Chapter 1: Five Year Struggle
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Tianwu Kingdom, Limestone City, Ye Clan Arena
A congregation of adolescents were lined up under the sweltering heat of the sun, their faces brimming with excitement.
On the other hand, the group of middle-aged people surrounding the perimeter of the arena looked on with worry etched on their faces as their gazes fixated on their children.
On this day was the trimonthly Ye Clan Gate Exam, hosted by Ye Zhantian, the Head of the Martial Arts Division. Any clan members under the age of 15 were allowed to participate.
How well or how poorly one normally performed would not matter today, as this entrance exam would be the sole determinant of a candidate and their family’s status in the Ye Clan.
Only those who were capable would be selected by the Clan, which was a well-established tradition.
A man who stood in the center of the arena read the names off of a list. He was clad in grey chain mail armor, his expression fierce and his eyes bright.
At that moment, the burning gazes of the audience swiveled towards a young woman with black hair. She had delicate facial features and looked around 14 years of age. She wore violet training gear, which accentuated the curves of her silhouette.
Hearing her name, Ye Mei headed towards the center of the arena in dainty but steady steps. Facing an ironwood tree stump, she threw a punch with her delicate fist.
A dull thud sounded, and on the incredibly hard surface of the tree stump was a very visible imprint of a fist.
“The imprint is one-inch thick. She has successfully passed the Gate Exam for her right fist.”
Hearing the results, Ye Mei’s face lit up with a gleeful grin.
“Wow, no wonder they say Ye Mei is a prodigy. Half a year ago, her right fist still hadn’t had its Gate unlocked yet.”
“That talent is possibly on par with young master Ye Changsheng!”
As more exclamations of awe sounded from the audience, Ye Mei’s grin grew exceedingly wide.
In Tianwu Kingdom, martial arts held supreme importance. All martial artists aspired to open the Five Gates, achieved by focusing the flow of energy originating from the Energy Center in the body.
Every person had five Gates in their body, which were located in their four limbs and their mind. Once a Gate was opened, the flow of energy that had been accumulating in the Energy Center would erupt that Gate, imbuing one with explosive power and heightened reflexes. When all five Gates were opened, the martial artist would officially embark on their training journey in order to reach the Spirit Cultivating Realm.
The strength of a normal adolescent’s punch would be roughly equal to half a stone or 130 pounds. However, once the Gates were opened, and Energy Center utilized, the punch would yield one stone of strength.
And once all five Gates were opened and the Spirit Cultivating Realm reached, then it was possible to achieve two stones of strength.
“Excellent! For your next exam, I hope you focus on opening your last Gate and reaching the Spirit Cultivating Realm!” Ye Zhantian exclaimed, not hesitating to show his approval.
The only Gate Ye Mei had yet to unlock was the Mind Gate. If she could open the Mind Gate, then she would reach the Spirit Cultivating Realm even before she turned 14. Neither the Ye Clan nor Limestone City had many martial artists who could reach that stage before 14 years of age.
“Thank you, Uncle Ye. I will definitely work very hard.”
Hearing Ye Zhantian’s praise, Ye Mei left the arena hurriedly, turning heads as her chest heaved with excitement.
Ye Zhantian frowned slightly as he noticed the next candidate on his list. “Next up, Ye Mo!”
Upon hearing Ye Zhantian’s announcement, heads turned around in search of Ye Mo.
“Next up, Ye Mo!” Ye Zhantian repeated, loud and clear. Yet Ye Mo was nowhere to be seen.
“Look at these candidates that come from Branch Houses. Not only is he inept, he doesn’t even bother to show up for this exam. Tsk.”
“At least he’s self awareness. Five years worth of Gate Exams and he never once opened a single Gate. If he shows up today, won’t he just be losing face?”
“Dragons give birth to dragons, and phoenixes to phoenixes; it goes without saying that the offspring of garbage… is garbage!”
