Prologue- A black cloth
Fan Shen had difficulty keeping his eyes open, using his fingers he tried to count how many meaningful things he had done in his life. But after looking at his right hand whose five fingers were as thin as chopsticks, with a sad sigh, he decided to give up.
The sick ward contained the pungent smell of drugs that perpetually irritated the nose. Only two days prior, the old gentleman on the bed next to him had reported to Ksitigarbha bodhisattva* and in a few days it would probably be his turn. For he had a strange disease, myasthenia gravis**, which was particularly suited for the hero of a romance novel.
There is no medical cure, he clearly knew that there will be a day when he can no longer move and only his tears may flow.
(*Old man died-Ksitigarbha bodhisattva greatest Vow being: “If I do not go to the hell to help the suffering beings there, who else will go? …
**Translates to “grave muscle weakness” it is where the muscles degenerate until it loses function)
“But I am not a hero from some romance novel,” Fan Shen muttered, but because he lost mobility of his jaw muscles only vague whispers sounded out. He looked at his middle finger, sympathizing with himself, “I am still a Virgin.”
He really hadn’t done anything meaningful in his life, besides helping old ladies cross the road or onto the seat of a bus, living in harmony with his neighbors, and even helping students cheat in exams…
Fan Shen, in the traditional sense was good but useless. His parents died early, leaving him alone in the hospital, waiting for the arrival of the day that his life would end.
“Good people do not have good endings.”
During that lonesome clear night, Fan Shen feels his throat muscles slowly relax, his lungs losing its elasticity, like a rubber band transforming into a flat tile. He doesn’t know where that cute young nurse went, instead there was an aunty droning on in a verbose manner about something with compassion.
“Is this… dying?”
For fear of death and desiring the taste of life, his mind became unprecedentedly complex with mixed emotions, for in his heart he had hoped for the lovable young nurse to be by his side, but this woman, no doubt only added more melancholy. His miserable mournful state was closely related to his eyes drooping to look at the black cloth covering the wards window, blocking his view of the sky*.
(*in the raws it says sunlight, but previously it states that it is currently night- so I’m not sure if the woman chattered on all night or is it part of the symbolism- take it as you will)
He thought, “life is as lonely as dog shit!”
Feeling pitiful, a drop of liquid slipped from the corner of his eye.
Fan Shen sorrowfully licked the tear from the corner of his lips, but was actually surprised to discover his tears were not only salty but had a fishy smell- was it because he rarely bathed in the hospital, so that even his tears smell? He could not help but angrily curse in his heart, “Who told you to have tears streaming down your face! Do you really think you’re some actor in a romance movie?”
But he soon discovered that something was amiss, how could his tongue stretch out to his lips and lick his tears? According to the doctor, his tongue had already lost all mobility, now the only role it has is that it can easily slide into the esophagus and block his respiratory tract, making him a rare genius who could commit suicide by swallowing his own tongue.
It was then that he found it easier to open his eyes, his sight was far better even in comparison to before he got sick- his view was clear, only shielded by the bamboo strips before him.
Fan Shen who was originally in a daze suddenly moved away from the bamboo strips. For between the cracks he was shocked to see a dozen men completely dressed in black and armed with sharp weapons brimming with killing intent- headed straight towards him! He had no time to distinguish whether it was a dream or not; feeling on the verge of death he subconsciously did what any normal person would and shielded his head with his hands in an ostrich position.
“Chiiiiiiii”… Countless sounds arose from objects tearing through the sky, echoing a battle of life and death.
Immediately sounds of groans followed, only to be consumed by silence. In that moment, Fan Shen felt something was wrong, carefully parting two fingers that covered his face he silently peaked out through the gaps in between the woven bamboo basket. Several corpses lay motionless on the ground where streams of blood continue to flow and that fishy pungent smell permeates the air up to the heavens.
Fan Shen was terrified, seeing it felt all too real- making it hard for his soul to remain calm. Shortly thereafter, he suddenly thought of his own hands; his hands could also move? Was his sickness cured? Is it because of the present situation? Or is he only dreaming? After waking up, will he still lay immobile from his disease- only waiting uselessly for death?
If that is really true, than it is better to stay in this dream where he can move his hand and blink, rather than waking up. He felt sad thinking this; feeling frustrated he wiped away at his damp face. When he finally looks at his hand it is covered in blood, what he had originally thought was a tear that trickled down the side of his face was actually someone’s blood. Fan Shen blankly stares at his own hands, whilst wildly shouting in his heart, “these are definitely not my hands!”
In front of him was a pair of white, cute little hands, which were dyed with blood, it looked like a scene of a charmingly sly Asura blooming in a white lotus. Besides no adult should have such small hands!
The year celebrated was the 57th of the Qing Calendar. That year the Emperor made his decision to lead a punitive expedition to attack the western barbarians, but the war had yet to bear any fruit. The Count of the Southern land* was currently at His Majesty’s service whilst the capital was governed by the Great Empress Dowager and the High Councils.
(*I want to keep all the names and terminology the same as the previous translations)
On this day, the Villa of Serenity situated outside of the capital, by the riverbanks of the Flowing-Crystal Creek, caught fire. A group of assassins by the cover of night and using the fires intensity began to kill everyone on sight, they began a massacre.
A young servant of the villa carried the young master out that night, killing his way through a tight encirclement. The enemies clad in black, pursued them to south of the capital at the cost of many of their own. The assassins had not thought that this disabled youth would be unfathomably strong. Soon from behind the hills came reinforcements for the young master- and these reinforcements were even more terrifying than that youth!
“The Dark Riders!” lamented the assassins as arrows rained down forming a bloodbath below.
The reinforcements were mounted soldiers wearing armor made of black metal that reflected the heavenly moonlight; its luster was said to come from the devouring of immortal souls. In the army only a few talented squadrons were permitted such good quality crossbows, but every one of the Dark Riders had such a crossbow, as they are skilled such that the majority are shot dead by their arrows.*
(*I was tempted to say that each arrow shot would ensure a kill)
The Dark Riders formation surrounded and protected their center. For in the center sat a middle age man in a chariot*. He had a thin sparse beard and a pale ash grey complexion. He watched the scene below, especially the individual youngster that was carrying on his back the burden of the young master, nodding in understanding he claps his hands.
(*a horse drawn vehicle- but he can see the battlefield so I wrote chariot)
This clap was their signal to attack!
Immediately the Dark Riders divide from the main formation and head out to attack, the shape resembling that of a scythe in the dark night.
Ruthlessly colliding with the wounded enemies, the amount of death steadily decreases the enemy ranks. Suddenly a gap is made in the enemy lines for their wizard, he lifts up a wand and begins to chant an incantation. The people below begin to feel the energy fluctuating as it starts to converge in the center of the field. The middle aged man begins to frown at the scene below but remains still, besides him a shadow of darkness leaps up at an incredible speed just like falcon in the night sky.
The sound of chanting stops as a head fly’s high in the sky, blood showering down like rain.
Dozens of solemn Dark Riders confirm the surrounding are secure with a right fist hand signal, all the enemies have been eliminated. The Dark Riders split as they make way for the horse drawn chariot which slowly makes its way towards the young servant. The middle aged man with the assistance of a subordinate sits on a wheelchair. The middle age man moves himself slowly towards the young servant who remains as sharp as a spear. As he approaches he glances at the bamboo basket the youth has been carrying, his pale face flushes with a trace of red.
“Fortunately a disaster has been avoided.”
The youth that was carrying the bamboo basket had his face covered by a black cloth and held a black object similar to but not quite a double edged sword. Blood of the enemies continuously trickled off his blade to the side where the corpses lay. These assassins had residue blood spots on their throats, each a fatal wound.
‘I demand an explanation for the current situation.’ The youth whose face was covered, coldly spoke. His voice was emotionless without trembling
The middle aged man in the wheelchairs face softened for a moment before it was hidden: “I will naturally give you an explanation, but I must first give one to my Lord.”
He nodded, his face covered with the black cloth and turned to leave. “Where can you take this child?” The middle aged man coldly questioned. “You are a blind person, do you really wish for the young master to roam the world with you.”
“This is Her Ladyship’s flesh and blood.”
“This is also the flesh and blood of His Lordship!” The middle aged man in the wheelchair coldly rebuked. “I guarantee that I will find a safe place in the capital for the young lord.”
That youth shook his head, correcting the black cloth on his face.
The middle aged man on the wheel chair knows that youth will only listen to Her Ladyship, it was impossible for His Lordship to command the blind servant. He hopelessly sighed: “ When the Lord comes back, the situation in the capital will subside, so why must you take him now?”
‘I do not trust your Lord.’
The middle aged man frowned slightly, he loathes what was said, so only after a long pause he began, “The child will need milk, and education. How will you provide this?” With a sneer he continued, “You are blind*, what else can you do besides murder?”
(*He is blind- but also blind to the situation)
The youth was not angry, he only gently nudged the bamboo basket, “Cripple, you also only know how to kill people.”
The middle aged man smiled darkly, “What is getting rid of a few nobles in the capital. Once his Lordship returns I will natural start to clean them up.”
The blind youth only shakes his head.
The hand of middle aged man gently caresses the wheelchair, seeming to guess that the youth must be afraid of something. A moment later with a slight frown he says, “I know that you are afraid of something but in this mundane world, who besides his father is capable of protecting him against unknown dangers?”
The blind youth replies emotionless, “A new identity means an undisturbed life”
The middle aged man thought for a moment, then with a smile he nodded.
“Port Danzhou, the Lords mother currently resides there.”
After a moment of silence, the blind boy finally accepts the arrangement.
The middle aged man smiles as he pushes his wheelchair behind the youth and stretches out both hands to receive the child from the bamboo basket. The child appears as a sculpture carved from ice. Looking at his snow white lovable small face, he sighs out, “He looks like his mother, too beautiful.”
He suddenly laughs a loud, “This kid will grow up with many accomplishments in the future.”
His subordinates in the distance were standing in silence and suddenly they were shocked to hear the man’s joyful laughter. Though they remained motionless but deep down the shock made them wonder- what kind of importance does that child have?
The blind youth leaned his head to the side,as he stretched out his hands to take the child back. Although he was near he still did not want the child’s face to be so close to the Viper’s hand. He used a one syllable word to express the purely polite question.
The middle aged man’s smile hid the fear he felt looking at the child’s face, “The child is only two months old yet he was able to reach out and wipe the blood off his face.He has experienced such horrible things tonight, but is still able to sleep so sweetly, he is truly worthy to be……”
His voice suddenly lowered, to ensure that his subordinates could not hear “… being the child of the Heavenly Vessel… ”
The middle aged man had a powerful reputation in the capital for being cruel and sinister. No official could withstand more than two days of his torture before revealing the truth.But even though he was extraordinary he still could not see the truth- that the child was not sweetly sleeping but rather was so terrified that he fainted.
*The Heavenly Veins- Heavenly refers to divine connections, and vessel means container for the blood(veins). Putting them together, it means vessel of divine blood descended to the human world.* In this world the legend is that every several hundred years, one of the Heavenly Vessels left in this world by the divine would awaken and leave a legacy.
This Heavenly Vessel may represent an invincible fighting power that is hard to resist, for example in the distant ancient Nasgu Kingdom. The great general appeared at the critical juncture, at the brink of the Kingdoms complete destruction by the barbarians, with his own strength he managed to kill the majority of the barbarians and their elder assembly and made history.
Some Heavenly Vessels would show extreme genius in art or intellectually, for example three hundred years ago, the Great Wizard Poore in the western world, and his wife, playwright Fubo.
Although no one could confirm whether or not they were true Heavenly Vessels *left by divine creatures to overcome the many tribulations of the world*. But these people did bring peace to the world along with many other things.
In the end all of the “Heavenly Vessels” vanished. No one, no Kingdom could even find any trace of them. They would appear all of a sudden and then disappear. Only a few obscure records were left behind, but not much that could prove their existence.
The middle aged man on the wheelchair was one of the few who knew that the “Heavenly Vessel” phenomenon did exist.
For some unknown reason, after Fan Shen died, his soul came to this world. And just like that……was inconceivably reincarnated into an infant’s body. Moreover the child’s father or mother happened to be the mysterious “Heavenly Vessel” bloodline on this continent.
By dawn, the battlefield had been cleaned up. The horse drawn wagon slowly followed the flagstone road eastbound. Right behind the horse drawn wagon, surrounded by a troop of Dark Riders sat a pale faced middle aged man which made up an eerie scene of a crafty demon.
A small rock on the road slightly jolts the wagon, which woke the infant lying flat on a soft silky mat.
The baby’s eyes disbelievingly looked around, skipping the faces his saviors, instead fixed upon the direction the wagon was heading. The stare was not like that of a normal baby, which would remain unfixed but remain clear. The stare now contained something more, something beyond words.
No one knows that such a fragile, small body is unexpectedly holding a soul from a different world.
As he looked ahead, the curtain floated with the wind revealing a corner of the green hills outside the wagon a long with the flagstone road that rapidly moved backward as though there were countless frames in a continuous rewind.
In front of the wagon, the blind youngster held his weapon tightly in his grip. *A black cloth covered not only his two eyes, but also the entire world.*
(*…* directly taken from Linleys translation as it was not in the raws (maybe that’s just me) or it just sounded awesome as is)