Tales From the Myriad Realms (Peregrine x kookyboy9)

Peregrine

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High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
It was cold.

So cold he couldn’t think.

So cold he couldn’t breathe.

In that moment, the notion of heat, warmth, comfort, seemed like the furthest existence from his reality. Instead, there was nothing but deathly numbness, beyond the point of pain.

However, somewhere deep inside of him, he knew that it wasn’t supposed to be this way.



“Are you sure you want to do this, Caller?”

In the middle of a round room, a middle aged man with long salt and pepper hair sat on the ground in front of a kneeling young man who looked just beyond the edge of teenagehood. Both of them were dressed in a black shirt and pants, their feet bare.

“It’s still not too late for you to back out.”

There was obvious worry on the face of the older man, as he stared at the youngster kneeling before him. However, the young man, Caller, showed nothing but determination on his face.

“I’m sure, Master. I’ve been waiting for this moment for years. I’m ready to begin.”

Caller’s confident words did nothing to reassure his master, who seemed to be oscillating between frustration and a deep-seated resignation. However, that didn’t stop him from urging his disciple one last time. “You’re a genius who touched upon a fragment of the law of fire while you were still in the xiantian realm. Caller, there’s no need for you to do this. Our sect’s methods are dangerous. You know this. Your third elder disciple brother still has yet to return from his last descent. You’re gifted; other sects’ methods would surely still be effective for you. There’s no need for this. No need, no need.”

“Master…” There was a trace of helplessness in Caller’s eyes. There was no counting exactly how many times he’d heard these types of words from his master in the past month since he’d formed and stabilized his law seed. None of them had done anything to dissuade him. “I believe in our sect’s methods. Everyone in the sect performed their first descent after forming their law seed. This is our tradition. I’m not going to be an exception.”

“Screw the tradition!” Caller’s master suddenly burst out, his patient expression suddenly vanishing. “If tradition is the only reason you’re doing this…”

“Master!” Caller interrupted, his voice firm and loud. “I believe in our sect’s methods. We’ve long since prepared a suitable world for me, and now it’s time for me to descend. If you won’t help me, I’ll go to uncle master and have him do it! You know he will, and there’s no way he’ll be as careful as you’d be.”

The older man was momentarily stunned, his mouth gaping slightly, before he finally shook his head. “Fine! Pig-headed boy, I swear you’re going to be the death of me one day.”

Taking a deep breath, the man clapped his hands sharply, and several panels on the wall spun around, revealing intricately carved lines that seemed to almost squirm across the wood. Several other people, dressed all in black, entered the room, their faces stern, glowing white objects cradled in their hands. They spaced themselves out equidistant around the room, before beginning to chant lightly.

In the middle of the room, Caller’s master stood up, his hands extended. Gradually, his fingers began to move in intricate patterns. The white light from the surrounding orbs was drawn towards him like gossamer threads. Under the influence of his gestures, it spun itself into a glowing sheet, which began to drape over Caller’s shoulders.

His vision growing blurry, Caller took a deep breath, steadying the rapid beating of his heart. Nervousness, excitement, he did his best to calm it all, instead paying attention to his master in front of him. Small sparks of fire were now arcing from his fingers, blending in to the glowing sheet that was obscuring Caller from view.

All of a sudden, there was a muffled thud from somewhere in the distance, and the room shook. On the side of the room, one of the chanters stumbled, his words breaking off in a sudden yelp of pain. A gust of cold air suddenly raced into the room, causing hair and garments to fly wildly. Caller felt the symbols around him suddenly grow burningly cold, enough that even he couldn’t repress a groan of pain. His vision continued to grow blurry, but in front of him he could see his master trying to shout, his hands reaching out as though hoping to catch Caller. However, before his master’s hands could touch him, Caller’s vision suddenly went dark.

And then nothing remained but bone-piercing cold.



In the darkness of his mind, thoughts began to flash.

Caller, no longer sure if he was dead or alive, felt arcs passing through his mind. Pictures of endless water appeared in front of him. A nearly naked woman, webbing growing between her fingers and toes, twirled around in the current, glancing back at him to smile playfully. In the corners of his eyes, he could see strands of white hair, tugged by the same current.

Then the image was suddenly gone, replaced by a giant monster. It looked something like an eel, but far larger than any human being. Arcs of lightning flashed from spines along its back, as it chased through several people in the water. Panic and fear raced through him, before his hands reached out, shoving a green-haired man swimming beside him into a tendril of kelp, which tangled his legs. The massive eel-like monster lunged forward, the wide-eyed, green-haired man instantly disappearing in bloody water.

The next instant, he was surrounded by people, long spines held in their hands. A green-haired woman, her face twisted in fury, lunged at him. Unable to dodge, he could only let it carve into his flesh, drawing a deep scar across the tattoos that covered his body. At her scream, the other surrounding people moved forward, cutting his body repeatedly with near surgical precision. In the distance, he could see a man with long white hair, something frilled fluttering along the sides of his neck, shaking his head in disappointment.

And then everything went dark once more.

