Mei was sick. On the first day, we figured it was just a really bad hangover. She would throw up every few hours and had a massive migraine. This happened after her little lesson ended by the way.
Unfortunately, vomiting wasn’t one of my many fetishes, so I was kind of turned off the whole time. Xiaotong was still ‘AFK’ and even when I tried to talk to her, she wouldn’t wake up. I was starting to get a bit worried, but I thought that it probably had to do with my Karma Sutra bullshit.
On the other hand, I didn’t feel run down or nauseous at all. If it was some sort of flu or food poisoning, I would have probably caught it as well. Curses? Bitch please, I’m a Shaman motherfucker. I was always super-sensitive to Spiritual nonsense and I was a hundred-percent sure that it wasn’t that.
My fancy magical Lunar Pendant that constantly spewed out Yin Qi? The first thing I did was take that off and place it into my bag to allow the two of us to sweat our asses off as nature intended. That ominous Shadow Dragon Egg? It didn’t seem to be doing much of anything on its own, just chilling in my pouch.
There was a single ‘doctor’ on-board… The Witchdoctor, also known as Vice-Captain Hua Ri Jing, checked out Mei’s condition. In her own words, this was literally her medical opinion: “The Heavens are angry with her for stealing the virginity of a child… This is a Heavenly Punishment. Well, either that or she’s going through menopause, who the fuck really knows? I sure as hell don’t! Anyway, don’t drink alcohol for at least a week. Get some rest and hopefully you’ll feel better soon… Now I’ve got other patients to deal with, so I’ll talk to you guys later.”
That night, after Mei finally managed to fall asleep, I finally decided to ‘bond’ with my second Spirit. I was wearing nothing but a pair of loose grey wool boxers, while sitting atop my stacked up rifle and shotgun cases. If I was on the floor then I wouldn’t have been able to see out the window.
There was a cockroach in my hands, though it wasn’t moving. That little critter seemed to be carved out of a ruby or some other type of gemstone, but I suspected that it was something far more valuable.
“Geez, I really ripped Ying off, huh? Well, she did destroy my shop and I lost my left eye because of her shenanigans… indirectly.”
When a human is in the Master Stage, their densest Qi is compressed into small crystals, which are submerged in an extremely thick and viscous mana-juice. Beasts have Dantians and basically go through the same process, though depending on their size, it’s technically possible for them to store much more mana. Of course, the downside to being huge is that you need more energy to fuel your massive body.
One possibility was that someone killed thousands of Masters or maybe a hundred enormous Rank-C Beasts. There were Alchemists who had ways of fusing them together into a single object, like a certain mysterious cockroach sculpture. However, there was more to Zhang Lang’s body than that.
The outside was probably made out of a combination of Qi crystal shards and some type of super-dense Fire-attribute metal, but the inside was something else entirely. There was a Qi Core within the center of its abdomen. Judging by the size, it must have belonged to a small Rank-B Beast. Under normal circumstances it was impossible to tell, but when I injected a tiny bit of my mana into the ruby-red insect, that core started pulsating.
As I continued to channel my Qi into the Elemental, it seemed to come to life. Its feelers were moving around and it started scanning the area with its tiny pitch-black eyes. Honestly, it just looked like a fancy roach at first glance. Even in such a hot and humid environment, it still managed to heat up the air surrounding its carapace.
When I tried to drain a bit of its fiery power, I heard a loud screech inside of my mind. It felt like my lungs were going to explode and dozens of phantom cockroaches were streaming out of Zhang Lang’s core. They began biting and gnawing on my forearms, while trying to reclaim all of that Fire Qi.
Unlike Li Xiu Ying, I didn’t have fucktons of yummy scalding mana in my pussy, so they didn’t try to infest any of my orifices. Once they took all their Qi back, they assimilated into their Elemental form.
I sighed dramatically, muttering “Is it even intelligent enough to become a Spiritual Companion? Actually, Xiaotong was kinda… dumb when we first met too. I guess it probably doesn’t matter that much. I mean, babies are always idiots until they start learning shit. It’s when they become teenagers that their brains usually stop working, heh-heh-heh~…”
Unlike with the crimson skull, that ruby roach actually had a physical form. It couldn’t just enter inside of my Dantian without some sort of magical mumbo-jumbo. As I continued to channel my Nature mana into its body, it just stayed there contently. All it seemed to care about was absorbing Qi. I could ‘sense’ that it had no deeper desires than pure gluttony.
Xiaotong was lonely, she liked me, she even had an alter ego with a hidden agenda. She also understood that with my Innate Talent, it would be easier for her to get stronger. When I thought back to that time, before she could talk to me or anything like that, I remembered that it started with her trying to eat me. Obviously she wasn’t able to do any real damage, but she could totally drain some of my mana rather easily. I just didn’t have much of it and wasn’t able to do anything with the stuff.
