I slam my sword down on the wooden surface, creating a loud boom. Officially, I should be using a hammer for this, but I don’t really want to shatter the table. I could use the small hammer on my belt, but as I said, I like this table. The rowdy crowd immediately quietens down in response to my attention-grabbing move, but I don’t think it’s for the correct reason. The noise was loud, but the orange and blue display of light and cute symbols is probably the true attention grabber here.
“Stop staring at my sword!” I shout, unwilling to look anyone in the eye. The beautiful and ethereal display of cute and cuddly particle effects fade. Maybe I can start using it to provide special effects for birthdays? Maybe for little girls? Maybe if my current plans of world and space domination don’t work out, I can consider a career as a party entertainer using this stupid sword. I snap myself out of my sullen musings and focus on the large collection of faces staring at me with varying amounts of pity, disgust, and wonder.
“I suppose you’re wondering why I’ve gathered you here today.” The fact that Rhea smirks at that comment prevents my heart from breaking. Noone else even reacts at that line. “And that is simple. Things are changing, and instead of once again turning the entire paradigm on its head without informing you all, as I did before, I thought that you all might like some input.”
“This is this Teacher figure? Can’t say I care for the cut of his jib. Also, hand over that hammer at once!”
I try to stare the dwarf that just spoke up down. His eyes are unflinching, so I start circulating some qi through my peepers while thinking of all the ways I can kill the little wrinkled shit. The fact that he fails even to move a single muscle makes me instantly and begrudgingly admire him. “Whose pet project is that geezer, Ket or Tess?”
The two kids both point at each other, unable to hide the sweat beading on their foreheads. It seems like my little threat was effective after all. “Alright, then. Come get it yourself.” I pull the heavy hammer from my belt and place it on the table. The large round piece of furniture creaks ominously but manages to hold out under the couple hundred kilos heavy tool.
“As I was saying. This meeting will proceed as follows.” There are several people that instantly want to start talking, but I manage to stare them all down before they can produce a sound. “I want to accomplish three things in the near future. I will accomplish these things, one way or the other, but I would really appreciate it if you all could think along.”
I sit back down, resting my tired body into the comfortable seat. I went with a tried and true method for this meeting and made a massive round table with normal seats. The fact that I’m not at the head, and that I’m not sitting on an elevation is compensated by the fact that I’m lounging in the nicest chair here. Rhea is sitting next to me, somehow managing to look alert and present while chilling in a wood and cloth beach chair.
The people sitting in plain compressed stone chairs are most of the important people. I simply asked Database to invite all the most powerful, influential, and critical people to this meeting. As a result, there are a couple of dozen cultivators all sitting at the table. My original students are there, suspicion in their eyes. A couple of the latecomers are here too, such as Danarius, Ares, Rodrick, Bassik, and Rityn. There are a couple of dragons present, Keeneff and Ka-Gaar included. I told everyone to bring whoever they wanted, which is why there is a dwarf walking up to me, his eyes locked on the hammer that nearly killed Tree, drool dripping from his mouth.
I try to hop to the side, but my chair is too cushioned and too heavy to move it without raising a ruckus. The old guy didn’t even look at the majestic sight of Tree, like all the newbies. Nor did he stumble when sensing the dense qi in the air. I decide to ignore the fellow until he gets here - his legs are pretty short, and the table is pretty big - and resume the general meeting.
“Three things. First, I feel greatly responsible for the coming qi contamination of the sun. I wish to, if not prevent it, at least contain the effects. The massive ball of plasma will start spewing ungodly amounts of qi within years, according to my worst-case calculations. Knowing my luck with such matters, I’m expecting to have to start battling animated asteroid golems within a few months.
“In order to keep an eye on the undoubtedly-coming nonsense, I want to launch a surveillance satellite network. I’ll place them in large orbits that will allow me, through Tree, to keep tabs on the entire solar system. And possibly exert some kind of control on the stuff that is going to go wrong. This will allow me to exercise a small bit of influence over a massive distance.
“In order to get some more hands-on control over the sun, I’m looking to create some kind of Dyson net. I’m thinking of making either a weave from qi conductive wire or thin sheets of flexible material that can be deployed from rolls. I’m not planning on blocking much of the natural radiation spectrum. I only want to strip the qi from all the plasma and solar winds coming from the sun.