Somewhere deep inside, Caller felt himself relax. Not dead, then. Not yet. He knew what this was. This was the memory merger, the moment when the realmheart gifted the descender with fragments of their new body’s memories.

Du Fuyi. A pitiable, cowardly young merperson, who’d sacrificed his own cousin rather than risk a powerful monster coming after him, and been banished from his tribe for his betrayal.

Gradually, the memory of the freezing wind that had appeared moments before his descent flashed back into his mind. Something had gone terribly wrong.

The world he was supposed to descend to was a small flame plane, one that should have an easy task for a first-time descender to use to gain experience. Instead, he’d somehow found himself in a vast, complex realm filled with water and ice. One that was now insisting he deal with a 5,000 year old monster before it would release him.

For a moment, Caller found himself wondering if he should have listened to his master, and followed the methods of other sects. If he had, there was no way he’d be stuck in a situation like this, so woefully underprepared for the task that now confronted him.

A moment later, he calmed his heart. Caller would be lying if he said he’d been prepared for this, but he had been prepared to overcome whatever challenges he might encounter. The Myriad Realms Sect was nothing but a tiny sect in the Great Realm, their methods ridiculed by almost everyone, but to Caller, it was his home. He’d grown up on stories of remarkable descents, and the grand challenges his elders had overcome in their journeys. He’d spent his whole life preparing to join them.

There was no way he’d let one little accident—well, a rather catastrophic accident—thwart him.

Suddenly feeling a trace of warmth flowing through his body, Caller, Du Fuyi, felt his eyes flutter open.
 
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kookyboy9

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It was a fairly calm day at sea today. Tang Qiuyue was returning from a short mission to the Frost Coral Reef, where she had been asked to retrieve a few fragments of the deathly-cold coral, to be used to craft some manner of treasure. Luckily, she hasn't had to go very deep to find coral of the required size and age, so the trip had been fairly uneventful – perhaps boring even. She had decided to make a small detour to one of her favorite cultivation points to continue to build up law energy to attempt to form her law seed, but she had detected a presence nearby the location.

It was quite strange to see someone else so close to the location, considering it wasn't good for much more than cultivating the law she was focusing on. The small cave didn't contain any coral old enough to make use of in a treasure, and the demonic beasts that had been corrupted by the latent cold energy in the water were normally more trouble than they were worth to deal with. The only reason she'd chosen the location was because the cave formed a natural pool of cold water comparable to locations far deeper into the reef, but still offered significant opportunity to escape in the case of a mishap.

Qiuyue focused on the presence a bit more closely, finding to her dismay that it was quickly fading. She had been swimming at a leisurely pace before, but now she put some of her spiritual power to use, accelerating quickly through the water towards whoever was there – the poor fool seemed to have gone somewhere out of their league, and the death that the Frost Coral would bring about was nothing she would wish upon anybody.

As she approached the presence, she quickly noticed that it belonged to a merman. She couldn't tell exactly which subspecies he belonged to, but she could definitely see the gills fluttering on his neck. She couldn't feel much of any spiritual energy on him, and he'd wandered just a little bit too close to one of the growths of coral littering the seafloor. Since she couldn't tell if he had lungs or not, she wouldn't be able to bring him above water. That being the case, she'd have to pull him out of the coral and find someplace warmer for him to come to.

She reached the merman just before he came into contact with one of the growths, grazing it on her way by. It was cold, even through her impressive resistance to the effects of the organism. She took a quick look around, verifying that nothing dangerous was around, then sped off out of the reef. Her cultivation would have to wait for a while.

Upon exiting the reef, she laid the merman down on the sandy seafloor, then began to channel some of her law energy to pull the cold out of him. His presence was still there, so he was still alive – if barely. Almost to make matters worse, she'd been so focused on grabbing him that she'd completely missed the tribal tattoos on his body. Or rather, she'd missed the fact that they'd been gouged out. An exile? This could go poorly, but he didn't seem strong enough to be a danger, so there shouldn't be a problem sticking around to make sure he made it. Worst come to worst, she could always just leave. If he was weak enough to fall that close to the border of the region, he wouldn't be able to follow her far.

However, the merman was beginning to rouse now. After a moment, his eyes fluttered open. At least he seemed to have survived. That was something to be thankful for. "Awake now? What was a mortal doing swimming in the Frost Corral Reef? You should've known that's a death sentence." Damn it! That wasn't how she'd meant to phrase it, but the damage was already done.
 
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Peregrine

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High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
As Du Fuyi awoke, a cold female voice greeted his ears.

If his thoughts had sped up more, overcoming the endless stillness of the freezing cold, Caller undoubtedly would have been grateful for her sentence. It provided a lot of information, despite her rather cold manner. After all, the world had been polite enough to drop him near his target.

Of course, that had also apparently almost killed him after his descent, and certainly would have killed him if he hadn't been rescued. If it wasn't for the fact that Caller had never heard any of his sect seniors describing a realmheart being so generous, he would have almost been grateful. Instead, it seemed that Du Fuyi's corpse had drifted into this dangerous area on the currents by accident, likely after perishing to some danger that no merperson would be able to face without a tribe.

