Nea sneaked behind by a patrolling guard. Her footsteps were silent as a ghost. The illumination stones steadily glow, giving an ethereal blue light upon the white hall. Nea stretched all her senses, making sure nothing passed her notice. Her dark garbs helped her blend with the shadow. Slowly, she made her way toward a massive white door. Exquisite engravings adorned this door. It told a story of a forgotten time. Mighty beast soared the sky, trampled the land, and ruled the seas. A fierce expression etched on their visage. The small humans stood in the middle with their weapons drawn. Despite being surrounded, they held their head high. A silent provocation against the rulers of ancient times.
The door opened slightly without a sound. Nea stepped inside and the door behind her closed once more.
Immediately, the illumination stones on the ceiling shone. Nea walked toward the altar at the center of the massive room. On top of it laid a small white marble.
“You were so slow that I thought you changed your mind,” it said.
“And keep staying in this damned island?” Nea snorted.
“Have you said your goodbyes?”
“That one guard that always nags you, Brianna? Or the current matriarch?”
Nea hesitated but shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. Let’s just go.” She took the marble into her grasp.
“Alright, this will get a bit disorienting.” A strand of darkness swirled inside the marble.
Complex arrays carved onto every surface of the room lighted up brighter and brighter. Nea closed her eyes.
A young girl was sleeping on her bed with her blonde hair spread on the white sheet. Her eyelashes fluttered as she opened her gray eyes. She gave a melancholic smile.
“Good luck,” she whispered.
Nea opened her eyes. Countless twinkling stars greeted her. The fresh scent of forest entered her nostrils. She laid there for a while. Her stomach was churning, protesting against the teleportation. She took a deep breath, fighting the urge to puke.
“Where is this?” Nea asked.
“I don’t know,” the marble said, “somewhere in the continent.”
“I thought you are the divine weapon.” Nea sat up and glared at the marble in her hand. “Aren’t you supposed to be old and know this stuff?”
The marble flashed in indignation. “How about you try being locked up for years? How should I know about these things when the most interaction that I have is listening to the narration of the latest published fiction? Usually, there were other people who command the array; my sole duty was merely keeping an eye on the array at all times. That was the first time I activated that complex array. You should be happy that I was able to send you safely on my first try. Any other people would have transported only part of your body.”
Nea ignored it and looked around. “Why do we get transported here?” There was no visible mark that showed this place as a teleportation site. Around her was only a normal-looking forest.
“The array should be buried underground. We can’t have some random people mess with it now, can’t we?” it explained. “Quick, let’s move and find civilization.”
Suddenly, the qi near them stirred. Out of the blue, someone teleported right on top of them. Nea dodged out of the way. The person fell straight to the ground.
She tensed and prepared for an attack.
… The man stayed still.
“I think he’s unconscious,” the marble said.
Nea took out her illumination stone and flipped the unknown man. Her eyes rounded when she saw who it was. “Wait-isn’t this Yun Heng?!”
“Yun Heng!” Nea crouched and took a good look at her idol. “One of a kind genius! He was only in his twenties when he formed a golden core. He has slain many demons and beasts, defeat all kinds of evil! What happened to him to make him look like this?”
The marble ignored her gushing and observed the unexpected visitor. The young man had long black hair. His visage resembled those from the Great Yue. His sharp eyebrows were furrowed and his phoenix eyes shut tight. There were shallow scratches on his body. He was wearing a simple red round collar robe and dark shoes.
“What a fine young man!” the marble commented, “He definitely has the bearing of a protagonist. This scene reminds me of a beginning of a tale. We just left the clan and our journey has already begun! Quick, help him.”
‘Aren’t you supposed to be the legendary divine weapon? What kind of nonsense are you blathering about? The divine Yona must be rolling in her grave seeing the level of depravity her greatest creation has sunk into. Oi! Liana! What have you been teaching this thing?!’ Nea thought. She started to regret her decision to cooperate with the divine weapon. ‘I probably should have taken my chance with using the boat, it might take a long time to cross the sea but at least I don’t have to deal with this crazy….’
Nea found a cave nearby and settled there. She grasped Yun Heng’s wrist and checked his internal energy and found nothing strange. There were only light wounds on his body and there didn’t seem to be any hidden inner wound.
“Maybe he just needs some rest?” Nea mumbled.
“Do you want me to check?” The marble offered.
“What are you planning?” she shot it a suspicious look.
“Tsk tsk! What’s with that tone? Do you think that I will take advantage of him? I’m a divine weapon, not some lecherous old man!”
“Aren’t you hundreds of years old?”
“Do you want me to help or not? There may be some hidden enchantment on him that is hidden from you. Don’t blame me if he continues to be in a coma.”
