Dale came awake slowly, his thoughts muddled as he squinted. Soft light lit up the area around him as his eyes came into focus, recognizing his room in the Scholar’s house. He moved to clutch at his head, feeling dizzy.
The instant he tried to move his hands, Dale felt an overwhelming sense of pain. Involuntarily, he yelped out loud, feeling agony shoot down his arms. Dale’s eyes shot awake and cleared as he looked down.
He was currently lying on the small wooden bed that had been present in the room he was staying at. Cloud was nowhere to be seen, and his armor and weapons were neatly stacked in the corner. He was tucked into the bed warmly, covered by a long white blanket. The door to his room was currently open.
As he looked down at his arms, Dale stared at the enormous bandages that were wrapped around them. They looked like two giant pillows, so wrapped and swathed where they. Dale winced as he tried to move them, feeling small tingles of agony run up his arms.
Abruptly, Dale’s memories crashed down on him. He recalled the huge fight that had taken place, the mysterious powers the attackers used, the deadly blow and horrendous damage to his arms he had suffered, and his subsequent rescue by Scholar Shen.
As he grasped onto the memories, Dale winced a second time, feeling a fresh burst of agony from his hands. He decided to focus on healing first, and on his memories second.
Dale was, by nature, half Titan. Titans are famed for their incredible regenerative powers, as well as their massive strength. Naturally, Titan body’s couldn’t normally be constantly regenerating at a lightning pace. The energy expenditure for something like that would be too extreme. Instead, Titan’s gained their regeneration speed fame for their ability to draw energy from their Titanic Sea, and, if necessary, activate their Divine Ability, Titanic Transformation. This power alone contained incredible, overwhelming regenerative powers, as well as enhancement strength. It was, after all Dale knew, tied for the title of number one Support Divine Ability.
Dale focused his mind and entered his Soul. Instantly, he drew upon his Titanic Sea, feeling the raw, virile energy flow into him. As he did so, Dale felt the regenerative properties of the energy set to work.
As his body began to repair itself, Dale noticed several strands of curious green energy lying around his arms. These strands of green energy seemed to have been set to prop up Dale’s arms and aid his healing. As the energy from his Titanic Sea set into place, it began absorbing these strings of green energy.
The green strands of energy combined with his titanic energy. Instantly, Dale felt a powerful, warm sensation rest on him. The pain in his arms receded a great deal, and Dale felt his wounds begin to regenerate.
The green energy that had combined with his titanic energy seemed to be having a guiding effect. Dale felt the energy in his veins move in specific patterns to specific parts of his injured hands, slowly reforming skin and tissue, as well as muscle and bone.
All of this happened at a slow rate, however. Dale frowned as he sensed this, looking at his body in confusion.
His regeneration rate had always been very quick when he tapped into his Titanic Sea. Indeed, when he went all out and activated the Divine Ability, he could literally see his flesh heal before him. Now, however, the regeneration moved slowly. It was still several times faster then it would normally be, but Dale felt like it would take an hour or two to fully heal.
Dale unwrapped the bandages covering his arms, ignoring the pain. He shivered as looked at the gruesome burns and scars covering his arms and hands. They were truly too terrible.
However, underneath the layer of burnt and broken skin, Dale felt new skin and muscle tissue reforming. Dale drew some energy from his Core and activated his Perfect Balance, feeling a small area of awareness come up around him. He instantly was able to sense everything within around a hand or two of distance, including his body.
He then turned his attention on his badly mangled arms, closely examining the healing process. Dale watched the energy well about his arms, sinking into the damaged tissue and slowly reform it. As he watched, he saw the process happen slowly, reforming cells.
Just as he was about to give up, Dale suddenly saw a flash of blue. He focused his eyes on where the spark had appeared, focusing intently.
From out of the base of his right elbow, several blue sparks flew out of Dale’s skin as the skin and muscle tissue there began to reform. As soon as these sparks exited, Dale felt a tangible sense of relief, and a small portion of pain faded away.
Dale looked at the blue sparks closely, watching as they faded out of existence. Before they left, however, Dale managed to recognize the energy signature.
