Chapter 29 - Slice
Multiple miniature suns cast their life-giving radiation upon a small clearing. In said clearing is a big Tree. This Tree is seriously big, towering over the surrounding plant life by multiple folds. A massive whirlwind of white qi is flowing from the branching crown into the sky. Smaller golden threads surround the Tree like a flowing web.
A pond is located beside this wooden behemoth, reeds and various aquatic plants forming a picturesque scene. Two small streams of water flow from the small body of water, creating two babbling brooks that run through the forest. Two clothed figures are sitting in the pond opposite each other, a black-haired boy and girl are half submerged. The boy has his eyes closed while the girl swirls her hands through the water surface. A black knife and a few metal balls are laying on the shoreline, seemingly forgotten.
“You are right, normally I’d have started shivering by now. I feel fine. How many hours has it been now?”
The boy just grunts in reply, apparently too occupied in his meditation to give a proper answer. If you listen closely enough, a muttering can be heard from the boy. The majority of it is an undecipherable mess, but occasionally numbers can be heard. His entire face is twitching like mad as if his mouth can't move fast enough to keep up with his thoughts.
“So, I solved all those stupid sums we were given, but why are you so obsessed with that stuff?”
Standing up the girl wades through the pond until she stands right in front of him. She bends down a bit to look him in the eye but gets no reaction whatsoever.
“Okay then, I am going to figure out what the deal is with my knife.”
A dark sheen flashes over her body, leaving dry skin and cloth where it travels. She snickers a bit as she walks out of the pond and picks up the black knife.
“Angeta is kind of funny, so frustrated. I got on top of that thing after a few seconds. Everything casts a shadow, after all.”
Twirling the knife through her fingers she saunters away. Behind her, steam starts coming from the boys head, almost as if the organ inside said head is starting to overheat through overuse.
In front of the pond is a clearing a few hundred meters wide. It is surrounded by a ring of trees and underbrush. It must be said that none of the current occupants suspect that this luscious environment is just a few days old. The ages appearance of the entire space can be explained by examining the floating seedlings carried by golden strands of qi. With budding leaves swaying in the breeze, the stream of little plants are carried further out. The ring of green in the middle of the large earthen disk growing with each newly planted sapling.
The microcosm hasn’t gotten any bigger in the past few days, but it has gotten a lot richer in terms of qi. Maybe the fact that Tree has been syphoning off any qi it can get its branches on has something to do with this. As a result, the previously barren soil has exploded with life. Various plant mutations have sprung up, attempts of the local plant life to adapt to qi usage. Samples are being kept in the growing garden behind the Tree, the previously planted herb seeds now bursting their first growths through the dark soil.
A girl with blue fuzz on top of her head is slowly walking through said garden, occasionally bending down and studying the growing plants. A fruit carried from afar speeds its way over to the Tree, only to be smashed into a goopy paste as it is smashed into a wooden bowl. Golden energy pulls the solids from the pulp, leaving a small amount of clear juice. This bowl then floats over to the girl, who accepts it with a smile on her face. She sips some of its contents while the wooden rim bumps against her glasses and the girl smiles wider.
“Thanks, mister Tree, this is really good! Did you use pruk-ito fruit in this one? Those are the soft fuzzy fruits with blue pits. Ooh, this is a pretty flower. It smells wrong though, ouch, it bit me! No, no, mister plant, that is not nice.”
A frown wipes the girls smile from her face while she sucks on her finger. The plant she was stroking wilts in front of her, a clear water bubble rising from the dying flower.
“If you are going to be mean, your water will be used for nicer plants. Mister Tree! I think this flower got nasty from trying out the qi. Also, has the stem-fruit changed yet? No? That’s my favourite, so let me know when it starts to do qi stuff, please. Wow, these leaves are round! Where did these come...”
The girl keeps monologuing to herself while strands of golden qi float around her. A small sphere of golden energy is hovering a meter in front of the talkative girl, bobbing up and down with the flow of the one-sided conversation.
Besides the happy chattering sounds, another noise can be heard. Further into the forest, these noises become louder and clearer, the soft rumbling turning into smashing and splintering sounds. Shouts interweave with noises of violence, creating a cacophony of violence.
In the middle of this cacophony is a furry figure. Angeta is venting an entire life of frustrations on the tree in front of her. Big dents appear in the brown bark, showing lighter wood underneath. Falling leaves get caught in the woman's slipstream as she rains down punch after punch on the hapless tree. She gives a bestial roar as she steps back to wind up a kick. The remnants of the tree splinter in an explosion of wood as the fur-covered leg passes through its trunk. Breathing heavily, she turns around and walks over to a tea set.
“I fucking hate tea, why was this stupid thing on top of my pillar? It took me hours to get a grip on that slippery fucking thing.”
She continues to mutter about qi control, having to spread it over her claws to get a grip followed by more cursing at her kidnapper. She clumsily pours steaming water into a small glass pot, black leaves unfurling and swirling through the yellowing liquid. Any person from Earth would recognise the scent wafting from the steaming pot as jasmine tea. She pours some into a small cup, sniffs it and drinks the entire thing in one gulp.
“What the fuck is so special about this stu… whoa...”
