Lord of All Realms
Chapter 1: An Unstable Situation
Black Cloud City. The Nie clan.
As night fell, the plainly dressed Nie Qian leaned against the windowsill and stared at an artificial hill outside her window as her mind wandered.
Inside the room, Nie Tian, who just turned one, impatiently pushed away his wet nurse. Mouth stained with milk, but eyes fixed on Nie Qian, he mumbled, “Meat, must eat meat…”
His wet nurse, Zhou Ma, became embarrassed and chuckled, “Miss, look…”
Nie Qian snapped back to reality and gave the adorable yet strong Nie Tian an intense glare before she jokingly taunted, “This little bastard has already had two bowls of ground meat today but shows no interest in his milk. Now he wants more meat. I don’t even know if he can properly digest it.”
“Meat, need meat…” Nie Tian was still jabbering with a smile on his face.
Nie Tian’s charming smile reminded Nie Qian of her late younger sister. Feeling a bit soft-hearted, she nodded to Zhou Ma.
Zhou Ma then brought out a bowl of finely ground meat and laid it on the table. Nie Tian’s ink-black pupils immediately flashed. Then he grabbed a spoon and started deftly digging in, his chubby little face filled with satisfaction.
Hearing Nie Tian eating caused Nie Qian to feel bothered for no apparent reason. “Little Yue, how many kids are going to attend the drawing of lots tomorrow?”
Nie Qian popped the question abruptly.
The servant girl, Han Yue, who was standing by the door, hesitated and softly replied, “Miss, all the one-year-old babies in the Nie clan surnamed Nie will attend. Once every five years, immortals from Cloudsoaring Mountain will bring spiritual tools to reward the Nie clan for their hard work over the years. No parent of a one-year-old child would want to pass up that opportunity.”
The Nie clan was notable in Black Cloud City. However, this world respected the powerful Qi warriors above all else. Almost every mortal clan offered service to them. The Nie clan was no exception.
The Qi warrior sect that the Nie clan clung to was the Cloudsoaring sect, which was located on Cloudsoaring Mountain not far from Black Cloud City. At the heart of Cloudsoaring Mountain, there was an abundance of Fire Stones, which were a low-ranked type of spiritual material that Qi practitioners used to improve their cultivation. The Qi warriors of the Cloudsoaring sect were busy with cultivation all year long, and thus, unwilling to waste time on extracting the low-ranked Fire Stones themselves, they had members of the Nie clan do it for them.
Generation after generation, the Nie clan had offered the extracted Fire Stones as tribute to the Cloudsoaring sect in exchange for their protection.
Additionally, other than protecting the Nie clan from oppression from other families in Black Cloud City, Qi warriors of the Cloudsoaring sect would also bring low-ranked spiritual tools to the Nie clan every five years in order to test the cultivation potential of the Nie children through the drawing of lots.
Upon birth, every child would possess a somewhat special attribute, like metal, wood, water, fire, or earth. Some children would carry rare attributes, like lightning, electricity, wind, cloud, or frost. Qi warriors of the Cloudsoaring sect would bring a number of low-ranked spiritual tools that possessed the different attributes.
The children and spiritual tools that shared the same attributes would be drawn to each other. In this way, a child’s attribute could be determined, and then his parents could provide well-directed assistance and help the youngster achieve twice the result with half the effort.
Qi warriors of the Cloudsoaring sect would trade those low-ranked spiritual tools for the Nie clan’s loyalty, so all the spiritual tools brought to lot drawing would be gifted to the children with matching attributes.
Though useless to the Qi warriors of the Cloudsoaring sect, those low-ranked spiritual tools would be of great help to the Nie children’s cultivation and become a suitable spiritual tool for a long time.
That was why the whole Nie clan would seethe with excitement at the lot drawings that would only happen once every five years. Every parent with a one-year-old child would consider it to be the most significant moment of that child’s life, and would be drawn to the event like a vulture to flesh.
This time was no different.
Nie Qian frowned. “Answer me, how many kids are going to attend this time?”
“Seven,” Han Yue replied softly, bowing her head deeply.
“Little Tian is exactly one year old and is surnamed Nie,” Nie Qian said coldly. “Why didn’t anyone inform me to bring Nie Tian to this lot-drawing convention?”
“Miss…” Han Yue forced a smile as she looked up at Nie Qian and said in a low voice, “Nie Tian is the child of your younger sister, but she is… just like you, a girl, and she didn’t mention who Nie Tian’s father was before she passed away.”
“According to the rules of the Nie clan, only the children of legitimate sons have the right to attend the lot-drawing conventions every five years. Children of the daughters of the clan have no such right.”
“I don’t care about those rules,” spat Nie Qian. “My father is still the head of this clan. I’m gonna go reason with him right now!” Then she stormed out of the room.
As Nie Qian left, Han Yue murmured to herself, “Your father is currently the head of the clan, but his position…isn’t stable!”
A moment later.
Nie Qian barged into Nie Donghai’s pavilion and yelled indignantly, “Father, Nie Tian is …”
She suddenly stopped.
Inside the dimly lit room, Nie Donghai, the current head of the clan, had nothing but exhaustion written across his pale, yellow face. His originally mighty body had turned into a bag of bones. He was currently stooped against the wall, his eyes focused on a red medicinal pill in his left hand. He seemed to be wavering back and forth regarding something important.
Nie Qian’s outraged heart was suddenly filled with sadness.
“Father, don’t,” she said gently.
She recognized the medicinal pill in Nie Donghai’s hand with a single glance. It was a Soul Restoration Pill. With its help, a Qi warrior would appear to be full of spiritual energy and vigor for a short period of time, but it was merely temporary.
