A note from KrazeKode

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Today's shout goes to Apocalypse Cultist!

Accomplished Alchemist and Enchanter Dorian Skeil Winterborn has a simple goal: unleash the power of the Abyss on the world, dethrone the Gods, and destroy the System they created.

It would be a lot easier if he hadn’t been saddled with a pesky young apprentice from a place called ‘Earth.’

I walked across the plains, taking in the rushing wind. Chi flowed through my feet, my steps barely touching the ground as I stepped throughout the whole way. The sensation was akin to being flung off and at the edge of falling, as the world seemed to warp around me, yet I never hit the ground. There was something oddly relaxing about speeding through grassy plains, following no particular path in general as the world stretched on endlessly.

Little tid bits that I’d picked up jingled in my pouch. If allowed to, I would’ve emptied the entire place, but for now, I only took the bare minimum of things. There will be time later to utilise the Lord’s generosity, but for now, we had a new drug industry to start.

As I closed in towards Taizhou, I slowed my steps down, returning to a more regular run, before transitioning into a light jog. The sun was setting as I walked down the hill that led towards the entrance path of the village. Reaching a bit closer, I sensed a small crowd gathered around the village head’s place.

Watching the people walk past, I could see an odd tension in their body language. Speeding up my approach, I walked closer, when a familiar face stopped me. Chen, the blacksmith and carpenter of the village found me, a worried expression on his face.

“We’d been looking for you Lu Jie. There’s a visitor in the village. A cultivator,” the man said, walking beside me. I frowned, glancing towards the Village head’s home. Sure enough, I could sense a first realm cultivator.

“What are they here for?” I asked, speeding up on my way over.

“The sect sent a messenger,” the man replied. Before he could finish, I was already rushing over.

Making my way through the crown, I walked up to stand beside the village head. The man briefly glanced towards me, but there was none of the regular nervousness or courtesy in his eyes.

“What is it?” I asked, glancing down, when the village head handed me the scroll.

“They’ve decided to terminate their trade with Taizhou for spirit herbs, and withdraw their protection,” the village head said grimly.

Silently, I held the official scroll in my hand with the termination of the contract for buying the spirit crystals and spirit herbs produced in the village of Taizhou, and its protection from spirit beasts and the like.

I’d expected Elder Yan to do something petty like this, the only thing that surprised me was how long it took him to do it. Despite my anticipation of the event, I did not feel any less angry as I heard the villager’s fearful whispers and saw the anger and frustration crawling upon their faces.

It was not easy for villages like these to survive on their own, not in proximity to something like this Qi vein and especially not when winter was this close to arriving in full force. Winter was when spirit beast activity was its highest. The solstice was a day notable for the rise of demonic beasts and even just that single day alone was why many villages had protection contracts with sects. Without the protection of the sect, and they would be far more susceptible to attacks by both spirit beasts and bandits looking to lay claim to the resources present here.

The only real solution was to offer the produce to some other sect or clan, yet on the seventh peak the only ones who could were the Lord and the Cloudy Peaks sect. With one of them out of the picture, and the other unlikely to put any further aggression towards the sect, they were caught in between a rock and a hard place.

It would not be unreasonable for the villagers to blame my arrival for the problems, and try to remove me to provide a solution for it. Though I doubt it’d work, even if they did make me leave, I doubt the elder would simply let them have the agreement back that easily. It was a simple tactic, to create trouble for me, especially since they knew they were the one who held authority here. But that didn’t make me any less angry at being on the receiving end of it.

I turned towards the village head, surprised to see the man’s expression remain rather calm. Lines dotted his forehead as the man frowned, but there was no nervousness that I could usually spot in Guo Zou. He stood with his back straight, and calmly talked with the disciple. It was futile, I knew as much, the disciple was at the peak of the second realm and would have no authority, but from the village head’s perspective, it was his only method to understand the situation and he made the best use of it. I could see why the man had done so well in his position as village chief over the years.

“I thank you for coming all the way here to deliver the message, honoured cultivator. Please relay my regrets for events that have turned out this way to the sect,” Guo Zou said to the disciple when nothing came of their talks. The boy nodded once, glancing at me warily. He wasn’t surprised to see me here, so he’d known of my presence. I suppose word had spread around, as it had been bound to. I did cause a huge mess right before I left. After the brief glance, the disciple walked away, making his way back to the sect.

