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Heaven shall not deny (Oregairu/Wuxia Original Setting)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by ZeroXSEED, Oct 12, 2020.

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  1. Threadmarks: Chapter 01 - Yin Fire, Yang Fire
    ZeroXSEED

    ZeroXSEED Closet Pervert

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    A long time ago, in a realm far away.

    In a world as vast as the heavens, where the lakes are small oceans, and islands were continents.

    The world is hostile and unfriendly. In this world, humans came into being, against all odds, perhaps even against heaven itself. In the deep pocket of regions unknown, almost barren to ordinary plants and beasts, they began to evolve.

    Humans lacked powers. They lacked the natural talent and physiology that the beast race evolved. They were born weak and vulnerable, and yet, against all expectations, they survived.

    They learn.

    And they learn quickly, quicker than any beast in existence. Bestowed with a thirst for knowledge, humans began to seek power for themselves.

    Thus, they began to cultivate.

    Through cultivating, they could break their physical and mental limit and ascend. Against the will of heaven, humans began to possess similar powers as the beast.

    Cultivators.

    The first age cultivators, they grew strong enough to put the first stone in the foundation of civilization. Through brute force, they began to expand outside their safe space.

    The second age cultivators, they taught their family members, from father to son, from mother to daughter, and sons and daughter taught grandsons and granddaughters, and the cycle continued endlessly. In the second age, the concept of clans came into being.

    Clans banded together to conquer even larger territory, thus formed what later known as tribes. As tribes competed with each other, the first human war erupted.

    In the aftermath of the war, the first peace treaty formed. Tribes worked together to build a semblance of a harmonious civilization, spanning over a large region, covering millions of human beings.

    Thus, came the first nation-state. The third age of humankind thus arrived.

    Details were sketchy between what happened back then and now. However, one thing for sure our ancestors did not come from this continent.

    Our ancestors came from the human Empire in the west. It said that ten thousand boys and ten thousand girls were sent on a mission by an Emperor named 'Qin Shi Huang' in search of the mythical island, where once can obtain the fruits of immortality.

    Their mission was a failure. The mythical island was just another continent, no different than the old one.

    Beasts roamed not only the land but also the sea. Stranded here, they began to rebuild a semblance of civilization in the continent.

    Thus, came into existence, the people of Yamato, in the land of the rising sun.

    Roughly eight hundred years have passed since then.

    And we're still scattered apart, not yet united.

    CHAPTER 1 - YIN FIRE, YANG FIRE

    Always without desire, we must be found,
    If its deep mystery we would sound;
    But if desire always within us be,
    Its outer fringe is all that we shall see.

    - Dao De Jing, Chapter 1

    In times of chaos and corruption, in the badlands where there's no centralized and organized ruling body loved and respected by the mass, humankind would return to their natural, unenlightened self.

    Competing for resources in the most brutish way possible, disregarding the rule of law and norms of politeness. The strength of one's fist and the sharpness of one's blade decide everything. Only those who have power have the privilege to speak out against injustice.

    Such is the written rule of the Pugilistic world*. The weak must fear the strong!

    And today wasn't the exception.

    The young Daoist raised his head, awakened from his shallow meditation as the wagon he rode came to a dead stop. From his calculation, this wagon only barely halfway to the journey, and smack dab in the middle of the border between Yachiyo and Inage.

    Spirit beast draft horse can pull six times their weight through a mildly mountainous area. Though they're twice as expensive as normal spirit beast riding horses, they can do a lot more work and require less care. As such, they are more cost-efficient for labor work.

    Farming commodities were precious, but in terms of money to weight ratio, they are extremely poor. Compared to say, herbs or rare minerals, caravans carrying hundred tons of rice and vegetables were far too cheap and too big to be bothered about.

    To rob and strip a farmer caravans out of precious wealth, one needs a large number of people. And the more people involved, the less the profit gained.

    And that's why, when this caravan stopped by a group of armed people, the Daoist was legitimately surprised.

    The Daoist stood fearlessly and then jumped down the wagon without letting any sound. His dark blue hair grew wild but not unkempt, a pair of tired, dispassionate eyes scanned the surrounding, noticed the fact that more and more armed people came out of the woodwork.

    He understood their motive at least.

    The caravans were not unguarded in the first place, a few warriors cracked their fist and flex their muscles as they walked forward ahead of the young Daoist.

    These warriors, they're not high class by any means. Most of them haven't reached the cultivation stage of Foundation Establishment**. The young Daoist looked like he's barely finished puberty, perhaps 17 or 18 years old, yet his cultivation was much higher than them.

    The people who decided to get in the way of caravans, they're not different either.

    "Yo, old man." A burly bearded man wearing a loose coat that exposed his bulging extremely ripped and hairy chest said to the aging caravan leader. "This big brother didn't come here to seek a problem, merely asking a favor."

    "W-w-w-what do you want, if it's not so crippling I am more than willing to provide." The aged farmer said, "I'm just a humble farmer, so please have some mercy."

    "My brothers were starving, would you be so kind as to drop a few sacks of rice for us? We wouldn't be asking much, twenty sacks would be enough."

    One sack of rice, each weight 60 kg. Twenty sack of rice, 1.2 ton. Compared to hundreds of tons of rice being carried by this caravan fleet, how much is that in comparison? The Farmer would happily give them as long as he can if safe passage can be guaranteed.

    But the Daoist was skeptical that this is the end of the whole deal.

    The Daoist looked at the escorting warriors, seething because their pride had been trampled. It was crystal clear that even if they're a low-level warrior at best, they still have a semblance of personal pride.

    Having lousy bandits proverbially trampling over them like this, they have no face left to show!

