"I stack recovery sigils on flexible, tough, strengthening sigils with help of shape sigil?" Bai Maolong asked in English while he looked down at the scroll of the Chaotic Hawk Assault technique which Jack drew.
"No, you layer them, first goes recovery, then flexible, then recovery, then tough, then recovery, then strengthening, and another recovery on top of that. Use the shape sigil to cover the muscles, bones, and ligaments in your legs with them and that's it. Depending on what you need more you can add more connecting or severing sigils on top of them." Jack explained for the eight time that morning.
During the last twenty days, he had tried to explain how to use the technique to his friend. He even constructed the shape of the sigils outside of the body a large number of times, but Bai Maolong still didn't understand it all.
The technique had too many moving parts that one had to keep in mind to learn in a week or two.
'At least he's making progress. With the entire first generation of recruits finally cultivating, and people starting to learn new techniques, we're advancing at a decent pace.' Jack thought as he leaned back in his leathers and studied Bai Maolong's pained face.
He hadn't seen his strong friend sweat so much even during the morning's practice and it gave him great joy.
A few minutes later, his eyes darted towards the north before he snatched the scroll from the table and stored it in his Star Bag.
Bai Maolong looked at him in confusion, but Jack placed a finger on his lips and said in the local language "We have company."
When the two of them looked towards the doorway, the leather flap got pushed out of the way and a wide-eyed Tong Huakun allowed the morning sunlight to fill the lab.
She glanced at Bai Maolong before saying "The Jia brothers have returned. Kangping doesn't seem too pleased with the news they gave him." After a moment of hesitation, she whispered "I think they had something to do with the last attack on our caravan."
Jack took note of her allegiances but didn't say anything to correct her. The two brothers that served the White River family had the Jia surname, but Tong Huakun never managed to find out their real names. Either Bei Kangping didn't want to tell her, or he didn't think to ask them.
In the last month, the company finished their second escort mission without any issue. The people in the Tribal Assembly gave the looks of either admiration or distaste, but no one approached them during the two days they stayed there.
Ran Huankuo had informed him that they did spread the story Jack wanted to tell and that some Tribes believed the Lolin, while others believed them, but no one approached them for cooperation yet.
To Ran Huankuo's surprise, Jack didn't mind the quiet and just informed him that he would send Ma Ruiman to help him once the White River family group left back home.
Tong Huakun watched the two unconcerned men in front of her and asked "You're not worried about this?"
Bai Maolong glanced at Jack before asking in return "You didn't know?"
Before Tong Huakun could answer, Jack explained "I didn't want her to show animosity towards Bei Kangping for as long as possible."
Tong Huakun's eyes narrowed into slits while asked in a dangerous, low voice "What do you mean?"
Jack stood and walked up to her before he said "Do you think that the White River family would allow a Tribe that they have little control over to prosper? The Lolin aren't that smart but they're not suicidal. They were angry at me, but they also knew that they would take large casualties if they attacked us."
His eyes bored into hers while he continued "The White River family used the opportunity that I gave them and must have offered the Lolin Tribe something in return for destroying us, or at least destroying your caravans and discrediting us. I'm pretty sure that the Jia brothers went to arrange all of this before they came back. Not too sure on who ordered them though, probably someone in White River Outpost, but I think that Bei Kangping and Wu Dianrong knew some of it."
Tong Huakun squeezed her hands into fists while her shoulders shook. For a moment, Jack thought she would take a swing at him.
A few seconds later, she took a deep breath, released it, and asked "I presume that the Chief and the Elders knew this?"
Jack nodded his head and answered "The Chief and your grandmother, Elder Gong, and Elder Ran know everything. What did they tell the rest of the Elders? I'm not sure."
She passed both hands through her tied up hair and let out a sigh of relief. Then her eyes widened again and she questioned "And this story about the flash of death? Is it also true?"
Jack and Bai Maolong exchanged glances and asked "What?" at the same time.
Tong Huakun looked at both of them and saw that they didn't know what she talked about. She let out a sigh of relief and said "The Lolin reported that the 'warrior with dead eyes' used some kind of spell that would darken the Sun and then kill or maim people and animals in a flash of light. At first, I thought they talked about your cylinders, but from what Bei Kangping told me, a lot of them got burnt by something."
Bai Maolong laughed and declared "The cowardly dogs are making up monsters to cover for their miserable defeat."
Jack joined in with a chuckle and added "Yeah, they have to give some kind of excuse or they would look bad in front of the other Tribes and their masters."
Tong Huakun saw that Bai Maolong was honest and couldn't read Jack so she gave a slight nod and let it go.
"What should I do now?" she asked while looking at the strange teen in front of her with trembling eyes.
Jack placed a hand on her shoulder and questioned "Can you still remain at Bei Kangping side after this? Any information we can get before they leave could mean the difference between life and death."
