Chapter 43 - Blitz
I expanded the garden, made some upgrades to my castle and was just about to finish the library when I heard Lola’s signal coming from the Tree. I should leave soon but I can't help but put the lasts stones in their proper place. A nice greek styled temple now adorns one edge of the clearing. It is filled with books, either in pictograms or English. Beginning level alphabet learning books are available, so my students can start speaking and reading a proper language. There are no advanced-level science and math books though, just the basics.
I expanded the garden a bit, neat rows of buried seeds separated into neat sections. A large part of the field is sown with Heavenly Grain. It’s comparable to wheat, except it also attracts qi through its leaves and roots, depositing it inside its grains.
The last thing I do is set the table in the middle of the clearing. I fill it with scrumptious foods and drinks. Let's hope this goes well.
I jump through Tree and land in a gaudy room. The purple walls with gold filigree are hurting my eyes a bit, but arguing about taste is pointless, after all. My students are in an even worse shape than before. Bord is missing a finger and Angeta’s fur is singed in places. Their clothes look horrible, they're dressed in scraps that cover only the important bits. Nobody is looking at the swathes of naked skin on display though, they all seem completely exhausted. Bord will regrow that finger and Angeta can regrow that fur in seconds, so I am not worried.
“Forty,” Ket replies. “We’ll die in one shot from floor forty-three on.”
“Alright then. I have taught you all that is necessary to control your cultivation bases. I set out to see how the people of this world can handle qi, and I have my answer now. Now you all need to make a choice.”
I let the silence linger for a while as they stare at me.
Ket mumbles “...this world...”
“Yeah, I am not from around here. I somehow ended up here after some mishaps. Now you guys must decide if you want to leave or continue under my guidance. If you leave, no problem. I will seal your core, preventing you from using your qi externally. This will prevent the apocalypse just because you used a reckless technique.”
They open their eyes in shock. I let them think of this possibility for a while.
“Or you acknowledge me as your master. Where I come from, they had this stupid ritual of kowtowing three times. I don't like bowing and scraping but there are other factors that make this ritual a good thing.”
Angeta speaks up. “Why do I need to bow to you? You just kidnapped us. And you don't look like you are older than thirty.”
She growls at me some more. Haa, this is so troublesome. They will look at me differently after this, but I see the others silently agreeing with her. No choice then.
I start emitting some qi, slowly covering the entire room. I also start remembering a thousand years of fighting, running and learning. I shove all of these feelings into the qi surrounding me. This should give me a nice and stately aura, impressing upon them the fact that I am a bit older than thirty. Lastly, I start giving off a vicious aura, one meant purely for intimidation. Vividly remembering all the slaughter, death and destruction I've been witness to takes care of that. I build the aura gradually, letting it roll off me and seep into their minds.
“I am a thousand years old, whelp. You will bow or leave sealed. There is no other choice here.” Whoops, they all seem about to faint. Maybe I overdid it? Better overdo it at this stage than underdo it, I guess. I can't have my disciples walking all over me, after all.
Tess raises her hand and softly speaks when I look at her. “We don… don't even know your name.”
Ah, good point. I really hate names though, so let's go with that. “You can call me ‘teacher’ or ‘teach’. Acknowledging this requires three bows from your knees. Say: ‘I acknowledge teacher’, afterwards.”
The small group looks at each other, now trembling on their weary feet. They communicate with their eyes for a bit and I see them reach a unanimous conclusion. They sink to their knees and sit on their haunches. I use a bit of the qi in the room to force them into a seiza position. I release them and interfere no longer.
I do create another contract spell though. This one is a lot simpler than the one I did with Rhea. Tracking and paralyzation are the only two components. This is the bare minimum any other cultivation master did to his or her disciples, a lot of them used instant kill or obedience clauses.
They bow once and the contract grasps hold. The following two bows only reinforce it and when they say “I acknowledge teacher” it sinks into their cores.
The moment I am done, I retract all my qi. I smile at them.
“Fuuuuh, that is always a lot of stupid ceremony and trouble. I am glad that it's over. From now on you guys have the right to enter the Tree at will.” I take my necklace off and throw it at them.
“I prepared food inside. And a small library, you can study all you want. Also, build something better than those shitty shacks you guys have. No disciple of mine lives in such a crappy place.”
