The Godless one

I will be posting this story on

the continent of [Green Willows] is filled with cultivators using the blessings granted to them at birth to strive for greater and greater power, aiming to one day become a god in their own right. in a small village situated in a far off corner of the continent lives a small child, Huang Ying, abandoned by both the gods and his kin, unable to cultivate, he is ostracized by the village and scorned by its inhabitants, but his body is inhabited by both his own soul and the soul of an old cultivator and carries a secret forgotten even by the gods themself. 

Carrying the dream of finding his kin and reaching the apex of power but lacking a gods blessing, follow Huang Ying as he strives to break through the shackles of this world and its gods.



  • Chapter 0: Prologue.

    On [Green Willows] continent, the moment a child is born, they gain a blessing from one of the many gods governing the world, this blessing will take shape as a mark of one of the elements. Once the mark has taken shape the power of that element will course through the body of the child and give shape to the child's meridians, allowing the child to start cultivating once they are old enough.

    [Azure Springs Town] is a small village with just over a thousand inhabitants located in a far off corner of [Green Willows.] It is a simple village build less than a hundred years ago by roaming cultivators who took a liking to the springs that the village took its name from. After a hundred years the original builders are gone and their story has become little but a legend that the parents tell their children to motivate them to cultivate, but despite this, the lack of proper resources has led to a steady decline in both the quantity and quality of cultivators.

    8 years ago a traveling couple came to this village and gave birth to a baby boy, naming him Huang Ying, signifying their hope that he will grow up to be a person that people can put their hopes in, but when he was born he did not receive a blessing from the gods, nor did the blessing develop during his infant years. This led to that when he was two years old, his parents left him with an old man simply called Old man Chen who lived at the edge of the village with his granddaughter and continued their journey, leading to the child being simply called [The abandoned son] in the village, a child abandoned by both the gods and his own kin.

    As Huang Ying grew he started displaying an unusually calm and intelligent temperament which only furthered the point that he was a strange person who was hard to get close to, so his only friends were Old man Chen and his granddaughter, Chen Chun. But what others don't know is that when he was born there was a cultivator attempting reincarnation whose soul was accidentally drawn into his body as well, leading to there existing two souls in his body, a foreign one calling itself Li Jun and the child's own soul. Li Jun transferred part of his life's knowledge to the child to allow him to grow faster so that he could reach a satisfactory level of power to allow Li Jun to re-create his body, but upon finding out that the child lacked a gods blessing and therefore the meridians needed to cultivate, he abandoned that idea an simply accepted that he would have to wait for Huang Ying to die to complete his reincarnation. But little do they know that Huang Ying carries a far greater secret than they could ever imagine.

  • Chapter 1: Huang Ying

    The sun had just risen, and snow was gently drifting down from above,

    but the streets of [Azure Springs] were already bustling with the noise of activity, today was the first day of the new year, which meant that it was also the day that [Golden Dawn Academy] would accept new students. At this time Huang Ying was also running through the streets, leaving behind small footprints in the snow, his houshold was to poor to afford shoes for all three of them so he had to run through the snow barefoot. His patched and off-colour clothes were sliglthy too small for him, but it did little to hide the elegant aura he was giving off, his shoulder length azure hair and jade like, limpid green eyes allowing him to catch attention no matter where he went.

    Huang Ying was already eight years old, so it was too late for him to try and enroll in the academy, it was also a well known fact that he did not have meridians like everyone else and was therefore a cripple. Weaving through the dense group of people flocking towards the academy subjected him to more than a few unkind gazes and a few filled with pity, but Huang Ying simply ignored them, he knew that no matter what he did these people wouldn't welcome him no matter what he did, all he wanted was to finish his errand as fast as possible and get back home.

    After weaving through the crowd for a little while he came to a large circular plaza devoid off buildings. The plaza was crowded even more than the streets, no matter where you looked you would see nothing but people, the only two places that had some space were the large square shaped fountain encasing the public well that was placed in the middle of the plaza, this well was the place where most of the poor people of the town got their water every morning and evening. The other place that was nearly devoid of people was the area directly in front of a large golden gate that led to a courtyard attached to a majestic mansion painted in the pures of gold, this was [Golden Dawn Academny] not just the largest and best cultivation academy in an area of over 500 miles, but also the only building in the town made of stone whilst the rest are made from wood or bamboo collected from the nearest forest. According to the history books in the public librabry it was erected as a command base used by visiting cultivaters during the last great war that took place in this [Mirrored Mountains] province, the books even say that there was a cultivator who had cultivated all the way to the 7th Heaven lodging there once.

    Huang Ying was gathering water from the well, and even though he didn't hold any type of hope of ever getting into the academy, even he couldnt help himself from taking a little break to gaze upon the glorious golden walls of the academy and getting lost in his own delusions.

    “You should stop looking and continue to gather the water.” As Huang Ying was just getting lost in his own delusions a raspy voice sounded out in his mind.

    “I know, I just like looking and imagining the what-if's that could have been” Huang Ying wasn't the least bit surprised as the voice rang out in his mind, this was a voice that had followed him since the day he was born, it was also the owner of this voice Li Jun that had given him almost all the knowledge he had and allowed him to posess intelligence and calmness above even that of his peers.

    “What-if's and things that could have been are useless in this world, if you have time to be dreaming of things that will never come to pass, you would be better of doing some excerise or gathering. Dreaming of the past and delusions for the future will never beat effort in the now.” The raspy voice rang out, delivering the same preaching it gave him every morning as he gazed upon that mansion.

    Huang Ying finished filling up his leather poach with water and quickly made his was through the snow and back to the outskirts of the town. At the outskirts, on a small hill stood a lone house made of old logs where all signs of paint and decorations had already disappeared due to age and moisture over the years. In this house Huang Ying lived with his foster grandfater Chen, the oldest man left in the village and his foster sister who is older than him by two years, Chen Chun. Huang Ying would usually not be in town this early, but rather be out in the forest either gathering what little usefull plants he could find or training, but since it was the first day of the new year, the older students of [Golden Dawn] would be allowed to take a trip home and stay there for a day while the new students got settled, this meant that his older sister Chen Chun could be coming home at any moment, so he had to be at home and make sure that the congee was constantly warm.

    The inside of the house is just as simple as the outside, consisting of three simple rooms, two small rooms designated for sleeping, partitioned by a simple grey cloth and one slightly larger one used as both a living room, kitchen and a dining room. The only furniture is a small round table, barely able to fit the three chairs stationed around it, a small firepit and a cauldron to make food in.

    “Ah, Chun'er, is that you? Have you finally come home for a visit?” As Huang Ying was pouring more water into the cauldron of congee, a hoarse, aged voice rang out from behind one of the bedrooms.

    Huang Ying walked over and gently moved aside the gray cloth, revealing a shriveled up aged man with vacant eyes and with barely any gray hair left on his head trying to sit up on a patch of hay covered by a brown blanket.

    “Sorry Grandpa Chen, it's just Ying'er, you should still try to get some more sleep, it's still early and the cold wind won't be too good for your body.” Huang Ying gently helped the old man to lie down again while speaking.

    “ah, Chun'er, when will you come home my Chun'er, grandpa and grandma miss you oh so much.” The old man mumbled to himself as he closed his eyes again and started drifting off to sleep again. Seeing this Huang Ying couldn't help but sight to himself, it had already been almost three years since Chen Chun had last come home for a visit, she had entered [Golden Dawn] when she was seven and had only come home to visit twice since then. After she stopped visiting, the condition of old man Chen had only gotten worse and worse, at the start he was still mostly lucid with merely some smaller episodes of forgetfulness, but as the times she visited grew sparser his condition grew increasingly worse, now it had grown to a point where he did nothing but lay in bed all day and mumble about when his Chun'er would come home so he and his deceased wife could meet her again, there were some days where he would even forget who Huang Ying was and attempt to chase him out of the house.

    Chapter 2: Yin heaven bells.

    Although Huang Ying found it sad, there was nothing he could do against the powers of time, even the strongest of the men in the town, mayor Zhuo who was already at the 5th heaven could do nothing against the power of time and only had a lifespan of a short hundred years, just the fact that old man Chen could live for as long as he did without cultivating could already be considered good.

    Huang Ying spent the next few hours carefully keeping the congee warm, periodically feeding and checking upon old man Chen and doing some simple excersises while waiting for noon. As the sun rose to it's highest point and Chen Chun still hadn't come home, Huang Ying could do nothing but sigh as he threw his gaze towards that gray cloth cutting off the bedroom from the living room.

    “Sorry Grandpa Chen, it doesn't seem like Chun'er will be coming home this year either.” Saying this to the sleeping old man, he could do nothing but sigh once more while thinking about the past, Chun'er was one of the few people who didnt ostracize him while they were children. While the children would hurl curses and the parents throwing glares and accusations of being a demon child at him, Chun'er was the only one who stood at his side and played with him, spent time with him and encouraged him to keep up his training, had it not been for her and Li Jun he would probably have already given up on himself and acceped the judgement and curses of the towns people. But ever since she went to [Golden Dawn] she had less time to be with him, and even the few times she came home she had started taking her distance from him, an act which confused him until Li Jun explained how important a persons social circle was, especially when they joined a sect or an academy.

    Huang Ying poured some more water into the congee and after making sure that the fire wasn't burning to high, he put on the lid and left the house, if Chun'er wasn't going to come home this time either there was no point in him waiting around for nothing, he might as well take a trip into the forest and see if he could find some good herbs that he could use to make some soup for dinner. After leaving the house, the closest forest was only a short fifteen minute walk away, which lead to the forest getting a large amount of visitors in the spring and summer looking for different mushrooms and herbs, this in turn led to the forest having very little wildlife, making it unsuitable for demonic beasts to inhabit the forest, thus making it a rather safe forest that even the towns children could frequent. Demonic beasts is used as a general term for all life forms other than humans who are able to absorb the qi from the heavens to cultivate, allowing them to gain an ever increasing power and intelligence, according to Li Jun once a demonic beast reaches a certain level in power it's intelligence will be no less than that of a human, if not greater.

    “What do you think Senior Li? Is there a chance of there being anything good in these parts of the forest?” Everytime Huang Ying entered the forest, he made sure that he entered a part he didn't enter before, he does this all the way until he has been through the entire forest and then starts from the first area once more, and each time he enters, he ask Li Jun if he is able to sense anything in the forest that might be usefull. He doesn't know how, but Li Jun told him that he is able to sense places where the qi is more concentrated, increasing the chances of finding herbs or other items capable of storing or attracting qi.

    “Hehe, it seems like your luck is rather good today, brat, there seems to be something good deeper into the forest, shouldn't be more than a few miles to the northeast.” The raspy voice of Li Jun rang out in Huang Ying's mind after waiting for a few minutes to allow Li Jun to get a good sense of the surrounding area.

    “Oh? Something good? Since it's coming from you im expecting something good now you know.” Huang Ying was evidently surprised at what Li Jun said, this wasn't the first time he entered this part of the forest, nor was it the first time Li Jun had found something, but it was the first time Li Jun had answered with anything but some bored and indifferent directions.

    “Just go, you little brat, never know when someone else will come by and take it. If you're going to do something, it's important to always act first and ggrab hold of the initiative.” Li Jun urged him on, with a preaching tone once more.

    “Yeah yeah, just a few miles to the northeast, got it.” Huang Ying started jogging through the forest with a short laugh.

    After a short jog, Huang Ying came upon a clearing in the forest with a small lake taking up the middle of it. The small lake was covered in a sheet of ice covered by a thin layer of snow. In the middle of the lake, a flower with petals shaped like small, deep blue bells was growing through the ice and snow.

    “Oh? Seems like your luck is slightly better than I thought brat, that thing is called a Yin Heaven Bells, a type of yin herb that grows in cold areas. It's not all that rare, but it works wonders for mortals who want to expand their life by a few years, not a bad find for you, not bad at all.” Li Jun explained the flower to Huang Ying, allowing him to get a better understanding.

    After hearing what Li Jun said, Huang Ying couldn't help but get excited, wasn't this exactly what grandpa Chen needed? Something that could allow him to live a few more years would increase his chances of getting to see Chun'er again. Huang Ying hurriedly made his way across the ice and gently picked up the flower and cupped it in his hands. Feeling the cold energy seeping into his hands, he quickly stuffed the flower into a small pouch before hiding the pouch in his chest clothing, doing a quick scan of the are and not finding anyone he quickly retraced his steps to go back home, unaware of several pairs of eyes keeping an eye on him from one of the trees around the lake.

    “Boss, wasn't that a Yin Heaven's Bell? Shouldnt we go get it from him immedeatly?” An anxious voice rang out from one of the trees.

    “No need to be hasty, he himself might just be a cripple, but if we simply resort to murder and robbery wantonly, not even my father will pardon us. We first return to the village and let my father know, a Yin Heaven's Bell will be very alluring to him. At that point, not only will we get to deal with Huang Ying however we want, we will even get rewarded for finding such a nice treasure.” A slightly childish, but also vicious voice rang out in response from one of the other trees, flattering voices quickly rang out from the rest of the trees after he spoke.

    Huang Ying quickly made his way back to the house on the hill, he wanted to make some soup with the flower immediately, but Li Jun warned him that it would exhibit a more potent effect if he waited with making the soup until the time of the day reached the point where yin energy was the most potent, midnight. Huang Ying didn't dare not believe the words of Li Jun so all he could do was sit down and do some light breathing excersises while waiting, he was unable to cultivate, but he never stopped doing the breathing excersises, hoping that one day something would change, he started these breathing excersises not long after he was born, when Li Jun gave him the practicing method and has been following the method ever since, culminating in almost eight years of ceasless training and meditation, giving him a staunch willpower and unwillingness to give up, even if he sees no results.

    Sadly, this time he would have to cut his practicing short, because barely an hour after he returned to his house, the clamor of stomping feet arose outside the door, followed by a rugged middle aged man clad in leather, the guard captain of the town, kicking open the door and shouting at Huang Ying.

    “Huang Ying! In the name of the mayor and the town defense force, you are under arrest for stealing from the mayors personal herb garden! Hand over the flower you stole and follow me, if you do not comply we are authorised to use force!” his voice reverberated like thunder through the house, stunning Huang Ying where he was sitting.

    “Huh?! Stealing from the mayors herb garden? I have done no....” Before Huang Ying could even finish his sentence, the guard captain interrupted him.

    “Silence! Hand over the flower or we will be forced to use force! Will you comply or not?!” upon finishing his sentence the guard captain pulled his sword halway out of it's sheath, signifying exactly how much force, they were authorised to use.

    “Fine, fine, i'll hand it over and follow you....” No matter how unwilling Huang Ying was, all he could do in the face of overwhelming power was begrudingly take out the pouch with the flower and follow the guard captain to the town dungeon, all the while mulling over who could have possibly seen and reported him finding the flower.

  • edited September 2017

    Chapter 3: Ambition From Darkness

    All Huang Ying could feel was a pounding in his head, a debilitating headache threatening to split his head apart. He opened his eyes, but all he could see was the darkness of his cell, he had the taste of iron in his mouth, reminding him of the beating he got just before he passed out. What little scent his nose was still able to pick up was only the stench of his own excrements that littered the cell. Shaking his head to regain some clarity and trying to stave off the headache he tried to look for the entrance of the cell, but all he could do was give up, he probably wouldn't even be able to see his hands, if he even managed to lift them high enough to hold them in front of his face.

    “What time is it?.... nevermind, doesn't matter..... how long have I been here now?” Huang Ying tried to speak out, but all he managed was a hoarse exhale, so he had no choice but to ask Li Jun mentally, he had already lost count of how many times he had asked this question, time simply seemed to blur together since he got shoved into this cell.

    “It should be just past noon now, as for how long you have been sitting in this cell, in a few days it will be the sixth year.” The raspy voice of Li Jun was Huang Ying's only respite from the headache.

    “That fucking Zhuo Xian, I swear....if I ever get out of this cell I will make sure that he dies in unbearable agony...” Just remembering what Zhuo Xian had done to him and put him through these six years made Huang Ying want to go mad with rage. Six years ago it was also Zhuo Xian that had discovered that Huang Ying found a Yin Heaven's Bell and then decided to give the news to his father, the mayor. A few years of extra life, was too tempting, even for a cultivator at the 5th heaven, especially one that was already getting up in the years, so mayor Zhuo immediately put out an order for arrest and directly brought Huang Ying to the dungeon. Ever since then, the only visitor Huang Ying ever got was the warden who would visit him twice a day and deliver food and often chat with him and Zhuo Xian who would make periodic visits to either hurl abuse or simply torture and beat Huang Ying. Had it not been for the warden sneaking in some medicine and extra food from time to time, Huang Ying would probably have died several times over.

    “....Hey Li Jun?” Huang Ying's weak voice resounded in his own mind, devoid of all the willpower and charm it had before.

    “...Yes?” Li Jun responded warily, this was the first time since he had started sharing the body with Huang Ying that he ever heard him this weak, not even when his foster grandfather kept forgetting him had his voice been this weak.

    “You used to be a cultivator right? A pretty strong one too I guess, how else would you be able to retain your memories and attempt reincarnation. What's it like? Up there, at the apex of power? Is it worth it? Is whatever you find there at the top worth all the dirty schemes and betrayal it makes people commit? Is getting to the top really worth becoming nothing but a beast in human skin?” As Huang Ying spoke, he started gritting his teeth, staring at the direction he assumed to be the door with overwhelming hatred.

    “..... It's hard to tell. I never managed to reach the top.... but the place I reached, where I was invincible against all but a few freaks..... it was great, it was fucking fantastic to stand tall like a lord. But.... whether or not what lies at the apex is worth it all, that all depends on the person who stands there and for what reason they reached the top.” After a short moment of thought Li Jun responded with his own experiences.

    “.... I see, depends on the person huh?.... say, you have the entire town covered with your spiritual sense right?” Huang Ying seemed like he just thought of something and asked.

    “....Indeed, it seems like you knew. What do you want to ask?” Li Jun responded with some surprise in his voice at being found out.

    “Grandpa Chen, when did he die?” Huang Ying asked a question that had been on his mind for quite a while, but that he was simply to scared to ask.

    “..... It seems you are more perceptive than I ever gave you credit for.... he died roughly six days after you were captured.” Li Jun replied while throwing in what could be taken as both a compliment and and insult.

    “It doesn't require a genius, he was already too weak to take care of himself even before I was captured, not being fed or taken care of had no other outcome, im even surprised that he managed to last for six entire days.” Huang Ying's voice sounded out, but this time it was colder and more indifferent than it had ever been.

    As silence descended on the cell once more Huang Ying just sat there staring at the darkness enveloping him, feeling the pounding of the headache as he went through all the memories he had of him and grandpa Chen. He had an eidetic memory, so not a single moment slipped by him, from the time when his parents dropped him off there, to the time they dropped off Chun'er at [Golden Dawn] and he saw him cry for the first time, all the way until his last memory of him.

    “Huh... now that I think of it, he only ever called my name while Chun'er was there, seems like not even he wanted much to do with me.... hehehe” A weak laugh escaped Huang Ying's lips after he finished going through all the memories and noticed that the had less memories of being with grandpa Chen than he had of being with the parents that abandoned him, it had always been Chun'er who took care of him till he turned five, and after she went to [Golden Dawn] it was mostly just him.

    “Really, what a fucking joke this world is. Hey, Li Jun? The reason I was abandoned, the reason Zhuo Xian could simply take what was mine, the reason everyone looks at me with scorn and despise, it's because im weak isn't it? It's because those shitty god's never bothered taking a look at me isn't it?” Huang Ying spoke through the tears that were dripping down his face, trying to find a reason in all this madness.

    “....Indeed, in this world, the only defining factor for a persons worth is their strength, without it, they are nothing, they are worse than nothing.” Li Jun responded to Huang Ying, only furthering Huang Ying's current thirst for power.

    “If I become strong enough, can I kill all those who wronged me? Can I tear down those shitty gods and control my own life?.... can I protect that which I want to protect?” Huang Ying asked a question he already knew the answer to, a question he had asked Ji Lun several times in the past, but this time his voice carried none of his old childish naivness, all it carried was a chilling determination.

    “Of course, power decides all!” Li Jun responded loudly, as if to match Huang Ying's determination.

    After Li Jun responded, the thundering roar of galloping horses thundered through the dungeon, following the horses was a dreadfull symphony of bloodcurdling screams and shouts and the smell of smoke. 

  • Chapter 4: First Contact With Tragedy.

    The thundering sound of galloping horses slowly became louder and clearer as the walls around Huang Ying went from a gentle vibration to trembling hard enough to send cracks and debris cascading down from the ceiling.

    «Li Jun, what's going on out there?!..... Is the town under attack?» Huang Ying was shocked at the sudden occurrence and thought that the town might be experiencing an earthquake, but after just a little bit of thought he quickly threw that theory out off his mind. An earthquake would not be accompanied by galloping horses and such screams, and the only other reason behind the noise he could think of was that the town was under attack by bandits.

    «The town is indeed under attacks, it seems like they decided to come in force this time around, there are nearly 400 bandits out there, seems like they are really going all in this time around.» Li Jun responded with a chuckle after checking out the attacking force, this was indeed not the first time bandits had attacked the town, but it was the first time they came with such a massive force. Even though the town had around 1000 inhabitants, the only ones who had any fighting strength and experience were the town defense force, numbering around 250 individuals. If one were to include the children who went to [Golden Dawn] the number of fighters available could indeed be pushed up a fair bit, totaling almost 400 fighters, but the students were after all only that, students with no proper fighting experience.

    «Almost 400? Why would they come here in full force? Aren't they afraid of getting wiped out? This town doesn't seem to hold anything valuable enough to warrant such risks..... Maybe they are after something specific?» Huang Ying truly found it strange, the bandits might outnumber them by almost two to one, but the bandits were mere wandering fighters, whilst the town defense force consisted of well-trained warriors with a plethora of experience and higher quality equipment, in addition to all that, the town still had mayor Zhuo, an expert at the 5th heaven, so the odds of them being able to completely raze the town was less than 10%.

    «I hate to interrupt, but you should probably try to find a way out of this cell before thinking about the reason behind the attack, of course, that is unless, dying from being crushed by debris while locked up in this cell is the way you want to go out, it might even suit you, in that case i have nothing else to say.» Li Jun seemed to find this particular idea rather humorous as he gave a slight chuckle while speaking.

    «Fuck that, i refuse to die in a shit hole like this! Besides, i still have things i want to do, and dying before accomplishing even a single thing in life, that is one hell of a shitty way to go to the next life.» Huang Ying spoke with great determination as he looked up at the minuscule amount of light seeping in through the cracks in the ceiling.

    «Then today is your lucky day, rejoice, even someone abandoned like you still has people thinking about him.» Just as Li Jun finished speaking, the door to Huang Ying's cell was abruptly thrown open, followed by a rugged and well built young man clad in guardsman armor rushing in and towards Huang Ying, quickly unlocking the shackles chaining him to the wall.

    «You need to get out of here, bandits are attacking the town and things aren't going to good, once you are out of the prison, make your way towards southern forest, we are currently holding the bandits back at the northern entrance, but i don't know how much longer we can hold them there.» The guardsman spoke with great haste as he quickly put a dark crimson shirt and black trousers on Huang Ying, the clothing was slightly too large for Huang Ying, even after these 6 years of growing, they were obviously just clothing that the young guardsman brought in a hurry from his own house.

    «Why would you help me? If things are really going that bad, shouldn't you just hurry and head to the southern forest and leave?» Huang Ying was standing up slowly and unsteadily, but supporting himself against the wall he managed to stand up on his own, all the while looking at the guardsman. He had been locked in this cell for 6 years, and this guardsman had been kind to him all the while, talking to him, bringing him extra food, blankets and new clothes during the winter, and even medicine whenever he was ill. He always found it strange that this unknown guardsman who didn't know him would be kind to the renowned town cripple.

    What he got as a response was the guardsman shaking his head with a smile. «I can't leave, if i leave, who will be left to protect the retreat path of the other citizens? I became a guard because i wanted to do something better with my life than just be a farmer or craftsman, i wanted to protect people, if i flee, i will have betrayed my own dream, and at that point i could never live with myself, all of us guards are like that, that is why we can lay or lives down here, every citizen that manages to escape is another piece of our dream fulfilled. As for why i would help you? Aren't you one of the citizens yourself? Besides, you may not know, but i have seen you around the town, everyone always avoids you or scorns you, but i have never seen you let it get to you, you still ran around with the same smile, still greeted people and always did your everything to take care of your grandpa, you are a good person, who fell upon unfortunate times, so i want to help with what i can.» the guards face was full of soot, dirt and blood, but his eyes were clear and sparkling like the stars in the night, a sight Huang Ying would never be able to forget in his life, a man Huang Ying would never allow himself to forget.

    «.... What's your name?» Huang Ying asked the guard while slowly moving his arms and legs, regaining his mobility.

    «Im called Xiao Yan. You should leave now, i have to get back to the northern front.» the guard, Xiao Yan threw a small pouch filled with coins at Huang Ying and started to head out of the cell.

    «Xiao Yan.... I won't forget you, so do your best to make it out alive.» After a bit of hesitation and trying to find the right words, Huang Ying spoke out.

    Xiao Yan merely responded with a small laugh «Hearing you say that means that i have lived a worthwhile life, so even if i lay down my life out there i will have no regrets, you should go.»

    Huang Ying simply stood there, slowly rolling his shoulders and moving his legs, all the while staring at the entrance of the cell in silence, no one knowing what he was thinking in his heart, until his limbs regained most of their mobility.

    After his limbs regained their mobility, he made is way out of the cell and up a small flight of stairs before making it out of the dungeon and back into that familiar town. As he stepped out of the dungeon, he couldn't help but shield his eyes from the light, the sky was filled with grey clouds, ash and smoke, but 6 years in a dark cell had left their mark on him, his skin was now a pale white, his face covered in dirt and dust, his body so skinny that you could practically see the bones, his once azure hair had lost it's previous luster, turning a pale blue and hanging all the way down to his buttocks.

    «South, south.... the sound of fighting is loudest over there, so south should be that way.» After quickly ascertaining which direction he should head, Huang Ying started slowly making his way in the direction he assumed to be southward, doing his best to stay in the shadows of buildings and back alleys and resting whenever his limbs started aching.

    Huang Ying had only just made it half of the way from the dungeon to the exit of the town when a cold laughter rang out from behind him and a burning pain started permeating his chest. «Huh, really didn't expect someone to actually make it this far, seems like we'll have to punish the patrol squads a bit later on.»

