2.3 – Under the Banyan

Oh, the Aoyin sits under the old Banyan tree
Eating all the turtle-cattle he can see.
Shake, turtle-cattle, shake.
Flee from the four-horned beast.

– Hiisi Nursery Rhyme

 

When one wants to go up, one must first go down. Why? Stability! And, well, resources too, but mainly stability at the moment. I hesitate, staring anxiously at my obnoxious, unwanted hole. For a second I wonder if I really want to do this. If I do, there is an enormous possibility that I will have just landed myself in another whole heap of trouble, but if I don’t, I feel like I’ll stagnate and die whenever the next wave of whatever comes. Most likely eiras at the moment. Then again, they’ll swarm anyway if I do this.

Think positive. Be proactive. I’ve been just riding the flow, and that needs to change if I want to survive in this world. So, time to face my fears. Ice powers, activate!

I reach out and tug at the ice around the hole, pulling it down and at the same time widening the hole. I grit my teeth in my head as I do. There’s a war of instincts raging in my head, the desire for growth versus the absolute loathing to expand this cursed hole. But I keep going, pulling the ice down and down and down, picking up more and more ice as I go, and packing the sides of the hole so they’re thick, hard, and stable. It’s a long way down, but not nearly as long as I had hoped. Looks like my buffer between me and the sea below wasn’t as thick as I once thought. Soon enough, my influence has flooded the whole expanse of the hole and I’m through to the waters below.

Hesitantly, I look around with whatever sense I use to view my domain remotely. I hadn’t ever taken notice of it before, but that sense was quite a bit different from the one I used to view the immediate surroundings around my core. It was like my remote viewing was in black and white without any sound, or maybe more like if you could somehow see what the feeling of something walking across your skin looked like. It was strange, not at all like the bright colors and normal vision I used to see my immediate surroundings.

Underneath the ice was even stranger. I could feel the lighting was blue tinged with green even if I couldn’t exactly see it. And it was cold. So, very cold. But not desolate like one would think. It was thriving. I could feel the life pulsing through the water even though there was nothing living in my direct vicinity except strange clear anemones grasping the underside of the ice.

What a strange world. It wasn’t what I was expecting, which was, I don’t know, a massive wasteland of only big scary things with pointy teeth? But, no this… this I immediately fell in love. Clear water as far as the eye can see, jellyfish floating serenely in the distance, and a carpet of star fish all in this underwater closed off world. I couldn’t help but stare for a long time. There’s no way I’m not going to make this place mine.

I look around once again and see something that catches my interest. Long roots of ice hang down from the ceiling. I spread out my influence a little more. I was expecting more resistance, but I guess that this underwater world qualifies as more of a cave than open ocean, so none of my instincts or even the system are preventing me from moving outward from the hole.

I close in on a hanging icicle thing and inspect it. It’s weird. There’s something flowing from the tip. It’s… it’s water, actually. And looking closely at the water with my [elemental manipulation] skill provides me with the information that it is really, really salty water. Brine, I think it was called. The salt seems to be keeping the water from freezing as it drips down the cracks in the ice. When it hits the less salty water, it causes that water to freeze, creating these weird hollow brinicles. But these are exactly what I’m looking for, and a much easier way of executing what I’m planning.

I give a little dance of glee in my head and then spot my fully fed sliver fish returning. Hi. Look at what I found! Oh, well I guess you guys have already seen it, but guess what, these will be the roots of my world. You can go back up there. Send the others down, will you? I give a mental wave as they swim up the hole and turn my attention back to the brinicle.

I sit there and think for a moment, staring at the icicle as the other half of my fish swam down the hole and floated protectively around me, occasionally snapping at a few of the krill drifting through the water.

Salt, huh. Salt, salt, salt. Salt’s a mineral. Minerals are like earth, though by the looks of it, I doubt that [earth manipulation] could actually influence salt. At least, not in it’s dissolved form. Is there a skill called [mineral manipulation]? I’m going to make a bet there is, and that it’d be classified as an earth element subset. Hm.., Well, can’t figure it out without trying, so here goes nothing.