“… Fine.” Nea huffed and put the marble on Yun Heng’s chest. “Don’t do anything fishy.”
The divine weapon touched Yun Heng’s sea of consciousness and could feel a familiar presence. An old enemy. Flashes of long-forgotten memories resurfaced.
Screams of pain and the roars of beasts.
That damnable light.
It grabbed those chains of light that surrounded and restricted Yun Heng. With a surge of power, it blasted those chains into nothingness. Yet the presence still persisted. It dived deeper but found itself being halted by a blinding array. A seal. Once again, the divine weapon brought forth the power from the void and hit the array. However, the array remained. It tried to strike again but found the internal energy of Yun Heng churned.
Nea gasped when she saw Yun Heng suddenly spat out a mouth-full of blood. “What are you doing?!” She tried to take the shining marble away from Yun Heng but it somehow sunk into the unconscious man.
With all its might, the divine weapon halted the impending qi deviation. The array didn’t like its attack and had messed with Yun Heng’s internal energy. The divine weapon was forced to integrate itself into Yun Heng to calm down the chaotic qi.
‘Damn, that kid won’t be happy about this.’
Bit by bit, the raging storm inside Yun Heng calmed under its ministration. It shot a baleful look at the array.
‘You win this round.’
Nea who was distraught by the unexpected turn of events, slowly calmed down as she watched Yun Heng's condition got better.
‘I really shouldn’t trust that thing! What divine weapon? It must be some sort of imitation that pretends to be one!’
She couldn’t understand where the marble had disappeared. She didn’t dare to touch Yun Heng’s chest, feeling that it was improper.
‘It couldn’t be trying to take over Yun Heng’s body, right? Oh no! What if it’s some kind of demonic weapon?! Aaargh! I was too naive. I shouldn’t have trusted it so much!’
Yun Heng grunted, breaking Nea from her breakdown. His tightly shut eyes slowly opened, revealing a set of deep black eyes. Those eyes immediately locked on to her.
“Who are you?” Yun Heng asked with a hoarse voice as he sat up. A sharp pressure settled on Nea.
“Uh… hi?” Nea raised her hands, trying to look as nonthreatening as possible. “My-my name is Nea. I found you unconscious on the teleportation site. And well, I have always been your fan. Wait no that’s not important! What happened to you? Did you just escape from a big battle? Are you alright now?”
Yun Heng watched her with a blank look. Tension still had not left his body. “Fine.” He looked around. “Where is this?”
“I don’t know,” Nea replied with a sheepish smile. “I just arrived when you suddenly appeared.”
Yun Heng narrowed his eyes. “You know me. Who am I?”
“Eh?” Nea’s smile froze. “You-you-you don’t remember?”
Yun Heng merely gave her another blank look.
“Wow what a twist!”
Nea and Yun Heng turned toward the new voice. A white-haired youth with pale blue eyes sat near them. He was wearing a red and white robe with white pants. An impish smile spread on his lips.
“You!” Nea pointed her finger threateningly at the young man as if she was brandishing a sword. She might not be familiar with that look but she knew that untrustworthy voice. “What have you done to Yun Heng?!”
“Hey, it’s not my fault,” the divine weapon said. “There was some weird array placed on him and when I tried to remove it, it triggered a qi deviation. You should be happy that I managed to stop it. Look, I even got stuck in his sea of consciousness to save his life.”
“I don’t trust you! I shouldn’t have trusted you in the first place. Remove yourself!”
“Can’t do that. At the moment, I’m the only thing that keeps that annoying array at bay. Unless you want him to go back into a coma again, I can’t remove myself from him.”
Yun Heng closed his eyes, checking his internal energy. He let out a soft sigh, opened his eyes, and said, “Hn.”
“Hey, I’m still waiting for your gratitude.” The divine weapon placed his hands on his hips. “This great one has saved your life but your gratitude is as dry as Ul’van desert!”
The divine weapon huffed and mumbled something about youngster these days. “The array seems to be suppressing your memory. You must have seen or known something big. The question is why did the perpetrator only suppress your memory instead of killing you.” He clapped his hands, eyes twinkling brightly. “How exciting! We already found a mystery to unravel. It is truly a great decision to ditch the clan and join you.” He smiled at Nea.
Nea responded with a withering look. “I personally think that it was the worst decision in my life to accept your offer.”
“How cruel! This great one has worked very hard from bringing you here and saving the life of this young man. This is how you guys repay me? With disdain and disgust?” The divine weapon pressed his hand on his chest and dramatically fell to the ground.
Nea and Yun Heng dutifully ignored him.