Chapter 2: Standing in Silence [Volume 1 - Between Daybreak and Evernight]
Unsurprisingly, the young boy was dragged out of his little shelter. The remaining half of the bread was not spared, either, and was put in the hands of the strongest of the older kids. All of the older kids were over ten years old, with the leader being already twelve.
The leader deeply breathed in the aroma of the bread. Without hesitation, he ripped off a large chunk and stuffed it into his mouth, swallowing it all at once The other kids swallowed in their envy.
A mouthful of bread could not calm the older kid, instead making his eyes bloodshot from fury.
“You actually dared to hide food?! What about the other half? Where did you hide it? Not going to talk? Beat him up!”
The young boy was sent to the ground from one kick. Encircling him, a crowd of older kids beat on him with their full strength. The little boy was rolling back and forth as he was beaten into a tattered cloth sack.
Panic emerged on the little girl’s face as she stealthly shifted two steps back. She knew that if the boy said that he gave the other half of the bread to her, she would most likely be beaten to death right there.
It was as though the boy’s lips were welded shut. He did not speak a word or utter a single moan, but instead bore the beatings silently.
Finally, the older kids got tired of beating him and the beating came to a halt. They searched the boy’s little den, finding nothing as well.
“Looks like he ate the other half!” an older kid said with both envy and hatred.
“Cut open his belly! Maybe it can still be found!” a tanned, skinny kid shouted viciously.
The leader brutally kicked the little boy, yelling loudly, “Where did the other half go?! If you ate it, then you can go to hell!”
The little girl’s face went ghastly pale in an instant.
Yet, contrary to her expectations, the boy did not speak and instead struggled to stand.
The boy’s mouth moved as if to say something, but no one was able to hear him. The older kids involuntarily edged closer, wanting to hear what he was saying.
Suddenly, the boy’s left fist flew upward, viciously smashing into an older kid’s face!
The older kid screamed miserably, staggering backwards while covering his blood-covered face. The boy had secretly grabbed a piece of metal while he was rolling on the ground and getting beaten. It had opened a violent gash on the older kid’s face, its sharp edge sticking out from between the boy’s fingers.
“Beat him! Beat him to death!” the injured kid screamed madly, covering his face.
The boy faced them head-on, fighting with everything he had, yet he was quickly knocked down once more. Clenching his teeth tightly, he rolled into a ball to protect his vitals. He never begged for mercy, nor did he utter a groan.
The older kids eventually got tired of beating him, and their fists slowed. The older wounded kid still wanted vengeance, however, and yanked the boy up from the ground in a single motion. Just as the older kid was about to speak, the boy suddenly leapt up with energy that seemed to come out of nowhere, headbutting the older kid’s already injured face!
The older kid’s nose broke instantly.
He shrieked, again covering his face. The other kids looked at the boy and actually felt a sense of dread welling up from the bottom of their hearts. They had to admit that even they wouldn’t be able to withstand such injuries. They didn’t know what kind of strength supported the boy standing before them!
This time, no order was necessary. They swarmed the boy and knocked him down, viciously beating him again. When they grew tired, the boy unexpectedly moved a little, unsteadily rising to his feet once more.
This was an extremely unyielding child. Even if he were going to die, he would do so standing.
“L-let’s kill him!” another kid suggested, his voice even trembling somewhat. If the boy wasn’t killed, he felt that he'd never be able to sleep easy.
No one followed his suggestion, but they still struck the boy down. The older kids, however were much easier on him this time around. They were instinctively afraid and were also becoming exhausted. Their harvest for today was puny, which meant that their stamina was also limited. If not for their desire to vent the irritation caused by the Crimson Moon, perhaps they would’ve left right after snatching the bread.
As the older kids stopped one by one, their bodies extremely sore from the act of beating the boy, a tiny figure suddenly appeared by their side.
It was the little girl. She made her way through the crowd, struggling to carry a rock that was quite large from her perspective.
All of the older kids looked at her in surprise. Her small, beautiful face brimmed with insanity and determination as she struggled to lift the stone high above her head. Then, she smashed it down at the boy’s head!
