Chapter 8: Weird

Xiaoxia stood silent as he listened to Amelia and Maling’s conversation. He somehow felt small and inconspicuous in their presence. At the same time noticing Amelia’s aura was comparable to Maling’s.

However when Amelia had noticed him earlier. She had thought that Xiaoxia was Maling’s squire in attendance and didn’t think of it much even as she sent off her personnel.

“Young friend, just who may you be?” Amelia asked warmly, taking a motherly tone to Xiaoxia.

“Young one greets her Royal grace, my name is Chen Zhen Xia and I am from Black Iron Anvil Village” Xiaoxia replied.

“Ooh, Brother Ling it is not like to you to pick up kids and move around.” Amelia look at Maling with a questioning look then turned back to look at Xiaoxia, maternal instincts abound.

“Ah sorry about my manners, I chance upon an anomaly during a Ki talent ceremony and it happens this young friend is the root of it, he is now in my care” Maling candidly replied.

“What anomaly?” Amelia looked interested, turning back to Maling.

“He apparently caused a measuring device to fail, as this device that was used in other communities with no problems, we could only surmise it was an inherent fault or his Ki talent overwhelmed it. However to be prudent I have brought him here instead of waiting for a replacement, who knows if his Ki talent is really overwhelming, another device will be damaged” Maling truthfully replied.

“Overwhelming Ki talent? Never heard of it, even Special class Ki talent children couldn’t damage a device” Amelia said skeptically, turning back again towards Xiaoxia with a warm look.

“Well devices are really expensive and there is no way my office could replace one on a whim easily” Maling kind of objected.

“Doesn’t matter, I will arrange for my people to bring one over now” Amelia activated something on her throne, and within the next breathe a relatively young man appeared and knelt while cupping his hands towards Amelia.

“Your Royal Grace, as you summoned”

“Shi Min, this is Viscount Ma of Scarlet Condor Province, recently promoted and his young friend Xiaoxia, they have a matter that requires immediate attention, please bring the Ki talent device to this meeting hall as soon as possible” Amelia gave the order.

“Yes your Royal Grace” Shi Min still knelt cupping his hand and then turned to Maling.

“Congratulations my Lord on your promotion, I have long heard of your exploits since I was born” Shi Min said, then he turned back to Amelia.

“If I may so leave your Royal Grace” Shi Min still kneeling asked.

Amelia waved once and Shi Min hurriedly shuffled out of the meeting hall.

“Splendid young man you have there, Fan Ren?” Maling asked.

“Yes and a rather capable one at that, he have reached Ki Master Realm Lower Tier, and only in his early twenties, he is my quartermaster” Amelia informed Maling.

“Ah a genius among Fan Ren! It is such pity they are a short lived race, only the past legends in Fan Ren history could live beyond 500 years old, sadly not one has been discovered in the past era” Maling sadly shook his head.

**********

Most races in Yuan Zhong have a peak age, however with each breakthrough in Ki realm, their lives extend by a proportional amount. The reason Maling and Amelia look younger than they should.

The biggest jump is between Ki Grandmaster and unknown realm, it takes a tremendous amount of effort and resources as well as an innate understanding of one’s abilities to break through this realm.

The reward for accomplishing this effort is well worth anything else, as it significantly increases a person’s life expectancy by many folds. On top of this their Ki stamina increases by leaps and bounds and many who achieved this have developed their own unique skills and abilities.

This was the Holy Grail especially for the Fan Ren who were the shortest lived race in Yuan Zhong. Within the hundred thousand year history of Yuan Zhong, there were Fan Ren who achieved the unknown realm and lived till about 500 years, and the very rare occasion where some even lived for more than an era.

But its effects were greater for higher ranked races, who lived easily over an era when they broke through this realm.

There were many well known individuals from the higher ranked races who have achieved Ki Grandmaster Expert realm and have their names recorded in their empires annals. Unfortunately many lived out theirs lives at this level.

In official recorded history, the total number of those in the unknown realms only numbered slightly above 20,000 across all races. An insignificant number compare to the quadrillions of inhabitants living today.

**********

Without needing to wait long, Shi Min reappeared with an entourage carrying a big trunk. The trunk was 5 feet high and 7 feet wide with a depth of 4 feet. It was transported on a floating platform. Around it were members of the Imperial guards who guarded Amelia.

“Your Royal Grace” Shi Min called out, and knelt in front of Amelia, all the other knelt in unison as well.

“Bring out the device and prime it” Amelia ordered.

As they begun to remove all the clasps as well as restrains on the chest, a large object appeared.

