The Heavens and the Earth. Two completely different worlds that rarely had anything to do with each other, yet tales and legends of the Heavenly Realm, the Jade Emperor, the might of his powerful guardians and the battles against powerful foes caught the ears of the mortals nevertheless.
Especially tales like the one of the Evil Saint that tried to destroy the world which, by the way, was also every mother’s favorite if their child refused to go to sleep.
If that happened, they would say stuff like “If you don’t go to sleep soon, the Evil Saint Xū Líng and his army of monstrous beasts will come and eat you!” At that, the child would tremble in fear and immediately go to bed.
This… ‘Evil Saint‘… was actually a person whom the heavens had angered. A man that, together with his army of Heavenly Beasts, humans and many kinds of monsters who also had grudges against Tian’s Nine Heavens, fought for all other living beings’ freedom and rights!
He had no intention of destroying the world, but it happens quite often that History is laid down by the winners. It didn’t matter what had truly happened: in the eyes of the common people, what those in power said, it would be the truth!
The losers had no say in this, and Xū Líng had, unfortunately, lost. Following that, his righteous ideals were distorted and he turned into the enemy of all that lived beneath the Heavens.
His nickname, Evil Saint, which was bestowed upon him many years prior, also didn’t help on restoring his image and he was thus branded as a criminal.
After all, while people would also fear those who had power they would at the same time bully those who hadn’t. Xu Ling had lost and had been killed, so mortals immediately started to distort the truth even more with fake stories about his cruelty and ruthlessness.
He was branded as weak and was thus slandered, as that is the way both human and all other corruptible living beings have lived, live and will live for many more years.
People, though, would also admire and encourage those that went against the odds, as they would pity the weak, but once that person won, their actions would make a 180 degrees change: admiration would turn into envy and their encouraging would turn into scorn.
One of the many reasons, apart from the lack of talent or external support, that true geniuses are rare is that some of them couldn’t endure this change of attitude and would subconsciously restrain their abilities. If reasons like that didn’t apply to a person, then that person would undoubtedly rise higher than anyone else in the world. Rise higher and then dominate every single being besides him.
If a person with unmatched talent, a willpower capable of shaking the Earth and make the Heavens tremble and apathy towards the envy and scorn of others existed… What then?
Would such a genius be restrained by the Heavens? By Death? By Age? What can any of these weak shackles do in the face of insurmountable power?
A black blur shot through the forest at speeds at the very limit of what a human body could handle. It kept speeding down the mountains and running through swamps for at least half a day before finally slowing down.
When it finally stopped on top of a tall cliff, the figure could finally be seen a bit more clearly: it was a young boy. He was wearing ragged clothes, and carried a huge backpack on his shoulders.
His skin and clothing were so dirty that he appeared completely black. If it weren’t for the pair of bright, golden eyes and the two rows of perfect, white teeth, one could easily mistake him for a shadow.
The child wasn’t panting and didn’t seem all that tired even after going through half a day of traveling at his full speed. If it weren’t for the slightly rugged breathing, he would have looked like he had gone for a simple walk to the park near his house and just came back.
Looking in the distance below the tall cliff, a gigantic fortress whose walls kept going for tens of miles could be seen.
Inside the fortress there weren’t just houses made of stones and buildings. Instead, there were many lakes, forests and even whole mountains. The fortress looked like it was built somewhere else and them placed on top of them all. It was as if the one who built it didn’t want to harm the environment more that he already had.
The boy grinned at the scene and spoke a few sentences, seemingly speaking to himself.
“This seems to be it. So, what do you say? What would have happened if I had turned left at that time, uh? From now on, I keep the map! Anyways, this was a pretty hard journey, even I feel a bit of pressure after running for half a day…”
The boy stretched for a bit, his body emitted crackling noises, and then asked “Shall we head down?”
Surprisingly, a voice answered him. It seemed to be the voice of a middle aged man, yet it carried a hint of ancientness “Yes, let’s hurry, wouldn’t want to be too late, right? Especially after running so much to get here on time!”
The boy looked at the valley beneath the cliff and nodded. Suddenly, his eyes glinted and the pupils within seemed to transform into golden coins as they glittered with greed.
“Absolutely, since I did all the running! But enough of that, look over there!” The boy exclaimed “What a fat sheep!”
The boy rubbed his two hands together grinning “Are you thinking the same thing I am?”
The mysterious voice responded dreamingly, as if intoxicated “It is indeed a beautiful scenery…”
“Not that, damn Goldy! Look at those fat sheep! My pouch is empty right now and it seems reeeeally sad, look at how it’s bending downwards… We should really help him up don’t you think? Let’s head down!” At that the boy bent his knees.
