Chapter 1: Blindness
Snowflakes drifted across the sky, bringing with them the icy chill of winter. Before too long, a sheet of white frost covered Northface City.
Winter had arrived yet again.
Few travelers walked the roads at this time of the year, leaving the streets desolate of life. No one was willing to leave the comforts of their home during the cold winter season of the twelfth lunar month.
Within in the city, in one of the classrooms of Luo Official Elementary School, one would find a warm and comforting scene playing out. Warm Yang stones were placed in corners of the elementary school classroom, keeping the cold air at bay with light and warmth. Instead, the classroom basked in a warmth reminiscent of spring.
This classroom was occupied by a group of eleven and twelve year old children, attentively listening an instructor’s lecture.
“The last emperor of the Radiant Divine Dynasty was Emperor Yao, who reigned for six hundred years. Muddleheaded, incompetent and cruel, this emperor squandered money like it was water. During his reign, he constructed one hundred and twenty-four new temporary imperial residences. He drafted woman from all over the country thirty-two times. Also, it was rumored that he deeply enjoyed killing with his own hands. It is said there are records of his orders to kill over three thousand officials which implicated countless men…”
The instructor’s lecture was quite earnest. However, the children were clearly uninterested. Even children who were trying their best to listen had already begun to drowse, lulled by the monotonous drone.
As the instructor saw their eyelids droop, he didn’t bother with words. Instead, he slowly rolled up the book in his hand, and brought it down in a sharp smack against his desk.
The sharp table slap startled the group of children, now fully awake as they looked at their instructor with still unfocused eyes.
With a bit of helplessness and anger, the instructor said, “What? Have you already learned this?”
The children all shifted uncomfortably in their seats, their gazes falling to the floor.
The children clearly found this dry course completely uninteresting. Their nature ran more towards having fun.
Slightly irritated with them, the teacher pointed at a child, “He Sinian, stand. Tell me, how did the Spirit Writing Rebellion come about?”
A long aquiline nose marked him from the others as the child attempted to answer the instructor’s question. However, even after a few stuttering starts, he didn’t find the answer he was desperately searching for.
“If you don’t know, then stay standing. Yue Yang, would you care to enlighten the class?” The instructor pointed at another child.
The child called Yue Yang also clearly didn’t know. A helpless smile on his face, he could only join He Sinian as he stayed on his feet as well.
The instructor went through a few more children, but none of them had an answer for him. The teacher once again slapped the table in annoyance. “Atrocious! This is truly atrocious! I just lectured about this! Su Chen, can you answer the question?”
As he uttered the name, the instructor’s mood had turned expectant, clearly awaiting satisfaction.
A small youngster with delicate features stood up. In a clear, confident voice, he answered the instructor, “The New Star Era – in the year 23000. The Great Minister of Public Works, Cheng Huai’en, reported to the emperor that the treasury was empty and requested that the construction of four imperial residences be postponed. Emperor Yao was furious and personally executed Great Minister in the royal court. This matter shook both the Imperial Court and the commoners as they began to feel like everyone was at risk. Finally, seven great lords banded together and jointly dealt with Emperor Yao, extinguishing and overthrowing the Radiant Divine Dynasty. Because the assassin Zuo Chengshu approached and killed Emperor Yao while pretending to perform Spirit Writing, history named this incident the Spirit Writing Rebellion. After that, the Radiant Divine Dynasty was destroyed and the Seven Great Clans split the country, setting up separate divine dynasties. This is the origin of our current seven countries.”
“Well said!” The instructor happily clapped, “Hear, hear. This is what it means to go to class. Were it not for Su Chen, I wouldn’t be here to teach you little scoundrels! As expected, his upbringing is impeccable. The children produced by the great clans are truly distinctive…”
An endless and embellished litany of praises followed each other out of the instructor’s mouth, each one tripping over each other in their eagerness to fill the air.
