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
Tai Mei was a young girl, living in a small village that was only notable due to it’s unfortunate proximity to the Cerulean Abyss. She was neither especially beautiful nor especially clever, and therefore did not differ from any of a thousand other young girls spread around the Balkiri Continent. Girls in peasant villages were seldom allowed to learn cultivation, and only boys were habitually taught to find their dantian by their fathers and elders. Tai Mei was no exception, and she did not have the slightest thread of Qi throughout her whole body. She was, in other words, a perfectly normal young village girl.
If one was to force themselves to find an aspect to compliment her on, it might be said that she had a strong filial respect for her parents, and always gave all her efforts to support her family. That this strength of hers was never directly acknowledged was an unfortunate, but understandable truth: Tai Mei was the third of five children, and since she was neither excellent nor difficult, she tended to be treated as part of the background by one and all. Continue reading
I stood on a rolling, hilly plain, covered with high, crystalline grass. I had never seen this scenery before, I was certain of that; but it had a peaceful, nostalgic feeling to it. The sky above me was a pale blue, and a bright white sun blazed down from its noon-time height. It was a beautiful, calming scene–
“Ah, there you are, young pup!”
A loud, exuberant voice sounded out behind me, and I flinched, startled. Before I could turn, an arm wrapped itself around my neck, and a hand began ruffling my hair. In surprise, I turned my head, only to see a black-furred jackal head grinning at me with open amusement.
It was the demon woman, Marah. Continue reading
Gan Zhu looked around. He realized that he had awakened in a moderately large cavern, formed entirely of familiar crystals. They glittered in the dim light, forming beautiful patterns in the air; but Gan Zhu had no patience to admire them now. He was caught up in his memories — memories of his own death!
That abominable swordsman, Li Stahn, had cut off his arm, saying that he had a better use for it than a mere cripple. Since that moment Gan Zhu, whose survival had already been extremely precarious, was completely pushed to the edge! Where he had held his own against the various dangers of the Abyss until that time, from then on he could do nothing but retreat, and retreat further, until he was finally caught out on that precipice and could retreat no further.
He had been cornered at last by three Wolf-headed Bears, the strongest type of monstrous beast in the upper levels of the Abyss. The slavering creatures had detected the scent of his blood and proceeded to chase him down to the dangerous third level, before trapping him on that ill-fated cliffside. He had managed to slightly wound two of them, before his sword had finally snapped, and then they had been upon him… He could remember nothing after that. Continue reading
Two lines of characters hung in the dark. He thought at first that he had never seen anything like them before, but then he began to feel that he was wrong — a strange, nostalgic feeling like a half-remembered dream. And so he looked at the strange characters, until they began to seem familiar. Eventually, he started to believe — no, he was certain, that the line was a very simple message:
Good morning, hero. It’s time to wake up.
And so, he woke up. Continue reading
In the Cerulean Abyss.
The light was dim, even on the third level, which was still relatively close to the surface. Light filtered down from above, illuminating crystalline structures that propagated the distant sunlight into beautiful swaths of color across the dim rocks. Twisted paths wound between sheer cliffsides and bottomless crevaces, and the sounds of monstrous growls and scrittering claws filled the air. The smell of blood drifted, and a palpable feeling of dread clung to everything.
Through this maelstrom which at every moment whispered of sudden death, a man strolled casually down the twisting paths. He was a bald-headed fat man, slightly short, with a face that seemed jolly and peaceful. He wore a simple, threadbare robe, and he wore no sandals on his feet. His eyes were constantly squinting, making it difficult to perceive their color.
Barefoot, he strode through the abyss, casually looking around with enjoyment, as though he were simply sight-seeing. An ordinary observer would be shocked; was the Cerulean Abyss a place that could be treated so casually? Of course not! This weak-looking fat man was simply seeking death! Continue reading
The distance from North Pine City to Red Rock City was quite far. In truth, an ordinary man walking from one to the other would spend weeks on Red Pine Road, the main road between the two; if he encountered any accidents, it might be more than a month before he reached his destination.
For a wealthy family like the Sun clan, however, the journey was much more manageable. All the major roads were built on the twisting leylines, and elite dragon-horses had been bred for centuries to take advantage of the natural energy. The tireless and swift creatures were expensive, naturally, but well within the means of the Sun clan.
Therefore, the journey to Red Rock City should have taken Sun Tzi and his cousin less than a day. However, the detour to the Cerulean Abyss had added a significant distance to their journey. Additionally, the leyline under the road leading from the Cerulean Abyss to Red Rock City was significantly weaker, so the dragon-horses could not proceed as swiftly. It would likely have been faster to return to North Pine City, and take Red Pine Road. But Sun Lan had ordered So Tan to take the slower direct road, and Sun Tzi had not disagreed. Continue reading
Fate : Destiny :: Karma : Fortune
Book 1: The Anubai Hero
“Move aside!” a harsh voice sounded across the crowded road. Many people hurriedly cleared the road, whether they were poorly dressed commoner or rich merchant. No one wanted to draw the ire of the nobles riding in the carriage marked with the sign of the Sun clan! It would be worth their lives to raise even a single word of protest.
And yet, one young man somehow failed to hear the words of the Sun clan guards, and completely ignored the carriage rattling down the street towards him. The faces of the guards darkened at this blatant disrespect, and one of them shouted at the man.
“You! Boy! Are you looking to die!?” The guard turned to the coachman, and urged him forward with a hand gesture. They would run this pitiful fool down, without hesitation! Only then would the honor of the Sun clan be upheld.
The young man finally turned around, and gazed at the oncoming carriage. The Sun clan guards caught their breaths and gripped their weapons, while the coachman reined in almost by instinct. In this city, known as North Pine City to it’s inhabitants, the guards had encountered many men. Some had eyes filled with fear, especially in front of the Sun clan, who were the second most powerful clan in the city. Some had eyes filled with arrogance, those who could compete against the Sun either with connections or their own personal power.
But in the eyes of this youth, these experienced men saw… nothing! Continue reading