Instead, all his thoughts swimming in a haze, Caller reflexively tried to breathe in.

Perhaps if he'd been more awake, he would have noticed the cold pressure that covered his skin, the faint unfamiliar fluttering of skin at the side of his neck, and the fact that his mouth and throat were already full of water. Instead, sharp, salty water raced down into his lungs, causing pain to flare out in his chest and his whole body to spasm.

Instantly, all fogginess was cleared from his mind in the panic to live, before he rolled on the spot, his hands reaching up towards his mouth. His white hair fanned wildly about him, and then, suddenly, it felt like something unfamiliar in the depths of his throat shifted. He gulped at the water, only to once again feel faint movement around the skin of his neck.

As his chest continued to heave in pain, trying to expel the water from his lungs without any air to cough with, Caller stabilized himself. Right. Underwater. Merperson. There certainly wasn't any air for Du Fuyi to breathe down here. Gradually, as the pain in his chest began to subside and he was able to relax, still gulping reflexively at the water, Du Fuyi looked up to study the person who had rescued him.

A pale skinned woman, hair almost as white as Du Fuyi's own, was staring down at him.

"Th-thank you?" Du Fuyi finally managed to gasp out, if 'gasp' was even the right concept. His throat was still full of water, and it took him a few stutters before Caller was able to repress the instinctual speaking he'd done for the last decades, and allow Du Fuyi's own familiarity to take over. His master had often spoken of how challenging it could be to adjust to a new body, especially when he was unfamiliar with the transition and was having to overwrite years upon years of instinct and habit. The burning in his chest stood testament to exactly how right Caller's master had been.
 

kookyboy9

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Tang Qiuyue jolted as the merman suddenly tried to take a breath of water, then abruptly rolled over. Had he just tried to take a breath of air as though he was above water? It certainly appeared that way from his reaction. At least it answered one of her questions. This was definitely one of the amphibious mermen. What that didn't answer, however, was why his first instinct was to try to gasp for air, rather than water. Maybe he lived most of his life above water? It could be possible if he'd been exiled a long enough time ago, although it'd be odd for the tattoos to be so clear in that case...

Regardless, he seemed to have finally recalled how to use his gills, and now he was making... fish faces? A moment later, he finally remembered how to speak, stuttering out a halting "thank you." That was certainly strange. Definitely looking like he'd lived most of his life above the surface.

Regardless, it seemed that he hadn't heard her first sentence. Maybe she'd gotten lucky? She gave him a light smile. "You're welcome. Are you doing alright? It's normally a death sentence to enter the Frost Coral Reef before you've tempered your body." There. That should be about the right balance. Provided he hadn't heard her the first time. A slight burning was beginning to filter through her lungs, though. Her cultivation let her stay underwater for significant periods of time, but even she had limits without gills. Depending on how long his story lasted, perhaps she should see if he was willing to move to the surface? She should have another few minutes before it'd be more serious than just a passing thought.
 
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Peregrine

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High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Well, if his breathing mishap had accomplished anything other than letting him know he would have to pay even greater attention to his master's warnings in the future, it seemed to have softened his savior's attitude towards him somewhat. Or, at least, that was Caller's guess, as it was the only thing he could think of that would explain her sudden and rather radical shift in tone.

Still breathing—gulping—carefully, Du Fuyi offered a rather strained smile in the woman's direction. Strained, because his body finally seemed to have warmed up just enough that it remembered it was supposed to be cold, and his chin was now starting to tremble. "I-I'm okay."

What was it his master had always said?

First, gain information. Although the realmheart will give you some of your new body's latent memories, the vast majority of it will be reflexive actions. Things like the proper way to breathe, thank goodness for that. Language was also a biggie. One of Caller's senior brothers had once gotten a body that didn't have a memory of the local language, and he'd ended up stuck inside for many months while his worried family tried to figure out what had happened to their son to suddenly damage his mind like that. Fortunately, it seemed like that wasn't a situation Caller would have to deal with right now. Unfortunately, that left practical knowledge in rather short supply. There were far too many things that were considered "common sense" in a world that descenders would often lose. Nothing but careful observation could save them from making those kinds of mishaps.

Second, stabilize your identity. Lots of realms had the concept of possession, or similar body-stealing methods. The last thing a descender wanted was for the people around them to suddenly turn hostile because they speculated you were some sort of terrible outsider. Luckily, this wasn't something Caller was going to have to worry about with Du Fuyi. There were advantages to being an exile, he supposed. Even if he happened to run across a few of the merpeople who knew him, living in exile for a period of time would be a perfectly reasonable explanation for any change in character Caller's arrival might cause.

Third, gain a support system. This was especially necessary for weaker descenders like Caller, who didn't have massive amounts of comprehension on the laws to pull from to help support them in overcoming dangers. If he wanted to complete his mission in a reasonable length of time, he was going to need support. Either direct support in completing his mission, or simply material support in cultivating. It was a slow and arduous process to cultivate without resources, and as far as Caller could tell without closer inspection, Du Fuyi was less than half way through the lowest Houtian realm.