Hearing the murmurs from the crowd, Ye Zhantian angrily proclaimed, “Who dare say that ‘the offspring of rubbish is rubbish?’ True, Ye Mo is not talented in terms of martial arts. But no one should be describing him and his father as rubbish! If it wasn’t for Ye Qing’s contribution at the Door of Desolation, we, the Ye Clan, would not be where we are today.”
Tianwu Kingdom was the smallest country among countless others within the Zone of Desolation. The Door of Desolation was the most powerful Ancestral Gate in the Zone of Desolation. Whether to Tianwu Kingdom or to any Clan, its existence was distant and unobtainable.
Only the best martial artist of the Kingdom would be considered worthy of entering the Door of Desolation.
What nobody expected, however, was that Ye Qing’s Energy Center was destroyed in the Battle of Yidao. After his return to Tianwu Kingdom, he experienced several close calls due to assassinations attempted by many. Only with the aid of his friends could he live a peaceful life in the Ye Clan complex.
And this was the story of a fallen star.
In the ten years that followed, Tianwu Kingdom never saw a genius as remarkable as Ye Qing.
And now, ten years later, a man once hailed as the genius of Ye Clan was reduced to nothing more than garbage. Because of the fall of Ye Qing, the Door of Desolation compensated Ye Clan generously, and in turn, was instrumental in the rise of Ye Clan.
Outside a simple but cozy-looking hut, a 15 year old boy hastily wiped the blood on the corners of his lips before pushing open the door.
He had jet black hair and a baby-face, but amidst his delicate, youthful appearance was a hint of determination. Although he wiped away the blood from the corners of his lips, his right cheek still remained red and slightly swollen.
“I may not have opened a single Gate, but it doesn’t mean I will put up with the bullying!” Ye Mo muttered quietly to himself. That day was the Gate Exam, and as he had never succeeded in opening a single Gate, he did not want to make a fool of himself and therefore decided not to attend. Unfortunately, he bumped into the troublemakers that often bullied him and got several scratches on his skin.
Ye Mo spat on the ground and entered the small hut slowly.
Lying on the wooden bed was a middle-aged man. His features showed a past of perseverance and strength, yet his face was pallid and his hair messy.
Looking at his father’s increasingly pale countenance, Ye Mo forced a smile and said, “Dad, I’m home.”
Ye Qing looked at Ye Mo’s injuries, a pang of pain in his eyes. “You got beaten up today again?”
“Dad, I’m fine. I may not have opened my Gates, but against those guys? I’ve put up a pretty good fight.”
Ye Mo put down the hand that was covering his cheek, revealing the red and swollen patch.
“Mo’er, my dear son, with your natural talents coupled with your mother’s gift, your skill should be equal to mine. Who would dare bully you?” Ye Qing sighed heavily.
Those bullies that always picked on Ye Mo were Ye Clan trainees who only opened one Gate themselves. To Ye Mo, someone who had not opened a single one of his Gates, he had a clear disadvantage. As a consequence, every time he encountered them, he would suffer from mild injuries.
The true reason behind Ye Mo being 15 years of age and yet to unlock a single Gate was not because he did not have the talent for it. In fact, he would be considered the top martial artist in Limestone City in terms of talent.
Why? Because, at a mere ten years of age, Ye Mo could already control the flow of energy from his Energy Center and absorb Yuan Chi of Heaven and Earth. This milestone marked the transition from an average civilian to a martial artist.
At that time, the news caused waves of shock in Limestone City. The ability to control the flow of energy from the Energy Center at such a young age was exceedingly rare not only in Limestone City, but in the entire Tianwu Kingdom.
However, Ye Mo gave up training in order to look after his disabled father in the hopes of him being able to recover fully.
After Ye Mo learned to read, he scoured through the libraries of Ye Clan and discovered the possibility of utilizing Yuan Chi to cure Ye Qing’s disability and recover his powers. Nevertheless, it was only a possibility. To give up years of training in favor of a mere possibility was too big of a risk. Most others were unwilling to make that sacrifice.
