Chapter 107 - Wave
“AND STAY AWAY, YOU SCALED PUSSIES!!!” Roaring her lungs out, Angeta looks at the retreating group of dragons while throwing petrified strands of seaweed after them. Her frenzied motions slow down as the last winged lizard disappears from sight.
Bord saunters to the aft deck of the ship and pats the exhausted beast girl on the shoulder. “You can regrow your tail again. Don’t worry.”
Angeta’s fist snaps back, stopping only centimetres in front of Bord’s face. The green flames of fury in her pupils dim a little as she slumps down and starts caressing the small stump. “I KNOW I can grow it back, that’s not the fucking point, Bord.”
“Did you retract the qi from it?” Angeta turns pale under her fur when she hears Ket’s question. “I guess that’s a no, then.”
He rubs his eyes, his dark circles turning a single shade darker as the implications hit him. “We will need to tell Teach when he comes back. Not it!”
One by one, they all shout “Not it!”. Ares looks around befuddled, realisation dawning much too late. She frantically looks around, searching for Rhea. Her face falls when she fails to find the dragoness.
“Anyone seriously injured still?” Vox looks around through half-lidded eyes. He touches the bleeding stump of Angeta’tail, sealing the wound with small rays of light. Dodging the irritated beast woman's swipe, he crawls to the middle of the deck and lies down. “So tired. Using all my qi is stupid… Wake me when… ZZzzz”
“This was stupid.” Bord nods frowning as he looks around. The draconic siege left much of the ship in tatters, the pristine hull and deck now once again marred with a wide variety of elemental damages. The deck has a large collection of indented footprints and cracks running through it, some planks are missing, and the railing is reduced to kindling here and there.
“Teach is gonna be pissed again.” Tess is rubbing her eyes as she slumps her shoulders.
“Lola, distract him while we tell him the bad news?” Selis holds a tired rabbit in the air, looking at it with big, blue, pleading eyes.
Meanwhile, Angeta keeps rubbing her butt and the deck. Her tail starts lengthening at an incredibly slow pace as the deck under her fingers mends itself back together even slower. She sighs deeply. “I can’t do much without changing my cultivation base, but I can keep us floating. What do we do now?”
“I’m not sure why, but I think it’s more likely that Teach and Re-Haan are that way. The numbers are higher in that direction.” Ket points to the side while frowning.
“Yeah, Teach, and Ré are over there.”
Ket throws a glance towards Bord and nods. He then turns the wheel, causing the limping ship to change direction.
I can move around again! I sit up while gingerly running a hand across my belly. My skin turns into a white, glossy sheet of qi in a roughly circular shape, a small starburst pattern a stark reminder that I was shot from the back. Beneath it, the outlines of muscles and organs are now solid enough not to tear apart when I move. The single-celled sheets have multiplied into a rough network, keeping everything together. My stomach is about as sturdy as a normal humans' now.
Fully healed, it should be the same sturdiness as an Abrams tank composite armour. The planetary defence system sure did a number on me. My suspicions about this planet being someone’s pet project have been pretty much confirmed. No normal planet has a dantian crippling satellite railgun network; I’m pretty sure.
This planet’s theme seems to be a variation of the tried and true order versus chaos theme. I want to explore the other continent to confirm this.
Alright, enough introspective mumbling. Let's see how the world is doing. I spread my senses through the portal in Tree and feel a heavy pressure. I snake strands of qi through into the real world and make a rough scan.
Bottom of the ocean, about three hundred meters deep? That’s pretty shallow. I guess this is some sort of plateau. I confirm what my collection of contracts told me, my students are up top, right above us.
I open my eyes and stare into a beautiful pair of pale grey irises. I can’t help but smile a bit. “Good morning?”
I hurriedly intercept the casual fist send my way. “No hitting, please. You would undo all the healing. Please express your complaints verbally for now.”
