Tess is super determined. Every student had lost their confidence when Teach stepped through the broken section of space, and with good reason. Bord had flinched back the moment Teach vanished, which had honestly scared the shit out of Tess.
Anything that’s dangerous enough to give Bord a fright will just crush her like a bug. Say what you will about the rotonde cultivator, he is super tough. Also, he has these amazing instincts and some kind of super-powered, stupidity-fueled danger sense.
So the group retreated, tactfully. Tess still remembers the way the sunlight coming from the bright star had indirectly lit up the inside of the moon. Nexus, as Teach called it, is still a broken shell, slowly coming apart even now. The shattered eggshell of stone seems to be in the process of scattering over a long line. A few of the braincore science troupe told her that the Magic World will gain a rather impressive halo of white stone in a couple of decennia.
Tess could only look at the slowly shifting inside for so long, though. And the small bubble of air they all were breathing moved away along with Bord’s retreating bulk, so the rest of the group followed. They returned home with their tail between their legs. Everyone already knew, of course, and instead of some kind of welcome, they were met with silence.
Every single cultivator with access to Tree - everyone in the Foundation Realm or higher - had been staring at the image of Teach. By the time Tess, Bord, Rodrick, and Angeta made it back to Tree; Teach had been slowly faceplanting a large rock. The sight was honestly quite glorious. The ripple of force from Teach hitting the rough ground face-first took hours to move across his head. A few of the water-inclined cultivators actually made some nice advances in their understanding of waves and fluid mechanics; she found out later.
The rest of Teach’s adventures also played out in slow motion. After the initial wonder about the fact that they could see Teach in slow-motion, in the Cultivation world, had faded, people got talking. A conclusion was reached on the time dilation topic. It seems that high levels of qi have a much higher impact on the mundane world it’s occupying than was first assumed. This layer of extra energetic reality takes a toll by making everything take longer. It’s just that with literally everything going slower, nobody inside that plane or dimension notices.
The long period of Teach stealthily trying to remain hidden had taken days. The entire school just ground to a halt to see their Teacher be beaten down. Many people vomited when Teach lost his finger, his broken arm already having scared off a few. A few people noticed that the video seemed to be speeding up, and some empirical experiments and measurements confirmed that this was indeed the case. More talk was had, and the general consensus that nobody knew why this was happening was reached. Some people proposed that the link between Tree and Teach was pulling the local timeframes into alignment. Others just put it down to the slowly increasing qi levels in Tree.
The scenes of combat that followed were impressive, but the images were speeding up so much now that the entire battle was over in just a few hours. More people had small breakthroughs in their understanding as they watched Teach toss explosives around like candy. The blackness that followed the fall into the forest had a lot of people worried. The closest and most trusting of the students hadn’t batted an eye, secure in their knowledge that Teach isn’t that easy to kill. The rest had all channeled their anxiety into productivity. The progress of Tree - halted by the larger than life slow motion show constantly on display - skyrocketed.
The interest in his adventures had largely been tempered when the view came back. The conversation with the fluffy snake was in an unknown language, not a single person understanding a single word. The braincores got together and sadly concluded that the sample size of the recorded conversation wasn’t big enough to make anything but guesses.
Tess had asked around, and the general theory on why Teach was having trouble with everything was qi pressure. Teach himself had alluded to this many times, she realized in hindsight, and thus she started planning. First, she had talked to a few of the construction specialized Foundation Realm cultivators. After asking them if what she wanted was possible, they had all looked at her like she had just insulted their mothers for a few seconds, before huddling into a tight group and starting to discuss furiously.
Tess is currently sitting in the fruits of the labors that came out of that discussion. Similar to a small little animal slowly growing in a shell, Tess has been sitting inside a large black oval for a couple of weeks now. She has her connection to Database, and there is a small transparent window that shows her Tree and all the people around it. She thought that she would be getting pretty bored, just sitting in a small room while qi pressures around her continuously rise. But truth be told, she has been having a rather relaxed time of it.