The Su Clan was one of the four great clans of Northface City, holding a prestigious status within the city. Su Chen was one of the Su Clan’s third generation children.
Although only twelve years of age, Su Chen was far more level headed than his peers. He was both diligent and eager to learn, quickly earning himself a place as a favorite of instructors.
Despite the instructor’s praises growing ever more extravagant, Su Chen remained undisturbed.
In the instructor’s eyes, this serenity was seen as a manifestation of a general’s grace and indicative of a mind that possessed intricate thought. In the eyes of the other children, this was obviously “pretentiousness”.
“Tch. What is there to cherish? Let’s compare in Body Tempering.” He Sinian’s eagle nose twitched as he grumbled under his breath.
“Sinian, Su Chen reached Body Tempering Fourth Layer yesterday.” Yue Yang whispered to him.
He Sinian’s thin face immediately turned unsightly.
It was clearly obvious that the person he considered his opponent was not only academically outstanding, but was also faster than him in Martial Dao cultivation.
Body Tempering Fourth Layer implied that Su Chen had already reached the strength of four horses. Although this level of power was negligible compared to most adults, it had already reached the point where he could crush He Sinian.
He Sinian’s will to fight vanished like a doused fire. His mouth twitched as he forced out his next words, “So what. In the end, he’s just the descendent of a mixed blood clan.”
This time, He Sinian’s verbal attack had finally found a mark.
This world was known as the Primordial World. In this world, one obtained power by cultivating one’s Origin Energy. It was said that the source of these incredible abilities was rooted in the creation of the world. Therefore, the energy pervades, affects, and controls all living beings. This hypothesis received widespread acknowledgement and became one of the tenets that explained Origin Energy. Once one became skilled enough at using Origin Energy, one would then become known as an Origin Qi Scholar.
However, the power of Origin Energy was not something so easily grasped. Long ago, humans did not understand the mysteries behind Origin Energy. The only creatures capable of using it were origin beasts. At that time, mankind was nothing more than food for the origin beasts.
After countless years of development, the Primordial World gradually saw change. Humanity eventually developed the seven Origin Scholar territories, creating a haven for themselves as they slowly started to comprehend the mysteries of Origin Energy, moving away from their previous state of complete ignorance.
The keys that allowed humanity to use Origin Energy were bloodlines.
It was said in order to obtain the power to use Origin Energy, humans invented the bloodline extraction instrument. Demonic beasts were the sole existences in the Primordial World that were innately capable of using Origin energy. By extracting their bloodlines, humanity was finally able to wield this power themselves. The people who created this bloodline extraction instrument went on to establish a glorious age for humanity; becoming the Radiant Divine Dynasty.
However over the years, this once glorious human nation had finally perished from its own depravity. It was said during that age of turmoil, the bloodline extraction instrument was destroyed in the chaos of war. From that moment on, humans lost the power to extract bloodlines.
Fortunately, bloodlines could be inherited. As a result, the seven human countries formed a system of bloodline nobility.
Although the Su Clan was a great clan of Northface City, it was considered a junior clan as they had no bloodline inheritance. Only through blood spirit medicines would they be able to obtain the power of bloodlines. Blood spirit medicine was an imitation of the bloodline extraction instrument. However, the difference in its effectiveness compared to the genuine bloodline extraction instrument was like the gap between heaven and earth. Those who acquired bloodlines through blood spirit medicine were known as mixed bloods, implying they were inherently unqualified to be a noble. Not only was their potential to rise limited, their bloodlines were incapable of being inherited. But even as such, there were countless people that madly attempted to attain them.
As a result, those without bloodlines, even if they had great talent, even if they diligently cultivated, were doomed to have limited prospects, such as Su Chen.
Obviously, He Sinian’s circumstances weren’t much better. The names the Desolate Blood King Clans, Demon Blood Noble Clans, and Mixed Blood Clans could clearly be seen within the bloodline inheritance system. The so called “Four Great Clans” were Mixed Blood Clans, implying that none of them had bloodline inheritances. Not a single of the four clans were exempt. However, this didn’t stop He Sinian from looking down upon his rival. If their finish lines was the same, Su Chen could only arrive there faster, temporarily in front.