    "Uncle, let's not give in so easily. I have a bad feeling about this." One of them whispered to the Caravan leader.

    "If it was just fighting them head to head then it should not be a problem." The Caravan leader smiled in resignation, "But protecting everyone's safety, and the safety of the trade commodities is more important."

    The chief warrior grit his teeth in shame.

    The Daoist sighed, the world is cruel and unjust, those who were weak can only be presented a series of bad options, and had to pick the least bad out as compromise.

    Compared to their lives, twenty sack of rice was nothing.

    "Men, take the bags out." The bandit boss ordered, and his men began to climb over the lead wagon and throw around a couple of sacks of rice down.

    Twenty sacks unloaded, there should be around 80 sacks left in this large wagon.

    The Daoist noticed something and approached the lead wagon. However, before he can inspect it, one of the bandits grabbed his wrist.

    "Yo, little brother, what are you doing?"

    The Daoist flinched. They have a hidden agenda!

    "...Bring that Daoist boy here and strip all his treasures." The Boss ordered. "Leave his clothes on and whatever money he had."

    "That's against the deal!" The chief escorting warrior roared, "You promised not to touch anyone that came with us!"

    "Did I say that?" The Bandit boss dismissively asked as he picked his right ears with his pinky.

    The Daoist grabbed the offending hand and put a little pressure, made the lanky bandit scream in pain, and released him.

    The lanky bandit flailed his hand but noticed that it wasn't hurt at all. The Daoist pressed his acupoints to deliver hefty pain without actually breaking anything. There wasn't even a mark left!

    "Uncle should run and pick another route." The Daoist said to the leader of the Caravan. "They put a tracking seal on the lead caravan, and will rob you when you finished your business in Inage."

    "HUH?!"

    Indeed, when the robbers unloaded rice sacks from the leading Wagon, they also secretly put a tracking seal on it. That way, they can sense when the Wagon left the city and thus can prey on the hard-earned money.

    For people of low cultivation, the seals are very much invisible. However, the young Daoist had a solid foundation and felt the mark as soon as it's put on the Wagon body.

    "Tracking seal?" The chief escort warrior gasped in shock.

    "That means there's a Foundation** level cultivator in the group of bandits." The Daoist grinned manically.

    "Peh!" The escorting warriors collectively spat down, then pulled their weapons out in anger.

    "What kind of trash, his mother must be ashamed of giving birth to him!"

    "Coward! Worthless!"

    "Loser scum!!"

    "WHO ARE YOU CALLING TRASH?!"

    A red-robed young man jumped out of the bush and landed with a loud thud, the ground underneath him cracked slightly from the impact. The man had a tall build with a slim yet solid frame, as shown by his relatively tight robe.

    Everyone present immediately felt the pressure.

    "Master! Why did you come out?!" The Bandit 'boss' asked in concern. Fear and uncertainty filled his words.

    "Nevermind, the caravan can go. But that Daoist and escorts...." The tall man made a neck-slicing gesture. "They're going to die."

    "Try it, bastard!" Chief escort warrior howled as he pulled a two-handed ax from his back, it's head was thin as the finest iron blade but somewhat broad and it's shaft over one and a half meter.

    The Daoist stopped the Chief from going ahead recklessly. "That Elementalist had his foundation established, you're no match for him."

    The Chief was skeptical, but he already sensed that the young Daoist have a higher cultivation level than him, so he can't say anything.

    Both the Chief and the Bandit Boss are at the peak stage of Condensation***, which was one step before Foundation. As such, in terms of internal energy, neither are a match for the Daoist and the Elementalist.

    To be honest, the Daoist wasn't expecting things to escalate this much. However, since the Bandits wanted all of his important treasures, he didn't even have the privilege to run away.

    Fight to the death! When it comes to the Pugilistic world, this is the only way to solve things and cut the loose end!

    And he hated it.

    He hated this stupid, self-destructive cycle permeating the world. If there's such a thing as an absolute wish-granting artifact, then the Daoist would wish for world peace!

    He should not have interfered in the first place. He wasn't entirely sure why either. Righteous cause? Bah. Nonsense.

    Maybe it was pity?

    But alas, it was too late to ponder.

    No takebacks!

    The young Daoist pulled his weapon out of his slung bag. At first one might think it was a long, straight two-handed sword. However, one would notice that it was unusually thick and dull, and it has a flat, chisel-like tip.

    This weapon was considered a mace and called [Iron Ruler]. This kind of weapon was intended for self-defense and incapacitation than immediate killing, iron rulers are commonly used by mansion guards and city patrol.

    Despite this, the impact force delivered through the dull edge would be more than enough to cave through the skull easily.

    "A two-handed Iron Ruler? First time I see one." The Elementalist pulled a pile of paper from his pocket and throw them to the ground.

    Shikigami.

    Shikigami, literally means Paper gods, are creatures born from paper and paperlike material. They're nothing but servants to their masters, most of them lacked awareness let alone sentience.

    An Onmyouji mastered not only Yin-Yang and Five Element based natural science and occultism, but also the art of creation. An Onmyouji without Shikigami servants worth nothing on the battlefield.

    Yet, the Daoist felt like something is off. The paper flies in a pattern as a pillar of black-red light surged from the ground.

    No!

    "Blood Slave?!"

    Throwing such a dangerous summoning technique just to kill a young cultivator... the Daoist doesn't know if this wretched Omnyouji was being careless or careful.

    He was confident that in full frontal confrontation, a Daoist will always win against an Onmyouji, but this addition changes the equation considerably.

    Normal Shikigami was bad enough, but Blood Slave is something else. A Blood Slave has the same level of cultivation as the summoner, however, they're not necessarily a slouch in close combat.