Looking at the woman in front of him, who seemed completely unfamiliar with him, two was unnecessary, and one was likely out of the question right now. There was no reason Caller could expect a complete stranger to answer a bunch of random questions on his behalf. That just left... three.

Rubbing carefully at the hollow of his neck, Du Fuyi glanced at the woman again, before lowering his gaze. "I didn't mean to get close to the Coral." At least his words were coming a lot smoother now, although that was doing nothing to stop the shivers that were spreading throughout his body. How he longed for a flame. "I... was unconscious. I never would have guessed the current would end up carrying me there."

Well, hopefully that would at least warm up her impression of him a bit further. Change him from a reckless idiot into an unfortunate idiot. Of course, it would raise the question of exactly why he was unconscious, but Caller would deal with making up a believable answer to that later. Hopefully.
 
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kookyboy9

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Tang Qiuyue frowned slightly, adopting a pensive look. While not quite the reaction she had been expecting, the merman's actions still spoke far louder than his words. He definitely was not feeling "all right." If his shivering showed anything, it was that. Furthermore, he had paused a few moments before continuing his explanation, and then grabbed his neck and looked away. Taken alone, none of these would be terribly suspicious, but taken together... Either he was lying about not intending to get that close to the coral... or he was just ashamed of having been foolish enough to allow the currents to carry him into the coral. If it was the former, she'd need to keep an eye on him for further signs that he was being untruthful. However, if he was simply ashamed, that was perfectly understandable. So understandable, in fact, that it was likely the second of the two.

Whichever possibility, she'd keep an eye on him. Better safe than sorry, after all. It wouldn't help his case that she had rarely seen a merperson banished for no reason. "Unconscious? Did something happen?"

The reef was fairly close to the surface, so he could have just chosen a bad place to sleep, but she got the feeling there was probably more to the story than that. She didn't quite recognize the tribal markings on the merperson, although that could be explained if they were somewhere on the other side of the reef. Or... it could just be the damage to them. They had been scarred over rather heavily.
 

Peregrine

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High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Well, it seemed that he'd managed to buy himself all of.... fifteen seconds. No wonder all of Caller's senior brothers and sisters were such adroit storytellers, if they routinely had so little time to come up with a believable backstory.

Searching desperately through both his memories and the condition of his body for a believable excuse, Du Fuyi suddenly felt a faint trace of heat rush to his cheeks as a growling noise echoed from his stomach. "I... uhhh... haven't eaten in two weeks."

Of course, he didn't know exactly how long it had been since Du Fuyi last ate, especially if he included the time that the young merperson had been dead. But it had obviously been a while, if his thin arms and abnormally pale complexion were any indication. The realmheart had repaired his body enough that it wouldn't cause Caller any problems, but it would still take a bit of time before Du Fuyi was nurtured back to full health. Even more so since he was barely more than mortal. It would take time before he was able to fully examine the state of his body, but he doubted Du Fuyi had opened more than a couple of his meridians.

The train of thought suddenly sparked a memory from somewhere, of the white haired Du Fuyi chasing a fish, only for a sudden current to sweep him away, sending him crashing headfirst into a sharp rock. "I was chasing a fish and... I..." Appearing too embarrassed to continue, Du Fuyi fell silent.

It was only then that another thought occurred to him. Fuck, I hope a week means what I think it means here. All the realms had time and space, as they were both a part of the basic building blocks of a realm. But if the master cultivator who made this realm had some comprehension of time, it could cause the temporal concepts in the realm to change drastically.

Right then, Caller would swear that this whole descending thing was way more complicated than his master had ever described to him. The fact that he was a novice playing on hard mode right now temporarily escaped his attention.
 

kookyboy9

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If Tang Qiuyue had been expecting anything, it certainly hadn't been that. He hadn't eaten in two weeks? It was all she could do not to let out an astonished giggle escape her. She knew it was rude, but damn if that wasn't the most absurd – and possibly true – reason she'd ever heard to accidentally drift into the Frost Coral Reef. However, if that was all that was going on here, there was surely no reason to be wary. Actually, there never had been one. Why was she being so paranoid all of a sudden? The merman in front of her had shown no signs of aggression, and even if he had, he was nowhere near strong enough to put her at risk. Not unless he had some sort of monumentally powerful treasure on him.

Which... was about as unlikely has her suddenly being beset by another tribulation before her next breakthrough. If he had those types of resources, he wouldn't be letting himself starve. And now that he'd mentioned it, it was quite obvious that he hadn't been eating well. Still, something seemed off. The story rang true, but it didn't sit well with her. Normally, she'd let him go about his business, perhaps with some provisions if she was in a particularly good mood, but that nagging feeling had managed to earn him her interest.

