Chapter 140 - Cooling
Lola is miffed. For as long as she has been alive, the big provider of food and scratches has given her loads of attention. That has changed, and she is not happy about it. The near hourly petting sessions used to be alternated by periods of her sitting on his shoulder and seeing exciting stuff. Even the blue-haired small girl and the one with long black hair used to pet her lots. Now the small one is too busy doing stuff to water, and the black haired one smells all hot and bothered and is with the metal smelling guy all the time.
Lola used to have loads of worshippers, but people bowing to her while lavishing her with all kinds of foods just isn't the same. The big giver of food took her out for a bit, but then the changing female that’s great for fighting changed into a taller and uglier version of Lola’s glorious self and poof, all of the big guy’s attention was gone again.
Even now, he is totally ignoring her. She is even puffing up her fur using some qi like he taught her to look even more fluffy and cute. Lola ignores the fact that he taught her this technique with only attack or defence in mind and shifts her red mohawk a bit to the side.
She hops a bit closer, sniffing the items he is playing with. How can those lumps of shiny material be more interesting than herself? He is also holding some warm glowy things that remind her of the nice hot bath at the glowing mountain. Other than that, she sees some cold blue things that he was playing with previously. All his attention is focused on these objects, irritating the small bunny to no small end.
That’s when Lola’s instinct kicks in and provides her with an idea. Her mental processes are of similar intelligence to a dog, but her unconscious ability to put together ideas from lots of information is much higher. This instinct now tells her that if the big guy is so interested in orange glowing stuff and blue cold stuff, she should become glowy and blue too.
She has the glowing part done already, the amazing and awesome horn she can form on her forehead has a molten orange core. Now she only needs to also become blue. And she knows just where to do that. Hopping on his shoulder, she begrudgingly brushes her chin against him, marking him as hers. That should warn the changing female to stay away.
She looks at him, wiggling her nose and twitching her left ear just so, telling him she’ll be back. He looks up from the stupid glowing things he is pressing together and scratches her between the ears.
Aaaahhh… Lola’s little brain overloads slightly, the jolt of petting-induced endorphins making her droop down into a puddle. It takes her a moment to realise the finger is gone and he is focusing on the glowing stuff again.
Snorting in discontent, she hops down to the ground and saunters to the door. She barely manages to dodge the wooden slab as it suddenly flies into her face. She ignores the long-haired girl’s grabbing hands and slips out the door. She nearly bumps into the metal smelling one who is carrying the angry furry one, who is sleeping.
She hears the giver of food behind her but ignores him with her nose in the air. “Put her down over there, good job. I see you guys spent the points already?”
“She nearly died to that beast horde… Was that really necessary?” The metal one replies.
“Ket, my boy. Are you growing all emotional and empathic now?”
“Yeah Ket, she’s a bitch. Cya later Teach, we're off to Tower.”
“Bye-bye, make sure to use protection!”
The door slams shut with ground shaking force as the black haired girl and the metal boy storm out, both their faces all red. Lola glances at them as they speed off. There is a slight tinge of disappointment in her little heart at not being petted. She dodged the hands, sure, but that doesn't mean she would keep dodging for long…
A few people gather around the fluffy creature as she hops, sniffing some grass and plants here and there. Lola sits still for a bit as she finds a very delicious yellow flower to munch on. Her appetite sated, she moves on before an even larger crowd starts gathering.
She jumps through the woods, kicking off against a tree here and there. Her ears twitch as the crashing sound of falling and splintering logs catches up with her. So irritating, everything around her has become way too soft lately. It got better for a bit. Every tree withstood her gentle jumping and rocks stayed together longer. But then the big giver of food flapped his mouth for a long time, causing the air to become thick and swirl around. Now everything around her is soft and easily breakable again.
Instead of slowing down, Lola simply speeds up so the sounds can't catch up to her. She speeds off, leaving a storm of debris and tumbling followers in her wake. The golden glow of Tree surrounds her for a bit, and the small rabbit feels its irritation at the large trail of destruction she is leaving behind.
She snorts but jumps into the air anyway. Kicking against the air takes a lot more energy, but Lola is an understanding rabbit. She barely felt any resistance from kicking against the trees or rocks. Rationalising some more, the air-walking rabbit speeds off towards the large cold mountain looming in the distance.
Minutes later, a massive cloud of powdery snow is thrown in the air as Lola reaches her destination. She smashes face first into the ice-covered mountain flank, a shockwave of white displaying the fact that she overestimated her own braking prowess greatly.
