Quest For Realms
The divine continent was a beautiful land where peace and prosperity were everywhere to be seen, but there was evil lurking in the corners of the land. This evil was developing a method to extract life energy forcefully between heaven and earth, and she nearly succeeded. When she reached the end of her experiments, something horrible happened. She incurred the wrath of the heavens, that took the form of a lightning bolt, and struck the center of the divine continent, shattering it into 10 main islands and many isles. At the center, the lightning warped itself into a big black ball and out of it came otherworldly creatures called fiends.
A friend was a large monster and it came in many different variants with each variant having a different element. With this growing threat, humans had devised a strategy to become stronger by using life energy that is classified into realms. A realm is a level of power that indicates how far one is into the act of cultivating.
There are three known realms: The ‘Energy Focusing Realm’ where one could use the life energy in their body, the ‘Energy Gathering Realm’ where one could take energy from the heavens and the ‘Nature Realm’, where one could learn the various laws of the land. Each realm focused on one constitution of the body. Once one reaches the ‘Nature Realm’, they would not be considered a human, as they were now one with nature and would be called an Ascended Being.
Scott Tsurugi had been working on a farm since he was nine years old. He was an orphan; his mother had died while giving birth to him and his father had gotten lost long ago. Just before his mother had died, she told the nurses to name her son Scott Tsurugi. His foster parents had raised him until he was six, but couldn’t afford to keep him after, so they abandoned him on the side of a road in a remote village.
He lived his life on the road up until the age of nine when an old farmer named Alfred let him live on his farm, as long as he worked hard. Alfred was usually not as caring, but as Scott had such a cute and chubby face, he couldn’t stop himself from keeping him. With no other option for survival, Scott agreed and had been working on the farm for nearly a year.
During this time, he had always wished to be a swordsman and kill the fiends that Alfred told him about. After nearly one year of working on the farm, he saw some posters that talked about the trials for Slayers. The poster said that the top three places would be able to join one of the mainstream schools.
This trial happened once a decade and this time it was going to be hosted in a city, just a few miles away from the farm Scott worked at. Scott thought he was capable of winning the trials and leaving behind this tiresome lifestyle. He wanted to enter the world of the cultivators. However, to win he needed to cultivate, Soon, he had to buy a cultivation slip.
Scott went back to the farm and begged Alfred to let him go to the trials. After five days and nights of begging, Alfred gave in and let him go on his own. He had already gone shopping by himself once, alone.
Once he arrived at the city, he was greeted by a festival with stalls in every corner and street. He could see children queuing up to meet famous cultivators, but of course, Scott didn’t do any of that. His goal was to become one of those cultivators. He went up to a shopkeeper, a tall and spindly man who had pointy ears and bags under his eyes and asked him for direction.
“Excuse me, sir. Could you please tell me what the festival is about?” Scott inquired.
I didn’t expect a kid to be here, the shopkeeper thought. “Oh, this is a festival to celebrate the grand martial arts tournament,” he said, “That is why you came here am I right?”
“I want to participate and join the school,” Scott said.
“Kid, give up on that. You need to be at least 16 to qualify, and even if you could qualify, you shouldn’t go. You will have to fight other people and maybe even hunt some ferocious beasts,” replied the shopkeeper.
“But here’s an idea!” the shopkeeper came closer to him and said, “How about I give you a cultivation slip, so that way you can participate next decade?”
“Okay sir, but how much will I have to pay for the cultivation slip?” Scott asked.
“How about 30 Earthen Crystals.” said the shopkeeper.
An Earthen Crystal was the lowest value currency, followed by the Sky Crystal. The highest (known to the villager at least) was a Heavenly Crystal. Even the city folk weren’t lucky enough to see one.
“Sir, I only have 25 crystals,” Scott said, pulling out his pockets with the last crystal he had.
”That is fine. I’ll take 25,” said the kind shopkeeper, with a smile.
The Three Suns
And with that, little Scott had received his first cultivation slip. A cultivation slip was a small stone, the size of a playing card. This type of stone was very special because one could put information into it, making it a kind of book.
