When Di’s magic lessons were finally over, he fucked off somewhere and left me to my own devices. I mainly just did a bunch of exercises for a few hours. In order to break through to Adept, I needed to have about twice the strength of the ‘average’ Human.
Now, I think that back on my original world, most people were weak as shit. On Genesis, it didn’t matter what body type you have, your gender or even your age… The majority of adult Humans could bench two-hundred pounds, curl forty with one arm and deadlift three-hundred.
Of course, those were only the three easiest ones to keep track of. I needed to improve all the main muscle groups and get as physically powerful as possible. Apprentice was a lot more dangerous than Novice. It was very easy to die if a person tried to force themselves too hard.
Cultivation Methods were what Humans needed to overcome their inherent weaknesses. The first thing that they needed to focus on was the skin. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any fancy bloodlines, so I couldn’t use the ‘Ironbark Sutra’ or other similar techniques.
When I was too hungry to work out anymore, I walked over to that three-meter tall giantess and asked “Um, hi, do you happen to know where the cafeteria is at? I’m kinda new here…” She had a very masculine face, so I wouldn’t consider her ‘beautiful’ by my standards, though her body was really impressive.
Instead of being arrogant or snobby, she smiled at me and said “Make a left when you leave the gym and it’s a few doors down, on the opposite side of the hallway. You’ll know it when you see it though. The simple meals are free, but the good stuff is going to cost you a bit. Do you have any contribution tokens? You should get some from your master if you don’t have any of your own…”
“Thanks, I’ll make sure to bring it up the next time I see him.” I followed her directions and surprisingly, no one tried to stop me. Well, it’s not like I had a way to escape even if I wanted to, so Queen HJ probably didn’t worry too much about it.
As I reached the end of the hallway, I saw a huge golden tentacle-arch, which lead me into an enormous mall. It wasn’t just a simple food court, there were all sorts of stores and shops. They sold everything from the basic necessities to weapons, armor and musical instruments. In fact, there was an orchestra performing on an elevated stage. Altogether, there were three floors and the entire place was circular, as if it was a much larger version of the throne room.
“Holy shitballs, this place is amazing…” There was a glass ceiling, where sunlight was able to shine through. I was obviously much closer to the surface than when I first entered that palace. Actually, it was more like an entire underwater city. Those hallways were tunnels that connected hundreds of buildings together.
There were only about a thousand people spread throughout the mall, so it wasn’t that crowded. Most of them seemed to be Novices and Apprentices. It was actually pretty easy to tell, simply based on the ‘feeling’ I got from them. There were other indicators besides my intuition. Novices had no aura at all, Apprentices were surrounded by a thin layer of Qi and Adepts were covered in a thick mist. There weren’t any Experts of Masters, at least not that I could see. I mean, Di, Jiang and probably that Bo dude were the only ones in the whole ‘palace’. They were socially awkward and would definitely avoid Human interaction as much as physically possible. Hell, I used to be a shut-in to a certain extent.
As I wandered around, my first stop was at the food court. My silk robe probably made me look like a little girl, but no one really payed attention to me either way. Every single person was part of the Hua Family, so they were all rather haughty. They each had their own jobs down there, most of which, weren’t nearly as lackadaisical as their former lives as royalty.
When I saw the ‘normal’ food that was being given away for free, it felt like my brainbox had been broken. Caviar, sushi, sashimi, steamed lobster, crab cakes, seaweed salad, calamari… Basically any type of Unranked Beast was totally worthless to those people! The stuff they were actually selling was from Ranked Beasts and Herbs, or made out of rare ingredients that was difficult to come by in the Southern Islands.
Without hesitation, I ran over to one of the dozens of sushi bars and ordered three spicy tuna rolls. It came with chopsticks and everything, though they didn’t have plastic containers. Seriously, they just gave out ceramic plates to people who didn’t even pay any money. My glass of sweet iced tea was also free.
Of course, what I didn’t realize was that the people were working for practically nothing as well. They didn’t need to pay for simple stuff, but they almost didn’t get paid for their jobs. It was hard to say that they were slaves, because they chose to live there and they even picked their ‘chores’. A lot of the basic amenities in that underwater city were far greater than anything they could have in their own palaces throughout the Southern Islands.
There was a major difference in technology and overall safety. On the surface, there were tsunamis, hurricanes, pirates, civil wars, invasions, volcanoes and all sorts of chaos. They were allowed to leave if they wanted to, but very few people ever did.
As I was sitting down alone at one of the many small tables in the food court, I heard a loud and obnoxious, raspy voice yelling “Corn on the cob~, get yer corn on the cob here~! Only one contribution point an ear~!”
It had been over a year since the last time I ate sushi, so I was totally engrossed in my meal. I closed my eyes and savored every bite. Rice, avocado, cucumber, raw tuna, some type of really spicy-hot chili sauce and there was even a blob of light-green wasabi. It didn’t burn my nose like horseradish used to, so I could tell that it was either the ‘real’ wasabi or some plant on Genesis that was relatively similar.
“Corn on the cob~, get yer corn on the cob here~! Only one contribution point an ear~!” I heard that annoying voice again a few times, but it wasn’t until I finished my sushi that I glanced over at the source. A beefy old man was wearing a fancy golden robe and he was standing next to a flashy yellow food cart.
There was a sign that read “Gentle Di’s Corncobs! One contribution point per ear! A dozen for six points!” He also had cornbread, hard boiled or pickled eggs, motherfucking french fries and potato chips… Everything was really goddamn expensive too! I mean, don’t get me wrong, the crazy old bastard was a great chef, but none of those things even required any skill to cook! The worst part was that there was nearly a hundred people in line for his shitty fast food. Then I overhead a few people talking and felt a little annoyed.
“It’s been a few months since the last time Expert Di came to Hua Jiang Palace… I hear he brought his new disciple here for training.” Some random short and fat bald guy was talking to a ‘middle-aged’ and overweight woman.
She cackled, then shouted “I heard that little slutty bitch Mei got assigned as his personal whore! I bet she isn’t even getting any contribution points for it!”
The thing that pissed me off wasn’t what the fat cunt said, but the thing about Di coming to Hua Jiang Palace. While I was training my ass off, he left to sell his overpriced corn, potatoes and eggs out of a food cart!
A contribution token was a special jade coin with a number on it. I still kind of sucked at reading Chinese numerals, but I could at least memorize one, ten, a hundred and a thousand. Those were the only values that the coins had anyway.
To put it into perspective, a janitor or a weak palace guard might make a single point per day. They were menial tasks, but they were relatively simple and safe. On the other hand, there were jobs that required special skills and it was possible for them to make much more ‘money’. However, the richest people were the ones who risked their lives to go hunting dangerous sea monsters, killing pirates or bandits, and even protecting trading ships that delivered supplies to and from the underwater city.
None of that really mattered to me at the time though, because I was totally content to head back over and order a fuckton of crayfish, lobster and weird giant rainbow-colored crabs. It was practically a seafood buffet and I had zero shame when it came to taking free stuff from strangers.