Chapter 146 - Brief
“Hello mister king, how are you?”
“You… you're that guy!”
“Yes, I’m that guy. Nice to meet you...”
I can see the king’s head nearly explode as his frenzied gaze switches back and forth between me, Rhea, and our surroundings. I take the long white hat from my head and put all the floating cooking utensils down. I can see the poor guy’s mind breaking, and it’s hilarious. Let’s fuck with him some more.
“Re-Haan, thank you for bringing him. WE SHALL HAVE A ROYAL FEAST TONIGHT!” I twirl knives through my hands while I breathe out some qi, willing it to absorb the light in a radius behind me. I make sure to grin maniacally at the guy while licking my lips.
Then Rhea is by my side, slaps at my knives and blows my special effects away. I glare at her.
“Don’t play around Drew. Something is happening.”
I look back at the king and notice that he decided to kneel in front of me for some reason. “Why are you kneeling?”
He looks up at me, tears in his eyes. Gods, is this going to be a heartfelt sappy moment? “I thank you for showing me a different path and for allowing me the strength to walk upon it.” His servile attitude then vanishes as he pulls the black cloth from around his head, showing the circlet on his brow to everyone. “That was my personal thanks. Now, in the capacity as the First Defender and Chosen of the Flight I would like to ask you; what the fuck are you doing? Did you ever rule anything before? How the flying dungeon shits are you this incompetent at doing anything?”
I stare at his sudden shift of demeanour while gaping. The guy went from tear-filled thanks to an imposing emperor in a split second. “Rhea, am I supposed to know what he's talking about?”
“See, he doesn’t work like that. He has more smarts than the entirety of the capital combined but no common sense. What he is trying to ask you, Drew, is what the fuck is your plan? Tower city is still in shambles, half the nobles are embroiled in trade wars and feuds thanks to a certain book being released and all the mages have evacuated from the Shie-Eit kingdom. Would you know anything about any of these things?”
I frown. “Some stuff happened, sure, but how many people got killed?”
Rhea gives the king a meaningful glance. Are they conspiring against me? She needs more punishment, I decide. Any further lewd plans are interrupted as the king starts talking to me again, his entire persona screaming at me that he is now speaking from the position of a ruler. “The loss of lives is inconsequential compared to the economic chaos and fear spreading through the populous. This qi… this power allows me to understand a bit of what is going on, and I want an explanation.”
“Nope.” I counter.
Rhea pulls a chair from her ring and sits down. She gestures at some darkly clad people who are arriving from the moon, and they scurry off. She then starts eating while enjoying the show. Tsk, irritating woman.
I can go two ways here. The honourable thing to do would be to have a long discussion, explaining my own plans, problems, fallbacks and countermeasures. I say screw that though. I pull a piece of jade from my ring, put some data on it and slap it on the guy’s forehead. I sink a strand of augur through his body, from the forehead to his gut. There I pull on his power, forcefully pouring his own qi into his brain. I then make it spin.
The king feels like his brain is exploding. Not the chaotic explosion of a fire spell or a mana cannon, no, his mind is expanding at such a rate while staying completely whole. Every previous worry and threat seems so small from his current mental heights, and the growth isn’t showing any signs of stopping.
His fumbling mind is pulled to a new section of data, a slightly familiar haven as his will stumbles around in the alien stretches of his expanded thoughts. There he finds the information he previously saw, a graph depicting ways of governing. Caught in between chaos, order, centralisation, and decentralisation he ponders the information with a mind cracked wide open.
Links and connections previously hidden spring to light. His consciousness then stumbles into new territory just when he thinks he saw everything there is to see. A web, so infinitely intricate and finely spun that it looks like a misty tree the size of a planet, now presents itself. The king stumbles back, half throwing, half stumbling every single spec of mental prowess into the sight before him.
Infinity stares back at him.
“What did you do? It was just about to get good.” Rhea pouts as she puts her food down. The king is still staring at nothing with empty eyes. I see stars sparkle in his glassy orbs, a side effect of the qi rampaging through his skull.
