Mother Yu’s full name was Xuan Yu, and Qi Ying wasn’t actually her son.
Qi Ying heard from Xuan Yu that she had left home at the age of sixteen and had found Qi Ying during her travels. He had been buried under the debris of a village, which had been robbed, its people massacred, and burned to the ground. At the time, he seemed to have only been a few hours old. Thus, Xuan Yu’s maternal instincts got the better of her, and she took him to Nameless City, which was a small city within the Celestial River County. She earned money by washing clothes for a few of the rich families in the city and raised him with that income.
Qi Ying’s name had a similar pronunciation to that of ‘abandoned infant’.
If it weren’t for the fact that Xuan Yu had stumbled upon him, he would have been an infant that had been abandoned by this world.
As for his left hand, Xuan Yu told him that she had initially thought that it was the result of a burn injury. However, after taking him to a clinic for some tests, they discovered that this was not the case. No one knew exactly why Qi Ying’s left hand was the way it was. It was as hard as dark iron. Some doctors suggested amputating Qi Ying’s arm in fear that if the situation were allowed to develop further, Qi Ying’s entire body would eventually be transformed into a black rock. Xuan Yu turned down this course of action.
Qi Ying’s troubles began when he was four years old. One day, Xuan Yu was late in getting home, as she had too many clothes to wash. Little Qi Ying didn’t have any dinner to eat, and he suddenly fell to the ground and began rolling around in agony. All of the blood within his entire body flowed toward his left hand, and he almost died. Ever since that time, Qi Ying had been blighted by this condition. Every time his body lacked energy, for instance, if he were to go hungry for too long or expended too much energy hunting for wild animals in the mountains, he would suffer a relapse and be struck by excruciating pain.
As he grew up, his left hand’s appetite continued to increase. Initially, Qi Ying only had to fill his stomach in order to prevent relapses. However, he was soon required to take pills meant for warriors. Furthermore, ninety-five percent of the power within those pills was absorbed by his left hand, leaving a measly five percent for Qi Ying to absorb.
Pills were a lot more expensive than food, and even at eleven years old, Qi Ying had to take several “Strength Bolstering Pills” per month. After that, he had to take “Strength Enhancement Pills” and even “Great Strength Pills”. Thus, Qi Ying was forced to join the Nameless City hunting party at the tender age of twelve, in order to hunt for game in the mountains. At that time, Xuan Yu also lost her eyesight due to a mishap in Nameless City, and thus Qi Ying became the sole bread-winner in the family.
However, Qi Ying managed to rise to the occasion and shouldered the burden with aplomb. Perhaps due to the fact that he had consumed many pills in his life, he was a lot stronger than the average hunter and could fight tigers, boars, and black bears with his bare hands. In an ironic twist, his left hand became his best weapon, and as long as he had enough strength, he could pulverize a black bear’s hand with a single punch.
Additionally, Qi Ying also joined the Nameless City patrol squad. A few years after that, he was taken under the wing of a retired boxer and became extremely proficient in hand-to-hand combat. Even though Qi Ying was just an ordinary human at the time, many Strength Martial Stage warriors were already no match for him.
Furthermore, under the teachings of the beautiful and knowledgeable Xuan Yu, Qi Ying became well-versed in many fields, such as astronomy, humanities, geography, and calligraphy, as well as playing woodwind instruments. As he grew up, he became more and more handsome and developed to become a refined, well-mannered young man. There were many prominent families in Nameless City that offered their daughters for future arranged marriages and were willing to give Qi Ying and Xuan Yu all types of riches as dowries. Qi Ying was very touched, but he still refused all of them. “Everyone has their own preferences. You are all beautiful, but none of you suit my tastes. We are indeed lacking in wealth, but that is something that can be earned.”
Night had fallen and Qi Ying was lying on his bed while reminiscing about events of the past. He suddenly sat up and for some reason, his thoughts turned to An Ruyi, who had been pestering him during the day. “Hmph! I rejected so many beautiful women that are three hundred times better-looking than her. What makes her think that she would catch my eye? Could it be... that An Ruyi has figured out who I am? That shouldn’t be the case... I was wearing a mask that day...” “Ptui, why am I thinking about her? I’ll be able to see the woman of my dreams in a month.”
