“So you have broken through to Basic stage already big brother? That’s amazing!”
Xiao Wu had just inspected Cheng Hao’s cultivation and had found out that her brother had broken through a whole stage in just the few days he had been into secluded mediation.
She had gone up by a level in a few hours as well when she first met Cheng Hao. However, that had been an exception as she had been enlightened thanks to the special scripture the boy had given her so it was partially also thanks to Cheng Hao.
He, on the other hand, didn’t have any help and had broken through multiple times in three days by himself! That was simply godly! In five days, he had grown from being a cultivation-less young boy into an Heaven-shaking, Earth-rending, genius!
“Yes. I had created this unique scripture in an Ancient Temple after being enlightened on Life and Death by its murals a long time ago. It has the power to rise my cultivation by a bit for every chant I can perform without committing a single mistake. One mistake means the loss of cultivation but it is no matter if you remember it all!” Cheng Hao grinned.
‘I also used some residue power from my first breakthrough, but if I say that she would be even more confused and shocked. After all, there aren’t many people able to store pure, formless, energy in their consciousness…”
Cheng Hao grinned and Xiao Wu also smiled. She had long since grown aware of how weird this brother of hers was and few things he did would be able to shake her more than what had happened on that first night.
His power when he had saved her from the cloaked thugs was no exception. That time she hadn’t just been shaken. She had almost been flung out of her shoes from the shock. It was different.
She had later learned that the incredible power he had shown had been thanks to a momentarily increase in cultivation. After coming out of secluded meditation and being surrounded by so much White Life and Black Death Qi, his cultivation had experienced a temporary boost.
At first she had thought ‘Of course, a Basic stage cultivator couldn’t be THAT powerful’
However, she later realised her thinking had been foolish. ‘If this is his power at a certain stage… Once he reaches an even higher stage than that, wouldn’t he become even scarier?’
Xiao Wu shuddered and had never been happier that Cheng Hao was her martial brother and not her arch-enemy. Still, memories of the black demon with pitch black and pristine white glowing eyes kept haunting her memories…
Cheng Hao seemed to have suddenly remembered something as he clapped his hands together. He looked at her straight in her eyes and with an excited voice he yelled “Show me!”
Xiao Wu was in a bit of a loss until she connected the dots. Her green eyes turned purple as they glowed.
“Brother, watch closely and prepare to amazed!”
Smilingly, she brought out the two Martial Ways, each one hovering above one of her hands. She focused for a bit and two illusory copies of the Martial Ways appeared. This new Black Dragon and White Tree orbited clockwise while the new Purple Moon orbited counterclockwise.
The two illusory copies of the treasures started to orbit around her in a circular way and when they reached ten laps, they both divided in two.
Four Martial Ways projections appeared around her. Slowly, the Martial Ways became first eight from four, then sixteen from eight. At that, the girl opened her eyes and looked at the boy with an arrogant gaze as if to say ‘I’ve beaten you, now what?’
Although her talent was not as high as the reborn Cheng Hao and her might was still nowhere as close as his, she still had the right to be arrogant. To multiply her cultivation separation skill by four in less than four days truly showed her talent.
Even Cheng Hao himself had presumed that it would take at least a month for it to happen.
Few times had he ever been so happy that he had miscalculated. Unfortunately, she didn’t have enough control over the two Martial Ways and thus could not use them in battle. If that weren’t the case, the dozens of Black Swords, White Shields and Body-Enhancing Purple Moons would surely have defeated the Zi clan’s members without any effort.
Unfortunately, she still didn’t have enough concentration to keep each of the sixteen Martial Way copies in their Black Sword and White Shield and Purple Moon forms. That was why she steeled with just one for each type.
Cheng Hao smiled with satisfaction, he ignored the gaze full of arrogance and instead focused on the quality of her True Martial Ways. They were both solid and real. That was the basic requirement for the transformation of the Martial Ways into the weapons and the moon, being tangible.
After all, it was pretty difficult to cut down enemies with illusions. He nodded and then instructed her “Sis, sit down” she complied and looked at him enthusiastically.
“You did what I asked so now it is my turn to keep my end of the bargain! With a slight smile he touched the girl’s forehead and a strand of Basic stage cultivation surged and entered her consciousness. The girl of course didn’t block it and instead guided it into the core of her consciousness by herself.
When she did that, burning pain came from her forehead as unfamiliar knowledge appeared in her mind but she endured it as she saw a stream of information appearing in her head all at once. They were tens of characters and the biggest of them all read out ‘Purple Moon Scripture’.