“What did you say? Did you just call G-Goldy? What the-” The voice replied enraged. Suddenly, it stopped and the same voice that seemed so terrifying before asked trembling “Uhm… You are not thinking of… Just wait a damn second!”
The voice seemed to have understood something because it grew louder by the word but before it could say anything else the boy had already jumped.
“Hey, you crazy boy, I told you to WAIIIIIIIIT…!!!”
“YEEEEAAAAAAH…!!!” The boy soon disappeared in the valley below.
In the Four Beasts Mountain Range, one of the longest chains of mountains in the Western Continent, many sects and schools have been built. Although they also taught common subjects like math and literature, their main focus was Martial Cultivation, a way to enhance one’s strength through training and enlightening of special techniques.
Those people who underwent Martial Cultivation were called Cultivators
The core of these techniques were Spiritual Energy and Qi. The Qi was… Well, everything. Literally. Everything was made out of Qi with different kinds of attributes. At the same time, Spiritual Energy was a kind of Qi that could be openly manipulated through various scriptures and techniques.
Cultivators used the Spiritual Energy of the world to enhance their power. At the same time, enlightening of the Qi allowed them to understand various aspects of the Qi more deeply, thus allowing greater control and strength over both the Qi and Spiritual Energy.
Amongst the ranks of those powerful sects and schools was a single Sect called the Mysterious Light-Shadow Sect.
A thousand years ago, treasures, elixirs, pills, drops of blood holding within great power… anything a Cultivator could ever wish for fell from the Heavens upon the lowly mortal world. Thanks to that, many geniuses rose during that period of time and it was then called the Golden Age of cultivation.
According to the rumors, a powerful expert had found a big stash of these treasures and thus had enough resources to build a first-rate sect, that same Mysterious Light-Shadow Sect. After his death and a thousand years after the treasure rained down, the Sect had prospered and housed millions of disciples.
Right now, a group of twenty youths wearing the black and white clothing of the sect were standing together and were happily chatting with an older young man. The older man also wore black robes, but unlike the other younglings who only had one or two white stripes, the man’s robes had three stripes, signifying an Inner Sect disciple.
“Senior, senior, is it true that you’ve successfully condensed your Core?” A person asked.
“You stepped into the Advanced Martial stage at such a young age? Senior, please guide us, how did you do it?” A woman’s eyes glinted as she asked.
“Eheh, Senior will now have to treat us to a drink right? We have to celebrate!” A burly man laughed and patted the person in question on the back.
The group of young people kept bombarding the man in his thirties with questions. He was one meter eighty tall and had long flowing black hair.
He had a somewhat haughty air and his eyes had a bit of contempt in them, but he hid it very deeply “My, my! I am not such a genius, it took a full sixteen years to finally begin to condense my core, how can that be called genius? I am far from being talented…”
“How can Senior say that?!” A young man in his late teens grabbed the chance to flatter him even more “Very few people in the sect have such talent and those people truly are dragon within men, but seeing Senior’s strength, one day Senior will for sure be as powerful as them for sure!”
“That’s right Senior, if your talent isn’t good enough to be called at the very least above average, then wouldn’t our talent be worse than dog crap?” Some disciple also laughed and jokingly hit the man’s shoulder.
“Ahhhh, you guys…” the youth shook his head as he chuckled.
Even though he seemingly kept dodging the praises that other people threw at him him, it was evident that the man actually felt really proud of himself! Stepping in the Advanced Stage at the age of thirty truly was something worth of praise, as some people might even not reach that level of profound martial cultivation at all in their whole lives.
“Uuuu, seniors, is this the road that brings to the Mysterious Light-Shadow Sect?” Just then a small voice could be heard.
Everybody stopped talking and switched their attention towards the new arrival: the boy clearly wasn’t even in his teens as he was nine years old at most, most likely he was still only eight. He wore ragged clothes, had no shoes and his only belonging was a big, worn out backpack on his back and an empty pouch on his belt.
The closest people immediately walked a few steps backwards disgusted. The teen was so dirty that even his face was indistinguishable and his long flowing black hair that reached the waist had black earth and mud attached to it.
It really made one wonder whether black truly was the color of the hair or if it was simply so unclean that it had become like that.
The worst thing though was that the boy was so stinky that many people had to hold their noses and breath through their mouths: the child seemed to have never taken a bath before!
“Y… Young child, what matters could possibly bring you to come to my Mysterious Light-Shadow Sect? Is a sibling of yours studying there?” The man that was constantly being sung praises to annoyingly asked the small boy.
