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    Coiling Dragon (盘龙)

    https://book.qidian.com/info/1017141

    盘龙, aka Panlong, aka Coiling Dragon, is a webnovel by popular Chinese Xianxia (fantasy/kung fu) writer I Eat Tomatoes (我吃西红柿). This novel has been fully translated by RWX. There are a total of 21 books spanning 800+ chapters, so sit back, buckle your seat belts, and get ready for one long ride!


    Click image for larger version  Name:	2018010946.jpg Views:	1 Size:	6.7 KB ID:	347362Click image for larger version  Name:	2018010945.jpg Views:	1 Size:	30.3 KB ID:	347363Click image for larger version  Name:	2018010939.jpg Views:	1 Size:	66.8 KB ID:	347364

    INTRODUCTION:

    Empires rise and fall on the Yulan Continent. Saints, immortal beings of unimaginable power, battle using spells and swords, leaving swathes of destruction in their wake. Magical beasts rule the mountains, where the brave – or the foolish – go to test their strength. Even the mighty can fall, feasted on by those stronger. The strong live like royalty; the weak strive to survive another day.

    This is the world which Linley is born into. Raised in the small town of Wushan, Linley is a scion of the Baruch clan, the clan of the once-legendary Dragonblood Warriors. Their fame once shook the world, but the clan is now so decrepit that even the heirlooms of the clan have been sold off. Tasked with reclaiming the lost glory of his clan, Linley will go through countless trials and tribulations, making powerful friends but also deadly enemies.

    Come witness a new legend in the making. The legend of Linley Baruch.

    Last edited by Stone.Zhu; 01-09-2018, 11:32 AM.

  • #2
    Book 1 – The Ring
    Book 1, Chapter 1

    Previous ChapterNext Chapter

    Book 1, Chapter 1 – Early Morning at a Township

    The town of Wushan. An ordinary little town located within the Kingdom of Fenlai, west of the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, the largest mountain range within the Yulan continent.

    As the morning sun rose, in the town of Wushan, there remained a slight hint of the cold, pure pre-dawn air. However, virtually all of the citizens of this small town had already come out to begin working. Even the six or seven year old children had already gotten out of bed and were preparing to begin their traditional morning exercises.

    On an empty area in the eastern region of Wushan town, the warmth of the rays of the morning sun passed through the surrounding trees, leaving behind scattered spots of light on the empty ground.

    A large group of children could be seen there, approximately one or two hundred in number. These children were separated into three groups, each group divided into several lines. All the children stood there silently, their faces solemn. The northernmost group of children were approximately six years old. The group in the middle, approximately nine to twelve years old. The ones in the south, the thirteen to sixteen year olds.

    In front of this large group of children, there were three sturdily-built middle-aged men. All three of them wore short-sleeved shirts and roughly cut trousers.

    “If you want to be a powerful warrior, then you must work hard from youth.” The leader of the middle-aged men, head raised high, hands clasped behind his back, said to them coldly. He swept his cold, fierce gaze across the northernmost group of children. All of those six and seven year olds tightened their lips. Gazing at this man with their big, round eyes, none of them dared to make a sound.

    The leader’s name was Hillman (Xi’er’man). He was the captain of the guard for the Baruch (Ba’lu’ke) clan, the noble clan which owned Wushan town.

    “All of you are commoners. Unlike those noble families, you won’t have access to any secret manuals teaching you how to cultivate battle qi [dou qi]. If you want to become someone of worth, if you wish to be respected, then all of you must use the most ancient, most simple, and most basic ways of improving yourselves – through exercising your bodies, and building up your strength! Am I clear?!”

    Hillman swept the group of children with his gaze.

    “Understood.” The voices of the children replied brightly in unison.

    “Good.” Satisfied, Hillman coldly nodded. The eyes of the six year old children displayed their confusion, while the eyes of the teenagers became very determined. They understood the meaning behind Hillman’s words.

    Virtually every male in the Yulan continent would exercise very hard from a very young age. If anyone slacked off, in the future, they would be looked down upon by others! Money and power – these were the things that determined a man’s status! A man without power would be looked down upon even by women.

    If one wanted their parents to be proud of them, wanted women to worship them, wanted to live a glorious life?

    Then they must become powerful warriors!

    All of them were commoners. None of them would have access to any of those precious manuals which taught the arts of cultivating battle qi. Their only road to glory was through exercising from a young age, and gathering strength! Bitterly hard work! They would work harder than those nobles, spend more of their energy and blood in strengthening themselves!

    “When the sun rises in the morning, all things begin to thrive. This is the best time to absorb the natural energy from your surroundings and improve the conditioning of our bodies. Same rules as always – Legs spread apart, as wide as your shoulders! Both knees bent slightly, both hands pressed down at the waist. Assume the ‘Qi Building Stance’. When assuming this stance, remember – ‘Focus your concentration, maintain a calm mind, and breath naturally.’” Hillman coldly instructed.

    The ‘Qi Building Stance’ was the most simple, yet most effective way of exercising one’s body. This was based off of the experiences of generations of forefathers.

    Immediately the nearly two hundred children assumed the ‘Qi Building Stance’ position.

    “Remember, focus your concentration, maintain a calm mind, and breath naturally!” Hillman said coldly as he walked amidst the children.

    At a glance, he could tell that the teenagers in the southern group all were maintaining the stance calmly and breathed naturally. At the same time, all of them attained the goals of being stable and steady in their stance. Clearly, they had attained some degree of proficiency in the ‘Qi Building Stance.’

    But glancing at the northernmost group of children, with their waists and knees crooked at odd degrees, their legs relaxed and loose, it was clear to Hillman that they were standing unstably and without any power.

    Hillman said to the two other middle aged men, “The two of you, take charge of the south group and the middle group. I will go take care of the youngest children.”

    “Yes, Captain.” The two middle aged men immediately obeyed, paying close attention to those two groups. Every so often, they would kick the legs of those teenagers, checking to see who was standing firmly and who was not.

    Hillman walked towards the northern group of children. Those children immediately became nervous.

    “Crap, the Head Monster is coming!” A golden-haired child with large, bright eyes named Hadley (Ha’de’li) said in a low voice.

    Hillman strode into the midst of the children. Staring at them, his face was cold, but in his heart, he was sighing. “These kids are just too young. They are just too lacking in both wisdom and strength. I can’t demand too much from them. However, it’s still good to get them exercising from a young age. If they work hard from a young age, in the future, when they are on the battlefield, they will have a higher chance of survival.”

    And to teach young children…getting them interested was the most effective way! If he forced them too hard, it would have the opposite effect!

    “All of you, stand firm!” Hillman coldly harrumphed.

    Immediately, all of the children straightened, sticking out their chests and staring straight ahead.

    A hint of a smile played at Hillman’s lips. He then moved to the front and took off his shirt. The lines running across the powerful muscles on his body made the eyes pop out of all of the kids. Even the children in the middle group and southern group couldn’t help but stare at him, admiring his physique.

    Aside from his perfect musculature, on Hillman’s bare upper body, there were countless knife scars, sword scars, and dozens of other old wounds. All of the children stared at those wounds, their eyes shining.

    Knife scars. Sword scars. These were a man’s medals!

    In their hearts, they were filled with veneration towards Hillman. Hillman, a mighty warrior of the sixth rank, a warrior birthed from life and death struggles! Even in large cities, he would be an amazing individual. In the tiny town of Wushan, he was a man who every single person venerated.

    Seeing the ardent gazes of the children, Hillman couldn’t help but let a slight smile escape. He wanted to stir up a feeling of worshipfulness in the children, a desire to be like him. That way, they would work harder and be more motivated!

    “Let’s add some more fuel to the fire!” Hillman secretly grinned, then walked in front of a giant boulder, which weighed three or four hundred pounds.

    With one hand, Hillman grabbed the boulder. In a very relaxed manner, he began brandishing it about. That three hundred pound boulder, in Hillman’s hands, seemed to be as light as wood. All of those children’s jaws dropped, and their eyes widened.

    “Too light! Lorry (Luo’rui), if you have some free time after training, go and get some larger boulders for me.” With a casual toss, Hillman sent the boulder flying several dozen meters. Crash! It smote the ground next to a large tree, and the entire ground trembled. Hillman casually walked in front of some random stones.

    “Hah!”

    Hillman breathed deeply. All of the veins on his muscular body popped out prominently, as Hillman directly struck at a nearby bluish boulder. His fist shattered the air, creating a howling sound that made all of the watching children widen their eyes even further. Hillman’s mighty fist smashed directly onto the boulder.

    Crash! The sound of the fist smashing into the boulder made the hearts of all the children tremble.

    That was an extremely hard bluestone boulder!

    The bluestone boulder trembled. Suddenly, six or seven giant cracks appeared on it, as with a ‘peng’ sound, it split into four or five pieces. But on Hillman’s fist, not the slightest injury could be seen.

    “The Captain is as formidable as ever.” Lorry, one of the two other middle-aged men, laughed, as Hillman walked back towards them.

    The other man, Roger (Luo’jie), also walked over. Usually, when the children practiced the ‘Qi Building Stance’, it was time for the three of them to relax and freely chat, while paying attention to any child who decided to slack off.

    Hillman laughed as he shook his head. “No way. In the past, when I was in the army, every day I would train like crazy, while on the battlefield, I engage in bloody close combat. Nowadays, all I’m doing is relaxing and stretching my muscles a bit in the morning. I’m not filled with as much energy as in the past.”

    All of the children stared worshipfully at Hillman.

    That huge bluestone boulder was shattered by a single blow from his fist. What sort of power was this? And that three or four hundred pound boulder was so easily tossed with a flick of the arm. What sort of power was this?

    Hillman turned his head. Staring at the children, he was very satisfied with the children’s reactions.

    “Remember, even if you aren’t able to cultivate battle qi, in principle, if you reach your body’s fullest potential, you can still become a warrior of the sixth rank! And a sixth ranked warrior, upon entering the army, can easily become a mid-level officer, and easily obtain the military manuals which teach one how to cultivate battle qi! Even if you cannot become a warrior of the sixth rank, and can only become a common warrior of the first rank, you will still be qualified to enter the military. Remember! If a man isn’t able to become even a warrior of the first rank, that man can’t be considered a man at all!”

    “If you are a man, then you must raise your chest high, welcome any and all challenges, and fear nothing!”

    Upon hearing these words, smiles appeared on the faces of all the six and seven year olds. All of them forced themselves to remain expressionless. These words were Hillman’s often-repeated mantra, and he repeated these words endlessly to the children.

