Hardcore: Qi Worlds

Chapter 95

Chapter 95: Captive 3

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 Fain and Dyrk walked back to their abode, a nest of attached living and work areas. The entire coterie lived and worked together with a few exceptions. The grandmaster sealer had returned to his home, as he was one of those exceptions, earlier that evening. He hadn’t needed to hang around for the memory wipe.

They were alone and had put the Dread Lords castle well behind them.

“Did you get it all?” Fain asked.

Dyrk pulled out a crystal from beneath his robe, “of course Doyen.” Dyrk was a talented empath as well as extremely cunning. A dangerous mix of ability and personality.

“I am impressed how well you use your affinity Dyrk, did you get a read on the Dread Lord to see what she was planning?” Fain asked.

“She is an open book. Unfortunately, my skills cannot add to what is blatantly obvious,” Dyrk answered.

“She knows nothing of her captive?” Fain asked.

“Nothing that was not apparent. All she knows is he is valuable, and she seeks to profit from him, whether by sale or use I am uncertain. As I said, nothing the sealer could not glean with no empathic ability,’ Dyrk responded.

“We shall soon see, hopefully, we can learn from what you stored in the crystal,” Fain stated.

“I hope so,” Dyrk said, “a quick scan did not reveal much to me. He seems to like to fight and fuck. Perhaps that is why he is valued by royalty across the Empire.” He laughed at his summary and assessment. A scholars disdain for the base amusements of the royal and warrior castes was natural.

Fain looked up, admiring the bioluminescent glow emanating from the stalactites above, the path was clear as the Queen had the stalagmites removed. “I do like this section of the grotto,” she said wistfully.

They walked the rest of the way in silence, Fain was lost in contemplation.

Upon arrival, before they parted to their different rooms in the nest Fain informed Dyrk, “We will hold a conclave tomorrow, where you will summarise the memories, ensure you miss nothing of importance. We will vote before we break trust with a client.”

Fain and the coterie did not see hiding the fact they kept the memories from the strange slave as breaking faith with a client. It was only acting on that information or handing it over to a rival which would be viewed as breaking trust. The coterie had many similar secret artefacts in their possession to the crystal filled with the slave's memories.

Dyrk spent all night and the next morning scanning the memories. Usually, he would spend months doing this, however, Fain wanted a summary the following day, and Fain usually got what she wanted.

The conclave had every principal member of the coterie present, they were all skilled qi scholars or artisans, while families would be housed and fed as part of the coterie, only the principals would vote.

The preamble was short thanks to the need for efficiency, if the coterie was not working, they were not earning and any spare time was usually used for research purposes.

After announcing the reason for the vote was whether they should break faith with the Dread Lord, their client as of yesterday and utilise the information regarding the strange captive, Fain concluded they must analyse the value of slave first.

“I would like to bring forward Dyrk to summarise the memories acquired from the slave yesterday,” Fain handed over the floor to Dyrk.

Dyrk cleared his throat, he was an excellent wiper and empath, not so much a speaker, “the memories can be broken into two segments, with the second segment containing the most interesting elements. The elements are numerous, with one in particular, being astonishing.”

Dyrk was not given to embellishment, Fain had not received an update before the meeting as it was necessary for Dyrk to have as much time as possible, and for him to say something was astonishing had significance. All present would know this.

“The slave of the Dread Lord, we shall henceforth refer to as the Captive, had a primarily mundane existence in a rather exotic plane of men. This plane has had recent dealings with the Qizhu and Myrkalfar but for over a millennium has not been subject to any raids due to its technology and its extremely low qi quotient. A mundane coterie from this world, known as the Qi Worlds Project, sent the captive to a contorted plane, the captive referred to this plane as Basal.

“On this contorted plane the captive began to develop qi techniques, where on his original plane he had not shown any ability. In the interest of brevity, I will summarise the technique development and summarise three key events that I scanned,” Dyrk went on.

“The captive had developed numerous body techniques and a couple of very interesting mobility techniques, one of his own invention, he called shunpo. Astoundingly he mimicked a qi ability from the wood elves, the tree-run ability. When I refer to this as astounding, I have no words for which I scanned next. The captive studied troll’s innate healing, he was able to discern the patterns and characteristics of their qi when they regenerated.”

There was a large intake of breath, and a lot of mumbling, this sort of study was not something they thought possible. The grandmaster sealer knew now that the Dread Lord had witnessed the results of this learning firsthand.

