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There had been little chance for John to enjoy tourism in his new world. For the first part of his time he was in a place he remembered as a hometown, so even though things were technically new to him they felt quite ‘normal’. He was still able to enjoy the entertainment available, but he didn’t find it to be anything special. In the Green Sands, he hadn’t really been able to enjoy anything. He was too focused on not burning up during that time to really enjoy anything about the area. Cultivation was enjoyable to some extent, but not to the point it could replace other forms of recreation.
When he thought of tourism, many things came into John’s mind. There was a big emphasis on visiting particular buildings or interesting places, but it was also about food and culture. As expected from part of the Stone Conglomerate, nothing was so drastically different about the culture as to draw his attention, but its position did open it up to new and interesting food.
A majority of that food was fish, or other things from the sea that were technically not fish but still fell in the same category. He could have gone to fancy restaurants to see how they served it all, but he didn’t feel like spending that much money. The very best would likely require prior reservations and enough cost to buy a weapon or armor with decent spiritual enchantments. Some people extolled the virtues of fine food, comparing it to miraculous medicines suited for improving cultivation- but people on Earth ate shark fin soup and used rhino horns as medicine and both of those were neutral at best. John didn’t doubt that some meals might be beneficial to cultivation but many more would be of no benefit or straight up scams. He might enjoy a tasty meal, but he could also enjoy crunchy and greasy fried fish for a tiny fraction of the price.
For the most part, John just had a relaxing stroll about the city. He didn’t get in any fights or spend ridiculous amounts of money at an auction. He mostly just took the time to relax from a very nice spot he found looking down over the lower part of the harbor from the edge of the cliffs.
The smell of the sea was quite enjoyable from his vantage point, with the nice smell of salt but not the smell of fish and the like. A gentle breeze blew over him, and he felt there was a perfect balance of elements around him. A perfect balance, not necessarily the perfect balance. It certainly wasn’t an even mix. Earth and water were most prominent, with a nice breeze of air from the Shimmering Islands. Fire was only minimally present in the form of warm but not too warm sun. The light that came with it was too bright, but… in a good way? It was that moment where you step outside into the sun and then your eyes adjust. Unpleasant and then quite comfortable. Darkness elemental spiritual energy wasn’t highly present outside of John himself, but he had just the right amount of shade for everything to feel right.
Others probably all had their own ideas about a perfect balance of elements, but this was one for John. Not for fighting or cultivating, but just for being. For a while, that was good enough.
Then he was filled with desire to cultivate down on the docks. No special epiphany, but just a simple desire to test out what he could do. He turned to his uncle Aydan- a quiet guardian for the most part, and a nice source of stability. “How hard its it to stand on water?”
Aydan cracked a grin at the sudden question. “Is that what you were thinking about? The answer is… it varies. You could certainly spread out a large enough bubble of spiritual energy to prevent yourself from sinking for a time. Properly standing on the surface without distorting it significantly would require use of air or water.”
“I’m going to go try it.”
With that declaration, they started heading down the stairs to the harbor. Going up and down them several times in a day would be a real pain if he wasn’t a cultivator, but his body had improved to better than it could have ever been on Earth and a little bit of support with spiritual energy left him nearly able to run up and down the long, winding stairs. He probably would have tried it, if not for all the people around watching and getting in the way. He did have to keep his dignity.
For the same reason, he didn’t choose to go to the docks by the Wavecutter. He didn’t need more family and the like watching him mess around. He was probably going to end up dunking himself in the water at some point, and he preferred if only a bare minimum of people watched it happen.
He found some creaky old docks with no boats tied up. The stone it was made out of was cracked and crumbling and he wondered just how old it had to be for that to happen. Likewise, he wondered why it was sitting unrepaired. It seemed that even cities of cultivators fell behind on infrastructure repairs.
John stayed to the sturdier parts of the pier, sensing for structural stability with his earth elemental spiritual energy. He wasn’t practiced with uses like that, but he could at least tell if it would hold his weight. He moved out to the end of the dock and looked down at the water. Deciding to save the inevitable dunking for later, he sat down with his legs over the end, dangling his feet towards the water.
