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Thread: Striking Heaven

  1. #1
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    Default Striking Heaven

    When I was reading the translations of Xianxia novels like Coiling Dragon, Douluo Dalu, Stellar Transformations, and others, I felt inspired to write something similar. My fanfic will probably be based mostly off of IET's Xianxia universe. However, it will incorporate elements from other novels, as well as my own elements. Like the aforementioned novels, my fanfic will be starting from the beginning of my protagonist's life, so it might start slowly, but I will do my best to keep it interesting. I am open to suggestions on how to improve my writing and develop my story, so please don't hold back. I'm not sure how long my chapters will be, but if you think they should be longer or shorter, please tell me.

    I hope you enjoy it.

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    Chapter 1: Demon Child

    A blood-red river flowed swiftly towards a waterfall that dumped endless pieces of human bodies into a giant lake.

    The stench of decaying bodies and blood filled the air.

    Upstream, there was a large plain. Above the plain hung a red mist of blood. On the plain lay countless dead bodies. In the center of the battlefield, there stood a single living human. His face and clothes were covered in blood, akin to a God of Battle.

    He removed a sword from the chest of one of the fallen warriors, and placed it a sheath at his side. Despite having been taken directly out of the heart of a human, the sword had no blood on it's blade. It was half white and half black.

    The blade's master looked into the sunset that had dyed the sky a multitude of colors: pink, purple, orange, and yellow. It was a breathtaking sight.

    Suddenly, the man disappeared from the plain.

    ***

    Decades passed. That day became known as Demon's Day, and on each anniversary of that day, the doors of homes in the Bai and Lu clans were closed, not to be opened again until the sunrise of the next day. Children born on the anniversary of Demon's Day were considered to have the worst luck, and were often abandoned by their parents.

    Before that day no person could have thought what happened possible. A single man had slaughtered all of the 50,000 elite soldiers from both the Bai and Lu clans. The Lu clan was considered to be the most mortal powerful clan on the whole Peng continent and was the ruling clan of the Yanse empire. They were fighting the Bai clan, who had started a rebellion against their rule. It could be said that both clans had the strength to challenge the greatest experts on the continent, who were powerful enough that normal people thought of them as gods. However, a practitioner that had enough power to completely obliterate the clan had appeared. He was by far the most powerful person on the continent, but as soon as the battle ended he had disappeared, giving no indication of his identity.

    ***

    In a distant corner in the far west area of the Peng Continent there was a small cottage. This part of the continent was inhabited by ferocious magical beasts, so humans rarely approached the area. Only the most powerful dared to go anywhere close to the area.

    Within the cottage there were two people. One was a woman of peerless beauty, and the other was a small newborn. A shadow approached the cottage. The shadow landed in front of the door, and a man walked in to a cottage.

    The man carried, in one hand, a large lion with many sword slashes, and in the other, a bloodless sword.

    The woman looked towards him with hopeful eyes, but the man shook his head.

    "I wasn't able to remove the curse. I only have a few days to live. Our son will have take his own path."

    The woman's eyes began to tear, and if sensing his parents sadness, the child began to cry. The man picked up his child, rocking him back and forth in his arms. The family seemed peaceful. However, the peace was broken by a loud roar that seemed to shake the entire world. The man look to his wife and said,

    "You cannot stay here any longer. It won't be safe. Go live in one of the mortal empires. Hide your power and your relationship to me, even from our son. If anyone found out that the Demon had a child, the Bai and Lu clans would not allow it to live."

    "Don't call yourself that. You are not a Demon, you are my husband and my child father."

    The couple left the cottage, the man still holding his child. A lion ten times bigger than the one the man had carried into the house appeared, stepping on and flattening the cottage in which they had been just seconds before. The two looked towards it calmly. The woman disappeared, reappearing in the same place less than a second later. Only now, she held the head of the lion in her hand. Blood poured down, but before it could reach the couple, they had disappeared.

    ***

    In a small, unassuming villiage in the Yanse Empire, the same woman now lived with her small son. He had black hair and piercing green eyes. The strange made him seem to be looking into one's soul.

    The ruling clan of the Yanse Empire was now the Huang clan, who had taken advantage of Demon's Day to seize power for themselves. However, the Yanse empire was no longer the largest or most powerful on the continent. The woman had named her son Zhi. He was now three years old, and had become the leader amongst his friend in the village. As soon as he had been able to walk, he had gathered all the children around his age, and had begun to cause endless troubles for the adults in the village. He had no idea who his father was. All he know about his father was that he had been a practitioner.

    "Mom, I'm back." Zhi arrived in an alley, covered in dirt and scratches, but with a huge smile on his face.

    His mother smiled at him, and said,

    "I wish you would play more carefully Zhi. Next time, can't you try to avoid getting hurt."

    She had told him this many times, but Zhi never changed.

    His mother was looked down upon by the other villagers because, despite her great beauty, she was very poor, and the two lived in an alley in the village as beggars.

