Chapter 7: Three Years Later
Xia Lang, the village elder’s grandson, ended up looking after the goats for the rest of the month, as the Rong twins insisted that Hui Yue went to their campsite every day. The reason they gave the elder, was that Hui Yue had the talent to become a cultivator and they would spend the month helping him improve his cultivation method and teach him martial art skills.
Lan Feng didn’t care about Hui Yue learning the martial art skills that the Rong twins were bringing. The proud phoenix would not even bother with learning the names of the three skills that Hui Yue had been given.
When Hui Yue told Lan Feng that he was too arrogant, the phoenix answered that he did not care about the low ranked skills as he was certain that he would be capable of providing Hui Yue with much better skills whenever the latter had perfected Velocity Flow.
Such an answer obviously stunned Hui Yue, but he had no way to retort, as he knew that Lan Feng was not bragging, but merely stating the truth.
Hui Yue spent the rest of the month together with the Rong Twins and Bu Huang. Bu Huang quickly stopped scrutinizing Hui Yue, which allowed Lan Feng to stop hiding and instead participate in whatever was happening, although only Hui Yue noticed him.
Learning martial art skills from scrolls were very different from the mind transfer that Lan Feng had used previously with Velocity Flow. The body instantly knew how to use the Velocity Flow skill, and the pattern needed to make the qi flow within the meridians was also mapped out within the body, while now, although the skill was explained and the qi flow pattern within the meridians was mapped out in the scroll, the user needed to be perceptive to apply the written skill into the body.
Hui Yue was greatly helped by his previous experience with Velocity Flow and his old occupation as a university student while trying to understand and imprint the lower ranked martial art skills, and Hui Yue had to admit that the only reason that he could succeed was due to the simplicity of the low ranked skills.
The month flashed by much quicker than usual while Hui Yue was practicing martial art skills and cultivating together with the Rong twins. Rong Ming left three martial art skills for Hui Yue to start learning, and the goal was to perfect those three by the time Hui Yue turned ten years old.
The village was proud upon hearing that Hui Yue was skilled enough to become a cultivator, and they would assist the Hui family even more than before. The village elder had even offered that Xia Lang could take over the chores of looking after the goats permanently so that Hui Yue could focus on cultivating.
At first Hui Yue had been slightly annoyed by the extra attention that everyone had paid him, and he quickly rejected the offer of having Xia Lang taking over his chores, as he needed the daily visit to the hills to practice his martial arts and get some privacy.
Fortunately, it did not take long before the village returned to its usual calm self as everyone were busy with their own work, so that they could survive in this poverty stricken village.
One month took another and Hui Yue spent the time practicing his Velocity Flow skill together with the three skills he had been given by Rong Ming. They were called Raging Strike, Shattering Kick and Stone Fist.
The Rong entourage would visit the village after a year had passed, and Hui Yue would take a month break from looking after the goats while sparing with Rong Ming and getting pointers on how to improve the three martial art skills he had been given the year earlier.
One year took another while Hui Yue and Lan Feng trained martial art skills and refined high quality qi, but for once the time felt as if it was rushing by, as the two of them were trying their best to reach the five-star student level needed to grant them entry into the Royal Academy.
Soon the three years had vanished and Hui Yue had turned ten years old. He had managed to reach the fifth star half a year ago during the cold winter, and he had perfected the three lower ranked martial art skills along with Velocity Flow.
Velocity Flow had been perfected a year ago after years of intensive training, and Lan Feng had kept his promise of giving him another high ranked skill.
The new skill was a Lower Duke ranked defensive skill called Qi Guard. An unknown cultivator had created this skill as a qi version of the spiritual energy shield that was gained after opening the middle dantian.
While this guard was not as strong as the spiritual energy shield, it was still the strongest defensive skill that a practitioner below Master Rank could get. Hui Yue had hoped that Lan Feng would have given him a strong attack style martial art, however the phoenix had pouted and complained that since Hui Yue got three attack skills from Rong Ming, he did not need to get one from Lan Feng just yet.
Hui Yue was standing at the village square where he was saying goodbye to his parents and everyone else who had gathered to wish him well in the future.
The Rong entourage had been to the Magical Forest, but this time they would not go straight back to Riluo city but rather revisit the village to pick up Hui Yue.