    But more than just its strength, the origin of a Blood Shikigami is incredibly insidious. And it made the Daoist's stomach churned, so he began to recite the holy passages in his mind.

    "Heaven which by it is bright and pure;
    Earth rendered thereby firm and sure;
    Spirits with powers by it supplied;
    Valleys kept full throughout their void."


    The Daoist stabbed the earth with his Iron ruler. Yellow light spreads from the impact site and glowing letters spread out and crawl like snakes toward the pillar.

    As he did, he also skillfully executed a series of hand seals, so fast that it almost came like a blur. His nerve fired up and yet the beat of his heart became much slower as he achieved a state of true zen.

    "All these are the results of the Dao.
    If heaven were not thus pure, it soon would rend;
    If earth were not sure, it would break and bend;"

    "Without that life, creatures would pass away;
    Princes and kings, without that moral sway,
    However grand and high, would all decay."


    "[The Origin of the Law.****]" He spoke aloud.

    The black-red light subdued and then imploded into nothingness as the letters strangled it forcefully.

    Both the Daoist and the Onmyouji coughed biles as their internal force collided and caused a recoil effect. However, it only caused minor internal injuries and they quickly rebounded.

    The Daoist finished and the glowing letters ceased to exist. The Onmyouji gasped in shock.

    "YOU BASTARD!"

    "Doing something so heinous, it's like you're asking to be bricked by Karma." The Daoist held his Iron Ruler parallel to his forehead, ready to strike.

    "Who cares about Karma! DIE!" The opponent threw more papers that turned into birdlike creatures with bladed wings. A true Shikigami might not be individually strong, but they're more than able to match cultivators in large numbers.

    The Daoist leaped forward and spun his Iron Ruler to deflect deadly slashes and strikes aimed at him. Each hits increasingly get closer to him that he felt his finger got stung by the force blades, like the worst papercut in history.

    Though they are of the same level of cultivation the difference of experience and mastery of strength is too much!

    Furthermore, an iron ruler is not as fluid and as flexible as a sword. Defending against multiple attacks is exactly where it's the weakest.

    This Foundation level Onmyouji is truly terrifying!

    Meanwhile, the clash between bandits and the guards erupted shortly after. Though the guards have a slight number of disadvantages, they fought fiercely without regard to their lives. Facing this, many of the weaker bandits decided to bail out as soon as they suffer an injury and fleed.

    "Traitor! I'll spank your ass when I'm done with these bastards!" The burly underboss screamed as his fists clashed with the equally muscular Chief of escort warrior.

    Being at the peak stage of Ki Condensation, both of them are incredibly strong and determined. Their internal energy unleashed, created an expanding blastwave that throws anyone close by a couple of feet away.

    The Daoist, young and inexperienced he was, somewhat disturbed. Though his cultivation level was higher, in terms of combat potential he's not that much ahead of these two pile of hulking muscles.

    The Onmyouji in front of him did not even blink, further cementing his superiority. Seeing the gaps in the Daoist's defense, he threw out a palm-shaped dark red Ki energy that smashed the Daoist's chest with the full force of a speeding cart.

    The youth's body flew, then stopped when he hit a tree, leaving considerable damage to it.

    "You're so green and immature, yet dare to show off. It's time to teach you some humility, boy."

    The Onmyouji sent his blade-winged paper birds to finish the Daoist, which sent mortal terror through the youth's spine. The youth was not able to dodge, but at the very least, he can use a Ki shield to mitigate the impact.

    However, the birds never came into contact as a strange, slithering entity ripped and burned them to shreds.

    "WHO WAS THAT?!"

    A red-haired girl stood beside the Daoist, she wore a purple and red dress that reveals her upper shoulders and collarbones, but otherwise, it looks like a normally shortened kimono. She wore steel greaves and armored sandals.

    In her hand was a whip sword.

    This kind of weapon is rare and exquisite, and in fact, a whip sword is indistinguishable from living beings in movement. They're made by encasing bundles of highly processed whale whiskers with steel blade pieces and using Ki strength of the wielder, the whisker strand will extend and contract on their will.

    When the muscle contracted, the sword will appear like a normal straight, double-edged sword. But when extended, it became a bladed whip, not unlike a snake covered in razor-sharp fins.

    The Daoist let out a yellow glow from his hand to heal his internal injury first before stood up.

    He could feel extremely intense pressure from the girl, so she must be a powerful foundation cultivator at least.

    "DIE!"

    Two hand-shaped Ki blast erupted from the hand of the Onmyouji, however, the Daoist scoffed and simply bat both attacks aside. The residual force of the blast carved several meter long trenches and shattered trees beside him.

    The young Daoist didn't even break a sweat.

    "Onmyouji is reliant on weak Shikigami to fight up close, whip sword with its reach and flexibility almost certainly is a great hard counter." The Daoist stated matter of factly. "As for Ki projection and heavy strikes, my Long Ruler is more than suffice."

    Indeed, an iron ruler is made more sturdy than a sword of equal quality. Naturally, its ability to defend exceed that of a sword. As long as the internal strength of the wielder is enough, it could withstand anything. Furthermore, his Long Ruler is even longer and heavier.

    "You talk too much for a loser." The red-haired girl said cockily. "Had it not for me you'd probably dead already."

    "Whose side are you on again?" The Daoist winced in response.

    "Nevermind about that." The girl said. "Someone dressed and act like Onmyouji, yet made a pact with the demonkind through blood slave." Her eyes began to glow. "Someone like that must be exterminated."

    She whipped her sword and threw dozens upon dozens of fire bolts. Each packing more than enough strength to incinerate mortal man, the Onmyouji can barely able to withstand it with his own Ki shield.

