Chapter Six: Second Soul
Torben leans against the wall and slowly collapses to the ground. Now that he is out of danger, his legs no longer have the strength to stand. He takes a deep breath in and lets his eyes wander about the bloody scene in front of him. Although he’s had his own fair share of battles and bloodshed in the past, Torben still has to fight the bile from rising up in his throat. His face pale, he looks over at the war god standing in front of him.
Black Wind stands there, hand to his forehead, thinking. The person he was before wouldn’t have so easily slaughtered those bandits. At most, he would have killed the leader and a few others and scared the rest of them off. But now, a peculiar bloodlust came over him, making him lose control. But the whole experience makes him feel oddly refreshed, as though a shackle was thrown off. This scares him.
Not knowing what Black Wind is thinking, Torben speaks up, “Mr. Black Wind. Thank you for saving me and dealing with the bandits. But we can’t stay here doing nothing. Someone needs to clean up this… mess.”
His voice shocks Black Wind awake. “Ah. Yes. Leave it to me. I’m sure the villagers are rattled from this experience, how about you take care of the dead village chief and gather the villagers to discuss what to do next. As I’m an outsider, I’m not needed for that kind of discussion.” Black Wind pauses for a moment, as a grim smile passes through his face. “And I’m not so sure if the villagers would want to see me right now, after what I just did.”
Realizing Black Wind’s point, Torben nods and stands up. He walks around the massacred bandits and over to Emmett, the ex-chief, and carefully picks the body up. A sad look appears on his face as he brings to body into the village. Black Wind fixes his headband and waits for a moment while Torben does this, and once he is out of sight he starts picking up corpses.
After bringing all the bodies a ways outside the village, he channels extreme yang qi inside his body. A moment later a blindingly bright blue flame appears on his hand. Manipulating his qi to send it outward towards the pile of bodies, Black Wind gives them a quick cremation. Within minutes, all that is left is a pungent smell of charred meat and burned hair as well as a blackened patch of ground. Black Wind chants a few lines of prayer from his old world, wishing the souls a safe journey, and then walks back to the village.
A group of people have gathered to greet him. A somber mood hangs over the group. A slightly older woman in the middle is softly crying while being hugged by a young man who also seems to be holding back tears. Others in the group wear a pallid expression as their eyes glance at the reddish brown stained ground. And a small few others look towards Black Wind with a look of veneration in their eyes. Torben is not there, possibly he’s away getting his wounds treated.
Seeing Black Wind walk over, the young man at the middle of the group steps forward and introduces himself. “Sir Black Wind. I am Emmett’s son and the new chief. My name is Vivian. As a village, we would like to sincerely thank you for saving us from those bandits.” Saying this, Vivian gets down on one knee and bows, clasping his hands in front of him. Although he may be a bit young, he seems to be capable of taking action when needed.
Black Wind quickly has him stand back up, saying, “It was nothing. I was just in the right place at the right time.”
“No, it might have been nothing to you, but without your help our village would likely have been burned to the ground and… well, I’d rather not think about it. If there is anything we can do for you, please say it.” Although it’s only Vivian saying this, various people behind him nod there heads.
“I’m busy traveling to the capital. I don’t need much. Although I would appreciate some food for the road.” Black Wind sees that at his humble request, a look of relief passes over the faces of the villagers. They were obviously scared that he’d demand some unreasonable sum from them, and because his power is so great they’d have no choice but to give in. Vivian turns around a signals for one of the women to go gather some food. She quickly runs off.
Vivian turns back to Black Wind. “Now, this is from my mother and me. As thanks for avenging my father.” He presses a small leather pouch into Black Wind’s palm and closes his fingers over it, making it obvious that he won’t let Black Wind refuse. Black Wind takes it, secretly grateful that he now has some currency from this world, although he has no idea how much is in the bag, nor how much any of it would be worth. The woman comes back carrying a shoulder bag with food. Taking it, Black Wind gives his thanks and leaves the group, heading back to the Spinel Forge.
A little bit later Black Wind arrives, and after entering the forge, an excited Belgin runs up to him. “Daddy told me you defeated the bandits! And saved his life! And that your swordplay is out of this world! Wow, you’re amazing! I’m so sad I didn’t get to see it.” With every sentence she says, Belgin gets closer and closer to him, until she’s almost snuggled up to his chest. Black Wind is stunned, overwhelmed by the fast-talking Belgin, and doesn’t even react. After a moment, he starts and backs up a step after realizing how close she was. Belgin doesn’t seem to notice and steps in closer again, saying, “Can you tell me what happened? Pretty please?”
Floundering, Black Wind doesn’t know what to do. He’s not used to girls being so forward like this. In his world, everyone was a lot more modest and reserved. Thankfully, a voice calls out from the back room, saving him. “Belgin! Stop pestering Sir Black Wind and bring him in.” Belgin frowns, obviously not happy about being interrupted. She grabs Black Wind’s hand and pulls him with her through the doorway at the back of the room.
Inside there are a few more doors leading to other rooms. Belgin brings Black Wind through one of them. There is a bed inside, with Torben lying in it. He sits up when he sees them enter, and seeing Belgin grabbing Black Wind’s hand, he raises an eyebrow. Belgin blushes a bit and lets go. “Sir Black Wind, I’d like to ask. Are you a knight from somewhere? Or maybe some kind of mage? Your swordsmanship is superb and the way you can move is like nothing I’ve seen before. Also that weapon… I have been a blacksmith or a mercenary my whole life and have never seen a metal like that. Not even used by the brave heroes of the kingdom.” Torben looks curiously at Black Wind.
Deciding to keep it simple, Black Wind answers, “No, I am just a wandering swordsman, training to improve myself. I came back to make sure you were doing alright. Now that I know, I’ll be continuing onward.”
Belgin quickly says, before Black Wind has a chance to leave, “But you’ll be back, right?”
“Maybe if the fates decide so.” Black Wind heads out, ignoring the dejected look on Belgin’s face.
Leaving the town, Black Wind searches around for a quiet place to meditate. Before doing anything else, he wishes to find out what caused that bloodlust to come over him. He quickly finds an area further down the river with a large rock in the middle of it. Jumping to it, he sits in a meditative posture as he lets his mind flow with the sound and feel of the river. If you attune your mind to nature, it can speed up the process of your meditation.
After not noticing anything strange about his body, Black Wind once more cautiously sends his consciousness to his upper dantian. Knowing what to expect this time, he doesn’t let his mind get overwhelmed. There, he noticed a change from before. Aside from his own soul, he senses a faint trace of another soul. However, he is unable to get to it, since it seems to be at the very bottom of his seemingly bottomless raging sea of qi.
Since it is inside of his own dantian, Black Wind is able to send a mental message out to it. But he gets no answer. It seems as though this soul residing at the bottom of his upper dantian is asleep. Deciding that there is nothing else he can do about it at the moment, Black Wind leaves his meditation and starts heading towards the capital.