Both Hui Yue and Lan Feng were incredibly excited as it was finally time for them to leave this place that had been their home for the first ten years of their life in this new world. Although Lan Feng originated from this plane, he was unable to tell if he was in his old kingdom or what had changed since his last visit.
Both boy and phoenix were aware that they were taking a risk upon entering the Royal Academy. Lan Feng was capable of hiding himself almost perfectly within Hui Yue’s body, however there were some variables that they needed to consider.
Lan Feng was hiding himself while using his Saint ranked soul, but if he were to meet another saint ranked expert then he would be able to recognize his presence. Also King and Emperor ranked experts would be able to notice that something was hiding within Hui Yue’s body, however they would be unable to break through the layers of defence that Lan Feng had erected around his usual home in the qi cave.
Another problem was that although Lan Feng had hidden himself within Hui Yue, it was impossible for him to completely conceal his aura, which caused some of it to seep out, scaring any magical beast that came close to him.
However, both Hui Yue and Lan Feng had decided that even if it was dangerous, they still needed to take the chance and attend the Admission Ceremony at the Royal Academy.
Joining the Royal Academy could be a great help to Hui Yue’s cultivation. Lan Feng had promised that refining qi would get much easier upon reaching the disciple rank, however to reach that point, he needed to rely on cultivation rooms that had more natural essence or even medicinal pills that could directly increase his qi. Otherwise Lan Feng and Hui Yue would be stuck as students for a very long time as each star required more refined qi, and the requirements to break through to a higher star would soar now that he was at the fifth star rank.
The village was also very pleased by knowing that they had produced a person who could qualify to study at the Royal Academy, and the whole village had saved up enough money to buy him a new set of clothes.
Hui Yue was wearing the clothes while waiting for the Rong entourage to pick him up. It was a white robe with blue embroidery and blue ribbons to close it around his waist. The fabric was much more luxurious than anything Hui Yue had ever owned in this world before, and he was quite touched as the price had to have been incredibly high for this poor village.
The women had also spent time on patching up all the rest of his clothes and washing them so that they were in their best condition when Hui Yue reached the Academy.
Hui Yue was very well aware that his family were unable to pay anything for him when he went to study in town. Fortunately enough, the Royal Academy had no tuition fee and both boarding and food expenses were paid by the Royal Family. It was obvious that the Academies spread across the country was used to discover geniuses and rope them in, or at least giving them a feeling of belonging to the Royal Academy, and therefore also the Royal Family.
Hui Yue forced his thoughts back to the present and looked down upon the gravel road leading out of the Village. He was wearing his white clothes and had a small bundle hanging on his back which contained his spare clothes and the few personal belongings he had.
They had been waiting since early morning, but Hui Yue did not know when the Rong twins and their family guards would arrive to pick him up. The sun had broken through the sky long ago and it was now past noon, but Hui Yue was still patiently waiting.
The villagers had decided only to do the absolute necessary chores today so that they could send their promising young boy off with flair. Every villager was coming up to Hui Yue and had wished him the best of luck in the future, or told him to come visit them every now and then or even asked him to become someone great, who could bring fame to their unknown village.
Hui Lifen and Hui Guang were both standing on either side of their son, and their faces were filled with contrasting feelings as both were incredibly proud of Hui Yue, but at the same time overwhelmed by their parental worries of letting their son into the world at the age of ten. The reason they had dared to let him go was because they knew that the Rong family would support him.
Every second felt like an eternity as both Lan Feng and Hui Yue were itching to move on to a big city. They were both tired of their life in the village. Although Hui Lifen and Hui Guang had given all their love and care to the white-haired boy, he had never needed to mature the way an infant usually would, and all he remembered were the last ten years where he had cultivated together with Lan Feng and once a year spent time with the Rong twins. It was time to move on to a bigger stage.
“I promise to come home and visit often,” Hui Yue promised his parents with a smile, “I am not going far away, just going to start in a school,” he reassured his parents once again so that they did not need to feel worried about his actions just yet.
‘This is going to be exiting,’ Hui Yue continued to Lan Feng, and he could feel the phoenix nodding in agreement,
‘It is four thousand years since I last travelled around this plane. I am really curious to see how the world has changed.’
Lan Feng was even more impatient than Hui Yue. The four kingdoms had changed from being the property of the descendants of the Four Divine Beast, and now he had no way of knowing if he was even in his old country or not.