    "Whoa, a red-haired girl with fire elemental power, what a surprise." The Daoist commented in full deadpan. This development can't possibly get more predictable.

    "You bring shame to the name of Yin Yang School." The Girl leaped with her sword. The sword glow with unearthly burning light, like that of a spilled lava.

    The whip sword forged with the fire element in mind, because of this, the sword would augment her fire element attacks.

    She struck her opponent's Ki shield, and the resulting impact set ablaze bushes and scorched trees around them. Their strength was evenly matched, and the girl decided to retreat.

    "Damn it! He mastered five element shield!" She shouted.

    "Seriously?" The Daoist whined.

    Five element shield... it's a simple technique on appearance, yet also complicated to master. Essentially, it was an intermediate level Ki shield that can change elements according to the user's own mastery of elements. Just now, the Onmyouji switched to water element shield that extinguish her own fire.

    "Little girl, I won't kill you just yet." The Onmyouji licked his lips. "Your body as a new Blood slave would be nice."

    "I see." The Daoist put two fingers and traced the length of his iron ruler, the slab of metal began to hum and then burn with demonic blue and black flame.

    "YIN FIRE!" The Onmyouji gasped in fear.

    The Daoist blasted through the air with the full power of his ki behind him, created an aftershock that threw dust and dried leaves around.

    The Onmyouji panicked, immediately switched back into fire element shield, and the collision this time around extinguished the fire around them with intense Yin energy. This young Daoist is no joke!

    That was when the girl sneaked and stabbed through. She carved opened the man's red Ki-shield like a knife through parchment. Because the element is identical, the strained fire element shield lost immediately against the augmented fire element sword.

    The full power of two Foundation-level cultivators, not even the strongest cultivator of a similar level can win against that without a supremely powerful technique or talisman. Five element shield simply not good enough!

    The Onmyouji widened his eyes and spat blood when she stabbed through his chest, right through the sternum. However, the red-haired girl gasped when she realized it was a trap.

    "I'll take you along for the ride!" He grinned as blood began to seep from his pores and evaporate.

    The Daoist realized this and charged as quickly as he could, while doing a series of hand seals and focused all of his Ki in a single move.

    The Daoist kicked the dying Onmyouji away as his skin began to boil and constantly releasing strange stench and blood vapor.

    Hundreds of glowing letters flew to all directions then converged around him and the girl. Much to her shock, he hugged her and the letters tightly pushed her even closer.

    Then there was an explosion.

    The blood vapor that leaked from the Bandit leader's body turned into volatile gas that exploded with enough force to blow up a small castle. Both the bandits and the guards were thrown by the shockwave, though not the direct explosion. However, the Daoist and the girl took the brunt of the impact.

    It was certain that this explosion caused deafening noise and air blast, that animals kilometers away from the explosion point scattered in fear for their life.

    The young Daoist and Elementalist were thrown at least tens of meters away, right into one of the abandoned carts, and broke through it, spilling rice everywhere. The sacks of rice thankfully acted as cushions in the process, dampening their second impact with the wagon's wooden structure and inevitably the ground behind.

    The girl and the Daoist separated when they rolled on the ground groaning.

    "Ack." She quickly recovered, and then focused her mind to recall her sword. The sword flies quickly and stopped when she grabbed it. "I didn't expect him to be so reckless. And you-"

    The girl stopped when she saw the young Daoist kneeling, blood spilling from the corner of his mouth.

    Through his Ki shield holds, the backlash seems to cause quite an amount of internal damages.

    "HEY DON'T DIE JUST YET!" The girl screamed hysterically. "AT LEAST TELL ME YOUR NAME IDIOT!"

    The young Daoist groaned. "Shut up, I'm not deaf."

    "Oh, thank heavens!" She picked him up, then noticed that most of the warriors survived, she called them. "HEY."

    They immediately scrambled to help the near-unconscious young Daoist. The Daoist gave out his Iron Ruler and they noticed something carved on its surface.

    Hikigaya.

    And he passed out soon after.

    "So his name is Hikigaya." The girl sharpened her eyes.

    "Gather the survivors and mend the injuries, we're continuing our way to Inage." The Chief Warrior flinched when he noticed a shallow but wide gash on his back. "Ow."

    "Chief!"

    "I'm fine. The wound is skin deep." Chief shook his head. "Make sure this young Daoist and this Miss treated well, we owe them our lives."

    The girl sighed, truthfully she can just continue her way alone, but she was too tired and cannot be bothered.

    "Sagami." She said. "You can call me Sagami, from Yin-Yang School****."

    ...

    Author's note: All measurement is in metric for Reader's convenience. In-universe, they use the ancient Japan measurement system.
    Many cultivation terms will use Japanese/Chinese in dialogue but translated accordingly in the narrative & Exposition.
    * Also known as "World of Martial Arts" or 江湖 (Jianghu). Means Lakes and Rivers. It represents a vast world full of mysteries, wonders, and dangers that follow.
    ** Written as 筑基 (Tsuki) = Basis Establishment/Foundation Building. Generally the fourth step in Cultivation where a person's condensed energy passed a certain threshold in density and began to permanently reinforce their body.
    *** 凝気 (Gyouki) = Ki Condensation/Ki Hardening. The third step in cultivation where a person can absorb and refine energy from the outside world and condense it inside their body.
    **** Dao De Jing Chapter 39
    ***** Yin-Yang School (陰陽家) also known as School of Naturalism was a philosophy that built the foundation of natural science around five elements and Yin-Yang as a foundation.
     
  2. taovkool

    taovkool Professional Simp

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    So what kind of story is this? An Isekai? A fusion? Alternate history?
     