Guo Zou turned to face the gathered crowd of villagers looking at him with worried expressions. “It is a difficult time that lies ahead of us,” the man said to the crowd, glancing to observe their faces one by one. “But we’ve faced such things before. Both the wretched beasts, and the wrath of cultivators. And we will do so again, as long as we remain united.”

I saw nods coming from some of the villagers, yet others looked far from satisfied from the man’s words.

“We did so because of the sect’s protection. Even when the elder Guo had founded this village, it had been with the sect’s protection. How in heaven’s name are we going to get money now? Or protection? If the cultivators have forsaken us then this place will soon be overrun by spirit beasts! And without herbs and crystals from the mine to sell… how will any of us eat?” a woman shouted, clutching a young baby in her arms. Similar shouts of protests rose from the crowd, as anxiety and uncertainty rose among the villagers.

“If I may,” I spoke, interjecting the shouting crowd. Though I did not inject any Chi in my voice, they listened to me with rapid attention just the same. “My friends and I are heavily in debt to this village. I know some of you will not agree, but that is how I feel. This village has provided us a home to stay as, and treated us as one of you. It is only right that we give back. No one here will have to worry about the spirit beasts, we will protect and guard the village perimeters,” I said, quieting down some of the protesting voices.

“That’s still just spirit beasts. What about the mines and the herbs? We still won’t have any food to eat if we don’t sell them, and with winter almost here… the children will starve,” a man asked. The village head spoke up in my place.

“I have a treasury stacked away. It has enough to keep us afloat through winter. I will arrange some trade agreements in the meanwhile. The heavens are not merciless. When they close a path, they open another one. This is merely a trial, and it is especially crucial that in these trying times, we support each other,” the village head said, standing straight with his eyes set forward.

One by one, I saw the villagers nod and reply in agreement, their fears calmed for the moment. Eventually, the villagers began to return to their homes to discuss and make plans with their families, while some others remained to discuss with the village head.

I watched them talk, my eyes briefly taking note of Yin and Yan Yun, standing nearby with varying expressions of concerns and curiosity.

As I mulled over my plans, the two girls made their way towards me. Yan Yun stood next to me, her fists balled and even without a spirit bond, I could sense her anger as clear as day.

“Do you think… no what am I saying. This was most certainly my grandfather’s work.”

“Likely,” I replied, looking ahead at the villagers talking and fretting. “But that does not mean you’re responsible,” I said, turning back to look at Yan Yun.

“How can I not be?” Yan Yun asked, her voice wavering as she looked me in the eye.

“Because I am too. And because your grandfather’s choices are not yours. He has made his decision, and now I will make mine. There is no avoiding this conflict that has begun,” I said, turning to face the village of Taizhou and its residents.

Perhaps there had never been a way to avoid this. If not Li and Lei, then there would’ve been someone else who would’ve stepped on my toes. Sect elders, lords, bandits. There was no end to it. This world was tied in the chase for immortality, that as long as you had power, your actions were justified.

I clenched my fists, letting out a deep exhale. Feeling my anger settled, I looked sideways. For a brief moment, my eyes met Yin’s and I saw a strange pause in her gaze, as if she wanted to say something. But if that was so, then the girl did not seem up to the task, quickly diverting her eyes away instead.

I ignored it for the moment. “Yan Yun, can you get my spirits? Zhang bring Granny and everyone else at the village head’s place. We need to discuss some things.”

Yan Yun nodded, stepping away. Yin looked at me briefly, before running after Yan Yun. I let out a breath, reaching out to Labby, Sheldon and Twilight through my bond.

Stepping to the village, I patted the man’s shoulders. Guo Zou turned towards me, grim wrinkles dotting the corner of his eyes, but the man kept a composed face. “What can I do for you Lu Jie?” the man asked calmly.

“I believe I have some important things to discuss with you. I may have a way out of this problem for all of us,” I said to the man.

Guo Zou looked at me with wide eyes. The man’s composure returned quickly, and he nodded, heading towards his chamber.

I followed behind him, gathering my resolve at the discussions to come. If I succeed, then this would be it. The first step towards a new era.

A note from KrazeKode

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About the author


  • Far away from humans
  • I have a pet turtle. His name is George. George doesn't like you.

Bio: I took up the keyboard.

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