    He continued to be a troublemaker, and he was often dragged home to his mother by the adult in the village, telling her to control her son. As punishment, his mother made him do harsh body training exercises. Each time, she would say how disappointed she was by him, but when the adults left, she would add,

    "Now you must train your body so that next time, you don't get caught."

    Once he became 5 years old, he was eligible to receive formal training from the village chief. Once he started receiving this training, his mischief making stopped entirely, as he started training all day. The way he saw it was that his mother was weak and poor, and that he needed to grow strong to support her when he grew older. Although he was only five, he was wise beyond his years. He was already thinking about his future. A strong practitioner could make as much money as a powerful merchant. He had been told that he was talented by the village chief, and his goal was to join one of the top practitioner schools on the continent. The only problem was that he didn't have enough money to go to the recruitment exam for practitioner schools in the main capital of the Yanse Empire. The village was nearly 50 kilometers away, so he would need to take a carriage. However carriages cost money, the exam cost money, and, most importantly, the top schools cost great amounts of money. Therefore, Zhi trained hard everyday so that he could get a scholarship when he was eight, old enough to take the tests. He quickly surpassed the other children his age, and could match people twice his age in combat practice. Three years passed in this manner.

    When he woke up on his eighth birthday, he was greeted by his mother. The two had a celebration, and when they were done, Zhi's mother gave him a gift.

    "Zhi, i know your desire is to go into the capital and take the exams for the practitioner schools. I have been able save enough money for you trip to the capital, but I cannot pay neither your exam fee, nor your tuition. You will have to figure out some way to get those for yourself. I am sorry I am so poor."

    Zhi realized the hardship his mother had to have put herself through to save the money for his travel.

    "Thank you, mother. You do not have to be sorry for anything."

    She handed him a sword.

    "This is all I can give you for your self-protection. It is a memento from your father. Please keep it with you at all times. I will stay here and await your return."

    Zhi could see tears in his mother's eyes. He knew his mother had loved his father very much. He took the sword from her hands, and hugged her. Wordlessly, she hugged him back, kissing him on the forehead. Then, Zhi left to get a carriage.

    As Zhi was leaving the village, the chief came up to the carriage to speak with him.

    "You are going to take the exams?"

    "Yes. My mother gave me money to get to the capital."

    "Do you have money for the exam fee?"

    "No. I plan on working in the city until the next exam to save money."

    "Good luck. The capital is not a utopia. Remember to make sure you don't get taken advantage of."

    "Thank you."

    The chief waited until the carriage holding the young boy disappeared.

    "It's really too bad his mother is so poor. He is truly extremely talented. If he goes to one of the great schools, I am sure his name could ring throughout the Peng continent. If his mother were a resident here, then this village would become famous and prosper."

    Zhi's carriage rolled down the small road leading out of the village, and onto one of the main roads into the capital. As the carriage moved along, Zhi began to inspect the sword he had received from his mother. The sheath was plain. The hilt of the blade was pure black. Zhi felt the weight of the sheathed sword in his hands. The weight felt perfect for Zhi's strength.

    'Unless father never reached a level above what I have reached when I am only eight, this blade has some kind of magic imbued in it to make it fit it's holder's strength,' though Zhi.

    He slowly unsheathed the blade. The blade was half black and half white, and the blade seemed as though it could cut through anything. It looked devilish in the low light of the carriage. The tip came out of the sheath, and a glint of light reflected into Zhi's eyes. Suddenly, Zhi was overcome with a wave of bloodthirstiness. His mind blanked out, and his arm raised the blade without his consent. The blade was controlling him.

    When Zhi awoke, he was still in the carriage, but the blade was not sticking through the front, into the area on which the driver sat. The carriage wasn't moving. Zhi quickly pulled the sword out of the wooden divide. There was no blood on the blade, which made Zhi relieved. However, the carriage was still not moving. Zhi called out to the driver.

    "Excuse me, why have we stopped?"

    There was no response. Zhi began to get shivers. Gripping the sword with all his strength, he stepped out of the carriage. It had veered off of the main path, rolling into a forest on one side of it. The driver was staring blankly ahead. The horses that had been tied tot he carriage were gone. Zhi walked up to the driver, and felt the man's neck for a pulse. He didn't have one. Zhi walked back up towards the main road with a blank look on his face. All he could think was that he had just killed someone. He became scared, not only of the blade in his hands, but also of himself. He began to hallucinate. The dead driver was coming back to life. He pointed an accusatory finger at Zhi.

    "You killed me. Demon."

    Zhi screamed and began running, but he tripped over his feet. Suddenly, the forest became alive. The trees, the grass, the birds all looked towards the boy. They began chanting.

    "Demon. Demon. Demon."

    Zhi was scared out of his wits, and stumbling forward, ran towards the main road.

    Zhi made it up to the edge of the main road barely holding onto his sanity, and, woken by the sudden noise, blinked. He began to think rationally.

