One moment they were in the middle of the forest, the next they arrived on an island. It is a tropical paradise, filled with lush greenery and soft grass. The air was amazing as the sea breeze gently caressed their skin.
“This is the Archipelago Nation of Pairidaeza, the most highly regarded tourist destination in the world,” Gu Di informed them.
Jay and Xiaoxia have never been to this place, and they could only stare in disbelief as they moved towards the population center. It is filled with the buzz of activities all around, and people everywhere were barely clothed. Many of them seemed to be involved in a myriad of sea activities.
What made their jaws dropped, were the women who are dressed in skimpy outfits that paraded their skin for the world to see. Some were daring enough to wear what seemed like thin lines of fabric, that barely to covered their womanly parts.
The men were more clothed, but most if not all left their torsos exposed. Some of the men looked like they were wearing loincloths and nothing else, exposing the bulge of their family jewels without any care in the world.
There were also a number of humanoid beings in the mix, who looked rather comical dressed in similar fashion.
“Welcome to Paiza! Join our undersea exploration team!”
“The freshest seafood in the world!”
“Enjoy our special discount rates for rooms!”
“The latest in fashion, check us out! One for One offer!”
There was a loud cacophony of voices, that fought for customers in the strip mall. It is where the trio of Gu Di, Jay and Xiaoxia were going through, and stretched as far as the eyes can see. Conveniently located just three hundred feet from the beach, it is filled with tourists.
Picking up several tourist brochures along the way, Xiaoxia read many interesting facts on the Archipelago Nation of Pairidaeza. It consisted of over a hundred thousand islands, over 95% of them were just small plots of land a few hundred thousand square feet in size, while the remaining ones all had volcanoes and were substantial enough to establish communities that ranged from small villages to huge cities.
The trio were currently on the biggest island, which is commonly referred to as the Main Island of Paiza. It is almost circular in shape and had a diameter of about a thousand leagues, and right in its middle was a mega volcano.
(AN: 1 league = 5.556Km, or 3.45 miles. For future reference please refer to the compendium on the website)
The mega volcano is called Olympus. It is a stratovolcano, which rose over seventy thousand feet, and its caldera is about a hundred leagues wide. It now lay dormant, and the brochures stated many places of interest on it, which Gu Di insisted they must go.
Spotted along the entire foothills of the mega volcano, the local populace operated resort establishments called Onsen. The Onsens contained natural hot springs, which consisted of various minerals dissolved in them. These minerals contained many types of Ki, which are therapeutic and good for the health.
Higher above sea level, nearly fifteen thousand feet and up, there were also plenty of snow resorts along the slopes of the volcano. The air there was much richer, and it contained a much higher density of Ki than elsewhere. This was unique, as usually at higher elevations, air become much thinner and harder to breath.
It came to being, when lava and magma formed the volcano, they brought extremely dense Ki from the deep under the crust up onto the surface. When it cooled, it formed a rocky basaltic surface, which did not promote plant life, hence the Ki was left to gradually diffuse into the surroundings. This Ki created a phenomenon, that made the air rich in elements like oxygen and nitrogen.
But the jewel of it all, is the lake right in the middle of the crater. Natural veins of underground hot springs fed into the caldera and formed the lake, and to capitalize on this, the nation started a tremendous effort that went into the construction of the only resort there.
It was started and completed in the 30th Era, while being constantly upgraded over the millenniums. Currently it could serve up to a million guests in all its massive structures, as well as cater to over a hundred million day tourists on its ground.
The lake and the resort were in a depression twenty thousand feet below edges of the crater and its climate is unique. Even at this elevation it is not constantly cold, and even have four seasons.
Spring came when the underground thermal system heated the lake for sufficient steam and humidity to form clouds overhead. The edges of the crater were twenty thousand feet above the lake, however the were the tip of the volcano that is seventy thousand feet above sea level. Therefore the clouds were trapped at that altitude within the crater, and they brought snow and ice that melted into rain before it reached the surface of the lake.
As the heat gradually built up from the lake, Summer arrived. It is the wettest season, as steam and humidity constantly rose into the sky, creating more clouds that caused it to rain almost constantly. It is also the lull season for tourists.
During the summer months, humidity overflowed over the edges of the crater, and rain constantly cooled the surface of the lake. When it became cooler, Autumn came, and it heralded the start of the peak tourist season. It still rained, but not as much, and tourist arrived in flocks during this time.
Another few more months passed before what little rain turned to snow. The heat that constantly overflowed over the edges of the crater, lost its battle against the frigid cold of the high altitude. Winter arrived without hesitation, and a snowy wonderland came to live at the lake.
Then the whole cycle repeated itself, as the heat gradually built up in the lake and brought about Spring.
