Qi, the source of all life.
Qi-craft, was the cultivation of life’s very source.
Cultivate to the absolute peak, and gain various kinds of extraordinary abilities.
Masters of Qi-craft could ‘break rocks with bare hands’, ‘hear the bustle of ants’, ‘tread waves’, ‘spit azure fire from mouth’, ‘defy all swords and spears’, ‘breathe through clouds’, ‘abstain from food and live on air’, ‘comprehend heavens and lands’, ‘capture a soul thousands of miles away’.
Yang Qi was one such cultivator of Qi-craft.
Fengrao continent, capital city Yan.
Yan city was a rich and populous city on the mainland. Even during the night, the city was brightly lit and filled with endless streams of carriages.
Currently, summer stood at its peak. Dark clouds covered the pitch-black sky and muffled sounds of thunder rumbled across. The air rippled with moisture, seeming as if a rainstorm could descend any moment.
In a desolate corner of the city wall, the surface suddenly exploded, and a deep hole appeared in the wall.
A seventeen-year-old young man, who had his entire body covered in a black attire and was holding an exquisite case in his hand, stood inside the hole. With a swoosh sound, his figure jumped out of the wall like a leopard.
The youngster was none other than Yang Qi.
Yang family was a powerful aristocratic family in the Yan city, and Yang Qi was Yang family’s young master. He had a little reputation in the city as an expert of Qi-craft. His age was not much and body had not completely matured, but with every move he made, it seemed as if there was a mysterious stream of Qi circulating inside his body, ready to burst out at any moment.
The sudden jump made the stream of Qi inside his body to produce rumbling sounds so intense that it could wrest away one’s soul.
“Seems like I’ll soon attain the fifth stage of Qi-craft, Qi Eruption realm. I’ll be able to discharge true Qi, and become an expert as well, ascending the heavens in one leap!”
Looking at the high city wall, Yang Qi was quite satisfied. With a flicker, his figure entered the dark forest outside the city. His extremely quick speed made him seem like a swift, black panther, exhibiting his inhumane physique.
His Qi cultivation had already been trained to the fourth stage, ‘Qi Refining’ realm.
In the Fengrao continent, all experts trained in Qi-craft, which was divided into nine stages.
First stage: ‘Qi Nurturing’.
Second stage: ‘Qi Movement’, moving basic Qi through meridians inside the body.
Third stage: ‘Qi Gathering’, gathering basic Qi and storing it inside the Qi Sea.
Fourth stage: ‘Qi Refining’, refining basic Qi after it had been stored.
Fifth stage: ‘Qi Eruption’, projecting Qi-craft outside, long-range attacks.
Generally, cultivation of Qi-craft up to the first fourth stages- ‘Building’, Movement, Concentration’, and ‘Refining’- only allowed one to circulate Qi inside their body, thereby strengthening it. However, the fifth stage, ‘Qi Eruption’, was to shed one’s body and grow bones anew. One would be able to direct their Qi-craft outside and execute long range attacks.
It was ‘Qi Eruption’, the fifth stage, that symbolized a true expert.
The so-called ‘Qi Eruption’ was a rank in the training of Qi-craft and also a dividing threshold.
In this realm, one would be able to use [Hundred Steps God Fist] and break trees from a hundred steps afar. One would gain extraordinary strength and could even fight one against hundred.
As for the later sixth stage, ‘Qi Arms’, one would be able to condense Qi into a weapon.
The seventh stage was ‘Qi Manifestation’. Manifestation meant myriad manifestations of nature, referring to glyphs. One could condense dragons, tigers, all kinds of ferocious beasts, and various other kinds of shapes, even wings, thereby enabling one to soar above the clouds and streak through the void.
Then came the mystical eighth stage, ‘Qi transformation’, where one would be able to condense a defensive Qi shield around themselves and become invulnerable to swords and spears.
The ninth stage ‘Qi Ancestor’, and becoming Qi-craft’s grandmaster, was a realm that the current Yang Qi couldn’t even hope to attain.
In the legends, the experts who had broken through into the ‘Qi Ancestor’ realm would even be able to steal fate from the heavens and enter “Fate Stealing realm”- a realm that would allow cultivators to be born anew, giving them a lifespan several times bigger than that of ordinary experts.
With a flicker, he entered the woods and immediately saw a female in long, azure-colored robe, standing with her back in his direction. Her figure was elegant and bearing suffocatingly noble.
“Lan-er, I’ve brought the Dragon Subduing Pill. I used my identity and stole it from the city master mansion’s treasury with great difficulty.”
Yang Qi’s heart was pounding as he saw the woman before him. He immediately handed out the case in his hand.
“Eh? Yang Qi, you finally managed to do this job,” That elegant woman eventually turned around; her face exquisite beyond any comparison. Extending her snow-white hand which seemed like an elephant’s tusk, she said, “Here, let me take a look at the Dragon Subduing Pill.”