If she wants entertainment, she just has to look at what Teach is doing. His trek through the forest, using Lola as a danger proximity sensor, is entertaining on many levels. She did start to find the endless wilderness kind of boring after weeks of staring at mountains and trees, however. The view of Teach overlooking the massive basin did put some things into perspective. He had told them little about the Cultivation World, but one thing he did let slip now and then was information about the massive scale of the place. Seeing the basin filled with jungle, this one geographic feature larger than the Shi-Eit Kingdom and the Beastkin lands combined gave her a lot of food for thought.
Knowing that Ket is out there somewhere is not a happy thought and one she tries to avoid thinking about a lot of the time. The one connection she has with the black-haired boy is actually the very atmosphere she is sitting inside at this moment. Seeing how Teach had struggled with the supermassive quantities of qi in the Cultivation World, she knows what she must do in preparation.
The large black egg is meant for one thing, after all. The only purpos it has, and the goal it has been designed for is to pressure cook her in massive levels of qi. The majority of the qi she is currently sitting inside is actually imported from the Cultivation World. From the moment Teach had stepped through that hole in reality, Tree had started emitting toxic power. Compared to the hyperactive and eager feeling of qi that is present in Tree, this stream of decrepit power feels poisonous, ancient, stubborn, and stagnant.
It had started saturating Tree, actually making the atmosphere of the entire place dark, moody, and generally unpleasant. Then Teach must have changed some things, as the power had started swirling around Tree instead of infecting the entirety of Tree’s lands with its depressing age. That is the conclusion that was reached when the imported power was researched. Just the sheer age of the qi impressed such weight upon the power that it’s extremely hard to work with. The number of different intents and flavors of energy present within even the smallest whisp was off the scale, and all kinds of new measuring methods had to be invented to make useful observations about the type of intent.
So Tess had ordered her pressure cooking egg built right next to Tree and had asked the big golden perennial to stuff it full of power. This is where she sits all day, increasing her cultivation at a never before seen rate, exerting massive amounts of effort to make the thick power entering the small capsule her own.
And Angeta is being a bitch about the entire thing. “Sod off, you stupid furball. I ain’t opening nothing for your stupid ass. All the power will escape, and I’ll have to start the entire thing over again.”
“Why are you being so extremely selfish? Isn’t this entire school thing about helping each other?” replies the beastkin woman, her nails ineffectively trying to scratch the black spheroid.
“Stop that! I have to keep wasting power because you keep trying to break it! Opening it would let all this qi escape. Go and have them make your own,” replies Tess while glaring daggers at the whining woman.
“They raised the prices! Everyone is trying to have them build qi pressure cookers now. Ordering one now will take weeks, and by then Teach will have brought someone else with him to the Cultivation World. Just open it real quick, kay? I’m worried about Ragni.”
“Like Flight poop you’re worried about Ragni. You just want to get your grubby paws on all those plants Teach was trecking through.” Tess gives the droopy-eared beastkin one last look, not fooled by the act Angeta is putting on for one second.
Angeta tsks while dropping the act. “You just can’t wait to get back to your boyfriend.”
“Indeed,” Tess replies through the blush creeping up her cheeks.
“I’m looking to further my cultivation. That’s a much better goal than wanting to get laid.”
“Sure,” answers Tess, whose face is now furiously red. Her stern and determined expression hasn’t faltered a single time, however.
“This is very interesting. It seems that all kinds of things have been happening while I was busy,” chimes in a very familiar voice.
“Stay out of this!” yells Tess.
“Get lost, Teach!” snarls Angeta.
Tess and Angeta keep staring at each other for a few long seconds. Then Tess slowly shifts her gaze from the beastkin to the man standing next to Angeta. Even through the thick glass of the small window, Tess can see the smirk on Teach’s smooth-shaven face. “Wait a Flight abandoned second. Teach?”
“Do you mind if I move that thing you’re sitting in for a second? You’re sitting in the place with the biggest link to the outside world, and I would like to make use of it for a bit,” the man asks while ignoring the ripple of silence falling over the bustling clearing.
The fields around Tree has been growing ever busier as of late. The way that the entire system has been working has multiplied the number of people reaching the Foundation Realm by several folds, and Tree has become the impromptu gathering place for the most powerful of students.