    “All of you, stand straight. Look at your elders to the south, then look at how you are standing!” Hillman censured them.

    All of the six year olds immediately tried to adjust their stance to be more stable.

    After a while, the six and seven year olds began to wobble. All of the kids felt that their legs were cramping fiercely, but they gritted their teeth. But after holding out for a short period of time, the children began to collapse and sit on the ground, one after the other.

    Hillman’s face was cold and callous, but in his heart, he secretly nodded. He was still very satisfied with the performance of these six and seven year olds.

    After a short period of time, some of the ten year olds in the middle group also could no longer hold out, and one by one, they began to fall as well.

    “Hold out for as long as you can. I won’t force you. But if in the future, you are weaker than your peers, then you’ll have no one to blame than yourselves.” Hillman coldly said.

    “Hmm?” Lorry suddenly stared, astonished, at the northern group.

    At this point in time, many of the kids in the middle group had fallen down, but in the northern group, a six year old child had held strong.

    “This must be Linley’s [Lin’lei] first day at training. Who would’ve thought he’d be so formidable?” Lorry said, amazed. Next time him, Roger and Hillman also noticed. Looking in that direction, they saw that to the north, a single brown haired boy was still holding firm. His lips tightened, the boy stared determinedly in front, both fists tightly clenched so hard that his fists were white.

    A look of pleased surprise appeared in Hillman’s eyes.

    “Good kid!” Hillman secretly praised. Despite being just six years old, he could maintain the ‘Qi Building Stance’ for as long as the ten year old kids.

    Linley, full name Linley Baruch, was the eldest son and heir to the Baruch clan, which ruled over the Wushan town. The Baruch clan was an extremely old clan. Once, it was extremely prosperous, but after thousands of years, it had only three members remaining. The clan leader, Hogg [Huo’ge] Baruch, and his two sons. The elder son was Linley Baruch, six years old. The younger son, Wharton [Wo’dun] Baruch, was just two years old. As for his wife, when she gave birth to the younger son, she died in the midst of childbirth. Linley’s grandfather also was dead, having lost his life in battle.

    Linley’s legs were trembling. Although his willpower was strong, his leg muscles were strained to their utmost and were beginning to tremble uncontrollably. He finally collapsed and sat down.

    “Linley, how do you feel?” Smiling, Hillman walked towards him.

    Linley cracked a smile, revealing his small canines. “I’m fine, Uncle Hillman.” As captain of the Baruch clan’s guardsmen, Hillman had watched Linley grow up. Naturally, the two of them were very close.

    “Well done. You acted like a man.” Hillman patted Linley on the head. Immediately, the hair on Linley’s head became tousled like windblown grass.

    “Haha.” Linley grinned widely. In his heart, he felt very happy at being praised by Hillman.

    After resting for a while, they continued their exercises. The training regime for the six and seven year olds was a lot more relaxed. But for the teenagers, the training regime was terrifyingly strict.

    The large group of children, including the six and seven year olds, were lying down with their heads and their feet each on top of a flat rock, relying solely on the strength in their waists to keep straight.

    “The waist and the thighs form a triangular region.” Hillman gestured with his hands to show the area he was describing. “This area is a person’s nucleus. Speed and power all come from this triangular nucleus, making this region extremely important.”

    As Hillman spoke, he continued to walk about, carefully inspecting the youths to see if their movements were correct.

    “Tighten that up! Your waists need to be straight!” Hillman thundered.

    Immediately, the waists of many youths straightened. This was Linley’s first day of training. His tiny head and his feet were both flat on the rocks, but by this point in time, Linley could already feel his waist growing tight and hot.

    “Hold, gotta hold. I’m the best!” Linley kept encouraging himself. Linley’s body had always been very strong, even as a baby. He had virtually never gotten sick. Given that he also worked very hard, for him to excel was nothing special.

    “Thud!” The first child fell down.

    However, the stones they were using as a pillow and footrest were only twenty centimeters high, so although the child fell down, it didn’t hurt much. (In the Yulan continent, the goldsmiths used standardized lengths of 1 meter = 10 decimeters = 100 centimeters = 1000 millimeters.)

    “Thud!” “Thud!” As time went on, more and more children could no longer hold out.

    Linley gritted his teeth. He could clearly feel that the tightness in his waist had already reached the limits of his endurance, to the point where it was almost going numb. “My body feels so heavy. I’m almost unable to control it. Hold, gotta hold for just a bit more.” By this point in time, of the six to eight year olds, only Linley remained.

    Staring at Linley, Hillman couldn’t help but be filled with surprise and joy.

    “Lorry.” Hillman suddenly shouted.

    “Captain.” Lorry immediately straightened, awaiting his orders.

    Hillman commanded, “Tomorrow, prepare some special dyes. When they are practicing their waist strength, put a branch under all of their waists, and dye the branches. If any of them slack off and let their waists touch the branch, their body will be dyed as well. Their training regime will double in difficulty.”

    “Yes, Captain.” Lorry acknowledged the order. He couldn’t help but let his lips tug up in a smile. He secretly laughed, “The Captain is always filled with so many devilish ideas. Those punks are really gonna get it now.”

    Wasn’t that just so?

    Looks of pain appeared on the faces of all the ten year olds. Normally, they could still make slight adjustments and slack off. But with Hillman’s idea, they would have no chance to do so.

    Hillman continued coldly, “Let me tell you all, when a warrior practices his battle qi, the battle qi is stored in a fist-sized location directly beneath the navel. You should understand that this is part of the triangle I was talking about. I expect you all now should understand the importance of strengthening the triangle region! This is your core. If it fails, then your body fails, no matter how strong the other parts of it might be.”

    A good instructor is of paramount importance to the children.

    And Hillman really was a formidable warrior. He knew the important parts of training, and also knew how to increase the difficulty one step at a time. He knew what sort of tools to use with what ages. If it was too hard, it could make a child’s body collapse.

    “Battle qi?”

    Upon hearing these words, all of the youths, including the youngest children resting off to the side, stared at Hillman with wide eyes.

    All of the commoners were extremely eager to learn battle qi. Even Linley, this scion of a noble house, was extremely eager.

    “Thud!”

    Linley could finally hold out no longer, but he still used his arms to prop himself on the ground as he slowly rolled off.

    “That feels good!” Linley could feel that his waist felt a numbness which pierced through to the bone, so comfortable that his eyes crinkled slightly.

    “How long was I able to hold out?” Linley opened his eyes wide, looking around him.

    All of the six year olds had collapsed. Even half the ten year olds had collapsed as well. All of the fourteen year olds, however, held on. Hillman’s face remained as cold as ever.

    “All of you must remember. Your body is like a vessel, like a wineglass. Battle qi is like the wine! The amount of wine a vessel can hold is dependent on the size of the vessel. Same goes for the body; a person’s ability to practice battle qi is based on the extent of his training. If his body is too weak, even if he gains access to powerful battle qi manuals, his body won’t be able to hold much battle qi, and he still won’t become a powerful warrior.” Hillman imparted many important bits of advice to the children.

    Many warriors, due to not having received proper guidance in their youth, only understood the connection between battle qi and body strength much later in life. But by that age, there wouldn’t be much progress when they trained.

    Many forefathers had gone on many wrong paths and gained much experience. Hillman continued to impart these experiences, like the spring wind imparting life-giving rain, deeply etching these important experiences in the minds of these children. Hillman didn’t want these children to go on wrong paths as well.

    After practicing the ‘Qi Building Stance’, the waist, back, thighs, shoulders, and other parts of the body would be harmonized. Now, almost all of the children were sitting, relaxed, on the ground. Hillman’s training program was nearly perfect in the difficulty levels he assessed on each age group.

    “Today’s training ends now,” Hillman announced.

    Wushan town’s training regimes were regulated. Every day, it happened twice, once at dawn, and once at dusk.

    “Uncle Hillman, tell us some stories!” As training ended, the children immediately began to call out. Every day, after the dawn lessons, Hillman would tell them stories of his army days, or some events which had happened on the continent.

    The children, all of whom had lived in the town their entire lives, thirsted for stories about the military.

    Hillman smiled. He enjoyed telling stories to the children. This was a way to make the kids eager to train. Hillman had always felt that only by making the children voluntarily train would the children have great results.

    “Today, I will tell you about the legendary Four Supreme Warrior bloodlines which everyone in the continent knows about.” A look of awe appeared on Hillman’s face.

    The children’s ears immediately perked up, and their eyes brightened. Linley, sitting on the ground, felt his heart thump furiously. “The legendary Four Supreme Warriors?” Linley’s ears couldn’t help but perk up as well, as he stared unblinkingly at Hillman.

    In Hillman’s eyes appeared a hint of excitement. His voice, however, remained calm. “On our continent, thousands of years ago, there appeared four powerful Supreme Warriors. All four of these Supreme Warriors possessed power comparable to an enormous dragon. They could wander amidst an army of millions at leisure, and easily take the head of any general! These Supreme Warriors were known as the Dragonblood Warrior, the Violetflame Warrior, the Tigerstriped Warrior, and the Undying Warrior!”

    “Warriors are divided into nine ranks. I, a mere warrior of the sixth rank, can easily shatter boulders and kick down a large tree! But a ninth rank warrior, even within our country of Fenlai, would be considered a top level expert. But above the ninth rank warriors are the Four Supreme Warriors. They have surpassed the ninth rank warriors and can be considered the pinnacle of warriors. They belong to the level of legendary Saint-level warriors!” Hillman’s eyes were filled with excitement. “The legendary Saint-level warriors can melt giant icebergs, make the boundless sea roar with angry waves, make tall mountains crumble, make cities with millions of people collapse, and make meteors fall from the sky! They are absolutely undefeatable, the highest possible power.”

    Silence. All of the children were stunned.

    Hillman pointed at a mountain to the northeast.

    “Look at Wushan. Isn’t it huge?” Hillman smiled.

    After hearing Hillman’s words, many of the kids had been scared silly. They all immediately nodded. Wushan was over a thousand meters high, and thousands of meters in circumference. In the eyes of men, it would definitely be considered a huge mountain.

    “But Saint-level combatants can destroy Wushan in the blink of an eye.” Hillman said firmly.

    A sixth-ranked warrior can only smash a boulder. But a Saint-level warrior can smash an entire mountain! All of the children’s mouths dropped, and their eyes widened. All of them were shocked, and their hearts were suddenly filled with an unspeakable dread towards these Saint-level combatants. But, their hearts were also filled with longing.

    “Destroy a mountain?” Hillman’s words had a huge impact on Linley.

