Book Title: Sibling Lords of the Craft







Sibling Lords of the Craft








Synopsis: Minecraft is a real dimension filled with villages, clans, and myriads of treasures. Here zombies, dragons, magic enchantments, witches, and the like exists. Everyone wants to be a powerful crafter, but only those lucky ones born into families and clans of influence can cultivate crafters. Two siblings are born without the ability to become crafters and grow up jeered and bullied by their peers until they took a risk, had a mysterious encounter. They will seek to conquer and unite the infinite world of pixels; Minecraft! 

Author's Note:
My kids love Minecraft, and I love wuxia. When I do bedtime stories, I mix elements of the two, and the two just seemed to mix well. Of course, the story is more fleshed out than a bedtime story, but that was the impetus for this story.

I hope you all enjoy it. Please provide feedback as it makes the story better. 

Thanks,
Broken Ice the Sage

Comments

  • Chapter 1
    Shattered Pearl No Business

    Everyone knows Minecraft is a game loved and played by millions. However many are unaware that it is a real dimension full of villages, clans, beautiful landscapes and myriads of treasures. If you merely mine's far enough with enough luck, you can become truly powerful.  There are zombies, dragons, magic enchantments, witches, and the like. The most massive groups are Villagers or ordinary folk and Crafters. Everyone wants to be a crafter, but only certain people born in families and clans of influence can cultivate crafters.  Crafters utilize powers granted by their resources and gain leveled experience to become great, defeat others and stand at the top the infinite world of pixels. 

    Villages create crafters; any old villager can become a crafter if when they were born or anytime up until nine years old, they absorb and assimilate an Ender of Pearl into their bodies. 

    In the game version of Minecraft the Ender pearl is used to teleport, but in this dimension, the Ender Pearls were the pure source of Crafters abilities. One has to understand that a person is only an ordinary human without the gifts granted by assimilating the Ender Pearl into the body.

    By absorbing the Ender Pearl, a pocket dimension opens within the body. This little dimension would become the epicenter of energy, experience, and open space within the body. How do you think Crafters carried so many items on them? Well, ordinary folk had cracked a way to do this too; they would use storage rings and inter-spatial bags. But they were costly and only the highest ranked of the clans and villages could have those treasures. Some families would even have storage rings or inter-spatial bags as family heirlooms worth years and years of a typical salary.

    Crafters, however, would use the pocket dimension within their bodies; the Crafter's Core! The Crafter’s Core is the source and separating factor of a Crafter from an ordinary villager. 

    In the Western Mountains of Delta Village, live four vast clans of significant influence and power: Adams Clan, Xiao Clan, Zenith Clan, and the most powerful group among the 4, Gateway Clan.

    Within the Adams Clan, were born two siblings. Even the Heavens looked forward to their arrival. When the young man was born an eclipse occurred, and when the young lady was born a year later a rainbow so brilliant it seemed tangible. The rainbow stretched across the sky for almost an entire month, without even a drop of rain falling from the sky. The two siblings were believed to be the blessing of the Adams Clan, but sadly, they failed to absorb the power of the Ender Pearls into their bodies. It instantly shattered and was divided into various parts of their bodies. Absorbed but not assimilated. Without assimilation, the Ender Pearls in the body are not able to support the Crafter's Core abilities. 

    The Crafter's Core processes the energies that exist in the sky and earth of the Minecraft world enabling the internal storage capabilities, the flight, the ability to craft and refine materials in the natural world and the ability for the body to handle enchantments—even the enchantments on items. Realms and rankings define the cultivation of experience and robust endowment. 

    Novice Realm
    Elementary Realm
    True Realm
    Reeve Realm 
    Chi-Ji Realm
    Master Realm
    Emperor Realm 
    Sage Realm

    There are seven rankings within these realms; the delineation of rank is evident by the abilities granted by the Crafting Core and one's cultivation of experience and martial arts prowess. There is no real difference between a Novice Realm Crafter and a commoner aside from the Novice realm Crafter being able to wield weapons with up to a Level 2 enchantment. All Commoners can only use weapons and tools with a Level 1 enchantment as the limit. 

    In this world there exist treasures and trials and triumphs, it is often said one could mine down a cave a commoner and return a dragon! From scrolls endowed with powerful abilities to resources that enhanced Crafting systems to martial arts and cultivation techniques that would increase one's talents for an entire lifetime. All these types of items existed in the world left by ancients or dropped by monsters or even fell from the sky/other planets, realms, and races.
     
    After birth, a Village doctor transplants an Ender Pearl into the body of a baby and quite naturally the body absorbs it, with no thought or effort exerted by the infant. This is the way it had been for millions of years. Interestingly enough in the case of the siblings, the Ender Pearls were accepted into the body but not assimilated or activated. Instead, the pearl shattered in pieces which the doctor was unable to count. The Village doctor was baffled, and the Leader of the Adams Clan had spent vast resources almost to the point of endangering the Clans' financial standing in the Delta Village to call in doctors from all over the Minecraft world, mainly from their own Southwestern Feather Line Empire to diagnosis and help his two children.

    No one had an answer or cure...

    LaVan and LeeAnn are the children of LaVan the First and LaKisha the heads of the Adams Clan within the Delta Village, and their parents love them. Even though they do not have a future as Crafters, they are respected or pitied by most. There are of course some bullies and bad apples which would sneer and be mean to them. For the most part, a Clan leader with a commoner child would be the first to be ousted by the clan from the leader position. Also, the kids were considered wastes of space and resources, but the Adams elders loved the clan head and tried to not to come down too hard on the family who always put the clan first. 

    Concerning the bullies both LaVan and LeeAnn got in many fights almost every day defending each other LeeAnn cried many nights wondering why the Heavens hadn't blessed them with the ability to craft so that they could strike out on their own. At ten years old it was not uncommon for a young crafter to set out in the world and see if he could craft himself a living and life away from or in support of his family. Teenagers would come home with hair-raising tales and adventures under their belts. The Minecraft world is full of adventure and wonder—but LeeAnn and LaVan are stuck in the mundane existence of ordinary folk, unable to cultivate, unable to grow as crafters; for now.
  • Chapter 2 
    LaVan's First Fight

    The Bi-Annual Family Tournament is being held today. Crafters and Commoners could compete in a fair display of skills and techniques, martial arts, healing arts, crafting arts, enchantment arts, etc. Since this type of tournament was for the younger generation, anyone from the ages of 6-12 could compete. 6 to 12?!? That's right. Understand that in this dimension age is typically inconsequential, as long as one is within the same generation (that is born within the same 10-15 year range of each other). What matters is your cultivation level, and your crafting ability as the gift of the Crafting Core can drastically enhance arm and leg strength and dexterity, combine that improved body with a knowledge of martial arts, and you could see fantastic spectacles in this world. A 7-year-old Novice Crafter could well handle a 13-year-old Commoner bully, what truly matters is the art of the craft, this is a Minecraft world in which only the mighty reign supreme.

    The Adams Clan Bi-Annual Family Tournament was in full swing, flags flapped in the wind, and five wooden stages in the courtyard were the centers of everyone's focus. Yells from anxious and proud parents filled the crisp autumn sky. LaVan is eight years old today having grown up without a core, bullied, trained, creative, and mentally fortified. As the saying goes, "nothing makes you grow up faster than hard times." He has been practicing the family martial arts for more than three years at this point. Always told by his father that while he is not a Crafter, he is a man he must be able to both protect and provide. He needs to utilize the strength of his mind and character and leverage all other available means to stand toe-to-toe with crafters and not fail.

    LaVan the First was hard on his son in his constant training, but not out of disappointment instead, he wants to see his son excel even as a commoner. "You should strive to be the most uncommon commoner that ever existed!" As the Clan Head, he had ample opportunity to interfere with LaVan's struggles, but he restrained himself. Many nights LaVan came home with wounds and bruises from venturing out into the edge of the plains with his sister LeeAnn. The First was not a calloused father, but he was well aware that beyond the plains and further into the forests and mountains the dangers were even more present. As someone with the strange circumstance of not being able to push forward in the crafting world, a cripple as the bullies called him, the First saw endless potential in his son LaVan and taught him to see that interminable potential in himself as well.

    "How are your sword techniques?" asked the First. 
    "I should be able to handle using the blade with a Level 1 enchantment; without crafting experience, it's the limit..." LaVan's words trailed off in thought.
    "Ahem." the First gave a fake cough.
    "But my skills and quick thinking should allow me to handle anyone from the Common Class and probably even a Novice Crafter if they are only using an item with Level 1 enchantment," LaVan spoke resolutely.

    He wasn't bluffing, a Dark Spider twice his size had fallen to his Level 1 sword-play, and he always kept defensive items on his person. LaVan was a creative genius, while everyone else would craft their solutions within the frameworks of the known; LaVan imagined ways around problems without standard tools. For example, once he saw his sister LeeAnn using a bow and arrow to kill a wild skeleton horse which had roamed out of the mountains and was terrorizing the animals in the plains. The bow broke after a short skirmish and as the two siblings fled LaVan quickly thought of making a slingshot with the broken pieces and firing off some little self-detonating TNT's he kept on his person at all times. LaVan is not a crafter, but that didn't mean he is not prepared. His arsenal is thorough with everything serving multiple purposes and many hidden trump cards. His preparation didn't mean he wasn't easily defeated at times and ran for his life at other times; it just says LaVan at the age of 8 without the blessing of being a crafter was smart and not a push-over.

    "LaVan the Second! Argus the Third! Report to Stage 4 in 2 minutes!"
    "Son be careful. There is no dishonor in knowing when to submit" LaKisha spoke softly to him as she adjusted his traditional sparring/training outfit. She was a tender mother and quite protective of her children. VERY PROTECTIVE. It was the First's constant restraints of LaKisha that let LaVan reach where he was today. While she was protective she wasn't a fool, she also supported continuous training, and her biggest lessons were lessons of wisdom, righteousness, and business sense. 

