Chapter 1: Eight Hundred Years Later
“Chi Yao, I love you with all my heart… Why do you want to kill me?”
Zhang Ruochen loudly wailed and fell forward. “Creak…” He compressed the metallic bed and sat up all of a sudden.
” It was just a dream! ” he thought as he let out a sigh. He felt relieved and wiped the sweat from his forehead with his sleeves.
“That was not a dream!” He was suspicious of what he had seen in the dream.
In fact, it was hard to believe that everything he had experienced with Princess Chi Yao was just a dream!
Zhang Ruochen was the only child of Emperor Ming, one of the nine great emperors in Kunlun’s Field. Before his death, he was a talented warrior, sophisticated, with an incredible physical quality and thus cultivated the completion of the Heaven Realm, the highest level in Martial Arts, at the young age of 16.
However, when he became the first person in the younger generation of Kunlun’s Field, he died at the hands of his childhood sweetheart and fiancee, Princess Chi Yao.
Princess Chi Yao was the daughter of Emperor Qing, one of the nine great emperors.
Back in the old days, Emperor Ming and Emperor Qing were best friends. They even arranged the marriage between Zhang Ruochen and Princess Chi Yao. The childhood lovers grew up and practiced Martial Arts together. Zhang Ruochen was an attractive, talented young man while Chi Yao was a pretty and elegant lady. They were known as “the perfect match” throughout the field of Martial Arts. Their marriage would have been the hottest subject in the entire Kunlun’s Field.
However, Zhang Ruochen had never expected that Princess Chi Yao would indeed put him to death.
Unfortunately, he could not prevent what was going to happen to him. Now, it was 800 years later when he arose from the dead.
Princess Chi Yao had lived a different life since then. She settled the Incident of the Nine Emperors, united the Nine Empires, and built the First Central Empire. She even dominated the empire and became Empress Chi Yao, the backbone of the entirety of Kunlun’s Field.
After all, the Nine Emperors who once ruled over Kunlun’s Field 800 years ago had disappeared among the endless flow of history.
The Nine Emperors died and then the empress took over.
Every era had its own sovereignty, and this era was no exception—the one and only emperor who conquered the region and led the kingdom was Empress Chi Yao.
“Why did she kill me? How could she be so cruel? Is it true that every woman in this world is ruthless?” Zhang Ruochen was desperate and confused.
All the suspicions revolved around Zhang Ruochen’s head. His sharp penetrating eyes, heavy disconcerted heart, and a doubtful brain… but no one could help him.
800 years had passed. Everything changed except for Empress Chi Yao, who cultivated her stunning appearance and immortality. Even Zhang Ruochen’s family and friends had passed away and were buried underneath the soil.
Not to mention the prestigious and honorable Nine Emperors, who only left over some splendid stories to be read with admiration for posterity.
A fragile-looking woman who was dressed in the imperial uniform came into the room while Zhang Ruochen was lying in bed. She looked at him with concern and gently asked, “Chen-er, did you have a bad dream again?”
Concubine Lin, who was the pretty woman standing in front of Zhang Ruochen, was his mother in this life, as well as the wife of the Yunwu Commandery Prince.
Indeed, the owner of this body had died in bed three days ago from an illness.
Zhang Ruochen arose from the dead and appeared in this feeble body after being killed by Princess Chi Yao. Without knowing how, he brought the dead young man back to life. What a coincidence, the name of this young man was also called Zhang Ruochen.
When Zhang Ruochen first arose from the dead, he was struggling to talk to Concubine Lin. Somehow, in his eyes, she was just a stranger.
And yet, after being around her for three days, Zhang Ruochen gradually realized that Concubine Lin indeed thoroughly cared about him. Furthermore, knowing that he had woken up in the middle of the night frightened by nightmares, Concubine Lin rushed to Zhang Ruochen’s room no matter how bad the weather was.
In Zhang Ruochen’s last lifetime, he had never seen his mother. It seemed that his mother had died after giving birth to him. He never imagined that after being put to death by someone that he loved the most, he would have been given another chance to live again in another body and have a mother who would take care of him, to let him feel the warmth that he had never experienced.
Zhang Ruochen thought. “Maybe she doesn’t know that her own son has already been dead for three days!”
If Zhang Ruochen told her the truth, she might not be able to handle the grievous news. He would rather keep his mouth shut about it and pretend like nothing ever happened. To Zhang Ruochen, it was a “two bird, one stone” situation that he got to live again, and additionally, Concubine Lin had her son back.
