Ma Sa had an enjoyable catch up with the energetic uncle Ye Zhu. As if following some unwritten rule of lively middle-aged man-bears, Ye Zhu drank potent rice wine as if it were water. The smell was extremely unappealing to Ma Sa but a sour reminiscence welled up within him as he watched the old guy drink in such a carefree manner. Wait... What sort of adult gets trashed by himself while chatting to a kid??
Putting Ye Zhu's questionable example aside. Ma Sa, or rather, Dave realized that he truly missed having drinks with Pete. He had originally aimed for total immersion in this world but one of the many joys that the console gifted him with, other than the cheats, was that it gave him utter freedom. What was the point of freedom if he simply exchanged his old cage for a new one of his own design? Sure, the rules he thought up were to help him keep life exciting without letting power get to his head but total immersion was completely unnecessary for that purpose. Basically, Dave was trying to find himself an excuse and, since this one seemed reasonable enough to him, he grasped it with both hands and decided he would take a vacation back to Earth.
He would create a save once he had been shown to his room and then load back in to his save from the day he left. After bantering back and forth with Ye Zhu for a few hours before finally discussing his upcoming plans of heading to Mt.Ginyan to train, Ma Sa was led to a small guest room in the Ye encampment. He settled himself then lay down on his futon before entering the console space.
*~* [save "QianYeEncampment"] *return*
[load "362019"] *return* *~*
Well, that was disorienting... Dave found himself staring at the ceiling of his room on Mavety Avenue. It was morning. He struggled to recall what he was doing before he had left last time. It had been a very long time after all. Apart from the physical time that he had spent on the Qian continent there was also the 'time' his consciousness had experienced inside the timeless console space and menus. The memories were there but they were extremely hazy... Dave decided he would get up, have a long overdue hot shower, brush his teeth, and then cultivate for an hour before going out for eggs Beni. He was drooling at the thought of it after such a long time!
What was this?! Dave found it extremely hard to raise himself out of bed and only managed to barely succeed in rolling himself onto the floor. What the fuck? He wasn't a cripple before he left! He at least remembered that much! He felt like he had to use an inordinately large amount of effort to actually raise himself to his feet. He tried to make a fist but his fingers barely moved when he tried. If he used this much effort back on the Qian continent he would superheat the air between his fingers and palm and make it explode... Well, maybe that was the problem here? 'Ma Sa' was exponentially stronger than the current Dave and he had gotten used to holding back his strength in day to day life so as not to break things. Suddenly it seemed that switching saves wasn't that convenient after all...
It took Dave the guts of an hour to readjust to his cumbersome and unfit body. For the first time in what seemed like forever Dave cursed the silent pilot for leaving his earthly body with this legacy... Shortly after his renewed anger at the silent pilot had dissipated, Dave's anger turned to himself. He was mad. Why had he ever talked himself into coming back here? He promised himself that he would live out his life on Qian continent until 'death' and now, here he was, back in Toronto after feeling a little homesick?? Ugh, he felt like he had betrayed good intentions of his past self and it felt disgusting.
Hell, it wasn't even hard for him to come up with an excuse... It felt bad to be lied to by a stranger, worse to be lied to by an acquaintance, worse still to be lied to by a friend, and the worst to be lied to by oneself. If Dave can't even trust himself then what solace can he find within?? He was tempted to immediately head back to the Qian continent but then what does one learn from a mistake if it can be immediately undone? No, he needed to stick this out for a while and come to grips with his lack of resolve. Besides, if every cloud has a silver lining then maybe he can learn a lesson or two from this mistake. He already had to an extent. The longer he would be away from this 'playthrough' in the future, the harder it would be to remember his situation. It would greatly benefit him to make a note for each individual save and store it in his inventory.
He spawned a book which he labelled "Original Earth Save (362019)" in which he detailed all of the recent events that he could remember, the Key figures in his life and their relationship to him, and the reason why he made the notebook in the first place. Once he had finished he then moved on to doing the same for "Ma Sa playthrough (QianYeEncampment)". In this book, his bullet points were more in-depth and he had to spend quite a bit of time writing everything. He also included a list of his other saves on the Qian continent for good measure. By the time he was finished, eggs Benedict was not really an option...
Dave's current body really sucked. He had had a light meal and was still hungry. He knew that it was only the body's resistance to Leptin that made him feel that way as he had eaten enough to fulfill his energy needs. In fact, once he thought about it clearly, he wouldn't really have needed to eat anything considering the liberal amount of adipose tissue he was currently sporting. The current Dave could probably survive without a single calorie of food intake for about four months. Well, maybe this would be a good time to experiment with cultivation? He could directly burn his fat reserves with Nine Dragon Void Siphon if it did. Although, that probably is not a great way to go about it... Dave shuddered as he thought of the loose skin...
