Chapter 3 Talent
At the very end, the Old Granny clapped her hands. Seeing that she was the focus of everyone’s looks, her face broke into a proud smile.
Those who knew the Old Granny well would be able to tell that she probably had an announcement to make, and one which pleased her at that.
The Old Granny tried to hold in her smile as she said, “Xingchen’s test results are out.”
The jobs that humans could choose were divided into two big categories. One of them was the most common Warrior job, which was available to everyone.
The other one, Mage, was only for those with psychokinesis abilities. Generally, only one in ten thousand would meet the requirements for becoming a Mage.
If one was to state the difference between the Mage and the Warrior, it would be as vast as the difference between a Warrior who had already undergone the second job transition and one who had undergone the first job transition; or a Warrior who had gone through the third job transition and one who had gone through the second job transition. The Mage was akin to a killing machine, born to be above all living creatures.
Fang Xingjian, naturally, had gone through the same test long ago, when he had been young. It was too bad that he did not have the necessary talent to become a Mage.
Hearing that Fang Xingchen’s test results were out, and looking at the Old Granny’s expression, everyone was feeling circumspect.
The Mage proficiency examination ran a detailed test on the subject’s mental status, physical status, aptitude in psychokinesis and many other factors. The results of the test would obviously decide whether the subject had the potential to become a Mage or not.
Following everyone’s gaze, the Old Granny smiled as she looked at Fang Xingchen and said, “Seems that there’s going to be a Mage in our Fang Clan. The results of the test state that Xingchen has the aptitude to become a Red Robed Mage.”
“How… How is that possible?” Seeing this, second aunt’s face turned extremely pale. She knew that there was no way she would have the same standing as third aunt anymore.
Third aunt cried out, “Hahahaha, Red Robed! The talent to become a Red Robed Mage! My son is a Red Robed Mage!”
“Mage?” After being stunned for a while, third uncle said in a daze, “My son has the talent to become a Mage? My son is going to be a Mage! I am going to be the father of a Mage! Hahahahaha!”
The Old Granny looked at the dazed Fang Xingchen, who did not know what to do, then she smiled and said, “Xingchen, Granny has already registered you with the Mage Association. You’ll have to work hard to pick up Mage skills in the future.”
The whole scene was a mess, with gazes ranging from envy and jealousy to excitement, all directed towards Fang Xingchen. All of it made him the absolute star of the moment.
A look of yearning hung on Fang Xingjian’s face, but it eventually faded away, as he headed out of the hall.
“Young Master has the talent to become a Mage!”
“Did you hear? The tests showed that Young Master has the aptitude to become a Mage!”
“Is that the truth? Seems like our Fang Clan will finally have the chance to shine again, amongst the Five Great Clans.”
Walking along the long corridor, Fang Xingjian kept hearing the servants’ chattering. In but a moment, the news of Fang Xingchen having the talent to be a Mage had spread throughout the whole mansion.
There were also those who smirked when seeing Fang Xingjian.
The Old Granny had always doted on Fang Xingchen. Now that his aptitude to become a Mage had been revealed, Fang Xingjian, to whom the Old Granny had not taken a liking, would now lead a life even worse than usual.
Fang Xingjian was feeling a very complicated swirl of contrary emotions. While he felt happy that his younger brother had the talent to become a Mage, and happy for the prosperity that the Fang Clan would gain with this, he also felt a mixture of bitterness, jealousy and envy.
‘Why… Why was I not the one with the talent?
If I were the talented one, then grandmother would like me too, right?’
Fang Xingjian, in a stupor, unknowingly walked into a bamboo forest courtyard. He could no longer see any servants in the vicinity, as if he had entered another world altogether.
Soon after, he heard a lament.
“Ten~~years, ~~ dead~~and~~living~~dim~~and~~draw~~apart~~”
Hearing the lament, Fang Xingjian felt a surging feeling of loneliness and chilliness in his heart, as if all of his blood was going to freeze, and his life would forever turn dim and gloomy.
However, he was someone who had attained full experience for level 9 after all, and he was going to undertake the first job transition any time now. Given his developed physical attribute, he reacted right away and turned his head towards the direction of the strange lament. He saw a man in black standing ten metres away from him.