    Slowly turning his head, Huang Ying saw a scarred middle aged bandit wearing loose patched robes standing behind him, right hand holding onto the hilt of a curved sword. Huang Ying opened his mouth to speak, but the only thing that came out was a moutfull of blood and saliva. Looking down at his own chest, all he could see was the wide tip of the curved sword piercing through his chest. All Huang Ying could do was slowly turn his head again, hatefully glaring at the bandit, opening and closing his mouth again and again, trying to push out the words to curse at the bandit, but all that came out was mouthful after mouthful of blood.

    «Hoooh? Quite a hardy little child aren't you? Seems like it'll take a bit more to end you, i wonder, will you still attempt to talk without a head?» The bandit chuckled at the spectacle and extracted the curved sword from Huang Ying's chest and lifted it to make a final cut.

    «Li Jun, i swear, if i get an afterlife, i'll make damn sure to beat your ass for not warning me about this lone bandit.» This was the last thought Huang Ying managed to squeeze out before he closed his eyes to await the bandit's blade.

    After waiting for a short while and not feeling anything, Huang Ying slowly opened his eyes, what he saw was still the same town, he was still lying in front of the bandit and the bandit still held the sword high, he simply wasn't moving. Looking around, the first thing Huang Ying noticed was the silence, there were no more screams, no more clashing of weapons, nor thundering of hoofs. The next thing he noticed was that nothing was moving, the bandit in front of him, the clouds in the sky, nor the smoke of the fire, all stood still, as if time itself was frozen.

    «What is your desire» A booming voice thundered out across the town, echoing all over. Shocked, Huang Ying lifted his head, only to see two massive eyes in the sky. The eyes occupied a large area of the sky, two massive golden eyes with black, slit pupils nearly splitting them in half, staring down at Huang Ying.

    «Are you the one who did this? Who are you?» Huang Ying, still shocked to see such massive eyes observing him, couldn't help but call out.

    «What is your desire?» The only response he got to his questions was the same question repeated, slightly louder this time, the eyes seemed to look at him with some expectations.

    «.... I want to prove them wrong.» After gathering his thoughts and a bit of hesitation, Huang Ying responded, giving voice to his innermost desire. «My birth parents, the people of this town and those shitty gods, i want to prove them wrong. I want them all to know that i don't need them! I can reach the top even if they abandoned me! Even without them, i can still become something, even without their 'blessings' and their 'help' i can still reach the top and live my life freely without shackles! That is my desire!» Huang Ying's voice rose to a roar as he started talking, shouting out his innermost feelings while staring with determination at the eyes in the sky.

    «Very well, then so be it little one, i am Baku and i am you, just as you are me, i will give you the chance to grab your own destiny and live freely, do not disgrace the serpents blood.» As the voice spoke, Huang Ying was slowly lifted into the air and suspended in front of the eyes. Black smoke started seeping out of the eyes, before moving towards Huang Ying and entering his body through all of his pores and moving through his entire body, devouring all that it came across. As the black smoke started devouring all that it came across, all Huang Ying could feel was agonizing pain as his bones, veins, organs and flesh were consumed.

    «You must endure, the serpent will devour all and leave behind nothing but the strongest, only like that will you ever achieve your desire.» The voice sounded out again, but this time within his own mind, and several times weaker, it seemed like awakening this so called serpents blood took it's toll even on itself.

    Hearing this, all Huang Ying could do was grit his teeth and not allow his hoarse screams to leak out of his mouth as the black smoke started devouring faster and faster, until all that was left in his body was black smoke and a drop of pitch black blood.

  • Chapter 5: The Serpent Awakens.

    Once the drop of black blood and black smoke were the only things left inside Huang Ying's body, he was too drained off energy to even continue screaming, the force holding him floating in front of the eyes lowered him back down to the ground before loosening its grip on him and disappearing. The eyes in the sky looked at him crouching on the ground, heaving and panting seeing that he didn't faint or die, even upon having his entire body drained matter the eyes seems to squint in pleasure.

    «The devouring is complete, the next step will be rebuilding and reinforcing that which once was, never forget little one, don't disgrace the blood of the serpent that was left to you.» The voice boomed out one last time before the eyes slowly closed and disappeared. As the eyes disappeared, sound returned to the frozen world and time started moving again. The bandit that was frozen mid- movement completed his cutting movement, but was shocked upon discovering that Huang Ying who was right in front of him but a second ago, was crouching on the ground several meters away from him, panting and heaving, even the wound on his chest had stopped bleeding.

    «You... what did you..» Before the bandit managed to finish his sentence, the ground started trembling. The ground around the entire town started trembling and shaking, large cracks spreading across it's surface, even the sky itself seemed to tremble and quake.

    A sharp hissing sound started sounding forth from the cracks on the ground, the symphony of hissing started getting increasingly loud before resonating, becoming a single hissing sound that seemed to originate from the depths of the earth, attempting to break through the surface and piercing the heavens. The cracks on the ground started oozing a black liquid that started gathering together to form massive black tentacles, corroding and devouring all they touched. Tentacles started springing up all over the town before twisting together, assuming the form of a massive squirming serpent so black that it seemed to devour even the light shining down upon it.

    As the serpent loomed over the town, it's massive frame blotting out the light from above, seeming like the bringer of the apocalypse, all sounds of fighting had stopped, all that was left was the shocked gasps of the fighters and the crying of the children and remaining townspeople that had yet to escape.

    The serpent was made out of an uncountable amount of wriggling tentacles, but they blended together so well that it seemed like a single entity, a massive body cracking the ground and crushing all in it's patch, pitch black scales the size of a full grown man, a massive maw filled with teeth sharper and longer than a long sword leading into what seemed like a bottomless black hole, and two massive yellow eyes, looking down upon all creation. As more and more tentacles came into existence and fused with the serpent, it kept growing larger and larger, until finally the tentacles stopped coming and the serpent stopped growing. It's tail broke out from the ground and coiled around the entire town, sealing off all paths of retreat before the tip of the tail settled down on Huang Ying's chest and fused together with the area where his heart would be. Huang Ying felt his senses fusing with the massive serpent as the tail fused with his chest. His eyes saw what it's eyes saw, felt the power coursing through it's body, the arrogance of a god overlooking it's subject, the rage stemming from being trapped in this place, and the hunger, hunger that threatened to drive him insane, hunger that threatened to devour him if he didn't find anything to sate it. He also felt it's desire, the desire to devour all, to break through this tiny sky and devour the gods themselves, devour fate and be free, the most primal version of his very own desire.  

    «I see, so this is what you bestowed upon me, what you meant when you said that i am you and you are me, what you meant when you said you would give me a chance to grab my own destiny and live free.» Huang Ying looked to the serpent as he spoke the words in his heart, no longer feeling the emptiness he felt after having his insides devoured, instead, what he felt now was determination, determination to not waste this chance he had been given. He had been given the power to grab his own destiny, to be truly free. As he looked upon the black serpent, the single drop of black blood in his body started thrumming, the serpent, as if beckoned by it's master, responded to the thrumming by raising it's head and hissing at the sky, a hiss that slowly turned into an earthshaking roar.

    Hearing this roar, Huang Ying's face rapidly changed color, since he was connected to the serpent he could feel what it was about to do, what the black blood had ordered it to do. «No! You can't! Sto...» Before Huang Ying had finished shouting, the serpent had already opened it's massive maw and plunged it's head downwards, the only thing that was spared from the serpents hunger was Huang Ying, who simply passed through the serpents body, all else was devoured in one single movement of the serpents head.

    Huang Ying was completely dumbstruck, aimlessly looking around, the town he had lived in for 14 years was completely gone, all that was left of the town was a massive basin. The little house on the hill where he lived, the glorious golden gates of [Golden Dawn], the public well where he fetched water twice every day, all gone. The deathly silence was only broken when the serpent raised it's head to give one last roar before abruptly charging at Huang Ying, all the while growing smaller. As the serpent reached Huang Ying's body it simply passed through his skin before charging through his empty body and into that drop of black blood, what followed after that is a pain that Huang Ying would never be able to forget.

    As the serpent charged into that drop of blood, the drop started rapidly swelling, sucking in the entire serpent and the remnant black smoke. As it continued growing, it started replacing what the smoke had devoured earlier, it started by building a new skeleton, then followed it up with new veins, flesh, organs and then the one organ Huang Ying always dreamed of having, but never got to have, meridians, as the black drop finished it's growing and had filled every part of Huang Ying's body, it started wriggling, digging into the newly formed flesh and organs, leaving behind small tunnels lined with the black blood that filled his entire body and took the role of his meridians. As Huang Ying was twisting around in pain at the bottom of the basin that used to be his town, the qi in the world around the basin seemed to respond to a calling, gathering towards Huang Ying in a massive vortex before slowly being absorbed by his newly created meridians and his body.

    As his body and meridians started absorbing the surrounding qi, another transformation was occurring within Huang Ying's body. His once azure hair and green eyes slowly started turning pitch black, taking on the same color as his meridians as well as the qi that was now coursing through his body, a clear sign of what element the god that gave him his blessing belongs to, although in Huang Ying's case, the element isn't the darkness element, but the element of devouring, the element belonging to Baku, The Great Serpent.

    Just as the pain started receding and Huang Ying thought it was finally over, a head splitting pain assaulted him as massive amounts of information started flowing into his mind. It started as simple information about what the element of devouring was and where it was born from, the element of devouring alone gave it's owner only a single power, and that is exactly devouring, the power to devour and assimilate everything weaker than you. The advantage the element of devouring gave it's owner is the ability to not only devour qi of others to replenish their own, but also the ability to devour their blessing and element, taking their powers for your own use, this is also the only way to allow the power of devouring to evolve and grow stronger. The power of devouring originated from Baku, The Great Serpent, a serpent that came into existence alongside the world itself as the sole holder of the power of devouring, the only one the world would ever accept holding the power of devouring.

    What followed the information about his own powers were memories, so many memories. The memories of everyone in the town as it was devoured started flowing into Huang Ying's mind, with the pain threatening to tear his head apart, he could do nothing but grit his teeth and repeatedly hit his head again the ground, holding onto his last sliver of consciousness and sanity as hundreds of years of memories started flowing into his mind.

    When everything was over and the dust settled, the only thing left was a lone boy crouched over at the bottom of the basin, covered by his waist length pitch black hair, throwing up despite his stomach being empty, tears cascading down his face. As the influx of memories finished, he learned the reason the entire town was devoured, instead of just the bandits. It was because of him. Because rebuilding a human body to become strong enough to accept the power of devouring requires massive amounts of energy, and the easiest way to gain that energy is simply to devour all that is around.

    After Huang Ying finished throwing up, he simply sat there, staring vacantly at the area around him, the memories of the townspeople kept on playing in his head. He saw the students of [Golden Dawn] going to their classes, the bakers waking up in the morning, housewives gossiping amongst each other, the guards doing their patrols. Every moment of every life in the town was constantly replaying itself in vivid detail, as if Huang Ying had been there himself. Huang Ying stood up and brushed his pitch black hair out of his face, revealing his black eyes which had become frighteningly deep and still like the ocean, revealing none of his thoughts.

    «Why is it like this?» He muttered to himself as he brushed of the dust from the clothes the guard, Xiao Yan, had given him. He found it strange, even though he had all these memories, all this knowledge that didn't belong to him but was taken from someone else, he didn't feel any different, he was still clear on who he was, clear on who was the owner of which memory, it was like the memories he took were simply stories he had read in a book and just so happened to remember.

    Huang Ying heaved a sigh at these thoughts and seeing as he couldn't come up with an answer, simply pushed them to the back of his mind, no need to waste time thinking about something he had no answer to.

    «You seem awfully calm about this, considering how you were sniveling and crying not too long ago.» The sarcastic voice of Li Jun resounded within Huang Ying's mind as he was gathering his thoughts to try and find out what to do next.

    «I'd say you seem awfully calm too, consider all that just happened, all that we just saw. Seems like you have heard of Baky before?» instead of answering Li Jun's question, Huang Ying asked one back instead.

    «....I have indeed heard about Baku before, mostly from books.» Li Jun's somewhat hesitant voice sounded out, the Huang Ying from before might not have noticed the slight hesitation in his voice, but the current Huang Ying had the memories of over 1000 different lifetimes, his mind calmer and more collected than ever before, and could easily discover that Li Jun knew more than he let on, but since he obviously didn't want to talk about it, he decided not to keep asking and simply change the subject.

    «I have the memories of everyone that was in the town as they were devoured, it can almost count as living more than a 1000 different lives, that's why i can stay calm, it wouldn't really be fitting to be the reason behind their deaths and then just sit around crying. They have died so that i can live, the least i can do to repay their sacrifice is live a good life worthy of their sacrifice.» Leaving the basin and looking eastwards, Huang Ying talked as if he was simply justifying things to himself. «It seems like the attack today wasn't some random attack, but rather planned. The mayor was assassinated before the attack even began, and it even took place when several of the teachers and students of [Golden Dawn] were in the capital, seems like there was someone pulling the strings behind it all.»

    «What will you do now? The town is gone, and you have nowhere to stay?» Li Jun seemed to simply not care about the reasons behind the attack and rather asked Huang Ying what he would do from now on.

    «Didn't you listen, i said i wanted to prove them wrong, that i can reach the apex even without the gods, and i'll do just that. Everyone in the town died so that i could be free, so i'll make damn sure that i'll do more with my life than just become a farmer or craftsman. Besides, if i don't work towards becoming free from destiny, won't that just mean that i am betraying my own dream? How then am i supposed to live with myself. So isn't it about time that you teach me how to cultivate Li Jun? Having such a good teacher nearby and not using him would just be a waste.» Huang Ying chuckled as he finished his words, he himself might not have noticed, but Li Jun certainly noticed that the words he used were the words spoken to him by Xiao Yan, the prison guard.
  • Chapter 6: Organizing Knowledge.

    “True, right now it seems like you cultivating is no longer just a dream, so it certainly seems like it would be appropriate to impart some knowledge to you, but in return I want you to answer some of my questions first.” After giving it some thought Li Jun found no reason to refuse, so he only put forth some simple terms, after all, no expert cultivators are willing to impart their experience for free. The only reason Li Jun, agreed so easily was partly because he had been with Huang Ying for his entire life and had a solid grasp on his character and personality, and partly because he had seen what had happened as the town was swallowed and the subsequent change in Huang Ying's disposition and wanted to know the reason.

    “Fair enough, equivalent exchange. Ask away, i'll answer to the best of my ability.” Huang Ying had no qualms about just answering a few questions if it meant that he could gain more knowledge about this world, something he was sorely lacking, even after absorbing the memories of everyone in the town, he only gained some elementary knowledge about the surrounding area and cultivation, after all, the one who had the highest cultivation amongst the swallowed people was only at the 3rd heaven.

    “Good, the questions won't be too hard, just answer me these, Firstly: You mentioned 'Devouring' I want to know everything you know about your powers. Secondly: You 'devoured' the memories of the people in the town, I want to know how these memories work, and Thirdly: What happened to you? I like to think that I have a pretty good grasp on you and your personality after spending these 14 years with you, so simply brushing off the death of everyone in the town and your current demeanor and cold indifference.... it just doesn't seem like you. Answer me these questions and I promise I will teach you cultivation, at least until you surpass me.” Li Jun fired of the questions and acted like him teaching him cultivation was a great favor he was bestowing upon Huang Ying, but only he knew that being able to teach Huang Ying cultivation would surely be a great blessing for him as well, after all, not even he had ever heard of the element of devouring, so in his eyes, Huang Ying's future would surely be unimaginably grand, allowing him to gain his own benefits at that point.

    Huang Ying responded to the questions by softly tapping the tip of his nose with his right index finger, a habit he often displayed as he was thinking and gathering his thoughts. “Very well, to answer the third question first, it is slightly hard to explain, the best way to phrase it would simple be to say that I have seen too much currently. I have the memories of all the bandits and townspeople who were still alive as the town was swallowed. How many people have the bandits killed? How many people have the townspeople watched die? How many have they loved? All of that has been suddenly transferred to me, but it still feels unreal, it feels like everything going on around me right now is simply me reading a book or hearing someone narrate me a tale, so i'm not sure how to react to it. It's not that i've suddenly become cold and indifferent, it's just that after seeing all those things, expressing emotions normally, has suddenly become a thousand times harder. Who knows, maybe after I find something I want to do with all my heart and soul i'll become better at expressing myself again.” Huang Ying gave a self deprecating smile, it was truly a strange feeling, knowing how to feel, but being unable to express those emotions, instead only showing indifference.

    “Oh? ' Something you want to do with all your heart and soul?' What happened to your pursuit of the apex to prove the gods and your parents wrong? And wouldn't that Baku thing also count as a god? Negating your thoughts?” Li Jun caught on to some of the hidden meanings behind Huang Ying's words and fired off some new questions.

    In response to the new questions, all Huang Ying could do was give a bitter smile and respond. “Let's be honest with each other, some people would surely put reaching the apex as their sole dream and be willing to do anything to achieve it, but am I really such a person? Hoping to reach the apex to disprove the gods and my parents was and even still is nothing but a show of childish defiance and pouting, it's simply me being unhappy with my circumstances and wanting to find a way to went my frustration, but for now it's all I have, so I might as well use it as a guideline for now. As to whether or not Baku counts as a god, it's hard to say. He doesn't fit in the normal category of whereas something existing because there is a god, it's more of a case where Baku exists because people believe it. As long as people believe that everything ends at some point, Baku will exist as the embodiment of that ideal.”

    “Ho? Seems like you are more self aware than I thought, you even know how childish your dream really is. Now go on and answer the other questions.” Li Jun simply snickered bemusedly in response to Huang Ying's bitter self-realization.

    Hearing the one who interrupted him by asking new questions earlier urge him on to answer the original questions, Huang Ying simply chose to ignore the shamelessness and do as he was told. “To answer the second question, the way the swallowed memories work, it's like my mind is split in half. On one side I have the memories I am sure are mine, memories that I see from my own viewpoint. While on the other side, are the memories I have swallowed, memories that I see from the viewpoint of a spectator, I simply stand aside and watch everything play out, like i'm reading a book, so I get the memories and experiences, but actually utilizing what they show, like experience in forging or pill making, still requires me to attempt and familiarize myself with it first. It truly feels rather surreal. Accessing the memories, even my own, feels like going through an index, everything is so neatly ordered suddenly, I even find myself remembering things I had previously forgotten. And to answer the first question, what 'devouring' entails, it means just that. Depending on the difference in strength between me and the enemy, I can devour everything of his. I can devour his memories, his cultivation base, the cultivation art's he cultivated, the life energy, flesh, blood, organs, bones, even the element he was blessed with I can devour. Say I am fighting someone who is on equal power with me, it will be impossible for me to devour his everything without weakening him first, and devouring something he is currently using is even harder, but stealing a few memories here and there while fighting doesn't seem to be too hard, but without actually partaking in a fight it's hard to say.” After thinking and organizing his thoughts a bit and realizing he has explained everything he knows, Huang Ying stops his explanation.

    “Now, since I have upheld my end of the bargain, it should be your turn to tell me more about cultivating.” Thinking about finally learning about cultivation, Huang Ying couldn't help but let a faint smile appear on his face.

    “Ho? Index like memory huh, that is truly enviable, even some of the top cultivators of my time hadn't trained their mind to such an extent.” After enviously murmuring a few words, Li Jun started talking about his cultivation experiences. “Let's start with some basics, looking at the energy in your body, you should have reached the 3rd heaven after that entire spectacle, so i'll start there. The start of cultivation is called [The Nine Heavens of Houtian] signifying that 9 will always revert to 1, it is also just used to build a foundation and prepare a mortal for true cultivating, only someone who has reached the [Xantian] stage can call themselves a true cultivator, at least that is what it is like in the larger cultivation countries, in a tiny place like [Green Willows] a cultivator at the 9th heaven is probably a big shot and near godlike existence. Now listen closely, the 9 different heavens are, in order: [The Mortal Heaven], [The Blue Heaven], [The Qi Heaven], [The Gathering Heaven], [The Condensing Heaven] [The Reinforcing Heaven], [The Pure Heaven], [The Trigram Heaven] and finally [The Tribulation Heaven].” Li Jun spoke the words lazily, as if to signal that to teach about something this basic was something far below his status. But despite his lazy demeanor, he still explained everything in great detail, not allowing Huang Ying to miss a single thing.

    “Every heaven plays a specific part in setting up the future path for a cultivator, [The Mortal Heaven] signifies the first step and is a mortal's first contact with the heavens, establishing a connection. [The Blue Heaven] takes a step forward and has the mortal use his connection with the heavens to notice the existence of the natural energy, the Qi, around him. [The Qi Heaven] is just that, the mortal establishes a connection to the natural energy and using that connection to draw trace amounts of it into his body. [The Gathering Heaven] simply consists of gathering enough of the natural energy into the mortals body, cleansing it from within to prepare it for and allow it to transcend the mortal boundaries. [The Condensing Heaven] consists of gathering all the qi gathered in the body and condensing it in one point of the body, most often the dantian. [The Reinforcing Heaven] consists of reinforcing the qi that you have condensed, allowing it to take a more physical shape, becoming liquid. [The Pure Heaven] consists of taking the now liquid qi and condensing it even more, all the way until it becomes a small round crystal. [The Trigram Heaven] is all about the element you were blessed with and allowing it to leave your body and manifest in the world around you, allowing you to shape and alter the natural energy in the world around you, summoning ice and fire with a mere wave of the hand. The final heaven, [The Tribulation Heaven] is the final step before [Xiantian Builder] and consists of a single step, withstanding the heavenly tribulation and transcending mortal boundaries, once you have done that, the qi crystal will shatter and form a core based on the element you have been blessed with. Talking about [Xantian Builder] and the stages past that is still too early for you, it will simply confuse you, it is more important to first build a solid foundation and make sure that you don't stray from the path. En, that should be all about the houtian stage.” Right after Li Jun finished talking, he seemed to have thought of something.

    “Right, you said you could even devour other people's elements? Does that mean that you currently have several elements residing within you? If you do you might have a different cultivation journey than others.”

    Huang Ying quickly turned his vision inward, following his newly built meridians and inspecting the little qi he currently had running through them.

    “Shouldn't be a problem, I think. I do indeed have several different elements in my meridians, but they seem to act more like supporters to the devouring element, so using it as the base for reaching [Xantian Builder] shouldn't be a problem?” Huang Ying answered the question, but even he wasn't quite sure about how it would end up.

    “Hmm, shouldn't be a problem for the foreseeable future, we'll just have to wait and see. But since you have several types of elements in your body right now, can you use them all?” Giving it a bit of thought and not coming up with anything Li Jun decided to ask a different question instead.

    “Not really, the only element I can currently separate from the devouring force and use freely seems to be the ice element, I can touch upon the other ones, but the moment I try to use them, it's like there is a force rejecting me.” After a bit of testing, Huang Ying came to an answer.

    “That's good, if people were to discover that you were in control of a completely unheard of power, it's hard to know how they would react, it's best if you exercise caution and use the ice element as a cover for now, if you ever become forced to use the devouring element, you must make sure to leave no witnesses.” Li Jun was sure that Huang Ying would think of this himself, but caution was a ship that would sail a ship for ten thousand years, so reminding him would never hurt.

    “En, I know. It's probably for the best to get used to both the power of the ice element and the devouring element, so im planning on heading to the bandit hideout for a bit, we'll need some money for traveling anyway, so using the few guards they have left behind as practice targets won't hurt.” Huang Ying nodded his head to Li Jun's reminder and turned eastward, heading to the currently almost empty bandit hideout.

  • Chapter 7: Bandit Camp.

    Two days east of [Azure Springs Town] lies a small chain of mountains, the most notable mountain being [Wolf-crag Mountain], a steep and large mountain in the shape of a crouching wolf, seemingly ready to strike and devour the sun at any time. On this mountain the [Wolf-crag Bandits] have carved their base, a natural fortress defended by mountains on three sides and with only one entrance, it has stood tall and proud for the last 50 years, bringing in wanderers and mercenaries from all around to slowly build up their forces, becoming the only bandit force in an area of 300 kilometers.

    Jin Ao Chin released a large yawn, today was already the third day in a row he had stood guard over the entrance to the hideout, the last three days he had been basically living at this guard post. The guard post was located a mere kilometer from the hideout, so even if the bell was broken, a simple shout would be able to alert the other guards of the hideout. The guard post was in the shape of a simple and inconspicuous wooden cottage next to the road. They were ordered to take turns guarding the entrance to the hideout, but ever since the main force had moved out to raze [Azure Springs] and only left behind six people to guard the hideout, they simply decided to place one person at the outermost guard post to keep a lookout for when the boss and the main force would return, and Jin Ao Chin being the youngest member at seventeen years of age ended up having to stand guard while the other five people got to enjoy themselves.

    “Just you wait you bastards, leaving me out here while you get to enjoy yourselves in the warmth with the women and the alcohol. I'll make damn sure that you have to suffer the cold just as much as I do after the boss comes back.” Jin Ao Chin was muttering to himself while rubbing his hands together to keep them warm, winter always hit the hardest here in the mountains, so even though he wasn't on the actual mountain, but just on the road leading to the mountain, after three days the cold had already seeped through the thin clothes he used as a disguise and seeped into his bones.

    Just as he was about to throw more firewood into the fireplace, he heard a knock on the door. Knowing that his five other companions would simply enter, and the boss and the main force would simply ride past this outpost, the only answer he could think of was that there was another hunter or forager that had wandered into the wrong parts of the forest after losing track of his path due to the snowfall.

    “Well, at least i'll be able to alleviate some of the boredom now.” While his mouth lifted into a sinister grin he tossed the firewood into the fireplace and headed over to the door to see what poor fool had walked into his hands while he was in such a bad mood.

    Opening the door, the first thing Jin Ao Chen noticed was the color black. What greeted him was a youth, marks of his young age still apparent on his face, showing that he couldn't have been older than fifteen, younger than even Jin Ao Chin himself. He was clad in a black robe with loose sleeves that covered most of his body, not allowing one to get a good look at his figure, but looking at his slightly thin face, he seemed to be a slightly skinny youth. His shiny black hair hung down to his hips like a waterfall while his deep black eyes seemed as deep and still as the ocean, divulging none of his thoughts or emotions. His face was skinny, pale and slightly immature, but he had a steady bearing and already showed signs of handsomeness, he would surely become an elegant, handsome man if he was fed and got to grow a bit more. His deep eyes and shiny black hair, contrasted nicely with his skin, attracting people and inciting a feeling of pleasantness from looking at him.

