T/N: Dang… this is longer than HSSB, but the really annoying thing is that I haven’t done advanced prep so all the cultivation terms need to be translated on the spot. This story is written by the author of Zhan Long (the VRMMO one) and he really likes to write in first person. After a bunch of adjustments, the final result is first person present tense, the same as Zhan Long. Past tense would only bring in more tense confusion. But translating this in present tense is really tiring. I’m constantly fighting against habit and going back to fix the tenses. The tenses frustrate me enough to scream.
According to legend, between heaven and earth there were 10 worlds. Each world was linked to the next. Each world had a divine guardian. As such, the universe and its celestial bodies revolved without cease, nurturing the infinite lifeforms within.
In one corner of this vastness, there was a world called the Three Thousand. A glorious sun hung above 3000 giant continents that floated and orbited in space, bearing the qi flow of heaven and earth, blessed with the essence of sun and moon. Ancient myths tell us that these 3000 continents were actually formed from 3000 pieces of a fallen ancient god, which had endlessly nurtured and proliferated until fine trees became an entire forest and countless lifeforms came into existence. And this place was thus named the Three Thousand World.
Within the lower layer of these 3000 world fragments, there existed a thousand continents with thin spiritual qi. Between each of these continents was a divine mark that served as a seal. Thus contact was cut off between these continents allowing each world fragment to be a small world unto itself. Several tens of thousands of years later, these world fragments formed their own Laws and started to separate themselves completely from the upper world. Shrouded by cloud and mist that do not scatter even after a thousand years, uncivilized lands stretched for thousands of miles. The skies are often broken by divine birds and the mountains are often shaken by savage beasts.
Due to the bloodlines of strong experts of the ancient past proliferating through their descendants, humanity started to slowly rule over these world fragments, becoming ancient empires or clans, generation after generation, tracing back to the same roots.
In the southeast corner of these worlds, there was an ancient continent that floated among the myriad of stars. It existed alone and was called Dragon World.
On this Dragon World, there was an ancient empire that the people called the DragonSpirit Empire. After many generations, its name changed to DragonSpirit Union. In the north of this union, there was a small city named SilverLeaf that sat in the middle of a mountain range. The city was well defended and its people were prosperous. Our story started here.
“Young master, it’s time to get up. Young master Song Qian is already here. Today is your big day!”
Early morning, other than the tweeting of the bird in the courtyard, there is only the sound of uncle Fu. Uncle Fu is a servant of our Bu family who has served since my father’s generation.
I am Bu Yixuan, born in the small city of SilverLeaf located in the north part of the DragonSpirit Union. My father is Bu Buping. He runs an iron smelt workshop. Business is not too bad. So I can be considered approximately lower middle class.
People of the DragonSpirit continent are proficient at using the spiritual energy between heaven and earth, revering the Seven Spirit Gods. The entire continent is formed from many different organizations big and small that have unified after many years of chaotic battle. This unified state is called the DragonSpirit Union. The treaty that formed the union practically props up the peace of the entire world.
The reason uncle Fu said today was my big day is because today is my SoulAwaken day.
Every single spirit cultivator has to undergo three large unavoidable stages. The first stage is the awakening of the spirit meridians. Only with spirit meridians can spiritual energy be moved. The second stage is to awaken one’s innate fate tool. The so called fate tool is basically an implement that exists innately. It forms itself from accumulated spiritual energy, and is also called a ‘spirit device’. Some people’s fate tools are weapons, while others take the form of defensive equipment. There are countless types, too many to list out.
And the third stage is the most important stage: awakening one’s innate skill.
I am a lucky person. At age six, I awakened upper heaven-tier spirit meridians. At age nine, I awakened my spirit device, MoonBlade. At age fourteen, I broke through the SkyDash meridian* becoming the Union’s youngest SkyDash realm expert. And three years ago, while training on the PaleWhite Road, I experienced a shedding of mortal body and exchanging of bones** to instantly become one of the top experts of SilverLeaf.
However, even now at age twenty, I still have not awakened my innate skill. This is also the worry of my entire family.
Outside the door, uncle Fu carries a basin of clear water. He speaks with a kindly smile, “Young master, hurry a bit. Young master Song Qian has already waited for you for quite a while.”
“Understood. Thank you uncle Fu.”
