Lino channeled his wings, barreling himself forward through the air in a golden arc while azure lightning burned beneath his feet. He appeared to be a mere blur to both naked and trained eye, bounding over ten miles of distance in a single leap. In mid air, he drew out his spear and donned the cloak, bursting its core for the maximum speed. With his very own eyes, he witnessed space around him bend as he began plummeting down. Pointing his spear downwards, he came crashing like a thunderbolt, blowing apart a crater nearly a mile wide, and everything in it. He fell on one of his knees for a moment before dragging his feet up, on alert. As the dust settled, he spotted three mangled corpses scattered about rocks and trees and grass, causing him to sigh in relief. All three donned black robes, and corpses appeared ethereally strange as their skin tone was blueish, hair wholly white and overwhelming. He briefly stopped and recovered his breath before looking high up in the sky. There, like a behemoth, structure levitated freely in the air as though unbound by laws of nature. It had the shape of a double-stacked tetrahedron, sloped at sides in a downward angle, with its equator stretching for nearly five miles. It appeared to be built in a story-like fashion, as each ‘floor’ had a vertical beam - made out of human skulls and bones - cleaving it from the rest. It slowly spun in circles, while its three edges at the center sported three ruby-colored crystals which cast an array-binding net around the whole necropolis, warding off anything - or anyone - unwanted. It was mostly made out of strange, black and purple stones, each brick molded so perfectly one could hardly discern the separations between them, while two ring-shaped objects made purely out of deep violet energy rotated at the very top and bottom, connected by a surging pillar of same-colored light.
Lino frowned for a moment as he slowly began recovering his Qi; he’d been searching for Fish and others for nearly two days without any luck when he stumbled upon the nest of strange people. To call them people, though, would be somewhat of a stretch, as they were all mainly animated corpses. They were collecting strange herbs, dirt and water from the forest, some even hunting animals, completely ignorant of everything else. What caught Lino’s eye was the axe one of them was wielding, as it was the perfect replica of Kraval’s. Realizing that something had gone awry, Lino followed the group for an entire day before they began walking back somewhere in unison. It took another half a day until Lino had finally spotted necropolis - and he only did so because of the specific Qi animated corpses were emitting, which allowed him to search for it specifically. It was right about then that he was found out, which is why he burned through nearly all of his Qi reserves to catch up with a few that had gotten away and kill them. He wasn’t certain as to whether he was already discovered by those in the necropolis, which is why he found himself in such a conundrum. Though, after a short thought, he realized that whether he’s already discovered or not is irrelevant, as sneaking inside that thing would be virtually impossible. Just from the distance, Lino had spotted dozens of arrays and formations of all sorts, all powered up by Fire-purified Qi Stones - naturally mined Qi Stones which had then underwent purification process by a Flame of at least Void rank - which meant that not only they stored mass amounts of Qi, but also that the response time would be almost immediate to any of his attempts. Brute-forcing his way in also wouldn’t work, he wagered; though he might be able to break the outermost layer of defenses, he’d not only be exhausted in the process, but he wasn’t even certain whether they were additional layers which would prevent him from going inside.
“Dammit,” he mumbled. “How’d they got caught? Then again, they probably didn’t have an experienced scout like Shaneine or Lucky. Ugh...”
He battered his mind over and over again, attempting to come up with a solution. He knew he was running short on time, both before the new army of animated corpses - and probably something stronger - were sent out of the necropolis to search for him, and before Fish and others would be killed, if they were even still alive by some miracle, which Lino chose to believe in. The rescue came in a fashion that always made him frustrated for some reason.
“If you wish to sneak in,” the robotic voice spoke inside his head, startling him and causing him to fall on his backside, crying out in pain. “You can mimic the specific composition of their Qi and cheat their alarm systems.”
“... dude!! Can’t you, you know, have some bedside manners? Wait, what do you mean Qi composition? Aren’t there only two types of Qi in the world?” Lino quickly forgot his frustration and hopped onto the mystery.