These blue sparks contained the same energy as the blue lightning attack that had caused these serious injuries!
From that, Dale deduced that somehow, the attack must have left some remnant of natural energy in his body. His regeneration, combined with the strange green energy, was currently flushing that energy out of his body, and that must be why he was healing so slowly.
Dale suddenly looked up, sensing movement.
A polite knocking sound rang out, tapping on the side of the door despite the doorway being open. Dale quickly recovered his arms and hands, feeling tinges of pain as he covered the wounded sections. He continued his healing, however, determined to get his body back in top shape.
“You can come in!” Dale yelled, tensing.
Scholar Shen walked in the door, wearing a pair of nondescript brown robes. His face looked a little worse for wear, with a small cut still healing on his right cheek. Besides that, he seemed exactly the same as he had before.
Dale and the Scholar stared at each other for a few moments. After a pause, the Scholar coughed awkwardly, breaking the silence.
“I’m glad to see you’re awake.” The man said, giving Dale a nod.
“Ah, right.” Dale said, eyeing the man. He looked at the scholar in a new light now, his voice turned more respectful. The man had incredible power, and clearly unleashed it how he willed. Despite that, he was humble, and Dale was unable to sense even the lightest trace of cultivation energy about him.
“Uh, Scholar,” Dale began, nodding at the Scholar, “Would you mind explaining to me what that was all about?” He left out his curiosity to the Scholar’s great strength.
“Yes, yes of course.” The Scholar sighed and walked over to the side of Dale’s room, pulling forward a chair. “Give me a moment.”
“Well, first off, I think I owe you a bit of an apology.” The Scholar began, gesturing as he spoke.
“The figures you saw there are members of one of the Seven Great Forces in our Floating Cloud Universe. Specifically, the Kingdom of Charade.”
As he spoke, a pained tone entered his voice, as if recalling memories he’d rather not.
“I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice it to say, I used to be a member of this Kingdom. Unfortunately, I fell out of favor with the current leadership, and since then fled. It was to my understanding that I would be safely hidden out here in this portion of the Great Inner Sea. That would seem to not be the case, however.” The Scholar sighed as he looked around, and looked at Dale then, nodding at his bandaged hands. He nodded a lot, Dale noticed absently.
“Well, regardless, it seems I will have to leave. The figures that be won’t allow my rest anywhere, and I’d rather not have my life be constantly filled with chaos. I disciplined the last fellows that came, as you saw, but I doubt our next meeting will be so amiable.”
Dale gave the Scholar a sidelong glance, eyeing him askance. In his opinion, that meeting had gone by anything but amiable. The Scholar’s standards for amiable seemed to be rather suspect.
“I’m terribly sorry you got dragged into this mess, Dale.” The scholar sighed again, shaking his head.
“It wasn’t my intention at all.”
Dale waved him off, remembering the kindness the Scholar had shown him over the past week and more, asking for nothing. Dale’s impression of the Scholar was already excellent.
“I’ll be fine sir. My body is already healing at a fast rate, see?” Dale unwrapped his arms, showing the man the progress his arms had taken. In Dale’s eyes, the healing was extremely slow. However, it was still much faster than it should have been normally, thanks to his Titanic Sea.
The Scholar looked at Dale’s arms and then looked again. He then stared at Dale with an odd look before nodding as if something made sense. Dale felt the temperature in the air change for a split second before returning to normal. He looked around confusedly. His Perfect Balance didn’t detect anything.
“I see, I see. Excellent.” The Scholar clapped his hands together and nodded again as he spoke, giving Dale a warm smile.
“Then this is what I will do, friend Dale.” The Scholar’s opinion of Dale seemed to have changed as well, after the vicious battle Dale had been a part of.
“I, unfortunately, cannot remain here. However, it takes time for news to travel, and I will have at least a week of time till those fools return to the Kingdom. I estimate it will take another week for the Kingdom to decide on any sort of response. Thus, I should have at least two weeks till the Kingdom makes a decision, and even then, they will need a week of travel to reach here.”
“In that time, friend Dale, I will help you fully learn the language here, as well as the written word, as a form of repayment.” The Scholar held his hand up as Dale began to protest.
