The Innkeeper-Chapter 405: Challenge
The hall Lex was in was large and majestic, with every inch of it covered in an intricate pattern carved directly into the very walls of the hall itself. The lighting was a dim yellow, as if a chandelier hung over the hall, filled with old incandescent bulbs. Yet if one were to look directly above, they would see what looked like a miniature version of a star, wrapped in and hung by what seemed an ornamental chain.
Something about the scene was unusual, but even in his Overdrive state Lex found it difficult to focus on any one thing for too long, due to the crashing waves of pleasure the energy kept giving him. He could have sworn that if it weren't for the perfect control his suit afforded him, he would occasionally moan from pleasure.
He looked around his booth, straining his mind to see if there was anything he could use to control and reduce the amount of energy, but he saw none. If things continued at this pace, he would be mentally exhausted long before anything substantial happens. For a meeting that was only held once a century, Lex assumed that it would last, at the very minimum, a few days if not weeks. Now it seemed like Lex wouldn't even be able to last the first hour.
Nothing was happening yet, or at least no one was talking where Lex could hear, which meant that Lex was exerting himself constantly just to stay sane, and not even hear anything relevant.
In fact, he couldn't even spend time trying to observe the other Daolords, for the moment he looked at the Devil who he already knew, the man that was Loretta's dad, and thought of his name, the Devil reacted, and looked directly towards Lex. Lex's mental state was too strained to pick up any details of his expression, and detect whether there was curiosity or recognition in the gaze. It took all his strength just to stop thinking about him.
Lex was in a strange situation, where it would take all of his strength to focus on one thing, due to the distraction created by the energy, while he would also need all of his energy to stop thinking about a certain thing.
To reduce the strain on his mind, he allowed himself to relax a little while until nothing important was happening, and let his gaze wander the hall.
13 of the booths were hazy, meaning that 13 other guests were here keeping their identities hidden while only 5 of them didn't care at all and let their appearance be shown to all. Other than the Devil, there was another humanoid being. She was an angel of otherworldly beauty, with a bearing truly surpassing that of mere mortals.
From that one time the representatives came to send an invite to the Inn Lex knew of a small list of other humanoid beings that existed in the universe, which is why Lex thought that the woman was an angelic beauty. It was because she was literally an Angel!
One of the other beings that were present in the was somehow extremely massive and small at the same time. He was small, because he fit perfectly in the booth that was the same size as the others, but when Lex passed his gaze over him, the image in his mind was so vast Lex could not begin to comprehend its size. The being was a beast of some kind, and that was all Lex could determine.
As for the remaining 2... Lex's feeble mind could not comprehend what kind of existences they were.
To avoid the risk of earning anyone's attention, Lex looked away. His gaze returned to the roof, which was filled with the intricate pattern that filled the room somehow without ever actually making the room look too full, or congested with decor.
The sight was almost as intoxicating as the pleasure provided by the energy, and as he had loosened the reins on his self-control, Lex quickly lost himself in a daze. There seemed to be no end as the swirls went from one to another, a never ending weave forming immaculate shapes... In fact, it was so perfect Lex began to imagine that they were a physical representation of the universe... and through that, he began to see odd shapes and began hearing weird sounds. Despite his best efforts, his feeble mind could no longer tolerate it, and he began to hallucinate.
He began to imagine that the patterns were coming to life, and taking the shape of the characters he used in his arrays. Only, these characters were a hundred million times more complex than any character he had ever seen or used, and just perceiving them subject him to untold pressures.
Colors began to lose meaning to Lex, and bled into sound. Then his sense of touch mixed into the pot, and somehow, his sense of taste as well. All his senses were going haywire as Lex experienced a trip worse and more vivid than any drug Earth had to offer.
By now, his Overdrive state had completely collapsed and even Lex's main consciousness had entered into a trance alongside his clone.
Let alone participate in the assembly, Lex could not even tolerate a wisp of his consciousness being in the room where the assembly was held. In fact, it was a testament to not only the immense strength of his mind, but the Regal Embrace as well that he had been exposed to an environment suited to perfectly host Daolords, and he had not completely collapsed.
In a very accurate way, Lex was now subject to the kind of pressure low level cultivators usually experience around cultivators with levels much higher than their own, except that this time the system was no protecting him since this was not inside the Inn.
The craziest part was that Lex's consciousness clone had not even absorbed any of the energy that it was submerged in - only exposed to it.
Outside his booth, exactly one minute had passed.
"Amana, I'm surprised to see you here," said the Angel, looking at one of the two Daolords the shape of which Lex could not even comprehend. "Are you not afraid that Ra will once again start pursuing you?"
"The last time he tried, I froze him in time for eternity. Had it not been for Ballom, that is where he would remain," replied Amana, showing complete disregard for this Ra that was being referenced.
"My sincerest apologies, Goddess Amana," Balloon said with a casual smile, "but we Devils are businessmen. For a sufficient price, anything is negotiable. In fact, I believe even your sons have availed some of our services."
The Devil's reputation was spread not only in the Origin realm, but many others as well. Like the Henali, they had ownership of various realms, and considerable influence in many realms which they did not directly control.
"Speaking of children, I heard Ra's daughter has left her prison. Does that mean the wedding is back on?" asked the beast. The beast had an amused glint in its eyes - a glint that Velma was all too familiar with.
It seemed that even the highest strata of the Origin realms cultivators could not escape the relentless clutch of gossip and drama.
Before it could receive an answer, however, one of the booths suddenly emptied. The hall became still, as all the Daolords, both that had hidden their identities and the ones that openly displayed their identities turned to look to confirm for themselves at what they had just witnessed. In fact, for the briefest of moments, they even considered the possibility that they remembered incorrectly, and that this booth had been empty all along.
Countless Daolords were invited to these events each time, and most did not attend. But regardless of whether they attended or not, none disrespected the Henali. For someone to come to the assembly, but leave before the Henali even began to convene the meeting... it was unheard of for sure. But then again, it was easy to be courageous when the Henali assured complete anonymity...
As soon as the final thought entered everyone's mind, they erased it, for in the now otherwise empty booth, a single business card hovered gently in their air, supported by the thick, tangible energy that filled it.
On it, in clear and bold letters, was written 'The Innkeeper' just below 'MIDNIGHT INN'. A million thoughts ran through everyone's head, trying to understand why the Innkeeper would leave so rudely. If he hadn't wanted to come, he should have never made an appearance, and if he wanted to leave, there was no reason to leave his calling card.
Other than Ballom, none had heard of this place, but suddenly each and everyone made a mental note to stay clear of it. Whether this Innkeeper was ignorant, or truly someone who did not need to give Henali some face, either way, it was best to keep their distance for now.
Only Ballom developed a small smirk on his face. How interesting. Was this meant to be a challenge?