While the underground thermal system, altitude, lake and depth of the crater caused the special weather phenomenon, various forms of toxic gasses were trapped by it. Many new technologies were invented just to filter and pump out the gases.
Massive underground tunnels were also built into the side of the volcano during its early construction, to feed power lines and maintain a waste disposal system. Potable water was obtained from the lake itself via a special filtration system. Another system recycled sewage water, before reintroducing it to the lake.
The biggest attraction of it all, was it aquatic plants and life forms. These grew at such a rapid rate, that the lake was almost choked to death and its ecosystem destroyed. It was only by the fortunate arrival of people to the lake during the 30th Era, that managed to bring save it from the brink of extinction.
Succulent and nutritious dishes were made from the thousands of species that lived in the lake. Every ingredient here was harvested from it, which included the condiments unique only to this place.
Due to this, it was marked as one of the ‘must go even if we die’ places by Gu Di. Upon arriving, he passed both Jay and Xiaoxia a detailed itinerary of their proposed three months stay there, and this was one of the highlights.
While they start with a week of total rest and relaxation, the remaining period will be used train and take advantage of the density of Ki there.
“Jay, you should remove your cloak and blend in. Wearing it will just bring more suspicion, and no one is foolish enough to do anything rash here,” Gu Di advised Jay.
(AN: refer to Vol 1 Chapter 19 why he needed the cloak, and what it does)
While walking, Gu Di filled in the gaps of information on the Archipelago Nation of Pairidaeza. It is a nation built from its vast wealth of natural resources, as a result of the lava and magma that formed it. The lava and magma brought up precious metals, gems and Ki crystals from deep beneath the bowels of the world and deposited them at the surface, creating the archipelago.
As a result of this abundance, Pairidaeza controlled over half the world’s economy. They also had the world’s biggest Ki crystal production. It powered all sorts of technology, and without Ki crystals, nothing could work.
The world will be held at ransom, if conflict or war were to happen to the Archipelago Nation of Pairidaeza.
Hence all the top Empires protected them, with treaties as well as memorandum of agreements dating as far back as the 35th Era. On top of this, Pairidaeza had its own formidable forces equipped with the best money can buy.
Due to that no one dared to do anything foolish here, even if they were enemies of the Earth Faeries, who Jay is part of*, or people who have ill intent towards Xiaoxia.
(*AN: reference to Vol 1 Chapter 19)
“Little monster, you should go and enjoy yourself with people your age, while we adults go do what adults do. You can join us later in the evening,” Jay grinned happily at him, while in the process of removing his cloak as Gu Di advised.
“Just do not go secretly train somewhere, and that is an order,” Gu Di who was already walking off, shouted over his shoulders as he waved.
“Here,” Jay passed a card like device to Xiaoxia, and added, “This is where Gu Di have arranged for us to stay, if you can’t find it, just ask around. According to what he said, it is a rather famous hotel.”
“Thank you Jay!” Xiaoxia smiled from ear to ear, and waved as Jay took off in the opposite direction of Gu Di.
Xiaoxia was actually happy to be left alone, and instinctively wanted to run off somewhere and started training secretly. It was in direct disregard for Gu Di’s order, but Xiaoxia felt that as long as he didn’t get caught it wouldn’t matter.
Once Jay had disappeared out of sight, Xiaoxia immediately turned and looked for a place to secretly train. Then it hit him.
It took him only a second to realize it.
“Where the heck am I going to train in all these?!” he grumbled to himself.
All around him was filled with the hustle and bustle of life. He couldn’t even see beyond the structures that sprouted everywhere, and the only thing visible was the commanding presence of the mega volcano in a distance.
He continued looking for a while, before being resigned to the fate, that perhaps this was why Gu Di brought them here. There isn’t any place he could see that would allow enough privacy to train.
Sighing with some regret, he started to mill around the various strip malls. He avoided looking at girls who were dressed in those scandalous outfits, as it kindled a weird reaction in him. But no matter where he looked, all strip malls were filled with them.
Thinking perhaps if he moved further inland, people will be attired more conservatively, so he took out his sole plate and flew inland. It surprised many of those who saw it, but a group of girls were staring after him.
Then they hurriedly took out their own sole plates and followed.
He flew for almost an hour inland, however it was crowded everywhere with people that were dressed exactly the same as those near the beach. He even witness things that he simply could not understand.
In some areas, women were standing in front of some shops and dressed in even more scandalous outfits, ones that Xiaoxia could see right through. Men would walked pass and looked at them appreciatively, and on occasions, entered the shops with these women.
However Xiaoxia was not curious enough to find out and left for another area nearby. This time it were men who were clothed scandalously, some were even in their baby suit, and women were doing the smiling and looking. Some women entered the shops with these men, it was similar to what happened at the previous area.
