Hardcore: Qi Worlds

Chapter 105

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Fury meditated before training. His days were completely menial. He had gladiator training during the day and half the night was spent servicing the Myrkalfar royals. He would only rest for a quarter of a day, he chose meditation as it enhanced his training and gave him more rejuvenation than sleep.

He would lie down for a small amount of time, relax with Scintilla, before meditating until breakfast was held in the Gladiator canteen.

Scintilla was bored out of her mind, only getting him for a small portion of the day until he got her included in the Gladiator school. Sometimes, she would train with him when they completed exotic drills or she would assist him when he duelled challengers. 

She did small things supportive things; wiping him down with a wet cloth or rousing him from meditation when his next challenger arrived. Ghehena was the one to advise and admonish his tactics and performance. 

Physically, she was his equal. If anything, she was faster and agiler. But when it came to qi body techniques, his skill exceeded hers by a large enough margin to give him superiority in any physical activity. His qi enhanced speed, strength, and even agility were a tier above hers.

Where Scintilla excelled was her instincts. Without the use of strategy, prediction or any qi techniques, she would just feel the need to dodge or turn a feint into an attack. After years of following her instincts in the arena and practice, they were honed to the sharpest point.

It was these same instincts which encouraged her to form a pack with Fury. Despite his changing nature, from naïve to abusive and then finally to caring and protective, her instincts told her that he was good. He was safe. He was worthy. 

Her instincts were proven right, she was now in a better place thanks to him and they were happy together. Her instincts also told her things were about to change again. The Val’Tien began tomorrow and if Fury won it would change everything. Her instincts did not tell her he was going to win, just that change was coming, a great change.

Fury had requested a practice yard to himself. His new technique was coming along nicely and he wanted to spend as much time on it as possible, honing it before the Val’Tien started in earnest.

Tomorrow was the pre-qualifiers and since he had no ranking whatsoever, had never competed before, and Scydhel had refused to pay for a higher tier entry, he would have to fight his way through two or three pre-qualifying bouts, before entering the last sixteen.

Fury could summon up to six qi daggers. He could make them any shape he wished but he liked daggers. They were efficient at carving holes. This ability would be utilised to penetrate an opponent's shield, armour, or core.

The first stage was creating one dagger, improving its shape and more importantly, its structure. The weave was more important than the actual outside shape. If the dagger was not dense or strong enough, it would not penetrate even the weakest shield.

Fury could create two intricately weaved daggers, each one taking a few heartbeats to summon. This was a speed acquired after days of practice and meditation. 

If a sealer could create a tattoo which created his qi dagger, he could do so instantaneously, but it was not something they could do. Sealers seemed limited to patterns they had studied for years, and they rarely added new ones to their repertoires.

He could also create six normal weaved daggers and control their flight. These were not as efficient at breaking through shields as the intricate daggers, but they had their place in overwhelming an opponent, where numbers were more important than power.

Fury had been studying the shields of various warriors. In particular, the Myrkalfar had a similar weave structure to their shields.

 Ghehena was extremely helpful, erecting his shield for hours on end so he could change the shape and structure of his qi dagger. Time was limited, he could not crack the design right now as he was unable to work out the underlying theory, and trial and error took forever.

What he did know was that two of his intricate daggers would bring down Ghehena’s shield, and Ghehena was no slouch. He was a former champion of the Val’Tien.

There was one drawback to controlling two daggers, Fury could not commit to any other techniques other than powering his armour and weapons. What he practised on the last day before the Val’Tien was shooting off two qi daggers, letting them dissipate and then following up with all his qi body and martial techniques. 

He was unable to control the daggers as far as he could see clearly. It was a strain at fifty paces and became exponentially harder beyond that point. Also, the further the daggers got from him, the more they drained his qi core. Qi did not like leaving the body, it fought and punished you when you made it do so.

Fury practised sending a qi dagger straight with no changes in direction, just to see how far it would go. At a hundred paces, it dropped in speed and began to unravel, losing strength until it finally collapsed at a hundred and fifty paces. 

“This technique is powerful,” Ghehena stated, “I am a little jealous. I do not have your talent for learning new skills.” Although he was a Myrk Paladin and Fury’s jailor, Ghehena was also his trainer. His only problem was he was a slave to the Daughter of Val’Sharam.

Fury knew that this was the way of the society, but it did feel wrong to him, for one so strong to be totally subservient to another. No matter how capable his master was, surely there were times where his own mind should dictate his actions. However, it was not so with a Myrkalfar Knight or a Myrk Paladin. The males always had a female mistress. Whether it was a sister, a mother, or someone of power they had sworn to.