Rubbing her nose with a white paw to wipe away the irritating cold spray, she moves higher up the mountain. The Air grows colder the further she climbs, ice blue eddies of super chilled qi swirling around the mountaintop. Her red mohawk begins glowing slightly, the hair moving as if in a strong wind. A wave of heat flows from the spot of concentrated heat intent qi, covering her in a protective shell.
Too late she realises the risk of melting ice in cold temperatures. The ice on her fur and under her paws melts in a flash, plastering her voluminous coat to her skin. She stops and puts a paw on her forehead, stopping the fur from generating heat. This causes the mighty heartcore cultivating bunny to turn into an ice statue immediately.
A statue that tips over slowly, causing her to roll down the mountain. A few minutes later, a massive snowball crashes into the evergreen trees growing at the foot of the icy mountain. Lola hops from the snow pile as it melts, red swirls of qi evaporating water and burning a few trees. She looks up at the mountaintop with an angry, determined set in her black eyes and starts bounding up the mountain again.
Angeta wakes slowly.
Now wide awake, the beastkin jolts upright. She reverts back to instinct as she springs to her haunches and crouches low. Her eyes adjust to the darkness quickly, allowing her to see a dark stone room, the only illumination present is a colourful collection of items and a fire.
A forge fire.
A forge fire that a shaded figure is working in front of. Sparks fly everywhere as the person smashes a large hammer down again, straightening a large slab of orange glowing metal. Looking around some more, she realises that the forge is likely to be a fresh addition to this room.
An otherwise normal sitting room takes up half the space, complete with sofa, curtain-covered windows and soft looking rug. The other half is all naked stone, tools and rough troughs and boxes. Metal tools cover a large section of the bare wall, and a large moving bellow hangs from the ceiling.
Another loud noise startles her again, and Angeta turns just in time to see the giant metal slab disappear into the bed of glowing coals. A bed of coals that must be larger than it seems, as nearly the entire two-meter length of metal is now submerged in glowing charcoal.
“Ah, you’re awake. Had fun?” The bearded face of Teach looks at her, his normally bright blue eyes hidden by the reflecting orange of the forge. A thick apron covers his entire front, and thick mittens cover his lanky hands and arms.
Angeta sits ten meters away from the fire, and she realises that she is drenched in sweat. The fire is not burning at a heat that Angeta is familiar with, that much she knows. The couch suddenly catches fire after smouldering for the past five minutes, but it fails to claim either of the room's occupants attention.
Touching herself all over, Angeta finds only smooth skin and fur. Her left ear should be hanging by a single strand of flesh, cut off by the razor-sharp feather of a massive spider. Her stomach should still be pierced by that millipedes’ spiked shell. Her tail, eaten again, but still here. Or here again? Bewildered and confused, she looks up at Teach. “Had fun, what?”
“No anger this time? I don’t believe that you got it all beat out of you this quickly.” Teach turns his back on her and pulls the slab from the fire. The dark room brightens as he puts the fiercely glowing object on a large anvil. The next few minutes are filled with furious hammering as sparks fly everywhere.
Teach walks over to a large stone vat, constrained by something that glows blue. He puts the still slightly orange metal object in, causing blue liquid to splash everywhere. A penetrating hissing sound is accompanied with lots of weirdly glowing steam. Teach swings the object around a bit, splashing the floor with the liquid. Ice crystals form and melt wherever droplets fall.
Angeta starts to wonder what the thing might be. It’s too large for a sword, even though it has the basic shape of one. He unceremoniously shoves the thing into the glowing coals and faces her again. “Still no anger? Did it work or was it convinced you died? Did its influence vanish? Hello? Anyone in there?”
The finger tapping against her forehead enrages her. How dare he just casually touch her face? She stands up snarling, about to lay into him, but the fire leaves her quickly. Even recalling how he left her there, to be trampled by mere animals, does little to stoke the fires of her rage.
She just feels numb and confused. Vague memories churn in her foggy skull, one of them is of being spat on by a trusted member of her father’s household she thought lost. The other is of a human mage, a despicable human mage, healing her. Vox helping her. A smiths apprentice she had a fling with saying words that opposed every single line he had ever said to her before. And punching her… in the face.
Ket and Tess saved her, she realises. She looks up at Teach again, confusion on her face. “I don't feel well. My body feels fine, but my head feels… blank.”
Teach nods. “Thought so. What do you know about your ancestry?”