The disgust on the youth’s face was hardly concealable as he clearly laid back and tried to put some distance between him and the dirty child.
The boy’s eyes scanned the man in front of him and an imperceptible smile formed on his lips as he realized what kind of man he was talking to.
“Junior has no siblings, relatives nor friends at Senior’s Mysterious Light-Shadow Sect. Junior came to join the sect and become a powerful cultivator just like senior! Senior’s strength can be seen simply by his air and demeanor, truly worth of a king between men” After noticing how much the man seemed to value face, the boy wasted no time and immediately started flattering him in front of the other disciples.
Soon, the man’s expression turned from disgust to pride and self-satisfaction, as if he had just gained enormous face. He looked around, a big smile plastered on his face, as if he was saying ‘See? I am so great even a small child understands how he should act in front of me!’
He stepped closer to the kid and he waved his hand towards him: immediately, the air flow changed, an invisible pressure started to shake the child’s body and at the same time threw off all the dirt and mud on his figure.
The boy watched in amazement as the previously dirty him suddenly turned into a clean, refined young boy: his beautiful pitch-black, straight, long hair and big, girly, golden eyes as well as his beautiful and handsome face immediately mesmerized some of the females on the scene that started to think of methods to get closer to the beautiful youth.
Although he had pretty girly looks, there was a hint of courage as well as pride in between his eyebrows. If he was this beautiful while still so young, how breathtaking would he become in the future?
The boy looked really surprised, opening his mouth wide when he thought about what had happened, but more surprise made his mouth gape even wider when the man that was previously standing on the rock grasped his shoulder.
The man grinned at the child “Good child! You sure know how to flatter others!” He looked up and the air surrounding them trembled as the two suddenly shot towards the sky.
The jump was really high and they soon were a hundred feet off the ground. When they were about to fall though, the young boy realized that he was actually as still as a rock on the ground: he was fluctuating in the air.
He turned towards the man at his side that was firmly grasping his shoulder who was sharing his power of flight with him. The man looked at him and seeing his shocked face he explained.
“This, little junior, is my power. You were absolutely right, your senior is indeed powerful, junior really has good eyes… This is the power of an Advanced Stage Cultivator!”
“This younger brother sure knows his ways with words, recognized my strength and even allowed me to show off in front of those ignorant people. As a reward I, Liu Biao, will personally escort you to the Mysterious Light-Shadow Sect!” With that, the man that called himself Liu Biao turned towards the tall walls in the distance.
He smiled and the boy felt a strong pull as they suddenly sped up, moving so extremely fast that the trees beneath them could not be clearly seen and the people below seemed even more like colored blurs.
In less than twelve breaths they had travelled quite a distance and reached the tall walls of the gigantic fortress. The fort spanned for many miles in both length and width and it was absolutely massive, so big that it could easily house at least a few million men while still having plenty of space left over.
“Young boy, Senior has given you his name, what is this little Junior’s name?” As they landed and started approaching the tall walls, Liu Biao also started to ask the youth beside him a few questions.
“Senior, this junior is called Cheng Hao and he comes from a mountain village in the south. This junior truly thanks Senior for his assistance and hopes to one day be able to repay kindness with even more kindness. For Senior is so strong, this measly junior truly doesn’t want to waste the great Senior’s precious time and thinks that for Senior’s best it is better to part ways here…”
Flattery was crystal-clear in the boy’s words, yet the older youth had already fallen for the young man’s soft schemes and sweet praises so much that he actually couldn’t bear to part with the boy. Because of that, he quickly disregarded the boy’s suggestion.
“Hahaha, this junior can call me big brother Biao and I will call you little brother Hao, how about it? No need for worries when we are brothers right? Onwards, let big brother help you easily pass the exam for the vacant disciples!”
Cheng Hao kneeled and his eyes glittered with excitement “Big… Big brother Biao…”
Seeing that, Liu Biao lifted his head upwards and laughed loudly to the sky. By doing so, though, he also missed the grin as well as the greedy expression that appeared for a really short time on the child’s face.
“Not yet…” Without being seen he hurriedly closed his front pocket where, for a moment, a golden blur could be seen…
A short while later… “Little Bro’ Hao, you wouldn’t by any chance have already started to cultivate, have you? Those trashy cultivation methods that ordinary peasants use could really harm your talent, as it is really difficult to change one’s method midway…”
“Sen- No, big brother Biao” Cheng Hao stuttered “How could have I? I am so young, how could I possibly have started to cultivate?” The child chuckled before his expression darkened.