“Alright,” Yang Qi unhesitatingly handed over the case to this woman named Lan-er.
“Lan-er” accepted the box and opened it, uncovering a fiery-red colored medicinal pill, which seemed like a dancing flame. A medicinal aroma permeated their surroundings, and the pill’s glow caused a deep blush on the beautiful woman’s face, giving her a special charm.
“Lan-er, you said that if I can help you get hold of this Dragon Subduing Pill, we can escape somewhere far away. We should get going.” Yang Qi anxiously said.
“Sorry, Yang Qi.”
“Lan-er” calmly collected the case and revealed a composed expression, “I still have some things to take care of and won’t be able to escape with you. Can we talk about this later?”
Like a thunderbolt in a clear sky!
Upon hearing these words, Yan Qi hurriedly retreated three steps. His face lost all blood as he said, “Lan-er, I faced one danger after another, and stole this Dragon Subduing Pill from the city master mansion, all because you agreed to escape with me. Now you are changing your mind?Why….why you’re doing this?”
“Let me tell you why!”
A voice sounded from the depths of the woods. Following which, a young man with his entire body covered in armor walked out. This man was extremely handsome. His figure stood tall and face had an air of arrogance. He looked at Yang Qi with a gaze as if looking down on him.
“Lan-er is Yunhai city’s great princess, how could she have put you, a Yang family’s kid, in her eyes? Not to mention your family, which is merely an aristocratic family in the Yan capital city, even the son of the Yan city master is not worthy to gain her attention. She merely used you; turns out you really are a toad wishing to eat swan.”
“Lar-er, please tell me this is not true?” Yang Qi’s face was ashen, but he still clung onto the last thread of hope.
However, this last thread was cut by “Lan-er’s” words.
“Lan-er” spoke in an exceptionally calm voice, “Yes, Yang Qi. I merely used you to get the Dragon Subduing Pill, but I wish you no harm; you should leave now.”
Yang Qi’s entire body trembled, hands and legs froze over, “Lan-er, you actually turned out to be such a person! Leave? Leave to where? After stealing the Dragon Subduing Pill, I can’t even return to my family. The entire city will be chasing after me. I hope you can return the Dragon Subduing Pill back to me. After that, we wouldn’t owe anything to each other.”
“Return it back? Keep on dreaming, kid. Nobody spits back the meat they have already bitten.” The armored young man coldly laughed and said, “Get lost. Make more trouble, and I won’t be polite with you!”
Suddenly, Yang Chi erupted. With his entire being like that of a ferocious tiger and figure like that of a snake, he hurriedly scuttled towards the young man, and his hands chopped down like a giant axe.
“White Tiger Clenching Corpse!”
His straightaway executed Yang family’s most powerful move, “White Tiger Clenching Corpse.” If this move were to be cultivated to the peak, the entire Qi-craft of one’s body could be concentrated into a substantial as well as enormous white tiger, which would turn the enemy into a corpse in a matter of seconds.
“Courting death!” Seeing Yang Qi pouncing at him, a trace of disdain flickered in the armored young man’s eyes. Suddenly, the air shook.
A barely visible, transparent Qi current spread around his body.
As Yang Qi made contact with this Qi current, he was immediately rendered incapable of executing White Tiger Clenching Corpse, and was blown away. He fell down with a puff and spurted out a mouthful of blood.
His eyes had an appalled expression as he said, “Fifth stage, Qi Eruption realm!”
“Indeed. I’ve long since attained the fifth stage. Before me, you are just like an insect,” The armored young man patted his hands and said, “White Tiger Clenching Corpse; this move is actually quite excellent. A pity, in your hands, it’s not even worth a toy.”
“What is your name!” Yang Qi desperately tried to crawl up; his eyes brimming with hate.
“Song Haishan, Lan-er’s cousin. In a few days, Lan-er is going to become a disciple of Feng Rao continent’s number one sect, Heavenly Throne academy. What noble status! How could you be presumptuous enough to get close to her? Since you still asked my name, it seems you are planning to seek revenge later. In that case, I have to cut the roots right here. I can’t let you go.”
As he was talking, streams of air frantically shot up from his body like a tornado.
“So it turns out you’re Yunhai city’s number one young expert,” Yang Qi resentfully said, “I’ll kill you! Yunhai Lan, today you’ve cheated me. Sooner or later, there will be a day when I’ll return the courtesy.”
“That’s more of a reason I can’t let you go!”
“Let it be, elder cousin. Someone is coming. Don’t kill him, let him keep his life. We should get going!” Lan-er’s reached out and stopped her cousin with creased brows. She looked in the direction of the faraway Yan capital city. With a flicker, her body disappeared in the darkness of night, only leaving behind a few words, “Yang Qi, wait until I become Heavenly Throne academy’s disciple. I will pay you back.”
