Volume 1 – Between Daybreak and Evernight, Chapter 6: Daybreak of the Empire
Zhang Jing was gone. Qianye had new early learning material in his hands when he left the classroom. He needed to memorize one thousand words every day for the next month to be able to pass Zhang Jing’s examination. The price of failure was ten entire lashes!
It was only now that Qianye understood that whips were the only hobby shared by every instructor in the Yellow Springs Training Camp.
However, their subsequent training sessions did not slow down simply because the kids needed to learn how to recognize words. The duration and amount of training did not change in the least.
Upon returning to the barracks at midnight, Qianye was so tired that he felt like his bones would fall apart. He fell asleep the moment he climbed onto the bed. Only when he was woken up by the shrill bell the following morning did he remember that he had not memorized even a single word!
Obviously, there were plenty of kids who were like Qianye. Therefore, the night after they finished the next day’s training, most of the kids forced themselves to stay awake and did everything they could to memorize the incomprehensible words.
After forcing himself to memorize his fiftieth word, he eventually could no longer stand it and collapsed on the bed. Then, he fell asleep.
Time passed just like that, and in the blink of an eye, a month’s time was swiftly gone.
Zhang Jing’s second class finally arrived, and the exam was set before the class started. During the long hour and a half, Qianye wrote down a total of one thousand and five hundred words. This was his total after a month of effort.
Qianye’s total was ranked fifth out of all the kids. The first four kids were children of aristocratic families and had learned to read and understand words since they were small. Without a doubt, Qianye sat in first place out of all of the illiterate kids. After him were three other children of aristocratic families who had been studying since they were young.
A total of eleven people failed Zhang Jing’s examination.
“It is now time for you to pay the price for underestimating my class!” Gently saying this, the beautiful woman actually raised a whip of her own accord and cracked it right at the kids who had failed to pass the exam. The strength she used was even slightly stronger than Long Hai’s!
Ten lashes was an incredibly severe punishment. Two kids were actually whipped to death right before Qianye’s eyes!
It was then that Qianye knew this beautiful teacher was even more ruthless and terrifying than Long Hai!
This exam made Qianye and all the other children realize that reading and understanding words were just as important as training one’s physique.
Zhang Jing called in two stalwart men and had them drag the two motionless children out of the room. Then, without a change in expression, she wrote down four big words—“The War of Daybreak.”
Zhang Jing became unusually grave and solemn as she wrote these four words. Even her voice became tinged with seriousness. “It has already been twelve hundred years since the War of Daybreak…”
The War of Daybreak happened at the lowest point of the Evernight Continent. It was also the very first place that the human race dwelled and reproduced, growing stronger with each passing day.
During the War of Daybreak, the human race used every power in their possession—it was the final struggle of Daybreak origin power, burning black stones, steam gushing with power, rumbling firearms, and enormous rough machinery against Darkness origin power!
During this great, decisive battle of fate that continued on and off for more than a hundred years, the human race that had awakened their origin power paid a terrible price and was left with only one tenth of their original population. However, they ultimately defeated the dark races and forever freed themselves from a fate of slavery, subservience, and being treated as livestock. They drove the dark races out of the Evernight Domain and built Qin, the very first empire with the human race as masters.
In the history of mankind, this decisive, fateful battle was known as the War of Daybreak. This was because, at the end of this war, the humans who had been living in Evernight finally saw daybreak for the first time. The very first origin power that the humans awakened was established under Daybreak, and with this war as the dividing line, the two great factions of Evernight and Daybreak were officially formed.
The War of Daybreak was not the end, but the beginning. In the past twelve hundred years, the human race gradually attacked and occupied four new continents, the lowest layer of the world to the middle layer of the world. They also began to look up at the upper continents. While the great Qin Empire officially brought a majority of the distinguished families with them, migrating to the new continent, more human nations also started to form one by one.
The War of Daybreak occurred on the Evernight Continent, but since its natural environment was too poor and its resources were extremely scarce, it ultimately became a huge, trash-filled world that was once again overtaken by the relentless dark race.
Qianye suddenly shivered at this point. For as long as he could remember, he had never left the junkyard. However, he would hear the strong adults boasting about the various features of the dark races every so often. It wasn’t a legend after all. It was true, bloody darkness.
Yet Zhang Jing’s tone and expression made him feel even colder when she spoke of them. It was a kind of calmness that lacked any compassion.
Indeed, during the last twelve hundred years, the dark races and the human race never stopped warring with each other. Battles happened on every continent and every region where their borders converged. Thousands of years had passed. Hatred and bloodshed was everywhere in abundance. The Evernight Domain was not unique among these battlefields. In fact, it was one of the most overlooked battlefields of all.
When the class finished, Qianye felt that his heart was heavy with something inexplicable that had not been there before. The rest of the kids had the same general feeling as him. They were still young and did not yet understand the weight of history. When they left the classroom, the kids immediately ran toward the training grounds like they’d grown wings. They would suffer another three lashes if they were late again.
Life returned to its normal pattern once more.
Before anyone realized it, half a year passed in the blink of an eye.