    LaVan climbed the ladders to the stage running through a mock battle scenario in his mind. He had "tussled" with Argus many times often coming home with much worse than a bloody nose, but as he would often say, "Commoner doesn't mean COWARD!" Argus followed him onto the wooden stage and laughed arrogantly, "HAHAHAHAHA! My first fight of the ranking tournament and I'm up against a Commoner! It looks like I should just use this as a warm-up for my second fight."

    "Young men, battle with heart, but remember you are family and as such, you should remember that there is no need to harm each other in excess. Resigning from the fight can also be admirable given certain circumstances." the referee shot a meaningful glance at LaVan and the other youth on the stage. He continued with the rules of engagement, "Obey my commands at all times, defend yourselves at all times, if I say to stop you stop if I say continue you continue. If I deem either of you unable to continue the bout you'll be resigned from the fight. If you are unable to continue fighting due to being forced out off the stage or rendered unconscious, you lose automatically. Bladed weapons are limited to enchantment level 1. All other weapons are limited to enchantment level 2. You may only take out wood and stone weapons unless you're utilizing the bow and arrow..." He finished stating the rules with the boredom of one who had said this same statement 30 times in the last half hour already...oh wait he had done just that. "Do you understand my rules and regulations?" Glancing at the two determined youths with a crack of a grin, "FIGHT!" 
  • Do you not get the "this comment will be submitted for approval" issue?
  • Do you not get the "this comment will be submitted for approval" issue?
    I didn't see anything like that. Is there something that should have come up? Does the post need to be approved?
  • Do you not get the "this comment will be submitted for approval" issue?
    I didn't see anything like that. Is there something that should have come up? Does the post need to be approved?
    apparently so. I have been having difficulty. Thanks for your feedback and all the best for your novel! I like your writing style and unique idea. All the best!
  • Thanks so much Daoist Bashful! I hope the issue corrects itself for you.
  • # Chapter 3 teaser
    ## Vicious Means

    Argus assumes a fighting stance, and out of nowhere, almost like a magic trick a light shoots out of his solar plexus area, and a bo staff swiftly appears in his hands. Looking closely at the bo staff LaVan see that it has a blue-ish shimmer to it. LaVan could see with his naked eye that this staff was enchanted and that enchantment was recently refined beyond a simple level 2 enchantment. Argus was blatantly cheating using these materials here! While a charm or enchantment was indeed powerful, a weapon can be improved by a blacksmith to achieve the highest quality of power by adding inscriptions. Inscriptions can even be endowed with various elements, though that handiwork and level of craft is rare in the world and typically found from ancient times. Inscriptions are for any weapon or tool a unique advantage. The bo-staff was Argus' trademark weapon, the number of time LaVan had needed to flee after taking a hit from one of these was numerous, if not 1,000 at least 800 times! 
  • Chapter 3 
    Vicious Means

    Argus assumes a fighting stance, and out of nowhere, almost like a magic trick a light shoots out of his solar plexus area, and a bo staff swiftly appears in his hands. Looking closely at the bo staff LaVan see that it has a blue-ish shimmer to it. LaVan could see with his naked eye that this staff was enchanted and that enchantment was recently refined beyond a simple level 2 enchantment. Argus was blatantly cheating using these materials here! While a charm or enchantment was indeed powerful, a weapon can be improved by a blacksmith to achieve the highest quality of power by adding inscriptions. Inscriptions can even be endowed with various elements, though that handiwork and level of craft is rare in the world and typically found from ancient times. Inscriptions are for any weapon or tool a unique advantage. The bo-staff was Argus' trademark weapon, the number of time LaVan had needed to flee after taking a hit from one of these was numerous, if not 1,000 at least 800 times! 

    LaVan took a deep breath and made an indifferent face, he wasn't going to cower in front of Argus' little stick. He quickly decided that he would be better off using his two enchanted sticks instead of using his sword. LaVan knew that his level 1 stone sword wouldn't fair to well against a level 2 enchanted bo staff with inscriptions which essentially equated to a Level 3 weapon. LaVan had done his homework years of not being able to craft himself and being limited to a certain spectrum of weapons and set levels of enchantment helped him to study crafting as a keen observer. He could tell just from a glance that Argus' enchantment was a Level 2 SMITE enchantment with a weird inscription which added a level of durability. He could also see the hidden armor Argus wore underneath his casual sparring set as well. It was defense level 2! LaVan had his work cut out for him, but he knew one thing about his opponent which was his fatal weakness—Argus doesn't see LaVan as a threat!

    "AHHHHH!" the two youths yelled as they launched at each other as if they intended to collide with each other. So fast they seemed to want to go through one another to some other destination. LaVan saw the sweeping motion of the bo staff. If LaVan had taken that hit aimed at his left, his arm would have immediately broken. Even though a lot of the damage would be negated by the armor, it would certainly have put him in a bad position, a position destined to lose the fight. But He didn't mind taking risks. "HUH!" Argus was blind-sided by LaVan's next move, he fell. LaVan fell straight down, dodging the sloppy bo staff swing and collided with Argus' knees. Argus toppled over face down, LaVan was already in the air over Argus. He had sprung up immediately after Argus passed his body. Why hit him? Hitting him wouldn't necessarily hurt him. The enchanted armor he was wearing wasn't just that for decoration. He took a wire string out of his bracelet and quickly wrapped it around Argus' neck, "Submit!" LaVan spoke softly into Argus' ears. Argus was struggling, and after 7 seconds his eyes seemed to bulge while his face started to turn to a hue of purple. After 9 seconds his arms began to swing erratically losing strength. After 12 seconds Argus seemed utterly unresponsive, but LaVan hadn't let go. Argus wasn't submitting, and LaVan wasn't easing up on his hold.

    "HALT!!!!" The referee yelled with a volume that could shatter the ears. Before LaVan could pull his hands away from his ears the referee, Argus' uncle, had removed the string from Argus' neck, "Humph," He snorted coldly, "You younger generations are getting more and more vicious with your attacks!" He looked at LaVan with eyes filled with rage. "I should immediately disqualify you! This was a dangerous way to reach a submission." He paused slightly, "We'll need to convene on whether moves like this are even allowed. What would you have done if Argus hadn't submitted or I hadn't stepped in? You're only 8 years old how would you live with the guilt of harming a peer, a family member even?" Spit was flying everywhere, and the old man's voice boomed as his beard moved about this way and that way.

    LaVan stared repentantly, and the referee calmed his anger down upon seeing LaVan's meek reaction. "You win." The elder looked at Argus who was already recovering and getting healing. "Never let me see you making such an attack again on a family member. These tactics of yours are far too cold and dangerous for an Inter-Family Competition." The referee glanced at The First and sighed, understanding at once where this kid got his cold-heartedness from. The First was a courageous warrior and wise strategist—but known for never hesitating to pull up the root with the weed; LaVan had inherited theses wiles from his father who had instilled the ways of war, fighting, and even extortion from enemies into his son. While his mother LaKeisha taught him other valuable lessons.

    "He won?"
    "Wow, I guess a tiger father can't have a son that's a dog."
    "That'll be his last win today; I can bet 3 emeralds on that!"
    "Hmmm... Argus's Crafting cultivation was what? Novice Realm 5th Rank? He's not far off from the Elementary Realm! That's a genius among the 10 year olds."
    "Maybe Argus threw the fight? I mean he's only a crippled commoner brat." The crowd speculated, 
    "Shut up! What if the Clan Head hears you? As vicious as he is he might slap you to death." 
    "Nah, I heard he was always hard on his son and never defended him even once, it's the mom you have to look out for." 
    "Yeah hehehehe" giggled another, "I heard she once kicked a little boy AND his mom right in the butt for picking on her kids when they younger, she doesn't differentiate between ages or genders anyone who messes with her kids." 
    "What? Ahhh...I'll certainly have to remember that!"

    Applause.

    The applause not riotous, but to LaVan, it felt like all the Minecraft world was rejoicing with him as he raised his fist into the air to accept his victory. Even The First was on his feet for his son, a father always wants only one man to be stronger than himself, his son.

    ---------


    Competing against a Crafter of any level was a challenge. Understanding the Crafting Levels or Realms of Power was a given in this dimension where the strong reigned over the weak. There were 8 Realms associated with the accumulation of both experience and inner-strength. The energies present in the earth and sky of the Minecraft world/dimension were able to be manipulated to a degree causing a Crafter of particular realms to attain unfathomable abilities. The 8 realms are:

    Novice Realm
    Elementary Realm
    True Realm
    Reeve Realm 
    Chi-Ji Realm
    Master Realm
    Emperor Realm 
    Sage Realm

    Each level contained growth within the levels themselves, ranks. There were noticeable differences in strength and ability associated with each of the 7 ranks within each particular realm. The Crafting cultivation allowed crafters to assimilate power and crush stones and emerald ores. This took massive efforts and strength without the assistance of the abilities of Crafting Energies which existed in the Minecraft world.

    For example, only one who had attained Chi-Ji Realm cultivation could fly through the air to different destinations. But even in that, the energy demanded to support self-propelled flight was very taxing and only Master Realm Crafters could fly for a full 10 hours without stopping, and the heights to which one could soar were affected by crafters' abilities as well. 

