Er Leng Zi opened his two eyes wide, and looked straight at the sogon grass and mud roof over his head. Over his body was an old dark yellow quilt. The original color of the quilt was no longer discernable, but it emitted a faint moldy smell.
By his side was his second brother, Han Zhu, soundly asleep. At times he heard varying sounds coming from him as he slept.
About a meter and a half away from the bed was a yellow dirt wall. Because the wall was so old, it had begun to crumble. There was already a thin crack running through a small hole. From this hole there was the faint sound of gossiping and complaining from the village’s housewives. Every so often a male voice would break in, followed by the sound of the inhaling and exhaling of a tobacco pipe.
Er Leng Zi slowly shut his eyes and forced himself to go back to sleep. In his heart he was earnestly trying to fall asleep. If he was unable to get up early, then he would also be unable to get up to help his comrades climb the mountain and gather firewood.
Er Leng Zi’s family name was Han and his first name was Li. This was such a serious name, his parents did not come up with his name. His father used two grains of rice to try and come up with a name with divination. But they ended up going with name Village Head Zhang picked.
Village Head Zhang, when he was younger, had spent several years in a city attending school. Here he learned many words that could be used as names, and as such many of the children in the village were named by him.
Within the village Han Li was called “Er Leng Zi”. (TL: Leng Zi Meaning dolt or retard) Not because he was silly, but because he was second to none within the village. Outside of his house he rarely hears his name, “Han Li”, but rather, “Er Leng Zi”, “Er Leng Zi”, and as such the name as always stuck with him, even to this day.
And the only reason why they called him “Er Leng Zi” was because the village already had one “Leng Zi.” (TL: Er meaning two) Wow, they call him second retard cause there already is one…)
In the village there were children that had other nicknames like “Baby Dog” or “Stupid Egg” and such. But those names didn’t quite sound as good as “Er Leng Zi.”
Thus, though Han Li didn’t quite like the nickname, he didn’t complain.
Han Li’s appearance was nothing remarkable, having dark skin and coming from a common peasant family. But compared to his peers, he was much more mature. He yearned to see the flourishing and beautiful outside world. And he dreamed that one day he could move out of this palm sized village. So he frequently tried to persuade the village head to let him see the world.
Han Li was the only one to have this way of thinking, and of course he tried not to let other people know. If they knew, they would surely be stunned. One wimpy brat, not even weaned off his mother milk, unexpectedly has this big of a dream, one that not even a grown man would lightly have. All the other people in the village would not even think about leaving, for the life of chasing chickens and dogs was enough for them. To them this was truly a queer dream.
Han Li’s family had seven people in it, including his two elder brothers, one elder sister, and one younger sister. In his family, he was the fourth oldest and was ten this year. His family life was destitute but honest. For a year, his family had went without eating any meat or fish, but his family had just enough clothing and food for them to manage.
Right now, Han Li was just in between asleep and not asleep. Then he mentally slapped himself. He had almost forgotten; he had to pick some red berries for his beloved younger sister.
The next day at noon, Han Li was painfully sweating in the blazing sun, on his back a half of a stack of firewood. The sack on his bosom however was filled with red berries. When he was coming home, he did not realize that there were some people at his house that would change his destiny forever.
This honored guest was someone who was closely related to him by blood. It was his third uncle.
Rumors said that in the vicinity was a restaurant. And at this restaurant there was a shopkeeper who was known as an almighty person. In the past 100 years, the Han Family had never had as much status as this third uncle.
When Han Li was younger, he had met this third uncle a few times. His elder brother lived at the city walls and worked as a blacksmith’s apprentice. This third uncle introduced him to the job. Han Li’s parents often relied on him for food, and he also took care of the family. As such, Han Li’s impression towards his third uncle was pretty good. Hearing that his parents said nothing, he didn’t either but he appreciated his uncle in his mind.
But his older brother, having love for his family, as a blacksmith’s apprentice, not only took care of his own living expenses but also sent back thirty copper every month. When he becomes a full fledged blacksmith, he will have the chance to make even more money.
Whenever his parents mentioned his eldest brother, they would almost glow with happiness. Han Li was the same. Although Han Li was young, he greatly admired the job that his eldest brother did. Even as a small town blacksmith’s apprentice, that position was still to be fancied. And that work as a craftsman was a respectable way to earn one’s meal.
So when Han Li saw his third uncle’s fancy satin clothes, round healthy face, and small beard, he couldn’t help but get excited.
He put the firewood back down behind the house and went back to where his third uncle was. He obediently said, “Hello, third uncle,”. He smiled and went to stand by his parents while they were chatting to his third uncle.
His third uncle smiled at him, looked at him, and praised, “What an intelligent and obedient child.” And at once he suddenly switched topics, explaining his true purpose in coming to Han Li’s parents.
Han Li was still young and as such could not completely understand this third uncle. But he could still understand the general reason.
Originally, this third uncle’s restaurant was taken over, and the area became known as “Seven Mysteries Sect” as those people claimed it as their own. This Sect had both an outer and inner sect, and not too long ago this third uncle became an outer sect disciple. He was then tasked to find some seven to twelve year olds to go through the inner sect recruitment process.
These children will be the first to participate in the Seven Mysteries sect’s inner disciple selection. This testing will begin next month. And when asked to find disciples for this test, the third uncle thought of Han Li.
Han Li’s father listened patiently before hearing “Martial World” and “Sect” and such other terms he had never heard before. In his heart he was somewhat hesitant to decide, so he picked up his tobacco pipe and took a puff. He smacked his lips before resolutely sitting down, not saying a single word.
In this third uncle’s words, this Seven Mysteries Sect was the only one in hundreds of miles, but was still one of the best.
If Han Li became an inner disciple member, he would not only get to study martial arts but also no longer worry about food costs. Not only this but every month they would give him some silver to spend. Even if he failed the test, he could still become an outer sect disciple and handle the sects outer affairs, like his third uncle does.
Hearing the part about silver, as well the possibility that Han Li could attain the status of his third uncle, Han Li’s father caved in and agreed.
This third uncle, hearing Han Li’s father agree, was in a very good mood. He then left behind a hundred grams of silver as a reminder to bring Han Li to the test. And then he told them to give Han Li a lot of good food so he can prepare his body for the test. After that, his third uncle pat Han Li on the head and returned to the city.
Although Han Li didn’t understand everything, he understood that by going he could earn a lot of money.
Now that Han Li could have his desires fulfilled, he was so excited he couldn’t sleep for a few days.
And in a month, Han Li’s third uncle came back right on time to take Han Li to the city. As they were leaving Han Li’s father ordered Han Li to in the future behave righteously, be peaceful, and to never fight with others. His mother reminded him to take care of his health by eating well and resting.
Seeing his mother and father fade away in the distance, Han Li couldn’t help but bite his lip and restrain himself from crying out. An unnoticed teardrop fell from the corner of his eye.
Although for his age he was very mature, he was still just a child in the end. This was the first time he had left home and as such he was sad and hesitant. But in his heart he was resolute; once he could make a lot of money and come back, he would never part with his parents ever again.
Han Li was unaware that, soon in the future, money would lose its meaning to him, and that he was embarking on a different path. An immortal’s path. This trip was the first step he would take on an immortal’s long road.