“There are,” the robotic voice replied. “But there are not. Most prevalent and self-sustaining types are Universal Qi and Devil Qi; however, it is not that difficult to construct a specific makeup of Qi to suit your needs. After all, Qi is nothing more than just another element; so long as you understand its properties, modifying them isn’t that difficult. I estimate there are technically over 11,000 different types of Qi currently present and active in the world.”
“... what? Doesn’t that mean I can just make up my own Qi to be ten times stronger than anyone’s?”
“It already is. As I’ve mentioned before, you do not absorb Qi directly - you absorb a specific element within it compatible with me - Chaos. The makeup of your Qi is entirely made out of Chaos, with no blemishes. There is no stronger one.”
“... oh. Right. I forgot that,” Lino mumbled, scratching his head. “So? How do I mimic their Qi?”
“It’s quite easy,” the Writ said. “Approach one of those corpses and directly absorb their remnant Qi. I will run an analysis and uncover the exact components and links between them which create their strain of Qi. Afterwards, I’ll make it outwardly appear that you’re wholly made out of it.”
“... you can do a lot of shit you won’t tell me about.” Lino complained.
“Much like you, I am recovering my original functions over time. This one simply never seemed relevant enough to be brought up.”
“You always have the answer, don’t you?” Lino mumbled as he walked over toward the bare-bones remnants of an animated corpse and directly absorbed Qi from it. “I know you aren’t the chatty type, but can we just agree on something, please? Like, once a month or something like that, just update me on what you can do, so I can know all my options before I decide to do something utterly dumb that could lead to me dying. Luck won’t always be on my side.”
“... your safety is always my number one priority,” the Writ, strangely, decided to reply and engage, surprising Lino who quickly left the crater and sat up on a thick branch of a tree to relax for a while. “Should any of my functions ever increase the chances of your survival at specific times, I will inform you about them.”
“... you know, if you even added a whiff of emotion in that speech of yours, I might have even shed a tear or two.”
“... what gave it away?” Lino asked, grinning.
“I understand that human’s basic psychology requires them to engage in social interactions repeatedly, but by talking to you, I am consuming both time and energy that I could be using to recover my functions. Out of original 14,513, I have only recovered 9 so far.”
“What the fuck?! You had nearly 15,000 functions?!” Lino cried out in shock. “Wait, are all other Writs like you?”
“No,” the voice replied. “Though they do have their own fair share of functions, due to their link with Gaia, they also have a limiter placed on them. I do not, which allows me to continuously evolve.”
“So, what are those nine functions?” Lino asked.
“Ability to give you realm-appropriate abilities is one, Primal Spirits is another, Martial Arts is third, filtering Gaia Qi is fourth, ability to award you gear is fifth, ability to internalize Flames is sixth, Writ Archives is seventh, Recorded Will is eight, and Qi analysis and conversion is ninth.”
“... you know, I expected more. I didn’t know every one of those is a separate thing.”
“Your expectations are dully noted.”
Instead of a reply, Lino heard the familiar sounding words echo out inside his head which caught his attention immediately.
[Name of mutated Qi: Necrosis Qi - Low Tier]
[Derived from: Necrosis Qi - High Tier]
[Original Source: Unknown]
[Main Component: Devil Qi]
[Subsidiary Component: Souls]
[Additional Components: Death’s Breath, Moon’s Light, Essence of Time]
[Conversion Difficulty: Easy]
[Approximate Time: 3 hours]
[Proceeding with Conversion...]
“Do not disturb.”
“Dully noted.” Lino said.
He sat on the branch, closing his eyes, losing himself in thoughts. Though three hours could mark the difference between life and death, he hardly had another option. He still chose to believe though that they will be alive and well and all readied-up for a rescue, which is what made his thoughts be on the lighter side of things instead of moving astray.