“And I want to get my own satellite in orbit around this planet.” I take a deep breath, taking in the stunned, uncomprehending, and doubting faces I see all around. “For defence and surveillance. Big Brother, go eat a dick, basically. I want eyes on every single part of this planet, and the power to do something with that power.
“And the true point number one is the following. I’m unable even to start any of this because there is a moon in the sky of this planet that’s controlling a shitload of satellites shooting super dense bullets. Also, they control the dungeons, but I’m getting reputable reports that its communication lines with the surface are waning.”
Bassik raises his hand, so I nod to the thin man. “This is correct. Every single eyecore cultivator is reporting this. The bright lines of data and entropic contrast are slowly breaking up when they hit the atmosphere. We suspect a total dispersal of the satellite-to-earth lines within the week. The moon still manages to reach the surface with ease, but it’s only able to focus a single beam. We theorise this is because of increasing qi levels in the atmosphere.” His wife pats him on the shoulder as he sits down again. Why does that picture look to annoyingly familiar?
I nod at the concise report, letting the information sink in.
“Tooth, what the Flight?” someone whispers from the side.
“Just sit there, Fifteen. Narrow your eyes now and then, clap when they clap, nod when they nod, and ignore them.”
“I will do so, Tooth Bord.”
I glare at the fat kid and beastkin duo before resuming my introduction to the meeting. “Then, secondly, I want to address a more existential, but less immediately pressing, issue.” I once again pause, but this time it’s because I’m looking for the best way to bring up this point. After mulling over a few options, I decided to blurt it out. Who the fuck made this planet? “
I point at the place where Ka-Gaar and Keeneff are sitting. “Dragons are just badly built. No natural race is dependant upon an external energy source to do something moronic as transforming. Your DNA is a mess, with so much useless junk and glaring errors, it’s really a miracle any member of the Flight is still alive.”
I shift the wroth of my pointing finger to my original students. “How the fuck have you guys got affinities? Actual physically observable and provable affinities? Shadow affinity that allows you actually to teleport before the foundation realm? Totally impossible. The ability to control and influence the water at a hundredth of the actual cost? Total bullshit. Controlling metal like it’s nothing? More breaking of physical laws! And I don’t even want to get started on the ridiculous concept of local gravity field manipulation! Bord should be nothing but bones right now, with how much energy it takes to warp local time, space, and thus gravity.”
“And two affinities,” I start shouting, now nearly hysterical. “Two fucking affinities? Fire and shadow? Those are deeply incompatible, and black flames are not a thing, and they should not glow black like that, and it’s just nonsense!”
“There there, calm down,” Rhea says soothingly.
I weakly slap at her hand. “No! I can understand that some old pervert of a Guardian dragon fucked a mortal at some point, but that should NOT have caused offspring! Nor should that offspring magically have some otherworldly force that allows them to do impossible things!
“And then there is the planet itself. The grass stays at twenty-centimetre length, no need to mow it, no need for grazing herds. Very neat and fake. The animals are mutating collections of snowflake monsters, not a single one alike. And even though we really all should be nothing but cancer growths right about now, the beast mutations are not caused by solar radiation.”
Without my knowing, my speaking volume has been rising slowly. The moment I realise this, I realise I don’t care, and keep on shouting. “Because this planet has a magnetic field! The northern and southern lights are proof of that, along with the fact that we are not constantly bombarded by high energy particles. The amount of ionising radiation is way too low, and I should know. I went to space. Just the atmosphere is not a sufficient blanket to stop all those cancer rays from hitting us!
“That is by itself not that important, but I happen to know for a fact that this planet is cold! There is no molten core. No lava tubes, and no flowing liquid metal core. Just a massive hunk of dead, cold stone. Where does this protective field come from?
“And the Mage Isles? Totally fake. Completely fake islands. They look like a naturally formed rock, with the proper strata and geologic locations, but just the pattern they form is proof enough that there is something really suspicious going on.
“And finally! This fucking hammer. Both poles of this planet are covered in massive amounts of super-dense items that have no business being on such a low-magic world as this.” Spittle flies through the air as I vent my final grievance. The moment I stop talking is the moment I notice that it’s extremely silent. Not a single person even dares to speak. Even the animals are silent, and not a single leaf rustles.
“All in all, I’m getting the feeling some newly ascended person tried their hand at work creation, got tired of it quickly and left a mess. Or maybe this is the homework project from some rich kid in the empyrean realm, or whatever is there above the immortal layer. I don’t know. The cultivation world was a terrible place, but at least that world made sense. Add a billion years of qi to a mundane planet, and voila.” I glance at the prime examples of furries that are present. “This just feels like a super weird fetish project or baby’s first planet creation with all the DLC pre-bought. Anyway, that’s about it. That’s all I have to say for now.”