    He began to walk down the road towards the capital. He began to come to terms with what happened. He realized that the driver had just been one life among billions, that the man's death was, in fact, advantageous to him. He no longer had to pay the man for the transport fee. However, he was still about a day away from the capital by foot.

    'No one has stopped, so it doesn't seem as if anyone noticed. I should probably not notify anyone about what happened. If I go to jail, who will support mother?'

    Zhi walked on the side of the road until sunset, and when it became dark, he stopped to sleep. As the child of a beggar, he was used to having very little food, so although he felt hungry, he could still endure.

    Two days later, Zhi finally arrived in the city, dirty and bloody. Although he had originally only been one day from the capital, he had met trouble. Magical beasts had seen the small boy, and though of him as an easy meal. Each time a beast attacked, Zhi would remove the sword from it's sheath. He would blank out, and when he awoke, the magical beast would be dead. However, what he thought was the strangest thing was that the blade never got any blood on it. Zhi had deliberately dripped blood on it, yet as soon as the blood got near the blade, the blood would disappear.

    Despite having killed many magical beasts, Zhi had not eaten anything since leaving his village.

    Once in the capital, Zhi went straight to the nearest street vendor and bought food. After gorging himself on shish kebabs, Zhi asked the vendor when the next practitioners exam was.

    "You're just in time, there's one tomorrow. If you go up the road over there, you should see a sign for it. Good luck."

    Zhi thanked the man, and set off in the direction he had been pointed in. He soon saw the sign the man had spoken of, and saw that he truly had been lucky, the applicants had to report themselves in just a few hours.

    Zhi quickly ran to the application desk.

    "I would like to apply for the test."

    Seeing this boy covered in blood and dirt, the desk manager was surprised. Normally, the applicants were rich, and even for the poor applicants, their parent usually saved up a lot of money so that their children would be presentable on exam day.

    "Are you sure you have enough money?"

    Zhi handed all of the money his mother had given to him over to the desk manager. The desk manager looked at the money, took what was needed for the application, and handed the rest back to the boy.

    "Fill out this sheet."

    Zhi took the sheet from the man, but then stopped.

    "Excuse me sir, I don't have anything to write with."

    "Oh. Here, take my pen."

    Zhi began filling out the form. It started by asking for his name and the names of his immediate family. Zhi didn't know his father's name, but he filled in his mother's name. His mother, like Zhi, had only one name. She was called Feng. The rest of the form asked asked for his home village, his age, and things like that. Once he turned in the form, the manager handed him a badge.

    "This is proof of your application. Don't lose it, or you won't be able to take the exam tomorrow. Why don't you go to a tavern, have a good meal and a bath before the exam tomorrow? There is a tavern that is made especially for the exam applicants, and applicants get a 50% discount. It's mostly funded by the practitioner schools. It's called The Flying Eagle." Zhi smiled and thanked the manager. He walked back to the vendor, and bought some more food.

    "Do you know where The Flying Eagle is?" asked Zhi.

    The vendor pointed Zhi in the direction of the tavern, and Zhi once again thanked him for the directions.

    Once he arrived at The Flying Eagle tavern, Zhi walked in, and showed the money to the clerk.

    "Will this be enough for one night? I am taking the exam tomorrow."

    "Sure, it's enough. Do you have the badge to prove your identity." Zhi flashed his badge, and the clerk gave him a room key.

    "You can get supper tonight and breakfast tomorrow morning. I hope you enjoy your stay."

    Zhi had already eaten, but he wasn't one to pass up food. He went to eat supper. However, once he reached the dining area, he began to feel extremely out of place. All the other children were with their parents and were wearing acceptable clothing. He was alone and in torn rags. When he walked in, all the eyes in the room swiveled towards him. He did his best to ignore them, but they all followed him with their eyes. He remembered that moment in the forest, and felt as though he was about to throw up. He suddenly raced out of the dining hall and into his room. He buried himself in the bed, and fell into a fitful sleep.

  2. #2
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    Chapter 2: The Exam

    In Zhi's dreams, he was back in the forest. Only now, he was watching himself walk along the main road. He moved to get closer to himself. Suddenly, the other him turned, and Zhi stared into his own eyes. The other Zhi pulled out his sword, and his eyes turned red, his teeth grew into fangs, and horns began to grow on his head. Zhi was terrified of himself. He began to run from himself, but the other him was faster than he. Zhi felt a pain in his chest, and when he looked down, a sword was buried in his chest. Although blood was flowing out, staining his shirt crimson, the blade was clean. Zhi’s killer had turned into a devil, laughing at Zhi’s death.

    Zhi woke in a cold sweat. It was very early in the morning, but Zhi didn’t want to back to sleep, fearing that if he did, he would have the same dream. He had though he had come terms with his killing, but apparently he had not.

