Xiaoxia looked out the window of his room, the sky was clear and he could see the 3 moons in the sky above, he could also see the Kraken Ocean on the main world, in fact the main world covered half the expanse of the sky.
Xiaoxia is now 5 years old, he could not remember his past life as Long. All he could remember was opening his eyes to see his mother and father, and the kiss they have while he was in his mother’s arm.
He could also remember the time at the smithy’s where he had mimicked his father’s actions on trying to temper a shape out of hot alloy. Only that turned out to be a disaster, as he did not know what he was doing or how to properly use the equipment.
Since then, he had learnt the language fluently. As well as been taught by his parents on how to cultivate Ki.
He learnt that both his parents were Adept Realm Expert Tier for a long time now, and could not break into the next realm. Also they have successfully opened ¼ of their meridians and were able to reinforce their bodies with Ki.
However since he was very young, his parents only taught him how to cultivate Ki at his Ki center. As Ki reinforcement stunted the growth of children below 7 years old.
Xiaoxia was aware that many people in the Black Iron Anvil Village view him as a genius amongst genius.
They marveled at his intelligence, being able to walk and talk at 7 months as well as lift the 50 catty Myalithium hammer without even having any Ki.
Xiaoxia could be said to be a true genius.
In fact Xiaoxia knew from observing other children that he was not normal. He could easily understand as well as undertake tasks his peers were not able to do.
Rather unbeknownst to him or anyone else, Xiaoxia was born with a very special trait. So rare that it can be compared to finding that proverbial elusive sand on the beach a thousand leagues wide.
Even when Long’s soul entered this vessel, he did not phantom the miracle that was the creation of this body.
However Xiaoxia was not wondering about it, in fact he was looking forward to meet his cousin Xiuxiu.
“Xia di!” shouted Xiuxiu.
“Hello Xiu jie!!” Xiaoxia replied with a ear to ear grin. He like to accompany his cousin, it was never boring.
Xiuxiu at once took a liking to Xiaoxia when he was born, she treated him like a precious baby doll. Over time she was amazed by his capacity to learn and apply what he learnt, as well as his physical prowess. This made life easier for her when required to do menial task by her parents, task that should be done by household staff which they had in abundance.
Xiaoxia had no other relatives, besides Xiuxiu’s family from his mother’s side. Xiaoxia’s maternal grandparents disappeared once his uncle and mother had entered adulthood and his mum never spoke about them.
Xiaoxia’s father was the youngest sole survivor of the well-known Chen clan who had once been given the title “Imperial Blacksmith” catering only to the Imperial family. He was too young to join the war effort against the Empire’s enemies, and the entire Chen clan of over a few thousand members perished when their base was destroyed.
The only other that were close, were the Ling clan. Ling Han Wei was the Captain of the 3rd Imperial Calvary who took Daquan into his care. He was close to Daquan’s father and the Chen clan during the war. He was also a Sha Mo Ren, and currently around 300 years old.
He visited Xiaoxia’s family every year and was the key person in helping Daquan revive the Chen clan’s blacksmith legacy. It has been a while since he visited.
Since visitors to the Chen family were very few and in between, Xiaoxia usually spend each day either cultivating his Ki or expanding his knowledge learning the blacksmith trade or town administration.
Otherwise he looked forward to meeting his cousin in the town square and today was that day.
Xiuxiu was a girl of 7 years, with two pigtails and currently taller than Xiaoxia. Xiaoxia’s parents treated her like a daughter and frequently gave her presents. Xiaoxia also treated Xiuxiu with fondness, she was the closest family around the same age.
What the Chen family trio was really happy at that moment was her really good results in the recent Ki talent ceremony. Apparently Xiuxiu’s Ki talent is rated at Gold 1st Tier, which is as high as it gets in Black Iron Anvil Village. She is on par with the highest ever recorded.
Xiuxiu had two older brothers who were 10 and 11 years old now, the Chen side of the family did not really like them. They were stuck up and held their noses high in the air. It was only due to Wanmei who had married Daquan that Wanliang (Wanmei’s brother) got a certain position of power in Black Iron Anvil Village.
Xiaoxia felt they were douche bags, as they had never treat Xiuxiu well. They also return yearly on academic breaks will full of pomp and pride, as they were the “upper” students in the school.