Her pale orbs narrow in suspicion. They then travel to my torn clothes, the redness still clinging to tatters of black silk and white undershirt. I run a hand over my vest and frown. The simple undershirt I am wearing was capable of stopping pre-ascension level attacks. That satellite tore through it with ease.
I turn my gaze back upwards and see Rhea thinking. She then turns the first into an open hand. I quirk an eyebrow at the gesture.
“Your students have rings, does this mighty dragon not deserve one?”
My mind stops for a bit. This… I did not consider at all. “Ah… Uuuhm. I’m sorry.”
I pull a few materials out of my ring. I pause my healing for a bit and do in a single second what used to take me half an hour before reaching the foundation realm, making a spatial ring.
A small Tree of silver inlaid on an intricate woven band of gold and black metal drops into my hand. The forest around us settles down from the massive surge of qi I packed in there. Rhea’s hair settles back down from the small cyclone my forceful crafting caused, and I hand it over.
“I’m pretty shit at expressing emotions, but... thanks.” I look away a bit. Vulnerabilities are so embarrassing. I put the few feelings I'm sure about in the words as I speak them. Not quite love, but an intense happiness and gratefulness that she exists. And is willing to put up with me.
She looks frozen like a deer in the headlights. I grin at her. How could I forget that this lady is a narcoleptic dragon with very little social experiences? We might be a better match than I thought, after all.
I kiss her. I then have to remind her several times to be careful with my still healing stomach as we roll around in the grass.
“RAARG, TEACH! WHERE ARE YOU???” Angeta rages for a bit, undoing much of her progress as she claws the deck in frustration.
“HWA? Not the whip, Teach. Ket, noooo…” Blurry eyes open wide, Vox jolts upright at the sudden ruckus.
Ket shivers a bit as he casts another fishing line into the calm sea. Selis is kicking her feet as they dangle over the back of the boat, also fishing. Bord causes a small explosion as he flicks a booger into the sea. Tess hangs in the ropes hung around the mast like a cat.
“How long have I slept?” Bord answers the still sleepy Vox by pointing at the sky. “Sun was over there.”
“That’s half of half a day! Are we sure that Teach and Re-Haan are below us?” Vox closes his eyes again, answering his own question shortly after. “Yep, Teach is below. I don't know how I know, but I feel it.”
“Contract,” Ket mumbles as he pulls on his line, hauling in a misshapen tuna. He looks at the large teeth jutting randomly out of the fish with suspicion. “Tess, Sel, was this nature and water?”
“Yeah, guess which one was dark and bright?” Selis looks at him as she asks the question with pride in her voice, one hand casually petting a bundle of white fluff.
“Bright water, dark nature?”
“Can’t eat this, then. Dark nature mana makes fish taste like leather.”
The fish sails back into the sea. “Ah, Teach is finally comi-”
A black item burst from the water, crashing onto the deck with splintering force. Two forms pop out onto the deck immediately. “Whatsup my students! I am back!”
“Thank all that is holy, let me in!” Angeta sprints towards the necklace and disappears.
“What’s up her butt?” Re-Haan asks.
Teach blinks a couple of times as his gaze focusses inside the necklace. “Too much, you don't want to know. Do you all know that circulating qi through your stomach disintegrates the food entirely, leaving no residue that needs to be… excreted?”
Blanks stares greet him. “Hmmh, maybe leaving all the learning to Database self-study is not that smart, after all. Alright, Ket! Set sail towards that direction.” He points towards a seemingly random point on the horizon. “First we will fix the ship. Then I will be truthful to my title and teach a bit. Then we’ll start a sect!”
The entire group visible cringes at the pose the bearded man is in, finger dramatically pointing towards the sky.
“Speaking of the ship, why can't I leave you little shits alone without ruining the Ascent! You guys blamed mages the first time, who did all this damage? Dragons?”
Absolute silence reigns supreme for half a minute.
Ket’s reply comes in a measured pace. “That majority of the structural damage came from you smacking the necklace onto the deck. All of this is superficial and cosmetic damage. That impact cracked twenty per cent of the structural beams.”