Looking at the beautiful Concubine Lin, Zhang Ruochen’s eyes became gentle. “Mom, don’t worry about me. It was just a dream.” he said with a smile to his mother.
The thin Concubine Lin was sitting at the bedside of Zhang Ruochen, wearing a red marten fur coat to keep warm. She rubbed his forehead, looking worried. “It’s the third night that you’ve woken up with nightmares. You keep mentioning the name ‘Chi Yao’ every time. Who exactly is she?” Concubine Lin whispered.
Concubine Lin could not link this name “Chi Yao” to the First Central Empire Empress Chi Yao.
In fact, Empress Chi Yao named herself the “Holy Queen of Majesty and Morality” after uniting Kunlun’s Field and building the First Central Empire. Since then, no one dared to mention the two words “Chi Yao”.
“It’s nothing mom, you must have misheard me!” Zhang Ruochen comforted his mother.
Concubine Lin said with a sigh, “Never mention the two words ‘Chi Yao’ again. Not even in your dreams. That was the name of Empress Chi Yao. Saying the Empress’ name is very impolite. If someone heard you say this, you might be subject to death!”
Zhang Ruochen nodded his head, pinched his fingers, and said as an apology, “Never again, my mother!”
Zhang Ruochen felt outraged knowing what Chi Yao had done to him, and noticing the fear from his mother talking about Chi Yao, he furiously made a resolution. “I will be your nightmare forever after!”
Looking at the thin and pale Zhang Ruochen, Concubine Lin exhaled deeply and felt exceptional sorrow.
Zhang Ruochen was always sick ever since he was born. Being raised in a Commandery Prince’s family with the best doctors and medication did not help him much. He was 16 years old now, but still needed to rest in bed all the time. Perhaps this would be how he would live for the rest of his life.
All of a sudden, there was a great sound of footsteps outside the palace.
“What are you guys doing here? Who authorized you to come and mess around the Jade Palace?” said a good-looking maidservant who wanted to stop the Eighth Prince from breaking into the palace. Yet she was being pushed, and she fell 10 meters away.
The Eighth Prince was a warrior who cultivated himself to reach the Advanced Stage of the Yellow Realm. He could probably knock a 300 pound stone tray 10 feet with nothing but his fist, never mind a maidservant who only weighed 100 pounds.
With a slight flick of his finger, the maidservant would seem as if she had been struck with a mighty force.
She plummeted to the ground and, breaking her left arm, let out a wild scream.
The Eighth Prince was wearing a Golden-Thread dress, covered with a jade belt resting on his waist. He was muscular and strong, making every footstep steady as he walked into the Jade Palace. He stared at the court maid and said, “You’re blocking my way, slave? You don’t deserve to be in my presence!”
Behind the Eighth Prince, there were six royal guards wearing kylin armor, tall and solid. They were all martial arts monks that excelled at their craft and were part of the royal security guards.
Concubine Lin noticed the noise outside. She comforted Zhang Ruochen, closed the door, and proceeded to the Jade Palace.
With a slight scowl on her face, she stood in front of the Eighth Prince, who was now inside the palace, and said, “This is the Jade Palace. Even though you are a prince, you still can’t break in here.”
Eighth Prince Zhang Ji lifted his head and stared at Concubine Lin. “The queen commands that the place of Concubine Lin and my ninth brother will now move to Ziyi Side Hall. From now on, the Jade Palace will belong to my biological mother, Concubine Xiao,” said the Eighth Prince.
Concubine Lin appeared slightly unsettled. She had already anticipated that this day would come but did not expect it to arrive so soon.
Concubine Lin smiled sadly and said, “The queen demands us to leave the Jade Palace. Ruochen and I will move to the side hall tomorrow!”
“I’m sorry, Concubine Lin, but my mother wants to move to the Jade Palace tonight. Please leave here right away!” the Eighth Prince responded.
Knowing that Zhang Ruochen was weak and could not bear to move around, Concubine Lin appealed to the Eighth Prince and said, “You know that Ruochen is very fragile, and it is getting late and colder outside now. What if…”
The Eighth Prince sneered and exclaimed. “Concubine Lin, there are so many poor people in this world and not every one of them is worth the help. If my ninth brother is that weak, then what is the point of him staying alive?”
“He is your brother!” Concubine Lin yelled at the Eighth Prince.
Concubine Lin was about to say something, but suddenly the door behind her opened up.
It was Zhang Ruochen. Though he was weak and could barely stand, while leaning on the door, he stared at the Eighth Prince and said, “Don’t beg for their mercy, we shall leave now!” Zhang Ruochen looked sick, but his strong determination to protect his mother never wavered.