Cheng Hao couldn’t use this method earlier due to his cultivation being too low, but now his Basic stage cultivation base made up for the problem, letting him use the technique. This way, neither did he need to chant nor did the girl have to note the scripture down.
Xiao Wu immediately entered the cultivation state, her eyes grew lifeless and her breathing slowed down, as if she were sleeping. The young boy of course knew that wasn’t the case and left her cultivating in the room, leaving without disturbing her in the slightest.
He didn’t leave a strand of his will behind this time, but instead also headed to his room, laid on his bed and played around with his own Martial Way.
The tower was hovering above his palm, letting out bright rays of light that lit up the room. The first floor, freed from the chains and the locks that kept it close, had been available ever since he stepped into the Inferior stage… Now, with his newfound cultivation of the Basic stage, he could make an attempt at the second floor!
“Immortal Ascension Tower… Second Floor… My friend, I will make you wait a bit more as I have more important things to do!” A fierce expression appeared on his face as his eyes grew cold and killing intent filled the room.
A mask appeared in his left hand as he dismissed the bright tower. The mask only covered his mouth and the tip of his nose, but in their place a mouth with sharp teeth and blood trickling down was depicted. As he breathed, black and white fumes came out from the mouth’s sides. His hair also turned red due to the weird mask’s ability, while his eyes lost their golden color to turn back into their black and white appearances.
He got up and took a red robe from the wardrobe before flying out of the window and hurrying south: he was heading to the Zi clan mansion!
The Zi clan was actually a division of a pretty big clan, the Zhao Clan, and it was located only a few miles away from the Mysterious Light-Shadow Sect. It was basically an outpost to keep an eye on the said Sect, as some of the Main Branch’s Young Masters were disciples there.
In exchange for tributes and subservience, the Main Branch of the Clan would aid the Smaller Branch, so their relationship with the Main Clan was actually pretty stable. Due to that, few dared to clash their swords with the weak Zi Clan, as doing so would mean angering the monster that stood behind them.
That was also one of the reasons that, when a figure appeared in the middle of the Zi clan grounds and began slaughtering every person he crossed, the members were both astonished and terrified.
The person was small and looked like a child. Quite a few people, in fact, would have already either laughed at his attire, that seemed to have just come out from a horror stage play, or dismissed it as a child’s prank. Of course, that would have been so if the already red clothes hadn’t now turned even redder from the blood of the hundreds of people who had approached him.
His terrifying black and white eyes as well as the similarly black and white mist would have haunted the demon child’s victims’s nightmares. Why would? Because that would have only been if they had survived the encounter, of course.
At that moment, Cheng Hao was sitting on top of the throne located atop a long set of stairs in the Zi Clan Mansion’s Main Hall. He wasn’t sitting as much as he was laying on top of the golden chair, as relaxed as one could ever be.
As he did that, he couldn’t help but secretly praise in his mind.
‘This Zi clan sure has quite the sense of style… These halls and buildings are similar to those of the most conspicuous clans from a thousand years ago. I guess now these would be called vintage, uh? A thousand years is quite a long time after all…’
He turned his gaze towards the person next to the throne. He was really old, in his late eighties or early nineties, and he was currently looking at Cheng Hao with a concerned gaze.
Although Cheng Hao had chosen to wear red, mainly because it would match the color of his hair after he put the cursed mask on, any kind of robe would have been dyed red after bathing in the blood of so many.
The old man was the only survivor out of the massacre of the Zi clan, the only reason being that this old man was only the Zi clan’s groundskeeper, thus Cheng Hao had no enmity towards him. Furthermore, the old man had no cultivation, so he didn’t pose a treat and he spared no effort helping the young child after knowing Cheng Hao’s motive was to kill the Zi family.
The old man had a head full of long, white hair. Both his hair and white beard almost touched the ground, his brown eyes were sharp while his straight nose and big mouth gave him a somewhat heroic air.
Although his age was nearing the end of his life expectancy, his body was as straight as a spear and his muscles still bulged from beneath his clothes. Even though he didn’t have a cultivation, his frame could still be referred to as that only those who had trained for their whole life could ever hope to compare to.
“Young Master Cheng Hao, is something the matter?” Seeing the complicated gaze in Cheng Hao’s eyes the old man asked, worried.
The boy’s expression grew soft after hearing the concern in the man’s voice. They had talked quite a bit in the few hours that had passed after the massacre and he had come to know the old man’s situation.
Apparently, he was once the owner of this mansion, known as Lu Fang. He had a cultivation of the mid Sung stage and was also a local lord in the area. Unfortunately, he had offended the Zi Clan after refusing to marry his only daughter to the Clan’s young master. Thanks to the help from the Zhao Clan, the Zi Clan suppressed his own Lu clan.