I take a feel for the water around me using the [water manipulation] of [elemental manipulation]. The water swirled around me exactly as I wished, and I played with it a bit more to get a better feel for it. Mini whirlpools sprang up as I swirled the water around. Then I stopped moving it and just let it run through my imaginary fingers, feeling the components of the water. Tiny microbes, bits of sand and algae, and lots and lots of salt jetting from the brinicle. I focused on the salt and tried to pull it towards me.

It was weird, honestly. Moving the salt by moving the water was easy, but moving the salt through the water was another matter. Different from ice’s slipperiness, or water’s draining, salt tended to disintegrate whenever I managed to get a hold of it. It was aggravating. I tried again and again and again, and finally, I just scooped a whole bunch of salt together and yanked. It shot towards where my independent perspective was hanging from the hole. It was so sudden and surprising that I instinctively withdrew to my core in my garden room with a light simulating a pounding heartbeat.

Calm down. I just scared myself, that’s all. I took a look at the two lazy bums still sleeping on my floor. It didn’t look like they’d be up anytime soon. Hesitantly, I drift back to the brinicle. Nothing about it changed except that it grew several inches in my hole’s direction. The surrounding area was still clear of large predators and such as well. Good, looks like it’ll take a while, but even without [mineral manipulation], I’ll still be able to grow the icicle.

I put the project aside for a second and yanked some ice into the water. It was strangely difficult, like trying to sew leather. The ice had a tendency to break off and float back to the ceiling if I did it wrong, and the water pushed against the ice at every angle. Manipulating both at the same time was just as hard as trying to force the ice deeper into the water, but eventually I was able to anchor the ice to the ground.

It confirmed my suspicions. With salt, once I got a hold of it, the whole process would be much easier as it would be just guiding the salt through the water and letting it freeze everything for me. Not to mention, it’d be easier to create fresh water by taking the salt out of it. I might be able to acquire other minerals somehow. Then I could work on interesting designs and decorations! Among other things…

I spread my influence further into the water until it was a wide bubble around my hole. I begin the struggle of drawing all the salt in the water to a single point on the ceiling. Little bits of ice formed in the water as the salt grew more concentrated. They floated to the ceiling like flower petals floating in the breeze. It was pretty and it distracted me for a second. My influence fluctuated and flooded out further than I had intended.

Life is slow to take root, but quick to flourish. – Ju Lan

Congratulations! Your influence strengthens. Your hold over your domain will not falter.

[Influence VI]: You’ve dominated 25,000 creatures. Creatures will now fall under your influence faster. (6% to creature conversion rate)

An ecosystem thrives only because of the abundance of its smallest part. –  Silver Alchemist Ariana

Congratulations! Your influence grows exponentially. The creatures that inhabit your domain are small, but many.

[Influence V]: You’ve dominated 100,000 creatures. Creatures will now fall under your influence faster. (8% to creature conversion rate)

Congratulations! You have acquired new animals and plants due to your spreading influence: Animals – 24,091 Rhew Krill, 2 Ghost Medusa Jellyfish, 123 Purple Sea Stars, 92 Durian Sea Urchins, 1 Vent Octopus, 3 Sea Spiders, 5 Feathered Stars, 24 Ice fish, 19 Orange Sea Squirt, 560 Glass Anemones, 1 Star Slug; Plants – 130,000+ Green Algae, 432 Zebra Kelp, 142 Soft Coral
The least of all is often the most significant. – Quilin Proverb

Congratulations! You only grow as fast as your environment.

Level [16]!: You’ve reached 100,000 creatures. (+15 health; +2 mana; +10 path points; full restore)

 

Ah. Oh, wow. That sent shivers down the edge of my core. I felt the massive amount of animals and plants connect to me all at once as my influence washed over them. While not as strong a connection as the ones I had with my monsters, the sheer amount almost overwhelmed me. I soak in the feeling a moment longer, wondering if any of these creatures had corresponding monsters, before moving back to my salt exercises.

