The Innkeeper-Chapter 406: Crashing faith
Lex lost all concept of time as his mind traveled through a strange vortex of colors that did not exist, and marinated in a pool of sounds his body could not actually hear. It was both an instant and an eternity at the same time, for while Lex was going through the vortex, he could not perceive it. It was as if he was moving forward, yet at the same time, somehow, time was frozen.
But how could there be an after, during or even before if time was still? How could he move through the vortex if time was frozen, for there could be no displacement if time did not exist as a medium through which to displace.
Yet ultimately that is what it seemed like, for when he finally exited the vortex, and time returned to normal, all the memories of his journey came crashing through in an instant.
Afterwards his mind became numb, for it was too exhausted to do anything. In fact, while it seemed like only his spirit was drained, since his spirit, soul and body had all been merged, all three dropped to an extremely low point of activity for they were just too drained to work.
Such a state was extremely dangerous, and was barely better than death, yet ironically it was due to the fact that his spirit had been reinforced by both the strength of his body and soul that he had been able to survive the experience he had just undergone.
Even though he was not there in person, and he had been exposed to the Henali assembly through a mere clone of his consciousness created by the system, it was far beyond what someone at his level could possibly tolerate. In fact, it was only because the clone had been created through the system that the system itself was able to detect when Lex was nearing a point of no return and forcefully canceled the clone.
The forceful disruption of the technique was precisely why the business card had not been used up, and was left behind on the scene of the incident to be misunderstood by everyone on the scene.
Mary, who was deeply connected to the Inn, instantly learned of Lex's deteriorating situation. The problem was... she could not move Lex himself, for she had no body, and she could not ask one of the workers to move him, for the Innkeeper could not be seen in such a weak state. But at the same time, Lex needed to be moved into a Recovery pod as soon as possible, lest there be no Innkeeper left to even protect. Of course, earlier Lex had given her a lot of authority and even made her the assistant Innkeeper, but that was only via the increased authority he had in the Crystal realm. Now she was back to only being able to communicate with the Inn staff at most.
Stuck between a difficult decision, she could only compromise, and summoned Gerard. He was one of the oldest two workers Lex had at the Inn, and while all the workers could be trusted, if she had to take a risk, it was best to be as sure as possible.
Gerard teleported right over to Lex's office building using his security access when he heard there was an emergency, and when he entered the building he nearly collapsed from alarm when he saw the Innkeeper unconscious at his table.
Nearly on the verge of a heart attack, and on the verge of having his immeasurable faith in the Innkeeper shaken, Gerard managed to gather himself back up. After all, if he wasn't able to recover, someone else would need to come, and he could not allow the Innkeeper to be seen like this!
As quickly, yet gently as possible, Gerard lifted the Innkeeper from his seat and teleported to the Recovery room. With the absolute utmost speed he could conjure, he took the Innkeeper to the Recovery pod before anyone could see who he was carrying.
Once the task was done, Mary informed him to keep the secret, and that she would let him know if she needed anything. Gerard, who was thoroughly shook, only weakly nodded and teleported away.
For the first time in his nearly one-year-old life, Gerard chose to take an alcoholic drink that day.
Mary, on the other hand, did not rest, for she was keeping a constant watch on Lex's situation. Technically, Lex was not injured. Instead, it was just his body, spirit and soul which had entered artificial dormancy due to a severe exhaustion. Some external aid, any external aid really, would help him recover.
It was only a matter of time now.
Qawain, the sentient sword, was sitting cross-legged in his abode. When he joined the Inn, he had been asked nothing more than to become a swords teacher for any guests who wanted to avail his service. The extent of his education, however, was left completely up to him. After all, if he felt that a certain guest could not be taught, it would only be a waste of effort to offer him the most in-depth teachings.
As a result of this, he had made his abode within a hole carved into the side of the Midnight mountain by a sword strike. He filled the entrance of his abode with a mild version of his own sword intent, so that any guest who wanted to meet him would, first, get some free benefits by meditating on the intent, and second, so he could filter out as many untalented people as possible.
Still, he couldn't be too harsh, lest he upset the Innkeeper for not doing his job. As such, he reduced his standards to the lowest possible amount. Even still, he ended up becoming revered as an excellent teacher with the harshest possible standards.
Considering he changed 10,000 MP for a single class, and that he avoided as many classes as possible, he should have been mostly free. Yet that was far from the case. He was almost always busy, for the path of the sword was one of the most popular universe wide.
Still, this day, something slightly unusual happened. He saw, through his spirit sense, a lone human wandering towards his abode casually. On his waist, the human wore a sword, though it was of a different kind than Qawain's own body. Still, being different didn't mean that Qawain discriminated, or that the human was weak. On the contrary, his performance was better than most others he had seen.
Intrigued, Qawain decided to increase the difficulty - just a bit - to see how the human performed.
Still, right up until the end, the human did not slow down, and even then, towards the end, all he did was frown.
An appreciative light flashed in Qawain's eyes before he decided to quit testing the human. After all, he was only there as a nominal teacher. He had no interest in taking any personal disciples.
"Your understanding of the path of the sword is pretty good," Qawain commented. "Tell me, what do you need guidance in, and I will guide you how I can."
The human, still frowning, did not speak. Instead, slowly, he grabbed the handle of his sword and began to draw it. His pace was extremely even as he drew the weapon, and the sword whistled sweetly as its body rubbed against the sheath on its way out.
A beautiful Katana was drawn with a sheen of blue running across its edge. Even the human paused for a moment as fondness flashed through his eyes, before they became focused again.
Instead of elaborating on his issue, the human struck forward with his sword with all the strength he could muster, instantly displaying his peak form.
Qawain nodded, as if he immediately understood many things.
"Your sword is one of devotion and servitude, but in your form there is defiance and resistance. You either need to find someone new to serve, one whom your heart can agree with completely, or you need to change your path of servitude."
Anger and frustration flashed through the man's eyes, but he still said nothing, only paid and left.
'If only it were so easy to leave,' Souta thought to himself.
His system had literally made him a slave to his feudal lord, and his feudal lord was incredibly evil. The only way out he could even think of was for his feudal lord to die, but then his system would just make him slave to yet another. After all, it was the duty of the samurai to serve their master.
He could not think of a way out. His future looked incredibly bleak. He could see no way out.
"Ho there friend," yelled someone walking his way, "you look like you've seen better days. What's the matter? Anything you need help with?"
Souta looked up and saw two other humans walking his way, both with an idiotic look on their faces.
"No," was all he replied, and continued to walk forward. That is, until he heard one of the men murmuring, "he's lying."