Angeta stares at him for a bit. Teach moves away after a full minute of staring and starts another round of hammering on the massive metal object. He dips it in the ice liquid again before shoving it into the fire. He then stands before her, patiently waiting.
“Our line has the favour of the Flight, that much I know. My great-grandfather was a powerful warrior and manipulator of plants. I think that's where I got my plant affinity from.”
Teach nods to himself as he hums and haws. “Hmm, that’s the Flight blood, yes. Makes sense though. No use engineering a race without failsafes. Need to inform Rhea and test the dilution limit… Hmm.” Angeta is trying to make sense of those comments as she watches Teach walk away as he starts messing with stuff on a stone table.
The next moment, Angeta is hanging from the ceiling, her tail puffed up to maximum volume as she tries to put as much distance between herself and that table. “WHY DO YOU HAVE THAT? And what is that other thing? What are you going to do, kill us all?”
“No, no need to worry. You recognise this one, eh? I was astounded at the energy potential in this little rock. Very cool.”
“That’s not cool at all! There is a single one of those stones in the beastkin capital. It warms the entire noble district. The previous Tooth tried to hoard it to himself, but that thing needs to be cooled to prevent it from melting everything it touches. He also melted as a result. Our dragon was not happy.”
“Your dragon?” Teach asks.
“Oops...” She holds her hands over her mouth, causing her to fall to the ground immediately. “I can't tell you. Not unless I want to risk having every single beastkin killed.”
“I’ll spank Rhea later for keeping secrets. How did you guys get a self-sustaining fire mana rock?”
“Nobody knows. It’s always been in the capital. Why are we not dead yet?”
Teach grabs the large rock. It’s internal fire swirls angrily as he tosses it from hand to hand. “Qi shield. Mana is an energy with a lesser energy potential after all, but it has some interesting properties. Squeeze a lot of the stuff together, and you get a perpetual energy device.”
“Where did you get that one? It's even bigger than the one in the capital.”
“The volcano I kidnapped. Tree has been filtering and channelling all the fire mana it can get its leafy hands on towards the place. It caused these interesting crystals to grow. I think Lola has been learning from it. Anyway, we were talking about you. Do you feel yourself again?”
At this sudden question, Teach drops the rock and pulls the metal slab from the coals again. Angeta recovers from a near heart attack at seeing him handle such a dangerous item so carelessly. She then watches as he hammers the slab some more, pondering the question and everything he has been implying.
She is loathed to admit it, but the thing should be a sword, right? While the two-meter length is not very unusual for a sword, the thickness and width of the blade are very much so. Five centimetres thick, the straight-edged sides taper off into a sharp blade on both sides. Teach hammers at the metal until a crude bevelled handguard surrounds the thin piece where a handle would go. She can see a certain kind of balance forming. This will be a weapon meant more as a club than as something to cut with. A weapon meant to slay large foes.
Ah, she understands now. Punching those large mana mutants doesn't do shit. And you’d need a very long blade to pierce any vital organs. But why bother with precision if you can smash half its body with a single swing?
“I never really got this angry back in the capital or Treefields. I was so scared when they enslaved me, too busy keeping my food to myself to bother with anger. Then you freed, no, kidnapped me… I thought it was the qi, but qi doesn’t need emotion to be worked. Nature mana is based on anger. My own cultivation is just qi with an intent.”
“Hmm? Yes, I think I was on some shitlist the moment I let that qi energy signature radiate everywhere back in that cave. You must have been the easiest one to influence.”
“Who? Who is messing with my head?”
“No idea, honestly. Something. Something that keeps sending those large mutants everywhere it detects loose qi. I really hope no pieces of my stomach landed inside a large city. That would be unpleasant...”
Angeta crouches down in a corner of the room, wrapping her arms around her. A very confused expression is on her face. “How did it leave me and how can we stop it?”
“I think it believed you couldn't have survived. I modified everyone’s rings to stop this type of thing from happening. I myself cannot detect its meddling, but this dimension’s will can. It was telling me to be wary before it even properly formed. So I linked everyone’s ring via Tree and Database, it shouldn’t be able to influence anyone wearing a ring anymore.”
“What is it?”
“That, Angeta my dear, is an excellent question. I do know that I will have to spank Rhea very hard for keeping secrets of this magnitude.” Teach shrugs and goes back to the forge.
Angeta sits there, letting the noise, heat and smoke wash over her as she sits still, and just thinks for the first time in weeks.
Previous Chapter Next Chapter