“You stupid fucking brat!” That familiar raspy voice pulled me out of an awesome sex-dream. I was having a foursome with a centaur, a snake-woman and a spider-girl, but then an ugly old man appeared. Even though I wanted to say something sarcastic and offensive, I couldn’t even open my mouth.
“There ain’t no point tryin ta move, Kid, yer paralyzed. Didn’t I tell ya ta never go into that death-trap?! Especially not during a freakin thunderstorm! I can’t believe ya even tried ta absorb a Spirit without me there ta make sure ya don’t die!” I do sort of remember him mentioning those things…
“If I didn’t wake up in time, you’d be dead already! Hell, ya still might not make it at this rate… Yer probably gonna have brain damage, since yer heart and lungs weren’t working for at least an hour or two. I had ta use Lingzhi Hookworms ta get rid uh the necrotic tissue and put ya back together. Well, yer foundations were still garbage and yer young, so ya didn’t really lose too much…”
I slipped in and out of consciousness for a while, but Di wasn’t there most of the time. Finally, there was just darkness. For a while, I thought that maybe I died and wound up back in that empty void.
“Levi… Don’t leave me… I’m scared of the dark…” A translucent bright-red skull appeared in front of me, so I tried to reach out and grab it by instinct. Unfortunately, it seemed like I didn’t have any arms. The most I could do was just slowly float towards ‘her’.
“Xiaotong, don’t be afraid… Come here.” It had been so long since I heard my old voice, I was starting to think that I always sounded like a child. That tiny Spirit flew over to my face and split in half, transforming into two bolts of lighting, which zapped my eyeballs.
“Ow~!” I immediately sat upright and glanced around me. The old man was sitting in a rocking chair beside my bed and woke up after hearing me yell.
“Finally! I was worried ya might have slipped into a coma again!” The first thing I did was check my left hand and saw the symbol that meant ‘nine’. After breathing out a sigh of relief, I looked at the back of my right hand and frowned.
I turned to Di and asked “What the hell does this mean? Kinda looks like Japanese… Wait, how long was I asleep? I don’t even see any scars…”
He snickered, reaching out and slapping me in the mouth. Then he grumbled “Ya damn moron! Do ya have any idea how hard it was ta keep ya from dying?! Yer meridians were wrecked, so I had ta make new ones for ya! All yer vital organs aside from yer Dantian were trashed… I had ta make a deal with an old frenemy in order ta save ya! Well, it was still worth it… You’ve been outta it fer a month now. Hehehe~, I knew ya were special, and not just in yer head! Ya actually managed ta make Little Xiaotong yer Spirit Companion! Not just that, but even when ya were on yer deathbed, ya still kept cultivating properly. I’m proud uh ya!
“Even after all them drugs, yer Innate Talent is still intact somehow.” My body felt a lot more powerful and I noticed that Di didn’t seem quite as gigantic anymore. He smirked and told me “Now listen up, Kid, this is important. Yer officially a Shaman now! So I guess it’s time ta tell ya a few secrets… First off, Spirits make us stronger. That’s a little obvious, but still… It also means that we need ta generate more energy and Qi in order ta sustain them. Spirits have Innate Talent too, but it changes as they Evolve, same thing as Beasts. For example, Little Xiaotong is only a bright-red Rank-G Thunder Spirit right now. She’s been around for hundreds uh years and hasn’t been able to Evolve on her own yet. That’s cause she’s weak as shit.”
I smiled wryly, muttering “Yet she still nearly killed me… So I’m guessing that’s why you said that you couldn’t keep up with Leo?”
“Yeah, when he was a kitten his Innate Talent was terrible. I honestly didn’t have much hope for him, but well, I was already a peak-level Expert at the time. Course, I also had other Spirits back then… It ain’t like Spirits are invincible, nor do they need ta stay with ya forever. Sometimes they pass on willingly, or get destroyed in battle… Leo could’ve left me ages ago, but he’s too damn attached. I’m afraid that he might be planning to die with me… Then there’s Necromancers and Exorcists. If you ever encounter either of those assholes, be careful. They might be able ta sense the ghosts ‘haunting’ ya. The Necros will wanna kill ya and enslave yer Spirits, while the Exorcists would either try and ‘save’ ya or execute ya for being a Shaman.”
