Ambition of an Immortal (Chapter 14 is up!!)

edited January 7 in Original Stories
Hello guys, I've read a lot of xianxias and have been immersed in them for 1.5 years. After reading many xianxias I had countless ideas of people and abilities. So I have decided to write one of my own. I love the idea of cultivation as I'm sure everyone on this site does. So I have decided to focus my story on an area that I think most xianxias don't focus on that much, Mental Cultivation.

This is my first novel and so I appreciate any and all feedback you guys can give me. Grammar, formatting etc I need feedback on all the aspects and hope that you will comment any errors you see.

Comment 

Thank you for reading.

Synopsis: 


Countless years ago the first cultivators appeared in the Enlightened Realm.
Countless years later and the Heavenly Laws themselves have left to a higher realm leaving behind only echoes of themselves. Without the original Heavenly Laws in place cultivation has become both easier and harder.
Only the Chosen may cultivate.
It is in this realm that we follow the tale of a sickly young man filled with emptiness. Driven only by a deep ambition, chasing a dream of eternity.


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  • edited July 2017
    Prologue:


    In the land far above the seventh heaven of the Enlightened Realm was a vast sealing formation made of stars. This sealing formation exuded an air of pure ancientness, as if it had been in existence since the beginning of time itself. For all its ancientness however, even it couldn't escape times slow withering and so had started to deteriorate.

    In the middle of this sealing formation was an anomaly. This anomaly was a  lack of existence . The very concept of Nothingness. Anything that came in contact with it was simply gone, as if  never having existed in the first place.

    At the epicenter of the Nothingness a very visible change was occurring. A shape was slowly extending out of the nothingness, first distorting and then erasing the space surrounding it. It was a glowing and vibrant ephemeral hand which reached out and tapped the brightest star in the formation. A single sharp cracking sound rang out and then the formation simply disappeared, vanishing with no trace of it having ever existed. Immediately after the destruction of the formation a vortex formed and a massive amount of energy began rushing towards the center of the anomaly  and began to coalesce into a vaguely humanoid shape. Time seemed to slow as the energy rushed faster and faster into the vessel until suddenly everything stopped.

    A female figure slowly floated upward out of the vortex. The figure was nude but seemed unaware of this fact as she slowly opened her eyes. She had the most average of facial features and body types, as if depicting the most ready example of a mortal woman. Her name was Hua Jin.

     However one thing proved without a doubt that this was no mortal; her eyes. Eyes no mortal or god could possess. Her eyes were a void that contained nothing , but caused the surrounding space to tremble. Reaching out a hand she casually grabbed the surrounding space and with contemptuous ease turned the space into a hooded cloak which she proceeded to smoothly wear. Her nudity no longer an issue she then reached into space and drew out several obscure symbols that floated in the air. The symbols joined together and formed a portal which she then reached into, withdrawing a necklace. This necklace was her spatial artifact that contained all her belongings. Due to its important contents she had hid it under several highly powerful formations.

    Having both her clothes and her belongings back she looked around as if in search of something. "Where are the others?" she wondered. She looked below and her eyes widened as she scanned all of the lower heavens. "GONE, every single one them" she said not quite believing it. Suddenly something seemed to occur to her and her mood lightened. "They matter not, but my sister… She must be in a separate dimension even more heavily restrained then myself, after all she is the strongest of us all," she consoled herself. To her utter dismay no  matter how she looked even her all - seeing eyes could see no sign of her sister. Suddenly she looked up and even with her immense mental fortitude she was shocked.

    So in the end my sister was the only one I trusted unconditionally and she betrayed me , truly the higher some ascend the more they change she thought as she looked into the Celestial Realm. Her Sister had increased her power vastly and had started to make her own Dao after mastering the Heavenly Law of Chaos. However even with her vast increase in power she still could never match me in insight nor in usage of Divine Perception, she thought feeling smug yet infinitely more bitter as she observed her sister enjoying herself in the Celestial Realm. Why? Why betray me sister? After engaging in cultivation for millennia, have family ties become nothing to you she wondered. Calming herself, she entered meditation and enetred into a state of contemplation.After 3 days she finally opened her eyes.

    After mentally steeling herself she once more looked at the Celestial Realm only to be completely shocked ,delighted but also dismayed. "Indeed my eyesight and intuition were right, only my disciple Wei Yi was loyal in the end." She said somberly. They would definitely remove any and all future troubles erasing him in body and in soul , preventing any chance at reincarnation  she thought angrily. Suddenly she remembered the promise she had made her student when she had accepted him as her disciple after countless tests.

    "As long as you are loyal and diligent I will always be your pillar and support you, no matter what happens in this lifetime or who is against you I will always protect you," she had promised. His answer had shocked her, he had smiled and said " I will be your loyal disciple in this lifetime and any others I have until I am no more, and if I ever become strong enough then I will protect you no matter what." Upon recalling this scene tears flowed down her cheeks incessantly and she couldn't stop crying no matter how hard she tried. She remembered countless memories of her disciple who had followed her loyally for two millennia.

    He was shameless and lazy  but also cunning, insightful and loyal. He had no family and treated her as his kin, and in the end due to her blind trust in her sister she had implicated him and caused his death in both body and soul.

     As she dwelled upon her disciple her tears continued flowing and her regret ran deep, but there was nothing she could do.

    As she wept for the loss of her precious disciple she automatically started meditating so as to calm her mental and emotional state, when she remembered her disciples main discipline mental energy cultivation.

     Her disciple Wei Yi had practiced the Eternal Mind technique for three hundred years and had reached the 2nd level raising his mental energy to a profound level. The Eternal Mind technique had nine levels in total and each level was heads and shoulders above the previous one. The only reason Wei Yi had reached the 2nd level after 300 years was because of his unprecedented talent and aptitude for mental energy cultivation.

    The first level of the Eternal Mind technique worked like advanced muscle memory for the mind being able to store information on  things that were easy for high level cultivators to remember and do, but were still more trouble than they were worth. Tedious things such as long incantations, ingredients, heavenly materials and heavenly beast classifications were all readily available with no extra effort needed to recall them. For this reason many high level cultivators cultivated at least the first level of the Eternal Mind technique.

     Hua Jin herself had no interest in the Eternal Mind technique but she knew that among many things that the second level of the technique allowed for the storage of memory, immediate deployment of formation techniques and complete retention of knowledge contained in Heavenly inheritances.

     As she thought about her disciple she absentmindedly reached into her spatial necklace and withdrew her disciples memory stone. He had entrusted it to her long ago. She readily observed it for a while and just as she was about to put it back she saw it flickering with a weak light.

    After making sure it was really reacting she immediately looked to the only place his soul could be; The Enlightened Realm she scanned it, immediately finding and zeroing in on it. His soul was very weak and was causing his body to also deteriorate.

    "My dear disciple, you have suffered much for your loyalty, you have no memory of me after reincarnating but I will see you again," she promised aloud to them empty void. Only after uttering the promise did she contemplate how she would fulfill it. For someone as powerful as me who can ascend at any time to reach down into the Enlightened Realm and give him this memory stone is very hard.

    Once again she meditated, this time for ten days. During these ten days she had made a final decision on her course of action. She would make sure her disciple ascended to the Celestial Realm and then give him his memory stone. The only problem would be his laziness, usually when people were reincarnated their previous memories and mannerisms were completely erased, however sometimes very strong mannerisms could leave an imprint on the soul itself. Without a doubt Wei Yi's greatest quirk was his laziness, very few people that  she had ever met were as lazy as her disciple and this would be his biggest obstacle to ascension.

    Talent, he had loads of it.

    Will power, need not even be mentioned.

    However his bane was his laziness which had kept him from nearing ascension in his previous life. On the off chance he was still lazy she would need to give him a helping hand.

    She removed from her necklace a sliver scythe that seemed to scream ambition and arrogance and slowly drew out its essence. After coalescing in her palm, the silver essence flickered like a flame and then gradually under Hua Jin's manipulation it transformed into a coin.

    She thoroughly inspected it once and smiled in satisfaction.

    It was perfect.

    Knowing her disciples luck he would acquire this coin as long as it was in his vicinity, so, looking down at the Enlightened Realm she flicked her hand sending the coin hurtling towards the vast landmass below.

    Now for me to plan my ascension and revenge .

    With one last look down at her disciples whereabouts she wished him luck and stepped through a portal that at some time had appeared right below her and disappeared leaving the space above the seventh heaven to return to tranquility.

    Little did she know the pandemonium caused by her casually created coin in the Enlightened Realm.





  • edited June 2017
    Enjoy.

    Chapter 1: The Old Con Artist

    This world was one with many wonders and marvels.

    It was also a world where only a minority of the beings who lived there were able to experience many of these incredible marvels.

    Cultivators. Regardless of race or gender only cultivators could see the wonders the Enlightened Realm contained, experience them and use them on their  path to immortality. Many years ago anyone could cultivate, how far they could go and how strong they could get depended on many faactors but the most important were two things; Talent and Luck.

    With great talent a person's cultivation would be smooth encountering little to no obstructions in the beginning stages of cultivation, and even in the later stages of cultivations they would encounter fewer problems than average people. Luck was arguably even more important. In the Enlightened Realm countless heavenly items existed, with great luck even a person with the most average of talents could become a dragon among men by acquiring a heavenly item. However with a lack of luck, or even worse, bad luck a person's end was sure to come very quick and be very grisly.

    However all this changed when the Heavenly Laws ascended.  The majority of cultivators found it improbable that the Heavenly Laws could ascend to the Celestial Realm perhaps because they were supposed to only be the embodiments of the forces of the world. In no way or form should they be able to gain sentience, never mind the possibility of ascension.

    And yet they had.

    Inexplicably every single Heavenly Law with no exception ascended leaving behind only echoes.

    Finally after ten thousand years the new methods of cultivation have completely been put into place and four  immortals have ascended to the Celestial Realm.

    The biggest and most notable change since the "Golden Era" as it is now known is that only a minuscule percentage of mortals have the chance to cultivate and walk the path of immortality. For unknown reasons after the Golden Era only those chosen by the heavens could cultivate. The reasons and qualifications to be a cultivator are  unclear, but every 10 years the great immortal sects and cults all go to every corners of the 6 mortal continents to conduct awakening ceremonies and recruit the chosen mortals.

    This is all verified information from powerful cultivators.

    Wei calmly closed the book. I must maintain my calm, I must maintain my calm.

    Calm.

    With his frail and sick body he couldn't get agitated easily or else he would only worsen his already poor condition.  What else was I expecting? I mean sure its touted as the premier institution of knowledge  in the city of Chen, but everyone who has at least a modicum of intelligence could tell that it was heavily filtered. Al l the knowledge therein had been made available only after vigorous checking by the enforcers of the royal family.

    The royal family of Chen were the rulers of all the land surrounding the city of Chen for four  thousand miles in all directions. They prized their prosperity and reputation above all else, anything that portrayed their rule in a negative light was immediately dealt with. Obviously this included the Chen Archive.

    No matter what means they had to  use to accomplish this, they were willing. A few of the city's poorest whispered in fear and slight disdain to any who would listen that the royal family of Chens motto was: 'controlling the image preserves prosperity.'

    As soon as the royal family heard about this they knew that killing these poor wretches  would show tyranny and that  sparing them would show weakness. So instead of execution they framed them for theft and threw them in prison to rot.

    Problem solved.

    "I really over estimated the Chen Archive this time, not only do they not let any history books with negative facts about them exist they even remove all the juicy obscure knowledge too," he spoke to himself. Bracing himself on his walking stick he stood up. After straightening his robes and stretching he walked out of the archive suppressing the pain felt with every  step.

    I need to find reliable information about how to cure my illness. At first it seemed I would have a lot of time but now I may have only a couple of years.

    Wei was originally a very unmotivated person. Putting it politely he was lazy, putting it rudely he was wasting his life. However this was fine with him, he had no interest in putting in any effort in anything and spent his days sleeping in the orphanage.

    Sleeping was his favorite activity.

    All the other kids knew that by sixteen they would be kicked out of the orphanage and would need to provide for themselves ,so they made connections or learned a craft so they could have a decent life after leaving the orphanage.  Wei on the other hand displayed no plans for the future , he passed his days and nights leisurely sleeping and when he could  sleep no longer he would read and the cycle would repeat as it had for the past fourteen years.

    Until one day while walking back to the orphanage from the local bookstore he coughed out a mouthful of blood and collapsed in the middle of a narrow street hitting his head hard on the ground. Nobody even gave him a passing glance avoiding him like they would a dying dog. The orphanage was very poor and was located in a very bad neighborhood ( which was the only property cheap enough for them to afford). And so he lay there barely alive in a pool of his own blood.

    Ten minutes later Wei was found by  the caretaker of the orphanage who quickly took him to the local doctor.  Good news and bad news came hand in hand from the doctor.

    Good news, he had sustained no additional damage from the collapse.

    Bad news, his originally only frail and sickly body was now actually degrading ,in other words he was dying and the doctor couldn't tell him why.

    That was the moment he had decided to take stop being lazy and do something, this concerned his life after all. From that moment Wei researched every day in all manner of ways for a possible cure to his illness.  There was no cure, at least that he could find.

    As he walked down the street adjacent to the Archive  he looked around at the bustling crowds of people and the huge buildings in the city and reaffirmed his decision to find a cure.

    In this huge city with all these millions of people I don't believe there's not one thing or person out there that can help me cure my illness.

    "I WILL FIND A CURE," he shouted as hard as he could in the middle of the bustling street. In this one moment as he yelled he truly felt that he could do it, and easily too. In fact he felt so sure that he started to yell once more "I WILL FI - ," he stopped at once feeling a cough coming and trying to suppress it, but to no avail. He started coughing.. hard, so hard he almost fell down, his feeble body failing him. Luckily he had his walking stick and quickly steadied himself with it. Two minutes later he was feeling much better, only then did he remember that he was in the middle of a crowded street.

    No matter what he did in this area no one would bat an eye as long as it didn't personally concern them. So with a final glance at his surroundings he headed  towards the orphanage whistling a tune to the beat set by his walking stick.

    After walking for half an hour he finally reached the entrance of the orphanage. Wiping the sweat from his brow he entered the dilapidated compound that was his home.  The orphanage was rundown and very old having been a temple many years ago, the only good thing about it was its size.

    It was huge enough to contain all the children who lived there and the several adults who helped care for them. As he walked through the orphanage the majority of the adults and children ignored him. In the beginning they had tried to interact with him but after seeing his disinterest in them they had taken to pretending he didn't exist.

    A couple of kids ran past him paying him no mind and he continued walking past towards the small house that the caretaker Madam Song owned.

    Resting his weight on the walking stick Wei rapidly knocked on the door.

    "Madam Song, it's me Wei, Open up!" he said.

    Moments later soft footsteps could be heard coming from inside the house and Madam Song appeared at the door. "Wei, hurry up and come in I have a lot to talk to you about," she said smiling while holding the door open for him.

    As soon as he saw Madam Song's smiling face he knew she was happy that he had started going to the archive more often. Madam Song was a middle aged woman who was kind to all and had left her rich family to start an orphanage. The story was famous in this poor part of the city and even in the slums. In the past many had said that she was just a rich lady who had run away from home and who would be gone in a couple of days. But she had proven them wrong using all of her savings to buy the old temple and turning it into an orphanage.

    In doing so she had earned herself a very good reputation and even the gangs in the area charged her less protection fees then was usual.

     She was the only person Wei really liked.

    She had saved his life when he was a baby, named him and raised him and for that he was eternally grateful.

    Once, many years ago he had asked her why all the other orphans had a last name and he didn't.

    "I named you Wei for a reason, one day you will be great enough to choose your own last name," she had replied

    "So how was your visit to the archives today? Did you find anything useful?" She asked him as he sat down in a nearby chair.

    "No, I looked  through almost all the books regarding illnesses and there are none on record, I even looked into a book on cultivators but it was useless," he replied disappointedly.

    " Cheer up, with you now focusing on it I believe you will find a solution soon," Madam Song said warmly. Wei could hear the same certainty he heard in his own voice and knew that she sincerely believed in him.

    "Wait hear in the living room while I make some tea," she said getting up and heading to the kitchen.

    "Okay I'll wait," he replied looking around the room absentmindedly fidgeting with his walking stick. As he looked around the living room he noticed a beautiful painting of a mountain and a river hanging right next to one of the shelves in the room. It seemed to embody the very same feeling evoked when looking at a majestic mountain or a raging river. On the bottom left corner of the painting written in small script was the word SONG.

    It hadn't been there when he had visited two days ago of that he was sure.

    "I didn't know Madam Song could paint such exquisite paintings, with paintings like this one why would she boast about her knitting skills when we brag," he whispered to himself. Such a funny lady she is and also very multi- talented too apparently .I really need to get out of the habit of gossiping I've started enjoying it way too much. I knew she was trying to distract me from my illness but I am seriously going to become a big gossiper at this rate.

    As he thought fondly on his induction into smack talking people with his favorite person Wei suddenly felt an extreme chill run down his spine as if he was naked during the winter .

    It felt like he had been dowsed in cold water.

     Looking around wildly he hefted his stick up as if to attack someone, but the feeling quickly subsided . Still he swept the room with his sharp gaze his grey eyes seeming to see through everything in the tiny room .However after a thorough inspection he confirmed that there was nothing in the living room except for him. 

    He still didn't relax though, clutching his walking stick in one hand while the other strayed to his side where he kept his knife under his long white robes.  As soon as he felt the scabbard of his knife he grabbed it and started drawing it. Knife in hand he calmed down.

    He outwardly relaxed but inwardly he was still very wary.

    Wei had one thing he was most proud of and that was his intuition. Wei resumed looking around the room  but this time he casually

    Someone is watching me, but who? And why? I've never done anything worth taking note of. I don't think it's me

     If it isn't me, its most likely Madam Song either way  I have to be vigilant.

    Looking out the window it seemed to be getting late. What's taking her so long, could something  have happened  already .If she hasn't returned in two minutes I'll go to check.

    *Clang*

    Hearing a ruckus in the kitchen along with Madam Song's humming finally set him at ease.

    "If they had already captured Madam Song and were trying to mask their business they wouldn't let me hear anything," he whispered to himself relaxing his hold on his knife . His only method of self defense was knife throwing and he made sure he was very proficient at it. Wei slowly held the tip his knife in preparation

    He was very weak in body however this was offset by his great intelligence. But in the Enlightened Realm intelligence without power was almost useless,  especially in the mortal continents.

    Might was right and everyone knew this from the mightiest king to the lowliest commoner.

    The one thing that separated him from countless smart people was his intuition. Wei's intuition was as sharp as a blade,  able to distinguish between truth and lies and extremely sensitive to danger.

    It was very accurate.

    And it was telling him that the watcher in the shadow had just turned very, very hostile.

    In some of the situations he had been in, no amount of intelligence could have saved his life but due to his intuition he had survived in this horrible area of Chen City. Without his intuition, considering how slow he was in running due to his illness he definitely would gotten very injured or killed. All poor parts of Chen  were referred to collectively as 'The Slums'. In the slums the first solution to any confrontation was running, the second was begging and the last was fighting.

    Majority of the gang members of the Slums were very proficient in street fighting and if they confronted you the best method to survival was following the run, beg and fight rule. Wei himself had succeeded in always keeping out of trouble and so he was on very good term with the closest gang to the orphanage, The Vicious  Dragon gang. A seemingly arrogant name for a small  gang they had proven themselves deserving of their name many times. The most famous was when a passing martial artist refused to pay their  tithe after  taking large amounts of goods through their territory without paying.

    They had restrained him, taken his belongings and cut off both his hands before letting him go to spread the word. Seeing the originally powerful martial artist lain low had proven the lengths they were willing to go to and had spread their fame to all.

    Wei had met the leader of the Vicious Dragon gang who was very fittingly and somewhat redundantly called Vicious Dragon. Until today he had never forgotten the hostile nature that told him that this man  had killed before and would kill him if given the slightest reason.

    Later he had found out that it was called Killing Intent.

    The willingness and desire to kill so deep it could manifest as a physical sensation. Some killers had such deep killing intent that the very air around them seemed to become colder.

    His intuition was telling him that the watcher was going to kill him if he didn't move.

    "If I'm going to die at least it won't be to this fucking disease," he muttered . I may as well see my killer.

    Looking towards the small cupboard across the room he steeled himself. "Come out," he coldly said.

    The door to the cupboard slowly swung open with an annoying squeaking sound. Wei fingered the tip of his knife, knowing such a person would not be defeated by his meager skills but still unwilling to die without doing anything.

    A sharp cackling echoed out from the cupboard. Then came a voice speaking in a hushed tone.

    "You're not bad kiddo, you're sick as an old dog but I'll take you on as my helper. "

    Wei was inwardly shocked but concealed his surprise, as an old lady in a black cloak stepped right up to him looking him up and down like he was an interesting animal she had never seen before.

    I should try my best not to aggravate this old lady .

     

    "What do you want?" He asked the old lady politely.

    "You're going to my helper, well, what are you waiting for?" she said plainly.