Song Qian is my good friend who is only younger than me by a year. We practically grew up together as friends. His father is a traveling peddler who is often away from home, sometimes for months or years, so Song Qian often hung out at my home for entire days, until we became close like brothers.
After washing, a youth of about twenty stands just outside the door. He looks slightly immature but forcefully acts as if he experienced Jianghu.*** His face quickly gives way to a large smile, “Bro Xuan, time to get a move on. I heard the one conducting your awakening ceremony today is one of the Union’s martial goddesses, Su Xiyu. It’s said that her great beauty startles the world.”
“I know, but she’s thirty already. Aren’t you thinking of too much?” I laugh in reply.
Song Qian rubs the back of his head and gives a laugh, “I thought you liked her. Any… anyways, hurry up already. We can’t let the martial goddess wait for too long. That’s a breach of etiquette.”
“Mm, let’s go then.”
Leaving the house, a coachman can be seen already waiting by the family’s carriage that has stopped by the distant doorway of the courtyard.
The so called awakening ceremony is basically the use of a type of medical liquid to forcefully awaken one’s innate skill. Even though it is rumored to be mysterious and mystical, but to my knowledge, it is actually just the effect of the medical liquid.
This year, I am almost twenty and yet I have not awakened my innate skill. Today is my last chance.
Once the innate skill is awakened, one’s future is limitless. Plus I have my upper heaven-tier meridians. With time, I would become one of the movers and shakers of the world, possibly even growing into one of the mightiest figures of DragonSpirit continent, becoming an existence at the same level as a martial god. However, if my innate skill does not awaken then my cultivation might forever stop here for the rest of my life, without any possibility of improvement.
In the words of Song Qian, so long as I awaken my innate skill, I will be able to hook up with countless girls and obtain endless wealth!
“You are Bu Yixuan?”
Before we leave, a sharp voice sounds out from the side. Its gloomy sound causes disgust in those who hear it.
I stare blankly before replying, “How could there still be people here?”
Two people stand behind a stone screen. Hearing my question, awkwardness and anger are exhibited through their expressions. These two people, one skinny and one fat, stand upright in front of me. Their faces possess a certain viciousness and their bodies radiate with spiritual energy. They have some strength and their goal is self-evident. They want to challenge me who has been call the number one genius of SilverLeaf and gain fame thereafter.
“What are you two called?”
The skinny one lightly waves his hand. Immediately, spiritual energy lights up and condenses into a shiny sword. He coldly says, “I am Chang Fang of SilverLeaf Martial Courtyard. I have come for the sake of requesting your pointers!”
The fat one stomps his foot, a burst of profound qi rises up. An iron hammer spirit device appears in his right hand. With a laugh, he states, “Du Honglei of Silverleaf Martal Courtyard has come for the sake of testing your abilities, Bu Yixuan!”
The atmosphere becomes tense, but uncle Fu and Song Qian act as if nothing is happening. They have experienced this type of situation too many times. Song Qian is even grinning as he says, “Bro Xuan, hurry up and finish this. We don’t have much time.”
“Don’t waste your time. You two can’t beat me,” I state with a smile.
“Stop wasting your breath and receive my attack!” The fat one roars in anger. His battle hammer whistles through the air and strikes with explosive strength.
“Then, don’t expect me to be polite!”
I lightly bend my body, stretching myself like a bow. A burst of spiritual energy blasts from my legs, transforming into immense strength that allows me to instantly charge to the front of my opponent. My left leg lightly draws back half a step, lowering my center of gravity. Strands of light green spiritual energy rises from the ground like vines. Five fingers clasp into a fist. Strength flows through both arms. Eyebrows rise. I smile and say, “You two come together!”
“You’re not using your spirit device?” The skinny one says resentfully, “You’re too arrogant!”
“Defeating the two of you doesn’t require the presence of the MoonBlade,” I smile brilliantly, “Come on. Come on. Let’s finish this quickly.”
“You’re looking to die!” The fat one screams. Both his legs stomp on the ground. Do not be deceived by his appearance; his speed is very fast. His spirit device battle hammer is wrapped in wind blades, as if a sudden gale blows intensely enough to pierce one’s skin.
Unfortunately, while strength and speed are sufficient, his intentions are too apparent.
