_Morning. Just as the sky lit up, while the whole of Sun Feather City was still hidden in the darkness before dawn……_
_Sun Feather City, Zhao Family Clan_
A young man reacted on instinct, throwing off his warm and comfortable covers, jumping up from his bed and put his clothes on. All of this was done in less than one breath. At this time most of the family sect disciples and even some of the servants, were still sleeping.
The young man was between thirteen and fourteen years old, with a slim body and a childish face. He wasn’t super handsome, but still good-looking. His eyes were especially clear and full of fighting spirit.
“Just a bit longer and I can reach the second rank of the Martial Path, then I’ll have all those other Zhao family sect disciples shut up.”
This young man’s name was Zhao Feng. Half a year ago, he came from the Green Leaf Village’s Zhao branch family to the Sun Feather Zhao main family sect, based on his superb performance.
At the Green Leaf Branch, he was a genius for his age and was the first to reach the 1st rank of the Martial Pathway. From then on, he left the life of mortals and stepped into the gateway of cultivation. At that time, every old person in the village praised him for his talent, saying his future could not be measured. His family sect, parents, they all had high hopes for him!
However, only Zhao Feng knew how much more effort he put in than his peers, allowing him to become the genius of Green Leaf Village…
The Green Leaf Village Zhao family was one of the main Zhao family sect’s side branches. Every five years, there would be two people recommended into the main sect from Green Leaf. The person who came with Zhao Feng was Zhao Xue, a girl who had reached the first rank of the Martial Pathway only two months after him.
After leaving Green Leaf Village, Zhao Feng was full of fighting will, determined to go to the main Zhao family sect and show off his skills. However, it was only after he had come to the main Zhao family sect that he realized that he was just a frog at the bottom of a well…
In terms of population, Green Leaf Village Zhao family only had a hundred people, with only seven or eight around his own age. At the main Zhao family, there were tens of thousands of people, and they controlled large amounts of land, mines, and resources. Compared to the Zhao family of Green Leaf Village, this family was over a hundred times larger!!!
In the side branch at Green Leaf Village, he was considered a talent, even a genius by some. Here at the Zhao sect, he was merely considered to be one of the lowest level of cultivators for his age, a lowly outer disciple.
In the Zhao sect, there were many youths his age who had broken through to the second rank of the Martial Path. There were even some who were talented, having broken into the third rank. And according to some rumors, some of the family geniuses had already broken through to the fourth rank…
Confronted with this reality, Zhao Feng started to realize that he was nothing compared to them. He had been innocently ignorant and small in comparison.
Also, Zhao Xue, the beautiful girl who came with him from Green Leaf Village, slowly became distant from him after entering the Zhao sect. She interacted more and more with one of the top three outer disciples.
Looking back, when Zhao Xue was still at Green Leaf village, she had looked up to him in awe and even adored him. At that time, Zhao Feng had only focused on cultivating, and ignored her.
Now, he became more and more desperate, and put in even more effort into his cultivation after feeling a sense of gnawing despair.
He made an oath: He would take a spot at the top at Sun Feather City in the Zhao sect! He would never go back to Green Leaf Village!
After washing up, Zhao Feng took a deep breath and then ran towards the family sect’s martial arts field.
Zhao Feng took a half step with both fists carrying the wind, and practiced the Zhao sect’s Flaming Metal Fists. Flaming Metal Fists was only a core martial art, but Zhao Feng practiced it carefully, polishing it beautifully.
In laymen’s terms, normal martial arts were divided into 5 categories: core, low, middle, high, and peak. Normally, the higher the rank of a martial art, the higher the damage dealt by it would be and the better it would be for cultivating.
Core martial arts, the lowest of martial arts, were used to strengthen one’s body and blood, and the damage dealt by them was very low. However, with Zhao Feng’s side branch identity, as well as having no exceptional talent, it was very hard for him to learn martials arts of a higher rank.
“I have been staying at the first rank of the Martial Path for a long time. However, to break through to the second rank, I still need some time.”
After practicing for a while, Zhao Feng’s face was raining sweat, and his breathing rate was quick.
Zhao Feng’s talent wasn’t considered bad. The reason why he couldn’t catch up to the others was because he didn’t have martial skills of a higher rank. He also wasn’t rich, like the main family disciples who could buy precious pills to increase their cultivation speed.
