Chapter 27 - Topics
I mentally recap what I learned about this planet from my students. The dungeon city has a name, Neutalinn, but is commonly referred to as Tower City by everyone. That’s pretty self-explanatory. I am currently in the Shi-eit kingdom. Best name ever. The first part is pronounced like 'shie' from shield, followed by 'eit', which sounds like the last part of bite. The Capital, it has a name but nobody bothers with it, is to the north, right where the nobles table map said it is. The king is called the First Defender and loses his or her own name upon taking the crown. It sounds pretentious as fuck, but the name flows nicely in the local language. It sounds like a catchy commercial jingle.
The Capital is a coastal city, with beaches running from east to west. Further north are the pirate islands, slave islands and mage states. This world’s mages have made their headquarters on these islands, and any ship that is flying a mage flag receives safe passage. Any ship with a mage flag without an officially sanctioned mage on board will become a floating pile of driftwood and corpses very quickly. I’m guessing the pirates are working for the mages, their unofficial, official naval force. Sailing without a mage flag makes you free game. It’s a pretty good system of controlled trade extortion, I'm slightly impressed.
The beastkin have their countries to the east. They are heavily divided based on their origin animals, creating multiple tribal kingdoms with their own rules and law. There is a single beastkin capital where all the races are represented and their leader - the Tooth - resides. The moment a beastkin is born, they are placed in a caste or class that is set for life. You will never see a goat beastkin ruling over other beastkin, only predators have that right. The only exception are mana sensitive beast people. And why is the image of a horned goat farmer tending crops so funny to me?
A lot of raiding, slaving and fighting happens on the beastkin-human border, from both the Shi-eit kingdom and the beast people. Centuries of aggression building itself up in a vicious cycle of violence. I will have to teach each of my disciples some sort of body changing or disguising techniques if we ever want to traverse those lands. Then again, the majority of my sources of information are human and Angeta told me that anti-human sentiments are pretty rare deep inside beastkin territories.
Pretty much all food comes from the dungeon thus explaining the lack of any farms. There are other dungeons scattered around the lands. If a dungeon isn't farmed regularly, the beasts inside will spill out and make a danger zone, according to the legends. Any new dungeons found are claimed by the Kingdom and if the contents of said dungeon are profitable, a city will spring up around it very quickly. There have been no publicly known cases of people finishing a dungeon. Their origin and how they work remains a mystery to the populace.
I’ve also learnt that the massive walls around the Tower are there to defend against autumn. Why autumn? “So, all the beasts roam around as the summer ends?”
Tess answers me swiftly. “Yes, mana mutants lead large packs of lesser beasts during he all-rain. They come from the wilderness, probably looking for new territory.”
“All-rain? Does it rain everywhere in autumn?”
She looks at me weirdly again. I’ve been here for just about a week, please be a little more understanding.
“It rains everywhere in autumn.”
I focus my attention on my real body on top of the tower. I compare the sun’s position and size to my memories from the past few days. The sun does appear to be growing smaller over time. This planet must be on an elliptical orbit.
Earth had seasons due to its axial tilt. The unchanging arc of this sun implies that this planet is rotating on a straight axis. The seasons must thus come from the difference in proximity to the sun. I want to slap myself for not noticing the sun getting bigger and smaller, my excuse is that… I have no excuse. I love anything space related, damn it.
Worldwide seasons seem pretty neat though, I wonder if this planet knows about skiing and snowboarding yet? I focus back on my clone and continue asking questions.
“And it's cold and snows everywhere after that?”
“Yes, winter is followed by spring when new life blooms, followed by the current calm season, summer,” Tess replies, her answer containing the hint of something like a nursery rhyme.
I add the unknown words to my library, picking up their meaning from context.
“You guys know anything about the rest of the world? Are there other continents beyond the sea?”
My word for continent literally means big swath of land. Sometimes one has to improvise.
“What, why? Why would you ask that?”
Tess is looking at me like I murdered her parents.
“That's lethal knowledge, you know.”
Information that kills. This is getting interesting.
“Are you automatically killed when you learn such information?”
“No, the world ends there, the gods of old and the Flight have forbidden us from going beyond the islands. It’s a death penalty to even talk about it.”
