Chapter 3: The Left Hand of Darkness
On the mountain behind the academy, there was a small courtyard, within which a few small houses were found. The courtyard was slightly dilapidated, but this was still quite a scenic location with flowing creeks, as well as pleasant flora and fauna.
Within the courtyard, there was a white-robed figure with long black hair. Her head was bowed, and she was watering a small vegetable field with a watering can. As the seeds had been sown more than half a month prior, green seedlings had already emerged.
“Mother Yu! I’m back!”
Qi Ying pushed the courtyard gates open with an elated expression.
The white-robed woman raised her head upon hearing this, revealing a set of beautiful yet frail features. She had a pronounced, intricate nose and supple red lips, but her eyes were tightly shut. “Why are you back from the academy so early today? Are you ditching classes?”
“That’s right.” Qi Ying rushed over, grabbing the watering can from her hand with a wide grin. “I’ll water the vegetables… The academy organized history lessons for us new disciples today, as opposed to cultivation lessons. I learned all of that from you already when I was four years old, so there’s no need for me to attend. By the way, I completed a few missions in the academy today and received some pills as a reward.”
“Oh, not bad!” The white-robed woman did not seem concerned in the slightest that Qi Ying was ditching classes. “Let me see the fruits of your labor from today.”
Qi Ying quickly watered the last patch of vegetables before putting the watering can down and pulling out a jade vial. “Here! The teacher at the academy was really pleased with my efforts today and gave me almost an entire vial of pills!”
“Then, you have to be sure to keep up the good work.” The white-robed woman made her way over to Qi Ying, and her expression suddenly changed, “Energy Containment Pills? Where did you get so many of these valuable pills from?”
“Mother Yu, how did you know…”
Qi Ying was stunned that she was able to determine that the pills inside the vial were Energy Containment Pills. Even a normal person wouldn’t be able to determine what pills these were just by looking at the vial, let alone a blind woman like her!
However, the white-robed woman suddenly flared up with rage. “Kneel down, Qi Ying!”
Qi Ying sighed and placed the jade vial on the nearby stone table before kneeling down in front of the white-robed woman and lowering his head. This was something that he did every time he made a mistake during the past fifteen years.
The white-robed woman seemed to be very angry, as her entire body was trembling. She turned and searched for a thin bamboo cane on the stone table before whipping it into the back of Qi Ying’s neck.
“I don’t mind if you ditch your classes or are naughty from time to time, but how could you do something like stealing? Don’t you feel ashamed?” The white-robed woman’s voice trembled, and her body also began to shudder more violently. “I’ve always taught you to be a kind person and to refrain from benefiting yourself at the expense of others. But what have you done? How did you get these pills?”
“I didn’t steal the pills, I…”
Qi Ying wanted to refute her, but he swallowed his words in the end.
“You didn’t steal these? Then, you must have robbed someone!” The white-robed woman was even more enraged, “One Energy Containment Pill is the equivalent of three Great Strength Pills. There are eleven Energy Containment Pills in this vial, which equates to thirty-three Great Strength Pills. One of your fellow students would have to do chores for an entire month in order to get these pills. How much effort would that entail? You… you… I am so disappointed in you!”
“I’m sorry, Mother Yu. I was wrong.”
Qi Ying apologized in a quiet voice.
“You were wrong? No way! How could you do anything wrong?”
“Mother Yu, I really did do something wrong.”
“All right, then where did you go wrong?”
“I shouldn’t have robbed someone of their pills.”
“Hehe!” The white-robed woman raised the bamboo cane again before swinging it viciously into Qi Ying’s forehead. “Is that all? Do you know why I forbade you from cultivating before turning fifteen? I was afraid that you would use your superior power to bully the weak… You weren’t like this back when you were at Nameless City… If I had known that this would happen, I would have never brought you here to the Celestial River County, no matter how much you begged me… Waah… Heavens above, how did my Little Ying become this type of person… Have I failed in my parenting?”
“It’s not like that, Mother Yu… This vial of pills belonged to one of the Energy Martial Stage noble disciples from our academy. He’s always bullying other disciples with more humble backgrounds and extorting crystals from them as protection fees. Furthermore, I’m only borrowing these pills from him. I told him that I would give him an entire vial once I reach the Energy Martial Stage…”
“Nonsense! You’re only at the Seventh Strength Martial Stage, and you expect me to believe that you defeated an Energy Martial Stage disciple?”