Some said a few disciples of the Zhao sect would use precious pills from birth to strengthen their bodies. Before reaching age ten, they had already broken through the first rank of the Martial Path, gaining a distinct advantage over others.
At the starting line of life, Zhao Feng was already far behind them.
Half an hour later, the sun slowly rose into view. At the martial arts field, some of the Zhao sect disciples slowly but steadily came, and some laughed and played with one another. However, when their gazes landed on Zhao Feng, their eyes suddenly became cold, and some even showed disdain.
This attitude wasn’t pointed at Zhao Feng alone. The Zhao sect disciples looked down upon everyone who came from the side branches. In front of those who came from the side branches, they felt a certain amount of pride!
While Zhao Feng was lost in his thoughts, a sound came whistling from this back: “Little broomstick! Stop there!”
A hand as strong as metal hit him hard on the shoulder.
Zhao Feng was caught off balance and almost fell. Luckily, his core skills were good and he steadied himself in time.
The hand’s owner was a youth dressed in black. His body was fit and muscular, and he had thick eyebrows. His eyes had a tinge of playfulness inside of them as he looked down at Zhao Feng, who had just regained his balance.
“Zhao Kun! What is the meaning of this?” Zhao Feng had a face full of anger and wanted to hit Zhao Kun.
When Zhao Feng first came to the Zhao sect, the two of them had a little conflict. This was because Zhao Kun was mocking those who came from the side branches and Zhao Feng was dissatisfied with him.
Zhao Kun was a person who took revenge at every possible opportunity, and from then on, whenever he found Zhao Feng he would humiliate him every time.
“Zhao Kun! With your strength, if you cannot take this side branch disciple in ten moves, then it would not be cool!”
“Ten moves? Zhao Kun is already at the peak of the second rank of the Martial Path! To fight that kid, I think three moves will be enough!”
“Three moves? If they fight straight on, it will not be that easy!” the disciples nearby said, ready to watch the show. Most people did not care about what happened, so they spoke without restraint.
“Three moves? Hahaha...” Zhao Kun raised his head and laughed with a look of disdain on his face, “You are all looking down on me, Zhao Kun! To beat this kid, I will only need one move!”
Only need one move!
The disciples who were present had looks of shock on their faces.
Zhao Feng’s eyebrows crunched up and his face changed. The anger in his heart also rose again.
He and Zhao Kun only had one rank in difference between them. If Zhao Kun did well, maybe he could win in three moves. That was true.
However, just one move…this was a humiliation!
Facing Zhao Kun‘s provocative eyes, Zhao Feng calmed down soon and thought, I cannot fall into this trap. Even if I live through this one move, he will still humiliate me afterwards.
Having been at the Zhao sect for half a year, Zhao Feng had been beaten a few times and had learned to bear with it.
“I am quite tired from training today. Let me rest a few days, and then I will fight you.” Zhao Feng’s face was expressionless as he then left without another word.
His performance gave Zhao Kun, who was the same age as him, pause.
“Ok, kiddo, I will let you off the hook today, but the next time we see each other, do not forget about today’s ‘One-move battle’.” Zhao Kun’s eyes gave off a cold and cunning feel.
Zhao Feng’s heart sped up once more, and thought: “It looks like Zhao Kun isn’t going to let me off the hook. I must reach the secnd rank of the Martial Path soon. Only then can I fight Zhao Kun.” Zhao Feng’s heart tensed up once more.
After leaving the martial arts field, Zhao Feng returned home.
Since Zhao Feng had managed to enter the Zhao main family sect, his parents also gained a bit of his prestige and also entered the Zhao sect. This was supposed to be his parents’ reward.
However, Zhao Feng only felt ashamed because his performance at the Zhao sect might disappoint his parents. He might also disappoint those of the older generation who had high expectations of him back at the village.
“I am back.”
A deep, calm man walked out. It was Zhao Feng’s father, Zhao Tianyang.
“Feng’er, come quick and have some food!” This was his mother, Zhao Shi, who had a caring look on her face as she brought out food from the kitchen.
Every time Zhao Feng came home, he was able to feel the warmth and love here.
“Thanks mom…this tastes so good!” Zhao Feng mumbled, his mouth full of food.
While they ate, Zhao Tianyang and Zhao Shi didn’t speak, as if there was something on their mind.
“Father, Mother, what are you…” Zhao Feng saw that his parents had solemn expressions and looked as if they had something to say. Zhao Tianyang and Zhao Shi looked at one another, and then they took a long sigh together.
