Chapter 65 - Retreat
I throw treasure in the air, letting it rain on my face. A sharp diamond hits me in the eye, and a gold bar smashes into my nose while a smattering of gold coins hit teeth. Ow, who said that showering in gold was fun? It’s heavy as shit.I look around the hold with disappointment in my eyes. Maybe I should use a better method of gold-bathing? It’s not enough treasure to dive into like a certain duck, but its a decent start. Let's think about that later. I kick the coins to the side as I squeeze through the rest of the hold. This ship is mainly transporting slaves, but it has cargo stowed away here and there.The most valuable stuff was hidden in secret compartments inside the captain's quarters, with the exception of this chest of gold stashed in the hold. Various barrels of alcohol, rolls of cloth and crates of other materials are being carried upstairs by my students.I feel a pressure building up in my mind, a clear indication that the stasis spell is starting to become too much for me. I walk up the planks and catch Bord stuffing a massive, ornamental couch into the necklace. I ignore the piles of loot stacked around, waiting to be stuffed inside the Tree, and walk to Vox.“Figured out the dosage yet?”He looks up with bloodshot eyes. “I… I really hate doing calculations, but I should give the average crew member eight microliters.”I double check this and come to the conclusion that he’s right! “Nice work, how should we administer it?”Vox glances as Selis, but I shake my head. This stuff is essential in the field of alchemy, and the ability to make precise measurements is one of the most important skills in that profession. Vox opens the small bottle and pulls out a drop with a thread of qi. He separates the drop into six smaller drops. He holds them still and looks at me.“That is about right for an average adult male, too much for kids and women though.” Vox groans as he starts doing the mental math again. I grin at him while grabbing control of the floating potion. I pull out some more and prepare a proper dosage for every still frozen person. The mage will not remember anything because of the truth potion, so I skip him.Guiding a single drop to each person, I fly it into their nostril. There it will get absorbed by the mucous membranes. It takes me five seconds to administer everyone on board; the medicine will work very fast when the stasis field lifts. I look over the rows of frozen slaves and think for a moment.I decide with a sigh; there goes my peaceful life. No more lazing around for me, let’s get to work then. I close my eyes and focus on Tree. I see fields filled with fresh saplings and short blades of grass sprouting from the dark earth. I pick a spot behind the garden and clear out some of the small plants. I then make a quick and dirty apartment complex. The qi in the air still has my fingerprints on it, so controlling it takes relatively little effort. Pulling up the ground and compacting it, I hastily construct a building.I make some bunk beds and one by one, placing the frozen slaves on these resting places. Once the deck is empty and the rooms are full, I finish the entire thing with a score of enchantments. I scribble all kinds of words and symbols in the compressed earth, focussing on strength and stillness. I cover the beds with a semi-permanent engraving that will keep the stasis spell going. I ask Tree to keep it supplied with power and feel that it does so with little effort. I will deal with those poor sods later, give them a proper chance at life.I snap myself back to the real world and feel the current stasis spell pulling on my mental strength, so I let the formation go with a sigh of relief.“Kids should get 3 to 6 microliters and… Why is everyone moving again? Where did the slaves go?” The crew stumbling about wakes Vox from his math hell.“Stasis spell was getting heavy, so I drugged everyone. LOOTING TIME IS OVER, WE ARE LEAVING!” My yell attracts the attention of all the crew. Lola comes hopping over to me, and I switch the concealment function off as she jumps on my shoulder.“Who are you?”“How did you get on board?”“Rabbit?“Intruder! Get him!”“Looting, who is looting who?”I dramatically point to the captain, who has fallen on his face. I yell in faux panic. “Something is wrong with the captain!”All the attention on me gets diverted to the still twitching corpse of the vile man.“Captain!”“Who did this?”“First, did you see what happened?”“Finally, the bastard is dead!”That last shout causes some of the other crew to agree, while the rest makes enraged faces.“Who is a bastard, you bastard?”“I call dibs on his hat; I love that hat!”“How did you know that my mother cheated on my father? I kept my bastard status a secret for years!”“RABBIT! LET'S EAT MEAT!”“The captain, what is wrong with the captain!?”This last shout diverts the attention once again. I look around with a big grin on my face. People without a functioning short-term memory are funny as hell.“Who are you, lady with the long black hair?”“There is a beastkin free, grab her!”“Who are you?”“Where did you pop up from, fatty?”The rest of my students have gathered now, and I pull the rest of the stacked loot inside the Tree.“Captain! CAAPTAAAIN, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOOOUUUU?”“Wow, did you see that stuff just disappear?”“See what?”“What, there is a rabbit on that guy's shoulder!”“Who are you again?”“Hey sexy blue-haired lady, let's go below decks and get to kno-" *OOF OW AUCH*“Wow, Dave, who beat you up?”“Huh, I'm beat up?”“Cap, what is… CAPTAAAIN, SNAP OUT OF IT.”We gather by the side of the railing, trying hard not to burst into laughter. Angeta is still somewhat timid, but I see a sparkle of humour in her eyes now.“Who are those people over there?”“Dave, you still owe me money!”“Nuh-uh, I paid you yester… ow, I do indeed still owe you money.”“Thanks… By the way Dave, you still owe me money!”“No, I just… Yeah, you are right, here… Where is my money, WHO STOLE FROM ME?”“CAAAPTAAAAAAAIN”“I love this hat!”“Rabbit!”