Soul Restoration Pills would drain a Qi practitioner’s potential and longevity, and the user would be greatly damaged physically and mentally afterwards.
Generally, a Qi warrior would only resort to taking it when it was a matter of life and death. No one dared to use it under normal circumstances.
Nie Donghai, who had been staring at the Soul Restoration Pill in his hand, saw Nie Qian come in. He forced a smile and said bitterly, “Ever since I was seriously wounded by the Yun clan and the Yuan clan, my sea of Qi was damaged and my spiritual energy has started leaking faster than I can replace it. There is no chance of my cultivation base reaching Anterior Heaven level. Even my current cultivation level… well, I’m not sure how much longer I can maintain it.
“Second Brother and Third Brother have been after my position as head of the clan for a long time. I’ve thought this through. The Cloudsoaring sect is going to send people over tomorrow. If they saw such a drop in my cultivation, then with Second Brother and Third Brother stirring up the situation, I’m afraid I would have no choice but to hand over my position.”
“Father, I’d rather you retire than drain your longevity to keep your position as head of the clan.” Nie Qian’s eyes welled up with tears.
“What do you know?!” Nie Donghai gave her a hard look, with seriousness and anger written all over his face. “We’ll only have a chance to seek justice for the ill treatment you’ve received from the Yun clan if I’m the head of the Nie clan! Also, regarding the person who tricked your sister, it is only possible to find out his identity when I have the Nie clan’s power under my command!
“If I step down, there is absolutely no way that Second Brother and Third Brother will avenge you and your sister! I have to keep this position till the day I die, for you and Jin’er!
“What does it matter if I live a few years less? Once I step down, I will no longer be able to fight for you. How is that different from dying?”
“Father!” Nie Qian choked on her own tears.
“Alright. Don’t behave like an immature child. Tell me. Why were you in a hurry to find me?” Nie Donghai took a deep breath and restored his firm look.
“Father,” Nie Qian pleaded. “Tomorrow’s lot-drawing convention is of great importance. Since you gave Little Tian the family name ‘Nie’, I hope that Little Tian can participate. If he could find a suitable spiritual tool on the lot-drawing convention, it would greatly benefit his future cultivation. With its help, he might be able to reach the ninth level of the Qi Refining stage by the age of fifteen and be admitted to the Cloudsoaring sect.”
“About this matter…” Nie Donghai seemed to be in a dilemma. “How could I not be aware of the situation? I talked to Second Brother and Third Brother about this long ago, but they were fixed on the fact that Little Tian wasn’t a legitimate son of the Nie clan and insisted on refusing to allow him to participate, which is in accordance with clan rules.”
“Father, you are reaching the end of your cultivation path. Little sister is no longer with us. And as for me… my life has no hope of changing for the better.” Our branch of the clan is not well populated, and with Little Tian being the only male, I hope you can fight for him.” Nie Qian’s eyes were filled with tears.
Nie Donghai remained silent for a while before he nodded. “I understand. Go. Take Nie Tian to attend the lot drawing tomorrow.”
Although Nie Qian’s eyes glistened with tears, they also showed a hint of happiness before she bowed and left.
As she stepped out of the room, Nie Qian heard Nie Donghai swallowing the Soul Restoration Pill and letting out a long sigh.
Nie Qian felt a heart-wrenching pain, knowing her arrival helped Nie Donghai make up his mind. She couldn’t bear to look back and rushed away as quickly as possible.
Chapter 2: Lot-drawing Convention
The next day….
The great hall of the Nie clan was full of excited people, and the atmosphere was quite bustling.
Liu Yan, from the Cloudsoaring sect, was surrounded by a crowd of Nie clan members of all ages. They showed great concern for him by asking about his well-being, hoping to win his favor and thus giving their children or grandchildren a slightly better chance of being admitted to the Cloudsoaring sect.
Liu Yan was wearing a grey robe, and a hint of smile could be seen at the corner of his mouth. He was in the seat of honor, chatting to nearby Nie clan members with a bit impatience in his eyes.
From the start to the end, Liu Yan never stood up; the surrounding members of Nie clan kept bowing in an extremely humble manner.
One by one, members of the Nie clan brought in their one-year-old children through the gate of the hall.
Every comer would take their child to greet Liu Yan and make a introduction to him with their face full of smiles. Only after that would they greet and pay respect to the three elders of the Nie clan, who were seated beside Liu Yan.
Nie Donghai, together with his second brother Nie Beichuan and third brother Nie Nanshan, didn’t try to flatter and please Liu Yan due to their special status. But every time they met his gaze, they would also wear their brightest smiles.
Unlike the day before, Nie Donghai looked radiant and energetic, with absolutely no evidence of injuries.
“Nie Qian? What did you bring Nie Tian here for?” These sudden, ill-timed words came from Nie Lan, who had introduced his son to Liu Yan moments ago. He furrowed his eyebrows as he looked unhappily towards the gate of the hall.
Nie Lan was Nie Beichuan’s son. While he was the oldest among the second generation of the Nie clan, his cultivation talent was quite poor. He had only reached the ninth level of Qi Refining and hadn’t been able to break through the bottleneck and enter the Lesser Heaven stage.
For this reason, he had long since given up his own cultivation and placed all his hope in his three sons.
At present, his first son, who was only eleven years old, had reached the seventh level of Qi Refining. As long as he could reach the ninth level in the next four years, he would win the Cloudsoaring sect’s favor and become their disciple. With the Cloudsoaring sect’s help, he would eventually be able to reach the Lesser Heaven stage and live a bright future.
His second son, who was six, also showed outstanding cultivation talent by achieving the fourth level of Qi Refining. A promising future was in store.
Today he brought his third son Nie Hong, who had just turned one.