    Do you really think all monster hordes and even zombies are the same strength and level? Everything in this Minecraft world lived under the law of the jungle; the Strong survive the Weak do not! Even monsters had their own rudimentary ranking systems which were similar to crafting methods and levels. Thus it was a given that Crafters were as the referee called LaVan, "vicious."
  • Chapter 4
    LeeAnn's First Fight

    When Commoners venture out into the plains or mountains, they want to be with Crafters. It's the safest way to travel; Crafters are strong and with the ability to craft even Novice and Elementary Crafters can get out of most sticky situations that are in the plains and foothills. The mountains were another story, a very dangerous story. However, when LaVan traveled out into the open plains, he didn't trust his back to anyone other than LeeAnn, his younger sister. 7 years old and already very proficient at mixing medicines. The medicine mixing would take far longer than someone crafting, but she understood the subtleties of medicine mixing and the healing arts than most people twice if not three times her age. Everyone sighed inwardly whenever they saw her because her healing capabilities were so high that if she were a Crafter, she would have unlimited potential; alchemy, beauty, talent all mixed in the bottle of LeeAnn. But she was a crippled Commoner, at most she would become a master doctor/physician and pharmacist—but forever be at the mercy, beck and call of the Crafting Elite in the world. 

    Not only could LeeAnn heal and kept excellent medicines on hand, but she also understood the complexities of poison mixing. There were no more significant equalizers for a young lady or any Commoner. But poisons were dangerous without an antidote; a poison was a weapon to a user and an assailant. When LaVan and LeeAnn were out training in the plains and LaVan needed time to rest up, LeeAnn would spread out a poison formation that even the creatures of the plains and foothills were afraid to cross—even though the formation lacked her own Crafting energies. While LeeAnn could use power stones; a second offshoot of the Redstone to power her creations she couldn't guide or control the energy so once the formation was laid if she did have the control mechanism refined by her mother and passed to her explicitly, it would backfire and poison the siblings. 

    LeeAnn was also an expert marksman. If the two siblings could acquire and cultivate experience with an absorbed and assimilated Ender Pearl LeeAnn would have just as many kills as LaVan...if not many more. Her bow and arrow and poison handling skills were honed to a frightful degree. LaKiesha was the marksman in the family, she trained both LaVan and LeeAnn, but LeeAnn had a knack for the bow and arrow, while LaVan favored the slingshot he created. The medical and poison skills came from the continuous study under LeeAnn's Great-Grandmother. The elderly generation was always quite bored in the Clan. They were too old to adventure, and the young were still out and about, but LaVan and LeeAnn for years had time to pass by sitting and listening and learning from the eldest and wisest of the Adams Clan. The elders are where LeeAnn learned to identify helping plants and hurting plants and how to mix them. 

    Every arrow in her quiver was coated with multiple types of herbs some to help some to hurt. LaVan was once hungry and tired while fighting a horde of spiders. She was within her poison circle safely providing back-up to LaVan on the front line their 2-person attacking and defending formation was, "a thing of beauty!" The First called it. LeeAnn shot an arrow with a quick recovery bomb on it. The air filled with the potion and LaVan immediately recovered his strength and escaped making a path of the spider carcasses.

    "LeeAnn! Abigail! Report to Stage 2 in 3 minutes!"

    "Who’s a powerful princess?" The First asked.
    "I am," LeeAnn spoke flippantly as if tired of being asked this question. She secretly enjoyed her father's pestering self-confidence exercises but still, if she hadn't answered this question 1,000 times she had at least answered it 900 times.
    "Don't kill Abigail." The First spoke with no emotion showing on his face. 
    "I wouldn't do that" LeeAnn said, almost shaken.
    "What is wrong with you?" LaKeisha looked at The First and wondered if this man she married was wired right...
    "Ignore him." She said glancing at LeeAnn's Ring of Accuracy—a gift from her Great-Grandmother's best friend. LeeAnn was performing acupuncture on the old lady's foot, and she wanted to ensure that LeeAnn didn't miss, so she gave her the Ring of Accuracy, it was an especially created item, it affected commoners and crafters alike, improving accuracy by almost 80% making it difficult to miss. If LeeAnn was a “sure-shot” before she received the ring, she was an absolute “sure-shot” after that, a cheat if there ever was one.
    "Are you ready? Do you have enough arrows?" LaKeisha asked.

    By this time LaVan had made it back to the area where his family was. 
    "Congratulations son! I knew you could do it!" The First said calmly, but twinges of unrestrained pride ran through his eyes entirely noticeable by those who knew him and his stoic demeanor.
    "Thanks, Dad! It was easier than I thought, also..." LaVan looked around, "looking really sad worked. You thought it wouldn't fool anyone." LaVan said gleefully. 
    "Well your acting skills didn't fool your mom and me, I'm just glad you didn't laugh at the referee's scolding." The First said looking off into space somewhat wistfully.
    "Great job my little man!" LaKeisha hugged LaVan tightly. 
    "Thanks, Mom," a hint of red lighting upon his light-skinned cheeks. "Okay, Okay, we're in public!" LaVan protested upon him broaching the 3-5 second mark of the hug.

    "You can do this LeeAnn!" LaVan said. 
    "I know just stop telling me." LeeAnn
    "Well, I just want you to know and remember to aim for the ..." LaVan
    "NO! Stop talking; I can figure it out on my own." LeeAnn
    "Ok but just remember..." LaVan
    "No" LeeAnn huffed loudly as she walked away with weird steps toward the stage hoping to get away from LaVan's pestering assurances. One had to know LaVan has spent the majority of the night and this morning reinforcing a battle strategy into LeeAnn's arsenal...but all that was for naught, she had the Ring of Accuracy and a bow with a quiver full of arrows, what more could she possibly need.

    She climbed the stairs to the wooden stage as did Abigail. The rules were spoken by another referee far more elderly than the referee of Stage 4. 

    LeeAnn took out her bow and a single arrow with a paralysis affecting herb mixture coated on the tip. Abigail took out a wooden sword with a level 3 SMITE enchantment on it. LeeAnn was also studious, as long as the level wasn't too high, she could understand the level of enchantment with but a glance and yet not the always the type of enchantment. She was much too busy at times working on medicines and poisons.

    The referee glanced over the equipment of the two, "LeeAnn, this battle is one of people and talent, not equipment. You'll need to stow away that Ring of Accuracy." he continued, "Its enchantment level is a mystery as is the ring itself, no one knows how it works, and while it was your good fortune and luck to acquire it from the Old Miss Brandow, it's still a piece of equipment too jarring to help us accurately assess your potential." 

    LeeAnn looked perplexed, she was a smart girl, but these words weren't the right turns of phrase to speak to 7 years old? She glanced at her mom and dad in the audience.
    "You have to take off the ring to fight."
    "Oh!" She said, while hesitant she didn't mind pulling off the ring and storing it in her storage ring. She didn't even take another arrow out of quiver! 'Why is this guy so wordy?' she thought.
    "You think you're going to hit me now that you're not wearing that stupid magic ring, girl please!" Abigail yelled and laughed in a gloating fashion. LeeAnn was silent as is her typical M.O.

    "FIGHT!"

    While fool-hearty, Abigail was no fool. She quickly got to making fast lateral movements both toward and away from LeeAnn. LeeAnn had simply notched her arrow and watched Abigail dash to and fro on the wooden stage. She watched for a moment then pulled the arrow string and THWOOSH!

    Abigail quickly dodged left and looked to the side only to not see anything at all there on the stage where an arrow should have been. She used her peripheral vision to glance further back to see if the arrow had hit a wall or even the ground off the stage. "Pay attention!" Abigail's mom screamed from her families section.

    THWOOSH...splatter. Abigail finally found the arrow next to her leg, as her calf began to go numb and her entire leg lost its' strength. Abigail fell to her knees and couldn't believe what was happening. The arrow has barely nicked her unprotected leg, and she couldn't even muster the strength to remain standing.

    LeeAnn hadn't fired an arrow the first time, she simply pulled the string as a distraction and to get her prey to move in a more predictable fashion, she never dreamed that Abigail would actually start looking all around for the arrow, what a nut! Who does that?!?

    LeeAnn shot the second arrow as Abigail continued looking around while dodging to who knows where. LeeAnn walked over to the girl and looked at the referee that asked if the fight was over. "LeeAnn wins!" LeeAnn rubbed an antidote on Abigail's leg and gave her a potion to heal her stupor faster.

    No ring, no problem! Every day from the time before the sun kissed the dark sky until it was fully formed above the horizon, LeeAnn practiced with the bow and arrow. One day on a still target, one day on a moving target so on and so forth. How many times had she shot an arrow? The leather brace and protector on her holding arm had to be replaced once every 3 weeks since she started using the bow and arrow...and she practiced without the Ring of Accuracy. She would only pull out the ring when she was out in the plains, and she was down to her last few arrows.

    LeeAnn rejoiced a long-awaited victory for an older crafter! This indeed wasn't the first time any Commoner had beat a Crafter, but one had to realize those chances were few and far in-between. Also, the siblings where the only people to ever have an Ender Pearl explode within themselves, they weren't just commoners they were considered cripples, who could never assimilate with an Ender Pearl and have it activated.

    It looks like that Ender Pearl issue wasn't going to hold this brother and sister duo back!
  • Chapter 5
    Results of the Tournament Pt. 1

    The bouts continued. There were over 90 kids and more than a few matches. Xavier from the House of RedBadge was the Tournament champion and the most favored to win, it was no surprise. LaVan won 5 more fights after his initial win over Argus. Everyone knew that his first win was no fluke. He actually continued winning using either intelligent attacks or tricks or straight martial arts techniques of which he was proficient. He most typically used his Twin Sticks; one was enchanted with KNOCK-BACK and the other with SMITE. One could knock the opponent far away and then close the distance and attack with his SMITE enchanted stick. He used this tactic on all his opponents except his 4th fight with Maxine, she specialized in the bow.

    Since that was the case, he couldn't just knock her back as providing distance to an archer was a fool's errand. Even if Maxine wasn't as great a marksman as LeeAnn, he understood from multiple fights with LeeAnn that an archer was not to be under-estimated. 