    Zhi walked into the dining hall. Fortunately, it was early enough that there were less people than had been there the night before. He sat at a small table by himself. Some other children who had seen him yesterday walked to him to try and figure out what was wrong with him, but their parents quickly dragged them away.

    “Don’t get involved with such a strange child. It might rub off on you.”

    Zhi stared straight ahead with dead eyes, and he looked so creepy that even the waiters were afraid to go near him. Finally, one of the older waitresses plucked up the courage to go near him.

    “Sir, what would you like?”

    Zhi didn’t respond for a while. He slowly turned his head toward the waitress, and once his eyes settled on her, he started, as if just noticing her for the first time.

    “I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention. Can you repeat that?”

    “I asked what you would like.”

    “Oh. What is there?”

    “Ah! I’m sorry. Nobody gave you a menu. I’ll go get one for you now.” The waitress scurried off, returning a minute later with a menu. She waited as Zhi looked over it. He ordered food, and while he waited, he looked around the room, observing the children he assumed that he would be taking the exam with. As he looked around the room with a piercing gaze, many parents tried to shield their children from his eyes. His food arrived, and he began eating. Whispers started to flood the room.

    “What a barbarian! He’s eating with his bare hands! Did he grow up in an alley or something?”

    Due to his being a practitioner, Zhi could hear them, and his face reddened with embarrassment. He had never been able to use utensils before, as his mother had been too poor.

    Once he finished his food, he immediately walked out of the dining hall, and ran to the place where the exams were being held. He went up to one of the people who was guarding the area in which the exam would be held.

    “Excuse me, I’m here for the exam.”

    “You’re a little early, but you can go over there to the waiting room. In a couple hours the exam will start.”

    “Thanks ma’am.”

    Zhi walked over to where the guard had pointed, and sat down. He hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before, and quickly dozed off. He didn’t dream at all.

    As people began filing into the room in which Zhi was, they were surprised to see someone sleeping right before one of the most important moments of their life. They were annoyed with the boy who seemed so nonchalant, as if he were absolutely confident of being accepted into one of the major schools. One of the kids who recognized Zhi from the tavern went up to Zhi and slapped him in the face.

    “That’s what you get, you cocky bastard!” He was about to walk away when he noticed something. Zhi was still asleep.

    “What?” People around the room began to murmur. Who was this kid who took a slap to the face and slept straight through it?

    “The boy who had slapped him must be a weakling. Otherwise how would it be possible?”

    Hearing someone say this, the boy became enraged.

    “Wake up you stupid *****!” He was about to knee Zhi in the face when he unexpectedly stopped being able to move. A guard had noticed the commotion and cast a spell on the boy, restricting his movements. Meanwhile, Zhi continued to sleep, oblivious to the uproar he had caused.

    Once Zhi finally awoke, the exam was about to start. The examinees were too busy preparing for the test to pay Zhi any more attention. Zhi had no idea how the tests worked, so he just sat on the bench, waiting. Nevertheless, he unwittingly attracted unwanted attention from the others by doing so.

    “That arrogant bastard. He doesn’t even think he needs to prepare at all. He must be thinking that this test will be easy.” While most of the examinees were eight year olds, some were older children who had failed the year before. Seeing Zhi’s behavior, how could they not grow upset?

    Finally, one of the guards informed the children that the test was starting, and that they would be called into the testing rooms. There were 12 rooms in total. The great schools needed to protect their testing methods so that smaller sects weren’t able to get the same level of talent as they could. Therefore, only the examinee was allowed into the room. After a child’s name was called, they wouldn’t come back to the waiting room. There were a few hundred children who had signed up for the test, so the wait was tedious. Usually, each child took 15 minutes to complete his test. Zhi waited vigilantly for his name to be called, however the names were called order of how early they had signed up, so Zhi would be one of the last.

    While Zhi was waiting, a boy who looked about the same age as him came up to him.

    “Hey. You were pretty cool earlier.”

    Zhi was confused.

    “What are you talking about?” Zhi couldn’t remember doing anything noteworthy in front of this person.

    “That kid slapped you in the face, and you just slept right through it. You really didn’t feel anything?”

    “There was a kid slapped me in the face? Where is he? I need to return the favor!”

    “You just missed him. He was the kid whose name was called a couple before the last one.”

    Zhi was annoyed. Some person had just come up to him and slapped him for no reason? He had no idea what he could have done to provoke anyone.

    “Anyways, what’s your name? I’m Lu Kong. I’m the 35th in line for the head of the Lu clan.”

    “I’m Zhi. And why bother mentioning that you’re 35th in line? It’s not like the 34 people before you are just going to all randomly die, leaving the title to you.”

    The boy smiled deviously.

    “You don’t know that. The current head was the 27th in line. After the Demon killed 50,000 of our clan’s troops, there has been constant infighting. He really messed things up for our family.”

    Zhi unconsciously flinched when Kong said “Demon.”
    Kong, noticing this asked,

    “What’s wrong? Don’t tell me you’re from that despicable Bai clan?”