I gather the salt in the water back to my spot on the ceiling of ice, slowly guiding more and more salt through the water until an icicle begin to form. I guide the growing tube all the way to the sea floor where I make it spread out like a skirt. I use this tube like scaffolding, pulling the ice from above and ice I made from because of concentrated salt to reinforce the structure, and soon, I have a twisting pillar of ice solidly anchored to the seabed. I grin, adding |aura of light| in swirling patterns around the pillar, making it look like eerie glowing ancient alien technology I once saw… somewhere. I wonder if I’ll ever get my memories back.

Congratulations! You have gained understanding of an |Elemental Subset| of [Earth]. You are now able to manipulate |Minerals| as part of [Elemental Manipulation X]

 

Yes! Right on the money! I called it! I totally called it. Even got the name right. Beat that, sucker!

After that, it’s a breeze to create my ice pillars underwater. I pull and twist and shape the pillars into increasingly odd shapes, tangling them all together in random patterns of thick and thin, then connecting them all to the ceiling around my hole and reinforcing the ice all around. The glow cast from my swirling |aura of light| lights up the twilight of this underwater world, making it look stranger still. |Ice silk|, connected to the twisting forest of pillars, drifts in the currents. It’s like a fairy palace, grown from the roots of an ancient tree.

I’m proud of myself. You can’t tell me that I didn’t do a good job. The whole thing looks like the exposed roots of some banyan tree, and it stretches a good 100 feet or so in every direction. It’d be hard for anything large to navigate the twisting roots even with the rather large amounts of open space in between them. They just fold in on themselves too much.

I smile, seeing that my creatures are already starting to make a home within the roots. The starfish began to climb them, while the octopus had already found a cozy nook formed out of several ice pillars. Ice fish swim leisurely and the krill swarm in clouds, chased occasionally by my sliver fish. I’m not sure where the jellyfish went, but they’re probably around here somewhere. Everything else will take time to grow up the pillars. I frown a bit, thinking that my glowing designs would get covered up by the plant life, but then I brighten when I think that it’ll lend more to the whole ancient feeling. Later on I might come back to see if I can imbue |aura of light| to the plants themselves. Overall, though, I gotta say, it’s pretty crazy to look at.

Speaking of auras. Hey, blue screens, can you add them to my status? It’d be helpful. Aura’s are starting to be my bread and butter after [elemental manipulation]. Oh, add that too, what elements I can use. Pretty Please!

Status Menu
Name: Haven [Locked] Race: Legendary Dungeon Level: 16*  Attribute: Green
Health: 309/309* (2/min) Mana: 240/318* (2/min) State: Normal
 Biomes: 2* Floors: ?%Ξ] Named Monsters: 1
 Monsters: 35 Animals: 24,921* Plants: 130,500+*
[Ξ]
Path Points: 13*
Paths: {Beginner V (0/20)} {Ingenuity II (0/60)} {Valiant II (0/120)} {Defender III (0/20)}
Skills: [Influence V]* [Incorporation III] [Ambient Aura VII] [Plant Growth I] [Green Thumb I] [Tamer II] [Karma II] [Natural Projectile III] [Core Teleportation] [Epithet] [Elemental Manipulation X] [Biome Creation] [Fluid Floors]
Achievements: |Ingenuity!| |Powerful!| |Dauntless!| |Against the Odds!| |Crack Shot!| |Breeder!| |Safe Guard!|
[Ξ]
Auras:* |Aura of Light|, |Aura of Warmth|, |Aura of Fury|, |Aura of Souls|, |Aura of Protection|, |Aura of the Lost|  
Fire:* Main Water:* Main, Ice Earth:* Main, Plants, Minerals*  Air:* Main

 

Sweet! It actually listened. But man my status is getting long. I wonder how other people deal with it.

 

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AN- Hope the scene isn’t too hard to imagine.

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