  3. ZeroXSEED

    ZeroXSEED Closet Pervert

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    Historical fantasy AU.
     
    taovkool likes this.
  4. Threadmarks: Chapter 02 - The cunning Fire Fox
    ZeroXSEED

    ZeroXSEED Closet Pervert

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    All in the world know the beauty of the beautiful, and in doing this they have the idea of what ugliness is; they all know the skill of the skillful, and in doing this they have the idea of what the want of skill is.
    So it is that existence and non-existence give birth the one to the idea of the other; that difficulty and ease produce the one the idea of the other.

    - Dao De Jing, Chapter 2

    "Birds die in pursuit of food, man dies chasing wealth." This wisdom in its exact words did not come from this realm of ancient age, yet it's value remains the same across time.

    In times of chaos and corruption, in the badlands where there's no centralized and organized ruling body loved and respected by the mass, mankind would return back to their natural, unenlightened self.

    Competing for resources in the most brutish way possible, disregarding the rule of law and norms of politeness. The strength of one's fist and the sharpness of one's blade decide everything, only those who have power have the privilege to speak out.

    Such is the written rule of the Pugilistic world. The weak must fear the strong!

    If you want to survive and thrive, you need strength. To obtain strength, you need to cultivate. To cultivate, one must first learn the basics.

    Mikazuki School of Cultivation, Mihama, was one of such schools. It was one of the ordinary cultivation schools for those who do not have clans or renowned families but have enough money to spare for their education.

    Here, teens from ages thirteen to fifteen spent three years learning the basics of cultivation. Most people would graduate around the second stage, [Ki Channeling]. It could be said that cultivation school was nothing but basic of the basic, most people did not reach [Ki Condensation] stage until they left puberty and experienced the physical maturation of a young adult.

    If they managed to reach the third stage of cultivation [Ki Condensation] before graduation, then they would be considered genius already.

    "A lot of skill and arts that available to people with [Ki Channeling] stage of cultivation is useful not just in a clash of swords, but also idyllic daily life." The young boy with messy dark blue hair explained awkwardly, "Whether you're a farmer or a woodcutter, whether you're a herbalist or a merchantman, cultivation is a very useful skill and it would be best to learn it to some degree even if one strayed from the path of the sword."

    "Good answer, Hikigaya-kun. But you focused too much on the martial aspect of cultivation." The teacher visibly smiled and waved, so the boy sat down again. He did so, fidgetting all the way and embarrassed.

    "Cultivation isn't just a way of fighting, it paves the roadmap of your life ahead of you, so you can hold to your principles and never led astray."

    A person's cultivation is a reflection of one's soul, mind, and body. A person can have godly talent, but without effort and will to sharpen it, talent is worthless.

    Cultivation is not just about power. Cultivation is a way of life.

    "It's only six months until the end of your second year, most of you already achieved the pinnacle of [Ki Gathering] stage, and few of you achieved [Ki Channeling] stage, which is great." The teacher sighed. "I only wish you people would be more ambitious."

    Once a young teenager achieves [Ki Channeling] stage, cultivation will grow naturally with age and stop when their internal energy is fully condensed. Thus, most people would have reach [Ki Condensation] stage given enough time, presuming they use Ki energy for daily activities.

    But when it comes to people who stepped in the path of Martial Arts, the story is entirely different.

    "This is just a public school, so why bother?" Someone joked, "It's not like most of us hailed from clans or anything."

    Indeed, unlike those from clans, students of Public Cultivation School such as Mikazuki Academy only have a limited selection of resources and material when it comes to true cultivation. To make sure the cost are lower and accessible from people of all background, Mikazuki only offers the basic of the basics.

    At the end of the day, the result can only be decided by the students' own initiative, whether they seek for resources on their own or they have full clan support behind them.

    The gap between ordinary people and clan members are truly staggering. The likelihood is that the number of students who remain to stay in their third years would be cut by two thirds at the very least.

    For those people who are satisfied, they would usually drop out by the end of the second year, when they achieved the Ki Channeling stage of cultivation. After that, they would seek an apprenticeship or simply continuing the family business, doing the same job as their parents did, or something else that gave immediate rewards.

    The school would then invest more attention toward the remaining students, however, the students in the third year are burdened with a physical, mental, and financial burden far beyond that of previous years. This is because government subsidies were limited, and the third year does not receive it anymore.

    "Hikigaya, are you going to continue to the third year?" A girl with curly, hazel-colored hair asked. The boy shook his head in response.

    "I... I don't know." He said, his lips trembled as he spoke. "My parents said I shouldn't stop halfway unless I hit a roadblock."

    "Well, your cultivation speed is higher than average. You were the first in this class to reach Ki Channeling stage after all." She laughed heartily as she ate her lunch. "I thought you have a clan or something. Your parents both are at Foundation level aren't they?"

    He shook his head. "It's true that my family has a long lineage of Cultivators, but we're too disorganized to be called a clan."

    "Disorganized?"

    "I don't even have a cousin in Mihama. My entire family spread all over the country."

    "I see."

    Though it was true that the Hikigaya family have a specific cultivation technique, most of his family members ended up as civilians anyway.

    His parents, for example, worked as mid-level officials in the Mihama city hall. One of the more respected professions for middle-class people, just one step under nobility. More than cultivation or physical strength, clerical works demand a higher level of education and intelligence.

    Hikigaya wasn't interested in following their steps in the slightest. Maybe he should continue cultivating after he graduated instead.

    "What about you, Orimoto?"

    "I'm not continuing." She said, but instead of regret and sadness, he saw a relief. "Martial path isn't for me at all. Learning just the basics of defending myself and my family is enough."

    "I... I see." He wavered. "That's a pity."

