Volume 1 – Between Daybreak and Evernight, Chapter 3: The Big Shot’s Decision
The wondrous abilities of Lin Xitang’s Art of Heaven’s Mystery were unfathomably boundless. It could awaken an individual’s cultivation potential as one of its effects. Truly outstanding natural talent would often produce unusual phenomenons under its effects.
These unusual phenomena were split into five grades. For example, the faint glows from the junkyard were merely of the lowest grade, representing that they only had the potential to develop their origin strength. On the other hand, a first grade talent would emit pillars of light of various colors. On top of that, strange phantasms would orbit the pillars like planets around the sun, hinting at a person that would be revered by all. Furthermore, the phantasms that appeared also represented the future path of the individual’s natural talent. A second grade talent would only have pillars of light and no phantasms, a third grade talent would have a single blazing light that resembled a roaring flame, and a fourth grade talent would have just a bright light without any such phenomena.
There were rumors that, above the first grade, super grade talent existed. Those that possessed it would truly be great geniuses of overflowing talent, and the phenomena that would occur could be vivid representations of rolling hills and roaring rivers, or possibly lifelike images of mythical beasts and birds.
Under the cover of darkness, the pillar of light was red and belonged to the lowest rating of first grade talent. In spite of this, among the Empire’s countless cultivators, a first grade talent was one in a hundred thousand. The appearance of a first grade talent was well worth the Empire’s careful nurturing so that it would become a future pillar of support for the military.
This red pillar of light was like a slap to the face that made Gu Tuohai’s face tingle.
“Let’s go and take a look!” Without waiting for the airship to change course, Lin Xitang stepped out of the cabin and leaped from the airship, falling from an altitude several hundred meters high.
Ten-odd fully armored bodyguards rushed to follow suit, leaping from the airship in pursuit of Lin Xitang. In comparison, Gu Tuohai slapped the window blinds in frustration, but ultimately followed them down.
The sight of the sudden change on the little boy had clearly startled the older children, but the little girl had only been disoriented for a moment. After discovering that her strength had significantly increased, she bounded toward an even larger rock and strained to drag it over.
The boy was in a daze. With a groan, he turned over.
Suddenly there was a pair of thick suede military boots beside him.
The boots themselves didn’t actually touch the ground, instead floating a few centimeters in the air above it. An invisible forcefield quietly spread, pushing all the dust, dirt, and rubbish into the distance.
The startled girl stopped in her tracks, staring at the silver haired man that had appeared without warning. Opening her large, innocent eyes, wearing an equally harmless, childlike expression, she quickly threw away the rock that she had in her hands.
Although she hadn’t noticed, light was shining from her body through her clothes. The sweat which had originally soaked her palms had completely evaporated. Yet the silver haired man didn’t even so much as glance at her out of the corner of his eye.
Lin Xitang frowned as he looked at the scars and injuries all over the boy. The boy was clearly more injured than he had first assessed as some of the injuries seemed to reach his vitals. With a wave of his hand, a fog of light appeared in the air. A rain of green droplets fell from it and onto the boy, soaking into his body.
These green raindrops contained an immense power, and the boy’s injuries healed at a clearly visible rate. He groaned, slowly opening his eyes as he regained consciousness.
The first thing that the little boy saw and registered was the silver haired man’s stern, determined face.
The boy didn’t understand what was happening, but he instinctively refused to grovel lying on the floor, and once again struggled to stand. Looking around him, he saw the older children and immediately remembered what had happened, his expression changing in an instant.
Lin Xitang followed the boy’s gaze, looking at the older children surrounding them and the remains of a paper bag on the ground. He instantly understood why the boy was injured to such a degree. This was, after all, a thing that happened in junkyards so often that it couldn’t be any more common.
Lin Xitang refocused himself, then crouched down, extending his hand to the boy as he said gently, “Come, give me your hand. What’s your name?”
But the little boy recoiled a little, and with great difficulty, he mustered his courage.
“Qian… Qianye,” he said softly. His small hands reached out, but stopped halfway. He didn’t dare to reach any further.
His tiny hands were horribly dirty, all covered in grime. Although his wounds had been nourished by the rain of light and weren’t bleeding anymore, the crusted bloodstains were still there.
In any case, he didn’t dare to put his hands on the large spotless hands of the silver haired man. Yet at this moment, in the eyes of little Qianye, the big hands that were held out in front of him were the only source of warmth in the world.