    "Let's go!"

    "And put that knife away, it will take more than that to deal with me" she said dismissively.

     Wei carefully considered what to do.

    One young man and one old lady looked at another, one in consideration and one in slight interest.

    "Who are you?" he asked  her.

    From her answer I'll know whether she's truthful or a liar.

    "I'm a seer," she replied easily.

    A seer what the fuck is a seer, well she was telling the truth at least.

    "What do you do ?" he asked her wanting to test her again.

    "I con people," she replied with a tinge of pride visible in her eye.

    What, an old lady that’s  a con artist. Only in the slums he thought in amusement.

    "I'm here because Song told me you’re a lazy little boy whose sick and has no interest in anything, Originally I didn't give a shit but now I need a helper and so here we are," she gestured between them.

    Just as Wei was about to reply Madam Song entered with the tea, only to find Wei and the old lady engaged in a stare down.

    "Wei, Lady Seer please sit down and drink some tea then we can discuss the future," she spoke gesturing to the small table in the middle of the room.

    "All right but we better make this quick I've got money to make," said Lady seer gleefully while already sipping her tea.

    "Okay," Wei  agreed grabbing a cup and taking a seat.

    He looked at the both of them and said" Well, I'm listening talk."

     

  • edited June 2017
    Any feedback is welcome.
    Enjoy!

    Chapter 2: A Change In Lifestyle

     

    The atmosphere in the small living room had become extremely awkward. Wei slowly sipped his tea observing both Lady Seer and Madam Song for any sign of what the coming conversation would entail. Madam Song was obviously in very deep thought, she was having a very difficult time finding a way to start the conversation.

    The awkward atmosphere continued.

    The only sound in the room was the sipping of tea. Wei tried to maintain his patience but after ten minutes he decided to break the silence. “So, Madam Song what did Lady Seer mean about me being her helper?” he inquired politely. Before Madam Song had a chance to reply a loud clanking sound rang out drawing attention to its source- Lady Seer. Satisfied that she had gotten their attention she spoke.

     “I know that you see most of these orphans as your own responsibility Song, and they are, but you’ve done your part for this one and he hasn’t done anything to repay you. If you keep on coddling him, the minute he steps out of this orphanage he’s dead,” she stated it like it was an obvious conclusion. “The City of Chen is a wonderful place, if you know how to live in it, and he doesn’t know how,” she said pointing a bony finger at Wei. “That’s why lucky for him I’m in need of a helper and when I asked you who among your kids was suitable, you said it was him does your answer still stand?” she asked looking towards Madam Song.

    The entire time Lady Seer was talking Wei hadn’t looked at her even once, instead his vision was fixed on Madam Song. And it was due to that that he saw the many conflicting emotions on her face. Wei didn’t like the indecision on Madam Songs face, she was usually so sure of everything that seeing her look hesitant made him feel uncomfortable.

    It’s because of my sickness that Madam Song has always been very careful not to say anything that could negatively affect me. But she definitely has her reasons for telling this old hag that I would be her helper so I’ll make it easier for her.

    Gathering his thoughts Wei spoke. “Madam Song you are the closest person to me, I see you as my family and trust that you have your reasons for deciding this, I’m completely willing to become Lady Seer’s helper.” Seeing the sincerity in Wei’s words caused Madam Song to smile. “Wei there a few things that I wanted to tell you but never found the right time, now that you’ve accepted Lady Seer’s offer I will share with you your ­

    “Now wait a second Song,” Lady Seer interrupted. “He’s agreed to be my helper but” her voice went cold “we can’t be sure if he’s serious or messing around. To be my helper he’ll have to live with me, if by the time he’s sixteen he has proven himself up to my standards then you can tell him about his past. If he hasn’t then he wouldn’t be able to do anything with the information anyway.” She said to Madam Song.

    Wei was very curious about his past but from the look on Madam Song’s face he could tell he wasn’t going to learn anything today. Madam Song seemed to have great respect and a near reverence for the old Lady Seer and he knew challenging her statement now would only weaken his position.

    So, Wei went with the flow.

    “I will definitely succeed,” he assured them both.

    Madam Song smiled at that but Lady Seer only scoffed seemingly in amusement.

    “We’ll see whether you can still say that after your first month with me brat.”

    Seemingly satisfied with the conversation Lady Seer stood up and walked towards the back door of the house her black cloak swishing dramatically. Just as she was about to exit she looked back at Wei “say your goodbyes, pack up, and meet me outside. You have five minutes,” having said her piece she exited the house leaving the living room and the two people within to say their farewells.

    Madam Song and Wei looked at each other both not knowing what to say. The silence stretched, but unlike before it was a silence full of meaning.

    A comfortable silence.

    Wei looked around to focus himself. Whenever he was thinking of something complex and trying to figure it out he would look around, letting his gaze wander and focusing harder within. But this time he   failed to think of a significant goodbye.

    How could he say something that would encompass all of the feelings he felt for Madam Song, all of the gratitude and love and fondness he felt.

    She was his surrogate mother.

    How could he say goodbye?

    His words failed him and so he said nothing. Madam Song looked at Wei and saw his internal struggles.

    He was her favorite.

    So, like countless times when he was feeling bad because of his sickness she consoled him. “Wei, you don’t have to say goodbye. Lady Seer’s words have that effect on people, her words make everything seem set in stone. But this time it isn’t so. You can visit me every Saturday just to chat and maybe we can even gossip. What do you say?” She asked him with a smile.

    With a start Wei realized she was completely right. Why wouldn’t he be able to see Madam Song?

    What a vindictive old hag making a mountain out of an anthill. I definitely have to be careful when interacting with her. Or else who knows what will happen in these coming months.

    Reassured as he was knowing that he would still be seeing his guardian Wei was just about to agree when his eyes were once again seemingly drawn to Madam Songs magnificent painting. “Madam Song we’ve gossiped together for years but you never told me that you were such a skilled painter, why is that? He questioned.

    Because you never gave me any inclination that you had the slightest interest in art, I always thought you had more interest in learning about immortals and so I never mentioned it,” she answered simply. “Why bring it up now?” she asked curiosity burning in her voice. Wei didn’t even have to think before he replied “because I want you to teach me.”

    Madam Song was pleasantly surprised who would have thought that Wei was interested in painting?

    Gazing at Wei and the earnest expression on his face she prepared to accept, when she remembered Wei’s biggest problem. “Wei, I will teach you how to paint seeing the satisfied look on his face she made her voice as strict and serious as possible. “However, if you bring your laziness when dealing with either me or Lady Seer then I will immediately cancel our lessons, Understood.”

    Wei vigorously nodded showing his sincere and complete agreement to Madam Song’s conditions. “Good now go pack your bags and quickly go to meet Lady Seer outside. She isn’t tolerant of people who are late,” she warned him.

    With a quick hug to Madam Song Wei walked out of Madam Songs house and quickly headed towards his room as fast as he could (which wasn’t fast at all). Wei quickly reached his room and entered it surprised to see everything as he left it. He packed all his clothes haphazardly throwing them in with no regard for anything except whether they would fit in his modest satchel. Sadly, being an orphan Wei didn’t have many clothes but in this instance, it was a blessing. Within a few moments he had completely packed all his belongings.

    With a single glance backward Wei glanced at the temple turned orphanage that had been his home for over a decade and wasn’t surprised he felt nothing for it. He wouldn’t ever come back here except once a week to meet with Madam Song, and he was completely okay with that.

    Walking outside of the boundary of the orphanage Wei found Lady Seer sleeping under a tree looking for all the world as if she always slept under trees in shady neighborhoods. In a few steps, he stood right above her looking down at her from above, curiously wondering.

    Who is this old woman Lady Seer? Why does Madam Song respect her?  And what am I going to be helping her with?

    As if hearing his introspection, she turned halfway towards him, sat up and gestured to the ground next to her. “Come, sit, and we can discuss what you’re going to be helping me with,” she said leaning against the tree. “First and foremost for you to help me I am going to formally adopt you. Is that okay with you?” she asked him casually. “No problem,” he replied readily.

    “Good, very impressive Madam Song was not exaggerating your capabilities, both your deduction and intelligence are evident but most impressive is your intuition. With a bit of training you will be my greatest asset. Make no mistake, this isn’t a small thankless job, you will enjoy vast wealth if you do well as my helper. As long as you work hard that it.,” she said confidently. “ I also have a contact that may be able to cure you,” she added nonchalantly.

    “How much confidence do you have in this contact?” he asked casually seemingly unconcerned. However, he could clearly hear the fervent desire in his own voice and he was sure Lady Seer could too. But he didn’t care, he wanted to live, he wanted to be cured.

     He wanted to live as long as possible.

    He knew nothing was guaranteed and so he calmed himself and asked in a much more level tone. “Who is this contact and what will he want in return.”

    Hearing his question Lady Seer’s face instantly turned blank. Not a single thing could be discerned from her expression. A perfect poker face! But for some reason Wei felt that she was oozing malice. As if she was minutes from killing him. 

    What did I do wrong? Should I not have asked that? Damn her face is scary, she looks like she’s thinking about where to get rid of me after she kills me. Holy Shit! This old lady is even more dangerous than I expected. But what’s done is done I have to stand my ground.

    Just as quickly she started grinning. “If you’re going to work for me you’re going to have to learn what questions are acceptable and which questions aren’t, but don’t worry I will teach you all you need to know about working for me,” she assured him smiling still.

    “As you’ve no doubt deduced I am incredibly wealthy and that is why I need to adopt you before you start working for me. In order to rub shoulders with the elites of society you must become my son. I have three other “children” who I’ve also adopted. each of them plays a pivotal role in our business. And now you are going to be part of it. You’ve figured it out, right?” she asked him.

    Wei was having a very tough time adjusting. Not due to not understanding what she was talking about. But due to what it meant, especially form himself.

    “You are nobility,” he stated somewhat disbelievingly.

    “Yup,” she replied confirming his guess and shocking him even more.

    Wait a minute none of this makes sense, there’s no way a noble would know their way around the slums. Even if they did they would never set foot in it. So, either she’s lying or she bought her way into becoming a noble.

    “Did you bribe your way into becoming a noble?” He asked her bluntly.

    “Yes, excellent deduction Wei, I can tell your very quick-witted that will be a tremendous help to you in our business,” she happily told him.

    “If you have enough money and favors stocked up you can get almost anything. More money, influence, fame, glory, nobility. You name it and with enough gold and the right people anything can be accomplished.” She lectured as if imparting a life lesson.

    “Remember that Wei.”

    “Okay,” he replied taking it to heart “I will.”

    “Good now as I said I’m a con artist and what I pretend to do, is see glimpses of the future. This is why I’m called Lady Seer. Now now I can see the skepticism on your face but believe me it works. I have been working on my reputation for years and have succeeded many times in conning all types of people. Just like in any con the crux is information. And that is where you come in,“ she informed him.

    “Me, what can I do? I have no experience in information gathering I can’t be your spy, sorry,” He told her.

    “Information gathering, spy, What the hell are you talking about?” she asked him incredulously.

    “But isn’t that what you “What are you talking about? she interrupted him rudely. “I want you to observe my clients, study them and use your intuition to tell me information and hunches you get on them so that I can give them their most believable future. Understand? she asked him.

    “With your sharp intuition, I can improve my craft in the short term and finally retire to a distant land in the future. You will benefit from my years of hard work in only a little under two years. A good deal, right?”

    Wei contemplated her offer and saw that she was sincere and so he accepted without further enticement. “I will work hard Lady Seer both for your dream and for mine, however remember your promise. what’s most important to me isn’t the wealth but the chance for a cure,” he stated firmly.

    “No problem kiddo, If I find you skilled enough that I think you can escape a meeting with him intact. On your 16th birthday I will schedule a meeting with him for you. I’ve never a broken a promise,” she boasted loudly, pride and a righteous aura emanating from her small frame.

    “I wouldn’t trust a con artist based on her word,” Wei answered with a smile.

    “Good, I would fleece you for all you’ve got if you did,” she replied mirthfully.

    Under a tree in the slums an old lady and young man engaged in lively conversation for hours. As they started to get to know one another Wei became increasingly sure that as long as he honored his part of the agreement Lady Seer would honor hers too. When day started turning to night and the stars started to shine Wei finally looked around and realized that it had gotten really late.

    “Lady Seer we should get out of the slums before something unfortunate happens to us,” he reminded her.

    With a small exaggerated stretch Lady Seer jumped up into a standing position and headed towards the main road prompting Wei to follow behind her. Wei quickly found out that Lady Seer was indeed extremely formidable, she was fast, extremely fast. He struggled to keep up as best as he could but she walked with such a merciless pace that he quickly gave up.

    “Wait up!” he yelled panting like he was about to die from exertion. Lady Seer turned around and sighed “you really are sick, in your years of youth you suffer like an old person about to die. We really are a good match, an old young person and a young old person, how novel,” She laughed uproariously as if having told the funniest joke in existence.

    “What a pair we make,” Wei said in amusement still gasping each breath coming easier as he rested.

    “Well at least you have a sense of humor, come on put your hand on my shoulder, I’ll support you until we reach my carriage,” she said good naturedly.

    “You aren’t actually all that bad old lady,” Wei said, happy to be getting some help. “If it weren’t inappropriate I would definitely ask you to carry me to your carriage,” he told her jokingly.

    I would, if only to hurry this along, only when I walk alongside you do I notice how fucking slow you walk. What is that walking stick for? Show?” she asked him mockingly.

    A few moments later they finally reached the carriage only to find it utterly surrounded by commoners who knew not to get too close to the wealthy persons carriage. But were still gawking at it in awe.

    It was easy to see why considering how ridiculously impressive it looked. It’s very appearance seemed to scream wealth and extravagance.

    A gigantic golden carriage drawn by white horses of a clearly rich lineage. The only word that could be used to describe it was, ostentatious.

    Without giving a glance at the commoners staring at them or the ones surrounding the carriage they quickly walked towards it only to encounter a problem.

    They couldn’t get through!

    What the Hell!!

    Wei quickly realized the problem. With him in his plain robes and Lady Seer in her black clothing everyone assumed they were average commoners and so left them no way to pass. This issue was quickly solved by the driver of the carriage who in one smooth movement opened a path for Wei and Lady Seer to get onto the carriage. The commoners pushed aside by the driver were about to get rowdy when they realized who it was that had pushed them and quickly quieted down.

    “Took you long enough Lin let’s go!” Lady Seer said to the young driver. Before Wei could get a clear look at Lin’s face they were off. Racing through the streets towards the Lady Seer’s manor- which seemed to be located near the center of the city (where only the nobility lived).

    Over the loud din of the street and carriage Lady Seer leaned over to Wei and whispered,

    ” Tonight, you rest, tomorrow you become nobility.”

     

     

     

     


  • edited May 2017
    Any feedback is welcome.
    Comment!
  • Any and all feedback is welcome. This one was a bit difficult to write .
    Thank you and enjoy! Also Comment! :D

    Chapter 3: A Coin That Changes Destiny

     

    What will I do after my illness is cured? Now that a real chance of being cured has arrived I have no idea of the type of future I wish to live!

    How funny.

    Being a noble was nothing like he thought. In the past couple of months as a noble Wei saw the dark truth behind being a noble. The path tread by nobles was a dark and narrow one.

    It was a position filled with the hatred and limitations of second place.

    At first glance Wei thought that nobles had the best positions in life. An extravagant lifestyle, wealth and authority fit for royalty with none of the responsibilities of a ruler. He had envied them thinking them truly blessed, only when he became a noble himself did he realize the sad reality.

    Nobility lived, thrived and died for royalty.

    No wonder some powerful nobles tried to revolt in the past.

    The only thing available to the nobility was the illusion of superiority. They lived their entire lives tip toeing around the royal family trying to please them and preserve their position. One mistake was all it took sometimes and several decades or centuries of noble lineage would be ended by a single word from the king, sometimes because of a whim!

    The proofs of Wei’s change in station were few but significant to a poor orphan; new expensive robes, a large amount of spending money, a sword made of fine steel (which all nobles carried) and finally a small golden medallion that all nobles possessed. The medallion had no markings but it was impossible to use forgery or other methods to replicate these medallions, any and all attempts had always quickly been reported by nearby nobles and the offenders captured. The reasons Wei had learned was because of resonance.

    The medallions resonated with one another when in moderate proximity causing a warmth to emanate from them and since all nobles were required to wear them in visible areas (usually as a necklace) subterfuge was impossible. Wei had quickly learnt the ins and outs of noble life from Lady Seer in a few short days, the entirety of her teachings could be summed up in a few words.

    Don’t anger the royals, don’t make unnecessary enemies and enjoy your life. All three were fairly easy for Wei to do. He only saw the Royal family in court once a week when all of the Kingdoms affairs were discussed, as nobility it was mandatory to attend these weekly meetings. Wei personally would have preferred to do something else with his time – and so would many others but it was obligatory so he reluctantly attended.

    In these meeting only the truly wealthy and influential nobles spoke with the king and his generals. Everyone else simply kept quiet and listened as silent as a grave, to do so was expected and the punishment for the rule breakers were severe.

    So, Wei quickly established his living routine as a noble. In the morning, he would read books at noon he would learn basic swordplay and in the evening, he would train his observation skills and test his intuition. His progress in swordplay was almost negligent but he still persisted. It was much more strenuous than his previous lifestyle but to him that feeling of accomplishing his goals was very satisfying and so he worked hard every day. Wei never stooped regardless of how sick he felt he would still complete his routine because it was the key to his past. To who he was.

    Surprisingly contrary to his original expectations working with Lady Seer to con commoners and the odd noble was very easy and satisfying. The ‘House of Fortune’ was open twice a week and had a great reputation in the Kingdom. Wei’s only job in seeing the future was analyzing the ‘marks’ and giving Lady Seer the information she needed to make their future a convincing one. Truths, lies, guilt and worries Wei saw all of these and told Lady Seer. At first the clients were uncomfortable being stared at by a teenager but after a few weeks it became common for clients to see Wei sitting in a corner staring at them.

    With Wei and Lady Seer working in tandem it was a piece of cake to gain a bigger reputation. Four months after adopting Wei Lady Seers business was booming and it was one of the most talked about topics in the Kingdom. For the first time in his life Wei was busy.

    His only break came on the weekend.

    The weekend was reserved almost solely for his painting. Wei had become enamored with painting and it had become one of his few passions. Only after weeks of copying Madam Songs paintings did he realize that every painter had their own style and that what worked for one person wouldn’t necessarily suit another. Slowly but surely, he started becoming better at painting.

    While his painting was steadily improving his sixth sense his intuition had stagnated. I need another way to be more accurate with this intuition. At this moment, it’s the only thing that I’m confident in. I have to get even better with it. But what kind of activity would help?

    After not finding a solution he consulted Lady Seer. She had looked at him as if he was an idiot and told him that if he wanted to test his intuition gambling was the best and quickest way.

    After thinking on it for a bit Wei decided why not? With his weekly earnings and the savings he really did have more than enough money to gamble with, or so he thought.

    The first time Wei had gambled he lost a lot.

    He had hated it. Regardless of the fact that it kept his observational skills sharp and was a constant test of his intuition he hated it. It seemed to be too similar to his sickness, an issue determined solely by fate and luck which he had no control over. However, he was wrong.

    Gambling was not up to luck or fate. It rested completely in the hands of the gambler. After seeing an old man smiling at him- partly in pity but also in amusement he knew he was missing something and so he took a step back, stopped gambling and really looked. A night of close almost obsessive observation showed the truth. Signals between people, a sleight of hand and rigged dice all instruments used to put the odds in one’s favor. Armed with a new perspective he started gambling smart.

    His success in gambling was gradual but every lesson and trick he learned was instrumental in improving how he looked at things. His original outlook made it difficult for him to even consider cheating because his sheltered upbringing which gave him a type of naivete. After almost a year with Lady Seer, observing and also participating in conning people of their money he had lost whatever naïve ideas he had about people this was further enforced by the few times he had attended court. The deception and ruthless backstabbing that occurred was simply shocking. Wei learned that trust was to be earned after much vetting and not freely given.

     

    Exiting another gambling den with his purse bulging with gold coins, Wei left with a beaming smile on his face. He slowly and leisurely started heading back to the manor. He had barely begun walking when he froze, shit I can’t believe I forgot I have to do painting with Madam Song today. She’s going to be so goddamn mad, I know she’ll think I’m slacking off.

    What do I do? If she thinks I’m slipping back into old habits it will erase the goodwill I’ve been building

    I’ll just cut back on the gambling and apologize, no big deal. But it would certainly help if she sees I’ve made some strides in my painting. But how? How will I get ‘inspiration’?

    The Kingdom of Chen – specifically the City of Chen had a host of beautiful sites and opulent buildings. All worthy of being considered inspirations in their own rights, but for some reason they never quite clicked with him and so Wei was looking for other more obscure sources of inspiration. This matter requires careful consideration, it may impact the future direction of my painting. I should consider it carefully.