    "It can't be helped. Heaven wills and I shall follow, it was fun while it lasted, but the wall I must climb, it's not worth it." Orimoto told him. "What about you, Hikigaya? Do you have what it takes?"

    He was quiet, even though his mouth was open wide.

    "As long as you're on my side, m-maybe."

    ***​

    Hikigaya recoiled from his sleep before a train of pleasant memories turned into the worst nightmare. His breath was erratic, and he felt awful. His body aches on every inch of surface and underneath, but soon it became dull.

    He couldn't even lift his eyelids open.

    He focused all his senses in the lower dantian, the spot underneath the navel where the Ki was gathered in the largest amount of quantities in the human body. And so, he tapped into it.

    He felt the surge of Ki within his blood veins and nerve system and focused them to fix his battered body as soon as possible.

    He was sleeping inside a bathtub? The bathtub was filled to the brim with shredded leaves and floating roots. There was a strong smell of medicine from the water.

    "Woke up already?" A girl in purple robe asked. "Not much I can scrounge up in this tiny town, I hope brother Daoist is satisfied."

    Ah, it's the flame Elementalist.

    "Did you save me?" He asked.

    "Yes." She haughtily replied with a smug grin on her face. "I'd like to bill you for the treatment, but just consider we're even. No need to thank me."

    Eh, of course, nothing under the heavens is free. Give and take, or take forcibly, that's the law of the pugilistic world. He always wondered, was human decency such a rare commodity? Hypothetically speaking, a world where altruism is a value to be held, it should exist.

    But this world is not one of them.

    "Alright then."

    She threw a single spherical object to him, which he caught with his hand. "This coldness... Spirit Water essence pills?"

    At first glance, it looks like it was made of glass, but the texture of the sphere was soft and squishy. It glows a gentle blue light when exposed to the sun.

    By no means anything legendary, however, spirit water essence is a collection of refined water Ki energy embedded within a distilled spring water. That's not something that someone can throw out so casually.

    "In my entire short life as a cultivator, this is the first time I met someone who uses the Yin fire element." She told him. "Would that work with yours?"

    "No, Spirit Water essence is too pure for a cultivator of my caliber." He threw it back to her. "Something like Spirit Water Droplets would be fine."

    She looked at it and twitched, a mixture of confusion and annoyance drawn on her pretty face. "A treasure one ranked lower? I hate someone pretend to be humble."

    "Humility is a virtue but so is frugality." He scoffed. "Greed is nothing but the road to one's downfall. Don't chew what you can't swallow."

    "This is why I hate Daoist, you talk as if the heavens always have your back." She threw him a tiny pouch. "Five spirit water droplets. That's all I have."

    "Much appreciated."

    "...Say, you're going to Mihama, right?" She asked as she turned her face away. "A foundation level cultivator at my own age, there can't be any other reason."

    "What makes you think I want to go to Mihama?"

    "Just a hunch."

    "...My Master told me to go there." He said as he pulled five clear pills out of the bag with his energy. Each obediently sat on top of his right-hand fingers.

    He didn't deny the fact that he intended to go to Mihama, though. "I honestly don't know about her reasoning."

    Though he wouldn't put it past her to deal with such a troublesome business. What a chore.

    Spirit water droplets might look identical to the higher-grade spirit water essence, at least in the front of a low-ranked cultivator. However, in the eyes of those with advanced ranks, the all-consuming yet peaceful gleam radiated from each pill was on a whole different level.

    He focused his energy into his fingertips and the pills set ablaze in blue flame, shortly before he swallowed it.

    His eyes also set ablaze with dark blue fire as the burning water element Ki spread through his body violently.

    However, the injuries of his body rapidly heal.

    "I'll try to be polite then, the name is Minami. Sagami Minami. Yin-Yang School of Flame elements. How about you, Brother Daoist?"

    "Hikigaya Hachiman. Daoist, human path. Don't be too polite."

    They both exchanged a small bow with their hands clasped. If not their personality, they respect each other level of comprehension.

    "Soothing relief to my uneasy heart." She smirked. "Come down quickly if you're recovered, or else you'll end up starving."

    As he stood up, the water within the bathtub already cleared lost its color, and nary any scent of herbs left. Everything had been absorbed perfectly by his Yin attuned body.

    This girl knew what she was doing.

    Even though he said she scrouged the town and never encountered someone with Yin fire cultivation before, her recipe for herb bath was this close to perfection.

    Yet another weird day in this world full of mysteries and wonders. Hikigaya Hachiman knew, even if such a thing as altruism is rare, the code of honor still remains among people at large.

    Fools.

    Then again, he might be the biggest fool of all.

    "I almost died back there." He muttered. "I wonder what Master will do if I tell her about this?"

    CHAPTER 02 - THE CUNNING FIRE FOX

    When he came out of his room fully dressed, he descended down the stairs and was greeted by the sight of a big feast in the Inn's dining room.

    "Oh, our righteous hero had descended. Come! Come and join us!" The boisterous warrior chief called in. "The least we could do to repay your kindness!"

    Really?

    "Eh, I..."

    "What are you standing there for, come!" The leader of the rice caravan smiled and waved at him. "Sagami-dono also joined us!"

    Hachiman rolled his eyes aside to see Sagami Minami surrounded by a bunch of enthusiastic young men from the warrior group.

    Even though she put out a bright smile, Hachiman could tell that she barely held back her ego in check. She enjoyed the praise and attention they showered her with.

    In this cruel and unjust world, right and wrong are decided solely by the contest of body and mind. But there are people who can stay alive regardless of circumstances. People who are cunning, and people who are unshakably principled.

    If these simpleton warriors are principled, then Sagami Minami must be a cunning one.