“I am a man of my word, and I always repay my debts. Always.” An ice shuddering chill entered the Scholar’s tone as he finished his sentence, his mindset abruptly shifting. After a moment, however, he returned back to normal.
“Alright, senior.” Dale bowed to the man, accepting what he said. He did, after all, need to learn the language here, and if the Scholar was offering, Dale would gladly accept.
“From the combat alone, it is proof that you aren’t my disciple. The Kingdom won’t put any focus on you, nothing more than a footnote. Regardless, I would advise against living in this area after I leave. Staying in the village proper would be fine, just lay low if any figures come.”
As the Scholar spoke Dale abruptly raised a question of his own.
“Senior, if you wouldn’t mind explaining… What cultivation style did your enemies use? I couldn’t detect any cultivation energy at all, and the attacks they used were extremely odd. They seemed to use the natural energy of the world, something I thought was not possible to control.”
Scholar Shen nodded as Dale spoke, as if his question made perfect sense.
“You didn’t sense any cultivation energy, friend Dale, because they weren’t cultivators.”
The Scholar smiled as Dale gaped in shock, the scholarly air around the man once again returning as he explained.
“What those fighters were, and what I myself am, are something called Law Practitioners. Instead of cultivating energy into our body and making oneself stronger, through forming a Core, or a Base, or a Foundation, or whatever pathway of the thousands of different cultivation styles out there that exist are, Law Practitioners focus instead on the powerful, godly Laws that bind every Universe. Only by completely mastering all of the Mortal Laws or one of the Immortal Laws will a Law Practitioner be able to challenge the heavens and attempt to Ascend. This is much easier said than done, however.”
Dale blinked, his mind comprehending what the man said in an instant. A feeling of excitement rose in him as he considered the enormous, powerful strength these cultivators… no, Dale mentally corrected himself, the strength these practitioners held.
The Scholar continued to speak,
“I believe the common people call our kind ‘Sages’ or ‘Scholars.’ It depends on where you are for each term. I personally prefer the term Scholar.” Scholar Shen continued to speak, his voice filled with enjoyment as he continued talking in a lecturing tone.
“Among Scholars, there isn’t really a good specific ranking system. After all, no two Scholars will hold the same exact level of understanding of the Laws. In terms of strength… hmmph,” The Scholar’s tone dropped off abruptly, “The ones we fought can only be considered average. The lass had some aptitude, but the two bumbling numberheads were dreadful. How they got as far as they did in understanding the Mortal Law of Lightning I will never know.” The Scholar shook his head, tutting off his fingers.
“Sir, is this something you can teach?” Dale said eagerly, his heart palpitating as he felt hope rise in him. His cultivation was going slowly, it was true, but if it was possible to train in this ‘Law’ power, that was something he could ignore.
“Hmm?” The Scholar turned to focus on Dale, staring at him curiously. The man shrugged.
“While yes, it is something that can be taught, it isn’t something you should choose lightly. Training in Law energy, instead of cultivating one’s own energy, is several times more difficult than even the most complicated cultivation art. If even one person out of a hundred thousand can become a Law Practitioner, it would be considered very good.”
Dale shook his head and asked his question again, his determination unwavering.
“Hmm… well. Studying Laws isn’t something you can rush. It can take years to gain even the slightest insights, and reaching a level of strength like my own, it may be forever out of your reach. It will also detract from your cultivation, wasting time you could have spent on that.” The Scholar gave Dale a long look and continued.
“I will have to leave in around two weeks. I cannot afford to take you with me, and I have no interest in taking in a disciple. However…” The Scholar gave Dale an encouraging look.
“I’ll leave behind some of my own personal notes on studying Laws. They may be of some use. This will only be after you successfully learn how to read and write in regular Common, however.”
“This junior thanks senior.” Dale tried to sit up and bow, feeling his body scream at him as he moved. He was still in a rather terrible shape, despite his small healing.
“Nonsense, nonsense.” The Scholar motioned for Dale to sit back down. “It is the least I owe you, for having dragged you into my own personal battle.”
