Chapter 1: Not a boy, not yet a man

On the fateful day of the quarter finals in the medical facility, medical physicians and staff busied themselves over a patient who was admitted a few hours earlier. She arrived in an unconscious state, and her entire right arm was shriveled with an ugly purple bruise spread throughout it.

All of a sudden, they were distracted by a commotion coming from outside the room, and were urgently called away to attend to what looked like a brawl. The people who were injured are soldiers from the Hu Yuan empire, but this isn’t what shocked the first responders.

In a room just down the hallway from where the female child was admitted, they saw a man twitching in spasms on the ground. His groin was bleeding heavily, and he was unconscious. When they removed his clothes to staunch the blood flow, they were terrified to find nothing resembling his family jewels.

To add to the confusion, the Academy’s security as well as the Hu Yuan soldiers swarmed the area in heightened alert after that incident. It was a smorgasbord of bodies, as each claimed control over the area and wanted to secure it.

It hindered the progress of the medical staffs, as they tend to the injured. However order quickly resumed, once the head nurse shouted for the non medical personnel to get out of their way.

No one paid notice to a small child barely hidden in the shadows, clutching on to a device. He was lying in wait for the opportune moment to carry out his plans. This was the day sweet revenge will belong to him, he was after all going to kill the princess.

However much to his chagrin, the security and the soldiers did not leave and blocked all paths to her room. To make matters worse, Imperial Guards led by a man under the direct orders of the Hu Yuan Emperor arrived in the middle of the night and took Huiling and her father away.

Just as they arrived unannounced, they departed without notice. The child in the pretense of being her friend, could not find any clues even as he tried to ask the remaining personnel.

He left the medical facility seething, his plans thwarted and cursed under his breath, “Even if it takes me a million years, even if the world comes to an end, I will have my revenge!”

Gritting his teeth, he moved off into the night. Morning will be arriving shortly and it has been a long day, he needed to rest his weariness.

Being constantly angry was not an easy task, and he gradually calmed down in the time it took for him to reach his rundown apartment in the outlying district. It was about a thousand leagues from the Academy’s medical facilities, and even with spatial portals, took him over an hour to arrive there.

It is then he realized that all is not lost, and it will actually be better if his target have forgotten the terrible deeds she has done. In his mind twisted with vengeance, a scenario played out. Revenge is after all a dish best served cold.

*********

In another part of the campus, around the time the Imperial Guards arrived at the medical facility and took Buhui and Huiling away, four people were in the private chambers of a luxurious mansion. It is the guest house provided by the Academy to Amelia and her Imperial entourage.

Xiaoxia’s parents, as well as Menon and Amelia were in a heated debate. This was the second meeting they had, with a long intercession between to allow Daquan and Wanmei to privately discuss further.

The intercession also allowed Amelia and Menon the chance to continue their respective investigation of what happened during the day.

“We cannot allow this to happen!” Wanmei said, she had been leading the discussion while her husband remained quiet for over an hour.

“Please Madam Chen, you have to understand, by allowing him to continue here or bringing him back to the 1st colony is not an option, it will only do him harm” Amelia tried to diffuse the situation.

The gathering earlier at the Menon’s place did not turn out as expected. When the ladies and men separated into their groups for the purpose of requesting Xiaoxia’s indefinite leave of absence, they expected Daquan to be the one who will strongly object.

However it was Wanmei who turned out to be the more aggressive of the couple. Daquan did voice out his grievances at the onset, but he soon became less vocal than his wife.

“Madam Chen, I am sure the safety of Xiaoxia is your utmost concern. Like her Royal Grace said, there is no other option, if we want to ensure he even have the slightest chance in life,” Menon reiterated what they have been discussing for the past few hours.

They were then told of the unknown entities that almost wiped out the 4 major races 15,000 years ago*, and how it is without question they still existed.

(AN : Reference to Volume 1 Chapter 21)

Menon explained that Xiaoxia was unique in a way that he poses a great threat to these entities’ plans. Without exposing what Gu Di have told them in its entirety, Amelia and Menon went into a little more detail as how these entities either wanted Xiaoxia dead or within their ranks.