The man in black seemed very blurry, and the spot where he was standing seemed to be shrouded in a layer of black mist, as if he was an envoy from hell.
“Who are you? How dare you break into the Fang Residence?”
Fang Xingjian immediately realised that the other party was not a character who a low level Warrior not even past his first job transition could deal with. This was why he had hollered, in a bid to alert the other people in the mansion.
Who would have thought that right after he said that, the man in black would turn and point towards him? In the next moment, purple flames started leaping towards Fang Xingjian. Then he only felt the flaring purple flames engulfing him, as he cried out in agony.
“Young Master, Young Master?”
Fang Xingjian opened his eyes and noticed a servant standing in front of him and calling him.
The bamboo forest was still in front of his eyes, but there was no man in black in the courtyard. It was as if everything that happened had been an illusion.
He looked at the servant in front of him and asked, “Did you see that man in black? Did you see purple flames?”
“What man in black and purple flames? Young Master, you’ve only been standing here all along.” The servant was stunned for a moment as he looked at him in astonishment, then said, “Old Ancestress has asked me to summon you to the ancestral hall.”
‘Illusion?’ Fang Xingjian shook his head, still unable to figure out what had just happened. He could only put it aside for now.
He replied, “Grandmother asked me to go to the ancestral hall? Got it, I’ll go right now.”
Then, he headed for the ancestral hall, unaware of a small purple tattoo which had appeared at the bottom of the back of his neck.
Fang Xingjian lowered his head and entered the ancestral hall respectfully. The Old Granny was already standing in the middle of the ancestral hall, her gaze at the memorial tablets.
When the rich gained fame, they would tend to come up with things like pedigree and ancestral halls. Obviously, the Fang Clan was no different.
For the past few generations, all deceased members of the Fang Clan were immortalized in ancestral halls. The ashes of the clan’s ancestors were in the adjacent crematorial hall, where Fang Xingjian’s mother’s remains were also stored.
A complicated expression on her face, the Old Granny Li Shuanghua gazed at the tablet inscripted with the name Fang Yueru (Fang Xingjian’s mother).
Hearing Fang Xingjian’s footsteps, she did not turn around, but said, “You will be going through the first job transition soon?”
“Yes, I have reached level 9 for over a month now.”
The Old Granny nodded and said, “Where do you plan to go next?”
Fang Xingjian obediently replied, “I plan to enroll in the top Blue Mountain Academy.”
The Blue Mountain Academy was a school for Warriors led by the military. It especially nurtured outstanding young Warriors among the humans.
The Old Granny suddenly said, “You have not yet prepared the magic prints for your first job transition, have you? I’ll get someone to transfer you one million later, you can purchase ferocious beasts from the market to hasten the job transition.”
Hearing the Old Granny’s words, Fang Xingjian was so surprised that he could not believe what he had just heard. In Demonic City, the job transition process was based on magic prints, and magic prints required the extracted essences of ferocious beasts from the Other World.
All this while, Fang Xingjian had been struggling to find a way to lay his hands on ferocious beasts, but he certainly had not expected that his grandmother, who did not pay him any heed, would actually help him.
However, before the feeling of surprise had even faded, the Old Granny continued, “You won’t need to go to Blue Mountain Academy. I have contacted the Mage Association for Xingchen. After you’ve gone through the first job transition, you will accompany him to the Mage Academy.”
Fang Xingchen was stunned. “Mage Academy?”
“Before a Mage goes through the first transition, he is much weaker. It’s just ideal that you brothers would work together. I want you to be his apostle. You’re the elder brother and you will have to take good care of him in the Mage Academy…”
Fang Xingchen was no longer listening to what the Old Granny was saying. The word ‘apostle’ was still echoing in his mind.
‘A Mage’s apostle’ was a nice way of putting it. There was another name for it – the Mage’s ‘Slave’. It was a kind of dark magic through which Mages bound another life to their own. A Mage’s Slave would have to abide by the words of the one who performed the spell for eternity, and any damage inflicted upon the Mage could be transferred to the Mage’s Slave.
However, the requirements for being a Mage’s Slave were very tough to fulfill. Not only was one required to have good physical and intellectual abilities, the person also had to be someone who was related by blood. Fang Xingjian and Fang Xingchen were a good example.