10 years may seem like a long time for people like us, but for the slayers, that amount of time can pass in the blink of an eye. Because their lifespan was so long, some slayers even spent hundreds of years in closed-door cultivation for long periods of time- 10, 11, 15, or 50 years even!
Once Scott got back, Alfred was already fast asleep. He went into his room to look at his cultivation slip. He felt stupid for not asking Fred, the shopkeeper, how it worked. He tried everything to get it to work and when he accidentally put it on his forehead, he could feel information pouring in.
It turned out that the name of the cultivation method he got was called ‘The Three Suns’. Usually, with each realm, you would have to change cultivation methods. But with The Three Suns, you didn’t have to. He practiced for weeks, whenever he got free time, to get the circulation of energy flowing through his body, but he never could. However, even though he was six years old, Scott was full of determination. He could get stronger and protect the people around him.
One night, when Scott was going through the cultivation slip again, after nearly a month of trying, he had found he’d missed something- all living beings had basic life energy in their cinnabar field (which was a very important and special position in one’s body), and that was where a cultivator would store his life energy. It acted as an extension of one’s body. It is also called the life gate. The cinnabar field is located between the eyes. This field is made of pure energy and, thus, it doesn’t affect the anatomy of a human. It would only be used if one could concentrate on it and activate it. To activate the cinnabar field, one must be able to first locate it by looking for energy fluctuations in the gap between the eyes, then draw out energy.
One full year had passed since Scott got the cultivation slip, and he was ready to open his cinnabar field.
He excused himself from work and finally got ready to open it. Two hours passed but it felt like a few minutes for Scott when he felt some energy fluctuations. He had finally found his cinnabar field! He took four more hours to open it, and after a full year of hard work, he could now start cultivating.
Once he had brought out the energy, he felt a wave of vitality flow through him as if he was reborn. He could feel the power, but he knew he was still too weak to win the competition. He decided to cultivate for the rest of his free time until he reached the 5th stage- the Energy Focusing Realm, and then he could learn some methods of an attack called Slayer Arts. Even though he could learn them now, he still wanted to reinforce his level before learning anything new.
Scott had turned 16 a few days ago. He was now a tall, strong, and handsome boy with red hair and striking blue eyes. He always had a smile on his face, as if he didn’t have a bother in the world, and had broken into the 5th stage, which was the Energy Focusing Realm.
For the past few years, while he wasn’t cultivating or working on the farm, he was going around doing a few odd jobs to earn a small amount of money. He wanted to buy some methods that use life energy as a form of attack.
Luckily, he got 15 Earthen Crystals as a birthday present from Alfred. Now, with a total of his earnings and his birthday gift, he had 366 Earthen Crystals. He decided to leave the farm and live elsewhere, as was the slayer’s norm.
Even at the age of 16, he was nearly as mature as a 25-year-old person from our world. He packed up all of his belongings, got a horse for 16 Earthen Crystals and decided to leave to a city where he could get some weapons and learn some new slayer art. A slayer art is a move developed by other slayers that can be used in a fight against fiends or even other slayers.
Scott got his horse and asked Alfred where the nearest city was. He pointed to the west, towards a city called Luminescence City. So armed with the location of the city, Scott mounted his horse and headed off into the desert. It took him one night and one day to reach Luminescence City.
He reached there at night and was greeted by a beautiful city; there were lanterns lit with purple and green colored flames and children running in circles and playing games. It was as if the city was having a festival, but in reality, this is how it was all the time. He went to an inn and decided to stay the night there.
The next morning he got up and decided to take a walk around the city. Normally, he didn’t get to appreciate the beauty of a bustling city. It wasn’t that rare to see a relatively small kid wandering around the streets here, but he did get some strange looks from people passing by him. His clothes weren’t as high-end as them, so in comparison, he looked like a poor beggar.
Scott pretended not to notice them and continued to look for a place to buy some slayer art. He couldn’t find one before nightfall, so he decided to go back to the inn where he was staying. The next day, he asked around. He asked the receptionist at the inn and learned that if he went to the city square on a Sunday, a lot of cultivation shops would pop up where he could find what he was looking for.