    While thinking of his painting Wei wandered around the local area mindlessly eventually arriving in front of a classy restaurant which he entered. The restaurant’s staff were overly courteous upon seeing his medallion and he was given exceptionally well treatment. Feeling thirsty he ordered an expensive fruit drink while he pondered where he could go. “— like anything else sir?” the waiter said. The words from the waiter awakened Wei from his thoughts and he looked up to see a young man of about 20 years of age looking at him. He looked at Wei cautiously while still appearing respectful and polite.

    “What did you say?” Wei asked. The young man respectfully asked whether he would like anything else and when Wei answered in the negative he bowed politely and started to leave.

    ‘Wait a moment, Wei called out. Do you happen to know any place near here where there are obscure or very old sights to see,” he questioned hurriedly? The waiter turned around “there are many ruins in the Kingdom of Chen but they are much too far from the city. The only one I know is the Abyss Pond,” He answered. The Abyss Pond what an ominous name!

    “What is the abyss pond,” Wei asked the waiter. “The abyss pond is a one of the rare phenomenon’s that occur every few centuries in the Enlightened Realm it was originally very visited by cultivators but none of them ever figured out what is inside of it, in fact several powerful cultivators and heavenly items all entered the abyss pond only to die, The only sign that it’s a pond at all is that it has ripples that are constantly rippling” he explained. Wei could clearly hear the fear and disbelief present in the waiter’s voice. Wei was incredibly shocked, to him cultivators were powerful beings who could accomplish anything, it was his most ardent desire to become a cultivator. To mortals like himself the requirements to become a cultivator were unknown, no one knew why a small percentage of mortals could cultivate.

    However, every mortal wished to become a cultivator. Who wouldn’t want the chance to try to become immortal. To wield vast power and be able to fly across the sky. Even the current King would immediately give up his rule to become a cultivator. This was the prestige of cultivators. Standing above all!

    “Where is the Abyss pond located? Is it safe to visit” Wei asked the waiter. This was the first he’d heard of the Abyss pond so he was very intrigued by it, in fact almost anything that had to do with cultivators was of vast interest to him. “It is located near the middle of the Ancient forest and is very easy to find, it’s also very safe unless you actually try to enter it. Countless mortals tried to enter it and all of them died.”

    “How did you come to know about the Abyss Pond?” Wei asked the waiter. He had heard all types of rumors but never one about the Abyss Pond. According to his knowledge about popular legends and lore the Abyss Pond should still be talked about once in a while even today. Maybe it’s not as good a story as I think it is?

    “Oh, the reason for this is that many people didn’t know about it originally and so right now almost no one has knowledge of it. The only reason I know about it is that my great-grandfather told me about it. He is still alive despite being one hundred and fifty years old. Apparently, he was told about it by a cultivator who favored him and gave him a pill. Which is why he’s still alive today,’ the waiter explained.

    After casually conversing a bit longer with the waiter Wei decided he should head to the Ancient forest as soon as possible to see if he could get inspiration from the Abyss Pond and also to see if he could draw it. As he walked toward the exit Wei saw that the waiter was escorting him seeing such ‘special’ treatment caused a smile to appear on Wei’s face. I suppose he deserves it for giving me a good answer for my whimsical questions, usually I would ignore him just to see his face but I’m in a good mood today so I’ll reward him. With a casual glance at the waiter to his left Wei reached into his robe and fetched a gold coin from his purse and tossed it at the waiter.

    Seeing the waiter’s beaming face reminded Wei of the everyday differences between people. A commoner would rarely interact with gold coins their entire life. Almost all of their exchanges of wealth were measured in silvers and coppers. Today must be a joyous for that waiter. Perhaps it would change his life. In the end, it was your position in life that dictated how you lived.

    With a single glance, back at the waiter who was carefully putting away his gold coin Wei tightened his grip on his walking stick and set off towards the Ancient forest.

    After five minutes of walking Wei quickly reconsidered his idea and quickly looked for a method of transportation that would get him to the Ancient forest. After asking around he was directed to a hunter’s caravan that was headed into the forest to hunt. At first, they weren’t sure about taking Wei but after he talked a bit to the leader and flashed his medallion their attitudes quickly changed. It was evident that the leader of the hunters had let them in on his status; the quiet atmosphere attested to that.

    Seeing the slightly tense atmosphere Wei decided to try to ask some questions to set them at ease but only received polite clipped answers in return. Quickly stopping he went back to staring out of the flap of the caravan to observe the forest. The trees were vast, vibrant and lush covering most of the forest in shades of green and brown. The forest was alive with sounds of birds and other wildlife making the forest seem alive with their sounds. However, Wei quickly noticed that the deeper they got, the quieter their surrounding became until the only thing that could be heard was the sound of the horses’ hooves as they thundered across the land.

    A couple of minutes later and the terrain was unsuitable for horses and so majority of the hunters disembarked and headed out on foot while the remainder stayed behind to stay with the horses. In a few moment Wei was left behind alone in a vast forest. Ignoring the silence of the surrounding forest Wei quickly started walking towards the center of the forest. It was evident due to the many paths all heading in the same directions. It seemed that although the Ancient forest had many entrance and many exits all of its paths when followed one way or another lead to the center.

    After walking for several minutes and changing paths several times Wei was becoming increasingly relaxed. The scentless powder he had purchased indeed worked well! Scentless powder not only obscured scent but also had a strong repulsive effect on predators. Hunters saved lots of money to buy it but for Wei it was a mere trifle. After changing paths once more Wei sat down on a tree stump to rest.  This journey is going exceedingly smoothly. I wish something exciting would happen. But seeing as my body’s condition is so feeble I guess I should be happy with the dullness of this ‘adventure’. I really wonder if the abyss pond will be as incredible as the waiter said. Endless ripples, nothing that goes in can come out. How intriguing.

    While Wei was thinking about the Abyss Pond he suddenly felt the ground start rumbling and the entire forest seemed to become both quiet and still.  What the hell is happening.  Just as Wei made to stand up he saw a blinding light shoot down from the heavens toward an area a few of miles in front of him. Holy shit it’s a heavenly item. I can’t believe it. I thought it was just a myth. A heavenly item can be born from heaven, earth or sent down from a higher realm. I thought the book was just spouting some rumors mixed with bits of truth but if it is. I…

    I have to get it. It would change everything. Lady Seers acquaintance, doctors, none of these are for sure. But a heavenly treasure contains massive amounts of power. I’m guaranteed to become a cultivator. Can a cultivator be stopped by a mortals’ illness? Hell no! This is my chance! But I have to hurry everyone saw that light and they will be rushing here. The Kings imperial army … No never mind the king. What about cultivators they can fly, teleport ride on swords who knows which of these is fact or fiction. Regardless their fast!

    I have to hurry.

    Wei ran toward the slowly dimming light as fast as he could, he ignored the pain in his limbs and lungs and continued running. It still wasn’t enough. This was the first time he had ever run this fats and it was honestly pathetic. He had barely covered any ground.

    Faster… Faster… Faster. Wei threw the steel sword at his waist.

    Faster... he dodged a tree and threw his walking stick. Faster, to cure his illness! To change his fate!

    Faster. The entire world became a blur, it wasn’t that he was moving too fast to see his surrounding instead it was his eyes blurring, his chest heaving and his lungs burning.

    FASTER.

    He entered a vast clearing that seemed to be empty of all things. All the vegetation and animals had disappeared without a trace leaving an empty space for a couple dozen feet.

    As he looked across the clearing he saw IT. A lazily revolving silver coin that hovered about two feet of the ground strongly buffeting up dust with huge gust of wind.

    A heavenly treasure, a silver coin. It called to him.

    It was hovering a few feet from him.

    The key to changing his fate. His Destiny.

     

     



  • edited June 2017
    Any and all feedback is welcome.
    Thank You and Enjoy! 

    Chapter 4: The Cultivators Response

     

    At the top of a huge mountain that seemed to pierce through the clouds was a sect. It was called the Supreme Sword Sect. For four hundred years it had been one of the top powers in the Enlightened Realm and was a sect comprised solely of cultivators who cultivated solely In the Heavenly Law of the sword. Over the years it had accumulated countless powerful sword techniques making it a heavenly land for sword cultivators. This Sect that was always busy and thriving today had been thrown into pandemonium. Why? Because of the appearance of a heavenly item.

    On the highest peak of the Supreme Sword Sect was the True Sword Pavilion. In it resided one person and no others were allowed to even go near it except for emergencies. It was the residence of the Sect Master Li Fan. At the moment, the messenger gathered his courage and wiped the sweat from his brow. After composing himself as much as he could he kneeled outside of the entrance and struck the bell once.

    Then he waited.

    Three minutes later the entrance swung open seemingly with no person opening it and he entered the Pavilion looking around in awe. He walked along the defined path and was amazed at the quiet and tranquil atmosphere that permeated the True Sword Pavilion. While studying his surroundings he heard the sound of a shocking roar which reverberated through the air. He immediately tried to protect himself with his True Qi but it was pointless. As he offhandedly noted the blood pouring from his nose he felt a severe sense of vertigo and passed out.

    The messenger woke up to find himself in the exact same location except he was completely recovered and he felt even better than he had in his entire life. Just as he was about to inspect his body with his divine sense he noticed a young man sitting cross legged on the ground next to him. Who the hell Is this young man? What is he doing in the Sect Master’s Pavilion? I should quickly request he— NO way! Is it the Sect Master sitting next to me?

    Quickly Kowtowing he respectfully intoned “Greetings Sect Master.” The young man opened his eyes and looked at the messenger, the corner of his mouth tilting upward in an amused smile.  “And who might you be young one?”  Li Fan asked. The messenger’s eyes lit up upon being asked a question by the Sect Master. He is definitely the Sect Master, I mean he possesses the Supreme Stream Sword and has a very youthful look. It is rumored that the Sect Master is nine hundred years old. I’m seeing it live but I still can’t believe he looks so young. Lifting his head, he respectfully replied “my name is Ji Guang and I am a messenger of the sect. I have come to deliver important news to you Sect Master.” Seeing that the Sect Master was silent he took it as a sign to continue. “In the Kingdom of Chen, a heavenly treasure has descended. The elders have decided to send a group to retrieve it. Although they may be too late they still want to try. However, they lack your approval. May they send the group Sect Master?” Ji Guang asked.

    A few minutes passed and Li Fan had entered a state of deep contemplation. Ji Guang didn’t dare to disturb him and so waited in silence. After half an hour, he opened his eyes and an intangible ripple seemed to spread out with him as an epicenter. After a moment of staring into the far East he sighed. “Let them send only a single inner disciple as a member of the awakening ceremony. As for the heavenly item forget about it. It has nothing to do with the sword, so we don’t need it.” After hearing this Ji Guang felt incomparably shocked but also proud. This is our Sect Master; Supreme Sword Li Fan, almost all the other sects will try to vie for the heavenly treasure but he doesn’t care for it at all. Perhaps the only other people who would care nothing for this heavenly treasure are the powerful sects and cults in the Heavenly Land region.

    As you order Sect Master, I will refer your order to the elders at once. Thank You for granting me a swift audience.” He said gratefully and walked towards the exit. Just as he neared the exit he heard a friendly voice “You can fly within my pavilion young one, don’t worry about etiquette. Your insight into the sword is good enough to allow you to see my sword so If you have any questions regarding the sword come to me and I will give you some pointers.” When he heard these words a huge smiled stretched across Ji Guan’s face I can’t believe how lucky I am, everyone knows the Sect Master takes no disciple but anyone he ‘offers pointers’ to basically becomes an unofficial disciple and is guaranteed to become immensely powerful. Being a messenger for thirty years was worth it.

    After other powerful sects heard about the Supreme Sword Sects plan they adjusted their plans accordingly. Although they hoped to gain the heavenly treasure for themselves they knew that it would be highly unlikely. So, in addition to a group sent to retrieve the treasure a single representative was also sent to join in the awakening ceremony that was going to occur in the mortal continents.  This awakening ceremony was going to be a special one. Due to the news sent from the Isles of Divination organization the awakening ceremony was changed. The Isle of Divination was a mysterious organization that was known for its vast information network.

    It was rumored that the Isles of Divinations members cultivated a technique of future sight that if perfected could give one a small chance of gaining insight into the Heavenly Law of Destiny. The Heavenly Law of Destiny directly impacted Fate and was therefore one of the most obscure heavenly Laws. Therefore, almost all of the predictions they made while vague, were often very accurate.

    This time the Isles of Divination had reported that this batch of mortals had exceedingly high potential and so the awakening ceremony this time was to be followed by a legendary Blood Trials which would ensure that the top sects would receive the cream of the crop of new cultivators.

    At this very moment, the House of Survival began to prepare its facilities for those who would participate In the Blood Trails.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Meanwhile in the Ancient Forest Wei disregarded any and all of his misgivings about what could go wrong. I may as well try to seize this fortune, it’s not like I’m similar to other mortals, death is not the most frightening thing to me. I’m so, so scared of dying but what I’m more scared of is living a meaningless life and then dying. If I die I’ll no longer suffer and if I survive I’ll be able to cultivate and become an immortal! I will no longer think about what could be. Right here, right now I will become a cultivator!

    With a firm conviction Wei stretched out his hand and grabbed the silver coin. He only had a moment to realize that it had occurred way too smoothly before the coin flew out of his hand and zoomed right at him. With a single fast movement, the silver coin pierced right into the center of Wei’s forehead and his mind went black.

    Seemingly in the next instant he found himself in the middle of a vast field surrounded in all directions by thick mist. He slowly scanned the environment and saw that there was no one present except himself. The only thing present was himself in a huge empty swath of sky and a thin mirage like mist that hung suspended in the air and slowly moved in a circular fashion.

    It was at this precise moment that the mist cleared in front of Wei and he saw the silver coin floating in the sky above him causing the surrounding mist to turn silvery from its previously colorless state. With a start, he realized that it was the same heavenly treasure from before. What’s going on? Did it teleport me somewhere or is this an alternate plane?  All types of wild conjectures came to him based on the small amount of knowledge he had on cultivators and heavenly treasures. Wait a moment. This is incredible. A huge grin appeared on Wei’s face as he slowly looked down. I knew it!  How incredible. He was floating. I thought you had to be at a specific level of cultivation before you could fly or float as it were.

    As Wei floated in the sky looking at the silver coin he wondered where he was. And how he was going to get out and go back to the Kingdom of Chen.

     

     

  • edited June 2017
    Any and all feedback is appreciated.
    Enjoy!


    Chapter 5: Discovering the Cause

    The air was still and the sky was full of mist. Alone in this empty area Wei slowly attempted to calm his mind. He carefully considered where he could be? Clearly this had happened because of the coin. But what was 'this'? As he contemplated deeply, an incessant sensation slowly emerged that completely disrupted his thoughts. It was a low hum that seemed to get constantly louder until he couldn't even hear himself think. As Wei tried to get the humming to stop he saw a dim flickering light thousands of feet below him. I thought there was nothing on the ground except dirt. And yet this light appears just as this strange humming intensifies. I don't believe in such coincidences. I should go and check what it is. At the moment, its only mildly worrying but who how bad it will get in the future. I have to get down there.

    Having gathered himself Wei adjusted his body into what he thought was a proper position for flying. All the cultivators I’ve read about fly on swords. But since I have no flying sword, I guess I’ll have to fly without one. He slowly tilted his body head facing downwards and prepared to fly. Only when he was about to fly down, did he realize that he was feeling fine. His breathing was normal, his bones were not aching, and his limbs were feeling fine. He was well! He didn't feel sick! Regardless of where he was, Wei knew it was now his favorite place in the world. A heaven on earth, where his sickness couldn't affect him at all. Where he was free and could do what he wanted. Just as he was rejoicing he had a rude awakening. In his moment of happiness the cause of the humming seemed to have sensed his inaction and redoubled its efforts. The humming in his head doubled and was now a sharp keening wail. This is becoming too much to endure.  Without hesitation Wei dived.

    As he dropped through the air at a frightening speed Wei realized that he still hadn’t tried to fly despite being able to, sure he had floated a little and was now free- falling towards the ground. But now he wanted to make himself fly, no he needed to fly! With a small burst of burst of speed, it happened, he was flying. It was exhilarating. He could feel the wind as he rushed through space hurtling towards the flickering lights. This is true freedom. Flying through the sky with no sickness and no worries. I feel like everything will be great. As he absentmindedly headed towards the lights Wei subconsciously thought about how to move around in flight.

    It was ridiculously easy, with a single thought his body adjusted itself and he could move in any way he pleased. It was like suddenly discovering a new body part, a bit awkward at first, but it quickly becomes effortless. He felt like the air was where he belonged, his domain. He was like a bird-, no he was the wind itself. As he zipped through the air twirling and diving he saw that the ground was quickly becoming increasingly large and so he reduced his speed, slowing down until he was floating once more. As he got closer to the ground he was finally close enough to see what the lights were. As he squinted his eyes Wei couldn’t believe the sight in front of him. Still not believing it he persisted in staring for at least five minutes. Seeing the same sight persist he sighed “How the hell did this happen.” In front of him was an exact copy of himself kneeling down, naked and pierced through with two dozen shiny black chains as thick as tree trunks. The final and weirdest fact was that the him who was kneeling down was a giant. A towering thirty meter tall giant that was struggling to move. Its huge figure was speared through with the chains and tied to the earth, forced into a kneeling posture.

    As Wei looked at the kneeling giant he felt incomparably sad. Why does this giant look like me? What does it represent?

    At this moment, several things quickly became clear. The lights were flickering in response to the calling out of the giant who was making the hummin noise. Who is this giant who looks like me? And what is he doing here? Wei slowly landed on the ground, a small puff of wind rising outwards from his position.

    Walking across the barren earth towards the giant. Wei noticed the complete lack of sound. Even the wind didn’t make a sound as it brushed across his face. With a slow gait Wei continued walking towards the giant until finally he reached it. Wei looked up at the giant that shared a likeness with him and studied it carefully. Although he felt every fiber of his being urging him to try to alleviate the giant’s pain and free it, he absolutely wouldn’t until he knew what it was and what would happen once it was free.

    “I am you,” a rough voice rasped. Wei looked at the giant even more intensely. It can speak, but how? There are chains stabbing through even its mouth. As if reading his mind, the giant spoke again I am speaking to your mind,”. “Who are you?” Wei asked curiously. “I am a representation of your physical body, and the reason I am in this state is because of your illness,” the giant stated.

    Hearing this Wei immediately shot up flying up until he was eye-level with the giant. He noticed that its eyes were a blood-red, a sharp contrast to his grey. “Are you telling me you know the cause of my illness? What is it? How did I get it? How do you know what you know if you’re just a representation of my body? Where am I? Who is—. “SILENCE,” yelled the giant quickly interrupting Wei’s barrage of questions. Wei quickly quieted down, although slightly miffed at being effectively shut up by his ‘body’ Wei reminded himself not to piss off his ‘body’ which seemed to hold most if not all of the answers at the moment.

    “I am sorry, please continue,” Wei urged the giant with a look of apology on his face. The giant looked at him searchingly and then seemingly appeased it started to speak.

    “First and foremost, all the knowledge I possess is a result of a leftover wisp of memory that contained vast knowledge. However, they were very fragmented and about eighty percent of the information is missing. The only things remaining are common facts about cultivation and some odd skills and random bits of knowledge. We are now in your mindscape, a haven full of your mental qi. I am but a wisp of consciousness that can dissipate at any time. The memories appeared when these chains stabbed into me. From what I can tell this occurred just after your birth and is the cause of your illness.

    Wei silently listened as the giant explained how the chains were made out of mental qi- the energy of the mind and how since Wei had such a large amount it had overpowered his body developing his illness which was due to the severe lack of balance between Wei’s mental energy and his feeble body. Apparently, every being that could think possessed a certain amount of mental qi, and the stronger the being the more mental qi their body could contain. Nevertheless, this didn’t mean that very strong cultivators all had strong mental qi in fact most cultivators always had just about as much true qi as mental qi. The problem arose when either the true qi or mental qi vastly overpowered the other. This led to ‘complications’. Too much more mental than true qi resulted in a weak body. Too much more true than mental qi meant a weak mind. Both were fatal for cultivators and so they maintained a type of equilibrium.

    And yet despite not being a cultivator yet why was Wei’s mental qi so vast without cultivating it.

    Wei intended to find out.

    Wei quickly bombarded the giant with more questions about cultivation but he was quickly stonewalled, apparently the giant didn’t want to harm him with its ‘incomplete knowledge’ and urged him to do his own research as soon as he was able. Wei wholeheartedly agreed. As if I would listen to this giant bound up in chains who looks just like me! It’s totally suspicious. I’ll look into this when I start cultivating. But for now, let me see if there’s even a tiny bit of truth to what he’s saying.

    Slowly calming himself Wei extended his ‘mind’ finding that it was just as easy to access as when he was flying. With a slow exaggerated gesture, he pointed his hand toward a distant piece of land and slowly raised it upwards. Rise. Closing his eyes Wei realized that he could feel his mental qi move according to his will and surging toward the area that he pointed to. The mental qi conglomerated at the point but took no further action. Wei tried to urge it to move spurring it on but to no avail. Sighing he opened his eyes. The sight that greeted him was slightly surprising but also within his expectations.

