Chapter 95 - Rapport
Log of Ket. Day 2 of sailing.
0600: Wake up in own room in the Ascent, go outside at 0612, swim in sea for 10.5 minutes at 15.6 meter per second average, eat 0.94 kilograms of food. Fish, grains and vegetables. Set alarm in 8 hours to eat again.
0630: Juggling 82 swords. Sailing is getting boring now.
0714: Tess walks on deck and attacks. Spar for 46 minutes.
0800: Go fishing. Try to teach Tess to fish with Selis’s help, again. I catch 2.3 fish per minute, Selis catches as much as she wants, upper limit is her range. Tess catches 0.001 per minute, total time she has spent fishing so far is 16.25 hours. Factually it’s 0 per minute but she jumped overboard and caught one with her own hands yesterday. Discuss morality of Selis playing with the glass mana mutant fish while consuming its brethren.
0802: Sidenote, hourly time notation is based on percentage, not minutes. 16.25 hours is 16 hours and 15 minutes. Why can’t an hour have 100 minutes? Really annoying.
0903: Teach Bord to fish for exactly 2 minutes. Stop when he falls asleep while I'm teaching him. Ignore Bord for rest of day.
1126: Adjust ship’s course to avoid stormfront. Verify weather report provided by Re-Haan. Re-Haan displayed elevated heartbeat and enlarged facial capillaries. Start causality searching process. End causality searching process 0.028 seconds later when most likely cause is found. This also explains why Teach and Re-Haan didn’t show up on deck until 1042. This also explains why certain smells accompany the two of them at certain times. This also explains why certain hormones are wafting from the two at certain times. Teach… Try to determine if he is a good or bad example.
1148: Confirm accuracy of weather report. 2.3 Percent deviation per hour found, compounding. Acceptable for casual use. Start own weather prediction program.
1152: Stop own weather prediction program. Calculating capacity insufficient for up to date weather prediction. Simple model makes results useless, accurate model is too resource intensive to maintain.
1159: Request weather prediction algorithm from Re-Haan. Very little useful information provided. Gut feelings and experience are difficult to quantify.
1206: Information processing compartment is done with new subject. Spend 19 minutes reviewing information about the way trees get water to their leaves. Question usefulness of information.
1327: Spar with Angeta. Usefulness of tree information is high, restricting cells responsible for water transport shuts all her plant-based techniques down. Get beaten by large construct made from seaweed 1.07 minutes later. Start countermeasure process.
1400: Food alarm goes off. Eat snack from ring, Teach nowhere to be found again. Check Tree necklace hanging on mast, observe restructuring taking place. Observe localized water level drop due to massive amounts of seawater being transported inside Tree. Do more fishing while transforming mana into qi.
1457: Teach gives tour of Tree dimension. Breathing in dense qi causes core to fill with gaseous qi. Advance to qi condensation at 1503. Teach explains that messing with differing cultivation bases caused my control and cultivation speed to rise. Find out that everything, not just certain metals, has electromagnetic fields.
1536: Tess advances to qi condensation stage. Observe her moving through stances to test new capabilities. Notice self observing her hip area more than usual. Set process in motion to figure out why my sight is attracted to hip and chest area.
1546: Ask Teach about hormones. Ignore smirk. Ignore loaded looks between Teach and Re-Haan. Ignore bunny on Teach’s shoulder. Get sent out of Tree dimension with Lola exactly one minute later, Teach puts up privacy barrier as soon as we are all on deck again. Start and stop analytical process due to predictable underlying reasons. Avoid Tess.
1813: Discuss advancement with other students. Sense uncomfortable atmosphere between Tess and me. Reasons unknown. Most likely reasons are scary, somehow. Ignore knowing smirks from other disciples.
1947: Eat dinner inside Tree. Tess cooked. Food is very, very tasty. Weird smell in the air, emanating from Teach’s castle. Ponder whether to question Teach about it. Decide not to.
2001: Practice with magnetic control. Attempt water control. Horribly inefficient. Salt water control is slightly less inefficient. Still needs couple of thousand times more concentration and qi in comparison to metal control. Defeat Angeta’s seaweed by pulling on trace metals.
2110: Receive piece of jade from Teach. It’s filled with all kinds of techniques and information about human copulation process. Be fascinated about possibilities. Be absolutely horrified about possibilities. Qi infused sexually transmissible diseases? Mind control through orgasm? Flesh-eating parasites that mind control their host through genitalia consumption and mimicry? Thoroughly memorise and comprehend Eternal Stamina Mantra and its braincore adaptation. Make difficult decision; avoid Tess until we both have solid cores.
