2 Death, By A Thousand Cuts

Cultivating the body and spirit are 2 general types of cultivation that could be learned by anyone; body cultivation through body building, spirit cultivation through meditation. However, special families and sects can pass down branch cultivation methods that give cultivators additional benefits from every breakthrough.

In the Divine Sword sect, deciples are taught the divine sword method which is a form of body cultivation. Cultivating the body doesn't mean they're cultivating the divine sword method, but by cultivating the Divine Sword method they're also cultivating the body.

Though there are many unique cultivation methods in this world, there are also taboo methods that are antagonized by everyone. Often times, those that practice taboo cultivating methods are hunted down, so they are forced to live in secret. 

Xiao Fang was born into the Divine Sword sect. His father is the Patriarch, but his mother, in a way, is a privileged prisoner. She came from a sect that practiced dual cultivation, which was, and still is, a taboo cultivating method. Xiao Fang's grandmother captured her just before they wiped out her sect. Eventhough the current Patriarch was the reason her life was spared, she still refused to marry him because of what the previous Patriarch did.

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"Fang'er, can you get me a bucket of water", Xiao Fang's mother requested.

She had long black hair tied back in a bun as she was doing her household chores. She wore her usual extremely plain cleaning attire as she worked, so she would have looked like any other cleaning maid if it weren't for her incredibly beautiful face, and flawless figure.

Xiao Fang had been sitting on his bed in the lotus position, earnestly cultivating his spirit, trying to make a breakthrough into the 3rd stage of the spirit foundation realm, but to no avail.

On Xiao Fang's 18th birthday his mother gave him her old sect's dual cultivation method for him to practice in secret, and in just under 2 months he was able to reach the 2nd stage of the spirit foundation realm. The reason this was shocking was because he was expecting it to take at least a few months to reach the 1st stage of the spirit foundation realm. To put it into prespective, it took him almost 8 months to reach the 2nd stage of the body strengthening realm. 

He knew spirit cultivating was much faster than body cultivating, but that was about it. What he didn't learn till much later was that dual cultivators can make significant progress in their body and spirit cultivation levels after dual cultivating with someone with a relatively higher cultivation level than their own. The higher the person's body/spirit cultivation is, the more he will progress in the respective cultivation areas.

However, Xiao Fang's current body cultivation was already too high to get much benefit from cultivating with the body cultivating disciples in the sect, so he didn't realize the added benefits that came from cultivating with them, but found significant benefits from cultivating with the few spirit cultivators he encountered.

"I need to cultivate with more spirit cultivators", he thought.

"Xiao Fang!", the woman called out again.

"Ah. Yes, Mother", Xiao Fang replied.

Once he heard his name being called he jumped off his bed to grab a bucket of water for her. At the same time, she gathered all the dirty clothes then began cleaning them by hand.

"We have maids for these kinds of things, you know?".

"I won't accept anything that man has to give me, and you know that", she said, suddenly scrubbing a bit harder.

"He has given you a loving child", Xiao Fang said teasingly.

"Thats not the same thing. I had played big part in that, it's only natural that you are with me. That reminds me. The patriarch is looking for you".

Since Xiao Fang was born, she never once referred to the patriarch as his father. He understood why, but frankly he didn't care about such things.

"Not so fast, Xiao Fang", she stopped him from leaving. Xiao Fang groaned because of why she stopped him.

Since he was younger, she would often tell him stories about her old sect, which he loved. What he found particularly frustrating was her training. She use to specialize in finding and triggering pressure points all over the body back in her old sect, so she tried to teach him all she knew. However, the patriarch would often train him to exhaustion, so the best time to train him was before he left. 

If Xiao Fang had to choose between his father's or mother's training he'd easily choose his father's training two times over. Triggering pressure points sounds innocent enough, but the better he got at it the more fearsome her training became. She practically could make him fall limp with a finger. Being as prideful as any other swordsman, he couldn't help feeling extremely pathetic after every training session. Perhaps if she were holding a sword he wouldn't feel so bad about it. If there was anyone he feared more than his father, it was certainly his mother.