    “Excuse me, I was foraging for some winter herbs, but I can't seem to find my way back and the snow has already covered my tracks, would you mind if I stayed here for a while to warm up before setting of again?” The youth gave a polite smile and spoke with a strong and heroic, yet soft and gentle voice, charming whoever listened to it to put all their attention on him.

    “Ah? Of course, just come in, I just threw some more wood on the fire so it'll get nice and warm soon.” Jin Ao Chin moved aside and beckoned the youth in, but his eyes never left the youths back even has he sat down on a chair in front of the fireplace. “It's your lucky day little guy, if you had come later I probably would have headed home, I just stopped here for a short rest after attempting my luck at hunting, but it seems my luck isn't as good as yours, an entire day wasted in the forest with no prey.” Jin Ao Chen gave a light chuckle and gave a faint smile as he too sat down in front of the fire and threw another log into the fireplace.

    “It seems like this winter just isn't the season for you and me, but then again, maybe we wasted all our luck on this chance meeting out here?” The youth gave a pleasant laugh and leaned back into the chair, relaxing the muscles in his body.

    “Haha, maybe, they do say that no meeting is meaningless, but fate, seems like fate wanted us to meet.” Jin Ao Chen gave a low laugh and reached for another log, but just as he was halfway to the stack of logs, he quickly lowered his arm, grabbed the hilt of the sword at his side and directed it into a quick stab aimed at the youth's chest. Just as the sword was a few inches from the youth's chest, his arm suddenly stopped, the blade trembling slightly. When Jin Ao Chin looked down, all he could see was a pitch black serpent with a bloody maw filled with sharp teeth slithering up from his legs and up his body before resting it's head on the arm holding the sword.

    “Ho? I really thought I gave off the perfect impression, I wonder what ticked you off. Or could it be that you bandits simply kill everyone you come across?” The youth's pleasant voice rang out again, but to Jin Ao Chin the voice suddenly seemed to come from a demon as he looked at those deep black eyes.

    “You stupid little brat, no forager will travel during the winter in such light clothing, and certainly not without a pouch to store the herbs in.” Jin Ao Chin sneered and cursed at the youth to try and alleviate some of his own fear. Just as his voice faded, he lifted his left hand and quickly shot it towards the hilt of the blade in his right hand. Before his hand even made it halfway to the blade, the serpent on his arm bit down, and suddenly he lost all feeling in his arms and legs, powerlessly falling to the floor.

    “Wha? What did you do, what happened to my arms and legs?” Jin Ao Chen's voice was quivering in fear, all it took was one bit and suddenly he lost all feeling in his limbs, he tried to move them, but to no avail, it was like someone had simply cut them off.

    The serpent removed it's teeth from his arm and slithered away from him, instead slithering up the body of the youth, before slowly fading into the body of the youth, replaced by a black, smoke like aura that gave the youth a hint of fiendishness.

    “Ah, there's no need to worry, I simply devoured your memory of how to control your limbs, given enough time and training, im sure you would be able to learn it again. It's a shame you have information I need.” The youth stood up from the chair and gave a faint and gentle smile that simply looked like the smile of a demon to Jin Ao Chin before making his way over to the motionless body.

    “Now then, please allow me to get a good hang of exactly how these powers work, don't worry, your journey to the yellow springs river won't be lonely, all the [Wolf-crag Bandits] will be joining you.” The youth placed his hand on the chest of Jin Ao Chin and spoke in a comforting voice, like he was talking to a child who had gotten scolded.

    Huang Ying left the cottage with a frown on his face, the only thing left of Jin Ao Chin a frozen body. The last hour of experimenting on this bandit called Jin Ao Chin had allowed him to fully grasp to which extent his devouring and ice powers worked, while he couldn't use the ice element with the natural energy around him, infusing it into his qi was no problem. He could also summon a miniature Baku as a manifestation of his devouring powers, but it was too weak to be used against people that were on the same level of power as him, the only reason it worked on Jin Ao Chin was because he was someone who hadn't even stepped into the 1st heaven. The experimenting allowed him to ascertain how to control the devouring power and how to control what was devoured, sadly, Jin Ao Chin was simply too weak, so even after devouring all his energy and even soul, Huang Ying was still only at the peak of the 3rd heaven, just a small step away from gathering enough qi within his body to attempt to reach the 4th stage and immediately moving on to the 5th stage by gathering and condensing it all at once.

    “Seems like these bastards have simply lost all shred of humanity, seems like none of them need to return to samsara, i'm better off just devouring their souls for my own good.” Huang Ying spoke with a frown, after scouring all the memories of Jin Ao Chin, he had seen how they treated the servants and slaves, especially the women, at the hideout after the boss left to raze [Azure Springs.] Lifting his head and looking towards the [Wolf-crag Mountain], a faint smile crept up on Huang Ying's lips as he walked towards the entrance to the hideout. “I wonder, will the five of you allow me to reach the 4th heaven?”

  • Chapter 8: Removing The Trash.

    “Hey, little Ying, once you devour the rest of the trash in the hideout, you won't devour their everything right?” As Huang Ying was making his way towards the hideout, Li Jun's slightly hesitant voice rang out in his mind.

    “Hmm, I don't see a reason not too, devouring their bodies will help me increase my bodily strength, while absorbing their life force and energy will help me break through to the 4th and 5th sky quickly. I figured that since you said it was best to reach the 8th heaven and leave the [Green Willows] continent as fast as possible, it would be best to wring these bandits completely dry off life and resources. Why, do you need something from them?” Huang Ying responded absentmindedly, focusing most of his concentration on utilizing and training in a skill he had taken from the memories belonging to one of the bandits, [Breeze Steps] a skill focused on manipulating trace amounts of qi to remove all traces of presence belonging to the controller of the skill, removing scent, aura and sound, allowing the user to hide themselves.

    “I noticed earlier, when you were controlling the devouring process on that lookout, while you absorbed most of the energy from his soul, trace amounts of it got transferred to me, slowing down the decay and even slightly solidifying it, if I got a bit more soul energy, I should be able to stabilize my soul and prevent the decaying process from restarting for at least another 50 years.” Li Jun spoke eagerly while nonchalantly dropping some bombs on Huang Ying.

    “Decaying process? What is that and how come I have never heard of it before?” Walking through the gates of the bandit hideout, entering the hallways that had been dug out in the mountain and sticking to the shadows, making his way towards where the lookout last remembered the other guards being gathered, Huang Ying diverted some of his concentration towards Li Jun.

    “Haa, there wasn't really a need to tell you earlier, as there was nothing you could do to stop it from happening, but things are different now. You should know what a soul is right? The essence of a person, beast or even some powerful and rare magic treasures and ingredients gradually form a soul as they are born, but these souls can't exist without a body, the laws of heaven will not allow that, so once the soul leaves the body it will slowly start decaying, if it doesn't find a new body in time, it will decay and vanish, forever leaving samsara, the cycle of reincarnation. Since my soul is at a certain level of power, the decay will be fairly slow, holding on for several thousand years is not much of a problem, but as long as the decay takes place, my power will slowly be drained, so when I eventually do get a new body, I would be much weaker than I was when I first left my body. I can use the soul power of these bandits to induce a type of deep sleep, allowing my soul to slumber within the recess of your mind, staving off the decay for as long as possible. I can then either slumber until the absorbed soul power is used up or you wake me up in case of an emergency.” Li Jun heaved a sigh and spoke in detail about the plight that had been gnawing at him ever since he left his body in times long past.

    “I see, I didn't know you had it that hard, don't worry, i'll make sure to thoroughly drain their souls and allow you to...” Before Huang Ying had finished speaking, he felt a sense of danger coming from his right. Quickly leaning his body to the left while shooting his right arm upwards allowed him to barely dodge the blade that had come from the hallway to his right and even grab the arm of the assailant, but the small cut on his neck that was dripping a few drops of blood made the sense of danger still linger at the back of his mind, reminding him of how foolish it was to divert his attention while being in an enemy hideout.

    Huang Ying's eyes turned cold as he turned to look towards the assailant, from the memories he had stolen from Jin Ao Chin, there was indeed one of the remaining guards that had a fondness for one of the women residing in one of the rooms in this hallway. And indeed, just as he thought, once he turned his head, he came face to face with a short and chubby man whose brown hair covered large parts of his face, only showing off his long and thin lips, currently frozen in a stiff smile. Following right behind this chubby bandit was a trembling young girl dressed in a simple gray robe who that didn't look more than 20, slender frame, small eyes and a slightly upturned nose, black, unkempt hair flowing down all the way to her knees.

    Black smoke started seeping from the hand holding onto the wrist of the bandit, and the next thing he knew was that he had lost all control over his limbs, he couldn't even talk anymore as it felt like someone had simply removed his tongue, all he could do was stare viciously at Huang Ying, seemingly wanting to eat him alive.

    “You should go back to your room and rest a little, i'm just here to deal with the remaining trash guarding this hideout, after today, the [Wolf-crag Bandits] won't be a problem anymore, so you can go wherever you want. Ah, if you could do me a favor and tell the other servants as well, that'd save me the trouble of going through with it.” Huang Ying glanced at the direction of the trembling girl and spoke a few words in a comforting tone to calm her down.

    “Tha...Thank you!” The girl spoke with a trembling voice as tears started welling up in her eyes, before she turned around and ran back into the hallway they had come from.

    As Huang Ying watched the back of the girl leave his vision, his eyes gradually turned cold, before they once again riveted onto the chubby bandit. “Really, seems like coming here to remove the trash truly was the right idea, can't you even follow one of the simplest of rules ' do not make sexual advances unless you are given consent'?” Huang Ying flashed the bandit a bright smile that sent a cold shiver up the bandit's spine, he opened his mouth to try to speak, but all that came out was a shrill exhale before Huang Ying's hand gently grabbed onto his face as his body started emitting black smoke, the last thing the bandit saw in this world was a demonic youth with a brilliant smile on his face.

    Huang Ying devoured everything, even the body of the chubby bandit, but simply organized the absorbed energy and stored it in different places in his body. He was currently at the peak of the 3rd heaven, any more energy may initiate his breakthrough immediately, and being in the midst of an enemy headquarter was not the ideal place to try and control a breakthrough.

    Huang Ying took out a small cloth from the breast pocket on his robe and wiped away the blood on his neck. As he wiped away the blood, he was slightly shocked to find that the small wound had already disappeared, not even leaving behind a mark, but he simply associated it with his absorbing of the bandit's body and the increase in his body's strength. Just as he was about to throw away the handkerchief, he was shocked once more as he discovered that within the crimson blood, there were traces of black lines, squiggling, like little water serpents stuck on dry land.

    “Please stop being so weird, at least try to look normal and not let me get into needless trouble.” In response to what he had seen, Huang Ying could only give a dry laugh before proceeding to make his way deeper into the hideout, from the memories of the chubby bandit he had found the location of the last 4 guards.

    “Since you have gathered such nice riches, I hope you won't mind if I put them to good use.” Walking deeper into the hideout and thinking about some of the wealth that was stored in the treasury of the bandit's, Huang Ying couldn't help but let his tongue run across his lips as his mouth lifted into a slight smile. 
  • Chapter 9: The Bandit's Nightmare.

    The table was covered in food, alcohol was flowing freely and the mood was festive. The room was lit brightly by torches hanging on the walls, scantily clad women were dancing and there was a group of musicians playing a variety of instruments standing in one corner of the room. There were three large rugged middle aged men and one small thin man sitting around the table filled with food, a women in each arm, their hands were roaming around the curves of the women and their faces were filled with large smiles. Once one looked closer one would be able to see that even though the mood was festive, the only ones who were happy were the four men seated around the table. The dances were constantly taking fearful glances at the four men, the musicians were teary eyed and gritting their teeth, while the women who were being caressed were trembling and seemed as if they wanted nothing more than to cry.

    “Haha, i'm never going to be able to understand how Fatty Fan is able to simply leave these festive occasions just to go and have fun with that little washer maid, truly, pigs only ever have eyes for pigs.” The largest man laughed loudly to the other men around the tabke as his hands dipped below the skirt of one of the women he was fondling.

    “Truly! We have so many pretty girls here and he goes for such a plain and dull one, one truly cannot compliment his tastes in women!” The small thin man was quick to flatter the rugged man while the two other men around the table simply followed the large man in his loud laughter.

    Hearing the words and seeing the actions of the men, one of the musicians couldn't help but look at them with disdain and let out a low snort. The skinny man seemed to have heard this snort however, as he snapped his head around to glare at the musicians. The one who entered his eyes was a little girl, looking no more than twelve, fair skin, large and clear emerald green eyes, chestnut colored hair tied up into a long braid that reached all the way down to her hips, small cherry red lips, thin eyebrows accentuating her eyes and a small cute nose blended together with her loose pink robe to give her a cute and adorable look. The only thing taking away from her loveliness was the look of disdain in her eyes as she looked at the men, especially the skinny man.

    “You seem to have something to say, little brat?” The skinny man spoke with a gloomy and slightly high pitched voice as he glared at the little girl in a threatening manner.

    “Humph, being so weak and useless that you were left behind here, yet speaking so grandly and proudly as if you are the kings of this world. I pity your parents who had to birth trash like you.” The little girl looked lovely, but her tongue was as sharp as a sword, cursing and demeaning the four men.

    “You should be one of the new people that was brought in just recently, it seems like there has yet to be anyone to teach you just who the bosses around here are, why don't you allow me this pleasure?” The skinny man narrowed his eyes at her words and slowly stood up while talking, a sinister grin creeping up on his lips.

    Just as the skinny man had walked three steps, one of the torches hanging behind the musicians went dark, leading to the skinny man stopping his steps in bewilderment for a second. Just as he was about to take another step, another torch went out, this time to his left, following this, the other torches quickly started going out, one by one, until the entire room was shrouded in absolute darkness and a cold chuckle rang out. “Haha, you are truly outspoken little girl, well said 'I pity your parents who had to birth trash like you', you really know how to hit where it hurts, well then, allow me to clean up this trash.” As the voice rung out, everyone in the room felt a shiver crawl up their spine, the voice sounded so pleasant, but it's tone was so cold that it sounded like a demon had descended upon the room.

    The others in the room may not have noticed what happened, but Jing He saw it all from start to finish. Once the first torch went out, she already had a strange, ominous feeling creep up on her in the back of her mind, then as the next torch went out, she managed to spot it, slithering along the wall was a serpent so black that it seemed to absorb even the surrounding light, all it did was slither past the torches, but ever torch it past simply went out. After all the torches had gone out, all the hair on her body suddenly stood up and she felt an immense sense of danger from her left, turning her head, she saw a youth walk out from the dark hallway connecting the room with the rest of the hideout.

    A slightly pale face, a black robe, pitch black hair cascading downwards his back to his hips and eyes black like the night sky, but the occasional flicker of light that flashed past them made them seem like a field of stars. The robe was loose and slightly too large, but his face was slightly skinny and immature, showing that he couldn't be much older than her, maybe only one or two years, but his bearing was as steady as a mountain, his back straight as a sword. He was walking slowly and carefully, each step as steady as Mt. Tai, seemingly young and immature, yet his aura giving her an intense sense of danger, she knew clearly, that even though she was already at the 4th heaven, this youth who didn't seem like he had any cultivation at all could probably kill her if they were to start fighting.

    The serpent slithered down from the walls and brushed past the four men that had all gathered together, as the snake brushed past them, a sliver of black smoke started to seep out of it's scales before floating over to the group of four men and entering their bodies, after which they abruptly shuddered and stiffened, no longer moving.

    The youth simply slowly walked over, grabbed the four men by the collar and dragged them after him as he headed for the are where the treasury was located, as he left the room his voice echoed out in the darkness once more. “The [Wolf-crag Bandit's are no more, you should all just leave and go do whatever it is you want to do, closest village is a three days march to the south.”

    while the other captives were rejoicing over their fortune and started making their way out of the hideout, Jing He couldn't help but follow after him, only to see him enter the treasury and lock the door, him and the four bandit's inside.

    Huang Ying let go of the four bandits and simply let them drop to the floor, their expression frozen in horror and fear. He locked the door to the treasury, making sure that no one would be able to interfere and stop his breakthrough.

    He turned towards the four men on the ground and gave them a slight smile and was just about to speak when the largest man unsteadily spoke out. “Yo-You...What did to us...? Why can't.....we... move or.... talk?”

    “Ho? You can already talk again, seems like I truly underestimated you, I didn't expect you to be able to talk again so quickly with just a 2nd heaven cultivation.” Huang Ying spoke out in surprise, seemed like he really couldn't drag this out for much longer, lest something unexpected happened.

    “Don't... belittle me... like that.... some brat not even..... at the 1st heaven.... who can only use.....poison.... has no right to talk.” The large man spoke while gritting his teeth and glaring at Huang Ying, attempting time and time again to move his limbs.

    “1st heaven? Li Jun, why does he think i'm at the 1st heaven?” Huang Ying voiced out his question to Li Jun while grabbing the large man and activating his devouring qi.

    “Not sure, my best bet is that it has something to do with your devouring element, perhaps this is it's way of concealing itself. But this is good news for you, looking like a normal mortal will make you much more inconspicuous and make it easier to perform some tasks, after all, if you ever need to prove what level you are at, you simply need to activate a bit of your qi.” Li Jun spoke out his theory as Huang Ying finished absorbing the last man.

    Huang Ying couldn't find anything detrimental about his idea, so he simply gave a quick sound of confirmation before he sat down and allowed his miniature Baku to roam the treasury, absorbing the herbs that contained some natural energy and would help him breakthrough. Feeling the surging energy within his body after he absorbed the last of the guards, Li Jun quickly transmitted some knowledge about how to break through the different stages in the [Houtian] realm before starting on his own task of absorbing the new soul power and enter his slumber.

    Huang Ying's mouth curved into a faint smile as he sensed the surging energy coursing through his body, the time to breakthrough had come.
  • Chapter 10: Breakthrough.

    Huang Ying sat cross legged in the lotus position on the floor, a steady stream of energy entered Huang Ying's body through his connection with his miniature Baku and the energy he had absorbed from the final five guards of the hideout coursed through his meridians, constantly opening new paths and expelling a smelly gray goo through his pores until his entire body was covered by a layer of the filth. Thanks to the information he had gotten from Li Jun, he knew that these were the impurities that his body had built up over time, the expelling of impurities was a clear sign that he had safely entered the 4th heaven [The Gathering Heaven]. But Huang Ying never intended to stop there, if he wanted to simply break into the 4th heaven, there was no need to go through the trouble of traveling all the way to this hideout, he could simply have broken through while heading for the capital. No, what he wanted to do was use the resources that the bandits had gathered and use them to break straight through to the 5th heaven or even above. In addition to that, in the memories of the bandit leader, he had seen some items in the treasury that would be of help to him in his future travels.

    Leading the increasingly large amounts of energy through his meridians, Huang Ying started sensing an increasing familiarity and connection with both the natural energy around him as well as the qi within him. He allowed to surging qi within him to flow freely through his meridians while going through the memories of some of the bandits, organizing the items within the treasury, sorting them into what could be absorbed and what should be saved for later. After he finished sorting through the items he had memories off, he sent of the serpent to absorb and send over the energy from all the items he could currently safely absorb. The qi within him had done over a hundred revolutions around his body, expelling nearly all the impurities within him, making him look more like a gray rock than a person.

    After allowing the energy to complete it's 999th revolution, he felt a saturated feeling in his body, the last six revolutions hadn't expelled anymore impurities, so Huang Ying decided that this was the best chance to breakthrough the 4th heaven.

    He quickly took control over the energy within his body and started making it all flow in the same direction, towards his dantian. The energy acted like soldiers under the lead of their general, rushing towards his dantian in a frenzied, yet orderly fashion. Once all the energy had settled in his dantian, it started to float around like black mist with intermittent flashes of differently colored light. The black mist was the element of devouring, while the flashes of lights were the other elements he had absorbed so far, the most dominant one among them being a cold white light.

    The internal energy settling as mist in the dantian was a sign that one had entered the earlier stages of the 5th heaven, [The Gathering Heaven]. Upon seeing how easily the mist formed in his dantian, Huang Ying couldn't help but heave a sigh. “Seems like Li Jun was right, the 9 heavens are simply the most basic of the basic in cultivation. Seems like I can accommodate more energy now, so I might as well see just how far I can push in one go” Finishing his murmuring, Huang Ying closed his eyes again and commanded the energy traveling towards his dantian and the energy in his dantian to converge and condense.

    As the mist gathered together and slowly condense, becoming smaller and smaller, Huang Ying continued to supplement it with a mixture of energy from the air around him and the energy sent to him by his Baku. Time continued to slowly pass while Huang Ying was condensing his qi more and more.

    “Does he not have any manners? Doesn't he know it's rude to keep an elegant lady like myself waiting like this?” Jing He was sitting outside the treasury, muttering to herself, sounding like a neglected housewife. She had already been sitting outside of the treasury for close 13 days, stacking a small hill of food next to the treasury, as if afraid that if she had to continuously leave to go gather new food that he might finish and simply leave, and that was something she couldn't allow, there was something in that treasury that she desperately needed.

    After getting over the initial shock she felt when she sensed the energy waves belonging to someone at the 4th heaven, and then the energy waves of someone at the 5th heaven, she had simply decided to give up on being surprised and had spent the remainder of her time simply sitting there in meditation and occasionally sulking.

    At the dawn of the 14th day, another energy wave spread out from the sealed treasury, prompting Jing He to be shocked once more, before quickly returning to sulking. “He broke through again? Does he not know how rude it is to break through so easily while others have to try several times just to succeed in sensing and absorbing the natural energy? Is he eating the herbs in there like candy? Doesn't he know that sharing is caring? Rude fellow.” Jing He puffed up her cheeks and pouted, murmuring to herself about the time she tried to break through the different heavens.

    Huang Ying opened his eyes and took a deep breath before gently exhaling and standing up, all the impurities and filth that had gathered on his body blew of him before turning into dust and vanishing, revealing his clean appearance. Eyes like a star field, hair like a black waterfall and skin now giving of a healthy light bronze luster. Breaking through to the 6th heaven had refined his body further, bringing him one step closer to the body needed for ascension.

    “seems like i'll need to use a small period of time to get used to and stabilize my new strength before I can keep increasing it.” Clenching his hand and hearing the popping of his joints and feeling the surging power flowing beneath his skin, he couldn't help but smile. Turning his vision inward, towards his dantian, there was now a small black puddle with different colored dots floating around in his dantian, this was his qi compressed to a liquid state.

    Looking around the treasury that was now almost half- empty, Huang Ying couldn't help but give a bitter smile, seems like he really used quite a bit of resources this time around. Looking around once more he quickly spotted the two items he had come here for, placed securely on a pedestal, separating them from the rest of the items. The first item was a small, seemingly ordinary purple ring, but Huang Ying knew that this was a rare inter spatial ring, a ring containing it's own dimension, allowing for storage of items, one simply needed to insert some qi and one would be able to insert or extract items.

    Putting the ring on his right middle finger, he grabbed the second item, a silver colored double edged long sword with a blade length of 70 cm and a width of two fingers. This was the second item he came here for, this was a sword that the bandit boss had come across a few years earlier, but couldn't use since his cultivation was too low. Inserting your qi into the blade would allow you to not only strengthen and sharpen the blade, but also use it to manifest your element in the are around it. Huang Ying grabbed the sword and held it in his right hand, feeling the weight and getting used to the length.

    “Hmm, seeing as you don't have a name, how about I just give you one then? Seeing as I currently can only use the ice element and devouring element, how about [Tear of Ice]?” After thinking over the name a bit and not feeling anything wrong about it, Huang Ying casually settle for the name and attempted to make contact with Li Jun, but received no answer, so he simply assumed that Li Jun had already entered the slumber he spoke of earlier, meaning that for the first time in Huang Ying's life, he was truly alone. Once he thought of this, he couldn't help feeling pangs of loneliness and even a slight unease, but he quickly buried those feelings away and strode towards the door and opened it. Upon opening it, the first thing that greeted him was something flying into his chest, accompanied by a lovely voice shouting at him.

    “Hand over my hairpin you rude slowpoke!”
  • Chapter 11: To The Capital.

    Watching the youth clad in black, carrying an indifferent expression finally leave the treasury, and upon noticing that said treasury was now empty, Jing He couldn't contain herself anymore and jumped straight at his chest and started pounding it with her little hands. Had it been a normal person who she hit, that person would surely die, the punches of someone at the 4th sky, even if she was just a child, were nothing to scoff at. Luckily Huang Ying had just broken through to the 6th heaven and even absorbed the bodies of the bandit guardsmen, enjoying a significant increase in his bodily strength.

    Looking at the little girl that hid jumped into his chest and started pounding it while cursing at him, Huang Ying couldn't help but frown and gently push her away. “What do you want? It's already been several days, you should just leave here.”

    Huang Ying truly couldn't understand why such a little girl would stay behind and even wait outside the treasury, he really wanted to just leave and go on with his business, but he truly didn't dare to simply ignore this little girl. He may not have noticed it before, but now that he had reached the 6th heaven, he saw that she was actually at the 4th heaven. A 12 year old girl at the fourth heaven in these parts of [Green Willow] would surely not have a simple background, and Huang Ying truly didn't want to invite disaster upon himself while he was still so weak. Another thing that truly confused him was how this girl was even captured by the guardsmen in the first place, from the memories the absorbed he learned that she was only caught after the main force had left for [Azure Springs]. Not even the boss of the [Wolf-crag Bandit's] would be able to catch this little girl, much less the scraps that were left behind to guard the hideout.

    “My hairpin, they took my hairpin and put it in here, so since you took everything you must have it. Give it back!” Jing He looked at Huang Ying like a child whose sweets were taken from her,

    “Hairpin?” Huang Ying swept his senses through the interspatial ring, who he found to have a surprisingly large capacity of two rooms, and saw there was indeed a hairpin in the shape of a purple plum blossom stored away.

    “Is it this one?” Huang Ying's finger rubbed the ring and the purple hairpin appeared between his fingers, he flicked his fingers and sent the hairpin soaring towards the little girl who caught it with sparkling eyes.

    “Yes! This is my hairpin, thank you very much!” The girl fastened the hairpin slightly above and to the left from her forehead, making sure that everyone who saw her would be able to see it and then proceeded to dip into a bow as she thanked Huang Ying with an incandescent smile.