“Our mountain village only had one cultivator, and that cultivator didn’t let even his closest of friends look at his cultivation method, let alone a small, poor and…” the child sniffed “Orphan child like me…” At that he gradually started to slow down and began to sob, a stream of tears also didn’t wait long before falling down the sides of his face.
“You… You are an orphan?” Liu Biao panicked when he saw Cheng Hao cry even more “Do not worry, you may have no parents, but now your big brother is here! Big brother will protect you from now on!” After saying that he tightly hugged Cheng Hao and let the boy cry his heart out on his robes.
After a long while, the child seemed to have finally calmed down and he looked at the older man “Big brother, thank you!”
Liu Biao grinned and pat the boy’s head “Now let’s go… I will make sure you pass that exam! You will join the Sect” Cheng Hao also looked determinately at the wall that was now only a few dozen step in front of them and nodded before starting to walk again.
“What do you mean he can’t join???” Liu Biao furiously banged his fist on the table that immediately got crushed into splinters. Thanks to his actions and fiery temper, all the people nearby had given up on their intentions and steered away as far as they could from the terrifying thirty-years-old young man
Sitting at the table was a middle aged man: he wore a white uniform with a single black stripe on it. The white robe meant he was yes, an Elder, but that single stripe showed he was only a Vacant Sect Elder.
Right when the table was destroyed, he found out that the power of this arrogant disciple was higher than his own so he could do nothing but pray that he would let the matter go.
“E-e-esteemed inner disciple, this boy is too young, we can’t possibly allow such a young kid in our sect, let alone the fact that we wouldn’t be able to measure his talent as martial power usually blossoms once a person reaches his teens!” The Elder tried to explain.
“Does it seem like I, your grandfather, gives a dog’s crap about your rules??? If I say crawl, you crawl, if I say bark like a dog, you bark and bring me back the stick I throw at you while at it, if I say my little brother will join the sect. He. Will. Join. The. Sect. Am I clear?” Facing Liu Biao’s, an inner disciple’s, cursing, the vacant Elder could only shut his mouth and not retaliate, hoping that he would eventually calm down…
“B-big brother, you don’t have to go as far… I-I will come back in a few years, how about it?” That much attention was unwanted. Cheng Hao also started to tug at the bigger boy’s clothing and urged him to stop, in vain…
“Look here, you WILL make Cheng Hao a sect disciple now, understand?” Liu Biao yelled.
“Big brother!” Cheng Hao urged
“Senior… I-I…” The Elder stuttered as he shook his head.
“Are you not listening to me?” Liu Biao was on the verge of exploding.
Cheng Hao gritted his teeth and finally spoke “Big brother, I will just take the test! There will be no problems if Junior can pass the new disciple acceptance exam, right?”
“Uh?” Both the examination elder and the Liu Biao looked at him and stopped arguing.
Finally, the enraged Inner Sect Disciple seemed to have calmed down “Little brother, you should know that there are traps and monsters waiting for you if you take the test… Are you willing to throw your life away???”
“I-I won’t die! Please big brother, just stop arguing!” Liu Biao was stunned and before he could say anymore, Cheng Hao walked towards the area besides where the middle aged vacant elder was sitting, stepped on the teleportation hexagram laid on the ground, the one that would bring him towards the test’s location, and vanished. Both the elder and Liu Biao looked at the fading teleportation hexagram blankly.
“Does he actually have strength even if he is so young? W-what cultivation does your little brother have?” The Elder managing the examination asked Liu Biao.
The black robes man paled “He… He… HE DOESN’T HAVE ANY!!!!!”
Both Liu Biao and the elder looked at the now almost completely gone hexagram with fright.
“NOOOOOOO!!!” Liu Biao tried to step on the hexagram before it disappeared but failed miserably and landed on the ground fiercely.
“STOP! Stop the new disciple acceptance exam!”
“I cannot! There is no way to access an occupied examination room once it is full! Now that it already holds a disciple in it, the exam has already started and unless he dies nobody else can go in!”
“Nooooooooo! Little Hao!!! Noooooooooooooo!”
Liu Biao started weeping on the ground and, while drowning in his grief, he didn’t notice that his belt had actually gotten lighter…
Author’s Note: Hey! Cookie here… How’s everybody doing? How am I doing so far? Tell me if you see something that doesn’t quite add up!
Actually… This might be pretty pointless. I have quite a few chapters stored up, so saying you don’t like the story or the characters isn’t gonna change anything. Sorry, you gotta stick with what I have.
Love ya all!