They also never ceased to rub in to all the other kids in town that their Ki talents were both Silver 8th Tier, the highest ever for almost 50 years.
Since they were now in school, they have not heard the news. Xiaoxia can’t wait to look at their faces when they found out about Xiuxiu’s Ki talent.
Three main system exist in Yuan Zhong, they are Profession classifications, Ki talent and Ki realms.
Professions are grade according to their proficiency in their area of expertise. Certain professions requires Ki, e.g. Blacksmiths. While others like Merchants do not. Each area of expertise has their own specific criteria to upgrade to the next level.
Ki talent, is a system of potential. The growth potential as well as speed of growth. For example with no Ki talent, the person could only achieve max of mid tier apprentice Ki Realm when they graduate, and perhaps not even reach Duelist Intermediate Realm before they pass on, whereas a Gold Ki talent could reach Adept Ki Realm when they graduate and be in MasterExpert Ki Realm before they passed on.
Ki realms, is basically a measure of an individual’s strength. Caste system exist visibly from towns with more than half a million populations onward (Tier 7+). Districts in these towns are segregated according to Ki realms enforced by walls and checkpoints, however if one have sufficient Profession class they could also access these areas.
Lower Tiered communities have the same caste system, but since erecting walls and creating checkpoints will take a large part of their budget, it is loosely enforced, as compared to the bigger cities who could afford it.
“Xiu jie, what shall we do today?” Xiaoxia still grinning as his cousin approached.
Xiaoxia knows his aunt and uncle were bias against Xiuxiu, she was a female and could not carry on their Wan family name. Moreover they were rather irked that her two brothers whom they have pampered spoilt are ranked lower than her for their Ki talents.
“Oh Xia di, my father asked me to fill up 10 vats of water today.”
“What?” Xiaoxia exclaimed frowning.
1 vat was 3 feet high with a diameter of 2 feet. It was around 9 cubic feet of water. The bucket that was given to Xiuxiu could contain only at most 1 cubic feet of water. To make matters worse, the nearest well in the desert was half a league away, making a round trip 1 league.
“Xiu jie, how can they do this to you? It will require you no less than 90 round trips to fill up the 10 vats.” Xiaoxia was upset at seeing Xiuxiu being treated like this.
“Ah Xia di, it is ok. It will stop once school starts in 2 months, besides I can take it as a form of training” Xiuxiu replied with a big smile.
“Want me to help?”
Between sleep, meals and lots of talking, it took them more than a week to fill up the 10 vats.
Soon the days passed as Xiaoxia did Ki cultivation. His Ki reservoir was not big and only understandable due to his young age.
But according to Ki lore, with proper Ki cultivation, regardless of age, it can grow. Therefore, Xiaoxia is determined to achieve a larger Ki reservoir.
Sooner than expected, the time for Xiuxiu to leave for Black Iron Regional School arrived, and with tears in Xiaoxia’s eyes he bade farewell to his cousin.
“Oh Xia di, you must achieve good Ki cultivation and join me in 2 years” Xiuxiu spoke with tears as well.
“I definitely will Xiu jie!! When I do I will protect you!!”
“Haha, I sure hope so! Bye Xia di, remember to work hard and take care!” with a wave of her hands, Xiuxiu entered the spatial transportation device.
The spatial transportation device blinked once and went dark. It made travelling throughout the Hu Yuan Empire a simple task. Even though Black Iron Regional School was in the same region as the town Xiuxiu was in, it was actually 4651 leagues away. Black Iron region in itself was 20,000 leagues wide as well as long, and considered only one of the medium size provinces in Hu Yuan 1st colony.
Xiaoxia turned around, as he left the vicinity of the spatial transportation device, he felt a little emptiness. However it only made him more determined to improve himself before joining the school.
He understood school life from the conversation he had with other residence in the village, and knew that even with a meritocratic environment, the strong always ganged up to bully the weak. Even though he did not view Xiuxiu as weak, he was sure being from a lowly 5th tier village, she would be bullied or in a position where others from higher tiered communities will look down on her.
Her two brothers were snobbish douchebags who treated her like a servant whenever they returned from school during the week long breaks between academic years.
So from the day he learnt about Xiuxiu’s situation, he wanted to protect her even from her own family. For him to do that, he needed to gain strength, it was the law of the jungle in the world of Yuan Zhong.
Besides titles, money or influence, everyone respected absolute strength the most.