“Humph! Kid, consider yourself lucky, Lan-er doesn’t want to have blood on her hands. I’ll comply with her words. Though Yan City’s master won’t let you off, and you won’t live anyway.”
Song Haishan sinisterly smiled and disappeared in the night, following after Lan-er’s back.
“Yunhai Lan….” As Yang Qi watched them leave with an exceptional speed, he knew that his Qi-craft was inferior to theirs and he was not their opponent. He spat out a mouthful of blood, but his heart bled much more.
He began to recall the previous events. The very first time he left home to gain experience and help in clan’s business, he met Yunhai Lan. She seemed like a fairy who immediately captured his heart. She also seemed to be returning his feelings. After their relationship progressed for a while, she told him about her desire to obtain the Dragon Subduing pill. After a long and bitter thinking, he eventually agreed, which lead him to his current state.
His body’s Qi-craft rapidly operated. His mind was telling him ‘You’ve to run!”
Otherwise, Yan City guards would catch up to him, in which case, not only he would bring shame to his clan, he would be subjected to a cruel treatment as well.
However, just as he’d operated his Qi-craft for a few moments and restored his ability to move…… Rustle! Several voices sounded one after another, following which, several seemingly savage figures appeared before him.
Among them, there was a man wearing at least fifty kilograms of cold-iron armor, and moving smoothly despite so. He looked like an ironclad ferocious beast. As soon as Yang Chi’s vision fell upon this man, he immediately lost all hope.
This man was Yan Capital City Master Mansion’s imperial bodyguard, Luo Hun. A terrifying individual whose Qi-craft far exceeded the fifth stage of ‘Qi Eruption realm’.
“Yang Qi, hand over the Dragon Subduing Pill you stole, and you’ll be exempt from death!”
Luo Hun’s two eyes lacked anything that could even barely resemble human emotions. Bringing along cold-iron armor’s grim and chilling feeling, he walked up to Yang Qi, and suddenly patted out, aiming towards the depths of Yang Qi’s lower abdomen where his Qi Sea lay.
Puff! Yang Qi again spurted out a mouthful of blood and suddenly felt his body losing strength like air leaking out of a popped balloon. The Qi-craft he had cultivated since the age of five was completely crippled.
“You…..crippled my Qi-craft!” A deathly, ashen complexion emerged on Yang Qi’s face as he fell into complete despair. His Qi-craft was crippled, and Qi Sea inside the dantian was ruptured. He could no longer condense Qi. From now on, he would be reduced to an ordinary person for the rest of his life.
“You stole the Dragon Subduing Pill, destroying your Qi-craft is merely a simple punishment,” Luo Hun coldly said, “Considering your identity as Yang family’s young master, and your aunt as well, I haven’t killed you straightaway. Men, tie him up on the tree. I’ll make a trip back and report this matter to the city master. Before hearing his verdict, take no action and preserve the scene. Let Yang family’s people come and see for themselves.”
The guards swiftly and efficiently tied Yang Qi on a tree, then spread around in different directions to keep watch.
Luo Hun, who was wearing fifty-kilograms-heavy armor, leaped up in the sky and glided towards the Yan capital city like a big bird.
Right at this moment, countless thunderbolts exploded in the sky. The rainstorm that had been brewing in the sky for a long time finally descended. This was a rainstorm during summer nights’ scorching hot weather.
Silver snakes ripped the pitch-black sky, and torrents rained down like waterfalls.
“This rain is really heavy! Lightning is also too much!” One of the guards watching Yang Qi shivered all over as he saw the heavy downpour as well as the frantically coiling silver-snaked lightning in the sky accompanied by unceasing thunderclaps.
Suddenly, lightning fell deep into the woods. A big, old tree immediately disintegrated amidst raging flames. The silver snakes flashing in between the rising steam looked terrifyingly conspicuous.
“We’ll be struck by lightning under the trees. Let’s leave these woods first, then decide what to do next.” A guard jumped in startlement and spoke with a palpitating heart, “Today’s storm seems a bit unusual. I haven’t seen one so big before. If we stay under trees, we would be struck by lightning and die even before uttering a cry. In the legends, it is said that even the experts surpassing Qi Ancestor realm wouldn’t be able to withstand heaven’s lightning strike.”
“Then what about this kid?”
“Rest assured, this kid’s martial arts has been crippled and he is also tied to a tree. You think he can still escape?”
The few imperial guards left the woods at once.
The moment they stepped out of the woods, an exceptionally bright thunderbolt swiftly descended in the woods, and the location it struck happened to be the tree on which Yang Qi had been tied to.
Yang Qi whole body was engulfed in frantically flickering lightning, giving off a burnt smell.
1 – The Qi-craft here is the same Qi Gong(气功) that is used in many other Chinese novels. Here, the author has used it in somewhat of a tricky way. I’m going to use Qi-craft here instead of simple Qi cultivation since it goes better with translation.