“Let me say it. Not long ago, the sect’s higher levels sent some people over with a letter.” Zhao Tianyang paused for a moment.
“The sect’s higher levels?” Zhao Feng didn’t understand.
Zhao Tianyang had a solemn face and said: “The sect has now made some new rules. If the side branch’s youths cannot break through to the second rank, they will have no right to participate in the family sparring contest. If…before the age of fifteen, they cannot reach the third rank, they will be sent back to their branches.”
Zhao Feng’s heart stopped for a second and his face changed dramatically.
The family sparring competition was where all the youths fought to show off their skills. The ones who won would get rich rewards and have a chance to become an inner disciple, who would be fully trained by the family. Thus, the family sparring competition was a chance to turn into a dragon from a fish for the outer disciples.
If they lost the chance to enter, it was the same as being thrown away by the sect!
And the rule that made Zhao Feng’s heart cold was the last one – Before the age of fifteen, those who are not able to achieve the third rank of the Martial Path, will be sent back to the branch families.
“No, no, this cannot be true…” Zhao Feng’s voice was soft, and both his hands clenched together.
He and his parents wouldn’t have the face to be sent back to the Green Leaf Village.
“This rule is only set towards the side branch disciples.” His mother Zhao Qi had a look of dissatisfaction on her face.
“Mother, Father, it is ok. I will train even harder and reach the second rank of the Martial Path before the family sparring competition,” Zhao Feng clenched his teeth and said while trembling.
“There are still two months left, and to register, you need to sign up a month earlier. To break through to the second rank in a month is probably not easy.”
Zhao Tian Tang shook his head. Only a month’s time?
Zhao Feng’s eyes were dim as if he had fallen into darkness.
If there were two months left, and he doubled his efforts, there was a twenty to thirty percent chance of success. To break through in a month, however, he didn’t have any confidence at all!
After staying silent for a long time, Zhao Shi wiped the corners of her eyes and spoke softly, “Feng’er, it doesn’t matter if you fail…you still make us proud…the most that will happen is us returning to Green Leaf village and living a normal life.”
“Yeah! If we return to Green Leaf Village, you will still be the most talented one there – I would rather have you be the head of a chicken than the tail of a phoenix!” Zhao Tianyang nodded his head in agreement.
Being parents, they would rather have their children be safe, even if their lives would be normal.
But return to Green Leaf village?
“No!” Zhao Feng shook his head furiously. “I am not going back to Green Leaf Village to lead a normal life!”
He once swore an oath. To perform well, earn a spot in the Zhao sect in Sun Feather City, and own his own land. His heart yearned towards the ninth rank of the Martial Path and the land that lies beyond in the outer world.
How could he be willing to lose and return in this manner?
Zhao Feng restrained himself from crying, screamed, and merely ran out of the house.
“Feng’er! Don’t be stubborn…” his parents called out.
Suddenly, thunder and lightning rumbled in the sky, and it started raining. Zhao Feng kept the despair in his heart, howling back at the sky, and ran out into the rain. The lightning shot everywhere, making Zhao Feng’s face light up.
“Not good!” Zhao Feng felt a pressure bearing down on him, and when he looked up, he was shocked by what he saw.
From birth, he had never seen such lightning, so closely packed together, like a spider’s web. In that short moment, the lightning above seemed to be under some kind of power, which caused the very dimensions to crack.
A black streak came from out of the darkness. It passed through the lightning and caused beautiful dream-like ripples to appear. It was impossible to imagine what that black line was, it was even able to ignore the power of lightning.
Zhao Feng felt his feet go numb, his hair and clothes turn black, and thunder rang in his ears nonstop. The whole world suddenly went dead silent.
His face was white, looking down at his feet he saw a weird black marble, like an eyeball. It was this item that had caused the black line.
The eye-like marble seemed like it had life, giving off a thumping sound as it seemed to stare Zhao Feng right in the eye. However, the eyeball seemed to thump in sync with his own heart, giving Zhao Feng a friendly feeling.
At this moment, he felt some kind of impulse, attraction, a pulling? Like he was being called?
“Does this item have life?” He held his breath, ready for any signs of danger. However, before he could move -
Poom! The eyeball-like marble turned into an afterimage as it shot into Zhao Feng’s left eye.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” Zhao Feng screamed, and then fainted.
Before he blacked out, he had only one thought. I’m screwed…my eye has been blinded!