The planet known as Destiny's Heart was mostly covered in water, a single massive continent taking up about one-third of the planet's surface. The continent was covered in countless different environments, but there were four of them that were especially noticeable even if one saw them from space.
The Endless Wilds, the massive forest that cut a line straight through the continent, separating the majority of it from one small outcropping at the eastern end. The Frozen Sky, a glacial expanse on the western side of the continent that was so cold that it not only froze the clouds themselves, but had even extended out into the vast ocean by freezing part of it. The Burning Sea, a large lake on the northern end of the continent that was filled with liquid magma that continuously bubbled and hissed, volcanoes occasionally rising from the magma before being swallowed by it again. The Sun-Swallowing Desert, a large golden desert cresting the horizon on the southern part of the continent, it got its name due to the fact that the grains of sand would unleash a dim light at night, as if they had swallowed the sun and were hiding it until dawn.
But even on this continent filled with dangerous zones and beasts, cultivators thrived. A cultivator was someone who could absorb the natural Qi that existed all around them, using it to strengthen themselves and to unleash devastating attacks. Of course, wherever there were cultivators, there would also be Demonic beasts, animals, plants, items, or even elements that had absorbed so much Qi that they acquired special powers and sentience. The strongest Demonic beasts were no different from human cultivators and could even take on a human shape, but thanks to their naturally strong bodies, most Demonic beasts were stronger than cultivators at the same rank.
But other than their species, there was one other major difference between a cultivator and a Demonic beast, a cultivator was only able to absorb Qi due to the grace of the gods that were overseeing the universe. Each person's dantian was imbued with one or more elements, most people not quite certain just how it was decided which element you would get. But there had been precedents where one or more gods descended and took back the ability to cultivate certain elements from people they didn't like, thus people became certain that it was the gods themselves that granted them the ability to cultivate.
The small outcropping on the eastern end of the continent that was cut off by the Endless Wilderness was known as the Weeping Cliffs Empire, and at the very edge of this empire, and the continent as a result, was a small and nearly forgotten village known as Green Willows. The village was circular in shape and filled with wooden houses, the ocean was on the eastern side of the village while two large forests covered the northern and southern sides of the forest, only the western side was open, a road leading away from the village and to the other cities. A rolling stream coursed throughout the entire village, a multitude of weeping willow trees lining the sides of the stream, giving the village its name.
The village was currently bustling with activity, the center of the village completely filled with people surrounding a large podium where four elderly men surrounded a nearly two-meter large crystal. The elders were subordinates of the village leader and they served two purposes, protecting the village and aiding the children of the village in awakening their elements. To awaken their elements, they would need an influx of Qi strong enough to crack the shell around their dantian, which would require either outside assistance or an area so saturated with Qi that it would automatically enter the body.
There was a line of children stretching away from the podium, their ages ranging from as old as 10 to as young as 3. Since the awakening process was a sort of ceremony to the village, and since it drained the elders quite a bit, they only performed it once every five years, gathering all the children who had yet to be awakened.
Standing in the middle of the line was an azure-haired child with brown eyes and a somewhat short stature who seemed to be around seven years old, a simple brown robe draped around his body. The other children in the line had their parents and siblings around them, but this child stood completely alone, his gaze impatiently sweeping the surroundings as he muttered to himself.
"Can't they speed this up? I wanna see what element I've got..."
The child, Huang Ying, ignored the sea of people around him that would occasionally cast a sideways glance at him, some filled with pity and some with curiosity. Huang Ying had already gotten used to these glances, he had received them all his life thanks to his parents. His parents had arrived in this village six and a half years ago, a pair of weary and wary travelers.
They only stayed in the village for half a year, just enough time to give birth to Huang Ying and spend a bit of time with him. They then handed him over to San Jongyu, an elderly man who lived alone with a young girl who lost her parents in an accident. Once he was off their hands, they immediately packed up their belongings and left the village, no one had seen them since nor had they ever sent anything back to the village, so no one knew where they were or how they were doing, all they knew was that they had abandoned Huang Ying.