Qianye’s physique had grown tremendously. He grew a full ten centimeters in just half a year. Other than the strict, yet scientific training, the training camp’s meals were also an important factor.
The food that the kids ate was very nutritious. Some of the food had even been taken directly from the dark races. Furthermore, a small amount of special medicine was put into their soup everyday. It could quickly activate the potential of their bodies.
Qianye felt that the days were repeating, as if things would never change. The only thing that changed was the number of companions around him.
When Qianye and the other kids did not add up to fifty, they were met with a new group of companions. The age of the new arrivals varied, and they totaled up to fifty or so people. The only thing they shared in common with Qianye was their constitution, which was more or less the same.
Another half a year passed, and once again only fifty of Qianye’s companions remained. They were then met with yet another new batch of companions. It was at this time that Qianye learned that he and the hundred people around him were considered a company. Every time they lost half their number, they would be reinforced with newcomers to make a total of one hundred strong. The concept behind this reinforcement was that their strengths were similar.
Once Qianye had spent a full year in the training camp, every child was suddenly summoned to the drill grounds, awaiting their orders in an organized formation.
As he waited, even if such trivial actions might earn him a number of lashes, Qianye had the strong urge to look at his surroundings.
Swiftly and stealthily, he glanced to his left and right, then turned his head just as quickly while the instructor was looking away before assuming the normal upright position once more. It was a simple, trivial action, but it was enough to make his heart beat wildly.
This was because Qianye suddenly realized that, out of everyone present, the faces he recognized did not even reach a total of thirty! More than half of the first one hundred children had forever left this world.
It was only then that Qianye finally understood the true meaning behind the words in front of the valley entrance—WELCOME TO HELL.
Long Hai appeared in front of the children and swept a cold glance over them. His lone eye seemed to have become even fiercer, but every kid courageously met his gaze without fear. These kids had already developed courageous—or, rather, numb—hearts after a full year of hellish training.
Long Hai was very satisfied as he said, “Very good! After the trash was swept away, the ones that remain finally look adequate. However…”
After a very long pause, Long Hai let out a meaningful smile. “The good news is that you have all passed the first test, and will be cultivated seriously. You will no longer be punished for trivial matters. Nothing has changed about you disobeying orders, of course. The bad news is that you will realize that the true training has only just begun!”
Long Hai walked back and forth in front of the group, his rumbling voice blasting the children’s ears non-stop. “In the next few years, you will begin your true cultivation! The cultivation of origin power! You will learn the most direct and effective way to kill a person. You will have the chance to kill any kind of the dark races with your own hands. Of course, there is a very high chance that you might be killed by them as well, so pray hard, my little comrades! Lastly, I can tell you now that out of all the people standing here, no more than a quarter of lucky birds will be able to leave this place alive.”
The last sentence was considerably dire, but Qianye did not let it affect his heart. He had learned not to worry about things out of his control.
No matter how slim his chance was, Qianye would do everything in his power to fight for it as long as it existed. Without this tenacity and concentration, the younger him who had been grievously injured at the junkyard would’ve long ago become soil.
Long Hai waved his big hand, and several large men walked over and passed new learning materials into the hands of every kid.
The large words, “Combatant Formula,” were written on the cover of this textbook. The writing was strong, every stroke sharp like a blade! Qianye actually felt a hint of pain in his eyes when he stared at them.
This was a cultivation formula! This was the key that divided the common and the powerful. As he held this Combatant Formula, Qianye’s young heart suddenly felt that his fate would be changed by this small, thin book!
The kids were led into the classroom. The person who walked onto the stage and was responsible for teaching the Combatant Formula was none other than Zhang Jing. Extraordinary strength was hidden under her beautiful outward appearance. In fact, Qianye had already noticed some time ago that Long Hai would never walk too closely to Zhang Jing. This distance was about five meters, and now he understood that the distance meant fear.
Zhang Jing pushed her glasses upward. The swell of her chest intensely rose and fell because of this small movement.
“This is the Combatant Formula. This is the cultivation formula exclusively prepared for cannon fodder!”
Qianye was very surprised to hear her evaluation.
Although living in this training camp for the past year was even more brutal than the junkyard, it could more or less be considered a normal society. Qianye had picked up some common sense during extremely limited interactions with various students and naturally saw that the training camp had invested a significant sum of resources on them.
The elimination rate of Yellow Springs was extremely high. It was rumored that only one out of a hundred people could walk out of this place alive. This meant that the resources spent on the ninety nine people that were eliminated were, in fact, wasted. Would they seriously give them a cultivation formula meant for cannon fodder after spending so much to raise them?
Plenty of people shared the same thoughts as Qianye.
Zhang Jing did not miss the changes in expression of any of the children. She immediately laughed coldly. “Do not think that cannon fodder is a derogatory term! In reality, countless people would not qualify to become cannon fodder even if they wanted to! It is only after you survive this place and walk out of here in one piece that you can be considered adequate cannon fodder! You will need to cultivate a complete origin power tide in three months and ignite an origin power node in a year! If you fail…”
Zhang Jing suddenly licked her lips and said gently, “You will have to be punished…”