Chapter 86 - Intent
The wind causes Re-Haan's hair to flow above her in a long streak of messy white strands. The falling figure approaches the black rock below fast, so she commands the wind to cushion her fall. A slight breeze along her face prevents her hair from whipping into her eyes as she lands in a crouch.
Dust swirls around the humanoid dragon. Standing up, she looks towards the towering mountain. She wants to say ‘it’s good to be home’, but that would be lying. The black peak is obscured by clouds, a permanent mist covering the home base of the entire race of dragons.
Looking upwards, she sees three small dots coasting on the updraft caused by the massive mountain. Re-Haan actually feels slightly guilty. She spent the trip coming here testing out her newly gained cultivation. She tried out every trick Drew recorded inside the jade slip dangling between her breasts.
There's a massive gulf between knowing something in theory and knowing something in a practical sense. She thought that hearing his story made her a cultivation expert. Until she tried to do all the things he talked about.
The first commands she sent towards the trio brainwashed them completely, every single thought inside their heads replaced with her orders. She learned some finer control on the way here, and the trio of dragons should be back to normal after a few centuries of sleep.
The steep slope crumbles under her footsteps, and she notices that the solid stone is - in reality - finely compacted ash. It’s like walking through fine snow. Re-Haan flew over this mountain countless times, and its the first time she ever realised that these grey rocks are not a solid as they seem.
She keeps walking while trying to flatten her feet into some form of snowshoes. Drew also included his preliminary findings and conclusions about the draconic changing process in the necklace.
She spent half of this trip gaining control over her qi. The other half she filled with experimenting with the changing process. She has some control over it now.
Simply imagining her flesh, blood and bones as tightly interlocked stones that are glued together allows her a crude control over her shape. The energy that pours through her locking organ is like a glue solvent, allowing her to rearrange the very structure of her body.
Gently turning the tumbler under her heart, she guides a trickle of the energy towards her bare legs and feet. Dissolving the glue holding her feet together and rearranging the soft flesh, she covers the limb with flat, wide scales. Her left foot dissolves mid-step as scales grow from the goop.
She can’t control the liquid version of her body at all, so she just uses the wind to shape it from the outside. She puts her transformed foot down. A smile graces her angular face as the flat scales no longer sink through the layer of ash.
She found that leaving the bones intact was tricky in the beginning. She's very glad for the fact that she did a full body scan as Drew recommended in the jade. Else she would have spent days trying to get her limbs back to their original shape.
The roaring trio calms down as Re-Haan's influence begins to leave them. The mountain under her feet rumbles while the members of the Flight who are on duty respond to the trio's emergency calls. Flapping sounds combine with ground shaking footsteps as she sees winged shape after shape emerge from the fog. She jumped off her ride at their maximum flight altitude. It will take the on-duty dragons some time to reach their height.
‘I SHALL NOT BE SEEN. NONE SHALL OBSERVE ME’
Enough time for her to slip inside the cave complex unnoticed. She has some things to settle, after all.
“Why does he haaaate meeeee…?” Terrible, feminine wails sound from a small piece of forest lit by multiple small suns hanging in a cloud covered sky.
“He does these kinds of things for a reason, you know?” answers a black haired boy standing next to the sorry figure.
“Vooox, I don't like this Teacher guy, let’s leave!”
“I am jealous of your situation, and you act like it's the worst thing that ever happened to you.” A red-haired boy sitting next to the complaining girl opens his eyes. “Releasing all of my qi into the atmosphere is seriously uncomfortable. He rebuilt your cultivation at least ten times, and all you do is complain.”
“But… but… he scared me and chased me and did weird things to me. He violated my-”
“He helped you, sis. You might not see it, but your aura feels more powerful than ours was after a week of cultivation and fighting. He does weird things all the time, but in the end, they all have a purpose. Ket, how are you doing?”
“This sucks on multiple levels. It feels like my soul is leaving my head.” Ket opens a single eye as he keeps rubbing his temples.
“I feel like my body is slowly dying. Ugh, why couldn’t Teach have used me as a cultivation base example.”
Ares looks at her brother with a withering glare. “You could have volunteered to take my place. He forcefully formed my core based on fear that one time! I thought everything in the world was out to kill me!”
“Your water control rivalled Selis when he rebuilt your core based on fear. She had to control water constantly for a long time to get to that level, and you managed to do that with a cultivation base minutes old!” Ket vents his frustration at the whining girl, his usually calm face showing a rare streak of irritation.
The small group slowly stands up as Ares keeps complaining. “But it was really sca-”
Ares is looking at the places Ket and Vox just inhabited. The gusts of wind they made while moving at top speed messes with her hair. With an exasperated expression on her face, she starts walking in the direction the shouts came from.
Ares joins us for dinner by the time half the food has disappeared from the table. I nibble on some breaded, fried vegetables as she takes a chair. She looks at my disciples eating with blissful expressions on their faces while gingerly reaching for a plate. Bord snatches it before her hand gets halfway. She pouts and seizes another plate.
I dodge the flying food, the dish the redheaded girl grabbed at exploding. “Ares, control your strength. Wasting food is not allowed.”
She drops the empty plate back on the table as I hand her another dish. She bites into one of the meat and vegetable rolls. Her face blooms into amazement at the first bite and seconds later she is enthusiastically fighting the other students over the dishes.
“Right.” They all look at me, only pausing for a second before ignoring me and focusing on the food again. I shrug and take another bite of a pie loaded with qi rich fruit. “Let’s eat first.”