The births of his three children had been carefully calculated so that every one of them happened to be at the proper age to attend the quinquennial lot-drawings. Both of the elder sons had made remarkable gains during the last two lot-drawings.
It was Nie Hong’s turn this time.
As Nie Lan spoke, all the eyes of the Nie clan members inside the hall became fixed on Nie Qian and Nie Tian, who had just passed through the gate.
“Eldest brother,” Nie Qian said loudly. “I’ve brought Nie Tian to attend this year’s lot-drawing convention.”
Nie Tian was standing by her side, as adorable and strong as a tiger cub. Not only was he taller than the other children in attendance, but he also seemed more muscular.
In spite of the volume of her voice, Nie Qian looked a bit uneasy under everyone’s scalding stares.
Nie Tian, on the contrary, was full of smiles, completely unaware of the all the eyes glaring at them with ill intentions. Instead, he seemed to be enjoying being the center of attention, and didn’t flinch an inch.
“Nie Tian?” Nie Lan snorted disdainfully. He didn’t look very happy. “His family name is Nie, but it is only because we have no idea who his father is. In fact, he isn’t a true Nie at all. According to the Nie clan rules, a daughter’s son shouldn’t be qualified to attend lot-drawing conventions. Don’t make trouble out of nothing. Just take Nie Tian and leave. Stop wasting Mr. Liu Yan’s and everybody else’s time.”
Nie Qian immediately turned to Nie Donghai. “Father!”
“It doesn’t matter who my son-in-law is,” Nie Donghai replied forcefully. “Jin’er said before she died that Nie Tian’s father was willing to take our surname and join our clan, hence Nie Tian is a descendant of the Nie clan.”
“Eldest brother,” Nie Nanshan said with a dark smile, “As far as I remember, you itched to eat that man alive. You used to talk all the time about killing him at all costs once you found him. How come you’ve changed your attitude all of a sudden and admitted his status as your son-in-law? Plus, to take our surname… well, rules have to be followed, don’t they? I don’t recall that guy ever taking a vow in our ancestral shrine.”
“Exactly. Without taking a vow in the ancestral shrine and finishing the ritual, a man can’t be counted as a son-in-law who is qualified to take our surname.”
“Clanmaster, you can’t be so eager to take a man you harbor deep hatred with as your son-in-law, just to qualify Nie Tian’s attendance to the lot-drawing. You have to remember that Nie Jin’s death was all because of him!”
“Even though you are the clanmaster, you can’t disregard the family rules and act recklessly, right?”
Inside the hall, both immediate members and extended members of the Nie clan who had brought their children started yelling in dissatisfaction and accusing Nie Donghai of acting recklessly.
Every additional child participating in the lot-drawing would mean a reduction of their own child’s opportunities, so naturally, people weren’t happy about that.
If it were before Nie Donghai had been seriously wounded, he would have more authority, and people wouldn’t dare to act this way.
However, they knew about Nie Donghai’s condition and the fact that he might have to hand over his position as clanmaster soon due to his degrading cultivation level, so they no longer felt the need to give him face.
Nie Beichuan sat straight in his chair and listened to the noisy crowd with no intention to break the tumult.
As the yelling grew louder and louder, Liu Yan from the Cloudsoaring sect coughed softly.
All of a sudden, everyone shut their mouths.
Even Nie Nanshan, who was about to question Nie Donghai one more time, stopped immediately and turned to Liu Yan with a smiling face.
Liu Yan, his face smooth and jade-like, had a slight change in his expression as he looked towards Nie Tian, who stood next to Nie Qian. “This is… the son of my junior martial sister?”
While he talked, a twinge of subtle pain flashed in his eyes.
His words suddenly reminded everyone that Nie Jin had the most amazing talent among the second generation of the Nie clan. She managed to reach the ninth level of Qi Refining at the age of ten, and thus was acknowledged by the Cloudsoaring sect and became one of their disciples.
Liu Yan was her eldest martial brother.
“Sir, Nie Tian is my poor sister’s only son,” Nie Qian said sadly.
Liu Yan gently nodded as he looked at Nie Tian with a complex and profound expression, before he warmly said, “This time, I’d originally planned to provide five small toys. However, my junior martial sister and I go way back, so for Nie Tian, I will take the initiative and add two spiritual tools from my own collection. How does this sound?”
He turned around to look at Nie Beichuan and Nie Nanshan.
“Since Mr. Liu has said so, of course we will agree,” Nie Beichuan replied in a hurry.
Nie Nanshan also nodded at once with a smiling face while saying,”Whatever Mr. Liu says.”
None of the rest of the crowd dared to object.
“With that settled, the lot-drawing convention will now begin.” Liu Yan cut to the chase. He waved his left hand, sending seven streaks of mysterious light flying out of his sleeve.
The seven streaks of light, each a different color, lit up the Nie clan’s great hall, illuminating everything around them.
The lights fell on the stone floor in center of the great hall and turned into seven tools glistening with spiritual light, namely, a sword, a saber, a fan, a glove, a wooden staff, a bead, and a piece of animal bone.
Every member of the Nie clan, whether young or old, voluntarily cleared out of the center of the great hall as soon as they saw the seven spiritual tools landing on the ground. Immediately after that, they gathered around the tools.
Everyone’s gaze was immediately fixed on the seven exquisite spiritual tools, and none of them bothered to give Nie Tian another glance.
Nie Donghai and his two brothers stood up subconsciously and emanated spiritual fluctuations to sense the attributes and ranks of the seven spiritual tools.
Many members of the Nie clan, eyes shining with eagerness, also tried to use their inner spiritual energy to judge the spiritual tools.
