Nine Paths of Asura (Ch.130-131) The Maws of Star Stream Lake

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  • edited August 2015
    Chapter 17 Continued- Need
    Hey guys, sorry bout the wait, trying to fix my sleep cycle and practice table tennis and go ice skating so brain is toast. Thanks for the discussion, it means a lot to me to see the community taking an interest here. Ok, back to the action.

    "Kiddo, I'm glad you've finally started seeing some sense. But think again. Did you count the number of hits? I did, there were 30 arrows fired in the span of 5 seconds. No mortal can pull off that kind of speed, whoever did it was definitely an unusual cultivator who specializes in speed and long range techniques. While I estimate that the barrage occurred from the left, the chances of us catching up to him are slim to none. At least not before you're covered in arrows. At this stage in cultivation, you are at an inherent disadvantage against this type! I suggest you abandon the wagon and run, your life is far more important than any treasure and these men are already all dead!"

    Lineir's rage cooled and his heart rate stabilized to a steady

    Thump..Thump..Thump.. Like a raging tide overflowing the Yellow River's banks, he was over the wagon side and gone. Instantly, arrow after arrow came at him, but he had an impression of danger every time, and even without looking back his arms would swing back and deflect the arrows with the bony scythes. Since he was running away from the archer at blinding speed, the arrows were only 3/4rths as fast as if they were coming at him standing still, relatively speaking. Had he been going towards the archer instead, they would have been far too fast to deflect. As it was, he was clearly getting away, each arrow came from further and further away. This archer was clearly no fool, he didn't try to run and shoot at the same time.

    "Kid, you're still too young. Tell me, what did you leave behind that would have been of great use here?" Lineir was stumped,

    "The treasure? I don't even know what it is, and if it's gold or something it's probably too heavy to carry." Mei took this time as a lesson, 

    "No kiddo, the most important thing in that wagon was the bodies! If you had taken one as a shield, with your new found strength, your escape would have been easy. The dead are dead, a body is just a body, use them. They are part of your environment, and when you one day have to fight in the midst of armies, this lesson will be invaluable. As it is, these bone scythes are really too convenient, and your reflexes are superb, better than they should be. You should not be able to escape completely unscathed. No matter, just take this as a lesson. If you were more powerful you could have avenged your friends promptly and this whole matter would be ended. You need more power." 

    Lineir took Mei's words to heart. The dead were dead, it was just that at the time he hadn't even considered such a possibility. Not only was the option repulsive, it also was not something he could have done before he began cultivating. There was no way he could have simultaneously carried a body and ran at any great speed. He sighed, he truly was too weak, had Mei not been here, he would have rushed the archer in a blind rage. With the arrows coming towards him, and his own body moving at high speed dodging or blocking would have been nigh impossible. Foolish, he needed to keep a calm head in any situation.

    "Kid, just keep running for a little while, and then go find a hidden place to cultivate. Whoever shot those arrows must have found what they were looking for by now, they should have no interest in chasing a nobody like you. Furthermore, the threat of you, laying in ambush should deter a long range fighter from pursuing you. You should be safe to settle down now and pursue cultivation. Remember, our goal was never the city, even if that person were to chase you, they would expect you to head to Dracherus. Instead, angle yourself to the wilderness entrance. They will never expect that." Lineir felt he owed the man who had saved his life though,

    "What about that man's last words though, he asked me to warn Dracherus if I had the chance, shouldn't I head there first?" Mei was obstinate however,

    "No, you're still far too weak. Such a trip wouldn't profit you now. The dead are dead, and the treasure is long gone. It's far too late to call for help now. Furthermore, if they are pursuing you, you would be playing right into their hands. You can come back when you're stronger and finish that last request. You need more power first!"

  • edited August 2015
    Chapter 18.5- Path of Cultivation
    So basically I'm doing half chapters because I get nice opportunities to cliff hanger or transition before I reach the 3 page length which I consider to be a full chapter. Helps me do titles which relate and stuff, and also helps me keep track of how long the overall story is. Enjoy.

    Lineir did his best to drive the events of the last day out of his mind. However, he had learned useful lessons, and was harder than before. His resolve had toughened, and he knew that if he was threatened again, he would hardly hesitate to use force. The cost of hesitating... was innocent lives and Lineir's own life! The world is full of both the hungry living which must eat each other to survive, and the hungry dead which hopes to consume everything and regain its humanity. In such a cruel world, the only thing to do is to fight! Grow strong...fight...grow stronger...eat...consume...and survive! This philosophy which Lineir would previously have not been able to aspire to, was now his key. 

    Through following this path, he would find his own power and those he cared about would never have to leave his side, never be hungry. This was his Third Heart! The first was his own physical undead heart. The second was the center of his cultivation and the nexus of the lines of power in his body, the Qi paths and meridians. This third however, could be said to be the most important. It was the center of his willpower and drive. Upon realizing these things, Lineir, seated in a grassy grove under an uprooted tree, immediately felt a sense of purpose and peace. While his path was one of warring, in knowing that he walked a path, he did not feel lost anymore. There was solidarity in this, and immediately his countenance changed. If there was anyone to witness this, it would have looked strange.

    His bearing straightened, and if before he could have been said to be a rat, now he was hardly that. His confidence in the restrained power in him, his path, and his teacher were now shown in him. Instead of a rat, it would be more accurate to say that he was a feral cat now, lean, savage, and willing to kill to survive. While it was still obvious he didn't have the bearing of nobility, no one who looked closely could deny that his aura was an ordinary one. This was a man who did not just hide, he waited, he was no longer simply prey. Mei, sensing these changes, clapped in his head,

    "You found your path! Congratulations disciple, this forms the Third Heart of cultivation. Now that you know your way, you will not hesitate to act. Furthermore, the spin in your second heart will naturally increase as the elements recognize your drive and seek to appease your will. This will define who you are for the rest of your time, be it a day or eternity! Might I ask disciple, Lineir, what is your path?" Lineir answered concisely, his path was part of him and with this understanding he only felt the need to speak a few words,

    "I walk the path of consumption, growth, and survival! I am as the cat, untamed and unrestrained." Mei was very satisfied with this,

    "Excellent, an excellent path to follow. As master to disciple, I wish you to walk long and hard until you reach the end, whether it be to follow another path, or the grave, satiated by your steps." With that, Lineir got up and simply continued walking. The sun was down, and it was time to go. One of the first changes which Lineir had to grow accustomed to before entering the wilderness, was that he was to travel at night now. While normally, near villages, people feared the night, in the wilderness, the night was shelter from the larger more dangerous magical beasts. The beasts at night were those specialized at night hunting, and they tended to be smaller and less ferocious, although ambushes could still be deadly to an unwary or unlucky traveler. Additionally, there was an increased danger from undead at night. While magical beasts had no more lost love for undead than humans, there were numerous unburied bodies and unsealed graves. This made the location ripe for undead and at night they were at their strongest and most active. 

    Another change which Lineir had to get used to, was finding water. In the wilderness, there were no easily marked wells or man made reservoirs. Every time he needed to drink, he had to find a stream or river, and thus he had to stay near water sources at all times. This however, increased the danger significantly. Many magical beasts also congregated near water sources and they were not happy to share. Stealth and a very selective approach were key to survival here in the wilderness.The deeper he went, the more careful he had to be. To eat, drink, or simply rest was a constant challenge. Mei had extensive knowledge about this. She constantly showed him plants which would assist him, wound cleansers and monster repellents. Without her, he probably would have starved, the number of wild monsters which he could hunt was pitifully few. However, today he was going after something special. It was crucial that this hunt was successful, he had been going after this beast for many days. What was he hunting that was so crucial? Even though he wasn't even in the true wilderness, magical beasts were beginning to appear with startling consistency, what could he hunt in such a savage and wild place with his power?  The answer was....a herbivore!

  • edited August 2015
    Chapter 18 Continued- Don't Know Why She Never Came

    18.5 is on the first page of the thread

    The most important thing is water. However, Lineir had no way to hold it, he could only drink his fill and leave. This kept him bound to the meandering ways of the rivers and streams. In order to truly wander the wilderness, and be able to stay away from the waterways, which were dangerous places deeper in, he needed to have some way to store water. Mei, was well aware of this, 

    "See that beast over there? That's a baby Salty Three Horned Goat. It's parents shouldn't be far. If you can track them down and slay them, the adults have a hard organ inside which makes for an excellent water container. You'll have to follow the baby however. The adults don't come near the river often, they are capable of going many days without drinking. Luckily for you, the baby does not have this luxury and you get a chance. Go and scare the child. It'll go running to its parents quickly and you'll have a chance at them!" So saying, Lineir dived out of the underbrush and immediately the baby Salty Three Horned Goat was running without even looking at its pursuer. Such was its nature as a herbivore. Lineir kept pace, occasionally revealing himself whenever the goat slowed down. Mei, warned him to stop after a while,

    "See how it runs faster now? It's almost near its parents. It must be feeling like its almost reached salvation. Be careful now, when you see an adult, you must strike quickly and kill it before it can understand what's going on. If both adults are waiting for you, I fear this hunt will be a waste of time. One, you should be able to handle, but two at the same time will be a bit much. Stay alert, the babies calling out!" A plaintive huffing grunt came out and from the surroundings came two much louder grunts. However, one was clearly closer than the other. "Excellent, they're separated. You'll only have a moment. You must take out the first one before the second arrives. The adult will rush you immediately on sight with its great curling horns. Don't try to dodge to the left or right, it will be expecting that. Go above it and go for the throat if you can. Be careful, if you jump too high, you might avoid danger but you'll be unable to deliver a killing blow and the other one will arrive!"

    It was exactly as Mei said. The adult arrived, a male by Mei's estimation with great curling horns a meter in length each. The goat took one look at Lineir and rushed him head on. Lineir waited carefully, arms loose, and at the last second relaxed, jumped up and as he sailed over the bony scythes extended from their hidden positions in his arms and sliced deep behind the goat's protective horns. A definite killing blow, the head was almost chopped halfway through. It was interesting to note that Lineir had almost no real form or technique in this blow. It was purely a blow of reflexes and strength aided by the almost psychic killing intent of the bony scythes. They extended so naturally it was as if they were Lineir's own claws. The baby Salty Three Horned Goat, frozen in fear, bolted towards the sound of the other grunt, terrified of this monstrous creature which had slain its father. "No time to rest kiddo, the mother will soon be here, and it won't stick around for long. While it poses no threat to you alone, as soon as it sees you took out its mate, it'll make a break for it. You should slay it as well. It will be good to have a spare water sack, and it's a sale-able item." So saying, Lineir crept back behind the tree branches and waited. 

    And waited.... and waited. The mother never came. "How odd, the mother should usually at least check to see what's going on. Your luck is already quite good, harvest the skin and meat and grab the water holding organ, I'll guide you.You should leave quickly, there's nothing more to be gained here. Soon bigger wild animals or magical beasts will arrive and it would be best to fill this canteen and get going before they catch on to the scent of a fresh kill. So strange though that the mother never came..."
  • edited August 2015
    Chapter 19- Devastation
    Mmm setup chapters are nice aren't they...*cue jaws music*

    Lineir hurriedly completed the messy affair of cleaning up the body, occasionally Mei would point out a bad cut or this and that, but in the end he obtained as much meat and skins and the all important water organ. It was a strange, slightly shiny black color, hard as rock and once Lineir opened it up, a perfect canteen. He got up and began to look for a water source to break it in. As he was making his way through the forest though, he came upon something shocking. There was a clearing. This clearing was definitely not natural, the trees were cracked open as if a huge gale had swept through, but only in this place. For a good thirty meters, only the largest trees could even hope to stay in place as broken stumps. A huge bloody smear was splattered on the ground as if some god had spilled a giant bucket of crimson paint on the ground. Immediately, Lineir froze and hid, terrified of whatever had this kind of terrible destructive capability. 

    "Interesting, most interesting. From what I can see here, this is all that remains of the Three Horned Salty Goat and its child. If you look over there, you can see the blood is actually split into two separate pools, there's a little gap. This diffuse pattern...my best guess is that whatever attacked here is at least at the level of a divine king. To put it in comparison, you're at the first step of cultivation, and can still just barely be classified as a mortal cultivator, this being is so far above you that it probably wouldn't even consider you a threat if it stood still and closed its eyes. Go around this place, and tread softly. I am infused in your blood, and I have no desire to become part of some magical beast's lunch." Mei advised extreme caution, and Lineir did not hesitate to offer the same opinion. He edged around, avoiding the clearing as if it was certain death. To be fair, if the beast was still around, appearing in front of it was almost certainly akin to offering it a snack.

    "I don't understand though, such devastation! Yet I see no tracks, only those blood splatters. Whatever caused this must have been quite large, it should have left tracks!" Lineir shivered. This was truly strange to him. However, Mei offered another opinion, 

    "It's fine, just because something has great power does not mean it has to be large. A strong enough demon rat could tear the heavens and only be a few meters long. Indeed, this devastation could even be caused by a person, though it seems unlikely that a person would create such a mess over a Three Horned Salty Goat. Size does not equal power once you leave the path of mortals!" After that, Lineir revised his opinion. Indeed, it made sense that whatever caused this might not have been very large. He had heard that the White Horizon Sect's ultimate attacks could destroy city walls, and they were just as large as any normal human. Indeed, he himself, possessed by Mei, had wrought far greater destruction. This was just another thing he would have to get used to if he were to walk the path of cultivation. 

    Eventually, Lineir loosened up, and he felt it safe to continue cultivating. To do so, he first found some secluded place, inside of a tree for instance, or in its branches, and then closed his eyes. Mei would watch out for any danger, she was capable of seeing his surroundings, and he felt reasonably assured that he would not end up eaten without at least knowing what killed him. His mastery of both his lightning and darkness aspects was slow, but satisfying. There is nothing so satisfying after all, as knowing oneself, and these elements were exactly that, parts of his own being. It was like discovering you had wings, while you might know they are there, without practice you could hardly instantly fly. Now that he was on his own, he could freely practice externalizing his power. With time, he could create a glowing spark in his left hand, and in his right a slight dark haze would shift into existence with some concentration. While the spark wouldn't do much more than give someone a bit of a shock, and the haze only had enough weight to cause his hand to dip imperceptibly, it was progress. He still dared not attack anything but the occasional herbivore, some goats and cows, however. Until he could create a small bolt of lightning, or condense a solid mass of darkness, any attacks he did would probably lack the necessary attacking power to penetrate the solid hides of even a 1st tier predatory magical beast. He would simply be feeding the magical beast, not himself.

    Another week passed, and now Mei decided that the time was right for Lineir to begin practicing his first real external techniques, that is....attacks! While his mastery of externalizing his elements was still rudimentary, she reasoned, "You need to be able to have the physical foundation to go along with your cultivation. While you are unusually strong, and extremely fast for your level, you have no combat sense. By practicing the movements now, even before fully externalizing your energy, you will be able to seamlessly meld your form and energy into a flawless technique. That is, you must learn the art of the sword!" Thus, she began to instruct Lineir on the art of the sword. Day by day, instead of walking, he would lunge every step. This is more exhausting than you'd think, putting all your energy to use every muscle to its fullest and step as quickly as possible quickly strains a body that has no foundation. Lineir, having never been trained before, ached terribly from being forced to use muscles which he had never even known existed. To further compound the issue, while he was doing this, he was to simultaneously swing his arms with the bone scythes out. 

    "While I have never seen this particular weapon appear, I am versed in several arts which use blades attached to the arms and wrists. Have no fear, you will not lack a teacher here. Additionally...hold your hands together...train with this as well!" From the base of the bony scythes, where they poked out from his elbows, crimson dark liquid oozed out. It ran down his arms and coalesced into the same straight edged, thin dark sword which he had first seen in the cave. Everything down to even the oddly surging black lightning trapped in the surface of the blade, to the strange hilt was recreated perfectly. "While being used as a training weapon by an amateur is beneath me, I'll have to let it go. It's time you learned how to use a real sword and not just those bony scythes." Begrudgingly she permitted him, "Alright... go at it, swing me around and get used to my heft, we'll start from the very beginning." 

    In time, Lineir quickly grew much stronger from this heavy practice. While the bony scythes on his arms were incredibly lightweight, they still made him rather top heavy. Add in a sword, and he had trouble just holding his arms out in front of him. All this strain meant that his lower half and his core had to catch up or he would be walking bent over dragging Mei on the ground. He shuddered to think what would happen if that happened. With her temper, she might just stop his heart or something. Not even daring to let the tip of the blade drop an inch, how could Lineir not quickly develop the body and muscle of a swordsman? Of course, this was only a few weeks practice, and common sense would suggest that it wouldn't have much of an effect at all. However, this would be in the world of mortals. While Lineir was still mortal, his undead heart and reshaped body would recover from almost all its aches and exertions with one night of meditation! Indeed, the next day he would start practicing even stronger than the day before, rather than having his performance degraded. This rate of improvement was well, simply impossible for the average person. 

    Furthermore, who can say that they truly practice with all their heart. Only a few could keep up that kind of focus. However, Lineir walked a path which forced him to give his all in this regard. Anything related to his survival, he would pursue with the abandon and savagery of a wild animal. No matter how heavy his breath, and how hard his heart pounded, he would continue. He did not even fear dropping dead from overexertion, because even if that was possible, Mei would no doubt restart his heart just to berate him for dropping her on the ground. In this way, Lineir went from a total amateur, to someone who would at least not embarrass themselves just from swinging a sword. Lastly, to add further difficulty, Lineir would have to try to externalize his elemental energies with every swing or step. This was extremely difficult. While it only affected his mental state and cultivation base, that is his Second Heart, to attempt this while learning the way of the sword, was truly a difficult task. Only the most hard working or insane cultivators from great families would try this. It required a teacher who could teach both at the same time, and generally nobody would try this because it caused such a strain on the body and mind. But Lineir's body recovered so quickly that this was possible for him.