    After a short period of time, the stunned children returned to their homes. Hillman, Roger, and Lorry were the last to leave. Watching the children depart in clusters of three or five, a smile appeared on Hillman’s face.

    “These children are the hope and future of Wushan,” Hillman said with a smile.

    Roger and Lorry also gazed at the group of children. On the continent, virtually all of the children of commoners had to train hard from an early age. Seeing the kids, Roger and Lorry reminisced back to their own youth.

    “Captain Hillman, you are definitely much more formidable than ole Potter of bygone years. Under your guidance, I believe that Wushan town will become the strongest town in our region, surpassing the other ten or so towns,” Lorry said with a smile.

    The strength of a teacher determined a place’s future.

    “Oh, Captain, how do you know about the power of Saint-level warriors, or the Four Supreme Warriors?” Lorry suddenly remembered to ask.

    Slightly embarrassed, Hillman grinned, “Well, um, actually, I’m not too clear about exactly how powerful the Four Supreme Warriors are. After all, they are the stuff of legends. It’s been years since any were seen.”

    Lorry and Roger were astonished. “You don’t have any idea, and yet you lied to the kids?”

    Hillman smiled slightly. “Although I’m not clear about the exact strength of the Four Supreme Warriors, I know this – a Saint-level mage maestro, which is to say a mage which has attained the Saint-level, can execute forbidden magical techniques and eradicate an entire army of tens of thousands, or an entire city. Since Saint-level mages are so powerful, I expect that Saint-level warriors can’t be that much weaker.”

    “More importantly, the reason I told the children these stories was to make them work harder. Couldn’t you tell how amazed those children were after hearing the stories?” Hillman smiled delightedly.

    Lorry and Roger were both speechless.

    …..

    “See ya later, ‘Ley!”

    “See ya, Hadley!”

    Bidding farewell to his good friend Hadley, Linley went back, alone, to his home. After walking for a while, he saw the Baruch estates.

    The amount of land the Baruch manor was built upon was actually quite large. Moss was growing on the walls, and all sorts of ivy creepers twined up the walls as well. The scars of time were very apparent on the walls. The Baruch manor located in Wushan town was the ancestral home of the Baruch clan. An ancestral home which had existed for over five thousand years and endured countless renovations continued to stand here.

    But, with the decline in the clan’s fortunes, the Baruch clan’s finances had taken a turn for the worse as well. Towards the end, it could only consume its previous gains. Over a hundred years ago, the then-leader of the Baruch clan determined that all the members of the clan would live in the front courtyard, which took up a third of the space of the manor. The rest of the manor would no longer be maintained. That way, a great deal of money could be saved.

    But despite these measures, by this period in time, Linley’s father, Hogg Baruch, still needed to sell off family possessions in order to keep the family afloat.

    The towering doors to the manor were open.

    “Saint-level warriors?” While walking, Linley was still thinking about that. “In the future, will I be able to become a Saint-level warrior?”

    “Linley.” Hillman’s voice sounded from behind him. Hillman, Roger, and Lorry had finally caught up to him.

    Linley turned around and immediately said happily, “Uncle Hillman!”

    Following this, Linley sucked in a deep breath. Raising his head to look at Hillman, his voice filled with eagerness, he said, “Uncle Hillman, are Saint-level warriors really that powerful? Then what about me? Is it possible that I will become a Saint-level warrior?” In Linley’s heart, there was a desire which all children possess.

    Hillman was stunned. Besides him, Roger and Lorry were also speechless.

    A Saint-level warrior?

    “This kid really has the daring to dream big. The country of Fenlai has millions of citizens, but even so, after countless centuries, it hasn’t produced a single Saint-level warrior. To want to become a Saint-level warrior…” In Hillman’s mind, he fully understood how difficult it was to become a Saint-level warrior.

    It required someone to work extremely hard from a young age, the support of a noble clan, and also a high amount of natural talent. It also required luck. How could it be easy to become a Saint-level warrior?

    Hillman knew quite well how much he himself had to suffer in order to become a sixth-ranked warrior, and how many life-and-death battles he had to experience. Even a warrior of the sixth rank was very difficult to become. A seventh, eighth, and ninth ranked warrior was of course only harder. As for a Saint-level warrior? Even in his dreams, Hillman didn’t dare imagine himself as one.

    But he was facing Linley’s earnest gaze.

    “Linley, Uncle Hillman has faith in you. I’m sure you’ll become a Saint-level warrior.” Staring at Linley, Hillman spoke firmly. These words of encouragement caused Linley’s eyes to shine. In Linley’s heart, as well, a desire arose.

    A desire which had never been so ardent!

    “Uncle Hillman, from tomorrow onwards, can I participate in the training sessions with the ten year olds?” Linley suddenly asked.

    Hillman, Roger, and Lorry all stared at Linley in surprise.

    “My lord father always told me, if you want to become a man without peer, then you must work harder than other men.” Linley unconsciously mimicked his father’s manner of speech.

    Hillman suddenly smiled. He had seen the results of Linley’s training today. Although Linley was only six, his body conditioning could compare with nine year olds. He immediately nodded, smiling. “Fine. However, you’d best not slack off. You’d best realize that this isn’t a one day or two day commitment. This will be a long-term regime.”

    Linley raised his small head proudly. Self-confidently, he smiled. “Uncle Hillman, you just wait and see.”

    This was a very normal morning for Wushan town. Afterwards, every morning was the same as this one. The group of Wushan youths would follow Hillman, warrior of the sixth rank, and train hard under his guidance. The only difference was, the six year old Linley was placed in the central squad of ten year olds.

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    • #3
      Book 1, Chapter 2

      Previous ChapterNext Chapter

      Book 1, Chapter 2 – The Dragonblood Warrior Clan (part one)

      In the blink of an eye, another half year had passed. Training hard and strengthening his body, Linley passed through the gentle, warm spring, the blazing summer, and the chilly autumn. The white poplar tree next to the empty training field of Wushan would always scatter some dried leaves onto the ground whenever the wind blew. The leaves slowly whirled down, covering the entire training ground.

      The sky had slowly grown dark.

      Today, there was an exceptionally large number of people on the training grounds, nearly three hundred.

      “Today’s evening training session ends now.” Hillman smiled. “Before leaving, however, everyone needs to first congratulate this next crop of children who are about to leave Wushan and join the army.”

      With autumn’s end came the season of military recruitment. With the entire continent engaged in an age of warfare, every youngster viewed becoming a mighty warrior as a badge of honor. Naturally, there were also those who wished to become mages, but becoming a mage is an extremely difficult task. Perhaps only one person in ten thousand had the necessary qualifications to become a mage. With such a low probability, the average person wouldn’t even consider it.

      Becoming a warrior was much easier. Upon turning sixteen, as long as they were at least warriors of the first rank, they could easily enter the army.

      “Uncle Hillman, thank you!”

      A hundred and twenty six children, all age seventeen, respectfully bowed towards Hillman. These youngsters normally did not attend training. They had all become adults, and had their own jobs to do. But since they had all been trained by Hillman since they were toddlers, they all considered Hillman to have been their benevolent master.

      Before joining the army, they all came here to say farewell to Hillman.

      Staring at this group of energetic, eager seventeen year olds, Hillman was filled with countless mixed feelings. This was because Hillman knew that all of these children were eager to join the army, but after ten years of military service, how many of them would come back alive?

      “I hope at least half of these hundred and twenty six will be able to return alive,” Hillman prayed silently.

      Hillman stared at the children, and said in a clear voice, “Brats, listen up! You are all men of Wushan town. The men of Wushan town must straighten their chests and welcome any challenges, and accept no fear. Am I understood?”

      All of those seventeen year old youths straightened their chest, their bodies ramrod straight. Their eyes filled with a hot ardor for military life, they all responded in loud unison, “Understood!”

      “Good!” Hillman stood ramrod straight as well. His cold gaze was filled with a military aura.

      “Tomorrow, all of you will depart. Tonight, prepare well. I know how strong all of you are. All of you will be able to easily enter the army! I, Hillman, will wait here for all of you to make your glorious return to Wushan town!” Hillman said in a bright voice.

      The eyes of those youths shone bright.

      Returning home with honor. This was the dream of every youth.

      “Now, I order all of you, go home immediately and begin your preparations. Disperse!” Hillman said in a cold, fierce voice.

      “Yes sir!”

      A hundred and twenty six youths respectfully saluted, and then departed. They were followed by the worshipful gazes of the nearly two hundred youths that remained. Tomorrow, they would begin a brand new journey.

      “I have two more years. When I become of age, I also want to join the army.”

      “I really want to live the exciting, heart-throbbing life of a soldier. If I had to live here for my entire life, in Wushan town, even if I lived forever, it would be pointless.”

      …..

      A group of thirteen year olds chatted amongst each other. All of them longed for that exciting life, a life filled with vigor. All of them wanted to accumulate merits and establish a reputation. They wanted to be adored by the girls and the esteem of their relatives.

      This was their dream!

      “Linley, your father, Lord Hogg, has some extremely important business with you. Don’t go off playing with the other kids. Come home with me.” Hillman walked to Linley’s side. Gazing at him, Hillman felt very proud.

      Linley was exceedingly smart. Under the tutelage of his father, Hogg, since a young age, he had learned many words and could read most books.

      Reading was a very luxurious thing. Usually, only the scions of noble houses could read. The Baruch clan was an extremely old clan, and it held a large number of books.

      “Uncle Hillman, I know already. My lord father already reminded me three times. My lord father has never been so insistent about anything. I won’t go off and play.” Linley grinned, revealing his pearly white teeth, perfect but for the fact that one was missing.

      Linley was already beginning to grow permanent teeth.

      “That’s enough. You are missing one of your front teeth. When you smile, you let the wind in.” Hillman laughed. “Go, go home.”

      …..

      In the ancient front courtyard of the Baruch manor, after the family finished dinner, Linley was playing around with his younger brother.

      “Big brother, hug, hug!”

      Little Wharton was staring at Linley with a look of pure, simple love. Walking unsteadily, he extended a small, pudgy hand towards Linley, trying to hug him. Linley stood not too far away, quietly waiting for little Wharton to reach him.

      “Wharton, you can do it!” Linley encouraged him.

      Little Wharton’s wobbly footsteps made people fear he would fall with each step. But in the end, little Wharton managed to rush into his big brother’s embrace. His smooth skin, as soft as water, was slightly pink. His big round eyes stared at his elder brother, and in a baby voice, he said, “Big brother, big brother.”

      Looking at his baby brother, Linley’s heart was filled with a boundless warmth and love.