    Zhi shook his head.

    “I'm fine. I'm not from the Bai clan; I don’t have a clan. My name is Zhi.”

    Kong nodded. Not having an official last name was common, as only those who were part of clans could get them. The two continued to make small talk as more and more children filed out of the room, into the room where they would be judged. Eventually, Kong was called.

    “Good luck.”

    “Thanks. You too. I hope we get into the same school. If we do, I’ll pay for your tuition. That ought to bother the old geezers back at home.” Laughing, Lu walked off.

    Zhi was dumbfounded. This person who he had just met had offered to pay his tuition! Zhi believed that Kong was completely serious too. He hadn’t acted as though he were making the promise jokingly.

    “Hmph. As if the Lu clan could waste one paying for some peasant’s tuition.” Another boy suddenly spoke up.

    “Huang, you bastard, shut your conceited mouth. Just because you took advantage of my clan’s weakness to steal our power doesn’t make you better than us!”

    “Oh really? Well, who’s sitting on the throne, the Lu clan or the Huang clan?”

    The two boys seemed about ready to attack each other when a guard came in.

    “Lu Kong, if you don’t come in now, your turn will be forfeit.” Lu quickly ran to the guard.

    “Yeah that’s right you damn Lu, you run away and cower at the power of the Huang clan.” The boy continued to taunt Kong. Zhi became upset that someone was making fun of his new friend, but he felt that Kong should take care of his own problems. Zhi didn’t want to provoke the most powerful clan in the country.

    Finally, when just seven people were left, Zhi’s name was called. He nervously got up from the bench. He gripped his father’s sword tightly to his chest and prayed for his help. Then he ran into the examination room.

    The room was large and circular, but empty. The floor was a range of colored tiled, and in the middle of the room lay a jade circle with eight carvings on it. Each carving represented one of the elements. Zhi was instructed to move into the middle of the circle. He could feel the eyes of the people from the many schools looking at him. He was anxious, but determined to impress. Once he stepped into the center of the circle, the eight carvings released multicolored lights, and as soon as they died down,

    “Please put down your weapon.” A voice came from nowhere.

    Zhi slowly placed his sword on the floor.

    “Are you ready?” Zhi took a deep breath.

    “I'm ready.”

    As soon as he spoke, Zhi felt pressure being applied to his body, somewhat restricting his movements. A ball of flame flew towards him. Leaping out of the ball’s path, Zhi noticed more flaming projectiles closing in on him. He continued to leap away from them, but under the extra pressure, he couldn’t quite get perfect control of his body, so he was scorched quite a few times. After he was hit for the 13th time, Zhi’s body adapted to the pressure, and the exercise became pointlessly easy. As soon as his body adapted the fireballs stopped. He was instructed to move back to the center of the circle.

    A few seconds later, Zhi began to feel pressure on his spirit. He pushed against it with all his might, but the pressure gradually grew to great for him to endure and he was forced to his knees.

    If Zhi had been in a pitiful state before, with his rags for clothes, he now looked like he had been so broke for so long that he hadn’t been able to buy food or clothes in years. He had quite a few burns on his body, and he was sweating profusely from the harsh spiritual attack.

    A beam of light fell on his head, and his injuries were instantly healed.

    “Are you okay?”

    This part of the test had only taken 5 minutes. Zhi know that he still had to endure more ordeals.

    “I'm fine. Please continue the test.”

    The room became pitch black. Suddenly, Zhi sensed an attack coming towards him. He tried to leap out of the way, but he fount that his feet couldn’t move. He dodged at the last moment, and once he felt the attack go by him, the presence disappeared. Attacks continued to come at Zhi in this manner, with the presence appearing moments before the attack landed. Zhi’s clothes continued to be tattered even more than they had been originally, but no attacks directly landed on his body. There was no pressure on his body, and Zhi had done similar training with the village chief. After a couple minutes, the attacks stopped and light returned to the room. Zhi looked around for the attacker, but there was no one there.

    A few seconds after the lights came back on, Zhi felt a new pressure. He was being attacked mentally. Zhi’s mental state was, unfortunately, not particularly good, as he was still afraid of his nightmare. Therefore, he was weak to the mental pressure and quickly succumbed and was fell to his knees. Images of the dream flashed in front of his eyes, making him want to throw up, but he refused to show such weakness in front of the examiners. A light again shone on his head, removing the stress from his mind, but Zhi still felt muddled. He wasn’t going to be ready for the next test.

    The voice resounded through the room.

    “Are you okay?”

    Zhi took a deep breath. He couldn’t afford to lose face now.

    “I'm fine.”

    “The final part of this test is coming. Are you ready?”

    “Yes.” Thankfully, the test wouldn’t last much longer.

    This time, nothing happened to the room, and Zhi couldn’t sense any attacks. A voice different from the one Zhi had heard before rang out.

    “What is good?”

    Zhi was confused. Why would this kind of question be part of the exam?

