It was sad to say but he couldn't compete in the third arena battle. With Kar's medallion around his neck, he was a student if unregistered. Already messages on his jade slip had begun to pile up. The administration sent him several requests to report for enrollment. They'd issue Lex new robes, textbooks and assigned him classes. Lex was a student now of the hidden Dragon Institute, whether he liked it or not. With his increase in rank, there were more problems.
In a few short months, he would need to free the witches. Getting them all through the hole in the ground wasn't going to happen. Sneaking them out of the city might not work either. A group flight wouldn't go well with the ground to air mages prepared to strike. Morale wasn't the greatest right now, especially with graduation coming soon. In six months, every class would graduate. That wasn't something he wanted Morgan to be present for because they knew the purpose of the graduation.
To that end, he needed to train harder and grow stronger than ever. Artus would also join the Hidden Dragon Institute for a semester. Lex's old enemy would be close enough to strike.
"You're stupid; freeing few witches might be possible, but a full exodus can't happen. Knights trained by the Institute, failed inquisitors, and noble bastards garrison the wall. So, breaking through to outside isn't possible. Even if you were in the core realm, you wouldn't be strong enough. At most, in six months, you might make it into the foundation realm." Morgan said.
She bit at her nails while she stared at him. Her hair was a mess, and he could see more of her tattoo than ever before. Long red scratches covered her arms, and there were bruises on her wrist. Even her qi felt a little off.
Lex had made their escape plan much more complicated. Making a deal with someone like the Duke's son had endangered their plan more than ever. So in those moments when Artus's parade shook him, an agent led him to the Duke's son.
What did he need to defeat Artus? He had a legendary blade, a familiar contract with the Dragon, and his cultivation technique. Still, it felt like something was missing some weapon or ability he was unaware of that Artus possessed. It made him wonder, did he believe that he could defeat Artus? If he couldn't even imagine himself beating Artus, then what was the point.
"It will give us the best chance to escape. The more witches who flee, the more scattered the Inquisition will be, and the more likely we will escape. Don't you want to get out of here? How long has it been since you've seen the outside world? There is so much outside you've never seen. You can't be satisfied living underground, unable to even see the sun." Lex said.
She glared at him, eyes watering, unable to meet his eyes. There was a weakness to her now. He could sense doubt from the flame of her qi, and he couldn't stand it. Finally, Lex yelled in frustration, leaned back, and fell on the floor. For a moment, he just remained on the floor staring up at the raising tools attached to the ceiling. They first met in a room like this one.
Morgan sighed. "I can handle the third arena battle if that's why you're frustrated. Raising the undead isn't a problem either I can raise all the undead I'll ever need. Without you, I'm alone; even if I managed to escape, if it's alone, I'll still die. So how are you going to free everyone?" Morgan asked.
Lex remembered Gram's power and how a single slice from it had destroyed a mountain range. Was it that easy? When he was strong enough, he'd rip open a passage out of here. Then Morgan would get on Brutus with him, and they'd shift planes and escape. There were forests to the west so deep and dangerous that no man ventured to their heart. He planned to take them beyond even those forests to the coast. There they could build a boat and sail west for a new land.
"We'll start by going to the black forest. There is a witch there that might help us, and if not, there is an inn we can say at until we're ready to move on." Lex said.
That calmed her down a great deal. It was surprising how mellow she became after knowing there was a plan, and Lex wasn't just bumbling around. Right, there was a plan, but Lex didn't know if he could succeed or not. He had months to prepare if he was lucky. It would be better to leave well before the date of graduation commenced. Haley couldn't be trusted undoubtedly she'd report any plans they made to Artus or her father.
Lex had to admit what this was to himself, at least. The hidden Dragon Institute trained witches in necromancy to prepare them for a grand soul binding. Their souls would be bound to a great weapon, a wedding gift for Artus. That was his hypothesis, but there were uncountable ways to use the sacrifice of hundreds of witches. A direct sacrifice was also possible to strengthen Artus's body, qi, and soul. Maybe they'd be sacrificed to epsilon himself to ensure good fortune and a stable rule for the new King. In truth, Lex didn't know the plan for the witches' sacrifice, but it couldn't be anything good. So, with that in mind, he chose to free them and ruin Artus's plan, whatever it may be, even if it was to give them all citizenship Lex would destroy it to spite him.
"Then, I have a job for you," Morgan said.
Lex looked up at her with a raised eyebrow. "What kind of job?"
"Black Fly developed a ritual for me that could allow me to become a full student to the hidden Dragon Institute with you. I want you to find someone who won't be missed. Make it someone who deserves whatever is coming to them."
Lex didn't know how he should feel about that. From what she said, they could perhaps make a disguise for her from another person's body. It sounded evil to him if anything was wrong. Who would deserve to be skinned and have their identity stolen? Hopefully, no skinning was involved.
A ball, a spiraling qi, appeared above his hand no larger than a grain of sand. While it was tiny, it had a powerful effect on the area around it. The tiny ball moved with it until a space of moving wind was created a miniature tsunami. A wind effect was something he'd been working on to hide the spiraling nature of his attacks. Something like a wind technique wasn't a big deal, but pure qi manipulation wasn't standard from what he's determined.