      No mother, no grandparents. Although he had his father and the family caretaker to take care of him, Linley, who had matured early, was extremely loving and protective towards his little brother. In Linley’s eyes, as the big brother, it was his job to take care of his little brother.

      “Wharton, what did you learn today?” Linley asked, smiling.

      Wharton frowned, an extremely cute expression. After pondering, he excitedly said, “Today I learned about using rags!”

      “Rags?” Linley’s face revealed an uncontrollable smile. “What did you wipe?”

      Counting on his fingers, little Wharton said, “First I used the rags to wipe the floors, then the toilet chamber pots, and lastly I wiped….wiped….right, I wiped the plates!” He looked excitedly at Linley, awaiting Linley’s praise.

      “You wiped the chamber pots, and then wiped the plates?” Linley’s eyes were huge.

      “What, did I do it wrong? I really wiped them clean.” In little Wharton’s tiny head, his eyes were filled with an uncomprehending look as he stared at his big brother.

      “Young master Linley, your father is looking for you. Let me carry young master Wharton.” A brandy-nosed old man walked over. This brandy-nosed old man was the Baruch clan’s housekeeper, Hiri (Xi’li). In the entire manor, aside from the housekeeper, there wasn’t even a serving girl.

      Linley no longer had any time to chat with Wharton. He immediately handed Wharton over to Grandpa Hiri, and went towards the guest hall.

      “I wonder why father summoned me?” Although he was young, Linley could sense that this time, his father had called him for something important.

      Entering the guest hall, in one corner there was a desk clock that was higher than Linley was tall.

      This desk clock can be considered a high quality object. Generally, only wealthy or noble families had such a clock. At this moment, Linley’s father was seated next to the fireplace. The flames in the fireplace burned, constantly crackling and popping.

      “Um? Why did father change his clothes?” Seeing his father, Linley was filled with astonishment. While at home, his father normally wore only very simple clothes. Just then, while eating dinner, his father wore normal clothes. But now, he had switched to a set of very noble, beautiful apparel.

      Hogg’s entire body emanated an ancient, noble aura. That aura wasn’t the sort that money could buy. It was something which an ancient noble clan cultivated in its heirs. A clan which had survived for five thousand years. How could an ordinary noble clan compare?

      Hogg stood up. Turning around, when he saw Linley, his eyes lit up.

      “Linley, come with me. Let’s go to the ancestral hall. Uncle Hiri, you know about the matters of my clan, so you can come as well.” Hogg smiled.

      “The ancestral hall?” Linley was astonished.

      The members of the Baruch clan only stayed in the front side of the manor. The areas in the far back, virtually no one went there to clean. Only the ancestral hall in the back did they ever visit, once a month, to clean.

      “But this isn’t the time to sacrifice to our ancestors. Why are we going to the ancestral hall?” Linley had a belly full of questions.

      Exiting the guest hall, Hogg, Linley, and Uncle Hiri, who still held Wharton, followed the blue stone path towards the back manor.

      Deep autumn. The night was as cold as water.

      The cold wind blowing, Linley couldn’t help but shiver. But Linley didn’t make a sound, because he could feel that something was different today. Following his father, Linley entered the ancestral hall as well.

      “Clack.” The door to the ancestral hall closed.

      With the candles in the hall becoming lit, the entire hall immediately became very bright. Linley could instantly see the many spirit tablets placed in the very front of the hall. That thick, dense cluster of spirit tablets spoke volumes as to the age of the Baruch clan.

      Hogg quietly stood in front of the spirit tablets, not saying a word.

      Linley felt very nervous. In the entire hall, aside from the sounds of the whispering candles, no sound was heard. The quiet was terrifying, creating an oppressive feeling on the heart.

      Suddenly, Hogg turned and focused his gaze on Linley. In a weighty voice, he said, “Linley, today, there are many things that must be done. But first, let me tell you some of the history of our Baruch clan.”

      Linley could feel his heart thumping frantically.

      “Our clan’s history? What can it be?” In his heart, Linley was eager to know, but he didn’t dare to make a sound.

      A look of pride appearing on his face, Hogg said in a clear voice, “Linley, our Baruch clan has existed for five thousand years. Even scanning the entire Kingdom of Fenlai, I don’t believe we can find a second clan which is as ancient as ours.” Hogg’s voice contained an absolute pride.

      Ancient. This was a word which some noble clans viewed with great importance.

      “Linley, have you heard of the legendary Four Supreme Warriors of the Yulan continent?” Turning his head, Hogg looked at Linley.

      Eyes brightening, Linley nodded. “I know. According to Uncle Hillman, the legendary Four Supreme Warriors are the Dragonblood Warrior, the Violetflame Warrior, the Tigerstriped Warrior, and the Undying Warrior.”

      Satisfied, Hogg nodded. Smiling, he said, “Right! Now, I am going to tell you something. The Four Supreme Warriors actually represent four ancient clans. And our Baruch clan is the ancient clan which contains the exalted bloodline of the Dragonblood Warriors!”

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      • #4
        Book 1, Chapter 3

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        Book 1, Chapter 3 – The Dragonblood Warrior Clan (part two)

        “The Dragonblood Warrior Clan?!” Linley felt as though his entire head was buzzing.

        In Linley’s eyes, his clan was nothing more than just an ancient clan which had fallen on hard times. How could it be related to the legendary Dragonblood Warrior?

        “You don’t believe me?” A trace of arrogance could be seen on Hogg’s face. “Linley, go up and take a close look at those spirit tablets. By now, you can read all the words on them. On the back of every single spirit tablet is the history of those departed forefathers. The three spirit tablets at the very top, are three who are Dragonblood Warriors!”

        Hogg took Linley by the hand. “Come.”

        Hogg led Linley towards the area behind the many spirit tablets. Lifting him up, Hogg said, “Take a close look at those characters behind.”

        Linley widened his eyes and began to read.

        The words carved onto the uppermost tablet were etched very deep and very clearly. Those five thousand year old characters told of an astonishing story!

        “Baruch, the very first Dragonblood Warrior of the Yulan continent. In the year 4560 of the Yulan calendar, outside the walls of the city of Linnan, Baruch did battle against a Black Dragon and a Titanic Frost Wyrm. In the end, he slew both the Titanic Frost Wyrm and the Black Dragon, causing his fame to be spread across the world. In the year 4579 of the Yulan calendar, along the coastline of the northern sea of the continent, Baruch did battle against a Nine-Headed Serpent Emperor. On that day, the waves crashed unceasingly and nearby cities crumbled, but after a vicious fight lasting a full day and night, Baruch finally executed the Nine-Headed Serpent Emperor….finally, Baruch founded the Baruch clan, and became the first leader of the Baruch clan!”

        “Ryan [Rui’en] Baruch, the second Dragonblood Warrior of the Yulan continent. In the year 4690 of the Yulan calendar, in the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, he defeated and subdued a Saint-level Golden Dragon, and became known as the Golden Dragonrider Saint! In the year 4697…”

        “Hazard [Ha’ze’de] Baruch, the third Dragonblood Warrior of the Yulan continent. Born in the year 5360 of the Yulan calendar, in his very first battle, he fought fiercely with a Saint-level Bloody-eyed Maned Lion in the Mountain Range of the Setting Sun. He defeated the lion, forcing it to scurry away and flee, causing Hazard to become famous throughout the world…”

        ….

        One mighty name after another, one amazing story after another, made the blood in Linley’s veins pump all the more vigorously.

        “My clan, is actually the clan of the Dragonblood Warriors?” Linley was extremely excited.

        Beside him, Hogg said in a low voice, “The first three generations of the Baruch family were all Dragonblood Warriors. Upon becoming a Dragonblood Warrior, one’s life expectancy would dramatically increase. The second generation Dragonblood Warrior didn’t get married or have children until after he was seven hundred years old.”

        “And afterwards?” Linley wondered. “Father, why doesn’t our clan have any more Dragonblood Warriors?”

        Hogg nodded. “To become a Dragonblood Warrior, the most important thing is the density and thickness of the dragonblood which flows in our veins. The higher the density, the better. After many generations, the density of the dragonblood in our veins has grown thinner and thinner. However…that isn’t an absolute. Because as time goes on, sometimes, out of nowhere, a descendant will possess a very high density of dragonblood.”

        “After Hazard Baruch, the fourth Dragonblood Warrior appeared, nearly a thousand years later. And then, after fifteen hundred years passed, which is to say tens of generations later, the fifth Dragonblood Warrior finally appeared in our clan. But in the thousand years from then until now, not a single Dragonblood Warrior has shown up.”

        Hogg shook his head and sighed. “The fifth Dragonblood Warrior only stayed on the Yulan continent for around two centuries, before he disappeared. In the thousand years since then, our Baruch clan has totally decayed.”

        After a thousand years, even the most illustrious of families could decay.

        “However, our clan still has hope. Perhaps in the future, one of our descendants will have the requisite density of dragonblood in their veins, and meet the requirements to become a Dragonblood Warrior. If they meet the requirements, after just a few decades of training, they would be able to become a true, full Dragonblood Warrior. And at that time, the Baruch clan would once more be restored to the glorious days of yore, when we were known as the Dragonblood Warrior Clan!” Hogg’s eyes shone. “Linley, you are six and a half now. According to our rules, at your age, the test to see if your blood has a high density of dragonblood will be fairly accurate. Today, I am going to test you.”

        Linley was stunned. “Testing the density of dragonblood in my veins? Test me?” Linley fully understood the implications of his father performing this test. This test would show whether or not he met the requirements for becoming a Dragonblood Warrior.

        “Linley, wait here. I’ll go get the ‘Dragonblood Needle’.” Hogg clearly was very excited, as he immediately departed the ancestral hall for a nearby private room.

        “Dragonblood Warrior? Will I really become a Dragonblood Warrior?” Linley was mentally fidgeting.

        Standing there, Linley’s mind was a confused mess. He was filled with both eagerness and fear. He feared that the density of dragonblood in his veins wasn’t high enough.

        “If I fail, I guess father will be extremely disappointed.” Linley couldn’t help but think. Having grown up with his father and his younger brother, Linley didn’t want to disappoint his father. But the density of dragonblood in his veins wasn’t something he could decide.

        After just a short period of time, Hogg returned with a twenty-centimeter long needle that was extremely thin as he walked out from the private room.

        “Dragonblood Needle?” Linley guessed, as he stared at the long needle in his father’s hands.

        “Alright, Linley. This needle will just barely break the skin when it goes in. It won’t hurt at all. Stretch out your hand.” Hogg smiled, and Linley nodded. Taking a deep breath, Linley stretched out his right arm. The slight trembling in his arm showed that Linley really was very nervous.