This caused the current situation, where he had lost his cultivation and his whole family was exterminated. All except for his daughter whom got lucky enough to run away. Even his own mansion which had been passed down to him generation after generation was taken over by the greedy Zi Clan and he was humiliated when they gave him the position of groundskeeper.
Basically, he would have to throw out the trash that the people accumulated, clean their rooms the courtyards and the training grounds, wash their clothes and all sort of things not befitting of a previous Noble.
He still didn’t know up to today wether his daughter was still alive or not, so when he found out that Cheng Hao also had deep enmity with the Zi clan and wished for revenge, he spared no effort to aid him in his quest.
He even brought him to some secret chambers where Zi clan members had hidden, thus gaining Cheng Hao’s trust and friendship. Although the boy insisted not to, Lu Fang insisted on calling him ‘Young Master Cheng Hao’ anyways.
“Nothing. I was just thinking about how your ancestors had good taste when it comes to buildings and rooms. These things, I, Cheng Hao, like them a lot” the child chuckled as he propped himself up, smiling at the old man.
Hearing that, Lu Fang also nodded with enthusiasm “Young Master Cheng Hao truly has good taste in architecture! You see, these are palaces built a few hundred years ago, following the same pattern of those ancient buildings from a thousand years ago!”
‘So I was right… It is indeed in the same stile…’ Cheng Hao got his confirm that they were the same as what he had seen in his past life from the man’s words. He sighed reminiscing the past.
Finally he stood up and told to the old man beside him “If you give this palace for me to use, I will help you in gaining back your cultivation. You know what? Scratch that, I will also help you in breaking through!” The child smiled knowingly, a hint of amusement flashing deep into his eyes.
“Ahahah, my sides! Young Master Cheng Hao truly knows how to make jokes…” Hearing those words, the old man laughed at first, taking it as a joke before seeing the boy’s eyes had no hint of being amused and his voice was as serious as it could ever be.
“Young Master… Are you serious?” Lu Fang’s voice trembled in awe but also excitement.
“Do I have any reason to lie to you right now?” The young boy removed his mask and his red hair turned black again. His black and white eyes turned back into their golden appearance, the irises and the pupils becoming clear again.
A warm smile spread across his face as he spoke with the older man as if he were trying to convince a stubborn junior in believing in his words. Which, in his case, was actually not that far from the truth.
The old man trembled and bowed to the young man in front of him “If you really can do what you said, I, Lu Fang, will forever remember his debt with Young Master and follow the Young Master until my bones decay and my organs rot!”
Seeing such a devoted old man, Cheng Hao smiled “Stand up my friend”
As soon as the old man did, Cheng Hao put a hand on the older man’s broken cultivation base. Or should it be said sealed? That is right, the Zi family didn’t destroy old man Fang’s Dantian. Instead, they had actually dared to seal it!
It was probably because they thought that would humiliate him even more, as if they had still left him with an escape route but it was just too high to reach. Unfortunately for them, Cheng Hao had noticed this small detail as soon as he had shook the man’s hand when he had met him.
So, as soon as his hand touched the man’s abdomen, he poured wave after wave of his own Basic martial power. At first it had little effect and the old man’s previously excited expression had turned into disappointment. Nothing happened for more than ten breaths when the face of Lu Fang… lit up!
He could remotely feel the power of his cultivation base again! After ten more breaths Cheng Hao removed his hand and a golden mass of geometrical symbols hovered above it.
Every day ever since old man Fang’s cultivation had been sealed, he had been constantly trying to cultivate by meditating however all that had turned out to be useless, as the Qi would just accumulate without a chance for him to refine it.
Now that his cultivation base was slowly being unsealed, all that unrefined Qi in his cultivation base had begun to pour into him, making his cultivation slowly rise again! From the middle Sung stage to the high Sung stage and even to the peak Sung stage!
That was not all because with one final, big, push he had reached low Reverend stage!
“UUUUUOOOOOOOOOHHHH!!!” the old man’s body lit up with blinding light and the air trembled, as if to recognise the power of a man that would be revered by mortals and cultivators alike.
As it was a forced breakthrough, one without any sort of enlightenment, he wouldn’t be as powerful as those powerhouses that had instead broken through after understanding the mysteries of the world. However, he had still broken through!
It was such a pleasant feeling, as if he had gone to sleep as a beggar and had woken up as the Emperor of a country!
After all, even in the current Mysterious Light-Shadow Sect, the strongest individuals except for the head were mid Reverend stage martial artist!
This cultivation base that Lu Fang now held was such that virtually any power would try to lure him in! And all of this was thanks to the young man before him!