Scott didn’t have anything to do until Sunday, so he decided to take a tour around the city. While he was going around, he noticed a few people using their life energy to beat up kids for their money. These guys were only at the first stage of the energy gathering realm, but they were employing life energy to increase their strength, so the kids couldn’t fight back.
He went up to them.
”Hey. Why are you beating her up? Isn’t she telling you that she doesn’t have any money?” exclaimed Scott.
”Get lost, brat! Do you think you can stop us? You don’t even have a cultivation level yet!” retorted the gang leader. Little did they know that Scott actually had suppressed his cultivation so that they underestimate him.
“Step away from the girl, or else you will regret it!” Scott warned.
“Try us. I would like to see you stop me,” replied the leader.
“I am giving you one last chance.”
“Come on guys let’s get him,” said the leader boldly, and Scott sighed inwardly.
He got his energy flowing through his body again and launched at them. “Boss, he is at the 5th stage! I don’t think we can beat him,” whimpered one of the goons.
“We have more numbers. It will be fine!” the leader said as if to reassure himself.
Scott threw out a punch filled with such force that it threw one of them straight into the wall. He fell down and didn’t get back up.
“He is too strong, retreat!!” shouted the leader, finally, and all of them ran away. Scott went up to the little girl. “Hey, what’s your name? Are you ok?” Scott asked.
“My name is Betsy, I am fine,” the little girl softly replied.
“How did you get here? Where are your parents?” he asked.
“I got lost. Sir, thank you for helping me. May I please know your name?” she asked with a smile on her face.
“My name is Scott. Do you know where your parents are?” Scott asked her, concerned.
“Yes, I know where to go if I get lost.”
“Ok, can you go on your own?”
“Yes, Thank you for helping me,” she said, and with that Betsy left, hopefully back to her parents.
It was now Sunday, so Scott headed to the city square. He noticed that there were some shops selling strange things such as Hellish Toad Eyes or a Rampaging Dreyfus’s hide. He also noticed some other shops that sold cultivation slips and a few shabby places that sold some slayer arts, but they were too low quality to be of use to Scott.
At a discreet corner of the city square, he saw a shop called Slayer’s Surplus. They sold all the things that a slayer would need from cultivation slips, to weapons, and even slayer arts.
“Excuse me,” Scott said as he entered the shop, “Is it possible to get any slayer arts here?”
The shopkeeper looked at Scott with disdain in his eyes. He got up. He was short and stout with a ruptured nose and a dirty mustache. He sighed and said, “Yes, but it is a little bit expensive and it doesn’t look like you can afford to buy here.”
“It’s okay, sir,” Scott said with a smirk, “I have been saving up for some time. I think I can afford at least one book, but just in case, what is the minimum price of an Art?”
“Huh, whatever you say brat!” the shopkeeper replied smugly, “The minimum price is 175 Earthen Crystals.”
“Really!” Scott exclaimed, excitement shown on his face, “Then I can get one!”
“You’re not joking, right? Because if you are joking, then get out of my shop! If you aren’t, then I might even give you a discount for a weapon,” said the shopkeeper seriously.
“Ok, I always wanted a sword, so could I get a sword and a sword-based slayer art?” asked Scott.
“I don’t believe you! Show me your money, then we can make a deal!”
“Ok!” Scott said, and then proceeded to take 200 Earthen Crystals out of his bag. The shopkeeper was visibly confused, but he instantly got over his emotions.
”Ok, what type of sword would you like? Do you want one where you can get the hard hits or the one with a long reach?” he asked. His demeanor towards Scott had completely changed.
“I would like to be quick and agile,” answered Scott after some consideration. His reasoning was that if the enemy can’t hit you then you win by default.
The Lightning Bolt
The shopkeeper was confused. Usually, people asked for pure strength but this kid was asking for speed. However, despite his doubts, he had the perfect product with him, and it was quite unique. It was an Art that required a specific sword (which he had in his store).
“Well kid, I have the perfect sword and slayer art for you. It is called Lightning Bolt.”
The shopkeeper led Scott to his showroom and showed him the sword and book.
