Marcus's yell echoed through the alley before the three teenage girls turned around, startled. A look of fear could be seen in their eyes that quickly morphed back into a smug look full of pride once they saw Marcus. One of them, seemingly their leader, yelled "Scram! If you try anything we'll just mug you too!" The girl who yelled this had several piercings on her face and hair dyed blue. She glared daggers at Marcus, leaving him with two options. He could choose to abandon the man or he could choose to attempt to pull off of a bluff against a group of people who clearly wouldn't hesitate to kick his ass back into last Tuesday. Against both his better judgement and his self-preservation instinct, Marcus decided to bluff. He held back his urge to flinch before glaring back at the girl and taking a couple steps towards her. These steps were followed by a now revitalized glaring contest between the leader and Marcus. He took this chance to analyze the situation, taking in the all information he could about the people there and trying to find a way out of the mess.
After figuring out everything he could he yelled out "Idiots! A mere two Body Refinement Phase cultivators and a Moe Sensing Phase cultivator and you're trying to mug people already? I could grab a random passerby off the street and have them kick your ass!" As Marcus chastised the group he slowly made step after step forward, which eventually forced the leader of the group to move back. As she stepped back she swore and said "How the fuck could you know the level of our cultivation bases?" before a thought came to her mind and she stopped moving. She stuttered out "M-Moe Channeling Phase, Stage 2?" as her eyes widened. Taking advantage of the opportunity Marcus snapped and barked "Yes, don't act so surprised for christ's sake, I'm in the Moe Channeling Phase." he pointed towards the leader and the girl to the right of her before saying "You two are in the Body Refinement Phase and your friend is in the Moe Sensing Phase. Now get going before I have to kick your asses. I hate filling out police reports as the much as the next guy and so I'll give you until the count of 10 to scram." The leader stepped back even more, backing up to the wall of the alley, seemingly afraid, while the person in the Moe Sensing Phase looked to their leader in fear. The last girl looked towards Marcus skeptically, but when he began counting down from 10 with a voice full of impatience she stopped and hurriedly followed her boss as they left the alley. After a couple of minutes had passed and Marcus was sure they were gone, Marcus let out a sigh of relief and looked around to see the buff, tall man from before staring at him and smiling.
The man smiled at Marcus before exclaiming "What a funny bluff! You're such a bad actor, I can't believe they'd fall for that!" while slapping his hand against thigh and laughing uproariously. Marcus laughed before saying "Yeah, it was a terrible bluff, but I guess it's enough to work against some 13 year-olds. I'm just lucky that I didn't mess up while figuring out the levels of their cultivation." The man stopped laughing for a moment before inquiring "Yes, yes, boy, how did you know what the level of their cultivation was? If you were bluffing, wasn't that above the level of your ability?" Marcus laughed again before saying "Yes, it is beyond my ability to be able to tell the level of someone's cultivation, but based off of their age and the fact that they were willing to attack someone they had to have been in the Body Refinement Phase. I would've said something about all of them being in the Body Refinement Phase if I hadn't noticed that one of them had seemed to be hiding behind the others. Whenever one of us moved they subtly backed away from us and they tried to keep someone between them and us at all times. In addition, I noticed a bulge from a knife in their pocket, but I didn't notice any weapons on the other two. Since they weren't the leader, the only reason they would have a weapon when the others didn't would be because they're weaker. It's actually a good thing that they had a Moe Sensing Phase cultivator with them. It made my bluff more convincing since I could point to who was in what phase. In addition, if someone was bluffing they'd normally just say that all of them were in the Body Refinement Phase. I guess it was a gut-based decision, but it worked out for the best. I'm just happy that everything went well since I wouldn't be strong enough to deal with it otherwise. My cultivation has always been behind my peers and so I'm not even in the Body Refinement Phase yet." As Marcus finished speaking, he felt like something odd had just happened. Why had he added the last sentence? He felt like some odd force was affecting him when he was talking, but he wasn't sure what it was. In addition, once Marcus noticed this force he promptly decided to ignore it. It wasn't that Marcus didn't worry about mysterious forces affecting what he said, it was that Marcus was incapable of caring about what was going on. The force which forced him to keep talking had kept him from worrying about its effects.
As Marcus finished talking the man said "Good, good, you're a smart lad." before the smile disappeared off of his face and he asked another question. "You don't seem to be devoid of talent. You should be from the half of students that are selected to study cultivation based off of talent, not from those who only study for other reasons. You should at least be average. Why have you been left behind by your peers?" Marcus stared at the ground, biting his lower lip before he replied. "Because I refused to give in." The buff man stared stoically at Marcus before he simply said "Give in?" Marcus continued on, speaking quickly now, saying "To give in to how others want me to be. To act cute, to crossdress, to do all of the stupid things that would destroy my masculinity in the process of trying to gain power. The point of gaining power for me is to serve myself, my friends, and my family. If I destroy one of the core things that defines myself in order to gain power, then how could I say that I've achieved that? That wouldn't be serving myself, that would only be serving others. In the end my determination would collapse and I probably would only make it to the Moe Channeling Phase at the very best. That's why my only path is to continue on steadily, stubbornly, clinging to the hope that I make some breakthrough and progress while still maintaining my masculinity." The buff, tall man nodded before pausing, seemingly thinking about something.
After a few minutes, he eventually smiled before clapping his hands once and chuckling while saying "Good answers, good answers indeed. We were truly destined to come across each other. It seems my school has another disciple as of today." Marcus looked at the man in confusion before the man sent a heavy book sailing towards his face. Marcus was unceremoniously hit in the head with it before he managed to catch the falling book with his hands and look at the cover. The book was bound with leather and there were no images on the covers. The only thing on the outside were the words "The Dao of Gap Moe" embroidered in gold letters on the front cover. Marcus stared at the book while the man resumed speaking. "This book will bring you the opportunity that you seek, but everything else is up to you. If it means anything to you though, I think you're a very good fit for it. I'll be looking forward to seeing how you develop in the future." Marcus looked up at man before his jaw dropped open and he watched the man begin to fade away in front of him.
The man continued chattering on, his voice sounding like it was coming from further and further away as his body became more and more transparent. Before the man faded away completely he stopped what he was saying and began saying something else, seemingly in a hurry. "Oh, and remember, no matter what you do, you can't let it become known to the public that you have this book! It's considered a lost art and there are people of unfathomable strength who would kill you for it! Do you think that most male cultivators WANT to crossdress? Hell no, of course people would risk their lives to find a alternative method. Oh, you should be able to brand it within your mind and store it there once you can sense the moe coming from the book. You should be able to do that much even at your level, you just need to calm down. Oh, goodbye now! Have a good day!" the man continued talking on and on before his voice disappeared completely, followed by his body. He was akin to a ghost that had suddenly appeared and disappeared. Marcus was left in confusion, holding a mysterious book, standing in a dark alley, unsure if whether what just happened was real or an illusion. Marcus hurriedly put the book into his bag before he began walking home as stealthily as possible, both afraid that the girls from earlier would see through his bluff and return to attack him and that something would happen to the book if he wasn't careful. After an hour had passed Marcus had made his way back to his house. He flopped down on his bed before examining the book. His book.
Hello, thanks for reading The Dao of Cuteness, the result of me taking a joke much too far, and I hope you're enjoying it! The tentative release schedule is 3-4 chapters a week, but nothing is set in stone yet so it could vary. Fun fact, my cover looks ridiculous because it's completely copyright free and I don't do art, so I just ended up slamming together some stuff to make a cover, getting a laugh out of it, and calling it a day.
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