    A large cloud of thin mist hung in the air surrounding the area he had sent his mental qi at.  So, this mist is mental qi huh. And my mental qi while much more than it should be for an average mortal isn’t enough to reshape my mindscape. Wait a minute, what about that silvery mist that came into contact with the coin. It should be much stronger than my normal mental qi, let’s see if I can control it!  Wei quickly shot off into the sky towards the silver coin. A few moments later he was close enough that he could see the heavenly treasure in all its glory. It floated still in the sky like a miniature sun, slowly revolving while pulling in small amounts of mental qi. Already a small extremely dense cloud of mist had taken shape around it. However instead of drawing more mental qi to itself it seemed to be constantly revolving the same silvery mental energy with no visible change occurring.

    What’s so special about the mental energy that has turned silver? Let me give it a try!

    Without any hesitation Wei targeted the silvery mental qi with his mind and pulled. The silvery mental qi came flowing towards him like liquid lightening, and slowly coiled around his body in a manner reminiscent of a snake. The silvery mental qi which he subconsciously started calling refined mental qi had answered to his summons just as swiftly as the rest of his mental qi. The only difference was the small almost negligible resistance he felt from the silver coin which he made a note of to look into later.

    Satisfied that he could control the refined mental qi just as well as the normal variant Wei quickly repeated the entire procedure and tried to use the refined mental qi to make changes to his mindscape.

    This time there was a reaction but not the one he was hoping for.

    Instead of a tall towering pillar of earth emerging from the ground, the only thing the refined mental qi could accomplish was making the targeted area rumble like an earthquake was about to occur there.

    So, it is stronger. But by how much? And how much stronger can the Heavenly Treasure make it?

    Although Wei didn’t know the answer to any of these questions the curiosity just gave him more reason to find out the answers to all of his questions. Not to be distracted Wei quickly flew back towards the giant who was still in his kneeling position looking as tragic as ever.

    “It seems that most of what your saying is true, and I thank you for giving me the information that you did. If what you’re saying about the chains is true I need to not only to find out why I have such powerful mental energy. But also, when will my body be strong enough to get rid of these chains. Perhaps at that time you will be free. Even many cultivators don’t have a sentient representation of their body I bet. So, if you are telling the truth know that I will help you.” Wei promised the giant solemnly.

    The giant said nothing seemingly contemplating his words finally it replied in a rumbling voice.

    “OK.”

    Now that that’s taken care of I better hurry back to the forest. Who knows what’s happened to my body while I’m here exploring my mind. I better hurry, it would be such a shame to die - killed by cultivators or wild beasts before even embarking on the path of immortality.

    But first.

    Setting his eyes on the silver coin Wei flew rapidly towards the heavenly treasure.  At first, I was too unattuned to mental qi, but now I can hear the coin calling to me for a great purpose. I can feel it, an utter certainty that I need to hold it! That that will determine whether or not I can even exit my mindscape among other wonderful things. I guess at my level - as a mortal I shouldn’t have a speck of a chance entering my mindscape. I definitely need the coin to exit it!

    Stopping right outside the cloud of refined mental qi that surrounded the coin. Wei waved his hands in a splitting gesture and the thick cloud split, leaving open a proper path for Wei to tread. Slowly drifting forth Wei grew ever closer to the coin, and just as he was about to reach for it. It flew straight towards his forehead just like the previous time. Wei only had a single instant to think not again before his vision went dark.

    Unlike the last time instead of an instant change Wei felt himself merging with the coin – this time for real, truly and irrevocably. He could feel his mind and even soul slowly changing having something new added onto it. And he accepted it with no qualms. He could feel that whatever or whoever this coin was it complemented him very well and would bring him a great deal of good fortune.

    Good fortune, hmmm. Does destiny really exist and can you manipulate it? Never mind, thoughts for another time. I can tell the change is about to be complete. Then I will probably reappear in the Kingdom of Chen. When I do, I have to get out of the ancient forest. And fast. Before the cultivators appear, if they catch up to mean it could mean trouble.Who knows how much they know or what they’ll do.

    The transformation slowly drew to a close and Wei was mentally readying himself, planning what route was fastest and how he would get there. When suddenly he started seeing disjointed visions. The visions were clearly the memories or recollections of a powerful cultivator. Huge battles, formidable opponent, beautiful lovers and vast powers all flit by before Wei’s eyes some too fast to even register. The one that stood out the most was one of a vast tree that seemed to be eternal. It shone with a metallic luster and with a single glance Wei was obsessed with finding out what it was.  

    This must be a great divine tree or something equally as impressive.

     But before he could he was bombarded by the rawest emotion of the coin. Ambition. A thirst for power, knowledge and wealth. A desire to obtain all within the heavens and earth.

    To learn all secrets and possess all heavenly treasures. This ambition interwove with Wei’s thirst for knowledge and awakened Wei’s almost nonexistent ambition.

    From this moment Wei knew his ambition were greater than all others. No matter if it was arrogant or not he didn’t care. You couldn’t have this sort of ambition without being arrogant.

    Wei felt that he wouldn’t ever be satisfied. Nothing he could think of could satisfy his mad desire for everything.  But I will try, I will try to attain all that I want and it all starts at the awakening ceremony. I will definitely awaken as a cultivator and then my journey can begin!

    It was an all-encompassing feeling and Wei experienced very vividly. After an undetermined amount of time. Wei slowly opened his eyes.  

    I’m back! I’m in the ancient forest. I made it.

     Wei smiled.  He felt incomparably happy at this moment.

    At this moment, the dark forest felt brighter than the morning sun.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


  • edited July 2017
    Comment and Enjoy!

    Chapter 6: A Dangerous Encounter

    Wei slowly scanned his surroundings, looking around at the vast trees in the forest. The entire forest seemed to glow with a pleasant light, the forest seemed lusher than before and every single aspect of it seemed to be livelier. Just by gaining access to my mental qi my senses have improved by leaps and bounds, I feel like my eyes are that of an eagle. I need to find out as many of the uses of mental qi as I can but for now I better get out of here!

    Wei quickly stood up and dusted himself off. Very quickly he noticed that he had left a very large and obvious trail through the Ancient Forest. All the more reason to hurry. Wei quickly retraced his steps looking all around for any of his belongings which he had abandoned in his race to obtain the heavenly treasure. His head was constantly swiveling, on the lookout for his sword and walking stick. Wei also couldn’t resist furtively looking into the sky – feeling that cultivators would fly down at any moment and capture him. 

    Do I still need the sword, it’s a standard issue for nobles and could belong to anyone, plus I’ve barely used it… and it probably can’t be used to track me? Wait! These are cultivators – probably powerful ones, it’s better to err on the side of caution. I have to find it.

    Slightly concentrating Wei drew out his mental energy in the hope that it had some searching capabilities. His mental qi slowly emerged, however its capabilities were severely reduced. Not only was it very slow but even its slow movements were heavy and sluggish – lacking maneuverability. Lastly and most importantly it was of no help in searching.  As I expected using divine sense to be aware of all of your surroundings is a special technique. It was a small hope that simply spreading my mental qi across an area would allow me to know all that was touched by it.

    The mental qi is so weakened when it comes outside! I really need to do more research on it. For now, though I should focus on finding the sword.

    Wei quickly found out that the mental qi when active sped up his thought process and improved his focus. In his excitement, he tried to use his refined mental qi for an even bigger boost but to no avail. It seemed the amount of power mental qi could give was limited. But by what? True Qi? Mental Qi Techniques? Or all of them. What am I missing? His refined mental qi could work just as well as his normal mental qi in improving his mind but for some reason it couldn’t exit his body. Realizing that the mental qi was essentially useless in its weakened state Wei activated his refined mental qi and used his increased focus to look for the sword in the most efficient manner.

    After a few moments Wei found the sword half buried under a clump of fallen leaves. Without even cleaning it up he strapped the sword to his side and continued following the road that would lead him to out of the Ancient Forest.

    A few minutes later Wei realized that the surrounding trees were very familiar – he was getting very close to the city. Once I get out I’ll have to get a ride from a carriage and immediately get back to the manor. I’ll have to practice as much as possible with my mental qi before the awakening ceremony. Then I’ll—

    Crunch!

    Wei reached for his sword instinctively drawing it from its scabbard.

    What was that!

    After gaining control of his mental qi Wei’s senses had become much more acute. The sense of touch, smell and sight had adjusted fast, quickly becoming something not to be concerned with. But the hearing, the hearing was different. After a couple of minutes Wei would feel that he had got it, that he was used to his new hearing, but would be proven wrong once more. Perhaps it was because of the forest itself? It seemed to be almost dead silent, but at times the sounds flourished.

    Crunch! Crunch!

    The second time having been listening harder – and concentrating. Wei heard it clearly, it was coming from in front of him- the sound of bones being broken. The sound of a predator feasting. Wei’s first instinct was to run, but he knew that would only alert whatever predator was eating. Most animals had better sense than humans and Wei didn’t doubt that if he made a ruckus it would check out the source of the noise. What am I doing? In this situation what good would running do? My body is weak. Most humans can outrun me never mind a predator! And the sword. I know I did it instinctively to feel safe but it won’t save me here. I only have basic training, I have to escape!

    Swiftly sheathing his sword, Wei slowly took a detour around the sounds of carnage, making sure to keep his footsteps steady despite the sickening sounds of tearing and crunching Wei progressed ever closer towards the exit of the forest. Just as he saw was almost out of the forest the sounds stopped completely.

    The complete lack of sound was very disconcerting. The steadily darkening sky only added to its effect. Wei felt a tremor run through him, although he was frightened he didn’t allow himself to stop walking, his walking stick making various sounds as it found purchase on the varying terrain. Wei got into a rhythm focusing only on putting one foot in front of another and making sure to place the walking stick correctly so as to keep his footing.

    Suddenly he heard a sound from the trees. The leaves rustled and a few branches creaked.

    As soon as he heard the sounds in the trees Wei had a faint premonition what animal it could be. Pointedly ignoring the movements in the trees, Wei strove forward slowly and steadily.

    The sounds persisted.

    Wei paused and so did the sounds, on and off until finally he grew tired of it. Sitting on the ground, Wei crossed his feet and put his cane on his lap. He could feel a twinge in his mental qi, followed by a familiar sensation of feeling distinctly uncomfortable and vulnerable.

    Its watching me.

    Feeling the gaze of the beast upon him Wei scanned the trees trying to find the beast but to no avail. Night had fallen and his enhanced sight didn’t seem to apply to night vision. Shadows crept along the floor and Wei’s paranoia increased. While sitting on the floor Wei projected an air of easy confidence seemingly at ease with the situation, inside however he was panicking and plotting at a dizzying speed.

    I have to use my mental qi, it’s the only way.

    Very quickly several plans were thought up by Wei and just as quickly discarded.

    Think.

    Think.

    In response to his inner turmoil Wei’s mental qi slowly seeped out visible only to him. The unexpected reaction startled Wei out of his plotting and he paid attention, watching as his colorless mental qi slowly pervaded the area around him with him as its epicenter. Wei watched as it lingered in the air seemingly doing nothing.

    Didn’t it move on its own accord. Why stop now he thought annoyed.

    Interrupting his thought session was the strong movement of the mental qi behind him. Turning around Wei saw a massive panther crouched several feet behind him looking at him – seemingly as if it had present the entire time. It was 4 feet tall, with gold eyes and pitch-black fur that was adorned with flecks of red. Blood Wei inwardly realized. Its maw was dripping with blood fresh from its kill, and Wei watched with a sort of sick fascination as a single drop fell to the ground. Instantly soaked up by the surrounding dirt until it wasn’t even noticeable.

    Only when the drop of blood had dried did Wei realize he was getting distracted.

    Why was that?

    Holy shit, it just appeared out of nowhere. With fur that dark I’m not surprised I couldn’t see it, but why couldn’t I hear it? Without my mental qi, I would be a goner.

    While thinking Wei’s eyes had not left the panthers frame and as he looked at its face he saw that it was intently watching him. Wei felt a deep panic take hold of him, it was the feeling of a predator when it came face to face with its prey. A primal fear that occurred when a person realized the absolute surety of their demise. A feeling of weakness, Wei hated that feeling, it ate at him like maggots in his bones, a painful and disgusting sensation he knew he had to eliminate. But to do anything first he had to calm down. Slowly focusing himself, Wei concentrated on his mental qi to calm himself, immersing himself in feeling his mental qi.

    But instead of calming him down, focusing one hundred percent on his mental qi made him enter an incredible state.

    He felt like he was floating on a cloud. Free of all worry and troubles.

    He could feel his mental qi in its entirety like a small tranquil lake in his mind, a power completely at his command. In this state, he felt almost no emotions, sure he could feel them – but not strongly, as if they were in the background. They couldn’t affect him at all.

    He quickly called on his refined mental qi and it answered, flowing through his body and brimming under his skin.

    The panther that had been still until this moment suddenly moved, it stalked towards him moving in a graceful and smooth manner. As it moved towards him on all fours Wei realized the reason he had reacted so seriously when he noticed the panther.

    It had an intelligent glimmer in its eye.

    Even the most intelligent animals were only slightly more aware and discerning then most animals. They understood simple things and had a sharper instinct because of it.

    But this panther was intelligent. It had thoughts beyond food, shelter, mating and survival. Now that he paid attention he could clearly see it. The way it carried itself and how cautious and perceptive it was.

    This panther was a spirit beast.

    Luckily for Wei it seemed it was only at the beginning stages and had just recently started cultivating. If it was a middle or late stage beast he would’ve been a goner. Never mind a Demonic Beast. But now since it was a young spirit beast, he had a chance. Spirit Beasts were beasts who had through some fortune, luck, or simply observing cultivators learned how to absorb the energy of heaven and earth; True Qi. Of course, some Spirit Beasts were taught by other Spirit beasts but these were the minority. Spirit Beasts were not willing to teach other beasts how to cultivate unless they were its offspring’s and sometimes not even then.

    Cultivating was usually harder for Spirit Beasts than it was for human cultivators or Demonic Beasts.

    However just because they gained True Qi and intelligence didn’t mean they automatically become knowledgeable. In fact, spirit beasts had to be at least mid - level in their cultivation before their intelligence equaled a human.

    The only chance Wei had was to bluff. Almost all of the things I can think of to do with my mental energy, I can’t at the moment. I know no techniques and without them my options are sorely limited. I’ll have to fake it out. Hopefully since it’s still not too intelligent it will fall for it and leave me alone.

    Straightening his back and squaring his shoulders Wei looked the panther straight in its eye and ignored the twinge of fear that shot through him when his eyes met the golden gaze of the panther. Forcefully stopping the shake in his fingers Wei slowly drew out his sword.  

    Only at this moment do I realize that my apathy towards my death was complete bullshit. My sickness was gradual, a slow death. I got used to it and had hope that I would find myself a cure. That was all a lie, I always had hope, a chance for a better life. But now. Now this is really life or death!

    Everything will be decided in this instant. Whether I live or die depends completely on myself.

    He focused completely on his image trying his best to portray an image of confidence and appearing completely at ease. With a careless gesture, he pointed the sword directly at the panther and smiled a wide provocative smile.

    “I will give you until the count of ten to leave this place, or else I will kill you!” Wei threatened the panther waving his sword to and fro, the steel shining in the moonlight. Wei’s voice was loud and confident. I don’t even know whether it understands human speech. But based on its intelligence it should be able to understand the general gist.

    So, drawing on all of his courage Wei stood as straight as a pillar looking straight at the panther, his mouth curled up in a smile – wide enough that he was sure the panther would see it, then he waited.

    Ten.

    Nine.

    Eight.

    Seven.

    Seeing that the panther wasn’t making a move Wei in a seemingly suicidal move slowly walked towards it. Immediately the panther backpedaled seemingly startled. Wei pressed his advantage taking ten more steps in rapid succession. The panther was showing hesitation and so Wei took the initiative, casually increasing his gait, trying to the scare the panther into running.

    Come on bolt already! Just run away. I probably don’t even taste that good sick as I am.

    Just as Wei was gaining confidence the situation took a turn for the worse. A sharp glint appeared in the panther’s eye and without a moment of forewarning it suddenly bared its sharp teeth and started running right at him!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


  • Wow, writing human vs beast fight scenes are hard.
    Any and all feedback is appreciated.

    Comment and Enjoy! 



    Chapter 7: Returning to The Manor


    A moment of warning was all Wei had to make a move. The panther was advancing at a frightening pace – much faster than he had expected. Well of course, it is a spirit beast. It may even have special abilities. I have to be cautious.

    Wei braced himself and prepared to engage the panther. I am slow and easily injured. I can’t let it get even one successful attack on me or I’m dead.

    Wei briefly heard his instructor’s words in a disjointed recollection “when you use your sword, use your full strength but remember not to tense yourself too much. Stay strong but relaxed and limber. A stiff sword swing will leave you open and will most likely miss. Then, you are dead.”

    Paying careful attention to the panther’s form, he saw that the panther was running much too fast for it to pounce on him. Its going to attack me with its claws, then afterwards it’ll be easy to finish me off. I have to disrupt its plans. Wei stepped forward and without hesitation slashed out with his sword in a sharp gleaming arc. Swish. The sword moved much quicker than he expected and within a second it was about to cut into the panther’s flesh. With a graceful movement, the jaguar lunged to the side and avoided the edge of the sword – its movements casual and practiced.

    What agility. This spirit beast has a lot of battle experience! This isn’t the first time its killed a human. I won’t be able to escape or win in a conventional manner. What makes me different? Special? .... It’s my mental qi. Any average hunter or swordsmen would almost certainly die if they met this beast. But I am not a run of the mill hunter. I am Wei and I will be a cultivator. No, an Immortal!

    I won’t lose to an overgrown housecat!

    I will kill this spirit beast for even daring to attack me! With a start Wei realized that he fully expected to make this spirit beast regret ever having crossed him. It must be that the heavenly treasure contained the partial personality of an extremely ambitious and arrogant individual. Here I am trying to survive and yet I can feel something urging me to kill this spirit beast right this moment.

    Shaking of the arrogant thought, Wei paid attention to the spirit beast and saw that it looked much surer of itself. No wonder it seemed its first attack was so halfhearted, it was testing me. 

    Not letting himself be affected Wei stayed in a simple, balanced stance. He waited knowing that he couldn’t be the aggressor. He didn’t possess the attack power or the stamina to engage in a straight on battle. I have to make an opening. Just one opening! And I can kill it.

    Again, the panther rushed at him. This time it ran towards and then suddenly ran into the woods concealing itself in the trees. Wei didn’t even try to look for it knowing it was useless. Instead he immediately spread out his mental qi in a large area around himself. Just as he did so the panther rushed out again from the trees. This time jumping down from above. In the nighttime, its fur offered it the perfect camouflage. Swinging his sword again Wei saw that this time the sword was nowhere near close to the Spirit Beast.

    The momentum quickly shifted in the Spirit Beast’s favor. Very quickly Wei realized that his mental qi detection system was no longer as efficient. As long as he was paying attention to his mental qi he could tell when an object was significant size and lifeforce passed through it.

    He had slightly experimented with it and realized that all small insects were nigh undetectable. That was a seemingly glaring weakness, however Wei was put at ease when a small poisonous bug had entered his mental qi’s perimeter and he had felt a strong violent reaction from his mental qi. It seemed to be able to detect life threatening dangers especially well.

    He didn’t know if all mental qi worked that way, but he was thankful nonetheless.

    At this moment, however it wasn’t enough.

    Although his mental qi alerted him from what direction the Spirit Beast would attack it was useless since Wei’s body was much too slow to react. His reaction time was fast able to perceive things quickly, but sadly Wei’s body was slow to move due to pain and stiffness leading to his current predicament.

    The fight transformed into a game of cat and mouse, with the Spirit Beast trying its utmost to kill him and Wei trying everything in his power to stay alive.

    If it goes on like this I’m a goner.

    I’ve just awakened my mental qi so I’ve never had the chance to test out my limits. In this moment, I have to try or it’s over. I can’t maintain this type of physical exertion much longer.

    Having made his decision Wei took a massive risk and split his focus.

    On one hand, he fought the Spirit Beast and on the other he tried to draw out his refined mental qi.

    The fight instantly became more savage. Wei fought in a much crazier manner taking the Spirit Beast by surprise. He slashed, hacked and stabbed with the fastest speed he was able, taking no breaks and using all of his energy without any thought towards conservation.

    All of this was in the hope that he could draw out his refined mental qi. Wei was fighting solely to stall. And the panther could tell. Its attacks became even faster and Wei worriedly wondered how much faster it could go. Any more and I won’t be able to keep up.

    The tempo of the fight stabilized and Wei adjusted accordingly.

    The entire world seemed to blur into a mix of dodging, slashing claws and throwing knives. Wei slowly started noticing a pattern in the Spirit Beasts movements. He ruthlessly exploited it – pretending to leave himself open and sensing the precise moment when the Spirit Beast pounced.

