Written by Tinalynge & Blue Jay
Edited by ONI_Ghost
Beta read by OEE
The sun cast down its fiery red rays upon the clouds. Half of the sun had sunk under the horizon, and as the sun’s rays were cast over Jinwei village, the entire place seemed dyed a beautiful shade of red.
A bustle of activity could be seen throughout the small village as the men came back from their trips into the forest where they hunted beasts and searched for magical herbs.
Although it was just a small forest, beasts could still be found within, and some of them were even able to cultivate and had formed inner cores. These types of beasts were especially tricky to deal with. Even when the villagers attacked in groups, there were risks with trying to kill an enlightened beast.
Inside Jinwei village, women walked in tow with their children to pick up food for their evening meals. They were coming back after having spent the day tending their fields or harvesting fruits and berries at the edge of the forest.
It was a warm summer evening, and inside one of the smaller houses, a young boy sat in bed. A blanket covered his fragile body as he looked out the window.
This boy seemed otherworldly as he was simply breathtakingly beautiful. His face was oval and perfectly shaped, his phoenix-like eyes were slanted upwards, and his jet black hair was neatly tied up in a bun.
He wore simple linen clothes, but these did not seem to do justice to his otherworldly appearance.
His eyes resembled two bottomless pits, as they stared out the window observing everyone who passed by.
From time to time some of the passing people would wave to him, but the majority completely ignored the delicate boy who was seated in bed.
This was the Kingdom of Zhanshi in the Tiandi continent. It was a small kingdom on the outskirts of the continent, and as the name implied, it was the place where every man wished to become a warrior.
In the Tiandi continent, there were two cultivation methods: one was Qi cultivation, the other soul cultivation. While both were equally admired, cultivating one’s Qi was much more common than cultivating the soul. Normally poor people could only hope to cultivate their Qi, whereas their souls would, almost always, be their weakness.
Every man in the village of Jinwei was able to cultivate to the first tier in the Qi cultivation system. This level was usually referred to as the Earth Rank. There were seven stars within each rank, and the villagers knew of the Earth, Sky, Star, and Moon rankings.
To these commoners, the Moon Rank was already a mythic existence that none of them could ever dream of, yet legends mentioned that there were ranks even higher than that!
On the continent of Tiandi, there were humans, demons, spirits, and beasts. The beasts and humans flourished by reproducing rapidly and were both capable of cultivating; therefore, the majority of inhabitants on the continent were humans and beasts.
Spirits were much rarer. They were created by nature and took thousands and thousands of years to form. Spirits were ethereal and beautiful; they were naturally gifted when it came to cultivation, but the ones endowed with the greatest gifts were assuredly the demons.
Demons were blessed with the most outstanding natural talent for cultivation. Whereas beasts could only cultivate Qi and spirits could only cultivate the soul, humans and demons cultivate their strength as they wished.
Luo Xiao sighed. He thought about many things while he looked out of the window, but when he heard the door to his house open, he straightened his posture and slowly climbed out of bed.
“Little Xiao!” a middle-aged man exclaimed when he saw him. “My dear, why are you out of bed? You should hurry back under the covers before you catch another cold. You know you are weak, and you just got over the flu. If you don’t stay in bed, you will become sick again!”
The man sounded harsh, but Luo Xiao knew that he was not too serious. This man was his father, Luo Guang. Their family just consisted of the two of them, and Luo Xiao had never heard anything about his mother. Although he had asked his father twice about this issue, he dared not ask again after seeing the expression his father made after hearing his question.
“Father, do you think that I can try cultivating with the other children?” Luo Xiao asked gently, but upon hearing his words, his father immediately shook his head. “You are not strong enough!” he exclaimed, and Luo Xiao knew that his father was probably correct so he couldn’t really disagree.
Sighing, Luo Xiao went to eat the food that his father cooked for him, and after talking about how his harvest had gone for the day, he returned to bed. Once more he stared out at the village, watching the lights in each house slowly light up as the day came to an end.
Luo Xiao was weak from birth. He was lithe, and although he was fifteen-years-old already, his body was fragile and it looked as if it had been carved from a piece of beautiful jade.
Because he sat motionless in his bed for the majority of the time, everyone felt that he was more akin to a jade figurine than a real person.
Despite this, Luo Xiao was well liked in the village. This was the village where his father had grown up, and the elders watched his father since the days he was a child until he set out on a grand adventure.
One day, years later, Luo Guang returned with a child in his arms claiming that it was his son, and he settled down once more. No one knew anything about his mother, but when one took a glimpse at Luo Xiao, they could tell that she had to be a woman whose beauty could destroy nations.
Today was a typical day like any other, one where Luo Xiao had nothing to do. Up until now, he had spent just about every day of his life in bed and only went out walking now and then whenever his father was not around.