    “Good is being righteous, to do your best to make the world a better place each day. Good is to value and respect yourself and others.”

    “I'm not asking what a person must do to be good. I'm asking what is good.”

    Zhi wasn’t sure what the difference was, but he tried to answer the question.

    “Good is the path one should take in his life.”

    “You are still not answering the question I am asking. Well, it’s fine. I don’t expect you to have the answer right now. I have another question.” The voice paused.

    “What is evil?”

    Zhi was even more confused right now. He had no idea what the voice could want as an answer. He was worried that he had failed the test because he had not given the answer the voice was looking for. He thought for a while before responding to the second question.

    “Evil is the opposite of good. Evil is doing deeds that hurt people, things like killing, lying, or stealing.”

    “So are you evil?”

    “What?”

    “I asked, are you evil?”

    “No!” Zhi had no idea what the man was talking about, but he certainly didn’t think of himself as evil.

    “So are you telling me that you have never lied, killed, or stolen?”

    Zhi felt as though he had been struck by lightning. He had. So if he had done those things, how could not be evil. It wasn’t as if he felt he had been doing those things for a good reason. He had been hungry so he stole. He hadn’t wanted to get in trouble so he lied. And he killed the carriage driver for no reason other than that the sword had forced him to. So how could he not be evil? Zhi began doubting himself. The voice that had been directing him before broke through his thoughts.

    “Please exit to your right. There you will be given offers to join schools. Thank you for participating in this year’s exam.”

    Still mulling over the questions he had been asked, Zhi proceeded to his right, into the next room. Waiting for him was 15 people separated into 3 groups, sitting behind 3 tables. Zhi moved to the center of the room, waiting. 30 eyes rested on Zhi’s face, and under their gaze, Zhi shivered. Who would give him a scholarship with such a poor performance?

  3. #3
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    Chapter 3: Farewells

    The 15 people were silent and they looked between each other. They were all waiting for another school to make and offer to the boy first. Because no one was talking, Zhi became even more nervous. He was beginning to think that he wouldn’t even get an offer, much less a scholarship. A man to Zhi’s left started writing. He handed an attendant the paper, and the attendant ran over to Zhi with it.

    “My lord has made you an offer.” The attendant handed Zhi the paper. Seeing this, a woman at the table on Zhi’s right frowned, and began writing an offer of her own. Her attendant ran it down to Zhi. He tried to hand it to Zhi, but Zhi hadn’t even noticed him coming down. He was staring at the original offer with shaking hands.

    “This-this is an offer to become an official member of the Heaven’s Sand sect!” The many practitioner sects ran the major schools, so getting into one of the sect was the same as getting a scholarship and, in addition, getting the backing of a major power. The Heaven’s Sand sect was one of the most prominent of the good sects. Zhi had actually exclaimed aloud, and when he did, many of the people sitting behind the desk got ugly looks on their faces. The woman who had made the second offer called back her attendant. She immediately began scribbling a new offer.

    Zhi began to speak, trying to say that he would accept the offer.

    “I acce-”

    “Young man, why don’t you consider all of your options before accepting one offer?” A man from the middle table interrupted Zhi. Zhi instantly recognized his voice as that of the old man who had asked him the questions during the test. Suddenly, the room grew silent, and all eyes swiveled towards him.

    “You old dragon, don’t tell me you will match my offer!” The man from the Heaven’s Sand sect broke the silence after a minute. “There’s no way the Dragon’s Art sect would allow an outsider to become an official disciple!”

    The old man smiled.

    “For this boy, I will make an exception. Does anyone have any objections?”

    No one else spoke.

    “Well then, will you accept my offer young man?”

    Zhi saw that all of the representatives of the many sects were afraid of this old man. He had never heard of the Dragon’s Art sect, but if the most prominent clans on the continent were afraid of them, then becoming one of their disciples would benefit him greatly.

    “I accept you generous offer. However, before leaving, I would like to visit my mother to assure her of my safety.”

    The old man chuckled.

    “Fine. Here, take this money. It should be enough to pay for your carriage fare from here to your village and back.” The old man threw Zhi a sack of money. How long will it take for you to come back?”

    “I’ll be back in three days.”

    “If you are even a minute late, I will be leaving without you. Go quickly.”

    Elated, Zhi ran out with the sack of money. He could hardly believe his good luck. Once he had left, he caught a glimpse of Lu Kong.

    “Hey, Kong, how was your test? Did you get into any of the schools?”

    “Yeah! I was lucky and got into the Flying Shadow School. I will someday stand at the top of their sect and restore honor to my clan’s name. Perhaps I will even be able to defeat the Demon who shamefully attacked my people when they had done nothing to wrong him.”

    The Flying Shadow sect was the most prominent of the evil sect. Kong must have been truly skilled to be accepted into their school. However, his luck couldn’t even be compared to Zhi’s.

    “How did you do?”

    “I was accepted into the Dragon’s Art sect.”