    Wei lunged forward with a stab perfectly positioned to skewer it. He could see the precise moment it realized his plans. Its eyes narrowing into slits, it tried to dodge, but being in mid-air it couldn’t bend its body fast enough. Wei exulted. Even if it’s a Spirit Beast being stabbed right through the stomach will injure it severely If not outright kill it.

    It was at this moment that the Spirit Beast did a truly shocking move.

    Without taking its eyes of the sword the panther bended to the side as far as it could and when it reached the apex of its move it kicked out with shocking force.

    *Shlink*

    The sword sliced through most of the Spirit Beasts hindleg, but couldn’t cut through the bone, splattering the ground with a deluge of blood. The blood of the panther shimmered with a slight sheen that was entrancing to look at.

    Even its blood is filled with True Qi. How incredible.

    While he was observing the blood, Wei made sure to keep an eye out for the panther. Seeing the murderous look in its eye he knew that if he didn’t kill it, it would kill him. With a deep breath, he took his stance again and the panther reacted to his movement testing its paws on the ground gingerly in preparation for its attack.

    That was when Wei’s perseverance paid off. With a sharp snap Wei felt a change in his refined mental qi. With a single thought, the refined mental qi gushed out from all points of Wei’s body and coalesced around him like a silver shroud. It worked, I can use my refined mental qi outside my body. Compared to the figurative lake that was his normal mental qi Wei’s refined mental qi was a small pond.

    However, although his refined mental qi was much smaller in volume, Wei could feel that it more than made up for it in sheer speed and potency.

    With a wide bloodthirsty smile Wei said in a chilling voice “Now you’re the prey.”

    The Spirit Beast immediately sensed something was wrong, raising its hackles it growled in an ear-piercing manner.

    Seemingly unconcerned Wei send out his refined mental qi in a thin stream towards the Spirit Beast. It seems as if I don’t have enough refined mental qi to both attack and defend. But I’ve been on the defensive all this time. Now I attack!

    The Spirit Beast seemed to be able to tell it was in danger- but not what was causing its instincts to go haywire. So, in a very anticlimactic manner the refined energy slammed right into the body of the Spirit Beast, shrouding its entire body in a small sea of silver only Wei could see. However, the refined mental qi had difficulty piercing into its body. Its true qi is blocking my mental qi and preventing me from damaging it at all.

    Most beings that could think possessed mental qi. They also possessed natural shields that blocked out foreign mental qi, this was a natural protective measure and the more powerful the creature the stronger the shields against mental qi – this was especially true for beings possessing true qi. If I can’t do any damage I’ll have to run, most likely with its injured hindleg and my mental attack it’ll be too scared to follow me.

    Escaping from a powerful Spirit Beast was a victory in its own rights. But Wei didn’t’ want to run.

    He had been enjoying the fight, reveling in it even. But Wei was no warrior. He didn’t love the fight for the sake of fighting but for the experience it provided and for learning more about the power the power that intrigued him and made him special.

    I’ve always wanted to be special. Superior. Does that make me egotistical? Or is it just human nature?

    Perhaps in another time I would have worried more about whether it was right or not. But now at this moment I am above human. I will kill this Spirit Beast.

    Fueled by his conviction, he sent the refined mental qi piercing like a sharp lance straight towards the brain of the panther. Once more his mental qi was impaired by what felt like a solid wall, however this time it wasn’t enough. Wei’s mental qi pierced right through the shield of true qi and ran rampant through the mindscape of the Spirit Beast, before he could stop it the mental qi attack had completely destroyed the panther’s mindscape. The Spirit Beast started trembling and shaking fiercely, like it was being tortured. A minute later it was yowling loud enough that Wei wondered whether there was anything in the forest that hadn’t heard it.

    The silence of the night forest was broken by the broken cries of a tortured beast. The surrounding wildlife ran away knowing nothing good could come of sticking around the area.

    Wei walked towards the Spirit Beasts in measured steps, although he knew the fight was over he didn’t dare let his guard down against the beast that had almost claimed his life.

    The night wind tore across the forest and Wei tightened his robes around himself. The robes of nobility were stylish and expensive but warm and cozy they were not. As he came within a few scant feet of the Spirit Beast, Wei stabbed it once more with a sharp burst of mental qi. Sensing no reaction, he crouched down and observed the beast.

    It lay on the floor hindleg spurting blood, it was twitching in pain and frothing from the mouth. It looked very pitiful, the ferocity and intelligence in its eyes nowhere to be seen.

    It was broken. Its mind in shambles.

    It couldn’t think. Its body was alive but its mind was gone. As he looked down at his hated foe, pitiful beyond compare Wei knew what he needed to do.

    He thrust his sword right into its heart and saw the life seep out of its eyes.

    Now both body and mind were no more.

    Wei felt an intense desire to pay his respects but he didn’t know how. Finally, he placed his walking stick next to the Spirit Beasts corpse. While doing this Wei knew it was a risky idea with no visible gains, but it felt right and so he went with it. There was a myriad of reasons why he shouldn’t. But regardless of what thoughts bubbled up he ignored them. I need a new walking stick anyway. Slowly walking away Wei finally exited the city and headed towards the city.

    The rest of the night was a blur that Wei barely remembered. Arguing with a random passerby, bargaining with a carriage driver and finally falling asleep after briefly speaking with Lady Seer.

    The next morning Wei woke up in his luxury bed feeling better than he had in entire life. Although his body was still weak and filled with pains and aches, his mind was sharp as were his senses. He felt like he was the most intelligent being to walk on the earth.

    “Today will be a wonderful day,” Wei spoke aloud while stretching.

    Getting up Wei was just about to go brush his teeth when he saw that he was still wearing the same clothes as yesterday. They were filthy and stained with blood emitting a rancid odor.

    “Man, I better shower and change. Today Lady Seer said an important customer was coming. I better get ready.” He sighed.

    A low voice spoke from behind him. “Before that though maybe we should have a talk.”

    Wei looked at the door and saw Lady Seer standing there hunched over and looking at him intently.

    I wonder what I told her yesterday? I can’t remember.

    Running a hand through his hair, Wei made a come in gesture and welcomed Lady Seer into his room.
  • edited July 2017
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    Comment and Enjoy! D


    Chapter 8: The Kings Decree

     

    It was a tense silence that followed Lady Seer’s entrance into Wei’s room. In that moment, she looked like the feeble old lady she was supposed to be and not the energetic old lady he had come to know. Her eyes were deep, knowing and filled with a sadness of having experienced something similar. In that moment Wei felt that she seemed to know him better than he knew himself. What could I have told her to make her look at me like that? A deep worry covered him and he felt a sense of tightness in his chest- a difficulty breathing and a sick feeling, like he had swallowed something rotten.

    I need time. To think and remember, or at least calm down.

    Lady Seer I am sorry you waited so long to talk to me while I was asleep. Doubly so, because I wasted your time, on a day a valuable client was coming. I ruined your plans for the day and for that I am sorry. I will quickly step into my bathroom to change and will be out in a second. Perhaps if we make our talk short we can still make it to your appointment.” Wei said in an optimistic tone. Wei felt incredibly guilty for making Lady Seer late to her appointment – so much so that he was willing to go to the House of Fortune without showering despite his love of cleanliness.

    Lady Seer smiled a thin smile and settled down into a comfy chair (Wei’s favorite) while waving her hand.  “Don’t worry about it, I know how you love to take long baths, take your time. I’ll be waiting,” she said wiggling slightly as she tried to find the perfect posture in his comfy chair. Wei was about to voice an objection until he saw Lady Seer skimming through a book that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. His objections died immediately after seeing Lady Seer’s casual conduct. She seems like she really is in no hurry. Why is that I wonder? After observing Lady Seer’s demeanor Wei was sure there was no hurry. Lady Seer was the only person he had met in his life who had a reason behind every action she did.

    Perhaps she really can see the future. Yeah as if! I really need to get a hold of my whimsical thoughts. Always going off into the weirdest theories. With a smile and respectful nod toward Lady Seer, who seemed completely oblivious to it, Wei entered his bathroom and started to bathe. As he immersed himself in the cold-water Wei closed his eyes and enjoyed the numbing effect the water had on his small cuts and scrapes curtesy of the Ancient Forest. Although Lady Seer had given him as much time as he needed, Wei still quickened his process and within fifteen minutes he was done.

    Drying himself off, he tied his hair into a ponytail and looked into his side closet. Many months ago, when he had first stepped into Lady Seer’s manor he had found his main closer full of very beautiful very expensive clothes – all of them worth more money than he had ever seen in his life. The materials were much better quality than his coarse clothing and fit extremely well.

    But Wei felt that they didn’t suit him. So, he put them into his small side closet.

    Now as he looked into the spotless and well-lit closet, Wei had a desire to try out his fine robes. Hands brushing across the many clothes, he looked at each piece of clothing, before moving past. At the far end of the closet hanging alone – separated from all the other pieces of clothing, was a golden silk robe, that was the most exquisite of them all.

    After his encounter with the heavenly treasure he had noticed his thoughts and tastes had changed slightly. It was a subtle thing that Wei could’ve easily missed if he didn’t have such particular tastes. A strong sense of pride and arrogance had started to show in his thoughts and actions. Even demeanor.

    Today this robe suited him. So, he wore it.

    Exiting the closet, he headed back into his bedroom. Madam Seer was still seated in his favorite chair, so Wei sat down on the edge of the bed and waited for her to finish her reading. The silence was a comfortable one and Wei entertained himself by thinking about his future life as a cultivator. Idly tracing his finger across his bedsheets Wei was slipping into a state of complete relaxation when a cough interrupted him.

    Looking up he saw that Lady Seer had finished reading her book and that she was looking at him expectantly.

    “So, how did you suddenly get that book in your hands? I swear I was watching you the entire time and I never noticed a thing.” Wei asked in a hopeful tone.

    “Trust me it will be more fun if you figure it out yourself. If I tell you it won’t mean as much.” She assured him. “If you say so, never mind that then, Lady Seer what happened to your appointment today? Did you reschedule? Asked Wei.

    Lady Seer gave him a blank look. Again, she’s looking at me weird. What the hell did I say to her?

    With a very straight face she told him “I didn’t reschedule my appointment,” Didn’t reschedule the appointment? but she always completes her appointments, she’s never missed one in all the times I’ve known her. So that means

    Seriously?

    “Lady Seer, what time is it?”

    “Finally, noticed huh, not surprised with how dark your room always is. Its late night. I met my client hours ago. You slept through last night and all of today.” She informed him.

    “Wei, what you told me yesterday I shall keep close to heart, but I urge you to gain better control of yourself. Yesterday you spoke like a drunk, mixing truth and lies and saying whatever came to mind. No matter what you do in the future such lack of control will be a crippling weakness and will only cause you problems,” she warned him.

    Wei was badly shocked for as long as he remembered he had done his utmost to keep his thoughts carefully guarded, telling precious little to other people even if they spoke for hours. Wei rarely spoke to other people but when he did he was a great conversationalist.

    He was a master of talking a lot and saying nothing.

    The fact that he had divulged whatever he had to Lady Seer despite knowing her for only little over a year was worrying. Even the few traders and merchants he had talked to for years hadn’t gotten a single personal fact out of him for all the time he’d known them. This is very troubling, it seemed that my great luck in gaining a heavenly treasure wasn’t only a great fortune but also a great trial. No matter, good and bad often come hand in hand. I have to get better at managing these changes to my personality as they occur, since their obviously too subtle for me to tell in advance.

    “Lady Seer who are you? You are very wise and witty, smart and wealthy and the most dangerous person I’ve ever met. I’ve lived with you for over a year now and yet I know almost nothing about you. I don’t even know your real name. Why is that?” He asked her intrigued by the mystery which seemed to surround everything about Lady Seer.

    Lady Seer seemed to think on the question longer than Wei expected. If she were going to tell him something she would’ve already told him. If he were conversing with anyone else he would’ve expected them to be thinking about how much to tell him but with Lady Seer it was completely possible that she would tell him nothing just to test him.

    Lady Seer was still keeping silent when a knock sounded outside Wei’s door. “Lady Seer, young master Wei. May I come in? a polite female voice asked. “Come in,” Lady Seer said. A beautiful middle-aged maid entered the room, respectfully bowing to both Wei and Lady Seer. “What is it? Wei and myself were having a rather important conversation,” Lady Seer spoke sharply. “I’m very sorry my Lady, I know better than to disturb you when you are speaking to someone, doubly so at such a late hour but something very urgent has come up. A young royal and his retinue are demanding entrance into the compound. The captain of the guards is stalling him but he sent me to let you know.” She replied quickly.

    Lady Seer’s expression remained unchanged dismissing the maid “thank you for the quick explanation Biyu, you may go.” The maid bowed low and mumbled a few words while hurriedly retreating. The door closed behind her with a loud click. Seeing the questioning look on Wei’s face Lady Seer gesture for him to follow her downstairs. Keeping up with Lady Seer’s swift pace they quickly exited the manor and headed towards the gate. The tall gate towered high, protecting the resident and seeming impenetrable. Lady Seer walked with a strong sense of purpose her momentum unstoppable. Wei looked at Lady Seer from the corner of his eye trying to glean anything about their mysterious guest from her expression. Her face told him that whoever had visited was not expected or welcome.

    Lady Seer seemed to be able to tell immediately what he was doing, she gave him a thin smile and chastised him “don’t try to read me Wei.” With a bashful smile Wei looked away appearing embarrassed for being caught in the act. What a wily old lady. Even without direct eye contact she could still tell I was looking at her. After gambling for a while Wei had picked up several small tricks that were guaranteed to work on most people. However most of his ‘big’ tricks were taught to him by Cheng Chao - an old merchant and the most amoral old man Wei had ever met.

    One of the tricks Wei had picked up was reading peoples expressions to guess what they were thinking, most people who looked closely at people could discern something from the face of a person but reading someone required careful attention to details and also very accurate guessing. It also required making massive leaps in logic.

    Wei was very good at reading people. But sometimes it took a little longer than he would like. Most people he could figure out fairly quickly, but Lady Seer was one of the few who was very difficult. He even looked at her out of the corner of his eyes and he was still discovered. Most people could only tell you were looking at them if you did it very obviously and for long periods of time.

    Apparently, Lady Seer was not most people.

    They reached the gate and found the situation was very tense, the twenty or so guards Lady Seer employed had all drawn their weapons and looked ready to spill blood. The reason was quickly made apparent well that explains the maid’s nervousness. Standing in stark white armor was a group of thirty imperial guards. They were all outfitted with the same standard short sword and silver helm. They stood professionally in a small triangle formation around a young man who was idly fanning himself even though it was late at night. He had a handsome face with a strong jaw and short spiky hair. He also looked completely unconcerned with the violence that could explode out at any moment.

    If the insignia on his robes and carriage didn’t say he was royalty. His demeanor did. He stood arrogant and unconcerned amidst the chaotic scene as if no accident or mishap could happen to him as long as he willed it. And for good reason, because he was in the City of Chen and surrounded by the elite members of the imperial guards.

    The imperial guards only served to protect the royal family. They were separately trained and had nothing to do with the imperial army or the imperial enforcers. Their only job was to defend the royal family, they were trained in a defensive sword style that had no methods of attacking. Rumor was that they were meant only for protection and that nothing had ever happened to a royal family member under their watch.

    They lived only for their charge, and it showed. Despite Lady Seer’s guards having drawn their weapons the imperial guards hadn’t moved a finger, keeping in formation and awaiting the command from the young man. Wei was intrigued. Which member of the royal family is this? His guards are so well trained, they’re like dogs! Most imperial guards would have tightened formation and drew their weapons the moment ours did but not these ones. Lady Seer obviously knows him.

    His mind running through many possibilities thought Wei put a politely interested look on his face and waited for Lady Seer to welcome him. But Lady Seer clearly had no intention to do a single thing. With a snide look on her face Lady Seer called out in a mocking voice “If it isn’t your highness third prince Chen Zi. Why have you graced this humble fraud with your presence this fine evening?”

    “Lady Seer as sharp tongued and abrasive as ever I see. You are looking wonderful as always. So sorry to come to your abode at this time but I would like you to accompany me to the royal palace. And before you refuse I am not asking you for my own sake. I know you have no problem offending any of the royalty except my King father and so I have brought proof.” He assured Lady Seer.

    Smoothly pulling a letter from his robe he showed the cover of it to Lady Seer who calmed down visibly upon seeing it. Wei read three words on the paper in a red script. It read ‘By My Hand’ without being told Wei could tell what it was.

    “The Kings Decree,” Wei heard a guard breath out in fear and reverence. The Kings decree was an absolute order that no one could disobey within the Kingdom of Chen. It was as natural to obey the Kings Decree as it was to eat and breath. Everyone just did whatever it said, unconditionally.

    “Don’t worry, it isn’t just you, every person of importance in Chen has been summoned to the royal palace.” He consoled Lady Seer in a completely sincere tone.

    “Did I look worried? Keep your words of consolation for people who appreciate them, and tell your guards to stay away from me and my son. I don’t like the look of them, now let’s go” she snapped.

    “Well you heard Lady Seer, let us be on our way,” the prince said to his guards. “Yes, your highness,” they said in concert.

    So, climbing onto a carriage Wei and Lady Seer took off, following the third prince and his guards, heading towards the royal palace at a slow and leisurely pace.

    “What do you think the meeting is about?” Wei asked Lady Seer. “You know I don’t know, why would you ask?” she answered with a question of her own.

    “No reason, just wanted to annoy you I guess.” Wei replied with a smile.

  • edited July 2017
    Any and all feedback is appreciated.
    Comment and Enjoy!

    Chapter 9: A Bad Feeling

     

    The main road to the Palace was as smooth as a carpet, not once did the carriage veer off course due to cracks or potholes. Due to its frequent usage, the main road of the City of Chen was the most well-maintained road in the city. Or at least Wei thought so. Not even once were he and Lady jostled or startled by even the smallest bump. If he had brought his brush and pad Wei would’ve painted but since he had forgotten them in his room Wei occupied himself by looking out the side of the carriage – trying to estimate the time until arrival by looking at the landmarks.

    The City of Chen was a city that very active – it was as busy in the middle of the night as it was in the day. Tonight, proved to be an exception. The usually bustling streets had become quiet and desolate save for the occasional small squad of soldiers from the imperial army who were on night patrol.

    Ten minutes later they appeared at the entrance of the palace. The palace was extremely large, towering over everything near it and dwarfing even the guard towers which surrounded it in each of the cardinal directions. The architecture of the palace itself and the surrounding buildings was an exquisite style that was currently impossible to replicate by mortal means. Wei was personally very impressed by the magnificent work of art that was the royal palace. Apparently, there is actual truth to the rumors. This palace goes back many years.

    Every time Wei saw the palace he always felt that the ancient and beautiful palace didn’t fit the royal family. Perhaps he was biased but after seeing the third prince in person and listening to the king weekly, what he saw only validated the other unsavory rumors he heard about the rest of the royal family. After passing a checkpoint – which didn’t actually check any of them. Wei and Lady Seer followed the third prince as he walked with easy familiarity through the maze-like corridors toward the throne room. Every single person Is being monitored by those hidden presences I can always feel watching me.

    Entering through the wide doors with the name ‘Chen’ written in wonderful calligraphy, Wei heard a loud voice announcing the entrance of the third prince, Lady Seer and himself. Looking at the announcer in the corner who seemed to have a respectful look permanently etched onto his features made Wei even more certain that this meeting was immensely important. I wonder what kind of life he leads. Announcing names for a living. I hope he’s at least being paid well for it.

    The Throne Room completely dwarfed the Court Hall. It would be more accurate to refer to it as the Throne Hall due to its immense size. Three hundred or so of the most elite nobles, merchants and officials gathered together in the middle of the night stopping whatever they may have been doing, however important it may be to attend this ‘meeting’.

    All because of the King’s Decree. Not a single person dared be absent. Even old man Sen the oldest noble in the city at a hundred and twenty years of age had rushed over to the palace, being carried in his custom-made chair by his retainers. The throne room was buzzing with low conversation as the elite of the kingdom formed small cliques talking about whatever struck they’re fancy, most of them however inevitably veered of topic and found themselves guessing the purpose of the mysterious meeting they had been summoned to.

    The king should be here any minute. But that could be a short wait or a long one and I’m bored, other than old man Cheng none of the people in this room really interest me. While I’m sure in a place as full of elites as this I could find someone worth interacting with. But hopefully I will not be a mortal much longer so it’s a moot point. May as well find old man Cheng and see if he’ll teach me any more tricks. Where is that old man?

    His thoughts were interrupted by a particular shift in his mental qi that he knew meant danger. It was not as gradual as his bouts of intuition nor as wild as when he fought the spirit beast, it a kind of angry buzzing sound like a bee trapped in his skull. It was there all the same a feeling of danger, of violence and blood. He knew that this meeting was mandatory but he felt like leaving. Just as quickly as it came it was gone.