    At some point, Lineir had long since lost track of the exact date, Mei informed him that it was time for him to gain some combat experience. "You've been training enough, and you can actually form some small semblance of an external attack. With your level, it should be capable of piercing a tier one predator magical beast. Kiddo, head to the river, I'll pick something suitable for your first real kill!"


  • edited August 2015
    Chapter 20- Fishing For Carp...

    Don't worry, the last chapters have been a bit slow because Lineir is such a weakling... I can't take him anywhere fun...but I know exactly where we're going with this, and I think you guys will enjoy the next few chapters. You'll have to wait for tomorrow. Enjoy the scenic view instead of a cliffhanger today....

    The verdant green banks of the river were lined with many different magical beasts. These beasts oftentimes fought with each other, but would segregate into different areas based on strength. There were areas of higher level magical beasts, as well as areas of lower level ones. It was precisely one of these lower ones which Lineir was looking for at the moment. With the sun filtering in gently through the leafy boughs, he quietly slipped about the edge of the shrubbery, avoiding open ground. While not all magical beasts were hostile to humans, the overwhelming majority of them would forsake their differences with each other to target him. Thus showing himself carelessly in the open was akin to suicide. Only a fool or a great expert walks into a group of enemies by himself. Lineir was neither. 

    "Mmm no, the Eight Throated Water Lilies over there are a favorite place of the legendary False Water Serpents. That area over there is teeming with Dappled Buffaloes, the herd would trample you without a second thought, besides they aren't predators. That pride of Green Speckled Lions is nice, but the odds of catching a straggler are slim, and the adults are 2nd tier magical beasts, too dangerous at your level. Keep walking, we'll find something eventually, surely there must be some pathetic area with some sick or crippled animals you can hunt!" Mei was ruthless in judging Lineir's strength. While some might think this would tamp down his spirit, Mei only had the best in mind. Death was but one wrong step away at any time in the wilderness. Although it would be more accurate to say Mei more or less had Lineir's best interests in mind... "This disciple of mine has a strong ego. Stepping on it every once in a while is also good..."

    "Quick, over there, a perfect match for you!" Lineir felt a slight tug from the sword in his hand, as if it was pulling his arm and not the other way around.

    "What... the hell... is that?" Mei wasn't laughing, but he was pretty sure that she was holding it in, "That, is a Scaly Segmented One-Inch Worm. It's named this because while its total length exceeds four meters, its brain is on average about one inch long. Of course, it has several of them, located at different parts of its body, so if you fail to destroy it completely, it will regrow quite quickly. However, while it has very low attack power, and its defensive behavior can be said to be so-so as it will just sit there and wait for you, it has quite the hard carapace. Thus, killing it and harvesting the magical core inside will be very beneficial to you. Also, it technically counts as a predator! It has been known to eat those Three Horned Goats, and at least has some slight combative instincts. Despite its appearance, it will put up more than enough of a fight for someone as weak as yourself!" Mei finished describing it while chanting, "An animal almost at the peak of 1st tier magical beasts, truly a suitable match for my disciple."

      Lineir was very skeptical. The thing Mei had referred to was currently sticking, half out, half in, the river bank and couldn't look further from the peak of anything but weakness. Yes, it had some scales which looked kind of hard, but it was really just a six inch thick length of grey worm. At a distance, it could be mistaken for a particularly thick coil of steel cable coming out of the ground. Unable to think of any reason to be cautious, Lineir burst out from the forest and rushed it,

     "Such a thing can't possibly be very strong, Mei is definitely playing a joke on me this time." Not even bothering to use his sword, Lineir let his deadly bone scythes slide out and complained, "It's not even moving... does it have a death wish or is it just too stupid with all its brains spread out across its body..." Using his hard earned training, Lineir dealt a fairly concise blow about a meter down the exposed portion. His hope was that if he severed the head, at least he thought it was the head, it was really hard to tell, the thing would go down. 

    CLANG, with a bone shaking vibration, Lineir made a great expression of pain as the bony scythes cut in about an inch, then crunched to a halt. The worm itself didn't even move. "Argh, that really hurt, its shell is damn hard. Also, it's so close to the ground that hitting it with any sort of power is really difficult." Mei, was laughing endlessly,

    "Of course its hard, this thing is at the peak of the 1st tier magical beasts in terms of resilience. That blow you gave it will take a second to even register with the main brain!" Lineir thought it over for a moment. That was truly astonishing, he had hit it in the neck and it would still take a second for it realize he had hit it? "Isn't a second too long?" At that moment, from below, there was a crunching noise and a hideous mouthful of ivory teeth, a good meter wide, erupted from the ground. 

    "Did I mention? You attacked its butt, the head was underground. Good luck, the armor plating is twice as thick around the head!" Still laughing, Mei stopped talking and watched Lineir fight. It wasn't an easy fight. After initially jumping back when the head burst out of the ground, he had immediately hefted the sword she was in, which was incredibly sharp. However, no matter how sharp a blade is, only with good technique will a student grow to have solid foundations. Mei actually blunted the edge of the blade, this was for Lineir's future development. If he had an invincibly sharp sword right now, he would be tempted to swing with little form and later on against opponents with real defensive capabilities, he would die without leaving a scratch. Lineir retracted his bone blades so he could fully utilize the advantages of a single blade. They weren't going to help against such a tough scaled opponent. The worm actually rushed out of the ground meter by meter and lunged at Lineir, with the intent of burying its teeth in it. 

    In this first exchange, Lineir quickly evaded, the worm's speed was really so-so, but when he tried to slice the real neck, he could only cut about three quarters of the way through the scales. It quickly rushed by and plunged into the dirt. Fortunately, it was so long that before it could get its whole length into the safety of the earth, Lineir actually got in another hit at its tail portion, hitting it where he had originally hit with his bone scythes, and severing the last meter of it. The worm was silent for a moment underground, but eventually burst out again behind Lineir shrieking in pain and jerking violently. Despite its wound, it was too stupid to change tactics and blindly lunged at him again. The same result happened, though Lineir could only barely clip its shortened tail this time. He pleaded, "This is too slow, I can't keep hacking at it this way, I'll only be able to lop off a bit of tail at this rate! Mei-Mei, how do I fight this thing!" Mei sighed, realizing that a little help was in order or they'd be here all day. 

    "Think about it, you've swung much harder when you weren't under pressure. Relax your muscles, when it lunges at you, stay firm and dodge just barely so that you stay close enough to strike it with power. You're too scared of getting hit, only someone who is willing to lose his own life can grow strong. If you are able to stay calm in the face of death, only then will you be relaxed enough to deliver a full force blow. Additionally, those last two attacks didn't externalize any elemental power. Concentrate and try to infuse your attack with some lightning or darkness. The worm should easily go down then." Thinking it over, Lineir paused and allowed the worm to draw near. As the hundreds of viciously sharp hand-sized teeth closed in on his head, he twisted to the side without moving his feet and delivered a thunderous blow in the space of a second. A moment before it hit, a dark aura shivered around the blade emanated from his right hand, and the weight behind the blow greatly increased. Additionally, a single solitary yellow spark danced on the blade from his left hand.

    This time when it hit, the blade traveled all the way through one side of the steely plates, through the flesh in the middle, and stopped as Lineir shocked by his power, didn't follow through with the stroke but instead jerkily ended the blow in astonishment, "What strength, I feel like I could have gone out the other side!"

    Mei was equally surprised, "That's not really that impressive, the element of darkness allows for great weight to be placed behind blows, as darkness is supreme in regards to density. However, what is really surprising, is that you actually used a bit of elemental lightning as well! It wasn't enough, but as you'll notice, the worm isn't moving! Despite the fact that you only actually destroyed the main brain, the shock must have disrupted its nervous system and it is unable to revive! While I doubt you could kill even a mortal human with this yet, having two elements at the same time in your first fight against a predator shows that you have promise. Quickly now, retrieve the core of the worm and let us be off. This worm is only bait in the wilderness for stronger beasts."

    The process of retrieving the core was rather messy. While his blade had traveled clean into it, he had to first widen the gash into an actual hole, and that meant cracking it open further. After three more strikes, he managed to get a reasonably sized hole going and was reaching in the gooey grey flesh to grab the core. It was as you might expect, rather disgusting. However, the alternative was to go in from the unarmored mouth...and he wasn't going to willingly put his hand in all those teeth. As his hand seized the core, his gaze turned to the gushing river next to him, unconsciously getting ready to wash all the gunk off of him. A scenic view greeted him, a nice wide expanse of blue, broken by a lonely lily, and far off a waterfall tinkled, the water was really just too perfect in the midday sun. Mei too enjoyed the view,

    "Say disciple, doesn't this sight just make you appreciate life? You need to properly enjoy these things while you're alive. While the pursuit of power is one thing, remember that there are other things worth living for." She sighed. At that moment Lineir pulled out the core with a sickening squelch. "Aiya, I've ruined the moment. Let us take a moment to enjoy as that lily drifts by"


  • edited August 2015

    Chapter 21 - ....Catching A Shark
    The chapter title is the end of my little saying from chapter 20. Fishing for carp catching a shark XD. Prepping to move in for the school year again, so busy busy you know how it is.
    In other news, 2k views! Excellent, excellent, brother Alternity will definitely find time this week to reward you with cultivation gifts (cliffhangers) at some point! Actually... what better time for a cliffhanger than the present! 


    "Lineir quickly stored the core a pocket, and headed down to the river to dip his hands. Getting there, he quickly dunked his head underneath and waved his arms about. This quickly filled the water with grey scraps as Lineir emerged and walked back, scrubbing his eyes with the back of his hands and smiling. It was great to be clean, the monster core would certainly help his cultivation, at least according to Mei. The energy inside, could increase the rate of absorption temporarily, saturating his meridians and saturating his veins. In doing so, he could either absorb it slowly and completely, to permanently help his cultivation speed, or he could use it as last ditch source of energy when he was in a pinch. Doing so would waste the core, but it might save his life, and unless you are undead, you must be alive to cultivate!

      The harmony of the blue water, drifting lily, and shining sand of the far shore could not be more beautiful. truly like a painting. Lineir was actually reminded somewhat of the feeling he got when he looked at Mei back when he first met her in his mind. At that moment, Lineir scrubbed his eyes. Then again. While he did this, Mei extorted the majesty of such a fine day, "Absolutely perfect, even in my world, this moment of rare peace is like finding sapphires in the ocean. Disciple...why are you rubbing your eyes, are you blinded by such beauty?" Lineir however, was very confused. Something was wrong with this perfect harmony of nature in front of him. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but it definitely was throwing him off. Finally, he figured it out.

    "Say Mei-Mei, you don't think the movement of that lily is a little strange? The current is rushing towards the west, where the waterfall is. However, isn't that lily in fact, not moving with the current at all, but heading towards us?" Mei was silent, she in fact had not considered this, it was very strange indeed. 

    "That is indeed strange, I can't believe I didn't notice this, the vista in front was really just too good, like gazing at the Far Shore. Now that you mention it though...I feel like I remember something.." At that moment, the lily accelerated, now it couldn't even be said to be drifting. It was without a doubt moving completely perpendicular to the current, and coming straight for Lineir. Mei began to ponder, 

    "How strange... that should be impossible, unless this is some sort of special lily, but I don't think so. Actually, it seems to be an ordinary Eight Throated Water Lily, it is odd that it is by itself, they usually appear in groups unless some great current manages to shift them apart...!!" Mei alarmed cut off her own sentence.

     Lineir began to back away as the lily came at him even faster. Mei started shrieking in his head, "run. Run. RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN!!!!!!!!" 

    About thirty meters away, the lily came to an abrupt halt. A dark shadow seemed to fall over the water around it, but there was no cloud in the sky. At that moment, the dark shadow became more and more solid and with a huge splash, a great plume of water shot up in the air and a giant purple serpent's head snaked up, neck stretching out and up and up, and came to look down at Lineir. The visible portion of the beast was at least 50 meters long. "A False Water Serpent ..., a peak fifth tier magical beast. disciple, I'm sorry, I should have payed more attention, but your luck is truly broken. Fate itself must have decided that it is time for you to reincarnate. I fear running now will do you no good." Mei's voice was soft in contrition. This was mostly her fault, she should have known better than to let her disciple clean himself in the river covered in worm guts. He was practically offering himself up as a free meal.

    Lineir refused to give up, he turned and vigorously tried to reach the safety of the trees. However, he was at the banks of the river, and that short stretch might as well have been the divide between heaven and hell. The False Water Serpent rushed through the water with incomprehensible speed, it was as if a ship was riding a tidal wave, the long neck cutting the smooth surface like a prow. Instantly the head lunged up, stretching out of the water, casting a shadow over Lineir. He looked up and hastily dodged back as it crashed down in front of him, a great expanse of scaly purple covering his escape path on the right. As he tried to switch to the left, the immense head, many times the size of his entire body slithered through the sand and grass on his left. In front of him was a massive coil of serpent about five meters in diameter. The head rearing up behind him stared down and hissed. This hiss was tremendously loud and horrifying. Not only did Lineir's hairs stand up all over his body, but they vibrated from the power of it. Lineir hacked fruitlessly at the scaly coils surrounding him, but to no avail, they were just too big. Mei apologized endlessly, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Like the descent of night, shadows billowed everywhere on the ground as the mouth covered the sky and fell upon Lineir who, surrounded by the coils, had nowhere to run. 

    "No, I will survive!"


  • edited August 2015
    Chapter 22- Survive!
    So yea... I'm done with the half chapter system for now, the chapters end whenever they feel right. Less confusing all around this way. Sorry, but while they might be shorter, I find myself gravitating towards less lengthy posts when the action gets going.

    So saying, Lineir staring straight up into the horrifying ring of teeth actually didn't even try to escape. In fact, he actually dodged back into the center of the shadow in the split second before the mouth crashed into the ground. As the dust settled, the False Water Serpent raised its head in a smug fashion jaws clamped tightly together. It began to slither its upper body back into the water, but soon began to writhe in annoyance! Anyone watching would be utterly confused as to what it was doing, it looked like it was shaking its head!

    Shua Shua Shua Lineir's bone scythes were out and he flailed around with them continuously in the mouth, random sporadic bursts of alternating darkness or lightning emitted on the edges, cutting into the tissue or shocking it. When the teeth had come down, Lineir had actually jumped up into the mouth to avoid being chomped! Inside, he had stabbed his sword into the side of the mouth, and had begun to violently slash around while holding himself on the flat of the blade with his knees to avoid falling into the throat of the beast. With every strike, handfuls of caustic hot blood would gush out into his face, stinging his eyes, and he was pretty much drowning in noxious saliva. But he refused to die! "I will not be made a meal, I am the survivor, I am the hunter, I am the consumer!" So saying, his bone scythes looking like fanged claws reaped great havoc on the inside of the mouth. However, this was just a trivial inconvenience to such a large beast. Indeed, while its mouth was relatively weak in terms of defenses, even Lineir's heaviest darkness imbued slashes barely left a half foot deep cut, to say nothing of the lightning sparks which didn't even make it feel a tingle. But Lineir would not quit. He was sick of being someone else's lunch.

    "Kiddo, while I admire your spirit, there's no hope in cutting up the mouth, once it enters the water, you will drown regardless of whether or not it can swallow you!" Mei was despondent. She had rather grown accustomed to Lineir, and could be said to genuinely consider him as her one and only disciple. To lose him so soon before he could spread his wings and claws and ascend to the sky was too cruel. Simple mistakes in life could cause such great problems. As if to emphasize how hopeless the situation was, the saliva in the water increased and Lineir was swung about to the point where he thought his head would explode and he would be flung off his sword into the dark belly of the beast. Still, he madly swung, one arm after the other slashing anything he could reach. He was now covered in red, baptized in fiery acidic spittle. Soon after, Mei's prediction came true and the mouth began to flood with water as the serpent entered the river. The water level rose slowly, the False Serpent didn't want to open its jaws completely, lest Lineir escape through its teeth. It made Lineir's escape simply impossible.

    The water began to almost reach Lineir, and covered in so much slippery liquid, his knees dropped and he slid off the sword towards the gullet. With superb reflexes, he grabbed the handle of the sword, still incomparably sharp and embedded into the mouth, and hung on for dear life. Taking one hand off, he viciously continued to slash, causing the False Water Serpent no small toothache. Furious, it began to roll as it swam, and the water inside its mouth swirled around buffeting Lineir's bruised and burned body. This did not deter Lineir, even as Mei cried, "I'm sorry, I'll make sure to stop your heart and not let you die painfully to the acid in the belly." The sword, actually slid out of the side of the mouth on one of those stomach turning rolls, and was awash with Lineir in the mouth. A great suction arose from the back, but he never gave up. Powerfully, he furiously managed to half swim, half kick his way to another section of the mouth, closer to the dark aperture of the throat, stabbed the sword in again, and began sawing away again, this fresh section yielding more and more blood. At this point, the water inside the mouth had turned a vile red. 

    The False Water Serpent at this point was simply astonished. Never before had anything ever had the tenacity to survive for this long in its mouth. Between beast and man, both of which the False Water Serpent had consumed countless of, it had never known such stubbornness and tenacity and sheer willpower for survival as it found in this small youth today! However, the wounds it suffered, while painful, were barely scratches to it, and it decided to finally end this affair. Powerfully swimming up with meter after meter of coiled muscle, it opened its mouth on the ascent and allowed water to flood in at an insane rate, there was absolutely no hope of escape. It burst into the sky with its jaws wide open, leaping high up in a curving spiral, a spectacular sight in between the shores, a rising serpent framed behind a glaring midday sun, and then snapped its jaws shut and swallowed. 