With a bang, the boy finally stopped moving. A pool of blood spread out from beneath his head.
Gasps came from all around the girl. The older kids instinctively shuffled back a few steps, moving away from the little girl they could knock over with a single kick.
The little girl ran to the stone that had rolled to the side and strained to lift it up. The stone was already stained with blood, which smeared all over the little girl’s face and body. When her tiny figure staggered over to the boy, even the leader of the older kids felt a chill in his heart.
Then a breeze suddenly drifted through the junkyard, sweeping up paper scraps and dust. The already cold night strangely became icy as everyone who was still searching through the junkyard for food abruptly shuddered.
They were unaware that an invisible force field had already covered the entire junkyard.
After the chill had passed, a vast majority of the oblivious junkyard denizens immediately went back to searching through the piles of garbage. A few people had felt as if something jumped a few times in their body but it was such weak sensation that it just seemed like an illusion. The sensation went away quickly, so they did not think much of it and continued searching for food in order to survive the day.
In the meantime, a few just stood there and stared at their hands in astonishment. At some point, their hands had begun to emit a faint light that was exceptionally eye-catching under the curtain of night. Furthermore, it wasn’t just their hands—their entire bodies had begun to shine as a mysterious new power emerged from within them.
From a bird’s eye view, the shining people in the vast airship graveyard resembled a galaxy that had descended.
The little girl’s body also glowed, and her strength increased significantly. The emergence of the light did not change the girl’s actions however, and she quickly walked to the boy’s side, smashing the stone at his head again!
All of the older children were waiting for the moment the boy would be mutilated. Some were anxious, glancing to the side because they subconsciously did not want to witness such an act.
Right at that moment, light suddenly blossomed from the boy’s body. A pillar of red light had emerged as well, surging up to over a dozen meters in height. In the night sky, it was a sight that was extremely hard to miss! Several rings of light emerged around the pillar and moved along a mysterious route.
The heavy stone smashed into the radiant light, bouncing away as if obstructed by a formless power. Such an anomaly shocked all of the older children who jumped in confusion.
A boat that was over a dozen meters long floated through the night sky, sliding across the lower half of the enormous crimson full moon..
The boat was built in an old-fashioned style. There was a mast, a cabin, a deck—everything was there. The entire body of the boat was painted blue-gray, and a bronze sculpture of a glaring buddhist warrior was sculpted at the ship’s bow. The warrior's face was full of might, and it held a staff with both hands.
A pair of wings were mounted on both sides of the flying ship, which also had propellers installed. The speed of the propellers varied. Some were slow and some were fast, working to adjust the ship’s orientation. The ship didn’t have an air sac, and no other propulsion systems could be seen. It was unclear just how it was able to stay afloat.
The airship’s body was smooth and elegant. At a glance, it didn’t seem to be very extravagant, but whether it was the joining of the mast to the deck or the engravings on the railing and sides of the boat, everything was done with extremely fine and precise workmanship. It was a modest kind of extravagance.
At this moment, inside the airship, a silver haired man stood beside the window, overlooking the airship junkyard below.
He didn’t look too old, and actually seemed to be in his prime. His gaze was deep and clear, and his chin was an unswerving yet graceful curvature. He wore a black uniform with an upturned collar, which was the standard style of the Empire’s military uniform. However, it did not have any insignia of military rank. Only two rows of silver buttons embossed with a flaming longsword showed his exceptional status.
The silver haired man simply stood there and his capability was naturally displayed; sharp and keen like an unsheathed sword.
There was also man in his fifties nearby sitting in the room. He was square-headed and had large ears, a kind, good-natured face, and a midsection that was already growing wider. He was staring intently at the go board before him as the last white piece of warm, high-grade jade could not land onto the board no matter what.
The situation on the board was already near the endgame phase. White’s pieces, in the shape of a large oriental dragon, were painfully struggling to survive.
After a long period of thought, the man finally let out a long sigh and threw the piece onto the board in defeat.
“Brother Xitang. It’s been seven years, yet your skill in go is still as amazing as before!” The plump, middle-aged man stood up and walked up to the window to stand side by side with the silver haired man and look downward.
