My restaurant is located in The Border, a small town at the edge of Thundercock Forest. I’ve lived here all my life. When I was young I worked in the kitchen of my parent’s restaurant and as I grew older it became my restaurant. Many years of tourists and students passing by. We really are just a small town, maybe a thousand permanent residents. But we’ve got ten times that number of people sleeping here every night. And we make a killing on these tourists. The bazaar is always full with rich kids, and a night in one of the hotels costs a small fortune. I sure as hell couldn’t afford it. But despite the many opportunities to make good money, there’s only one restaurant in The Border. Mine. We’re the only one that has survived this long.
It’s these damn cultivators. Mind you, we make all of our money off of them. But they’re miserable sacks of shit (Don’t tell them I said that, please). They come for excursions into Thundercock Forest, which is supposedly the final resting place of the immortal Sietse Thundercock. I know, who comes up with this shit? But these cultivators seem convinced of it. They pray to him before they enter the forest, asking for his guidance and protection. Then they fight demonic creatures or try and locate the immortal’s final resting place. It’s all a load of bull if you ask me. But really, I should be happy. These cultivators make me a rich man, in common folk terms.
But right, these damn cultivators. I remember when I was maybe 8 years old, I had a good friend. Jack. He was a few years older than me, but our parents both owned restaurants (the last two in The Border). So we spent a lot of time running through town and daring each other to get closer to Thundercock Forest. Until one day two of his patrons got mad at each other. That was nothing strange, happens all the time. But these two had brought their uncles. Two old and very strong men. Jack was serving a table. His father was in the kitchen, and his mom was behind the register. They were minding their own business. And then they weren’t of this world anymore. The two old uncles, I couldn’t tell you which one, flattened the restaurant and everyone inside. They just killed everyone. But that’s exactly how they are. Crazy cultivators.
I’ve spent many years in my restaurant. And the stories just kept presenting themselves. Gossip I heard while waiting tables and fights that were fortunately small enough that I still have my restaurant. Now I find myself with a young boy who shows promise. But all the money I’ve made, a fortune for us common people, isn’t enough for a day in school. I want the best for my son, so I’m writing this in the hopes of it taking off. So I can give him all the things my parents couldn’t give me. A chance at a better future than Jack ever had.
Legend of the Thundercock
We have a golden rule. Groups are safe. Individuals are dangerous. Logic would dictate that we turn down individuals. And I would, if I could. But they are cultivators and I’m only a common man. I have no rights. They can kill me and never face any consequences. So we accept that. But we get them tables that are out of view, in nooks that are hidden from the entrance. Just small tricks so people don’t notice these individuals. Sometimes, though, we fail at that. This was one of those times.
A man walked in covered in blood, his clothes in tatters. He stood out, but not enough to turn him away. Honestly, I wouldn’t. Even if he came in naked. Remember, a flick of their wrist and I’m dead. So I approached him and asked if he wanted to make use of our bathroom to get the blood off of his body. He just laughed. I saw his teeth. Two rows behind each other. “No. Show me to your best table,” he said to me. So I did what I always do in such situations. I showed him to our best individual table.
“No. I said that I want your best table,” the bloodstained customer said irritably.
I quickly apologized, and knew right then that this man was trouble. Just that there was nothing I could do about it. I don’t have the money to hire a cultivator, so I can’t protect myself against these people. I took him up two flights of stairs, where our premium tables were. These have a good distance between them, and we can even put makeshift walls between them within minutes.
The bloody customer looked around at the empty floor and smiled that harrowing smile again. Then he turned to me and said, “This’ll do. I’ll take the floor. Here.”
He threw a pouch of something at my feet. I bowed to him and apologized again, then told him a server would be up soon to take his order. Now, I bowed also to grab the pouch of coins. A swift movement was the plan. It failed. Those weren’t coins, the currency used for mortal trade. King Devshard doesn’t allow us to own spiritual stones. Those are reserved for cultivators. But this man had just paid me in spiritual stones. I was sure of it! I hid it on my chest and bowed again to the man. This time truly being thankful. These spiritual stones were a fortune I couldn’t earn in a thousand years!
Back downstairs, I instructed our most beautiful female server to bring the man some drinks. And to give him everything he wanted. And then they came in. I should’ve seen it coming. The signs were everywhere. But the pouch of spiritual stones had briefly made me forget about the precautions I should’ve taken. A group of seven people stormed in. An old uncle at the lead. He snapped his fingers and I blacked out.
When I regained consciousness a minute later, I saw blood. It was everywhere. Customers were dead. More than a dozen of them! I looked around and found that my servers were still alive. Like me, they’d lost consciousness and were only now waking up. Other than them, the place was empty. Deserted. I looked at the bodies. They were all dead. “Go. Clean them up. Prepare for when their families come.” That was going to be another headache.
