Sorry for the delay, had a fever. Fine now.
Lin, her senior sister and I. The three of us stared at each other in silence as we let our thoughts wander.
Lin had already brought her senior sister up to speed on the current state of affairs. Now we were waiting for her to make her decision.
In the silence, the music of their emotions was that much clearer. Lin’s melody was the muted trill of anxiety modulated with hope. Her senior sister’s on the other hand, despite her poker face, was a chaotic ensemble of instruments indicative of her current confusion.
All of a sudden, the ebony woman sighed and turned her amber eyes to meet mine. “Call me Kara.”
“Thomas Yang.” I decided to keep the poor bloke’s surname since I was in his body while getting rid of his first name. Once I said it out aloud, I somehow felt much better about my situation. I was still the individual from earth but now, I resided in a magical body in a magical world.
Thomas Thornton was no more. Neither was Liu Yang.
I was Thomas Yang.
My Soul glowed brighter momentarily before becoming much clearer than before. I could feel its conjunction with my body increase. Even the clarity with which I could sense Lin and Kara’s emotions shot up. I took it to mean that the name change was a step in the right direction.
“Thomas?” Kara’s eyes narrowed. “Didn’t you say that you were a local? What kind of name is Thomas?”
“What kind of name is Kara?” I shot back.
“I’m not local.” She replied.
“Thought so.” I nodded.
“What’s your excuse?”
“Since I escaped death, I decided on a new name for a new me.” I bullshitted with a straight face.
“Ookaay. Then what do you want of us?”
“Food, shelter, cultivation resources…”
“Now that’s something you two will be wanting from me. It’s a give and take. You get full use out of your resources and a boost in cultivation speed. I get safety and a promise of safe egress from this man-trap of a Sect at some point in the future.”
“But you do know that I’m the biggest loser in this arrangement, right? Lin was at stage 3, you were a mortal and I was at stage 6 of the Qi condensing stage. Now, all three of us are at stage 3… You owe me three realms.”
“You owe me a life. No, two.”
“…Fair enough. I guess. Though if I hadn’t brought you away secretly, you wouldn’t be here to double down on deals with me. Instead, you’d be strung up on a pole and treated like a living artifact. So, don’t try to use that as leverage again.”
“A business arrangement, huh? So that’s how you want it?”
“How else would I want it?”
“No… that’s fine. It works out for all of us. So, what next?”
Kara turned to Lin. “Well, since most of the sect will be up all night welcoming the newcomers and celebrating, there won’t be much happening till tomorrow noon. Then, there will be a tournament for the inner sect disciples. More of a demonstration of our strength to the newcomers, really. But it still has some lucrative prizes. Lin will be participating in the junior bracket. With her Spirit purity – she has a good chance of snagging a position.”
She turned to me, “As for me… I’m screwed. I will have to sit this one out. Instead, I’ll be testing how much you’re really worth. Lin and I have some resources stockpiled. You better deliver what you promise, or else…” She bared her teeth in a lopsided grin, her white teeth in sharp contrast with her skin. Her form blurred as she closed the distance between us in an instant. Though I could follow her speed with my eyes, reacting to her was a whole different story and before I could even twitch, she was pressing her elbow into my throat, her amber eyes inches from mine.
I felt her warm breath against my face as she spoke, “I could have crushed your throat right now. You can have all the power in the world but without the knowledge of how to use it… you are just as weak as you were as a mortal. Don’t let your cultivation get to your head.”
I swallowed nervously, my Adam’s apple bobbing up and down and grazing against her elbow. She had one thing right. Even with similar cultivation level, I couldn’t put a scratch on her. It was like a gym-rat facing off against a martial arts master. They both had the muscles but the martial artist would easily run circles around the gym-rat using his technique.
But she had one thing wrong too. Judging by the quiver in her emotional tone, I could tell that she knew the loophole in her words. Out of the bed, she could easily overcome me, but once we were under the sheets, she would be totally in my power.
Agreeing to cultivate with me meant that she had to be mentally prepared to put herself under my power. Once we started intercourse, she wouldn’t be able to hold on to her sanity. Even if I couldn’t suck her dry as she had first feared, it wouldn’t take much effort for me to take her life.
Even based as it was on the fact that killing her had absolutely no advantages for me, only disadvantages, it was still a huge leap of faith. One she must have struggled to take.
From the uncertain wavering tone of her emotions, it was a decision she still hadn’t fully committed to.
The only foreseeable result of her deciding that the cooperation was too risky was my corpse lying on the ground. And this time, I might not be lucky enough to reincarnate.
Taking a deep breath, I locked eyes with her. “If you are scared, you can tie me to a chair before we try this out. In return, I get to tie you up the next time.”
From the spike in the intensity of her signal and the total disappearance of the fearful undertones I guessed that she liked the idea a lot. The feral grin that spread across her face told me that maybe, she liked the idea a bit too much.