“The ‘Oracle,’” Gan Zhu repeated wonderingly. “What is an ‘Oracle’?”
The woman with a warrior’s appearance hummed thoughtfully to herself. “That is an interesting question, young man. Normally, I would say that I am a messenger of the gods and spirits; but there are few spirits in this world, and no gods.”
Gan Zhu stared at her blankly, completely failing to understand her meaning. Surprisingly, it was Lost Justice who reacted to her words, straightening up from where he leaned against the wall. “Hey, wait a sec. That ain’t what ya told me earlier. Ain’t we hiding here because ya didn’t want to get caught by the gods of this world?”
“Yes, that is true,” agreed the woman, smiling at Lost Justice. “But the gods of this world are not gods; they are men.” Continue reading
Gan Zhu was shocked, and unwittingly he froze in place just like the man had ordered.
It was unfortunate, but Gan Zhu had become arrogant. Even knowing that he had made an enemy of the strong and terrible Fan clan, he hadn’t believed they could track him down so quickly, and so he hadn’t bothered with any basic precautions. In addition, this assassin had known enough about his demonic abilities as to hide his own breath — but Gan Zhu had never explained his abilities to anyone! How had the assassin known?
“Step forward,” the man ordered coldly. Gan Zhu slowly obeyed, taking two steps into the room. The man, whom he had still not laid eyes on, quickly kicked the door shut before moving around to Gan Zhu’s front, maintaining a distance between them. Continue reading
The Balkiri Continent was an extremely dangerous place to live. Especially if you were a human; unlike monstrous beasts, humans are born weak, and only the most assiduous cultivation will prevent one from being weak for one’s entire life.
Monstrous beasts, on the other hand, were naturally blessed in comparison. Not having to worry about cultivation techniques, esoteric arts, or even basic strategy, these monstrous beasts were gifted with long life, ever-growing power, and a single path leading toward invincibility. Not to mention, many types of monstrous beast were smarter than humans as well, and capable of long-term planning to an even greater degree.
Indeed, if you were to say that the Balkiri Continent belonged in its entirety to the monstrous beasts, it would not be entirely inaccurate! Continue reading
With matching glares, Li Stahn of the Infinite Sky Devil Sect and the monster hunter Gan Zhu confronted each other. On the outside, each was as confident and as domineering as the other; and on the inside, both were angry, vexed, and severely depressed, and trying very hard not to let their feelings show. An outside observer might conclude that the two young men were actually very similar — and as it happens, there was in fact someone observing their fight who came to that very conclusion!
If the two had realized that they were being watched, they no doubt would have felt even more despondent, but fortunately the watcher was one Zebu Biel! The fat man sat atop a tall tree, resting on a branch that seemed much too thin to support his apparent weight. But somehow it failed to snap, and the fat man watched the ongoing fight while occasionally bursting out into laughter, completely ignoring his precarious perch; and neither fighter had even the slightest idea that he was there.
The two fighters had paid close attention as they retreated from North Pine City, and as far as they could tell, they had not been pursued. Nevertheless by unspoken agreement, they moved while leaving no traces, as quickly as possible, to delay the inevitable pursuit of the Fan Clan. Continue reading
Sun Mia panted as she ran, pulled along by the ordinary-looking woman who had been selling vegetables to her less than half an hour ago. The woman wasn’t running at random and seemed to have a destination in mind, but Sun Mia wasn’t sure where she was being taken. She had tried to get the woman’s attention a couple of times, but the woman was ignoring her words, and dragging her along with an unusually strong grip on her wrist.
Sun Mia had been initially grateful that the woman had pulled her away from that frightening situation, but now she was getting worried. She wasn’t too familiar with this particular market, and she had no idea where the woman was taking her. Perhaps she was still in danger…
The merchant woman paid no attention to Sun Mia’s worries, however, and quickly arrived at her destination. To Sun Mia’s surprise, this location was an ordinary meat stand, run by a tough-looking old man behind the grill. Had Gan Zhu been here, he would have recognized the old man as the one who had sold him a delicious meat skewer early: Old Mehek! Continue reading
The marketplace was moderately large, and in the distance could be heard the sounds of merchants crying out their wares, and customers arguing with each other over the price of various commodities. But in one particular square in that busy market, silence reigned supreme.
