Once settled, the industrious ancestors of modern men soon embarked on one of the most ambitious explorations, which in due time would lead to breakthroughs in cultivation methods. At last, they developed land enough for the species to flourish and not simply exist.
From that time on, the species began to live and spread across the four continents, namely the Pure East, the Bleak West, the Misty South, and the Vast North. .
The Misty South included all the territory of the Stone City, which was inhabited by several prominent clans, including the Nan Clan.
The Nan Clan's dominance was in part due to its success in martial arts among the top three clans across the city. Besides, the clan's way of life also favored large families. In general, their section of the city was always abuzz. But tonight, the atmosphere was far more charged after the announcement that Nate would be crowned their next leader today. Nate was loved, both for his talent and charm among the people.
Compared to the bustling Nan Clan, the small shabby yard in the west appeared to be a little ill-adapted. A fair-skinned young man, who was somewhat troubled out of sorts, was sitting on the roof of the small yard. Looking at the bustling Nan Clan, he knitted his eyebrows tightly, a tinge of hatred slightly reflected from his glassy eyes.
With a sneer, he blurted out what was going through his mind. "Brotherhood? Clan? It is utterly ridiculous!" As he grumbled, he flatly smiled on impulse. Beneath his skinny, feeble frame, anger consumed him like a big, terrifying beast. As if under a spell, violent current jolted him, leaving his hands clasped so tightly that the fingernails cut into the flesh. He only realized it when blood began dripping on his palms.
This was Ricky Nan. Like Nate Nan, he was also a young talented master from the Nan Clan. In any way, he was much as Nate. Moreover, they had been bosom buddies, almost like blood brothers. The two young talented masters of Nan Clan enjoyed as much respect as those at the sixth grade of Skin Refinement.
However, everything was completely different now. Ricky had lost all his cultivation base and was now merely at the first grade of Skin Refinement. Thus, he was not a young talented master anymore, but a jerk in everyone's eyes.
All this was Nate's fault. Despite their close friendship right from childhood, Nate, set as the successor of Nan Clan, now treated Ricky like a stranger. And Gilbert, Nate's father, currently the Dominant Top Elder, was no better either.
Previously, Ricky's father had as well served as Dominant Top Elder. But one year ago, while on duty for the Nan Clan, he was raided by masked men. In that heinous attack, the clan suffered untold loss, including the deaths of dozens of outstanding disciples and almost a third of the clan's property.
The head of Nan's clan was infuriated so much that he immediately deposed Ricky's father as Dominant Top Elder and dumped him into prison on a life sentence.
Just as the saying went," When a tree falls, the monkeys scatter." Those who had avidly followed Ricky's father crossed over to other camps in Clan in succession hierarchy. To serve their new masters, the defectors had even deprived Ricky of something even more precious - his accumulated cultivation base at the sixth grade of Skin Refinement. Once they had emasculated him, they also took away his inferior three-star spiritual meridian.
Every cultivator had a spiritual meridian implanted in his body. Spiritual meridians ranked from one-star to nine-star in ascending order. At each star rating, spiritual meridians were subdivided into inferior, intermediate and top.
After Ricky's father was imprisoned, his followers fell subordinate to Nate and his father Gilbert.
But before Ricky's father went to prison, the old man had whispered a secret to his son. Nate and Gilbert were no doubt the people behind that damnable attack.
Now, Ricky had realized how unfair life could get in his clan. No matter how significant your contributions for the good of the clan, only one mistake could erase your name and send you to disgrace. For Ricky and his father, their lowest moment was made worse by the fact that Nate - a once close friend, had turned to betrayal and malice. Despite the previously sworn brotherhood, Nate was now the worst enemy, with his insatiable appetite for power and the clan's leadership.
"Father, I will take revenge for you and get back everything we should have deserved!" Ricky, still perching on the roof, solemnly swore to himself when he heard the endless bustling and celebration of Nate's coronation.
Thump! Abruptly, Ricky leaped off the roof and landed on the ground of the yard with a thud. Then, he straightly walked towards a wooden pile, swinging his fist back and forth towards the pile, in practice.