    “No need to mention it, it's not even mine, nor can I use it for anything.” Huang Ying was actually a bit reluctant to simply return the hairpin, although it wouldn't be of much use to him, it was obviously important to the girl, so he should have easily been able to exchange it for information, but it also didn't feel quite right to him to attempt to blackmail such cute little girl, so he simply decided to hand it over and be done with it. Huang Ying wasn't an indecisive person, once he had decided to do something he would do it, and none of the things he would do he would allow himself to regret. He wanted to reach the apex of power, but he wasn't depraved enough to do whatever he could to get there, killing and devouring bandit's was fine since they were scum, but he had a feeling that if he decided to blackmail this girl, he would regret it in the future, so he simply decided to not do it.

    After he had returned the hairpin he once more commenced walking, brushing past the girl and heading for the exit, it was time to head onward to the capital. As he walked through the entrance and down the road leading away from the hideout, he couldn't help but heave a sight and slightly turn his head, looking at the little girl who kept following him even after leaving the hideout.

    “Where are you going next?” Before he could even open his mouth, the little girl, seemingly noticing him looking at her opened her mouth first, all the while acting like a rabbit and casting her eyes all around the scenery.

    “The Capital.” Caught slightly off-guard, Huang Ying couldn't help but answer her question.

    “Why are you going to the capital?”

    “It has the best library in all of [Green Willows] and also houses the [Purple Flood Dragons Academy]”

    “Are you going to join the academy?”

    “Not permanently, but they have the best martial arts library.”

    “You don't know any martial arts?”

    “No cultivation techniques, nor good skills.”

    “And you still managed to reach the 6th heaven? In this desolate area? Well done. Why don't you know any techniques?”

    “No one ever taught me.”

    “then it seems like you must be very talented to make it this far. You seem very fun, so i'll join you on the trip, make sure to entertain me well, i'm Jing He, nice to meet you.”

    “.....Huang Ying.” Almost before Huang Ying could finish a sentence, the girl, Jing He would fire off another question, preventing him from doing anything besides answering it, she even went as far as to pat him on his shoulder and praise him while he was talking about his cultivation, having a little girl who was only tall enough to reach his shoulders, pat him on the shoulders and praise him was truly a strange feeling to Huang Ying. It felt strange, but also rather comfortable to have someone acknowledge his achievements. Looking at the bright smile she had while talking about following him and feeling like it would be a shame to darken that innocent smile, Huang Ying could do nothing but heave a sigh and accept her unreasonable demand. It seemed like his travels were about to become a lot more noisy, but he also felt rather relieved, with Li Jun entering slumber, he was feeling rather lonely, having someone to talk to would help him relieve some of that loneliness.
  • Chapter 12: Traveling Through The Forest.

    Huang Ying was sitting on a rock in front of a bonfire, Jing He sitting in front of them, hungrily staring at the meat that Huang Ying was roasting on the fire. When they first entered the forest a few days ago, partly to look for herbs and other resources, and partly for Huang Ying to get used to his increased power, they had taken turns with the cooking, Jing He might only have been twelve, but Huang Ying was certain that she must at least be able to grill some meat. Once he found out that the girl didn't even know how to grill, the responsibility to prepare the food fell squarely upon his shoulders, in recent days he felt more like a personal cook for this unreasonable little girl than he did a fellow traveler.

    If he didn't take great care while cooking it and make sure that it was perfect, she would start pouting and ignoring him for hours on end, until he finally found something fun to appease her or cooked more meat, but properly this time. Huang Ying had once had an older sister, and thinking that he once acted just like this unreasonable little girl, he couldn't help but praise the patience of Chen Chun. At the same time he wasn't too annoyed at her, although she was unreasonable, he truly liked the feeling of having a cute little sister, it made a warm feeling flow through his veins, it made him feel like he was no longer alone in the world.

    “How much longer are we going to travel in this forest for? When are we going to enter a city, I want to sleep in a proper bed.” Jing He stopped looking at the meat and threw a pleading glance at Huang Ying.

    “Just for a few more days, in two days time we should reach the [Crystal Pond], after finishing our business there, we should be able to reach [Yellow Winds Town] within three days, we can take a rest there.” Huang Ying spoke while handing over part of the meat, he too had started grown weary of sleeping outside, but he also knew that to reach the apex of power, patience would be needed, so he simply saw this trip through the forest as a little tempering experience.

    “Isn't it about time you tell me why we are going to this [Crystal Pond] place? It doesn't seem like there should be anything good in this forest.” Jing He nibbled the meat she got, leg of deer while asking Huang Ying about the [Crystal Pond] she didn't think he would spend several days in the forest for something small like some good water.

    “Seems like you don't pay a lot of attention to rumors. Did you know that there is a legend that in ancient times, a great battle took place in this area, after the battle was over, no one knew what happened, but the only aftermath was the [Crystal Pond]a pond of water that has stayed frozen for several years. Some legends state that one of the fighters mount, a Bai Hu, a white tiger, fell and died there, forever frozen in the ice. Other legends state that one of the fighters is buried there, some state that a weapon fell there, some that it is simply the remnant energy produced by one of the attacks that hasn't been exhausted yet. There are many different varieties of these legends, but they all pertain to the legend about the battle in ancient times.” Huang Ying explained about his main goal in entering the forest, in truth he was just using these legends to cover up his true motive for heading there. In the memories from one of the bandits, he got some information about the time the bandit himself accidentally stumbled upon the [Crystal Pond], at first the bandit wanted to see if there was anything special, but a debilitating chill forced the bandit to retreat before he even managed to get close to the pond, this chill was Huang Ying's true aim, devouring this chill would help his ice qi reach a new realm in power.

    “Eh? How come I have never heard of this before? Since the legend is so grand, why is this place so deserted? Is this legend really true?” Jing He tilted her head slightly while narrowing her eyes at Huang Ying, questioning the authenticity behind the legend.

    Huang Ying simply put out the fire and started heading towards the [Crystal Pond]. “The odds of the legends being true are close to zero, but the main reasons this area is so deserted is because this entire area is very far off from the center and capital of [Green Willows] so very few people ever go here. Another reason is that the pond is very well hidden and always surrounded by a bone piercing chill. This chill is the main reason i'm here, i'm hoping to use it to break through to the 7th heaven.” Since they had entered the forest, Huang Ying had mostly just used the ice element, not daring to show off the devouring element freely, mostly just injecting small amounts into the animals he killed in an attempt to see if he could also absorb their physical power.

    The result of these experiments left him slightly disappointed, if the animals had any qi in them, he could absorb that, but absorbing their blood and bodies gave him no advantages, whether this was due to them being too weak or because they were simply normal animals with no special bloodlines would require more testing.

    “Eh? Didn't you just reach the 6th heaven? Why would you try reaching the 7th heaven so fast?” Jing He followed next to him and looked at him in bewilderment.

    “Why wouldn't I?” Seeing her look at him with such bewilderment made Huang Ying feel a bit of unease, while it was true that Li Jun had transferred some knowledge on how to break through the different levels, it was just that, how to break through the levels, nothing overly specific about the levels themselves.

    “Since you just broke through, the qi ocean in your dantian should be pretty small right, maybe the size off a small lake? If you use that small amount to break through to the 7th heaven, won't you just have a tiny little qi crystal? Is it worth breaking through if you are that weak?” Jing He explained, but suddenly seemed like she thought of something and flashed a smug smile. “Oh right, you mentioned that no one ever taught you, so just relax and let big sister explain to you! While it is true that the nine heavens are just the foundation building in cultivation, having a strong foundation is just as important as having a high cultivation. The best way to build a strong foundation is by producing a large qi ocean in your dantian during the 6th heaven, which will then allow you to produce a larger qi crystal during the 7th heaven which will then in turn allow you to manifest more of your qi outside your body while in the 8th heaven.” Jing He spoke with a proud smile, acting like a proper big sister showing off her knowledge, but Huang Ying didn't have the time to remind her of who was older right now. He was currently looking at the tiny little puddle of qi he had in his dantian and thinking about the words she spoke, 'size of a small lake', and couldn't help but be thankful that no one could see the amount of qi he had in his dantian.

    “Seems like I really do have a lot to learn still. Thanks for telling me, I almost made a huge mistake.” Huang Ying patted her on the head and watched as she squinted her eyes in happiness, this unreasonable little girl had a fondness for being pet on the head.

    Thinking about how she so casually spoke about the information that not even Li Jun had told him only further reinforced Huang Ying's belief that this little girl had a background that was in no way simple.

    As they kept walking and the days passed, the chill in the air slowly started getting worse, until they reached a clearing in the forest. In the middle of the clearing was a small frozen lake surrounded by white mist, they had finally reached the [Crystal Pond].
  • Chapter 13: The Crystal Pond.

    The little lake was nearly perfectly round in shape, completely covered in ice and white mist, the entire clearing around it a pristine and pure white without a single impurity, it was like a picture of heaven, like looking at a divine cloud. Looking at the scenery Huang Ying couldn't help but think about the time he found the Yin Heaven's Bell and how similar it looked, he could just hope that this time wouldn't end with him imprisoned and tortured for six years.

    The area was beautiful, but it contained a chill that threatened to turn anyone who attempted to enter it into an ice statue, forever guarding the lake at the center. Huang Ying and Jing He stood almost a hundred meters from the lake, but even here the cold was already bone piercing, the only way Huang Ying could endure it was by circulating his devouring qi through his body, slowly absorbing the cold and using it to strengthen his own ice qi.

    “Wah, it's so pretty here, no wonder it's called the [Crystal Pond].” Contrary to what Huang Ying expected, Jing He was completely fine despite the cold, she even looked like she was enjoying the cold, like as if it was a nice bath.

    “You seem to handle the cold rather well. I guess you have qi of the ice type?” Huang Ying stood still at the entrance of the clearing, he wasn't in a rush to enter, and was content to just look for a while, making sure that nothing unexpected would happen, so he took the chance to chat with Jing He a little.

    “Yup, mommy said that I was blessed with a powerful ice qi and that my body was special, so I would never have to be scared of the cold.” Jing He spoke with a bright smile and a slightly bragging tone, but Huang Ying was still able to see traces of melancholy in her eyes.

    “Are you going to eat all the cold here to find out what is in the lake?” Just as Huang Ying turned his eyes back to the little lake, Jing He spoke up and asked him a question that pushed his heart up into his throat.

    “You.....what do you mean?” Although Huang Ying was panicking on the inside, he still managed to feign a confused and innocent appearance on the outside.

    “Like you did in that bandit hideout and those animals, with that little black snake.” Jing He was unfased by his confused appearance and simply explained what she had seen, all the while looking right at him with a look that seemed to say 'I already know everything.'

    Huang Ying sank into deep thought for a while, trying to come up with an excuse, but seeing her look at him as if she knew all his secrets, all he could do was give a heavy sigh. “How did you see it? I thought I was stealthy enough, especially when I used it while traveling with you.” Huang Ying truly couldn't understand how she had noticed, he had at most just injected a tiny amount into the animals, he wouldn't have noticed it himself if he wasn't in control of the devouring qi.

    Seeing him give in and talk Jing He gave a triumphant laugh with a proud look on her face. “Others would probably never notice, but I can see the movement of energy in people and my surroundings! Mom said that it's part of my body being special. She also told me about that black qi of yours.”

    “What? She told you about my devouring qi?” Huang Ying narrowed his eyes as he spoke out in disbelief, the devouring qi was part of Baku and was something born within him once he got the drop of black blood from Baku, it is something that shouldn't exist in nature, so hearing her talk about how her mother had told her about it almost made him question if the information he had gotten from Baku about the devouring power.

    “Mhm, she told me before she left that if I ever met someone using a black qi that can eat things and give them to himself, that I should be nice to him and give him a message.” Upon mentioning her mom leaving, Jing He's eyes once more flashed with a hint of melancholy.

    “A message?” She had even left a message? Huang Ying couldn't help but feel like everything he had done might have been in the palms of someone else's hand. Upon reaching this thought he felt a chill go up his spine, was everything he had done so far and possibly even going to do in the future all part of someone else's plan?

    “Mhm, she told me to tell him that he shouldn't stress so much and just allow himself to enjoy life, there's no point in worrying about the past or stressing about the future, we can't change any of those anyway so just live life cheerfully.” Jing He recited the words her mother had once told her before she left the clan.

    “Was your mom special? Was she a seer?” Huang Ying, hearing advice that he found simply too fitting for the current him couldn't help but feel that everything he was doing was predetermined when he suddenly thought of something. In this world, not everyone got a blessing based on an element, some people got blessings based on concepts such as time and space instead, and people who had trained the blessing of time to a high enough level could even use their powers to scry the future and see the events that had the highest probability of happening.

    “Mhm, mom could use her powers to see the future, she used it several times for the clan and helped us get out of some troublesome times.” Jing He spoke with pride, seemingly very proud of her lineage.

    The fact that someone had scryed the future and even found out about his devouring powers made Huang Ying rather uncomfortable, once more feeling like his life and fate wasn't his to decide, but he couldn't make himself hate the person who did it, the message she had left him was something he felt he needed to hear. What use is there in grieving about the past? What use is there in stressing about the future? It's not we can change those, the past is the past and the future has yet to come to pass, so just live cheerfully in the present, not a bad way to live life.  

    “Heh, seems like your moms a pretty great person.” Huang Ying patted Jing He on the head once more before heading towards the little lake, since someone had already seen the future with the highest probability of happening, and then even went out of their way to deliver him a message to live life cheerfully, it seemed like if he kept living like he did, he would be heading for disaster, so getting stronger was now a must, not just to survive, but to grab hold of and control his own life and fate.
  • Chapter 14: The secret of the pond.

    Moving closer to the pond made the bone piercing chill permeating the area grow colder and colder, but since Huang Ying no longer had to hide the fact that he had the devouring qi he could now unleash it with his full power, manifesting as a black serpent slithering on the ground next to him. Compared to earlier, the serpent had clearly grown larger with his increase in strength, reaching almost 3 meters in length, in addition to it's increase in length, at the front of it's head, between it's eyes, it had grown a 30 cm long silver horn giving off a cold shine. 

    Huang Ying knew that since this serpent was the manifestation of his devouring element, and that it was his devouring element which controlled all the other elements he had devoured, that this horn was his ice element manifesting with the devouring qi, signifying that they had truly started fusing together.

    Walking up to the pond and looking at the clear eyes, Huang Ying couldn't help but get a little absentminded, it truly did make for a beautiful scene. Huang Ying brought Jing He and sat down cross legged next to the ice and closed his eyes, absorbing all the cold energy would take some time, so he might as well use the time to cultivate as well, and since Jing He seemed to have a special physique based on ice, she might get some unexpected benefits from here as well.

    Time slowly passed as the two of them sat next to the pond. As time passed and Huang Ying's devouring qi started absorbing the cold, the cold in the entire area started gathering around Huang Ying, forming into a slowly growing vortex around him.

    The cold in the surrounding area slowly started to decrease, and even the ice covering the pond started to slowly melt. The black serpent traveling around the area didn't grow any larger, instead it was the horn on it's head that slowly changed. It went from a single horn of 30 cm to several smaller spikes traversing along the backside of the serpent. Once the cold in the area completely disappeared the spikes traveled along the entire spine of the serpent, giving the entire serpent a cold shine.

    As Huang Ying slowly opened his eyes, a cold silver glint flashed through them, threatening to freeze the soul of anyone who looked into his eyes for too long.

    “Seems like the gains were better than I expected.” Feeling the power of the cold qi in his body, Huang Ying couldn't help but smile and mutter to himself. As he looked at the qi in his dantian, he noticed that it was no longer a black puddle with several differently colored dots, but rather that it had changed into a spiral pattern, with two different colors, one black and one silver, twinning around and each other perpetually.

    Standing up and stretching, Huang Ying noticed that not only was the cold air in the area gone, the snow on the ground, the mist and even the ice covering the pond was completely gone, all that was left was brown earth and a set of descending stone stairs where the pond used to be. Seeing the stairs, Huang Ying couldn't help but be shocked, he had spent some time thinking about what could be beneath this perpetually frozen pond, but stairs never came up as one of the options.

    Jing He who had been walking around in the periphery skipped back to Huang Ying upon noticing that he was done cultivating. “Your finally done, I thought I would have to end up waiting several days for you again.” 

    “Have you been down there yet?” Huang Ying rubbed her head a bit and went straight to the point.

    “Nope, I figured if I went in without you, you would just end up yelling at me once you woke up.” Jing He kept rubbing her head against his palm while talking, eagerly acting the spoiled little sister part.

    “Alright, shall we go then, im truly eager to see what could be hidden down there.” Huang Ying spoke with a smile as he spoiled the little girl for a bit longer before making his way to the stairs and slowly making his way down.

    The stairs were made out of a type black stone and it took about 10 minutes to reach the bottom. What opened up in front of them when they reached the bottom was a long underground passage lined with torches lit with a blue fire that gave of no heat. The walls of the passage weren't earth, but rather seemed to be a type stone that absorbed heat, cooling down the entire passage to below zero degrees. 

    Huang Ying and Jing He slowly followed the passage for a few minutes until they reached a circular door engraved with motives featuring different high level demonic and celestial beasts. Opening the door lead them into a large round cavern dug out into the earth, the cavern was devoid of anything but the blue torches lighting up the area. Huang Ying and Jing He both stood still in the doorway, shocked gazes thrown into the cavern.

    In the middle of the cavern lied a beast, the body of a tiger but several tens of meters long and tall, pristine white fur intermittently covered in black stripes, claws longer than Huang Ying, gleaming with cold light and large yellow eyes filled with both grief and relief looking at Huang Ying and Jing He.

    “Ah, little black snake, finally you have come for me, I have been waiting for you for so many years already.” A dignified, tired, and aged voice echoed out in the cavern as the massive white tiger looked straight at Huang Ying.
  • Chapter 15: Baku's Duty.

    The massive white tiger was just lying there in the middle of the cavern, giving off an aura of death but Huang Ying could still feel the tremendous power hidden within it's body. It's eyes were half closed and it didn't even look like it could stand up. But even then, the chill it gave off was enough to freeze Huang Ying where he stood. It's eyes were dim and almost lifeless, but Huang Ying could still see the great pain mixed with relief hidden in the depths.

    “Ah, finally you have come for me brother Baku.... For so many years I have waited for you, so many years of pain. Finally you have come to take me home.” The aged voice rang out again. It sounded like it was simply murmuring to itself, but it still echoed within the entire cave and even made Huang Ying feel as if his bones were reverberating with the voice.

    “I'm sorry senior..... but i'm not Baku, I am Huang Ying.” Seeing the relief in the eyes of the beast Huang Ying truly didn't want to ruin it's hopes, but allowing it to think that he was Baku would surely lead to greater complications.

    “Ah, come over here my child.” The aged voice took on the tone of an aged grandparent looking after it's grandchild as it beckoned Huang Ying over.

    Huang Ying had no choice but to walk over and stand in front of it. Seeing it up close only made Huang Ying hold the beast in further awe, in front of this beast he simply looked like a tiny inconsequential speck of dust. As he stood in front of it, the massive pressure and chill the beasts power automatically put forth seemed to have grown a mind of it's own, avoiding him entirely.

    “Ah, so young, it seems like even brother Baku went ahead before me. I have truly kept them waiting for far too long. You seem confused my child, it seems that brother Baku not tell you anything?” The beast spoke again as it's eyes inspected every corner of Huang Ying's body.

    “When this junior got the drop of blood, the information I got only briefly mentioned that Baku was born as an aspect of the inevitable end of life.” Huang Ying gave a slight bow and spoke respectfully, he had thought that upon reaching the 6th heaven and getting the devouring element that he had become strong. Upon seeing this beast he came to realize just how much of a frog in the well he was.

    “Ah, truly brother Baku always was a very irresponsible man. Little child, as you are a descendant of brother Baku, you can also be considered a descendant of me, allow me to explain to you about the duty you have inherited.” The white tiger spoke out with a sigh and turned it's eyes towards the heavens, seemingly reminiscing about times long past.

    “When a world is first born, born alongside it is Baku, The four guardian beasts and it's Three great gods. The four guardian beasts will protect the world from harm while the Three great gods will govern the process of Life, Death, and Reincarnation. The four guardian beasts are The white tiger, The black tortoise, The red phoenix, and The Blue dragon, each guarding their own corner of the world. In time the world will give birth to mortals and other life forms, these lifeforms will then begin cultivating to reach godhood.” As Huang Ying was listening to the white tiger talk, he couldn't help but notice that the way it spoke about people was like a person talking about ants, and felt a rather uncomfortable feeling.

    “They may call themselves gods, but not even they can escape the grasp of time and reincarnation, they will age, they will die, and then they will reincarnate. The only ones who can escape the grasp of time are The three great gods. Not even The four guardian beasts or Baku can escape time. We cannot escape the grasp of time, but neither can we be killed by outside means, n this world there is only one thing that can kill The Four guardian beasts and The three gods. But this does not mean we are invincible. In the great war eons ago, all four guardian beasts and even Baku was struck down, but since they couldn't kill us, all they could do was leave us in this wretched state, alive, but unable to even move.” Rage filled the white tigers eyes as it spoke about the great war, especially when it talked about whatever it was that was strong enough to strike down all four guardian beasts and Baku.

    “Ever since we lost that war us four guardian beasts and Baku could do nothing but rot away in our hiding places, forever trapped in the pain of our old wounds. The only one who could come up with a means to escape was brother Baku, he abandoned his status and power as a World beast and sent his own element and blood into the cycle of reincarnation, allowing a mortal to be born with both and take up his duty, once the mortal died, the blood would return to the reincarnation cycle and repeat the process until someone who could fulfill his promises and duty was born. And now you stand here before me to complete part of the promise and uphold your duty as the new Baku.” The white tiger turned it's eyes upon Huang Ying again and looked at him with gratitude and love, reminiscing about the times he spent with his good brother.

    “What is the duty of Baku? If possible i'd rather live without restraints...” The last part of his sentence was nothing but a low murmur that even he could barely hear, but it seemed that the white tiger managed to hear it perfectly as it started laughing.

    “You are indeed a descendant of brother Baku, he had the exact same thoughts about his duty. The duty of Baku is simple, to restore balance. While The four guardian beasts guard the world and the Three great gods govern it, Baku is the sword above our heads. Once something on the level of the Three great gods or Four guardian beasts threatens to abuse it's power or ruin the balance of the world appears, Baku will arrive and his duty is simply to devour the threat and return it to the cycle of reincarnation. So many years have passed without a proper Baku or Four great guardian beasts in this world, but now you stand before me and I can finally return to the cycle of reincarnation, allowing a new White Tiger to be born and guard the west.” The white tiger looked deeply at Huang Ying, allowing it's gaze to roam across his entire body once more.

    “As you are now, im afraid you are far too weak to be able to truly take up the role of Baku, so let me give you a little gift. You only need to devour my soul to return it to the cycle of reincarnation, this withered old body can still be considered to contain some traces of power and the white tiger bloodline, you can consider it my thanks for finally freeing me from this torment.” The white tiger looked on with expectant eyes, giving Huang Ying no other choice but to step forward.

    As Huang Ying put his hand on the body of the white tiger and circulated his devouring Qi into it's body, a content smile appeared on the face of the white tiger as it's entire body slowly started turning into a vortex of white dust spinning around Huang Ying, it's last words still echoing through the cavern.

    “Ahh, my brothers, I will go ahead first, I hope that when I open my eyes once more we will all be gathered again.
  • Chapter 16: Blood of the tiger.

    As the vortex of dust rotated around Huang Ying and more and more of the particles entered his body, he could see the Qi pond in his dantian slowly growing larger as the part of the lake that was silver in color started becoming more and more incandescent in color, until it turned a brilliant white, shining a cold light upon his entire dantian. His normal cold Qi had been changed by the power of the white tiger bloodline, becoming the ice Qi that the white tiger used.

    The sudden increase in power and changing of his bloodline brought with it tremendous pain, Huang Ying simply collapsed onto the floor, unable to keep himself standing.

    A searing sensation was flowing through his meridians and to his dantian, slowly strengthening his inner organs and bones, bringing with it pain that made it seem like someone was plucking out his organs and bones.

    While his meridians were filled with a searing sensation, an icy chill was running through his veins, strengthening his flesh and skin all the while making Huang Ying feel as if the blood in his veins had frozen and what was flowing was tiny ice needles instead of blood.

    The pain was so bad that Huang Ying couldn't even scream, it felt like his lungs were being pressed down, preventing the air from leaving them. The only thing he could do was grit his teeth and hit his head against the ground to keep himself conscious.

    Along with the pain came another surge of information, but most of the information was useless as the long time the white tiger had spent in this underground cave had fragmented and deteriorated most of the information that would have been useful to Huang Ying. The only thing he could take out from the information was some information about the personalities of the Four great beasts and the old Baku and information about how to activate his new bloodline power.

    Seeing Huang Ying hit his head against the floor, seemingly in agonizing pain, Jing He ran up to him, but after doing a quick check and seeing that the pain came from the changing of his bloodline and sudden increase in power, she realized there was nothing she could do but hold onto him and keep talking to him in a bid to keep him conscious. If he were to faint now, the power running through his body would lose it's controller and run rampant, ending in his meridians breaking at best or his body disintegrating at worst.

    “Stupid brother Ying! Didn't your parents teach you not to eat things you find on the floor?”

    “Just because you can eat so much doesn't mean that you should!”

    “You don't even know where that thing has been!”

    “Stupid brother Ying, you can't leave me too....”

    Jing He kept shaking and shouting jokes and witty sentences at him for an entire hour before her voice started turning hoarse and tears welled up in her eyes. She had only met him several days ago, but he truly acted like a good big brother and treated her like a little sister, she didn't want to lose that warm feeling.

    “Stupid little girl.... i'm older than you so you should at least call me.... big brother Ying....” A few minutes after she had stopped shaking him, a weak and hoarse voice rang out from Huang Ying as he slowly struggled to sit up.

    “Brother Ying! You finally woke up!” Jing He didn't waste any time before jumping at him, hooking her hands around his neck and burying her face in his shoulder and crying her heart out.

    “Stupid little girl, do you really think so little of me? That i'd just die here? I still have things to do you know.” Huang Ying had a slight smile as he patted her back and comforted her, he found that feeling like a proper good brother was a rather good feeling.