What it always came down to was Innate Talent. It manifested in the form of tiny glowing dark-violet crystals in my irises, but it was much deeper than that simple physical sign. Even without my left eye, my ability to absorb, refine and manipulate Qi didn’t get any weaker.
I took a deep breath, sucking in the cool Yin, Water, Nature and Fire Qi that was floating around in the air outside. It was only an inhalation, but it seriously looked like a beautiful vortex of various shades of gray, blue, green and red. There were ways to simulate what I was doing, such as simply entering a place with extremely dense atmospheric mana, using complicated arrays, Cultivation Methods, and Secret Techniques.
Sure, I could totally do the same thing and I would be able to absorb and refine Qi much more quickly… Unfortunately, it would be kind of pointless at the Apprentice Stage. To put it into perspective, Di was a peak-level Expert and without using his Cultivation Method, he wouldn’t have been able to keep up with my absorption speed. Refining took way more effort and time than the initial intake of mana, but it was still comparable to the old man. The main problem though, was that I didn’t have anything to do with it! I didn’t know any magic and I only had Xiaotong, plus, my Dantian was totally full.
In order to improve my strength in the Apprentice Stage, I basically needed to do crazy exercises while using Qi to regenerate my muscles, bones and skin. Without a gym, I honestly had no clue what I was supposed to do. So, with no way to level-up, my only option was to improve myself in other areas.
Anyway, I had an idea of what I needed to do in order to ‘convince’ Zhang Lang to become my Spirit Companion. I placed the critter over my belly button and released a stream of unrefined Fire Qi from my Dantian directly to my pores.
“Ow, ow, ow~, holy fucking shit… Ugh, just, stop biting me and go inside~… Penetrate me~…”
Yeah, it seemed totally content with only nibbling on the tiny bits of mana that were flowing out of my navel. Maybe rather gluttony, it would be better to say that the roach’s main aspect was utter laziness. It had no ‘greed’ or ‘lust’ so I couldn’t seem to tempt it to become my Companion.
When I plucked it off of my belly button and held it up to my face, I glared at its beady eyes and murmured “Why won’t you become my Spirit Companion? You would definitely have way more mana than now… Aren’t you interested? Don’t you want to get stronger? Are you truly satisfied with your current situation? You’re nothing more than a cockroach-agh~!”
At that moment, it hissed and jumped into my empty eye socket. It felt like that motherfucker was trying to kill me!
“Goddamn it! What the hell is with Spirits and eyes?! Gah~! Ow~!”
Personally, I don’t really have any phobias against insects or animals, but I know that a lot of people do… Which is hilarious. I’m not saying that I would want to have cockroaches crawling on me, but living in the city, it’s just something that happens sometimes. My brother has a full-blown phobia of roaches to the point where he has an anxiety attack every time he sees one. My parents go on a rampage trying to murder roaches at every chance they get.
Me? I usually don’t kill them unless they personally offend me lol. Like, if they stay on the floor where they belong and don’t try to crawl on my feet/legs, then I won’t go out of my way to kill them. However, if one of those dirty little fuckers crawls on my desk, chair or anything that I consider ‘clean’, they’re taking a swim in the toilet or getting sprayed with bleach lmao.
Of course, there’s a big difference between an actual cockroach and a magical spiritual cockroach. If it would give me superpowers, I’d do pretty much anything though :P. Don’t you love how in most TV shows or movies, the generic antagonist is always doing some sketchy shit to get more powerful? Then the protagonists are always like “You can’t kill those rapists and murderers! It’s wrong!”
Like dude, they’re doing the world a favor and you’re trying to stop them because what? Half the time the antagonists aren’t even slightly related to the protagonists. They’re just doing their own thing, killing other generic baddies, but the ‘heroes’ come along and make everything escalate dramatically. Then they keep fighting with the villains until a bunch of innocent bystanders or close friends and family of the two opposing parties end up dying, so their vendettas get deeper and darker. Yet the main difference between the protagonists and the villains is usually that the villains are willing to kill, while the protagonists are pulling their punches the whole time.
Take Batman for example… How many fucking times has the Joker murdered or raped people he cared about? Yet he just keeps on sending the Joker to Arkam, even though he escapes or gets released within the week.
Daredevil is the same way. My favorite part of the Daredevil series was the Punisher! Frank Castle only had a few episodes in the second-half of the second season, yet his character was a hundred times more relatable and realistic! I think I almost cried during that graveyard monologue lmao. Yet whenever something bad happened to someone that Daredevil cared about, I was just like “Welp, what the actual fuck did you expect would happen? You basically just pissed off hundreds of hardened criminals and then threw them into a prison that they control! You’re fighting these ninjas, who are literally trying to murder you, and you’re trying not to kill them! You’re fighting against your own allies just because their methods are more effective and logical than yours!”