The history from more than four thousand years ago was considered a Dark Age, and only the strong knew of what had happened back then. Anyone else was prohibited from knowing the past of the countries, even the Rong twins were not allowed to know. This rule had roused some curiosity within Hui Yue and Lan Feng. Knowing that it was a taboo subject made them even more curious, however neither Rong Ming nor Rong Xing seemed to show any interest in the matter, as they had grown up with being told about the taboo.
Lan Feng would easily be able to answer which country they were currently residing in as soon as they got their hands on a map. It was possible to change the names of the countries and remove the history, however it was not possible to move the four mountain ranges that the Four Divine Beasts had created to separate the countries.
Knowledge of the Dark Age however, would not be as easy to gain access of, but as long as Hui Yue got stronger, the mystery would eventually get unravelled.
It was another three hours that went by second by second before Lan Feng suddenly woke up, ‘I can hear someone!’ he said hurriedly with a voice as eager as a little child waiting to open their Christmas presents. Hui Yue could not help but allowing a grin to spread across his face. He too was incredibly excited now that they were finally arriving.
The few minutes it took before the magical beasts and their riders arrived in the horizon felt like a whole year. Rong Ming, Rong Xing and Bu Huang were riding at the front on their qilins, and Rong Ming was grinning widely, while Rong Xing’s eyes were shining like stars with excitement.
“How do we do this?” Bu Huang asked with his usually furrowed brows as he looked at Hui Yue. The plan had been to let the white-haired boy ride on one of the magical horses, however, the horses would rear up on their hind legs or try to kick their handlers to escape from the innocently looking boy.
“What about he rides with me?” Rong Ming asked, but he quickly noticed that it was no good, as his young qilin was uncomfortable about the young child too. Rong Xing then tried to see if she could help, but her qilin reacted the same way.
Bu Huang sighed. The child was definitely hiding a great secret. Currently it was obvious that a look of despair was seeping into Hui Yue’s face as he was worried whether or not he would be able to actually leave the village if all the magical beasts would run away from him.
None of the present people knew that Hui Yue were swearing at Lan Feng within his heart.
“We have no choice, you will have to ride with me,” Bu Huang finally said with his stern voice. Although his qilin was uncomfortable around the young child, it was still of a higher cultivation than any of the other magical beasts, and therefore it had a higher level of intelligence. This qilin had been reared by Bu Huang since he was a foal and their long standing relationship was enough to create a bond of trust.
Happiness filled Hui Yue’s eyes as he grabbed Bu Huang’s hand and allowed the stronger man to grab him up in front of him. The young boy waved goodbye to his family and the villagers who were still present, before the Rong entourage once again sat out from the small unknown village.
Hui Yue had never actually left the village before. He had gone to different hillsides around the village itself, but it did not take more than ten minutes of riding on the magical beasts before he had reached further away than ever before.
The landscape was beautiful. It did not take long before they had left the hillside surroundings and instead they entered a thin forest. Upon riding through the forest it seemed as if it was placed on a slope, and that they were moving downwards.
“Your village is located within a valley,” Bu Huang explained, “generally speaking, your village is actually located within the Magical Forest, but it is at the edge so it is relatively safe.” Hearing this made Hui Yue slightly surprised.
The Magical Forest was a very dangerous place from what Hui Yue had heard, both from the villagers and from the Rong Twins, however the villagers all had a very low cultivation base so they would not be able to defend themselves against magical beasts.
Also the Magical Forest would usually have groups of mercenaries or cultivators travelling within to hunt for medicinal herbs or magical beasts for their beast cores, but Hui Yue had never seen any visitors in the village apart from this Rong family.
Bu Huang seemed to be able to understand the younger boy’s train of thoughts as he chuckled slightly before continuing, “your village is hidden very well within a valley where people will not usually enter. When reaching this part of the forest it looks as if you exit it again, however what seems like an exit is actually the only entrance towards your village. Not many would be willing to go there.”
Hearing this did answer some of Hui Yue’s questions, and he once again focused on his surroundings. It was obvious that they were about to leave the outskirts of the Magical Forest and enter the outside world. Hui Yue’s heartbeat increased as his eyes grew larger.