    Kong could do nothing but gape. The Dragon’s Art sect! It was considered the most powerful clan on the continent, but it was also the most selective. They valued quality far more than quantity. Kong collected himself.

    “Zhi, I am sure that you will become a prominent master. At that time, please remember this humble Lu Kong!”

    “How could I forget someone who treated me so well? Of course I will remember you. In return, remember me when you reach the peak of the Flying Shadow School.”

    “Of course.”

    Thus the two youngsters set off in their own directions, each with their own dreams.

    Zhi, having had a bad experience the last time he rode a carriage, was uneasy about riding one again. He told himself that this time he would know not to take out his sword, but he was still not convinced that it would be safe. However, there was nothing he could. He only had three days to go home and come back. He would need a carriage to make it on time.

    “I need to take the fastest carriage service to Swallow Village.” He spoke to the man at the desk of the carriage service.

    Peering down at the youth with tattered clothes, the man was skeptical.

    “Do you have money?”

    Zhi fished a coin out of the sack the old man had given him.

    “Is this enough?”

    Seeing the coin Zhi held out, the man’s eyed bugged out. Zhi hadn’t really paid any attention to what was on the coin, he had thought they were just normal coins. Upon closer inspection, though, he would have discovered that each coin had a carving of a dragon.

    “S-sir, are you a part of the Dragon’s Art Sect?”

    “Yes. I was accepted as a disciple today.”

    The man’s face became white.

    “I’m so sorry young master. Please forgive this servant’s rudeness. You may have our fastest carriage service for free. What a great blessing it is for a member of the great Dragon’s Art sect to visit this poor shop.”

    Zhi was amazed. Just by showing this man one coin, he had become so respectful. The secrets of the Dragon’s Art sect were becoming more and more mysterious by the minute.

    Zhi’s carriage ride took less than half a day. When he arrived back on the village, he was greeted by the shouts of the village children whom he had grown up with.

    “Hey, it’s Zhi! He’s back from the exam.” Crowds of children rushed towards him.

    “Hey, Zhi, did you make it into any of the schools?” One of the children asked the question that was on all of their minds.

    “No. I didn’t make it into any of the schools.”

    The children’s shoulders drooped. They were obviously looking forward to being able to brag that a child from their village had gone to a school of one of the major sects. Of course, they were unaware that Zhi’s mother’s situation prevented him from being a true resident of the city.

    A grin spread across Zhi’s face.

    “I may not have gotten into any of the schools, but my luck was even better than that. I became an official disciple of the most powerful clan on the continent!”

    The children were dumbstruck. An official disciple? Of the most powerful sect on the continent? Just how great was their friend?

    By this time, the village chief had arrived at the scene. Overhearing Zhi’s statement, he couldn’t help but be surprised. Although he had known Zhi’s potential was great, he had never expected that he would be accepted as an official disciple. Collecting himself, he shouted to the boy.

    “Congratulations Zhi! So which sect did you get into? The Radiant Jade sect? The Flying Shadow sect?” He had just listed the two leaders of the good and evil sects.

    Zhi shook his head. The village chief was confused. He had named the most prominent sects on the continent. How could Zhi say that the sect he had been accepted into was the most powerful on the continent if it was not one of these two?

    “I was accepted into a clan that even those two great clans fear. It’s called the Dragon’s Art sect. Chief, have you ever heard of it?”

    The chief shook his head.

    “Well, why don’t you go see your mother, Zhi? I'm sure she’ll be very proud that her son was accepted to be an official disciple of one of the great schools.”

    Zhi, laughing, ran to the alley where he had grown up.

    “Mother, mother, guess what? I have become an official disciple of the Dragon’s Art sect!”

    “That’s great honey! Your mother’s really proud of you. When you become a prominent master, don’t forget your poor mother.” Zhi’s mother’s voice came from the shadows.

    “What? Mother, you have heard of the Dragon’s Art sect?”

    Zhi’s mother smiled.

    “Of course. A beggar’s ears are always open. The Dragon’s Art sect is the most powerful sect on the continent, and the powers they use are the most profound out of all the clans. I’ve heard that a Dragon’s Art practitioner can defeat any being on the same level as they are, even the Supreme Divine Beasts.”

    Zhi was amazed. Not only was his mother far more knowledgeable than he had ever known, but this new information astounded him. Even a Supreme Divine Beast on the same level would be no match for him? Supreme Divine Beasts had a great advantage over other practitioners. Non-Immortal Supreme Divine Beasts could easily kill lower-level immortal humans. How profound were the teachings of the Dragon’s Art sect?

    “Mother, I must rush back to the capital. One of the representatives of my sect it waiting for me back in the capital.”

    “Of course. I can only impart a little advice before you leave. Never forget to pay back your debts. If someone helps you or your friend, make sure you help them of one of their friends. Conversely, if anyone kills one of your friends… make sure they die. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. Know that your heart is as important as your head. If you have to decide between saving your girlfriend and your master, either choice is good, don’t feel bad wither way.”