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Many elders gathered outside the main palace hall; including the overgrown chicken, Elder Chicken Jiang.

He's been hearing that name for the past few days because of Xiao Fang. Now that he was in front of him his killing intent leaked out uncontrollably. He nearly couldn't restrain his hands from strangling him to death when he saw Xiao Fang smirking at him mockingly. They all seemed furious about something, but Xiao Fang paid no attention to them.

"Tell the patriarch I am here", he said to one of the servants at the door in a cool but respectable tone.

A few seconds passed then the doors finally opened followed by a heavy sound that made everyone present fall to their knees; everyone but Xiao Fang.

"Xiao Fang, you damn brat! Come in here this instant!!", a man shouted from within.

Everyone could feel the 8th stage of the Divine Body realm being emitted through his voice alone, and it made them feel chills running down their spines. Though the doors were open the dark interior looked almost as if it were a black hole sucking in anything that came close to it. Everyone crawled back just a bit, everyone except Xiao Fang. Upon hearing his father's voice he immediately walked in.

"Perhaps... if I were blind like that boy I'd have the courage to walk in too", one elder said with a shakey tone. However, just after he said those words he was immediately refuted by the other elders. Saying he'd also need to be deaf and stupid.

Although Xiao Fang had brought them endless troubles in the past, they couldn't help but admire his fearlessness, which was the greatest virtue for all swordsmen.

"He will be the hope for the sect. An 18 year old that is nearly in the solid body realm is completely unheard of. All he needs is a little bit of discipline", the elders thought.

Inside, Xiao Fang stood a few paces away from his father's throne and waited for him to speak. Though it was dark, it was no different than a brightly lit room to Xiao Fang; he's blind after all.

"I heard you've been causing trouble for the elders again. Do you really think you were free from punishment just because you are my bastard son?". The Patriarch took out a blade as long as his leg. It emitted a tyrannical aura.

He continued, "Let's see how long you can last against my blade", he smiled menacingly before leaping toward Xiao Fang with his sword overhead.

Xiao Fang redirected his blade with his real walking stick. However, it wasn't just any walking stick, hidden within was his sword. This became evident to the patriarch once he saw the hilt seperate from the scabbard revealing the blade within.

"New sword?", the patriarch asked.

"I got it as a gift, from one of my lady friends", Xiao Fang said.

The way he said "lady friends" irritated him a bit, so he immediately continued attacking him.

After a few clashes it became as clear as day that the patriarch was not putting any effort whatsoever is his strikes, but Xiao Fang was still in a miserable state. The patriarch looked as if he had just finished taking a stroll in the park while Xiao Fang was a bloody mess. He was cut all over from head to toe. He was almost unrecognizable.

"Good, good. You have made some progress since the last time we practiced. I'm sure you will breakthrough to the 9th stage of the body refinement realm in a few months. I assumed all that time you've spent chasing women around would have rusted your sword, but clearly I was wrong. Alright, prepare yourself. This will be my final strike, do well to defend yourself".

The blood flowing out of his mouth dyed his chin red. He felt his energy escape him just from carrying his sword. He was panting heavily, waiting for the inevitable. When the patriarch was only 5 steps away he saw him raise his sword with the intent to strike down with a thousand dragons, but with the intent to inflict only a shallow wound.

However, to the patriarch's surprised, Xiao Fang didn't try to defend, instead he seemed to be jumping back to evade his strike. The patriarch sighed inwardly thinking he had a lot to learn.

Xiao Fang was indeed falling backwards, but something about his movement seemed too artificial.

Suddenly the patriarch was slashed. He looked down and saw that his robes were ripped across his abdomen.

Maybe because it was too dark to see or just too unexpected, the patriarch was unable to react to it at all. He could only feel the blade of an amateur sword wielder tickling his metal like skin.

