Once more, Arthur stood in a swirling landscape of mist and clouds. Beneath his feet was solid ground, all around him nothing but the obscuration of his vision. Well, that and the scrolling text within his mind’s eye. Without anything better to do, Arthur clutched his spear tighter and read over the text.
Arthur had been worried about that. Even assumed it was a problem. Now, the mists were churning and his body twisted, as if it was pressed through a particularly tight hole. It was a strange – if somewhat familiar – sensation before he was popped out, into a familiar looking corridor.
“Really?” Arthur muttered to himself. Still, he wasn’t going to complain too much about it. Not managing to acquire sufficient points to increase his Body beforehand meant that he was running lower than he would have preferred. Especially if they had increased the difficulty.
Listening to his voice echo back, and then standing still as he tried to ascertain if his words had generated any aggro, he had to forcibly remind himself to breathe properly. Funny, how much training was centered around breathing, but it was the easiest, most direct method to tap into the unconscious workings of the body.
No noise. No sign of a monster. Just a straight corridor, leading into the distance.
Arthur eventually started walking, tapping the bottom of his spear before him as he did so. No idea if there were traps in such a place, so he assumed there were. The worst case, he took too long and was penalized if there wasn’t. On the other hand, the worst case if there were traps meant death.
Arthur wasn’t a big fan of death.
For a variety of reasons.
Since he had a ton of time and a lot of it was spent just walking the damn corridor, Arthur found himself regarding it with care. The footing was some form of stone, hard and unyielding. Horrible to fall upon, which meant he would have to hope his breakfall techniques were good if he was sent sprawling. More people died from stupid fights on concrete than your average person would know, with so many of them just falling, cracking their head on the unyielding pavement and never getting back up.
Thus lesson one of any practical self-defence course when they got to the physical portion of training. Learn how to fall. You couldn’t fight if you were dead, stunned, concussed or had a broken limb because you didn’t fall right. Especially bad for women and other smaller sized individuals.
“Stone floor, roll off. Keep head, tucked in, or you’ll be….” He trailed off his singing, chuckling to himself. “Got to keep it kid-lit, friendly.”
Not that telling himself meant much. The preparation for all these things were hours upon hours of training in the martial arts halls, with friends and sparring partners repeating the same drill till it became automatic. Varying the drills itself up with good partners who knew how to provide just enough resistance and change to stay within the parameters of the drill and safe.
Safe being the operative word there, what with a single injury putting trainees out of commission for weeks at a time. Oh, sure. You could train some basic techniques while injured, depending on the injury. Arthur had done that more than enough. There was even something to be said about learning to move while in pain.
But mostly, uninjured was the goal. Which so many teachers failed to understand.
It was something his own tsifu had dictated Arthur learn for himself. Sending his students out to train with others, to learn new techniques, new training methods, new sparring partners on the regular. So that things never got stale in the martial hall. Bringing the bright ideas of other teachers back, to be disseminated among everyone else.
Talking of illumination.
Diffuse lighting, coming not from any single recess but all around. The stone itself seemed to generate the light, which made for weird shadows. There wasn’t any single source that overcame any other which meant that his shadow stuck mostly to him, the light coming from so many sources it was just a tiny blob.
Horrible for someone like Uswah who had at least a couple of cultivation techniques that used shadows as a mainstay. Not a problem for him. One reason why he preferred more direct, internally driven techniques when he had a choice.
Theoretically, you could take away an individual’s body – there were some spiritual and mental techniques that were rumored to be in play – but it was expensive and confined to much higher, more powerful Towers.
“Got light, so bright. Remember, you’ve got no night, in the Tower. Of POWER!” Raising his voice at the last, laughing a little insanely to himself.
Yeah, maybe the endless corridor was getting to him.
Size of corridor was typical hallway, about six feet wide. That meant that whatever monster he might find at the end of this corridor – if it didn’t spit out into a hallway – would be confined to relatively normal dimensions. Ceiling was ten feet tall, so it wouldn’t even be that big.
Unless it was a five foot wide, eight foot tall rhinoceros or even another massive babi ngepit, retreat into the corridor – if the door stayed open – was a potential open if there was a room. If not, and he encountered the monster within, so long as it was his sized, he would not have to worry too much about fighting giants or other too tall monsters.
Which led, of course, to the other forms of speculation. What kind of monster could he meet? Another jenglot? A babi ngepit but bigger? He doubted it’d be a Kuching hitam, not unless they changed the environment significantly in the room he was walking to. After all, that creature – like many of the large constrictor snakes that might be in play – were ambush predators.
This kind of environment, without ledges or protrusions, without shadows to hide behind took away all their advantages, leaving the frailer creatures easy prey. Speculation, which was all that Arthur had to offer was rife until a shift in light ahead of him had him speed up.
The door grew darker, the colours shifting. Arthur had yet to find a single trap, and he was beginning to realise he was likely being over paranoid. Still, when he finally did manage to make it to the doorway at the end, he could not help but shake his head.
What kind of insane Tower chose that as a test?