Morgan crossed her arms and stared at his experiment. "You've improved by leaps and bounds, but this isn't your strength. Pure qi manipulation won't ever be as powerful as resistance or enhancement techniques for you. Do you have any plans to develop any other skills?" Morgan said.
Lex sighed and dismissed his technique. While the wind effect looked great, she was right; his spiraling orbs weren't anything compared to his fists. They were great for precision strikes, advancing his cultivation and defense. He could generate a quick, powerful field of qi by spiraling it around himself. He already had plans to improve the technique to form a barrier instead of a loose qi wave.
"How are you doing, Morgan? Have you raised any undead?" Lex said.
He didn't like it when she talked about him or pointed out his weaknesses. Lex knew his strengths, and he knew the spiral exercises. His familiar bond with Zhan had increased his potential with qi manipulation, but that would never surpass his natural gifts, primarily since Zhan's familiar bond increased his enhancement and breach potential as well. He hadn't tested strength much since bonding with Zhan and then Brutus.
Morgan pouted before sighing dramatically and pacing across the room. She pointed to a stack of coffins nearly touching the ceiling. "Ever since learning that application, raising undead has never been easier. Miss Vile even let me back into the potions room. I made you a few in case you ever came back." She reached into her satchel pulled out 5 miles of red liquid. "It isn't much, but they'll help you increase your cultivation." She would look at him as he took the vials and placed them in his backpack.
Lex rubbed the back of his head. "Thank you, but I didn't find anything for you. There weren't even flowers on the mountain when I bonded with the Dragon." Lex said, and it felt lame even to his ears.
She snorted, "I knew you wouldn't. I doubt that even cross your mind." She thrust her finger at him and tapped on the forehead like she was testing a melon. "You forget I've been in there; I know what goes on. Revenge on Artus, I need to find a way to get stronger, and how am I going to get my woman out of the Institute." She smiled, "I'm not making fun of you." Lex glared at her. She waved her hands in the air. "No, really, I understand. Focus on your goals except for Artus, and get me out of here." Their eyes met her green to his blue.
Lex grabbed her shoulders, and she looked like she was about to protest before he pulled her into a hug. "If I can only save one person from this place, it will be you. So, I need to get a body and sneak into here. Does it need to be alive, or can I kill someone and stash them in my bag holding?" Lex asked.
"You aren't even going to question the morality of kidnapping some poor girl for a witch," Morgan said. Lex placed his hand just below her belly button and rubbed the area. Their eyes met, and he watched the moment when she realized he knew.
Morgan glowered at him and turned away. "Don't come back until you bring her." She tore off her gloves, washed her hands in the sink, and slammed the door behind her. After a minute, she was gone leaving him alone in the raising room. He didn't regret a thing. This was for the best; she knew that he was fully invested. There is no trust or belief, and that wasn't romantic at all. Since meeting her, he'd always been on her side because she helped him, and there was always the threat that could leave.
Lex wasn't an undead; no matter what tests the inquisitors attempted, he wouldn't appear undead. She never really held him captive, and they both knew it. This situation was different; she had something over him or something to hold him down. Morgan was pregnant, and they'd have to deal with it while trying to get out of this place.
He left to look at the raising room as he entered and noticed that Morgan hadn't swapped out the cards this time. There wasn't much of a need to anyway. They were leaving a raising room as they found it felt odd. He was tempted to swap some cards to keep up the tradition but held off. Lex had to see the administration.
Lex crossed the distance between the raising rooms and the entrance to the underground in a few minutes. He traveled the length it would take a horse to gallop for an hour in minutes.
The guards in administration let him after seeing his medallion. Lex made his way to the front desk and began the long process of filling out paperwork. The woman at the desk stared at him while he quickly wrote his name, his home village, and left the rest blank.
"Come right this way; sir will test you on the Invictus scale in this room."
The attendant led him to a room with a black ball in the center. The black or hovered off the ground at chest level. Around the orb were places for his hands. Lex grabbed the thing and felt it shake and vibrate at his touch. It pulled on his qi and then stopped. A woman at a nearby desk began writing as soon as the orb stopped. When she finished, she gave the paper to the attendant.
"You have quite a lot of qi; that must be an impressive breathing technique you have. Oh, your familiar is a nightmare that explains it. Not many people know this, but nightmares are intelligent. They can speak mind to mind. I bet yours taught you its breathing technique. Very impressive, but what can you expect from a student hand-picked by Elder Kars. Your highest parameters are enhancement and breach. But all your stats are rather high except for acuity and glamour." The attendant closed her file and handed it off to a servant. "I can tell you're going to be a great paladin one day. Now we better get you to your dorm so you can meet your new dormmate." The woman said.
She took him to a room deep within the administration building of a step into an elevator. "Oh, how rude of me; I forgot to tell you, my name. You can call me Debby. My father is lord Clarks of Banksville. It's a little estate near the Ebony River." Debbie said.
Ok so for all those interested I have a ******* and I'm about to post the next chapter Thursday and set up the next three on *******. They aren't up yet but that's what I plan to do. Send me a PM or comment and tell me what you think.