With that, Dale and the Scholar talked for a few more minutes before the Scholar left. Dale went back to sleep and rested, and the next day began to earnestly study and learn the common language of this world. Scholar Shen was an excellent teacher, and very well learned. Cloud reappeared a few days after Dale started learning, the parrot having vanished on its own for some mysterious purpose. The parrot would often leave randomly as Dale adventured, even in his old world, and Dale had long since grown used to it.
In the blink of an eye, two weeks had passed.
Dale went through a series of slow sword motions, spinning his arms and legs in precise positions. He moved the great claymore Aarsasho gracefully, pulling it down to the left while hurtling to the right. His movements had returned their former grace, the injuries he had taken from the two pronged lightning fully healed.
The Growth Armor Dale wore had repaired itself finally, after a break of two weeks. Dale looked down at his armor as he practiced dejectedly.
Growth Armor was a special type of armor, one that was extraordinarily rare. Dale’s Growth Armor was something he had paid a fortune for in his previous world, a suit of armor made out of part of the shell of an Ancient Earthsworn Tortoise.
What made Growth Armor special, however, was the fact that it was supposed to grow stronger with one’s cultivation. The stronger one cultivated too, the stronger the armor would grow. With Dale’s lack of growth in cultivation, unfortunately, his armor remained at a rather weak state. Despite that, Dale continued to wear it, confident that one day it would be like the ultimate Growth Armor of legends, able to block the blows of gods.
Dale looked up from his contemplation of his armor as he heard a soft tapping sound. From the front of the home Dale had roomed in emerged Scholar Shen, this time with a small brown backpack strapped to his back. The elderly man scratched at his white beard as he saw Dale practicing, giving him a warm smile.
In these past two weeks, Dale truly felt like he had become friends with the old man. While he still didn’t know the Scholar’s backstory, or anything about his past, Dale felt like it didn’t matter. He firmly regarded the old man as someone he would respect, regardless.
“Well, friend Dale, it seems it’s time for me to go.” Instead of the guttural High Common, the Scholar spoke in the regular common language of this world, a soft language similar to the language of Dale’s old world.
Dale responded in kind, sticking to the same language.
“I thank you for your instruction, senior.”
“Nonsense!” The Scholar clapped warmly, laughing. He then reached into the pack strapped to his back, revealing a long black book of parchment.
“Despite our difference in age, I consider you one of my few true friends, Dale.” The Scholar gave Dale a warm smile again. “This is the book of my early studies in my understanding of Law. If you can reach a level of understanding where these notes make sense, and you can make use of them, you will have reached the most basic level of Law mastery. This isn’t a path that is easily conquered, and should take you years of study. Regardless, it seems like this is something you are determined to do, and I won’t stop you.”
Dale felt himself tear up slightly. The Scholar had only ever been kind to him in this world, and that was something Dale wouldn’t forget. Instead of saying thanks again, however, Dale simply bowed, knowing the Scholar’s dislike for formality.
Scholar Shen looked around, taking a glance back at the large wooden house behind him. A melancholic air seemed to surround the man as he turned about, shaking his head sadly.
“Well, with that, I bid you farewell, friend Dale. Till we meet again!” The Scholar gave Dale a wave and then, abruptly, leapt into the air, floating in the sky.
“Goodbye, Scholar Shen!” Dale yelled up at the man, waving.
The Scholar waved merrily back at Dale and vanished, zooming off into the distance. Dale watched him go, feeling both sad and happy.
After a moment, Dale looked around the now lonesome wooden house as well. He then turned around, checked his gear and replaced Aarsasho in his sheath, his steps fluid. He secured the sleek black parchment book in his hands, taking great care to ensure it didn’t tear or fall. He made a mental note to purchase or make a satchel of some sort the next opportunity he got.
Cloud, Dale’s golden-white parrot, gave a loud squawking sound as it appeared from the forest, flying over to land on Dale’s right shoulder. Dale gave it a slight nudge with his head, smiling. He then took one last glance at the small wooden home he had lived in for the past couple of weeks, and then left, walking towards the village center a few miles away, his head full of plans and his heart full of hope.