"I-I'm sorry, but that's certainly a new one! Chasing a fish... then you ended up in the Reef?" Much as she tried, she couldn't quite keep the laughter from spilling over to the sentence. She put a rueful smile on her face, quickly covering her mouth, taking a look to see if he looked particularly offended. Regardless of how he looked, she felt somewhat guilty. And embarrassed. Mostly embarrassed. Embarrassed enough that a bit of a blush was starting to spread across her face. "I'm so very sorry! I don't mean to laugh, but it just seems so... absurd. Please don't take offense!"
 

Peregrine

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Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
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High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
The woman's laughter caused the flush on Du Fuyi's face, which had only just begun to fade, to darken once more. Even Caller thought it was a ridiculous story. How pitiable of a thing would that be to have to put on your tombstone; died from getting swept away by the current while chasing a fish? If it wasn't for the fact that it hadn't been him who'd actually done it, Caller would have been absolutely mortified.

Instead, Du Fuyi only squirmed slightly, his hands worrying anxiously against each other. "It's okay," he replied instead. "It is absurd." If it wasn't for the fact that it was his new body that had ended up in such an absurd circumstance, Caller would doubtless have been laughing too.

Instead, Du Fuyi took a deep breath, forcing his slightly trembling limbs into a rough facsimile of a merman's bow, arms crossed over each other and head lowered. "Thank you again for saving my life," he stated, his words finally calm. When it wasn't trembling from cold, nerves, or embarrassment, Du Fuyi had a surprisingly magnetic voice, neutrally deep and sonorous. "My father would say that I need to make sure to repay the great favor you have given me, but... I fear there's little an exile like me could do for you. I can't even manage to take care of myself. I hope you'll forgive my incompetence at being unable to repay this debt."

Caller couldn't get a full sense of how strong the woman in front of him was, Du Fuyi was far too weak and lacking in sensitivity for that, incapable of distinguishing the natural aura this woman had, especially since she was keeping it in check. But simply from the fact that she was able to speak with spiritual essence proved she was at least a full two tiers above Du Fuyi, if not more.
 

kookyboy9

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At least he didn't seem to feel too offended, although he was definitely much more embarrassed than Tang Qiuyue was. He finally seemed to be recovering, as his limbs had stopped shaking as much. Now that his voice wasn't quivering nearly so much, it sounded quite different. He claimed that he needed to repay the "favor", but she really hadn't put that much effort into it. He wasn't quite powerful, either, so it wasn't like he'd be very useful immediately, and he seemed fairly old to have such low cultivation. She couldn't really think of anything she could ask him to do that wouldn't be likely to offend him for its simplicity. Perhaps she could use this to get to the bottom of the strange feeling she'd been having?

"It was no problem! I merely found you on my way back to my sect! Anybody would have done it if they had been there. If you truly feel that you still owe me a favor for it, perhaps you could tell me the rest of the story another time? It certainly seems like a one of a kind story!" The final sentence was said with a ring of finality to it. While she doubted that he would be entirely satisfied with the idea, she quite needed to breathe, and the elder who had asked her to retrieve the coral was waiting.

She'd given the elder a rough estimate of how long she would take to retrieve the organisms, and had been lucky enough to have found the growth more quickly than normal. The opportunity had given her a good portion of time to meditate in the cave, but she'd already burned more than half of it exiting the Reef. On top of that, she had the feeling that if the merman took her up on the offer to tell his story here, she'd be listening for far too long. Best to simply ask him to tell it to her another time. If he felt particularly indebted, perhaps he would be willing to take the trip to the sect to tell it? That'd certainly be ideal for her.
 

Peregrine

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High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Du Fuyi shook his head slightly. "It may have only been a small thing to you, but it was lifesaving grace for me." All members of the Myriad Realms Sect were trained actors, they had to be to move in and out of so many bodies, but in this instance there was no need for Caller to pretend. Who knew what would have happened if this cultivator hadn't happened along and saved him? He'd never heard any of his seniors discuss instances where they were put, unconscious, into life threatening danger the moment they arrived. Maybe those who had were ones who never returned. The last thing Caller wanted was to join their number.

He still wanted to get back and find out how a descent that was supposed to land him in a minor flame realm had instead stuck him here!

Bowing again, Du Fuyi offered the white-haired woman a poor attempt at a winning smile, due in no small part to his continuing to shiver chin. "I'm Du Fuyi," he introduced, trying—and succeeding, as far as he could tell—to sound more confident than he felt. "And, if it is not too much of a burden, could I... accompany you now? I do not have anything I must do first, and, if I'm speaking frankly, am not even entirely sure where I am."

Although he wasn't looking forward to having to come up with a story, there were two simple reasons that motivated him to attempt to follow her now. The first was guideline number three. If he could get some affiliation with the local sect, which was presumably fairly close to the Frost Coral Reef if this lady was crossing it on her way back to her sect, it would be a great benefit to his task. Second, and far more importantly, he was starving! Who knew if he'd be able to get anything in his stomach before Du Fuyi passed out from cold and weakness again if he didn't go?
 

kookyboy9

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Well, Tang Qiuyue had apparently managed to avoid giving offense. That was good. Now she just needed to make her exit from the conversation and take a breath of air. Or... not. The mer- err. Du Fuyi bowed, requesting to accompany her back to the sect. She hadn't offered in the first place because she didn't want to cause him any problems, but if he wanted to come with, she didn't have any real reason to refuse. It'd honestly spare her time and effort in the long run. "That would be perfectly fine. I have a delivery to make before I can listen to your story, but that should hardly take a moment once I return. Please give me just a moment to take a breath of air and we can set out."