It goes without saying that every onlooker was shocked almost to death! One of the Fan clan’s own guards had been killed in a single blow, and not only that, the killer hadn’t even once glanced at the man. To say that Gan Zhu had not put the Fan clan in his sight, would simply be the unvarnished, literal truth!
And now all eyes were upon that young man, but he didn’t pay any of those gazes the slightest bit of regard. His own eyes were firmly fixed on the man he had named Li Stahn, apparently waiting for a response to his challenge. Li Stahn’s glare had become even more terrifying, to the point where Fan Mitsu and his allies, who were still surrounding him, involuntarily took a couple steps back. Yet, Gan Zhu didn’t seem even slightly intimidated. Continue reading
“My, my, what have we here?”
Sun Mia heard a voice behind her. It was a slightly nasally and unattractive voice, but it was filled to the brim with arrogance and self-confidence.
Startled, she turned around to find a fat young man in a green robe staring straight at her. Her eyes involuntarily widened when she saw the emblem stitched onto the front of his robe: this was a member of the Fan clan! Sun Mia felt her heart sink, and a frisson of fear went down her spine. Continue reading
The next day.
The mood on the streets of North Pine City was tense. For as long as any normal citizen could remember, two clans had ruled over North Pine: the bloodthirsty Fan clan, and the cold-hearted Sun clan. These two forces had forever been at each others’ throat, providing both danger and opportunity for those who lived in their city. In fact, a great many individuals were able to maintain a precious neutrality, not swearing loyalty to either great power, and refusing to engage in the eternal contest between the clans.
But those days had finally come to an end. The Sun clan had fallen, and the Fan clan stood unrivalled. The situation of the followers of the Sun clan went without saying; if there were any left in the city, they kept a low, low profile. On the other hand, those who had been close to the Fan clan now found their status elevated to an extreme degree! They now had the backing to do whatever they please, suppress whoever they wished — and the natural target of this new sense of authority, was obviously those who had not sworn loyalty to the clans in the past, and had remained neutral. Continue reading
The sun shone down on an airy pavilion, set in one corner of the grounds of the extensive estate belonging to the Fan clan. The courtyard around it had once belonged to the mother of Fan Bin, a concubine named Jai Yana, and Fan Bin had appropriated it for himself after his mother had been killed. Of course, he had been the one to kill her.
It wasn’t that Fan Bin had ever been mistreated by his mother. Jai Yana had been one of Fan Gen’s many, many concubines; in fact, she had been the lowest ranking among them. She was simply a commoner who had been forcibly kidnapped off the streets of North Pine City due to Fan Gen’s sudden whim, and made to suffer his questionable affections. Whether her parents had protested her abduction, she never knew; in her heart, she had hoped that they had remained silent, for if they had so much said a word against Fan Gen, they would definitely have been killed.
Jai Yana was not the first woman who had been treated in this fashion by Fan Gen, but she had been the only one to survive longer than a single year. Continue reading
The Balkiri Continent was truly a prodigiously large area of land. Within its long shorelines, it held uncountable numbers of forests, plains, mountains, swamps, rivers, and every other sort of natural environment. Beneath the surface, leylines of spiritual energy twisted everywhere like the veins of an enormous dragon, crossing and flaring up seemingly at random. And wherever the spiritual energy became particularly strong, humans would gather like bees to honey.
It wasn’t that humans could directly interact with spiritual energy — only a few esoteric monstrous beasts could manage such a feat — but high concentrations could greatly affect the efficiency of a human’s cultivation, literally bringing twice the results for half the effort. And so over the course of time humans would seek out the leyline nexi, and build their homes and palaces, towns and cities, where the benefits to them would be the strongest.
Of course, not every area with great spiritual energy would be fit for human habitation. For every mighty forest citadel raised by human hands, there was a deep black jungle that would devour any mortal foolish enough to step within; for every grand mountain aerie where ancient experts meditated in peace, there would be a frozen highland of ice and death; for every verdant plain nurturing ten or even a hundred villages, there would be a vast, endless swamp filled with monstrous beasts and poison. Continue reading