Nine Paths Of Asura Chapter 14

14 Coincidence
The path was more or less straight with a few small bends that corrected themselves within a few hundred meters. A glorious midday sun shined down on Lineir's black hair like heaven's blessing, filling him with warmth and renewed desire to continue on his path. As he went, he would periodically close his eyes for a straight stretch of road and meditate, attempting to probe the inner workings of his body. As Mei said,

"When you have mastered meditation, you will be able to fully control your body. While these bone blades of yours' are very strange, I'm almost one hundred percent certain that you can control them with practice. It seems to me, that when your heart gets excited, they come out, but I imagine they are a side effect of the undead heart in you and some of the more volatile forbidden techniques I used to mold your body. Only with practice and a steady mind will you be able to fully overcome this. Until then, you should avoid getting too close to people. If you become threatened, you may unconsciously attack them, whether you want to or not. Additionally, these blades of yours are very strong and contain a portion of the death Qi in your heart. Even if you catch yourself at the last moment and prevent a fatal blow, the resulting transfer of Qi will likely be poison to even some cultivators, let alone those who walk the path of mortals. Stay strong and quickly learn to control yourself. When you do, you will have gained a powerful weapon which you can rely on, rather than a liability!"

While Mei made this sound like an eventuality, the task was far from easy. While Lineir tried to control his heart rate and look inside himself for the source of the death Qi, the blades would often slide out randomly, and once when he tripped after having his eye's closed for too long, the adrenaline rush made the blades come all the way out and he almost fell on his own sickles. However, Lineir was merciless on himself. After the killing of the guards he had become fearful of what his body was capable of. Had he been in more control, perhaps there would not have been a need to kill the guards which were only following orders. Mei insisted that he had not done anything wrong but regardless Lineir didn't want to ever lose control again like that.

Persevering, after three lonely days and nights on the path, Lineir lost his fear of being followed and gained a modicum of control over these strange weapons of his. Now, at least, he was capable of sheathing and drawing them at will. However, Mei, sensing Lineir's satisfaction quickly took him down a notch yelling in his mind suddenly and unexpectedly. Lineir, surprised immediately jumped and the blades slid out again.

"What was that for!"

"Don't grow so satisfied with such basic control. You're still a threat to anyone around you. It looks like these blades are still automatically reacting to anything which is close to you. If you were near a person, even if they weren't the ones causing you danger, those blades would attack them first. Only when you can stay calm under any and all pressure will you have mastered yourself and be ready to be near people."

Lineir, could only agree after seeing this demonstration, and resolved himself to meditate some more. As such, his progress was very slow, even though he could walk faster than most uncultivated people now since his body empowered after being touched by so many forbidden techniques. However, on the fourth night, something unexpected happened. Travelers came on the dusty road, a small group of five people on a wagon from behind Lineir. They hailed him when their wagon got close.

"Greetings friend, why are you walking alone? Don't you know that it is unsafe to travel without a group? There is safety in numbers and this way at least if you meet a group of bandits or even a magical beast, you may have a chance of surviving. Come, somebody as young as you shouldn't be traveling alone, join us up here and enjoy a leisurely ride."

Lineir frowned slightly before covering it up with a quick smile.

"Kiddo, you shouldn't go with them, based on how they came from behind they may have come from Brackenrock city also. If you travel with them they may find you suspicious and guess that you are the troublemaker!" Lineir however had different ideas and hopped onto the wagon with nary a second thought!

"Thank you elder brother, it is truly dangerous to travel alone, I am most glad for your offer, every night I sleep cold and afraid for my life!" So saying, he was introduced to the five and settled in. Mei however was outraged,

"Why did you agree, you're not even going to Dracherus city, they will find it exceedingly odd when you don't enter the city!"

"It's okay Mei-Mei, they would have found it more odd if I didn't take up this excellent chance. Furthermore, if I travel in a group, I am less suspicious to anyone else on the road. As long as I keep calm and avoid saying anything odd, I should be able to travel more safely and comfortably at the same time." Mei was silent for a moment, resigned she simply said,

"Look, I don't have a problem with this decision, but remember kid, you're still not completely in control of those scythes of yours, if something happens, you must remember to stay calm and avoid showing those things. Not only would that alert everyone to something strange, you may even hurt someone innocent in doing so. While I don't care, I'm sure you'd feel guilty and this would impact your training. Pretend to be a sleepyhead and meditate as much as you can!"

