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Cultivation Fever 48 Insanity

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Dong's normally jovial demeanour was sombre, filling me with unease. He led me to his study in the third-floor attic and sat down across the desk from me.

"Let me run through the situation. Tai found you unconscious, but he also found Long Bao still in the isolation room."

"He was still there? I swear I carried him out to get help?"

Dong slammed his hands down on the desk, "Oscar Schwarz, this is no time for lies! Long Bao's head was missing! Missing! Why would you have carried him out?!"

His head… my stomach fell to the floor and I started feeling dizzy. There was no way… Tai had left Long Bao's face untouched, and I had definitely carried him out of the room…

"Oscar, there's no point in covering this up! I know you killed Long Bao, but I want to know why?"

"It wasn't me! Tai… he killed that boy! He was going to kill me too!"

Tai's voice reached a roar, "Don't you dare lie to me!"

All fear and apprehension fizzled into thin air, leaving me numb. I realised there was no way of convincing him that I didn't do it. It was my word against Tai's.

Dong's anger faded, replaced by bitter disappointment, "Oscar, I truly wanted to believe that this was an accident. That your technique backfired, and Long Bao stumbled in at the wrong time."

He pushed back his seat, walked behind me, and placed a strong hand on my shoulder, "But you just can't admit the truth. You're a lying brat. I should have known from the testing crystal."

He dragged me out of the chair and marched me down the stairs, "You will face a court-martial tomorrow. I will lock you in an isolation room until then."

Court-martial? Lock me in an isolation room? Nothing was registering. I couldn't come up with a single idea to get out of this situation.

Fabricating some lie would only make things worse. Did I really have to suffer the consequences of something I didn't do?

Before I knew it, we were in the isolation room. The scene that I had pictured so vividly flooded back to me, and I was overcome with emotion. It was here… it was here that it happened.

"Reflect on your actions. I will come to get you tomorrow."

Dong's words fell on deaf ears. I was overwhelmed by the blinding lights, the cold floor, and a terrible pain in my chest.

I couldn't breathe… ad Tai punched me? Was he here? I dashed across the room in a panic and slammed into the wall.

I observed everything. I couldn't let him catch me… the corner! Yes, the corner!

I slid across the wall, my eyes darting to every suspicious flicker of light. How could such a bright room be so dark…

Squelch.

I froze in horror. My head quivered as I craned my neck to see what I had stepped in.

It was a head. It was Long Bao's head, crushed and splattered across the floor.

I screamed and ran past it, diving into the corner and curling up in a ball.


I sat with my head in my knees, rocking back and forth. If I couldn't see it, it couldn't hurt me.

But was it there? Was it still there? Was it watching me?

I noticed I was panting, and I dry swallowed, building up the resolve to look. Finally, with one quick twist, I looked.

Nothing. There was nothing there.

First came the dread. Then the acceptance. I turned and slumped into the corner, throwing my head back in a laugh.

"There's nothing there, Oscar!" I told myself, "It's all in your head! Jeez, you're in a bit of a s.h.i.+t situation now, aren't you?"

Then the lights turned off.

"Oh Schwarz, look what's happened."

My body seized up in fright. That wasn't my voice. That was Tai's voice, distorted and staticky.

"I'm coming for you, Schwarz."

"Where the f.u.c.k are you?!" I screamed, desperately trying to see into the pitch black, but there was no answer.

This was just another hallucination. There was nothing to fear.

"Where are you, Schwarz? Are you here?"

A series of knocks echoed from across the room, but I paid them no attention. It was just an illusion, just my mind playing tricks on me.

Stuck in dreadful silence, listening to my ragged breathing, all I could do was antic.i.p.ate the next sound. Where would it come from? Was it really an illusion?

"What about here."

Two knocks came from right beside me, and I jumped away in shock, scrambling across the floor.

"I'm going to find a way in Schwarz, just you wait."

I shot out my qi tendril and whipped it around the room. Its soft glow barely shed any light, leaving the far end of the room immersed in shadow.

If Tai got in, would I be able to fight him? I just had to believe that I could. I scratched my fingernails along the walls, looking for the door.

When I found it, I crouched down, ready to attack anything that came through. I had to stay on edge, lithe and lethal.

I couldn't tell you how long I spent like that, stuck in fight or flight mode. The human mind was not meant for that kind of pressure, and my sanity simmered away.

The light cast by my flickering qi tendrils became faces, laughing out of sight. At a certain point, I couldn't tell hallucination from reality, and attacked indiscriminately, slas.h.i.+ng everything that appeared.

Hours went by as I sliced and whirled around in a tornado of madness. Every crack from my whip became an echo, then a knock, and I was reminded of my fears.

By the time the door opened, I was all but feral. This one moment had played out thousands of times in my head, and I acted out of pure instinct.

I roared and shot a dense beam of qi from my chest, striking him head-on and consuming his body.

"Aghhh!"

"Stop him!"

"Oscar! Calm down!"

Each one of them spoke with Tai's voice… which one was the real Tai? No matter, I'd consume them all. Tentacles spiralled out of the first Tai's chest and slammed into the other ones, accompanied by a symphony of screams.

From behind me, a voice called out, "That's enough."

Those were the last two words I heard before blacking out.

I awoke to a splitting pain in my neck, wooden slats pa.s.sing underneath me like a rolling barrel. There were voices… but everything was hazy.

The floor stopped moving, and I was thrown onto my knees. I looked up to a row of harsh faces staring down at me. I tried to get up, but my hands and feet were bound, so I just flopped on the floor.

"We are gathered here for the trial of Mr Oscar Schwarz, first-year cadet at the Great Mountain School. He stands accused of murder against his fellow student, Mr Long Bao. Does anyone present wish to stand for the defendant?"

"Yes Sir." Master's familiar voice jolted me out of my trance.

Placing my head on the floor and looking backwards, I saw master step out of the crowd. He was clean-shaven and smartly dressed, in stark contrast to his usual self.

"State your name and rank."

"Yin Xue, Staff Sergeant Technician"

"Noted. Do you gentlemen wish to make a preliminary statement?"

"Yes Sir."

"Then proceed."

"Thank you, Sir. Oscar Schwarz is my mentee, and from what I know of his character, would never harbour murderous intentions. However, due to his cultivation technique, his mental state was altered.

"I believe that this crime was an accident that resulted from collective superior negligence, and as such, Oscar Schwarz is innocent."

An angry murmur spread through the crowd. I was finally attentive, able to process everything. The whole situation nearly overwhelmed me, but I focused through it.

Master was trying to defend me… but his argument wasn't the truth. I didn't expect anything else from him, but that put me in a problematic situation.

I didn't want to lie here, but if I didn't... my life would be ruined. Maybe even master's too! I didn't know what the punishment for murder was, but it couldn't be small.

This was no time to be righteous. I had to lie for my life.


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