She really was at the end of her lung capacity now, her lungs beginning to spasm from lack of air. She kicked up off the ground towards the surface, reaching it quickly, exhaling strongly, then taking a deep breath back in and diving back down. She reached the bottom again quickly, only a few dozen seconds after having kicked off. "Apologies for that. Shall we get going? I need to get back a bit faster than we can probably swim, so do you mind if I use my energy to bring you along?"

Assuming the merman says yes, she reaches out her arm and begins to channel her spiritual energy into the water to surround the merman, gently supporting him and forming a break against the water in front of him, before doing the same for herself and propelling them through the water. The pair speed through the water for nearly half an hour at great speed, before reaching an island. At this point, Tang Qiuyue changes the propulsion of the energy to push them upwards into the air, revealing a large mountain, dotted with caves here and there. A number of pavilions and paths dot the mountain, forming a criss-cross of paths and structures covering much of the lower half of the mountain. An odd-dozen pavilions dotted the upper half of the mountain, which was capped by a resplendent, larger than average pavilion surrounded a forum carved from the peak of the mountain itself. A small town lay to the west of the mountain, and fields spread out to surround the remainder of the mountain.

Tan Qiuyue approached one of the pavilions, landing both herself and Du Fuyi softly on the ground just outside. A number of small animals run through the structure, obviously alarmed by the sudden arrival, but definitely less alarmed than normal. They stop a small distance away, peering curiously at the new arrivals. A cave lies in the cliff face nearby, and a few chairs and a table lie inside the pavilion. A collection of fruits sits on a plate on the table, although smaller pieces are curiously missing. Or perhaps not, considering the abundance of animal life nearby. Tang Qiuyue gestures towards one of the pavilion seats. "Feel free to make yourself at home while I make my delivery. I shouldn't be more than a few minutes. I'm sorry that I can't be a better host, but I promised to have it to its recipient within the near future, and I get the feeling that this story could go on a little long."

She walked over to the cave, whistling at the entrance. A small bird flies out of the opening, and she pulls a jade box out of her pocket, handing it to the bird. She gives it an affectionate stroke on the head, then lifts it up. "Bring that to Elder Qixong, please." She makes a throwing motion, allowing the bird to fly off around the mountain, before returning to Du Fuyi. "Sorry for the delay. Before we get settled down, can I bring you anything?"
 
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Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
"Thank you for your kindness," Du Fuyi said once again, watching as the woman rose to take a quick breath of air. She'd been traveling and speaking so fluidly underwater that it hadn't occurred to him that she couldn't actually survive indefinitely under the waves. As Caller grew more and more adjusted to Du Fuyi's body, breathing underwater was starting to feel incredibly natural to him. So much so that he no longer needed to focus to make sure the water wouldn't end up going down the wrong pipe.

As for her question about carrying him along, Du Fuyi didn't hesitate to agree, relaxing and not resisting as her energy gathered around him. Well, in truth, Du Fuyi couldn't resist even if he wanted to. The young merman had somehow only managed to open two of his meridians thus far, and there was no way he could store even a scrap of spiritual energy, or put it to his own use.

All things considered, he was lucky he'd met such a kind and considerate cultivator. Many people stopped caring about mortals the moment they themselves were no longer one.

Instead, Du Fuyi simply watched the water split in front of them, fascinated by the process, but doing his best to keep it to himself. He didn't want to seem too much like a village bumpkin, although it was hard to deny that he was one. Even the most powerful person in his village had merely been a peak Xiantian cultivator, too old and with too many latent injuries to have any confidence in overcoming the tribulation to reach the World Core realm. The young merman had never moved at such speeds, and even with all his familiarity with the ocean, the sight somehow made everything seem so distant.

That was all the more true when they finally burst out of the water, supported in the air through his benefactor's spiritual power. Although his excitement was tempered somewhat by Caller's disappointment at the rather plain features of the sect, Du Fuyi truly hadn't spent much time above the water. To him, the sight would undoubtedly be awe-inspiring.

Although it was nothing in comparison to the magnificent sects in the Great Realm, a quick but careful purview through what remained of Du Fuyi's memory proved that this sect was considered fairly grand. Of course, Du Fuyi's worldview was highly limited, so it was possible he was simply ignorant to the truth, but it was certainly much larger and more powerful than the merman sect that Du Fuyi's father had taken the young merpeople to get tested at when they were all young.

All things considered, Caller was more than satisfied with this as a base for his future support system.

When they both landed, Du Fuyi felt his legs momentarily give out from under him. He quickly tensed his legs, trying to remember how to stand. This time, it was Caller who took charge. Du Fuyi had almost never walked on solid ground in his life, and certainly wouldn't be comfortable standing. However, Caller had done it all his life, and even with the change in his body it wasn't something he'd forget so easily.