        Not just Linley. To tell the truth, even Hogg was very nervous.

        “Hold it.” Holding the translucent Dragonblood Needle, Hogg lightly pricked Linley’s ring finger with it, easily piercing the skin. Linley felt a piercing pain, and the translucent needle immediately turned crimson as well.

        Hands shaking, Hogg immediately lifted the Dragonblood Needle up and inspected it carefully.

        Raising his head, Linley stared at his father, feeling extremely agitated. “Is the density of dragonblood in my veins sufficient? Why has father stared at the Dragonblood Needle for so long?” Linley had a bad premonition…

        “Sigh…” with an exhaled breath, Hogg placed the Dragonblood Needle off to one side.

        Hearing his father’s sigh, the nervous Linley knew that the density of dragonblood in his veins clearly didn’t reach the required level. His tears immediately began to flow.

        “Linley, why are you crying? Don’t cry, be good, don’t cry.” Hogg immediately hugged Linley. Seeing Linley cry, Hogg felt sick at heart. After all, Linley was still just six and a half. He was just a child.

        “I won’t cry. Yeah. Won’t cry.” Linley sniffled twice, then forced himself to calm down. “Father, I’m sorry. I’ve let you down.”

        Hearing Linley’s words, Hogg felt a warm feeling in his heart. He couldn’t help but hold Linley against his bosom. “Linley, don’t feel bad. I actually didn’t raise my hopes too high. Over a thousand years and tens of generations, no one has become a Dragonblood Warrior. It doesn’t matter that you also failed. Father doesn’t blame you.”

        Feeling the warmth of his father’s chest, Linley’s tightened chest gradually loosened.

        By this point, the two year old Wharton had long since fallen asleep in Grandpa Hiri’s arms.

        “Linley, at this point in time, the Baruch family just consists of you, me, and your little brother. I don’t have any extravagant hopes. I’ve never dared to dream of becoming a Dragonblood Warrior.” Hogg laughed at himself satirically. How could becoming a Dragonblood Warrior be an easy task?

        Linley raised his head, staring at his father.

        Linley rarely saw his father speak to him in such a manner. Normally, his father was always very strict and unyielding.

        Staring at the rows of spirit tablets, Hogg’s eyes were filled with a dreary sadness. “My true goal is actually to recover the ancestral heirloom of the Baruch clan, passed down across the generations.”

        “Our ancestral heirloom? What’s that? Why have I never heard about it?” Linley asked curiously.

        Hogg proudly said, “Our ancestral heirloom – the warblade, “Slaughterer”. This was the weapon used by the very first leader of the Baruch clan, the very first Dragonblood Warrior of the Yulan continent. Alas…his descendants were unfilial. Six hundred years ago, because of poverty, a descendant who loved luxury actually sold our ancestral weapon for money.”

        As he spoke, Hogg was filled with so much fury that his body actually trembled.

        Shaking his head helplessly, he said, “Afterwards, every single generation tried to recover the warblade ‘Slaughterer’, but despite six hundred years of trying, none of us have succeeded. After all, when we sold the warblade ‘Slaughterer’, it was for the price of 180,000 gold coins of gold. 180,000 gold coins of gold! We aren’t able to produce such a vast sum, but even if we were, the current owner wouldn’t be willing to sell to us.”

        The ancient clan of the Dragonblood Warriors, actually had sold off its own ancestral heirloom.

        This was a humiliation!

        The humiliation of the ancient clan of the Dragonblood Warriors!

        Every succeeding generation had attempted to come up with ways to regain the warblade ‘Slaughterer’, but despite six hundred years of trying, they had never succeeded.

        As the current clan leader, Hogg also had this desire, but the clan’s economic situation was in dire straits. 180,000 gold coins of gold? Even if they sold off the manor and all their possessions, they might not be able to produce such a vast sum.

        The ancestral heirloom was lost. This humiliation constantly weighed on Hogg’s heart. He felt ashamed and helpless, and unable to face his forefathers.

        Seeing the look on his father’s face, Linley consoled him, “Father, don’t be unhappy! I promise that one day, I will recover our family’s heirloom and bring it back to this manor.”

        “You?” Hogg chuckled. Eyes filled with love, he ruffled Linley’s hair.

        In his heart, Hogg secretly said, “Linley. Do you know, these words you just said…all those years ago, I said these same words to your grandfather as well.” Six hundred years of efforts had all failed. How could it be easy to accomplish? After all, the person who had purchased the warblade ‘Slaughterer’ couldn’t be any ordinary person.

        Why would they be willing to sell?

        Even if they were willing to sell, how could the decrepit Baruch clan afford the cost?

        “Father, you don’t believe me?” Raising his head, Linley looked at his father questioningly.

        “I believe you, I believe you,” Hogg laughed.

        Father and son held each other close. Only three members remained of the ancient Dragonblood Clan in this era. When would this decaying clan be able to regain the glory and honor it had in prior years? At this moment, lying against his father’s chest, Linley’s fists were clenched tightly!

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        • #5
          Book 1, Chapter 4

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          Book 1, Chapter 4 – Growth (part 1)

          The spring wind came, turning green the poplar trees near the empty space outside of Wushan town. On the empty ground, a group of youths were ardently training. Almost a year had passed since the Dragonblood test, and Linley was eight years old now. Over the course of this period of time, Hillman clearly saw that Linley had only become even harder working!

          “Well done, Linley! Hold it, hold it!” Hillman encouraged from the side.

          Right now, Linley was only wearing trousers. His upper body was covered with sweat, and his body, as taut as a drawn bowstring, was lying on the ground. His hands were pressed fiercely to the ground, as straight as tree trunks, while the rest of his body was motionless. He was supporting himself from a push-up position, with just his hands and the tips of his toes! His entire body was taut!

          The ‘Static Tension’ training exercise!

          A very simple yet very effective training exercise. If a person could reach the level of being able to maintain this pose for an hour, then his body would no longer fear ordinary swords or sabres.

          Drip, drip!

          Beads of sweat rolled down from Linley’s forehead. The sweat entered Linley’s left eye, and he couldn’t help but wince at the pain.

          “Ley is really amazing. Just eight years old, but he’s able to match the thirteen year olds in doing the ‘Static Tension’ exercise.” Some of the children who had already given up were sprawled on the ground, chatting as they watched Linley.

          “Ley, keep it up! Keep it up for the rest of us! Beat those thirteen year olds!” The golden-haired Hadley shouted from the side.

          “Yeah, keep it up, Ley!” The other children started to chant as well.

          Linley was on extremely good terms with the other kids. Although Linley was the child of a noble house, he was extremely kind to the children of commoners, and often helped them train as well.

          “Gotta hold it. Gotta hold it.” Linley constantly said to himself.

          In the back of Linley’s mind, the words his father said a year ago constantly echoed. “Linley, we are the family of the Dragonblood Warriors. As a member of the Dragonblood Warriors clan, you have an advantage, but also a disadvantage! The advantage is, even though the density of Dragonblood in your veins hasn’t reached a sufficient level, your body will still be much stronger than those of most ordinary people. It might be very difficult for others to become a warrior of the sixth rank through training alone, but for you, it will be somewhat easier.”

          “However, your disadvantage is this. The descendants of the Dragonblood clan are not able to train battle qi according to normal manuals. This is because the blood in our veins is only suited to the training method inside the ‘Secret Dragonblood Manual’. It conflicts with all other types of battle qi cultivation methods. Unfortunately, only those who have reached a certain density of Dragonblood are able to practice using the method within the ‘Secret Dragonblood Manual’. Therefore, you will not be able to cultivate battle qi at all.”

          “Also, although in theory, anyone training the body can reach the sixth rank, that’s just in theory. In practice, the number of people who accomplish this is very low. But for us, it is different. Even if the amount of Dragonblood in our veins is low, our starting level will be higher than others. Just from training alone, we can become warriors of the sixth rank. Your great grandfather, based on training alone, managed to become a warrior of the seventh rank!”

          Linley remembered his father’s words very clearly.

          Linley growled to himself, “I’m stronger than everyone else now, only because of the Dragonblood in my veins. But since I can’t practice battle qi, my only options are to work hard, and to work harder! Since great grandfather was able to become a warrior of the seventh rank, then I shall…I shall become a warrior of the eighth rank. Or even the ninth rank! Nothing is impossible!”

          A warrior of the eighth rank!

          A warrior of the ninth rank could be considered the most powerful expert in the entire country of Fenlai. A warrior of the eighth rank, although unable to restore the Baruch family to its former glories, would be able to dramatically improve its current situation.

          “Gotta hold!” Linley gritted his teeth.

          By this point, his muscles felt like they were being chewed on by countless ants. His entire body was quivering, and every single muscles on his entire body trembled. Every single trembling muscle could be seen visibly.

          After a long time, in the end…

          Thud!

          Linley, exhausted, collapsed to the ground.

          “That feels wonderful.” Flat on the floor, his entire body relaxed, Linley could clearly feel how numb his entire body was. All the muscles on his body, after undergoing that training, were slowly growing. Although the growth wouldn’t be noticeable from just one or two exercises, after a long period of time, the effects would be pronounced.

          Hillman, off to the side, nodded with satisfaction.

          And then, Hillman’s face grew cold as he turned to look at the fourteen and fifteen year olds. “All of you had better hold on! Linley’s only eight years old, while all of you are almost adults. Don’t let an eight year old get the better of you!”

          …………….

          After morning exercises ended, Linley bid farewell to his group of friends and went towards the Baruch clan manor. If a stranger had seen him, the eight year old Linley surely would have been assumed to be eleven or twelve years old, and not just a mere child of eight.

          The descendants of Baruch truly were different from other men.

          “Big brother!” Upon seeing Linley, the healthy-looking Wharton rushed over.

          “That’s enough, Wharton. My entire body is covered with sweat. Let me wash myself first.” Linley patted Wharton on the face and laughed.

          Wharton hmphed. “I know that as soon as you wash up, you’ll go take lessons from father.”

          As a member of a noble house, Linley’s education began from a young age. The five-thousand year old Baruch clan was even stricter regarding educational matters than even the royal families of most kingdoms were.

          “Enough, Wharton. I’ll play with you around noon.” Linley laughed.

          Wharton was only a child, while Linley was much more mature.

          After washing up and changing into some fresh clothes, Linley entered the study. At this moment, his father, Hogg Baruch, was sitting in front of a desk, his back ramrod straight. In front of Hogg were three thick tomes.

          “Father!” Linley respectfully bowed.