Cyan, purple, red, and blue colored spiritual energy emerged from the seven spiritual tools under the power sensing of the Qi warriors of the Nie clan.
“Elementary grade five!”
Nie Lan’s wide-open eyes were fixed on the cyan bead that Liu Yan had brought out last, as his breathing grew slightly rapid.
“Oh, heavens. Is it really of grade five?”
“Aren’t all the spiritual tools supposed to be of Elementary grade three according to the traditions? A spiritual tool of the fifth grade, even at Elementary level, is still of great value. It is usually something awarded to their own disciples, but this time…”
“How generous of Mr. Liu!”
The cyan bead seemed to have strands of lightning flickering inside it under the influence of everyone’s spiritual energy, which made it especially rare. Therefore, everyone’s eyes turned red and glittered with greed.
Nie Beichuan fixedly stared at the bead as a strange light flashed in his eyes.
Nie Lan was his son, which meant Nie Hong was his grandson. Long before Nie Hong was born, he used secret magics to test Nie Hong’s talent.
Due to the low level of his cultivation base, he relied on the help of an extraordinary medicinal pill to be seventy percent sure that Nie Hong had the inner attribute of lightning.
That Elementary grade five cyan bead was clearly lightning-attributed, making it a spiritual tool completely compatible with Nie Hong’s cultivation.
Nie Beichuan’s attitude changed slightly as he faced Liu Yan. He bowed gratefully and said, “Thank you so much for your generosity, Mr. Liu Yan.”
The rest of the crowd followed Nie Beichuan’s lead and expressed their gratitude to Liu Yan for being so generous.
Liu Yan waved his hands to quiet down the crowd and said, ”From now on, no one shall use their spiritual energy to sense the spiritual tools; that could disturb the aura of the tools. As of now, it’s completely up to these eight children to determine their own destinies.”
“Let the eight children in!” Nie Donghai said in a low voice.
“Go ahead!” Nie Qian felt a bit of relief and let go of Nie Tian.
The moment those seven spiritual tools landed on the ground, Nie Tian’s eyes shined with eagerness and impatience, as he wanted to rush into the central area immediately. Were it not for Nie Qian, who had been tightly clasping his arms, he probably wouldn’t have waited for everyone to finish talking before he rushed into the central area.
When she let go, Nie Tian, as she expected, opened his arms in a manner as if to embrace the whole world, and rushed into the central area.
Chapter 3: The Vilest Event in the History of Nie Clan!
A kid who was in Nie Tian’s way got knocked off his feet from the powerful impact he received from Nie Tian.
That kid was Nie Nanshan’s grandson, Nie Yuan. The moment he fell to the ground, he immediately burst into a fit of tears.
Nie Tian didn’t look at Nie Yuan, or even circle around him; instead he directly stepped over Nie Yuan.
Moreover, Nie Tian’s right foot landed on Nie Yuan’s hand as he rushed forward, making Nie Yuan cry even more heavily.
Nie Nanshan strove to calm himself, and Nie Yuan’s father, Nie Qiu, could almost feel his son’s pain. The faces of both men immediately turned sullen.
Considering that it was quite common for kids to run into each other during the lot-drawing, Nie Nanshan and Nie Qiu suppressed their anger for the moment.
“Nie Tian, be careful!” Nie Qian shouted anxiously.
However, it seemed Nie Tian didn’t hear Nie Qian’s call as he stepped over Nie Yuan and ran toward the spiritual tool closest to him.
At this time, another child of the Nie clan, with glittering small eyes, stared at the glove, which was emitting misty red light. When he reached out his hand towards the glove, his fingertips also emitted rays of red light.
Obviously, the child’s cultivation attribute completely matched the spiritual energy contained in the glove.
A extended member of the Nie clan got emotional and worked up, crying out, “That’s destined for Liang’er!”
At first sight, Liu Yan and the whole Nie clan could tell without a doubt that the glove, glowing red light and all, was the tool Nie Liang needed.
Liu Yan nodded softly and said to himself, “Fire attribute…”
Everyone saw that Nie Liang’s unsteady small hand was on the verge of touching the glove.
However at that moment, Nie Tian came running over and knocked Nie Liang to the ground before he reached out to grab the glove.
Before the confused Nie Liang could make a sound, Nie Tian already grasped the glove in his hand and burst into a loud laughter.
As Nie Tian was laughing with his mouth wide open, Nie Liang realized what had happened and started to cry out loud, “Wah, wah! Mine, mine…”
Nie Tian’s face was filled with satisfaction and pleasant laughter, while in contrast, Nie Liang was scared and in tears.
“Bastard!” growled Nie Liang’s father, an expert from an extended branch of the Nie clan. “That glove doesn’t agree with Nie Tian’s cultivation attribute. There wasn’t even a smidgen of energy fluctuation from Nie Tian’s body that agreed with the spiritual tool, so why should he get it?”
Liu Yan of the Cloudsoaring sect smiled as he watched Nie Tian reach out to take the glove.
Liu Yan had to hold back from laughing. Right when he was going to say a few words in consolation, he discovered that Nie Tian, after enjoying forcibly taking the glove, had rushed to another nearby spiritual tool.
While Nie Liang was still crying, Nie Tian donned the red glove and dashed toward the blue sword.
Meanwhile, another child of the Nie clan was holding the blue sword, his tiny face filled with smile.
While he held the sword, waves of blue light immediately emerged from both the sword and the child’s flesh that came into contact with the sword.
As he grinned joyously and prepared to laugh out loud, Nie Tian swooped in like the wind.
Relying on his superior strength, Nie Tian snatched the blue sword out of the other child’s grip, laughing the whole time.
The child who just lost his spiritual tool stood in confusion for a moment before he tried to recapture the sword from Nie Tian’s hand, but he ended up being pushed to the ground.