I stepped over the corpses and found my way to the entrance. There were countless people gathered outside, but they were just watching. “Shit.” Something was going on. And it wasn’t downstairs. I turned around and looked up the stairs. There wasn’t any sound coming from up there. But that wasn’t too strange. These cultivators could manipulate air. Killing off all sound was easy for the slightly stronger ones. I wish I knew more about them to say how strong they were, but I don’t. Strong and stronger is as far as my knowledge goes.
I made sure that my servers properly prepared the bodies, and that they didn’t try to steal anything. The older servers knew better. But sometimes a younger one tried. They always died. I’ve got no clue how. But they always do. Through all of this, an uneasy feeling stuck in my stomach. Something was wrong. People were standing outside. I glanced up the stairs, but still couldn’t hear or feel or see anything. “Don’t go upstairs,” the small voice in my head kept telling me. “You know better than that. Look for the damages later. If you go up now, there might not be a later…”
“Curiosity killed the man,” these cultivators always say. I know. I knew! But I just really wanted to take stock of the damage upstairs. So, against better judgement, I slowly made my way to the stairs. There, I looked up. Nothing. I felt in front of me, searching for an invisible barrier. Again, nothing. It looked safe, it felt safe, so it probably was safe. Or so I convinced myself.
I went up the stairs, one step at a time, always feeling in front of me like I was a blind man. And honestly, I was and still am. I can’t see the world as cultivators can. There’s something missing in my vision compared to theirs. So I felt in front of me, looking for the smallest warning that I shouldn’t go any further. But nothing came. I made it all the way up to the first floor, unharmer. “I’m alive?” I remember mumbling to myself in utter and complete surprise.
The second floor was a little different to the first. There were no bodies here. But the windows were shattered. It was clear that everyone had heard the disturbance on the ground floor and had bolted out of the window. You didn’t grow old as a cultivator if you didn’t know how to look for the signs. Honestly, the same holds true for normal people like me. And really, I should’ve turned back there. Only I didn’t. I couldn’t get myself to stop. I knew that it was probably going to kill me, but I just had to know. I had to see what was going on. So I walked towards the stairs leading up to the third floor, with my hand ever out in front of me.
One step… Two… I hadn’t realized it until then, but I was sweating. My shirt was soaked and several drops fell into my eyes. It burned and I wiped it away with my sleeve, which was equally wet and didn’t help one bit. Still, I kept going. There was one more floor I had to check. I just had to know what was going on there. And I knew something was going on there. There had to be. Why else were there still more people gathering outside my restaurant? I turned my head away from the window and looked up again, feeling for that invisible barrier that had to be somewhere. That was the only reason I could think of as to why I didn’t hear any sounds coming from up there.
There were a few more steps until the doorway entry into the third floor. I felt and searched and… My hand passed through the barrier. It happened so suddenly that I jumped back in shock and fell back down the stairs. Scarier than anything though, and this is something I’ll never forget, was that voice. “–ve eyes but can’t see Mt. Thundercock!” You have eyes but can’t see Mt. Thundercock. The biggest, thickest, highest mountain. And only the intense fires burning at the core of our world could raise it up towards the sun. No one jokes about Mt. Thundercock.
My head stung as I fell to the ground and there was that sweet bitter taste of blood on my tongue. But I was fine otherwise. I still had all 10 of my fingers and I could get back up. That was more than many people could say after entering a sound barrier. I looked up the stairs, rubbing my head painfully, and waited. “They’re coming to get me. They’re going to ask what I heard… And they’ll kill me even though I don’t know anything. I’m not a cultivator…”
That is the feeble life of a normal person. Hear the wrong conversation and end up dead. I gritted my teeth and cursed at myself for not being more careful. If I’d only touched the barrier and then backed away, I’d been safe. Now I wasn’t. Suddenly there was a good guy and a bad guy. Whoever put up the barrier was the bad guy. They were going to kill me. I had to help the good guy. That intense urge rose up in me, though I knew very well there wasn’t a single thing I could do.
I pushed myself back to my feet and crawled up the stairs again. At the top of the third floor, I stopped just before the barrier. It was on the final step. The door was creaked and I could see inside. The bloody customer looked even bloodier, deep bags under his swollen eyes and a large bulge below his stomach. He grimaced, his hand down his pants moving frantically back and forth. Then he shouted, “I earned his inheritance! I made it to the end and solved the puzzles! It has already merged with my soul! I can’t give it to you even if I wanted to!”
“He’s lying, uncle!” a young man in a white suit shouted. “I solved the puzzles! He stole the reward from me! I did all the hard work! It should be mine!”