Qi Ying picked up the silver glove on his bedside table before slipping it onto his hand. He flexed his left hand to find that it felt no different from normal.
“I really don’t know whether I should thank you or curse you!”
Qi Ying sighed.
During his younger days, he had always detested his left hand, but at the same time, his left hand had been very useful in important situations. For example, two months prior, his left hand had helped him accomplish something very important in his life. It was exactly due to this that he had insisted on coming to the Celestial River County despite Xuan Yu’s objections.
Qi Ying then picked up the small jade vial of Energy Containment Pills on the table and looked at the eight pills left inside.
After that, Qi Ying closed his eyes and unleashed his internal inspection skill to survey his bodily condition. He could see that among his nine major acupoints, there were already seven that were filled with grey energy. Furthermore, wisps of grey energy had also appeared in his eighth acupoint.
In the Strength Martial Stage, one had to refine spiritual energy, and progression took place when the major acupoints began to nurture spiritual energy.
Once all nine major acupoints were filled, the spiritual energy would converge to form an energy vortex within one’s dantian, thereby creating a True Energy circulation system, which would take one to the Energy Martial Stage.
“I’m about to reach the Eighth Strength Martial Stage!”
Qi Ying was not elated in the slightest by this observation. Instead, he was feeling a little concerned.
If he were to reach the Energy Martial Stage before turning sixteen, he would be considered one of the elite disciples of the academy. In that case, he would become quite influential even outside of the academy, and would be regarded as a respected figure within the county.
“To think that I was just an ordinary human with no cultivation base when I came to the Celestial River County two months ago. I reached the Sixth Strength Martial Stage after cultivating for just six days according to an elementary cultivation method I bought from some shop. I wonder if the disciples and teachers at the academy would get heart attacks if they were to learn about this!”
Qi Ying pursed his lips.
In reality, he wanted to break through to the Energy Martial Stage, and if he put his mind to it, he would be able to make the breakthrough in about a month. However, he didn’t dare to do that.
On one hand, he was afraid that he would attract too much attention if others were to hear about his prodigious cultivation aptitude, as becoming too renowned was not always a good thing. For example, if a rare species of mutant beasts were discovered in the mountains, they would inevitably be targeted by hunters.
On the other hand, he knew the importance of building a strong foundation in cultivation. If his cultivation base rose too quickly but his foundation was unstable, he could encounter a lengthy plateau following this meteoric rise. An analogy to the fruits that ripened too early in the mountains could be drawn here; most of them were quite small and not very sweet.
Most importantly, he wouldn’t have enough pills to satisfy his left hand, if he were to make this breakthrough.
Back when he had no cultivation base, he could take one Great Strength Pill per week to ensure that his left hand didn’t relapse. However, after reaching the Seventh Strength Martial Stage, he had to take virtually one Great Strength Pill per day and even that was starting to become insufficient.
“Looks like I’ll have to go to the Colosseum tomorrow. The missions at the academy aren’t enough to feed this guy!”
In a secluded county such as the Celestial River County, the only tourist attraction worthy of note to the nobles was the Celestial River County’s Colosseum. There were over a thousand beasts there, as well as countless slaves from foreign tribes. Additionally, there were even some poverty-stricken local warriors who were willing to take the risk and battle at the Colosseum for financial income.
All spectators at the Colosseum only had to pay a certain fee to be treated to one or many thrilling battles to the death. Some wealthy nobles even paid large sums in order to choose the beasts and people that were going to be involved in the Colosseum battles.
There had been an accident a few days prior in which a beast had escaped from its cage and wounded many bystanders. However, the Colosseum had only closed down for a day as a result, and it had still been packed to the rafters following its reopening. Weren’t the spectators afraid of another accident? No! The chances of another accident taking place were far too low, and everyone was adamant in the belief that misfortune surely wouldn’t strike them.
Within the Colosseum.
There was still some time before the commencement of the first colosseum battle, but the place was already filled with people. The stands were packed with several thousand spectators, and all of them were yelling impatiently in anticipation of the first battle.
Qi Ying wore a cloak as he passed through the throngs of people. He walked into a dark corridor and past a flickering light before opening a door. “Hello, I would like to participate in a colosseum battle.”
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