Almost at the exact moment when the battle hammer approaches, I suddenly move both legs so that my entire person shifts horizontally. My fist loosens into an eagle claw that catches the fat one’s collar, conveniently performing a throw to send him flying.
Dust rises. A moment later, the fat one emerges eagle spread on my home’s perimeter wall. The spirit device battle hammer is disappearing into sparks of spiritual energy. The fat one slumps softly ending up on the ground, already fainted.
“You’re being excessive!” The skinny one roars. His longsword condensed from spiritual energy pierces the air.
The attack creates a sword light that stretches several meters like an arrow piercing through the air, causing waves of air pressure and flames hot enough to burn.
Gale Pierce, it is one of the continents common spirit martial skills.
Within SilverLeaf Martial Courtyard, there are definitely no more than fifty people who can use this technique. The skinny one can be considered an expert.
Unfortunately, he is too slow.
Just before the sword wind that would pierce skin reaches me, my right hand abruptly rises. The glow of spiritual energy increases explosively and a single longsword appears in my hand, chilling like a waning moon. This is MoonBlade, my innnate fate tool!
A strand of light yellow qi surges in both arms, silently activating the Offensive Combat Art. With the circulation of spiritual energy, there is an indistinct sound of dragons and tigers roaring. This is the third layer of the Offensive Combat Art cultivation technique, Dragon High Tiger Low. Power fills MoonBlade allowing it to easily knock aside the opponent’s longsword, while my left fist strikes in passing like a bolt of lightning streaking through the air, Growling Thunder Punch!
A muffled impact sounds out. The skinny one stands unmoving. Blood flows rapidly from his nose. His expression is filled with unwillingness. He falls down with a boom, directly slipping into unconsciousness.
Song Qian spits at the fainted body of the skinny one in contempt and mocks, “This is supposed to be one of the top ten experts of SilverLeaf Martial Courtyard, ptui!”
I pat his shoulder, “Time to go. The Sacred Hall is waiting!”
“Go it, Bro Xuan!”
The carriage leaves the family home trailing dust behind as it rushes towards the center of SilverLeaf.
Sacred Hall, it is a building constructed by layering white marble bricks for the purpose of worshiping the Seven Spirit Gods. Just like the HeavenFire Building, it has branches set up in every city by the Temple of Seven. To the spirit cultivators of SilverLeaf, it represents their holy ground.
Some distance away, a couple luxurious carriages stop in front of the gate of the Sacred Hall. Other than the carriages, there are horsemen carrying good quality weapons. Before our carriage manages to stop, a guard of the Sacred Hall comes to welcome us. In a low voice, he tells us, “Young master of the Bu family, the martial goddess’s convey just arrived. You can go up first and wait for the martial goddess to perform your awakening ceremony.”
“Understood. Thank you.”
I get off the carriage and run straight to the top level of the Sacred Hall. On the way there, many of SilverLeaf’s people stare directly at me. This awakening ceremony will decide whether or not SilverLeaf can produce a martial god level personage. After all, I possess upper heaven-tier meridians. This is originally an extremely rare constitution. Once my innate gift awakens, my future will be full of promise.
After waiting approximately ten minutes, the person to enter the room is actually Song Qian. The brat’s face is lit up in excitement.
“Bro Xuan, I saw the martial goddess Su Xiyu!”
“What about it?”
“Beautiful. She truly is a stunning beauty!” Song Qian is on the edge of suffocation. His entire face is red, like he stuffed a whole perch down his throat.
I pat his shoulder and say with a smile, “Don’t get so excited. Use what words you can to describe what you saw.”
“In brief… I have no words. If I had to describe her, then I can only say… I have never seen a girl that awesome. Bro Xuan, you can see for yourself in a bit. She’s coming now. I’ll be leaving first.”
With those words, he disappears like a wisp of smoke.
I knit my brows thinking just how beautiful can someone be? That brat has no prospects acting as if he saw an immortal beauty or something.
Just then, the sound of footstep can be heard. The curtain leading to the top floor of Sacred Hall is parted to reveal a single figure. Immediately, the air seems to freeze.