Another child’s ear-piercing cries rang through the Nie clan’s great hall.
“How impudent! This little bastard is too impudent!” Fuming, another extended member of Nie clan could hardly hold back from immediately rushing into the court.
Nie Tian, who was apparently addicted to robbing, paid no attention to him and continued on his rampage in the court, totally disregarding the crowd. In a short period of time, Nie Tian managed to forcibly grab the remaining saber, fan, animal bone, wooden staff, bead.
Many members of the Nie clan present at the lot-drawing were struck wide-eyed and tongue-tied, looking at Nie Tian as if he was some kind of devil.
The cries of the seven children and cursing of their fathers went on and on, filling the great hall.
Nie Tian’s two hands could barely hold the seven spiritual tools he had taken, so he put them in a pile as he squatted on the ground and played with them one by one, his face filled with a smile and his eyes filled with satisfaction.
However, everyone could clearly see that none of the tools showed any sign of energy fluctuations as he laid his chubby little hands on them.
That meant none of the spiritual tools he had taken from the other children agreed with his cultivation attribute.
He was basically breaking the rules simply because he felt like it!
The seven children who had their spiritual tools stolen from them were currently crying nonstop, and naturally gathered around Nie Tian, enviously and helplessly staring at the spiritual tools that matched their respective cultivation attributes and made them comfortable and relaxed. They even tried, in vain, to get them back.
“Mine, all mine….” Nie Tian turned around to face them as he made threatening gestures while mumbling something.
Greedily looking at the cyan pearl, Nie Hong approached, step by step, hoping to cross Nie Tian and snatch the cyan pearl back.
Nie Tian swung his chubby fist and unceremoniously hit Nie Hong in the face. As a result, Nie Hong was thrown to the ground and started to cry louder than ever.
The other six children had nothing but fear on their faces after witnessing Nie Tian’s demonic actions. Their helpless eyes were still fixed on the spiritual tools which should had been theirs, yet no one dared to go for them any more.
“How savage! I’ve been present for numerous lot-drawings, but I’ve never seen such a savage and presumptuous child!”
“The little hoodlum! None of the seven spiritual tools agreed with his cultivation attribute, yet he forcibly snatched all of them, not sparing even one. Our clan has never seen such a vile event!”
“Clan members should be brothers. We love and help each other. One must never take all the benefits! Now look at him. Not only does he want to eat the meat, but he won’t even share a sip of soup with others. He simply defies all principles and doesn’t follow any of the rules!”
Listening to the crying and cursing inside the hall, Nie Beichuan and Nie Nanshan’s faces were as dark and gloomy as lake water.
Nie Qian, standing by the gate, looking at the laughing Nie Tian and became a little worried. She even secretly hated that he had been so reckless, offending the whole Nie clan.
She turned to Nie Donghai with a pitiful face, but was met with Nie Donghai’s bitter smile.
Embarrassed and with his head aching, he didn’t know how to handle this situation either.
Having watched the whole scene, Liu Yan spoke softly. The noise-filled hall resumed silence as he spoke.
The angry members of the Nie clan looked away from Nie Tian and refocused on Liu Yan.
Liu Yan gently coughed as he looked at the crowd, then he said, ”Horseplay between kids… is amusing. As for the seven toys, in my opinion, Nie Tian shall not take all of them. How about this: we’ll let Nie Tian keep one and the rest will go to the other children. Then we can call an end to this incident, what do you say?”
Seeing the tension being eased, Nie Donghai secretly exhaled, and said, “We will do as Mr. Liu says. Nie Tian, you shall behave and choose just one from the tools! Return the rest to your brothers and don’t ever act so rudely again!”
“What about you?” Liu Yan faced towards the rest of the Nie clan members.
Under his gaze, the previously shouting Nie clan members, who had demanded that Nie Tian be punished, had no choice but to nod, agreeing to his arrangement.
“Good.” Liu Yan smiled and gently nodded his head before he looked Nie Tian deep in the eye while tenderly saying, “Okay, listen to Uncle Liu’s words. You can take any spiritual tool you like, but give the rest back to your younger and older brothers.”
Nie Tian pouted unwillingly, and even glanced stealthily at Nie Qian.
Nie Qian gave him a hard look and said, “If you dare to act unruly, watch what I’m going to do with you!”
Nie Tian cringed, as if he feared no one but Nie Qian. Without even looking down, he casually reached his hand to the pile of spiritual tools and pulled out the piece of animal bone, then left immediately.
His indifferent attitude made everyone well aware that he seemed to have little interest in these seven spiritual tools from the start.
What he enjoyed seemed to be… merely the process of taking them from others.
Watching him taking the lowest ranked animal bone, many of the Nie clan members’ faces brightened with surprise. As they secretly mocked his stupidity, the gloomy looks on their faces faded slightly.
The moment he got out of the way, the rest of the Nie clan kids, unable to contain their excitement any longer, rushed forward to seize the spiritual tools they had their eyes on long ago.
Chapter 4: Liu Yan’s Confusion
Nie Qian berated Nie Tian as he ate and drank his fill, but then he fell asleep, so she finally stopped.
Nie Tian had been holding that animal bone in his hand ever since he got back from the lot-drawing, and yet Nie Qian couldn’t find any spiritual energy connections between Nie Tian and the bone.
“What a dummy…” Nie Qian murmured. “He had so many high ranked spiritual tools to choose from, yet he picked this thing….
Suddenly, Nie Donghai’s voice came from outside. “Whatever… Even if he obtained the highest ranked bead, it would also be useless to him. None of the seven spiritual tools were suitable for him. I should have known from the start that having him participate in the lot-drawing wouldn’t be productive.”