2235: Spar with entire student group on top of sea to train in low light situation. Tess is everywhere, Selis is unapproachable, Vox is useless without light, Ares is useless because all her buffing and healing causes a lot of light, Angeta efficiently harasses everyone with underwater plants. Re-Haan joins in and wins 3.4 seconds later.
2357: Decide to meditate for rest of day until morning. Increased cultivation realm in combination with braincore has lowered my sleep requirement to a single full night per week. Remove process that keeps analysing visual memories containing Tess, again.
Light Island, or Wave Island is gorgeous. There are tall white buildings everywhere. It looks like a futuristic tropical vacation resort complete with white beaches and palm-like trees. No big mountains on this one, just flowing hills rising out of the sea dotted with tall, bleached structures. I’d say it was worth the almost week of sailing to get here.
While I’m waiting for Ares to get her shit together, I might as well take inventory of what happened in the last few days. First off, Tess and Ket have broken through to the qi condensation realm. They managed to compress the gaseous qi in their cores by sheer force of will.
I always suspected that wilfully removing your cultivation base and reforming it gives willpower a significant boost. It literally feels like you are dying while doing so. Those two rebuilt their bases the most and tried all types of cores. It feels pretty nice to strike that theory off of my to-research list after the centuries it has been on there.
The rest are nearing the next realm too, except for Selis and Ares. Selis because she only experimented with changing the flavour of her qi intent and Ares because the rest got a head start. I forcefully rebuilt Ares’s core a few times, which proves that the removal and rebuilding needs to be done by the individual themselves.
Another theory of mine is also confirmed beyond reasonable doubt at this point. Advancement from a mortal to the qi condensation realm should not be this quick. The reason why it has been possible on this planet is due to the complete lack of qi.
The cultivation world had been blasted by ungodly amounts of qi for many, many years. Even a single rock held a rather large amount of qi in structural form. This permeation of qi made sensing the energy difficult, separating wild qi from qi under one's control usually took years. It was like figuring out what water is your own, while being underwater. The qi gathering stage was all about gathering small strands of personal qi and filling your core with the stuff.
Then there is Tree. I have slightly underestimated the growth rate that my very own pocket dimension went through. The installation of the fancy mana to qi converter now adorning the massive tree has sped up the rise of qi levels significantly. Tree feels very content. Its previous goal was to be the tallest tree around. It certainly has achieved that goal now, and it’s using the smidgen of intelligence it possesses to turn the disc of land into a lush forest filled with all kinds of herbs and plants.
I poured a lot of seawater in there along the way, setting it to a slow spin. It now cools the slowly growing volcano, transporting that heat clockwise towards the cold mountain. There it clashes with the self-sustaining ice mountain, generating more qi. The circulating wind has brought its first heavy rains, causing even more life and motion in the form of small rivers running back to the sea surrounding the lands.
I am starting to feel slightly reassured about the increasing levels of qi in the air. It totals an early stage foundation realm cultivator. Not enough for me to significantly advance, but that is something I am planning to change soon. I could advance to the foundation realm but would need to suck dry nearly all the accumulated qi. That would reset the entire process and would be rather stupid.
All the life that came along with the earth and dirt I kidnapped also helped. Life breeds conflict and conflict is just clashing energies. Qi clashing with qi generates more qi, so all the insects, bacteria and fungi living everywhere are generating non-trivial amounts of qi.
This entire area of research is rather groundbreaking work. Back in the cultivation world, this area of study was non-existent. Why bother with qi generators if the sun is generating more than you can use? I have read about dimensional artefacts and every slightly influential or powerful cultivator had at least one spatial ring back in the cultivation world, but using pocket dimensions to generate power is a new field of research.
There was this one clan who specialised in making pagoda-like structures in order to cultivate personal gardens. Making qi cycles was, to my knowledge, never done. Why bother producing fresh drinking water when you are living on top of an ocean of the stuff? It’s kind of like that.
Enough water comparisons for now. Let’s get to the most important update. Lola has been gaining power. I’m not sure when it happened, but she is a high-level condensation heartcore cultivator now. I think she will enter the solid core realm soon. I need to speed up my own process, I can’t let myself be beaten by a bunny rabbit baby. I also have made some advancements in my central knowledge database, but that can be discussed later.
“You know how you want to do this yet?”