”This comes in a set, making them unique!” the shopkeeper said. “A set?” asked Scoot. “Yes, you can not use this method without the sword and vice versa. It is all about speed and precision. I think this definitely the best method that I have to focus on speed.”
“Ok, how much will you give it to me for?”
“It will be 300 Earthen Crystals, because it is unique!”
“300!” Scott said, surprised, “Ok sir here you go.”
He took 300 Earthen Crystals from his bag. “Thank you for buying here. I have a feeling you are special, so I will give you a space ring to store your sword and other materials that you might need.”
“Thank you very much, sir!” Scott quickly said before rushing off to practice with his new sword.
He went back to the inn and removed the sword from the sheath. It was beautiful, with intricate carvings, and extremely light. He got up and started practicing basic sword techniques that he had picked up watching guards training in the village. He did the thrust and parry.
The sword was so light, it was like it wasn’t even there. It swiftly cut through the air like a fish through water. When he used the slayer art’s book, he learned that the Lightning Bolt had three different forms. The first form was speeding, the second was accuracy, and the last was lightning. They were called: Lightning Swiftness, Thunders Precision, and Arc of Power, respectively.
He started to try Lightning Swiftness. To do this, he had to first learn the right breathing technique. He started to get in form and as soon as he took a breath, he instantly felt a bit lighter, as if he had been carrying a weight with him his whole life and it had been removed. He knew he was far from perfect, but it was a start.
After four years of intense training in the wild, he had finally mastered the first step of the Lightning Bolt. He was now as fast as a cheetah and as light and unpredictable as a leaf in the wind. This technique was one of a kind, so he knew that not many people would learn about it.
During this time he had also practiced the first sword technique- Lightning Swiftness, that nearly increased his speed tenfold and covered his sword in a layer of lightning. The lightning was too weak to do damage, but it helped the sword move without any resistance and made it even lighter than it was. He also refined his level, so he was now at the ninth stage of the Energy Focusing Realm.
He couldn’t learn the next step because it required him to be at the Energy Gathering Realm. This was so he could condense an artificial layer over his eye that could help him comprehend flaws in his opponent faster by increasing the capacity of what the eye sees. He still couldn’t go to the next realm because he lacked any experience with real or hard combat. But he knew he was now ready to go to the trials.
The Test of Strength
He headed to the venue of the Trials, which was coincidentally in Luminescence City. Once he got there, he was greeted by the same sight that he had seen four years ago – a beautifully lit city, but today it seemed a bit more extravagant as all the shops were closed and streamers were everywhere.
The streets were bustling with people of all ages. He knew he had arrived in time and went to sign up.
“Excuse me, is this the place to sign up for the trials?” asked Scott.
The girl behind the desk lazily looked up and said, “Yes, do you want to register?”
“Yes,” he said, “That would be great, thank you.”
“Please state your name and age,” she asked with a yawn.
“Scott Tsurugi, 20,” he said, proudly.
“Thank you. Please follow me. I will take you to the test and see if you are qualified to enter.”
“Yes, but don’t be scared. All you have to do is strike this stone. If it changes color, then you can participate, and if you break it or cut it, you move directly to the top 5. No one yet has broken through it yet,” she said.
“Not many people knew but this stone was from the adamantine mountain, and it’s so hard, even people who are at the Energy Gathering Realm can’t break it easily,” she whispered.
“Can I use my weapon?”
“Ok,” she said, least concerned.
Scott looked up at the stone and examined it to see where the weakest point of the stone would be. The place where he struck the sword would have to be the weakest, and where he could deal the most damage. He unsheathed his sword and got ready to strike. No one had yet broken the stone and he planned to be the first one to do so.
He got ready and changed his breathing, infusing some of his life energy through the sword. What he didn’t know was that he had actually comprehended Sword Intent that made him give off an intimidating aura. Sword Intent is a special realm for swordsmanship. It is extremely hard to cultivate and usually takes 50 -100 years to develop.
He took the sword back and gave it a swipe full of speed, directly at where he examined the weak point. As soon as his sword stuck, there was no sound. He had actually cleaved the stone in half, like a knife through butter.