Teach looks down, frowns and shrugs as Re-Haaan tries very hard not to burst into giggles.
Large couches, comfortable chairs and a table filled with food are placed on a pristine ship’s deck. Eight people are sitting and laying in various stages of relaxation as a wide variety of snacks is consumed.
“Circulating qi through my stomach makes me hungry.” Bord frowns while putting another handful of nuts into his mouth.
“Guide it through your stomach into your intestines. I have a process running that generates a slow current through my small and large intestine. I have found that disintegrating the food inside your stomach is less efficient.” I reply.
Angeta’s ears are a faint shade of red. I'm unsure whether that's from anger or embarrassment. “So all that squatting I did in the woods...”
“Enriched Tree’s ecosystem, I am sure. You’re not required to do the qi assisted digestion though, just make sure that your digestive tract is largely empty before fighting. Cleaning a gut wound that's contaminated with faeces is a nightmare.” I rub my still healing stomach through my new shirt.
“When can we reach foundation realm? I could measure your power somewhat previously. Now you are just a blank slate to my senses.” Ket has been staring at me with his full focus the moment Rhea and I rejoined the students. I don't even have to consciously rebuff his scanning attempts, his level of qi control is unable to get through my skin.
“When you want to. The only limiting factor here is the amount of qi available to us. My step into foundation took an enormous amount of qi.” I pause for a moment to run some calculations. “All of the qi inside Tree and all of yours together is a tenth of what I possess currently.”
The group looks at each other for a bit as I let that sink in. Ket rubs his forehead and Selis has her eyes closed as they both run the numbers. Rhea is nodding to herself.
“No wonder the dragons came,” Ket mumbles to himself.
“Yeah, even with a full set of dark and light mana pairs, that still required an enormous amount of energy. A third of the planet noticed?” Selis looks at Ket as water swirls through her hair.
“Four-thirteenths of the planet must have noticed a mana shift. That’s insane...” Ket is looking at me with a weird expression on his face.
“And that covers Flight Mountain. How many dragons came? And when will Tree be big enough to support a normal foundation realm? Sucking the planet dry of mana will have all sorts of consequences.” Rhea is now rubbing her temples also.
“A couple of dozen? I was too busy keeping all of you alive to count them.” Vox still looks a bit tired.
I feel some tapping on my shoulder. I turn my head and see Lola shifting. Is she tapping out a number? “Forty-Five?” She headbutts me. “Fifty-Four?” She stomps a single time. I put her on my chest and start rubbing her belly.
I turn my head to the dragoness sitting beside me. “And Rhea, half a year before Tree has enough qi to allow that, I think. I made the dark mana excess worse by half a percent by absorbing equal parts light and dark. I think it’s time to wake up the frozen squatters on my moon and start a qi school. It’s also time for you guys to start earning your keep.”
I smile at my students. They all shiver for some reason.
“Drew, why would you start a sect of your own?” Rhea asks me a question.
“Call me Teach. And it’s not a sect. It's a school, totally diff-”
A faint wave of dread boots me into combat mode.
A shiver of my soul. Coming from where? Coming from ahead. Coming from second continent. Energy signature feels dreadful. Same feeling in pit of stomach as I felt in space when looking at the continent.
Reason? Effect? Unknown. Nothing positive.
Observe students and Rhea. Glassy eyes. Already fading. No reaction. Temporary memory loss?
“Huh, Teach, why did you stop ta-” I interrupt Tess and stand up. That was bad, a wave of something very bad just washed over us and no one but me felt it. How long has this been going on? How long have my students been subjected to something that feels this bad?
“Get inside of Tree now.” I hold up the necklace as I suffuse my seriousness into my voice. My heartcore boosted vocal cords imprint my command upon everyone here. They all look confused but follow my command.
“Something bad, I will be right there.” I look at Rhea, who is the last to disappear inside Tree. Just in time for a stronger wave to wash over me, rattling my soul.
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