That is very interesting information. I had already planned on producing scanning drones to map this planet. I immediately increase the priority of that task by a large amount. It’s also one of the first mentions of gods I have heard. I derived the meaning of the word from making a language context diagram, and deity or god was the most likely result. And they are old. Are they just old or gone?
“Okay, that is enough questioning for now. BORD, WAKE UP!”
I make a chopping motion with my hand, sending out a sharp strand of qi. The tangle of roots around Angeta falls apart and shows me an unconscious and sweaty heap of fur. I hope she learns a lesson about proper ventilation from this episode. Bord has wiggled himself upright and is intensely staring at the few scraps of food left on the plate. I just sigh again and put it back into my spatial ring. He looks at me with teary eyes.
“Did you even try to solve the sums?”
“Ah, I am still stuck in this chair, why?”
I look him in the eyes and only see confusion. I was getting my hopes up with how Lola turned out, but it truly seems that pig-headedness and body cultivation go hand in hand.
“Please try to notice when things happen around you.”
“Why? First master Fellis took care of me, now you’re doing it!”
He beams a happy smile at my face. I try to ignore him but the sickening happiness on display sours my mood.
“This master Fellis was buttering you up, you know.”
I get a confused face in return.
“He was going to make you his boy toy. I think he is a feeder, he must like his pets with some meat on their bones.”
“Master Fellis said that I was his special boy!”
Is he mentally handicapped? He looks so happy right now. “He was going...” I mime my left pointy finger going closer to my right fist. “To put his penis...” I pantomime the act with my hands. “In your bum and fuck you.”
These are not baseless rumours, I had the… pleasure… of observing him going at it myself. That was the first time looking at a map mentally scarred me. That basement under his mansion is a true horror show.
“His garden is filled with decaying fat eighteen-year-old corpses.”
He still looks at me without a trace of intelligence in his eyes.
“Haaah, I don't care. You would have had a miserable few years left to live in his dungeon when you became fat enough. He likes to raise his toys like livestock and seems to enjoy the look of betrayal on their faces when he displays his true sadistic nature.” The penny hasn't dropped yet but now the rest are looking at me askance. “I was curious if the Fellis guy has maps, so I scanned his entire house. Including the dungeon.”
Now let a shiver run up my spine while showing a slightly haunted look in my eyes. I don't let it show too much, though Tess and Ket seem to get the hint. Vox is looking at me as if I am telling him the sky is blue. “Do you guys know anything about an army marching here?”
Changing the subject is not running away, is what I tell myself. The lack of a reply tells me that they have no knowledge on the changed subject. “How about a big flying beast in the sky?”
They all turn pale.
“Y-You saw one of the F-F… Flight?” Vox barely manages to push that last word out of his mouth.
“Give me all you know about the Flight in one sentence please.”
They all look at each other for a long while, until Ket decides to speak up. “They are the true rulers, every kingdom or area has a Flight Guardian. We don't know where they come from. They were here before us.”
“They are immortal and all powerful I assume?”
Selis butts in for once. “Even all the grand mages in the kingdom couldn't possibly crack one scale, they are really pretty though. Why are you white by the way? Our Kingdom’s Flight Guardian is white too. Grass is sooooo pretty, there are so many blades! Thank you again for this looking thing, I really like it. The king meets with the white dragon once every five years, I got to see them from afar, it was huge! The dragon I mean, the king is normal person sized. There was also this...”
I hold up my hand to stop the deluge of words. “They are called glasses, thanks. That is enough for today. Here are your next assignments.”
I let my actual body breathe out a large portion of qi and push it inside the pocket dimension. I sink it into the ground and raise up six massive pillars, reaching high into the sky. I float my qi clone upwards and pull some cheap items from my spatial ring, putting them on the flat tops. Bands of colour mark which pillar belongs to whom.
“Tess, yours is the black one, Vox is white, Selis; blue, Ket; grey, Bord is red and Angeta’s is green. Please tell her when she comes to. Don't bother climbing a pillar not your own.”
Casting one last look at my kidnapee’s, I shake my head and pull my qi clone outside.
Let's get an update on the army and the dragon. Wind whips my hair around as I take a look at the sights below me. The army is still marching. Their destination seems to be the Tower, they are coming here in a straight line. I can't see any dragons at the moment and the city is covered by clouds. Looking downwards over the edge nets me a white and fluffy view. I think it's about time I come up with a solution to this qi spewing tower.
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