Chapter 2: Hatred
“Don’t idle about!” Overseer Tian’s shout boomed over the many voices which were now more focused on chatting than on training. By reflex, everyone quieted down as soon as Overseer Tian raised his voice. If they didn’t do so, they were in for a small beating, and unfortunately, even a small beating from an expert like Overseer Tian was bound to hurt a lot, so everyone closed their mouths instantly.
“Start running around the field. Fifty laps and then you can have a short break!” Yelling out the new instructions, Overseer Tian smiled with satisfaction as all the children started running.
Some of these students were already breathing raggedly because their cultivation levels were far too low, but surprisingly, some of the children kept running at a steady pace with only a few drops of sweat falling from their faces.
Leading the group of students was the young master, who managed to run at a decent speed. His complexion appeared relatively energetic and his speed was nice and steady. Behind him ran his entourage of noble young boys, all of whom were sweating noticeably more than the young master.
Behind the entourage was Xu Min. Not even one drop of sweat was visible on his face as he managed to keep up with the speed that the young master set. Seeing how easily Xu Min followed them, Overseer Tian secretly mocked the young master and his friends because Xu Min, a servant boy, was keeping up with them without breaking a sweat.
The sun was high in the sky. Its harsh rays shone down on the children until their bodies started screaming in complaint from the mixture of the harsh sun and the strenuous exercise. More and more sweat started to appear on their faces and bare upper bodies as they kept running, one round after another.
Finally, the young master finished the fifty laps. Exhaustion was visible on his face as he dragged his worn out body towards the shade of a tree, where he sat down gasping for air with his eyes glued onto Xu Min and hate shining in them.
The young master’s entourage had long since fallen behind, leaving second place to Xu Min. Seeing how Xu Min even now had only a few drops of sweat falling from his forehead, anger twisted the young master’s face as he gritted his teeth. He tore his focus away from the Xu Min, contemplating on how he would get his revenge on him.
Two days ago, Xu Min stepped into the realm of cultivators. He became a Student Warrior and his strength was no longer something to be trifled with. He was slightly younger than the young master, but his cultivation base seemed to be even above those of ten years old and older.
The young master sighed deeply as he remembered how his father had handed another medicinal pill to him last night. It forced him to think that it would have been better if he had that insane cultivation talent himself instead of this young kid from the servant quarters.
Thinking about this sore subject made the young master angry. Currently, he was able to keep up with Xu Min when it came to cultivation due to the many medicinal pills, herbal baths, acupuncture, and various other helpful methods he used to improve his cultivation. The only reason why he was able to use them was due to the fact that he was the oldest son of the Zhong family. He also had outstanding talent compared to others at his age, but despite all this, his talent was dwarfed next to Xu Min’s; they couldn’t even be compared!
He knew that even his father, the person he looked up to the most, had taken notice of Xu Min’s outstanding talent. This was the last straw. The young master could no longer control himself. Anger burst forth, turning his eyes red as he looked over at the boy who was leisurely leaning against a tree. Xu Min appeared nonchalant and unburdened as if he did not just run fifty laps around the field.
Their break was short, and as soon as the final person finished the fiftieth lap, Overseer Tian stepped forward once again, his voice booming out, “You need to learn balance. Put all your weight on your arms and slowly raise your body up, then lower it again. You are not allowed to touch the ground with anything other than your hands! The Student Warriors among you are only allowed to have their fingertips touching the ground!”
Hearing the instructions, all the students sighed deeply, but everyone did exactly as they were told. While the majority held their bodies up with their palms touching the ground, about ten children were supporting their entire weight on their fingertips alone.
“Don’t fall down yet!” Yelled Overseer Tian after an hour had passed, as some students could no longer resist and started dropping to the ground utterly exhausted. “Get back up! Keep working hard! Balance and endurance are the keys to success!”
Everyone who heard Overseer Tian would think that his behaviour caused his students to loathe him; however, he was a very well-liked man and someone whom all the students respected.
The reason for this was very simple, Overseer Tian was previously a captain in the Royal Army, where he had legions of soldiers beneath him! He was a man of the world with hundreds of amazing stories and a real Warrior, someone who had seen blood and death. All his students naturally admired him.
The training took most of the afternoon. Xu Min enjoyed the training as always. He liked the feeling of improvement and his dream was to join the army one day, where he could rely on his hard work to make his way up until he could become a general.
A general was a high ranking position in the Royal Army and was considered the utmost pinnacle of cultivators. Anyone who became a general would be showered with riches and prestige, which would make their life much simpler.
Xu Min had no wish to become a general for the sake of fame and glory. No, Xu Min wished to become a general so that he would earn enough money, to provide for him and his older sister. This position and wealth would also ensure that no one would dare to bully either of them ever again.
What Xu Min needed the most right now was a position where he could earn money. With money, it would be possible for the young boy to protect his sister. That was what he learned from the world where even his own parents had to sell him and Xu Wu so they wouldn’t starve to death.