I step down from the table, pat myself, and sit. Silence reigns supreme once again. Rhea pats my shoulder, that crooked smirk on her face once more. That reminds me of something, though. “Speaking of which, point three is that I don’t know how to advance from here. Sure, we can all cultivate till the sun goes out, and the lack of ambient qi clogging our shit allows us to cultivate at ridiculous speeds, but that’s not the end game. I think we are in a rather dark part of the multiverse, and I haven’t noticed even a trace of the Heavenly Laws that should be governing immortal ascension.”
Nodding to myself, assured that I’ve said everything I wanted to say, I pull one of the better bottles of toxic wine from my ring and relax back. Rhea snatches the first glass I fill, so I sigh and pour another one. I get some begging glances, but I just point to the single drop Rhea spilt. The patch of quickly dying and dissolving grass is enough for the begging to stop.
“Hammer,” is the word that breaks the silence. I look up and stare at the ass of a small person. Looking up, I see the old dwarf standing in front of me. He turns to the side, eyes up Rhea, and turns to the other side.
“Please?” he asks of Bord, who is somehow sitting next to me. Was he right there this entire time?
Bord stands up, his poor chair creaking ominously, and lifts the small tool from the table. The fat kid seems briefly surprised at the heft of the hammer but hands it over quickly.
That’s when I notice that the dwarf is only at the qi condensation level and that the two hundred kilogramme hammer will probably kill him if it falls on top of his old frame. I reach out my hand to stop him, but the dwarves stubby hand touches the hammer before I can reach him.
A sudden surge of qi explodes from both dwarf and tool, and then Tess is there, trying to reach the small guy, and then Ket joins in, trying to reach Tess.
Not a single process of mine detects danger, so I just lean back a little to prevent my drink from spilling. Database also chimes in that although the little play is interesting, nothing dangerous is happening.
The dwarf takes the hammer from Bord, who is splendidly ignoring the sudden whirlwind of qi and walks back to his seat.
“Elbogar!” shouts Tess.
“Tess!” shouts Ket.
I make a silent note that the dwarf is called Elbogar and refill my glass. The geriatric midget walks off to the side, sits down while laying the hammer gently on his lap, and closes his eyes. Tess and Ket both approach, but are unable to get near. How is a qi condensing old dude preventing two foundation level cultivators from approaching him? I blink a few times, trying to sense what’s going on and focus my senses. This is happening inside my own core, after all.
“The fucker is stealing from me!” is my conclusion.
“What?” asks Rhea.
“The little fuck is stealing my cultivation! He is sucking up the qi in the air, the ground, and directly from Tree!” I blink a few more times while trying to see what’s actually going on. The qi whirlwind intensifies, and a large chunk of the loose power in Tree is now rushing towards the dude. Just like how it was when I tried to make the hammer mine, he’s sucking up a massive amount of power.
Then I sense the qi inside the hammer and notice that there is a gap in my senses. The dwarf has a hammer on his belt already, and the way not a single smidgen of my qi even wants to touch it tells me that something is off. Then the dwarf’s hammer is suddenly mine, and the super-dense hammer blinks out of my perception. “No way. I know that everyone here is insanely quick at cultivation, but isn’t just a couple minutes to enter the foundation realm a little too quick?”
“What?” snaps Rhea.
“As far as I can tell, he just made that hammer his core? And now he’s a foundation-realm cultivator?” I half-ask, half-answer.
Tess did tell me that the mayor of her village is the best traditional smith she has ever come across. And that super dense hammer did only calm down after I started using it in the traditional sense. On the one hand, I resent the guy for stealing my thunder. On the other hand, I have eight more tools in my ring...
I take them out, carefully laying them out on the groaning table one by one. For some reason, I feel like I should take the sickle next. After primitive tools comes agriculture, right? And clothing is after that. And when that’s established, the fighting can start, using the spear, bow, and shield. And once a lot of people are dead, the finer tools like the brush, jar, and ruler are needed to rewrite history and keep the empire going.
“No! STOP HIM!” a certain stupid dragoness next to me shouts.
I’m buried by students before my fingers can even touch the sickle's handle.Previous Chapter Next Chapter