As Nie Qian turned around to look, she found that Nie Donghai and Liu Yan of the Cloudsoaring sect had come together. “Father. Mr. Liu.”
Nie Donghai glanced lovingly at Nie Tian, who was sound asleep, lying on his back with his limbs widely spread. Then he sighed softly, frowned, and said, “A while ago, I secretly tested him in hope of determining the attribute of his inner spiritual energy. However…”
After a pause, he continued, “Perhaps due to my insufficient cultivation base, I failed to sense any fluctuation of spiritual energy in him. I knew by then that even if he did participate in the lot-drawing he would most likely not gain much.
“That was the reason I didn’t push so hard to get him into the lot-drawing convention.”
Nie Qian was both shocked and confused. “But father, after I begged you for this opportunity, you did help after all… ”
Nie Donghai forced a smile. “Deep down, I was still unwilling to give up. I wished for a miracle to happen. From the look of it, I’ve put in too much hope into the matter.”
“It was my fault.” Nie Qian blamed herself.
By then, she realized Nie Donghai loved Nie Tian just as much as she did and he would even get in a conflict with everyone in the Nie clan again, just to fight for a shred of opportunity for Nie Tian.
Even though he knew all his efforts could have been in vain, he did it anyway.
“Let me take a closer look.” While he talked, Liu Yan walked to window and stretched out his hand over the sleeping Nie Tian.
White aura swirled out of Liu Yan’s left palm. Its misty and bright apperarance made his hand white like jade.
Liu Yan gently placed his hand onto Nie Tian’s lower abdomen as he narrowed his eyes in concentration. Shreds of spiritual energy as thin as hair emerged from his hand and entered Nie Tian’s lower abdomen, gradually seeping into his limbs and bones.
Nie Tian seemed to be comfortable in his sleep, as a smile had emerged on his chubby little face. He even snored a bit, as if he was having a sweet dream.
The warm, jade-like light gradually covered the surface of Nie Tian’s body, as if he were a porcelain doll in the light of a lantern.
However, Nie Donghai and Nie Qian gazed at Nie Tian with worried looks.
They were fully aware that the jade-like gloss came solely from Liu Yan’s spiritual energy.
The spiritual energy triggered no change after roaming around in Nie Tian’s body, which meant Nie Tian’s body didn’t contain any spiritual energy waves.
Quite a while later, Liu Yan gently retrieved his hand before turning to Nie Donghai and shaking his head.
Nie Donghai and Nie Qian looked on, aghast.
Liu Yan was also confused. “It shouldn’t be like this. I’m familiar with junior martial sister’s natural talent. Forget Black Cloud City as a whole, even in the Cloudsoaring sect her talent was among the best. Even married to a completely talentless mortal, her child should have inherited part of her talent. It shouldn’t be this way.
“I did a thorough search in Nie Tian’s body, but I really felt no trace of spiritual energy fluctuations.”
“Huh… ” Nie Donghai let out a deep sigh and looked frustrated.
Liu Yan frowned and said, “However, Nie Tian’s Qi and blood is extremely vigorous. I could see at the lot-drawing that he was much stronger and more powerful than his peers. His muscles and bones are tough and resilient. If it were a contest of pure strength and force with no spiritual energy involved, probably no one in his generation of the Nie clan could compete with him.”
“How is that useful?” Nie Qian said bitterly, “Those children are still young. When they grow older and begin to understand the words of adults, they will start to cultivate spiritual energy. Spiritual power is the key to measure the strength of a Qi warrior. It is also the source of real strength. How far can he go solely relying on his physical strength?”
“This is also what I worry about the most.” Nie Donghai added, “Those children who have special spiritual energy attributes in their bodies can practice spiritual methods compatible with their inner attributes. One by one, they will progress rapidly, establishing their foundation early on. Only those children would have the hope of reaching the ninth level of Qi Refining at the age of fifteen, therefore earning the favor of the Cloudsoaring sect.”
“Because Nie Tian has not clearly shown his cultivation attribute, he may have to go tread a slower cultivation path. That means he almost has no hope of reaching the ninth level of Qi Refining by the age of fifteen, and accordingly, the door to Cloudsoaring sect would close for him permanently. Not being able to enter the Cloudsoaring sect, he would be stuck in the Nie clan his whole life.”
Liu Yan came to Nie Donghai’s side, patted him on the shoulder, and said sincerely, “It’s not necessarily a bad thing for him not to enter the Cloudsoaring sect. Among the Cloudsoaring sect’s young and talented, many died premature deaths. On the way to seeking the peak, every step could be deadly. To be able to cross those tribulations unharmed, one must have an impressive fate.
“To live a life safely and peacefully like Nie Tian can also be a blessing.”
Liu Yan’s words reminded Nie Donghai of his late daughter Nie Jin, before he felt a pain in his heart and was completely at a loss for words.
“Since matters here have been sorted out, I will now return to the Cloudsoaring sect. Back when junior martial sister was practicing cultivation in the sect, I acted as her mentor, so I was extremely fond of junior martial sister and placed great importance on her. Brother, you may rest assured. I’ll make every effort to find the one who killed her. Whenever there is news, I will let you know.”
Liu Yan gently patted on Nie Donghai’s shoulder before strolling out of the room.
“Mr. Liu, thank you so much for everything,” Nie Donghai said gratefully.
Nie Qian echoed Nie Donghai’s words and quickly said, “Thank you, Mr. Liu.”
They intended to see Liu Yan out, but by the time they got to the door, Liu Yan’s pace had increased to such a level that he was already disappearing off into the distance.
“Mr. Liu has been so kind to us,” Nie Donghai muttered with a frown, “If it were not for him, the clan members… probably wouldn’t have let Nie Tian off so easily.”
