Chapter 20 – Beat
I don’t even listen to anything the red-haired guy has to say, I just throw Lola in his face and face the next person in line. It’s no wonder I had to spring him from prison if the scaled bastard behaves like that all the time.
Ignoring the coquettish cries filled with anguish coming from behind me, I now stand in front of the black haired dungeon girl.
“Hello again, want to share something else besides the fact that you’re a suicidal dungeon diver?”
A blush spreads itself over the girl’s cheeks as she darts her eyes around, looking everywhere but me. Half the time her gaze lingers on Lola. I narrow my eyes towards the girl. I don’t care if she has developed a bunny complex, she is mine and this girl won’t get to pet her.
“YES SIR, I am called Tess, I think I’m eighteen, human, I like sneaking about and… well, you saved me so, shadows seem to like me.”
I simply nod and move on. Beating up a wounded person is a bit too much. The rest has started to relax, so I need to ramp up the tension a bit. I stand in front of the tall dark eyes fellow and begin.
“LOOK ME IN THE EYES YOU LANKY PIECE OF FUCK. STOP STARING AT THE GROUND, IS IT MORE IMPORTANT THAN ME? LOOK AT ME YOU DEPRESSING PATHETIC GOTH REJECT!”
I breathe out a bit of qi while mentally shouting ‘MURDER’ at it. My version of killing intent. Releasing true killing intent can be done in two ways. One can either murder a lot or have a deep and true desire of murdering your target. I can’t do either at the moment, so shouting at my qi to ‘KILL EVERYTHING’ and covering my target with it will have to do for now.
Despite it being a cheap knockoff killing intent I notice every being stiffening and jerking upright. Even Lola drops the redhead and looks at me while the Tree rustles its leaves a bit.
The poor sod becomes even paler and tries to imitate a ruler, he is standing so straight.
“N-N-No sir, I-”
“WHAT ARE YOU WHISPERING FOR, SPEAK UP, MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON WHATEVER POOR SONS OF BITCHES PRODUCED A FAILURE LIKE YOU!”
Shouting at a shadow of my past is just so fulfilling. I need him to toughen up and get a grip because I suspect that this will be the only mind cultivator in the bunch. He visibly swallows and berates himself. I give him a few seconds and he tries again.
“N-No sir, I’m Ket, seventeen, human…”
The moment the world human comes from his mounts a slight smirk plays across his lips while he glances over to the beast girl.
I don’t let him finish as I punch him in the gut with a qi filled strike. Letting him double over and flop to the ground I walk over to the blue girl.
“Rule number one, race is irrelevant.”
I take a breath.
“AND YOU FUZZBALL, TELL ME WHY I SHOULD HAVE BOTHERED GETTING YOU OUT OF THAT CELL.”
The girl flinches and seems to come back from her own little world. A timid voice worms itself into my ears.
“Clouds are nice, they call me Selis and I have been around for sixteen rainfalls, so…”
She blinks at me while I blink at her. She didn’t really end her sentence, just sort of trailed of and lost focus. Honestly, I’m at a loss for what to say. She is also staring past me, her gaze barely missing my face. I push away the image of a helpless duckling that’s floating up in my mind, give her a qi-loaded pat on the head and walk to my last victim.
“AND HERE WE HAVE THE FAT GUY.”
“Where is master Fellis? Do you know who- HURK”
The moment I hear his whiny voice I signal Lola.
“You can be a bit rougher with him, he has a tough body.”
The bunny is already juggling the blob of lard above her head, but at my word she gives a little squeak and fatty goes flying over the treetops.
Whether I like it or not, these misfits are the only suitable candidates I found in the city. Kids too young don’t have the maturity to practice and study long periods of time, but more importantly, they’re annoying. People that are around and above thirty often have trouble accepting new fundamental truths and the adaptability of their bodies has gone down, making qi integration a much more painful process. And the other people that did fit all had nice lives or close family. I sigh again.
After the guy, who still hasn’t introduced himself, shouted at everyone present, he had them sit in a circle. Tess wondered a bit at the differing treatment everyone received, but it was just one of the many, many, many questions spinning through her head. She decided to observe for now and ask questions later.
Right now, she is sitting on the grass, forming a semicircle with the others in front of the weird guy. His way of speaking seems to get better with each sentence he utters. His intonation is already markedly better than the first sentence he said. The weird insults are still flowing strong, however.
“This is qi.”
His voice shakes Tess from her contemplation. A small ball of white forms above his palm. Tess is shocked but tries hard to hide it. Silent casting of magic, not a single sign of emotion on his face. Who is this grand magus level being? This inhuman level of emotional control is something a higher ranked grand mage would have trouble with.
“It is a step up from mana, you can see it as a higher form of energy. Now there are three places where one can form their qi control centre, namely…”
The explanations keep blowing Tess’s mind. The monologue describing starting a cultivation base explains the feeling she has in her stomach as if she is about to shit out a moon. Further descriptions of breathing in mana in order to make more qi cause her eyes to sparkle. Explanations about what the core location signifies cause the sparkle to expand into a blaze. A feeling of joy overflows her when she realises that she can have the best of both worlds, permanent body improvement and casting spells. She can combine the strength of mana powered beastkin and the human mages’ spells! She starts the shake the moment various basics about ways to construct their own techniques are explained. Not able to hold on anymore, she raises her hand.