    Instantly as the False Water Serpent had ascended, Lineir was scoured clean off the walls. However, his tenacity was such, that he actually held onto the sword as it was yanked from the flesh and he tumbled around wildly in the mouth filled with whirling water. Around and around he went, and he sighed to himself and Mei, "Perhaps my path really does end here...there is nothing more I can do to resist." So saying, he stopped struggling futilely to right himself and sank down as the water, which was actually soothing his burned skin, was flushed down, the mouth rippling in a giant gulp. Into the dark opening of the throat he settled, and sighed, "Don't stop my heart Mei, even if I beg for it as I am consumed. Even if I can survive for one more moment, that is my path." Then he was gone, the sword still clutched tightly in his hands. 
  • edited August 2015
    Chapter 23- Cracking of the Second Pillar
    Mmmm tasty 300 views on one chapter post. You guys are really thirsty for the action. Well, here's a bit more. Enjoy the snack. The beginning is a continuation of the events in Pillarfall (originally the prologue) so if you need a refresher, head back to that chapter.

    Somewhere far away, another pillar crumbled. Of the One Hundred and Four Pillars which held the world together, only one hundred and two remained. Many magical beasts, and even some of the more perceptive mystics and eccentric hermits felt a strange twinge deep in their Second Hearts and cores. The natural order had become disturbed and was roiling up. They didn't know what this mean't, but the strange feeling brought a tear to their eyes. 

    "You broke the Second. I'm amazed you got this far... but I don't have any words for you this time. When you go to kill my sisters, remember that my curse is upon you, as is the curse of my first sister. Everything you do is part of the plan, your wicked intentions are simply souring your karma. The Mistress of Fate ascertains all things, and you are still part of her plan." This second maiden was the same as the first, proud and unwavering in her belief of the order of Fate. She too lay there bleeding as the first, as the screens behind went wild, displaying scene after scene which should not be. In the final one, a boy in the belly of a beast flying above a beautiful river showed, before the screen winked out. The white robed figure, stained in even more crimson than the first, was expressionlessly standing over her body.

    "The Mistress can only hold sway over what she can see. But as the pillars fall and the time of end nears, will she still be able to control us all? I don't think so." He walked out with no fanfare, he had grown used to these things. Great cracks rent the entire pillar as ever larger chunks began to shake and tremble and fall. Heaps of rocks crashed down, and it was as if the time of end had already drawn near to this place. All things come to an end, and this pillar which had stood for eternity had finally been subjected to the workings of time.


    Rumble...Rumble....Rumble... Falling fragments of the heavenly pillar graced the air and tumbled down to the world of mortals below. However, as they fell, they broke and skittered across an invisible barrier dividing the Heavens and earth. So they would stay until the Great Seal of Fate was unable to maintain their weight.

    Scitter, scitter, scrabble, scrabble, peice after peice of fallen pillar rained down and began to gather in piles on this invisible barriers. Below, in the world of mortals, for a second, the light of the heavens dimmed, but this was only for an imperceptible moment to most. To a chosen few however... this moment might as well have been eternity. Great figures which had slumbered for eons felt this flicker, and in the lack of the light of the Heavens, stirred. This was their time to awaken, and they were so very, very hungry...



    In the darkness of the belly, Lineir floated, painfully half aware of his surroundings. The acidic stomach juices would slowly digest him eventually. He didn't have any energy left to resist. While he didn't know it, the False Water Serpent had begun to fall back down to the river, its spectacular jump exhausted. However, at the height of its arcing flight path, it had blocked out the midday sun from below. As it fell though, for an instant, the bright rays were distorted and they dimmed though the serpent had long since past the peak of its flight. This mean't little to Lineir though, who enveloped in a lightless place suffered unimaginable pain as his skin was stripped off. He would not give though and beg Mei to stop his heart, this was his path. The path of surviving till the last moment possible, until nothing could survive anymore, and then some. 

    "Disciple, I cannot bear to see this, soon, the bareness of your muscles will be visible, and then your bones. Let me end your pain!" Mei cried out, helplessly, she felt no small pain at the hideousness of Lineir's skin slowly dissolving. This was a terrible death to watch even for someone as experienced as her. At least in a fair fight between cultivators, most duels would end quickly as one was instantly destroyed. This slow painful way to go was just too much. Lineir could only answer in his mind, his lungs were filled with spent air and water, he hadn't taken a breath since entering the pool of acid.

    "Mei-Mei! Don't you dare let me die prematurely, if you respect your disciple at all, Mei-Mei!" At that moment, Lineir felt a great tug in his Second Heart. The attractive force increased ten fold, no a hundred fold, no a thousand! The red colored element in his body surged and began to swirl into his center at his words. However.....

    His statement shocked Mei, but simultaneously something even more shocking occurred. From outside, a booming deep thunderous noise, like the cracklings of an entire storms worth of lightning at once came. 

    GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     With a huge cracking noise, Lineir smashed to the bottom of the belly, the great swirling vortex inside of him stopped as he was violently cracked against the inner belly. The red elemental energy receded back into his veins as the pull went, and on his burning eyelids, a light fell. From whence he came, the neck of the beast, the glaring light of the just setting sun was seeping in, an entire chunk of armored flesh had been punched through as one might stab through a bottle. 




  • edited August 2015
      Chapter 24- Final Heart
    Lalallaa 16 hours of sleep and I'm getting the legendary oversleep headache

    The streaming torrent of light which came in became a raging tide. With a world shaking metallic and fleshy tearing noise, the entire head of the False Water Serpent was torn off as more and more holes were punched. A deep sonorous booming could be heard every few seconds as tremendous amounts of air were displaced.

    Whoomph, Whoomph, Whoomph, The serpents decapitated body had been punctured in so many places that the stomach juices inside had leaked out into empty air. It was clear that rather than falling back down into the lake, something had caught the beast in midair and torn it apart. As the stomach juices drained out from no less than ten separate holes, Lineir fainted on the fleshy sides of the rapidly emptying stomach. He quickly found  himself in that mental space with the incredibly beautiful Mei.

    "Wake up, wake up! This is not the time to be sleeping! You need to wake up before you're eaten along with the serpent, then you'll be in the same position as before!" Mei rushed forward and frantically began to shake Lineir. However, he simply stood there and said, "I don't think I can... no matter how I try I'm still here. Until I recover some strength, I think I'm stuck in here." So saying, he sat down on the colorless floor and waited. Mei hesitated for a moment, and realizing that there was nothing for it, sat down with him. Lineir cast his mind about for some topic, he hadn't been back here since his first meeting, and while he heard Mei's voice in his head all the time, it was quite different face to face with such a beauty. He had to keep reminding himself, "Incomparably powerful...will stop my heart...  I'm her disciple." Eventually, he thought, 

    "So I remember you said you aren't an immortal sword. But everything I've heard of tells me that you must be. What exactly are you?" Lineir quickly blurted out. This was an excellent time to learn more about Mei, provided he didn't get digested or eaten while he was learning. Mei responded quickly,

    "On your continent, you call every strong sword an immortal sword. However, this is not the case. In reality, there is far more to the path of cultivation than the broken fragments left here. To answer your question, I am a spirit in a sword. You could say I am the sword, but I'm really just using it as a home to help me stay tethered to this plane. As for the sword I'm in, I had better explain to you how swords of power are classified." She shifted a little closer, Lineir however was too engrossed in this explanation to care anymore. 

    "Immortal swords, are the lowest category of swords. Indeed, when a cultivator begins to reach the first stages of real cultivation, a step which you are very close to reaching, provided you don't die before you wake up, his or her sword can be classified as an immortal sword. Why is this? This is because through channeling his or her energy into a sword, it will naturally begin to become refined and gain a connection with the Heavens and Hell itself. This transformation creates a sort of link between the sword and its user. The user can almost control the sword as if it is part of them. But that is just the beginning of the way of the sword. True users of the way of the sword will actually hold in their sword large portions of their own power. There are numerous advantages to this which you will learn about later when you reach this stage. This is why the lost swords of fallen warriors are so treasured and revered by cultivators. If they are found, and the cultivator can bind them to their will, the power inside will become theirs and one can rapidly become far stronger than they should be simply from the sword they carry." Lineir nodded thoughtfully. This made sense, but it still didn't explain his question, "So what are you?"

    Mei sighed, "Patience, I was getting to that. As I said, immortal swords are but the first step, before true power is even infused into the blade. Beyond that step...are deathblades. These swords have been infused with the power of a cultivator who has completely stepped out of the realm of mortality. That is to say, someone who has become so powerful as to defy the heavens and live forever, not aging unless they choose to. True immortals. Don't get me wrong, while I say that these are immortal, that is only in the sense that they will not die of natural causes, they can still be killed by injury, or strong maladies. However...the path of immortality is not something to be walked by the weak or weak-willed. Up till this point, the main source of acquiring energy has been meditation and natural absorption. But there is a reason these swords are called deathblades. Can you guess?" Lineir frowned. He had a feeling he already knew what Mei was going to say.

    "The fastest way to progress past the immortal sword stage and reach immortality is to absorb the cultivation of others. That is...to slaughter and slaughter and claim other's Second Hearts. Thus...the immortal swords become weapons of countless murders and gain the name Deathblades when the user leaves behind his last shred of mortality.This is one of the the true paths of cultivation and it is rent with the blood and dieing shivers of others. If you manage to survive this stage, there is more though. Eventually, when a sword has been imbued with enough power, remember that frequently, among those who truly walk the sword, a good deal of their power is stored in the sword, it can be said to have gained the title of Final Heart. That is to say, so much power has accumulated in the blade that it has gained the ability to absorb power on its own. Remember, power attracts power, the reason your Second Heart can attract the energy of the elements is because of the laws laid down by the Heavens and Fates, but if a large enough mass of power were to gather together, the attractive force would be so great as to become self sustaining. Few have ever reached this stage, through slaughter, or meditation, but those who achieve the stage of the Final Heart have escaped the bounds of the laws laid down by Fate and have power to change worlds on a whim. That is... I did, until my body died. That is what you hold in your unworthy hands disciple. A Final Heart, my Final Heart."
  • edited August 2015
    Chapter 25-The Unbound One

    Argh after a bajillion all nighters, I'm slowly approaching a normal sleep cycle... kinda. So not worth it. Ah but life goes on. Maybe one more chapter later today.


    Lineir was shocked for a moment. He had not realized exactly of how much significance this sword was to Mei. It was equivalent to him holding part of her vast cultivation base in his hand. As a matter of fact, with her body gone, it was her entire cultivation base, literally her Final Heart. While he was shocked though, Mei went on,

    "But disciple, there is one more stage. An existence so strong that even Fate itself was once forced to bow down and bend for. Would you like to know about...The Unbound One?" Mei's voice dropped low and she leaned infinitely closer. As such a great beauty came closer, Lineir was unfazed this time, his focus drawn by the movement of her lips. Those who truly seek the path of cultivation would be unfazed by simple things as mortal attraction. He was much more interested in what she had to say. 

    "The Unbound One? I've never heard of such a thing. What is it? Who is it?" He wasn't really sure which question he was asking. Such a being didn't sound human anymore. Perhaps it never had been. Mei's answer was clear on a few things, but clearly her knowledge was not complete.

    "The Unbound One, is a being with such power that instead of keeping his cultivation base inside of the body, or the sword, it is completely separate from both. His cultivation base has attracted so much power that it is like a dark hole, constantly absorbing all energy around him. Thus, it is actually not even necessarily located on his body, it could be anywhere. That is to say... he can survive without an actual physical presence. I know this because I learned from him myself. Or so I think." Mei's words were said slowly, with great care. She clearly didn't want to make any mistakes in her wording. Lineir was puzzled,

    "What do you mean, you met him? He's human?" His questions were unending, this Unbound One was extremely mysterious. He couldn't understand how someone could survive without a physical presence. Mei tried to explain,

    "Well you see, it would be more accurate to say I learned from his teachings.  Long ago, while I was still far more powerful than you now, I wasn't that strong compared to others in my plane. However, I chanced upon a strange sword in my travels. I couldn't tell whether this sword had fallen from the Heavens or had surfaced from Hell, but I can say that the devastation surrounding it when it appeared was absolute. Your body is holding the same sword I'm speaking of. Inside the twisted dark lightning, in the hands of one powerful enough, it is possible to sense terrible runes that are near impossible to comprehend. Given great fortune, and a number of coincidences, I managed to do just that. My ultimate technique, the The Twin Path of Lightning and Darkness, which you have seen a small demonstration of, is but a copy of one of the techniques I was able to understand from these runes. But this was the world of cultivation, and every power comes with a price. When the world learned of this  technique, cultivators the world over swarmed at me as if Fate itself had turned on me. You know the rest of that story." 

    Lineir sighed. The world of cultivation vicious. Even an expert such as Mei, armed with an ultimate technique, had been unable to hold out against the vastness of it. Compared to himself, who wasn't even an ant to a fragment of her soul, it really felt too huge. Mei wasn't done though,

    "There's one more thing you should know however... I'm not telling you about The Unbound One as a fun story. While I learned several techniques of a slightly lesser scale than the Twin Path of Lightning and Darkness, these are all higher order ultimate attacking techniques. But I learned something else. If the world had known I had this, they would surely still be scouring random world after random world hoping to find this. That is, the final forbidden inner technique which I spent almost all the energy I had carefully saved for years on. The Nine Paths of Asura. The ultimate inner technique which I placed in you!" Mei's voice had gradually risen throughout this. In fact, by the end she actually sounded a little angry. Clearly, the amount of energy she had spent on Lineir was no small matter. There was one question Lineir had to ask though,

    "But I'm still so weak! What are you talking about? Wouldn't I be able to tell if there was such a powerful technique in me?" Mei's voice calmed down a little. Lineir was not to blame for this, and she hadn't had a choice at the time. While she feigned indifference, who knows how long it would have taken before she was discovered again that time. 

    "Well disciple, I only used this technique, and the other prerequisite forbidden techniques on you at the time because I had no choice. To be truthful, while I know what to do for the technique, I honestly don't know what it does!! The only thing I knew was that while you were on the verge of death, remaking your body with these techniques would save your life which flickered like a candle. How to train this technique, the limits of its power, if there are any, almost everything but the name, The Nine Paths of Asura, I do not know. As a matter of fact, from what little I do know, besides granting your body some small benefits initially, and making you capable of surviving the heavy blood loss at the time, you may not even gain any noticeable effects later on if you do not meet the prerequisites for this. My efforts may all have been wasted wuwu..." So saying, Mei looked like she was going to cry. Seeing his beautiful teacher who was always composed, or at least angry, look like this, Lineir panicked. He didn't know what to do, and in the end, his gut feeling took over, seeing the incredibly short Mei in such a situation, he leaned over and gently patted her on the top of her head. Instantly, she froze, and Lineir did too as he got a premonition of death, as if the scythe of a reaper was hanging right in front of his neck.


  • edited August 2015
    Chapter 26- Strange Noises

    The soft almost crying noise had cut out immediately at his touch. Lineir was paralyzed as a very small animal was when looking into the eyes of a cat. He kept very still as if Mei could pounce at any time. His hand still on her head, Mei's eyes slowly came up from the ground and stared viciously into his. The intent was clear, and Lineir knew that his end was near.

    "YOU DARE!!!!!!!!!"

    Mei’s small hands were reaching up with alarming speed towards his neck when Lineir’s eyes opened and he found himself gagging on lingering stomach acid as his torn body flailed about. “Owwww…I’m alive. There’s even light in the stomach of the False Water Serpent, what the hell happened!” So saying, he also chuckled, it was a good thing he woke up or he might have died. “I’m probably the only person ever to be glad to wake up inside the stomach of a water serpent.” Painfully, he stood up on the squishy belly tissue.

     

    Squeltch Squeltch

     

     “This is freaking disgusting!” Lineir complained. He half expected Mei to call him out for complaining, but she was definitely mad at him and his thoughts were the only ones in his head. “Come on, I was only trying to comfort you, it was an instinct! Mei-Mei you should be glad to have such a caring disciple, don’t be angry.” it was useless though, all he got was silence. Shrugging with a wince, his burns were amazingly almost all healed, he made his way to one of the gleaming streams of light. Whatever had happened, it had definitely killed the False Water Serpent, not only was the head ripped clean off, leaving a large gaping hole at the top of the stomach, the whole body had been ripped around. With a shudder, Lineir hopped out of the hole onto a stony floor. The body was too torn up, it could collapse at any moment and he doubted he’d survive that, forbidden techniques or not.

     

    Tacka Tacka

     

                The rocky floors were a soothing cold on his burned feet as they slapped on the hard surface. His clothes had been completely eaten away by acid in some places, it was amazing that he hadn’t been digested. “If my clothes are like this… then how tough is my body to have survived and to have actually healed once the stomach acids had drained out? What happened… I remember a roar… and then getting smacked around. I swore for a moment the red elemental energy was finally fusing. I must have imagined it…” He quickly circulated the energy in his Second Heart and ascertained that indeed, the only energies inside were clearly lightning and darkness. “Where am I?”

     

                In front of him the setting sun was shining, and he realized he was on the precipice of a sheer cliff. The place he had come was a vast cavernous cave in which the headless body of the False Water Serpent lay, the incoming light illuminating terrifying wounds all along its length. Mei still refused to say anything and Lineir panicked for a moment. The sword! Where was the sword which was Mei’s Final Heart. He frantically looked around and finally a familiar irate and tart voice came into his mind, “Oh, finally looking for me? You won’t be able to find me, I already turned back into liquid form and am currently inside your heart again. Until you’ve properly trained yourself you can keep your hands off of me!” She lapsed back into silence and Lineir sighed. “This is definitely not me fault, I told you it was a reaction!”