“After Little Tian and I left, did those guys…?” Nie Qian said with hatred.
Nie Donghai nodded in assent. “Of course they made a scene. Every one of them dwelt on the fact that Nie Tian wasn’t a true grandson of the Nie clan, and also that he made a mess at the lot-drawing convention. They insisted on punishing him. Fortunately, Mr. Liu helped and spoke up, so they didn’t dare to question me further, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to protect him.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Liu has left and won’t return frequently in the future.” Nie Qian sighed.
“As long as I’m still head of the Nie clan, I won’t tolerate their impudence!” Nie Donghai said with a cold harrumph.
“I fear… I fear that you can’t keep that position for long, father.” Nie Qian smiled bitterly.
“I’ll keep it until the day I can’t. I must seek justice for you and Jin’er!” Nie Donghai’s face was firm and determined. After speaking these words, he also stepped out of the room.
Watching his formerly-heroic figure disappearing into distance, Nie Qian sat in front of the door with a desolate face, and her mind drifted away.
Inside, Nie Tian was still deep asleep, but the threads of spiritual energy Liu Yan left on his body during his analysis lingered.
Because of the flowing spiritual energy, Nie Tian’s flesh and skin began to ripple slightly. It almost looked like tiny waves flowing across water.
Every time his flesh and skin gently trembled, the spiritual energy would become somewhat dimmer, as if his flesh and blood was greedily absorbing and refining the spiritual energy.
Neither Liu Yan, Nie Donghai, nor Nie Qian knew anything about this.
Usually, Nie Tian would only nap for an hour at noon.
But today, he slept for four hours, which was very surprising. When it reached the point that there wasn’t a single shred of spiritual power left on his body, he finally stretched his limbs in comfort and woke up.
Chapter 5: Undefeated Record
Time ran like a river. Nine years passed in a flash.
Early in the morning, as the sun was just beginning to rise above the horizon, numerous junior members of the Nie clan gathered in a public square. Some were sitting cross-legged, inhaling and exhaling the faint spiritual energy of Heaven and Earth, while others were working on their fighting techniques, exchanging blows that sent blasts of air out in all directions.
In a corner of the spacious square, a bunch of 10-year-old children of the Nie clan were hatefully looking down the stone road to their east, with their fists clenched.
“He’s only at the third level of Qi Refining. I don’t believe that he can win every time! Having made another breakthrough yesterday, I’m going to teach him an extremely memorable lesson today!” After nine years, the ten year old Nie Hong, by virtue of the bead that he had obtained in the lot-drawing nine years ago, had already successfully cultivated to the sixth level of Qi Refining. The fingertips of his left hand flickered with a hint of an electric aura as he ground his teeth in anger.
“Brother Hong,” Nie Yuan said, “knowing about your recent breakthrough, he shouldn’t dare to show up today, right?”
Nie Hong shook his head. “No, he’ll come for sure. I know him!”
A guest elder of the Nie clan, Wu Tao, was leading a group of young boys and girls from the Nie clan in cultivation. Most of the youngsters were around fourteen or fifteen, and every member of the group would occasionally cast curious glances in the direction of the part of the square where Nie Tian was expected to appear.
Suddenly, from the long, narrow stone path leading to the east, the sonorous voice of a young man could be heard. “Nie Yuan, were you the one who said I wouldn’t dare to come just now?”
Nie Tian appeared, who was by now significantly taller than his peers.
“Here he comes!”
“Knowing the fact that Nie Hong has reached the sixth level of Qi Refining, he still dares to come… He’s got some balls!”
Upon hearing the familiar voice, other boys and girls of the Nie clan who were slightly older became cheerful and excited.
Those who were cultivating gradually stood up. Those who were practicing their fancy physical combat moves suddenly stopped. One after the other, they all turned to stare at Nie Tian.
In their eyes Nie Tian was different.
Nine years has passed since that lot-drawing convention, yet Nie Tian hadn’t shown any special cultivation attribute. The animal bone he had won failed to resonate with his spiritual energy.
On the contrary, Nie Hong, Nie Yuan, and the others, having determined the attributes of their spiritual power, started to cultivate specific spiritual incantations. With the help of the spiritual tools they had obtained from the lot-drawing convention, their cultivating speed had progressed swiftly and violently. Meanwhile, Nie Tian… was still cultivating using the most basic Qi Refining Incantation.
Nie Tian’s slow cultivation advancement made him a target of secret ridicule among people. Neither the clanmaster Nie Donghai nor Nie Qian could do anything to help.
However, to everyone’s surprise, Nie Tian’s body grew stronger and stronger, which allowed him to fight children of a similar age without being at a disadvantage because of his low Qi Refining level.
On the contrary, in the past nine years, every peer who had fought Nie Tian ended up losing.
Up to this day, Nie Tian had maintained an undefeated record.
The reason why they paid close attention to Nie Tian’s battles was that they wanted to know when his advantage of tremendous physical strength would disappear.
Nie Hong, who had advanced to the sixth level of Qi Refining yesterday, carried a mighty lightning force in his inner spiritual power. Everyone was confident that Nie Tian’s undefeated record would end in today’s battle.
Therefore, they secretly looked forward to this fight.
Nie Tian walked up to them, and as he took a side glance at Nie Yuan, he challenged, “Nie Yuan, it was you who previously taunted me, right? How about the two of us give it a go right now?”
Nie Yuan’s cultivation had reached the fifth level of Qi Refining, yet facing Nie Tian’s glare, he suddenly seemed somewhat timid.
He took half a step back subconsciously. Threatening in manner but cowardly at heart, he said, “Nie Tian, your opponent for today is brother Hong. If you can still stand after your battle with brother Hong, then I’ll fight you myself.”
