If there was one thing many months of training on a random rock in the middle of the ocean had done for John, it was to make his nice clothes look like garbage. If there were two things, then it made his clothes smell like dead fish and look worse. If there were three things… well, he could at least waft the scent away from himself with his control of air. Aydan didn’t look any better than him. Yet they had the important things- enough money to buy travel supplies, and also to stop at a restaurant that served something besides fish.
Dolomite harbor didn’t have a wide variety of choices, and it seemed like everyone else had the same thoughts- the place was packed. Then again, it was about the right time for dinner so perhaps it was natural that everywhere was full. As they stepped inside, they were met by a man in work attire. Before he could speak John asked, “Do you serve anything that isn’t fish?”
“Yes…” the man responded hesitantly.
“Great. We’ll take a table.”
“Ah.” He looked for a moment like he might refuse, but John felt him appraising the two of them. “We’re quite busy. You’d have to share a table.”
“Fine,” John nodded.
“Then, follow me,” the man reluctantly showed them through the room to a back corner with a small table that really should have only fit one instead of three. The young man at the table was scarfing down food and ignored the two new arrivals. “What will you have?”
John pulled out a few coins to help the man relax. “As I said, anything without fish for the two of us. And something decent to drink.” His mouth tasted like saltwater, though of course he’d done his best to purify things into actual water. The salt just built up forever.
The server left towards the kitchen and John studied the young man sitting at the table with them. Something about him felt familiar, but he didn’t know what. Except maybe his resemblance to them. Dirty hair and beard, and a coating of grime on his skin as if he’d had a bag of soot dumped on him. Only the area around his mouth was clean as he scooped soup into his mouth.
Soon enough the server came back with two more bowls of the soup. It seemed to mostly be chicken and rice, but the fact that it wasn’t fish made it heavenly. John tossed the server his coins and started chowing down. He could see why people would come here- the portions were generous, if nothing else. He could have eaten the whole bowl in a single minute, but he took his time. As much as his body would let him. He slowed himself down with big sips of some sort of strong alcohol that burned on the way down and didn’t in any way go with the soup. But at least it wasn’t salty water, so it passed.
Of course, such a ‘wonderful’ meal couldn’t go without interruptions. The loud raucous of patrons around them was broken by a louder proclamation from some fool standing at the foot of the stairs leading to the second floor. “Everyone is too loud! Leave!”
While people scrambled for the door, John continued to spoon soup into his mouth. It was just a mid foundation phase fancy pants sort of guy. Nothing to concern himself with. The young man at the table in front of him also continued without concern.
As expected, a few moments later the fellow stomped over to their table. “I said everyone out! You’re disrupting the young master’s meal!”
Aydan was about to act when the third member of their table stood up. “You’re disrupting my meal now. You’re the one who should leave.”
“Why you-” a straightforward punch towards the young man carried with it the weight of earth- however it was caught in a single hand. Then the fancy pants’ long sleeved shirt caught on fire, and a moment later he ran screaming out of the building.
John nodded seriously to himself. Being aware of elemental matchups was important. If they were otherwise evenly matched that would be the biggest factor. Then again, the fancy pants wasn’t a match. That totem had to be at least fifth tier. Familiar, but not. John squinted. Nope, still didn’t remember. The dirt and perhaps soot didn’t help one bit.
He managed to get three more spoonfuls consumed before people came stomping down from the second floor. Half a bowl was a good start, but he’d have preferred to have time to finish. Then he would have just left.
A full seven people stomped down the stairs, all in fine clothing. Young master, bodyguard, bodyguard, some girl, lackey, friend, clan member. Something like that, anyway. One of the bodyguards stepped forward. “Who dares disturb the young master of the Quartz clan?”
The young man in front of them continue to spoon soup into his mouth. That part wasn’t familiar at all. Fire energy. He went to an entire country full of fire cultivators, so that didn’t tell him anything. Didn’t seem like a Milanovic.
The bodyguard stomped over, but once again before John or Aydan had to react, the young man stood up. “Got a complaint? Because your man attacked me and you’re disrupting this place’s business.”
“Hmph. The young master will pay for any inconvenience they suffer.”
“Is that so?” Blue flames grew around the young man’s body, and he leaped into a flying kick. The bodyguard blocked with his two arms, sliding back along the floor and tearing up boards. He didn’t directly suffer any damage… but the blue flames spread to him.
Blue flames. Blue hair. John knew people with green hair. Blue hair wasn’t unique, but he couldn’t quite place it. The second guard had gotten himself ignited and then extinguished by flailing on the ground by the time John gave up. He was about to go back to his soup when the table was shattered by a flying blue haired young man. John had grabbed his bowl, but the huge splash that followed sloshed half the remaining soup on the floor- and pretty well ruined all of it. John turned to Aydan. “You get that one,” John pointed to the ‘friend’. Another earth cultivator with a different aura. His target was the lackey with water element cultivation.
He threw his bowl like a frisbee, just the right amount of his darkness energy on it to make it seem like a threat. In fact, it intentionally seemed like much more of a threat than it was. Thus, the young man who was obviously too poorly dressed to be a friend of this young master vigorously dodged to the side, letting John close in.
