Eds body lay still, his unconscious form unmoving. Da Shan nursed his bleeding and pained hand, all the bones in his hand were broken. He had punched Ed with all his might, because he feared he didnt have much might left. Blood shot eyes stared vacantly at the ceiling, his throat sore and in pain. His head was pounding, and his body ached. Da Shan was in pain, great pain. His eyes snapped to attention and they burned with a fierce intensity. He sat up slowly, nursing his shattered hand. Trying to avoid the dizziness. His eyes were unfocused and his world was spinning. He reached into his mouth and bit back a scream as he ripped out a tooth. He tipped the tooth back sucking a pill from the hollowed out interior and pulled strips of cloth from a storage pocket. He jammed the cloth in his mouth, trying to stem the blood gushing from his missing teeth. Soon the blood stopped and he let a toothy grin flash across his face.
Most damn cultivators are too stupid to leave things outside their storage pockets, heh. Or too weak to handle the pain. No one checks anything other than the bag I dont need my kimono McCarthy! I dont need it! Da Shan groaned and leaned back, External monologue isnt really my style, hehe Da Shan looked at the wall, gritted his teeth and slammed his broken hand into the wall. His yelp of pain shook the house and the force of his fist splintered bone forcing it to break through his skin. Blood poured from his wounds again.
Ferr AHHH! Da Shan gripped his head and screamed, he couldnt access his elemental power. His mind was too broken. Almost blacking out from the backlash he steadied his mind by thumping the wall again breaking more bones. He gasped and panted from the exertion and the hurt, sweat poured from his body, drenching his clothes. The salt and iron mingling in the red liquid that soaked his body. He was feeling feverish in both mind and body.
Mental attacks are the worst Damn Psykers. He looked at Ed, a man he once trusted with his life. Dammit Ed when I get the chance, I swear I will exterminate you and your entire family. Mark my words you traitor. I dont know why you betrayed me, but Ill be damned before I let you off. Da Shan felt his mind slowly piece itself back together, the two pills he had swallowed earlier finally making a noticeable difference. The third pill he just took was also starting to slow the flow of blood. He grinned with his mangled and bloodied mouth. Hell, Im still alive. Joseph If I make it through tonight, I will put you in my lap and belt the crap out of your colon just like when you were my student just you wait scumbag. Frig, my head is spinning. What am I saying?
Da Shan shut his eyes for five minutes, waiting for the pills to heal his wounds. He opened his eyes and stood up with a groan.
A good pill isnt a substitute for Doctor Time. Da Shan looked around, deep in thought, well what thought he could muster. His face froze gripped by fear. He then jolted into motion, one thought shocking him into action. I feel it, McCarthy is coming.
Da Shan bolted from the house, not bothering to grab his sword or exact his revenge. He would get payback for this treachery later and get the debt paid in blood. Da Shan shouted, summoning his cloud of iron through his skin and faltered as the iron tore through the pores of his flesh to enter the atmosphere, his head pounded with pain the recent mental wounds threatening to burst but he had no choice. Gritting his teeth through the pain, he ordered the metal to enshroud his legs and battered hand, then sped off as fast as possible. Moments after he was swallowed by the darkness.
Soon, a man in a three-piece pinstriped suit arrived at the door. McCarthys eyes took in the destruction, the unconscious Ed, the blood, the teeth and the sword. His eyes lit up on the sword. He pounced on it and held it in his hands. His eyes were forlorn as he touched the sword, tracing his finger along the blade. Where did you hide this Da Shan? So, you had Mays sword this whole time? His eyes focused. He stowed the sword, shakily. Then concentrated.
Balla, amica mea.
The wind surged around him once more, he the eye of the storm where all was calm, the flirty wind his hurricane. The wind manifested, but the enchanting gaze of the formless woman had no effect on him this time.
Show me now! He snapped.
The windy matron wore a look of displeasure and annoyance. Her ethereal body language the perfect image of a silent protest. McCarthy stepped quickly and reached with his hand and grabbed her by the throat and pulled her face to his. Her eyes widening with shock.
Show me now or I will kill you.