Despite his young age at the time they left, Huang Ying actually remembered everything about his parents, causing him to both be hurt by the fact that they left and curious as to why they left. San Jongyu never told Huang Ying anything about his parents, and the other children in the village were a bit prejudiced towards the abandoned son, so his only company was the old man and the young girl, Xing Tang.
But Xing Tang was blessed with dual elements and a rather good talent, so three years ago she had been picked up by a scout and brought to the Golden Dawn Academy closer to the heart of the empire. The sheer distance between the academy and the village made it hard for her to visit, so he hadn't seen her once in the last three years, so he ended up spending most of his time what others would consider alone. While Huang Ying was impatiently surveying the surroundings, an aged and somewhat raspy voice echoed out inside his head.
"Lower expectations mean less disappointment."
Huang Ying wasn't shocked at the voice, he simply rolled his eyes in exasperation. This voice was his greatest secret, it was also the reason he could remember everything about his parents and the reason he wasn't too lonely after Xing Tang left. Huang Ying continued to mutter to himself, not bothering with the strange glance he got from the kid that managed to overhear him.
"Grampa Jun, can't you let me have at least one or two expectations for a time like this? Trying to follow all your advice sounds like it would make life incredibly dull."
The voice inside his mind came from an unfortunate soul that was on his way to reincarnation when he was accidentally caught up in Huang Ying's birth and ended up being sucked into his body. The man introduced himself as Li Jun and had been with Huang Ying ever since, unable to leave his body since he had entered it at such an unfortunate time that a small piece of him had already merged with Huang Ying's body. He was supposedly a powerful cultivator while he was alive, but he said that since he was only a soul right now, he couldn't do anything and could only look on from within Huang Ying.
What sounded like an exasperated sigh rang out within Huang Ying's mind, Li Jun choosing to remain silent. The line slowly moved forward, one child after another placing their hands on the large crystal and looking at it with expectant eyes. The four elders would then place a hand each on the child's back and slowly insert a little of their Qi into the child, assaulting their dantian and forcing open the shell around it.
Once the shell was cracked, the crystal in front of them would light up and show different environments. Some children would cause the crystal to reveal dry deserts, scorching volcanoes, tall mountains, large oceans, a vast sky, or even a frozen expanse. The sceneries shown on the crystal were the insides of that child's dantian and it showed the rest of the village exactly what element that child had. In the future, they would be able to increase the size and change the appearance of this scenery, their cultivation growing larger as the scenery grew larger and more diverse.
After almost half a day of standing in line, it was finally time for Huang Ying to step onto the podium and place his hands on the crystal. His palms were sweaty as he touched the crystal, which was strangely cold and coarse to the touch. The four elders placed their hands on his back and Huang Ying held his breath, his heart almost hammering out of his chest from excitement.
He felt four streams of energy enter his body from the four hands on his back, each stream giving him a different feeling as they slithered through his body and headed for the base of his abdomen. The four streams arrived at the base of his abdomen where his dantian should be, gathering a bit more power and then rushing forward. A sharp pain assaulted Huang Ying as the four streams moved through his abdomen, the taste of blood appearing in his mouth as something welled up his throat.
But there was no cracking sound, nor did the crystal light up, the eyebrows of the four elders furrowing slightly. They had the four streams move through Huang Ying's abdomen again, but the same scene simply repeated itself, the taste of blood in Huang Ying's mouth getting stronger. They repeated this process two more times, only stopping when several thin lines of blood started to leak out from the corners of Huang Ying's tightly shut mouth.
The four elders then looked at each other and decided to change their approach. They all placed both hands on Huang Ying's back, their brows scrunching up as they focused. The crystal in front of him finally lit up, but rather than show a scenery as it had with the others, it only showed various organs and flesh. Seeing this scene, the four elders understood the situation, their voices containing immense amounts of shock as they muttered out in slight disbelief.
"He has no dantian or ability to store Qi... Cultivation is impossible."
A stunned silence descended over the entire village after the truth was uttered by the elders. Even the lowest of the low, the weakest of the weakest, had a dantian, they had the ability to cultivate and to grow stronger, every living being and even some non-living beings had this ability. And yet, Huang Ying was not granted this ability, he was not allowed to grow stronger. It was now that everyone realized who Huang Ying was, he was the boy abandoned by both his parents and by the gods themselves.