Chapter 108 - Ligna
I'm sitting cross-legged on the prow of my ship. I have my eyes closed. All my non-essential processes are on hold. I've paused my healing and set my scanning suite to its minimum functionality mode.
The final ripples of something I can barely sense are buffering me. They originate from the mysterious continent on the opposite side of this massive ocean. They are freaking me the fuck out.
Something is fucking with my soul, and I don't like it one bit.
I take another breath, calming my rising temper. A blast of energy careens through me again, barely perceptible. I have felt it quite a few times now, enough to notice the phenomenon gaining strength the closer I get to that place. It’s also quite fast. Faster than the speed of sound through air by multiple folds, but nowhere near the lightspeed of radio waves.
It reminds me of qi radiation. Concentrated quantities of qi generates a tertiary effect comparable to something like neutrinos, an extremely low-power type of radiation that barely interacts with the material world. Maybe mana does the same because this feels similar but different.
I really want to know what is happening and I am starting to recognise a pattern. Milliseconds before impact I dedicate the maximum safe amount of brain space to my consciousness while swirling qi through my brain.
My senses grow dull and old as time speeds up. My mind expands, and I become instantly bored. Really bored, all my inputs have slowed down to a crawl, and I have a lot of thinking space left over. Immediately my thoughts start to wander to da-
Oowww, my head hurts now. The impact that normally only slightly jolted my soul now rattles my brain around inside my head. Higher perception means a higher vulnerability, it seems. Whatever was just broadcast straight into my brain... very disturbing.
I look at the recorded message and lose concentration. What was I just doing? Aw shit, did I mess up again? I really need to stop doing stupid stuff like this. Sense an unknown soul-stirring pulse from somewhere up ahead? Sure, open yourself up to it to the max, that can’t do any harm, right? Invite that psychic spyware right in, open door and arrows pointing the way.
I weave a quick spell to secure my Tree necklace to the ship before popping inside the pocket dimension. I wave Ket away and spend some time calming down my roiling thoughts and soul.
“BORD, COME HERE FOR A SEC!”
“You didn't sense anything? Teach acted like he detected something. He went through his full suite of pre-programmed facial muscle contractions.”
Bord shakes his jowls in denial. Ares pokes Ket in the side. “Full suite?”
Ket’s face is serious as he nods. “Hmmh, he has this act that he does when he is surprised or wants us to believe he is surprised. First, he freezes for a second, then both his eyebrows rise a fraction. That is all followed by a further rising of his right eyebrow and a perfectly even widening of both eyes. Then his left cheekbone to cheek muscle contracts followed by a tensing of his chewing muscles. This is then...”
Ket continues to drone off a complex series of highly detailed facial expressions. He stops when he notices that only Bord is standing near him, a vacant expression on his round face. Bord visibly shakes himself back to awareness after a few seconds of silence.
“Ah, you are done. That was very interesting.” Bord turns around and walks away and starts mumbling to himself. “I’m going to tell Selis that I didn't walk away this time even though it was boring. I listened and complimented. This ekitet stuff is hard.”
Ket rubs his forehead for a bit. He then looks around and startles as he notices Teach sitting not far from him. He walks up to him, but the bearded man waves him off while keeping his eyes closed. Shrugging his shoulders, Ket walks off to the clean and angled piece of architecture that is his own small house.
“Re-Haan, please tell him! He is seriously scary when angry.”
“I am not going to tell him you got your tail eaten, pathetic furball.”
“But... but he forbade us all from losing our qi. My tail contained enough qi to make a few new qi gathering cultivators. And a dragon ate it.” Angeta shifts on her feet in a nervous manner, fidgeting with her fingers.
The dragoness thinks for a moment before grinning. “He lost enough qi to make tens of thousand qi gathering cultivators when he got wounded just now. He doesn't seem bothered by that.”
“He got wounded? When did tha-”
“FUUUUCK. HOW DID I MISS THAT. GATHER ROUND EVERYONE!”
Wincing from the thundering volume, Re-Haan and Angeta walk out of the tree-shaped house they were chatting in. They, along with all the others, rush towards Teach who is standing in front of Tree as he frowns deeply.
“Ket, double check these numbers for me. Two kilotonnes of octo mana crystal turned to qi with a propagation rate of one point zero zero three per day, cumulative, spread in a pattern that disperses a third to the ground distributed over the next month, a third over the next decennia and a third reaching the sun in a couple of thousand years.”
“So it really is that bad?” Teach frowns again.