Stumbling a bit she sits down. Eyes that normally shine with suppressed rage seem to calm down. Green fog seeps from her body as she sinks into meditation. Meanwhile, a golden web of energy brings over a few seeds while pulling every scrap of wood underground. As the green glow around the beastwoman grows, the ground around her is cleaned with remarkable efficiency. Seeds glow golden for a second before they plunge into the grass-covered soil, small saplings sprouting up seconds later.
Back in the clearing, some man-made structures have appeared. In contrast with the perfect vibrancy of nature, these buildings ooze an amateurish air. Rough cut wooden logs make up six huts, with a much bigger stone castle towering over the lodgings. The castle is a mix of tower and castle in one, a square wall surrounds the building, a large tower sticking up from between them. The top of the tower is a glistening dome.
The relevant thing here are the soft sobs and sniffling coming from one of the huts. A redheaded man is walking in circles before the entrance. He sighs to himself, takes a moment to compose himself and enters the hut. He is greeted by a crying blob on a straw bed, curled into a ball. Vox stands there for half an hour, unsure of what actions to take.
“Go -hic- away.”
Soft words come out of the boy's mouth. He tries to make himself smaller by curling up, with mixed results. Vox walks over to the pile of depression and lays his hand on Bord’s back.
“Fellis is the reason Selis and I where in jail. He has two well-known methods of entertainment. The major one is raising children under his protective care in an isolated part of his estate. There are still three boys in the other parts of the garden being raised by him. Were you ever allowed out of the compound? Didn't think so.
“Alternatively, he puts some poor schmucks in jail on false charges while giving them the death sentence, that where Selis and me. After letting them rot in their cell for a few weeks, he shows up, all smiles. With a serious face, he will tell these poor guys that they are about to be publicly hanged. He will then extend an offer of slavery. Afterwards, those people are his to do with as he pleases, no matter their background.”
Vox starts stroking the back of the blubbering mess lying on the floor. His hands are flashing with pinpricks of light, bright sparks appearing on his skin. Vox continues to pat the fatty’s back.
“And the worst part is, he is so good at talking to people that everyone will suspect him of being a saint in disguise. Every word will stroke your ego or give you something you never thought you needed. I was about to give in to his demands you know? And I knew what kind of horrible person he really is.”
Bord says nothing, he just continues to wallow in his misery. Vox sighs again, retracts his hand, stands up and walks out. He stops and puts a box on the ground just before he leaves, flipping the top open with smooth motions.
A few seconds later a tremor runs through the neglected pile of human. It sniffs the air and turns his head around.
One moment Bord is lying on the floor, the next he is sitting beside the open box. A sudden gust of wind blows the salivating figure’s hair in further disarray, the air suddenly catching up to that ridiculously fast movement.
Vox looks at the boy bouncing out of his hut, box clutched tightly to his chest. He smiles a bit as he walks on, his concentration back on his glowing hand.
“Yoohoo, Tess, let me stab you for a bit!”
As the redhead runs after a black silhouette, Bord is in heaven. The entire debacle about his life falling apart and the structure of society collapsing in on him forgotten for now. With trembling fingers, he opens the box and stares at a small slab of meat. His fingers turn from clumsy sausages into surgical instruments as he brings the morsel of food to his mouth as fast as possible. A whole slew of expressions cross his face, but by the end, there is just contentment.
He looks around and sees the pillars jutting from the ground. All but one are slowly crumbling, leaving a single red banded column in pristine condition. He walks over and looks up. His face twists into a frown as he thinks for once. Not long after, a single shake of his head seems to dispel such useless things as thoughts. Looking upwards he narrows his eyes to slits, bends his knees and jumps.
An invisible force pushes him off course, causing him to launch sideways away from the pillar. He also seems to have underestimated his own physique, as he goes flying over the treetops. After a forceful landing that causes the underside of the island to bulge out, Bord climbs up the crater wall, staring daggers at the pillar. He crouches down a bit, getting into a starter pose. An explosion of dirt gets left behind as our intrepid hero careens towards the top of the pillar. A weak forcefield launches him off course again, causing another flight over the treetops.
The force put in the jump is significantly higher than his first attempt; this is easily observable from the fact that he is flying twice as high. The underside of the little microcosm doesn’t bulge out this time - it bursts apart under the built up momentum. The tumbling fatty then screams his lungs out as he observes the underside of this flat little world for the first time.
A minute of yelling later, Bord stops squealing to take stock of his surroundings. His immediate thoughts of falling into some dark abyss are not met, he is now floating a good way from the Tree and its soil circle. Still looking at the underside, black earth and dangling roots, he notices that he is falling upwards slowly. A few minutes later, Bord is looking around with bulging eyes, now in orbit around the Tree. He sees the ring of water stretching out from the circle of earth, thin but shimmering in the light of multiple sources. The suns are even higher up, he sees.
A few orbits later Bord is thoroughly bored. Flapping his arms didn't get him anywhere, the very idea of moving through a low gravity area is a total unknown to him. He has been having troubles with his stomach though, and Bord is starting to suspect that the meat Vox gave him wasn't that fresh anymore. He rubs his stomach while pondering how to get back to the ground.
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