Chapter 1 – The servant who sweeps
A new day begins, and Kai Yang woke up. He cleaned up and took the broom lying in the corner of the small room and walked out. Standing at the front door, he stretched a little. He looked up at the touch of grey in the dawn sky and closed his eyes while breathing in deeply. He was enjoying this moment of peace, before reopening his eyes to start sweeping the ground, cleaning away the dirt and leaves.
Dressed in black clothes that were simple and clean. The aged clothing colour for no reason, highlighted the youth’s loneliness and years of isolation here. Kai Yang’s spine was as straight as a javelin, and with his face had a meticulous expression. Even though he was completing the lowest ranked job. His actions were very calm, he didn’t exert much force on the broom, his body didn’t even move that much. With only the rotation of his wrist, the broom moved effortlessly. When his body moved, the dust and trash on the ground seemed to magically accumulate in one place around him, just like they had grown a pair feet.
Kai Yang was the Sky Tower’s experimental disciple. For three he had trained in the school, but he had only reached the tempered body third stage. Yet the other disciples that had entered at the same time as him had long surpassed him and reached higher stages. They were all able to enter into the main building, pay their respects and make advances towards their futures. While he can only lament about his inadequacy in the outer courts.
The tempered body third stage in three years cannot be called bad or good, but really, really mediocre.
Helplessly, Kai Yang could only continue to sweep out here in the outer court. Working hard to support himself and working hard in training.
Sky Tower School is a very unique school. This uniqueness is seen through the ruthless competition between disciples. In the school, the strong are like kings, while the weak are eliminated. The strong eat the weak; the law of the jungle, in the Sky Tower School is actively followed by all.
In other schools you may be able to school friendly competition, brotherly bonds and people working together to achieve the same goal. But in the Sky Tower school, you will only be able to false bonds, in order to use each other and rise in power. Stepping over each other’s bodies is the only way.
Under Sky Tower’s strict system, it’s well-known throughout the entire Han Dynasty. Although the grounds were not that large, but due to the brutal nature of their disciples, their might is second to none! This is also because, each disciples’ skill is like a tiger and walking out, no one in all the rivers and lakes dares to provoke them.
Though the Sky Tower School has one rule. That’s to fourteen year old disciples, the first three years of their acceptance is considered the testing phase. In these three years, all of the disciples food, clothing, shelter are provided by the outer court. Disciples only need to focus on cultivating. If in these three years you can breakthrough the tempered body, then you are able to enter the inner court to pay respects to your elders and become their students. Of course you don’t need to have a teacher and practise on your own, but the difference in learning by yourself and having a teacher is very large. In a way, the Sky Tower rules do have some flexibility and freedom.
In those three years if you don’t break through, then you can either leave the school or be demoted to an experimental disciple.
Experimental disciple is Kai Yang’s current status! He is also Sky Tower School’s shame!
Compared to normal disciples, their treatment is very different. Experimental disciples must provide for their food, shelter, clothing, for the outer court will no longer waste cultivating resources on these trashes. Once demoted to experimental disciples, you basically can never advance. Unless you manage to increase your cultivation level quickly. Only then will the school let you attempt to become a true disciple.
The entire Sky Tower consists of three thousand disciples, while the experimental disciples? You can count them on your ten fingers! Kai Yang has faith that he can become a true disciple!
For experimental disciples who want to survive in Sky Tower, is like wanting to reach the heavens. Take Kai Yang for example, the current hut that he is living in was built by him, one log at a time. The holes on the small roof, he doesn’t even have time to fix them. When it rains, the water can’t exit properly and builds up in the room. He buys his own clothes, his food he got himself, he is responsible for all his own needs.
Kai Yang’s small hut is in the school’s most remote and most uninhabited location.
Generally with such horrendous treatment, it is difficult to endure. That is the reason why the school only has a very small number of these disciples. Most who couldn’t breakthrough the tempered body chose to leave, but Kai Yang stayed.
Already been kicked out, how is ok?
A few months before, when he was made a experimental disciple, Kai Yang accepted a sweeping job to provide for himself.
Right now Kai Yang was both an experimental disciple and the tower’s little sweeping servant. But just by sweeping to maintain a living is hard. There are times when he is cold or hungry, in this life he had chosen this path. Even so, he didn’t play the drums of retreat, because in this this life he had chosen this oath and must continue down it. That was what men did.
In Kai Yang there was toughness, if you don’t hit into the brick wall, then don’t look back type of toughness!
(TLN: Chinese idiom, to continue on with your own decision/idea/plan)
The sky gradually began to light up as he swept. Cleaning the trails, sweeping dust from the space.
Even though sweeping itself didn’t use a lot of energy, but without food or drink since the morning and constantly moving, Kai Yang was covered in sweat. This had nothing to do with strength, by his physique was very poor. Two out of three meals he was hungry. For anybody living like him, how could their physique be good.
Gradually Sky Tower disciples surrounded him. These disciples had woke up early, not to cultivate but to look at him. They had great interest in Kai Yang, looking at him with avid gazes like they were staring at a naked beauty. A sweet fragrance like juicy meat bins wafted.