While tears streamed down the old man’s cheeks, Cheng Hao pat his back as a wide grin appeared on his face. Seeing the boy’s expression was clearly saying ‘I told you, didn’t I?’ Lu Fang trembled and kowtowed on the ground.
In His heart, Lu Fang secretly promised himself ‘From now on, I will leave for the only sake of helping this youth! Cheng Hao you have my deepest gratitude! This old man will not hesitate to risk his life to help you!’
In a battlefield a very long time ago, a man was humming an happy tune under the moonlight as he walked in a battlefield full of corpses. The stench of blood and the wails of the wounded seemed to have no effect on the man as he stepped over the dead bodies as if he was stepping on grass.
His steps followed the cheerful tune and, as he hummed, he also began to speak. The words were powerful and each sentence seemed enough to to shake one’s soul.
“Those who make an enemy out of my family, even for the smallest of things, shall not think of having any chances of escaping my surging wrath! Death and pain will stalk those who think of harming my friends and family! I will forgive those who harm me because of grudges, but I will leave no chances to those who harm those close to me!”
He lifted his head upwards as if the words that has just been spoken were a warning to the Heavens. He inhaled deeply and his golden eyes turned from menacing to gentle, as warmth and reminiscence appeared on his face.
“However. For those who follow me, I shall drink with them as brothers, no matter who they are, beast or human, I will call you brothers and sisters! We are brothers and sisters, and as brothers and sisters we will rule the world together! What is mine is yours, what is yours is ours. If you die, I will live for you. If I die, you will live for me! We are brothers and as brothers we live together and for our fallen comrades!”
A loud roar sounded out. A Golden Dragon thousands of meters long landed besides the man, blowing away the nearby corpses as it approached.
The wind currents, though, didn’t seem to affect the man at all as he looked up, a kind smile on his face. The Heavenly Beast bowed and let the man climb on top of him.
The man’s blue eyes narrowed as he muttered “Let us go, Blindlight, to save our brother.”
As soon as he heard that, the dragon kicked off the ground and flew in the air at incredibly high speed as the youth resumed his speech. His face was calm and composed and as he spoke, his words were warm and forgiving.
“Follow me, live as brothers and risk our life together. Resent me, I shall forgive you, for grudges cannot be resolved without corpses piling up and blood falling to the ground. I will let you vent your anger down, if it means dissipating the seemingly never ending-cycle of harming and being harmed… However!”
Fury and incredible rage appeared once again, his right and left eyes lit up, two flames of the opposite white and black colours appeared in his hands. In his left eye a battlefield appeared while in his right eye a black, bloodthirsty beast pleaded for blood as its body composed of a single set of shadowy jaws snapped open and close.
Two white and black lights appeared in the man’s left and right eye respectively, at the same time they did they also fused with the two images. The battlefield lost all color as only white outlines could be distinguished from the surrounding void.
The bloodthirsty beast seemed to have disappeared as the pitch black shadow surrounded it. Yet it did not vanish. No, it had instead fused with the pitch black darkness and had grown along with it. Where there was darkness, it was also there. The beast finally became so huge that black snapping mouths made out of gases came out from the man’s right eye, biting the air in front of him.
It wrapped around the tall figure as it transformed into a living cape made out of darkness itself, darkness that came from the man’s right eye itself.
The golden sun was the only thing that still retained its color in the illusory battlefield as it also moved out, becoming a huge golden wheel floating behind the man. At that moment, the man riding on the dragon looked like a mortal no more… He had become another being altogether, only a bit short to a true, warring deity!
“Resent my loved ones, live in terror for I, Xu Ling, will make sure: by the end of the night you won’t be breathing anymore, the dogs will be eating your corpses and your broken soul will flow on the yellow rivers of death! You, Ran Swordsmen, had been warned once before, and now I shall exact punishment!”
The voice could even be heard thousand of miles away. It wasn’t loud, yet it contained a weird power that didn’t let it fade away.
He then spoke “Follow Me And Live, Become My, No, Our Enemy… And Die!” The words came out so easily that it seemed as if he had already said them thousands of times already.
Such cold-hearted yet kind and heartwarming words were one of the traits Xu Ling was known for. It was his signature.
It was also one of the many reasons, people recognized him as both a demon and a saint… An Evil Saint!
Author’s Note: Who-hooo! Incredibly long chapter, the longest up until now, but it was worth it! Even more of Cheng Hao’s former self’s, Xu Ling’s, past appeared. And Cheng Hao also kicked ass in his new ‘Crimson Demon’ attire.
What else could you ask for? Uh? “More chapters” I hear you saying? Oh, you! Shut up, please, you are making me blush!