Chapter 26 - Association
I rub my forehead. I have this massive knowledge database in my head made up of all the information I listened to during my day and night stalking session. The problem is I don't like working through the data. I have to mentally and manually sieve through massive loads of data in order to find any answers.
Let's say I want to find the total number of puppies in the city. What could go wrong with that? I know how my brain database works, so it’s probably right next to the number of dead puppies and the number of drowned kittens. I roughly know where all the information is stored, it's just that I have to look at all the surrounding data to find something specific.
But no more! I can simply ask my disciples! If I truly knew how much shit is going on in the city below me, the power given me by the massive amount of qi around me is just too tempting. Sodom and Gomorrah will be summer holidays when compared to the righteous smiting power an unlimited amount of qi gives me.
Live and let live, though. I will give all the puppy murdering people below a chance at something better. Though the revenge slaughter committed by the last semi-disciple I had has led me to look for other hobbies. The only hobby I have dabbled in that hasn’t caused unintended catastrophes so far is gardening.
I close my eyes and sink into the qi clone besides me. I leave only my scanning, danger sense and qi gathering process running. I use the rest of my mental capacity to intercept my senses, linking them to the near-solid body of qi. I feel quite blurry despite how much qi is packed inside of this form. Its bones and skin are represented and internal organs are vaguely outlined now. It will reach full immersion when every cell has been perfectly copied, so I will have to look at the world through a hazy white filter until then.
I take a few steps, getting used to the different levels of feedback. I then jump through Tree’s portal, appearing in the little clearing. I look around for a bit, appreciating the changes that have been happening. Deep grooves are carved in the topsoil and shredded leaves are still fluttering around. A big clump of roots is wriggling around, lashing out with thin secondary roots. That should be Angeta’s place, I will let her cool off a bit inside of her self-made prison. But it’s nice to know that she has started using her affinity in a useful manner.
The grass has grown in nicely, the bare patches of no longer showing. The forest surrounding the clearing went from a few large trees and a lot of saplings to a few large trees and a lot of slightly smaller trees. The amount of damage done to the environment is rather substantial though.
Looking further, I see the rest of my new students. The fat kid is just sleeping. Selis is still stuck at her desk, peering at the paper on her desk from five centimetres away. The redhead… Vox is looking around with sleepy eyes. Ket and Tess are gone but I sense them running around inside the forest.
I walk over to Selis and place my hand on her short blue fuzz. Huh, it tickles. I force some qi through her eyes, barging through her underdeveloped qi defences, and check the focal points of her lenses. She is as farsighted as they get, any light coming into her eyes focuses on a point far behind her retina’s, almost inside of her brain. Blind as a bat, this one.
I tap a finger on my cheek as I think. Do I still have that glasses fetish and do I want to unleash this look upon this world? I didn’t see anyone wearing glasses so far. Why not?
There are no libraries here, so if I want some innocent looking eye-candy I will have to make it myself. I pull some pieces of glass and some metal wire out of my ring. The next five minutes are spent wringing said materials into a wearable shape.
“Here, this should help.”
She takes the glasses from my hands, looking around confused. Blind as a bat, yeah. I put the glasses on her face and she starts screaming like a madman.
“Just a qi clone, don't get your knickers in a twist about some missing facial features, tsk.”
Confusion flashes across her face as she quiets down but I move on. I help her and as thanks, she screams next to my ears…
Lamenting this ungrateful world, I look at the sleeping fatty. He is physically exhausted, not a single shred of energy left in his muscles. He must have burned thousands of calories to get to this state but he looks as jolly and big boned as ever. He is unconscious though, and won't be answering any questions today. Not a single mark is made on his paper, I will need to work on his work ethic later.
Muffled screams come from the bundle of roots, let's skip that ball of fuzzy fury for now.
Sleep addled eyes swerve their way over to me
“What's the dungeon city called?”
Why did I even pick these guys up? A permanently PMS-ing furball, a spoiled little fat shit, a uselessly flamboyant red-headed lizard fellow, a blue-haired airhead, a walking pile of anxiety and depression and a suicidal dungeon diver. I want to cry for a bit but I haven't made this clone’s tear ducts yet, so I can't…
A certain king of a certain country is getting worried. Looking over the reports scattered over his desk he rubs his forehead and softly curses.
“Goddamn sky starts having a party, then the mages come running while shitting their pants. God fucking damn mana fluctuations can all go screw themselves. What the fuck are you guys talking about, permanent changes in the flow of mana? Can I eat that? Can my family or subjects eat that? Those goddamn cunt munching eastern hairy shits won’t be sitting still while we figure this clusterfuck out.”
More words flow from his mouth, every third one a colourful curse.
“Then this hanging pile of shit monkeys start screaming about the balance, balance this, balance that, balance my foot up their asses, I’d say.”
Pure prose comes flowing out of the king's mouth again, even the basest farmers and sailors would not recognise some of those curses.
“Sure, send half the cunt fucked army to the fucking area where the weird fucking shit is happening, all while those shit stained mage supported pirates come looking to do some light raiding ON MY FUCKING DOORSTEP! And that’s just the external threats, when will I finally be able to wring those scheming, dumbfuck nobles’ necks?”