Previously, during the long intercession, Daquan and Wanmei discussed between themselves and decided not to allow Xiaoxia to be taken away. However they were not really set in their decision, as deep down inside, they knew if they did that, it would be putting the life of their son at risk.

“I want a guarantee that by doing so, he will remain safe, that’s all I ever cared about even if it means not being able to see him now or in the future,” Daquan who had been letting Wanmei do the talking, finally broke his silence.

He is a practical man, having grown up practicing the art of the blacksmith who relishes in the practical rather than theoretical.

“There is honestly no way we can give total guarantee he will be safe, these entities are not ones that will allows us to say so,” Amelia replied with sincerity, and nodded towards Menon to follow up.

“While we are not able to do so, as representatives of MeisterSchloss and the Hu Yuan Empire, we can assure our utmost diligence in protecting your son,” Menon continued where Amelia left off.

It was not an exact lie, given the secrecy of the situation, it was the best both he and Amelia could come up with.

After finding out that Gu Di is the leader of Wuming, a legendary group whose members are written in songs and told in children’s stories, all of them no longer had doubts when he related his findings on the current situation.

Gu Di stressed that he was not the only one making a move on an anomaly which happened, in addition to the unknown entities who devastated the four major races, there were at least two other groups of similar nature, who wanted the anomaly for themselves or destroyed.

He is now sure that it is related to Xiaoxia, after examining him in the medical facility. Therefore with this in regard, he needed to move fast or risked being out-maneuvered by others.

Jay being present during the anomaly was a blessing in disguise, as he is a member of Wuming. Unfortunately even though he kept Xiaoxia’s name from the after-incident report, somehow the information got out, and the empire whose princess was involved, got word of it*.

(AN : refer to Volume 1 Chapter 20 and 21)

The facts were few and theories abound, but what Gu Di divulged, was enough for the five of them who gathered earlier in the day to know its implications and seriousness.

Amelia and Menon themselves decided to take the lead on the matter pertaining to convincing Xiaoxia’s parents, but not before discussing it with Instructor Wei and Yulia.

The four agreed on which parts should be left out, just to maintain clear lines between what to tell the Chen couple and what not to. It was also partly to keep the secrecy that they agreed to intact, without compromising much of the facts when presented to Xiaoxia’s parents.

Jay himself did not get involved in the other four’s discussion, as he kept his usual distance. He just needed to ensure Xiaoxia was safe by personally being in his room. Instructor Wei and Yulia joined him after leaving Amelia and Menon.

It was now up to the two who represented their respective empire/city to convince Xiaoxia’s parents, and they hoped it will succeed.

“There is nothing more to say, other than to accept,” Wanmei responded grudgingly.

When Daquan spoke up earlier, his feelings mirrored hers. Her arguments were not really groundless, after all she is a mother, and Xiaoxia is her son. It was something only a parent would know.

But she had to concede to the glaring fact, that they simply did not have what it takes to protect Xiaoxia themselves.

“I am truly sorry it has to be this way, I cannot imagine how you are feeling now,” Amelia apologized.

She always wanted to have her own children, but did not. Even then, she could not imagine how it exactly felt by not being able to protect or see your own child.

(AN:  reference to Volume 1 Chapter 10 on how Amelia loves children)

The four of them remained silent, as the time passed. It was Amelia who broke the silence, having another matter to discuss.

“Daquan, Wanmei, it is extremely regrettable under the given situation, but I have another request,” she said.

“What is it?” Daquan asked in a resigned tone, no other request could be much worse than the one they had just agreed to.

“Due to extenuating circumstances, there is someone I need you to look after,” she replied.

“Who might that be?” he responded.

“It is the last opponent your son fought, the Princess Qing Huiling,” Amelia said and continued, “Please do not look poorly on her, there is something that prompted her to hurt Xiaoxia. She is a victim of circumstances, and currently her life may be in danger.”

During the long intercession, Menon managed to dig up some information on the Elementals and the bracelet that was made from them. The news was not good, apparently people who have used items made from any parts of the Elementals, usually have their minds stripped of sanity and die eventually. It is a gradual process, which took a certain time frame to achieve.