Among those Tower disciples gathered around Kai Yang, there was also a tense competitive atmosphere in the air. Looking at each other warily, all held an unfriendly look.
Someone in the crowd softly said: “So many people, it’s a bit excessive ah.”
It was that moment they said: “Do you think anybody can walk this path huh. Nobody wants you to stay.”
That statement made the person who spoke embarrassed. For everybody body knew why they were gathered hey, why they were all looking at Kai Yang, all waiting for that moment to come. The deadline was about to arrive, leaving now was not a pity? If you can grab the funds, and today it is also a harvest.
The commotion next to him, Kai Yang naturally knew, though his expression never changed. They will parade themselves every five days, six times a month. He has already gotten used to it, nothing to make a fuss out of. He also noticed the amount of people in front of him had decreased, they probably had not all arrived yet.
(TIN: Wow, these guys are really bothered to come there six times a month. Don’t they have better things to do?)
As he was being discredited, he turned a blind eye to the people next to him and began to sweep.
Following the passage of time, the people around Kai Yang gradually increased. There was roughly thirty-forty people present.
Kai Yang suddenly stopped and sat down in the middle of the road. Slowly he breathed in the early morning air to restore his own physical stamina.
At this movement, the people gathered around him all spread out and surrounded him, with Kai Yang as the centre. A tense atmosphere filled the air, it was as if the air no longer flowed.
No one looked at each other pleasingly, but all looked intensely at Kai Yang.
If people were to see this crowd, they would hold the misunderstanding that expert was in the middle. Or else, how could so many people surround one person like that? In reality, Kai Yang was only a experimental disciple with a tempered body, third stage. Any of the people present, were stronger than him.
“Kai Yang, no need to bother. Why don’t you just obediently lie down on the ground so I can beat you and save some time?” Seeing him like this, they really held disdain.
How much energy can a tempered body third stage restore? You are going to lose anyway, so why linger?
“Hear, Hear. Kai Yang, please think about our fellow disciples feelings too. We are not like you, after this game we need to go practise.”
The statement was to let Kai Yang quickly submit and let them beat him. Making the act of restoring his internal energy disrespectful to them. Though he just turned a deaf ear, like Buddha Lao.
Time continued to pass by, suddenly the melodious Tower bells sounded. It reached the ears of all the disciples surrounding Kai Yang and himself, startling the disciples. The bells tolled nine times, and from the east the sun rose. It was a new day! Everyone’s breathing calmed down, helplessly looking at Kai Yang as he slowly got up. He took up his broom and glanced at the people encircling him.
“Choose me Senior Yang!” Shouted a person. “I strike lightly, I can guarantee you no pain!”
“Rubbish! Choose me, I will be merciful. I will end it in one fist, and I promise not to waste everyone’s time.”
It was very clamorous, just like in a marketplace where vendors were trying to sell their produce and competing on whose produce was fresher.
“Kai Yang, you can choose your own opponent!” Someone reminded.
Kai Yang chuckled, readily he lifted his broom and threw it to the sky. The dozens of pairs of eyes looked up, full of expectation, waited for the broom to fall whilst praying: “choose me, choose me!” Time seemed to slow down, the broom turned a few times in the air and immediately fell on the ground with a loud boom, no longer moving.
The broom head pointed into the crowd to a burly teenager. A regretful sound, the crowd full of resentment and resignation. But that burly youngster laughed out loud and rushed out: “Fellow disciples, this brother won this battle today, but hopes fellow disciple do not blame me.”
“Che, lucky bastard!” One jealously said.
“Why couldn’t it choose me, for I come every five days, for a month! Kai Yang you aren’t doing this on purpose are you?”
“Don’t mention it, I have already come for a full three months and not once was I chosen!”
“Brother, you are more miserable than me.”
“Not miserable, not miserable, watching a good good show.” The two brothers looked at each other, smiling secretly to in their hearts.
In the courtyard, the others had already dispersed, leaving only Kai Yang and the burly teenager looking at each other.
“Experimental disciple Kai Yang, tempered body third stage!” Yang Kai introduced to his opponent.
“Ordinary disciple Zhou Ding Jun, tempered body fifth stage!” The burly teenager introduced.
Sky Tower disciples were also ranked. From bottom to top are the ordinary disciples, lower base disciples, elite disciples, and core disciple; the five ranks. Zhou Ding Jun said that he was an ordinary disciple, that means he has yet to pay his respects and doesn’t have a mentor. If the breakthrough of the tempered body disciple had a mentor, then their status would be higher than those ordinary lower base disciples. And those elite disciple were selected from the best lower base disciples.
As for the core disciples, they were treated as the hope of the next generation of the Sky Tower School and thus cultivated accordingly.
The awe-inspiring disciple hierarchy, though it seems unreasonable it can stimulate the younger generation into the fierce sense of competition, which is the foundation of the brutal Tower regime. This is the main reason why Kai Yang fought countless people, another rule of Sky Tower, the Challenge Rule.