A boy laid the middle of the road in the outskirts of the small village.
Bruises and gashes covered the young man from head to toe. The wounds still slowly oozed blood from his head onto the ground.
He laid where the local guards had thrown him after beating him. Behind the gruesome image of the broken and bloodied body was a handsome young man of 14 years of age. If it wasn’t for the savage beating the guards gave him for insulting the local lord’s son he would be considered quite a handsome boy.
“Don’t you dare look at the Lord’s son again it is insulting to him to have such a lowlife such as you look upon him” the head guard of the village yelled at him before they savagely beat him.
Rin regained consciousness his entire body ached and groaned as he tried pushing himself up. This wasn’t the first time the guards had beat him for such a small infraction, but this was more brutal than usual.
Rin estimated he had broken two ribs and numerous gashes around his body. Why the young Lord’s son hated him so much was a mystery to the whole village.
The Lord who was generally a fair man wouldn’t stand for such a beating being done to one of the people living under him, but he wouldn’t hear of this since Rin was an orphan with no family name or clan to call his own. Rin grinded his teeth as he pushed himself towards his small shack that stood on the edge of the old forest.
Since he was 8 years old he had to survive on his own in this small village. No one knew who he was when he emerged appeared from the old forest, but in a small place like this the few families and clans in the area where not willing to adopt an older child whom they knew nothing of. Rin had been forced to work for the village’s ruling clan since then.
The Zhan clan was small compared to most, but in this remote part of the world they were the dominate clan in eight of the local towns and villages. Since there Lord’s youngest son was considered a prodigy in martial arts he was being sent to the province capital to train as a warrior. The Lord’s daughter was already sent to the school a year prior and with the addition of his son and several other of their clan’s youth, the Zhan clan’s future seemed bright.
Rin’s black hair was caked in dried blood from the numerous gashes on his head. He came to the small creek near his shack and threw himself into the waters to clean the wounds.
Plunging into the water was all he could manage to do. Washing away all the dirt from his cuts was Rin's first priority.
The feeling of the cool flowing water cleansing his wounds. He grimanced as they stung from the cold waters. To regain some semblance of strength in his body he washed himself.
Beneath the blood and grime was a handsome young man. His normally wavy black hair clung to his face just above his rare green eyes.
Despite being 14 he didn't have any baby fat on him. The life of an orphan wasn't something that provided enough food for him to have baby fat.
Instead Rin was too skinny, but had enough lean muscle from working in the Zhan clan farms that he was tone.
Rin knew he couldn’t stay in this village any longer. He needed to get to the region’s largest city. Only there would he be able to throw off the shackles of bondage.
In this world only the strong could thrive and Rin needed to show the Lord he was worthy of being sent under the Zhan families recommendation. Only then can he get to the province capital.
Rin left the creek as he limped to his shack to rest and heal from his wounds.
The shack was no better than the old farmers toolshed that was partly cleared out. It was all Rin could afford on his measly salary.
He had managed to gain a couple marrow pills to help increase the recovery process. As quickly as possible.
The only way he would be able to be chosen, by the clan is if he could garner the Lord’s attention when he came to the village in two days to inspect who among the village youth were worthy of being sponsored by his clan.
Rin took out a bone marrow pill he had hidden beneath his pillow. This should help him heal before the Lord comes. Rin took the pill and immediately felt the healing effects take hold the ache in his body was subsiding. As he let his lids got heavy he gave a silent plead to the creator. Rin was doubtful anything would come of this. If the creator didn't see fit to bless his wretched life thus far why would he now?
Zhan Hui the Lord of the Zhan clan looked out at his trainees as they sweat profusely from training and smiled if one looked at him he seemed like kind middle aged man as his presence had always radiated welcoming aura to others.
The last couple years had been good to the Zhan clan and with the addition of another genius prodigy from his family they were destined to gain more influence in the surrounding area and even perhaps begin to have influence in the province capital. Something all clans in the province sought.
All they needed was to get a couple more youth to show even a small spark of talent and they could gain a foothold into the province capital.
Zhan Hui knew he would have to look outside the clan to fine another few whom his clan could sponsor. Tomorrow would prove to make or whether or not the Zhan clan rose this year or not to a minor clan in the capital or not.
Turning to the rest of the elders of his family who were chatting idly in the background of his pavilion Zhan Hui let out a sigh “Elders it seems we should pray for good fortunes tomorrow.”
“Do not worry Master Hui, we will be successful there are bound to be a few youths in one of the towns we control” one of the elders spoke up.
“I pray you are right” Zhan Hui looked back out to his trainees “we’ve worked too hard for us not to find some.”
The larger amount of students that Zhan Hui could deploy the better tbe Zhan family would look to the Royal faction.
Tomorrow would hopefully prove fruitful.
Overseer Ying called out stances rapidly as he told the group of 20 trainees to perform various martial arts forms.
"Flowing water dragon!"
"Fist of the viper!"
“The foundation of power is a strong body!” yelled Overseer Ying.
All the trainees groaned after having already trained for several hours they knew that Overseer Ying was going to push them even harder as the capitals annual entrance tournament was rapidly approaching within four months they would all be going to the competition and that meant extra-long practices before they journeyed out to the capital. All the trainees here were from the clan and had worked their whole lived to reach this point.
The strongest of this year’s group was naturally clan lords son Zhan Min.