    "Then I'll help myself." Hachiman sat down in an empty space they prepared. "Thanks for the food."

    "Two youngsters at Foundation level saved my bum, this old man truly blessed." The caravan boss raised a glass of wine politely. "It seems that all the genius from this region is gathering in Mihama, as expected."

    "What is the big deal with Mihama?" Hachiman asked. "It's not even the capital of the region."

    "Eh?" The warrior chief blinked in confusion. "You don't know?"

    "Not at all." Hachiman truthfully replied, no reason to lie at all. Of course, he knew very well that it would elicit a response from them.

    "This is a rumor I've heard, but a mysterious Sage sent an announcement for Sword Tournament for young Foundation-level Cultivators. And the prize was secret, but it was rumored to be a sacred artifact."

    Sacred artifact?

    "I didn't get an invitation myself..." Hachiman replied. "It has nothing to do with me, evidently."

    In this region, Cultivation levels can be split into seven broad categories.

    The first level, [Ki Gathering], essentially gathering the Ki from outside into one's own body. The second level is [Ki Channeling], that is, to channel absorbed Ki into one's own body and mind. Around this level, the cultivator can show extraordinary feats.

    However, the state of improvement used by those who achieved the Ki channeling stage is nothing but a temporary boost. Near the peak of the Ki channeling stage, a cultivator will begin to absorb Ki on an instinctual basis, not requiring much effort. If enough Ki gathered inside their body, the Ki will condense into a reservoir inside the lower Dantian, ready to be tapped anytime.

    Thus the cultivator reached the third stage, [Ki Condensation]. The average cultivators generally stopped at this level, unable to make a breakthrough.

    However, both Hikigaya Hachiman and Sagami Minami already reached the fourth stage. Their lower Dantian began to reinforce itself which able to compress the condensed Ki into a denser, viscous state.

    Not only that, even their veins and nerve system also strengthened to withstand the burden of absorbing and releasing a tremendous amount of Ki.

    Thus this stage is called [Foundation Building].

    Among thousands of Cultivators, maybe a few dozens can manage to reach it, even fewer are people who barely qualifies as a young adult to achieve it. Those youths, fresh out of puberty, yet possess a strength that many black-hearted seniors would kill for.

    Genius cultivators. They were seen with fear and awe.

    It was clear that, even subconsciously, they were trying to curry favor from him. Hachiman scoffed. Not that he can't blame them.

    There's a lot of shade under a big tree. Survival before pride, the weak will gather under the strong, voluntarily, or by force.

    "Perhaps it was because Brother Hikigaya didn't work hard enough." Sagami jabbed. "Just kidding."

    Just a joke huh?

    People really can say hurtful things and then hides behind jokes. Hachiman knew she probably taunted him on purpose, but he was too numb to be phased out by such petty behavior.

    "Perhaps I am not worthy!" Hachiman smirked. "Let's raise a glass for Sister Sagami's talent and strength."

    The girl twitched, he was clearly mocking her in return. However, she can't really show her annoyance in front of other people, and she ended up sending out a fake smile and encouragement. "You are too humble, brother."

    "You welcome. By the way, where are we?"

    "Inage City."

    Ah.

    "Then I shall bid farewell." Hachiman clasped his fingers politely and stood up. "My Master probably waiting for my arrival, I have no courage to make her wait longer than necessary."

    "Oh, it's a pity." The Caravan boss sighed. "This might not be much, but please accept this gift."

    Hachiman was presented with a token card made of solid gold. This is the highest unit of currency in the region. One such card has the same value as five tons of rice in the market.

    It's not much, but it's not small money either. Still, Hachiman had zero interest.

    "Sister Sagami can have it."

    "I have to decline." Sagami also stood up. "Not meant to disrespect, but my share is my share and his share is not for me to take."

    Yet she still has the face to take the gift given to her, but still, she wasn't wrong. She wasn't being greedy but rather being grateful. By accepting the gift, she gave the leader of the caravan a face.

    It was as if the caravan boss wanted to cry.

    "...Fine, I'll take it..." Hachiman said as he hesitantly swiped it. "Farewell."

    "I shall take my excuse as well." Sagami also followed.

    They respectfully bowed in gratitude as the two young yet incredibly powerful martial heroes left.

    However, Hachiman made a detour and asked the receptionist. "The rice trader and his bodyguards, how much they owe for lodging and food?"

    "Ah?"

    After hearing the sum of the bill, Hachiman put the gold card on the desk. "Give me back the change in silver coins and pennies."

    "Silver? Please wait."

    Hachiman received a bag of silver coins in return. This bag of coins isn't the same value as a gold card, but its no small money either.

    "Seriously?" Sagami eyed him with disbelief.

    "What, you think running with a gold plate in my hand is easy? Silver coins are more convenient, but not as awful as iron coins to carry."

    A gold card is worth 4 gold coins and one gold coin worth 50 silver coins. Aside from that, a gold card is worth 250 silver pennies, the smallest domination of silver coin. Beneath that, there's a black iron coin that is used for a small transaction.

    For a Daoist, this guy absolutely lacks humility. No, this guy saw everything in the most disgusting form of pragmatism. By exchanging the gold card here, he can avoid going to the Banker guilds which is a more conspicuous action that may draw even a tiny bit of attention.

    "Are you sure you're not from School of Legalist***?"

    "Leave me alone." He chided. "We have a different goal coming here, why stalking me?"

    "Where did that confidence come from? Your ugly face?" She spat. "Disgusting."

    "Hey, if there's one thing I have supreme confidence of, it's my handsome face." He argued as he strokes his sharp chin, thin hair sprouted out of them but not enough to make a goatee.