          Hogg coldly nodded, and Linley quickly walked next to him.

          “Yesterday, I explained the history of the countries of the Yulan continent to you. Repeat it back to me.” Hogg said coldly.

          This was the real Hogg.

          Instances like the time when he was holding the crying Linley in his arms were extremely rare. Normally, Hogg’s attitude towards Linley could be summarized in one word: ‘Strict’. In all things, Hogg strove for perfection. He wouldn’t let Linley get away with any mistakes.

          “Yes, father.” Linley said calmly.

          “In the Yulan continent, there are three dangerous areas. The number one mountain range, the ‘Mountain Range of Magical Beasts’. The second mountain range, the ‘Mountain Range of the Setting Sun’. And, the number one forest, the ‘Forest of Darkness’. The space these three dangerous regions take up is incomparably large. The ‘Mountain Range of Magical Beasts’ runs across the entire continent, from north to south, covering over ten thousand kilomters. Within it are countless magical beasts, including Saint-level beasts which have the power to ‘destroy the heavens and ravage the earth’. Because of the ‘Mountain Range of Magical Beasts’, the Yulan continent has been divided into different regions.”

          “West of the ‘Mountain Range of Magical Beasts’, there are twelve kingdoms and thirty-two duchies. Within these kingdoms and dukedoms, there are two major divisions. The first is the Holy Union, with the kingdom of Fenlai being the principal kingdom. The second is the Dark Alliance, with the kingdom of Heishi being the principal kingdom. These two alliances are opposed to each other and constantly battle because one is controlled by the Radiant Church, while the other belongs to the Cult of Shadows.”

          “East of the ‘Mountain Range of Magical Beasts’, there are four empires, six major kingdoms, and countless duchies! These four empires are enormous, and are not influenced by the Holy Union or the Dark Alliance. In these four empires, the rule of the emperors is absolute. Any of the four empires are comparable to the Holy Union.”

          “The four empires are the central Yulan Empire, the southeastern Rhine [Lai’yin] Empire, the eastern Rohault [Luo’ao] Empire, and the northern O’Brien [O’Bu’Lai’En] Empire.” After having said all this at one go, Linley let himself relax slightly.

          “Just this?” Hogg frowned.

          Linley was about to immediately continue, but Hogg cut him off. “Let me ask you, within our Holy Union, how many kingdoms and duchies are there?”

          “Within our Holy Union, there are six kingdoms and fifte…sevente…” Linley suddenly frowned.

          How many duchies were there in the Holy Union? Linley’s memory was a bit hazy. He wasn’t sure if it was fifteen, or if it was seventeen. He couldn’t be sure.

          “Hmph!”

          His face cold and harsh, Hogg pulled out a wooden stick, and Linley obediently stuck his hand out.

          His eyes narrowing, with a ‘WHAP’ sound, Hogg whacked Linley’s hand with the stick. A red line immediately appeared on Linley’s hand, but Linley could only clench his teeth, not making a sound.

          “Linley, you must remember, we are currently living within the Holy Union. You must know everything about the Holy Union!” Hogg coldly looked at his son. “In the entire Yulan continent, the most important entities are the four empires and the two alliances.”

          Linley nodded.

          Although his father’s words were simple, Linley clearly understood the deeper meaning.

          “At the far northern end, the Holy Union shares a border with the O’Brien Empire. While at the southern end, the Dark Alliance intersects with the Yulan Empire. Under the guidance of the Radiant Church, the unity of our Holy Union isn’t one whit inferior to that of the empires.”

          Listening to his father’s words, Linley agreed.

          Yesterday, he had read many books. Clearly, the Holy Union could be considered the ‘cultural center’ for the entire Yulan continent. At the same time, in terms of economic strength, it was on par with the Yulan Empire, making the two of them the most economically powerful entities in the world.

          In addition, it had the support of the Radiant Church.

          The Holy Union truly was very formidable.

          “Today, we will study art,” Hogg said coldly. “As the descendent of a noble family, you must have a thorough understanding and appreciation of art. Art is what gives noblemen an aura of gravitas!” Hogg pulled out a large tome as thick as a fist, immediately opening it.

          “In the year 3578 of the Yulan calendar, the grandmaster stone-sculptor Proulx [Pu’lu’ke’si] was born….”

          Off to the side, Hogg solemnly taught while Linley strove hard to memorize. He wanted to meet his father’s requirements.

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          • #6
            Book 1, Chapter 5 – Growth (part 2)

            Time flew by quickly, and in the blink of an eye, the grandfather clock within the hall rang eleven times, signifying that it was now 11 in the morning.

            “Is Hogg at home?” A clear voice rang out. The Baruch manor had no guards, so clearly, this person had already arrived within the manor grounds.

            Hogg frowned, placing down the thick tome in front of him. “Linley, today we’ll come to a stop here.” Revealing a wisp of a smile, Hogg turned around and walked towards the guest hall.

            “Ah, Hogg, my dear friend! Just the other day, I heard the clothspinner bird’s cry, and I just knew that something good was going to happen. Indeed, by noon, I received your missive, and as soon as I read it, I was overjoyed.”

            “Dear Philip, I am very happy to see you as well. Hillman, quickly go and bring me the stone sculpture, ‘Fierce Lion’. Philip, come, let’s go to the main hall and wait. The sculpture will be here shortly.”

            Hearing these words, Linley felt his heart twinge.

            “We’re selling off more family belongings?” Linley knew that the ‘Fierce Lion’ sculpture was one which his father deeply liked. But the Baruch clan, which took very little taxes from Wushan township, really was in dire economic straits.

            Fortunately, the Baruch clan was an ancient one, and by virtue of its age, had stored many rare and precious items.

            Unfortunately, even the vastest of hoards could not withstand so many years of auctions and sales. By this point in time, the number of valuable items within the clan was very few. Linley couldn’t help but turn to stare at the grandfather clock. “I wonder how long it will be before even this clock has to be sold off.”

            A middle aged man with long, golden hair and a nobleman’s aura strode into the hall by Hogg’s side. Linley immediately was able to guess that this middle-aged man must be ‘Philip’.

            “Oh, this adorable child must be your son, right Hogg?” Philip smiled very warmly at Linley. “Linley Baruch, right? May I address you as Linley?”

            “It would be my honor, sire.” Linley placed his right hand against his breast and respectfully bowed.

            “What an adorable child.” Philip seemed very pleased.

            By his side, Hogg laughed. “Philip, stop wasting time with the child. Look, the ‘Fierce Lion’ you have desired for so long has arrived.” As he spoke, Hillman easily carried in the large sculpture into the hall, and then easily set it down.

            It was a nearly thousand-pound stone sculpture, but in Hillman’s hands, it seemed like naught but a toy, clearly showing Hillman’s strength.

            “Mr. Hillman, your strength amazes me. My own manor doesn’t have anyone as fierce as you, guard captain, even though I control twelve towns.” Philip smiled as he spoke, but the implicit meaning in his words was quite clear; he wanted to invite Hillman to work for him.

            Hillman said coldly, “Wushan town is my home, sire.”

            “Forgive me.” Philip quickly apologized.

            Philip turned to look at Hogg. “Hogg, I must say, although I like this stone sculpture very much, the artisanship of this ‘Fierce Lion’ sculpture cannot be considered to be top tier, much less the masterpieces of those grandmaster sculptors.”

            “Philip, if you don’t wish to buy it, then forget about it.” Hogg was quite succinct.

            Philip’s eyes couldn’t help but narrow, but then he laughed. “Haha…Hogg, don’t be angry. I’m not saying that I don’t wish to buy it. I’m just telling the truth. How about this. I’ll buy this sculpture for five hundred gold coins. What do you think?”

            “Five hundred?” Hogg frowned.

            This price was much lower than what Hogg had hoped for. He had been hoping for at least eight hundred.

            In the Yulan continent, one gold coin equaled ten silver coins equaled a thousand copper coins. The average commoner would be able to earn twenty or thirty gold coins in a year. Even the average army soldier would only earn a hundred or so gold coins.

            “The price is too low.” Hogg shook his head.

            “Hogg, you must know that in all the ten thousand plus years of the Yulan continent, there have been countless sculptures made. The true value of a sculpture is in terms of its artisanship. As far as the artisanship of this one….well, heh, suffice to say, I just like it. Five hundred gold really is my highest offer. If you don’t accept, then let’s just forget about it.”

            Philip laughed as he turned to look at the grandfather clock in the hall. His eyes gleaming, he said, “Hogg, if you were to sell this clock, however, I would be willing to pay a thousand gold.”

            Hogg’s face grew cold.

            “Ahem, two thousand gold would be acceptable as well. This would be my highest offer.” Philip hurriedly said.

            Hogg sternly shook his head firmly. “The grandfather clock is not for sale! As for the sculpture, six hundred gold. Take it or leave it.”

            Philip carefully studied Hogg for a moment, then chuckled. “Fine, Hogg. I’ll give you some face. Six hundred gold it is. Housekeeper, bring me six hundred gold.” The caretaker for his manor, who had been waiting outside the entire time, immediately ran over with the gold.

            Six sacks of yellow gold.

            “Six hundred gold, Hogg. You can count it, if you want.” Philip smiled.

            Hogg hefted the sacks. Just based on weight alone, Hogg was certain that there really were six hundred gold coins in them, a hundred gold per sack. Hogg smiled and nodded. “Philip, how about staying and having dinner with us?”

            “No need, I still have some business back home.” Philip laughed.

            Philip’s housekeeper subsequently instructed two powerfully built warriors to lift and carry away the sculpture, which they did with difficulty.

            After Philip and his entourage had departed, Hogg stared at the six sacks of gold, a dim look in his eyes. This time, he sold the stone sculpture. Next time? Although the manor still had many things remaining, sooner or later, they would have nothing left.

            “Father, I want to learn to be a sculptor!” Linley suddenly said.

            Linley knew very well that in the Yulan continent, those famous master sculptors could produce works valued at tens of thousands of gold pieces each. Some famous sculptures could even reach a hundred thousand gold pieces. And wealth aside, the societal ranking of these sculptors was also very high.

            “If I can become a master sculptor, then…then father will no longer have to sell our family possessions.” This is what Linley was thinking.

            “Sculpting?” Hogg glanced at Linley, his eyes cold.

            “Linley, do you know that amongst the hundreds of millions of people in the Holy Union, there are at least several million who have studied sculpting. But in the entire Holy Union, the number of true masters can be counted on one hand. In addition, if you don’t have a good instructor, you simply cannot succeed on your own.”