What he saw in front of him was a road that cut its way through plenty of fields. There was a village not far from their current location, but this village was many times bigger than the one they had just left. There was a wooden barricade around the village and two guardsmen were located at the entrance.
Both Guardsmen greeted Bu Huang and the Rong twins with deep respect before allowing them to ride through the village.
The houses were much bigger than what Hui Yue was used to, but he also noticed arenas created for sparing matches, training dummies and an area where a group of children were cultivating next to a stone that was shining with a strange light.
Hui Yue was staring and moving his head around, trying to look at everything at once. He noticed a big building where villagers of all ages were moving in and out with different scrolls.
“The villages here are different from yours,” Rong Ming said cheerfully while riding next to Hui Yue and enjoying the expression of shock that was visible on his friend’s young face.
“We will pass through quite a few villages on the way back to Riluo City, but these villages are better known as families.” Hui Yue looked at Rong Ming with a quizzical expression on his face, causing the older boy to laugh,
“The village is own by a family, like this village is the property of the Hei family. The Hei family gains their money from agriculture and sell their harvest in Riluo City each year.”
“But they seem to put a lot of focus on cultivating?” Hui Yue pointed out while looking at the many training facilities,
“Yes,” Rong Xing said quietly from the other side, “They need to have strong cultivators to be able to keep their land.” Hui Yue were quiet and looked at Rong Xing, urging her to continue.
“Every child below ten years old will be cultivating. The children that reach the five-star student rank by the age of ten is sent to the Royal Academy where they will study while the rest will be working in the fields for the rest of their lives.”
“Every village does it like this,” Rong Ming took over the explanation, “the village, or family, head has to be a strong person and he need to have a group of experts by his side so that they can defend themselves against the other villagers. If a village loses their experts, then they will lose their land. The stronger villagers will take it.”
Although it was incredibly unfair, Hui Yue could not do anything else than tighten his fists and nod his head, this was definitely different from the village he came from. This world was definitely different from the world he came from.
“Your village is special,” Bu Huang suddenly said, “not many villages would be able to survive the way they do, so it is important that you don’t tell anyone about the location of your village. It is likely that these families would go there and take it by force.”
Hui Yue nodded yet again as he understood just how important it was for him to keep quiet. Now it made sense why his village did not even have a name.
The landscape changed every now and then from fields with crops to fields where livestock was eating and walking around. The entourage would travel through quite a few villages just as Rong Ming had said, and Hui Yue noticed how every village had equipment made for cultivating. Each and every one of these villages were showing the utmost respect towards the Rong family’s party.
The Riluo City was closer than what Hui Yue had expected, and the party had been travelling for most of the afternoon when the young boy saw towers starting to appear in the distance. The closer they got, the more of the city was revealed.
The city had a striking resemblance to the ancient cities that Hui Yue had studied back in his old world. The whole city was surrounded by a twenty metres tall wall build with black stone. The wall seemed to be quite thick, and guards were stationed at the top of the wall. A four metres wide and eight metres tall gate was open at the end of the road, and it was heavily guarded by guards who were wearing the Riluo City’s emblem on their chest.
Big buildings within the city seemed to be built in the same style as the Chinese architecture from the Tang dynasty. Hui Yue could see a couple of great Pagodas raised above the tall walls together with multiple yellow roof tiles.
The closer they got to the city, the harder it was to see the buildings that was hidden behind the massive wall, but Hui Yue felt in his element. The architecture was so familiar but at the same time everything was different from what Hui Yue knew.
The trip to Riluo City had taken less than a day while riding on the magical beasts, however the same trip took Hui Guang and the other men two days to travel by foot.
A feeling of reverence appeared in Hui Yue’s heart as he looked at the city in front of him. This place would be the actual start of the new life of Hui Yue and Lan Feng.
Suddenly a loud shout pierced through the air and dragged the young boy from his inspiring thoughts.
“The young master is back!” a guard yelled from above the city wall. Bu Huang, Rong Xing and Rong Ming nodded towards the guards, and slowed their qilins while riding through the seven metres thick city gate before entering the buzzling streets.
Hui Yue’s eyes once again grew large as he finally returned to civilisation for the first time in ten years.
“We will host a feast tonight,” Rong Ming said with a smile as he noticed Hui Yue’s excited eyes, “tomorrow we will go to the Royal Academy and have you take the admission test.”