Chapter 223 - Interlude (4)

Slowly waking, Agenta’s first thought is that she loves the blissfulness that comes after sleep before the terror takes over again. She then wonders why she likes this state of happy ignorance so much, and then the memories come back, and thus the terror. Immediately, the beastkin girl feels like throwing herself off a cliff. She feels like weaving the super rigid and complex nest she has made for herself a hundred times more secure.

Angeta knows what she must do, though. If there is anything her father instilled in her, it’s that sometimes people need to do the things they hate the most in order to live a true life. Whether that's joining the yearly conscription to defend against the mutant beast hordes, leaving the beastkin capital in order to go govern a border town or stepping outside of her residence.

She would gladly face a million beast hordes and be forced to rule even the most remote and underdeveloped little town, just to avoid going outside. Because outside are... them. Shuddering, not even daring to think of those things, she tries to gather her anger.

How dare that wretch calling himself Teach put her here! That bearded piece of shit human. How dare he toss her into this Dungeonforsaken wilderness, left to take care of the idiotic qi spillage that he himself caused. Who told him to get his guts blown out everywhere? Who told him to go and walk through space, just to get his spine sprayed all over the planet?

Suddenly, the familiar rage is back. The jungle around her sings with joy at her roiling fury. The little mana still lingering in the air and trees welcomes her anger, the nature qi that’s slowly eating it up still reacting to her, if in a lesser sense. The small yet intense flame of anger inside of her burns away the icy fear of those monsters outside, allowing her to begin the process of opening her house.

The sight she sees when opening the tightly woven flaps of her door is completely different from what she had first seen when landing here. The very first thing she'd seen was a nice muddy puddle, but that is just because she had been overwhelmed by the amount of nature suddenly around her. After wiping the muck from her eyes, she had gazed upon a rather sad collection of mud huts, red roofs, and twine woven fences.

Long story short, she wandered around a bit before running into the first local. The grey-skinned child dropped his stick, before running for his mommy. Instead of reacting aggressively, as she expected, they had all reacted the exact way they are reacting now, months later. Suspended high in the trees, interwoven through the tall trunks, is a village made from wooden platforms, bridges, and woven vines - a true wonderland of elegantly suspended plazas and multi story houses.

And every single villager is on their knees, arms raised up while bowing towards the freshly woken Angeta.

“All hail the furry one!”

“Praise her grey softness!”

“May her tail swish evermore!”

“I wanna pet those ears so bad!”

“Teach us more mystical arts, oh soft one!”

“Please have my kittens!”

The overwhelming roar of adoring fans, pupils in the weaving arts, and worshippers is as annoying as ever. Her ears flick back and forth as she tries not to hear the idiotic zealotry in their voices. If all of this praise was actually earned, she’d be pretty happy about it all. But no, these dumbass primitives decided that just because she has stripes of darker grey fur running across her body, she should be the boss. Just because her colours are a bit darker than the average villager, they all decided to follow her implicitly.

Somewhere, in the coldly analytical part of her mind, she kind of understands. In the jungle, hiding is often a much better strategy than fighting. This was already the case when there were just mere mana mutants to worry about. Now that qi is thoroughly fucking everything up, being able to hide properly is an even more critical survival criteria. Darker skin means that it’s easier to hide, and thus dark-skinned people tend to live longer. After that, it's a simple step of getting collaboration and causation mixed up for a stupid superstition to be born.

“Right, that’s enough!” Angeta roars, her powerful scream causing all the villagers to shut their mouths. They all stand up, rising with massive grins plastered on their faces. Angeta is well aware of the many bets going on, the winning condition being what type of worshipful phrases will cause her to get annoyed the most. The villagers are super lucky that she’s so proficient at controlling her anger, else she would have gutted hundreds of the annoying shits by now.

“How many did we get tonight?”

“The war on them goes well, oh, one whose softness is a gift from heaven.”

She sees the speaker wilt when she doesn’t even flinch at the title. “Try harder.”

“Yes,” is his simple reply. “The fruits of our labours are in their usual place.” Here the man gestures downwards, at the place where the previous village used to build their nightly bonfire.

