Nine Paths Of Asura Chapter 19

19 Devastation
Lineir hurriedly completed the messy affair of cleaning up the body, occasionally Mei would point out a bad cut or this and that, but in the end he obtained many cuts of meat and skin and the all important water organ. It was a strange, slightly shiny black color, hard as rock and once Lineir opened it up, a perfect canteen. He got up and began to look for a water source to break it in. As he was making his way through the forest though, he came upon something shocking. There was a clearing. This clearing was definitely not natural, the trees were cracked open as if a huge gale had swept through, but only in this place. For a good thirty meters, only the largest trees could even hope to stay in place as broken stumps. A huge bloody smear was splattered on the ground as if some god had spilled a giant bucket of crimson paint on the ground. Immediately, Lineir froze and hid, terrified of whatever had this kind of terrible destructive capability.

"Interesting, most interesting. From what I can see here, this is all that remains of the other mother Three Horned Salty Goat and its child. If you look over there, you can see the blood is actually split into two separate pools, there's a little gap. This diffuse best guess is that whatever attacked here is at least at the level of an immortal. To put it in comparison, you're at the first step of cultivation, and can still just barely be classified as a mortal cultivator, this being is so far above you that it probably wouldn't even consider you a threat if it stood still and closed its eyes. Go around this place, and tread softly. I am infused in your blood, and I have no desire to become part of some magical beast's lunch."

Mei advised extreme caution, and Lineir did not hesitate to offer the same opinion. He edged around, avoiding the clearing as if it was certain death. To be fair, if the beast was still around, appearing in front of it was almost certainly akin to offering it a snack.

"I don't understand though, such devastation! Yet I see no tracks, only those blood splatters. Whatever caused this must have been quite large, it should have left tracks!" Lineir shivered. This was truly strange to him. However, Mei offered another opinion,

"It's fine, just because something has great power does not mean it has to be large. A strong enough demon rat could tear the heavens and only be a few meters long. Indeed, this devastation could even be caused by a person, though it seems unlikely that a person would create such a mess over a Three Horned Salty Goat. Size does not equal power once you leave the path of mortals!"

After that, Lineir revised his opinion. Indeed, it made sense that whatever caused this might not have been very large. He had heard that the White Horizon Sect's ultimate attacks could destroy city walls, and they were just as large as any normal human. Indeed, he himself, possessed by Mei, had wrought far greater destruction. This was just another thing he would have to get used to if he were to walk the path of cultivation.

Eventually, Lineir loosened up, and he felt it safe to continue cultivating. To do so, he first found some secluded place, inside of a tree for instance, or in its branches, and then closed his eyes. Mei would watch out for any danger, she was capable of seeing his surroundings, and he felt reasonably assured that he would not end up eaten without at least knowing what killed him. His mastery of both his lightning and darkness aspects was slow, but satisfying. There is nothing so satisfying after all, as knowing oneself, and these elements were exactly that, parts of his own being. It was like discovering you had wings, while you might know they are there, without practice you could hardly instantly fly.

Now that he was on his own, he could freely practice externalizing his power. With time, he could create a glowing spark in his left hand, and in his right a slight dark haze would shift into existence with some concentration. While the spark wouldn't do much more than give someone a bit of a shock, and the haze only had enough weight to cause his hand to dip imperceptibly, it was progress. He still dared not attack anything but the occasional herbivore, some goats and cows, however. Until he could create a small bolt of lightning, or condense a solid mass of darkness, any attacks he did would probably lack the necessary attacking power to penetrate the solid hides of even a 1st tier predatory magical beast. He would simply be feeding the magical beast, not himself.

Another week passed, and now Mei decided that the time was right for Lineir to begin practicing his first real external techniques, that is....attacks! While his mastery of externalizing his elements was still rudimentary, she reasoned,

"You need to be able to have the physical foundation to go along with your cultivation. While you are unusually strong, and extremely fast for your level, you have no combat sense. By practicing the movements now, even before fully externalizing your energy, you will be able to seamlessly meld your form and energy into a flawless technique. That is, you must learn the art of the sword!"

Thus, she began to instruct Lineir on the art of the sword. Day by day, instead of walking, he would lunge every step. This is more exhausting than you'd think, putting all your energy to use every muscle to its fullest and step as quickly as possible quickly strains a body that has no foundation. Lineir, having never been trained before, ached terribly from being forced to use muscles which he had never even known existed. To further compound the issue, while he was doing this, he was to simultaneously swing his arms with the bone scythes out.

"While I have never seen this particular weapon appear, I am versed in several arts which use blades attached to the arms and wrists. Have no fear, you will not lack a teacher here. Additionally...hold your hands together...train with this as well!" From the base of the bony scythes, where they poked out from his elbows, crimson dark liquid oozed out. It ran down his arms and coalesced into the same straight edged, thin dark sword which he had first seen in the cave. Everything down to even the oddly surging black lightning trapped in the surface of the blade, to the strange hilt was recreated perfectly.

"While being used as a training weapon by an amateur is beneath me, I'll have to let it go. It's time you learned how to use a real sword and not just those bony scythes." Begrudgingly she permitted him,

"Alright... go at it, swing me around and get used to my heft, we'll start from the very beginning."

In time, Lineir quickly grew much stronger from this heavy practice. While the bony scythes on his arms were incredibly lightweight, they still made him rather top heavy. Add in a sword, and he had trouble just holding his arms out in front of him without toppling forwards.

All this strain meant that his lower half and his core had to catch up or he would be walking bent over dragging Mei on the ground. He shuddered to think what would happen if that happened. With her temper, she might just stop his heart or something. Not even daring to let the tip of the blade drop an inch, how could Lineir not quickly develop the body and muscle of a swordsman? Of course, this was only a few weeks practice, and common sense would suggest that it wouldn't have much of an effect at all. However, this would be in the world of mortals. While Lineir was still mortal, his undead heart and reshaped body would recover from almost all its aches and exertions with one night of meditation! Indeed, the next day he would start practicing even stronger than the day before, rather than having his performance degraded. This rate of improvement was well, simply impossible for the average person.

Furthermore, who can say that they truly practice with all their heart. Only a few could keep up that kind of focus. However, Lineir walked a path which forced him to give his all in this regard. Anything related to his survival, he would pursue with the abandon and savagery of a wild animal. No matter how heavy his breath, and how hard his heart pounded, he would continue. He did not even fear dropping dead from overexertion, because even if that was possible, Mei would no doubt restart his heart just to berate him for dropping her on the ground.

In this way, Lineir went from a total amateur, to someone who would at least not embarrass themselves just from swinging a sword. Lastly, to add further difficulty, Lineir would have to try to externalize his elemental energies with every swing or step. This was extremely difficult. While it only affected his mental state and cultivation base, that is his Second Heart, to attempt this while learning the way of the sword, was truly a difficult task. Only the most hard working or insane cultivators from great families would try this. It required a teacher who could teach both at the same time, and generally nobody would try this because it caused such a strain on the body and mind. But Lineir's body recovered so quickly that this was possible for him.

At some point, Lineir had long since lost track of the exact date, Mei informed him that it was time for him to gain some combat experience.

"You've been training enough, and you can actually form some small semblance of an external attack. With your level, it should be capable of piercing a tier one predator magical beast. Kiddo, head to the river, I'll pick something suitable for your first real kill!"
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