    Is the danger gone? Delayed? Was it a single person or a group? Aimed at many people or only me?

    Endless questions bubbled up in Weis mind. With no way to confirm his guesses Wei’s mind once again went back to the topic of Old Cheng.

    Looking around the wide room Wei tried to pick Cheng Chao out of the mass of bodies but realized that such an attempt wouldn’t work due to the constantly shifting people. So, he started moving through them, politely nodding to the few people he recognized as Lady Seer’s clients. Brushing past many slightly familiar faces Wei kept a look out for the old man. Maybe he will teach me something even more impressive than reading people. Maybe it’s too much to ask for since I still haven’t completely mastered that yet but hopefully I’m good enough that he teaches me something new.

    Old man Cheng was someone who left Wei more intrigued every time they met. A man of many skills, vast experience and of mysterious origin. All of them were great qualities for a person to have in Weis opinion but he was probably one of the only few who thought so.

    Cheng Chao was not liked by the nobility. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say they wished him dead.

    But there was nothing they could do to him without permission from the royal family. This irked the nobles even more so because they knew even their own businesses depended on continued dealings with the merchants all of who were bosom friends of Cheng Chao. A year ago, he had become the De facto head of the merchants who were rumored to be forming some sort of coalition.

    Knowing that he would most likely find Cheng wherever the most merchants were Wei continued advancing through the throng of people towards the merchants ‘area’. Although both the nobles and merchants were gathered for their overall importance there was still a noticeable divide. An amicable interaction between a merchant and a noble who had no business relationship was an almost impossible site - and it showed. There were a few nobles and merchants who were conversing together but the rest of the room was clearly divided into two halves.

    The moment Wei walked into the merchant’s side of the room there was a slight change that occurred in the room. Nobles and merchants alike adjusted their postures slightly to get a better look at him – all while seeming casual. Or at least some tried to. Wei clearly noticed, their movements not escaping his keen sight. Almost instinctively Wei sent more of his mental qi coursing through himself to increase his focus. Smiling pleasantly at any merchant who looked his way, Wei was could feel many burning gazes boring into his medallion. Why the hell did I wear it on the outside today?

    Ignoring the gazes with a calm indifference Wei perked up when he saw a merchant who was old Cheng’s acquaintances. His name was Ah Hai, he was a fat man with a thin mustache. He wore a luxurious robe and an even more luxurious hat. Smoking from his pipe he looked like any other successful money grubbing merchant but Wei knew him for what he really was – a criminal who was involved with illegal smuggling and other unsavory acts. At this moment, however he was only someone who knew where old Cheng was, nothing more nothing less and Wei fully intended to get that information.

    Just as he was about to start moving towards the fat merchant Wei felt a feather-light tap on his shoulder, he turned around to see Lady Seer looking past him with an expression that told him she was clearly distracted and in a hurry “I need to leave this gathering, someone very influential just gave me very important information that is very time sensitive I need to act on it now.” Lady Seer said. Wei saw that Lady Seer had barely been paying any attention while speaking to him.

     “Ok,” Wei replied simply.

    In truth Wei was touched, a few months ago when they started living together Lady Seer was very aloof to him and treated him like a stranger. That she told him beforehand instead of just vanishing without a word showed the regard she had for him. Very few people had Lady Seer’s regard and Wei didn’t intend to take it for granted. Out of idle curiosity Wei tracked Lady Seer and instantly noticed she wasn’t heading towards the exit. How interesting! So, Lady Seer can access a side exit? Or does she have another way to exit.

    Leaving Lady Seer to her business Wei headed towards Ah Hai. However, the moment Wei started approaching, he saw Ah Hai signal the two muscular merchants next to him, they quickly formed a wall in between Wei and Ah Hai. I thought it was odd that those muscle men were merchants. Who would’ve thought Ah Hai has big enough balls to bring in disguised bodyguards. He really is brazen. Well, while ballsy it’s a useless move. In the palace, no matter how many weapons or bodyguards he brings a single wrong move and he’s dead.

    Not worried that Ah Hai would try anything Wei continued forward until he was at a ‘polite’ distance. He probably doesn’t know me and has no interest in talking. I should be as straight-forward as possible-he won’t appreciate any small talk “Mister Ah Hai could you please let me know where old Cheng is?” Wei asked politely. To his surprise the two bodyguards moved out of the way and Ah Hai answered him in a dismissive tone “he left a little while back with a lady friend, said he had more important things to do than go to a meeting he was already told about, now please leave I am expecting someone to come to negotiate any mom—“.

    Wei never even heard the end of the sentence, he was already heading towards the exit with hurried steps. His heart beat thundered and his breath was labored. Wei could feel his sickness acting up, to make things worse his mental qi was had started buzzing angrily again. He was having trouble staying on his feet, but Wei didn’t care stumbling like a drunk he tried to keep the exit in his sight. At this moment, he deeply felt the lack of his walking stick. How could I be so stupid. Lady Seer and old Cheng are the smartest and most cunning people I know and they both aren’t present. Something is off about this meeting. I have to get out of here!

    Despite feeling like he would keel over at any moment Wei continued his rush toward the exit, ignoring the angry exclamations and outraged gasps that occurred when he bumped into someone with no apology or word of excuse. But his rudeness was paying off, he was almost at the exit. Seeing the exit in front of him was like a shining beacon, a miracle that Wei was glad to see, he was almost out of the throne room and whatever dangers it held.

    Alas it was not to be.

    A clear and loud voice rang out encompassing the entire room. “His royal highness Chen An ‘The Bold’ has arrived. Long live the king.” Repeating his chant, the entire room was filled with the exclamations of ‘long live the king’. The King entered from the main entrance, accompanied by his entourage looking majestic and commanding. His entrance heralded an increase in the chants.

    The moment the king entered Wei’s mental qi started shifting and buzzing angrily. Chanting along with the rest of the room Wei felt regret for it was too late.

    The danger was the king, and Wei had no way to leave now that the king had arrived. 

  • edited July 2017
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    Comment and Enjoy!

    Chapter 10: The Kings Plot

    The entire room of elites grew quiet in the face of the king’s arrival. The casual conversations and business talks were cut off immediately as everyone found a place to be seated. Their eyes followed the king as he sauntered to his throne and sat. Wei suppressed his pain and once more cursed his sickness, he scanned the room and found a seat for himself at the back of the room, out of sight and at a perfect vantage to observe most of the room. Wei was put on guard due to King Chen An’s uncharacteristic behavior. Even letting people sit in his presence. What is the king planning?

    Before he witnessed the people sitting Wei had subconsciously ignored the chairs that lined the walls. I don’t care about anyone else, but I hope this meeting doesn’t have anything to do with me. There’s only a month or so before the awakening ceremony I can’t let anything stop me before then. Sitting down in a plush chair Wei observed the king, trying to glean any small clue from him. Knowledge is power and even the slightest foreknowledge of what was to come could be of tremendous help to Wei.

    King Chen An was dressed in vibrant red robes that were simple and clean, made of coarse material – something you would expect from a well off commoner, completely unfit for royalty but no one said a word.

     His beard was trimmed into a small goatee and a glimmering golden crown sat upon his greying hair. His throne was made of a type of material that was black as obsidian yet had none of its shine. The throne was raised high above allowing the king to look down on everything in the room from above. It was a blatant tactic to establish his dominance over his subjects - but an effective one. The king looked at all of his subjects his dark gaze sharp and unkind. The atmosphere became heavy, everyone waiting for the king to say something but no one daring enough to speak to him without being spoken to.

    Wei watched them cower, their gazes flicking away time and again in fear. Not one of the nobles could even hold his gaze for a moment. Real life is so different than books, none of these nobles are the cunning and charismatic nobles in the books. I couldn’t imagine these nobles criticizing the king if showed up to court naked, let alone do anything as daring planning a rebellion. Wei coughed hard, pain erupting from every part of his body. Whenever his sickness flared up every small thing became more painful. His sickness usually felt like a constant ache, a feeling of weakness, but when it flared up it was a hundred times worse. His eyes blurred, his ears rang and his bone creaked from the smallest strain. His insides sometimes burned with pain so fierce that he felt like they would just stop working and he would die right then and there.

    Recovering from his cough, Wei took in a deep breath of sweet air gratefully, he felt his sickness die down and turned back to watch the king, hoping that he hadn’t missed anything vital during his ‘episode’.  The king stood up his face resolute. “the cultivators have sent a messenger,” he said face grim. There was a small bit of commotion at that, never before had the awakening ceremony occurred early.

    “They are sending representatives from the most powerful sects to conduct the awakening ceremony. They will be arriving in two days, in two days all preparations must be complete so that the ceremony can happen with no delay,” the king continued.

    “Since we are going to need to work extremely hard to make the deadline, I came here today to deal with an issue that I planned to resolve later but have been forced by circumstances to address now.” He said with a sigh sounding regretful.

    It was a ploy Wei knew, the king had never sounded regretful in all the times Wei had heard him speak. The only thing Wei could do was to try to avoid getting involved.

    For now, he would wait and see.


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    For the last three years I’ve put in so much effort, today I put myself at ease once more. A king shouldn’t need to put in so much effort alone. Alas, everyone thinks of themselves first and nowadays loyalty is scarcely found. After tonight will I be happy and free once more.

    Or was the very freedom I sought a lie?

    A king who takes orders. Is he really a king? Nevertheless, it is sadly the harsh reality. The cultivators will forever remain high above the mortals. Due to their immense power, it is only right. While I follow the orders of the cultivators I will never follow the orders of another mortal.

    And for that, the traitorous nobles who are trying to usurp my power will be culled here and now!

    For as long as he could remember Chen An was satisfied. He was the second prince of the Kingdom of Chen and whatever he wanted was his. The only bleak aspect of his life was the lack of a mother. The Queen had died giving birth to him and because of this his father had always treated him very coldly. They weren’t even on speaking terms most of the time. Only his brother was close to him, his only true family.

    As a member of royalty Chen An enjoyed the finest things life had to offer, while ordinary people dreamt of what they would do if they could, Chen An spend his days thinking of what to do next. All of his whims and wants were all made reality, simply because of his birth.

    Because he was royalty.

    He visited the finest restaurants, enjoyed the most beautiful women and visited the finest establishments for music and entertainment. As a second son, he had no obligations except to uphold the prestige of the royal family. Life was at an all-time high for Chen An, he had married the top beauty of Chen as his wife and she had birthed him a wonderful young heir. Everything was going perfectly.

    On the birthday of his third son Chen Zi tragedy struck. His brother and father were found dead in a secret meeting room. Chen An never expected to become king. While it was obvious that if anything ever happened to his brother he would become king, he had never even considered it to be a possibility until that moment. His brother had always been an inspiring figure in his eyes. He was a genius, the best person to lead the Kingdom of Chen – to do anything really.

    And what about himself. He had no special talents and was content to simply enjoy life with no worries. He was not worthy to be king.

    But he would have to try. For the Kingdom of Chen. And for his big brother.

    On the day of his coronation Chen An promised himself that he would try his best to be a great ruler. That very night a maid brought him a letter. It was from his brother, a detailed account of every single important fact that he felt Chen An needed to know. Chief amongst was the covert actions of the nobility.

    His father in his short-sightedness had allowed the nobles to gain a foothold in the court. His brother had fiercely opposed this leading to his death. His brother also indicated that the cultivators had always supported the royal family of Chen due to their obedience. He encouraged Chen An to use his powers as king to the fullest and that as long as he didn’t disobey the cultivators he could cripple the nobility with no repercussions.

    His first meeting with the cultivators was a memory he wished to forget to this day. It was the first time he had bowed to anyone. It was a clear reminder of the world order. Cultivators ruled over mortals, that was a simple fact.

    The Enlightened Realm was a world of ‘might is right’. Cultivators stood above him, but no noble ever would!

    From that day on Chen An was completely dedicated to suppressing the nobility. He introduced laws that were blatantly geared towards limiting the powers of the nobility. He was the first king in the history of Chen to completely oppose the nobility. His wholehearted dedication to stamping out the traitorous members of nobility had gained him a title ‘the bold’.

    It was a title meant to mock his reckless approach. Many officials, nobles and merchants believed that without the support and connections of the nobility the royal family of Chens’s rulership of the kingdom would come to an end.

    He paid them no mind. He would establish a dynasty that would put the nobility where they belonged! As loyal dogs to the royal family, never to gain power and glory again.

    It had taken many years but finally he had pulled it off. Every single one of the steps had been difficult for an inexperienced and spoiled second prince, but he had no choice. He was now the King of Chen and to be king he had to rule and control! He couldn’t let the nobles who were so blatant about killing his brother continue to have their way. It took plenty of time but Chen An did it, all to fulfill his dream. Gaining contacts, training spies and eliminating as many weaknesses as possible.  All in pursuit of being in control. To have revenge for his brother and establish his dream dynasty.

    He had swayed many of the merchants and low members of nobility and even had one spy in the so called ‘high council’- the most powerful of the nobility with business and connections in every part of the Kingdom of Chen. About seventy percent of the merchants and nobility were his ‘loyal’ followers. They followed him out of ambition, they believed that after he dealt with the most powerful nobles they would fill their place. They were dead wrong. By the time he was done they would be absolutely loyal or they too would be replaced

    The other thirty percent were his true oppositions and also the ones who caused his brother’s death.

    The ambitious traitors – the high council.

    Ideally, he would’ve liked nothing more than to have them turn on each other and slowly pick them off one by one but time waits for no man. Just a week ago his spy in the high council had reported that the council had finally managed to make a decision to get rid of him. They wanted to use the current low standing he had in the eyes of the cultivators to replace him. Accumulating all the power and experience he possessed had taken him much time and effort, so his orders from the cultivators was done much less efficiently than before. They were going to use that to justify replacing him with a group of people (the high council) who could share the burden of completing the cultivators orders much quicker than his current speed. This had forced him to speed up his plans.

    But he had to do it.

    Today was the day he implemented his plan. To get his revenge and bring the nobility completely under his control.

    Today I will paint the floor red with the blood of arrogant traitors. This will serve as a lesson for all who come after. The Kingdom of Chen belongs to the royal family of Chen!

    Chen An stood from his throne and looked at his enemies. He could see them pretend to cower, not meeting his eyes in supposed fear. They were fools. He saw them, saw their arrogance, their assurance of their safety. The knowledge that no matter what reason there was for his meeting it wasn’t worth their time.

    Chen An saw their confidence. Now I will tear it down. Every last piece of confidence and assurance will be destroyed this day.

    Feeling a pleasant warmth in his chest Chen An felt that his coming words were set in stone – an inevitable truth. My words will mean their deaths. “the cultivators have sent a messenger,” Chen An said ignoring the small sparks of conversation they set off. “They are sending representatives from the most powerful sects to conduct the awakening ceremony. They will be arriving in two days, in two days all preparations must be complete so that the ceremony can happen with no delay. Since we are going to need to work extremely hard to make the deadline, I came here today to deal with an issue that I planned to resolve later but have been forced by circumstances to address now.” Here it was the moment he had been waiting for.

    He could feel the tension slowly rising. He waited until it reached a breaking point and then spoke over the labored breathing of his subjects “It is my duty as the ruler of this kingdom to uphold justice and work for the welfare and betterment of the people, every one of my subjects has a role in the kingdom and the greatest role is that of the nobles and the merchants. All of the most important issues are dealt with, with the help of you, my most hard-working subjects.”

    He could see it, the smug faces of the high council and the excited faces of those loyal to him, however much they tried to conceal it he could tell. Its amazing how much more you can see when you already have the information.

    “However, there have been some among the nobility and merchants who have been undermining my authority,” sharp gasps echoed throughout the room. “Allying with criminal elements and causing problems for the kingdom. Today I will execute them so that stability and order may be maintained and so that the criminal element they have introduced will cease to function. I have all the information of their accomplices and they are being dealt with right now by the imperial enforcers,” Chen An’s voice echoed through ought the room.

    “Every single one of the people I had personal meetings with over the last month please move to the front, right next to my throne immediately. Everyone else remain where you are, “king Chen An ordered. The loyal nobles and merchants hastened to obey. Not questioning anything as they scurried to surround the king in a crowd, they were kept several feet away from the king by the imperial guard.

     Fifty or so nobles and merchants remained huddled together, looking out of place and very isolated. At that moment, an old noble from the remaining elites stepped forward. Finally, you show yourself Luo Lei. “Your majesty we have been up for a while waiting for you and it is very late, how about we convene tomorrow to settle this matter? Luo Lei tried to persuade Chen An. Sure enough my diligent planning has finally circumvented his spy network. Never have I heard him speak such weak words. Tomorrow. As if, I won’t give you the slightest chance old man. “Luo Lei you were an advisor to my father and a great asset to the Kingdom of Chen but sadly you were lured by the promise of riches and power and betrayed me and the entire kingdom.” Chen An rebuked.

    “Your majesty! That is definitely not true, please think on this topic more before you cause irreparable damage to the Kingdom. I will be more than happy to consult with you on the topic of the traitors, but for now I must be going,” Luo Lei said expression undisturbed, sounding as if everything was fine.

    This old man truly has unending amounts of arrogance. Even at this moment he isn’t worried. Does he think I won’t act because of his contingency plans?

    He doesn’t know the lengths I am willing to go to.

    When someone becomes assured in their own intelligence and planning they become blind to any chance of failure. I should take him as an example lest I be on the other side of this situation in the future.

    Look at him calmly turning his back on me. Today you have miscalculated old bastard! Now despair for your death is at hand.

    Every eye in the room was on king Chen An watching how he was going to react to this slight to his authority. Was Luo Lei’s hold on the Kingdom of Chen as tight as he thought. Chen An’s next decision would decide the future of Chen. When Luo Lei neared the exit Chen An made his move.

    Without a word Chen An raised his right hand and pointed at the back of Luo Lei in a casual manner. Immediately a swooshing sound cut through the air. An arrow struck Luo Lei right in the back. He stumbled and fell, barely catching himself with his hands. He tried to reach back to pull out the arrow but it was evident that the archer had chosen his spot wisely. The position of the

    He turned back towards the king face slack in disbelief “ b-b-but I am th— “ the king pointed again and a second arrow impaled him right in the head instantly killing him.

    Shrill cries and shrieks of protests filled the air as the nobles and merchants of the high council saw their leader killed as easily as livestock. Almost as if Luo Lei’s death was a signal, the high council members scattered trying to head towards all of the exits simultaneously. A few even headed towards secret passages that they thought only they knew of.

    “Cover all the exits. Not a single one of these traitors will escape today,” King Chen An yelled his voice filled with righteous anger. All of the loyalists looked at each other in confusion. Who was the king talking to? The imperial guards were nowhere near fast nor numerous to stop all of the fleeing traitors.

    King Chen An features however was calm as marble. The fleeing traitors were delighted to see the inaction of the imperial guards. Their hope of escape however was short lived as men in dark armor seemingly appeared out of nowhere and blocked every single exit.

    These are my elite enforcers. They will leave no survivors.

    By the end of tonight the high councils will be no more. And my long-awaited revenge will be complete.

    Brother rest in peace. I will lead the Kingdom of Chen in your place. The royal family of Chen will never fall.

     


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    Chapter 11: A Question Amidst A Massacre


    Wei stood stiff in between a fat noble and an effeminate looking merchant. They squished him from both sides trying to stay as far away as they could from the men in the dark armor. The loyalists were staying as close to the king’s throne as possible but they still maintained a healthy distance from the imperial guards.

    Luckily escaping the encirclement hadn’t been difficult.

    From the fiercely burning hatred that the king was no longer even trying to conceal We deduced that every single one of his targets were known and accounted for. When the king had ordered those, who had meetings with him to come to his side Wei had immediately moved along with them.

    Clearly the king had been planning this for a while and had clear targets in mind. There were about one hundred and fifty armed enforcers covering all exits. They all clearly had designated targets. With a few easy strides Wei moved along with the rest of the loyalist under the protection of the king.

    The air was still and the entire room held a teetering balance. Violence could erupt at any time.

     The traitorous nobles and merchants were surrounded. Boxed in all sides.

    “Cut them down! They are the last of the traitors, their families have already been dealt with to the last man. Show them no mercy,” the king ordered. His words sealing their fates.

    He already killed their families did he really have to tell them about it in their last moments? This is why I don’t like King Chen An. His needless cruelty will come back to bite him one day.

    The enforcers moved slowly, step by step – seeming in no particular hurry, mentally tormenting the traitors. They traitor were indecisive about whether they should fight or make another bid to escape. Their hesitance cost them greatly. From the beginning Wei knew how the coming confrontation would end. He could see the fear practically pouring off of them. They were like skittish animal’s ready to bolt at the slightest movement.

    The enforcers faces were filled with a deranged fanaticism, no anticipation or dread was visible on their faces. Wei found this to be very disturbing.

    Wei really hated things he didn’t understand. He started to pay close attention to every move of the enforcers. They didn’t move, simply grinning seemingly idly waiting for something.