     

                Stomping his way back to the corpse, he tried to figure out what could have caused all this to happen. The serpent had leapt out of the lake, that much was clear, it was falling after Lineir had entered the belly of the beast, but before it landed, it stopped. Something must have caught it. For something to have caught it however, it must have been massive. Furthermore, it must have been able to fly. Lineir froze, “Those goats…we never found any tracks. Whatever killed them was either really small… or it killed them from the sky!” He whipped his head from the corpse lying in the cave back outside to the bright sky and scanned the horizon furiously. Whatever had done this could be flying out there right now. Suddenly, a loud noise came from behind the corpse of the False Water Serpent.

     

    SSSSShhhhhssssssss….

     

    Lineir almost jumped off the edge of the cliff before he realized that whatever had done this couldn’t possibly fit behind the corpse. The cave was too small. “There’s no way… it’s just the wind. I need to find a way out of here before whatever did this comes back for the night!”

     

    SSSSShhhhhssssssss….

     

                The long dragging hiss came again! Lineir became a statue as he listened intently, trying to figure it out. “Whatever it is can’t be that large… there’s no room” He started taking small steps, quietly making his way around the corpse. Eventually, he found his way around and saw… Nothing! There was nothing behind the corpse. But where the hell was the sound coming from then?

     

    SSSSShhhhhssssssss….

     

                Lineir paled. The sound had come from behind him. Whirling around, his bone scythes came out to find… just the scaly hide of the dead False Water Serpent, riddled with gaping holes. “There’s nothing here, the False Water Serpent is clearly dead. What is making that noise!” Frustrated, he delivered a thunderous kick to the dead serpent’s hide. “This is your fault!” he shouted aloud. “Why’d you have to try and eat me huh? I was just trying to hunt a first tier magical beast and you had to go and eat me alive! That hurt!” He slashed the hide with his scythes, but it was to little effect, even dead the scales were hard as rock.

     

    CLANG! The bone blades bounced off, but they made a loud noise. At the same time, the hissing came again only to cut off abruptly.

     

    SSSSShhhhhssssssss….hhhaaaaah!?? Lineir unable to tell where the noise was coming from backed up from the corpse and crouched next to the wall, ready for anything. Strange popping noises appeared, and the corpse began to shift and wriggle as if something was inside it.

     

    “Mei, please help me out, I could really use a sword right now!” As Lineir entered legitimate danger, black liquid quickly flowed out in small streams and the sword appeared once again in his hands. "I hope whatever it is eats you!" No advice came from Mei, though it was clear from her actions that she wasn't angry enough to let him fight weaponless. Lineir however already had his own plan of action. Inching on tip toe, he made his way with utmost care around the corpse. If he could just get to the entrance of the cave, he might be able to climb out! While it was a steep and sheer cliff, with his bone scythes to stab into the rock, let alone Mei, and his increased endurance, he felt with reasonable confidence that he wouldn't fall to his death. "Even if I fall... it's still better than getting eaten right?" 


    As he had almost made it past the corpse, he was at the gaping neck which had been torn open, the corpse suddenly rippled violently from a great force.


    SQUELCH, SQUELCH, BOOM!


  • edited September 2015

    Chapter 27- Talon

    Sorry forums is not being forgiving with the formatting and I had to go pick someone up from the airport. Anyways, enjoy.


    Lineir terrified made to flee from the noise, but froze as a strange rippling growl echoed throughout the chamber. 

    "Grawr?"

    Standing on two legs was a noble looking girl of average height with long red hair and a solid red gown so long she was stepping on it. Looking closely, there was actually a spot of white. “That dress couldn’t have been white originally… that would mean the whole thing is bathed in…blood?” Lineir wasn’t a fool. As unbelievable as it was, the hunk of raw meat in her left hand was clearly torn from the super tough False Water Serpent’s corpse. She had been eating the thing from the inside out! Mei realized this at the same time and gave up her fake silence, “Hurry and run, that girl is not what she seems!” Lineir began to sprint for the entrance again, but he knew that wasn’t an escape option now that he’d been discovered, “What do you want me to, jump off and fly? There’s no way I can climb down faster than a snail’s pace without falling!”

    However, he ran anyways because he had no choice, and it was better to do something than to stand around and become a stain on her gown. He didn’t make it far. From his back came five flaring spots of pain as something small smacked into his back and he was shoved onto his elbows, the bone scythes coming out to brace him. Trying to prop himself up on the sharp blades, he turned to see what was behind him, only to catch a glimpse of swirling red and a foot with five talons pressed down on him with ungodly strength. Cheek against the hard ground he could only helplessly look back and slowly retract his bone scythes as Mei quietly also returned to liquid form and seeped back into his veins. “Hi! I mean you no harm, as you can see, I was just leaving!” He was rather proud of the fact that his voice only trembled slightly while saying this. The girl with her taloned foot on his back only pressed down harder and unable to breath, he shut up.

    “Were you trying to assassinate me? If you were, you’re a poor assassin, you woke me up!” The girl showed absolutely no fear of Lineir, and after deciding for a moment, actually took her foot off his back. “What clan do you belong to? I don’t recognize those strange claws on your arm.”

    She tapped his elbow with a talon, Lineir noticed that they were incredibly sharp, and actually gave him a little cut just poking him. Not daring to get up, he replied,

    “I have no clan, I happened to be inside the belly of that False Water Serpent when it was plucked from the sky. Speaking of which, where are we, whatever did that must have been incredibly strong, we should leave this cave immediately!” The girl simply laughed at Lineir though,

    “Oh, is that where you came from? As incredible a story as that is, you’re too weak to be an assassin. Don’t worry, I won’t eat you, I only eat magical beasts, cultivators aren’t very tasty. You’ll have to get out of here on your own though, I’m not interested in whether or not you slip and fall. Off you go, and remember, if anyone comes and finds me here, you’ll be the first one I hunt down and rip apart. I have your scent now…” She bent over and sniffed the back of Lineir’s head, making goosebumps appear everywhere and then went back to the False Water Serpent’s corpse. Turning from Lineir, seemingly uncaringly, she launched a thunderous kick with her clawed foot and punched right through the scales. Upon pulling it back, a hunk of meat was trapped between and she retrieved it with her hands and began eating it raw. She had literally no fear of turning her back to Lineir at all. He was below her presence. Mei quickly urged the dumbstruck Lineir to hurry up,

    “Come on, get climbing before she changes her mind! Whatever she is, she is far beyond your power, be thankful she isn’t hungry enough to bother with you!” Immediately Lineir scrambled over the edge, trying to ignore the three hundred meter drop to the green forest below. Stabbing his elbow blades into the edges of a crack in the rock, he began the long and painful process of finding a way down the sheer cliff. While at first, it was tough going, he soon got used to using the bone blades, which were extremely hard and sharp as picks to assist him on his way down. As he went, he discussed with Mei.

    “What was that Mei, she was way too small to have made all those holes in the False Water Dragon’s body, but she was definitely eating it!” Mei wasn’t sure,

    “Clearly somebody powerful, to be able to cut through a peak 5th tier magical beast with a talon, she must be somebody with an incredible background. In fact, I suspect she may not be human, but a magical beast assuming human form! Only tenth tier and above magical beasts can do this. I have never been so glad to have such a weak and puny disciple! She never even considered you a threat and thus you lived. I cannot tell if Fate itself is taunting me like this, truly an odd coincidence for you to meet such a being and survive in the wilderness.” Lineir was awed, he hadn’t known that magical beasts could assume human form.

    “Really, magical beasts can actually change into human form? That’s incredible, but I don’t know. I couldn’t tell anything about her at all.” Mei’s tone was condescending,

    “Your world is too small. What you have to understand is that humanity is but a small portion of the many powerful beings in the universe. Indeed, in my world, powerful magical beasts were as common as raindrops in a hurricane, and there was practically no distinction between human and beast experts. I do find it odd though, what a strange place for a powerful being to hang out. I wonder what her true form is?” Eventually, Lineir took one last swing with his aching arms, and managed to drop down to solid ground. At that moment he felt an odd sensation, as if raindrops were falling, though the setting sun was nestled in a clear sky, devoid of clouds. “Say Mei, is it raining?” Looking at his arms, he tried to figure out what was on them. Presently, another sensation came to him, and he flinched as he looked at the crimson liquid, which had splashed down and splattered on his hand. “Blood?” 
  • edited August 2015


  • the large text is a bit of an eyesore when reading in my phone. is it possible to reduce the text size? i want to try reading this but the format just puts me off.
  • edited August 2015
    popoy16 said:

    the large text is a bit of an eyesore when reading in my phone. is it possible to reduce the text size? i want to try reading this but the format just puts me off.

    Sorry I've been worried about people not being able to read it because it was too small (I use a decent sized comp monitor) I've downgraded to font 3 in the forums writer, let me know if that doesn't work for you. I'm moving in this weekend and stuff, but should have some time later tonight to format if there's a problem.
  • popoy16 said:

    the large text is a bit of an eyesore when reading in my phone. is it possible to reduce the text size? i want to try reading this but the format just puts me off.

    Sorry I've been worried about people not being able to read it because it was too small (I use a decent sized comp monitor) I've downgraded to font 3 in the forums writer, let me know if that doesn't work for you. I'm moving in this weekend and stuff, but should have some time later tonight to format if there's a problem.



    wow tnx for the fast fix. font size works for me both in my mobile browser and laptop.

    just started reading it and i find it interesting. looking forward to how the story develops.
  • edited September 2015
    Chapter 28- The Beast Inside 
    So sorry! I know I promised I'd get a chapter out, but unfortunately, I'm going to have to delay for a while longer. Move in took a lot longer than I thought, and I'm currently signed up for way more stuff than I should be. Until I drop a couple of classes and get some things sorted out in my apartment like the wifi and a/c, I won't be able to put up regular posts. Sorry! I will try to get some chapters out later in the week when things quiet down to make up for it.

    "GRAAAAAWWRRRR!!!!" 

    The terrifying roar which shook Lineir's bones came from the very cave he had just left. The sun was at the tipping point where the light clung to the edge of the horizon as one might hang from a cliff. Large splatters of falling red signified that some terrible event was happening up above. As he watched, experts soared in on flying swords, alighted, and rushed into the cave. They came three or four at a time, and without fail rushed in, by now there must have been a dozen. Angry roars and shouts sounded out, and it was clear that death was at hand. 

    "Graaaawwwwrrrrr!!!" 

    This time, as the roar rang out, another dozen or so cultivators rode in, all wearing a distinctly purple robe. The cliff began to shake, and the blood coming out came even more frequently. Lineir began to jog away. This was clearly a battle far beyond him right now, and he had no desire to implicate himself. As a matter of fact... 

    "**** if that girl survives this battle, she might think I led those people there!" 

    He sped up, still looking over his shoulder, the sounds of battle suggesting it was far from over. Then... a dozen new  cultivators flew in, also in purple robes, bringing the total count to over three dozen! There was a pause, and some indistinct words were said. The torn purple clothed bodies of several experts were tossed unceremoniously out of the cave mouth, and thunderous steps were heard. 

    Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump

    It was clear that something massive was coming out, despite being at least a hundred meters from the base of the cave, Lineir could feel the ground shaking beneath his feet. From the entrance burst out a  red colored shadow as the sun tipped beyond the horizon. He found himself shaking as he realized what it was. With wings like vast sails and talons which were the size of a fully grown man, a crimson bloody dragon burst out from the entrance roaring as cultivators were sent flying from its headlong rush. Immediately, Lineir threw himself into some thick underbrush and prayed that he wouldn't be noticed. "She was a ******* dragon!!!"

    Mei was also shaken, "That's no ordinary dragon. To take human form, as I said, probably a tenth tier or higher magical beast! But she seemed too human, I believe she's not so simple. Indeed, those pools of blood, looking at her body I didn't see many wounds. Most of that was definitely from these invading cultivators! You'd best hope you don't run into her again, she may assume that you led them here, the timing was just too perfect. To take on over three dozen cultivators single-handedly and escape, she can only be called a monster!" Lineir was still in a bush, trying to avoid popping up. Through the leaves, he counted less than two dozen cultivators exiting the cave, clearly the price had been high, and yet their target had gotten away! He definitely didn't want anything to do with them. Fortunately, they shot off in all directions, searching for the red dragon which had already flown far more quickly into the distance with its wings. "Those fools, relying on immortal swords to fly, compared to a creature of magic with natural wings, how can they hope to catch up? Let's go disciple, I think it's time for you to leave the wilderness for a while and pay a visit to a city. I'm sure that your infamy has died down a little, and you need to sell some of the materials you've gained for some things which can only be obtained from others. Besides, with these developments, it would be good to blend in for  a while and lose yourself. Not only have you attracted the unwelcome attention of an expert, but spending too much time in the wilderness has adverse affects on your psyche. Some have been known to lose themselves and become more beast than man..."


  • edited September 2015

    Chapter 29- A Way In

    Hatcha! Still alive, managed to write a little on the side... Had to write this on a mac and email it to myself and then c and p it in so yea... formatting is terrible. Sorry for the wait.



    Darkness had truly fallen, the twinges of red in the sky had slipped below the event horizon leaving only the night. From this point out, Lineir trekked carefully, though he was actually cultivating. Mei was subconsciously guiding his body, he simply followed as he gleaned ever deeper insights into his inner self. It quickly became apparent that inside of him, compared to how he had been before undergoing a journey through the False Water God’s stomach, his Second Heart had grown. The darkness and lightning aspects were deeper and richer in color, and the spinning tug was growing ever stronger. Lineir had grown far more attuned to himself as well. He could almost feel the base energies permeating the air being drawn to him.



    His six sense was even sharper than before. Twice, he suddenly felt rather than saw some threat just beyond the trees, and quickly turned the other way. The world left an imprint on his senses which he could feel more intimately and as instinctively as the strongest touch. Even Mei was astounded,

    “How did you know to avoid the Three Tailed Howling Wolf Pack? Their killing intent was well disguised, and their physical camouflage was without flaw.” Lineir simply chuckled under his breath as he passed by the hidden beasts.

    “I’m not sure, but I can feel their killing intent as easily as I hear your voice, I was hoping you could explain it to me master.” Mei was speechless, it was unheard of even in her lands for someone so young and weak in cultivation to be so attuned to killing intent. She could only speculate,

    “I haven’t heard of this before, I think… it may have something to do with the Nine Paths of Asura. I suspect that this may be one of the hidden benefits of this technique. Be happy, if this really is something to do with this, that means that you fit the requirements to gain some benefits. Perhaps my cultivation wasn’t wasted on you after all!” Clearly, Mei was still sore about losing out on her accumulated energy that time, and she really hoped that Lineir could fulfill her expectations.

    In time, Lineir stealthily managed to follow several minor tributaries to the major rivers. He quickly found himself at the same shores, which he had been plucked from earlier. From here, he gained his bearings. He set out a new course.

    “It’s time to go to Dracherus. I have some debts to settle.”

    A few days passed by without incident. During which, Lineir hunted a few weak first tier beasts for their cores and materials, but mostly continued in as straight a line as possible out of the wilderness. By now, his reputation out to have faded, and he shouldn’t have to worry about pursuers from Brackenrock or those bandits. As he neared the city, he more frequently began to encounter other travelers. He gave them a wild berth, with his sharp senses, and Mei’s vigilant watch over him, he could easily choose whether or not to meet another traveler before they actually came into sight. For now, until he knew more, he deemed it prudent to avoid all contact.

    At the gates, Lineir tensed, ready to be called out, but Dracherus was a far larger city than Brackenrock, and the traffic flow was far too wide for individuals to be casually monitored. He easily entered the city, and even didn’t have to pay a fee. This city had a special system, unlike most, where merchants would have to pay taxes to the treasury based on how much they sold. This was in contrast to most cities which simply charged a flat tariff for entering. While the city missed out on travelers who were only passing through and did not buy anything, it gained more taxes from the merchant’s side as when they sold more, the city gained more. Thus more customers would enter the city since there was no fee, and more sales were potentially made leading to more revenue. Of course, this was just the reasoning of this particular city. Most adhered to a standard entrance fee, and it could be said that this was a bit unusual. For Lineir though, entering the city without anyone getting a good look at his face was quite nice. In ragged half burned clothes, he quickly searched for somewhere to sell his loot. At the moment, he was penniless and could only hope to sell some magical beast materials so he might be able to buy some new cloths.

    Having entered from the side which bordered the wilderness entrance, markets were the first thing to catch the eye. Merchants and vendors of all sorts lined the streets and shouted out orders or tried to sell survival goods. The first wanted to purchase raw materials that mercenaries and adventurers brought in at cheap prices for export, and the latter was generally hoping to resupply those leaving the city to go and hunt.

    “Buying the hides and claws of Two Tailed Marsh Foxes, sixty coppers a hide!”

    “Selling red elixirs of life and black elixirs of death, don’t leave the city without restocking, prices negotiable!”

    And so on, it was clear that this market was incredibly varied, and was the largest for general goods as it was closest to the wilderness. Lineir walked around and quickly found people who were looking for what he had, which was at this point mostly smaller internal parts of magical beasts, similar to the handy canteen he had made from the goat. Unfortunately, his tumbling affair had destroyed his clothing and most of his loot had been lost. Luckily, the most valuable loot was in the smaller things, for instance some of the larger teeth from the worm he had slain actually managed to gain him a silver a piece! This was equal to many hides that were much larger, and it became apparent that tiered magical beast materials sold for much higher amounts than more mundane goods. Immediately, Lineir used a silver to purchase a new set of clothes to replace his rags, several merchants had been yelling at him to try out their outfits this whole time, and he was glad to finally get a change. Having sold what little he had, he quickly left the market and tried to find a place to stay for the night.

