Nine Paths Of Asura Chapter 16

16 Burning___
Title withheld until the end to avoid spoilers.

Also, this chapter is retribution for the most unfortunate grievance against nature I may or may not have accidentally committed last night.

Lineir quickly joined his spot in the fire-line, passing buckets to squelch out the fire. The stable had lit up like a giant candle with all the hay inside and was burning steadily. Even so with so many strong mercenaries and determined managers it was quickly put out. While many of the members of the line were hungover not a single bucket was dropped and a minimum of sloshing ensued. It was unspoken rule that everyone helped put out fires, as fires were a quick spreading affair in such a small town where the most common building material was timber. It helped that a lot of the horses had shied away to one side of the stable and if the fire wasn't put out it would have begun to threaten these expensive animals. Even before the first tinges of dawn seeped into the sky, the fire was little more than a steaming heap of hay.

"Thank you so much for your help customers, please go inside and refresh yourselves, breakfast will be free for all who participated in saving our livelihoods!"

With that, the line dispersed and everyone tottered back to their rooms to clean up. Lineir however, unnoticed crept away in a different direction. That dark figure he had seen last night had almost seemed to smolder in the night. He was sure that whatever it was it had been responsible for the fire. Using his increased speed, he quickly separated from the crowd, and located the path of the culprit.

On the ground, were little black flecks of burnt grass. They came in patches and were separated by a distance of two to three meters. Obviously, they were tracks, and whatever had made them must have been leaping incredibly far with each bounding step to have left such a gap between each step. The odd thing was however, the flecks were tiny, either the culprit was ridiculously small, or it was so fast its feet barely sunk into the ground when it landed. Lineir shuddered at the thought of something that fast. However, he was intensely curious, and Mei hadn't said anything against it so he continued to follow the tracks. He had entered the nearby woods, and the tree trunks were still widely spaced out at the fringes of the forest. With a start, he realized the burning tracks had disappeared. Had the culprit climbed up a tree?

"If the tracks ended here and the culprit climbed up a tree... that would mean it's right above me!" Instantly Lineir's head shot upwards as Mei screeched in alarm.

Nothing was above him, just empty branches.

"Kiddo, I sense a great concentration of Qi flickering below you!" Looking down, Lineir saw that behind the tree, was a large hole, a meter across, completely blackened as if scoured by fire. As he approached he grew tense. He allowed his bony blades to slide out to their fullest. There was no one to see them here and it would be best to be prepared for anything. Staring deep into the blackness of the hole, he noticed a glowing orb.

"What the heck is that?" It started to grow in size, and Lineir realized with a start that it was coming closer. Backing up, he fell over as the orb grew and grew and became an orange ball of fire which blasted out of the hole and passed over his head, the heat singing his eyebrows as it went.

"Da **** is that a rabbit?"

Indeed, the thing which had passed over Lineir could be described as such. It was in fact, a burning bunny with flaming fur. It was only about two palm sizes in length, but the flames on its body stretched out another good three palms and it had sprung from the hole past Lineir and then some in one glorious bound. As it stared into his eyes, Lineir realized it only had one orange eye which seemed to swirl with molten heat. The other eye was tightly squeezed shut and the flaming aura around it failed to extend over this eye. Quivering one last time, it sprinted off into the forest at a furious pace which Lineir couldn't hope to match.

"Kiddo, I've seen a lot of things, but I've never seen such a cute bunny! You absolutely have to come back when you are stronger and catch it!"

Afterwards, Lineir didn't say anything when he returned to the inn, and everyone was too sleepy from the events of the night to bother noticing that he came from outside. Sharing in a hearty free breakfast he truly felt quite blessed,

"A free room, and two free meals, my luck is quite good!" In the morning there were only a few hardcore drunks who would drink. Thus there was no loud incidents like last night and Lineir was able to happily have a care-free meal. Afterwards, the five travelers and Lineir bade the inn owner goodbye, with Lineir thanking him profusely for the hospitality. He didn't bring up the flaming rabbit however. There was nothing to be done about that anyway, even if the owner did know, only a cultivator could take care of such a creature. After paying, the head of the wagon quickly checked with everyone and decided to head out immediately for Dracherus City.