    ---Maxine vs. LaVan---

    "FIGHT!" the referee yelled. LaVan took to dashing irregularly with a formation he had perfected while sparring with LeeAnn. Maxine who was not as confident as LeeAnn immediately began shooting off arrows. She was an 11-year-old 1st Rank Elementary Crafter, that's an entire Level above Novice Crafter and a couple years older than LaVan. Her shots weren't notably faster than any other arrow from a Commoner or Novice Crafter, but they were more powerful. LaVan knew better than to take a hit from one of her arrows, you never know what is on an arrow tip!

    "HAHAHAAHAHA, What do you plan to do against me?!?" Maxine spurted while shooting a rain of arrows. 
    "You talk too much!" LaVan said while slightly narrowing the distance.
    "You'll get tired soon, and I have 2 more compartments storage rings filled with arrows! You'll either get hit or you'll run out of places to run! Either way, I'm winning this fight LaVan! Your luck ends here!" 

    Maxine really had a lot to say. She would talk while shooting a stream of arrows to distract her opponents, this tactic worked in all her previous fights. The storage room of the "Soul Store Technique" was directly affected by the cultivation of the Crafter. So Maxine using her compartments were to her advantage. The level of storage ring LaVan carried on his person was not something that could hold a significant amount of stuff. The Crafter's Compartment could hold up to 20 different items and if the items were the same class or didn't demand much-crafting strength to contain you could hold up to 35 things within a compartment if you pushed it for someone of Maxine's level. 

    Arrows were mundane items and as long as those arrows didn't have a demanding or extra powerful enhancement storing an entire compartment of arrows meant Maxine had at least 70 storage rings in her Crafting Core filled to brim with thousands of arrows. 

    One should know Maxine's father was a friend of the General Manager of the local branch of the Mint Crown Auction House. They had met years ago at the wedding of the former Clan heads’ daughter and the Mint Crown Auction Houses’ family. So the Adams Clan and the Auction Mint House were in-laws, but this Mint Crown Auction House had man intimate relationships and leveraging an in-law in the road for favor was looked down upon. Maxine’s father instead depended on his good relations with the General Manager as a friend and occasional chess rival/playing partner. He had asked to borrow 70 storage rings: this would equate to an insurmountable amount of money even for the entire Clan! But they were just borrowing and would be sure to return each and every item. The 30-year friendship of the father and general manager was just that close. Also, everyone in this mountainous Delta Region wanted to owe an Adams Clan elder a favor.

    "Catch!" LaVan tossed a bottle! Maxine knew that this kid was vicious and his sister was the Poison Princess. She dodged back closer to the edge of the stage. "AAAAHHHH!!!" Maxine cried as she tumbled off the wooden stage, with a 4-foot elevation.

    "Out of bounds. Winner LaVan." the referee grinned as he declared the victor.

    LaVan had attacked from a distance with not only the bottle, which wasn't even poison but also with one of the Twin Sticks, the KNOCK-BACK stick. Throwing it at Maxine and hitting her in the chest and knocking her off the stage while she was distracted by the splash-bottle of unknown contents.

    Surprisingly luck hadn't been on LaVan's side. He actually had to fight his sister in his 6th match. He decided to let her go ahead and fight, and he forfeited as a gentleman to his little sister. If he hadn't given up the fight out of sibling love, who knew how far he would have made it. 

    LeeAnn won quite a few matches before claiming 5th place. She fought Xavier, the genius Crafter of the younger generation. Everyone knew she would lose this fight, but that didn't stop her from trying.
  • Apologies for the delay in uploading Chapter 6. I was away during the Thanksgiving Holiday week. I'll post Chapter 6 & 7 today!

    "You get a chapter!" "You get a chapter!" "Everyone get's a chapter!"
  • Chapter 6
    Results of the Tournament Pt. 2

    "It's known that Xavier is the genius of you guy's peers. He's sure to have a great future; you can't use any permanently damaging arrows on him." The First reminded LeeAnn. She had a full arsenal of all types of very dangerous arrows, but she didn't use them here, she left those at in her other quiver due to LaKiesha's warning, however in an in-the-wild situation she wouldn't hesitate to use them.

    "You can do it!" LaVan yelled in an encouraging manner. As far as the siblings were concerned, there were many among their peers that could fight them equally, Crafter or not...except Xavier. He was unique. Two years ago he had won the contest of the younger generation of Crafters and was allowed to be tutored by the First himself. Under the First he became only the 2nd 7th ranked Elementary Crafter under the age of 12 the Clan had ever had in its 2,000-year history. Under the First's tutelage, Xavier was gaining massive experience on a continuous basis. The First was all for practical application. He wouldn't let a student of his take pride in his level, who cares about an arbitrary number if you could only smash wood and create Crafting Tables quickly. 

    "Fight!"

    Xavier never underestimated anyone, since he hung around the First he often trained with LaVan and LeeAnn in spite of him being a Crafter genius and them being Commoners. He knew how dangerous this archer was and he knew he had to take her out quickly. He had once cooperated with LaVan in training to tag LeeAnn in a perilous perversion of a game of tag in which LeeAnn shot arrows with TNT or paralysis poisons on them and the two young men had to reach her and tag her within half an hour. That was the First's assignment in one of his weeks coaching on the topic of leveraging long distance and cooperative battles. Xavier remembered how hard it was to take LeeAnn down: now with no Ring of Accuracy no large-scale TNT, and no LaVan to help draw fire and attention away he saw himself at a smaller disadvantage in spite of his high-level crafting abilities. 

    Miniature TNTs were no permissible in the Tournament as the Final 20 were now in bouts. 

    "Humph! Xavier is going to crush her." One kid who had lost to LaVan exclaimed said full of conceit.
    "Well, why does he look so serious? You don't think he's nervous about a little bow and arrow from a crippled Commoner do you?"
    "No way! He's always like that. I don't think he'll smile even if he wins the entire tournament."
    "LeeAnn has swept the board though; she's beat everyone who stepped foot on the stage with her."
    "Who cares, bow and arrows are great for long distance, and Xavier can get inside, he's able to handle self-enchantments of the higher levels since he's reached the peak of the Elementary Crafting Realm."
    "Yeah, as soon as he gets close she's done for." Everyone had something to say. LeeAnn was undoubtedly under pressure. She had typically only used one arrow at the most 2 to defeat her opponents, the match had been going for nearly 4 minutes, and she hadn't stopped shooting arrows yet. This speaks to Xavier's dodging and blocking capabilities. He had splashed enchantments upon himself over and over as he dodged and blocked. The enchantments could tax the body and temporarily decrease the effectiveness within a short amount of time. However Xavier had calculated what was within his capabilities and what was not—he had a sharp mind.

    He was getting closer and closer to LeeAnn, but his face hadn't relaxed. "Phase 1...this is going to take a while, I'll need at least 8 of these splash potions," Xavier thought to himself. Xavier lived with The First for seven months out of the year for his special lessons. He had seen the way the First and even LaKeisha sparred with LeeAnn. She was adept in martial arts techniques, in particular, The First's secret personally created techniques, "Body Mechanics" he called them. 

    "The body bends this way, not that way, bend the arm the wrong way to cause pain and make your opponent submit." 
    "No! Break the leg like this." 
    "Well, if the bone sticks out the arm you've broken the limb well! HAHAHAHA!" 

    Xavier could recall The First's lessons in martial arts as he often watched him with his Commoner children whom he seemed to teach and spar with without mercy. A shiver traveled down his spine just thinking about it. 

    Xavier braced himself as he picked up one of LeeAnn's arrows which was planted firmly in the stage and tossed it her way with enhanced strength. She dodged left, and he kept throwing the arrows her way, she could shoot her arrows while running, but wouldn't be nearly as accurate. The first leaf of his plan had worked. "Phase 2! Finally" Xavier thought as he threw five small TNTs which could certainly put one on their butt! 
    "Ugh!" LeeAnn narrowly dodged 2 and shot 2, but 1 caught her just right destabilizing her footing. 

    "Phase 3!" A low shout sounded in Xavier's mind. Xavier was finally in close range. He wasn't thrilled at the time it took, but at least he had about a 75% chance at victory vs. a paltry 20% when he was fighting long distance and dodging as if his life depended on it. 

    "HIA" an overhand chop landed on LeeAnn's bow, she didn't put her bow away. Instead, she used it like a bo staff at first dodging blows and deflecting kicks and punches while she kicked and punched Xavier. The flurry was exciting, and the onlookers were in complete SILENCE. 

    You could hear a mosquito fart! 

    No one knew LeeAnn the soft-spoken, shy, healing archer, who occasionally dabbled in poison was proficient in martial arts training. She flipped her bow, "Get Lost!" she shouted as she pushed Xavier's hips with the string side of the bow. The pushback was simple and didn't cause much distance, but this was just a distraction as LeeAnn picked up one of her arrows with a sleeping poison on its tip and stabbed it at Xavier sneakily.

    "Not slick enough LeeAnn!" Xavier retrieved a stone ax refined and enchanted with SMITE at level 3. He used the gift of Crafting! Leveraging the might of his 7th ranked Elementary Crafting ability to break through the toughest material, he smashed LeeAnn's bow in half. The impact created an opening as LeeAnn closed her eyes to avoid damage, but only for a split second. Xavier's character was one of "Continue until victory!" LeeAnn had not even finished finding her footing from the blow as Xavier threw three small TNTs and which slightly lifted her off the ground. Xavier then struck LeeAnn while in mid-air with a stick enchanted with KNOCK-BACK level 3. 

    "Ouch!" "Ahhh!" Interestingly enough both Xavier and LeeAnn bellowed in pain at almost the same time. LeeAnn landed outside of the stage on her side with moist eyes.

    The crowd sucked in air between their teeth and grimaced in pain as if they were the ones to receive the blow.

    "Out of bounds! Xavier wins!" 