    “Mother, what are you saying, I don’t have a girlfriend!” Zhi blushed furiously. His mother laughed.

    “I know, but at the rate you are growing, it’ll be no time until the girls flock to your side.”

    Zhi stayed hat he knew would be his final night sleeping in the alley with his mother. The next morning, the village had a banquet at which every villager congratulated Zhi and gave him a gift. Witht these gifts, Zhi was able to replace his tattered clothes.

    Finally Zhi knew it was time to leave. He embraced his mother, and she kissed his forehead.

    “Goodbye mother. I’ll be sure to visit you whenever my master allows.”

    “Of course. I’ll always stay right here, awaiting your return.” As Zhi turned to leave, the two had tears in their eyes.

    Zhi got back onto his carriage and rode out of the village as his childhood friends waved and shouted goodbyes after him.

    “Feng, would you like a house? It’s completely free.” The village chief was offering Zhi’s mother a place of residence so that when her son’s fame resounded throughout the continent, the town’s name would be famous for being the place he grew up. Even he might be able to ride on Zhi’s coattails for being the person who trained him until he was eight.

    “Hmph, as soon as my son becomes a disciple of a powerful sect, you want me to become an official resident of this town? You only care about gaining fame for this village by riding on my son’s waves. I told him I would be waiting for him right here, so I'm not moving an inch.” Zhi’s mother flatly denied him, not even considering for a moment.

    The village chief saw that she would not be convinced. He left her ally disappointed. His best chance at gaining fame for this poor village had left. Regardless, he still clung onto the hope that Zhi would remember the town he grew up in.

    Zhi’s mother, however, had different plans. She didn’t want Zhi’s fame to be bound to this tiny town. As an extremely powerful practitioner herself, she didn’t want Zhi’s name to be bound to things in the mortal world, or to have him feel an obligation to the mortal world. She wanted him to focus on becoming a practitioner that could outshine even her or her husband. He had already taken the first step. The teachings of the Dragon’s Art sect were extremely profound, and if Zhi could master them, then he might even become powerful enough to ascend to the realm of the gods.

    Zhi’s carriage ride back to the capital was uneventful. However, once he entered the capital, he was greeted with a sight that he never could have expected. He was greeted at the capital gate by a large group of people. Stepping out of the carriage, he was asked whether he was the new disciple of the Dragon’s Art Sect. When he replied that he was, a cheer erupted from the gathering. People were calling out to him, wishing him good fortune. Suddenly, all cheering stopped, and a small procession of people made a hole in the gathering, allowing a man to walk through. Zhi could see from the man’s clothing that he was very important. The gathering began to whisper among themselves, staring at the man in wonder.

    “Young man, your name is Zhi, correct.”

    “Yes.”

    “I am the clan leader of the Lu clan. I heard you met my nephew Kong, who is now going to the Flying Shadow School.”

    “Yes, that’s right. He was very pleasant, and I hope we can meet again under amiable terms.”

    The man smiled widely. His son had done well to befriend this young man. A sustained friendship between his nephew and Zhi would spell renewed fortune for his Lu clan.

    “Seeing as you two are friends, I would like to invite you to visit our humble clan on his behalf. Kong has done nothing but talk about you since his return, I'm sure he would love to see you.”

    Zhi was happy to hear his friend was doing well, and was pleasantly surprised to be invited to visit such a famous clan. But he could not accept.

    “Unfortunately, the representative of the Dragon’s Art sect said that I must meet him today to go to their headquarters. Otherwise I would absolutely take you up on our offer. I’m sorry.”

    The Lu clan’s leader momentarily frowned, but quickly regained his smile.

    “I'm sorry to hear this, Kong will certainly be disappointed. However, there is nothing that can be done. Why don’t you come visit some time in the future, when you and Kong are given a break from your training?”

    “I would love to.” Zhi cheerfully agreed to visit the Lu clan in the future. He certainly wanted to see his friend once again.

    The clan leader was also satisfied with the promise to visit in the future. Although his nephew being in the Flying Shadow sect’s school would raise their status, they already had people in the top schools of the continent. Despite their long history, they had not had a single person accepted as an official disciple. Therefore, having a relationship to an official disciple of the Dragon’s Art clan would still raise their status.

    “I wish you luck, and may your future be boundless.”

    “Thank you, esteemed senior. Stay in good health and have good fortune.” Zhi and the clan leader exchanged goodbyes, and Zhi set off to find the Dragon’s Art sect’s representative. He went to the examination area, and after going into the place where he was recruited, he found not only the Dragon’s Art clan’s representative, but the other 14 representatives as well. They had been hoping Zhi would be late, and they could snatch him up after the Dragon’s Art sect’s representative had left.

    “Are you ready to go?”

    Zhi nodded, and the old man picked him up, and the two disappeared.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum. Look forward to reading you work

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