Lin Xitang smiled and encouraged him, “It’s fine, give me your hand.”
Gu Tuohai flew down at this point. Upon seeing that Qianye had been injured, the usual kind expression he gave others was somewhat angry. He couldn’t help but give a deep snort, coldly looking over the surrounding kids.
The crowd of slowly-gathering children had terrified expressions on their faces, but the ten-odd bodyguards had already locked down every single path through this area. They didn’t dare to try fleeing.
Lin Xitang leaned over a little, extending his hand and waiting patiently. Under Lin Xitang’s bright gaze, Qianye finally found his courage and placed his hands into the warm, dry, and strong hands of Lin Xitang.
Lin Xitang lightly grasped the hands that were half the size of his own, closing his eyes and quietly feeling them.
Gu Tuohai looked at Qianye, his brow suddenly furrowing as if he had thought of something.
Lin Xitang sighed and opened his eyes. He gave Qianye a once over, reached out his hand to pull away the scraps of cloth on the little boy, and his eyes were instantly captivated.
There was an enormous scar on Qianye’s bare chest, one that ran from half an inch below his heart all the way to his belly button. Just looking at this ugly, protruding scar, Lin Xitang knew that it had originally been a terrifying injury that tore Qianye’s insides open!
But Qianye was still so young. How in the world had he survived?
Momentarily startled, Lin Xitang regained his composure, saying, “Brother Tuohai, you’re far more skilled in medicine than I am. Help me examine him.”
Gu Tuohai silently walked up to Qianye, not caring about the dirt at all, and he stretched out his hands to carefully examine Qianye. Qianye felt that everywhere Gu Tuohai’s hands went was like having red-hot needles stabbed into his body, but he clenched his teeth and forced himself to not make a sound.
Gu Tuohai’s eyes flashed with momentary shock, and he praised Qianye, saying, “So tender of age, and yet so daring. Interesting!”
He stood up and spoke to Lin Xitang. “This child would originally be considered a top-tier talent, but he’s been so heavily injured that it’s ruined his physique. Aside from that, I also suspect that his body might have even contained a piece of crystallized origin power.”
Lin Xitang immediately thought of a forbidden phrase—origin power theft! He narrowed his eyes a little, and pretended to not understand. “So what you’re saying is…”
“No, it’s just a suspicion. Even you know that sort of thing is a major taboo. His injuries have already been healed for a decent number of years, so he must have been younger than the age of three when he was injured. Yet, as you can now see, his foundation has been heavily damaged. Even if his cultivation potential is greater than that of anyone here, he isn’t a first grade talent anymore,” Gu Tuohai said gravely.
Qianye’s old injury was extremely serious, yet he was still able to release a red light pillar. This signified that his original talent was so great that it might have even been a super grade, but with his current state, it would be a stretch to even list him as a fourth grade.
A fourth grade talent would only be slightly stronger than an ordinary person. For Lin Xitang and Gu Tuohai, who were high-ranking officers in the Empire’s military, it was practically worthless. On top of that, Qianye’s giant scar was a hidden danger, and whether he’d survive the tough training was something they couldn’t be sure of.
Gu Tuohai sighed, feeling great sympathy for the boy.
Lin Xitang looked at little Qianye, who stared back at him. Perhaps the warmth in Lin Xitang’s palm hadn’t completely dissipated, but the little boy’s eyes held a glimmer of hope that not even he had noticed.
Lin Xitang’s heart trembled slightly, and he gently said, “Meeting here should be considered a kind of fate. Tell you what—I’ll take you away from here, and you’ll decide for yourself where to go next.”
He took out a few smooth jade tablets, and with a quick rub of his hand, he engraved words onto them. He held them with the engraved side facing downward, then handed them to Qianye to choose from.
Qianye hesitated a little, then reached for the jade tablet in the middle. There were two words on it, but he didn’t recognize them.
Gu Tuohai looked and then sighed, shaking his head.
“Yellow Spring,” Lin Xitang softly read the words to Qianye before taking the jade tablet back. He patted the boy’s head lightly and asked, “What’s your surname?”
“I… don’t have a surname. My name is Qianye.”
Lin Xitang nodded as he spoke gently. “Alright. If you make it out of that place alive, then you may use ‘Lin,’ my surname!”