[ Every learned Swordsman knew that one must always attack and defend simultaneously in a fight. However, when you can only do one, you must always attack and not fear meeting another man's sword! This is the what it means to be a swordsman ]

"That attack... it felt like Iron cutting Iron", the patriarch thought. However, upon touching the scratch on his body his eyes widened with shock. "When did he...", he rubbed the blood on his finger till it disappeared.

"I see, so you faked your retreat to find an opening. That was pretty clever of-", when he turned around he saw Xiao Fang on the ground in a near lifeless state.

The patriarch's shock lessened. He now realized that Xiao Fang didn't master the technique, but used it anyways just to draw some blood from his body, knowing full well that he would be incurring a heavy backlash from it.

[ If you cannot save a life, take it.

If you cannot take a life, save your own.

If you cannot save yourself, draw some blood and hope your contribution is not wasted ]

- Death By A Thousand Cuts

[ Divine Sword Sect's secret technique: 1000 cuts ]

Despite being a relatively small sect, the Divine Sword Sect is recognized for being the top sect in the province and one of the strongest sects in the 13 provinces.

Much of that reputation is due to this technique alone. The swordsmen from this sect would even give their lives just to inflict a small cut, because no matter how strong someone is, no one will survive after the thousandth cut; hence the name. No one would want to mess with a sect as crazy as that.

"Death by a thousand cuts. No matter how strong one might be. 1000 cuts is all it will ever take"

However, this was merely a training session disguised as punishment.

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Seeing this, the patriarch calmly force fed him two pills; one to stop the bleeding, the other to start the healing process. Though the pills were extremely valuable, it was special prepared for this training session.

After regaining conciousness he tried to get up, but could only sit.

"Rest a bit longer. I have something to tell you", the Patriarch said.

"Many people have been been giving me headaches because of you, but now you are finally old enough to go out into the world alone. Once you are healed up I want you to leave. Go out on an adventure and make a name for yourself. The next time I see you I want to see someone impressive. Don't disappoint me, Son"

"And if I refuse?"

"I will kill you on the spot. Theres no option. Your mother and I have both agreed on this. Furthermore, if you go I'll give you this treasure", he pulled out an unimpressive ancient wooden box from his storage ring. Storage rings were extremely rare treasures. Even in this sect only the patriarch had one.

Within the box was an elixir. He gave the elixir to Xiao Fang then told him to drink it.

"Its a priceless ancient treasure. Your mother and I believe it could cure your blindness".

Hearing him say that, the elixir in Xiao Fang hand felt infinitely heavier.

"Cure... my blindness...".

The elixir was giving him an ominous feeling, but he still drained it in a single gulp. Suddenly his heart began beating louder and louder. He felt the liquid convert into an eerie demonic energy as it rushed into his dantian. What followed next could easily be described as inhumane torture. His eyes felt like they were being peeled while being washed by alcohol.

His blood-curdling screams reached the elders outside. They couldn't imagine what the patriarch could be doing to him to be making such a sound. Some of the elders thought back to what Xiao Fang did. Despite making a fool out of them he was just having fun. To be tortured for something as simple as a prank and to his own son. The elders felt greater fear in their hearts towards to the patriarch now, more than ever.

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Xiao Fang had slipped in and out of consciousness from the pain. His eyes bled profusely. The patriarch renewed the bandages that covered his eyes and cleaned the blood off his face.

This went on for 3 days. By the end he looked like a corpse.

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The whole time the Patriarch seemed a bit worried, but what he soon discovered nearly blew his mind.

"Your cultivation! You- you actually made 2 breakthroughs to the Solid Body Realm", His jaw dropped he couldn't believe what the elixir had done to his cultivation.

The patriarch was in the divine body realm so now he was only 2 realm above his son despite being more than 40 years older than him.