Tong Huakun seemed to struggle with her inner demons as her eyes flickered from left to right several times before she closed them and whispered "I can."
Jack tapped her shoulder a couple times and said "Good. I promise you that your sacrifice will be worth it."
He walked past her and added "We should go get some food, the White River family will be here soon and I'm not sure of what they'll do." He stopped and turned to look at Tong Huakun before he suggested "You better go back home and come after they leave."
She hesitated but nodded her head.
When Bei Kangping and Wu Dianrong brought their group to the camp, they left them to start target practice on their own and walked over to the group of already shooting former Gravediggers.
Wu Dianrong watched their accuracy with furrowed brows while Bei Kangping said "Something came up back home, we have to return to the Outpost as soon as possible. We are leaving tomorrow morning."
Jack's brows rose and he asked "So soon? What about the last competition? My men have been giving it their all in practice to win back their honor."
Wu Dianrong snorted while Bei Kangping's lip twitched at the absurd statement. He shook his head and said "Some other time. The Outpost's Elders have commanded our return; there is nothing I can do."
After hesitating for a second, he squared his shoulders and extended an arm in the way he learned from Jack before he added "Thank you for all that you have taught us. I am sorry for the things the family tried to make you do, but know that the stay here meant a lot to me."
Jack studied his eyes for an instant and saw the sincerity in them. A slight smile pulled at the corner of his lips before he clasped Bei Kangping's hand and said "It was my pleasure. If you want another lesson, feel free to come back anytime. The Lament will be ready."
The two men stared into each other's eyes and squeezed as hard as they could for a few seconds.
When they released their hands, they gave each other nods of respect and proceeded to do their last practice together.
In the morning, Wu Angrui glared daggers at the Jia brothers, Bei Kangping, and Wu Dianrong. She almost cried when she found out that they had to go back earlier, but Jack assured her that the rest of the hides would be ready and waiting for her maid when she sent her to pick them up.
During her time with the company, she got used to independent life and came to enjoy the relationships she developed with the people around her. She knew that her father wouldn't allow her to go on an adventure like this for years at least.
"Thank you for the hospitality you have shown us." Bei Kangping told Tong Huakun and clasped his hands in gratitude. Everyone with eyes could see that they both wanted to say more, but they left it at that.
Tong Huakun still didn't report on what happened during their last night and Jack had a suspicion that she wouldn't in the future.
Bei Kangping turned towards the rest of them and repeated the salute while the entire White River family group followed his example. "Thank you for everything that you taught us. Your assistance will not be forgotten." They all declared at the same time.
Jack glanced at the annoyed looks that the Jia brothers kept sending him and somehow doubted it. Even so, he clasped his hands in return and said "You are welcome. My offer still stands. Anytime you're up for it, come and visit us for another lesson."
He, old Long, Tong Huakun, and the former Gravediggers stood and watched until the White River family's column disappeared from the horizon.
Ma Ruiman looked nervous, but he would have to wait until the next mission to join Yuan Zhenya in the Tribal Assembly.
Jack broke the solemn silence with a snort and declared "Time to prepare people, our days of relaxation are over." With that, he turned around and walked back towards the camp.
'I can finally start teaching them some real tactics.' He thought on his way to his lab.
Three days after the White River family group left the Haechi Tribe; Jack paced in his lab and from time to time tested out a variation on the Farsight spell.
He needed to find the best composition with which he could observe the microscopic world.
Right when he stopped pacing and turned towards the basin filled with white water, a "Khm." sound made him jump around.
He took out his cylinder and had three knives floating around him by the time he locked his eyes onto a large man covered in furs who stood in his doorway.
The man raised his hands and brows up at the same time and said "Relax, mercenary. I came here to speak to you about a cooperation arrangement in the name of my Tribe."
He spat towards the south and added "Had to hide in the mountains for days until those White River leaches left."
Jack ignored the spittle on his floor while he grasped his cylinder in a reverse grip, motioned towards the stone table, and said "That is excellent news; please make yourself at home while I go get someone for confirmation on your identity."
He waited for the bearded man to saunter to the table and sit down until he moved towards the door. Never once did the knives stop hovering around him.
The man didn't seem to mind as he only glanced at them once with a raised eyebrow and then ignored them.
When Jack exited the door, the man shouted after him "Bring that old hag Pan Baibao, she'll know me."
A second later, a white bottle and a cup floated into the house and landed on the table while Jack shouted back "I will. By then, feel free to enjoy yourself. We'll have a lot to discuss."
Here's today's chapter. We reached the 16th spot in the Originals Power Rankings and were close to 15 last week. That's the best that we did so far. Thank you!
Jack sent the White River family back home and greeted a possible ally. Hope you like it!
I really appreciate everyone that awards Cultivating Civilization with your Power Stones. Thank you!
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