It did not even bear any resemblance to the one used to measure Ki talent in Xiaoxia’s town. That was a small portable device and this was many times bigger than it.

As the device was being assembled, many contraptions could be seen being inserted in a myriad of spots on it.

“Your Royal Grace! Am I actually seeing this?” Maling let out a whistle of amazement. Falling back to honorifics in the presence of Amelia’s subordinates.

“Hahaha! Of course, I am after all the most precious great granddaughter of the Imperial Emperor” Amelia laughed as she haughtily replied.

“Your Royal Grace, Lord Maling, sorry for my interruption may I ask what is it?” Xiaoxia was a little confused.

Even before Amelia had a chance to reply, Maling answered him,

“Young friend, even if I only heard of it, it is clear to me what we are seeing here is the latest line of Ki talent measuring device, its efficiency and capabilities far outstrips the one in the Imperial Capital, even though it is made of lower grade materials. However it is just as valuable, due to the astronomical difficulties to produce one! In fact the entire Yuan Zhong only has less than 30 of them and…”

“And they could succinctly measure not only your Ki talent but suggest as to which path you should take in life” Amelia cut in, a little annoyed with Maling for answering before her.

“Path in life?” Xiaoxia asked.

“If I may?, I have more experience in this compare to your Royal Grace who only have one path” Maling, smiled his most charming smile at Amelia, knowing she was annoyed when he answered before her earlier.

Amelia nodded for him to carry on, a little frustrated, but knew very well that , Maling in comparison has more experience in matters pertaining to life choices.

“Young friend Xia, do you know what the difference is between Ki Realms and Professions, as well as the talent measuring system?” Maling asked.

“Yes my Lord, I learnt this from my parents”

“Good so I will skip that part. Let me quote one right from experience. For example there is no measuring system for military strategists, no doubt Hu Yuan Empire’s top Field Marshals and Generals all have Ki realms mere mortals are not capable of, majority of them do not excel in war time strategy. It is not to say they are idiots or anything, but as compared to our top military strategists, they really pale in comparison”   Maling cast a quick mischievous smirk at Amelia when he said the last sentence.

Amelia could only roll her eyes as Maling continued.

“Moreover, do you think that there are measuring systems for being street smart with good instincts?” Maling asked.

Xiaoxia thought for a moment and shook his head.

“Correct! You may be the smartest person in one of the finest academies, brought up in the highest standards of chivalry. But when chucked unto the streets with nothing but your wits, you would not be able to survive. On the other hand a person who doesn’t have the education or standards of chivalry, but is street smart with good instincts will survive without a problem”

“But Lord Maling, is there a path for a street smart person?” Xiaoxia asked.

“Yes there is, any empire has a need for such people especially when it comes to monitoring their neighbors.  There are even a few street smart people in very high station who have helped the Empire avoid disaster.” Maling replied and continued,

“At the end of the day, this are but just two examples, there are many other paths that does not correlate with the interest of the empire, many may be of personal benefits or even beneficial to a community or your family. The rare ones are those that can benefit the world” he added and still continued,

“In the past it was not a simple process, talents in such areas were not easy to come by, and many have been overlooked. However with this new measuring device it have made it easier, from what I heard, there are plans to make more portable versions for lighter use similar to the size of the devices used in Black Iron” Maling ended his explanation while looking at the device, with a profound look of respect.

Xiaoxia nodded and went back to looking at the device, assembly was now almost complete, and they only needed to prime the device before it can be activated.

His heart jumped when he saw them taking out a Ki crystal, it was this size of a man’s head, and the one he used was only 2 inches in diameter. This Ki crystal was also a few ranks higher than the azure crystal, it was incandescent vermillion with red tendrils of energy surrounding it. Even where he was standing he could feel its aura.

Even Maling was looking at it in appreciation, in fact everyone was, with the exception of Amelia who had a nonchalant attitude.

Once the crystal was place in the device, Amelia approached and placed her right hand on the device and it suddenly came to life.

“Without the touch of someone approved by the Emperor, this device will never activate” she explained and continued,

“Come young friend, step over here” she beckoned to Xiaoxia gently.

Xiaoxia obediently took a few steps and stood on the dais.

As he stood there he could feel a rush of energy in his surroundings, and it circulated his entire being. He felt the energy coming from the machine and interacted with his Ki center. The sensation of floating took over, and then it suddenly just stopped.

Thinking it was another failure, he quickly looked at Amelia and Maling, but they were not looking at him, but at the hologram on the console of the device.

“Weird” both of them said in unison.

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