“Why are you putting me in charge?” Ares sure whines a lot today. Here we are, about to rescue her master from a rather uncertain fate of becoming nothing more than a pretty crystal skull and she is just a pile of quivering nerves.
“Worst case scenario, what are they going to do? Heal us to death?” Let’s poke her a bit.
“All medicine is poison.” That’s a rather good comeback. I have to admit. What can I say in return?
Nothing. I can't come up with anything. Ah well, can't win them all. “If you don't want to go and save the old sod, let’s leave!”
“No, wait. I...” I see her make up her mind. “I have a plan.”
“Lay it on me.”
“Ares, I have to say, this is the most boring plan ever.” We are walking across Wave Island, in the middle of the street, all clustered up together. I’m covering us in a thin sheet of ‘IGNORE ME’ qi while Ares guides the way.
“Sssh, what if we are found out?” whispers Ares while looking around frantically.
“Relax, sis. Teach is the best at being a creepy stalker.”
“Totally, he can creep like the best of them!” Tess only adds insult to injury.
“His best skill is indeed being unnoticed. Until he blows something up again. Don’t think I didn't see what happened to that fire mage island.” Et tu, Rhea? I ignore the glaring woman at my side and take in the scenery. You can say what you want about this place being built upon exploitation of the lower classes, it sure is pretty.
“Are we there yet?”
“Shut up Ket.”
“Shut up Tess. Don’t walk so near to me.”
I’ll admit, I could have made the stealth field large enough for us all to walk comfortably. That would mean I would miss out on Ket trying to avoid Tess and the shapely figure rubbing up against my side. Bord is walking behind us, or more like we are all walking around Bord? He seems to be getting fatter by the day.
My mind stops working for a second. My group of disciples is made up of a permanently pissed off catwoman, a blob of lard, an autistic numberphile and a girl that looks cute and sweet while being as mean as the devil when angered. Let’s not talk about the heartcore healer of questionable sexuality and his quivering pile of nerves that he calls his sister. Or about the shadow girl. Or about a rabbit with a forehead horn fetish. And what about the fact that my dao companion is a shapeshifting lady from a custom engineered narcoleptic race of dragons?
I take a deep breath. My existential crisis over, we move on.
“Master, please. You have to come with us. The high mages who become protectors never return. And Teach found a shadow skull made from crystal under Absence Island, and we think that the core all master mages have ends up growing until they die. Please come with us.”
We are inside a rather spacious mansion. Or maybe an apartment? It’s a huge penthouse on top of one of the large spires. I wanted to get a move on and asks Rhea to float us up there, which she refused. So we took the stairs. This building is the size of an average skyscraper.
“Ket how many stairs?”
“Three hundred thirty-six.”
And we had to pause a few times, crammed into an alcove while servants and mages walked by. I glare at Rhea, who is splendidly ignoring me. I do have a heartcore now, so being out of breath is rather hard, but it’s the principle of the thing.
Anyway, we are surrounding an old man who is sitting in a chair on a balcony, looking out across the island and sea. He seems at peace, somehow. I'm still taking in the surroundings and fail to notice that I'm being studied in return.
“So it is you.”
“I deny everything! I didn’t do nothing!” That should clear my name. Why did the old fart start accusing me all of a sudden?
“Just stop me if you had nothing to do with the following.” He keeps looking at me, so I keep looking at him. “Massive mana disturbances in the south. A premature beast gathering that contains no aberrants or mana mutants. A group of kids...” At this, he breaks eye contact with me in order to look at my students one by one. “...using unknown magics to rampage across Tower City without a single direct casualty. The Tower snapping in half. A bright light appearing on top of the Tower. A whirlwind destroying large parts of Tower City. Various noble houses losing massive amounts of income due to a book filled with secrets-”
“That was Selis. I had nothing to do with that one.” I point at the blue haired girl.
A textbook example of awkward silence follows. This old coot is rather sharp for his advanced age. He squints his eyes and continues.
“A trio of Flight attacking Tower City, Disintegration Island exploding, the disappearance of Absence Island and a massive fight at the mana dungeon.”
I decide to both fill the silence and fill out my curriculum vitae at the same time. “You missed a massive penis drawing in the grasslands, rampant kidnapping, both of people and material, the disappearance of a rather large mountain and a massive mana tornado at sea.”
His old face wrinkles into a smile. I like this guy. His aura feels stern but fair.
“So… You want to turn into this?” I construct a shielding formation around my hand and pull the shadow skull from my ring, showing it to him. “Or do you want to go do something else?”
His toothy grin is all the answer I need.
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