A Touch of Madness 4.08 – Erik

The Undying Cultivator

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As a Cultivator, I know the circumstances of my birth is not as important as the way I face my end.

— ERIK ITO, TO ASBJÖRN

Fiend Lord, Patrick murmured.

Emotions flooded through Erik in ever-rising waves, waves of towering fear and anger, swells of heart-wrenching sadness and disgust, breaking over him as if trying to shatter his soul. Asbjörn! ASBJÖRN! Tears streamed down his pale eyelids. Mother, please no. Don’t do this to me. I’m begging you. Please!

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A Touch of Madness 4.07 – Erik

The Undying Cultivator

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You have limitations. As a Cultivator, you must always remember this. Unlike others, when we heedlessly push past our own limitations, it is not we who suffer but those we love.

— ASBJÖRN MAKI, TO ERIK

With his head pressed at Asbjörn’s side, Erik choked back a cry. His hearts felt so full of sentiment that for a second he worried they might burst. He gripped his adopted father tighter. He wanted this moment to last forever. He never wanted to let go. My Da. My Da.

Perverting the moment with desire, suddenly the Celestial Dragon’s hunger rose within him, making his vision blur. It surged into his limbs, seemed to taint everything about him, his blood, his soul. He felt as if his stomach had turned into a gaping hole large enough to swallow the world. It hollowed him; it made him…

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A Touch of Madness 4.06 – Erik

The Undying Cultivator

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We come together to fall apart and fall apart to come together.

— ANONYMOUS

A bird made of water? Now I’ve seen everything, Patrick said.

Erik shook his head. “That makes little sense. Elements can’t be alive. What’s next? Earth dogs and fire cats?” The water bird made another slow circle in the sky above.

Patrick snorted. Sense? How does any of this make sense?

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A Touch of Madness 4.05 – Erik

The Undying Cultivator

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Four hang, four sprang, two point the way, two to ward off dogs, one dangles after, always rather dirty. What am I?

— ANCIENT RIDDLE

Beneath a cloudless sky, the sounds of battle drifted on the wind.

Erik ascended a steep rocky slope, carefully navigating past ancient rubble. All around him, stone heads jutted out of the ground, weathered by wind and rain until their details were lost to time. The air hammered him with raised voices and a deep rumble that worked its way into his bones. Nervousness prickled the nape of his neck. There was no telling what exactly lay ahead, but he had an idea.

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A Touch of Madness 4.04 – Númi

The Undying Cultivator

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There is no fire like hatred, there is no shark like madness.

— ANCIENT PROVERB

 Again the nightmare had come.

The rising sun cresting the walls of a black fortress. An ancient citadel . . . Hjörtur. Blank faced, top-knotted soldier arrayed in neat lines, all glimpsed from squinted eyes. The sensation of a barbed horsewhip cutting into aged flesh. Red rivers spilling out from deep wounds. And then voices lifting as one in mocking laughter.

Númi awoke brow covered in sweat, gasping, struggling to banish the twisted vision that had visited him once again. No one had laughed during his public lashing, he was almost positive of that, but his blood boiled all the same. And though long healed, his back ached where the whip had torn into his skin. Much like the sensations he still received from his missing hand, the…

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A Touch of Madness 4.03 – Erik

The Undying Cultivator

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The deeper one sojourns into the sere and yellow the more introspective they become.

— ASBJÖRN MAKI

With a start, Erik dropped his gaze from the fleeing dire wolves as another wave of weakness washed through him. The coolness beneath his knees pulled at his eyelids, making them droop as if they weighed a thousand pounds. All he wanted to do was sleep.

Winter Unfolds? Patrick mumbled in amazement. I’ve never seen a Cultivator use it in battle until today. I thought it was useless, only fit to cool cellars.

Vapor rose from the frozen ground around Erik, whipped by gusts of wind into an ice cold mist. With the gusts came scents clogging his nostrils. From kilometers away they came, from long valleys and forested areas teeming with life. The smell of dire wolf predominated, and of grasses and…

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A Touch of Madness 4.02 – Erik

The Undying Cultivator

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Morality does not exist to a man with an empty stomach.

— ANCIENT PROVERB

Yellow eyes glowing, a dire wolf almost as tall as man’s chest, all gray and black, reached for Erik with its mouth agape. Although it seemed to only be moving at a walk, he knew it was running faster than most humans could perceive.

The hate inside Erik rung with reverberations that grew in intensity with each passing millisecond. With the hate came power, flooding into his mind as he was aware of it flooding into his muscles. Strength filled him until he could just keep up with the dire wolf’s pace. He could feel resistance from the air on his limbs and bones which would have already broken under normal circumstances only gave him a twinge of pain. But his heart ached, tearing and healing repeatedly. It felt as if…

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