These were the thoughts that drove Xu Min and forced him to keep working hard. His eyes gleamed with determination and his breathing quickly changed to follow a specific pattern, which Overseer Tian taught to him. Golden specks surrounded his body as every muscle was pulled taut, soaking in the golden specks Xu Min inhaled.
Xu Min had entered the ideal training stance, becoming one with the world around him. It was an act that was very hard to achieve, but the boy’s stubbornness and grand ideas were what pushed him beyond his limits every single day, allowing him to accomplish things that others his age could not achieve.
Overseer Tian’s shock changed to astonishment as he saw Xu Min’s accomplishment. A flash of pride was shown on his face, because the child had listened to every instruction Overseer Tian had ever given, from which Xu Min greatly benefitted.
While Overseer Tian was feeling proud and amazed by the sudden change, the young master of the Zhong Family felt a sour taste in his mouth as his eyes narrowed slightly and filled with hate once again.
The young master was perfectly well aware of Xu Min’s talent and because the boy had no one to back him up, the young master was certain that if he truly wished to kill him, then no one would get in his way.
The only reason that Xu Min was still alive was because the young master did not just wish to kill him. He wished to thoroughly humiliate Xu Min before he finally ended his life. To make him taste the same agony which he felt every morning while he had to look at Xu Min. He wished to break the proud young man, only to let him wallow in self pity and hate. He wanted to break him so hard that he would want to die, but wouldn’t have the ability to do so.
While the young master was thinking these thoughts, Xu Min continued to stay on the training ground long after everyone else had finished and gone home. He stayed in his trancelike stance, pushing the limits of his endurance and forcing his fingers to support his weight the whole time. Only when the sun began to set behind the horizon did Xu Min stand up, his fingers numb and his arms filled with a strange prickling feeling.
A large smile was evident on Xu Min’s face as he slowly clenched his fists, feeling a sensation of strength rushing through his body.
“Don’t start slacking off just because you reached the Student Warrior rank!” A voice said from behind Xu Min. It was Overseer Tian who had been watching him the whole time. He walked up to Xu Min, who still had an expression like he was drunk on his newly acquired power on his face.
“What I taught you was how to strengthen the body and to use specific martial arts; however, to be able to use this strength you need be able to cultivate Qi on your own.”
Hearing the same words every single day, Xu Min nodded his head seriously, his eyes shining happily as he knew that Overseer Tian was reminding him for his sake. Xu Min could not help but feel grateful to the older man.
“I promise to work hard!”, Xu Min promised with a slight bow, then the young boy rushed back towards his home, where Xu Wu was waiting for him.
It was now evening, which meant it was also time for dinner. Dinner was always congee, which was why it could get repetitive at times, but his sister Xu Wu was very good at cooking so it did not happen too often. She would regularly talk about what the women in the household had done the previous day. Due to this, Xu Min knew much of the gossip about the Zhong family. Although he lived a poor life, the young boy loved to laugh at the many intrigues and masquerades that happened in the family just because they were rich.
Although Xu Min wanted money, he only wanted it for the sake of stabilizing his and his beloved sister’s lives, but sadly he knew that this dream was very far away.
Walking towards his home, Xu Min was filled with excitement, wondering what gossip he would hear about today. A smile appeared on his face as he rushed back home.
A short while later, Xu Min frowned slightly and wrinkles appeared on his face as he noticed unexpected smell on his way home. His eyes widened in fear, as he realized which direction this smell was coming from.
It was the pungent scent of smoke from burning wet wood! Xu Min started running very fast, yelling, “FIRE, FIRE!” Xu Min yelled as loudly as he could, straining his lungs as he gasped for air.
The shouts caused the quiet and peaceful Zhong family compound to burst into action as some families started to gather water buckets and others blankets. People from every house appeared and followed Xu Min as he rushed to his home.
After he furiously ran around the last turn, Xu Min nearly stopped in his tracks as he saw the young master and his friends watching the house burn. Scared expressions could be seen on their faces as screams could be heard from inside the house.
As soon as he heard the shrill cry, Xu Min’s eyes widened. He accelerated to run as fast as he could, but by the time he got to the front of the house, the house had already been completely swallowed up by the vicious flames.
Jumping into the nearby stream, Xu Min soaked himself from head to toe and rushed into the house, prepared to rescue his only family member at any cost.
Xu Min kicked some burning wood away from the door and ripped it open. He managed to completely shatter its charred remnants by doing so and fearlessly entered into the small shack.
Although it was considered the residence of Xu Min and Xu Wu, it was truly just one room which was used as both kitchen and bedroom. Although the young boy used to wish for a mansion to live in rather than this shack, he was now grateful that everything was gathered in just one room.
Shock filled Xu Min as he saw a figure collapsed on the floor. With a scream of pain, Xu Min managed to drag her out of the cabin. It was not one moment too late, since the shack collapsed behind him in flames.