“Chen-er, why did you leave your bed? It’s freezing outside! Go back to your room and stay warm!” Concubine Lin was worried at the thought of Zhang Ruochen getting ill, so she immediately helped him back to his room.
Zhang Ruochen shook his head firmly and said, “Mom, we don’t need to beg anyone. One day, we’ll be back here. We will be back in Jade Palace!”
Concubine Lin was touched by Zhang Ruochen’s determination. She nodded her head with tears in her eyes.
Concubine Lin held him and left the Jade Palace. Other than the maidservant who had broken her arm from being hit by the Eighth Prince, every one of the helpers had to stay for their own well-being.
Everyone in the place noticed that Concubine Lin and the Ninth Prince had completely lost their power. There was barely any chance of them reclaiming back their power in the Commandery Prince’s mansion.
The maidservants who were working for Concubine Lin in the Jade Palace had prudently chosen to stay behind and work for the new master, the Eighth Prince.
After being kicked out by the Eighth Prince, Concubine Lin and Zhang Ruochen had been relocated to Ziyi Side Hall. It was usual for the queens who had lost their power. It was quiet, far from the palace, and felt like it had been empty for a long time.
The cold wind was bleak on this late night.
Sitting on a freezing stone chair, the frail Zhang Ruochen wore a thick coat. Yet, during this frigid winter, he still felt exceptionally cold.
“This body is too weak! The only way to build up this body is through practicing Martial Arts. If I don’t, even with my status as the son of the Commandery Prince, my mother and I will only be manipulated by others.” thought Zhang Ruochen.
800 years had passed, Zhang Ruochen did not know where he would be welcome. Now that it was arranged for him to live again within this body, he did not care if it was for seeking revenge on Empress Chi Yao, or for the mother who took care of him–he needed to be strong either way.
The humiliation they had suffered was all because of the weakness of Zhang Ruochen. With no resistance, he had no control over his own destiny. Even the place that he lived had been snatched away. All of this built up the motivation for Zhang Ruochen to come back as a capable man, to protect his mother and take back control of his own fate.
Zhang Ruochen knew that if he wanted people to respect him and wanted a better place to live, then he needed to be a warrior, and prove to everyone out there that he was capable of being a warrior.
To be a warrior in Kunlun’s Field, obtaining the “Sacred Mark” was the first essential step.
The so-called “Sacred Mark” was the qualification given by the gods for humans to practice Martial Arts. People who did not open the “Sacred Mark” would never cultivate Genuine Qi, and hence, could never be the leader of heaven and earth.
Zhang Ruochen was already 16 and still had not obtained the “Sacred Mark”.
People would miss out on the best ages for cultivation after the age of 16. Even if the “Sacred Mark” had been opened after that, not a lot of achievements would be made.
Both the Eighth Prince and Zhang Ruochen were the sons of the Yunwu Commandery Prince. Why did the Eighth Prince have a more prestigious status that allowed him to kick Concubine Lin and Zhang Ruochen out of the Jade Palace?
The reason was fairly simple. The Eighth Prince obtained the “Sacred Mark” when he was only 10. Now, he had reached the Advanced Stage of the Yellow Realm and became a young warrior.
“As long as I obtain the ‘Sacred Mark’, I can cultivate the ‘Scripture of Emperor Ming’s Empyrean’. With the mysteries of the ‘Scripture of Emperor Ming’s Empyrean’, I can still catch up and become a warrior of Martial Arts, even if I have missed the best age of cultivation.”
Scripture of Emperor Ming’s Empyrean was the highest scripture that Emperor Ming had cultivated. Other than Emperor Ming, Zhang Ruochen was the only one who understood the entire technique of Scripture of Emperor Ming’s Empyrean.
“Tomorrow is the Ceremony of Worship, I hope that I can receive the qualification of the gods and open the ‘Sacred Mark’.” Zhang Ruochen grasped his fists firmly and faithfully. He had a strong desire to open the “Sacred Mark”.
After tidying up the room, Concubine Lin helped Zhang Ruochen to bed and softly said, “Chen-er, get some good rest. We need to attend the Ceremony of Worship tomorrow.”
“Mom, I am sure I will open the ‘Sacred Mark’ tomorrow! Trust me!” said Zhang Ruochen confidently.
“Okay, Chen-er, I believe in you!”
Concubine Lin looked into Zhang Ruochen’s eyes and gasped.
In fact, she did not carry any hope of Zhang Ruochen opening the “Sacred Mark”. He was already 16, and it was almost impossible to open it up now.
However, as a mother, she needed to encourage her child and gave him confidence.