    After allowing Jing He to cry out all her tears and watching her sit down in front of him, he checked his body and was pleasantly surprised as he felt the power coursing beneath his skin. Looking at the Qi lake in his dantian he was shocked to see that it had grown from it's little puddle state into a large lake several kilometers across, divided into two different colors, one pitch black and one pure white.

    Putting his hand on the ground and circulating part of his ice Qi, he was shocked to see a layer of ice forming on the floor before quickly spreading out, this was simply him using a bit of ice Qi to coat his hand, how strong would it be once he reached the 8th heaven and could manifest his Qi outside of his body?

    “Are you better now brother Ying?” Jing He stared at the ice spreading on the ground with her large eyes before worriedly asking Huang Ying.

    “Yup, in fact, never felt better. We can just head to [Yellow Winds Town] immediately.” Huang Ying stood up with a smile before leading Jing He back to the stairs and out of the cave.

    Walking through the forest towards [Yellow Winds Town] Huang Ying couldn't help but wonder about some of the information he had gotten from the white tiger as he devoured it. According to the white tiger, in the world, there would always only be one white tiger at a time, but now there was going to be a white tiger as well as someone carrying the blood of the white tiger. Was this not considered breaking the balance? Seemed slightly irresponsible that the one supposed to keep the balance would be the one to break it. Not coming up with an answer, Huang Ying simply decided to throw these thoughts to the back of his mind, no point in worrying about something you have no answer to.
  • Chapter 17: Yellow Winds Town.

    [Yellow Winds Town] was located much closer to the center of [Green Willows] than [Azure Springs], as such it had a much higher population count. In [Azure Springs], just being at the 5th heaven allowed you to be a mayor and leader of the entire city. In [Yellow Winds] The city lord of the town was at the peak of the 9th heaven, just a bit away from his heavenly tribulation. The town also had several clans that were almost equal to the mayor in power.

    [Yellow Winds] took it's name from a phenomena that happened yearly around the area. Every year during mid-summer a strong wind would arrive from the west, bringing with it large amounts of sand from the [Forgotten Desert], dying the wind a dry yellow color.

    Despite this yearly phenomena, the area around [Yellow Winds] was vibrant and full of life, this was mainly due to the city lord and the several different clans gathering to remove the sand every year, using it in the production of the town's specialty; sandstone.

    Huang Ying was sitting at a table by the window of his room in the inn and drinking tea, after robbing the [Wolf-crag Bandits] clean, he wasn't lacking for money, so spending some on a nice room and good food and drinks wasn't a problem. He was looking out the window, keeping an eye on Jing He who was currently running around in the shopping street outside the inn and buying everything that caught her fancy, with money provided by brother Ying of course.

    They had already stayed in the town for three days, so Huang Ying warned Jing He that if there were still things she wanted to do she would have to do them now, as they would be leaving tomorrow. After a round of pouting and sulking she reluctantly agreed and proceeded to pester him for money to go shopping. It was only after a vigorous round of debating that he managed to retain his right to not go shopping with her and stay in the inn.

    He had good reason to stay in the inn, ever since they arrived at the town, he had a bad feeling in his gut. It was like his instincts were warning him that he should leave town, but after an entire day he had found nothing in the town that could warrant such a reaction so he mostly ignored it. But after the feeling had stuck with him for the entire duration of the stay, he had gradually grown more vigilant. He had decided that the moment Jing He finished shopping he would head out to get some food before continuing their travels. They had already stocked up on food and water, so the only reason they were still in town was Jing He's adamant stance on the need for relaxation and proper beds after the forest trip.

    After putting away all the things Jing He bought and telling her that they were going to head out to eat and then leave town, she adamantly refused to leave town before he followed her to check out a store.

    After reaching the store Huang Ying couldn't help but have a certain though, all women truly love clothes. Jing He brought him straight to a clothing store and dragged him inside, got him measured and forced him to wait outside as they were making his clothes. Once he was finally allowed inside again he was forced into a loose azure robe by Jing He and the store owner before finally being forced to bought it under the argument that “Brother Ying is always wearing black, it's so boring. You look much better in blue!”

    seeing himself wearing the azure robe, he couldn't help but think about the time in [Azure Springs] before he was imprisoned. He used to have azure hair back then, but it turned a pale blue after the imprisonment and then quickly pitch black after accepting the power of Baku. Thinking back on it, it felt like it was ages ago, but counting the days, it had only been slightly more than a month, yet so much had happened since then. After paying for the robe, under Jing He's behest they headed for the finest restaurant in town [The Western Moon].

    [The Western Moon] truly lived up to it's name as the town's finest restaurant, just to enter one had to prove that one had enough money to eat. Once one got inside, it was like a different world, ice based artifacts were used to continuously regulate the temperature, every tabled had a golden fold-able wall that could be used to isolate the table from the others, blocking out all sight and sound. There were musicians placed in every corner of the restaurant, playing a harmonized symphony that soothed the mind. Every waiter and maid exuded gracefulness and elegance.

    After finding an empty table and ordering several dishes, Jing He simply sat there and enjoyed the music and immersed herself in the atmosphere. Huang Ying simply sat there with narrowed eyes, keeping an eye on everything going down in the restaurant. The gut feeling he had since they entered the town still hadn't gone away, in fact it had only gotten stronger after they entered the restaurant, so Huang Ying was currently not daring to let down his guard, afraid of missing a single thing going down in the restaurant.

    After the food arrived the feeling still didn't go away, Jing He didn't seem to have the same feeling, but seeing Huang Ying being so tense and alert she too slowly started keeping her guard up while eating.

    As they were almost finished eating, the door to the restaurant opened and a handsome young man wearing a light yellow robe, holding a jade folding fan and followed by several other young men who seemed to be fawning over him walked in. Seeing these people the bad feeling Huang Ying had in his gut reached it's peak, and sure enough, just as he was thinking about simply leaving, the handsome young man looked over and spotted him and Jing He. A polite and handsome smile that gave Huang Ying goosebumps slowly spread on his face.
  • Chapter 18: Tao Cheng.

    Tao Cheng was walking through the streets, casually glancing at the stalls lining the street. As the only son of the city lord he could get any single item from these stalls if he simply opened his mouth. Being the son of the city lord, there is no shortage of people who want to flatter him in an attempt to build a better relationship. Tao Cheng couldn't be bothered with any of these people, even the four young masters hailing from this city's four great clans that were following behind him were beneath his notice. This was simply because they were simply too narrow-minded, the only thing they wanted was to inherit their clan and rule their own little piece of this town. But Tao Cheng was different, he had grown up reading book about the martial path and his father had constantly lectured him about how long the martial path was. Tao Cheng wasn't content with staying in this tiny town, he wanted to leave it and roam the world, eventually even leaving [Green Willows] and see the greater world.

    “Little lord Cheng, should we check out Old man Li's shop? I heard from my sources that he recently received some new leaves from the capital, supposedly a single one of those leaves is enough to last a man an entire day.” One of the young masters following behind him opened his mouth in an attempt to please Tao Cheng.

    “Hmm, let's not, with weather this good it would truly be a shame to not spend the day relaxing around the town.” Tao Cheng gave a gentle and polite smile, but on the inside he was sneering, this young master from the Shen clan only had decent talent, so he spent most of his day smoking all sorts of different herbs he got from around the continent, a true wastrel.

    [Yellow Winds Town] was under the control of the city lord, the Tao clan, but there were also four other prominent clans controlling their own parts of the city, the city lord rarely pried into their business. The four clans were respectively; the Shen clan, the Yuan clan, the Zhong clan and the Mo clan. The four people following behind him were the four young masters of the clans, constantly trying to build a better relationship with him. The Tao clan rarely intervened into the four other clans business, but they never doubted that the Tao clan was the strongest amongst the five of them, so there was no harm in building a better relationship with the next city lord early on.

    The four young masters following him were; Shen An, a short and chubby youth with a frivolous demeanor, Yuan Fen, a tall and sturdy youth with muscles that radiated power, Zhong Zhelan, a normal looking youth with a cowardly demeanor, constantly keeping his head down, and Mo Jingyi, a skinny but brash and reckless youth who enjoyed nothing more than fighting. All four of them were called the young masters, but that was only because they were the first sons of their respective clans patriarchs. Even the best one among them only had decent talent for cultivation and would never amount to much, so they were more than content to rule as little tyrants in their own little corners of the town.

    “Hehe, of course the weather is far too good to spend the time with some leaves, but little lord Cheng, Old man Li's shop recently got in some new 'maids', wouldn't it be a shame to let these 'maids' simply go unchecked?” Zhong Zhelan spoke and his words quickly incited the fire in the young masters hearts, prompting them to laugh with lusty smiles while licking their lips, Tao Cheng truly couldn't understand how people like these could be made the young masters of clans, or even call themselves cultivators, they were simply too unrefined.

    “Now now, you know my father has people all over town, if he found out that I went to a place like that he would never forgive me. How about we just go to [The Western Moon]? I heard that manager Yan got in some rather exotic meat.” Tao Cheng spoke with a smile and threw out a casual excuse, but only his clan knew the truth. The Cheng clan cultivated a Yin-Yang cultivation technique, everyone who cultivated this technique could quickly increase their strength through absorbing the Yin or Yang of someone from the opposite sex through sexual relations, so every member of the Cheng clan made sure that they only had sexual relations with people who had either a strong Yin or Yang physique.

    After spending some more time in the market street, they headed for the restaurant. Upon entering the restaurant, they were greeted enthusiastically by manager Yan, the owner of the restaurant and were just about to head to the top floor when Cheng noticed a table out of the corner of his eyes. The table was located in an inconspicuous corner of the restaurant, but what caught Tao Cheng's attention were the two people sitting at the table. One was a boy wearing a sky blye robe with pitch black hair cascading down his back to his hips, black eyes that flickered with light, seeming like a field of stars. His face was indifferent and cold, only occasionally giving a small smile to the girl he was talking to. Looking at him from afar and feeling the natural energy in the area around him simply vanish as it got close to him, the boy seemed like a black hole incarnate to Tao Cheng.

    The little girl in front of him was clad in a tight-fitting pink robe, she had large and clear green eyes, looking like emeralds and cherry red lips. Her hip long chestnut colored hair was tied up in a braid, but what caught Tao Cheng's attention was the cold energy she was unconsciously giving off. There was not a doubt in his mind that this girl surely had a powerful Yin physique, she would be perfect for him to break through to the 5th heaven.

    The boy with the black eyes seemed to have noticed something and raised his head and locked eyes with Tao Cheng. Seeing those cold and indifferent eyes, Tao Cheng almost lost all the strength in his knees, but he still put on a gentle and polite smile before slowly walking over. The four young masters were confused, but seeing their little lord Cheng walk over, how could they not follow as well.

    “Greetings, my name is Tao Cheng, I don't believe I have ever seen you around in town before. Could you perhaps be travelers? Would you like for me to show you around town, I like to believe that no one knows this town better than me.” Tao Cheng gave a small bow and made sure to put on his most gentle smile as he spoke.

    “You should leave. We have no interest in your 'good intentions', nor do I have the patience to bother with you.” Little did he expect that the boy wouldn't even lift his head, instead just casually sipping some tea while speaking to him in a voice dripping with disdain. Even the girl pretended like he wasn't even there, just eating her food with a smile instead.

    “Excuse me, you seemed like you just recently arrived in town so I was hoping to show some of our good hospitality.” The corners of his eyes were twitching, but Tao Cheng still managed to squeeze out his polite reply.

    “She doesn't need your 'hospitality', now fuck off will you.” The boys disdainful voice rang out again, slightly shocking Tao Cheng. He didn't expect the boy to even know his intentions through just a slight moment of eye contact. This boy was a danger, it was best to leave quickly. Tao Cheng made up his mind to leave when the four young masters behind him acted.

    Zhong Zhelan acted first, grabbing hold of the girls hands, the other one to act was Yuan Fen, sending his fist straight towards the boy.

    “How dare you disrespect the little lord?!”

    “Come now little girl, the little lord will show you around town.” At the same time as they acted, they also shouted out, but the little girl was still just sitting there with a smile, acting like she was looking at a show. Instead it was the boy who showed the greatest change.

    “Truly trash that doesn't know it's place. The world is better of with you dead.” The boy merely shifted his head slightly to the side, his cold eyes filled with incredible violence as he lifted his right arm and grabbed at the punch Yuan Fen sent at him.

    Seeing the boy grab at his attack Yuan Fen raised his lips into a sinister smile and laughed coldly, his cultivation technique was focused on improving the body, and this thin little youth wanted to grab his fist. But in the next instant his smile froze on his face. The boy had grabbed onto his wrist and Yuan Fen found that he no longer managed to move his hand, it was like it was stuck in an iron vice.

    The boy only looked at him with his cold and indifferent eyes as he clenched his fist. All Yuan Fen felt was a crushing pain as his entire wrist was destroyed, but before he even managed to scream, the boy's other arm shot out and hit him square in the chest. The arm didn't even stop as it hit his chest, simply going straight through it, in the next instance Yuan Fen felt a strange Qi entering his body, sucking up all his Qi and then his vision went dark.

    The people watching were horrified, it had simply happened to fast. But before they managed to speak, the boy moved again, appearing next to Zhong Zhelan and grabbing onto the arm that was holding onto the girl. The temperature of the room suddenly started to plummet after he was grabbed and before he managed to even squeeze out his voice, his entire body froze. The boy pushed the frozen body, and as it hit the ground and shattered, people were shocked to see that even the blood was frozen.

    “Who said you could touch her?” The boy's cold voice sounded out again, nearly freezing the blood in the spectators veins. Was this still a human?
  • Chapter 19: Rapid Escape.

    Huang Ying pushed over the froze body of the normal looking youth, he was in a rather sullen mood right now. They had just been enjoying themselves while eating, when suddenly a group of annoying flies showed up.

    They didn't even appreciate it when he told them to leave, truly obstinate people. Did they think he was blind and didn't see how the leading man was looking at Jing He? Seeing the fake gentleman greedily looking at her and the normal looking youth grabbing her arm truly lit a fire Huang Ying's belly. He could see that they weren't average people, if they were, the store manager wouldn't have come to greet them so politely. But even so there was no way he could let them leave alive, thinking they were worthy of touching Jing He, truly toads lusting after the swan.

    Huang Ying wasn't quite sure why seeing them act so frivolous with her angered him, all he knew was that he would never let people like these near her.

    “Really, trash like you should just stay in your little back alley with all the other trash, why try to make life difficult for other people?” Huang Ying spoke as he used a napkin from the table to wipe his hand, looking like he didn't even want to be in contact with these people.

    “We- we're sorry sir..... We-we'll leave immediately, we won't bother you again.” Tao Cheng stuttered out as he tried to slowly back away.

    “Leave? Aren't you the city lord's son? I can't think of anyone else who would receive such a nice greeting from the restaurant manager.” Huang Ying spoke to him in a manner-of-fact voice, but to Tao Cheng it sounded like the summons of the underworld.

    “Ye-Yes! Im the son of the city lord! And these people are the sons of the clan patriarchs! So if you let us leave there will be plenty of benefits for you!” Tao Cheng almost shouted out, wanting nothing more than to just run from there.

    He had just finished his sentence when he noticed a something pressing against his legs. When he looked down, all the color from his face drained. He, Shen An, and Mo Jingyi were originally standing very close to each other, and now there was a massive serpent slithering between their legs, restricting their movements. The serpent was three meters long, pitch black scales and golden eyes. It's entire backside was lined with cold silver spikes the length of a grown man's finger.

    “See, since you are the son of the city lord I really can't let you leave. I have already killed two of the sons of the patriarchs, so why shouldn't I kill you as well? If I let you go, you will surely keep plotting against us and might possibly harm us if we ever return here, so i'd rather just kill you now and save myself the trouble. It'll take the city lord and the clans a bit of time before getting the news, so I can just take that time to escape.” Huang Ying spoke with a faint smile, but on the inside he was on full alert and made sure that he could see everything happening in the restaurant. Being chased by several people at the 9th heaven was not going to be fun, so he had to leave fast.

    “Well, with that said and done, let's leave Little He.” Huang Ying clapped his hands and beckoned over Jing He. Ever since they came to this town she had pestered him to call her something other than just her full name, so he just assented to calling her Little He. He grabbed her by the hand and walked past Tao Cheng and out of the restaurant, as he left the restaurant he felt a warm stream of energy come to him from his connection with the serpent and make it's way to the Qi lake in his dantian, slowly growing it.

    “Seems like devouring the bodies of normal people is no longer good enough to strengthen my own body, seems like i'll need either strong beasts or people with stronger bodies than me.” Huang Ying muttered to himself as he took Jing He and started dashing away from the restaurant. He may have said that it would probably take a while before the city lord and the clans would receive the news, but upon devouring the memories of Tao Cheng he found that the city lord had made Tao Cheng leave behind a soul jade, a piece of jade containing a piece of his soul that would crack upon his death and leave behind a mark on the killers body for a little while, in his custody.

    “WHO DARES HARM MY SON?!” Just as Huang Ying had started running, a furious roar reverberated through the city, and what followed that roar was the city lord's perception rushing through the entire city, before locking onto Huang Ying.

    Once a cultivator reached the 8th heaven and learned how to send their Qi out of their body and manipulate the surrounding natural energy, they could also start learning how to send their perception out of their body, allowing them to see everything within the range of their perception.

    After the perception of the city lord, four more perceptions swept across the city before locking onto Huang Ying.

    “What the fuck, all five of them had soul jades?” Huang Ying was truly unreconciled, the main problem he had when devouring memories was that the only memories he could see where the things the people themselves could remember, so if something was done to them just after they were born, it would be next to impossible for Huang Ying to see those memories.

    “SO IT'S YOU, YOU LITTLE BASTARD!” The furious shout from the city lord rang out again, but this time it was accompanied by four other angry shouts.

    After the shouts rang out Huang Ying was sure that they had started chasing him, so he had to come up with an escape route, and fast.

    “Running along the road is obviously no good, hiding in the city would be even worse, is that place the only place I can go?” As the idea came to his mind, Huang Ying wasted no time. He hoisted Jing He into a princess carry and directed all his Qi into his legs, making a mad dash towards the east.

    Staying in town would be suicide. He couldn't guarantee that they wouldn't catch up to him if he followed the road north towards the capital. Heading to the west and trying to make it to the desert would also be suicide, and there was no guarantee that they would even make it to the desert. Heading south and going back where he came from wouldn't be too bad, he could hide in the cave where he found the white tiger, but there was no guarantee that they would make it that far. The only place he could think of that was within reach and that would ensure that they wouldn't be chased too far was to the east, to The Wilderness, Green Willows larges and oldest forest, a forest that existed even before the continent was given it's name.

    Huang Ying dashed towards the east end of town and simply jumped from the streets onto a house and then from the house over the city wall, running towards The Wilderness, he could already see the trees marking the entrance to The Wilderness on the horizon.

    Hearing a soft sound behind him, Huang Ying ddn't even need to turn around to know that his pursuers had made it over the wall and landed on the ground. He simply manifested the head of his miniature Baku on his shoulder to keep an eye on what happened behind him.

    “You little bastard, leave your head here!” one of his pursuers shouted at him and fired a stream of water towards him, signifying that he was at least at the 8th heaven.

    Huang Ying knew that he could attempt to freeze the stream of water, but since he couldn't emit his Qi into the outside world, all it would result in was that instead of a water spike piercing him, it would be an ice spike. And since his pursuer as ona higher cultivation level than him, the devouring Qi would only have a very small chance of working. Quickly going through his options mentally, Huang Ying knew that there was nothing he could do to stop it, nor was he fast enough to completely avoid it, so he decided to shift his body slightly to the side and quickly lower his shoulder, allowing the stream of water to pierce through his collarbone.

    Before the water beam shot out of his shoulder, he circulated his ice Qi to his shoulder, freezing part of the water stream in his shoulder to block the blood from flowing out.

    His pursuers kept firing attacks at him as they were slowly gaining on him. Huang Ying knew that if he wasted any Qi on defense, his speed would drop too much and they would catch up to them, so he simply abandoned all defense and put all his energy into his legs, focusing on his speed. Jing He was still carried within his arms, covered in blood. None of the blood was hers, it was simply the blood flowing out from Huang Ying's various injuries and onto her. Jing He wanted him to drop her so that she could run on her own, but Huang Ying knew that since she had only recently broken through to the 5th heaven thanks to the ice energy at the Crystal Pond her speed would not allow her to run fast enough to make it away from the pursuer. Huang Ying also didn't expect his pursuer to be kind enough to let her go, after all, she was with the boy who killed their sons.

    Huang Ying's vision was blurry and distorted, his head empty of nearly all thought and he could barely feel his body. But he could still make out the trees not far away, still feel the weight in his arms and pain in his legs so he knew that he had to run just a bit further, just a bit further and they would be safe. Not even the city lord and the patriarchs dared venture into The Wilderness, so once they made it inside they would be safe.

    “Little bastard, you think i'll let you set foot into The Wilderness?!” Huang Ying could barely make out the shout behind him as he was just a few steps from The Wilderness. He could barely make out the shout, but the large spike of water coming at his heart from behind was impossible to miss. Seeing the spike rapidly flying towards him, Huang Ying knew he couldn't dodge it completely. As he was trying to figure out a way to minimize the damage, an insane idea popped into his mind. Thinking through the idea, a grin with the flavor of madness crept up on his bloodied face.

    As the spike was right behind him, he used the remainder of his strength to raise his arms and life Jing He up to his chest and jumped slightly off the ground. He circulated all the Qi he had left in his body to make a simple shield of ice Qi on his entire back. As the spike of water hit his body, it instantly froze upon coming into contact with the ice Qi. As it froze and penetrated through his stomach, narrowly missing his dantian, all the power it had gathered up spread through his body and catapulted him forward, sending his body flying through the line of trees and into The Wilderness.

    Before he landed on the ground, he curled himself up into a ball and hit the ground with his back before rolling along. After rolling for a short distance, Huang Ying tried to raise his head a bit, barely getting it off the ground, and threw his gaze towards where they entered from. He saw that they ahd been catapulted nearly 200 meters into the massive forest that was The Wilderness. He could barely make out five people standing outside the line of trees, looking around for a short while before discussing something with each other and reluctantly leaving.

    “Ha...” Huang Ying barely managed to squeeze out the words with his hoarse voice before the world before him turned completely black and he passed out.
  • Chapter 20: Jing He's resolution.

    Jing He opened her eyes after the rolling stopped and surveyed her surroundings. She noticed that she was no longer in the arms of Huang Ying, but a few meters away from him. Upon seeing him lying on the ground a few meters away, she really wanted to cry. While he was running he held her close to his body, preventing her from seeing his injuries, but now that she was no longer in his arms she could see them in their entirety.

    There was a burn mark almost going in a circle around his entire head, both his shoulders were pierced through by several spikes made of ice, his entire backside was lacerated and mangled. There were chunks of flesh missing from his legs, and there was a large ice spike going straight through his abdomen. He was littered in injuries and blood, while Jing He was covered in blood but else completely unharmed.

    “Brot...Brother Ying? Are you awake? Brother Ying?” Her first instincts upon seeing him were to try and gently shake him, but all she received was the sound of his shallow breathing.

    “Brother Ying, you can't die! You can't leave me.... I don't want to be alone again...” Seeing him not respond and barely breathing, Jing He couldn't hold back her tears and started sobbing while clutching onto his arms.

    As she was crying, she seemed to suddenly think of something as she quickly looked around, making sure that no one was around.

    “It... it should be fine if it's just a little, they won't find me if it's just a little.” As if to reaffirm her determination, she clenched her hands and vigorously nodded her head.

    Grabbing Huang Ying's interspatial ring, she quickly pulled out several herbs, a wooden bowl, and a small dagger. She placed the herbs in the bowl and used the handle of the dagger to crush them into a rough paste before using the dagger to make a small cut on her palm and dripping the blood into the bowl.

    As the blood appeared and dripped down into the bowl, the temperature of the surrounding area plummeted, almost reaching below zero, but at the same time a pleasant, sweet and fruity fragrance spread through the area. She quickly mixed the blood with the rough paste, giving it a more liquid consistency before pouring it into her mouth and transferring it to Huang Ying using the mouth to mouth method.

    Her mother had warned her that she must take care to never spill any of her blood, otherwise they would be able to easily locate her and would probably come for her again, but at this time she couldn't care about those warnings. She simply didn't want the boy before her to die.

    He always wore a cold and indifferent expression and spoke bluntly, even going as far as flicking her forehead and chopping her on the head when she was annoying or talked too much. But none of that could mask the care and warmth he gave her. Taking care of her, catering to her selfish and unreasonable demands, always making sure she wasn't sad. They had only been traveling together for around a month, but that single month allowed her to feel as if she had returned to the time she spent with her family and had nothing to worry about. Especially as they were fleeing and he protected her with his own body, not allowing her to come to harm. To her, that moment felt like being back in her mother's embrace, she truly didn't want to lose that warmth.

    As the mixture entered Huang Ying's body, the ice spikes still stuck in him slowly got pushed out and the burned skin fell off, giving way to new skin as his wounds slowly closed and the lost flesh slowly grew back, even his Qi lake started filling up again.

    His wounds had healed and his breathing had returned to a steady rhythm, but Huang Ying was still unconscious so Jing he grabbed him by the shoulders and started to slowly drag him deeper into the forest, looking for a place where they could set up camp and rest.

    After dragging Huang Ying through the forest for a few hours, Jing He finally found a small, empty cave that they could rest in and figure out their next move. Jing He dragged him into the cave and propped him up against the wall before taking a quick trip out of the cave to find some firewood before making up a small fire. Since they both had ice Qi, the cold was no problem to them, even if they were unconscious, but after spending several hours dragging him, night was just about to fall and not having a light source then would be a problem.

    After lighting the fire and making sure that it would keep burning for a little while, Jing He sat down next to Huang Ying and leaned up against his shoulder, enjoying the momentary rest. Hours of trudging through the forest had covered her clothes in mud and dirt her hair was in disarray and even her face had gotten dirty.

    Jing He suddenly woke up with a start, she didn't know when she had fallen asleep, but the fire had already gone out and the first rays of sunlight shone into the cave. The sunlight wasn't what woke her up, rather it was a low growling she heard from outside the cave. Rummaging through Huang Ying's interspatial ring once more, she pulled out a silver colored longsword that was half as long as she was. Grabbing the sword that was half as long as her made her seem rather comical, but also gave her a slightly heroic air.

    “Don't worry brother Ying, you protected me, so it's only right that I protect you.” She grabbed the sword with both hands and left the cave.

