The cultivation world was cruel. This simple five lettered sentence was the echoing sentiment of many who sought riches, power, pleasure, and strength. It placed heavy emphasis on the importance of too many random factors, and at times, it seemed as if heaven and earth were actively acting against you.
All it took was one wrong step, one wrong word, or one wrong thought and it could lead to a cascading waterfall of despair and agony. It was terrifying; it was cruel. Furthermore, cultivation in itself was difficult. There was innate talent, but that could only usher you so far. One also needed a quality environment, absolute protection, intelligent instructors, and rich resources to truly establish themselves. They needed a legacy to follow, to avoid tripping into the abyss of mediocrity.
How many were capable of being born with these things, while simultaneously receiving the tempering required to forge a sufficient heart of cultivation to challenge any obstacle?
Sometimes, you ’re given everything, yet in the end, it might not be enough.
There was once a boy, let ’s call this boy Ying, and he felt that he had everything. He was born to a loving family, to a legacy, to a high-end environment, to a sufficient backing, and never needed anything more than time.
It all collapsed like a house of cards. His family was taken away from him, his legacy shattered, his environment incinerated, protection obliterated, and left with no time to react. And, it was his fault. A single word could define the reason: ”Arrogance. ”
A young boy that had everything looked down upon those who had nothing in this cruel, difficult, and fragile cultivation world. It was merely a few words, a juvenile insult that seemed to matter very little now, but it crumbled his entire world.
He was left crippled and alone, unable to continue cultivation, unable to seek revenge, and this was his punishment. There were countless times that he prayed to the suns, moon, earth, mountains, lakes, stars, and all sorts of indistinctive yet grand things that might contain deities. He hoped they would hear his plea, seek justice on his behalf.
Life wasn ’t so simple. It never was.
When his life was about to amount to nothing due to a few words, he was taken by an Evil Cultivator. That cultivator sought to strip him of his remaining lifeforce and use him as a cultivation resource, and he could only accept this in terrifying horror. He had no right in this world to fight or struggle for his life, and his guilt consumed his heart. Perhaps he deserved this. Because of him, his family was now buried.
Ying resigned himself to his seemingly inevitable fate!
However, fate had not resigned itself to him!
In an unexpected twist, the Evil Cultivator ’s method abruptly backfired, and his cultivation, essence, innate yin, innate yang, and all his innate energies were transferred to Ying! How? Even he didn ’t know, yet it did. Whether it was truly due to the hands of an unknown god or simply an accident, he didn ’t know and he sure as hell did not care. He lapped this fortune up like a thirsty dog and survived!
Not only was his cultivation base restored, his mental, physical, and spiritual energies damaged by his crippling was completely healed, allowing him to regain competence. With renewed vigor, his eyes were unyielding and blazing. He wanted revenge!
With his own two hands, he would get it!
The world was unfathomably cruel.
A completely different incident, a completely different time. His personality became dark, silent, and somewhat vile as a result of his past. He ignored the words of a single individual and that led to his subsequent capture by hired experts who tortured and crippled him once again. Ying was distraught. He did nothing wrong!
He literally did nothing yet met such a fate once more!
How could the cultivation world be so fickle! With sufficient strength, wealth, and status, one could trample on anyone and everything! His heart of cultivation was truly tested, and he could only allow himself to be thrown away like trash.
Typically, crippled cultivators lived a life far worse than death. They suffered numerous issues to their ability to think, form memories, control their physical body, and their organs were prone to failure. Their deaths could be abrupt or exceptionally slow, while their physical abilities would be below even mortal children. It was the ultimate punishment that every cultivator dreaded.
Spirit Oaths were so fundamentally respected because of this frightening consequence. It was like losing everything in this world.
Thrown out and forgotten, he could only crawl away with eyes filled with bleak agony and seething hatred. This hatred wasn ’t merely directed towards others that had wrong him, but himself. His mind was immersed in dark, gloomy, and provoking suicidal thoughts. Wouldn ’t he be better off dead? There would be no more suffering, no more pain, and he could simply vanish from the face of this world, right?
But, he was a coward. He couldn ’t drown himself, slit his wrists, or jump in front of a large moving carriage to embrace death.
He wanted nothing more than to slink away into the darkness forever, to be unnoticed and unseen, so he could hide away from everyone and everything in this cruel world.
At that moment, a moment of profound misery, he was enlightened. Enlightened to the unfathomable truths hidden within the depths of this world, one that resonated with his soul!
An exceptional rare Ethereal Intent. However, despite awakening to this intent that allowed his existence to meld with the shadows of this world, to become an existence that could only be ignored, be it his words or his presence, he was still useless. Without his cultivation, his Intent was useless.