    Xavier was always a humble kid, but he would typically raise his hands or even give a slight nod to The First after a victory. There was none of that this time as he directly fainted on the stage. Everyone thought back and found it strange that they both yelled out in pain at that last moment turns out LeeAnn had a plan as well. She had poisoned Xavier with a paralysis potion, just in case she landed on the stage after the hit with the KNOCK-BACK enchanted stick. She didn't have her eyes fully open, or she might not have even bothered with that attack. She climbed the stairs back on to the stage after taking one of her healing potions and rubbed an antidote on the wound on Xavier's arm.

    She claimed her broken bow, and as if awakened out of a deep sleep the crowd went absolutely crazy!

    "She's certainly not a wallflower or flower vase now is she?"
    "Well who knew the bow and arrow could be so formidable, I'm going to find the fella who told me the bow was for losers and make him slap himself three times!"
    "How did she even recover in mid-air to poison him?"
    "I thought he had this in the bag, and he still won, but seeing him fall like that was too impressive."
    "Well, I'll be. A commoner vs. a genius! I wonder just how LaVan would have fought him."

    Roars and applause rang out for LeeAnn as if she had been the victor. She waved humbly and helped Xavier up who also received deafening applause. They walked off the wooden stage while cleaners gathered LeeAnn's arrows. They both walked to The First and both respectfully bowed, and he nodded back, utterly proud of both of them. Whichever one winning would have been fine by him.
  • edited December 2017
    Chapter 7
    Rewards and Revenge

    "A small bit of business that the entire region will need to note" The First wore a solemn and pride-filled face. "Our friends from the Northern region's Mogi-Tree Empire will be visiting within the next 3 years to reinforce the seal on the Abandoned Portal." 

    Portals were typically built with 1 per region in the most mundane areas and were everywhere in the wealthiest parts of the Minecraft world. The Abandon Portal was a portal sealed before the ancestors of the Adams Clan chose to settle in this mountainous region, and the Northern Mogi-Tree Empire was a Political and Crafting Powerhouse. Packed with Crafters who were of high ranking realms and filled with powerful and connected commoners. The scale of the Northern Region vs. the Eastern Region was like comparing a sprawling metropolis to a backwoods country area.

    "The Seal is typically reinforced every 100 years, but sudden waves of energy and force have caused it to weaken considerably. Our friends from the Mogi-Tree Empire are doing us a great service with their visit. Please do keep in mind how well they are to be treated both within the Adams Clan and throughout the Delta Village, and in our honorable Feather Line Empire." The First spoke as one with authority and pride. The Mogi-Tree Empire is not to be trifled with. Anyone who offended them might as well buy the blade to lop off their head themselves.

    "Now on to the matter at hand." The First raised the volume and lowered the octave of his voice. His voice was already booming throughout the area as it was reinforced with energy. "Congratulations to all of the younger generation! I am both proud and elated. To have seen you put your all out there on the stage and honorably contend with one another." The First continued a grandiose speech to the Adams Clan concerning their bright future and encouraging continued growth for both the clan and the Empire. 

    "I know the prizes have typically been more modest but thanks to our current standing as the number 2 clan in the Delta Village mountainous region we can go a little above our typical budget this year." The First glanced at his wife LaKeisha and smiled, saying "We should certainly give a round of applause to LaKiesha with this in mind." 

    A roaring applause and a few bows as well from some of the former generation elders and leaders in the Delta Region.

    One should know the Adams Clan was the lowest of all clans until LaVan The First and LaKeisha won the Elder's Competition and were voted into Clan Headship 3 years ago. LaVan's strength and LaKiesha's business savvy were enough to propel the Adams Clan to the number 3 Clan in the mountainous Delta Village region. The First enhanced the Clan's manpower through strategic and martial arts training and LaKiesha found ways to leverage the Adam's Clan's internal motivation for strength as a service to others. First starting a Mercenary Group which would adventure into the mountains collecting all kinds of precious treasures and monster droppings. Then using that same muscle on rotation to stay within the clan and shopping districts to provide security and transportation services. Then she leveraged both raw and processed goods to exploit an underserved market—the healers and refiners. 

    The first targeted markets were the healers and pill refiners. These positions were lucrative, but always in short supply, Crafters would instead enhance their fighting skills and adventure, but not their alchemy or healing arts, which were tasks which even commoners could perform with the right materials. Alchemy required a different type of cultivation altogether, and even some alchemist were as powerful as Emperor Realm Crafters by their associations. While the healers and alchemist were able to be in high demand as everyone needed to be healed or helped, they were often the most natural target for the worst of society. LaKeisha gathered healers, alchemist, and spiritual doctors under the Adams Clan's protection and began selling their wares throughout the entire region via a complicated commissioning deal with the Mint Crown Auction House. With these types of transactions on the table, she continuously ensures that the Utopia House (that is the home of the First's Family) and the rest of the Adams Clan stayed in the green year over year. This change over a short three year period had the Clan elders considering the benefit of a longer than a 5-year rotation of Clan Heads in an attempt to keep The First and LaKiesha in command.

    "The rewards for this year are for the 1st through the 3rd place—as well as honorary prizes for 4th to 10th places." An expensive yet not so rare Diamond Sword with a double enchantment, three times refined by a blacksmith was the first place prize. 

    Generous!! 

    Before the recent influx of cash, this type of item wouldn't even be seen by the Adams' Clan Leadership, much less the youths! The prizes continued on a downward trajectory with the 4th through 10th places receiving an Essence Stone of Healing attribute and a book of "Body Mechanics, Vol. 1 of 10." Essence Stones could have all type of attributes dependent upon what one infused the stone with. Essence stones were a heavenly raw material which absorbed the essence of enchanted or naturally endowed objects. Essence stones could be forcibly imbued with many attributes. They were also the raw material used for both storage rings and memory stones. With enough soul and mental strength, techniques could be infused into the Essence Stones converting their use to memory stones. It was more common to use the transformed memory stone to create copies of techniques for scrolls simply and books. This process was well known yet and the lower the grade of the technique or information the lower the degree of materials used to make it happen.

    Rewarding a book he published might have seemed self-serving and frugal, but it is well-known that The First was no pure theorist. He was even requested by the Emperor of the SouthWestern Feather Line Kingdom to come to the Royal Capital Lion Gate City and tutor the royal family and their guardian's martial art's theory and the ways of war and strategy in the past. Even today it wasn't entirely uncommon for a noble to come to the mountainous region and ask for traveling protection from the Adams' Clan Mercenary Group who had received training in the ways of war and martial arts from The First. He was also called "Elder of the Warrior's Way" by those in the Royal Capital-Lion Gate City. However, since marriage and children, he much preferred this quiet atmosphere as he had had his fill of daring travels back in his youth.

    Smiles adorned the faces of almost everyone present, but where there are winners there are losers and some losers especially people who lost to the Crippled Commoner Siblings were very upset. 

    ****

    "I'm going to crush them!"
    "Those are the heads' kids. We'll have to smart about it." A group of a dozen or so youths spoke in the corner of the courtyard where people were cleaning up the stages.
    "Look we lost fair and square. What exactly are we hoping to accomplish by fighting those two cripples?"
    "We had a limitation on our equipment. If I used the swords, my father gave me I would have killed that crippled fool." One child spoke growing angrier by the syllable.
    "But they had limitations on their equipment too. Remember LeeAnn removed her Ring of Accuracy. If she wore that just who would have beaten her? That Xavier is a freak, who won the whole tournament."
    "If you're scared then leave! We don't need some chicken messing up our plans." 
    "Yeah, get out of here, and we'll take care of it. I want my revenge for this humiliation."
    "I agree, my old man's gonna have my tail for this insult, I just know it. I'll feel better if I give those two a few clean slaps on the face!"
  • edited December 2017
    Chapter 8
    The Long Way Home

    The Bi-Annual Adams Clan Family Tournament was also a way the clan made money. LaKeisha had thought of every way possible to pull in income from this tournament, something not typically done by other clans and families in the area. 
    There was a fee for contestant entrance.
    A fee to spectate.
    A fee to wares sellers.
    A fee to food stalls. The amount made from food stalls was a new feature.
    Also new was the open selling of copies of the techniques available at the first level of the Adams Clan Technique Hall.
    The seats next to VIP cost more than regular seats and customary gifts from those who were too high up the social ladder to expect payment from, a new VIP area—for the leadership of the Delta Village who had wanted a different level of customer service than others. 
    Not even the rewards came out of the coffers of the Adams Clan as the local branches of auction houses desired to have a continued peaceful relationship with the Adams Clan. While auction houses typically held a neutral standing at all times between the 4 Clans. LaKeisha requested that the auction houses and other local businesses donate beautiful wares, weapons, techniques, and such to be used for prizes to the youth as a form of advertisement. They latched on the idea like water in a desert. LaKeisha's business sense was genuinely other-worldly. With financial records and balances needing to be aligned and tallied, LaKeisha and The First required more time at the Central office's courtyard, LaVan and LeeAnn were told to head home on their own.

    Most of the youth who participated in the events were going to a home of celebration even though they didn't all win; families are particular like that, enjoying the achievements of their children. Some of the youths would immediately need to retreat into closed-door cultivation being that they made a breakthrough to different ranks during the matches and are necessary to consolidate their cultivation and understandings and yet more so kids are necessary to rest and think through the comprehensions of techniques used and tool or weapon techniques.

    However, about a half mile away from the Utopian Courtyard which was the home of LaVan and LeeAnn there was a group of children lying in wait for them. LeeAnn and LaVan were in high spirits. They had finally proven themselves as real contenders in spite of not being Crafters. This joy created a feeling of euphoria among the already close siblings. To say LaVan and LeeAnn walked around with their guards up was an understatement. Even without the enhanced senses of a Crafter, the siblings were often able to detect enemy presences and also able to quickly prepare for battle. Today, however, riding upon the wings of notable victories the two were rejoicing and paying little attention to their surroundings as they walked the familiar path to their courtyard.

    The path was usually desolate the eastern sector of the Adams Clan Estates held a portal which was never opened and always guarded for many generations. For many years the area's abandoned portals would be visited by delegations from the Northern Empire's MogiTree Mountains. The Northern Empire was an unspeakable powerhouse in the Minecraft Continent. Why they would visit here to pay attention to the sealed abandoned portal was a mystery to everyone, even the Clan Head was ignorant of what those powerhouses were doing exactly. So while there were other Portal Grounds of the Clan, this unique portal was often in disrepair, and no one paid even the slightest bit of attention to it. The MogiTree Empire would provide some small payment to the Clan who inhabited this area, and the other royalty would turn a blind eye to this money not daring taxing it. The First would only say that the pay was a "Hazard Grant."

    This path was navigated every day by the two youths, out of the portal grounds came a group of rascals with vengeful faces. They were clapping in sarcastic applause.

    "Good. Very good. Congratulations on your recent victories over us." Argus said with a sneer while leading the group.
    LaVan and LeeAnn immediately raised their guard. Alertness took over the gazes which were once filled with jubilant happiness. LaVan took the vanguard, and LeeAnn stood directly behind him after using her peripheral vision to scan their backs. If they were surrounded she would tap LaVan's shoulder, and they would assume a different arrangement, but it seemed desolate to their backs, so she merely stood on guard.

    "Thank you, Argus. I'm sure I wouldn't have won had you been less lenient. If you all don't have anything else, we'll be on our way." LaVan spoke in a resolute manner with a slight smile.
    "It's good that you know I went easy on you!" Argus shouted "If we had fought under different rules, I would beat you to a pulp like I usually did last year. Argus glared while blocking the path.

    Last year the First was okay with LaVan and LeeAnn fighting their cousins and relatives in the Adams Clan, but he didn't want them just doing so without reason. Also with the Bi-Annual Tournament approaching it was just smart not to get hurt in meaningless scuffles.
    "I understand. So if that's all..." LaVan turned to walk the other way back to the central courtyard where his parents were. The two siblings facing even the 20 kids weren't necessarily afraid of them, they just didn't want to be caught up in something that was sure to blow out of proportion. Little did they know that premonition was more accurate than they could ever imagine.

    "I'm not done! We have somethings to discuss immediately!" Argus shouted, and his cronies fanned out around the two blocking their respective paths. Upon closer inspection, the people LaVan and more so the folks LeeAnn defeated were almost all there.

    "LaVan. We're going to have to fight our way out of here." LeeAnn whispered in LaVan's ear. The two were confident, but not to a fault; they understood that standing toe-to-with genuine Novice and Elementary Realm Crafters without weapons to provide some assistance was just a way to go hand over your body for a beating. 

    Two twin stone swords enchanted with KNOCK-BACK and SMITE came out LaVan's storage ring and danced in the air like twin water dragons as he prepared himself to destroy the enemies in front of him. He also took a quick inventory of what he had made before leaving home; some miniature TNTs, some Poison bombs, Food, Water, the Twin Sticks he used in his matches and the double twinned rope used in his fight with Argus, among some other things. Nothing he needed and nothing he would have if he were venturing out to fight hordes in the plains...unfortunately, LaVan didn't feel confident in his stored goods for this fight. 

    LeeAnn retrieved her practice bow and a quiver full of arrows with various enchantments and herbal rubs on them, extracted from the stage from her battle with Xavier. She also put on her ancient Ring of Accuracy. LeeAnn took a quick inventory: poisons and one auto-formation of the poison attribute created by her mother. Food, water, toxins, medicines and the book she won as a 4th place contender, an essence stone of healing and a golden apple or two. As far as what they typically carried on them vs. what they had on them, they had been caught unprepared.

    "Looks like you've resigned to show us your courage. But don't think that you can do what you want here! We're going to give you a good beating and then we'll let you go home a bit more humble. That's all." 

    "Yeah, take your beating like good little children!" One of the young ladies present said waving her Iron Sword preparing for battle.

    "HAHAHAHAHAHAA" the rascals laughed in cold unison.

    "Before we begin," LeeAnn said quietly. "Please understand we left our mercy back on the stage."
    "HAHAHAHA!" LaVan laughed. "Well said Little Sister LeeAnn! These scoundrels will catch the wrath they've come searching for." 

    Both the siblings had wrath and even a juvenile killing intent dance across their young eyes. To be pushed to this extent in their own home was truly crossing their bottom line.
  • Chapter 9
    It's a Dead End

    LaVan attacked the entire group of kids in front of him with a vicious gaze, while LeeAnn jumped backward atop the fence against the path they where they were walking. She dropped a row of poison in a circular fashion surrounding her and tossed LaVan a bottle of antidote should he have to jump back into the defense of the poison potion. 

    LaVan charged the group wielding his Twin Swords just as he would the Twin Sticks, yet more ferociously. The dual blades cross-crossed as he blocked, parried, and attacked four opponents at once, all mid-level Novice Crafters!

    This attack method of his just wouldn't be possible if there were Elementary Crafters in the group facing LaVan. LeeAnn understood they were in dire straits. She targeted the known Elementary Crafters striking them with arrows poisoned with paralysis effects. Argus was prepared for this and had already given everyone present the anti-paralysis antidote which provided immunity to the arrows for nearly 2 hours, of course, the youths who got hit would feel a slight numbing sensation, but no one was prevented from moving forward, just slowed down a bit. She noticed the attacking children were not stopping and a small sense of panic began to rise in her heart.

    "Force him back to LeeAnn's poison and gunpowder formation!" Elementary Crafters joined the fray and pushed LaVan back aggressively. He wasn't too concerned as he already held the antidote. Moving back to this simple and quickly thrown together poison formation could give him some time to recoup. He resisted slightly but hopped backward fending off a few attacks from an enchanted shovel from one of the rascals.

    "I'm not able to stop them with paralysis poisoned arrows. Come back!" LeeAnn yelled not able to hide the anxiety in her voice. LaVan made it into the first layer of gunpowder and poison formation but hadn't made it into the clearing LeeAnn laid down.

    THOWWWSH! BOOM "AAAGHHHAA!"

    An arrow shot from an unsteady hand of one of the youths, with a flame enchantment on it, landed haphazardly on the ground, hitting the formation and an explosion sounded with LaVan crying out in pain. Some of the other children were hurt as well. Apparently, no side was prepared for the formation to go off. No one knew if the arrow hit the formation on purposely or by accident. Some of the children were startled enough by this and a seemingly chared LaVan and ran off in various directions trembling at the thought of the punishment that would come down on them.

    LaVan didn't have Crafting abilities, and so he couldn't surround his body with the Crafting energy that any crafter could use to defend against explosions of different scales. He fell back wounded and poisoned. He convulsed slightly and screamed. LeeAnn understood this was the worst of outcomes. She had a few arrows with sleep concoctions on them. LeeAnn immediately released over half dozen arrows dropping the closest Elementary Crafters to the ground in a swift stupor. She gave LaVan a bite of a golden apple. A gift from their mother and one that never left their storage rings. While he took a bite, she passed him another antidote. The antidote he was holding on to earlier was destroyed in the blast as he was preparing to swallow it.

    "Uhh. Don't you think this is too far?" One of the little girls next to Argus asked hesitantly. She hadn't left yet but was certainly thinking about it.
    "What?!? Are you chickening out?” Argus yelled at his partner in crime. “I want that kid to suffer! These injuries aren't anything now that he bit into that apple!" Argus was furious! He was rubbing the semi apparent line on his neck as he spoke furiously.
    "Even with biting the apple, without the Crafting Core to process the energies of the apple appropriately, at most it'll heal his body, but hurt his insides more. Maybe we should just leave, he's hurt enough."

    "ENOOOOOUGH!" 
    Argus slapped the girl to the ground as he yelled and looked at LaVan with the eyes of a savage beast.
    "I couldn't breathe. I almost wet my pants when you had that rope around my neck." Argus said as he removed a rope from his storage ring. "Just consider this payback." He smiled maliciously.

    LaVan laughed, "HAHAHAHA!" *Cough* *Cough* Oh, you think your face is scary? ... We are... more monstrous... than you'll ever be.... LeeAnn! Do it!" He yelled hoarsely through a string of coughs.

    THWOOSH THWOOSH THWOOSH BOOM BOOM THWOOSH THWOOSH BOOM BOOM BOOM THWOOSH THWOOSH A frantic barrage of arrows. LeeAnn not needing to worry about aim shot off more than four arrows at a time. Arrows enchanted with KNOCK-BACK, SMITE, some with little TNT attached all flew out. All those mentioned above with what seemed like multiple smoke and pepper bombs deployed immediately created a mess of the scene. 

    Coughs and wheezing were heard from all the throats of the kids present.
    "Get them!" Argus and two Elementary Crafter behind him commanded.
    "What about the poison formation?" The kids said almost unable to breathe in enough air to speak.
    "We'll beat the antidote out of that Poison Princess! Get in there!" Argus screamed.

    Agh! Agh! BOOM they broke into the formation and were poisoned, and somehow an explosion occurred. Cries were heard all around. A southern wind blew and cleared up the smoke a bit.

    "NOOOOOO!!!" Argus yelled toward the sky. For his eyes to be any redder, he'd have to transform into an albino rat.

    Vanished! The brother and sister duo were gone! 