“Shameless,” whispered Nie You, a girl with with her hair wrapped up in a braid on top of her head.
“Fine, whatever…” Nie Tian said with total indifference and disdain. “To fight you, I don’t even need to bring out my best.”
“You!” Nie Yuan’s face was filled with anger.
“Get out of the way, all of you!” Nie Hong shouted out loud, signaling the other children to move further away. Meanwhile, his right fist was already covered in threads of cyan lightning.
Upon hearing Nie Hong’s words, all the children around him stepped back, making room for him and Nie Tian.
In center of the square, Wu Tao, along with the Nie clan’s older teenagers, could see that the fighting was about to start. All of them began to converge on that particular corner, laughing and chatting about the matter.
Nie Donghai was standing on the balcony of a high stone palace, with both of his hands on the stone wall, as he looked down at the square.
During the past nine years, Nie Donghai took advantage of the power he had as head of the Nie clan and tried every possible way to gather information about the man who got Nie Jin killed.
Unfortunately, so far, he had not received a single word regarding that man’s whereabouts.
It was as if the man had shown up out of nowhere and then disappeared into thin air.
The only thing he had left was Nie Tian, who was about to fight Nie Hong in this very square.
On the other hand, Nie Donghai’s physical condition had been deteriorating by the day. His once tall and mighty body had now turned into a bag of bones. Even the least observant person could tell with a single glance that his time was running out.
Watching Nie Tian winning battles against his peers again and again from the high balcony became one of his few joys.
But he also understood that, because Nie Tian had a poor cultivation base and could rely only on physical strength, he would eventually be defeated someday.
He also knew that once Nie Tian was defeated, it would mark the end of his physical strength being his advantage.
From then on, the gap between Nie Tian and his peers would grow bigger and bigger, as those children’s cultivation base would improve much more rapidly.
“Will it be today?…” Nie Donghai muttered to himself.
A strange sound emanated out from Nie Hong’s fist, which was flashing with an electric aura. Then Nie Hong let out a loud shout, before suddenly rushing towards Nie Tian.
“Well, he is indeed a bit faster and fiercer than before.” Nie Tian smiled at Nie Hong, who was swooping at him with all his power. However, Nie Tian didn’t have the slightest intention to dodge.
He suddenly lifted his hand and took a bold step forward, before he ruthlessly met Nie Hong’s right fist with his significantly larger fist.
The clash of the two fists made a muffled sound, before Nie Hong’s surging momentum suddenly came to a stop.
Nie Tian took two steps back, shaking his fist and grimacing in pain. As he swung his arm, a trace of the electric aura sputtered away from his fist.
The crowd took a close look on the back of Nie Tian’s hand and saw distinct black burns.
“While the sixth level of Qi Refining is only one level higher than the fifth level, there is an essential difference. The sixth level allows spiritual power to be released outside of the body, and the lightning power contained in his spiritual power is able to penetrate the opponent’s body.” Nie Xian, a fourteen year old from a branch of the Nie clan who already cultivated to the eighth level of Qi Refining, looked at Nie Tian deeply before he shook his head and continued, “With each collision of their two fists, Nie Hong will leave lightning damage by releasing his spiritual power into Nie Tian’s body. Lightning will paralyze his muscles, making his whole body sore and numb, therefore he will have to spare some of his energy to resist the erosion caused by the residual lightning in his body.
“If this goes on, it won’t be long before he loses his fighting capacity and falls prey to Nie Hong’s humiliation.
“Fighting someone in the sixth level of Qi Refining head-on, while only being in the third level, is definitely not a wise move.”
The Nie clan’s guest elder, Wu Tao, briefly nodded before he took a side glance at Nie Xian with a look of admiration and said, “Nie Tian has been relying on his physical strength to fight over the years. Now he is used to fighting head-on since he hasn’t suffered a loss doing so. But he doesn’t know that being in the sixth level of Qi Refining, one can release their spiritual power out of their body. Not knowing that, he is bound to suffer greatly today. His unbeaten record… is probably going to end with this battle.”
“Put bluntly, it is all because of his poor talent,” Nie Xian said. “If he also had a unique attribute in his spiritual power like Nie Hong does, he would be able to defeat Nie Hong effortlessly.”
“Did you feel it?” Lightning once again flashed around Nie Hong’s fists as he coldly stared at Nie Tian’s waving arms. “That little bit lightning power I left on your fist has already spread to your arms, hasn’t it? How does it feel? That arm of yours has become sore and numb, hasn’t it?”
“A tad.” Nie Tian grinned, though he was obviously in pain, “But I’m okay. It’s not really affecting me.”
“Still want to play tough?” Nie Hong looked very excited, after being defeated consecutively for nine years, he finally saw a sliver of hope in this battle, “Not affecting you, huh? Take a few more then!”
BANG BANG! BANG BANG BANG!
Nie Hong’s fists came like cannon shots. To everyone’s surprise, Nie Tian didn’t dodge; he allowed them to slam into him endlessly, and just like before, he kept fighting back head-on.
After ten rounds, Nie Hong stopped, breathing heavily, as he looked at Nie Tian in a ferocious manner.
Both of Nie Tian’s hands were as black as charred coals, with little lightning sparks constantly flying out of his arms.
Everyone could tell that his arms had become rather stiff as he waved them.
However Nie Tian’s eyes showed an unprecedented high-spirited will to fight. Like a young ferocious beast who had finally awakened, he roared towards Nie Hong, “Keep them coming! Why did you stop? Come on, don’t stop!”
It seemed as if he was the one who had the upper hand.
Edited and proofread by audiowuxia.
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