Previously, he had been walking around borrowing books from all over the village. He had long since read every book in the whole village, and when merchants came through the village of Jinwei, he would use his spare pocket change to buy new ones.
It was a day like all the others until a certain person walked into the small village. This person seemed human, yet was not. This entity was two meters tall with glaring red eyes and purple skin. It continually growled while looking from side to side, and seeing the villagers, a smirk appeared on its lips, displaying its sharp teeth.
When people noticed it, a deathly fear crept into their eyes; they were utterly horrified. This was a corpse puppet! It was the creation of a demon! Demons could make corpse puppets out of either dead or living humans and beasts that had cultivated their Qi.
These villagers had never before seen a demon, let alone a corpse puppet. Corpse puppets were generally forbidden, and their use was looked down upon because if their master died, they would run rampant in the world, mindlessly killing and absorbing the flesh of others.
The more flesh they absorbed, the stronger they would become, and with one look at those blazing red eyes, they could see that it was nothing like the dumb, unintelligent corpse puppets that they had heard about in the past.
Seeing these humans, suddenly, it moved with a speed so fast that no one could see it until it appeared behind the first villager, digging its teeth into his neck.
Blood splashed everywhere as the poor villager’s neck snapped and his throat was ripped open.
The corpse puppet stopped for a second, as it savored the warmth flowing in its mouth to the horror of all who were there to witness the gruesome scene, and right after, it moved on to the next person.
A commotion could be heard, and even in the house where Luo Xiao was sitting, it caused a curious gleam to appear in his eyes. What could have caused them all to be so loud, he wondered.
Luo Xiao was about to leave his bed when his father came towards him with a stern look on his face. “Stay there, I’ll go take a look,” he said with a voice that offered no room for discussion.
Luo Xiao sighed but said nothing and accepted his fate. Having done so, he looked out the window again. Right after, he heard the door open then close, indicating that his father had indeed gone out.
At first, Luo Xiao was excited. He wanted to know what exactly was happening, but after a brief moment, he smelled a metallic scent waft towards him from the outside.
Frowning, Luo Xiao knew this scent all too well. It was blood!
Without any time to contemplate, the only thought that ran through his mind was what had happened to his father? Had bandits come or was this something else? He was frightened and unsure of what to do, but after a moment of hesitation, he bolted up from bed. As he moved too fast he turned dizzy, but he couldn’t be bothered by that right now, so he forced himself to the door and left.
He found that everywhere he walked, the road was covered in blood. His house was not near the outskirts of the village but in the middle, yet not one living soul could be seen.
The scent of blood became stronger and stronger, and Luo Xiao turned nauseous. Although he had seen blood before, it was usually not much and just his blood from when he cut himself trying to cook for his father.
Luo Xiao was brought up in a sheltered family. He was not rich, but he had never encountered hardships either. This was the first time he feared that something might have happened to his father. Even when he went into the forest to hunt, Luo Xiao was not worried about his well being, but right now he was very fearful.
Luo Xiao started out walking with shaking legs, yet moments after, he was running as fast as he could. Although Jinwei village was considered rather big for a village, it was, after all, still a village, so he was quickly able to reach the place where the smell was the strongest.
His eyes widened in horror as he saw everyone from the village stacked into a mountain. Some had their throats ripped open while others had large chunks missing from their arms and legs.
Seated right next to this mountain was a corpse puppet. Its eyes blazed with a red light, and it was eating a person. Luo Xiao would remember this scene for the rest of his life, and it was the most horrifying thing he would ever encounter. He felt as if time had stopped and was stuck in place from fear. He was utterly horrified at the scene causing his whole body to tense up.
The next second, what Luo Xiao feared the most happened as those terrifying red eyes lifted and stared right at Luo Xiao. He was so frightened that he kept backing up. Tears welled up, and he tripped, falling on his butt, but even so, he still tried to retreat as fast as he could from the fiend in front of him.
The corpse puppet smirked when it saw Luo Xiao and rose to its feet. It started to slowly walk towards him like a lion walking towards its prey.
“Stay away!” Luo Xiao yelled with a voice that was full of fear. The corpse puppet just continued to snicker as if it had not heard his words and it took one step after another towards him.
Just before it got to Luo Xiao, the fiend reached out its hand as its blazing red eyes shone brightly with greed. Right after, Luo Xiao’s vision turned black for a moment.
He felt as if he was spiraling down a long, narrow dark tunnel. Suddenly something within him seemed to break and a massive power exploded outwards from within his body.
The world seemed to flip upside down for Luo Xiao. He was seated on the ground, and when he finally regained his vision, he found that thick hot blood was covering his whole body. The corpse puppet was nowhere to be seen, but a deep crater had appeared right in front of him. Luo Xiao was petrified and stared ahead blankly. What had just happened?
Despite the deathly stillness around him, suddenly he heard an alluring and masculine voice come from behind that was filled with majesty, “Did you do this?”