    “SIX SILVERS!” Lineir’s cry in his mind made Mei laugh,

    “I told you, cities are places for those with money. For someone like you, they are simply a good way to empty your wallet. You better pay though, this is the sixth inn you’ve tried, and you’re not likely to get any cheaper than this. The food looks like a child prepared it. Tut tut” At that moment, a child ran out from the kitchen, balancing three plates and Mei stopped speaking. This place was so cheap they were employing child labor! The inn owner simply stared at Lineir as if to say, “What?” Letting younger children work in this service industry could be considered a good thing. Lineir himself knew this, as his sister had been working to support him and herself for a long time, but still… the child in front couldn’t have been more than five years old, this was pushing it. Lineir quickly shook his head and handed him the coins, leaving him with precious little to show for his life and death experience in the wilderness.

    “Sigh, I guess the true value of spending time in the wilderness is the experience and gains in cultivation. I’m certainly not going to become rich like this…”

    After a bath, Lineir could finally say he felt human again. He went down, and hung out by himself in a corner of the room. His goal was to find out more about this city, and its officials. He still owed a debt to the kind middle aged man who had shielded him with his own body. Lineir was determined to repay his kindness this time around. He needed to find a way to talk to the royal family. After he had spent half the night though, he was frustrated and could only shrug.

    “All night, I’ve been listening, but I can’t think of a way to meet the royal family! I don’t even have more than ten silvers on me, I couldn’t even bribe my way there." However, at that moment, one of the tables near the door caught his attention. The speakers were two gruff men, with weathered faces beaten by the elements into old age,

    "Ahhhhh the ale in this place hits the spot. Taste's worse than your wife's cooking! But it's three times as cheap!" A loud smack resounded as the other man landed one in the speaker's gut. "AKKKHHH That hurt mate, you better be saving that for the tournament, I hear the king himself will be attending, he'll make you a knight with that kind of strength."

  • edited September 2015

    Chapter 30 No Longer So Soft...

    Hey, sorry guys, irregular posts suck I know, but until I get my resume and cover letter sorted out and my classes fixed up, irregular they shall be. But I caught a coupla hours to write today so here's a fat cat for ya.



    Lineir’s ears were perked up like a cat’s, finally an opportunity

     

    “Hrmph, you’d better hope you don’t draw me as your opponent, I won’t hold back!” The men both went back upstairs early, leaving half their tankards of ale untouched. Clearly, they actually wanted to have an early night. Lineir sighed. To think, after all night, that was the end of his free information.

     

    “Cities really are money sinks!” He walked up to the counter and addressed the bartender, “So about those two fellows who just left.” The bartender smirked as he glanced over at the table Lineir was indicating and the unfinished ale and scraps. He had a patchy mottled face, and was the owner of the inn who had taken Lineir’s coin earlier. “Leftovers go to my hogs kid. Don’t care if you’re starving, you gotta buy your own food.” 


    Lineir quickly realized that the man thought he was begging for scraps.  Insulted he made his actual purpose known,

     

    “I’m not interested in your pig’s food, look, I want to know more about what they were talking about, a tournament? It sounds like something worth watching.” The innkeeper smiled. He knew an opportunity when he saw one, and this kind of thing happened on a frequent basis. He pursed his lips and tapped on the counter. Lineir, expecting this by now, he had quickly learned that nothing was free in the city, slid over a copper. The innskeeper smiled wider and tapped three more times. “Damnit I gave in too quick, he knows I’m interested.” He slid over three more and said,

     

    “Alright, I’m sure anyone could tell me about this. Tell me what you know already or I’ll ask someone else.” The bartender swept the coppers under the counter into a pocket somewhere and began to speak,

     

    “Yea kid, it’s kind of obvious your new. Anyone on the street could tell you about the royal tournament, its been posted for months now. Word to the wise, best to ask around first before you come to an information dealer, regular people don’t charge for gossip. But hey, more for me.” Lineir signaled to get on with it.

     

    “All right, the king of Dracherus has proclaimed a great tournament which just so happens to begin tomorrow. The winner will receive a nice sack of gold, recognition, and a fourth tier magical beast’s core. In fact, anyone who shows themselves well may be eligible for knighthood from the king himself, or various other nobles attending, and may join the private forces of said sponser. Anyone on the street could tell you this. But kid, since you paid me, and I wouldn’t want you to feel cheated, let me tell you a little something else. Between us information brokers, that fourth tier magical beast core, while certainly an item most of us ordinary people couldn’t touch, isn’t normal. Word is, it actually is a core from a Three Headed Hydra! The Three Headed Hydra is a mythical class beast, and thus the core’s value is actually equal to a low fifth tier core. The value of such an item is priceless here, its rarity is such that only a fool would accept gold for it. But there’s more…which I could tell you for a price.” The bartender rapped on the counter once more. Lineir, questioningly took out a single copper. The bartender smiled and shook his head. He rapped again. Mei quickly told Lineir to pay up,

     

    “This man clearly knows something good, whatever the price is, pay it, it’s only money, information on a mythical class beast core is far more important at your level. This could be a huge opportunity for you!” Sighing endlessly Lineir slid one of his last few silver coins to the man. Instantly it too was under the table and the bartender was clearing his throat.

     

    “Thank you, glad to see someone who appreciates good information. The tournament kiddo, if you were thinking of entering, don’t deny it I can see it in your eyes, is rigged. A little kid like you wouldn’t have been able to get past the prelims initially, but, even if by some miracle, your opponents got diarrhea and all left, you might as well give up now. This tournament is in fact a hand-off! The king of Dracherus has been harassed of late by various powers, don’t ask me why I don’t know what they’d want with this city.  In order to deal with this, the king has agreed to align himself with the Nero Sect. As such, the winner of the tournament will receive this core, and in fact, the king will present his daughter for marriage to seal the alliance. This tournament is really a public display so that the inner disciples of the Nero Sect can compete to see who will gain the core and marry into royalty. Each inner disciple has assess to martial arts and cultivation methods which a commoner like you can’t even dream of. Save yourself the time and buy a seat in the stands instead of entering, at least you’ll get to see something good instead of spending the day knocked out by some cultivator’s spiritual pressure.”

     

                Lineir thanked the bartender for the information and walked away.

     

    “If you ever need any more information, just come back here,  I’m the best dealer around kid. Your silver is safe with me hehehe.” Lineir simply shrugged, while he 

    had felt great pain inside, the urge to cough up blood at the loss of his precious silver had passed. The information he had gotten was truly more valuable. Mei was ecstatic,

     

    “Kiddo, this is excellent. You absolutely must enter this tournament, even if you lose you will only have gained valuable experience in fighting cultivators. These inner disciples may seem intimidating to ordinary men like that bartender, but I would estimate that this Nero Sect’s disciples absolutely cannot compare to you who has me to teach you. While you should not underestimate them, they have had a lifetime of training, your methods aren’t ordinary like theirs and you can make up for talent and time with unorthodox techniques. It would be good to shake up this place a little, you’ve spent too much time away from civilization. And if you were to win this mythical beast core, I’ll teach you something good as well. Work hard and try not to embarrass me as your teacher.” Lineir quickly headed out to find the tournament registration. Fortunately, it was quite easy, everyone knew that the tournament was to be held at the city training grounds, and in fact, Lineir saw several posters leading the way. Had he been paying attention, rather than rushing to find lodging and change his clothes, he probably would have noticed them earlier.

     

                “Register here, pay the entrance fee and receive your number and you’re good to go kid, enjoy the tournament!” The pale faced soldier took one look at Lineir and snickered, he was clearly expecting Lineir to get beat up. Lineir, paled terribly, and the soldier taking this as fear, actually burst out laughing, “Relax, killing in this tournament is forbidden, and unless some sect cultivator accidentally doesn’t control his force, you won’t die, though you may not be able to walk for some time hahaha!” Little did he know that Lineir, after his time in the wilderness didn’t fear these spoiled inner sect cultivators at all. Rather, 


    “God**** an entrance fee? Do I need to sell myself on the streets to some old man just to enter this tournament. At this rate, I’m so hungry I probably wouldn’t even care, the pain in my stomach is all I can think about!” In the end, Lineir handed in his last silver to the soldier as his stomach grumbled and registered. “Now I have to win…that sack of gold is ****** mine!”

     

     

    After spending the night cultivating, Lineir got up incredibly irritated. He hadn’t had enough money for a meal after all these expenses, and elemental energy might keep him from starving to death, but his stomach didn’t really care. It kept groaning all the same. He quickly headed down, and while the bartender wasn’t looking snagged a plate of leftovers at an empty table on the way out. “He took me for all I had…it’s only reasonable that I can at least get something in return. **** his pigs.” Quickly snarfing down the disgusting half eaten loaf of bread, Lineir made his way to the tournament, as he went though, he was shoved aside to the ground.  If he wasn’t so distracted by hunger at the moment, he never would have taken the hit, but as it was, he had been intensely avoiding some mysterious liquid on the bread and had lost track of his surroundings.

     

    “Clear the way peasant! The Nero Sect is coming.” Unbelievably, some random guy on the street had shoved him down into the muddy sewage stained street. He wasn’t even a retainer of the Nero Sect, he clearly was just looking to curry favor! Pasting on a sickly sweet grin, the man turned to the grand carriage passing by, “My lords of the Nero Sect, I've helped clear the way of the regular scum so that you might go unimpeded!” A couple of coppers shot out of the driver’s gloved hands, and the man quickly bowed and ran in front to knock aside more people, forgetting all about Lineir in the dirt. “That **** I just bought these clothes yesterday, they’re my only pair!” The old Lineir, the rat of the deadzone wouldn’t have dared do anything. He was too small, and too weak and malnourished to do so. But this Lineir was a cultivator, and he wasn’t so weak anymore. Also…he wasn’t nice. Up ahead, there was an elderly couple in the road. The carriage showed no signs of stopping, and the man was running up clearly intending to shove them out of the way. Disgusted, Lineir instantly arrived behind the man. To any regular person watching it would appear that a great splash of mud came and Lineir suddenly went from behind thirty feet, to at the man’s back in the blink of an eye. With a finger, he prodded the unsuspecting man in the back. Instantly, he tensed up and froze with a face full of pain as a shocking current ran through his body. Lineir put a hand on his back and whispered,


                “Here, you want to be an underling for those Nero Sect disciples, then let me help you get underneath them!” With a swift push, Lineir was already walking away as the elderly couple, dumbfounded, stared at the man who was shoved under the carriage about to run them over. CRACK!

     

                “What the hell was that? I thought we had men to help us clear the road!” The driver stepped down and saw that the wagon’s two front wheels had cracked after rolling on top of the legs of the man in question. He was lying in the mud with a purple face, unable to scream as all his muscles were locked up for some reason. The elderly couple quickly ran away, and Linier, looking over his shoulder, blended into the crowd which had stopped to watch the spectacle. Mei laughed, “Disciple, you’ve grown.” Lineir simply smiled. “If someone shoves me down…I’ll make it so they can’t get up.” Together the laughing master and smiling Lineir went to the tournament, a chill passing through every person they passed by.

     

                Inside the waiting grounds, Lineir, who was sitting with his hood up to disguise himself, quickly found himself surrounded by a number of mercenaries and soldiers hoping to make their fortune. Lineir paid them no mind, the strongest were barely classifiable as cultivators, and most were just weaklings. Most sensible mercenaries knew that the tourney was rigged and that only cultivators of strong sects would have any chance of winning. They would rather sit in the stands and watch than risk injury and their livelihoods. Lineir had his eyes almost slit shut, but Mei was analyzing the situation in his head. “The auras of those cultivators over there aren’t bad. But they won’t win, those purple robed cultivators are at a far higher level.  Over there, those yellow robed guys are strange. While their overall power is a bit lower, I wouldn’t put it past them to have some strange methods. They may actually be more threatening than the rest… Oh, the main characters have arrived. Be sure to take a good look at them disciple, as the villain in this pageant it’s your job to steal the princess and the treasure from under them! I expect nothing less from my only disciple!” Lineir was pressed into the wall by bodies as all the gruff and scarred men backed away from the entering black robed Nero Sect members. They were last, and clearly not happy about it, and Lineir secretly smirked at the ground as he observed the results of his work. The administrator began to explain the rules.

     

                “Alright, now that all competitors have arrived, I will explain how matches will be chosen and decided, as well as the rules. First of all, no killing! Anyone who kills their opponent intentionally will have to answer to the king of Dracherus and the royal court will be in attendance to prosecute you immediately!” Lineir chuckled, “What a joke, this whole tournament is just a sham so the king can ally with the Nero Sect, of course he won’t take any action even if the Nero sect ‘accidentally’ does away with anyone. They will be able to fight with killing moves, but everyone else will have to hold back for fear of killing someone with too strong a blow.” Mei quickly replied,

     

    “Of course the rules are favoring the strong and empowered, the weak don’t get to decide such things. Quiet, there’s more.”

     

    The announcer continued, “All matches will be randomly selected by ballot, but the initial preliminaries will be held in block matches so as to expedite the tournament. To ensure that nobody is forced to fight their brother, no two sect members form the same sect can be in the same block in the preliminaries. You were given a number before the tournament began, report to block A if you are from 1-100, B if you are from 101-200, C if you are from 201-300 and so on. Only ten members from each block may progress if they are left standing after 10 minutes. Anyone who leaves the arena circle is disqualified. If there is less than 10 members left standing after ten minutes, then only those left will advance. Find your block!”  Lineir quickly hurried to his block. He had the number 231, and thus was reporting to block B.  In this block, there was a cultivator from the purple, yellow, and the black robed Nero Sect! In addition, there were other robed figures who could only be cultivators from lesser sects. This block was full of threats. Quietly, Lineir backed away as people formed around and went to the C block, where there was almost exclusively ordinary soldiers. In fact, there was nobody wearing a robe in this sect, to an outsider, since Lineir was wearing muddy street clothes, this block was full of chump change. Mei was yelling in Lineir’s ear,

     

    “What are you doing, are you scared of those inner sect cultivators? Sure you might get your *** kicked but they probably won’t kill you, why did you come to this C block, your number is 231, you’ll get disqualified for being in the wrong block.” Lineir raised a glowing finger and pointed at one of the unsuspecting soldiers with their backs to him. Mei gave a little gasp as she realized his intent.

     

    “Oh… you have matured soft disciple, you’ve truly understood that the strong eat the weak.”

     

    Lineir prodded the soldier in the back and unbeknownst to everyone who was staring at the commentator, quickly snagged the numbered badge from his hand and replaced it with the 231. The man, clearly not a cultivator was knocked unconscious almost instantly and laid on the ground without complaint. “Now I’m 352… he won’t mind, I would have knocked him out of the prelims anyway. I’m saving him the trouble of a trip to the hospital.” The commentator shouted out at that moment,

     

    “BEGIN!”  Instantly fighting broke out as soldiers turned on each other and began to brawl for a spot in the top ten.

     

     

    Lineir didn’t overly exert himself in this block match. There were only some regular soldiers and mercenaries who couldn’t even have been introduced to real cultivation. In fact, if Lineir wanted to, with his ability to sense killing intent, he could probably have closed his eyes and simply swayed and evaded his way into the top ten. But he wanted to speed up the process. As men came towards him, he would slap his palms into their chests after dodging their shots, and as they took the hits while off balance, they would be blasted backwards several meters outside of the arena. In this manner, Lineir made his way to the center of the arena, where the fighting was thickest, without even using a weapon. Once he reached there, he would use the enemies to his advantage, something which Mei had drilled into him in the wilderness.

     

    “Use everything to your advantage, enemy hands and feet can become your hands and feet, as well as their weapons if you pay attention.” Soon, surrounding Lineir was a good two meters of empty space as soldiers realized that anyone who went near was swiftly dispatched and put on the ground. However, with one minute left, something strange happened. Every man fighting around Lineir was swept out of the arena by a ferocious gust of wind and in front of him was a cowled figure of average height. In a moment, that cowled figure was going to rush him, but the commentator shouted out! “Time’s up, top ten or those still standing advance from the prelims!” The robed figure stopped attacking him and backed off with a whisper, “I know what you did, I know who you are, don’t even think that I will let you go!” 

     

                Lineir was puzzled, “He saw me take that man’s badge? Not good, I didn’t even notice anyone watching. Whatever, the odds of us meeting each other later on our slim. Somebody else will knock him out and save me the trouble.” However, Mei was also confused, “How odd, I didn’t notice anyone watching you either. Be careful kiddo, he may be trouble.”

  • edited September 2015
    Chapter 31- Trial By Night

    Lineir looked around, besides his block, which only had him and the cowled figure, the other blocks also had relatively few left. None of them actually had ten people standing. The most was actually block B. Inside, the yellow, purple, and black robed sect cultivators were all standing, as well as two red robed cultivators. All of them were arrayed against each other, except the two red robed cultivators which had somehow managed to be in the same block despite the ruling against having two members in the same sect. In total, counting all the blocks, there were thirteen people left, and all of them were openly cultivators from important sects except Lineir and the cowled figure. There were four black robed Nero Sect members, three purple robed sect members, two yellow robed sect members, and then the two red robed sect members. The commentator stated the rules for the next event.

    "Alright, in this portion of the tournament, we will do a randomly selected king of the hill event. Anyone who wishes to go up and display their prowess can do so in 1 on 1 combat with a challenger. However, be warned, once up, you cannot leave unless you forfeit. At the end, once every challenger is done, the final man standing wins! Who wants to go first?" The Nero Sect members motioned and one of their own stepped up quickly. Whispers quickly filled the stadium.

    "That's inner sect disciple Geradine of the Nero Sect! He's succeeded in condensing his Second Heart recently! While not a favorite to win, he should be able to beat off these other sects for a long time!" The purple robed sect quickly sent up their own member, a big hulking man at least two and a half meters tall. 