    Outside the cave she came face to face with a small group of wolves. About six wolves had grouped together outside the cave, the biggest one was only slightly higher than one meter and only around two meters long. They all had black eyes and grey fur, but they all looked emaciated, to the point where one could almost count the ribs on their chest.

    Raising the sword with both hands, Jing He stood in front of the cave, blocking the entrance. “I won't let you hurt brother Ying!”

    After about half an hour, the sound of fighting outside the cave stopped and Jing He slowly walked back in with a limp. Her robe was torn and cut in several places with blood slowly oozing out, her left arm was hanging powerlessly at her side. She dropped the sword next to the unconscious Huang Ying before once more sitting down next to him and leaning her head on his shoulder

    “Don't worry brother Ying, I won't let anyone hurt you, so just sleep peacefully.” After finishing her words she slowly fell asleep as he wounds automatically started healing themselves.
  • Chapter 21: Powerless Hatred.

    The first thing Huang Ying felt when he woke up wasn't pain, rather than that it was an itching feeling over his entire body, like thousands of ants were crawling around in his skin.

    “Ah, it seems like we made it out alive in the end.” He didn't know where he was, but just the fact that he could still feel something meant that he was alive.

    He tried to move his limbs, but a soreness spread throughout his entire body, replacing the itching feeling. He opened his eyes, but for the first few seconds all he saw was darkness. After his eyes got used to the dark and he managed to see a bit more, he noticed that he was in a cave, propped up against a wall. The cave seemed like someone had just dug it out off a mountain quickly. It went barely three meters in and could barely fit two people standing shoulder to shoulder.

    The walls were made of compressed dirt, it was impossible to stand as the cave ceiling was about one meter from the ground. In front of him were the burned down remains of a bonfire, there was no light shining in through the cave entrance so he assumed that it must be night outside, how long he had been unconscious for he had no idea.

    He tried moving his body again and just as he managed to move his arms, he felt something stir on his left arm. Looking down he saw Jing He cling to his left arm and staring at him with teary eyes.

    “Brother Ying! You finally woke up! I was so worried you wouldn't wake up again.....thank god you're fine....” Jing He buried her head in his shoulder while crying, she shouted her first words, but her voice gave way to silent sobs towards the end of her sentence.

    Seeing her crying into his shoulder, with tears and dirt all over her robe, and noticing that all his wounds were healed, Huang Ying's heart couldn't help but ache a bit.

    “Ah, I made worried didn't I? I also made you work hard, sorry Little He.” He raised his arm and pat her on the head before wiping her tears and giving her a gentle smile.

    “It's no problem, it's all fine as long as you are okay.” Jing He rested her face in his hand, relishing in the warmth while giving a smile.

    “Right, I forgot to give it to you since we left town in a hurry, but I guess better late than never.” Huang Ying rubbed his interspatial ring and took out a small hairpin in the shape of a yellow lotus flower before fastening it in her hair on the opposite side of her plum flower hairpin. “There we go, that looks better.”

    “Thank you brother Ying!” Jing He played with the hairpin while giving Huang Ying a brilliant smile.

    “How long have I been out? And do you know where we are?” Huang Ying shifted the discussion over to more pressing matters, even though they managed to escape from their pursuer, being in The wilderness was just as dangerous.

    The Wilderness was just as old as civilization itself on this continent, and even to this day it has never been fully explored. It is filled with dangerous Demonic beasts and there are even legends that say that some Desolate and Celestial beasts have made this forest their home. Running into any of those beasts would leave them with no chance to survive.

    Once a Demonic beast reaches a certain level of power, it can evolve and go one step further, becoming either an evil Desolate beast or a lone and neutral Celestial beast. Legend has it that they can even evolve further after reaching this stage, but no such beasts have been recorded on the Green Willows continent.

    “You have been unconscious for a little over 3 days, this is a small cave about five hours from where we entered the forest. There is a little lake a little walk away from here if you want to take a bath.” Jing He counted on her fingers for a bit before speaking and pointing to the outside of the cave, subtly implying that he didn't smell too good.

    “Alright alright, I get it. Here, you should put on some new clothes while i'm gone.” Huang Ying nodded his head before rummaging through his interspatial ring and fishing out a new pink robe that they had bought in Yellow Winds Town.

    After leaving the cave and walking straight ahead for a few minutes Huang Ying found the little lake and quickly threw away his tattered clothes before hoping into the water and cleaning away all the dirt and blood that had accumulated on his body. The sky was dark, but the little lake was lit up by a mixture of moonlight and fireflies. A young boy with a slim body, but well defined muscles bathing in a lake lit up by moonlight and fireflies made for a picturesque scene, but Huang Ying didn't dare lower his guard one bit. No matter how good the place looked, it was still located in The Wilderness, so it was hard to tell when he would ambushed and attacked by beasts.

    After finishing a quick bath he put on a new azure robe and took a deep breath, enjoying the clean feeling for a second before making his way back to the cave. After returning to the cave, he made up a small fire and took out some of the food they had stocked up on in Yellow Winds Town and had a small meal before starting to think about what their next course of action would be.

    “Ah, young lady, finally we found you. Young master Qiao will be so happy once you come back.” Just as they were about to discuss what to do, an aged voice rang out from outside the cave.

    Huang Ying was shocked that someone managed to get so close to the cave and find them without them noticing, but he was still quick to react. Noticing that whoever was out there didn't emit any killing intent, he stored his sword in his interspatial ring and slowly made his way out of the cave with the now pale Jing He.

    Outside the cave were two swarthy old men, faces covered in wrinkles and a head that only had a few tufts of white hair left, they looked almost identical, the only thing distinguishing them from one another was that one of them had a large scar that looked like a centipede across his entire face. Upon seeing Jing He the two old men started beaming with smiles, apparently overjoyed.

    “Can I help you two seniors?” Huang Ying spoke politely, he couldn't feel any energy fluctuations from the two old men, but he didn't believe that two men who could locate them and even sneak up on them like that were normal, so he reasoned that he simply couldn't feel any energy from them because they were much stronger than him.

    “Oh? I don't believe I gave you the right to talk did I?” The old man with the scar spoke and next thing Huang Ying knew he felt like someone had hit him in the chest with a sledgehammer as he stumbled back several steps before vomiting out a mouthful of fresh blood.

    “Brother Ying!” Jing He worriedly ran over to her, but was stopped halfway by the other old man.

    “Oh? Such a strong body despite only being 14? You seem to have rather decent talent don't you?” The scarred old man spoke with a snicker.

    “Let's go little miss, Young master Qiao has been worried sick about you.” The other old man spoke as he grabbed Jing He's arm.

    “No, uncle Wen, please don't make me go back, I don't want to go back.” Jing He spoke in panic and tried to struggle free.

    “Im sorry little miss, but you know I can't do that, I have to bring you back to the Jing clan, young master Qiao has missed you terribly.” The old man spoke what sounded like an apology, but his voice was completely emotionless.

    “Oy, fuckface, didn't you hear her? She doesn't want to go.” Huang Ying swallowed down some blood and brought out his sword from his interspatial ring while glaring at the old man.

    “No, brother Ying don't...” Before Jing He managed to finish her sentence the scarred old man interrupted her.

    “Truly, a newborn calf doesn't fear the tiger. Who do you think you are to interfere in the business of my Jing clan?” The scarred old man waved his hand and Huang Ying felt his entire chest cave in as an invisible force hit him square in the chest and on his right arm, breaking most of his ribs and bending his right arm into an unnatural curve.

    Huang Ying flew backwards through the air before falling face first down onto the ground vomiting blood and dry heaving.

    “No! Stop. I'll go with you uncle Wen and uncle Feng, so please, just let him go.” Jing He begged the two old men with tears in her eyes.

    “Hear that little boy, since the little miss has already begged us on your behalf, we will let you go so be thankful.” The scarred old man spoke to Huang Ying with a sneer before turning away and heading over to the other old man.

    “Im sorry brother Ying, I have to go, but don't worry, little He will never forget your kindness, so you can't forget little He.” Jing He smiled at Huang Ying while crying. After a bit of thought she took the plum flower hairpin out from her hair and tossed it at Huang Ying. “You can keep that so that you won't forget little He. Goodbye brother Ying.”

    Huang Ying could do nothing but lay there and watch as the two men grabbed Jing He and started soaring into the sky before disappearing.

    “Jing. Clan!” Huang Ying spoke the words through gritted teeth, feeling a burning fire in his chest, all he felt right now was hatred for the Jing clan, hatred so high it made him want to eat their flesh and drink their blood. But at the same time he also felt powerlessness, he truly felt powerless. Even if the entire Jing clan was in front of him now, there would be nothing he could do. He was weak, far too weak to do anything, not even his own life was in his hands. He had never felt this powerless before, not even during those six years in the dungeon or while being chased out off Yellow Winds Town did he feel this powerless. This was also the first time he truly craved power, he felt a bottomless thirst for power right now. He thirsted for power, power to control his own life, power to not be stepped upon by others and protect that warmth. With that thirst in his stomach and the fires of rage in his heart he cast his gaze into the depths of The Wilderness as he gritted his teeth.
  • Chapter 22: The Grand Feast Begins.

    Huang Ying gritted his teeth as he picked up his sword and stood up, before he started walking stumblingly towards the depths of the forest, a mad glint in his eyes.

    He was covered in blood and could barely walk but his mind was frightfully clear. He knew that he was weak, he might be invincible in a tiny town like Azure Springs, but even in a medium town like Yellow Winds there were several people stronger than him. He needed to become stronger, stronger than anyone, and he had to do it faster than anyone else as well. Normal cultivation required years of accumulation, slowly increasing the amount of Qi that the body could handle, before slowly increasing the amount stored.

    But that was too slow, Huang Ying couldn't allow himself to move that slow, so he had to use other means than the standard slow accumulation, means available only to him, Devouring Qi.

    This was The Wilderness, a place filled with wild beasts and Demonic beasts, there was no better place on this continent for him to quickly accumulate strength, if he was lucky he might even be able to find beasts containing traces of Ancient beast blood or blood of a higher grade, allowing himself to strengthen his own bloodline or the bloodline of the white tiger flowing in his veins.

    He had a mad thirst for power right now, but he hadn't lost all reason, he still knew exactly where the limits of his power lay, he would at most be able to handle a Demonic beast of the 6th grade, 7th grade if it was a weaker one.

    Demonic beasts were graded much like cultivators, a demonic beast of the 6th grade would be about as strong as a cultivator at the 6th heaven if it was a normal beast, 7th heaven if it was a stronger beast. If it had a special bloodline it might even be a match for a cultivator of an even higher stage.

    Huang Ying dragged his half broken body through the forest for a short while before he came back to the little lake where he cleaned himself and found a pair of wolves drinking from it. Seeing the two wolves a mad grin crept up on Huang Ying's face, the first step to increasing his strength was to repair his body, and these wolves were just what he needed.

    He staggered towards the wolves as he brandished his sword, the Tear Of Ice. The two wolves, smelling the scent of blood and noticing that someone was approaching turned around and found a young boy covered in blood staggering towards them. Thinking they had found an easy meal they both lunged forward with open maws.

    Huang Ying simply raised his left arm, allowing the first wolf to clamp down on it while simultaneously raising the sword in his right hand and delivering a swift stab straight into the maw of the other wolf, killing it in one strike. Before the other wolf could let go of his left arm, he pulled out the sword and swiftly cut of the head biting down on his arm.

    With both the wolves dead, Huang Ying proceeded to absorb everything but their fur and skin, leaving behind two empty skins. Giving his newly repaired body a few stretches to make sure there was nothing wrong, he proceeded to head deeper into the forest.

    The outer perimeter of The Wilderness, due to the thinness of natural energy, was the home of normal beasts, but this are was only 300 km in depth, deeper than this and Demonic beasts would start appearing and the thickness of the natural energy would increase.

    Huang Ying quickly made his way through the outer perimeter, since there were only normal beasts, he didn't even bother devouring them if he didn't need to repair his body, there was simply no point.

    Standing at the edge of the area he assumed to be the entrance to the middle perimeter, Huang Ying took a quick break to bring his condition back to the peak. He planned to travel through the middle perimeter slowly, finding places to rest while scouring the area for Demonic beasts, only moving on if the area was devoid of Demonic beasts or the Demonic beasts were too weak to give him any proper increase in strength.

    Walking deeper into the middle perimeter, the first thing Huang Ying did was find a place he could use as a temporary camp. After searching around for about an hour he managed to find a suitably large hill where he could carve out a small cave. After carving out a small cave and clearing out any normal beasts in the area, he lit a small fire and had a small meal. Looking at the suns position, he reasoned that it should still be rather early in the afternoon, so he decided to simply start hunting immediately.

    After wandering the area around the cave for about two hours and not stumbling on any Demonic beasts, Huang Ying started wondering if he had made a mistake and not actually entered the middle perimeter yet. His thoughts quickly changed as he spotted something a small distance away from him. From where he stood, it looked like a long red line, but upon focusing on it, Huang Ying found that it was a line of Blood Ants, making him pleasantly surprised.

    Blood Ants were large ants, reaching almost half a meter in length and covered in a crimson carapace, giving them the name Blood Ants. A Blood Ant was barely a 1st grade Demonic beast, so if it was just one Huang Ying might have just ignored it. But Blood Ants always traveled in large groups, they even lived in large hives. A normal hive might contain up to 1000 1st grade Blood Ants, led by a 3rd Grade Blood Ant Queen who is protected by 2nd grade Blood Ant Knights.

    A sinister grin formed on Huang Ying's face as he dashed towards the Blood Ants, attracting their attention and prompting them to charge at him. Facing over 100 Blood Ants, even though they were just at the 1st grade, Huang Ying dared not show any negligence, he manifested his Baku immediately and allowed the three meter long black serpent to join him in his massacre.

    After a short tens of minutes, the Blood Ants were massacred and Huang Ying drenched in their bodily fluids with a grin on his face. This was truly a nice harvest he thought. Even though the Blood Ants were just 1st grade Demonic beasts, since there was over 100 of them gathered here, it allowed the Qi lake in his dantian to grow by five kilometers, bringing it up to a sizable lake at 54 kilometers across.

    Another benefit he had gotten was that he had searched through what little memories the Blood Ants had to discover the location of their hive, it was located a mere 15 kilometers from where he was standing. It was also the reason why there were no other Demonic beast in the area around the cave, Demonic beasts were often very territorial, especially the stronger ones.

    Shifting his gaze towards the location of the Blood Ant nest, the grin on Huang Ying's face slowly got wider. Even though the Blood Ants he had killed were too low in intelligence to remember much, all Demonic beasts like to harvest and stockpile herbs and other treasures, so the Blood Ant hive would be a treasure chest to him. With this in mind he started making his way towards the hive.
  • Chapter 23: Blood Ant Hive.

    From the outside, the entrance to the Blood Ant hive simply looked like a cave leading into the depths of a hill, but Huang Ying knew that the inside would be a veritable maze of tunnels and passages.

    Huang Ying tightened his grip on his sword and headed into the entrance, going deeper into the Blood Ant hive. He had a rough grasp on how the tunnels leading from the entrance to the main cave were placed, but being on full alert would never hurt.

    He quickly made his way through the tunnels, killing any Blood Ant that he came across, but not going out of his way to hunt them down. Blood ants were Demonic beasts with low intelligence, even the Blood Ant Queen had limited intelligence. He knew that once he started the massacre in the main cave, the Queen would send out a signal, calling all Blood Ants to the main cave, saving him the trouble of hunting them all down.

    After walking through interweaving tunnels for almost an hour, Huang Ying came to a large cave. The walls of the cave were lined with smaller chambers filled with large amounts of round and white sacs, Blood Ant eggs. There were almost a hundred of these side chambers, each chamber filled with what seemed to be close to 50 egg sacs.

    The main cave itself was almost 3000 meters in width, 1000 meters in length and height, almost seemingly like an inverted mountain. At the far end of the cave was a massive indent in the cave wall, almost seeming like a massive room. In the room was a Blood Ant that was much larger than the rest, almost reaching five meters in length, with a massive meat sac attached to it's rear end that made up almost 1/3 of it's length, the Blood Ant Queen.

    Standing in front of the Queen were slightly smaller Blood Ants, reaching two meters in length, with thick, sturdy carapaces and large jagged jaws, almost reaching a meter in size, Blood Ant Knights.

    Other than these higher tier Blood Ants, the cave itself was filled with almost 300 Blood Ants, some delivering food, some taking care of the eggs or young ones, the rest of the Blood Ants were most likely either outside the hive or spread throughout the tunnel. Tigthly gripping his sword Huang Ying licked his lips as he strode into the cave, his Baku slithering next to him.

    Normal cultivators, unless they were overwhelmingly confident in their own power would dread going up against large groups of enemies like these, even if they were weaker. This was simply because even if you were much stronger than your enemies, if they came at you in large numbers, wounds would slowly add up and mix together with your exhaustion, slowly weakening you.

    Huang Ying had no fear of this as he could simply refill his energy and repair his wounds using the energy he devours from his enemies, group fights could even be called his forte. If he wanted to take it slower he wouldn't even need to move himself, none of these Blood Ants, not even the Queen exceeded the 3rd grade, they were simply too weak. His Baku alone would be enough to kill every Blood Ant in this hive, all he would have to do was guard the exit and let no one escape. The only reason he decided to join in the fray was because as he was fighting the first group of Blood Ants he found that he had quite a liking for a fight like that.

    Brandishing his sword with a mad grin, Huang Ying threw himself into the group of Blood Ants, letting his Baku devour freely at the same time. Just like he had expected, the Queen quickly sounded the signal to gather all the Blood Ants and Blood Ants started to quickly swarm into the cave, piling on top of each other. Huang Ying slashed his sword around in a frenzy, letting his Devouring Qi flow with it, devouring and absorbing the Blood Ants the moment they touched the blade, not even leaving behind a body.

    Qi constantly coursed through his body, repairing wounded parts and filling up his Qi lake. The Blood Ant Knights quickly joined in on the fray, trying to use their large pincers to slice of his limbs, but they simply met the same end as the normal Blood Ants, death by devouring.

    After over an hour of reckless fighting, the cave was devoid of any Blood Ants, not even the Queen managed to escape. Huang Ying swept his gaze around the room for a little while before sending his Baku to devour all the white egg sacs. Each egg sac was filled with natural energy to incubate the young ones, there was no way Huang Ying would let all this energy go to waste.

    After giving his Baku the order, Huang Ying himself headed towards a small side cave located in the back of the room that belonged to the Queen, he could smell the scent of herbs coming from it, so he assumed it to be the Queen's treasure chamber.

    Arriving in the chamber proved Huang Ying correct, it was indeed the Queen's treasure chamber, but seeing the assortment of treasure Huang Ying couldn't help but be a little disappointed. The chamber was almost barren, save for a few weapons and herbs.

    The herbs were something that looked like a large piece of bamboo and a type of red mushroom, both emitting low amounts of energy, so Huang Ying stored them in his interspatial ring. Most herbs were poisonous in their natural state and needed to be processed before being consumed to be safe. Huang Ying could simply absorb them using his devouring power to simply get the energy, but he would rather save them for the future, he could then either learn to concoct pills himself or give them to an alchemist to turn into pills, at that point they would have differing and most likely better effects for him.

    The weapons were mostly some rusted armor and different types of spears, swords, and sabers, but their conditions were so bad that it would simply be pointless to bring them along. The only weapon he found that was usable was a longbow. The bow was made out of a strange type of green metal that gave of a slight warmth, making it pleasant to the touch. The body of the bow was engraved with strange runes and patterns that resembled a bird of prey in flight and the bowstring was made from the tendon of some creature. Besides the runes and patterns the body of the bow was undercoated and simply in design. Next to the bow were what seemed to be the remains of a quiver and a couple of arrows, but since the arrows were made of normal materials, most of them had rusted or otherwise deteriorated, leaving only six arrows that were useable.

    Storing the bow and the arrows into his interspatial ring, Huang Ying spotted a strange ore lying on the ground not far away. The ore was completely round and looked like a stone with a large crack going around it. What caught Huang Ying's attention was that a purplish-white light reflected out from the crack when the light of the cave hit it. Picking up the ore Huang Ying found that it was strangely cool to the touch. The inside of the ore was filled with a cluster of purplish-white crystals that reflected the light of the cave. Feeling the strangeness of the ore, Huang Ying decided to store it as well to save for future use.

    Leaving the Blood Ant Hive with two new herbs, a strange ore, a new bow and a Qi lake that had reached 73 kilometers across put Huang Ying in a good mood, now it was time to return to the cave and rest for the night before moving deeper into The Wilderness. This entire area around the cave was under the control of this Blood Ant hive, so there would not be any other Demonic beast in the near area, so his best choice was simply to move on.
  • Chapter 24: Heaven's Eye Mushroom.

    Huang Ying was crouched on a branch, concealing his body in the leaves. His once azure robe was now completely torn and dirtied, revealing his toned muscles. His hair was disheveled and dirty, hanging over his face. In his hand was a simple green longbow, nocked with an arrow.

    Huang Ying had already been in The Wilderness for almost a month, slowly making his way through the middle perimeter. The constant fighting and vigilance, coupled with his torn clothes and disheveled hair had removed the scholarly air and elegance he once portrayed, leaving him looking more like a barbarian.

    All his focus was placed on the bow and arrow in his hands, Ice Qi flowing from his hand and into the arrow, reinforcing and empowering it. As Huang Ying started hunting in the deeper parts of the middle perimeter, he could no longer just run in and slaughter anything he found, he had to be more patient and careful.

    The transferring of Ice Qi into the arrow was something he started practicing after entering the area in the middle perimeter where 4th grade Demonic beasts were lurking. To break through to the 8th heaven from the 7th heaven didn't require one to gather more Qi into the body, it only required one to let their Qi leave their body and interact with the Natural Energy around them.

    This was usually done by letting the Qi leave the meridians and slowly circulate it through ones flesh and blood, slowly strengthening it so that it would not burst when you circulated large amounts of Qi through it. After your body had reached a sufficient level of power, you would let your Qi flow out through your skin and have it take control of the surrounding Natural Energy, manifesting your element in the surrounding environment.

    Thanks to Huang Ying using his Devouring Qi to absorb the bodies of countless Demonic beasts, humans, and even an old white tiger, his flesh and blood was stronger than his Qi, so he would not have to worry about his flesh bursting from large amounts of Qi circulating through it. If he managed to grasp how to let his Qi leave his body and interact with the world around him now, he could immediately break through to the 8th heaven once he reached the 7th heaven.

    Huang Ying held his breath as he focused his eyes and steadied the bow in his hands. The nocked arrow had absorb so much Ice Qi that it had turned a crystalline blue, looking like an arrow of ice. He silently counted to three in his heart before letting go of the bowstring. The crystalline arrow flew out like an icy meteor. The moment the arrow left the bow, Huang Ying stored the bow back into his interspatial ring and pulled out his sword, before gathering strength in his legs and shooting out from behind the leaves like a blur.

    The arrow flew downwards towards a cave opening located on the foot of a small, barren mountain and Huang Ying followed closely behind it, gaining in speed as gravity took hold of his body. Just as the arrow reached the top of the cave entrance, a massive head came out of the cave entrance.

    The head alone was almost five meters long and as wide as a grown man was tall. The head was covered in brown scales and adorned by a single spiraling horn placed right between the eyes. The mouth of the beast wasn't filled with teeth, rather it was like it's entire maw was simply two large teeth, designed to crush it's food into paste before swallowing it. As it opened it's mouth and sent out it's tongue, one could see that the tip of the bright green tongue was in the shape of a serpent's head.

    Before the beast had time to react, the crystalline arrow hit it square on the head and exploded in a shower of ice crystals and frozen chunks of flesh and blood. The beast released a roar that sounded like the bellow of an angry ox, but before it managed to raise it's head to check who had attacked it, Huang Ying landed right next to the wound that the arrow had blasted. He gripped his sword with both hands and circulated his Devouring Qi at max speed into the sword before driving it into the beasts head through the wound and straight into the beasts head, ravaging it's brain with the Devouring Qi.

    The beast let out one last bellow before it's eyes dimmed and lost all focus and the beast fell to forward the ground, making the ground around it tremble. As the beast fell forward, the rest of it's body came out of the cave as well. The massive head was attached to a long serpentine neck which connected the head to a large and bulky body covered in a turtle shell, making the beast look like a massive brown turtle.

    This particular beast was a Demonic beast Huang Ying had been following for the past few days, it was merely at the peak of the 5th grade, but it had a cowardly nature, so whenever it met an enemy stronger than it, it would hide within it's shell, giving Huang Ying no chance at injuring it. Since this beast was the leader and also the strongest beast in this part of the 5th grade beast are, the entire area surrounding it's cave was devoid of other Demonic beasts, allowing Huang Ying to quietly stalk it for a few days to learn it's most common habits and find the best moment to strike.

    Huang Ying hopped down from the beasts head before storing away the blade and allowing his Devouring Qi to run rampant through it's body, only leaving behind it's scales and shell.

    Looking at the shattered remains of the arrow, Huang Ying couldn't help but let a sigh escape his mouth. When he first found the bow, he had only found six useable arrows alongside it, but as the strength of the Demonic beasts increased, so did the amount of Qi he needed to insert into the arrow to penetrate their defenses, which would quickly make the arrows explode due to a Qi overload. As it stood now, he only had two arrows left he could use, and only one of those hadn't had any Qi inserted into it yet.

    After he finished devouring the energy in the large turtle he checked on his Qi lake and a faint smile appeared on his lips. After slaughtering his way through the middle perimeter, killing every Demonic beast he could find from the 1st grade to the 5th grade. Along with the supplement of some herbs that he had found in the Demonic beasts lairs, his Qi lake had already turned into a Qi ocean spanning over 21 thousand kilometers across. The 1st grade Demonic beasts could barely let him increase the size, but once he started to devour 4th and 5th grade Demonic beasts, the speed at which it grew increased drastically.

    The next thing Huang Ying was planning to do was empty out the lair of this Demonic beast before heading into the area where the 6th grade Demonic beasts resided. Once there he would let his Qi ocean grow slightly larger, before taking on the leader of that area, a Cloud Tiger he had seen roam through the area of the 5th grade Demonic beasts. Then he would form his Qi crystal and break into the 7th heaven before swiftly breaking into the 8th heaven.