"Alright kid, I know you're going to want to sleep the rest of the way, at your age I always wanted to nap as well, it'll be another four days before we come upon the city, I'll call you out for meal times."

Little did the wagon leader know that in fact Lineir hadn't slept at all these last days! Instead of sleeping, he had actually been meditating furiously, and he no longer needed sleep to maintain his mental state. The only time he needed to sleep would be when extremely exhausted, or if his body needed to recuperate after suffering a grievous injury. Otherwise, meditation was far better for his long term cultivation!

"Kiddo, you remember my attack on the undead heart right? That attack was an imitation of my ultimate technique which utilizes the horrifying weight of darkness combined with the suddenness of lightning's accumulation. At the time, I only had some darkness Qi which I had slowly been accumulating, there was no way for me to gather substantial lightning without a body. Indeed, the only reason I could gather darkness Qi was because I was leeching off of those in the undead heart. Since death Qi shares a similarity to darkness, I was able to quietly steal some for my own purposes. But make no mistake, while that fake attack of mine may have looked powerful, it is nowhere near as impressive as the true attack with both elements combined! You must carefully cultivate both the lightning and darkness elements inside of you. It's not enough to simply absorb the energy, you must always seek greater understanding and control of the shape, form, and nature of these things. That way you will be able to use higher level techniques which cannot be formed just by throwing energy at the enemy!"

Mei stressed the importance of not cultivating unconsciously. That was a trap which many amateur cultivators fell into. While their power base might rise quickly, if they didn't also spend time trying to understand how to properly control this power it would be useless when they tried to apply it in battle.

"In these four days, you won't be able to practice externalizing your power, this wagon is too public. We'll have to wait until you leave this group for that. However, you can still meditate, gather more energy, and practice circulating the energy throughout your body. Additionally, you have many forbidden techniques, an undead heart, and those bone scythes in your body. I am not sure how these will react to the circulation of energy, and this is the perfect time to get a feel for it. Use the time well, this group is fairly safe, you should be able to practice without fear of being eaten or robbed."

Lineir unceasingly meditated, practiced circulating the lightning and darkness style energy, and occasionally tried to guide the mysterious and unruly red energy in his veins to his core. He only stopped for meals but otherwise placed a cloth strip over his eyes and laid back viewing his Second Heart and internal Qi paths. The Second Heart greedily sucked in energy from the surroundings, and Lineir had begun to notice a slight rotation, as if it was becoming a whirlpool. When he mentioned this to Mei, she was excited.

"Good, good, as expected from my pupil, you have begun to reach the Early Storm Stage of cultivation. In essence, the Second Heart which forms the core of your inner self and is the place for your meridians and Qi paths to meet, has begun to spin slightly! This is important, you must try to always increase this spin. In doing so, the Qi in your center will be sucked inwards more and more. When this happens, it will grow exceedingly dense. The more dense it gets, the more pure it will be and the stronger effects it will display when you use it in battle. Furthermore, power attracts power. Like gravity, the more energy you have, the faster energy will be pulled in. This is why powerful experts can use powerful techniques and not tire. They have so much dense energy that they absorb far more energy than beginners and replenish it much faster. Thus, you have to increase the spin, the faster it spins, the more attractive you power will be, the more dense it will get, and the stronger the pull will get in an endless cycle. This is the basis for all standard cultivation."

Fate, however, could hardly allow Lineir such an easy time to cultivate. There was a soft whoomph and Lineir, despite having his eyes covered, could see, or rather feel, that an arrow had shot into the wagon.

"That was a warning shot, stop the wagon and come out with your hands up or we will kill you before taking what we want!"

Chapter 16-Burning Bunny

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