I retract my augur and let the guy pull his qi back into his core. He takes a gasping breath and stumbles back, his expression shifting from awe to confusion and confounded realization. We stand there for a bit as his eyes regain their focus.
“Neither angry hero, helplessly mad at the world for its injustice, nor passive agelessness, unchangingly watching the world go by,” I comment.
He nods at me. “I managed to retain some of it. Is that how all braincores see things?” His eyes fill with a haunted chill for a moment.
“That was a glimpse of insanity, so no. All braincores need to keep thinking small mortal thoughts lest they get lost in there.”
“Thank the flight and my mother that I chose diarrhoea,” he whispers to himself. He then starts glaring at me. “You’re still a fucking dungeon stain though.”
“There we go. Neither zero nor infinity. Grey all the way.” We stare into each others eyes in an understanding, manly way. There is this type of connection that only men can share, this deep understanding of life.
“Drew, stop seducing the king. King, my apologies for his rude behaviour. I will punish him later.” She gives the sitting monarch a slight bow while ignoring my glare.
“Mister… Drew. Pl-”
“Call me Teach.”
“Call him Drew.”
“Mister cultivator, misses cultivator, please inform me if you are going to perform any operations in my city in the future. I will be glad to be of any assistance. It was a good opportunity to test my powers, but I’d rather not have fights in the capital, lest it ends up like Tower City. And finally, all mages have been recalled. Every single wielder of mana under the Council’s thrall has been returned to the Isles. I also hear rumours of an entire island vanishing and other gossips of chaos among the manipulators of mana. I'm needed in the city, trying to keep the nobles from eating my common folk and keeping everyone calm under the rumours of enormous beast hordes. I’d request of you to handle these matters.”
“Did you check the quests section or didn't you retain that bit?” I ask the guy.
“That information didn’t seem relevant to me.”
“Alright. I’d warn you not to go against any suspiciously powerful new organisation popping up here and there, but you couldn’t stop them even if you wanted to, I’m afraid.”
“I will take my leave now. I retained the portal location.” The king then glances at his ring, turns around and strides off. I watch him wander around for a bit. “How do I get back up?”
“Just jump.” Rhea ruins my fun by telling him. He hesitantly jumps and is startled as Databases’ white glow lifts him upwards.
“Drew, you should be wary of dissenting factions, even I can sense that!” He yells at me before he speeds off towards the moon.
I wave him off while nodding placidly. “I think it’s cute he tried to warn me.”
“So you do know that she’s been working very hard, then?” Rhea asks with a hint of concern on her face.
“I welcome her to try. Overcoming adversity breeds strength, right? Or something. It’s just too petty to really care about. Now cooking, that’s a subject worthy of my considerable attention!” Unwilling to waste more mental power on useless worries, I return to my culinary duties. “I’ve got a few more beasties to cook, want to check on the mages after this? My drones only showed me that all the mages retreated to the mana dungeon. The mana is so thick over there that my drones can't get close enough to listen in, so I want to check it out.”
She throws her hands in the air. “Sure, whatever! My mission went to total shit, and I failed to bring you the library data, but that’s not important, right?”
I look at her while covering the large pile of scaled chinchilla meat in herbs and spices. “Did you give them feedback? Did you trust any of your underlings? Did you try to be their friend? Did you take your time with them? Did you follow their process? Did-”
Rhea is looking down as she slumps against the kitchen counter. “No, no, only in the beginning, no, no, shut up...” She wraps her arms around her knees and rocks back and forth. It’s a good thing the crowd has thinned out by a lot, the return of a bleeding and defeated fifty man expedition is more interesting than my cooking show, bunch of disaster tourists…
“I don't need to tell you this, right? Note down what went wrong and try again.” I roll my eyes at her and stuff a piece of flatbread with meat and sauce in her mouth. Her eyes flash with anger before bliss overtakes her face.
“Delicious, but expect punishment later.” The evil glint in her eyes makes me shiver in a combination of fear and anticipation. Bring it on!
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