Chapter 1: The Beginning of an End (1)
Among the brightly lit palace hall’s glorious, auspicious, and majestic atmosphere stood tall a proud altar burning an ember fire the color of the azure, it’s smoky flames rising and moving about in the palace hall.
The altar made of sandalwood tree herb released an aromatic fragrance when burned. The effect of the sandalwood tree calmed one’s soul and nourished the mind. It is a must-have for numerous cultivators. However, the price of the sandalwood tree is truly exorbitant. One must be of great stature or background to be able to purchase such valuable and precious item.
In the inner palace hall is a middle-aged man dressed in regal garments stood with his hands veiling the lower half of his face, his facial features strong, brows sharp, eyes ambient and dignified. He’d been holding his breath far too long. Then he breathed gently but it felt like a dragon soared the air, its roars proud and thunderous.
Though if one looked at his right arm, one would see it broken and limping.
Standing next to the man was a woman whose body was both elegant and graceful, a beautiful lady but at this moment, she looked extremely weak and pale.
Though broken, the man and woman were not someone many could afford to offend. Their status was high simply based on their choice of clothing. But irregardless, traces of tension could be seen on their face as they looked towards the bed where there was a boy sitting awkwardly. He looked around the age of thirteen or fourteen, his body somewhat thin and haggard. This was a boy whose face should’ve been bright and vibrant but was now red, bloody, and slightly bruised.
The strange thick red blood swayed back and forth on his meridians, roaring faintly as if ready to burst through any moment.
His spiritual energy coiled around his body, shaped like a dragon, whistling and roaring fervently. Sweat adorned his pale face, body trembling, swaying from side to side, and muttering incoherent words difficult to understand.
To the side was an aged old man with silver-white hair wielding a bronze mirror in hand, directing it towards the boy. The mirror shone a soft ambient light, shimmering the boy’s body in whole. Under the glimmering light, the strange thick red blood lessened, gradually calming down.
After the fragrance of the sandalwood tree herb burnt up, the boy’s spiritual qi retracted and went straight to his palms.
When the aged old man saw this scene, he immediately heaved a sigh of relief. He turned around, bowed deeply to the man and woman dressed in regal clothing who stood from the side waiting for the results, nervousness plastered on their face. “Congratulations to His and Her Majesty. His Royal Highness passed the big hurdle occurring once every three years. This Old One believes that he will be fine in the next three years to come.”
The man and woman gently smiled, their clenched fists gradually loosening upon hearing the aged old man’s words.
“Master Qin, Yuan’er is already thirteen. It is known that those who formed their Eighth Spiritual Meridians can begin to cultivate. Were you able to find Yuan’er’s Eighth Spiritual Meridians?” The middle-aged man dignified and imposing looked towards the aged old man, sincerely asking.
The aged old man suddenly had a sudden dark gloomy countenance. He shook his head bitterly, his eyes dimmed and foggy. “Your Majesty, this Old One was unable to find His Royal Highness’ Eighth Spiritual Meridians.”
In this world, The Way, the principal of all things begins with the human body. There are countless meridians, a path through which the qi flows inside the human body, but the most important amongst them all was the Eighth Spiritual Meridians. Except for certain circumstances deemed a special case, the average person, a villager at most, has eight meridians in their body. Around the age of two or three, the meridians in their body gradually takes shape. As they grow of age, one must be able to locate the source of their Eighth Spiritual Meridians. Only when they find their Eighth Spiritual Meridians can one begin to cultivate, harnessing the energies and swallowing the powers of the heavens and earth.
This is the beginnings of all cultivations.
Master Qin’s face was bleak like the world had fallen to its ends. The middle-aged man was no different, his countenance contorting to the point of unbearable.
“His Royal Highness’ source of life itself is the Sacred Dragon. It is proud, powerful, dignified, arrogant yet can bring about a set misfortune of disaster if one is unlucky.”
The middle-aged man’s palms clenched again. Beside him, the woman’s body trembled, sharply coughing twice, a ruddy complexion adorning her face.
“Ah! This Old One pleads that Her Majesty cares for her health and well-being. Her Majesty has already lost too much blood when nourishing His Royal Highness. Her Majesty must control her emotions!” Master Qin grew nervous and quickly advised the beautiful woman while sweat formed on side of his temples.
The pale beautiful woman in regal palace dress gently waved her hand, her eyes gazed towards the pitiful boy sitting on the bed. “….The poison in Yuan’er’s body breaks out once every three years, each time more powerful than the last. Yuan’er has the life of the Sacred Dragon so why does he live a difficult life?”
Master Qin was silent for a while before raising his head as he replied sincerely. “Your Majesty, after three years, this Old One is afraid that His Royal Highness will be unable to bear the torturous agonizing pain. It is as Your Majesty says, the potency of the poison in His Royal Highness’ body grows stronger each time. His Royal Highness may not be able to live then.”
The palace hall was silent. The words echoed throughout the air, each word spoken like a silent deadly knife piercing their hearts. The middle-aged man’s body shuddered, both his palms clenched tightly as if blood looked ready to ooze out any moment, and the beautiful pale woman in palace dress silently cried.
“Mother, father, I only have three years left in my life?” A soft, calm, tender voice suddenly echoed, breaking the quiet silence of the palace hall.
The three people lost in their own thoughts broke out from their trance, returning back to reality. They quickly looked up and saw a youthful boy whose eyes pierced their hearts. They did not know how long he’s been awake.
The three looked at each other, shock seen in their eyes. They hadn’t expected him to wake up so quickly. They thought he’d sleep for two or three days straight before slowly regaining a semblance of his consciousness.
“Yuan’er…” A voice called out.
The boy Yuan’er was named Zhou Yan by the middle-aged man, Zhou Qing and the beautiful pale woman, Qin Yu, the king and queen of the Zhou Dynasty.
Zhou Yan smiled lightly, his tender face pale as ever. His body had been weak since birth that all he could ever do, all he could only do was read books. His face was blank, silent for a short moment before slowly lowering his head, his eyes looking at his palms.
He saw layers of his own skin coated with dark blood the color of wine etched all around the palm of his hands and down towards his wrist. The etched markings squirmed faintly, giving the illusion of a dragon’s claw. A thick chilling grievance seemed to emanate from the air.
“Father, mother, this time… from now on you should always tell me. What is happening to me?”
Zhou Yan stared at his palms once more, gazed at the dark blood etched markings shaped like a dragon. It is this thing, this mark that made him realize what it meant to live a painful life.
Every three years brought him about endless excruciating pain as if someone had swallowed his flesh whole.
When Zhou Qing and Qin Yu heard Zhou Yan’s questioning plea, their bodies shuddered, deep regret and self-blame filled the whole of their bodies.
The surrounding atmosphere was silent for a long while, the air seemingly heavy at this moment. Zhou Qing finally took a deep breath, his voice hoarse. “This is Dragon’s Venom.”