Fury had also worked out that his place in their society was a lie. He must have been captured and mind wiped. The whole amnesia story was false. But he played along for now, at least until his meeting with the Daughter tonight. At that time, they would discuss his freedom upon becoming the champion of the Val’Tien.

“This technique still needs improvement,” Fury acknowledged Ghehena’s praise and downplayed it. “I will not release it in the Val’Tien until it is needed, it would best be a surprise.”

“Agreed,” Ghehena said, “they have seen everything else in your challenge matches, this will be your only surprise. I would have preferred a couple more. The last few matches will be intense. But I have confidence in you, you are stronger than I was when I won.”

“That may be so, but that does not mean that the competition has not improved,” Fury responded. He had been going easy with teasing Ghehena today, which did not mean he would not lull the Paladin into a false sense of security and set him up for a massive blow. He had a reputation to uphold.

“You should meditate on this technique until nighttime,” Ghehena suggested, “there is little training for you to complete now and I would prefer you to be rested for tomorrow.”

“If you want me to be rested, perhaps you can stick your cock in all the royal hiney's tonight,” Fury let Ghehena taste his disrespect. It would be out of place not to give at least one barb.

Ghehena sighed and shook his head.

Fury laughed at him and the Paladin had no retort, Scydhel was a much better sport.

Scintilla came up to his side.

“We retire?” she asked with her purring voice.

 “We do,” Fury replied.

She placed her arm inside his and leaned her head against his shoulder, “Oh, this is a treat.”

Ghehena called, “Rest. You need rest,” as they departed.

Fury thought that Ghehena need not worry, his libido may be strong but servicing up to six royal hiney’s per a night had it in check.

“I will massage you,” Scintilla growled sweetly.

Fury did not need a massage, he had qi body techniques which worked out soreness and tiredness from his muscles. But he nodded. Scintilla’s massages were pleasurable in and of themselves. She enjoyed giving them, touching, pressing, and rubbing him all over gave her as much pleasure as it gave him. It was not sexual, although they could have been if not for the overexertion already in that area.

Scintilla had strong hands, albeit she had to be careful of her long nails. Her body was an immaculate collection of muscles, from her feline legs to her tanned chest and shoulders. She had a mane of black hair on her head which draped down her back and over her shoulders. Her tail was long and black as well. In her current form, her arms, chest, and groin were covered in white skin, as was her face. 

She had markings in the form of long black stripes, which ended in a point. If she wasn’t a werepanther, you would assume they were tattoos. Despite her strength, she did not weigh much; she was light and fast naturally. Her other distinctive feline features were her ears, tiny black panther ears that stuck up on each side of her head.

Her current ability allowed her to have three forms and she had informed Fury that some werepanthers had four or even five. Her’s ranged from her current form, mostly humanoid, to full bipedal panther, and lastly full panther. The elders of her race could also change into full human and on extremely rare occasion, a divine beast version of a panther. She had only heard stories about the last, and in them, they were not actually a werepanther. The entity involved was a divine beast with the four other forms.

After relaxing for the longest time he could remember, Scydhel arrived at his cell. It must have been approaching what the Myrkalfar classed as night. Not that Fury could tell as they were underground, but the Myrkalfar still worked to overworld cycles in order to fit in with their overworld activities.

Scydhel waved Scintilla away, she did not even deign to speak to her. Scintilla bowed her head and left. She had her own cell nearby, which was never locked. She would come and visit Fury whenever he was alone.

“I see you are relaxed,” Scydhel began.

“I was,” Fury replied smartly.

She smiled disdainfully. She did not actually care if he was relaxed or not, she was just making small talk. He still had a link with her, although she had learned how to close it without disconnecting. She kept it closed most of the time now, unless she was curious about what he was thinking or feeling. She had it open as she wanted to read him during this discussion.

“How was training?” she asked.

“As you expect. We train hard; leave no stone unturned. Ghehena said he would take my place tonight servicing your sisters and cousins, as he would like me to rest. Be sure to send them to him,” Fury said sarcastically. 

Scydhel patted her belly, she had told him two nights prior that she was pregnant, as were two other royals. This was quite a feat since their long lives contributed to a low level of fertility. The herbs they used to increase their chances of falling pregnant were working. 

“I think you can have one night off but that will be before the finals, not tonight,” she said.

“Ghehena will be pleased,” he joked.