He settled into his now habitual cultivation position with a lot more difficulty than he had thought possible. The lotus position wasn't something he considered as physically taxing but in this case he was fairly sure he ruptured something. Not a great start... Anyway, now that he had gotten into position he would have to try and sense the Heaven and Earth Qi. Normally this would be as simple as breathing for him but his cultivation had been reset to zero in this body. Thankfully he remembered the sensation so clearly that he didn't think he would miss it if it existed. If meditation didn't succeed he would try 'Plan B' and go running until he exhausted himself like he had done with Ye Zhen back then. Rather disconcertingly he was losing about one HP every few minutes he stayed in his cultivation position. It was a little distracting... It was nothing a potion wouldn't fix though so he pressed on and slipped into the familiar embrace of the meditative state.
It was faint but there was a faint breath of Qi in the air. Dave was fairly certain that there would be little to no progress with cultivation in this world with the current density of Qi. Thankfully, that only applied to normal cultivation methods. He only needed the thinnest of strands of Qi to be able to outline the construct for Nine Dragon Void Siphon since he was so accustomed to it. Even still, it would take a while to gather enough.
It was well past dark before Dave experienced the nostalgic notification.
[Magicka Increased to 1]
[Level Progress ||-----------------1]
Once again it had changed to 'Cultivation' when he checked it in his perk tree. He currently wasn't even level 1 so he couldn't grab the first level of --Energy Streams(0/9)-- just yet. The thought of having to do this every time he reloaded this save was rather daunting so he weighed up the pros and cons of overwriting his save. It was still March 6th after all so it wouldn't mess up his naming structure... He could just amend his notebook to update it with the new situation. Thinking so, Dave decided to update his save in the console. There was no benefit to having to re-cultivate from scratch every time he came back.
Before doing that he decided to press on and lay down the construct for Nine Dragon Void Siphon. It only took him around an hour to finalize it and once it was done he would able to cultivate at a vastly enhanced speed. The cultivation high was intense, especially since he was making huge progress due to his low level and high competency with his technique. Caught up in the euphoria of leveling up, Dave found himself cultivating in the middle of the Australian outback. He had used CoC to move there so that he could absorb the sunlight to further boost his speed. By the time his phone's alarm shook him out of his cultivation frenzy he was Level 5 and his Cultivation proficiency had increased to level 12. With all of his perk points applied he once again felt the familiar feeling of dense Qi flowing through his energy channels. Even the mere passive overflow into his body tissues was strengthening him by the moment. The newfound strength made Dave feel so much more comfortable. He would build the construct for his body art before heading to work, that way he could cultivate it throughout the day as he went about his business.
After he got back to his place in Toronto, Dave decided to save. Well, his original plan to simply overwrite his existing save had been laid to waste. Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.
*~* [save "342019"] *return* *~*
He quickly cleaned up, equipped some fresh clothes, and scribbled out a new notebook to document his new save - "Base Earth Save + Cultivation (342019)". Once he was done it was time to CoC to work. He was looking forward to seeing his buddy Pete again!
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"@&##@%& Valerie! @%$&*&^%$#$%^$ Pete ##$^^&&%$@#?"
"Ummm... What?? I don't speak- ... whatever that was."
"Ah!? I meant: 'Good Morning Valerie! Is Pete in the office yet?' Sorry, I've been, er... trying to get in touch with my Chinese heritage... I got a little too immersed in it is all."
"Hahaha! That's alright then, I thought I was having a stroke or something - I am getting to that age after all..."
"Oh please, Val! As if something like a stroke could take you out? Your cause of death is more likely to be taking a fall off those sexy six-inch heels of yours."
It felt good to play flirt with Val again. Dave remarked to himself that it was funny how some people just have that amazing quality that draws you into their pace in seconds. For a moment he felt like he had never been away.
"You know me so well darling! Ha! As for Dr McGeown, he's not in until the afternoon today."
"Aww. I was hoping to catch him before work but I guess I'll see him at lunch time. So... What have I got today?"
"Hmmm you've got a delightful day ahead of you! Here's your list..."
Valerie briefed Dave on his upcoming patients before he went to prepare his room. It was one hell of an adjustment to go from weeks in the wilderness of another world with a nine-tailed fox to rubbing old people for money. Strangely, Valerie eased the transition better than any other remedy Dave could think of. Well then, to work!