Zhan Min his only equal was his sister who was already a student at the province capital.
Zhan Min’s fists cut through the air as he practiced the various forms Overseer Ying called out.
He grinded his teeth together grunting as his body had begun to feel the effects of fatigue.
“That boy yesterday has some nerve trying to beg him for a chance to see his father” Zhan Min thought as he let out his pent up frustration. Perhaps it was that the boy had the gull to ask him even after knowing who he was, but Zhan Min lost all sense of control as he slapped away the servant boy and though at the time he told the guards to give him a lesson he felt a slight pang of regret it was only natural for the weak to be attracted to the strong and father had always taught him to be compassionate to those who were under him.
Zhan Min let all his disappointment and frustration be channeled into his training. The Zhan clan was going to rise. Himself and his sister would be the leaders of this future and despite his disappointment in himself he still knew that this future was more important than his guilt.
I am on the cusp of reaching the first stage of the warrior ranks. Reaching the first rank of the warrior’s path was an immense accomplishment and many commoners never got to that rank. The warrior’s path was split into 9 ranks. Each rank often took people years to reach unless they got special training at a major city school or taught, by the elders and warriors of a major clan.
The sun beat down and many of the other students fell down from exhaustion. Sweat poured from every pore and soaked Zhan Min’s tunic.
Only Zhan Min and one other student still were able to train. Sweat drenched their training garbs.
“OKAY!” a voice boomed from above the training grounds “That is enough for today! Overseer Ying give each student a Marrow pill and let them recover from their fatigue tomorrow we go out to recruit for the clan” Zhan Min looked up to see his father smiling warmly. He would definitely fulfill his father’s wish of bring the Zhan clan into world stage.
Rin hadn’t spoken to many people so he wasn’t really sure what he would say to the Master of the Zhan clan. He had been training for years by himself with no guidance that he wasn’t even sure he could do anything that would impress him.
The village was bustling today knowing the Zhan clan would be testing many of the youth in the village it was an opportunity for families with no clan or no future prospects to break the vicious cycle of poverty their family was trapped in.
Soon from the caravan of carriages came an entourage of people lead by Zhan Hui the master of the Zhan clan. He stopped at the northern edge of the village square.
They sat down observing the crowd.
"All those who wish to be examined step forward now!" Overseer Ying yelled out.
The first volunteers rushed out mostly from the better off families who had given their children a basic understanding of combat.
As the first few preformed the elders remained unimpressed looks of boredom came across their faces.
Soon the blacksmiths daughter Li Ming stepped forward. She was considered quite a beautiful woman for her age of 14.
Li Ming stood in the center and took up the stance dancing lotus a basic skill commonly practiced by female martial artists. Females were better suited to moves that required agiltiy and quick reflexes over pure power.
Her moves while the elders could tell untrained and lacking in some areas would improve rapidly under a trainer. They immediately offered her the chance to become a inner diciple.
Li Ming was quite beautiful that all the trainees that were standing near the caravan gocked at her. Not one sane person vould doubt her beauty.
Her shoulder length black hair blew gently in the wind revealing her slender neck. Rin couldn't deny that he had been an admirer of her beauty for sometime.
Li Ming wasn't a tyoical blacksmith's daughter.
After several more youths tried to impress the elders. None were able to show enough potential to beconsidered worthy
As the last youth left the area. The elders clearly wanted to end it for the night as the day had begun to drag on.
"Thank you for your ti..."
Overseer Ying was interupted by a smooth young voice from the crowd.
Rin the orphan boy entered the town square. The crowd of people couldn't help but laugh at the youth that stepped forward.
"I still need to try out"
Rin strode out confidently.
The whole village snickered. "This Orphan brat thinks he has a chance?"
"My son wasn't strong enough how can this person possibly believe they will have a chance?"
The mummering from the crowd subsided.
Rin didn't have any particular talent besides that he trained himself in a single move he observed once. He prayed that it would be effective.
The town had stopped paying attention and some even began to turn away.
Concentrating all his mental energy and physical strength into his palm he striked the air in front of him. He swiftly turned and sent a powerful strike towards the air behind him.
The amount of power that erupted from his fist wasn't as powerful as usual. His wounds from two days ago were not completely healed.
That didn't stop the snickering from the townfolk.
Zhan Hui was mildly impressed by the display. It lacked form and wasn't utilized to its fullest, but if trained he would become a decent disciple for the Zhan clan. The town's citizens didn't see the big deal, but something this boy had was impressive.
"Surely we've been fortunate to have come across two with potential so quickly?" One of the elders said quietly to Zhan Hui who was smiling
"We've found our newest disciples and with them the rise of the Zhan clan would begin."
Zhan Hui waved over Rin who couldn’t contain the joy in his face.
"Welcome young man!" Zhan Hui's voice boomed "state your name."
"Rin my Lord."
Rin bowed lowly he simply wasn't high enough stature to talk casually to the Zhan clan head.
Zhan had a slightly puzzled look on his face.
"Young Rin do you not have a family name it is disrespectful to not state your family name to those over you."
Zhan Hui frowned surely he knew that he was speaking to the head of the Zhan clan.
Rin shifted uncomfortably where he was standing clenching his fists as he knew what would happen if he gave this answer.
"My Lord I am an orphan" he paused looking amongst the faces of the elders "I have no last name."