The aquiline nosed youth used this distinctive reasoning to comfort himself.
Time passed by quickly.
Eventually, the time for classes ended.
The children charged out of the school with a cheer. Their respective clan servants were already outside waiting for them .
Su Chen was the last to leave the elementary school. As he walked out a young servant ran forward and draped a white fox cloak over him, “Ah, Fourth Young Master is out of school. The weather is bitterly cold; don’t catch a chill.”
“Jianxin, didn’t I already say this? I’ve already reached Body Tempering Fourth Layer. This kind of weather won’t make me cold.” Su Chen said this as he walked toward the carriage.
“Young Master, this isn’t just about practicality. You must wear it for appearance’s sake. Naturally, servants who know that Young Master have already reached the fourth layer of Body Tempering will see that the coatless Young Master is tempering himself with the frost and snow. Other servants who aren’t aware of Young Master’s brilliance will see Young Master without a cloak and believe the Young Master has fallen from grace. At that time, I fear they wouldn’t treat young master seriously.” Jianxin said as he followed behind Su Chen.
Su Chen smiled when he heard this, “Only you would say something like this. Who wouldn’t take me seriously? Besides, if I want something, there is always you.”
Jianxin’s aggrieved cry echoed loudly from within the carriage.
The coachman lashed his horses with his long whip and the carriage moved forward, leaving a clear track of hoofprints behind.
As there was nothing to do in the carriage, Su Chen took a history book to read. The youthful servant Jianxin at the side was bored and said, “Young Master, is that history book any good? When I read it, it isn’t interesting at all and I always get sleepy.”
Without even raising his head, Su Chen said, “That is because you don’t see the stories that are hidden in the book.”
“What stories are concealed in the book?” Jianxin was astonished and repeatedly looked at the book with greatly curious eyes. Were stories actually concealed in this book?
Su Chen glanced at him, “It’s not hidden in the book. It’s the actual stories within…. Ah, Even if I told you, you wouldn’t understand.”
Su Chen bluntly put his book in front of Jianxin, “Look at this section.”
Jianxin has followed Su Chen for several years and could read a few words. He read it out loud, “The assassination of Emperor Yao, great turmoil of divine dynasty, bloodline extraction instrument was lost in the chaos of war, creating a severance in bloodline extraction methods. Until now, humans could only copy the partial capability of the bloodline refinement instrument by refining blood spirit medicine, incapable of extracting high quality bloodlines like in the past. What about this section?”
Jianxin didn’t understand.
Su Chen took back the book and said, “Don’t think it’s strange? Since the bloodline extraction instrument isa human invention, why were we not able to recreate it after it was destroyed?”
Jianxin replied, “Didn’t the book say it? Its method of creation had already been destroyed.”
“Why was it destroyed? This is a great matter that affects the rise and decay of humans. How could it be lost?” Su Chen asked.
Jianxin had no answer.
Su Chen then said, “Fine, let’s leave its destruction aside. It could have happened for any number of reasons. But then why were there not many sets of the instrument made? According to the book, this bloodline extraction instrument could only extract ten bloodlines every year. Why didn’t they create more instruments if they only had one set? Even if we leave that aside, and accept that the method to create the bloodline instruments is lost, why is it that humans haven’t managed to discover the method again? Since we were able to previously achieve it, why is it that we are now simply unable to?”
This barrage of questions stunned Jianxin into speechlessness.
Su Chen patted the book with a smile, “This is the story that is hidden in the book. Thus, you can’t just read books using only your eyes. You must use your mind as well.”
He said this with a somewhat proud voice. The words he said a moment ago were actually taught to him by his father. Now he was using them to educate his own servant.
Jianxin still appeared confused and looked at Su Chen with admiration, “Then why does young master think that it is like this?”