Qianye didn’t understand what Lin Xitang was saying and could only continue to listen in ignorance.
Lin Xitang didn’t need him to understand at the moment. He turned to instruct his subordinates. “Take him back to ‘Green Bird,’ wash him, clean his wounds, change his clothes, and feed him.”
Having finished with instructing them, Lin Xitang and Gu Tuohai slowly began to rise and accelerated away, flying toward the airship stationed in the sky.
The older children had waited on the sidelines for a very long time, watching everything. Although they didn’t completely understand what the adults were saying, the talk of being washed, fed, and clothed… they heard these unbelievably irresistible phrases loud and clear.
Seeing the guards about to take Qianye away, the head of all the older kids charged over, shrieking, “Take me! Take me along! I also want to bathe and eat!”
He tried to hug the thighs of the guards and reached out to Qianye, attempting to pull him out of their embrace.
The injured leader pulled roughly at Qianye’s legs, crying out, “That should be my position! Who do you think you are? Everyone, get over here and beat this mongrel to death! He actually dared to headbutt me just now! All of the food up there should be mine!”
The leader was even more vicious than he had previously been, intentionally clawing at Qianye’s injuries. Surviving in the junkyard only had one rule: if you killed someone, you would get everything they had.
Resembling mountains, the well-built guards didn’t even move and let the leader of the older kids continue raising a ruckus. Seeing that, the little girl quietly began to move over.
Only when the leader tried to pull at Qianye so hard that his face was starting to contort with pain did the guard captain coldly say, “That’s enough. Even Mr. Tuohai would have nothing to say about this.”
The moment the guard captain spoke, viciousness flashed across the blank face of the guard that was carrying Qianye. With a single kick, he brutally punted the older child dozens of meters into the air.
This one foot contained a dark, brutal power, and as the leader of the older kids flew into the air, he suddenly exploded into a bloody mist!
The other guard merely smiled as he stepped forward, stretching out his leg. He slammed his foot down onto the ground, saying, “A pile of puny rats actually dare to disturb the business of Marshal Lin!”
The ground rippled outward from where he’d slammed his foot down, rapidly spreading. The group of children were thrown into the air by the force of the wave, violently spurting blood. Their bones cracked loudly as they distorted into unrecognizable shapes.
The wave also rushed right past the captain and the other guards, but they didn’t move so much an inch. All of them seemed to have weathered it without being affected.
Yet, miraculously, the little girl also wasn’t hit by the wave. When the captain had spoken, the rest of the older children had been dazed, and some had even listened to the leader and stupidly charged Qianye, the girl had turned a run for her life without looking back.
It was in this way that she barely managed to escape the wave, miraculously surviving.
Seeing that the little girl had actually managed to escape, the guard’s face grew red for a moment. With a loud snort, he lifted his foot to slam it down again! He had only been using three tenths of his power. However, the captain suddenly reached out and grabbed the guard’s shoulder with his hand, preventing him from slamming his foot down.
The captain seemed to be listening to something in his ear, and then he nodded, not moving an inch as he stared at Qianye with his large eyes. He then brought out his service pistol and put little Qianye’s hands on the trigger.
The captain steadied the gun as he aimed it directly at the little girl’s chest. He said to Qianye, “She’s already tried to kill you multiple times. Come, pull the trigger. Use some force and then…. Bang! She’s dead!”
With the entirety of his small hands, Qianye held the trigger tightly. He stared at the silhouette of the little girl stumbling and fleeing for her life knowing that, as long as he pulled the trigger, she would definitely sprout blood.
He was completely calm as his shiny black eyes watched her, but he shook his head in the end and let go of the trigger.
On the airship, Gu Tuohai was all smiles as he said, “Just as I expected, haha! Lin old man, it is so rare for you to lose! Come, come, if you’re daring enough to bet, you’re daring enough to admit defeat, so hand over that ‘Aqua Tobacco’ of yours! It’s mine now!”
Lin Xitang still wore a faint smile on his face. Since the very start, the depths of his eyes were as calm as still water. They were so clear and brilliant that they seemed to reflect all the sights of the world, yet contained nothing.
The guards took Qianye back to the airship. It turned, rose, and vanished into the skyline, merging with the light of the blood moon.
As for this particular junkyard and the little girl that was still fleeing for her life… They were forgotten just like that, the same way this continent had been abandoned.