    Well... he was right that his face is handsome, but she was also correct that he always sported that dour and unenthusiastic ugly expression.

    Still, it doesn't change the fact that Hachiman actually paid for the Caravan's lodging and food, Sagami wondered if he was naive, stupid, or some combination thereof. There was also the fact that he risked his own life to protect her in the previous incident. If she was even the tiniest bit ungrateful, he'll probably be left to die.

    Like watching a crashing wagon set on fire, she was sickened but unable to look away and decided to stick with him.

    "Let me ask something then. You could just leave the seal alone until the caravan leaves safely, why did you provoke them?"

    "They tried to rob me." He told her as a matter of fact. "If they let me go, I wouldn't raise a stink about it. At least, not in that disadvantageous situation."

    It was because they were too greedy. And it pissed him off the most. Besides which, the caravan escorts were itching for a fight. The confrontation was just a matter of time.

    "I sensed demonic intent the moment they confront you. That's why I hurriedly catch up with the frontmost wagon and wait for the right time to intervene."

    Huh, so she was sitting in the rearmost wagon?

    "But the Origin of the Law truly is a powerful decree. You're able to negate the Blood Slave summoning just like that." Sagami chuckled. "It's like the heaven itself descend upon him, the filthy bastard."

    "Calling it heaven's wrath is an overstatement..." Hachiman said. "The Origin of the Law is nothing more than the correction mechanism, Blood Slave is a violation of heavenly law, therefore the Origin of the Law is very potent against them."

    Against bog-standard cultivator or demonic beast, it has little potency. Not worth the cost.

    "Really? This Sister must be overestimating it." Sagami snickered in response.

    This girl really had no heart at all, Hachiman thought. But anyone that soft-hearted, could they achieve Foundation Establishment at the prime age of 17 or 18?

    Nah.

    "What's that crowd?"

    It was like seeing chaos, near the main gate of Inage city. The bustling crowd didn't put their attention away from a chaotic group of wounded cultivators nearby, surrounded by town guards.

    "What a monster!"

    "They're all at the peak of Condensation! Humiliated like this!"

    Sagami and Hachiman approached them curiously.

    "Excuse me, what happened?" Sagami asked.

    "They said they were attacked by an Onikuma. The civilians they escorted were all dead." The town guard replied in concern. "What misfortune will befall this city next? Heavens help us!"

    "Onikuma don't attack in the middle of the day!" Hachiman commented. "Are you sure?"

    Onikuma -the demon bear- was known to ambush its prey in the middle of the night. Usually a weaker demon beast, but opportunistic predator they are, Onikuma was also known to prey on weak humans and their domesticated animals.

    However, to attack organized cultivators... something didn't add up at all.

    "Ow. I swear by my father!" One of the wounded cultivators groaned as he held his bleeding side. "This Onikuma so massive I mistook it for a mound of earth."

    Sagami and Hachiman exchanged a grave expression. Onikuma can't possibly grow that big. Not naturally.

    "Hard to believe." Sagami closed one eye. "But look at that damage on the wagon."

    Diagonal slashes, easily finger deep, and one particularly nasty strike cut a chunk of the wagon entirely. Usually, that kind of damage can only be done by a cultivator's heavy blade.

    Hachiman looked at their wound and the description matched. Since they're at the Condensation stage, it takes a great amount of force just to scratch their flesh.

    Hachiman agreed. "The claw marks matched their description, they weren't exaggerating."

    Naturally born massive, they would have immense physical strength. To deliver this damage, the Onikuma at least need to be equal to Ki Channeling stage in humans. Such is the misfortune of humankind, they were born with a pitifully weak constitution. In the end, beyond their cultivation, wisdom remains their greatest strength.

    "Looks like leaving immediately isn't a wise decision." Hachiman sighed and turned back, seemingly don't care. "I wonder what's the cheapest inn available here."

    Sagami looked at his tense back and wondering if he really got his head attached properly this time around. Was the beating he got from the Bandits actually made something click?

    "...You're not thinking about taking on that Onikuma alone, don't you?" She asked him.

    He answered truthfully. "I do not have a death wish, I wouldn't want to fight even if we encounter one right now."

    Not without preparation, he will need some time to think of a solution. Otherwise, he'll just end up dying again. Today's experience will be etched in his heart forever.

    "Alright then, let's find an Inn and discuss our strategy." She pointed. "If we're going to Mihama anyway, no point of going on our separate ways. Two Foundation cultivators traveling together, who would dare to disturb us?"

    And it looks like the thick-faced flame element girl is here to stay. He wanted to complain. But then again, part of him actually glad that someone actually didn't get grossed by him enough to leave.

    For once.

    Thanks heavens, I might legit kill myself.

    ...

    * The School of Legalism (法家; "School of law") is a philosophy maintaining that human nature was incorrigibly selfish; accordingly, the only way to preserve the social order was to impose discipline from above and to see to strict enforcement of laws. The Legalists exalted the state above all, seeking its prosperity and martial prowess over the welfare of the common people.
     
  5. wildwill

    wildwill Making the rounds.

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    Really enjoyed this.
     
    Cuchulin and Gladbitch like this.
  6. Gladbitch

    Gladbitch Getting out there.

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    • Don't necro. This is against Rule 7.
    Me too I hope this story gain more traction.:)
     
  7. Winterwell

    Winterwell Not too sore, are you?

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    Check it out on Spacebattles, a lot more is posted there.
     
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  8. hyperspacewizard

    hyperspacewizard Versed in the lewd.

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    Yeah it’s a great story it’s worth a read can’t wait to see what happens.
     
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  9. Raoul1214

    Raoul1214 Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    Very nice cant wait to see the next chapter
     
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