    After that it would be time to return to Yellow Winds Town. He didn't know how the people from the Jing clan found him and Jing He, but he was certain that it must have had something to do with the city lord and the patriarchs. And Huang Ying was not content with letting such a resentment lie, he would settled it as soon as he was able to.

    Heading into the cave that belonged to the turtle Demonic beast, Huang Ying followed a route he had already mapped out. He had been stalking this turtle beast for several days already, and had even been in it's treasure chamber already. The only reason he didn't empty it out back then was because he didn't want to make the turtle beast grow suspicious.

    Entering the treasure chamber, Huang Ying simply swept his gaze across the room once to make sure that there was nothing new or missing before storing it all in his interspatial ring. There was only one item he didn't store into his ring, a strange mushroom. The mushroom was entirely blue in color, except for on the top where there was a strange white circle with a black dot in the center.

    This appearance had given the mushroom the name, Heaven's Eye Mushroom and it was also one of the most well known supplements on the continent. It was one of the most well known herbs, but also one of the most difficult to find. Not only was it rare, it also only grew in places that had thick Natural Energy and was filled with corpses that contained thick Qi. Due to this it only grew on certain battlegrounds, burial grounds or in natural forests filled with Demonic beasts.

    The mushroom couldn't be made into a pill, it had to be eaten whole, and it had only one effect. Once eaten, the energy in the mushroom would rush straight to the eyes, filling them with it's energy, increasing their vision and giving them the ability to see the flow of energy in the surroundings. If one continued to increase the strength of ones eyes, it is also said that one would be able to see the energy in other peoples bodies.

    Being able to see the flow of the Natural Energy in the surroundings would make it easier to judge other peoples power, find natural treasures in the wild, and even help find Demonic beasts by using the energy they naturally emitted.

    Huang Ying grabbed the mushroom and ate it in a few bites, resisting the urge to vomit from the bad taste. What followed was a warm flow of energy flowing from his stomach up through his body and into his eyes. Once the warm energy reached his eyes, it turned scorching, making it seem like someone had stabbed him in the eyes with a red hot needle.

    Gritting his teeth through the pain, the pain continued for almost an entire minute before black blood started flowing from the corners of Huang Ying's eyes. After the black blood flowed out of his eyes, the world in front of him quickly became clearer. Accompanying the normal colors of the world were streams of energy that looked like colored strings of silk flowing along with the wind, this was the Natural Energy in the world, each color was a different element.

    Seeing that the mushroom had indeed improved his vision and allowed him to see the flowing Energy in the surroundings, Huang Ying couldn't help but grin for a second before leaving the cave. It was time to head into the 6th grade Demonic beast area and finish his grand feast.
  • Chapter 25: 6th grade Cloud Tiger.

    The part of the middle perimeter that belonged to the 6th grade Demonic beasts, was slightly different from the other parts in the middle perimeter. This area was divided into three further areas.

    The outer area was the area with where most of the other 6th grade Demonic beasts resided. The middle area was the home of tiger based Demonic beasts that shared blood ties with the Cloud Tiger. The inner area only held a single Demonic beast, the Cloud Tiger itself.

    Huang Ying would first have to make his way through the outer are before he could enter the middle area to start the search for the Cloud Tiger.

    The Cloud Tiger was a very territorial Demonic beast, so it would not allow any other Demonic beasts to reside in the inner area, not even it's own children and their mothers could reside there.

    Therefore, a territorial Demonic beast like the Cloud Tiger would often leave it's own home to head to the areas containing it's children and the other females in it's flock.

    The 6th grade Demonic beasts area differed from the earlier parts of the middle perimeter. While the earlier areas of the middle perimeter were either barren or mountainous, resembling a stone forest. This part of the middle perimeter was a forest like region where the tree crowns blotted out almost all the light from the sun.

    Huang Ying slowly made his way through the area by utilizing the densely packed tree tops for cover. 6th grade Demonic beasts were different from 4th and 5th grade Demonic beasts. Huang Ying's Qi ocean may be larger than usual, but Demonic beasts of the 6th grade were still Demonic beasts whose grade were the same as his.

    His bodily strength was approaching the realm of Demonic beasts, but this was after all still only 'approaching', it was still not quite as strong, so he held no advantage over them.

    Huang Ying didn't dare to recklessly start a fight or wander randomly in this area, so he had to make sure to keep his Energy vision active at all times while also using his Breeze Steps to remove his presence. If he accidentally got into a prolonged fight in this area, there was no telling how many 6th grade Demonic beasts would be attracted to it.

    He could devour Demonic beasts to strengthen himself, humans could use the flesh and cores of Demonic beasts in alchemy or crafting to strengthen themselves, and Demonic beasts could likewise consume human cultivators to shorten their own training time.

    The forest was dark but in Huang Ying's energy vision, the darkness was broken through by a rainbow of colored silk, flowing freely through all things, even the trees couldn't stop the silk from flowing through it.

    Huang Ying had spent almost a month rushing through the five earlier areas of the middle perimeter, slaughtering countless Demonic beasts. But after entering the 6th grade area, he had only killed four Demonic beasts, and he was still only halfway through the middle area of the 6th grade area. If he wasn't sure that he could kill the Demonic beast within one minute, he would simply give up and ignore the Demonic beast.

    One minute was approximately the time it would take for the other Demonic beasts to notice that something was going on, it would then take them anything from half a minute to three minutes to reach the area, depending on their distance and max speed.

    Huang Ying had no interest in gambling on the idea that he could finish absorbing, retreat, and hide himself within the time it took for the first other Demonic beast to arrive. He only had one life, and he had no interest in losing it in such a pointless fashion.

    Using his energy vision as he made his way through the middle area, he found an energy signature he hadn't seen yet, a silver thread of energy dancing in the wind. Seeing the energy signature, Huang Ying was now certain that he was on the right track, silver colored energy was the mark of low-grade ice energy, and the Cloud Tiger was a Demonic beast that used low-grade Ice Qi.

    After slowly following the energy signature for almost fifteen minutes, he finally came upon the the Cloud Tiger lumbering deeper into the forest, towards the inner area.

    The Cloud Tiger was two meters in height and close to four meters in length, smaller than even the head of the massive turtle he had fought two weeks prior, but Huang Ying could see the explosive power hidden in the Cloud Tiger's muscles. Cloud Tigers were famed for their explosive bursts of speed and strength and were dreaded by caravans and traveling cultivators who were trying to rest at night.

    Cloud Tigers are pitch black in color, their fur seemingly absorbing light. Instead of stripes, a Cloud Tiger had silver clouds imprinted on their fur, their color growing clearer and stronger with every evolution. These clouds were the only way to see Cloud Tigers in the dark, even the Cloud Tigers eyes and claws were dark in color, their eyes brown and their claws black.

    Huang Ying reduced his breathing to it's lowest, and furiously circulated his Breeze Steps, there was no room for mistakes at this point, if he got discovered before the Cloud Tiger made it to the inner area, he would get swarmed by Demonic beasts, and at that point escape would be close to impossible.

    The silent stalking continued for close to a day before the Cloud Tiger finally entered the inner area. Huang Ying continued to closely follow it, but he had already fished out his last two arrows from his interspatial ring. The inner area was different from the thick forest of the middle and outer area.

    In the inner area, the trees were packed more sparsely, giving the Cloud Tiger more room for movement. In the middle of the inner area, at the place where the Cloud Tiger had made it's home, was a crystal clear lake with a large weeping willow right next to it. The lack of other Demonic beasts gave the area a charming silence, making it seem like an immortal paradise.

    Huang Ying was sitting in a tree not far from the lake and watched as the Cloud Tiger walked up to the lake and drank a bit before lying down, seemingly resting. Huang Ying grabbed the two arrows and started infusing them with his Devouring Qi. The Cloud Tiger before him was a Demonic beast that used the Ice element, even though his own Ice Qi was of a higher tier, it's effect would still be limited. He also couldn't contest with it's explosive bursts of power, so Huang Ying had already made up a battle plan. He would rely on his Devouring Qi to drain it's strength with each clash, keeping himself at full power while slowly weakening the Cloud Tiger, minimizing the risk of it escaping.

    He finished charging the two arrows with Devouring Qi, making them look like solidified black smoke. He silently raised the bow and loaded the arrow, keeping the second one in his other hand, ready to be fired immediately afterwards. Cloud Tigers had excellent instincts for danger, so it would most likely notice not long after he fired the arrow, so he had to be quick about it.

    Huang Ying narrowed his eyes as he took aim and quietly fired the first arrow, before quickly following up with the second. The arrows flew through the air like indistinct black blurs and Huang Ying charged out from cover right after them, blade in hand.

    Just as he expected, the Cloud Tiger noticed the arrows almost immediately, and even though it was surprised that something would dare attack it, it still reacted quickly and hurriedly jumped to the side. It managed to dodge the first arrow, but the second arrow had a slight deviation in it's path, hitting the Cloud Tiger in the upper part of it's hind leg, next to it's tail.

    The arrow didn't explode like the arrows charged with Ice Qi, the Devouring Qi simply drained off of the arrow and into the wound, turning into a small black Baku that simply sat there and slowly but continuously drained the Cloud Tiger's strength.

    The Cloud Tiger stared at Huang Ying with rage in it's eyes, a mere human savage had dared enter it's territory and even sneak attack it? When had it ever suffered such humiliation?

    The Cloud Tiger let loose a furious roar as it slightly bent it's legs, before shooting at Huang Ying like a cannonball.

    Huang Ying had been prepared for the explosive speed that the Cloud Tiger possessed, but seeing it shooting at him, he couldn't help but think that he had still underestimated it.

    Putting all his strength into his legs, Huang Ying shot of to the side like a blur while circulating his Devouring Qi into the blade in his right hand and slashing out. He managed to dodge the Cloud Tigers front claws and even left behind a wound on it's stomach, but even then the Cloud Tiger's hind claws still managed to cut open his left shoulder, leaving behind three deep gashes.

    The Devouring Qi festering inside the Cloud Tiger's wounds kept sending it's energy to Huang Ying, but even then it would still take time to heal the wounds. Using the energy to stop the bleeding was already the best he could do at the moment.

    Huang Ying stared at the Cloud Tiger that had landed a bit away from him, it was currently looking at the small wound on it's stomach, apparently shocked that it would get hurt by this human savage once more.

    The shock quickly gave way to anger as the Cloud Tiger felt humiliated, this human savage before it didn't even seem to cultivate, yet it could harm it twice and even dodge it's attack, was this not a humiliation?

    The Cloud Tiger roared in rage, and following it's roar, the temperature in the area started dropping as the water surface of the lake next to them started to slowly freeze over.

    The Cloud Tiger charged at Huang Ying again, but this time it was obviously slower than last time, it had to charge it's Qi for a little while before it could release it's explosive speed again.

    It tried to swipe at Huang Ying with it's claws, but as long as it's attacks didn't reach it's earlier speed, Huang Ying was confident that he could dodge the most dangerous parts of the attacks.

    Instead of dodging backwards, Huang Ying stepped forward, stabbing his blade towards the throat of the Cloud Tiger. The Cloud Tiger was enraged, but it still had it's limited intelligence, it knew that if that blade hit it's throat, death would follow shortly after. Shifting it's entire body to the side, it managed to make the blade miss it's throat, lodging itself into it's shoulder instead. By shifting it's entire body sideways, it also managed to hit Huang Ying with it's swipe, it just didn't manage to hit him with it's claws.

    His shoulder getting hit by the swipe, even though he managed to dodge the claws and force the Cloud Tiger to expend energy on shifting it's entire body, Huang Ying still felt that his shoulder just barely managed to withstand that blow, sending him soaring sideways through the air, blade still stuck in the Cloud Tiger's shoulder.

    The Cloud Tiger now had three wounds that were festering with Devouring Qi, sending an increasingly large amount of energy from it's body to Huang Ying. Feeling the energy leaving it's body and seeing Huang Ying stand up even after getting hit by it's swipe, the Cloud Tiger stopped roaring in rage, but rather gave a low growl instead. It had to accept that the enemy before it was capable of hurting and maybe even killing it.

    Looking at the Cloud Tiger staring him down in rage, Huang Ying felt an unprecedented will to fight growing in his heart, like it was yearning for a proper fight. Every fight he had before this was either him getting trampled on or him trampling on someone. He had never had a proper hearty fight against someone at his level of strength, it gave him an almost euphoric feeling.

    Just as he gave the Cloud Tiger a grin, he noticed that the silver color from the cloud patterns on it's body started spreading across it's body, dying it's fur a shade of silver.

    “Oh? What's this?” Seeing the strange phenomena, Huang Ying couldn't help but exclaim.

  • Chapter 26: Bloodline limit.

    Seeing the silver color spread across the Cloud Tiger's fur, Huang Ying couldn't help but be taken aback. What's this? He had never seen something like this happen in any of the Demonic beasts he had slain so far.

    The blood red color spreading through the Cloud Tiger's eyes showed that it was infuriated, but Huang Ying had seen plenty of enraged Demonic beasts earlier, and none of them had manifested something like this before.

    Huang Ying gave the Cloud Tiger a grin and licked his lips, no matter what sort of strange phenomena it manifested he had already decided to have a hearty fight with it and kill it.

    The now silver Cloud Tiger gave a loud roar that echoed through the area. As the sound of it's roar faded, it charged at Huang Ying again, swiping it's claws at him.

    Huang Ying was just about to dodge the claws and step inwards to grab his blade out of it's shoulder when his expression suddenly changed and he started retreating at max speed.

    Right after his foot left the ground and he dodged backwards, the ground where he previously stood exploded, large spikes of ice shooting out of the ground and into the air, hovering in front of the Cloud Tiger.

    Huang Ying had a grave expression as he activated his energy vision, and just as he feared, the previously rainbow colored strands of silk representing the surrounding Natural Energy had at some point started turning a dull silver.

    Turning the surrounding Natural Energy into one's own element and controlling it was an ability that only cultivators at the 8th heaven or Demonic beasts of the 8th grade should have. No matter how he looked at it, this Cloud Tiger was only a Demonic beast of the 6th grade, so it was not supposed to possess that ability yet.

    The only explanation Huang Ying could come up with was that it had something to do with the change the Cloud Tiger went through as it became silver.

    “Seems like you have a lot of secrets. Guess I have something else to look forward to later on as I go through your memories.” Even though the Cloud Tiger's ability to manifest it's element in the outside world like that shocked Huang Ying, he had noticed that ever since it turned silver, the amount of energy it was expanding sky rocketed. If he managed to hold out long enough, the Cloud Tiger should enter a weakened state, at that point there would be nothing it could do.

    Huang Ying kept his energy vision active, it would be easier to know where it's unseen attacks would come from if he knew where the Natural Energy gathered, and charged towards the Cloud Tiger. Retrieving his sword would be his current objective, harming the Cloud Tiger without it would be close to impossible.

    Seeing Huang Ying charge at it, the Cloud Tiger let loose a low growl and the hovering ice spikes seemed to have gotten an order as they straightened themselves out and charged at Huang Ying.

    Gathering his own Ice Qi in the palms of his hands, Huang Ying dodged the first two ice spikes by shifting his body sideways, allowing them to brush past his chest. Pushing out with his two hands, he deflected the last two ice spikes to the sides and quickly ducked his entire body downwards into an almost crouching position, dodging the Cloud Tiger's swipe.

    Gathering all the Ice Qi at the soles of his feet, he braced for impact and just as a new ice spike broke through the ground beneath him, he used it as a springboard to gain momentum, jumping off it as it broke through the ground and flying past the head of the Cloud Tiger. He grabbed the handle of the sword and pulled it out of the Cloud Tiger's shoulder, leaving behind a large cut on it's back at the same time, but the ice spike had pierced through one of his feet, leaving behind a bleeding hole in it and reducing his own agility.

    After landing on the ground and correcting his stance, Huang Ying looked at the Cloud Tiger with blazing eyes. He had no idea a proper fight could be this fun!

    He could feel his blood rushing through his veins and his heart beating like a war drum. His shoulders were aching, his foot was in excruciating pain, but at the same time he felt so alive!

    The Cloud Tiger was staring at him, it's eyes now fully blood red. His Devouring Qi was flowing through it's body from it's wound, like a festering parasite, constantly sapping it's strength and repairing Huang Ying's body.

    The Cloud Tiger roared and mindlessly charged at Huang Ying with it's open maw, directing the ice spikes to shoot straight at him.

    Seeing the crazed appearance of the Cloud Tiger, an idea popped into Huang Ying's mind as he quickly stored his sword back into his interspatial ring and charged barehanded at the Cloud Tiger.

    The ice spikes were the first ones to arrive in front of Huang Ying, but the Cloud Tiger could only give them simple commands, so Huang Ying had no trouble in dodging those he could and deflecting those he couldn't dodge.

    The swipe was the next to arrive, but Huang Ying had already dodged the same swipe twice before, so how could he let the third one hit him? Lowering his body to the point where he slid beneath the swipe, he quickly stood up and came face to face with the Cloud Tiger.

    Raising his right arm and inserting it into the open maw of the Cloud Tiger, the Cloud Tiger gave him a disdainful glance. Did this human really not want his arm any more? It put all it's power into it's jaws as it bit down, but didn't see Huang Ying flash a victorious smile.

    Letting his finger run across his interspatial ring, he brought out his sword in the Cloud Tiger's maw before pulling his arm out of it's closing maw, leaving behind the sword inside it's maw.

    As the Cloud Tiger bit down, the sword dug it's way through the Cloud Tiger's head and lodged itself into the Cloud Tiger's brain before the bottom part of the sword broke as the Cloud Tiger's jaws smashed close.

    The Cloud Tiger didn't even have time to give Huang Ying a glance, it simply fell over as all life drained out of it's eyes and the silver color on it's fur receded back into the cloud pattern.

    “You fought well, now rest.” Looking at the collapsed Cloud Tiger, Huang Ying gave it a small nod before placing his hand on it's head and circulating his Devouring Qi through it's entire body.

    After absorbing the Cloud Tiger and going through it's memories, he found the reason behind it's sudden power-up. This Cloud Tiger had a trace of Blue Tiger bloodline in it. Igniting the bloodline and activating it's potential allowed it's strength to soar for a short while before entering a weakened state. Igniting a bloodline was something human cultivators who had gotten a bloodline transferred into their bodies could also do, but they simply called it Bloodline Limit.

    The Blue Tiger this Cloud Tiger got it's bloodline from was a variant White Tiger. Once a beast managed to train to a high enough level, it could take on a human form or even become a god, much like a cultivator. A Blue Tiger is a Tiger type Demonic beast that has the bloodline of the White Tiger, but ended up mutating as it evolved, changing it's element and even bloodline, becoming a new bloodline of it's own.

    Demonic beasts have existed for as long as humans, if not even longer, so the amount of different variant Demonic beasts and bloodlines that existed are uncountable, there are even humans who are half Demonic beast, half human. Born between a human and a Demonic beast that could take human form.

    After absorbing all the energy in the Cloud Tiger and even the bloodline of the Blue Tiger, melding it into his own White Tiger bloodline, Huang Ying sat down cross-legged next to the lake, it was time for him to break through to the next heaven.

    Turning his vision inward and overlooking his Qi ocean, Huang Ying was very pleased. He had only killed five 6th grade Demonic beast, including the Cloud Tiger, but just these Demonic beasts alone allowed his Qi ocean to grow to almost 100 thousand kilometers across, seemingly endless. His next task was to condense this entire ocean into a small crystal, allowing his body to have almost the same explosive power as the Cloud Tiger.

    This wasn't the first time Huang Ying had condensed Qi before, and he also had Li Jun's explanation on how to most easily breakthrough, so breaking through was a smooth process for him. He simply gathered the entire Qi ocean into a massive ball before slowly putting it under more and more pressure, decreasing it's size, but increasing it's mass.

    After spending almost three days slowly condensing the entire Qi ocean, all that was left in Huang Ying's dantian was a black and white colored marble the size of a child's fist, slowly rotating. The marble was the size of a child's fist, but contained so much mass that the space around the marble was distorting.

    Pleased with how smoothly it went, Huang Ying proceeded to extract a sliver of white Ice Qi from the marble and letting it circulate through his meridians for a few circulations. Not noticing anything wrong, Huang Ying proceeded to let the sliver of Qi rotate around through his flesh and blood, allowing it to make several circulations through his entire body.

    After ascertaining that his body was strong enough to handle the Qi and couldn't be strengthened further by the Qi, Huang Ying led the Qi to his skin before letting it seep through his skin and into the Natural Energy around him.

    As his Ice Qi came in contact with the Natural Energy in the air, all the Natural Energy in the area swiftly turned into Ice Energy under Huang Ying's control, before condensing into a fist sized ice spike.

    Pleased at the results, Huang Ying looked around and decided that he might as well stay here to allow his control over the Natural Energy turn more fluid, before returning to Yellow Winds Town.
  • Chapter 27: Azure Springs Conspiracy.

    The sun had just risen as Huang Ying walked through the gates of Yellow Winds Town. His robes were tattered and dirty, his hair disheveled and his face dirty, he looked no different from a common beggar.

    He knew that the city lord and the four other clans probably had put out wanted orders for him, but he wasn't too worried about them. After spending almost two months in The Wilderness, he was so dirty that he didn't look anything like he did when he first entered the town.

    He wasn't worried about the tracking mark from the life jades either, he had already been gone for two months, even the best of tracking marks would lose it's effectiveness after just one month, much less two.

    As Huang Ying walked through the streets, the other people walking past him gave him plenty of space, keeping their distance because of a mixture of the smell and dirt.

    Huang Ying simply ignored the looks of pity and scorn and headed towards the nearest clothing store. As he entered the store, the manager initially wanted to simply throw him out, but after Huang Ying placed a platinum coin on the counter, the manager became more than happy to accommodate him.

    The currency humans used were based on the concept that 9 returns to 1. 10 copper were 1 silver, 10 silver were 1 gold and 10 gold were 1 platinum.

    The platinum coin Huang Ying gave him was also the only platinum coin he had after emptying the bandit hideout, but he wasn't too worried about using it. After he had made some preparations, he would head to the Tao clan and turn the clans in this town on their head. The clans had a longer history than the bandit's so he was certain that their treasuries would be much more appealing.

    Placing down the platinum coin and telling the manager to prepare several robes for him, Huang Ying took the liberty to head upstairs to the managers living quarters and borrow his shower to clean himself, an act the manager happily let him do.

    While cleaning himself, Huang Ying also let loose his perception to check out the surrounding area. After breaking through to the 8th heaven and increasing his control over his power, Huang Ying also learned how to release his perception out of his body, allowing him to see the surrounding area clearly.

    How far a cultivators perception could go wasn't limited by their cultivation, but rather by how strong their souls were. To strengthen ones soul, one could either ingest a type of heavenly treasure, simply let it grow stronger as you aged, or let it naturally grow stronger as you broke through cultivation levels.

    Huang Ying's perception was currently only strong enough to let him cover a distance of around five kilometers, but for the moment it was enough for him. He had already activated his Energy vision when he neared the town, and used it to check on the five clans.

    The five clans had stationed people close to the city entrance to guard the city and promote their own clan, so using his Energy vision to take a look at what elements they specialized in was no problem. Just as he had suspected, the Tao clan specialized in water arts, the Yuan clan in earth arts, the Shen and Mo clan in fire arts and the Zhong clan in lightning arts.

    Retrieving his perception before quickly drying himself, Huang Ying threw his gaze toward a building located close to the town center, Misty Moon House. Misty Moon was a merchant corporation that dealt in the purchasing and selling of everything below the heavens and had stores in all the slightly larger towns on the continent, it is also one of the richest existences on all of Green Willows.

    Coming to Yellow Winds Town in the first place was mainly because he had something he needed to check with one of the men working for this specific Misty Moon house.

    After cleaning himself, Huang Ying found the azure robes he had ordered folded neatly outside of the washing room. Changing into a fresh azure robe, tying up his black hair into a long ponytail and fastening it with the plum blossom hairpin he got from Jing He, Huang Ying felt like a new man.

    Looking at himself in the mirror and seeing the azure robe, Huang Ying was once more reminded of the time he spent in Azure Springs and how he himself once had azure hair.

    Reminiscing about the time when he was still young and just ran around and played made a faint smile curve up on Huang Ying's face, but as he tried to reminisce more, his temples started to throb as a terrible headache threatened to split his head. The headache left as abruptly as it came, disappearing just as Huang Ying was wondering why he suddenly got such a massive headache.

    Shaking his head a bit to clear it after the headache, Huang Ying decided to ignore it, he couldn't think of a reason as to why he would get a sudden headache, so he simply decided to no longer think about it.

    Leaving the clothing store, Huang Ying headed directly to the Misty Moon House, not hiding his presence in the slightest. It was nearly impossible for a cultivator to keep their perception outside of their body for extended periods of time, so he wasn't worried about the patriarchs or city lord finding him. And even if they did, he wouldn't be too worried, he came here to kill them, so them coming to him would just save him the trouble of coming to them.

    The insignia of the Misty Moon House was shaped like a waning moon covered by a thin veil of mist hanging high above all. The building was three stories tall and painted a shining shade of gold, the insignia was held high by two large pillars standing by the entrance, making it look like a majestic palace.

    The inside was divided into three sections, the first floor was where one could buy or sell merchandise, the second floor was where one could buy and sell favors, whilst the third floor was the VIP floor, where all the larger deals went down.

    The inside had simple furniture, a few counters to sell simple items, a few tables and chairs where one could sit and discuss prices and items, and several doors that led to private rooms if one wanted a touch of secrecy.

    Huang Ying headed straight to the second floor, which was furnished much like the first floor, only exception being that it had several more private rooms.

    Huang Ying headed straight for a counter specialized in selling private favors, behind the counter was an honest looking middle aged man with a perpetual fawning smile on his face.

    “Give me private room number five, call over Kong Zemin, tell him that Qian Hong is here.” Huang Ying wasted no time, knocking his knuckles against the counter four times in quick succession and giving the order, before heading straight to the private room and entering, not even waiting for the man behind the counter to respond.

    Knocking on the counter four times in quick succession was a signal that one wanted to buy an illegal favor, often an assassination. This particular piece of information, and even the names he used were things Huang Ying learned from the memories of the Wolf-Crag Bandits leader, he was the one named Qian Hong. He had been in contact with Kong Zemin before the attack on Azure Springs and the reason they attacked was because Kong Zemin had told him that the mayor of Azure Springs had been assassinated and someone paid him to deliver the news to them.