Until he remembered the Evil Cultivator. He was crippled once before but he had regained his cultivation and recovered fully after an Evil Method cultivation error. If it could happen once, it could happen again. With all his strength, he returned to a location that he had once avoided with his everything: the Evil Cultivator ’s lair.
He found a cultivation manual, and it was the same cultivation manual the Evil Cultivator used against him. Its purpose was to siphon the innate energies of an individual to cultivate. It was rather basic for Evil Methods, as it merely stole innate energies and lifeforce to supplement oneself, and this was the basis of all, if not most, Evil Methods.
He clutched at this evil ray of hope. He clutched it with his all. He explored and planned. He needed living targets, but cultivators could easily kill him with a single move, even the weakest. In fact, a five-year old child could slap a weapon out of his hand and break his skull. His decreasing physical state and mental ability caused his bones, muscles, and mind to become unfathomably weak.
With a decreased reaction time, he could never kill or capture anyone that could react to him. So, he was forced to do what any individual with a hint of morals and principles would despise doing; he targeted the weak and defenseless: infants.
He did the unthinkable, the most vilest action imaginable, the cruelest and despicable act possible: He killed infants. Their nascent energies were easy to consume, while minor, they were easy to use the cultivation method on and there was little chance of a backlash. He needed living targets, and it was his own choice. He quietly hid, found key moments, and snatched the infants away. After crying river-like tears while ending their brand new lives, he soon regained his cultivation.
The pain tore at his heart, and thoughts of killing himself became rampant. Was his sole purpose, his sole desire for living, to kill those that had done nothing to him? Why was he pushed to this point?! Why him?!?!
He had everything in his youth, and wanted for nothing. He couldn ’t sleep, and tears would fall without end for days at a time, but for each drop that fell…he pictured those who pushed him to the brink. They left him with nothing, took his everything for an insult and a slight.
IT WAS THEIR FAULT!
IT WAS THIS WORLD ’S FAULT!!
He set a goal for himself. With this in mind, he shut off his emotions and deeply focused as he cultivated, used his Shadow Intent to grow and develop, becoming an assassin that killed for money. His Evil Methods improved, and he could take the innate energies of the recently deceased, allowing his cultivation to grow leaps and bounds. He attained various assassination arts, trained in them, and killed.
He was mercilessly terrifying as he came without warning and claimed lives without end. Decades soon passed, and his desire for revenge was never reduced, his mind focused on that goal.
Until, he finally found them. Those who slighted him.
One had a marked gravestone without a body inside and the other was killed in a battle between clans. They were dead.
At that moment, he didn ’t know what to feel. He had performed all these killings, these evil acts, merely for the sake of revenge, yet this cruel world didn ’t give it to him. Instead, it claimed their lives before he could even see them again. They eradicated his family, took away his hope! Yet now…they were no longer of this world.
That was what he felt.
His dagger that was stained with thousands of lives was useless. On one dark night, he gripped his dagger and brought it to his heart. All it required was one simple thrusting motion, and his entire life would be brought to an end. It would all end.
The faces of those smiling, crying, and curious infants flashed in his mind. The faces of those he killed that reflected confusion, unwillingness, despair, hatred, and want. The want for more life! They flashed within his mind.
What was this all for? What was this all for?!
Every life taken to further his agenda, meaningless. Absolutely fucking meaningless. Despite all this, when it came to plunge himself into the cold embrace of death, to seek absolution from his sinful acts, the dagger that painfully poked at his skin…dropped.
In the end, he couldn ’t do it.
Was he a coward? Yes! Did he want to live? No! He wanted nothing more than to end it all, but he couldn ’t end it himself. Should he find someone to send him to his death? Could he? And so he tried, and at the moment the sword neared his neck, his body instinctively took action, slicing into the throat of his would-be killer with his dagger.
A head fell; it wasn ’t his.
Ying was lost. His will to live was too strong, but his desire for death was equally strong! He wanted to leave this world, but he couldn ’t do so on his own. How unfortunate. But his sin was like blood that could not be washed off, and the deaths by his hands were too numerous to count.
So, he could only do what he could: try to find redemption.
The months turned to years which turned into decades as he devoted his life traveling the world, seeking to save a life if he could. However, his means were flawed, because…to save a life, another one or several had to die.
He lived his life in this limbo state, trying to help strangers while seeking absolution of his acts, but only piling more.
Before he knew it, he had lived for hundreds of years, yet his life of good deeds had not washed off a single iota of sin from his hands. But one day, someone will come. That person would be able to give him what he seeked the most.
Ying thought he had finally met this man at the end of his life. Little did he know, this man didn ’t want his life; he wanted him.
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