I take away the empty plates and fill the table with steaming food once again. Only Bord and Ares are still eating by the time the second round of food is nearly gone. “Don’t put food in your rings. They don’t keep food fresh like mine does.”
Ket sigh, Tess groans and Angeta growls as they make a couple of dishes appear on the table. Bord and Ares both snatch half as they keep eating.
“I am going to continue my lecture, just keep chowing down.” I form another ball of qi over my palm. “Once again, this is neutral qi. I love it because my specialisation has to do with mental strength. I don’t enjoy the feeling of having some highly specific qi floating inside my head. You all, however...” I circle my pointing finger over the entire group. “..should all at least try forming a specialised qi and cultivation system once.
“It’s like starting a journey. Neutral qi is the beginning point. From here on you have to take your first step. There are an infinite amount of directions to choose from. After the first step, you can take another one, once again having to choose from an endless amount of choices. This changed neutral qi then has an intent. I call it an intent, if you find a better name, please let me know.
“Let’s take fire as an example. A beginning fire cultivator can let his personal qi take on the aspect of warmth. Then his understanding of fire increases and he realises that fire is the process of oxidisation. His flames will burn brighter, but he will need a constant supply of fresh air. He then can change his qi into the aspect of heat. It will evaporate targets instead of burning them, but mirrors will efficiently reflect it.
“The same for swords. Someone can swing a sword ten thousand times a day and forcefully try to understand sword intent.” I change the qi above my hand with a single, sword-filled thought. “Now it feels like this qi is stabbing your eyes, yes?”
Selis rubs her face while glaring at me. Ares has fallen backwards as she blinks furiously. “This person then further refine this intent as he gains new understandings of the sword through endless repetition and battle. For example, an edge intent.” The small ball now gains a sharper aura, like the entire sword has been changed into a single cutting edge.
“From here on he can take another step forward, like a cutting intent.” The small bit of qi changes yet again, the air around it seemingly being shredded into separate chunks. I dissipate the ball of qi because only Bord is looking at it with a bored expression. The rest of the group is either looking at me through their fingers or rubbing their eyes.
“Then a separation intent can be developed, followed by a dimensional cutting intent and so and so forth. I will spare you those. Even I can’t look at the last one without feeling pain in my eyes.”
Ket raises a hand while the other rubs his eyes. I nod. “Why can you make those? Have you spent years swinging swords around?” He has a doubtful look on his face while asking these questions. Or that might be caused by the tears streaming down his cheeks.
“I have barely swung a sword around. What I have done is… SCIENCE!” More blank stares at my triumphant shout. “Science is the systematic study of the universe through experimentation.”
Their stares get even blanker, if that is even a word. “Look at something and wonder ‘why’. That’s it.”
I let the silence linger for a bit. “I wondered why a sword cut. Then how it cut. I then did a shitload of experiments to figure out why. I wanted to understand the underlying reasons and principles of why sharp edges cut.
“I tried out every single combination of edge shape, material, pattern, smoothness and roughness I could think up, just to understand why a sharp edge cuts. Doing this I gained a lot of knowledge about the world and how it works. Applying this knowledge in a world where knowledge is power in the most literal sense you can think of is pretty effective.
“So I want you guys to experiment. Think up something you want to know the answer to and figure it out. Write down what you have found and try to look for patterns.”
I nod in satisfaction at a lecture well delivered. I taught the shit out of these seven kids just now. The fact that their faces lack any understanding at my rambling has nothing to do with me!
“One more thing. Let’s say there are two guys. One swings a spear around all day. The second makes spears all day. If you let them do their thing for a thousand years, they both might end up with the same amount of attacking power.
“After those thousand years, the first has perfected the way he swings a spear. His every muscle is used to apply maximum force on his spear. The second has crafted the perfect spear. He swings it around with less power and grace, but his spear is sharper and suits him perfectly. Both end up doing the same amount of damage to a target.
“But what if they both cooperated? What if they both could perfectly swing the perfect spear? Would their attacking power add up or multiply?”
More blank stares. For fuck’s sake. Even Ket does not get it, how would I explain this to a retard?
“If they had cooperated, their fighting power would not just become twice as powerful, but ten, twenty or maybe a hundred times as strong. This is what I want to try with my school idea. I'm pretty strong for someone who has my qi levels, but I am just one guy who messed around for a thousand years. What if hundreds of people mess around for a thousand years while learning from each other?
“What if they cooperate to grow stronger instead of zealously guarding all their knowledge? I really want to see what that would end up looking like.”
I can see Tess, Ket, Vox and Angeta thinking hard about what I just said.
“So, the reason I've not been teaching you any techniques, except for those fighting styles, is that I want you to learn the underlying principles of how something works instead of just their applications.”
And I lost them again, are the words I am using too big? I check my translation process and pretty much all the big words I used have their specific local language equivalent, so that’s not it. I shrug and sit back down.
“Whatever, just remember that the only difference between science and doing random shit is writing it down.”
I slowly keep eating while looking upwards. The leisurely circling clouds have been growing thicker by the hour, I think it’ll start raining before half a day.
“Can I give my qi fart intent?” Bord’s eyes are open wide. Did all of that only now sink in?
“Shut up Bord. Maybe shadow intent? I wanna try to dissolve into shadow without needing shadows.” Tess chimes in.
“Food intent...” Drool drips down the fat boy’s chin as he starts smiling to himself.
“I could use my entire body as a magnetic controller.” Muses Ket.
Bord opens his mouth as he looks like a flapping fish. “T.. triangle intent.”
Multiple voices sound out simultaneously this time. “SHUT UP BORD”
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