“Who are you guys?”I jump overboard, ignoring the brawl beginning behind me. I land on the water and start walking to the north again. I hear splashes as my students land on the sea surface with varying levels of success. Selis gently steps on the waves, as if softly walking over a pillow. Bord does a cannonball but gets stuck in the sea at waist height.Ket lands with measured perfection, Angeta slows down with a translucent leaf in her hands and lands with the grace of a cat. A wet cat, as she immediately plunges through the water surface. Vox just bashes the water away with enough speed to cancel out his fall and pulls the soaking furball from the salty wetness. Tess appears from my own shadow and skates across the surface with a black glow around her feet.The wet furball sputters a bit as we all look the other way. I decide to start running to get some distance from the forgetful crew. I hear more anguished shouts as the crew keep discovering stolen items or destroyed ship parts. More dramatic yells of ‘captain’ keep happening as I hear a single, mournful wail of ‘bunny’. The entire mess devolves into a brawl. The mage - still stoned out of his mind - is just sitting in the chair.Five minutes of running later, I stop. I hand my necklace to Lola and drop her on the water surface. “I have to modify the ship a bit, be right back.” And I jump inside.I get to work as soon as I land in the clearing. Jump towards the frontal mast, I give it a kick. Wooden splinters shower around me as the big tree trunk partially turns to sawdust and shoots away. I make sharp threads of qi and use them like a saw, smoothing the deck over. I have no idea how to sail with two masts, so it was kind of dumb to make the ship like that.Hindsight is twenty-twenty, whatever. I quickly craft some loops and places to tie ropes to from wood and metal. I jam these in what I think are the proper spots and pull a big roll of cloth from my ring. I automate the sail creation process, so I watch the white cloth slowly being cut and sewn together with qi-reinforced thread.More rope goes through a loop on the single, leftover mast that is now missing the crossbeam thing. I realise that I need a keel with this type of sailing, to prevent the boat from drifting sideways when going close to the wind. I think I can remember that sailing against the wind was a close haul, but that sounds stupid to me.I force some lead bars into a single lump and quickly cover it in wooden planks. I then lift the entire ship, making sure to move the half done sail out of the way, and glue the keel to the bottom of the ship with a strand of augur. Ten seconds later, the sail is done, and I put it on the mast in all its triangular glory.I am now looking at a revolution of sea transport, the modern triangular sail. Instead of those gigantic square sails, this baby can actually go against the wind! I hope, at least. Let's find out!I pull the entire thing through the Tree and scare the shit out of my students. They all scramble away, Lola is the only one who is just looking upwards at the approaching thirty-meter longship as it rushes down. I grab the fluffball and land on the rocking deck.I close my eyes for a second as I adjust some of the formations. A flash of light creates a new, hidden button on the steering column. I press it, and a shimmering field rushes over the entire vessel. This is the simplest form of concealment that I know of, invisible to mortals but laughably easy to see through when you are a cultivator.My students land on the deck one by one, Angeta is dripping wet again. I frown at her. “Why are you wet? Go train your water walking.”Her bubbling anger wilts and she shuffles over to the railing. “Vox and Bord, join her. Your water walking can also use some work.”The trio starts muttering amongst themselves, and I hear a few faint curses. This only causes me to smile. So much better than all that stiff and unyielding bowing and scraping based on the stupid concept of face.I turn around and start pulling the variety of ropes I added to keep the sail on the mast. I think that these are called lanyards? Other terms like cunningham and jib sheet cross my mind, but I decide once again that I don't care enough about sailing to get the names right. The sail rope keeps the sail up, and the other ropes...I realise that I forgot to add a boom. The sail will work, but… Overtaking? Tacking? Flipping the sail to the other side of the ship will be a lot of trouble. I ponder this with my chin in my hand for a little. I pull the crossbeam that previously adorned the vessel from the Tree and make some modifications.I stick it to the mast and use my augur to make a crude hinge. It’s a captive ball joint, normal wood would splinter at these stresses, but I simply infuse some more passive qi into the mechanism. I extrude some wooden rings and force the bottom of the sail through these. Augur is a great tool for splitting and reconnecting fibrous materials.The second rope I use on the ship gets its proper name though, the main rope. Mainsheet, I mean. It prevents the boom from flapping around, a few wooden pulleys and clever use of the flexibility of wood allow me to quickly tighten and loosen the rope.I let the sail catch wind as I pull it up the mast. It starts to resist, but the mast, rope and sail are stronger than steel, so raising the thing under wind pressure is no problem. The entire ship jerks to the side as the sail flaps taut, giving the ship a tilt. I start moving immediately.I walk to the stern and wave at my running students. I infuse some qi in the wind, causing the ship to speed up further. I give them a jolly wave while shouting. “Try to keep up! This is a good qi control exercise! No food if you guys don't get on board before nightfall!”I give another blinding smile while looking at the horror-stricken faces of the trio. There is something intensely satisfying about giving people the proper motivation to succeed in life.In a good mood, I start walking to the middle of the deck, my heartcore compensating for the small amount of sway the boat has now. What to do next? It’ll take some time to get to anything interesting, and I have enough sailor lingo stored to speak the dialect fluently. I think I’ll do some cooking.
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