They all seem pretty bewildered. Selis is the first to make a grab for the necklace. She studies it for a few seconds and disappears. That opens the floodgates, as their empty stomachs cause them to scramble for it. I pick up the necklace once they're all gone and put it on again.
“You wanna go and join them or rush through the dungeon with me?” I hold Lola in front of my face. She blinks a couple of times before looking at the stairwell going down to the next floor.
“Got it, let's go fuck this place up together.” I give her a grin and we race through the left door down the stairs.
“Honestly,” replies Bord in between bites, “I nearly shat my pants.”
Tess nods. “He looks so dull and normal all the time. Seeing him explode into… glory ...was shocking.”
Angeta speaks up softly while looking down at her plate. “The strong rule the weak, I don't even qualify to be his slave.”
Ket also chimes in. “I forgot to think for a moment there.”
Selis is the last to give her opinion. She swallows a big mouth full of food before replying. “He blends in with the background normally. Then he suddenly became a mighty warrior. Then he became a king, ruling over lands. Then he became a god controlling his domain. And then he really got going. That murderous air had me scared, like really really really scared. I was an ant in front of the sun...”
She touches the water floating in front of her face a bit. “The most shocking was the end though. There he stood, in all his majesty, glory and terror. And then poof.” She waves her hand around a bit to illustrate this point. “He is back to a background character.”
They all chew in silence for a little while. Ket then stands up.
“Where are you going?” Tess asks
Ket’s eyes are burning with fervour. “He said library right? Isn't that the place in the Capital where all the books are kept? I am guessing that is it.”
He points to a rather large structure with a triangular roof and massive white pillars. “I'm going to read.”
He walks off, a bowl of snacks in his hands, smile on his face.
He returns a few seconds later. “No food or drink allowed, hehe.”
He rubs his head while placing the bowl back before walking away again. He briefly looks at the signs that stand in front of the white temple - simple drawings of food and drink with crosses through them - and walks inside.
Selis stands up next. She waves to the pond, attracting a long snake of water. She uses it to mercilessly smash one of the huts.
“What are you doing?” Tess blurts out.
“I agree with Teach. We shouldn't be living in such small huts. And Bord?” She waits until he looks at her. “Go climb your fucking pillar.”
She gives the fatty a piercing glare. Then she walks off into the woods while whistling. The rest of the students also wander off to do their own thing, leaving Bord alone at the table.
Shivers run across my back again, who is talking shit about me? Not important, preparing combat mode. Area scan shows increased level size once again. Analyse threats. What priority settings? High speed, low energy preservation. Can draw on Tree’s qi for refills.
Enemy sighted, it's a… My combat thought processes come crashing down for a moment as I see a squid walking on land. It uses eight long tentacles that stick to the smooth floor to walk over to me. It glows a dark grey and blue and my threat analyser forces me into combat mode.
Combined element attack. Pre-emptive strike, form dagger from qi and launch. Brain or heart? Brain in head, heart in centre body. Decide on attacking both, cleave through entire thing vertically. Must find better method of elimination, smell of squid internals is horrible. Proceed down hallway, room with more walking seafood. Prepare more daggers.
Floor forty-five now. Used up point zero zero two percent of total qi available, acceptable. Bigger dogs here, attempt atypical fighting style? Start random requirement generator for fun. One-finger death-punch it is. Proceed with plan.
Use pointy finger on first dogs head. Use less force, it exploded. Second attempt at second dog. Use even less force, brain goop on finger now. Third dog is in range, attempt a one finger stroke across forehead. Dog splits in half? How? Solution found, release qi with less speed from finger.
Fourth dog, use small qi pulse, needle-thick. Travels through entire dog and three more behind it. Shockwave enough to kill instantly without exploding, good. Still needs more fine tuning.
Reached floor sixty, rooms filled with aquatic life. Proceed with ease. Floor boss is piece of rope? What the flip, dungeon? Correction, floor sixty boss is snake disguised as rope. Snake strike in progress, fangs are dripping, assume poison, avoid at priority one. Fangs avoided by obliteration of said fangs, lessen automated hostile reaction to potential poison. Exit combat mode temporarily.