Fain held up her hand for quiet and indicated Dyrk to continue.

“Do not get excited, we are just warming up,” Dyrk said with his dry sense of humour. “The captive then began to mimic the troll and where he could not, he began to experiment and innovate. The captive would be classified as a master qi healer at least.” Even Fain was impressed with this news.

“Wait,” Dyrk said, “the captive then taught himself to use qi abilities remotely in other qi practitioners, by connecting to their core and using their own qi circulation, but conducting the manipulation himself,” this was one of the three different methods of remote manipulation. “He then began to use qi healing techniques remotely.”

Dyrk could probably have ended there, it was enough for them to break faith. To a bunch of qi scholars, this was insanely tempting information, the captive must have been talented, and if they could learn this from him, it would be worth a fortune not to mention how appealing this knowledge would be to a scholar.

Fain began to wind Dyrk up, or he would explain every technique the captive could utilise, and at this point it was unnecessary.

“Very well, I will end with the two events which have the largest impact on how we need to view the captive,” Dyrk stated.

“This captive has met Scydhel, Myrkalfar Daughter of the House Val’Sharah in a testing tower,” Dyrk did not need to explain further, everyone knew what that meant, he was the Benzhi she sought causing an avalanche of copycat bounties from the other Royal Houses.

“Now for the memory which eclipses even that. Please remain calm, we do not need you tottering older scholar dying from shock,” with this introduction even Fain was nervous what Dyrk was going to reveal, “the captive has the same affinity as the Qi Sage confirmed by none other than an Aether Dweller.”

As expected nearly every member stood and shouted at him. Dyrk merely held steady, they were no upset with him, they had trouble accepting the news.

Another Qi Sage had arisen.

For an eternity there had only been one Qi Sage. The same legendary Sage had taught the four major races the ways of qi manipulation. He was almost a god in their lore and culture.

The consensus was another empath had to verify the memories that Dyrk had claimed to witness. He handed over the crystal and guided his colleague, where to look for the memory. Fortunately, the Coterie had two master empaths as they were rare. After a short while, it was confirmed.

Fain was stunned. She had no idea what to do with this information it was far beyond any expectation she had.

The new heavily tattooed slave was brought down to the Ludus for training. He had been somewhat lost since his memories were wiped and Azrul thought the exercise would do him well. She had been assured his skills and abilities would remain unaffected, he would have just forgotten how he earned them.

“Before you lost your memories you were my best Gladiator,” Azrul informed her new pet, “I think if you get back into the swing of things you will improve and maybe your memories will return. But, be warned, do not take this kindness from me and expect better treatment, you are my slave until you earn your freedom or you are sold.”

“What was my name?” Her pet asked.

“I don’t know the name the other slaves called you by, but your Gladiator name was Fury,” She felt inspired, knowing the fury he had possessed and knew he would replicate in combat. “Let’s start slow, I do not want my prime Gladiator injured again so soon.”

Azrul summoned her trainer, Genoci, who was an intelligent fighter himself until significantly injured in the arena. Rather than waste her investment she had promoted him to a trainer and he had quickly improved results giving her the luxury of killing her old trainer for underperformance and using the death as a motivation to the others.

Genoci hobbled over his left leg metal from the thigh down, “Greetings Dread Lord,” Genoci said bowing.

Azrul began before he said something stupid like, who is this new recruit, “Genoci, I return Fury to you, he has lost his memories since his injury, and I was hoping some exercise would bring them back. I know you have missed one of your prime Gladiators.”

Genoci looked confused for a moment, but he was intelligent, and she was the Dread Lord, who could kill him on a whim. “Mistress, we live to obey,” he said bowing again.

Genoci ordered Fury to warm up by copying the other Gladiators who were completing drills. He turned back to his Mistress who pulled him aside. She spoke to him in hushed tones and quite quickly, while he nodded at regular intervals.

 She then left Phee behind to monitor the situation while Genoci would take care of her new pet Fury. Phee would be able to use the tattoos if anything went wrong. Azrul had appointments to keep, one being the regrowth of her severed tensor.

“Fury,” Genoci called, “drill with Mordecai. We will begin slowly, testing your combat memory.”

Mordecai was a grey elf Gladiator slave, and he was the actual Prime Gladiator of the Ludus. Azrul, although it was her prerogative, had upset the order of things by calling Fury a prime. There was only one Prime.