“It’s true! He was way too weak and he didn’t even know how to make use of his Energy Martial Stage power. All he did was throw straight punches and he was even slower than a sloth, so I managed to defeat him with ease. He gave me these pills, and I also thought that they were too valuable for me to take without giving anything in return, so I told him that I was only borrowing these pills and that I would repay him in the future.”
“Is that the case?” The white-robed woman’s expression eased slightly before turning cold again. “That’s still unacceptable! You may have subdued him today, but what if he gets other people to start trouble with you tomorrow? People like us have to stay away from the nobles! Their circle is an extremely complex and sinister one; how will you defend yourself from their malevolent intentions?”
“I told him that if he dared to seek revenge, I would ram a sh*t-stirring stick up his a*s if I don’t die.”
“What did you say?”
“I said I was going to ram a sh*t-stirring stick up his a*s.”
The white-robed woman couldn’t help but burst into laughter. To Qi Ying, she looked so beautiful when she laughed, even though she had her eyes closed the entire time.
“So be it. Stand up. From what I can gather, I feel that you weren’t the one who instigated these events, so two strikes with my cane is enough. Remember to stay away from those nobles and, ideally, just refrain from speaking to them at all. In particular, the noblewomen are toxic like poison, so don’t even let them get close to you, understood?”
Qi Ying stood up and made his way behind the white-robed woman before laying his hands on her shoulders to give her a gentle massage. “Please don’t be angry, Mother Yu. How about I take you out for a walk? There are Azure Lotus Fish in the creek outside. Would you like me to roast some fish for you?”
“Hmm… All right, then.”
Qi Ying latched onto the white-robed woman’s hand and led her out of the courtyard.
However, he was suddenly struck by a sense of unease as soon as he made his way to the gate of the courtyard. A familiar pain spread from his left hand, and it felt as if all of the blood within his entire body were surging into his left arm, thereby emptying his entire body. It was a feeling akin to having ten thousand ants biting viciously into his left arm while the rest of his body had been plunged into a glacial pit… Similar scenarios had taken place countless times throughout his life, but ever since he had begun cultivating about half a month prior, the situation had been exacerbated. That pain was a result of insufficient energy within his body, and as his cultivation base continued to improve, the pain became more and more intense…
Under most circumstances in the past, Qi Ying would have been able to hold on momentarily and swallow a pill. The energy within the pill would then ease his pain and settle his left arm.
However, the pain was far too severe this time, and Qi Ying’s mind went completely blank as he fainted on the spot…
Qi Ying gradually came to his senses.
He let loose a light groan and opened his eyes. He was greeted by the sight of a wooden ceiling, and he turned to find a white-robed figure sitting beside him.
“You’re finally awake.” The white-robed woman heaved a sigh of relief. “Thank heavens we had that vial of Energy Containment Pills. They are much more effective than the Great Strength Pills, and I fed you three, so you probably won’t suffer a relapse for a good while.”
“Remember to take some pills as soon as you feel any discomfort. Even if you don’t experience any symptoms, make sure to take one Great Strength Pill per day. Your cultivation base is getting higher so it’s requiring more and more from you… That thing really is a bottomless pit…”
“Mother Yu… what exactly is this thing?”
Qi Ying pulled his left hand out from under his blanket. His clothes had already been stripped away, along with his shiny silver glove, thereby revealing his left hand, which was significantly different from a normal person’s hand.
The white-robed woman’s hand was fair and smooth, as was Qi Ying’s right hand. On his right hand, he had long fingers that were a little tender, but his left hand was a completely different story. It was completely inky-black in color. Furthermore, that darkness didn’t just encompass his left hand. Instead, it extended all the way up to his forearm and only disappeared after reaching his elbow.
On the black portion of his left arm, the skin, muscle, and bone were all as hard as metal. No, they were countless times harder than metal. At the very least, Qi Ying had never encountered anything that had come close to damaging his left hand and forearm. Even the treasures used by warriors were unable to put so much as a scratch on them.
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