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Bi De gathered the blackfurs across the river, upon the edges of the Great Pillars of the Fa Ram. The little blackfurs carried their cauldron with them, following in his wake, with the hunched and robed Chow Li sitting on top of it. With the creature’s odd walk, Bi De supposed that it must be crippled, to have it’s lessers carry it around. With it’s hunched, shuffling walk, and oddly Great Master-like forelimbs. It did not even get wet from the river crossing, the smaller blackfurs floating the cauldron along on it’s scaffold, while they pushed it from behind.

Bi De turned at the gate, and bid them wait. He had to prepare, and there were a great many starving guests.

From the storage, he collected a bag of rice and a basket. From the bag, he took a quarter measure of it. From the coops, he selected several eggs that though were filled with qi, had no life within them. And finally, from the Pots of Growth, he collected the Heavenly Herbs. He opened the bag, and poured out a quarter measure of it.

Thus, he bought the offerings to his guests.

Their eyes went wide at the sight of the herbs and the rice. They shone with abject awe at the fruits of the Great Master’s labours. Chow Ji, Lord of the blacfurs, clambered down from his cauldron, and once more fell to his knees. The rest of the blackfurs swarmed forwards, prostrating themselves.

“Guardian-Protector, Great-Magnificent Bi De! Your Generosity-Virtue is beyond that of the highest heavens! Praise-Praise him, Clan-kin! Praise-Praise him!” Chow Ji chittered. Chow Ji’s face was twisted into a parody of his Great Master’s own smile, attempting to copy his powerful form. It was an ugly thing, but Bi De forgave him for it.

He stood, proudly and regally, and allowed them to lavish their attention upon him for a moment longer.

He then gave them leave to eat.

The guest’s food was set upon with gusto-- but when the blackfurs attempted to sup upon the Herbs and eggs, Chow Ji snapped and snarled at them.

Bi De’s eyes narrowed, and he let his displeasure be known with his mighty voice. Chow Ji and the blackfurs recoiled from him, and once more Chow Ji simpered.

“Great-Magnificent Bi De, We implore-beg you, stay your rage-wrath! These mighty-powerful reagents must be correctly-properly used-refined!”

So he wished to cook them in his cauldron?

Chow Ji’s eyes widened, and once more his smile covered his face.

“Great-Magnificent Bi De, you do not know-notice what this is?” He asked in his chittering voice, ”Come-Come, let Chow Ji show you his great-powerful Spirit Furnace.”

Chow Ji barked orders to his lesser blackfurs, and they snapped into motion. The “Spirit Furnace” was swiftly erected upon a different configuration of it’s scaffolding. Chow Ji clambered up to the top, and sat upon it.

Then he started chanting. The blackfurs squealed in time, and more of the little ones climbed as well, placing their paws upon it.

Bi De felt their qi, and the spirit furnace began to glow. The Heavenly Herbs and the eggs were gathered, and in time with the squeaking chants, carried up the scaffolding to the swirling qi and brightening glow of the blackfur’s Spirit Furnace.

And then, they were placed within. Chow Ji, on the top of the furnace, placed his odd paws upon it, and directed the qi.

It swirled in prismatic colours within, smoke occasionally belching out from the sides.

Bi De watched in interest. Even Chun Ke and Pi Pa had ceased their annoying sounds, gazing upon what was occurring in front of them.

For an hour, the black furs toiled, the lesser ones staggering off the cauldron and collapsing when their paltry qi was exhausted, only to be replaced by their kin.

The sense of the qi rose and fell with the chanting, and Chow Ji’s barked orders, keeping the glow stable.

And then, it was over. The furnace burst open, and Chow Ji grasped in his hands two round seed-like objects. They were yellow, with green swirls over them, and smelled oddly tangy and acrid. Bi De examined them. Only two?

“Great-Magnificent Bi De, I gift-present this Spirit pill to you!” Chow Ji exclaimed, holding one of them out for him.

Bi De was unimpressed. These small things would not fill a belly. And though they felt potent with qi, to use so many of the Heavenly Herbs and eggs for this was… well, it seemed wasteful to his eyes.

Chow Ji’s eyes widened. “Great-Magnificent Bi De, you have attained your great might-power without ingesting-refining a single pill? Truly, you are great-powerful!” he once more fell to his knees in acknowledgement of his might. “But this will make you even more-more mighty powerful. Refine it within your body, Bi De, and know-understand the difference.”

Power. He wanted power. Power to defend Great Fa Ram. Power to make his master proud. Power to comprehend the world around him.

Power. Would this make him more powerful, more worthy of his Great Master’s benevolence?

Bi De examined the pill again, held out to him. They were guests, trying to repay him. He supposed it was only polite to partake of their toils, like Great Master’s servants cooking for him a meal, and toiling on his behalf.

“Be cautioned-warned, Great-Magnificent Bi De. It’s power is mighty-great. It will not be content-happy to be consumed. You must master-tame it.”

Bi De took the pill in his beak, and swallowed.

It was as if there was a fire shoved into his core. He was stunned at this development. The pill began to rampage within his belly, throwing off streamers of uncontrolled qi. He swiftly leapt onto the Great Pillars of the Fa Ram, taking his rightful perch, and began to sort through the disturbance in his qi.

It swirled and coiled, coming off the pill in his belly, and he examined it closely. It was similar to the feeling that the Heavenly Herbs normally gave off, but magnified greatly in violence and intensity.

He moved his qi with them. He controlled their flow. He refined them within his body, and comprehended them at a greater level.

The once raging power quieted. Bi De masted it, controlled it, and added it to his own. But there were parts of it that felt off. The pill was imperfect, and there were some sort of impurities now within his body.

He considered them. They were small, almost unnoticeable, but he disregarded them.

He examined his qi as well, and his sudden surge of might.

Bi De contemplated his new power, and rose to his feet, beginning to perform his training.

Chow Ji watched him from back atop the spirit furnace. His Clan-kin bought him more rice, as he considered the rooster’s movements, and his qi.

His lips quirked, as he found what he was looking for, and then he returned to his own refinement.

The pill had been more powerful than he was expecting. Even he, who had eaten many pills before, was pleased by it’s quality. The qi was bright and full of energy. Even better than their last land.

There were many good reagents here. Their numbers would swell, and he would be able to operate his spirit furnace for longer periods of time, as more and more of his lessers could add their souls to the cause.

“Yes-Yes,” Chow Ji muttered, staring out over the land and rubbing his hands together. His eyes landed on the spirit herbs and the chicken coops. “There are many, many fine-good reagents here.”

The guardian of this place...The Rooster wished for power. He would grant it.

But all power came at a cost.

Chow Ji chuckled to himself. Yes-yes, things were going far-far better than the planned-anticipated.

//////////

 

The blackfurs once more bowed and scraped as Bi De fed them, cheering on his generosity. They were guests, until they could be safely sent on their way.

Bi De hoped his Great Master would be proud of his benevolence.

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