Frankly, even someone as tyrannical as him, wouldn't have given his son the elixir if he knew what kind of torturous pain he would have to go through, no matter the gains.

"Maybe in 20 years time, no... maybe less than 15 years, he will certainly surpass me" he thought. He smiled bitterly at the kind of monster he was sending out to the world.

"I cant wait to see you again, son". He picked him up to carry him back to his room.

The doors finally opened. The elders waiting outside were in a sort of meditative state, but now they were fully awake. The horrifying body of Xiao Fang made them tremble. His robes were completely torn, his hair was a mess, and the blood that covered his body stuck on to him like another layer of skin. Most frightening of all was that the black blindfold he always wore was no longer black. It was clearly crimson.

Xiao Fang was in the arms of the patriarch who was expressionless. Xiao Fang wore a powerful stench of blood. He resembled a melancholic hero that had been killed under false accusations.

Some felt their knees grow weak and had to resist bowing to him as they stared with their apologetic gaze. They felt this calamity was the result of their actions. Some started feeling regret in their hearts.

Of course there were a few, like Elder Chicken Jiang, that originally thought it was a punishment well deserved, but after 3 days of it his expressions slowly turned ashen.

Once he returned from Xiao Fangs room and back to his own hall, he finally told the elders to enter.

He looked like a demon butcher from the way he wore Xiao Fang's blood on his clothes and a nonchalant expression on his face. They never felt reverence like this to him or anyone else in their entire lives.

The patriarch could sense that they wanted to ask. "Don't worry, Xiao Fang won't be bothering you anymore. After today he will be leaving this sect."

Their hearts sank. A crippled bastard child had been tortured then banished by his own father, what kind of fate is this?

They couldn't help but feel that they were the ones responsible for all of this. He was going to be their sect's genius and now because they couldn't tolerate his actions, they are seeing him go in such a miserable state. They definitely couldn't request that he is to stay after demanding that he be punished, not if they cared for their own lives.

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Back in his room, Xiao Fang's mother became furious once she saw Xiao Fang's condition, but after Xiao Fang explained everything she quickly understood.

She packed up his things then prepared to send him off. Suddenly the elixir's side effect hit again, but this time with his mother around he suppressed his screams till he eventually passed out. When she noticed, she cupped her mouth and became teary,

"I'm sorry, I didn't know", she said with a shaky tone. The bandage around his eyes became bloodied once more and it trickled down his face like bloody tears then she began to weep.

Xiao Fang's mother got up and rushed to find new bandages, but suddenly there was a knock on the door. It was the elders. They had come to give farewell gifts. But once his mother opened the door they were all able to see his condition. The female elders had the same expression Xiao Fang's mother had.

"What inhuman torture did he go through? I noticed the new bandages, but I never expected this", one of the elders revealed his thoughts. However, Xiao Fang's mother responded in the same way the patriarch did, telling them he will be fine. She then accepted the gifts that were all stored in the little spatial pouch then closed the door.

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In the morning of the next day, Xiao Fang left the sect. He wasn't passing out anymore, but his eyes bled even more than before.

Inside the spatial pouch the elders gave him he found some cultivation technique and healing pills. Xiao Fang didn't need anything in it, but accepted their sincerity.

Truth was, he didn't even have the eyes to learn them. So unless he was tutored, he wouldn't be able to practice those techniques.

Going down the mountain was difficult in his condition. He tripped and fell many times, but he needed to be at the Black Paradise sect within a week to participate in the entrance exam. So he didn't waste time taking breaks. However, by the time he reached the bottom of the mountain he already looked like he crawled out of hell.

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Black Paradise Sect. Commonly known as Every Man's Paradise. This was because it was well known to contain the most number of females than any other sect. The ratio being 1:100. Furthermore, it was the top Sect in the QiGon province, although it didn't compare well to the top sects in the other 13 provinces. To Xiao Fang that didn't matter as long as there were plenty of women to improve his dual cultivation techniques on.

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