Scydhel did not react, this was par for the course from Fury, he would have to do a lot better to get a rise out of her.

“Have you contemplated what we discussed regarding your sense of purpose?” she asked timidly. This was the only thing she wanted to discuss, everything else was polite preamble. The link was open, and Fury could read her like a book.

Fury stood, he flexed in front of her, stretching his limbs as if it helped him decide something important.

“I have,” he answered her question directly.

“And…,” she said, exploring the link for any clues.

“It is important to you, I can tell,” he said, and she closed the link.

He smiled at her, “You need not worry. Where am I to go?” 

“It would be better if you felt free and gave yourself freely,” she said.

“Yes, you are right,” he said quietly and went silent.

She sighed. “Why don’t we do this properly then. Your reward for winning the Val’Tien will be your freedom. And after that, if you chose to serve me, you will do so as a free knight.”

He smiled at her, “Are you so confident that I will give myself to you?”

She shifted nervously, “No, I am not.”

“Then you plan to kill me if I do not?” he asked.

She bristled and stood, losing her composure briefly, “How dare you impune my honour.”

He laughed in her face.

She would have turned red if she was capable.

“You forget the double-edged sword you wield,” he stated and then accentuated each word by pointing his finger at her, “I…know…you.”

She now stood, her nostrils flaring. She was adorable when angry, others were afraid of her but not Fury. She could not affect him with her powerful aura or with her devious games. She was powerless in front of him.

“You have just helped me make my decision, you will not be freed,” she said.

He leaned in close to her and said softly, “Do you want me as an enemy?”

She took a step back, suddenly afraid. He did not know what he was, but she did not want the second qi sage as an enemy, it seemed her attempts to bind him to her had failed.

She gathered herself, “It is me,” she said harshly, “that you do not want as an enemy.”

He laughed at her again.

“How stupid do you think I am?” he asked, “you have always been my enemy.”

This statement was the last thing she had expected him to say. He had never behaved as if he viewed her as an enemy; despite his atrocious behaviour, he acquiesced with her desires.

She opened and closed her mouth. No words came.

“Let me assist you Daughter,” he stated, “why did you purchase me for three thousand qi kernels, agree to onerous terms, and then send the entire female population of your royal lineage to my cell to be impregnated by me at their most fertile time?”

Scydhel had no answer for that. He had been so naïve and such a clown that she never thought he was speculating the inequities in his treatment compared to his backstory. The damn fucking Dread Lord wiping his memories and then lying to him. She made this bed that Scydhel was now lying in. At first, she thought it was a masterstroke in controlling him but now she was not so sure.

At a loss for a strategy, she said, “Your current dilemma is not of my making. As you know, I purchased you like this.”

“Ah, yes, as I said, I am not stupid, but you did not answer my question dear Daughter,” he replied.

“You are extraordinarily talented, we want to use your qi core to enhance our bloodline,” she answered with a half-truth.

He smiled at her, but the smile did not meet his eyes. She considered his growth since arriving. If she was to guess, he seemed to be becoming more and more like his old self. But she did not know his old self that well. Perhaps, the only way to control him in the long term was to keep wiping his memory, so that he was manageable. As he grew into his powers, it would become more difficult and eventually impossible to keep him by force.

“And what of my past? Where am I from?” he asked, although he never expected an honest answer.

“You are from a place called Earth,” she answered, “but you did not seem to be happy there. You left them to go to the place where the Dread Lord Azrul captured you. That is about the extent of what I know truly,” she said, “you were captured alone, so there is no one to give us more information.”

“That is a start,” he said, “is there anyone from Earth here I can speak to?”

It was her turn to laugh. “They would never dare to venture here,” she lied,  she herself had tens of thousands of earth qi slaves.

“Then I have a proposition for you,” he said.

Scydhel did not like the sound of that but she nodded.

“I will stay and comply willingly to your demands for me while you meet my demands,” he said.

Scydhel scoffed. She had paid three thousand qi kernels for him, he was her slave. He had the gall to ask for her to meet his demands? Her upbringing and culture had a hard time contemplating this offer. Let alone her peers and Queen would dice her into small pieces if they found out she made such a deal.

Although, he was the second qi sage.

“Let me think on it,” she said truthfully for a change, “it is not our way. But you are a special case, so allowances could be made.”

A small voice could be heard from outside the cell.

“Ah, my sister is here, complete your duties and get a good rest before tomorrow. I will not wish you luck, you will not need it,” she said confidently.

Chapter Notes:

Chapter 105: Captive 13

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