"There's no problem," he quickly replied to his benefactor's apology. "I'm simply glad you brought me along."

Once again feeling grateful for meeting someone so kind, what other cultivator would be willing to genuinely treat a mortal as a guest, Du Fuyi walked his was carefully to the pavilion, taking a seat and surreptitiously rubbing at the side of his leg. It shouldn't come as a surprise that walking took different muscles from swimming, but he truly hadn't expected his legs to start burning after only a few steps.

A second later, and his attention was completely diverted by the rich smell of fruit. Before he even entirely knew what he was doing, Du Fuyi had already grabbed one of them, gratefully sinking his teeth into the soft flesh. It was only after he'd taken a couple of bites that he paused. This... could probably be considered quite rude. But she'd also said to make himself at home. Had she simply been being polite, and hadn't meant it?

Well, too late to worry about it now. Du Fuyi wolfed down the rest of the fruit in quick, greedy bites.

It felt like he'd barely finished it before his benefactor was returning. Surely it would be inappropriate for him to ask for other food? The fruit was sweet and flavorful, and he had no complaints for its taste, but it wasn't very filling.

No, he wouldn't ask. Caller would certainly have slapped this unaware young boy if he did ask, and their situations were reversed. He had no reason to expect her to be any more generous.

"I am fine, thank you." Trying to keep his eyes off the fruit, without also staring at his benefactor like some pervert, Du Fuyi unconsciously licked the fruit juice off his lips. "What would you like to know about... my story?"
 
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kookyboy9

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He had certainly gone right for the fruit. Tang Qiuyue wasn't terribly surprised, though. From what he'd said, he had to be starving. He'd somehow managed to knock himself out chasing his dinner, then nearly died in the reef. She'd have been amazed if he hadn't descended upon the first bit of food he spotted. He seemed to be at least slightly embarrassed by this, though, and claimed he was fine. She gave him a slightly dubious look, but let it slip. "Feel free to take from the plate on the table. The only other ones here who regularly care to eat the fruits are all the little ones around us."

That said... that might've been slightly rude. Hopefully not. She rather liked the animals more than people. People tended to hide their motives. At least with animals, it was fairly obvious what they were thinking most of the time. Regardless, it was time to get to the bottom of that strange feeling she got from the merman. She moved over to one of the seats, gesturing for him to seat himself, then sat down herself, allowing one of the smaller animals around the clearing to run up and jump onto her lap for idle petting as she did so. Now – Where should she ask him to start? She certainly didn't want to make him tell her anything too personal, but she got the feeling she wouldn't get to the bottom of this otherwise.

Probably best to start from the beginning of how he got there, then. "Well, how about we start with the story of how you found your way to the Frost Coral Reef? That seems like an interesting story in and of itself!"
 

Peregrine

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Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
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High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
With his body as weak as it was, both in terms of cultivation and in general well being, there was no way Du Fuyi was capable of controlling the faint noises that came from his stomach as it reacted to the sudden intrusion of something edible. At that moment, he would have sworn his hunger got several times worse, rather than better.

However, for all that, Caller was still someone who had managed to cultivate a law seed through his own efforts and comprehension. He was no stranger to suffering. Even if his body had suddenly returned to mortality, if his willpower couldn't even hold in the face of fruit, how would he ever manage to reach the higher realms of cultivation.

"Thank you," Du Fuyi said again, reaching out to take a dark green fruit with a heavy rind, which had a vaguely citrus-y scent. He began to remove the peel, hoping it would be separated into segments like the oranges he knew. That would at least allow him to eat neater; he certainly wouldn't speak with his mouth full. Otherwise, he would simply have to wait until she was satisfied with his "story" to devote himself to satiating his stomach.

And speaking of that... Caller's thoughts quickly spun as he continued to peel the fruit, trying to spin together something compelling from Du Fuyi's fragmented memory.

"My tribe..." Du Fuyi's fingers suddenly spasmed, almost causing him to drop the citrus. He fumbled it a couple of times before stabilizing his grip, letting out a sigh of relief when it was clear it wasn't going to hit the ground. "My former tribe," he corrected, trying to keep the self-ridicule out of his tone. "Lived and hunted in the area between the Frost Coral Reef and the Thunder-kelp Forest. We had a deal with the nearby Dian Jishi Sect to collect thunder floats from the kelp, so people in the tribe often visit that area. When I... had to leave the area, I couldn't go there, so I went the other way. Better not to run across each other, even by accident.