The wind vanished from his grip and billowed out shakily, the caressing whispers and gentle words abandoned. The scene unfolded before his eyes, the psychic assault, Da Shans lifeless form, his form reanimated and his flight. But the back of McCarthys mind itched. Something wasnt adding up. Seeing how Da Shan hid his strength, bided his time for hundreds of years and was only revealing it now, showed McCarthy two things. One, Da Shan knew how he would react when he revealed the truth about his life expectancy. Two, Da Shan had planned for his reaction for a long time. He had planned to antagonize him. It would be impossible for this to all be an afterthought, just a whim that Da Shan decided to do before enacting some other plan, this was his grand plan. Anything else was foolish! Totally impossible. Certainly not a casual thing. Here was where the math led McCarthy to a strange place, Da Shans plan, therefore, wouldnt be to just run away. He knew McCarthy would catch him eventually so what was his plan? What was Da Shan planning to do tonight? Ed seemed to know something Da Shan had come here for a reason. McCarthy looked down at the motionless form of Ed, in the corner of his eye he saw Eds wife peeking down from the top of the stairs. Excellent. A plan hatched in McCarthys mind as he eyed the tired housewife.
Hes not dead.
Her shoulders sagged visibly with relief and tears welled in her hazel eyes and the lines in her black skin seemed to lighten.
She froze and nearly fell down the stairs with shock, stumbling a couple steps down, Chancellor, please save him! Ed has been a good Auditor, hes worked for you for a long time and he works hard. Her eyes shimmered with tears and her face was full of grief, beautiful in its pain. But McCarthys heart was like steel.
You seem to have misunderstood, his life is in no danger now. But its about to be, McCarthy drew a long switchblade from his suit jacket pocket and flicked it open. Normally I would ask Ed, but he might lie to me or trick me Psykers tend to be a little smarter than the average cultivator, you can never be too careful.
You know Edna, theres one thing Ive learned in my long life.
Chancellor no dont
Edna please, listen.
She waited with a patient expression, an expression wreathed in sorrow and extreme fear.
Love makes someone weak. McCarthy bent down, pulled a pill bottle from his pocket and shoved a pill in Eds mouth. McCarthy locked eyes with Eds wife and put his knife to Eds wrist. Her eyes went wide with horror, she shook her head furiously from side to side and whispered, No, no, please no.
Her whispers turned to frantic screams as McCarthy started sawing off Eds hand slowly, leisurely, taking his time. Tears poured down her face as she screamed and shouted at the top of her lungs. Ed woke up at the first shout, the whites of his eyes wider than ever. He occasionally twitched, but it was like he was pinned down by invisible arms. His face contorted in pain and tears slid down his face, but he was unable to move. Unable to scream. His eyes bulged with a silent screech of pain. Edna couldnt watch the gory scene, she turned away, tried to close her eyes, McCarthy shouted.
LOOK AT HIM!
Edna violently shook her head from side to side. McCarthy stopped what he was doing and lunged grabbing her by the hair. He dragged her kicking and screaming to where he had been cutting Eds hand. He forced her face down, shoving her beautiful face into the blood and yelled.
WATCH! Or Ill cut off the other one.
Ednas eyes opened and looked to her husbands face, gut wrenching hurt shattered her will to resist and her sobbing became quiet and spasmatic. McCarthy stared at her locking eyes and continued cutting. She hiccupped tears and choked on air, gasping for breath. When he was done the bloody deed, she was shivering, but unable to move. McCarthy wiped his knife, casually, and called out.
The spindly man opened the door with rickety creak, his yellow eyes appearing wolfish in the firelight. He bowed his head and responded, Chancellor, you called?
Put this hand in a jar, I want it preserved.
Lee nodded and produced a jar from his pocket, his hands trembling slightly as he handed it to the Chancellor. McCarthy stopped and looked at Lee and snorted, Buck up, youve done worse.
Lee nodded but then whispered, I just imagined myself in Eds shoes.
McCarthy was either too engrossed in the hand or didnt care enough to respond. McCarthy sealed the jar and stored it away, he produced two pill bottles from his jacket pocket and set them down in the rapidly forming pool of blood near Eds stump.