            “The inner circle of sculptors is not one which ordinary people are allowed into. You only see the sky-high valuation of the works of the masters, but do you know that the vast majority of sculptors only make a few dozen gold coins each year?”

            Hogg’s voice was very fierce.

            Linley was so frightened, he immediately knelt down. Just now, he only spoke because he thought that sculpting could improve his family’s situation. He didn’t expect his father to say so much and lecture him so sternly.

            “Enough. The ancestral hall needs some cleaning. After lunch, go and clean it up.” Hogg said coldly.

            “Yes, father.” Linley said respectfully.

            Looking at Linley, Hogg sighed in his heart. “Sculpting? Oh, child. Do you know that in the past, I also practiced sculpting? I spent ten full years of my life trying to learn. But unfortunately, my sculptures weren’t worth a single coin.” Hogg, too, had once foolishly dreamed of becoming a master sculptor and thereby improving his clan’s situation.

            But in his heart, he felt very helpless. Despite spending ten years training, his sculptures were still worthless. The field of sculpting could be described as a pyramid.

            Those famous master sculptors were at the top of the pyramid. They enjoyed a high status, and each sculpture they made was worth hundreds of thousands of coins.

            But the valuation of the work of the countless low level sculptors at the bottom of the pyramid was soul-crushingly low. Most of their works would just be bought by commoners for just a few silver coins to use as decorations in their homes.

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            • #7


              Book 1, Chapter 6 – Coiling Dragon Ring (part 1)

              Underneath the setting sun, the rosy clouds seemed to cover half the sky, casting their red hue upon the entire world.

              “Cleaning the ancestral hall is pretty easy.”

              Departing the ancestral hall, Linley had to admit that he had over-prepared. He had slotted an hour for this job, but in just fifteen minutes, he was finished cleaning.

              On the Yulan continent, each year was divided into twelve months, each month thirty days, each day twenty four hours, and each hour sixty minutes. Most noble families owned grandfather clocks, and were able to accurately tell time. Some extremely wealthy or extremely high-status individuals might even own meticulously calibrated wrist watches.

              “The ancestral hall is cleaned every month. Frankly speaking, in just a month, the ancestral hall won’t get too dirty. All I have to do is just casually wipe it down. I have almost an hour before training starts. What should I do?” Bored, Linley looked around in all directions.

              The ancient Baruch mansion had five thousand years of history.

              The front courtyard was cleaned every day, but the rooms in the much-larger back courtyard, aside from the ancestral hall, were all covered in dust, and even the walls were cracked. Wild grasses and dark green lichen covered the floors and even ran up the walls.

              “Heeeeey…” Seeing the decrepit architecture, Linley’s eyes slowly brightened. “Lots of places in the back courtyard haven’t been visited in over a century. I wonder if there’s any ancient, valuable items there?”

              Upon coming to this realization, Linley’s heart began to pound.

              “If I am able to find some valuable things and give them to father, no doubt he will be very happy.” Linley took a deep breath, then immediately entered a decrepit room next to the ancestral hall. Step by step, he walked carefully, wielding a sturdy wooden stick in his hands, which he used to strike down the cobwebs, allowing himself a more careful examination.

              Immediately upon entering the room, a rotten scent wafted past Linley’s nose. Thick cobwebs could be seen in each corner, and spiders could even be seen clambering about.

              Many spiderwebs were covering decorative curtains and furnishings. Upon closer examination, all of these curtains appeared very ancient. Unfortunately, the curtains were tattered beyond belief, just barely holding together in the semblance of a curtain.

              “If these curtains weren’t ruined, no doubt they would be worth a lot of money.” Linley helplessly shook his head. He continued to inspect the room, using his stick to brush aside the layers of cobwebs as he carefully searched.

              He searched the floor, the cabinets, and even to see if there were any secret passageways on the walls.

              “According to the books I’ve read, it is quite common for walls to contain hidden levers or passages.” Linley carefully rapped the walls, listening to the sounds.

              Linley very much enjoyed this feeling of searching for treasures in the ancient room. But he had forgotten something. If he could come up with this idea, wouldn’t his father, his grandfather, and the other elders of the Baruch clan also have thought of this?

              These ancient rooms had long ago been scoured clean by the deceased elders of the Baruch clan.

              Linley was only eight years old, after all. Although the strict education of the clan helped him mature quickly, there was still a large gap between him and an adult. Naturally, he wouldn’t be able to consider things from a more complete point of view.

              “Nothing in this room. Next one…” Linley exited the first room and entered the second.

              There were actually many rooms in the back courtyard. After all, the front courtyard which Linley resided in constituted only a third of the entire manor. The back courtyard was far larger. Linley would probably have to spend an entire day in order to finish searching the entire back courtyard.

              “All these decorations are ruined. There isn’t a single one worth money.” Linley exited yet another empty room.

              He stared up at the sky.

              “Eh, looks like it’s almost time for training. I have another fifteen minutes or so at most.” Linley turned his head around and stared at an extremely large room. “I’ll just look at that last one, that big one. I’ll spend about ten minutes searching. If I can’t find anything, I’ll go off to training.”

              Having made up his mind, Linley raced towards the large room.

              This ancient room was much larger than even the main hall in the front courtyard. Stepping inside, Linley carefully scrutinized the place. “I bet hundreds of years ago, this was the dinner hall for our Baruch clan.” From the ornaments and furniture, Linley could tell that this was a living hall.

              A huge, grandiose-looking hall.

              “Search the ground first.”

              Same as before, Linley lowered his head, widened his eyes, and began carefully searching the room one part at a time. Upon seeing anything interesting, he would tap it twice with his stick. If it was made out of stone, he would ignore it. Since he didn’t have much time left before training was to start, his searching speed increased as well.

              “Time to search the walls and the curtains. Oi. Last, best hope.” Linley grimaced as he scanned the surroundings. “Clan elders, I really hope you guys left one or two things behind for me to find. Even if it is just a small thing.”

              Linley carefully searched the walls, even peeking behind the tattered curtains.

              On the ancient walls were many rotted wooden cabinets, each of which had many drawers. Linley pulled open each and every drawer, but the drawers were totally empty, almost immaculately so. The only thing inside of them? Some dust.

              “Alas!”

              After pulling open the last drawer, Linley felt bitter disappointment in his heart.

              “After searching for all this time, I didn’t even find a single valuable item. All I did was cover myself with sweat and dust.” Linley stared at his clothes. They really were filthy, now. Linley couldn’t help but feel discontented.

              Linley’s gaze once more flashed across the room.

              “Hmph. I’m leaving.” Linley angrily used the stick in his hand to strike hard against a nearby cabinet, as though he wanted to give vent to all the anger which had built up over an hour of fruitless searching.

              “Thud!” The stick solidly struck against the cabinet.

              The cabinet was extremely ancient. After having been chewed on by mites for a hundred years, it couldn’t withstand any weight. After having been struck so fiercely, it began to creak and groan.

              Hearing this, Linley couldn’t help but look behind him in alarm. “Oh no, it’s going to collapse!” While searching the other rooms, Linley had also destroyed a few other pieces of furniture, so by now, he was very experienced.

              Linley hurriedly dodged to one side.

              In the end, the cabinet, which was twice as tall as Linley himself, collapsed. With a crashing sound, the cabinet smashed against the floor, breaking into seven or eight pieces, covering the room with even more dust. But hidden amidst the dust, unseen by Linley, was…

              Upon the shattering of the cabinet, a black ring which had been hidden within the wooden supports came tumbling out, falling to the ground.

              “Ew, ew!” Linley spat out the two words as he hurriedly tried to escape the wave of dust.

              “How unlucky! My entire body is covered with dust now, and I bet training is about to start. I’d best go take a quick shower and put on some new clothes.” With a wave of his arm, Linley pushed open the door and departed the ancient room.

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              • #8
                Book 1, Chapter 7 – Coiling Dragon Ring (part 2)

                That black ring had rolled forward, landing precisely in front of the doorway.

                When Linley had strode forward by three steps, reaching the doorway, he came to a sudden halt, because he could clearly feel that he had stepped on something hard.

                “Just now, I searched the ground and didn’t see a single rock. This must have come from the shattered drawers.” Thinking about the collapsed drawers, Linley couldn’t help but feel angry, and he viciously stomped on the piece of ‘shattered wood’ beneath his feet.

                Based on Linley’s thinking, if it was a piece of shattered wood, it should be stomped into fragments. But in reality…

                “Whoah, it’s hard! What’s under my foot?” Linley felt that the item underneath his foot was extraordinarily tough, and immediately stepped aside to take a closer look.

                He saw a jet-black object in the shape of a ring lying peacefully on the ground. It was covered by a layer of dust, and was not at all catching to the eye.

                “Oh, a ring?” Linley’s eyes were bandit-sharp. He happily plucked the ring up, then used his filthy sleeves to give the black ring a vigorous rub-down. Only then could Linley make out what this item really looked like.

                This black ring was made of a material that seemed to have properties of both wood and stone. On the body of the ring, there was a very faint carving of an indistinct object as well…

                “Earthworm?” Linley suspiciously looked at the carving on the ring.

                At first glance, Linley felt that the sinuous carving on the ring seemed to be that of an earthworm.

                Linley laughed to himself, “The carving skill for this ring is really terrible. I bet even an average carver could make something more attractive. Alas, what a waste. This black ring doesn’t even have a single diamond on it, much less any valuable magic crystals.”

                Most rings were adorned with either diamonds or magic crystals.

                Unfortunately, this black ring seemed to have been made out of a material that had properties of both wood and stone. Not even the shadow of a gemstone could be seen. Clearly, it was worthless.

                But for some reason, upon seeing the ring, Linley immediately felt that he had taken a liking to it. He suspected that it was most likely because this was the only thing he had discovered after spending a prodigious amount of effort in searching the manor.

                “Hm, this ring is really thick. There’s no way to wear it on my finger without it slipping off. I’ll string it through with silk and wear it around my neck.” Linley’s eyes brightened.

                The eight-year old Linley’s hands, after all, were much smaller than the hands of an adult. There was no way he could wear the ring on his fingers.

                “Now, what name should I choose for this black ring? Earthworm Ring? No way, that sounds terrible.” Linley mumbled for a few moments, then his eyes lit up. “Haha, that sinuous object can also be considered a ‘dragon’, right? A dragon curled around the ring…then let’s call it, the Coiling Dragon Ring!” Although in his heart, Linley felt like the carving looked more like an earthworm, but he still chose the name ‘Coiling Dragon Ring’ for it.

                “Coiling Dragon Ring!” Lifting up the dark, unadorned ring, Linley felt exceptionally pleased.

