirst by spreading some qi and shouting at the water vapour to gather. While sipping on the floating water ball Lola looks at me and I let her drink some too.
The tower seems even more imposing by the morning. Is it a space elevator? No, it does reach the clouds but I can vaguely see the top of it. It still looks a uniform gray. No windows in sight so far, it looks completely smooth. The horizon is starting to light up, obscuring the stars in the sky. It’s an unknown starscape, by the way, no recognizable constellations anywhere. The top of the tower starts shining like a beacon. The sun shining on it already. It looks amazing, a slowly growing bright spear of light high in the sky, the lit up part obscures the still dark tower under it. It looks like a massive light saber that is being turned on.
Yep, that’s a pretty amazing sight. It looks like I had written this place off as unimpressive too soon, this is postcard material. Besides the fact that the sun is now up, nothing changes. No road is in sight and grass is everywhere. There should be some type of grazing animal around, keeping all this grass short but they have eluded me so far.
I just keep walking, taking it slow to allow my cultivation foundation to settle down. By the time the sun has set and risen again I have halved the distance between the tower and me and there is peace in my head at last. The roiling qi waters around my shard core have settled down. My current mental capacities are still iffy, so it's useful for me to spell things out. I am an old computer working with a futuristic hyper-advanced database. Too much information is just as bad as too little, and a lot of the information I currently need is submerged in massive amounts of unnecessary details. But now that my cultivation base has calmed down I can start growing my core.
I imagine a pressure gradient and use it to increase qi pressure close to my core. Just beside the piece of crystal, the pressure is enough to collapse the liquid into solids. I used to put literal computer components and books of information in my core. A lot of computer gates, library archives and data storage. Useful for massive data handling and some calculations, not really useful for anything else. I get to do it all over again and I have a better idea this time around. Instead of making certain structures, I try to keep it mutable. Instead of rock solid rigid connections, I keep them flexible and changeable. Programmable hardware instead of a certain architecture chip. It feels like the strongest rubber in the world. You can twist the crystal structure a bit, but not break it. I focus on redirecting the flow of qi instead of letting it flow through hardwired paths or switches.
The structure is triangular, small qi lattices similar to crystalline atomic bonds, except the structures are a bit bigger. The condensed fluid qi is slowly compressing itself into the growing core, the free space in my core is quickly filled with more qi gained from mana. The downside of stuffing your core full of liquid qi is that it takes time to shift qi from liquid form to gas, and the usable form in term of spells and such is the gassy version. So I have a shitload of qi but access to it is restricted by how empty my storage space is.
Life is a contradiction after all. Do you want to grow? Limit yourself, in more ways than one. Want to become stronger? First, you must become weaker by damaging your muscles.
While we keep walking I occasionally pick up Lola to inspect her, pet her and give her some more qi. She seems to be eating massive amounts of grass. I’m happy I don't need to watch her eat her own morning shit, as rabbits in nature do. They need to pass their food through their digestive system twice in order to extract the nutrients from it but qi solves that problem.
That's enough shit related thinking. Why are there no farms here. That’s the biggest clue I've got that the tower isn't a standard city. Normal cities need massive sprawls of farmland in order to feed the inhabitants. Cultivators are usually way too prideful to play farmer with their qi, a single middle-level cultivator could feed a city of hundreds of thousands if they were to learn farming related techniques. I guess they were too lazy or proud, so instead of a single person doing something useful, they had mortals farming the surroundings. No farms around here means either no city or an alternative food source.
The fourth day of walking is beginning when I spot walls. I stuff qi into my eyes and see a dark wall poking over the horizon just in front of the tower. It’s a city then. That is great news because I am starting to feel peckish. I could use a bite to eat and information. The conversations I got from the small village have proved to be a sample size that was too small. I didn't get any useful data from analyzing the few conversations. With that in mind, I have been preparing various programs and techniques in order to decipher the language when I reach a bigger sample siz... I mean population. Let's hope somebody is home.
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