According to the hidden recordings unearthed by Shi Lang, one showed how Buhui received the bracelet and was warned of its effect. He did not pay it heed, and cajoled Huiling into wearing it since she was five years old. The time which she had worn it, was more than enough to cause irreversible damage.

(AN:  Shi Lang reference in Volume 1 Chapter 32)

Huiling should have sufficiently recovered from the blow that knocked her out, but she did not and when her vitals were last checked, it seemed to have deteriorated even more. This more or less proved Menon’s findings, and according to the records, some survivors did not die but remained in a catatonic state for the remainder of their lives.

Amelia almost went ballistic again when she was given this information, and she stormed off looking to put an end to Buhui’s life. She regretted just destroying his family jewels, when she should have killed him instead.

But he was a King, and thankfully Maling who was at the medical center held her back. She may have been forgiven for beating him till an inch of his life, but not for directly killing him.

Amelia had a soft spot for children, and while previously she disliked Huiling for being a spoilt brat, the situation have changed.

“I do not understand, why us?” Wanmei responded.

“You do not have any obligations to do so, and there is no right for me to ask this of. However just like the situation Xiaoxia is in, Huiling’s life may be in jeopardy as well. She needs constant attention due to her ailments, and there is no better surrogate parents I can look for than you,” Amelia honestly informed her.

It is true that she looked upon the Chen couple as extremely competent parents, it was reflected in the manners and upbringing of Xiaoxia.

On the other hand, it was also true that Huiling’s life may be in jeopardy. Although it may not be just from the effects of the bracelet, as there are subtle hints people involved in its origins may want her dead.

Even if Huiling may remained unconscious or catatonic or even have no knowledge of who these people are, they will certainly want to tie up loose ends.

At this point, Daquan was about to say something when Wanmei placed her hands on his. There was something in her eyes that spoke volumes to him.

“How is this child? Will she require anything special?” she asked.

She was still a mother after all, and this was someone’s daughter, a young child the same age as her own.

“She is still unconscious, but not because of what Xiaoxia did. It is something that have been happening for some time. There isn’t any requirements so far, but I cannot say for certain in the future,” Amelia replied.

Upon hearing this, Wanmei looked at Daquan. After a brief moment, he replied, “We accept.”

**********

A few weeks have passed since those events took place. The weather has turned colder as the orbital ring rotated and slightly increased the distance of the suns from MeisterSchloss.

(AN: The suns rotates around the world, refer to Volume 1 Chapter 2, and there are multiple suns. The Academy is within the continent city of MeisterSchloss)

The freshmen competition since ended without any hitch. The singles Champion was a Dragonian, and the team matches was won by the Academy of the Six Elements.

Xiaoxia still maintained his “ShiShou” title, but due to the circumstances, he will not defend it if challenged and will forfeit it automatically. Fortunately no one knew about this yet, hence it will still be his until that happens.

(AN: refer to Volume 1 Chapter 27 for explanation on ShiShou and the title challenge)

The advisory board have revoked Hu Yuan Imperial Academy’s rights to participate in future competitions for the next one hundred years. They found King Buhui to be guilty of falsifying the abilities of the bracelet, and bribing certain officials in the competition to cover it. These officials have been punished accordingly.

The Hu Yuan Empire in response have launched an official appealed against the decision to revoke their rights, citing King Buhui solely responsible for this disgraceful act and that it was carried out without their knowledge.

In the meantime, the investigations of who gave the bracelet to Buhui was still on going, but the lead in the hidden recordings led to nowhere and it was a dead end.

Gradually the dust began to settle after the competition, and life flowed back to normal, groups of students were bidding each other farewell. They have not survived the litmus test that was the freshmen competition and sponsors withdrew their support for the continuation of their stay at the Academy of the Six Elements.

The tuition fees were just too high, and many had to leave once this happened.

Only one group apparently were not saying their farewells, they were a group of seven freshmen who seemed engrossed in conversation. Besides a single Gold Class Ki Talent, the rest of them were in the Titled Class.