                “Wait, crap! It’s almost time for training!”

                Linley suddenly remembered. He frantically stared at his filthy clothes, covered in dust and grime. He looked like a beggar. “Oh no…” Linley had no time to think. He immediately ran out of the ancient courtyard and charged straight for the washroom.

                The sound of rushing water.

                Linley dumped water over himself. His skin was bright and vigorous, and muscular lines were already beginning to develop. This was the result of Linley’s training. Underneath the rushing water flow, the dust was quickly washed away.

                Using the least amount of time possible, Linley washed himself clean, then hurriedly put on his training clothes.

                “String, string…” Linley hurriedly looked about for a thread on which he could hang the Coiling Dragon Ring. Suddenly, Linley’s gaze fell on a ruined old washcloth. His eyes lit up, and he immediately pulled a string out from within the washcloth.

                Although the washcloth was very ordinary, it was very sturdy and durable. The string, too, would be very resilient.

                He quickly strung on the Coiling Dragon Ring, then immediately wore his makeshift necklace.

                “I’m gonna be late. This is my first time being late!” Linley bolted out like a roaring flame. As he ran, he tucked the Coiling Dragon Ring into his clothes. Feeling the coolness of the ring against his chest, Linley couldn’t help but feel happy.

                In exchange for being late, he gained the Coiling Dragon Ring.

                Linley felt very happy.

                In a flash, Linley rushed out of the Baruch clan manor, and then immediately ran towards the empty training ground east of Wushan town. By this time, most of the commoners had already returned home, leaving the streets empty, but as they saw Linley run, they were able to guess the reason.

                “Young master Linley, careful, don’t hurt yourself!”

                “Master Hillman is extremely rigorous. I’m afraid young master Linley is going to be punished.”

                …..

                The kindness which the Baruch clan had showed the commoners caused them to also be filled with love and goodwill towards Linley.

                “How will Uncle Hillman punish me?” Even as he hurriedly rushed forward, Linley was still thinking about this question. At this point, Linley had no time to chat or pay respects to any of the uncles or aunties nearby. In a short period of time, Linley arrived at the training field of Wushan town.

                By this time, all three squads had already lined up. Hillman was speaking, but upon hearing Linley’s footsteps, Hillman’s cold gaze couldn’t help but shoot towards him.

                Linley ran towards the training squads. Taking position next to the squads, he nervously awaited Hillman’s instructions.

                “Today’s training exercises will be doubled for you. Return to your team!” Hillman calmly said.

                “Yes sir!” Linley raised his head high and said in a bright voice.

                The youngsters nearby couldn’t help but stick out their tongues. He was just late by a short amount of time, but was punished with double duty training. Today, Linley probably wouldn’t have any time to go home and eat dinner.

                Just as Linley began jogging towards his usual position in the team, suddenly…

                THUD! The entire earth seemed to tremble slightly, but with regularity. It was as though a giant creature was walking on the earth, causing it to tremble with each step.

                “East. It came from the east.” Linley immediately discerned the direction.

                Not just Linley. Hillman, Roger, and Lorry all turned towards the east, their expressions growing solemn. The vibrations were growing stronger and clearer. All of the youths present could clearly feel that the regular vibrations were coming from an enormous creature headed their way.

                Each of the thunderous footsteps seemed to caused a vibration powerful enough to shake Linley’s heart.

                What giant creature was causing this?

                Linley widened his eyes and stared east…

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                • #9
                  Book 1, Chapter 8 – Magical Beast – Velocidragon! The giant creature that caused the earth to shake finally revealed itself. Upon seeing this enormous creature, Linley and the rest of the children were scared silly. Hillman, Roger and Lorry’s reaction speeds were very quick; they immediately stood in front of the group of kids and carefully watched the enormous creature. “A magical beast of the seventh rank. Velocidragon*!” Hillman’s facial expression contorted, while Lorry and Roger, by his side, felt their legs grow weak. “So bi, bi, big! Is, is this a legendary magical beast?” Linley was totally stunned. Since he was born, the largest creature which Linley had ever seen was the warhorses that sometimes passed by Wushan township. Those large, powerful horses were 1.8 meters tall. But in front of this giant creature, they seemed like nothing more than a babe in front of a giant. The difference was truly astounding. This creature was easily two stories high and at least twenty or thirty meters long. Magical Beast – Velocidragon! The Velocidragon’s entire body was covered by huge, fire-red scales, each scale glittering with the reflected cold, golden light. The scales alone were stunning and frightening to behold. The Velocidragon’s four scale-covered long legs were even more terrifying in their thickness. Two fully grown men would barely be able to surround them with their arms. The flame-red Velocidragon was entirely crimson in color, with the exception of its cold, deadly looking black claws. The Velocidragon’s long, scale covered tail made up over half of its total body length. Like a whip, it swept across the ground. Each time it struck the ground, a deep thud could be heard emanating from below. “Grrr…” With a low-throated growl, white steam erupted from the nostrils of the Velocidragon, carrying with it the stench of sulfur. Those diamond-like eyes, nearly the size of a lantern, were also, strangely enough, red as well. The huge head of the Velocidragon turned towards Linley and the children. It’s cold gaze terrified all of the children, freezing them in their tracks. “Tchhh. Tchhh.” The Velocidragon’s mouth tensed, revealing two rows of enormous, saw-like teeth. Each teeth was ivory white, and the sight of them caused everyone’s hearts to grow cold. No one dared to question its sharpness. Linley felt as though his heart had stopped beating. Right now, it seemed as though all sound had faded away. “Too terrifying. Is there anyone who can possibly defeat such a creature?” Linley was scared stiff. Just from looking at this huge magical beast, Linley felt as though its power was irresistible. Linley believed that with but a swipe of its enormous tail, most likely even the sturdiest stones of the houses of Wushan town would be disintegrated. “Is this Wushan town?” Suddenly, a cold voice emanated from on top of the Velocidragon. All of the terrified children looked up, astonished. Upon the Velocidragon’s enormous, scaly back, a mysterious man wearing violet robes was sitting cross-legged. The Velocidragon was simply too huge in size, and its back was extremely broad. There was more than enough space for someone to stand, sit, or even roll around. “Lord Magus, this is indeed Wushan town. Is there anything we can help you with, Lord Magus?” Hillman’s voice rang out. Upon hearing Hillman’s voice, everyone seemed to find their bearings again, and recovered from the state of stunned terror. But everyone present, including Roger and Lorry, didn’t dare make a single sound. They all stood behind Hillman and fearfully looked at the terrifying Velocidragon and the mysterious, violet robed magus. “Wushan town. Looks like I didn’t get lost.” The violet-robed man said in a low voice. And then the mysterious, violet-robed man didn’t say anything else. After gazing at Linley and the rest of the group with its cold eyes, the Velocidragon continued forward, two more lines of smoke appearing from its nostrils. Seeing the Velocidragon go in the direction of the township, the expression on Hillman’s face changed. “Everyone, stay here.” After he spoke, Hillman immediately chased after the departing Velocidragon. “Uncle Lorry, what is that? Is that a magical beast?” Linley was the first to ask. Lorry cleared his throat, a look of terror still in his eyes. But he still nodded. “Yes, it is. But it’s a very powerful one, a magical beast of the seventh rank. A Velocidragon!” “Velocidragon?” Linley memorized the word, forever etching it in his mind. The Velocidragon’s huge body, hard scales, sharp claws, and powerful tail served to create a terrifying appearance. Linley believed….a single Velocidragon could most likely annihilate the entire Wushan township. “The defensive power of the Velocidragon’s scales is astonishing, and its attack power is terrifying as well. In addition, it is proficient in destructive fire magic!” Lorry’s heart was filled with fear as he explained to Linley and the others. “If faced with a terrifying magical beast such as the Velocidragon, most likely even a brigade of a thousand soldiers would be wiped out, unless it had a number of sixth or seventh ranked warriors and magi who could unite to penetrate the Velocidragon’s scales.” Linley’s heart trembled. Even a brigade of a thousand soldiers would be wiped out? “However, the most terrifying thing is not the Velocidragon…it is the mysterious violet-robed man.” Lorry took two stabilizing breaths, calming his agitated heart. By his side, Roger nodded as well. “Right. In order to subdue a Velocidragon, one must force the Velocidragon to willingly submit to being a servant. In other words…the violet-robed man must be significantly more powerful than the Velocidragon. Based on his clothing, he should be a magus.” “At least a magus of the seventh rank. Perhaps even a magus of the eighth rank!” Roger’s fists couldn’t help but tremble as well. “I never imagined such an important individual would come to our home.” Linley could also feel the fear which was in the hearts of Roger and Lorry. Velocidragon, a magical beast of the seventh rank. And a mysterious magus whose power dwarfed that of the Velocidragon? This definitely was enough to cause terror. “The magus was even more powerful than the Velocidragon?” Linley found this somewhat hard to believe. The Velocidragon’s huge body, hard scales, sharp claws, and powerful tail…all seemed to dwarf that small human figure of the magus. “Roaaar!” Suddenly, an angry roar erupted from the middle of the township. “Crap!” Lorry and Roger were stunned. Linley and the other children grew worried as well. Was the Velocidragon’s angry roar caused by Uncle Hillman, or by Wushan township? Nobody knew. “All of you, stay here.” Lorry and Roger, although terrified, still raced towards the center of the town. Linley gritted his teeth. “Uncle Hillman!” Linley was also worried for Uncle Hillman, as well as the citizens of Wushan town. He also ran in that direction. At this moment, Lorry and Roger were both panic-stricken at the thought of the Velocidragon, and didn’t notice Linley following behind them. In but a few moments, they arrived in the middle of the town. Hillman was standing far away, watching. “Why did you come?” Hillman reprimanded in a severe tone. But upon seeing Linley follow behind Lorry and Roger, Hillman frowned even further. “Linley, it’s far too dangerous here. Go back immediately.” Only now did Lorry and Roger notice Linley had followed them. “Linley, why did you…” Lorry and Roger didn’t know what to say. “Uncle Hillman, I’m not going back.” Linley wasn’t willing to return. Hillman helplessly shook his head. He knew how stubborn Linley could be, and how hard it was to force him to change his mind. “Fine. Then stay behind me, do not go too far. As long as you stay next to me, I am confident that I can protect you.” “Thank you, Uncle Hillman. I definitely won’t run around.” Linley was overjoyed. At this point in time, Hillman’s group was roughly a hundred meters away from the Velocidragon. They quietly watched the events in the center of town unfold. In front of the huge Velocidragon, a group of youngsters could be seen. Four men, three women.

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