She can't help but look down, and it makes her break out in goosebumps. The large pile of them, of those horrid disgusting creatures known as cockroaches, still twitch. Slowly combing down her puffed up tail, Angeta glares at the previous village leader. “Burn them,” she commands with every single shred of authority she can muster up.

Angeta doesn’t mind the jungle. She actually quite likes the place. The one thing that she does not appreciate is the Dungeon abandoned amount of disgusting, scuttling, twitching, abhorrent cockroaches that haunt the underbrush. She doesn’t even feel satisfaction when one of the flame affinity cultivators tosses a ball of fire towards the still squirming pile of killed insects. No, she just feels like a wrong has been slightly righted. Eliminating such a terror shouldn’t evoke happiness, just a grim knowledge that the world is slightly better now.

“And scram, all of you!” Seeing that the villagers are still mulling around, Angeta shouts at them again, causing them to scatter. They return to their respective tasks, spreading through the sprawling three-dimensional village using the many hanging bridges and walkways.

Unable to calm down, even after seeing the awful pile of dead cockroaches burn, Angeta decides to go do some weaving. Also, the fact that Bord proudly announced he stepped into the foundation realm a while ago, leaving her the last of the original students stuck in the first realm, is causing havoc on her nerves. The soothing repetition of threading fibres into new forms always calms her down.

Strolling into the weaving building, a large combination of wooden walls and hanging tarps made from finely woven vines, she sits herself down at her work station. Reels of cloth, massive spools of the finest spun plant fibres, and all kinds of half-finished projects are all around. The entire economy of the town has undergone a massive shift. Previously, the main occupation of the grey-skinned human tribe was hunting, gathering, and a small bit of farming. Now, the main export is finely woven garments, while the hunters have shifted towards extermination more than hunting for meat.

As Angeta looks at the crystal hanging in the middle of the village, asking Database for the latest list of orders, she starts to calm down. Teach was the first one to put in an order, fully cementing that suspicion she had that the entire teleportation accident was a scam. The qi appearing everywhere was his own fuckup, so instead of saddling all his students with guiding this planet's population through the transition, he should have just taken responsibility himself.

The specifications for the shirts he has ordered forced her to invent a couple of new weaving techniques, though. Weaving threads that fine, and in such an interwoven and seamless pattern required her to develop a lot of fine control. Now, she suspects that half of the entire student population wears at least one item of clothing coming from this village, a fact she is secretly rather proud of.

Ragni is still trying to compete, but that bimbo has been forced time and time again to lower her prices. In no way, shape, or form are the simplistic garments that come from Ragni’s village comparable to the fine works of art that Angeta and her apprentices weave.

She has woven three pairs of leg-hugging pants, four loose shirts, a thick winter coat of custom design, and a couple of dozen panties by the time Angeta notices something is wrong. The soft conversations and noises that usually come from all the people weaving cloth and clothes are gone. Looking up, Angeta sees that every single man and woman is staring at her with wide open eyes. “What?”

Slowly, one brave soul points just behind her. Turning, Angeta comes face to face with her own slowly swishing tail. She usually wraps it around her waist or leg, but that’s way too hot in the humid jungle climate. Thus, she has been letting it do its own thing. And now she sees a large shining insect sitting on the very tip of the softly dancing appendage. A large cockroach, its wings still half extended, twitches its disgusting antennae at her.

The shriek and roar that follows causes a lot of people to sigh, handing over money to their friends they made bets with. Despite the rigorous hunting and extermination schedule, sometimes one of the harmless bugs slip through. The village was initially unsure how to view the strange phobia of their new leader, but they have long since adapted.

Not Angeta, though. She still doesn’t really know where this fear comes from, but those bugs just cause her a disproportionate amount of terror and fear. The green wave of qi exploding from her sinks into the large building. A veritable forest of small tendrils of wood, vines, and branches explode from every single plant-based surface, shredding the bug on Angeta’s tail into a million, million pieces. Pieces that then proceed to fall onto her tail, and sink into her fur.

