Chapter 2: Relentless.
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Liang Chen continued to strike the wooden pole, alternating which hand he used to hit it. Each strike caused the bones in his hand to creak, pain flooding his arms and causing him to grit his teeth and bite down on his lips. Each punch caused him to bite down harder on his lip, the metallic taste of blood quickly starting to fill his mouth. Liang Chen ignored the taste, hitting the wooden pole a little harder to bring his mind away from the taste.

With each punch he delivered, the skin on his fist would tear a little, droplets of blood slowly pouring forth. Just as his father had said, Liang Chen only had average talent, to achieve anything, he would have to work harder than others. Qing Lan Yong was the Young Master of the Qing clan, he had long since transcended the Ascending Tower realm, to kill him would require untold amounts of work.

Liang Chen did not know too much about cultivation, but he at least knew the earliest stage of cultivation, the Ascending Tower realm. To cultivate, one would have to draw in Qi from the surroundings and use it to nourish their body. Once their body was strong enough, people could pull in surrounding Qi of an element that suited them, using the Qi to build a tower within their dantian.

The first three floors of the tower were called the early, middle, and late stages of the Mortal Tower realm. The fourth to sixth floors were the early, middle, and late stages of the Houtian Tower realm and the seventh to ninth were the early, middle, and late stages of the Xiantian Tower realm. All nine floors together made up the Ascending Tower realm.

Liang Chen had never really enjoyed cultivation, especially because he only had average talent, so he had yet to even manage to create the outline of his Ascending Tower, not even entering the early stage of the Mortal Tower realm, the realm which most other children his age had reached. But now he had a goal he desired to reach, he could no longer afford to be lazy in his cultivation.

Liang Chen continued to strike the wooden pole until his fists were bloody and numb, his arms no longer willing to move as he wished. Once his arms stopped listening to him, he took a step back and started to kick the wooden pole, his legs aching in pain from each kick. His arms hung limply at his side as he continued to kick the wooden pole, only stopping when his legs refused to carry him anymore.

He collapsed to the floor in the middle of a kick, the side of his head landing hard on the wooden floor. Liang Chen continued to lay on the floor for a little bit, the tears in his eyes slowly drying as he waited for his arms and legs to listen to him again. Without him noticing it, his mind grew hazy, his eyelids heavy, sleep overtaking him and dying his world black. He did not dream, there was only a strange and weary emptiness.

When Liang Chen jolted awake, there was no longer any light shining into the house through the windows, so it seemed like night had descended. Liang Chen sat up, his arms and legs sore. There was dried blood on the floor around him, but his arms and legs had already stopped bleeding. He ignored the aching and forced his body into a sitting position, crossing his legs and placing his hands on his thighs. Once he was in a sitting position, he closed his eyes and took several deep breaths.

"Quietly focus. Sense the Qi in the surroundings, feel how it envelops you, then pull it into your body and let it flow through your flesh. Just like you taught me, Mother."

Liang Chen continued to breathe deeply, straining his senses to the utmost as he tried to sense the Qi in the surroundings. Sensing the Qi in the surroundings depended completely on the person doing it, very little could be done by others to aid one in the process. Liang Chen continued to try and sense the Qi in the surroundings, but as the minutes started rapidly trickling away, turning into hours, his breathing grew more and more ragged, until he finally broke down as the light of the sun started to shine through the windows.

"Dammit! Father, you said that the only reason I was unable to sense the surrounding Qi was because I was not putting my heart into it! Now I am putting all my heart into it, but I am still unable to sense anything!"

His body was stiff after sitting still for several hours, so he lost control over his body with his outburst, falling forwards. His forehead hit the floor, a loud thud resounding through the empty house. With his head against the ground, a weak mutter escaped his lips, heard by no one.

"Father, Mother, forgive me for my lack of talent. If I had more talent, enough talent to shock the entire clan, how would they dare use you as scapegoats?"

Tears started welling up in Liang Chen's eyes again when he thought about his parents. He was only 12 years old, and while he was a bit more mature and sensible than others, he had no experience with being alone. Now that he was truly alone for the first time, he found it frightening.

But no matter how lonely he was, no matter how much his limbs hurt, no matter how frightened he was, he could not allow himself to take a break, not anymore. He forced his body to stand up and face the wooden pole, taking up his stance again. He took a deep breath, and then punched out. He wince slightly when his aching fist made contact with the wooden pole, but he continued to strike out again and again.

When his fists were bloody and his arms refused to listen to him, he started kicking the wooden pole again. When his legs turned bloody and gave out, he forced himself to sit down and try to sense the Qi around him. He was average, only through relentless and ruthless effort could he become someone extraordinary.

When Liang Chen failed to sense the Qi in the surroundings, he grit his teeth and forced himself to stand, facing the wooden pole once more. In that small house located at the edge of the city, the relentless sound of dull thuds rang out, the outside world completely forgotten.