When Ye Mo turned ten, and was finally able to control his energy flow from the Energy Center, he made it his mission to utilize the Yuan Chi from his Energy Center to heal his father’s paralysis that stemmed from injury.
Initially, Ye Qing vehemently refused. Yet he could not win the argument against his son.
Despite having a completely destroyed Energy Center, and paralysis in his four limbs, in those five years, Ye Qing miraculously recovered some degree of sensation in his limbs, thanks to Ye Mo’s insistence.
This was what they called a miracle.
This gave Ye Mo a ray of hope, confirming his belief that one day his father would recover entirely and be able to stand on his own feet once more.
Everyday, Ye Mo absorbed Yuan Chi of Heaven and Earth to slowly nurse Ye Qing back to health. As a result, his training had not progressed.
If the Yuan Chi Ye Mo absorbed everyday was used in attempt to open his Gates, in those five years, opening all of his Gates would be nothing—Ye Mo would have ascended into level two or even three of the Spirit Cultivating Realm, and none of his peers have even come close to that.
However, due to a lack of training, not only did Ye Mo have to bear the derogatory title of “garbage,” he also suffered from constant bullying from his peers. In these five years, Ye Mo certainly endured a lot of suffering.
Ye Qing suddenly said, “Mo’er, if I recall correctly, today is the Gate Exam.”
“I was just there, but I failed.”
“You’re lying to me again!”
“I would have failed anyway. Rather than be the laughing stock, I might as well not show up and use that time to heal your body with the Yuan Chi I have accumulated.”
Ye Mo grinned at his father and slowly walked towards him. He placed one palm on Ye Qing’s chest. The Yuan Chi within his Energy Center tumbled around in turbulent waves, endlessly flowing into Ye Qing’s body, wandering around.
Gazing at Ye Mo’s concentrated face, Ye Qing slowly closed his eyes, his Energy Center eagerly lapping up the Yuan Chi that entered his body. As such, Ye Qing’s cheeks also began to gain a healthy glow.
He also wished to recover as soon as possible. Once he regained his powers, he could repay his son’s efforts.
Feeling the Yuan Chi from his Energy Center depleting at an abnormally fast rate, Ye Mo coughed and said, “How strange, all the Yuan Chi today has been depleted. It’s been going down faster lately!”
Ye Mo noticed, in these few days of healing his father’s body with Yuan Chi, the rate of absorption increased exponentially.
As Ye Mo was still riddled with confusion, the wooden bed suddenly cracked, causing Ye Qing to drop onto the floor with a loud thud.
“Dad! Are you alright?” Ye Mo asked worriedly.
“I’m alright, but you stay away from me!”
Ye Qing’s eyes were still closed, but his voice held a grave note. In the room, the broken bed that was now lying on the floor was still erratically shaking.
“Dad, how are you feeling?” Ye Mo asked, concerned. Ye Qing’s body was convulsing uncontrollably.
Ye Qing’s face was contorted in pain, yet underneath all that lingered a hint of a smile. Five years worth of healing he received from Ye Mo meant that he could finally start controlling the flow of his Energy Center again.
As Ye Qing was about to control the flow from his Energy Center, he suddenly grimaced.
A thundering noise sounded, and Ye Qing’s Energy Center alongside with his abdomen split open with explosive force. Blood splattered across Ye Mo’s face.
Upon this unexpected turn of events, Ye Mo froze in shock. Lifting a hand, he touched the cold, cold droplets of blood on his face.
Ye Mo rushed towards Ye Qing, his eyes red, and bellowed, “Dad!”
Suddenly, a monstrous howl sounded, and a pitch black Yuanli Beast emerged from Ye Qing’s Energy Center. The Beast somehow simultaneously resembled a tiger and a panther, baring its two giant fangs, a visage of terror.