In the end, Su Chen was still a child. Naturally, he completely enjoyed Jianxin’s gaze of admiration.
He said, “I have an answer in mind. However, you must promise to never speak of it.”
Jianxin patted his chest and pledged, “Be at ease, Young Master. I absolutely will not speak of it.”
Hearing this, Su Chen was at ease.
Although he was intelligent, he was only twelve years old after all. He didn’t genuinely comprehend how precious and scarce people who kept their words were.
Thus, he lowered his voice and said, “I believe that bloodline extraction instrument fundamentally wasn’t a human invention.”
“What?” Jianxin was shocked, “Then who?”
Su Chen spread out his arms, “How could I know? That’s the only explanation that makes sense to me. The reason why humans were incapable of creating the bloodline extraction instrument but were still able to possess it. However, you can’t ever speak these words of mine out loud.”
In an age that couldn’t be considered enlightened in the least, to question the validity of history of the human race was certain to bring about trouble for him.
Certainly at this time, a light chuckle sounded in Su Chen’s ear.
Su Chen’s eyes widened.
“Stop the carriage!” Su Chen loudly shouted.
The carriage stopped.
Su Chen leaped out of the carriage, looking up and down the street as far as he could see. All he could see were falling snowflakes.
The large street only had a few pedestrians walking. He couldn’t see anyone who looked like the person who chuckled in his ear.
“Young Master, what is it?” Jianxin stretched his head out of the carriage and asked.
Su Chen shook his head and replied, “It’s nothing, let’s return.”
Su Chen turned around, meaning to climb back into the carriage.
He heard an old man’s voice from behind him, “Young Master, please have pity. Pity this old beggar and give him some hot food.”
Su Chen turned his head and saw a trembling old beggar with a foul scent walking towards him. A broken bowl was grasped in his hand.
That old man didn’t stand far away from Su Chen and extended his broken bowl toward Su Chen. His appearance was pitiful, and his eyes were full of emptiness and despair.
Su Chen sized up the old man, and said, “I don’t know who you are, but I do know that you aren’t a beggar.”
The old man blankly stared, “What does young master mean?”
Su Chen said with a clear voice, “It’s heavily snowing right now. True beggars would know that if the weather is too cold, pedestrians would be few and far between. Even if you were lucky enough to come across pedestrians, who would stop in the middle of a cold journey to give alms? To try and beg at this time would only result in you freezing without anything to show for it. It’s just the wrong time to beg. Moreover, this is Han River Street, the main road of Northface City. In order to prevent traffic obstruction, the city lord has prohibited begging on this road. If beggars do appear here, then the guards would immediately chase them away, beat them up, or even capture them. No beggar would appear at this location. Furthermore, you… Although your clothes are worn and filthy, the tears on your clothes are very clean, showing that your clothes haven’t been damaged for long. In addition, the stink on your body is incorrect as well. The scent of a beggar’s stink is one of long decay. It is unlike your scent, which is like that of a sewer gutter. Then there are also your hands. Although your body is filthy, your fingernails are very clean. This is also incorrect!”
After Su Chen finished saying this, he looked at the old man, “Thus, although I don’t know who you are, I am certain you are not a beggar!”
After the old man heard this, he threw his head back in a laugh, “Hahahaha! An impressive youngster! You have some exceptionally observant eyes and an incredible mind for analysis. It is just a pity your age is too young and your experience is a bit lacking and as such, you are still naive. You understand neither how to hide your own weak points nor the value of a low profile. But this doesn’t matter anymore because you’ve come across me. Now that you’ve come across me, you will come to learn all of this. Meeting me is your misfortune, for I will bring you suffering. Meeting me is also your fortune, for I will give you a future with unlimited possibilities… Now let me change your eyes. They will let you see much more, see the true appearance of this world!”
With that said, the beggar raised his hand.
Before Su Chen could blink, two cold spikes had already entered his eyes.