“Gentle Di’s Shamanic Services” had a lounge and waiting area when we first went inside. There were only a few dozen seats and the walls were covered in all sorts of magical engravings of various characters and runes. Every chair had a seal embroidered into the black leather. The front desk was to the left side of the room and there was plenty of papers all over the place.
He had to turn on the lights when we entered and it didn’t seem like anyone had been in there for a while. All of the doors and archways were over three meters high, so pretty much everybody was able to fit inside. In fact, from what he told me, Beast Tamers and Druids would bring in their Companions quite often.
If the people or monsters couldn’t fit in the waiting room, then he would have to go outside somewhere and perform the ‘services’ wherever it was convenient. Di brought me to his office, which was basically the same size as the lounge. There was a bookshelf with all sorts of medical, magical and pseudo-scientific tomes strewn about. Most of his important equipment was kept in locked extradimensional chests or in his ring, but there was plenty of other shit just laying around.
“Folks come from all over ta seek medical help in Hua Jiang Palace, so they got plenty uh different payment methods. Don’t matter if they use Herbs, Qi Crystals, Gold, Silver, Copper, Jade, Obsidian, Contribution Tokens… As long as it’s close in value ta what yer doin for em, it’s all good. For the moment though, just watch the shop. I gotta go hire some idiots ta do the simple shit for us! Ain’t no reason for the Shamans ta deal with paperwork, right? Hahahah~!”
After he left me in the waiting room alone, I grumbled “Seriously, what the fuck?! He pulled me away from a blowjob for this?!”
“Levi, I’m sorry I can’t make you feel good like Mei does…” A tiny white skull escaped from my mouth and expanded until it was the size of my head. There were vampiric fangs and demonic ram horns, while crimson lightning flickered from her empty eye sockets.
I smiled and gently caressed her smooth cranium, then hugged her against my chest. After releasing her from my grasp, I whispered “I’m sure that sooner or later, you’ll be able to do all sorts of stuff that she could never do. And I’m not just talking about sex.”
While I was having a touching moment with my Spirit Companion, a man in a hooded black robe opened the door. He seemed to be really fucking old and used a cane made out of bones to support himself. His dark-orange irises glimmered slightly, but his pupils were covered by cataracts.
“Little Di! I thought you finally died! Hyahahahah~!” The creepy little hunchback was only a little taller than me. As he entered the room, he sniffed the air and licked his crusty darkened lips, before asking “Oi, Di, is that you? Why aren’t you saying anything? Are you screwing with me again?”
A huge silver skeletal human lumbered inside behind him and growled “Master, Di isn’t here… It’s just some child and a tiny demonic skull ghost. Do you want me to kill them?” There was a gigantic obsidian spiked-mace in the monster’s left hand, which he immediately pointed towards me.
“Stop, stop it you damn moron! Why the hell do you try to murder everyone we meet?! Just do your job and shut up!” The old man swung his cane and used a surprising amount of force to smack that enormous mace away. Then he slowly moved closer towards me and said “So you’re that lunatic’s newest disciple, huh? Is he teaching you how to be a Shaman or a Necromancer though?”
I smirked, “Shaman, obviously… He told me that Necromancy was basically evil.”
“Hyahahaha~! Oh did he now?! Did he also tell you about his younger years?! Back when he was known as Bone Dragon Di? Hyahahahaha~!” As he was cackling hysterically, he suddenly started to cough violently and a thick black fog enveloped his entire body.
“No, he didn’t… Well, everybody has some kinda fucked up past, right? Hehehe~, anyway, did you just come here to say hi, or did you actually need something from him?” That elderly hunchback sucked that foul aura back inside of himself and obsidian blood started leaking out of the corners of his lips. He smelled like a sewer filled with rotting corpses, but I managed to avoid gagging somehow.