    "The Mard Sect sent out Blujeon, he too is said to have recently succeeded in forming his Second Heart, and his physical strength is quite good!" The whispers were more subdued in this case, the Mard Sect was clearly not as famous as the Nero Sect.

    "Alright challengers, ascend to the arena and.... begin!" Both members rushed each other, the larger Blujeon looking overwhelmingly more scary. However, when they clashed, with a flash of black light, Blujeon was thrown ten meters out of the arena by a sweeping kick. Looking closely, it was possible to see that the skin on Geradine's leg had blackened veins which bulged with a dark weight. 

    "The winner is Geradine! Who will challenge him for control of the arena?" For a few seconds nobody moved. Lineir analyzed the situation,

    "Interesting, obviously nobody from the Nero Sect will try to knock out their own member now. However, nobody else wants to go up either. Even if they knock out Geradine, they are stuck up there for the duration of the tournament. They would have to win against every opponent in order to be the final man. It is better to wait until most challengers have already been defeated before challenging yourself. Of course... if you are only interested in showing off at the beginning and don't intend to win at all, then that's another matter." Exactly as he said, the second purple robed figure stood. "I challenge!"

    This second member of the Mard Sect was also hulking huge, and was clearly more imposing then the first. His face was impassive as stone, and it was clear that he practiced some technique as his muscles were sharp and angular like a riven boulder. As he ascended, the Nero Sect cultivator Geradine paled and quickly backed off. 

    "I forfeit!" Instantly the crowd erupted into whispers, but before they could grow too loud, they were silenced as a second Nero Sect cultivator stood up. "I will go." 

    "I don't believe it, Geradine actually backed off, but in his place, Lu of the Nero Sect came up! Compared to Geradine, he is miles ahead, he has been an inner sect disciple for a year now, and he succeeded in condensing his Second Heart half a year ago. He definitely knows some techniques. This Mard Sect cultivator is screwed!" 

    However, when they fought, surprisingly, the battle did not end quickly. Lu and this second Mard Sect cultivator clashed and neither was pushed back, each kick resonated against the other cultivator's with equal force, as if two mountains were fighting. Sharp cracks rang out across the arena and the audience clapped and cheered for both. Lu's face frowned. Dark veins began to bulge over both his legs, and they quickly swelled up in size. A sudden kick and the Mard Sect cultivator was finally blown back a step. In a flash, sensing weakness, he rushed him again. It was as if the mountain was finally coming down, a dazzling variety of snapping kicks and the Mard cultivator was pushed to the edge of the arena. Lu's face smiled as he went to deliver the final blow, heavy dark veins looking unstoppable. But at that moment, the Mard cultivator also finally cracked a smile. Reaching forward with massive hands, he grasped the kick, his arms shining in refractive light and twisted. Caught off guard by this sudden display of speed, Lu was immediately thrown off balance and was sent skittering out of the arena. "Fancy Nero Sect techniques might be stronger than our Mard Sect's, but we at least teach our disciples how to fight!" 

    The crowd went wild, the Mard Sect had held their cards till the last moment when their backs were against the wall, then won in an instant! The Nero Sect cultivators gnashed their teeth and it could be seen that Lu, who was relatively uninjured, was ashamed as the other cultivators looked down at him coldly. Clearly, he could have won, had he not grown overconfident and fallen for the Mard cultivator's trap. Immediately, the second to last Nero Sect cultivator ascended the stage. However, then things got strange.

    "The Mard Sect forfeits the tournament, our point has been demonstrated." So saying, all three Mard Sect members left. The crowd was confused.

    "How strange, why did they leave? Sure, the Nero Sect is strong, but they defeated one, even if it was by trickery, why quit here?" But Lineir was not fooled,

    "This Mard clan has no methods, that whole display was just to impress the king and the royals and gain face. The Nero Sect is clearly more powerful, and now that they are on their guard, the Mard Sect stands no chance. They'd rather leave while ahead, a smart move. But that means the true tournament starts now. The lions are done fighting, now the tigers lying in wait will spring up. It's not time yet for me to go though, there's still far too many challengers." This time, a yellow robed cultivator entered the arena. 

    "What sect is this, I don't know them."

    "Indeed, I don't know them either."

    "I suspect one of the isolation sects of the desert, but I've never seen them either" 

    The crowd didn't know what to make of this, but the commentator announced the beginning of the fight anyway, and the Nero Sect disciple and this yellow robed cultivator began to go at it. Right away, it could be seen that this yellow robed cultivator had some strange methods. Every time they clashed, the Nero Sect disciple was diverted. A light blue glow would fill the hands of the yellow robed cultivator and it was as if the Nero Sect's blows slid right off. 

    "Mei, what are those strange methods, it is as if the Nero Sect disciple can't even get his blows to have any power on this man."

    "Disciple, it's obviously an elemental water type art which focuses on redirecting power. Water has an extremely strong defensive property most times, but there is a limit to that. If you haven't noticed, the Nero Sect has yet to activate that strange dark veined technique. Yet the yellow robed cultivator is already using his methods just to block normal attacks. This match is already decided by pure power." 

    Sure enough, eventually the last Nero Sect disciple watching motioned to the one fighting, and instantly his hands began to bulge with black veins and his punches became heavy. The yellow robed cultivator took one hit from them and backed off more and more. 

    "Smart, the yellow robed cultivator is playing on the mind of the Nero disciple. By backing off, the Nero Sect disciple will unconsciously think about how his fellow disciple was tricked earlier and will become too cautious. This may give the yellow robed cultivator some time to breath. But the power is difference is too great. There is no way the Nero Sect disciple will lose this." Mei was adamant in the gap between powers, and she was right. The Nero Sect disciple hesitated for a moment as the other cultivator backed away but quickly rushed him and shoved him out of the arena. 

    "Heh, no unknown sect is going to beat the Nero Sect. I don't even know why they try, they probably just want to earn some recognition from the king!" The crowd all seemed to be along these lines. The Nero Sect disciple motioned to the last yellow robed cultivator, who took a moment, but then shook his head and walked out of the arena. 

    "Haha, he conceded as well, after the pitiful display of his other disciple, it's no wonder!" Jeers and derision accompanied him, but he didn't seem to care. Finally, the Nero Sect disciple turned to the two red robed cultivators which seemed to be the biggest threat. The only other ones left were Lineir and the cowled figure, but they weren't wearing cultivator robes, and thus were not even in the Nero Sect's eyes. The red robed cultivators made to ascend the stage. However, then something strange happened. As they passed Lineir with their hooded faces, they froze. They stared closely at Lineir from under their red hoods and whispered to each other. After a few moments of muttering they walked out of the arena as well. Lineir was baffled,

    "What the hell? Do I know them? They didn't even announce that they forfeited, they just left. What is up with this tournament!" Mei calmed him down,

    "Relax kiddo, life is strange, right now worry about the tournament. Now it's just the two Nero Sect cultivators and that cowled figure. It's about time for you to enter the stage." As Lineir was about to open his mouth and announce his decision however, the cowled figure stepped up and challenged. However, he didn't even say anything, simply walked into the arena and faced the other challenger. The Nero Sect disciple looked contemptuously at the cowled figure. "Are you even a cultivator? What sect wears those rags. No matter, I'm not interested in seeing your face. Let's go!" He immediately rushed the cowled figure. However, at that moment, something shocking happened. With a punch so fast Lineir could barely see it, the Nero Sect cultivator was blasted out of the arena into a wall under the spectators. He weakly hung there stuck in the cracked rock and coughed out stream after stream of blood. The other Nero Sect cultivator was dumbfounded. "Who the hell dares to mess with my Nero Sect!"
  • This story is really interesting.Nice Job:)
  • Thanks dude, I'm glad you enjoyed it ;p!
  • Chapter 32- Noble

    This sudden unexpected result shocked the crowd into silence. In the higher boxes of the arena, the royals and even  the king of Dracherus himself leaned in. They were clearly extremely interested in this result. One noble in particular, seated next to the king, shouted out, "Impossible! No disciple could have done that to my Nero Sect! This competitor must be some elder in disguise, seize him and show me his face!" Instantly, several elders of the Nero Sect began to stream down through the air at high speed. However, elders of other sects, who were enjoying the show, quickly flew up and blocked them. 

    "Elders of the Nero Sect, it is not in the tournament rules that competitors must show their faces, and the only rule was that disciples cannot be killed! As you can see, your disciple is still alive and with the right doctor, will no doubt make a full recovery" They pointed to the disciple still lodged in the wall spitting stream after stream of blood out. The faces of the Nero Sect elders reddened and their anger reached the heavens but they couldn't deny that to intervene with the tournament was justified. "We elders of the Marde and Desert Tribe suggest you go back to your seats and stop disrupting this tournament!" Gnashing their teeth, the elders had no choice but to return empty-handed, though they stared daggers at the cowled figure who stood innocently on the arena. The commentator glanced nervously at the king, unsure of what to do, but the other Nero Sect disciple had already ascended.

    "You ****ing freak! I don't know what special items or trick you used, but you had better not dare use it again in front of me, Narsier! All the elders of my Nero Sect are now watching closely, don't even think you can get away with it again under their eyes!" Instantly, the Nero Sect's legs and fists turned black and bulged with veins. The crowd quietly started to whisper again.

    "Amazing, Narsier is said to have condensed his Second Heart a full year ago! His mastery over the darkness element truly exceeds his brothers by leaps and bounds, and though this cowled man is strong, there is no way he dares to use any trickery now that everyone is watching!" Approving shouts rang out and suddenly the tournament was back in full swing. Dashing in, Narsier began to unleash the dizzying flurry of high speed, high impact attacks. Whenever he missed and hit the ground, his kicks would gouge huge holes and his fists would make loud pops with displaced air, even when there was no impact. The cowled figure backed away and blocked, displaying incredible defense. There was no attempt at attack at all. The crowd roared ever louder and the faces of the Nero Sect elders were gradually beginning to grin again. They began to signal to Narsier. Unbeknownst to everyone else, this signal mean't that they had given him permission to kill this competitor! They would handle the backlash. Narsier, noticing, quickly intensified his attacks. However, Lineir noticed something strange. This whole time, the cowled figure appeared to have been staring at Narsier while evading. Lineir was directly behind Narsier, but when Narsier shifted to the side, the cowled figure's gaze did not move to follow Narsier. Rather it remained fixed ahead under the dark hood, staring directly at Lineir! An intense shiver ran through Lineir and in a split second, he was chilled as he noticed a slender finger slip out from the sleeve and point to him... beckoning. With the other hand, while looking at Lineir, the cowled figure shot out a fist which flowed like the wind and Narsier was blasted into the wall, even harder than the first disciple had been. He didn't even spit out streams of blood, he could only limply hang there and let it dribble out of the sides of his mouth as if his mouth itself was crying red. 

    The crowd was once again stunned into silence. Nobody moved, even the Nero Sect elders were silent. They couldn't understand that their strongest inner disciple, who was the favorite to win this tournament, and the mythical core, and would become the centerpiece of their alliance with the royal house, would be eliminated so easily. The commentator was staring at the king, but the king was frowning, as was the noble who had shouted out earlier. The king motioned to go on, and so the commentator pointed at Lineir,

    "Alright, you are the last challenger! The one to win this fight takes the tournament, ascend now!" Lineir looked up as the cowled figure still just stood there innocently. The Nero Sect elders waited with clenched teeth... they would settle this after the tournament, it was too public right now. Mei encouraged Lineir,

    "Kiddo, don't worry, this cowled figure is strange indeed, but he did not kill anyone. The risk is worth the reward, remember I'll give you something good if you can win the core. Go!" Lineir slowly ascended, but he felt intense unease. That person had been interested in Lineir since the beginning, and he couldn't help but feel a familiar presence which terrified him. Shrugging, he headed up and took a stance,

    "I don't know what I did to offend you, but let our fists do the talking!" Like lightning, he rushed in at incredible speed to test the waters. The cowled figure for the first time moved in to attack. 

    "Don't lie to me!" Before Lineir could do anything, with unfathomable speed, a thin hand reached out and clenched his throat, plucking him out of the air. As it happened, Lineir unconsciously reacted and flailed an elbow out. The cowled figure immediately tightened the hold on Lineir's neck, and jerked to the side to avoid the blow. The edge caught the trailing hood however, and it slid down to reveal a face. The noble face peered under Lineir's hood and sniffed.
    "I told you I knew your scent!"

    At the same time, the king, nobles, and crowd all erupted into a frenzy. "What the hell is the princess doing in the tournament!"



  • edited September 2015
    Chapter 33- The Real Winner

    Lineir hung in the air, his toes desperately trying to touch the ground. It was an incredibly uncomfortable position to say the least. 

    "**** it's that dragon lady! She doesn't care about how I got into a different block, she thinks I told those sect assassins where to find her!" Mei carefully instructed Lineir,

    "Don't bother moving. I told you, that girl is many times stronger than you as a member of the dragon race. Find some way to convince her it wasn't your fault!" However, no matter how Lineir tried, he couldn't cough out a word, her grasp on his throat was simply too strong. His face purpled and the world began to spin. 

    "Kiddo, I'm going to slow down your heart rate. This undead heart of yours is under my control, and I can very convincingly bring you to the brink of death. Provided you stay absolutely still and learn some acting skills, even she should not be able to tell that you are faking!" Gradually, Lineir's struggles became less and less. He let his eyes stop glaring frantically and hung limply like a dead fish. The girl stared at him deeply for a few seconds, but she could feel that there was no pulse on his throat. With one last shake, she tossed him aside and proclaimed, 
    "I refuse to marry anyone, least of all the Nero Sect, their disciples are unworthy and I do not recognize them!" She pointed directly at the king as she spoke, and then leaped from the ground. From her back, scaly red wings unfolded and she soared away at frightening speed. Immediately, Nero Sect elders took off after her,

    "That girl! Going so far as to hurt our disciples to avoid a legal agreement between her elders, she's really gone too far this time! She needs to be punished, all elders, bring her back!" A dozen black robed elders shot out after her, and the crowd cowered as the air whirled viciously from their passage. It was a few minutes before anyone dared speak. However, once the first whispers broke out, others followed.

    "It's true, the daughter of the king of Dracherus is one of the imperial dragon line!" 

    "She denied the Nero Sect, no wonder, if they got close to her, they would have access to the dragon bloodline!" 

    "I wonder what the king is thinking, letting the Nero Sect close to such a precious heir."

    "I doubt he had much of a choice, they probably pressured him into it!"

    "But wait... who wins the tournament now?"

    Everyone was looking around, but the princess had clearly left the arena, and the Nero Sect disciples were both unable to free themselves from the wall. 

    "Wait... that man is still alive!" Gasps came out as Lineir got his hands under himself and stood. Brushing off the dust from himself, and adjusting his hood, he choked out as clearly and confidently as he could,

    "I'm the last man standing, I demand my compensation now!" He looked directly at the commentator, and then they both looked towards the king who was standing, staring after the direction his daughter and the Nero Sect had flown off to, trembling. Looking down, in a distracted manner, he simply stated, "What?"

    Lineir sighed, "This is gonna be tricky, I need to gamble and bluff my way out. Knowing the temperament of this Nero Sect, they will insist this tournament is void after this, and if I don't get out of here soon, they'll come after me. But that core... it's worth the risk!"

    He boldly announced even louder, "The core and the gold, I require them, I am the winner, is there anyone else in the arena with me?"

    The king looked and indeed there was absolutely no one but Lineir still standing. He shakily looked around, but there were no Nero Sect elders left, they had all gone chasing after his daughter. The rewards were supposed to seal the alliance with the Nero Sect, but he had promised them to the winner of the tournament, and suspicious gazes were being mounted by the expectant audience. 

    "Alright, alright, present the man his rewards, he is the winner" The king distractedly said and walked out of the balcony. He muttered to himself, "Now what, my daughter was supposed to be married to the winner of the tournament, but she's gone and ruined my relationship with the sect. I'm going to have to find some other way to pay them now..." After he left, in a few moments, the commentator was handed the core and a large bag of gold, and presented it to Lineir. 

    "Esteemed competitor, you've emerged victorious after... many trials.... could we see your face and know the name of our champion?" Lineir took the gold and core, and turned his back. He calmly walked out of the arena with a stride befitting an emperor. "Careful... careful... this is the key moment, I need to pull this off or I'm gonna be hunted down for these treasures." He answered in the most confident self assured voice he could, "My face is..." His voice barely squeaked out in front of the silent arena, nobody could hear. "****... bluffing is really hard." 

    Mei sighed, "Kiddo... I got you" Instantly, a direct strong and utterly tyrannical voice expressionlessly boomed out from the arena. It's entire tone bespoke weariness and boredom.

    "My face is beyond all of you, you don't have such face as to see it. However as for my name... you can remember me as Chains!" The arena nervously tittered for a moment before erupting into cheers. While a lot weren't exactly sure what they were clapping for, there was a winner, and they dared not offend such a domineering presence. Lineir walked out of the arena. Immediately, he sprinted for the hills, exploding through the city with every step. "Got to get far away now, if I can just get out of the city, I could be anybody, nobody saw my face, and only that girl who's being chased knows what I look like. Cya Dracherus, you've been good to me!"
  • edited September 2015
    Chapter 34- The First Path

    "Man, my luck is terrible, every time I meet some sect in any city, I end up running, I miss the wilderness!" Lineir gasped. He was flying through the streets, trying to make his way out. Compared to the him in Brackenrock City, he was practically a different species. Houses shot by his eyes incredibly fast, but didn't blur out of vision, instead his eyes could make out little details as he passed by. Mei was laughing, she really enjoyed the trick they'd played,

    "I'm sure that with the Nero Sect off on a crazy dragon chase, nobody else in that arena will dare chase an expert with such a domineering aura. Keep running, but stop once we get to the gates and flip up your hood. The guards will never expect that some youth was actually the crazy expert who dared disrupt an important handoff between the Nero Sect and the king." 