His mutterings slowly rising in volume and bouncing off the walls of his office shake the king out of his daze. He drags a hand across his lined, bearded face. “Purest fucking black, this beard was. Now it’s whiter than that pus infested hairy p… it's pretty white, despite not even ten ass munching years having passed.”
Before this poor sap of a king can lament his fate further he suddenly stiffens. A sharp feeling is in the air as if a single movement will rip him to shreds. A shiver runs up the king's spine while beads of perspiration instantly covers his forehead. He drops his head in his hands and mutters some more. “And of course this poop lizard comes knocking.”
A small thump shuts him up and he sits up instantly, his face settling into a grim mask as he speaks. “Welcome.”
The single word echoes across the lavishly decorated study, bouncing off the ornamental paintings of his forefathers.
“Hssssyessh, hmmh, interessting thingss are happening, noo?”
The voice seems to cut through the air, arriving immediately inside of the kings head. He visibly suppresses another shudder as he looks up to the figure towering over him.
“The First Defender greets the Flight.”
“No time for thessse pleassantries, what information do you possesss?”
The king is silent for a long while. The two beings study each other, one stately and filled with authority despite his slightly slouching posture, the other lithe and long, curves made from sinew.
The seated man breaks eye contact first and slowly reaches down. Pulling a piece of paper from his desk he hands it over. The taller figure glances over the contents, its face a blank mask.
“Thiss will do for now.”
Another soft thump allows the king to slump down, settling deeper into his soft chair.
“God frigging damn scalers giving me the creeps.”
Some more curses are mumbled while the king shakily starts to collect the papers on his desk.
I can't help but smile as my poor disciples' reel back from the gesture. My qi clone is well and truly in the uncanny valley now, too realistic to not be human, not realistic enough to be wholly convincing. I gathered everyone and we are now sitting in a little circle just in front of the Tree.
“I’m using a qi clone at the moment, I have some stuff to do up top. Anyways, let's not bother with those types of small details.”
I smile wider, it should get them nicely unsettled. People are less likely to accept things outside of their scope when they are comfortable, so it stands to reason that creeping them out will make them remember my teachings!
“So… What have we learned today?”
I look at Ket first. He had those math exercises done in under half a minute, not that impressive for a braincore cultivator, to be honest.
“I can...” He stops speaking and thinks for a moment. “Think more?”
He is not one for small talk, only saying what is necessary at the moment.
“That’s not wrong. Tess?”
“Uuuhm, the numbers stopped dancing when I put some qi inside my head. It was pretty easy to solve them afterwards but the shadows started becoming annoying and I got a headache, so I stopped. How big is this forest?”
I beautifully ignore her question and focus on Vox. He looks me in the eyes, blinks for a bit and then decides to yawn loudly.
“Just smelling the food was enough for me, hun.”
I stop my eye from twitching. I will need to find some proper motivation for him later. I look at Selis, now wearing her glasses with wide eyes, looking everywhere.
She continues to look around everywhere but at me, lost in her own little world.
It is hard to keep this language flowing when you scream, my ragged voice not a good instrument to denote tone change. I think I'm getting better at it, though. I have plenty of practice these days.
She looks at me like a startled rabbit. I scratch my own rabbit under the chin while asking my question again.
“Did you learn anything today?”
“Thank you so much for this nose thing, I can see everything now! I had to hug someone before I could recognise them, I never knew trees had so many leaves! This is just beautiful, why are we here by the way? Is that a rabbit? Throw it away, they bite! Why is this fat guy sleeping? Ow, hey Vox, you got out of prison too? I’m sure that the...”
Despair clouds my heart. Did nobody notice that she was practically blind before? Was this the reason for her airheaded attitude? I feel like beating someone up. I angrily make a fist and feel… nothing. I expected to feel my muscles surge with infused qi, but I barely have a proper skin and skeleton while controlling this clone.
I wave away the green flows of mana that appeared with my pissed off mood. Calming myself down removes the flows from my vision. I got angry inside of a clone that doesn't have the proper chemical processes for getting angry yet. These shitheads really get under my skin.
Angeta is still trapped inside her own creation and Bord is fast asleep. I stare at them for a moment but decide to let them be.
“What city are we in?” I ask my first question.
The four look at each other.
Tess is the first to open her mouth. “The Tower?”
I keep my mouth shut and look at her expectantly. She shivers a bit, my face must not be completed yet.
“It’s called Neutalinn, but everyone calls it Tower City.”
I search my local language database for the word Neutalinn. I find it in the curses and swearing category. It was said three times while I was creeping on everyone, the small sample size the cause for the miscategorisation. The fact that the pronunciation sounds like a medieval dubstep song isn't helping either.
“What is the name of the country, kingdom and continent?”
“We are in the Shi-eit kingdom. The Capital is to the north. Everyone calls it the Capital.”
I stifle my laughter as I hear the name. Having English as your base language makes a lot of foreign names sound ridiculous. I have my local language process auto translate as much as possible but I still think in English. I continue asking questions for the next hour or so.
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