Through the ship’s window, one could see that every part of this enormous airship junkyard, which covered nearly a hundred square kilometers, glimmered with faint lights that resembled stars.
The large middle-aged man, however, wasn’t very impressed with the sight. “Brother Xitang, you really ought to change this habit of yours. While the Art of Heaven’s Mystery is certainly outstanding in the way it awakens and guides an individual’s potential in origin power, there’s no need to use it on the entire junkyard, right? Unless you already have more origin power than what you know what to do with...? If that’s the case, why don’t you give me a direct bestowal, let me also get a pot of your gravy!”
With a faint smile, Lin Xitang said, “Brother Tuohai, you are still as straightforward as always. Look at all the people below. All of them possess the potential to cultivate origin power, you know.”
Yet Gu Tuohai did not agree. “So what? People with potential are a dime a dozen. You specifically came to this damned place to find me, then took a huge detour instead of directly returning to the capital. It can’t be that you just want me to witness your mastery of the Art of Heaven’s Mystery, can it?”
Lin Xitang chuckled, and pointed toward the outside through the window. “I’m not that bored. Look there. If we consider the ratio of people who possess the potential to cultivate, the people of this airship junkyard are already no less than the civilian class of the Empire. You also know that, when the Empire moved to the upper continent, all of those that moved with it were the houses that possessed the potential to cultivate. Yet, after eight hundred years passed, the ratio of the Empire’s civilians who possess the potential to cultivate are even lower than that of the people in this junkyard. It seems as though the people of the Empire have lived their days in luxury for too long.”
“That may not be the case!” Gu Tuohai shook his head. “Having potential is one thing, and the degree to which an individual may cultivate is another. The houses that followed the Empire to the upper continent all had special gifts and talent in a certain aspect. Once they are able to awaken their cultivation potential, they would be able to advance to rank three or four at the very least. Meanwhile, the people below lack innate talent and are also twisted at heart. Cultivating to the first rank would already be their limit.”
“Yet it is more likely to awaken one’s potential in the depths of despair, making more with potential appear,” Lin Xitang said leisurely. “That is an undeniable truth.”
Gu Tuohai snorted loudly. “This is that natural selection thing of yours again! It’s been so many years now, yet you still have yet to see it proven!”
“I’m right, so what need is there to prove it? Look at the starry lights below. Those are the lights of our Empire’s bright heritage and the future hope of humankind. In the past, the ancestor of my house, the house of Lin, also set out from a place like this. After cutting down countless dark races in these hundred years, accumulating merit, and earning achievements, they went from the lowest level of the abandoned land to being considered nobility. Of this generation, I, Lin Xitang, have been entrusted with a heavy burden by his Majesty. Naturally, I should strive to complete my task to the best of my ability until the day I die! As long as it’s beneficial to the Empire, I will act without exception! I don’t mind a tiny bit of criticism.”
Gu Tuohai stomped his feet and huffed with rage. “That’s a tiny bit of criticism? I knew I couldn’t get through to a stubborn guy like you! Haaah. I, Gu Tuohai, must have momentarily gone crazy when I promised you ten more years of service to the Empire. In any case, I’m only going this time in order to handle some matters that I ought to take care of. Don’t count on me shouldering some great duty. Also, there better not be a shortage of good alcohol or beautiful women!”
Seeing Lin Xitang merely smile and remain quiet, Gu Tuohai couldn’t help but become slightly irritated. Pointing outside the window, he raised his voice slightly, “You see starlight, but I see people in a horrendous state of livelihood! If it weren’t for the Empire abandoning the Evernight Continent in the past, how would this place have become the abandoned land? Just look! How can anyone with actual aptitude even show up in this unfortunate place? If there is, then I’d rather believe that I’ve seen a f*cking ghost!”
Suddenly, right in the direction of his pointing finger, a thin pillar of red light appeared!
Even though the light was weak, it was extremely dazzling within the numerous starlike glimmers. Even the splendor of the blood moon that covered both the sky and earth could not obscure it.
Gu Tuohai was instantly dumbfounded as he mumbled, “C-could it be that I really saw a ghost?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter