Chapter 1 - An Unstable Situation
An Unstable Situation
Black Cloud City, the Nie Family.
As night fell, the plain clothed Nie Qian leaned against the windowsill. She stared blankly out of the window at the rock garden, as if she was in a trance.
Inside the house, a barely 1-year-old Nie Tian was unable to bear the wet nurse any longer and pushed her away. While the nurse looked helplessly and anxiously at Nie Qian. Nie Tian, covered in milk stains, gibbered: “Meat, eat meat…”
The wet nurse, Mother Zhou, looked embarrassed, before she sarcastically said, “Miss, look...”
Nie Qian returned to reality and gave a dignified and strong look at Nie Tian, before she softly cursed, “This little bastard, today he has already eaten two bowls of meat. He hasn’t even fully finished his milk, yet he still demands more meat, regardless of whether or not he can digest it all.”
“Meat, I want meat…” Nie Tian continued to cry happily.
Looking at the fawning smile on Nie Tian’s face, Nie Qian remembered the death of her sister, and with a softened heart, lightly nodded her head at Mother Zhou.
Soon after, Mother Zhou brought a bowl of chopped meat paste and gently placed it on the table. Nie Tian’s eyes immediately lit up as he grabbed his silver spoon and dug in, his chubby little face brimming with satisfaction.
Hearing Nie Tian’s “ba ji ba ji” eating sounds, Nie Qian, for no reason whatsoever, got slightly annoyed. “Xiao Yue, in tomorrow’s drawing, how many children will be participating?” Nie Qian suddenly asked.
At the door, maidservant Han Yue hesitatingly replied, “Miss, this is the Nie Family; since each child with the Nie surname will participate, there will be a lot of participants. After all, every five years, Lingyun Mountain’s Old Immortal will give away spirit weapons as a reward for the many years of the Nie family’s hard work. Every branch of the Nie Family, that has a child who is about one year old, isn’t willing to miss this opportunity.”
The Nie Family in Black Cloud City was a noble family, however, in this world, only Lianqi warriors were respected. Most influential families were serving these powerful Lianqi warriors and the Nie Family was no exception.
The Lianqi warrior sect that the Nie Family depended on was the Lingyun Sect. The Lingyun sect was situated on the Lingyun Mountain, which was close to Black Cloud City. At the heart of the Lingyun mountain, there was an abundance of Fire Cloud stone. Fire Cloud stone, a type of common, low-level spirit material, was needed for a Lianqi warrior’s cultivation. The Lingyun Sect’s Lianqi warriors were busy all year round with cultivation and were not willing to spend their time in the heart of the mountain, extracting this type of common Fire Cloud stone. Thus, they had arranged for the Nie Family’s clansmen to do so.
Generation after generation of the Nie Family’s clansmen extracted Fire Cloud stone and gave it to the Lingyun sect as a tribute, in exchange for the Lingyun sect’s protection.
But the Lingyun sect’s Lianqi warriors would, in addition to protecting the Nie Family from their rivals in Black Cloud City, make a trip to the Nie Family once every five years. Once there, they would use some low-level spirit weapons and measure the Lianqi talent in the hope of finding cultivation talent in the Nie children.
Every child’s body, after being born, would more or less carry a slightly special attribute. In addition to the Five Elemental attributes (metal, wood, water, fire and earth), there were also children who internally contained rarer attributes, such as lightning, wind, cloud, ice, and more. The Lianqi warriors of the Lingyun Sect would come over every time, bringing along all types of spirit weapons with various attributes.
Children possessing the same attributes as those of a spirit weapon would mutually sense and attract each other. At times, this could also help to discover a child’s attribute, allowing the elder generation to better assist them. Once they were aware of the child’s future cultivation path, they could plan a path of cultivation out that would produce twice the result with half the effort.
The Lingyun Sect’s Lianqi warriors would use these low-grade spirit weapons to rope in the Nie Family’s loyalty. At the mass meeting, they would draw lots to determine which low-grade spirit weapon would be taken out. All the Nie family children would then be gifted a matching attributed low-grade spirit weapon.
Speaking of the Lianqi warriors of the Lingyun Sect, these low-grade spirit weapons were of no great use to them, however they could still help the children of the Nie Family for practise. Even over a long period of time, the Nie family children would mostly take advantage out of these spirit weapons.
And so it was, that once every five years a general assembly to draw lots was held, the Nie Family would seethe with excitement. Any senior in the Nie Family with an infant around one year of age, would be ecstatic for their child’s most important event. Such was the trend of the greedy.
This time was no exception.
“I’m asking you a question; how many children are attending?” Nie Qian asked with a frown.
“Seven,” Han Yue whispered, as she lowered her head.
“Xiao Tian also happens to be the same age and shares the last name ‘Nie’. Why did no one inform me to let Nie Tian also attend the drawing of the lots for the General Assembly. Hmm?” Nie Qian coldly asked.
“Miss...” Han Yue forced a smile on her face, as she looked up at Nie Qian and weakly continued, “Though Nie Tian is the child of Second Sister... Second Sister... Like you, is only a daughter. And before Second Sister died, she had never mentioned who Nie Tian’s father is.
The rules of the Nie Family declare that only true grandchildren are qualified to participate in the drawing of the lots for the General Assembly.”
“I don’t care if we break the rules. Father is now the head of the house. I’ll go see what he has to say!” Nie Qian bitterly exclaimed, before she stormed away.
“Although Master is still the head of the house, it is only a position… And it isn’t even a secure position!” Han Yue mumbled with a pained face, but Nie Qian had already stormed off.
A while later.
Nie Qian burst into the Eastern Sea pavilion, shouting angrily, “Father, Nie Tian is also...”
Her shout abruptly stopped.
In the dimly lit interior of the room, the Nie Family’s head of the house, Nie Donghai, had a wax yellow-like face that was filled with weariness. His originally magnificent body was now skinny and hunched as leaned up against the wall. He looked somewhat hesitant as he stared at his left palm which held a dark red medicinal pill.
The originally extremely angry Nie Qian suddenly felt pity for her father. She softened her voice, as she gently said, “Father, don’t”
She immediately recognised the medicine in Nie Donghai’s palm as the ‘Recovering Spirit Dan’. Using this recovering spirit medicine would allow the Lianqi Warrior to quickly recover their spirit Qi. Even if you were on the brink of death, you would still be able to regain your vitality with this medicine.
To recover your spirit, however, would also overdraw your Lianqi and life force, eventually causing great physical and mental disabilities.
Generally speaking, when Lianqi warriors fought, only at the very edge of life and death, would one use the ‘Recovering Spirit Dan’ as a vital lifeline; usually, no one would ever dare to use it.
Nie Donghai bowed his head and stared at the ‘Recovering Spirit Dan’ for a long time. Seeing the arrival of Nie Qian so soon, he somewhat reluctantly smiled and abstractly said, “Ever since the Yun Family and Yuan Family suffered heavy losses, my qi sea was shattered. The spirit qi I had gathered throughout my life, quickly dissipated and scattered. It is hopeless for me to ever reach the Xiantian level in my lifetime. Even this Tian level… I’m not sure if I can stay at it.
“Second Brother and Third Brother are both after my position as head of the Nie Family - they’ve wanted it for a long time now. Tomorrow, the Lingyun Sect’s people will come. If they see that my health is declining, they will give Second Brother and Third Brother a reason to stir up trouble. I’m afraid that in the very near future, I’d have to compromise my position.”
“Father, I’d rather that you retire early instead of overdrawing your lifespan in exchange for the position of head of the house,” Nie Qian said with watering eyes.
“What do you know?” Nie Donghai aggressively glared, his face was full of murderous intent. “Right now, I am still the head of our Nie Family. You being in the Yun House had only let you suffer humiliation and there was only justice in returning home. Also, regarding your sister who got tricked by an unknown person, it is only if I use our Nie Family’s power, am I able to find out who he is!”
“If I step down, Second and Third Brother couldn’t possibly understand you and your sister’s hatred! For you and Jin-Er, if I can take one more day, then I will take one more day of this position!”
“What does it matter to live a year more or less? Once I retire, I will no longer be able to fight for you. So, between death and retirement, what difference is there?”
“Ah, Father!” Nie Qian blurted out, as she choked on her own tears.
“Okay, okay. Don’t be like a child who has not yet grown up. Tell me, why did you hurry to find me?” Nie Donghai took a deep breath, restoring his determination.
“Father, tomorrow’s general assembly drawing is really important. Since you named little Tian as Nie Tian, with his surname as Nie, I hope that Nie Tian can participate in tomorrow’s event. If little Tian can participate in tomorrow’s general assembly drawing and get a fitting spirit weapon, it will greatly benefit his cultivation practice later on. Perhaps, with the aid of the spirit weapon, at the age of fifteen his Lianqi will have reached level nine, enabling him to enter the Lingyun Sect,” Nie Qian pleaded.
“This matter…” Nie Donghai looked troubled.
“I was totally unaware of this... Regarding this, Second Brother, Third Brother and I have talked. Most likely, they wish to kick little Tian out, by saying that he isn’t a true child of our Nie family. They basically used the family’s traditional rules against little Tian to exclude him from the drawing.”
“Father, your cultivation is reaching its end, little sister is also no longer here, and me... This life is already like this. We won’t thrive, but we have little Tian, a boy. I hope you can strive to give Nie Tian this small opportunity.” Nie Qian’s eyes brimmed with tears.
After being silent for a long time, Nie Donghai gently nodded his head, “I understand. Go! Tomorrow, take Nie Tian to attend the general assembly’s drawing.”
Nie Qian with tears still glinting in her eyes, brightened up a bit and even showed a trace of happiness. She bowed and then immediately left the room.
As soon as she stepped out of the door, almost out of earshot, she heard Nie Donghai gulp down the ‘Recovering Spirit Dan’ and after, a long sigh.
Nie Qian, torn with grief, knew her arrival had helped Nie Donghai make up his mind. She could not bear to look back and quickly walked away - desperate to leave.