I look at the bloody smear on the wall. I kind of overreacted there. Poison could do horrible things, back in the cultivation world. Seriously fucked up shit. That’s where my fear of anything potentially poisonous comes from. The snake had poisonous fangs, so I overreacted and now the rope like creature is a fine paste smeared across the wall. Ah well, I don't think I will come across a worthy enemy before floor hundred anyway. Let's go on.
Floor eighty-two is just water. Water and darkness everywhere. Analyse threats? None found. Water has toxic compound, analyse. Lethal to mortals, no effect on self due to heartcore. Continue search for exit. Idea; use opportunity to optimise swimming speed. Start test number one. Result: limit muscle power by fifty per cent. Take vacuum cavitation into account, bubbles limit transfer of power to medium.
Test two. Max speed just under hundred kilometres per hour, acceptable swimming speed. Test out different strokes now. Exit found at four o'clock, finish tests before proceeding to next level.
Floor eighty-three till eighty-nine are standard hallways and rooms, each new one bigger than the last. Now at floor ninety, is desert, no water in the air. Scan with augur. Air is completely devoid of water, not a single molecule. Curious. Boss weak to water? No water source on level? Stop speculation for now, focus on searching for exit and boss.
Boss located, sand is exploding directly below. Form qi sheet in air and kick. Propel self up. Slow down perception further to observe boss crashing through sand, looks awesome. Record scene in high definition. Boss is massive teddy bear, kind of awesome. Boss is made from flesh, not stuffing. Totally not awesome. Begin initial probe.
Throw qi dagger. Dagger shatters on beast's eye. Idea; form dagger from spit. Launch spit dagger. Melts a hole though boss. Boss is cotton candy? Stop irrelevant thoughts in combat mode, how to eliminate teddy bear weak to water? Spit more? Spit more.
Shape spit into thread. Crisscross boss with said qi thread. Limited speed due to physical weight inside qi thread, adjust controlling formula. Thread is melting through boss, works as predicted.
Sudden flash? Blind? White everywhere? Did Boss employ flashbang? Dim eyes, form sunglasses, for eyes and optic nerve both. Sight comes back, immense pain in eyes. Swirl qi through cornea and repair essential damage. Observe effect of heartcore on healing? No time, boss could be near. Spread more qi to sense.
Vision is back. Light is everywhere. Theory; it is daytime? Check internal clock, confirmed, it is daytime. Boss feels weaker now? Reacquire control of spit thread. Useless, heat caused total evaporation. Form new spit thread. Slice though boss in grid pattern.
Record scene of boss falling apart into bloody cubes. Great fight. Exit combat mode to observe dungeon in daylight.
I land with a spray of sand. So it is daytime now? The desert I'm in is clearly visible, dark yellow dunes under a blue sky stretching to the horizon. I no longer need to infuse qi into my eyes to see anything.
I blink and gape with open mouth at what I see. Does the dungeon core have more control over the lower levels?
Because at the moment I blinked, the enormous teddy bear that was falling apart into bloody chunks was replaced by a massive pile of stuff. A pile of stuff bigger than the massive bear itself. The dungeon needed me to move around a corner to erase the corpses on the first few levels. Now it can do stuff like this in the time it takes me to blink. This is concerning.
I scan the pile of stuff. Massive quantities of perfectly formed weapons, armour, foodstuffs, clothes and metal. I look at the small collection of clothes I bought in the city in my ring. I did not need to do that after all. I think the dungeon rewards effort, this pile is bigger than I was expecting. I analysed what the groups of adventurers that exited the dungeon were carrying, a normal boss level should drop one or two good quality items. A level eighty boss thus should drop a small fraction of the pile that now lies in front of me.
I shrug my shoulders, I can only assume that any fighting during the night gives at least double the usual reward once a boss is killed during the daytime. I think of pulling the pile into my ring but decide against it.
I will take all the food though, there are enormous amounts of ingredients in the pile. Wooden crates filled with vegetables and fruits, sacks of grain and flour, even stuff like eggs and dairy products are present. I scan through the pile and mark any food and perishables. I then pull them all from the pile while sending them into my ring. This takes me a good few minutes in total. The mountain of stuff is still imposing, I took maybe a fifth of the total mass?
I attach a qi thread to all the other items I can find and jump into my necklace that I hang around Lola’s neck.
Previous Chapter Next Chapter