She possesses an exquisitely beautiful face. Her eyes are cerulean blue as if untainted by the slightest speck of dust. Her feet are protected by a pair of cultured army boots. She wears a high ranking military uniform for female officers, the type with an open collar. Light golden hair flows like water falling on her shoulders. A white blouse is filled until almost overflowing by the twin peaks of her chest. Her prideful curves are enough to make anyone forget to breathe. Three shining golden stars decorate the front of her dark blue uniform. Her lower body is covered by a tight short dress. Her clothes compliment her superb body outlining a supreme incomparable beauty. A blood red cape flows behind her. Simply by standing there, she demonstrates the world-class charm.
My heart cannot help but beat faster by a lot. This girl is impossibly beautiful. Is she truly martial goddess Su Xiyu?
Since long ago, people say Su Xiyu is a great beauty and she is also the commander of the 300,000 strong border garrison army. However, this much youth and beauty is a bit too exaggerated, isn’t it? Not only that, no matter how you look at her, she does not seem older than twenty. How can she possibly be the thirty year old Su Xiyu?
Just as my mind indulges in the wildest imaginings, her cerulean eyes look over at me and with incomparably ethereal voice**** that sounds wonderful she says, “Close your eyes, the ceremony has started.”
With those words, she takes out a little bottle—it is the awakening medicine—and sprinkles it on me. Suddenly my head is full of fog.
The awakening medicine smells slightly strange. Pacifying Blood Flower, that must be it. It is the smell of Pacifying Blood Flower. During that bloody battle, I once saw this type of flower and not just once.
My body suddenly shakes. My entire person seems like it has been sealed by some sort of power. Strands of burning light are on the verge of escaping from my body, like some force wants to shatter my organs. Something is wrong. This feeling is definitely abnormal.
Just as I open my eyes, I find orange sunlight shining down on my face, as if something has fixed its attention on me, and has targeted my consciousness.
Under a beam of radiance, my entire person bathes in the orange sunlight as if I were worn out. Within the orange sunlight there seems to be something gazing at me unwaveringly. And I can only rigidly stare at it.
After a full ten breaths, I can finally see!
In that burning yang energy that stretches for a billowing ten thousand fathoms, a single person is trapped on a stone pillar. Numerous copper colored chains bind the person’s body, but those chains are not copper because copper would have melted long ago. This strange person’s entire body, his flesh and his skin, is withered. He looks like skin wrapped around a skeleton. His eyes are shut and his entire body radiates a horrifying presence, which can best be described as taboo.
Just as I struggle to escape the power holding me in place, his eyes suddenly open like he can actually see me and he reveals a malevolent smile.
My insides are boiling. A fiery feeling pervades my entire body, as if my entire body is about to explode.
“What’s going on?”
I open my eyes only to find the martial goddess in front of me is also panicking. Burning flames consume her entire body causing her clothes to vanish revealing the perfect body underneath.
I am suddenly distracted. What incredible curves!
How can this be possible? This is definitely not a thirty year old woman!
“You are not allowed to look!”
I see her left arm cover her chest. Her beautiful face is full of embarrassment.
Abruptly, a raging flame battle suit extends over her entire body. Then, her right fist rapidly approaches me head-on, transforming into a flaming red dragon before slamming into my eye socket.
My sea of consciousness shakes violently, and at that point I fall unconscious.
* Tian Chong Mai – literally Sky Charge Vessel: my research indicates there is a tianchong acupoint on your head just above and a little behind your ear but there is no indication of such a meridian. Plus a Tian Chong cultivation realm apparently exists, so perhaps it’s a made up thing.
** Tuo Tai Huan Gu 脱胎换骨 – shedding of one’s mortal body and exchanging of bones: basically it is a vast improvement. In daoism, it is part of the process to become xian. To be reborn as an immortal or superior mortal.
*** Jianghu – literally means Rivers and Lakes: I have kept the Chinese term, this may change later. Jianghu is a concept that basically refers to the world, specifically the martial arts world. The Korean equivalent would be Murim. However, that has changed with the times and it can refer to other worlds. Nevertheless, it isn’t just any world but rather the complicated world of people—the world of people competing, fighting, deceiving, betraying, allying, etc., the world of conflict and complications. The business world for example is a Jianghu.
**** 空灵 – literally empty spirit: The void state in meditation leading to enlightenment or something like that. When used in reference to a girl’s voice, it should be pure, moving, spiritual, indescribable but somehow extremely pleasant to listen to. I can’t decide whether to translate it as ephemeral or ethereal, and mixing both together does not give the desired result.