In the Tang Qin Shang Empire, strength was everything and magic ruled the world. It was said that from birth, a child could already sense mana in the world and have an idea about the kind of element they had an affinity for- Water, Air, Fire, Earth, Light, Darkness, Space, Time, Wood, etc. People having affinity for two elements were very rare, not to speak of three elements. Those born with four elements were considered legendary.
But one day, a child was born useless; a total trash in a world where power was everything. Unfortunately to make matters worse, his face was disfigured which made his father, General Lei, despise him. For General Lei, his newborn child was cursed; a stain on his unblemished name.
General Lei strongly believed that the child was sent by the heavens as a punishment because he betrayed his one true love by having an affair with a low-born, despicable and conniving servant who once tended to his beloved’s needs.
The pitiful nameless child came to realise that his father had not been fair to his naïve and innocent mother because she wasn't the type of person to seduce anyone. But General Lei tried to paint himself white by throwing dirt and blame all over the child’s mother. Fortunately, the truth could not be hidden forever. There were people who knew that it was the General who forced himself on his wife’s servant girl and the fruit of that ugly misdeed was the child without a name.
The child had figured out the truth and understood his mother’s grievances, but just like her, he couldn't voice out his resentment and his pain.
When the incident was discovered by the legitimate Mistress of the Lei Manor, she had ordered both mother and new-born child to be thrown out of the Manor. From that day onwards, the mother and son pair who only had each other were forced to live in a deserted, thatched house by a hill in the forest, far away from the Lei Manor.
“Mother, why do I not have a name like other people? Please give your son a name!” The child pleaded, but his mother showed a solemn expression, one that he had become accustomed to and hated seeing the most.
“Don’t be sad mother…” he mumbled softly, “I don’t mind not having a name.” The child tugged on his mother’s sleeves and tried to smile to lighten her mood. She ruffled his hair and smiled back while apologising, “I am sorry for being so useless son… I am so sorry.”
A tear slipped down from her eye, but she quickly raised her sleeve to wipe it off because she wanted to be strong for her precious and only son. She looked up to the sky and closed her eyes, her mind travelling to her distant past, a past that was engraved in her memory, a memory that was bittersweet.
The powerless child soon found out the reason why he could not have a name. It was because his father’s beloved wife had forbid his mother from naming him. Of course, his father supported his dear wife’s unfair demand despite the pleas and beggings of the boy's mother.
When the child turned four years old, his mother passed away in her sleep. Since he was only a child, he didn’t understand why his mother did not wake up. He thought she might be sick and decided to find someone to help her. Nobody had ever cared to visit them, so he had to walk all the way from the depths of the forest where he and his mother resided to the relatively distant Lei Manor. He wanted to tell them that his mother's body was cold and she wouldn’t wake up no matter how much he called out to her or shook her body.
The mother had lost a lot of blood during childbirth and hadn't been in good health ever since. If only she had been given prompt medical attention and proper treatment, she could have regain her health; then her son wouldn't become a motherless child at such a tender age.
Unfortunately, she eventually passed away due to the lack of care from the Lei Manor or from the child’s father who had taken advantage of her before and was responsible for all her sufferings.
However, before she died, the mother managed to bequeath the only treasure she possessed to her son. She weakly said, "I do not have much to give you child, I only have this." She brought out a tiny, rusted ring and put it on her son’s last finger, "I am so sorry for being such a terrible mother. My only wish is that you'd find happiness.” She held the child’s little hands and squeezed them tenderly, her eyes were bright with suppressed tears. Despite her not crying the child was not as strong and silent tears began to stream down his cheeks.
“You are a little strong man. And my dear, men don't cry.” She affectionately wiped his tears with her shaking hands, and the child nodded fervidly in agreement with his mother’s words. At that moment, he thought, if I don’t cry and remain strong, maybe mother will stop been so sick.
The child tightly held onto his mother’s hands as he watched her gasp out shallow and pointless breaths. The mother rested on their one bed made of animal hide. But the child seeing how frail his mother looked couldn’t help feeling fear and pain in his heart.
“Never remove that ring child… Never lose it, either." She entreated hoarsely after much struggle.
"Why? It looks useless." The innocent child was just four years old, so he was naïvely curious. After observing the dull-looking ring, he wondered why his mother put so much store on it, to the extent that she even warned him to lose it. His curiosity temporarily distracted him from his fears.
"Although it might look useless, it wasn't rusted and worn out when I found it at an abandoned temple." She explained while smiling sweetly at her child. There was something hidden in her eyes but the child was too distracted to notice her expression.
"It really didn't look like this?" The child asked doubtfully as he looked closely at the old, oxidized ring on his finger.
"Do you think mother would deceive you?" She sternly asked.
He immediately shook his head, "Mother could never deceive me, her one and only son.” He moved in to place a peck on his mother’s forehead. His answer and action were quick without hesitation or any extra thought about his mother's question. He joined his mother on the bed and she wrapped her frail arms around him, smiling all throughout. He knew that his mother loved him the most and as such, would never lie or deceive him. He was his mother’s everything as she was his. They depended on one another to survive in this cruel world.
At that moment, the child’s mother coughed lightly before placing a kiss on his forehead, "That's my boy!" She looked at her handsome angel who everyone despised because he couldn’t cultivate and was unimaginably ugly. She didn’t look at his outward physical appearance, but at what was within; and she was proud to be the mother of such a pure, innocent soul.
"That ring was shining brightly when I found it, and it was golden in color. It also gave off a unique aura. Son, I might not know it's use, but I think it's very important." She assured him.
"I promise to keep it safe until I take my last breath, mother." His vow made his mother beam. In the eyes of the child, his mother was truly beautiful, if not the most beautiful in all of Tang Qin Shang Empire; the very best mother. He grinned happily in her direction.
She raised her hands and held her charming son’s face, “I am sorry for not being able to be with you to the end of your time. But one day, you will find someone to accompany you for all of your eternity. Until then, you must remain strong." Her hands then slumped to her side, her smile vanished and her eyes closed.
The young child assuming that his mother must be very tired, decided to sleep as well. When he woke up, he saw that she was still sleeping. He waited by her bedside patiently, but she did not wake up even though a day had gone by.
He felt hungry and restless, but he couldn't bear to leave his mother alone and go foraging for food in the woods like she had taught him before. What if she woke up and needed me desperately, he thought with a frown.
The child finally realised that something must be seriously wrong when his mother’s body started emitting a strange stench. So, he ran to the Lei Manor despite his mother warning him never to go there. The child didn't want to disobey her but he had no choice. He didn't know where else to go for help.
When he arrived at the Lei Manor, one of the guards noticed his poor appearance and barked at him harshly, "The Lei Manor isn't a place someone like you can just walk into."
He then proceeded to push the child to the ground despite the child’s tearful gaze, "But mother has been sleeping for three days now, and I think she is really sick. I want to tell father that mother needs a physician." Though his whimpering pleas were ignored, he couldn’t give up because he knew his mother hadn’t woken up for three days already.
A palm landed on one of his cheeks which immediately caused him to feel dizzy. His young mind couldn’t process what happened until he heard a small, feminine voice screech, "Who is your father?"
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