Thus, Lineir kept his head down and avoided associating too much with his fellow travelers. Fortunately, this was relatively common, and they didn't feel offended. Indeed, it would have probably been weirder if Lineir had been oddly social, as he did not hide his lack of desire to socialize they were actually reassured that he was just some random person who mean't them no harm. In that way, he continued, spending long periods of time with a strip of cloth over his eyes meditating and trying to control his breathing.

After a few days, he felt a change as his whole being suddenly felt hot. His heart rate also increased, but at this point he wasn't too worried about such a minor thing, his control was too great to be bothered by that. Instead, he wondered what was going on, his body was excited, as if anticipating something instinctively, yet he himself had no idea what had triggered the reaction.

"Mei-Mei, what did I have for breakfast? Something must have been bad, my body feels weird."

"Excellent kid, so you've noticed huh? What you're feeling is the beginning of your inner elements forming in your veins. Now that you've begun to meditate so much, your body has naturally begun to absorb elemental energy and you are becoming attuned to the Heavens and Hell. This obviously would be impossible with only a few days of cultivation at your age normally, however with all the forbidden techniques imbued in your body and my guidance, how could you not begin to enter the path of immortals? Sooner or later, you will be tested by your elements, and should you pass, which you will with me around, your body will be allowed the right to form an elemental core and you will officially have taken the first step towards cultivation. Come, continue meditating, the faster you reach this first step, the safer you will be."

Lineir shrugged and kept meditating, though he felt peakish, he wasn't sick but actually becoming more powerful! Who would stop here?

"Hey kid, you okay, you've been quiet a long time." A hand roughly shook Lineir's shoulder and brought him out of his meditative state. Oddly enough, he almost felt like he had felt the touch coming before it came. It seemed like the more he meditated, and the greater control he gained over himself, the more attuned he became to even small changes in his environment. As he pulled the cloth on his eyes back, he squinted as he found himself looking directly at the setting evening sun,

"Sorry, I'm always tired. Where are we?"

The man who had invited Lineir aboard didn't mind, he had grown used to this. The other travelers paid them no mind at all, their group was not very close and mostly traveling together for safety.

"We've almost reached Deltoir Fords, as planned we should make it before nightfall and be safely at the Nine Heart's Inn." Lineir nodded his head in thanks, but then felt a little panic. He didn't have any money! The man seeing his look immediately guessed what was bothering him.

"I'm gonna say you don't have much in the way of money huh? Don't worry, you can stay in the stables with the horse even without paying. It'll be warmer and safer than outside and you can come with us in the morning, I assume you're going to Dracherus City." Lineir nodded, it was more or less his goal.

"Alright, that's it right up head, just in time, the sun's almost gone. I'll arrange things with the owner, you go in with the others and enjoy a meal on me, such a young man needs to eat to grow strong!" Shaking his head in dismay at Lineir's skinny frame, he quickly disembarked and strode towards the inn. Lineir looked at the other travelers who looked at him with varying expressions of disinterest.

"Can't say no to a free meal..."

Inside the Nine Heart's Inn, it was much cleaner than the inn his sister Yiu had worked at. This was probably because it was just in a small village and didn't receive all the rough and dirty crowd which attended the inns in cities. Nicely aged oak boards lined the floors and walls, and a cheerful fire burned in the corner casting the room in a bright glow. The inn was only about half full, and the owner had no qualms with Lineir staying in the stables, it was a common arrangement. When the food came out, everyone at their table wolfed it down quickly, they hadn't eaten in quite a few hours and the hot food was far better than the hard biscuits and wild meat they had been eating on the road. The neighboring table however, had more ale in them then on the table and was wildly discussing the latest news. Lineir paled at the topic of their discussion, though he had been somewhat expecting it.

"Would you believe it? Two guards murdered at the same time in Brackenrock city, and nobody knows who the murderer was!"
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