“I wonder where Xiaoxia is?” one of them ask, it was Charlotte.

“Yes I guess we all do, it’s hard to believe he kept his ‘S’ Class status a secret all these times,” Winfrey replied with some envy.

“He is really good, meow! It was amazing to see his quarter finals match! Meow!” Mingyue one of the twins excitedly said.

The others nod their heads in agreement to this. All of them had caught the broadcast of the match together in Winfrey’s dorm. It was the biggest one among them and they made a mess of it as usual, much to the chagrin of Winfrey’s personal staff.

“I daresay he would have been the Champion if that girl he met in the quarter finals did not cheat and injured him,” Corian was saying, rumors of the bracelet already begun to spread like wildfire after the match.

It was something they all felt to be true, since they viewed all Xiaoxia’s other matches as well. They could pretty much gauge when it came to the singles competition, Xiaoxia was indeed peerless.

“I wonder if we could visit him now?” it was Libby, and the others opened their eyes in amazement.

Libby never spoke up in the group, she only whispered into Charlotte’s ears whenever she had an opinion.

“Huhuhu! Seems like our dear Libby is coming out of her shell,” Charlotte impishly said, nudging Libby playfully.

At this Libby turned bright red in embarrassment, it was only known to Charlotte that she had a puppy crush on Xiaoxia.

The others in the group did not catch on to this, and her question was not answered, as their attention was directed to the approach of an Instructor walking towards them.

“There has been a challenge, you will be facing your opponents in a couple of weeks. Let’s make them regret this,” the Instructor told them, his features were hidden by a hood and only his mouth could be seen. On his cloak there was a crest with a single lightning etched over a condor, on top of it was the letter ‘W’.

“Yes Instructor!” they responded and rose up as they left the area.

A strong wind blew across the square and as their shawls fluttered in the wind, one could see a low grade Vermillion Ki Crystal of the Team Match Champion’s buttons on each of their uniforms.

(AN: team match title holders are similar to singles title holders and have same regulations for challenges, refer to chapter 27 for title and how can challenges be done)

**********

Maling was pacing furiously in his office, he was going through the information that Amelia had passed him a few weeks earlier and noticed a horrendous oversight.

It contain a few thousand pictures of children, and majority of them were already identified and what remained were only a handful. Amongst those remaining, one stood out, it was Xiaoxia’s cousin.

Menon have spread word through his network to find her a few months ago, and in Maling’s efforts to bring King Buhui secretly to the 1st colony for exile, he overlooked it.

More than two weeks ago a search of Buhui’s palace grounds revealed less than half of these children. While others were found at various locations throughout his kingdom, the total number was only a little over half of those missing.

In the preceding days, the children who were found dwindled and there was concrete evidence indicating Buhui was not working alone. This became more apparent as in certain areas, there were signs that large group of children were moved hastily.

Maling berated himself for this oversight, it caused him to miss the opportunity to inform Xiaoxia about his cousin’s whereabouts before he left.

When Amelia passed the information to him, Xiaoxia was still in the medical facility, and if Maling knew about this earlier, he could have left a note informing Xiaoxia. It would definitely have given him some closure, as long as Maling did not include what may have happened to her.

As to what have actually happened to others, Maling was still in disgust when he thought of it. Buhui not only tortured children and experimented on them, he also did the same thing to his own daughter.

Princess Huiling was starved when she was two years old, and constantly treated like a donkey after a carrot tied to a stick. By age three, the whipping began, and by age four the mental torture from sleep deprivation started.

Just before she turned five, she was suddenly shown overwhelming ‘love’ and pampered rotten, it was by then the brainwash fully came into effect. Once that happened, she was manipulated by Buhui to carry out horrid deeds to those she did not like.

Then about this time she was given the bracelet, and it honed her Ki abilities unnaturally fast. Being consumed by this power, she fell more into the mind games of Buhui, whom she thought really loved her.

Other children were not so fortunate, and many died. The older ones were experimented in other ways, and beside dying, many became mentally unstable.

Those who were going through puberty were forced to reproduced, and their newborn babies experimented on as well.