    "Say Mei, who's voice was that anyway, that didn't sound anything like you." Lineir was leisurely chatting in his mind despite huffing for breath, he was in an incredible mood, the weight of the gold and mythical core tucked into the back of his clothes just made him want to smile. He'd never dreamed of having this kind of wealth in his entire life.

    "Oh that voice? When I found the sword containing Madraeyal's teachings, that voice appeared when deciphering the runes. It's possible that its the voice of Madraeyal himself. While only my best imitation, I'm sure its enough to scare those fools ****less." Lineir came to the gate, and joined the small stream of people leaving the city, flipping his hood off and revealing his young boyish face. The guards didn't even give him a second look, a youth passing through the gates looking for adventure was hardly worth noting. After he passed, blending into the people leaving the city, he sighed and smiled. "Safe!" 

    "Alright disciple, go find a quiet place away from these people. I promised you something good with this core, and I will keep my word!" Lineir slowly branched off from the mainstream travelers on the road. He carefully headed in the opposite direction of the wilderness, to the other side of the city and hid in the woods. "Better not risk going near that particular section of wilderness, that dragon girl seemed to live there, she might think to look for me there." 

    Mei started to explain as Linier sat down in a training position in the hollow of a tree, "Alright disciple, that core you have is only fourth tier. In my plane that wouldn't even be worth chump change to an expert like myself. However, it's not from an ordinary beast. Not even a peak fourth tier beast could match a mythical beast core. It is in essence, a rarity in a class of its own. A mythical beast is a legendary spirit which has reincarnated throughout the ages. Thus this Three Headed Hydra core can be compared to the cores of other mythical beasts such as the phoenix, holy mountain bear, and even lesser dragons. Mythical beasts such as these, go through a cycle of rebirth in accordance with the will of the Heavens and Buddha. In each reincarnation, their power level will change. This Three Headed Hydra core is extremely weak for a mythical beast core at only fourth tier. That's the only way it could be caught here on this plane. In my plane, anything so weak has long since been hunted or reincarnated eons ago. Even the most ordinary mythical core is at least above tenth tier magical beast level. However, the fact that this core is so weak is actually a great blessing for you, that means you can absorb it and the Three Headed Hydra's mystical power of reincarnation and its spirit will become yours. As you grow stronger, so too will this power, until one day, if you reach the heights of power, you will be able to call upon the spirit of a Nine Headed Hydra or beyond. Now listen closely, no mistakes, you only have this one chance!" 

    For three days and three nights Lineir carefully cultivated with the originally melon sized core sitting in his lap. As time passed, golden mist slowly flowed in a spiraling stream through his nostrils and entered him. Carefully, he began to spin it into his Second Heart. Little by little, as it entered, his Second Heart increased in speed from its normally mellow tug. By the second day, it had become a tidal force and a second spiraling stream of golden mist spilled out from the core which had shrunk to the size of a plum. At the end of the second night, the golden mist began to stream in of its own accord, like water pulled through a tube, following itself into Lineir. A third stream formed so that three twisting flows of golden mist flowed in. At the end of the third day, the core had shrunk to the size of a cherry. 

    "Eat the core!" Lineir popped the core into his mouth immediately at Mei's urging. "No don't chew you idiot, swallow it whole!" With a horribly large gulp, it went down and Lineir found himself sitting straight up. After a few tense moments,

    "So... is something supposed to happen?" 

    Mei answered lightly. "Yea... you were supposed to start screaming. You sure you don't feel indescribable pain or something?" 

    Lineir carefully assessed himself again. "Nope nothing." 

    "Maybe you're just an M...." 

    As Lineir opened his mouth to deny Mei, he retched as an invasive presence fled from his throat. "BLAARRRGGH!" A crimson snake's head several finger lengths thick spilled out from his mouth, meter after meter shooting out. Lineir tried to grasp it but the scaly thing was too slippery and it escaped. As the last meter left his mouth, he suddenly felt strange, as if the world had flip flopped. In his Second Heart, he could feel that the spinning tug, had actually reversed and switched directions! Now it was spinning in reverse! A dark red energy which made the crimson snake appear light and colorful coalesced from Lineir's gaping mouth and formed a terrifying clawed hand. This hand was a meter long and seized the snake and dragged it back down Lineir's throat before disappearing. Lineir clamped his hand over his mouth, terrified that something even more horrifying would come out next. "Owww... well that did hurt. Was THAT normal?" Mei wasn't laughing however,

    "That... was not supposed to happen." 

    Suddenly Lineir's vision went red, and on his eyes demonic characters made of blood wrote themselves. It was as if the world had turned into hell and was filled with only blood. The characters formed words and Lineir could almost hear a raging voice read.

    "The Heavens' will is held above mortals, but by what right? Need mortals listen to words they do not understand? Does this one dare walk the path to defy Heavens' will and Fate herself? The first path of the Nine Paths opens to you Asura! Do you dare to deny your destiny and walk it?"

    Lineir didn't know what else to say. However, suddenly, the blood red haze on his eyes formed images on his eyes. Every injustice he had ever suffered flashed by, he remembered the way he had to bow under the strong when he was weak. That those who had been gifted more than him from birth were held above him. He realized that he was bound in the chains of fate since his very birth! 

    With a voice full of silent anger he declared,

     "I will walk the path." The characters stopped violently forming in his eyes and the world gradually returned to normal. Before they completely faded away, the characters reformed once again, and Lineir swore he could just barely hear a distinct murmur, 

    "You don't understand now. But none who walk the first path have. The first path is the beginning... walk the path of...."






  • edited September 2015
    Chapter 35- Slow Walk
    One more tonight if I'm feeling good




    Blood red characters rapidly crystallized before his eyes before instantly shattering leaving the world vibrantly colored... yet feeling empty and mundane,

    "Madness...." 

    And that was it. Lineir shakily stood up, mentally exhausted, but physically fine. The sealing of the mythical Three Headed Hydra core into his body had been completed... albeit in a way he hoped to never experience again. 

    'Mei, did you see those character? What did they mean? When I saw them, I feel... different." Lineir began to walk again, he had been here too long, and he was still too close to the city.

    Mei answered slowly, "I haven't ever seen such a thing happen before, but I did see those characters just now, what you see, I can see. They must be related to the Nine Paths of Asura, but I'm afraid that understanding will have to come from yourself. However, I can say for sure that you have successfully absorbed the mythical core. The Three Headed Hydra's spirit and abilities are one with you now. Take your time walking, I'm not particularly worried about you running into a lone Nero Sect cultivator. What you've been lacking this whole time, was raw power from years of lost training. But by absorbing a 4th tier mythical beast core's attributes, you are now far more dangerous than before. Walk slow and learn more about the changes in yourself. I'm confident that even if somehow, your path and some cultivator's paths collide, against the cultivators of this backwater Nero Sect, you will at least be able to escape with your life. Its actually really funny, they might not know this, but by using the methods I've taught you to draw out the maximum amount of energy from the core, and the power of the mythical beast itself, you could be said to be the lion which is stalked by the rabbit. They may believe they are hunting you... but they are the hunted now." 

    Lineir at first did not believe Mei but as he walked, he was astonished to discover that inside his Second Heart, great changes had come about. The spin had increased greatly, now he could truly feel a substantial influx of energy from the environment. Nascent energy which was ambiently in the atmosphere was being drawn in by this whirling suction, and inside of him, it felt like a dark and stormy cloud was whirling about spinning lightning amidst the night. 

    "See kiddo, since you are cultivating according to my methods, as a hybrid lightning and darkness user, you could be said to be at the Late Rising Storm stage now. That core has propelled you straight past the middle, and compared to regular cultivators from lowly sects such as the Nero Sect, you need not even put disciples in your eyes. In fact, their elders are not even in your eyes, only their patriarchs and ancestors could be considered a match for you in one on one combat. Of course, this comes with caveats. This only applies to these backwater sects with no real backing. Greater sects of this land should have methods and materials to create far more dangerous disciples, and elders will still be far more dangerous than you. This Dracherus City is simply too small a backstop to host such large and dangerous sects. Furthermore, you must be careful to avoid large groups. Until you ascend to the next realm, you will still be susceptible to large groups. Facing them head on would be inadvisable."

    Lineir immediately gulped. "Mei, are you seriously saying I can fight a patriarch! I can't even fly, all those elders can fly, clearly they are far more powerful than I am!" He began to pump his arms and walk faster. "I'm stronger than before, but I'm still no match for an elder!" 

    Mei laughed endlessly, the sound was quite charming when it was made with no malice, "No silly disciple, you can fight against these weak patriarchs and even ancestors in one on one combat. The reason you cannot fly while these crappy elders can is twofold. First, my method does not naturally allow you to gain flight at this time. It focuses on the spin of your internal elemental energies, and your future development. A storm must first gather into being before it can traverse the land! Secondly, all these lower sect members cheat to appear more formidable to commoners. Their immortal swords are no doubt linked to their patriarchs or ancestors cultivation caves if they have any. By doing so, they can borrow a small amount of power and fly at low altitudes. Make no mistake however, they themselves are weak. You can fight them one on one without any threat. Indeed, even a small group of elders won't have enough power to really do anything to you. I'll tell you a secret. In these sects, most of them are cheats and swindlers! Their patriarchs are rejects of a greater sect or some fool who gained a bit of power through some treasure or underhanded method somehow. They promise power to their disciples with some paltry cultivation methods or what not, but they are really raising them as one would raise cattle! Once these disciples become "elder" class, they hand them an immortal sword, and say, look, you can fly! In reality, they have simply reached the minimum power the swindling patriarch or ancestor cares about. While they lend out a tiny bit of power to let elders fly, they constantly absorb bits of these cattle's cultivation base to further their own! The Second Hearts of these lower sects elders are forever doomed to be leeched on and ruined at the critical point in their development! Only in the greater sects is it likely that it is in fact a real reputable sect which actually cares about raising powerful new generations to gain face and honor. That is why you have nothing to fear from these hollow emptied out lower sects! Their elders are simply starving sheep being harvested at all times, only their patriarchs and ancestors can be said to have any skill whatsoever!"

    Lineir was so astonished he stopped walking. The great cultivation sects of the land were scams? How could this be? He used to dream of being a cultivator in one of those and gaining endless prestige and power. To realize that so many people were being fooled into thinking they had it all was truly a wake up call. "Hey... I feel like I understand something..." A mysterious and hidden feeling welled up in Lineir, and his vision vaguely turned slightly red. The feeling was rebellious and disapproving. It wanted change, it did not accept the world, and Lineir felt like he agreed with it. At that moment, an unfamiliar voice called out,

    "YOU! What's your business!"
     
  • edited September 2015
    Chapter 36- First Walk of Madness
    Hehehe, I like this chapter. Do you?

    Floating above Lineir in the treetops was precisely one of those lower sect elders that Mei was talking about. He was wearing the black robes of the Nero Sect and floating atop a two meter long immortal sword as wide as a man. When Lineir showed no reaction he called again in an imposing tone of authority,

    "Kid, where did you come from? Did you see a hooded figure go this way? I'm looking for an old man coming from the city of Dracherus, he may have been flying or on foot, and the Nero Sect will pay greatly for any information on him. You think you might know anything about this?" The man had a very arrogant manor, while his words may not have been that imposing, showing that he wasn't of very high birth, his manner and the fact that he expected all of his questions to be answered without question revealed his true nature. Lineir still didn't answer. A bubbling force was welling up inside him, as if a gushing spout of red blood was bursting through his burning veins. Mei was trying to get Lineir's attention,

    "Kiddo, answer him, the Nero Sect is looking for you. He has no idea who you are. Unless you want to alert his suspicions and have to fight the entire sect then say something!" But Lineir was still standing there frozen. The man above finally got suspicious. While Lineir didn't fit the profile, and he never imagined that he was the same man who had dominated the arena with such a terrifying aura, he figured that this youth knew something and was reluctant to say it. 

    "Do you know such a man? Come on, the Nero Sect will definitely reward you handsomely. Just come with me now..." He swooped down on his flying sword, and made to grab Lineir. Immediately, as he swooped down, Lineir's eyes which had been squeezed tightly shut this whole time snapped open. "Fight the entire sect you say, Master? That sounds like an excellent idea!" 

    *SHICK*

    From Lineir's elbows came his bone scythes and his eyes slitted like a feral animals. A murderous dark aura came from him, and before the man on the flying sword could react, Lineir was whirling about, completely bypassing the outstretched arm and it was as if the reaper's scythe had risen from hell itself to tear out the soul through the throat. The man didn't even have time to shout before dropping dead, sputtering blood streaming out to water the dirt. 

    Mei wryly said, "Well, I didn't say you should fight the whole sect, but at least you see how easy it is to deal with these hollow elders. As I said though, you are still technically in the same realm of power as them. It's good that you killed him quickly, if he were to actually call out and assemble with more of them, it could get dangerous fast. One ant alone can be squished, but an army is far more difficult to exterminate." Lineir was taking slow deep breaths, but his heart rate was spiking to no end.

    A slow character formed its way across his eyes in blood.

    "To guide you on the first path, I leave behind one who knows." 

    In a gentle, almost girly, elegant scrawl, the same character from before came as the world transitioned completely to red,

    "Madness"

    From Lineir's mouth, came laughing words which he didn't exactly want to speak... yet neither did he attempt to stop. They echoed through the empty night sky.

    "Come out enemies, madness greets the world again!" 

    Instantly the clear sky and stars were joined by three dark robed elders of the Nero Sect.

    "Who is it that so boldly calls out his enemies!" As they came, they spotted the crumbled black robes of the first elder, soaked with blood.

    "YOU...! I'LL HAVE YOU PAY NINEFOLD FOR YOUR SINS!" They rushed together at Lineir who stood without a care in the world. However, this only brought them closer to their deaths. A vicious leap five meters straight up and Lineir was level with the first one's throat. Wordlessly, he cut it open with a backhanded whirl which started him into a graceful vicious spin. Still ascending from his leap, past the corpse which had begun to fall to the ground Lineir spun up and cut another throat. The world whirled by and to his eyes which could now see so much more than before, it was as if the stars were swimming amidst dark rivers of flowing blood. The third elder stopped, unable to comprehend what he had just seen. In his entire life, he had never seen an elder of the Nero Sect die, let alone two to some youth. It had all happened so fast he couldn't even believe it. As Lineir fell down back to the ground, this third elder began to fly backwards, wetness between his legs. Lineir was simply staring up at him as he revolved around and around in the air. His face would face him, then his back, then his face, as if he was a coin flipping in the air. Heads... tails... heads.... tails... with every revolution, his face became less and less human, more and more demonic, his eyes glowed unnaturally bright, yellow, black, red. The character came again across his eyes.

    "Madness"

    As he was about to slam into the ground, and the third elder had just about reached the tree tops, some ten meters away, Lineir's face flipped up one last time. An unspeakably evil snake head rushed out of his throat and shot up, snapping into the third elder's chest as if it was paper. From it was ripped out his heart and with it, the center of his cultivation, the Second Heart. A terrific gout of blood came out and the third elder's body also began to sink out of the sky, heartless. The snake, which had come out in an instant, retreated back inside Lineir's mouth by the time he had spun to face the ground, and his limbs automatically snapped out to hit the ground, landing as a cat might, upright and undamaged. Around him rained down three bodies, two throats slit and one savaged beyond repair.


  • edited September 2015
    Chapter 37-Second Walk Of Madness-Acceleration

    "Disciple, control yourself! While I have no qualms with the killing of your enemies, there was no need to call out and challenge them." Mei was irate. Lineir could be considered to have done many unnecessary actions in this slaughter. 

    "I didn't teach you to be so wasteful!" However, Lineir, was breathing heavily, more from mental shock than physical exertion. To be honest, his prior actions, while incredibly fast, had been so gracefully contained, he wasn't even really fighting himself. 

    "I'm sorry, Mei, something just told me that I should do so, that I could do so. No, not something, someone. It was like somebody subconsciously guided me, and I felt perfectly comfortable following. You saw the characters, this Nine Paths truly has some strange methods. Forgive me, while I could have stopped, and consciously, I feel a bit queasy at slaughtering these elders of the Nero Sect for no reason, though they were enemies, I just felt so comfortable." Lineir contritely said. While at the time, he had been caught up in the feeling and had simply let this presence take control of him, after it was over he didn't like the idea that he had gone out of his way to murder people. While he was no longer so soft as to shirk necessary bloodshed, this was simply overkill. 

    Mei was satisfied with this answer, she suspected that something was off with Lineir, while he had done nothing his body was incapable of, his ruthlessness and downright grace in killing was uncharacteristic. he was simply too inexperienced to pull something off in such a spectacular fashion, even if he wanted to.

    "Well alright, to be fair, your actions have extremely quickly eliminated elders of the Nero Sect, which one day we may have needed to fight anyway. Your actions could be said to be cutting off the legs of a lion today, so that you might kill it tomorrow. We'll leave it at this. Besides, now you know what you are capable of. This strange happening may actually turn out to be very useful and greatly increase your battle power. Wait..." She stopped talking for a second as if inspecting something.

    "Disciple, you've actually grown somewhat more powerful after this fight. Your undead heart is actually absorbing the heart and Second Heart of that elder. If I'm not mistaken, this snake of yours is the main head of the hydra spirit. You have gained the Hydra's most simple ability of devouring the cultivation bases of anything and everything it consumes. While not unheard of in cultivators, this is an unusual and rare ability. Most cultivators must cultivate or use forbidden techniques to absorb the elemental energies in the Second Hearts of others, but it looks like you can actually consume them directly through this snake. How disturbing... it's as if you yourself are a beast." 