Fang Xingjian had put in a lot of effort and he had worked hard for many years only to end up as a stepping stone for Fang Xingchen, only to contribute to his cousin’s strength.
Fang Xingjian laughed bitterly, saying, “Grandmother, you’ve never shown me any concern since I was a child. The year I turned six, when I fainted from fever and almost died, it was second uncle who sent me to the hospital. You didn’t even take a look at me!
“All these years, my monthly spending money have been reduced by second aunt, and I have been forced by third aunt to do all sorts of daily chores. I’ve put up with all these while you turned a blind eye to what was going on!
“Now that Xingchen has the talent to become a Mage, I am happy as well. But to think that you would want me to be his Mage Slave?!
“Grandmother, there’s only one thing I want to ask. Do you really see me as your grandson?”
“Bastard!” The Old Granny landed a slap on Fang Xingjian’s face, and looking at his stubborn gaze, she angrily asked, “Is this the way you talk to your elders?”
“If you treated me as your grandchild, I would naturally treat you as my elder! If you don’t even treat me like a human, it’s no wonder I wouldn’t respect you as an elder!” Looking at the Old Granny, Fang Xingjian resolutely declared, “I will definitely go to the Blue Mountain Academy. Even if Xingchen is my younger brother, I will not give up my life for him.”
“Haha!” the Old Granny laughed out in fury. “Since when were you the one to make decisions in this family?”
“When youngsters don’t know their place, it is only natural that the elders would make the decision in their stead. Your life? From the moment you were born, you’ve belonged to our Fang Clan. You grew up eating food from our Fang Clan. If it wasn’t for me, you would have long died of starvation in the streets! What life would you have now?”
“I will not go.” Fang Xingjian objected strongly. “Even if I were to die, I will not become a Mage’s Slave.”
With a cold snort, the Old Granny’s palm swung out, sending a strong hurricane towards Fang Xingjian. The force of a suffocating pressure landed on him, making him drop to his knees.
“Your life was given by me. You will live as a member of the Fang Clan, and when you die you will stay a ghost of the Fang Clan. You haven’t got the luxury to think about all this rubbish.”
“Xingchen is now the hope of our family, and you will be his shadow, protecting him for life, even if you have to die for him!”
“No one should have to die for another!” Fang Xingjian hollered. “Since you want me to become a Mage’s Slave, it seems that you do not see me as your grandchild. Therefore, from today onwards, I forsake you as my grandmother!”
“Hahahaha!” The Old Granny was so infuriated that her face turned pale, and a ray of cold light shot up from her eyes, seeming to freeze space over. She turned to look at the memorial tablet behind her and said, in anger, “Fang Yueru, take a good look! This is the bastard son that you have given birth to! He doesn’t know any shame, and even refuses to acknowledge his family, just like you back then!”
“Stop saying bad stuff about my mother!” Fang Xingjian’s face turned red, and all his muscles started to tremble as he struggled to stand up.
But… the godly prowess of one who was at level 30 was not something he could withstand. He heard the Old Granny give a cold snort, and with the outburst of strong pressure she applied, he was pressed down to the ground and lost consciousness.
The Old Granny Li Shuanghua let out a few cold laughs and headed out of the ancestral hall. Tens of Warriors in black clothes and armor kneeled before her.
They had formed through a secret job for the first job transition, passed down within the Fang Clan. The Old Granny Li Shuanghua was the only one who knew the contents of the magic prints. They were named Black-Crystal Armored Soldiers, and along with their first job transition, each of them would get a +3 increase in the strength attribute, a +2 increase in the agility attribute, and a +4 increase in the endurance attribute.
They were all wearing alloy armors weighing more than two hundred kilograms, equipped with high frequency long sabers manufactured by the military, and the latest magnetic rifles. Each of them was like a human tank, and together they represented Fang Clan’s most powerful elite troops.
“Keep your eyes on him. Don’t let him out.”
 A poem written by Su Shi, also known as Su Dungpo, a Chinese writer, poet, painter, calligrapher, pharmacologist, gastronome, and statesman of the Song dynasty. This poem was written by Su Shi when he was missing his late wife. The english version is an extract of a translated version by Burton Watson, an American scholar and translator of both Chinese and Japanese literature.