1 The Worth Of Life

As the fiery red orb of light slowly sank beneath the horizon, and threads of light lingered in the sky, mingling with the rolling clouds, dyeing the heavens in colours of leaping brilliance of orange, scarlet and gold, a faint unearthly green–gold luminescence was cast over the ground through the thin canopies of the forest trees.

Although they were not thickly layered, those were ancient trees, timeless as they disappeared into the sky, some wreathed in ivy, ever frozen in its embrace, whilst others were still bare with roots dipping into and out of the ground, basking in these lights of impending dusk.

This was the Shallow Woods. It stretched for miles. The area was one of the two parts of the Shixing Ageless forest —an ancient forest that preceded the dawn of the earthly immortals— divided by the ever flowing Ember river. But unlike the other larger part of the forest, Black Wing, Shallow Woods was sparsely populated by trees, allowing cast of lights over the ground of the forest. Hence, becoming a haven for mundane animals and low-level magical beasts who delighted in the comfort of these lights.

Sometimes however, a number of high–level magical beasts and dread beasts, would wander into the Shallow Woods from the Blackwing forest. That was why hunters remained extremely vigilant, even when hunting in the more safer Shallow Woods.

On that serene evening, two determined eyes watched the illuminated bank of the Shallow Ember river silently, from behind a thick bush. Dressed in an old hemp clothes with no shoes on his feet, Fei Hong held a crude looking wooden spear in his right hand, while his left hand was firmly placed on the ground as he crouched behind a thickly dense bush

The boy was no cultivator and neither was he a hunter.. He had even failed his bloodline awakening. But he had a naturally strong body which allowed him to be a human load carriage.

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While going to the market place the previous day, he had overheard two hunters talking about a recent successful hunt. Knowing they were esteemed cultivators who could venture into the outskirts of the Black Wing forest as hunters, Fei Hong, he had listened closely. A while after, he had grasped some basic ideas, and had quickly made up his mind.

He knew he had to be a cultivator, or at the least, a strong hunter, to enter the Shixing Ageless forest to avoid a certain death. But, there was no other choice than for him to try the forest.

The main reason for his conclusion was that his parents were battling an unknown sickness. As he had learned, any form of medicine would cost them greatly when they had none. But he didn't want to stay idle, unless, he wanted to watch them die.

He also needed two gold coins to participate in the upcoming trials for entrance into the Sacred Swords sect. This was a trial that occured every five years. At his current age, this was his last chance if he wanted to be accepted into a sect.

Hence, he decided to risk the dangerous Ageless forest. Mainly due to his parents. He knew the more time he would waste, the less time his parents would have to live.

With a grim determination on his face, he had fashioned a crude wooden spear for himself before making his way to the Meadowwood. Following the little information he had acquired from the hunters, Fei Hong had moved from one place to another. He was watching and learning a few things on his own before settling his eyes on a small area of the river bank with more lumence light. The place would be safer for him to hunt.

He had engraved the area in his memory before returning home to his sick parents. Staring at his dying parents, he knew there was no other way for him.

As he crouched behind the thick bush, events of the past continued to tumble into his mind. With teary eyes, he remembered his encounter with the old village alchemist, after rushing to get him in the wake of his parents' sudden sickness.

"My child, your parents are suffering from a high level Gu necrosis, and it is fastly corroding their bodies and souls. If it's not treated within a fortnight, I'm afraid it will all be too late. There is a cure that I know of, but I don't have the materials to prepare it, and they are quite expensive. If only I could help you more. I'm sorry, child."

Upon hearing the words of the alchemist, he had run to fetch his father's treasure, buried in one corner of the house. A low grade magical beast's core. He had waited anxiously while the alchemist inspected the core.

"Hm, a third-grade magical core. This is a good low grade core, but I'm afraid it won't be enough, my child. If I can get one more of this, I can probably manage to get the cure. At least, for the sake of your parent's good nature."

Ah, Pangu's beard! His little head had nearly exploded from the weight of the alchemist's words. Another third-grade core? That was more than five earthian gold coins! How would he get that one? There was no way on earth he was going to get that much. Hence, he put aside any hope of getting five earthian gold coins which left him with the prospect of acquiring another third grade core.

Could he even get a first-grade core, talkless of a third-grade one? How was he, even, going to kill a third grade beast? A low level magical beast was either faster than his or stronger than his. He might even turn to a beast's food before he would realize what was happening. But, he had no choice otherwise. Unless he wanted his parents to die. Ah, he would never watch his parents die.

While he continued crouching behind the thick bush, he knew it was an exceedingly dangerous place for a fifteen year old childling like him to be. But he had no other option when it involved his parents and his entrance. He snapped out of her thoughts as a glowing brown–striped wood–splitter rabbit, almost half his size, ventured onto the river bank.

A magical beast, but a dangerous one with two large wood–splitting teeth. It was a second-grade low level animal at the least. He would have to be extremely careful to avoid the two large and sharp teeth of the rabbit. With great fortune, he would have to catch it by surprise for him to have a chance of making it out in one piece.

With a firmer grip on the wooden spear, Fei Hong was about to spring out from his hiding place when he noticed something in the eyes of the wood–splitter rabbit which stared above him head. Immediately, he realized he was in a mortal danger as peril alarm sounded in his head. As he twisted his body to face upward, he had a premonition of an impending death just as a pair of deadly eyes descended on him from above.

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