Xiaoxia who floated above the buildings while staying out of sight, was too distracted to notice a group of girls approaching. One of them was complaining vociferously to another.
“Come on, we do not need ask someone like him. He is even into men, how disgusting!” she said.
“We have no other choice, its either this or something worse,” another replied.
There were four of them that followed Xiaoxia on their sole plates, all of them looked slightly older than Xiaoxia.
“Sir!” the girl in the lead suddenly spoke up, trying to gain Xiaoxia’s attention. She had to called him a few times before he responded.
“Huh?” Xiaoxia mumbled finally, distracted from his reverie.
“Yes we are calling you, have you no shame to let a girl call you more than once?” a redhead girl was telling him off, she was from a race Xiaoxia is not familiar with.
“I am sorry!” he immediately apologized by bowing from the waist.
Seeing his awkward reaction, two of the girls started to giggle, .
“I am Meiling, these are my friends Cailing, Carol and Jane,” the lead girl who was platinum blonde introduced them.
She was the one who had been calling out to him earlier.
“Uh, ah, nice to meet you,” Xiaoxia greeted them while, not looking directly at them.
The girls were dressed rather scandalously as well, it was something called a ‘Two Piece Bikini‘, which Jay had told him earlier with a cheeky grin.
All of them were well endowed and when they moved or giggled their girlish giggles, their womanly parts jiggled and left Xiaoxia with a flaming red face.
He did not know why he felt like this, and to make matters more complicated, there was a fiery sensation erupting from his groin.
“EEEEEEeeeewww! Gross he is becoming aroused just by looking at us!” it was the same redhead who told him off, she was introduced by the platinum blonde as Carol. She was actually seizing him up, when she noticed something particular happening near his groin region.
“Shush! Anyway nice to meet you, you have not told us your name,” Meiling dismissed Carol’s words as she reminded Xiaoxia.
“I am sorry! My name is Chen Zhen Xia!” Xiaoxia apologized loudly and bowed from the waist again. This action, caused the other two, Cailing and Jane to giggle even more.
While Xiaoxia did not feel anything about mingling with girls when he was at the Academy of the Six Elements, now it is a totally different thing. He have grown into a teenager and his hormones were raging.
He did not know how to react to it, and when he saw scantily clad girls so close to him, his mind was only filled with ‘do not look’. It distracted him enough not only to make him look like an idiot, but it actually made him one.
“Aw this is so sad, he is actually quite cute,” Jane was whispering to Cailing, who just giggled again. It seemed like she only knew how to giggle.
Xiaoxia’s hearing is actually very good and he could clearly hear them, it did not help, as it made him even more nervous.
“Let us go somewhere, this is not an area for us,” Meiling spoke again, indicating for Xiaoxia to follow them. They were after all in a red light district.
The girls turned and flew off somewhere, with Xiaoxia following them.
This time it is much more worse, as the posteriors of all four girls were very well defined and developed. Xiaoxia felt as if he could never be the same again, even as he tried to maneuver the sole plate to follow, while trying to avoid glancing at them.
When they reached their destination about an hour and a half later, Xiaoxia was already perspiring. Flying straight while not looking straight was tricky business, he had to constantly adjust his flight path to avoid the structures the girls were weaving their way through.
The place they brought him was rather run down, but compared to the outside, the inside was lushly furnished and the seats that surrounded a hearth were plush and looked extremely comfortable.
Plopping herself onto a seat, Meiling invited Xiaoxia to take a seat as well.
“Zhen Xia, you need to be in our team,” Meiling said the moment Xiaoxia sat.
Before she could say anything else, Carol interrupted her.
“Ling, I think we should at least test him before we commit ourselves,” she said.
“Test? Your team? For what?” Xiaoxia was confused.
He did not even know why he was here and how he ended up following them. His thoughts were still jumbled, as he constantly reminded himself not to look at them.
“We need a guy in our group qualifiers, it’s the Sole Plate World Cup!” Cailing excitedly informed him. She has been eyeing him with expectant looks since earlier.
“I am sorry? The what cup?” Xiaoxia asked again, he heard what she said, but did not understand what she meant.
“The Sole Plate World Cup, it’s a sole plate competition, the winners will be the champions of the world,” Jane answered.
“Oh my goodness, he is just a zero. Come on do we really need him? He doesn’t even know a thing about the World Cup!” Carol vehemently objected.
“If he doesn’t know, then we will teach him. Everyone has to begin somewhere, and all champions start from zero to hero,” Meiling said, her tone clearly showed her to be the leader of the small group.
At that tone of voice, Carol did not reply and remained silent, but after a while, she simply nodded her head and the other two followed suit.
Everything seemed okay among them at this point, and they proceeded to tell Xiaoxia further details of how the competition is like.
The only problem now, is that no one seemed to be asking about Xiaoxia’s opinion on joining the team.