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

    Somewhere within the abandoned portal ground

    "Do you need more of the apple?" LeeAnn asked a wounded LaVan. 
    "Nah, the golden apple is too powerful for a non-cultivator. It will do more harm than good if I eat it too much." LaVan said as he absentmindedly wiped a line of blood from his mouth. They were directly in front of an abandoned portal.
    "To think a group of our friends would make us like this."
    "They aren't friends! They are horrible people who smile when they hurt you! Stop being stupid!!" LeeAnn screamed at him. She hated this level of over-friendliness in LaVan. He was a loner but wanted to be liked and have friends just like other kids his age, but there was a lot of animosity among his peer group if for no other reason, because of his lack of a Crafting Core. He was a genius in every other area but seemed to lack socially, which wasn't helped much by a disciplinary dad and overprotective mother. They were the non-crafting crippled pair of siblings with a genius father and heavenly mother. "Friends wouldn't do this to each other." LeeAnn’s voice tapered off emotionally, and tears began to well up in her soft eyes as she looked at LaVan's injuries.
    "I know..." LaVan whispered holding his chest. He knew better than anyone LeeAnn was his true friend, Xavier a close second. "Set up the protection formation. They'll catch up soon." He said dejectedly.

    Gunpowder and poison mixed with no way of escape as their backs were against the portal with three lines of defense and two traps LaVan quickly thought up were also laid down. The siblings only had a small amount of time to get this defense scrapped together in case they came looking for them here, vs. heading to their home. LaVan had an arrow he used for emergencies to contact the First and LaKeisha. They would be at most two minutes away no matter how far they seemed away from home. Since they were within the confines of the village, it shouldn’t take their parents more than 30 to 60 seconds to arrive. He didn’t want to call them, however. LaVan wanted to take care of this himself. At most he assumed he would be beaten and then go home a bit banged up. They chose to fight! 

    "Found youuuu." Argus said calmly, trailing the "u" sound annoyingly. "And here I thought you had run home. Guess you couldn't make it that half a mile with your weak commoner bodies, huh?"

    "You've picked a good place as your burial ground." Another kid yelled out laughing while pointing at this dreary place.

    A portal ground was usually well kept and clear of debris. It was also well lit at all times and densely populated.  People would wander around the portal grounds seeking to sell to travelers, and some beggars were sat on the outskirts of the square to beg from those who traveled, it was difficult for the enforcement officers to keep the beggars out of the square entirely, so everyone had an understood compromise. The convenience of a portal wormhole which could carry people and materials from one part of the continent to another was a money maker no matter where you put it.  This portal ground was abandoned however and the portal sealed with a seal which was actively maintained by none of other than the Mogi-Tree Empire.

    "Look out!" An Elementary Crafter yelled to a Novice Crafting kid. 

    BOOOM!!! 

    "How could you not see the trap there!?! It was a stick with a string on it! It's apparent! Idiot…" Argus said to himself. The kid who ran forward was slightly protected by some leather armor, but the concussive pain is still painful. The ground was a mess from being unkempt, so it was true that traps were hard to detect, but what kind of traps could a commoner kid make? Just look around!

    "Not as stupid as this brother/sister duo!" Argus jeered "This huge open area and they choose to back up toward this huge dead portal voluntarily! HAHAHAHAHAHA! Talk about being scared stupid!"

    Being in a dangerous situation is scary enough but intentionally cornering yourself while on the defensive was a smart move and not one done out of fear. The hardest place to defend in a fight is your back. If the wall is there, that's one less place for an enemy to be. A lesson learned from the First, and it's value experienced out in the open plains against the hordes. The siblings spread their attention outwards toward the enemies and watched them attack the formation and fall into the few booby traps LaVan and LeeAnn had set up. The poison formations and gunpowder formations were blowing up one after the other, and very quickly only the last two rows of small TNT traps and poison circles were untouched. Also, LaVan had been firing off small explosives and KNOCK-BACK stones with his trusty slingshot. His range is nothing compared to the range of a bow and arrow, but he could handle the front line of enemies while his sister attacked the Crafters in the back with no misses.

    Argus had his Elementary Crafters shooting arrows with miniature TNT attached to them toward the brother and sister. LaVan and LeeAnn dodged narrowly on the abandoned Portal platform. With every explosion, the portal frame would quake. 

    Crack! Crack! Crack!

    Cracking and splintering sounds resounded but were well hidden beneath the explosions of the TNT being fired off at the kids.

    SHATTERS! 

    As if a 1,000-foot mirror dropped from the top of a building, something broke. No one knew what it was, but the sound had been so loud, it resounded throughout the entire clan grounds! No one within the Adams Clan or the surrounding 100-mile radius wouldn't have heard it. While the sound was loud, it wasn't ear piercing; instead, it was soul shaking. A sound that made the blood within your veins boil and your heart skip a beat. Argus's side stopped attacking, and so did LeeAnn and LaVan.

    Before the siblings had the sense to turn to turn around two old long arms reached out the portal's darkness and pulled them into it. The grip was astonishing, so painful. Their bodies could not muster a bit of strength. 

    SSSSSS!!!!!!! 
    A hissing sound resounded as loud as the shattering sound did earlier. The portal remained still and shored itself up automatically as fast as it was cracked open. Within the next few moments, there was not the smallest of light or glimmers of movements within the ancient portal. One could say there was not even any evidence that the portal was ever activated, opened, or used!

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

    The western front of the northern region

    An envoy with Mogi-Tree Empire vassals and enchanters and all manner of people were on their way toward the Feather Line Empire, more directly, they were making a beeline to the Delta Village's mountainous region. 

    An enchanted emerald was being observed, by ten people. They seemed fixated on the glowing emerald. The emerald would repeatedly reveal small cracks. The cracks would immediately and seamlessly repair autonomously. The emerald also presented energy fluctuations; which were similar to ripples upon a little body of water in the air surrounding the emerald.

    "Old Kleaand!" One of the men—a stocky fellow with burly looks, addressed one of the older men of the bunch, "These fissures are being self-repaired, and none are so large as to cause an additional trip to that isolated area before the 100-year agreement. Why do we need to head there now?"

    "This type of activity of the seal failing and self-repairing is in fact normal. However, if you observe the cracks closely they are becoming bigger and bigger as time goes on." The old man leaned himself forward toward the stocky fellow and said. "We must be vigilant against all threats from that con..."

    CRACK!!!

    Before the old man could finish his sentence, a crack appeared which almost split the emerald in half. The break slowly but surely closed itself and smaller ripples and energy fluctuations continued as was the case before.

    "You see Elder Herald!" Exclaimed a young woman who sat next to Elder Kleaand. "This is why! Who knows what just came out, that crack was large enough for something to slip through!"

    "This is awful indeed." said an elderly woman of the ten or so gathered, "If something from that place did come out, our entire continent would be in danger, and anyone in the surrounding vicinity of the portal will surely perish."

    The group of over ten folks looked at each other with pained expressions.

  • Chapter 10
    A Father's Wrath. A Mother's Sorrow


    The First was a crafter at the pinnacle of the Chi-Ji Realm; you could even say a half step into the Master Realm. LaKiesha was at the 6th rank of the Master Realm. The only Master Realm crafter in the entire Delta Village! Being in the Chi-Ji and Master Realm meant they could fly and their detection capabilities were some of the highest in the clan. Within the Adams Clan, there were only 4 Chi-Ji Realm Crafters, but the other two were just of the 2nd and 5th rank. Within the entire Delta Village a small backwoods area only 7 Chi-Ji Realm Crafters could be found. The First was the genius of his generation in the Adams Clan advancing through the realms at a breakneck pace, attaining a cultivation of 1st Rank Chi-Ji at the early age of 30 years old. He continued until even today at 55 years old to the peak of the Chi-Ji Realm. This bottleneck between Chi-Ji and Master Realms was formidable, and he quickly realized he would either spend the rest of his life here; as his best years for cultivation were behind him, or he would have to find some fortuitous opportunity to breakthrough. The medicines which aided one in breaking through the Chi-Ji Realm to the Master Realm were few and far in-between with massive backlashes happening frequently. Cultivation is after all a dangerous game.

    With this thinking, he began to isolate means and techniques to compensate for what he believed was a lack of power and mastered battling across the different realms. He perfected these methods via friendly and dangerous spars with LaKeisha. As he had met her when he was still in the Reeve Realm and she in the Master's Realm.

    The Delta Region did contain many mountains and wildernesses which gathered monsters and hordes of a unique background. The First put his efforts into training when he was younger and made the most dangerous areas of the mountainous region his stomping grounds. 

    LaKeisha was another story, a woman with a mysterious background who by her admission had forgotten her upbringing. The First was on the Eastern side of the northern mountain range continuing his cultivation some 20 years ago—when passing by a particular area with a destroyed landscape. No dead bodies were around. Only broken arrows, swords, armors, and enchanted stones used to focus energy on shooting or formation creation. One look and one would know this area was a scene for a great battle, and just one person lay there in the midst of ruins and chaos under a sky filled with energy fluctuations. The First had dedicated most of his life to training, crafting, and cultivating, he very rarely interacted with people at all. However, the first time he laid eyes on her he knew she was the most beautiful and powerful woman he had seen—ever. Her dark chocolate colored skin radiated a golden hue as if angelic, her jet black hair was tied in locks and bound up. She was battle-ready.

    The First began to nurse her wounds understanding a little about medicine and care being one of those adventurers would often be alone, he had to know how to treat himself. There was little he could do for her. He only cared for her, fed her, and defended her from others and beasts. She seemed indifferent and cold and never seemed to desire a relationship or even to be alive at times. However, she was weak now, and if nothing else, habit is a scary thing for humans. In the two years of her recovery, she became somewhat dependent upon The First emotionally. She trusted him and he trusted her. He would talk to her about the things that surrounded them. Talking about common plants, medicines, core works, etc. She absorbed it all without effort, and as The First treated her wounds, he found that her Crafting Core was sealed with a dangerous formation. One which he had never seen, it's level of sophistication was directly not of this world. 

    The seal wouldn't break with external effort, and his haphazard treatments would not endanger her either; however, it sealed her cultivation at the Master's Realm. From the complex formation array, it would appear that this woman could have been above the Sage Realm at one point, was such a thing even possible? She was probably not from around these parts. With dire straits all around and mystery abounding the couple quickly fell in love with one another as they braved the wilderness together and LaKeisha nursed back to health. The First enjoying her cold yet curious attitude, even though she was quite indifferent at times. She would later reveal how delighted she was to have someone so dedicated and driven to protect, provide, and care for her she was in spite of how bad she treated him.