Its very simple Edna, McCarthy pulled out his glasses and pulled another pill bottle from his pocket, and stared at the label with a stern expression. His face was hard, but his voice was casual as if he was discussing his grocery list for next week. You tell me where Da Shan is, I give Ed this first bottle on the ground the one that will stop the bleeding. You tell me both where he is and what his plan is, Ill give you the pill to make Ed unparalysed. If you give me anything extra Ill give you Eds hand back eventually. Fail me and Ed will swallow this third pill. It will make his psykosis melt in his brain, his death will be slow, painful and youll have to watch I will make sure his paralysis is gone so you can enjoy a full show. He cleared his throat and looked at her with an impassive expression, but his eyes were burning with fanatical flames, So tell me Edna, what will it be?
Edna whimpered, opening and closing her mouth but no words would come out.
Edna, my time is precious, if you please.
Da Shan he hes Her voice trailed off, unable to complete the sentence.
Please, go on.
Edna trembled like a leaf, McCarthy waited and then gestured to Lee, Is my secretary scaring you? I can have him walk out and we can be all alone
Da Shan has a secret room under the rope bridge, he and Ed went there yesterday, her words gushed out and with a steely eyed gaze from McCarthy, she continued hesitantly and then gaining momentum. Da Shan took Ed there last night; his plan was to remake his body he said that he had reached the maximum potential of his body. Da Shan found some sort of tome, a book I dont know hes been following the method in the book, he
Where did he get the book?
I dont know, I
His name was Elder Elder Elder Quan!
McCarthys face flinched, but then he motioned for her to continue, Edna resumed, He was going to remake his body to to become the body of a prodigy But if he doesnt do it by tonight, he will die.
McCarthys eyes narrowed, hed never heard of such a ridiculous cultivation method. Anatomical and Elemental Cultivation methods tended to clash, the body wasnt designed to handle such opposing types of energy. These in a sense were the two extremes of energy. Elemental Cultivation used energy from outside the body whereas Anatomical Cultivation used the energy within the body. Eventually, the body adapts to the energy types, to use different types simultaneously would shred the body. McCarthy paused and thought a bit more. Possibly, in the final moment of the bodys destruction you could remake the body. But, youd have to use a third energy to remake the body while the other two are destroying it, perhaps psychosis. His eyes fell on Ed. Or you use vigour to shape your organs but youd literally have to drink medicinal pills by the buckets. Hmmm, but both methods would fail, because, to reshape potential would entail changing your longevity meaning disconnecting and reconnecting the soul. But then youd die. So, the method would fail every time its impossible unless you die and come back, but this has never happened before. But even if you did, youd have no control over the aptitude of the new body This is just stupid. McCarthy looked at Edna, who was sweating and trembling.
Are you sure of this?
I wouldnt lie Chancellor.
I dont have time to cross examine your testimony with Eds so Ill simply put it bluntly. If I find out you lied to me, I will cut off Eds other hand and hang him from the front of the gate by his stubs. Then, I will draw and quarter your twelve children while you watch. After that I will blind you, so that the last thing your eyes will ever see is the misery of your family. Then, while Ed hangs from the wall I will draw and quarter you in front of him. Then, I will blind him. Paralyze him and sustain him with pills so that he can contemplate what his eyes have seen for hundreds of years. Do you understand?
Edna went pale like a ghost, her quivering gradually became a nod, McCarthy smiled and sped off. Edna locked eyes with McCarthys secretary. But Lee merely inclined his head to her, took the third pill bottle and then left as quickly as he came. After they had left she released a long breath that she didnt even realize she was holding, she then quickly fed the pills to Ed and waited, waited for him to get better, prayed prayed to the God of the Green Hills to help her husband and she hoped, hoped the Chancellor would never return and wished her children would not walk down the stairs. But not every wish is granted, little footsteps pitter-pattered down the stares while she lost in thought stared at Eds body. Her stare was broken when she heard a soft voice.
And her heart was broken when that soft voice turned into a shrill scream.
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