    Lineir closely examined himself internally. It was as Mei said. With his spiritual senses, he could ascertain that in his Second Heart, elemental energy was being fed in slowly. The energy was actually quite considerable. Mei was still talking,

    "It looks like the energy from this elder is comparable to a tier two monster core. Not bad. Actually, I take back what I said before disciple. Fight as much as you want. If you eat more hearts, it will be much easier compared to hunting magical beasts which are naturally tougher than cultivators. This would be one step closer to becoming powerful."

    Lineir who had slowly been greening slightly, felt like he had eaten something bad at this point. But he had to admit, Mei had a point. While he could hunt magical beasts, if such an opportunity presented itself, he could not deny free power. He walked over to the two corpses on the ground with slit throats and willed the snake to appear. "I'm sorry, but for my path and growth, I must do this." 

    Nothing happened. No snake, no red in his eyes, no whispers in his mind. "Huh?" He opened his mouth as wide as it would go and stuck out his tongue. Nothing. Not even a hiss.

    "Maybe it has to be a living cultivator? Or maybe you can only absorb so much cultivation at once." Mei was quick to offer explanations with her experience. "Whatever, you've already gained a lot from this. Don't bother looting the bodies. With such a backwater sect, I doubt these people even have gold on them. They use the threat of their status and reputation to buy things. Let's go."

    Lineir turned to walk, when a glint of light caught the corner of his eye. Refracted moonlight... off of a blade!

    "Bastard, you dare incur the wrath of the entire Nero Sect!"

     Instantly, the red haze descended over his eyes and his bone scythes came out. Without turning, he swayed to the side and slashed the immortal sword streaking towards his throat with a bone scythe. Now he could feel the hungry presence inside him. It was definitely still hungry and rather than trying to get it to come out, it was as if he had to fight to keep it in. 

    "Well... I wasn't going to actively seek trouble, but since such a good meal has presented itself to me..." He finally turned round and stared with slitted crimson eyes at the ambushers behind him. "Come!"
  • edited September 2015

    Chapter 38- Reaper


    Behind him from about thirty meters away in the trees, six black robed cultivators came shooting out on flying swords, one however was running, he had just launched the surprise attack on Lineir.

     

                “Disciple, this is why we should have kept going. You gave up the element of surprise by lingering so long in one place. While I’ll admit, this is a fast way to attract your enemies, it’s a dangerous methodology to get into. If too many come, or someone truly powerful shows up one day, what would you do?”  Mei was simply pointing out the shortcomings in Lineir’s choices. However, it could be said that these weak elders of the Nero Sect were definitely being cheated. With their Second Hearts being sucked away their entire lives, how could they possibly compare to someone who’s power was holy his own, with a body filled with forbidden techniques?

     

                Lineir’s first response was to immediately rush towards the six elders. He entered the midst of the five on flying swords before they could react.  Once again, it was as if someone was guiding his hand. This wasn’t like Mei who in the past had actually taken complete control over him, this was simply a suggestion, like a sense of déjà vu. It was as if someone with incredible experience and battle sense was showing him the way. A bone scythe to the throat, and Lineir had slain the leading elder. This time, Mei formed the sword in Lineir’s right hand. With the extra reach it afforded, and Lineir’s incredibly strong footwork, combined with the guidance of the unknown entity which accompanied the madness character in his eyes, he simply stepped over and slashed straight through a second elder, who did not even remain in one piece but toppled over in two. The first two elders were close to the ground, but the last three on flying swords had finally realized that something was off. They tried to back off and fly up, but the sky was not a refuge.

     

                Like lightning flies up from the ground to touch the heavens, Lineir leaped from the ground. For the first time, he summoned the hazy power of darkness to wrap around his leg and increase his power. Additionally, a bit of static electricity flickered around and the speed of his leap was increased greatly. By combining the two, speed and power became explosiveness. This explosiveness caused his jump to far outstrip the slow flying speed of the immortal swords.

     

                WHOOOSH

     

                Just as before, Lineir had dispatched the three immortals, landing while blood and bone rained down from the sky. This time however, the enemies had been far higher up, and they hadn’t even had a chance to react. To an ordinary onlooker it would like Lineir had jumped once and then landed, and the cultivators had just suddenly started spurting blood. However, to the cultivated eyes of the sixth elder who did not have a flying sword, it was like watching a reaper ascend from hell to drag down the souls of sinners. He could just barely make the fact that Lineir had jumped once from the ground, instantly found himself level with the first cultivator and dug out his throat. Then he had kicked off of that same cultivator, ascended to the second, and cut out his throat with another bone scythe. Lastly, he had pushed off this second cultivator, and spinning, delivered a backhanded blow with his sword which ripped the highest cultivator in two bloody pieces framed before the shining moon which seemed to be crying red tears now. To complete the horror, Lineir had kicked apart those two bloody halves to accelerate his descent to the ground. To the cultivator, the body of his comrade disappeared as it passed out of the moon’s light and Lineir appeared directly in front of him.

     

                Indescribably terror! That is what this man felt looking at the crimson stained figure in front of him. What he was looking at could only be called madness! It was just too terrifying, and the elder didn’t even try to run. His heart began to pump incredibly fast and his legs refused to budge an inch, instead freezing in place. A flash and the man was no more, a great hole in his chest where his beating heart had lain. Lineir sighed.

     

                “It seems you were right Mei, this snake of mine is only usable in a real live fight. Furthermore there’s a limit to how much it can consume at a time. For now, it’s quite full digesting the elemental energies contained with two Sacred Hearts.” He walked off further away from Dracherus City. He had had his fill of the Nero Sect. Mei however brought up a question.

     

                “Uh disciple, what about that kind man’s message. You never had a chance to deliver it to the king. What will you do about that?” Lineir thought it over for a moment. In fact, while he had originally went to Dracherus for the express purpose of carrying out the man’s last will, he had forgotten about it after the life changing events which he had experienced of late.  

     

                “I’m sorry old man, I tried to help, but your king is simply too untrustworthy, he tried to sell off his own daughter for gain. But rest easy in hell, I’ll find those bandits and take them to hell to apologize to you in person.” He turned around and cut back. He had planned on heading directly away from Dracherus and entering the wilderness. “A short detour to honor a friend won’t hurt. Besides, Mei, didn’t you say you wanted a bunny?”

     

     

     

     

     

                The journey was swift, Lineir did not dawdle and cultivate on the way, he would rather get out of Nero Sect territory. However, the Second Heart’s which his hydra spirit had devoured continued to be digested, and he felt himself grow stronger with each passing hour. The speed was incredibly fast, he could feel his Second Heart gaining density far faster than it ever had before.  At this fast speed, he quickly found himself at the site of the ambush before. No traces of the slaughter remained, the wagon was long gone and even the corpses had been removed. Falling leaves had long since obscured the ground and the rain had long since scoured the mud underneath clean of blood. This would have detoured any average tracker, the time frame was simply too long. However, Lineir was a cultivator, and Mei was incredibly experienced.

     

                “Disciple, while I do not specialize in tracking, it would be a disgrace if I could not at least point you in the right direction. Those corpses were hidden somewhere. They must have been dragged somewhere. Blood spilled less than a thousand years ago cannot be hidden from me!” Lineir waited for her to do something.

     

                “Idiot! Stab me into the ground, what, do you think I can do this sitting in your hands?” Lineir snickered and hurriedly buried the sword in the ground. Then he waited. And waited. “Find them yet?” Mei simply told him to hush,

     

                “Shut up, I need to focus. Without a body this is a pain. Actually, lend me some of your cultivation!” Lineir laid his hands on the blade, and Mei slightly cut his palm to siphon off a bit of blood. Then they waited some more. “Done yet?”

                Lineir was exasperated. It had been a good hour with him standing there doing nothing. Finally Mei answered,

     

                “Well disciple… I found something.”

     

                “What is it master, which way did they go?”

     

                “Well to be exact… I didn’t find any traces of blood.”

     

    “What? So your saying you didn’t find anything at all! I’ve been standing around all day for nothing!”

     

                Mei sighed.

     

                “Ok, I didn’t find anything, but that doesn’t mean we know nothing. There’s only one way they managed to dispose of the corpses without leaving any traces of blood. Something highly unusual must have happened here for that.  There must have been a spacial ring involved!”

     

                With a gasp, Lineir exploded, “A special ring? Like one in the legends? The treasure which can store a thousand other treasures in a thousandth the space?”

     

                “Well that depends on the grade, but yes disciple, that very type of ring. How curious, I wouldn’t expect the king of most of the small cities around here to have one, let alone a group of bandits. Something is fishy here. Whoever was backing this ambush was extremely powerful considering the area. As a matter of fact… the only group around here with that kind of clout is the Nero Sect… and the only one with the wealth to afford a special ring is… the patriarch!”

     

                “**** I’m going to have to fight this man aren’t I?” Lineir was irate. Life was just too ridiculous, it was as if fate itself was out to get him. He had sworn revenge, but fighting a patriarch was a little much. He would be surrounded by countless elders, and he had leeched off of all their cultivation bases. One on one, Mei had said Lineir stood a chance, but against the whole sect?

     

                “Wait just a moment disciple, this might not be so impossible as you think.” Mei was quite calm at the moment. She was considering Lineir’s options, and had already decided on a course of action.

     

                “Not impossible? Do you realize how many of those guys there are? I might be able to take small groups, but I heard the Nero Sect has over fifty elders not even including the ten I killed, at least half of which will be guarding the patriarch at any time.”

     

                “Well disciple, I would have agreed with you before. However, you gained this devour ability, and these strange madness. Your combat potential has risen at a rate even I could not have foreseen. At the moment, your Second Heart has already reached the peak of the first stage. Soon you will break through and ascend to the Gathering Storm Stage. When this happens, you will gain the power of the second realm of my cultivation technique and access to power, which is not only far greater quantitatively, but superior qualitatively. At that moment, it won’t matter how many trash elders the patriarch of the Nero Sect surrounds himself with. You will be able to walk in and end him as if it was a one on one. There is just one problem with this however.”

     

                Lineir was excited. The idea of walking through a sea of enemies, uncontested was a dream which most could only hope to have on a good night. Lineir could actually experience this himself. Who wouldn’t want this kind of power especially at such a young age?

     

                “Alright master what is the problem?”

     

                Mei sighed, “The Gathering Storm Stage is the next step in cultivation. However, in order to reach it, you must build up an imbalance. Storms begin to form when the imbalance in the atmosphere reaches a critical point. Inside of you, you already have an excellent spin in your Second Heart. But you lack the raw power needed to ascend. Only by pushing your cultivation past the limit will you break through and cause a great enough imbalance within yourself to ascend the realms. Fortunately, I have thought of a solution for this. Well, there are two. One, train in the wilderness for a few months until you collect enough beast cores to break through. This will take a while, and there’s always the risk of running into that dragon girl who has a grudge against you. Two, and I’m afraid this is the only real option. Those fifty elders of the Nero Sect. Hunt them all down and devour their cores one by one. When you have consumed enough, you will naturally break through. Of course, that’s if you can stomach the slaughter of all these elders. But remember, this can be said to be cutting off the legs of the lion before hunting it tomorrow. You will need to fight most of these elders anyway to reach the patriarch. Taking them out early will only bring you benefits in the future. Decide, will you take an ordinary path of training, or will you enter the path of a reaper.”

     

                Lineir didn’t even hesitate for more than an instant. His enemies were enemies, and if he had a reason to kill them, he would. It was as simple as that. His conscious had almost gotten him killed before. Thus he had long ago chosen to let it die. Words like mercy and lenience were simply synonyms for regret and death in the dictionary of a cultivator. His Third Heart, his way, was to survive and to survive, you must eat!

  • edited September 2015
    Chapter 39-The Waiting Game
    Sup guys, know I've been a bit sparse lately, real busy with school and all that. This chapters coming a bit earlier than it should but I really want to write this arc at the moment. Hope yall like where it goes in the next five to six chapters.

     Over the next couple weeks, elders of the Nero Sect were brutally murdered one by one, two by two, and even three by three. Soon, every elder which was outside of the main sect had been slaughtered or had retreated to the inner sect sanctum. In this time, Lineir grew far more powerful. 

    While individually, his gains from absorbing the bloody hearts of cultivators could not be compared to the mythical fourth tier core he had fused with, when all was said and done, he had destroyed half the basis of the Nero Sect. Unlike before, he also planned out the attacks. Methodically, he would pick off an elder while he was separated, and then let the rest of the group go, until the hydra spirit inside of him grew hungry again. Then he would return and take another, and another. Only after a full twenty eight elders had been devoured did the Nero Sect finally realize they had been hunted by a terrifying figure in the dark, and call all their elders to hide. By this time, Mei had explained more about how her cultivation technique worked and exactly where Lineir stood.

    Simply put, there was the Rising Storm Stage to begin with. At the beginning of this stage, a disciple would form his Second Heart. As the practitioner grows more powerful, drawing upon the power of the elements grows easier and easier. Then at the peak of the rising storm stage, where Lineir was now, the whirlpool inside would cease to be simple ambient energy and condense into a thick stormy cloud cell. From here, Lineir would have stepped into another realm of power, the Gathering Storm Stage. Beyond this there was the Raging Storm stage, where the energy would actually condense to form rain, then the Dark Lightning Stage, and finally the Endless Thunder Stage. Beyond this, even Mei was unaware of exactly where to take her technique, though she had some ideas which she would tell Lineir when he grew strong enough to understand them. These stages were different from standard cultivation techniques. It was extremely difficult to compare different cultivation bases together based on their stage, because many followed different processes. For instance, the cultivation techniques of the Nero Sect and other backwater sects such as that were completely incomparable to Mei's. The techniques were essentially shortcuts, forming Second Hearts as quickly as possible in the hopes of funneling the energy to a patriarch. They were capped in development and could not even be mentioned. 

    "So in order to classify most cultivators, we go by the standard magical beast system. It is a much more accurate measure to say what tier of magical beast you can kill or be compared to than to talk of your cultivation technique which may vary wildly. You yourself, can be compared to a fourth tier magical beast now, after fusing with the mythical core. Indeed, this level of battle power is strong even for my  cultivation technique. You have simply too many strange abilities which make you far more dangerous than the average cultivator. While in terms of sheer power you cannot be matched with fifth tier beasts, against cultivators, you are like a terrifying nightmare which can conjure hidden claws and talons from the darkness to rend your foes to pieces. However, even a nightmare becomes weak in the light of day when people are together. Always remember that only unparalleled experts have the luxury of walking alone in the light. You, must always walk in the shadows." Mei was confident in her assessment of Lineir's abilities. He truly was an enemy which nobody of the same level would want to meet in a one on one fight. Bone scythes as built in weapons, a hidden snake assassination technique which could devour Second Hearts, the analytical ability granted from madness which could cause him to fight as if he was possessed, and Mei herself, an incomparably sharp sword. His future potential was endless with her guidance. 

    "But master, I am still one step away from the Gathering Storm Stage. However, all the elders of the Nero Sect have hidden with their patriarch. I don't dare go and fight them all at once until I enter the Gathering Storm Stage. But I have no ways to quickly gather cultivation. I can sense a breakthrough, but I can feel that I need more power to do so. Should I just kill wild magical beasts and harvest their cores until I go? How long will that take."

    Mei was skeptical. "No, while you yourself are comparably strong to a magical beast, at your level, it is difficult to kill most beasts which would be beneficial to you. They are rarer and many are simply too large for you to easily harm. While they might not be able to kill you, you similarly, cannot kill them. Take that False Water Serpent for instance. While your speed now would make you extremely difficult to catch on land for it, you lack the necessary power to deal large amounts of damage to it, and in the water you lack the speed to battle it completely. This would be what you would expect in many cases. I suggest you set up camp outside the Nero Sect. Eventually someone will be careless and wander outside. Then it will be easy for you to deal with them. In the meantime, you can practice cultivating, and the pressure will build on the Nero Sect." 

    So it was as Mei said. Lineir hid outside of the Nero Sect's camp, and cultivated everyday. One elder wandered too far outside once, and Lineir immediately ended his life. However, he was the only one, and all attempts to contact the outside world ceased after that. 

    "Ugh, they refuse to leave, but I am just a step away from the Gathering Storm Stage. Can it really be that I need to wait here until I break through just from cultivation?" Lineir griped about the lack of progress. He was so close, he could feel the energy inside him at the tipping point.

    "What are the Nero Sect waiting for anyway? They cannot hold out forever, eventually their patriarch will have to attempt to break free. Yet they continue to wait..."

    It was strange, the cultivation of those pathetic elders was so slow that Lineir wasn't worried about them whatsoever.  They would never break through to the next stage in their entire lives, especially with the Patriarch of the Nero Sect siphoning off their cultivation. However, the Patriarch was a different matter. Could it be that he was going to make a breakthrough? If he did, that would be disastrous, while Lineir didn't fear him one on one now, if he was to gain in power, combined with the surviving elders, Lineir absolutely would have no choice but to run away. 



    In the cultivation cave of the Nero Sect. 

    "Excellent elders of the Sect, continue cultivating! The stronger you are, the stronger the Nero Sect becomes, I myself am but a step away from a breakthrough. At that time, we will all break out together and exterminate this man who dares to keep us here!" The Patriarch of the Nero Sect roused his elders. They had no idea that he was using them to gain cultivation. His own cultivation efforts hardly mattered, as long as they cultivated, he gained! At that moment, elemental energy streamed around him, fusing into him faster and faster.

    "I'm breaking through! Continue cultivating disciples, when I finish we will leave!" 

    Outside the sect, Lineir felt a large amount of elemental energy gathering. 

    "Shoot, could it be that the Patriarch of the Nero Sect really has broken through?"



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