Although his three-star inferior spiritual meridian had been taken away, leaving him no cultivation base, he had worked hard in honing his skills back again. By now, he had recovered enough to reach the peak of the first grade of Skin Refinement. Not an easy task, the achievement came through a full year's efforts, sweat, and sheer persistence.
Diligence redeems stupidity. Ricky was just a diligent guy. Although he had lost his spiritual meridian, he believed there was hope for him if he cultivated hard enough.
Hooyah! Hooyah! A faint whiz sound followed Ricky's every move as he wielded his fists back and forth in front of the pile. In particular, he concentrated on perfecting his Whiz Fist, a Yellow Level intermediate cultivation method. The louder the whiz sound, the stronger the force produced.
Cultivation methods were absolutely necessary for warriors. Those who mastered skills had great advantages in battles.
Ricky knew cultivation methods were divided into varying levels, including Yellow Level, Black Level, Earth Level and Heaven Level methods. The Yellow Level was the lowest, while the Heaven Level was the highest. Ricky had no idea if there was any level higher than the Heaven Level. But he knew that cultivation methods at each level were classified into inferior, intermediate and advanced stage.
Every time when he made a fist move, he was contemplating how to raise enough whizzing to enhance his power.
Through years of arduous cultivation, Ricky, in fact, had figured out how to bring the might of his fists into full play for quite a long period. But now, the might of his Whiz Fist appeared quite weak. Of course, he knew it was because that he almost didn't have any blood vitality inside his petite body.
Blood vitality was essential for a cultivator to give his power into play. However high the level a cultivator had reached, a warrior's physical strength depended on blood vitality.
For someone with Ricky's ambition, it was needful to have blood vitality replenished by cultivation and food, especially meat and blood. However, it was also reported among the more spiritually inclined that a powerful master could directly restore their blood vitality by absorbing nimbus from the universe. Such a master would not have to rely so much on cultivation or nutrition.
Unfortunately, Ricky was but a humble, less spiritually endowed young master. Even worse, after his father's fall from grace, it was even impossible for the clan to offer him cultivation resources and nutrition for his advancement.
Could Ricky hunt beasts on mountains by himself? This would be more impossible. Since he was only at the first grade of Skin Refinement and physically weak in his current situation, there was no hope in sight that he would get anything. At this rate, it was likely he would end up neglected, ostracized and left to die a slow painful death from hunger. If not, then there was the chance of a beast mauling him to an even more painful death.
At the mere thought of the grim realities ahead, his anger, like a pot of brew, began to boil. In his eyes, vicious hatred took over. He pounded the wooden pile more ferociously until his fists began to bleed.
"Ahh! There's never a chance that I'm going to be reconciled!"
Soon, he bounced against the reaction force of the wooden pile, until at long last, he fell to the ground.
Deep in him, he knew that he almost had no blood vitality. He knew it all along. The real question was, what could he do about this? Sadly the answer was absolutely nothing!
The whole situation left him feeling helpless.
"Unless you enter the tiger's den, you can't catch its cub," he shouted at the top of his voice. By now, he had been lying there on the ground for quite a while, his eyes being as cold as snow.
While he lay on the ground, he had decided to go hunting for food in the mountains, the next day. If he only stayed and cultivated inside this small yard, he would reach a higher level. But for peak physical strength, he had no other way, but to take the risk and go hunting for blood vitality.
In addition, blood vitality was the only ticket for his return to form.
Whichever way, it was better for him to do something than to sit around in a pity party.
Entranced in what his next move should be, he didn't notice the blood on his palms flowing along his arms. He had forgotten about it all after he fell down. For a moment, he looked at the white bracelet around his right wrist. But he had never known which material the bracelet was made of.
As the blood flowed down his palm to the wrist in rivulets, the white bracelet arrested the flow by completely absorbing every trace that reached it.
Gradually, the white bracelet turned blood red. Not just that. It also began to heat up.
"What's wrong?" Ricky asked, startled at the burning sensation on his wrist. Then, he lifted his arm up to take a look.
What he saw was even more alarming. Slowly, the blood soaked bracelet was fusing into his wrist.
"What the..." Ricky stammered, scared out of wits by what was happening. What would he do?
In a short time, while worried and wondered, he found that the bracelet disappeared, fusing completely into his wrist.