After a few seconds, he performed one of those fancy whispering techniques and murmured “My name is Long Liu, your master’s older brother.” He removed a mysterious and ominous book from a special ebony leather sheath that was on his left hip. It was pretty large and had the image of a bone dragon engraved in silver, on its inky surface. The old man continued “Tell ‘Gentle’ Di that I’m going home to finally seal away my grimoire in the Spirit Vault… Along with my soul. I wanted to see him one last time before I croaked, but I guess this was fate.”
As he opened the tome, hundreds of shadowy tendrils shot out and wrapped around the three-meter tall skeleton’s body. Within moments it shrunk down and was sucked into one of the pages. Liu smiled wryly, revealing his toothless mouth, then telepathically told me “Never trust Spirits! No matter how much they pretend to care about you… They’ll always sacrifice you for their own desires! Spirits, Beasts, Humans… For Cultivators, everyone else is merely a tool to be used and manipulated.”
I snickered, but my expression became serious. “Perhaps, but you’re forgetting about something really fucking important: Karma. Everything we do, anything that is done to us, it all evens out in the end. The more we use and abuse others, the more others will use and abuse us… The effect often happens before the cause as well. Well, what the fuck do I know, right? I’m just a kid… But my mother always said ‘Ya get back whatever ya give, tenfold.’ So, I’m nice, relatively speaking, heh-heh~! If someone threatens me, helps me, smiles at me, thanks me, tries to murder me… I’ll always return the favor and if I’m asked for help, as long as I don’t have some kinda grudge against the person or it’s some outrageous request, I would help the person.”
Long Liu cackled, before coughing and hacking uncontrollably. He pulled a handkerchief from the skull-shaped extradimensional ring on his right index finger and used it to wiped the putrefied blood off of his mouth. The old man smiled at me, whispering “If that’s the case, then we’ll probably meet again… When that time comes, I hope that you can do a favor for me.” After putting that grimoire back into its sheath, a small black oblong stone appeared in his left hand.
When he tossed it over to me, I unconsciously caught it. As it touched my right palm, I almost dropped it from the absurdly cold temperature. I complained “What is this? If this is a frozen hunk of shit, I’m gonna be pissed off…”
He sighed dramatically, explaining “No, it isn’t frozen and it definitely isn’t shit! This is the Long Family’s Legacy! The egg of a Shadow Dragon! Hyahahaha~! Well, it’s been passed down for a few thousand years and no one ever figured out how to hatch the damn thing! Back in the day, my little brother and I tried all kinds of terrible rituals in order to supply it with enough Yin and Death Qi… We eventually gave up though, just like all of our ancestors before us. Fuck! It really is a peice of shit, huh?! Hyahahaha~!”
Considering that the old man seemed senile, I didn’t take his crazy ramblings to heart and just put the stupid rock into my right pocket. I told him “Alright, even if it’s worthless, I’ll still hold onto it for you. If it turns into a giant monster that tries to eat me though, I’m gonna be kinda pissed.”
“That probably won’t happen, hyahahahahaha~!” After that, he left the lounge and I closed the obsidian door behind him. It seemed to be made out of a special black stone that was nearly weightless, but gave off warmth constantly.
Xiaotong floated over to my left shoulder and rubbed her horn against my cheek. She asked “Levi, do you really think that thing is a real dragon egg? I think that old man was playing a trick on you…”
I reached in my pocket and rubbed the weird, smooth stone. It felt like an icecube, so I couldn’t fondle it for very long. There was no magical draconic whispers in my mind and I didn’t sense any sort of urge to sacrifice people to the rock… At most, I figured that it might turn into a snake of some sort. I muttered “Aren’t dragon eggs supposed to be bigger?”
Anyway, the little ghost eventually shrunk down and went back inside of my mouth. How that worked, I honestly had no fucking clue. It was similar to what happened when Di took things out or put them into his special ring. I suspected that the Dantian organ had something to do with it, but then again, she was a Spirit. Xiaotong did have a semi-physical form, but it was mostly just Qi.