    LaKeisha was already in the Master's Realm those 20 years ago, but with the Seal, her cultivation remained unchanged. The truth of the matter is she didn't need to progress any further the number of people in the Master's Realm was few and far in between in the entire South Western Empire. It was clear at her peak she was probably even stronger, but with injuries to her Crafting Core, she was at most only able to retain the energy cultivation of a Master Realm Crafter of the 6th Rank.


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

    Abandoned Portal Area

    The leaders of the Adams Clan were flying directly to the abandoned portal. While the sound indeed resounded as if next to everyone's ear making it hard to track the sound, the energy fluctuations were similar to ripples within a tranquil lake flowing through the atmosphere. For a Master or even a Reeve Realm Crafter following fluctuations to their source was a simple matter. 

    "What just happened?!?" One child said.

    "Noooo!!!!" Another young one with both hands on her head said as she dropped to her knees in fear. The people who disappeared weren’t ordinary commoners. Who would care if a commoner went missing? Those who went missing were the children of the Head of the Clan and his mother was a known crazy woman who was a Master at the 6th Rank! 
    In this kid’s mind, they had directly signed their own death certificate.

    "We're dead; we're all dead!" A peak novice crafter shouted.

    "You took it too far Argus!!!!"

    As the reality quickly sat in, the leader was to blame, and if anyone were taking a fall for this, it would be the “evil” Argus.

    The elders who could fly were flying in while the others quickly followed on foot jumping across rooftops and skimming across the treetops. “What happened here little ones?” A voice distant at first and then as close as right next to you was transmitted across the air to the children in the abandoned portal grounds area. Everyone looked up to the west and descending as a royal heir The First said half gently and half aggravated. 

    “Speak.” As the First landed and the elders gathered around. LaKeisha remained floating in the air looking down with an air of indifference which was her default face. The entire older generation gathering thought it was just mindless naughtiness as they approached a recognized the group of young crafters, but the anxiety on the children's faces signaled a different story.
    “The portal, something came out the portal and snatched them!”
    “The portal opened?” Elder RedWing asked.
    “Yes! A hand took them in” a child cried out.
    “Took who in?” The First asked tilting his head. He was already shaken, by the fact that a portal sealed by the Mogi-Tree Empire would be able to open and now someone had been snatched in.

    “LaVan and LeeAnn.”

    “WHAT!” A murderous intent quickly enveloped the entire area. LaKiesha was going to kill someone and kill them now. As a Master leveled aura was released how could anyone below the Reeve Realm not quiver and nearly faint! Three or four of the Novice Realm children immediately fell to their knees grabbing their throats gasping for air. 

    “LaKiesha, restrain your aura! We have to find out what happened.” The First said. “Elder RedWing quickly go to the Medicine Pavilion and gather the materials to activate the more ancient portals, while there grab some seal breaking formation scrolls. We must move quickly.” 

    The First’s hope was that the seal was weak enough for them to assault it and quickly go in retrieving the children.

    “Tell me everything that happened in detail! Don’t make me end the lives of our promising future generation.” One of the Elders said, vehemently. His children were at home and to think this offense was happening to the Clan Head's family, in front of the Clan's visitors and patrons. The children were shuddering and looking at one another too afraid to speak. 

    “TALK NOW!” LaKiesha ordered from the sky with her aura not even held in check in the least. Two of the lower level Elementary Crafter directly fainted.
  • Chapter 11
    Come With Me If You Want To Live

    The children rehearsed what happened without leaving out one detail. Lying to Crafters was the hardest things to do. The aura of one’s body directly reflected the contents of their hearts. Also, these were children, not battle-hardened mercenaries. Knowing if the truth was told was as easy as flipping one’s hand.

    LaKeisha’s aura shot toward Argus’ body. He immediately fell to his knees begging for his sorry life. By this time Elder RedWing Argus’ uncle had returned. He quickly stood in front of Argus and took on the brunt of LaKeisha’s aura and killing intent. Killing intent is exactly that; an intention to kill. Aura’s intentions, feelings, etc. could be felt as real as the wind blowing through one’s hair. The desire to turn Argus into mincemeat was an action LaKiesha intended to execute. In doing so, Argus could even foresee his death. He became afraid and unable to breathe and began to wet his pants...again until Elder Redwing stood in front of him blocking the killing intent. 

    For LaKiesha these people were kind enough, but they were foreign to her. The First, LaVan, and LeeAnn were her family. They were all she knew and accepted in her heart. Destroying this whole clan was something that wouldn’t bother her one bit if it meant protecting her children and those she loved. However, the First was a different story. He had struggled and fought to protect, provide for, and increase the strength of this clan. He couldn’t just kill the future generation of the family. He looked at LaKeisha and assured her that getting the kids back would be their top priority and that she didn’t have to do anything at the moment.

    She looked at the First. His answers and planning were apparently not reassuring as she immediately began to shed concerned tears.

    BOOM! BOOOM!!

    An explosion that even enchanted TNT could produce was just released. The ground shook, and everyone below the Reeve realm was blown back by 100 steps, some sliding and others flying through the air like a kite with a cut string. LaKiesha was attacking the portal seal. She had heard that enchanted TNT shot and thrown from elementary crafters was a trigger for this portal ripple in the seal. So she attacked with all she had.

    Nothing.

    Not one ripple. How this anomaly happened was something no one knew, but it could be assumed from watching the response to a 6th Rank Master’s attack which held nothing back, that there was more to it than a blast of force. Something synergistically must have happened, but what exactly they were all unaware. Possibly something on the other side of the portal affected it? Thinking about it, since something reached out and grabbed her beloved children it must be more than just explosions and ripples. 

    After a full 10 hours of ancient seal removal attempts, attacks from all elders and LaKeisha combined a profound sense of anxiety crept into their hearts. The parents were out of energy, options, and beginning to lose hope.
    “First! First! Urgent news! Good News!” a servant quickly raced over and said. "Report!" The First said only half paying attention.

    “An advanced envoy just met us at the border within three months an expert sealing team from Mogi-Tree Empire will be here to investigate this very portal.” Everyone was elated, and some breathed a massive sigh of relief…except the First.
    “Thank you, ensure that everything is prepared for their arrival and be sure to pass on this recent misfortune as we hope it will expedite their arrival.”
    The First looked at LaKeisha with some semblance of encouragement, but she knew as well as him that it was no accident that the MogiTree Empire’s Sealing Elders were on their way—so far ahead of schedule no less.

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

    On the other side of the abandoned portal. 

    Passing through a portal was nothing all too unfamiliar to LaVan and LeeAnn. However, an ancient portal was new. The feeling of nausea that immediately hit was almost incomparable, and the headache was even worst. An old man, decrepitly old, with no fluctuations of cultivator’s energy was standing before them. He looked almost apologetic. 

    They looked around, and they were no longer in the portal grounds instead they were in the midst of an ancient jungle. It was night time, and the jungle was extremely lively with wildlife noises. Colossal treetops blocked the moonlight, and the thick foliage looked to have overtaken everything in sight. The ground was wet and portal behind them looked 100x more forsaken as the portal they passed through on the other side.

    “Where are we?” “Why did you pull us in here?” They asked the old man with a sheer fear and killing intent in their eyes.

    Howling in the distance caused the old man to look to his right as if he was able to see through the thick brush and forest at his targets. He looked back at the two siblings who were holding onto each other and then glanced at the portal behind them and sighed. “Come with me if you want to live.” His voice sounded as if it was all the will to speak he could muster. He seemed to have lost all will even to go on. He voice was cracking and marked by a melancholic depressive tone.

    He turned and took a few steps to walk away yet the two siblings had not moved. He turned around looking at them deeply, and he said, “This is a place far worse than your continent of origin and if you think you can make it not crafting you’re wolf bait or worse. I won’t ask again. It was wrong of me to pull you in here, but that can’t be undone now. Come with me, and you will live, and we can discuss getting you back home soon enough.” The old man turned around and walked away. 

    The siblings looked at each other and were startled by the howling wolves in the distance seemingly closer than when they first heard the howl. “We can’t stay here. We’re too injured to put a fight against a horde of wolves. We don’t even know their levels.” LaVan told LeeAnn. The two started to cautiously follow the old man, keeping a healthy distance and looking at their surroundings as they might be able to abandon the old man if a town comes into view. But there was nothing but thick underbrush, jungle flora, glowing red eyes, and the sort.

    LeeAnn tugged on LaVan’s shirt and showed him a deadly poison bomb. LaVan nodded. “Keep the poisons ready; we might need to wound this old man and go back to the portal during the day.” LeeAnn nodded, and LaVan started dropping tracers from the portal to wherever he was headed. He didn’t want to be lost in this thick and expansive jungle if he had to make it back here in the day from wherever he was going.

    The old man seeming curious threw his voice behind him and spoke a few words. “I saw your fight through the portal; you’re both quite good.” He asked, “With Shattered Pearl Bodies you both could be immensely more powerful, why don’t you cultivate crafting? Are non-Crafters that arrogant on your continent now?”

    “!!!!” Silent surprise! Not only did he recognize the siblings’ problems with their bodies he asked almost flippantly why they weren’t crafting…as if it was a possibility. Was it a possibility?

    The siblings stopped in their tracks and looked at the old man with puzzled astonishment. The old man looked back and was confused by the look on their faces; he turned around, “Fine. Don’t tell me if you don’t want to. I was just making conversation anyway.” 

    “Wait, old man!” LaVan said.
  • Fellow Daoists.

    I'm consolidating these chapters into a book. The first book is done. Would you continue to post full free chapters or would you just post teasers and put a link to the book in the post...or even use Patron.

    What would Meng Hao do?
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