The examiner looked at him in shock and said, “Please come this way, sir. I will register you in the finals directly, and your first fight will be against the strongest fiend we have. If you win, you have a chance of being selected by a first-grade school!”
Scott quickly followed him saying, “Are you sure I will get a chance to go to a first-grade school?”
“Yes. This year, a school of swordsmanship is going to be watching the trials.”
“Ok, thank you for the information. Will I be allowed to fight first? I want to get this over with.”
“Yes, I will arrange it for you.”
Scott went into the arena, ready to fight a fiend for the first time.
“For the first time ever, the trials will begin with the finals! This young man managed to slice the testing stone in half! Give it up for Scott Tsurugi!” exclaimed the commentator. “And on the other side of the arena, we have the ferocious Earthborne Kylver! This deadly fiend can control the element of earth to the second degree. It has been known to end the lives of even Energy Gathering Realm Warriors. How will our young contestant do against this behemoth of a monster? Let the fiend out!”
Scott got into his stance and adjusted his breathing. The monster came stomping out and gave a low growl. The Kylver walked out of the cell slowly and menacingly. It looked like a dog, except that it was covered in rocks, down to the area where the bones were meant to be.
The whole crowd tensed up; this was not a fight a normal person could usually watch, even in the trials. Scott decided to take the first move. He shot to the fiend with no weapon in hand, as if to fool it. Just before he hit the fiend, he took out this sword and swiped at its head to end it before it could do anything to him. Before he could hit him, the fiend caused the ground to shoot up around him, so Scott had no choice but to dodge. To the normal crowd, this was too fast to see. It looked like he had disappeared. But to the people who trained in a school, they could see everything clearly. The principal was watching the fight with great interest. He was a man with a simple mind, that had only the thought of a sword, thus he gave such a domineering aura that even the Nature Realm warriors would flee at the sight of him.
“He is fast, but speed isn’t everything in this fight,” commented the principal on the School Of Sword Arts.
Scott didn’t know what to do, so he decided to try and go faster, but before he could, the fiend charged at him. He dodged around it and swiped at its tail and cut it off. The fiend wailed in pain. It entered an enraged state and kept on charging with no plan, and as Scott kept on dodging and attacking, he felt something change. This time while the behemoth was running to him, he ran towards it and ran to the side of it. He cut off one of its legs, causing it to topple over, but as he did that, the fiend caused the ground to shoot up.
It hit him in the head and he blacked out. “I can’t give up. I must persevere; only then will I have a chance to become stronger and meet my father on the battlefield,” Scott exclaimed.
Suddenly, he felt a power surge into his body. It lifted him off the ground. He had just moved up into the Energy Gathering Realm. He had studied the theory behind the second part involving the Lightning Bolt and the Thunders Precision. His eyes started to glow blue, and he saw the world in a new light, as if he was looking through a keyhole his entire life and now the door had opened.
The lightning around the sword was stronger, and left an arc that moved one meter forward. Now, the behemoth also got back up, and Scott could see and predict every single one of his moves. When the beast charged at him for the last time, he found flaws and moved forward. He attacked the flaws with such speed and precision that the fiend died on the spot.
For the first half of the fight, the odds were stacked against Scott, but after he made it to the Energy Gathering Realm, he dominated.
It was time for selections. He looked up at the panel of judges with the sword in his hand.
“What an amazing fight! He completely ruined the fiend, and it looks like he even moved into the Energy Gathering Realm. Which school would like to choose him?” announced the commentator.
“The School Of Swords would like to add him as one of our disciples!” stated the principal of the cchool.
“Thank you, sir. I will not disappoint and will prove my worth to you!” Scott answered, beaming with pride.
He had finally fulfilled the dream that he had made a decade ago.
Abhinav Srinivasan is a 14 year old boy who has loved to read since he was young. He was born in May, in Coimbatore, the southermost part of India. He is a very active and naturally-curious boy. He has lived in Australia for about six years and has even climed to the top of the Harbour Bridge in Sydney. He likes music, and plays both the piano and the saxophone. His love for writing was kindled when he realized he likes the idea of creating his own world, that he can control, and share with all the world in an attempt to spread joy.