A Grey Elf, or any foreign race, were different to a Myrkalfar Gladiator in the respect they would never be able to become a Knight to earn their freedom. Mordecai was forever to be a Gladiator until Azrul decided to reward him with his freedom or a quick death, a circumstance which ideally suited his owner.

Often Myrkalfar Gladiators were either free, and seeking to advance in the warrior caste above their birth, born as a slave due to circumstance, or sold into slavery by their family due to debts or other reasons. Of the fourteen gladiators five were female, not because they were inferior, but mainly due to women having a higher standing in a household than a male. It was common for a male to be sold and extremely rare for a female.

Mordecai was the prime for two reasons, it occurred because he was the undisputed superior gladiator of the Ludus and he had the best record in the arena. This was due to his intelligence, agility and viciousness in arena combat. Outside of the arena, he was level-headed, he reserved his ferocity for when it mattered, which suited Genoci perfectly.

“Mordecai, take him through the first drills we learn. He was an elite, he has just lost his memories,” Genoci ordered his prime.

Both Mordecai and Fury were equipped with wooden sword and shield. The prime started by swinging overhead, then diagonal and finally a side swing into the opposite shield.

Fury held up his hand for a stop. They had placed his sword in his right hand and his shield in his left. He switched them around.

AN: Benzhi had always wielded his sword in his left hand and shield in his right since he received the shield.

Mordecai looked on quizzically, his new training partner was Gar-pawed. It made things difficult for this drill. He looked at Genoci who shrugged and indicated he should switch. It was only the most basic drill so it would not matter.

They began to go through the motions, his partner mimicking his actions with adroitness. Mordecai kept one eye on Genoci, he knew this Gladiator was special somehow, the Dread Lord had personally led him here and even talked to him. Her most vicious apprentice had been ordered to stay and supervise. And Genoci had selected him, the prime to practice with a new recruit.

Genoci walked up to Fury, “are you ready for a spar Fury?”

Phee was looking on expectantly, she was also far too close for a spectator for Genoci’s liking. She walked over to Mordecai and whispered in his ear, “he killed Yasmyn yesterday.”

Mordecai was horrified, how could this man kill an apprentice to the Dread Lord and still be alive? Not to mention, Yasmym was the only decent Myrkalfar noble in this castle. The rest were depraved bitches, especially Phee and the Dread Lord.

Genoci did not like the look of horror on Mordecai’s face, he had not heard the words, but although he was the Trainer of the Ludus he did not have the rank to challenge an apprentice of the Dread Lord. However, he could report it and have his mistress deal with the vicious minx, He was sure she was up to no good, and when that concerned his Ludus, it was worrying.

Fury seemed to understand instinctively what a spar meant.  He faced off versus Mordecai, and they began to circle and test each other. Mordecai was crafty, but whatever Phee had said to him had made him tentative, to say the least.

After a few short exchanges, Genoci was pondering the name Fury did not suit the new recruit, he was cautious and feeling out Mordecai. Better push him a little, Genoci thought, they were both behaving like nancies.

“Fury,” Genoci called, “I want you to attack him with everything you have. Stop playing around, you have a wooden sword for Queensake.”

Fury looked at Genoci and tilted his head to the side, he closed his eyes for a second, and Genoci was about to have a fit, closing his eyes in the midst of combat even if it was a spar?

But Mordecai did not attack. Genoci had had enough.

“You too Mordecai, have at it,” Genoci called.

Phee rubbed her hands together and smiled. Oh no, Genoci thought, this is what she wanted, she had manipulated the whole thing.

Mordecai had resigned to fighting properly, he placed his right foot behind him in an offensive stance. The entire Ludus was now watching after Genoci had called Fury and Mordecai to action, they were intrigued as to what was happening. This was certainly a peculiar day.

Genoci did not blink, but he felt like he must have. Fury closed on Mordecai in a fleeting moment, he moved with blurring speed, faster than a knight, his shield met with Mordecai's outstretched sword and pushed it back into the Prime. It was a qi strike, with a shield! A fucking qi strike. Mordecai flew backwards and smashed into the yarding.

Mordecai did not have a chance he was just thrown by speed and force, no amount of skill could overcome that sheer power. This Gladiator could probably spar with the Dread Lord’s apprentices.

Phee clapped gleefully at the severely injured Mordecai. His next match was now in doubt if he had broken ribs and even worse a cracked skull, he would be out of action for a month at least.

Perhaps the name Fury did suit the newcomer.

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