Creating a barrier around his feet to keep the water away from them wasn’t hard. More difficult was spreading it out to cover a large enough area that it could hold his weight. He wove his darkness and earth energy together, creating a sort of shell. He noticed water splashing into it and pooling inside, so he adjusted it to be one directional. The task was more difficult than he thought, creating a large barrier instead of just a skin around his body. Finally he was satisfied with what he had and stepped onto the water.
He nearly toppled over onto his back, because his bubble of energy wasn’t attached to anything. The only thing that let him keep his feet was that the energy was his and he could force his body to orient with it. He just stood there for a few moments, bobbing up and down with the waves, holding out a hand to keep himself from being pushed against the pier.
He had a problem. He couldn’t move. He had a little semicircle of spiritual energy pushing away water and in turn pushing back to hold him up. But it was below his feet. He shifted one foot forward. His grip on the pier was the only thing that prevented him from toppling once more, as the bubble under his feet shifted with his ‘stationary’ foot. He needed to attach it to himself differently. Maybe widen it out so that where he stepped was still inside the shape.
At its current size it was taking energy that felt like what he would use in active combat, though some of that was his lack of efficiency with a new task. Expanding it so that the bottom of the trough was the width of his stride instead of the natural separation of his feet would significantly increase that. Changing the shape… was not easy.
That was the point that he went splashing into the water. The tenuous structure he’d created tore apart as he tried to expand it, leaving enough holes for him to straight up fall into the water. His reaction was fast enough to close his mouth so he didn’t get a lungful of water, and he was swimming with his head above the surface a moment later. Then he stretched out on his back, just barely supporting himself with his energy to make up for the weight of his soaked clothing.
He thought on what he had done wrong. Though it would be more complicated, having one semicircle of energy centered on each foot would be better. There was certainly a better configuration, but he could do that. If he was trying something similar with physical objects they would bump into each other… but with just his own energy it could slide right through.
John slowly created another ‘raft’ underneath himself, then pulled himself into a sitting position. It was nice, bobbing up and down on the waves. Then he added another, starting above his head. He slowly pushed down, squeezing the water out of his hair. It was a gentle process, and he didn’t just blindly try to push away water. He kept even pressure, and avoided messing with any water inside his body. Except a brief stop to dry out his nose. His body certainly wasn’t dry when the second platform reached his feet, but he stood up gingerly and attached each to one foot.
One foot stretched out, and he could feel that his balance was still shaky with them. He adjusted them to not attach so much to the bottom of his foot and instead have their bottom towards the water. With that, he was able to walk around for a bit… a very little bit, before he found his energy waning. He was, after all, constantly pushing with seventy kilograms of force. That was just the weight his legs held supporting his body all the time, but temporary constructs of energy couldn’t use the solidity of his muscles and bones to resist. It just burned through its power as it provided that barrier between him and the harbor water.
Before he could get dunked again, he hopped back onto the pier. He certainly wouldn’t be trying to fight atop the water at any point soon. It took nearly his full concentration just to balance. Still… it was a reminder that he was not at all a normal person anymore. At least, not normal for Earth. Where he currently was… he might have been higher in cultivation than many people, but comparing to actual cultivators he was still near the low end. It turned out a year of hard work and more years of prior experience just weren’t sufficient to make up for a lifetime. Though he was quite pleased with his progress, especially how quickly he moved through the Spiritual Collection Phase. That could normally take several years, as Fortkran had experienced. He wasn’t the most hard working young master in the world, but Fortkran hadn’t been lazy about cultivation either. John was making better use of things, though.
His clothes and hair were still a little bit wet. He would take his time heading back towards the ship, just in case there was anyone there he needed to make a good impression on. He could try to squeeze out the last bits of water, but he might damage his clothing if he did. He had no significant practice with the water element yet, besides what he’d done in the last day and his spars with Matayal shortly after he transmigrated. Best to take things at the proper pace.