     This didn’t seem to correlate with what he had heard about people whose only job was to kill. The consensus was that usually these people either derived pleasure from killing – the psychos or were completely detached from it and viewed it as simply a job – the professional. At first glance Wei thought that they may have been ‘professionals’ but upon looking a bit longer he noticed that they were too excited.

    They were eager to start.

    It showed from the twitching of their hands and the constant flicker of their eyes in a single direction. So, they have a leader. If I wasn’t watching closely I wouldn’t have noticed he doesn’t have anything different about him that sets him apart. Even his uniform is standard.

    Interesting. Why is he the leader?

    Just as Wei was observing the leader of the enforcers it happened.

    A break in the stalemate.

    A young merchant wearing light yellow robes made a run for it. Dashing with surprising speed he headed towards a side exit with only two enforcers guarding it. He had not made it ten steps when one of the enforcers moved to intercept him. The enforcer moved with a strange gait every step seemed to put him directly in the young merchant’s path. The young merchant tried to shake him off but quickly found out it was impossible.

    Seeing no other choice, the young merchant resolutely drew his sword. Wei could see it in his eyes, the determination and will to never give up without a fight. His conviction.

    He intends to take the enforcer down with him. Wei found himself watching the face-off with baited breath, hoping for the young man to overcome the odds, to show him something spectacular, a miracle. Something that could convince Wei that he wasn’t only lucky. That other people could change their fates too.

    The merchant lunged and the enforcer blocked his sword with one of his own. The exchange was loud the clanging of the two swords filling the room.

    There was no second exchange.

    A sick squelch sounded out suddenly, the young merchant had been stabbed right through the back, the second enforcer having circled around the moment the young man’s eyes were off him. Wei saw him smile, his eyes filled with glee. “At least pay attention when your surrounded ya dumb fuck. Do you think this is an honor duel or something? Every one of you bastards listen up. You have to make this a bit of a challenge for us otherwise it would be very boring. An easy victory has no meaning.  Understand! Now who’s next.” He shouted looking around eagerly for his next victim. With a slight grunt, he pulled his sword from the young man’s chest, the movement looking very practiced and natural.

    With nothing supporting him the young man fell down with a small thud. The enforcer paid him no mind seemingly preoccupied with the blood on his blade. His sword was covered in crimson blood, every couple of seconds a drop of blood would form at the tip and fall.

    Drip. Drip. Drip.

    The young man’s death set off the rest of the traitors. They all drew their weapons and charged towards the enforcers. Trying to make their deaths and that of their children mean something. Anything was preferable to standing around and doing nothing. Their only desire now was to try to kill their executioners.


    Hm. In the end only power matters first and foremost. Especially when there are people like this in the world willing to kill at a single world from a monarch who’s never fought a day in his life.

    But that too was is a  kind of power.

    The throne room quickly devolved into chaos. The clashing and clanking of weapons mixed with the wails and cries of the dying to form an eerie melody. The fighting was quick and dirty. The traitors were being killed like curs. Not a whit of mercy or even swift deaths were granted in the savagery of the enforcers onslaught. Men, women, the elderly all fell before them like wheat before a scythe. None were spared.

    And from above his lavish throne the king watched every moment with a genuinely happy smile. His face shining like that of a man released of a heavy burden. All the while the traitors continued to be whittled down. Dying ignoble deaths while their killers smiled their armor stained red.

    While the traitors panicked and begged entreaties to the king the enforcers kept on butchering everything in their way. However, this alone wasn’t enough to explain the utter destruction of the traitors. Logically amidst the chaos at least two or three enforcers should have fallen, however the results spoke of something completely different.

    Not a single enforcer had died. The worst any of them had was a deep stab wound in his shoulder and that was more likely due to luck than anything else.

    The biggest reason Wei realized was due to skill and mindset. Most of the nobles fought with flowery moves designed more to look impressive than to deal actual damage. They also never regained their composure, from the first death until the current situation the traitors had been panicking. Meanwhile the enforcers used any means necessary to kill their targets. No mercy or hesitation was shown and every blow was a killing blow.

    The fighting started to die down as the last of the traitors were disposed of in increasingly grotesque and creative ways.

    All the while Wei watched them. Especially the leader. Early on Wei had realized why the leader was the leader.

    Simply put he was an excellent killer. He was just very good at it. Whereas sometimes one of the enforcers struggled to make a quick kill due to interference or some other circumstance. Their leader who Wei had mentally dubbed Smoke moved like a snake every one of his blows lethal. He seemed to be trying to perfect some type of movement in battle, but Wei with his meager experience couldn’t tell what.

    In his eyes smoke was one of the most terrifying mortal he had met up to date. I wonder if he could take Lady Seer he thought absently and almost laughed at the notion. Oops better be more contentious laughing at a massacre is not acceptable Wei he reprimanded himself.

    It was a disturbed face that Wei realized that he felt nothing at the sight of the ensuing massacre. When I seriously need to look into this heavenly treasure it is changing me more and more every day. But I’d still take who I am now over who I was before any day.

    Still, anything that affects my mind needs to be thoroughly understood or else it’ll rally screw me over one day.

    A few minutes later the last of the traitors died impaled through the mouth and out of his rear like a spit pig. Wei found that to be in poor taste especially considering how fat the man in question was. Immediately all the enforcers dropped to one knee in tandem leaving only the leader standing.

    “We have disposed of all the traitors your majesty. I hope we have met your expectations,” the leader said voice reverent.

    “You have done well, I am very impressed by your men Shuang Min. You have exceeded all of my expectations. I will reward you accordingly,” King Chen An said voice filled with barely concealed joy.

    “All we require is your thanks your majesty. That is more than enough,” Shuang Min replied sounding even more zealous.

    “We will discuss later, for now stand aside, Imperial guards, clean up this mess.” The King ordered imperiously. “Yes, your majesty,” they replied and head off towards the edge of the hall and the bodies respectively.

     Watching this exchange Wei felt intrigued. What could Chen An whose a fairly run of the mill king have done to earn the devout loyalty of such a dangerous individual. According to the rumors King Chen An is a reckless king who cares little for the rumors about him. Unlike the majority of Chen’s throughout recent history who valued their reputation above all else. He is neither skilled in strategy, politics or combat so how has he acquired the loyalty of this dangerous individual and his highly capable men?

    Wei’s eyes darted between Chen An and Shuang Min quickly. Seeing the wide smile on King Chen An’s face Wei couldn’t withhold his curiosity. Weighing the chances Wei decided that risking it was worth it. It was a simple plan and to the point.

    Since the king is in such a great mood after crushing his enemies.

     I’ll just ask him directly.






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    Chapter 12: The Ultimatum


    Wei’s burning question died when a dismembered corpse was dragged right in front of him, the imperial guard dragging it looked like he would rather be doing anything other than corpse clean up duty. Since Wei had been paying attention to the king and the leader of the enforcers he had missed most of the cleanup being done by the imperial guards.

    There were large pools of blood, the only evidence of the massacre that had just occurred. The pristine floor of the throne was covered in streaks from the many bodies that had been dragged and disposed of ‘somewhere’.

    The sight of bodies being callously dragged like trash woke Wei up from his reverie. Well, that would have ended badly. Standing out from the crowd today, after what just happened is not a good idea. Wei reaffirmed his decision in thinking twice before doing or saying something life threatening, ever. Now that the massacre was over all of the loyalists started slowly moving away from each other. No one wanted to admit how scared they had been, so naturally they acted like nothing had happened.

    The surviving nobles and merchants faced the king with slouched postures and stiff faces. Originally, they planned on using the elimination of the high council to replace them and gain even more power, now that plan was seeming very unlikely. The entire throne room was silent everyone was waiting – for whatever the king would do next.

    King Chen An got off of his throne and came down the steps two at a time face beaming like a happy child. His face seemed to have regained some of its youth and his eyes shone with vigor. “Finally, those who plotted against me and my kingdom have been vanquished, moving forward everything will be better. The Kingdom of Chen will prosper and all within it will also prosper. This I promise you,” the king said his voice barely containing his glee.

    “However, I absolutely will never ever tolerate traitors. They are a disease, a rot that infests everything they touch. They are backstabbers and the type of people I hate the most,” he continued his visage becoming grim, his voice filled with venom. “I will NOT have traitors in my court, no matter how insignificant, treachery is still treachery and treason is still treason.

    In my kingdom, there is only one end for traitors. Death. The only thing traitors deserve.” He shouted eyes full of something malicious and quite mad. “Is that understood?” he asked looking to the remaining nobles and merchants who were ‘loyal’. Stammers and panicked yells of acknowledgement filled the room as everyone strove to be the first to pledge their never-ending loyalty to Chen An.

    Wei watched all of this, pretending to mouth allegiances of loyalty while still observing the king. What will he do know? From the looks of him he has no intention of letting this end here. Another major flaw of his, he never knows when to stop. People like him usually end up with horrible endings. But lo and behold he is a king! How wonderful for him and how shitty for his subjects. I’m really tired of standing here waiting in suspense for whatever idea the king is thinking up right now. I should’ve just left with Lady Seer.

    With a tired sigh Wei fought off his exhaustion and resisted the urge to go sit on one of the very inviting and comfortable looking chairs. The king paced around the throne room stroking his beard, appearing to be deep in thought. Suddenly he stopped midstride and straightened his back. Quickly he scanned the crowd of loyalists looking hard for something. Finally, he seemed to give up, still scanning but not as attentively as before King Chen called out “Chen Ming, Chen Ping, Chen Zi. What are you waiting for? Hurry up and come here.”

    Immediately the three princes emerged from the crowd not even glancing at each other, without a word they stood behind their father. Seeing his sons behind him a huge smile appeared on the king’s face. “The royal family of Chen are the rightful rulers of Chen, I expect all of you to show true loyalty to my family as befits its station as the rulers and protectors of the kingdom. Will that be a problem?” he asked in a genial voice.

    The throne room once more was full of profuse acknowledgments of loyalty raising a loud ruckus and causing Wei to smile in amusement. I’ve never seen such insincere ass-kissing in my life. But it is funny to watch. His slight amusement was snuffed out very quickly when he saw the knowing smile on the third prince Chen Zi’s face. It was a knowing smile, smug in the face of the loyalists’ ignorance.

    “I’m very happy to see how loyal and thoughtful you all are. It sets my heart at ease knowing I have all of you to help and support me, as we all endeavor to raise the Kingdom of Chen to its rightful place at the top of our continent,” he said smiling widely. Hearing this the loyalists started to relax, all around Wei could see people regaining their composure, some put on apathetic faces while others showed their relief plainly, grinning happily and sighing in relief.

    “However,” the king interrupted their rejoicing. “Words are well and good, but at the end of the day they are simply words. Without the conviction and determination to prove them true they are useless! So today, my loyal subject you will demonstrate your loyalty without empty promises, instead you will do so with irrefutable actions!”

    Wei felt a strong sense of unease what could he possibly be getting at. The surrounding noble’s and merchants seemed to share his unease, finally someone from amidst the crowd quickly questioned “what actions?” The question echoed out in the throne room seeming to convey what everyone was thinking at the moment. Even the enforcers had slightly curious look on their faces. So, this part is obviously unscripted if even the enforcers don’t know about it. So only the royal family does? Wait a minute! The first and third prince seem to be in the know but what about the second prince. Why is he not even paying attention?

    The second prince of Chen stood silently his features obscured by his long hair. He stood as still as a statue and was the only member of the royal family who carried a weapon. A long sword with a beautiful green sheath was strapped to his back.

    The second prince of Chen was a figure clouded in mystery. The crown prince’s position for the throne seemed secure but Wei had heard whispers in the gambling dens that the second prince was dangerously influential and that he may one day wind up taking the throne, even with the evident animosity between him and the rest of the royal family.

    Wei stopped paying attention to the seemingly daydreaming second prince and refocused instead on the king, but not before briefly flicking his gaze towards the crown prince whose eyes were closed – seemingly in concentration and the third prince who still had the same annoying smug smile on his face.

    “The action you need to prove your sincerity is simple, kneel down on both knees and acknowledge your eternal allegiance to the royal family. That is all.” The king words immediately silenced the entire room. Every single person was shocked by the exaggerated nature of the king’s loyalty test. Why was it such an exaggerated test? The king truly lived up to his title the ‘bold’. No one else would have thought of such a plan after just having massacred a bunch of his enemies. Most had expected him to be more open to negotiation after the council members were killed. They were wrong, dead wrong!

    Here and now the King wanted to clearly gain complete control of the court. So that no other ‘council’ could ever emerge again.

    A few people clearly resigned themselves to death knowing that they would never kneel to another mortal regardless of whether they were king or not. While the minority prepared themselves to die the majority of the loyalists prepared to kneel down.

    It didn’t matter that it was humiliating or that it was unprecedented. All that mattered was there choice and many of the loyalists wanted to live. As Wei watched the people resigning themselves to either dying or humiliating themselves he felt rather sad. Whether it was due to personal choice or just a coincidence everyone in the throne was having their fate tied to that of Chen An in some way.Whether it was due to pride, cowardice or just self-preservation everyone was forced into making one of two decisions on this day. But I won’t be!

    Again, many people are suffering due to the whims of one man. I know that this an occurrence everywhere. Those with power rule those without. 

    It still doesn’t stop me from feeling sad or my heart from aching. Without the mental coin could I too have been so easily trapped in a corner.

    Everyone wants to live. It is human nature nevertheless I have no intention of either dying due to pride or living in humiliation. I have something none of them do, mental qi!

    And with it I will leave this room with both pride and life intact.

    Because my fate is my own. And no one can force me to choose between two shitty choices.
  • edited August 2017
    Sorry for the delay.

    Any and all feedback is appreciated.
    Comment and Enjoy!


    Chapter 13: Interference

    Wei was alone in his thoughts. Once more his sickness was acting up, his insides burned and his head hurt but he didn’t let it distract him. He tried to ignore the shaking of his hands. He thrummed his fingers in a set rhythm and clenched his fingers every once in a while, but no matter what he couldn’t lessen the nervousness and anxiety he felt.

    Calm. Calm. As long as I focus I can think up a feasible plan no problem.

    The clock was ticking, soon he would have to decide on a plan. And it had to be a good one. Otherwise if he made a mistake, well he had seen the speed of the enforcers, they would have no problem wiping out the rest of the room and himself before he could take down even a couple of them. His mental qi at the moment was nowhere near fast enough to save him. The greatest advantage he had was that only he could see his mental qi. The question was how best to use that.

    The simplest option would be to just shatter the mind of the king. Chen An was a detestable person and Wei would shed no tears if he was mentally broken. But it was clear as day that if the king just stopped and became a vegetable, the loyalists including himself would have a hard time avoiding being imprisoned or worse. I should make it seem like it is happening to everyone, first a noble, then an enforcer, a merchant and then finally the king. It will seem entirely random and very terrifying! Hopefully. After witnessing that everyone will scatter and leave. Leaving me free to make my exit. Whatever happens in the aftermath has nothing to do with me.

    But who? Who should I condemn to being mentally broken?

    Thinking carefully Wei contemplated deeply on his choice. Do I really have to condemn someone due to an idiotic king? I don’t even know who it should be? Those who are the most infamous are either the most careless or are just so despicable that you can hear about them no matter where you are. Both types of people are bad but…

    Looking at the fat merchant Ah Hai, Wei questioned whether he could go through with it. Does he really deserve to die? Doubtless there are more despicable people but I don’t know them. I can only take action here and now to save myself.

    If the king is adamant as I expect he will be then I will have to do it. The entire situation was absurd. Coming along with Lady Seer today was supposed to be a final outing that they shared together before he became a cultivator. Now Lady Seer had left and he was left in this despicable situation. He felt sick to his stomach imagining the empty blank faces that would be left in his wake.

    It was bad enough seeing a spirit beast that only had mediocre intelligence turned into a mindless thing but a human is going to probably be even worse. Looking around the throne room and seeing the people – who would be crippled by him everything seemed to gain a surreal quality to it, he could feel his heart beating faster like a drum in his chest, his temple was throbbing and he was finding it impossible to breathe. The lights in the bright room seemed to dim and he could see nonexistent shadows dancing along the walls. I have to stop panicking. I’m hallucinating, and rather vividly at that.

    Am I having a panic attack? Me! Wei thought incredulously. Never in his life had he cared enough about an issue or thought about one long enough to even worry for long let alone have a panic attack. But here he was worrying over the fates of random scumbag nobles and merchants. Since when was I such a saint. When it comes down to I have to choose. Me or five scummy people. An easy choice.

    I choose myself. I will always choose myself first. Mind made up Wei concentrated on pulling his refined mental qi out of his body. The pain of his illness and his anxiety were both pushed into the back of his mind. Right now, he needed all of his focus if his plan was going to work.

    “Your time is up! Those of you who are loyal, kneel and acknowledge your allegiance. Everyone who doesn’t will be cut down. Enforcers ready yourselves! anyone not kneeling in the span of three breaths cut them down.” The king had clearly pushed forward the time allotted but who could call him out on it?

    One after another proud and privileged members of the upper class kneeled in front of the king their haughty faces full of shame. For every person who kneeled the king’s eyes grew brighter a deranged smile seemingly permanently etched on his features. Three breaths of time passed almost instantly in Wei’s eyes and he readied himself mentally, his refined mental qi roiled ready to be used at any time. The enforcers quickly went into action rushing forth in a competition of who could kill one of the handful of the people stupid enough to disobey the king. The enforcers at the back stayed where they were. Whether that was because someone had to block the exits or because they knew they wouldn’t be able to catch up to their comrades. Wei didn’t know.

    But he had much bigger problems. His plan had been disrupted by the king starting the execution earlier than he expected. Now he would have to fend of the enforcers and escape on foot. For someone of his physical capabilities it was basically impossible. His future had just become much less uncertain. So much for my master plan. The king couldn’t even stick to the plan that he devised. What an utter idiot.

    While he was bemoaning the ruining of his master plan Wei had still been paying attention to each of the enforcers near him. Almost all of the enforcers were ignoring the back since most of the people were kneeling, only the odd person like Wei stood out like a sore thumb. noticed two enforcers were rushing towards him clearly competing to see who could kill him first. This is the moment where I have to remain calm. Although they have the advantage of numbers. I will still prevail. Because I have an invisible weapon. One none of you can hide from. Come just a little bit closer. The enforcers all had impressive speed, far faster than the likes of Wei could match with his sickness addled body. But, he didn’t intend to compete with speed. At least not of the body.

    Wei took a single step back and focused his mental qi preparing to unleash it in one burst and turn the two enforcers into mentally broken husks. At that exact moment everyone stopped moving

    Two different sets of footsteps accompanied by the rattling of some material interrupted the massacre that was about to begin. Everyone froze. The enforcers listened carefully. Clearly there was something odd about the fact that above all the ruckus of the throne room, mere footsteps could be heard. Four enforcers quickly encircled the King protecting him in a diamond formation.

    Everyone waited, even the enforcers who were mere steps away from there to be targets stopped what they were doing. Seemingly involuntarily. The two enforcers stopped mere steps away from Wei. Looking towards the now identified location of the sounds – the main entrance. As the sounds came closer, the tension within the throne room reached an all-time high.

    For a single instant Wei felt like making his move and attacking them while they were immobilized, some of the enforcers could clearly move but the two in front of him clearly couldn’t. It was clear in the awkward placing of their footing and how they didn’t move even a bit to be more stable.

    It was literally the best scenario that could happen. Immobile, clearly vulnerable targets. This is clearly an opportune moment. I won’t waste. Wei reached for his refined mental qi. Smoothly like he’d done it a thousand times. It was an easy, comfortable feeling.

    However, when he tried to active his refined mental qi, it seemed to move sluggishly, It didn’t disobey him but it was almost as if mental qi was scared.

    Wei immediately stopped. To him his refined mental qi was the highest power he had ever seen. Invisible, quick and directly attacking the most vulnerable part of an enemy.

    The mind.

    But now his best and most formidable weapon was cautioning him. Who on earth was walking towards the throne rooms entrance?

    The footsteps and rattling slowly echoed out until they couldn’t be heard anymore. The enforcers perked up their ears waiting with baited breath for anything to happen, nothing happened. The sound of footsteps and the odd rattling sound completely disappeared, as if having never existed in the first place.

    The sudden quiet was disturbing, no moves were made and the only sound was from the rasping breath of an old man kneeling in a corner. A few long moments passed and everyone was still when one of the enforcers near the entrance made an exasperated sound. Ignoring the stillness of the throne room he pounced towards the entrance planning do deal with whoever was interfering with their orders.

    Trusting in one of their own to settle the issue the rest of the enforcers once more prepared to attack. Readying their weapons, they signaled each other, to move as one. In this strange situation, their well ingrained instincts of only acting after receiving their leaders’ orders had left them.

    They followed their instincts and started to move once more. Intent on fulfilling their mission.

    It was a huge mistake.

    “SETTLE DOWN,” a voice loud enough to shake the foundations of the palace reverberated through the entire palace. Every single person in the palace heard the voice and stopped what they were doing. The enforcer near the entrance however was unperturbed and opened the door.

