Aug 01, 2021 11:56 PM
Bys in modern earth joins a cultivator chatroom
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"If you decide to try her new Body Tempering Liquid recipe and come over to our side she'll probably repay you for that and this with a few blood and qi pills - the red things you saw in my purse, they let you cultivate faster and do a better Hundred Days' Foundation Building."

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"Hrm. Obvious enough name for the first step. Come over to your side meaning, what, being on tap for errands? Joining a sect?"

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"Deciding to become a cultivator. It doesn't really matter whether you cultivate loosely or not, a sect wouldn't prioritize you because you won't have newborn qi for your foundation building... You'll be bottom of the totem pole either way. You wouldn't have to do errands, but if you wanted to advance..."

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"Oh. I'm not going to get anything for nothing, I know that." She takes a deep breath. "I think I will. It's a direction in life, and - a wakeup call, I guess. I could just keep fishing forever, but I'm only treading water. So. She wants an amateur to try the new recipe? See if it's really as easy as all that, and any good at all?"

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"Yeah. It would help a lot with potency testing."

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"...Yeah, 'experimental medicine'. Hah. Well, that's how it goes. Glad to be of assistance. Are there books I can read on the world of cultivation? I wouldn't want to be a pest to the group asking stupid basic questions all the time."

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"Not really, no. Knowledge's pretty closely guarded, since it often makes the difference between life and death. You should ask Silver Starlight, she's the admin and would know what's safe to share. That said, I can sketch the broad picture for you. 

First things first - China is the heartland of cultivation and cultivators from there rule basically everything they have a care to, because it takes hundreds of years to develop high rank and the Chinese have always guarded their knowledge jealously. On the other hand, the world is very large and there is no translation charm. So the chinese cultivators who have their hooks in other countries are mostly quite young - Battle Kings, mostly - and as a result a lot of the planet is really still up for grabs. The chat group is mostly made up of international genius practitioners who've made fifth rank in under two hundred years. So in short: Don't piss off China. Silver Starlight and Eight Tails are sixth-rank True Monarchs and can wipe out whole sects on their own, but even together they're no match for a seventh-stage Venerable."

She pauses to accept the food from the waitress, and takes a slug of her milk. "Looks tasty. Where was I? Oh yes, cultivation ranks. There are nine major ranks - Beyond Mortal, True Master, Battle King, Inborn, Spirit Sovereign, True Monarch, Spirit Venerable, Profound or Ancient Saint or Demon, Tribulation Immortal. Spirit Sovereign is genuinely impressive, True Monarch and above are terrifying. Battle King is the strongest rank you can expect someone to reach in eighty years - I've been in Beyond Mortal for three years now, trying and failing to leap the Dragon Gate." 

She frowns. "I'm telling this all out of order. I should start from the beginning of the cultivation process." She pours syrup on her french toast and starts cutting it up. "To complete the first rank, you do the Hundred Days' Foundation Building, open your Heart Aperture - that makes you Beyond Mortal - then open your five senses and finally complete fish leaping the dragon gate, and that gives you True Qi and makes you a True Master. The five apertures are fairly easy, you can get them in under a year, but leaping the dragon gate can take forty years if you don't have the resources to force your way through. About one in every seventeen cultivators never makes it past. I've tried three times now over three years and never succeeded."

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She has a notebook, into which she is all but scribbling.

"And even the first rank makes you stronger? What is - actually 'cultivating' like?"

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Nix puts some french toast in her mouth, chews, swallows. Washes it down with milk. "The body tempering liquid will put you in the prime of physical health, and then completing the Hundred Days' Foundation Building and opening your heart aperture will give you another forty years of healthy life or thereabouts. Opening your five sense apertures will sharpen the senses significantly and might give you unique abilities - I have a scent ability, I can track like a bloodhound and determine things' makeup just from how they smell, very useful for testing ingredients. Once you break through to True Master your lifespan doubles to around 240 years, and it keeps increasing after that. Senior Red is around 500 years old."

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"The last stage had 'immortal' in the name..."

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"Not technically ageless, but a lifespan measured in millions of years. Practical immortality."

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"Wow. But not without a lot of hard work and luck."

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"Fifth rank - Spirit Sovereign - is a reasonable lifetime achievement to shoot for, and has a lifespan of about a thousand years."

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"I'm eager to get started. And glad I took you seriously. If you need help with errands like this in future, I'm almost certainly willing."

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Nix halfsmiles. "Eat your french toast. Things will take a little while even at the fastest speed. Remember, cultivation can take centuries. Going at it impetuously is a good way to die."

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"Sooner started sooner finished, though."

She takes a deep breath and eats her breakfast.

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"True. Some geniuses cultivate astonishingly fast." She shoves more french toast into her mouth. "You can't bet on being a genius though. I bet there'll be people in the group with jobs for you if you look."

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Bettrys eats more slowly.

"...If I'm gonna be anything, it's determined, I think. I'm no genius by any measure."

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"Good attitude. Keep your head down and you might still be around in a century."

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"Anything else I should know now instead of asking later?"

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"No sharing techniques without permission unless you want nobody to ever share techniques with you again. Don't go talking to randoms about this. Oh, and - do you have a private place to practice?"

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"No. Just a small apartment. I'll make sure to find one."

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"Silver Starlight owns a house in Cardiff if you'd be willing to move. Free rent."

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"...I'll have to think about it. It's probably less valuable than those pills to her, but still it's a sort of debt. And I am used to here."

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"Whatever you decide." 

She keeps eating.

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