“Shut up, idiot!” the uncle rebuked. “Our clan spent thousands of years tracking this inheritance down! Then we nurtured you for it! Do you know how many resources we pumped into you? And when you finally get to pay us back, you fuck up to this little piece of shit? You ungrateful bastard!” He slapped the man in his face, lifting him up his feet and knocking him against the wall. Though that was the end of it. He didn’t knock him through the wall, which would’ve been easy for him.
“Young master! Young master!” the five other people in the room screamed, running over to care for the young man in white.
The uncle turned back to look at the bloody man and said, “Look. It’s simple. Surrender yourself. We’ve got a method to extract the inheritance. You won’t have to die. We’ll even let you live a cozy life. All the women you want. Just bang them all day everyday. That’s what you kids want these days, right?”
The bloody man started laughing, revealing his two lines of razor sharp teeth. “You think I don’t know about your method? Your nephew over there told me all about it! He kept going on about how he never had to cultivate another day in his life, because he wouldn’t be able to! You were going to ruin his cultivation and then give him everything his little heart desires. As if! You were planning to just kill him off!”
“No, he wouldn’t! Uncle wouldn’t do that to me!” the young master in white shouted.
The uncle turned around and glared at his nephew. “You’ve said enough.” Then he snapped his fingers and the young master together with his five lackeys collapsed to the ground, unconscious. The uncle turned back towards the bloody man and said, “The brat is right. I won’t toy with karma. My promises are good. You’ll live a comfortable life! So, what do you say about it?”
“I say, fuck you and your mother and your sister!” the bloody man shouted, laughing wildly. Then he turned to look at the door. “Come on in. You’ll want to see this.”
I was found. They had noticed me. FuckFuckFuck! I wanted to run away, but an invisible force pushed the door open and then wrapped around me. I walked into the room and got a better look at everything. The roof was gone. Most of the walls were gone. The tables were gone! There was no more third floor! My restaurant had a brand new balcony. I grimaced and started wondering if someone else would take over my restaurant, or if this was the end of the last restaurant in The Border.
The bloody man laughed. He pointed at the bulge in his pants and asked, “You see this?” I nodded and then he continued, “I inherited the Thundercock cultivation manual, as well as an attack scripture. I’ve only learned up to the first large gate, but its power is immense. An immortal made it, after all. What the uncle over there doesn’t know, is that I’ve had a good reason to be jerking off. It’s just that he’s too ugly.” He sighed, then started laughing. “But then he started promising me those girls. Man, that aroused the heck out of me!” He suddenly let his pants drop and came, a deep white substance shooting at the uncle.
The uncle’s eyes went wide. He stared down at his chest, where he’d been hit. “YOU DISGUSTING PIG—” He clutched at his chest with both hands. Then he tore his shirt off and looked at the sperm chewing away at his skin. He started convulsing. “I-impossible! H-how…” He collapsed to his knees and tried to support himself on his arms. But the army of white ate their way straight into his chest cavity. Then he fell face first on the ground.
“HAHA! Taste the power of my COCKATTACK!” the bloody man laughed maniacally. “The Immortal himself taught me this technique! Nothing can beat his army of semen! MY army of semen! HAHAHA!”
I stared in horror as the bloody man killed the five lackeys with a powerful jet of white horror. Then I watched him grab the young master by his collar. He dragged the young master through the dirt, staining the white suit, and then found a long piece of bread. The signature dish of the region. Thundercock bread. “In his honour,” the bloody man said. Then he started slapping the young master.
I sat there, transfixed. The young master’s face turned red. Soon after, blood was drawn. Hit after hit, little by little, the skin was slapped off the young master’s face. Then the nerves, the flesh, the muscle, and the bones. The bloody man didn’t stop slapping for hours, until there was no more head left to slap. Then he grinned at me, threw another coin pouch at me for the damages, and jumped off the building.
I’m still not sure how I survived that day. But it was definitely my closest brush with death. I thought for sure they were going to kill me. If it wasn’t the uncle, then the bloody man. And when it wasn’t the bloody man, then for sure the uncle’s family when they found out what happened. But the family came, and they didn’t find out what I knew. We were normal people. They didn’t even consider the possibility for one of us to go upstairs. So we weren’t interrogated.
I’ve wanted to share this story forever. The legend of the Thundercock is real! But I was afraid the uncle’s family would hunt me down. That worry is gone. Word recently came that the Thundercock’s reincarnation annihilated the uncle’s entire clan. Everyone was killed, the young, the old, and the invalid. Then every last bit of their heritage was burned to the ground.
As for the spiritual stones, I lost them. I buried them somewhere underground and I forgot where. I’ve dug up almost every inch of my land and I haven’t found it. I don’t know how I could forget. I just hope that this story can get me a few more spiritual stones, so that my son can go to school.