    The private room was also furnished sparsely, only containing two couches divided by a table. The only light in the room came from a small lamp hanging from the ceiling

    Huang Ying didn't have to wait for long. After a few minutes of waiting, a yellow robed man walked in. The man had a normal face, but his eyes constantly darted all over the place, making him look like a nervous person.

    The man had just walked in and closed the door and was just about to speak, but once he turned around and saw Huang Ying, the words caught in his throat.

    “You aren't Qian Hong...” The man just managed to squeeze out the words when a hand landed on his throat, blocking him from talking further.

    “No need to talk too much, i'll just take what I need and leave.” Huang Ying gave the man a slight smile as he spoke. This man didn't do any cultivation, so there was no way that he could resist Huang Ying, he couldn't even see how he moved.

    Black gas started seeping out from Huang Ying's hand and started making it's way into Kong Zemin's head through his eyes and nose, digging it's way into his brain. Huang Ying allowed his Devouring Qi to slowly sift through his memories, before it finally found all the information related to the assassination on Azure Springs mayor.

    After unceremoniously removing all his memories about the assassination and then even the memories of this encounter, Huang Ying knocked him unconscious and laid him down on the couch. Huang Ying didn't dare wantonly kill people that belonged to such a mysterious and all-encompassing organization.

    After getting the information, Huang Ying left the Misty Moon House and rented a room at a nearby inn. After locking down the door and windows, Huang Ying sat down cross-legged on the bed before sinking his perception into his spiritual sea.

    His spiritual sea seemed just like a vast black expanse, devoid of anything but a hazy white cocoon floating in the air. Huang Ying had a grave expression as he walked up to the cocoon and looked at it with self-deprecating eyes.

    “Really Li Jun, it seems like you hid quite some things from me.” Huang Ying spoke with a grave voice as he looked at the cocoon.

    “It's fine if you don't want to explain yourself, i'll just devour you.” Seeing as there was no response from the cocoon, Huang Ying manifested his Baku.

    “Wait! Wait! I'll explain it.” As the Baku coiled around Huang Ying, a panicked raspy voice rang out from the cocoon as it dissolved and a black fog spread out from it, quickly taking the shape of a blurry human.

    “....You already seem to know? How did you find out?” the blurry Li Jun spoke with some trepidation as he looked at Huang Ying.

    “After all the bandits were devoured and I gained all their memories, I found a memory of the bandit leader talking with that Kong Zemin about the assassination on the mayor. Kong Zemin told him that someone had paid to get the mayor assassinated and then deliver the news to the bandits, urging them to attack the city. That someone would bother assassinating the mayor of such a small town, especially by utilizing such a large organization like Misty Moon, was already suspicious. So once I started thinking about it a little, I figured that I might as well look into who would gain the most from the destruction of the town. After some consideration I remembered that as the bandits were attacking, you were warning me about any bandit who was about to spot me, until one bandit somehow managed to sneak up behind me and stab me. As I thought of that, it struck me. You would not be able to enter the reincarnation cycle unless I died or you took over my body. But since you never took over my body in all those years, it stands to reason that you don't have that strength, meaning that you could only rely on someone else. Of course, I had no proof of any of this, it was merely a speculation I had. So I decided to just go to the source, Kong Zemin. And in his memories, the one who ordered and paid for the assassination and bringing the news to the bandits, while he was indeed covered in a cloak that hid his face, you forgot to change your voice, even the body you used was only conjured up by controlling the Natural Energy, making it take on a semi solid shape. I have talked to you everyday of my life, before I even talked to my parents, I talked to you. There is no way I could mistake your voice. The bandit attack on Azure Springs was planned by you, Li Jun.” Huang Ying's voice slowly turned gloomier as he spoke, he had trusted Li Jun and even thought of him as a friend and senior after spending 14 years together, he truly never expected Li Jun to plan his death.
  • Chapter 28: Placing Bait.

    “It seems like you really thought hard about it..... what will you do now?” Li Jun spoke with a sigh, seemingly already resigned to his fate.

    “Originally I was thinking about simply devouring you, after all, your scheme nearly destroyed all of Azure Springs. No matter how cold and distant the people there were, it is still my home, so killing you for nearly destroying it doesn't seem to far fetched.” Huang Ying spoke with a grave expression.

    “But. I still have some reservations about killing you, seems like you really seeped into my heart after those 14 years. And seeing as how the town got out safe in the end, I have decided to simply ignore it, at least this once. If you ever scheme against me again, I will no longer hesitate and simply devour you.” Huang Ying finished his words by letting his Baku slither closer to the blurry shape that was Li Jun.

    “I see, it seems like you are still quite soft-hearted. Had I been in your shoes I would have immediately killed me.” Seeing that he was safe, Li Jun's mood immediately lifted, even going as far as chuckling and joking around with Huang Ying.

    “True, I guess I am rather soft-hearted to people I consider friends, even if they are bastards like you. I guess that is the difference between you and me.” Huang Ying spoke freely, he wasn't too worried about Li Jun betraying him again.

    One reason was that there was no longer a need, it was simply easier to rely on him to create a new body than to hope for him to die. The other reason was that there was no way for Li Jun to escape. Even when he went to Misty Moon to order the assassination, he could only send a tiny sliver of his perception to control the surrounding Natural Energy, it was impossible for him to send his entire soul, as it would simply dissipate upon leaving Huang Ying's spiritual sea. And as long as he was in Huang Ying's spiritual sea, Huang Ying could devour him whenever he wanted.

    “Hey Huang Ying, my memory is all jumbled after the attack on the town, could you fill me in on what happened after you escaped the prison again?”Huang Ying was just about to leave his spiritual sea when Li Jun's slightly hesitant voice rang out.

    Huang Ying turned around and raised one of his eyebrows at Li Jun, giving him a slightly confused look.

    “Alright? Let's see. We escaped the dungeon thanks to the help from the guard, Xiao Yan. After sneaking through most of the town, since you didn't warn me, I got stabbed.” Speaking up to here, Huang Ying gave Li Jun a slight glare.

    “After that, the blood of Baku awakened, manifesting as a massive serpent. Baku devoured the bandits, but since the power seemed too monstrous, the rest of the townspeople chased me out off the town, forbidding me from ever returning.” As Huang Ying finished speaking, small drops of sweat dripped down from his forehead. He had gotten a headache that seemed to grow increasingly worse the more he talked, luckily it disappeared once he finished talking.

    “I see, I see. Well thank you for refreshing my memories.” Li Jun seemed to have found something funny with what Huang Ying said as he started chuckling to himself as he spoke.

    Huang Ying stared at him for a bit as he went over what he just said. Not seeing what Li Jun found funny he simply withdrew his perception from his spiritual sea, he had to make preparations for fighting the city lord.

    After Huang Ying left his spiritual sea, Li Jun kept chuckling to himself, all the while mumbling to himself. “Seems like it hit the poor kid harder than I thought, he can't even remember it properly anymore. Seems like he'll be in for a shock if he ever tries to return to his 'home'.”

    Huang Ying didn't waste any time as he quickly left the inn and headed to the blacksmith. The bandits treasury was filled with all kinds of different weapons, so he wasn't lacking in a sword he could temporarily use, but there were no arrows that he could use, so he needed to stock up on some arrows for future use.

    Entering the smithy, the first thing that hit Huang Ying was the heat from the forge, which was located not far from the counter, making the shop both sweltering and cramped. Sitting next to the forge was a stout and muscular man with bronze skin, hands wrapped around a massive hammer. He had long and unkempt brown hair hanging in front of his eyes, making him seem like a barbarian.

    “Well there sonny, what can I do for ya?” Noticing that someone had entered the store, the stout man stepped away from the forge and spoke in a deep voice.

    “I need arrows, the best ones you have. 20 should do. I also want to know what this is.” Huang Ying spoke as he brought out a few gold coins to pay for the arrows and the strange purplish-white ore he found in The Wilderness.

    “Alright, we have no lack of good arrows. Oy, little Mao, bring me 20 blacksteel arrows!” The stout man took the gold after a quick counting and shouted to the back of the shop.

    After waiting for around a minute, a child, looking no more than nine, came out from the back of the shop. In his hands he was holding a bundle of 20 black arrows. The arrows looked like they were made entirely out of black steel, fletched with bright red feathers and a simple, sharp tip, the arrows looked top quality.

    Inspecting the arrows and making sure that there was nothing wrong with them, Huang Ying stored them into his interspatial ring, before handing over the strange ore to the stout man.

    The stout man inspected the ore for a bit, looking at it from all angles, even going as far as using a smaller hammer to check the sturdiness of the crystals.

    “I can tell ya what it is, but I cam't make nothing with it, shop's not well enough equipped. Ya would have better luck in the capital, but it'll cost ya a pretty penny to forge it into something useful.” The stout man handed the ore back to Huang Ying, who immediately stored it back into his interspatial ring.

    “What ya got there is a piece of an ore we call Lightning Ore. Simply said, it's a piece of ore that has absorbed the power of lightning. If ya find yerself a better blacksmith, they can forge it into a weapon, allowing it to exhibit the power of lightning if ya fuel it with yer Qi.”

    After the stout man finished talking, Huang Ying bid him farewell and left the blacksmith. His preparations were complete, so it was time to go pay a visit to the Tao clan.

    Huang Ying stood outside the gates of the Tao clan, looking up at the massive building that looked more like a palace than it did a clan headquarter. A faint smile appeared on his lips as he thought about how much riches a clan like this must have gathered up.

    “Kid, here I thought you were a soft-hearted boy, but aren't you just as rotten as me?” Li Jun, having figured out what Huang Ying was intending, voiced out his thoughts with a chuckle.

    “I said I was soft-hearted to those I consider my friends, why should I be soft-hearted to those who want my life?” Huang Ying gave him an indifferent reply before heading towards the massive entrance.

    Outside the entrance stood two guards, seeing someone walk over, especially upon noticing that there were no energy fluctuations around him, swaggered over to stop him.

    “No need to bother, i'm here to cause trouble.” Before they even managed to reach him, Huang Ying's cold voice rang in their ears as everything before their eyes turned dark and they fainted. The guards weren't even at the 3rd heaven, so simply using a bit of Qi to knock them unconscious was easy.

    Stepping in front of the entrance, Huang Ying used both arms to push it open before stepping into the courtyard of the Tao clan. The courtyard was a large square area with few trees growing, it was obviously used more as a practice area.

    Behind the courtyard where three large buildings. The buildings on the right and left were only two stories high and looked rather normal, but the building in the middle looked more like an imperial palace and functioned as both the headquarter of the Tao clan, and the home of the city lord.

    “Come now City lord Tao! Last time I was here I killed your useless son, now i'm here to kill you!” Huang Ying used his Qi to transmit his voice outward, making it resound across the entire Tao clan.

    “YOU!” After his voice resounded, a furious roar rang out from the main building as the doors were violently flung open and a slim middle aged man with blonde hair walked out. The middle aged man's face was red from fury as he stared daggers at Huang Ying. Behind him followed a group of old men, looking at Huang Ying with an indifferent gaze. From the building to the right of the main palace swathes of young people dressed in the same ocean blue robes started swarming to the courtyard, attracted to the commotion.

    “Good, good, good. I was worried you would die in that accursed Wilderness, I truly never expected you to dare come to my house after you had to escape so pathetically last time. It seems like you have come to give me your head.” The city lord was so enraged he spat out the word good three times in succession.

    “To give you my head? No no, I have come to use you as bait.” Huang Ying spoke in a sarcastic tone and gave the city lord a disdainful look, ever since he broke through to the 8th heaven, he truly didn't fear these second-rate 9th heaven cultivators. Using his energy vision, he saw that the energy fluctuations of the city lord and the old men behind him were even weaker than the ones the Cloud Tiger had once it used it's Bloodline Limit.

    After finishing his words, Huang Ying folded his hands behind his back as he spread out his perception, he had thrown out the net and the bait, now he just needed to wait for the fish to come to him.
  • Chapter 29: Tao Yazhu's unease.

    Tao Yazhu furiously glared at the boy not far from him. Almost two months ago, this boy had killed his son and then he even managed to flee from his hands. Worse yet, the boy was even pursued by the four other clan patriarchs at the same time, yet still slipped out of their hands.

    Tao Yazhu wanted nothing more than to dash forward and rip this hateful brat apart, but while he was mad, he hadn't lost all his sanity. The boy didn't emit any energy fluctuations, so going by reason, he should just be a normal person who didn't even cultivate. Yet just two months ago, the boy escaped their pursuit, running at speeds impossible for normal people to reach.

    The boy even escaped into The Wilderness, the gathering place for Demonic beasts. If Tao Yazhu or any of the other patriarchs set fot into that massive forest, the Demonic beasts would immediately sense their energy fluctuations and charge at them in a frenzied horde.

    Looking closely at the boy Tao Yazhu noticed that while the boy didn't emit any energy fluctuations, the area around him was completely devoid of Natural Energy. As the boy stood there, he almost seemed like a black hole, devouring all the energy around him. If Tao Yazhu wasn't looking at him, he wouldn't even know that there was anyone there.

    Tao Yazhu already had an uneasy feeling in his stomach when he first heard the shout, so he immediately signaled the four other clans, alerting the patriarchs. Now, looking at the boy standing in front of him, cold eyes and disdainful smile, Tao Yazhu couldn't help but feel like he had made the right choice.

    The boy had walked right up to his house, entered through the front entrance and then even shouted out to get his attention. Facing the power and pressure of someone at the 9th heaven, he didn't seem to feel any discomfort, he even went as far as too call him, Tao Yazhu, noting more than bait.

    The more Tao Yazhu looked at him, the more uneasy he felt. On one hand, he wanted to rush forward and kill him, quelling this unease right away. But on the other hand, what if this boy really had some way to kill him? Tao Yazhu feared the unknown.

    “You little brat! You were given a road to heaven, but instead chose to head into hell, seems like you are dumber than I gave you credit for!” As Tao Yazhu was leaning back and forth between the idea of attacking, a powerful voice rang out.

    Looking towards the entrance, Tao Yazhu saw a large group of people walking in. At the forefront of the group were three middle aged men and a seductive woman. The one who just spoke was Yuan Gengxin, a large and burly man wearing an earthy robe. Behind him were several youths clad in the same earthy robes, most likely the more promising disciples of his clan, come to watch their patriarch show his power.

    The people next to him were Shen Fan, a muscular man with fiery red hair wearing a crimson armor. Mo Yijun, a slim man wearing loose orange robes. His face was plastered with a pleasant smile and a burn mark going from his mouth all the way down to his neck. And Zhong Sun, a slim and seductive woman with large snowy mounds. Clad in a tight fitting, deep purple robe that matched her purple hair, she drew the attention of every man around her.

    Following them were youths of all ages dressed in outfits that matched one of the four leaders, signifying which clan they came from.

    Seeing the four other patriarchs appear, Tao Yazhu was immediately relieved of his worry and quickly turned his head towards the boy again. He was just about to curse at the boy like Yuan Gengxin had done, trying to redeem himself from the shame of having been uneasy because of a child.

    The words got stuck in his throat as he looked at the boy. The other patriarchs may not be able to see it since they were behind him, but Tao Yazhu was in front of him and could clearly see that devilish grin on the boy's face.

    Seeing that grin, Tao Yazhu couldn't help but feel uneasy again, and just as he was about to say something, the boy opened his mouth and his mocking voice rang out.

    “I must say city lord Tao, you are much better bait than I expected. I only just got here and shouted a few words and after just waiting a few short minutes, you have already gathered everyone else. Truly efficient, I was really worried I would have to chase down the others.”

    the boy chuckled coldly after speaking and shifted his stance, allowing him to look at all the patriarchs by simply twisting his head a little, before speaking up once more.

    “I must say though, aren't you shitty leaders? It's fine that you all come out to die, but you even drag all the disciples into it? Are you not scared of the entire clan being wiped out?”

    The boy's mocking voice rang out like the laughter of a demon, stabbing at the hearts of everyone present. What arrogance!

    “One should be careful with ones words little boy. A word once spoken can't be taken back.” Zhong Sun spoke in a seductive voice, but her narrowed eyes flashed with lightning, showing her rage.

    “Oh? Why should I be careful with my words? You want to kill me and I want to kill you. We have already reached a point where flowered words are pointless.” Facing the rage of Zhong Sun, the boy simply responded with a calm smile as his eyes flashed with disdain.

    “The boy is right, words are pointless. We should just attack.” Shen Fan spoke in a loud voice as wisps of fire started floating around him like ghosts.

    “Indeed Shen patriarch, you should just attack, otherwise you might never get the chance. I'll just give you a warning to be nice, you should pull back your disciples, otherwise I won't be held accountable for their lives.” The boy gave a grin at Shen Fan as he spoke arrogantly and his entire body started radiating an insane will to fight.

    “humph, impudent!” Yuan Gengxin gave a cold snort as his voice rang out again and an earthen light started emitting from his hands and he started making his way towards the boy alongside the other patriarchs.

    The disciples wore enraged expressions as they followed closely behind their respective patriarchs, gleefully looking forward to seeing this arrogant child beaten down.

    “Oh well, I gave you a warning, so don't blame me.” The boy simply shrugged his shoulders and gave an indifferent response.

    As the patriarchs got closer from one side, Tao Yazhu slowly made his way forward, seeing the mad grin on the boy's face, he still had an uneasy feeling in his stomach.

    Just as they had crossed over half the distance, the boy clapped his hands lightly. Following the clap, the uneasy feeling in Tao Yazhu's stomach reached reached it's apex. Just as Tao Yazhu was considering retreating, he heard a loud exclamation from one of the disciples closest to the courtyard entrance.

    Looking towards the entrance, Tao Yazhu saw a large, pitch black serpent with cold silver spikes along it's entire backside, curled up in front of the entrance, preventing anyone from leaving. The serpent was almost 15 meters long and covered the entire entrance, it's cold yellow eyes staring disdainfully at everyone.

    Just as the patriarchs and Tao Yazhu were about to exclaim, a change happened in the boy. His long black hair quickly changed color, turning a pure white. At the same time, his hands were covered in white fur and his fingernails turned into sharp pitch black claws. His pupils turned into slits as he stared coldly at everyone present.

    “Now then, do try to hold on long enough to let me properly test this.” His cold voice rang out in the ears of everyone present, sending a chill up their spines.

  • Chapter 30: Power of a bloodline.

    Huang Ying looked at his hands, the white fur had spread from his hands and up his arms, stopping only after it reached his shoulders. After the fur had started growing, his muscles started bulging, increasing in size and ripping his robe.

    His hair turning white and the sudden growth of fur was a sign that he had activated his Bloodline limit, something he thought of after killing the Cloud Tiger in The Wilderness.

    Activating his Bloodline limit not only increased his physical power and body defense, it also heightened his senses, affinity with the surrounding Natural Energy, and boosted the amount of Qi available to him.

    When he didn't use his Bloodline limit, the range of Natural Energy he could control was very limited, only allowing him to control the Natural Energy in a 100 meter area. Activating his Bloodline limit allowed him to control the Natural Energy in a 200 meter area, effectively doubling the range of his attacks.

    Huang Ying's mouth curled into a smile as he felt the surging power coursing through his body, right now he truly felt invincible. As the thought appeared in Huang Ying's mind, he quickly curbed it. He had seen people whose strength were far greater than his, now was not a time to grow complacent. He still had a long struggle ahead of him.

    Lifting his head, Huang Ying turned his eyes towards the patriarchs approaching him as he spoke out.

    “Now then, do try to hold on long enough to let me properly test this.” before he even finished speaking, Huang Ying stepped out towards the four patriarchs.

    Putting all the power into his leg, he shot out towards the Zhong matriarch, a gust of freezing air following in his wake. He had increased his power and didn't fear the five patriarchs, but it was always best to err on the side of caution.

    The patriarch of the Tao clan, the Mo clan, and the Shen would be restrained by the purity of his Ice Qi, so they would not be a large problem. The patriarch of the Yuan clan used Earth Qi and was famed for his strong defense but slow speed, so he could also be disregarded for the moment. But the matriarch of the Zhong clan used Lightning Qi, giving her excellent speed and piercing power, so taking care of her first was a must.

    Huang Ying shot towards the Zhong matriarch like a bullet, the Natural Energy around him seethed and surged under his command. His Ice Qi was of a much higher purity than the element of anyone present, so if anyone present tried to wrest control of the Natural Energy away from him they were doomed to fail.

    The Natural Energy surrounding Huang Ying swiftly turned into Ice energy under his control. Before the Zhong matriarch had time to react, the Ice Energy sank into the ground around her. Solidifying and turning into thick walls of ice that limited her movement, cutting her off from the other patriarchs and forcing her into a frontal confrontation with Huang Ying.

    Huang Ying arrived in front of the Zhong matriarch just as the walls sprouted out and threw out his hand, aiming it straight at her abdomen. Aiming for her head or chest would allow her to utilize her Lightning Qi to swiftly move away.

    Aiming at her abdomen ensured that she would have to move her entire body if she wanted to completely dodge the attack, but with the ice walls forcing her to only move forwards, a complete escape was impossible.

    The Zhong matriarch grit her teeth as she silently cursed her bad luck, channeling all her Lightning Qi into her abdomen, producing a shimmering web of lightning as a shield.

    Seeing the shield, Huang Ying simply gave her a mocking smile as he formed his hand into a spear hand and charged it with Ice and Devouring Qi. His hand passed right through the lightning web, ignoring the searing pain and smell of burnt flesh and hair. Huang Ying drove his hand straight into the Zhong matriarchs abdomen and frenziedly circulated his Ice and Devouring Qi into her body.

    The Zhong matriarch only managed to let out a low grunt before her eyes dimmed and her body froze where it stood, turning into a stiff ice statue. She arrived in a grandiose fashion to take revenge for her son, but before she even managed to do anything, she was killed without even getting to showcase her speed.

    Huang Ying pulled his hand out of her stomach. There were still parts where the fur had been burnt and the skin melted, giving way to bloody flesh. He never intended to make this a flawless victory, he didn't mind trading injuries. His body was stronger than theirs, he even had the Devouring Qi to help slightly mend his injuries.

    For every attack he made, small amounts of Devouring Qi would enter his opponents, draining their energy and sending it to him. Of course, if he was hit by the attack of an enemy, hoping to use this small amount to heal his injuries was nothing short of retardation. First he would have to use some of the energy to force out the opponents Qi from the wounds.

    Huang Ying turned to the ice walls separating him from the rest of the patriarchs, succeeding with a surprise attack like this would be hard now that they were ready. Now he would have to rely more on his quick thinking and some schemes he had already set in motion.

    Smashing his fist into one of the ice walls, the ice walls turned into palm sized shrapnel with razor sharp edges that shot out towards the other patriarchs. Huang Ying attached a small amount of his own Qi to each of the shrapnel shards to allow him to control their movements, giving himself a greater range of tactics.

    Seeing the frozen body of the Zhong matriarch, the expressions of the other patriarchs slowly turned grave. This boy didn't seem to have any energy fluctuations at first but when he attacked, while his body didn't give off any fluctuations, they could sense his Qi in those ice walls, and it was clearly the Qi of someone at the 8th heaven.

    Normally they wouldn't fear anyone at the 8th heaven, but this boy seemed to have a Demonic beast bloodline, making him stronger than normal 8th heaven cultivators. He had even already killed the Zhong matriarch in such a short duration, so he was obviously able to threaten them.

    The disciples of the Zhong clan, upon seeing their matriarch slain, flew into a frenzy and some of them even started charging at Huang Ying.

    Facing these people, Huang Ying only gave them a cold glance before sending an order to his Baku. Since these people wanted to kill him, there was no need to show them any mercy. Upon receiving the order, the black serpent that guarded the only exit, sprung into action, diving headfirst into the group of people that charged at Huang Ying.

    Huang Ying spared them no second thought, simply enjoying the warm feeling of the new Qi that was provided to him from the Baku's massacre. Huang Ying had only given the Baku a simple order to kill anyone that tried to attack him, if they simply stood back or tried to leave, the Baku would completely ignore them.

    Ignoring the screams from the disciples watching, Huang Ying charged toward the Shen patriarch. The Shen patriarch was the one closest to him, and at first glance he also looked the most threatening, being the one with the largest amount of energy fluctuations around him.

    The Shen patriarch obviously noticed what Huang Ying was planning as most of the shrapnel was flying towards him. The Shen patriarch quickly pulled a halberd out of his interspatial ring and surrounded himself in flames, trying to melt the shrapnel flying at him.

    To his horror, the Shen patriarch noticed that instead of his flames melting the shrapnel, it was his fire that vanished wherever the shrapnel went. The Shen patriarch quickly put up a wall of fire in front of himself, limiting Huang Ying's vision, not allowing him to perfectly control the shrapnel.

    The Shen patriarch started brandishing his halberd in a defensive stance, deflecting the shrapnel headed towards him and re-directing it towards the Mo patriarch, forcing him to put even more effort into his own defense. The Shen patriarch managed to deflect a large portion of the now uncontrolled shrapnel, but there were still several pieces that lodged themselves into his body, sending Huang Ying's Ice Qi into his body.

    The most prominent piece of shrapnel that hit him was a large piece the size of two palms that had lodged itself into his right chest, piercing through his armor like mud and puncturing his lung.

    Just as he was about to breathe a slight sigh of relief, he saw Huang Ying charge through his wall of fire with an insane grin, completely ignoring the burning pain coming from his skin.

    Huang Ying grabbed the arm holding the halberd, and before the Shen patriarch had time to pull away, Huang Ying raised one of his legs, before bringing it down on the Shen patriarch's right knee with all his might.

    The stomp landed with a thunderous sound, nearly twisting off the Shen patriarch's entire leg. As the Shen patriarch let loose an agonized howl, Huang Ying wrested the halberd out of his hands and gave the Shen patriarch's neck a heavy slash, separating his head from his shoulders and silencing his agonized howl.

    Huang Ying quickly put his palm on the Shen patriarch's chest, devouring all the Qi in his body before it dissipated, at the same time he also absorbed the flesh and blood he needed to repair most of his injuries.

    As the body of the Shen patriarch fell over, the crowd looked on in horror. The five leaders of Yellow Winds Town had come in full force to attack and kill a single boy, but after a short period of not even ten breaths, two of the five patriarchs were killed. And the boy even looked like he was still completely fine!

    Lifting his head and looking at the Mo patriarch who was panting lightly and bleeding from the arms after having been forced to defend against the shrapnel of both himself and the Shen patriarch, Huang Ying gave him a faint smile.

    “Now then, I believe you should be next?”
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