The people working in the hut have long since curled up in tight balls, shielding themselves from the expected overreaction. Angeta does not handle this latest bug related event well. Instead of putting the hut back to its working condition and continuing to work, as usual, something snaps. The anger that had been slowly calmed bursts forth with a vengeance.

She wills the fine weave of sharp wooden stakes apart, jumping out of the closest window. Her loose shirt billows in the wind, before wings of fine gauze unfold and flap slowly, sending her flying out of the village. Spreading her qi in a green wave in front of her allows her to sense the closest hated insect, whom she divebombs and kills with extreme prejudice.

Wiping its slimy guts from her cloth wrapped feet, she speeds off, in search for more targets to vent her frustrations on.  Then she senses one of the larger bugs scuttling underground, and Angeta wonders why she didn’t think of checking for tunnels before. Wanting to slap herself for not even scanning underground with he qi, she pushes her mystical senses into the soil.

To her amazement, she finds a massive tunnel network a couple of dozen metres under the forest floor. To her even larger amazement, she finds enormous ants fighting with even larger cockroaches. Grinning as only a battle-crazed beastkin female can, she orders the tree’s roots to make way, creating a quick tunnel and jumps down. Smashing into the biggest cockroach, she wades through its guts as she takes control of the roots woven through the earth.

She doesn’t even look at the ants as she starts rampaging through the tightly packed cockroach bodies, her roots crushing, piercing, and tearing apart the large number of cockroaches. Leaving a trail of broken carapace and slimed innards behind, Angeta loses herself in the fury of slaughter.

Until a wave of qi not her own suddenly blocks her path. Her eyes blazing with green fire, her body covered in a finely woven suit of roots, she stumbles into a throne room. Instead of gold and riches, she sees earth and cockroaches. Instead of a wise king sitting atop a throne, wielding a noble sceptre, she sees Valerius chilling on top of the largest cockroach she has seen as of yet.

“Huh? What? Who’s there?”

Angeta is still lost in her rage and just continues killing every single of the disgusting insects she sees. The irrational terror she feels is completely swallowed up by the fury she is in. She doesn’t even notice when Valerius wakes up, takes one look at her, waves his hand, and buries her in solid earth.

It’s only a week later when mulling over the entire encounter while sipping on some fruit wine, that she understands what path to take. Valerius Is too busy admiring the new clothes he is wearing to pay attention to the beastkin as she goes through a short moment of enlightenment.

“Balance,” she blurts out.

“Hmm? Can you make the midsection a little bigger? I really need to stop eating so much. The food underground is terrible. Wait, balance?”

“Anger and fear are opposites.”

“What?” is Valerius’ eloquent reply.

“The beautiful jungle houses disgusting beasts,” Angeta mumbles in a daze, not even paying attention to the grey-skinned people refilling her cup with freshly fermented wine.

“Listen Angeta. I already said I’m sorry for choking you out, but being chased by the ant queen for months had me on edge, and you were looking rather crazed. Wrapping you in dirt until you fainted just seemed the best way to handle this-”

“Just like disgusting dead insects give food, to grow beautiful new plants. And then those plants die, giving more food to make more new plants. Because all the cockroaches will be dead by then! I simply need to balance it out. All the beauty in the world doesn’t compare to even a single cockroach, so to bring proper balance, they all need to die! Just like I, the most talented and powerful original student, need to balance my genius by being the last to step into the foundation realm! It’s all just balance!”

Completely deluding herself with extremely tenuous logic, Valerius watches on with open mouth as Angeta steps into the foundation realm.

“…but by this time you are just a brain, only capable of feeling pain. Nothing but the same pain that I'm feeling every day, having to take care of these shitty fucking brats, but then amplified a million trillion times. I will take good care of Lola while you suffer for eternity, though. So there is no need for you to worry about others, Teach. See you soon, and much love, Selis. And send!”

Selis hums to herself as she prepares lunches for the kids. They are all sleeping, thank the Dungeons, giving her a few precious moments of peace and quiet.

Then Database informs her that the last of the original students, Angeta, just entered the foundation realm, and Selis proceeds to wake every single person in the underground desert base by giggling maniacally at a thunderous volume.

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