Chapter 19: Breathe in life and Breathe out
As a low-grade detoxifier with a long duration, the Blue Angel costs 5 TP. Farther down the list I find a high-grade detoxifier at a cost of 10 TP, but that one only works only for a medium duration. I feel like that might mean it actually detoxifies a similar amount in a shorter timeframe, so my choice is simple.
“One Blue Angel please!”
[You are about to purchase a ‘Blue Angel,’ for five Trial Points. Would you like to confirm the purchase?]
I hear a rumble in the alcove and expectantly look over. Something small and blue tumbles down the chute.
That was fast! Is there like an entire vending machine type of system up there? I’d love to go find out, but with the toughness of these walls being 63, I can only dream.
I collect my prize. It’s smaller than I had expected. The white ring over the cap reminds me of a halo, so I can see where it gets its name.
“So, do I just eat it?”
I sit back down on the bed, hesitantly bring it to my mouth, and take a bite.
Yuck. My mouth scrunches up involuntarily. “Man, that is bitter... can’t wait till I learn meditation level three.”
[Don’t talk with your mouth full,] Suri admonishes.
I snort, keeping my mouth respectfully shut. An artificial intelligence that cares about table manners? Never change, Suri.
I manage to finish my disgusting treat and flush away the taste with some water.
Let’s check where my toxic energy is at right now. “Open status window.”
Only 1.6 Onkh over the limit by now. If this gradual detoxifying effect can help me get rid of the status effect entirely, that would be perfect! Since I’m about to head into low atmospheric Lavi conditions, nothing could be better than that. I hope one will be enough...
From my experiences with the jicca nuts, I have surmised that a ‘long duration’ should be about eight hours. Guess I’ll check again in eight hours and see if I need another.
If I don’t need another, I can purchase three of these 5 TP yams that I found in the foods section.
That should sustain me for 24 hours. If I require another Blue Angel however, I’m giving that priority, and only buying two yams. Sixteen hours should be plenty of time to clear the next trial... I hope.
I may not even need the yams if I can cure my little toxic energy issue.
“Suri, can you wake me in eight hours?”
Feeling more hope than I have in the past 72 hours, I move into a lotus position on the bed and sink into a lucid trance to practice my breathing skill.
“Open status window.”
One Onkh in 8 hours, not a lot compared to the effect of the oasis, but still much better than the normal rate.
I hesitate a little, but still decide to buy another Blue Angel. If I can’t use my lucid trance while navigating, that one Onkh per minute could make all the difference.
I eat it with a healthy dose of reticence and promptly buy two yams. I spend my final two points on a waterskin and a small sack of jicca nuts.
With this, all that remains is training and sleep. My sleeping rhythm is completely messed up right now, thanks to the meditation skill. A full trance is practically the equivalent of sleep, while a lucid trance is like being half-awake, meaning I could trance for twice as long I would normally be awake.
I still prefer actual sleep over meditating, but as sleeping doesn’t raise my max Lavi, I can’t afford to do it too often.
I decide to train for another 8 hours, this time fully awake, so I can really focus on the breathing skill. Training in a lucid trance has its uses, but I’m not progressing as quickly as I thought I might.
I’ll finish up with another eight hours of deep trance, so I can start the next trial fully focused.
As I sit down to continue my training, I feel a little sorry for whoever’s running the trials behind me, but I need to make the most of my time. Who knows, maybe I’ve helped them somehow, by forcing them to spend more time preparing?
It takes me some time to figure out what the problem is. Because Suri told me to focus on directing my exhales, I’ve been trying to exhale through the mouth, directing the air-flow away from me physically.
It kind of works, but I can never get into a proper rhythm. My Lavi intake is also hindered because the lack of resistance from the nasal passage causes my breathing to speed up.
As my training progresses, I noticed I can actually direct the airflows somewhat without using any muscles. Then it hits me. All of the skills in the system rely on energy manipulation! I’m doing it all wrong...
I soon figure out how to properly control the air: by manipulating the energies it carries.
Unlike when I trained in the lucid meditation state, I’m taking frequent breaks to eat and... such things. It’s more or less by accident that I, upon returning from such a break, start my training with an exhale through the nose.
I don’t notice it at first, because it feels so natural! And since I’ve switched to directing the air without relying on any muscle-action, I no longer need to exhale through my mouth. After a little more experimenting and checking my Lavi flows, I’m more than convinced: exhaling through the nose is much better.
Turns out my P.E. teacher was right all along.
A while later, close to the end of my allotted training time, I am once again seated on the bed in the lotus position. I take in what feels like enough air to fill a small bathtub, hold it for an average of 10 seconds, and exhale with the force of a leaf-blower.
Except the air jetting from my nostrils doesn’t simply blow the floor clean, no... the two streams of air I create curl away from each other, forming swirls not unlike the ones left behind by the proper stroke of a paddle in the water, that spin away from me to the left and right.
Another thing I discovered is that trying to manipulate the flows of the air too much tires me out mentally, making it impossible to automate the process. So, I came up with this solution; I don’t force the air, but guide it, into a motion very close to what it naturally wants to take.
With this method I managed to achieve an intake of 11 Onkh per minute for the first time, and when I finally got into a stable rhythm of doing this, the following notification pops up:
“Yes yes yes!” I shout, jumping up and down on the bed. Unfortunately, it still bounces about as well as the front of a train.
This is what I’m living for now... this feeling of progress, of growth, is what’s keeping me sane. For now. I really need to see some other people soon...
Still high on success, I feel like storming into the next trial and just getting it over with as quickly as possible so I can get one step closer to human contact.
But my fatigue soon catches up with me, and I decide to spend the remaining time in a deep trance.
Author's note: For the ones who read chapter 18 before this chapter came out; I made some changes. So if you're interested in Emma's thoughts about the situation she's in, you might want to double back and reread it.