John slashed forward with his sword, darkness and earth combining together to try to crush his opponent. A bubble of water was maneuvered to stop his attack. He could still beat his way through it if he wanted to… but with another slash that had lightning hidden underneath, he shocked the lackey and disrupted his control over the water barrier. Not thinking this needed to be escalated, John turned his blade to swipe him with the flat, knocking him prone. Aydan finished his lower cultivation opponent in a few moments as well.
The blue haired guy was fighting both the remaining earth cultivator who was better dressed and the young master of the Quartz clan. Honestly, John had no idea how many Quartz clans there were in the Stone Conglomerate, but it was more than a handful. This likely wasn’t one of the relevant ones.
The elemental advantage and technical skill of the fire cultivator quickly overcame the two-to-one situation, and the young master was rolling on the ground to put out the fire. Seemingly deciding things had gone far enough, the young man waved his hand and quashed the fires. The young woman with the Quartz fop flipped her hair and walked out of the establishment.
“He’ll pay for the damages,” the blue haired fire cultivator pointed to the young master on the floor. Then he turned to John and gave him a thumbs up. John responded accordingly. “Thanks for the assist! Water sucks, man.”
“Yeah you gotta watch for those conquering elements.” Gears turned, turned, and finally clicked. Blue hair. Fire element. Thumbs up. “Hey, didn’t I see you at the volcano last year?” It was easier to recognize him with some of the grime burned off.
“Hmm, darkness, earth… oh yeah!” He smiled, “Thanks for that. I kinda overestimated my abilities. Then I almost gave up. Kinda stupid. Clearly I could do better.”
John nodded, looking down at the prone figures. They were slowly recovering. “Should we get going?”
“Oh yeah, totally. Kinda forgot, stuff happens like this all the time.”
“All the time?” John raised an eyebrow. He understood that sometimes people were idiots. That was why the establishment stayed out of it- as long as things didn’t go too far, there would simply be reprimands and of course someone would have to pay for the damage. “I used to be a troublemaking asshole and I only started like, a single fight in a restaurant.”
“I completely understand. One day I woke up in a ditch and just thought ‘what the hell was this guy doing’?”
John nodded as they stepped out of the restaurant together, “I never got your name.”
“It’s Ste- Lucanus. My name is Lucanus.”
John’s eyes narrowed. “What does this gesture mean to you, Steven?”
“It’s Steve- I mean Lucanus. It’s just… a thumb’s up? It means everything’s all good, and whatever.”
“Uncle Aydan,” John gave him a thumbs’ up. Aydan awkwardly reproduced the gesture, looking at his hand to see if he got it right. John turned to ‘Lucanus’. He tried English. “So, Steve. What killed you? Car crash?”
“Nah it was a piano.” Steve blinked, “Uh…”
“How good are you at keeping secrets?”
“Normally better than this,” Steve said sheepishly.
“Good. I’m John,” he held out his hand. “Welcome to the Transmigrator’s Club. I’m the founding member, just now.”
Steve shook his hand. “Cool? I don’t really know what to say. It’s weird we both speak English, right?”
John shrugged, “How many worlds are connected together, really? Could be just a few.” Aydan was watching curiously as they spoke. “Tons of people speak English. Bet we could find more people with some other languages, though. They know about transmigrators here. Though it’s hard to say what the extent of that knowledge is.”
“This is crazy info,” Steve said, frowning.
“Crazier than being attacked ‘all the time’?”
He shrugged, “I guess not. So what should we do?”
“Nothing?” John shrugged. “We live here now. Unless you want to test the only possible way to go back.”
“I’m good,” Steve held up his hands. “Things are going alright for me here. Oh, I never caught your name.”
“John. Though if you want to see me later,” John gestured a zipping motion across his lips.
“Got it. Secret.” He looked at Aydan, “And him?”
“He knows about me. Probably you too now, but it’s fine. Anyway, I’m Fortkran Tenebach.”
“Oh man, I heard about you. It was a whole thing when you came to the Green Sands. Should have figured it out, seeing you up on Zolvolj.” Steve looked over his shoulder. “Look, I have a tournament I should be getting to. Can we talk later? When we’re both… cleaned up.”
“I’m heading back home,” John said. “But it’s not hard to find the Tenebach clan. I’ll let them know you’re coming… Lucanus?”
“Great. It might be… a while. I keep pretty busy.”
“That’s cultivation,” John agreed. “Hey, if I hear anything about all this that matters, I’ll let you know. I’m not sure if there will be much to say, though. Just that transmigrators tend to be special. Try not to let it go to your head.”
“Same with you, young master Tenebach.”
“Yeah yeah, I get it. I think I’m doing fine, though.” The two of them finally split off, and John turned to Aydan, finding it strange to switch languages back to one his body was familiar with but not his self. “Well. I have some interesting news for you! Though you might have already guessed.”
Aydan nodded. “An interesting young man as well. We should keep our eye on him. We can confirm… details… later.”