    “No, don’t.” Yelled Shuang Min not moving from his position beside the king but still having sensed something wrong about the situation. The words had just left his mouth when the enforcers was struck by some force none of the spectators could see. He hurtled through the air sideways for a single moment before hitting the floor with a hard thud and skidding across the floor before coming to a stop before the king and his protectors.

    Seeing his unconscious subordinate, the leader of the enforcer rallied his followers “Protect the king,” he roared and many of the enforcers quickly rushed back to surround the king. Within a few seconds the king was protected by so many enforcers Wei couldn’t even see his gleaming crown.

    The king, his enforcers, those who knelt and those who stood defiant all experienced many different emotions and expectations as they heard the sounds restart again. Everyone felt a feeling of fear that always came with the unknown. But even those who had resigned themselves to gruesome deaths felt a small sense of curiosity. Who were the two people outside? Everyone had their own suspicions but after the massacre everyone had repositioned themselves near the throne room blocking their vision of what had just occurred.

    Wei himself felt sure they were cultivators but there still existed many things he was unaware of so he watched the entrance waiting until ‘they’ came into view eyes filled with curiosity.

    ‘They’ stepped in entering the sight of everyone in the room.

    They were a pair of men. Powerful and radiating a sense of superiority. They were cultivators.

    A swordsman and a monk.

     

     

     




  • Sorry for the long absence. Many changes occured and I completely had no time to write. New year new resolve. WRITE MORE.

    Any and all feedback is appreciated.

    Comment and Enjoy! 


    Chapter 14: Test of Will

     

    The buzz of conversation in the throne room had completely died down. Everyone was completely occupied with staring at the monk and swordsman who had so brazenly entered the throne room. Wei was completely unable to tear his gaze from the two cultivators. And they were cultivators- he knew it in his heart as sure as he knew the sky was blue. They could have been any number of beings but for some reason Wei just knew they were human cultivators.

    It was something about them, he couldn’t place his finger on it but he just knew without a doubt they were what he was going to become; a cultivator. Wei stared at them intently, trying to find what it was about them that made him so sure of what they were. He felt some vague familiarity coming from them that he couldn’t quite place. It annoyed him like a word on the tip of his tongue that he couldn’t quite remember. The two cultivators had entered the room together but know the monk stood in front while the swordsman stood respectfully to his side a few steps behind him.

    The monk was nothing like the monks Wei had read about in his many books. He was young –seeming to be in his twenties. He was not bald; his hair was luxurious and long stopping midway down his back. He had a kind face, with lines that could only be gained from smiling a lot. His eyes were squinted and made it difficult to know where he was looking at. He wore plain robes of black lined white with prayer beads hanging from his left shoulder to the right side of his waist.

    The swordsman was an old man with a long beard and long luxurious white robes. The left sleeve of his robe was cut off at the shoulder, clearly indicating that he only had one hand. He had a strict face and hard eyes. And most glaring of all was the sheer arrogance he radiated. It was especially evident in contrast to the kind, gentle aura the monk exuded. He carried a sword in a blue sheath in his only hand, idly tapping his index finger on it as he waited for the monk to make a move.

    This didn’t surprise Wei as there were many explanations as to why the monk was in charge. In many of the stories he had read about cultivators. Not judging a book by its cover was a common theme. The young monk could be much older than the swordsman or just simply more powerful.

    While the entirety of the throne room stared at them the cultivators made no move of acknowledging them. Instead they scanned the room casually and exchanged glances a few times with each other.

    The swordsman spoke up and addressed the monk sounding annoyed “alright senior, you have proven to me once again that your eyesight is truly unparalleled, here you go.” With a speed too fast for Wei to see clearly a small object shot out from the sheath of the swordsman and zipped toward the monk where it seemingly disappeared.

    “My young friend, to be young is to be ambitious, reckless and daring. However these attributes must be tempered and used in moderation lest they bring you problems in the future. This is the reasons why your elders told you to come under my tutelage.” The monk replied his voice smooth and soothing. It was truly odd to see the young man address the old man as his young friend.

    I knew it they are cultivators. What could they possibly be doing here?

    King Chen An seemed to have the same question “respected immortals, please identify yourselves,” he said somehow managing to sound both cautious and polite.

    The monk finally turned towards the king and looked at him closely for a second “we are here to find a fitting core disciple for the Supreme Sword Sect, does that answer your question?” he asked amusement clear in his voice.

     “The Kingdom of Chen is under the protection of the Supreme Sword Sect and any cultivators not having their permission to enter my kingdom will face the consequences.  Not to be disrespectful immortals but do you have any proof to back up your claim?” He asked sweat dripping from his brow. Wei could practically see the kings shaking from his position.

    So he’s finally realized the merit of thought before action. How funny. I didn’t think he had it in him.

    The swordsman stepped forward in answer to the question “how interesting, you follow our instructions to the letter, but only when it suits you. Do you recognize what this is?” he asked. Suddenly a small wooden sword appeared floating atop his head, on it Wei could barely see the faded image of a sword pointing upward as if piercing through the heavens.

    Before Wei could analyze it more clearly the small wooden sword floated towards the king, startling the enforcers flanking him. A few enforcers fidgeted but seeing as the king did not order them to act; they opened ranks and let the wooden sword head toward the king.

    The king stood his ground admirably only flinching slightly when the sword came to a stop mere inches from his face. Wei saw the moment he fully understood what the sigil meant. “I apologize for my rudeness, I was simply following the orders I was given by your sect honored immortal,” he said.

    “Oh, is that so? Then why did you disobey our orders?” the swordsman asked. The king seemed to struggle to find a suitable answer but thought better of it. “Immortals, I have no excuse for my actions, I know that I shouldn’t have killed the people who hadn’t gone through the ceremony yet. I intended to imprison them but couldn’t contain my anger. Please forgive me.” The king briefly bowed his head which was as good as groveling considering his position and then looked up at the swordsman face hopeful.

    “It is not my place to forgive you or punish you, the official personnel from the sect will be here in a few days, and you will take it up with them. Considering this is the first time your family has made a mistake in many generations, if you show the same humility you showed me today they may forgive you.”

    Hearing this king seemed to calm down slightly his pale face regaining a bit of its color “Then if not because of my misconduct, why did you come great immortal?” he asked puzzled. The swordsman opened his mouth to answer when the monk interrupted with a wave of his hand. “I know you like to be referred to as an immortal Xing but now isn’t the right time to socialize. Stop stalling, have you found him?”

    “Okay senior Zixin it’s that youngster over there, “he said nodding towards the second prince Chen Ping. The second prince seemed to have not heard a word being spoken, his gaze being focused as it was on the sword in Xing’s single hand.

    “Impressive, Xing I never expected you would understand my lessons so quickly, but then again your problem has never been your talent, only your demeanor and patience. I’m glad to see you are improving. It will only be a few more days before I am satisfied with your progress and you can go back to your sword training.” He said.

    “It was all thanks to your tutelage senior. Without you it may have taken me many years’ perhaps even decades before my demeanor changed. By then my sword arts would have stagnated and I would never reach my goal. Thank you.” He said raw sincerity in his voice.

    The heartfelt student and teacher moment seemed to make the people in the throne room feel awkward and everyone pointedly averted their gaze from the one armed old man bowing to the youthful monk.

    They’re completely treating us as furniture. Still I can’t blame them, who would’ve thought they came here to choose a core disciple.

    Huh. Guess the second prince really is as talented as the people say. He’s even cultivator material. He must be the first imperial of any significance to ever become a cultivator. If there were any others the royal family would’ve proudly made note of them in their records.

    So what now? Wei wanted to have a chat with the cultivators very badly, especially the monk but doing so now would be incomparably rude and so he waited patiently, ignoring the pain in his chest and focusing on the cultivators once more.

    Xing once more respectfully stood behind Zixin who stared at the second prince intently “youngster do you wish to enter the Supreme Sword Sect?” he asked.

    The second prince looked up at the monk and answered with a question of his own “so I am a chosen?” “Yes you are a chosen and one with a particular talent towards the sword. A special sword physique if I was to guess”

    Upon hearing the answer the second prince had a wide smile on his face “so I am special even among chosen, I knew it! I always knew” How strong is the Supreme Sword Sect.?” He asked voice brimming with happiness, barely able to contain his excitement.

    “The Supreme Sword Sect is one of the most powerful Sects in the Enlightened Realm,” he said.

    “Then I’m in.” Chen Ping replied simply.

    “It’s admirable that you’re so decisive but it’s not entirely up to you.” He nodded towards Xing who gave Chen Ping a casual look and then a more searching one when he saw how Chen Ping’s gaze seemed to always flicker to his sword every few seconds.

    A few seconds later Xing seemed to have made a decision and changed his look from a searching one to a full on glare. Chen Ping’s head immediately snapped up startled, and without conscious thought took a few hurried steps back away from Xing.

    “Do I have your attention?” Xing said while walking forward slowly. Chen Ping made to step backwards again but something stopped him and he simply nodded while visibly shaking. “Not everyone is cut out to follow the path of the sword. In fact while many people use swords they are not swordsman.” He suddenly paused in his walk towards Chen Ping.

    “Do you want to be a swordsman?” The weight Xing put behind the question was evident. The second prince with great effort looked once more at Xing’s sword and gathered himself, he exhaled loud enough to be heard by everyone and then yelled “YES. I want to be the greatest swordsman”.

    The loud answer had barely finished its final echo when Xing’s sword materialized in his hand his sheath nowhere to be found. Upon seeing his sword Wei grew extremely excited. It was the first time that he had ever seen a magical technique after all.

    The sword was elegant and lethal. Its presence seemed to chill the room and when the light hit it at an angle it almost seemed alive. If Chen Ping was giving the odd glance before, now he was unashamedly staring at the sword, hungrily, as if he wanted to run up and snatch the sword from Xing’s hand consequences be damned. Seeing his gaze Xing nodded slowly “your deep respect and admiration for swords is clear.” With a swish of his sleeve his sword disappeared from his hand to ‘somewhere’ and he walked back to stand behind Zixin once more.

    Chen Ping stood there not knowing what to do until after a few seconds Zixin waved him over. Feeling inwardly confused but very grateful that his ‘test’ was over so quickly, Chen Ping jogged over to the two cultivators and stood respectfully behind both of them still in shock.

    Wei meanwhile was experiencing the exact same thing. That’s it! So Quick! I thought I would have more time to think of a way to approach them. What should I do?

    Zixin gently cleared his throat – drawing the attention of everyone in the throne room and spoke. “Chen An, we have what we came for. We’ll be leaving now.” His soft voice had a great amount of authority and unconsciously everyone in the throne room nodded together. Without another word he slowly started walking away Xing and Chen Ping following close behind him.

    “Immortal Zixin please wait.” Wei’s voice reverberated throughout the throne room. It was even louder than Chen Ping’s previous yell. I was scared he wouldn’t hear me because of my weak lungs but looks like he heard me loud and clear. In fact everyone probably did. I hope this works.

    Zixin turned around and faced Wei. Instantly Wei felt his mental qi begin to roil and seethe warning him not to provoke the person in front of him. As if I need a warning. Anyone with any sort of decent instincts can tell. This monk is definitely more dangerous than that swordsman.

    Seeing Wei’s silence the monk did nothing except look at him a smile on his face. A few seconds passed by and the king started to get anxious worried that if Wei annoyed the immortals he could be punished along with him. He quickly whispered an order to an enforcer who boldly broke the silence “what are you doing young man? After calling the immortal back, instead of being thankful and quickly stating your business you’re wasting his time instead! How bold. Fellow enforcers capt—“ “Silence. If senior Zixin thought he was wasting his time would he wait?” Xing glared at the enforcer his eyes like sharp steel, and the enforcers properly cowed, shrank back and rejoined his fellow enforcers.

    However after a few more seconds even Xing started to show signs of impatience in fact everyone in the throne room excluding Wei and Zixin were expressing their impatience in numerous ways. It’s only a few seconds. I thought cultivators lived much longer than mortals, why so stingy when it comes to a few seconds?

    Although Wei was angry about Xing’s inclusion in the group of impatient people he didn’t show any of it on his face. After a short sweep of the throne room and seeing how many of the faces were changing from annoyed to hostile he decided to go for it. “Immortal Zixin I feel that I have a talent for cultivation do you think I can also accompany you?” Wei’s simple question caused a few people in the throne room to gasp. Everyone knew that only the successful undergoing of an awakening ceremony or the powerful sight of an immortal could tell what mortals were chosen and even then they could still be wrong.

    How could Wei, a young mortal know that he was Chosen. The enforcer who had spoken up previously had a slight smile on his face after seeing that Wei really was wasting Zixin’s time, but seeing the tension present in the throne room he kept his mouth shut and resisted his urge to gloat.

    “This is why I can never stop visiting the mortal world. There is always something interesting to see. With no assurances, no guarantee you stake everything for the small chance that you are Chosen. You must know that for your slight against Chen An, if you aren’t Chosen then your life is forfeit right” he asked voice brimming with curiosity. “Then why do you still risk it?”

    Wei responded with a forced laugh, “I have a terminal illness. No doctor I’ve talked to can cure it.” Wei almost didn’t recognize the empty voice as his own. “In a story I read, a cultivator said ‘The Heavens always leave a way, a chance.’ So I’m gambling that I won’t die to my illness or Chen An but instead live as a Chosen, as a cultivator.” What followed was an audible silence and Wei could almost feel the tangible ridicule that people had for his words.

    Scoff, jeer even laugh I don’t care what you think. Only what he does. At this moment only his thoughts matters, his decision. Everything else in this moment is meaningless, empty. What will you do monk Zixin?

    Wei intently observed the monk like he was a puzzle to be solved but the monk gave away nothing keeping his infectious smile on his face while gently counting his prayer beads in a way that Wei could clearly tell he did quite often. Finally after what felt like an eternity of waiting “Very well, does anyone else think they are Chosen? Who else thinks they have been acknowledged by Heaven.” Suddenly the still silence shattered and many of the youth present in the throne room stepped forward eager, the crowd cleared around them as they all moved to stand near Wei and then looked towards Zixin for further instruction.

    Zixin eyes looked at each of the mortals in turn, lingering briefly and then moving on. Although he was still smiling his gentle smile, something in his gaze seemed to make the excited group of youth very uneasy. A few moments later and only a small handful of them were left, the rest having returned into the crowd in shame.

    “Being thoughtful is very important. If you always act impulsively you won’t achieve much,” Zixin said seemingly to the air. Everyone got his message. “Step forward,” he gestured to the remaining seven people including Wei.

    Wei stepped forward filtering out everything except for the monk. He didn’t react when dozens of hopeful youths reentered the crowd with downcast gazes nor did he blink an eye when out of his group of seven two were also told to step back as they weren’t Chosen. Only when Zixin told them that the five of them were Chosen did Wei finally react.

    Finally, even though I just found out that I would be a cultivator for sure a couple of days ago it feels like I’ve been waiting forever.

    “Although the five of you are Chosen it doesn’t mean that you will come with me. This time the awakening ceremony is special, every day you go early is a day you have an advantage over all the other new Chosen. However instead of talent for cultivation, the thing I value most is willpower. If you want me to do you this favor then you will show me you are worthy. Is that understood?”

    Quickly everyone agreed. Zixin after a moment’s pause called for Chen Ping who eagerly went forward and stood in front of him. “Chen Ping since Xing decided you fit the requirements for inner disciple of the Supreme Sword Sect I will use you as a measuring stick. Walk towards that flag over there and bring it to me,” he said gesturing to a flag on the other side of the throne room.

    When did he…

    Everyone except Xing seemed to share Wei’s sentiment wondering when the bright red flag had appeared in the throne room. Without asking any questions Chen Ping started walking towards the flag. A few seconds after he started he paused and then started walking again. This scene repeated itself with the distance covered become increasingly shorter and the pauses in between becoming increasingly larger. Five minutes later after making it about sixty percent of the way there Chen Ping returned dejected.

    “Senior Zixin I can’t get it. Every time I start heading towards it I feel many distracting thoughts and can’t focus. The closer I got the more it affected my thought until finally I couldn’t move forward.” The entire time he was narrating his experience many people were giving the inconspicuous red flag intrigued looks wondering if it were perhaps one of the legendary spirit weapons that possessed magical powers.

    “No worries. That flag is a formation flag that has a bewildering formation in it, a fairly weak one at that. Its meant to be used to keep mortals away from specific places. Although this one was a weak one you did rather well by getting almost three quarters of the way to it.” His voice had a faint hint of praise to it and Chen Ping instantly brightened up.

    “If any of you can pass the half way mark then that will mean we have karma between us and you can come with me,” he said.

    Alright this is good. Although I’m sure I have good talent I don’t know for sure, but will, I think I can do that. Will, ambition. mental qi I have them all, now to see how much.

    Including Wei there were two young men and two young women. The two young men and the shorter of the young women seemed to have come to an agreement moving towards the flag together while keeping an eye on Zixin for his reaction.

    Zixin made no move to stop them but his gentle smile turned into a slightly mocking one. The group of three paused slightly but seeing that he hadn’t said it was forbidden they continued on. Their clever plan was doomed to failure. Not even a few steps in they completely grew still, almost in tandem and then one by one they fainted. Muffled thuds sounded out alongside a sharp crack as one of the young men hit his head on the hard floor. They were quickly carried out of the throne room.

    It was obvious that working together increased the intensity of the flags effect. Seeing three people try together and fail made Chen Ping stand taller his stiff posture relaxing.

    The final young woman moved forward but her efforts were fruitless. Almost immediately she returned anger and sadness on her face.

    Going halfway should be easy. I need to make sure not to draw any mental qi out of my body. My mental qi reacted for a reason. I have to be cautious.

    Wei walked forward heading straight towards the flag. He was much slower than everyone before him due to the pain brought by his illness. He also didn’t have his walking stick. After a few steps he felt his thoughts begin to wander but because of the high caution he was proceeding with the first few distractions were easily dismissed and he continued forward. With each step he took the distractions become more and more subtle linking seemingly insignificant things into more prevalent thoughts.

    I wonder were Lady Seer went. I should have gone with her. Today might have been the day I found out more about her. What was I even doing here? I still haven’t even showed my painting to Madam Song she will be so mad. I could …

    Wait a minute…

    With a start Wei cleared his thoughts and saw that he had been standing still. He seemed to be only a few steps away from the halfway point and the entire throne room was so quiet the only thing he could hear was his own haggard breaths.

    Wei knew that he wasn’t very disciplined and that very few things interested him. That was why he preferred to stay alone, read books and gamble. Only very interesting stories and people could stir his thoughts. That was precisely the reason the people at the orphanage hated him. When a boring, vain person talked to him he simply couldn’t muster the energy to engage them in conversation and simply nodded while absorbed in his own thoughts.

    Was he empty as one of the old caretakers said or merely apathetic he didn’t know. The only thing he knew was if the flag used triggered his most deep thoughts he could become lost for hours and then he would lose his chance.

    I have to risk it.

    With a thought his small store of refined mental qi swirled around his body. He made sure that not even a trickle escaped outside of his body. As he intensely focused on his refined mental qi he noticed that his thought were as clear as a mountain stream. With ease he crossed the halfway point and the entire throne room erupted into conversation. Just as quickly silence reemerged. Wei was curios what had been done to silence them so quickly but he didn’t look around lest he distract himself.

    Having past the halfway he wanted to stop and return secure in his position as someone with ‘good karma’ with Zixin however the same feeling as when he had  merged with the silver coin. A desire, no an ambition to excel. To strive and succeed. It fueled him and he revolved his mental qi faster until he struggled to keep it from seeping out. He quickly passed Chen Pings record and continued on. His mental qi had stopped moving faster but instead stabilized at an extremely fast speed.

    It filled him with a warm feeling like a mothers embrace. He remembered the feeling from when he was a child and Madam Song would soothe him to sleep. At night his sickness would flare up and only her embrace and soft singing had let him fall sleep.

    He felt so comfortable that his sharp pain dulled to a slight ache. Within a few seconds he was almost near the flag. The distractions were easily ignored his mental qi crushing them as easily as breathing. A moment later he reached out and grabbed the flag. It was cool to the touch and very light. Wei resisted the urge to wave it around a few times.

    He walked back enjoying the awe on many of the people’s faces. He absentmindedly took note of Chen Pings sour face and stood before Zixin. He still had the same gentle smile on his face. “Congratulation young man you were indeed right. So much talent and willpower I am truly impressed,” he said voice full of praise.

    “Your words humble me Senior Zixin,” Wei said altering his method of addressing Zixin whose smile grew wider. “For taking your time to listen to my request I am very grateful.”

    “Think nothing of it. Everything is due to Karma. Now let us depart we are behind schedule,” he said motioning for Wei to walk beside him. Xing and Chen Ping trailed behind them as they walked towards the throne room exit.

    Wei’s sickness started to flare up bringing with it the usual pain but not even that could curb his excitement. Not once did any of the mortals make a sound. Even the king kept his silence. However none of that mattered to Wei. He had done it.

    Finally I take my first major step towards cultivation. I will find a cure. Maybe I’ll even become immortal.

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