(AN: Read Volume 1 Chapter 5 for the rough age people on this world go through puberty)

It was these acts that drove Amelia to crush Buhui’s ability to have more children. He was really not fit to be a parent.

Besides these atrocities, Buhui had secretly colluded with other empires to siphon off a huge portion of wealth from the empire. He not only lined his pockets by doctoring the books, but he also gave classified information on the Hu Yuan Empire’s intelligence network to others.

Among those information, many contained top secret information privy only amongst the high ranking members of the Imperial Family. Some even contained the details of security in the Imperial City.

It was treason, regardless of who the person was. Hence it was not an issue for the Emperor to imprint his Imperial Sigil on the prism Amelia obtained.

It was a direct order to exile Buhui to the 1st colony in secrecy, under the direct purview of  Amelia. His imprisonment will be handled by Maling, who will see to his needs.

In the meantime, the Emperor’s only wish, was for Buhui not to be imprisoned like a lowly criminal, but somewhere of simple comfort which he will spend the rest of his life.

The Queen, Huiling’s mother, was stripped off her title, and ejected from the royal family. Although she did not carry out those misdeeds, she was just as guilty for not exposing Buhui.

There was still many things about the other children that are unknown, as well as the extent of Buhui’s treasonous acts which are not fully uncovered. With this Maling headed to where Buhui was.

The Emperor only expressed not to imprison Buhui like a lowly criminal, but it did not forbade them from torturing him for more information. If torture was forbidden, it would have been clearly stated.

“I do hope he tells me everything before it is too late,” Maling said to himself, as he activated a personal spatial transportation device and vanished.

**********

Instructor Wei was looking at the training nonchalantly, it was a general class containing about 20 odd freshmen. They were going through the motions in simulated battle.

It has been 7 weeks now, and she still missed her only disciple. Although she had never shown or spoken about it, she have grown fond of him and somehow felt there was a connection that would last for ages.

“Cousin!” a voice called out from behind her.

It was Brum, a distant cousin. He is younger than her by more than a thousand years, and often disappeared from the Academy whenever he felt like it. However he was not a bad boy, and she could have a decent conversation with him, unlike her own brother.

“Damn, starting to miss that idiot brother as well,” Instructor Wei mumbled under her breath, somehow missing Jay who vanished with Xiaoxia.

“What was that?” Brum asked cheerfully.

“Nothing, and what brings you here cuz?” Instructor Wei asked, it was not often Brum would approach her if he had nothing in mind.

“Oh it was something I wanted to discuss with you and bro,” Brum smiled.

“He is not here and I have no idea where that idiot went,” Instructor Wei replied.

“Relax sis! It doesn’t matter, I have a great proposition for you!” Brum exclaimed excitedly and added, “How would like to help train the match team champions?”

Instructor Wei looked up at Brum, not sure if he was serious or not. She guessed he should have known by now Xiaoxia was her disciple, but even then he should know she did not simply accept taking on new students to personally train.

“No, I just lost my disciple, so just leave me alone,” Instructor Wei dismissed his offer.

“Oh so it’s true! Come on sis, just have a look,” Brum stuffed her hands with a few printouts, as he said that.

Everyone started looking for Xiaoxia, after the announcer during the semi-finals have regrettably informed the crowd he forfeited the match. The search was fuelled by his massive fan base of over zealous females, who wanted to know what happened. It lead to many rumors and soon news got out he was missing.

Instructor Wei was about to hand back the printouts, when she noticed a girl’s face on one of them. It looked very familiar, and out of curiosity she started reading the details.

Her name was Charlotte, and Instructor Wei finally remembered her to be a friend whom Xiaoxia have told her before. Back then, Charlotte was a Duelist Realm 2nd Tier and Xiaoxia had claimed her to be competent against a humanoid being. She lost that match due to the inability to continue.

What was interesting is that this girl is now Duelist Realm 4th Tier, she had progressed rapidly by two tiers in just a span of 7 weeks.