“Can I go and form my core now, I don’t think I can hold on anymore.”
“Ah, of course. You have been prevented from core forming for at least a day now. Find a wooden hut you like and uuhm…”
He looks around shiftily, seeming unsure of himself.
“They are sound insulated, nobody will hear what kind of noises you make in there.”
This confuses Tess, but the burning feeling welling up in her gut can’t be stopped anymore. Standing up she sprints to the nearest hut and slams the door open. A small barren interior greets her eyes, a single bed and another door all there is to see. Shoving the other door open she sees a wooden box with a hole in the middle..
With a big sigh of relief, Tess closes the doors, drops her pants and sits down. Not even a second later the look of relief changes into one of abject horror as she starts to have the worst diarrhoea of her entire life. Cursing and terrifying wailing fills the entire room a moment later, her shouting with all her might just loud enough to drown out the other noises…
The sound isolation sigils I drew on the small huts are enough to block out most of the sound, so all I hear is a muffled cursing and gnashing of teeth. Body cultivators sweat it out, mental cultivators need to do it manually and a dantian cultivator expels it from the exit nearest to the core. The body knows what it needs and knows what it doesn’t need, and what it doesn’t need are the impurities that are expelled.
A mortal swaps out all their molecules once every decade or so. Eating and drinking combined with expelling the waste will slowly change the very matter one is made of. A cultivator can keep his or her molecules for millennia without losing or changing a single one so someone just stepping on the road to immortality needs to do some housecleaning.
“Alright, I have told all of you the basics. Go to your huts for now and get a feeling for the qi inside of your bodies. Once everyone has a core and at least rudimentary qi control we will continue.”
The five leftover figures walk and stumble towards the still empty huts. I just gave them a basic introduction to qi and how to cultivate. I have no plans to teach them specifics, just raw information and abstract concepts. They can figure out their own Dao from that.
I stand up and walk to the tree, putting my hand on its bark. Forcing some qi through the spacial point I feel around outside. I jump into the air and make half a flip before I push myself through, appearing right side up in the outside world. Landing on my feet I take the necklace from the mossy forest ground, putting it around my neck while Lola jumps through with a flash.
“Had fun bullying the newbies, you sadist?”
I grin while Lola ignores my jab. The forest I’m in is to the north-west of the dungeon city, spread over the foothills of another mountain range. I want to keep gathering more rocks, dirt and plants in order to form a proper base inside the Tree.
I’m thinking about cutting off one of the higher peaks in order to make a cold-qi garden. One of the eternal snow-capped mountains I spotted will be a good starting point for making a frigid qi area, ideal for growing some of the better tasting minty herbs and fruits. Taking away an entire mountaintop for some snacks might seem overkill, but never underestimate the terrible vibes that bad breath gives out. My supply of breath freshening fruits is pretty low. I will need to find a place to steal a lot of rocks or dirt from to pad my garden with before I can do that though. Plopping down a massive source of cold on Tree will freeze everything solid with how little mass is inside there currently.
I spot trees and plants similar to the forest I got Tree from. A strand of golden tinted qi emerges from my necklace and points to a small bush, so I gently pull it from the ground and let Tree pull it inside. Tree sends a small wave of thanks my way and starts looking around for other plants it wants.
I will have to study this world’s ecosystem for a bit, I don’t know if bees pollinate these plants or if they have some sort of magical solution. I assign a few mental tasks to keep an eye on the interplay between insects, small animals and plants. Giving up some radar resolution is a sacrifice I’m willing to pay for a thriving garden to putter around in.
My disciples have panned out as I expected. The big-boned kid is forming a heart core, the dark-eyed length of gloom is going the mind cultivation route while the rest all formed dantian cores. It’s a shame that the majority is so boring, but dantian cultivators can get pretty freaky at the highest levels of power.
I see it this way; everyone has the same starting point. Every decision and experience a cultivator makes causes them to shift from said starting point into their own direction. An ancient and well-developed cultivation technique locks someone into a certain style, but figuring out your own style can allow one into any direction imaginable.
Let’s take Selis – the blue haired girl – as an example. Her airheadedness and vacant eyes will likely push her into a more mentally focused cultivation path. She seems to have a certain connection to water, a blue flow going through her body. By the time she’s powerful enough to ascend her powerset can consist out of water or fog manipulation, ice control, mental freezing attacks, but even something abstract like water resonance. From blood control to ripping H2O molecules apart and putting them back together, forming burning water, she could go in any direction.
In short, a body cultivator will be a body cultivator, it doesn’t matter if they focus on speed or strength. Mental cultivators are the same, dantian cultivators are less proficient at either field but can make seriously weird combinations of the two.
I rarely talked about my findings in my previous world. As I walk through the forest towards the mountains I start getting pumped about the type of monsters I could create with this small group. One look at Lola is proof enough that my theories are not total bullshit, she is a week old and can take down dozens of mortal soldiers with ease.
Grown-ups and young adults have their own preconceptions and beliefs that get in the way of such a rapid growth, but I should be able to beat those out of them. As I walk on my minds spins with possible plans and training regimes.