“What? No, go ahe-” Tess’ reply is cut off as she lets out a shrill shriek. The entire pod she’s in is quickly lifted, tossing the black-haired shadow cultivator onto her butt. Feeling the spacious capsule touch down softly, she stares with an open mouth as Teach steps into the depression that her qi pressure cooker has made. People from all around just stop what they are doing as they watch Teach walk around the slight bowl-shaped indent for a bit.
“Right, this should do. It’s pretty useful that the time dilation has disappeared, somehow. Is this also happening with the Magical World? This is kind of interesting. Anyway, I should hurry. Lola, stop biting my real body. And here we go! Medical people, please come closer and stand by.”
Hundreds of students watch on as a severely wounded man suddenly appears in front of Teach. The first thing that happens is that waves upon waves of qi explode from the fellow. Like a tide of hateful, burning, freezing, indifferent, and lethal pressure, everyone in the clearing is knocked off their feet by the wave of qi exploding from the still form. Teach’s form shimmers and distorts, indicating that the qi clone usually residing inside Database - Tree’s current planetary core - is having trouble keeping its shape intact.
“Medical peeps? This dude is seriously about to die. He has like ten seconds left before his heart stops, so get to it!”
Tess watches with an open mouth as similar qi densities as she is currently sitting inside keep blasting off of the unconscious person. Teach lays a hand on the fellow’s chest, and the storm subsides somewhat. Danarius and Ares stumble as they hurry forwards, their hands filling with items as they pull medical equipment from their spatial rings. Ares pauses to vomit, the sickening front of power too much for her, but she is up and coming closer a few seconds later. They manage to kneel next to the man a small eternity later, and Danarius’ face snaps into a mask of tense concentration the moment he touches the form.
“Sorry about that Tree. That was a bit worse than I predicted.” Teach frown as he looks up at the golden giant. Tree’s branches keep swaying furiously; it’s golden glow much diminished after being buffered by the masses of ancient qi wafting from the form Teach pulled out of nowhere. “Sorry about this, everyone. I will have to repeat this process with the boy now.”
Teach then holds out a hand, and a hysterical boy appears next to the silent form. “Shush now. It’s fine. Your dad will be fine. Now, tell me what you’re feeling. Hey, kid? Yeah, it’s me, mister mysterious cultivator man who can kill you with a look. Concentrate now and tell me what you’re feeling. Ignore that Tree now. He’s a big softy. Ignore the waves of power rolling from you now. Wait, no. Don’t ignore those. How do those feel.”
Tess sighs deeply. Shaking her head, she decides that she might as well help. Sinking into the shadows is surprisingly tough, the darkness around her now feeling like molasses instead of water. She manages to slip into the darkness anyway, and only has to spend half the qi in their core to appear next to Teach. “Hey, Teach. Stop bullying the kid. Come here, it’s fine.”
Tess pulls the hysterical boy against herself, patting him on the back as sobs rack his thin frame. “See, it’s all fine. Your dad will be fine, right, Danarius?”
“Oh, yes. Quite so. He’s just covered in scars, and the amount of ambient qi inside his system is just insane. He’ll live, though. It’s going to be interesting to work on this case, right Ares?”
“Wow, did you see his liver? That’s impossible. Every cell in his body is just seeping with ambient power. There’s no way that can be healthy. He’ll be fine, but it’ll take a while.” Ares seems oddly in her element, the usually shy girl now focused and professional.
Tess then feels something wet against her leg. Holding the rather smelly boy at arm’s length, she sees that his eyes are rolled into the back of his head, and his dirty pants are slowly growing dirtier. Tess then throws up right on the top of his head, the combination of the disgusting qi wafting from him in waves, the smell, and the piss literally turning her stomach.
“Right. I am going now. Bye-bye. Put those two in the starting zone, and tell me how they do.”
Teach’s form then dissolves in white qi, which sinks into the ground. Tess just drops the boy next to his father, looks around, touches his vomit-covered front with a bewildered look, and starts cursing up a storm.Previous Chapter Next Chapter