"But, well, there's that kind of dead zone between the Frost Coral Reef and the rest of the water, where it's too cold for most sea creatures to want to live, but too warm for the frost beasts in the reef. There's lots of empty water there, so I took up residence in one of the caves. It was a relatively safe place for a lone merman, I thought. Didn't realize I'd gotten much closer to the Coral than I'd expected."
 

kookyboy9

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Tang Qiuyue continued to pet the small, furred creature as Du Fuyi told his story. When he fumbled with the citrus, she prepared a bit of her energy to catch it, although such a concern was unneeded, as he was able to catch it himself. She was aware of the dead zone he spoke of, although she didn't think anyone would be willing to live there, even for such a reason. And if he came from the Thunder-kelp Forest, that would explain why he hadn't known so much about the dangers of the reef. Still, something was bugging her. But what – oh. "You said you had been chasing a fish when you got caught in a current? Was that one of the lower level frost beasts living in the reef?"

That was the only explanation she could think of for why a fish might be that close to the reef. The dead zone there was cold enough that most fish would freeze to death long before approaching the reef, although most humans and merpeople could theoretically live in the zone with little more than a bit of constant discomfort. Although, most of those at the houtian stage would find it incredibly difficult to kill such a fish. Perhaps there was more to the merman than met the eye?
 

Peregrine

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High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Du Fuyi's head shook side to side. "No, it wasn't a beast," he explained, finally managing to peel the last of the rind off his citrus. Much to his relief, a glance down revealed that it was divided into sections, which he quickly separated into chunks. "It was a little silver fish, with a long dorsal fin and six other fins running along its body. I'd seen it in the area a few times, and figured it must come around the area occasionally. One day it got close to my cave, and I started chasing it. But every time I got close to grabbing it, it'd just manage to slip from between my fingers."

Shaking his head somewhat pitiably, Du Fuyi quickly peeled off a section of fruit and shoved it in his mouth, chewing and swallowing quickly. It only barely interrupted his story. "Who would have guessed I'd end up swimming into such a dangerous current while I was distracted chasing it?"
 

kookyboy9

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If it wasn't a beast, how had he gotten in such trouble? Wait. Small, silver, six fins and a large dorsal fin. Where had she heard about that before? It wasn't a Silver Flashfin. Those only had four fins, and they were somewhat large. Could it be a Frost Darter? That would certainly make sense. She remembered her parents had always warned her not to chase them when she was little. The fish weren't particularly dangerous unless one was foolish enough to chase them. "Do you mean a Frost Darter? The things love to lure unsuspecting predators to their deaths in the currents surrounding the reef. They're also notoriously difficult to catch for their size."

Something still felt off to her. But what? Wait. She knew what it was now. The merman was awfully relaxed. He had still failed to open all his meridians, but he still seemed to be incredibly relaxed in front of her. It could be that he had simply recognized her and knew she was unlikely to hurt him by reputation, but... she didn't remember having any particular relationship with any of the nearby merman tribes. Especially not any of the ones close to the Thunder-kelp Forest. Perhaps there was more going on here than met the eye? "If the fish was a Frost Darter, that would explain what happened. Although it certainly does make for an amusing story."
 

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
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Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
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High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Listening to his benefactor speaking, Du Fuyi took the opportunity to shove another fruit slice in his mouth, quickly chewing and swallowing. Unfortunately, all he could do in response to her question was shake his head

"I don't know," Du Fuyi replied. "I'm not... familiar with any of the things that live in the Frost Coral." His tribe was active in the Thunder-kelp Forest. All of their knowledge and skill had gone to figuring out how to weaken and survive the attacks of lightning-based beasts, which were always incredibly dangerous under the water. What little time they had left over wouldn't go to learning about beasts in a place they never visited. Du Fuyi's parents had certainly never trained him to recognize frost beasts. Perhaps if they had, and the woman's words were to be believed, he wouldn't have died so tragically.

As for finding it amusing... well, Caller didn't really see it that way. Pitiful was the word he'd undoubtedly use to describe it. Then again, perhaps he would have viewed it differently if his desperate mistake hadn't led to the young man's death. If he'd managed to come out of the situation fine, and had anyone to share the story with, perhaps even Du Fuyi would have been able to laugh at his incompetence. Caller would never be able to know.

Instead, he smiled, doing his best to keep it from being awkward. "I'm glad my story can serve to entertain Immortal," Du Fuyi replied, his head bowing slightly. "I suppose I should consider myself quite fortunate. If I hadn't gone chasing it, I'd still be starving in the Dead Zone, and wouldn't have gotten the chance to meet such a kind person."
 

kookyboy9

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Tang Qiuyue grimaced internally. Once she had said that, she realized how offensive it could be, but it was too late to take back the words once they'd left her mouth. She'd most likely managed to solve the puzzle of why the merman had found himself near death in the reef, but she still wasn't sure why she'd felt that there was more to the story. There hadn't been any real holes to be filled, and he didn't seem to be lying about not knowing what the Frost Darter was. Not that there was much doubt if he'd described the beast correctly.

Regardless, she had clearly offended him, although he was trying to be polite. She allowed her face to fall to an apologetic expression. "I'm sorry! That was rather rude. As an apology, is there anything you'd like to ask about while you have the chance?" Hopefully that'd help to clear it up. She didn't mind answering a few questions, especially considering how many times she'd managed to give offense in such a short time. It was probably her fault for avoiding conversation all the time, but she just couldn't help it. Most people wanted to sit around and talk for forever!