Chapter I
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There have been many ages. Brought by human evolution or the unrelenting nature, change is uncaring and unstoppable. A true truth of the universe.
Alas, human ambition, fueled by endless greed and hunger for power and improvement, proves just as difficult to stop. With every generation humanity's brightest minds pushed our limits further, taming nature, besting diseases and creating machinery capable of even challenging nature. With such evolved technology, only the more unlucky fall to the whims of nature, right?
Complacent can bring about disaster, and even the greatest empires fall to the dust of time. And, so would human advancement meet its match.
2020. The year when disaster struck, as nature unleashed all its pent-up wrath. The ground cracked under massive earthquakes, the sky darkened under the towering tidal waves that swept our prized cities, the mountains spew seas of lava, it's grey ash spreading across continents. Even the few that found themselves sheltered from the disaster fell victim to numerous plagues running rampant across the populus.
It seemed like the technological world, with all its marvels and promised safety, was coming to an end. However, just as the hope was fading from the people's hearts, they came into the light.
The 7 cultivation masters with their many disciplines came out of hiding in order to avoid extinction. They healed the earth, they stopped the floods, they cleared the sky and they cured the plagues. All these miracles, which not even modern science at its pinnacle could achieve, were possible due to the use of a power hidden deep within all living beings known as ki.
Now that extinction was averted, the masters turned their attention towards the survivors. With the help of their knowledge and power of their sects they helped the world recover, preaching the wanders of Ki in the process. And so, the Age of cultivation came to be.
Aaand dot. He finally finished the test. Well, finally, but he was still by far the first to finish. As he went to turn the papers a couple silent giggles could be heard in the room. * He gave up so early, he must know absolutely nothing * they must think. Not that he cared about what they thought. A large smile creept on his face as he turned in the paper and exited the room. He did well on the exam.
Making his way outside the building, he picked a spot on a bench near the entrance. The boys grey hair and red eyes glimmered in awe as he gazed at the regional headquarters of the D.E.G. It was one of the most impressive constructs in town, around 100 stories tall, making most other buildings look like midgets in comparison. Only the Xu corporation and the Divine flame sect branch headquarters were taller than it.
* The area around the city is muddy, that should make it impossible for building this size to exist... they must have used some sort of ki technique to build this! Oh, I wander what kind of technique they used, it must have been at least high-earth stage in order to achieve this size! the Department of Education and Guidance is really awesome! One day I'll be able to build marvels like this as well! Just you wait gramps, I'll keep my words!*
And so the boy stared at the concrete behemoth for a sizeable amount of time, trying to discern any details, any engravings, any formations that would help him understand the inner workings of the technique. His concentration only broke when he spotted a kid was finally broken passing trough the gates, his dark- brown hair, pale skin and green eyes where all- too known by Arun. It was his childhood friend, Bohdi.
" Bohdi! Here! How was the exam? Did everything go well? How did you answer this question? " Arun immediately assaulted his friend with questions as he drew closer.
Bohdi, who was deep in thought and not expecting a sudden bombardment, recoiled, surprised. But than again, he was used to his friends abnormally high level of energy when excited, so he really should have expected it.
" Arun! Calm down, people will be able to hear you from the classrooms 30 floors up. "
" Oh sorry... " Arun said while visibly deflating.
Bohdy chuckled. " So, judging by the amount of energy you have, the exam went well."
" Yeah! I was surprised tho, the questions were pretty dang easy, I was expecting something harder... "
Arun barely got time to finish his sentence as he got interrupted by a loud laughter, but this time it wasn't Bohdi's. Looking behind his shoulder Arun saw another familiar face, but this time not-so-friendly. It was William Qu, one of his classmates.
" Easy? Easy?! You can spout such blatant lies, we were in the same examination room! I saw you leaving after 25 minutes! I bet you didn't even write nothing on the paper! Don't worry though, even though you'll inevitably fail this exam, there is no shame in it. After all, it's not like anybody has any sort of expectations from you! "
" Stop it William! You're going too far? Have you no respect for your classmates? " Bohdi snapped.
" Respect? For him? This weakling didn't even reach mid- human level and yet you expect me, a son of the Qu family to respect HIM? Watch your mouth Bohdi, you should know your place as a commoner as well, if I catch you
speaking like that again I can't guarantee your safety. "
" Why you... "
" You can't guarantee his safety? What are you about to do next, ask for protection money? Since when has Qu family became a bunch of thugs that bully the weak? " A female voice resounded as another character exited the gates. It was Aileen, Bohdi's sister. " And to bully someone in front of the department, none the less, aren't you shameless William? "
William went red but he pondered on a good response. After all, there were people around, he could not sully Qu's family name by being careless. But as a croud started to materialise around him and Aileen kept staring him down with a defiant look on her face, feelings of anger stimmed from his slightly wounded pride overcame his attempts at reasoning.
" Thugs? Shameless? Oh, please I'm just putting them in their rightful place! And you! You commoner! You shoul... "
" William! "
William couldn't finish his sentence a loud shout interrupted him. He turned towards the man who interrupted his rant before it even really started. It was none other than his undesirable classmate.
" It doesn't matter what you think of me, it doesn't matter what you label me as, for one day, I will become a powerful forger and cultivator. But before that, know that I will ace this exam and enter the Divine Flame high! "
William and the people around all paused their speech for a second. Than in the next a thunderous laughter erupted. Everyone knew that Arun had below average cultivation and downright non-existent backing and background, being just that loud kid from the slums. Everybody except for Bohdi and Aileen, of which the latter one was holding her face in her hands.
" You... you are killing me... if I knew you were this funny I'd have hired you as my personal jester! ". William managed between his laughing fits.
"Oh, and William, I ain't finished. " Arun, which didn't seem to be bothered by everything going on around him, threw William a stern look. " If you ever threaten my friends again, I am not going to be able to guarantee your safety".