“A meteorite? Where?”
Teach rubs his stomach.
“Dantian then. But that's so unlikely...” Ket waves a hand to Selis. She makes a finger pistol in his direction, followed by a splash of water that starts circling on top of Ket’s head. She adds more as steam starts to waft from the heating water.
“Getting hit by a meteorite in space is… The number has twelve zeros. The chance of then getting hit in the stomach has more than twenty. What direction?”
A small stick figure appears beside Teach. A slightly curved surface appears beneath the figure, continents and clouds just visible on its surface. A dotted line comes from the upper right, making its way over to the small human. Then another lines swoops in, nearly perpendicular to the surface of the planet, and smashes through the small bearded humanoid.
“Debris spray angle?” Ket asks as he stares at the animated drawing.
A small cone appears from the opposite side of the now falling stick figure. Other dotted lines miss the falling figure as they steak past.
“A year. The next beast hordes will contain qi animals. Ten years later they will all be cultivating animals. The third meteorite will hit the sun in twelve years.”
Teach raises a single eyebrow at that. “Why is that important?”
“The third meteor went through your spray. It will deliver an uncertain amount of qi straight into the sun.”
A single ripple of power emanates from Teach, leaving everyone breathless.
“Drew, what is happening?” Pale eyes stare at Teach as they take in the facial twitches partially hidden under a beard.
“Nothing I can’t fix. I will have to speed up my plans once again, it seems.” He takes a deep breath, visibly collecting himself.
“Good news first, I reached foundation realm, woohoo!” Puffs of smoke and confetti explode from behind the man who is standing in a triumphant pose. Glitter rains down as miniature fireworks explode around his head.
Why did that bloody celebration process go off now? I wave away the manifested festivities as I see no reaction from my unappreciative crowd.
Things are worse than they seem, it seems.
“Bad news is that we can't leave this world without some proper defences. As Ket correctly estimated right now, this planet is protected by very dangerous weapons. They can't hit us under this thick blanket of atmosphere, but we should make it a rule not to fly too high.”
Rhea, Selis, Ket and even Ares nod in comprehension. The gutcore and heartcore members of my troop are looking at me uncomprehendingly. A crash course of orbital armaments seems to be needed here.
“Very high up in the sky, far above the place where the air stops, are machines that throw stones. These stones are thrown fast enough to obliterate city walls and blast chunks out of mountains. The air around us gets in their way, so they can’t hit us here. That means that if you fly too high, they can hit you.”
Some form of comprehension is now visible on everyone’s face. Even Bord seems to get the gist of things.
“I went into space when I broke through to the foundation realm. One of those things hit me in the stomach. It blew apart a part of my spine and most of my intestines.” I lift my shirt to show them the large circle of artificial white skin around my belly button. “A gutcore cultivator would have died from that.”
I wait a bit to let that sink in. “This also means that my entire stomach section got blown to bits. A part of it is even now raining down on this planet, a part will keep floating through space for thousands of years, and a very small part of it is on it’s way to the sun. The qi poisoning that I have been trying to prevent is happening as we speak.”
Selis, Vox, Ares and Tess turn a shade paler. I make note of this fact. They must still have attachments to this world in some form or another.
“Which means I will be starting my school now.” I point my finger. I compress the space in front of it, letting it collapse into a spatial distortion with but a fraction of the effort it previously took. I point the finger of my other hand at the same spot and pull both hands apart. The one-dimensional rift now turns into an immeasurably then streak as I force the singular point in a line. Linking it to the qi construct keeping the necklace to the mast, I force it open.
The bright line opens like an eyelid, giving us a glimpse of the deck and blue horizon. “I now have enough power to manipulate the second dimension. I will be setting up a limited form of a teleportation network to allow members of my school access anywhere in the world. The mission I will be giving out will focus on limiting the damage of the qi pollution happening and preparing this world for the shift from mana to qi.”
Tess raises a hand, and I nod at her. “What will be the school’s name and motto?”
“Arbeit m… Haha, no. That's a bit too much, I think. Ligna Relaxantur. That’s the motto. As for a name for the school, I don’t like naming things. You guys come up with something.” I mentally smirk. Ligna Relaxantur. Trees are relaxed indeed.
I ignore the murmur of my students and look upwards at the bright moon orbiting this stretch of land. I have been thinking about this thing on and off for a thousand years. Let's see if I can make this work.
And if I can’t make it work, well… I do intend to remain the most powerful being here, after all.
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