The old man suddenly pulled out a hand-mirror from his storage ring and held it up to my face. My hair had grown down to my nipples and my upper-body seemed a bit more defined, but the most important thing was that my irises were glowing slightly bright-red, instead of dark-violet.
He snickered, explaining “Don’t worry, this is just a side-effect… When ya have a Spirit in yer Dantian, its Innate Talent will mask yer own. That’s one uh the main reasons I wanted ya ta catch Little Xiaotong… I also wanted ta finally be able ta bury my granddaughter. I know ya watched that damn recording, so there’s no use tryin ta hide it from ya. Rong Xiaotong was the name of my daughter’s oldest kid. Her talent was about the same as mine and she was an Apprentice Shaman… The stupid brat had seven more years ta become an Adept, but she was being pressured by her mother and those shitty Rong Clan fuckers! Whatever, the point is that she died and purposefully trapped her soul within that tree-house, until she eventually lost all her memories and became a Spirit. Whether that ghost is still the same girl I knew or not, I honestly don’t have any idea…”
As he said the words ‘Rong Clan’, I felt a strong urge rising up from deep within my gut. All my muscles tensed up, while I clenched my teeth and fists uncontrollably. Once he finished talking, I let out a long sigh and tried to calm myself down a bit. Then I heard a little girl murmuring “I hate the Rong Clan… I want them all to die. Levi needs to kill them for me, okay?”
Apparently the old man couldn’t hear that, because he just continued speaking. “There ain’t no real limit ta how many Spirit Companions ya can have at one time. It all depends on whether or not ya can keep em all interested in staying with ya. They all want different things. For example, that freakin Terror Pixie… If ya wanted ta form a bond with her, you’d probably have ta go massacre a village or two. Which is something that ya ain’t gonna do! I wouldn’t even need ta step in, cause Long Bai would kill ya himself! As long as yer a lot stronger than them though, Spirits will usually be attracted ta ya even if ya don’t want em ta be. Now get up! Ya wasted enough time already!”
Oddly enough, my body wasn’t even slightly sore. It felt more like I got twelve hours of sleep, not sixty days. He put the rocking chair and mirror back into his overpowered magical ring and stood up, quickly leaving the room. I was totally naked, but considering that I was basically in a coma, that wasn’t very surprising. The weird thing was that my bed seemed surprisingly clean, as if it was brand new.
As I stood up, there was a surge of electricity that shot throughout my body. Red sparks jumped across my fingers and ran up my arms, before going back inside of me. However, I couldn’t tell if they were ‘real’ or illusory. When I looked out my window, I could see that it was dark and Khonsu was high in the night sky. That particular moon was Khonsu, the one with blue oceans and crimson continents. Since there was no way for me to tell how far it actually was from me, it could have been another planet for all I knew.
Then I noticed that the jungle gym was totally destroyed and that tree-house at the top was completely gone. The sand had been turned into glass and the metal bars were melted down into a clump. Honestly, it seemed even more like a modern art sculpture.
Instead of putting clothes on right away, I went over to the bathroom and took a quick shower. I also had to piss pretty badly, though my urine was pitch-black and smelled worse than a rotting corpse. It literally felt like I was shitting out of my dick or maybe just passing like twenty kidney stones at the same time.
As I screamed in agony, I heard Di laughing outside the bathroom door. He yelled “Oh yeah, I forgot ta tell ya bout the side effects of them herbs I gave ya! Don’t worry though, yer just cleansing the toxins from yer body… Should only last another few days! Hang in there kid! Hahaha~!”
It felt so disgusting that I had to take another shower after pissing out that tar. After getting out of the bathroom, I went back to my room and picked out one of the generic white, button-up t-shirts, plus a pair of black boxers and brown pants.
By the time I made it to the kitchen, the old man had cooked up so much food that the entire table was full of steaming bowls. There was all sorts of soups: Wonton, egg-drop, hot and sour, miso, and ramen. I could tell that aside from the ‘normal’ ingredients, there were also plenty of special spices mixed in.
When he saw me playing with a weird-looking mushroom with my chopsticks, Di bragged “I’ve been savin a lotta these Rank-G herbs in case ya had trouble breaking through in time, though that probably won’t be a problem anymore. Pills and drugs might be more potent, but if ya know how ta cook em right, herbs and other ingredients can be used without worrying about the side-effects.”