(AN: refer to Volume 1 Chapter 24 for reference when Instructor Wei came to know about Charlotte)

“Come on sis, if we can help them maintain Champion status in this Academy for another eight years, we will be rich!” Brum was smiling from ear to ear excitedly.

While he was a little immature, and just Ki Grandmaster Lower Realm, but he did just managed to grab the contract of the ‘Freshmen Team Match Champions’.

If he could help them win all their challenges before they graduate at age 15, the Academy will award their Instructor/Mentor with a huge bonus.

(AN: they are currently 7 years old)

Instructor Wei’s sullen expression perked up suddenly upon hearing the word ‘rich’, that and the fact one of the girls was someone her disciple knew and praised, immediately changed her mind.

“So when do we start?” she asked.

**********

Days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to months, and months turned to years. Soon the events of the past were forgotten by many, except those who were personally involved.

Brooding silently, Maling was looking at the main world in the sky. It is now seven years after that incident at the Academy of the Six Elements, Buhui have endured the tortures for the initial few days, but eventually spilled his guts. However it was too late by then, and the information all lead to dead ends.

Even seven years later, nothing new came out of it. No more children were found, the last they managed to find was already more than 3 years ago.

He still could not find those in cahoots with Buhui, thus still could not find the remaining children. It also meant he could not find Xiaoxia’s cousin who still remained missing.

In his hands was a printout containing more disturbing news, they have finally found Xiaoxia’s uncle Wanliang and his family, and further investigation lead to Wanliang admitting selling Xiuxiu to someone.

In exchange for selling Xiuxiu, Wanliang and the rest of the family were offered a tremendous bribe and moved to the main world.


At around same time, over in Crescent Lake, Amelia was just about done on the report Maling had sent her. She shook her head in disbelieve, how can there be parents like these living in the world.

Seven years ago, she thought she would never meet another, but she was proven wrong.

Maling had requested to bring Wanliang and family back to the 1st colony, in order to question them. It was possible they could identify the person they sold Xiaoxia’s cousin to.

This would help make some leeway into the now cold investigation of finding the syndicate who tortures and experimented on children.

She placed the report down and pressed a button on her desk, within moments a young man appeared.

“Shi Min, I need you to expedite this request for me, treat it with the utmost urgency,” Amelia told her quartermaster.

“Yes Your Royal Grace,” Shi Min bowed.

“You may leave,” she waved her hands.

As soon as he left, she got up from her chair and prepared to leave Crescent Lake. Today was a scheduled day for her to visit Huiling.

Huiling was at Daquan and Wanmei’s place, they have been caring for her these past seven years. The couple themselves were fine, and Amelia spoke with them on a regular basis over the spatial communication device.

“That poor girl, I wonder when will she ever wake up,” Amelia sighed deeply as she took out her HG PTD.

(AN: refer to compendium under spatial devices for the meaning of these acronym)

**********

As he floated while looking over the vast seas, a familiar smell filled his nostrils. It was from the blast of salty sea air in his face, one he missed since he left MeisterSchloss seven years ago.

He was rather tall for his age, standing almost a little under eight feet. The device under his shoes hummed quietly as he started to dart across the sky enjoying the refreshing sea air.

Most of his past seven years were spent in the middle of the forest, while it was calm and soothing, the perfect environment to train in, it somehow did not contained the excitement that is the sea.

He marveled at the waves as they crashed ceaselessly on the shoreline. Each wave rose over thirty feet in height before crashing down in a loud boom over the rocks.

Soon he spotted a tiny fishing village, a few fisherman were returning from their morning routes.

“Look a flying man!” one of them shouted.

The device he was using was rarely used anywhere else in the world, and only used widely in MeisterSchloss.

As he got closer to the village, it created a commotion, as more people pop out of their huts to see what it was about.

“I don’t think it’s a man, he looks too young,” another said, just as the flying man landed in the middle of the village.

“Well lets agree to disagree, he is ‘not a boy, not yet a man’,” yet another replied.

As the flying man disengaged the device’s harness, he looked at the people in the village and introduced himself.

“Hello everyone, I am Xiaoxia, is there any fishes you can sell me,” Xiaoxia asked with a wide smile.

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